Reading books with children in the house is a bit like trying to brush your teeth while eating Oreos.
Finding time to read has been a challenge since I took on the title of “Mom”. Where once upon a time I devoured books, now I simply nibble at stories here and there. Bedtime is my favorite time to read, but many days I find myself so exhausted by the time I lay down that my eyes close just minutes after cracking open my book.
In recent months, I’ve made more of an effort to fit reading back into my days. My reasons have been two-fold: First, I just miss reading. I miss getting lost in a book. Second, I want my kids to see me reading.
With the onslaught of social media, and the ever present electronics, I’ve found that motivating my children to read has become increasingly difficult. Too may other things vie for their attention, and reading is a chore. It is one more thing to check off the list so they can have their electronic time.
By sitting down in the middle of the room and reading in front of them, I hope to show my kids that reading is actually an acceptable, and even enjoyable, pastime. If I only read before bed, then they naturally assume that I never read books, either. And if I don’t do it, why should they?
It’s a huge challenge, but the effort has been worth it. I finished three books in January, which isn’t necessarily brag-worthy, but it’s something!
Below, I’m going to leave my review of the most recent book I finished, Everyone Brave is Forgiven. But first, tell me: When do you find time to read? Do you set reading goals for yourself each year, or just see what happens? Do you try to read in front of your kids?
I’m honestly still processing this book, trying to discern how I feel about it.
On one hand, it might be one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. The story in and of itself wasn’t overly impressive or unique, but the language used to tell the story was achingly poetic and rich…most of the time.
Sometimes, I simply didn’t know what the author was saying.
Chris Cleave is undoubtedly an incredibly talented writer. His use of language to describe a scene is awe-inspiring, and there were several times that I found myself rereading a paragraph just to soak in the description again.
“She laughed then, brightly and without complication, and he laughed too, and for a moment the war with its lachrymose smoke was blown away on a bright, clean wind.” (Everyone Brave is Forgiven, pg. 173)
Besides the face that I had to look up “lachrymose” to see what it meant (“tearful”), it was descriptions like this that often gave me goosebumps.
Sometimes, however, the descriptions were so wildly cheeky, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what was being said.
“Rubble to build on caught no one’s attention but theirs. It did not catch the light, having no promise but what the brought with them. He tried not to be afraid. London was a lightening of the sky. It was the bloody last hour of a milk tooth. It was a city dying to begin.” (Everyone Brave is Forgiven, pg. 402)
I think I know what he was saying there, but I had to read that entire page several times before I finally just gave up and moved on.
As for the story itself, it was a sad one, but the war was a sad time, wasn’t it? My American sensibilities are constantly in conflict with the painful reality of history. Happily ever after is a notion that doesn’t fit well into the back drop of World War II, so as stories go, I appreciated the realism, even if I occasionally wish things could turn out differently.
In the end, I would recommend this book to others on the caveat that you may want to keep a dictionary nearby. And understand that this isn’t one of those quick beach reads. This is more a book to be savored, read slowly and digested carefully.
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I am not a curse word kind of girl. I know that there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, some would actually laud that as a good thing, and it is. I’ve told my kids that curse words are really just lazy words. We can always find a better word to describe how we’re feeling without dropping a four letter word.
Unless we can’t.
A few nights ago, Annika woke up at 12:30. I had been asleep for about an hour and a half when she woke, and my sleep was good. It was that heavy, REM-style sleep that makes you feel kind of magical.
I was tired down to my bones, so when she woke up in a full out scream, I leapt from bed, heart racing, and the first word out of my mouth was a lazy, four-letter word. So unlike me, but in the moment I could think of nothing else to say. And after my heart stopped racing, I fed her and got her back to bed only to hear Lee chuckling beside me.
“That was funny,” he laughed in the darkness.
I was too tired to elbow him in the chin.
Knee-jerk reactions tend to bring out the worst in all of us, don’t they? When we’re surprised or frightened or quickly angered, we find ourselves reacting in a way that may be atypical to our normal operating behavior. When I put Annika to bed that night, I planned for her to sleep all night. I didn’t plan on her scooting into the corner of her bed, bumping her head, and waking herself up in a wail.
What do we do when life doesn’t go quite as planned? How do we react? My vocabulary indiscretion is a lighthearted example, but all of us can point to moments in our daily lives that leave us weary, exasperated…perhaps a little loose-tongued?
It’s exhausting being mom. It’s exhausting hearing how exhausting it is being mom, as I right? But the good news is there is Hope. There’s hope for all of us, and that Hope is alive even at one in the morning when the baby won’t stop crying.
That Hope is alive when the children threaten to tear one another’s eyes out. (Well, Hope and the belief that someday they will grow up and maybe be friends again…or at least be tolerable to one another.)
That Hope is alive when the dinner burns, the car breaks down, and the schedules require one person to accomplish the tasks of six.
Even more – Hope is alive when life doesn’t go as you planned. And this…this is the true beauty of Hope.
It’s been two and a half months since we said our final goodbyes to my father-in-law. As the days stretch into weeks, we’ve begun to really gnaw on the permanence of death, and there have been moments when we wished with everything we had that the outcome of his cancer battle had been different.
But then I think of Herb standing at the foot of his Savior, and I remember that if he were asked to return, he wouldn’t want to, and really I wouldn’t ever ask him. Because in that trust I find so much Hope.
There are so many moments in life that make us feel hopeless. The swell of our days rushes over like a tide, and we’re left out of breath, frustrated, and utterly, completely spent.
If you’re bogged down by the mire of your days, feeling hopeless to dig out from under the rush of routine, of anger, of disappointment, of grief, of simply feeling overwhelmed, then I encourage you to pick up the book Hope for the Weary Mom.
There is so much grace and truth sprinkled throughout this book. It’s like a breath of fresh air in a smoky room. Each page is filled with nuggets of wisdom and peace that you can tuck into your heart, saving them for the moments when life gets to be a little too much.
(And maybe these truths will spill out of
your mouths my mouth in times of frustration instead of those pesky four letter words.)
Purchase your copy of Hope for the Weary Mom today and Choose Hope.
Happy weekend, friends!
When Kristen Welch contacted me about being part of the launch team for her new book, Rhinestone Jesus: Saying Yes to God When Sparkly, Safe Faith is No Longer Enough, I knew immediately that I was on board.
I’m fascinated by Kristen’s story. Her story could be my story…and it could also be your story. She’s a normal girl like you and like me. She’s a mess, she’s funny, she doesn’t get life right all the time. Her kids fight, her house gets messy, and her marriage has seen its moments in the valleys.
Her story is our story, and I wanted to know more. Because where Kristen’s story takes a sharp turn is at the very moment that she uttered a tiny word.
Kristen and her family felt a tug to help the struggling young women living in the slums of Kenya. With fear and trepidation, they took steps forward, saying Yes to this dream that seemed impossible, and out of their Yes, The Mercy House was birthed, offering freedom and grace for 12 girls, and 12 babies. The story is miraculous, awe-inspiring, and challenging. Kristen and her family are just like your family and mine. They’re a ordinary family who chose to say yes, and they are doing extraordinary work.
When I began reading Rhinestone Jesus, I worried that it would make me feel inadequate. I feared that maybe I would be more confused, more unsure of what my next step should be.
Instead I was reminded of that which I already knew, but I so quickly forget:
I am the mess, and Christ said Yes to me.
I am prideful, and judgmental. I’m the girl who yells at her kids, who grows idle with her time. I’m the girl who spent a decade wrapped in the ugly talons of an eating disorder, who was freed from that prison, but who can still look in a mirror and find too many faults to list.
I am the girl who will pass on the opportunity to help someone because it’s inconvenient.
I’m the girl with big dreams, who fears she won’t ever have the guts to pursue them.
I’m the girl who wrestles with God, who gets mad at Him, and pours out frustrations over praise far too often.
I’m the girl who struggles with the dichotomy of wanting to give away all we have, and longing to add more earthly treasure to my already hefty mound.
I am that girl, and I am a mess.
But the beauty of receiving Christ, of accepting His Yes of me and all my flaws, is this – Because of Christ:
I am humble and repentant when I fail. I’m quick to ask my children for forgiveness when I yell, and I fight the desire to grow idle with every fiber of my being. I am free from the confines of that eating disorder, and when the lies press down, I have the wisdom of the Spirit to help me fight back.
I look for opportunities to serve, and I long to give freely.
I’m confident that the dreams I have were given to me by God Himself, and I take steps toward them, even if I sometimes feel like I’m walking blind.
When I throw my frustrations at God, He meets me with Grace and Mercy through His Word, every. single. time. He takes my doubts, and He strengthens me in weakness.
I see, and embrace, the blessing that comes from giving, even when the giving is hard.
Because Christ said Yes to me, I am able to say Yes to Him. I could say Yes to adoption, even when it was scary and expensive, and our decision wasn’t fully supported by everyone we knew and loved. And when it all fell apart, I was able to say Yes to disappointment, to knowing God deeper through brokenness.
We were able to say Yes to hosting a child who needed love, to pouring our time and energy into her for a month, and sending her home with a piece of our hearts.
I say Yes every day when I fold my laundry, hug my children, serve my husband, live my life. My Yes isn’t always big – it’s a simple response, because the Big Yes was offered on my behalf with Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.
I write this today to encourage you. We are all broken. We all feel a hot mess, and I want you to know that Christ said Yes to you, for you. You can embrace that and cling to it on the days when you don’t feel like you’re enough.
I also have the privilege to give away TWO of Kristen’s books to two of you.
I cannot recommend this book strongly enough. If I could afford to give one to every single person I know, I would.
To enter for a chance to win one of two copies of Rhinestone Jesus: Saying Yes to God When Sparkly, Safe Faith is No Longer Enough, simply leave a comment. Let me know how God has redeemed you in your mess. Share how you are able to say Yes to Him in return. Tell me anything you want to share – one comment will enter you to win.
The comments will remained open until Thursday, May 1, when Rhinestone Jesus officially releases. You can, however, purchase the book already in pre-release. If you’re anxious to own your own copy of Rhinestone Jesus, you can purchase it at the following places:
Barnes and Noble
This post was long. Sorry – I try not to do that too often. Thanks for sticking with me until the end. I am pleading blessings and grace over all of you as you enter into this weekend. I pray that you feel the power of Christ’s Yes to you, and that you, in return, will know the power of saying Yes to Him.
*The giveaway is now closed. Winners have been notified. Thanks everyone for entering!
Disclaimer: I was given a copy of the book to review, and two copies to give away. All opinions expressed are my own.