Saturday, January 31, 2015

Children's Book Review #1: My Keepsake Bible

I have the privilege to begin reviewing books for Tyndall Publishing Co. and I couldn't be more excited! The first book I have chosen to review is a Children's Bible called My Keepsake Bible by Sally Ann Wright.

You guys, this Bible is so much fun! It is kind of like a "Baby's 1st Year" recorder and Bible all in one. There are places to record all the fun milestones (first smile, first word, first get the hang of it). There is also an adorable Family Tree to record some fun info about parents and grandparents too!

I really enjoy the artistry as well as the vibrancy of color in the illustrations, and I love (LOVE) that the wording is kid-friendly without being "fluffy" if you know what I mean? There is real substance within the pages and I so appreciate that!
There are also beautiful prayers scattered throughout the book that are perfect conversation-starters for you and your children. One of my favorite examples of this is a prayer on page 47: "Loving Father, please look after all who are not well. Comfort those who are in pain, or worried or sad. Give peace to those who are old or frightened. Help us to be loving and helpful to our families, kind to everyone we know, and generous to anyone who needs our help." I could totally see using this prayer as a jumping-off point for questions like: How can we help God comfort people who are sad or lonely? Why do you think it's important to keep older people we know in our prayers? What does being generous look like?

I have read a number of children's Bibles and would have to say this is one of my favorite picks for a "first" Bible. It is a well-made hardback but it is not a board book so if your child is very young it may need to be read while being supervised. That being said, my two-year-old has done great with it and it seems very age-appropriate for her! It is so fun to share stories of how God has made her unique (and show her the "special" facts recorded about her in the baby records section). I see this as a Bible we will probably use for the next few years to help her get a taste of God's Story without becoming completely overwhelmed. (As a side-note, for older kids I would highly recommend The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones. That is probably a great one for kids four or older).

If you are looking for a Bible to gift a new baby with or a neat way to showcase your little one's milestones, My Keepsake Bible is a great choice! 

May your day be beautiful and your heart be full!

 As part of my review I received a complementary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers. All opinions are my own.

If you are interested in purchasing My Keepsake Bible you can find it at Tyndale House Publishers, Amazon, or wherever books are sold.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Reminders of Grace

Hello Friends~
Sometimes we just need a really aptly spoken word of truth. Pricilla Shirer's book The Resolution for Women has a great list of reminders taken from scripture to help us keep our eye on the prize in the midst of our crazy days. What is so cool is that she rewords them so that you and I may read God's truth in the first person. I hope these breathed-of-God words bring life to your weary soul today. If you are feeling overwhelmed or defeated please hear that you are so loved. You are loved outside of circumstance. If it is dark and cold in your soul today, let Love bring back the warmth with His kindness and His grace. Today I am praying for my hurting and overwhelmed sisters, you are not alone friends!

I love the Lord my God with my whole heart, soul, and mind. (Mark 12:30)

I walk by faith and not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)

The Lord is on my side. I will not fear what man can do to me. (Psalm 118:6)

I am competent not in my own abilities but because He has made me competent by His Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:5-6)

I abide in Christ, He abides in me, and I bear much fruit. (John 15:5)

I have the mind of Christ; therefore I act in a way that is consistent with His actions. (1 Corinthians 2:16)

He will never leave me or forsake me. (Hebrews 13:5)

I do not look with disdain upon my weaknesses. I see them as opportunities for God to display His powerful strength and grace through me. (2 Corinthians 12:10)

No weapon formed against me can prosper, and every tongue that rises up against me in judgment will be condemned. (Isaiah 54:17)

I will be hospitable without complaint. (1 Peter 4:9)

I will not use my tongue to speak cursings, but rather I will speak life-giving blessings to everyone I meet in every situation I face. (James 3:8-10)

The Spirit indwells me; therefore I am the temple of the living God. (2 Corinthians 6:16)

I am faithful over a few things, and I will be made ruler over many. (Matthew 25:23)

I humbly submit to God, and I actively resist the work of the devil, knowing he must flee from me. (James 4:7)

I will not give the enemy an opportunity or foothold in my life. (Ephesians 4:27)

The One who is in me is greater than he that is in the world. (1 John 4:4)

Thank you Pricilla Shirer for this great resource! 
"The Resolution for Women" can be purchased here or here.  

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Pantry Door + Chalkpaint = Best-Ever Family Central Command Station for Small Spaces!

Okay, so my January project was to chalkpaint my pantry door (on the inside) and create a "central command" with everything from a calendar to a grocery list (and of course, one cannot go without inspirational quotes and cute doodles). I chose to do the inside of the pantry door so that if I had lists that got messy I wouldn't waste too much time rewriting them to be "pretty" since the whole world could see. This way, if it gets messy (as I'm sure it will!) I don't have to do anything but close the door and smile (because I secretly have everything messy-organized on the inside). Ha! 

I have to say I ABSOLUTELY LOVE the way it turned out! I cannot even tell you how over-the-moon I am for this pantry door...I could kiss it (and, side-note, my two-year-old would probably think that was totally normal because she kisses everything from her stuffed animals to Mickey Mouse on the ipad screen these days). Anyway, without further pantry door!

Long story short, I did the standard chalkpaint techniques of 1) Wipe down door with a wet rag (and let dry) 2) Paint 2-3 coats of chalkpaint (I used small roller and did 3 coats) 3) Let cure for 3 days 4) Rub down entire door with a coat of chalk and let set 3-5 minutes (Side-note: Hubs thought I was LEAVING the door this way-hahaha! I almost died laughing! In his defense, he took it all in stride. I cannot imagine what was going through his head!) 5) Wash chalk off door until clean and chalkless (this took about 5 washings for me) 6) Go for it! Chalk away my friend!

What does this Family Central Command Station hold? Let me tell you my friends, there is a calendar (with pockets!), a bulletin board, a space for this week's dinner menu, a space for things we need from the store, and a space for my to-do list. There is also a daily schedule and some of my favorite inspirational quotes (including "Live more like a lyric and less like a list" ~Emily Freeman). All in all, I am very happy with this project and it has already helped give my easily-distracted-self a landing place for things that would have otherwise flown out of my head. (Plus, it makes me smile every time I look at it. Who doesn't love a project like that?)

Things I learned for next time: 1) I might try a little bit bigger roller. I just used one I had and something about it was a little wonky. I had to press really hard to get a coat...not sure if that's just chalk paint or if it was the roller. In the end though, it turned out just fine. 2) When you do the thin coat of chalk on the door and wipe it off you will probably have to use 4 or 5 old (wet) rags to get all the chalk completely wiped off. Let it dry between cleanings so you can see if it still looks hazy. Once it's fully clean it shouldn't have a hazy look to it at all. 3) I need to learn to take better pictures! Goodness me, these are all crooked or'd think I let my toddler take the pics! 4) Everybody who is anybody and chalkpaints should buy chalkpaint markers. MARKERS! They are amazing and write so much nicer then regular chalk. I think they are one of the best-ever gifts I've ever recieved! (thanks mama!) :) 

So there you have it. My January project and the thing that currently makes me giddy! What are some projects you are working on? What tips and tricks do you have for staying organized?

This post is linking-up with Creativity Unleashed, Craft-Frenzy Friday, & Family Fun Fridays. Visit these hosts by clicking on their link-up name!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Prescription for a Vibrant Marriage...More Laughter

I love belly-laughing. There is something so refreshing about having a reason to just give it all you've got when you're laughing, holding nothing back. Early on in our marriage my husband's favorite pastime was making me laugh. And he could too. I would often be doubled-over in near-tears, trying to catch my breath over his antics and I loved it. It's one of the first things about him that I fell in love with.

Fast-forward to post-kid life and the quota for full-throttled laughter was full-on lacking. Gone was the easygoing comradery between my guy and me--replaced with talk of our kids, things that needed to get done, and how tired we both were. We didn't mean to stop laughing together, it just happened. Most days by evening-time there was nothing leftover, and anything more than a quick smile was deemed too much work. We felt old. Our marriage felt old. Our spirits felt old. What was there to laugh about?

Funny thing, though. The more you laugh, the more you see opportunities for laughter all around. The less you laugh, the more difficult it is to find anything worth delighting in. Something had to change. I'm not sure exactly when it happened but we slowly began to create opportunities for laughter again. We started by almost forcing ourselves to seek out the silliness of life. We began having family dance-parties with our little ones--showing our kids and each other our "best" dance moves. We started making fun of each other again (in love) and exaggerated one another's quirks to the point of ridiculousness. We took time to focus on being "in the moment" with one another--making eye contact and sharing smiles--and took opportunities to flirt and be silly together.

The other day I was doubled-over in laughter with my husband and I thought, "Wow, it feels so good to be doing this again. For this to be our 'norm.'" There are a lot of things that go into keeping a marriage healthy and strong. But I think one of the strongest and fastest-acting prescriptions is laughter. Let's not take ourselves too seriously today. And if you haven't had an opportunity for a good belly laugh with your mate in a while, its time to create one.

Check out my Blog Directory to see who I'm linking up with this week!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Book Review #1: "In the Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day"

Okay, so I have to tell you about a book that is rocking my world. Are you ready? I have been reading In the Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day: How to Survive and Thrive When Opportunity Roars by Mark Batterson. I am loving it. I have been wanting to let you all know about this great read for some time now but, well, I wasn't finished reading it so it seemed a little premature to review it! Now that I have, I have to say that if you are looking for a book to jump-start your new year, this is a great pick!

Batterson is intelligent, and I love intelligent. He is also a man who seeks God and believes God can do grand things--and even that he wants to do grand things--through us, but sometimes we have to chase the lions in our path to see these grand things come to fruition. The dedication in this book reads:"Parker, Summer (great name-choice Mark!), and Josiah: May you grow up to be lion-chasers." Doesn't that alone make you want to pick this book up?!

Too often I let fear hold me down. I let defeat take the wind right out of my sails. I give up before I even start. This is a treatise to grab our spears and go for it. It's a reminder that sometimes we need to take calculated risks to see great things happen. Soren Kierkegaard said that "boredom is the root of all evil, the despairing refusal to be oneself." I may not fully agree, but I do believe that if we are living a boring life then we are probably not fully living the life we have been called too. In the Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day is a reminder that we can have big dreams because our God is infinite. No dream is too big for him.

What I like about the book is that it's not a promise that we'll always make our dreams a reality. It's not even a charge to follow every whim of a dream we ever have. It's a call to stop living the "safe" life and praying the "safe" prayers, and instead live like Jesus. It's an invitation to accept uncertainties as a beautiful part of life--one of the great things that makes life dynamic and multidimensional--and to take risks for the purpose of living out our God-ordained destinies. If you need some coaching to get back in the game and start playing, add this to your wishlist. And, for more fun, tune in to one of these podcasts. Batterson has some great sermons (not specifically related to this book) that are free and will give you something to chew on. Happy reading!

What book has been a game-changer for you this year?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Sometimes "Good Enough" Is Better Than Perfect

So I've been thinking lately that maybe our quest for perfection is misdirected. Being the "perfect" mom, having the "perfect" marriage, finding the "perfect" balance of our time (you get the idea) is exhausting! Maybe instead of searching for perfection, we should find contentment in "good enough".

Think about it. If we stopped complaining that our marriages were not quite what we wanted, and instead started seeking out the beauty and goodness in them, wouldn't we find more peace and joy in that marriage? And what if we didn't spend so much time guilting ourselves over all the things we aren't doing perfectly in our parenting? Think about all the time and brain-energy we could save for actually enjoying our little ones, and maybe (just maybe) laughing at our mistakes along the way! Don't even get me started on balancing our time! I'm pretty sure in some seasons of life it is impossible, no matter how hard we try. And that is okay. How about we shrug our shoulders and say, "I'm doing the best I can today, and if my heart is right, it will be enough for all that needs to be done."

I don't know about you, but I'm tired. Tired of trying to juggle all the balls and wear the superwoman cape and pretend like there's even the possibility of having it all together all the time. Life is not static, it's more like a tribal dance. It's beautiful, but wild. We can't have our act together all the time. Let's be okay with that. I think we'll find there's a lot more breathing room in "good enough" than in our quest for the holy grail of perfection.

I will probably always look for how I can be "better" at the areas in my life that are important to me. I doubt I'll ever stop trying to be a better mom or a better wife or a better manager of my time--frankly, I don't want to. I want to seek to be the best me I can be at any given moment. But I also want to learn to have grace enough to accept myself "as is" while on the journey. Instead of seeking the elusive perfection, maybe I can learn to smile when I don't hit the mark. Maybe I can look to the heavens and say, "You know my heart, Lord. Show me where to go from here, and help me to be at peace with myself and those around me today as I continue to seek becoming the best me you've designed me to be."

Friday, January 9, 2015

Fun Blogging News!

Happy Friday everyone! So I am totally a nerd and probably infinitely more excited over this than there is any need to be blog finally has a facebook page! Are you jumping up and down in excitement for me right now? Of course you are!

I realize that I am a bit behind the times, but frankly until now I just haven't wanted to put more into this thing. I mean, I love (LOVE!) writing and sharing my thoughts, but I was afraid I would get sucked in to all the technology and miss the real life right in front of me.

Obviously I don't want that to happen, but I DO want more connection with my readers and realistically facebook is a place to let that happen. I may even SAVE time because I can chat quickly back and forth with you guys via facebook, and share quick thoughts or ideas that I don't have time to blog about. So I am really excited! Please "like" my page on facebook so we can start connecting!

That is about all I have today! I hope your weekend is filled with rest, fun, and memory-making. No matter your circumstances, you have an opportunity to be the joy-bringer in your home this weekend. Write your legacy on the hearts of your children with the ways you love them!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Making The Trade: Choosing our kids over our negativity

So this morning was "One Of Those Mornings." Oh yes, that had to be capitalized. And italicized. It started bright and early at 2am, and let's just say that if my mornings start at 2 AM they typically don't go well. So there I was sometime around 7 this morning thinking, "Can I trade these kids in for quieter ones who like to sleep and don't require everything I have to give?" I know, that's a terrible thought. I mostly didn't really mean it but my attitude was not at its peak and I was feeling pretty inwardly snarky. Anyway, as I was thinking that, a new thought flew into it's place. "Can you trade your perspective in for a kinder, more thankful one that isn't so negative and angry?"

I had to laugh. It appeared I had a choice to make. I could trade in my kids or I could trade in my perspective. It got me thinking about all the joy my little ones bring. They are so animated and funny, they bring light to just about every situation. There is no smile more enchanting than my little guy when he is sees me after I've left (and by left I mean left the room for 5 minutes) and there is no laugh more contagious than my toddler's belly giggles. Oh my, just thinking about them makes me grin! There is no way I'd give all that up for more sleep!

Honestly, no matter how much of a capitalized and italicized day we are having (it might even have some question and exclamation marks thrown in for good measure), our perspective is what is going to make us or break us. We have the choice to dwell in the dark thoughts and angry hearts or to do the hard thing on those hard days and make the trek up to higher ground. It might be a muddy walk and it might take all the strength we have, but we can see a whole lot more from this new perspective. Our hearts become more filled, our thoughts tend towards the beauty in our life, and our attitudes become more thankful and gracious.

So on those days when mothering sounds kind of like a dirty word to you and you can't think of a single thing to be happy about, trade in your perspective. It may not change your circumstances (or your little one's diapers!), but it will change you. And that, my friend, is a great place to begin.

This week I am linking up with B Inspired Mama (Where I was featured this week!!), Mom's Morning Coffee, Messy Marriage, Mom's The WordSimple Moments Stick, and We Are That Family!

Friday, January 2, 2015

January Goals

~More Laughing, More Praising, More Face-to-Facing, More Contentment, More Serving, More Joy~

What's Happening This Month??? 

Project:  My project this month is to chalkboard paint my pantry door...finally! 

Reading:  "Own Your Life" by Sally Clarkson

Something Fun w/ The Kiddos:  The kiddos and I will be headed to the aquarium with some good friends this month so we can get the winter wiggles out!

Something Fun w/ The Hubs: Hubs and I are going to spend a wintery afternoon this month in the warmth of Barnes & Noble, perusing the pages, finding a book to read together, and playing card-games over coffee. Sound perfect to me!

Mini-Goal of the Month: Cut WAY down on sugar intake...make it a game to see how many meals and snacks I can create with little to no added sugar.

Recipes to Try:

So, what are your goals this month? I'd love to hear them! 


See, I am doing a new thing. Now it springs up, do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. ~Isaiah 43:19