Being a mom is the hardest thing I've ever done, but it has brought me so much joy! I want to encourage other moms on their journey, I'll share motherhood tricks, spotlight tips I've learned from friends, and I hope you will share your ideas. I will focus on secrets that help families stay balanced, healthy, frugal, creative, and closely knit. I will also share favorite fiction and nonfiction books that I have enjoyed. Many blessings to you on your mothering journey!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

When You are Riddled with Anxiety

I woke up at 4:30 this morning (2 hours and 15 minutes before the alarm goes off), and my brain started churning.  My thoughts are riddled with anxiety.  Not over work, but over family worries.  Satan loves to trap me into these thinking patterns.  "You're not doing enough. You're not loving enough.  You're not involving enough.  You're not building enough. You're not being intentional enough."  I bet he has a series of thoughts that he drills into your heart and mind too. 

So my job, as my mind is spinning, is to tell Satan to "Get out!  Leave me alone!  I'm God's child, I follow his ways, and I will go where he leads me to do what he asks me to do."  My plea should be to the Lord, "Calm my soul, still my heart, speak your truths to the depths of my being."

And God whispered one verse to me as I was tossing and turning in bed:

Ps 55:22  Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you;
When I finally got out of bed 45 minutes later, he gave me several more verses:
1 Peter 5:7  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Mt 11:28-30  Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Phil 4:6-7  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Note to self:  None of these scriptures tell me to map out a plan and work to achieve my goals.  They all focus on the posture of my heart.  Lord, let me recline beside you and turn my ears to hear your voice.  Center my heart and mind on things above.  Guide me, hold me, transform me, use me, and fill me with more of you.
What is heavy on your heart today?  Take time to share your heart with the Lord, because he cares for you.  Let HIM sustain you.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Overcoming Fear

Fear defined too many years of my life, and I've seen fear paralyze too many women.  Here are some scriptures to meditate on when you struggle with fear.  Share them with other women who you know struggle with fear.  Be a LIGHT of hope and promise that helps to stamp out the darkness created by fear!

The Lord says, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”  (Isaiah 43:1-5) 
Because you are with us, we can say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"  (Hebrews 13:6)

Therefore, “Let your mind be controlled by the truth of the gospel when fear threatens to control you instead.” (Arlin Troyer)  Dwell in your sanctuary with your Father:  meditate on his promises and pray diligently for the Lord to overcome your struggle with fear. 
Do you have favorite scriptures that you cling to in order to overcome fear?  I'd love to hear them!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Books that Build Character (for 5th grade and higher)

A friend asked for advice about character-building books to read with his 11-year old son.  I pondered the question for a while before responding.  I asked quite a few people to share their favorite books, but few people had character books to shrae.  Here is what I came up with:

William Bennett - book of virtues
William Bennett - The Moral Compass
Bill Gothard's Character Sketches books - tough reads, but good to read together.  especially if your son likes animals.
I haven't read the Trailblazer series of christian biographies for kids, but I'm intrigued.

Building Christian Character - post from my blog with good character books
Great post from my homeschooling friend Christy Reeder about character-building books

Some classic books that are likely to have great character/leadership/life lessons:
Where the red fern grows
Wrinkle in time
Island of the blue dolphins
My side of the mountain
The Hobbit
Chronicles of narnia
Treasure island
Swiss family Robinson
Robin hood
Black beauty
The black stallion
Treasures of the snow
Little house on the prairie
Johnny tremain
Little men

I look forward to hearing your favorite character-building books!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Book Review - Mortal Fire

When I signed up to review Mortal Fire, by C.F. Dunn, , I didn’t realize that it really wasn’t my style of book.  I’m not a fan of dark, brooding suspense, so read my review with a grain of salt. 
This is the tale of Emma, a young professor searching for secrets in a hidden 17th century journal.  There are many interruptions in her search – friends playing matchmaker, malicious professors, violent attacks, falling in love with another professor.  There are many complications in the relationships that Emma works to understand and overcome – most which I cannot describe without spoiling the story.  There is a current of fear and suspense throughout the book which perhaps raises more questions than it gives answers.  The author leaves much room for character and plot development throughout the series.
Overall, I found the book to be slow, dark, and confusing.  The storyline has potential, but it would benefit from the paring of a good editor.  I won’t be reading the rest of the stories, but if you like dark suspense novels, you might enjoy them more than me.
This book was provided by Kregel Publications, in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fiction Book Review - The River

I just finished reading Michael Neale’s first book, The River.  It is the passionate tale of a boy’s love, loss, grief, healing, and discovery.  Readers are sure to identify with various parts of his journey, and find a silent invitation to explore their own souls.  He uses his storytelling gift to explore so many heart issues, such as loss, grief, fear, anger, abandonment, friendship, leadership, confidence, exhilaration, discovery, forgiveness, family relationships, and love. 

The book definitely has Christian undertones, but few references are made to the Christian faith.  It left me wanting to ask Neale about Christian messages that he hoped to portray through the text.

I would recommend this book to male and female readers that are ages 15+.  It will hold an even greater appeal to readers interested in the outdoors.
I received this book as a gift from Thomas Nelson Publishers, in exchange for my honest review of the product.

Book Review - Being Frank (Talking with Kids about Thoughtfulness and Honesty)

My 10 year old son and I just read a delightful new children’s book, titled “Being Frank”.  It was written by Donna Earnhardt and illustrated by Andrea Castellani.  It is about a little boy who shares his opinions SO honestly that it hurts feelings and relationships. 

The book has a great message for adults training children with a knack for being a bit too frank.  This was a BIG struggle for my daughter at age 4.  I vividly (and with horror) remember her loudly sharing in front of the waiter “Mommy, he’s really fat.”, and in front of a woman at the pool, “Mommy, she’s not modest.”.  And my 7-year old son told me last month, “You’re not good at telling jokes mom, you’re not very funny.  You should just stick to talking.”  All true, but definitely not shared with grace!

Earnhardt offers a lovely and humorous way to talk with young children about being respectful and thoughtful while also being honest.  She shares great examples of the good and bad ways to express your honest opinions.

Daniel, age 10, says, “I like the book.  It teaches you how to tell the truth, and it’s really funny.”

This is a good resource for counselors to use in class.  It’s good for parents and grandparents to read to children ages 4-8, and possibly even with middle school children.  The website also has creative activity downloads to further enhance the lessons.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Knowing and Trusting

“Those who KNOW YOUR NAME will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.”  Psalm 9:10

Help us to know your name, to understand your love, your gospel truth.  Once we understand your greatness and your faithfulness in the core of our beings, we will surely trust you more.  And as we trust you, your peace will calm our countenance, and we will radiate you presence.  Help us to look into your eyes and truly know your name.

Monday, September 03, 2012

A Posture of Praise Affects Relationships

“I will extol the Lord at ALL times; HIS praise will always be on my lips. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.” Psalm 34:1-2

What does it look like to be always praising the Lord?

What would our conversations sound like if we were constantly praising the Lord?

How would our marriages and friendships look differently, if HIS praise were always on our lips?

Let’s take some time to consider the words that we choose, because they are so powerful.  My bitterness or my praise-filled spirit will greatly affect my marriage and family.

Let’s be wise about the conversation topics we start, and let’s practice guiding negative conversations back to gospel-centered conversations.  Invite friends and family to glorify the Lord with you by the way you talk together.

What can you praise the Lord for today?  How might God use your heart’s posture of praise to impact others?