Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Favorite Books of 2019

I made one goal for this whole year, and it was to read more.  On this eve of a brand new year and decade, I can honestly say that I succeeded.  I read forty-five books in 2018, and in 2019, I read sixty.  My family is impressed, and that's all that counts, right?  Graham or Jonah pointed out that this means I read more than one book per week, on average.  Not two books per week, but more than one.  I was thinking more of monthly goals, and that averages to five books a month.  I read nothing in November and only the first book I read all December yesterday.

Starting tomorrow, I'm going to include numbers of pages I read, along with a running book count.  I'm still using the journal my friend Andrea bought me a couple of years ago, and it's reserved only for this purpose.  I challenged my stepdad Bill to join me in this, and I'm considering this a competition.  ;)

Here are all the books I read for the year, and I'll indicate by five stars which I loved most.

1. Girls Night Out, Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke
2. Cozy Minimalist Home, Myquillyn Smith
3. An American Marriage, Tayari Jones
4. Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng
5. When We Were Young, Karen Kingsbury
6. How To Walk Away, Katherine Center ***** (I am counting those little things as stars, and there are FIVE!)
7. Before and Again, Barbara Delinsky
8. Something In the Water, Catherine Steadman *****
9. The Apartment, Danielle Steel
10. The Light We Lost, Jill Santopolo
11. Night of Miracles, Elizabeth Berg
12. Every Breath, Nicholas Sparks
13. Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens *****
14. The Last Mrs. Parrish, Liv Constantine *****
15. Dumplin', Julie Murphy (This was a Netflix movie, too, and was even better.)
16. Falling, Jane Green *****
17. A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman
18. More Than Words, Jill Santopolo
19. The Mother's Promise, Sally Hepworth *****
20. Five Feet Apart, Rachel Lippincott with Mikki Daughtery and Tobias Ianconis
21. Fall From Grace, Danielle Steel
22. First Sight, Danielle Steel
23. The Lost Husband, Katherine Center
24. Small Great Things, Jodi Piccoult
25. Family Pictures, Jane Green
26. Two Weeks, Karen Kingsbury *****
27. Who I Am With You, Robin Lee Hatcher
28. Beauchamp Hall, Danielle Steel (This is pronounced Beecham Hall...who'd have thought?)
29. Ever Faithful, Karen Barnett
30. Accidental Heroes, Danielle Steel *****
31. Two By Two, Nicholas Sparks (I HATED THIS BOOK, but I had to finish.)
32. The Lemon Orchard, Luane Rice
33. The Secret of Clouds, Alyson Richman ***** (Possibly my favorite book of the year)
34. The Kiss Quotient, Helen Hoang (This was terrible, but again, I had to finish it.)
35. Waiting For Tom Hanks, Kerry Winfrey
36. A Silent Night, Danielle Steel
37. Saving Grace, Jane Green
38. The Military Wife, Laura Trentham
39. Courting Mr. Emerson, Melody Carlson
40. The Bride Test, Helen Hoang (I quit this author forever.)
41. Summer of '69, Elin Hilderbrand
42. The Family Next Door, Sally Hepworth
43. The Two Lila Bennetts, Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke
44. Rushing Waters, Danielle Steel
45. Something Needs to Change, David Platt *****
46. Raising Successful Teens, Jeffrey Dean
47. Love the One You're With, Emily Giffin
48. Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie
49. First Love, James Patterson *****
50. Eight Twenty Eight, Ian and Larissa Murphy
51. Miracle, Danielle Steel
52. Evidence of Mercy, Terri Blackstock
53. Blessing in Disguise, Danielle Steel
54. Slammed, Colleen Hoover
55. Confess, Colleen Hoover
56. Point of Retreat, Colleen Hoover
57. This Girl, Colleen Hoover
58. A Robertson Family Christmas, Miss Kay Robertson
59. All of the New Testament (of COURSE I am counting this, it was 562 pages.)
60. We Met in December, Rosie Curtis (I'm almost finished with this one, so I'm counting it for 2019!)

You'll notice several repeating authors, I know I can always fall back onto those when I'm in a slump or if I've read several duds in a row.

If I had to narrow this list down to my favorite book of the year, based upon the ability to not be able to put it down, it would be between a couple of these.  Also, I remember them, even now, after reading them months ago.  Here they are, counting down from five.

5. Two Weeks, Karen Kingsbury

4.  Something In the Water, Catherine Steadman

3. How To Walk Away, Katherine Center

2. The Last Mrs. Parrish, Liv Constantine

...and my favorite book of 2019 was such a random, accidental pick from the library, but that caught my attention immediately was...

1. The Secret of Clouds, Alyson Richman!

I remember almost every detail of this book, and it sparked several conversations I had after I read the book.  This would make an excellent book club book.  Also, several of the runners up were Reese Witherspoon book club books, and I know that I can always fall back on those when I need something fast.  Her list of books is VAST, and several of them from 2019 are on my To Read list for 2020.  I'm about to buy one today, because it's on sale for $5. 

I hope I've inspired you to read some more.  I also hope to exceed this number in 2020, but no promises.

Thanks for reading!  Love to all.

a look back on 2019

These are always my favorite posts to write, these year in review types of blog posts.  I love to look back and remember, and more often than not, it's always about the providence of God, and how good and kind He has been to my family.  I know that no matter what may come in 2020, the goodness of God will never change.  Without further ado, I give you my best and favorite parts of 2019.

Without a shadow of a doubt, I can share with you that my most life changing moments happen when I sit at the feet of Jesus and spend time with Him by praying, reading His word, and writing out passages of scripture.  If there is one thing you resolve to do in 2020, make it spending time with Jesus.  You will hear from Him each and every time, I promise.  You won't ever regret spending time with Him.  Make it your number one priority!  I suggest having a plan for this, if for no other reason than just holding yourself accountable. 

This piano was a gift to my mom, and is probably my most treasured thing that I own.  I share it with my sister Trish, and we've both had it over the years, but I don't think I'll ever get rid of it.  I love to sit here from time to time and pluck my way around new songs.  I don't read music, but I can play by ear pretty decently.  I remember on this night I was home alone and taught myself some of my favorite worship songs.  I sat there and play probably for two solid hours, and sang and worshiped my sweet Jesus.  He is so worthy. 

I updated my little corner that I sit in for my quiet time, and had to document it to share.  I use all those resources you see on that red cabinet, and it's when I'm sitting here in "my" spot (which is Noah's spot at the dinner table) that I talk to Jesus and read the Bible.  (I'm about to change all of this, though.  My sister Trish bought me a cute new thing I'm going to put here for my birthday.)

This is the daughter of one of my best friends, Abbey, and little Everly isn't so little anymore!  I am writing this and thinking of how much I miss Abbey and Everly, and the newest addition to their family, Asher.  I need to plan on getting over there to her ASAP to spend an afternoon.  Sadly, it didn't happen in December, like I'd hoped. 

What a milestone year for my youngest two.  Jonah and Noah turned sixteen on March tenth, and drove off as I stood there all teary eyed and praying over them.  It makes me teary to even write that!  Time flies, and those sixteen years zipped right on by.

And the very next day, Graham turned twenty.  I still can't believe how old they are. 

We also celebrated two of the granddads in this month and they came over to eat dinner for the occasion.  March is slightly chaotic for us Goodwins.

Drew hit his last year of being a teenager a mere few days after those birthday celebrations with Papa and Pappaw, and to celebrate him, I took him to Chili's, where he proceeded to eat all of his food, most of mine, and a whole piece of molten lava cake our waitress gave him for free.  It was a good day.  I remember this day, someone gave out his number to all their friends, and all these strangers were texting him happy birthday. 

This day will always go down as one of my favorite days of all time.  Barbee and Eileen surprised Missy and me that day and whisked us off for coffee flavored milkshakes and spring gifts.  We spent a good two hours in Square Beans on our town square talking and laughing.  Since this day, Barbee has had several issues and Eileen suffered from a stroke.  Her son took her to live with him and his family as she recovers and as her sight returns.  I haven't spoken with her since all this happened, but I've texted with her some of her family.  I am so grateful for godly women like these two who pour into us younger women.  There are no others quite like them.

 I had the privilege of helping lead worship at our spring women's conference at our church, and it was such a sweet two days spent together with like minded women.  It's always a blessing to be at this event!  We have one coming up soon again, and I'd love it if you'd come. 

These sweet angels are a highlight of the year.  Hearing them call me Jen is one of my greatest joys.

Reading more was a goal of mine for 2019, and it was a very successful year.  I am currently reading book number fifty eight, and it'll be my last book of the year, most likely.  I totally slacked and read nothing in all of November and December.  I'm rolling my eyes at my own self. 

I bought this lamp back in January with some Christmas money that I'd gotten that Christmas, and the day I decided to put all these rocks my boys have collected for me over the years was a light bulb moment kind of day for me.  I love that they're all in one spot now, and I love looking at them!  I've always said that someday I'm going to write a book about what being a mom to all boys has been like, and the title of it will have something to do with rocks.  I love them so much, and I have LOVED being a boy mom!

These flowers were so beautiful that were at my mom-in-love's house this past spring and summer.  They represent going and getting her and us swimming together during the warmer months.

See?  We almost always had the pool to ourselves.

 I spent two months in the summer in this boot.  I fractured my foot for the second time in my life, and remember that I am deficient in vitamin D, so now I take this regularly everyday.

My husband and his partner Chris were both promoted this year with the sheriff's department, and I am so proud of him!  We call Chris "work wife".  He's a drama queen.  ;)

You all know that I don't see movies in the theater, but occasionally I'll go and this one was my favorite!  I loved Aladdin as a teenager, but this one blew me away.  Missy and I were the last two people in the theater.  We just kept sitting there and singing along with the music.

Speaking of Missy, this was another highlight of my year, going on a birthday trip for her to Bentonville, Arkansas.  Missy's mom passed away in May, this was in June, around the fifth, and we thought we were going away for her to get away and rest after her mom dying.  Little did we know that this trip was the quiet before a major storm, and that a short two weeks later, her last living sibling would die very shockingly and unexpectedly.  God did that, as only He can in all of His goodness and providence, and this trip provided us with so much laughter.  It would be a lifeline for her and for me both, as we walked that hard road together.  If you think of Missy, pray for her.  Grief is so strange, and hits at the most unusual times.

On a lighter note, I also got to see my beloved niece and great niece (and her husband, Mike) when they passed through town on their way out west.

That's sweet Claire with my boys.  (Noah was at youth camp, and Todd was at home sick from dehydration from the day he had spent working with the sheriff's department.)

These lovebirds celebrated fifty years of marriage in August, and I planned and coordinated an anniversary party for them.  My husband, mom, and sister Trish were a huge help to me on that actual day as I ran around like a chicken with my head cut off.  It was an exhausting weekend.

My boys got to see their beloved first grade Sunday school teacher, Joanna Coscia that same weekend.  She burst into tears when she saw them and told me she didn't want a picture of her with them while she was crying and carrying on, but we couldn't pass up the moment.  Is she not absolutely precious?  She reminds me so much of my Grandma Lloyd.

Also in this month, I got to celebrate my sweet mom's birthday!  How fun that we were twinning on the day I took this picture?  We laughed and laughed over this.

Just a few short days later in September, I celebrated Trish's birthday with Dad and Sandy at our favorite Mexican place.  Mom and Bill were in Colorado with our family there, and she and I pretty much spent that weekend together.  Again, with the quality time being my favorite.

My favorite man and I celebrated our twenty third anniversary on October fourth this year, and we went out a day early so he could work on that actual night.  #reallife

We led worship at The Dwelling Place in Memphis in October, as well, and it was one of my favorite nights of all time.  It's always such a privilege to be able to do this kind of thing, especially when it takes us outside our own church walls.  My friend Tea and I rode together and were soaking wet upon getting into my car afterward in the torrential rain.  It was a fun night, filled with laughter and worship.

Also in this month, I was invited to a private screening of NBC's (then) new show, Bluff City Law.  I have no idea how my name was put onto such an exclusive guest list, but sure enough, when we got there, we had wrist bands with our names printed on them.  (I had to email someone to tell her who I was bringing.)  It was a fun, star studded night!

Again in this month, Drew started clinicals and back in August, started his first semester of nursing school. 

In November, we got to see our sweet Marissa get married, and had a fun weekend as a family of six. 

Beginning in the fall, all the renovations on our house finally started, and are still going strong.  We had all the pipes replaced from the street to the house, we have all new and beautiful windows, we have new garage doors, and we will have all new vinyl siding, the kind with a lifetime warranty.  My awesomely talented stepdad Bill and Jonah and Noah built this roof structure over the front porch (and will eventually do the same for the back), and when warmer weather hits this spring, they'll rebuild a low deck on the back of the house.  I've been busy inside painting, but I took a break for Christmas and will start again next week sometime.  I only have a small bit left in the downstairs, but I'm adding my kitchen into the mix.

Also in November, Noah had the trip of a lifetime, and traveled to L.A. with his best friend, his mom, and his aunt.  They went all over the place while they were there and did so many fun things, but all of his dreams came true, and he came home with stories aplenty. 

This year, I led small group twice for bible study at our church, and this is a small bunch of us as we celebrated sweet Kristen and her little baby girl who should be born any day.  This was a fun night!  It's a privilege to be able to lead a small group, and it's one I don't take lightly.  We're starting round three of this in a couple of weeks.

Also this year, the Lord gave me an opportunity to work at my church with my friend and director of women's ministries, Amy.  (I haven't worked since right before Thanksgiving, though, but plan on going back after the new year.)  In saying yes to that, the Lord also opened up some doors for me to write.  I wrote the first book of a series for young children that I thought of based upon the life of our dog Crash, and when I submitted it to some publishing companies, it turns out they wanted to publish it.  I did not take them up on their offers, because they want too much money up front.  I'm still getting phone calls about the book, but if the Lord wants to do something with that, He will provide a way and will make everything fall into place. 

Additionally, I've started writing regularly for an online magazine for women called Tirzah Magazine.  The latest thing God has opened up a door for is for a writing team at my church, and I am on it, along with a small handful of other godly, wise women.  (But seriously, who am I, that God would give me such an opportunity?  He is always so good!)  We are meeting one day coming up in January, and plan on just talking, praying, and brainstorming for a whole day, if we need to, as we come up with a plan.  Our first study will roll out in August of 2020, but it needs to be written first.  If you think of us, will you pray for us?  I know that they would all agree with me when I say that our deepest desire is to honor the name of Jesus, and that we desperately need the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us, and give us wisdom and insight as we write.

On a lighter note, this was the Christmas lights crew out at Dad's this year.  Jonah and Noah were out of town, Graham was sick, and Drew got a free pass because it wouldn't have been fair for him to be the only one there helping if the others weren't.  We outdid ourselves this year.

Our Fridays have continued, but they may look a little different in these coming days.  Dad is pretty much down for the count, because of an issue with his back and the vertebrae being bone on bone.  He is in constant pain right now, and cannot walk without the help of a walker like thing he uses in his house.  Just last night he and Sandy and my sisters Trish, Terri, and Debi came over for dinner, and we gave him the one we borrowed from my dad-in-love that he can use when he's out in public.  It's an actual walker and so much lighter than the one he uses in his house.  If you think of him, will you pray for him?  I am just asking the good Lord to help him have some relief from the constant pain.  Also, pray for my stepmom Sandy, as her roll changes.  I've made her promise to let me know of anything I can do to make her life easier in any way.  She promised she would, so I'm going to hold her to it, but I know she could also use your prayers for endurance.

It breaks my heart to write all that, and it's not the easiest thing to see, but we are so grateful to God for all these wonderfully healthy years that Daddy has had, and still has possibly, with the exception of this back thing and pain.  It's hard to see him like this, but we know that God is in control.  He is still good, and we trust in Him and in His perfect plan. 

The rest of the year is all about Christmas, and you've seen all the most recent pictures. 

I have so very much to be thankful for.  We have a beautiful home, we all have our health, we have good and dependable vehicles to drive, we have food to eat and clean water to drink, and most importantly, we have the love of the Lord.  I am so grateful that all my sons know Him and love Him, even though that doesn't look quite like what I'd hoped.  My prayer for them in this coming year is that their relationship with the Lord would be strengthened and grow, and that they would fully depend on Him as their cornerstone.  I always pray that they would spend time with Jesus each and every day. 

I am so thankful for my wonderful husband, and that he leads our family so well, with strength, and might, and with loads of integrity.  He has taught our sons well, and I am so very grateful to him for that.  I saw a saying a long time ago, that anyone could be a father to children, but that it takes a real man to be a Dad.  I wholeheartedly agree with that statement, and the Lord gave me the best of the best, when it comes to being a dad to our sons.

The Lord keeps showing me, when it comes to marriage, that it grows and changes each year and with the growth and maturity of our sons.  The older they all get and the more they grow up, the more the Lord shows me that just like it was just Todd and me at the very beginning, it's going to be just Todd and me again in these later years.  Someday all the kids will be gone and out of our house, and if I don't work on our marriage more and focus more on US, the further apart Todd and I will grow.  And that will not be the case, not for us.  So my prayer is for us to focus more on us and our marriage this coming year.  I would love to have lots and lots of random times together, just he and I, and I'd love for us to take a trip somewhere alone.  I'll be over here busy and dreaming of that and making some plans.  I don't need any place extravagant, either, I'd be happy with a short trip to somewhere just for a night or two.  The main point is that I want it to just be the two of us, and that we get to spend precious time together.

Well, I think this is about as long as I can handle.  If you're still here reading, thanks for coming along with me on my look back at this year.  I know so many people who have had the worst year of their lives to date, and even though I've walked with some of them, it's not been that way for us in my own family.  It's been hard from time to time, don't get me wrong, but overall, it's been more good than anything else.  I'm thankful for 2019, and for the personal growth in my own relationship with the Lord.  I grow closer to Him each year, and that is my continued hope. 

I pray that for you, the Lord would keep you, bless you, and make His face shine upon you.  I pray that you always find encouragement here on this little slice of internet, and that I always point you to Jesus.  It's never my intention to boast or brag on anyone or anything but the Lord Himself, so I pray you never get that feeling from me on here.  If you do, say something!  From time to time, my eyes do get off focus from Him, and sometimes I need some perspective.  Just say it in a kind way, please.  I don't like meanness. 

May your 2020 be wonderful, and full of the love of Jesus.

Thanks for reading my blog!  Love to all. 

Friday, December 27, 2019

December Friday Favorites ~ last one of the year!

I'm not linking up with anyone today, but I thought I'd share some of what makes this month my favorite month of the whole year.  My only issue with it is how fast the rest of the time flies after December 14, which is my birthday.  It seems like it's four days between then and Christmas, and you all know by now that it's not Christmas DAY I love, but the entire Christmas SEASON.  I just want time to hover between Thanksgiving night and Christmas eve, but without all the chaos of stressing over gifts.  I told Toddley last week that everyone's getting gift cards next year.  (I was kidding.)

Here's a look back over the whole month, along with some other favorite things that have gone on the past few weeks. 

I can't let this post go by without mentioning #allthememories from years gone by.  I loved this age the boys were when this was taken!  Everything was extra magical because they still believed in the man on whose lap they sat, I could tell them what to wear and how to behave and they'd listen, and we couldn't ever stay out late because they could never hang and we went to bed early every night.  I do also love these older years, though.  For instance, this year on Christmas morning, nobody was up before eight.  Todd wakes up automatically at seven something every day and I wake up automatically between five and six each morning, and we ended up waking everyone up.  Except Noah.  He was already up.

The night I posted this picture was the night we got all the Christmas decorations out the attic at my in-love's house.  Another favorite thing of mine for this month and season is all the time with family.  This year it all seemed extra sweet and special. 

This was our second time to make the trip to Jackson, Tn together to go to Englewood Baptist church to see their Christmas program.  Our second favorite worship leader leads music there, and it was so good!  I love when things like that are worshipful, instead of performance driven.  I have been in a church that was very performance driven, and it never seemed to honor God as much to me.  Give me a night of worship anytime, and I'll be happy.

We spent the day shopping and laughing and talking about anything and everything.  It was so much fun and it's always one of my favorite things, being with my best friend.  Also, on Christmas night, we may or may not have talked on the phone for a solid hour and a half.  That's why we're friends~we never run out of things to say.

That leads perfectly up to this next picture, with my girl Christa, and I'll let it represent time with friends.  Three times this month I got to hang out with each of my best friends, and I loved the time we had together.  A girlfriend can never be replaced by any other relationship.  There is something so special to me about this kind of bond, and when Jesus is at the center of your friendship, well, it's a lifelong, unbreakable bond. 

(Not pictured is Andrea, whom I got to see TWICE this month, thanks to a random sighting at her neighborhood Kroger this week!  A definite kiss from the King, as our friend Kari would have said, and how sweet of the Lord to let us see each other on the day she passed away one year ago.)  In January, when we meet again, we will take a picture this time, Andrea!

Our Christmas night of praise and worship was one of our biggest and my favorite to date.  My mom and stepdad were there, as well, but I didn't get a picture.  My in-love's couldn't come because of some knee pain my mom-in-love was having, but I am glad that Sandy had Dad and me take this picture.  Time with him is always a favorite, but I loved that my parents always come to support me in whatever I'm doing.  It means so much more to me than I could adequately express. 

Christmas decorations are my favorite!  I didn't think I'd want to take them down before New Years day, but sure enough, I'm growing tired of it all and may take it all down on Monday.  It will all have been up for one month, at that point.

Coffee mugs were a theme for me this Christmas!  I got a set of six new ones I asked for from my in-love's, and my sister Debi got me one of those really cute initial mugs from Anthropologie that I love.  They know me so well. 

This mug also represents spending quality time with people I love.  This was one purchase I bought for myself the day my mom-in-love and I went Christmas shopping.  We had a full day!  We started early and were out until around three that afternoon.  She also did this same thing with each of my sons, with Jonah and Noah sharing their time out with Mimi.  I think quality time is each of our love languages.  Speaking of that, it's also mine and Todd's, and several times this month, we would just run to a store together really quick while we were alone, and it was so nice.  We did this on Monday night, we just ran into the Kroger really fast to grab a few things.

My mom and I had a lot of quality time together this month, as well, as we shopped together, or went and got our nails done together, or just ran to Costco together.  I would love to actually schedule more of that kind of thing in 2020...and just made some plans to do this on a day coming up in January.

(One of the mugs in the set I got for Christmas.  They make me really happy...it doesn't take much.)

This wasn't in December, but it was one of my favorite times of 2019, when we went to Mississippi for a weekend to see our sweet friend Marissa tie the knot.  Her photographer offered to take this picture with my phone, and even she was surprised at how great it turned out on a cell phone, no less, in just one quick shot.  These people make me laugh, love, cry, and just about everything in between. 

This was just this week, but it can also represent another favorite thing of 2019, and that was reading the New Testament along with my church family.  I loved reading the same plan with all of them, and then hearing my pastor preach from the week's reading every Sunday.  It was like a huge accountability group.  Today we finished the plan and I'm a little sad.  If they don't come up with a reading plan for all of us to do together in 2020, I'm going to read through the Bible chronologically again. 

Sisters and family can be represented by this picture of Trish and me from Christmas day.  I got to see ALL OF MY SISTERS this month!  Lisa was here again for my nephew's birthday, Debi is here now, and Terri is here now.  Trish lives here, so I'm fortunate to get to see her pretty often.  Aren't we festive?!  That necklace is a favorite gift from this month that Missy bought me on her trip to Gatlinburg.  I have worn it a lot!

For about a week, I took an accidental break from social media, and wasn't on there very often.  And then from Monday~Wednesday, I wasn't on my phone much at all, not even to take pictures, which is very uncharacteristic of me.  But I liked it, and I hope to do that some more.  It was nice to just live in the moments, not even to document them.  I depend on my journal and this blog for more of the memories, anyway.  I have so much more to say about this, but I'm about to wrap this post up and go have some quiet time with Jesus before I start the rest of my day.  It's an easy one today, and I'm not leaving home until this afternoon, when we all go out to celebrate my hubby's birthday.

He's finally forty-three, just like me.  We do this night every year with his parents, and it's one of my favorite nights every single time.  We always have an abundance of laughter and antics, and I know tonight will be no different. 

Well, I'm off to get started on this day.  Thanks for always reading my blog!  Love to all. 

Friday Favorites, 7.12.2024.

  Hi, friends! As you can tell, I'm forcing myself to be here often, because my life needs to resume some sort of normalcy right now; th...