Currently on My To-Read List

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I’m reading more these days than I have in years, and feeling relieved that I’ve finally found the discipline within myself to put down my smartphone and pick up a bound book at times. I’ve always been an avid reader, but in recent years I fell into a careless habit of relaxing by reading blog posts and news articles and social media during my free time instead of delving into a book. Fortunately I’ve been able to make a shift in the other direction again, and I’m once again enjoying the brain stimulation involved in committing to finishing a longer work.

The stack waiting for me at my bedside currently includes:

  1. Blog Inc. | Blogging for Passion, Profit, and to Create Community by Joy Deangdeelert Cho
  2. Surprised By Scripture | Engaging Contemporary Issues by N. T. Wright
  3. Sacred Marriage | What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy? by Gary Thomas
  4. Every Bitter Thing is Sweet | Tasting the Goodness of God in All Things by Sara Haggerty
  5. Strong Women, Soft Hearts | A Woman’s Guide to Cultivating a Wise Heart and a Passionate Life by Paula Rinehart
  6. Go to Church,  Change the World | Christian Community as Calling by Gerald J. Mast
  7. Create Your Own Money-Saving Adventure | by Malea Politis Johnson
  8. Trim Healthy Mama Plan | The Easy-Does-It Approach to Vibrant Health and a Slim Waistline by Pearl Barrett & Serene Allison
  9. The Myth of a Christian Nation | How the Quest for Political Power is Destroying the Church by Gregory A. Boyd
  10. Jesus Wants to Save Christians | A Manifesto for the Church in Exile by Rob Bell & Don Golden
  11. Humans of New York | Stories by Brandon Stanton

Some of these have been on my bookshelf waiting to be read for several years, and my recent KonMari attack brought them to my attention. The ones on this list are the ones I still wanted to read badly enough that I decided to keep them, at least for now.

You can keep tabs on what I’m reading and loving on Goodreads. My goal is to get through the stack by the end of 2015. Then, I can make a new list for the new year! What would you recommend that I add?

Don’t Miss Today’s Guest Post at Beautiful Undefined

I’ve had the privilege and great honor of writing a guest post for today about capsule wardrobe for one of my current blogger heroes, Alicia, over at Beautiful Undefined. Hop on over and check it out!

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Sneak peek | One shirt, three ways. Versatile pieces are key in a working capsule wardrobe!

My lovely cousin Alyssa styled and shot the photos for this post. We had so much fun together and I was thrilled with the ideas she brought to the shoot + her sharp eye.

Click the links and leave these ladies some love! ❤

Minimalism vs. Essentialism

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These two words, and the concepts they represent, have been squatting on some pretty prime real estate in my heart and brain, lately. I’m still plugging through back episodes of The Lively Show and being inspired towards things like simplicity, intention, efficiency, and authenticity, and I’m reading Jen Hatmaker’s 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, and I’m having conversations with friends and family about de-cluttering and eliminating excess. I’ve been working on perfecting my summer capsule wardrobe, and helping my husband with his, and going through other drawers and cabinets and storage containers around the house, getting rid of things that we don’t love. I have a capsule wardrobe collaboration coming up, and hopefully some more similar projects. Life in general continues to invoke deeper meaning, the longer I live.

I’ll definitely have to post a full-fledged book review of 7 once I’m finished with it, so I’ll save my ramblings on that for now. But that, along with the Essentials issue of Kinfolk Magazine I was reading while we were camping the other weekend, the conversation I had with my friend Jenny on the way home from the beach yesterday, and an article I read online last evening, have distracted my thinking for much of the day.

The aforementioned article was called The Problem With Minimalism. The title caught my eye as I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed, and since it was posted by a friend whose opinions I value and admire, I decided to check it out. (If you haven’t opened that link in a new tab by now, do it before you scroll down any further!) It’s a somewhat lengthy but easy-read discussion of the elitist persona that minimalism tends to incur, which put into words some of the struggle I’ve been wrestling with as I’ve been getting rid of things. Also, as one commenter on my Facebook post noted, it evaluates both sides of the spectrum without demoralizing either one.

The Kinfolk issue referenced “essentialism” as an alternative to minimalism. It’s maybe mostly a splitting of hairs terminologically, but the difference between the two is realizing, investing in, and hanging onto the things that are “essential” to each of our individual versions of “the good life” as opposed to trying to “make do” with as few things as possible (in some cases, even assigning a number to that goal, i.e. The 100 Things Project).

If the process of letting go of material possessions in order to create more time and energy for people, for the things we really love, and for the Creator and His Creation is something you’re intrigued by, that particular article and that particular magazine (Issue 16) are some of my most highly recommended reading. You can also click here for a few other resources I referenced a couple weeks ago.

What’s been inspiring you towards a higher quality of life lately? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Fun Facebook Feeds

Recently I shared some of my current favorite blogs. Today I want to introduce you to a few of my favorite Facebook pages + feeds.

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  1. IHeart OrganizingA fun “mom blog” relating to all things decorating and organizing. I love her homemade cleaner recipes!
  2. Still Mothers – This page has some uplifting content for parents who have lost babies and have no living children.
  3. A Miracle Unfolding – Gardner Quadruplets – This is a couple who, after eight years of infertility, conceived through IVF two sets of identical twins. The girls were born right after Christmas and their parents do a great job of updating their half-million fan base with a ton of cute pictures.
  4. Native American Nutritionals – I haven’t actually purchased anything from this company as of yet, but they share some great information on and recipes using things like essential oils.
  5. Nameberry – I love keeping tabs on what people are naming their babies these days. Lots of name history and fun facts here, too!
  6. Story of This Life – I just love Esther’s sense of humor, and her memes…they make my day, over and over.
  7. Gentle Delivery Childbirth Services – Midwife Kelsey Martin, CPM – Kelsey shares tons of excellent articles relating to pregnancy, labor, and delivery, making her page a rich resource for all things childbirth-related.
  8. Apartment Therapy – Ahhh, Apartment Therapy — one of the very best things in all of the internet, in my opinion. Follow them for easy access to a ton of great interior design inspiration + housekeeping & living tips.
  9. The Thrifty, Frugal Mom – I’ve learned so much from Lydia about couponing, budgeting, and living frugally in general.
  10. Bonus for you locals: Things To Do Lancaster PA – Links to good eats, events, and more! We love to come here for date night ideas. 🙂

And by the way, have you liked The Realization of Good on Facebook yet? It’s a great way to keep up with the latest around here. 🙂

I’d love to hear from you…what are some of your favorite Facebook pages?

A Few Books That Changed My Life

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  1. Disappointment with God: Three Questions No One Asks Aloud by Philip Yancey puts pain and hardship into perspective by addressing with biblical certainty some of life’s hardest questions.
  2. The Irresistible Revolution: Living As an Ordinary Radical by Shane Claiborne paints a description of the modern-day version of walking the earth like Jesus did.
  3. Not for Sale: The Return of the Global Slave Trade–and How We Can Fight It by David Batstone was the first book I read about human trafficking, and its message has never been far from my mind since.
  4. Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina Mae Gaskin completely revolutionized my view of the labor of love that is an intrinsic part of bringing a child into the world. (A must-read for any pregnant woman!)
  5. The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power is Destroying the Church by Gregory A. Boyd helped me be able to put into words my political views (which are, in many senses, non-existent) by highlighting Jesus’ “power-under” kingdom and its contrast to earthly greatness. (This would be a relevant read in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling that many Christians are up in arms about.)

Blogs To Love

I’ve compiled a list of some of my current favorite blogs and bloggers that I think you might enjoy, too!

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  1. Whitney Schey at Whitney Darling Photography – a wedding photographer + photojournalist who has a way with words like few others [her posts always, always make me smile]
  2. Rebekah Stoltzfus at Rebekah Viola Photography – a local photographer whose style, spirit, & soul just draw people in [her Instagram is quite follow-worthy, as well]
  3. Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York – a photojournalist with a huge heart + a knack for extricating the secrets of human hearts, who is compelling people to extend love and grace to other people, all over the world
  4. Char Co. – a team of creative minds who do photography, styling & design, consulting, and more + offer up some great inspiration along with links to cool things online
  5. Rebecca Shetler at Citizen of A Country Without Borders – a budding artist + long-time friend of mine who has a heart for social justice and the Kingdom of Heaven (who also happens to be celebrating a birthday today!)
  6. Alicia Lapp at Beautiful Undefined – a new mama chronicling her life with her little family + sharing some gorgeous images
  7. Katie Kline at A Girl Named Katie – an up-and-coming fashion designer + talented seamstress + producer of handmade beauty
  8. Love, Teach – a super witty, super funny, super charming teacher brimming with stories from her classroom + random life
  9. Krista Beiler at The Love in the Shadows – my sweet sister! who is doing an internship at Thirst Missions in her beloved country of Belize this summer

Your turn! I’d love to be able to add to this list! What are your favorite blogs right now and why?


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A Favorite Book | Story: Recapture the Mystery

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I loved high school for a lot of reasons, but one of the things I miss the most about that period of my life is the amount of time I had to spend (or maybe just chose to spend) reading books. This was before smart phones and blogs and social media were really mainstream, so pulling out a book was my downtime go-to, and I read hundreds of pages every day.

Back then, I occasionally shopped at the Good’s Store in Quarryville, and they had this great table of bargain books for a few dollars each where I’d often stock up on new nonfiction titles that caught my eye. Steven James’ Story: Recapture the Mystery was a random gem I picked up there one day, and it’s been on my Favorite Books of All Time list ever since.

I think I actually did a book report on it during my Junior year, one of those assignments we were to give an oral presentation for — and I think I might have taken up, like, the whole class period, which totally docked my grade since it was probably supposed to be a ten-minute deal or something like that. (So much for the model student idea.) (My apologies to the students who had to sit through that class.)

Anyway, Story is, as its name suggests, a story-form version of, in general, Christ’s gospel. Mr. James is a first-class storyteller and his written version is visually light and mindfully engaging. Much of them in the form of free verse, its pages are raw, honest, human. It’s the kind of book you read on a blanket in front of the fireplace on a snowy night or in a hammock in the backyard on a summer afternoon — in quiet, in solitude, in nature.

If you read it, let me know what you think! Also, I’d love to hear what book YOU read long ago that has had a profound impact on your life and that you reread and reread without growing bored.