Confident Moms, Confident Daughters- a review

Confident Moms, Confident Daughters is a book I wish every mother would read on behalf of their daughters. From an early age in our culture, girls are bombarded with images, messages and examples telling them that their worth and value lies solely in how they look.  We are shown and sold the message that beauty is a treatment. As mothers of daughters, we acknowledge that we do not want these toxic messages infiltrating our daughter’s hearts, yet, we are reluctant to do the work or make the effort to guard our own hearts from these same messages. 

In her book, Maria Furlough emphasizes the importance of discovering our true inner beauty and where our worth and value are found- in Christ alone.  She does not sugar coat or present her message with a Pollyanna undertone, but faces tough issues and questions with honesty and her own experience. 

Confident Moms, Confident Daughters is a book I will return to again and again as I navigate the choppy waters of raising a daughter in an image-is-everything world. This book can be used as a weapon in this battle and is one I am determined to use not only on my daughter’s behalf but my own as well.  

 

*From time to time, Revell Publishing gives me books to review.  All opinions are my own. 

Advertisements

Back Roads to Belonging- a review

Kristen’ Strong’s book, Back Roads to Belonging, is like sitting down with a friend with whom you can be your truest self.  Kristen meets you where you are feeling the most lonely and isolated in life and lovingly guides you toward finding meaningful connection with not just new people, but your people.  By sharing her own story and heart, Kristen leads by example.

This book entered my life at the perfect time:  as my children are getting ready to begin a new school year. Despite the excitement this time of year can bring, I always feel a tad bit anxious about finding my own place among the other moms as my children navigate theirs on the playground. This time around, thanks to Kristen and her beautiful book, I am confident that no matter the path I take, I will find my way to belonging. 

 

*From time to time, Revell publishing sends me books to review.  The opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Thankful Thursday

A few things I’m thankful for this week:

  1. tired kids who go to bed easily
  2. time to myself in the evenings (after kids are tucked in)
  3. a cold snap that finally makes it feel like fall
  4. new to us children’s museums to explore
  5. picnics
  6. beautiful leaves falling down all colorful
  7. parent teacher conferences
  8. online inspiration
  9. trunk or treats (my fave!)
  10. cousins with kiddos the same age as ours
  11. flannel sheets
  12. exciting world series games that keep me up way too late!

Thankful Thursday

I can hardly believe the end of 2017 is just around the corner. I’m starting to get itchy to begin my year-end reflections and start dreaming about all of the possibilities for 2018. One thing I know for sure is going to be on my list do to more of is to practice the discipline of gratitude. So today, I’m doing some of that here on the blog. May your eyes be open to all of the goodness and giftings God offers every day.

369. Learning (slowly) to sew

370. Family hikes

371. A glimpse of my kids holding hands

372. Audio books

373. Road trip picnics

374. parades

375. stormy afternoons

376. the dark shadow of mountains at sunset

377. Big boy bed smiles

378. writer friends

379. a dry basement after a massive storm

380. green backpacks with white stars

Expiration Date

The first taste is always the best. Whether you are sipping your first cup of coffee in the morning, or taking your first swig of a sparkling water in the afternoon. That first sip is always the best. Most weekday mornings, I return home from dropping my kids at their schools and make myself a second cup of coffee to enjoy in the quiet.

I fully admit, I’m one of those types of coffee drinkers who enjoy their cream with a splash of coffee. This morning when I was returning the half and half to the refrigerator shelf, I noticed the expiration date on the carton and the date on the back up carton on behind it. (I told you, I was serious about my cream!) And even though both containers have a ways to go before they expire, it got me thinking.

What if we had expiration dates? I’m not talking about the day we die, I’m talking about expiration dates for our usefulness in life or for tasks we are assigned to do in order for them to have maximum impact. What if there was an invisible date stamped on us that only God could see where after that date passed, we were no longer useful and he just tossed us aside or said, “Never mind, I’ll just use someone else.” Isn’t that an awful thought?

I sat and pondered this for quite a while as I sipped my coffee this morning. I’m so thankful that we serve a God who never gives up on us- even though we might give up on ourselves from time to time. He never tosses us aside if we make huge mistakes in life and refuses to call us hopeless or useless. Basically, as long as we are drawing breath, he has a use for us in His Kingdom and his Word repeatedly tells us that it is never too late to begin again. He has a purpose for our lives and a future he wants to bestow upon us.

I’m thankful my passion and desire to write did not “expire” when I allowed it to sit idle for several years. I’m grateful that my life story did not “expire” when I thought I would never get married or have a family. I’m so happy that God continues to challenge and grow my experiences and interests even though it often feels like my “adult brain” has “expired” from too many games of Candy Land or episodes of Chuggington.

He is the renewer of our hopes and dreams. He never wants us to give up hope or just “expire” and be or feel tossed aside.  Our God has purpose for us every day even as we get old and gray. There are people around us and generations behind us who need our wisdom, our shared experiences and our enthusiasm for living to be passed down.

Thankfully we serve a God whose purposes and plans for our lives never expire. As I’m working on emerging from a difficult season in my life, I’m so grateful that I do not have an expiration date on my usefulness in life and that it is never too late to get started- again.  God’s timing is always perfect.  His goodness and grace towards us are forever, and thank goodness our calling in life never expires!

Creativity

I am a house-lover. We live in mid-west suburbia and I’m always on the hunt for ways to add character to our home and make it feel cozier. My Instagram feed is packed with creative people who love to post pictures of their homes and seeing what they come up with makes my heart sing with possibility.

I possess zero DIY skills and even less confidence in that area, but I have my dreams and ideas and a healthy desire to learn.  I LOVE to rearrange furniture and move things from room to room. It may sound ridiculous, but a pretty shelf or vignette can boost my spirits and a lovely space causes my heart to swoon.

We do not have money trees growing in our yard, so my hobby/passion is always a slow work in progress and an exercise in respecting our budget.  But I actually think that is a good thing.  For me, beauty is often found in figuring out new ways to see, love and use the things we already have.  I’m not an artist or a trained creative by any stretch, but I am slowly rediscovering how much I truly do love using the creativity that God has given me.

We are God’s handiwork, designed with intention to connect with Him through the use of our creative giftings.  Doing this with the right spirit, can feel like worship.  For so long, I neglected this part of my God-given design.  I left my camera on the shelf, I stopped writing and collected hundreds of home ideas without taking any action.  My relationship with the Creator suffered as a result. I allowed images of perceived perfection, comparison and whispers of doubt to sneak in and speak lies loudly into my heart.  I stopped believing that I had anything to offer and my trust in my God-given identity as a creative began to waver.

Honestly, working to re-awaken my creative muscles has felt a bit like waiting for Lazarus to emerge from the tomb. Even though I am far from where I want to be, there is progress being made, and for so long I feared that kind of change was impossible for me.  I am thankful that we serve a creative God who delights in restoring possibility and beauty in our hearts. He gives these good gifts which can then spill into our homes and into the lives of those around us.  He is the giver of life and the re-newer of our hopes; our ultimate source of creativity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Try

As a mom, I’m always encouraging my kiddos to “try”  again and again. I want to see my children put forth efforts to conquer challenges in life that feel difficult, whether that is pulling up your own pants after going potty, or working to craft the perfect lower case ‘q’.   In a perfect world, my children would willingly try new things without complaint.  They would practice and attempt repeatedly without frustration.  I know, dream world right?  Who likes to try and fail on a regular basis? Last time I checked, not many kids and even fewer adults…actually, no one does.

Especially adults.  I am the pot calling the kettle black.  My kiddos are on a steep learning curve in pretty much every area of their lives due to their ages.  Me, as an adult, I can kind of coast most of the time without crashing into too many feelings of “failure” in my every day life.  So when I do encounter feelings of failure, I find myself struggling and shrinking back and being unwilling to try. Especially when I try and do something “technical.” My feelings of inadequacy flood everywhere and I feel hopeless and useless and like a complete failure.

Recognizing and owning these feelings for myself and how difficult it is to try (and struggle to find success in) new things has been useful as I work on navigating these feelings expressed by my children.  My own struggles have grown my empathy and compassion in a really powerful way. As much as I dislike camping out in frustration, it helps me to be mindful of how my children feel when they cannot tie shoes, ride a bike or accomplish whatever new activity they might be attempting.

Sometimes I get caught up in the accomplishment side of things and feel frustrated at my lack of “mastery,” giving myself no credit for progress.  Not the way to go. Our real victory lies in celebrating progress made and for the courage to keep trying.  So today I’m choosing to celebrate some baby steps I’ve recently taken and I’m sending this message out into the world as I need to hear it the most myself:  Keep trying. Keep pushing forward.  Celebrate the small victories along the way and remember- you only fail when you stop trying.

 

 

 

 

Embracing the New

I sat outside the bar in my car trying to convince myself to go inside. I really wanted to be at home in my jammies reading my book or watching TV. I validated all of my points in my mind about how it had been a long day, there would be other opportunities, I had not been sleeping well and going to bed early might be beneficial, on and on my thought pattern went.  I texted my dear friend who lives out of state and told her how I was lamely sitting outside alone trying to muster the courage to go inside.  She knows my introverted ways and is always in my corner.  She replied with a funny text and the silly reassurance that she was in my corner, and that was all I needed. On some level, I needed to be reminded that even though ‘new’ was knocking (new life stage, new friends, new experiences) the ‘old’ (people who have walked with me through so many life seasons before) would always be there.

I eventually got out of my car, and went inside where I was greeted warmly by some new to me people and a few familiar faces. I’m in a stage of life where I am constantly meeting new people.  There has been a lot of “new” in my life over the past year, and honestly at times, I have felt overwhelmed by all of it.  But it’s getting better.  Faces in the crowd are becoming familiar, relationships are being built and friendships formed. My history with these new women is short, but our futures together are long. These are the new faces who will be in my corner as I raise my kids and help them navigate through school and beyond.

I’m thankful that everyone I have met has been warm and friendly and open about the fact that we are all in this ‘new’ stage together of trying to remember names and whose kid is whose.  I’m trying to embrace the challenge of putting myself out there in effort to make new friends. I realize that my “new” friends that I’m making here during elementary school will eventually become my “old” friends as we move forward into middle school and beyond.

We are wired for connection and as women, wives and mothers we always need the support of one another. Even if its as simple as texting your pal when she is sitting in her car needing her friend. Old friends are the best and always will be.  But the greatest part about investing in new friendships, is when you give them time and effort, they too will eventually turn into the beautiful old ones you treasure in your heart.

Thankful

If you are new around here, one of the things you might not know about me is that for years, I used to blog on another blog.  You can click over to it here if you are interested.  I started writing there when we found out half way through our first pregnancy that our son would not survive more than a few hours after he was born.  His name was Luke and he was perfect and precious and lived in our arms for several beautiful hours on a day that we will forever cherish.

I started writing because of Luke and I’m forever thankful to him for helping me unlock this part of my identity. I wrote and wrote and wrote our story of becoming a family as we eventually welcomed two more healthy children, our rainbow baby and one through the blessing of adoption.  As life got busier and busier, I stopped making the time to write and now, years later, here I am attempting to get my writing muscles back.  Only I’m trying to figure out what to write about if I’m no longer focusing on writing solely about loss, grief and struggle. Strangely, it has been more of a challenge than I expected. A good challenge to be sure, but a challenge all the same.

On my old blog, one of the things I wrote frequently about was gratitude. It is something I cling to in my life and I one hundred percent believe that nothing can shift my perspective faster from scarcity to abundance; which is a channel switch I often need to help myself make.

So here on this blog from time to time, I’m going to dedicate a post or two or a few to the practice of gratitude.  The simple counting of blessings.  When we stop to count and take notice enough to record them, they are not only recorded on “paper” but forever in our hearts as well.

Here’s to counting many more.  I remain so thankful.

*********

495. the sounds of a marching band in the fall

496. love notes from my sweet girl

497. Oprah’s podcast

498. an easy drop off for my little guy at preschool (tear-free)

499. an organized pantry and freezer

500. A quiet field of hay bales on a foggy suburban morning

501. a missing front tooth on a happy face for picture day

502. listening to podcasts while I work

503. triple shot in a venti cup over ice+ extra ice+ a carmel Premier Protein drink

504. our home organized after a month of complete chaos

505. fall decor out and scented candles burning

Feeling Seen

In my day to day life, I feel mostly invisible to the outside world. Typically the majority of my day takes place inside my home.  I’m doing laundry, picking up toys, tying shoes, making and cleaning up meals…(all things that go unnoticed until they do not get done).  Despite the fact that my kids are with me and want to play with and climb on me most of the time, there are amazingly still moments where I feel unseen.  The real me. The person inside the “mom” who still has hopes and dreams and opinions of her own.

That is why what my husband did for me a couple of weeks ago will be one of my favorite things for a very, very long time.  I was away for the day and my hubby was in charge of the kids.  He took them all the way across town to one of my favorite stores where they shopped for me and bought me a vase.  They then went to Hobby Lobby and shopped for supplies and returned home where they proceeded to paint and create the most perfect present for me.

A little bit of backstory, one of my favorite movies of all time is Nora Ephron’s, You’ve Got Mail. I could spend the next three weeks explaining how much I love it, but I will spare you.  The high points are: Tom Hanks, Nora Ephron, Meg Ryan, fall, books, book stores, witty dialogue and reading.  In one scene, Tom’s character tells Meg’s character as he is falling for her, that he would buy her a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if he only knew where to find her. It is every nerdy, school supply loving girl’s dream- and that is what my dear hubby and kids made for me.

They spent their afternoon making watercolored flowers and attached them to freshly sharpened colored pencils.  They then arranged the “flowers” in my new vase from my favorite store and left them on the counter for me to discover when I returned home.  Later, I walked in the door and immediately noticed the “flowers” sitting there in the quiet kitchen. It was when I looked closer and recognized the personal underlying loveliness of the gift that the tears began to flow.  I felt loved.  I felt appreciated.  I felt known and most importantly of all, I felt seen by those whom my heart loves the most.