Category: Book Reviews

The Book to Read When Your House is a Hot Mess

Once upon a time, before I had a cute hubby and a gaggle of kids, I was a really tidy person. Everything in its place and a place for everything? Oh yes indeed.

These days? I just can’t keep up.

I tell myself that a messy house is the necessary byproduct of fun and creativity and love. And I can believe it for a couple days.


But soon the adorable lovey dovey cards and paper bag puppets and castle cardboard boxes suddenly transform, and where I once saw creative exploration, I now see trash and chaos. My blood pressure starts rising and my brain feels like it’s going to explode.

It’s real weird.

I get a huge burst of energy and immediately begin tidying and cleaning like I’m on 2x speed. When the muttering under my breath begins, Jake and the kids recognize that the end has come. Jake rallies the kids and family clean-up begins.

The other day I was telling Jake that if we had less stuff, I’m SURE we’d have to tidy less. Jake wasn’t so convinced. He told me that we’d probably be tidying less in about 15 years when we no longer have 6 people living under one roof.

Good point.

Nevertheless, I’ve been reading up on the art of tidying. And who else would I go to than Marie Kondo, who wrote a bestselling book on this very topic a couple years ago called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. She shocked the world with the preposterous idea that the key to keeping a tidy house is to have. less. stuff. Everything should have a place, and everything you own should bring you joy.

Spark Joy

Recently, Kondo published a follow-up book called Spark Joy: an illustrated master class on the art of organizing and tidying up. In this book, she gets into the details of HOW to declutter and then organize every part of the house, as well as teaching us to recognize what brings us joy.

The key to purging is knowing what to keep and what to get rid of. For the KonMari method, the secret is this: hone your sensitivity to joy. 

Do you have some clothes that you wear, but always feel uncomfortable or self-conscious in them? Get rid of them.

Do you have 6 ice cream scoopers, 3 pizza slicers, and 8 wooden spoons? Keep what you need (one of each?) and get rid of the rest. It will bring you joy to open your drawer and not have to dig through a gazillion utensils to get to the one you need.

Is there a sweatshirt you own that is SO UGLY, but you love wearing it? Keep it! It brings you joy.

After figuring out what items to keep and what to get rid of, Kondo equips readers with detailed methods of storage, organization, and folding.

She gives detailed descriptions and pictures of how to fold everything- regular shirts, shirts with decorations, tights, socks, UNDERWEAR for goodness sake.

She also offers some great advice on all the miscellaneous items that we have no idea what to do with. My personal trouble spots include jewelry, papers, and toys. I can’t seem to get a wrangle on a good organization method for any of them. Here’s what I learned:

Jewelry but no jewelry box? Place in dividers inside of a top drawer.

Papers? Discard everything. If you haven’t looked at the papers in several years, you’re probably not going to ever again.

But toys? Ah ha. She doesn’t offer a solution;  she only calls attention to the fact that toy organization is truly complex.

Spark Joy has given me some great ideas on how to tidy up, and has given me the  encouragment I need to give away some old clothes, throw out a crate full of magazine articles (organized by theme, of course), and think more broadly about what kind of home brings me joy.

The truth is, a home that’s full of the people I love brings me joy. Even if they are a bit messy.


God’s Justice {A Bible Review}

Last year Jake and I attended the Justice Conference in Chicago for our 10 year wedding anniversary. This is where I first learned about this justice-oriented, soon-to-be released study Bible, God’s Justice: The Flourishing of Creation and the Destruction of Evil.

God's Justice Bible review

This NIV (2011) study Bible was written by an international team of scholars (headed up by  Tim Stafford, Senior Writer for Christianity Today) that aims to help readers to recognize the theme of God’s justice woven throughout the entire Bible. Each book starts with an introduction, and study notes are provided throughout each book, adding a scholar’s commentary surrounding the various justice themes.

The contributors to this study Bible care about helping readers understand that each part of the Scriptures is written differently and hence needs to be read and studied differently. First Samuel should be read in a different way than Isaiah or Revelation. While many of us love the Scriptures and desire to read and respond to the Scriptures faithfully, most of us aren’t equipped with the necessary tools we need to read without unknowingly misunderstanding or distorting the text. (more…)

How to Slow Down in a Busy World {a Book Review}

I’m busy. You’re busy. We’re all just really busy.

It was predicted that our society would now be at the point where we would be working 20 hour work weeks and enjoying the extra time with our family and friends.

Turns out we’re working more hours than ever. And even for those who don’t work outside the home, they not only take care of their children all day, but are putting in long hours of work after kids are in bed to supplement the family income. See ya later free time- it was nice to know you!

Alli Worthingto feels the crunch. She’s an author, speaker, blogger, and Executive Director of Propel Women. She’s also a mom of 5 boys. *Gulp* (more…)

Review: Longing for Paris


Sarah Mae is a mom that many of us can relate to.

She loves her hubby and her kids like mad. But sometimes being around them all day, day in and day out, makes her feel like she’s GOING MAD! These are the times she dreams of heading to Paris and drink deep of all of the wonderful art, food, history and overall culture.

I think many of us have our “Paris” — a place or situation that has captured our curiosity, even maybe as early as our childhood– that we “go to” when life feels mundane. Australia. Disney World. The Mountains. The Beach. Some of us are super lucky that we get to GO to those places, but others of us are stuck only dreaming.

longing for paris (more…)

Whatever is Lovely: A Coloring Book for Reflection and Worship {REVIEW}

For the past week or two, my family has been on the road, visiting family just outside the flood plains on Missouri. While on vacation, things are a bit more lax. Kids get a bit more screentime than normal. They eat a little bit more and a little more junkier than normal. And since I’m not at my house and don’t feel the pressure of “doing one more thing” when I have some downtime, I also take the opportunity to color a lot more than normal :).

This morning, Ada, Anaya, and I spent an hour or two sitting around Grandma’s kitchen table, coloring in our new coloring books while hanging out with Grandma and Uncle Brycey.

One of my new ones is called Whatever is Lovely: A Coloring Book for Worship and Reflection. It’s my first worship-themed coloring book, and I really like it!

whatever is lovely


Every Little Thing (A Grown-Up Coloring Book Review)

I have always loved coloring.

Smurfs. Strawberry Shortcake. Lisa Franke. I even had a Vincent Van Gogh coloring book that I bought at the art museum in my early 20s when grown-up coloring books wasn’t even cool yet. #trendsetter

Every Little Thing Coloring Book

Every Little Thing is a fun new coloring book by Payton Cosell Turner, an acclaimed artist, designer, and owner of Flat Vernacular.

If you’re not into that industry, you probably have never heard of her. That’s totally fine. I hadn’t either.

The pages are kaleidoscope-patterned so it kinda feels like you’re coloring funky wallpaper. Lots of hand drawn animals and vegetation fill the pages, but they’re paired with funny objects. Alligators and radios. Cats with cell phones and calculators. Panda bears with pinwheels and gumball machines.

While I totally would not want this wall paper up in my house (sorry, Payton), I do like the uniqueness of it. And while it’s not my favorite coloring book out there, it fits a unique homegrown style.


I received this book from Blogging for Books for my honest opinion. 


Blessed are those with the comfort of answers


I used to think my spiritual maturity was directly related to the amount of answers I had.

It was junior high when I walked down a green-carpeted center aisle to say “I do” to Jesus. I had invited a lot of my friends that night to the youth night revival at my church, knowing they really needed Jesus. I got ‘im instead.

I’m a learner by nature, and so the Bible quickly became my primary textbook for life. I learned that it was the ultimate handbook, and by golly, I never knew a handbook or textbook that I couldn’t master. (more…)

My Personal Spiritual Formation Reading List

It’s here. The last day of #write31days. Whew. I have 11 months to recover :).

For real though, this process has been HARD, but I’m so thankful for a supportive husband who has let me sleep in late nearly everyday because I’ve been up until midnight nearly every night this month working and writing. I’ll be sure to return the sleeping-in favor to him as he soon begins his 2 week prelims. Whew.

For the last day of 31 Days of Soul Searching, I just wanted to take it easy and share a list of soul-forming books that are on my “If I ever get 2 weeks of uninterrupted reading time, these books are what I’d read” list.

In no particular order:

  1. Two Steps Forward
  2. The Gift of Being Yourself
  3. The Sacramental LIfe
  4. Simplicity
  5. Just Spirituality
  6. Life Together in Christ
  7. Margin
  8. Praying Upside Down
  9. Faithful: A Theology of Sex
  10. Forgive Us: Confessions of a Compromised Faith
  11. Eternal Living
  12. The Inner Voice of Love 
  13. Sacred Parenting
  14. Spirit Led Parenting
  15. Undone
  16. Spirituality in the Mother Zone

What books about any area of spiritual formation are you looking forward to reading??

Winning, Losing, and Why My Mom Stopped Playing Games With Me

Today I’m over at Play Eat Grow, sharing some thoughts on Lysa Terkeurst’s new children’s book, Win or Lose I Love You as well as answering some questions on what it means to teach and shape our kids’ hearts as it relates to the Scriptures.



“I Win!!!”

These two words can create chaos out of calm in 5 seconds flat.

I must admit- I’m a recovering sore-loser. I still remember playing Hi Ho Cherrio as a kid with my mom, and totally losing it when I lost. SO MANY TEARS. My mom eventually told me that she wouldn’t play any more games with me.

And she didn’t for several years.


Read more: Winning, Losing, and Why My Mom Stopped Playing Games With Me

Review: Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith


Every evening over the past several weeks, I’ve spent the last 15-20 minutes of my night reading Sarah Bessey’s new book, Out of Sorts. To be honest, it’s been my “treat” that I look forward to at the end of the day for finishing my #write31days post. Because you all, this is hard work.


It’s common knowledge that I’m a big fan of Sarah Bessey’s writing. My Practices of Mothering gave me the freedom and permission I needed to lean into gentle parenting. Jesus Feminist gave me the courage to take the next step in my blossoming egalitarian views. Out of Sorts gave me the companionship I needed to walk with confidence in this whole “sorting out” of my faith. (What can I say? I’m a needy person).  (more…)