the grace of being enjoyed + a giveaway.

I like going places with my little lady, on the whole. There are times when any human isn’t particularly pleasant, especially when hunger or exhaustion is involved. But, in general, her company is lovely. 

Recently, we were at Costco and her squishy hand was in mine. We were slowly following my husband, taking in the sights and all the people around us. As is not uncommon, I noticed people smiling in our direction. I thought to myself, “I like being seen with L. I like being with her.” As soon as that entered my mind, I felt the Holy Spirit whisper to my soul, “That is how I feel about you.” I almost cried right next to the food court. It had been a day without much productivity, following a week where I didn’t feel particularly brave or useful or much of anything. As I looked at my girl, feeling so glad to be near her, I felt like I could hear the grace the Lord offers me. It is not for anything I do or don’t do; he simply enjoys me, as I enjoy my girl.

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July felt long and a little bit like a roller coaster for us. There were some surprises, some deeply lovely things. There was Hard and difficult. There were many prayers; some of which got answered right before my eyes. There is still waiting. Yet in the midst of all of that, I can’t help but see the Lord beside me, enjoying me, being for me. As I think of that little hand in mine, I’m so grateful for the grace the Lord shows us, regardless of how we’re performing or what our circumstances look like.

A few graces of July:

Our first visit to the lavender farm. Bees and butterflies and the smell in the air was magical.

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Celebrating my dear husband’s birthday with cheesecake and frisbee and friends.

This chocolate cake. YUM.

Summer reading lists and the library with L.

Stickers and coloring, bubbles and baby dolls, almost every day.

Big bright sunflowers.

Parenthood, Season 3. I have an affection for the flawed, endearing Bravermans. This season took me a while to get through, but I was glad I did.

Beautiful, fresh vegetables and fruit. Summer is truly lovely.

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The refuge of reading. Here’s what I read this month.

THE NESTING PLACE

I’ve already read this one, but the pictures and narration are so delightful that I had to revisit it. It makes me dream about making our place more homey, and invites me into the present instead of “someday living.” I love Myquillyn Smith’s theology of what it means to be human and love well, that is woven throughout decorating advice and her story. “It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.” A for me.

My default when I’m not doing well/sick/don’t know what to read is to go back to my favorites. Each of these were bittersweet to finish, but there is such comfort to be found in an old, familiar friend of a story. If you haven’t read these, do yourself a favor. They are some of my favorite stories. (But please, please read them in order.)

HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX

HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS

I’m a fan of the movies, but I can’t get over the richness and depth, the descriptions and detail to be found in these books. I loved revisiting this magical world again.

A VOICE IN THE WIND

AN ECHO IN THE DARKNESS

AS SURE AS THE DAWN

I first read the Mark of the Lion series in high school and they were some of the first fiction books to change me. Even years later, they still are tremendously powerful for my heart and I found myself drawing courage for my own walk with the Lord. There aren’t many Christian fiction books that I’d recommend across the board to anyone, but these ones are an exception. They are truly fantastic.

COURAGEOUS

This book felt a little like Robin Hood, (or perhaps more accurately, King Richard the Lion Heart) as we followed our characters into the Crusades. I was drawn to this book because I haven’t read much set in this era, and was not disappointed. The characters were likable and real. The Crusades were painted with realism, not all good or all bad, but mixed and messy, as are so many of the events and issues of today. I deeply appreciate the parallels for today, as the themes of redemption, courage and faith still ring true. B for me.

*Bethany Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy 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

DISTANT GOD

There are not many books that I have read that are like this one. This one boldly addresses feeling far from God and all the questions that go along with that. I deeply appreciated the lack of easy solutions as the author, Chris Nye, shares messy and difficult truth. His pastor’s heart comes through on every page. There is no shame here, just another human taking the hand of another and leading them to Jesus when he feels so far away. While there was not much in this book that I hadn’t heard before, it was still good for my soul to hear it again and in this way. I’m grateful for this good book. A- for me.

*Moody Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy 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

MISSING

The second in the series, this book picks up a few weeks after the last mystery, Vendetta, left off. I think I might have enjoyed this one better than the last one! It was nice to not have to spend as much time getting to know the characters, but continuing with the same struggles and personal development. I felt like there was a good balance of personal story in the midst of the overarching mystery that the heroine, Detective Nikki Boyd is trying to solve. This was an entertaining, fun summer read. B for me.

*Revell Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy 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

WHAT MATTERS MOST

This one surprised me in some good ways. The author drew me in quickly with the main character’s kind heart and money problems, leading into a deeper story of politics and behind the scenes of running a campaign. I was impressed with the depth of the difficult decisions Leta had to make, and found myself struggling with her. To choose between what is right and what is financially secure may sound easy, but as this story demonstrated, it is anything but that when you have people depending on you and you have no backup plan. I enjoyed this story. B+ for me.

*Revell Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy 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

MOMMY NEEDS A RAISE

I’ll be honest. Books geared towards moms and/or parents aren’t always my thing. I know I’m a mom, but sometimes I feel like the good intentions of an author feel more like a painful reminder that I don’t relate to the typical parent. I was hopeful to find an exception with this book, but alas, it was not so. I think Sarah Parshall Perry offers humor and a broad look at her life before and after kids in order to connect with her reader. She is honest about her experience and willing to laugh at her mistakes. I just had trouble connecting with her casual, conversational tone about parenting. C for me.

*Revell Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy 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

WRECK MY LIFE

Mo Isom has an impressive list of accomplishments to share, but beyond her athletic prowess and determination on and off the field, her story is profound. I devoured this book quickly, connecting with her candor and transparency about the difficult, unseen parts of her story. From an eating disorder to the suicide of her father, she does not dismiss the pain while also pointing back to Jesus. She gives him full credit for transforming her brokenness to wholeness. As a non-athlete, I was nervous about not relating to Mo’s story. Nothing could be further from the truth. She writes in a way that anyone who has had hidden pain or brokenness (aka any human) would relate, pointing the reader straight to Jesus. A for me.

*Baker Books has provided me with a complimentary copy 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

41 WILL COME

If I had an older brother, this book is how I imagine he might sound. He is kind and caring, a little quirky and well intentioned and uses too many hashtags. I loved Chuck Tate’s heart as he shares about the significance of the number 40 in the Bible, as a period of waiting and Hard. He shares stories of his and others’ difficult 40 times, while also offering the hope that “41 will come.” This is a pastor’s call to not give up and to stay the course in the midst of circumstances that feel long and difficult. B for me.

*Tyndale Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy 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

 

41-will-come_-coverI have an extra copy of 41 Will Come to giveaway to one of my readers! Comment below if you’re interested in being entered, and I’ll draw a winner next week. 

 

*I joined up with  What I’m Into at Leigh Kramer’s blog as she shares her favorites and invites others to do the same. What a gift to reflect and learn together!

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Many blessings to you Alison ❤ There is so much to be grateful for. Your little girl is adorable, and I completely see God looking at you like you look at her. Blessings and grace, Debbie

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love your list. I love sunflowers and the Bravermans!

    Like

  3. Lindsey says:

    What beautiful insight about how God sees us. I think a lot of us probably needed to read that this week.

    I love the Bravermans too. I don’t think I’ve found another tv show that makes me feel quite as much as that one did.

    Like

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