Jennifer's books

Goodbye, Vitamin
American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land
Mrs. Hemingway
Poetry Will Save Your Life: A Memoir
The Princess Diarist
Watch Me Disappear
Hello, Sunshine
Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success
A Man Called Ove
The Heirs
Our Souls at Night
White Fur
Confessions of a Domestic Failure
The Map That Leads to You
The Little French Bistro
Love the Wine You're With
Always and Forever, Lara Jean
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
The Party
New Boy

Jennifer Curry's favorite books »
Showing posts with label Mom life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mom life. Show all posts

Monday, January 1, 2018

Less and More This Year

New Year's Resolution - I will do less and more.

  • Less reading the comments on the internet
  • More reading to my kids
  • Less social media
  • More meaningful conversations in real life
  • Less trying to fix other people's problems
  • More time allowing Jesus to work on me
  • Less harboring of grudges
  • More forgiveness, mercy, and grace
  • Less striving, rushing, shuffling
  • More purposeful yes's, no's, and rest
  • Less hidden struggles
  • More asking for help
  • Less losing control in the moment
  • More deep breathes and counting to 10
  • Less nitpicking towards my family
  • More loving, caring, and celebrating who they are
  • Less television
  • More books
  • Less caring about other people's opinion
  • More caring about other people. Period.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

2017 Was The Year...

I believe it is important to reflect on what has happened in a year because it is so easy to forget. Specifically, it is easy to forget all the good when we are focused on all the bad. It is easy to rush into the new year because you feel like this one let you down. But, when I stop and take time to think about the things this year brought – including the losses and the hard lessons – 2017 was much like any other year. Each year (even each season) brings the hope of new life, rebirth, resurrection. Here’s to staying hopeful in 2018 and thanking God for His goodness yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

The very start of 2017

2017 was the year…

·         I became a little louder and a little more vocal
·         I gained a new niece and a new sister
·         I was called a false prophet and a wolf in sheep’s clothing
·         I started blogging about books, my kids, and my beliefs
·         I started earning money by writing
·         I quit my online tutoring job
·         I met several authors (including David Sedaris)
·         I discovered the joys of wine delivery
·         I started regularly receiving book mail
·         We stopped buying diapers
·         Our daughter was fully potty trained
·         I started hosting a faith-based dinner club
·         Adult acne made an appearance
·         We lost count of the number of couples we knew getting divorced
·         I read close to 90 books
·         I got a new laptop and a new phone
·         I fully embraced my inner book nerd
·         I binge watched Riverdale
·         I started unfollowing and blocking people on social media
·         I used close to 10 notebooks for notetaking
·         I started buying office supplies (again)
·         I finally got rid of my (outdated) teacher clothes and accepted I may never go back
·         I made some new friends and grew closer to old friends
·         We drove through the night to get home from vacation when a stomach bug hit
·         My son started reading
·         I dropped the ball more than once
·         I opened my doors when the house was messy, and I hadn’t showered
·         I learned the hard lesson of knowing when to shut up (*still learning)
·         I had to carry my screaming daughter home from a field trip
·         I won a spa package
·         I read the first Harry Potter with my son
·         My faith deepened
·         My daughter got a big girl bed
·         I went sledding for the first time
·         We went to several live shows
·         I saw Dashboard Confessional with my brother (again)
·         We had a tire blow on a trip
·         I backed into my garage door more than once
·         I got a new car
·         I discovered book bars, book and wine pairings, and book-themed wine
·         I saw my name in print
·         I purchased a book I wrote
·         I got my own little free library
·         We took advantage of memberships to the fantastic places near us
·         I got my feelings hurt
·         I hurt other people’s feelings
·         I said “I’m sorry”
·         I put Poison Control on speed dial
·         My son lifted my dress to expose my backside to the whole mall food court
·         My youngest started school
·         I gained 9 precious hours a week to myself
·         We saw a solar eclipse in our backyard
·         I went to Colorado for the first time
·         I dyed my hair pink
·         I visited the Biltmore at Christmas
·         My daughter stopped napping
·         I found reasons to celebrate
·         I cried when it was necessary

What did 2017 look like for you? I’d love for you to share your thoughts with me. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

How This Mom Started Making Money by Freelance Writing

How I Started Making Money by Freelance Writing

This is not an official guide or anything like that. It is merely a brief walkthrough of how I, very suddenly, started freelance writing and earning money from it. I do not think I am a super great writer (as the phrase “super great” should show), but I can string a few words together after doing some research on a topic.

Today's Office

Since several people have asked me for more information, here are the steps I suggest using my own experience as an example:

1. Take a risk
A friend shared a Facebook post looking for writers for a local parenting website. I figured, “Hey. I’m a parent. I live here. I was an English major.” So, I decided to take a chance and sent a resume and a writing sample.

2. Have at least one writing sample
The writing sample was just a few paragraphs about my son.

3. Get the first writing job
They hired me to write a piece for them. I wrote about something I know and love – the local youth theatre and its upcoming production.

4. Start a blog
At this point, I decided to start a blog. Blogs scared me, but I knew that most people who get into freelance writing have a blog. First, the blog allows them to practice writing on a regular basis. Second, it becomes a portfolio of sorts they can share with their potential clients. While the whole blog thing sounded too techie for me, I quickly learned that if I mastered “MySpace” back in the day, I could at least put together a simple blog. A simple blog – nothing fancy.

5. Get solid advice from a trusted friend
Next, I reached out to my extraordinary friend, Julie. Julie is a freelance pro, and she was quick to answer any questions and offer support. She pointed me in the direction of various freelance platforms like Upwork. Get yourself a Julie.

6. Sign Up for Freelance Job Sites
Then, I signed up for Upwork. Upwork is an online platform for all types of freelancers and those looking for freelancers. Here’s the thing – When I signed up for Upwork, I treated it like I would any other job. In other words, I didn’t just put together a quick resume. I took time to write a professional profile. If you want to see what a profile looks like for Upwork, here is my Upwork profile.

7. Apply and apply and apply…and apply
Applying for jobs on Upwork means you “bid” on a job listing. Upwork allows you to respond to job questions, post a cover letter, and add files. From my past experience helping students write cover letters, I knew the importance of “selling yourself.” Applying for jobs is not the time to be humble. It is just the opposite. You must explain to the client why you are the absolute best for this project. Don’t hold back.

8. Once you get the first job on the Upwork platform, it becomes easier to get more.
If you do a good job, that is. In the beginning, I specifically applied for writing jobs dealing with parenting or Christianity since that is what I knew. Start with what you know (or at least what interests you). The first job I landed on Upwork was writing for a Christian supply store and the next was writing for a parenting website. Your clients rate you, and good ratings will lead to more clients.

9. Develop your portfolio
As I started writing more, I began to develop my “writing portfolio.” This comes in handy because potential clients want to see your previous work. With online content, I can easily share a link to a piece. This is also when the blog helps to show my more personal writing and how my tone shifts (from professional to casual).

10. Learn to say “no.”
In the beginning, I said “yes” to everything because I was afraid nothing else would turn up. And, it led to some pretty cheap and unfulfilling writing gigs (such as “whether erect nipples are signs of pregnancy”). I have since learned to say “no” to anything that undervalues me or to anything I am uncomfortable writing.

Final Thoughts

It’s been almost a year since I started, and it has gone better than I ever imagined. I never thought I would make enough money doing this to continue staying home after the kids went to school, but now that is a real possibility (and likely). To be fair, my husband, by far, is the breadwinner. But, my contribution helps. 

I love working in pajamas with the noise I want in the background. I love working at whatever time suits me. I love learning new things – and I am learning so many new things. Plus, I love getting free books. So, if you have ever considered it, I encourage you to give it a try.

Note - I do not make money from the blog. I am not a "paid" mommy blogger. The money I make comes from writing jobs like the ones below. I've found many people are confused about what I am actually doing for money and think it is from the blog - hahaha - NOPE. 

Here are some examples of the writing I do when the kids are in school:

If you are curious about what I am writing about outside of pieces for Kidding Around Spartanburg, here are a few of my pieces from various clients:

Sunday, December 3, 2017

If Santa is Watching, This Mom is on the Naughty List

Why does Christmas turn me into an adrenaline-filled mommy monster? Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year – and I am here for it all! During this season, I should be quietly reflecting on the beauty of the Savior coming to Earth to save us all. But, nothing, I mean, nothing is quiet around here.

And, don’t hate me, but it is not because of all the Christmas “stuff.” My home was decorated the Sunday after Thanksgiving. It currently looks like Christmas threw up, which is just the way I like it. Our mismatched décor brings me great joy. My shopping is 95% done. Seriously. All I should be doing at this point is drinking eggnog, eating cookies, singing carols, wrapping presents, and celebrating.

But, what am I doing? I am acting insane and using Christmas as an excuse. Let me give you some examples that have landed me on Santa’s naughty list.

First, I had a teensy holiday stress meltdown over Thanksgiving one night after the kids went to bed regarding cleaning the house in order to pull out the Christmas decorations and prepare for hosting. I lost my chill – totally. I basically said (yelled) every awful thing possible and set a record for the number of cuss words to pass through my lips in a given amount of time.

Only to stop suddenly when I heard a pair of tiny feet walking around upstairs. My sensitive child had been awake and overheard every nasty word of his mother’s diatribe. I tried to rectify my mistake by calling him downstairs and apologizing and letting him know immediately that mommy was wrong and shouldn’t have said all those things. My 6-year-old son then gently told me, “Be careful, Mommy. That is deadly poison. Your words are more hurtful than any weapon.” And, then, I cried because my 6-year-old just preached the truth to his adult mom who lost her chill about not having a clean house.

Next, I yelled at my kids to “STAY OUT OF THE HOUSE!” as I was trying to rush and put some stinkin’ candy in the calendar from our invisible elf. We don’t do the whole Elf on the Shelf because I recognize when something is beyond my limitations. However, our “invisible elf” does leave a piece of candy in the advent calendar. All my husband and I have to do is put a piece of candy in the calendar…and we still forget! And, to make matters worse, yesterday as I was rushing to get into the house, I thought my husband had the kids outside when I was almost caught in the act. Hence, the scary yelling to “STAY OUT OF THE HOUSE! TAKE THE DOG POTTY RIGHT NOW!” and tears from my confused children because their mother was not letting them in their own house.

Finally, the first words I said to my kids this morning were “STOP THAT CHRISTMAS MERRIMAS AND TAKE YOUR BUTTS DOWNSTAIRS! IT IS TOO EARLY FOR ALL THAT!” because they were caroling at 7:00 AM.

So, as you can see, even when the house is clean, the presents are bought, and the stockings are hung, Christmas still has the ability to turn me into a freakishly intense version of myself. Surely I can’t be the only one…

Monday, November 6, 2017

Our Family's Annual Toys for Tots Tradition

I grew up having lavish Christmases. Some years it seemed like the gifts were going to swallow the Christmas tree. My parents had fun giving us lots of presents, and we certainly enjoyed receiving them. But, I was also always aware that I had more than I needed or even deserved.

My parents helped out other families by buying Christmas presents so that other children would get to have some of that same Christmas joy. And, they didn’t make a fuss about it. I only knew because they were my parents - not because they advertised it. In fact, there are many people that do not know the gifts their children received came from my parents to this day.

*At this point, I am now going to tell one of the ways our family gives to others. I don't think you should advertise your giving, but I thought others might like to learn about how we use this one giving opportunity as a parenting tool.*

As soon as our first child was born, my husband and I knew we wanted to do something every year to not only show our Christian beliefs about the birth of our Savior, but we also wanted to find a way to show our son that an easy way to love others is to give.

From the time he was born, we have made a visit to Toys R Us in early November to shop for Toys for Tots. Toys for Tots is a well-known, well-respected charity that gives toys to children who live in poverty. While it is one of the most popular charities, they still run out of toys before they reach the end of their list of approximately 7 million children in need. That’s unbelievable, isn’t it?

We chose Toys for Tots for several reasons.

1. It is a trustworthy charitable organization.
2. Its goal is to give children a message of hope.
3. It is a tangible way to teach kids that not everyone gets toys at Christmas or has many toys at home.
4. It is a wonderful way to teach little ones how to give to others.

When we teach our kids that it is natural to help those less fortunate, it becomes something that they do without complaint. Our kids know what we are doing and why we are doing it. Simply put: We have what others don’t and so we should share. And, since Jesus tells us to love others, we are showing love by giving. It is a tradition my children enjoy and look forward to.

Here’s how we do it.

Early in November, we head to Toys R Us. We have a budget set for each child. We get the cart and let our children pick out as many toys as the budget will allow that they think another girl or boy will enjoy. We purchase it all and put it in the big bins at the front of the store.

Our kids do not cry or get upset when we leave the toys behind. They don’t beg or pitch a fit because we don’t get them something. They happily leave empty-handed because they know where the toys are going. This is not our everyday experience, of course. We have had our fair share of store meltdowns. However, on this special day, our children know what they are doing. And they do it with the joy of a child. The slogan of Toys for Tots is “Share Joy, Give a Toy” after all.

See? No complaints after dropping toys in the bin. Just silly faces.

This is also how we learn what toys our children gravitate to the most that particular year, which makes our Christmas shopping even easier. 😉

You can choose however many toys you want to give, but I encourage you to pick up at least one toy your child wants this Christmas and put it in the Toys for Tots donation box for another child whose parents might not be able to purchase it. Or, choose something to do this holiday season that allows your children to actively participate in giving. 

Friday, November 3, 2017

Tales of a 3K Field Trip - In Haiku

We wake up early.
Go meet the bus at the farm.
Forgot the muffins.

Kids are delighted
Plenty of giggles and hugs
For their little friends.

Learn to plant berries.
Three year olds do not listen.
They just want to run.

Keep kids from the road.
Kids have forgotten farmer.
I am herding kids.

On to the next stop.
Wait! There’s a two-headed cow.
Kids will have nightmares.

Now it’s tractor time.
What are all these stinky smells?

Kids learn to milk cows
But they quickly lose interest.
Why? There’s a kitten.

Children chase the cat.
They start crying when it runs.
They want to hold it.

There’s a big surprise.
One of the cows just gave birth
Fresh slimy baby

Daughter pets the calf.
The one still slimy from birth.
I am so grossed out.

I am a bad mom.
I force her to wash her hands.
She’s a thumb sucker.

The sh@# hits the fan.
She loses control and wails.
And she does not stop.

She is still screaming.
How dare I make her wash hands?
She’s getting louder.

I will win this one.
Pour on the sanitizer.
Ha ha ha. I win.

She does not give up.
Hands may be clean, but she’s mad.
I’ve released the beast.

She’s getting louder.
She’s screaming for her teacher.
Teacher’s eyes get big.

Now I pick her up.
But in her rage, she slides down
Lower and lower.

Now I hold her hand.
But in her rage, she drops down.
Slowly dragging her.

I’m totally done.
Tell teacher we are leaving.
Tractor’s not ready.

So I have to walk
And carry my wailing child
To the parking lot.

It’s such a long walk
That a farmhand volunteers
To give us a ride.

I tell him “No Thanks.”
No one else deserves this wrath.
I walk, hold, and pull.

Tears all the way home.
Both of us are now crying.
Finally get home.

Put her straight to bed.
Stare into oblivion.
Day is not over.

She wakes up contrite.
But I am still exhausted.
Field trips? Count me out.

Today was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day for this mom. And while the day did not go as planned, my little angel did have a moment in there with more excitement and joy than humanly possible. Thankful for a Savior who teaches me daily about love and forgiveness and gives me opportunities to live it out.

Monday, October 30, 2017

A Tribute to My Music-Loving Concert-Going Parents

So, the story goes…

My parents went on a date to see the band Air Supply when I was a baby. At some point during the concert, my 21-year-old mom was pulled on stage and kissed by the lead guitarist.

Mom kissed one of these guys

This story has become one those family stories that just gets better with time. My mom is scared of characters in costume and hides from strangers, so she had to have been under a spell for this to ever happen. And, apparently, my dad found the whole thing hilarious.

Then, there was the time they accidentally ended up at a Salt-N-Pepa concert. My parents are both still big fans of singing “Push It” anytime they have the opportunity.

I grew up with parents who loved music. Our home was never quiet. I grew up belting out the lyrics to Meatloaf, CCR, Elton John, and more. My neighbors grew up hearing my dad singing as loudly as he could – which was also very much off-key. My friends learned the lyrics to “Black Magic Woman” when we took them on road trips.

One of my earliest Halloween memories is dressing up as Cyndi Lauper. I had young parents. They liked their music. So, naturally, we did too.

My inspiration at age 5

I still vividly remember the time my mom and her best friend (my second mom) tried desperately to win tickets to see The Bangles in concert by being the whatever-number-caller to a radio station. We couldn't leave the house that day.

When we finally reached the age to go to concerts, we loaded up the minivan and headed to see some of our favorite country stars live. You see, Mom was a little bit country, Dad was a little bit rock and roll.

Reba McEntire’s show changed my life. I have never wanted to be a country singer as much as I did when that plane landed on stage and she belted out “Fancy.” My little brother, on the other hand, slept through the entire show. It is also the reason why my brother can play the guitar and I can sing every word to this day. And why I sang it as a lullaby. 

My inspiration from age 8 until forever

They took me to see Dolly Parton, the Judds, and Faith and Tim before they were officially Faith and Tim. Fun fact – we were at the concert where they kissed on stage and announced they “couple status” for the first time. They took my friends to all the “cool” Christian rock shows at the time – DC Talk, Jars of Clay, you name it.

So, I grew up believing if a musician you love is coming to town, you make every effort to go. And, I have. As an adult, I have been a regular concert-goer. I have seen some bands more than once (like Dashboard Confessional), and some I’ll only see once in a lifetime (like Elton John). And, last night, my mom and I went to see Deana Carter - a dream come true for both of us.

There is something magical about how music connects us. For one moment, we are all united by a song and the people singing it.

I’m so thankful my parents taught me to love music and encouraged me to go to concerts. I am happy to pass down the tradition to my children - one who already dances like a madman and the other who wants to grow up to be “Gaga.” 

Friday, October 20, 2017

More Proof I Am Raising Weird Kids

Those who know our family know we are nerds. We go all in for the things we love – superheroes, books, and Broadway. So, it should come as no surprise that our kids are a little bit weird. It is a weirdness we’ve nurtured and a weirdness we love.

But, there are days when we wonder if we have just totally screwed up our kids. I think every parent worries about this at some point. Rather than focusing on these big picture “am I totally ruining my kid” or “will they need years of therapy” type of concerns, I’d like to tell you some of the more funny times my husband and I have thought, “Uh-oh.”

Here are my costumed children doing the "Thriller" dance

A few weeks ago, my six-year-old son came to me all concerned about scorpions. The conversation follows:

Son: Why are scorpions so bad?
Me: Well, they are dangerous.
Son: But, why are they so dangerous?
Me: Because they can hurt you and they are scary.
Son: Is that why people don’t like them?
Me: Yes.
Son: But, are they really evil guys?
Me: What?
Son: Are they really evil guys?
Me: What are you talking about?
Son: The guys that the other guys with the car are racing in that singing movie – The Scorpions!
Me: Oh, you were talking about the movie Grease and not the creature.

My six-year-old son did not know scorpions were real creatures. He only thought scorpions were the bad guys in the movie Grease. Is this a #momwin or #momfail? We’ll have to wait a few years to see how he turns out.

On top of this musical gaffe, our kids are also clueless about sports. CLUELESS. My husband was an all-star athlete. He was phenomenal. Seriously. If only he didn’t have stupid knees… 

However, we have not pushed the whole kids play sports thing. We are more of the “if they show interest, then sure” mindset. So far, little to no interest in sports.

Which is why the following had us falling all over each other laughing after the kids went to bed.

Son: We took a stroll at kids church through the cemetery and the bull pit today. But, there weren’t any bulls. Where do they keep the bulls at church mom?
Me: What? Bulls?
Son: You know for the bull pit. There aren’t any bulls there now. But where would they be?
Me: Knox, there are no bulls at the church. There is no bull pit.
Son: Yes, there is. I saw it. The grass is overgrown and there is some dirt and there is a fence to keep the bulls in.
Me: Knox, there is not a bull pit. There is a baseball field, so you might have heard ball pit. There is also a bullpen, but that doesn’t mean bulls, it is something to do with baseball.
Son: No. It is for bulls. There is only one bench. For sports games, you have to have a lot of benches.
Me: I give up.
Son: I ran all around shouting "Ole!"

He’s a smart kid in a very unique way. Bless his heart.

But, I have no doubt that his interesting way of looking at the world will take him far. And, I am just thrilled to be along for the ride. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

When Your 6 Year Old Outsmarts You...And Tries to Outsmart Jesus

My 6-year-old son is smart. But, he recently has learned how to twist ideas to manipulate them to benefit himself. It is both awe-inspiring and frightening. When your child is able to argue his way out of a box, and he is only six, you know you are in a bit of trouble. But, it is mostly humorous.

I’ll give you an example.

My sweet boy is known for being a good friend. While he is rambunctious and never shuts up in the classroom, his teachers have always assured me he has a sweet heart and is a friend to everyone. However, this year he has had a bit of trouble with another child in class.

I would not classify it as bullying, but this other child has upset Knox on more than one occasion. And, Knox is not used to it. So, we have been trying to teach him how to deal with these types of incidents. For example, if the kid keeps touching you, ask him to stop. If the kid laughs at you, ignore him. But, we have also sat Knox down and tried to explain that maybe this kid really needs a friend. We explained that while he does not have to play with him all the time, he should still be loving and kind.

As Christians, we feel called to love others. But, as parents, we also believe in healthy boundaries. It is hard to find the balance between loving those who hurt you and setting boundaries – even for adults.

So, earlier this week, Knox spent his evening coloring and designing characters to take to his classmates. These were intricately colored and cut figures specially designed for each kid. Except for one kid. I gently pointed this out to my son.

“Knox, how would you feel if he made something for everyone in the class but you?”

“Oh, I wouldn’t mind. I would just make my own.”

Well, that example clearly did not work for me. So, I tried again.

“Knox, what do you think Jesus would do in this situation?”

“Mom, I know Jesus would make him one. But, I also know Jesus made us all different. And this is one of my differences. I am different because I am not making everyone one. And we cannot be like Jesus because he was perfect.”

At this point, I gave up. Just kidding. But, I was completely flummoxed. My son managed to use what we’ve instilled since he was a baby (that Jesus loves him and he made him special) as a way to NOT BE NICE. I chose to laugh.

I simply told Knox to sleep on it and think about it some more, but that I was not going to force him to do it.

He came back a bit later and made a figurine for the child.

Monday, October 9, 2017

10 Things Saving My Life Right Now

What Is Saving My Life Right Now

Last week was rough – and not just for me. It was a week that left me reeling. But, it was also a week filled with innumerable gifts. For instance, in the midst of a tragic week where many people senselessly lost their lives, I got to celebrate the upcoming arrival of new life at dinner club.

So, anyhow, I thought I would post a few of the things that helped me get through last week and I hope they may help you too.

1. My new pink hair. Now that I have accepted that I will be working from home, I no longer feel the need to look professional. And, it’s fun.

2. Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks by Annie Spence (the audiobook). This book is a collection of love letters and break up notes to books. You guys, if there was ever a more enjoyable audiobook for a book nerd like me, I don’t believe it. It has made me laugh and made me clap.

3. Blue Q Socks. I love socks. I love when my socks can convey a secret only I know. And, Blue Q socks are perfect for hiding a little subtle message under your jeans. *Some are inappropriate. There's your warning.

4. The Mindy Project. I have a love/hate relationship with this show. But, this is the final season, and Danny is back, so I am ALL IN.

5. Broadway tickets. On a bad day this week, I took five minutes to go ahead and purchase excellent tickets to the upcoming production of the Phantom of the Opera for my husband, myself, and our son (who LOVES the musical). It’s not until February, but I am already excited.

6. The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers: Spiritual Insights from the World's Most Beloved Neighbor. Y’all, this book spoke to me on so many levels and it provided some needed healing to my soul. I had no idea prior to reading this book that Mister Rogers was an ordained minister or that he used his tv show as a way to spread Christ’s message of love. I want to be Mister Rogers when I grow up.

7. New Fall TV Shows. My husband and I are steadily making our way through the new fall television shows and eliminating and adding to our watch list. He loves Orville – I HATE IT. But, we both agree The Good Doctor is excellent.

8. My job. I know that sounds silly, but I have always said “If they would pay me to go to school, that’s what I would do.” And I feel like I am kind of doing that now – researching, learning new stuff, and writing essays all the time. And, I found out I am a "Top Rated" freelancer through Upwork!

9. LUSH has a subscription service. Do I even need to explain this? Just click here to find out more.

10. My dinner club. We started meeting for a Bible study, which evolved to books about faith & dinner club. There is something really awesome about meeting together with women from different backgrounds with different beliefs and breaking bread together. I think that is a little bit like what heaven will be like - a mishmash of people, laughing, crying, and eating together.

So, what about you? What has been saving your life lately? 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Why Your Kids Need to Read Today More Than Ever Before

Read to Learn

I love to read. I always have. I read because I find pleasure in it. I read for the escape. I read for fun.

But, I also read to learn. And, that’s why your kids need to read too. In these divisive times, books can save us and heal us.

Books have the ability to take us to places we will never travel to on our own. Books introduce us to people we will never meet on our own. Books provide a glimpse at circumstances we will never go through on our own.

As one of my favorite literary characters, Atticus Finch, says in To Kill a Mockingbird, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

As humans, we are judgmental. We put people in boxes. We stereotype. We teach our children, by example, that we are superior and others are inferior. We often do it without even realizing it. We do this when we group together with the people who look like and think like us.

Read to See People How Jesus Sees People

As my pastor spoke today, he encouraged us to “Pray to see people the way Jesus sees them.” We fail at this all the time. We fail to SEE people who are different all the time; instead, we spend most of our time with people on that look/act/feel the same.

And, our kids take notice. Just go into a high school cafeteria and you will see clearly segregated groups – either by race, socioeconomic status, or social standing.

So, how do you see people the way Jesus sees them if you do not actually SEE them? 

Well, you read books. You read, and you read, and you read. You read books with characters that are not like you and in situations you have never been in. What is the connection?

When you read about the fictional struggle of a poor single mother, it will be easier for you to see an actual poor single mother in real life and greet her with grace and kindness rather than judgment. You will be able to push past society’s differences and empathize.

Read to Empathize

You see, I will never be another race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, but I have a better understanding because of the books I’ve read with characters of these types. My literary world has allowed me to put on someone else’s skin. Books have given me an idea about what life is like for people different than me.

God used a donkey to speak to Balaam, so surely he can use books to speak to us. If books can help us see people the way Jesus sees them – as children of God – then he can use books to teach us how to empathize. After all, Jesus wept.

Therefore, if we want the world to be a better place and we want our children to grow up to see people the way Jesus sees them, then put some books in their hands. And, pick up one of your own.