A Very Normal List of Things I’m Grateful For

(Inspired to make my own list, thanks to Katie Blackburn)

Every morning since that dreaded November time change, my alarm goes off at 5:30 a.m. and getting my feet to touch the floor doesn’t feel quite so hard anymore. Why didn’t someone tell me before this year to pair new habits with the time change? Thanks to promptings by friends, it’s become one of my new favorite habits. Or maybe it’s knowing I have finally perfected the most delicious dairy-free maple latte and can have it in my hands in under 6 minutes. 

No one told me how thankful I’d be at age 33 for an hour of silence in the house every morning. Or how incredibly life-giving space heaters and warm blankets are when it’s just me typing away at thoughts I’ll probably never publish. Google docs has become like a diary of sorts this last year. Filled with ideas and dreams, thoughts and notes, endless links and articles, shared writings with friends, but no organization. And I love that. Another detail in my life that I have simply decided not to care about.

As I close my computer I remember to put a few more library books on hold. Bless those librarians who are still putting up with me. Is there a checkout limit? “50,” one claims. “It doesn’t really matter for you,” says another. Every time we drive up to that window I say another silent “thank you” for the convenience of book pickup, mostly because the five year old forgot to put on his shoes and I didn’t check (and no late fees, can we just keep that please). 

In the chaos of breakfast and habit training and morning cleanup routines, I think about the bread machine. “I should start that,” I think to myself. A little flour, salt, and oil really can make anything. That everyday artisan bread sure is simple and there’s something about hot, crusty bread to go with the best broccoli cheddar soup in the world. Does it really get any more delicious than that? Today I’m thankful for the enticing smells coming from my kitchen that remind me of the feast to come (that’s what I’ll remind myself of when no child touches the soup).

“Mama, need new jammies!” yells the toddler and I notice the gigantic rip in the bottom foot. I hop on facebook marketplace to see what’s for sale in town in his size. If I’m lucky, I can score a few pairs for $5. Where would I be without this page? It’s redecorated most of my living room the last few months thanks to the random finds. I’m promising myself that this year I will learn to become the plant lady and I secretly applaud myself that the plants have survived more than a few weeks. Maybe there’s hope yet.

My phone flashes and I notice there’s a Marco Polo message from a friend a few states away. This little device that constantly tries to steal so much of my time and attention really can be a great tool (or so I keep promising myself). I listen while I throw some snacks in a bag for the park, grateful that this app has encouraged friendships to continue despite the miles. 

I know my day will not be without tears (probably from everyone), and meltdowns (we won’t name them here), and if I’m honest a few moments when I wonder what in the world we were doing when we said yes to this parenthood thing (it really is hard sometimes). But as I find myself yelling again “Get your water bottles and get in the van!” and hear the little feet running through my house undoing all the work I’ve already done, I remember the paragraph I read in one of Katie Blackburn’s emails

“I recently read about a man in a wheelchair who, when someone said to him apologetically, ‘Gosh, it must be so limiting to be in that wheelchair,’ he responded, ‘Oh no, my wheelchair is what liberates me, I couldn’t do anything without it!’ and I just thought my goodness, if that isn’t exactly what a life of gratitude looks like

I’m thankful, lastly, that I always have the choice to see it that way.”

Advent Guide 2022

“If you’re physically starving, you will groan, but spiritual starvation will make you groan too. So here’s the good news of the Christmas story: the birth of Jesus is an invitation to the best, most satisfying dinner ever.”

Paul Tripp

The purpose of this Advent Guide is not to provide a complete list of resources (there are simply too many to include!) but a simple guide to help get you started if you don’t know where to begin this Christmas season. I’m including links to some of our favorite family items, personal advent study guides for individual use, family advent guides, children’s picture books, and even some podcasts to inspire you. My top recommendation is to keep things simple and purposeful. In our home we do one family advent study (we use the advent blocks linked below) and I do daily individual advent readings (using John Piper’s Good News of Great Joy and this year Emmanuel by Ruth Chou Simons). There’s nothing “magical” about any of the resources listed below. The best things you can to prepare for Christmas will be the things you are willing to do consistently. It is my hope that this guide is a blessing to you as prepare for this Christmas season.

Our Family Favorites

Advent Blocks

Treasuring God in Our Traditions by Noel Piper

This Nativity Set

This will be our third year using the Advent Blocks and their family devotional. This is by far one of the family traditions we most look forward to each year as a family! While many advent calendars can lean towards being self- focused on fun family memories or favorite holiday events, this particular advent countdown keeps the focus on Christ.

Personal Advent Study

Emmanuel: An Invitation to Prepare Him Room at Christmas and Always by Ruth Chou Simmons

The First Songs of Christmas by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Come, Let us Adore Him by Paul Tripp

Good News of Great Joy by John Piper

Fulfilled by Well Watered Women

The One True Light: Daily Advent Readings from the Gospel of John by Tim Chester

Family Devotionals

A Better Than Anything Christmas by Barbara Raeoch

A Jesus Christmas by Barbara Raeoch

Prepare Him Room: Celebrating the Birth of Jesus by Marty Machowski

The Light Before Christmas by Marty Machowski

Family Advent Devotional: Celebrate Christ Together by Matt & Lauren Chandler (with videos)

Children’s Picture Books

There’s a Lion in My Nativity!

The Christmas Promise 

The Christmas Surprise

A Very Noisy Christmas

The Littlest Watchman

Seek and Find The First Christmas


Traditions, Christmas, and Thoughtful Christian Living 

Treasuring Christ in our Traditions by Revive our Hearts

Lifegiving Christmas Traditions by Sally Clarkson

Mom Hacks for the Holiday Season by Mom to Mom Podcast 

Finding Rest in Advent by Risen Motherhood

Celebrating Advent with Little Ones by Risen Motherhood

Advent Blocks by Family Discipleship Podcast

Talking With Your Littles About Santa by Family Discipleship Podcast

5 Ideas for Hospitality & Holiday Outreach

1. Soup & Sandwich Luncheon

I first heard the concept of a “standing invite” from Rosaria Butterfield, one of today’s leading voices for Christian hospitality. A standing invite is simply an invitation into a rhythm that occurs at the same time each week or month (think every Friday night or the first Monday of the month). This school year I began my own standing invite by blocking off the last Monday of each month for a soup and sandwich luncheon in my home for all the women in my small group (typically about 8 women and their children.)

How does this practically work? I provide a crock pot of soup and some kid friendly sandwich options, and everyone brings a side to share. We gather from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. to share food and conversation. 

Does committing to each week or month seem overwhelming? Limit it to just a few months like January through March when the winter is long and people are often the loneliest.

2. Tea Exchange

Are you looking for an easy way to connect with some of your neighbors during the holiday season or a group of women from your church? This idea is simple! Everyone brings several samples of their favorite teas or hot drink mix to share with a group. Open and display the different tea & hot drink boxes and let people choose new flavors to take home. Not a tea drinker? Think of your favorite hot chocolate mix or cider packets! 

In our current culture with different comfort levels about gathering and food, this could be a fantastic alternative to a cookie exchange party.

3. Favorite Things Party

This idea might be my favorite yet for connecting with people. Everyone brings 2 wrapped items (these can be the same item or different!) that are $10 or less. These are “favorite things” that are simple and low cost (i.e. decorative recipe cards, candles, small notebook, a cookbook, favorite cleaners, unique spices for cooking, a kitchen utensil, a decoration, etc.) Number the items and have people draw two numbers from a bowl (make sure they don’t get their own items!) Everyone gets to leave with two new “favorite things!”

4. Thanksgiving Dinner

We’ve all probably heard the advice, “You should invite someone to share a Thanksgiving meal with your family,” but very few of us are bold enough to try. Are your neighbors (or let’s be honest, your family?) too intimidated by a meal? They might say no to a meal but many would be willing to come for dessert! Decide what time you will eat your meal and invite your neighbor for an hour or so after start time to join your family for some dessert and board games. 

Is it difficult to get anyone to come to you? Have your kids deliver some leftovers to a lonely neighbor or go for a drive after dinner and deliver to someone who isn’t spending the holiday with family.

5. Holiday Craft Party

One of the best ways to reach your neighborhood can be through its children. My friend in Texas hosts an annual holiday craft party for her neighborhood each December. She sets up a few different craft tables and provides some easy appetizers and desserts. If this sounds overwhelming to think of all these details, you could consider involving other neighbors by asking them to help supply craft supplies and food!

In a culture where people are struggling with depression, isolation, and loneliness, the holidays offer a unique opportunity to open up our lives and time. Your home does not have to be big or well decorated, it does not need the latest forms of entertainment or the newest toys. The simple invitation of opening your home and table to others can be one of the most powerful ways to transform our communities.

Favorite Resources on Hospitality

Just Open the Door by Jen Schmidt

The Gospel Comes with a House Key by Rosaria Butterfield

The Art of Neighboring by Dave Runyon and Jay Pathak

The Simplest Way to Change the World by Dustin Willis and Brandon Clements

25 Fall Recipes

“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage- pleasantly, smilingly, non-apologetically, to say “no” to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside.”

-Steven Covey


Half Baked Harvest Pumpkin Coffee Cake Muffins

Sally’s Baking Addiction Pumpkin French Toast Casserole

Oatmeal Apple Breakfast Bake

Breakfast Strata Bake

Sally’s Baking Addiction Breakfast Casserole

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Soup & Bread

Half Baked Harvest Chicken Noodle Soup

Half Baked Harvest Pesto Zuppa Toscana

Half Baked Harvest Broccoli Cheddar and Zucchini Soup

Slow Cooker Meatball Stew

Paula Deen’s Potato Soup

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Easy Rustic Bread

Main Dishes

Roasted Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Boats

Wild Rice Harvest Bowls (*add chicken sausage)

Crockpot French Dip Sandwiches

Smoked Sausage Alfredo Bake

Broccoli and Cheddar Chicken Rice Casserole

Apple Cider Pulled Pork

Chicken and Stuffing Bake

Sides & Sweets

Half Baked Harvest Crockpot Three Cheese Mashed Potatoes

Half Baked Harvest Sweet Potato Bacon Pecan Casserole

Apple Pie Snack Cups

Cranberry Brie Pull Apart Bread

Slow Cooker Baked Apples

For more seasonal inspiration, my favorite resources are…

The Lifegiving Home by Sally Clarkson

The Lifegiving Table by Sally Clarkson

Welcome Home by Myquillyn Smith

Memory Making Mom by Jessica Smartt

Sometimes celebrating, enjoying, and laughing seem almost inappropriate in a world as broken as ours. We look around and see panic on the faces of everyone we see. Tragedies become ordinary. How, in good conscience, can we laugh and celebrate and eat pizza? I believe we must celebrate – because celebration is one of the most effective weapons we have against the darkness of our day. The real grief of the state of our world is the pervasive fear that settles in our hearts.”

-Sally Clarkson

5 Resources to Change Up Devotions with Your Kids This Summer

Last summer I released this blog post on a few resources to change up devotions with your kids over the summer. Today I’m hopping on to share a few new things we’ve added to our stack! When I feel like my kids are starting to get bored or restless with the resource we are currently using, I know it’s time to try something new.

Here are 5 resources I highly recommend as a way to change up your summer devotions with your kids!

  1. The Big Picture Story Bible and Podcast

Geared for slightly younger ages, this is a fantastic resource to help your children grow in their understanding of how the whole Bible comes together through the promises of God. The shortened text and storyline is done well enough to hold the attention of your youngest listeners, while not compromising content for the older ones. What I love most about this resource is the free podcast that reads the stories from the book to you! So on the busy summer days when you’re wondering when you’ll have time to sit down and read together as a family, you can play this podcast while you’re eating lunch, driving to the next event, or brushing teeth at night.

Recommended ages 2-6

2. The New City Catechism Devotional, Website, and App

This resource contains 52 catechisms (think a series of fixed questions and answers about God) and is geared for all ages (i.e. as young as children that can repeat a sentence back to you up to teenagers.) What I love most about this resource is the ability to access all of the content for free through the website and app (questions, answers, and songs to help children memorize). I was recently able to view the devotional, and my initial impressions were that it would be best suited for families with slightly older children (7 years +). Our family (with kids ages 6,4, and 2) is currently working on memorizing about two new catechisms a week, thanks mostly in part to the free songs available on the app.

Recommended all ages

3 & 4. Read Kaleidescope

If you’re wondering how to transition from mostly picture book reading with your kids to text without overwhelming anyone, Read Kaleidescope has done the hard work for you. While these books do contain more text than pictures, their storylines will help ease the transition into a “real Bible.” My suggestion? Do both alongside each other. Grab your own Bible and read the passage to your kids, and then go back to this and read a chapter from one of these resources and discuss.

Recommended for ages 5+.

5. The Ology

If you like resources similar to the New City Catechism but want more of a story format, this one is for you. This phenomenal book covers truths on God, people, sin, the promise and the law, Christ, the Holy Spirit, adoption into God’s family, the church, the end times, and more. The visuals in this book are incredible.

Recommended for ages 5+.

Favorite Books on Motherhood

My Favorite Books on Motherhood

I don’t remember when I read my first book on motherhood, but I do remember thinking, “I don’t need this yet. My daughter is still too young.” Fast forward not too many years later and I remember thinking, “I wish this had been the book I read when they were babies.” Books are like that. Some you wish you’d read years earlier and had incorporated their nuggets of wisdom. You wonder how life and parenting might have been different. Others you pick up and think, “Oh, I won’t need that for a long time.” My FAVORITE books on motherhood are the ones that don’t really leave you with either of those impressions. They inspire you in whatever season of parenting you are in, that TODAY you still have impact and purpose in the lives of your children. This is my list of books that I’ve come back to again and again because they do just that.

Adventuring Together by Greta Eskridge

Greta Eskridge is one of my favorite moms in the homeschool world that talks about this idea of adventuring with your kids. She started doing weekly adventures when her four kids where little, but my favorite part? She’s still doing them with her teens! This book will inspire you to think beyond the walls of your own home to where YOU live (even if it’s not the mountains or beach!)

Memory Making Mom by Jessica Smartt

If you want a “handbook” of ideas on how you can make memories and traditions as a family, this is it. Jessica Smartt will make you laugh page after page and think, “Hey, we could do that as a family!” She gives suggestions for every holiday (and more), ways to incorporate monthly and weekly traditions as a family, and why this idea of tradition even matters.

Let Them be Kids by Jessica Smartt

If you’re like me and you struggle with wondering how many activities to put your kids into and how childhood should be spent, this book is for you.

M is for Mama by Abbie Halberstadt

Abbie might be a homeschool mama to 10, but I promise you don’t need to be either of those to enjoy this book. Her wisdom is sound, practical, and down to earth. This book challenged the way I thought about many of the mundane tasks in my home and the attitudes I have towards my children and motherhood. Abbie is the voice our culture greatly needs right now towards children and the home.

The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson

Sally Clarkson is one of my absolute favorite authors. This is the book I probably come back to the most of any on this list. If there’s one author I could have a cup of coffee with, it would be Sally.

Discipline that Connects with your Child’s Heart by Jim & Lynn Jackson

Hands down, the best book I’ve ever read on parenting and discipline. While most books will give you a lot of “theory”, this is the first book I’ve ever seen that offers you wisdom on what to actually say and how to respond to the many different behaviors and scenarios you may encounter as a parent.

The Read a Loud Family by Sarah Mackenzie

This was the book that transformed the course of how I spent my parenting time forever. I knew the important of reading to my kids, but it wasn’t until I read this book that I actually changed a large part of our lives to revolve around reading. Sarah Mackenzie inspires our monthly picture book lists from the library and her adult book suggestions have always been a favorite. This is a book to read again every few years!

Missional Motherhood by Gloria Furman

If you’re looking for a deep, rich, theological book to inspire your spiritual journey as a mother, Gloria Furman is your go-to author. She never disappoints in pointing your eyes to the glories of the gospel.

For In-Laws

Looking for some ideas for your mom or mother-in-law?

Here’s my top 3!

Making Room for Her by Barbara & Stacy Reaoch

Aging with Grace by Susan Hunt

Beholding and Becoming by Ruth Chou Simmons

April Book Lists

“Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but more important, it finds homes for us everywhere.” —Jean Rhys

Looking for book ideas for the new month? I’ve got you covered heading into spring! As promised, there’s adult recommendations as well as children’s picture books. Head over to your local library and put these on hold now!

What I’m reading this month…

Ten Words to Live By by Jen Wilkin

*This is definitely a book worth owning and reading every few years.

The Spiritually Vibrant Home: The Power of Messy Prayers, Loud Tables, and Open Doors by Don Everts

*This is another resource for families that you’ll want to own and have on your bookshelf.

Embrace Your Life: How to Find Joy When the Life You Have is Not the Life You Hope For by Elizabeth Woodson

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah

A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner

*Full book reviews coming soon.

Picture Book List

Who knew children’s books could be so beautiful to look at and read? I always suggest getting at least 10 books to read for the month so that you are exposed to a variety of authors and illustrators.

*This blog post does contain affiliate links. It will not come at any extra cost to you, but any purchases help support the cost of Little Roots.

St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is more than a day dressing in green and talking about leprechauns and rainbows! As parents or caregivers of children, we can use even this holiday as another opportunity to point children to the gospel. Not even sure what that could look like? I promise, you don’t need a degree in theology to do this! Let’s keep it simple, fun, and doable for all of us while looking for ways we can incorporate God into everything.

First up, you probably want to consider investing in this fantastic set by Voice of the Martyrs, The Courageous Series, to pull out at different holidays. I haven’t been able to find any books through a local library that come even close to the content quality of these. (You can also purchase books individually if desired.)

Patrick: God’s Courageous Captive

Next up, do grab a few picture books from your local library. Here’s what we currently have on hold to read this year. I usually aim for around 5-10 picture books for each holiday so that we can be exposed to a wide range of writing styles and imagery.

Picture BookList (go for 5-10 picture books) 

Also mentioned in this post: Noah and the Very Big Boat


If you have littles (or grandkids), plan one small craft. Don’t have kids? Consider grabbing some supplies for a craft, packing them in a box, and gifting a young mom.

Supplies needed: large marshmallows or bell peppers (or both!), green finger paint (make sure it’s washable), white paper

  • Shamrock craft (this craft can be used to teach children about the trinity)

Supplies needed: toothpick, tape, scissors, yarn, hole punch, glue stick, colored card stock or construction paper (you’ll need green, brown, yellow, and white) , printable template (see post for printable)

Want a chance to connect with your neighbors? Plan a simple outdoor gold coin scavenger hunt (aka these chocolate coins) with the neighbor kids and invite everyone over for snacks afterward!

Supplies needed: chocolate coins

This craft involves nature, but slightly more time (see supply list on blog). This would be a great craft to read alongside Noah and the Very Big Boat (discussing God’s great promise behind the rainbow).

Food Ideas

And of course food makes everything more fun! Gather around your table, grab a read aloud (or two or three!) and enjoy making some new traditions with your family. My biggest suggestion is to not make this too complicated. Choose 1-2 recipes that would easily fit into your day!

Around the World

There are still countries in the world today where people still kidnap others and sell them as slaves. We may never be kidnapped by people of a strange land and forced to tend sheep or camels, but like Patrick, our friends may laugh at us for believing in a God we cannot see with our eyes.” -Patrick, The Courageous Book Series

St. Patrick’s Day is an opportunity to teach our children (in age appropriate ways) that there are millions of people around the world who are being forced into slavery today. We should take some time around our tables to pray and remember them.

Do you subscribe to the free magazine by Voice of the Martyrs? This is a great resource to read together as a family and remember those around the world who are risking their lives for the gospel. You might also be interested in this resource for praying around the world with your children.


I hope you see that as you gather around kitchen tables for a craft, cook with your kids, snuggle on a couch with some books, or get outside with your neighbors…all of these are everyday opportunities you can use to point your children to the great promises of God, both for those in persecution around the world and for us who might be there someday.

Easter Guide 2022

Little Root’s Easter Guide 2022 is simply a list of some of the best Christian books and resources currently available to help you prepare for Easter individually and as a family. I have tried my best to curate something for every age group in my lists.

Children’s Picture Books

The Garden, The Curtain, and The Cross (ages 4+)
The Donkey Who Carried a King (ages 4+)
A Very Happy Easter
Holy Week: An Emotions Primer
The Easter Fix
That Grand Easter Day!
Jesus Rose for Me: The True Story of Easter
The First Easter Day!
The Final Scroll (ages 5+)

Seek and Find: New Testament Bible Stories

Additional Resources

Easter Blocks

These are currently available for pre-order and will ship in time for Holy Week. We’ve been using our Advent block set for two years now and LOVE it! This Easter set looks just as good. These sets are not cheap, so it’s important to remember you are investing in a tradition that will carry you through the years as a family.

Resurrection Eggs

If you have littles (6 and under), resurrection eggs are a fun addition to Easter month. Everyone loves finding the hidden eggs and reading the stories to match.

Easter Card Set by Crew & Co.

This beautiful Easter card set aligns with stories from the Jesus Storybook Bible. Have fun counting down the days together with your kids!

Individual Lent Studies & Family Devotionals

A Jesus Easter: Explore God’s Amazing Rescue Plan (family devotional)

Confident: Enduring by Faith in Christ (Well Watered Women)

Uncovering the Love of Jesus by Asheritah Ciuciu

Journey to the Cross by Paul Tripp

Easter Music Playlists

Andrew Peterson: Resurrection Letters

Caroline Cobb: Lent to Easter Playlist

Seeds Family Worship: Seeds of Easter

**This post does contain affiliate links.

Every Moment Holy, Even Sleep Insomnia

“I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.” 
Psalm 3:5

My Journey

I remember the exact week on the calendar when my third baby finally started sleeping through the night (hello 9 months!) While I had coveted the long awaited rest of a full night’s sleep, I was completely unprepared for the sleep insomnia my body began to experience. One night turned into two, two into four, and soon a week turned into weeks on end. The season I had so desperately looked forward to, was not the one I found myself standing in.

It was during that summer when I forced myself to repeat the promises of the psalms. “I will lay down and sleep, I will wake again, for it is the Lord who will sustain me.” I forced myself to pray for others until eventually my mind and body gave way into a few hours of rest.

“The same God who sustains us in our sleep, sustains us in our difficulties.” Most of us may never walk through the dark valley of sleep insomnia. But at some point each of us will find ourselves standing in a life season that looks different than what we had planned. It is in these moments when we must ask ourselves the question, “Do I believe God will sustain me even in this?”

Romans 8:31 says, “If God is for us, who can be successful against us?” Not sleep insomnia, not miscarriage, not infertility, not delayed plans, not the loss of a family member, not divorce, not singleness, not cancer, not the loss of a job, can separate us from the love of Christ. No, even in the face of death itself we can stand confidently and say, “With God, we will gain victory.” (Psalm 60:12)

God’s Provision

Many people have asked me what I found to cure my sleep insomnia. My short answer is nothing. There was no product I used, habit I formed, or perfect environment I created to “beat insomnia.” As quickly as it happened to me, a few months later it seemed to disappear. Over the last year I’ve continued to struggle with it off and on with no medical answers.

One gift that was really helpful to me during this time was Every Moment Holy. This book, which is a compilation of beautiful liturgies, contains prayers for different hours of the day, areas of labor and vocation, creation and recreation, blessing and celebration, petition and provision, sorrow and lament, and even table blessings. I often use this book after reading a psalm in the morning by choosing a liturgy to read, meditate on, and write down parts of the prayer that were significant in my journal.

Every Moment Holy

As difficult as my journey has been, I can face the unknowns of insomnia with confidence that God will provide me just enough strength and energy I need to face today. I need not fear tomorrow, I need not fear tonight. He has met me in the darkest waters, and has made even these moments holy.

Lead me by your mercies through these hours,

that I might spend them well,

not in harried pursuit of my own agendas, but

rather in good service to you.

teach me to shepherd the small duties

of this day with great love,

tending faithfully to those tasks

you place within my care

and tending with patience and kindness

the needs and hearts of those people you place within my reach.

(Every Moment Holy | Excerpt from A Liturgy for First Waking)