Browsing Category: Intentional Living

What I’ve Been Reading – February 2018

It’s a new year for books! Last year I set myself a reading goal of 35 books on goodreads, and I managed to beat it. Ha! I’m not going to lie, it felt good. I honestly thought 35 was too high and I wouldn’t meet it. I decided to stick with 35 books for this year too.

I’ve completed 4 books for 2018, but 2 of them were poetry books, which always seem to read faster. I didn’t read anywhere near the number of Christmas books that I usually do. I just wasn’t into it; I don’t know what that was about.


I’m only half way through No Man’s Land, and while it took a while to get into it, it’s VERY good. I have to admit the only reason why I picked this one up was Tolkien. The author is the grandson of J.R.R. Tolkien, and the book is a fictional writing of some of his experiences during WW1. Two things for me want to read it, WW1 and Tolkien.

I can already tell that, while the first half of the book was a bit slow, the second half is going to fly. I’m curious to know more about Tolkien’s story, as well as his coming to faith.


Capital Gaines…obviously, since it was the only one that I read, but I did love it! I so enjoy his humor and stories. As someone who has been saddled with entrepreneurs all of her life (my parents, my husband) I really enjoyed his insights into creating and running a business, particularly one that grew to be so successful.

I really appreciated how often Gaines FAILED, that’s right FAILED, in businesses, but always walked away with something and had a good mindset about it; glad for what he learned from the experience. I love how he turns it all back around to his family and God too. Such wisdom and humility in his words, even when he’s not being so humble.


I hate that I don’t like it, but Clash of Kings….it’s still sitting on my night stand, stalled at page 237 and haven’t picked it up in 2 months. I still REALLY want to like the Game of Thrones books, but I just cannot get into them. I hate it. I know I will finish the books. I’ll force myself to do it, but it’s going to take a while.

What have you been reading? What reading goals have you set for yourself this year? Remember, you can follow along on what I’m reading on Instagram, just check out my hashtag #Books2018JMW

Do it Scared: Choosing to Not Live Life in Fear

This past summer I claimed the saying, “Do it scared!” because I realized I have allowed myself to NOT do many things, because I was scared. Scared of what people would say or think, scared of whether I would succeed or fail.

It is infinitely easier to live in the dream of “someday” than it is to step out and do the thing you fear.

I turned 35 this past summer. I’ve realized something over the last few years…that I’ve lived most of my life in fear, or should I say I’ve existed in fear, because not doing things you want to do because you’re afraid isn’t living. The biggest thing I did was I finally got a tattoo.

For the past 20 years I’ve talked about it, but I finally did it. Believe me, all that day, waiting for my appointment, I kept telling myself this was the stupidest thing to do and more than once I picked up my phone to cancel the appointment, but I didn’t. I did it scared.

I did it knowing that I may regret it or that people may look down on me for it, but I did it. I didn’t let all my fears of “if” and “maybe” keep me from doing something.

You see, the thing about our fears are that they’re usually unfounded. Of course, there are those fears that are healthy fears, that keep us safe, but by and large they’re non-existent.

Fears are things we’ve put in place to keep ourselves in our comfort zone.  It’s an excuse we use to give ourselves permission to not even try.

This fall, I brandished my perfectionism as an excuse to not do something. I realized it was actually my fear of failing, of not meeting expectations (mine and other’s). It’s ridiculous! I had a vision in my head of what I wanted my Halloween costume to look like, but I was scared of messing it up.

I’ve never considered myself much of a perfectionist. Yes, I like things to be just-so, but for the most part I can let things slide, but I’ve realized something, my perfectionism manifests itself in fear. I let me fear of things not being just-so, keep me from even trying.  After 6 weeks of procrastinating I did it scared.  I made the first cut, stitched the first seam, and it came out awesome!

Fear is not from God. We are not meant to live in a constant state of fear. We are meant to live in the knowledge that we are marked as Christ’s own, that we are to live our lives to His glory, and if we are living in fear, we’re not doing that.

When I was younger I would always tell myself, “I can do all things through Jesus Christ who gives me strength”, and it always helped me to move forward in spite of fear. Did I always use it the way the verse was meant to be used, no probably not, but it certainly helped me to act even when I was afraid.

Do not let fear keep you from living your life to it’s fullest. You will mess up. You will be disappointed at how things turn out.  But those mess ups and disappointments will be nothing compared to the regret you will feel when you have lived your life and, at the end, think of all the “I should haves…” that you never did.

Live the life God has given you. Trust in Him and who He created you to be, the life He planned for you to live. Don’t let fear keep you from being who you are. Don’t let what other people might think or say keep you from living your one and only life. Be BRAVE (my word for 2018).

***And FYI getting my tattoo was awesome, and yes I will be getting another ;-)

To teach is to touch a life forever.

I found out this morning that one of my professors from college passed away last Friday. Most of the time, and for most professors, this would have just been sad news, but not for this professor. Mr. Hennessy was no ordinary college writing professor, not to me or any number of other students.

I went to SUNY Oneonta originally for Broadcast Journalism, which morphed and changed many times over 4 years, but twice I was fortunate to have Mr. Hennessy as a teacher, Composition 100 and Composition 200 (the red folder with my essays and notes still sits right above my desk).

His was my favorite class, he was my favorite teacher. 

I’ve often said that I didn’t learn how to write properly until I was in college, until I was in his class. He took so much time to go over drafts with us, to work out kinks, explain how things could be better, and question you and what you were trying to say and why. His door was always open, and he was only a phone call away.

There was so much to love about him. He was witty and had quite the sense of humor. But the best part was that he was also of Irish lineage.

I remember how excited he was when I asked him to write my letter of recommendation to study at University College Cork in Ireland. Of course, they had to be sealed, so I never did know what that letter said. But I do know how thrilled he was that I was going to get to visit our beloved Ireland.

There was one times, as a freshman, that I ended up having to take my 8 year old sister with me to class. He was more than welcoming to have her there. Ten minutes into the lecture he stopped everything, because something that had never happened in class had happened, was happening…there was a student who was actually paying attention, my sister.

I’m so glad that I saw him in Hannaford this past summer, that I was able to tell him about the past 14 years and how much he meant to me.

The part that has stuck with me over the past 14 years, since I last had Mr. Hennessy, was that he was the first person (besides my mother) to really believe in me and tell me I was a writer. He was the person who brought me alongside him, showing me how to wield my words in the best way: “Jessica, I can see your name in the by-line someday”.

Other than this little place online, it hasn’t happened yet, but someday and you can bet Denis Hennessy’s name will be in the acknowledgments. Thank you Mr. Hennessy, for being such a wonderful teacher, a friend, and an upstanding Irishman.



Our Favorite Books for Thanksgiving

Last year I posted about our favorite Autumn books, with the caveat that I was also going to share our favorite Thanksgiving books, very soon. Well…a year later I’m doing just that. Sorry: Life happens.

I heavily ordered from the library last year, with the recommendations of; It was wonderful! Next to Christmas books, Thanksgiving books are my very close second. The librarians were even impressed with the books that I had found, and always wonder how I manage to find such fantastic books!

I tried to keep this list separate from those that we enjoy about Autumn, because while the two are very similar, this list of books is those books that point us to God, being thankful, and the history behind Thanksgiving.

*This post does contain affiliate links: Please read my Disclosure Policy here.

Bold-Italic—Loved for Illustrations and Words
Bold—Loved for Illustrations
Italic—Loved for Words

Our favorite books for Thanksgiving…


History and Faith

Thank You, Sarah: The Woman that Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Halse Anderson  (Author),‎ Matt Faulkner  (Illustrator)

Thanksgiving – A Harvest Celebration by Julia Stiegemeyer

The Pilgrims First Thanksgiving by Ann McGovern

God Gave Us Thankful Hearts by Lisa Tawn-Bergren

Give Thanks to the Lord by Karma Wilson

Giving Thanks: Poems, Prayers, and Praise Songs of Thanksgiving by Katherine Paterson

Our Favorite Books for Thanksgiving


Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin

Sharing the Bread – An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving Story by Pat Zietlow Miller

Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson

Thanksgiving is Here by Diane Goode

A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting

Our Favorite Books for Thanksgiving

Seasonal Changes

In November by Cynthia Rylant

Sleep Tight Farm by Eugenie Doyle (Author),‎ Becca Stadtlander (Illustrator)


Thanksgiving in the Woods by Phyllis Alsdurf

Berenstain Bears Give Thanks

Berenstain Bears Thanksgiving Blessings


WHAT BOOKS DO YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN ENJOY READing in the weeks and days leading up to Thanksgiving?

{Why} Motherhood Matters {a Review}

Motherhood matters; plain and simple. I’ve known September McCarthy for the better part of 5 years now, and she has always been such a source of wisdom when it has come to motherhood. When she shared the book that God had put on her heart I knew, before reading a page, that it was going to be good. And it does not disappoint.

September shares about her own struggles with not only motherhood, but her path there. Despite 10 children on this earth, there was months of pain, pregnancies ending in sorrow and heartbreak, with 6 angel-babies. September has not only walked the path of motherhood, she has fallen and struggled along.

Why Motherhood Matters

I often say that my judge of a good book is how many pages are dog-eared by the time I’m done with it. Nearly every other page of {Why} Motherhood Matters is dog-eared and marked up. This book is so full of words that are a balm to every mother’s heart, no matter what season of motherhood they’re in.

The book is written in four parts, each addressing a different why of motherhood. From our feeling alone in motherhood to being intentional in motherhood and what that looks like. Each chapter is closed with a few thoughts or questions, a parenting principle, and a prayer.

If you struggle in motherhood, struggle with your parenting, with your inadequacies and your loneliness this book is hope in paperback. It won’t solve your problems, but it will help you to feel not so undone.

{Why} Motherhood Matters is available on Amazon and all other booksellers. BUT, if you place your order before September 1st there are a bunch of awesome freebies available to you, just visit and submit your invoice number.

*I received this ARC in response for my honest review. The opinions are my own and in no way influenced. You can read my disclosure policy here.