Monday, August 25, 2014

Favorite Read-Aloud Books: Classic Series



I love reading. I always have. Or at least as long as I can remember. One of my favorite things about the girls getting older is that they are finally old enough to read chapter books too. Over the past 6 years I have been slowly collecting favorite books from my childhood to read to my kids once they were old enough. We are currently in the processes of redecorating our basement and that included moving all of our books off of the bookshelves. I spent my afternoon sorting through books and got to look over some old favorites. Now that school is back in session and the girls are doing Book-It we will definitely be reading some of these books.

For a long time a lot of these books were out of print but I found out today that many of them have come back into print. (Cue my happy dance!) So, I thought I would take a few minutes to share some of my favorites with you all. I started working on a list and realized I would probably need to break it down. So consider this part one.

Classic Series

The Shoe Books
These aren't technically a series as each story is stand alone. But, since they are all written by the same person a long similar plot lines I figured they counted as a series. These books all take place roughly around WWII in England and follow various orphaned children as they discover their talents in dancing and theater.
 Theater Shoes (The Shoe Books)
Dancing Shoes (The Shoe Books)
Ballet Shoes (The Shoe Books)

All Of a Kind Family
Sydney Taylor did something ground breaking when she wrote this beautiful series about a family of Jewish children growing up in New York City around WWI. More than historical fiction these books exposed me to a brand new culture as a child. I loved learning about the religious traditions and culture around different Jewish holidays and can't wait to share that with my kids.
All-of-a-Kind Family
All-Of-A-Kind Family Downtown
More All-Of-A-Kind Family
All-Of-A-Kind Family Uptown
Ella Of All-Of-A-Kind Family

Betsy Tacy Books 
Growing up I LOVED the older Betsy/Tacy books but I have to admit I never actually had the chance to read books about my favorite characters as children becuase they were out of print. They were re-printed a few years ago and my sisters have given me the complete set to read to my little girls. We are all loving them. 
The Betsy-Tacy Treasury: The First Four Betsy-Tacy Books

Little House Books
These American classics really don't need and review or description. As a child and an adult I enjoyed the later books most but my kids have really gotten into Little House in the Big Woods.

Little House Nine-Book Box Set

The Chronicles of Narnia
If I could only pick one set of books from my childhood to carry with me into adulthood it would be these. I have read and re-read these books more times than I can count. I have them all on CD and my kids and I listen to them over and over when we drive to my parents in MD. 
Chronicles of Narnia Box Set

Grandma's Attic 
A fun lighthearted set of books about a little girl who finds things in her grandma's attic and convinces her to tell her stories about her childhood. Full of anecdotes about hoop skirts and trying to remove freckles with lemon juice these are sure to make your kids giggle.
In Grandma's Attic (Grandma's Attic Series)
More Stories from Grandma's Attic (Grandma's Attic Series Book 2)
Still More Stories from Grandma's Attic (Grandma's Attic Series)
Treasures from Grandma's Attic (Grandma's Attic Series)





Thursday, August 21, 2014

Making Room for Grace and the Middle Ground: reflections on my social media newsfeed.

My news feed has been full of links to articles this summer. Links to articles telling me how I should feel or think about things. Things like yoga pants and modesty. Things like depression and suicide. Things like silly/fun fundraisers and stem cell research and hashtag activism.

And I want to shake my head and throw up my hands and say "YOU PEOPLE!"

Because there seems to be no room for a middle ground.

Because my position as a Godly woman seems to come down to what kind of pants I wear and either I agree with you or I am an attention-seeking harlot. Because there seems to be no grace for a tired mom whose weight fluctuations are equaled only by her one-year-old’s mood swings and who can't seem to find time to do laundry.

Because there seems to be no respect for the grieving. Or the dead. Or those struggling with unspeakable pain. Or those who misspeak and say something with truth but maybe not love. Because one man couldn’t see past his pain and one man couldn’t see past his pride and both men needed the same thing. Grace.  

Because we are easily irritated by a fad on our news feed and don't bother to look deeper to the story behind it. Because it is easier to point out the negative than look for the positive.  Because sometimes we forget that being "pro-life" is just as much about loving and supporting and seeking healing for the living in whatever broken place we find it as it is protecting the yet to be born. Because judgment is easier than grace.

Because there is a bigger picture we are missing.

And then I read this post. And my heart sings YES!

God didn’t stand back and point out all of our mistakes. He sent his son and got dirty up to his elbows. He surrounded himself with flawed, broken people and loved them. He looked past their superficial needs to the heart of what they needed. Grace.

What if we, what if I took Romans 12:10 to heart.
 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

What if we stopped pointing fingers, stopped rolling our eyes, stopped arguing our side and put that same energy into loving one another?
 
What if, rather than proving we were right, we sought to outdo one another in showing honor? 
What if we took time to sit down and listen to each other's stories? Listening to the whys and lifting each other up in prayer. What if we withheld judgment till we know the whole story. Or maybe withheld judgment all together and simply pointed each other toward grace.

What if we were really daring and shared our own stories: of loss, of pain, of failure, of sin, of questioning. Not to glorify these things, but to take away their power. It is the things that remain unspoken that drive the biggest wedge between us. It is the illusion of perfection and knowing all that answers that keeps others quiet. 

Maybe it's time we take the conversation further than social media and into our homes, across our tables, in real relationships with community and genuine accountability.  What if we stopped vaugebooking and spoke loving truth into each other's lives. 

Yes, this is hard, yes, this is invasive, yes this is wildly uncomfortable.  

But what if we took the chance? 

What would that look like? I would love to hear from you. How do you find the balance between truth and grace. Is there a way to stand up for what you believe in on social media with out coming across as condescending and self righteous? What does real community and accountability look like? 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Transitions

I have been pretty quiet on here for a while. I have been quiet intentionally. We have been in a season of intense transition and I have wanted to take time to think, reflect, pray through, live with these transitions for a bit before sharing about them.



This baby girl just turned one! I am not sure how that happened. It honestly feels like just a few weeks ago we brought her home. She is such a funny talkative little person. She get's into everything, still loves to cuddle, is talking/babbling constantly, and loves "ring-around-the-rosie".




These two girls started school this week. They are so excited to be at the same school and Miss Goose was bouncing off the walls this morning because her sister and the neighbor girl were going to walk her to her classroom today. Goose is in Kindergarten this year and Bear is starting 1st grade. She is so excited to be in the grade her aunt teaches and has said many times she wishes she could go to the school her aunt teaches in. (So do I kiddo, so do I.)

First week of school has brought its expected challenges. They are doing great going to bed and getting up but they both have their own challenges at school so the afternoons/evenings are a bit of a struggle. The joys of having an introvert and an extrovert sharing a bedroom. (So sorry to my sister I shared a room with growing up. I had NO idea how draining that must have been for you!).


Our small group is going through some changes. Good changes that mean we are growing and will allow more people to attend groups. It took a while to get used to the idea mentally. Josh and I originally had been planning on opening up our home to host a group in January but the changes prompted us to move up our time line and offer it this fall. So in a few weeks we will be hosting a group. Thankfully my parents came this past weekend and did a lot of work around the house to help us get ready for that. Still a good bit done, but lots is in the works house wise and in my heart.



It seems like a lot of the reading I have been drawn to have been about home, hospitality, and community. I'm beginning to see a trend and I'm trying to listen to what God is trying to teach me. Hopefully will be more on that in the future.