Joy! {book review}

The Stats:
Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 176
Publisher: Chosen Books 
Release Date: March 2, 2021
Title: Joy! God’s Secret Weapon for Every Believer
Author: Georgian Banov
Nonfiction

Why I Choose this Book

Joy is a daily part of my life. A joyful heart does good like medicine… In Your presence is fullness of joy… Those who sow in tears will reap in joy… May the God of hope fill you with all joy… The Bible talks so much about joy and so picking up this book seemed like a good idea.  

What I Thought about the Book

I started reading it around four months ago, and it’s a short book, but I had a lot going on in life and didn’t reach for it often. Generally, when I read a book for review I like to finish it within several sittings so I can share my overall impressions in a conscious manner. With all that’s going on in my life right now (family medical issues that have me dividing my time between two states) I’ve stopped requesting books for review, but I still have several that had been sent to me that I’m trying to catch up on. With that in mind though, take my review with a grain of salt. 

The author’s story is intriguing. He was born in communist Bulgaria and was one of the founding members of the first official rock ‘n roll band in the country. He escaped as a young man and came to the USA. 

The book is interesting and the author makes some super good points about how important joy is. As Christians, we’re not supposed to muddle our way through life following a set of rules. The joy of the Lord is supposed to be our strength, and the more we follow that the more power – and strength – our lives will have. 

As I read, I did have some issues. Mostly with the fact that the author seemed to be much more emotions-lead than what I would agree with. Yes, emotions can be valid and they are important. But, there are times when people can get carried away with emotions, even good ones. 

Conclusion 

 I’m not exactly sure where I stand with all this because I haven’t researched it enough so I’m not going in-depth with the subject. I just don’t agree with every aspect of this book, hence why I’m giving it three stars. 

Rating 

I’m giving Joy! 3 out of 5 stars. Thank you to Chosen Books for sending me a copy of the book so I could post this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

The Clash of Feelings and Reality

My alarm wasn’t set to go off until 6:00, but I awoke at 4:45 and after trying to fall back asleep for a few minutes decided I might as well get an early start on the week. Mornings are my favorite – I sit by the open front door and listen to the birds and crickets and sometimes the Piano Guys (not in person, although they’re welcome to serenade me anytime). I live just seven hundred and fifty feet from the Ohio River, and even though I can’t see it from my little home I often walk there in the evenings and watch as the sun sparkles and shimmers over the peaceful water that everyone has assured me is beyond dirty.

Some things in life make me feel like perhaps I’m beginning to grasp what it means to be an adult. Like, my porch swing that sat in a heap on the porch for over three months is finally hung. (When you don’t have tools or knowledge even small home improvements are difficult.) Being able to sit on the swing without having it collapse – well, that’s a good feeling. Weeding my flowerbeds also makes me feel like perhaps I might have life under control. As does buying a mousetrap and catching the critter within a day of discovering it took up residence in my little domine. And the fact that I have my mortgage and electric bill set up to be paid automatically. And that I (finally!) have a screen for the front door – although I just bought it, my roommate’s the one who actually hung it. (Much like the porch swing if you must know, but shhh… I never claimed to be the adult in this home.)

Then there are other things that make me question my past, present, and future. Like how the shower faucet broke over five weeks ago and it’s still not fixed. Or that I let my brakes get so bad on my car before I noticed something was wrong with them that it cost twice as much to fix them as it should have. Or that my spelling is as atrocious now as it was when I was a teenager and I rely on Siri to help me not make a complete fool of myself. (And yes, I literally had to ask Siri how to spell her name just now…)

It’s so easy for me to get overwhelmed with what I can’t do, what I’m not doing, and what I’m doing incorrectly. But when I find myself getting bogged down in the mire of what could be, should be, and needs to be, I feel the joy leaking out of my life. And joy isn’t supposed to be based upon my circumstances – that’s what happiness is for. Joy? Joy is deeper. Joy goes beyond feeling and reason and reminds me that I’m loved by the very Creator of the universe. So I climb out of bed early and watch the world slowly grow light as I seep myself in God’s Words, God’s love, and God’s promises.

Last night I was feeling annoying and sad and overwhelmed by all that’s wrong in the world and wrong with me. But then I stopped to think about reality, and as it turns out, my thoughts and the truth didn’t match up. Sure, I can be annoying, and yes, there is a lot wrong with the world. But, the specifics that I was feeling at that time were just feelings and not based on the truth. When I stopped and thought about it I could see that the condemnation I was experiencing was more likely a result of an over-active imagination and tiredness than how people were actually viewing me. It was a good reminder that feelings are just that – things we feel – and not necessarily the truth.

Something I started doing last year that really helps me is using my prayer journal to sort out my feelings versus reality. I write down everything I am feeling on one side of the page – the good, bad, and conflicting and contradicting feelings – and then on the other side of the page, I use passages from the Bible to write the truth. Realizing that how I feel doesn’t always match up with reality has helped me silence lies and listen to logic and truth.

The day is now bright around me and this post – which started out as a book review and quickly morphed to musings – has reached a length of nearly 800 words. I’m about to pack my lunch (with food that I meal prepped last weekend while being a steller adult) then head to work where I still question how I ended up where I did (because it’s fun and challenging but I’m still an eight-year-old at heart so how did I get so much responsibility?). My day will be long and I’ll probably be extra tired by the end due to my early morning, but it will totally be worth it. I’m thankful for the rejuvenation that I feel this morning, along with the reminder that feelings don’t determine reality. Blessings to you, my friends, and Happy Monday!

The Nature of a Lady

The Stats:
Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 378
Publisher: Bethany House 
Release Date: May 4, 2021
Title: The Nature of a Lady
Author: Roseanna M. White
Fiction

Why I Choose this Book

I chose this book because Roseanna M. White is one of my favorite authors. Her books whisk me straight into whatever world she’s created and hold me captive until the very last page. 

My mom is currently reading her Shadows Over London series, and I can’t wait to give her the Codebreakers trilogy when she’s done. And speaking of those books, if y’all haven’t read them you should request them from your library ASAP – they’re the best. 

What I Thought about the Book

When I read a book there are several things that I subconsciously check for: 

-Characters

-Setting

-Plot

-Believability

-Questionable content 

Characters

My favorite relationship in the entire book was between the main character Libby and her maid, Mabena. It was incredibly sweet, sometimes sad, and made me tear up more than once. There were points that I wished it could have been front-in-center more, and a couple of times where I didn’t feel like enough time was spent focusing on what they were going through, but that’s how life is in general. 

There were many other beautiful, intriguing, and sometimes confusing relationships in the book, all of which made the story feel like it was coming alive. The grandma was also incredibly precious and I just wanted to hug her. 

Setting

The book takes place on the Isles of Scilly, which I’ve discovered I know very little about, and now I really want to research them – or even visit someday. The author did a fabulous job of making them pop in vivid imagery through her beautiful writing. The culture of the islands captured me with scenes of village life, generational feuds, rowboat races, and hot tea on cold mornings. It was delightful. 

Plot

The fact that the author originally thought of the book idea because she has so many readers named Elizabeth and realized that so many people with the same name could be confusing is delightful. 

This story is more character-focused than plot-driven (which is how I like it), but there is a solid plot for the book. It’s just not incredibly fast-paced. While meandering at times, the story kept my focus the entire time and I read it in one day. I didn’t want to put down the story – plot or characters. 

Believability

There were a few things that I raised my eyebrows about, feeling like they were a bit of a stretch, but I generally do that a lot while reading. I thought it was highly unlikely that Libby and her maid would have been allowed to go off to the island by themselves, but I chose to ignore that so I could enjoy the story. 

Questionable Content

I don’t recall anything. There are a few kisses and a bit of violence, but none of it was too detailed. 

Conclusion 

I can’t wait until the next book in the series comes out because this world and these characters are ones I want to be a part of again. This was one of my favorite reads of 2021 for sure. 

Rating 

I’m giving The Nature of a Lady 4.5 out of 5 stars. Thank you to the author for sending me a copy of the book so I could post this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

My Dear Miss Duprè {book review}

Life amuses me at times. If you would have asked me ten years ago where I’d be today, I would have never guessed. Working at the Creation Museum? Yes, that’s a dream come true for me. But I wouldn’t have ever thought I’d be in the position I’m in, or living the life I’m living. What’s exciting though is this is far better than what I had dreamed up for myself.

I’ve had a lot of changes recently in my life. I’m in a new position at the Museum. I’m learning how to be a homeowner during spring (which means a lot of outside work), and I even managed to break my new lawnmower before I even figured out how to start it. Pretty fantastic stuff there, folks. 😉 (Don’t worry, the mower is fixed thanks to a kind neighbor.)

But more about that later (hopefully). For now, I have a book review for y’all.

The Stats

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 354
Publisher: Bethany House
Release Date: March 2, 2021
Title: My Dear Miss Duprè
Author: Grace Hitchcock
Fiction

Backcover Blurb

Willow Dupré never thought she would have to marry, but with her father’s unexpected retirement from running the prosperous Dupré sugar refinery, she is forced into a different future. The shareholders are unwilling to allow a female to take over the company without a man at her side, so her parents devise a plan–find Willow a spokesman king in order for her to become queen of the business empire.

Willow is presented with thirty potential suitors from the families of New York society’s elite group called the Four Hundred. She has six months to court the group and is told to to eliminate men each month to narrow her beaus until she chooses one to marry, ending the competition with a wedding. Willow reluctantly agrees, knowing she must do what is best for the business. She doesn’t expect to find anything other than a proxy . . . until she meets a gentleman who captures her attention, and she must discover for herself if his motives are pure.

Why I Choose This Book

The name of the series is “American Royalty” and that’s a concept that has always been intriguing to me.

What I Thought about the Book

For how many things I didn’t like in the book, I’m surprised by how much I did like. And since that’s a confusing statement, I’ll go with three pros and three cons. 

The Pros:

-I enjoyed the writing style; it was well done and kept my attention. I could imagine the setting and enjoyed getting to visit wintery 1882.

-The story, although predictable, moved at a good pace. Each scene is supposed to move the plot forward, and the author did well with that. Also, this was a unique way to spin a very common type of story so I applaud the author’s ingenuity. 

-I thought Willow’s struggle to change her plans and mindset were very realistic and I liked that a lot. 

The Cons: 

-There were so many guys introduced all at once and I could only keep track of about three of them. 

-The need to suspend belief was high. It’s not plausible that Willow’s parents wouldn’t have been more selective and careful with the process – for how serious the whole thing was, it was treated with a very flippant attitude by the parents. 

-Four out of the five guys we actually got to know bothered me a lot. Some of them I just found annoying, others I disagreed greatly with the choices they made. 

Conclusion 

If you like just enjoying the story and not worrying about how realistic it is, then this is a good book for you. It was clean, had a few sweet moments, and the plot moved at a good pace. 

I enjoyed the author’s writing enough that although this story wasn’t for me, I’ll probably read another one of her books in the future.  

Rating 

I’m giving My Dear Miss Duprè 3 out of 5 stars. Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for sending me a copy of the book so I could post this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Shadows of the White City

It’s a cloudy spring day here in Kentucky and I’m sitting by my open door with rapidly cooling coffee, singing birds, and peaceful piano music. The perfect setting for sharing my favorite read of 2021 with y’all, right?

THE STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 400
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: February 2, 2021
Title: Shadows of the White City
Fiction

ABOUT THE BOOK

The one thing Sylvie Townsend wants most is what she feared she was destined never to have–a family of her own. But taking in Polish immigrant Rose Dabrowski to raise and love quells those fears–until seventeen-year-old Rose goes missing at the World’s Fair, and Sylvie’s world unravels.

Brushed off by the authorities, Sylvie turns to her boarder, Kristof Bartok, for help. He is Rose’s violin instructor and the concertmaster for the Columbian Exposition Orchestra, and his language skills are vital to helping Sylvie navigate the immigrant communities where their search leads. 

From the glittering architecture of the fair to the dark houses of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods, they’re taken on a search that points to Rose’s long-lost family. Is Sylvie willing to let the girl go? And as Kristof and Sylvie grow closer, can she reconcile her craving for control with her yearning to belong?

Why I Choose this Book

 Will I ever not want to read a Jocelyn Green book ASAP? Probably not. Her writing is beautiful, and even if I don’t like the setting or plot, I still enjoy how she weaves the storyline so convincingly and pulls me into the book. 

What I Thought about the Book

The first book in the saga – Veiled in Smoke – was set in a place that I don’t enjoy reading about (Chicago), during a time period I don’t like reading about (the Great Fire), and yet I still ended up enjoying the book because Jocelyn’s writing is amazing. Going into Shadows of the White City I expected some of the same, aka, not enjoying the setting but being wrapped up in the writing. 

But, ohhh, was I wrong. This story may have changed my mind about books that are set in Chicago because I enjoyed it so thoroughly it gave me a new appreciation for the city. It takes place in 1893 during the World’s Fair, and was incredibly interesting to read about. Jocelyn does a fantastic job of weaving historical facts into her stories without making it feel like she’s cramming information into her books. For instance, in this book, one of the main characters gave tours at the World Fair, and sometimes we as the reader got to go along and experience it with the guests. Such a brilliant way to write the cool facts into the story.

Not only did we get to see the intriguing setting of the World’s Fair, but there was a compelling plotline and interesting, and multi-layered characters to round out the reading experience. At the beginning of the book, I was a bit unsure of how I would enjoy the large time gap between Veiled in Smoke and this one, but Jocelyn pulled it off magnificently well and wrote a book whose main character was a middle-aged woman in such a way that she felt relatable. 

There weren’t any characters whose point-of-view I disliked reading from, which is rare for me when it comes to a book with multiple POV. Each of the characters who we got to follow had compelling stories – from Sylvie with her need for control to Rose with her hunger for answers. Kristof was delightful and sweet and I could feel his pain as he tried to figure out the correct way to be a good brother. 

The exploration of lost and pieced together families, cultures colliding, the danger of the era, and a lack of answers kept me from putting down the book. I wanted to read more, more, more. When I got to the end of the story and all the pieces had slid into place I was thankful that I’d gotten to go along for the literary adventure. It’s my current favorite of 2021.

Conclusion 

This book is the second one in the saga, but it can easily be read first or as a standalone. (If reading it first, it will give a few spoilers.) I enjoyed the story a lot and can’t wait to read Jocelyn’s next release.  

Rating 

I’m giving Shadows of the White City 4 out of 5 stars. Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for sending me a copy of the book so I could post this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Talking with God

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodrads
Pages: 160
Publisher: Chosen Books
Release Date: February 2, 2021
Title: Talking with God
Nonfiction

Why I Choose this Book

I love praying, but I also know that I have a narrow mindset when it comes to prayer, and I want to learn and grow. The things I pray about are often close to me, rather than praying in a way that could change the world. It’s so easy for me to see the difference prayer makes when I’m praying for something specific and see it come about, but I want to learn to pray more for things that I might not see answers to during my lifetime. 

What I Thought about the Book

The book is small – just about six and a half inches tall and 160 pages. It’s also beautiful and embossed and shimmery – the kind of book you can leave out on your coffee table and other people happening by will pick it up and read a few pages. It also has a bookmark attached, which is nice and convenient. The book reminded me of a devotional, but it wasn’t one and I appreciated that. 

The author says that there are twelve different parts to prayer: Praise, Waiting, Confession, Scripture Praying, Watching, Intercession, Petition, Thanksgiving, Singing, Meditation, Listening, and once again, Praise. Each part has a chapter devoted to it, where the author explains why it’s important, biblical examples of when/how it was done, and a few easy ways to put that part of prayer into practice. 

Often times my praying looks more like a conversation with a close Friend, which is good. But I also need to balance the fact that my Friend is also the Creator of the universe, and therefore deserving of great respect and honor from me. I appreciated how he pointed that out in the book. 

The book was easy to read, encouraging, and a good reminder that I need to look beyond what I can see and hear, and ask God to help me know what to pray for. 

Conclusion 

I’m very thankful God allows us to talk to Him, and I want to continue to learn and grow with how I talk to Him. This book was a good resource and I am thankful to have read it. 

Rating 

I’m giving Talking with God 4 out of 5 stars. Thank you to Chosen Books for sending me a copy of the book so I could post this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Make Their Day

Last night I did the first Overnight at my job – that’s where a group, most often a school or youth group, come to the Museum in the evening and get to watch DVDs, do a scavenger hunt in the dark throughout the exhibits, eat a late night snack, then spend the night. Sounds pretty great, right? It’s a fun way to help make people’s day more fun, which leads right into the book I’m reviewing today…

Find the book on: AmazonGoodreads
Pages: 144
Publisher: Bethany House
Release Date: February 2, 2021
Title: Make Their Day
Nonfiction

About the Book

You dream of making your presence really count in the lives of others, but you don’t know where–or how–to start. You want to be remembered as a woman who scattered kindness to everyone she knew, but you feel like your busy schedule constantly gets in the way. 

In this practical and deeply touching guide–inspired by her book Reach Out, Gather In–popular author Karen Ehman gives you 101 actionable ideas you can implement today to truly make a difference in the lives of other people. Make Their Day is filled with creative ideas to connect with your family and friends on a deeper level throughout the year. This book will help you develop habits of kindness, reconnect with friends and family, and make encouraging people a priority. You’ll be able to put these ideas into action in real time with everyone in your life–even if hospitality doesn’t come naturally to you or you don’t think you have time. 

Let’s outshine the negativity and hatred in our world, and reach out to others with love, just as God intended.

What I Thought about the Book

The concept of this book is beautiful – giving practical, fun, imaginative, and sometimes whimsical ways to bless other people. It gives ideas that will work for all different budgets, ages, and stages of life. It compasses ideas for multiple different groups of people. It starts with how to bless your Circle of Friends, moves on to Your Family, next is Around Town, then comes Across the Miles, Those who are Hurting, Among the Household of Faith, then the author scatters in a few ideas for the Holidays, and gives a strong ending with things you can do by Opening Your Home. 

I grew up in a very giving and celebrating family where doing special things for people – both who we knew as well as strangers – was a common practice. But, I’m aware this isn’t everyone’s background, and therefore this book is a great way to come up with very doable ideas and ways to bless others. (Plus, it gave me a lot of great new ideas!)

The author did a good job of offering a wide range of ideas – some cost money, some cost time, and some just require a few minutes of set-up, then keeping an eye open for when a situation appears for when you can bless someone. 

The book is also super easy to read. It’s short, simple, and sweet, as well as having a nice design. Each idea takes between 1-3 minutes to read, so it’s easy for even a busy person to pick up for a few moments and be inspired. 

Conclusion 

Unfortunately, even though I like the concept and content of the book it wasn’t my style. It reminded me of a compilation of 101 short blog posts, and while I enjoy reading blogs I’ve discovered over the years that I don’t enjoy books that remind me of blogs. Of course, this is incredibly subjective, and why I went ahead and still gave the book four stars because I do like the idea. 

Rating 

I’m giving Make Their Day 4 out of 5 stars. Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for sending me a copy of the book so I could post this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Brave

Snow has blanketed my little Kentucky home for a week and a half now, which is a long time for the world to stay sparkly white in this part of the world. Each morning I wake up, open the drafts on the wood-burner, stir the almost dying embers, add wood, then sit down with my Bible, coffee, and cozy blankets.

It took me nearly two months of living in my little burrow before I actually liked it here (crazy, I know), but once I made the switch I’ve been overwhelmed by how much I enjoy my home. February has long been one of my favorite months, and this year is no different. Despite the freezing temperatures (I’ve seen my breath inside my home a few times), hardly ever feeling completely warm, and going out to start my car long before I leave for work, there’s something incredibly cozy about being snowed-in, eating soup, and laying in front of the fire to read.

And speaking of reading, here’s my latest review. This book is a winner.

Find the book on: AmazonGoodreads, or check out the Author’s Website
Pages: 180
Publisher: Bethany House
Release Date: February 2, 2021
Title: Brave
Nonfiction

ABOUT THE BOOK

As a parent, you can use certain strategies to help your teenage daughter when she struggles with worry and anxiety. But it is also important that she learns how to work through her emotions on her own, especially as she approaches adulthood.

This guide–created for girls ages 13 to 18–will help your daughter understand anxiety’s roots and why her brain is often working against her when she starts to worry. With teen-friendly information, stories, and self-discovery exercises, including journaling and drawing prompts, she will learn practical ways to fight back when worries come up. She will find more of her voice and her confidence. In essence, she will find more of herself and the brave, strong, deeply loved girl God made her to be.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

There are so many girls – especially teens – who have trouble with worry and anxiety, especially in today’s world. Therefore, I thought it’d be a good idea to give this book a read so I’d possibly have a better understanding of what people who struggle with worry and anxiety are going through. Plus, the author’s last name is the last name of another author I like, and I thought perhaps they were related. 😉 

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

It’s gold. I’m giving it five stars, and we all know I don’t give out that rating easily. I thought perhaps the book would be unbalanced or just be like “You can do anything because you’re awesome” etc… and in a way, it did say that. But it was more like “God created you with the tools you need to beat this worry, and here these tools are.” I am so on-board with the approach this book took, and it makes me want to read the rest of this author’s work. 

The book was split into three sections: Understanding, Help, and Hope. It talked about why and how girls get anxious, signs of how anxiety plays out, definitions of commonly-thrown-around-words, and how the words should actually be used. 

In addition to the emotional side of anxiety, the author delved into the logical and scientific areas of anxiety, which was incredibly helpful and eye-opening. It’s so hard to triumph over something that you can’t understand or process correctly. The author went a step further and talked about the spiritual side of anxiety and how the Enemy is the Father of Lies and will use lies against you. She talked about how we combat those lies with the Truth, and how important it is to acknowledge the lies and not give into believing them.

The book then gave incredibly practical ways to work through anxiety. The way she presented the information made it feel both doable and worth trying. I really appreciated how she gave facts and reasons to back up the advice she was presenting, instead of just expecting girls to take her word for it. 

While reading the book I learned a lot about how the brain works. Although I don’t struggle with anxiety (it’s not that I never worry, it’s just not something that I do a lot), I think the things I learned while reading this book can help me in other areas of life.  

CONCLUSION

Since anxiety isn’t my struggle there were some aspects of the book that I’m not sure if I agree with fully or not, but overall I really like the book. (Obviously.) I highly recommend this book and would enjoy hearing your thoughts on it if you’ve read it. (Especially if anxiety is something you’re working through in your life.)

RATING

I’m giving Brave 5 out of 5 stars. Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for sending me a copy of the book so I could post this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Learning to Budget

When it comes to spending money…I’d rather just not. 

I’m one of those crazy people who enjoys making money more than spending it, finds tracking money and creating budgets to be one of my favorite hobbies, and would rather imagine owning something than actually getting it. But I’m trying to learn how to have a healthy balance when it comes to money and how I view it. Spending isn’t wrong, saving isn’t wrong. But having a healthy balance and the correct motivation is important. 

Last month I did the math with how many meals I made and how much money I spent on groceries and discovered each meal I made cost approximately $1.66. I like to eat fairly healthy with variety and fresh vegetables, so this didn’t seem unreasonable, but I knew I could do better. (This doesn’t take into account the pantry staples I used, just the food I actively bought in January.) 

I decided for February I’d challenge myself to spend just $1.00 per meal. My pantry was still fairly stocked with dried beans, rice, pasta, a few potatoes, onions, cans of food, and a bevy of snacks. My fridge though was nearly empty except for the condiments and salad dressings that plague the door of every refrigerator. There were a couple of meals worth of veggies, but not much. 

The first week of February I was visiting family so that doesn’t count and leaves me with about sixty meals – and sixty dollars – for the rest of the month. 

Some of the items I plan on buying are: 
-Eggs (an inexpensive way to get protein) 
-Baby carrots (a healthy, delicious snack) 
-Purple cabbage (such a vibrant color)
-Lettuce (raw veggies for the win)
-Frozen mixed veggies (for soups, stirfries, etc…)

When it comes to eating inexpensively, it’s harder to do while living on my own. Growing up in a big family we always bought in bulk and went for the big bags of everything. Nowadays, when I buy a big bag of fruit or veggies it’s a race to see if I can finish it before it goes bad. And most of the time I lose. 

But there are other ways to save money. Like buying discounted produce. And making soups. And eating things that are in season. Today I was planning on going to the grocery store, but then we got a snow storm so I stayed home and made soft pretzels instead. (Which cost about $1.95 for a dozen of them, rather than buying a single one for double that price.)

Join me this month as I shop and cook on a budget, and maybe we can learn some things together.

My Burrow

Growing up there were a number of things that I thought made my home delightful – a wood burner for heat, a porch where our family spent a lot of time, a window by the kitchen sink, and beautiful blue walls.

There were also those things that I thought would make a house optiomal – a washer and dryer in a convenient space like the bathroom, a white wainscot, windows in every room, and smallness… I definitely didn’t want a big house.

When I started praying about one day buying a house, I really wasn’t too specific, because I didn’t have a lot of ideas of what I did or didn’t want. Basically I just prayed that God would provide the right house for me – a house that wasn’t big, but had two bedrooms so I could rent one of them out. A house that was in a safe location near work so I could live there without worrying my parents, plus have renters. A house that didn’t have a lot of remodeling needed in order to make it livable – a bonus would be if I liked the colors of all the walls because painting and I don’t mesh well. And place to park my camper would make my heart happy.

There were a few other things that sat in the back of my mind, but I didn’t really think about them consciously – like how I wanted to be as close to living in the country as I could while still being able to manage the property by myself, having good neighbors, and having a yard. A home with a living area big enough to host company, a kitchen with room for storage, and a tub in the bathroom.

Mostly, I didn’t want to go house hunting. I wanted God – or someone else – to basically drop the home in my lap and I’d buy it. It seemed like a big request, but I knew it wasn’t too big for God, so even though I had no intentions of buying a house any time soon, I began praying about it.

If you would have told me at the beginning of 2020 that I’d move into my absolute dream home that autumn I wouldn’t have known how to respond, but that’s exactly what happened. Everything I’d prayed for, everything I’d imagined, was all wrapped up in one beautiful home and handed to me. I feel blessed, honored, and amazed by it all.

Recently I’ve finally had time to add a few of the personal touches I’ve always dreamed of – white lights around the living room, pictures on the walls, and a clean rug due to finally having a vacuum. I’ve been praying for ages that my home will be a place of peace, a place where people can come and relax, have good conversations, and draw closer to each other and to God.

I call it My Burrow.

This is because whenever I get stressed out I like to imagine being a little bunny safely tucked away in a homey burrow deep underground with soft lighting and cute little gingham curtains… Yes, I did grow up on Peter Rabbit and know it’s not exactly how it works. But it’s delightful imagery and that’s enough for me.

Each day my burrow is feeling more and more like a safe haven of rest. A place where peace presides and joy is felt. I’m thankful for the gifts God has given me, and look forward to being able to bless others through hospitality as the weeks and months of life come and go.