Words for Wednesday | What’s Underneath the Surface

My favorite childhood book!

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle sits at the top of the list of my all time favorite books!  
I remember first checking the book out at my elementary school library and staying up waypast my bedtime unable to put it down. 

With school starting back up I decided to reread it again and came upon this quote:

People are more than just the way they look.”  -Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time


A wonderful truth for a middle schooler to read and absorb and yet it remains true for this middle ageish adult as well.  

People are more than the way they look. And as our kids begin their classes and meet new classmates we encourage them to make new friends, to see beyond the way a kid looks.  

Just like our kids, we are meeting new fellow parents at parent information meetings such as sports, PTA, and meet your teacher. Are we also making new friends and looking beyond the exterior?

If I’m honest, I categorize and judge  fellow parents too…the crossfit stay at home mom, the stressed out executive, the car pool mom who’s in charge of everything…and I put up my wall,  my defenses and rest easy in my smug judgment of others.

This quote nudges me to remember that people are more than just  the way they look and extend a warm smile, an offer of grace and or friendship as we weather all the beginning of school year meetings and endless paperwork to sign. 

Have you caught yourself judging other parents?  Do you reread favorite books too?  What about this quote challenges you today?  I’d love to keep the conversation going!  Join me in the comments!

Take the Brazen Path

Take the Brazen Path

Brazen by Leeana Tankersley came my way by being selected as a member of the Brazen launch team. Honestly, I had never heard of Leanna Tankersley before, much less read any of her two previous books.

Brazen by Leeana Tankersley
 

But then I read Brazen.  Oh. My. Stars. Brazen has been the perfect gift at precisely the right moment in my life. 

Leeana Tankersley is your cheerleader. She’s for you and she points you to the Creator…your biggest cheerleader.

God’s beauty in creation demands attention! The beauty He created in you demands even more so!

If you’ve ever felt beaten down by the soul bullies (Leeana describes them as those inner negative voices streaming in your thoughts) Brazen is the book for you.

Reading Brazen was like sitting down with my best friend over coffee, sharing our lives and saying, “Yes, I’m feeling that way too.”

Not only does Leeana identify the areas of your neglected creative soul, but she points you to a path of discovery to take those beige soul areas and reclaim your right to brazenly shine forth in full color as God created you to be!

Shine forth!

Last year, I had given up on our front bed azaleas.  One shrub looked as if it had died while the other only halfway bloomed. I cut them both back hard thinking that act might mercifully finish them off. 

Imagine my surprise, when pulling up to our home after spring break, our azaleas had doubled both in size and bloom and were brazenly displaying the hottest pink fuchsia blooms ever seen.

Brazenly blooming!

Thank you God and Leeana for reminding me that after the hardest cuts, the most brazen beauty will emerge.

Reading Brazen was like water to my parched soul. While there’s so much more within Brazen I wish for you to discover for yourself, this quote sums up my experience reading Brazen:

I believe God wants us to make peace with our woundedness, and that’s the journey I’ve been on…we need to welcome our brokenness, but also our belovedness.  This is the brazen path.

-Leeana Tankersley | Brazen, p. 111

You are beloved in your brokenness. Take the Brazen  path!

Are You Ready to Break Busy?

Are You Ready to Break Busy?

Y’all I’m so excited that Alli Worthington’s book  Breaking Busy launches TODAY!! 

As a part of the launch team, I received an advance copy and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect…smack dab in the middle of the busy Christmas season!

Busy is such a buzzword for our culture today and yet we don’t know how to get off the busy train.  I’m so grateful that Alli wrote this book for us to provide a roadmap on how it’s possible and totally doable to break busy.


Run and buy this book today!!!
 

It’s easy to play “beat the clock” in our daily lives. We cram so much in each day between work, family obligations, kids’ schedules not to mention all the meals and housework to be done. Our inner voice screams “STOP!“. But we  ignore that voice!

On the flip side, we suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) which crazily drives us to do more and more which pushes us into a constant state of unhappiness and dissatisfaction with our lives. 

Truth!!!
 
If you’re stuck in the middle of these two predicaments then Breaking Busy is for you!  Alli identifies the factors which create the busyness and then provides strategies to, as she puts it, “…break busy before the busy breaks you.”

Reading Breaking Busy was at once liberating (yes, that’s the problem) and convicting (ugh…I have to get myself out of these destructive patterns).  Thankfully, without condemnation (thank you Jesus) Alli walked me through why I wish to be busy (!), what triggers me to say yes when I should not(!), and bless, how to say no!

 

Seriously!!!
 
At the end of each chapter, Alli provides thought provoking and soul stirring questions for the reader to take action in the process of breaking busy.  Breaking Busy would be a perfect book club selection or even to read through with a friend to help each other break busy!

So, ready to Break Busy?  Click  here to read the first chapter free and order!!  Thank you Alli for writing this book!!!

Do you have trouble breaking busy?  What’s one strategy you use to say no to busy in your life?  Share in the comments below.

Simply Tuesday Book Review & Giveaway!!

Simply Tuesday Book Review & Giveaway!!

 

Found my bench/swing for Simply Tuesday!
 
Y’all I cannot believe tomorrow is the book release for Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman !!!

It’s been such an honor for me to be a part of her launch team and some of the first to read this gem of a book!   I cannot wait for it to be released tomorrow and for all those who will be reading it and how it will shape their souls and lives. Emily’s book has already has done that for me. Seriously. 

Emily thoughtfully and thought provokingly writes about all the small, mundane and ordinariness of our lives and encourages us to embrace it. The book’s title in part comes from the recognition that Tuesday is the smallest day of the week where the ordinary everyday life happens.

 
In a culture (including church culture here) where bigger, better, louder and shinier demands the spotlight, Emily points the reader to Jesus and His word picture that the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. Small, tiny, little. 

“Small is the position of my soul, the posture by which I approach others, God, and myself. When I’m small, I know I can’t control opinions, manipulate outcomes, or force my agenda on others. When I’m small, I can move into the world confident as a person I most deeply am because I don’t move into the world alone. 

If this is true, then small is my new free.”

-Emily P. Freeman 

Emily divides Simply Tuesday into 5 parts and within those 5 parts she provides the reader with an invitation, a prayer and questions for further reflection.  Her book is food for the soul…spiritual discipleship that guides the reader to reflect, ponder and respond to the Truths shared. 

I could have underlined and highlighted the entire book!  My margins bear scribbles of “YES!!!” and “me too”. 

Nearly every page looks looks like this!
 

Simply Tuesday should also be a must read for those in ministry, whether serving as a volunteer or on staff. Emily writes at length the problem with big=God’s favor and small=not of God in Christian circles.  We are small…we do not control or manipulate the outcomes. As Emily writes…

  
So where does one go when a small thing stays a small thing?

“What if your big break is really a breaking from big?” -Emily P. Freeman

Hmmmmm.

See what I mean, her writing really makes one ponder!  I’m currently rereading Simply Tuesday  again!

Emily’s words have already transformed and shaped my soul by pointing me to God’s Truth!  

It’s definitely one thing to agree intellectually that you’re to embrace your smallness, but entirely another matter to live it out!  Recently, I painfully felt my smallness in a challenging situation.  Emily’s words resonated through my head…yes I’m small…I cannot control this outcome…God is with me in this moment. And through prayer and feeling God’s presence and accepting my smallness, I felt such peace because I didn’t have to make myself big, my presence big or my voice loud.  

Simply Tuesday would also make an awesome small group book club or Bible study book choice! Hop on over to www.simplytuesday.com to sign up for wonderful resources from Emily, including how you can get your own book discussion guide. 

I’m so excited to be able to give away Simply Tuesday on my blog! 

Here’s how to enter:

1. Subscribe to Oak Grove Social’s blog email notification for new posts (located in the right sidebar)

And

2. Comment on this post below by answering the following question:

“What does my ordinary Tuesday look like?

These 2 completed actions will get you entered for the chance to win a free copy of Simply Tuesday

Deadline for entry is Thursday, August 20 at midnight Eastern Savings Time!!

The winner will be announced Friday!!  Good luck!

Giveaway is closed and winner has been contacted.  Thanks for all who entered!

No compensation was exchanged for my opinions, all opinions are genuinely my own!  The giveaway book has been purchased with my own money…that’s how much I love this book!!

For Your Weekend | Mid-August Edition

For Your Weekend | Mid-August Edition

 

Celebrated our 5th Anniversary while in Brussels!
 
During these dog days of summer, hope y’all are keeping cool and savoring the lazy last days before school begins again!

Here are some links for your weekend browsing!!

  
Y’all, Simply Tuesday releases in 3 days!!!

So honored to have been among the first to read it!

My biggest takeaway…God’s Kingdom always starts small, and I can embrace my own smallness, trust God with the outcomes because sometimes small beginnings lead to small endings.  We aren’t supposed to manipulate what a “successful” ending looks like, because following Jesus often looks like a failure to the world. 

So much more goodness within the pages of this book!  You can preorder now at all online bookstores and check out even more resources on the book’s website:

www.simplytuesday.com
Also, meet up with our community by following the hashtag #itssimplytuesday on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook on Tuesdays!

#simplytuesday

 

Awesome podcast hosted by Tsh Oxenrider of “The Art of Simple” blog
 
One of my newfound jams is listening to podcasts whilst long car rides, household chores, and too long airplane rides!  All of the podcast episodes are great, but one in particular I’m highlighting here.  

On Episode 6 Simple Show Tsh chats with Leigh Kramer about enneagrams (personality types).  This topic is interesting in and of itself, but Leigh said something that has stuck with me. Enneagram is based on ancient early Desert Fathers who took the 7 deadly sins (wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, gluttony) and added 2 more sins…deceit and fear. 

So…if we seriously consider fear a sin, how would we live differently as followers of Jesus?  Thought provoking and I’m pretty sure you’ll see a post here about it soon!

The shiny, bright Atomium, one of the symbols of Brussels, Belgium

We just returned from an amazing week long trip to Brussels, Belgium!  I’m still in the middle of laundry and adjusting back to our time zone, but until I post my comprehensive guide to all things Brussels, check out my Instagram feed here !

I’m blessed to be able to travel and explore so you can follow along for Brussels pics with the hashtags #oakgrovesocialtravels #brussels #belgium  .

And just for the record, I totally ❤️ Brussels!!

 

I’m not gonna post a photo of the cicada, but believe me…they’re in this photo somewhere!
 
The cicadas are back!!! And, they are rather noisy neighbors!  Information about 13 year/17 year cicadas is all over the place as there are also cicadas that come out each summer. 

Nevertheless, these neighbors seem extra noisy this summer and a link  here from the University of Kentucky’s entomology department seems to verify that in my corner of Kentucky, we have the pleasure of hosting the 13 year cicadas!

So, if you’re in a woodsy area, enjoy the cicada sounds (and try not to have a heart attack if they clumsily fly into you)!  Summer is singing its last song, so close your eyes, listen and marvel at how all of creation sings praises to the Creator!

Tuesday Tips | Simply Tuesday

Tuesday Tips | Simply Tuesday

Found my bench to sit, rest and listen.

Happy Tuesday y’all!  I’ve been here, there and yonder this summer exploring, adventuring and making memories with my family.  But for a few weeks, I’ll be home and back here writing. And reading. 

I’m humbled and super excited to be a part of Emily P. Freeman’s new book launch Simply Tuesday:  Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World which releases August 18th!!!  I’m almost finished reading the advance copy and y’all…it’s so good.  I’m devouring yet savoring her thoughtful words at the same time. Emily brilliantly writes about the small and ordinary of life, how these moments are part of His kingdom and where Jesus meets us.   I’ll be bringing y’all a review once I’ve finished reading and absorbing all food for my soul. 

So many pages in my book are highlighted and marked up.

Until the book review…you can preorder Simply Tuesday (which just happens to be #1 new release in Christian Spiritual Growth!) on  Amazon for $7.85. That’s 48% off the cover price of $14!!  Order now and your future self will thank you!

Every Tuesday, I join Emily P. Freeman  and friends celebrating the small, quiet, simple pleasures of Tuesdays. You can join us to, simply by using the hashtag #ItsSimplyTuesday on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.   Just tag your everyday Tuesday goings on and join the community who notices the joys of smallness Tuesdays bring. 

Here’s mine for today:

 
After so many days of afternoon pop up showers I simply enjoyed watching the sunlight and shadows sweep over my neighbor’s farm this morning. 

What’s your #ItsSimplyTuesday moment? I’d love to hear!  Share in the comments below!

  

Words for Wednesday|Martin Short

Book review of Martin Short’s memoir, “I Must Say”

“I think loss can fuel how you lead your whole life.” – Martin Short 

I checked out Martin Short’s memoir from my local library recently because I think his crazy characters are genius!  You may remember him from Father of the Bride series as the wedding coordinator, or his wacky characters on SNL, or SCTV.  You either adore Martin’s humor or you don’t. Surprisingly, Martin’s turn as a heartless attorney in Damages  was compelling. He could have quite the career in dramatic roles.  I hope he takes more dramatic roles. 

Martin Short is unrelentingly upbeat, the antithesis of the depressed morose comic. Maybe because he’s Canadian or maybe because of he’s seriously level headed but Martin’s memoir is fascinating even if he never made it in acting because of the losses he’s experienced throughout his life. 

Martin Short knows about loss.  The youngest of 5 in an Irish Catholic family, Martin lost his mom to breast cancer at age 17.  In a decade where breast cancer was a death sentence, Martin’s mom willed herself to live with the cancer for 5 years. Two months later, a close older brother was killed in a car accident.  By the time Martin turned 20, his father died too.

No one would have blamed Martin if he gave up. But those deaths ignited in him a feeling of confidence and transforming him to be bullet proof…two much needed characteristics when diving in to acting.   Martin acknowledges his steely confidence when writing (paraphrasing) once you lose your parents, that’s your worst day, the worst thing that can happen to you.  Nothing else can ever touch it. 

Martin Short broke into show biz in Toronto’s production of Godspell. He was part of a gang of Canadian actors who made it big in the US…Gilda Radner, Paul Shaffer, Eugene Levy, John Candy, And Andrea Martin to name a few.  While in the Godspell cast,   Martin met and later married his wife Nancy.  

To help cope and motivate himself through dry spells/insecurities in the acting career, Martin devised a systematic life template whereby he grades himself weekly.  His agent implored him to go on Oprah with it because he could strike gold and make loads of money off it.  He explains it in his book, and I think his agent was on to something!  

Here are Martin Short’s 9 Categories:

  1. Self
  2. Immediate Family
  3. Original Family
  4. Friends
  5. Money
  6. Career
  7. Creativity 
  8. Discipline
  9. Lifestyle

It’s too much to explain here, because there’s a color code and number to determine the weekly grade. I immediately thought of Benjamin Franklin’s  13 Virtues where Ben daily evaluated his developing character/habits.   The bottom line for Martin, (for example) even if I’m making money (Grade A) but am being a lousy brother (Grade F) then I’m not being “successful”.  Martin uses the 9 Categories to improve his life and motivate him in the weak areas. 

Funny that I’m only getting to this obvious point, but Martin’s book is witty and laugh out funny at times. He also sprinkles between chapters “Moments with …..” a monologue with one of his wacky characters (Ed Brimley, Jackie Rogers, Jr. Etc)

Martin recently lost his beloved wife Nancy to ovarian cancer in  2010 after 30 years of marriage.  After her death, he gave his youngest the advice that had worked for him:

Henry , I know it seems unimaginable tonight but you are being empowered tonight.  You are being given something that is horrible,  but it is also a life lesson. This will make you stronger. This will make you more determined. You’ll be in you office somewhere someday and some pompous a**hole will say something to you.  And you’ll supposedly be upset and you’ll supposedly be fearful of your boss’s reaction. But  then you’ll think, ‘This is gravy.  This is fine. I couldn’t care less about this pr*ck. I’m not upset now. I was upset the night my mother died.'”

And that is why you should read Martin Short’s memoir…because he has walked through fire that has fueled his life. 

Have you gone through a loss which fueled how you now lead your life?  Comment below!

Book Nook:  There was a Little Girl by Brooke Shields

  

I confess, I love reading memoirs of famous people! I used to feel this book genre was a guilty pleasure, a step up from reading through People magazine until a required book in my Preaching class in seminary changed my perspective. 

Yes, you read correctly, my preaching prof assigned our class to read How Reading Changed My Life by Anna Quindlen.  And for the first couple of class meetings we discussed out book lists and what we got out of reading (or didn’t get out of reading).  I’m so thankful for my preaching professor,  Rev. Dr. Joy J. Moore encouraged me to read so I would be able to connect to others and their life circumstances,  a purpose to reading I hadn’t contemplated before. 

Reading both fiction and nonfiction provides me an escape from the daily life, new knowledge and a peek into worlds and lives I would never know or experience.  So, a celebrity memoir elevates my reading fix to another level because while  the public sees the celebrity a certain way the memoir pulls back the curtain to reveal a more personal picture. 

So, on to Brooke Shields’ memoir of her mother.  As a child of the ’80s, Brooke was The Face of our generation.  Her mom, Teri, was the original momager, way before Kris Kardashain.  And, in the manner born of momagers, Teri certainly provided fodder for the press and choices for Brooke’s career.  Brooke’s parents divorced while she was still an infant, so Teri raised Brooke on her own, as a single mom in NYC.

Although Brooke’s dad was involved, she and her mom had a unusually close and tight relationship.  Teri never remarried or had any other children so Brooke became Teri’s world. As documented by Brooke in her book, Teri was a highly functioning alcoholic and little Brooke was her caregiver. 

Brooke’s memoir is honest and straightforward…she doesn’t sugarcoat Teri’s flaws or ugly angry transformation when drunk. Loyally, Brooke takes up for her mom because she loved Teri and believes her mom was misunderstood by the public. Brooke states at the beginning of her memoir the public’s misunderstanding of Teri was the impetus to write about her mom. 

Brooke Shields is a remarkable adult child/teen celebrity survivor because she was sheltered and protected by Teri even while Teri was simulataneously sexualizing her preadolescent/adolescent daughter in the movie roles Brooke took. Add the complexity of a parent’s alcoholism and it’s a miracle Brooke didn’t end up in rehab herself. 

Brooke sees her mom through the lens of a child taking care of  an alcoholic parent. And that lens is true. I’m no therapist and I’m sure Brooke has seen many expert therapists through the years but Teri was also a classic narcissist. Brooke was an extension of Teri’s personality  and for Teri there was no mom and daughter distinction. Classic narcissism. 

Brooke’s famed beauty drove Teri to take projects that were at the very least questionable. Although it’s easy to draw parallels to Momager Kris Kardashian and her meal tickets/daughters Teri isn’t a Kris. Yes,  both love the  attention that their daughter(s) provided and both sexualized and capitalized on scandal for their daughters’ benefit but unlike the Kardashain/Jenner girls, Brooke truly was protected. 

Brooke’s “scandals” were Pretty Baby (nude scene with playing a child prostitute with an adult male when Brooke was a child); Blue Lagoon and Endless Love, both coming of sexual age stories.  Unlike other child stars, Brooke never got drunk or made sex tapes and then had her mom sell them! Brooke was the parent to Teri in their relationship and always towed the line and truly was a good girl.

After finishing Brooke’s memoir, I believe her blind spot is not identifying and realizing her mom was a narcissist because the alcoholism was such a huge primary concern.  The most telling example of Teri’s narcissism is when Brooke’s dad was dying. Brooke could only speak with her dad via telephone as her high risk pregnancy prevented her from traveling to his bedside.  Soon after Brooke said her tearful goodbye to her dying dad she received news that shortly after that call her dad had passed.  

Brooke called her mom for comfort and to give Teri the sad news and the first question her mother asked was if Brooke’s dad said any last words about her to Brooke. Classic narcissist. 

If you too would like a peek into 80’s icon Brooke Shields’ life and relationship with her mom, read this book as I highly recommend it for that type of read as well as anyone who has endured an alcoholic or narcissistic parent. 

Do you like reading memoirs too?  Let me know in the comments a good memoir read! Also, check out How Reading Changed My Life.  It’s a short read and may help you read differently!