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Preview: Mommy's Minute

Sarah E. Brooks

Updated: 2018-04-20T02:47:09.454-06:00


When you feel like a failure


Sometimes, I feel like a failure.Maybe I'm the only one, but I doubt it.So often, I look around my life at all the things that are left undone - the dishes in the sink, the laundry piled in the corner, that little squish around the middle of my waistline. That's when I hear the whisper:You can't do anything well. Look at all of the ways you're failing. Why can't you be like so-and-so? So, I slump down on my couch. I look around at the juice stains on my sofa and the remains of spilled baby food on my carpet. I feel the weight in my heart get heavier.You're. Not. Good. Enough. This is the lie that has followed me for years. It pushed me to run when I should have walked. It challenged me to overstretch and overextend myself physically, mentally, and even spiritually. It set up others in my life as competition rather than community.It's a dangerous lie.You see, when we give in to the belief that we're not good enough, then eventually we stop trying. We never finish that book proposal. We give up on the exercise program. We push our big dreams to the back of our closet because we feel like we're not worthy of them.It stops us in our tracks. It makes us fearful to move forward. We're afraid that the rest of the world will discover what we already know: I'm not perfect. I can't do it all.In our beautiful world of curated images, it's easy to hide the things that are damaged and broken. We don't want to put that on display for the world to see or (heaven-forbid) comment on. So, we go on believing that perhaps maybe we're the only one who struggles. That somehow, we're abnormal if we can't maintain a perfect house, a perfect body, and raise perfect children. After all, everyone else seems to have it all together.The truth is that we can't do it all. I sure know that I can't. I had a friend write a comment on a Facebook post a few months ago asking "Is there anything you can't do?" I wanted to laugh and say "Oh sister, where do I begin?"Here's the thing about mom guilt, fear, and shame: they slow you down, they wear you down, and eventually they'll convince you to stop trying. They'll tell you that you're wasting your time and energy. They'll do everything in their power to convince you to give up.I'm fully convinced they're a tool of the enemy, and my prayer is that you'll see them for what they are - lies, straight from the father of lies.What could you accomplish if you stepped out in faith? What if you brought your broken, imperfect mess of a life to the God who loves you and made you (squishy middle and all) - straight into the throne room of the creator of the universe and asked Him to make something beautiful out of the mess?God is not afraid of your shortcomings. Time and again he's taken the scared (Moses), the unlikely (David), and the unloved (Leah) and brought about amazing things. He sees. He knows. He loves you in spite of it all.He has a way of turning the frightened (Gideon) into a mighty warrior.The scriptures are full of broken and messed-up people. People who fail. People who make mistakes. People who are imperfect. Why do we read their stories thousands of years later?Because God. Stepped. In.Don't let the enemy tell you that you're worthless. Don't listen to the whispers that tell you to give up. Take the next step, even if it's hard. Do the right thing, and if you fail, which you inevitably will along the way, get back up. Dust off those shaking knees and keep moving.You are enough.Not because you're perfect, but because the One who made you is, and scripture promises that "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6).Walk on, weary sister. Lift up your head. Fix your eyes on the Father. Do your best. Don't stop trying.We're all failures. We all fall short. But God is bigger than our shortcomings. He takes broken things and makes them beautiful again.So, here I sit, it's after midnight. The kids are in bed. My house is still a mess. My hair is still unwashed, and there are a thousand different things begging for my time and attenti[...]

Why I'm not making New Year's Resolutions


Whoa. How is it already 2015? The last year seems to have flown right by for my family. It was certainly a busy one. My husband graduated with a Master's degree in Counseling, our third son was born, and my oldest started elementary school.Yet here we sit, at the beginning of another new year. It's a good time to look back on the previous year and be thankful for the blessings and attentive to the things that need to change in the year to come.With the coming of a new year, comes a parade of resolutions. By definition, a resolution is "a firm decision to do or not do something."I'm not putting down resolutions. They're a great starting point, but on their own, they're not necessarily helpful. I can decide to do or not do something. I can "want to" with all my heart, but unless I have a plan in place, come February 1st, most of my ambitious resolutions will have dissolved.That's why this year, I'm not making resolutions. I'm making a plan. Without a plan, I know that my goals will fall short. My goals are a road map that will help me get to where I want to be by the end of the year.I know myself well enough to know that if I try to fly by the seat of my pants, then the hard things will be left undone and all I'll have to show at the close the year, will be a bit more clutter and a handful of regrets.You've probably heard this before, but the best goals are ones that are "SMART." -Specific - Describe exactly what you hope to accomplish. Avoid vague, blanket goals like "Be happier, get healthy." Instead choose things like "Write in a gratitude journal every 5 days a week." or "Walk a 5k" Measurable - Is it possible to evaluate whether you've met this goal? It's hard to measure "Be happier" but it is possible to measure whether or not you've written in a gratitude journal. Attainable - It's OK for goals to stretch you, but make sure that you're goal is something that you can actually accomplish.Relevant/Realistic - Do these goals fit in to your current season of life and the ultimate purpose and vision for your life/family. Time Bound - They have a specific goal deadline (in one month, 6 weeks, etc)For this year, I'm dividing my goals into three specific areas. I'll show you how the SMART system works with my particular goals. PROFESSIONALAs a blogger, this year I want to grow as a writer and businesswoman through education and accountability. I will do this in the following ways. Write a minimum of three blog posts a week S - Write three blog posts. M - I can verify that I've written three posts. A - it is an attainable goal, R - ties into my goals to improve my blog, T - 3 times a week. Submit book proposal to agent by the end of January S - Submit book proposalM - Goal will be accomplished when proposal is e-mailed. A - This is attainable if I am disciplined with my time, R - This ties into my goal of being a published author, T - Deadline January 31. Spend an hour a week reading/researching/learning about the craft of writing through blog posts, books, and online educational courses.S - Spend an hour a week investing in educational resourcesM - I can set aside a specific hour each week for education.A - Should be attainable if done after the kids go to bedR - Ties into my goals of growing through education.T - weeklyPERSONALThis year I want to do a better job of taking care of myself physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Be physically active by using a fitness monitor to keep track of physical activity. Goal of 10,000 steps a day. S - 10,000 steps a dayM - Steps can be verified through fitness monitorA - It is the recommended amount of steps for a healthy lifestyleR - Ties into my goals of being healthier which will help me as a woman, wife, and mother.T - DailyI want to grow in my faith through a daily devotional time. I will be reading Jesus Today: Experience Hope Through His Presence (aff link) daily and writing out my prayers and thoughts in a journal.S - Read Je[...]

The true gift of Christmas


My dad posted this on his Facebook page this morning and I thought it was a great reminder during this Christmas season! It helps me remember the true gift of Christmas: Three days to Christmas! Yesterday I made a suggestion to our congregation for the week ahead that I hope you will also consider. First, take a blank sheet of paper and write the angel's announcement in Luke 2:10-11 at the top of the page and then place the folded piece of paper in a gift box. Wrap it, put your name on it, and place it under your Christmas tree.Second, this is not a gift to be opened with family or friends. Instead, at some point when you can be alone on Christmas Day, open the gift privately. Read the angel's announcement and circle the words "for you" or "unto you". Realize that Christmas is more than the celebration of the birth of God's Son. It is even more than the celebration of the birth of a Savior. It is more personal than that. It is the celebration of the birth of "your" Savior. As the angel announced,"Today in the city of David there has been born FOR YOU a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (NASB)."Personalize this on Christmas Day. Take the sheet of paper with the angel's announcement and begin to write down your painful regrets from 2014--words which should never have been spoken, actions you wish you could now take back, choices that moved you away from God instead of toward Him. Be as honest with God as you possibly can be and write them down. Acknowledge your sin before Him.Having completed your painful list, read the angel's announcement once again. Confess your faith in Jesus' ability to forgive. He was born a Savior in order to take away ALL your sin. Place your trust then in Him and His power to forgive sin, especially the ones you struggled the most to admit. Commit your list to Him in prayer and then return it to the gift box.Finally, with a grateful heart, take the gift box and place it in the garbage. On the days following Christmas Day, 4 million tons of wrapping paper and boxes will be thrown away. Because of the sufficiency of Jesus' love and forgiveness, allow your list of 2014 regrets to be carried away because this Christmas you are celebrating the birth of your Savior!Will you do it? It may give you a fresh perspective on why we celebrate Christmas!-Stephen Lowrie - ********************************************************************************Want to join the conversation? Come hang out with me on Facebook or Twitter.Don't want to miss a post? Sign up for posts to be sent to your e-mail inbox! #mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; } Subscribe to our mailing list                                                                           [...]

How to quickly (and easily) etch glass


This post contains affiliate links to help you find the products I mention in the post. I've never claimed to be a particularly crafty person. Don't get me wrong. I love to create things, but they don't always turn out well (ahem . . . the newborn hat I tried to knit ended up being large enough for a giant man).Anyhow. Those days are over. I have found my crafty calling. Etched glass.It looks phenomenal and uber impressive, but it is seriously one of the easiest things in the world to do! You can have the project completed from start to finish in under 10 minutes, and it is super affordable too (chances are, you probably have half of the supplies in your house right now).So . . . what do you need?SuppliesArmour Etch (I found mine at Hobby Lobby and used my 40% off coupon, but you can also find it at Amazon and have it shipped straight to your little ole house - no need to drag screaming toddlers into a store full of shiny breakable objects). Stickers - Again, I found mine at Hobby Lobby, but pretty much any crafting store will have what you need. You can use any basic sticker that you like. Amazon has a great assortment of sticker/stencils that you can re-position and re-use. My Hobby Lobby had a limited selection of the re-positionable variety, but yours might be better. You cannot use a standard stencil with this because the acid will seep under it. The stencil style will let the letter or image appear etched.(like in the letter "B" on the glass container at the top of the post). The regular sticker will leave the letter/image clear with the area around it etched (Like the name "Sarah" in the bottom picture on the glass). Brush - I used a basic crafting brush (H.L. once again), but you may have some already on hand. Painters Tape. Glass (You can etch pretty much ANYTHING. So far, I've done a wine glass, a casserole dish, a mug, a bowl, and a glass canister.) Small plastic scraper (optional)A word about Armour Etch - PLEASE use caution. This is a strong acid . . .it eats through glass, so you probably want to avoid getting it on your skin . . .just maybe. This is also a craft that might be best to do sans kiddos. You will also want to make sure that you store this up out of the each of little hands. It can be fatal if swallowed, and although it comes equipped with a childproof lid, it's better to be safe than sorry. That being said, I don't usually use gloves (I work very carefully with it right by a sink), but it probably wouldn't hurt to use a pair of gloves with this project just to be on the safe side. If you're a visual learner, I've put together a video demonstration (or you can scroll down for written directions).  allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//" width="420">DirectionsSelect a glass dish, plate, bowl, or cup. If you're doing a word or phrase with multiple stickers, I like to create a line with my painter's tape just to make sure that my letters are straight. Use alphabet stickers to create the word you would like to etch. Press all of the stickers down completely. Make sure there are no gaps or spaces for the acid to get under. Remove the Painter's tape that you used to create your straight line. Create a painter's tape border around the area to be etched. I like to leave about half an inch all the way around the text. Make sure the tape is straight and has no bubbles or crinkles in it. Press the tape down to ensure you have a strong seal between the tape and the glass. Using your crafting brush, liberally coat the marked off area with the Armour Etch. You want to make sure that you have plenty of product covering the area to be etched. Set your timer for 3-4 minutes and allow the acid to do its work. (Optional) - to save a bit of money, you can re-use the Armour Etch. Take your small plastic scraper and gently scoop/squeegee the amour etch off our your surface and back into your jar. Make sure n[...]

Overcoming an Over-stuff-ed Christmas


 I don't know what it is about these last few weeks, but it seems like everywhere I turn, I'm surrounded by "stuff."The boys room is overflowing with toys, costumes, and clothes strewn all over the floor.My bedroom features piles and piles of plain ole stuff: papers that need to be discarded, summer clothes that still haven't made it out to the storage shed, and books that have been propped up against a wall - waiting for months to be read.This is my "Quick! Someone's coming over, let's cram everything into a corner of my bedroom" pile. (Please don't tell me I'm the only one who does this . . .)It feels suffocating.So, I sit and wonder - how did it get to this point? What can I do to address this problem? Why do I feel compelled to ignore the growing stacks of "stuff" that refuse to go away on their own?Here's the deal: In general, we all have more than we need. We have more than enough clothing and shoes. More than enough home decor. Our children have WAY more toys than any one child could possibly play with.And then Christmas rolls around, and I think to myself - I don't want to bring more stuff into an already stuffed house.I think my life/house would be better off if I cut the clutter. If I SERIOUSLY took the time to go through the closets, the garage, my strategically placed piles, and asked myself these three questions:Does this item help or hinder my goals for my home?Does this object have a purpose in my home or is it just taking up space? When was the last time I used this item? Does it justify holding onto it? How difficult (or expensive) would it be to replace this item later on if I decided I needed it?Does it fit? Do I wear it regularly?I've discovered post-three babies, that my body is just not quite the same any more. It's shaped differently. I probably don't need to hang on to that pair of jeans from high school. By the time I fit into them again, the clothes will more than likely be out of style. . . although it may take me long enough that they'll be back in style again by the time they fit ;-)Do you wear the shoes in your closet or do they just take up space?Do your purses or scarves see the light of day on a regular basis or could the space be used for a better purpose.. Why am I holding onto this item?Do I keep this for sentimental reasons? Is it a gift that I feel guilty for getting rid of? Do I think I might need it . . . someday in the distant future? I've joked with my husband that if we ever move again, I'm donating everything and starting from scratch again. (After moving/packing four times in the first five years of marriage, I was done with the ole putting "stuff" into boxes routine.)Soooooo . . . .all that to say. That I've been feeling convicted that I'm allowing "stuff" to crowd out the more important things. A cluttered home makes me feel cluttered mentally. My kids don't have room to play on their floors due to all of the toys on the floor.It's all. too. much.I'm tired of it.SO, here's what I plan to do.For Christmas, we're not going hog-wild with the giving of "stuff" because #1) We already have an abundance #2) That's not really what Christmas is all about #3) There are better ways to spend our resources.My boys will be receiving1) Something they want (a fun toy or game)2) Something they need3) Something to wear4) Something to readSanta will be contributing three fun "toys" for Christmas morning.As far as the stuff that's currently taking up residence in my home, I am planning a strategic room-by-room purge.The extra toys/outgrown children's items will make their way to a consignment sale. The extra home decor/household items will be sold (and the money put toward needed home repairs), The clothing, shoes, and bags will be donated to a local clothing mission.  I consider you my friends. Thanks for letting my spew my mental "stuff" all over the interwebs. I think life will be better all around if I can learn how to be intentional[...]

Luke 2:14


This is one of my favorite verses from the Christmas story! I hope you are getting excited for Christmas this year! I know we are at my house. 

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Why I'm glad Jesus isn't like Santa Claus


Have I mentioned how much I love Christmas?Love. It.I love the sights, the smells, the sounds of the holiday season.The other day, the boys and I were listening to some Christmas tunes online and I heard the classic song "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," and it got me thinking - I'm sure glad that Jesus isn't like Santa Claus.Don't get me wrong. Santa can be fun. We love leaving cookies and milk and spreading oats and glitter on the lawn for the reindeer. We hang up our stockings and watch Christmas movies featuring the big red guy, but we obviously know that Christmas is not about him. The original Santa Claus (St. Nicholas) did the things he did because of the true meaning of Christmas - the gift of the Savior (and he did it all without the aid of magical reindeer or hard-working elves).For whatever reason that night, the song "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" really caught my attention, and it made me grateful.You better watch out. You better not cry."When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled." John 11: 33You better not pout"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." - 1 Peter 5:7I'm telling you why - Santa Claus is coming to town.“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” - Acts 1:11He's making a list. He's checking it twice"The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserveor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth,so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west,so far has he removed our transgressions from us." Psalm 103:8-12Gonna find out who's naughty or nice"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." 2 Corinthians 5:21He sees you when you're sleeping. He knows when you're awake "I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me." Psalm 3:5He knows if you've been bad or good,  "God, You know my foolishness, and my guilty acts are not hidden from You." Psalm 69:5So be good for goodness sake."Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins." Ecclesiastes 7:20Santa's a busy man he has no time to play"Indeed, the hairs of your head are all counted. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows!" Luke 12:7He's got millions of stockings to fill on Christmas day."I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." John 10:10I don't know about you, but I'd take compassion, grace, and abundant life over a stocking full of candy canes any ole day.Don't get me wrong. This isn't a "bash Santa" post. We do the Santa thing in our house, but we always talk about the "whys" of Christmas. Why did Saint Nicholas feel compelled to help those in need? Why do we celebrate Christmas as a family in the first place?Why did God send a baby to be born in a stable and worshiped by some ordinary shepherds? The Christmas story itself is magical and meaningful, and the best part of all - it will never break, it will never be outgrown. It's the gift that keeps on giving. The gift of God's love and grace in the form of a tiny infant. It's a gift we could never earn on our own, and a gift that was freely given to us even when we didn't deserve it. We deserved coal, but we received compassion.He's the reason why Christmas means so much to me.   *******************************Want to join the conversation? Come hang out with me on Facebook or Twitter. Don't want to miss a post? Sign up for posts to be sent to your e-mail inbox! #mc_emb[...]

Want to learn how to save at the grocery store?


This post contains affiliate links

As a single-income family, we've had to learn how to stretch a dollar. I know a lot of a families struggle and want to learn how to get the most bang for their buck!

Crystal Paine from the popular blog "Money Saving Mom" is hosting a class on how to cut your grocery expenses: Grocery University.

To celebrate the launch, she's offering the class for 50% off, but only until Midnight eastern.

For only $4.97 you get:

*A comprehensive saving strategy
*139 minutes of audio
*A 40 page workbook
*BONUS: Rock Bottom Price Database PDF

If you've ever wondered whether it's possible to shrink your grocery bill (even if you're already using coupons, etc), I'd recommend giving Grocery University a try.

. . . and the best part - if you decide you don't like it, they'll give you your money back as part of their 60 day guarantee. 

I know, that my family could benefit from saving money, so I wanted to pass on the opportunity to you,

There are only a few hours left to take advantage of the 50% off discount!

This post contains affiliate links

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Breakfast with the Fisherman


The fisherman walked along the shore of the sea. Bits of rocks and sand slipped beneath the straps of his sandals, but he was too lost in his thoughts to notice. A few others walked along slowly behind him, the sound of their footsteps broke the silence that laid heavy between them. “I’m going fishing.” Peter walked toward the small fishing boat shored a few paces away. John sped up, coming alongside him.“We’ll go with you.”James and Nathanael helped Peter slide the boat away from the shoreline. They were an interesting crew. Peter spent most of his life on these waters. After the events of the last few weeks, he needed to return to something familiar. Something that felt safe. Something he understood. They dropped their nets into the water. The sound of the waves gently crashed against the side of the boat. It was peaceful here. They waited. They checked their nets, but nothing was there. Not even the smallest of fish could be seen among the knotted rope. Great, thought Peter, as he worked through the knots in the net. I’ve failed as a disciple, and now I can’t even do the one thing I thought I knew how to do. I’m a fisherman who can’t even catch one single fish.The sun had just begun its ascent over the hills. The lights streamed down the hillside and rested on the sapphire waters. In the distance, a man walked along the shoreline. His words carried on the morning breeze. “Children, do you have any fish?”Thomas shouted back. “No. Not a single one.”The man walked a little closer, his body a silhouette against the rising sun. “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” The words felt familiar. What did they have to lose? They dropped their nets back into the rippling water. Soon, the sea was alive with activity. Fish smacked the surface of the water, twisting and thrashing within the nets. All seven of them tried to pull the net back into the boat, but it was too heavy. Peter squinted toward the shoreline. His heart started racing.  John joined him at the side of the boat. He looked down at the net full of fish and back up at the man standing on the shoreline. John slapped a hand against the fisherman’s shoulder. “It’s the Lord!”“Thomas! Throw me my robe!” Peter quickly threw his arms into the sleeves and before anyone could stop him, he jumped right into the water, sending a splash that soaked the robes of those standing nearby. Peter could see him more clearly now. With every ounce of energy he had left, he headed straight toward this man on the shoreline. The Lord. The one he had rejected. The one who said he would make him a fisher of men. He rung out his robes as he walked toward a charcoal fire situated a few feet away. The smell of fish reminded him of how hungry he was. The bread. The coals. The memories all began flooding back. Jesus placed his hand on Peter’s shoulder. “Bring some of the fish that you just caught.” Peter joined the other disciples on the boat as they hauled the net to the shore. They laid them out along the beach, all 153 of them. Yet despite their large size and large quantity, their nets were still in perfect condition. “Come have breakfast!” Jesus walked toward the charcoal fire and had a seat, gesturing for the others to come do the same. The sizzle of the fish on the fire was soon followed by the smell of breakfast cooking. They realized how hungry they were. Not just for the food, but for his company.Though he looked different from what they were accustomed to, none of the disciples dared to ask “Who are you?” They knew deep within that it was the Lord. This was just like him. Peter remembered the last time Jesus asked him to lower his nets after a night of no fish. Same result. When the Master tells you to drop your nets, you drop them. He takes care of the rest.Jesus came and took the[...]

Simply Christmas Free Album Sneak Peak


Phew. I hope you've survived the craziness that is Black Friday shopping. We opted to stay home this year and enjoy a little bit of online shopping.In my family, the day after Thanksgiving always signals the "official" beginning of the Christmas season. I'm excited to get home and start setting up the tree and decorations!A big part of our family's Christmas tradition has always been singing and playing some of the classic Christmas Hymns (Away in a Manger, O Little Town of Bethlehem, etc.).This year, I had the awesome opportunity to create my own Christmas CD. I figure that if you're worn out from hitting the craziness of the stores (or you're still recovering for yesterday's feasting) you might enjoy the ability to sit back and enjoy some calm, relaxing, Christmas tunes.Or you could even let the music play as you're setting up your Christmas decorations!I'm giving my friends and blog readers a chance to preview the entire album before it goes live for sale on Amazon and iTunes on Monday, December 1st.Stream the album here for free through Dec. 3rd!Click on the songs in the player below for your chance to stream my Christmas album for free! name="full" src="" style="border: 0px; height: 520px; width: 100%;"> ALSO - I will be donating $1 from every album sale to Compassion International's Child Survival Program. So not only will you get to enjoy some fun Christmas music, you'll also be making a huge impact on the life of a child who lives in poverty! You can read more about my trip to El Salvador with Compassion here.The album is currently available to pre-order for $7.99 on Amazon and iTunes (the price jumps to $9.99 on iTunes on Monday).Want to join the conversation? Come hang out with me on Facebook or Twitter.Don't want to miss a post? Sign up for posts to be sent to your e-mail inbox! #mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; } Subscribe to our mailing list [...]

Five Minute Friday: Notice


Each Friday I will be linking up with some lovely ladies to participate in Five Minute Friday. You set the timer, write for five minutes on a designated word (no spelling or grammar checking) and then share your post.If you want to participate, you can get more information here!This week's Five Minute Friday prompt is the word "Notice." NoticeHave you noticed how quickly things change? One minute you're sweating away in the heat of summer and the next thing you know it's almost Thanksgiving. Time has a way of doing that - slipping through our fingers before we even notice it's gone.The wonderful thing about Thanksgiving is that it gives us the opportunity to notice the many things in our lives that we have to be thankful for: the people gathered around our table, the food in our oven, friends and family spending time together.It makes me wonder how things might be different if I took the time to notice the things I should be thankful for all year long rather than just one day a year. What if I was intentional about noticing the people that God has placed into my life for this particular season?It reminds me of that old question: "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to notice, does it make a sound?" (In case you're not sure of the answer: Yes. Yes it does.) You see the world doesn't wait for us to notice it's intricacies. It keeps on moving. The sad thing is that if we don't pay attention, we'll miss it.We'll overlook the milk mustache on our toddler's face, not realizing that all too soon that a real one will take it's place (well at least it might if you have a house full of boys like I do).We overlook the friends who live down the street because we're too busy "getting stuff done."We fail to notice the opportunities we have right in front of us.I want to be better about noticing.I want to be better about being thankful for the little things - the things that all too often I fail to notice. *******************************Want to join the conversation? Come hang out with me on Facebook or Twitter. Don't want to miss a post? Sign up for posts to be sent to your e-mail inbox! #mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; } Subscribe to our mailing list [...]

Give Thanks - 1 Thessalonians 5:18


Thanksgiving is next week!! That's hard to believe! 
1 Thessalonians 5:18 reminds me to give thanks regardless of my circumstances. 
Circumstances will change, but God's faithfulness remains the same. 

What are YOU thankful for? 

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Early Black Friday Specials from DaySpring! Save up to 70%!


*Post contains affiliate links*I have to admit it. I have a thing for words. I love to write them. I love to read them, and I love to decorate with them. I just realized the other day that 95% of my wall art is "word" art. If you're anything like me, then you are going to LOVE some of these Early Black Friday Markdown Items from Dayspring. They have some beautifully amazing stuff for up to 70% off retail price while supplies last!Regularly $49.99 , on sale $19.99GIFT IDEAS UNDER $20For I Know the Plans I Have for You - Scripture Bangle - Regular Price: $44.99 Markdown Price: $19.99 -- 56% off God's Heart for You - Rhodium Plated Necklace -  Regular Price: $34.99 Markdown Price: $14.99 -- 57% off Inspirational Message Blocks - Set of 9 Blocks - Regular Price: $49.99 Markdown Price: $19.99 -- 60% off Regularly $44.99 - on sale $17.99GIFT IDEAS UNDER $10 (perfect for teacher gifts or secret santa gift swaps)Jesus Is The Gift - Metal Tray -  Regular Price: $14.99 Markdown Price: $5.99 -- 60% off Jesus Loves Me - Musical Elephant Plush - Pink -  Regular Price: $23.00 Markdown Price: $7.99 -- 65% off Inspirational Wooden Chalkboard Cross - Large  - Regular Price: $21.99 Markdown Price: $6.99 -- 68% off Redeemed - Blessed - Wooden Plaque - Regular Price: $12.99 Markdown Price: $4.99 -- 62% off Daily Grace - Blessed & Grateful - 7" Small Vase -  Regular Price: $25.00Markdown Price: $9.99 -- 60% off Regular Price $12.99 - on sale $4.99I thought this Redeemed - Redeemed & Blessed - Ceramic Cookie Jar was a really cute idea (and would make a fun Christmas gift - you could even fill it with their favorite cookies!). I love things that are cute AND practical. Normally $59.99, on sale today for $14.99.Regularly 59.99 - on sale $14.99 These sale prices will not be around for a super long time, so you'll definitely want to take advantage of them while you can (plus you'll save yourself the hassle of dealing with the crowds on Black Friday! - DOUBLE win).***************************************Want to join the conversation? Come hang out with me on Facebook or Twitter. Don't want to miss a post? Sign up for posts to be sent to your e-mail inbox! #mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; } Subscribe to our mailing list [...]

The Truth about Thanksgiving


Can I be honest with you?Sometimes I complain about things I should be grateful for:***************I have to go to the grocery store - We have the money to buy groceries for our family.I have to wash the dishes . . . again - Not only did we have food to eat, but we had something to eat it on. I even own a machine to wash them for me. All I have to do is stick them in a rack and push a button.I have seven loads of laundry to do - My family owns enough clothes and linens to comprise seven loads. Not only do we have clothes to wear, we have an abundance.There was an hour long wait at the pediatrician's office - I have access to doctors when my child is ill. Even more than that, I have medical insurance to help make their care more affordable.Being a stay-at-home mom is hard - I have the opportunity/ability to stay home with my children.My husband works a lot -  My husband has a good source of employment and does his job well.I was stuck in traffic -  I own a car. I am able to drive myself to where I need to go.My three-year-old is strong willed - His stubbornness can turn into an asset if it's channeled in the right direction. (Also, praise that my mother put up with my own strong-willed self when I was three).I hardly got any sleep last night due to a nursing baby - I have been blessed with a child. I'm blessed with the ability to feed my child.*****************Now, I'm not saying that we have to pretend that life is all sunshine and rainbows. If we're honest, sometimes things are downright hard. Sometimes situations are discouraging and overwhelming. Sometimes we just get frustrated and we need to vent. I get it. I do it.What I'm learning about myself is that I will always find what I'm looking for. If you're on the lookout for the negative - for all of the ways that life is hard, it's not going to take you long to find those things. However, if you are intentional about finding the things to be grateful for in the midst of difficult situations, your attitude and outlook can be transformed.The laundry is never going to go away. The dishes will still need to be done. The wait will be longer than you want. The toddler will throw that sippy cup on the floor one. more. time.What will you do?We cannot always control our circumstances, but we can control our reaction to them. We have been given the incredible power to choose.I want to model this type of behavior for my children. I want to point out the positive rather than dwell on the negative. Who would you rather be around? Debbie Downer or Polyanna?  The person who points out everything that's wrong with the world or the person who sees what can be done to make things right?My challenge to you (and to myself) for the next 24 hours is this:  Any time you are tempted to complain, try to find the positive in that situation. Turn that complaint into a praise. "Lord, there is a super long line at Wal-mart again. I'm tired of waiting, but help me to be thankful.  I thank you for for the ability and resources to shop for my family. Thank you that I have access to the food and supplies that we need. Thank you that I have legs to stand on and hands to push this cart."I try to put into place the 1:3 rule. For every one complaint, I want to find three things to be thankful for. It's not that hard if you really think about it. By focusing on our blessings rather than on our burdens, we are equipped to see the good in the midst of the bad. It doesn't make the negative go away, but it helps to put it into the proper perspective.Let's make Thanksgiving a way of life, not just a day in November.***********************************************Want to join the conversation? Come hang out wi[...]

Wednesday in the Word - 2 Corinthians 12:9


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Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!



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"What's in the Bible" Flash Sale


We absolutely love "What's in the Bible" at our house. My boys and I actually appear on volume 7 (We're in the bonus features - true story!).They're offering a sale of up to 60% off retail, but only for 17 hours. The offer ends at 11 AM EST on 11/8! sThey are are also offering free shipping on all orders over $25, so if you order 4 DVDs for $25 you'll also get free shipping! We love that they make learning about the Bible fun and entertaining. As a mom, I love that they're teaching deep truths in a way that even young children can understand and relate to. They're funny and enjoyable to watch. If you've ever wanted to teach your kids more about the Bible, but you're not sure where to begin, These DVDs are a terrific resource! I majored in Christian Studies at my University, and I still learned new things watching the videos. Until 11 AM you can get the entire 13 DVD series for only $66.57 (normally $179.88) plus free shipping. Seriously. I've never seen them offered at that price before.There are a ton of great DVDs to choose from! I'm getting a few as stocking stuffers for my boys. Check them out here! ****This post contains affiliate links to What's in the Bible. We hope you love them as much as we do!Want to join the conversation? Come hang out with me on Facebook or Twitter. Don't want to miss a post? Sign up for posts to be sent to your e-mail inbox! #mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; } Subscribe to our mailing list [...]

Five Minute Friday - Turn


Each Friday I will be linking up with some lovely ladies to participate in Five Minute Friday. You set the timer, write for five minutes on a designated word (no spelling or grammar checking) and then share your post.If you want to participate, you can get more information here!This week's Five Minute Friday prompt is the word "Turn." *** I couldn't have been more than four-years-old in the video that plays on the television screen. Flickering images of a little girl spinning around in her favorite skirt. I'm pretty sure that at the time I thought I looked as elegant and refined as the ballerinas I had seen. I never had dance lessons, but I did know how to spin - turning in circles to the music playing on the record player.There was a confidence in those little legs that seems to have fled in recent years. Now instead of spreading arms wide and turning with wild abandon, I turn my head instead to see who is watching. I'm not sure at what point in life we make that transition from free to frozen.It must have been sometime in elementary school. Those years where we take our first tentative steps out of the nest and into the big, wide, world. I suppose it was there that I learned that you could take classes to learn how to turn properly. It was probably there that I watched someone else perfect a pirouette and decided that maybe turning was best left for my living room floor and not for some fancy, far-off stage.Turning points. Oh, that my children would learn how to dance with abandon. That they wouldn't stop dancing because someone might be watching. That when it's their turn to turn that they would hold their head high with confidence and turn toward the music and dance. ******************************************* Want to join the conversation? Come hang out with me on Facebook or Twitter.Don't want to miss a post? Sign up for posts to be sent to your e-mail inbox! #mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; } Subscribe to our mailing list                                                                       [...]

Word-filled Wednesday - Psalm 34:8


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Looking for Love


Last week at Allume, Shauna Niequist said something that stuck in my mind. She said, "What we long for is to be loved, but we'll settle for being impressive."Truth smack - right in the face.And you know what? It's true.I've always struggled with the desire to impress. I've longed to do things perfectly, to be the "best" in whatever endeavor I've entered into. Trust me, this is not a great way to live your life.In my mind, I equated being impressive with being valued. If you're the best at something, doesn't that make you worthy of admiration?If I truly, deep down to the soles of my feet, believe that I am loved for who I am and not what I can do, all of the worry, the stress, the fear of failure, the desperation for approval can cease. Do you believe that?Maybe your own personal life experiences have taught you differently. Perhaps there have been voices along the way that sent you a different message: In order for me to love you, you must meet my expectations. In order for me to accept you, you must impress me with ________ (your appearance, your income, your talents, what you can offer me, etc.).Can I tell you a hard truth? It's one that I've learned over the last three decades: You will never make everyone happy. Despite your best efforts, you will never be perfect. It is absolutely impossible. Sure, you can impress in an area for a season, but if your self-worth and value is dependent on the approval of another human being, you are in for a roller coaster of insecurity. Why? Because people will let you down. You will let them down. It's the nature of humanity.So. What do we do then? How do we break this cycle of attention seeking? How do we redirect this desire to impress and exchange it for secure love?We look to the source of Love. We look to the one who loved us when we were so totally opposed to Him. We turn to the one who loved us first, before we could do a single thing to earn his approval.Maybe that's not the God you've heard preached from the pulpit. Perhaps you've been told that you have to earn His love too.You don't. He loves you because you are His.I remember the first time the nurse placed my son onto my chest. He was a mess. He was unbathed, squirming, crying with flailing arms. He could offer me nothing but his own needs. And I loved him. Wholly and completely. Not because of what he could offer me (in fact, loving him would cost me quite a lot), but because he was mine. He carried my image. I bore him in my body. I suffered pain for him, and he was worth it.I think you can see where I'm going here.God loves you, not because you deserve his love, but because He chose to love you first. He chose to love not because of what you could offer Him, but because of what He can offer you. True love. Unconditional love. Love based not on merit, but on choice. He chose love.When I let that type of love sink down into my bones it gives me peace. It gives me the freedom to do my best without the pressure to perform. It allows me to offer my service as an offering and not as a down-payment on a debt I could never repay. It liberates me from the need to impress anyone else but Him. I've found that I have to examine my motivations for doing things. Am I participating in this activity, this act of service, this social organization to appear impressive to others? When I get down to the deep core of my being, am I doing this to be noticed? Would I continue to do this task if no one else ever knew I was the one doing it? Am I doing things to draw attention to Him or to draw attention to myself?Do the words [...]

Word-filled Wednesday - Psalm 46:1


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Walk Where I Lead


The prayer room was dimly lit. A few lights cut through the shadows, illuminating pillows on the floor and a few comfortable chairs to sit in for prayer and meditation. In my world, quiet and solitude are as rare as finding rivers in the dessert. Not because I don't crave them, but because when you live in a home with three children age 5 and under, silence usually indicates that someone is dumping a container of flour onto the kitchen floor.So, here I find myself in a  quiet room. No interruptions. No distractions.Lined up on a table are prayer journals - one for each attendee of the Allume Conference.  I found my journal among those lined up next to the letter "s." Sarah Brooks. There next to mine were Shauna Niequist and Sara Hagerty. Their books sit on my bookshelves at home. I've loaned them to friends and shared about them on Facebook. I've read excerpts out loud to my MOPS group. I felt like, maybe, my journal didn't belong next to their's.Then, I felt that familar whisper.I don't love them any more than I love  you. Walk where I lead. The truth is, that that's all He expects of me. He is not impressed by the size of my platform. I don't become more pleasing to Him if 10,000 people share a post online.The world looks at our numbers, but God knows our name.All He asks of me is obedience. To walk where He leads. That holds true regardless of your profession or passion. I've had to learn that the ultimate goal is not to be succesful, but to be faithful. You may never be the best dancer, the best singer, the best writer, athlete, or mom . . . and that's OK. Are you doing your best? Are you pursuing your dream/talents as an offering to Him?That's a hard lesson for this recovering perfectionist to learn. I don't have to be perfect. I don't have to be the best. I just need to listen and walk where He leads.What if the story isn't just about you? What if you are a supporting character in the grand story of God's redemption?This weekend reminded me that this calling is not about making my name great. It's about pointing toward His great name."The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe."Proverbs 18:10My dinner table friends for the first night of Allume.I've included affiliate links to Sara and Shauna's books. I absolutely have loved everything I've read of their's. If you haven't read them yet, I highly recommend them. Sara's book Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet: Tasting the Goodness of God in All Thingsis on sale right now on Kindle for $3.99 (Prices change fairly quickly on Amazon, so double check the price before you buy).*************************************************Want to join the conversation? Come hang out with me on Facebook or Twitter. Don't want to miss a post? Sign up for posts to be sent to your e-mail inbox! #mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; } Subscribe to our mailing list [...]

Word-Filled Wednesday - Proverbs 17:22


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10 Things my Allume Roommates Should Know About Me


This week, I'm heading off to the Allume Conference and I am oh so very excited! I'll be able to spend some time with my blogging buddy Beth Lawrence from Just Beth. I'm also looking forward to meeting new blogging friends!In preparation for our time together, I figured I should probably let my Allume roomies know a little bit about me.1) If you see me in maternity pants, I'm not pregnant. I just can't remember where I stored my pre-pregnancy jeans.2) I am blind as a bat without my glasses or contacts in. I'm so nearsighted that I can't even see the numbers on the alarm clock when it's sitting right next to me on my nightstand. 3) We don't have cable at home, so you might catch me sneaking an episode of something on HGTV. I usually don't mind being cable-free, but I do I love HGTV and the Hallmark channel. 4) I never really started drinking coffee until I had children. I was a "social" coffee drinker in college, but have succumbed to a cup a day habit. With an infant that stays awake until midnight and a three-year-old that wakes up at 5:30, coffee or hot tea keeps me from becoming Mom Zombie.5) I decided to run a half-marathon two years ago. Before that point, I had never run more than a mile (and that mile was only when someone forced me to do it in PE). I completed it in Nov. 2012. . . . and I haven't run that far since then. 6) I have the sense of humor of a seven-year-old boy. The name Albert Pujoles (pronounced poo holes) makes me laugh.7) My three-year-old is currently potty training, and I am secretly hoping that my husband will have that mess sorted out before I get back home ;-) 8) I love to read. I always have at least one book that I'm reading. 9) I live in a house full of men (my hubby and three sons), so I'm super excited about the opportunity to spend some time with the ladies. 10) Speaking of men, I hope you don't mind that I'm bringing a guy to stay in the room with us. Don't worry, he's really nice (and he's pretty cute).The extra roommate - my four-month-old, baby J. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to learn, grow, and have fun with new friends! Allume, here I come!!  *********************************************************************************Want to join the conversation? Come hang out with me on Facebook or Twitter.Don't want to miss a post? Sign up for posts to be sent to your e-mail inbox! #mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; } Subscribe to our mailing list                                                                    [...]