Wednesday, June 27, 2012

pride, humility, our house and my ebeneezer- Part 3

our tree...the branch that was on the ground was 40-50 feet long and almost fifteen feet high!

About eight days after putting our house on the market last summer, a big storm (a literal microburst) hit our neighborhood.  We had extensive tree damage which in turn damaged the electrical tower on the side of our house, which ripped out the gutters as it fell down.  Lots of damage, but not to the actual structure of the home, thank heavens!  We were so thankful for our safety, but very discouraged as we had to remove our house from the market for the six weeks that it took for all of the repairs, appraisals, bids, inspections etc. to all happen.  We learned a lot about home repair during those weeks, but my heart was so discouraged as we just sat, stagnant in the moving process yet again.  I could not help but recall my almost flippant prayer prayed mere weeks before asking God to make it clear if we were not supposed to have our house on the market right now....and boy, did I feel like he had answered.  I was extremely discouraged, cranky and impatient as we waited for all of the repairs to be completed.  I could not understand why God seemed to be causing/allowing this process to be so difficult for us-myself in particular.  I am blessed to be married to a very patient and faithful man who has the biggest go-with-the-flow laid back personality I have ever encountered.  The man rarely gets ruffled.  It is a great counter balance to my own nature which is to worry, dwell, order things, plan, control, strive, structure, and prepare...usually in my own strength as I'm learning...(which is an entirely different post for another day!) But you get the idea.  I was dying a slow death emotionally, mentally and spiritually living in limbo like that.  Waiting, unsure of what was ahead, unclear about where we were moving and just stuck waiting on God's timing. I felt completely unsettled and unhappy- And that was almost a year ago now!)

Despite the perceived "no" from God about our timing for having our house on the market, we were under a contract with our realtor, so repairs were completed, and inspections passed bringing us back onto the market in early October just short of two months after the storm - not really the prime season for buying and selling homes in the midwest (think Spring).  (Especially ones with yards sizzled to a crisp after a long, hot, dry mid-western summer and fall!)  In mid-November, we took it off the market for the winter and holidays.  I did not want to try and keep our place looking staged and immaculate over the busy holiday season.  We were still not moving.  I had packed away most of our Christmas decorations thinking that we would easily be in our new place by Christmas- only here we were, still in our little place.  I was disappointed, and honestly a little bit depressed but still determined to try and make the best of it- especially since it was going to be Lily's first Christmas with us.

I immediately felt better when we took our place off the market that November. Especially in the sense that I felt we could finally start living our lives again.  Not having to keep things ultra tidy around the house, not straying too far away from home on the off chance that someone would want to come by and see the house at a moment's notice.  It was freeing to let go of the hope and expectation for things to change.  To not have that disappointment/struggle immediately on my mind all. the.time.  I realized that it was only for the season, but I was enjoying the reprieve.  Looking back on that time, I can clearly see that my relief was so acute because I think I had convinced myself that we had not sold our place because it was not the right the time of year for our house to be on the market...if we just held on for spring, things would move much quicker. I was in control plans. My timing. My strength.   I was so focused on myself, my thoughts, my perceptions, my struggles, that my heart had turned this whole home selling/moving process into no less than idol.  Only I did not realize I had long strayed into this dangerous territory yet.... be continued...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

pride, humility, our house and my ebeneezer- Part 2


* I started a post that turned into a really long one, so I've broken it up into little segments.  You can read Part 1 here.

A couple of months after Joe lost his job, we discovered we were pregnant with Lily which brought with it a brand new and very different rush of emotion. Joe was still not working, and we knew we were not going to be moving at least until he was established in a new working role.  So we settled in and did our best to savor the season of Lily's pregnancy...fears and all. Eventually as the months went by, we realized that she would be coming home to this house.  I went into nesting mode (big time!) and we delighted in decorating and preparing her room for her.  We cleared out quite a bit of our own personal stuff in order to make room for all of the new baby-focused items that seem to take up an amazing amount of space!  We settled in and prepared to bring a baby into this little house of ours....but all the while, my heart still yearned to move to more of a "family" home....where we could actually be settled long term.

Lily arrived in May of 2011 and I found myself loving having this little nest to snuggle her into. We spent many days cozied inside while the sun blazed outside last summer.  I loved the quiet and the peacefulness of this home and found myself thanking God again, for his provision of this place to call home in our lives.  Joe had taken a job in the November before Lily was born after six months of looking, and then was blessed with an offer for an even better job in March 2011, just weeks before Lily was born. So flash forward a few months, Lily had arrived safe and sound, and Joe was getting established in his new job, when the moving bug officially bit us again and we decided were ready to try again (baby and all) to move - again.  We began looking at homes and preparing our own to put on the market.  To say I was excited was an understatement.  I had zero reservations or concerns and felt that finally, after a year and a half of waiting, it was time to get going already!  I felt peaceful about it in my spirit and asked God to make it clear if this was not his will for us right now. 

I knew we had to be ready to go because it was going to sell quick.  Not many 65 year old homes are in as good of condition in our area, nor have too many littler homes been redone or updated they way ours has. I was positive that it was going to sell quickly.  And yet, again, I was very wrong...I had many long days of waiting ahead of me, only I did not know it yet....

  be continued.....

Monday, June 25, 2012

Counting on a Monday...

One of my favorite things to come about in my life recently is the little routine Lily and I fall into most weekday mornings.  It is simple yet sweet:  I clean up the kitchen while she plays.  Sounds mundane and "chore-y" but it isn't.  Her belly is full from breakfast and she is literally bursting with energy and excitement for the day unfolding before her.  We shut all of the doors to the bedrooms and bathroom which means she can roam freely throughout our entire house.  Her feet are bare, her pj's are on and there is usually some pretty adorable bed-head to boot.  We get her toy basket out and open up the blinds to welcome the morning.  I usually turn on some worship music and we get after it.  I empty the dishwasher, wipe the counters, pick up and put away clutter, fold and put away laundry, as well as make coffee and some breakfast for myself.

She runs delightedly back and forth between the kitchen, the laundry room and the front room usually chatting up a storm the whole time.  She gets out and reads almost every book on her shelf, she "helps" me fold laundry, she "helps" me empty the dishwasher, she usually climbs into several cabinets and carries shoes all over the house.  She has recently discovered my stash of reusable grocery bags and has greatly enjoyed carrying those around as well.  Her toys are transported to different locations as is her high chair.

It is easy, it is relaxing and we are both together, yet doing our own things.  I find such joy watching her and take great comfort in her nearness and sillyness.  She often tries to bring me things she finds along the way such as oven mits, remote controls, phones, kleenex and of course some of her toys.  Our house is pretty chaotic afterwards, but the counters are clean, I've enjoyed a cup of coffee, eaten my breakfast, checked my email, the dishwasher is empty, the laundry is put away, my heart is filled and the day is just beginning.  It is little daily rhythms and rituals like this that are so simple I fear forgetting them, so I'm writing about it today in hopes of always remembering and of course counting my blessings.   Here are some more glimpses...

338.  her voice talking through the monitor in the morning
339.  hide and seek giggles
340.  wind on a hot, summer day
344. the hope that rises in my heart when there is a good chance for thunderstorms
 348.  old-fashioned ice cream socials

 349.  sprinkles on my ice cream sundae
350.  weekday morning routines around the house with Lily

 351.  silver sandals worn on little feet

352.  the refreshment for my spirit that comes from rearranging my pretty things in new ways

 360. pink bunny slippers

Thank you, God for all of the blessings you are raining down into my life each day.  I pray that you would continue to open the eyes of my heart so that I may see and receive them....

I'm linking up with Ann Voskamp again today.  Happy Monday, Everyone!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Some Fun Reads on the First Friday of Summer...

One of the things I'm most enjoying about my break from Facebook and reading the news this summer is the time that has emerged for me to actually read and enjoy other people's blogs! I used to do this a TON before Lily arrived, so it has been so lovely to spend time getting up to speed with some of my online "friends" as they have come to be known by me.  Here are two posts that I came across in my reading this morning and thought you might enjoy as well.  

A great Summer inspiring and a rich reminder that every moment counts and the way we spend our days is the way we live our lives...

A message that spoke directly to my heart- exactly what I am needing to constantly remind myself of these days.... especially the part where she writes, "You are where you need to be to make a difference. And if where you are needs to change, God will do it."

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

pride, humility, our house and my ebeneezer - Part I

*I've been a big old funk lately...and have decided to try and work it out through words.  It has not been a pretty process -more of a humbling one.  My journey toward understanding this season turns out to be quite a long one, so I will be breaking it down into a few posts over the next couple of weeks.

Less than a mile's walk from our front door finds you winding down streets filled with some of the most beautiful homes and mansions in this city.  These homes could easily be called estates.  Each one is completely unique, their landscaping probably cost more than my entire house, and there are many different architectural styles represented.  Within this neighborhood's hills are tucked lush, sprawling golf courses, green parks, ponds and parkways.  It is beautiful and I love to go for walks there with Lily imagining as I pass who lives in each home, admiring from afar the beauty of each home and wondering about the stories lived within their walls.

Putting our house on the market has heightened my awareness and my sensitivity to all things real estate.  I have long poured over shelter magazines dreaming of our future place, imagined our life within our future walls and tried to calculate when and how we are going to finally get "there" where ever our "there" might be.  I have been monitoring house prices in our area, studying online websites for possible future neighborhoods and watching with an aching heart as so many homes nearby have sold while ours simply hasn't.

Ours is a starter house and we are trying to sell to a very specific type of buyer due to the size and amenities (one bath, no basement etc) of our little place. It was perfect for me when I lived there as a single gal, cozy when Joe and I married and he moved in, and pretty much cramped now that Lily has arrived.  It's small, but it is lovely too.  I bought it when I was single and have loved it for over eight years now.  I walked in the door and knew in an instant that this was my house.  I just figured that when the right time came for us to move, someone else would do the same.  While people have come to see our place, along with the positive comments, there have been people who do not want to live near an elementary school, who want a dining room, who want a basement, who want our neighbor's deck to be maintained a little bit better...on and on the list goes of things we cannot change.  The right buyer has simply not come through the doors yet.  So we wait...and I dream of what could be ahead.  So close, yet so far away.

To the untrained eye, our house has only been on the market for a couple of months.  However, my dreams did not begin simply when our house went onto the market.  You see, two years ago, (a few months after Luke was born), was the first time we decided to move.  We thought it would be easier to move then, when it was just us, before more kids came along to "complicate" the moving process.  It was exciting, it was fun and it brought so much hope to my grieving heart...the imagining of a new beginning for our family.  So we began packing away some of our things for storage until we moved so as to help our little place appear more spacious and roomy. 

But then, the company where Joe was working lost a major funding source causing wide spread layoffs.  Joe lost his job and we found ourselves so thankful that we had not moved or made an offer on a different house yet.  It was easy to see God's hand of protection over us in that situation.  It was swift, clear and immediate.  We still had our home and the ability to pay our bills and meet our needs...God's provision was good.  Through the loss of Joe's job, God gave us a clear message of "stop" in the moving process. My head knew this was a good thing, but my heart was still very ready to move forward.  I was just going to have to wait.  I just had no idea how long my wait would be.

         be continued...

Monday, June 18, 2012

Counting on a Monday

 #325- A small rubber duckie deposited with care into the dishwasher by little hands helping...

 #326- A little flowered skirt of bright colors...

#324- A grove of green trees in the park...

...a little girl swinging in the summer sunshine...morning dances in the kitchen...library book sales....notes of encouragement...bed head on a sweet little head after a long nap...ten tiny pruney toes after swimming...

 #337- beautiful cirrus clouds floating above green blowing trees out the window of my Jazzercise class

                Give thanks to the Lord, for His love endures forever!

Linking up with Ann Voskamp again this week...Happy Monday, Friends!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

 Dear Joe,

It is not easy, this being a daddy.... yet you do it so well.

I see her eyes light up and smile burst forth when you enter a room or return home after a long day at work.

She thinks your jokes and dances and games are the greatest.

She seeks you out, to give you a little grin, or a special toy she has been carrying around.

She trusts you to keep her safe and hold her close.

You are always eager to see photos and videos from her adventures that day. 

You bring books she loves to life using funny voices and animal sounds.

You tuck her in at night showering her with kisses and snuggles.

You pray over her at night.

She speaks to you in her language and you always seek to understand her.

You show her the ways of discovery and exploration.

She enjoys her Saturday mornings with Dad.

Your heart never stops loving or praying for your little guy up in heaven...her big brother.

You are a daddy- pure and simple.

And you are a great one.  

Your children are blessed to have you in their lives.

You are a true partner in this journey of parenthood.

The life you provide us through the work of your hands and mind is a rich one, filled with joy, laughter, plenty, love and heavenly provision.

Yours is a life and a love that make a difference.

You are loved, adored and cherished beyond measure.

You are a godly example and a wonderful leader in our home.

Thank you for loving us as your Heavenly Father loves you- 

Happy Father's Day, Joe!  We adore you!


Your family (who loves you more every day!)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Counting on a Monday

 #314 - Girl's Weekends- no kids, no husbands, no agenda, no responsibilities

This weekend was my long waited for girl's weekend....three of my dearest friends from high school (we were missing another three who could not make it) and I spent Saturday and Saturday night catching up, laughing, soaking in the sun and eating! It was such a gift.

#315-Hotel rooms with a view

#316- Poolside with my friends for the first time in years (literally!)

#317- Champagne with strawberries dipped in chocolate and good conversation

#318- Getting as many of our kiddos together as we could on Sunday morning for a little play date

#319- My sweet husband who manned the ship all on his own this weekend so I could have time with my friends. xoxo

Today I'm linking up with Ann Voskamp's Multitudes on Mondays.  You can click on the link to the left to go to her beautiful blog or the graphic below to go directly to her post.  I have been needing some encouragement to continue seeking out and looking for the gifts that God continues pour into my life.  Sometimes it feels so easy to focus on what is not going the way I would like or what is not lovely in my world these days.  So to the maker and giver of all gifts, I bow and whisper 'thank you' on this Monday morning when my heart feels heavy with burdens of a week not even started yet. Here we eyes and heart are open and seeking your beauty as I seek to discover #320 and beyond.  Happy counting everyone!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Grace for the Good Girl

I am trying something I have never done before.  I'm participating in an online book group.  I have signed up for a few of these, but have never been able to stick with it due to other things popping up on the radar, or I just plain forgot to log on and join the discussion!  So this summer I'm giving myself some grace and am going to try again.

One of my favorite blogs to read is Emily's blog, Chatting at the Sky.  You can check her out here.  I love her writing, her photography and her perspective on faith and writing as art.  She writes with genuine authenticity and has been a source of inspiration and encouragement to me for a few years now.

This spring, her first book was published and I knew right away that I wanted to read it.  It is called Grace for the Good Girl, Letting go of the try-hard life.  Although it was on my list of books I wanted to read, it wasn't until Emily announced a little summer reading group where she would be offering insight, encouragement, in-depth discussion and feedback as we read through the book together, that I actually got off my duff and went and purchased my copy and signed myself up!

It is a wide open study- anyone is welcome (hint hint!).  Our "discussions" will take place on Thursdays.  You can read Emily's intro to the study here and a link to week one here.  I'm excited about what I have read so far.  She has managed to put into words, some of masks we all wear from time to time and the powerful way these masks hide, lie and hold us back from the victory we were designed to possess in Christ.  She offers insight into the way some of us girls hide behind our goodness, our reputations, our fears, our dreams.

Here is an excerpt that really spoke to my heart from this week's readings...

...Because there is so much I believe I should be, there is also much I believe I lack.  And so my tendency has been to hide.  
   When we believe that God expects us to try hard to become who Jesus wants us to be, we will live in that blurry, frustrating land of Should Be rather than trust the One Who Is.  We will do whatever we believe it takes to please God rather than receive the acceptance that has already been given.  We will perform to live up to what we believe his expectation is of us rather than expectantly wait on him.
   Expectations aren't inherently bad things.  But I think they are misused by good girls.  Jesus didn't put expectations on himself.  He didn't micromanage his own image and constantly try to align his reality with his ideal.  Instead, he lived expectantly waiting for the next step.  His was a life of total and complete dependence and submission to the voice and will of his Father.
 - from Chapter 2:  Chasing Expectation

This (and many other parts too) really spoke to me because I am constantly catching myself "falling short."  I hold myself to expectations that are not real, and then when I fail to meet or maintain, I sink into a pattern of negative thoughts about and toward myself and my abilities.  For example, in my mind, the ideal mother does not have a kitchen counter that is CONSTANTLY cluttered with mail, piles of things, hair bows, chargers and the like.  Her counters are clear, crumb-free and she is spending intentional time with her kiddos instead of always putting things away, constantly filtering through stacks of random semi-important clutter, and unloading the ever-full dishwasher.  In my mind, I recognize the silliness of this example, but trust me, there are days when this "silly" example to me feels very real.  Like no matter how hard I work and strive, my counter (ie my home/my mind/my purse/my car) is just never perfect enough for me to rest.  And I'm not just talking about a few crumbs that are driving me crazy, its more that despite what I feel like is a constant effort to keep them clear, I cannot find a place to set something down because there is so much stuff on our counters...or that I cannot find my sunglasses because they are lost in the abyss of chaos that is my purse.  It's little things like this that while they start small, they lead to big negative thoughts about myself and my ability to "manage" or "control" my stuff and therefore my life...and what must other people think of me and my mess.

See why I'm excited to be reading this book?? Lots of grace needed here!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

My Summer Bucket List

It is summertime! I don't know about where you live, but where we are, it has already become hot and muggy which led me to do some brainstorming about our summer plans a little bit...

When I think of summer, I always imagine it how it looks in magazines...pitchers of lemonade, a nearby a hammock, shimmering blue swimming pools, beachy reads, long afternoons spent having fun with friends, ice cream, delicious meals prepared with fresh produce or grilled on the barbeque.  Summers tend to be busy, packed to the brim with so many good things and this summer will surely be no different!  Lily is becoming more and more of an explorer and delight with each passing day, so I know this summer will be really special for us.

In true, list loving form, I have created a bucket list of ideas for things I would like to do this summer...not saying all of these will get accomplished, but it will be fun to look at from time to time and especially at the end of the summer to see how we did.  The list is in no particular order.  Some of the ideas listed are completely fun and do-able while others are mere wishes and without further ado, here it is,  

My bucket list for Summer 2012!

1. Sell our house!
2. Add a few more sustainable living habits
3. plant some flowers
4.  go on a real picnic
5.  Girl's Weekend!
6.  get a bird feeder up and operational
7.  feed the ducks
8.  play outside a little bit each day
9.  shop at the local Farmer's Market- more than once this summer!
10.  visit a petting zoo
11.  visit the real zoo
12.  learn basics of Photoshop Elements
13.  redesign Lassoing
14.  Earn my tanktop from the attendance challenge at Jazzercise (with a partner, attend 60 classes combined between June 1 and July 31- yikes!)
15.  Begin developing the habit of rising early to have some quiet time before Lily wakes up
16.  Go swimming with Lily at the pool
17.  Swimming lessons with Lily
18.  try and schedule a play date for Lily at least once a week
19.  work on my photography skills
20.  make three recipes that intimidate me
21.  Take a vacation
22.  Live intentionally- I have signed off from Facebook for the summer and am also not going to read or watch the news 
23.  Develop a meal planning technique that works better for our family
24.  try to be more intentional with coupon-ing
25.  watch the Olympics
26.  reinstate my personal sabbath times on Saturdays
27.  participate in a book club
28.  post regularly on Lassoing (ideal would be 2-3 times a week)
29.  write, write, write
30.  Read lots of great books!
31.  make some green smoothies
32.  live with expectancy rather than expectation - (ie cut way down on my to-do list making)
33. go on some double dates
34. finish a few projects I have around here (crafty and whatnot)
35.  Do some art with Lily
36.  eat a snowcone
37.  knock out at least half of the required CEUs needed to maintain my social work license (ie 20 hours)
38. plan fun social outings for Lily and myself at least once a week
39. participate in a bible study
40. ????

I am so excited to see what this summer holds for us. 

Thinking about summer has gotten me thinking about life.  It has been about a week now since I have signed off from Facebook and have not watched or read any news, and it feels great.  I have no idea what is going on and I feel more centered and present in my life and less anxious than I have in a long time.  There are habits of mine that need to be broken, while others need to be developed. 

So while I'm on this journey through summer, I'm looking forward to doing some good heart and soul work this summer as well.  One of the habits I long to cultivate is being a good steward of all God has entrusted to love, my family, my friendships, my gifts and talents, opportunities that come my way, our home, my body, my mind, our finances, my time...there is so much good to nurture there.  May there be life in these long, beautiful days ahead.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Settling into Change

 They always say (the collective wisdom of mothers) that just when you get a handle on things or you settle into a good routine, your kids change and you have to start all over again with the new needs and adjustments.

It has been a while since I have posted here. The past few weeks have been a season of transition followed by adjustment around here.  Lily has recently dropped her morning nap, which has greatly improved our flexibility in our morning schedule.  She is such a trooper as she makes her way through her now long mornings, and by lunchtime (usually around 11:15) she is starting to fade a little bit and is super tired by the time we finish lunch.  I was hoping her afternoon nap would get longer since she was missing her morning one, but her nap seems to be pretty much the same, sometimes even shorter! I continue to hope that like me, she is also adjusting and will eventually settle in for a pretty predictable two or so hour daily nap.  (Hey, I can wish right?) So for the past few weeks, our afternoons have been long with lots of tears by the end of the day due her exhaustion!  We continue to figure this new rhythm out.  Day by day and sometimes even hour by hour.

We have been gearing up for summer as well around here.  We got Lily a little water table to play with on our back patio, we have also been given a little slide for the backyard from a friend.  Lily has a little picnic table out there as well. Now we just need to convince her that playing outside is fun!  Poor little gal does not seem to enjoy the great outdoors yet! She loves to go for walks in her stroller and swing at the park, but when it comes to walking in the grass, touching anything in nature or walking on unsteady terrain, she is just simply not a fan and she lets you know.  So we have been trying to spend a lot of time outside to work on altering her perspective little by little.

With the joy of more time in the mornings to get out and do things, comes the negative of less time to get things done without the assistance of my sweet little helper and less down time for me.  This has made it hard for me to find time to get online, let alone write.  But I want that to change.  I'm figuring out that I need to get up before Lily if I want to have a quiet time now.  As I have mentioned before, getting up super early has never been my strong suit, but on the mornings that I have, I found my heart to be more open, patient and ready to be filled throughout the day.  The reward far outweighs the cost, but sometimes in those wee hours of the morning, that cost seems pretty pricy.  So I've been trying to do get up early to spend time with God...there is a lot of room for improvement was so much easier to do during her morning nap!  Ahhh change.

I have started working out again.  FINALLY.  I have been struggling in this area for years now, first with trying to coordinate exercise class schedules with working outside of the home but not wanting to eat dinner at 8:30pm, and then it was coordinating nap schedules with Jazzercise class schedules...which did not gel at all until now.  I love Jazzercise and have done it off and on for years.  I am the type of exerciser who needs to have someone telling me what to do the whole time and I love to dance, so its the perfect combo.  So why not quit Jazzercise when it was not working for me through the past few years and do something else? I could have and I almost did- dozens of times, but there was always the secret hope that I could get back to class on a somewhat regular basis...and now, thanks to no more morning nap,  I'm there.  Jazzercise for me has been the only kind of challenging exercise that I can genuinely say that I love. And it feels GREAT to move and work up a big sweat again!  I have a loonngg way to go as far as getting back into shape, but it feels fantastic and encouraging to finally be back on a realistic path to get there.  Lily has done okay in the childcare there as well, which helps.  So we've been settling into that rhythm as well.

On top of all of that, we celebrated Joe's birthday, have been to the park oodles of times, have gone for many long walks, still have not sold our house despite a decent number of showings (will write more about this sometime as it has been a BIG challenge for my heart), I have gone to baby showers, helped with a bridal shower, went to see the symphony at the beautiful Kauffman Center (thanks Jenny), saw a movie in the theater, had several play dates, got a bunch of stuff ready for my mom's annual garage sale, had several open houses, prepared and delivered meals to two new mama friends, have been meeting with my small group weekly, celebrated Mother's Day, had friends over for dinner, had my "Sarah" day, just finished a class on End Times at my church, and have been helping with the new baby ministry at our church as well.  It has been a busy month as far as social engagements and obligations go!

I have been trying to carve out time to read as well.  It's very hard to do because usually by the end of the day, I make it through about three pages before crashing out.  But here is a little glimpse of what I've been making my way through this spring...

Not the greatest photo, but my this was the eighth time I had stacked my books thanks to my little helper so we just did our best....and I forgot one! Oh well!
Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem - This was the book (don't worry, I only had to read a few chapters!) for my Deep Dives Theology class I took at church about End Times.  Our church has offered many "dives" as they are called on different topics, but the End Times one captured my interest this time, so I signed up.  It was a lot of reading required, but it was very interesting.  In addition to the chapters from this book there were other chapters from other books that were handed out in class.  It was a great experience and quite a time committment.  There is a LOT to learn on this topic.

Crazy Love by Francis Chan- This book has been recommended to me so many times and so when our small group decided to read through it together, I was excited.  Now I can recommend it to others! I really appreciate Francis' enthusiasm and honesty about developing an authentic relationship with Jesus.  His writing is genuine and easy to read.

American Assassin by Vince Flynn - I love these books.  Vince Flynn writes about a CIA operative named Mitch Rapp who is always going up against terrorists in some kind of international situation.  His books are page turners and so good! I'm so glad I picked up one of his books in the airport bookstore all those years ago.  One of the best "blind" choices I've ever made!

So Long, Insecurity by Beth Moore -  It's a book I have had on my shelf for a couple of years and finally dove into this spring.  I have been reading it slowly to really take the time to work on some healing and uncovering in my heart that needed to happen.  I'm reading it in the perfect season of my life.

I have also been reading an entry a day from the book Simple Abundance.  It's an oldie but a goodie as it talks about simplifying, ordering, treasuring and savoring all of life's simplest pleasures.  I am sure you are familiar with it.  It was very popular many years ago.  Yes, at times it reads kind of New Age-y, but I just fill in those references with God.  I appreciate the daily reminders to find gratification, joy and beauty all around me in things I already have, things I'm already doing and in places I am already going.

Jesus Calling- Sarah Young - Oh, if you have not read this daily devotional, go get it now! It is so, so powerfully written.  It's written as if Jesus was speaking directly to you and it is amazing. I read this one every day, even though I may not have time to ponder or study its content the way I would like.

I have also been rather obsessed with watching The Good Wife on DVD.  I do not know why it took me so long to start watching despite so many recommendations!  During Lily's naptime, I like to watch an episode while I eat my lunch.  Sometimes Lily's naps are so short that that is all I have time for! But it is a good zone out activity that feels restful to me.  It is something I look forward to each day- and I may have made a special trip (or two) to the post office to get my Netflix mailed that day in order to get my next disc sooner rather than later! I'm already on Season 2 Disc 3!

I have also been thinking and planning a lot for our summer and what I want this summer to be like for our family.  I always have the dream that summer will feel lazy and relaxed, but it never feels that way! It always feels hectic, busy and jam packed.  I will write more about that in another post.  I hope your May was wonderful and that you (unlike us here in eastern Kansas) had a good amount of spring rain followed by lots of flowers.

It is good to be back here...thanks so much for checking back in on me here! I've just been busy settling into change...thankfully I have a lot of help!