What I’ve Been Reading This Summer

Even though the kids have been in school for a couple of weeks now, it still feels like summer around here. Why couldn’t it be this hot when we had swimming lessons at the pool each day?

Speaking of the pool, I got a whole lot of reading in this summer while waiting for my kids at their swim lessons. It was awesome…lounging by the side of the pool with a good book is my idea of a good time. I read so much that I’m almost at my goal for the number of books to be read this year, and there are still 3 months left to go!

Anyways, I wanted to share with you some of the books that I read this summer, in case you might find something that you like :) Please note, this post contains affiliate links.

Dancing with My Father

Dancing with My Father: How God Leads Us into a Life of Grace and Joy by Sally Clarkson

Sally is so full of womanly wisdom, and it shines throughout this wonderful book. Oftentimes we women, and moms especially, feel like our lives go from one thing on our to-do list to another, and we rarely get the chance to actually live. How can a mom find joy in laundry, dishes and the drudgery of housework? How can we stay joyful through difficult times and in losses that are a normal part of life? Dancing with my Father addresses these questions and gives encouragement.

This was the last book of Sally’s that I had not yet read…talk about saving the best for last! Reading about Sally’s adventures as a missionary in Eastern Europe, about her life as a young married woman, and of course, as the mother of 4 children, I gleaned a great deal of her wisdom that I can put into practice in my own life.

A Year of Biblical Womanhood

A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master” by Rachel Held Evans

My local library system doesn’t carry very many Christian books (or at least the ones I’m interested in reading), so one day I decided to do a search by publisher, plugging in the names of some well-known Christian publishing houses. When A Year of Biblical Womanhood popped up in the search results, I decided that it sounded interesting enough to check out.

I truly didn’t know about Rachel or her blog before I opened this book, but I have to say…this might be the best book I’ve read all year! Funny and serious at the same time, Rachel tells the story of the year in which she attempted to follow all the instructions for women in the Bible, both Old and New Testament “rules.”

My favorite part of a sermon is “the story behind the story,” when the pastor tells us some of the back story relating to the passage he is preaching on (i.e., cultural details, geography, etc.) that didn’t make it into the main story. This book is chock-full of those details, which I found very interesting and has changed some of my views on Biblical womanhood.

hands free mama

Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters! by Rachel Macy Stafford

I picked up this book at the library on the recommendation of a blogger who posted about how much she liked this book. While it’s a great message, and I totally agree with it, I found this book to be SO depressing.

Each chapter drags on and on about how much the author has missed parts of her children’s growing up because she became obsessed with other things, especially her phone, which attracted her with constant text messages, emails and the like.  After a few chapters, I was ready to abandon this book, but I read on until the end…it didn’t get better, I’m sad to say.

eat pray love

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert

My neighbor found a copy of this book while clearing out some clutter and offered it to me. I was hooked from page one…it’s a fabulous story.

While I don’t really agree with the author’s life choices and didn’t really care for some of the language she uses, Elizabeth Gilbert is a very talented story teller. I think I read the entire book in the space of 3 days…I just couldn’t put it down. Incidentally, the follow-up book to Eat, Pray, Love, Committed: A Love Story, was rather good too, although, again, I didn’t really agree with her thoughts on marriage, but I had to see if she and Felipe would end up together in the end.

rhinestone jesus

Rhinestone Jesus: Saying Yes to God When Sparkly, Safe Faith Is No Longer Enough by Kristen Welch

This is another book I’ve heard mentioned over and over again on some of my favorite blogs, so I checked it out from the library and I wasn’t disappointed.

Rhinestone Jesus is the story of Kristen’s faithful journey to creating a maternity house for unwed mothers in Kenya. Through her desire to help women in some of the worst conditions, she relied on God fully and totally to enable her team to provide a safe place for girls who have no medical care or family support.

I was so inspired by Kristen’s words…how one person with a loving heart can help so many people, even though she might not have a lot of resources or training.

Have you read any of these books? What’s been on your reading list this summer?

Weekly Goals: Back after a Long Break!

Weekly Goals

Oh my goodness…it has been such a long time since I last posted any goals! I took a little break towards the end of the summer because I just wanted to have some free, unstructured time with my precious kiddos before they went back to school.

So, let me catch you up on what’s been going on around here…

It’s been quite an adjustment for me to have both kids in school full-time. I always thought how nice it would be to have no interruptions in my day…how I could just get a zillion things done and be so productive…or even just go to get a pedicure in the middle of the day without needing a babysitter.

So you can imagine how surprised I was to learn that I haven’t been enjoying being on my own all day. I miss my kids terribly…their sweet little smiles and hearing, “Mom?” thousands of times each day. Thankfully, they adore their new teachers and are having a great time at school.

Gunner kitty

We also lost our kitty cat last week, after 14 years. He was our first baby, adopted from the SPCA after being married about a month. We named him Gunner and he brought us so much happiness…watching him pounce on shadows or on the frogs that used to stick to our glass door when we lived in North Carolina was the funniest thing ever.

He had kidney disease, and it went from being manageable to death in the space of only a few hours. When we realized that he was going, we made him as comfortable as possible and spent a good deal of time petting and talking to him. He even purred for us a bit, which just broke my heart.

Now that I’ve had some time to get myself a bit more acclimated since school has started, I’m going to start working on some things that I’ve been wanting to do for a while, like write an ebook (more on that later!) and get more organized. After completing the 4 Weeks to a More Organized Home last year, some more clutter has found its way back in to the house, so I’ve decided to follow along with professional organizer and blogger Lisa Woodruff from Organize 365 on her 40 Weeks, 1 Whole House organizing series.

I heard Lisa say on her podcast for week 2 that there are studies that show that a person gets more done when they have written out a to-do list the night before. I’ve always been the type to say, “Oh, I’ll remember everything, I don’t need a list,” but then my productivity isn’t all I’d like it to be. So I’m using a list this week and we’ll see how it goes.

Here’s what I’ve got planned for this week:

  • Complete my Bible reading each morning (I’m following along with Courtney of Women Living Well)
  • Read Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest by Bonnie Gray (affiliate link)
  • Take 1 Body Step, 2 Spin, 2 abs, and 2 Body Pump classes
  • Attend Back to School night
  • Help my daughter with piano practice
  • Clean out our shoe basket
  • Organize my kitchen cupboard that is reserved for “office” things
  • Buy a basket for organizing paper and a basket for Bible and books that I keep by my quiet time chair
  • Have carpets cleaned (feline kidney disease is not good for your carpets :( )
  • Trim bushes in the yard
  • Write one chapter of the ebook

What’s on your to-do list this week?

Menu Plan Monday

Good Morning! I hope you all had a great weekend :)

So…last week was absolutely crazy for us with all the lessons and practices that have started, plus then our sweet little kitty was sick and I spent a considerable amount of time cleaning up after and taking care of him, meaning that dinner prep went out the window those nights, despite my plan for quick meals.

Menu Plan Monday

You’ll see a few repeats on the menu this week, since a few of the meals didn’t get eaten last week. Here’s what we’re eating for dinner:

Monday: Mac and Cheese with Kale

Tuesday: Crockpot Lasagna, salad

Wednesday: Teriyaki Meatballs, rice and veggies

Thursday: Chicken Enchilada Casserole, squash

Friday: Breakfast for dinner–sausage, eggs, biscuits and fruit

Saturday: Eat Out

Sunday: Eat Out

If you need more ideas for your own menu, head on over to OrgJunkie and check out the Menu Plan Monday link-up!

Menu Plan Monday

Happy Monday! I hope you had a wonderful weekend :)

I didn’t post my menu plan last week on Labor Day since we were relaxing and taking it easy on our day off, but I sure was glad I made one…with sports and music lessons after school now, it’s important that I have a plan for dinner each night so that we aren’t starving! The leftovers are great for lunches too.

Menu Plan Monday

Here’s what we’re eating for dinner this week:

Monday: Mac and Cheese, kale (I might try something like this)

Tuesday: Eat Out

Wednesday: Crockpot Lasagna, veggies from the CSA

Thursday: Teriyaki Meatballs, rice, veggies from the CSA

Friday: Breakfast for dinner–eggs, sausage, biscuits, fruit

Saturday: Oven Fajitas, Spanish Rice

Sunday: Burgers on the Grill, Corn on the Cob, Watermelon

For more ideas for your own menu, check out the link-up over at OrgJunkie!

This Week’s Best Kindle Books

Happy Friday! It was a fast week due to the holiday on Monday, so it’s already time for free books! I hope you enjoy this week’s selection.

Thanks to Shelly at Frugal Family Home for contributing to this list!

Free Kindle eBooks


Fiction (5)

Welcome to Paradise (The Kincaids Book 1)

Land of Dust and Tears (A Prairie Heritage, Prequel)

Blank (A Lincoln Delabar Science Fiction Adventure Book 1)

Tales from the Crib

Plain Trouble: The Diary 2 (Amish Christian Romance) (A Lines from Lancaster County Saga)

Once Upon a Summer (Seasons of the Heart Book #1)

Non Fiction

Miracles That Inspire

The Smart & Easy Guide To Organic Gardening: The Healthy DIY Horticulture Reference Book for Home Garden & Farming Techniques & Year Round Secrets for Natural Vegetables, Herbs and Fruits

Reflexology: The Ultimate Guide to Reflexology to Relieve Tension, Treat Illness, and Reduce Pain

It’s Really 10 Months: Delivering the Truth About the Glow of Pregnancy and Other Blatant Lies

Baby Sleep Basics: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby’s Sleep


The Baking Bible: Delicious Baking Recipes For Cookies, Cakes and Casseroles

Cobbler – The Ultimate Recipe Guide

Paleo Slow Cooker: 25 Essential Paleo Crock Pot Recipes

Leftovers Cookbook: Quick and Easy Hearty and Healthy

Salad Dressing Recipes Under 15 Minutes: Top 30 Quick & Easy Salad Dressings That Everyone Will Love

Kids Books

KidsEbooks (4)

Diary of a Real Payne Book 1: True Story

You Can Do Math: Working With Fractions

School Is A Nightmare #1 First Week, Worst Week

The Wandering Bear

Tommy Goes Trick-or-Treating (Bird Brain Books Book 4)

Monster Jokes for Kids! (Halloween Joke Book): Funny Halloween Jokes about Monsters


You don’t have to have a Kindle to read these books. You can go here to download a Free Reading App so you can read any Kindle book on your computer, tablet or smartphone.

Amazon has a selection of Kindles here (prices start at just $69)

Please note: Amazon pricing, promotions, and availability are subject to change at ANY time without notice. Please confirm the price before completing your purchase.