Wednesday, June 29, 2016

5 Books I Read in June

My reading list is unusual this month in that I read more fiction books than non-fiction.  That almost never happens!

The first book is on my 2016 reading list; the other four were not.  All three of the fiction books were read just before or during our vacation week.

1.  Fervent:  A Woman's Battle Plan for Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer by Priscilla Shirer.  This book on prayer reminds us of who our real enemy is and the importance of using prayer to defeat him.  Each chapter deals with a specific prayer topic, and includes verses to use in developing your own prayer for each situation.

2.  I'm Happy for You (Sort Of....Not Really) by Kay Wills Wyma.  This was a re-read; I just felt like I needed to be reminded of the truths that Kay shared in this book.  You can read my extensive review of this book here.

3.  The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin.  I actually got this young adult book to preview for my teenager, but ended up reading the whole thing myself before I passed it on to her.  It's a Newberry Award winner, and quite a clever little mystery.

4.  The Patmos Deception by Davis Bunn.  Reading a story set on the island of Patmos was interesting and thought-provoking.  I've always related that location to the apostle John and his writing of Revelation, but it was neat to realize that it's a place where people actually live today.  This book seemed a little slow at points for me....but maybe that's because I ended up comparing it to my next read.

5.  Gold of Kings by Davis Bunn.  This was an entertaining read, with lots of adventure and mystery.  I really enjoyed this one!

What have you been reading lately?

Monday, June 27, 2016

3 Keys to a More Peaceful Summer with Your Kids

It wasn't long ago that summer break began in all its glory.

But, on occasion, those gloriously long summer days may seem a little too long.  Keeping the peace in the house - whether between siblings or just your own peace of mind! - may seem a little harder to maintain as the weeks go by.

As I anticipate that situation here at times, I try to remember a few key ideas that usually help our summer flow a bit more smoothly.


1.  Expect them to entertain themselves.  This looks different at each age, but you can begin this when your children are very little by giving them brief periods of time alone to play in their crib or pack-n-play. For us, this transititioned into nap/quiet time every afternoon when they became toddlers and preschoolers. Whether you use books or specific toys that are played with only at that time, they can learn to keep themselves occupied.  It's actually a great skill for them to master!  In our house these days, after lunch is typically a quiet time where each of us read or do something alone.

2.  Mix some work in with their fun.  I started my summer learning program years ago because I instinctively knew that hours upon of hours of free time would lead to some "bored" and disgruntled children.  I also wanted to teach them to use their time productively.  It doesn't all have to be educational work, either - having daily or weekly chores around the house certainly counts, too - and even better if there's a mix of indoor and outdoor responsibilities.  I have my girls doing all their own laundry this summer, and it has been a huge help!  I don't know that I'll ever want to take that chore back again. :)

3.  Be willing to give up my "personal" time to spend time with them.  I'd be pretty happy staying home most of the time, but I know that, at the ages my daughters are, they need chances to get out and do things more often.  This summer I decided that each week that we're home (and don't have too many obligations), I'd try to plan an activity with them.  The first week, we took a picnic lunch downtown.  Last week, we explored a local park and museum that we'd never visited before.  Obviously, spending time with our children doesn't have to involve leaving the house.  Instead of sitting down in a chair with my book, I can join my girls in a game or we can bake a treat for the family. 

In the midst of making the most of summer and soaking in all that this season has to offer, keeping a peaceful tone in the house is a priority!

What other tips do you have for making this a peaceful summer?

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Saturday Salutes

We spent part of yesterday exploring a nearby park and museum, built on the site of an old canal.

Here's one from Elizabeth that's worth printing and sharing - Dear Dad, Thanks for Getting So Much Right.

Nikki has Five Tips for Getting Where You're Going On Time.

Sarah gives advice on How to Trust Your Instincts as a Mom.

Kathie lists 7 Things Our Children Need.

Jenilee gives tips for Keeping a Marriage Healthy Under Stress.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Modest Fashion Summer 2016

I would never claim to be a fashion blogger, so it makes me laugh when I see that my Modest Fashion Spring 2016 post is my most re-pinned post of all time.

Now that summer's here, though, I thought I'd share some cute skirt outfits that I've seen on Pinterest lately.  (While there are plenty of great looks out there, I've tried to include only those that I would actually wear.  Someone with a different body type could definitely find many other styles that would work.)

Michael Kors navy blue and white stripe maxi skirt, F21 white slub knit v-neck t-shirt, mint infinity scarf, AE necklace, Target gold perforated ballet flats, Sally Hansen nail polish in "Set Sail":
I like how the scarf and necklace add interest to this basic t-shirt and maxi skirt.

20 Style Tips On How To Wear Midi Skirts This Summer waysify:
As hot as it gets here, I really like a knee-length skirt like this one that you can dress up or down.

"Untitled #194" by candi-cane4 ❤ liked on Polyvore featuring TOM TAILOR, maurices and MICHAEL Michael Kors:
Ever since having children, I've stayed away from white bottoms, but I think my girls are old enough now that I could give this a try without worrying so much about least from them! :)

Modest Fashion doesn't mean frumpy! Fashion Tips (and a free eBook) here: Do your clothing choices, manners, and poise portray the image you want to send? "Dress how you wish to be dealt with!" (E. Jean)
This maxi dress just looks comfortable - and I love that it has sleeves!

LOLO Moda: Cool Maxi Skirts 2013:

Here's a perfect outfit for a summer Sunday.

"Modest Casual captain America" by katieroselynn13 on Polyvore:
How appropriate for celebrating on July 4th!

"Apostolic Fashions #965" by apostolicfashions on Polyvore featuring Karen Millen, Levi's and Henri Bendel:
I could come close to replicating this outfit with items I already own....except for the shoes.

#Modest doesn’t mean frumpy. #DressingWithDignity #fashion #style
I might add a necklace to this outfit, but I really like the color combination!

And, finally, I picked up this outfit yesterday when I ran into the Talbots Outlet for a few minutes.  The navy skirt is a knit material and SO comfortable!  I'm also into stripes these days, and the orange is a bit of a different color for me.

What type of outfits are your favorite during the summer months?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Never a Minute Older


Over the last month, we marked a season of change and growth....there were graduations, promotions, the finishing of one stage and looking ahead to the next, a goodbye to some things familiar, with perhaps new and different experiences in our future.

My sister texted me recently about how she'd looked in on her three little ones at night, all asleep in their beds, and said she "wished they would never get a minute older," how even with the diaper changes and runny noses and disobedience, every moment is precious.

Time moves by so quickly, whether or not we're ready, sweeping us along in its current.  Three years from right now, my daughter will have graduated from high school.  Talk about a life change!!  We all know that marks a turning point, that it's not ever the same after that - even with summers home from college, even when living in the same house again - the relationship changes, the process of the final letting go has begun.

That's why I want to make the most of this summer, to recognize the value of the simple moments, to let just being together be enough.  Whatever stage of parenting we're in, we'll hit some rough spots, but we have to take those with the good, and trust that they will make us better parents and give us more wisdom for the next time (or at least for the younger sibling :)  We may make new mistakes, but may God grant us the insight not to make the same ones.

So in the midst of our impatience at another sibling argument or when walking in on a big mess to clean up or while dealing with a child dragging their feet to get in the car, let's give an unexpected smile or hug or word of encouragement. While we can't freeze this moment in time, can't keep our precious children from growing any older, we can give them our love this day and frame sweet memories in our hearts.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Running Over or Drying Up?


"When my cup runneth over with joy,
When my cup runneth over with joy.
I find it easy to pray, and to sing all the day
When my cup runneth over with joy.

When my cup is all empty and dry.
When my cup is all empty and dry.
I find it so hard to pray, and to sing all the day,
When my cup is all empty and dry."

(Author Unknown)


When we left the two-story white house at the foot of a Tennessee hill last Friday, all 17 of us with cars packed and ready to hit the road, my mom encouraged us to take joy with us.  "Take the joy," she said, "even in the midst of sadness, take joy home with you."

It's an oxymoron that I suppose those who don't know the Savior may not understand - having joy in your heart when life circumstances give you every reason to be sad and hopeless.

But because we have the Holy Spirit living within us, we can have unexplainable peace, an eternal hope, and joy springing up in our soul.

How do I lose my joy?  When I don't focus on God.  Psalm 16:11 says, " thy presence is fullness of joy..."   I'm going to find joy when I'm spending time in God's presence and resting in His promises.  Reading and meditating on His Word will keep me from drying up spiritually.

And when I need courage to face my difficulty, I can recall Nehemiah 8:10 and the words, "...for the joy of the Lord is your strength."  The joy He provides gives me inner fulfillment in spite of outward chaos.

Today let's allow the joy of the Lord to fill our souls and overflow to others!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Summer, Past and Present

I realize that we're only one week into the summer break, but we're definitely off to a good start here!

So far we've managed to find the right balance between being gone and staying home, between work and play, and between doing things together and having time to ourselves.

However, my brain definitely hasn't been in blog mode.  I'm taking this week off from blogging and hope to return with fresh inspiration next Monday!

In the meantime, here are some of my favorite Girls to Grow posts from past summers.

10 Traits of a Wise Woman

She's Already Beautiful to Me

5 Ways That Daily Quiet Time with God Changes Me

Journaling Prayers for Our Children

5 Ways to Encourage Yourself in the Lord

How to Rear a Daniel

Have a great week!!
If you'd like to receive new posts from Girls to Grow by e-mail, sign up here.