a mother’s day garden

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Brandon has been working such long hours lately, working most Saturdays to make some extra income, which is a blessing, but we are definitely feeling the strain of it.  There isn’t a single morning that we have together to just be home with no agenda and have a slow morning.  This past Saturday, the kids and I went and picked out a few plants for a very simple, small container garden for the porch for my mother’s day gift.  Basically, greens, cucumbers, and tomatoes, and a pot of herbs.  The barest of essentials.  I really miss having the space and light at our last house to have more extensive beds.  For now, though, this is about the only spot of full sun we have in the summer.  We planted together late Saturday afternoon before Brandon pulled in from work.  Sunday morning, Mother’s Day, I was still feeling pretty icky from a nasty chest cold I had been fighting, so we decided to stay home from church.  It was the most glorious morning, a nearly perfect Mother’s day.  Brandon let me sleep in (till like 7! haha.  i kept thinking “hurry, go back to sleep!  this is your chance!” and eventually gave up), then brought me coffee and my bible/journal and knitting wip basket.  It was heaven to just stay in bed, linger over the Scripture and not have children clambering over me and asking me questions before my coffee has even brewed.  It didn’t last too terribly long before little curious feet found their way to my bed, but how can you resist snuggling with your babes on mother’s day, of all days?  Brandon made a fancy breakfast and we ate on the front porch by our little garden, with bouquets of peonies placed here and there.  We had another cup of coffee together (well, chai for him), and read, knitted, snuggled the rest of the morning.  My parents dropped by to bring a little mother’s day gift + fresh tulips and we hung out for a bit.  It was such a peaceful day, breezy, sunny and perfect weather.  It was a rare extravagance to have a morning like that after our endless morning bustle lately.  What a gift it is to be a mother to these three little ones.  It really is my favorite thing ever, and their ages right now are so fun I don’t want any of it to change.  The days are long and crazy and tiresome and I usually feel completely pushed to the end of my limits at day’s end, but somehow I still would take it over any other job.  It’s good to remember that when I feel prone to complain.

Books for Mom


Give the momma you love the gift of a good book this Mother’s Day!  If Brandon asks me what I want for Mother’s Day, there is usually a book involved, whether it’s a new one or just time to read one.  One of the things I am asked most frequently here is about book recommendations on varying subjects.  I have a little link on the slide-out bar on the right hand of my blog over there —> called “Recommended Reads.”  If you click on it, you will find my top recommendations on all sorts of subjects related to the things I blog about (family, theology, motherhood, marriage, children, celiac’s disease, etc.).

Since Mother’s Day is just a couple of days away, I wanted to share some of my “momma” favorites with you and some that are on my wishlist this year!  These are some of the books that the Lord has used to profoundly shape me in the last few years.  I believe strongly in the power of a good word at the right time to be greatly effective in helping us, shaping us, encouraging us.  Of course, nothing beats the Scriptures in fueling us as mothers, but sometimes we need the help of another in unpacking and applying the Scriptures.  All of the books listed here will do that for you, all of them rooted in Scripture, all of them gently teaching and guiding and instructing you as a woman and mother in your role.

What the mom you love really wants for Mother’s Day is to know she is somehow doing this well, this motherhood thing. She desperately needs encouragement, hope, biblical support and training. She needs fresh vision. In a world where motherhood is discredited and often discarded, she needs to know that this work counts in the Kingdom of God. She needs to remember why it counts.

When you build up a mother, you are building up the one raising the next generation of disciples. When you build up a mother, you are building up the Body of Christ, you are building the Kingdom. 

  1. Give Them Grace: Dazzling your kids with the love of Jesus by Fitzpatrick + Thompson

This one has helped me so much as a momma who leans heavily toward moralism/legalism.  Grace is still as scandalous as ever for me, dangerous even.  I scribbled these words across the intro to this book: “God wants more for my children than obedience.  He wants to give them more than a tidy life — He wants to give them the Gospel.  He wants to give them grace.”  As Tullian Tchividjian says in the into, “The biggest lie about grace that Satan wants Christian parents to buy is the idea that grace is dangerous and therefore needs to ‘kept in check.’  By believing this, we not only prove we don’t understand grace, but we violate gospel advancement in the lives of our children.  A ‘yes, grace, but..’ disposition is the kind of fearful posture that keeps moralism swirling around in their hearts.”  If you are a momma (or know a momma!) in the trenches of parenting who needs to remember the goal of parenting, who needs to go back to the foundations of grace, this book is for you!  I have underlined and dog-eared it to death.  Highly, highly recommend.

2.  Your Beautiful Purpose: discovering and enjoying what God can do through you by Susie Larson

This one is such a beautiful and practical read, and certainly not just for mothers!  I loved this one from cover to cover and slowly went through the study material in the back of the book, soaking it all in.  Larson’s writing is scripture-saturated and Christ-exalting.  I include this one as a book for momma’s because if a mother were to read it through the lens of motherhood being a part of her beautiful purpose on this earth, it would be quite profound.  This book encourages you to uncover God’s purpose for you and helps with practical things like when to move forward, how to wait on God’s timing or discern His voice, how to walk in your own calling and not coveting another’s, what to do with being criticized, etc.  So very good and helpful and encouraging.  I will return to this one often!

Who we are and what we possess.  These are the two targets the enemy aims for again and again.  If he can get us to doubt, he can trip us up.  If he can get us thinking we’re poor though we’re really rich, we’ll scratch and claw our way through life; and we’ll live anxious and afraid, like we’re without hope.  And if he can convince us we lack something good, he’ll be able to tempt us to live frantic and hurried lives, never satisfied, always wanting more.  We’ll skim life’s surfaces and miss its depths.  We’ll live jealous, me-focused lives and forsake the whole reason we’re blessed: because God loves to love us, and He loves to love through us.  Jesus promises that those who trust Him lack no good thing (Ps.34:10).  These aging earthen vessels carry the treasure of heaven within.  Ponder the significance of that truth every single day.” (Larson)

3.  A Million Little Ways: Uncover the art you were made to live by Emily Freeman

So you know I love Emily, right?!  I got to meet her (!!!) last summer at her book party for Simply Tuesday (another book you should go buy right now).  I met her on the pages of this book and in many ways, this blog was born as a result.  Again, this is not a book that is specific to motherhood at all, but is one I think could greatly encourage the mother who wonders whether her menial and daily work with littles is of any value to our missional God.  She writes to show that all of life can be lived to the glory of God, not just the time we spend reading the Bible or praying.  All of life lived for His glory, even the small and mundane tasks of our day, can be the art that we offer to the world to the glory of God.  You may not see yourself as an artist, I certainly didn’t before reading this book.  But she argues from scripture how God made each of us a work of art, and each of us have an art to offer.  Whether its washing dishes, decorating homes, hammering nails or hammering words on the keys, God is not so small that He is only glorified in what we typically call “spiritual” activities.  He wants to be revealed and glorified in all that we do.  These words are words I will read again probably every year.  She is an incredible writer, and her words set me free and brought so. much. joy.

4.  Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in your home by Gloria Furman

Gloria is basically my best friend, she just doesn’t know it.  This one will always probably be in the very top three of my favorite books on parenting/motherhood ever.  If you knew how much I read, you would know that is saying a lot.  I will read everything she writes.  In this book, she addresses the stay-at-home momma or the working woman, and she writes to unveil how the Gospel impacts our normal, daily, mundane lives.  Does God care about the mundane tasks we perform day in and day out?  How does His grace change the way we do laundry, potty training, bed-making, cooking, grocery shopping, guest-hosting?

For me, this has been my greatest struggle as a parent thus far.  This seeming endless battle to live a pure and holy life before God in even the mundane details of life, and yet this daily failing and floundering.  My heart is so often discouraged and barely feels brave enough to whisper: Is there any purpose in it?  Is there any hope in it?  Can a sin-bent woman such as myself ever live a life that pleases God?  This book answers those questions so beautifully and with a heap of humor.

“Theology is for homemakers who need to know who God is, who they are, and what this mundane life is all about…As homemakers who are made in God’s image and desire to live for God, we need to know what God’s intentions are for us and for the work we do in the home.  More specifically, we need to know: What does the gospel have to do with our everyday lives in the home?  How does the gospel impact our dish washing, floor mopping, bill paying, friend making, guest hosting, and dinner cooking?  How does the fact that Jesus himself bore our sins in his body on the tree so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24) make a difference in my mundane life today?…This book is a description of the distinctly Christian hope of God’s glory and how it relates to the home”  (Gloria Furman)

5. Desperate: Hope for the mom who needs to breathe by Sarah Mae + Sally Clarkson

This one was a mother’s day gift to me a few years ago from Brandon.  It had me at “desperate.”  I found so much practical encouragement for how to run our home, and how to face all the various aspects of motherhood that drive me crazy and bring me to my knees.  One of my favorite aspects of this book is the way it fleshes out the mentoring relationship we crave and should experience between the older + younger generations, as each chapter begins with Sarah writing a letter with a motherhood question to Sally, and Sally’s response.  A beautiful and easy read that has stuck with me and shaped my parenting since first reading it.  I feel like it is a huge dose of momma encouragement.

6.  The Ministry of Motherhood: Following Christ’s example in reaching the hearts of our children by Sally Clarkson

Have you, momma of littles, ever been wiping noses and bottoms and counter tops all day and wondered what on earth this is accomplishing?  Have you ever missed your former days of being more active in ministry?  This book will help you see the ministry right before you, the daily ministry of discipling your children.  We know that Jesus called us to make disciples, and as a mother I often find myself more caught up in discipling others before I’ve even invested that energy and attention in my own children.  This book is so helpful in that regard, breathing fresh life and focus into your parenting.  Perfect for the mom who needs a tune-up in her own vision of her work in her children’s lives.

7.  The Life-giving Home: Creating a place of belonging and becoming by Sally + Sarah Clarkson

Yes, a third book by Sally Clarkson!  This one is so unique in that she coauthors it with her now-adult daughter, talking about the scriptural purpose of the home.  After a few chapters setting the foundation for the book, the book is organized around the seasons of the home, each chapter focusing on a month of the year and discussing a theme of that month.  For example, January focuses on “Creating a framework for home: rhythms, routines, and rituals,” and June focuses on “Times of Delight: creating a value for play.”  Sally and Sarah take turns authoring these chapters, each offering their perspectives and experiences from their own home and ideas for your home.  Chock full of inspiration and resources for the mom who is looking for fresh ideas to make her home life-giving.  This one is a must-read!

“We must understand homemaking not as a retreat from the fallen world, not as a retrenchment from culture, but as a profound engagement with it.  We must understand the creation of a home as a work of incarnational power and creativity.  ‘Kingdom come’ doesn’t happen on some cosmic scale; the whole point is that it invades the physical at the humblest level.  As Christ was born a tiny human child of Mary, so Christ comes again, invading the human realm in and through our ordinary love of children and friends, spouses and siblings.  His Kingdom comes in the way we celebrate, the shelter we make of our homes, the joy we put into what we cook and eat and create, our willingness to welcome strangers into our midst.  As the Holy Spirit fills us, our families and friendships and the particular physical spaces of our lives become the spaces where Christ is born again and again — growing, ordering, renewing, healing.”  (Clarkson)

The following two are not pictured but are books on my wishlist, ones I am eager to read very soon!

8. Missional Motherhood: the everyday ministry of motherhood in the grand plan of God by Gloria Furman


Yes, this is the newest release from Gloria Furman, releasing this month!  I can hardly wait to get my hands on it.  “Gloria Furman helps women live out God’s story of redemption in their daily lives as they nurture their children and joyfully share the message of the gospel with those around them” (from the amazon description).

9.  Wild and Free: a hope-filled anthem for the woman who feels she is both too much and never enough by Haley Morgan and Jess Connolly


If that title doesn’t resonate with you, dear woman, I’m not sure you have a pulse.  This one is not specific at all to motherhood, but is one I think every mother could probably relate to. This, from the amazon description:  “Wild and Free is an anthem and an invitation in equal parts to find freedom from the cultural captivity that holds us back, and freedom to step into the wild and holy call of God in our lives. With fresh biblical insight tracing all the way back to Eve and a treasury of practical application, Jess and Hayley reveal how women today can walk in the true liberty we already have in Jesus.”  I’m hoping and praying this one breathes fresh life into the wild and holy call of motherhood and the other roles I fill as a woman on this earth in my generation.  I cannot wait to review it later this month here on the blog, so check back!

What are some of your top favorite books on motherhood?  I’d love to hear your recommendations!

*Full Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post.  Please understand these are all books I am freely recommending of my own volition because I strongly believe they will be a blessing.   By clicking through to amazon and purchasing a book via this post you are helping to support this blog and my family at no additional cost to you!  Basically I am just receiving a tiny “thank you” from amazon for the referral I would be giving anyway.  My family and I thank you!

Mother’s Day


My soul has felt a bit crowded lately.  I’ve realized that I “write” constantly, usually in my head because I often don’t have time to scribble down the thoughts in between dirty diapers that need to be changed and sibling squabbles that need to be mediated.  I’ve found that whatever I’m learning, whatever God is teaching me needs to find expression, usually in the form of writing.  It’s how I make sense of it, but more than that, it’s part of the process.  We come to God thirsty, He pours into our souls, and we fill up, we overflow, we spill over.  Writing is how I spill over.

But lately?  There hasn’t been much time or space and thus, a crowded soul.

Yesterday was Mother’s Day.  It was one of the best days I’ve had in a while, and it was so simple.  Breakfast + coffee made for me by my husband and the kids.  A bouquet of azaleas picked from the yard.  Worship at church with our spiritual family.  Then we grabbed a few items for a picnic and headed up to one of my favorite spots on the Blue Ridge Parkway near where we live.

We talked about it on the drive up, my husband and I, that there has always been some part of me that craves getting up on the mountains, in the mountains, yes, but more so up on the very heights of the land.  Where the wild whipping wind and the faintest flapping wing of a bird riding the updraft are music to the moment.  It was perfect yesterday.  Holy ordinary.  We captured a few moments, chatted with a few other hikers out enjoying the glorious day.  We played and laughed and got a little sun-burned.  The landscape was moody and dark with rain clouds one moment, pierced by sun rays the next.

I can’t find words for it, but it just does something for me.  So spacious, so abundant, so other-wordly and wild, it feels like my soul can expand and exhale.  A perfect little escape for a weary momma with an overcrowded, busy soul.

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To all the mommas out there, I hope you had a sweet Mother’s Day, feeling the celebration and the smile of God over you as He so highly esteems your every effort + work of faith!