full & ripe days.

Oh August, what a full and ripe month you are. These thirty one days have practically been bursting and I’m so grateful. (And this also explains my two week sabbatical from blogging, if you were wondering.)

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  • Hot and humid days.

Pennsylvania was full of blistering, sweltering heat. I felt the irony of the direct contrast of those bitterly cold winter days we had only months ago, yet with the same result of being stuck indoors to maintain a bearable temperature. Hello to the pile of books on my nightstand! Indoor days means that much more reading for this girl.

  • Revisiting Downton Abbey.

In light of the humidity, I enjoyed rewatching Season 1 & 2 of this drama. Maggie Smith is hands down my favorite and is always the reason my husband asks me why I’m laughing.

  • My first rug burn, perhaps ever.

I wasn’t much of a rough-and-tumble kid, so even I was surprised to get a rug burn (I’m guessing my first) in my late twenties. It was the result of an overly enthusiastic pretend game of “monster” with my girl.

It uses 5 bananas, believe it or not. In the humidity, my bananas were getting ripe quick and this was the perfect solution. I made it twice this month, one right after the other. It isn’t too sweet and feels wholesome enough for breakfast. Yum. PS. I substituted eggs for the flax seed, so my version didn’t end up being vegan like the recipe is, but still delicious.

  • The delight of the Farmer’s market and vegetable stands.

In the absence of my own garden this year, I’m living vicariously through those that do. I can’t get enough of these tomatoes that grew only a few miles away and ripened on the vine; these peaches that are ripe and ready for a juicy bite; these squash and zucchini and eggplant asking to be thrown in a pan.

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  • The conquering of a full day of travel and a six-hour flight with toddler, twice.

Our girl did so well as we drove and flew and drove some more to make the trek from PA to WA to visit family and friends. There were still some tears and many prayers on my end, but the Lord gave us much grace for the long trip there and back again.

  • So many long, reunited hugs.

I’m not sure if there is anything quite like a reunion hug, extra long and tight to make up for all the days without them. And there is always the chance of tears, which makes it all the more beautiful. I’m grateful for so many of these in August.

  • Berries and more berries.

Blueberries from the farmer’s market. Blueberries in the front yard of my parents. Wild blackberries that you have to stretch and reach for through the fence and brambles. My heart was happy to enjoy these and to see my daughter enjoy what is one of my earliest memories of growing up; eating the berries in the yard.

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  • Cool and refreshing days.

Washington was a vast contrast that we’d just been experiencing. Even the few hot days we experienced lacked the humidity and swelter factor. I even had to borrow a sweatshirt from my mommy to make it through the visit. It was not an unwelcome surprise.

  • Appetizers for dinner.

One of the first nights at my parents we had an appetizer spread for dinner. Smoked salmon and cream cheese on toast. Hummus and veggies. Blueberries and peaches. Cheese and crackers. Deviled eggs. It made me wonder why I don’t do this at home and have resolved that this must change.

  • Wading in the beautiful mess of transition.

It is still a new experience to go home to WA and find so much different. Two of my brothers are married, a little over a year ago each. We sent off my youngest brother to college during this trip. My parents’ home feels changed as so many of us have spread our wings and we’ve gained so many wonderful people.

The growing and changing is so good and healthy, but also comes with the discomfort of learning a new way of being family. I’m grateful for this visit to experience the best of these changes with time with some of my favorite couples, time with my parents in their grandparent role, time to cheer my brother on as he makes his own path away from home. Transition is bittersweet, even when it is good and healthy; it is a grace to not do it alone.

  • Remembering and rejoicing.

I had the distinct privilege of being part of the wedding of two dear friends (and former RAs) as part of our time in WA. What a gift to remember and celebrate what the Lord has done in and through them, as well as the grace it is to be part of their story.

On the flip side, how strange it was to be on the other side of Orientation Day at a university for the first time in a lot of years. It wasn’t a bad strange, just strange, to be dropping my brother off, instead of welcoming him and all the other freshman to my building. Yet there was such grace to have such an unique view to remember the goodness of those seasons in Residence Life and to rejoice at what the Lord had done.

  • Our first vegetable photo.

In anticipation of our daughter’s birth, we took photos each week with the corresponding fruit or vegetable for her growing size. A few weeks ago, we took the first one for her sibling (!) at the grocery store back in our old hometown to mark 11 weeks. Hurrah for brussel sprout baby!

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The books of August.

*affiliate links included

This month felt like a beautiful blend of familiar favorites AND new discoveries. I loved revisiting some of my beloved books and learning from new authors. A great month for books.

Soul Keeping

If I could tell you to read only one book from this list, it would be this one. I forced myself to slow down and soak in the content, so I’ve actually been sitting with this book for almost two months now. And they have been such good months.

John Ortberg shares about what it was like to know Dallas Willard (a man I look forward to meeting in heaven) and to learn from him about the soul. This book transformed my idea of “personal devotional time” to something much more heartfelt and meaningful than is usually meant by the phrase. Caring for one’s own soul is something only you can do. The consequences of care or neglect are far reaching, but the care itself is something that I alone am responsible for. This book gave language and instruction for things I have already been processing in some of the most helpful of ways. I came away with a better understanding of my soul and how to care for it. I HIGHLY recommend this book to any Jesus follower. It is exceptional. A+ for me.

Every Season Prayers

Christians often speak of the need to pray more without ever taking action steps to making that a reality. I love this book because it offers the practical tools of words to pray, from a the heart of a pastor and friend. Scotty Smith shares prayers for almost every occasion; for suffering; for aging; for exhaustion; for grief; for joy; for confession; for surgery; for irritating people; for gratitude; the list goes on and on. There are short prayers to be uttered in a moment, but the majority are prayers rooted in Scripture, drawing from the truth of the Gospel to speak life over our very souls while we speak to the Father. This book will be joining my short stack for my time with the Lord, as each seeks to point my heart back to Jesus. I’m grateful for the rich, humble book. 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

My Life in France

Is it possible to have a friend crush on someone who isn’t alive? If it is, I definitely have one on Julia Child. She is delightful. I get such pleasure from reading her words and celebrating the joys of good food with good people. I love her gumption and courage to do the things she loved, even when it wasn’t conventional or easy. I love her dedication to doing work well, regardless of it being published or receiving credit. She wanted to do things well because that mattered. It just so happens that she did end up being published and receiving credit, but it feels clear from her writing that this was her primary goal. Her goal was to share the goodness she had experienced and to create foolproof recipes that others could enjoy. And as a bonus, I love her friendship and marriage with Paul Child. There is such obvious mutual respect and care. This book is a dear favorite, and reading it is like eating the best meal with a good friend. A+ for me.

A Tapestry of Secrets

This is a multigenerational story, sharing the stories of several women in the same family over the years. A stroke takes away Perla (the grandmother)’s ability to communicate, just as she’s ready to reveal a family secret. Her granddaughter, Ella struggles with her own motivations for maintaining tradition, while also staying present with the needs of her family. It was a moderately paced, enjoyable read. (As a side note, this was the third book in the series, but the first one I’d read. It worked well as a stand-alone book, and wouldn’t have even known that there were others by how easily the book flowed.) B for me.

*Bethany House 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

The Rewired Brain

Scripture tells us to take our thoughts captive, but how often do we do so? This book combined research and anecdotal stories to provide practical steps for changed thinking in many major areas of life. Dr. Ski Chilton encourages the reader to believe that “all humans have the capacity, the freedom, to change and direct their own lives; many however are simply to afraid to do so.” (21) From relationships to tragedy, marriage and parenting, he shares Scripture, his own past and the wisdom of how we function as humans to offer hope for a better way of living. This is a call to responsibility and an encouragement that we have more control than we might believe to live a better life. B+ 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

Ash & Bramble

I loved this unique take on familiar fairy tales. In a similar vein to the story of Wicked, the villain is not at all who we’ve been told in the story of Cinderella that we think we know. While my favorite retelling remains Ella Enchanted, this was a fierce competitor, providing an engaging, well-told, slightly darker story. As a fairy tale lover, this was a treat to discover and very hard to put down. B+ for me.

Hinds Feet on High Places

Sometimes Jesus gives the perfect books to speak truth at the perfect time. A friend referenced this book to me recently, and it made me want to revisit this favorite allegory. The truth of what it looks like to follow the Shepherd was a gift in my current season and each chapter seemed to remind my heart of the truth I needed to hear. This beautiful story is one I’d recommend to anyone who follows Jesus. A+ for me.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

I loved this book by Barbara Kingsolver. She is an exceptional writer and a fabulous storyteller. Her family’s quest to eat locally for a year sounded daunting, but was made more accessible and personal with her honest sharing and the vignettes from her husband and daughter. This book challenged me in the best of ways to think about food, where it comes from and how to feed my family, as well as the impact those things have on our world. I was expecting a book that would make me feel guilty, but instead I found a book that made me laugh out loud and feel motivated and empowered to live more intentionally. A+ for me.  

Hope Prevails

This book felt unique as a book written by a neuropsychologist who herself experienced depression, only to discover what she had been prescribing for her patients wasn’t helping her in her own depression as she expected. This book is an honest look at depression from someone who is both knowledgeable AND has lived it. The hope that Dr. Michelle Bengtson gives is not merely clinical, but personal and pointing back to grace that can only come from Jesus. One of my favorite parts of the book was the conclusion of each chapter, ending with reflection questions, a prayer and songs that were an encouragement to the author in her own dark days. A- for me.

*Revell Publishing 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

Better Together

This book is for the momma who struggles to know how to connect with other women, who feels out of place in sharing life in this new (or old) season of motherhood. This book is an encouragement to choose connection over comparison, to fight against isolation by being intentional. While the practical tips in this book may not be unfamiliar ones, they are a good reminder of what good friendship looks like, even in a different season. I appreciated the personality tests, helping to increase self-awareness for the reader about things like energy levels, organization, structure, etc. These provided some helpful language and understanding about different ways of being a mom, while encouraging community and friendship. B 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

Moments & Days

My experience as a Christian in America has been fairly devoid of Jewish feasts or holidays. I was intrigued by this book written by a Jewish believer, bridging the gap between what is often seen as the “Jewish” calendar and the “Christian” calendar, by sharing the meaning and faith behind many of these events. This was historical, instructional and a deeply personal challenge to see time as an opportunity to experience the eternal work of God in the limits of our temporal experience. I came away encouraged and challenged to be more intentional with telling the “family” story that I find myself apart of as a believer. These celebrations and rhythms are much more than traditions, but a way to speak truth over ourselves in tangible ways.

“Each cyclical calendar is describing all of creation’s journey towards its appointed time and destiny. These calendars are pointing us toward home. In this respect, our sacred calendars are simply tools for discipleship.”

A for me.

*NavPress and Tyndale Publishers have 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

Guarded

I enjoyed this story that journeyed from present day all the way back to World War 2, via forgotten family letters. This was the second book this month that followed both a grandmother and granddaughter’s stories, and I blazed through it in a day. It was a slower, but still engaging read for a Friday night in, that felt like a good alternative to watching a chick flick. B for me.

The Zookeeper’s Wife

I was drawn to this book for the engaging premise: two Warsaw zookeepers, using their zoo as a way of saving hundreds from the Nazis. As I read, I couldn’t help but be impressed with the research that went into studying the lives of this remarkable family. Yet, I was disappointed to find that I wanted this book to be more than just a well-researched account. I wanted a more personal story, helping me get to know these brave people who made the best of a terrifying time. Instead, this book felt like it kept them at arm’s length and I could only admire them from a distance. C for me.

The Help

A well told story is so powerful. It can give faces and feelings and depth to what would otherwise be impersonal facts of a time I didn’t live. This fictional tale of these courageous black maids and one white woman living in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960’s has impacted me in tremendous ways. It has breathed life and a passion for justice into my heart for things that I haven’t experienced, but are deeply troubling and real. My heart aches not only for the racism that is part of country’s history, but the racism and injustice that still exists. This book is a well-written, beautiful story, but more than that, it represents a call to fight for justice and redemption in our broken world. I love this story more than I can say. PS. Even if you’ve watched the movie, the book is worth a read. It is better. A+ for me.

People of the Second Chance

This book feels like a good friend telling you truth. And not just any truth, but truth that he’s come by the hard way. I was struck by the honesty and vulnerability in this book, while simultaneously giving hope for the hard and broken parts of our stories. The idea that you are not your best or your worst moment is sung over and over again, closely followed by how deeply loved you are. But it isn’t said in a cliche fashion, but instead with the depth and sincerity from living the truth of it. I’m grateful to Mike Foster for writing this beautiful reminder of what it means to be loved by God and given a second chance. A- for me.

*Blogging for 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

It’s Not Fair

I could picture Melanie Dale sitting next to me on the couch for this whole book. She feels like the friend who hugs you tight, quotes too many movies, says mildly inappropriate (but funny) things, who lets you cry when life is hard, is honest and kind and points you to the Lord. If you’re looking for a book chock full of theology, this isn’t it. If you’re looking for a friend  in the midst of Hard stuff (who loves Jesus and happens to be a goon), this might be the book for you. I really like Melanie and her easy way of sharing her life with humor and vulnerability. I loved all the stories of other women who have had different Hards and how the Lord brought them through their circumstances, sprinkled throughout. I loved her combination of truth reminders, practical help, humor and friendship for the Hard. B+ for me.  

*Zondervan 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

I already wrote about Present Over Perfect this month, so I won’t say it all again. Just know I loved it and think you should read it.

I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting these childhood favorites of mine. If you missed them in your own younger years, I encourage you to give yourself the treat of these books now.

Caddie Woodlawn

A Little Princess

The Boxcar Children

Winter Cottage

Family Sabbatical

Family Grandstand

 

*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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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Yay for August! We loved being a part of August abundance with you all. God is good and gracious!

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  2. Christine says:

    I love all of these things and hearing about your time in Washington – ESPECIALLY that vegetable photo. 😉 Also, so many of this month’s reading sound fantastic and life-giving!

    Like

  3. What a beautiful post, Alison! ❤ It sounds like you had such an uplifting August. Yay.
    Are you pregnant? Sending so much love and Light to you and to your family. Many, many blessings.

    Like

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