Thursday, April 28, 2016

Owlegories Review & Giveaway: Theowlogy Your Kids Will Love

Today the kids got out of school early. Since it was unseasonably cold outside, the girls and I used it as opportunity to snuggle up on the couch and preview Owlegories, a gospel-centered DVD series that encourages children to grow in relationship with God through five adorable owls.

Are they not the cutest?

Gus, the overall-wearing, pancake-loving, witty-speaking one is totally my favorite. Not surprising for a food-appreciating, sarcastic girl like myself.

In each episode, the delightful owls go to theowlogy school to find out their learning assignment – always found in nature. Upon hearing from the professor what they are to study, they fly out into the world and begin. DVD 1 covers the sun, the seed, and the water. DVD 2 inspects the ant, the fruit, and the butterfly.

Their experiences are cute and funny, but the lessons are priceless.

There are three takeaways for each nature element to help youth better understand God and trigger living a more faith-filled life as they spot the item in their everyday.

I love that!

It helps children connect the dots between faith and life in a way I’ve seen no other Bible series do.

The girls had to cut away from watching to go to dance but the second we got home they asked to watch again, going right from one movie to the next. It was fun to see them get so excited about a film I knew would help them see The Lord in a new way.

Anything that can help nurture our children’s closeness with Christ is a win in my world and Owlegories effectively does this by offering new perspective through the world in which they live.

I get to bless all of you with 25% off anything in their online store using the code NESDAHL25.

One of you is going to be the lucky winner of DVD volume one. To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment about why you’d like to win this. For additional entries, share this post on Facebook and/or tweet the link, creating a maximum of three entries per person. Please be sure to leave a separate comment for each of these shares.

I will use to draw a winner from the continental U.S. If your name and email is not attached to your profile, please add it to your comment so that I can reach you.

Entries will be accepted through 9pm on Sunday, May 8, 2016.

Thank you to Owlegories for asking me to be a part of your blog promotional tour. It was a joy to watch with my girls!

* Pictures provided from Owlegories. All opinions are my own.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Real Mom Confessions

Here we are at Wednesday. Time to laugh. Laughter is so good for the soul. And, it was our word of the day discussion in Pouring Acts of Faith last night so that was super fun. To go around the table and lift up such joy just made the laughter start again.

So what are my confessions?

1. I bought a 2 bag box of cereal at Costco. It only had one boxtop on it and I felt seriously ripped off. This is the true sign of being a PTA nerd.

2. I surprised Grace with donuts for breakfast during standardized testing week because I'm sure that it what the principal meant by serving a good breakfast.

3. Our weather has been down right confusing lately. One day it was sunny, warm, and no wind (which seemed a miracle in and of itself) so I decided to walk to pick up the girls from school. We live a little over a half mile from the building. They got out and we started to play on the equipment because it was one day when we did not have dance. I was feeling all cute in my lightweight white capris and bright colored shirt. It was glorious. UNTIL IT SUDDENLY STARTED TO RAIN. Like sheets of rain. So, I yell at the girls that we need to go, and we take off, but four-year-old legs can only travel so fast. And Hannah and Grace thought going home in the downpour was a blast. I, on the other hand, was not so pumped. "RUN! I was just trying to be a good mom and now I'm wearing white pants in the rain AND there is going to be worms." Gross.

4. Ava was eating strawberries at the table, bites the end off, and loudly exclaims, "Butt cheeks." The girls all erupted in laughter. Me: Ava, where did you learn to call strawberries butt cheeks?"

Never in my life did I think I'd hear myself say that, but parenting equals a life of surprises!

Laugh today, friends. Life's too short to go a day without it.

xx Melissa

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Date Makers & Breakers: An Interactive Dating Discussion Printable for Parents & T(w)eens

Dating is a gargantuan subject that often leads to awkward silence.

As the mother of three young girls, two of which society classifies as tweens, I understand how silence might feel easier. Lord knows when my eight-year-old asked me about crushes and love in Subway of all places stuffing my face with a big bite of sandwich lured attractive. But not better.

Without discussion we can’t know what our children are thinking any more than our children can know what we pray for them. It demands sit-down time and the exchange of words.

Interactions with young people affirm this desire. Recently, one young teen wrote that she wanted to start dating but didn’t know what would make a good boyfriend. Her parents hadn’t approached the topic and she feared asking might upset them.

The collective parent heart would scream, “Ask us!” Whether our daughter is eight or fifteen we, in theory, want to be the one to guide the discussion. Youth left to media or the advice of their peers is set up for disaster. Yet we freeze a little bit too, don’t we? Most of the time the questions seem to come from left field, leaving no opportunity to calmly craft the perfect answer in advance and we know everything about their innocence, relationship health, and set up for potential marriage is at stake. That’s no pressure at all.

One thing I emphasized with my eight-year-old was how I knew her daddy was a good man to date. In conversations with teens and at youth retreats I’ve further developed that to suggesting a physical list of date makers and breakers. What is a must to saying “yes” to a date? What are automatic disqualifiers? These forward thinking questions create a natural selectivity to only entertain time with those who might be good for us.

So now I’ve created a simple-to-use date makers and breakers interactive discussion printable for you to print off and use with your child(ren).

Obviously the date makers column is for...

To finish reading the post & get full instruction for the printable, please visit MODSquad here

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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Real Mom Confessions: When the 8 Year Old Asks About Crushes & Love

Today's a special day. TWENTY YEARS AGO TODAY Charlie asked me to officially be his girlfriend. We were two (obviously smart) 16 years old kids on a Holy Commotion church trip, having no idea we just said the first yes to the rest of our life.

This was before the time of cell phones and constant cameras at the ready so we have no photo to document that moment, but here's one from when we went to the winter formal as friends a few months before.

My college roommate commented, "Your hands don't scream awkward at all." True story.  It's amazing we went on to dance that night. It's even more incredible to me that I get to spend every day with that boy. No matter what we face, I will always smile in his embrace.

In light of this day, I bring you a real mom confessions highlighting a conversation about crushes and love that happened in public because...of course!

Hannah: When did you fall in love with daddy?

I start to explain that love is a process. That you don't necessarily know that you love someone right away. Dating is a ground to better get to know someone.

I'm trying to do this conversation right, all the while thinking Oh my gosh, Lord, I just wanted to take them to some Subway. This is a bit intense.

They quickly got bored with my lengthy explanation and Hannah goes, "I don't think you get it. Like a crush."

Me: Falling in love and crushes are different.

Ava: Did you have a crush on dad in college and just kiss him lots.

She starts making a kissy face in the aisle of Subway. Awesome. DEEP FREAKING BREATHS.

Me: A crush is where you get that sense that you like somebody. There are good things to know about a crush first. For example, I knew your daddy loved Jesus, that he treated me nice because we were friends for a long time, and that he wanted to be a dad someday, and I wanted to be a mommy. Love is where you believe you could be together forever and you choose to stand by them.

Hannah: So did you have a crush or love?

Me: Well, I had a crush first that developed into love. Now I have both.

I'm not sure this is going well.

Grace: What if you get a crush on a boy who loves Jesus and treats you nice but doesn't want to be a dad?

Maybe I'm doing okay.

Me: Well, whether or not a person wants to be a parent isn't easily changeable and not something you want to seek to try to change in someone else. So, if you really wanted to be a mom, it would be better, even though not easy, not to date them before you get too attached and then have to get your heart broken.

Ava: Do crushes and loves kiss?

Me: You could, although you want to be careful about your kisses.

Hannah: This all seems like maybe you aren't getting it.

I'M NOT GETTING IT?!?! Please, tell me how it works, child. I'M JUST TRYING TO EAT SOME SUBWAY FOR GOODNESS SAKE. I didn't get the memo that we were going to be having this important chat. 

One of the girls changed the topic and they moved on like kids do without looking back. I looked at each of them as they chatted, preferring that it went a little different because they are all at such different places of cognitive development. I'd have wished to have them alone. Not with a four year old. Not in Subway. But life is spicy and so much of parenting is all about responding to the curve ball.

I didn't hit a home run but I think it was a decent at bat. So, here's my encouraging thought today, parents - Parenthood isn't victorious through one great swing but in consistently showing up, willing to respond to whatever is thrown your way. 

Seeds were planted for the future, I can hope. Maybe they got a clearer sense that real love is complex and much different than the Disney fantasized, where comatose women wake up and immediately marry the stranger who just kissed their face.

This will do until it next comes up.

Preferably not in Subway.

Happy dating anniversary, Charlie :)

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Sunday, April 10, 2016

Coloring Isn't Just for Kids Anymore: A "Drawn from the Heart" Coloring Book Devotional Giveaway

Coloring isn't just for kids anymore.

I was pretty thrilled when the activity once believed to calm children and inspire creativity became all the adult rage.

In a busy, chaotic world, we need focus just as much as the rest. Stressors draw need for peace and multidirectional living, simplicity.

Adult coloring books became the perfect avenue for the mature in years to decompress.

And then I discovered BETTER!

One day while connecting with fellow Books & Such writers, I happened upon Lisa Bogart's coloring book devotional.

Drawn From the Heart marries Bogart's words with her hand-drawn artistry. Each page is filled with pictures, hymns, and Scripture alongside a devotional. The coloring design perfectly reflecting the take-home message.


I immediately placed a pre-order for my mother-in-law's birthday. As she brightened the pages with color, my prayer was that God would color her heart with the hope found in Jesus alone.

Through this coloring book devotional, Lisa's restyled fun into ministry. Coloring softens the colorer's heart to hear the word of God in an intimate, unique way. Promise echoes in the soul and imagery burns into the brain, strengthening the faith of the individual spending quiet time with God.

The result is renewed perspective, and that is something we ALL need once in a while.

With Mother's Day and Teacher Appreciation Week approaching, I'm thrilled to bless one of you with a giveaway. To enter, simply leave a comment below sharing why you would like to win this devotional or who you would share it with. For additional entries, share this post on Facebook and/or tweet the link creating a maximum of three entries per person. Please be sure to leave a separate comment for each of these shares.

I will use to draw a winner from the continental U.S. If your name and email is not attached to your profile, please add it to your comment so that I can reach you.

Entries will be accepted through 9pm on Sunday, April 24, 2016.

I want to thank Lisa for putting this treasure into the marketplace. It's truly one-of-a-kind. What joy it is to write alongside such talented people.

Happy Sunday!

xx Melissa

*Disclosure: I was provided no compensation for this review. All opinions are my own.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Real Mom Confessions

It's Wednesday. The day when we come together to admit that we aren't perfect but still perfectly good. Normal, even.

Here are this week's Real Mom Confessions:

1. The kids are using their bodies as human dusters and I don't even care. Yes, you read that right. We're getting new furniture this Saturday and the stuff from upstairs made its way downstairs. At the moment, there is no furniture upstairs so the kids have been sliding across the floor.

photo cred:


2. I was volunteering in Hannah's classroom and there was a DEAD WORM midway up a locker. I totally thought the kid was pulling a mean outdoorsy April Fool's Day joke on an indoorsy person. I got your number, kid, and I'm way too quick to fall for that. Only to see the teacher, who is as equally horrified by outdoor creatures as I, mouth "It's for real." At this point, I went into shock. How a kid got a dead worm into the school and mid locker is beyond me. The teacher, mustering everything in her power not to freak, goes (insert super calm nice voice), "Now children, we don't put dead worms on our lockers." Make. It. Stop. Never in my life did I think I'd hear that line. My lack of maturity necessitated that I turn the other direction to wipe the tears of laughter falling from my eyes. Who says that so pretty when you totally want to blow? Miss P, that's who. Then she continued, "And whichever friend did that, it is not a very good choice."

Not a very good choice, indeed. God bless the teachers.

3. Speaking of Hannah's teacher I asked her if she sent out the volunteer calendar for this month to which she responds, "It's in her bag." What?! I haven't opened her bag in approximately three weeks. My brain is still on the old school calendar when we were in the homestretch but now fourth quarter HASN'T EVEN STARTED. Lucky for me this conversation happened right in front of the principal. Miss P & Mrs. H, the bag has been opened and volunteer dates are on the calendar. 

4. The girls wanted a new dinner table discussion conversation piece and I came up with this. We got started last night, drawing "Goodness." I can't wait to see what the girls have to say tonight. Anyhoo, as I'm feeling like super mom for coming up with this idea, I looked into the pitcher and see all of these.

Apparently the girls are have been hoarding them. And apparently I default to busted meal plans equaling HyVee Chinese a bit too much.

Tell me about your week. Did you make a fool of yourself in front of your child's teacher?

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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Pouring Acts of Faith: An Acts 1:8 Family Mealtime Discussion Activity

The Nesdahl girls love mealtime discussion activities. Typically I build them around church or holiday seasons, so when they shared tonight that they'd like to do something special the calendar wasn't exactly my friend. Yes, we are technically still in the Easter season but as far as kids are concerned, the main build up and events are over. Thanks for nothing, April.

Or so I thought.

Then my mind wandered to last Sunday's sermon on Acts 1:8 and I was back in business. The Holy Spirit is within us and we are meant to be the church to the world.

So how might we come alive and live as an Easter people?

The Nesdahls are going to practice pouring out our faith. Both in how we live it and see it in community around us.

I KNOW we're a sixth of the way into April, but I say better late than never. We can get these faith-conversations going anytime, moms and dads. Don't let the calendar or anything else tell you otherwise.

How is this going to work? I've listed 30 different ways we can see the Holy Spirit at work in people. This is not a magic list and could be tailored to include whatever you want. I found the fruits of the spirit Scripture (Galatians 5:22-23) super helpful. Nine attributes = nine days. Thanks, Paul, you're my new best friend. I wrote each on a piece of paper, folded it, and put them in a pitcher, hence the activity name. Starting tonight, we will draw one attribute/action. Tomorrow night when we sit down to the dinner table, we'll each say how we extended it and where we saw it in our day from someone else. Then we'll draw a new one for the following day. Make sense?

Obviously we won't get through all 30 this month since we're starting late, but my hubby reminded me that just like I give permission not to be tied to the calendar to start we need not be to end so into May we'll go.

Here is our list of attributes and actions:
1) Love
2) Kindness
3) Joy
4) Peace
5) Goodness
6) Gentleness
7) Self-Control
8) Faithfulness
9) Forbearance (patience)
10) Hope
11) Courage
12) Understanding
13) Strength
14) Forgiveness
15) Generosity
16) Caring
17) Life-giving (nice) words
18) A smile
19) Pick up trash
20) Bravery
21) Listening
22) Inviting someone to play/Invitation
23) Pray
24) Being polite
25) Loving the unique person God made you to be
26) Expressing thanks
27) Put someone else first
28) Say "I'm sorry"
29) Singing
30) Laughter

I'm so excited to piggyback on Pastor Sami and Pastor Tim's incredible teaching with this practical application in our home (sermon at minute 13, kid talk after the song that follows). I don't know if it will work perfectly. I don't know if the children will understand every word precisely. But, I really don't care. The goal is merely to mindful, intentional about being God-focussed, and see the Holy Spirit at work around us. Whatever they say is good enough because they'll be trying.

The Lord's given us a blessing and we're set to live it out. We welcome you to join us.

xx Melissa

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