Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Wordless Wednesday: Back to School Outtakes

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

First Day of School 2019

Today is the first day of school for our three kids, here on the Gravelly Road... first days of 5th, 3rd and 2nd grades.  A day of new beginnings and new challenges for all of us.

Ike starts fifth grade today, the beginning of middle school so a big transition for him.  He is excited to seeing his friends, a new school, locker combinations, changing classes, new teachers and new routines.  I'm looking forward to see how God uses his 5th grade year to grow and challenge him.

Zman is starting 3rd grade today.  He was a little nervous this morning about learning a new schedule and some of the challenges of 3rd grade but he was in good spirits at drop off.  He has the same teacher as his brother had in 3rd grade which he is looking forward to and he can't wait to see his friends.  He has grown in so many ways this summer, I have a feeling God has some big things in store for him in 3rd grade and I can't wait to see him soar.

Peaches starts 2nd grade today.  She has been very excited for school to start plus her best friend is in her class this year.  She also has a teacher our family is already familiar with, the same second grade teacher her oldest brother had which is nice for this mama's heart.  I can't wait to see all she learns and to watch her take on the challenges of second grade.

I'm looking forward to hearing all about their first days when they return home to the gravelly road.

Dear Lord - 

We ask for an extra special blessing on the school year adventure ahead of each of our three children. Each adventure is unique and will be used fore your purposes in their lie, though all three start a new phase today.

Guide their teachers as they give instruction, encouragement, and build the tone of their classrooms.  Grant them wisdom for those moments when a child's tears or frustrated words are coming from a deeper hard place than just a tough morning.  May their classrooms be places of learning and inclusion, a safe place to try, fail and try again. 

Watch over our three as they start and strengthen friendships, handle challenges, try new hard things, work through conflict and learn the life lessons you have for them.  Guide their words and actions so that they are kind and compassionate to those around them.  Surround them with friends that bring out their best so that they can build each other up.  Help them to be part of the good and amazing things you are doing in their schools.

Thank you again and again for allowing us to parent these precious kiddos.  They are each growing and changing so fast it often takes my breath away.  Continue to grow them into the people you called them to be and help me to help them see how you are working in their lives.


Sunday, September 1, 2019

Book Review: Back Roads to Belonging by Kristen Strong

"Back Roads to Belonging: Unexpected Paths to Finding Your Place and Your People" by Kristen Strong is a book to savor and ponder. Faith-filled and refreshing Kristen dives deep into our desire to belong and the frequent feeling of being on the outside looking in. 

Throughout the book the author reminds her readers with scripture and truth that God is with us on the journey, sees and meets us just where we are, even when it feels like we are stuck on a back road to nowhere... in truth He is travelling alongside us and it is all used to His purpose. 

She gives practical advice to help and ways to adjust how you view your struggle to belong that can provide a new perspective or a new lens to view how God might be at work in this part of the journey.  Each chapter also includes a "traveling companion" story of someone today or in the Bible that had some sort of struggle with belonging that provides examples and encouragement.
This book has a powerful uplifting message for everyone in any life stage, whether in a season of loneliness or in a search for belonging or in a place of being able to include and see others who are searching for what God has given us to share. Beautifully written with a calming and peaceful tone, this book has been an honor to review.

* I received a free copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review but my opinion and words are my own. 

Monday, August 12, 2019

Book Review: Boy Mom by Monica Swanson

 "Boy Mom: What You Son Needs Most from You" by Monica Swanson is a read that I enjoyed this summer. This book written by a fellow boy mom is filled with takeaways and nuggets of truth and experience from raising her 4 boys, with the future goal gentleman of faith kept in mind as they grow.

This is not a dry parenting book that you struggle to stick with. It is more like a series of coffee dates with a wise mom friend who is further down the parenting journey from you, gently sharing on so many important topics and struggles that you may encounter parenting boys to adulthood.

Full of encouragement, prayers, and candor, the book contains practical, love-filled, intentional parenting ideas from her family's own experience.  There are helpful resources at the end of the chapters including a read-aloud list and dinner conversation starters. The author doesn't shy away from hard topics such as bullying and love/dating/sex, presenting these with real and inspired examples and advice.  While not everything will apply to a boy mom's journey, this pleasant and encouraging read will add a few new tools/ideas to her tool belt.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Book Review: The Middle Matters by Lisa-Jo Baker


I just finished this brand new book "The Middle Matters: Why the (Extra) Ordinary Life Looks Really Good on You" by Lisa-Jo Baker. I slowly savored this book as my go-to summer read, treasuring each chapter, written in essay form.  This book meets readers right in middle season of life, love, motherhood, parenting, friendship, and living in/appreciating our own bodies.

I have enjoyed author Lisa-Jo's heartfelt writing for quite a while, previous books as well as social media posts and blogs. Her writing has a way of drawing you into her stories, connecting to your own, and encouraging you right where you are.  Because Lisa-Jo bravely shares on so many topics impacting the middle seasons of life, this book can encourage so many people, even if their story is wildly different than the author's. Reading each chapter is like having a wonderful conversation with a friend who isn't afraid to be herself and share the good, hard, wonderful and challenging.

I'd gladly recommend this book to friends and likely will read it a second time. 

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book, thank you to Lisa-Jo Baker and Waterbrook Multnomah for the advance copy. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Happy Father's Day 2019

A big Happy Father's Day to the amazing guy we call Dad, who loves us so well, works so hard, and adds adventure to our normal everyday.  We love you so much!

Happy Father's Day to the amazing Grandpas, Great-Grandpas, uncles and other that pour into our kids' lives and have poured into our lives as well. 

Definitely a day worth celebrating on the gravelly road.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Book Review: The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman

The book "The Next Right Thing: Simple Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions" by Emily P Freeman  is exactly what it claims to be.  I have never thought through decision making process from a faith-filled perspective in quite the detailed and soulful way as this book walks the reader through.

Each chapter provides something new to consider and ponder, with the author's personal experience and graceful calm tone, ending with questions to consider, a prayer and action to take. The author encourages the reader several ways to make space and time to really listen and then do the next right thing in love.  This book is one to soak up slowly to better let the thoughts ruminate, to help you quiet the fear and chaos that can come from unmade decisions, helping you find clarity and peace.

While this book may seem just for those facing big life decisions or those who find unmade decisions crippling, it can really benefit any reader. Taking the time to really consider your decision making process, creating more space to allow for Spirit-led decisions, learning to really listen to what God is saying in your life, and adding skills to your tool-set will benefit you in future decisions or transitions.

This book is worth the investment of time and thought, filled with so many great nuggets of advice and encouragement, helping readers to move forward to do the next right thing in love.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, and Interviews and Reviews, as part of their Book Review Blogger Program. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Last Day of School 2019

Summer break has officially begun!  Today was the last day of school for our kids.  After all the countless field trips, outside science days, special events and end of year classroom fun, we made it to the end. 

So as tradition dictates, here are their last day of school pics with their first day of school pics.... which reminded us how rainy that first day of school was and the year ended with a big thunderstorm at the end of the school day.
Ike finished a great year of fourth grade, handling big projects and challenges, working hard, making some great new friends, reading so many books and in general having fun.  He is looking forward to a more relaxed schedule, playing baseball, minecraft, and earning some money helping with yardwork this summer (he has some big plans). He is also excited about moving to middle school next year.

Zman finished a great year of second grade this year.  He worked so hard, learned so much, made some great friends and gained confidence.  He is excited for more playtime this summer, being outside, fishing with Dad and giving gymnastics a try.

Peaches is all done with first grade. She worked so hard at school, thriving in the classroom, loving reading, making new friends, and excitement about all things school. The end of her school year was a bit tough with her broken arm from a fall the beginning of May, but she handled it with grace.  Her unique outfit on her last day was because she was participating in the end of year talent show with a few friends.

Because it was Ike's last day in the elementary school (next year middle school), I also had him take  pic with his first day of kindergarten picture. Oh my has he grown!

We are so thankful that they each had wonderful teachers who poured into them all year.  Each kid grew and learned and rose to new challenges.  We are so proud. I can barely believe we'll have a fifth grader, third grader and second grader in the fall. 

Monday, May 13, 2019

Mothers Day 2019

 We kept Mother's Day pretty low keyed here on our gravelly road. My crew made me breakfast and spoiled me with home made cards.  The boys went to archery for a part of the afternoon while my daughter and I watched a girly movie.  But the one thing I asked we do no matter what was take a picture together.  It took some convincing and several takes but I'm so glad we did.  Each is growing and changing so fast (seriously, when did my oldest get so tall?).  I want to freeze time and remember the wonderfulness and challenges and memories of being their mom right now.

A quiet day at home was a perfect way to treasure our family time, the blessing of being their mom, and life on the gravelly road. 

Monday, April 22, 2019

Happy Easter 2019 (photo overload)

Spring seemed so slow in coming this year, with an April snowstorm and two snow days recently, that the beauty of Easter was even more celebrated.  Time outside, time with family, so busy yet so beautiful.

Sooo many egg hunts  the last few days, including many practice hunts in the yard before Easter.

Of course dying eggs, which we were able to do on the patio in the sunshine.

A trip to Iowa to see family, good food, playtime with cousins and a big egg hunt. 

Easter baskets, egg hunt at home and Sunday morning church. 

Lunch with more family and another egg hunt (as well as a photo scavenger hunt).

A beautiful weekend celebrating of the hope we have this side of the empty tomb.

As is tradition, we also took our family Easter picture all dressed up and of course a few silly ones as well.

Wishing you and your family a Happy Easter.  He is Risen!!!

Loving traditions and slowing down to treasure the memories as we share our faith with our kiddos here on Life on the Gravelly Road.
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