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TWENTY BOOKS EVERY MOM SHOULD READ AT LEAST ONCE

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“A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.” 
- Washington Irving


My daughter, Lilli, has been in a "compliment" phase lately. It's one of the best phases she's ever gone through, and I pray she never outgrows it. She said something to me recently that really grasped at my heartstrings. We were cuddling on the couch together, watching whatever television show PBS was airing, and she looked up at me and said:

"You're the best mommy ever."

It's such a simple sentence. We were doing nothing extraordinary. I was not feeding her pounds of chocolate. Our day had not gone any differently than our usual routine. But still, Lilli found my presence to be her favorite in that moment, and her sentence held on to me long after she said it.

I wanted to make a post dedicated to all of the moms that dedicate their rare spare time to reading. Whether you're a mom that needs a little extra encouragement or just looking for something to make you laugh, I hope you can find it here.



FOR THE MOM THAT NEEDS ENCOURAGEMENT





    


FOR THE MOM THAT NEEDS A LAUGH







    


FOR THE MOM THAT NEEDS AN 
EXTRA DOSE OF JESUS





    


FOR THE MOM THAT NEEDS TO 
KNOW SHE'S NOT ALONE



    


FOR THE MOM THAT NEEDS TO 
KNOW THAT SHE'S DOING A GOOD JOB



    


FOR THE MOM THAT NEEDS TO 
CONNECT WITH HER CHILD(REN)



    




You already know what I'm going to say: I LOVE hearing your recommendations! If you have any other motherhood-empowering books, leave them in the comments below so I can check them out!

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WHAT I'M READING || JULY 2019

Hey there! Just so you know, this post contains affiliate links, which allow me to support my website and writing career. Thanks for stopping by and I hope to see you again soon!


Hello and happy August! I hope this summer had treated you well and that you've read many good books! I certainly have, which is why I'm way behind on publishing reviews! I'm low on time lately (aka always), so let's jump right in with some of what I've read this summer!





LEAVE NO TRACE BY MINDY MEJIA ||

Stars: 3.5

Thoughts: It's interesting, that's for sure. I can't say I've ever read a book with a plot similar to this one. I like the touch of romance throughout the book, and I'm always a fan of twists and turns. If I'm being 100% honest, I read this book at the beginning of summer so I don't remember too much how I felt while reading it (which also means I didn't connect with it like I do with some books). I do know that I enjoyed it, but I'm not dying to read it again.


POWER PLAY BY DANIELLE STEEL

Stars: 5

Thoughts: I've been reading Steel's work quite often lately, and while I've had mixed feelings about some of them, this one was definitely not a miss for me. I'm usually not a fan of too many point-of-views, but Steel nailed the different characters and their own experiences. Fiona was my favorite character; I highly enjoyed her strong sense of self. This book never lacked in drama, but in a good way.


GOODNIGHT NOBODY BY JENNIFER WEINER

Stars: 4.5

Thoughts: This is the second book I've read by Weiner and I enjoyed it more than I enjoyed Who Do You Love? Why? The humor. I laughed-out-loud quite a few times while reading this book, which is rare coming from me. I adored the main character, Kate. She's a mom of three that points out all that's wrong with modern motherhood. She also gets herself tangled in a suburban murder, which is always interesting. Read if you like a good laugh in the face of motherhood and a mystery on top.


TRULY MADLY GUILTY BY LIANE MORIARTY

Stars: 4

Thoughts: I had a lot of people recommend this book to me, and overall, I'm glad I took their advice. This is my first novel by Moriarty and it left me impressed. I turned the pages quickly because I was just dying to know what happened at the cook-out that left such a mark on the guests. The "big secret" shocked me, but not as much as the end. The final few pages even put a tear in the eyes of my pregnant (and hormonal) self.


Let me know if you've read any of these and what you thought of them!

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JULY 2019 UPDATE

Happy last day of July, friends!

Am I the only one that cannot believe tomorrow is August? I’m not sure which one floors me more: the fact that we’re 8/12 months into the year, or that we only have two-and-a-half months until our little miracle babe is due to make her arrival.

I’m going to go with the second one.

I haven’t done an adequate job with updates this year because, as I’ll touch on below, I’ve been utterly exhausted. I’m playing catch-up with this blog post to give you all the updates: family, home, writing, and everything in-between!

Update #1: Let’s start with a writing update! Things have obviously slowed down since finding out we were expecting earlier this year. I haven’t been sending as many e-mails, my blog needs dusting - even my social media posts have become fewer and fewer. Any free time I have to write almost always goes into my second book, which is coming along, slowly but surely. My goal is to have it released before baby #2 makes her appearance, ‘cause we all know how much time I’ll have when she’s here. :)

Update #2: Speaking of books…that surprise I’ve been hinting at about “One Step Forward”? All of the preparations for said surprise are complete! I’m just waiting for a little somethin’ somethin’ to arrive in the mail before I can announce. Stay tuned!




Update #3: Moving on to…baby! I’m currently 29-weeks pregnant and feeling T.I.R.E.D. Taking care of a high-risk pregnancy, a forever-moving three-year-old, writing a book, renovating…I’d be lying if I said I haven’t fallen asleep in very odd places lately. :) Every symptom is 100% worth it and cherished, even if I burnt dinner a couple days ago because I fell asleep when I sat on the kitchen floor…

Update #4: HOME. You only have to take a glance at my Instagram to know that we’re knee-deep in renovating a 119-year-old farmhouse. We’ve mainly been working on the playroom (see my IG highlights labeled “playroom” to see our progress) and we are so.so.very.close to being finished with it! See below for a little before and after.

BEFORE




CURRENTLY



We’re hoping we can pound out what’s left soon so we can paint Lilli’s bedroom before her sister gets here!


That’s about all the updates I have right now! As I said up above, I haven’t written many blog posts, but here’s a list of the ones I have published recently in case you missed them:








See you all in August!

SEVEN BIBLE STUDY TIPS FOR BUSY BODIES

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Tell me if you can relate:

I'm a born busy-bee. I have a constant need to feel productive. I relate a little too much to the phrase "work-a-holic". I admire to-do lists. Sometimes I struggle being a stay-at-home mom because, at times, it makes me feel unproductive - and dare I say it, at times, bored. I enjoy doing and creating and moving. My brain does not shut off easily.

Sound familiar?

If you're anything like me, then you may know the struggle to sit down and read your Bible and/or do your devotions. It's not because you don't want to, but it's truly difficult to focus your mind, sit still, and rest. Even more so if you have littles around and your free time is rare.

As Christians, we're called to set aside time for our Father (Matthew 6:33). We know we need to. We know the benefit we receive when we rest in Jesus. We know that our time with God takes top priority.

So how do we do it?

My life is busy, even if I wasn't the kind of person who enjoyed being busy. I've had to get creative to get my time in with Jesus and let me tell you, every little bit counts.

Today I'm sharing my top tips for diving into God's word when you struggle to actually dive into God's word.



1.) Find a Bible study that involves note-taking, journaling, and/or answering questions.

One of the number one ways I focus my mind on my Bible study is to find a Bible study that hones my mind by way of writing. I really enjoy studies from The Daily Grace Co., and they hold frequent sales that allow me to stock up. I've also done "Open Your Bible" and "Apples of Gold" that really invoked thought and allowed me to journal those thoughts.

2.) Get a prayer journal.

I can very rarely pray in my head for an extended amount of time and not have my thoughts stray. I've found that I do my very best praying when I'm writing it down because my mind is solely focused on my prayers. Most of the time, I just use a lined notebook like THIS one, but if you're looking for a journal targeted specifically for praying, THIS one and THIS one are both great options!

        


3.) Write out each line of scripture.

This is something I also use my journals for. Any time I'm doing a devotional and a line of scripture is emphasized, I write it down. This helps me focus during my study and it also aids in scripture meditation and memorization.

4.) Use a journaling Bible.

I didn't start out with a journaling Bible, but I'm so glad I invested in one. The wide margins give me space to write out my thoughts, take notes, and even draw. My specific Bible is from In His Name Co., but THIS one and THIS one have the same effect!



5.) Make a list of goals.

I mentioned up above how much I love to-do lists. While I don't want you to view this tip as me suggesting that time with God is just another thing to check off your list, I do want you to have the most effective use of your time with Him, and you can do that by making a list of goals you want to accomplish that day, week, month, etc. Use your journal to write out goals such as: "Read all of Psalms", "Learn How to Study Scripture", "Journal Ten Lines of Scripture", etc.

6.) Listen to worship music while journaling or coloring.

My daughter asked me the other day why I sing when we're listening to "Jesus music". I told her it's because I feel close to Him while I sing. Even if you didn't crack open your Bible, you can still connect with God in other ways. I really love to turn on some "Jesus music", grab some colored pencils, and open a faith-inspired adult coloring book like THIS one and THIS one. It's something I do frequently while my daughter is coloring and allows me to get some extra God-time in.

        

7.) Do a devotion with a friend or with a group.

Some of my favorite devotional times have been while studying the Bible with a friend. I love gaining perspective from another's point-of-view, and it's also a way of keeping accountable. I've studied with both a singular friend and with a group, and I recommend both! 

What are some ways that you study the Bible intentionally? I'd love to hear your tips in the comments!

Ps...have you signed up for my newsletter yet? Not only will you get the first two chapters of "One Step Forward", but you'll also gain inside access to subscriber-only giveaways, book-related news, and writer tips! Sign up HERE.


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"ONE STEP FORWARD" IN SIX PHOTOS

I've been hinting on social media lately that I'm doing something to celebrate the one year anniversary of "One Step Forward". While I'm not ready to share that news yet (almost!), I am sharing something else fun today!

Have you ever heard of a "book aesthetic"? I hadn't until I published a book and connected with other authors. Basically, a book aesthetic is a series of photos that depicts what the book is about, gives off the book's vibe, etc. I've posted the synopsis of "One Step Forward" on my blog, but for those of you that prefer visual adaptations, this one is for you!


"One Step Forward" in six photos



What do you think? Does it make you want to dive into my book? If so, you can check it out HERE!

    



Ps...have you signed up for my newsletter yet? Not only will you get the first two chapters of "One Step Forward", but you'll also gain inside access to subscriber-only giveaways, book-related news, and writer tips! Sign up HERE.

[ ** all rights were received for use of these photos. ** ]

A WRITING PLAYLIST THAT GETS ME IN THE WRITING MOOD

Hey, friends! I'm back to the blog after having to pause for a couple months. If you follow me on social media, then you know I'm currently expecting our rainbow baby, another little girl! Although this pregnancy has been the complete opposite from Lilli's, it's still been rather difficult, especially with nausea and exhaustion. I'll take everything this pregnancy swings at me after how long we prayed for this babe, but it definitely has me choosing resting over working more often than anticipated.

But right now, I'm taking a break from editing my second book to bring you a rare blog post! If you've ever seen me behind my computer, then you know 99% of the time, I have a pair of headphones in while I work. Most of the time, I need some sort of background noise to pair with my work, and often it's music. I may or may not have close to 500 songs on my writing playlist (okay, you caught me. I do.). Today, I'm sharing a few with you so you can add them to your own, specifically ones that get me pumped up to write!


1) Rich Love by OneRepublic

2) Youngblood by 5 Seconds of Summer

3) Side Effects by The Chainsmokers

4) Tie Me Down by Gryffin

5) Brighter Days by Sigala

6) One Foot by Walk The Moon

7) Nevermind by Dennis Lloyd

8) The Heat by The Score

9) Heartbeat by The Fray

10) Faith by Stevie Wonder and Ariana Grande (yep, this is one of the songs from the movie "Sing" and I'm obsessed with it. 😍)


What are some songs are your favorite playlists?? I'd love to add some more to my playlist!


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WHAT I'M READING

Hey there! Just so you know, this post contains affiliate links, which allow me to support my website and writing career. Thanks for stopping by and I hope to see you again soon!

So, I mentioned a couple blog posts ago that I’ve been reading books so quickly that I haven’t been able to keep up with book reviews - and that’s still the case!
Instead of doing one book review in this post, I’m going to do four.
Ready?!

THE JAPANESE LOVER BY ISABEL ALLENDE ||

I tend to gravitate towards love stories (and I write them, too!) and I fell in love with this multi-generational love story. It was one of those stories that I couldn’t decipher how the end was going to go, and that’s a really big bonus for me. The author did an excellent job with her research, and I loved how the story traveled through years and years of history, with a beautiful ending waiting for you at the close.
Overall, I’m giving it four stars because there were a few moments in the book that seemed to slow.

THE SILENT PATIENT BY ALEX MICHAELIDES ||

I was given this book by one of my best friends, and as she put it in my hands, she said, “You have to read this book!”
The author really kept me guessing throughout the majority of the book. I had a couple of theories, one of which turned out to be mostly right. There were a couple moments where I thought, “This doesn’t add up.” It didn’t, of course, and the twist at the end made everything else make perfect sense. I also very much enjoyed the diary entries mixed with the main character’s point of view. It was different, and I loved it.
I heard this was becoming a movie, and I will definitely be heading to the theaters when it does.
I’m giving it five stars, which seems fitting for reading it in only two days.

UNDETECTED BY DEE HENDERSON ||

Let me start off by saying that I genuinely enjoyed the first book I read by Henderson, Taken. It was a little more detailed than I thought it needed to be, but I enjoyed the story and it was Christian-based, which is a definite plus for me.
So, when I saw Undetected on the “For Sale” shelf at my local library, I grabbed it, expecting to like it just as much as Taken.
However, my review is mixed.
First of all, Henderson is a fantastic researcher. I can only imagine the hours of research she puts into her novels, and as an author myself, I seriously applaud her for taking that time to get all of her facts straight. But, this book unfortunately had a little too much research for me.
One of the main characters, Mark Bishop, is a submarine commander for the U.S. Navy. We find out quickly how dedicated he is to his job, and then we hear a lot about his job. I, unfortunately, scanned over a lot of the submarine details, searching for the love story throughout the pages. It didn’t take me long to find the story, and once there, I found myself flipping the pages quicker.
The relationship part of the book is a little “out-of-the-box”, but it’s wholesome, truthful, and God-centered, which is hard to find in a romance novel nowadays.
Overall, I’m giving it 3.5 stars because I loved the budding relationship between Mark and Gina, and I commend Henderson for her extraordinary research, but it would have been just a great of a story without so much detail about being in a Navy submarine.

THE GUARDIAN BY NICHOLAS SPARKS ||

Sparks has been one of my favorite authors for as long as I can remember. I love his style of writing and how his love stories are always unique with a bit of twists and suspense.
I haven’t read The Guardian since I was in high school, and I forgot about the majority of the details. I also forgot about how much I loved it! There wasn’t a part in the book that I thought lacked or lulled, and the suspense paired with the romance kept me turning the pages as fast as I possibly could.
As with most N.S. books, five stars from me.
Have you read any of these books? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them in the comments!

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FULL BOOK REVIEW OF "SONGS OF WILLOW FROST"

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I picked this book up on a whim.
It was in the clearance section at Barnes and Noble, it sounded interesting, and I had a gift card. I honestly wasn’t sure how much I’d like it, but I figured it was worth a shot.
It was a very good shot indeed.
Here’s what I loved about “Songs of Willow Frost”:
  • It pulled me in from the very beginning, which is a must for me.
  • The characters were very, very well developed. Willow Frost herself had an amazing character arc, and I fell in love with a couple of characters, which I’ve written in more detail down below. There wasn’t a character that was under-developed or unnecessary.
  • The book was researched very well. I felt like I was walking through each scene with the characters, which I loved, but it also made me very thankful for our life. Ford did a wonderful job making the reader feel like they were a part of the book.
  • The book flowed continuously without any overly drawn-out or boring scenes.
  • The ending was just what I was hoping for.
Here’s what you might not like about the book:
  • As I said above, Ford is excellent at making the scenes feel real, but that also goes for the graphic scenes, as well. Just off the top of my head, there was a rape scene and a suicide scene that is very detailed. The author does not avoid situations that most of us shy away from but are a horrific part of this world, especially during the era of this book.
  • Along with that, part of the book is set in a children’s orphanage that is severely underfunded, and some of those parts are absolutely heartbreaking.
My favorite character(s):
  • William. One of the main characters in the book, twelve-year-old William captured my heart from the very beginning. He desperately seeks love and gives it so freely. I just wanted to give him a big squeeze throughout the entire book.
  • Charlotte. Best friend of William, Charlotte holds a trait of strength beyond her years, for reasons that might make you tear up near the end of the book. I loved her part in the book.
Have you read Songs of Willow Frost? What did you think of it? Overall, I’m giving it five stars on Goodreads. I’m also planning on diving into Ford’s first novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.
Check out this book HERE, and read more about the author HERE.

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10 ST. PATRICK'S DAY BOOKS FOR TODDLERS UNDER $10

Hey there! Just so you know, this post contains affiliate links, which allow me to support my website and writing career. Thanks for stopping by and I hope to see you again soon!

We don’t celebrate too much of St. Patrick’s Day around here.
We don’t decorate in shades of green. We own very little green clothing. We’re not even huge fans of Irish food (no offense to any Irish folk reading this; I’m sure I’d like you very much!).
BUT, no matter the holiday, something we always do is pick out a handful of books to celebrate. Just like I did for Valentine’s Day, here is a list of ten St. Patty’s Day books under $10, geared just for toddlers!
How to Catch a Leprechaun || “You've been planning night and day, and finally you've created the perfect trap! Now all you need to do is wait. Is this the year you'll finally catch the leprechaun? Start a St. Patrick's Day tradition with this fun and lively children's book.” Ps…this would also be a super cute book to read while creating a real life leprechaun trap! I’ve seen many ideas on Pinterest.
The Night Before St. Patrick’s Day || “It's the night before St. Patrick's Day, and Tim and Maureen are wide awake setting traps to catch a leprechaun! When they wake the next morning to the sound of their dad playing the bagpipes and the smell of their mom cooking green eggs, they're shocked to find that they've actually caught a leprechaun. But will they be able to find his pot of gold?”
Where’s the Leprechaun? || “Where, oh where, have all the leprechauns gone? On a big adventure and up to all sorts of shenanigans! Can you find and color these magical creatures on every fun, action-packed page?”
Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Curious George! || “Today is George’s lucky day—St. Patrick’s Day is here! George loves a celebration, and St. Patrick’s Day means plenty o’ music, dancing, and feasting fun! He dresses up in his festive finest, looks for leprechauns, and learns some Irish dance steps. But can George make it to the parade without causing any trouble?”
Pete the Cat: The Great Leprechaun Chase || “It's St. Patrick's Day, and it's also the grand opening of Pete the Cat's leprechaun catching business. Pete gears up to trap a leprechaun for his friends! But catching a leprechaun is never easy—especially if it’s Clover, who's full of tricks. Will luck be on Pete’s side? Or will Pete learn luck is actually something earned?”
Luckiest St. Patrick’s Day Ever! || “It's March 17th, and the Leprechauns are gathered for their favorite day of the year. Join them as they celebrate St. Patrick's Day with music, dancing, and a parade!”
The Itsy Bitsy Leprechaun || “A magical St. Patrick’s Day twist on the popular nursery rhyme “The Itsy Bitsy Spider!” The itsy bitsy leprechaun is ready for a St. Patrick’s Day adventure as he searches for a lucky four-leaf clover.”
Ten Lucky Leprechauns || “Count from one to ten as one little leprechaun looking for treasure magically becomes ten silly leprechaun friends at the end of the rainbow! A humorous, rhyming celebration of St. Patrick's Day!”
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Clover! || “There was an Old Lady who swallowed things over and over, and now she's come back to swallow a clover! She's back! That lovely old lady has returned just in time for St. Patrick's Day. Now she's swallowing items to make the perfect rainbow to hide a pot of gold.”
Lucky Tucker || “After rolling in a patch of four-leaf clovers on St. Patrick's Day, Tucker the terrier goes from having nothing go his way to becoming the luckiest dog of the day.”
I hope you all have a very lucky St. Patrick’s Day!

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