Reflections on 2015 & My Favorite Books of 2015

This past year has been wild. Adopting James has been one of the most crazy, beautiful, broken, and stretching things we’ve ever done.  In “Grinch” terms, this year, I believe that my heart has grown at least three sizes! Thinking back to the day when James came to live with us, I am reminded of where he was at that point.  Today, I look at where he is, and I’m absolutely amazed.  I look at where we were in January as a family, and I look at my family today, and I’m amazed.  A year can make a huge difference.

I’m a big goal-maker/planner/contemplative type person, so last week, I looked at my goals for 2014. For a minute, I was sorely disappointed.  There was SO much that I didn’t get to cross off that list.  But then, I saw “Add a member to our family through adoption,” and I paused.  That was something that I got to cross off the list.  And even if that was the only thing that I crossed off…that was a big one.  Suddenly, instead of disappointment, I felt thankfulness.  Thankfulness that God saw fit to take us through this journey, with all its ups and downs.  We are all better for it.

So this year, I’m trying something different with my goals. Instead of a long list of goals, I’m giving myself permission to simply rest after a hard, trying year. My goal this year is to set aside time on a regular basis to fill up before I pour out again.  It’s something that I’ve always struggled with and truly, just recently found value in.

One of my favorite things to do to rest and refill is reading. I LOVE to read.  So, in lieu of my traditional goals list, I decided to share with you my top five favorite books of 2015.  Here they are.  I hope you enjoy!

The Chronicles of Kings Series by Lynn Austin:  This is kind of a cheat on my list.  It’s not actually one book, it’s a series of FIVE books.  And every book is as good, if not better, than the one before.  I used to be a fiction snob, but all that has changed thanks to Lynn Austin.  I honestly LOVED reading this series, and it’s prompted me to study my way through the book of Isaiah.  I highly recommend this series.  I’m also starting her series, The Restoration Chronicles.  I’ve read the first one, and it’s fantastic!  Warning:  Once you start, you won’t be able to put it down.  I know…I lost a lot of sleep reading through this series!

My Favorite books of 2015

Chronicles of Kings Series by Lynn Austin-highly recommend!

 

The Connected Child by Karyn Purvis:  This is a MUST-READ if you are an adoptive parent.  I could see James so clearly in this book.  Books that truly capture the heart of adoption are rare, so I treasure my copy!

My Favorite Books of 2015

The Connected Child by Karyn Purvis…a must read for adoptive parents!

Teaching from Rest by Sarah McKenzie:  This is my “homeschool read” pick of the year.  Every year, I read loads and loads of educational information, but this one stood out amongst them all.  I really enjoyed this book, and gained so much wisdom from its pages.  This is a must read for homeschooling mamas!

My Favorite Books of 2015

Teaching from Rest by Sarah McKenzie is a must read for homeschooling mamas!

Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin:  This book literally changed how I think about everything!  I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  Gretchen caused me to look at life and routine completely differently.  I’ve applied her principles in many areas of my life.

My Favorite Books of 2015

Better Than Before: A fresh look on life and routine.

Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood by Melissa Kruger:  This book came at exactly the right time.  I needed the words tucked inside these pages.  I would highly recommend this to all mamas.  (And I’m pretty picky about my parenting books!)

My Favorite Books of 2015

Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood: A must for mamas of all stages.

And because I can’t leave out children’s literature, I also wanted to share my favorite kid’s books of the year.

Brother Andrew by Janet & Geoff Benge:  We really enjoyed this biographical story of Brother Andrew.  Frequently called “God’s Smuggler”, Brother Andrew smuggled thousands of bibles across the Iron Curtain.  This was one that challenged our faith and lead to lots of great discussion.

My Favorite Books of 2015

Brother Andrew: A fantastic biography of “God’s Smuggler”. It will challenge your faith and spark great discussion!

The Candymakers by Wendy Mass:  This was truly just a really fun book.  We didn’t expect it to be as good as it was.  It was a really long read, but the mystery elements kept us guessing.  The underlying themes in the book make for great discussion.

My Favorite Books of 2015

The Candymakers by Wendy Mass is a delightful read that will keep your kids guessing on what’s going to happen next.

The Hundred Dresses:  This is a MUST-READ for all children.  This is one of those wonderful books that puts the reader in the shoes of someone else.  I read this to my girls this year, and plan to read it again to all my kids at some point next year.  It’s a great book for boys and girls of all ages.

My Favorite Books of 2015

The Hundred Dresses: All children should hear this book at least once in their lifetime. A great tale that shows the heartache of bullying and teasing others.

The Green Ember:  Don’t even get me started!  Quite possibly my favorite book of the year, overall.  This one is a real page turner.  My kids beg me for “just one more chapter” every day.  I get hoarse reading this book every day, but we absolutely love it.  Not only is the story phenomenal, but the themes and the appreciation of the arts and God’s creation is an underlying theme that just jumps out of the page at you!  All children need this book in their life.

My Favorite Books of 2015

The Green Ember by S.D. Smith…possibly taking the overall winner of the year award in the Wood household. We adore this book and can’t wait to read the prequel!

Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare:  I can remember being presented with this book as a child, and thinking…”I DO NOT want to read a BOY book!”  But all that changed the minute I read the first chapter.  The entire book, from cover to cover, is just wonderful.  It was such a pleasure to read it to my boys and see the same look of interest on their faces.  It’s one of our favorites of the year.

My Favorite Books of 2015

Sign of the Beaver: A classic for a great reason. This is a must read for boys AND girls!

 

That’s my list. If you need some good reads, these are my favorites from 2015.  Here’s to many, many more pages read in 2016!  Happy New Year!

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2015 Yearly Goals

I love the New Year. In fact, I love Christmas, but I’m not ever sad when Christmas is over, because I look forward to the New Year just as much. It feels like such a fresh start. Things are new and easy to change at the beginning of a new year. I guess that’s the teacher in me? I don’t know…but as you all probably know by now, I’m a goal-oriented person. I love to set goals, and I feel great when I hit those goals. I thrive on goal-setting. In fact, I actually taught my 4th and 5th grade Sunday School class last Sunday how to set goals for their year. It went okay, but let’s just say that I realized that some are not as passionate as I am about goals! I may or may not have been a little too excited about setting goals.  I got a few glassy eyes. Ha! Last year, I set several goals. I won’t review them all here, but I will say that I hit some, like having a regular, daily Bible time and a steady morning routine and missed others-like my book list! It’s just too hard for me to decide what books I’m going to read at the beginning of the year…I like more flexibility. Anyway, so today, it’s time to lay out a new set of goals for the year. For this, I use the same guide as I use for my weekly goals. I just modify the goals to fit into a year. So here goes…2015 goals. This year, I’m also going to include my plan for hitting these goals. I feel that you can’t have a goal without a plan. Let’s take a look!

goal setting

Spiritual Goals:

  1.  Use the reading plan for my morning Bible Study timeRead Through the Bible in a Year ( For Christmas, I asked for a Read Through the Bible in a Year Bible, and my mom got me a Chronological version! I’m really excited. It’s something I’ve never done-read the Bible cover to cover-so I’m really looking forward to it!)
  1. Improve my Prayer Life (Keep a running Prayer List for the family on the white board on the fridge) & (Pray and journal during my morning quiet time.)

Family Life

  1. Spend More Time Having Fun as a Family (regular family Game Nights)
  2. *Hopefully* add a member to the family

Homeschool Goals:

  1. Include a Physical Education Time 3 days a week (Use book Home School Family Fitness)
  2. Include a Fine Motor Therapy Time Every Day (Use the OT Mom’s Handbook to Fine Motor Therapy) & (Do activities during read alouds)
  3. Use the positive responsibility system I created consistently

Home Life

  1. Keep House Clean & Tidy (Use Motivated Moms App)
  2. Keep Dates & Bills Organized (Keep a Family Calendar) & (Centralized Location for Calendar & Bill)

Physical Life

  1. Eat Healthy (Read Eat Right for Your Type) & (Follow the PiYo eating plan)
  2. Continue drinking Shakeology once a day & start kids on it as well
  3. Exercise 4 times a week (Use PiYo Workouts) & (In addition, homeschool fitness plan)

Financial Goals

  1. Finish paying off final debt (put 80% of all extra money to debt)
  2. Begin to save for car repairs or new-to-us vehicle (put 20% extra toward savings, after debt is paid off, put 100%)

Mental Goals:

  1. Read at least 1 book per month
  2. Plan the next week on the Friday before
  3. Blog at least once a week

Now, before I leave this blog post, let me say this:  In 2007, my goal list didn’t include “Send husband to Oklahoma for a 6 month traning” or  “Live in OK for 2 months” or “Prepare for husband’s deployment to Iraq”.  In 2009, my goals did not include “Move to Morrilton”, in 2011, my goals never mentioned, homeschooling and in 2014, no where on my goal list would you find the word “adoption”.  Here’s what I’m saying with that-while I love to set goals, I have also learned that God knows that about me, and because of my natural bent toward wanting to know, and wanting to plan, God tends to take me (and our family) on wild rides in the course of a year.  For a while, I hated this…He was messing with my perfectly laid out plans, but as the years have passed, I have learned what a beautiful gift it is to plan, but then to say, “But, Father, your will be done in my life.”  And see where He takes us.  It’s been a wonderful journey so far.  So, when you set your goals for the year, understand that a year is a long time, and God can really do a lot in your life in a year, so be willing to be flexible, be willing to bend on some of those plans and goals and dreams.  It will be worth it.  God’s plan has always been better than mine after all.

Happy New Year to you and your family.  Praying for a wonderful year for all of you!

Weekly Goals & A Winner!

goal setting

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner! Our winner from The Best Yes is Renee Ross!  Congratulations Renee!  You will be receiving a little “Best Yes” package from me in the mail sometime this week.  🙂

And now…let’s take a look at last week.  I felt surprisingly productive last week even though it was an absolutely insane week!  Go me!

Spiritual Goals

1.  Daily Bible Reading & Prayer

Family Life

1.  Home Schooling

2.  Begin reading Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends.  (Highly Recommended by lots of trusted people, so we’re starting this week!)

3. Finish up and gather Adoption Paperwork

4.  Finish addressing safety issues for Home Study I’m done inside, now to move outside.  🙂

Home Goals

1.  Daily Load of Laundry

2.  Keep House Tidy

Church Goals

1.  Write cards to Sunday School kids

2.  Prepare Sunday School Lesson

3.  Continue reviewing curriculum

Physical Goals

1.  Exercise 3x

2.  Sleep

Social Goals

Financial Life

1.  Pay Bills

Legacy Goal

1.  Journal Entry in Adoption Journal  I still didn’t get to this! 

2.  Blog Posts x 2

Mental Goals

1.  Read Glorious Ruin, The Connected Child

2.  Work on baby gifts

3.  Personal Time x 2/Daily Porch Time

So, I’m pretty thrilled with last week.  This week, I’m using as a recouping week.  We are exhausted!  September has absolutely worn us out!  So, we are going to really sit back and try to get back into a regular, more calm routine.  That’s the goal!

Spiritual Goals:

1.  Daily Bible Reading & Prayer

2.  Begin 31 Days of Proverbs on October 1st (Church-wide-exciting!)

Family Goals:

1.  Read Making Brothers & Sisters Best Friends

2.  Family Time x 3

3.  Family Fun x 2

4. Re-Establish Chores and Routines that have been neglected this month

Home Goals:

1.  Clean & Organize Master Bathroom

2.  Daily Load of Laundry

Church Goals:

1. Send Proverbs 31 Cards to Sunday School Class

2.  Prepare for Roots & Sunday School Lesson

3.  Write Schedule for Junior Church

4.  Work on Curriculum

Physical Goals:

1.  Exercise x 3

Social Goals:

1.  Meet w/Sister-in-Law

2.  Lunch w/Friend

3.  Reschedule Dinner w/Family

Financial Goals:

1.  $30 Incidental Limit

Legacy Goal:

1.  Blog Post x 3

2.  Adoption Journal Entry

Mental Life:

1.  Read Glorious Ruin and The Connected Child

2.  Begin reading Bringing Up Boys by James Dobson

3.  Extra quiet/personal time for my birthday.  🙂

That’s my week…what’s your week like?

Weekly Goals

Another week come and gone.  Is it just me or do these weeks just get faster and faster?  Okay, so I knew back in July that September was going to be a pretty crazy month, but it’s turned out to be absolutely rugged.  I am looking forward closing the door on this busy month!

But, I actually am pretty happy with my goals for last week.  For what all we’ve had going, I feel pretty good about what I got done.  Let’s take a little look-see.

Spiritual Goals:

1.  Daily Bible Reading & Prayer

Family Life:

1.  Home Schooling

2.  Hannah’s 4 year old check-up  Hannah got a pretty rough cold this week, so we skipped it last week, but it’s rescheduled for this week.  🙂

3.  Visit Nanny Mary  Love seeing my Nanny!

Home Life

1.  Deep Clean House

2.  Prepare Adoption Paperwork  Can I hear angels singing?

3.  Install Smoke Alarms & Address Safety Issues in the Home  It’s amazing how unsafe my home has been for children the past 8 years!  Lol.

4.  Daily Load of Laundry

Church Life

1.  Prepare Roots materials

2.  Look over new curriculum  this is an ongoing thing, but I did do this, just not completely finished…

Physical Life

1.  Get extra sleep  Not exactly….but I tried.  “E” for effort?

2.  Exercise x 2 this week  Failed here too.

Social Life

Dinner with friends this weekend.   Loved.  Good for the soul.

Financial Life

Legacy Goal

1.  Journal Entry for Adoption Journal  Rolling over to this week.  😦

2.  Blog Posts x 3  Does 2 count?  Because it’s close to 3….

Mental Life

1.  Read Glorious Ruin, Finish The Best Yes, and begin The Connected Child

2.  Daily Porch Time

3.  Continue working on baby gifts  Nope.  Rolling over…

For the first time in a while, I actually feel like I was pretty productive this week.  Obviously, there are some areas that I’ve badly neglected, but it’s a work in progress.  😉

On to this week!

Spiritual Goals

1.  Daily Bible Reading & Prayer

Family Life

1.  Home Schooling

2.  Begin reading Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends.  (Highly Recommended by lots of trusted people, so we’re starting this week!)

3. Finish up and gather Adoption Paperwork

4.  Finish addressing safety issues for Home Study

Home Goals

1.  Daily Load of Laundry

2.  Keep House Tidy

Church Goals

1.  Write cards to Sunday School kids

2.  Prepare Sunday School Lesson

3.  Continue reviewing curriculum

Physical Goals

1.  Exercise 3x

2.  Sleep

Social Goals

Financial Life

1.  Pay Bills

Legacy Goal

1.  Journal Entry in Adoption Journal

2.  Blog Posts x 2

Mental Goals

1.  Read Glorious Ruin, The Connected Child

2.  Work on baby gifts

3.  Personal Time x 2/Daily Porch Time

That does it folks!  Busy week for us once again as we have training this weekend.  It is my prayer that we will be able to walk in this weekend with all our paperwork completed and ready to go.  The faster we get that, the faster the process will go.  Please continue to pray for us, especially over the next few weeks when things are so busy.  Thank you all so much.  Have a great week!  🙂

Weekly Goals

goal setting

I don’t know why I was so ambitious last week with my goal-setting.  I think I was just so excited to get back to my goal-setting routine that I went crazy and totally forgot how hectic my week was going to be.  I completely overshot my goals this past week, so I’m just almost embarrassed to post, but for accountability sake, I’m doing it anyway!  Ha!

Spiritual Goals:

  1. Daily Bible Reading & Prayer
  2. Spend time in prayer for each child and their specific needs, as well as for our country, leaders, and for revival

Family Goals:

  1. Family Time x 3  We did 1 family time this week
  2. Prepare Adoption Paperwork
  3. Schedule Physicals for each Family Member Not so much…
  4. Play with my Kids daily-Emphasis on Physical Education
  5. Lydia-Dr Appt at Arkansas Children’s Hospital She has an upper GI scheduled for the 22nd.  Prayers are appreciated.  🙂

Home Goals:

  1. Deep Cleaning Ha!  That’s funny!
  2. One Load Laundry Every Day 
  3. Install Additional Smoke Alarms & Take Care of Safety Issues in the Kitchen  Fail!

Church Goals:

  1. Write cards to Sunday School Class. Fail
  2. Prepare Roots Materials  Fail
  3. Order Curriculum

Physical Goals:

  1. Track eating on Loseit.com App Does 2 out of 7 days count?
  2. Drink only water, coffee in the morning  Nope
  3. Walk one mile per day (Leslie Sansone is my favorite exercise DVD series)

Social Goals:

  1. Touch base with friends by text message.  Nope
  2. Reschedule dinner w/family that we had to cancel last week.  Nope

Financial Goals:

  1. $30 Incidental Limit  Nope
  2. Purchase Grill

Legacy Goals:

  1. Journal Entry for Lydia’s Birthday! Happy Birthday Lydia!
  2. Blog Posts x 3  I started like 6, but only ended up with 2.

Mental Goals:

  1. Finish reading The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst and continue reading Glorious Ruin  Nah…
  2. Begin working on handmade baby gifts.
  3. Personal time x 1 + Daily Porch Time (It’s FALL y’all!)

So needless to say, between birthdays and training and school and a million other things, last week was a bad week to be ambitious.  And actually, September is a terrible month to be ambitious about my goals.  So, that being said, I am scaling down my goals.  One of my big goals for this week is going to be SLEEP because I’m so tired!  So, here goes…

Spiritual Goals:

1.  Daily Bible Reading & Prayer

Family Life:

1.  Home Schooling

2.  Hannah’s 4 year old check-up

3.  Visit Nanny Mary

Home Life

1.  Deep Clean House

2.  Prepare Adoption Paperwork

3.  Install Smoke Alarms & Address Safety Issues in the Home

4.  Daily Load of Laundry

Church Life

1.  Prepare Roots materials

2.  Look over new curriculum

Physical Life

1.  Get extra sleep

2.  Exercise x 2 this week

Social Life

1  Dinner with friends this weekend.

Financial Life

Legacy Goal

1.  Journal Entry for Adoption Journal

2.  Blog Posts x 3

Mental Life

1.  Read Glorious Ruin, Finish The Best Yes, and begin The Connected Child

2.  Daily Porch Time

3.  Continue working on baby gifts

What are your goals?

Weekly Goals

goal setting

 

I have been bad lately. I haven’t set goals for about 3 weeks, and I can tell. My house is a mess, my eating has been less than stellar, and my exercise is non-existent. Have I ever said that I am very goal-oriented? I need my goals! So, I’m looking forward to getting back at it this week.  Here’s my goal list for the week:

Spiritual Goals:

  1. Daily Bible Reading & Prayer
  2. Spend time in prayer for each child and their specific needs, as well as for our country, leaders, and for revival

Family Goals:

  1. Family Time x 3
  2. Prepare Adoption Paperwork
  3. Schedule Physicals for each Family Member
  4. Play with my Kids daily-Emphasis on Physical Education
  5. Lydia-Dr Appt at Arkansas Children’s Hospital

Home Goals:

  1. Deep Cleaning
  2. One Load Laundry Every Day
  3. Install Additional Smoke Alarms & Take Care of Safety Issues in the Kitchen

Church Goals:

  1. Write cards to Sunday School Class.
  2. Prepare Roots Materials
  3. Order Curriculum

Physical Goals:

  1. Track eating on Loseit.com App
  2. Drink only water, coffee in the morning
  3. Walk one mile per day (Leslie Sansone is my favorite exercise DVD series)

Social Goals:

  1. Touch base with friends by text message.
  2. Reschedule dinner w/family that we had to cancel last week.

Financial Goals:

  1. $30 Incidental Limit
  2. Purchase Grill

Legacy Goals:

  1. Journal Entry for Lydia’s Birthday! Happy Birthday Lydia!
  2. Blog Posts x 3

Mental Goals:

  1. Finish reading The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst and continue reading Glorious Ruin
  2. Begin working on handmade baby gifts.
  3. Personal time x 1 + Daily Porch Time (It’s FALL y’all!)

 

For some reason, having my goals written down, and posting them on my blog makes them very real to me, so I’m looking forward to getting back to some more discipline in my life this week. Are you goal-oriented? How do you do your goals? What are your goals for this week?

This Week’s Goals

I discovered about two years ago that I am very goal-oriented.  It was in the midst of having two precious little girls 15 months apart…both in diapers and a 5 year old boy.  I was in what seemed like a continual fog that never lifted, and to be honest, there’s so much about my girls’ baby years that I don’t remember because I was literally in survival mode.  In the process of clawing my way out of the fog, I found a website that changed the way I do everything.  MoneySavingMom.com was a God-send to my tired self.  Through Crystal Paine, I learned how to pace myself, set goals, and determine what’s most important.  So that was the beginning of my weekly goal-setting.  It has now become a Sunday afternoon tradition for me to sit down and determine my goals for the week.  It’s a great time for me to pull the week into focus.  So, I thought I’d share what I do, and if it works for you, GREAT!  I break my goals down into a few categories each week as follows:

1.  Spiritual Life

-Daily Bible Reading & Prayer

-Read “Am I Messing Up My Kids?” by Lysa TerKuerst (This is part of a Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study I’m participating in right now.  Great study!)

2.  Family Life

-Daily Family Time (We are reading through John)

-At least 2 fun activities w/the kids as a final nod to summer

-Make Hannah’s 4 yr old check up appt

-Finalize school preparations (I have a list of this but don’t want to bore you with it)

3.  Home Life

1 Deep Clean Day

-Daily Load of Laundry

4.  Church Life

-Send cards to Sunday School Kids

-Help Prep for Wednesday night event

-Prepare Sunday School Lesson

5. Physical Life

-Track food on LoseIt.com (highly recommend this!)

-Coffee, water, and hot tea only

-Exercise x 2

6.  Social Life

-Send text to friend to check on, make date to get together

7.  Financial Life

$50 Incidental Expenses Limit

8.  Legacy Goal (I’ll tell you more about this category in another post)

-Write 3 Blog Entries

9.  Mental Life

Personal Time x 2

-Start a new book (haven’t decided which one yet!)

 

I have a lot of categories, but keep in mind I’ve been doing this for 2 years now!  My list has expanded.  If you are just starting out, I would recommend picking a couple of categories this week, and expand as you grow more confident in goal setting.  Always make your goals realistic, and it’s best when your goals are measureable.  I struggle with this sometimes, as you can tell!  Mine are not always measureable, but I’m still growing in my goal setting too.  🙂

So, this is what my week looks like so far.  I’ll check back in with you next Sunday to let you know how I’ve done!  Have a great week!