Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Jill Savage, Real Moms...Real Jesus Blog Tour

In my ramblings around the blogosphere last month I came across an opportunity to participate in a blog tour with Jill Savage. I have not read Jill's new book Real Moms...Real Jesus but I have read another of her books, Professionalizing Motherhood.

Professionalizing Motherhood was a pivotal book for me so I feel confident in recommending Jill's new book to you now. I've also benefited from her Hearts at Home ministry. In fact, you can read about a mini-retreat my friends and I did using CDs/tapes from last year's Hearts at Home Conference.

So, with that in mind here is the blog tour interview with Jill Savage.

Today I’d like to welcome author and speaker, Jill Savage. Jill’s recent book Real Moms…Real Jesus, just released, and I wanted to ask her about her real mom moments..

Jill, tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.
Mark and I have been married 25 years and we have five children. Anne is 24 and married to our wonderful son-in-love, Matt. Evan is 21 and married to our beautiful daughter-in-love, Julie. Erica is 18 and a college student at Heartland Community College. Kolya is 15 and in the 8th grade. We adopted Kolya at the age of 9 from Russia---the God story about his adoption is included in the Real Moms…Real Jesus book. And Austin is 12 and in the 7th grade.
Tell us about your newest book Real Moms...Real Jesus?
Real Moms…Real Jesus is a book designed to help moms understand that when Jesus lived on this earth he was fully God, yet fully man. We don’t often think about the fact that he was a human being and he lived the full human experience: pain, hunger, fatigue, frustration, betrayal, disappointment. He experienced it all!

There’s one verse in the Bible about Jesus that simply says “large crowds followed him everywhere he went.” Well, isn’t that the life of a mom? Large crowds follow her to the bathroom. They follow her to the kitchen. To the grocery store. She’s in high demand! And when Jesus lived on this earth, He was in high demand, too.
Why did you want to write this book?
Most of us long for a friend who understands. Yes, we need girlfriends who understand what our life is like. But we also need to understand that we have a friend who understands in Jesus. Too many of us think of God as being distant and unable to relate to our daily struggles. But nothing could be further from the truth! He understands and he wants us to build our friendship with Him. He wants to not only be our Savior, but also our Friend.
What do you hope your readers will gain from this book?
I hope that readers will gain a new perspective about their relationship with Jesus. I also hope to weave God’s truth into the daily life of a mom.What unique elements will the reader find in Real Moms…Real Jesus?
Each chapter looks at some character trait in Jesus’ life that can help us in our life as a mom. In between the chapters are interactive vignettes that provide brief, refreshing glimpses into our real, messy, busy lives.
There are also questions at the end of the chapter for further consideration and suggested Bible reading in the book of Matthew. If the reader chooses to pursue the suggested reading, she will have read the book of Matthew completely by the end of the book!There is also a leader’s guide in the back of the book so it can be used in a group setting.
This is a Hearts at Home book. What is Hearts at Home?

Hearts at Home is an organization that encourages, educates, and equips women in the profession of motherhood. Hearts at Home encourages moms through annual conferences, our extensive website (
www.hearts-at-home.org), a free bi-weekly electronic newsletter, a radio program, and an entire line of books designed to meet the needs of moms all over the world!
Any closing thoughts?
I am very excited about this book! I believe that if a mom can strengthen her relationship with Jesus Christ, she will feel more equipped to be the mom she wants to be. I’m also offering an online book discussion on my blog beginning Tuesday, April 7. If you’d like to join us, you can subscribe to my blog at
I’d love to hear a reader’s thoughts after they read the book, too! You can connect to me through my blog at
Thanks, Jill, for taking time out of your busy schedule to share your real mom, real Jesus moments with us.You can purchase your own copy of Real Moms…Real Jesus by clicking here.

And be sure to check out Hearts at Home, their conferences for moms, and all their online resources


I have a copy of Real Moms...Real Jesus to give away to one lucky reader!! Here are the rules:
  1. Leave a comment telling if you have heard of Hearts at Home or Jill Savage before reading this post. If so, where?
  2. Be sure to include your email address with the comment or I will have no way to notify you when you win.
  3. For extra entries tweet about the giveaway on Twitter then come back and leave an additional comment saying you tweeted.
  4. The winner will have 3 days to respond to my email notification or they will forfeit and another winner will be drawn.
Giveaway will close on Tuesday April 7, 2009.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Review & Giveaway: JumpStart Computer Game & Workbook

William, a computer game lover, was thrilled when I recently had the opportunity to review a copy of JumpStart Preschool: Classic Version computer game and JumpStart Pre-K Word Games workbook.

JumpStart Preschool: Classic Version is a CD-ROM computer game designed for ages 2-4. The game is modeled around a preschool classroom where the "student" clicks on items in the classroom and is taken to various games related to that item.

Here's how my kids did after playing the game a couple of times:
  • Will, age 5, easily negotiated the mouse and game. The games offered little challenge to him but did keep him entertained.
  • Ben, age 4, is still learning to use a computer and mouse. With a little assistance from big brother Will, he managed to figure it all out and especially liked the puzzle game where he had to select and move a puzzle piece into position. (Ben LOVES puzzles and is very skilled at them.)
  • Ellie, age 2, couldn't quite figure out the mouse and the games. She liked watching her brothers play but needed quite a bit of assistance with just maneuvering through the game. Also, she couldn't quite grasp the virtual concepts though she easily understands many of them in real life.
As thrilled as Will was about the computer game, Ben was excited about the JumpStart Pre-K Word Games workbook.

The workbook covers five skills: opposites, positional words, sight words, matching, and beginning sounds and letters. A set of stickers is also included for incentive awards.

Ben and I are half-way through the second section. He has easily completed each task, (note for moms - they do require me to read everything to him). However, I'm not convinced this shows he has mastered the skills.

Here's why. Much of what we've done has required drawing a line from one item to a corresponding item. For example, drawing a line from a bicycle with flat tires (broken) to a bicycle with full tires (fixed).

Ben had no problem doing this but when I asked why he matched them, he said it was because they were both bicycles (the other 3 pairs of opposites were represented by completely different images). He was supposed to be matching pairs of opposite words. I think using the same image (a bicycle) to represent all of the words would have been a better approach for this skill.

So, what do I think about these two products?

If you are looking for a computer game to entertain your child and develop a few skills, I recommend you consider JumpStart Preschool: Classic.

If you are looking for a preschool workbook to develop academic skills, I suggest you skip JumpStart Pre-K Word Games (I have NOT reviewed their other workbooks so this is not a blanket opinion of all their workbook products).

Now, on to the exciting part. I have a copy of JumpStart Preschool: Classic to give away!
  1. Leave a comment on this post and you will be entered in the drawing.
  2. Be sure to include your email address with the comment or I will have no way to notify you when you win.
  3. For extra entries tweet about the giveaway on Twitter then come back and leave a comment saying you tweeted.
  4. This giveaway is open to US and Canada shipping addresses.
  5. The winner will have 3 days to respond to my email notification or they will forfeit and another winner will be drawn.
Giveaway will close Thursday, April 2.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Life is Learning - Guest Post Series

Today we continue our series "Living as a Single Christian Woman" with Ann from Ann's Thoughts.

I have been very excited to hear that our series has encouraged several woman. I love to hearing how God has used this platform.

If you've been encouraged, challenged or have questions, please leave a comment or email me.


Have you ever watched a toddler learn? It is a fascinating process. From birth, physical growth is obvious almost daily. Then, somewhere around ten to twelve months of age, a child enters a phase of practically visible intellectual growth. Excitement literally radiates from their bodies as they discover new ideas, formulate new words, test new concepts, and practice new skills.

For a toddler, life is learning! Somewhere during our school years, we lose that excitement for learning. We begin to see learning as a means to an end and the joy of learning fades away. We just want to learn our lessons and pass our tests so we can move on.

We then carry this into our spiritual lives. When God is growing us, we want to learn our lessons so we can make it to whatever it is He’s preparing us to be or do. We want to pass our spiritual tests, thinking that once we’ve done that, we can have the desires of our hearts.

If we’re single, we can move on to marriage. If we’re childless, we can move into parenthood. If we’re unfulfilled in our current situation, we can find that perfect fit – that “thing” that fulfills us perfectly. And, once we achieve those goals, we can rest from all the learning and enjoy our dreams. After all, isn’t that the American dream?

God doesn’t teach us so we can live our dreams. God teaches us so we can become like Him, which ultimately is the totality of what we were created to be.

Our mentality must be changed. We must begin to realize that our journey is not a series of small lessons, each culminating in the fulfillment of personal desires. Instead, it is a life of learning that culminates in eternity with our Savior and Father.

For a toddler, walking is not a goal. It is a new skill that opens up many new doors for learning. In the same way, marriage is not a goal. Neither is parenthood, that dream job, or anything else.

When God introduces those things into our lives, they are tools in His hand to continue molding us into perfection. They are avenues through which we become more like Him and draw as many around us to Him as we can.

We are women of God. Let’s dig in to God’s Word and discover what that means. Let’s make that our life-long learning plan. And when we look up and realize that many of our hearts’ desires are being fulfilled, we will rejoice and continue learning until one day we really do reach that ultimate goal of eternity with Christ!
When not writing or blogging, Ann spends her time homeschooling and mothering her 3 children and supporting her husband in his role as pastor. You can read more posts by Ann at Ann's Thoughts.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What's on Your Nightstand, 3.24.09

It's time to check-in once again and update you on what I've read this month. I think this is probably my favorite carnival! It provides me with great motivation and accountability to accomplish the reading goals I set for myself.

So, what were my goals for March?How did I do?

Well, I haven't finished The Ministry of Motherhood, yet. But, I am working through it each week with several other women. You are welcome to join us on Fridays for a very informal book club. Whether you joins or not, feel free to read my Intro, Grace, and Inspiration posts and add your thoughts in the comments.

I didn't make it to the library in time to pick up a Beatrix Potter book but I did find some fun videos on YouTube and websites with activities for kids.

As for the Thomas Nelson book, it finally arrived but I've barely had time to open the cover.

I have read one book that wasn't on the list, Henry and Ribsy by Beverly Cleary for the 5 Minutes for Books Children's Classics Carnival (dog theme). I'll save my review for next month but let me just say that we returned to the library after Will and I finished this book and brought home 2 others about the same characters!

Overall I'm feeling very positive about my reading this month. I knew going into March that I wouldn't have much time for reading so I'm pleased with what I have accomplished. April is also going to be super busy so I'm not expecting much personal reading for next month either.


Reading Goals for April:
*** To see what other's read in March and plan to read in April visit What's on Your Nightstand at 5 Minutes for Books.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Ultimate Blog Party 2009

Ultimate Blog Party 2009

Welcome to Stephanie's Mommy Brain!

Come on it and have a cup of tea with me! Please excuse the legos on the floor, burp cloths on the chair and the dirty dishes in the sink. Some days we get everything cleaned up around here and some days we don't. It's the reality of life with four children under the age of 6!

I could go on forever about my kids and home management but I'll restrain myself and just let you read the archives.

Instead, I want to tell you about all the exciting opportunities I've had this year! I am having so much fun and it's only March!

In January, I was honored to have OrgJunkie mention my financial binder tutorial in one of her Link~Tastic posts. I am still over the moon! If you aren't familiar with OrgJunkie, she has incredible ideas and tips for getting your house in order. Visit her after our chat. You won't be sorry.

Also in January, I took on the role of Giveaway/Contest Administrator for 5 Minutes for Mom/ 5 Minutes for Giveaways. That means if you leave a comment on one of their giveaways I'm the person who will pick you to win, notify you and send your shipping information to the sponsor. (Though I'm NOT the person picking winners for the UBP!) It's really a fun job getting to tell people they've won fabulous prizes! Way more fun than changing smelly diapers!

I've had several amazing opportunities this month. First, I had the privilege of working with BooMama and writing a post for Praise Baby (incredible children's music!!).

Then I began a blogging internship at Profitable Mommy Blogging. For 6 weeks I've been stretching myself as a blogger, learning a lot about writing and running a blog, and trying to soak up as much information as I can. It's been a challenge but one I'm growing from, which is a good thing.

I've also had the chance this month to participate in a Blog Tour with Jill Savage from Hearts at Home as she promotes her new book, Real Moms... Real Jesus: Meet the Friend Who Understands. That post won't be published until March 31 so be sure to come back and hear what Jill has to say.

Another post coming later this week is a giveaway! I'll be reviewing and giving away a copy of JumpStart Preschool Classic. Check back to see what I thought of this computer game for preschoolers.

Whew!! I'm getting tired just thinking about all I've been doing and I haven't even mentioned my Friday Book Club or Wednesday Guest posts on "Living as a Single Christian Woman!" I guess I'll have to leave them for another time.

Well, thanks for stopping by as you make the rounds for the Ultimate Blog Party 2009. If you'll excuse me I've got to feed a baby now but feel free to stick around and check out my archives, read my popular posts and leave a comment.

Friday, March 20, 2009

SMB Book Club: Ministry of Motherhood - Inspiration

Edited Saturday morning to add video at the end. Enjoy!

This week the SMB Book Club reading
The Ministry of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson focused on Part Two: The Gift of Inspiration.

Part Two is divided into 4 chapters:

On the Mountain - A Model for Inspiration
Inspiring a Sense of Purpose
Inspiring a Sense of God's Powerful Presence
Inspiring a New Kind of Love

As I cooked supper last night William came into the kitchen and looked out the window. He immediately exclaimed, "Look! Look out the window!"

Naturally we all came running to see what had him so excited. As I looked out the window Will continued, "I see pinks, and blues and purples! It's a beautiful sunset! God sure made a beautiful sunset."

I agreed with Will and smiled to myself thinking of Sally's admonition for us to say "Come, look!" as we "inspire our children to look for God's glory and purposes in their lives."

In case you didn't notice, last week's section on The Gift of Grace left me feeling VERY convicted and VERY aware of areas I need to work on as a mom.

This week's reading on The Gift of Inspiration has me feeling hopeful and encouraged. Using quotes from the book, here is a brief summary of the section:
"Often, I think, we get lost in [the] multitudinous tasks that rule our lives, and we lose sight of the underlying purpose behind all these tasks, which is to prepare our children to go into the world and make disciples for our Lord."

"Giving our children the gift of inspiration - helping them understand their spiritual purpose, which is to glorify God and to make him known - is one of the most crucial tasks of Christian parenting."

"Each of our children has been given a specific personality and a particular set of circumstances that will give shape to God's purpose for his or her life. It is our privilege and responsibility as parents to help our children understand their particular fit in God's plan."

"As mothers, we have the hearts and the trust of our children from the earliest moments of their lives, and they need us for so many reasons... Deep in their hearts, however, they also long for a special place to belong, a place to feel their worth, and they need us to help them find it... They were designed to be [God's] hand, His voice, His heart and mind through the various kinds of work they undertake in His world."

"I wonder how God will use you in the world?"
As I read this section, my thoughts applied it not only to my children, but also to me. For example, the following question is just as important for me, a 34 year old sahm as it is a teenage boy considering his future vocation. "With all the skills, background, and personality the Lord has given me, how can I best serve him and tell others about his kingdom? What job should I pursue so that I may serve him best in all that I do?"

While I don't think God has a job outside my home lined up for me, He has certainly surprised me with a ministry via this blog. You just never know what God will call you to do next. For me it's blogging. For you it may be serving a meal at a shelter for abused women. Each has a place in ministry for Jesus.

I think that's Sally's point in this section. When we love Jesus with all our hearts we will be aware of His constant presence and on the lookout for ways to tell and show Him to other people.

As moms it's our joy to cultivate that love and awareness in our children as we inspire them to seek ways to use their God-given talents.

I'll leave you this week with an assignment from the study guide. I have not yet done these things, partly because my children are still young and just beginning to develop their personalities, but I hope to.
  1. For each child in your household, write out a list of characteristics (personality traits, skills, interests, etc.) that you believe God can use for his purposes.
  2. Referring to the lists you just made, write a letter to each child expressing what you see in him or her and affirming that God has a special place for that child in his kingdom purposes. Whether you share the letter with your child now or save it for a future time depends on your circumstances. Don't forget to commit this list to the Lord in prayer and specifically ask him for help in inspiring that child to use his or her gifts to help bring about God's kingdom.
I would love to hear how you creatively use this idea. Maybe a cross-stitch or collage instead of a letter?

As always, feel free to share your thoughts on The Gift of Inspiration in the comments or on your blog and leave the link in the comments.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Life Defined by Contentment - Guest Post Series

I am excited to introduce to you the author of today's "Living as a Single Christian Woman" guest post, Alicia from Experiencing Each Moment.

Alicia is the first person I met at college 15+ years ago! That means I've known her longer than my husband (who I DON'T remember meeting!). My favorite memory from those days has to be the Anne video marathon we held one weekend.


I have to admit singlehood feels like a lifetime ago (as does life before motherhood), but since I didn’t marry until I was 27 I can definitely remember feeling oh-so-single and that I would possibly always be single.

If I could go back 10 years and talk to my single self, before I had even met my husband I would say, “Alicia, just rest. Enjoy your Savior. Practice being content in Him.” Being content is much easier to say than do. It’s a character trait that takes time to build. None of us want to be made to learn it, but none of us are exempt no matter what our marital status is.

Obstacles to contentment:
  • Everyone we know has what we hope for.
  • Our unwillingness to accept God’s will for us.
  • We have a limited, temporal view of life.
Reasons to strive or “train” our minds and hearts for contentment:
  • Singlehood is not the only trial we will face. I started to believe that singlehood was my “thorn”. What a lie! I have had ten times the pain since I’ve been married than my 9 years as an unmarried adult . If we don’t practice contentment then we will begin to believe a wrong theology that God protects us from suffering. God gets to use His one “trial card”, and then it’s free sailing. Trials happen over and over! And if you need evidence from the Bible, just look at Joseph, Job, or Mary. They experienced very difficult things, and yet there was a harder event waiting for them around the corner.
  • Someone is always going to have it better than you. It’s just true. Someone will always be prettier, have more money, more caring friends, a more attentive husband, and better behaved children. So the question is not what is your life compared to someone else’s, the question is what is your life like? Where is your heart? If it was just you and God sitting down to talk (because that’s truly what it is), what would you have to talk about? He’s not going to be asking about everyone else.
  • Someone is always going to have it worse than you. Isn’t it annoying when someone complains about getting a B on a test when you scored a C? I can recognize the fact that at 27 I married after most of my friends, but not all of them. I have some friends who married in their 30’s and one dear friend who is still single. (Of course she wouldn’t consider herself worse off than me because she has learned the gift of contentment and is serving her Savior faithfully.) But do you really want to be THAT person that complains so much about your own personal experience that you can’t realize someone could be standing around who has it worse?
As a Navy wife, I am a single mom about 40% of the time. Some have it better, some have it worse. None of that matters-this is God’s plan for me, and I can experience Him completely within it.

What contentment produces in us:
  • Intimacy with God. His word says he is near to the brokenhearted. Discontentment keeps us agitated, which prevents us from admitting that we are heartbroken. It’s okay to hurt, and when we express our heart wishes to our Savior, we grow closer to him.
  • Lack of regret. I’m looking back at my single days and the only parts of them I regret are when I didn’t thoroughly enjoy God’s presence in my life. I had a youth minister tell me once after a breakup, “Alicia, just lose yourself in the center of God’s will.” I really didn’t completely understand that at the time, but now I see when I am consumed by God (lost in Him) I don’t even think about anything else.
  • Recognition of our special purpose on this earth. Our path is completely unique from another person’s. The fact that quite a few people get married right out of college makes it feel like we are the exception to the norm, but we are experiencing exactly what God’s plan was for us before we were conceived. I don’t want someone else’s plan!
"I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills {his purpose} for me." Psalms 57:2
"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails." Proverbs 19:21

May contentment define your life!
Alicia is a Navy wife and SAHM to Timothy, 5, and Samantha, 3. She blogs about Experiencing Each Moment with two special needs children and any books they will give her a chance to read!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Mile Markers on the Family Life Road Map

Maps have always fascinated me. As a kid I loved to trace our progress on a map when we traveled across Arkansas to visit my grandparents. I would watch the mile markers and interstate exit signs and figure out where we were on the map.

Eventually I became so familiar with the roads and signs I didn't need a map. I knew how much longer until the gas station with the "good" restroom. I could tell my little brother when the "Cow Rock" was coming up. And I knew which turn would take us to my maternal grandparent's house and which would take us to my paternal grandparent's house.

I realized the other day that, just like roads, families have maps and mile markers. Only family mile markers are called "milestones" and maps are called "child development books".

When William was born I read several of those child development books. I highlighted. I underlined. I dog-eared the corners. As a first-time mom I needed all the help I could get on this new leg of my journey! Those books told me what to expect for each milestone and approximately when to expect them. Kind of like a map.

It's funny how with each child I've referred to those books less and less. Just like the trips to my grandparents house, I've become familiar with the milestones and what lies ahead.

I've been down Sleep, Eat, Wake Lane before. I adore the view from Sleeping Through the Night Avenue! And the Beware of Teething signs no longer scare me.

This past week my family reached not one but TWO milestones. William experienced his first loose tooth and and visit from the Tooth Fairy. At the same time, Samuel's first tooth erupted through his gums.

Both of these events have been exciting for my family. But I confess they leave me feeling a little bittersweet.

How is it that my baby, the one I poured over the child development books to learn what to do about his first tooth, lost that same first tooth? Didn't it just come in yesterday?!

This new milestone clearly shows that we have made another turn on the family life map. We are entering a new phase. One with big kids who don't have baby teeth.

It feels like these (nearly) six years with William have flown by and that makes me hold Sam a little tighter. Because I know when I blink my eyes he will be a cheeky five-year-old wiggling that precious first baby tooth and wondering if it will hurt when it comes out.

When that time comes I'll be prepared for it. I will have walked by mile marker Lost First Tooth three times. I can't help wondering if I'll feel the same bittersweet emotions then as I do now.

Sigh... if you'll excuse me I think I need to go cuddle a baby. And maybe pour over an Arkansas road map for old times sake.

Photo of Arkansas Map by jocelyn postcrossing.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Ground Turkey versus Ground Beef

Confession time: I don't have a menu planned for this week. I know I should but I haven't put the time and effort into it.

In lieu of my weekly menu I want to tell you about a grocery purchase I made last week.

I was completely out of ground beef. Usually I can buy the 80/20 ground beef for $2.29 or less at my favorite grocery store - Price Rite. However, last week they wanted over $3.00 a pound. $3.00 a pound! For hamburger meat!!! I don't pay that for steak!

As I started to walk away from the meat case empty handed I noticed packages of ground turkey. For $1.50 a pound. $1.50! When is ground turkey cheaper than ground beef?! Naturally I came home with 3 packages.

Normally, I don't buy ground turkey. Partly because of the cost but mainly because I don't care for the taste. But last week I decided with enough seasonings my taste buds wouldn't know the difference but my wallet sure would!

That's my exciting shopping story for the week. Do you have any stories of great deals to share? What about recipes using ground turkey? Or are you a ground beef person like myself?

Friday, March 13, 2009

SMB Book Club: Ministry of Motherhood - Grace

Edited March 14. Thank you for extending me grace to post my thoughts late.

This week the SMB Book Club reading The Ministry of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson focused on Part One: The Gift of Grace.

Section One is divided into 4 chapters:
Out of the Boat - a Model for Grace
The Grace of Time Together
The Grace of Encouraging Words
The Grace of Forgiveness in Action

What is grace? Sally describes grace this way:
"[Grace is] the kind of undeserved but freely given love and favor that comes from God. We model grace by extending it to our children but also by insisting that they learn to extend it to others. Practically speaking, the gift of grace is all about relationships. It's the desire and ability to relate personally and lovingly to God and people."
Section One really gave me food for thought. It shone a light on the lack of grace in my home. I learned long ago that the mom sets the atmosphere of a home so if my home has a lack it's because I have a lack. That means I need to do some work on me.

To begin with I need to work on receiving grace from God.

It's hard for me to receive anything from Him when I'm not spending time with Him. I confess this is an area I am REALLY struggling with right now. I have so many tasks to do each day that a quiet time with God frequently gets pushed aside. And yet, that's what I need the most. Why do I do that?

Next I need to work on being available to my family.

Don't misunderstand, I am in my home 24/7. My children are always with me. But I'm not always available to them. My body is here but my mind is miles away, specifically on the World Wide Web. Then when they demand my full attention I become frustrated and annoyed.

I remember feeling frustrated growing up when I talked to my mom and she only half-listened. I hated it! But I find myself doing the same thing.

Jesus didn't half-listened to the disciples. He gave them all of himself at that moment. I need to work on doing the same thing.

I also need to work on speaking encouraging and affirming words to my family.

I spend so much of my day (re)instructing and (re)training my children that my words and tone are frequently sharp and demanding. If I, a grown woman, need gentle and encouraging words then it stands to reason my small children do, too.

Now that you know what I need to work on let me move into the practical of what I'm going to do.
  • I am committing to have a quiet time with Jesus every day. For me the best time is during afternoon naps. I (usually) have one whole hour of quiet in my home. During that time I will pray, read my Bible and meditate on scriptures.
  • I am committing to setting boundaries on my computer time. I won't turn my computer on until after I've had my quiet time. AND I will be in bed by 11 PM each night. That means some computer related activities are not going to get done.
  • I am committing to slowing down, using a gentle tone, and speaking affirming words to my children.
It is my hope that by doing these three things the atmosphere and relationships of my home will be filled with grace.

Do you struggle with some of these issues also? How do you maintain grace in your home and teach your children to exhibit grace?

Feel free to post your answers on your own blog and leave the link in the comments. Or just tell us your thoughts about The Gift of Grace in the comments.

I'll close with this Amazing Grace video by Il Divo.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Little Red Wagon Filled with Cuteness

Joel and the kids took advantage of the sunshine last weekend to get in some wagon rides. I couldn't let such a great photo op go by!!

LOVE these goofballs!
Ben took a turn pulling the wagon.
I don't remember why he's pouting.

For more fun pictures and some photography ideas visit this 5 Minutes for Photography post.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Falling in Love Takes Work - Guest Post Series

I am excited to introduce to you the author of today's "Living as a Single Christian Woman" guest post, Michelle from Being Single.

Michelle and I have been friends since college and have plenty of blackmail information on each other. But we won't speak of those things.

Well, maybe just one! She once dared me and another friend to throw her in a lake (it was March or April!!). You can guess what happened. Ah... fun times!! :)


Work and effort. Those two words make me tired just saying them. In this era of fast food and technology we want things our way right away. This selfishness has found its way into our relationships as well.

Single adults and married adults alike have bought into a false idea that the best things are those which we don’t have to work for. Take a look at commercials. Easy is what sells. Even commercials for dating websites make you believe that it’s easy to find the love of your life when you let them do the work for you.

I think everyone at some point or another buys into this idea because we want to coast for a while. We want God to be a genie in a bottle and snap his fingers and voila, life is grand.

I can share this with you because I realized recently that I bought into it.

I had a date a couple of weekends ago. I won’t mention how long it has been since I had one of those (If anyone I know, specifically Lendy, is reading this-Shhh.) Suffice it to say, it has been a very long time.

I didn’t know what to expect. It turned out to be a pleasant afternoon with lunch, talking, walking and a movie. I had a good time, but I was disappointed as well. Some part of me had been hoping for love at first sight with everything falling into place and a happily ever after story to tell. What I got was a really nice guy that I’m going to have to invest time in to determine if he might be a happily ever after story.

I felt frustrated because I realized that I honestly didn’t want to work on a relationship right now. I want to eat, sleep, go to work and be in love; not eat, sleep, go to work and find time to work on another relationship.

The truth is that relationships are rarely easy. Even those that are easier, require effort to maintain and grow. However, the end result, more often than not, is much better than if things were easy. I have seen the fruit of it time and again in my relationships and in watching the relationships of my friends.

Work doesn’t have to be a four letter word. My encouragement to you, whether you are single or married, is to take some time to review your relationships. Ask God to help you see clearly the areas that you need to work on.
When not working on her relationships, Michelle reads books, plays Nertz and talks to her nephews on the phone.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Beatrix Potter - Children's Classics Carnival

This month's Children's Classics topic at 5 Minutes for Books is Beatrix Potter.

Last year I brought home several books by Miss Potter and thoroughly enjoyed reading them with my children. I found the animal characters engaging and the illustrations appealing to my children's imaginations. My favorite part of her stories is that naughty behavior isn't condoned!

This year I hope to make Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny and Squirrel Nutkin permanent residents of our home. But, until then, we will periodically check them out from the library.

Unfortunately, I didn't make it to the library in time for this challenge. So I did what any good mom of the 21st Century does - I googled Beatrix Potter.

In my search I found two interesting websites I thought I would share with you:
  • The World of Peter Rabbit - the official site for Peter and his friends. There are children's games to play, info on the author, and downloadable coloring pages.
  • YouTube - I'm not embedding a video because there are too many to choose from! Go, search and enjoy!!
Which versions of the Beatrix Potter books and DVDs do you recommend I purchase? Should I buy a compilation, individual books or a set?

If you are interested in reading more about Beatrix Potter and her books be sure to check out the Children's Classics carnival at 5 Minutes for Books.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Paint Pens Solve the Shoe Problem

These two characters are only 20 months apart.

Depending on the shoe they can wear the same size.

How do we quickly tell who the shoe belongs to?

Assign each boy a color and mark the bottom of the shoes with a paint pen.

Friday, March 6, 2009

SMB Book Club: Ministry of Motherhood, Intro

Welcome to Stephanie's Mommy Brain Book Club!

For the next 6 weeks we will be discussing The Ministry of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson each Friday.

I hope you will join me in reading the book but even if you haven't read it, feel free to add your thoughts to the comments.

This week we are discussing Introduction: Discovering the Ministry of Motherhood.

Have you ever thought of your role as mom as being a ministry? It's kind of a different view of ourselves and what we do, isn't it?

After all, seminaries don't give out degrees for the Motherhood Ministry. Preaching? Yes. Music? Yes. Missions? You betcha! Mothering? Huh?

IS what we do "ministry?"

Answers.com defines ministry as:
1. The act of serving; ministration.
2. One that serves as a means; an instrumentality.
I think that accurately describes us moms! Cooking supper is definitely an act of serving. And as Christian moms teaching our children the Lord's Prayer makes us an instrument of God.

Sally Clarkson believes being a mom is a ministry. Here are a few quotes from her that really struck me:
Effective spiritual, emotional, and social training in the lives of my children would have to be both intentional and planned.
In other words, if I want my Ministry of Motherhood to be successful, I can't wing it. Sadly, I've been winging it for a while and the atmosphere of my home shows it! Sharp words, rough hands and scowling faces are all too frequent around here.
Keeping the GIFTS idea in mind as I went about my daily tasks helped me a lot.
For those without books, GIFTS is an acronym for: Grace, Inspiration, Faith, Training, and Service. It's the plan Sally developed for ministering to her children. Each section of the book discusses one of these gifts so I'll wait to talk about them in detail.

I will say that having a plan of action will help keep me on track when my emotions (and hormones!) start making me a little crazy. I need to write and use that plan to help me look for teaching opportunities and keep me from reacting instead of responding.
Jesus was the model I was looking for.

A big part of his ministry, after all, was teaching his disciples - just as I ... was trying to teach my children. He ministered to them, and he prepared them for ministry. He taught them with his words, and he taught them with his actions. Jesus gave his disciples ... the very gifts Clay and I wanted to give our children.
He's really our model for everything, isn't he? You don't read about Jesus getting angry with his disciples. Frustrated? Yes. But not angry. And he certainly doesn't yell at them because of their sin. {guilty hand raised here!}

I think we all know the areas that we're failing in. As moms were pretty good at focusing on those areas and piling up the guilt.

Instead of doing that, this week let's focus on turning our failures into successes:
  • Watch the Passion video to gain inspiration from Jesus.
  • Pray and think about how he modeled Grace to the disciples.
  • Finally, think and pray about actions you can take to give Grace to your children; specifically in the areas of Time Together, Encouraging Words, and Forgiveness in Action.
You know, it really is too bad seminaries don't give out degrees for motherhood. It would be nice to have a something to hang on the wall next to my "Mother of the Year" award. :)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

In Christ Alone

Cowboy Theme for Ben's 4th Birthday Party

For his birthday party this year Ben wanted a cowboy theme.

I knew from last year that The Cowboy's Handbook: How to Become a Hero of the Wild West by Tod Cody contained a lot of fun information and ideas so I brought it home from the library for inspiration.

After reading The Cowboy's Handbook, we settled on three ideas for our party.

1. Cowboys wore chaps.

Our Cowboys and Cowgirls wearing their hats and chaps.

To make the chaps, I bought heavy Naugahyde fabric and cut out the shape of chaps. We cut slits down the sides and across the top. Then we used strips of fabric to tie the legs together and also make belts.

2. Cowboys carried guns and played horse shoes.

I couldn't find indoor horse shoes so we settled for ring toss.

3. Cowboys ate beans (chili) with cornbread (and birthday cake).

Ben enjoyed the "boot" on his cake.

Everyone had fun wearing their chaps, cowboy hats and badges. We also shot a suction cup dart gun at a target and listened to cowboy music Joel found online.

Even the daddys got in on the action!

Ben's already talking about the theme for his 5th birthday. He loves to build so maybe a Lego party would be a good idea. Good thing I've got a year to think about it!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Living as a Single Christian Woman - Guest Post by Ann

For the next 9 weeks I have asked three friends to write guest posts each Wednesday. When considering a topic for them to write about this month "Living as a Single Christian Woman" came to mind. I am excited to see what God has laid on their hearts. For the first week, please join me in welcoming Ann to Stephanie's Mommy Brain!

As a pre-teen, I began praying God would protect me for my future husband and him for me.

I also daydreamed. Not about finding a boyfriend, but about the man I would marry one day and the children we would raise. I couldn’t wait to meet him!

Then, as I prepared to go to college I knew for sure that the man of my dreams was waiting for me there. And I expected my wedding to follow shortly on the heels of graduation. I planned for it. I depended on it. But it was not to be.

I remember my tears, my frustration, my loneliness, and my discouragement.

I spent four years in college without so much as a date. I remember sitting on the floor of the religion department during my senior year crying tears of frustration while two male friends I admired, respected, and trusted comforted me and tried to encourage me as I asked them what was wrong with me. Why did no one want me?

Even then, though, I knew the answer.

I knew God was answering my own prayers. He was protecting me. And so I graduated from college with no husband in sight.

Singleness is rarely something that we choose for ourselves. For many women, it lasts much longer than it did for me. Whether long or short, it’s still hard.

It’s easy for me to look back now and see how God has used my time of singleness to give me credibility to minister to many of the women He has placed in my path – women who need to know what it takes to become a godly woman and, possibly at some point, a godly wife.

If you are a young woman burdened by the loneliness of singleness or even the pressure of a dating relationship, I encourage you to do several things.

First, Pray.

* Pray for protection from wrong decisions.
* Pray for protection from the wrong spouse.
* Pray for that spouse to become the man God wants him to be, the perfect man for you!
* Pray for God’s timing and peace in the meantime, despite the discouragement.
* Pray for the willingness to be joyful in singleness, even if it is permanent. I can’t attest to the experience of remaining single permanently, but I can attest to the joy of surrendering to that possibility and being at peace with it.

Secondly, learn.

* Learn who God has created you to be.
* Learn what He expects from a godly woman.
* Learn what He expects a godly wife to be.
* Learn what your passions are, even if there is no outlet for them right now.

Finally, live!

* Don't submit to feeling incomplete or inadequate.
* Submit to God. He is equipping you for the here and now.
* Be available for God to use you. Usefulness doesn't depend on a spouse or a marriage. Even if the fullness of your calling may not come until marriage, He can use you now.

God prepared me for marriage through my years of singleness.

He taught me lessons I could never have learned had I been in a relationship, even in a relationship with this wonderful man I call my husband. He gave me passions long before He gave me a husband, and because I was beginning to grow those passions on my own before my marriage, I’ve been able to accept my husband’s encouragement in them in our marriage.

I can honestly say right now that I don’t regret one day of singleness.

God’s timing was not mine, but it was truly perfect. I can still feel the pain of those difficult years, but I am proud of that time and of all I learned from it. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, not even for the privilege of being able to date my husband through my college years.

God answered my youthful prayers for protection and for my marriage, and I am so thankful.
When not writing or blogging, Ann spends her time homeschooling and mothering her 3 children and supporting her husband in his role as pastor. You can read more posts by Ann at Ann's Thoughts.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Praise Baby, Profitable Mommy Blogging, and Guest Posts.

I'm very excited to announce my post is up at Praise Baby!

You can read about how my children are participating in corporate worship. I'd love to hear about songs your children have connected with or how your children participate in corporate worship.

Also, don't forget you can read what I'm learning at Profitable Mommy Blogging.

Meanwhile, here at Stephanie's Mommy Brain, three incredible women (Ann, Michelle, and Alicia) have graciously accepted my invitation to write guest posts on Wednesdays. I can't wait for you to meet them!!

Book Review: Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez

In January I joined Simple Mom's book club and read Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez.

I consider our finances to be in pretty good shape but I'm always up for new ideas and motivation to keep more of OUR money in OUR pockets.

I confess I mostly skimmed this book. I found it heavy on theory and light on practical which is not my preference for personal finance books. But, even with all the "theory," I managed to glean a couple of ideas.

1. Financial independence is possible for everyone. Here's how:
  • Work hard.
  • Have a plan.
  • Spend less than you make.
  • Save. Save. Save.
  • Invest wisely.
2. When I spend our money I'm trading Joel's hard work and time away from us for goods and services.

That one really made me think. Which would I rather have - eat out once a week or Joel home an extra hour a week? When you put it that way frequent trips to On the Border seem like such a waste!

I came away from this book with a renewed focus on reducing our expenses and increasing our income so one day we CAN live financially independent.

If you have read other financial books and are looking for renewed inspiration then I recommend Your Money or Your Life.

But, if you are fairly new to the concepts of personal finance, I suggest you start with Dave Ramsey's The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness. His approach is practical and easy to understand. We're big Dave fans at my house!

Did you join me in reading Your Money or Your Life? If so, what did you think about it?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Weekly Menu Plan, 03.01 - 03.07.09

I'm trying to get back on the Menu Planning Wagon this week.

Well, here's what I have in the freezer:
  • 6 meals worth of raw chicken
  • 3 meals worth of cooked chicken
  • 1 meal worth of cooked ground beef
  • 1 meal worth of bite-size raw steak
  • 1 meal worth of raw beef roast
  • pepperoni
  • sausage
Now for this week's plan:
I have cooked chicken in the freezer because I bought 3 giant packages a couple of weeks ago for less than $2 a pound. Then I cooked all of it, shredded some, left some whole and packed it in freezer bags in meal sized portions.

The idea came from my friend, Meredith at Life at 7000 Feet. Go see what else she has to say about menu planning!
Don't forget to stop by Profitable Mommy Blogging and see what I'm learning over there. Feel free to leave an encouraging comment. {wink.wink}
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...