Thursday, October 31, 2013

Changing My Perspective. Literally.

P31 OBS Blog Hop

I suppose it's no coincidence that one of this week's P31 Blog Hop topics is "changing my perspective."

Here's the assignment:

"Has the pain of your past ever made it hard for you to believe God’s promises and plans for your future? What do you sense He wants to change in your perspective? (p. 82, Q1)"

One of the major "pains" in my past is regret and guilt. I agonize over decisions I've made in the past - people I didn't keep in touch with, trips I didn't take, degrees I decided not to pursue, jobs I turned down to stay at home with my kids. Just about every major decision I've made feels like it has some kind of a string of regret tied to it - even the decisions I'm happy with! Crazy, eh?

Earlier this week, on Monday to be exact, I learned something really valuable about perspective. And vision. And hindsight.

At a doctor's appointment, I learned that my physical vision is in jeopardy. My lupus journey is taking me down a road of decreasing vision and possible future blindness.

After listening to the doctor explain "worst case scenarios," I had a moment of clarity.

I've spent so much time in the last few years looking back, living in the past, trying to answer the "what-if's" that I missed so many opportunities to open my eyes and really see all the blessings God's had in front of me along my journey.

Right then and there, I felt the strings tying me to the pains of my past loosen and begin to slip away.

Later, as I reflected on the appointment, I started praying for a permanent release from the pains caused by past decisions. As I've continued praying that prayer this week, I've been amazed by the difference in my perspective. I've found myself loving more freely, noticing more beauty and feeling more peaceful and relaxed.

This lesson this week is one of the many reasons I love the Proverbs 31 Ministry Bible studies. I continue to learn so much from each book we read and from all the wonderful ladies involved in these studies.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Mommyhood Monday: 3 Encouraging Books for Moms

Ahhh, Fall!

The leaves are changing, the pumpkin spice lattes are brewing and temperatures are dropping.

I love snuggling up on the couch with good books throughout the year, but my favorite "reading season" is Fall. Hands down, no question. There's just something about the cool weather that makes me want to throw on a pair of sweats and pick up a good book.

My favorite genres are ....

... almost all of them :)

Seriously, I just love to read. Fiction, non-fiction, obscure authors nobody's ever heard of. I read fairly quickly and I'm happy to give just about anything a try.

Since this is a "mommyhood Monday" post (meant to offer some weekly encouragement to all you mamas out there), I thought I'd share my top three picks for those of you looking for some comfort and encouragement this Fall ...

1. Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach.

I love books with daily reading plans. They're great for the days where I can only carve out a few minutes for a quick read - and this one is particularly awesome. Each day has a topic, with a daily thought/reflection and often a daily activity of some sort that goes along with the theme.

Today's topic is "comparisons" and the reading focuses on the destructive power of envy and how/why we (as women) should work to overcome these self-inflicted obstacles in our lives.

2. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.

This is one of my favorite books on my Kindle and I read it often. It's a novel, written by a Christian author and set in mid-1800's California (during the "gold rush" era), that details one man's love for a prostitute he rescues from a brothel.

Ok, ok. Sounds super cheesy, right? I thought so too! And then I read it.

And then I found out it's based on an actual Bible story - of Gomer and Hosea.

Whenever I need a reminder of how much God loves us, in a redemptive, all-consuming, everlasting and unconditional way, I reread this book.

3. Stressed-Less Living by Tracie Miles.

Another great read, currently living on my Kindle. The title on this one is pretty self-explanatory :)

The author, a former corporate executive, shares her journey through stress and back, and offers practical tips to help other women live a "stressed-less" life.

I studied this with Proverbs 31 Ministry's online Bible study group earlier this year and it was an awesome study. The book offers practical advice, along with self-study questions that really get you thinking about the material and how you can apply it to your life.

So, there you go, friends!

Enjoy your Fall reading!

P.S. The links to the books above are all affiliate links - meaning - if you purchase any of the books after clicking the links, I'll get a small (very small!) cut of the profit from Amazon. Anything we make from these sales goes straight into our annual fundraising fund. In 2013, that fund will benefit Zambikes, an awesome organization that makes/sells bikes made from bamboo in Africa. Click here to check 'em out!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Mommyhood Monday: 5 Reasons You're a Great Mom (yes, You!)

Hi Friend!

You're a great mom! 

Yes, you! 

I don't know you, but I bet you: 

1. Gave your kids the gift of life

Whether you had a c-section, a natural birth, a home birth, a hospital birth, an early birth, a late birth, a surrogate birth, or supported another mother's birth through the gift of adoption, you played a vital role in bringing your child into this world. 

Whether you breastfed, bottle-fed, or maybe simply forgot a few feedings along the way, you nourished your babies in a way no one else on the planet could. 

You're a great mom. 

I bet you.... 

2. Love your kids.

Let me guess - you've got at least 100 pictures of your treasures online, on your wall, on your desk, on your nightstand, on your refrigerator. You burst with pride and can't wait to tell others about their latest accomplishment. 

You'll get up out of bed to care for them during a spell of sickness, and when you're sick, you'll stay out of your own bed to head to an early Saturday morning soccer game or cheerleading practice. 

You're a great mom. 

I bet you... 

3. Make the very best decisions for your family that you can

Whether you stay-at-home, work-from-home, work-outside-the-home, or work-from-a-coffee-shop, you've wrestled over the decision. You've asked yourself whether you should sacrifice - by staying home, or by working - to give your family "more." More time, more money, more vacations, more ____ (fill in the blank). You've wrestled those demons to the ground, made your decision, and might be living with some guilt. 

But, you're doing the very best you can. And the very best that you know how to do. 

You're a great mom. 

I bet you... 

4. Help your kids grow in so many ways.

You might have a baby, who's eating homemade food you prepare; or a kindergartener who's going to a special preschool that can accomodate the needs that make her truly special and exceptional because you'll make the longer drive; or a middle schooler you support by sitting through band practice three nights a week; or a high schooler getting ready to accept a college chess scholarship, thanks to all the money you sacrificed for chess camp; or an adult child living half-way around the world who you continue to pray for around the clock, blessing her as she starts her own family. 

You're a great mom. 

I bet you... 

5. Desire to help them have the very best future possible.

You sacrifice. It'd be so easy to buy that extra handbag for yourself, instead of the backpack that will help your son's first day at a new school just a little easier. You choose that backpack with a smile. Because you know school is important. And that setting your son up for success is way more important that a fashion trend. (related side note: I'm also not knocking fashion - I love fashion! - but hopefully you see my point here :)   ) 

You skip. The TV show you'd like to watch, to help with homework. Or create a Candyland memory. 

You share. The last bite. The blanket. The pain inflicted by the classroom bully. The pain upon discovery that your precious treasure has become the bully. Your prayers. Your tears. Every part of your energy you can to make sure your kids become great adults. 

You support. The weird sports that you know nothing about. The odd clothes choices. The purple hair. The way-too-blond hair. The short skirt (ok, don't really support that). You support your kids as they move through every phase of childhood and transition into adulthood. 

You're a great mom.

So on those rough days that are inevitable along the mothering journey, remember: 

God loves you.

He gave you your precious kids for a very good reason.

He'll never leave you, or forsake you. 

He has a plan for your future and your kids' futures. Which includes whatever's going on today - at this exact moment, in this exact place along your journey.

Praying for you, sweet friend, that as you read these words, you will know, somewhere deep in your heart, that .....





Have a wonderful day! 

Mommy Wars: Biblical or No?

In the last week, I've seen "mommy bloggers" call other moms: 
- "real food elitists" 
- "brainless idiots"
- "degree-wasters" 
- "mindless drones" 
- "liberal hacks"
- "conservative crazies"

And those were just comments on a few blogs I read regularly! All were written by women who profess salvation in Christ. 

I'm definitely not here to question anyone's salvation - that's between each person and Jesus. However, I am here to question whether or not these negative posts deserve any place on a Christian blog.

Because, friends, these "mommy wars?" They sure aren't Biblical. 

Biblically, we're called to:

- Build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
- Encourage each other (Hebrews 10:25)
- Be kind and compassionate toward each other (Ephesians 4:32)
- Accept each other, as Christ accepted us (Romans 15:7)
- Live in harmony (1 Peter 3:8)
- Love one another (1 John 4:7)

So to all my mommy blogger friends out there - please watch what you type. Pray about your posts before you click "publish." Ask yourself if you'd still post them if Jesus were your editor. 

Let's collectively agree to use this space in an effort to reach people for Christ, not drive them away. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Mommyhood Monday: 3 Best Parent Raps Online

This week, I'm starting a new weekly series here on my blog, called "Mommyhood Monday." Each post will celebrate the awesomeness, excitement and (often) ridiculousness that comes into your life the minute you become a parent. My goal is to pass along something fun, something positive, something encouraging to help you start your week off on a good note.

So, without further adieu...

I'm starting this week with my top three favorite parent raps!

Because, how can you go wrong with a little back beat to start your work week.

Don't be afraid to dance around and laugh out loud!

The first is a 2010 Toyota commercial. It may not have been the original parenting rap, but it sure seemed to jumpstart the craze that led to the other two on the list.

Favorite line from this one:

"Back when, I used to party as a college chick, not I'm cruisin' to their playdates lookin' all slick..."

Next up is another car commercial, this time for Fiat in Great Britain, posted in 2012.

My favorite line:

"We used to talk about our lives, now the conversation switches. We compare Cesarean scars, episiotomy stitches..."  

Last one on this list, also from 2012, isn't a commercial, but is still super creative and really funny!

Favorite line:

"When it comes to CandyLand, I'm a stone cold playa, helpin' out with the homework, I'm an algebra slaya..."

Props to all the actors in these videos for totally "selling it" in each of these!

How about you? Have you seen any great parenting rap, or parenting parody, videos online these days? If you have, please link to them in the comments below, so we can all laugh together :)

Have a great week, friends!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

"Bloom Where You Are Planted" 2014 Calendar

We've lived in the Netherlands (land of famous tulips) for two and a half years now - and every Spring, I've been blessed with the opportunity to take pictures like this...

And this...

Gorgeous, right?

They truly are breathtaking up close!

I've taken literally hundreds of tulip pics while we've been here - and our friends and family have been trying to talk me into "doing something" with them! Well, this year, I am!

I put 12 of the best photos into a 2014 calendar that I'm calling "Bloom Where You Are Planted" and all funds raised this year will benefit Just Moved! Ministry.

This gorgeous calendar would make a great gift for the gardener in your life! 

This content requires Adobe Flash Player version 9.0.45 or greater. Get Flash

Just Moved helps women through times of transition, like moving, by supporting them with books, groups and prayer support.

Just Moved groups and books have helped me through two moves - and will be helping me through my next one (in January!) I'm sure!

More than $15 from each calendar sale will be donated directly to Just Moved - and you can order the calendar directly from the publisher! No need to wait on me, or send me money personally or anything like that - you can order using the link above.

If for some reason the preview isn't work, click here for a direct link.

Happy shopping - and thank you in advance for your support!