The Book That Changed My Life

I’ve always had a strong relationship with books.

When it comes to books I can’t pick just one. I’ve known so many and been changed, challenged, driven, and exposed by their stories. I’ve learned words and visited places curled inside the back seat of a car or tucked under the covers with a flashlight reading past my bedtime.

There are just so many stories.

But when I think of books that have changed me four come to mind: Little Women (L.M. Alcott), Passion & Purity (Elisabeth Elliot – really anything by her), A Room with a View (E.M. Forster), and Everyone Is Beautiful (Katherine Center).

A Room with a View is the book I call my favorite. There’s something about purple flowers, shaking off social conventions to embrace a laugh and love that draws me in and whispers life. There’s a message of freedom between the lines. It’s a story I clinged to in high school and has been a beloved favorite ever since.

But Little Women was my first unabridged read. I grew up reading the Illustrated Children’s Classics (you know, the books with a picture on every other page), but Louisa made it feel safe to jump from the condensed classics to the full.

I first read Little Women in middle school and have reread it multiple times since, as well as Alcott’s short stories and her “racy” novel, A Long and Fatal Love Chase. I’m currently reading Little Men.

Little Women changed my life, because it introduced me to the broader world of literature. I had always loved books, but Little Women pulled me deeper in. From Alcott I jumped to Shakespeare and then Austen and the Bronte sisters. I went on to study English Literature in college. While I have a greater affection for British Literature over American (go ahead, call my unpatriotic), Louisa May Alcott is one of the few American authors I enjoy and love.

Her characters are so familiar and comfortable you can’t help but feel a part of the March family. I’ve laughed and cried with them. And I still can’t believe Amy and Teddy ended up together. (Really?!?)

But, my favorite of the March sisters is Jo. I couldn’t help but love her from the beginning. The writer. From my earliest years with clippings of my mother’s catalogs glued to notebook paper and a little sentence scribbled underneath each, I wanted to be a writer.  How could a young one not want to be Jo March with passion for life and stories and her ink-stained finger?

I was proud of my right, ring finger and the indentation shaded a bit of gray from the hours of writing. With the last 7 years of blogging, my little writer’s mark is akin to a faint scar.

But still, there’s the little girl in me, the one holding onto the dream, pursuing the written word and writing out stories.

Thanks Louisa…and Jo.

 

Want to share a book that’s changed your life? Head on over to Anne’s and link-up

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What I Wish for Women

I wish we’d live in freedom.

I wish we’d stop second-guessing ourselves and wondering if we’re getting “it” right.

I wish we’d embrace our imperfections.

I wish we’d stop thinking, “Just a few more pounds, then I’ll be pretty.”

I wish we’d let go of the fear we’re not enough.

I wish we’d stop accepting the mold of what society thinks a woman should be or do.

I wish we’d trash the lies that whisper, “You just need to do a little more.”

I wish we’d stop judging the woman next to us.

I wish we’d stop pretending we have it altogether.

And I wish we’d give others the freedom to do the same.

I wish for a willingness to be seen without the protective coating.

I wish for arms thrown wide and hearts ready to be spilt.

I wish for women to be free to be themselves.

I wish for grace to cover our imperfections.

I wish for the humility to extend community and grace to others.

What do you wish?

 

 

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Growing Up & Fitting In

Sometimes you just want to fit in. I’m grown and I still find myself trying to squeeze into groups, to fit neatly as part of their pact.

I’ve changed outfits 5 or 6 times before trying to match the style of whatever group I’m about to join.

I’ve tried to be like the cool kids…bitter, up in arms, rage against the world. It’s not me. It’s exhausting.

I’ve tried the circle of happy-go-lucky and ‘the Lord has just blessed me so,’ where smiles are never absent and the kids nearly perfect.

I’ve tried jumping on the bandwagon for each new book and defending the denominational cause.

{Lord knows the list doesn’t stop there.}

But, truly? They’re empty and once the dust settles the bandwagon can be quite boring.

And I still don’t fit in…if I’m honest with myself I don’t fit because I’m not supposed to. Not that I’m this super special person that supersedes all these others. No.

I’m not meant to be someone else. I don’t have their passions, their cares, their love for whatever ‘it’ may be.

I’m nearly 30 and still growing up. Still not completely comfortable in my own skin. I thought I would have had that down by now.

I know who God’s said I am, but being that brave, vulnerable, and outspoken is scary. People might not like that person. I may not fit their mold. I might rattle their cage if my opinions don’t fit in their worldview, Christian beliefs, or parenting technique.

Living out on the limb away from the comfort of a sturdy trunk sounds adventurous. I’ve been there a time or two before, but the staying power…the Dependence I lack. I see the potential opposition and quiver. It’s easier by the trunk…safer.

But I need to come into my own.

Linking up with Life:Unmasked today,

Life: Unmasked

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When You’re Doubting Your Mothering {my mother letter}

Dear Mother,

I see you. I see the look of worry in your eyes. The self-doubt, the second guessing. You’re wondering if you’re doing this right…this whole motherhood thing, aren’t you?

You worrying if you’re ruining your kids with snacks from a box as other moms talk about their whole food, gluten-free, sugar-free meals. You’re trying to hide that stain on your shirt. The one you didn’t know was there until you got to playgroup. The other kids look like a GAP commercial, while yours doesn’t even match and insisted on wearing mismatched socks.

You’re slinking back into the corner now. That last comment hurt, the one about how moms who don’t pray for their kids everyday don’t really love them. I see you.

You’re fueling your attention on the kids as they play hoping no one will notice all the ways you don’t measure up…how you’re not as good as them. I see that thought running through your head. The one whispering, Someone else could do this better. There’s a better mom for your baby than you. 

Could I have that thought, please?

You don’t need more to be better. Dressing in DIY Anthropologie won’t make you a better mom. You don’t need to do more to be better. Having an activity planned for every day of the summer won’t give your children what they need.

You just need to be you. You are the mother your children need. God has given them to you. God has gifted you with what you need and He will enable you to mother.

Be you.

You can learn from others, try or adapt what works for them, but you do not need to be another mother. God is not asking you to be the woman sitting next to you.

You need to be you. Embrace who God has made you and the journey he’s lead you on. You don’t need to be Pinterest-perfect to be a good mom. You don’t need handmade presents or to cook from scratch every night of the week to love your children well. You don’t need to add to you.

Live in the freedom that says you are enough. You do not need to be more, do more, or become better to love, to be loved.

You are loved infinitely by a gracious Father. You are forgiven. You are washed in grace. You are free.

Mother-friend, let go of those ties that bind you. The one’s who whisper over and over you’re not good enough and somebody could do better. They’re lies. They’re choking the life and joy out of you. They’re stealing your you-ness.

Cut them off.

And you…you give those children at your feet what they really need. They don’t need one more lesson, another outing, the newest Legos, or cooler clothes. Give them what they need. Love.

Love them like the Father loves you. Show them the achings of love.

Give them grace. Show them hope. Embrace joy together.

Dear mother...lavish love. Live there and let Love teach you to mother.

Mother Letters ebook released today. I already picked up my copy and I can’t tell you how great it is and necessary for mothers to hear. 
It’s a letter to mothers, written by mothers with quite a sweet back story.
We need to know we’re not alone, crazy, and that we can get through the hard times of mothering. It would be a perfect Mother’s Day gift. A portion of every book sale goes to The Mercy House in Kenya…such a great way to support mothers.

 

*This post contains affiliate links.

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For When You Think You Ruined Easter

You know it’s April already, right? Well, it kind of snuck up on me. I had great plans for Easter and Holy Week in my head. We’d bake cookies or cupcakes, make hot cross buns, perhaps even plant one of those resurrection gardens that’s been circling around.

But, nope. Not happening.

I think it was Thursday I realized Easter would be the following Sunday and I had no plans for child festivities—or adult festivities…whatever those would be.

Of course, my initial good girl response was, “Oh, no! I’m ruining my children by not teaching them the importance of Easter and Holy Week.” Throw in a few mental gymnastics of how I might cram our week with activities that have to be done for Easter to be special, ties to sew for Sunday clothes, and Easter baskets to fill, and I was ready to produce a stress-filled, activity heavy week all to prove to my children that Easter is more than jelly beans, dyeing eggs, and hats.

*deep breath*

Good thing common sense overruled my crazy. Could I really ruin Easter? And will making Hot Cross Buns show my kids how important Jesus is? As sweet as it would be to make a resurrection garden and Easter egg window hangings, would sacrificing peace of mind and replacing it with a just-get-it-done good girl mentality really preach Jesus?

No. At least not for me.

While celebrating Holy Week and Easter with crafts and food is fun and can bring big truths to young hearts is it really what Easter is all about? 

Here’s the thing: Jesus, he still died. He still stayed in the grave for 3 days. He still rose again on the third day. My sins are still paid for.

What do you do when you don’t plan for Easter?

We take a nature walk and make our own Easter centerpiece. Maybe we will make hot cross buns this week and perhaps we can convince Grammie to make this Resurrection Cake when we come to visit. (*hint, hint*)

We take in the simple joys and share the simple truths. 

Whether or not my boys are wearing cute, homemade ties or if we can even coordinate our clothes for a family picture, Jesus still died, rose again, and lives now.

Let other mama’s run around trying to fit meaning into every activity. It’s not going to be me this year.

Hope lives, Jesus reigns, and Easter’s still important whether we make empty tomb cookies or not.

I can’t ruin Easter.

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