Tuesday, March 30, 2010

SAHM + Spring = Sanity

I love the first winter snow.

I love having a white Christmas.

The snow can add a lot of fun to the winter months.

However, after 4 1/2 months of being in the house with a preschooler. . .it is time for the snow to go away.

The past two days have been beautiful. The sun has been shining and the snow is almost gone.

Yesterday my little one and I sat on the deck having a picnic of Mac & Cheese and Strawberries. I took a deep breath and smiled. I remembered why I love being a stay-at-home mom so very much. It is amazing what a little sunshine and fresh air can do for a mom and a preschooler.

Today I am enjoying the beauty of Spring. It is so fitting that this season of new life is coming on this Holy Week. So I am not only celebrating spring and the sanity that comes from spending time out in the fresh air. I am also celebrating the most amazing gift that I have ever been given, new life in Christ. As I sit here and think about it, I take a deep breath and I smile.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Palm Branches and a Picnic

Yesterday I had one of those mom moments. I know you have had them. You have something all planned out and then chaos ensues. You throw your plan out the window and go with it. Whatever "it" happens to be.

Well yesterday I had one of these mom moments.

I told my husband that I wanted to have a special supper for Palm Sunday. In the Gospels it talks about Lazurus holding a special supper in honor of Jesus on Palm Sunday. I wanted to do the same and talk to the girls about the upcoming Easter week.

When we came out of church I realized that this lovely supper I wanted to have was going to have to be a picnic. It was 66 degrees in South Dakota. In the spring 66 degrees=Summer weather.

I knew that no one was going to be coming inside until dark. So I nixed getting out the good dishes and making a fancy supper to honor Jesus. I grabbed the picnic blanket and we grilled.

I wanted to start out reading the girls "Little Colt's Palm Sunday". One short little story about Jesus riding in on the donkey and everyone praising Him.

It started out peacefully. . .by the end I was gritting my teeth saying, "I am just trying to teach you something about Jesus." (It didn't help that Daddy kept sneaking in the screen door to check out the score of the Basketball game during the story.) I love him, but he really wasn't helping.

The story was read, we actually had a nice discussion about Palm Sunday and we had a great picnic.

The best part came at the end. A friend gave me extra palm branches from her church. My kids don't do this at our church so they didn't know what to think of them at first. But, it didn't take them long to start parading around the backyard praising Jesus and honoring Him.

I tell myself they learned something, even in the chaos. I just need to remind myself that with kids, sometimes there is no such thing as a plan.

I am linking up with Sarah at Real Life Blog for Your Life, Your Blog. Head over and check out more great posts.

Friday, March 26, 2010

What is so Good about Friday?

A couple of days ago I was visiting with my middle daughter about not having school on Good Friday and Easter Monday. She said, "What is Good Friday?" I told her that it is the day that Jesus died on the cross.

She had a puzzled look on her face and said, "Why is it called Good Friday, it is not good that they killed Jesus."

We talked about how it really is a good thing that He died because He saved us from our sins with His death on the cross.

She said, "Still, It shouldn't be called Good."

We always try to really focus on Jesus at Easter and not all of the commercialization of the Easter Bunny. Our girls do get to have an Easter Egg Hunt and they do get Easter baskets, but the focus of both is always on Christ.

We follow our Easter Egg Hunt with Resurrection Eggs and their Easter baskets have new books to encourage their faith.

Yesterday we got out the Easter tote so I could put up a few decorations. Nadia saw the plastic eggs and her eyes lit up. I knew at this point I was in trouble. She decided to have an Easter egg hunt with her stuffed animals in the living room. Too bad the animals can't really find all the eggs she has hidden.

She saw the Resurrection eggs and thought she needed to check them out. I told her to be really careful and she could only open one egg at a time. She got to the egg with the piece of leather and asked, "What is this?" I told her that it represents the leather whips that they used to hurt Jesus.

Later when we came back to the table for lunch she realized that she hadn't put the leather strip away. She said, "Look mom, it is the whipper." We both laughed and I put it away.

Last night I was reading the account of the last days of Jesus life on earth in John. I have read that story so many times, but do I really read it? Do I really take the time to think about the significance of those days. Do I really understand the importance of Good Friday and Easter?

At home we are going to focus on the events on each of the days leading up to Easter. I will be sharing them over at Unforgettable Childhood next week. There are a couple of yummy Easter treats over there now.

How do you celebrate Easter with your kids?

Thursday, March 25, 2010


This week I have been praying for something that I have never gave a lot of thought to in the past, human trafficking. Kristi Stephens has a series right now on her blog titled Redeemed. Gillian Ferwerda of Women at Risk, International has been sharing amazing stories.

The frightening thing is that human trafficking happens in the United States, too.

I encourage you to visit Krisi's site and read some of these stories. I also ask for you to pray for the women and children that are involved in human trafficking.

Also take some time to visit Women at Risk, International.

Thank you Kristi for opening my eyes and sharing these stories.

Monday, March 22, 2010


I just got home yesterday from spending a nice long weekend at my parent's home. It was wonderful. I have a very close family and it is always a comfort to be surrounded by them.

Being in their home takes me back to my childhood and so many memories. My mom and dad have a house filled with memories.

The inheritance I will receive from my parent's is one that is filled with love.

It makes me think of my own children and the inheritance I will pass on to them someday.

While I was at my parent's home I read the book of 1 Peter. One of the first verses that I read was 1 Peter 1:3-6

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

Money, Antiques, any material things will not matter. I hope to leave my children with a legacy of faith. I hope that through my life they will see that I lived my life for Jesus Christ.

What inheritance do you hope to leave your children?

Gather Inspirit

I have been busy over the last week. . .

I am working with nine amazing ladies on a new site! It is titled Gather Inspirit.

The site will be live later this week. But for now you can check out the forum. The forum is a place to meet other Christian Women Bloggers, add Prayer Requests, and more. If you are attending The Relevant Conference in October you can get to know the other attendees, find roommates, etc.

I will let you know when the site goes live. It is going to be an amazing place to be Inspired. Encouraged. Uplifted.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Start Here

I passed up my first opportunity to read the book Start Here by Alex and Brett Harris because it is a book for teens on how they can be Rebelutionary (yes that is the correct spelling I will explain more later). Since my oldest is nine and I am not involved with the teens at my church I didn't think I would get anything from it.

When I received a second e-mail from Staci at Waterbrook Multnomah about copies still being available I decided I would read it. I am so glad that I did.

This book may be targeted at teens and young twenty-somethings, but it is a book that even me a 32 year-old benefited from greatly.

The first book by the Harris brothers titled Do Hard Things was all about challenging peers to rebel against low expectations and rediscover the true purpose and potential of the teen years.

This second book Start Here is a guidebook on where to start making a difference, and questions you should ask yourself before you start to do hard things for God.

I am in the process of doing one of those hard things for God and this book is exactly what I needed to read. Within the first few pages I read a statement that said, "Being a rebelutionary means committing to doing even ordinary things extraordinarily well. As each of us is faithful in that, God will e faithful to prepare us for whatever calling He has for us." The title of this section was Pursuing Faithfulness, Not Success.

That statement stopped me in my tracks. Everything I do should be based on being faithful to God, not on achieving success for me.

I highly recommend this book to anyone with teens or that works with teens. I also recommend it for you. It may be a book geared towards teens, but anyone striving to good work for God will benefit from this book.

Here is a little more about the book and the authors.
This highly anticipated companion to Do Hard Things is filled with stories and insights from Alex and Brett Harris and other rebelutionaries who are making a difference right where they are. Start Here is a powerful and practical guide for young people who are ready to blast past apathy and “do hard things” for the glory of God.

Alex and Brett Harris are the coauthors of the best-selling book Do Hard Things, which they wrote at age eighteen. Today the twins speak regularly to audiences of thousands on The Rebelution Tour, maintain a hugely popular online presence through their blog, TheRebelution.com, and have been featured on CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and in the New York Times. Raised in Portland, Oregon, the brothers currently attend Patrick Henry College in Virginia.

You can read their blog here. You can buy an autographed copy of the book here!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Whisper from God

It is late and I should be in bed.

But, I am not. I am sitting up and enjoying the quiet of the house.

I am at my parent's home. A place that to me will always be home. When I walk through the door to their house a weight is lifted and I can breathe. I always feel at peace, no matter what else is going on.

However, last night I couldn't sleep. Tonight, I am not ready to sleep. I have a lot on my mind and on my heart.

Earlier this week I wrote about restoration and how God Himself will restore me and make me strong, firm and steadfast.(see 1 Peter 5:10)

Today, I do feel stronger. I feel like God is stirring me to accomplish more. I am trying to be quiet and listen. Sometimes it feels like I am missing what He is trying to say. But most of the time, that is because I am not really being quiet, I am not really listening.

I just read a passage from 1 Kings 19 about Elijah. He was ready to give up. He wanted to die. Nothing seemed to be going his way. But God, He wasn't willing to let Elijah give up. It says in the Message Bible an Angel said to him, "Go, stand on the mountain at attention before God. God will pass by." A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn't to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn't in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn't in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper.

God didn't come to Elijah in a hurricane, or in an earthquake, or in the fire. God came in the quiet. He spoke to him in a gentle whisper.

I am enjoying to quiet of the house tonight, patiently waiting to hear God speak in a gentle whisper.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Right Call

One of my favorite authors is back with The Right Call. I am still reading this one so I will review it when I finish it. Below you can check out a summary of the book. . .

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

The Right Call

David C. Cook; New edition (March 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, of The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Kathy Herman is a best-selling suspense novelist who has written fifteen novels since retiring from her family’s Christian bookstore business. Kathy and her husband, Paul, have three grown children and five grandchildren and live in Tyler, Texas. This is the third title in the Sophie Trace trilogy, which also includes The Real Enemy, and The Last Word.

Visit the author's website.

The Right Call, by Kathy Herman from David C. Cook on Vimeo.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (March 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434767841
ISBN-13: 978-1434767844


Drew Langley jumped at the loud thud upstairs and resisted the temptation to bang on the wall and dispel the roaring laughter that followed. Was he the only student in the apartment building still studying for finals?

A warm breeze rattled the blinds, and he closed his eyes, inhaling the intoxicating fragrance of magnolia blossoms wafting from the south campus of Stanton College. It took every ounce of discipline he could muster not to close his books and give in to the lure of spring.

He heard rubber soles on the hardwood floor and lifted his gaze as his roommate came to a quick stop in front of the mirror over the worn living-room sofa.

Tal Davison wet his fingers and smoothed his hair. “I see you’re still studying. I guess that means you’re not coming.”

“To what? I thought you had a date.”

“Why do you make me tell you everything twice? You’re worse than my grandmother.”

Drew put down his pencil. “Sorry, I’ve been focused on other things. Tell me again. I’m listening.”

Tal came and stood in the doorway of Drew’s bedroom, his arms folded across his chest. “I’m going over to Henry’s for a junk-food buffet and beer. You’re invited.”

“Thanks. But I really need to study for my English lit final. It’s next week, and I’ve got chapters of catching up to do.”

“Suit yourself. I’m brain-dead. I couldn’t learn another thing if you paid me.” Tal started to go and then stopped. “Listen, thanks again for letting me move in here for the last few weeks. It’s nice sharing an apartment that doesn’t reek of marijuana. I hope I haven’t been as big a pain as your other roommate.” He shot Drew a half smile.

Drew leaned back and folded his arms. “Hey, not at all, man. I hope you don’t think I’ve been ignoring you. It’s just that I have to keep up the grades. No four-oh, no scholarship. There’s no way I can afford to attend Stanton without it.” I don’t have a rich father footing the bill.

“Doesn’t it cramp your style to go to college in Sophie Trace? Your parents are pretty close by, aren’t they?”

“Thanks to the scholarship I can live off campus. That’s all the independence I need. It’s nice going home whenever I want. My parents really help me stay on track.” Drew studied Tal’s expression.

“I take it you wish your dad wasn’t so close?”

Tal got quiet for a moment and seemed to be somewhere else. “He’s much too busy to breathe down my neck. And he doesn’t care about my grades as long as I pass and he can tell his cronies that his namesake’s attending his alma mater and is going to work for him after graduation.”

“Is that so bad?”

“I just wish he cared more about me and less about his image. I’m not sure I can ever measure up to his expectations.”

“Come on, man. You’ve got it made in the shade. All you have to do is get through one more year, and he’ll hand you the job of a lifetime. I thought you were pumped about it.”

Tal flashed a crooked smile. “I’m trying to be. It’s my big chance to make Dad proud of me. It’s all he’s talked about for years. But there’s a lot of pressure, learning to run a big corporation. The closer I get, the more intimidated I feel.”

“He must think you can do it, Tal. There’s a lot at stake for him, too.” Even if he is handing it to you on a silver platter.

“Maybe I’ll buy a little time after I graduate—tell Dad I’m burned-out and need to backpack across Europe for a while before I jump into the corporate world.”

A grin tugged at Drew’s cheeks. “Then you’d need someone to babysit your Hummer. Can I apply for the job? Man, I wish I’d been there when your dad had it delivered to your birthday party.”

“It was an awesome way to turn twenty-one, all right. But I’d trade it in a heartbeat for a relationship with my dad like you have with yours.”

“I guess I take it for granted.”

“Well, don’t,” Tal said. “I can’t remember the last time I sat down and had a real conversation with mine. He’s either working himself to death or hiding out at the lake house with wife number four—the fashion model who’s got silicone for brains.”

“I didn’t realize she was his fourth wife.”

“And she’s pregnant with daughter number seven. Maybe he’s going for the record.”

“Yeah, but you’re still his only son. And you and your mother are close.”

“Not in proximity. She’s spending a lot of time in New York with her boyfriend. He deals in fine art, and she likes to go to the auctions with him. I doubt I’ll see her anytime soon.”

Drew shifted his weight. Why hadn’t Tal mentioned before that his mother was seeing someone?

“Actually, I’m happy for her,” Tal said. “And I don’t mind sharing her Nashville house with the maid, the cook, and the butler. I’ll lie around the pool and read sci-fi novels and give my brain a rest. I’m so burned-out I can’t stand to think about another year of studying.”

“You’ll be ready to hit it again in the fall. Just think how good you’ll feel when you get your degree.”

Tal smiled wryly. “Would you believe my dad’s executive bonus last year was ten million? I must be nuts not to be more excited about the job.”

No kidding. “So why aren’t you?”

“I don’t know … my dad’s ruthless. And the company takes precedence over everyone and everything. I want more out of life than that.”

“I hear you. But if it were me, I’d at least try it long enough to earn a couple million and then go do whatever I wanted.“

“I’ve thought of that.” Tal stood up straight, the result of his beer drinking and bingeing hanging over his belt. “But I have a feeling that once Dad has me under his thumb, I’ll never get out from under. What I really want to do is go to the police academy.”

“Have you told him how you feel?”

“I tried. But Dad doesn’t really care how I feel. It’s my duty as his only son to keep the family business going. If I turn my back on that, he’ll basically disown me. Not that we’re close now, but it’s hard to think of having no dad. Hey, enough serious talk. It’s party time. Sure you don’t want to come?”

“Yeah, I’ve got to hit the books. Who’s your designated driver?”

“Don’t need one. I’m walking.”

“You think that’s smart? Henry’s neighborhood isn’t exactly the safest part of town.”

“I’ll be fine. But I’ll tell you what”—Tal laughed and tossed his keys to Drew—“if I don’t make it back alive, the Hummer’s all yours.”

©2010 Cook Communications Ministries. The Right Call by Kathy Herman. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Simplifying For Sanity #1 Master Bedroom

I really wanted to do my living room this week. . .

But, on Wednesday 1400 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies embarked upon my house and well, there were cookies everywhere. So I decided to do the Master Bedroom. This is how it looked last week. . .

I had my work cut out for me.

I threw a lot of stuff away. I bagged up a few things for the Thrift Store. I put away the clean clothes and washed the dirty ones. I found every little toy and book, etc. that my little ones had brought to my room and I put them away.

Here is my finished product.

I know, the closet door is closed. My husband has a few things in there that he needs to sort out. I am boycotting doing it for him. Once he does his part I will post a pic of the clean closet, too. I promise.

I am not only cleaning and decluttering rooms, I am also working on my life. If you have a chance, check out my restoration post. I am so thankful that God isn't finished with me yet.


I was sitting in church yesterday listening to special music and the 23rd Psalm popped into my head. Not the whole verse, just this line. . ."he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul."

The two words that were really on my heart were Quiet and Restores.

My quiet time has been sporadic lately. (which is probably why I have been struggling) I will grab my Bible here and there, but I am always in a hurry to move on to my next task.

Last night I sat down with my Bible and wanted to focus on restoration. I found this verse in 1 Peter 5:10.

"And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast."

I sat and just soaked up these words. I have been struggling. Yet at the same time I have been feeling pulled and stretched by God. This morning I woke up feeling refreshed and confident. This one little verse opened my eyes.

I may be struggling a little. I may feel like I am suffering. However, this verse assures me that I am on the path to restoration. In the end I will be strong, firm and steadfast. This verse was all I need to know that God is standing right beside me and in the end everything is going to be okay.

I am linking to Emily's Tuesdays Unwrapped over at Chatting at the Sky. I am unwrapping the gift of Restoration. God is so Good.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Sons of Thunder

Susan May Warren is one of my favorite authors. I have had the opportunity to review four of her books and I love all of them. Last night I sat down to read her Sons of Thunder book and I didn't go to bed until I read the last page.

Sons of Thunder is a book one in her new Brothers in Arms Collection. I cannot wait for more books in this series.

In the first pages I was drawn in to the characters in the book. I really enjoyed how she had it in sections focusing on each of the characters. This book left me wondering where it would go and who would end up being the hero in the end.

Thank you so much Litfuse Publicity for the opportunity to read this book. Here is a little more about the book from Litfuse.

Sophie Frangos is torn between the love of two men and the promise that binds them all together. Markos Stavros loves Sophie from afar while battling his thirst for vengeance and his hunger for honor. Dino, his quiet and intelligent brother, simply wants to forget the horror that drove them from their Greek island home to start a new life in America. One of these “sons of thunder” offers a future she longs for, the other—the past she lost.

From the sultry Chicago jazz clubs of the roaring twenties to the World War II battlefields of Europe to a final showdown in a Greek island village, they’ll discover betrayal, sacrifice, and finally redemption. Most of all, when Sophie is forced to make her choice, she’ll learn that God honors the promises made by the Sons of Thunder.

Go to Litfuse Publicity for information on a great contest from Susan May Warren.

You can purchase the book here!

Friday, March 12, 2010

New Friend Friday

The Girl Creative

My wonderful friend Diana over at The Girl Creative is starting a fun way to end the week with New Friend Friday. Bloggers are linking up and sharing their sites. I have only visited two so far and they were both wonderful!

I wrote about relationships on Tuesday. I am still really thinking about them and how I need to focus on them. It is so easy to get "too busy" for the people that you love, and it is so sad when we do.

Last night I got to spend some time with an old friend. It was so much fun. It reminded my husband and I again that we have to make time for our relationships. We need our friends.

Welcome to any new friends from The Girl Creative's "New Friend Friday"!

And for all of you that are stopping by for a read and you are not new here. . .remember, you mean the world to me.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I Love You To the Moon and Back

I just finished a book that has me sobbing. My heart is broken for a little boy named Cole. A little boy that didn't live to see his fourth birthday. A little boy that went from running and playing and fishing to laying in a hospital bed with cancer.

When Debbie Lykins from Side Door Communications contacted me about reviewing this book, I knew it would not be an easy one to read. I sat down this morning to read it and I am so glad that I did.

If you have been reading any of my last couple of posts, you know that I have been struggling. Struggling to find my place, and I have been burdened about relationships.

God is using this story of a little boy to get my focus back on HIm and on what is really important.

This book is an amazing story from Cole's father Aaron Ruotsala. He shares his Caring Bridge Site updates and his thoughts as his little boy loses his eight-week battle with cancer.

I highly recommend his book to you. Cole's story will change your life.

Here is a summary of the book from C.O.L.E's Foundation Website.

Cole... I Love You to the Moon and Back
Aaron Dean Ruotsala, 24-year-old husband, father, business owner, and pilot shares a true story about a heart-wrenching experience he calls the best and worst experience of a lifetime. This story will provoke you to laughter, tears, and cause you to examine yourself and your role as a human on this temporal journey. His prayer is that all who read this amazing story will learn from the experience in which they had no choice, to realize that when life brings you to the darkest, deepest, loneliest point imaginable, you will recognize what really matters in life. So, please laugh, cry, share, examine, and mostly enjoy this book that is certain to make you ask the question: “What if this happened to me?” The reality is that it could.


It’s amazing how God used a single event to speak to and transform the lives of thousands of people. Three-year-old Cole Ruotsala’s short eight-week battle with cancer and his ultimate death, was one such event. The story of this brave little man and his courage and compassion through the toughest of times, is a touching example of God’s love and strength in the face of death. Also, the honesty with which it is written will make you face some important questions in your life. I know that you will be encouraged and challenged by this book.

You can purchase a copy of the book here.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Wake Up Call from God

Yesterday I wrote about struggling. Then yesterday my husband received a phone call about an old friend that brought me to my knees.

My husband and I spent a lot of time talking about life and our relationships.

You see, he received a phone call about two months ago that he didn't get back to returning. Today, he realizes that he had a friend that needed him and he was "too busy" to reach out to him.

Last week I talked to one of my best friends from High School for the first time in two years. How does that happen?

Why do we let the busyness of life come before the people that mean the most to us?

My husband said to me, "What does it mean when nothing surprises you anymore? Is it really that it doesn't surprise you or does it mean you just don't care?"

Isn't it amazing how with one phone call God can give you a wake up call.

Life doesn't just have to happen. We can make a difference.

Today I am Unwrapping the gift of Friendship. I have been blessed with amazing friends in my life. I am celebrating them today. I have some phone calls to make today, some letters to be written and some relationships to mend.

I am joining Emily at Chatting at the Sky for Tuesdays Unwrapped. You can go and read about other women that are unwrapping the gift of everyday.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Struggling Again. . .

I am struggling.

There I said it. I know that I am, I have been extremely stressed the past few weeks. One of those I can't really talk about it kind of stress. I will share more soon, I hope.

Last night I decided that I would get up early and make some muffins for my family and have some quiet time to prepare myself for the day. Well, I did get out of bed, have a cup of coffee and some quiet time before anyone woke up. I was patient when I got my girls up this morning, even though they really wanted to stay in bed.

Then the girls started to wake up. Sometimes in the morning they are not very nice to each other. In turn, I get really crabby. This morning was not really any different than any other day. There were tears, there was a little yelling. . .there were apologies.

Does anyone else have Mondays like these?

The older girls are off to school. I am mad at myself for another not so wonderful morning. But, I have to brush it off and tell myself that tomorrow I get another chance.

I am still working on my Mamavation Goals. My vacation to Disney World is getting closer and it is time to get serious again about getting healthy. Two months and two weeks until I am going to be relaxing in the Florida sun.

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Tonight Pete Cohen will be joining the Mamavation Chat. If you need motivation, like I do, check it out. He will motivate you.

My friend Chele over at The Bonafide Life devotes Mondays to Goal Gathering. I keep telling her I am going to join in, so today I am going to share my goals for the week.

So here are my goals for the week:
Exercise! (My hubby has been really busy with work so I have not been getting to the gym. When Dora the Explorer is done, I am taking back the TV to do my EA SportsActive)

Sleep (Lately I have been getting to bed at about midnight and then getting up at 6:30. I need more sleep.)

Home Organization (My focus this week is the bedrooms.)

Quiet Time (If I get to bed at night, this should be a little easier to accomplish in the morning before my kids are awake.)

I am so thankful that everyday is a new day. I am so thankful for second, third. . .chances. I am thankful that my girls go to school and forget all about the crazy mornings. I am thankful for the amazing women that will read this post and give me a little push to get motivated again.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Book Giveaways & Reviews

I have learned so much on my Christian walk by reading stories and testimony from other women. So recently I took the opportunity from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing to review two books on relationships as a daughter and with a daughter. As a mother of three daughters the topics of both of these books intrigued me.

The first book was titled Dancing with My Father by Sally Clarkson. In this book Sally shares stories from her life and her journey to find Joy in her Heavenly Father. She has questions to help you dig deeper into your own personal journey. She shares her stories to show us that we can also experience joy by trusting God to lead us in the dance of life.

Here is a little more about the book from Waterbrook Multnomah:
The reality of living in a broken, fallen world can leave women feeling overcome by fear, guilt, and weariness. Many develop “sawdust souls,” numb to any sense of joy.

In this warm and wise book, author Sally Clarkson invites readers to take God’s hand and let Him lead them into a life of anticipation, passion, and purpose. With the voice of a trusted mentor, she reveals how, by getting in tune with the rhythm of God’s presence, women can nurture an inner attitude of anticipation and celebration even in the stressful seasons of life.

Through rich biblical insights woven with real-life stories, women will be inspired to recapture a spirit of joy as they follow God’s lead on the dance floor of life.

Sally Clarkson is a popular speaker, known across the nation and internationally for her work with women. She is the author of several books, including The Mission of Motherhood, The Ministry of Motherhood, and Seasons of a Mother’s Heart. She has worked in various ministries, including Campus Crusade for Christ. With her husband, Clay, she is cofounder of Whole Heart Ministries, which encourages and equips Christian parents. The Clarksons, parents of four, live near Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The second book was Mother-Daughter Duet by Cheri Fuller and Ali Plum. This book is about getting to the relationship you want with Your Adult Daughter. I was reading it as the Adult daughter, since my girls are still small. There is a lot of good insight in this book that is beneficial as the daughter and for my future with my own girls. I have always had a very open line of communication and I pray that I will always have that with my own girls. If you are a daughter or a mother of girls, this book is worth the read.

Here is a little more about the book:
When a daughter is born, her mother has a thousand hopes and dreams for her, especially that they will be best friends one day.

Unfortunately, even the best of intentions can go awry. There are so many challenges on the journey to adult friendship that the reality is fraught with friction
and frustration. But a harmonious relationship is possible.

Award-winning author Cheri Fuller and her daughter, Ali Plum, have been there and have discovered the keys to a healthy relationship. In Mother-Daughter Duet they share their story—each from her own perspective—in which they have experienced distance and tension, growth and challenge, and, ultimately, acceptance and harmony. Filled with personal anecdotes and based on several basic principles (letting go; listening; respect; setting boundaries; and more), Mother-Daughter Duet helps moms repair the breach so that daughters want to draw close.

The mother-daughter dynamic is intense, personal, complex, and unique. But mothers and daughters can achieve mutual respect and learn to celebrate their differences when they learn the two-part harmony of the mother-daughter duet.

Cheri Fuller is a best-selling, award-winning author whose books have sold more than one million copies. She speaks to a wide range of women at women’s conferences and is a frequent guest on national radio and television programs.
Ali Plum is Cheri’s daughter, a writer and songwriter, a wife, and a mother to Noah and Luke. She and her mom have weathered the ups and downs of their relationship to find one of the most treasured, honest relationships of their lives. Ali has recorded background vocals for popular musicians, and Mother-Daughter Duet marks her debut into book publishing.

You can find out more information about purchasing Mother-Daughter duet, here and Dancing with my Father, here.

I have a copy of each of these books for a giveaway. If you would be interested in either book, or both books, just leave a comment. I will choose a winner through Random.org on Monday, March 8th.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Beaded Hope

I always find it so interesting when I read multiple things on the same topic in a small period of time. I wonder if it is God placing things on my heart. One of my last book reviews was on the fictional book Desert Fire by Shannon Van Roekel based in Darfur. On Sunday I picked up Beaded Hope by Cathy Liggett which is a fictional book based on a nonprofit organization of the same name. This book is also set in South Africa.

In the last two weeks my eyes have been opened to Africa and the suffering that they endure. It also has opened my heart to the hope and faith that they still find in the midst of it all.

Beaded Hope is an amazing story of four women that are placed together on a mission trip to South Africa. They all have their own reasons for going on the trip. It is the story of Gabby the Children's Ministry Director at the church, Heidi and Katie a mother-daughter duo that doesn't get along and Cassandra the journalist that is along just for a story. These four women's lives are forever changed as soon as they step foot in Africa.

You can read more about the book below. You can also find out more information on the nonprofit organization Beaded Hope, here. 20% of all book sales will go back to the organization.

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Beaded Hope

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (February 15, 2010)

***Special thanks to Maggie Rowe of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***


Cathy Liggett is the author of several contemporary romances and one nonfiction book. She worked in advertising copywriting and gift product development before turning to her passion for writing fiction. She was inspired to write Beaded Hope after traveling to South Africa on a mission trip like the one described in the story. Cathy and her husband, Mark, have two grown children and live in Loveland, Ohio.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (February 15, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414332122
ISBN-13: 978-1414332123


Suburb of Columbus, Ohio

“Hey, Gabby, what are you doing?”

Even after all their years together, the sound of her husband’s voice could still make Gabrielle Phillips’s heart skip a beat. She pressed the cell phone closer to her ear. It had been such a long week without Tom at home. “I’m running into Hirscham’s to pick up a shirt for Dad’s birthday.”

“Running? You’re running?”

His overly cautious tone brought a smile to her face. “Not running, silly, although I could run, you know. I’m walking briskly. Hurrying. I have to be back at church by 1:30 for a meeting with the other directors.”

“Is everything . . . ?” His hesitancy to finish the sentence told her everything he feared. How many times had he asked the same question only to hear the worst? No wonder Tom could barely ask anymore. Only fools got too close to a fire after getting burned time and again.

But at least today she had good news.

“Everything is fine. Absolutely fine. Wonderful. Really.” Closing her eyes, Gabby whispered her thanks to God. Tom’s audible sigh and then silence made her think he might be doing the same. “Except for . . . I miss you terribly.”


“When does your flight get in? Soon, I hope. It’s supposed to storm today.”

Dressing for work this morning, she’d seen the weather report on the small television sitting on top of the dresser in their bedroom. The meteorologist hadn’t just predicted rain; he’d more like ranted about it, threatening a downpour, pointing to patches of colors ranging from alarming yellow to raging red on his Doppler 10 radar screen.

“My plane gets in around five. But I looked online. I don’t think the rain’s supposed to start till later tonight.”

“Oh? Well, good.” That concern dismissed, she thought ahead. “Pizza for dinner?”

“Should you eat pizza?”

Smiling, she rolled her eyes though no one was nearby to notice. “How about half-veggie, half-pepperoni?”

“Perfect. Just like you. Love you, Gabby.”

“I know.”

Somehow through all the pain and drama and disappointments over the years of their marriage, they had survived, shakily at times, but together just the same. And now they’d been rewarded.

So rewarded! She let out a contented sigh.

As her boots scuffed against the dry parking lot pavement, Gabby had to admit she must’ve heard the weatherman wrong. At the moment, nearly white clouds with only hints of gray streaked a blue-brushed sky, looking far too benevolent for any monstrous storm to crackle through the heavens anytime soon.

But Gabby still felt glad she’d decided not to take any chances before she’d left home this morning. No way she wanted to risk slipping and falling on a rain-slicked floor. Not with their baby growing inside her—the baby she and Tom had waited for for so long. So painfully long.

Instead, she’d tossed her black ballet flats back into the closet she shared with her husband, opting for ragged but sure-footed snow boots from the garage. Not so attractive, but luckily she worked at a historic stone church and not in some glossy corporate tower. Everyone at work dressed neatly but casually. No one at Graceview cared as much about her fashion statements as they did about her dedication as head of the church’s children’s ministries.

When Gabby reached Hirscham’s entrance, she held open the door for a young mom struggling to push a baby stroller while tugging on the hand of a squirming toddler.

Not exactly an idyllic Norman Rockwell scene, but still Gabby could feel the jealousy. Rearing. Scratching. Trying to catch hold. Wanting to seep in and creep through her like a heart-strangling vine.

But it couldn’t control her anymore. These days she refused to let it. Now hope wasn’t just some fuzzy mirage in the distance. It had become more of a reality. On days when the green monster reared, she could more easily shoo it away with a genuine smile, not a false one. With positive thoughts, not negative ones. And by counting blessings, not subtracting them.

Heading for the men’s department, Gabby already knew exactly what to get her father. Her mother had been explicit about the size, brand, and color of shirt Gabby’s dad would like from her and Tom. Even though Gabby thought a shirt sounded less than exciting, she and Tom couldn’t afford much more than a shirt anyway. Tom’s new job with a national nonprofit organization had been a step up, but they still didn’t have a lot of disposable income, especially not with all the medical bills from the past—or the present.

Besides, next year would be different. By the time her father’s birthday rolled around again, she’d already have given him a special gift. A precious one.

Something money just can’t buy!

The salesperson couldn’t have been more efficient, and package in hand, Gabby glanced at her watch. She could slow down a bit. She still had ten minutes to kill before she had to head back to Graceview.

Strolling through the store, she took in the new spring fashions. It looked as if pink might be a big color again this season. But the women’s clothes held little interest for her, so she meandered over to the baby department and stood at the edge, looking in. Did she really want to venture into that sea of heart-tugging adorability?

Then a sleeper caught her eye. A pale yellow sleeper, almost the color of the underside of a lemon peel, with the cutest fuzzy lamb embroidered on the chest. Even from a distance it tempted her, seeming to promise a high cuddle factor.

Could the sleeper really be as soft as it looked?

Inching her way over, Gabby tried not to notice the endless racks and shelves of pastels, the cotton candy pinks and hushed baby blues of the infant clothes, the girlie lavenders and boy-bold navies of the toddler outfits. Instead, keeping her eyes focused on the sleeper, she made a straight path. She just wanted to touch it and feel its softness. That was all.

She took the foot of the sleeper in her hand and rubbed it between her fingers. Exquisite. Addicting. As soft as a downy feather but not feathery at all, of course. Holding it up to her cheek, she could almost imagine she smelled the unmistakable scent of baby powder. Could almost swear she felt the weight of a tiny foot wrapped in the velvety fabric.

“Soft, isn’t it?” A salesperson appeared out of nowhere and smiled at her knowingly.

Gabby attempted to let the fabric drop from her fingers, but she couldn’t let go. “Unbelievable.”

“And they’re on sale.”

Glancing at the price tag without really seeing it, Gabby tilted her head, pretending to do a mental calculation. But really her decision—or rather indecision—had nothing to do with money. Not this time.

As she clasped the material tighter and tighter in her fingers, she already knew there’d be an aching sadness that would spread to her limbs and then, without a doubt, find her heart if she let the fabric slip from her hand. Oh, how she didn’t want to let go.

But should she? Should she really buy it?

But then . . .

It had been ten weeks. She’d almost made it through the entire first trimester. She had never, ever, carried a baby that long before. Not in all the eight years since she and Tom had tried to conceive.

Even though everything indicated the in vitro fertilization had worked, even though her belly had the slightest protrusion and her breasts felt more tender than usual, still, after so many years, so many tests, failures, and tears, it seemed too hard to believe, too good to be true.

But Gabby couldn’t go on thinking that way. This baby—their baby—was real.

The thought made her tremble with a thrilling excitement that lifted her heart sky-high.

Until the other tremors came too, clutching at her throat, bringing fear and trepidation. Sadness of remembered losses. Feelings so easy to give in to, such a familiar place to be.

Her baby couldn’t thrive in shadows and fear. A protective feeling, stronger than anything she’d ever felt before, surged through her. She needed to shove those feelings away. Her baby needed light and love. Positive thoughts and prayers. Nourishment. Gentleness. And softness.

“I-I want it,” Gabby stammered. “I want it,” she repeated, taking the sleeper, handing it to the salesperson. “I’m going to get it.”

But as she watched the salesperson wrap her precious purchase in white tissue paper, horrible thoughts struck again. What was she doing? Something wrong? Something that might possibly jinx their baby?

No, she wouldn’t let herself believe it. After all, she’d bought baby clothes ahead of time for friends before. And had anything awful ever happened to their babies?

Besides, if she’d learned anything through the trials she and Tom had endured together, it had been that there were no signs. No spells. No talismans. No right words to chant. No fairy godmother’s wand. Nothing that could create a baby.

Nothing beyond the ability of her body . . . and God’s gracious will. Every minute of every day, Gabby prayed they were one and the same.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Unwrapping the Gift of Reading

be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
You're off the Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way!
~from Oh The Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss

Today each of my girls is getting a gift wrapped up in pretty paper and a bow. Inside each package is a book. The titles of each book is not what is significant. It is what the book will do. One book will take a daughter to a far off island to swim with dolphins. One book will take a daughter to a castle with Kings, Queens and Princesses. One book will keep a daughter right here in her home thinking of the love she shares with her daddy.

When I was a little girl I was given a very important gift from my mom and dad. It was the gift of reading. I can still remember countless trips to the library. We did not travel when I was a child. But because of the books that I had access to, I didn't need to. I was able to experience so many adventures in the books that I read.

Parenthood has never been easy. We don't have all the answers. In fact, we still have a 4 year old that loves to come in the middle of the night into the middle of our bed. But we have given our girls a gift, too. Every night we snuggle into their beds with a book. We finish each night with a story and prayers before tucking them in and shutting off the light.

Today we are celebrating Read Across America and Dr. Seuss' Birthday. We will read and draw and eat some treats. Memories will be made. The girls will probably forget which book they were given today. We will read the books and they will be added to our home library. My hope is that they will always be excited about their books and the adventures that they take them on.

I am unwrapping the gift of reading today with Emily at Chatting at the Sky. Do you have a gift to unwrap today? Go to Chatting at the Sky and read about all of the other amazing gifts.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Monday, Monday

Another Monday morning. Do you ever feel that way. My bed seemed so comfy this morning as I started to hear my hubby getting ready for work. I knew that I needed to get out of bed, but I really didn't want to.

I usually jump on the scale right away Monday morning and see if there has been any progress from the last week at the gym. I didn't do it this week. I only went to the gym one day. Life has just been getting in the way.

I might not have been physically exercising last week, but I feel like my mind was working out in overdrive. I have been pulled and stretched. I have been reflecting on the past, dreaming about the future, and surviving in the present.

It is officially 84 days until our Disney World Adventure. That was my ultimate getting healthy deadline. I know I need to get moving a little faster, the days are going by quickly.

Even though I didn't want to get out of bed this morning, I feel refreshed now. I can tell it is going to be a wonderful day. Even with my drapes pulled closed, the sun is shining in. We still have a lot of snow on the ground, but the piles are starting to shrink. I can tell that Spring is right around the corner.

The girls and I are also celebrating books this week. Tomorrow is Dr. Seuss' Birthday so we are going to party all week with reading, writing, drawing & creating. You will have to check out all the fun at Unforgettable Childhood. On the agenda today is decorating canvas bags to take with us to the library.

Oh and I bought my first ticket to a blogging conference. I am going to Relevant! I can't wait.

It is going to be a wonderful week. I am going to get myself to the gym more than once. And I am going to make some amazing memories with my girls. Nothing else really matters. . .I just can't let life get in the way.