Summer Reading List

I have not always been a reader by choice.  I have never hated to read, but like most high school and college students, as soon as I got my degree I took great joy in the fact that no one could ever MAKE me read anything again :) But my rebellion didn't last too long and as I grew in my walk with the Lord, I was drawn to books again and this time, for the right reasons.  When I was in my early twenties, being a volunteer in ministry, meeting with mentors and disciple-ing college students started the spark in me to read more.  The Bible came alive to me in many ways, thanks to life circumstances that pushed me Christ and also to older women who made a difference in my life, but truly no one inspired me more than my husband.  He is a reader of all kinds of things, the Bible, theology, leadership, history, wars, etc. and since I met him, he's always got 3 or 4 books he's reading at once.  It took me awhile to not be irritated by his constant reading :) Living with a book worm makes it hard to sit on the couch and watch TV at night, without feeling incredibly lazy!  But I soon got over that and he was wise to let me watch what I wanted without a guilt trip, ha ha.  It didn't take long for me to embrace a love for reading and it has now become something that we do together before we go to bed and sometimes when we're on a date. 
The more I read, the more I realize how much I've got to learn!  I'm a fast reader so it doesn't take me long to get through a book, but there are some that I deliberately slow down to digest.  I'm not a fiction reader or really a pleasure reader either.  If I'm going to make the time to read something, I prefer that it drives me to the Word and that it makes me think or change something about my life.  I know that doesn't sound like a lot of fun, but that's just who I am.  I'm not any fun.  Ha ha!

Anyway, this summer I've got some goals for myself and a list a books that I hope to get through.  I thought I'd share them with you in case you're looking for something to read at the beach or in my case, during nap time :)
I'd love to hear what you're reading too this summer, I'm always looking for great books to add to my list!
Gospel Powered Parenting, by William Farley
I'm currently reading this and it's so good.  Really one of best parenting books I've read so far.  I like it because it's not a self-help approach to parenting or a "10 steps to..." book.  It's a read that will challenge you and force you to take a good look at your doctrine and your theology, and then line it up with God's Word and the Gospel.  It encourages you to parent out of your response to the Gospel, making the case from scripture that the Gospel answers every need we have as people and as parents.  I am 5 chapters in and I feel like I need to start over and take better notes!  It's a rich read and one that is prompting me to think about the Holiness of God and my fear of Him.  I can't recommend this book enough!  Definitely worth your time.

 Seven, by Jen Hatmaker
I haven't read this yet, but I've been hearing so much about it and I'm eager to get my hands on it.  It's basically the story of the author's experiment to examine and cut out much of the "excess" in 7 areas of her life, simplifying what so many of us have fallen for in America, a huge amount of excess and materialism.  This is what the book description concludes: So, what’s the payoff from living a deeply reduced life? It’s the discovery of a greatly increased God—a call toward Christ-like simplicity and generosity that transcends social experiment to become a radically better existence.
This book is a classic in the Christian world and one I haven't read yet.  This is what the publisher says about it: Now celebrating 25 years of publication, this classic can help you better understand the biblical picture of God’s awesome holiness and why it is so foundational to God-centered, God-honoring theology and Christian living. In The Holiness of God , R.C. Sproul demonstrates that encountering God’s holy presence is a terrifying experience. Dr. Sproul argues that this struggle is nonetheless necessary because it is the only way to cure our propensity to trust in ourselves and our own righteousness for salvation.
I've been struck by the topic of God's Holiness as I've been reading through the Old Testament and have encountered so many commands from the Lord to remember that He is Holy and to be Holy as He is Holy.  But as I've been thinking through what that means and studying the origins of the word and what the Bible says about it, I've realized how misunderstood it is in our world, even within the Church.  It's not an easy thing to wrap our minds around at all and yet, it's essential in our doctrine to have a correct view of God.  So, I'm hoping to get through this, I'm guessing it won't be a light read :)

Gospel, by J.D. Greear
I know this is a tiny photo, I couldn't get a larger one for some reason.  We have loved anything from J.D. over the  years.  We went to his Church for a season while we lived in North Carolina and Trav was in Seminary.  We volunteered in the college ministry and Trav taught a few times in there, but shortly after that the Lord opened up a ministry opportunity for us at a different Church.  We miss him!!  He is an amazing guy and the Lord has gifted him in leadership and teaching.  We loved his preaching and still do.  Podcasts, blogs, and now his books are the ways we keep up with him.  This book is a much needed voice of clarity and Biblical truth in what the Gospel really is, not just the bent toward moralism or legalism that the Church often gravitates towards.  He is a great author, an even better preacher of the Word.  Travis has already read this and liked it, so I'm anxious to read it too.

The Meaning of Marriage, by Tim Keller
If you don't know Tim Keller, he is in a word, deep.  He pastors a Church in Manhattan and is a very well respected and loved.  He's not easy to read because he's brilliant, but I've heard wonderful things about this book.  It just came out in November and the gist of it is about why marriage today is in dire straits and what can be done to rescue it, all within the context of the Gospel.  Can't wait to read it!!

So there you have it!  Hopefully I'll be using my free time well this summer, getting through these books and exercising my brain.  Which is my favorite form of exercise!  Anytime I can be sipping iced coffee with my feet up and getting a mental workout at the same time, feels like a win-win :)
Not so sure I'll feel that way when I'm putting on a swimsuit however...

So I gave you my list, now what are you reading this summer???


A Narrow Escape

We've been having the strangest weather for the last few days.  It's been gorgeous, sunny and warm one day, then cloudy, stormy and wet the next day.  VERY wet...
We spent most of the day inside yesterday, cleaning carpets and getting some stuff done around the house, so we were hoping to get some time outside today.  I didn't pay attention to the weather forecast, but I suppose I should have known another storm was brewing based on how it looked and felt outside. It was a steamy 90 degrees today and soooo very humid. That's never good.  But after our kids woke up from naps, I packed us a little picnic and we drove to one of our new spots to enjoy the park and the lake.
Ava in particular loves this lake.  We've been enjoying the park here, but I know she's had her eyes on the beachfront, just dying to get in the water. 
 Carter didn't seem to care about much besides his food.  He was on a mission to get as much in his mouth as possible!
But this little nut was all about getting DONE as soon as possible so she could inch her way closer to the water.

 It was a gorgeous night, warm with a little breeze and mostly sunny with blue skies.  I honestly had no idea what was brewing or heading our way in just a few more minutes.
Ava was on a mission to get wet and thanks to her Daddy, she got very wet. 
 Carter was thinking the same thing I was, "Wait a minute???  Where does she think she's going??"
While mumbling something like, "I fink I have to go get in the water, Mama", she was off.
I sent Travis after her and Carter took that opportunity to get what he had his eyes on the whole time. 
"So now that they're gone, can I drink Daddy's snapple??"
On nights like this one, I realize that God gave me Travis to round out all of my sharp edges.
 Why do I say that??  Because we think and parent soooo differently :) I was under the impression that we would go look at the water front, not run through it in our clothes.  Travis' take was to just throw caution (and more dirty laundry) to the wind in the name of "having fun!" while running up and down the beach and seeing how fast they could go...
I will admit, his way was more fun, but for sure my way was more PRACTICAL.  Seeing as how I didn't put my children in swimsuits, didn't pack towels, and didn't mentally prepare myself for WET, messy kids, it was a miracle that we left that park with our marriage in tact :)
Thankfully, Carter was not interested at all in being on the sand or in the water so he stayed on my hip. 
However, these free spirits took advantage of the water and ran up and down the beach til one little girl I know was soaked from head to toe. 
Cute, but soaked!!!
Did I mention cute????
 I suppose that's the beauty of marriage and personal growth.  If no one ever did the opposite of what you would do or challenged you to embrace something new, life would be pretty boring. 
 And as Carter and I know well, life with Daddy is NEVER boring :)
He had his sights set on something tonight, but it wasn't the water.  He was more interested in the park and someones soccer ball than getting wet.  Which really was a gift his Mother appreciated.  It was just a fluke I'm sure.  I would be a fool to think he'll do the same thing the next time we go back, but tonight I was grateful for one child who was dry while the other one was not. 
As the sun started to get lower in the sky, we started to hear rumbles of thunder and knew we should head home.  Thankfully we got cleaned up and in the car, just in time to watch a major storm roll in.  Shortly after we left the tornado sirens went off and a big thunderstorm came out of nowhere.  We were on our way home but Trav's craving for DQ got us caught in a hail storm and we high tailed it out of the line to get back in the safety of our garage.
Who knew that a beautiful night like this could turn upside down so quickly?? 
We escaped unharmed, just in the nick of time. 
I can't say we all stayed dry, but only because a sandy beachfront was calling out to two of the four of us! 
We are looking forward to a day off tomorrow and hopefully, some more sun and less rain.  As long as my kids sleep through the stormy night, there is nothing better than falling asleep to rumbling thunder and steady rain. I actually love this time of year and all the storms it brings. 

Hope you have a blessed Memorial Day tomorrow!  I am so grateful for the many men and women who have served and are currently serving to keep our nation free.  We are so appreciative of your sacrifice...Thank you!!!


Busy Children at Play

Wow!  I can't believe it's Friday already.  Since I posted last, Ava did indeed get sick and this week took an unexpected turn.  I was hoping to be outside a lot and back on our tour of parks, but instead we spent most of the week inside, at home.  I think I've seen every movie that my kids love at least twice :) Thankfully, Ava is much, much better and Carter managed to escape the bug she picked up.  I was reminded more than once this week that having the freedom to back out of everything and just be home, really is a gift.  However, it's also a little claustrophobic!  Because Travis has been working a lot lately, he was able to take the day off yesterday and we got some much needed family time.  Yay!  It was a rainy, monsoon-like day here so we packed up and drove to St. Paul for a little adventure. 
 I was too lazy to fix the red-eye in these photos, so try to bear with me and ignore our glowing eyes :)  We have not really explored St. Paul at all in the 6 years we've lived here, so yesterday we hit up one of their famous landmarks, Cosetta's, for lunch.  We had their notorious pizza by the slice, which was good. 
 It's a little hard to enjoy mealtimes with the kids right now, most of our time is spent diverting messes and ensuring that no one chokes on their food!  Ava was more interested in walking around the restaurant and singing, but Carter ate every last bite on his plate, so I think he approved!
After lunch we drove down the street to the Minnesota Children's Museum, which we've been meaning to get to for a long time, and we enjoyed the afternoon there.
The kids were fascinated by everything there and it took all of 30 seconds for them to forget we existed!
Most of our time was spent in this water room where there were tons of activity stations all centered around...water
 For Carter, I do think this represented the high light of his young life.  For a good 45 minutes he played uninterrupted with his two great loves, a ball and the water.
 Travis showed them the bubble troughs, which were also a huge hit.  I seriously think Carter was in absolute shock that he had the freedom to splash and play and get messy, without us telling him no :)
 Ava wasted no time figuring out what the big kids in the room were doing and then trying to jump in with them.  I do have to tell you a funny story about her though.  Do you see that wipe she's holding in her left hand?  While we were leaving to go from lunch to the museum, Ava fell and scraped her knee and her left palm.  Just a couple of tiny scratches but it stung and she was sobbing :) Poor thing, she is not big on injuries!  Anyway, to get her to stop crying and saying "ouchie, ouchie, ouchie" I offered her a wet wipe and told her to hold it on the little cut on her palm.  For some reason, that did the trick and was soothing to her, but for the rest of the day (I mean like the next 5 hours) she held that wipe all crinkled up in her palm and would not let go of it!  She played the whole time at the museum with it, held it on our way home and took it with her for her nap.  By the time she let me open her hand many hours later, her palm was all shriveled, like when you go swimming! Ha ha! 
 She is nothing short of dramatic and entertaining :)
 Carter was wild!  Are you surprised??  He tried licking the water off his hands...
...Until he realized it would just be easier to lean over and drink it!  Ahh!!  Gross!! 
After a near miss in the full-body plunge department, we went looking for a little more protection and got an apron to keep him from being totally soaked.
I adore this picture of him.  The apron, that look on his face, his bubbly hands...He was so stinkin cute!!  And he had the best time.  Who knew a water table would be so fascinating??
 Raise your hand if you can enjoy the museum with a life threatening injury??
The mad scientist hard at work  :)
 I must get this ball in that tube, I must get this ball in that tube, I must get this ball in that tube...
Looking so cute in her apron too!
We had a great time watching them explore and showing them fun things to do.
It was also kind of nice to be able to sit back and just let them play, without having to hover over them.  I am liking some of the perks of this "growing up" thing more and more!
After we weaned them off the water tables, we went to a darling area with a grocery store they loved.
Ava checking out, wipe still in hand :)
And Carter clearing the shelves of all their canned goods.
He's learning from his Uncle Dave how to stockpile I guess??
Happy with his purchases!
And he's off...

We had a great afternoon together, just watching our little cuties play and being thankful for these slow days when a museum still holds appeal and we can all go home for a nap. 

I hope your Friday night is a great one!  I cannot believe it's Memorial day weekend???  Where did May go???  I'm excited for some more family time and the sunny weather that is in our forecast. 
 Have a wonderful weekend!!