Online Book Club

Calling all book nerds! If you are 1) a female of the species and 2) interested in reading and discussing some good books via an online book club, contact me by email, phone, snail mail, facebook, in person, etc. and I can send you an invite to my all new book club. It is hosted through Goodreads, a really cool membership-only book site where you can find recommendations, book reviews and keep track of all the books you read. I found it a year or two ago and absolutely love it.

Starting May 1st, we will begin reading Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist. I read and reviewed her book, Bread and Wine, in March and can't wait to read another one of her books. Shauna is a really down to earth writer and writes about everyday situations with clarity and depth. Because I know that we are all so busy and I want to include my out of town friends and family, I am choosing to conduct the book club online. If you join there will be opportunities for you to just go on the site whenever you feel like it and make comments, ask questions, whatever.

If you are interested in joining the book club please email me at amberjam74@yahoo.com with your email address and I will send you an invite. I hope you all come and join me.


Looking for Mr. Darcy

Last night I went with a group of ladies to see a stage-adapted production of one of my all time favorite novels, "Pride and Prejudice." I have always loved Jane Austen even before I discovered her. Let me explain. As a little girl I would dream of the one who would sweep into my life unexpectedly making me fall in love with him and all of the wrongs of this world would be brought to rights. Every Austen novel I can think of follows this pattern and I love them all. Her heroines encompass every girl. You don't have to be the prettiest, the richest, the smartest, etc. to find love and therefore a happy ending.

What really struck me last night was that there were so many different backgrounds and personality types represented in our little group, yet every woman there seemed to float out of the theater. On the stage we saw a young woman who despite her present circumstances and the society which would try to stifle her unique personality and label her by her station in life, found a soul mate in the most unlikely of partners. We walked out recognizing ourselves in some facet of Elizabeth Bennett.

And Mr. Darcy! I have never found a Mr. Darcy that I liked from the beginning of the story. He is slightly unattractive and arrogant. But over the course of the telling he metamorphosized. He becomes vulnerable and likeable and therefore attractive. I never cease to be amazed at the transformation in his character and appearance.

Here is the bottom line for me though. Headstrong girl falls in love with arrogant albeit wealthy man and we cheer for their happiness. We close the chapter on their story and walk away. Young and old girls want that, they want their own Mr. Darcy. The man who transforms before their eyes and loves them for who they really are. But the story doesn't end there.

I think if we could reopen the book and glimpse into the Darcy's lives we could see that they are not that different from us. Those things that drew them to each other can push them apart as well. That lively banter can quickly escalate into full fledged war. You thought the in laws were a little outspoken! They may not have money troubles but what if Fitzwilliam doesn't want to host a ball and Lizzie does. Don't even get me started on the children and what they do to Lizzie's nerves or her waist line.

Life is just that, life. Its what you make of it. Perception can be your downfall or your saving grace. Choose to look at the heart of things, not their appearances. Hold out for those things worth fighting for.


Book Review: Intentional Parenting by Sissy Goff, David Thomas, and Melissa Trevathan

Some books come along at just the right time. I picked up my free copy of Intentional Parenting to review for Booksneeze thinking it would be light reading. As usual, I was wrong. My husband and I feel like we might just have this parenting thing down and then boom one of the kids does something that causes us to pause and rethink our plan of action.

I loved this book because it joined Biblical viewpoints with modern parenting problems. While I know that God’s Word has all the answers sometimes I need a little help in finding them, especially when it comes to parenting. Instead of bogging me down with lists of things I need to change or strive for, the authors loving encourage the reader to seek new perspective in day to day struggles. With practical suggestions and real life applications, you will feel like you can do all things, even raise kids! The final chapter summed it all up by reminding me that God has not just left us with a bunch of rules to follow, but through Jesus He has freed us to live the life He called us to.

This veteran mommy took away so much from this book, I am deeply grateful for and revived in my calling as a parent.

Giving You the Best that I've Got

When I was growing up I remember hearing the grown ups talk about overachievers and underachievers. I knew that because at that season of my life the way that greatness was reached was through academic success, I was therefore in the overachiever category. I mostly got straight A's, except maybe in Math occasionally when I would bring home a high B. The secret was: I didn't have to work all that hard for those grades. They seemed to just come naturally to me. To myself I always really wondered if I was actually in the underachiever category and if I gave just a little effort, maybe just maybe I would be a rocket scientist. However, I was comfortable with my level of exertion. And what about those people that fit into the middle category. Were they happy not working hard but not slacking off either? What was up with them?

In grown up life success is measured with everything but good grades in school. Who cares if you were on the honor roll right? Nice cars, big house, expensive clothes, perfect kids, these are the things we look at when gauging an individual's level of effort vs. success. Realizing that outward illusions of making it don't really reflect the truth, I still battle with the categories overachiever and underachiever, though. To some I look like I have it together and everything is well handled, to others I look as if I'm barely hanging on. To myself, I'm constantly reassessing the situation. Am I working hard enough, or do I need to get on the ball?

God has called us to live excellent lives. He calls us to reflect Him to the world. He commands us to be examples of how He would carry things out on earth. I strive to live a life worthy of Jesus' sacrifice. In that respect, I can try to do it. However, God is all knowing, all powerful, everywhere at the same time. Those parts of Him are beyond my grasp. I remain cynical and distrusting of others when I can't understand their motives. I get tired when I've spent a week at work and then ministering over the weekend. I can only be in one place at a time.

In my struggle to live a wholly holy life before my Father, I spread myself thin. I pour myself out. I fail to remember that He is my source and my strength. He is not asking me to give from what is in me, but to tap in to His Life. There will always be more to do. Even at the end of one task, another is available to complete. I have to remember to go back to the source and refuel, refresh, and refill in order to keep up the race.


The Little Brown Boy Grows Up

Today I did something I've never done before...ever. I became the mother of an adult, a twenty year old man. Gasp! When did this happen? I mean I've been a lot of different kinds of moms. Here's the continuing list:

1) Teen mom
2) Unwed mom
3) Mom of a mixed child
4) Single mom living with her parents
5) Dating mom
6) Married mom
8) Homeschool mom
9) "Your mom goes to college" mom
10) Mom of six kids and of course, 1 kid, 2 kids, 3 kids, 4 kids, and 5 kids
11) Soccer mom (for a short time)
12) Mom of teens
13) Working mom

and the list goes on...

But today I linger with a tear in my eye, looking back down the road we've come with this boy now a man. Happy Birthday Anthony!


Book Review: Fit To Burst by Rachel Jankovic

A few years ago I got my hands on Rachel's first book, Loving the Little Years, and I absolutely loved it. When I saw this new release I couldn't wait to jump right in. The Subtitle of this book is: Abundance, Mayhem, and the Joys of Motherhood. That about sums up parenting in my house. While I have an almost 20 year old son and a senior in high school that I've managed pretty well, I still have a couple of tinies and any parent will tell you that any little bit of help can't hurt.

I love Rachel's writing because as she tells you herself, she has not "arrived." She is still in the midst of parenting her little people and is learning daily how to make it all right. That's how I feel every day. Her books always touch the ordinary things and bring a bit of shine to them with the eternal perspective she brings.

As mommies, we can fall into the trap of the mundane, thinking that what we do is too routine to make any difference. Rachel reminds us that what we do at home counts.



Things are changing around here again. My heart muscles are being stretched and strengthened and expanded. I realize that no matter where my kids go, I will always be their mommy. Stupid realization I know, but when I was younger I actually thought there would come a point when it would be easier to be a mom. Like a goal, an endpoint I could reach for, but now I know I was clueless.

As Tony has blazed this new trail for us as parents, Josh and I have quickly reached a few conclusions:

1) We cry when he leaves for school.
2) We cry when he surprises us by coming home.
3) There is not a day that goes by that his absence is not felt.

That's just the way it is. He is no longer in our direct gaze, but he's always out there on the edge of our peripheral vision. We are adjusting to this new relationship with our son gradually. A few weeks ago we had the pleasure of going on a cruise with Tony, just the three of us along with some friends that Josh performed a wedding for. We shared a cabin on the ship and when we disembarked in Nassau, I noticed it. As a mommy of many, when we go anywhere together I find myself constantly counting the kids to make sure everybody's with us. Here we were and I kept looking around to make sure Tony was safe and still close. He was running all over the place snapping pictures, standing in the middle of the road, hanging off a bridge, lingering behind us in alleys, all the scary things I taught him not to do!

I had to remind myself, "He's a big boy now." I followed behind him noting his broad shoulders and man gait and it hit me: I grew up a man! To me he will always be my baby, but he's a grown man now embarking on his own life. The challenge is no longer to train him to grow up to be good, that goal has been reached. Now, we three, Joshua, Tony and I, must learn to regard each other in a different light. That's where the challenge is to remember that we are no longer training, and we are now free to enjoy him as a friend.
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