Thinking, Playing, Reading

November is the month to put the practice of gratitude to work.

I have learned so much about the difference that pure, true gratitude can make in my life these past couple of years.  It is easy to say "I am so thankful for this or that" when everything seems to be going ok.  But what if life sucks?  Really-there are times in everyone's life where it seems like everyone else seems has it easy but us and our nice plan of how life is supposed to look (and wouldn't we ALL choose rainbows and butterflies?) blows up in our faces and the "why me's?" set in. 

I listened to a podcast where someone gave the example of two very different experiences-on one side was a person who seemed to have it easy-a great childhood, so much learning and opportunity and a chance to experience this and that, and another side-someone with hard things that happened and tough circumstances with family members and painful experiences, and then asked the audience, "Which life would you choose?"  The kicker was both of those stories came from the same person-it was the way they chose to look at their life that made all the difference-it was the way they chose EVERYDAY to think about life.  I visualize it as the choice between taking two paths-one is bitterness and discontent and always a yearning for something easier and more and better than what we have, and the other path is Jesus holding our hand, walking along with us and helping us see the good in every circumstance and all our blessings.

Remember there is always a person who would jump into our spot in life in a heartbeat, even with its tough crosses.  There is always someone who has it worse off right now and would change places with us if they could. 

This is one of those years when I really feel the need to soak up Advent as much as I can.  (If anyone has a great Advent devotional to suggest, I am looking for one!)

I have been doing some online shopping with the plan of being all finished with the errands and hustle and bustle before Advent sets in.

Here are some lovely gift ideas I've purchased along the "something to wear, play with and read" line of gift-giving:

I just couldn't resist this outfit-loving this line of clothing for little girls!

Girls's Dress
Girl's Leggings

A cute princess dress up dress with an the all-the-rage unicorn applique.

40% off this ATV City Lego set!

A pretty and inexpensive Iphone case.

A "keep it simple" make up organizer.

Cutest little kitty coffee cup. (They have a bunch of other animal choices.)


Just finished this EXCELLENT book for our book club.  It's a fast, easy read with a little mystery involved.  Just a really good coming-of-age story about a girl who raises herself as an outcast in the marshland of North Carolina. 


  1. I always love your toy and book suggestions (granddaughters!). I read Timothy Keller's Hidden Christmas each Advent. I'll look forward to reading what others like too!

  2. I have done/read to my kids Ann Voscamp's Advent/Jesse Tree Devotional she had on her blog from years ago. It was very well done. I just checked on her blog and she now has a book called the "The Wonders of the Greatest Gift". If it is the same one or similar to the other one, then I would highly recommend. Blessings : )

  3. Our family has really liked doing the advent calendar here https://newtraditioncrafts.com/ They have an ornament and devotional/scripture for each of the 25 days in December. We have loved it because it has helped us focus on the true meaning of Christmas.

  4. I always love your book suggestions! (Toys, too, as I have all little ones!) on my list this year is The Prince of Peace: Meditations for Advent and Christmas by Alban Goodier.

  5. Sarah, I've benefitted from so many wonderful suggestions you've shared over the years: books, toys, recipes, cleaning and organizational tips, and parenting advice. (My granddaughter is 5 and I have children the same age as your older children. Plus, I'm a Ohioan who grew up in Cleveland Heights and whose father was an alum and worked at JCU for 20+ years; my daughter attended OSU for one year before graduating from Georgetown; I've lived in the Washington, DC area for 35 years; and am a Catholic and a Montessorian--so much in common!)
    So, I'm happy and pleased now to have the chance to recommend a book called Advent Thirst...Christmas Hope: Prayer and Meditation for the Journey by Anita M. Constance. I've enjoyed it and benefitted from it for years, and it's available used on Amazon. Thanks for continuing your meaningful blog. Praying for your continued recovery and good health.

  6. Blessed Is She has a beautiful new devotional out now, Sarah ... just released a week or two ago: https://blessedisshe.net/product/bearing-light-advent-devotional/. You might enjoy it ... I know I do!

  7. I just finished Where the Crawdads Sing this week as well! Have a wonderful week.

  8. Thank you! Thank you for the "thinking" reminder. I have to remind myself that all of the time. We certainly have some trials in our lives right now but when I look there has been and may be some good that has/will come out of it. Still in the thick of things but I know if I truly believe there will be lots of light at the end of the tunnel.

  9. I got the Blessed is She devotional and Take Up and Read's new Rooted in Hope Advent devotional. They're both so beautiful, and I am not sure which I will use. I would love a followup to hear what you choose.
    Also, while my husband thinks it is crazy for the last year or so I've tried to get as much shopping and Christmas tasks done before Advent so I can focus on the real preparation for the birth of Jesus. There still is a scramble at the end, but it has been better.

  10. I second the Ann Voskamp suggestion from above - all of her writing is beautiful!

  11. I just chose this book as our next book club selection. Really looking forward to reading it. So glad to see how much you enjoyed it.

  12. The last 2 sentences in your "thinking" section about how there is always someone who would trade our situation for theirs really hit home! I've been struggling with some challenges over the past week that have really gotten me down and it's so easy to feel like you said: why me? But honestly, compared to so many people alive on this earth right now I have it so good! What an impact having a different perspective can have. Thank you for the timely reminder.

  13. Matthew Kelly has a great book, Rediscover Advent. And his Dynamic Catholic website has an Advent email series, "Best Advent Ever" (also "Best Lent Ever")

  14. I'd love to listen to that podcast you mentioned, if you can give me any more info on it. Thanks!

    1. I'm not sure what episode it was but it's The Life School Podcast.

  15. My husband and I love this beautiful little book, A Child in Winter, by Carol Houselander. I look forward to it every Advent and Christmastide. Simple daily reflections which are beautifully written.