It’s no small secret that moms with young children don’t have a lot of down-time. It’s just part of life these days, and you know, it’s really okay. It’s a pouring out into these precious little lives, a giving back of all that I’ve been given by so many people and especially the Lord throughout the years.

One thing that has been a big change is in my reading. I’ve always been an avid reader, from the time I first learned to spell. My mom instilled in us kids a love of learning, and a love of education, something I want to pass on. Back in the day (i.e. before children) I would read scores of books a year, dozens upon dozens. And well, that has changed. :)

My love of reading has not, however. I still love to “travel the world” through written word, imagining the story in my mind. But because my time is a lot more limited in “free time” segments, what I do read has to be worth the time spent there. My goal is to read 2 books a month, which for me is a lot at this stage. :) And it doesn’t always happen, but when it does I feel very accomplished! Ha!

winter book list

This winter I’ve read some exceptional books, and I’ll share a few of them. Some were recommended by my sister, one was given by a friend, and some I just discovered along the way.

My favorites from the past few months are:

Heaven is Here (by Stephanie Neilson)
The Insanity of God (by Nik Ripkin)
The Clouds We So Much Dread (by Sharon Stoltzfus)
Lessons from Madame Chic (by Jennifer L. Scott)

Not pictured but read via Kindle:
Choosing to See (Mary Beth Chapman)
-The Secret Garden (Zoe and I read together, by Frances Burnett)

I didn’t even realize it until now, but all of these books, with the exception of The Secret Garden, are real-life stories. I’m not sure why I’m gravitating toward that type of genre right now, except that I am incredibly moved by great men and women, people who rise above their circumstances and choose to learn and grow even from the most devastating situations (The Clouds We So Much Dread, Choosing to See, Heaven is Here). Or people who enter another country (Madame Chic), and view its culture and people with curiousity and delight. Or people who engage with those who have nothing, even at their own risk (The Insanity of God).

My soul has been stirred and deepened, and I am amazed at the strength of the human spirit, fueled by the Creator.

Sharon Stoltzfus, author of ‘The Clouds We So Much Dread,’ has offered a book to giveaway on my blog.

In reading through her story earlier this year, I was so deeply moved at the strength and courage of she and her husband and their four precious children as they walked through one of the most difficult things anyone could possibly face: a terminal illness,

The heartbeat of God that comes through made me cry on nearly every page. The response of raw honesty and gripping pain combined with open-hands surrender to the sovereignty of God is unlike anything I’ve ever read. The writing of Spurgeon and other great men of God were often quoted, and brought strength and perspective. The book follows their journey through the discovery of the illness and the walking through some of the darkest days anyone could face.

 I was so challenged in my own walk with God and my view of God through reading this book, and I highly highly recommend it to anyone who is facing or has gone through terminal illness or loss of any kind.

Shortly before the time that Sharon’s husband passed into eternity, my dear aunt Freida also reached Eternity. But before Freida passed, she had a passion for widows especially, and her heart and passion birthed a beautiful thing called “Handyman Ministries.” This is a businessmen-funded operation that employs men to care for widows and do household maintenance and repairs (and now other people in need) free of charge. The idea was so beautiful, and the carrying out of the idea into reality has touched so many lives and been an incredible blessing to hundreds of people through the past years.

All proceeds from the book, ‘The Clouds We So Much Dread’, go toward Handyman Ministries, at Sharon’s request.

the clouds we so much dread

The ways of God are so mysterious… Sharon is now married, to my uncle who was widowed upon the death of my dear aunt. She is a beautiful person and my life is richer for knowing her. Although she and we would never have wished the circumstances that brought us together, we are grateful for the fresh mercies of God and the way He can bring beauty from ashes. Only He is capable of doing that.

To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment about one of your favorite recent reads!
This giveaway will go from now until next week Wednesday, with the winner contacted on Thursday, April 2.

This giveaway is now closed, and the winner is KRISTA! Congratulations!!


74 thoughts on “Winter Reading list (and book giveaway)

  1. Sarah Esh

    I love lists like these! I, too, am an avid reader, and now that I’m a mom I am discovering just how wonderful books on audio are.

    I haven’t read Lesson’s from Madame Chic yet, but I love reading the blog and following Jennifer Scott on Youtube. She is so classy.

    My favorite books from 2015 are: Bread and Wine, by Shauna Niequist and Bridge to Haven, by Francine Rivers.

  2. Christa R.

    I have been slowly reading here and there through Prayers & peanut butter by Barbara Classen! I will eventually finish it! :-) Reading is one of my hobbies but don’t find much time these days with my two littles!

  3. Rebecca

    Oh my goodness I would LOVE to win this book! As i read the first part of your post I was drawn to that book and it definitely looks amazing!! My favorite read as of late is “The Hardest Peace” by Kara Tippets, who just recently went home to be with the Lord, but my ALL time favorite book is “Evidence Not Seen” by Darlene Diebler Rose. That book has been life changing in SO many ways! If you haven’t read it lady I want to mail you a copy – NOW!!
    :) Hope you are having a wonderful day!
    Rebecca :)

  4. fingerprintsonmyheart

    Do Dr. Suess and children’s Max Lucado books count as “good reads?” :) Oh I love to read too and so feel your “pain” about not having the time right now. But I know you feel this way too…it’s a small price to pay for being a mommy! :) Wow you’re doing good reading two a month! I’ve been working my way through “Set-Apart Femininity” by Leslie Ludy – a challenging book! Thanks for doing this giveaway!

  5. KarenM

    I’ve been reading through “Present Perfect (Finding God in the Now)” by Gregory Boyd. I help out at a ministry at my church and we were assigned this book for homework. I would have never picked it on my own but have been immensely blessed by reading it. The chapters don’t have to be read in order so it’s easy to pick up and peruse. Read it–your thinking will be transformed!

  6. Joyce Mummau

    I just finished reading “Silent Night’ by Sue Thomes. It is a remarkable story of her life and how she rose above the challenges of being deaf and went on to work for the FBI and now is an international speaker with a challenging call to full submission to God.

  7. Jolene

    I would love to win this book, and if I don’t, I may just have to purchase it for its worthy cause! What a neat ministry! I too like to read but don’t do it nearly like I did before I had children. I really love Dr Robert Leslie’s book about his life in the ER. I think real life stories are the best!

  8. tessfull2

    I love books, and like you miss having the time to just read. I just finished up the book “Undone” by Michelle Cushatt. It is a real life story. I also read Maximum Faith by George Barna, and it was pretty good.

  9. Shannon

    I have The Hardest Peace by Kara Tippets on my Kindle and I have just loved it. I want to read it again just to make sure I get all the good I can from it. She lived an amazing life.

  10. Mimy Rollman

    I’m presently reading Set Apart Motherhood and have been so encouraged! I have also recently read Sharon’s book and was so inspired!! My husband is privileged to work for Handyman and has met all kinds of interesting people!

  11. Esta Schlabach

    I used to devour good books. Since our son Jared passed on I have a hard time concentrating for a length of time. Right now I am often inspired by blogs and ” Jesus Calling “. This sounds like a book I should read.

  12. Mary Landis

    What a fun giveaway…..I’d love to read Sharon’s book. I am currently reading, “Own Your Life,” by Sally Clarkson and like it so far. Love to you, Mary

  13. A Slice With Joy

    I’m not the hugest book-worm but I have been enjoying the book “The Girlfriends Guide to Toddlerhood!” Its written in such a fun, hilarious way. And of course having a toddler of my own makes it perfect for the things I’m going through with him!

  14. Rosanna Mullet

    One of my favorite recent reads is “The Auschwitz Escape” by Joel Rosenburg, but I have many more favorites! =) Thanks for doing this fun book giveaway!

  15. Jan

    This book sounds like a good read! And the proceeds going to help the widows is awesome. I know firsthand how there are jobs a widow needs help with, and who should they ask??
    I seldom get through a book so I can’t say I’ve read a favorite recently, only ones like Curious George, etc…but I’m currently reading Slaying the Giant by French O’Shields and I also enjoy Jesus Calling for my devotional.

  16. Rach

    I love to read also & didn’t read for a few years with three preschoolers but since my “baby” is now 3 I am definitly fitting it in alot more.. ;) I also have gravitated towards true stories and I love them.. I have a few faves from this winter that I would recommend: all 3 books of “Call the Midwife” series by Jennifer Worth and “Sarah’s Key” by Tatiana de Rosnay. I’d like to read all these books you wrote about now too.. :)

  17. loaine

    I too,am an avid reader.Almost all my reading is real-life stories,both secular and Christian.I especially like medical related stories,be it from a doctor or a patient’s perspective.It’s especially heart wrenching to read stories of children with a terminal illness. I have been inspired and amazed at testimonies of Christian men & women who have walked very difficult journeys.It is so sad to read secular books where people have nowhere to turn but to what the world offers(alcohol,drugs,promiscuity) when they face illness,death,etc.A recent read is The Hardest Peace and like Rebecca said,Evidence Not Seen is a book that I have read countless times.Other books that I have read more than once are:Christy,Lucy Winchester,A Mother Held Hostage by Barbara Borntrager,A Table For Two by Alisa Bair,Walking Taylor Home by Brian Schrauger.

  18. emily

    I’m in the middle of reading You and Me Forever by Francis Chan and also reading one of Dr Robert Leslie’s books on ER stories.

  19. Angela

    Secret Garden has been my favorite book since grade school. Just love it. I am currently reading One Hundred Days of Inspiration {Trim Healthy Mama} — and The Best Yes by Lysa TerKuerst. I definitely wish I made more time to read.

  20. lonnajoy

    Love this mostly because I love to read too and these books sound wonderful and I haven’t read them all. I did read Choosing to See and loved it. My recent favorite and it’s right up there on my all time favorite books was Joni and Ken an Untold Love Story. I love true stories and this one is tops. It really made me look at my life with new appreciation. I’ve loved all of Joni’s books in the past and loved them, and this one is right up there with the rest of them.

  21. Karyn

    Thanks, Clarita! I love to read, and think the ‘Miss Read’ stories are my favorite for relaxation. I just finished ‘She Is Mine’ by Stephanie Fast, which is an incredible, heart-wrenching, true story of a South Korean orphan who survived terrible deprivation and eventually was adopted into an American family. It is a perfect example of the fact that God knows what is happening in our lives and He cares!

  22. Ashley

    The Grand Weaver by Ravi Zacharias It’s about how God shapes us through the events of our lives. I haven’t finished it yet but it is a must read for everyone! The chapters are titled as such… Your DNA matters, Your Disappointments matter, Your Calling matters, Your Morality matters, Your Spirituality matters, Your Will matters, Your Worship matters, Your Destiny matters. I hope this book touches another like it is me.

  23. Kathlene Kauffman

    Reading comes for me in spurts. I’ll pick up a book a read for awhile, lay it aside and maybe come back to it. I admire people who enjoy reading because I do think it is a good way of growing and learning. IA book I have been reading recently is The Myth of a Christian Religion by Gregory A. Boyd(I haven’t laid this one aside, just takes awhile for me to get through it:) I have been challenged to view every individual person I meet, no matter how they look, as a person with unsurpassable worth. The Kingdom of God is about loving and serving people with unsurpassable worth.

  24. Melanie Fisher

    Some life-changers for me have been The Heavenly Man, Disappointment with God, Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth :) and The Myth of a Christian Nation. An all-time favorite is Story, by Steven James.

  25. Krissy

    Yay!! book lists :)
    Currently reading You & Me Forever by Francis Chan. So good. Fun book to read with your husband :)

  26. Ruth

    A touching read for me was Kris Holloway’s Monique and the Mango Rains-2 Years with a Midwife in Mali, and I just finished Beautiful Boy by David Sheff – A Father’s Journey Through his Son’s Addiction.

  27. eunice b

    I’ve been reading Fringe Time by Jessica Turner…a good challenge right now for me! :-) Thanks for the delightful giveaway!

  28. Sharon G

    Curious George, Frog and Toad, Pooh stories, Berenstain Bears…Oh, you meant grown-up books. Lets see, we’ve been reading through Laura Ingalls Wilder series as a family and personally, working through loss, I’ve been enjoying “Traveling through Grief” -Smeenge & DeVries, A Grace Disguised -Jerry Sitser and a SS book that I think is a must for all lady to lady relationships, “The Uncommon Woman” -Susie Larson. And just to lighten my heart which I need much of these days, “the Antelope in the Living Room” by Melanie Shankle! So lots of books in progress here for myself.

  29. amy j.

    I honestly barely ever read books anymore, BUT, just in the past month, I ordered & read Kathy Crabb Hannah’s “Stronger”.

  30. joanna n.

    i’m currently reading “shattered dreams” by larry crabb, & i’m being challenged so very much by God’s love for us even when He allows dreams to be shattered, for so often, it is in these heartbreaking times that our innermost being searches & connects w/ the Lover of our souls. thanks for sharing this giveaway & your reading list! pinning for later reading inspiration, since i, too, adore this pastime. as well, thank you for the reminder of “handyman ministries.” i had heard something about this awhile ago, but now that my MIL is widowed, she might be thankful for their services to supplement family & friends’ caring acts. what a wonderful ministry opportunity!

  31. Rajinie

    Just finished reading “A sweet and bitter providence” by John Piper last week, and fell in love with the book of Ruth and the truth it displays so beautifully all over again!

  32. Katrina

    I am currently reading through the life story of Keith Green written by his wife Melody. It has inspired and challenged me so much. He lived with so much passion, but he not only lived it but he acted on that passion and impacted many lives for eternity. I love reading books that challenge and inspire me to do more for the sake of the Gospel!!

  33. Sharon

    ah, i shall be back just to look at all the book suggestions. Not to much reading going on here right now either, but Lois Tverberg’s Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus, and Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus, are on my list of favorites right now.

  34. MELISSA Stutzman

    I knew your aunt Frieda, and adored her. THE Heavenly Man, Francis and Edith Schaeffer z,’s autobiography– just finished it, The Calling, A Time to Die.

    1. The Cottage at 341 South Post author

      H Krista!! I just wanted to let you know that you are the winner of the book giveaway, “The Clouds We So Much Dread.” I’d love to send that out to you, if you would be so kind as to give me your mailing address! You can message me through the ‘contact me’ tab on my blog! Thank you, and congratulations!! :)

  35. Nancy Lapp

    Love to read!! Just finished Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers and now I am reading God’s at war

  36. Charissa

    Two classics I enjoyed this winter were THE ROBE and THE BIG FISHERMAN by Lloyd C Douglas.

  37. michelle

    I too love to read and love finding posts like this with new book ideas. I just read She is Mine by Stephanie Fast after hearing her talk one night. Such a heart wrenching story! I love anything by Francine Rivers too.

  38. Dorcas S.

    I too love to read and sitting in my bedroom is Set Apart Motherhood by Leslie Ludy. looks like such a good read. I enjoy classics as well.

  39. Judy

    always looking for a good read so thank-you for posting some of yours, i added the ones i have not read to my amazon wish list,i just finished Living and Dying in Brick City, and have just started The Middle Place.

  40. Ruth

    I’m not a big reader, but once in a while have an urge to read a really good book! I enjoy true stories the most. I recently read Taylor’s Gift by Todd & Tara Storch. The story about their daughter’s death in a skiing accident and how they donated her organs and then met those people… A good book! And I really enjoy listening to audio books. The most recent one being Angels on the Nighshift. {BTW… I’ve never commented here before, but I really do enjoy your blog. You have creative and good writing talents!}

  41. Anne Weaver

    Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss is pretty high on the list for my favorites. A recent read was Outrageous Grace by Grace Fabian. Sure would enjoy reading this book too.

  42. Shelley Smucker

    What a lovely giveaway! And I just loved reading through all the comments for good book suggestions. Can’t wait to check some of them out! The one I’ve read most recently that has left a HUGE impact on me is “You and Me Forever” by Francis and Lisa Chan. Amazing. I’m also reading through Jane Eyre right now because I had seen the movie but NOT read the book yet (shame, shame, I know, it’s a classic) and I am loving it. Such vivid, descriptive detail and emotion. I can almost get panicky when I think about how I could read a book every day and not even scratch the surface before I die….there truly is just not enough time! :)

  43. amber~

    the book you’re giving away sounds so good… just your description of it and a little of sharon’s background had me feeling emotional. amazing how God works and weaves pain into our lives that ultimately produces joy and blessings!

    i’m afraid the only books i’ve been reading through the winter are kids books w/ my kiddos! black beauty and young pilgrims progress! ;)) shayne and i did just start reading, rich dad poor dad, which is a great book on finances. very fascinating. i for sure can’t sit up all hours of the night reading, like i did in my younger years. ha! now i’m good to get a chapter in before dozing off. what is happening??!!! ;))

    happy friday there. xox

  44. Gretchen

    What a delightful giveaway! My reading goals as a mom are much shorter than yours….last year I finally read the Hobbit and this year my desire is to reread Pilgrim’s Progress this year; it’s been so long since I’ve read that favorite.

  45. Velinda

    The Hardest Peace by Kara Tippets – highly recommend! And Tattoes on the Heart by Gregory Boyle – life changing! Story of a priest who started a gang ministry in Los Angeles.

  46. Rachel

    a giveaway is always so fun!
    i LOVE to read, but like you said, it is hard to find time for that as a mom with young children. the last book i read….does a cookbook count?! ;) no, actually, i have not read a book for months, and the last one i read was a John Grisham, and it took me months to get through it. i think i need to set goals and time aside to read if it’s something important to me. and, it really is.
    happy weekend to you!

  47. fightlikeagurl

    “Too Small to Ignore” by Dr. Wes Stafford, the president and CEO of Compassion International, grabbed my heart and held it spell-bound. This man has such a passion for children to be valued by us in the same way Jesus values them, and writes about how life-changing this can be in the life of a child. I highly recommend every Christian read this book! Also reading “The Connected Child” by Karen Purvis. Such a gem in learning how to connect well with children who come from hard places. She is an amazing advocate for traumatized kids.

  48. Jenn

    Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker. We are in the middle of an adoption of a little boy with special needs in China and our world is being rocked big time by God. This book was perfect timing.

  49. Kristina Martin

    I am in a book club, and maybe this could be a future option for our group to read collectively? Currently I am reading “Laura Ingalls Wilder, Pioneer Girl, An Annotated Autobiography”. She was my favorite, favorite childhood author, and is such an interesting read about her life! And my son and I are reading “Charlotte’s Web” at nap time every day. Favorite line we have come across from this work is “Children often hold onto things tighter than their parents think they will.” I framed it for our playroom.

  50. Gloria F

    I love to read too, but I don’t have much time with 5 young children. The last book I read was about Ben Carson. My favorite books to read are true stories!

  51. Jana

    I am so proud of dear Aunt Sharon & would love to win the book! :) Latest book bought on Amazon, inspired by Shelley S. is: ‘You and Me Forever’, {Francis Chan}

  52. Sherri Y.

    My recent favorite is “Fashioned to Reign” by Kris Vallatton. He does a phenomenal job at explaining the women’s role in Biblical times & now in today’s society. The Lord has given us as women a strong, amazing & powerful role to play in His kingdom!

  53. Karen Zimmerman

    From all the above comments, it looks like I have a great list of good books to read. I am presently reading the book, “Hinds’ Feet On High Places”, a beautiful allegory of the Christian life and the pathway to higher heights of joy, love, and victory through desert experiences, pain, suffering, and refining fires. It is through acceptance with joy and surrender, that pain can become beauty out of ashes for His glory.

  54. Melanie S. Yoder

    Oh, lots of books piled around. . . Some I’ve read the last months – Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, Crystal Paine; Surprised by Motherhood, Lisa-Jo Baker; Shatterproof, Katrina Hoover

  55. ChelsyRenee

    I’m actually reading “Total MoneyMakeover” right now. And I would love to win this book you are giving away! Your pile of reads sound like some great ones!

  56. Julia

    One of my most recent favorites is How to Win People & Influence Friends” by Dale Carnegie. Read it for business, but it actually revolutionized every aspect of relationships in my life. Highly recommend it :)

  57. Julie

    I love to read, but the time I get for it is few and far between because I have 4 little boys, ages 6, 4, 2 and 5 weeks AND I’m a full-time grad student. Right now I’m reading “You and Me Forever: Marriage in the Light of Eternity” by Francis Chan.

  58. Lorraine Roggie

    I’m reading for my devotional. True Women 101 Divine Design by Mary Kassian Nacy Leigh Demoss. It talks about biblical womenhood. Lorraine Roggie

  59. Rosanne

    I recently read Choosing to See and loved it. It was helpful in understanding someone else’s pain.
    I love real. So stories of real people are so good and touch that place in me that in some way or another make me feel connected to them.

  60. Kristy

    I am reading You and Me Forever by Francis and Lisa Chan right now…. Just what I have read has been so challenging!

  61. Tonya Stoltzfus

    I’m currently reading wild at heart (discovering the secret of a man’s soul) it’s so good and helps me understand my husband better and see things from a man’s point of view! I’d love to win this book.. it sounds really good!

  62. Kate

    Invitation To Tea by Monica Lang. One of my all time favorites. Haven’t read it for over a year, it’s high time again!

  63. Bethany

    I appreciate book suggestions always! The go giver is the last book I read and loved. I’m in the middle of write it down, make it happen by Henriette Anne klauser and I’m being inspired by this one too!

  64. Christy

    Ooooh, fun. I always love good book suggestions. I’m finding a few to add to my library list and I think one may already be on my list of holds at the library. :) I always have a lot of books going at once, so this year I’m making a goal of finishing at least one book per month. I’m having fun adding books to my list of books read, but it seems I just keep finding more and more good books to read. Ha! A reader’s constant dilemma, right?

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