Friday, March 28, 2014

Creating Traditions {a review and a giveaway}

I love traditions. So when I read this book to Miles and he asked if we could make an egg I said yes in a heartbeat.

The Sparkle Egg by Jill Hardie is a great book for kids of all ages. This is the story of Sam. Sam tells his parents a lie and can't shake the feeling of guilt that follows. He has apologized and everything. Sam's mom then comes up with an idea. As Easter approaches, she sets up Sam's favorite activity- egg decorating. She has him decorate one special egg. Inside that egg, he places a piece of paper with what has him feeling guilty written on it. On Easter morning, he opens the egg and the paper is gone. That piece of paper represents our sins being washed away and the forgiveness that comes through Jesus.

What a great idea! Of course at 3, I am sure that Miles doesn't feel guilty about much of anything but I know three other boys in my house that get that feeling. So I am heading out to buy the eggs and decorations this weekend and we are going to make these over Spring Break. I am excited and they are too.

Doesn't this sound like a great tradition to start with your kids? Would you like to win a copy of the book? Leave a comment with a fun Easter tradition you have in your house and I will randomly pick someone to win a copy next Wednesday.


**I was provided with a copy of this book through FlyBy Promotions for review and for giveaway. All opinions are my own. **

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Proud to be Weird {a review}

I am so excited about this book I am about to tell you about. My friend Laurie Wallin worked hard on this project and it is oh so good!




Why Your Weirdness Is Wonderful: Embrace Your Quirks and Live Your Strengths has an unique perspective on all those little quirks that we are always trying to change about ourselves.
Photo credit: www.lauriewallin.com
 I have a lot of quirks if you will. I sometimes wonder how in the world I am supposed to be using them because they aren't always the most positive things in the world. When I hurt, I really hurt and when I am passionate about something, I am really passionate about it. I love delving in and learning more about the things that grab my interest but I am not good at memorizing things. I love creating things but hate having to clean up the mess that I will make doing it. So how in the world do I take all of that and do what God would want me to do.
Photo credit: www.lauriewallin.com
 Well for one, I write on here. It brings me a lot of joy and peace to write in this space. I love being able to create a passion in others for those causes that have grabbed my heart like Sole Hope, End Bible Poverty, Compassion International, and Exodus Road. I love reading all the history of life and traditions back in the era of the Bible, and I love being able to throw that into discussions with John. I don't memorize things well but I can summarize them and also point out where it fits in with other areas.
Photo credit: www.lauriewallin.com
My point is that God gave us all kinds of quirks and we need to learn how to use them. This book brings in a lot of unique techniques for doing that. Things that I have never thought about before. This book made me proud to be as weird and quirky as I am. I can't say enough good things about it. Of course I am going to direct you to Amazon to buy this book. But I really want you to click over and buy it. I feel that strongly about it. If you have any quirks that you just think that you have to change to be "perfect" and a better Christian- you need this book. Because that quirk is there for a reason. You need to figure out how to use it to the level God wants you to and also in the way that God had in mind when he gave it to you. That is where this book is going to be your best friend. BUY THIS BOOK! BUY THIS BOOK FOR ALL YOUR FRIENDS!

Monday, March 24, 2014

"Son of God" {a review}

One of the perks of blogging is being asked to review things. So I was excited when I got an email offering tickets to see the movie "Son of God" in exchange for my review. We made plans to go see the movie opening weekend and then the dreaded stomach bug hit our household, then John's work schedule didn't work for going to a movie, and then FINALLY we were able to go this past weekend. The movie has been out for about 3 weeks and the theater was still pretty full. I have purposefully ignored other reviews but I did watch several interviews with the producers, Roma Downey and Mark Burnett. I loved their passion for making sure the story of Jesus and his ministry made it to the big screen again. We were excited to see the movie.
Photo credit: www.sonofgodmovie.com
The movie started off with John in exile. He basically narrates the whole movie. And where better to start telling the story of Jesus than with his birth. There is a mid-wife depicted in the scene (which starts the inaccuracies). And of course the wise men show up even though they didn't actually see Jesus at birth, he was at least 2 when they arrived at his home. But since this is the norm I didn't really think anything about it. The story then flash forwards to Jesus calling Peter to be an apostle. This part of the story is a little off but I can't really point out why, it just seemed off to me. From this point on, Mary Magdalene was with Jesus and the apostles at all times. This is the biggest inaccuracy that John and I found that continued throughout the movie. She was not present for all of this and I feel like they put her character there as the token female character. There is a lot of misquoting of scripture, a lot of creative licensure taken, and the whole last supper scene was wrong. I feel like they sometimes just throughout what was written in the Bible and wrote their own version of events. I also feel like Roma Downey placed herself in the role of Jesus' mother and then inserted herself on camera as much as possible. There was also too many Anglo actors and british accents in the movie. Plus the actor who played Jesus is hispanic and his accent came through a lot.

So since I am through with all I didn't like here is what I loved! I think that they did a great job with the back story of the position the pharisees and head priest were in and the corner that they backed Pilate into. I think that if you plan on doing a Bible study with someone then this would be a good jumping board but not by itself. I also feel like I can let my children watch the scenes with Jesus being beaten and hung on a cross (at least the older children) and it not be any more violent than some other movies that they have watched. So I will probably watch it with them on DVD and the delve into the story more in depth with a Bible study.

I would recommend this movie but please be aware that it is not all accurate and you will probably be scratching your head over some parts. This would be a good trip for a small group to take as well.


**I was given tickets to this movie in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own.**


Friday, March 21, 2014

"Summer of Joy" {a review}



Summer of Joy (Hollyhill Series, Book 3) is the story of Jocie and the summer of 1964. Visitors from the past and present collide to make the months leading up to that summer eventful and life changing. Will the past change the future?

This is a pretty good book.However, I was a little confused about references to past books in the series. So my best advice is to read the first two books before reading this one. Those past references are pretty important to understanding new events. Other than that, it took me a while to get into the story (mainly because of the past references) but once the references referred to the current book I was good. I look forward to any further books in the series now that I can understand references to past events. These are great characters and a good storyline.

With Spring Break trips coming up this would be a great book to take with you.

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

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Praising Your Husband

It is so easy to put your husband down when you are talking to others. Dredging up all his faults and complaining about all that he doesn't do. I am guilty of this.

BUT- it is wrong. We should be building up our husbands and praising him to others. If all we ever do is complain we are not showing off our husbands best traits or our own. I know it's hard some days. (Today would be one of those for me.) But it is really important. If you know anything about gossip and small towns then you know that your complaint to one friend can turn into a huge deal around town. So the best thing  I have found to do is to have a journal and write it down. Or better yet, say it to him. He may not realize you feel that way. But when talking to your friends and family, just keep it on the positive side. Show how much you love your husband and why you married him by praising him to others.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

When A Pair of Shoes Makes All The Difference

I have been following a blogger trip to Uganda the last 7 days. (www.bloghope.org) And while I was already in love with this mission I am now even deeper in love. I have a new resolve to go. I have a new resolve to bring greater awareness to this cause.

I have been holding on to a Shoe Cutting Party kit since October. My original plan had been to host a party at our church with the youth. It is a great idea for youth groups. I mentioned it multiple times. And each time I was told maybe later. Well not anymore. We have changed churches and even though there is no youth group at our new church (welcome to a new mission for us!) I am going to approach the elders this month about hosting a party among the members and inviting the community in as well. I am going to talk to John about hosting a party in our home. I am going to quit putting it off until it is convenient for someone else. These kids need these shoes. My heart aches just reading the stories of my blogging friends as they hold these children while these horrible jiggers are dug out of their feet. And all it would take to help prevent it- a pair of shoes. A pair of shoes made out of blue jeans. Yes, you read that right. Blue jeans. Those things that we tend to take for granted and discard. So I am challenging you to save your jeans, visit www.solehope.org, and host your own party. Watch the video below to find out more about the cutting party and then watch the rest of the videos on the Sole Hope site so that you can see who these shoes go to. What's a pair of jeans if they can save a child's life?

Monday, March 17, 2014

How Can We Teach Motherhood?

Are we teaching our daughters about being mothers or are we counting on some instinct coming out in them? I don't have daughters. I can't teach something that I don't have. But I can model motherhood to my sons and other children in my life. I can model putting someone else's need before my own. I can model Jesus in my life. I can model love. And I can model improving myself in order to make my children's lives better.

One of the things that I love about Mercy House Kenya is that they help teach these young girls to be mothers. They teach them how to care for a baby, how to love, and how to model being a better person. But they can't do it by themselves. They need us to. They need our prayers. They need financial support. And they need us to share their stories and spread awareness. You can find out more by visiting http://www.mercyhousekenya.org/. They have the girls' stories, a store, and more about how you can help them.

And since you also know that I love Dayspring, you can head over here and they have an amazing line called (in)Mercy that supports Mercy House. I have to tell you that the Live Mercy shirt is one of the softest shirts you will ever own.

Teaching motherhood is an important thing for us moms to do. And if we can support a mission that makes that a priority we should whole heartedly. If you can't support them financially on a monthly basis, consider buying from their shop or Dayspring for gifts. And if you can't do either, please at least pray for them. And spread the word about their mission.

Friday, March 14, 2014

"No More Perfect Kids" {a review}

I like parenting books. I will admit it. But I like the parenting books that don't make you feel like you are doing it all wrong. There is a new book out that I am in love with. No More Perfect Kids: Love Your Kids for Who They Are by Jill Savage and Dr. Kathy Koch fits the bill for my favorite parenting books.



My kids aren't perfect. I don't want them to be. I feel like they learn from their mistakes and their failures. BUT sometimes my reaction is not what it needs to be to let them know that I don't expect perfection. "No More Perfect Kids" offers parents tons of awesome "techniques" for handling how they react to their children's mistakes and failures, how to let their kids no that being unique is okay, and to let their kids no how important they are to us. 

As you go through the book you will notice there are "feeling words", character developments, and even age appropriate chore ideas. This book is a great resource for all ages. A great read for new parents or even the veteran parent who feels like giving up.

You can click on the link within the review or you can visit www.nomoreperfect.com and find out more about the book, great freebies you can get if you buy the book within the next few days, and more great resources for families.  

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Not What I Planned

This is not the post I planned for today. I am supposed to be writing a book review for an amazing new book that came out last week. I am supposed to be writing a post about marriage. I am supposed to be telling you while I am happy to be weird. Instead, I am sitting here with nothing. So instead I am going to talk about something that I have been purposely avoiding.

We are looking for a new church. We haven't been making this a secret but we also haven't been very vocal with it. We just both feel like God has been telling us to go. So we went looking. And I think that we have found it. There are some draw backs for me. But overall we think this is it. Or rather John does. I am still processing. It means leaving a family. One that admittedly does not do all that great with keeping up relationships once someone leaves. And we are also going to end up hurting some feelings because John will tell them why we are leaving if asked. Me, not so much. Because our hearts are still in this church. And there are a couple of things that would bring us back and I don't want to move into a new church family, make relationships, start things, and then leave. I don't feel right about that. But the bigger thing is the underlying fear of the unknown. What if we are wrong and this is not the right church? What if we lose the relationships we have spent years creating at our church? What if?

See big things going on in my heart right now. But there is also the overwhelming sense of fatigue. Fatigue of always hearing God say No. No to the things that we crave, we need, and we desperately dream of. It's not just every once in a while. It's everyday. Everyday! We see where we need something and we just can't BUT that person out there who could care less that God is there looking after them- they keep getting a yes. Everyday! I am honestly just tired.

And maybe part of that is the "fun" stomach virus that over a 2 week period went through every person in our house and still has some lingering effects. I haven't been able to clean my house, do laundry like I should, and I don't have the energy to do it.

So all these things, a kid looking to fail the second grade (makes me feel like a complete failure- even though this is stuff he was getting when homeschooled), a busy ball schedule, and just general defeat is making me feel like not writing. It's making me want to throw in the towel. It's making me question everything. So maybe (I sincerely hope) I can introduce this amazing new book to you this week and tell you why I am happy to be weird next week. And that marriage post isn't going anywhere. It can get put up next week too. But for right now, this is what I have.

Monday, March 10, 2014

For When You Feel Forgotten

Dear Mama,

Do you feel forgotten today? I know the feeling. It happens to all of us.

Somedays, there is just no room left for you. Or so it seems. You know the days that I'm talking about. The days where the whole house is sick, or running to ball games, or even just busy with their own lives. But you know what, these are the days that they need you the most.

Those are the days where if it wasn't for you none of it would happen. You take care of them, you drive them around, and you raised them to be independent. You did a great job!

And I know that it feels like you are forgotten but I promise you, you aren't. In those moments of sickness, they only want their mom. At all those ball games, they look for you in the stands. And when they are out there living their own lives, they are remembering all those things that you taught them.

You are their mom. You are important. And most of all- you are not forgotten!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

All She Needed

Living in a small town has several bad things attached to it.

Your worth as a mother is judged by how well your child does in a classroom or on a playing field.

Your worth as a mother to a teacher is measured by how well your child does on a test.

Your worth as a wife is measured by how you dress and how much money your family has.

Your worth as a woman is measured by what size you are, what brand you wear, and again how much money your family has.

Your worth as a family is based strictly on what your name is and how much money you have.

Your worth as a person is based on how much you can handle.

It is a hard world to live in. Well today I was beyond frustrated. And I put it on Facebook hoping for a words of encouragement. I got them. But what else I got hurt.

I got a friend posting that she was frustrated with parents complaining about their children. She would give anything just for her child to be here.

I would give anything for that too.

But maybe just maybe, all that parent who is frustrated and out on a limb with no where to turn went to her Facebook friends seeking encouragement. A simple it will be okay.

Maybe the person who is struggling with her weight has a medical issue you don't know about.

Maybe that parent that you keep telling isn't doing enough with their child is spending hours each night working with their child and it still isn't enough. Maybe she has more than one at home that she is struggling with right now.

Maybe your family is making sacrifices so that at least one parent can be at home because one works shift work and after losing a job the other can't find one where at least one parent can be with their kids.

Maybe that person who you put down all the time is suffering from depression so deep she is desperate for an escape.

Maybe next time you can simply say it will be okay.

Maybe next time you can simply be understanding that sometimes parents love their children with all their hearts but just need to vent for a minute. Maybe Facebook is the only outside contact with an adult that parent has all day.

Maybe understanding that the person you are frustrated with prays desperately for you and your family in your loss but she needs prayers too.

Maybe all she needed was for one person to say "You are going to get through this. You will be okay."

"Just 18 Summers" {a review}

 

  Just 18 Summers is a poignant story about 4 families after the. All eath of a beloved wife, sister, and frreceived tjtch has to learn to raise his 8 year old daughter alone while also getting to know her, Beth faces an empty nest and guilt over the opportunities she has missed, Daphne is expecting her first child and without the calming presence of her friend, she is going a little crazy, and Helen is learning that even though she gives her kids everything they could possible want she doesn't know them at all.

Rene Gutteridge and Michelle Cox write a seamless story of love, loss, and growth. Grab the tissues and settle in to read this book. I had a hard time putting it down. The characters are so well defined that you feel like you know them. The events are relate-able and realistic. There is an overall reminder that as a parent you only have 18 summers to give your children memories before their adult lives take over. Seize the moment and make the memories.

Five stars and two thumbs up for this book. I will definitely be re-reading this book multiple times.

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

Communication in a Marriage

When I say communication what do you think of? I think of talking, texting, emailing, etc. All that is great but what if there is more to it? In "Worth The Fight", Kayse Pratt points out that even though you can talk to each other well, if you don't listen to each other you are not really communicating.

"Communication. It’s not just talking a lot. It’s both talking clearly and
listening well. It’s about grace and forgiveness and swallowing your need to be right."
 ~Kayse Pratt, "Worth the Fight"

John and I have to break a lot of the "good communication" rules in our marriage and text a lot. For 5 days of the month it is really the only way that we get to talk to each other. We make communication work for us however we can. But here's the thing about texting- you can't really tell what someone means by a text. There is no voice behind it or body language. So it is not the best form of communication. Same goes for email. But if that is your only option- take it! Use it. Don't stop talking.

Then there is always the fun arguments. (I use the word fun with a lot of sarcasm) It is so much better to have these in person. I can stay mad a lot longer when I'm not talking to John face to face. But just as soon as we are arguing in person it fizzles out because we just can't look at each other without smiling. 

We have also learned to listen to each other. I am one who can list things better in an email than in person because I just think better that way. But one thing that we have learned over the years, if it is a major decision or argument, letting me list everything in an email or a note means we can actually discuss each point better. 

Do what works for you. But never stop communicating. It is essential to your marriage. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Perspective and Intention

Motherhood requires intention. You have to intentionally teach your children character, love, and how to behave. You have to be intentional with the time you spend with your kids so they don't think that life is on a phone or a computer. Motherhood really requires intention. This is where a mission statement will come in handy. I have one:
As a mother, I strive to teach my children through words and examples to be followers of Christ, have good character, and to show them unconditional love at all times.

It's not the best in the world and it is hard to follow through some days. But it is my mission statement as a mom. It gives me a purpose and a defined path of intention. It also guides my perspective each day.

If I wake up with a healthy perspective (a plan and a positive attitude) and a focus on my mission statement, there is much that can be accomplished. Even if my to-do list is not completed, did I show my children unconditional love today, did I have a character teaching moment- good! I did what I needed to do. Did I show my children that I put God first? Awesome! Mission accomplished for the day.

When you put your day into the perspective of what is really important and intentionally work on it, you will accomplish great things and get the most important things on your to-do list done.

What is your mission statement? How can you change your perspective in each day?