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A Peek Into My Life This Week

Welcome to my weekly Sunday post where we take a break from money-related posts and I share about what I’m loving right now and give you a little peek into our life from the past week.

What I’m Reading

Last week, I finished three books — making my total for 2017 at 6 books finished so far — yay! (I have no idea if I can keep up this reading pace this year, but I’m having so much fun getting back into reading more again!!!)

I finished reading Candles in the Dark — an old reprint by missionary Amy Carmichael. Her writings are some that I’ve loved since the time I was in my early teens. I’ve read this book before, but it was years ago, so it was so good to re-read it.

I also read Grace Not Perfection. In all honesty, I didn’t think I’d like this book. The pictures throughout it just looked so staged and perfect to me that I was all, “How is this a book on grace not perfection?”

Yes, I might have had a bad attitude. But I read it anyway (I’m not even sure why I decided to actually read it with that kind of bad attitude going into it!) and I really ended up liking it and finding a lot of helpful encouragement and practical advice in it.

The author might have beautiful pictures throughout the book, but she doesn’t at all make you feel like she has it all figured out. And there is a lot of wise inspiration in it, as well as heaps of grace!

Finally, I read The Giver for the first time. And you guys, I don’t quite know what to say about this book. At first, I was so frustrated by the ending. That’s it?!?! No! There has to be more!

And then I had to ponder and ponder over the book. I couldn’t get it out of my brain. What am I missing? Why is it haunting me?

The more I pondered, the more I really started to love the book and the powerful way it reminds us that without pain and suffering, we can’t experience emotional connection or truly feel at a deep level. If we took all of the pain away from the world, it would also take away so much depth and the ability to experience life in full color.

I wished I would have read this book with a book club. And I totally understand why some people love it and some people don’t like it at all. Have you read it? If so, I’d love hear your thoughts on it.

This week, since I finished books from my bookshelf from three different categories, I’m letting myself have the freedom until February to read other books that I recently got that were not in my original stack. Answers to Prayer (an old Christian reprint), A Trip Around the Sun (a spiritually encouraging book), Settle for More (a story-driven book), and Thirty Chic Days (a book on life improvement).

I’m hoping to finish A Trip Around the Sun and Settle for More. I’ll let you know how that goes next week! {See my Reading Goals for 2017.}

What I’m Listening To

This week, I was excited that MacKenzie had a new podcast episode and I loved the episode!

It’s on Cultivating Your Mother Culture — which is probably only a term you’ve heard of if you are familiar with Charlotte Mason and/or Karen Andreola.

You can read this post by Karen for more on what the term means. I especially loved this quote from her post: “Mothers should cultivate their souls so that in turn they may cultivate the souls of their children.”

And I loved what Brandy and MacKenzie talked about on the podcast: That as moms, we should be reading, studying, thinking, and learning so that we can always have interesting ideas to discuss with our kids.

That’s one reason I love to read. Not just for my own personal growth, but so that I have interesting ideas and questions to discuss with my kids, too!

What I’m Loving

This picture makes me all kinds of happy. He’s worked SO hard this year to master reading and his hard work is paying off!! He started the school year barely reading 3-letter words (despite multiple years and reading curriculums, it just wasn’t clicking) and read the entire Are You My Mother? book to me this week with almost zero help from me!!!

I love that he wants to read to me and he’s finding so much joy in it! (He was reading so intently that he didn’t even notice I was taking a picture. But I just couldn’t help myself.)

These are the moments we mamas treasure in our hearts. (I also love that he’s sporting dirt on his jeans, because, of course. ;))

I got this beauty out earlier this week… after months of keeping her in the closet. I’ve missed her so much and can’t believe I let her just sit there untouched for that long. And now I want to take up lessons again!!

The girls decided that they want to learn a song on their guitar and ukulele to play together with me. They’ve never acted interested in playing with me before, so suffice it to say that my week is MADE!

(For those who don’t know, I used to be a violin teacher and much of my teen years was spent practicing, teaching, and performing violin.)

One of my favorite things to get in the mail is notes from readers. This note came sharing how I inspired reader, Anna, to start her own business selling pure luxurious handmade soaps. She also generously sent me a bunch of handmade soaps from her brand-new Etsy shop. My kids were SO excited about their little mini soaps she sent and I’ve been loving using the soaps every day!

You can follow her Facebook Page here or check out her Etsy shop here.

What I’m Watching

This week, I loved watching this first video in a 3-part video series from Style and Styleability on designing a wardrobe you love.

My husband and I also watched another episode of Poldark. We have four more episodes left in the season and we are trying to make them last as long as possible! 🙂

I also watched some football with Silas, the girls and I watched a Disney movie one night that turned out to be a total dud, and we watched Left Behind for our family movie night.

(The kids had never seen Left Behind before, so it definitely opened up the door for lots of questions, thoughts, and discussions on different viewpoints Christians have on the End Times. We like to present viewpoints we don’t necessarily agree with to our kids and let them ask questions, think for themselves, discuss it with us, and come to their own conclusions.)

What I’m Changing

After a long time of having a pattern in what posted on Instagram (quote, b&w photo, color photo), I decided to buck my system and go back to just posting whatever strikes my fancy again.

I made this decision for a few reasons:

1) I was feeling a little constrained by the system I had created.

2) I wasn’t posting as often as a result — because I didn’t always have a good picture for whatever photo was supposed to come next, so I’d just wait to post until I found the right picture.

3) I wasn’t loving how it was looking in my feed — it just felt a little too dreary and cluttered for where I am right now and felt it was a poor representation of the joy and renewed clarity in my heart and life.

So, since I get to be the boss of my own Instagram, I’m going back to eclectic posting. 😉 And it feels good! (If you’re not following me on Instagram, you can follow me here.)

In Case You Missed It

YouTube Videos I Posted This Week:

Posts I Wrote This Week:

What are you loving, reading, watching, listening to, or changing this week? I’d love to hear!

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  • Erin says:

    The Giver is my favorite favorite book! The are three more in the quartet that come after it that you and your kiddos should read. They are so thought-provoking and interesting!

    • Kathryn says:

      Yes, I agree you should read the other 3 books in the series! I really enjoyed the series as a whole, and it all comes together in the very end. I couldn’t put these books down!

      • Laura says:

        I came to say this, too! I learned about the other books in the quartet YEARS after reading The Giver for the first time and read them all just a couple of years ago. They are WONDERFUL. I actually named my cat after the main character in Gathering Blue.

  • Ali says:

    I really liked The Giver. I had the same reaction when I read it…”This is it?!” 🙂 I enjoyed the movie as well. Be warned though, it was difficult to watch the twin scene in the movie.

    • I was wondering what they did with the twin scene for the movie. I’m not sure that I want to watch the movie… still debating on that!

      • Ali says:

        I still think that it is worth watching, just go into it knowing that they did include that scene and if watching with the kids, prepare them for it. Or skip over it 🙂

  • Kimberly says:

    The Giver is one of my all time favorite books! The entire series is very good. Lois Lowry is one of our favorite authors. Whenever your kiddos start studying about the holocaust, I highly recommend her book, Number the Stars. And I know the joy of seeing a child who has struggled with reading finally start putting those puzzle pieces together, too. My son is dyslexic, and he couldn’t comfortably get through simple chapter books until he was 12, but once he got it (after years of intense phonics), he got it.

  • Marianne says:

    I one who loved the Giver. For what happens next you need to read the other three books, although it’s irritating that they go on to tell other stories instead of continuing with Jonas. It does all come together, though. If you want the adult version of a bleak dystopia with an ambiguous ending, check out Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood.

    I also understand the joy and pain of a reluctant reader! Mine is in fourth grade now, and she still has her moments, but I’ve noticed they are much fewer and farther between. Quite a few nights we’ve read right through bedtime because she’s so into what she’s reading. She is also a big fan of Dr. Seuss. I think there’s something comforting about the predictable rhymes and phrase repetition mixed with the crazy imagery.

  • M says:

    I came on here to comment about The Giver also. I have not read the book, but the movie has made me ponder a lot. “Precision of words” is something I’m reminded of when I tell my kids something and I sound so cold. I have to remember to be a warm, kind mom. It doesn’t come naturally. :/ I loved the movie and now I may read the book. I will, at least, add it to my huge list of books to be read.

  • Milissa says:

    I LOVED The Giver…right up until the end. I thought it ended so abruptly…honestly, I was kind of mad about it for a few days. Lol. But after some thought, I decided I really like that book…it’s very thought provoking and I enjoy books that make me think. Also, I’m not sure I would’ve fully appreciated this book if I had read it as a child. I’ve read another Lowry book (Gossamer)…good, not as good as The Giver. I haven’t read the other 3 in The Giver “series”…although it’s my understanding those other books are “companion books” and not “sequels.” Maybe reading them will help me understand the abrupt ending of The Giver?!

    • Jaime says:

      Yes! The other 3 are all connected but you don’t quite get how until you finished them in their order! It takes away that feeling of “Seriously? This is the end??”

  • Lauren says:

    I grew up taking violin lessons as well and haven’t pulled it out in the last 2 to 3 years. Since you’ve been talking about it it’s got me thinking about pulling it out again. Thanks for the inspiration! 🙂

  • Meredith says:

    There are three books following the Giver 🙂 All great!

  • Penny says:

    Yes, the other 3 books will help you make sense of the first. The fourth book may be our favorite.

  • Anna says:

    You should do a facebook live post with you playing violin!!

  • Andrea says:

    I taught MS English for 4 years. We read the The Giver with my 8th graders. They always had the same reaction. I taught at a christian school, so we always got into some awesome sanctity of life discussions. It is a great book to think about how we process everything in life whether it be good or bad. There is no perfect society because we are all born sinners.

  • Sarah says:

    I’m curious… what was the “dud” Disney movie?

  • Tg says:

    I’ve loved The Giver since I read it the first time when I was 12. After reading it 4 or more times through the gears, I was shocked when I was around 25 and found out that there were more books in the series! Honestly, they were interesting, but I didn’t enjoy them as much as the original.

    Honestly, my favorite Lois Lowry book growing up was actually Number the Stars. I’ve read Gossamer as well, and it was good, but not nearly as good as the others. Number the Stars is probably easier reading than the Giver in terms of understanding what is going on, but deals with more difficult subjects (the Holocaust), so I do recommend reading it before sharing it with children, just to be prepared for any discussion that develops as a result.

  • kraesmom says:

    Yep…as mentioned above…read the other three books. I believe the next is “Gathering Blue”

  • Like you, I LOVE to read, but struggle with finding time for it. Lately, I’ve been into coffee table books with beautiful photos. They are quicker to finish and so fun to thumb through. My favorite recent addition is called “Jewish Treasures of the Caribbean” which is a photo history of dwindling communities.

  • Carrie says:

    My family are big fans of The Giver – and yes, do read the sequels, especially the 4th! I read The Giver as a child, and I interpreted it as a condemnation of communism, but reading it as an adult I had different thoughts. Still very worthy of discussion, my family had lots of great conversations about it.

    I think you’ll love Thirty Chic Days. Fiona Ferris is a breath of fresh air!

  • Tia says:

    Would you say The Giver is appropriate for an 11 year old girl? My daughter asked me if she could read it the other day.

    • Hmm, I think it would depend upon the child. I’d recommend reading it first and then maybe processing it with them.

    • Heidi N says:

      Our school curriculum requires The Giver be read in the seventh grade. Eleven may be a bit young to fully grasp the depth of the book but it really depends on your child. I, along with Crystal, recommend reading it first.

  • B. says:

    I’m curious to see what you will think of Poldark after Episode 8. 🙁 My husband and I were huge fans of the show until that episode, and we haven’t watched the show since.

    • After a heads up from a friend, my husband and I are thinking to not even watch episode 8 and just stop with where we are. Ugh.

      I hate it when a good show has to be “ruined” — though I knew that they were following the books and I had heard that they got darker and darker. 🙁

    • Mary says:

      I have the Poldark book on hold at the library. Is this episode 8 that you refer to in season 2? I would like to know because I only would watch that far, if I watch at all. Thanks!

      • B. says:

        It is! Apparently, the scene from the tv show is less disturbing than the one in the book, but it still ruined the show for us.

  • Kaylee says:

    I saw The Giver in your book stack and I was wondering what you thought of it! I read it in middle school and I remember it being one of my favorites, although I’m sure I didn’t grasp all the themes at that age. I read it again recently after the movie came out and also got to see a play of the story at a local theater. The story causes you to think on many deep levels. I’m planning to read the other books in the series.

  • Brenda says:

    Just last night my husband decided to start a movie for the family to watch and it was The Giver. I wasn’t sure what I thought of it at first but somewhere in the middle of it I was thinking “I wish I was reading the book” and then my 13 yo daughter said exactly that. I think we need to get the book(s) now.

  • perigoal says:

    I was also an adult when I first read the book. I was quite a way through the book before I realized that this was a completely fabricated reality (not being able to see colors? really? family units=no act of marriage or at least children resulting from such?), but reading a comment that likened it to a juvenile-level _1984_ really helped.

  • Courtney says:

    The Giver is literally one of my favorite books of all time. I read it in school in 6th grade and absolutely loved it! I still reread it every few years. It just has so many different themes and points to consider/discuss. The ending is a little bit of “…Wait, that’s it?!” BUT I think it’s very interesting. Plus, I remember how we had an assignment to write an epilogue, basically make up our own ending. I think that’s what the author wanted – the reader to decide their own ending.

  • Jennifer says:

    I really liked the way THE GIVER ended. Sometimes simple, abrupt endings are surprisingly rich in meaning (such as the ending of one of my favorite movies of all times, SIGNS).

    As for THE GIVER, the closing scene can be interpreted two ways. Either things are exactly what they seem (which is what I prefer to believe, as there is a measure of hope and happiness that way) or the boy had fallen to sleep in the bitter cold and dreamed those final moments (which, to be honest, seems a little more likely). Though I haven’t read the companion books myself, my older ones have, and they tell me the question of what really happened in the closing chapter of THE GIVER is definitively answered later.

    Of course, THE GIVER provides lots more food for thought beyond the ending. It’s little wonder you pondered it for some time after finishing the book. One interesting topic of discussion is the medications the children were given to suppress their hormones. We are growing up in a culture where such hormonal manipulation is very common. Why is that? What are the risks? What are the benefits?

    Another great discussion topic involves semantics. Word choice plays an important role in making heinous acts seem more acceptable. The book speaks of people being “released.” What analogous language does our society use to make reprehensible acts sound respectable?

    Anyway, it is a fantastic read. Sonlight has so many wonderful titles, don’t they? Many of which I don’t think I would have ever discovered on my own.

  • Sarah says:

    I read The Giver in high school and remember really enjoying it. I haven’t read it as an adult, but I did watch the movie. Of course I thought the book was better.

    I had no idea there was more than one book! I’m going to have to go searching for the others now!

  • Jill says:

    I read The Giver years ago and did not really enjoy it. Then I read Son, not knowing at first that it went with The Giver, and loved it. So of course I had to go back and read The Giver and then Gathering Blue, and The Messenger. Please read the other three as well. You will see how Son brings all of the books together!

    • Susan says:

      Completely agree. I was captivated reading Son. This book is a must read after reading The Giver, Gathering Blue, and The Messanger. I read the first three in three days. And finished Son in less than twelve hours.

  • Nichole says:

    Thank you for sharing the link for the Style and Styleability video. This was eye opening for me and I signed up. I’m already starting to re-think my go-to’s after watching the first video and found a scarf (I needed something bigger than a ribbon, so I can’t help but notice it). I read this post after day day 8 of the make over your evening video, so it was blessed timing! I also am looking to go back to work full-time and that same day I had just spent a lot of time at a 50% off sale at my local savers. Wow, talk about God telling me what I need to work on to get me back to being happy with how I dress instead of dressing to my mood!

    I just want to thank you for everything that you share, you are a wonderful women who God put in the right place at the right time. I like your deals, but I love your real life honest posts like this, and your real life action plans that can be taken from your more personal posts. You are one of the few blogs I always say Yes to, and I’m okay with that!

  • Sabrina says:

    I read The Giver 2yrs back when I heard a book discussion of it on the radio, and Gathering Blue which I like for its female perspective on that world. Number the Stars is my favorite! Read that as a kid. I had difficulty with the twins scene but like you, I liked its message on to feel light, color, life and deep emotion, we must be open to pain. For that reason I don’t mind the ambiguous ending, because I see him sliding into a new, if not alternate reality. Lowry meant it to be ambiguous, as she said in an interview afterword in the book I read.

    Periscope: miss you! Silly distracting scope trolls!

    Extended Stay Suites: work great for us!


  • Eva says:

    My tween had to read it in middle school for class and when she told me about it I was appalled that they would be reading something like that in school. She seemed to like it. Then the movie came out and she wanted to see it. I guess I prejudged it without reading it. I will have to reconsider. I’m not a fan of dystopia genres and that’s primarily why I’ve stayed away. Thanks for the positive feedback though!

  • Elissa says:

    I read the Giver a few years ago to be able to talk about it with my daughter and loved it. I know what you mean about the ending, but I thought it was perfect for a tight, short book. Also, it made me think that style of ending is more like the ending of a European movie (a little ambiguous, you have to think about and think for yourself about what would happen next) more than a Western style movie where everything gets resolved in a dramatic climax and all the loose ends are tied up!

  • Victoria says:

    I read the giver as an assignment in middle school, and I LOVED it. A couple years ago I stumbled on the fact that there were 3 more books. I don’t believe they were written yet at the time I read the first ones. They are definitely one of my favorite book sets. Please read the rest of them. You won’t be disappointed.

    • Cara says:

      Yes–to all of the adults here who say, I didn’t know there were companion books!–that’s because they weren’t written when we first read The Giver (which came out in 94). So when The Giver was first written, I believe Lowry did intend to leave it ambiguous–did he make it or not? I admit to liking a definitive answer as much as the next person, but I’m afraid I have to disagree with the recommendation of the other three–they aren’t BAD–but they simply do not live up to The Giver. I’m not sure they ever could, to be fair. The Giver is really seen as a sort-of Founding Mother to all of the teen dystopias that have been written since. (I also am a middle-school English teacher and have taught and loved sharing this book.)

      It is a wonderful book–not just the question of emotions and pain but the importance of memory to a society. It’s funny, I was actually just thinking of this book earlier today–the scene when the children play “war”–as here in New England, we are preparing to “celebrate” Patriots Day–with reenactments of the first battles of the Revolution, and parades featuring kids smiling and waving from the top of real tanks. It’s a shame, as I adore marching bands and baton twirlers, but after the last parade ending with the stream of real military vehicles, I don’t think I can take my small children anymore. (“What’s the matter, Jonas, it’s just a GAME!”)

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