The Reading Report, Vol. 5: October Edition


This month has been apparently not been very good for blogging! I have been busy with other projects, like homeschooling, family fun time, knitting my son a sweater (hopefully, in time for his birthday next week!), and getting to know our new neighborhood! We have visited parks, met new friends, taken lots of nature walks and made weekly trips to our local library! The kids and I have been really enjoying lots of reading time as a result. I finished a few great books this month, and I have started a couple of new ones. Since a lot of my reading time has actually been kid-lit and picture books read aloud to my littles, I thought this month it would be appropriate to add a segment dedicated to some of our favorite children’s books we have read in the last several weeks. I won’t give much commentary on the kid’s selections, but I promise not to put anything on the list that I would not highly recommend reading with your own children!

What I’m currently reading…

Since I finished Little Women, I just had to get Little Men next! I found out about the deal on Audible to get the narration for $.99 after “buying” the free Kindle version and adding Whispersync. I have not gotten very far into the book yet, but I already can tell this is one I want my son to listen to when I am finished!

After waiting a couple of weeks, I finally got Gilead by Marilynne Robinson on hold from the library. This was the last book discussed on Close Reads, and I decided to wait to listen to the podcasts until I had finished the book. Now I get to read and listen at my own pace, which is such fun! I have heard that this book greatly loved by some and strongly disliked by others, so I am looking forward to coming to my own conclusions as I read.

I know I have mentioned reading Triggers before, so I won’t go into much right now. I had set the book aside for a while, but I joined a book club group on Facebook to read the book together, which gave me the little push I needed to pick it back up again. I have not been a good participant in the book club at all, but I have benefited from digging back in and examining my heart in regards to my parenting.

I had heard about The Explosive Child from some parents on a homeschooling forum, and I thought it would be an interesting book to peak into. I have a child who struggles with overcoming frustration and not being very flexible, although perhaps not to the extreme of the illustrations in this book. I hope to find a few nuggets of wisdom and practical strategies to help that child learn better coping skills. I will let you know what I think as I get further in!

What I have finished reading…

It took me several months, but I finally finished listening to Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. I was so accustomed to listening to this book while I was cooking dinner or cleaning the kitchen that I almost felt lonesome when it was over! I loved every minute of this book. I only wish I would have read Little Women earlier in my parenting journey. So much of Marmie’s advice and the accounts of Meg and Jo’s struggles hit close to home for me. I am so glad I didn’t miss this book!

A few people I follow online recently posted about their progress through My Antonia, which was required reading for me in high school. I tried to remember something of the story, but all I could recall was that I didn’t really like this book. Since I could not recall why, and knowing it is a piece of literature that has stood the test of time, I decided to pick it up and see what I thought of it now. Boy, am I glad I did! This was quite possibly the most beautiful book I have read all year! When I finished the last sentence, I just had to put the book (um, my phone) down and soak it all in for a few minutes. Looking back, I can only guess my dislike for the book when I read it as a teen was due to my lack of life experience and perspective. But now, as a woman, wife, mother, friend and traveller, the narrative of My Antonia was breathtaking, poignant and full of truth about life, love and loss. I read this via the Libby app (meaning I borrowed it from my library system through Overdrive), but now I am planning to buy a hard copy to have and read again and again.

Murder on the Orient Express is the newest read on the Close Reads Podcast, and one of the other “close readers” found an audio version of the book read by David Suchet on archive.org. Since this book is in high demand now that a new film version is coming out soon, I decided to enjoy this free version. I binge-listened to it over the course of a few days, and it was perfectly delightful. I have always enjoyed a good Agatha Christie mystery, and Hercule Poirot did not disappoint!

I also finished Come With Me, and since I described it in the last Reading Report, I won’t go into detail here. But I did enjoy it to the end. I found one minor factual error in one of the last few chapters pertaining to Paul’s life…but overall, I enjoyed and benefited from this book as a supplement to my daily devotions. And now, Suzanne Eller has come out with an actual devotional study book to correspond! So, if you are needing something to rejuvenate your personal time with God, I would recommend both!

Kid Lit we’ve been loving…

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: Just finished this one tonight, and my son was disappointed that it was over. (Always the sign of a great children’s novel!)
Rabbit Hill: I have read a bit of this one on my own just for fun, and my son has read the first chapter on his own. I think this will now be our bedtime read-aloud. It is all about a rabbit family, as well as their other animal neighbors, waiting for a new human family to move into the farm house and garden that has been neglected for a long time.
Mary Poppins and Mary Poppins Comes Back: We listened to Mary Poppins during our car rides over the period of a few weeks, ending with our camping trip in early October. It was a delightful listen on every level. The narrator was excellent and truly brought ever character to life. This one had me and the kids laughing every time! I was happy to find the sequel was also in our library system, so we get to listen to it next.

And that’s a wrap for this edition of the Reading Report! Next time, I hope to get this out a little earlier in the month. I am thinking since I may not have finished many more adult books by then, I will compile a list of some of our very favorite picture books. I was going to include them here, but this post was already getting quite long! Until later, happy reading!

Like A Tree #Write31Days Day 17

Have you ever stopped to think about the growth of a tree? Through bitter cold, blistering heat, blustery wind, beating rain, and blazing sun. Through good years of plenteous rains and lean years of drought. From tiny and tender seedling, to soft and supple sapling, to young and vigorous greenwood, to old and sturdy hardwood. A tree withstands so much. Though its bark and wood may show scars from wounds or disease, with its roots running deep and branches ever reaching toward the sun, a strong tree can heal and thrive. Its branches spread. Its leaves give shade. It brings forth flowers for beauty. It bears fruit, nut and seed to give food to the living creatures in its shade. Its strong limbs offer shelter to nesting birds and squirrels tending their young.

How apt is the comparison in Psalm 1 of a righteous man with a healthy, well-watered tree! I, too, want to grow like a strong, fruitful tree—withstanding every trial, always reaching deep for the water of the Word, ever lifting my gaze to reach toward the Son, and tirelessly spreading my arms wide to bless all those within my reach.

This post is part of the annual 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes Challenge, part of the Write 31 Days challenge with prompts from Five Minute Fridays. Find all my other challenge posts under the tag #Write31Days

Just Try #Write31Days Day 14

Another very late posting of a #Write31Days assignment. Even though I wrote it a few days ago, I still wanted to post this one and let y’all know I am still trying to keep up! My husband had last week off work, so I sort of took the week off from my normal routine, as well, and we had some good family time. But I didn’t do much writing as a result! Here’s to a new week and new possibilities!

“I can’t!” he wailed as his bike rolled to a stop, then drifted slowly back downhill into the waiting bumper—my foot. “Yes, you can, if you will just set your mind to it and try!”

This was the conversation we had several times last week while biking at the hilly campground where our family was staying for a few days. I wish I could say we were gently encouraging the whole time, but after hearing the mantra “I can’t!” whined in our ears a few hundred times, my husband and I definitely lost our cool more than once!

Thankfully, God doesn’t lose it with me when I grumble and complain, drag my feet and wimp out when I feel inadequate and decide “I can’t” do what’s i know He is calling me to do. Instead He is gracious, gentle, and patient beyond compare. He just picks me up, dusts me off and gives me another chance, saying “Try again, love. I know it’s hard for you, but I’m right here, and I won’t let you fall. Just try.”

And when I do, I find Him faithful, every time.

This post is part of the annual 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes Challenge, part of the Write 31 Days challenge with prompts from Five Minute Fridays. Find all my other challenge posts under the tag #Write31Days

Loosening My Grip, #Write31Days Day 7

  1. I never knew I had control issues until I became a parent. Up until that point, I had a pretty tight hold on my schedule and daily routines…when I slept and for how long, when I ate and what I did on the weekends. I was in control of the little details on my life, or so I thought. I planned out my days for smooth sailing, and other than little speed bumps in marriage or finances, things were pretty peaceful.

Enter those predictably unpredictable, dependent and demanding creatures better known as children…and not just any children, but infants! Infants who cried and begged to be fed or changed at the most inconvenient times… Infants who never slept at night but could fall asleep in the car five minutes from home, thereby rendering any attempts at getting them to nap again completely useless… Infants who could cry inconsolably about seemingly nothing, leaving me feeling completely helpless and, yes, out of control. No more nice, neat little weekend plans, no more quiet adult conversation over dinner, and certainly, no more sleeping 8 solid hours in a given night!

My 5 minutes are up, but I have so much more to say on this topic of control and parenting. So let’s just run with it….

You see, these little upsets in my daily routine were just the beginning. Now I have bigger kids who have more independence and responsibility, more room to make their own choices and their own mistakes. I can’t control their choices or their behavior any more than I could control whether or not they had a good night of sleep. Yes, I can guide them and teach them and give them consequences when they disobey or disrespect me. But I don’t control the outcome of these efforts. As much as I would like a neat little plan that says, “Do this and this and that, and your children will turn out to be model Christian citizens,” there is no such formula.

In fact, I am learning that the tighter I try to hold onto my expectations for the perfect day and try to control my children’s behavior, the more chaos and conflict ensue. Instead of trying to wrestle peace and joy into my days by tightening my grasp, I am finding that I must hold all things loosely and let God be the guide. I must release hold of my expectation and selfish desires so that He can fill my hands with His plans for me. And I must let go of the tight hold I want to keep on my children, handing them over to His care because He knows far better than I do how to mold and shape their hearts for His glory. It is a slow, difficult lesson for me, but I am beginning to learn to loosen my hold on control and let God give me what I really need—more of His grace.

This post is part of the annual 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes Challenge, part of the Write 31 Days challenge with prompts from Five Minute Fridays. Find all my other challenge posts under the tag #Write31Days

Trusting the Author: #Write31Days Day 6

I have have been keeping up with the 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes, but not all of them have been worthy of posting for various reasons. I am also writing them all out long hand, which means they are all pretty short. I could probably type faster and write more. But I feel like it is a good exercise for me to have to be very concise since my time is so limited. This post is from yesterday’s prompt, but I only got around to doing it today. We will see if I get any better at staying on schedule next week! 

When I read this prompt, Francesca Battistelli’s song “Write Your Story” immediately came to mind. But then quickly following that thought came the question, “What if I don’t like the plot twists in this story He is writing, this story of my life?” Truth be told, I sometimes have a hard time accepting my role in this story. So how can I learn to accept His plans and trust that it fits into His greater anthology of human history and eternal destiny? It doesn’t do me any good to fight it. He is the Author, after all. I only make myself (and everyone around me) miserable when I try to fight against Him.

I must remember that the Author loves me. He takes delight in me. He is for me. He even says He “works for the good of this who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28, NIV) I know He has called me to be used by Him, so I believe He can use even the hard, broken parts of my story, not just the easy, lovely ones, for His purposes. All I have to do is surrender to Him and let Him write the healing, too.

This post is part of the annual 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes Challenge, part of the Write 31 Days challenge with prompts from Five Minute Fridays. Find all my other challenge posts under the tag #Write31Days

This post is also part of the Five Minute Friday Link-up

How Can We Tell Them? #Write31Days Day 2

Yesterday my son wondered why there was a police officer on duty at the church we attended. Today he overheard a video on Instagram referring to the tragedy in Las Vegas last night. On both occasions I had to tell my son that there are some bad people doing bad things in our world today. We are not even safe at church, perhaps less so, actually. It is so hard to have these conversations with my children. I want to shield them from the hard, scary realities of these times in which we live. But they need to know the truth.

Even more, they need to know the truth that we can still trust God to take care of us, that we can have hope in Him. They need me to tell them the stories of faithful ones gone before us who stood firm in their faith amidst trials. They need me to tell them about the God who parted the Red Sea, who stopped the sun, who raised the dead to life. They need me to tell them about the hope we have in the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Because when hard times come, when evil seems to be winning, that hope is all they will have. And then they can in turn, tell others about that Hope as well.

This post is part of the annual 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes Challenge, part of the Write 31 Days challenge with prompts from Five Minute Fridays. Find all my other challenge posts under the tag #Write31Days.

In Spirit and In Truth: #Write31Days Challenge Day 1

I have been thinking a lot lately about the different ways people worship within the Christian faith. Since moving, and even before that, within the broader Christian homeschool community, I have come into contact with more people who practice their faith very differently than I do mine. Orthodox, Catholics, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, Lutherans, etc., etc., all having traditions, practices and rituals that differ widely from each other as well as from my own Baptistic practices. Yet we all worship the same Savior. We all believe basically one common thing at the end of the day: that salvation comes by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. How we worship is different, but WHO we worship….

HE is the same.

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.  (John 4:23-24, ESV)

This post is part of the annual 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes Challenge, part of the Write 31 Days challenge with prompts from Five Minute Fridays. Find all my other challenge posts under the tag #Write31Days.