trouble sleeping? try a book. (here are my picks.)

Technology has a way of sneaking up and becoming a permanent fixture in my daily routine.

I work from home, so my laptop is constantly around, with emails not-so-patiently waiting to be checked and documents longingly waiting to be tackled. I’m a member of Team iPhone, which means I have Twitter, Facebook, Huffington Post, Tumblr, CNN, e-mail, and a barrage of other apps and tools glued to my hand and available at a moment’s notice.

Confession: I love being connected.

Confession: Sometimes too much.

In an attempt to unplug, I’ve been trying to read more before bed instead of mindlessly scrolling through Twitter feeds.

A 2011 study from the National Sleep Foundation found that 95 percent of Americans report very active technology use in the hour before trying to sleep. Almost everyone surveyed uses some type of electronics (think TV, computer, video games or cell phone) at least a few nights a week within the hour before bed.

But, our Good Night iPhone routine isn’t so awesome for us. (Or, for the 35+ set, the nightly reliance on TV.)

Artificial light exposure between dusk and the time we go to bed at night suppresses release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin, enhances alertness and shifts circadian rhythms to a later hour—making it more difficult to fall asleep,” says Charles Czeisler, PhD, MD, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.  “This study reveals that light-emitting screens are in heavy use within the pivotal hour before sleep. Invasion of such alerting technologies into the bedroom may contribute to the high proportion of respondents who reported that they routinely get less sleep than they need.”

Since I’m preggo and sleep is extra important these days, pouring my iPhone nightcap down the drain seemed like a good idea.

Here’s what I’ve been reading (in…wait for it…print!).

What: Baby Catcher:Chronicles of a Modern Midwife by Peggy Vincent.

First thoughts: This is a good one, you guys! Peggy writes with authenticity, empathy and intelligence as she remembers her 40+ years in midwifery. I’m only through the first part, where she chronicles her experience in the ’60s + ’70s. I’m happy times have changed and excited to keep reading.

What: Revolutionary Parenting by George Barna

First thoughts: The Barna Group is one of the top research firms for insight into faith + culture. Its public opinion research is frequently quoted in major media outlets, such as USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, etc. The book uses a series of surveys + personal interviews with both young adults and their parents to find what it takes to raise kids who are spiritual champions. We also nabbed a workbook to go with it. I like that it’s based on stats + research, but doesn’t eliminate the human aspect of parenting. Excited to dig in more!

What: 20 Things Adoptive Parents Need to Succeed by Sherrie Eldridge

First Thoughts: I pretty much skimmed the entire book the evening I brought it home from the library. Sometimes adoption books freak me out by providing plenty of worst-case scenarios. Eldridge (who was domestically adopted in mid-century America) does a decent job of realistically guiding parents through tough scenarios without getting doomsday. Two critiques: I think sometimes her own experiences color her perspectives pretty heavily, and her writing could go for an extra dose of grace. That being said, there were nuggets I definitely bookmarked, wrote down, and read aloud to Jonny. If there’s anything I can do to be a better parent to Joseph (and any other kiddos who come into our family through adoption), then I am all about it!

You can probably sense a theme. A two-year-old toddler + baby on the way have me on the parenthood-book track. (But, I’d recommend Baby Catcher to any one — kids or not!)

What’s on your nightstand? What should I check out at the library?

Today, Orphan Sunday, I join many others in remembering + praying for so many children who are parentless.

I’m so thankful.

So thankful for all who dedicate time and service to forgotten ones via foster care, missions, acts of love, + so much more.

So thankful for the children who will never again carry the label orphan because of adoption.

So thankful that God is writing an amazing story through the life of our son, who doesn’t have our physical features but so surely has captured our hearts.

So thankful that through loss, there can be redemption. Thankful that there is beauty in the ashes. That a parentless child can join a family — forever.

So thankful that when the world says it’s impossible, God says it can be better than you can fathom.

Today, be encouraged that there is hope in a dark world.

Be encouraged that though the orphan statistics are deep + wide, even the life of one, down the street or across the globe, is worth more than many sparrows.

If you consider yourself devoted to Jesus, be encouraged that God can and will use you to be the hands + feet to the orphan…when you say yes. No matter who you are, no matter where you are, what your income level is or where your theology or political ideology places you, God is waiting for you to enter into the suffering + redemption of lives, which includes orphan care. He is calling you.

Can you hear it?

I pray for you as you open yourselves up to an amazing, supernatural narrative — that God’s great love for the orphan will echo in your lives as well.

  • God is vested, deeply and personally, in the plight of the orphan (i.e. Dt 10:18; Ps 68:5-6). 
  • He calls His people to join Him in this, bringing to each parentless child the love of Jesus Christ in both word and deed (Is 1:17; James 1:27; Mt. 10:42; Mt. 25:40).
  • Most importantly, the Gospel itself is the story of God’s rescue and adoption of us. On Orphan Sunday, the Church is reminded of this beautiful truth and urged to act upon it. 

Maybe circumstances are not leading you to adoption, but if you hear those whispers, those soft indications and inklings that there is something more, please be encouraged and know that I would love to talk with you + join you in your journey.

Because I know from experience, God uses those who the world says, ‘Really? Them? But How?’’.

I know because I’ve tasted it.

May your surrender to his Kingdom result in the sweetest story worth living.

I know it will.

how to get the perfect bun + apply eyeshadow without looking like a clown

There are two things that make a cold, dreary day a little happier: frivolous pretty things, and free things. I hit the jackpot with free frivolous pretty things! (Thanks, Influenster.)

Today, for your reading pleasure, I review two of the fun items in my Beauty Vox Box.

1. Goody Simple Styles Spin Pins

What it is: Two metal springs that keep your hair in a bun, sans hair ties or bobby pins.

First thoughts: Cute idea, but totally not going to work in my layered, fairly thick hair.

How it works: Twirl your hair into a bun, then twist the pins into your hair. Done.

Tips: In the photo, I’m rocking a side bun. (For some reason I dubious about wearing a bun that I can’t see from the front. It feels like I have no hair. Is anyone else this neurotic?) The side bun didn’t hold up throughout the day, but I think that’s due to layers and running errands in the wind. To get my hair out of my face, I pulled my hair into a higher top knot, which stayed in place post-nap and into the evening.

The verdict: It took a couple tries, but it was a success! Perfect for achieving a pulled-together look in about a minute. I look forward to playing with the pins in the future for different looks. I’d rate the pins a B+. They’re $7.29 at your local store.

2. NYC New York Color IndividualEyes Custom Compact

What it is: Eyeshadow compact with four eyeshadows, one illuminator and one primer.

First thoughts: This stuff is cheap and isn’t going to stick!

Tips: I received the compact with a black/gray color palette. While I normally wear black eyeliner and mascara, I stick with easily blended neutral shadows. The first time I attempted a smokey eye with this compact, it was disastrous. I seriously looked like Mimi from The Drew Carey Show. Yikes. It came off easily, thankfully. Don’t put these on heavy handed! The next time I applied, I stuck witha light gray and a tiny dab of black smudged in the corner of my eye. Much better. I wore with Lancome eyeliner and Clinique mascara.

The verdict: For $5, it would be a fun way to add a little drama to your makeup bag. I really like the primer (it helps the shadow stay), and the gray is good for blending. The silver highlighter is a little too middle school for me, and it’s easy to go overboard and end up looking like a Kardashian after a long night out. I’d try it again in a more neutral color palette — the shadow is pretty pigmented, which isn’t always the case when it comes to drugstore makeup. Still, I think quality over quantity applies, which means I’ll probably spend a little more for one shadow and less chemicals rather than less for more shadows and more chemicals. I’d rate it a B-. It goes for $4.99 at most chain retailers.