Everyday Life

The Pink Dress That Stole Joy

When I was a little girl, there was this dress. It was so deliciously light pink. It came down to the ground, and it had ruffles around the bottom and the neckline and the sleeves.  It was my favorite dress ever.

But it didn’t belong to me. It belonged to a girl who was in my Sunday school class for all my growing up years named Joy. Joy, the girl who hardly ever smiled. But that dress she had! She was often late to class, and she flounced in wearing that dress and a sullen expression. To me, it said, “I am so above the rules and all of you. I have The Dress.” I don’t know if all the other girls had looks of pure envy mixed with defeat at the same time, but I know my face did. And Joy wore that dress every single week. Every week! Not once, in all my days of going to church in various dresses, did I have the nicest dress on in the class. Joy always won.

Needless to say, Joy and I weren’t friends. She had some older brothers I was scared of and she had The Dress, so there was pretty much no chance. Also, she was a lot taller and stronger looking than me; I was thoroughly cowed by her in all respects.

Why am I spend any time at all as an adult thinking about Joy and her dress? Well, the desire and struggle for true friendship is a big deal right now. It’s a topic on social media- how social media isn’t a good substitute or how it destroys good friendships. It’s been  coming up at MOPS meetings and in books. And it’s been coming up in mothering a six-year-old girl who is experiencing the up and down emotions of being a friend and making friends.  Authentic friendship is a work of art, and it does take work. Mostly, it takes working on ourselves and how we view others.

One of my friends from our home church spoke at MOPS last week, and it jogged my childhood memories of feeling less than and unworthy. She spoke about the way comparison knocks women off their feet. She asked what it would look like if women stood strong in who God created them to be, as individuals, with different strengths and weaknesses. All of us in that room were moved. We heard the familiar quote from Theodore Roosevelt, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” and for some reason, it struck me in a new way. It made me think about the person Joy and her dress from long ago. And all of a sudden, I’m realizing quite a few things that are striking me pretty hard now about Joy. In fact, they are almost slapping my face raw.

Joy wore the same dress every week. I interpreted that as a refusal to wear anything but The Dress. But what if, actually, she only had one church dress??? I had about ten every given year of my life, and there were some especially lovely ones. This was the deep South in the 90s, after all. Did I completely lose the delight I had in my own dresses just because Joy had the perfect dress for a year or two?

More importantly, though, I never even considered that Joy could actually be a friend. I already had some pretty great friends, but Joy’s dress made me feel demeaned, less than, and so I decided in my little girl brain that she probably wanted nothing to do with me. She didn’t need or want me, clearly. She never smiled and she never talked to me and she had the dress.

But what if I had smiled at her? What if I had said, “I like your dress.”?

Comparison is more than the thief of joy. Comparison is a wall blocking the path to true friendship. I completely missed out on being Joy’s friend when I was a little girl. I completely missed out on being thankful and delighted in my own dresses. I completely missed out on sharing love (at church!) with someone else, all because I let a dress make me feel unworthy.

I still see Joy pop up sometimes on social media, and she looks like such a fun, delightful person. It makes me wonder how many other people I think could never want to be my friend because they have [fill in the blank]– a nicer house, a perfect wardrobe, well-behaved and calm children, you name it. And then I think of another thing my friend said at MOPS: “Why would you want all your friends to be just like you?”

How boring. How stagnant. How impossible.

May we be people who see the good things in others and speak words of encouragement when we see it, not words of “I wish I could” or “I am so bad at that.” May we be people who admit when we could use some help. “You are so good at meal planning! Tell me your secrets!” May we be people who will accept encouragement when we receive it ourselves!

May we be true friends.

Reading, Top Ten Tuesday

Spring To Be Read – A Top Ten Tuesday List

It’s been eons since I’ve joined in on a Top Ten Tuesday link up, but I’m back at it today because I’m excited about several books coming out this Spring! For more ideas on what to read this Spring, head on over to The Broke and the Bookish and explore what others are reading!

~My list~

  1. The Summer Before the War, Helen Simonson

The Summer Before the WarAfter reading Simonson’s first book, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, I knew she was just the kind of author I like. Her new book follows a small town’s and a few of its inhabitants as the WWI looms over and then burst into their lives. I think Simonson will do a great job of capturing the setting and the characters, just as she did in Major Pettigrew, and I can’t wait to find out how her first attempt at  historical fiction turns out.

2. The Song of Hartgrove Hall, Natasha Solomons

I immediately put this on my TBR list after reading The Captive Reader’s early review of it. Natasha Solomon’s  The House at Tyneford was something of a Jane Eyre tale set in WWII, and it was beautifully written.  Now Solomons is in that same time period with her book The Song of Hartgrove Hall. In the UK, its title is The Song Collector, and I wish the publishers would have kept that title here in the States! It sounds like the title of a poem. But I’ll settle with the U.S. version and try to enjoy it anyway. =)

3. Keep Me Posted, by Lisa Beazley

Keep Me PostedSisters reconnecting through old fashioned letters in the modern age of social media? Sounds like a great read! I can think of all kinds of themes this book could explore, but I’ll have to wait til April 15 to find out what this book is really like. (Thanks to Memories From Books for alerting me to this new title!)

4. The Flood Girls, Richard Fifield

Set in Montana, The Flood Girls follows the coming home story of Rachel Flood as she tries to re-forge ties with her mother and slide back into the hilarious and quirky small town of Quinn. The Flood Girls is being compared to A League of Their Own and Russo’s Empire Falls — that’s enough for me to put it on my library hold list and give it a try!

5. Lilac Girls, Martha Hall Kelly

Another title with “girls” in it, but a completely different kind of book, Lilac Girls is based on the true story of Caroline Ferriday, an American woman whose post in the French consulate in 1939 led her into the fray of WWII and the pursuit for justice for two other women, German doctor Herta Oberheuser and polish girl Kasia Kuzmerick. This book tells the story of some unsung heroes of the era, and I’m looking forward to it!

6. Present Over PerfectShauna Niequist

I love Niequist’s books – she paints pictures with her words while lending perspective on embracing the beauty of this life while loving well and following hard after God. Bread and Wine gave me a better perspective on feeding my family and friends and even taught me a few things about cooking. Present Over Perfect doesn’t release til August, but I’m hoping to get an early copy. Fingers crossed!

7. Longing For Paris, Sarah Mae

Longing for Paris: One Woman's Search for Joy, Beauty, and Adventure--Right Where She IsAs a mom, it’s easy to feel like all you do is give everyone in your family what they need while ignoring the dreams that have been building inside of your for a lifetime. Sarah Mae gets this. She wrote Desperate from that place (one of my favorite books, by the way!), and now her new book is another exploration into finding hope in current situations. She has always wanted to spend time in Paris, but she’s never come close to that. Her book is about how all of us have ideals of places or positions that we think will truly fulfill us, but the art of living wholly here and finding joy right where we are is a worthy pursuit in this phase of life. I’ve got this one on my Kindle, just waiting for me to be brave enough to see what it’s all about.

8. High Rising, Angela Thirkell

I have not yet read anything by Angela Thirkell, but she is always mentioned in the same set as some of my favorite British authors, D.E. Stevenson and Barbara Pym, so I’m making it my goal to finally read High Rising this spring.

9. Last Stop on Market Street, Matt De La Pena

Winner of the 2016 Newberry Medal, this is one to go along with my Three Book Thursday series on children’s books. Stay tuned!

10. Many other books I have not discovered yet!

My reading lists are always fluid. I will stop reading some of these books I’ve listed today, or I will find other books that look better…but it’s always good to have goals and my goodreads.com to read list is always growing, despite how many books I check off!

Have a wonderful Spring full of books and outdoor reading, with lots of running around in the warm weather mixed in!

Children's Books, Three Book Thursday

Children’s Books To Soothe Your Eyes: Three Book Thursday

Welcome to another edition of Three Book Thursday! To see more posts of our favorite children’s books of the week, go here or here

Do you ever go into the kids section of a bookstore or library and feel like your eyes are being assaulted? Too many garish colors, too many puffy letters, and why so many drawings of children with huge heads?  Yes, I’ll let my children pick out all so

David Goes To School

rts of books to bring home from the library, but not without an occasional wince on my part. Nowadays when we go into the library, while the kids gather a few books and play with some puzzles, I’m scouring the shelves for books to read to my them that won’t make me to go to a secret place in my mind (Moo Ba La La La does this to me every time). I want the books that will sooth our eyes and bring us into beautiful places.

IMG_5202A few weeks ago, we stumbled on a few that were perfect. The first was My Red Balloon by Kazuaki Yamada. I loved the bright yet mellow colors and the soft sketches. Our littlest one enjoyed following the balloon on each page, and our older ones enjoyed the story in its own right. Plus, if you do all the voices for each animal, no kid can resist this book.

Little Boat

The second was The Little Boat by Thomas Doherty. My 4-year old boy wanted to read it over and over, and I actually didn’t mind.  The illustrations are epic and painted from different perspectives. We felt drawn right onto the ocean as we turned the pages. And all the blues and whites in this book are wonderfully soothing on a harried day.



Isaac couldn’t get enough of this book.

For our book board needs, I found the delightful Baby Bear Sees Blue by Ashley Wolff. Baby Bear is introduced to all the different colors by his mama as he goes through his day in the Baby Bear Sees Bluewoods. The colors are rich and the words are beautiful, too. Very young babies might not tolerate all the text, but my eighteen-month-old is enjoying it more and more. I’m finding that once a child gets used to a book, they know what to expect from the words on each page and aren’t so antsy. If you can get through a book a few times reading all the words, it’s quite likely your little ones won’t want to turn the pages as rapidly as they did at first. That’s my theory, anyway. =)

There are so many beautiful children’s books, it would take all day to write about them. Visit my Gorgeous Books Pinterest board to find some more!

What are some children’s books with illustrations that make you want to read them again and again?


Books I’ve Read in 2016

Whew! It’s March. We’ve moved. We’ve lost a lot of sleep. We’ve eaten pizza for what feels like sixty days. There is still a ton of work to be done on this fixer upper, but both my brain and my body have needed a vacation. Bermuda? Not quite. But books. Books are almost as good. (Just don’t argue with me about this, it’s all I’ve got right now).

Books I’ve Read in 2016

A Share in Death – The best way to totally get outside of your own head is to get into a detective novel.  This is the first in the long series of Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James mysteries by Deborah Crombie. I am a fan! Maybe it’s not quite as clever and twisty at the end as an Agatha Christie novel, but it’s almost as enjoyable. I’m now in the middle of the second book in the series, All Shall Be Well.

My Name Is Lucy BartonMy Name is Lucy Barton – If you’re a mom, this book is a little shattering but kind of encouraging at the same time. It’s mostly told from the hospital room of Lucy Barton, and centers on her relationship with her mother. Her mom comes to stay for a while with her while Lucy has a prolonged illness, but their relationship has been strained, to say the least, for a long time. The sweetness and strength of a child’s deep longing for her mother, no matter the age or how well her mother parented her, is still stuck in my mind. The books is sad, but there is hope in it and the artistry of Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout is stunning. She is one of those authors whose every word is pointed and not one line is wasted.

Goodnight, Mr. Wodehouse – If you are expecting anything at all Jeeve-ish or Wooster-ish when you pick this book, you will be very surprised. It has some good Good Night, Mr. Wodehousequalities despite its misleading title, though. The book follows the adult life of Nell Stillman, who lives in a small town in Minnesota. Set in 1900s-1960s, her life is harsh, as most midwestern lives seem to be in books set during this time period, but Nell finds solace in an unlikely place – a small shelf of books in the town’s power company office. Nell gains strength and understanding from her reading to endure well in her hard years. She is a delightful character, but it’s not until she discovers P.G. Wodehouse’s books that we see her love of humor come out. In the category of books for book lovers, I’d rate this one higher than either The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry or The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, for its highly developed and real characters and just right pace. I think fans of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn or Willa Cather would enjoy this book!

I’m now in the middle of El Dorado: The Further Adventures of The Scarlet Pimpernel and I am so ready to end this blog post and get back to it! The Scarlet Pimpernel was and remains one of my favorite books since I read it three times in my teen years. It’s one of the few books I forced my husband to read after we got married. He would probably admit that it was pretty good, although he doesn’t understand why I think it’s one of the best books ever. How I spent the next half of my life totally unaware that there were sequels about The Scarlet Pimpernel is a mystery, but I’m so thankful someone opened my eyes to the light (thanks, Hannah!).

Happy reading!

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