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!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Book Review: The Jesus Bible by Zondervan

I've thoroughly enjoyed exploring The Jesus Bible this month.  The subtitle is "Discover Jesus in Every Book of the Bible", and it stays true to its mission.

I's a modern looking edition with youth-friendly colors and feel.  It's hardcover and it has Jesus' words printed in red.  There are 365 devotions scattered throughout the Bible.  They are very kid-friendly examples using nicknames ,superheroes, legos....  Each devotion helps readers understand the scripture and connect the story to the life of Jesus.  The devotionals also have quick prayer starters that help children/youth reflect upon the application of the scripture to their lives.

The book introductions have all the normal features - author, purpose, audience, timeline..., but they also include two features that make this Bible special.  Each intro asks:  Where is Jesus in this book?  What stories are in this book?

I love the Hints of the Savior pull-outs in the Old Testament that  make connections from the OT to the NT, showing readers where God fulfilled promises.  The NT has a similar feature titled Jesus Revealed, where they show references to OT prophecy.

I also like the 'Live Like Jesus' inserts that help youth ponder how they could live like Jesus.

The publisher describes the book this way:  "Discover Jesus In Every Book of the Bible Jesus isn't just found in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. His presence can be felt throughout the whole Bible, even in Genesis. The Jesus Bible contains the complete New International Version (NIV) with daily study helps that point to Jesus and show how he fulfilled the prophecies for the Messiah found in the Old Testament."

Some of the special features of this Bible:Notes to help apply Jesus' teachings to real life today
Promises/prophesies made about Jesus 
Index of the Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in Christ
List of Jesus' miracles and parables
List of "I am" statements that Jesus made
List of who saw Jesus alive
Timeline of Jesus' life
Lineage of Jesus
I would recommend this Bible for youth ages 9-14.  It's intended for either gender, but it feels perhaps slightly more appropriate for boys.

I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Displaying Kids' Artwork

Our 3 kids come home with a lot of artwork from school and church - not to mention what they create at home!  If we displayed all of their work, our home would be wallpapered in artwork.  But we do want to display some of their work.  It's a way for us to say 'thank you', 'I appreciate your work', and even 'I love you'.  So we've dedicated space in two of our living areas to display work - the doors in our kitchen and playroom.  I rotate the art out periodically, and I save favorites to display in the future.  Our doors currently display snowman and valentine art from 2009-present, and I love it!  How do you celebrate your kids art without letting it overwhelm your home?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Warm and cozy

Sitting down to write with my colleague at provence. Feeling very inspired by the beautiful frosted mint hot cocoa the barista made for me, so I had to share.  :-)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Repost: Time for Cards? Try Sevens

I just learned a new card game from Jennifer at 6ftmama.  It's called Sevens, and I think I played it once years ago.  I look forward to teaching our kids!  Check out verbal and pictoral directions at the link above.  Happy card playing!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Bedtime story night

We are at bedtime story night at our local elementary school. my kids love listening to the teachers and community leaders read stories. there are so many volunteers sharing information about safety and other pertinent information for parents and families.  I'm sure the kids will love the ending treat - cookies and milk!  Events like these are great opportunities to inspire a love for reading an to build community among school families.  And I appreciate the extra chance to see my children's teachers interacting with children.  We are so blessed to have amazing teachers!

Newest Family Board Game - Catan

Have you seen the board game "Settlers of Catan"?  Our friends Nathan and Rachel introduced us to it, and my kids are hooked.  We borrowed it from them for two months this fall, 'til Gramma and Papa gave it to them for Christmas.  It's a strategy game for older kids and adults.   If your kids like strategy  and they have a good attention span, you should check out this game.  Beware - you might get hooked!

Do you have other favorite games for kids ages 10-15?

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Book Reiew: The Vicar's Wife

Many phrases come to mind when I think of The Vicar's Wife:
beautiful look at history
expansive vocabulary
well-developed characters
views from two different eras in the same small village
quite empathetic
very relatable
easy to read

Living with the characters will invite you (silently) to ask deep questions that we all have to struggle with in life and marriage.  Who am I?  How will I invest my time?  Who will I allow to impact my plans and my purpose?  What am I willing to give up for my marriage?  How can I honor my spouse in decision-making?  How will I find joy in tough situations? How do I find supportive community when I'm in new places?  What do I do when I love my children, but don't like the phase they're in?  How can I bring light into dark and dreary places?  How will I recover when I lose something important to me?

From the publisher:
"A New Yorker all her life, Jane Hatton loved her job as the head of a charity championing women’s rights, but her fourteen year- old daughter, Natalie, had fallen in with the wrong crowd at her Manhattan school. So Jane and her British husband, Andrew, have decided to move their family to the English countryside. The Hattons have bought the large old vicarage in a small village on the Cumbrian coast, near Andrew’s new job. The silence and solitude of a remote village is quite a change. Natalie hates her new school, and eleven-year-old Ben struggles academically. Only seven-year-old Merrie enjoys country life. Has Jane made a horrible mistake? What of her career? Her own identity? Putting on a brave face for the family, Jane tackles renovating the rambling, drafty old house. When she finds a scrap of a very old shopping list, she grows curious about Alice, the vicar’s wife who lived there years before. As the twin narratives unfold—of Jane in the present and Alice in the 1930s—we discover that both are on a journey to discover their true selves, and to address their deepest fears."

I would recommend this book to any female reader age 16+.  The content is appropriate for a younger audience, but the storyline is more suited to adult readers.

I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Mary Englebreit Art

I love Mary Englebreit's whimsical artwork.  I cut pictures out of an old calendar to post in the house through the various seasons.  Her art captures the magic of the seasons!  Calendar art is so pretty & so great for simple decorations!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Blustery wind game

it's incredibly windy today; I think pooh would probably call it a blustery day. so we decided to play a game on the way to school, counting how many ways we could see and hear that the wind was blowing. It was so fun to play with my seven and nine year old. we watched flags, leaves, signs, snow, cars, grill covers, bushes and trees.we counted 21 things we could see on our short drive. They loved it.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Repost from Jennifer: How to Create Fresh New Energy

I think all of us could probably use some fresh energy.  Check out the practical ideas in this article from Jennifer Salness:

Friday, January 17, 2014

Repost: Artic Bubbles

Have you ever frozen bubbles?  Have you caught any of your frozen bubbles on camera?  Check out this post to learn how to freeze bubbles and take great pictures of the bubbles:

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

What does your family stand for?

I snapped this picture when visiting my friend Jennie's house last week.   I love the way it captures their family values in a friendly, creative and engaging way.  And I love that it uses scriptures to define their family values.  I know that intentional living starts with creating, documenting and continually pondering a family mission; so I think hanging a sign like this is a great idea!

I'd like to create something similar for our family, so I need to spend some time thinking through our values this week.  Do you have something similar that you use for your family?  I'd love to borrow ideas from you too!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Guest Blog Post: Resolve to Make Family-Focused Volunteer Efforts in 2014

I'm featured as a guest blogger at ParentFurther this week.  They asked me to write an article about practical ways for families to start volunteering together.  You can read the article here:
Resolve to Make Family-Focused Volunteer Efforts in 2014

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Book Review: Once-A-Day Country Faith

First impression:  beautiful coffee table book for country music lovers.  It offers a quick glimpse into the everyday lives of 56 country music artists, hearing each person's favorite verse and why it's important to him.  It also includes the book of Mark from the Bible, challenging readers to choose their own favorite scriptures and share inspiration with others.

From the publisher:  "Pour yourself a fresh, cold glass of sweet tea and ease into your favorite chair with a copy of the Once-A-Day Country Faith. You’ll enjoy a front row seat to an intimate look at your favorite country stars as they discuss the personal significance of their favorite Bible passage. With contributions from 56 of today’s top country artists, the Once-A-Day Country Faith includes the Bible passage that tops each of their charts as well as the reasons why this part of scripture is so valuable to them. After reading Country Faith, you’ll be inspired to identify the Bible passage that’s most meaningful to you. You’ll also listen to your favorite country artists in a whole new way."

Some of the artists include Carrie Underwood, Trisha Yearwood, Lee Greenwood, Brad Paisley, Miranda Lambert, Billy Ray Cyrus, Wynonna, Sara Evans, Lorrie Morgan...

Don't expect a Bible study, a devotional, or deep inspiration.  But if you're looking for a light look at faith through the eyes of country stars, you'll enjoy this book.  It's a great gift book for seekers or Christians that love country music.

I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Let it Snow!

It's freezing in Tennessee this week!  If it's going to be a high of 5 degrees, I wish we could at least have snow!  Instead we're out of school with extreme temperatures, and it's too cold for the kids to play.  Oh well, we'll enjoy the snow days anyway!!

Today we spent an hour watching youtube clips from the movie Frozen, and singing the Frozen songs at the top of our lungs.  If you haven't seen the movie, you need to go see it - the story is so creative and the music is beautiful!  We've also been listening to the Disney station on Pandora, and it pulls up several Frozen songs, which encourage the kiddos to dance around the house.  So much Frozen fun!

Monday, January 06, 2014

"99 Stories from the Bible" by Juliet David

I just finished reading 99 Stories from the Bible by Juliet David. It's a great Bible story book for preschoolers or young readers.  We gave a copy of it to our first grader for Christmas.

The publisher describes it this way:  "Following the narrative of the Bible, this collection of 99 stories starts with At the Beginning, and covers a wide variety of key events, including Samuel Listens, Esther, A Blind Man Sees, and Jesus Walks on the Lake, through to One Day Jesus Will Return. Each story is told over a double page spread with vibrant illustrations and some full page art."

The bright pictures bring the stories to life.  The clear language makes stories easy for children to understand and imagine.  There are many more stories than a typical book of Bible stories.

This is a great tool for families to use to study God's word together.  It's also a great book for adults to use to get a big picture view of the Bible.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.