Sunday, June 28, 2009
Just in time for the Fourth of July, the Momfluence network has partnered with Sara Lee and Ball Park Franks to provide one reader with a ready-made picnic!
One lucky winner will receive 10 packs of Sara Lee's Soft and Smooth Buns and 24 packs of Ball Park Franks - all delivered to their door! Add the condiments and some sides and you've got a holiday celebration to remember.
This contest is open to all U.S. residents age 18 years or older and ends on noon eastern, June 29th. This contest is brought to you by Momfluence...rocking the cradle and shaping the world.
To enter to win, just fill out this secure form - your information will only be shared with the vendor if you win and will not be used for any other purpose. Then check back just before the Fourth of July for the Momfluence Summer Guide - a fun review of summer products from toys that bring the fun, to gels to soothe a sting!
Enter Here: http://tinyurl.com/ljty3t
Friday, June 26, 2009
1. She had a great talent for making you feel as if you were never good enough, even as she was giving you a compliment or saying something encouraging.
2. Even though I don't always believe it, Jesus is by my side, always.
3. I know this: I love my husband even when things are tough.
4. I find it amazing that some of my friends love me still.
5. These words apply to me: intense, insecure, intellectual.
6. As a child, I was outside if the sun was shining.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to making a slide show to go with "One True God" by Mark Harris for church, tomorrow my plans include a regular day of church with no big events and Sunday, I want to hide all my children's winter clothes so they'll stop trying to wear them!
I was invited by UPrinting.com to join their blog sponsorship program on May 21. You'd think that with just over 30 days, I wouldn't have had time to really work with them enough to form an opinion.
You. are. so. wrong.
The first opportunity I had to participate was within two weeks. Now, we all know the stairs are little patterny over there in the sidebar, so I played with the colors a bit to help the ad stand out. Being a newbie, I contacted UPrinting to check on the "okayness" of my tweaking. And since you all know my habits, you know it was 10:40 PM when I sent the e-mail. Do you think it was 9 the next morning before I heard from them? Nope. Can you believe I got an e-mail back at 11:18?! Yep. I had a response in 38 minutes.
Awesomeness. Pure awesomeness.
Here's a little more from the UPrinting team about why UPrinting.com isn't your average printing company:
If you are looking to find a sponsor for your blog, UPrinting.com is definitely interested. We offer giveaways, advertising and more for qualified bloggers.
The U-Community Program sponsors hundreds of non-profits and education to improve our local communities.
Social Justice Projects:
The UPrinting Kiva account promotes small business growth in developing countries.
UPrinting supports a sustainable future by recycling, using non-toxic inks, and offering eco-friendly recycled paper stocks for business cards and postcard printing.
Just so you know of another instance of awesomeness in the world.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Now you can win a bracelet making kit plus $75 in product - a $100 value - by entering the "Bejeweled Giveaway" contest. Ten readers across the Momfluence network blogs will be chosen to win!
But there's more! Those ten winners will be able to submit a picture of their completed bracelet to the House of Gems, and one will be chosen to receive a $250 gift certificate, enough product to really jump start your business.
Readers must choose one or more ways to enter.
Option 1 - Subscribe to one or more of the House of Gems feeds found at http://www.houseofgems.com/feeds.aspx - each feed subscription counts as a new entry! Once you've subscribed fill out this entry form: http://cli.gs/ND4NMe
Option 2 - Blog about the "Bejeweled Giveaway" contest on your own site then fill out this entry from: http://cli.gs/ND4NMe
Join us on Twitter Saturday, June 27th at 9:00 p.m. eastern for a #houseofgems SiteWarming party where the 10 winners will be announced!
About the House of Gems:
House of Gems, Inc. (www.houseofgems.com) was established to provide quality beads, pearls, findings, pendants, chains and other jewelry making accessories at wholesale prices, directly to the consumer.The people behind Houseofgems.com have been in this business since 1992 and have an extensive network of designers, manufacturers and other direct suppliers to draw upon.
Since they have their own factories,craft shops and import directly, they have the best prices on quality products. Now, with the power of e-commerce they have eliminated the 'middle men', bringing their quality products at low wholesale jewelry prices, directly to your doorstep.
Friday, June 19, 2009
1. All children alarm their parents, if only because you are forever expecting them to do something completely mortifying.
2. Show me a good loser and I will show you a good person.
3. Saying yes to something is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs at one time. It might sound good at the time, but later your stomach will tell you otherwise.
4. Too bad that all the people who know how to run the country are busy pandering and philandering.
5. I have yet to hear a man ask for advice on how to combine machismo and sensitivity.
6. It is impossible to think of any good meal, no matter how plain or elegant, without garlic or love in it.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to the family feast for vacation Bible school, tomorrow my plans include the vbs program during church and Sunday, I want to sleep all day to recover from vbs!
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Laurie Lovejoy Hilliard and Sharon Lovejoy Autry are wives, moms, sisters and great friends. They are the founders of Mom and Loving It Ministries whose mission is to provide hope for families by encouraging and equipping moms.
After these sisters and their families toured 40 states speaking and singing to thousands of moms, they settled in the North Texas area near their hometown of Whitesboro. They've been featured on numerous TV and radio shows and have written Mom and Loving It: Finding Contentment in REAL Life, and Hold You, Mommy: Moments with God for Moms on the Go. Their musical CD, Hold You, Mommy has encouraged thousands. Laurie and her husband Charles, have four children, Sharon and her husband Pat, have three.
This twosome inspires audiences at their Mom and Loving It Conferences to move from simply enduring motherhood to enjoying it. Through their genuine hearts and relatable stories, moms are put at ease and challenged to be a "Mom and Loving It!"
To find out more about using their books as studies in your ladies group, having them for a conference or to sign up for a free monthly Mom-e-Moment visit them at momandlovingit.org.
KCWC is currently scheduling speaking events and interviews for Laurie and Sharon. Please contact Kathy Carlton Willis for more information.
Children do what we do . . . Boy, that's a scary thought for me. How do you treat your husband? Do you respect him with your words, actions, attitudes, eyes? I struggle sometimes when I feel so justified in my disrespect. Can you relate? I think the best thing we as moms can do to help our children to respect their dad is to treat him with respect ourselves. Here are some Father's Day (and everyday) tips to help our children respect their fathers:
A compliment a day goes a long way! Brag on your husband in front of your children (and in front of him).
Show me the love! Let your children know how much you love their daddy. Show affection in front of your children. They may say, "Yuck!" but it provides much needed security for their lives.
Instead of being put-out - Pray! Include your children in praying for dad's job, leadership, etc.
Give him grace . . . Show him grace even when he doesn't deserve it . . . remember, neither do we. Nehemiah 9:17b says "But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love."
Phone Manners. Next time you are in the middle of something and your husband calls you on the phone, be aware of your tone of voice, are you respectful? . . . little ears may be listening and learning.
"Daddy's Home!" Be as excited to see your husband when he comes home from work as your children are! Make yourself stop what you are doing to greet him.
Choose your battles - When you think your husband is being unfair (and it's a battle you need to fight) talk to your husband in private; listen first and speak last. Psalm 141:3 "Set a guard over my mouth O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips."
Try these no-cost (big rewards) Father's Day gift ideas and see if it proves to be the gift that truly keeps on giving!
Monday, June 15, 2009
Cynthia Ruchti writes stories of “hope that glows in the dark.” The drama/devotional radio broadcast Cynthia writes and produces—The Heartbeat of the Home—airs on 16 radio stations and two cable/digital television stations. Cynthia is editor of the ministry’s Backyard Friends magazine. She also serves as current president of American Christian Fiction Writers. Her debut novel—They Almost Always Come Home—releases in spring 2010 with Abingdon Press.
Amy was six weeks pregnant when her husband’s army unit deployed to Iraq for eighteen months. I felt my friend’s pain deep in my bones, aching with a brand of grief reserved only for times like that. Caring for her two young children and their home would be stress enough for her without the added demands and challenges of a new baby on the way. Concern for her husband’s safety would mask every remotely joyful moment. The wonder of labor and delivery lay shrouded in loneliness. And the child would be many months old before meeting his or her daddy for the first time.
Change a few details and backtrack more than fifty years and that was my story.
My father served with the Marines during the Korean Conflict. Four days after I was born, his unit shipped out, leaving my mom and me to fend for ourselves for the next thirteen months. When relating my personal history, I have to start with that. It shaped my beginnings. I lived my first thirteen months seven thousand miles away from the dad who loved me and wasn’t allowed to hold me until I was already walking and capable of squirming out of his arms.
He’d read magazines during Mom’s labor. Fathers weren’t welcome in the delivery room in those days. He saw his first glimpses of me through the nursery window. Then he obediently reported for duty aboard the ship that would take him far from us and into the arms of daily danger.
In an era before the invention of camcorders, camera phones, and e-mail, my mother and father had only air mail letters to connect their hearts. Letters and scalloped-edged black and white photos.
As the firstborn child, my photo album bulged, all the more so since still pictures offered my dad his only tangible evidence that I was alive, growing, and as happy as a child can be without her father.
Mom would have sent him a lock of my hair from my first haircut if I’d had any to spare. When I learned to blow kisses, she’d “collect” some in an envelope to send to him. An amateur artist, Daddy sketched cartoonish scenes from his Marine unit—jeeps and tents and enlisted men and helicopters. Even before I understood a word she said, my mom read those letters to me over and over again. They were my lullabies. She showed me his picture and talked about what a wonderful daddy I had.
Mom wanted me to know who he was and what he was like before he came home. From the stories they’ve told, both of my parents were nervous about that first meeting. They worried I’d be frightened of the stranger who was my father. He’d survived the war, but my fearing or resisting him would have killed him, they said.
To compound the concern, I was just at that age when a toddler begins to fear strangers. Somebody would smile at me in church and I’d start screaming.
But my mom had prepared me well. The pictures. The letters. Her gentle words about how much that smiling man in the pictures loved me. I’m told that when he finally came home and walked through the front door, I looked up at my mom, pointed to the tall Marine and asked, “Daddy?” Mom nodded, her throat imploding on itself. Her nod was all the assurance I needed. The next minute I was in his arms, dodging his tears of gratitude that I’d accepted him.
I give my mother a lot of credit for the success of that first meeting. She had prepared me well, leaving nothing to chance. My toddler mind entertained no doubt that he cared about me. I knew that truth before he even got home from the war because of what my mother taught me about him.
If the Lord walked into the room in a few minutes, would the people around me recognize Him not by His beard or hair or flowing robes, but because of how I have described Him?
Would people meeting Him for the first time find the situation comfortable and reassuring because of how well I prepared them?
Am I constantly showing others snapshots of the Lord through the way I live and love, the things I say about Him, the things He said that I pass on to them?
Do I talk about Him frequently, with loving words, expressing how very much He loves even those who have not yet met Him?
Would His sudden presence seem intimidating and frightening, or more like a warm homecoming?
In light of how you and I act day to day, would others respond to His entrance into their lives this way:
“Oh, sure! I recognize Him. I've heard my neighbor talk about Him. I've seen my coworker act like that. I've heard those same affirming words coming out of my brother-in-law's mouth. I've seen examples of what He's like. His amazing love and generosity and compassion and caring don't surprise me at all. They are just what I expected from what my friend shared about Him. I heard that His touch brings healing. I heard that He can help make sense out of the questions that trouble me. I didn't need more of an introduction than the one my friend already gave me. I’d recognize Jesus a mile away.”
Pictures and reflections and stories and evidence still lack the wonder of that first face-to-face encounter. As I Corinthians 13:12 (KJV) reminds us, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face; now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”
*Article reprint from Victory in Grace.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
--Sharon Lovejoy Autry
The final bell rang. The kids screamed for joy. Mom sits in the carpool line wondering, "What in the world are we going to do all summer?!"
Maybe as summer has begun, you've found yourself resentful and angry because your children constantly "interrupt" your schedule. If that's how you're feeling, you're normal.
But, wait. We wanted these kids, right? Are they really interruptions or blessings in disguise? How can we move from simply surviving the summer to making it a summer to remember?
Here are a few ideas to get you out of the summer survival rut:
1. Realize they won't be this way forever. What is it about your kids that you won't have in two years? If you are a parent of:
- Preschoolers: Look at their hands and notice how tiny they are. Enjoy that.
- Elementary children: When you're away from home, call them. Their voices sound small on the phone. That always reminds me to enjoy their innocence rather than expecting them to act like little grown-ups.
- Tweens: Laugh at and enjoy their giggles (usually girls) and the fascination they have with being gross (usually boys)! Hopefully that won't last forever!
- Teens: Even if they are driving you crazy, make your home the safe place. I still remember the fun place our parents created at home. It was our refuge. Let kids feel safe in your home by cutting down on the criticism and looking for ways to build them up. Mom and Dad's secret was a ping-pong table. We spent hours there.
2. Say "no" with a smile. It makes you and your child feel better. They know you have some regret at having to say no. You are on their team.
3. Play music. Anger and music don't usually dance. Movie soundtracks, praise songs, music from my teen years or even classical stations. I rarely find myself upset with my kids when we have music playing in the background.
4. Go outside. Sometimes taking a walk or bike ride with the kids can do wonders to change everyone's perspective.
5. Things aren't always as they seem. Remember that the way you are seeing things at this moment is probably not how it will look in a couple of hours. Frustrations can build and dissolve quickly when you have kids.
6. Offer them 30 minutes of your time. After they have helped pick up around the house let them pick what the two of you will do together and watch their eyes light up! For older kids, offer them the day off after helping for an hour.
7. Ask your kids what they think is fun. You might be surprised to find that their idea of fun often doesn't cost any money. My sister was amazed to find that her 7-year-old son's idea of "fun" was playing tag in the front yard with dad, mom and his little sister.
8. Slow down. Successful parenting doesn't mean you have your children involved in every possible extra-curricular activity. Successful parenting means you are there for them. If you've been running all year, it takes "practice" to enjoy staying home. Don't give up. Turn off the computer, TV, cell phone, etc. and read or play games (no matter what the age of your children).
9. Pray. When you are at your wit's end, ask God to help you remember what to do with your kids. On our own, it's hard to enjoy the moments because "life happens." But God has a way of giving us perspective that will slow us down and help us see our families the way He sees them: with love and compassion.
The next time you blow your top or realize you're just surviving your kids instead of enjoying their clumsy feet, silliness, or their constant desire to talk on the phone, stop and think, "one day I'll miss this!" The funny thing is, tomorrow we'll be longing for today. If we choose to think like that long enough, the kids won't be the only ones sad to hear the school bell ring this fall.
Sharon (Lovejoy) Autry, a mom of 3, co-authored Mom and Loving It, Finding Contentment in REAL Life with her sister, Laurie (Lovejoy) Hilliard, mom of 4. www.MomAndLovingIt.org
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, moms must be from Mercury. I mean, think about it: wouldn't you describe much of your life post-baby as mercurial? One minute you're ecstatic; the next you're devastated. Monday your husband is The Man, but then Tuesday you wonder why on Earth you married him. And don't even get me started on your mother-in-law.
They say your whole life changes when you become a mom, and they're right. Everything from your body to your philosophy of life changes. Even our relationships change. Of course, our relationships to our husbands change, but the marital relationship isn't the only thing to change. Have you considered the other five key relationships in your life?
Self - How do you see yourself now? More importantly, how do you treat yourself?
Friends - Do you have as much in common with your friends now that you have kids, or do you sense a shift in the company you keep?
Family of origin - Was Mom the smartest woman to ever live or did you learn more of what you don't want to do with your own kids? How does becoming a mom affect your relationship with your mom?
Community - Did Mama Myopia set in or do you finally see the forest out there?
God - You're a parent now. What does your Heavenly Father look like to you through your new eyes?
Lisa T. Bergen finally covers the whole galaxy of relationships in the new theme book for MOPS, Life on Planet Mom: A Down-to-Earth Guide to Your Changing Relationships. The mom of three and bestselling author of more than thirty books gives all moms something to love and learn in this book. Whether you like fiction, non-fiction, book clubs, or self-help, you'll find shining stars of relational wisdom - in small chunks you can read at warp speed, since we all know that's the only speed moms can read in when they're chasing preschoolers!
For the fiction gals, there's an on-going narrative at the beginning of each chapter about four friends exploring the universe of Mommydom. Stephanie, Jen, Amy, and Keisha will pull you right into their conversations, where you'll wonder if you're reading about fictional characters or conversations with your own friends. I'm more of a non-fiction girl myself, but I actually caught myself crying as I read Stephanie's difficult conversation with her mom at the beginning of chapter three.
Like non-fiction? Not to worry. The fictional bits are short so you won't get bogged down before you get to the nitty-gritty. Lisa includes wisdom both from her own Childfleet Academy career and others that have gone before her, including comments from some of the 500 other MOPS moms out there that responded to a survey she put out with MOPS International while researching for this book. You'll find anecdotes, statistics, and advice from professionals, as well as other moms.
Book discussion addicts will get their fill from this book, too. Lisa's put together questions at the end of each chapter for the Mamas of the Round Table. For those fearless mamas who boldly plan to read a chapter a week (or two weeks), you'll find a handful of questions to think about and discuss with your small group. These aren't namby-pamby "What did you think about this chapter?" questions, either. These are hard, thought-provoking questions to help you open up and relate to other women like you. Don't believe me? How about this one from chapter two: "Have you experienced the 'Is this all there is?' question in your marriage?" How's that for namby-pamby???
As if that wasn't deep enough, there are self-examining questions dotting the book to take you deeper into your motivations and feelings as a mom for those of us that want to answer questions and internalize the book without sharing. These questions hold up a mirror for us to really look at who we are as women and moms and how that affects the relationships with everyone around us. Chapter four has a great question I want each of us as moms to consider, whether you read the rest of this book or not:
Are you clique focused? How would you feel if you were on the outside, wishing to take part? Are you open to inviting others outside your group to come in? How do you do that now or how will you do that in the future? Are you willing, deep down, truly willing, to give people who don't pass your initial review one more chance (and another and another)? [emphasis mine]
Whether or not you're a paid-dues member of MOPS, or if your kids have graduated from preschool (or high school or college, for that matter), I recommend you get your hands on a copy of Life on Planet Mom as soon as possible. It may be a place where no man has gone before, but sister-girl, Planet Mom is full - of other women like you and camaraderie, laughs, and wisdom.
Friday, June 5, 2009
1. It's never too late to bring your heart back home.
2. My favorite thing for dinner lately has been lettuce and tomato wraps.
3. What my kids sound like: little bitty dogs going bark! bark! bark!
4. A nice long walk is best with a friend.
5. I sure could use some good news.
6. When all is said and done, it doesn't matter what others think. You have to be happy with yourself.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to Praise Team practice, tomorrow my plans include church and potluck and Sunday, I want to make a ton of money at the garage sale and bake sale we're having to raise money to go to a women's retreat!
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Yeah, they've been bald for awhile. I've stupidly continued to drive on them while trying to save up the money to get new ones. Today the front passenger tire finally decided to show its metal skivvies.
I have officially been parked.
That's where you come in. I need to replace all four tires. The cost for that is almost as much as my rent, but the landlord kind of wants his money, so the money had to go to that. I've decided it's time to swallow my pride and ask for help from my friends. Thanks to the Interwebs and ChipIn.com, though, I can reach out to all you, my wonderful friends and readers.
Every single dollar is incredibly appreciated.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Stay in the Word and in prayer if you expect your children to do so. Too many times, parents expect that the youth pastor is going to grow their children. You can’t expect your kids to live a lifestyle you’re not.
Be sure you have a firm answer from God before you respond to your child about a request. For example, when BJ first wanted to serve overseas, our initial answer was “no,” but that was a knee-jerk reaction. Parents must be careful to hear from the Holy Spirit and not respond out of pure protectiveness or emotion.
If at all possible, have a regular devotional time with your family. This should include prayer, not just rote prayer but significant time with God. This teaches kids how to pray and encourages them in their walk with the Lord
Arrange to have dinner together as a family as often as you can. This gives you an opportunity to share as a family and also allows you to listen to your children. Kids won’t spill unless parents are willing to listen.
Don’t be afraid to let your children fail. Sometimes kids need to try things and learn that failure is a part of life. They need all kinds of experiences as they move into adulthood.
Encourage your children to be bold in their faith. Do activities as a family—mission trips and other projects—that require boldness. Encourage them to be involved in opportunities to share their faith.
Listen, listen, and listen to your children. We say this humbly because we learned from our mistakes. Often your kids are telling you things by what they don’t tell you. (See the note about having dinner together above).
When discouraging things happen, don’t remove your child’s opportunities to obey God. Your child’s relationship with God should never be used as a weapon. Opportunities for fellowship(youth group, etc.) shouldn’t be contingent on “good” behavior.
If you make a commitment, follow through. If your child makes a commitment, help him or her follow through on it, too. The lesson here: your faithfulness sets an example for others.
Practice what you preach to your children. Demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit through your love, kindness, etc. Although we weren’t (and aren’t) perfect parents, we tried to follow through in our lives with the things we taught our kids.
Read more about Brent and Deanna's book and enter a giveaway to win your copy!
"Dad, I know you're scared. I believe the Lord will deliver me through this. But if he doesn't, I'm going home to be with him, and that's okay with me." --BJ Higgins, August 5, 2005
Brent and Deanna Higgins clung to these valiant words throughout their son's six-week hospitalization. BJ became ill with a mysterious infection after he returned from his second mission trip to Peru. His death on September 26, 2005, days before his sixteenth birthday, ushered their family (Brent, Deanna, and two college-aged daughters) into what they called the new normal: life without their beloved son and brother. The new normal also meant life without one who served as a role model for many, including his own family members. BJ's story and message of passionate obedience to Christ are chronicled in his parents' best-selling book, I Would Die for You: One Student's Story of Passion, Service, and Faith (Revell, 2008).
How do Brent and Deanna survive the new normal? The Higgins point to their relationship with God as the key. "The level of intimacy one truly has in a relationship with Christ is often reflected through the time of pain, suffering, and loss," says Brent, now vice president for international operations for their son's sending agency, Awe Star Ministries. He and Deanna recommend that others who face the loss of a child draw near to God. "When you do, He promises to draw near to you," Brent explains.
Drawing near to other people is important, too, Deanna says. "It helped to talk to other people about him, to remember who he was. Initially, just holding onto the people around us helped a lot."
Today, the Higgins lead teams of young missionaries like their son to take the Gospel of Christ to people around the world. More recently, God has opened the doors for ministry to others who have lost a child. "No two losses are exactly alike regardless of similar circumstances," says Brent. "I encourage parents to seek the Lord because He always listens."
"Everyone goes through it differently," says Deanna. "We each grieve in our own way, but God can handle our anger. He can handle anything." She urges other hurting parents to recognize the hope beyond their pain. "If you look, you'll find ways He's showing you He cares. He's showing you He's with you through it."
God's presence doesn't eliminate loneliness, however. The Higgins both admit that their work with students often brings back bittersweet memories of their son. "Certain students remind me of BJ in their passion for Christ, their hunger to know more," Brent says. At times, both Brent and Deanna find comfort in their son's journals (excerpted in the book) as well as videos and pictures of him. Music, an integral part of their family life, also serves as a source of strength.
Connecting with God and with others, especially young people like their son, helps them cope. Deanna says the loss of her son has left her more open to see the potential of these young men and women. Brent adds, "Before BJ passed, the things I taught were less experiential and more intellectual. The things the Lord has allowed me to walk through since that time have increased my own intensity and passion for seeing students truly understand what God calls them to do."
As part of a passionate declaration in one of his journals, BJ wrote, "It's time to raise a revolution. God will give me the strength." For his parents, the new normal means a commitment to extend his legacy--even when it hurts.
Read more about Brent and Deanna's book and enter a giveaway to win your copy!
Monday, June 1, 2009
Seeing Through the Lies:
Unmasking the Myths
Michael was continually amused that I kept laughing out loud while reading this book. Vonda's book makes you wonder if you're reading or having a conversation with girlfriends in your living room. It's very conversational and funny, but don't let that fool you. Seeing Through the Lies breaks through the fluff and delivers poignant, deep, spiritual points that women need to hear. Vonda's gift is that she makes you feel good about hearing these deep truths, not shamefully convicted. If you wonder how your spiritual health is faring or your relationship with God or the church, as Vonda would say, "You need to read this book, girlfriend!"