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  Each Friday, I'll be writing a short post sharing five (and only five!) ideas with you. Today is one of my favorite topics - books! (This post contains affiliate links, which help pay for this site and its content.) Here are five I want to read this year: Water from My Heart by Charles Martin. I just finished another of Martin's books, When Crickets Cry, and I LOVED it. I don't know how I haven't read him before! I discovered When Crickets Cry when Kindle had ebooks on sale over Christmas break. I paid just a couple of bucks for it, and I could not stop reading it. I stayed up past midnight and almost woke my husband up with my sobs. I won't ruin it in case you want to read it, but good grief. SO. GOOD. Water from My Heart has a half-star higher rating on Amazon than When Crickets Cry, so I can't wait to read it! Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight. This might seem like an odd choice for me, but I love reading stories of people who been successful in their field, and I can't think of a better example...


  We are now a few days into the new year, and I've let the resolutions craze pass. I didn't come up with a list of 20 drastic changes I want to make in this year, and I didn't decide to overhaul my entire lifestyle in one fell swoop. I've done that in the past, and I've always ended up feeling defeated and frustrated. Instead, I'm easing into the new, praying about how I'd like to be different, and asking God to tweak me to be more useful to him. That's it. Sure, I have goals I'd love to see materialize in 2017, and certainly I have habits I want to change, but I'm not falling for the lie that 2017 must be different in every way from 2016. I'm not going to pretend that I have to be a completely different person because it's a new year. I didn't expect to wake up on January 1st and be transformed. A thought that occurred to me as the calendar changed is that while we humans place enormous significance on a new year, God is not limited by our earthly calendar. Our years are days to him, and the stroke of midnight changes nothing about him or...


  My daughter hates it when my husband kisses me. Or hugs me. Or dances with me in the kitchen. She huffs in exasperation and always tries to climb between us, saying, "No! My Mommy!" She pushes us apart, rolling her eyes, and is completely disgusted by our physical affection. We think it's hilarious. (So naturally we do it on purpose and make sure she's watching.) I hope it's always like this, with her trying to weasel her way between us as we snuggle and pretending to vomit when we kiss. I'm not sure there's much more I want her to remember from her childhood than that the adults in her house loved each other greatly. My daughter is a child of divorce, and I worry so much about how it will affect her. She was small when it happened, and she and her brother have been incredibly resilient so far. She doesn't remember much from when her dad and I were married, but she's going to remember everything about her stepdad and me. So we're doing all we can to make her memories good ones - including grossing her out when we kiss. I didn't grow up in a demonstrably affectionate family, and I want my kids to...


  In my house live a stubbornly independent 11 year old and a precociously rambunctious 10 year old. Add in two set-in-their-way 30-somethings, and you have a delightful recipe for some conflict. We’ve moved past the days of children flinging their food on the floor and splashing in the toilet for fun, and they’ve learned not to hit and bite, but they’re still kids. And that means occasional disobedience, rowdiness, and talking back. The kids act like kids sometimes, so that means they misbehave. And when they do, I feel exhausted and depleted. I feel defeated and ineffective, and I feel like I still - 11 years later - don’t have a clue what I’m doing. (Don’t ask me where I got the idea that raising children would be picturesque and easy - I grew up in a house with four children, and our lives were never reminiscent of Mary Poppins. I guess I thought my unrivaled mothering skills would raise children who were practically perfect in every way.) On the days my children do and say things I’d rather them not, this is what goes through my mind: Um, for real? Have they not lived here their entire lives? Do they think the rules...