Monday, July 18, 2011

Book club

I've always wanted to be in a book club. I majored in English because I thought it was "like" being in a book club, for crying out loud...only I had to write lots of papers. Yet, I had never been in a genuine, honest-to-goodness book club. I was invited last year to be a part of one, but scheduling never seemed to work out. This year, in February, I decided to take the plunge and start my own. Six months into it, and I can honestly say, it has been a blast! Last month we even had a few new people join the group, so we are up to 12 women now. We usually meet at a restaurant for food and drinks and end up talking about everything under the sun (and the book, too). It has definitely been a blessing, and I might get down-right depressed if we had to stop meeting. I often get asked for suggestions on books to read by others, so I thought I'd share what our book club is reading and some other good recommendations.

2011 Book Club Reading List

February - Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese (fiction) - one of the most beautifully written stories ever! It takes a little time to warm up, but you will feel blessed once you finished you just devoured literary art.

March - A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World by Paul E. Miller (non-fiction) - best book on prayer I've ever read, hands-down!

April - The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls (memoir) - Book club favorite.

May - Loving our Kids on Purpose by Danny Silk (non-fiction) - Great ideas in this here book.

June - The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (fiction) - Be ready to get wrapped up in such a great story that you will be depressed when it is over. Love! Looking forward to reading another one of Morton's books.

July -– Tiny Sunbirds Far Away by Christine Watson (fiction) - Just finished! Terrific! This is in CNN's list of top summer reads for 2011 (and it was).

August - Room by Emma Donoghue (fiction)

September - Half The Sky by Sheryl WuDunn (non-fiction)

October – The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley (fiction)

November - The Hunger Games - Book 1 by Suzanne Collins (fiction)

December - Catching Fire - Book 2 by Suzanne Collins (fiction)

January 2012 - Mockingjay - Book 3 by Suzanne Collins (fiction)

Other good one's:
Bossypants, by: Tina Fey - because we all need a good laugh

Half Broke Horses, by: Jeannette Walls - this is somewhat of a sequel to The Glass Castle about the author's grandmother

Sarah's Key, by: Tatiana de Rosnay - Great WW2 historical fiction

The Help, by: Kathryn Stockett - I've already recommended this book, but the movie is coming out soon, and it is truly a great read! Must read!

The Mark of the Lion series, by: Francine Rivers - The ONLY Christian fiction I'm not embarrassed to say that I've read. It is good...seriously good y'all. Would read it every year if I had the time. Chad has even read it, and loved it!

Hope this gives you some good reading ideas!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Evening at Mandola Winery

My baby girl is turning ONE in just two short weeks! I am proud to say we made it a whole year! I bought her this yellow dress with white polka dots for Easter, but conveniently forgot (since the dress at this point had captivated me with its cuteness) that our church doesn't meet on Easter, but instead goes downtown to grill one thousand hamburgers to share with our homeless friends. Her little yellow dress wasn't really the appropriate attire for the occasion. None-the-less it had to be bought and had to make it's way into a portrait somehow, in some way. Well, I finally found a good reason to dress her up (before she outgrew it, no less). The Haynes family was in need of some family shots, so we decided to make an evening of it. Mandola Winery in Driftwood sounded like a perfect fit. As soon as you step on the property, you feel like you have been transported to the Italian countryside. Impeccable landscaping (despite the extreme drought level in Central Texas), beautiful fountain amidst the garden, vineyards, a clay tiled-roof, stone villa...PERFECT! Not to mention the food is pretty delicious, too. Another great part about the venue is that scattered amongst the oaks are picnic tables. You can order food from the restaurant to-go, then enjoy your meal with a glass (or two bottles if you are us) of wine in this gorgeous setting. Absolutely the best way to dine with children!

Here is some shots from the evening:



The Haynes Family

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Latest pics of the kids

I took these portraits of the kids this past Feb. Elaina was 7 months and Luke was almost 4. You can tell in the pics how much they love each other. I am going to Mandola Winery to take Elaina's One year and Luke's Four Year shot tomorrow. I'll post those soon along with some good book suggestions. I started a bookclub six months ago and we've read some good ones. I'm definitely not the best blogger. Thank you Jessica Jett for your encouragement :)

Friday, June 18, 2010

What!!! It's been SIX MONTHS since my last posting!

I know! I am really not a very good blogger. I desperately want to be though.


I just read my past two blogs and I realized two things.

One, I still haven't posted Chad's adoption story. I know I need to do this, but I will be giving birth in three weeks, so the likelyhood of that happening is slim. It will happen eventually (maybe?) ;)

Two, I made a list of all these books I want to read this year in my second-to-last blog entry (and let me tell you...I have been a reading machine), but have NOT read most of the intended books on my list. I didn't realize it, but apparently I had been going through a fiction deficiency in my reading diet, so there has been A LOT of fiction reading going on this year. What I have read is:

The Help
Same Kind of Different as Me
The Art of Racing in the Rain
Sarah's Key
Water for Elephants
The Shack
The Glass Castle

And I am reading now:
Tara Rd by Maeve Binchy
Radical: Taking Back your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt
A Modern Girl's Guide to Bible Study by Jen Hatmaker (I am actually in a Bible Study being lead by the author! Very cool!)

On the deck:
Irresistible Revolution
Half the Sky

Should I be reading What to Expect...blah, blah, blah? Probably. It seems with the second child things are just not nearly as a big deal as it was the first time.

One more thing, since we've moved out to the country and are living on a ranch, we don't have high speed internet. We have wireless internet connection which is not that great. This is the biggest reason why I have not been that great about uploading pics and keeping up with the blog. The process is painfully long, and frankly I just don't have THAT much time on my hands. Chad and I have uploaded some newer pics from this year on our facebook pages if you are interested. No, there are NOT any picures of my baby bump. You must see me in person if you want to see me in all my glory ;) I don't care to have any pictoral evidence of my current state of, shall we say...growth.

We are so excited about meeting Elaina, and have been busy preparing for her arrival. Pink is definitely the color d'jour these days. My c-section is set for July 9th. Luke is as excited and prepared as he can be for the newest addition. There is no doubt in our minds that he will be a great big brother. Hope all is well dear friends.

Much love,

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Favorite Moments of 2009

1. Finding out we are expecting another Baby Bartling (July of 2010 :)

2. Meeting Chad's birth mother, Terri, and her precious family. (I will post the story soon, I promise!) She is such a special lady!

3. Moving back to Central Texas (an experience that was both bitter and sweet)
4. Enjoying the blessing of having so much more time with our families...especially celebrating birthdays and holidays!

5. Every time our friends from Fort Worth came to visit us! We don't know if we would have made the transition as smoothly without all your visits. What cherished time!

6. Reconnecting with Central Texas friends and meeting new one's!
*The Baretto Family
*The Grubh Family
*The Walker Family
*Small Group Friends

7. Every single Sunday at the Austin Stone Community Church
8. Moving to Austin (such a great city!) We are living on a ranch in a brand-new house on over 1/2 an acre! Luke loves all the room to run and play outside...that, and there are cows to go visit nearby. We also see deer, rabbits and we've even seen an owl a couple of times. It is so serene and tranquil here. We are really enjoying our new home! Anyone who wants to come visit is welcome. We have a very comfortable guest bedroom and bath.

9. Summer Concert in the Park in San Marcos - great family fun (live music, lawn chairs, coolers filled with favorite beverages...what could be better!) Also, playing/swimming/floating in the Blanco, San Marcos and Comal River. *Check out more pictures from a previous blog post: Summer Concert in the Park.

10. Watching Luke grow and develop. He is the greatest blessing of our lives. Everyday is filled with so much laughter and love. Here are some current pics of him (can't believe he will be three in four months!)

11. All the answers to prayer!!! It is truly AMAZING to see God work and experience the comfort of a Savior during difficult times. We are so thankful to the Bartlings for providing a roof over our heads for seven months! You can't thank someone enough for that kind of blessing! Through all the struggles of this year, we have seen that God DOES always have our best interests at heart, but sometimes you have to go through a storm to experience and enjoy the calm that follows. We pray for all who we dearly love that 2010 is full of God doing great things in your lives. Not only can you trust Him with your storms, but you can know that for as many tears as you sow through the storm, you will experience equal joy and so much more. We have found that C. S. Lewis was right when he wrote in The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses:
"Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling around with drink and sex and ambition (entertainment, busyness, money, materialism) when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."
*italicized addition mine
The fact is, Chad and I really loved the life we had in Fort Worth. Many parts of it were very good and Godly, but there were parts of it that weren't. As many have heard Chad say, "I was really fine with the kingdom I had built for myself." Well, that kingdom fell, and it really hurt to watch it fall, but God had a great plan for a holiday at sea in our future. In order for us to experience that great adventure, our kingdom needed a new KING. It wasn't a very pretty takeover, either. We held on to it until our knuckles ached. It is such a tempting tendency to claim and reclaim the position of king in our lives, isn't it? Honestly, it is a daily battle. We have found in the last year that the more we give the throne up to it's Rightful Owner, the better off we are. We ARE far to easily pleased. God has great adventures in store for all our lives. We have to be brave and step out of the slum in order for him to take us on those great adventures. We also have to recognize that the slum we too often settle for sucks and is a cheap thrill at best! By slum, I mean sin. We have to recognize and pay attention to those areas in our lives and fight against them so that we can experience the "infinite joy that is offered to us." A joy that we didn't even know was possible. The way to fight is through repentance. Acts 3: 19 & 20 says, "Repent therefore, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus." *emphasis mine. This is a process that we have really come quite familiar with this year. Repentance has lead to refreshment and the presence of the Lord in our lives. I highly recommend going on a repentance test drive if you are feeling distant from God. You will no doubt find His refreshment and His presence soon after. It is not fun to see the ugliness within, but it is so worth it to be brave and face it! Not many people have the guts to do this, and for them, the slums may be the best they will ever know. I am so glad that our God is a God of all kinds of love, and at times, that love is a tough love. He will go to extreme measures for us not to settle for the slums. That is exactly what happened in our lives this year, and it is a blessing that we are eternally grateful for.

Favorite Books read in 2009

1. Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker
God used this book (and our church - Austin Stone Community Church) to awaken an area of my relationship with God that I blindly didn't realize was not really making the jump from my "good intentions" to my actions. If you feel like something is off in your walk with God, read this book!!! It is about the author and her family's journey to rediscovering their faith, and how God redirected their focus from protecting their comfort and climbing the social ladder to serving "the least of these." The author is local, too (Austin area)! If I could afford it, I would give everyone I know a copy of this book, then relentlessly ask if they read it yet :) I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this book!!! PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE read it :)

2. Desiring God by John Piper
I had to put on my big girl panties for this one :) Super theological and takes some time to go through, but completely BRILLIANT and transformational! Very convincingly makes the point that perhaps the greatest commandment in the Bible (outside of loving God and loving others) is "Delight yourself in the Lord." Most likely, I will come back to re-read this book A LOT in the years to come. Piper's contributions to Christian theology are such a blessing!

3. Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Trip
Great parenting book! Focuses on the heart behind a child's behaviors instead of just correcting a child's behavior. Helps parents bring the Gospel into their parenting. It also has a very helpful study guide that would be great to go through for your family.

4. The Tangible Kingdom Primer by Hugh Halter & Matt Smay
This is an eight week study that is wonderful small group material. It will help your small group get on track and missionally (outwardly) focused. If you feel like your small group is stuck in a rut, definitely check this study out! Would also be a great study if you are starting a new small group. It will definitely get everyone started on the right foot. NOTE: not available on Amazon. Only available on The Tangible Kingdom website.

5. The Blessing by John Trent & Gary Smalley
A great opportunity to reflect on your own childhood and the way your parents raised you...especially what could have been missing (meaningful touch, a spoken message, attaching high value, picturing a special future, an active commitment). Then, through that reflection, you find inspiration on how you desire to raise your own children. It is so important to honestly look at the past to decide where you want to go in the future.

6. Premeditated Parenting by Steve Nelson
Another great parenting book. Very practical advise! Encourages parents to be proactive in their parenting, not reactive. Very funny, too! Author doesn't act like he is a perfect parent that has it all figured out and shares many of his own experiences where he dropped the ball.

7. Thomas Jefferson by R.B. Bernstein
Really interesting biography on T. Jefferson. Less than 200 pages, so it is not a big time investment.

8. Ester by Beth Moore
This is a 10 week womans' Bible study that is AMAZING! I went though this study right when we moved back to central Texas and going through a really uncertain time. God used this study of Ester to speak a lot of vision and encouragement to me, and in turn, for me to speak vision and encouragement to Chad. It was such a blessing!

9. A Celebration of Sex by Dr. Douglas E. Rosenau
Every married couple should have a copy of this book!!! Dr. Rosenau doesn't leave anything out. He writes very directly and openly. It will transform your bedroom life :) Bow-chika-wow-now!

10. The Help by Kathryn Stockett (still reading this book, great fiction!)
I hardly ever read fiction, but I got a Kindle for Christmas (thank you, thank you, thank you Mom and Dad!), and this was the first book I downloaded. So far, I can't put it down! It is set in Mississippi in the 60's, and explores the social tension that existed in the south during this time. A different character is the narrator of each chapter, so you see the story from many different angles. LOVE THIS BOOK, so far :)

Books I am excited to read in 2010:

The Irresistible Revolution
Holiness by Grace
Same Kind of Different as Me
Death by Love
Vintage Jesus
Sacred Marriage
When People are Big and God is Small
Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Blanco River Weekend with the Lewis'

The Lewis' are our dear friend and sweet neighbors when we lived in Fort Worth. After our move back to the Hill Country, a precious little girl joined their family...Annalee. Luke and James had a BLAST playing in the river with their daddies, riding on their bikes and wearing Matt out with jumping/lifting/crashing games. The mommies really enjoyed their mommy float time with cold beers and good conversation (and no kiddos!). This was such a great weekend, and we honestly can't wait until the next Lewis visit!

CLASSIC PICTURE!!! It is going on the wall, for sure!!!

Imagine the boys 20 years older and the sippy cups are replaced with bud light. Funny thought, although I really don't want to think about them being grown-up too much.

I think this was the only time Annalee got a little frustrated! She is such a easy-going baby! I love the honesty in her eyes.

It was such a fun weekend, but by the end, both boys were exhausted! This sweet picture proves it!