Monthly Archives: December 2012

My 2012 Bookshelf

I stole this idea from Kim, who does lots of book reviews on her blog (though she is blessed to make it through many more than me!)

But thought it would be fun to keep track of all the books I’ve read this year (check out last year’s bookshelf post)

Here goes:

The Scent of Rain and Lightening Nancy Pickard: interesting and suspenseful, but wouldn’t recommend based on a couple sexually explicit scenes – that the person who recommended it to me did not forewarn me about!

The Room – Emma Donague: definitealy a page-turner, I would recommend for it’s fictional account of a very realistic way sin infiltrates our world

Heaven is for Real – Todd Burpo: enjoyed this story, was an easy read! Not my favorite, but I’m sure (and I know) many would enjoy it too

Every Woman’s Marriage: Shannon Ethridge – so good! Definitely recommend for any woman desiring to enhance her marriage God’s way

The Hunger Games: Suzanne Collins – MUST READ. Yep, we joined the bandwagon.

Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins: see above

Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins: see above 🙂

The New Eve – Robert Lewis: Ok.  This man developed the Men’s Fraternity series that has helped change my husband, our marriage, and our lives into looking more like how God desired them to. I LOVE what God is doing through Men’s Fraternity!  This book has great insight into what God desires for the woman’s role – however, it is written from a man’s perspective.  A very intelligent and well-meaning man…but I fear that could turn women off from reading it.  I’m on the fence about recommending it.

Enemies of the Heart – Andy Stanley: This book has and continues to change me life. I am an angry person. I didn’t realize this until this book slapped me in the face with it.  I parent angry, I am an angry wife, I am a mean daughter, and can be a spiteful friend.  I am a sinner saved by God’s grace and the remedy for anger: forgivenessYou MUST read this. And totally follow his podcasts!

Divine – Karen Kingsbury: Another great fictional story of how sin can wreck our lives.  This has the redemptive power of Christ in it! I would recommend for any of you who have time for fiction!

Forgotten God – Francis Chan: I enjoyed his challenges, though I still cannot fully digest this book, nor fully understand the Holy Spirit (which is what this book is about).  Enjoyed it, but I think you gotta read it in a group.

Kisses from Katie – Katie Davis: I want to be used by God like Katie is.  She is inspiring. Read this.

Water for Elephants – Sara Gruen: Totally interesting! Beware again of a few explicit sexual scenes (seriously, I don’t ever read books with sex scenes so I don’t know how I stumbled across two this year).

Made to Crave – Lysa TerKeurst: I love how Lysa pinpointed our God given desire to crave, but how our sinful selves screw it up and crave the wrong things instead of God. Highly recommend for anyone struggling with self-discipline!

Babywise – Gary Ezzo: Agree with most of this and HIGHLY recommend any parent, especially of young kids, to at least try out his theory, if not totally adopt it.  I am serious when I say that everyone I know who tries this theory just as he outlines, sticks with it.  I’ve never heard a horrer story yet of how this didn’t work for a family…but I’ve heard dozens of success stories how this books changed lives!

Toddlerwise – Gary Ezzo: I really enjoyed this ‘sequel’ to Babywise.  I agree with a lot of it, though the discipline we choose in our household is not represented in this book….and we feel that it is the biblical way to discipline.  However, we have used some other behavior and sleep tricks from this book!

The Gluten-Free Good Health Diet Cookbook: I downloaded this free on my Kindle one day.  It is interesting! But I’m not jumping totally on this bandwagon.  God designed a lot of foods to be naturally occuring and creating a well-balanced diet – I’ll choose to eat from all the food groups 🙂 It did teach me some really interesting things about having a compost pile which is something I’d love to do!

Not a Fan – Kyle Idleman: Yep, just hit me in the face with the reality of my Christian apathy.  Haven’t read this yet?! You should!

7 – Jen Hatmaker: Ok, if I could only recommend 2 books on this entire list to you, this would be one of them!  This mindset has changed my life and it could change our culture for the better if we all adopted even an ounce of what she does.  Tired of being in the machine of our American instant-gratification, self-serving, more more more culture?  Read this, be inspired, and starting changing the world in ways you can control

The Well-Trained Heart – Ray & Donna Reish: This would be the other book I would highly recommend for you to read off this list.  This is changing the way we parent and preparing us for homeschooling.  This book is dynamic and so is the couple!  Here is their blog (or find them on facebook).  You can also come to the parenting seminar we are holding at Life Church in March with the Reish’s! Let me know if you want more info on that.

1,000 gifts – Ann VosKamp: Another popular book of late in the Christian community.  I am finishing this book currently and have been inspired by it.  It is a bit controversial (here is a post by someone I admire and respect that does not completely agree with the viewpoint of this 1,000 gifts ‘culture’ – read it here) but I am enjoying it 🙂

Enemies of the Heart (again): I read it again because I did it with my Late Night Girls Bible Study gals

Give Them Grace (again) – I read this last year and then Joel and I began reading it (slowly) together this year.  Who knows if we’ll continue with it together or switch to something else.  But I really recommend the point of this book: to take every instance and use every opportunity to preach the gospel to our children!

The Christmas Blessing – Donna VanLiere

The Christmas Hope – Donna VanLiere

The Christmas Promise – Donna VanLiere: these last 3 have been fun Christmas themed easy reads.  I did some Christmas reads last year in December and loved them! I decided to take a break from my deeper thought-provoking books and enjoy some light-hearted stories 🙂  These are cute and mostly well-written 😉

For 2013 I have a few books in mind to enjoy…

7 (again) for Late Night Girls Bible Study!)

Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges

The Shofar Blew by Francine Rivers

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

The 5 Love Languages of Children by Gary Smalley

The Shack by William P. Young

She’s Gonna Blow by Julie Ann Barnhill

And most importantly THE BIBLE!

I need more of it in my life and so easily squeeze it out and replace it with…stuff.

What was your favorite book this year?

What is on your must-read list for 2013!?


Recipes I love lately

I fell in love with baking holiday treats this year…

These have been made by the dozens or multiple batches:

Chubby Hubby Bars

6 minute caramels

Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark

Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles

Rolo Cookies
Soft Gingerbread Cookies

3/4 c. molasses

1/3 c. brown sugar

1/3 c. water

1/8 c. butter softened

3 1/4 c. flour

1 t. baking soda

1/2 t. allspice

1 t. ginger

1/2 t. cloves

1/2 t. cinnamon

Mix molasses, brown sugar, water, and butter.  Comnine flour, baking soda, allspice, ginger, cloves, and cinnamon & stir together w/wet mixture.  Cover & cool for 3 hours.  Preheat oven, roll out dough & cut into shapes.  Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.

Hot Chocolate Mix

16 oz Quick

1/2 c. powdered sugar

3 c. nonfat dry powdered milk

16 oz Coffeemate (dry)

Mix well & keep in airtight container.  Use 1/2-1/3 c. mixture in mug w/boiling water. We love to top with cool whip or whipped cream!

What have you been baking lately?!

What is your absolute favorite recipe for the holiday season?!

Come on…

I know how many of you read this (not that there are many…but I do see the stats!)

Yet, most of the time, the only ones that comment are the ladies in my life that already know the stories I post about, or I already know their opinion on it! (Not always…but thank you Brittany, Leslie, and Kim – my biggest fans!)

So…….today I’m going to put out a challenge:

I want you to comment!

My challenge is because I’m not writing this blog for only myself (yes, I love that I have an online journal of my life for memory’s sake) but that I LOVE learning – and I want to learn from you!

When I write about our struggles, or questions, or about what we are changing in our life – I’m hoping that you will be able to give some feedback on how you simplify; strive to be more like Christ; train your kids hearts; what you’re baking in the kitchen; what you are studying, etc.

SO…today I am going to have 5 questions that I want each of you to respond with your own answers!

1. How are you celebrating Christmas this year in a new way? We aren’t getting gifts for each other (Joel & I) and we are doing the Christmas Adventure Box

2. What is your FAVORITE holiday recipe? My mom’s fudge 🙂

3. What is your favorite Christmas song? Carol of the Bells: Trans-Siberian Orchaestra or the vocal version by Point of Grace (paired w/another favorite ‘What Child is This?)

4. What was your favorite Christmas present ever? Oreo – a black & white kitten when I was like 4

5. What has been your favorite moment of 2012? Sullivan Joel’s arrival into our family 🙂

Hustle and Bustle

Do you feel crazy like me?!

I look ahead on our calendar with hope and excitement – it is going to slow down in a few weeks!

We’ll finally have time to…well I don’t know what, but we’ll have the option for it!

And then those few weeks approach and suddenly BAM! I realize it’s my homeschool group one night, Joel’s weekly bible study the next, my mom’s group and my bi-weekly bible study, then our date trade, and 5 different activities we COULD choose from just on Saturday….

Not to mention I have 3 events (with another potential one that fell through!) to bake cookies for THIS WEEK (I actually like that they’re all lumped together…I’m just making the same kind for each event!)


Here’s where the advice: SAY NO TO GOOD THINGS SO YOU CAN SAY YES TO GREAT THINGS comes in, right?!

How do I balance this?

How do I keep my faith and family my priority – b/c I am so confused about my other commitments and where they lie!

I go to homeschool group to learn and prepare myself for when we will begin that endeavor in our home (though it has already begun, right?! Kids are always learning!)

Joel and I both see the value in studying in small groups to learn and glean from one another – we don’t want to give up that guy/gal time

My mom’s group is invaluable about teaching and challenging me as a daughter of God, wife, mother, and friend AND I’m on the leadership team!

Plus we HAVE to have date nights…and to do it more affordably – we trade so that we don’t have to pay for childcare!

Not to mention the dozens of other activities we could and do have planned each month…

In order to fit in all those great things…we say no to a lot…to serving on steering committees, to extra ‘parties’ that pop up all year long, to midweek services at church, to extra weekend services at church, to joining a gym (or most exercise opportunities at all…) and even we sometimes say no to SLEEP just so we can stay up and have a date night at home!


In addition, I find it such a struggle to be fully present while at home

I’m an efficient person…so if I can do a load of laundry, have lunch on the stove, text, and talk with Mylin while she sits on the dryer, you better believe I’ll be doing it!

If I could figure out how to nurse Sully at the same time, I would………….


How do I slow down





Seriously friends, help me, please!

We are too busy and need to slow down and back away…but how?

What do we choose?

How do you prioritize, plan, and keep boundaries around your time?


I wish I could lure you to comment with a prize or giveaway…but when would I have time to organize that?

On second thought, I do have some extra cookies from the 10 dozen I’m going to be baking………………………………………


The little gals…

Our friend-twin, Bailey 🙂


We seriously have so much fun watching these two be two together 🙂

Southern Thanksgiving: The kiddos and half the fam

Last post: Just random pictures of the kids having fun together and some family pictures 🙂

Half of the Merkle tribe was back in Bluffton celebrating with my parents – and the other 10 of us in ‘Bama

Great picture everyone! Wait, where’s Andre? Mylin and Sully are watching him 🙂

Andre’s back…but my eyes and Mylin’s focus have disappeared!

So, I am still learning how to get the pictures organized just right…but they are still really cute to look at, right?!

Thanks, Adam and Jill, for the fun, food, fellowship, faith, and family time. And alliteration 😉

We love you guys!

Southern Thanksgiving: The bay

On Thanksgiving day we were blessed with gorgeous mid 70 degree weather – perfect for a trip to the bay

We went to Mobile Bay which is off of Gulf Shores which comes from the ocean…so technically we were playing in ocean water…


We fished, walked, kayaked, got really wet, and enjoyed soaking in those sunrays!

This was hands-down the best moments of our entire trip (except that Jill and Andre weren’t able to be with us…)

Thank you, God, for creating beauty like this that we get to just enjoy!!!!!!!