What’s On My Reading List This Fall {Recommended Reads & Free Books}

Fall is here and I feel like I’m falling behind. I’m in the middle of a crazy-busy season of life, but I’m determined to slow down and read. It’s how I know I’m taking care of myself. It’s a great way to relax, reflect and respond. Here are the awesome books (click on the my affiliate links below to read more about each book) I’m planning on digging into this fall:

  • Decorating Cookies Party by Bridget Edwards (Recipe book)  | My dear friend (and former next door neighbor) Bridget, has done it again! This week she released another cookie cookbook and it’s an amazing, picture-filled DIY cookie party guide. She’s got me itching to break out my mixer. Remember when I made these? I’m not exactly a baker, but I am on page 33 (!). I was honored to attend Bridget’s cookie party and it was so fun and delicious. I ate them all. Leave a comment on this post and you could win a copy!

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  • Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas by Ann Voskamp (Children’s book) | I cannot wait to get my hands on Ann’s newest book for our family. It will be our guide this Advent Season. It’s full of daily Scripture passages and specially written devotion to help children of all ages understand the Advent theme for the day, and participate in suggested activities to apply the theme.

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  • God Made Light by Matthew Paul Turner (Children’s book: ) | I’m planning on adding this book to my Christmas list to all the littles in my life. I love the beautiful art and the Gospel message.

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  • Revolution in World Missions by K.P. Yohannan (Faith book)| I’ve actually read this book and it was absolutely life-changing. I can’t recommend Revolution in World Missions, written by the founder of Gospel for Asia, enough. And guess what? Everyone gets a FREE copy. Click and get yours today.

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Leave a comment to win Bridget’s fun new cookie party book and make sure you click here to get a free copy of a book that will change the way you see the world!

[Updated with Winner: Congrats to random winner, Summer!]


And Now I’d Like to Talk About Food

Remember that one year we went vegan to try and control my husband’s diabetes?

Shudder.

It was the season where my kids lost the ability to discern real meat from meat-like substances.

I’ve never been known as a health nut.

As a matter of fact, I recently discovered that my junior high son was at the top of the, um, food chain when it came to unhealthy lunchbox snacks…as in everyone wanted to trade their veggie sticks and rice cakes for his Little Debbie’s and Doritos.

I told him that was embarrassing.

He said, “Yes, for you.”

[Hangs head in shame].

For a long time, I’ve felt compelled to clean up and out the pantry and feed my family less processed foods. But I didn’t know where to start. Because let’s be honest– eating bad food is cheaper and more convenient than eating good food.

But after confessing my food-related guilt to my friend Jessica, a.k.a. a real health nut, she encouraged me to start slow and small and the very next day, that’s exactly what I did. For the past month, we have radically changed our pantry and refrigerator. I thought my kids would rebel, but instead they thanked me. And instead of beating myself up over their gratitude, I said you’re welcome.

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Here’s what I’m doing:

  1. I buy a large assortment of fresh vegetables (carrots, bell peppers, cucumbers, broccoli, etc)
    and fruit (blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, pineapple, watermelon, etc) every weekend and then have my kids help me chop and divide them into portion-sized zip-lock bags.
  2. I do the same with an assortment of nuts (peanuts, cashews, almonds, etc) and dried fruit (craisens, mango, etc) and popped popcorn in olive oil and sea salt.
  3. I am working hard to only buy from the outside aisles of the grocery store (where the fresh, unprocessed food is sold).
  4. I buy plenty of avocados, granola and yogurt and we are starting to pull ripe items from our garden.
  5. I also boil a dozen eggs every week and leave them in the fridge for snacks or breakfast.
  6. Oatmeal and yogurt with fresh fruit and granola are a favorite or veggie-stuffed omelets.
  7. Family dinners have always been somewhat healthy for us, but I’m working harder to plan ahead. We are grilling a lot more, too. Our current favorite meal: black beans with cumin and garlic, salted brown rice with fresh cilantro and a fresh chunk of avocado.

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After the first several weeks, my kids didn’t mention chips or pop tarts. But I did notice we wanted more snack choices, especially with them home for lunch this summer.

A friend sent me a $10 off coupon plus free shipping for NatureBox and I couldn’t wait to try out this fun idea.  I just got my first box and I’m hooked. NatureBox is a monthly subscription club that sends healthy snacks (you can choose from more than 100 or be surprised). I love the variety! Here’s my affiliate link and if you try it, use this code for $10 off: share10off 

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We still have some vices like toaster waffles and sweet tea, but we are trying.

Not only do I feel better about what we are eating, I feel better about what I’m feeding my family.


Your Ticket to the Best Moms’ Night Out Ever {Giveaway}

Congrats, random commenters Robyn Dodson and Emily E! Check your email.

I met some of my favorite people at the movie theater after a long, hectic day.

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I ordered a big bag of popcorn for dinner. On a school night.

We moms know how to party.

I settled in for a very needed Moms’ Night Out. 

 

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And I laughed and laughed and then cried and then laughed some more.

My teen daughter asked what the movie was about after I got home and I said, “Well, it’s about a mom who blogs who really needs a night out. She is tired and her kids are crazy and the night gets a little wild….”

But before I could finish, my quick-witted teen said, “Wait.”

“That sounds just like you! Did she just write a book called Diamond God?”

It took me a minute.

Rhinestone Jesus. Get it?

This movie is the most relatable mom movie I’ve ever seen. It will make you feel normal. Understood. You will laugh.You might just cry. You will be reminded just how important your job is. You will love every minute of it.

You guys.

Give yourself a gift and go see Mom’s Night Out. I can’t wait to take my whole family back to this very positive, inspirational, God-centered fun movie!

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Today, I’m giving away 2 sets of 2 tickets. Tell me how long it’s been since you’ve had a mom’s night out in the comments as your entry.

(I received free tickets for this event, but the glowing review is all mine)

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Don’t forget to enter my Facebook Mother’s Day Contest:

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The Surprises of Motherhood

Motherhood has surprised me.

And I’m not just talking about my third child.

Every phase and every stage have left me saying, “Well, hello, there. I wasn’t expecting you.”

Like the burping-everything-you-say-phase–I’m so over you.

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We are also currently in the siblings-arguing-over-every-little-thing-stage.

This one might kill me. Or cause me to kill. I actually said the other day, “I hope you have three kids just like you!” And then I think I heard my dear mom laughing wildly somewhere.

But there have been good surprises, too. Phases I didn’t know would bring me so much joy- like my son’s quick wit or the way my teen daughter helps dress me.

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Or the way it feels to hold my children-as crying babies, or sulky teens, we are a perfect fit and even when we hurt each other, we heal each other.

Motherhood is hard.

I lay awake at night and pray for my children and mostly for their mother.  I am torn almost every day. Am I hurting or helping? Do they need grace or discipline? God help me to know which to offer when.

Motherhood is beautiful.

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I see glimpses of who they are becoming. It takes my breath away–these small moments of glory when they choose well, put others first, live out integrity when no one is watching.

Yes, I have been surprised by motherhood.

If you’re a mom or have a mom, I encourage you to read my friend Lisa-Jo’s brand new book, Surprised by Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected about Being a Mom. It’s a beautiful, uplifting story that will remind you to look for the breathtaking moments in the mundane. It will encourage you to keep up the good, hard work.

And on a tough day that leaves me speechless or a good one that surprises me with delight, this book works for me and it will for you, too.


What’s On My Reading List This Month

The table next to my bed has a pile of books I’m digging into this month and probably the next couple. If anything, I’m an ambitious reader.

When do you read?

My reading habits: I always have a book tucked in my purse, in my car, on my Kindle app, next to my bed for those moments during the day when I’m waiting or trying to fall asleep. I’m also a bathtub reader. I am usually working thru several books at one time and usually read non-fiction, although I love a good fiction book when I’m traveling. I’m also not much of a TV watcher.

The fun thing about some of the books on my nightstand right now is they were written by friends! (Amazon affiliate links):

Books on Nightstand

1. Miraculous Movements: How Hundreds of Thousands of Muslims Are Falling in Love with Jesus:: Oh, this book is rocking our world. It’s a long God story, but if you have a heart for missions and discipleship, this book is a must read. I heard the author speak recently and met some of the heroes on the pages in Kenya recently. It’s helping to shape so much of our work with Mercy House.

2. Live to Give: Let God Turn Your Talents into Miracles:: This is our new “family read.” Every month or so, we start a new book to read together out loud as a family after dinner. I’m really excited to dive into this book with my family. It’s sure to be inspiring!

3. Happy Wives Club: One Woman’s Worldwide Search for the Secrets of a Great Marriage:: I love writing about marriage and being married. I’m a happy wife and I love Fawn’s heart to join a million happy wives to support the beauty of everyday marriage.

4. Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World:: I’m digging into Tsh’s memoir that challenges us to live slower, intentional lives. I love her global viewpoint and can’t wait to apply her suggestions to live my life instead of letting life live me.

5. You’re Going to Be Okay: Encouraging Truth Your Heart Needs to Hear, Especially on the Hard Days:: Holley is the best encourager I know. Some days, especially the hard ones, we need to remember-despite life’s ups and down-we are going to be okay because we have Jesus.

6. The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence
(not pictured):: I just ordered this book on Amazon. It will be hard to read, but absolutely necessary. If you’ve ever wanted to help the poor, this is a must read. It’s the paradigm shift we need to make to reach the poor in their reality of violence.

How about you? What you are you reading lately?