“We’re going on a plane to Great-Grandpa’s house tomorrow,” I told my children one evening as we were sitting down for dinner. 

“Yay!” they cried out happily. 

“We’re going to see Grandma Susie, and Nonna, and Uncle Rick…” I began to list. 

“What about Great-Grandpa? Do we get to see him, too?” my 4-year-old asked innocently. 

I hesitated. As my daughters turned expectant eyes toward me, they waited, unaware of the undercurrents between my husband and I, the stifled tears. 

“No, sweetie,” I said, finally. “We won’t get to see Great-Grandpa. He died, but guess what? He went to live with Jesus!” 

“Hooray!” Elise exclaimed. “Aww…I want to live with Jesus!” 

I paused for a moment, caught myself smiling, an odd reaction given the gravity of the moment and the grief squeezing my heart. I’m surprised by the joy in her comment, and yet I wondered, Shouldn't my reaction mirror hers? 

Happy Monday! Thanks for being with us as we co-host for Make A Difference Monday, a place to get intentional about starting our week focused on the positive and dream up ways we can make a difference in the world. Today Kristin's talking about some great books to read during winter months when it's nice to stay home and get cozy. We'd love to know what's on your list of books to read, too!   

You might have seen the list of 26 Books to Read in 2015 – I filled mine out last week – but wanted to also share some of the books I’ve been loving lately, in case you’re looking for something but don’t want to get overwhelmed by 26 books. Here's a list of five books to read this winter, whether you're a new mom, a seasoned parent, looking for a laugh, or just having a hard day.
I love words. I have seen the power in telling a story. The way people can relate, connect, and find healing and enlightenment is incredible.

I enjoy offering encouragement, painting a picture with my words, or connecting with someone over shared experiences.

But there is another side to my words that is not so pretty.

Sometimes my words are harsh. Sometimes, out of anger or hurt, I wound others by the careless things that I say. I can be cold and mean, unforgiving and rigid.

It happened again just the other night. My 13-year-old and I often clash over schoolwork and expectations, and this night was no exception. I can verbally spar with my children, often backing them into a corner with my words. Daring them to challenge my “rightness.” But this night my son looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “I just wish you wouldn’t get so mad.” And the truth of his words stopped me mid-sentence.

I saw how I was wounding his heart. Crushing his spirit.

Later that night, as I sat at and thought about our interaction, frustrated with myself for how I had treated him and coming up with ways I wanted to do things differently, I realized:

Happy Monday! We have a lot going on this morning. First, thanks for being with us as we co-host for Make A Difference Monday, a place to get intentional about starting our week focused on the positive and dream up ways we can make a difference in the world. Second, Kristin is thrilled to be guest-posting for Amy Sullivan today. We absolutely love her book, When More is Not Enough, and are excited about the chance to talk about being generous with our gifts and talents. Lastly, Amy is giving TWO of our readers the Kindle version of her book. How awesome is that?! Just comment below in order to be entered into the drawing. The giveaway will end this Sunday, January 11, and we'll contact the winners at that time.

Here's the first part of Kristin's post -- be sure to check out more of Amy's blog, then head back here to enter the giveaway! 
These past few years, I have seen the power of words in their ability to change thoughts, actions, and deeds in myself and those around me. What we speak brings life or death, and this is no small thing.

I decided that on this, the first day of a New Year, I’d like to share a BLESSING with all of you on what I hope for ALL of us this year. 

A Blessing as we start this year:

Life is hard -- this, we’ve all come to know.
Whispered in the quiet of our souls, we’ve all wondered where this thing -- this life -- is going. 
We've looked for purpose. And Meaning. And Peace.

This year, may we start to seek out the hard places in our hearts that long for answers beyond the surface.
May we search for truth, even when it is uncomfortable.
May we lean into the pain and discomfort without pulling away.

May we start to find healing in that space.
May we start to find peace. And hope.
May we face each day with grace and hope, and with expectation of the GOOD that is to come.

May we start to notice the good in people and tell them what we see.
May we watch for all that is hopeful and call it out. May we begin to be a people of praise.