Saturday, December 28, 2019

Christmas 2019 Photo Overload

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!!

Praying you and your family have a wonderful holiday season and a blessed new year. And maybe your holidays didn't quite go as planned or there have been a few unexpected bumps in your week, may you keep your eyes on Christ and all the unexpected of that very first Christmas that changed the world in such an amazing hopeful way.

More than presents under the tree or capturing nice smiles in front of the tree, this year I enjoyed trying to capture the wide shots of Christmas gatherings, silly games, cousin chaos and places memories were being made. The people we love that we got to spend precious time with over the Christmas holiday... such a blessing. 

Just some special memories with loved ones from our Christmas celebrations from Life on the Gravelly Road!

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Book Review: The Grumble Free Year by Tricia Goyer

The new book "The Grumble Free Year" by Tricia Goyer follows a year in a large family’s life as they work together to remove the habit of grumbling from their lives and home.

Author Tricia Goyer’s family home may be busier and more complicated than mine ( with two parents, eight kids, and one eighty-eight-year-old grandmother with dementia) but their journey and what God taught them along the way spoke to my heart. 

It was not just about a big goal with a reward for motivation.  It was not just about the “just right” activity, demo, or parenting strategy for the kids to change.  Tricia and her husband John led by example, examining their own hearts first, met their kids where they were, studied God's view of grumbling in the Bible, turned their hearts to more frequently to Jesus, and replaced grumbling with a practice of gratitude.

The authenticity and honesty of their journey recorded in the book, the hard days and weeks that challenged them during the year, and the real-life struggles makes this book relatable.  Their faith shared throughout the book makes it impactful.  I enjoyed reading this book and was encouraged throughout, a perfect read as we get ready for Thanksgiving.

**I was given an early release copy of this book but my words and opinions are my own. **

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Happy Halloween 2019

From our witch, astronaut and cowboy!

We had so much Halloween Fun trick-or-treating near our Life on the Gravelly Road.  The kids got so excited that Dad was dressing up and then last minute I joined the fun as black cat (youngest did my facepaint). 

And while the kids trick-or-treated, we also reverse trick-or-treated handing out little boxes of candy from hubby's real estate business.  We even played at a park in fun costumes. 
So much fun!

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Book Review: Confident Moms, Confident Daughters by Maria Furlough

I've reviewed a number of parenting books in the past, including books specific to parenting boys, but I hadn't had the opportunity to review one specific to raising girls so when I heard about this new book by Maria Furlough, I looked forward to reading it.

In "Confident Moms, Confident Daughters: Helping your Daughter Live Free from Insecurity and Love How She Looks" author Maria Furlough walks moms through the likely causes of our own insecurities (now or in our own youth), how to tackle them through a biblical perspective so we can go on to model true confidence in who God created us to be, while our daughters are watching and learning from us.  Words are not enough, our daughters need our examples and this book helps you do just that.

She explains why we must start first in our own heart if we are to teach our daughters at the beginning of the book:
"We can't fake it anymore. Our daughters are keen and smart, and they will see right through our acts.  If we want to show them what a confident woman looks like, we have to be confident.  If we want our girls to know that beauty come from within and that the size of our jeans doesn't measure our worth, we have to believe it for ourselves too."

Drawing from her own life experiences as a daughter and mother of a daughter plus her work a youth leader, she provides unique information into challenges and insecurities we faced as youth and the increased issues facing girls today.  She covers biblical principles to help silence or work through insecurities with truth and work on becoming and raising godly women, She also draws in expert advice from a pediatrician, nutritionist and Christian counselor. The author covers so many important topics in an accessible heartfelt way, with multiple perspectives, example conversations, stories, thoughtful discussion questions (that can be done with your daughter) and challenges to be completed along the way.

This book is a great resource to mothers of daughters or anyone else raising or investing in girls and teens today.

* 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. 

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.

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