July 26, 2014

{review & giveaway} Enough by Kate Conner

Enough: 10 Things We Should Be Telling Teen Girls is available from B&H Publishing. It can also be found a various online and Christian retailers.

About The Book:

You are beautiful. You are valuable. You are enough.

In a book based on her run-away blog post “Ten Things I Want to Tell Teenage Girls,” which garnered more than 2 million views in two weeks, Kate Conner calls us to action in Enough. We all have teenage girls in our lives who we love, whether it’s a sister, friend, or daughter. Kate has identified 10 things these girls need to hear today from someone who loves her.

Peppered with wit and laced with grace, Kate’s list tackles relevant issues like Facebook, emotions, drama, tanning beds, modesty, and flirtation. Woven into each chapter is a powerful message of worth that transcends age, and will touch the souls of women, young and old alike: You are beautiful. You are valuable. You are enough.

About Kate Conner:

A former youth-worker, wife to a college minister, and a young mom in her twenties, Conner stands squarely in generational gap, the perfect place from which to bridge it. Conner offers herself as a translator, helping you to speak your teenager’s language and equipping you with a fresh perspective from which to engage your teenage girl—one that may enable her to truly hear your heart (and your wisdom) for the first time since puberty.

 My Thoughts:

This is what I realized as I was reading this book:

Raising a teen girl is harder than being one. It's frustrating and confusing and emotional and exhilarating and a lot of other things.

Enough is a little bit like a hand book. I feel like it gave me tools and ideas that I wouldn't normally have stumbled across. There is a huge lack of books for parenting teens in today's world - and we all know it's a different world than the ones we grew up in. I don't like to think about what my teen years would have been like if there was Facebook back then. *shutter* 

Kate Conner is funny and engaging. Reading this book is a bit like chatting with a friend. It's encouraging, convicting and loaded with wisdom from God's Word. I highly recommend it to any one with daughters or that works with teen girls. Enough is a breath of fresh air in the world of Christian parenting books. It's real, honest and so very helpful. Grab a copy! 

And happy day for you ... I've got one copy to give away!! All you have to do to enter is comment below, telling me one thing you wish you knew when you were a teen. For me, I wish I knew Jesus and would have made better choices.  Been there?

The giveaway ends on August 6 at midnight. I'll contact the winner by email, so make sure you leave it in your comment. Good luck!

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification."

July 24, 2014

Momma, Take a Break! Part II

Last week, I wrote about some reasons I think it's important for moms to take breaks. I truly believe it's important to our sanity and spiritual health.

So how do we do that? It's not always easy. Trust me, I know.

Moms generally fall into one of two categories: those with friends/family around to help and those that do not.

I sit on the fence between these two categories, so I truly understand the heartbreak and loneliness of being without friends or family. There was a season of my life when I was without family in my area and with no friends. I had a very precocious oldest daughter, a toddler/preschooler with severe food allergies and towards the end of this season, was pregnant. It was long and hard and oh so lonely. I read a lot about making memories and tried my very best but there were lots of bad days. I know now that I should have tried harder to reach out and ask for help. So when I say this, please know that I understand. If you are in a similar season -- please find a woman that you can approach in humility. Explain your situation and what you need ... a friend. Tell her that your heart is to serve your family but you just need to breathe. I think every momma can understand that. Meet for coffee, go grocery shopping together, walk around Walmart after your put your kids to bed and your hubby is sleeping. It all starts with you, being humble enough to admit you don't have it all together, that you need a friend.

Maybe the paragraph above is beyond your understanding. You've got friends. This also entails a bit of humble pie on your part. It also involves you shutting down some lies. The first, biggest and most prevalent lie being that guilt you feel creeping in every time you leave the house without a child. A close second is that they (your children, specifically) won't know what to do without you. Let's just clean it all up right now. You're worth some special time away and your children will be just fine until you get back. Even if they scream the entire time - they'll be fine.

Here are a few ideas I had for your MommaBreak:

- Start or attend a book club. Even if you only discuss one chapter a month, it's a great time to gather with other moms and encourage one another. Share war stories, laugh and cry and pray together, eat a slice of cake without having to share any of it.

- Start a grocery shopping coop. Your friend watches your children while you grocery shop, then the following day (week, month) you watch hers. It will give you both some time to just be quiet. We can settle our hearts before the Lord anywhere, you know. Aisle 5 is just as good of a place to ask God for wisdom on raising your children as anywhere else.

- Schedule one dinner out with a friend every three months. Save a couple of dollars a week towards your 'Keep Momma Sane' dinner. Oh and once it's scheduled - don't cancel apart from a severe emergency. A 6 year old with a fever is not an emergency. Your husband can handle it for a few hours. Trust the man you married, even if his methods look a bit different. Talk. Talk to your friends about those areas you want God to strengthen you and commit to praying for one another.

- If getting out of the house is simply impossible for you, invite a friend over. Don't fret about the dirt in the corner or your lack of a fancy dessert. Sure, the kids will be running around like wild men but it's okay. Just connect with another mom.

- If there are no moms you feel comfortable inviting over and you can't get out of the house - it's time for drastic measures. Find a video your children will watch, even if it's just 20 minutes. Before putting it on, prep an area with your Bible, a notebook and your beverage of choice. Put the video on and run like a mad woman. Yes, I'm fully advocating using Elmo as a babysitter when the situation is right. Read a Psalm, write out your heart to the Lord and sip your beverage in that small window of peace.

What other ways have you found time to take for yourself to recharge and refocus on the Lord?

July 23, 2014

{review} Nature Girl: a guide to caring for God's creation

{I received a copy of Nature Girl as a part of the Z Blog Squad in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and a good review was not guaranteed.}

Nature Girl: a guide to caring for God's creation by Karen Whiting and Rebecca White
Available from Zondervan for $7.99 or read a sample here.

About The Book:

Fun, activities based book for girls ages 9-12 on caring for our earth and the environment, helping girls appreciate God’s creations and understand our responsibilities in caring for what God has given us. Going green from a Christian perspective.


 Our Thoughts:

 I think it's easy for Christians to dismiss anything to do with being green as anti-God, rather than being honoring to God and His creation. There is a group of people that worships the creation itself, rather than the Creator. It's hard sometimes to make a distinction between the two. Nature Girl walks the thin line between teaching children to worship God, then what He created and worship creation, then the God that made it.

Nature Girl touches on every aspect of a young girl's life. Beauty, eating habits, animal care, recycling, gardening, energy and even how to throw a 'green' party. It's very thorough, even covering topics on 'green' jobs. There are recipes and crafts, for everything from a solar oven to 'green' body care products like lip gloss and body glitter.

 I think there are a lot of great tools in Nature Girl. The recipes are fun and the crafts look interesting. This is a great book for a young woman who is secure and strong in her Christian faith, but is interested in honoring God while learning more about the world around her. It is also a great reference type book to have on the shelf, for random questions that pop up. Like "Why is manure good for gardens?' ...

My hesitation comes from the content overall. I think the tone of the book would have been different had there been a chapter at the beginning, containing a short teaching on how God created the earth and asked us to care for it. But for an impressionable girl to read this book while still trying to nail down her belief in the Bible, I think it could get confusing. Are we going green or are we in the world but not of it? Are we people who love Jesus, that want to treat His Creation well or are we Earth BFFs? I definitely think there is a balance between the two and I think there is a place for honoring and respecting God's creation. I just wish Nature Girl would have had a bit more about God creating this world before they starting talking about how we are going to save it.

July 20, 2014

{review & giveaway} Well Planned Day Wall Calendar

{Giveaway had ended.} 

{This post contains affiliate links. I was provided with a copy of the Well Planned Day Wall Calendar in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and a good review was no guaranteed.}

We all need calendars, right? Isn't it more fun when you have a pretty calendar, rather than that free one from the bank?

It's no surprise that I'm a huge fan of the Well Planned Day products. The Family Planner is my number one most necessary item for homeschooling. So when I was presented with the opportunity to check out their Wall Calendar, of course I said yes!

The Wall Calendar is very pretty, with nice graphics that are not overwhelming. Really, what we all want and need is big spaces for each day right? Well, this has them. 

There is also a little box on each day, that can be used for whatever you need.  Bible reading done? Check. School finished? Check. Everyone survived the day with no major injuries? Check.

One thing I really like, and I find lacking on some wall calendars, is the year at a glance on each page. Sometimes I'll just need to know what day of the week a holiday or birthday is quickly. Rather than having to flip ahead, it's right at the bottom of each month. I find that very helpful.

There is a great sale going on at Home Educating Family right now. If you purchase a Well Planned Day Family Planner, you can add a Wall Calendar to your order for only $.99!!  This sale ends on July 31, 2014.

Home Educating Family has also provided one Wall Calendar for a lucky reader! I'm making this a super fast giveaway so enter now and tell your friends! This giveaway will end on July 23 at 10 AM. Winner will be notified by email and product will be shipped directly from Well Planned Day. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

{Giveaway sponsored by Home Educating Family.}

July 19, 2014

Momma, Take a Break!

I have a friend that is struggling with taking some time away for herself. She's had this crazy year and lots of stress and really needs a break. But she's a mom so momma-guilt is in full swing.

Why do we do this to ourselves, moms? I see three clear, biblical reasons that moms need a break sometimes...

1 - Jesus did it.

While this list is not exhaustive and doesn't show that Jesus withdrew to have a quiet cup of coffee with a friend, I think we can see that Jesus placed serious value on moments of quiet. If it was necessary for the Creator of the World to find quiet, don't you think we need it too?
Mark 1:35
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
Matthew 14:23
After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.

Luke 6:12
One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.
 Luke 22:41a
He withdrew about a stone's throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, ...

2 - An empty cup can't serve anyone

As mothers, we are called to serve our families. I know we all try to do that with excellence, joy and a pure heart. But if we are exhausted and cranky, are we really serving our families well?

Titus 2:3-5
 the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things—  that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,  to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.

3 - Relationships are vital in the Kingdom of God
When women sit down together and talk about more than diapers or birth stories, it's an opportunity for them to speak life into their tired hearts. It's time to share struggles and prayers and encouragement. It is when the cups get filled to overflowing and hearts get mended together. It is not selfish to want relationship with fellow women of God. It is what binds together our hearts together and strengthens us for the hard days.  
Mathew 18:19-20
 “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

So please, moms. Don't believe the momma-guilt that would have you believe you're selfish or not enough or inadequate. You are none of those things. Find a few moments to breathe. Find quiet so you can hear God speaking to your heart. And find friends that will help hold you together. 

{Are you thinking this sounds impossible? Quiet, peace, getting out of the house?! I'll have some ideas for you next week!}