9 Books Your Husband May Try to Steal for Himself

Most women read primarily female authors and men read male authors. Wanting to break the norm, I’ve been trying to diversify. In my quest to mix it up I’ve found a few books I love and I love to recommend them. These are not chick lit. These are great stories written by men that I think would interest anyone.


Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Science fiction all about answering the question, “What if?” but it’s so much more personal than that. Fall down the rabbit hole with this one and let me know how you feel when you come out!


The Old Man and the Sea by Earnest Hemingway

It’s a small book, but you’ll struggle with a seasoned fisherman in the catch of a lifetime and question your pride and strength all the way. It’s manly and beautiful.


The Martian by Andy Weir

The voice of this book is so great. This is a genius story with a genius main character. His problem solving to survive plus his snark to keep his sanity makes reading this a joy. Skip the movie. In my opinion, Matt Damon was a poor casting for this one. Chris Pratt would be better, but he’s all over space now.


Every Good Endeavor by Tim Keller

God is a hard worker. You are created to work hard too. Work is not a means to live leisurely. It’s art and beauty and purposeful and flawed. Our work will always fall short. Sacred work is not more important than secular vocations. Work has value and let Keller prove it to you from Scripture and the nature of God.


Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

My book club read it this year (all women) and loved it. You may get nightmares about dinosaurs for a while if you’re like me. It is not the movie. I love both, but this book is so great.


The Lost World by Michael Crichton

Yep, you should read the sequel too!


Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

This is a great one to get audibly. Albom reads it himself and that makes these precious hours he spent with his ailing professor feel even more personal.


Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

This is a fantastic read. You don’t have to be a gamer to love it and be totally absorbed. I don’t get all the 80s references, but you might. My husband read this first. Then our book club (remember, all women) read it. It was our group’s favorite in 2017. Will Wheaton reads it in audio version and he’s the perfect reader for this.


A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Characters you will love and never forget! No one writes a bitter old man like Backman.

There’s my list friends. I’m sure you’ve read some excellent ones you would add. Leave a comment and give me some titles. I’m always looking for more recommended reading!


Making Black Jeans Look New

Just like doing maintenance on the car you own is more cost effective than buying a new car, taking care of the clothes already in your closet is cheaper than buying new.

Black jeans tend to loose their color when they’re washed. But for just a couple bucks for a bottle of dye and a little work you can revitalize them.

This is my third year dyeing my black jeans. (You can make fun of my high elastic waisted jeggings if you want, but they were kind after Thanksgiving indulging.)

The fade is real. You can see the grain of the denim.

I usually just dunk them in a bucket with the dye and let it soak, but I thought I would follow the washing machine instructions this time.

The results were better and it was so much easier than doing it manually.

Side by side results…

Sending Myself Letters

This is my friend Ruth.  She is my favorite person to sit across a table from and talk for hours.  Or sit on a couch and talk to for hours.  (And yes, we’ve done both, several times.)

I think it was during one of those visits, she admitted to feeling like she let herself down last Christmas season.  She has a house to herself and didn’t get around to decorating as usual.  I think she had a tree, but only put lights on it.  It wasn’t the end of the world, but she wished she had let herself know somehow that fully participating in the season would add to her enjoyment of it.  She said she’d like to write herself a note that she would read later and let herself know that there are things she needs to do to make the most of Christmas.

Seriously wise friend.

How great an idea is that to send yourself a reminder to do certain things to really enjoy a season?!

I just typed in scheduling emails and found www.futureme.org where you can type emails and schedule them to be delivered in a year or on a specific date.  Next year I’ll be getting emails from myself at the beginning of each season, before my kids are on extended break from school, and any other time I want to give myself a nudge to live in the moment.

I may even need to become a member eventually.  The site starts to ask you to pay $3 for the service after you write your second letter.  Scroll to the bottom to keep it free, or pay and you’re able to send pictures and be ad free.  It may be worth it to you.

How about you?  What sorts of things would you write to your future self?

future letter fall seasonfutureme

Merry October – Pumpkin Edition (plus a devotional thought)

Last week I completed my goal with some to spare. Every day I ate an apple filled dessert. New Years resolutions dream of being this indulgent. On Sunday I began a pumpkin dessert every day, though I made another apple cake too (it was so good) for family as well as pumpkin muffins for my 5th graders at church. Desserts really are meant to be shared.

I missed two days this week, but this pumpkin cheesecake has more than made up for my lack, and I’m sure it’s better on my calorie count to not fully achieve my dessert eating goals.

It’s all in the name of enjoying Fall, but if I may, I’ll tie a devotional thought in here. At our Tuesday life group, our leader Matt was closing in prayer. He phrases every request as a gratitude to God. It’s really humbling to hear. He closed his prayer, “We’re grateful as you season our lives and actions with your love and grace.”

I love this and I’ve been mulling (sorry) it over. When everything around us is pumpkin spice this and that, I am reminded that God is working his love and grace into me and those around me. A little cinnamon and clove and nutmeg is all it takes to bring out the best in pumpkin, but His love and grace will bring out even better things.

The next time you see a pumpkin flavored anything, join me in being reminded to be aware of His work all around us.

Merry October! – Apple Edition

I stole that line from Rainbow Rowell’s book Attachments. One of her characters is so in love with Fall she cries out, “Callooh! Callay! Merry October!”

If you’re all about this season like I am, you get it.

Sunday we picked apples at the orchard.

And ate our fill of cider doughnuts.

Monday, I ate another doughnut.

Tuesday, my friend Rachel made an apple crisp and brought it to life group. It was crazy good.

These are my friends and I recently doing our own version of “Nailed It.” Rachel is on the far right.

Last night I made a half-recipe of an apple cake with pecans in my Homesick Texan cookbook. I wanted to test it out (I’d not made it before) and I didn’t want loads of cake if we didn’t like it.

That was dumb because we have yet to make a recipe of hers and not love it.

We (just my husband and I) ate warm cake last night (half of a 9×9), and I had another piece for breakfast this morning.

It has been a great week of celebrating Fall in apple form. I will make something apple again tomorrow, or again tonight and have an apple dessert a day (that probably doesn’t keep the doctor away). I talked to Rachel again today and she said “Apple this week, next week pumpkin.” Oh Friend! Yes! That must happen.

She also told me I must make these apple pie biscuits.

How about you? What apple recipe should we all try next?!?

“Babies are Resilient” and other great advice.

My kids are in 2nd grade and Kindergarten this year.  I feel like “I’ve arrived” as a parent.  My job isn’t done, but it is changing and I’ve been reflecting on the good advice I’ve been given that has gotten me this far.

Disclaimer: Parenting advice can be so contrary, but there’s not just one right way to raise a kid.  You may disagree with the advice I like to model how I parent in this post.  You may see contradiction in it, that’s easy to do, but I’m a woman, so living in contradiction is second nature.  I hope (if what I like, you don’t) you can simply say, “Good for her, not for me.” 

“Babies are resilient,” was the very best advice (when I was pregnant with my first and scared of messing everything up) was from a seasoned dad at our church.  I don’t remember the conversation that led up to him telling my husband and I this, but we adopted it as our own and repeated it to each other along the way.  It is so true.  Yes, babies need to be kept clean and dry, warm and well-fed, but whether I had a perfect playlist for the nursery or read every parenting book beforehand wouldn’t matter.

“We weren’t raising kids, we were raising future adults.”  My dad says this a lot when he sums up his and my mom’s parenting philosophy.  They disciplined us with some would call strictness, but they talked with us about what they expected from us.  They were always teaching us about how our character mattered and how table manners would help us get past a first date.   No seriously.  That was said.  Many times.

“Never lie to your kids.” My husband brought home a sermon manuscript titled with this phrase that he printed and asked me to read it.  We decided that if nothing else, that would be our parenting strategy.  Yes, that means that we do not exchange gifts specifically “from Santa” though we watch claymation Rudolph and all that for fun, and the kids ask Dad to put something special under their pillow when they lose a tooth.  We do give our young kids a simplified answer for now and an invitation to ask later, or a “we’ll talk more about that when you’re older,” but they know that Mom and Dad will always tell me the truth.

“Don’t try so hard.”  This one I love, and I needed it at the time it was said.  A dad of four and a life-long friend of my husband’s told me this as I was failing to coral my two kids and make them do my bidding. (Read: yelling at my kids who weren’t listening as they sprinted ahead of me after church.)  He saw that I was being flustered by my kids’ behavior because I was getting embarrassed in that, “your actions are a reflection upon me,” kind of way.   But that’s kind of a personal choice.  I can yell at them and cause a scene that both embarrasses them and me and oh all the effort… or I can let them  run ahead of me to their grandparents and follow at a normal pace behind them and not try so hard just because they’re running instead of walking like cherubs.  “Chose your battles,” is another version of this, but I love the playfulness of “Don’t try so hard.”

“Capture your kid’s heart daily.”  I heard this in the last year on the Every Thought Captive podcast that some professors from my college make.  One of the guys said he was trying to capture his kid’s hearts.  Then he said that he heard this from my teaching professor and friend Peter Buckland, who is a huge role model of good parenting to me.  His kids were young when I was in college, and I loved how he would spend time individually with each of his three, hiking with his daughter or camping with one of his sons.  It didn’t surprise me to hear that, “capturing their hearts,” was out of his playbook.

It’s interesting to me that these five phrases that stick with me and guide my parenting were all said by dads.  I am blessed to know many men who take such an interest in their children and reflect the Father’s heart in their homes.  I love the wisdom that my husband shows in parenting and the way he leads our family.

How about you?  What are your one-liners that echo like a mantra in your parenting?

Photo op- Unmeasurables

Quantifiable or chart-able or measuring success is my nature. Progress reports and grade cards and gold stars, oh yeah! But this year more than ever these things feel phony, like trying to capture something that doesn’t really want to be caught.

I just finished reading this book about time management. The weekly time log you’re supposed to keep to notice all the wastes you’re making we’re starting to stress me out. Then I got sick, and really felt like I was wasting my time, though I finished this book and another.

Ordering your time to be “successful” and achieving all your dreams sounds great, but I’m not a company. There isn’t a clock to punch in my home because homes shouldn’t have those.

Quality time with my kids just happens, it can’t be rigorously planned out, though I do try to have special time with each kid monthly. What can be planned is that I’m around. I can be present. Time management feels like it keeps me from being and instead forces me to DO it all.

I love this picture of my kids at Grandma’s pool. I have a thing for pictures from behind. It captures something utterly in the moment. They’re not swimming, they’re sitting and conspiring as siblings do. They’re so present and using that gift of time right now to be friends.

My son loves to swing. He would swing all day at Pops’ house if he could keep convincing someone to push him.

In the hustle of the beginning of September, find a picture that reminds you to BE. These are mine. The greatest things in life can’t be quantified, but they can be missed. Richly bask in the unmeasurable moments you’re given.