Tag Archives: Encouragement

The Turquoise Table {a Review}

*The following contains affiliate links, you can read my full disclosure policy here. 

This book! All the love for it! I remember when this movement started, of painting tables turquoise and inviting the world into our lives, even if just for a few minutes. I painted my own turquoise table several years ago and haven’t looked back!

From Amazon 

A simple way to connect your neighborhood, your community and build friendships.

Are you consumed with a busy life but unsure how to slow down? Do you desire connection within your community and think, “Absolutely, but I don’t have time for that” or “I can’t create that”? What if there was another way through it all, a way to find those moments of peace and to create a time for honest, comfortable connection? What if meeting neighbors and connecting with friends was as simple as showing up and being available?

Desperate for a way to slow down and connect, Kristin Schell put an ordinary picnic table in her front yard, painted it turquoise, and began inviting friends and neighbors to join her. Life changed in her community and it can change in yours, too. Alongside personal and heartwarming stories, Kristin gives you:

  • Stress-free ideas for kick-starting your own Turquoise Table
  • Simple recipes to take outside and share with others
  • Stories from people using Turquoise Tables in their neighborhoods
  • Encouragement to overcome barriers that keep you from connecting
  • New ways to view hospitality

Today, Turquoise Tables are inviting individuals to connect with each other in nearly all fifty states and seven countries. Ordinary people like you wanting to make a difference right where they live.

Community and friendship are waiting just outside your front door.

First off, the pictures and paper, the cover and book as a physical thing is gorgeous, exquisite! Turquoise is my favorite color, throw in beautiful photography and delicious sounding recipes and it’s a guaranteed success! Best of all is Schell’s story and heart for inviting the world into her home, through the simplicity of a picnic table.

Her writing is captivating and draws you in to community with her, as you follow along with her search for community. The pages fly by quickly, filled with stories of other Turquoise Tables and how a step in faith led to incredible blessing; not just for the one person, but for a whole community.

Kristin’s book is everything wrapped up all in one place, that will give you the tools and the motivation you need to become “Front Yard People” who seek to be the hands and feet of Jesus right in their own neighborhoods.

*I received this book for free from BookLookBloggers.com in exchange for my honest opinion.

 

This Homeschool Mom’s Summer Reading List

*This post contains affiliate links, meaning I get a small commission on any purchases made through these links, at no additional cost to you. You can find my disclosure policy here. All titles are clickable links.

We’ve just wrapped up year two of “officially” homeschooling: YAY! I still balk at the title of a “Homeschool Mom”. I don’t feel like a homeschool mom, for some reason I have it in my head that homeschool moms are neat-nik, bible thumpin’ women who manage to keep their house clean, their kids well mannered, and dinner on the table at 5. I am NOT that mom, and I know (deep down) that is not the majority of homeschool moms.

Our houses are loud, our children are messy, chaos is constant, and we like to think of ourselves as John Wesley’s mother with her apron over her head, quietly praying to the Lord, while we’re actually just trying to escape for 2 minutes. At least that’s my house. Some days I can deal with it better than others.

Now that the school year is done and the books are back on the shelves, it allows me a bit more freedom in my own time. There is nothing I enjoy more in my free time than reading.

Before we had children we had planned to homeschool. I wouldn’t say it was a life long dream or any kind of fancy, but we figured that was the path we’d pursue. I had read a few books before we had headed down this path, but not many, and only two since we’ve started on this journey.

Needless to say, there is quite the pile of books that I’ve collected (and many more I haven’t) over the years that I haven’t read. Looking at the pile, knowing the triplets start kindergarten, I decided that it was time to read some of them…you know, before they’ve graduated. This list is some of those that I’ve already read, as well as some books which have sat in the TBR pile far too long.

What I’ve Read

Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie

Read this one last year and LOVED it! Sarah Mackenzie is the mom of 6, and the creator of Read Aloud Revival (as well as momma to preschooler twins). It was a quick read filled with lots of great ideas and tips on how to create a place of rest in your home. How having that base is what will allow you to not homeschool or educate your children but create an environment of welcomed learning. If you’re feeling as though you’re drowing in homeschooling and KNOW that it just CANNOT continue as such, then this is the book for you.

Homeschooling for the Rest of Us by Sonya Haskins

My family is not your average family. We have three kids the same age, and when we started homeschooling we had 5 kids five and under. There is no book that covers that dynamic. Most books assume that you have one child per age and that you can set your child up to be schooling independently, before having the next one start.

Haskins’ book has great information about not following a formulaic approach to homeschooling, and instead letting your family life determine how your homeschool functions. It’s truly the book that set me up for thinking about how we are going to homeschool next year.

The Digital Invasion by Dr. Archibald Hart and Dr. Sylvia Hart Frejd

This book isn’t specific to homeschooling, but I feel like the digital is very much invading homeschooling. Many curriculums are going toward computer based learning, which is great, but it comes at a price. Hart and Frejd go into how the digital world is reshaping our brains and the way we are relating with not only the world around us, but our families as well.

The thing I truly appreciated about this book, wasn’t that technology is a plague and should be avoided, but a very real presence in our lives and homes and how best to use it without being used by it.

When You Rise Up: A Covenantal Approach to Homeschooling by R.C. Sproul Jr.

I think I read this when Avie was a baby. It was the first book I had read on homeschooling, and one that I will probably be re-reading this summer (particularly since there are no notes or dog-eared pages in it). One of the things that has stuck with me from this book is the “why” of homeschooling.

Why are you homeschooling? What is your definition of success? Are you raising your children with the goal of being successful by the world’s standards or by God’s? It has continually made me rethink what our motives are when it comes to parenting.

What I Plan to Read

Obviously, these are the books I haven’t read. Other than saying that trusted people have recommended them to me, I can give you no incentive to read them for yourselves.

Educating the WholeHearted Child by Clay Clarkson with Sally Clarkson

From Amazon: Whether you are a first-time homeschooler or a longtime veteran, this comprehensive guide will equip and empower you for your journey of faith as a family. Discover the joy of bringing relationship-based, book-centered learning into the natural daily life of your home.

Give Your Child the World by Jamie C. Martin

From Amazon: Featuring a carefully curated reading treasury of the best children’s literature for each area of the globe, as well as practical parenting suggestions and inspiration, Give Your Child the World helps moms and dads raise insightful, compassionate kids who fall in love with the world and are prepared to change it for good.

The Book Tree by Elizabeth MccCallum and Jane Scott

Very similar to Give Your Child the World in the sense, that it is an invaluable resource for choosing good books for your family.

From Amazon: They have provided a guide to the best of children’s literature serviceable for both veteran reading families and those just beginning their great journey of the imagination. I think you’ll find that their accurate descriptions, careful recommendations, and cogent insights will prove to be as delightful as it will be invaluable in your own family.

Reading Together: Everything You Need to Know to Raise a Child Who Loves to Read by Diane W. Frankenstein

From Amazon: This engaging guide shares advice for parents, teachers, librarians, and caregivers on how to help children find what to read, and then through conversation, how to find meaning and pleasure in their reading. With more than 100 great book recommendations for kids from Pre-K through grade six, as well as related conversation starters, Reading Together offers a winning equation to turn children into lifelong readers.

Home Grown Kids by Raymond and Dorothy Moore

Raymond and Dorothy Moore have prepared this influential book to show how, by using the everyday resources and experiences of your own home environment, you can truly enjoy your child and give him or her a wholesome, first-class education that neither stifles creativity nor hampers character development.

~*~*~*~*~*~

I know this list is in no way exhaustive of all of the wonderful homeschooling books that are out there. I’m sure if I looked through just the boks that I’ve pinned and saved on Instagram I could probably add another 15 easily. BUT…

I’d love to know what are some of your favorite homeschool books?

Never Unfriended {a Review}

*This post does contain affiliate links.

What if you knew you could NEVER be unfriended? Would you be willing to take more risks in the making and keeping of friends? Friendship has been a struggle for me, it always has. I’ve never fit comfortably into any one group. It’s only as I’ve gotten older that I’ve realized that’s OK, I don’t have to. Although, even knowing that hasn’t made finding and keeping friends any easier.

Lisa-Jo opens her heart and shares all of her hurt and lonely places when it comes to friendship, in her new book, new book Never Unfriended. The opportunities that she missed, the friends she lost, and the hurt she has felt. But she also shares hope! Lisa-Jo tells about how she has been rewarded with rich, deep friendships when she has been willing to take a risk, step out of her comfort zone, and be the first to extend the scary hand of friendship. But it all starts with one thing…. Putting aside being “Fine”.

That word, that inability to be REAL is the absolute death-knell of EVERY SINGLE FRIENDSHIP AND OPPORTUNITY FOR FRIENDSHIP!

Fine is so dangerous, isn’t it? Fine means the end of a conversation; the beginning of nothing…Sure, it can be excruciating to admit our un-fine moments, but it’s in those moments that people can actually see us to help us. We need people. We are a body. And if one part is all bashed up and bleeding, it hurts everywhere else. (page 86)

Lisa-Jo does an awesome job tackling the topic of fine, because all other parts of friendship stem from this one truth.

If we can’t even start being real, we will never get anywhere.

Lisa-Jo goes on further in her book, addressing how comparison will rob us blind in friendship. How if we allow ourselves to fall into the trap of looking at what everyone else is and has we will wallow in our own inadequacies. Until we are mired down with so much filth that we won’t be able to see anything but.

Lisa-Jo’s writing is so engaging and fun. She’s light hearted and funny, but no less substantial in her words. She’s able to tell a story, share hard things, without feeling like she’s beating you over the head with a should-do list. Her heart is for friendship, that women would come alongside each other in community and love each other as Christ would have us do.

Never Unfriended is available everywhere, including on Amazon.com .


 

Lisa-Jo Baker has been the community manager for www.incourage.me, an online home for women all over the world, for nearly a decade. She is also the author of Surprised by Motherhood, and her writings have been syndicated from New Zealand to New York. She lives just outside Washington, DC, with her husband and their three very loud kids, where she connects, encourages, and champions women in person and through her popular blog, lisajobaker.com

***You can read my disclosure policy here. I received the above book for free, to review, but it was honestly so good that I’ve bought several copies to pass along ;-)

 

London Town – A Weekend Adventure

Last week Matthew and I took a whirlwind weekend trip to London! We’re not as cosmopolitan as that sounds though. I had found dirt cheap airfare a few months ago, and since we were going in the “Off Season” lodging was rather cheap by any standards. We flew out on Thursday night and came home on Monday afternoon.

I’ve been through London before, but never too London. After my jaunt to Dublin last year in January, I realized that a weekend trip to a city across the pond was totally doable and didn’t leave one feeling jetlagged and out of sorts (I chalk it up to the fact that you’re not there long enough to reset your internal clock). For Matthew and I to go away for more than a few days is an impossibility, but we realize the importance of getting away together.

I had wanted to goto Paris for a weekend, but Matthew, being the more prudent of us, thought it was better to try this weekend to Europe thing in a place that at least spoke the same language as me. So much for Paris.

We had a great time in London. We saw quite a bit of the city, if not the insides at least from the outside. A hop on hop off bus tour took a lot of the guess work out regarding transportation, and kind of meandered around the more well-known parts of London. This was in no way a trip in which you could see the whole city. It’s impossible to see any city and all it’s offerings in a long weekend.

What we did see:

  • Tower of London
  • British Library
  • Imperial War Museum
  • Covent Garden
  • Globe  Theater
  • St.-Dunstan-in-the-East Ruins
  • London by Night
  • Notting Hill
  • Portobello Road
  • King’s Cross (Platform 9 3/4)
  • Leadenhall Market
  • Paddington Bear at Paddington Station
  • Kensington Palace
  • Bus tour to Warner Bros Studio’s Harry Potter Set
  • The rest of the city was seen from the open top tour bus

We had a couple of great meals:

The one thing I really wanted to share with you about this trip is don’t let time limit you.

Just because something sounds crazy, don’t let that make you afraid to do it. I really had to sell Matthew on the weekend trip to London idea, but when we were on our way home, he was so glad that we had done it.

Honestly, unless we just want to wait until all the kids are grown and out of the house and everything is perfect, it’s never going to happen. And, at that point, we might be too old and ornery and set in our ways to handle a trip like this. PEOPLE! We walked over 30 miles in 3 days! That’s not for the faint of heart!

While we’re not looking to leave the country anytime soon again, it is fantastic to know that if we spend our time researching and doing the things geared for tourists, it’s completely reasonable to see some of the fantastic cities of this world. We really looked at this as tasting a small smackerel of a country.

To try and see the whole of England, or any country, in a weekend, isn’t even possible, but it is possible to get your toes wet in another culture.

Also, this weekend jaunt (of which I hope there will be a few more) gives Matthew and I head start on what countries we want to see more of and travel with our children to. It’s our hope that in 10-12 years, we can take our family to Europe for a few months and really world-school them. Let them see the places and experience the people that we’ve only read about in books. That’s what traveling is really all about, isn’t it?

**If you follow me on Instagram (@JessicaM.White) I’m slowly sharing more of the pictures from our trip.

 

Still Waiting {a Review}

*This post contains affiliate links.

I have to admit something, I wanted to be on the release team for Still Waiting because of it’s cover. That’s right the cover. But this book is so much more than just a gorgeous cover. The book was fantastic, for lack of a better word. Still Waiting chronicles Ann’s own struggles with waiting for a resolution, a healing, that doesn’t seem to come…and maybe never will.Still Waiting by Ann Swindell

Ann parallels her story with that of the Bleeding Woman in the Bible; how her life became turned upside down, how she struggled with shame and being ostracized, and in desperation took a great risk of faith. How her leap of faith resulted in her healing, and how sometimes, healing doesn’t come.

Ann does a beautiful job of personalizing the story of the bleeding woman, who is only briefly mentioned in passing of a greater story. Through the story she shows just how flawed we are, how desperately we needed a savior from ourselves, and still need one now.

It is not our strength which God will work with most, but our weaknesses, and we are at our weakest when we are waiting.

We all know that, but embracing it is an entirely different thing. It’s not socially acceptable to admit that we are weak, that we are failing, that we are less than what we appear to be.

And yet God seems to embrace weakness — value it, even. In fact, in Jesus we see the valuing of our frailty — of our flesh — with heavenly fervor. He became human. (p. 38)

Digging deep into her own pain and struggles and anger and frustration with herself and her still waiting, Ann’s words embrace the scary truth, that it’s hard to wait. Physically painful even. But even there, in the waiting, Jesus is still with us, still caring for us in our pain and need. Even that is hard though, knowing that Jesus is with us in the waiting, when all the waiting would end with just one word from Him. Ann beautifully describes her struggle with God’s unwillingness to end her waiting.

We are all waiting for something.

And honestly once we’re done waiting for one thing, it’s inevitable that something else will soon pop up for us to be waiting for…that’s life. Ann’s words and story can touch and heal all of us in whatever we are waiting for, whether it’s physical healing, a hard situation, infertility, or any number of other things.

For me, the sign of a good (non-fiction) book is the number of pages that end up dog-eared and marked up; this book delivers. Her writing is beautiful and engaging. She strikes the perfect balance between story writing and information, making every page of this book enjoyable to read.

You can order Still Waiting from Amazon.com and any other book retailer.

 


Ann Swindell is an author and a speaker who has written for CT Women, Relevant, Deeply Rooted, Darling, the Gospel Coalition, and (in)courage. She holds an MA in writing and an MFA in creative nonfiction writing, and she makes her home in the Midwest with her husband and daughter. Connect with her online at annswindell.com.

 

***You can read my disclosure policy here. I received the above book for free, to review, but it was honestly so good that I’ve bought several copies to pass along ;-)