Friday, September 18, 2015

What I'm Reading - 2015 Summer Book Reviews

I love to read... I always have, but lately my time reading has decreased dramatically haha! But I thought it would be good to start leaving short book reviews of what I have read lately just in case anyone is looking for something to read themselves. So here are the books I have read over the last few months. Hope you enjoy!

Let's All Be Brave. Living Life With Everything You Have. - Annie Downs
I started reading this when I was pregnant with our second son. I follow her blog and this was a book she had just read and recommended it. I liked the idea of this book because at the time, we were pursuing a possible VBAC and I needed all of the courage to be brave I could get!

I liked this book, it was an easy read and very clean. I didn't agree with everything she said, mainly just differences in views about some things, but she made a lot of good points in going through some of the hard decisions she made in her life to do things she never imagined she would do. I found a lot of encouragement from reading it and enjoyed her upbeat positive attitude.

Husband Coached Childbirth - The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth - Robert A. Bradley
I also started reading this during my second pregnancy. My first birth was a little on the rocky side, so my husband and I made some drastic changes and efforts to have a better birth this time around. And we did! But I have to contribute a lot of our success to the ideals in this book. I wanted to take the Bradley Method classes, but we decided to hire a doula instead and read this book on natural child birthing methods. I wasn't sure if I would be able to manage the pain and be successful in natural unmedicated child birth, but I also knew I wanted to try as hard as I could to not get an epidural since it kind of messed things up the first time. 

This book has a TON of great information if you are interested in natural birthing methods, but even if you aren't, it is a good read. Obviously you don't get an epidural after your first contraction, so being informed and educated on ways of managing pain to get you through a portion of your labor would be helpful. The book talks a lot about how medication effects babies during childbirth, and he is VERY opinionated about this, just to warn you. I saw a significant difference in the alertness of my two sons, so I lean to the side of agreeing with him, but you could be easily offended by how forward he is I think. This book is definitely worth your time though if you are pregnant and looking for a good explanation of the stages of labor, managing pain and involving your husband in coaching your child birth.

Your Two Year Old: Terrible or Tender - Louise Bates Ames and Frances L. Ilg
Y'all... we are deep into the year of TWO with our toddler. My little Jackson can be so incredibly sweet sometimes, showering me with kisses and telling me "I love you mommy!" a thousand times and then in a second can turn on a dime and become this crazy dinosaur man that runs away from me constantly yelling "NO!" as if it's the only word in his vocabulary. You could say this age is a little on the emotional side and I was left thinking some days, "What is going on with this kid???" I talk with my friend Jessica pretty much daily about our kids (She has a daughter a month older than Jackson) and she recommended this book to me. 

It was really a beneficial read, and I like that the author has a whole series of books, each one focusing on a different year/age. People, this book was spot on. I mean, they said things verbatim that Jackson does or says. It was almost a little creepy how accurate these two ladies were on the age of two. The book covers general characteristics of the age, how two year olds interact with each other, techniques in managing them, accomplishments of the age, setting routines, their mentality and how they view the world and their individuality. It you have a two year old, I think it would be a good read for you... at the very least would make you feel less crazy about your kiddo's behaviors haha... it gave me a few good ideas to help our days run smoother, that's for sure!

Effective Parenting in a Defective World - Chip Ingram
This book has SO many good things to say. I downloaded this on my Kindle app for my iPad, so I was able to highlight parts of the book as I went, and there are just SO many highlights! I wanted to share some with you but had so much trouble even deciding! This book just truly does such an amazing job explaining discipline from the perspective of our relationship with God. It is so basic and straight forward... yet deep and articulate. I cannot say enough good things about this book, it is so encouraging and practical in helping you think about and examine your methods of disciplining and parenting your kiddos. Here are some of my favorites...

"Over the course of their lives in your home, our children will see the habits of your life. If your acts of love toward God are habitual, your kids are much more likely to learn to love God too."

"Your children need to know that they will suffer. Jesus even guaranteed it. (John 16:33) - but that God is good and He is ultimately in control. Whatever injustice they face, God will vindicate them eventually. Whatever hardship they go through, God can bring fruitfulness and blessing out of it..."

"But in your attempts to be a godly parent, remember God's great dreams for you too. Being a good parent is part of the package. He is intensely involved in the endeavor you're going through. Just as it's a learning process for your kids, it's a learning process for you. And God is with you every step of the way."

Muscle and a Shovel - Michael Shank
I began reading this book after my sister in law and mom told me about it and then we ended up doing a Bible study over it at church. It is an amazing story about a man who found his way to Christ. It is the conversation between him and a co worker, and how they worked through their different beliefs about Christ. It was really interesting to read, and to go through all of the different thought processes he experienced trying to make sense of everything. Lot of scripture is involved in this book!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

We All Have Bad Days...

As a mom, there are a lot of days when before I go to bed at night I think, "Hey, today was a good day... we did this and that and I felt like I was able to really spend time with each of my kiddos today..." and then there are days when I fall into bed crying because I am just so exhausted and I feel like I barely made it to the end. I feel like I have neglected one or the other depending on what was going on and prioritizing needs to be met. It's a constant juggle! 

With two kids, I realized very early on that you have no down time. Unless you can line up a nap between the two (hahahahahahahahahaha.....) you really have no time to do things you want to do until they go to sleep. And that's ok. But one thing I have neglected since having my second son is really having quiet time to read God's word and talk to Him. I more or less do quick reads or quick prayers during the day, and while those efforts are good, I haven't been sitting and studying like I did before Jude came along. 

I realized this week after having a rough day on Saturday, that I am missing something. I kept thinking, what is it that I feel is missing... and then it hit me.. duh... I am not filling my soul. I was so thirsty. Thirsty for God's word. So I am making more of an effort to sit down during the day, whether I have a few minutes alone or there is a baby in my lap, to read just one chapter of God's word and write a few notes about it. I can do that. 

I started in Acts. One of my good friends read through Acts recently and was talking about how it was such a good book, and I haven't read it in a while and thought I could use a refresher. I read through Acts 1 a few times and then wrote down some of the high points. I feel like when you read a chapter a few times back to back and then go back and look at the way it is broken up by headers, you find things you might have never seen before... so I just thought I would share one of the things I hadn't seen before with you today.

The first chapter of Acts talks about how Jesus was here on Earth for 40 days after His resurrection, His ascension into the clouds (Wow how I wish I could have seen that with my eyes!) and then how the apostles chose a new apostle to replace Judas.

One thing that really impressed upon me was in verse 15. Peter stood up among the apostles who had traveled to be together to gather in prayer, and began to address them and lead them in selecting a new apostle.

Now wait a minute... wasn't Peter the one who only a month earlier denied Christ on three different occasions and ran from his faith??? Yes, yes he was... not only just a casual denial, but one that involved cursing and swearing! I don't know about you, but if I had just done that, I would probably want to sit in the back corner and not say anything to anyone! 

"Now Peter was sitting outside the courtyard, and a servant-girl came to him and said, 'You too were with Jesus the Galilean.' But he denied it before them all, saying, 'I do not know what you are talking about.' When he had gone out to the gateway, another servant-girl saw him and said to those who were there, 'This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.' And again he denied it with an oath, 'I do not know the man.' A little later the bystanders came up and said to Peter, 'Surely you too are one of them; for even the way you talk gives you away.' Then he began to curse and swear, 'I do not know the man!' And immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, 'Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three time,' And he went out and wept bitterly." 
- Matt. 26:69-75

This really made an impression on me. We all have bad days. Peter had probably the worst of his life that day when he denied his relationship with Jesus. When I have hard days (and yes, I know that my hard days pale in comparison to others for sure!!), I sometimes feel like I just want to be done and not try anymore. But we can't have that attitude. Peter didn't. A month after his denial, he stood up and led the apostles to replace Judas and get moving on God's command to be witnesses to the "ends of the Earth." (vs. 15)

This life is about persevering. It's about pushing through and doing the absolute best that you can each day and not giving up. I think that's all God expects of us, to give Him our best, and to strive each day to live as He wants us to live. Life is hard, but it's supposed to be. My friend yesterday reminded me that the best things in life are the hardest and require the most work. Of course we were talking about nursing and some of the "fun" things associated with that haha... but still, the point is true. So when you feel like giving up, when you feel like you are ready to stop working and stop trying, just remember that Peter didn't. The apostle we can probably associate ourselves the most to didn't give up. He got back up and was a leader. 

This life is short, shorter than we realize, and it will all be over soon. Enjoy each day as much as you can, and don't give up on the hard ones. One day, we will be in Heaven, 

seeing our GOD FACE TO FACE... 

and He will pick us up in His arms, and tell us that the hard days and hard trials were worth it. That He loved us and hurt for us each day we struggled. I cannot wait for that moment. Check out my Dad's blog for an amazing rendition of "I Need Thee Every Hour."