Friday, September 4, 2015

Book Review: Apartment Therapy Complete + Happy Home by Maxwell Ryan and Janel Laban

If you enjoy looking at pictures of rooms that are beautifully put together, this book is for you. The photography in Apartment Therapy's latest book is superb and features many ideas that you can adapt for your own living space.

Apartment Therapy Complete + Happy Home begins with the basics, from describing common house styles to defining various design aesthetics.  (Do you like eclectic collections, prefer classic glam, warm industrial, or simple chic?  I think I'm a mix of new traditional and contemporary cottage.)

The next sections of the book break down types of flooring, window coverings, lighting, and art.  Many pages of sample rooms follow, and the writers share practical ideas for getting the look you want for your home.  The back of the book contains suggestions for outdoor spaces and tips for organizing and cleaning your house.

This 320-page volume truly is a complete guide to planning, decorating, and maintaining a lovely home.  It releases September 15th, but you can pre-order it now at Amazon or other book retailers.

Blogging for Books provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.  All of the opinions expressed in this post are my own and I was not compensated for this review in any other way.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Where Is Your Faith?


"And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him."  ~Luke 8:24-25

As I read this passage yesterday, I thought about how often Jesus could ask me this question.

I've been praying about several situations lately.  I ask God for His will to be done, for His way to be made clear....then I step out into my day and begin worrying about how things will play out.

Rather than fully surrendering to His will and trusting Him to work it all for His good, I fight to take control and, if I can't actually effect change in the situation, I at least think I need to spend time going over it in my mind and feeling anxious about the outcome.

Then I realized how the disciples responded.  They said, "What manner of man is this!"  These followers of Christ were amazed that the winds and the seas obeyed His command.

In this moment, they didn't fully understand who Jesus was.  If they had truly recognized Him as the Son of God at this point, then they shouldn't have been amazed at His control over His creation.

Yet isn't it the same with me and my doubts?  Don't I tend to forget what an all-knowing, all-powerful, and loving God I serve?  The more I know about my Savior, the stronger my faith will be.  As I truly rest in His goodness, mercy, and grace, then I can have the faith that I need to completely trust Him.

Let's ask God for His help to have the faith that we need for this day!

Monday, August 31, 2015

2015 Goals: August Update

August was certainly a full month with our family vacation, the start of cheerleading for one daughter, eye doctor appointments, back-to-school shopping, and the beginning of a new school year for both girls.

Here's how I did with meetig my yearly goals in August.

1.  Read through the Bible in 100 days. 

2.  Write a new, very specific prayer list for my husband and my children at the beginning of each month.  Done in August.

3.  Spend one hour with each daughter each month doing an activity that she likes to do.  I did some back-to-school shopping with just my younger daughter, then we visited the pet store and Biggby Coffee.  My older daughter and I did a run to Chick-fil-a for milkshakes together while my younger daughter was at cheerleading practice.

4.  Send a note or e-mail of encouragement to someone every week.  Don't know why I've struggled with this lately, but I only did this two weeks in August.

5.  Complete my reading plan each month.  Didn't quite make it this month.  You can read the full report here.

6.  Exercise for 25 minutes a day, 4 times a week.   Done in August.

7.  Eat at least 3 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.  I only missed this a couple of days in August.  We had a delicious honeydew melon and a couple of pints of blueberries - along with plenty of other produce - from our Bounty Box this month.

 8.  Complete Copyblogger's collection of 15 ebooks and implement 5 changes to my blog by June 30.  I did nothing with this in August.

How are you doing with your goals?

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Saturday Salutes

First Day of School

I liked the printable list of Back 2 School Lunch Ideas at Lil' Luna.

Lisa says that Sometimes Love in Marriage Comes Down to the Smallest of Things.

I found a site with cute dresses and skirts at Mikarose Boutique.

Christy shares Two Powerful Forces That Drive Your Teen's Activities.

I really enjoyed listening to Kevin Leman's Sound Advice for Today's Parents at the Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast. 

I'm always on the search for a great brownie recipe and this one that I made on Tuesday is now at the top of the list - Thomas' Fudgy Brownies.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, August 28, 2015

5 Books I Read in August

I'm surprised that I was able to read as much as I did in August!  It was a very busy month, but here's how I did with the books on my August reading list.

SpiritualThe Sovereignty of God by Arthur Pink.  Honestly, I only read half of this book.  While I could have plowed through it, I kept getting bogged down in the debate between God's sovereignty and man's free will, and didn't feel like I was getting what I expected from this book.
Marriage:  What Did You Expect?  Redeeming the Realities of Marriage by Paul David Tripp.  I'm enjoying this book so far....which means I didn't get it finished this month!  Thanks to the Kindle, I know I'm only about 15% into the book, so I'll hope to finish it up in September.
ParentingRaising Great Kids:  A Comprehensive Guide to Parenting with Grace and Truth by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.  This book dealt with the following six character traits that the authors believe we need to help our children develop:  connectedness, responsibility, reality, competence, morality, and worship/spiritual life.  I like how the authors related these to each stage of childhood, and - since I'm dealing with this stage - a couple of chapters at the end of the book emphasizing teenage issues.
Personal GrowthEat, Move, Sleep:  How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes by Tom Rath.  I enjoyed this book full of easy adjustments we can make in our lifestyle that will help us to eat right, move more, and sleep better.  I breezed through it the first time (it's an easy read), so I read it a second time in hopes of motivating myself to adapt at least a few of the ideas the author shared.

I read three other books in August.

Prairie School by Lois Lenski.  I read this aloud to my 12-year-old.  It was okay, but there are other Lois Lenksi books I've enjoyed more.

To Write a Wrong by Robin Caroll.  This was my first fiction read for our Boston vacation.  It was the sequel to Injustice for All which I read last month.  

The Candidate by Susan Wales and Robin Shope.  Mu other fiction read this month was the third book in its series.  It had been awhile since I read the first two; this one was okay, but I thought the first two were more intriguing. 

(Re-reading this post makes it sound like I had high expectations for my books this month!!)

Here are the books I hope to read/finish in September.

SpiritualThe Imitation of Christ by Thomas a' Kempis
Marriage:  What Did You Expect?  Redeeming the Realities of Marriage by Paul David Tripp
ParentingAnd Then I Had Teenagers:  Encouragement for Parents of Teens and Preteens by Susan Alexander Yates
Personal GrowthApartment Therapy:  Complete + Happy Home by Maxwell Ryan and Janel Laban

What have you been reading lately?

Monday, August 24, 2015

8 Pieces of Advice for My High School Freshman

(I promise that this will be the last sentimental post for awhile ;)

Today our older daughter starts high school.  These are the years you remember even when you're 46, a time to make memories and friends and a grade point average that actually counts toward college acceptance.

I want her to be grounded in who she is, in who she surrounds herself with, and, most of all, in her walk with God.  So many spiritual decisions that could affect the rest of her life can begin here.

With that in mind, on her first day of high school, here are 8 pieces of advice I'd like to share with her.

1.  Always remember that God loves you.  Whatever crosses your path each day has been foreordained by Him.  His grace is sufficient.  (2 Corinthians 12:9)  You can do all things through Him.  (Philippians 4:13)

2.  Recognize that you are made in His image, wonderfully put together.  "I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made....How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!"  (Psalm 139:14, 17)  Your physical traits, your personality, your strengths and weaknesses were all designed by God to be used in His plan for your life and to bring Him glory.

3.  Be friendly to everyone.  "A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly:...."  (Proverbs 18:24)  That 7th grader you barely know?  Say "hello" when you pass her in the hall.  The boy you're standing in front of in the lunch line?  Smile at him.  The new girl in your class?  See if she needs help finding a classroom.  The teacher who seems to be having a hard day?  Say something kind.

4.  Be true to yourself.  Don't change who you are to fit into a crowd or please a friend.  Be willing to stand alone, if necessary.  Even at a Christian school, there will be peer pressure to do wrong.  Have the courage to choose right.

5.  Use your time wisely.  "So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom."  (Psalm 90:12)  Apply yourself to your classes and learn all you can.  Outside of the classroom, explore your interests and put your time into activities you enjoy.  Choose extra-curricular activities that are fun and that introduce you to new people.  

6.  Stretch yourself.  Try something you think is just outside of your comfort zone. 

7.  Stay above the drama.  Don't allow yourself to get dragged into friends' and classmates' disagreements. 

8.  Make fun memories.  "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven."  (Ecclesiastes 3:1)  With your family, your friends, and your classmates, enjoy this season and remember these stories that you'll be telling your kids in 20 years!

What other advice do you have for a new high schooler?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Last of the Lacy Socks

"When you finally go back to your old hometown, you find it wasn't the old home you missed, but your childhood."  ~Sam Ewing

We're cleaning out dresser drawers and pulling hidden "treasures" out from under beds as we wind down this last week of summer vacation and plan for the beginning of a new school year.

Yesterday, as I picked up a pile of discarded items from my younger daughter's room and carried them to the trash can, something fell out of my hands.

It's the last pair of lace-edged church socks.

Admittedly, as a 12-year-old seventh grader, that ship has probably sailed for her.  But it's still a little sad.

First it was the smocked dresses, then the hair bows, and now the lacy socks.

The last vestiges of my girls' childhoods seem to disappearing rather quickly.

How thankful I am today for the years I've been blessed to be a stay-at-home mom, to be there as our children passed through the toddler and preschool years, then on to elementary school, even into our homeschooling journey.  That's time that I can never go back and relive, and I'm overwhelmed with gratitude to God for His provision, and for a husband who always supported that decision and worked hard to make it a reality.

This current season has its own sweet flavor....easy traveling for the four of us, real help around the house, being able to go out on a date with my husband - no babysitter needed.

And, at least for now, I can still take comfort in the American Girl dolls standing in the corner of the bedroom and the Polly Pockets stuffed into the closet.  I'll try not to count the days until they, too, are banished from my girls' bedrooms in a back-to-school cleaning frenzy.