Book Review: First Impressions

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A modern re-telling of Pride and Prejudice, First Impressions was a fun read.  Debra White Smith knows how to use words well, although I personally found the re-telling to be a bit too literal in many parts.

More concerning was an undertone of racism toward the end, with some pretty blatant stereotypes of African Americans.

As far as actual story, however, it was light and enjoyable.  The author has several other books that are re-telling Jane Austen stories.

Note: I was given this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for this review.

(Short and sweet review courtesy of newborn + exhaustion)

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The Navigator has Arrived!

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Our wonderful miracle, our little Navigator, made his arrival on April 22. He was 7 lb 8 oz and 21 inches long. Labor was fast and intense but we were thrilled when he finally arrived.

The past two weeks have been nothing less than a blur, but the little guy is fitting perfectly into our family. The Wingman absolutely adores him and he frequently calls him “Brother.” He loves to hold Brother and take care of him.

The Pilot of course is an incredible Daddy and we were able to figure out a good tag-team system for the first couple weeks. He is back at work this week and I am excited to figure out our groove and see what our new life will look like!

When I hold the Navigator close and feel his little body breathing next to mine, it still almost doesn’t feel real. I am so so incredibly thankful for the opportunity to be his mom.

Book List – January to March

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My reading goal this year is at least 4 books each month.  We will see how the new baby affects that. 😉  But I did get off to a strong start!

-January –

Death at Thorburn Hall by Julianna Deering (review posted here)

A Tangled Web by L.M. Montgomery

Fit to Burst by Rachel Jankovic

How We Love by Milan and Kay Yerkovich

Red by Ted Dekker

Open to the Spirit by Scot McKnight (review posted here)

 

-February-

The Love Knot by Karen Witemeyer

The Girl in the Blue Beret by Bobbie Ann Mason

Gospel-Centerd Mom by Brooke McGlothlin

Known Only to God by Martha Cummins Love

 

-March-

A Matter of Basic Principles by Don Veinot, Joy Veinot and Ron Henzel

Hearts Entwined novella collection (review posted here)

The Elite by Kiera Cass

The Beautiful Fight by Gary Thomas

Experiencing Pregnancy After Loss/es

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Today I am 38 weeks pregnant.  It still feels pretty surreal and definitely doesn’t seem real that any day now I could go into labor and we will be welcoming this little boy into our arms!

Each pregnancy after each previous loss has gotten progressively harder.  How do you balance grief and joy?  How do you hold fear and hope together?

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Especially the first 6 months or so of pregnancy, it was really hard to make small talk about our pregnancy.  People would come up enthusing about the baby and I would just smile and try to engage in the small talk.  We were excited.  So excited.  But as my husband said several times…we were cautiously optimistic.  As excited and hopeful as we were, we also were acutely aware of the fact that at any moment something could go wrong.

Pregnancy after loss looks different for different people.  Here are a few ways it has affected us….

-PAL is hearing your 4 year old say many times throughout the pregnancy, “I hope this baby doesn’t die.”

-PAL is calculating your due date and having mixed feelings of pain and joy as you realize this baby has the same due date as your second baby would have.

-PAL is smiling politely when you hear for the umpteenth time that your bad morning sickness is a sign of a healthy pregnancy…when you know that has no bearing on the health of your child as morning sickness accompanied your last two pregnancies as well.

-It is knowing that while most people say you are out of the danger zone at 12 weeks, there really isn’t any safe zone.  Loss can happen at any time.

-It is being afraid that your body’s health issues will once again fight against the precious child inside you.

-It is Googling baby’s weekly development, praying for his body’s development, and also Googling the percentage of babies that survive birth at your week of gestation as well as the risks associated with birth that early.

-It is having the most vivid flashbacks of death, labor, and birth, that will cause panic attacks.

-It’s being 7 months pregnant before you realize, “This might actually be happening!  We might just be bringing a live baby home…and soon!”

-It is those moments when your husband, son, and yourself, all accidentally call your baby by your last baby’s name and then that moment where you just look at each other and remember that that baby is gone.  This is a new baby.

-It is knowing that this baby can never replace the other individual lives lost.

-It is feeling nervous and brave and emotions you can’t even define when you pull out your oldest’s baby clothes to wash and put in the nursery.

-It is choosing to act in hope when your emotions try to pull you down.

-It is moving forward in faith to plan a nursery, to plan a baby shower.

-It is cherishing each day more, loving your children harder, knowing that there is never a guarantee of tomorrow.

-It is looking forward with such incredible joy to the moment that we finally get to hold this little one in our arms, alive and healthy.

-It is knowing that this sweet boy, and all our children, are loved by the Lord so much more than I could ever possibly love them.

Being pregnant again after repeat losses has affected all three of us.  The grief, joy, and trust that we have helped each other through has grown us as a family.

It has been heart breaking to see the Wingman continue to process the loss of his other brother and siblings.  He bonded right away with the Aviator and really had a hard time when he died.  It took him a much longer time to bond with this baby, but it has been the sweetest thing in the world to see him in the past few months as he is getting so excited to meet him!  (Almost every time I have a check-up, his whole face lights up and he says, “Is today the day he’s going to be born??”)

And while the Pilot and I process and deal with things so very differently, it has also been heart breaking and amazing to see him during this pregnancy.  The fear and difference in pregnancy after loss does not just affect the Mom.  It has affected our whole family.

I am beyond thankful for the people who have been praying for us and for the precious boy growing inside me.

I feel strongly in raising awareness for miscarriage and pregnancy after loss.  It is hard to be vulnerable, but the amount of women I have met in person and online who feel as if they have to suffer alone makes it worth it to share.  And I am pretty sure I will never tire of talking about all five of our children.  They are all so incredibly loved and I am so proud of each of them.

Book Review: Hearts Entwined

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Hearts Entwined is a historical romance novella collection.  There are four novellas included….

…The Love Knot by Karen Witemeyer
…The Tangled Ties that Bind by Mary Connealy
…Bound and Determined by Regina Jennings
…Tied and True by Melissa Jagears

I read it as I was looking for a change of pace in my reading, but overall I was disappointed.  It was not bad, per se, just not my cup of tea.  I will say that each novella got progressively better in my opinion, and the last one was probably my favorite.

For a light read, it was enjoyable, with the camel stories and doctor stories, and all sorts of things in between.  But if you are bothered by cliched plot “twists” or romance stereotypes, it’s probably not the book for you.

Note: I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for this review.

Book Review: Open to the Spirit

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A quote toward the beginning of this book summed up why I am so excited to have read Open to the Spirit by Scot McKnight.

“To put all our nervous-about-the-Spirit rationalizations into one tight bundle, we reduced the Spirit by resorting to reason, to intellect, to the mind, to the Bible.  In doing so, we relegated the Spirit of God, the Third Person of the Trinity, to an idea that our superior logic and careful theology made irrelevant.”  – page 6-7

I have long noticed how the evangelical church tends to downplay the Holy Spirit. We talk a lot about God, a good amount about Jesus, but little about the Holy Spirit.

It is a rare thing for a nonfiction book to be a page-turner for me, but this book was definitely that.  McKnight starts out writing about the Holy Spirit as we see in Scripture.  I think most conservatives hear a phrase like “open to the Spirit” and immediately think of speaking in tongues, rolling in aisles, etc.  While he does address similar issues briefly, this is not a book about why one should embrace a “charismatic” lifestyle.  It is a book about the Holy Spirit of the Bible and how we can and should be allowing Him and seeing Him in our lives.

Being raised a Baptist, there were several parts where I said, “wait, really?  Does the Bible really say that?”  And when I looked up the references in context, sure enough….the Bible does say that!  I appreciated how this book drew me deeper into the Bible on such an important topic.

I loved how the author talked about walking in the Holy Spirit as just that….walking.  It is not adhering to any rules.  It is an active thing.

Another good quote…

“At the end of our frustrating conversation, he dropped the mic.  ‘If the Holy Spirit ever left planet Earth, you Baptists would never know because all you’ve got is the Bible.’  He had a point: our Holy Spirit was containd and confined by the Bible.  For us, the Holy Spirit’s role was limited to unleashing what was in the Bible.”  pg 28

All-in-all it was very thought-provoking, very convicting, and very inspiring.

Read more about the author here.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review.

 

 

2018 – The Year of Growth

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Here we are, a month into the year, and I am finally sitting down to write this post that has been sitting in my drafts for, well, about a month.

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The past few years have been incredibly difficult.  I used to always have a word of the year.  A goal word.  Usually that word chose me.  I would just be sitting there, contemplating the year, and a single word would clearly pop into my mind.  Not these past few years.  Unless the word was just “survive.”

So I was a little surprised this year when I sat down to contemplate the year.  First of all, I purchased a Bloom daily planner and I love it.  There are spots for yearly and monthly goals.  They also included a vision board of sorts for the year.  I didn’t know what to expect, but I decided to at least give it a try.  It took a while, to be honest, of just sitting and thinking and wondering about the year.

But finally a few goals came to mind.  A few words inspired me.  I sat in those words until one word seemed to sum them all up.  Nothing super specific.  It’s actually pretty vague.  But it sums it up well.

Growth.

This year I want to grow.  I want to take steps forward.  I don’t want to just survive anymore.

I ended up creating a “vision board” in which I included all the words that were swirling in my mind.  This is my vision for 2018…

…Give grace
….Fearless
….Invest
….Flourish
….Release
….Surrender
….Patience
….Courage
….Gentle
….GROWTH

For a few more specific goals, I knew I wanted to grow in my family relationships, specifically toward my husband and kids.  I also knew I wanted to continue to work toward having a clean, peaceful, organized home.

And as I get closer to another big change coming up in our family, I know I will need to really hold on to a lot of the above words.

I am 27 weeks pregnant with our 5th baby.  While we are very excited, the trauma of what we have been through with our last three children has greatly affected my husband, living son, and me.  I knew I needed to grow this year.  Grow in grief, grow in healing, grow in release, grow in moving forward fearlessly, having courage, etc.

2018 is going to be a huge year of growth.  I am scared, apprehensive, hopeful, and ready.