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

2022 Book Review Haul

Here’s a haul of some brief, spoiler-free book reviews on the rest of my reads from 2022 (see part one here). I hope to —

1) help my own mind process and reflect on what I’ve read 2) perhaps recommend something that would be of interest to you 3) hear your thoughts on these books and 4) practice writing.

The Harvester by Gene-Stratton Porter

The Harvester is written by one of my favorite American authors (she wrote Laddie which I adore). This one was slow and just rather weird to me. Henry talks a lot. He’s also lonely living in Medicine Woods where he harvests plants for medicine, so he sets out to find the woman of his dreams, with a specific face in mind (what could go wrong?) It’s old-fashioned and sweet, just didn’t quite hold my interest.

Side note: I have to tell you a cool story of how I own this! I was at a garage sale in my neighborhood, holding a few old classics from a sale a few houses down. The sweet lady hosting a sale noticed my old books, and then we started talking books. She said, “Have you read Gene-Stratton Porter?” I said yes! She asked in I had read The Harvester, and then proceeded to go inside. Upon her return, she GAVE me one of her hardback copies. They’re not in print any more.  

Everyday Faithfulness by Glenna Marshall

Excellent book for a baby believer OR a long-time Christian who just needs the reminder of the profound power in ordinary, every-day faithfulness! We don’t drift toward being prayerful, Word-filled, obedient women. It’s convicting in its pure simplicity and practicality. “Everyday faithfulness requires patience and fortitude that’s desperately dependent upon God’s own faithfulness.” –Glenna Marshall

“To forego the habits of prayer, Bible reading, and church involvement until life is less chaotic will mean that a large portion of our lives is spent largely without attachment to and dependency upon Christ. And one could argue these are the years we need him the most!”
― Glenna Marshall

Heidi – by Johanna Spyri

It had been many years since I read Heidi, and my nostalgia about cheese and goats returned. I love the feeling of actually frolicking in the Alps. The way the color like fire spills across the peaks! “Then Heidi told him of the mountain with the great snow-field, and how it had been on fire, and had, turned rosy-red and then all of a sudden had grown quite pale again and all the color had disappeared.” –Johanna Spyri

Dear Daddy-Long-Legs – by Jean Webster

I read this rather recently but I like enough to put it in a rotation, I guess. A lonely orphan is chosen to go to a boarding school. She writes frequent letters to her secret sponsor. Her education and creativity unfolds in her letters as she pours out her heart over the course of years, but the secret sponsor never writes back! You’ll have to read it to know what happens. This book was first published in 1912. The author’s sequel “Dear Enemy” was a top-10 bestseller in 1916 in America.

Anne’s House of Dreams – by Montgomery

Isn’t it so satisfying to finally have Anne and Gilbert together, building their home in Four Winds Harbor? It’s too sweet! The parallel tragic love story of the gorgeous Leslie Moore (one of Anne’s first friends) adds mystery. There is a lot of weighty realness to match Anne’s whimsical dreaminess in this story. A paradox.

Anne of Ingleside – by Montgomery

And then, our Anne is a mother of five, and growing more sage all the time. Although, she does fall for a sad little misunderstanding with Gil. This book details many childhood incidents and plenty of gossipy neighbors who stop by to drink tea (and spill the tea).

Rainbow Valley – by Montgomery

This was my first time reading this one. The stories about Anne’s five children gave great background for my favorite, most well-read book in the whole Anne series . . .

Rilla of Ingleside – by Montgomery

Rilla is a bit self-absorbed and much the baby of Anne’s family. This story is how a world war shapes her into a woman with responsibility and character. The love story is pretty cute and humorous. It’s packed with WWI history too, thanks to Susan (the hired help and family friend) who is up to her eyeballs in politics and opinions. But wouldn’t we all be, when the headlines are impacting your own sons and brothers? Another book with layers of great grief but beauty, poetry, humor and courage.

The Last Bookshop in London – by Madeline Martin

This is a simple, sweet, wholesome story. For that, I praise the author. We need more books that are charming and innocent! The main character truly cared about doing what was right.
I give it three out of five stars because of the lack of depth in the characters and plot. I think I was just looking for a book with more layers. It may be that I prefer to read my WWII stories by the people who lived them.

The Mysterious Benedict Society – by Trenton Lee Stewart

So strange, but so captivating. I like the Encyclopedia Brown vibes.
I may have to read another one in this series, but for now I need a little break. A voracious reader would eat this up!

Peace Child – by Don Richardson

Prepare to be reminded about the depravity of a godless culture. But then be inspired by the lengths God will take to offer the gospel to every corner of the earth. I was challenged by Don’s faith in the midst of hardship and unfamiliarity. Indonesia is a place I’ve grown to care about, through having friends who are serving there. Don died in 2018, and as of then, there were approximately 275 tribal language groups in Papua and only five have a complete translated Bible.

Prince Caspian – by C.S. Lewis

I believe this is my second favorite one in the series. The plot is just so well done because the stakes are high (the destiny of all lies on the fate of one). BUT the Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe still outshines the whole series in my opinion. However, I love the faith analogies in Caspian.

“You have listened to fears, Child,’ said Aslan. ‘Come, let me breathe on you. Forget them. Are you brave again?”
― C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian

“Go and wake the others and tell them to follow. If they will not, then you at least must follow me alone.”
― C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian

All Creatures Great and Small – by James Herriot

This is about a vet in the 1930s serving in the English countryside. I grew interested in these books after watching the new PBS series (beautifully done). Each chapter is a work of art, with writing that paints a clear picture. Just notice his creative and strong verbs. He’s funny, too. I’m not an animal person or a medical person, so I have to squint my eyes (it’s a thing) at the gory animal procedures. But all the people dynamics make up for it. *Note, these books have language.

All Things Bright and Beautiful – by James Herriot

The sequel to All Creatures, I enjoyed listening to this one on Scrid. The actor from the PBS show reads it aloud, so the Scottish accent gives it flavor. Both books are almost like a collection of short stories, each chapter resolves with a punchline.

Jane of Lantern Hill – by Montgomery

Aw, I loved this one! A sad story made happy on the shores of Prince Edward Island. Jane lives in Canada with her manipulative grandma and sweet but easily-influenced mother. She doesn’t realize her father is alive and wants to see her. A transformation takes place when she begins the life-giving endeavor of making a house a home and mending relationships.

Framed! – by James Ponti

Framed! is about 12-year-old Florian Bates who has such a keen eye for detail, that the FBI enlists his help (as long as he is finished with his homework, his mom says.) I think middle graders would enjoy this, and maybe even learn a thing or two about reasoning by paying attention to super small details, like Florian and his pal do.

Suffering Is Never for Nothing – by Elisabeth Elliot

Having Elisabeth Elliot encourage you through trials while you clean up the kitchen? I recommend it. It’s a privilege to hear her wisdom. I’ll leave you with a few quotes from this book (which is actually an audio transcript of some sessions she gave):

“Do the next thing.” I don’t know any simpler formula for peace, for relief from stress and anxiety than that very practical, very down-to-earth word of wisdom. Do the next thing. That has gotten me through more agonies than anything else I could recommend.”
― Elisabeth Elliot

“You either believe God knows what He’s doing or you believe He doesn’t. You either believe He’s worth trusting or you say He’s not. And then, where are you? You’re at the mercy of chaos not cosmos. Chaos is the Greek word for disorder. Cosmos is the word for order. We either live in an ordered universe or we are trying to create our own reality.”
― Elisabeth Elliot

“Faith is not a feeling. Faith is willed obedience in action.”
― Elisabeth Elliot