Saturday, August 27, 2016

Recent Inspirations

It’s a crazy world out there. Amongst the materialism and the temptations of the flesh, these things have been the more recent fuel that kept alive my passions for God, marriage, motherhood and philanthropy…

This song (Trust in You by Lauren Daigle), especially the chorus.

“Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.” Psalm 127:3. A reward. Kind of changes the way I view diaper changes and stepping on Legos.

Pretty much the entire audiobook of Looking for Lovely while I do dishes. Annie F Downs is a new favorite of mine. =]

“To give a successful apology, you must learn to speak the apology language of your spouse.” –The30 Day Love Language Minute Devotional by Gary Chapman
You guys. For real. I had never even heard of this concept before.  My apology language is “I’m sorry” or, if you messed up real bad, “I’m so sorry.” For years I have felt like people these days just don’t apologize. It turns out pretty much everyone apologizes, just not in a way that I recognized. I never thought “I wish I hadn’t ____” or “I should never have ____” were apologies until I read this passage in a daily devotional. I almost didn’t share this for fear I’d look silly but so far everyone I’ve talked to about it has been surprised to hear that apology doesn’t necessarily look the same to all of us. Just interesting.

This blog post offering a perfect reminder of how motherhood just takes practice 

All of the beautiful, unique, brilliantly inspirational birth stories going into my upcoming book, a collection of birth stories showing the way God speaks to, inspires, encourages, and holds up women during birth. I am so, so excited about this project, y’all.

“Love has won infinitely more converts than theology. The first believers were drawn to Christ’s mercy long before they understood His divinity.” –Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker

Ryan was for whatever reason explaining to our son that lots of kids in the world don’t have all the things he has. He really perfectly explained in a three-year-old’s language that some kids don’t get food even if their bellies are hungry, some kids don’t have clean clothes that fit them, some kids don’t have shoes, some kids don’t have mommies or daddies to hug them and love them.
“I know! Maybe we could hepp them! We could give them food and clothes and hugs!”
I thought for a moment, if only it were that easy. And then I realized it is that easy.
Before I could even say anything Ryan said, “Yes! We can! That’s our job. That’s why God made us.”
There is no person on the planet I’d rather parent these babies with. <3

“It takes a full twenty minutes after your stomach is full for your brain to register satiation. How long does it take your soul to realize that your life is full? The slower the living, the greater the sense of fullness and satisfaction.” –OneThousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

So I have this belief that God will not let me fail at helping others. That’s our job, you know? These people are strangers to us but they are His babies and I think He would straight up move mountains for me if that was what I needed to do to help His children.
One of the ways we’re doing that right now is Operation Christmas Child. We do a box or two every year but this year we’re committed to a whopping 15 boxes we simply cannot afford. We’ve had all kinds of random things pop up and within a month we’re already almost done with five. That’s already inspiring enough in itself. We have a cardboard box in the other room we’re filling up with OCC items as they come to us. A few prizes from the summer reading program that are a bit too old for our own kids, a few cloth dolls I thought were cute at the dollar store, travel-sized toothpaste tubes on sale for $.25, a free Chick Fil A kids meal book my mother-in-law sent the kids that we already had, things like that. My son was putting stickers on a freshly colored letter and I asked him if I could have one of the sheets for the box. He smiled and gave me three. Three sheets of his beloved stickers when he could have just said no to the one.

May I always be as generous as my (amazing) boy.

My friend Steffani sent me a nice little camping post from a new-to-me blog and I fell in love with their cabin story (though not the actual cabin… I LOVED the raw wood photos but then they painted it white and it made me kind of sad!) Any ways, this quote: “There’s something of a jewel found in a small box, a place where there’s room only for that most treasured and nothing more.” from this post 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Book Review: God Gave Us Thankful Hearts

I really love the God Gave Us series by Lisa Tawn Bergren. They're nice children's books with a good message and they have beautiful illustrations. We have borrowed a few from the library but we now own God Gave Us Thankful Hearts and have already read it many times.

Both of my big kids like the sweet animal pictures. They like to make animal noises when we read books and they're both in the fun stage of deciding every picture is of our family. ("Look! Me an Daddy!")

I really like the message of gratitude and after we read the book we always share three things we are thankful for. Even the 18-month-old joins in and gives sign language, usually saying she is thankful for BOOKS, CATS, and EATing. =]

If you've read any of Lisa Tawn Bergren's God Gave Us series, you'll like this. If you haven't? Definitely check them out! =]

*I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for review. The opinion is mine. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Pregnancy and Food, Food and Pregnancy

*This may seem like funky timing because it was an essay that didn’t make the cut for an upcoming book project. Enjoy =]

They go together like peanut butter and jelly. And also like peanut butter and tabasco sauce. Peanut butter and meatloaf. Peanut butter and peanut allergy.
Never in my life have I thought more about food than I have while pregnant. And I’m a food addict.
A large part of my pregnancies have been spent thinking about what to make for dinner.
In the beginning I am thinking about all the things I do not want: Eggs, meats, vegetables, fruits, cheese, nuts. This leaves rice, pasta, bread. I spend many first trimester nights wondering how I can trick my husband into thinking this bread is different from last night’s bread.
I forced down another bite of rice and then worried over whether or not my baby was getting all the protein/calcium/fiber/iron it needed. How many servings of leafy greens are in this green smoothie? I wondered as I pinched my nose shut.
The food aversion stage (basically) dissipates and I am overwhelmed by information about not-safe foods.
First I heard sushi was out. Then I heard vegetarian sushi or cooked sushi, like a fried Golden California Roll, were okay. I don’t like sushi so I ignored both pieces of information.
First I heard soft cheeses like feta were out, then I heard that most come pasteurized these days and to just double-check labels.
First I heard tuna was out, then I heard chunk-light-packed-in-water-and-harvested-in-the-US was safe.
I craved frozen yogurt during my first pregnancy so we went out to get some on an almost weekly basis. Then I heard, like a month after my baby was born, that all soft-serve ice creams are a no-no.
Cold-cut lunch meat, which I normally never want, is suddenly so desirable to me around the middle of each pregnancy.

Adjectives can make or break my day during pregnancy. Certain words can make me repulsed by my favorite foods or desperate to eat something I normally won’t touch.
Creamy. Crunchy. Sticky. Crispy. Moist. Flaky. Fluffy. Succulent. Tender. Juicy. Thick-cut. Slow-roasted. Gooey. Tangy. Caramelized. Flambéed. Melting. Sour. Sweet. Salty. Savory. Decadent.
Stop it. Just stop. Especially you, succulent.
Sticks and stones can break my bones. Words can keep me awake all night craving your stupid tender, juicy, crispy fried chicken. They can also make me throw up.
I think we should all agree to use very bland words to describe foods just in case a pregnant woman is nearby.

Acceptable food descriptions from now on:
“Can I start you with any appetizers this evening? Our garlic breadsticks are not gross.”
“This smoothie is delicious! Very smooth and smoothie-like!”
“You have GOT to try this perfectly cooked meat. It tastes good!”
“I recommend our vegetable soup It tastes like soup made of vegetables. Divine, really.”
“You have to taste this! It tastes so healthy!”
“This is deliciously bland! It is both tasteless and odorless. Positively delightful!”

Acceptable Instagram food posts from now on:
-Smoothies that are pinkish in nature.
-chocolate squares
-slices of bread with nothing on them
-rice with absolutely nothing in or on it
-plain, lightly-salted popcorn
-vanilla ice cream with no toppings

I am talking to restaurant owners, waiters, foodies, everyone with Internet, everyone at the beach, everyone in a coffee shop, everyone inviting anyone over to their house. Now we are all on the same page. Good.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Best Friends

Our three-year-old tells me 20+ times a day, “Mom? You’re my best friend.”

Sometimes he’ll hug me tight and look deep into my eyes and say “You’re my best friend ever.”
He says this all day long and then when Ryan gets home he spends the whole night saying it to Ryan instead. Both of us always tell him the same thing.
“Thank you! You’re my best friend too!”

Last night the one-year-old gave me a funny look and made her famous “EH!” noise and I thought she was probably thinking, “What am I, chopped liver?!”
I told her she is my best friend too, and that I love our family because we are all best friends. She looked satisfied. Then my boy whispered to me, “But I am your best friend EVER, okay?”

It made me smile. Someday I will call him and he won’t answer because he would rather hang out with his new #1 girl. I’ll just remind myself of last night.  

Monday, August 15, 2016

Book Review: Outlaw Christian by Jacqueline A. Bussie

I have a lot of thoughts and opinions on this subject and I’m having trouble writing about it without going a little overboard. Bear with me!

The older I get, the more I believe that faith is as unique as the person feeling it. My faith is very different from the faith of someone who has battled cancer, buried their child, overcome (or not) substance abuse problem, filed bankruptcy and started over. My faith is very different from the faith of someone who has witnessed a tragedy or taken a life or hugged orphans overseas.

I was interested when I started to read the synopses of Outlaw Christian because it seemed like Jacqueline A Bussie had the same view.

She uses the term outlaw to describe a Christian who doesn’t follow perfect cookie-cutter rules within their faith. She talks about things in this book I was once in no place to hear or understand, but now am. Being angry with God, for instance. It’s easy to gasp and cluck at the idea, but I bet it’s a whole lot more understandable when you’ve been through something so horrendous and keep hearing the same old clichés.

I’m struggling to review this book because I had conflicting feelings about it. Some passages really struck me and I completely greed. Others still bothered me a little. Anger at God, for instance, was a difficult one for me to read. I spent about a year very angry with God not too long ago and I feel awful about that now because it was really displaced anger. I had a right to be angry, but I don’t think with God.

There is a lot of suffering in this world and there are a lot of terrible things, things which I do of course have a lot of questions about. I don’t personally believe that every tragedy is “for a reason we just can’t see yet.” Miscarriage, for example… I will never believe that miscarriage is orchestrated by God, that He intentionally gives a woman a child to be excited about only to take that same baby away “for reasons we don’t know yet.” I think it’s just an unfortunate thing that breaks God’s heart too.

I’ve met people who lost a child and gave up their faith, but I’ve also met people who lost a child and lean more heavily into God than they ever had before. Some people volunteer in the poorest slums of the world and feel sick over a God who allows this kind of life, and others take the same trip and draw close to Him, suddenly feel his providential blessings and understand their purpose in this life is to go back and help those in need.

Again, I think faith is as unique as a fingerprint.

Bottom line, I think Outlaw Christian is a great read… but I think you have to be in the right place to be able to read it. Once upon a time this book would have offended me so I guess I’d say keep that in mind if you decide to look into it!

Favorite quote: “The point of all this is, God is a real friend, not a Facebook friend. God is interested in way more than your smiley, sunny pictures of your kids at their soccer game and your dog in his Santa hat, or for that matter your rant-post about the long line at Starbucks this morning. God wants the whole you. God wants a real conversation, not just a 140-character tweet or status update. God wants to sit with you, even if sometimes you just have to throw it all up. God wants to know everything that is really going on with you, all of your deepest thoughts and fears and idiosyncrasies and worries.”

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”