What’s On Your Mind?

Are you ever just overwhelmed with concerns? Maybe you can’t sleep as your thoughts rattle around like the mop head in the dryer. Should I buy that supplement? How can I help that person who’s struggling? What will I make for dinner if those mushrooms went bad? Did I ever cancel that subscription? Oh, I forgot to research how much water dahlias need! How did I come across in that conversation? Is that guy spraying poisonous bug spray in the street? *Cough*

Honestly, I wasn’t even sure where my prayer notebook was when my mom shared how she was re-committing to a journaling idea for the summer.

Since I was feeling a little overwhelmed, I decided to join her.

It hasn’t been long, but this daily practice already helped shake me out of spiritual drowsiness and increased my desire for intimacy with God. I look forward to this time each day! I’ve found myself opening my Bible more throughout the day, when before I would have reached for my phone.

God invites us to, “Pour out your heart before Him” (Psalm 62:8).

Six Things

First, open your journal and write down three things you’re thankful to God for. This causes me to reflect and acknowledge the worth of the King. It’s worshipful. What gifts of grace did He shower on me? Often, my “three things” are prompted by a Scripture text I just read and hope to keep dwelling on.

Maybe, if it’s at the end of the day, you can write three ways you saw God’s goodness bestowed anew. As it becomes a habit, you’ll search and expect to see God’s character displayed in your ordinary routine.

“O children of God, seek after a vital experience of the Lord’s lovingkindness, and when you have it, speak positively of it; sing gratefully; shout triumphantly.”
— Charles Spurgeon

The second part of the journaling challenge is simply to write down three things that are on your mind. What’s troubling you? What’s keep you from sleeping, or causing you to fret? Talk to God about them.

“Are you weary, are you heavyhearted?
Tell it to Jesus,
Tell it to Jesus;
Are you grieving over joys departed?
Tell it to Jesus alone.” –Jeremiah Eames Rankin

The Lord has listened patiently over the last few weeks to all that’s been on my mind. All of it. He doesn’t mind when it gets repetitive, as one heartcry keeps surfacing to the top. He’s there for the prayers about supplements, about financial decisions, about the dinners. He is intimately acquainted with all our ways, and works in all the details of our days — big or small.

“Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” –I Peter 5:7

Writing six little prayers like this (or any other format) will help us “seek God earnestly” in a dry and weary land where there isn’t any water! My soul is satisfied when I cast all the cares and complaints on Him. Then I can truly just rest in Him and enjoy giving Him praise.

Little Women Quote Quiz

I love this picture of all the copies of Little Women! It represents friends who gathered together to discuss and laugh about the contents of great literature.

“The year is gone we still unite,

To joke and laugh and read,

And tread the path of literature,

That doth to glory lead.”

–Louisa May Alcott

Can You Guess Which Character Said It?

  1. “I know what I mean, and you needn’t be statirical about it. It’s proper to use good words, and improve your vocabilary.”
  1. “In spite of their demonstrative manners, American girls are very nice when one knows them.”
  1. “What has that boy been about? Don’t try to shield him. I know he has been in mischief by the way he acted when he came home.”
  1. “”Then we’ll go and eat up all the raisins.”
  1. “You can go through the world with your elbows out and your nose in the air, and call it independence, if you like. That’s not my way.”
  1. “Money is a good and useful thing, Jo, and I hope (you) will never feel the need of it too bitterly nor be tempted by too much.” 
  1. “She’s got such a soft heart, it will melt like butter in the sun if anyone looks sentimentally at her.” 
  1. “Highty-tighty! Is that the way you take my advice, miss?”
  1. “No, don’t lounge, it makes me nervous.”
  1. “I want a great many crumples of this sort put into it today.”
  1. “This unassuming style promotes study, that’s why we adopt it.” 
  1. “Rather a rough road for you to travel, my little pilgrims, especially the latter part of it. But you have got on bravely, and I think the burdens are in a fair way to tumble off very soon.” 
  1.  “To my friend and neighbor Theodore Laurence, I bequeathe…my clay model of a horse though he did say it didn’t have any neck.”
  1. “So the poor night is to be left sticking in the hedge, is he?”
  1. “There was no one to bring the horse to the saddle, so she took the saddle to the horse.” 
  1. “Tell me please! I like to know all about the – the boys.” 
  1. “What’s the use of looking nice, when no one sees me, but those cross midgets?”
  1. “I don’t believe fine young ladies enjoy themselves a bit more than we do, in spite of our burned hair, old gowns, one glove apiece, and tight slippers that sprain our ankles when we are silly enough to wear them.”


  1. Amy 2. Kate Vaughn 3. Mr. Laurence 4. Demi 5. Amy 6. Marmee 7. Jo 8. Aunt March 9. Amy 10. Meg 11. Laurie (speaking about his haircut) 12. Mr. March 13. Amy 14. Mr. Brook 15. Jo 16. Jo 17. Meg 18. Jo


— What’s a favorite quote/scene from the book?

–What are threads/themes throughout the book? (I. e. Pilgrim’s Progress, the discussion of money)

–How do you relate to the characters?

–How do the characters change through the course of the book?

–Do you agree that Laurie and Jo weren’t right for each other?

–What is the underlying worldview? What are the Marches’ religious views? What is the perspective of their current events/young America?

–Any facts about Louisa May Alcott you want to share?

Either Way, We’ll Be All Right

I went back to some timeless favorites of mine! Life’s too short not to read the best.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Every time this story just grips me, and I can’t put it down. It’s just a profoundly layered and thought-proving story. The intrigue mixed with the heavy topics are lensed with the wit and bluntness of a child… an excellent novel.

For The Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay

This book (written by Frances and Edith Schaeffer’s daughter) was my first exposure to Charlotte Mason. I certainly agree with the author in that we should cherish, nurture, and enrich children in their education. Our culture will press anything the opposite of good, and we must be intentional to feed children’s minds and souls with goodness and truth. It’s nothing short of a war to do so.

The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery

I’ve reviewed this book on the blog before, so I’ll just say, this is an easy read with mystery and beautiful writing.

Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan

This based-on-a-true-story takes place in a little Norwegian town during the winter of 1940. Nazi troops captivated Peter’s village. No one wanted the Nazis to get ahold of the country’s hidden nine million dollars in gold, knowing they would only use it to progress the killing of innocent lives. The Norwegian children would play a part in smuggling it to safety one sled-load at a time…before the spring would melt the snow.

Becoming Free Indeed by Jinger Duggar Vuolo

I’m grateful Jinger told her story. She is one of the Duggar kids closest to my age, and I used to wish I could know her better. Her testimony magnifies the importance of Scripture and the understanding of its context, application, and study. Jinger articulates (with grace) the difference between fear and true faith in the gospel of Christ. Disentangling the truth from the lies rather than “deconstructing.” I would recommend this book to anyone, even if you have no idea who Bill Gothard is. More Bill Gothards will come — they always do. “Be wise as a serpent and as innocent as a dove.” May this book help point people to Christ and His Word!

Either Way, We’ll Be All Right by Eric Tonjes

Eric Tonjes writes “an honest exploration of grief” and eternity in the midst of his wife’s terminal cancer. It’s a serious, thought-provoking read, one that made me grateful for the joys to come. I had the privilege of meeting his wife at a family wedding, and she was resigned that she was dying but wanted to “steward the cancer well.” I think she and her husband both used it to bring glory to God. I love the phrase of strength “either way, we’ll be all right” and want to make it part of my thinking.

Cheaper By the Dozen by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr., Ernestine Gilbreth Carey

This books is rich with vintage humor, fascinating history, and the detailed inner lives of a family with an eccentric Motion Study Expert for a father, and a calm, capable, intelligent mother. (YES, it’s a true story, told by two of the children themselves). Every chapter is a masterpiece. If you’re planning to read out loud to little ears, you’ll want to edit out the language and some subtle references. PS. The movie is not the same thing as the book.

Belles on Their Toes by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr., Ernestine Gilbreth Carey

The sequel to Cheaper by the Dozen, it holds an equal wit and charm. This book features the mother after her husband passes away. She was a remarkable woman.

Teaching to Change Lives by Dr. Howard Hendricks

Some friends and I went through this book chapter by chapter, discussing its principles or “laws of teaching.” It’s a memorable, practical book on impacting others on a heart level. A great read!

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

If you follow me on Instagram, you might have noticed I’ve been camping out on this subject! Some friends and I just held a delightful discussion on the layers of this story. HOW FUN. I’ve also been reading a biography on Louisa May Alcott which brings out a whole different dynamic to the author’s behind the scenes (I know more than I ever wanted to know about the Alcotts now). The characters in Little Women are so likable and so appropriately flawed. FIVE STARS times a hundred. I’ll post the character quote quiz I made for the discussion here on the blog — one of my favorite parts of the book is the witty, realistic dialogue.

Time Saving Mom by Crystal Paine

This book is simple and plain, but Crystal claims the principles work, and she would know! I especially liked her reminder to write things down and “habit stack.” She has a great way of organizing her priorities, too.

This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence by John Piper

John Piper has some great thoughts in his book, not just about marriage but — about hospitality, about roles, about singleness, about children and about the church. I appreciated Piper’s words on this aspect of purpose in marriage: “The meaning of marriage in relation to children is not mainly ‘Make them,’ but ‘Make them disciples.‘ … Marriage is not absolutely for making children. But it is absolutely for making children followers of Jesus.”

The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank

I’ll never forget the first time I read this when I was about Anne’s age . . . the diary just stops. I didn’t know what happened to her until that point. This account is harrowing, but her writing is beautiful. This diary makes me all the more grateful for God’s grace, and that I’ll never have to go through anything like WWII without His presence. It also reminds me of the hopelessness of striving to be good without Christ. A heavy and fascinating read.

And now I’m ready for something light and humurous again. Ideas?


Corrie’s family holds a glorious party at their clock shop in the first chapter of The Hiding Place. They had no idea that they “in the place of memories were about to be given adventures. …Adventure and anguish, horror and heaven were just around the corner.” Nazis Germany invaded, and the Ten Booms’ faith proved genuine. Casper Ten Boom, when warned about the dangers of his underground work, said, ““You say we could lose our lives for this child? I would consider that the greatest honor that could come to my family.” I hope these 10 other quotes (almost all from The Hiding Place) encourage you as much as they’re encouraging me.

1. “Do you know what hurts so very much? It’s love. Love is the strongest force in the world, and when it is blocked that means pain. There are two things we can do when this happens. We can kill that love so that it stops hurting. But then of course part of us dies, too. Or we can ask God to open up another route for that love to travel.” –Casper Ten Boom

2. “In darkness God’s truth shines most clear.”
— Corrie Ten Boom 

3. “Some knowledge is too heavy…you cannot bear it…your Father will carry it until you are able.”
— Casper Ten Boom

4. “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”
― Corrie Ten Boom

5. “There are no ‘if’s’ in God’s world. And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety – let us pray that we may always know it!”
― Betsie Ten Boom

6. “Mama’s love had always been the kind that acted itself out with soup pot and sewing basket. But now that these things were taken away, the love seemed as whole as before. She sat in her chair at the window and loved us. She loved the people she saw in the street– and beyond: her love took in the city, the land of Holland, the world. And so I learned that love is larger than the walls which shut it in. ”
― Corrie Ten Boom

7. “And our wise Father in heaven knows when we’re going to need things too. Don’t run out ahead of Him.”
― Casper Ten Boom

8. “No pit is so deep that He is not deeper still; with Jesus even in our darkest moments, the best remains and the very best is yet to be.”
― Corrie Ten Boom

9. “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you.”
―Corrie Ten Boom

10. “The blacker the night around us grew, the brighter and truer and more beautiful burned the word of God.”
― Corrie Ten Boom, The Hiding Place

25 Things I Learned In My 20s

I’m deeply grateful for the layers of discipleship I’ve received from my parents, my siblings, my grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, my Sunday School teachers, my college professors, my husband, my husband’s family, my church family, my friends, and my co-workers. What a gift it is to know an “abundance of counselors” (Prov. 11:14).

We’re teaching all the time in how we live our lives, and I’ve learned so much from people who probably didn’t even know they were teaching. Here are 25 things I’ve learned and maybe can encourage another young person.

1. God’s Word brings balance. I’m not that old, but I’ve seen “movements” pendulum swing, as individuals major on the minors or deconstruct their faith entirely. Safeguards and correct alignment come from diligently studying the Bible over time. The more time you spend in the Word (and understanding how to rightly handle it in context), the more balanced spiritual maturity you’ll have. Lord, keep us humble and aligned with truth! 

“For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.”

Acts 20:27

2. This statement is true: “What if the passage you study today is preparing you for a trial ten years from now? Study faithfully now, trusting that nothing is wasted, whether your study time resolves neatly in thirty minutes or not” (Jen Wilkin). Learn how to study the Bible.

3. College isn’t necessarily for everyone, but gathering up as many skills as you can with your spare time will equip “your tool belt” with gifts to offer others. And truly it is, “More blessed to give than to receive.”

4. Two impactful books I read in my 20s — Just Do Something (Kevin DeYoung) to demystify decision making.  Also The Transforming Power of the Gospel (Jerry Bridges) to help you understand how we can conquer sin.

5. Save all the money you can, even if you don’t know what it’s for yet. A house? A car? A wedding? A trip of a lifetime? Even if you don’t know, just SAVE!  

6. Don’t ever assume because someone is in the same context as you that you agree on all the heart issues. Always be gentle, don’t haphazardly vent about random topics, not knowing the struggles and temptations your “like minded” friend may have.

7. Don’t say “I could never” say “What can I do?”

8. Ask for advice. Wise people don’t usually give advice without being asked.

9. “You don’t have to feel like it in order to do it” (Alison Lumbatis). Do the next thing, and motivation, and perhaps even momentum will follow.

10. Cooking is not a mathy, strict rule-following thing; it can be art! But learn as much cooking science as you can to build a foundation for your creativity.

11. Health knowledge can seem like a fascinating, overwhelming bottomless pit, but at the end of the day, the best things for you are free. Going outside, moving, drinking water, even praying. Trusting God and living in confession of sin will impact your health. 

12. Love people deeply but hold them loosely.

13. You don’t have to finish reading a book you’re not enjoying or benefiting from — it’s not a moral issue.

14. Long-distance dating is very hard, but certainly worth it.

15. Childbirth is truly amazing. So is motherhood and marriage. 

16. “Acknowledge God in all your ways and He will direct your path” (Proverbs 5:6). ABSOLUTELY TRUE, and I often thank God for directing my path, even away from what I thought was best at the time.

17. The gospel never gets old. It’s like a diamond ring, you can examine and admire it from all angles and in all different lights. 

18. Your family culture and heritage is something to be appreciated, observed, and learned from. Respect and learn from the different sub-cultures of other families, too.

19. Have an “easy come, easy go” mindset when it comes to possessions. That way you’re not upset when something breaks.

20. Read The Hiding Place every few years.

21. Use teacups as much as possible.

22. “What’s ordinary to you is magic to someone else” (Brian Dixon). Never underestimate how you can learn from a variety of people and how things you may think are obvious are profoundly impacting others.

23. As opportunity arise, travel as much as you can, and let it sharpen what you can bring to home. When you can’t travel, read about faraway nations in missionary letters and books.

24. “We often (conveniently) judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions.” Instead, be gracious. 

25. Boldly speak truth to your own heart. Be one who, in Christ’s strength, “walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart” (Psalm 15:2).