what i’ve been reading + learning {Sara’s bookshelf}.

Lara-Casey

a week ago, i posted the following on Instagram:

At first, summer vacation for me meant catching up on sleep and Netflix and house projects and yes, finally enjoying play time with my kiddos during the day. But now, just 2.5 weeks in, summer has become a time for me to chase after what matters {reconnecting with my love, playing with my littles, reading books I’ve been meaning to read, making our home work hard for us, sending up prayers I’ve been meaning to say, letting go of tears I’ve needed to shed, offering apologies that are long overdue}, not what doesn’t {Netflix – or any television, for that matter – as well as spending time unintentionally on social media}. I am devouring book after book on my list – I’m on no. 4 since summer began for me – and I’m finding so much joy and life in the words of others. I will share more about what I’ve been reading on the blog soon, but for now, a taste of #Margin by Richard A. Swenson, a book that is full of jewels of wisdom and truth: “[God’s] love validates our worth and, as a matter of fact, provides the only basis for it” (268). How freeing it is for me to know that I {and you!} are worthy to the only One who matters! I’m so thankful for this today, and I hope this truth warms your heart, too. xoxo

and today, i’m here to share what i’ve been reading + what i’ve learned.

in the few weeks since my summer began, i’ve read Design Mom: How to Live with Kids: A Room-by-Room Guide by Gabrielle Blair, Margin by Richard A. Swenson, Make It Happen: Surrender Your Fear. Take the Leap. Live on Purpose by Lara Casey, Happy Handmade Home: Painting, Crafting and Decorating a Cheerful, More Inspiring Space by Elsie + Emma, the beauties behind A Beautiful Mess, and Let’s All Be Brave by Annie F. Downs. all of these books have awoken something within my heart + i can’t wait to share these nuggets with you!

from Gabrielle Blair’s Design Mom: How to Live with Kids: A Room-by-Room Guide:

Bedrooms, to us, are meant for sleeping. Our only requirements are enough space for a bed and a place to put clothes, with a bedside table and a lamp for late-night reading. Our kids’ bedrooms house a few toys and a few books, but the majority of these things are stored in the family room and the living room . . . We like it when the kids come out of their rooms and spend time with the family, and that’s more likely to happen when all of the “stuff” they’re interested in isn’t located only in their bedroom. My advice? Dedicate your bedroom to all things bed, from sleeping to napping to daydreaming. The less there is to do in the bedroom, the easier it is to lure the young ones out, which creates more opportunities for positive family interaction in the shared living space.

the bedrooms in our home {click here to see a current glimpse into our home} are all quite small, and our boys’ shared bedroom is even more so, since there are two littles living in there. thus, we’ve taken this philosophy to heart in an effort to keep the bedrooms in our home tidy + to encourage family interaction in rooms that allow more space for us to congregate – namely, our kitchen, our living room + our family room. my husband and i both had televisions and/or computers in our bedrooms at some point during our growing up days, so i wonder how we’ll handle the idea of a bedroom being reserved for “all things bed” when our kids are older?

from Richard A. Swenson’s Margin:

Even when I feel inferior, even when I have been victimized, even when the pace and pressures of life bring me to the point of collapse, Christ brings me to His rest. When my surrender is completed and His yoke is accepted, then my soul will find rest. And it is imperative, in such an age as ours, that we rest spiritually.

Swenson goes on to distinguish Sabbath rest {rest that occurs one day per week, on Sundays} from spiritual rest, which he terms “surrendered rest”:

The Sabbath rest is a rest He calls us to, but the surrendered rest He offers to us. The Sabbath rest we enter out of obedience, the surrendered rest we enter out of our need. The Sabbath rest arises from the good and perfect law of God; the surrendered rest arises from the good and perfect grace of God. The Sabbath rest is remembrance [see Deuteronomy 5:15]; the surrendered rest is meakness. Both provide soothing, God-ordained healing.

Swenson makes this differentiation to show the importance of creating margin, or space, for rest in our lives. for me, rest has always been something that i’ve felt guilty for taking; in particular, i’m a person who needs a generous amount of sleep per night, so i’ve been known to bow out of social functions or quiet time with Jord in favor of sleep. but, Swenson’s thoughts about rest and its importance helped me to feel inspired to shed this guilt and to embrace my need for rest, primarily because rest is something that Jesus provides for us: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 NIV). thank God for this!

from Lara Casey’s Make It Happen: Surrender Your Fear. Take the Leap. Live on Purpose:

Following Him frees us from chasing perfect. Following Him frees us from a life going nowhere. Following Him gives us a clear life-giving purpose — to love Him and serve others so they know that love, too.

Casey continues by laying out God’s purpose for our lives:

God’s purpose for us is painted in every letter of the Bible, and it can be summed up in this: love God and serve people. He has given us all different gifts, talents, and resources to use for carrying out this purpose. God’s purpose for us is the big-picture vision; goals are our action plans to carry out that vision, using all He has given us.

you may know that i’m a huge fan of all things Lara Casey, particularly because she’s so gracious in sharing her heart and in helping dreamers like me to make things happen with her Powersheets goal-setting program. because i’ve steeped myself in all that Lara has to share on her blog, i didn’t expect to be so moved by her book, but goodness, i was. her book has helped me to think of goal-setting, something that my to-do-list-loving self has focused on for many years before my first set of Powersheets landed in my hands, as something that can be divinely inspired, something that can bring God glory. each day that i awaken, i want to, as Lara says, “keep reminding myself to set goals that fuel His purpose, not my own gain or what someone else says is a worthy pursuit.”

from Elsie + Emma’s Happy Handmade Home: Painting, Crafting and Decorating a Cheerful, More Inspiring Space:

Reorganizing cabinets and making new space for hard-to-store items is such a rewarding way to spend an afternoon.

these girls speak my language! my favorite of their ideas for kitchen organization: using locker baskets {like this one} to corral seldom-used items in the kitchen {vases + liquor, i’m looking at you}.

from Annie F. Downs’ Let’s All Be Brave:

Seeing other people be brave makes you want to be brave, too. That’s why you’ll see rational adults going down a loopty-loop waterslide even if they don’t want to, because they want to show the kids it isn’t scary. It’s a domino effect. That’s why we have to start. It’s why we have to go first. It’s why we have to be brave — so that others will be inspired to be brave as well.

oh, this spoke to me. as i reflected long ago, i was one of those rational adults who put on a brave face while going down a slide, simply because i knew that my biggest boy was watching me. but the thing is this: i didn’t take it to the next level. stay with me here; Downs continues:

Because you are making a way for them, saving them some pain that your bloodied arms prove is real, and honoring their footsteps by providing a clear path. Never forget as you step forward with your life that you are a trailblazer. Someone is watching. It’s the walking in front of. It’s the standing beside. It’s the trudging behind. We do this because we aren’t alone in it. Even if you don’t see others watching or standing or following, they are there . . . Seeing you be brave may be all they need to be brave. That may be all it takes.

sure, i was brave in that one moment for Lionel, but am i brave in other moments – as much as i can be – for him, for Quincy? am i brave for Jord? am i brave for Jesus? as i’ve learned from Lara Casey above, setting goals that honor God and serve others is worth striving for – and it takes bravery to do that, i’m convinced.

if you’ve made it this far through this post, thanks for reading. it’s been a joy to share with you what i’ve been reading + thinking about these first few weeks of summer! i’d love to hear what words you’ve been mulling over lately – care to share in the comments?

one more thing: i want to share what’s up next on my reading list!

next, i’ll be diving into L. Elizabeth Krueger’s Raising Godly Tomatoes: Loving Parenting with Only Occasional Trips to the Woodshed {a recommendation from Lara Casey + a gift from Jord for Mother’s Day!}. i’m also dusting off a devotional that I purchased long ago called The Message SOLO: An Uncommon Devotional.

{image above from Lara Casey}

About Sara

Sara works in higher education, but she's most proud of her role as a Mama to two precocious boys, Lionel Conner, age 4, and Quincy August, age 2. In honor of turning 30 in 2016, she pierced her nose to "keep her young." She loves watching guilty-pleasure television, writing about motherhood, decorating her first home, sipping red wine with her husband Jordan, and chasing after her sons.
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