The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

no.1 ladies detective    Apparently I’m really getting into mystery novels. I thoroughly enjoyed Alexander McCall Smith’s The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. Set in Botswana, Smith tells the story of Mma (aka Precious) Ramotswe as she sets up her detective agency. The novel features one overall mystery, as well as smaller problems that Ramotswe solves.

Things I love about this book:  fascinating (and humorous!) characters, clean light mysteries, and the faraway setting.  I do like the fact that there were smaller mysteries; this made it easier for me to set the book down when I needed to.

One thing I wonder about. . . Alexander McCall Smith is not from Botswana – how accurate is his portrayal of life there?  I didn’t catch anything “wrong,” but then again, I’m not from Botswana.

Daring Greatly

daring greatly I just finished listening to Brene Brown‘s Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. I think I want to read it again, for myself. It was that good. I don’t want to miss anything. 6 a.m. is a little early to be listening to an audiobook.

The problem with Audiobooks is that I can’t flip through them to refresh my memory. I can’t pull out any quotations or summarize terribly well.

But, I will say that reading this book caused me to re-examine my own battles with vulnerability and shame. Brown writes of courage. And oh, how I’m growing in courage. I’m trying new things (knitting for starters). I’m meeting new people (hard for me as an introvert). I’m not shrinking away from hard things (taking my toddler and newborn to the grocery store).  I have by no means, however, become courageous all the time. I still hide from difficulty and social awkwardness and the possibility of failure.

Brown‘s work encouraged me to continue to walk in courage, to acknowledge my vulnerability, and to stop hiding from myself and my life. I love how she shares from her research AND her personal life – making the research more palatable, and normalizing my experiences.

Check out her TED Talk on Youtube about vulnerability here.



The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

Encyclopedia Brown books were my first mystery books as a child, followed by Nancy Drew in elementary school, and then John Grisham novels in junior high. I really don’t think I’ve read many mysteries since then, so I was delighted when I discovered Alan Bradley’s The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. I don’t enjoy gory details or vicious murders, so this book suited me well.


I love the fact that the narrator, Flavia de Luce, is an 11-year-old girl. And, although the mystery does involve a body in her family’s cucumber patch, I could handle the drama.   I’m delighted to say that I was unable to figure it out ahead of time – I hate when mysteries are too predictable!  I actually listened to it, and the reader was British, so perhaps that also added to my fascination. I see that Alan Bradley has written several other Flavia de Luce novels, so I don’t think I’m done yet!

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?

Orange is the New Black

I had thought that Audiobooks were kinda silly – why would I listen to a book when I could read it myself?  Well, that was until I began nursing my newborn for several hours each night. Audiobooks and podcasts have helped me not feel so bored or lonely at 3 a.m.

orange_is_the_new_black_book This was a fascinating book: Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison by Piper Kerman. I’ve worked with some people who were in and out of prison, but I’ve never really asked about their experiences. Piper’s story was incredibly gripping.  I should note that there is quite a bit of profanity if you’re sensitive to that sort of thing.

After listening to Piper’s words, I’m curious about other people’s experiences in prison. I know that the system is pretty broken, and this book reminded me of yet another area in our world that needs transformation.


Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands

For much of my life, I’ve toyed with the idea of getting more training in counseling. Now is really not the time for me to pursue any sort of formal education (new baby, buying a farm), so books will have to suffice.

instruments I recently finished Paul David Tripp’s Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change. It is a large book, and not necessarily easy reading (I could not read while feeding a baby or playing with a toddler), but so so insightful. I do want to read it again, or at least read through all the parts I underlined.

Tripp shares stories from his experiences as a professional counselor, as well as strategies for people involved in personal ministry. The thing I love most about this book is that it is not just written for professional counselors, although they may find it helpful, but for all Christians – since we are all involved in relationships with each other.

Reading with a Newborn

davidandrubyRuby Joy arrived and she has been such a gift to us! We are obviously still adjusting to being a family of four. For me, this means adjusting to a strange sleep schedule with a lot of late-night-feedings. Besides listening to podcasts and just snuggling with my baby girl, I have enjoyed reading on my phone with the Kindle app. I’ve been reading through Kristen Welch’s Don’t Make Me Come Up There: Quiet Moments for Busy Moms. I think at some point in the past year I had snatched up the copy while it was free.

dontmakemecomeup Kristen is hilarious. She blogs at We are THAT Family.  I don’t understand how she gets into so many predicaments as a mom! As she tells her stories, she connects them to her faith walk and what Jesus is teaching her. Each story snippet also includes a Scripture verse and brief prayer. And the best part – each chapter is short enough to read while I’m waiting for Ruby to finish burping or filling her diaper.

Toddler Books About New Babies


Well, baby girl will be arriving any day, so I thought I should do one more quick blog post before I take a [blogging] break.

Here are 6 books about new babies that I’ve either read to David, or plan to read to David:

Waiting for Baby  Waiting for Baby by Rachel Fuller.




what-baby-needs     What Baby Needs by William Sears.




new babyThe New Baby by Mercer Mayer




big brotherI’m a Big Brother by Joanna Cole




GodGaveUsTwoGod Gave Us Two by Lisa Tawn Bergren




You and MeYou and Me by Rachel Fuller


The Art of Neighboring

Some of you may know that Josiah and I recently purchased a farm, and will most likely be moving before summer. This is an interesting time to be reading a book about neighbors, but I did just finish The Art of Neighboring: Building Relationships Right Outside Your Door by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon (it was on my book list for 2014).

Art-of-Neighboring  I loved reading all of Pathak & Runyon’s stories from their experiences with their neighbors. They shared the good, the bad, and the ugly, along with some tips & suggestions.

Perhaps the thing I found the most refreshing was their focus on motives. Christians can sometimes start connecting with people with a sort of hidden motive of “converting” their new friends. Pathak & Runyon have this to say: “In short, you need not make your neighbors your ‘pet project’; make them your friends. You simply need to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, strength, and body, and love your neighbor as yourself.. . . The goal is to faithfully tell your story, God’s story. Then listen to their story and ask God to lead you” (p. 116).  The pressure is off – for you and your neighbors.

I’m looking forward to getting to know my new neighbors. It’ll be a little different. . . more farmers and less families. I’m thankful for how David often breaks the ice and helps my introverted self initiate conversations. :)


Your Own Big Bed

Bedtime has been interesting around here lately. At one moment, David is excited to sleep in his toddler bed, and we can hear him saying “I’m a big boy” as he’s settling down. 5 minutes later: “I don’t want to sleep in my bed. I want my crib!” And back in his crib he goes, and we wait again for another night.

I ordered a bedtime book, and even though after one reading it has not changed David’s mind, I thought I’d still share it here. I love the beautiful story and illustrations.

yourownbigbedYour  Own BIG BED by Rita Bergstein.   Bergstein compares how animals grow up and humans grow up – being carried by their parents turns into taking their first steps, etc. And then, just as some of the animals get too big for where they sleep/live, children get too big for their cribs and need to sleep in a bed.



I know that David will not be sleeping in a crib when he is 10, so I guess we’ll keep patiently working at this. . .