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The Ultimate Reading List of 2020

Back from a super long blogging break - hey there, 2020! So much to say, but let's just get to the point of the post - ALL THE BOOKS.

Thanks to a pandemic, I found a great escape from the current state of the world and dove into some fantastic books. 

Here is the ULTIMATE reading list of 2020. 

Disclaimer: I read mostly light-hearted romance and coming of age stories sprinkled in with some thrillers and mysteries. Just to give you an idea of what this list entails.

CLICK HERE to see what I read in 2020 (I beat my 60 book goal by ONE book!)

My 5-STAR recommendations are:

Love and Other Words

The Girl He Used to Know

The Simple Wild

Happy Ever After Playlist

Beach Read

Oona Out of Order

Idea of You

Ugly Love

Hating Game

Where the Forest Meets the Stars

This is Not How It Ends

Swear on This Life

Before We Were Strangers


How to Fail at Flirting

Not What I Expected.

When you click on my reading list from Goodreads, you can then click on the books I mentioned to get more info. 

Now to make my reading goals for 2021 - how high should I go? :)

Happy reading!


Just Be Held - A New Year's Resolution

Four years ago, I was driving through Chick Fil A for some comfort food and kindness, when a song came on the radio. "Just Be Held" by Casting Crowns. Soon after getting my meal, I began driving to my hometown. Crying between each waffle fry and listening to the words.

So when you're on your knees and answers seem so far away
You're not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world's not falling apart, it's falling into place
I'm on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

At first, I felt them as a cry - why couldn't he feel held? When his world started falling apart, couldn't he feel it falling into place as well? That maybe change and heartache would, in the end, teach him more than hurt him. The more I listened, I felt the words for me. My family. His friends. Or just ANYONE who felt alone or hurt. "You're not alone, start holding on, and just be held."

I put the song on repeat on my drive. You see, I wasn't heading home to visit family, I was going home to say goodbye. I was on my way to my brother's memorial service, and this song came booming in at a time where I felt every single note. Every single word.

Lift your hands, lift your eyes
In the storm is where you'll find Me
And where you are, I'll hold your heart
I'll hold your heart
Come to Me, find your rest
In the arms of the God who won't let go

We are at the beginning of a new decade, and I am thinking of him because we lost him four years ago this month. His story, my story, the stories of my friends who hurt, who are anxious, who seek the good with every physical step they take. I can talk of mental health and the need to make the care better. I can talk about it because saying words out loud take the weight off for a bit.

And when your mental health is at stake, you will do anything to eliminate that heaviness. As the song says, "hold it all together, everybody needs you strong." That belief, that feeling, that you are failing because you should be the strong one always, is a myth we can't hold onto - as a mom, as a wife, as a friend, as a human being. 

So when you're on your knees and answers seem so far away
You're not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world's not falling apart, it's falling into place
I'm on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
(Stop holding on and just be held)
Just be held, just be held
Just be held, just be held

In the wake of recent news, these words have meaning yet again. I can't do more than pray they all feel held. That, you, in trying to make sense of this news - or YOUR news - feel held, too. 

In the arms of a God who won't let go. 


Nine Must-Read Books for Summer Vacation 2019

Long time, no blog! I can't let summer start without sharing this year's must-read books. Grab your floaties, that beach towel, and load up the summer tote - it's time to share what I am reading this summer.

Disclaimer - Amazon Affiliate links used in this post. Thank you for supporting Always A New Day!
There's something about summer that brings out the reader in me. While chilling in the backyard, heading on trips, or staying up late - I really crave a good book. These nine books all come HIGHLY recommended. If you want to join me, pin this post and let's book talk!

The Wedding Date

This book is cute, quick read. Perfect for your summer beach trip. Warning: it is a bit explicit, but it is a good "chick flick" type of book.


Colleen Hoover cannot do any wrong. I have loved all of her books, and this time, she goes with a mystery. This book is a page-turner and definitely would be fun for a book club discussion.

The Unhoneymooners

I am still waiting for this one at my local library. It has come highly recommended as a quick read this summer.

The Proposal

I cannot wait to pick this book up - it's a sequel to The Wedding Date (see above). I loved this love story, so I am excited to see where it goes next.

Mrs. Everything

Another favorite author - if you read In Her Shoes and loved it like I did, I bet this book will be a good one, too.

Daisy Jones and the Six

Oh, Daisy Jones and her band. This book is told as an interview of a fictitious rock band and their time together. Remember those Behind the Music documentaries? This book works just like one of those. I was hooked.

Where the Crawdads Sing

This book is definitely the deep-feeling one of the bunch. I couldn't wait for the other 600 people on the hold list to finish, so I caved and bought my own. The beautiful writing and strong development of characters made this one of my most favorites of all time.

Behind Closed Doors

Another mystery my college roomie suggested - I have this on hold, too!

All Your Perfects

Colleen Hoover makes this list again! I am opening this one tonight before it's due next week.

While I included the links to the nine books, don't forget to check your local library. The hold system at ours makes it so easy to grab your book and go. Or, take the kids with you and settle in for some quiet reading time.

Let me know if you have read any of the books on this year's list. And definitely let me know if you have some recommendations to add. Join the discussion over on my Instagram post!

If you need more ideas, see my lists from previous years:

The Best Books to Read this Summer
What's On My Summer Reading List
My Summer Reading List

Happy reading, friends!


A Letter to My Dad in Heaven

To my daddy,

This week marks 17 years without you. I just had to do the math in my head because that doesn't seem right. It seems that I just saw you, but in truth, I see you daily in the mental pictures that flash in my mind. The memories are sweet, but they sometimes do not ease the pain and frustration of you not being physically present.

After some time, it has been a bit easier to think of memories instead of the the gaping hole that was left in our lives when we found out you were gone. That hole is the same size it was when it opened in 2002, but the pain that seeps out is remedied with the thought of my life. The life you worked SO hard to make happen.

In fact, that's what I always want to shout from the rooftops - especially to the family and friends who never met you. That you worked so hard for each of us. I saw it everyday when you would come in from work and place your brief case in the corner of the kitchen. I would meet you there to help open it and see the amazing things you did everyday at work.

But, what was truly amazing is that you LOVED life. Nature. Books. Adventure. Imagination. I miss that part of you and often tell my kids that their Pop never stopped dreaming. A HUGE part of grieving a parent when you ARE a parent is wanting your children to know your Dad.  But, you see your Dad in them every minute. From the grandson who always wants to be outside to the granddaughter who seeks adventure every minute of every day.

They are my grief sponges. They soak up the hurt and longing while showing me glimpses of you.

Today, the adventurous one had a Muffins with Mom event where we were able to attend their daily chapel time. The teacher spoke of the joy you will have - the overwhelming tears of joy - when you meet Jesus. I can say in 17 years, I have never imagined your moment. I see you in Heaven, fishing, singing Jimmy Buffet, and watching over us, but I have never thought of what it was like when Jesus was first in your presence.

What a beautiful thought to have this week. I didn't feel pain or grief; I felt happy and maybe a breath of relief. You meeting Jesus is reunion I can only imagine was filled with those tears, the requests to keep us all safe, and the directions to the nearest fishing holes.

I miss you. We all do. Seventeen years does not seem possible. The turmoil of those long nine days or the years that followed do pop up often, but so does the life you gave us, the lessons you taught us, and the beautiful children you chose FOR us.

Today when I heard those words in chapel - that was you, too. Most likely a small nudge to savor the life we have even though you're not in it. The reminder to go on adventures. That advice you loved to give about frugality and picking your battles. To play that good ol' country music with the windows down.

All of these things brought me to write this letter to you. Rejoicing in your constant reunions with Jesus. Being thankful for the family you helped create. And forever missing the man on this day and everyday for the last 17 years.

I love you, 339 -

To read more about my amazing dad, please click the following posts:

When the Anniversary Approaches - Missing My Dad

Book of Hope

Remembering Our Dads - A Father's Day Tribute

The Day My Father Went Missing - previously published on Her View From Home


Self-Care For Beginners: My First Experience With Laser Hair Removal

I'm back partnering with New Life Wellness and Medical Spa and their amazing staff. I've had a few things done I never thought I'd do because 1. anxiety and 2. I don't know what the heck I'm doing. We are inundated with aging and all the ways to prevent it; we are told this skincare works better than that one. When we are busy moms from the get-go, taking care of ourselves seems to be just ONE more thing to add to the list.

But...this spa, y'all. I'm in the best hands for taking care of myself and my skin. If you are thinking of laser hair removal (or any of the other things I've done with the spa), find the right place with the right guidance. Houston friends, head over to Tomball and the best spa in town!

Disclaimer: I am sharing this information based on my own experience and by consulting with the spa staff. Please consult with a medical professional and ask them your questions before committing to any kind of spa treatment. Please educate yourself and have a consultation before treatment.

My first experience with laser hair removal (which has come HIGHLY recommended from numerous friends) was for my underarms. I just love Lesli at the spa! She took her time to answer my many questions and put me at ease. Here are a few things you need to know about laser hair removal before you go:

It takes approximately 6 treatments to get 75% to 85% reduction.

It works best for dark hair and lighter skin.

Surprising to me, you should shave before you go! Shaving allows all the energy to go to the root for best results. 

No sun exposure four weeks prior and one week after.

Make sure you are not on antibiotics for two weeks prior to the laser treatment. 

Wait 24-48 hours before increasing body temperature. 

Before any procedure like laser hair removal, ask any and all questions. Find someone you feel comfortable with because that's most important.

I'm so happy I found this comfortable place for my self-care. With anxiety and worry, peace of mind is key when someone is taking care of you. Local friends, try New Life Wellness and Medical Spa and let me know what you think. Some of my friends have gone based on my recommendation and are loving their experiences.

No matter what, in this busy season, don't forget to take some time for yourself. It's so cliche and so very hard, but I promise it's that time that gives you the momentum to be all things for your family. And laser hair removal just makes life a bit easier - I'll take one bit of easy any of those busy days.


To see my previous posts with New Life Wellness and Medical Spa and the importance of self-care, click on the links below:

My First Trip to a Med Spa

5 Simple Tips for Taking Care of Your Skin


Faster Way to Fast Loss - A Review and My Six-Weeks Results

Get ready...I am about to blast my feelings about The FASTer Way to Fat Loss. Before I do, let's review my previous eating plan, shall we?

Wake up/Coffee/Workout

Post-workout meal - healthy choices

Afternoon snack - chips. A few more chips. Maybe the whole bag.

Dinner - Screw it, I already jacked up the day. Let's go out to eat.


I have been looking for a practical, reasonable, carb-friendly plan that fits with my favorite eats, my busy schedule, and won't required separate meals for the family.

Enter my sweet, sweet FWTFL coach, Jo-Anne, and boom - GAME CHANGED. I CANNOT praise this program enough, y'all. For this mom who has zero willpower and loves all things queso, I DID IT.

My favorite parts?

The Prep Week

While it can seem tedious to track your food (just one more thing to add to our to-do list, right?) - tracking your eats helps you so much. You learn the process, how to utilize My Fitness Pal, and get tips on what each day will hold.

My Fitness Pal 

Once you get the hang of the app and your days, it's SO easy to plan and keep up with your macros (your daily intake of carbs, protein, and fat). When you are invited to your group's Facebook page, you now have access to documents that guide those macros. It becomes habit and not one bit tedious.


You get to eat them. Of course, you monitor how much, but you get to have them. Want some bread? Go for it. Want some wine? Get it, girl. Rice? Pasta? YOU CAN HAVE THAT.

The Group

I love my coach and the ladies in our group. Talk about support, patience with all the questions, and daily encouragement. You are NOT alone in these 6 weeks. Not one little bit.

The Health

I have lost weight and inches, but I have lost bloat, indigestion, heaviness, anxiety, and all that comes with not knowing what my body can handle. I FEEL GOOD which translates into FEELING GOOD mentally, too. My confidence alone is reason enough to do FWTFL.

The Results

Here is my breakdown from January 7, 2019 to February 13, 2009:

Waist: 35 inches to 31 inches

Upper Waist: 33 inches to 29.5 inches

Lower Waist: 36.5 inches to 33.5 inches

Hips: 38 inches to 36.5 inches

Thigh: 20 inches to 18.5 inches

Arm: 9.75 inches to 9.5 inches

Total inches lost - 13.75 inches!

Weight loss - -8 lbs.


The next round starts NOW. I'd love to help you understand the journey a little more or answer questions you may have. I am about to start another round, and I am excited to see more results.

I didn't eliminate anything during this program so continuing on in "real time" won't be hard. You learn so much about yourself - physically, mentally, and nutritionally - that this investment is beyond worth it!


A Mother's Reminder - You Are Loved

As I drove to the appointment, I felt my hands getting sweaty and my heart start to race. I switched to the radio station that gives me peace - I always have it on when going to these check-ups. My stomach feels queasy as it does every six months as I make this drive.

Suddenly - maybe it's the song or the message from the DJ - but, I hear, "you are loved." The sweaty palms don't dry, but the words play on repeat.
When the doctor comes in and once again senses my panic, I hear - "you are loved."

When she checks for any suspicious spots, and I am sure she can hear my heart racing, I hear - "you are loved."

When she stops at one, says she doesn't like the way it looks, my heart drops, I hear - "you are loved."

When she assures me she's just being safe given my medical history, I hear - "you are loved."

When she shakes my hand and tells me not to worry, I hear - "you are loved."

As I drive home in tears not wanting to go through it all again, I still hear the words. Even though I wanted this check-up to end with a clean bill of health. Even though the two-week period of waiting for results will wear on my brain. Even though flashbacks of before are going through my anxious mind, I still heard - "you are loved."

I await the news of something so simple yet so big to me. I think of what it could be and what we'd have to do next. I just keep repeating the words I heard so loudly that day - the day the panic originally set in. This weekend, I learned that the results are in and read them as I heard the words louder than ever - "you are loved."


I am thankful that I am okay, but I am more thankful that it was that day where the radio station put the words on repeat. I do have scars on my back, my hand, my stomach - all from that medical history that spun me into fear. But, through that fear, I am leaning on love. Through life hardships, I am repeating the words. 

When your relationships falter, and you feel lonely - you are loved.

When motherhood wears you down - you are loved.

When you are at a crossroads with a career or broken dreams - you are loved.

When fear is way greater than your faith - you are loved.


My next appointment again is six months away, and I know that the same feelings will come up as I make that drive. I will still have the sweaty hands and racing heart, but I know seven years after having skin cancer, I am loved.

I am loved. You are loved. 

For more on my skin cancer journey, read this post originally shared on Her View From Home. 

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