Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - You Never Know Where Thomas will Turn up...

Or how many pieces he will be in (poor Percy!)

Pictured: the contents of dirty pant pockets before laundry!

For more of Thomas's favorite places, go here!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What to do when you don't feel like it

I've been thinking about yesterday's post and Michael Hyatt's list and I'm wondering...

What do you do when your emotions overwhelm you for whatever reason, or none at all? What do you do when you need to get things done but you just don't feel like it?

I started my own list. Here's what I've got:

*Stay away from the Internet/e-mail/Facebook. These are things I do when I'm stalling. When I don't feel like doing anything else or want to waste time. Forcing myself away from them sometimes forces me into doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

*Set a tinsy, tiny goal and accomplish it. Then move on to the next thing and start building momentum.

* Promise myself a reward if I do what I need to do.

*Play a game with my kids. Sometimes just doing something gets me going. This is a fun something that involves connection. win-win!

* Pray for inspiration on what to tackle first.

* Do something that fills me up. There are times when I get worn down and no amount of handy "tips" will get me going because I'm running on empty. Those are the times I need to do something that fills me up, like reading a good novel or taking a nap.

* Just do it. Push through the "I don't feel like it" and do it anyway

* Spend time with Jesus. Read his word, pray or just being still.

These are a few things that work for me... what works for you?

Monday, April 25, 2011

I don't feel like it.

"If we do only what we feel inclined to do , some of us would do nothing forever and ever...The proof that we are rightly related to God is that we do our best whether we feel inspired or not."

-Taken from My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers

Feelings are deceitful. They cannot be trusted. They tend to blow things out of proportion and distort the truth.

I question my calling simply because I don't feel inspired.

Or, I act rashly because I do feel inspired and don't want to wait.

They make it hard to know what to do. I can't make a decision based solely on my feelings... can I?

Sometimes I do. Especially in the little things.

I don't feel like dusting so I don't. I don't feel like talking so I don't. I don't feel like getting up...

This may be okay on a Monday, but if I let my emotions rule, life can quickly spiral out of control. Pesky feelings.

On the other hand, feelings make life richer. Moments are held tighter. Relationships go deeper. Life is more colorful when we let emotion shade our vision.

Emotions are God-given, it's good to acknowledge them, as long as we don't live by them.

God give us His word and His spirit to help discern what's real and what's not. I'm thankful for that, especially when my emotions are out of control. When they cloud the truth and fog everything I see. When that happens, I try to take a step back, remind myself that feelings can't be trusted, pray for discernment to see the truth, and act on that truth.

Whether I feel like it or not.

I just wish it wasn't so hard to do.

***I just read this post on Michael Hyatt's blog, it felt like a good thing to share. :) ***

Friday, April 22, 2011

Hard Love

I'm participating in 5-minute Friday today. Here's how it works...

She provides the prompt (today's is Hard Love), you write for 5 minutes, whatever comes, no editing, no tweaking, it doesn't have to be "just right".

Hard Love. Go.

Love feels hard today.

It is dark and gray outside. Clouds covering the sun. One of those clouds has creeped inside. It follows me wherever I go. Raining down negative thoughts.

I'd like to say it affects only me, but clouds like this tend to reproduce at a rapid rate. Frustration seeps out of me and, like it or not, affects the little people around me.

Love feels hard today.

I need a good dose of truth. I need to remember the sacrifice that was made for me. The greatest love ever shown in the history of the world. That was a day when love had to feel hard. Physically... the nails pushed through his hands and feet. Emotionally... they weight of the world pressing down on his shoulders. Spiritually... the God of the universe turning his back on his beloved son.

That day, love was hard. And the world has never been the same since. Stop.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Have you experienced any miracles in your life?

Walking on water or feeding 5,000 with one child's meal. Making the blind see or raising the dead. These events scream miracle. Impossible for a mere human to pull off, there can only be one explanation...

This week as I prepare for Easter and think on the life of Christ, the miracles he orchestrated and the sacrifice he willingly made, I think about the miracle he did for me. The miracle he thrills at performing for whomever will ask.

He took my old, sin-stained heart and transformed it into something new and beautiful.

He saw value in me. He looked beyond my selfishness, the filthiness of my attempts at "righteousness" and pursued me anyway. And when I responded to his call and surrendered to his will, he transformed my heart into something new and made me holy.

And while my traitor self is still fighting to do wrong, my heart, my true self, transformed by Jesus longs for righteousness and the God who made me.

An impossible task for a mere human to complete; there can only be one explanation.

A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death...Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won't know what we are talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells...if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he'll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus...When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life.
(Rom. 8:2-3, 9-11 The Message)

Praising God for the miraculous work he does in those who follow him everyday!

Happy Easter everyone!

***Head on over to Jill Savage's blog today to read more stories of the miracles God has performed in her life and others. Click on the "click here" at the bottom of her blog post to see other blogger's links.***

Wordless Wednesday - Happy Easter!!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Winners

Thanks for all your comments and green ideas! I'll keep this short and sweet. The winner of the book Green Mama is.... Sarah R.!!! AND, The winner of the chicobag... Cara!!! Congrats girls! I'll be contacting you for shipping information shortly.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Embrace and Serve

I help her on the bus; she's ready to go.

"See you after preschool" I call as her big brother falls on the cement driveway. He needs comforting. Snuggles are a must. Followed by magic kisses for the ouchies. I relish the minute before it is banished by other requests that fight for my attention.

"Mom, I can't find any pants I like." "Mom, can I have a peanut butter sandwich?"

I leave little man so I can help his brothers; jumping from one "need" to another, wondering if the day will hold enough uninterrupted minutes for me to check something off my to-do list.

Motherhood is filled with reminders that my life is not my own.

Some days I embrace the reminders. Some days I wallow in frustration because of them.

The frustration comes more often when I'm focused on myself, when I don't take time to sit and be refocused. Spending time with Jesus is vital if I want to ward off frustration and embrace more.

When I choose to embrace and serve, the reward is great. Sought after treasures like joy and contentment find me. They creep in and yell "Surprise" when I'm not looking, reminding me why I love being a wife and mom. They prompt me to give thanks for the people I share my life with, the people I get to serve.

My life is not my own and joy comes when I choose to serve.

It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don't use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that's how freedom grows. For everything we know about God's Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That's an act of true freedom. Galatians 5:13 (The Message)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Interview with a Mom - Tracey Bianchi... and a GIVEAWAY!!!

Hello Friends, if you read my review of Tracey Bianchi's book Green Mama - The Guilt-Free Guide to Helping You and Your Kids Save the Planet, then you know I'm a fan. Today I get to share a little interview I had with Tracey and at the end of the interview, there just might be details on how you can win a prize or two!

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.

We've been blessed with a great family. Three children (two boys and a girl). The boys are ages 7 and 4 and our daughter is 3. My husband Joel and I have been married for 14 years and met one summer at a Bible Camp in Wisconsin. My husband comes from an enormous, fun, loud and crazy Chicago, Italian family so we've got tons of cousins and chaos to keep us busy. God has blessed us with a great community of friends and people we love just outside of Chicago.

Tell us a little bit about Green Mama and why you wrote it?

As a Christian I was really struggling with the fact that the whole environmental conversation had been hijacked by politics and the media. I believe in God and believe that he made this world for us to enjoy and for us to know him better. So it made sense to me that we would want to do all we could to protect and care for God's Creation. And, as a mom, I wanted to be sure my kids were growing up healthy and that God's earth would continue to nourish them when they were older. So, I wrote the book to try and take the conversation out of the hands of politics and media and to put it into the hands of us moms who are in the sticky mess of life with our children each and every day. I figured if moms can get behind this issue then we can indeed change the world together, one family at a time.

What has been the most challenging part about being a mom for you?

I love my kids deeply and praise God for them every single day. But I will also say that I had no idea how hard it was to be a mom! When my first son was born I struggled with loneliness and depression for a while and it was really hard. And I will say that some days it still can be lonely. Sometimes there is just too much to do and at the end of the day you are just too tired and exhausted to pick up the phone and try to connect with someone. So for me, just managing the balance between all the duties and details of motherhood and friendships and relationships. This is what has been challenging for me.

Share a tip, or something you do, to help your kids embrace the “green” lifestyle.

I think that the best tip I can offer is to help your kids love God's Creation. So many times in the green conversation people head straight for recycling or reusable bags or other action points. But we can forget WHY we are doing it all. We care about the action points and details because we love God and we want to know him more. So if our kids get outside and play or they pick a favorite trail or animal to learn about they are also learning about God. And if they become passionate about the people and places in this world and the God who made them, the rest will follow. So I think a great starting point is to fall in love with God's creation first, have fun, have adventures and then take the appropriate steps after that.

What is one green thing you wished every mom would do?

Drive less. Even if we live in rural areas and it is really hard to do so. Consider walking to an errand once a week if you can. And I know it is hard to do that for some folks but driving is one of the harshest activities we do. It's hard on our air quality and our quality of life too. By walking places we can take our time, check out the scenery around us. We can say hello to friends and neighbors and we become more connected to our communities and neighborhoods. Our kids get exercise too. So I would encourage people to try and walk to a place or errand at least once per week.

Share your favorite green tip?

I LOVE garage sales and resales. LOVE THEM! My favorite green activity is buying other people's junk ;) Now that's the sort of recycling that I love.

Any parting advice?

Just to encourage moms to really consider making a few lifestyle adjustments that can help God's planet. The Psalmist reminds us that "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." Every day God is speaking to us though Creation and as parents we've got to start listening to the voice of God from the places of beauty and splendor on this planet. There is a saying that reminds us as parents that we borrow this world from our children. That we are informing their future. We do this so well with worship and Bible study, sunday school classes and VBS. Let's also take God up on his offer to teach us through Creation. So I guess my parting advice would be to simply go outside and let your soul soak up God's sunshine, and then think about how to help others do the same.

Thanks for sharing Tracey!

To learn more on how to become a Green Mama, I'd encourage you to buy the book (or borrow mine if you are local!)


You could win a copy for yourself!!!!!

And that's not all! A second lucky winner will receive a chicobag, reusable bags that can be stored in your purse (the color of your choice!). Go here for more information on the bag.

For a chance to win, leave a comment on this post with your favorite green tip (or simply tell me you'd like to win!).

For two chances to win, share this post on facebook and then come back and leave a second comment on this post letting me know.

You have until Monday night (7 pm CST, April 18th) to enter. The winner will be announced on Tuesday, April 19th. Please leave your e-mail address so I can contact you if you win!

Good luck everyone and thanks for playing. :)

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Green Mama

I will never campaign to save the White Rhino. The word "tree-hugger" brings to mind images of liberal hippies chained to trees. I don't worry about global warming or climate change, in fact I rarely think about them.

At one point in my life, I associated all-things "green" with a liberal media who cared more about trees than human beings. But, through a little education, I have grown to see the importance of the green movement. I've learned that part of being a good steward means taking care of the planet we live on. As part of that stewardship, I've been trying to do my part. Things like remembering to bring my reusable bags to the grocery store and recycling for starters.

All that to say, I'm really excited to tell you about a book I read titled, Green Mama - The Guilt-Free Guide to Helping You and Your Kids Save the Planet by Tracey Bianchi.

No matter where you are on the green spectrum, this book is a good read. Written from a Christian perspective, it gives all the right reasons to go green and is filled with ideas, little and big, on how to do that. The ideas presented in this book are realistic and doable (written by a mom for moms), but be warned this book is much more than an idea book, Green Mama has challenged my thinking in a lot of ways.

It convicted me that I need to be a steward of more than the money and talents God has given me, but of the planet I live on, His creation. It challenged me to think about the purchases I make and how they affect the world, both before I bring them home and after I throw them away. It reminded me that part of going green is living in contentment and limiting what I buy. And, it confirmed that going green is not just about land and plants and animals, but about the people we share this planet with.

I still have no plans to help save the White Rhino, but I am trying to live a greener life. Many of you are far ahead of me in this journey, some may be lagging behind, but whatever shade of green you may be I believe this book will be a great resource to help you along the way.

***I love the message of this book and want to share it. All that to say, there just might be a giveaway or two on Friday! AND, if you have any questions you'd like to ask the author, leave a comment and stay tuned!***

Monday, April 04, 2011

Gotcha Day - the video!

She hasn't been herself the last few days. She's been battling fever and a cough that won't go away. Her normal sunny personality has been clouded with gray. This morning the suhn peeked through again. She is on the mend and I will be so glad to have her feeling better and back to normal.

At church yesterday a friend reminded me that one year ago we had no idea what life with Suhn was like. She was a dream. Today I can't imagine life without her. I am thankful beyond words that God hand-picked her for us. He knew we needed her.

Today I'm going to share Suhn's gotcha day video with you. It is a little long (just over 13.5 minutes), but it is so special. It shows the day we received a precious gift, wrapped in a beautiful red dress.

Suhn, you fill our lives with joy. We are so glad you are ours!

Friday, April 01, 2011

A, B, C

Many, many, many, many moons ago I wrote a post about a trip to the library and a corresponding goal.

I know have been DYING to know what became of that goal (to read a book by an author whose last name started with A, followed by one whose last name started with B, etc. and etc.).

"What letter is she on?" you may have asked yourself over the last few years. "Has she made it through the alphabet? What on earth did she read for X? Did she even make it past A?"

The questions are endless and I have left you hanging. For that I apologize and offer these hope-filled words: "Hang no more."

(Don't worry, this is not an April Fool's joke!)

Yes I have continued on. No I did not read through the entire alphabet.


I have in fact only made it through the letter C (but I have letter D sitting on my living room table; I WAS going to start it but another book came in the mail which I will be sharing with you next week, THEN comes D).

I'm sure every. single. one. of you are dying with curiosity at this point. Hanging on every. single. word that I type....

WHAT, by golly, did she read AND DID she like them?

Lucky you, that's what comes next!

Author A: Jane Austin. I read Mansfield Park. As this was 2.5 years ago, I don't remember a ton. It was not one of my favorite Austin books (I liked Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice much better). I remember it being a little hard to get through, but enjoyable.

Author B: Pearl S. Buck. This was a very pleasant find. If you've never read Ms. Buck's words before, she writes predominately about China (an obvious interest of mine). For this little project I read Peony, which I loved. The main character is a Chinese servant girl living in a Jewish household in China, one of the last Jewish households in the city (which is in Henan province where Suhn is from!!). The book does a great job showcasing the struggle between culture and heritage. I have read more of Ms. Buck's novels as a result of reading this one and plan to read more in the future.

Author C: Willa Cather. I chose O Pioneers! I LOVED the first sentence in this book, "One January day, thirty years ago, the little town of Hanover, anchored on a windy Nebraska tableland, was trying not to be blown away." I thought the book was beautifully written, and the entire time I read it I felt like I knew the story (I think it was made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie years and years ago and that I watched it.). I did not like the ending, but thoroughly enjoyed Willa's writing style and would like to read My Antonia which is considered by many to be her masterpiece.

So there you have it... A, B, and C.

Curious what D is?

My previous hope-filled words do not apply anymore...

Here is where I leave you hanging!