Thursday, April 30, 2009

I'm a Hearts at Home Blogger.

Have you ever felt alone as a mom? Lost in your chosen field of mothering?

There is an organization that was created to encourage, educate and equip women in the profession of motherhood. Hearts at Home helps thousands of moms love their lives through their many resources including conferences, website, and books.

Recently I partnered up with this organization as a blogger. Over time I hope to share with you the many resources this ministry has to offer (old ones and new). To learn more about the Hearts at Home Blogging team go here.

In the meantime I would like to encourage you to explore their website and blog for an immediate dose of mothering encouragement.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

LIVE it Up!! Guest Post Series.

Today we finish our series "Living as a Single Christian Woman," with a final guest post by Alicia from Experiencing Each Moment.

Our last topic is about LIFE:

Love-what a great chance you get to love! By love, I mean the sacrificial choice to put someone else before yourself.
  • Maybe it’s being gentle to that co-worker that talks bad about you for no reason.
  • Maybe it’s committing to 1 Sunday a month in your church preschool Sunday School class.
  • Maybe it’s listening to your friend talk about the guy they’re excited about when you haven’t had a prospect in months.
Believe it or not, the day will come when you won’t feel like loving your husband. You’ll have to CHOOSE to, but it will come much easier if it’s already part of your life.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 1 John 3:16

Integrity-this one is simple. Behave like everyone can see you because the only one who matters can. Make pleasing Him your only concern.

As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. 1 Peter 4:2

Venture (or adventure!)-In my single days, I traveled to 10 different countries. Since I’ve been married, I’ve been to 2, and since I’ve had kids? ZERO! And for 3 years as a single person I got paid to live there! Traveling may not be your idea of an adventure, but there has to be something that thrills you. Now’s the time to do it!

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." Romans 8:15

Eternity-Live life in light of eternity. You may actually have to spend some time each day (even 5 minutes) of contemplating what eternity is. We often think of eternity as the end cap to our life. Like it’s a book end! But eternity IS our home, IS our life, IS God’s plan for us. If you just think about it for a while, it really makes today’s issues blend in the background. Oh, those issues still exist, but they are overshadowed by the Glory of what’s to come!

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

My husband is in the Navy, and is currently deployed (has been during this whole series), and just yesterday I found out that his return date, which we kind of knew, has been scrapped. We now know nothing about the rest of his schedule. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but it’s hard on me. And it’s going to break my son’s heart. But when my eyes are fixed on eternity I find it easier to love, easier to have integrity, and easier to accept this adventure.

Christian singles, LIVE it up!!!

Monday, April 27, 2009

I'm sorry... so sorry.

Hi, my name is Stephanie {me waving}.

I used to blog here before I lost my mind and over-commited myself to do a million projects, AND take care of my kids, AND homeschool a kindergartener, AND nurse an infant, AND still find time to sleep.

{Taking deep breath!}

Those other commitments are done. I learned a lot and now I'm ready to get back to my usual posts of menus, home management tips, books, and family happenings!

To everyone who tried to join me in reading The Ministry of Motherhood, I humbly apologize for completely dropping the ball!!! I have finished reading the book and will post a wrap-up/ review of the whole book next week. PLEASE leave a comment with links to any posts you've written about the book!!!

I would say the post will go up this Friday BUT Thursday night we will be attending a minor league baseball game (it was rained out last week) and Friday morning we are attending the Ringling Bros. Circus!!

My kids have never been to the Circus before AND Joel's taking the whole day off work so we can go in the morning. I'm hoping fewer people will be there for a morning performance than they would for an evening one. We're also going early so we can attend "Clown College." :) Here's hoping none of my kids are scared of clowns!!!!

Anyway. Thanks for sticking around and not giving up on Stephanie's Mommy Brain.

Be sure to come back Wednesday to read the final post in our Single Christian Woman series. I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have! Aren't those 3 women incredible? I'd love to sit down with all of them for a cup of tea. It's too bad we're all spread across the continent!

Well, if you'll excuse me, I need to go feed the baby and get some sleep.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Life In All Its Fullness - Guest Post Series

The author of today's "Living as a Single Christian Woman" guest post is Michelle from Being Single.

A thief comes to steal and kill and destroy, but I came to give life—life in all its fullness. John 10:10 (NCV)

This has long been a favorite verse of mine. Most translations use abundant life which is great. I discovered this one today and love it. It speaks of the life we have to look forward to, but I think it also speaks of the life we live now in Christ.

It doesn’t say anything about life beginning when you get married, when you’ve been a church member for five years or when you have read the Bible through for the first time. In Christ we can have life in all its fullness.

I’ve known women who live their lives waiting to be married. I don’t discount the desire to be married, or even preparation. However, when you live life waiting to be married, you miss out on the life that God has for you NOW. You also end up putting that desire before God which is exactly what the thief would like to see happen.

One of the best pieces of advice I was given as a young single was from Margaret Becker. Maggie B, as she is known to fans, is a Christian singer/song writer and speaker. I had the privilege of hearing her speak to a group of young single women one time. She told us not to wait till we were married to do things we wanted to do in life like buy a house etc. Maggie B wanted to have children but she was not married. As she wrestled with God over it, she found that he provided children through her work with World Vision.

Living life rather than waiting is good advice wherever you may be in life. Do you have a desire to share the Gospel? You don't have to be a missionary or go overseas to do so. Do you have a heart for ministry? You don't have to wait until a certain age or even be a Seminary graduate to minister to people.
God created each of us with unique passions and abilities and even life histories that work to accomplish His purpose for our lives. If God puts a desire in your heart to do something, pay attention. He will either provide opportunities or means to do that, or He may already have put things into place.

There is certainly a time for waiting. However, even in times of waiting, when we live our lives in Christ, we can live it to the full. So what are you waiting for?

Live life in all its fullness. Live it in Christ.
Michelle is living life in all its fullness singing karaoke, reading books, playing Nertz and talking to her nephews on the phone.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dive In! - 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 felt that you were up against a wall in regards to living out your true heart’s passion? If you could just get past that one last hurdle all would be fine! Oh, you’d really feel alive then! If only…

That thought especially plagues single women. I know. I was one! I had such a strong passion to minister to women. But, I also knew I was going to be a pastor’s wife. So, naturally, I just “knew” that when I got married, I’d be able to fulfill that passion to minister to women. After all, as a pastor’s wife I’d have the credibility I felt I lacked as a single woman. But it’s hard to be a pastor’s wife without being married to a pastor. So, the passion would just have to wait.

Or would it?

When I was twelve years old, I worked through a witness training program under the training of a young woman in her mid-twenties. In those sessions together, there were so many times when she would confide in me – a twelve year old – and discuss her life situation with me as if we were equals. She said I encouraged her greatly.

When I was sixteen I went on a tourist trip to Egypt with three single short-term missionaries from Jordan and Israel (my parents served on the mission field in Jordan), two female and one male. The two women spoke with me as if I were a fellow adult. They respected what I had to say to them and told me that I encouraged and strengthened them.

When I was a college freshman I was asked to share a devotional (it was emphasized that this was not to be my testimony) at a ladies’ retreat. There were over 100 women there, the majority of them silver-haired. Something this terrified nineteen-year-old shared ministered to the hearts of dozens of those women.

When I was a college senior I was invited to a women’s event at a church in my home town. I was the youngest woman – and the only single woman – in attendance. I was also the key speaker!

In all of these situations, and so many more, I was single, and I was ministering. Sometimes formally, and other times informally, but always ministering. With credibility.

I’m married now, and have been for ten years. And, yes, I’m a pastor’s wife, but only for the last four of those ten years. Yet somehow God has allowed me to minister to women in ways that I never could have fathomed or arranged even if I had been a pastor’s wife the entire time!

If you feel as if you’re waiting for circumstances to allow your usefulness, keep a few things in mind:
  1. The only thing that limits your usefulness to God is your own unwillingness. His ability is sufficient for any circumstance when you choose to rely on Him. A willing vessel is a phenomenal tool in the hands of our Father.
  2. The world’s view of usefulness is very different from God’s. Ask Him to open your eyes – you might be surprised to see where He’s already using you! Meanwhile, be willing to have your horizons broadened as you learn to be useful outside of that proverbial box.
  3. There will be times when, no matter how you look at it, you will still FEEL totally useless. Realize first of all that those times will come even after you are married and your hurdles have supposedly been jumped. That’s just life. Realize secondly that you are always being taught. And learning is just as much a part of living as doing!
So, go on, dive in! Live! And one day you’ll look back and see absolutely amazing things you never dreamed possible. And God will have done them all regardless of the circumstances!
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, April 14, 2009

Henry and Ribsy - A Must Read for Boys!

I enjoy participating in Children's Classics at 5 Minutes for Books every month but this month's dog theme stumped me.

I wanted to read this month's book with William, who has dived into chapter books with a voracious appetite, but I couldn't think of a dog book where the dog doesn't die! And with an almost 6 year old beginner reader (not to mention a nursing and hormonal momma!), we did NOT need to read Old Yeller or Where the Red Fern Grows!! The last thing we want in this house right now is a book where the dog dies!!

So I did what any smart momma would do - I asked the children's librarian for a book recommendation. You know what? She was stumped, too!!! So she did what any smart librarian would do, she popped online and searched for dog books (I should have asked if she Twittered it but I thought of it too late).

After a few minutes online she recommended Henry and Ribsy by Beverly Cleary. Of course! How could I have forgotten about Beverly Cleary?!

Will loved Henry and Ribsy; and so did I. As the momma of 3 boys, I can attest that Mrs. Cleary perfectly captures the adventurous spirit of a young boy and his love for his dog.

In each chapter Henry and Ribsy get into a new delima. Like when Ribsy steals the policeman's lunch out of his open police car. Or when Ribsy brings down the wrath of the whole PTA for scarring poor Ramona (who wasn't scarred at all). And then Ribsy causes the neighbor to lose his salmon while fishing. Trouble just seems to find Ribsy and Henry through no fault of their own!

Because of Henry and Ribsy William is convinced that he needs to go salmon fishing and catch a Chanook of his own. He has also practiced "double spitting" though the gaps left by his missing teeth - just like Henry. And he's all for getting a dog! (um, NO.)

We quickly finished Henry and Ribsy and, just as quickly, read Ribsy. which was followed by Henry Huggins. Soon we will add Henry and the Paper Route, Henry and Beezus and Henry and the Clubhouse to our list of "Read It." In fact, Will's birthday is in May and I'm thinking a set of Henry books is in his future!

These books are a delight for moms and boys to read together. I'm sure girls would also enjoy the stories though I think boys will relate to Henry more. I highly recommend any book containing Henry and Ribsy.

And the best part? No dog dies!!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Yanni Voices CD Review

I've heard a lot of talk recently around the Mommy Blogosphere about the Yanni Voices CD, so when I had an opportunity from the One2One Network to review a copy I jumped on it.

I received Yanni Voices (what you see on the right) which contains a CD with 17 songs and a Bonus DVD.

I enjoyed the music included on Yanni Voices but I found it a little choppy for focused listening as each song featured one of the four different vocalists and his/her individual style. The transition from a classical style song (think Josh Groban) to a Bluesie-Jazz type song was a little hard for me to follow.

Having said that, I do think this is a great CD. If you are looking for background music to play during a party or a "mix tape" type CD for your car then Yanni Voices is for you!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Jesus on Learning - Guest Post Series

Today I am excited to continue our series "Living as a Single Christian Woman" with a guest post by Alicia from Experiencing Each Moment.

Have you been reading all the posts in this series? The thoughts by Ann and Michelle on the learning process of a Christian, single woman are great, so go back and read them if you haven’t.

Webster defines the word “learn” as "to gain knowledge or understanding of or skill in by study, instruction, or experience." Let’s read what Christ says about learning:

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

Learn beside me.

A yoke was a wooden bar or frame used to guide two oxen standing side by side plowing the field. What a picture! Christ isn’t going to make us try to keep up with him or walk behind us scolding our mistakes.

Our learning process is side by side. Remember driver’s education? It was so exciting to be behind the steering wheel, but it was also comforting to know the instructor was right beside me with the ability to control the car.

Learn from me.

Think for a second who your favorite teacher or college professor was, or perhaps a Christian author or preacher that you enjoy. Imagine if you could sit under their teaching any time night or day. They wouldn’t charge you, they wouldn’t act bothered by you…they would just let you come and soak up their knowledge. Well, in this passage, the Creator of the Universe says that you can “learn from me”. Wow!

Learn because of me.

Why should we learn from Jesus and not someone else? Scripture says because He is gentle and humble in heart! What an amazing paradox.

The One who possesses all knowledge is humble. He is not haughty or judgmental as we learn (i.e. make mistakes). Instead, He is gentle with us, knowing that as sinners we just really don’t get it sometimes! And miraculously, He is willing to be patient with us.

"The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)

That’s a God I want to know!
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!

Photo by rgordon

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Real Moms... Real Jesus Giveaway Winner

Today is the day I get to give away a copy of Real Moms... Real Jesus by Jill Savage. It's also the day that my review copy arrived in the mail! How's that for coincidences?!

After flipping through the book for a few minutes, I'm even more excited about it than I was when I hosted Jill on her book tour last week! I've put it in my growing pile of review books and will definitely be writing more about it next month!

So, without further ado, I have used to impartially choose a winner.

And the winner is ... # 1 Amy (who doesn't have a blog).

Congratulations, Amy!! I'm sure you are going to enjoy this book.

Thanks to everyone who participated in this giveaway!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

JumpStart Preschool Classic Computer Game Winner!

Thank you to everyone who participated in the JumpStart Preschool Classic computer game giveaway! I had a lot of fun hosting it. Without further ado...

... the winner is #2 Annie (@greeeneyedwhwom)!

Congratulations, Annie! You should have received an email from me. If not, please email me your full name and shipping address by Monday to claim your prize.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

6 Things Every Christian Woman Should Know - Guest Post Series

The author of today's "Living as a Single Christian Woman" guest post is 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... our sophomore year of college we would borrow Michelle's brother's Ford Taurus and go out on the town. Once on the road we would pop this song in the CD player and jam all the way to Hot Springs. Every time I hear it in a store I feel the need to roll down a window. :)


The Minister of Education/Administration at my church sent me an email this morning with an article he saw on MSN. The title was “6 Things Every Single Person Should Know”. The article, originally from a Glamour Magazine blog is from a secular point of view, but the 6 things mentioned are good.

The first thing mentioned is learn to live with uncertainty. This certainly applies to everyone. Specifically, for singles, the point was made that “there are far worse things than not knowing your romantic future.”

What a fantastic point. Life is uncertain. Part of living out your faith as a Christian single is learning to trust God with the uncertainty. He knows your future and has plans for your future. I can’t promise that plan involves marriage. I do know that it is much easier to navigate the tension between your desire and your reality when your focus is on God…when you are willing to trust Him for whatever the future holds.

The second point was be patient. None of us likes to be patient. We are constantly bombarded with media messages that tell us precisely the opposite and that we deserve it right now.

Ecclesiastes tells us there is a time for everything. I think that includes a time to be patient. You might be surprised when you look back how God has been working even when you feel like nothing is happening. Trust me, I have seen this time and again in my life. In fact, one of my friends reminds me every time things aren’t happening on my timetable of how God has been so evident in my life.

Practice a positive attitude. I would go a step further and say practice praise. Back in 6th grade, a friend told me one day that “it’s amazing what a little praising will do.” Try it sometime. Praise God. Sing Him a song. Whether single, or married, our eyes should be set on God. When they are, there is far less time to wallow in current circumstances.

Next, realize that life is seriously beautiful. Seriously? Yes, life is beautiful, even seriously. This connects with the previous point of praising God and thanking Him for all the good things He’s given. Again, when your focus is on Him, the fact that you are lonely diminishes to the background. It may still be there, but you can know that you are not alone

Stay in the Present. This is a great rule for anyone. I had the opportunity to hear singer/songwriter Margaret Becker speak at a young singles conference several years back. One of the things she said has stayed with me. She said to live your life and do the things you are passionate about and if marriage happens along, then you can be surprised by it. Don’t wait on someone else to live life.

The final point is laugh at yourself. I wholeheartedly agree. I spent part of my life being way too serious. I still tend toward serious, but I’m learning to laugh at myself more and I am enjoying life more as a result. The most fun I had in recent years was dressing like a punk rocker and doing karaoke.

How have you lived these 6 principles lately?
When not singing karaoke, Michelle reads books, plays Nertz and talks to her nephews on the phone.
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