When God’s Blessing Looks Like Vomit

“I don’t feel like eating dinner.”

“You don’t have to eat, but you need to at least sit with us,” I responded to Andrew who all day had little to no appetite and seemed not quite himself. We were on Day 3 of a 7 day cruise where food surrounds you 24 hours a day.

Stepping one foot into Johnny Rocket’s, Andrew moaned, “Oh no, I can’t smell this food.”

“You are fine. Just sit with us.” We continued ignoring his moans believing he simply didn’t want to be there. Minutes after ordering dinner, Andrew continued complaining that he felt like he was going to be sick.

Steve ushered him out of the restaurant to sit outside with him in the fresh air, away from the smells of french fry grease and apple pie.

The rest of of our family, including Steve’s parents, waited on our order to arrive. While waiting, I decided to check on Andrew and Steve. I exited the restaurant and scanned the Boardwalk. Glancing to my left, my body froze. Andrew hunched over vomiting all over boardwalk. It was no dainty affair.

I bolted inside to tell the rest of the family the nightmare happening outside then rushed back to assist Steve in the embarrassing task of moving our vomiting child through a mass of people attempting to enjoy their own dinner.

It’s one of those moments where you feel time stops and everyone around you is frozen. I dared to dart my eyes to the tables near us and saw the shocked and horrified expressions on the couple who couldn’t take their eyes off of us. I can’t blame them. After the vomiting ended I tried to take a cup of water to wash the vomit off Andrew’s feet only to have Steve and I arguing about what is more acceptable – to walk through a cruise ship trailing vomit on your feet or to wash it right there at the scene of the crime which happens to be where people are eating.

As Andrew and I walked back to the room, he said, “Mom, God answered my prayer. I asked Him to please let me throw up and get this feeling out of me. I know He did that, and I know I won’t throw up again because there is no after burn and now I feel fine.”

Andrew was right in that he never threw up again on the trip. He wasn’t himself either, having little appetite for the majority of the trip.

The following morning we had booked an excursion in Jamaica that would require being away from the ship for 7 hours. We were hesitant to take Andrew when he was well simply because he is fearful of many things, but particularly heights or any risk-taking activity. This particular excursion was jumping from cliffs and waterfalls into natural pools. However, the minimum age was 6, and he said he wanted to do it. Having been sick, we decided it wasn’t worth the risk to take him.

The excursion began with about an hour and 45 minute drive, which the description failed to include. Immediately we were grateful we didn’t have Andrew. But when we arrived at Blue Hole, I literally began thanking God for Andrew’s vomit episode. Andrew would have absolutely hated the excursion and quite possibly would have ruined it for everyone.

Fear tends to bring out the worst in him. And if I’m honest, it brings out the worst in me as well.

Our tendency can often pivot to looking at our situations and circumstances in a negative light. We tend to ask why something bad is happening to us. We often feel our particular situation is unfair. But when we know who God is, His unchanging character and always faithful love, we begin to view every situation in a different light.

Yes it is true that not everything we experience comes from God. We have a very real enemy prowling, lurking, attacking, and accusing without ceasing. However, God’s Word also tells us that He uses all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

That means that even the vomiting episodes in front of a cruise ship audience, God can and will use for our good.

I wonder how many blessings from God I’ve failed to recognize simply because I saw only the vomit.

Dear Lord, thank you that You are for us and not against us. Thank you that you promise never to leave us. Thank you that you tell us that when we are afraid, we can trust in You. Thank you for blessings of many kinds. Give us eyes to see you in all of our life. The moments that smell like roses and the moments that don’t. Because you never leave us, we know that you are with us in all things.  Amen

 

Do You Want God’s Best This Year?

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I love a fresh slate. God’s Word tells us He is always creating something new in us. Therefore, we don’t really need a new year to know that each day is an opportunity to start afresh. But there is something about turning the calendar over to a brand new start that inspires us.

Many of us start a new year wanting to rid our lives of some choice, habit, pattern, or lifestyle that we know is for our harm not our good. The problem is that ridding our lives of bad habits isn’t easy. Sometimes we want a bad habit or pattern gone so we try hard initially. The results don’t come immediately so we become discouraged. We don’t recognize the results we hoped for, and we doubt it’s worth the fight and effort. Eventually, we quit trying. It’s easier to stay in patterns that are familiar. Even the ones we know deep down are not for our good.

To desire to stay in a habit or pattern that is comfortable is to allow fear to grow bolder. Fear wears many masks. One such mask is the mask of comfortable. Fear of change, the fear of leaving the known which has become so familiar for the unknown. Often we fail at changing a bad habit, lifestyle choice, or pattern because we fear the uncomfortable process that change will usher in. We fear the pain that is inevitable with the gain. We fear the unknown of the process as that pattern or choice is purged or refined out of us. We choose to stay in the known, the comfortable, because fear has convinced us it is the safer place.

Fear is from satan, never from God. When fear speaks, it is never God.

About 11 years ago, I was addicted to Coke. It is all I drank. Never more than mere sips of water through the day. My body ran on less than its best, but I knew no different. Eventually I reached the point of realizing a change must happen.

I reached for a friend because I knew with a habit like this, I couldn’t do it alone. I needed a cheerleader, a coach, an encourager, and mostly….someone to hold me accountable to do the hard work. My friend gave me a workable plan when I expressed how impossible this task seemed for me.

“When you wake up in the morning, chug 8 ounces of water. Don’t think about it, don’t sip on it. Just do it, and do it fast. Then at 10:00 am, chug another 8 oz glass of water. At noon, chug another 8 oz. You are not allowed to have a Coke until you have chugged a minimum of three 8 oz glasses of water, and you can’t have a coke before noon.”

It was a plan laid out for me. One that broke down an enormous lifestyle change into sip sizes. It took the impossible and sectioned out the small steps I would take. Little by little. Taking only one day at a time. I was not to look past the day I was in. Each day was a fresh start. Each day held victory if I did the hard work of taking the steps necessary for that day only.

Over the next 2 weeks, my cravings for Coke drastically decreased. In fact, I found that when lunch arrived, I felt so good from my water intake that I didn’t desire Coke. I knew that Coke would spike my blood sugar. I knew that I would spend the afternoon craving more sugar. I felt great in the morning, but when I turned to Coke, I began to feel bad again. However, I had become so accustomed to living on less than best that I had no idea how bad I actually felt. In fact, my “bad” actually felt normal. Until my body was cleansed, I didn’t know how incredible I could actually feel. How energized and alive.

Over the next several months, which turned into years, my Coke habit changed from 3-4 Cokes a day, to one a day, to one a week, to one a month. Until 2 years ago something happened I never would have believed.

Two years ago, I began a 40 day journey on The Daniel Plan. Fast forward 6 months, and one day it hit me, I hadn’t even tasted a sip of soda in 6 months. I couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t intentionally trying to never have a soda again, but I felt so great that I simply stopped desiring it and began actually craving food and drinks that my body was designed to live on. Once I realized how long I’d gone, I realized I never wanted to go back to sodas. It’s now been over two years since I’ve had a soda. I’ve tried to take a sip and gagged. It tastes like syrup through a straw to me now.

My kids can’t believe it because they saw how much I loved my Coke.

I’ve learned that I will crave what I feed myself. Physically, emotionally, spiritually, or mentally. If I feed my body sugar, I crave more sugar. When my body was rid of sugar and taking in pure water, it craved pure water. In greater quantities. When I feed myself escapes through social media, this is what I crave. When I rid myself of my electronic addiction, and spend more time with God or family, this is what I begin to crave. If I feed myself pleasures, I crave greater pleasures. If I feed myself shopping excursions, I crave more new things. Our cravings grow from the appetites we feed.

Sometimes we listen to our cravings. We lean on these and believe the lie that we can’t live without them. Only when we purge ourselves of the things that are not for our good, will we begin to crave those things that bring us life.

I share this with you to encourage you in whatever that “thing” is in your life that you feel is impossible to change or get rid of. Whatever that “thing” is, God desires His best for you. Any change for good desires will be hard because you have an enemy that desires the worst for you.

This enemy will deceive you. He will tell you lies like you will never rid yourself of this habit. He will tell you change like this is for other people but not for you. He will feed you lies so you can justify your bad habits. He will actually tell you it’s not that bad. He will bring other people to mind so you can compare yourself to them and feel better about your choice.

There is one thing I haven’t mentioned yet. It is the one thing that will make your impossible possible. Prayer. Prayer is the power to change. Prayer is the means by which we can come to God and humble ourselves, submit to His plan and His way. To confess and repent of our idolatry or addiction, which we have nicely called a habit. Prayer is where we come to Him and ask Him to give us the strength and the power to take the hard steps.

In our culture we are prone to leaning into the easy. Today, let’s lean into the hard. Lean into knocking down strongholds. Let’s tear down lies and fear and boldly seek God’s best for our life.

I don’t know what your “thing” is. Quite honestly, we all likely have many “things”. Rather than focus on changing everything at once, pick one thing. Celebrate small steps of victory. Watch God do a mighty work through your faithfulness to follow one small step at a time.

6 Practical Steps To Replacing Bad Habits:

1- Prayer

2-Reach for an accountability partner. Tell people what you are doing. Let them cheer you on.

3-Make a daily plan. Action steps you will follow.

4-Know the big picture, but focus on the steps you will take each day. Look only at the day you are on. Don’t look down the road.

5-Celebrate the small. Celebrate the first victory and let that embolden you.

6- Speak truth. It’s the only way to silence the fears and lies of the enemy. Write Bible verses on notecards and recite through the day.

 

 

How To Be Happy in 2017 – One Word

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I’m typically too wordy to select one word for the new year. I have a list of words, words that form phrases, phrases that transform into sentences. I think of one word and immediately 4 more pop in my head. Even in explaining my crazy brain to you right now, I’m using an abundance of words.

But this year I have my one word. It’s simple. It’s clear. My one word for 2017 is Praise.

Over my social media break, I’ve had more time to think and reflect. My quiet times have come alive again. God has drawn me back to the Psalms, and all I hear is this word. Praise.

I often say to my boys, “Praise God not only for what He does but for Who He is.” It’s not about getting God to do our will. It is that we get to know who He is. I fear we don’t know Him very well.

I periodically look back in my old prayer journals. This week I read through my 2015 journal and discovered the reason why a year and a half later Praise is my word. Simply because God answered my prayers.

2015 prayer journal-

June – “The key to hope is constant praise. The key to pulling out of the pit is to remember Him. When we struggle and don’t know why we struggle, we park our mind on Him. To encourage our faith, we remind ourselves of God’s work, we praise Him, we remember Him. We share with our kids and pass our faith onto them.”

Psalm 71:14-15 But I will hope continually and will praise You more and more. My mouth will tell about Your righteousness and Your salvation all day long, though I cannot sum them up.

May 27, 2015 “……Lord, I want to pray more and praise more. Grow my faith. I love You. You are faithful and loving, true and just, compassionate and gracious. Grow my walk with You.”

June 9, 2015 “….Lord, you are worthy of all my praise. All day long make me a praising person. Give me eyes to see you in marvelous ways…..”

July 15, 2015 “….Lord, I want to live a life of constant praise. Today, give me fresh eyes to see you and all your glory and power. Let me be overwhelmed by who you are and fall more and more in love with you.”

Psalm 73:28 But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.

August 2, 2015 “...Lord, God, You are worthy of never-ending praise. You, who are perfect, holy, just, kind, compassionate, gracious, and overflowing with goodness and love, deserve our wholehearted affection. Forgive me for failing to praise you. Today, place praise in my heart and let it overflow. I want to live overwhelmed by you…..”

Through my 2016 journal, a heart of praise continued to be a prayer request. So you see, that is why I have one word for 2017 when I normally have 20 words.

Turns out the secret to a truly happy life, not only a happy new year, is praise.

Psalm 84:4 How happy are those who reside in your house, who praise you continually.

When my eyes are on the Lord, they are off of me. When my eyes are on the Lord, how can I not be happy?

Psalm 63:4 So I will praise you as long as I live; at Your name, I will lift up my hands.

Psalm 63:7-8 because you are my helper; I will rejoice in the shadow of your wings. I will follow close to you; Your right hand holds on to me.

Wishing you a Happy New Year!

 

8 favorite things & last minute gifts of 2016

My middle son says I’d make a great “commercialer”. It’s just that when I love something, I can’t help but tell people. I want them to experience the same excitement, blessing, or shortcut that I’ve discovered. Zachary will walk into a conversation when I’m sharing with a friend and immediately blush, shake his head, and whisper, “Here she goes in commercial mode.”

I have a few favorite things this year that I must share with you. And some of these favorites might just be what you need to fill a last minute gift.

Instant Pot

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The Instant Pot has changed my kitchen life. It has made me dread cooking less. It’s made dinner planning, prep, and execution less stressful, faster, more organized, and cleaner.

Many dinners I can throw the ingredients in the pot and the meal is ready in minutes. If I forget to thaw out meat, it’s ok. If I planned a crock pot meal and didn’t start on time, I can use the instant pot and have the same meal in a fraction of the time. I can do all things in one pot. Saute the veggies, brown the meat, cook the meal, and have one pot for an easy clean up.

For some reason food simply tastes better in the instant pot.

I do love kitchen gadgets that make life simpler. This pot replaces many of my kitchen tools.  I gave away 2 rice cookers, 2 crock pots, and a roaster because the Instant Pot gives me everything I need in one package.

On my Pinterest board, I’ve pinned lots of recipes you can check out. I’ve also learned to convert just about all of my recipes to the Instant Pot.

Audible

I love to read. My boys love to read. We all enjoy being read to. And we spend a good deal of time in the car. I tried a free trial membership with Audible thinking I would get the free books and cancel my membership eventually because I was sure I wouldn’t use it near enough. I was so very wrong.

I’m funny about audiobooks. If the narrator is good, I can pay attention, but if the narrator is bad, my mind wanders. Audible uses wonderful narrators. Through many of them I am able to connect with the characters of the story they are reading. They bring them to life and really tell the story rather than simply read it. Audible is not just a reading of a book.

I’m also enjoy developing my auditory skills through more listening. I’m a very visual learner, so listening to books is helping me develop my weaker learning style.

For me personally, I have less time now to sit and read, so this allows me to put in my headphones and listen to a good book while the kids are playing and I’m folding laundry, cooking dinner, or going about my daily chores.

For the kids it’s so fun for us to listen to good books together on both long and short car rides. I’m able to broaden their interests by selecting books they’d likely not select on their own based on a bad cover. This way we just jump into books together.

Reading together sparks amazing conversations and really provides a great platform for bonding.

I strongly encourage you to try out an Audible membership. You get a 30 day free trial and 2 free books. If you keep your membership after the trial, you get 1 credit a month and 30% off Audible books. You download the free Audible app to listen to the books you download. It works seamlessly with Kindle so you can actually switch back and forth between Audible and Kindle (though I don’t enjoy electronic reading because I’m old fashioned).

You can gift Audible books even if someone doesn’t have an Audible membership. The Audible app is free. You can purchase an Audible book and send the egift. All they need to do is download the app. You can purchase Audible books without a membership. I like the membership because I will use what I pay for.  Also Audible members get a discount.

And reading more is simply a good idea and worth the investment.

Great, great gift to the reader on your list you are still waiting to find the right gift for.

Dollar Shave Club

Ok- this I simply love for so many reasons. It’s really nice to have fresh razors show up in my mailbox for a fraction of what I normally paid at the store. And the razors are my favorite. Much better than any brand I’ve found. While it originally marketed men, they now see that women don’t need a pink razor to enjoy a good shave.

Looking for a great gift- this is it. It can even be a great his/her gift. You choose the razor and the amount of months you want to gift to the recipient. Or gift an e-card and let them choose.

Homeschooling

I can’t think of anything that has turned my world upside down like homeschooling. Well, outside of becoming a parent to begin with. And certainly doesn’t compare to tragedies that alter life. But on a day-to-day basis and a look at seasons of life, homeschooling has been the most beautifully hard thing I’ve ever attempted.

I’ll be writing more about this soon, but in looking back over this year, homeschooling was an unexpected gift from God. And it looks nothing like I imagined it looking. It makes the favorites list.

Kombucha

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Another surprising discovery of this year. My sister has been trying to get me to make my own for years, telling me of the health benefits. But I haven’t taken the leap into making my own just yet. For now I buy and ration out (because it’s expensive) GTS Kombucha.

While there is a lot of unconfirmed research about Kombucha, after the boys and I started drinking it, my stomach pains went away that I’d been treating by eliminating food groups. I’m now eating all food groups just fine. One of my boys who was very fatigued and low energy found increased energy and alertness. Strong immune systems and a good dosing of probiotics has benefited all of us.

Every afternoon, we grab our Kombucha and read together.

The Child’s Story Bible by Catherine F. Vos

 

Don’t let the cover turn you away because it doesn’t match up to the super cute, new story Bibles on the market. This Bible is wonderful for kids (and adults) of all ages. Each morning during Bible, I read a section of this to the boys. It’s amazing how much I learn from a children’s Bible. It’s a step up from the simplified children’s Bibles of today that tell only the big picture idea. This story Bible gives more detail and digs deeper.

Wal-Mart Online Grocery Shopping

You would think with homeschooling I have more time. Not so. I have drastically less time, which is why I LOVE this service. It’s free. It’s convenient. It saves me so much money from impulse buying.

I hop online when the kids are in bed. I sit with my grocery list and I plug it in. I select my Wal-Mart store and pick up time. I arrive in my time slot and use the free app to check in (or call the number listed at the parking spot to let them know you arrived) and they bring out your groceries with a smile on their face.

I don’t buy a whole lot of groceries at Wal-Mart because I buy the bulk at Trader Joe’s. But I get our fill in items at Wal-Mart plus household and personal items. How awesome to dump all these in the online cart and swing by and pick up.

Seriously has changed my life. This and the Instant Pot win the award of the year for simplifying the Robinson household.

The Chronicles of Narnia Radio Theater

This remains on the favorites list. We’ve had this collection for years. Jacob received it for Christmas when he was 5 or 6 and it remains well loved. It’s not your typical audio book. It’s a complete theatrical performance.

A great family gift!

I’d love to hear some of your favorites from 2016 as well!

 

*********This post contains affiliate links**********

 

 

When We See Too Much of People

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Last post I shared why I’m fasting from social media. As I pondered how different life feels right now, a verse popped into my head.

Proverbs 25:17

KJV Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbor’s house; lest he be weary of thee, and so hate thee.

NLT Don’t visit your neighbors too often, or you will wear out your welcome.

As I neared my time of breaking away from social media, I felt wearied. Wearied of people and certain they were wearied of me. Goodness, I was wearied of me!

Social media allows us to enter our neighbor’s house 24 hours a day. We enter the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom. We enter their cars. We are with them always. A door is open all the time and we enter with or without invitation.

I began to form thoughts about people that I knew were ungodly. Sin began to breed within me. Judgements formed because I saw snapshots of someone without seeing the context of the glimpse offered.

My thoughts startled me. I’d scroll and come across a post that I felt was boastful or showy in an inappropriate way and instantly form a negative thought about that person. I’d read the follow up gushing statements of affirmation and flattery and find myself agitated that people couldn’t see through the posts. I didn’t like what was coming out of my heart.

I was seeing too much of some people. I needed better guards up so I could love them the way I’m called to love them. I was allowing my online neighbors to enter my house too often.

A diet of social media lessened my love for people, increased my cynicism, and gave birth to thoughts and feelings that felt unfamiliar.

I’ve shared all of this before on past posts through my Unseen series.

I think sometimes we forget that what we post on social media is us entering the house of our neighbor. And this is dangerous to forget, especially for women. What we post will be in the private places of the husband of another. If we wouldn’t physically enter the house of a neighbor in a particular way, we should exercise extreme caution over what we share that will essentially take us into the house of a friend.

This break is good for my heart. It’s a time to examine what I’ve allowed to enter and what I’ve allowed to form and grow. It’s a time to re-examine, evaluate. End of years are good for that. The assessment of what worked and what didn’t work. A time to hit a reset button and start fresh in the New Year. A time to ponder and reflect, plan and prepare.

 

Breaking My Phone Addiction and Experiencing Freedom

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In October I wrote a post titled The Noise of Social Media and the Silence of God. I had reached my limit. I needed off and out of social media. I needed to hear the silence in my head again so I could hear the whispers of God. I desperately needed the break and hesitantly rejoined the world again a few weeks later when God directed me back.

In 2015 I wrote a blog series titled Unseen – Because we were made for more than a like, which I had planned to be a book. You can read all posts here:

Part 1- The Unseen – Because we were made for more than a like

Part 2 – The battle that wages

Part 3 – The silent competition

Part 4 – Satisfy me

Part 5 – Am I accepted?

Part 6 – Freedom from slavery of likes

Part 7 – Am I Seen?

Part 8- Like Me

Part 9 – Overcoming the Comparison Trap

Part 10 – Wrapping Up

At Thanksgiving I felt more stressed than I should feel. My heart seemed to race all the time. I was snappy and irritable. My thoughts felt fuzzy, unclear. My head seemed cluttered.  I found myself losing my train of thought repeatedly. Internally, I felt this rushing, frantic pace. A race with no end. Constantly remembering what I’d forgotten to do.

At the same time, my phone was in my hands at all times. It was the first thing I reached for in the morning. It was the last thing I looked at before going to bed. It received my first thoughts and my last. During the day something was pulling at me from inside, drawing me into my phone. A wondering of what was happening in the world. Who was saying what now. Who was spreading or believing which lies now.

Everything my kids did, my first thought went to sharing it with the world on social media. It was so cute, so funny, so…..anything. Everything the Lord showed me I felt compelled to share through social media. Never taking a moment to ponder my intents, motives, or the need for privacy or protection of my family. Simply habits I’d been establishing. Sharing my life with the world. Reading every detail of the lives of too many people. Absorbing too much information for one soul to possibly bear with joy.

My phone went everywhere I went. If I needed to go the bathroom, my phone went with me. So in every 30 second slot of my day, my phone was by my side. I found myself looking for escapes from my day. Social media happily awaits any soul awaiting an escape from the reality and stress of life. It offers a replacement of a true refuge. A fleeing into God became nonexistent. When life became stressful, rather than hitting my knees, I hit the phone. When I didn’t want to deal with life, I picked up my phone. If I had a pocket of unfilled time, I scrolled. I skimmed. I absorbed. And I fed my soul without realizing it. I fed my soul dangerous food. And a little bit at a time, the poison began to work.

My sister shared she was giving up social media for Advent. I had planned to fast in another way. One morning I sat for my quiet time with the Lord. A time that has been so sacred to me and realized I’d picked up and checked my phone so many times that before I realized it, my hour was gone and I’d heard not a word from the Lord. I couldn’t tell you what I read. Nothing good soaked into my heart for the day.

I had an idol. My idol needed to go. I thought back to my sister and decided I would follow her lead. This time I didn’t announce a break. I simply disappeared. I didn’t post an announcement. I didn’t worry what other people thought. “Did they wonder why I stopped liking their posts?” “Did they think something’s wrong?” I let all those thoughts fall aside.

The first week I experienced withdrawals. Almost a depression of sorts. A sense of isolation, loneliness. Disconnected and excluded. The second week I turned a corner. I no longer reached for my phone. In fact, I didn’t even know where my phone was half the time. If we arrived home, my phone stayed in my purse. I had no need for it anymore.

I began to tuck back into my privacy. Grateful that the world didn’t see inside my life so frequently (though I was the one inviting the world in). I began to cherish in my heart what I saw in my kids rather than sharing it with the world.

I’ve been off social media for almost 3 weeks now, and I feel like a brand new person. I feel free. Truly free. I feel like I have my life back. My phone no longer owns me. My head is clear and crisp. The physical racing heart has slowed. And I’m not exaggerating. My heart raced through the day. I’m more mentally present in life now. My thoughts are not distracted and split between the ones I’m with and this false-connection to the outside world.

I miss the posts of a handful of friends. But what I’ve gained surpasses what I’m missing out on. These people here. They are here today, gone tomorrow. I’ve realized that I’m with my kids more now than ever before, but until this social media fast, I’ve been less emotionally with them than ever before. Enter the tension that shouldn’t exist. My soul is being torn, twisted and pulled in so many directions.

When I wake up, my hands don’t reach for the phone. My eyes open and my thoughts go to the Lord. To greet Him with a good morning. To allow Him to fill my heart and head before I hear from anyone else. I allow Him to settle my spirit before the world tries to shake up my peace. And it does. The world shakes me. Circumstances grind me. But now. I run to Him. Because there is nowhere else to hide or escape to. There is no social media outlet to numb me. No place for me to vent or seek fulfillment. No fishing for likes and affirmations. No. Now it’s just Him. He is all I need. He is all I want. He is filling my soul from the information overload of the last year.

I don’t know if and when I’ll reengage. For now I’m enjoying this new freedom. I’ll write on my blog like the old days. When it was pretty much just a blog. I’ll post the link on Facebook. But I won’t be reading newsfeeds. I’ve deleted everything from my phone. I’ll check messenger periodically. I’ll check notifications periodically to see if I need to respond to anything. Outside of that, I’ll continue to anticipate the celebration of our Savior’s birth. I’ll tuck into the quiet here and treasure up these fleeting days.

 

 

My Complete Booklist of 2016 for Adults, Kids, and sometimes both

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At the end of 2015 I realized I missed reading good books for no other reason than fun. I allowed busyness to be my excuse for not having time to read. Honestly, I couldn’t imagine how I could fit in pleasure reading. Something made me feel guilty about using any pockets of time for anything not necessarily productive or spiritually beneficial. But I decided for 2016 I would at least attempt to read more for pleasure in an effort to try to relax a little more. Something I simply don’t make time for often enough.

I read primarily for knowledge. I love learning new things. I read lots of non-fiction and christian living. Somehow I’d convinced myself that reading for sheer pleasure or relaxation simply wasn’t priority. If I could read one pleasure book a month, I would be happy with my progress in 2016.

Last week I looked back at 2016 stunned that one intentional decision resulted in a list that far exceeded my expectations. My quest to read more fiction led to more of everything.

Here’s a list of the books I read this year in case you are looking for a few good books to add to your queue.

I’ve broken the books down based on books I read or books I read aloud to the kids. Some we listened to as audiobooks (a great way to read more books).

The books I listed as read-alouds could be read independently by my boys with no problem. However, I love reading to them. It’s bonding time for us. It sparks interesting conversations. We grow together. As long as they will listen, I will never stop reading to them.

This post would be way too long to give a synopsis of each book, but some I simply had to. You will discover which reads were my favorite of the year.

Family Read-Alouds

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“When Love Does, life gets interesting. Each day turns into a hilarious, whimsical, meaningful chance that makes faith simple and real. Each chapter is a story that forms a book, a life. And this is one life you don’t want to miss.

Light and fun, unique and profound, the lessons drawn from Bob’s life and attitude just might inspire you to be secretly incredible, too.”

We received this as a Christmas gift last year and I read a chapter aloud to the boys before school as they ate breakfast. They got ready faster to be sure we had time to read before heading out the door. Some chapters had us doubled over in fits of laughter. Some chapters we will never forget. Some stories left a mark that changed our hearts forever. Love Does was truly unique in the christian living genre. Hilarious yet moving to both children and adults.

I read these to my 13 and 11 year old boys. The 8 year old could likely handle it, but my older boys devour these books.

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We have this in many versions. Regular hardcover, student edition, preschool edition, and audio cd. The audio cd is our favorite. Read dramatically, The Story, is a perfect companion for carpooling, road trips, etc. We listened from beginning to end TWICE in 2016. It’s 26 hours of audio. A family favorite!!!

My kids did not want to read this. I’ll just be honest. But I forced them. Let’s just say, they loved it and are about to start the 2nd book in the series. Spiritual warfare in a way they can understand and grasp.

Every question your kid asks about Heaven. I learned so much! We listened to this with Audible.

While this was for the kids, I’ll never forget the story. A story of deep, unending friendship. Beautiful and tragic. I cried the last two days of this book. Ridiculous cries. The ugly, ugly cries.

If you haven’t read The Hiding Place, read it first. You will love Corrie Ten Boom so much that you  will naturally read the follow up. And it’s equally as good.

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Jotham’s Journey – A Storybook for Advent by Arnold Ytreeide

Adult Fiction

Hidden Places by Lynn Austin

Lynn Austin is one of my favorite authors. I tend to fall in love with her characters. They are so real and alive to me. I read this book through several snowed in days at the beginning of 2016 and still think back to the characters that became near friends to me.

A Proper Pursuit by Lynn Austin

Deeper Water by Robert Whitlow

The Ambition by Lee Strobel

The Walk by Richard Paul Evans

A Perfect Day by Richard Paul Evans

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

Goes down as one of my all time favorite books. I will never, ever, ever forget this story.

Family of Jesus by Karen Kinsbury

A perfect advent read. Or anytime.

A Bride Most Begrudging by DeAnne Gist

Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks

This is the first non Christian book I’ve read in several years. Over the years, I’ve gotten to where I simply can’t read a book that isn’t written by a christian author for various reasons. Language, inappropriate relationships, etc.  I have a few thoughts on this book that I might share later. Pretty typical Nicholas Sparks though.

Christian Living

Fearless by Max Lucado

Women of the Word How to Study the Bible With Both Our Hearts And Minds by Jen Wilken

Every Bitter Thing is Sweet – Tasting the Goodness of God in All Things by Sara Hagerty

I really loved this book. I love the writing style. I love the message. A quick read. I found myself drawn into the author’s story. And though I couldn’t relate to her year’s of infertility, I found I related to her story despite different life circumstance’s.

Teaching from Rest – A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakeable Peace by Sarah Mackenzie

If you are homeschooling or thinking about it, this is a must read.

Pursuit of God by A.W Tozer

This book is a complete life changer. Truly, it is. You must read it slowly. Each sentence is full of depth you can consume only in bite size pieces.