Category Archives: books

Podcasts

Recently, I’ve started listening to some podcasts. I know, I know; I’m a several months (years?) late to that party. With young children constantly around me, it’s sometimes hard to listen to spoken word (you know, something that I actually need to pay attention to if I want to comprehend what’s happening), and that’s most of the reason I’m late to the podcast-listening idea. I can’t just turn one on when I get in the car because I usually have several people communicating wth me at once. I don’t need another voice added to the fray. But I’ve really enjoyed getting recommendations from friends about what podcasts are making them think, which ones are encouraging them, or even affecting heart change. So naturally, I’ve started putting in my headphones a little more often, and, you know, crying while I mow the lawn or fold the laundry. It’s almost like reading a book, but I can work on something else while I’m doing it.podcast

It been so interesting to me how God has ordained things in my life, right down to which podcasts I’m listening to. Ever think He doesn’t influence the small things in your life? Just look for connections between your struggles and an innocent book or podcast suggestion made by a friend. I know He is wooing me through different ways every single day, pursuing me by letting me hear from Him even in the oddest of places.

That all being said, I’ll tell you about these podcasts I’m checking out. I started with The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey. She brings another person (often one of her friends) onto her show and they talk about real life and I have LOVED it. It’s often a faith-based writer or speaker and I can get choked up just hearing them have real conversation about their lives. It’s so fun listening in on a conversation that feels like it would’ve happened the same way, even if they weren’t recording. After I blasted through several episodes of Jamie’s show, I got turned onto That Sounds Fun with Annie F. Downs. She has similar guests and conversations, but she has a cool perspective, too. Basically what I’ve realized is that these two hosts are writers, they have writers on their shows frequently, and I am totally inundated with books I want to buy/read because of it. And these aren’t usually novels that I can get on my Kindle and just blast through in a few days because they’re easy reads. These are the sort of life-changing books that I want to dig into. I want to have my own paper copy because I like underlining and circling and reading them again and again. For instance, I’ve already ordered Annie’s Let’s All Be Brave and one of her guests’ (John Mark Comer) books called Garden City. I want to hear the Lord speaking to me, I want to learn about Him and others’ experiences with Him and His goodness. Wouldn’t you?

Now don’t think I’m all crazy – I don’t necessarily think that God ordained these people to say things that are meant just for me. But I do think that there is knowledge we can glean from hearing about others’ journeys. I think we can hear from God when hearing someone else talk, teach, preach. I think we are more in tune to His voice than we think, but we often don’t give Him the credit when He speaks to us through the words of others.

Do you have any podcasts that you think I’d like? Please comment with them! I’m LOVING listening to them!!

Hag-Seed: The Tempest Retold, by Margaret Atwood

hag seed
Image of the book cover found on Google.

I must admit, when I caught sight of this book on the shelf at the library, I snagged it without even reading the cover, simply because I knew I had read Margaret Atwood before and loved it. So I began Hag-Seed without really knowing what I was getting into.

The book is a part of Hogarth Shakespeare, a project I actually hadn’t heard of before. It aims to see Shakespeare’s works retold by acclaimed modern novelists. The Tempest is the story being retold here, and to be honest, it’s a play I’m not familiar with, but Atwood summarizes it at the end of the book.

The premise of Hag-Seed is that a washed-up play director with a reputation for pushing boundaries gets screwed out of his job by a colleague. He has an epic meltdown, sets his sights on revenge, and then moves to a new town to start over, teaching literacy through theatre (read: Shakespeare) at a local prison. He takes Shakespeare’s plays, and adapts them for his rag-tag group of convicts, letting them take some artistic license, of course. Together they do costumes, set design, and even film the production at the end of the class to be viewed by the other inmates. Of course, the play being done when we are a part of the story is The Tempest. The director is definitely a little bit bonkers, obsessed with his former life and bringing his eccentricities with him to his new one, but it makes for an interesting read to see how everything comes together at the end.

I wouldn’t call it an easy beach read, but I would definitely say it’s worth a try! The beginning dragged a little for me, so don’t put it down when you realize the story doesn’t truly start till a few chapters in. Find it at your local library, and give Hogarth Shakespeare a try! I’d like to find another book from the project, and give it a try, too.

Some Thoughts on Evangelism.

Evangelism is something that used to scare me. In my youth, to me it meant that we would go around handing out gospel tracks, or randomly starting conversations with people, so that we could pray with them, hoping to lead them to Jesus. It had less to do with fostering a love of Jesus or a desire to worship him, and more of a way to get another tick on our evangelist’s counter.

As you might imagine, this didn’t work very well for me.

As an adult, the word still scares me a little bit, because I don’t quite know how to put my feelings into words. The scars are still there from my misinterpretations as a youth. But there is so much hope, for me and for you, to be able to overcome the scars of myself and others, and continue on into the love of Jesus in a true sense, and then share it with the world.


Recently, during my quiet time (I’ve been studying through the Psalms, in case you didn’t know) I was convicted as I read Psalm 71. I’ll put the part I’ll focus on here so you don’t have to look it up…

Psalm 71:14-18
But I will hope continually,
and will praise you yet more and more.
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
of your deeds of salvation all the day,
for their number is past my knowledge.
With the mighty deeds of the Lord God I will come;
I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone.
O God, from my youth you have taught me,
and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
So even to old age and gray hairs,
O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation,
your power to all those to come.

Well, I have to begin by saying that the psalmist surely stirred up some excitement and laid a healthy burden on me to share more of the Gospel. Our mouths should tell of His righteous acts and deeds of salvation! We should proclaim His wondrous deeds and His might! It not only encourages our brothers and sisters in Christ, and not only spreads the truth of the Gospel to all ears, but it fosters our believing but sometimes wayward hearts by proclaiming and declaring what we know to be true.

Let’s talk for a moment about “proclaim” and “declare”. As a worship leader, sometimes I am moved during a song to encourage the congregation to proclaim or declare some of the lyrics we’re singing. There’s a slight difference between those words, and so it’s important to do both, sometimes. To proclaim is to announce something openly, publicly, and officially. To declare is to solemnly and emphatically say something. Another definition even says to reveal one’s intentions or identity. To proclaim the righteousness of fearsome and loving God, and the salvation attainable through Christ Jesus are things that should be proclaimed, shouted from the pulpits, platforms, and rooftops. To declare that death has been defeated, and that we are made new in Christ is a truth that can reveal our identity, and alter our intentions.

So as I read those verses of Psalm 71, and then read them again, and then prayed them then and there over my life and my vocation, I was convicted. I was reminded that we, as followers of Jesus, are called to live by his example, which was indeed proclaiming God’s righteousness and mighty acts, proclaiming His wondrous deeds to every generation and all those to come. In one of the books I’m reading (Lioness Arising. Lisa Bevere. Find it. Buy it. Devour it as I have done.) she encourages us to use our circles of influence to share God’s truths and Jesus’s words. While I’m on the platform, every Sunday, worshiping the Lord, and hopefully bringing everyone in that journey alongside me, I have even more opportunity than I allow myself (or at least remember that I have) to actually speak Scripture and truth into the congregation. I have this very site where I share funny quips from my kids and what we ate for dinner last week, but I shouldn’t neglect the possibilities this site provides for the sharing of God’s Word. I have family members, friends, acquaintances, and sometimes strangers that I can come alongside and encourage, pray for/with, and speak truth into. Why should I be scared of being an evangelist? Why should I be nervous to do what Jesus did?

Stir It Up -Finding My Calling as I Go

As I was reading and having some quiet time yesterday afternoon, an image came to me, and I just had to stop and pray about it. I was led to pray for God to “stir up” my calling within me. I haven’t ever had a single moment in my life where I thought, This is it! This is the thing that I’m supposed to do forever! I’ve had many times where I’ve really been enjoying a job or a season or a ministry with which I’ve been involved. But I don’t know that any of those things ever resulted in a clear “Aha!” moment.

However, I do think that I’ve been easing into my calling for years. I love music. I love worship. I love Jesus. I love my husband and my kids. Just recently, I’ve been made aware (through His grace and a little bit of providence) that I love women’s ministry. I’m reading two books right now (Wild and Free by Hayley Morgan and Jess Connolly, which I’m almost done with, but I just can’t read more than a little bit at a time because I cry a lot, and Lioness Arising, by Lisa Bevere) that are focused on women, and focused on freedom in Jesus to be who He has called you to be. These books are changing my thoughts about women and ministry, and women’s ministry. I am learning that freedom and wildness is what Jesus wants for us, especially as women, where we can feel so bound by our roles (familial, cultural, etc) and the chains that come with them. The most beautiful thing about us, as women who follow Jesus, is that we are all different. We have things that we’re good at, and not so good at, things we love, and things we don’t like to do as much. We are fierce, whether loudly or quietly. We are called and equipped and FREE to do His will, and that’s an incredible (and overwhelming) feeling. These books, coupled with the Scriptural references within, are truly opening my eyes to a new way of thinking about myself and how Jesus sees me.

So when I felt like He was leading me to pray for a “stirring up” of my calling, I pictured it this way: there are lots of pieces of me – things that I’m good at, things I love, and spheres of influence that I have been welcomed into. There are all these ingredients for Him to work with, as He is crafting me into a woman of His own design and His own purpose. What will it all hold for me? I don’t know yet. But I am praying now more than ever that I will be cognizant of His call, sensitive to His voice, and willing to go wherever it is He would have me go. And isn’t it usually true that it’s going to be uncomfortable along the way? I’ve been praying about that, too.

You see, I have had this idea about what I should be doing with my church job, my blog, my family, my friends. I felt like I had found a good niche with all of these things. But I’m learning that it can grow stale if I don’t listen to what He is telling me. (Disclaimer: I’ve not been unhappy in any of these situations. I’m just learning to grow in them instead of stagnate.) I truly do want Him to stir up a calling. I want Him to take all the ingredients of which I am made, and have Him stir it up into something for His good.

So let it be, Lord. Stir it up within me. Make me into a wild, fierce woman for Your kingdom.

Currently – The New Year’s Edition!

I can’t believe it’s 2017! We are here already, friends, and this year is waiting for no one. After a year of what many are calling “bad luck” (or something worse), I’m ready for a fresh start… and that means the first Currently update of the year! Since it’s the first of the month as well, I’m linking up with Anne In Residence, and Jessica at An Immeasurable Joy. Here’s what I’m currently up to!

Gathering || storage devices and ideas. Every January, I’m overwhelmed at the stuff we accumulated at Christmas. Most of it was either needed (new clothes, for instance), or really wonderful things my kids are loving playing with (this year, it’s dress up clothes). But just making sure that the kids are able to (help) put it away, or that I’m able to keep it organized so I don’t lose my mind when someone asks, “Where is this item?” is imperative for their playtime and my sanity. I’m always looking for hacks on this topic, so fire away if you’ve got some!

Making || a routine and a schedule. I used to love planners when I was a student, but I let them fall by the wayside after college… and my first iPhone. However, EK picked one out for me for Christmas (it happens to be a Lilly one, yay!) and now I’m really excited about using it! I’m going to splurge on a set of nice colored pens, and get to scheduling!

Sipping || Hot, spiced apple cider with a splash of bourbon. It’s been my recent drink of choice, because I love warm drinks in the cold. My friend Mary Catherine introduced me to the phenomenon, and I can’t stop. The spiced cider at Trader Joe’s is yummy (and comes in a huge jug) but I’ve also been happy with the smaller jars I’ve found at Lowe’s Foods.

Resolving || to read more (for pleasure) in 2017, as well as get deeper into the Scriptures. I’ve long been making excuses about why I don’t have time to do these two things (small kids, mostly) but it’s time for me to plan in some quiet moments for both. I’ve always loved reading (I wrote a little about this resolution here) so I’m excited to add that in. And spending more time in the Word is something I always say I’m going to do, but the seasons of actually doing it ebb and flow for me. I have weeks where I am great about it, and weeks where I am not. So I’m praying that this year, I will be able to find a routine in which I can keep up with both.

A Reading Resolution

I love the sound of reading challenges. Once upon a time, I would’ve blown them all out of the water. One of my favorite things to do when I was a kid was read. Late at night with a flashlight, in the middle of the afternoon in the summer, or all day on a Saturday. But now that things are busier, I find it hard to keep up with a reading list. There are less and less uninterrupted, quiet minutes in my day, and so reading (especially reading things that take much thought) can fall to the way side. 

I’ve set my yearly reading goals too high in the past, only to realize by the time summer comes that I’ve got to re-imagine the goal if I’m going to get anywhere close to completing it. Which sorta defeats the purpose of a goal, right? So this year, instead of choosing a huge number of books, or a strange combination of books, I choose this: 

I’m going to read for pleasure every single day. I will always be reading something,  And, perhaps most important, if I’ve read the first couple of chapters of a particular book, and I’m not that into it, I’m going to put it down and start something new. 

I don’t feel like these are too lofty, or unrealistic goals. But I also don’t feel like they are too easy. Days go by where I haven’t picked up a book (or my kindle) quite often. I’m either busy or doing something else instead (here’s looking at you, Netflix). But I want to read every day- to stretch my perspective, to sharpen my eyes and mind, to set the example of a love of reading for my kids. 

I’m open to all suggestions of books to read, and I love borrowing books, also! If you have something for me to read, pass it on! Non-fiction is the only genre I haven’t done much in. I’m almost done with LOTR (I know- it’s shameful how long it’s taken me) and I think my fresh start in 2017 will be with Philip Pullman’s Golden Compass series. I also have a few historical fiction novels on deck, courtesy of my mother in law. So it won’t be for lack of content if I don’t reach this goal! Who’s with me?!

Bedtime Stories: Best or Worst Time of the Day?

My kids LOVE being read to. I’m glad – really. I enjoy reading to them whether it’s at bedtime or before naps or whatever other random time they ask. We’ve got hundreds of books (not a lie) and we go to the library to borrow more. I get it from my mom: books are the one thing I almost never say no to. I buy them for no occasion at all, simply because I saw it when I was by myself and wanted to read it to them.

So naturally bedtime should be a wonderful opportunity for snuggles and reading. I should pine for this moment all day long, right?
Well. It doesn’t always go as planned.

Sometimes, for whatever reason (over-tiredness, too much energy, the need of potty or water) it gets difficult. They might be too tired to relax. They might be too wound up to concentrate. They beg to watch TV instead. They might just be using the reading time to put off bedtime. But they won’t stay around, won’t actually listen, won’t acknowledge that someone is reading. It’s like I’m shouting nonsense words just to make them giggle.

But those times are fewer and farther between with each passing day. My little sillies love reading more and more, and I look forward to each night that I get to share Charlotte and Wilbur, Pete the Cat, or 12 little girls in two straight lines. Even Rosie Revere (Rosie Revere, Engineer) and Stillwater  (Zen Shorts) make a weekly appearance in our routine.

I’ll take what I can get, if every few nights, they snuggle up next to me for book after book until my voice is gone and my own eyes are droopy. I’ll keep reading until they would rather read to me, or read under their covers with a flashlight. I know these days are passing quickly, so I will read, read, read to them as much as I can.

Here are a few of our favorites, in case you need some fresh suggestions!

Zen Shorts and Hi, Koo! (by Jon Muth)

Yum Yum Dim Sum (by Amy Wilson Sanger)

Rosie Revere, Engineer (by Andrea Beaty)

Dragons Love Tacos (by Adam Rubin)

The Witch’s Hat (by Tony Johnston, and I know this seems Halloween-themed, but my kids LOVE it.)

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (by Martin/Archambault, and yes, many children have projects based on this one in kindergarten.)

Harold and the Purple Crayon (by Crockett Johnson)

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel (by Virginia Lee Burton, and I remember reading this one to my enamored little brother twenty years ago.)

Little Owl’s Night (by Divya Srinivasan – a GREAT bedtime book)

The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child (by Julia Donaldson, and they’re also on Netflix as short cartoons!)

And last but not least, a total favorite: Jesus Storybook Bible (by Sally Lloyd-Jones). You can see how much I love it in this post from last Christmas.