Your response to last week’s post was so encouraging! Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks organizing closets is a fun activity and cleaning out the garage is a stellar date night.

 

Adulting is tough.

We ride the train of responsibility so long that we forget to hop off occasionally to do some sight seeing.

Thankfully, summer ushers in less routine, less commitment, and more free time—the perfect opportunity to take a break from the usual, rushed pace of life to foster connection with our spouse.

If you’re ready to have fun with your spouse this summer, but don’t want to settle for dinner and a movie (BO-RING), I have the perfect gift just for you . . .

This is a FREE downloadable guide full of creative, mostly inexpensive dates guaranteed to get you off the train of obligation and into the world of fun with your spouse!

 

Click here to download your FREE copy of 60 Out of the Box Dates. 


During the school year, Brandon and I created an evening routine that would make even Rosita—the multitasking, singing mama pig on Sing—proud. Even though our five kids range in age from 11-months to 11 years, we manage to get them all in bed at a decent hour with enough time left in the evening for mildly coherent conversation and an episode of Big Little Lies (is now a good time to start petitioning for Season 2?).

Now, with only five days into summer vacay, it’s wheels-off parenting: later bedtimes, family movie nights, ruthless card games (where I dominate, I might add. Letting kids win is for suckers!), and family chicken fights in the pool (can you tell our family is a bit competitive?).

But summer isn’t just a time for kids to unwind. It’s a great time for couples to decompress too.

So, what is the best thing you can do with your spouse this summer?

Have fun!

As adults, sometimes we forego fun for several reasons.

  1. We are slaves to responsibility. I am a Type A, ESTJ. Just because I’m writing a blog on having fun doesn’t mean I’m the Play-doh Fun Factory always looking to entertain. I am all-business, all the time. But when responsibility overshadows relationships, I know that my need for control is becoming an idol. I have a feeling I’m not alone.

Troubles multiply for those who chase after other gods.
    I will not take part in their sacrifices of blood
    or even speak the names of their gods.

– Psalm 16:4 (NLT)

 

  1. We follow a routine. Some adults love a routine; some buck against it. Either way, the school year demands a loose predictability that we can’t shake. Work, school, homework. Rushing the kids to piano, soccer, and ballet, then back home in time for dinner at 8:30pm. Then it’s off to bed so we can wake up and do it all over again. We might schedule the occasional date night (woo hoo!) but inevitably we bounce from week to week and month to month, watching the leaves change colors while we switch out our holiday décor, but never really noticing what’s going on right in front of us.

 

 

  1. We forget how to have fun. It’s scientifically proven that as we age, we lose our ability to think creatively. Which explains why I can never figure out what to buy Brandon for Father’s Day (PM me if you have any ideas). Adults get so bogged down with the heaviness of life that they forget how to let go—even just for a few hours—and enjoy their spouse.

 Anxiety weighs down the heart,
    but a kind word cheers it up.

– Proverbs 12:25 (NIV)

  1. We don’t give ourselves permission to have fun. We become martyrs and treat life like a grim chore filled with career obligations, family expectations, financial responsibility, household tasks, and service (hello endless amounts of foster care paperwork). Sometimes we fail to pause long enough to enjoy the very life we are living. We forget that having fun is even an option in life, and if we ever do find ourselves rockin’ out at a concert, lounging on the beach, or enjoying a sunset, we feel guilty for not being responsible or productive.

 

Ideas for Having Fun

God created the changing seasons for many reasons, one of them being to change the rhythm of our lives. Summer is a great time to press the reset button on your routine and have fun with your spouse! If you need some ideas on how to have fun this summer, I got ya covered! Next week I’ll reveal 90 ways to have fun with your spouse (without the kids)! Yes, 90 WAYS!!! Plus a couple bonus items. So stay tuned!

 

 


Mother’s Day should be a day filled with celebration, joy, laughter, and thanksgiving . . . and the hubs doing all the cooking. Can I get an Amen? We should be hugging the mamas who raised us, receiving sticky kisses from the toddlers, and maybe even receiving a, “You’re pretty cool, Mom,” from the teenagers.

But for some women, Mother’s Day is the one day they’d like to fast-forward. The day they’d like to spend sequestered in their bedroom with a pint of Halo Top and reading People Magazine. It’s a day that digs up past wounds or laughs in their face because of a dream unrealized.


Mother’s Day Past

If you grew up in a dysfunctional family, Mother’s Day might bring to mind painful memories you’d rather forget. Maybe your relationship with your mom is difficult at best, making Mother’s Day awkward, exhausting, and even depressing.

I don’t know your relationship with your mom, but I do know this: you might not have had a good mom, but you can be a good mom. You might not have had a family who chased after God’s best, but you can create a family that chases after God’s best. And it can start TODAY.

You can honor your mom–even on Mother’s Day–by showing her love and respect that meets both your needs. Drawing healthy boundaries will protect and serve both of you, and the book, Boundaries is an excellent resource that teaches you how to do this.

Here are some other book recommendations to help you:


Mother’s Day Present

Many of you weep at the thought of Mother’s Day because of the empty womb you’re forced to tote around day in and day out. Many of you grieve the child you said goodbye to far too soon. I can’t pretend to understand this feeling . . . the ache in your belly and in your soul. But I do understand loss. I understand wanting something so deeply that your bones ache. I understand wanting something and God saying, “No,” or “Not now.” It seems confusing and unfair and not at all like the compassionate God we learn about on Sunday mornings.

If you are currently walking this path, instead of reaching for the Blue Bell or shutting out the world around you, I encourage you to rest in this truth: the same God who is telling you, “No,” or, “Not now,” is the same God who will one day say, “Yes.” His, “Yes,” might be exactly what you prayed for, or it might look nothing like you hoped. But eventually He will say “Yes” in some way:

  • “Yes, you can love this child.”
  • “Yes, you can mentor this child.”
  • “Yes, you can mother all the children in your class.”
  • “Yes, you can rock the babies in the hospital.”
  • “Yes, you can foster this child.”
  • “Yes, you can welcome all these neighborhood kids into your home, because their mothers are strung out and passed out and if you don’t mother them, no one will.”
  • “Yes, you can adopt.”
  • ‘Yes, you can give birth.”

Book recommendations:


Mother’s Day Future

No matter your past, no matter your present, God wants to move you into an abundant future.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord. ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Whether or not you have children, you can start celebrating a healthier, more joyful Mother’s Day by simply:

  • Praying
  • Spending time in God’s Word
  • Connecting with other believers

 

PRAY

Would you go a week without talking to your best friend or your spouse? I hope not. You probably wouldn’t have a very healthy relationship. Yet, many of us think nothing of ignoring God for a week . . . or longer. I encourage you to spend time in prayer with God, and not just talking AT time, but listening TO Him. You never know what He wants to say to you on any given day.

 

SPENDING TIME IN GOD’S WORD

Everything we need to know about ourselves and how to relate to others is found in Scripture.

  •  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)
  • Do to others as you would have them do to you. (Luke 6:31)
  • Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4)

If you want to know how to thrive this Mother’s Day, God will show you through His Word.

 

CONNECTING WITH OTHER BELIEVERS

We all need that one friend we can call to talk us down from a ledge. So when you’re at your family’s Mother’s Day brunch and your crazy Aunt Martha double dips in the salsa for the 49th time, you need to know you can text your BFF stat.

But friends who love Jesus, friends who will encourage you and hold you accountable go deeper than emergency text messages. They help you through dark days and celebrate with you in good times. Paul had Silas, Mary had Martha, Naomi had Ruth. Who is your person?

Just like being a mother, Mother’s Day can be a dichotomy: joy and pain, fun and work, laughter and tears, accomplishments and regrets. So wherever you are with Mother’s Day, know that it’s O.K. to have a good cry.

The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.

– Psalm 34:17


Over the years, many authors have claimed to know the secret to a wife’s happiness: good communication, healthy conflict resolution skills, and a rich emotional and spiritual connection. But author Jen Weaver contends that today’s Millennial generation needs more than a quick three-step checklist; they want to explore marriage on a deeper level. Which is why Weaver—a Millennial herself—approaches marriage, and a wife’s role, with a completely fresh perspective.

I met Weaver this summer at the Declare Conference and immediately admired her spunk and enthusiasm for writing and women’s ministry. This same approachable demeanor leaps off the pages of A Wife’s Secret to Happiness: Receiving, Honoring, and Celebrating God’s Role for You in Your Marriage. In her book, Weaver reveals eleven secrets that help wives find happiness in marriage. Some of those include:

  • striving for unity
  • allowing our husbands to provide
  • pursuing our dreams

 

Not only that, but Weaver challenges readers to discover their “wifestyle.”

What exactly is a “wifestyle”? Weaver explains that for every area of marriage, wives develop a pattern of behavior, or “wifestyle.”

“If we don’t live with intention, our wifestyle can become . . . unbecoming . . . as we develop unhealthy perspectives, attitudes, and habits in interactions with our husbands. Obedience to God’s instruction aligns us with his will, allowing us to receive the blessings he desires to impart in our lives.”

In other words, if we don’t live with forethought and according to God’s Word, then we probably won’t like the wife we turn out to be; we will look more like the world and less like Jesus. But if our daily decisions line up with what God teaches in the Bible, then we will become the wife God desires (not to mention the wife our husband desires and the wife we want to become).

For example:

  • When striving for unity, do you have a “duel wifestyle” or “dance wifestyle?”
  • When giving your husband space to provide for the family, do you have a “demand wifestyle” or “supply wifestyle?”
  • When pursuing your dreams, do you have an “MVP wifestyle” or “Dream Team wifestyle?”

To help readers discover their wifestyle and the secret to happiness, Weaver includes many unique and practical elements throughout the book:

  • Wifestyle testimonies
  • Quizzes to help readers identify their individual wifestyle
  • Links to downloadable printable versions of the wifestyle quizzes
  • Links to downloadable articles relating to each chapter
  • Links to downloadable worksheets
  • Links to downloadable printables
  • Reflection questions

If you want to discover ways to cultivate greater happiness in your marriage, A Wife’s Secret to Happiness offers helpful wisdom, tools, and activities. Learning your individual “wifestyle” is one component to discovering the secret to happiness, but you must also uncover areas of growth and gratitude leading you to joy, contentment, and peace. Only then will you discover a wife’s secret to happiness.

 

TO WIN A COPY OF A Wife’s Secret to Happiness:

  1. subscribe to the blog
  2. follow me on Instagram
  3. Tag 3 friends on Instagram

Winner will be announced Friday, May 12 at 1:30PM


Last June we moved into a new house with lots of potential–which is realtor speak for “fixer upper.” It needed a major overhaul to bring this 1980’s construction with 1990’s decor into the Joanna Gaines era of shiplap and barn doors (neither of which fit into our 2017 budget). But we moved into the house anyway, convinced we could make big changes with a few dollars.

Renovations started the week before Christmas (because only crazy people with five kids schedule their remodel the week of Jesus’ birthday). Ultimately we moved in with Brandon’s mom for a week, returned to a home of dust and disarray for a couple more weeks, then moved back in with my very brave, very gracious mother-in-law for an entire month. We officially moved back home two weeks ago and, while we loved our time with my MIL, I agree with Dorothy, “There’s no place like home.”

Unpacking Projects

A good friend advised me to just relax and unpack one box a day. “Um, do you not know me at all?!”

When I move into a new home, I fly into Ninja-mode, never resting until the house is as show-ready as the day I bought it. And then my children wake up and ransack the place like they’re in cohorts with that evil Elf on the Shelf.

While I unpack boxes, Brandon plows through his project list. In fact, just yesterday he had hung up new his-and-hers towel hooks in the master bathroom when I walked in, took one look, and blurted out, “Why is my hook a foot higher than your hook?

He gave me his infamous blank stare. “I don’t know. I didn’t realize it was higher. I just hung them in the same place the old hooks were.”

“Exactly. We just spent three months doing things completely different than what was already here. Why would you hang towel hooks exactly where they were?” I asked, dumbfounded.

“I don’t know. I just didn’t think I needed to ask you where to hang them.”

Unpacking Feelings

OUCH.

Clearly, what started as a simple DIY had turned into something more . . . and it was not about the hooks.

What Brandon said was, “I didn’t think I needed to ask you where to hang them.”

What I heard him say was:

  • “You’re so bossy.”
  • “You call all the shots around here.”
  • “No matter where I hang the hooks, you’ll never be happy.”

I let his comment prey on my insecurities, I negatively interpreted his words, and conflict ensued. Yes, I wanted parallel shower hooks (I crave symmetry and order among the chaos of real life). But more than that I wanted to feel understood. Noticed. Valued. I desperately wanted to know that my opinion counted.

Brandon, on the other hand, wanted to feel appreciated. He wanted to complete a project and hear a simple, “Thank you,” instead of an immediate criticism. He, too, wanted to feel understood. Noticed. Valued. He wanted to know that, amid his long list of projects, his opinion counted as well.

Isn’t that what we all want? Whether in a disagreement or a deep conversation with our spouse, to know that we matter?

Whether you’re moving, renovating, or just making your way through the daily mundane, I encourage you to think about the words you speak and the words you hear. Oftentimes, it’s not about the hooks, but a deeper core need. Take a step back and examine what you really need. Do you need to be:

  • heard
  • understood
  • valued
  • loved
  • cared for
  • appreciated
  • noticed
  • listened to

Then tell your spouse what you need. In the end you’ll realize it’s probably not about the hooks . . . or the nail.

 


For the past six months, raising our five kids (ages 11, 9, 7, 2, and 6-months) has felt like wrangling flying monkeys. Sometimes I feel like I’m not raising five kids, but two separate sets of kids: the older three and now the younger two. And it’s becoming apparent that the older three kids experienced a completely different baby and toddlerhood than the two littles: one controlled, predictable, intentional toddlerhood vs. one chaotic, wheels-off, help-me-I’m-drowning experience. It’s like the hubs and I are conducting our own little social experiment, and the results might not be desirable (some parents save for college; we save for therapy).

For instance, I nursed my older three kids and was such a fanatic about it that I pumped enough extra milk to fill a deep freeze! I BabyWised my babies so hard that even my husband was on a schedule and you better believe I homemade all their baby food for fear of letting GMO’s, gluten, and any other preservative in the house (until Girl Scout Cookie time rolled around). If oils had been around back then, you bet I would have jumped on that bandwagon, too.

The problem is, I wasn’t doing any of this out of joy or motherly instinct. I was prompted by social “rules,” peer pressure, fear, and my Type-A, over-achieving personality.

Fast-forward to today as I mother our two littles–I hardly recognize my mothering game. Since both kids came to us through foster care, formula was mandatory, which brought relief and freedom into my mother-hood. Schedule? What schedule? The only schedule we’re on is the one that gets the older kids to soccer practice on time. The littles are just along for the ride. And the only thing homemade is—nothing. Doritos, Frosted Flakes, and baby food from a jar are all bought with coupons. Can I get an Amen?!


 

And I still haven’t jumped on the oils bandwagon. It’s just One. More. Thing.

Lessons I’ve Learned

I’ll continue to ride the wave of this mothering adventure and pray I don’t fall off my board. Even though I’m raising kid #5, most days I’m still figuring things out as I go. And I am humbled and grateful that God is teaching me new lessons about parenthood every day.

One thing He has taught me lately is that I don’t need to live up to anyone else’s expectations—even my own. As long as it is healthy, safe,  and morally, legally, and ethically sound (that should be obvi but sometimes you gotta state the obvious), and works for my family, I can make my own rules when it comes to parenting.

If I want to give my babies formula for their health and my sanity, I can give them formula. If I want to put them on a schedule, I can put them on a schedule. If it’s easier to drag them along wherever we go, so be it. As long as my decisions are prayed over, thought through,  and work well for our family, there is no right or wrong answer in parenthood . . . that’s why there are so many choices. Parenting is subjective. Children are complex. They have different needs and preferences; different backgrounds and DNA. Only you know how to nurture your child—not your neighbor, not your best friend, not even your mother.

And my parenting style might change depending on the child and the season of life. As long as our decisions align with Scripture, we’re good to go!

So let’s all take a collective deep breath and agree to listen to our Savior, pay attention to our children’s needs, and not make our decisions based on the approval of others.

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God?

Or am I trying to please people?

If I were still trying to please people,

I would not be a servant of Christ.

– Galatians 1:10, NIV

 

Because mommin’ is tough and making wise choices is tougher, I have an exciting offer for you!

 

The Honest Co. is offering my blog readers TWO incredible deals for moms with kids in any stage!

1. FREE bundle trial

choose between diapers, cleaning supplies, or personal care items, absolutely FREE!

2. Organic Formula

Only $7.95 + FREE shipping

What I love about The Honest Co. is their “best-for-baby approach” to feeding, diapering, and generally caring for your baby. It’s a judgement-free, yet live-well zone which sits well with this harried-mama. If you’ve been wanting to try their products but just hadn’t pulled the trigger, now you have no excuse! Check out the two deals above!

 

Happy mommin’! And stay Honest!

 

 


As you know, last week I turned 40. And because God is gracious and loving and knew exactly WHAT I needed to hear WHEN I needed to hear it, the day wasn’t nearly as traumatic as I anticipated. I still think about what the next decade holds, but I no longer fear it. I don’t fear failure because as long as I am walking in God’s calling, I am a success.

Yet, I wonder how many of you fear the future? Fear a new season of life whether it’s motherhood, career, marriage, or something else? How many of you fear the turn your marriage has taken? The state of your finances? Or that diagnoses from the doctor?

How many of us can truly say, “Not my will, but thine be done?”

I recently worked through a Bible study that might be just the tool you’re looking for if you:

  • fear the future
  • fear what God might ask you to do
  • like to stay in control
  • think your plans are better than God’s
  • don’t want to submit to God’s plans

If any of this resonates with you, this new study by Thelma Wells might be just the way for you to walk boldly into the New Year:

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This 12-week topical Bible study is just one of many Bible studies written by women for women as part of the Women of Faith series. You can go through Giving God Your Future on your own in a group because it offers group discussion questions in the back.

 

Digging Deeper

There are several features in this study that stood out to me. The first was the “Digging Deeper” section toward the end of each chapter. This section allows for further Bible study for readers. However, if you’re a tired, stressed-out mom who just wants to take a shower this week, or a busy business exec whose PowerPoint presentation just froze five minutes before the big pitch, feel free to skip the extra work.

 

Friends

Another feature you will enjoy is that Wells has numerous friends who show up throughout the study offering their own insight, perspective and wisdom. Women such as Patsy Clairmont, Luci Swindoll, and Sheila Walsh–all who have been teachers and spiritual mothers to women of my generation.

One friend, Nicole Johnson, addresses the issue of surrender. Several years ago my word of the year was surrender.” I thought God was calling me to surrender a few minor bad habits; little did I know He was asking me to surrender my entire life.

Johnson writes,”Surrendering to God is the key that unlocks the door to the life you want. A bigger spiritual ‘to do’ list or a calendar full of church activities will not change our lives. When we give ourselves to God–mind, body, soul, and spirit–He changes us.”

Q&A

Throughout this study Wells asks challenging questions guaranteed to make readers wrestle with the reality that giving our future to God is an issue of trust and obedience. Questions such as:

  • “What are you afraid God might ask you to give up?”
  • “What are you afraid God might ask you to do?”
  • “What would you say is harder to do–to die for someone, or to live for them?”
  • “Have you ever made a willful choice against God?”

You will pause, reflect, pray, and dig deep into the recesses of your soul to find out what holds you back from allowing God full access to your life.

Pray

Finally, my favorite feature in the book is the “Ponder & Pray” section, available at the end of each chapter. This gives readers a tidbit to think about–something pertaining to the chapter–and then encourages them to pray about it.

Companion Studies

Giving God Your Future is just one many studies you can dive into this New Year. Other studies include:

PursuingContentment

GivingGodYourAll

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Giveaway!!!

Because I love to read and I love YOU–my faithful readers–I am giving away 3 Bible studies . . . 1 to 3 different winners!!! The Bible studies I am giving away include:

  • Giving God Your Future by Thelma Wells
  • Building Your Strengths by Patsy Clairmont
  • Praying with Power by Patsy Claremont

If you want to enter (and believe me, you want to enter!), check out Facebook OR Instagram TODAY for details!


Some of you might know that yesterday was a big day for me–I turned the BIG 4-0. I’ll admit, I feared the day like a cat about to plunge head first into a bubble bath. A couple weeks ago I even posted the following on Instagram and Facebook:

“I admit, it’s less than 3 weeks away and I am DREADING the impending 4-0. I know I’m supposed to be all, ‘Its just a number,’ and ‘I am woman, hear me roar.’ But I’m not where I thought I would be at 40 … can I please stay 39 forever?”

Many of you messaged me encouraging words that should have ushered me into January 9th with joy, but your well-wishing fell flat on my deaf ears and heard heart.

For many years I have wrestled with this stay-at-home mom gig. The minute people ask, “What do you do?,” I cringe. Our society feeds off accomplishment, entrepreneurship, and status . . . none of which apply when your main job description revolves around watching Peppa Pig and discovering new uses for Magic Eraser. As a strong-willed ESTJ, spending the past 11 years (plus many more to come) on mundane tasks such as diaper changing, nose wiping, and lunch-fixing has taken a hit to my ego.

I had an entire blog post dedicated to turning 40. I’ll spare you the depressing monologue and just say it sounded a lot like my Insta post. (Wah Wah)

I was all ready to click “Publish” until . . .

I heard the sermon that changed my perspective on turning forty. 

This isn’t a sermon recap because I wouldn’t do my pastor or his sermon justice. But if you wrestle with your place in life or God’s call for your life (or you know someone who does), I HIGHLY recommend you listen to this sermon and get ready for God to change your perspective and your heart. I heard it at my church and it was one of those moments when God knew exactly what I needed to hear when I needed to hear it. Maybe you need to hear it too.

Here are a few of my takeaways:

  • I spend too much time placing my identity in WHAT I DO and not in WHO I AM.
    • Subconsciously I buy into the lie that people will only like me–even love me–if I give them something valuable (my time, my money, my talents, my resources). No one could possibly want to spend time with me simply because God created me. That makes no sense in our commodity-driven world. So I produce and create and offer and serve in hopes of earning other’s affections. The problem is, all this frenzy rarely delivers the return on investment I anticipate, and I end up disappointed and frustrated. Even though I wrote a book on this subjectGod is still working in me. Clearly I am a slow learner, but God is a patient god. 

AsJesusSeesBookCover

 

  • I place too much importance on earning a paycheck.
    • Most people who grew up in the depression era maintain the scarcity mentality. I’m convinced the same applies to children who grew up in single-parent homes. I remember not being able to buy groceries until the next paycheck, buying clothes on layaway, and bouncing from place-to-place because we could no longer afford the rent. This instability taught me to fear finances . . . a concern that still holds a loose grip to this day.
    • Some days, in a moment of clarity, I’ll take a deep breath (thank you yoga!) and look at the big picture. Even when I was paying my way through college, God never left me. Even in the early days of our marriage, when Brandon and I were paying off mountains of student loan debt, God always took care of us. Even as we juggle five kids, God is providing for us financially.
    • So what does a paycheck really mean to me? Why do I find it so important? When I stop and ask myself these questions, I realize that a earning a salary means I have control over tomorrow. It means I have status. It means someone finds value in what I do.
    • Yet, none of this is true. It is all the Enemy’s lies fed to me in one heaping spoonful so I will no longer crave God’s truth. I’ve decided to spit out this foul substitute for food and instead feast on Scripture which says:

For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?  – Matthew 6:25-26, NASB

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  • According to Ephesians 2:10, I was created “to do good works.”
    • For many years I thought I was created for one, monumental, golden task and somehow I’ve missed the boat. However, now I realize Scripture says I was created “to do good WORKS,” not “ONE good work.” God has MANY works planned for me–and for YOU too. Some I have completed, some I am working through right now, and others He has not yet revealed to me (thank you, Lord.) God’s plans for me are only limited to my obedience.
    • How many of you are waiting for God to reveal His audacious plan for your life, like Moses and the burning bush? All while you kill time in the same old job you hate, living the safe life you’ve created, and wondering why you wake up dissatisfied every day.

 

  • My desire to have a career is driven by my desire for self-promotion.
    • Over the past couple years I’ve sat in a counselor’s chair and dug deep to learn a lot about myself. One thing I determined (thanks to the Enneagram Type Indicator) is that I have a high need to feel valued (yes, I actually paid a lot of money to have someone tell me that. I’m sure you, my readers, could have diagnosed that for free.)
    • As I listened to my pastor’s sermon, I knew my desire to have a career was driven by a place of self-promotion, a desire to feel important and receive accolades. Our pastor explained that a calling is intrinsic–it promotes others. While a career is extrinsic and promotes oneself.
    • The lightbulb went off as he continued to describe the difference between our calling and our career, between intrinsic and extrinsic work. I finally realized the work I have been pining away for for so many years revolved around ME. The work I get to do on a daily basis as a part of my calling revolves around my husband, my children, my readers, my community, and so many people I will never meet. Through writing, speaking, mentoring, teaching, equipping, encouraging, and advocating for the least of these, I am living out God’s call for my life. What a privilege!

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  • Maybe someday I will have a career. Maybe not. And that’s O.K.
    • God has graciously orchestrated my life so that I can live out my calling. Not many people can say that.
    • I have a husband who provides for us financially and encourages me to lean into the gifts God has given me. For all the years I wrestled with my place in life, he never wavered. He was steadfast and confident in where God had me. He was encouraging and gracious even when I didn’t deserve it.

 

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What About You?

  1. Do you attach your identity to what you do, instead of to who God created you to be?
  2. Do you find validation in your accomplishments instead of in your relationship with Jesus?
  3. Do you place more importance on earning a paycheck instead of doing something that fulfills your soul? Practically speaking, some of us need to work and pursue a career to fulfill financial obligations. But is your career your god? Is it prohibiting you from answering God’s call for your life?
  4. Do you believe God has one big thing for you to accomplish in life, or many small things for you to do? What is that one big thing or many small things?
  5. What drives your desire for a career? Self-promotion or something else? Explain.
  6. If you never have a career, are you O.K. with that? Explain.
  7. What is God’s call for your life?

I held out as long as I could. I promise. But, like many moms, I eventually caved. I bought the dadgum Elf on the Shelf. You know, the guy who’s supposed to make our children behave during the month of December but all he really does is create 24 days worth of messes that we have to clean up. Jesus take the wheel.

And no mess can be the same, lest you have the lamest elf in school. Our children compare notes on the playground. They swap elf stories. They heap guilt and pressure on us moms forcing us to believe that each elf mess must be cuter, more creative, more Pinterest-worthy, and more blog-able than the mess from the night day before. Toilet papering the Christmas tree. Tootsie roll poop. Flour that looks like snow (seriously?). Dang you Elf on the Shelf!

And heaven forbid you should get lost watching Downton Abby and forget to move your Elf on the Shelf.

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“Mom, why didn’t Floyd Casey move last night? He was sitting there yesterday. Does this mean he didn’t fly to the North Pole?”

Seriously kid? I’m thinking to myself. You’re a 3rd grader reading on a 10th grade level and you’re asking me if the stuffed elf we bought at Target forgot to fly to the North Pole? Do I really have to answer your question?

“Um, it looks like Floyd needs to go to the bathroom,” I answer. “It happens all the time. I’m sure he’ll fly tonight.”

I can’t.

I can’t even.

I literally can’t even.

I literally can’t even take one more advent season with the Elf on the Shelf. Aside from the moving and messing and forgetting, my children turn finding Floyd Casey into a competition. Whoever finds him before breakfast is the winner. Last year Clarey found him every single morning. Insert tears. And yelling. Insert a mom on the brink of spiking her morning eggnog. And even though Floyd Casey reported my kids’ behavior to Santa Claus (who we don’t even really promote), do you think my kids cared? Of course not. The competition and bickering ensued.

This year, I resolved myself to leaving Floyd Casey in one spot for the entire month of December. No more elf trickery or hide-and-go-seek. No more competition gone awry. Just flexible Floyd hanging out with baby Jesus in the Willow Tree nativity scene . . . where he should be.

Until I discovered the Star From Afar.

 

Follow the Star

 

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If your Elf on the Shelf is wearing you thin, then maybe your family needs the Star from Afar . . . a more meaningful way to engage our kids in the advent season.

This is more than a fun tradition–it’s a new way to celebrate advent. Start by reading the book, The Christmas Star from Afar. Then, set up the manger scene together. After your kids go to bed you hide the star. When your kids wake up, you all gather your wise men and travel around the house searching for the star from afar. Once you all find it, the wise men sit as close to star as possible. That night and every night until Christmas Day you repeat this game. On Christmas morning the star finally rests over the manger and the wise men visit their King.

 

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The book not only tells the true Christmas story in a fun, rhyming fashion, but it also includes Bible verses that you can talk about with your children throughout the month of December. So not only am I avoiding Pinterest-induced elfish mayhem, but I’m pointing my children to Christ. Win-win. So if you want to start a new Christmas tradition that takes pressure off you, points your children to Jesus, and puts the Elf in his proper place, I encourage you to order Star from Afar.


Brides (and their mothers) spend countless hours planning the perfect day. The dress, the flowers, the venue, the photographer, the caterer . . . no detail goes unnoticed. In fact, according to Theknot.com,

  • the average wedding costs around $32,000
  • the average wedding dress costs $1357
  • the average number of guests attending a wedding is 136

Even for the most organized bride, it takes a long time to plan such an affair. Maybe this is why the average engagement lasts 14 months.

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Unfortunately, many couples spend more time planning for their wedding–which lasts ONE day–and not enough time planning for their marriage–which lasts a LIFETIME.

That is why Brandon and I are so passionate about Legacy Family Ministries . . . because we see too many couples playing house while lacking the proper tools needed for a healthy, thriving, Godly marriage. For the past nine years we have been honored to serve with Legacy Family to prepare engaged couples for marriage.

 

Legacy Family’s Mission

Legacy Family Ministries was created to pass on Biblical principles from one generation to the next, and they exist to serve engaged and pre-engaged couples by providing hope, direction, and vision.

Practically speaking, they accomplish their vision through their 6-week pre-marital class: Countdown to Marriage, which they offer every fall and spring, plus the shorter Weekender version offered approximately three times per year. In these classes a seasoned (that’s a nice word for “older”) married couple walks a group engaged couples through Legacy’s curriculum. Topics include:

  • God’s Purpose for Marriage
  • Finances
  • Spiritual Intimacy
  • Emotional Intimacy
  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Physical Intimacy
  • In-laws
  • Communication
  • Conflict Resolution

Classes end with a weekend retreat in Salado, Texas.

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Fall 2016

This fall Legacy is offering the following classes:

  • Oates Home (Waco) – Sunday nights, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. September 18 – October 23
  • Weathersbee Home (Salado) – Sunday nights, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. September 18 – October 23
  • Class ends with a retreat in Salado at Summers Mill: Oct 29-30
  • Weekender (for those who cannot attend a 6-week class, they can attend the weekend retreat only) – Oct 28-30
  • Cost: $300 per couple (limited scholarships available – contact 254-933-2300 or office@legacyfamily.org for more information)

 

The Best Wedding Gift

While giddy brides spend hundreds of hours planning the perfect wedding, friends and family worry and fret over picking out the perfect gift: china that will break, silver that will tarnish, and that bread maker the happy couple will use once before they go Gluten-free.

You can shop until you drop on frivolous gifts such as these, or you can give a gift that will last for generations to come: the gift of a Countdown to Marriage class.

If you are engaged, consider giving yourself the only wedding gift you can’t find in a store . . . the gift of investing in your marriage with Legacy Family Ministries.

Don’t wait, classes are filling up. To register for Countdown to Marriage, click here.

 

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Two Steps to Building a Stronger Marriage This Year

 


Looking for your next read, or a gift for a friend? Order your copy of If you Could See as Jesus Sees on Amazon today!

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