Before I Called You Mine

Three Random Facts for Today:

-I’m keeping a mental countdown until I’ll be able to turn the water back on in my camper. After 105 days of hauling all my water in buckets and making sure nothing goes down the drain, I’m looking forward to using a faucet again.

-Budgeting is one of my current favorite things. Tracking each penny I spend and planning out what I can buy instead of being impulsive is some serious fun.

-Even living on my own in a camper I still lose my silverware and food storage containers. The only reasonable explanation I can think of is that I must by mistake forget it at work. (I sometimes leave it in the breakroom to dry after washing it, and yesterday I did see someone else using my spoon which is perfectly okay, and also made me feel better about it because I couldn’t figure out how in the world I could misplace it in my tiny home.)

And now, review time…

THE STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 368
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: March 31, 2020
Title: Before I Called You Mine
Fiction

1

ABOUT THE BOOK

Lauren Bailey may be a romantic at heart, but after a decade of matchmaking schemes gone wrong, there’s only one match she’s committed to now–the one that will make her a mother. Lauren is a dedicated first-grade teacher in Idaho, and her love for children has led her to the path of international adoption. To satisfy her adoption agency’s requirements, she gladly agreed to remain single for the foreseeable future; however, just as her long wait comes to an end, Lauren is blindsided by a complication she never saw coming: Joshua Avery.

Joshua may be a substitute teacher by day, but Lauren finds his passion for creating educational technology as fascinating as his antics in the classroom. Though she does her best to downplay the undeniable connection between them, his relentless pursuit of her heart puts her commitment to stay unattached to the test and causes her once-firm conviction to waver.

With an impossible decision looming, Lauren might very well find herself choosing between the two deepest desires of her heart . . . even if saying yes to one means letting go of the other.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

In an act of unprecedented first-glance-book-cover-judging, I took one look at this book when it showed up in my inbox and decided it wasn’t for me. For some crazy reason, my brain instantly slotted it on the Nonfiction-Prepare-For-Marriage-Advice shelf and I didn’t give it a second thought. Therefore, I missed out on the chance of requesting a physical copy for my bookshelves. (Which I’m now sad about.)

Fast forward a few days and I was browsing NetGalley (an e-book review site) and this book popped up again. I took the time to actually look at it this time and not only is the cover simple and beautiful, but the premise is intriguing. A book about a single lady wanting to adopt? I instantly downloaded the book and started reading.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

It was in the evening when I began reading the book and I seriously didn’t want to put it down. The rollercoaster of emotions that I went through as I read the first two-thirds of the book makes me want to read more by this author.

As a single person myself – just a few years younger than Lauren, the main character, – I found that sometimes half of my brain was engaged with what I was reading, while the other half zoomed around trying to figure out if I ever could do what Lauren was doing. What would it look like if I, too, adopted? Although I’ve never felt strongly that I will adopt, it’s always been something I’ve considered a possibility, and this book felt like a scarily realistic view of what the process would look like. The details and emotions were so clear and well-written that I wasn’t at all surprised in the author’s note to discover that the author has an adopted child.

There are so many things I want to discuss about this book and I was going to include a spoiler section until I remembered that the book isn’t even published yet (it releases next month). So, I’ll just keep my spoilers to myself since I can’t discuss them with people who have already read the book. (If you buy the book, you should message me so we can talk together.)

Lauren was frustratingly unlike me. Except for her emotions surrounding adoption I couldn’t relate to her at all. Partway through the book she makes some choices that really annoyed me – keep in mind, she was totally staying in character and I think the author did a fantastic job writing her. Just, she made me want to clap my hands in front of her face and be like “No!” It was also about this time that I had to put the book down (after hours of reading) so I could go to sleep.

My annoyance at Lauren and a time-hop the book took (one of my least favorite things in fiction) made me kinda dreading finishing the book, so I didn’t pick it back up for a couple of weeks. And that, in turn, lowered my rating from 4 stars to 3.5, but this is purely subjective and something that probably won’t bother most readers.

All in all the story is packed full of emotions, has a worthy storyline, and has interesting and unique characters.

CONCLUSION

The first two-thirds of the book was magic. I just wanted to read for forever and was completely immersed in the story. The last third wasn’t my favorite, but I don’t think that’s any reflection on the story or the writing, it’s just a preference thing.

All in all the book is clean (it has a few kisses, but nothing inappropriate that I remember), void of violence, and doesn’t use bad language.

RATING

I’m giving Before I Called You Mine 3.5 out of 5 stars. I’m thankful for the generosity of the publishers for giving me an e-copy of this book so I could review it for y’all. This is a fantastic read for anyone who is considering (or knows anyone considering) adoption, or if you’re looking for a heart-tugging and beautiful read.

The Expedition of Learning Change

During my early morning ponderings, I’ve come to a rather enlightening (and quite obvious) conclusion: Life is exceedingly full of change and transitions and therefore I must find a way to deal with them faster.

The last year and a half I’ve been working at learning how to embrace change instead of fighting it – to learn how to not just accept change, but eventually get excited about it. It’s not easy, and I fail quite often, but at least I’m on the right track and when I catch myself beginning to get uptight about change I remind myself to relax and go with the flow.

I spend my time leading up to a transition asking a lot of questions, feeling out the situation, praying about it, and preparing the best I can so that when the change takes place I’m ready to enter a new routine.

Changes have gotten a lot smoother for me as I follow that method. And that’s a good thing because the last two and a half years of my life have been full of non-stop change. Many of my family members have moved during that time, two of my sisters got married, moved out of state and started a completely new life…the list goes on.

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Recently it hit me that January is the only month in the last year when I didn’t feel like I was having change thrown at me from all directions – the only time when I could focus on the moment, on life, and on making sure my life is on track.

So much of my time is spent playing catch up and learning new routines. I get used to one aspect of life only to look up and find that another change is looming ahead of me and I scramble to prepare for more changes.

Y’all, I literally wrote my birthday thank you notes in January – my birthday is at the end of September. This isn’t because I forgot about writing them, no, I thought about them on a regular basis. This is because all my brain power felt like it was being used up on focusing on the day to day, change, and learning new routines.

January was an absolutely amazing month. Work was slower and there were no new changes, so I got caught up on tons of things. I felt like I was thriving. It was delightful and I felt like everything in life was falling into place. Then the second week of February hit me with another load of change and all at once I was in the mire again – focusing and learning more than thriving and doing.

And thus the pondering – the solution hunting – began.

I’m pretty happy with how I’m learning to deal with change. I just need to figure out a way to expedite the process, because at the rate I’m going I’ll nearly alwasy be in Mire-Mode, slogging through change and missing the feeling of freedom that accompanies thriving in the normal.

The other day I suddenly imagined myself as a mom barely getting used to having a baby before I have to get used to toddler mode, and that trend continuing for the rest of my life. Not cool, right?

Nowadays when I think about change, I also think and pray about how I can learn to get used to change faster. How I can process it in a healthy, but quick, way. How I can find routines that are versatile enough to sway with the ebb and flow of change, but solid enough to help my routine-loving soul thrive.

How are some ways that you deal with getting used to change faster?

The Art of Friendship

This morning I woke up on my couch – where I’d moved in the middle of the night after getting annoyed at the rain dripping on me from the little skylight over my bed. The adventures of camper living continue and I’m thankful for a warm and dry place to sleep.

Last night I set my alarm for 6:00 so I could make sure I’d get in blogging time before leaving for work at 8:30. My routine has been a bit off recently and yesterday was the first time in several weeks where I felt like I was back in the swing of things.

Do any of you thrive on routine? And if so, do you have recommendations of how to thrive even when there isn’t routine? Because I seriously need help sometimes. 😉

And now, a review:

THE STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 192
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: January 7, 2020
Title: The Art of Friendship
Nonfiction

1

ABOUT THE BOOK

In this age of limitless digital connections, we are somehow lonelier than ever. This isn’t just bad news–it’s dangerous news. Loneliness puts us at greater health risk than smoking or obesity, but we would sooner label ourselves overweight than admit we are lonely. It is a secret that is killing us.

Contrary to all our efforts, the answer is not found in more connections, but deeper ones that mirror God himself as the originator of friendship and the original Friend. The Art of Friendship walks with you into a greater understanding of how God has equipped you to be a friend and to have meaningful friendships. With step-by-step guidance, you will begin to strategize how to fulfill your divine calling as a friend. And through God’s Word, as you come to understand the depth and width and breadth of God as Friend, you will discover that the spiritual discipline of friendship is both life-changing and life-giving.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

Friendship – I’m learning more about it. The ins, the outs, and what place it has in my life.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

The first half of the book was solid for me – I would have happily given it four stars and was looking forward to continuing to read. Then the second half of the book ended up not really hitting the right chords for me and I had a harder time getting through it.

Three Pros:

-The author writes in a real, amusing, identifiable way. She has hard-hitting truths, funny anecdotes, practical advice, and biblical examples. She seems like she’s lived an interesting life, and I felt like I got to know her through the pages of her book.

-The first half of the book talks about what friendship is, the importance of friendship (including looking at what the Bible has to say about it), how to be a friend, and things we can work on in our own lives. I flew through this part and appreciated it a lot.

-The overall message of the book was an uplifting look at friendship and how we can build deep and enduring friendships in an age when “friends” are sometimes considered to be a number on social media. She also talks a lot about what it means to love in the way that the Bible tells us to, and that was encouraging.

Three Cons:

-The second half of the book is when I stopped nodding my head and agreeing with most of what I was reading. She talked about friendship like a menu where you choose your various friends like you’d choose a meal in a restaurant. Her example probably has merit and holds up when you dig deeper, but it just felt really weird to me and I didn’t like the idea behind it.

– Most of the time I felt like she had a balanced view on friendship, but sometimes in the second half of the book it seemed like she was saying “Be a good friend so people will be a good friend to you”. And while there isn’t anything wrong with wanting people to be a good friend to you, I felt like the attitude behind why we should be a good friend felt off.

-She talks about “Covenant Friendship” like what David and Jonathan had. And, while I agree with some of what she said, she went to an extreme that I don’t agree with.

CONCLUSION

I appreciate the first half of the book, but I don’t agree with everything in the second half. I wouldn’t discourage people from reading it, but it’s not a book that I’m giving a huge recommendation. Still, it’s a neat look at friendships.

RATING

I’m giving The Art of Friendship out of 5 stars. I’m so thankful for the generosity of Bethany House Publishers for sending me a copy of this book so I could review it and share it with y’all.

The Change of Expectations

When I went back home to Ohio for two weeks this month I gleefully took my computer along – I was going to be back in my old routine and of course, that meant blogging regularly.

Instead, the only time my loyal little laptop saw the light of day was when I had a recipe to look up (I was cooking at the retreat where I used to work), and one night I looked up some YouTube clips to show a friend.

There’s been a reoccurring theme in my life recently, and that theme came to play in a big way this month.

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See, I’ve been learning how to be versatile and change my expectations. 

Picture someone who has expectations. Then multiple those expectations by a lot, combine them with a good imagination, and throw in a simulator that can come up with a dozen variations to said expectations…and you have me.

It’s not that I have a particular way I want everything done (although that might be true), it’s more that I don’t like being mentally unprepared. The quickest way to throw me off track is to make me think I’m living a routine day, then jerk the routine out of the equation. If I’m going someplace strange, doing something different, or learning a new skillset, my brain pleads with me to ask for as much information regarding the situation as possible.

And that’s not bad. In fact, I find it very helpful and will probably continue doing it all my life. What is bad, is when I cease to function properly if I haven’t been able to garner the sought after information. Or, even worse, when I have a whole library of scenarios stacked neatly in the cubicles of my brain, only to discover that I’m not only in a different genre but also on the wrong shelf.

But that’s life.

Spontaneous isn’t a word people would use to describe me, and unfortunately, neither is laidback. But both those qualities are good. They don’t need to become part of my identity (which is good), but they are traits I’m working on developing – a little bit at a time, while giving myself a lot of grace. And by doing a lot of mental preparation. (Yes, it’s true. I mentally prepare to be spontaneous. Laugh if you want, it is rather amusing.)

In 33 minutes I get to scurry off to work get a full day of training for something I’ve never done before. And yes, it is a bit overwhelming. I spent yesterday asking questions about what I’ll be doing and exactly what’s expected of me. One of my coworkers did the training earlier this week and I kinda cornered him as he was leaving work yesterday and asked him everything I could think of about what to expect. I felt a lot better after that.

And now, it’s out of my hands. I’ve prepared as much as I can, and it’s gonna be fine. It will be a good day, and I’m actually starting to get excited about all I get to learn. Because today, my expectations have been set at the go with the flow and learn as you go level.

Now I’ve got to hurry and get ready for the day, so, so long, folks!

Listen Well, Lead Better

This morning I was super confused. I was trying to figure out if it was Friday or Saturday morning, and it took far too long for me to finally arrive at the conclusion that we were still near the beginning of the week. It took another fifteen minutes or so for it to suddenly dawn on me that it was Tuesday, not Wednesday. So, there’s that.

The funny thing was, I was so relieved and excited when I realized I still had most of the week to live. So, with that in mind, I’m going to attempt to write a book review before hurrying off to work. Enjoy, my friends. 😉

THE STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 192
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: January 7, 2020
Title: Listen Well, Lead Better
Nonfiction

1

ABOUT THE BOOK

Why do so many leaders prioritize their speaking skills when communication studies show we spend more time listening than reading, writing, or speaking? The reality is, most people are below-average listeners, and it’s keeping them and their team members from reaching their potential.

In Listen Well, Lead Better, Steve and Becky Harling share 10 practices that will help you be a more effective listener and leader. Learn how to ask better questions, make people feel heard and valued, and create an open and positive culture. Strong listeners also enjoy greater credibility, navigate conflicts better, and foster more engaged teams. Above all, the lessons here will help you hear from God more clearly and gain his wisdom on all matters in life. Becoming a better listener will transform how you lead and relate to everyone.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

Learning and growing and becoming more of who God wants me to be is a never-ending pursuit of mine. Learning to listen better seems like a perfect step to take while continuing on this journey. Plus, with my job I sometimes get to do various types of leading, so this book seemed very applicable to my life.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

Short Answer: I really liked it.

Longer Answer: Hello, friends. I have a book that I really like and would be delighted to tell you about. In fact, I’ve already started recommending it to my friends at work. I told my boss all about it – mostly because he’s one of the best leader-listeners I’ve ever met and so the book kept making me think about him.

Every chapter in this book covers a topic that I think would be helpful for anyone – not just the leader, although that is the main focus. The authors (a husband and wife team) share candidly from their own lives, letting us learn from their mistakes, as well as see their victories.

Reading the book will help you discover how you can become more self-aware without becoming self-obsessed (a huge difference), figure out how to view and engage in conflict in a constructive manner, ask helpful questions, and show people that they’re valued. Each chapter ends with a list of questions that you can ask yourself and other people to gauge where you are and help you grow to where you should be.

The last chapter talks about how we should take the time to stop the busyness of life each day and listen to God. I was delighted that they included that, because no matter how successful you are as a leader (or person) and no matter how well you listen to people, if you’re not listening to God, then your life will never be all it can be.

CONCLUSION

I really enjoyed reading this book. It helped me grow, inspired me to listen better, and made me want to give out a dozen copies to friends. It’s equipping, easy to read, and quotes the scriptures to back up the points they’re trying to make.

RATING

I’m giving Listen Well, Lead Better out of 5 stars. I’m so thankful for the generosity of Bethany House Publishers for sending me a copy of this book so I could review it and share it with y’all.

The Rejuvenation

I just turned over the last pages of a book, my coffee is nearly gone, my camper has finally warmed up, and I have The Piano Guys jamming out on my phone (not literally, of course). These wee hours of cuddling with blankets on my couch and knowing that the rest of the world hasn’t fully awoken yet so I can ignore my phone are my refueling times.

As the clock ticks on, my phone gives me the alert that I need to be at work in an hour, so I start to switch gears and wrap things up. Clothing to don, lunch to pack, a little home to straighten.

If I were an electronic device, sleep might be the equivalent of being plugged in, but my real rejuvenating times – imagine a supercharge of some kind – comes from these calm and quiet mornings. Mornings, when I can pray, seek God, repent of sins I’ve seen in my life, and ask God to help me become more like Him. Reading His Word, memorizing His truth, and acknowledging that I’m nothing without Him have helped me keep my life on track.

Life has a way of zooming by. When I’m in a period of transition – learning something new – all too often all my energy is focused on that particular area of life and I forget about the rest. I forget about personal growth and making sure I’m walking in love. I forget to do self-checks and make sure I’m not allowing sin to creep into my life. I forget to keep up with the little things – which, when you look back on each season of life, aren’t so little after all.

My morning times help combat this phenomenon.

The quiet times in the morning aren’t about me. They’re about seeking God. They’re a time when I remind myself that without Him, I’m nothing. A time when I dig into His Truth, so I have the adequate tools to keep the lies of the world at bay. A time when I can assess how my life is going and ask His help to see the truth, instead of through the prejudiced glass of how I often see myself. It’s a time when I can delve into books that will help me learn and grow.

The mornings are a delight. My favorite part of the day. A peaceful lull in the chaotic abundance of life’s busyness. The mornings are my moorings – the anchor that helps me stay resting in the goodness of God.

Lies Women Believe {It’s only January and I already have a 5-star read}

Good morning, friends! Every once in a while I get into a kick when nonfiction is my go-to for reading, and I find myself wanting to get up earlier each morning so I can read for longer before heading off to work. This book pushed me into one such mood, and a couple books later, I’m still happily there.

THE STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 320
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Title: Lies Women Believe
Nonfiction

2

ABOUT THE BOOK

Counter the lies that keep you from abundant living.

Satan is the master deceiver; his lies are endless. And the lies Christian women believe are at the root of most of their struggles.

“Many women live under a cloud of personal guilt and condemnation,” says Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. “Many are in bondage to their past. Others are gripped by fear of rejection and a longing for approval. Still others are emotional prisoners.”

In this bestseller, Lies Women Believe, Nancy exposes those areas of deception most commonly believed by Christian women—lies about God, sin, priorities, marriage and family, emotions, and more. She then sheds light on how we can be delivered from bondage and set free to walk in God’s grace, forgiveness, and abundant life. Nancy offers the most effective weapon to counter and overcome Satan’s deceptions: God’s truth!

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

Last year I read A Mom’s Guide to Lies Girls Believe and it was amazing. I wrote a five-star review, have recommended it to many people, and have even pulled it out multiple times to read quotes to friends. It was in my top three books I read in 2019, and since I read over 120 books, that’s saying a lot.

When I realized I had the opportunity to read this book and share my thoughts about it with y’all, I was delighted.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

I am a very honest person. Or, at least I thought I was. Recently though, I’ve been realizing I lie to myself a lot. Would I lie to someone else? Of course not. But, when I lie to myself I can easily justify the whys and swallow the believable excuses I hand myself. I tell myself that it’s okay because no one is getting hurt, when in reality I’m hurting myself by living as if the lies I believe are truth.

As I read this book, I realized that I not only believed the lies I told myself, but I also believe lies that are prevalent in our culture today. Identifying the lies, and then combating them with the truth from God’s Word can make a world of difference in how I live and what I do with my time and energy.

Some of the categories the lies in this book fall into are Lies Women Believe About:
-God
-Themselves
-Sin
-Emotions
-Sexuality
-Priorities and
-Marriage

Some of the specific lies the book talks about are:
-I can’t control my emotions
-I don’t have time to do everything I’m supposed to do
-My sin isn’t really that bad
-If my circumstances were different, I would be different
-I have to have a husband to be happy
-I need to love myself more
-I should not have to live with unfulfilled longings

Each of the lies is discussed, described, and then combated with God’s Word. It was so refreshing and enlightening to see what God has to say, compared to what the world is throwing at us.

Reading this book not only helped me identify areas in my life that I need to change but also reminded me about how amazing it is to serve a God who knew what lies we’d be facing long before we were ever born. God’s Word is full of wisdom, help, answers, and loving commandments about how we’re supposed to live our lives to bring God glory and honor.

CONCLUSION

I can’t say enough good things about this book. I highly recommend it. There were a few minor things I didn’t agree with, but they didn’t take away from the overall message of the book at all.

 

RATING

I’m giving Lies Women Believe out of 5 stars. I’m so grateful for the generosity of the publisher for sending me a copy of this book so I could review it and share it with y’all.