Thursday, May 30, 2013

Book Review :: Unglued by Lysa TerKeurst

This is the sentence that convinced me that I was holding a must-read book.

“Do I want my headstone to read, ‘Well, on the days she was nice she was really nice. But on the days she wasn’t, rest assured, hell hath no fury like the woman who lies beneath the ground right here’?”

I laughed. But then . . . I wasn’t laughing. I’ve rarely had a book have me in tears so early on, but this one did.

Because I struggle so much with coming completely unglued over the most ridiculous things and then regretting my words and actions. 

With feeling helpless to stop myself from exploding and spewing all over the people I love the most. Because let’s face it, there’s very little chance you’ll see that side of me unless you live in my house—or possibly if you’ve made the very unwise decision to refuse to split the fruit smoothie I just ordered into two cups…but, um, that’s a story for another day.

But speaking of stories, one of the things I admire about Lysa TerKeurst is her willingness to be painfully transparent. She tells things that are shocking. Not because I can’t believe them or have never done anything like them.

They are shocking because I certainly would never admit to them in print!

Maybe you have no issues with coming Unglued. If not, I’m truly happy for you. I don’t believe you, but I’m happy for you.

If, however, you might admit to occasionally losing it when someone decides to eat chocolate ice cream on the couch or run their spaghetti sauce covered face all over your pants…then read on.

What I liked:: I’ve already touched on this, but Unglued is full of very real, very practical, very relatable stories of people coming unglued in a variety of ways. And while no one is saying it’s okay to come unglued, there’s no sense of condemnation. Only a call to imperfect progress.

What I loved:: Unglued isn’t just a book that points out all the many ways we come unglued and then leaves us with a nice “you need to pray about it” platitude. Not that prayer isn’t important, but that’s a Christian-speak bandaid. I wanted to find some specific tools to help me in my unglued moments, and this book delivered.

I’m not saying I haven’t come unglued since I finished reading this book. I think it’s a little less often. I think I’m choosing to extend grace, to change my perspective, to lean into Jesus just a little more often.

It’s imperfect progress, but it’s progress.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Book Review :: Desperate - Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe

Best Book on Motherhood I’ve Read. Maybe Ever.

Sometimes I pick up a book because the title sounds good. Sometimes because someone I respect has endorsed it. Sometimes because people I know have read it and recommended it.
Sometimes all three.

The title Desperate - Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe caught my attention.
Hope? For a Mom? Who needs to Breathe? Yep. That’s me.

Then there’s the endorsement. Yep. Ann Voskamp wrote a beautiful forward to Desperate and highly recommended it.

Then I started picking up comments about it on Facebook, Twitter, and in the blogosphere from people who I trust.

So when my smiling Amazon order appeared, I started reading immediately.

The book is co-written by Sarah Mae (the “young” mom) and Sally Clarkson (the “experienced” mom), which is one of the things that drew me to the book. Each chapter starts with Sarah Mae’s often painfully honest thoughts on some aspect of motherhood—exhaustion, mundane chores, training strong willed children—and is followed by Sally’s advice and encouragement.

What I liked:: The honesty. This is not a sugar-coated view of motherhood. This is real, in the trenches, “I’m not sure if I can do this today” reality and it resonated with me on so many levels.

What I loved:: I love, love, love the way these ladies elevate and honor motherhood. Even on the hard days. Especially on the hard days. These ladies express over and over again how important the role of “mom” is and how critical it is that we lean into Jesus, fall into grace, and rely on our Heavenly Father’s strength to get us through the long days and even longer nights.

What’s unique:: Each chapter ends with a QR code you can scan with your smart phone (and the web address if you don’t have a smart phone). You’ll be able to watch a video with Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson discussing each chapter of the book.

I love being a mom. But motherhood is far, far harder than I ever anticipated it would be. I’ve been in the toddler trenches for 10 years and I am often exhausted. Often desperate to catch my breath and find the strength to keep going.

Desperate-Hope for the Mom That Needs to Breathe was exactly what I needed.
I highly recommend it.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Kids Need Rest

As a Mother, I’m tuned to the needs of my children.

I know when the whining has more to do with hunger than attitude. When the fighting has more to do with cabin fever than hostility. When the drama has more to do with fatigue than the situation at hand.
This is why most moms I know consider nap time to be sacrosanct. We plan our days—our lives—around that window every afternoon for one simple reason.

Our kids need rest.

We know that when they don’t get enough rest, they turn from chubby-cheeked cherubs to tiny terrors faster than they can spill chocolate ice cream on a white t-shirt.

As mothers, we have a bit more patience with the exhausted child who can’t handle the challenges of supper time. I will often look at my husband and say, “He only slept for an hour” or “She woke up at 5:30 a.m.” as explanation for a meltdown over something as trivial as the color of a cup or the amount of ketchup on a plate.

We aren’t excusing their behavior, but we recognize that in this moment, they simply don’t have all the tools they need to cope with life. Their little bodies are desperate for rest and a good night’s sleep will smooth out their bad attitudes and grouchy dispositions.

I was thinking about this today as I replaced the Spider Man sheets on my four-year-old’s bed—and was wishing I could crawl in it and fall asleep.

As I tucked pillows into cases I could feel God’s whisper in my heart...
“Honey, I know you need some rest.”

I’ve been in the toddler trenches for ten years, but my current fatigue is far more emotional than physical and it runs deep. And to tell you the truth, I’ve been a bit of a brat lately. Grouchy toward a lot of people. Grouchy toward life. Grouchy toward God.

I tend to assume God wishes I would just grow up already and quit acting like a baby.

But as I placed Spider Man face up on the bed (because the other way is “wrong”) all I could feel was His arms wrapped around me. Squeezing me close. Holding me up. Reminding me that He created me—a mother—in His image.

My ability to be tuned to my children’s needs? It comes from Him.

God is tuned to our needs.
He knows His kids need rest.
He knows we don’t always have the tools we need to cope with life. He knows a good night’s week’s month’s sleep could smooth out bad attitudes and grouchy dispositions.

He doesn’t look at us in disgust and exasperation when our nerves are frayed and our tempers are short.

He looks at us with love and tenderness. He’s not excusing our behavior, but He knows—HE KNOWS—we need rest. He created us this way.

I think, if you’ll listen, you’ll hear His invitation.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Happy Mother’s Day. May you find your ultimate rest in Him.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Book Review :: When A Secret Kills by Lynette Eason

One of my personal rules of writing book reviews is No Spoilers - so be prepared for this review to send you straight to your local bookstore!

Lynette Eason wraps up the Deadly Reunions series with When A Secret Kills and, well, at the risk of sounding cliche…

It starts with a bang. (Sorry, that’s all I can say!)

As hard as this may be to believe, the pace actually quickens from there.

After ten years in hiding, Jillian Carter knows it’s time to go home.
Time to face her past.
Time to expose a powerful politician for a crime that happened before her eyes.
Time to explain her disappearance to Colton Brady—the high school sweetheart who hadn’t deserved to have her vanish without a word.

Convincing Colton of what she saw and why she had to stay in hiding is complicated. So very complicated. (Sorry, that’s all I can say!)

Despite his reservations about Jillian’s story, Colton is too good of a cop to refuse to consider all the facts.

The fact that he’s still in love with Jillian Carter being at the top of the list.

As I’ve come to expect from Lynette, there’s just enough romance to keep me from being completely wigged out by the danger Jillian—and those she loves—are in as they search for the truth of what happened that night.

This plot line is one of the twistiest I’ve encountered in a while and I loved the surprises that awaited me on each new page.

When A Secret Kills hurtles from the chaos of the opening pages to the unexpected—and very satisfying—conclusion.

Available May 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. 

You can read my review of the previous books in the series by clicking on these links.
When the Smoke Clears
When a Heart Stops

While When A Secret Kills could be read as a stand alone, you’ll definitely miss out on the intricacies of the plot and the depth of the characterization if you haven’t read the previous books in the series first. 

The super fine print: I received a copy of When A Secret Kills in exchange for my review. I was not obligated to provide a positive review. All opinions are my own.