Counted With the Stars

counted with the starsIt has been a bit of time since I read any Christian fiction, but since Connilyn Cossette’s Counted With the Stars came free in the mail, I gave it a try. I was pleasantly surprised.

This is the story of Kiya, an Egyptian woman, during the time of the Hebrews captivity and exodus (found in the biblical account in Exodus).



Things I loved about the book:

  • I love the chosen context. I have never read a novel written from the perspective of an Egyptian during the plagues and exodus. I especially enjoyed reading the fictional conversations with Moses – they helped me to imagine a bit more of what things were like.
  • This book also came at a great time for me personally, since I have been reading through the book of Exodus in the Bible.


  • The plot was a bit far-fetched at times, especially the romantic bits.

What is going to stick with me:

  • The picture of God as invitational to all people, regardless of race or background.

*I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.


Rising Strong

Failure. Vulnerability. Courage. These are hard things to write about. (And I’m not going to try!) Brene Brown, does a wonderful job, however, in Rising Strong. (She also wrote Daring Greatly, which I blogged about here.) She has done a ton of research, but her writing is highly readable and full of stories.

Rising Strong My biggest take-away from this book was her description of the stories we tell ourselves vs. the reality. (We think someone is mad at us, and they just have a headache.) Now, this concept is not really that new to me. However, Brene shared a story about herself that has already shaped several conversations I’ve had. In a conflict with her husband, Brene uses the phrase “The story I’m telling myself is. . . .” as a way to start the conversation. Then her husband is able to tell his perspective, which is completely different than the story she had told herself. I love how this phrase can make it {slightly} easier to take the step of vulnerability and start talking about difficult things.

How do you find time for reading?


I’ve been getting this question a lot recently. I usually hee-haw around a bit, and then stammer something about “when the kids are happily occupied.”

Here is a more thought-out response:

1) If I manage get up before the kids, I try to read for 5-10 minutes. I take a loooong time to wake up, and reading helps me enter my day gradually (and happily!)

2)  During baby girl’s nap and while big brother is reading books on the couch beside me, I’m able to get in about 30 minutes of reading. I used to try to get work done during this time, but I realized that I needed a rest AND David is more motivated to look at books if I’m also looking at books.

3) After the kiddos go to bed, I’m occasionally able to get a chapter or so in, but recently I’ve been freezing green beans during that time.. .. Maybe in the winter I’ll be able to read in the evenings again!.)

4)  Sometimes, if the kids are both in the living room playing, and I’ve gotten a good bit of my “work” done for the day, I allow myself a bit or reading. I have to be careful, though, because sometimes I can become too engrossed in my reading, and then be annoyed at my kiddos for being kiddos.

5) I’ve started to skim a lot more. And I’ve gotten more picky about what I’m actually reading. This helps me get through stacks of books, but then I sometimes go to my book club and blankly stare as people talk about a scene that I must have skipped over.

6) My house is not as clean as my mother’s. My garden is not as weed-free as my father’s. And I don’t take my kids out and about as much as some of my friends.  This all leaves more time for reading. Haha.

Herbs, Opera, and Malcolm Gladwell

I’ve been reading a strange mix of books recently. Here are several ones I’ve enjoyed:

homegrown herbs  Homegrown Herbs by Tammi Hartung. All about growing, harvesting, and using herbs. I’m diving into the world of herbs and loving it; my uses for herbs have expanded beyond the occasional culinary use.  This library book has been a great reference.





medicinal herbsRosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs. Such a non-threatening introduction to medicinal herbs. Rosemary (did she change her name to make it an herb???) organizes the book well and uses easy-to-follow language. I’m already making my list of herbs to plant next year.




bel cantoBel Canto by Ann Patchett. This novel is responsible for my strange journey into the world of opera. After picking up my books from the library Josiah asked, “What’s up with opera?” I really don’t know. Sometimes new interests pop up in unexpected places. I will add that Bel Canto, though gripping, does contain some elements that some readers may not feel comfortable with (sexuality and a little violence). I did find it to be a fascinating story of the power of music in a hostage situation, making me dream of alternative ways to peace and cooperation.



tippingpointThe Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell.  I’m gradually working my way through all of Gladwell’s books; I love his research and story-telling.







Yes, I Still Read (and Blog)

Life has been rich and full this fall, and I’ve let blogging fall to the back corner. I’m ok with that. Here are some books we’ve been into recently:

the pearl that broke its shell


The Pearl that Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi. Afghani-American Hashimi tells the story (ficitional) of two different Afghani women.  If you enjoyed Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, you may want to check it out.





richard scarry best storybook


Richard Scarry’s Best Storybook Ever. David loves everything Richard Scarry, and I’m happy that my childhood copy of this book is getting heavy use 25 years later. I do think it is the best storybook ever.





read aloud rhymes for the very young


Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young – Jack Prelutsky.  David and I sit down to read one page, and get up twenty minutes (and 50 poems) later. I love poetry when I don’t have to dissect it, and I’m glad that he seems to enjoy it too. I snagged this copy at a library book sale. A win for everyone.

Summer Reads

I’ve read a lot of duds this summer. But since I don’t blog about those, I thought I’d share some of my recent favorite reads.

the nesting place  The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful by Myquillin Smith. This has been a wonderful inspiration for me as I work at turning our new (old) farmhouse into a home. I love how it is not just about decorating – but about the heart behind it. Smith also blogs at





gladwell_david and goliath  David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell.  I laughed, I cried, I stopped to read interesting things aloud. . .and I even found surprising connections to my Anabaptist faith. I guess I should have seen that coming.





the-invention-of-wings-sue-monk-kidd_t580 The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that Kidd based this captivating book around the life of abolitionist Sarah Grimke.






notes from a blue bike Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World. I enjoy Tsh’s style, and although not everything was a terribly new idea to me, I did enjoy Tsh’s thoughts on education and travel with children.






kitchen table counseling Kitchen Table Counseling: A Practical and Biblical Guide for Women Helping Others by Muriel Clark and Shelly Volkhardt. This is a non-academic read on the art of informal biblical counseling. I found it helpful as a I continue to ponder my vocation, while taking a break from counseling at the local pregnancy clinic.





divergent Divergent by Veronica Roth. I love being a part of a book club because it exposes me to many new books and genres. This is an example of a book I never would have picked up myself. I enjoyed it.

Bread and Wine

I cannot believe that I read this entire book on my phone, small screen and all. But it was that good – Shauna Niequist‘s Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes.

breadandwineshaunaniequist I love food – cooking it, eating it, talking about it, reading about it. . . This was just a super-fun read about food, hospitality, and life. Shauna shares glimpses of her story, and some of her favorite recipes. I love how she combines funny stories and faith and delicious food. I want to try her Mango Chicken Curry, Bacon-Wrapped Dates, and Blueberry Crisp – don’t you?

Power Tools Will Not Scare Me

I’m afraid of power tools. I like all of my ten fingers.  However, ever since watching my dad create things in his shop during my childhood, I have been fascinated with wood, and creating things with wood. Even though I have made several projects (with a LOT of assistance),  I lack the “can-do” attitude in regards to wood that I have in other areas of my life.

I’m determined to change this. I found a book to help. Of course.

handbuilt-home  The Handbuilt Home,  written by Ana White, is full of wood projects made by women. (Now, men can make these projects too, but I was particularly excited to see projects that other women made. Part of my lack of confidence goes back to my assumption that wood is a man’s thing.)

Ana White runs a great blog as well — check it out here:  — but what I love about the book is its organization and projects.  For each project, Ana identifies what level of skills you need, the general price range, and how long the project should take. She has beginning through advanced projects and they are all beautiful and practical. I think I will start with a picture frame or gallery ledge. . . but I can always daydream about the child-sized adirondack chair and farmhouse picnic table.

I also picked up the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Woodworking from a thrift store for a buck.

Although these books are very cool, I know that the people around me will probably be the most help. Thanks in advance, Josiah and Dad.

If you see me wandering around Lowe’s with a puzzled expression, you know what I’m up to.