What I’m Reading This Summer

We are heading out for a few glorious days at the beach. We are driving to the nearest coast and collapsing in some sand. I am realizing just how badly we need to get away –because Galveston, Texas ain’t exactly known for post cards. But there’s water and sand and relaxation and no complaints around here.

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I am bringing a bag full of books. I’ve started all of these (multitask much?) and am anxious to read and relax.

Here’s what I’m reading this summer (click the cover to buy a copy):

Cleaning House: A Mom’s 12-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement:: This book intrigued me and I just pulled it out of the mail last week. I think the title says it all. Can’t wait to dig in.

A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet:: Boomama makes me laugh and just a few pages in, her book is full of sentimental stories and a lot of chuckles.

There You Will Find Me {Beach Reading}:: My niece gave this inspirational young adult book to my daughter while she was cooped up in bed from her oral surgery. She read it in 2 days and bought the next one on Kindle for $3. They talked me into reading it…perfect easy reading for the beach!

The $100 Startup:: I bought this book for my husband who gets the entrepreneur itch every once in awhile. Who doesn’t love the idea of starting something for a $100?

At the table

Dinner time is our family time to talk and read together. Here’s what’s on the our table this summer:

Running for My Life :: My husband read this book in two days and couldn’t put it down. He said it was amazing and an unimaginable story of survival and faith from one of the Lost Boys of Sudan.  I can’t wait to get started. It’s up next for our read around the table with our kids.

End of the Spear :: This isn’t a new book, but after recently hearing Steve Saints testimony after a life-changing injury, I was reminded of this great man’s unbelievable story. I’ve seen the movie and I can’t wait to read the book with my family. A friend sent it to me and said it reads like Robinson Crusoe.

My Life: A Guided Tour :: My dad read this autobiography (of the man who started Tyndale Publishers and wrote the Living Bible) during his recovery recently and couldn’t put it down. He said he cried like a baby. I can’t wait to dig into it!

What is your must-read of the summer?

[These affiliate links will take you to Amazon, my favorite place to buy books]

How to Host a Kid’s Day

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Several years ago, between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, one of my kids asked, “When is Kid’s Day?”

We responded, “Everyday.”

Well, because it is.

Somewhere along the way, my husband and I decided to create a real Kid’s Day to shock and amaze our kids, especially after a challenging school year turned victorious. The idea was a hit.

So, every summer we surprise them with a special day, just for them. (This year was the first day after the last day of school). It gets trickier to surprise them every year. There is even lying (gasp) involved. We told them we were running errands all day (boring!) and then we pulled in the parking lot of Toys R Us.

I knew it was going to be a shocker when my 6 year old said, “What is this store?”

I was also quite proud of her question.

Then on the count of 1-2-3 we yelled, “Happy Kid’s Day” and pelted them with silly string.

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In the car–because we are wild and crazy like that.

Kid’s Day can be anything you want to make it. We got two of our kids a new scooter and one a new bike. (We do 3 gifts at Christmas and so a “big” toy is always a treat). We stipulated their visit to the toy store with two rules: 1. It must be an outdoor item 2. You have this much _____ to spend. In the past, we’ve taken a family overnight, years ago we bought a Wii…It’s not really about the WHAT. It’s just a day to focus on your kids and let them know you celebrate them.

We had a fun lunch and spent the rest of our Kid’s Day outside riding and scooting (and cleaning up silly string out of the car. Oops).

How to Host a Kid’s Day:

  1. Pick a random day (the element of surprise makes it so much more fun)
  2. Plan something fun (ice cream, beach day, toy store)
  3. Make it easy or elaborate (silly string to overnight, it’s up to you)
  4. Repeat once a year

WFMW: Stay Focusd App

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I’m excited to introduce my friend Sarah Mae to you today. She is sharing one of her favorite tips.

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Today I want to share with you one of my favorite time-management apps; It’s called Stay Focused, and it helps me not get sucked into wasting time on Facebook and Twitter.

Stay Focused is an app that can be used with Chrome, an Internet browser provided by Google. It allows you to set daily time limits on the sites you know you spend too much wasted time on. For example, I allow myself 40 minutes a day of Twitter and Facebook time, so when that 40 minutes has been reached, those sites are blocked on my computer until the next day. You can choose which sites you want to block. Maybe Twitter and Facebook don’t phase you, but cat videos on YouTube? Trouble. The great thing is that you can decide whether you want to spend the time allotment in one block of time, or spread it out throughout the day.

Also, the makers of Stay Focused are funny:

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Stay Focused is free, and it works for me!

P.S. If you struggle with spending too much time online and not enough time engaging and enjoying your real life, you might want to check out my new eBook, The UnWired Mom – Choosing to Live Free in an Internet Addicted World

Mercy Ink {Giveaway}

Congrats to random commenter #68, Carol Darden! 

My first job in high school was in a Hallmark, sorting cards and secretly reading every one of them.

I have an unhealthy love for paper and pencils and I read the Thesaurus FOR FUN.

My walls have signs and slogans and Scripture. I love words on pillows and t-shirts. I love reading books filled with words.

And most of all, I love writing words down.

Like this:

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And this:

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Words are powerful.

Mercy Ink is a sweet Etsy shop, and the story behind the words is awesome. Lauren Mills, is the ordinary gal behind the Mercy Ink  shop + blog. Lauren and her husband, Adrian, a youth pastor, have been married for nearly eight years and have three littles at home, ages 2, 4, and 6. In January 2013, after waiting on the call for more than seven years, the Mills began the process of adopting from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Right now 100% of the shop profits benefit their adoption fund. [so thank you in advance for supporting this little family!]

Today, I’m giving away $50 to this great shop. Check it out and tell me which words speak to you.

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When You Need Light in the Dark Places

I think I am depressed.

I’ve been here before. So maybe I recognize this place. It’s different. It’s the same.

But don’t worry, I know my way out of this twisting tunnel. I just walk towards the light.

It’s not like the scary hormonal roller coaster I rode into the valley after my son was born with high highs and low lows, unexpected dips and turns. It was a wild ride and I desperately wanted off. And it’s different from the dark weeks that followed my marriage falling apart, when I couldn’t eat or sleep or function because I focused every ounce of energy on forgiveness and love.

I can see now what I couldn’t see then and I can honestly thank God for those past broken places. Broken places heal stronger. And I can only hope one day in the future this will make sense to me.

It’s sort of like the first time I returned from Kenya:

I’m getting dressed and making dinner, folding clothes and allowing obscene amounts of Netflix in my house. I am functioning, but in a fog, filled with a deep, abiding sorrow and a heavy cloud hovering even on all the good in my life.

But I’ve learned in the valley when you’re face to face with grief and pain and change, God doesn’t always make sense.

Three years ago, when I stood on this filthy path and asked God how he could allow His people to suffer, He asked me the same thing.

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I haven’t been the same since that day. It’s etched on my soul. I asked God to break my heart with what broke His, He has. Over and over. Sometimes it looks like a hopeless pregnant girl in the slum or a dirty baby sitting on a pile of trash. Sometimes it’s a heart attack or heartache.

And sometimes it’s both at the same time.

When Jesus looked over the city and had compassion on the people, he didn’t just love them, He suffered with them.

I’m beginning to understand what that kind of love looks like, that kind of compassion is about hurting with those who hurt.

I’ve never experienced more joy or more sorrow or felt more meaning to my life than I have in the past couple of years. I’ve never felt more alive or more desperate to touch His hem.

The darkness in our lives only makes Jesus shine brighter. Isaiah 41:10 “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.  Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.I will strengthen you and help you.  I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

I believe we are created for two reasons: to fellowship with God and to bring Him glory.

I want to do both.

Even when neither make sense.