Thursday, June 23, 2016

Mom Enough

10 years ago if you had asked me how I felt about mother hood, I would have said it was a goal secondary to pursuing my career. “I could never be a stay-at-home-mom…I’d go crazy.”  Who knew that the moment I held my first little baby after a long, exhausting, and painful day of labor, my heart shattered into a million tiny pieces and then reassembled in a manner more complicated and beautiful than ever before?  In that moment, my life changed dramatically.  My husband and I fell in love with this tiny creature who immediately wrapped her tiny fingers around my finger…and my heart.  Then…the mommy wars started pressuring me…
How could you possibly go back to work?  Did you breastfeed for over a year?  You should try baby wearing…how could you put your baby in a stroller?  Do this, not this.   The judgment and pressure from society can be simply overwhelming and can suck some of the joy out of motherhood. 

This book is a delightful collaborative effort among 7 mothers to provide women with a godly view of motherhood.  So are you "mom enough?"  The answer to this question according to this book is a resounding NO.  No...you are not mom enough on your own, but God is infinitely more than you could imagine.  Together with God, you are mom enough.

"And somehow, in God’s mathematics of grace: Mom (never enough) + God (infinitely enough) = Mom enough"

The book is formatted in easy to read, short, digestible chapters.  It reads much like a collaborative blog.  Each woman brings her own unique perspective and insight.  It starts out with a chapter on “Motherhood is a Calling.”  Our culture is afraid of servitude, afraid of living a life of sacrifice for another, and afraid that you won’t be able to accomplish your life goals if you are a mother.  As a Christian mother, our calling is more than a call to a life of resentful drudgery, but instead a way to model Jesus’ sacrificial love to our children and to the world through motherhood.  Jesus loves the little children. 

The rest of the book covers a variety of subjects from motherhood as a mission, maintaining an eternal view, trusting God with your children, prayer, letting go of society’s impossible standards, embracing love, ending the Mommy Wars, practicing Grace, and an treasure box of other topics.  It is the perfect combination of conviction and grace.   I highly recommend it to any Christian mother, and it would make a great baby shower gift.



Did I mention you can read it for free?   You can download the entire book at


Sunday, February 28, 2016

David and Goliath - Malcom Gladwell

Hello my friends!  Reading moved to a back burner as I learned over the last year how to be a mother to both a teenager and a toddler.  Although I'm still working on that, I've found time and energy to read again.  This year, I want to read about 1 non-fiction book a month.  David and Goliath by Malcom Gladwell was the first.

In his book, Gladwell outlines tales of the underdog and challenges the reader to view being the underdog...as not always undesirable!  There are advantages to being the underdog.   He discusses examples of people rising from the loss of parents, dyslexia, mediocre colleges, persecution, and political oppression.  He uses a series of stories to outline his points.  While not a scientific work, the stories are challenging to a typical worldview.  Small is not always weak.  Large is not always strong.

My favorite part of the book was the portion that described stories from famous and less famous black civil rights activists.  We played this portion out loud to my teenage son, and it struck his interest as well.   "Are these people real?"  Wyatt Walker was described in the book the Brer Rabbit of civil rights.  He staged protests and riots with hopes of tricking authorities into arresting and causing a national scene to draw attention to racism and inequality.   His strategies were very carefully thought out and enacted. In all ways he was an underdog, but he used that to his advantage. 

Overall this was a fun read - full of anecdotes of unlikely successes.  It will change how you view "the underdog."



Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Praying Life - by Paul E. Miller

As I go to sleep, I've been reading this book to help me unwind and refocus.  This book is different from other books on prayer that I've read.  It's real. It's honest.  It's gritty.  It's practical.  Miller identifies common barriers to an effective prayer life including a tiny attention span, distractions, and feeling like you are too far disconnected from God to pray.   He explains what a child-like faith in prayer actually means in real life.  Miller uses anecdotes from his personal life to communicate practical tips on prayer.  My favorite part of the book was his explanation on prayer cards.  After reading about the first mention of these cards, I promptly skipped ahead to the chapter describing them and made prayer cards for my family, church, and country.  Finally...a way to pray that fits my scattered, tired thoughts in between late night diaper changes and feedings!  This is a great book for anyone (ie...every Christian) who struggles with prayer.   I highly recommend it.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Fostering Love by John DeGarmo


This is a great little book that follows the early fostering career of the author.  What I love about this book is the author's heart.  It's clear that he loves the children and does his best for them.  The book gives great insight into what it's like to be foster parent: the challenges, the bureaucracy, and the joy of helping children.   It's hard and heart-breaking work, but so worthwhile.  I was inspired by the authors prayers for the children. As a foster parent myself, the struggles were all too familiar.  This is a great read for anyone considering becoming a foster parent.  I have 2 points of criticism.  The first is foster parents should be actively working toward reunification.  This is difficult, and this author did portray that struggle.  However, I think he was a little harsh on biological family (and he admits it in the book).  *SPOILER ALERT* (highlight to see text) Secondly, I was brokenhearted when they sent the older child back.  I realize that you must protect your family and foster children, but it was hard to see this adoption fail.  *END SPOILER ALERT*

Friday, February 13, 2015

Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn (4th Edition): The Complete Guide - Penny Simkin


While I was expecting my little MM, I read Penny Simkin's Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide.  It was by far my favorite pregnancy book.   I bought it at first in Nook format, but quickly decided I wanted the paper version.  The diagrams and charts didn't show up well in digital format.  


This book is a great overview of pregnancy, childbirth, and the newborn - just as you would expect from the title.   This book begins with information on interviewing doctors, evaluating hospitals, and choosing a doula.   I printed many of the handouts on http://www.pcnguide.com/  to help me with this process. 

The sections on pregnancy and fetal development were not as detailed as other books.  I supplemented with reading from other books and pregnancy aps on my iphone.  This book doesn't have a weekly summary of fetal changes, but instead features a more of an overview of developments each trimester.  I found the exercises and stretches useful.


The real value of this book lies in the labor and delivery section.   Admittedly, it is a little biased toward natural delivery, but does include information on interventions.   I was considering a natural birth when reading this book, but I was also open to intervention if I got in over my head.  I printed the chart of coping techniques featured in this book, studied them, and included them in the documents I brought to the hospital.  This book was also very helpful in writing my birth plan and featured a few examples of plans (from mothers with different goals).   I used many of the strategies in this book to have the natural, in-hospital birth I wanted.   Luckily for me, I had a normal, uncomplicated labor.  Even if it had gone differently, this book gave an overview of interventions: why they might be recommended, what happens, and potential side effects.  


Overall, I highly recommend this book especially if you are considering a natural birth or if you want a different view than the typical hospital birthing class.  I just passed mine off to an expectant friend, and I hope she finds it as helpful as I did.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Orphan Justice - Johnny Carr, Laura Captari

Orphan Justice

As I sat peering out the window on an airplane flying over Dallas, I looked down at the bustling city and thought about just how many people live there.

Population of Dallas, Texas: 1.24 million people.  

Number of orphans in the world:  132 million children who have lost 1 or both of their parents.  18 million who are double-orphaned (both parents lost).

 Not all of those children need adoptive homes, but almost all of the FAMILIES and communities those children live in could use some sort of help...even if it's just someone to care and pray for them.

Every chapter starts with addressing an issue and includes facts and statistics, and ends with a list of how people can help.   While everyone can't adopt a child, this book gives tasks that ANYONE CAN DO!  Each chapter ends with how everyone can help, some can help, and few can help.

This books takes a look at a number of subjects related to orphans including...
  • HIV/AIDs epidemic - How does this affect children worldwide?
  • Orphanages - How orphanages fail children...and why the family is a better place to raise children.  The book acknowledges that orphanages are not evil, but they just aren't the best place for children to grow up.
  • Poverty- This chapter changed the way I view government aid like WIC, welfare, and medicaid.
  • Foster care - As a foster mom, I cried like a baby during this chapter.  Most people in this country don't realize there are foster children in almost every city.  So many children are in the foster-care system, there is a great need for loving, Christ-following families to take these children into their homes.  Some of these kids simply long for a place to safely live...a warm bed to sleep in...a quiet corner to read a book...a FAMILY TO LOVE THEM.  You really don't have to be a perfect parent or have a perfect home to make a difference in a foster child's life.
  • Racism, abortion, and the call of the church to care for orphans.

My Favorite Part:

This book is a quick and dirty call to action.  It challenges us to make a difference in the lives of orphans and at-risk children.  The application section of each chapter gives ways that ANYONE can help.   For example in the foster care section:
  • ANYONE - find a foster family in your church or community and ask how you can help them.  Maybe just bring them a meal one day.  
  • MANY - You might consider doing respite care for a foster family.
  • FEW- Become a foster family.  (see my other blog about what this looks like).

Summary:
This book is a challenging glimpse into the plight of orphans worldwide, and a call-to-action for Christians to step up to the plate.


At the time I wrote this post, Barnes & Noble and Amazon had this book for sale (digital editions) for just $2.99.   It's worth it! 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The How of Happiness - Foreword



The How of Happiness; A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want by Sonja Lyubomirsky

I’ve decided to blog about this book a little differently than previous books and blog as I read.  We could all use a little more happiness in our lives.  It’s one of the most common pursuits of mankind.  But what is happiness?  How does one go about increasing her level of happiness?  Why are some people happier than others in a similar situation.   As a scientist, I am fascinated by the concept of this book as a scientific, research based look at happiness.  While I consider myself a very happy person (most of the time), I want to be a positive influence on those around me.  Maybe in this book I’ll find some insights into happiness and how I can make the world around me a better place.     According to the Foreword of this book, 40% of your happiness is in your hands.  How fascinating!  She goes on to discuss why she believes empirical research is important for understanding happiness and implementing strategies to increase happiness.  I can’t wait to really delve into this book as I believe it will challenge my thinking and compel me to examine my own thoughts.  Look forward to more installments as I read through the chapters of this book!