35 Days of Favorites

Wow,  seems as though I just did 34 Days of Favorites not that long ago! I guess this year has gone by quickly!

Alright, so here’s the deal, for those of you who weren’t around for all the fun last year:

When I was a little girl, my mom would always make a list of our favorite things, usually food! Since the first year I started this blog, I’ve continued the birthday tradition, and shared a list of my favorite things.

Last year, I decided to see if I could come up with as many favorites as the number of years I was celebrating, and asked my lovely blog readers to share their favorites with me. At the end of it all, I entered the names of everyone who had commented during the series into a draw for a prize. Judging from the number of visits and comments on my blog during that time, it seemed as though people enjoyed it, so we’ll give it another go.

My birthday is on July 11, which seems a really long way off, but in order to post 35 favorites, my calendar tells me I need to start today! (I’m not going to post on weekends.)

Here we go – the first favorite…

I was having trouble deciding what to start with, so I checked to see which favorite was the most popular last year. The winner was…Most-Used Gift!

For this year, I must confess that my most-used gift was…a “stolen” gift! Maybe “borrowed” sounds better…

This last Christmas, Anika was given an iPad, which was quite a big surprise for our family.


Now, there are a ton of awesome things for people of all ages to do on an iPad, and we use it a fair amount for homeschooling. But fairly early on, it became clear that Anika was in need of sharing her iPad, so we had a long talk about it, and labelled it “The Family iPad”.

I did not think we needed an iPad. I had never imagined myself using an iPad. I had most definitely never imagined myself becoming very attached to an iPad.

But it happened.

Oh, my goodness, is that thing ever wonderful!

It puts children in bad moods, so that part is unfortunate, and we’re pretty careful with it, but most of the time, you’ll find our iPad in our kitchen.


I LOVE using it for recipes. Pair an iPad together with Pinterest, and it’s a cook’s dream. The screen gets splattered with food all the time, but other than that, it’s perfect.

So surprising.

And I really love seeing Ben browsing Pinterest on a pink iPad. Well…I guess he’s not technically “browsing” Pinterest. He’s the pancake maker in our household, and so he’s learned how to get around Pinterest to find all our favorite recipes.

There you have it. The shocking, stolen gift, used and loved by someone who doesn’t really like technology very much….I’ve been won over.

But that’s my Most Used gift. If I were to share with you my Most Loved gift from this past year, it would have to be this simple little item from Anika:



Alright, time for some comments. What’s your favorite gift you (or someone close to you!) have received? What do you use and love? Any surprises? Something you were given that you would never have bought for yourself, but when it was given to you, you were hooked?

Aaaand…. today is your last day to leave a comment letting me know what your favorite book is! I’ll announce who won the free copy of Naked Spirituality on Monday!

From My Sister, With Love:)

For my birthday this summer, my sister gave me some devotional books – one by Beth Moore (can’t ever go wrong with her!), and one called The Resolution for Women, which is from the creators of the movie Courageous.

The Resolution for Women

At that point, I hadn’t heard of the author before, and I tend to be a tad wary of books written after a movie. (Usually, it seems to work best to base movies on great books, instead of books on great movies, in my opinion!)

But I was gladly prepared to be wrong, and my sister assured me that The Resolution was a great read. So good, in fact, that she gave me two copies, proving how well she knows and loves me – she wanted me to be able to give away a free copy on my blog!

I wanted to read it before I gave it away, just to know what kind of book we’rere talking about here.

So first of all, I must say, if you haven’t seen the movie Courageous, you should. I’ve seen it once, and I don’t know if I could watch it again. I had a giant lump in my throat for most of the movie, from trying to keep the tears in and not to bawl my head off in public.

Oh, my word. The scene where the father dances without his daughter? I completely lost it.

Start with the movie. I think they did a pretty good job with it.

And then you should definitely read this book, even if you don’t end up winning it on my blog. It’s really, really good. Priscilla Shirer is the author, and she does a fantastic job of going through a list of thirteen different resolutions (similar to the resolutions made by the men in the movie), which cover a wide range of topics, such as  forgiveness, integrity, family, grace, faith, and contentment.

What I appreciate most about this book is Shirer’s willingness to go after what we hold deep down. She writes some hard truths, and it’s been a bit painful to unearth some deep roots in my life, but I like it that she’s not after easy and comfortable.

She’s going after an extreme dedication, because, as she writes…

…I don’t think I’ve ever met a woman of godly, admirable character – one who in my moments of clearest, most serious thinking I longed to pattern my life after – who was not a person of extreme action and resolutions. Those who enjoy the extra measure of God’s blessing and favor, who truly navigate their lives well, are those who discipline themselves in ways that many of us would consider borderline ridiculous. But like David (referring to Psalm 101:2-3), they’ve found it necessary to be as extreme in one direction as the culture has chosen to be in the other.(p.151)

If you are ready to read a book that will take away your excuses for “good enough”, this one is likely to do it!

So, how can you win it?

Well, to get your name entered in the draw, leave a comment about a woman of “godly, admirable character” whom you look up to, and tell me what you most admire about her. How does she inspire you? In what ways is she extreme?

I’ll do the draw on Friday, so you have a few days to think about it! Can’t wait to hear what you come up with!

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait?!

This would be me. With my new camera.

My big day – I’ve been waiting all my life!

When I was younger, my dad would take photography courses, and I would be his assistant as he went around taking pictures for his assignments. It was my job to spray the roses with a water bottle so he could photograph the droplets on the petals.

One of the greatest family activities was getting out old slides, and having “slideshows” of when we were babies, or of favorite family vacations. I still feel warm inside when I think of those times together in the dark, laughing and reminiscing.

I grew up surrounded by good camera equipment, and good photography. I always knew I’d want a fancy camera someday, but I wanted to be ready. Financially, it just hasn’t been possible before, and it wasn’t really necessary. I wanted to use our little point and shoot camera to death. I wanted to develop my ability with the basics as much as I could before moving up to the fancy stuff.

Well, through some interesting opportunities, I was able to save up almost enough money. Our old camera is still plugging along, but it’s cracked, and smoking, and the final straw was losing the battery charger during our move. We were without a camera for a whole week! (A very difficult week for me!)

But it all worked out in the end, because Ben decided to combine my Mother’s Day and birthday gifts, and buy my long-awaited camera. I love it, but I’m still slightly scared to touch it!

It’s a little intimidating. I don’t have a hot clue what I’m doing. But we went for a walk together last night, my new camera and I, and spent some time getting to know each other a little bit, so we might get along okay. Some classes will definitely speed up that process.

And guess what? The day after I received my shiny new camera, I finally found the old battery charger! It always works that way! But it’s okay, because we do still need that old friend, as well.

Here’s hoping this is the start of something good…:)

Bittersweet Mother’s Day

If everything had gone the way we thought it would, we would have celebrated a birthday here last week.

We would have had another little munchkin running around here, turning five years old.

I don’t think about that very often. Except around Mother’s Day. When that old due date rolls around, there are some dreams I once dreamed that are buried way down deep, but keep coming up to the surface each May.

And you know what? I’m glad they do. It makes Mother’s Day a little bittersweet, but I’ve gotten used to it. And this year, I realized I’ve even become thankful for it.

Although I don’t think about that baby much anymore, those bittersweet thoughts remind me of how much I really do have. If we had never gone through any miscarriages, I’m sure I would still love our girls like crazy, I’d still be so thankful for them.

But I think that as a mom, having loved and lost, even when it was only for a few weeks, puts things into perspective.

I like perspective.

I like it that all this happiness is here, even after a good amount of pain. I like how things worked out in the end. I really always wanted three or four kids, but I like finding out how nice two can be.

I like thinking there are babies in heaven waiting for me. I don’t think about that a lot either – I feel a bit of a jolt anytime I have to fill out a medical form that asks how many pregnancies I’ve had, and I realize I need to write down a number “four”.

I am the mother of four children. That sounds kind of plentiful, doesn’t it? An odd feeling for a mom who never felt like she had enough, for so many years.

Those years seemed to go on forever, and now suddenly, they are done. Suddenly I am happy, and suddenly that time seems so much shorter than it did while it was happening.

I wish so much that I could dump hope on all the people who are waiting for something.

I wish I could pass on the peace that’s found in just knowing that God knows, and in the end, even the pain is worth it and part of you, and you wouldn’t go back and change it. I wish I could gift someone with the perspective that comes in the end.

Oh, I wasn’t going to do this, but I really do need to quote Donald Miller one more time, even though there’s been a lot of him around here in the last few weeks:

…We were designed to live through something rather than to attain something, and the thing we were meant to live through was designed to change us. (p.70, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years)

I’ve lived through something, and it has changed me. Some days I still feel like I mess up an awful lot as a mom, but I do think I’m a better mom because of all we’ve gone through.

For me, Mother’s Day is not just a celebration of this relationship, but it’s also a celebration of what it took to get here. We made it through, and it has been very, very good. These girls of mine are precious, special gifts, and having loved and lost along the way has taught me a little bit about the value of life.

The bitter has made me realize how sweet this life of mine really is!