Spring Reads: 2019

Isn’t it funny how reading can make you fall in love with writing all over again? Somehow the story and the cadence of words falling together one after the other makes you want to sit and write a story all your own.

These are the books I read from March through May and what I thought of each.

Ordinary: Sustainable Faith In a Radical, Restless World by Michael Horton

Christian Living, 211 pages.

Hmm… this book was tough for me. I went into it with all kinds of enthusiasm but something about the writing style really didn’t work for me. Even though I agree with much of what Horton says and believe this is an important topic for Christians to dig into, I found myself just trying to get through this one. I still recommend reading it, because like I said, it was mostly a stylistic thing for me, the message was sound and you may connect with the writing way better than I did.

Today’s ‘radical’ is tomorrow’s ‘ordinary.’ In most cases, impatience with the ordinary is at the root of our restlessness and rootlessness. We’re looking for something more to charge our lives with interest, meaning, and purpose. Instead of growing like a tree, we want to grow like a forest fire.

Horton, p. 127

Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds by Jen Wilkin

Christian Living, 152 pages.

I really, really loved this book. Wilkin’s writing is deep and convicting but written in a relatable and enjoyable style. I was done with this book in just a day or two but have continued referring back to it as I learn to implement what I learned about studying the Bible on my own. A must read for anyone looking to dig deeper into God’s Word on their own or in a group study.

Does this mean that the Bible has nothing to say to us about who we are? Not at all. We just go about trying to answer that question in a backwards way. The Bible does tell us who we are and what we should do, but it does so through the lens of who God is. The knowledge of God and the knowledge of self always go hand in hand. In fact, there can be no true knowledge of self apart from the knowledge of God. โ€ฆ Seeing who he is shows me who I am in a true light.

Wilkin, p.p. 26-27

On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life Through Great Books by Karen Swallow Prior

Literary Criticism, 236 pages

This is by far the best book I’ve read this year. A friend recommended it to me and the premise of learning how to think and live well by observing virtue and vice in literature caught my interest. I knew when I was already highlighting multiple quotations in the intro that this was going to be a winner and it did not disappoint. I don’t even know how to choose a favorite quote to share because I highlighted so much throughout the book! It’s not very often that I’m genuinely sad when a book is over but I could have read chapters and chapters more.

I put this book on my writing desk with the other books that have most deeply influenced by reading and writing and I fully intend to read it again each year. I’ll leave you with two short quotes just from the introduction:

We must imagine what virtue looks like in order to live virtuously.

Cultivating and exercising wisdom is harder than consulting a rule book.

Swallow Prior, p.p. 26 & 28

The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines

Biography, 208 pages (5 hour listen).

Last month, Darren and I drove the entire East Coast from Florida to Maine so a couple of audio books were a necessity as you might imagine! The Magnolia Story was the perfect listen to pass the hours. Read by Chip and Joanna, you feel like you’re sitting around drinking coffee with the Gaines and laughing about all the crazy things these two have done to get to where they are today. Darren and I were both laughing out loud and crazy inspired by the Gaines’ vision and courage. I don’t have a quote to share since I was listening not reading but I definitely recommend.

The Wheat Princess by Jean Webster

Fiction, 340 pages.

Jean Webster has been my favorite author ever since I read Daddy-Long-Legs back in high school. Every now and then, I like to reread her books and fall in love with her story telling and humor all over again. Webster’s books sit on my writing desk as well and she is likely the most influential voice in my love for words and the development of my own writing style.

The Wheat Princess is a novel about an American girl in Italy and the transformation she goes through while there. Written over a hundred years ago, the language is beautiful and the story charming.

Heretofore she had been so sure of herself; so ready to judge every one from her own standpoint, but Italy was suddenly making her feel very young.

Webster, p.p 48-49

That’s it for spring. I’m excited to dive into a new stack of books over the summer. What are you reading? And what do you recommend? My favorite book so far this year was recommended when I asked for suggestions so let me know what books you’re loving!

Winter Reads: 2019

At the beginning of the year I realized I had lost my love for reading — mostly from burning myself out on parenting books I felt obligated to read. Many of these are helpful but I noticed when I wanted to burn every parenting book I saw that it was probably time for a break from all the “do this to be a better that” stuff.

I declared 2019 the year in which I read whatever the heck I feel like and behold, I fell in love with stories and words all over again. Now that I’m enjoying books once more I thought it would be fun to do a seasonal recap sharing what I read. Here’s a quick look at the books I read from December to February.

Escape to Vindor by Emily Golus

Fantasy, 354 pages

This was a fun book to read in part because the author, Emily, was also my college roommate. Writing is hard work so it’s pretty cool to see someone I know who studied to be a writer actually doing the work and following through with her dream.

Vindor was a fun break from my normal book genres. I haven’t read anything like this since I finished The Lord of the Ring series. Think Lord of the Rings meets The Chronicles of Narnia and you have an idea of the fun and adventure you’ll be diving into with this story. Find it here.

At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenreider

Travel Memoir, 268 pages

My sister-in-law gave me this book for my birthday last year and as soon as I cracked it open I couldn’t put it back down. I loved both the writing style and getting to travel with the author through different countries and adventures. It did no good for my own wanderlust as I now have a bunch more places on my list I must see ๐Ÿ˜‰ Find it here.

Wanderlust and my longing for home are birthed from the same place: a desire to find the ultimate spot this side of heaven. When I stir soup at my stove, I drift to a distant island. When I’m on the road with my backpack, my heart wanders back to my couch, my favorite coffee cup. My equal pull between both are fueled by my hardwired desire for heaven on earth. And I know I’ll never find it.

Tsh Oxenreider

The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Timothy Keller

Christian Living, 46 pages

This was a super short read at under 50 pages but it packs a punch. I marked all over the pages and plan on re-reading this at least once a year. Highly recommend. Find it here.

The thing we would remember from meeting a truly gospel-humble person is how much they seemed to be totally interested in us. Because the essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less.

Timothy Keller

Come To Jesus by Christa Threlfall

Christian Living, 92 pages

Christa, like Emily, is someone I went to college with so when I saw she was publishing a book, I signed up for the launch team to read the book and cheer her on. Like The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness, this is a short book with big impact. Christa did a great job reminding readers that true hope and help are not found in a change of circumstances but in Jesus alone. I was encouraged to look at hard things as opportunities to grow and draw closer to the Lord rather than seeing them simply as things to get through. Find it here.

Alexander the Great by Philip Freeman

Historical Nonfiction, 330 pages

This is the first book I purchased after I decided to read whatever I wanted. Before, reading a whole book about Alexander the Great just for fun didn’t seem like the best use of my time. I was wrong. Not only did this book improve my understanding of history and culture, there were stories that made me question my motives and character and interesting parallels to Christianity and the spread of the gospel — so how’s that for a waste of time ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m looking forward to reading more books in this genre as it ended up being something I really enjoyed. Find it here.

So tell me, what are you reading/recommend? I’m always looking for ideas so share away!

5 Favorite Beauty Finds from 2018

I love makeup and I love trying new makeup and beauty products to see what’s out there. Over the last several years I’ve noticed that my skin is really starting to change thanks to age and the hormonal changes that come with having babies. 

My skincare concerns this year were: Fine lines around my eyes, dry skin, and dark spots. I get melasma during pregnancy (dark, freckly patches on the face that never completely go away) so one of my biggest concerns was finding something that could conceal dark spots without being too heavy or sinking into fine lines. A surprisingly difficult thing to find! I want my makeup to look fairly natural and be as good for my skin as possible.

So all that being said, I thought I’d share five of the products I really ended up loving this year.

Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Color Correcting  Treatment and Cicapair Tiger Grass Re.Pair Serum

I got little samples of these products when I purchased something else from Sephora and I ended up loving them right away. I had tried all kinds of foundations and concealers trying to cover those dark spots and everything ended up being too thick and very made-up looking or not heavy enough to actually cover anything. The thing I love about the Tiger Grass is it goes on green (which works wonders for concealing) and dries beige. It has the texture of a moisturizer and goes on smooth and natural. The serum adds an extra layer of moisture and gives a really nice glow.

Tarte Amazonian Clay BB Tinted Moisturizer

I love Tarte overall so when I was trying all those foundations and concealers Tarte was where I started (and ended lol). I like this BB cream because it does the work of several products all in one (moisturizer, SPF and color) while still feeling light and looking natural. I apply the Tiger Grass products first and then a few dots of this over top (followed by a loose finishing powder, blush, and highlighting powder on the cheek bones). My only complaint (and the reason I kept trying other products for a while) — this doesn’t offer full coverage so I do need something else in addition to help with the dark spots. 

Milk Makeup Kush High Volume Mascara

I’m a total mascara junkie. For years during high school and college I was obsessed with Max Factor 1000 Calorie mascara and then they stopped selling it in the US and crushed my little soul ๐Ÿ˜‰ It literally took me until this year to find something I like just as well. This mascara is awesome because it’s super buildable without being cakey. The only thing I don’t like about it is it does flake off some throughout the day. 

Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade

Eyebrows are hard…at least mine are. I like this pomade because it fills really well and using it with the brush designed for it makes it really easy to shape your brows without looking like Groucho Marx. The thing I don’t like about it is it doesn’t really set your brows so if anyone has a setting gel or whatever you love, let me know! Oh, and unrelated fun fact, my son calls eyebrows “eye-brellas” because they’re umbrellas for your eyes ๐Ÿ™‚

Tarte Tarteist Double Take Eyeliner

I just started using this this week and absolutely love it. I’ve always used a crayon liner on my eyelid and a separate liquid liner on the bottom. But this has both in one — a crayon on one end and liquid on the other. Both go on beautifully too. Again, Tarte is good stuff. 

Anyway, I hope if you are trying to weed through the plethora of products out there or just want to try something new that these will give you some helpful ideas. And I’m always open to suggestions and trying something new myself so let me know what your favorite products are in the comments!