Monday, November 24, 2014

Christmas Books for Kids- A Mommy List Post

I am so excited to be joining my dear friend Kayse in a new link up on Mondays called The Mommy List. Kayse and I both love lists and so since we did, she figured that a lot of you did too. So she is starting a link up where Moms can make lists of our favorite things or advise based on weekly topics. This week we are going to introduce you to our favorite Kid's Christmas Books.


I love Christmas! The reason behind the season, the decorations, the lights, and the books. So we have a whole lot of books around the house for our kids. A couple of my favorites have been my favorites since I was a child and I still enjoy reading them with my boys. So without further ado here goes.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

I am really excited to be pulling these back out next weekend and start reading them again this year. We are also adding a few more books to our library this year but I will share more on that later.

What are your favorite children's Christmas books?


The Mommy List from KaysePratt.com

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

When Community is Your God Sized Dream

Two years ago I opened an email with an application in it. The application was to join Holley Gerth's
God Sized Dream team. I don't even remember what I wrote at that point. I'm sure it was some lofty
dream about writing a book or having a huge blog with millions of followers. (I was a little niave back
then.) But what I do know is that my God sized dream is not anything like what I would have thought
back then (because you know, two years ago is such a long time).

I realize now that I wasn't looking for fame or big paychecks from a book or a blog- I was searching for community. When I opened the email a few weeks later telling me that Holley had seen something in my application that made her want me on that book launch team, I could never have imagined where it would have taken me. I don't even blog that often anymore. Instead I sit and bask in the friendships and the family that were given to me through a God sized dream that wasn't really even for me. I know, how could it have been a God sized dream if it really wasn't for you?

Want to read more? I am guest posting over at God Sized Dreams today. Head over and check it out.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Love is a Choice

I recently read "A Lifelong Love: What if Marriage is About More Than Just Staying Together?" by Gary Thomas.  I enjoyed the book and will never be able to give it to someone else because of how many highlighted areas there are and how many notes are in the margins. I would definitely not get this book thinking that you are in for a little light reading and without expecting to come away from it with some new perspective on your marriage, yes but also other relationships.

"Most of us look at how to make our marriages more pleasant and more fulfilling right now. Scripture urges us to set our sights much higher- how we live our marriages here can affect us in eternity for eternity." (p54)

This particular quote definitely hit home for me. It was one of those that just jumped off the page and screamed for attention. For me,  "how we live our marriages can affect us in eternity for eternity" was eye-opening. Lately, choices have really been standing out to me. The choices that we make as a family, as a couple, and even as individuals are becoming more important and I find myself weighing not just the choice but what are the long term effects that come from that choice. I know that love is a choice- I have written about that before, but I never really thought about the long term when it came to love. 

The love that we chose to show each other is going to trickle down into how our children show love to others and that will go to their children and so on and so on. So in the process of reading this book and also getting away with my girlfriends for a few days, I realized a couple of things that hit me hard. I am someone who will talk about John with no thought to how what I say sounds to others. I am a venter. I have to stop that. Scripture clearly is against talking about others negatively and it plain out is not showing others how much I love this man of mine. I need to change my tone and keep my venting to myself. If the person who has made a choice to spend their life with you can't talk about you in a positive light there is something wrong. I also realize that while I often talk about choices and how important they are- I don't really treat them as important when it comes to the choices that I am making in my life. How am I really teaching my children that choices make the difference if I am not treating them in such a way myself? 

We made a choice to get married way back when. 
And we make a choice everyday to stay together and honor those vows that we took.
I think that maybe (well not maybe because more like I should) I need to start realizing that my choices in how I treat my marriage are a reflection on how I treat my faith and start making some changes. Be more positive and more of a reflection of God's love to my husband and to others. 

I received "A Lifelong Love" from Flyby Productions in exchange for my unbiased review. In addition to my copy (that you can't have because I plan to reference back to it a lot), they also have a copy for one of you. All you have to do is leave a blog comment, like Hentown Mama on Facebook, or sign up for the monthly (or quarterly) newsletter. A winner will be selected on Saturday, November 1, 2014. 


"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Monday, October 27, 2014

Thoughts from Allume 2014

Allume 2014 was amazing and much needed. I took away more than I thought I would but I also feel like there were some issues that need to be talked about more.

Last year I went to Allume expecting to learn more about blogging and do some networking. Instead I came away broken and raw in a good way with messages from God to go and to speak. In a way, I listened. And then in a way, I made it into some lofty dream in my head. So this year, I went with an open heart and mind, ready to be broken and raw again. I went with the plan of talking to everyone and being an extrovert when it scared the socks off this introvert (seriously- I am an ISTJ).

What happened was not what I expected at all.

I drove BY MYSELF (huge deal) to Greenville, SC for 5 and a half hours through DOWNTOWN ATLANTA y'all! I should mention I told Siri that I wanted a route that avoided downtown Atlanta and she took me straight through it. The trip was perfect. All it took was me being brave and just doing it. It only took 14 years for it to happen. ( If you have never been to Greenville, SC go! It is beautiful and friendly. They embody hospitality.)

I checked into the hotel and met up with new friends and old and poured into my soul with my sisters, my tribe. I went to dinner with someone who I have waited 2 years to meet and it was everything I imagined it would be. The next day I set out to be an extrovert- insert inward cringing and middle school fear. I talked to people. I re-connected with others. I made sure I talked to vendors and learned about the businesses and to talk to women who last year scared me because they were big bloggers. Seriously, one of the first people I hugged was Sarah Mae. (Right after I finished crying from attending Beta induction via Face Time and the screen going out right when Pacey was pinned). She knew something was up and she hugged me and encouraged me and it really means the world to me that she took that time. She is still one of my favorites let me just tell you that.


I poured prayers into journals for the ones who God gave me to words to write and spoke to the ones who God gave me the words to speak to. I realized that when God clearly told me I was supposed to speak at Allume 2014 that he didn't mean on a stage. He meant in the lobby, to the staff, to the newbie blogger who looked scared, to the vendors, and to my friends. I put every ounce of my introverted self into a pouch for the weekend. I did what he said to do. I spoke at Allume 2014.

I heard the message of hospitality and took it to my heart and realized that it doesn't mean that I have to bring 500 people into my home to practice hospitality- I can take it to the people. I can create warmth and welcoming within myself, at work, at church, and yes, at home. I can create warmth and welcoming here in this space.


I also heard a message that worried me. A message that diversity is skin color. And I was made to feel guilty for being a youngish, white woman in this country. And then I realized- God made me to be who he wanted me to be. I am not going to let anyone make me feel guilty for it or lessen the worth that he has given me. Diversity is not skin color alone. Diversity is our hearts, our backgrounds, our experiences, our beliefs, and the unique gifts given to us by a father who loves us for who we are. It worries me that women believe that there has to be different skin tones for a conference to be diverse. And it worried me how many women I heard say they felt guilty for being white. Because I live right outside Albany, GA. A big location in the civil rights movement. And I am here to tell you- color doesn't matter. People matter and what they do matters. And we tend to drift to like people- people who like the same things we do, believe like we do, and people who have similar experiences. They can mean that they have the same skin color and that can mean that they don't. It doesn't mean that you are hateful towards someone else. And putting a token person of color on a speaker panel that is prayerfully chosen does not make it right. It makes it a token and it makes it obvious. And y'all- God don't like ugly- and forcing someone to pick you using the color card is UGLY.

I decided then and there that I was done with that. I will teach my children diversity in the true form- persons of different cultures, sinners and believers, and yes, even people of different skin tones. And I will not be made to feel guilty for being who God made me.

I also realized that as much as I love Sole Hope- an overseas mission trip is not for me. We have missions here at home that need our attention. So I am shifting my focus to them for a family trip. I met some amazing women who unknowingly spoke straight to my heart at the booths this weekend. One was selling SHOES!!!! Awesome, beautiful shoes made by former gang members in a country that guarantees that would not work otherwise. I met a woman who hosts orphans in her home for short periods of time to show them love that they otherwise don't experience. I met a woman who makes sparrow jewelry to remind these orphans that they are loved. I spoke with another woman who realized over the last year that it was time to take her experience somewhere else and help another empowering company grow. I realized that these women are providing a mission field right here at home.

I walked away realizing that I am ready to write again after taking a break when there were no words to write. I am ready to re-envision a dream that for a while made me feel tired. I am ready to make some choices that I otherwise would not. And to talk about some choices that we can make as a family that I would never have thought of before.

Allume has blessed me and given me direction both times I have attended. And for that I thank Logan and Sarah Mae for following God's direction. And I pray they never waver from where God wants it to go. Logan- you are an amazing woman and leader and follower of Jesus and God. You offer diversity throughout the entire speaker panel and never let someone make you feel like you don't. Never give in to the pressure. Continue to prayerfully chose speakers and listen to who God wants to put up there.

** This post is being written on a day when I unexpectedly ended up at home because someone put a bomb threat on a website about our schools. As a blessing in disguise I was able to process Allume a little more and spend time with my boys who had not seen since last week. I will never understand why people feel this is cool and I also lost a little confidence in our school because they acted like it was no big deal when they were informed. I went and got my children out of school as soon as I found out. I am not sure I trust that they will not treat it like a joke every time when it could be the real deal.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Worship

So this will be a little (or a lot) controversial.

As a member of the Church of Christ, I have been taught that worshipping God with instrumental music and hands raised is wrong. And yet I don't feel that way. While I don't agree with it in a church service, I don't see anything wrong with it at a gathering or in my car or home. Because y'all, have you heard some of the "modern" worship songs. They are wonderful and inspiring and truly touch your heart. And yet we continue to say that they are wrong and written to make money and get worldly recognition. I imagine that the same was said when hymns were written as well. They are songs that inspire and songs that uplift and songs that give glory to God. And when you are in a room where people are singing along and their hands are in the air and they are truly worshipping from their hearts- it is good. It is worship. And they are making a joyful noise and giving glory to God. And I just can't believe that when hearts are worshipping like that there is anything wrong with it. And I question why we keep telling our children it is wrong to sing a hymn with instrumental music and why we discourage them to listening to "modern" christian music but have no problem with them listening to modern rock, country, or pop. Would I rather my children sing about God and Jesus or about sex,money, and drinking? I would rather have them singing and worshipping with their hearts regardless of an instrument or not. So I have to wonder why we are so dead set against it at anytime and yet not dead set against "regular" radio stations in our cars and in our homes. What are we really teaching them at that point?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Mommy guilt, new adventures, and Allume

I am so excited to be at Allume again this year but it came with a lot of mommy guilt. See today is Beta induction- but I won't be there. Instead I am in South Carolina. I almost canceled my whole trip over this. Then I thought about it, John will be there, he can Face time me so I will see the whole thing, and I need to be here do me. So lingering guilt will be my companion this trip.

For the first time in 14 years, I drove by myself for more than 2 hours. Completely solo for almost 6 hours. Through downtown Atlanta. I should point out my fear of merging, overpasses, and more than 4 lanes of traffic so you understand how big that is.

So now I am here at Allume. Open and ready to be raw and broken by Sunday. And that is a good thing. So here is to the next 4 days, meeting online friends in real life, and getting closer to God.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Duck Dynasty does Fiction

A series by John Luke and a Christmas book by Mrs. Kay- Duck Dynasty fiction is invading my house!!!!!



First up is a series co-authored by John Luke Robertson, "Willie's Redneck Time Machine". In this book you are Willie. So you get to call the shots. You get to enter a time machine and have a different adventure every time you read this book if you want! 

I have to say that while this really is a good book for my 4th grader- it was not so much the book for me. But that had nothing to do with the story or the writing. I am not the person who likes to flip around in a book to read a story. I want to start on page one and read straight through. My 4th grader on the other hand loved that part of the book. He liked being in control of the story and flipping all through the book.

This book is also part of a series. The titles in the series are: Willie's Redneck Time Machine, Phil & the Ghost of Camp Ch-Yo-Ca, Sin in Space, Jase & the Deadliest Hunt. 

These books will make great Christmas presents for the boys in your life!



Hunter is from Chicago and has never even heard of the Robertsons. His mother enters him in a contest and by luck of the draw, Hunter gets to spend Christmas with the entire Robertson clan. Surrounded by the Robertsons, Hunter learns about life and faith through an unlikely adventure he didn't even want to go on. 

I have thoroughly enjoyed this book. I am a fan of the show and have enjoyed other books written by members of the Robertson family. I know that this book is a work of fiction but the essence of the family comes through loud and clear. Definitely a 5 star read. 

I want to give away a copy of each of these books to a lucky reader. All you have to do is leave a comment in the comment section between now and Monday, October 20. I will then randomly chose a lucky winner. 

** I received a copy of each of these books for review and for a giveaway. All opinions are my own.**