merry christmas, every one

Praise God from whom all blessings flow 


Praise Him all creatures, here below! 


Praise Him above, ye heavenly host! 


Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! 


Not to us, O LORD, not to us – but to YOUR NAME we give GLORY, for the sake of Your steadfast love + Your faithfulness. 

O God we bend our knees, we bend our hearts, we bow our heads, we bow our worship before the Newborn King, come to us, the Gift of all gifts, and we praise the Savior and King, Jesus Christ our Lord. Glory Glory Glory to the Newborn King! Glory Glory Glory to the Savior of the World! Glory Glory Glory to Immanuel, God with us! Glory Glory Glory to Christ, who IS LIFE.

Friends and family, we wish you the merriest Christmas, we pray that you grow in the love and knowledge of Jesus Christ, and are filled with the fullness of Him, – filled to the very brim of your soul, even overflowing, – who fills all in all, so that you too with us can sing, Praise God from whom all blessings flow, from now and into all eternity.


christmas . home

A few years ago, I walked around my house and took quick photos of each room to show to a friend who had moved far away. We both loved taking care of our home and particularly loved decorating them for Christmas – she would often decorate the day after Halloween! – and even though we couldn’t stop by each other’s homes, it was fun to share our festive spaces with each other through our ever-open text conversation.

I realized it was fun for me to see the progress we had made around our new home – to see that yes indeed we had painted the room I wanted to paint, and, oh!, what good-looking new bedding after feeling like we might just keep whatever we had before we got it. These quick photos acted as a reminder and even memorial stones for all the Lord had done in and through our little home. So, I since that time a few years ago, I have excitedly anticipated the day in December that I would walk around and snap photographs of each room in my home.

This year we spent more time and money and effort on the outside of our home – we got a new roof! and Tyler built a tree house – it’s so cool and I cannot wait to show you soon! But even at that, especially with having Haddon in our home, there have been so many changes – even changes that aren’t documented, because as you might know, things change so quickly with a baby in their first year. First it was his little baby swing, then the play floor mat, then an exersaucer, and now it’s a fun space ship tent that takes up the living room’s corner. (And that’s only one little space that’s happily affected by Haddon!)

I at least remember – if it wasn’t the case, oh well! – that there would be this one magical day when each room in my home would be clean at the same time and the weather would be sunny, with sunbeams streaming into my sparkling clean home, and that was the glorious day I would take the pictures.

However this year that magical day did not come to pass (well, at least it hasn’t yet, and I don’t think it’s gonna, girlfriend!). But so many magical in many other ways days have come along and they are filled with spread-out legos, strewn around toys, piled up dishes, folded laundry, construction paper and crayons everywhere, pirate hats and firemen costumes by the back door, and a stack of books by the couch.

I’ll take it! These are the magical days and they are not exactly sparkling clean but they are exactly sparkling.

SO without further ado, here is my home this year, this Christmas time, and I am so glad to share these photos with you, friend.

I stuck this little cute guy (the flocked tree) right on top of all of Tyler’s books that decorate his desk, which is conveniently located in our foyer – welcome home! 
This pinboard, a gift from a friend that I have totally appreciated, has been full all year of the boys’ church and school crafts, with Christmastime being no exception. I proudly hang their crafts, and then I privately decide which ones to keep and which ones… not to 😉 
Ok, so admittedly not very Christmasy, but this is the view you get when you come into our home from the side door – and these are the $12/each chairs the Lord gave us before we got married, and we are still rocking them! 
Our stocking are hung by the chimney with care…
I have had this tiny nativity since I was a young girl, and I might have (stolen) it from my mom when we got married… Did you give it to me, mom?
Our Tree!! This year we decorated with white lights, colored ornaments, and a new tree topper from Target’s Hearth and Hand with Magnolia – Thanks Chip and Joanna! I love this galvanized Moravian star! 
Every morning I light the candle and softly play Christmas music. We enjoy both during breakfast and throughout the day. 
Mom got me a new advent candle holder that I planned to wrap in fresh greenery… well as you can see that didn’t happen! But I did put those clipping that precious dish, which was a gift from Tyler’s grandmother to us that she received when she got married – it’s one of the two valuable things in our home and I naively place it in the middle of our kitchen table! 😉 – and those oranges… well, after reading An Orange for Frankie, we just had to have some on our table. 
These lights are from my sister’s wedding a few years ago, and they have happily decorated my dresser all month long. I think they might stay out through the wintertime. 
A Christmas gift from my mother-in-law last year, I got to set out this sweet nativity for the first time. Whenever Haddon is in our room, he points to the sheep, so we Baa! like one 😉 and it’s not only sweet and decorative, but also funny! which is fun fun fun.
Both Tyler and I are reading this gem of a book for Christmas. 
I bought the snowman Christmas felt garland the day after Christmas the Christmas before Tyler and I got married (tracking?) and I never thought that it would hang in our children’s room – how “more than I could have asked for or imagined” is that!? 

Merry Christmas from our home to yours!

life-giving home . how to host your own

What started as a “How can I do this?” has turned into a “We can do this in so many ways!” for me, and I want to share with you a few ways you can host your own Life-Giving Home experience.

—> After I read Life Giving Home last spring, I had an aha! moment. The women’s ministry at our church wanted to revive our book club, desired decentralized small groups, and prayed to connect organically the seasoned and younger women at our church. I thought – this book would be perfect!

So with the pastor’s wife and the women’s ministry coordinator we worked out my dream. Through our life classes and the church worship folder we advertised and personally invited all of the church women to sign up for this experience. It was something like we had never done before, so plenty of people had plenty of questions. And once we began to answer them, everyone wanted to be apart of it!

We began in January … we met at the pastor’s wife’s house for a big ole lasagna supper over happy conversation and meeting the ladies who would be our small group throughout the year.

When the ladies signed up, the trio-team got together and prayerfully divided the women into small groups. We tried to have a couple of seasoned women and a few younger girls. These ladies were put together at the January supper, and then went from there – with introductions, discussing when would work best for them to meet next month, and all around chatting excitedly about the new endeavor.

Now, each small groups meets once a month when they want to and where they choose. The month’s chapter serves as a springboard for discussion.

This idea created Titus 2 – style small groups. It’s neat to be able to have a collection of ages, experience, and life stage. Everyone can open their homes so their friends can peek inside. (It’s such a treasure to see how other people live!)

That’s just one of the ways.

I wanted to host a book club with friends and neighbors, and just all of the girls who had taken interest in the Life Giving Home book, but I only saw all of the obstacles. Tyler said “utilize Facebook Live!” I’m so glad I said YES! It’s turned into a fun way to connect with family, friends, and people I am just getting to know, over a great topic – God’s vision of home + homemaking. You can join our Life Giving Home Facebook group here. Invite friends who live in another state to join you for our Facebook Live event — it will be their event, too!

Share the book with a small group of neighbors or friends. Y’all could go on a walk or chat about the book while the kids play.

Another good idea —> Host a “soup and a story” supper in your home and invite neighbors to come enjoy soup together and share their story of how they purchased their home, memories they’ve made, and what their dreams are for the future. Then you can see if there’s interest to continue to get together and use the book as a conversation starter for your get togethers.

Open your heart and open your home! Engage whatever the Lord shows you as you enjoy our book this year.




life giving home . end of summer break

Hi friends!

I just posted a facebookLIVE to end my own sweet summer break. It’s a quick just over ten-minute video that I invite you to watch.

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I mention a few resources that I want to share with you … 

The first one is a beautiful picture book for both children and their parents called Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn

goodbye summer, hello autumn
The hardcover version of this book is $7.49 on amazon right now – pretty great price! for such a good book!

Ok the next resource I shared with you is Sally Clarkson’s upcoming book, Life Giving Table:Nurturing Faith through Feasting, One Meal at a Time (you can pre-order it on Amazon for $10.99 right now) What a great read to ready your heart for the upcoming holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas?!

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Third, I mentioned Magnolia Journal – Fall 2017, which is wonderful, and after have receiving the entire year, I completely recommend the annual subscription. In this edition, the theme is gratefulness and one of the articles outlines how to host friends and enjoy table-time together. How great is that!?

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So already you can tell I love a good read – whether a children’s book, a book for me, or a magazine.

If you haven’t grabbed the study guide that partners with Sally’s book, here is a link for that – I have found reading through this and at least thinking about the questions is really helpful for me to take in the information and actually apply it to where I am in life.

…Will we take time to “taste and see that the Lord is good?” …

Heroism blossoms from roots of humility… and this book convicted me to be brave right where I am.


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This worth-it read encouraged me to hunker down, be humble, and be home.
IF you can go to Houston, GO! and I (almost) KNOW you can give – and this is one of the many good ways to give – click here for the full link 

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Ok so we are rolling and you are enjoying the video I made to end our summer break, to get back into our book, and to continue on to the finish line with this book, with living intentionally in your space, with the people God has graced you with – whether that be a college dorm room with some room mate and hall mates or whether you live in a sprawling home by the sea (what my dreams this side of heaven are made of… 😉 … we can live seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and let Him take care of the rest.

I talk about our home’s birthday season, and how we want to celebrate Mount Family Day in March, which is our wedding anniversary month and the Month that the Mount family began… almost eleven years ago! Woohoo! There are a few blog posts throughout this blog about birthdays and about our anniversary that I invite you to read as you have time.

All of the mentioned resources are to serve you and to help you. They are not to overwhelm you or to pressure you into something that isn’t for you in this season. Again, we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and by the Power of His Spirit and under the holy authority of His all sufficient Word, we seek HIM and we let in whatever the Lord would have for us and we don’t engage what the Lord wouldn’t have for us. This is freedom that the Lord gifts us with and by His grace and for His glory we go for it, girlfriend!

For the last resource, I mentioned how Ann Voskamp’s recent post, which has come out of a crisis time for her, and she, a heroine, is responding in the gospel and sharing it with us, praise the Lord.

Here is a link to her Instagram account and here is a link to the full blog post.


“Most of this might ever have been at all, so why blithely miss the miracle of it all?”

– Ann Voskamp 

Goodbye, summer – Hello, autumn. We welcome this season seeing His goodness and savoring His glory, with eyes fixed on Him, with hearts resolved by His grace to be grateful. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.



life giving home . august

29 days ago I began whole30. IF you had asked me 62 days ago the likelihood that I would “do whole30” I would have told you, no… probably not… no. And, if you would have asked me about whether or not I listen to podcasts or sermons or really if I listen to anything other than music, I would have told you “I’m not a good listener; I’m not that cool…

well. give it (almost) 30 days, I suppose.

As I shared with you in my last post, on that long (or maybe to you, short) list of books I recently read through, I read one book about Lent. And as I read it I wanted to figure out a way to engage Lent even though clearly I am behind, calendar year – wise. I was sharing about this book and some of its wealth with my sister, Noelle, and sharing with her specifically that I wanted to try to fast in some way but I really did not know how.

I mean, I am a mom of three little boys, I reasoned. How does one fast?!

She offered up whole30. She said, “Rachel, you can do it.”

And honestly I felt like, well golly, if she thinks I can, well, I think I can. Noelle knows me. and she has done whole30 before. And if she can do it, and she thinks I can do it, well, then, I think maybe she is right.

The other person who motivated me toward whole30 is my mom. A lady who doesn’t typically like a salad, she had just finished a whole30-like re-set diet plan with a coach. Seriously – if she can do it – a person who isn’t into lettuce and doesn’t usually cook, well, I can 😀

Challenge accepted 🙋🏼

I borrowed her book and I made a plan.

I was very motivated because my WHY was not to figure out if  gluten bothered me or if I have a hidden allergy to dairy, but to recalibrate.

recalibrate – to make small changes to an instrument so that it measures / works correctly

We have engaged a couple of major transitions in our life this year and I felt the tug of the Holy Spirit to consider my life. Now my life is not just “having babies” but raising little men. My life is not just “we travel” but we are ministers of the gospel.

The heart, the mind, and the body are inextricably connected, and at all levels I desired recalibration.

Sure, we are already a healthy family. And I was not living in any major, known sin. I didn’t know of any – and still don’t – upsettingly primary theological error in my thinking.

But I needed – and still need – some fine tuning.

Not only have we been through transition, but through His Word and Spirit I sense that we are moving into new seasons of life. And I want to be ready.

I pray for an undivided heart that fears His name. I pray that I actually mean it when I pray for His glory and not my own. I want to sing and say and speak and share the gospel in ways that I have been too afraid, too complacent, too disconnected, caught up into too much sin, self, and stupid to do in the past.

So, I needed recalibrating. It’s funny, because in so many of the books I was reading, the word “recalibrate” would show up. It’s a good verb, after all. And it was the Lord speaking to me through every little jot and tittle. The more-funny thing is that about a year and a half ago I went with a friend to a Beth Moore conference and the theme of the time was “Recalibrate.” It was a powerful event and I can vividly remember many of the scenes from the sessions. However, at the time, a little over a year ago, the message did not deeply resonate with me. To the point, I am pretty sure, because I went looking for them and couldn’t find them, that I tossed my notes (which  now I am sad about, and wish I hadn’t done,..).

But the thematic word stuck with me and here I am a year and a half later, in need of a recalibration, and the Lord is giving it to me in His own way, through other means than my saved notes.

OK so I planned and prepared and entered whole30 day one.

Well, days one through the first weekend were pretty rough. I knew to relax, to not plan to do a lot outside of our home, and I knew that I might feel bad. I did, but not too bad. The hard part were  Tyler’s and my own personal misgivings about whole30 at large.

The thing is – though I was, and still am, happy to employ their method to my own end, we don’t agree with their overall philosophy and this makes it tricky waters.

There’s also the fact that I was tired and grouchy, that I was cooking every complicated recipe I could find, and that my boys watched ALOT of TV in those first four days.

Now, you know what kids and the TV look like, but you may be wondering about our misgivings. or maybe not. But I am going to share them anyways.

In short, the program offers a way to get out of food-enslavement into food-freedom. The pages spell out physiological issues that many people face with food and then propose that one uses food to get themselves out of the problem, out of the enslavement. Well, here’s the thing. Some food cannot save you from other food. You are bigger and better than food and your problems run deeper and are much graver than food. You need something outside of yourself – something amazingly bigger and deeper and grander and something far-better than you are. You don’t need food to save you from food. You need Jesus to save you from sin, self, and Satan… sometimes which emanates itself in psychological food issues and even in being overweight, or too thin. You need the spotless Lamb sent from the Good Father, who Created and who Sustains the Universe. You need someone not to give you a good meal, but to die of your dead soul,… and to come back to life. and that Someone you need is Jesus. Not whole30.

It’s not that you need to stop eating donuts and start eating carrots.

It’s that you need to be saved.

And I needed some soul-sanctification and in order to put my face like a flint to the Lord’s, in order to recalibrate before the Lord, I employed the whole30 method to fast.

Because I don’t not need donuts. I do. not. need. idols. I need the one true God to be The One True God in my life.

and that means me owning up to Reality and bowing down to the Real God.

and this time that means fasting. and this time that means with whole30.

So, like I said. the first few days were rough. rough rough rough. But then I stopped cooking complicated dishes that kept my in the kitchen all day, and I found this helpful blog post – The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Whole30. A nursing mom with a little newborn, she offers up her helpful advice. And I thought, thanks for the advice… and from you. Because, if you can do it, maybe I can, too.

I got through the initial system shock of no sugar and praised God because I actually did have more energy. And when I get hungry, it doesn’t show up in the tunnel-visioned sugar crash of the past (a few weeks ago), but a more “normal” feeling that told me ‘you should eat’. I like water. I like apples. I like almond butter. I don’t miss Coke; I don’t miss pasta. I do miss donuts. Honestly. donuts.

And I understand that in Christ there is freedom to enjoy all food. And I understand that food is a gift to be stewarded, to engage temperately typically, and on occasion, special occasions like birthdays and Christmas, with all of the gusto that the Lord says is only a foretaste of heaven itself! Golly I love a birthday – for celebrating a life and for savoring the cake!

The other practical resource that helped me is the timeline that whole30 provides. I referred to this article so many times in the first two weeks. it’s sort of like having a map for the first time you go somewhere. It’s nice to know that the headache and no-energy will pass and whatever comes next is only for a day… and then hopefully smooth sailing. Even knowing that day 21 can be a time of “food boredom” was helpful, and I planned an extra yummy supper that night. Now, on day 29, I have a gritted-teeth mentality to finish. and to finish strong. and then eat a donut!

(I do want to do the re-introduction, and my plan is to eat a donut, go on a bonafide date with my husband, return to whole30 for a few days, and then do a proper re-introduction like the book outlines.)

Two side notes in my experience with whole30.

  1. girlweek was better this month than the last two months of postpartum girl week. seriously, praise the Lord.
  2. because of girlweek falling right on top of when I was supposed to begin to feel ah-mazing! (According to the timeline) I was tired. but not horribly tired and horribly ornery and hoping to hide in a hole until I was all better. … like I had been the last month. And the month before.
  3. Ok one more. this makes three side notes. once girlweek was over, my energy level (is there a scale?)  was super HIGH! I mean not weird. I was not bouncing off the wall. But I have better, and better sustained, energy throughout the day.
  4. For me, weekends were the hardest. I think it’s mental, and I think there’s in me a deeeeeeply ingrained idea that the weekend is for relaxing, and for treats. Self-indulgent treats.  I have a few thoughts on this. One, that food is a gift, meant yes for nutritional benefit, and also to taste and see that the Lord is good – through wine and chocolate and cake and pasta 🙂 – and I think that self indulgence shouldn’t have a place in the life one confessing to live for Christ. Lord, I confess this to You. Help!

There have been a few helpful products that I have loved to eat during whole30.

  • nut pods unsweetened creamer from amazon . this was a game changer as i planned for whole30. i thought i was going to give up coffee altogether for this month. i cannot think about drinking it black. i am too committed to the creaminess of coffee with cream. So nutpods was grace.
  • trader joes almond butter . i eat an apple with almond butter almost every day.
  • la croix sparkling water . maybe this is why i don’t miss coke. it’s not like coke, for sure, but maybe it’s why.
  • peppers and onions in my scrambled eggs. yum.
  • RXBars. bless you who did whole30 pre-RX bars.

The one big con with whole30 = it’s expensive. so expensive.

maybe not compared to the months before when we were getting food out and grabbing starbucks and eating donuts. 🙂 but it feels so expensive when i go to the grocery store. on the other hand, you can argue the cost benefit, and so i get it and i can, too. but seriously. nutpods and whole30 approved bacon will not be part of our day to day post-whole30 lifestyle because… money.

As I am coming to the end of the 30 days, I want to say to the first four rough ones – it was  worth it. Through misgivings and the weekend, and even through the headache and tired-ness, I am so glad I did it.

I am glad because:

… I do before the Lord sense I am beginning to be recalibrated and set up for the next season the Lord has for my family and me. – to be Home. To be Home in Him. To be in His Word. With His people. Raising my sons. Loving my husband!! Shining brightly His life and love in our home, that it may shine far to the ends of the earth.

… I swelled a lot during my pregnancy with Haddon and ever since, my feet have ached when I get out of bed. The ache is GONE! That is practical reason enough. Praise the Lord.

… My sustained energy level is better. I don’t sugar crash if I am not maintaining my strung out sugar addiction. I think I sleep more deeply … (at first, I slept worse. I don’t know why or if it is related. But it’s true. I was like “huh?!”)

… Because since I started I am glad to finish well.

There is a whole host of tiny and big other reasons I am glad, some I’m sure to find out even through August as I engage the reintroduction.

So in a long post but also in a quick photograph of the last (almost) 30 days, there you go.

As to the “listening to podcasts and sermons” in the first words of this lengthy conversation, I am walking (most) mornings. And when my great neighbor friend Emily isn’t walking with me, I listen to a sermon or lecture. Can you believe it?! Me!! – cool enough to listen to a sermon.

Seriously, who would have thought!? #neversaynever #glorytoGod 💕💕💕

life giving home . july . read



y’all know I am a reader. and I love when someone recommends a good book to me. I want to share with you the books I have been recently reading …

(in the order that I have read / am reading them)
  1. the bible. I am not finished; this is a book cannot be finished. After all, it’s the book of books written by the Living God. With our boys before bed, we are reading with our church’s bible reading plan through the entire bible. It has been great. Sometimes it’s tough; sometimes they fall asleep while we are reading… sometimes we have trouble keeping our own eyes opened. But to read… with grace and the glory that it is, is so good. Think the elephant is too big? That’s why the bible reading plan is so helpful – we read “small bites” each night.
  2. Life Giving Home by Sally Clarkson. I am re-reading this book and am in a small group of girls with whom I meet each month; plus, I have created a Facebook group and a get together once a month on Live. (I know I missed June; we will catch up this week, Lord-willing!)
  3. True Spirituality by Francis Shaeffer. This book is a “filet mignon” of books. When I read Francis, I don’t reply; I just listen and soak in all that I can. The Lord spoke through and used mightily this man and for his work I am eternally grateful. You’ve got to get your eyes on these words. If you read them and ask the Lord to help you understand them, you will be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Praise the Lord.
  4. Ok next – These books I sort of read on top of each other, but I will try to have them in the order that I started them. One of the reasons I love to read books in pairs or even trios is because each of them sort of “speak” to the other… it’s like being in a really really good group conversation.
(((book not pictured, because I cannot find it)))—One in a Million by Priscilla Shirer. I read this book with a friend and did not expect to be blown away, but the Lord used it to speak to me particularly about a big transition Tyler and I were making, and still are making, and I am grateful to the Lord for using this book in my life to confirm the transition He called us into. Confirmation is such a comfort.
  1. Somewhere in here I started to read 7 Women by Eric Metaxes. I read it with the same lady who I read “One in a Million” with. Reading spiritual biographies is so. humbling. so convicting. and so inspiring. I want to be brave and feminine and wonderful and diligent and humble like these great woman… who did not have awesome circumstances or stellar husbands, necessarily, or who got sick and dealt with illness all of their life… but they shared Jesus mightily in their context, and were the hands and feet and heart of Jesus to all of those around them.
  2. … not a book. but we also watched the movie, Zoo Keeper’s Wife and BOOM! this movie is a winner! We left the theater asking the Lord, “Who would you want us to help save?” OH Jesus Make Us Brave!!!!!!
  3. Rooted by Banning Leibsher – not pictured, because I cannot find it. 🙂 Right after I finished One in a Million I picked this book up, thinking Banning was some dead german guy. HAH! Come to find out, He’s the pastor of Jesus Culture. again… so funny to me. So, I read it and the Lord spoke clearly to me, again confirming our transition and building me up in Him, rooting me in Him. This book spoke to me in my season of life in so many ways.
  4. Before I finished Rooted, I began The Good of Giving Up. This book is on Lent, so clearly I am a little behind the game. Only last month did I decide on my “word of the year,” which is something else I hope to share on my blog with you soon. #Lordwilling So, this book is a 100% recommend – it will rock your world in the worst way for Jesus and make you taste and see transformation in Christ, by His grace and for His glory. I want to share with you more about that, too, but again… Lord willing.
  5. Ok then as I was reading those two books, I stacked up Alive in Him by Gloria Furman. I read through her book Missional Motherhood this summer too, which is also not pictured, and I have read Word-Filled Women’s Ministry which she helped to write, and after Christianne, my sister, told me more of her story, and after learning that we are walking through Ephesians this Fall in church, I decided to read Alive in Him. I am not finished with this book, but so far, so weighty. and so good. Gloria Furman exemplifies to me so much of what I have read and been inspired towards… she is a living Christian woman who is BRAVE, who is IN CHRIST, and who is the HEART of JESUS to all of those around her. Plus, she is a writer… so YES!
  6. Unhurried Homeschooler. This is a quick read, a good conversation with a seasoned mom and homeschooler who encouraged me to be unhurried. Which honestly I needed help with way before social media and mom-worry, so having her speak to me through her book in a gracious voice was really nice. I purchased it for a friend, and as we talked about it, we agreed not everything advised in the book is for us, and that’s ok. She’s not Jesus. and her Word is not the gospel. But she is gracious, seasoned, and the book was well-worth it. I follow her on IG now 🙂
  7. Humble Roots. Also I am currently reading this book, only through part one. But let me tell you, girlfriend. IF you have read through all of this other descriptive list of good-reads, this is SUCH A GOOD ONE. She starts out and you are like, are you sure you don’t know me!? She is one of us… she is just like me. And she writes the gospel through creation and through scripture with such… humility… that it is healing and soothing and nutritious. My growing roots need this right now, and again, thank you sister-in-Christ for writing. May I be this brave one day, too.
SO that’s it for now, many of these I am through and I have another stack waiting for me. Again, I share this with you because I love when a friend shares with me a good book. Don’t feel weighed down or tipped over by this big pile of books. (Or, please, if you are also an avid reader, don’t scorn me because your pile is bigger.) The point is not the pile, short or tall. The point is …. books are life giving. You meet people, have one of the best conversations you could because they’ve actually written our and edited their thoughts, and go around the world in a way you just cannot do every day… this is only some of what a book does. In each book, a world, and in each page, so many good gifts from the Good Father. His book is the best… if any book you read, it should be His.

life giving home . june

Play. A word that I love but an action that I don’t feel like I’m very good at.

As I read through Sally’s chapter on the month of June I was so inspired. The chapter centered on the theme of play.
She writes, “Ultimately, play is a process that, though most commonly practiced in childhood, can be enacted throughout the entirety of life.” (136)
I wanted to play! I wanted to be good at it! I want my sons to play and to enjoy.
Now, I do think they are pretty good at play. They have big imaginations fuels by good stories and equipped with bins full of costumes.
But today is Monday. And all I see is to-do’s up to my nose and I see my children.
As I fed Haddon his breakfast this morning I asked the Lord how to do it – I asked Him for wisdom.
Here’s how he answered.
I created a game for all 3 of us to engage. I wrote out a name of a room in our house and a time on each strip; one strip read “play room – 5 minutes” and another strip “kitchen- 7 minutes.” There were 8 strips, each with a room and a time limit. I folded the strips and put them in a bowl. On our chalkboard wall I drew a simple progress path checklist. I told the boys that we were going to play a game and that if they won – we have to cooperate! – they could watch a TV show. So, one boy draws a slip of paper. We read it; we take that room to clean. We divide the tasks (Grafton, you pick up the costumes; Leland, you pick up the cars, and I’ll do the rest… 😉 and I set the timer. I also played some fun music!
The object of the game is to clean the room happily in the amount of time on the timer. If we all did that we got a piece of candy (a jelly bean). If they didn’t work happily, no jelly bean.
The timer was mostly to keep this activity a game and keep us moving, instead of me gettting focused on the details and and ending up spending too much time cleaning any one room. When we finished with the room, whoever didn’t chose the slip crossed out the box on the chalkboard wall,  we all ate a piece of candy, and the other boy drew a slip of paper. Throughout the game, we encouraged each other – finish well!! stay strong!! instead of the typical mom-reminder ‘keep doing your job.’
Now candy and TV may not be your kind of motivation, so you do you. But it is ours and I loved the dark chocolate kiss I ate when I was finished with the room. They loved their jelly beans, too!
Thankfully, the game worked! We had fun and the house got clean-er. Every room was touched, and nothing was “perfect” or “pristine” but it was much better. Clothes were hung, beds were made, toys were back in their bins. I even wiped down the bathrooms!
The boys earned their show and while they watched The Magic School Bus and ate a healthy snack to compensate for the sugary treat, I finished my tasks and got dressed.  Win win!
Y’all – the tension of the to do list and play is such a real thing for me. And today by the Lord’s great grace I thought of a creative way to play and work. I didn’t micromanage or lose my cool. Instead we encouraged each other to work well, we moved quickly, and in the end, both boys loved the game. and I got dressed today!
Now I might not be able to use that every time but hey! Today :).
Sally ends the chapter, “Play is not frivolous. Far from it. Having fun and finding pleasure in games, make-believe, and various forms of recreation is beneficial to our brains, our bodies, and our emotional well-being – and thats true for every member of the family, moms and dads included. … June is a perfect time to make play a priority of your family…. You will create memories that will be cherished and remembered at every family gathering – a wonderful legacy of fun, growth, and friendship.” (148)
Before the boys drifted off to sleep at nap time, they both said, “That game was fun.” Praise the Lord.