Fun Friday {Memoirs}

I just got back from a quick getaway with these sweet girls, and among other things, we talked a LOT about favorite books.

{Jen Hatmaker, Boomama, Vicki Courtney, & Bigmama}

There was universal agreement that I needed to read several I haven’t, so I ordered a few and they came yesterday. With that said, I finished this one in a couple hours.

I don’t remember the last time I was so captivated by a book. It is EXQUISITE. Has anyone else here read it? So good. So, so good. There is a little language in it so don’t let your kiddos read it, but it’s not enough to detract from the AMAZING story.

I believe I am going on a little memoir kick this summer, so if you have any that you recommend, please leave them in the comments!!!

Happy {hot} day to you!!!


Bloom Announcement!

In answer to your (soon to be) question, I don’t know what is happening with my hair. I’m also having reservations about that shirt, which looks much cuter standing up.

Enough about me.

I’m not really a huge fan of the make-up either. Maybe it’s the lighting. It could be my head.

Ok, I’m really done now.

And despite all of these reservations, I still want you to watch this quick little video to hear about our latest selection for the Bloom Book Club. Maybe I needed the reminder…and maybe you do too.


Bloom Book Club Introduction from Bloom (in)courage on Vimeo.

What I’m Reading

I’m going to start doing these posts monthy-ish, because as  you might have noticed, I am a major bookworm. There is always a stack next to my bed that makes it look like I’m cramming for some kind of final exam and now that I have been traveling so much I have had a lot more time to read. I’m going to list what I’m reading and then invite you all to share the same with everyone else.

I’m always jumping from book to book so even though I will mention a bunch that doesn’t mean I have finished all of them, but these are some that are on my reading list right now:


What the Bible is All About by Henrietta Mears: I have read this one before but a new updated version just came out so I had to buy it. It is (in my opinion) the best of the best if you want to learn more about the Bible. Such incredible insights…LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.


And I picked this one up at the bookstore today and am already halfway through it. I have read some of her other books and have loved them as well. This one is already full of underlining and notes…really recommend it.

Just finished this-

And one of my all time favorites for quiet time…

And this last one I just ordered from Amazon tonight and I can’t wait to get it. I thumbed through it at the bookstore but it was a lot cheaper online so I have to wait t a few days to dig in.

It looks SOOOOO good. I read a few pages and was hooked!


What about you? Anything good on your nightstand these days? Any books you want to share with the class?



p.s. if you click over and order through amazon, I get a small percentage of your order price as a referral fee. Just so you know!

Bloom Announcement!

So, do you recognize the gal sitting between me and Jess? It’s time for our new book club announcement!!!! Hop over here to watch and hear more about it :)



Hello friends!!!!! Well Todd and I head out bright and early (note…bright. and EARLY) for Des Moines and I am still trying to figure out a way to meet all of my blog friends there. I have your emails in a folder and if I can pull anything together I will send out a message!!!! In the meantime, please pray for me. You would think that it would get easier but I am seriously sick to my stomach with nerves. Trying to remind myself to breathe!!!

I also neglected to blog about this post I did for (in)courage and I want to send you over there in case you didn’t read it. It’s so funny how you write something because it’s working in your world and then you feel like other people got something out of it. Sometimes I think, “Well that’s silly. They are going to think I am so lame for even posting this…” and usually those are the ones that get the most feedback. I love that. We are all trying to figure it out, aren’t we?!?! This one has really affected my interactions and daily life…I hope it speaks to you as well.

And I have a new post up today (You will NEVER guess what it’s about. Because I am not at all consistent in my search to simplify…) and the comments are super helpful. One of the things mentioned as a resource is this book, which has become one of my new favorites. Honestly, there are a billion books that look just like this in the bookstore and I probably would have just thought it was another pretty book, but it is so much more. You will LOVE it, and you will love Tsh’s take on simplifying life. She is an amazing lady and is doing incredible things for the kingdom of God. I can’t recommend it highly enough! I noticed how many people referenced it over there so I wanted to share it with you here. So. So. Good. I have a stack of notes from reading it…thank you, Tsh. Your gifting and your heart are both out of this world.

OK, friends! I have another post rattling around in my head from an experience I had yesterday. It involves homeschooling, my friend Heather, and some of the best people-watching moments this side of the Mississippi. I will try to get to that soon….and yes, I have pictures. Well, not of all of it. That’s a good thing.

Love to everyone! See you soon :)

Go on and do one better!!!!!!!



I am so proud of my friend Kristen!!! You all might know her from her blog, “We are THAT family.” I love, love, love her heart. She traveled to Kenya with Compassion International and came home with an incredible vision for a home (The Mercy House) for pregnant girls who are living on the streets. There is a lot more information on her blog about it, and I just know you will be so touched by the way God has stirred her family to help these sweet girls.

I am so excited to share a link to grab her book…if you are a mom you will love her daily devotions, and will relate to the life of a busy mom trying to love God in the midst of it all :)

Well done, Kristen!!!! Blessed to call you a friend…keep it up, girl!


Made to Crave!

Lysa’s newest book is FANTABULOUS. It’s called Made to Crave and on Monday nights she has a webcast on her site and I wanted to share the details with you…8p.m. EST, just click onto her site here and hop over to webcast to join in. If you miss it tonight it will re-air 4 times tomorrow and I believe old webcasts can be accessed in the media section of the site. She is one of my fellow (in)courage writers and I think you will enjoy her thoughts…

Just wanted to let you know! I love her :)

Hope your week’s off to a good start!


*I started to post this last night and then thought I might add some photos so I took it right down, but I guess it still came up in google reader…oops! Here it is (again!) and this time you can leave comments… Sorry!!!*

I have gotten so many emails over the years that have asked me about how I study my Bible, and I have not done a great job about writing about it. I love a new year because there’s something so refreshing about a proverbial do-over, so I was thinking this would be a good time to share a couple things that have helped me over the years.

I have been a Christian for exactly ten years (as of yesterday :) ). When I first started reading the Bible I was stressed out because I’m an academic by nature and I couldn’t figure out how to cram it all in in an efficient way. Seriously. I know that sounds pitiful but I nearly gave up on reading because it seemed so overwhelming. One day I swallowed my pride, walked into a local bookstore, and bought myself a children’s Bible. That turned out to be one of the smartest things I ever did because it made it digestible in a way that the big-girl Bible’s didn’t. It helped me understand the chronology of the Bible, as well as the key people and places along the way.

And also?

Cute pictures.

Honest to goodness I really recommend starting here if you have never read the Bible before, and just take it at a slow pace until you get your bearings a little.

After awhile I started to graduate to the tissue-paper Bible and I went to the store again to get one. For the record, this can also be an overwhelming process, as there are approximately 1,200,346,568 or so versions and they all look good. Everyone has a different opinion about this but I tend to like to read from the ESV version but memorize from the NIV version. Don’t laugh at me, but I’m kind of quirky about the way the Bible feels in my hands…I’m not a huge fan of the magnet-over-the-top kind because it feels all uneven when I’m reading.

I’m a fan of leather as far as the cover goes because they’re really durable. My all time favorite Bible is the Hebrew Greek Key Word Study Bible in the NIV version, because it makes it super easy to look in the back and find the original Hebrew or Greek (which often really changes the way you understand the passage). I also love to be able to see where else these words show up so I can compare them. In addition, it is fat and brings instant credibility if you are at Starbucks studying. For extra points, feel free to nod incessantly and whisper something about Aramaic. Or say “Pentateuch.” People never see that coming.

For those of you who love Beth Moore the way I do (let’s take a moment, shall we? Ahh, better now.) you will be happy to know that she endorses this particular Bible and that her daughters read it. Incidentally, Melissa is pretty much the smartest person I have ever met in real life and I’m pretty sure she read the Bible in English just to humor us peons in India.  At one point she said something about a present-participle something or other in Greek and I stared at the wall because I’m a writer and I’m not convinced I know what that is in English. But I nodded and scrunched my face up like I was considering the implications, which is key.

I must say I am a huge fan of The One Year Chronological Bible (NIV) because it goes, well, chronologically.

This post may have been a bad idea.

Anyway, it is really great because you can see how things really happened and not necessarily in the order of the Bible. For example, if there is a story in more than one Gospel, they will appear together instead of by book. It has really helped me understand who was a contemporary of whom and it really changes the story when you see it laid out like that.

I want to tell you about some books that I love, but I really want to emphasize that these are not a substitute for Scripture. You have to be in the Word, first and foremost. The rest of it helps bring clarity and encourage you to keep pressing on, but the life-giving power God’s Word has is incomparable.

Here are some really quick tips that have helped me when I read Scripture:
1. Always pray before you begin to read, and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you go and bring the
    Word to life in a way that inspires you to live it out. I promise He will do it!!!

2. Have a pen or highlighter and something to write on in the event that you see something you want to
    process a little more later. I have a couple different journals for different things but one I like to use I
    just created myself. I took a cheap-o notebook from Target and stuck homemade tabs throughout it for
    different books of the Bible. That way when I am reading Genesis, I just take notes on that book and
    it’s great for recording things you might not always remember, like lineage etc. I mostly use this one
    for facts and I have another journal for thoughts, prayers, anything that jumps out at me.

3. I like to have some other books handy in case I want to look up a reference for more information. It’s
    great to have a Bible dictionary, Hebrew or Greek dictionary, and any other aids that help, such as
    maps, timelines etc.

4. I try to pick a time when I don’t think I will be disturbed (moms, I hear you laughing and I realize how
    ridiculous this sounds!!!) such as morning or while the girls are in gymnastics class etc. I think there is
    a lot to be said for starting off your day with a quiet time, and to the end that this is possible I highly
    recommend it.

5. I like to have candles, chocolates, and a personal masseuse on hand when I dig in. I think that’s in the
   Bible somewhere.

6. I have to be disciplined about not reading the Bible with an agenda. It is so easy for me to slip into
    academic mode and try to analyze what I’m reading, and it takes a good amount of self-restraint for me
    to simply let the Word of God speak to me. There is a great book called Experiencing the Depths of 
    Jesus Christ that ministered to me as I learned how to truly meditate on the Word. It gave me peace to
    stop thinking about reading Scripture like it was a goal to get through it. I love the peace that comes
    from choosing a short verse and just letting myself read it over and over, processing the way the Lord
    illuminates it for me when I do.

If you are interested in reading a book that will give you the basics about the Bible, there are two I highly recommend and I’m sure I have talked about them on my blog before because for all my years of searching they are still two of my favorites. The first is more basic and is called The Bare Bones Bible Handbook and the second is What the Bible is All About (so good). They both go on sale several times a year at Lifeway, and I have seen them each as cheap as $5.

Brace yourself, because I’m about to drop some profound advice.

The most important thing about reading your Bible is actually opening it up and doing it.

I’m fantastic about making plans and having the best of intentions, but the power isn’t released in the wanting to do it. God says His Word will not return to Him void, and I can testify that it has been true for me. God never fails to meet me there, but I have to show up myself.

I know this is all kind of basic information but I wanted to share something in the hopes that if you all have other questions I can go from there. My passion is making the Bible feel accessible to people who feel intimidated by it, and I would love to answer anything I can to encourage you to experience it for yourself.

Please feel free to comment here with any suggestions, questions, or comments and I’ll do my best to answer them! I’m so excited to here from those of you who have book recommendations, advice, or methods that have been helpful to you.

See you soon!!! (Now go read :) )


Of all the things that inspire…

She is top of the list.

For years I have loved her from afar as she shared her God-breathed knowledge and insights. There aren’t words to describe how excited I am to share this with you…

TOMORROW (or today if you are reading this on Tuesday :) ) you can order Ann Voskamp’s book in the Kindle edition!!!!! I have read it and cannot recommend it highly enough. She is not just a friend, nor is she just a fabulous writer-I genuinely believe she will be remembered as one of the classic writers of our day. I could fill this page with words of admiration and excitement but I have met Ann on a few occasions and I am concerned about her having a coronary about the attention :)

I don’t think it would be too dramatic to say that what Ann offers in her newest book is life-changing, though, and I’m pretty sure you will agree. Years ago I sent her an email saying I adored her, assuming she had no idea who I was. Little did I know that she did know my story and could relate to it in a horrific way. I have never seen anyone take life experiences, Scripture, and a genuine passion for serving the Lord and combine them in a way that makes the reader long to be a true servant of God the way Ann does. Many of you already know and love Ann, but you might not know the details of her story that have carved the depths of her. I am actually choked up as I type these words because I so esteem her…she makes me proud to be a sister in the faith.

For a glimpse of sweet Ann’s book, please click here…you can thank me later. She’s like Target. You’ll go over there to look at this and you’ll end up there for 3 hours with a cart full of goodness.

And might I ask a favor of you? Would you please pray along with me for Ann during this time? Specifically that her book would reach many people and that they would be changed as a result. Pray for wisdom as she navigates life as a wife, mommy, writer, and (reluctant!) speaker. Please pray that she will have discernment, peace, and strength as she prepares for the book release, and that God will give her favor with her words. It is hard to open your heart wide and invite the world into the wound but I am so grateful that she did the beautiful, hard thing. It is exquisite

And now, I’m off to watch some football with Todd-he has been gone for five days and I am so grateful we have him back!!!

Before I go, I’ll give you the quote of the day:

Abby has decided she wants to read my book and she got to the part where there is a picture of Kate with chocolate on her face. She turns to Kate and says: “Good news. You’re in mommy’s book. Bad news. You’ve got some poop on your face.”


You all have a great night :)



I may be the last person in the free world to read this book, so it might not matter that I’m about to go hog-wild recommending it.

I’m only a few chapters into Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream
and I can tell you it is HUGELY impacting and challenging me.

If you haven’t read it, you need to. And if you have, I would love to know how it has changed the way you live out your faith. Would you share with me and inspire us all? Feel free to leave it in the comments or email me directly…I would love to hear how this book affected you,

One other quick announcement is that I would love to ask for your prayer on behalf of the Compassion team that’s about to head out to Guatemala next week. It is an amazing team of people, including Lindsey Nobles, Lisa-Jo Baker, Amanda (Moore) Jones, and Ann Voskamp.

Taking into consideration that the spectacular Keely Scott will be behind the lens and Patricia Jones playing the role of “the mom you always wanted,” I’m halfway debating trying to hop on their flight and go myself. Oh, and Shaun Groves…I can’t tell you how highly I think of him-he is 150% involved in every aspect of it. Well, except for that one part where he forced me and Melissa to stay up and write despite *complications.* Amanda, feel free to put your foot down if he pulls this trick…

Will you all just take me with you? Shaun? Ann with no e? Amanda, my never-met-but-sure-to-be-bff? Keely? No? Was it the Canon?


Well, I guess I’ll have to watch this one from the sidelines and I so hope you all will join me in praying this team safely to Guatemala and into the purpose the Lord has for them there. It’s so hard to kiss the kids goodbye and jump on a plane, and I just know how much they are encouraged by all of our prayers. If I hear any specific prayer requests from them I will pass them along to you on here, but in the meantime please stop by their sites and get to know these faces who are a part of what Compassion is doing in Guatemala.

I want to go. Seriously.

Praying this team into a remarkable trip and asking the Lord to use them to bring many families into the Compassion fold. Jesus, give them favor, peace, and fervency as they go.

I’m proud of you all for stepping out of your comfort zones and I’ll continue to be in prayer for you.

Friends, will you join me in lifting them up? Thank you…

Compassion Bloggers: Guatemala 2010

And don’t forget to buy “Radical…” You will be so glad you did :)

Love to all,