Saturday, December 31, 2011

Reflect and Resolve


Download The Simple Mom's List of Questions for reflection on 2011 by Tsh.


4 Christian Principles for Making New Years Resolutions @ Ligonier Blog

The Sobering Effect of Year-Ends from Desiring God on Vimeo.

What do you do to reflect on the previous year and make resolutions for the new year?

A Year of Favorite Posts

Here is a look back at favorite posts from 2011...


10 Ways to Keep Your Kids From Reading
{A snarky little look at reading.}


Modern Candy Hearts
{Check out what my heart told me.}


Serving Makes Life Full
{Translating for a medical team that visited.}


Meeting Blog Friends
{So fun to meet online friends in real life.}


Praying With and For My Children
{Some ideas that have made a difference in my life,}\


What Are Your Passions?
{This would be a good one to start the year reading.}

My Year of What?  Help Me Write a Bestseller
{Two for June because this might be my favorite post of 2011.}


Finally, A Verse For 2011
{Did you have a verse for 2011?}


Plans for the 2011-2012 Homeschooling Year
{Love reading these types of posts on other people's blogs.}


Recommendations For Read Alouds'
{Some of our favorites}


Take One Step
{I wrote daily about missional living in October and this has all the links for the month.}


Would You Give Up Your Peanut Butter Cup?
{What my four year old taught me.}


Adjusting to Life on the Mission Field
{What it is really like when missionaries go to another country.}


If you have a blog, leave a link to your favorite post from 2011.

Friday, December 30, 2011

What I Read in 2011...

My goal for 2011 was 25 books. Since I was used to reading more from the previous year, I kept up the pace and finished 58 books (listed here), two shorter books, and many read alouds with the kids. I also read blogs, newsletters, magazines, books of the Bible and many other items with writing.

As you scan the list, please note a few facts. The highlighted books were my favorites for 2011. The books that are in small print, I do not recommend and would have been better off had I abandoned them. Not all the titles that I left in normal size font would I recommend. If the title is linked, it probably leads to a review post.

This is simply a list of the books that I read.

1. I Am Hutterite: The Fascinating True Story of a Young Woman's Journey to Reclaim Her Heritage
by Mary-Ann Kirby
2. The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child's Heart for Eternity
by Sally Clarkson
3. Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality
by Wesley Hill
(Tim Challies posted a great review on this book here.)
4. Reaching and Teaching: A Call to Great Commission Obedience
by M. David Sills
5. Hello, I Love You: Adventures in Adoptive Fatherhood
by Ted Kluck
6. God Planted Five Seeds
by Jean Dye Johnson
7. Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer
by John Grisham
8. The Missional Mom: Living with Purpose at Home &  in the World
by Helen Lee
9. Life From Scratch: A Novel
by Melissa Ford
(free in Kindle - very light read with some pages I skipped or skimmed. I need to write a post about the problem with free Kindle books at some point.)
10. One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are
by Ann Voskamp
11. Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back
By Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent
12. Happily Ever After (Deep Haven Series #1)
By Susan May Warren
13. Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit
by Teri Maxwell
14. Friendships for Grown-Ups: What I Missed & Learned Along the Way
by Lisa Whelchel
15. Something Borrowed
by Emily Giffin
16. Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe
by Todd Wilson
17. Something Blue
by Emily Giffin
18. Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning
by Oliver and Rachel DeMille
19. Always the Baker Never the Bride
by Sandra D. Bricker
20. The Convenient Groom
by Denise Hunter
21. The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment
by Tim Challies
22. Practicing Affirmation
by Sam Crabtree
23. Talkers, Watchers, and Doers: Unlocking Your Child's Unique Learning Style
by Cheri Fuller
24. A Woman Who Reflects the Heart of Jesus: 30 Days to Christlike Character
by Elizabeth George
25. The Heavenly Man: the Remarkable True Story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun
with Paul Hattaway
26. The Little Lady Agency
by Hester Browne
27. Mission to Oz: Reaching Postmoderns Without Losing Your Way
by Mark Tabb
28. The Student Whisperer
by Oliver DeMille and Tiffany Earl
29. Don't Waste Your Life
by John Piper
30. Just One of the Guys - (not recommended)
by Kristan Higgins
31 .Pocketful of Pinecones: Nature Study With the Gentle Art of Learning : A Story for Mother Culture ®
by Karen Andreola
32. Prep - (not recommended to anyone)
by Curtis Sittenfeld
33. The Fine Art of Insincerity
by Anglea Hunt
34. Global Soccer Mom: Changing the World is Easier Than You Think
by Shayne Moore
35. Uncompromising: A Heart Claimed By a Radical Love
by Hannah Farver
36. Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me: A Memoir of Sorts
by Ian Morgan Cron
37. Jump Off the Hormone Swing: Fly through the Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Symptoms of PMS and Perimenopause
by Lorraine Pintus
38. Choosing to SEE: A Journey of Struggle and Hope
by Mary Beth Chapman
39. Miss Match
by Erynn Mangum (free on Kindle)
40. Rematch
by Erynn Mangum
41. Match Point
by Erynn Mangum
42. I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids: Reinventing Modern Motherhood
by Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile
43. Hungry for God: Hearing God's Voice in the Ordinary and the Everyday
by Margaret Feinberg
44. Love Food & Live Well: Lose Weight, Get Fit & Taste Life at Its Very Best
by Chantel Hobbs
45. My Foolish Heart
by Susan May Warren
46. For Time and Eternity
by Allison Pittman
47. Breathing In, Breathing Out: Keeping a Writer's Notebook
by Ralph Fletcher
48. Not Your Parents' Offering Plate: A New Vision for Financial Stewardship
by J. Clif Christopher
49. Not a Fan.: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus
by Kyle Idleman
50. So Long, Insecurity: You've Been a Bad Friend to Us
by Beth Moore
51. The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins
52. Catching Fire
by Suzanne Collins
53. Mockingjay
by Suzanne Collins
54. Don't Call It a Comeback: The Old Faith for a New Day
55. My So-Called Life as a Proverbs 31 Wife: A One-Year Experiment and Its Surprising Results
by Sara Horn
56. Blue Christmas
by Diane Moody
57. What Matters Most: When No is Better Than Yes
by Doug Fields
58. Faith
by Lori Copeland

Favorite Books of 2011

The following are my top five books of 2011:

1. Choosing to See: A Journey of Struggle and Hope by Mary Beth Chapman - This offers a fast-paced look into Chapman's life including the death of her daugher. She shares in an honest and authentic way which I found beautiful. This is a book you will read and then pass on to your friends.

2.   Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper - What took me so long to read this book? This is an excellent reminder of what is important. I plan to challenge my children to read this when they are in high school and I think all college students or young adults need to read this book. If you have not read it, grab a copy.

3. Practicing Affirmation: God- Centered Praise of Those Who Are Not God by Sam Crabtree - This was such a refreshing look at giving others words of encouragement. I highly recommend this for Chistians desiring to build others up in a Biblical way.

4.   Reaching and Teaching: A Call to Great Commission Obedience by M. David Sills - This is an excellent look at the entire Biblical mandate. It helps us remember that we are not just to reach the world but also to teach them. 

5. The Hunger Games Trilogy - I enjoyed these books as much the second time in light of what I knew would happen. 

What were your favorite books in 2011?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Reading the Bible in 2012

In a few short days, we will all welcome in 2012.  What are your plans to cultivate drawing near to God? Bible Reading for 2012, and Why at Pyromaniacs was especially inspiring as I was thinking about what I would be doing. I especially liked the following quote:
“Pick a plan. Any plan is better than no plan. Play to your strength. If you're a morning person, read it first thing (this is what I found decades ago to be my path). If not, do it in the evening or midday. There is no law for a time to pick; but there is a law to do it.”
I agree. It does not really matter which plan, what time of day, or any logistics. It does matter IF you read and IF you read to know God and hear what He wants to share with you.
As you search out a plan that will work for you, may I suggest a few ideas…

1. THE FREE WAY – My very first time reading the entire Bible, I started with a sheet that listed each book of the Bible and every chapter. I read whatever book that I wanted, in whatever order that I wanted. I got it done and was amazed that I finally managed to stick it out. (After that, I was able to follow a more structured plan.) If you have started and stopped too many times to count, why not try a more free approach and see if that helps.

2. THE TIMELINE WAY – This is normally known as the chronological plan. You basically find a plan that lists the readings in order and read what happened first and then next and then next and then next…. You get the idea.

3. THE BOOK WAY – Open your Bible to page one and begin reading. When you complete Revelation, you are done. (This can be done in 90 days, one year, three years, seven months and twelve days, or in whatever time you happen to need.)

4. THE HERE AND THERE WAY – This would be a plan that has you reading in several places each day. You can read from two places, four places, even ten places. You can find all kinds of Bible reading plans with variations on the here and there way.

As you can see, there is no right way to read the Bible and I totally made up the names for the plans above. For a great list of plans with links and normal names, take a look at Justin Taylor’s Bible Reading Plans for 2012. You could also join Tim Challis in the 3650 Plan. This plan falls under #4, reading from 10 places daily and I plan to attempt it in 2012.

***My biggest and best advise for those who will be trying this for the very first time is that if you fall behind, do not quit. In fact, expect to fall behind and then you won’t be disappointed in yourself. Does it really matter when you finish reading the Bible? Does it really matter if you are on the correct day? 

What are your plans for Bible reading in 2012?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What’s On My Nightstand? for December

What's On Your Nightstand  Here we are at the end of 2011 and time again for What's On Your Nightstand? I have found less time for reading and even blogging this month and this post reflects that fact.  I do hope to pull together an end of the year reading post in the next day or so. In the meantime, here is the basics of December....
  • Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins – {I read this series in the fall of 2010 and started the first book again after watching the trailer. It was fun revisiting the books and seeing the details in light of what I knew would happen.}
  •   Don't Call it a Comeback edited by Kevin DeYoung
  • My So-Called Life as a Proverbs 31 Wife by Sara Horn
  •   Blue Christmas by Diane Moody
  •   What Matters Most: When NO is Better Than Yes by Doug Fields
What have you been reading?

* Links are affiliate links.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Blue Christmas by Diane Moody {Author Interview}

On Facebook recently, I asked what Christmas related books people were reading this month. One of my friends mentioned Blue Christmas by Diane Moody. I was pretty sure that Diane, my friend, and I had attended church together about 16 years ago. Of course, I was curious. After reading the description of the book, I popped it on my Kindle for less than a dollar and began. I enjoyed the Christmas themed, love story plus the journey behind the book is also great. Here is a little background from Diane herself...

1. You are likely a new author to many of my readers, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you started writing.
I've loved to write for as long as I can remember. But for some reason, it never occurred to me that it could be a career. Just a hobby. Oh, to have those years back . . . Then again, it's so obvious to me that God opened the door to publishing at this point in my life now that my kids are grown and gone, and I finally have the time to seriously pursue this dream. I started attending writers' conferences and meeting other authors as I learned the "craft" of writing. It took more than 15 years before my first book was published in 2010 - Confessions of a Prayer Slacker - a book literally written on my heart by the Lord. Then, earlier this year, I decided to dip my toe in the indie-publishing arena with The Runaway Pastor's Wife, and I've never looked back. I've released two novels and two novellas this year, and I can honestly say I'm having the time of my life!

2. The story Blue Christmas is quite unique. Please share how the story came about.
When my daughter Hannah was in high school, she was obsessed with a particular boy band that was popular at the time. So for Christmas that year, I wrote her a short story about a girl named Hannah (though fiction-Hannah was a college senior) who quite by accident found herself in the home of a kind woman on Christmas eve. She soon discovered her new friend was the mother of the lead singer for the hottest band in the country - and Hannah's childhood idol. She and Jason fall in love, of course, and over the holidays their relationship begins to grow. Then tragedy strikes at the heart of the band, and their newfound love is put to the test in the glare of the paparazzi spotlight. My daughter loved the story, asked me to write more, and over the course of time it grew into a full-length novel. She posted the story on a fanfiction website of her beloved boy band, and it was read by more than 80,000 readers. Over 1000 of them wrote me emails! It was so much fun, and I knew one day I wanted to publish the book. (Of course, the band is now fictional.) Blue Christmas just released a couple months ago, and the response has absolutely blown me away.

3. What was your favorite band growing up? presently?
Okay, this is SO embarrassing, but I have to admit, when I was in junior high I was completely smitten with The Monkees. I know - lame, huh? Of course, I also loved the Beatles and the Beach Boys. Over the years, my taste is music has become rather eclectic. My favorite band today? I have no idea. I seem to gravitate more toward movie soundtracks by James Horner, Thomas Newman, James Newton Howard, Hans Zimmer. Great background music for writing. But since I live in Nashville, I also have to admit I love Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, and Dave Barnes. Just so you know.

4. I read that you will be adding to this series. Can you expound on that?
I hope my readers aren't disappointed, but the Moody Blue Trilogy are all separate stories. They all involve music celebrities, and there's a "blue" thread through each of them. Right now I'm working on the second book, Blue Like Elvis. It's based on my two years back in the late 70s working at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis. I worked as a Patient Representative, a hospital version of what flight attendants are to the airlines. Only program like it in the country. I was there at BMH the day Elvis died (can you see where this is going?) My 20-something fictional character has quite a story to tell about working at "Elvis's hospital" . . . can't wait to finish this one! The third book is still up in the air, though it will most likely have more of a Nashville vibe with a lot more comedy thrown in.

5. Since my blog is Missional Mama, I always like to ask how others include missional living in their life.
I have finally begun to understand my mission is touching hearts for God through my books. I always include a message of God's forgiveness or the profound hope that only He can offer. When I wrote the original version of Blue Christmas and received emails from young readers asking about Christ's love, I realized then that written word - even in a fiction format - was just as much a vessel for sharing the Lord as standing in a pulpit or serving as a missionary in a distant country. Different, but no less important. It's the gift God gave me and equipped me for, and I'm so humbled to see how He's using it to reach others.

Thank you, Diane, for the interview. To read more, check out or

Consider ordering or downloading Blue Christmas and be sure to let me know what you think. It is not too late to enjoy a fun holiday read!

What was your favorite band growing up?

*This was not a review book, I purchased the book myself. The links are affiliate links.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Fall into Reading Challenge Closing Post

The Fall into Reading challenge is now over.  Running from September 23RD – December 21ST, I did as much reading as I could.  Here is a review of my goals and what I ended up reading

MY GOALS were as follows:
1. Finish the
seven books that were listed.
2. Finish at least five more books.
Total: Read 12 books or four each month.

This is how it went down....

1. Of the seven books listed, I finished five of them.

The books that I finished…
The books that I have yet to finish…
2. I ended up finishing 11 books, although the last one was a very short book and seven of them were fiction which always moves along fast.

1. My Foolish Heart by Susan May Warren
2. From Time and All Eternity by Allison Pittman
3. Forsaking All Others by Allison Pittman
4. Breathing In, Breathing Out: Keeping a Writer’s Notebook by Ralph Fletcher
5. So Long, Insecurity: You’ve Been a Bad Friend to Us by Beth Moore
6. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
7. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
8. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
9. My So-Called Life as a Proverbs 31 Wife by Sara Horn
10. Blue Christmas by Diane Moody
11. What Matters Most: When No is Better Than Yes by Doug Fields

I ended up finishing 16 books all together.

So, did you accomplish your reading goals?  What have you been reading?

12 Questions About Reading {FIR 2011}

The Fall Into Reading Challenge posted questions about reading each week which I meant to answer.  Now that they are finished, I thought I might try my hand at a few quick answers.  Why not join me and write a post with your answers or pick your favorites and answer them in the comments here and on the FIR original posts.

#12 - Christmas is quickly approaching. What book- or reading-related gift would you love to receive for Christmas?
I really would like a wide margin, single column ESV Bible. Crossway had one coming out in January that looks good.  I have been considering joining in on Informing the Reforming’s 3650 reading challenge and would like to start it out with a new copy to underline and fill with notes.  I am not sure if I can keep up with the reading load, but it sure sounds like an insightful way to read scripture!

#11 - Share a special memory relating to books or reading — something you’ll never forget.
I loved reading the Bobbsey Twin books and Dandelion Cottage as a child. They were my mothers and housed in the comfortable, loft hallway of my grandparents home.  I used to borrow one or two from my Nana each time we would visit. When I would bring them back, I could borrow more.

#10 - In what ways do you encourage others to read or support their reading habits? How do you share your love of reading with others?
I hope this blog helps encourage others to read more. In real life, I often pass my books around as well as borrow from others. I also talk about books that I am reading, esp. if I feel strongly about them.

#9 - What else do you do while you are reading? Eat? Drink? Household tasks? Or do you usually put aside absolutely everything to focus solely on the book at hand?
I will often drink something while reading.  Sometimes I join my family while they watch TV and I read instead. In the US, I used to listen to books while driving or cleaning. Also, while my kids work on homeschooling materials, I may read for a few minutes here and there as I can.

#8 - Where do you love to read? Do you have a favorite chair, a favorite room, a favorite place…somewhere that inspires you to put everything else aside and pick up a book?
Anywhere.  My favorite place would be laying on my bed, sitting on the couch, or at an amazing coffee shop. If that coffee shop is in a bookstore, bonus!

#7 - Is there a book that has had a tremendous impact on your life? One that made you look at life in a whole new way, or caused you to completely change something in your life?
The Bible would be the obvious one. It has changed my life and continues to work on and guide me.

#6 - When it comes to fiction, are you more of a “plot person” or a “character person”? If you had to choose, which concept would win out when it comes to picking and loving a book: plot or character?
I think it would be plot.  I need a decent story line to keep me plugging along.

#5 - Do you skim? Or are you faithful to read every word?
This depends on the book.  If a fiction book is not well written or has a flimsy story, I will skim. Also, if the author tends to repeat what was already said or if I am not that interested in the topic, I may speed read to get the basic idea.

#4 - How large is your personal/family collection of books? And where do you keep them?
We have tons of books here in Bolivia and stored in Florida and Kentucky. I also have many on the Kindle that I have picked up free. So, my answer is a lot!

#3 - On what devices, if any, do you read books? Or are you strictly a “physical book” reader?
I’m a Kindle girl, but I still like paper books too.

#2 - How often do you re-read books? What does it take to make you re-read?
There are only a handful of books that I have reread.  I am not sure what it takes to make me re-read.  If I found the story inviting and interesting (like The Hunger Games & Anne of Green Gables)  OR if I found myself learning things that I want to remember or revisit (like The Practice of the Presence of God or The Praying Life.)

#1 - How much do book reviews influence your decision to acquire and/or read a book?
I almost always read positive and negative reviews of books before I decide if I want to read something. Certainly, there are the times that I just read one that I picked up or was given. This can be risky as I have read a few books that I have regretted that way (like Prep).

The links in this post that take you to Amazon or Westminster Bookstore are affiliate links.