Category Archives: Parenting

minted // what i found

{source: minted}

Hello Friends!

I am in love with this season of festivities and giving and joy and life! Even if it does fall in the winter, my least loved season. ūüėČ Aaaaand, one of my favorite seasonal topics is this:¬†I want to talk Christmas greetings/cards today.¬†

I began doing Christmas cards to send all of my friends way back in high school. I loved snail mail (which back then was just called “mail”, um, hello) and I was obsessed with paper and stamps and handwriting, etc.

Then I got married and I will never forget the first photo-type Christmas greeting that I ever sent out from Chad and myself. It was a corny, funny heavily-photoshopped photo of us layered over some fake cactus in the background with some photoshopped santa hats on our heads. We sent those babies out like it was the best thing we had ever seen. (If I can find a copy of it, I will post it here, because it is pretty epic.) We mainly sent that out because we had just moved across country that summer from Tennessee to Arizona, hence the funny cactus background, and didn’t know a soul. That was in 2001 and I have been crazy for funny or beautiful Christmas greeting ever since, but the times and designs have definitely classed it up a notch.

We skipped the years that we had winter babies because we chose to just send out announcements those years, and the last two years we have sent nothing because we honestly couldn’t find a photo-card-quality family photo in time and didn’t have time to have one taken. So, I just said oh well as much as it pained me to do so.

I love cards, mail, and photos so I wanted to share with you some beautiful designs I have found through a company called Minted. There designs are gorgeous! Every year it gets even better and they add more and more designers and styles. A great variety for every style and they really know how to work with you.

Here are some of my favorite designs that I wish I was using (we shall see if I can come up with a photo) because there is still time to send them out! ūüėČ

Cozy Snow Holiday Photo Card (same as shown above) by designer, Ashley Hegarty:

I love how sweet and simplistic this one is. Because it really highlights the photo you choose and the backs of these have great options, as well. PLUS, hello….free addressing of the envelopes?! Yes, please!

Gorgeous, right?

Next I found this one. Watercolor Noel Holiday Photo Card by designer, Annie Mertlich:

This one just makes me happy. :) The artwork is happy, natural, and the colors are really great. Watercolor is just a great relaxed feel anyway.

Examples of the back of the card choices….

And you always need a little gold at the holidays. Don’t argue. Just do it. ūüėČ Going with the same idea of the watercolor again, this time with a banner and real gold foil-press on it. Hello, glam! I give you the Watercolor Bunting Foil-Pressed Holiday Card¬†by Wind-Up Key Press.

Check out that shine! I’m in love with this one. And because of that, you must see a close-up. Seriously‚Ķ.

Beautiful, classic, a bit of glam, but still understated and not stuffy. Great for the modern family! :)

One last one for you, or I could post these all day. For real. Check this out – this one is too cute and fun and fresh AND it appeals to me because we have not sent out Christmas cards once since we have lived in our current home. Also, because we moved in here the week after Thanksgiving 2 years ago and it was nuts. This card reminds me of that time and I wish this option had been out there because it would have been a perfect moving/holiday card all in one. This cutie is called the Mod Move Holiday Photo Card by designer, Kristen Smith. ADORABLE!

And here is a great shot of it all assembled with front, backing, and envelope with the coordinating liner and address wrap tag. So fresh (and so clean, clean.) I would want to just hang this up in my house for a little piece of artwork every year if someone sent me one of these!

I hope you see something here that you like. If not, there are TONS of designs that are just amazing. I tried to choose a variety of my favorites, but there are even more styles that might fit YOU and your family more appropriately. Go take a peek at Minted. You will not be sorry.

I also love that you can upload one of your own family photos into the website and it will show you what each card will look like with that photo. It’s a no-brainer, really. They have truly taken the difficulty out of ordering holiday cards.

Speaking of “holiday” cards? Every card I looked at had the option of changing the wording from a Holiday saying, a Christmas saying, or a New Year’s saying. Pretty sweet if you ask me.

If you place an order before midnight on the 8th (that’s Monday, friends) then you can receive 15% off your order with code SNOW15FS. PLUS FREE SHIPPING. Did you read that? FREE SHIPPING and a discount code. Yes. Click over quickly and then come back and tell me what you ordered. ūüėČ Maybe even send me a holiday card. Maybe? Ok, maybe that was taking it a bit far. (But I do love mail. hint hint.)

As for the business side, I know that I’m supposed to let you know that I am receiving compensation for writing this post in partnership with Minted, but let’s get real – I’ve been perusing their site for the last couple of years and their designs always blow me away. I have been already peeking through their designs for this year before I was ever approached. So there you have it. I wanted to share them with my pals, too! Also, all of these photos were taken from the Minted site with permission for this post.

Happy Holiday/Christmas/New Year’s card shopping!

xoxo, Amanda

 

A New Direction

Yesterday morning, I received an email that kind of sucked the wind out of my sails over my plans for the upcoming school year. I thought I was an easy contender for a job that would be perfect with my schedule with the kids and I was pretty excited about it all.

It ends up that I never even got the chance to apply!  Talk about a way to start off a glorious summer Sunday! (You do hint my sarcasm there, right?)

It put me in a bad mood all day, much to the frustration of my husband and my sweet kiddos. I feel like I’m back at square one trying to figure out what I will do part-time, in addition to my design ideas, but this morning I have had some breathing room and time to think. I’m sitting here in my dining room, staring out my back window, just contemplating the future. Kids are quiet with a friend over all day, so thankfully‚Ķ.I have had some quiet time today to regroup.

I’m enjoying the leftover dying flowers from Maggie’s party‚Ķ.

And I’m thinking on this:

(above image from Raechel Myers IG feed from She Reads Truth)

And I’m realizing (or more likely REMEMBERING) that this whole life thing is not about what I want or how this is supposed to go in my mind. It’s about how it’s supposed to go in the way that’s best for everyone possibly involved. God’s plan is greater.

For a long time now, I have wanted to do something that was helpful in some way or glorifying to God in some way and I keep waiting to see what that is. Yes, I know that raising my babies as my sole job for the last 8 years has been glorifying to God. But now it’s time that I ventured out from the home and I want to see where I can be used. It’s difficult to wait and see what happens, especially when you see it happening all around you. I have lots of interests and ideas of things that I could do to bless others, but I also have to remember that I need to be working to be a secondary supporter to my family’s income now. What job takes those two things hand in hand for me right now? I’m not totally sure yet. I feel that I’m on the brink of knowing and I have a couple of ideas up my sleeve of how to further push this to see where it all goes.

For now, I’ll look upon my dying flowers, enjoying the last couple of days of their color. I’ll enjoy my hot summer days with my babes, I’ll keep reading and learning and searching and forging new friendships. And most importantly, praying over it all.

Please pray with me.

And for me.

And if you have a prayer request you would like to share, please do.

On another subject – I hope to have Magdalen’s birthday party pictures up this week. My friend, Sarah, took them but I forgot to download them from her camera before she left the next day! Aaagghh! My fault, so hopefully I’ll get them somehow to share this week! Happy Monday, friends!

Growing up.

I love this boy with all of my heart. 
And in just one short day, he’ll be back in school, walking the halls as a first grader, and to be completely honest?¬†
I don’t like it.¬†
I know parents are supposed to be happy for their kids as they grow and mature and move on in life, but it is a hard thing for me to do. I don’t want to send him back. Not yet. Summer’s not over for me and I want him here with me and his sister each day enjoying these beautiful moments with us.¬†
I always have heard of parents jumping for joy when the song and business of Back to School starts, but I will never be one of them. I can promise that.
Because really…this summer was epic.¬†
Maybe not in the sense of the word “epic” that most people would think about, but for me it surely was.¬†
This was the first summer that Magdalen was talking like a big girl.
The first summer that Maddox was reading.
The first summer that both of them could swim by themselves in the pool without me. 
The first summer that they really rode bicycles together.
The first summer that they slept in a bit and woke up excited to play together before coming to us.
The first summer that Maddox fearlessly started mountain biking with Chad. And was a natural!
The second summer of him playing ball.
(Even on the days when he would finally hit the ball after the 25th pitch, he never gave up. He never acted stressed. He just gave it his cheerful, happy all and always wore a smile. While my heart was silently breaking on the sidelines for him. )
I could go on about how amazing it was, but you get the idea. It was a Big Kid Summer.
So, this Maddox….my eldest….my boy…..
He has always had my heart and he always will. 
He truly is a joy to parent and love and watch mature.
He loves his sister with a fierceness and it was a beautiful thing to watch them become best friends again over the summer and truly enjoy so much time just the two of them. They made up so many games and ideas together and I wish I could bottle that up and live in it forever. 
But of course that is unrealistic. And on the other side of the being-sad-coin is the pride and thankfulness I feel in watching him grow. 
He is such a gentleman.
And creative.
And patient.
And persevering.
And an intelligent little guy.
He was my reading buddy all summer and he probably knocked out 25 real chapter books all by himself since Kindergarten ended. I was impressed at what a little bookworm he became in such a short amount of time. 
More proof that he’s growing and it’s never going to stop.
So……Thursday morning we’ll wake up, do the first day of school rush, take the obligatory front porch photo with his baby sister and off we’ll go to drop him off for another wonderful year at his school. (Where I force my tears behind my smile, because let’s get real….what really kills me is watching him and Magdalen hug and say goodbye to each other. It’s torture! )
And I’ll embrace the school year once again, like a good mama letting her baby fly…..while secretly wishing for the next summer to hurry, hurry, hurry and get here. ; )

Mega Million Mom Jewels {In My Crown}

The things I do for these children.
Another disgusting job of a mom. That’s what it was.¬†
At least that’s what I told myself just now.¬†
But then, I realized there was more to it.
And some of you may laugh at this, but really,
once you hear about what I just did (and this is on a slow day), 
you’ll understand.¬†
I wanted to vacuum the house this afternoon to prepare for Sabbath. 
Or at least just the downstairs!
Over the vacuum’s roar, I yell to Maggie to pick up her doll house pieces and to Maddox to pick up the Lego pieces.¬†
Ugh.
Lego pieces. 
(I’m sure you’re already starting to get the idea, aren’t you?)
I’m happily cleaning and vacuuming while the two of them tell me they have finished their jobs.¬†
I slowly move into the sunroom where Maddox is sitting at their kids’ table.
The room where he keeps half of his Legos on a shelf, or on the table, or most likely, on the floor. 
My eyes are sweeping the floor while I clean, because trust me, I don’t want to vacuum up their toys either!
And then it happens.
I see a black plastic piece of something moving across the floor into the vacuum and hear a loud clattering sound. 
OOPS.
Guess who else hears it? 
Uh huh. The boy.
Sobs ensue. 
Begging.
Pleading.
Accusations of “IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT!”
Me defending myself, although I know that little black piece was hidden on a black area of the rug. 
What do you do? 
He honestly had cleaned up every little piece except that one. He had tried his best. 
I had mercy on him. 
Now don’t go thinking that I didn’t do this with some anger, and maybe some lecturing, and some defensiveness over it being “all my fault.” Because, I did. As always.
So there I went.
Hauling the vacuum outside. 
Opening that nasty bag of DEATH. 
(Are you aware of my phobia of hair & my horrible dusty allergy? Um, yeah.)
Dumping it all out on a trash bag. 
(Did I mention it was windy outside? Go ahead. Imagine that part, too.)
I was having no luck on the deck so I moved it all down to the patio to try and get away from the wind.
I started pawing through and shaking the big nasty clumps of death around.
WITH MY BARE HANDS.
And then I saw it.
A black piece of plastic. 
I grabbed it and then….
oooooooh, the disappointment.
IT. WASN’T. A.¬†LEGO. PIECE. AT. ALL.
It was a black piece to a completely different toy that is completely unnecessary. 
Imagine my feelings at that point as I looked around the mess I had just created at the back of our house. I’m not even quite sure you can imagine it quite right because it was so disgusting, but I felt defeated.
And I was mad.
And then Maddox sort of giggled and said “Oh. It’s just this. Whew!”
I had to close my eyes and look up at the heavens and say “Please Lord Jesus, help me.”
I needed patience right then.
And he provided. 
This incident literally happened about 30 minutes ago and I’m already chuckling to myself.
So, today, after someone said that I must live under a rock because I asked what the heck Mega Million meant on everyone’s Facebook posts today, I thought about it.
Yes, I do live under a rock. 
But I’m okay with that.
Because with the way my days go, I’m earning Mega Million jewels in my crown up in Heaven.
I’d rather have that than the $640 million I could win with a ticket.
(Although, I will not lie when I say that I wouldn’t mind having that money in a heartbeat. Hello.)
So, the next time you’re digging through your vacuum cleaner’s dirty bag of stank nasty for one of your children, think of me.¬†
And think of Jesus up there chuckling at you. 
I guarantee you he’s laughing and maybe adding a jewel to your crown, too.

9 Things Before Nine{AM}

Yes, I realize it’s not Monday morning.
Ha!
But if you knew how my morning went yesterday, then you would understand. It was so bad that I let myself eat a Reese’s Sonic Blast for lunch and then Sweet Cece’s as my after-kids-are-in-bed-evening-snack. I am going to pretend today is the first day of the work/school week and start over.
 At least it makes me feel better. 
1. Speaking of mornings…I loathe Daylight Savings Time. I am not a morning person and every year at this time, I wish that we still lived in Phoenix where we never had to change our clocks. Oh, the things I have taken for granted at times!¬†

2. Both kids had their well checkups yesterday and they passed with perfect results. Not a tear was shed, although both had to have their blood drawn from their finger. Brave little souls. ; ) I was pleased to hear the doctor say that Magdalen’s speech seemed fine and also proud of my little girl for actually speaking to the doc and answering each question. She said she counts like a 4 year old and I was surprised after all the underlying questions we’ve had about her speech. *sigh of relief*
3. Chad took the day off yesterday for various reasons (unheard of in this job!) and Maddox was so excited that his daddy got to come see him play soccer for the first time yesterday. It completely made his day. : )
4. We had a really great weekend, starting out with Maddox singing at both church services with his Kindergarten class on Sabbath. They were too adorable in their little formal school uniforms. 
5. We also had a lovely dinner party at home that night with the hilarious Melissa¬†and her husband,¬†Tony,¬†and another musician friend of Chad’s, Jason, and his wife, Juliana, who I met for the first time that night! Melissa made some amazing veggie sliders and salad to go with the other items we had for the meal. We played the game Scruples afterward (yes, like old people) and it was truly a relaxing, fun night with new and old friends.¬†
6. I am EXCITED ABOUT SUMMER!! I realize it’s a few months away, but it’s already warm outside and Maddox is starting to really complain about not having any time to play when he wakes up each morning. I am going to make this an epic summer with lots of friend time, play time, and also down time for him before he hits 1st grade in the fall.¬†
7. In the past month, I believe I have moved our furniture from room to room at least 3 or 4 times. I can’t help myself.¬†
8. Oh…we went to Zanie’s comedy club on Sunday night for a surprise birthday party for our friend, Nathan. He was completely surprised and then we went back to his house for cake. His wife, Steph, had made The Pioneer Woman’s chocolate sheet cake¬†(except Steph made it gluten free) and it was delish! First time I’ve had this famous recipe and was excited because I’ve been wanting to try it for awhile now. ¬†: )
9. Also, excited about a play date with friends this afternoon after school. The weather is perfect. And Maddox is excited to see his girl, Ava. ; ) Well, one of his girls. That’s her below.¬†
Ava and Maddox (age 5 here) one year ago having a picnic outside with their then-2-yr-old baby sisters. Cuties!

Luff You.

Today
11:46 a.m.
Monday morning
Snuggling on the sofa, the only two people in the house. 
For the very first time. Ever. Magdalen just said these words to me as she threw her body in my lap. 
“I luff you, Mama!”
: ) 
I have waited for this moment for 3 long years. 
And it was just as sweet as I had expected. 
(I love you, too, baby girl. 
I love you more than you’ll ever know. )
When I ask her if she knows how much I love her, she says “Yas!!!!”¬†
When I ask her how much that is, she says “Biiiiig much, Mama” and throws her hands in the air.¬†
I have somehow given birth to one of the cuddliest, most loving, caring and expressive children on the planet. 
I think God knew I needed her and she’s teaching me so much.¬†
(And if you think I didn’t stop and grab my phone and take these photos right when she said it, you know, to help etch this moment in my brain forever….well, then you’re wrong. Because I totally did.)

9 Things Before Nine{AM}

                                                                                      Source: theposterlist.com via Amanda on Pinterest

I love lists.
Really, I do.

I think it comes from the fact that I’m¬†pretty disorganized in my head and it helps to write most anything down. I know a lot of people feel the same way about themselves. I’m also sure that my dear husband would think that “pretty disorganized” is an understatement. (I’m okay with that. )

So….after a weekend, whether it was full or not, I have a lot of thoughts swirling in my head and instead of trying to do a post on some of the topics, I’ll just start writing them in list form on Monday mornings before 9am. No pics today because I honestly didn’t take any all weekend!

(And yes, 8 Things Before 8 would be absurdly too early for any human being. So I’ll go with 9. )

1. I have been sick for 1 full week now and I’m over it. I have that deep horrible cough that sounds like I’m hacking up a lung each time and it’s pretty gross. Good news: It doesn’t hurt to cough today and my regular voice is *almost* back. At least I can speak now and give orders. ; )

2. Because of #1, I did laundry ALL.DAY.YESTERDAY. That’s it. And the bedding is still not completed this morning. Bright side? At least I’m not having to fold it.

3. I’m going to Blissdom on Thursday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And I feel unprepared because of #1, again. If you don’t know what it is, the short answer is: a blogging/social-media conference here in Nashville. If you want the long answer, click on the link. : ) I’ve been waiting to go to this for 3 years now and finally made the leap and bought a ticket. So many “famous” bloggers to meet!

4. Yesterday, for the first time ever, we had to talk to Maddox about the death of someone he knows. A beloved grandfather of one of his closest friends passed away unexpectedly this weekend. And Maddox sees him quite often. We told him early in the day, so there wouldn’t be any uneasy thoughts for him at bedtime. It went smoothly and he had good questions, but seemed to understand. When bedtime prayers were said, he added a prayer for his friend all on his own and melted my heart even more.

5. I bought a used treadmill from a friend. As of yesterday, it now resides in my bonus room and as soon as I’m not coughing/wheezing anymore I’m excited to use it! No more trying to convince myself to drive all the way to the YMCA and failing!

6. Maddox has his first loose tooth. I think. I’m so sad about it (even though I know I shouldn’t be) and told him not to touch it so it won’t fall out too soon. It makes me queasy.

7. We eat cold cereal for breakfast almost every single morning. Unless Chad makes oatmeal. My theory is that a healthy cereal + almond or coconut milk is waaaaaay healthier than most cooked breakfasts that other people make.

8. I’m on a reading binge. I’ve read 5 novels in the last week and a half and I’m only slowing down this week to prepare for Blissdom.

9. And finally, for today, the biggest thing on my mind all weekend was my friend, Cindy. She is one of my best friends from high school and college and she has cancer. Breast cancer, to be exact. She’s been through her double mastectomy already this past week and is healing, but the cancer was found in her lymph nodes and that never equates to “easy”. I’ve been through this with my own mother, but she was lucky and had none in her lymph nodes, so she didn’t have to have the dreaded chemo or awful radiation. Just a chemo pill every day. Please join me in prayers for Cindy, her husband, and their 3 children ages 4.5, 3. and 1. They need all the prayers we can send up on her behalf. Thank you.

That’s it, folks. Lists in the future won’t be quite as long, but it was a heavier mental weekend than normal.

On a last note, I have decided to take back my life and DO the things I’ve been wanting and planning on doing instead of just dreaming in my head and this post (whether you understand why or not) is the start of that.¬†This is going to be my year! I just know it. : )

Happy Monday!

Sweetest Homemade Birthday Gift

Oh, that Chad.
He did it again. ; )
My sweet husband is not one to bring me flowers all the time, or buy me gifts (he lets me stay home with the kids, that’s gift enough), and he’s not a big talker.¬†
BUT….
when he decides to do something special for me, it is truly extra special for me, specifically, and I know he puts his heart into the things he chooses. 
I turned 33 almost two weeks ago and on the morning of my birthday, I was awakened by the sounds of “Happy Birthday, Mommy!” as the kids and Chad piled into our room. Maddox was carrying a mini cake plate and there under the glass domed lid was my favorite breakfast food: blueberry muffins!! It was very sweet and thoughtful and I was thankful that my Mom was able to be there for awhile that day, too!
Chad had to work after that and I spent a lazy day with the kids when Mom headed home. It wasn’t my ideal birthday, but who can complain? We had so much going on that week and the weeks following that I think I was happy to just relax a bit. (I have so much fun stuff to share from the recent weeks, but that will come soon.)
So, on the weekend of my birthday, I had plans. (BIG plans like….being in a music video! Post on that coming soon, as well.) We had no plans for celebrating my birthday that weekend though, which is rare for me since I will usually plan my own party. But, while I was gone & busy with my fun weekend with people other than my family, Chad and the kids came up with this masterpiece.¬†
I will tell you right now that when the first few notes of the song started along with my babies’ faces, I immediately teared up and the tears just started pouring. I was able to look past the hilarious bow placement in Maggie’s hair and the fact that Chad let her wear those pajamas all day long (have I told you how much I can’t stand character clothing?) because this was real life. It is a real life movie, made just for me. I wouldn’t trade it for any material gift. It is the sweetest thing I’ve seen in a long time and was just the gift that this Mama needed.¬†
I am a lucky girl. 
And my kids are lucky to have a dad like Chad, with his his sense of humor and his love for these kids and myself. 
I hope you enjoy! 
(Pssst. If you’re reading in an email, you will have to actually open up my blog to watch the link and you don’t want to miss the best music video ever. Everyone – when you click the “Play” button, immediately hit it again to pause the video. Give it some time to load and then watch it so it doesn’t jump around. Trust me. There’s an entire message you’ll want to see.) Thanks!

On another note, I am remembering a dear best friend today that lost her life too early, many years ago. I have a post planned for that with some fond memories, but I couldn’t do two sad ones in a row on here, so I’m breaking it up with this happy little post instead. :)

A Mother’s Retreat

I will start out by saying this: Thank you, Chad, for giving me this time alone…for silence and my own thoughts and just plain old rest.¬†
I’ve already told him “Thank you” multiple times, but I thought I’d say it again. :)
The past 2 weeks have been awful at home and I was on the edge of meltdown. Between Maddox trying to be a parent to his sister and Magdalen climbing everything, destroying everything, and thinking she’s already 12 years old…I was at the end of my rope. Part of that has been due to Chad’s schedule. He normally works more than the average person, but the last little bit has meant seeing him very few hours at home, and most of those have been while I was sleeping. I think it’s funny when I say he works late and people say “Oh…wow. Does he get home around 8 or 9 at night?” Ummmmmmm, no. That would be EARLY for him. People have no clue.¬†
I’m not complaining here. Don’t think that. I’m very happy for his job and that he loves his work and thankful that he’s willing to work so hard while I am able to be with the kids all the time. But I’m not going to lie, it makes for a tough job for me at home.¬†
So……….Chad gifted me with 24 hours to retreat from our home. He told me Thursday night after I had texted him an SOS saying I didn’t think I could do it anymore. Less than 24 hours later, I was GONE. Haha! At first I didn’t even know what to do as I was planning. Where was I supposed to sleep?? Then I remembered our points we save on our credit card. FREE hotel room. Yippee! I first thought I would stay downtown in the Leow’s Hotel or something similar, but then you add in valet charges, wi-fi charges, and more tipping, it adds up. I just wanted some rest. :) So, I chose a 3-star hotel in my same little town which includes free parking, free wi-fi, and no tipping. Much better for a silent retreat.
Here’s how my 24 hour gift went:
1. I first went to Hobby Lobby to return some party items I no longer needed. 
2. I then went to Barnes & Noble and looked at books for probably 2 hours. (That’s not very long for me in a book store.)¬†
3. While there, I had dinner. Spinach and artichoke pesto quiche and a lemon-raspberry tart. See photo below. Definitely recommend! I couldn’t believe I was eating this deliciousness at a book store! (All pics taken with my phone, by the way.)

4. I walked over to Gap Outlet, Francesca’s Collections, and then hopped in the car to go to the hotel. But first….a second dinner. ; ) I had to stop by Dairy Queen and get my beloved Oreo Blizzard. I did buy a banana and a side salad there just to balance out the goodness with the badness. I enjoyed it in my silent hotel room. Aaaaaaah.

5. I looked through the books I had purchased for each child for Easter morning. For Maddox, I bought The First Easter: The story of why we celebrate Easter and for Magdalen, My Big Little Golden Book about God. I feel like I had this book as a child, but I can’t quite tell yet. I’ll have to ask my parents.¬†

The pictures in this book are so special to me. I grew up reading many, many Golden Books and all the little children are drawn the same. I still remember their dimpled knees, round faces, and always a haircut with bangs. It’s funny the things that stay with you from childhood. The picture below reminds me of Maddox and Magdalen.¬†
6. I read excerpts of books, prayed off and on for parental wisdom, and then rested for the night. 
7. This morning, I stayed in bed until the last minute and went down for the free breakfast. I brought my food back, ate in silence while I read my magazine and just enjoyed the quiet. 

8. I read some more. Since my time away was mostly during the Sabbath hours, I didn’t watch any TV, which truly did make this a silent retreat. One thing that has surprised even myself while being a parent, is the roots I keep going back to. The picture below shows a page out of a book that I brought with me. I know a lot of people would be surprised, but with the trouble I’ve been having at home I suddenly felt as if I might find some insight in this little book, along with lots of prayer.¬†
The Adventist Home by Ellen G. White. I grew up seeing this little book sitting on our shelves at home, but never paid attention to it. Back in those days, I was too young and then as I grew I thought old E. G. White was a stuffy little lady that didn’t know how to have any fun. And I can’t judge her. I haven’t read enough of her stuff to know really! I was just going on what we were being told in church school and the parts that were being picked out to share with us as students. (For the record, I do believe she was a writer inspired by God. I just got turned off by the people who tend to quote her more than they even can quote the Bible. Seriously. The Bible is The Word and E. G. White is just another person saying “Hey! God is right. Here’s what I have to say, but go read His Word first.”)
So then I prayed last night and then this morning I was flipping through the book on my bed and I randomly opened it up to the chapter titled….
Influence of Mother. 
Yep. That’s where I landed. Jesus heard my prayers and the prayers of my husband, and my mother, and all my Bible study girls who knew I was having trouble.¬†
My trouble has been my impatience, my yelling, my dark & cloudy disposition towards my children because they are getting in MY way. I knew this was my problem, not theirs. They just don’t make it any easier on me. I knew I needed some insight onto something out there. And here’s the passage that God knew I needed today, so I could reflect on it before I headed back to my family. The subtitle of this portion of the chapter is called….
The Wholesome Influence of a PATIENT MOTHER. 
I know. Crazy, huh? Oh God in Heaven, how I needed this. Read the first 2 paragraphs and see what I mean. The whole chapter has such solid, sound advice on my job in my life right now. Wow. I honestly can’t wait to read more!
The words that really made me realize what was happening with my own children and me were these: 
“She almost forgets herself time and again, but a silent prayer to her pitying Redeemer calms her nerves, and she is enabled to hold the reins of self-control with quiet dignity. She speaks with calm voice, but it has cost her an effort to restrain harsh words and subdue angry feelings which, if expressed, would have destroyed her influence, which it would have taken time to regain.”

WHOA. I’m now realizing that it’s possible that my children are losing respect for me because I’m not respecting them with patience like I should. And I know my shortcomings. They are there and I’m the first person to realize it.¬†
I realize that Yes! I need time for myself, but even more so I need to not be impatient with them when they are messing up MY plans for myself. They are my job. They are my loves. They are what God has entrusted me to take care of and I need to honor that. Everything else should be put aside as I make them feel like wonderful beings that I always love no matter what. Because they are…..and I do.¬†
This morning, after I had my 30 minute long, hot shower (unheard of at home. ha!) I somehow came across this video. It was a performance from last night and I clicked on it because of the title. I love a good old Christian song from my childhood, and this is one of those. 
Something about this song just moves me every time I hear it, but add Carrie Underwood and Vince Gill doing harmony and playing that guitar and I’m just a sobbing mess.¬†
So, there I was sitting on my hotel bed with tears streaming from my eyes as I listened to this. It was a beautiful ending to my Mother’s Retreat. I hope you enjoy this performance as much as I did! : )
How Great Thou Art

Happy Sabbath and Happy Easter Weekend! I’m excited to be heading home to my family. : )

{First Giveaway!} One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

Edited to Add: Comments have been closed for this giveaway. Winner has been announced HERE.

There’s a blog I’ve been reading for some time now. I have it delivered to my email inbox daily and it is always a breath of fresh air. Always a new way of looking at life. Always focused around the grace of God and the love the author receives from Him. Her story is inspiring, and no doubt…she is inspired.

A Holy Experience is written by Ann Voskamp, a beautiful lady married to a man she calls The Farmer. : ) They raise their 6 children on their piece of land that she so willingly shares photos of throughout her posts. She clings to God and his promises so tightly, and then writes about it so beautifully that it resonates in my mind for a nice long time. I personally can’t get enough.

And now…

She has written a book.

Wait…did you catch that?!?

SHE HAS WRITTEN A BOOK!!!!

So much excitement for me in those words!! : ) I’m a book-a-holic as it is, but to be able to hold her words in my hands is just too much! The perfect highlighter and pen will have to be found before I open the first page. I have already read the first chapter online (you can read it HERE) and it is phenomenally powerful: One Thousand Gifts: A Dare To Live Fully Right Where You Are. A true story from the heart. Here is the introduction video and Ann’s dare to Live Fully, and it is beautiful. Don’t miss it:

One Thousand Gifts has just been released for purchase this past week and my copies are in my home library now. What could be better, I ask?

Oh, yes. Maybe the fact that you can join in on the {in}Courage¬†Bloom book club and read along with the lovely ladies, Jessica and Angie? This is the first book they’ve chosen after they have joined forces with {in}Courage. (Check out {in}Courage and it’s many Christian authors focused on women. A true blessing.) And what could be better than a book club that’s reading Ann’s book?!?

Ann Voskamp, herself, has joined Jessica and Angie in their weekly videos to talk about each chapter of her book! I am so giddy over this that I can hardly wait for the first one to start. : ) You can join in just like I will be doing and watch the videos. Here is the video from yesterday, where they introduced Ann to the book club:

You can even join the actual community and have online discussions with others reading as you are, right from the site. Very exciting news!

And the final awesomeness that I have to tell you?…because Yes! it gets even better??? ; )

I bought an extra copy to give away to a lucky someone! That’s right! YOU could win a free copy of One Thousand Gifts: A Dare To Live Fully Right Where You Are.¬†

I went to purchase mine (because it was on a huge sale last week – details below) and I felt compelled to buy an extra…just because. I bought it along with the few other copies I decided on for upcoming gifts and it hit me that night I purchased them. Why not do a giveaway? So here I am.

I hope this book blesses someone else out there. Just reading Ann’s heartfelt and genuine blog posts have been a blessing to me all this time. And wow, does she have a story to tell.

If you want it, here’s your chance. : )

Giveaway Guidelines:

  • Open to U.S. addresses only
  • You must make a comment on this blog post for 1 entry. Comments made elsewhere will NOT be counted.
  • No anonymous commenters please. If you don’t have a blog to link up, please leave your contact info in the comment (i.e. email address, Twitter name).
  • You have 2 days to enter. The giveaway ends Tuesday, January 25, at midnight CST.
That’s all! I’m making this very simple so that anyone has the chance to win this lovely book. And unfortunately it’s a short giveaway. I want to leave enough time to ship the book to the winner before the book club officially starts (February 6th).¬†
If you can’t wait and want to purchase your own, here are the links to the best deals:
  • Dayspring.com is where I bought my copy for $10. I bought 5 copies ($50) so I received free shipping. I believe that if you buy 2 or more copies, you can enter the coupon code BLOOMBOOK through the end of today (Monday). After today the price goes back up to retail.
  • Amazon.com is the other site running a great deal. Because of the amazing amount of purchases of this book last week, it made it into the top 10 sellers on Amazon. I think it was up to #7! Yeah!!! They are currently selling it for $9.14.¬†
  • If you would like to buy a book as a sponsor for someone who truly cannot afford it, please click HERE. Dayspring will send it to someone in need who has already filled out a form requesting one.¬†
Now, get clicking!!
Thanks & Good luck! : )