WFMW: All About The Books on My Table

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One of the happiest things about being a writer is getting to know other writers. It’s a weird when the online world collides with real life and bloggers become friends. Do you know what’s even better?  Reading your friends’ books. Here are three new ones on my bedside table.

[Click on the images below to visit *my Amazon affiliate links to learn more about these fabulous books.]

Reading on my own: A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live by Emily P Freeman
I would never consider myself an artist. Actually after one day in art class in the 7th grade, I realized I’d made a grave mistake when the teacher asked us to draw the proverbial fruit in the bowl and mine looked more like an assortment of minions. But after reading Emily’s book, I’m convinced I’m an artist. I still shy away from sketching, but I’m living daily art. We all are, a daily living sacrifice. This book is for the person who wonders if what they do matters. It’s an important book. It changes the way you see your everyday living. It reminds you of your purpose and of our ultimate goal: to glorify God. The world is a canvas and this book is your guide to make art right where you are.

Reading with my teen daughter: Speak Love: Making Your Words Matter by Annie Downs
When my teenager and I sit down with each other and read together, something powerful happens: we connect. Even after long days where we struggle to get on the same page, when we come together (literally on the same page), it deepens our relationship. We are loving Annie’s new book, Speak Love. I don’t always speak lives with my words and at one point in the book, my daughter and I apologized to each other for using words as a weapon against one another. I love the way Annie writes to teen girls. She’s real and funny and challenges the reader to speak into our own lives and into the lives of others.

Reading with my little girl: Audrey Bunny

I read this sweet picture book to my 6 year old and she has been acting out the story ever since. Not only is it beautifully illustrated by a talented young girl, Angie’s powerful story of life after loss is felt with every page. We all feel a little different at some point in our lives, marked if you will, like Audrey Bunny. This beautiful story reminds our children (and us) that we are loved and accepted exactly like we are.  It’s a special book.

I love reading and I love books, they work for me!

What are you reading lately?


WFMW: Just Beat It

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I live in a noisy house.

And I don’t just mean I come from a long line of yellers.

There’s always a dog barking, kid crying, laughing or arguing hysterically (pick an emotion), washing machine humming and piano banging.

When my kids were younger, it was pure chaos and when my parents would visit they always mentioned the noise level. It was so typically loud, I didn’t even know what they meant, until I had the house to myself. Lo, the silence was deafening.

Besides being born loud, God decided to grant my children musical ability. We have a flute player who plays her flute for fun after practicing for hours, a budding drummer who rap, tap, taps on EVERYTHING and likes to exceed his practice minutes by oh, around 425.

My 6 year old walks around the house strumming on her plastic guitar, playing songs she’s “written in her head.” It’s adorable and all, because you can’t hear it

When Staples asked if our family would like to try a pair of Beats by Dr. Dre, I said yes.

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I was mostly thinking now that my kids are back in school and the band practice is GAME ON, it would be a great way for them to listen to their music in their EAR HOLES and not all over the house.

My kids like to do homework at the dining room table, but often disturb each other. Now they are taking turns wearing the headphones and it’s really helped!

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We weren’t very familiar with Beats headphones and now I can understand why they are so popular. The quality is amazing! I like wearing them around the house, too. It’s funny HOW QUIET these brilliant headphones make a noisy home. Thanks, Dr. Dre. I’m impressed.

Unless my hubby is wearing them in bed, nodding his head and I’m talking up a blue streak thinking he’s agreeing with me.

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Disclosure: This post is a sponsored review. I received a lovely pair of Beats by Dr. Dre, but all the opinions and noise are my own.

Beats work for us!


WFWM: A Different Kind of Piano Lesson

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My kids love music, which might be a nice way of saying they are noisy people {wink}.

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We have a flutist and percussionist in the school band and they both love playing on the piano with their little sister.

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We stopped piano lessons once they started focusing on their school instruments (because momma only has so much music money).

[side note: Want to know how to get your children to practice the piano for their lessons? Take them out of lessons. I can't keep my kids off the piano now!] They can each play a couple of songs and by a couple I MEAN CHOPSTICKS.

My son begs every week to take piano lessons again. Lord, have mercy.

When I was asked if I wanted to review the QuNexus by Keith McMillen Instruments, a portable keyboard that is re-infusing life into what has been known as the dreaded piano lesson, I jumped at the chance. Because apparently, I LIKE NOISE.

But really, I love the music my kids make and how it’s made them better students and given them an identity in school and made them feel great about their musical gifts.

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It’s so cool! With  25 pressure-sensitive silicone keys and LED illumination, it makes the QuNexus uniquely interactive and fun to play. (System requirements)

We are still figuring it out, but my kids are excited to try their hand at composing music and I really love that it’s more than a high tech toy. It’s interactive with educational music apps and it’s improving my kids keyboard ability and they have been making (more) music.

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There are some great online tutorials for installing and playing the keyboard.

User tip: If you’re an Apple computer or iPad-user like me, you will need to use music software such as: Reason, Kontakt, Ableton Live, Logic, Arturia software synths, AudioMulch, Animoog, and GarageBand. While it plugs right into our mac and works with GarageBand, you’ll need the camera cord set from Apple to make it work on an iPad.

Disclaimer: We were sent the QueNexus for free to review. All the opinions expressed in this post are mine.

Music works for us!


The Best Book I’ve Ever Read. Period.

Imagine a 6 year old child ripped from his mother’s arms during an outdoor church service.

He along with other boys from his community were taken away at gunpoint to a military camp and forced to become child soldiers in Sudan.

I have a 6 year old and the very thought makes me tremble.

But this child with the help of some older boys (he calls angels) runs away from the camp.

He runs for days and weeks. He runs for his life.

And spends the next 10 years surviving in a refugee camp along with thousands of other lost boys without parents or siblings. But he has God and his love for running and he thrives…..

His life takes an unexpected turn when he is 16 years old. I’ll give you a clue…it’s leads to the USA Olympic team. Running for My Life: One Lost Boy’s Journey from the Killing Fields of Sudan to the Olympic Games is a riveting true story of one Lost Boy of Sudan who beat unthinkable conditions of danger, hunger and poverty to become a present-day US Olympian. This book will make you laugh as he tells of coming to America, it will make you cry as you read about him returning to Sudan as an adult. It will take your family on a journey that just might change their life. It has my family asking some pretty amazing questions right now.

I’ve never felt so strongly about a book (which is why I’ve mentioned it a few times). I urge you to read it for yourself, to your family. It’s the perspective change we needed this summer. It’s a heartbreaking, inspiring true story of courage and of a mighty God.

This book is written in an engaging way and my kids begged for more at the end of the chapter.

This is a God story.

This review is not compensated and I was not asked to write it. I simply loved this book and can’t stop talking about it. Part of the proceeds from Lopez Lomong’s book go to his foundation to help the people of Sudan.

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I’ve also updated my list of 80+ Books to Inspire and Encourage Your Family (affiliate links used)


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?

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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]