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Dear Mushka,

CHRISTIAN BIOGRAPHIES: TO FEED YOUR HEART, SOUL, & MIND

CHRISTIAN BIOGRAPHIES: TO FEED YOUR HEART, SOUL, & MIND

Little has encouraged my soul and grown my faith more than the stories of Godly men and women who have gone before me. After all, we have a whole chapter in the Bible dedicated to recounting the faith of incredible people from the Bible (Hebrews 11) and the Psalms are full of directives to pass along God's wonderful deeds to the next generation. Hearing others' stories of lives lived fully, boldly, and faithfully is part of how we grow our own trust in the goodness & greatness of God! We see Him show up for them and our hearts start believing He'll do the same for us. Because He will. 

I try to read at least a handful of Christian biographies every year and thought I'd share some of my favorites (or to-reads!) here. 

CLICK ON THE PHOTOS FOR DIRECT LINKS

1. This is my current read, and I'm absolutely loving Brother Andrew's story. I can't wait to see how he gets from where he is now to where I know he ends up! 

2. Katie Davis grew up just a few miles from me with a very similar upbringing. God used her story to open my heart up towards adoption + increase the boldness in my prayers. Her second book, Daring to Hope, was just as beautiful. If you haven't read these, order now or find them at your library. 

3. Elisabeth Elliot has been a spiritual mentor in my life, and this book forms the basis for her subsequent ones. If you don't know her & her first husband's story, it will blow you away. Read on. 

4. Dare I say The Hiding Place is one of the dearest books I've ever read? If you didn't have to read it in High School, read it now! And then read all her other books because oh my heart, Corrie is just the sweetest spit fire for the Lord. In My Father's House tells about her life pre- The Hiding Place and Tramp for the Lord tells about what happened right after The Hiding Place. 

5. My brother told me to read The Heavenly Man and I'm so glad I listened. His story is incredibly different than anything we experience in the Unite States and my eyes were opened & challenged. I almost think I need to re-read this every few years as a reminder that God is so (so) much bigger than I allow Him to be in my life. 

6. Noel Piper put together this book highlighting the stories of five faithful women... and their extraordinary God ;) It's an excellent place to begin if you're just starting to read biographies (it's a pretty small book) & would be extra fun to read with a group of women. It's always fun to see which woman's story ends up speaking directly to each person's heart. 

7. Ah, George Muller. Few people have encouraged my prayer life like him. This book moves a little slower than the others, but I was so blessed by it. 

8. Oh Sister, you want to read this. It helped me understand both the Muslim faith  & the Christian faith in a deeper way and had me praising God for appearing to people in dreams. So good. 

9. Probably all of you have heard of C.S. Lewis-- this is his book that talks about how he went from being an atheist to a Christian. It's enlightening and beautifully written. 

10. Another Elisabeth Elliot book, but this time she's telling the story of Amy Carmichael. I actually haven't read this, but I'm off to order it ASAP because I've heard only the best things about it. 

11. Real talk: This has been sitting on my shelf for a year. It's a big, intimidating book! But I know it's going to be amazing when I actually dig in. Have you read it?

12. Last, Evidence Not Seen. There is something extra special about women reading the stories of women and this is a beautiful one. 

 Have a favorite? Let me hear it on Instagram! @dearmushka

 

BOOKS FOR TEEN GIRLS ON SELF-WORTH AND BEAUTY

BOOKS FOR TEEN GIRLS ON SELF-WORTH AND BEAUTY

The other day, a follower on Instagram asked if I had any book recommendations for her teenage daughter struggling with self-worth. I remember sitting in those struggles myself (oh, the angst!), but hadn't read a book on the topic in a long time.

As usual, you all came through. Here are the top ten suggested over and over again by you! 

(CLICK EACH PHOTO FOR A DIRECT LINK)

1. Enough, Kate Conner || Many of you suggested this one and I believe it also comes with a version for both adult & teen to read together, and a study guide, too. Lots of resources here!

2. Lies Young Women Believe, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth || I haven't read this book, in particular, but I'm a huge Nancy fan and know this book will be full of nothing but truth & wisdom. She also has a version for adults as well as many other online resources. 

3. Tailor Made, Alex Seeley || This was one of the top recommendations. I haven't read the book, but I read all about it + the reviews and it looks beautiful. 

4. Authentic Beauty & Set- Apart Femininity, Leslie Ludy || Both of these Leslie Ludy books were recommended countless times... it looks like she's onto something here! 

5. Captivating, John & Stasi Eldredge || Oh goodness, I remember reading this book as a young girl and feeling like it was written just for me. I still can't look at a starfish without thinking of it. I'm so glad to hear that it's still a widely-suggested book for teen girls today! 

6. In His Image & None Like Him, Jen Wilkin || None Like Him was the book God used to remove my low body image, turning my eyes off myself and onto Him, instead. In His Image is just as wonderful. I highly recommend both; they're full of Godly wisdom and truth.

7. Live Fearless, Sadie Robertson || I haven't read this book, but I adore Sadie and think she has a heart completely set on following Jesus + leading other girls to do the same. I imagine her words here would be exactly the truths so many teens long to hear. 

8. Uninvited, Lysa TerKeurst || I listed to a podcast interview with Lysa and she sounds like she has a heart of gold. I haven't read this but gosh, the subtitle sucks me right in. We've all had these feelings!

9. His Revolutionary Love, Lynn Cowell || Many of you suggested this or the 365 day devotion by the same name. 

10. Girl Defined, Kristen Clark & Bethany Baird

STYLE: THE BEST JEANS (ACCORDING TO YOU ALL)

STYLE: THE BEST JEANS (ACCORDING TO YOU ALL)

Somewhere along the way, my 2010's low-rise jeans (and early 20's body) went missing and I realized I didn't have a great pair of jeans anymore. I'd purchased random pairs here and there but really just wanted a go-to brand and style I could turn to as needed. 

Enter: Y'all

I asked, via Insta-story, for your favorites and received hundreds of replies. I also received an equal amount of "please share your list, I need a good pair of jeans, too!" And so. This list!

The top ten jeans, all mentioned multiple times and well loved by you all! 

10. Old Navy

Would it be a Favorite Jeans post without the mention of Old Navy? They've been around for a long time and put out an extra affordable pair. The last pair of ON jeans I purchased was the opposite of flattering on my body, though, so maybe it's time for me to try out another? The mid-rise and high-rise skinnies were recommended the most. 

9. Athleta

Athleta tends to be more pricey than I want to spend, but every single time I buy a piece from there (via ThredUp 99% of the time) I am so impressed by the exceptional quality. I know these jeans would be worth the price tag and would be comfortable enough to, like, bike all over the world in. 

8. Levi's

Specifically the 721s and the 311s. Levi's have been around forever and clearly know what they're doing. These come in a zillion washes, different lengths, and can be found at places like TJ Maxx pretty frequently. What's not to love? 

7. Wit and Wisdom

My sister-in-law has long raved about these jeans from Nordstrom and I was happy to see that so many of you love them, too. They have a stretchy waist band for extra comfort and look pretty dang cute. 

6. American Eagle

I bought AE jeans back in high school/ college and apparently they're still a great place to buy denim. Tons of you recommended all sorts of their pairs- jeggings, high waisted, etc so it looks like there's something for everyone. I know AE has sales pretty regularly, making these very affordable. And bonus, they come in various lengths! 

5. Able 

Specifically these in the Carla wash. They may be the most expensive on this list, but Able is a ethical company doing beautiful work and they also happen to make high-quality clothing. The downside is that these don't come in different lengths-- I'd have to get mine hemmed or rock the cuff. 

4. Universal Thread

Is it any surprise that Target has managed to come out with jeans we can love? Tons of you talked about these and so, of course, I immediately grabbed a pair to see what all the fuss was about. I haven't worn them much yet but they seem to fit well and allow plenty of movement. And less than $30. 

3. Kut from the Kloth

I'd never heard of this brand, but it sounds like a ton of you received them in your Stitch Fix box and couldn't love them more. They're in the $80-$100 range it looks like, but word on the street is that places like Nordstrom Rack & TJ Maxx often have them so check there! 

2. Madewell 

These are a little pricey (most in the $100-$135 range) but without a doubt, Madewell jeans were the most beloved jeans I heard about. Comfortable, easy to move in, and flattering. According to you all, they hem for free & will take $20 off a new pair if you bring in any old denim to an actual store. Available in petite, regular, tall. 

On my to-do list: Get thee rear into a store to try on lots of pairs and find my favorite! There's one in the Green Hills Mall if you're local :) 

1. Madewell Roadtripper

Okay, I just mentioned Madewell jeans but the Roadtrippers, in particular, deserve the no. one spot because I got an an absurd amount of messages with hearts and smily faces and lovey words over these. They're only $75 (low for Madewell) and just about the best jeans any of you have every worn, apparently. How did I not know about these?! 

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And there you have it! I have a few I want to try; I'll be sure to let you know my favorites in a few months. 

[& if you need a cozy tee to wear with your jeans, I hear this is a great place to find one!]

TEN BEST GIFTS FOR BACK TO SCHOOL

TEN BEST GIFTS FOR BACK TO SCHOOL

For those of you headed back to school or loving a sweet girl who is, consider a little something to help start the year off right! 

1. The Parallel Cuff-- for when the right path feels confusing

2. The Harvest Necklace -- for when it all feels exhausting and you may want to quit

3. The Path Necklace-- a reminder that He'll lead you exactly where you need to go

4. The Promise Pack-- for a weekly reminder in His goodness & truth [would also make a fun postcard every week to a daughter away at school!]

5. An Art Print-- for a little style & truth in a dorm room!

6. The Commissioned Keychain-- for car/room keys and for a heart's reminder to stay on mission

7. The Aim Necklace-- so your mind and soul remember where to put their real focus and effort

8. The Poise Earrings-- because these are the qualities we really want to have and share

9. The Hope Necklace -- a reminder that He has beautiful, holy plans in store

10. A Gift Card-- because sometimes it's just a really fun pick-me-up to shop a little
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KATIE: 30 ON MY 30TH

KATIE: 30 ON MY 30TH

C.S. Lewis said "Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one." And so, a few silly facts about myself so you can know that the girl behind this brand is just as flawed & ridiculous as you. I'm so glad we're friends. xx 

  1. My full name is Katie Evelyn Lewis. My parents found the name Katie in Gone with the Wind [Katie Scarlett O'Hara], and I secretly loved how common the name was because it meant I never stood out. Ha! Quiet introvert over here. But saying I was "Katie D. ...yep with a K and an ie" my whole school career got a little old, I admit. 
  2. But also, I always wished my name was Taylor. If we have a girl, she'll probably end up with a "boy" name because I still think they're the cutest. 
  3. And you should also know that I've never actually seen Gone with the Wind. Isn't it like four hours long? #nope
  4. Speaking of... I would be 100% okay without a TV. Except during the Summer Olympics because hello, gymnastics. But as it stands, we have one, and Robert and I watch a show together every evening-- right now it's The Great British Baking Show! If you haven't watched it, you must. The happiest cooking competition. And their adorable accents!
  5. I'd rather read in the evenings, and usually sneak away to do so while Robert watches a little of something else. According to Goodreads, I've read 23 books this year which is maybe a little low but alas, time is limited and motherhood. 
  6. I have lived in the same city basically my whole life. I "went away" to college-- 30 minutes down the road-- and came back after marriage because no where else seemed as wonderful and it always felt silly to move away just to move away?
  7. BUT. If I could live anywhere else in the country, I'd choose New York City. Robert would never, but the history & culture is so rich. I'm a little obsessed.
  8. If I hadn't studied Psychology in school, I would have studied graphic design and marketing. Ah, how those skills would be helpful now! But at the time, I had no clue Dear Mushka would be a thing and how the brain works is incredibly fascinating. Of course, I graduated, did the math, and realized I'd be ready to have kids by the time I finished my masters + doctorate so that was enough of that. [Side note, anyone else wish they'd had better counseling to help figure this stage of life out? I was way too young to be making life decisions!]
  9. Instead, I graduated, got married, and worked at a doctor's office until I called Robert one day and told him I'd quit, I was going to start an Etsy shop. Perhaps a different approach would have been better? Ha! But he was so supportive, and somehow I just knew it was the right next step. Clearly :)
  10. My mom was my best friend until her death in 2010. I haven't told her story on a public platform in a long time, but one day I will. Suffice it to say, mental illness is scary & I constantly praise God for healing her sweet body in Heaven. Until we meet again, my dear Mama. xx
  11. I have omphalophobia, the fear of bellybuttons. Not my own, so much, but watching other people touch theirs gives me the serious creeps and makes me want to gag. WHY? I acknowledge that it's so dumb, but I can't help it! Also, three year olds touch their belly buttons a lot FYI. 
  12. I cannot spell to save my life. I never remember which letters are doubled in words like accommodate and recommend and embarrass. You know I had to spellcheck those just now. 
  13. But pet peeve: the phrase "I could care less". It's couldn't! Could doesn't even make sense. [But don't worry, chewing with your mouth open or smacking your gum doesn't bother me one bit.]
  14. I scoffed at people who said running could be fun until I actually set out to run three miles at a time a few years ago. I couldn't even run .25 a mile without stopping at first, but now I run 3-4 miles a few times a week. And it's fun! What in the world. I just signed up for my first 1/2 marathon!
  15. My biggest regret is not speaking up in a "world religions" class I took in college. People had Christianity all wrong, seeing it as a religion of laws instead of love, and I sat back and watched them walk away with the wrong impression because I was too nervous to speak in front of 50 classmates or whatever. I think, in part, it is fuel for my fire as I store scripture deep in my mind-- I want it to be there when I need it again! 
  16. I cannot think of one living celebrity whose autograph or photo I would like to have. But you better believe I'm calling dibs on time with women like Elisabeth Elliot & Corrie ten Boom in Heaven!
  17. Okay, but I did talk to Taylor Swift for a second once here in Nashville. And Daniel Radcliffe [Harry Potter] said "Hi" to me after his Broadway play performance in NY one year. He's very little!
  18. If I'm feeling completely uninspired, I usually declutter a space in our home. So when it's time to plan a new Dear Mushka line, watch out junk drawer and closet! Something about tossing out the old and making visual space helps open up my mind? 
  19. If I had 12 hours to myself, I'd probably go for a long run. Actually dry my hair. Get lost in the Word instead of anticipating my boys' wakeup time. Walk the streets of Downtown Franklin freely, going in every store. Get a massage. Take a nap. Pray & worship aloud. Eat all of a meal without sharing with little hands ;) 
  20. Speaking of food, tacos for life. Or fajitas. Or nachos. I don't discriminate. Plus some chips & guac. And ice cream with chunks of cookie dough for dessert!
  21. My most repeated Bible verses: "You keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." [Isaiah 26:3] and "You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." [Psalm 16:11]
  22. The quote that has most helped me in my life: "We won't be distracted by comparison if we're captivated with purpose." -Bob Goff. The Lord really used those words to settle my heart into what HE had called me to do and I was immediately able to set aside extra pressures from the world.
  23. My favorite season is, without a doubt, Summer. I love how nonchalant it is, with its lazy mornings and easy meals and firefly catching evenings. I love everything about it. Except the mosquitos, I suppose. It's good for my control-loving heart. 
  24. My favorite piece of clothing is an old denim button down shirt from Old Navy. It's not fancy and actually, the sleeves are too short. But it's just the right weight and color, and every time I try on a replacement something just isn't right.
  25. Second place: My Birkenstocks. I've had them a few years now and will buy the exact same pair when they bite the dust. So comfortable and not tooo ugly, I say. 
  26. This book on the Enneagram is my go-to marriage gift because it was so incredibly helpful for me and Robert. Nine over here! 
  27. Lord willing, I have 5-6 more decades of life to live; I'm dedicating my 30s to the discipleship of women God has placed in my life. This Fall, I'm leading my first group and can't wait to teach on prayer, how to read the bible, etc. Gosh, sometimes I'm in awe that God uses us to point others to Him. 
  28. One time in a rain storm, my car spun across four lanes of traffic on the interstate, straight to the median on the other side. Miraculously [truly] I didn't get hit and was able to just merge back onto the road. And then I saw a car burst into flames while it was in motion! So anyway, I don't love driving and will never offer to drive for someone else. But I'll pay for your gas and buy you car candies! 
  29. I cannot whistle. I cannot do the splits [please, as if]. I cannot dance. I cannot sing. I cannot raise one eyebrow. I cannot tie a cherry stem with my tongue. How do people do all of these things?! 
  30.  Whoops, I made it to the end without mentioning our kids. We have two boys, 3 & 1, both adopted. And the truth is, motherhood is exhausting right now. I have no earthly idea how to parent siblings who bicker and take toys and hit! But of course, in our weakness He is strong & I feel closer than ever to the Lord as I [constantly] call on Him for wisdom. One day at a time, yes? I remember fighting with my siblings, we made it out alright. Ish. 

And now you. What are we twinsies on? xx

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