Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Word for Wednesday

"...God's children please Him just as well when they sit patiently with folded hands, if that is His will, as when they are hard at work."

~from Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss~

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Tuesday Confession

I prefer the chicken sandwiches from Wendy's over the chicken sandwiches from Chick-fil-a.
Stone me if you want, but it's true.
They're not as oily, and they don't taste like pickles.
They're just better, and I'm not afraid to admit it.

What's your favorite fast food joint?

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A Word for Wednesday

"...God notices the most trivial act, accepts the poorest, most threadbare little service, listens to the coldest, feeblest petition, and gathers up with parental fondness all our fragmentary desires and attempts at good works. Oh, if we could only begin to conceive how He loves us, what different creatures we should be!"

~from Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss~

Monday, November 21, 2016

Let's Bust a Recap : Sandy Toes


My BFF Christy (Miller) Spencer had her baby ON my birthday AND named her after me.

Yes, I'm totally serious.

I can not even.

My life is complete.

Recap done.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Casual Fridays

You guys. It came late Tuesday afternoon, and I had enough self-restraint to wait until Wednesday morning to open it. 

But then I read that whole dang book.

I was up until 4 AM.

Even though I had to be up for work at 7:45 AM.

Newsflash: I do not bounce back from an all-night reading party like I used to.


Check back for the recap Monday.

These shaggy, dirt-tracking messes got haircuts this week! Don't they look handsome? The groomer put Tennessee Vols bandanas on them this time around. Why a groomer in Winter Haven, FL is putting Tennessee bandanas on their canine clientele is a mystery to me. They're lucky I grew up with a father from the Volunteer State. If those dogs had been wearing Gator bandanas, we'd be looking for a new groomer.

My husband seriously outdid himself with the birthday spoiling this year. Look at these breathtaking books with their classic illustrations! They're gorgeous! I have a big-time crush on my new books, and I am starting to have an actual crisis about creating my book list for 2017. I really don't know how I'm going to do it. I'm trying to keep my list for next year shorter (as in like, 12 books total), but I just want to read ALL THE THINGS! Help.

What's on your agenda for the weekend?

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Happy Birthday to Our Sweet Girl!

Happy Birthday, Shallot! We love you forever, precious girl!
I'd like to take today to direct your attention to the right side of your screen (if you are viewing my blog on your phone, you're going to need to scroll down to the bottom and change to the web view). Have you noticed that Compassion box? As you can see, I share a birthday with our darling girl Shallot. She lives in Uganda, and today, she turns 9. We love her dearly and pray for her consistently. We write her letters, and she writes us back. I would encourage you to consider sponsoring a child in need. You will change his or her life for the better and fall in love in the process. We hope to be able to visit Shallot one day, but we may never get to hug her this side of Heaven. If you have questions about how this all works, I would love to talk to you more about this amazing ministry. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A Word for Wednesday

"No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true."

~from The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne~

Monday, November 14, 2016

Let's Bust a Recap : Stepping Heavenward

Be not deceived by this small-looking book. To quote Shakespeare, "though she be but little, she is fierce."

Written in 1869 by American author Elizabeth Prentiss who is probably best known for penning the words to the sweet hymn "More Love to Thee, O Christ", this book was given to me by a precious woman in my life a few months before I turned 14 years old. I know that I read this book (or at least the majority of this book) when it was given to me, and I know that I enjoyed it, but I really didn't remember too much about it which is why I was eager to stick it on a book list right away. I didn't get to it last year, but I'm glad I put it back on this year's list to read. It was....I don't even have a word for what it was! Beautiful. Inspiring. Relatable. Emotional. Companionable. All these words are true of this book, but they somehow miss the mark. Is there a word that encompasses all these and touches on something a little deeper? I don't know, but let me do my best to try to unpack this one.

To start with, I'm actually going to share what's printed on the back of my copy. As a general rule, I never read the backs of books (and thanks to this rule, I didn't even realize this book comes highly recommended by one of my favorite ladies!), but I think it's a good place to start for our recap:
"How dreadfully old I am getting! Sixteen!" writes Katherine in her brand-new journal on January 15, 1831. Her heartfelt words mark the start of your own unforgettable journey following Katherine as her life unfolds from sweet sixteen to her grown-up later years. As she learns that true happiness is found in giving oneself to others, you, too, will be immeasurably encouraged to step heavenward--to live with greater godliness, humility, tranquillity, and hope.
"This book is a treasure of both godly and womanly wisdom told with disarming candor and humility, yet revealing a deep heart's desire to know God. We need such intimate accounts, need them desperately when the word commitment is so little understood and so seldom practiced. I do not hesitate to recommend it to men, who need to better understand the wives they live with, and to any woman who wants to walk with God." 
Who wrote that glowing recommendation, you ask? None other than Elisabeth Elliot herself. And I didn't even realize it till I was probably more than halfway through this little treasure!

Stepping Heavenward is a fictional young lady's journal, and the whole book is written as such with a few excerpts from letters here and there to fill in some of the blanks. Like a true journal, there are sections where Katherine writes nearly every day, but there are also long stretches where she goes for months or even years without writing. 

What I truly loved about this book was how every word rang true. I found myself wondering if some of these pages weren't taken from my own heart's journal which was especially encouraging as I read about Katherine's constant struggle to consistently grow her faith in and love for God. It made me realize that perhaps I'm not the only one who constantly feels like I'm taking one step forward only to fall three steps back on this journey to Heaven.

Not only did I relate to Katherine on a spiritual level, I totally got her on a personal level as well. The revelations and lessons she learned from sweet 16 through marriage to a man and the emotions that go along with every single one were so on point. I cringed, laughed, fumed, rolled my eyes, and cried right along with her to the very last page. It's nice knowing we're not completely alone in this world and that our little struggles aren't really so uncommon. 

I echo Elisabeth Elliot's recommendation almost unreservedly. I do have one exception to make for women my heart is especially tender toward. If you are a woman who is longing for children and as yet God hasn't fulfilled that desire, this may not be the book for you right now. I know I personally had to put this book down at times and take my bruised heart to my loving Savior. When you're doing your best to "step heavenward" and you come across a line like, "And do people call it living who never had any children?" hurts a little. 

But the message this book ultimately conveys is that God uniquely gifts people with their own tailor-made trials and tribulations to refine each one and bring them closer to Himself. That includes the childless, the barren. So if you can handle it, I definitely think you should read it. But if this happens to be an area where you're struggling to keep your head above water, where you're doing your absolute best to not get discouraged or become bitter--hold off on this book for a while.

For the rest of you: dive in. It's a good one.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Casual Fridays

Alright, listen. We're doing another Photo-Prompted Post today because, let's be honest, it's just easy. So sit back and enjoy the ride.
First of all, I got this e-mail yesterday, and oh my gosh I'm excited which is why it is the obvious choice for our first photo today. According to Robin's blog, this book releases November 25. So what does this mean?! That I'm getting the book prior to the release date?? If you'll remember, I was a tad distressed last year when my pre-ordered Christy book didn't show up until 2 days after the release date. I don't want to get my hopes up or anything, but if my book is on its way, it might be here in time for my birthday next week! I'll update you as soon as that Tracking Number goes active. Because I know this is just as important to you as it is to me, right?
**Update: Expected delivery is November 18th. That's this coming Friday! I'm freaking out over here!**
While we're on the topic of books, let me introduce you to my new favorite book in the whole world. (Yeah, I know, take that last statement with a grain of salt, whatever. Currently, it's my favorite book ever.) I alluded to my birthday in the last paragraph and my husband has already started spoiling me. He gave me this gorgeous collection of poems, songs, and lullabies selected by Julie Andrews and her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton. It is illustrated with beautiful watercolor paintings by James McMullan, and it comes with a CD of Julie Andrews reading some of her favorite poems. I'm a bit of a poetry nut and when Cody let me open this present, I proceeded to sit, absolutely enthralled, for at least an hour flipping through the pages, reading Julie Andrews' introductions to each of the 9 sections, admiring the artwork, visiting with some old favorites, and discovering some new ones. I love it.
Speaking of Cody, he and I went to the Switchfoot/Relient K concert last Friday, and it was awesome. One of Cody's birthday presents this year was this VIP experience which included meeting Switchfoot and hanging with them during their sound check before the show. The event was at a very hipster courtyard type venue in downtown St. Pete and we stood for hours on Friday between waiting in line, the VIP stuff, and the actual show, and my legs were killing me for 3 straight days after, but it was totally worth it. The concert rocked hard.
Oh yes. Yes, I did. Pumpkin Spice Cheerios?! You know I snatched those off the shelf as soon as my eyes lighted on them. And you also know Cody does not like the pumpkin flavored things so these morsels of absolute delight have been mine all mine.
And since I mentioned my pumpkin spice obsession, I need to commemorate my first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season provided by my BFF Danette. She dropped in the other day for a sweet visit bearing my favorite hot beverage. What a pal. We have another friend date planned for this weekend. Friends are the best (especially my friends).
Before we leave the topic of pumpkins altogether, check out our most recent accomplishment in the puzzle department. This may have been our most difficult puzzle yet even though it was only (note my use of the "sarcastic font") 700 pieces instead of 1000. Who knew there were so many subtly varying shades of orange?

And now for photos of my dogs because I mean, really, what is this blog even about? Books or my dogs? I'll let you figure that one out. I don't even really have anything to say about them today but just indulge me.
Moving on, let's wrap this post up with one last photo. We have been having open-all-the-windows weather lately, and I can't get enough of it. It's been beautiful outside, and it's fall, and I've been burning all the spicy-scented candles and drinking all the apple cider and eating things like honey-soaked cornbread for breakfast. I love Florida. Life is sweet.
What are you loving about life right now?

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A Word for Wednesday

"Love, whether newly born, or aroused from a deathlike slumber, must always create a sunshine, filling the heart so full of radiance, that it overflows upon the outward world."

~from The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne~

Monday, November 7, 2016

Let's Bust a Recap : Secrets of the Blessed Man

You guys, it's getting serious over here. I am on track to meet my 20-book goal this year. 16 down, 4 to go. And I'm actually already about halfway through The Pilgrim's Progress so it's actually more like 16 down, 3 and 1/2 to go. I'm giving my book list the business

I read Secrets of the Blessed Man in 3 days starting on October 27th and finishing on October 29th. It's a simple, straightforward book, and I was not only encouraged reading it, I was also challenged. 

If you'll remember: last year I read a biography about my Grampa (written by my Dad), this year I read a book by my Grampa, Paul Norman Tassell. Secrets of the Blessed Man is an exposition of Psalm 1. There are six chapters in this book: one for each verse in Psalm 1. At the beginning of each chapter is an outline of what is covered in that chapter. I'm not sure if these were actually just a collection of sermons that he preached through, but they certainly could have been.

My Grampa's writing actually reminds me a lot of Elisabeth Elliot's writing (and you should know by now how much I appreciate her). They both present the truth from God's Word in a no-nonsense style, and because they write the truth, their writing is always relevant even years later. Secrets of the Blessed Man was written in 1966, but as I was reading, I once again came to the conclusion that there is nothing new under the sun. We're still struggling with the same things in 2016 that people were struggling with 50 years ago in 1966. We still hear the same old arguments against the Bible in the name of science. We still see people putting their hope in politicians (can I get an "Amen"?). We still feel the scorn of ungodly people when we say our faith is in God and His Word. It was encouraging to read this book and be reminded that I am Separate from this world, Stable where God's planted me in this world, and Secure in my salvation. I was also challenged reading this book and being reminded how important the Study of God's Word is for the believer, how the ungodly are like Stubble, and how the unrighteous will be brought to Shame. I'll admit that evangelizing the lost is something I struggle with, but it is the call of every believer and my Grampa was passionate about it. Along with the clear message of the Gospel, the challenge to share it with the whole world was prominent in this book.

If you didn't catch it in that last paragraph, my Grampa was the KING of alliteration. Definitely a beneficial skill for a pastor to employ because it undeniably aids in memory. This book was rich with not only alliteration, but Scripture as well. I don't think there was a single page in this book that didn't quote God's Word. My Grampa did not rely on his own wisdom or knowledge to explain Psalm 1 or to drive his point home, he went back to the Bible which needs no defense or help from us. 

I would absolutely encourage you to read this book whether you're a Christian or not, and if you are a Christian, I'd encourage you to share it with an unsaved friend or family member you've been praying for. Like I mentioned before, the Gospel and the Way to salvation is clearly presented in this book, and if reading this book doesn't prompt them to make a decision about eternity, it might at least be a good springboard for you to discuss that with them further. 

If you've been saved by God's grace, what is the most encouraging thing (outside of the Bible) that you've read? Or who is an author that challenges you in your faith? If you haven't been saved, please find someone to talk to about all of this. It's the most important thing you can do. If you don't have someone in your life that knows God personally, please feel free to e-mail me at hannah(dot)hancock87(at)gmail(dot)com. I would love to send you a Bible and start a conversation with you about Jesus and how he is the only Way, the only Truth, and the only Life. 

Be blessed.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Casual Fridays


And that's about as much as I've got for you today because that was hands down the most exciting, nail-biter of a baseball game I have ever seen in my life and I'm still pumped up over it. 


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A Word for Wednesday

"Let men tremble to win the hand of woman, unless they win along with it the utmost passion of her heart! Else it may be their miserable fortune...when some mightier touch than their own may have awakened all her sensibilities, to be reproached even for the calm content, the marble image of happiness, which they will have imposed upon her as the warm reality."

~from The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne~