Reviving Motherhood

Learning on the Journey

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Good Books for Boys and Girls

children reading poster2 jwsmith

Recently my friend Joni asked about good books for little boys.  Oh my, this is a favorite subject!  I have thought about doing a whole post just on how to shop for used books!  I’m addicted.

I have been scratching out a short list of favorite books for boys and girls.  Of course there is a lot of overlap.  Girls will probably enjoy most books on the boy list, and boys will undoubtedly enjoy many books on the girl list.  But this is roughly divided into “boy” and “girl” books.

I’ve loosely listed them by age, starting with easy readers and moving to read-alouds (if your children are young or not proficient readers).  This is just a sampling of some of our favorite books.  I will add to the list as I think of more.  Sorry, I didn’t have time to look up every author or link to a place to buy each book.  Google for more info.

NOTE: This does not include preschool books, necessarily.  That would be a whole different post!

Books for Boys


Snipp Snapp and Snurr series by Maj Lindham

Books by Thornton W. Burgess

Eddie books by Caroline Haywood

Peter and Penny books by Caroline Haywood

Hank the Cowdog series

Non-fiction books about ships, animals, tractors, military, sports, historical eras, cowboys, Scout guides…even if they are not in scouts…whatever.  A popular one here is Great Disasters of the World…go figure…My 6 year old would rather read about real-life stuff than fiction any day.

Dinosaur books, especially those from the Answers in Genesis

Books by EB White, especially Stuart Little and Trumpet of the Swan

Owls in the Family by Farley Mowatt

The Cricket in Times Square

Dangerous Book for Boys

The Sign of the Beaver

Ivan series by Myrna Grant (about a Christian family in Russia under communism…out of print…look on Amazon)

Little Britches series (These contain some mild cussing I think, and possibly some slightly more mature themes.  Pre-reading recommended.)

Johnny Tremaine by Esther Forbes

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkein (and for older boys, The Lord of the Rings trilogy)

I believe the old Hardy Boys books are OK…someone correct me if I’m wrong

I have heard great things about GA Henty’s historical novels for boys, but I have never read them myself.

Missionary biographies (Brother Andrew, Nate Saint, Hudson Taylor, etc.)  These are typically adventurous and so character-building!

Biographies of great Americans (Sower series, If You Grew Up With series and others)

Books for Girls


Flicka Ricka and Dicka series (picture books with engaging text) by Maj Lindham

Five Little Peppers series

Happy Little Family series by Rebecca Caudill  (LOVE these!)

Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Bobbsey Twins series

Betsy series by Caroline Haywood

American Girl books (pre-reading recommended)

Anne of Green Gables

The Secret Garden

A Little Princess

Missionary Biographies (Gladys Ayleward, Amy Carmichael, Elisabeth Elliot and others)

Biographies of historical figures



girl sleeping

Rest is spiritual.  In our culture it’s unpopular.  Getting adequate rest, admitting that you sleep 8 or 9 hours per night or that you took a nap is often viewed as lazy.  Even in Christian circles, he who works the longest without a break is often considered the most godly.  (I’m not talking about people who actually have a low sleep need.  Some people are like that.  Not me.)  Nevertheless, we must remember that even God (who doesn’t need anything) rested after He created the World, and He ordained Sabbath rest.


This week I received my new copy of Notes from Toad Hall.  The writings of Margie Haack and her husband Denis have had  a profound impact on my spiritual journey, especially in terms of how I view people outside Christianity—even when I disagree with their viewpoint they make me think.  I so appreciated Margie’s thoughts in this issue.  She quotes Professor David Nelson:

[O]ur theological reflection (in the sense of reflection upon God) should lead us to recognize that God himself has not chosen to accomplish everything in one day, one week, month or year.  Not only does God’s creative work occur over time, but His providential work of bringing all things to His good end occurs over millennia.  Since God Himself does not accomplish all his purposes in one day, it seems odd that His people might fret, forsake rest, and live disordered lives to do what God Himself has chosen not to do.  What God could do, He does not, and what we cannot do, we attempt to do, to our own detriment.

Margie then adds, “This rhythm of work and rest that Nelson writes about is rooted in creation and presupposes that what we do in an ordinary, everyday way is ordained and blessed by God, which applies to all sorts of vocations—not just religious or missionary callings.  God not only grants us the freedom to do nothing visibly useful at times, he insists on it.  He desires us to trust that our resting accomplishes his purposes even when closure looks way overdue and our path looks grim.”

Dallas Willard, whom Billy was privileged to interview a few years ago, told my husband this:  He gives a yearly 2-week spiritual retreat to students at a large seminary.  One of the retreat requirements is that the participants stay in bed for 10 hours each night.  Can you imagine?  Enough sleep over a two week period would make a new person out of anyone!

Jen at Conversion Diary (a mother of 4 very small children) shared once about her struggles to focus during prayer.  When she discussed it with her spiritual director, the director told her to get more sleep.  Sometimes there is a simple physical answer to what we view as a complex spiritual problem.  Exhaustion can make us not only unable to focus, but can leave us more vulnerable to temptations…the temptation to fear, to yell at our kids, to neglect our husbands, to let our thought life grow up in weeds…because we just feel too weary to fight.  That’s not to say that we won’t be tired at times; neither is it an excuse to sin when we are…But when possible, getting enough rest can have a bring incredible spiritual benefit, even if it means leaving some things undone.

That’s hard for us mothers   Remember the old saying, “A man may work from sun to sun, but mother’s work is never done”?   I for one am frequently tempted to operate out of frustration over all that’s not getting done.  I forget to consult God about what His agenda might be for my day, his calling, rather than what I think I should accomplish.  For our own good and the good of our families, sometimes we must leave things as they are and simply rest in God, knowing that He will give us grace and time to finish what He has required of us, rather than collapsing under the heavy burdens we lay on ourselves.

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Discipleship Starts at Home

I promise I have some stuff in the works and this isn’t going to just be a blog that links to others.  Nevertheless, I did think this miniseries on teaching our children about God (from Resurgence) was worth passing along.

Discipleship Starts at Home, part 1

Discipleship Starts at Home, part 2

It’s specifically directed toward fathers, but there’s much a Christian mother can glean as well!

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Monthly Grocery Shopping

woman shopping

I’m gearing up for monthly shopping.  Doing it this way is fairly new to me.

I tried monthly shopping once before but I was not very organized and it was pretty much a disaster.  It’s time to give it another shot though–I just don’t have time for a weekly errand day any more, and I certainly don’t want to spend my precious weekend time with my husband at Wal-Mart.

I’m basically starting with a monthly menu and making a master grocery list from the menu.  I’m pulling ideas from a lot of smart people.  This particular system worked very well for me last month.  It only needed minor tweaking.  It was so nice to only have to shop weekly for produce, eggs, and milk.  I’m hoping it continues to be this worth it!

What grocery shopping system works for you?


Consistent Blogging Ahead

girl hammock vintage

Hi ladies,

I have absolutely nothing profound to say today except that I’m going to try a more structured blogging schedule to ensure that I keep RM ticking.  I plan to blog on Tuesdays and Thursdays with one post at some point over the weekend.  I also hope to focus more on the thoughts of others who are wiser than I rather than my own, as I originally intended.  I think I made a similar promise awhile back; hopefully this won’t be another false start.

If you’d like to keep up with my blog (and others) without clicking over all the time, consider getting a feed reader account like Google Reader or Bloglines.   You subscribe to whichever blogs you wish and updates are sent to your account.  It’s as easy as checking email–a great time-saver.  I use Bloglines and it’s adequate.  Google Reader is better but I don’t use a Google account for privacy reasons.  Your preference.   There are other feed readers available as well; those are the two best-known, I believe.

In light of that, tell me…What are your favorite mom blogs?  I’m always up for a good dose of encouragement!

Happy reading!

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Back to School Tips, Anyone?


It’s back to school time and I have a question for you!

What makes your family’s school days go better, whether your children attend traditional school or whether they are homeschooled?  Do you have any mom tips to share?

I started our new homeschool year with a lot of apprehension, but God has been very good and we had the best first days of school that I can remember (either as a student or now as a teacher).

A couple things helped.  One is simply throwing myself on the mercy of God, knowing that I can’t do this on my own.  I am not super organized or particularly gifted, and teaching my children is more a matter of obedience to God and personal calling than of being a homeschool devotee.  That said, I do want them to have a happy childhood and a good education, so I’m so thankful for God’s help to enable it go better and better.  The longer I parent (admittedly not very long yet) the more I realize that I just can’t get it right on my own; I have to have Jesus.

Secondly, I made a realistic schedule, something like this one (but tailored to our family). This was not my first go-round with a schedule, not by a long way.  I have typed countless ones over the years, all of which have failed…until this year.  I gave myself a bit more grace, which mainly means I didn’t put things on there that I knew would probably not get done anyway (getting up for a 4am workout, for example…if you do this please don’t tell me).  I also alerted the kids to my expectations in advance, which has helped.  I don’t say this to brag, but rather to encourage you that if schooling/routine/child training have seemed almost impossible, hang in there and it will get better!  All these years of rocky starts are finally paying off for me!

Third, for a couple weeks now I’ve been preparing for the next day the night before…lay out clothes for everyone, make any necessary advanced breakfast prep, make sure I know what’s for supper the following night, check the calendar for appointments, and scratch out a quick to-do.  (I have this written into the schedule so I don’t forget, because I WOULD forget.)  This 10 minutes of preparation  makes the mornings go SOOOO much better.

So what about you?  I can’t wait to hear!

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Cooking, A Lost Art

Al Mohler has a very interesting article on the loss of cooking in Western culture.  Also worth checking out is this NY Times article by Michael Pollan (author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma).  It’s long, but has some great insights into the importance of cooking and why it’s fallen from fashion in our culture.  You can also listen to an NPR interview with Pollan here.

What do you think?  Were you raised in a cooking family or taught to cook as you grew up?  How has that affected the way you do or don’t cook today?  Do you think the notion of cooking is overrated in these articles, or is it something we should try to do more of?

These articles coincide with the release of the movie Julie and Julia, which is about Julia Child.  It’s at our local theater–I want to go!  Here’s the trailer.