Monday, September 30, 2013

Balancing Act: Balancing the Kids

Last week we talked about how you are enough. This week let's talk about balancing the kids. There are so many areas where this needs to be discussed. I am going to try and limit it to a few today.

Balancing Work and Children:
This topic never seems to get any easier. I have been on both sides of this as a working mom and now as a stay-at-home mom. There is just never enough time in the day. My advice is make all the time that you are awake with your kids count. I don't care if you are just sitting at a table eating breakfast with them, riding in the car with them too and from school/daycare, or watching T.V. with them at night.
- Be attentive and listen to what they did today or what they hope to accomplish for the day either at meal times or in the car. I realize that for the ones with younger kids that this will not be a "normal" conversation. My 3 year old keeps telling us all about his blue, yellow, and green work and how he gets candy and ice cream there- but he stays at home with me all day and I know all about his day. But my 13 year old is less talkative and since he is gone all day I try to engage him in more than his typical "school was fine" answer, even if that means that all I hear about is what the snake was doing in Science class today.
- Put work up in the afternoons until they go to bed or better still LEAVE IT AT WORK if at all possible. I know that sometimes you have to bring it home. Grading papers for teachers, internet research, paperwork, meeting preps, etc.- I know, believe me, I know. But try and wait until they have gone to bed to pull it all out or at least figure out a way that they can sit at the table with you and "work" too.
-I know you're tired. There were days when I was working that I was so drained by the time I got home that the last thing I wanted to do was sit in the floor and read outloud for hours or play with a bunch of action figures. And there are days that I didn't and now that my kids are getting older I regret not doing it. They are only little once. And since they are with someone else all day, this is the time that you get- enjoy it!

Balancing Technology and the Kids:
I am going more in depth on this one later this week. But the main thing is: PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE, LAPTOP, I-PAD. Give your kids your undivided attention. I know it is hard with these smart phones because you can check Facebook, browse the internet, look something up on Pinterest, and play whatever is currently the popular game (I think right now it's Candy Crush. At my house it is still Angry Birds- because you haven't beat it until you have 3 stars on every level.) It is very hard. I am guilty of this. I have kids that point out that there are somedays I seem to be on my phone or laptop more than with them. And that would be true. As a stay-at-home mom, there are days that I use it as an escape. I am working on it.

Balancing School and the Kids:
My children went to public school up until Fall of 2012 and the oldest one continues to go. And I am in awe at all the extra work that these schools are coming up with now for PARENTS. Costumes, projects, and my 7th grader brought home a paper last week that was a whole sheet of math stuff for the PARENTS to complete. I was in shock. And don't get me started on this homework that he is bringing home that I don't even remember ever learning the topic- EVER not even in college. But you are your child's first teacher. You need to keep being their teacher even after they go to school.
- Get to know the teacher at school, have an open relationship with them, know what is going on at the school. I can't count on my 13 year old telling me anything. But I talk to his teachers and other parents so I have a pretty good idea.
- Participate, participate, participate. Be as involved as you can. Go to PTO meetings, volunteer in the classroom if you can, and go on field trips. Let your children know how much you care about their education.
-Check homework. Even if you don't understand it. Make sure that they are doing it. Send a note and ask for resources to help you understand it.

Balancing Kid versus Kid:
I was an only child. I got 100% of my mom's attention when she was home from work. It. drove. me. crazy! Now looking back I see how much easier it was with one kid. I have 4. You may have 2, you may have 10. And all of those children want one on one attention. Give it to them. It only has to be 5-10 mins a day that they have you, by yourself, undivided talking to them. And it will make them feel important in a home where they may feel lost in the shuffle. It happens. The best part to me about home school is that my two middle boys both end up having one on one attention a lot through the day. My 3 year old pretty much demands a lot of attention and after school is over he knows he can climb in my lap, ask me to play cars, or just be held. That is his time. Set boundaries on one on one time or more like guidelines to the other kids about when they can interrupt, etc. Be deliberate in your attention. Saying all that- it works when you have older children. If you have more than one child under the age of 4 it doesn't work very well at all. But start young. Continue to be deliberate in scheduling time alone for each child. For us sometimes it means that we get a sitter for 2 of our kids when we go grocery shopping and then split the kids up in the store where we each have one child and they have one of us all to their selves. Do what you have to do.

Balancing Kids and the Hubby:
Again be deliberate. Make time for your hubby. It doesn't necessarily have to be a date night. My favorite thing is when I am cooking (or let's face it John is cooking on a night off) and John sits in the kitchen and talks to me. Sit next to him on the couch and watch a show together. Put down the phones and have a conversation. Hold hands. Little things matter. Just make sure that you are still spending time with him and putting effort into your marriage. One day the kids will be gone and you don't want to have a complete stranger on your hands.


Wow. That is a lot. And I know that there are so many more.

The main thing with balancing the kids is to be deliberate and be undivided in your time with them. I realize that is easier said than done. It is a choice that you have to make. And sometimes you have to bring work home or have a late meeting. It's okay. Just don't make it a habit to put it before your kids. And remember that you have resources. Ask for help when you need it. Love your kids so that they know you love them. Embarrass them, it's okay. Pray for them all the time. Teach them to love God and Jesus. Remember, GOD HANDPICKED YOU TO BE THEIR MOM! YOU ARE THE MOM THAT YOUR KIDS NEED. YOU ARE ENOUGH. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

What I Read July, August, and September

So I realized at some point in July that I had set a goal on Goodreads for 150 books read this year. Now Goodreads keeps track of all the new books you read but not books that you have read over again so I know I have exceeded that goal. And I managed to actually wait and do a quarterly post instead of every month. Partly out of laziness I will admit. So here we go.

July-
1. "Bed of Roses"- Nora Roberts*
2. Parents Playbook for Learning- Jill Lilienstein
3. Finding Bliss- Dina Silver
4. Will in Scarlett- Matthew Cody
5. The Tudor Conspiracy- C.W. Gortner
6. Divergent- Veronica Roth
7. Insurgent- Veronica Roth
8. Clockwork Angel- Cassandra Clare
9. Vision in White- Nora Roberts*
10. Happily Ever After- Nora Roberts*
11. King of Little Things- Bill Lepp and Daniel T. Wenzel
12. The Bramble-Lee Nordling and Bruce Zick
13. Fifteen Minutes- Karen Kingsbury
14. Hot Shot- Julie Garwood
15. Shadow Hunters and Downworlders- Cassandra Clare
16. Clockwork Prince- Cassandra Clare
17. Clockwork Princess- Cassandra Clare
18. Even Now- Karen Kingsbury
19. Ever After- Karen Kingsbury
20. Matched- Allie Condie
21. Mercy- Julie Garwood*
22. Ideal Man- Julie Garwood*
23. Sweet Talk- Julie Garwood*
24. Heartbreaker- Julie Garwood*
25. The 21 Toughest Questions Your Kids Will Ask About Christianity and How To Answer Them Confidently- Alex McFarland
26. Making the "Terrible" Twos Terrific- John Rosemond
27. A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet- Sophie Hudson
28. Forbidden Heart- V.C. Andrews

August-
1. Rules for Murder- Julianna Deering
2. Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things- Cynthia Voight
3. Speak Love- Annie Downs
4. Critical Pursuit- Janice Cantore
5. Angel Sister- Ann Gabhart
6. Cassie and Caleb Discover God's Wonderful Design- Susan and Richard Hunt
7. A Heart Deceived- Michelle Griep
8. The Redemption of Callie and Kayden
9. The Fault in Our Stars-John Green
10. Unenchanted- Chanda Hahn
11. A Perfect Pet for Peyton-Gary Chapman
12. Fairest- Chanda Hahn
13. Belong to Me- Marisa de los Santos
14. Fable- Chanda Hahn
15. Sky Jumpers- Peggy Eddleman
16. Think 4:8- Tommy Newberry
17. When Mountains Move- Julie Cantrell
18. Real Men Don't Text- Ruthie and Michael Dean
19. Awake- Noel Yeattes

September- 
1. Chasing Hope- Kathyrn Cushman
2. Stranded- Dani Pettry
3. Muscle and a Shovel- Michael Shank
4. Women Living Well- Courtney Joseph
5. Hush Little Baby-Suzanne Redfearn
6. Confessions of a Wonder Woman Wannabe- Jenny Sulpizio
7. The Promise- Dan Walsh
8. When Sorry Isn't Enough- Gary Chapman
9. Opening the Door to Your God Sized Dreams- Holley Gerth
10. The Twins- Saskia Sarginson
11. Under the Dome- Stephen King (Still working on this one. IT. IS. LONG.)
12. Homeland: Carrie's Run- Andrew Caplan
13. Undivided Mom- Kayse Pratt
14. Jesus Calling- Sarah Young
15. Grace Unplugged-Melody Carlson
16. Morning Glory- Sarah Jio


Thursday, September 26, 2013

"Women Living Well"

Courtney Joseph of the popular blog "Women Living Well" has now written a book. And a very good book I might add. She addresses topics all across the board- kids, marriage, homemaking, home school, and technology. I want to post this now so that you have the chance to take part in the pre-order goodies available.



(This cover is just so inviting.)

The book opens up with Courtney's visit to the Rachel Ray show where her interview is sliced apart to edit out the faith aspect and I have to say it seemed like Rachel Ray was degrading Courtney on her choice to be a homemaker as a profession. But as a stay at home mom I feel like that sometimes. I feel like society does not value the women who stay at home and our work is our family. Courtney addresses all of that. She strengthens the desire to stay at home and raise my children to love God and to believe in Jesus.

And oh the section on marriage hit home big time. Because I get so irritated at my husband and I am guilty of derogatory comments to and about him. And I admit that I am wrong in that. There is a 10 day marriage challenge in this section that is worth the price of the book for it alone.

Courtney speaks in a way that will encourage you while showing you through scripture what the role of a biblical wife and mother should be. This book will inspire you to keep going through the days where you question why.

If you order Courtney's book now through September 30, 2013, you can receive 10 FREE e-books as well. Check it out here: http://womenlivingwell.org/2013/09/get-10-free-ebooks-when-you-pre-order-women-living-well/. Head over to Amazon and buy the book here:Women Living Well: Find Your Joy in God, Your Man, Your Kids, and Your Home. Courtney is also offering a free video series to go along with the book at her website www.womenlivingwell.org.






 photo Women-Living-Well-Blog-Tour-1024x1024_zps9e9dd432.jpg
**I received this book as part of the launch team in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own.**

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

October New Releases and What's On My Reading List

October introduces some new titles that are worth the read either because the book is a non-stop page turner or because it is your favorite author and you would never miss a book. Here are some that I have had the privilege of reading in advance.

Hush Little Baby-
A great job, two kids, a seemingly great marriage are all the things that Jillian has- at least to an outsider. But in reality Jillian lives in fear because she knows Gordon will kill her if she ever tries to leave. But the day comes when she can't stand it anymore. She takes her kids and she runs. Will Gordon find them and if he does will Jillian survive? 

I made the mistake of opening this book while my kids were doing school work and also at the start of (In)Courage community groups' registration week. Two hours later I emerged with frustrated kids and a back log of work that needed to be completed. I. could. not. walk. away. It is that good. Every page, every chapter, every word just draws you in and holds you in suspense. Make sure that you have plenty of uninterrupted reading time before you pick this one up. 



Fifteen Minutes- Karen Kingsbury
I love Karen Kingsbury. I do. The Bailey Flannigan books are some of my favorites. That being said, her new book, Fifteen Minutes, was a disappointment to me.

Zack is a young man who auditions and makes the cast of a talent show, Fifteen Minutes. He sees the show as a way to save the family farm. But will he lose himself in the process?

Reese is Zack's girlfriend. She supports his audition wholely but worries about the changes that may come. When a job offer in London comes her way, does she take it or stay home?


What I liked:
  • The ending. Although I can't say why because I don't want to give you any spoilers.
What I didn't like:
  • I had a hard time investing in these characters.
  • On page 295, I finally got into the book enough to care about the ending. The book ended on page 353.
  • There are too many little stories going on in the book without a whole lot of tying together.
I really hated that I did not like this book because I love Karen Kingsbury so much. But it is what it is. I look forward to her next book.   But since she is Karen Kingsbury and if you love her like I do buy the book anyways. 

Women Living Well- Courtney Joseph

I have the great honor of being on this launch team. This book is a great book for wives and mothers. While I don't 100% agree with Mrs. Joseph I do love the way that she spells it all out. How she shows her complete love for her husband and her children. She really does want to help women all over come back to a biblical marriage and use the Bible in raising their children. This book is definitely the case of "big" blogger gone book author that will succeed with no problems. I am not rushing through this book and I am still working on finishing it because I found myself to often going back to re-read a section or writing down something that she said or looking up a verse that she mentioned- and that makes it very hard to do a quick read through. And I don't want to just do a quick read through. I want to glean as much inspiration from this book as I can. So yes, good book, buy it. Much more on this book tomorrow. 



On my reading list for October are two books I feel like I have waited a year for when in reality I have only waited a few months:

House of Hades- Rick Riordan
Allegiant- Veronica Roth



Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Behind the Scenes- Mom of the Year Over Here

crystalstine.me
Behind the Scenes is a weekly link up party where we pick a picture and tell the story behind it. All of it. Even the dirty parts. Because we don't often post perfect pictures, do we? So here is this week's picture and it's story. 

Last Wednesday my mom called and asked if she could take my 3 year old for the day just to spend time with him. I, of course, said yes (it may have even been with a lot of giddiness and fist pumps in the air). So after she picked him up I asked the middle two if they wanted to go for a walk and see what we could find down our road. Of course, they said yes. So shoes on and out the door we go. We started off looking for tracks in the road. We found fresh deer, raccoon, and bobcat tracks. Then we kept going to find more. When we reached the curve in the road that is almost at the highway we turned back around and headed back. Now Calvin had found a silk worm nest early in the walk and went to look at it and met with a very unfriendly little wasp. So he was starting to get more irritable by this time too. On the way back the boys saw this weird vine with "bean pods" on it. I told them to leave it alone and come on but boys will be boys. And as you see they picked off the "bean pods". (I totally warned them) We stopped at my in-laws on the way home to get Calvin some Benadryl for his wasp sting and the boys showed her their new "beans". I took a picture of them and sent it to the hubby and asked him if he knew what it was because his mom didn't. So you want to take a guess what those "beans" were- cow itch. (That is a crazy name.) Oh yes. My kids had been playing with and toting around a poisonous plant. Straight into the tub they went. Fortunately nobody broke out from it but man oh man if they had. So yes, this mom of the year over here not ONLY let her kids play with a poisonous plant she ALSO took a picture of it for the world to see.

I will be awaiting my medal in the mail.



Monday, September 23, 2013

Balancing Act- You Are Enough


Photo Credit- www.designmom.com

We all know that marriage and mommyhood is a big balancing act. And I don't feel like I can start a series about that balancing act without first address something really important. You really need to know this so pay close attention.
                          YOU ARE ENOUGH!!!!

Did you hear me? You are enough. Feelings of failure and comparing yourself to other moms is normal. But God made YOU to be the mother of your children and the wife of your husband. He made YOU to do that job. You are enough.

God planned all this out. He tells us that when he says "I know the plans I have for you" (Jeremiah 29:11). Now I agree that sometimes his plan makes no sense to me at all. But his plan did include the kiddos and hubby that you have around you. And he is always with you. He never leaves your side. So talk to him, plead with him, cry out to him- he is always listening.

If you walked in my house right now you would find dishes in the sink, toys all over the floor, and lots of laundry around. Also a couple of kids' rooms that look like tornados hit too. But you will also find two kids doing school work and a 3 year old sitting in my lap. That's where my priority right this second. The house will get cleaned eventually. My children need me right now. Is this always the case- absolutely not. Some days you will find me hiding in my closet crying because I just can't take it anymore or because I just "know" that I am not doing a good enough job. Then I straighten up and remind myself that I am enough. I am doing a good job. I am doing what God created me to do.

Now listen because this next thing I am going to tell you will be hard. You have to stop comparing yourself to other wives and mothers. Don't lie- you know you do it. You want to know a secret- those moms are just as messed up as you about their kids and their marriage. And you would be surprised how many of them are comparing themselves to you.

So put the phrase "I am enough" on repeat. Repeat it all day. So what if you have mommy or wife failure today. You have a do over day tomorrow. Apologize and move on. More than likely it was only a failure in your eyes. You've got this. I promise. Because YOU ARE ENOUGH!

Photo credit- www.pinterest.com



Now it's your turn! Link up and tell us your thoughts about being enough and how you remember it.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Kiddy Conversations

So as Miles (3) is becoming more and more verbal (sometimes too much) it is funny to listen to his conversations with the older boys. Pacey and Calvin keep talking to him in baby talk and I keep reminding them that he is a "big" boy and to stop the baby talk. Josh is always yelling at him so there isn't really any baby talk there. But some of the things we are all working on with him are counting, ABCs, the books of the Bible, and his full name.

Miles' idea of counting to 10: "1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10!"

Miles' idea of the ABCs: "A, B, C, D, L, M, P, done"

Books of the Bible (New Testament): "Mafhew, Mark, Uke, John, Acts, you know the rest"

And his name: "Miwels Cradey Crat" (Miles Bradley Pratt) or "Miwels, just Miwels"

He is also learning when it's appropriate timing for certain phrases and he is developing an attitude with it.
For example Monday these conversations happened

Me- "Miles you are driving my crazy. Sit down!"
Miles- "No, you are driving ME crazy, you sit down."


Calvin- "What's Mommy's name?"
Miles- "Mommy."
C- "No what's her other name?"
M- "Mommy Crat"


This kid is turning into a handful let me tell you! Do you have any funny kiddy conversations at your house?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Apology Languages?

We all know about love languages. There are 5- words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, touch, and quality time. I have found it funny how all my boys and my husband have touch as their primary love language and yet it is on the bottom of my list. My primary love language is acts of service which seems to be on the bottom of their list. And I am now finding out something else- there are apology languages too! (Yes, the book is written by the same guy but it is dead on.) And guess what- everybody in this household has different apology languages too.

What is an apology language and what does that mean for me? Apology languages are how you apologize and what you expect from and apology. Some people expect just and "I'm sorry" while others give and expect a full out hour long apology listing all the wrongs committed with acknowledgement of the hurt caused followed by asking for forgiveness. By learning these languages for the ones around us and for ourselves we can more effectively handle apologizing and accepting the apology.

I will be honest and say that I haven't really figured out my language yet but I have figured out my kids. The younger three want to say "I'm sorry" and move on while the oldest one wants an apology and a plan of action for it not to happen again. I think that John falls more into the "I'm sorry" and move on category. I am a good mixture of all of them depending on the situation.

So the five apology languages are:
1. Expressing Regret
2. Accepting Responsibility
3. Making Restitution
4. Genuinely Repenting
5. Requesting Forgiveness

Like the love languages the names for each language pretty much explains itself. The two languages also seem to run closely together. It is definitely an interesting study for everyone to do and see what their languages are. It would help in a lot of situations.

Are you asking yourself yet where I learned all of this?

I read this book:



It really is such a good book. I understand my husband and my kids a little bit better now. And if I can convince him to read it I think that my husband would understand me a little better too.


**I received this book from Moody Publishers in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own.

***Affiliated links used in this post.

Monday, September 16, 2013

(In)Courage Marriage and Mommyhood

Photo credit- www.incourage.me

This post really needs some confetti and some banners because today is the day- REGISTRATION for (IN)COURAGE COMMUNITY GROUPS IS OPEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So I am going to tell you all about Marriage and Mommyhood in celebration and then point you on over to the registration page so that you can pick a group and sign up!

Photo credit- www.incourage.me



Marriage and Mommyhood is about finding that balance between the two. We all know that mommyhood tends to out weigh marriage in those early years. We also all know that those early years tend to run us ragged. And we also know that these imbalances can go on through the rest of those teenage years leaving you wondering what you do now. So in Marriage and Mommyhood we offer scriptures, encouragement, support, prayer, and advice for managing it all. We are a completely diverse  group with working moms, stay at home moms, adoptive moms, new moms, moms of teens, moms of singles, and moms of lots. The one thing that we have in common is that we all want to help each other in this journey of finding balance and navigating the waters of motherhood.

In the past we have done a series of Superwoman versus Abiding Woman and a study of the No More Desperate Moms creed (by Sarah Mae). This time around we are going to change it up. We are asking you what you struggle with and what you need the most encouragement with. Then we will tackle these topics together.


So head on over to http://www.incourage.me/incourager-groups to check out all the groups and if you want to join us in Marriage and Mommyhood head to http://www.incourage.me/marriage-and-mommyhood and sign up.
Photo credit- www,incourage.me


To clear up some confusion that has been happening. You do NOT have to have a blog to register. You need an email address and a Facebook page. That's it. You can leave the blog URL line blank.

HOPE TO SEE YOU SOON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Little Passports Follow Up


 
Have you gone and checked out Little Passports yet? I definitely suggest it. We just got our second month in the mail and have enjoyed playing the games and doing the activities. But today I want to share with you Meals from Around The World. Now that school has started back I have much less time to think about meals than I did over the summer. Believe me the kids are lucky if supper is on the table by 6:30 (or 7:30). And lunches have become sandwiches or leftovers. So when Little Passports sent me an email with meals from around the world I thought it would be cool if we tried some of them for lunches. Check them out below!

France- French children enjoy a 3 or 4-course meal that is made from high-quality ingredients, and are mostly made from scratch. The children all sit in the same eating area, the cafeteria. An interesting fact is that there are no vending machines in schools, because they’re banned due to the high sugar and fat content of the treats they carry. Typical school lunches here can have a variety of dishes and ingredients, such as grilled fish, salad, red beans, seasonal vegetables, garlic sausage, fruit salads and chocolate flan (just to name a few). Another perk is that the food is served on plates and eaten with real silverware!



Japan- In Japan, the school lunch ingredients are locally sourced and almost never frozen; in addition, the schools employ nutrition experts that work with kids and teach them the importance of good eating habits. Like the children in France, Japanese kids also eat in a community-like setting with their peers, and even their teachers! The children also wear white hats and robes to serve their classmates, which teaches them teamwork and respect. You can expect to find lots of rice, vegetables, fish, soup, and meat on the plate. 



South Africa- South African school meals have natural ingredients such as corn, squash, sweet potatoes, and yams. There’s also rice, soft porridge, and meat that is sprinkled in with the vegetables. A special stew is made called potjiekos (named after a potjie, a three-legged pot), which originated from Dutch settlers. The cook puts vegetables, meat, potatoes, and spices into the pot, which is heated by small amounts of wood and twigs. After cooking, the result is a delectable stew!



Colombia- Colombian school lunch ingredients usually vary from region to region, but can contain rice, potatoes, fruit, beans, meatballs, and vegetables such as corn and avocados. There’s a special vegetarian menu also available, and children from 2 to 5 years old have their food cut and portioned into smaller sizes.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Mercy House

There are a lot of ministries out there let me tell you. So far this week I have told you about World Help, Cause Life, and (In)Courage. Today I am going to tell you about another ministry that I am excited to be getting involved with.

Mercy House was born when Kristen at We Are That Family visited Kenya as part of Compassion International. There she learned about how young girls in Kenya are sold into prostitution or raped and when they become pregnant they are forced to have backstreet abortions. Mercy House offers them another option. They are able to live at Mercy House, receive counseling, nutrition, pre and post natal care, receive and education, and work. These girls are given another chance. They are given a life outside the horrors that they have experienced. To find out more please visit http://www.mercyhousekenya.org/.

Now to where you and I can get involved. Right now through Christmas (In)Courage has partnered with Mercy House to raise money- they are calling this partnership (In)Mercy. There are 5 phases in this fundraiser and all of them are important.

Phase 1 starts NOW. You can visit https://www.purecharity.com/inmercy for more details and to donate. Now I am an (In)Mercy blogger but I am part of phase 4. Phase 4 launches November 11, 2013. In phase 4 we are trying to raise $2,150 dollars to build and stock a computer lab for these girls. This computer lab will be used for their education and also by the staff for communications. I am so excited to be a part of this wonderful cause. Like I said there won't be a lot more from me until November 11th but you can give at any time starting NOW. You can visit any of the above websites for an update or you can see the widget on the "Giving Back" tab here on this website.

And if you can't give monetarily then can you please pray for this ministry?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Where Online Community Grows


Have you ever heard of (In)Courage? I know that I have written about them a couple of times but have you ever checked them out? (In)Courage is an online community for women. They offer daily devotionals/ encouragement, an online "beach house retreat" every year, and community groups. I personally love all of them. (And hey they all love some cupcakes and chocolate.) I have made some great friends through the community groups and I have loved the beach house retreats. Go check it out at www.incourage.me.

Last October, I joined the community group called Marriage and Mommyhood. This past spring when the leaders of the group stepped down they asked me to step up and be a leader. Completely and totally out of my comfort zone. So I have had a few months to get used to this idea and I have attended leadership meetings, and found my co-leader, the wonderful Tonya Garrick who blogs at Peace, Love, and Caffine. And now the session is starting!

On September 16, you can go to http://www.incourage.me/community/about and find a group to join. (Ours is the Marriage and Mommyhood group) There is all the information about the groups and what you have to do to register. Register with the group you chose and then you will receive a welcome email from the leader of that group with a link to their Facebook group. Ask to join the group and that is all you have to do! Each week their will be topics for discussion, encouragement, and lots of other fun stuff. You do not have to have a blog to join but you do have to have a Facebook page. There are over 70 groups to chose from. We have a group for everything. You just have to a woman and you have to be over 18.

My group is all about balancing Marriage and Mommyhood. We talk about our struggles, offer encouragement, share recipes and advice, and we have a good time. There is no pressure in any of the groups and no one expects you to be perfect. We would love for you to join our group but we also want you to check out all the group descriptions and find your best fit.

So join us on September 16th and register for a group! I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

12 Years

September 11, 2001- a date that should be remembered by Americans but seems to be getting pushed to the background. 12 years ago today I was getting Pacey and myself ready to head to his one year check-up. One phone call from my mom and I became very distracted the rest of the day. I even locked my keys in the car at the doctor's office with Pacey still in the car. An awesome cop came popped open the doors and told me he understood how I could be so distracted.

Today, 12 years later, I am sitting on the couch writing this after watching Pacey get on a bus and head to school. And I can tell from Facebook who remembers 9/11 for what it is.

Did you know that today in Washington, DC, there is a group of Muslims marching on the capitol? They were given a permit and the majority of them will readily admit that they support the very people who attacked us this day 12 years ago. And did you know that a group of American patriots were denied a permit to march on Washington today because they are extremist? It makes me mad that this administration views Americans that way.

We have forgotten what happened that day. We have forgotten the sense of patriotism and passion for God that came from that day. Our government is so corrupt that proud American citizens are viewed as the enemy while terrorist are to be petted and given into. Our country is forgetting what it means to be an American.

America has always stood for freedom and pride. Yet, the administration in place now is trying to take that away. And we are letting them as a majority. Yes we sit here and we say on Facebook that we are against this and that but are we really doing anything about it? Are you letting the people who are on YOUR payroll in the state houses and in Washington know that you don't like what they are doing and what you want? Because guess what they are YOUR employee. They want you to forget that. They want you to think that they are employed by someone else but they aren't. Get on the phone, break out the paper and pen, shoot them an email. Tell them how you feel. And if they continue to fall down on their job FIRE them. We have elections coming up for some of these people. Fire them and hire someone new. That's what we need. A clean up in Washington, DC. We need to put people up there who remember what happened to this country 12 years ago and who remember what our country actually stands for and what the constitution says.  

Where were you 12 years ago?

When One Book Explains It All

 
 I have been hearing over and over again about this book called "Muscle and A Shovel" by Michael Shank. My friends in Valdosta were talking about it, my friends in Montgomery were talking about it, and my friends at Hentown were talking about it. So I decided to check it out. I contacted the author and asked about doing a review and he sent me the book. I started reading it. Now to be honest for the first 8 chapters I kept wondering what all the fuss was about. I didn't get it. And then I hit chapter 8. And I could not put it down. The notes started up in the margins and I kept looking at John and making comments. And I hated to put it down to cook, clean, do school, and sleep. It was that good.

Because see, I am a member of the Church of Christ (although not a great one). And I have always struggled with explaining things to other people. And I'll be honest- I still struggle with the fact that Baptist have the hold in ministries and evangelism over us. But this book laid it all out there. This book explained using BIBLE VERSES why we do what we do and believe what we believe. This book explained other denominations beliefs and where they get them from. This book put into words what I have struggled to explain to so many people. This book brought me back to my core beliefs like no other. This book quoted over 1,000 scriptures to bring the truth to people.

Now I say a lot to go buy this book or that book because they are good reads and I only say that when I think it but this book is a GREAT read. And I want to tell you to go buy it because you need to. This book will lead you to a greater understanding of the Bible's principles and if you want to talk to anyone about them please feel free to email me. If I can't answer it I will put you in contact with someone who can. This book is a stepping stone. It is not a replacement to the Bible because nothing is, but it is a study tool and a stepping stone to further study.

You can visit the authors website at http://michaelshankministries.com/ to find out more and you can buy the book at all major retailers. Michael Shank also will be in Valdosta, GA at Airport Church of Christ the last Sunday in September if you would be interested in going.

I guess because I was raised Church of Christ I have never thought anything about what it means. I have visited Baptist churches with my friends back in high school because I still firmly believe that it can't be a one way invitation all the time and you make a lot of headway understanding what their beliefs are so that you can show them scriptures to back up your's. But this book is written from the perspective of a former Baptist who through study became a member of the Church of Christ. This isn't a book written by a member of the Church who was raised in and really knows no different. And I think that is why this book is so powerful. I urge you to check it out today.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Great New Reads for You

Here are 3 great new book recommendations for you.
 
  Chasing Hope is the story of Sabrina, an Olympic hopeful whose dreams were shattered by a devastating diagnosis, and Brandy, a teenage misfit whose only hope of staying out of Juvie is to pick up cross country. The story follows their unusual friendship and their growth in faith.

This is such a great book. I had a hard time putting it down once I started reading it. This is Christian fiction at it's best. The story is full of struggles, friendship, and hope. And the ending is great.

*I received this book from Bethany House publishers in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own.



Stranded (Alaskan Courage) is the story Darcy St. James. Darcy is an investigative reporter on a cruise to help a friend. When her friend disappears it's up to Darcy to solve the mystery alone and save her friend.

Stranded is the third book in a series but believe me that doesn't matter because this book can be a stand alone. There is just enough suspense to keep the reader involved and I did not see the ending coming. Relying on God is what keeps Darcy going and her love and faith is evident throughout. There is also some romance thrown in there between Darcy and Gage- the tour guide (and evidently a main character in the rest of the series).

*I received this book from Bethany House publishers in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own.

Promise, The: A Novel (The Restoration Series) is the sequel to The Dance. Tom has a secret he is hiding from everyone including his wife Jean. Jean has a secret she is hiding from Tom. When it all comes to light can their marriage survive?

I did not realize when I requested this book that it was a sequel but you don't have to read The Dance to keep up with events in The Promise. I kept reading this book with a hope for the ending and it was definitely met. I also found myself getting mad at the characters and then sad when needed like they were real people. These authors are definitely gifted story tellers.

*I received this book through Netgalley in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Are you "Awake" to the needs of others?

So I told you that I had some exciting things coming up this week and here is the first one. 

Noel Yeates is re-releasing her book "Awake" this week. And next week there will be a Facebook community book study. I just have to tell y'all about this book. Because it will open your eyes and your heart in big ways. 

Have you heard of the organizations World Help and CauseLife? I had but until I read this book I really didn't know what they were all about. World Help is an amazing organization that brings hope, food, medical care, and clothing to those areas in the world that have nothing. Where kids don't go to school, children die everyday because there is no clean water and no medical care, and where kids have no food because they are alone. Cause Life brings clean water to places that have none. Where digging a well costs so much money that there are none. Where drinking out of contaminated rivers and streams is the norm. 

In "Awake", Noel introduces you to the children that deal with these problems in real life. And she tells their stories in a way that you feel like you know them. Would you like to meet a few of them? You can see pictures and videos of them here: : http://noelyeatts.com/awake/photo-gallery/. You can read some of their stories here:  http://noelyeatts.com/awake/

After you read their stories and see their pictures how can you not be involved? Noel says so many great things in this book that I have to share a few of her quotes about being involved. 

"When we stand before God one day, will we really say that we didn't know? Will we really say that we didn't see the needs of our world - that we chose to look away? What will our excuse be for not getting involved?" (p.45)

"Do we want to stay safe, or do we want to change the world? We can't have it both ways." (p.119)

"Real change requires action. There's no substitute for it." (p.142)

"I have often said that if we really want to know God, we have to be willing to know everything about Him. Not just the pretty stuff. Not just the stuff that is easy. Not just the stuff that makes us feel good. We have to be willing to embrace all that God is about, all that He loves, and all that breaks His heart." (p. 42)

"If we truly see, then we really can help." (p. 45)


There are so many ways to be involved because once you know about it you can't ignore it.

Do you have a blog? You can find out more information on being a World Help blogger here :

Then you can sign up here:


You can find out more information on other ways to help at http://www.worldhelp.net.


You can participate in the online study:

Details for Study:
  • 6 Weeks: Each Friday, September 20th-October 25th
  • We can all meet at the host blogger's place, and hangout to chat about what that particular part of the book meant to us. We can share quotes or take-aways in comments. It would be wonderful to engage with the other readers about it. 
  • If you are able to write teasers or share links on corresponding Fridays leading your readers to the host's site, that would be great, too. (I will provide the list and links soon.)

Link to Awake Study Facebook Group: 
https://www.facebook.com/groups/192008334304326/


And you can buy the book by clicking the picture below. Part of the proceeds from the book go to World Help. 





Won't you join in making a change in the world????

Enter below to win a copy of "Awake"!


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Think 4:8

Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about it.
~Phillipians 4:8 NIV

 
  Think 4:8: 40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life for Teens is a 40 day devotional for teens that will bless their socks off! Adapted from the book "The 4:8 Principle", Tommy Newberry and Lyn Smith have written 40 days worth of devotionals for teens specifically. Each day starts with a Bible verse, then an short devotional, an activity to make the teen get into the nitty gritty of it all, a discussion point, a thought for the day, and finally a prayer (or prayer prompt).

We have been through a lot of devotionals in our house and we have found some great ones for our younger children and even for ourselves. While I have also found some good ones for teens, I really like this one because the focus is finding the joy in the teens life. Too many times I hear about what all my child doesn't have or the bad things about his day instead of him finding joy each day. His birthday is tomorrow. He will officially be a teen. Guess what he is getting as part of his birthday present- this book. I am going to focus on him doing the scripture and devotional parts in the morning while eating breakfast and then the written applications and discussions in the evenings with his homework.

It is important for teens to find the good things in their lives since they seem to focus so much on the bad things that happen to them. (I also realize that when they get older those bad things will seem so trivial that they will laugh at them.) That's why I think that this book would be a great gift for any teen in your life. It is fun, informative, and short enough that they will not lose focus. Great book!

**I was provided a copy of this book from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own.**

Friday, September 6, 2013

Dear "KIds" at that Concert

We went to a Jason Aldean concert last night and what I saw was a little shocking. So

Dear Teenage/ College Age Girls;

Did you have fun last night watching Jake Owen and Jason Aldean? Oh yes, I did too. But to be honest your dress was kind of distracting. I saw that Grandpa brought you (oh yes one really did), I am really surprised he let you out of the house in those clothes. Your dress might as well have been a shirt. A shirt. Don't you know you are supposed to wear a pair of pants with those. And to the little girl sitting behind us with a dress so short that it barely covered anything up and then sat with your legs spread wide apart- that is very undignified and I cannot post pictures of my group from last night because of what is in the background. So here's the deal. Yes your dress looked great on the hanger, but dresses that short do not offer a positive image up about females at all. I know it was a concert and you wanted to look cute, instead you made us "old guys" (oh yes it was said) feel embarrassed for you. And made me very glad I do not have a daughter that will make me worry about all of that.

Now next up- I know that you enjoyed yourself with your boyfriend. And so do all the rest of us sitting around you. Some of that stuff is for when you are married AND NOT IN PUBLIC!!!!

Please, please, please learn to respect yourself and your body. Please stop giving these guys too many ideas. And please BUY A PAIR OF PANTS!!!!

And Dear Teenage/ College Age Guys;

You did not escape my notice either. Especially the one guy off to the right who spent the entire night buying an underage girl beer (even after she told you she was underage) and making a complete fool of yourself singing to her, holding her hand, and getting down on one knee. Let me tell you- she was not impressed and neither were the rest of us but thank you for the entertainment. I honestly would wear my child out no matter what his age if he acted like that. Now the rest of the guys around us were very well behaved with a few laughs to be had at the guys who insisted on wearing sunglasses. I even liked the fact that the guy right in front of us brought his two little sisters on his date to see Jason. Although his littlest sister looked like she could have slept through the whole thing.

And Grandpa- you were awesome down there. I probably would have made my child cover up a little more but you brought her to a great concert and spent time with her.

So yes. I was amazed by the attire at this thing and also for the behavior by some people. I wish I could show y'all a picture of my hubby and I or my sister-in-law and I but alas I can't. I can't print them, I can't do anything with them because of what is in the background. And that makes me sad that it is considered okay for dresses to be worn like that.

I also came to the realization that we are old now. I was sitting there and we were all singing along with the Fresh Prince of Bel Air rap and I realized that half the people in that arena were not even born when all of that was out. And the songs that we all knew in between performances that all the kids were calling oldies really aren't that old.

So yes. We all had fun. But I also came away a little sad for this generation coming because they lack respect for themselves. It also made me very glad that I have all boys. And I also learned that Tallahassee needs to enlarge the bathrooms on all the upper floors.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Marriage Takes Work

So marriage takes work. I know, I know- they don't tell you that growing up. You have to find it out on your own. But I am going to tell you, it takes work. It takes prayer, effort, and lots and lots of forgiveness. We have a tendency as women to forget about our marriage when we have kids. The reason is because we are moms. Someone is completely dependent on us now. Those little people take a lot of work. So remembering your spouse is an extra effort in all of that. So here are some ideas for making it happen during the day.

1. Call or text him. My hubby works shift work and 2 jobs. So there is literally one week a month that texting is our main form of communication. I can't call him because he is so busy and not allowed to talk on the phone. But I can text him. And at least while he is at one job I can have a conversation with him this way.

2. Have physical contact with your hubby EVERYDAY. By that I mean hold their hand, give them a hug, sit next to him on the couch so that you are touching, even if you are too tired for sex you can at least have physical touch.

3. Plan a date night. Ahhh the elusive date night. These are few and far between at our house. But we have 4 kids so finding a sitter for all of them is hard even with 2 sets of grandparents really close by. We have managed to have an impromptu date night in the past month and we have a date this week that we have been planning for over 6 months. Make it happen.

4. Pray for your hubby. Pray for your marriage. Just pray.

5. Write him a not and stick it in his lunch box, on his dash, or on the front door so that he sees it when he leaves for work.

So 5-10 mins out of your day. That's all it really takes during those early years of being parents. Just remember that it can't only be 5-10 mins forever. The kids do get older and more independent. You can put more time into it then. Just remember to keep working on it. You can do it I promise!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Behind the Scenes- Skipping Rocks



This picture is from one of my favorite trips of 2012. We actually not planned on going to Tennessee this weekend. Until the phone call came that John's grandfather was unresponsive and they were asking the family to come now. So I quickly packed our bags and we headed up. His grandfather came around and got a little better (he passed this past Jan) so we made the most of our "vacation". We went to an apple orchard, we went to a pumpkin festival, to the Tennessee Aquarium, and to the Tellus Science Museum. But out of all of that this is what me kids talk about. Stopping by that river in the mountains and skipping rocks. So with all the sadness behind the trip, me packing only long sleeve shirts for the boys and it being quite warm, a lot of family around, a lot of trips to the hospital, and staying in a house with no shower (lots of trips to Mimi's house for that)- we made what started out as a not fun trip into a fun and memory filled trip that included skipping rocks.


crystalstine.me


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Monday, September 2, 2013

Little Passports

I few weeks ago I contacted Little Passports to work on a giveaway for you guys. I am so excited to say that they have agreed! Never heard of Little Passports? Check out their website at www.littlepassports.com. I am in love with this company. We got our "starter" kit in the mail this week for the U.S. edition. I know that it says on the website that it is for older kids but Miles, who is 3, is in love with the whole thing. The started kit comes in this really nice carry case so that you can keep everything together.

                                    

When you open up the envelope you will pull out a welcome letter, a "field guide", a disposable camera (not pictured because Miles has claimed it and won't give it back), a great map of the U.S.A. (that we hung on the wall in our school area), and a Scratch book. I am planning on using all of the materials that we receive as a supplement to our social studies class with homeschool.


I am really enjoying the starter kit alone so I can't wait until our monthly deliveries start coming. Each month we will receive a packet filled with information about 2 states. Each monthly packet comes with stickers, a activity book about 2 states, a pop up activity, post cards, and access to even more activities online.

There is also a world edition! Every month your children will learn about a new country through the fun activities in your delivery.

There are several "subscription" options as well: yearly, 6 months, 3 months, or monthly. And I have to say that they are priced really well for all that you get each month.

So are you ready for the giveaway? Here's the deal. You have to like the Little Passports page on Facebook AND you have to sign up for their newsletter. There are also additional entries available for liking the Hentown Mama Facebook page, signing up for my monthly newsletter, and for leaving a blog comment. Check out the Rafflecopter below to enter!



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