Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Stylish Hair Fun {With a Giveaway}

As a woman and mother to three girls, I think it is super fun when I find products that celebrate femininity in a stylish way so I'm thrilled to tell you about my new favorite etsy: hand made hair products from Love Bug Baby Boutique .

Recently, Hannah won a Love Bug Baby Boutique model search and these were made special for her. I LOVE this soft pink wrap

and the brighter one.

This headband has cool lines and Hannah, of course, loves the "diamonds" in all of them.

If you have a favorite animal or clothing line that you want something to match with, these are adorable options, are they not?

I first fell in love with this mom's stuff when my mom found these precious clips for Grace and Hannah at the sidewalk arts festival. My (adult) friend rocked one of these in a deep plum color for a reception and it looked awesome.

Ava got this wrap and clip. Great news! It was sized right for a baby head. Some swallow them up. Not Love Bug's! She also got a crochet hat. You can order the wraps, clips, and hats in any colors you want to mix and match as you desire.

Wraps, headbands, bows, hats, and clips galore are available at the Love Bug etsy shop and info on when Krista will be doing craft shows in your area can be found on her facebook fan page. These high quality, trendy products are perfect for those fresh out of the womb all the way into adulthood. I couldn't be more thankful to have made the discovery! Seriously, everything is charming.

AND, with the holidays right around the corner I'm excited to let you in on a special deal. Krista will include a free gift on any order you place through the end of the year when you refer to my blog in the my message to the seller box. Sooooooooooo.....look around her Etsy shop and get ordering! :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Mother’s Thanksgiving Prayer

Dearest Lord,

Tonight I walked past the girls’ room. My hands were filled high with the fifth load of laundry and I was going through the mental checklist to prepare for our trip.

A heavy sigh from their room forced my head back.

I set the overflowing laundry basket down and smiled. You were wise to make children look so angelic when they sleep. Even on the most trying of days you right my mommy emotions when I look in and see those sweet, still, precious faces.

Sometimes I am guilty of wishing my kids to be robots. I want them to wake when I am ready. I wish for them to run on my time and listen the first time every time. When eight PM hits I want them to fall asleep instantly. Power off.

But these are children....

To finish reading my prayer post, please visit MODSquad

AND don't forget to enter the Ecclesiastes Bible Study giveaway. Only a little over a week left!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Look Who's Back in Town!

My in-laws!

Charlie and I were high school sweethearts. His family moved here our junior year of high school and by the end of the year we were a couple. Prior to officially dating, we were good friends so we spent a lot of time with each other's families. I quickly found out why Charlie was so incredible. He came from great parents. They valued faith, family, and togetherness. From the beginning, I felt at home with them and was thankful to call them family the day Charlie and I wed.

Adding to the gift, our families quickly grew close to be close friends. After Charlie and I married we started fun all worshipping on Christmas together and then sharing in a combined family meal. All the important life experiences were shared. It was golden.

When Grace was two, God called his parents to ministry in Pierre and from there to important work in Chicago. We were proud of their work and yet there was a hole. We are family people. We missed them in the church pew and at Sunday School performaces and dance recitals.

But today we give thanks to God who has called them into a new season of life. Sioux Falls is home once again. A house is purchased. They are moved in.

We can't wait to be able share suppers, drop by for quick hellos, maybe get a few more date nights when nama and hampa want some time with the girls :), and return to those simple family traditions that make life richer.

Welcome back, Gary & Andrea, we can't think of a better thanks to kick off Thanksgiving week than that of "welcome home" to you whom we so dearly love.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dig Into Ecclesiastes with Stephanie Shott {A Bible Study Giveaway!}

One of the many reasons that I'm grateful for social media is the opportunity to "meet" new, incredible people. Included in those people is Stephanie Shott. She's funny. She's a family girl. And, most important, she's the "real deal" when it comes to a faithful sister in Christ.

When her new Bible Study on the book of Ecclesiastes came out, I jumped at the opportunity to bless you all with a chance to meet her too. The study is called "Ecclesiastes: Understanding What Matters Most" and today she's here to tell you all about it. Even more exciting, she's giving away a copy to one of you!

Stephanie, what is your new Bible study about and what you hope readers will get out of completing it?

We all want to know our lives count. And in our Christian conversations we talk a lot about living for eternity and having an eternal perspective, yet if we are honest, we often live as if this life is all there is.

Eternity is real and it awaits each one of us. There are no escape clauses.

Understanding What Matters Most is a six week study through the book of Ecclesiastes. It’s a journey that gives the reader an opportunity to personally sift the gamut of real life experiences and define their lives by what matters most. There are questions designed to examine the heart and inspire application.

Although many avoid Ecclesiastes, it is chock-full of wisdom - not only for Solomon, but for each of us. However, there are three overriding lessons I pray that each reader will walk away with.

1. We all long to define our existence with significance, yet the only way to truly do that is to make our eternity intentional. It’s a minute by minute choice of the will to filter the way we respond to life through the lens of eternity. I pray that Understanding What Matters Most will equip each reader with the necessary tools to do just that. We're all looking for answers, and Ecclesiastes really helps us understand how to make decisions and deal with our circumstances based on what is and what is not important in light of eternity.

2. The study of Ecclesiastes is certainly not for sissies! It deals with real issues and real life circumstances. I hope that readers will grasp the concept of eternity and the reality of our ultimate day of reckoning; I pray the truth of that reality will help them live each day in light of THAT day.

3. A more subtle but profound lesson we can learn from this study is to see the grace of God at work in Solomon's life and understand that same grace is available to us. Solomon was the wisest man to walk the planet, yet he blew it big time! Solomon’s life is proof that wisdom doesn’t always equal perfection! The beautiful truth is that God still used Solomon, even after he failed. I hope readers never forget that God is so much bigger than our failure - that His love for us transcends our ability to mess things up - that as long as we have breath, He still has a plan for our lives and the days we are given under the sun.

Sounds wonderful! How did God lay this book on your heart to write?

When I began writing Understanding What Matters Most, I didn't begin in hopes of publishing a book. Understanding What Matters Most was birthed from my own place of need. It was during a time when God had called us to the mission field and my 19 year old son didn't feel led to go. My maternal heart began to wrestle with the details of the call. I didn’t have a problem with the was the leaving that gripped my heart and clouded my view. Who was going to take care of him if something went wrong? What if he got hurt? What about our parents? I was trying desperately to make sense of that which didn't make sense at all.

That's when the Lord gently led me to Ecclesiastes and gave me a bird's-eye view of Solomon's own attempts to make sense of the details of his life. After he ran the gamut of life experiences, he understood what matters most. I knew I needed that kind of clarity. Not only for the circumstances surrounding our call to the mission field, but to help me walk through life with the imprint of eternity on my heart. My study of Ecclesiastes gave me the tools I needed to filter the essential from the non-essential in light of eternity. When God put it on my heart to send it to a publisher and they said yes, that’s when I knew He wanted to use it for more than just notes for a conference.

Who would most benefit from your study?

It’s primarily a Bible study for women. However, since I’m a veteran homeschool mom who remembers how hard it was to find a good Bible study for my children, I would also like to encourage homeschool moms to use it as a study for their high school students. What a great opportunity to walk through Ecclesiastes as they sit at Solomon’s feet and get a clear picture of how empty the pursuits of this life can be and how important it to live each day with eternity in view!

Awesome. How can my readers follow your writing or book you to speak at their events?

Where is the Bible study available?

Great! Thank you so much for taking the time to share, Stephanie. I'm so thankful you listened to God's voice and followed His call. I can't wait to see how He uses you and this study to inspire others.

Bio: Stephanie passionately conveys that women can trust Christ to be real in real life - regardless of where they are or what they are going through. From her own painful past, she reminds women that we are never too battered or broken for God.

Gifted and dynamic communicator, writer, and Women's Ministry Director. Down-to-earth speaking style is full of humor,enthusiasm,and a passion for God's word. Topics focus on: To know Christ, to grow in Christ, and to echo His heart to the world.

And now, Stephanie is going to graciously gift one of you lucky readers with one copy of this study. To enter to win please leave a comment in the comments with why you'd most like to read this study. Additional entry opportunities are available by 1) tweeting the link about this giveaway 2) sharing the post on facebook 3) following Stephanie's blog 4) officially following this blog (if you aren't yet). Be sure to leave a separate comment for each of the potential ways that you can enter to win with your name and email. The giveaway will remain open to anyone in the continental United States until Friday December 2 at noon central time.

***Congrats to #18! chose Tara (Created to be Beautiful), you are the winner of this wonderful new study. Enjoy! To all the rest, I pray you'll check into the study from one of the sites listed above :) ***

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The CD No One Should Be Without! {The Story}

Raise your hand if you like Mark Hall (Casting Crowns), Steven Curtis Chapman, Natalie Grant, Mandisa, Amy Grant, Chris Tomlin, Francesca Battistelli, Todd Smith (Selah), Jeremy Camp, Bart Millard, Matthew West, Nichole Nordeman....

What? You love them all?

Me too. And guess what? These fine artists and many more are all part of a new album entitled "The Story." Angie Smith blogged about it with such enthusiasm that I had to check it out.

And I was blown away. Talk about a rockstar compilation of Christian artists!!!

Based off Max Lucado and Randy Frazee's writing, Nichole Nordeman and Bernie Harms lifted the voices of the Biblical people that shape our Christian foundation and placed us inside their heads.

When I read Scripture I can be guilty of reading through the story without putting myself inside the individual's shoes. And yet, if I claim a faith inspired by this history, it is so important to really think through the place and emotion of the people that mold our foundation.

Seriously, as I listen I find myself relating to the thief (Steven Curtis Champman) in my own life. I'm empowered by Esther's (Mandisa) guts. I'm tenderly encouraged my the faith filled Job (Todd Smith) who lives intense suffering. Having walked through losing his baby girl, that assignment rings genuine through his vocals. I could go on and on but the point is every song hits me because the heart of Scripture comes alive - including Jesus' (Mac Powell)heart for you. Sidenote: Grab a tissue.

The whole album can be yours with one simple click. And, if you are super lucky you can attend "The Story" tour and part of the proceeds from that will benefit World Vision, which you all know I gave mad props to early this week because they meet their goals and transform lives. Please don't tell me if you attend because I'd be insanely jealous...or do I'll pretend to live it through you. :)

With Christmas coming up, I just wanted to make sure you were all in "the know."

photo credit

Monday, November 7, 2011

Goodbye Forever

If there is one thing I’m not good at it is goodbyes. When I form a relationship, I’m in it for the long haul.

About five years ago my eyes first locked on Andrea’s. Her big brown eyes seemed to beckon me through the computer screen and I could not look away.

She was adorable.

The weekend before I’d been at a Women of Faith conference. While there, they spoke about their partnership with World Vision. Although I’d been to WOF before and heard of their ministry, this year I came home feeling called to form a relationship with a child. Maybe it was the message from my sweet one year old saying “mama” into my phone. Maybe it was the thought that my baby girl was comfortable in a heated home full of hope with her amazing father while a baby girl elsewhere lived in a hut the size of my closet while her parents prayed for hope.

Two children born into two very different situations resulting in two very different lives.

Andrea shared Grace’s birthday and as my husband looked over World Vision’s materials he simply said, “Let’s do it.” A sponsorship was born. I have to admit, I didn’t expect our $30 per month to be life changing but, in my mind, that I was okay. If World Vision could use our dollars as a vehicle to help put food on their table, provide access to medical care, and give hope, that was sufficient.

Cecilia (Andrea’s mother) and I began to communicate. We’d write letters to one another and share about our families. As our girls grew, they entered into the conversations, growing excited about the lives of their friend afar. My girls drew pictures, told her about snow, and imagined living in a place so warm it never fell. Each time a World Vision envelope found its way to our mailbox opportunity seemed to multiply in Equador while joy swelled here in South Dakota.

Right before the girls’ sixth birthday another World Vision letter arrived. Quickly and excitedly, I opened the letter to read the grace filled note from a woman who had found her way into my heart.

But it wasn’t from her. It was from World Vision. The project goals were met. Andrea’s family was self sufficient.

Overwhelmed, I began to cry. I cried because I hadn’t written more. I cried because a relationship that had taken root was no longer going to grow. I cried because I didn’t want to tell the girls they couldn’t draw any more pictures for Andrea. AND, I cried because World Vision was so much more than I’d ever believed they could be. Using what couldn’t even buy us one dinner out, World Vision had walked alongside the community and taught the people to garden and breed animals. They transformed a destitute community into a more educated, self-sufficient community. Andrea and her family had grasped the hope they once dreamed of.

After we told the girls, they drew last pictures and we wrote a note sharing our heart. Shortly thereafter, we heard from Cecilia and she happily signed off “Goodbye forever!”

I couldn’t help but smile.

This month as we count our blessings, we graciously include World Vision because they made believers out of us. With the right people and the proper teaching, dire poverty can be broken. This is a goodbye worth celebrating.

Goodbye forever, Andrea and family. Hello, sweet Nayely. Your first letter with child artwork will be arriving soon. :)
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