Read and Grow.

Photo credit.

It’s happening again. And I’m so utterly excited and thankful. Life has presented me with a challenge, and God has birthed in my heart a craving to grow.

The desire and motivation are a gift. I didn’t design it nor can I contain it.

This happened once before, a little over 7 years ago. I wrote about my desire to change, to fix a character flaw. It was truly the beginning of my blogging journey as well. I had no idea that writing my way through that year would serve to fundamentally define me as a writer.

Isn’t that just the way God works? Those mysterious ways that come upon us, altering us in areas beyond imagination.

Last year, I tried to manufacture my growth by setting up a reading challenge full of deep and delightful titles. But even while creating the list, I could feel my own distance – reluctance that I ignored because I wanted to teach myself a lesson in discipline. I was tricked by my own success with growing productively into believing that I could force growth in any area. I didn’t honor my limits, I wasn’t being gracious with my weakness, I over estimated my strengths.

I was sick of being held back. I thought pushing through, trying harder, and thinking big would free me from my own struggle with my brain.  

Dealing with my ADD brain can be tricky. Sometimes I do need to “sit myself down” and “obey the list.” I’m learning that I can only make progress through this type of firmness in the area of productivity not the area of contemplation. I need to budget my energy to fuel these two parts of my mind (there’s a post brewing on this topic…). I’m realizing again that God gave me this brain with all of it’s limits and talents for His purposes to be used in His timing. 

So, I’m excited for this year and the growth I can see up ahead, but I’m not ashamed of last year’s “failure” because I recognized an important, personal limitation and learned to respect it. More on this later.

For now, I can see that the challenge in my life is CHANGE. There is change all around me. My kids are all coming out of a coasting season. Their interests, competencies, and complexities are on the rise. Taking just this area of change into view, I see that I will have to change in order to rise to the occasion of being the kind of mother I want to be for my loves.

Questions: How can I rise to the occasion on my own? What strength or talent do I possess that will allow for personal growth? Can I contain or conjure up a motive that will sustain growth over a long period of time?

Answers: I can’t. Nothing. No.

What gives? Why am I excited if I can’t do this on my own? Exactly because the desire, strength, motive aren’t coming from my decision, I can trust that I won’t have to worry about controlling or maintaining them.

It’s like the “Field of Dreams.” I feel like the Lord is showing me how much great change is ahead of me, and all I have to do is pick up the book and read. He will grow me from the inside.

And He already has. Since the beginning of 2017, I’ve been reading. I’ll do my best to share the most of what I gain from the titles this year. And I’ll keep the list here as a reference.

Books read in 2017 (I’ll link the ones I review):

  • BFG by Roald Dahl*
  • Gifted: Raising Children Intentionally by Chris Davis
  • Boundaries with Kids by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend
  • Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
  • Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier
  • Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook by Pearl & Serene
  • Simply Tuesday by Emily Freeman
  • The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
  • Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe by Sally Clarkson and Sarah Mae
  • Managers of Their Homes by Steven and Teri Maxwell
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • The Unveiled Wife by Jennifer Smith
  • Currently reading: The Life Giving Home by Sarah & Sally Clarkson, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Marc Weissbluth, Gameplan by Sarah Harnisch 

Are you interested in following me in this process of change through reading? I’m ready to really GROW. Let me know in the comments what books you’re reading and what you recommend! Who doesn’t want to GROW their TBR list even more? 😉

Here’s my Amazon list for easy reference. If you make a purchase, Amazon thanks me at no cost to you.

* Audio book

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October: Things Liked & Learned

October Things Liked & Learned 1

It feels right to wrap up my months intentionally with a post like this. I have to consciously fight the anxiety that sees the end of the month and gets all wobbly that time is flying by, Oh no! But time isn’t just flying by, I’m recording it. I’m intentionally staying in the present. It’s a gift.

I savored September, I mentally assented with each sunny, warm yet fall day that it is indeed my favorite month of the year. So, October felt a little bashful coming in, if I may say so. How do you follow a favorite? With humble beauty; that’s October.

So, let me get on with the list! Here are the things that I’m into (Leigh Kramer style) and the things that I learned (Emily P. Freeman style):

  1. Instagram:
    Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 7.08.37 AM

    Of course I love Instagram for the simplicity of scrolling through the beauty of everyday life. I love seeing the real life moments, the funny, the sacred, and the simple. But I just realized that I’m starting to use it as a visual reference tool too. I’m recording things or taking note of what others are recording. Like this book that OurPurposeFilledDays posted 3 weeks ago. Which leads me into the next two things on my list.
  2. My brain:
    October Things Liked & Learned 3
    I’m learning so much about my brain right now. I started writing about it originally for this very post. I learned and have accepted the backwards way that I like to read articles. I start in the middle and then either work my way back up or down. Reading this way isn’t logical, but it’s the way my brain works. I fought it for years, but now I’m embracing it and finding so much mental freedom – it’s crazy. I’m reading a lot of articles about adult ADD and books on the brain by Michael Durian. Post series explaining more of this coming soon.
  3. Classical and Charlotte Mason Education:
    I’m dipping my toe in the Classical waters. I don’t know at this point what will come of it, but I’m really into figuring it all out. I’m hoping to read Consider This and The Well Educated Mind (for my further education; latest edition available November 16th) and The Well Trained Mind (this intimidating book has within it the roadmap for designing an at home Classical Education without being a curricula package in itself. I like that. I like Susan Wise Bauer. But if anyone has read it and wants to provide me with the cliff notes – I’ll buy you coffee. Let’s hang out.)
  4. Siri:
    Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 7.06.54 AM

    I have a love hate relationship with Siri. When she’s on, she helps me do all-the-things, but when she is off (by that I mean she can’t complete the task I requested or she pulls up the wrong result or her results disappear before I get to read the whole thing) it can be frustrating. I have been using Siri to send emails and texts, to set reminders (with due dates), and to set timers. The kids and I have used Siri to look up information right in the moment, like while reading Christopher Columbus the other day – we wanted to know what a “poop deck” was and where it was located on a ship. The first answer was the correct one – describing the parts of a ship, etc. But when I didn’t finish reading the whole result and the screen when black, I kindly called Siri back to action and said, “Could you show me the information that you just pulled up with the images of the poop deck?” To which Siri replied, “That’s not nice.” My kids still get a good laugh recalling that Siri funny moment. I was against using Siri for so long that I finally feel like I’m learning how to use it well without losing my mind.
  5. My Fitness Pal:
    Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 7.06.07 AM

    This free app has helped me to simply consider what I’m eating, and it’s a relatively later October thing that I’m into. The first half of October was spent feeling sluggish. The foods I was eating contributed to this feeling, or maybe the foods I wasn’t eating and lacking feeling was nagging me. So, I started by consciously choosing to eat a salad for my whole meal. Since I’m currently not doing any diet programs or Whole30s, I wasn’t concerned about weight loss and therefore I wasn’t as conscious to eat enough vegetables. Shame. I know. But I wanted to start feeling better and I want to be intentional, so enter the free app! I love the simple features that allow me to search for popular foods – it even finds brands and restaurants which takes the guess work out of determining how many calories was that? It also has a barcode scanner which uses the camera on the phone to scan the barcode and then it enters all the nutrition information from the package into the daily log. It’s easy to use and it’s helped me feel so much better. I know how to balance my diet, but I’m just needy when it comes to accountability.
  6. Nature walks and decor:
    October Things Liked & Learned 4
    One night per week my husband takes my older children to Bible study and I get to enjoy a “date night” with my youngest child. Early in October, on one of these nights, we went for a walk around our property. He jumped into the wagon and I pulled him as we explored. I found little, round pine cones on some of our pine trees and decided to add them to the window sill by the window in my kitchen. I didn’t realize what I was doing at the time – because I don’t have a decoration bone in my body – but I designed my own little fall piece of heaven. And I learned that I love being in touch with the seasons by having a taste of it right within sight for when I’m washing the 80th pan or preparing pasta on a Tuesday night – I raise my eyes above the sink and see these small treasures reminding me to stay in the moment, to stay in this season, and to be thankful for the little beauty that is all around me.
  7. Pumpkin spice, decaf soy lattes (which always prompts My Fitness Pal to remind me that my goal is to stay under 60 grams of sugar per day). But, oh my, yum. Thank you, October.
  8. Building a Uniform:
    I learned that I need to get dressed. I know, this is a wild discovery. But it’s true. I had to process through what I wear, why I wear it, and how to manage being productive and efficient in the clothes I choose. The uniform takes the decision-making out of the daily routine. It helps me save my mental space for managing #10 on this list.
  9. My people all-matchy-matchy:

    Seriously. How cute is a toddler in a tie?

    Seriously. How cute is a toddler in a tie?

    I’m into seeing my people in matching clothes. We had extended family pictures taken and this was the first time in our little family’s history where I went out and bought all new clothes for us to wear. I can see why so many people like to do this a lot. It was a lot of fun. 

  10. Picking my battles:
    The tiniest person in our house has the ability to completely take over the home with his passionate personality and wild sense of what should be thrown and destroyed (see picture above of his bran-cereal-on-couch experiment). That has been fun for him only. I’m learning that I can’t choose all the battles with him right now. It’s picking up after himself or potty training. It’s obeying the command to stop in the middle of a crazy outburst or eat all of your supper. 
  11. Kids doing/learning chores:
    At the most recent LIFE meeting for homeschool moms in my area, we talked about chores. I walked away with a better appreciation for why I train my kids to do chores. My towels aren’t folded nicely (in the picture above), but they were done by a child. For now, I’m thankful for the process not the perfection.

Also, for October the kids were screen-free. Our regular fasts from all media always teach me so much, and I’m thankful for the rhythm of fasting. The reset, rest, and redirection of our attentions. We appreciated an amazing audio presentation. Rocked my socks off. 

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