It is no secret that winter is my least favorite season. February seemed marked with sickness and cold weather for us. But before I fully embrace the spring sunshine that March has brought my little corner in PA today, I don’t want to dismiss the gems that February held. Although there were the big mile markers of winter chills and fighting off the flu, there were also nuggets of goodness to be found in their midst.
So, in the spirit of gratitude, I want to say hello to March by remembering and celebrating the goodness that our leap month held. There were so many sweet gifts to be enjoyed and created and read. Here’s to the nuggets of February!
Things I enjoyed
Succulents (how have I missed on the delight of these easy-to-care for greens?!? They have brought my heart much joy in the dead of winter.)
Writing down “February 29” in my journal. Hurrah for a leap year!
Getting ready for bed by candlelight during a thunderstorm that knocked out the power.
Sunday tradition of German pancakes and homemade lattes.
Snuggling a sick baby.
Adventure walks up and down our road.
Discovering the beauties of Lake Champion in New York with my dear youth group girls.
Friends over for dinner and conversations around the table.
Sushi feast for Valentine’s Day (which was pretty much inspired by my desire to make more sushi!)
Sending mail love.
Getting mail love.
Tulips and daffodils. (These beauties greeting me on the kitchen table are always a gift.)
Things I made
Muffins. I made tons of muffins. Orange & Cranberry. Oat & Banana. Banana Chocolate Chip. And in the midst of all this baking, I made the pleasant discovery that ricotta cheese is a FABULOUS addition to muffins. This is our newest favorite that is decently healthy, and my gluten free flour blend substitutes beautifully. Last week, I had to make them twice because they were so delicious.
Baby wipes. This was incredibly easy. I am totally converted and likely to never buy them again.
Wild Rice Salad. I usually make this in the summer, as it feels like a dish you want to eat when the sun is shining on you. But I recently made a heated up version, and it is the perfect hearty, flavorful dish. My recipe is adapted from Shauna Niequist. I like to throw in chicken, feta, green olives, artichoke hearts and sauteed mushrooms and peppers. YUM.
Chocolate Pudding. This was my first time attempting a homemade version, and I couldn’t have been more pleased. It was simple to whip up with things I already had. I made a batch before dinner one night, and it had time to cool while we ate our meal. It was perfect with whipped cream and a superhero movie, giving us a lovely date night in.
Things I read
These articles I thought were EXCELLENT. They range from suffering to everyday graces to marriage to creativity to food flavors. They were wonderful discoveries this month and spoke right to my heart.
I read a lot of books, which is honestly one of my favorite things. It’s hard to be all the way upset about winter, when it lends itself to hot mugs of coffee and sitting with a good book. I’ve already blogged about quite a few of these:
P.S. There is still time to enter the giveaway for The Gift of Friendship! It ends March 4. Enter here.
Here’s a few I haven’t written about yet:
I picked up this book at a thrift store, never expecting for it to be the gift that it was. This book made me cry in the best of ways. Kara Tippets doesn’t simply write about her fight with cancer. She writes about the grace and trust that she has experienced because cancer is part of her life. She writes about the Jesus who shows up in the midst of the messy and broken and painful of life. She doesn’t offer answers when you are overwhelmed with the hand you’ve been dealt. Instead, she speaks of the gift and the grace to be found in the everyday. I felt like I was with a dear friend or mentor, hearing about how the Lord had used the difficult to make her more like Jesus. Kara has a part in the book where she says that cancer is a gift. And I actually believe her, as hard and awful as that sounds. I believe her. She doesn’t see cancer as the end, but as the education, the means to find more of Jesus. 5/5 for me.
I loved Alli’s writing about living well, beyond the frantic pace for productivity. She shares much of her own story, wading through seasons of self-employment, mothering, blogging, helping run a company. She asked herself and the reader good, hard questions. She is She is honest and funny. Her practical suggestions are hard-earned from her own life.
Then I laid my forehead down on the table and began to cry. I grumbled angrily and told God how hard everything was. How I was scared and afraid.
And then he whispered to my spirit,
Get up and live like you believe that I am going to take care of you.
In just a few words, he straightened me out and made me realize what probably was clear to anyone around me but was a revelation to me.
I was miserable because I didn’t trust him. My worries were born out of my need to be in control, my desire to know what was next in my life, and a lack of gratitude for the grace he had already given me. (102-103)
The words the Lord gave Alli have echoed in my head every since I read her book. Do I live like I actually believe the Lord is going to take care of me? Does my schedule and my plans look like I believe that? This book challenged me and encouraged me. If you’re struggling to find balance in your life and are tired of living running from one thing to the next, I’d definitely recommend this book. Alli balances her recommendations for changing with Scripture. 4/5 for me.
*Zondervan Publishers and BookLook Bloggers have provided me with a complimentary copy of “Breaking Busy,” in exchange for my honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255
I’m typically skeptical of any book that includes a number in its title. They tend to promise things that they can’t deliver, in 3 easy steps or 30 days. But I was happy to be proven wrong with this one. Dr. Mark Rutland shares about the transformative power of Psalm 23 and the Lord’s Prayer. As someone who has grown up in the church, I find myself almost “forgetting” about these prayers as their familiarity works against me. This book was just what my heart needed. Dr. Rutland compares and contrasts both passages, as well as their authors, by sharing a more in depth look at the life of David and Jesus. He shares that the title came from how long it takes him to pray the prayer, but that the impact on his life has been incredible. I’ve taken to saying the Lord’s Prayer every day, as he encourages the reader to do. I’m finding it to be a helpful reminder for my heart about what is truly important. It is the reminder my heart needs about who God is and who I am. And I always need to hear that.
The wonderful truth is that God is a good and loving God, and His will for us is good. Always. We need not fear to pray, “Thy will be done.” That simple phrase of only four words is the essential key to happiness. I cannot pray myself into a life free of all pain and suffering. I can pray myself under His kingship and into His will, and there I find a place that is safe from all the pain and misery that my will unleashes upon my own life. (70)
I think the typical Christian struggles with prayer, but rarely do we search for help within Scripture itself. I think this book provides practical theology and examples, while unpacking two of some of the best known passages and challenging the reader to use these tools. 4/5 for me.
*Baker Publishers have provided me with a complimentary copy of “21 Seconds to Change Your World,” in exchange for my honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255
Sometimes the best thing to do is enjoy a book that you know is delightful. On a few of my sick days, I set aside my grown-up books to head into a magical world. It was a sweet gift to laugh out loud at the Dursleys’ antics, cheer Harry, Ron and Hermoine on and revel in the whimsy of Dumbledore. I’ve read these several times, but they never fail to delight me. If you haven’t read them (or even if you have!), please do yourself a favor and read them. A wholehearted 5/5 for me.
I wanted to like this book. I kept hoping that I was wrong or that the first few pages were different than the rest of the book. The premise sounded promising, as it unfolds the story of a woman who is working in a saloon as a dance girl, because she had no other option. She’s pulled from that lifestyle, when a friend of her brother comes to her (somewhat unwanted) aid. As one can assume, romance inevitably follows. I don’t always mind predictability. Life itself is predictable at times. I don’t always mind when you’re not surprised by romance. I was cheering on Mr. Bingley and Jane (from Pride and Prejudice) from the beginning! It was still satisfying when they overcame their obstacles to get together. However, this book felt different. Everything felt as though it was fixed or resolved too easily. The main character grieves for a short while when someone she loves dies, but even that grief seems to be over in a neat and tidy package. Like I said, I wanted to like this book. I want a story that illustrates truth, whether that’s from Scripture or a story about the Wild West. But this story fell short for me. It felt flat and it was hard to stay engaged with characters that I didn’t care about. 2/5 for me.
*Revell Publishers have provided me with a complimentary copy of “A Sweet Misfortune,” in exchange for my honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255
Love Walked In. Not pictured, as it was a library book and has been since returned.
This book was a fun read. What begins as a love story between a man and a woman, becomes a beautiful story of a girl and a woman finding love. Our hearts always seem to grow when we are serving someone else and seeking their best interest. I appreciated the look at mental illness of a parent from the child’s perspective, as well as the nostalgic feel of this modern day romance. 4/5 for me. (This book is secular, and there is a general acceptance of sex before marriage, etc. While not too explicit, it is woven throughout the story.)
Thanks for joining me for my February nuggets! What are yours?