Monthly Archives: September 2016

Friday Loves on Tuesday

Friday Loves

Ok so I know it is Tuesday and NOT Friday…but I couldn’t get a Friday Loves post up this past Friday…and with October right around the bend, I thought I would share some Loves early mid-week instead!

Write31Days

Fervent Prayer

I am really excited about the series that God placed on my heart for this October. This will be my third year participating in the series. Writers from all over the globe commit to writing/posting every day for 31 days during the month of October. After leading a Bible Study on Fervent in my church I felt led to also write a series for October! I have several posts pre-written and hopefully will be able to get the remaining posts done for the end of the month! I would love it if you would join me in exploring the topic of fervent prayer!

Five Minute Friday Book

fmf-book

Over the years I have participated in the flash-mob of writers who join every Thursday night to write for five minutes on a specific topic. It has been awhile since I have written but about a year ago I heard that they were putting together a book of Five Minute Friday pieces and I submitted one for consideration! I, along with 150 other writers, are included in this amazing book! What is even more awesome is that all the proceeds from this book will go to benefit 2 different charities. You can find out all the specifics over at Kate’s blog. You can purchase the book at Amazon here.

From the Depths We Rise

from-the-depths-we-rise

I have been following Sarah’s blog for over a year now so when I was contacted by my friends over at Icon Media with an opportunity to review Sarah’s new book, I jumped at the chance! I started reading it this weekend and it is SO GOOD. This book is a memoir of Sarah’s journey through some of the most difficult and life altering circumstances. She writes with such transparency, unafraid to discuss the hard and sometimes unanswerable questions…and yet does so with such grace.   Sarah’s faith in God, even in the face of her worst nightmares coming true, will challenge you to examine your own faith as well. She is a reflection of the truth that God never said that this life would be easy, but He would be with us the entire time and our hope should be in the promise of his redemptive power over all of our troubles. This is a book that you want to read, and follow her blog too…a beautiful soul who is bringing light into this dark world! You can purchase your copy on Amazon here.

Dayspring Nativity Hurricane Trio

dayspring-candle-trio

The Dayspring Hurricane Candle Trio is one of my most favorite items that I display in my home. I initially purchased it for Christmas, but I love it so much I honestly leave it up on my shelf all year round! Today and tomorrow only, Dayspring is having a flash sale and the Trio is only $50! And will ship for free!! If you have ever wanted to have this for your home, buy it today! You will not be sorry!!

So what are you loving this week? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!!

Truth Your Heart Needs

already-amazing-book

As women, we can be our own worst critic, can’t we? And if you are like me and suffer from feelings of inadequacy, it can be easy to question EVERYTHING. Should I do this, what happens if I don’t do that…and guilt, oh the guilt we allow ourselves to feel. Man I am tired of the guilt! 🙂

As I approached this past weekend I was tired. Like exhausted. We had a terribly busy week, Dominic had been on the road for 3 days so I was doing the single parent routine. And every moment that Dominic was home seemed stressed to get things done that we needed to do.

I felt like the kids had suffered from our crazy schedule and there were still so many things on our home to-do list. A few weeks ago I purchased a ticket to the Beth Moore Simulcast that a local church was hosting. Several women from my old Bible Study were attending and I wanted to be there. It was the first time since they started hosting this simulcast that I actually bought a ticket and planned to go.

But after our week I found myself questioning if I should go or not.

It was only a $10 ticket, but I had committed to going. I didn’t want to let anyone down…and yet I felt strongly that I needed to spend the time at home. Late Friday night I made the decision that I wasn’t going to go. There was a project at home that needed my attention…even more than my need for spiritual teaching from Beth Moore.

Saturday was busy, and not really restful, but it was good.

Our 3 youngest kids have been sharing a room since Isaac left for college. It is a large space so that wasn’t the issue…but Gabe was getting frustrated with the little’s inability to pick up their messes. He wanted his own space. A place that could be his, and clean!

So we worked on getting Gabe’s old room back into his new room. And then, in the big room is a large closet. Elijah has been asking for a “special space” that would be his own for 2 years now. With Gabe’s help we pulled out everything from that large closet and spent the day purging, cleaning and sorting so that storage could be in one part of the closet and a special space was created in the other.

Bean bag chairs and curtains finished off the space and the littles squealed with delight when they saw the finished space. As I was tucking them in for bed they said that they appreciated all my hard work and loved their new space.

I realized that I was just where I needed to be that day.

So I posted a status update on FB about my day and how it had all worked out, and then forgot about it. At church on Sunday a friend found me and thanked me for what I shared. She too had struggled with whether she should attend the simulcast or not and chose her family instead. She was questioning her choice a little but then saw my post about staying home and it was just what she needed.

She said that it is good when we share the honest looks at our life because we never know who might need to read them. Isn’t that the truth?!

It is one of the reasons I blog…typically I have a “failure” type of story to share…how I did it wrong, so learn from me kind of wisdom. And I do that because for SO LONG I felt alone. Isolated and certain that everyone else had this life figured out and somehow I had missed the memo on how to get there.

We need to encourage one another, tell the truths that our hearts are longing to hear!

My dear friend Holley Gerth has written a new devotional called “Do You Know You’re Already Amazing” – 30 Truths to set your heart free. If you have ever read any of Holley’s books or blog posts you will know she writes as though she is sitting across from you, sharing life. As a woman who has struggled with knowing who God created her to be, Holley understands the unique way that women need to be encouraged. In person, she is an embodiment of grace and kindness, she is a true gift.

This devotional is her newest offering, that I think needs to be in the hands of every woman. Filled with short pieces that not only encourage but challenge, this devotional is the perfect way to start out each new day.

Using stories out of the Bible, Holley reminds us that if God can use people with “dark” pasts in the Bible, certainly He can use us as well. Each days’ writing ends with a couple of questions for reflection and consideration.

Those sections at the end are called “Truth for your Heart.” Because Holley recognizes that so often we fill our thoughts and our hearts with lies and then we get stuck. In these places we can search our hearts for any lies we may be holding on to and humbly ask God for the wisdom and clarity we need to move forward in freedom.

Oh friends, it is good stuff!!

So as you start this new week I encourage you to be real with one another, drop the guilt you may be carrying and equip yourself with some truth and encouragement for your journey by picking up a copy of this book!

Happy Tuesday friends!

This Gift of Grace

3-crosses-romans-6-23

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I spent years not truly understanding the incredible gift of grace that God offered me through His Son.

Sure I had heard all the stories, Jesus died for my sins, He paid the price for all of the things I would do wrong. But somehow hearing it time and time again wasn’t enough for the reality of what that meant to sink deep into my soul.

Instead I worked really hard at being as “good” as possible. I just knew that I had to try and keep doing it right, keep in line, and earn God’s favor. When I would mess up I would beg forgiveness, hoping that I could get back into God’s good graces.

It was exhausting.

When I was 20 years old and a junior in college, this “good Christian girl” found herself staring at two pink lines on a pregnancy test. I was shocked that something like this could happen to someone like me. What would people think?

My then boyfriend and I decided to get married. We jumped into parenthood and marriage completely naive and unprepared. I was four months pregnant when we said our “I dos”. The shame of getting caught in my sin weighed heavy on me.

When life proved difficult for our new family I was certain that God was punishing me for my past sin. I needed to earn God’s favor once again, then maybe life would settle down. I tried to walk the straight and narrow path. I was quick to see and point out the sin in others and unwilling to see that I continued to harbor pride and resentment in my own heart.

I lived in chains and found myself in the cycle of doing, failing, begging for forgiveness, doing, failing, begging for forgiveness….

I would love to tell you that this cycle was short lived. But the reality is I am just now, at 41, starting to grasp the freedom that comes from accepting and walking in God’s grace.

It has been a difficult journey, but I had to come to that place where I realized that there was nothing, NOTHING that I could do to be good enough for God’s love. It was a humbling moment when I was broken fully of my selfish pride and ready to acknowledge and then receive His free gift of grace.

This understanding doesn’t give me a pass to go on sinning as I please. As I have started to walk in this freedom my heart seeks to honor God with my life, but I am freed of the burden of needing to be perfect. I recognize my need for a Savior every day and am amazed that God would love me so much, in spite of all my failings, that He would sacrifice His Son on my behalf.

I may never fully understand His unconditional love, but I will live the rest of my life with a heart of gratitude that it is available for me.

Friend, do you believe it is available for you?

Have you found yourself on the merry-go-round of striving for perfection to earn God’s favor?

May I offer this recommendation? You don’t have to stay there. Take some time today and sit quietly with your hands open, heart ready, to fully accept His free gift of grace. Memorize Romans 6:23, and if you find yourself weary from the striving remember that you can rest in His care. There is freedom found only through Him. Celebrate that truth today!

 

This devotional was written as a part of a project over at the Loved Bible Project. Anne Marie has inspired this incredible community of believers who not only wants to seek to understand scripture more, but also works to provide Bibles for individuals that may not otherwise have access to the Word. Love, love being a very small part of what she is doing. Check them out on FB and be encouraged!!

When Neighboring Well is Hard Work – An Introvert’s Struggle

tuquoise-table

I live in a great community. One of the things that sold us on our home here was the neighborhood. We were fortunate enough to find a home at the end of a cul de sac, and a neighborhood filled with lots of kids.

Our kids can play outside, and we know they are safe and having fun. In our old community we didn’t have any kids in the area and it was rare that someone came by and I heard “friends are here…let’s go outside.”  So to hear those words all the time is such a gift.

So you would think that neighboring well would be easy….

But in all reality, for a girl like me it just isn’t.

I convinced (bullied, manipulated, forced) Dominic to let me get a table for our front yard. I loved the idea of the #TurquoiseTable movement, bringing the backyard to the front. I had wild ideas about hosting parties and making our yard THE place for people to gather.

And then my insecure, unsure self got in the way.

I hosted a little summer party for the neighborhood kids last year and we had hot dogs, cheese balls and watermelon at the table, but I never once invited the adults over. I thought about it…and then fear would set in and I just walked away from the idea.

I started to feel a bit resentful about that table in my front yard. It was a daily reminder of my inability to neighbor well.

The kids have used the table to play chess in the summer, or Pokemon, so it isn’t that it is not used at all…but all those things I encouraged others to do – I wasn’t able to do them myself.

It is a bit embarrassing really.

I guess it just comes down to the fact that I am really not comfortable being me.

I have always struggled with feeling not enough, being not good enough. I know that they are lies, but I feel this need to gain approval and sit with the reality that I just can’t meet this unrealistic standard I have in my own head.

For crying out loud, I walked out of church yesterday and left my 3 kids in the pew alone. ALONE. I was FED UP. My two youngest lovelies weren’t listening. They were laying on the ground, kicking the seats around them, talking well above a whisper, throwing things. I reminded them over and over again that they had to stop.

They didn’t stop and so I said I was leaving and they could wait for church to be over and ride home with their dad. (He was running the projector over in the sound booth and my kids are extra not behaved when he isn’t there in our row.)

The reality was I went to the bathroom. I seriously considered actually leaving. I was over the disrespect and wanted to make a point. THAT is the kind of mother and person I am. Talk about not measuring up. Ha! (I did return after several minutes….against my better judgement.)

Seriously though, churches need an adult nursery. A safe and quiet place where adults can go during the sermon with other quiet adults to be able to LISTEN to the sermon. No kids to be whining or bored or loud and unruly. Nope in adult nursery they aren’t allowed. Kids can fend for themselves. Did I just say that outloud?! Anywhoo….I digress.

So back to my neighborhood.

We have a block party once a year. Everyone brings out their tables and chairs to the center of the street and we share food and stories. The kids love it. Karlena was asking when we got to eat in the street again and last night was the night.

I didn’t want to go.

It isn’t my neighbors, they are amazing. It is just again that I don’t small talk well, and I am nervous joining a conversation. I am the proverbial wall flower. So events like this make me sweat.

We originally had plans to be out of town helping Dominic’s family, so I thought I had an out. Then those plans changed. And we were home. After church we took down our big pool in the backyard, which really did take like 3 hours. But I hadn’t planned that we would participate in the picnic. So I had nothing prepared.

I guess I thought maybe we could just hide inside. 🙁

And Dominic says something like “So we, the family with the Turquoise Table, are going to hide inside and not join the party?”

So at 4:34pm (the party started at 5pm) I was frantically running around my kitchen, making a quick salad to bring, thawing out some meat to grill…all the while our kids are cheering because they get to attend the party. Oh to have their brave hearts!

The evening was really nice. I did still feel uncomfortable at times, I probably always will. But it is ok. I want my kids to learn to neighbor well. I want to be the kind of person that people could come to if they needed something. But I also will probably always be the girl that feels scared and unsure.

I felt like I had to share this post…not because I love putting all my insecurities and faults on display, but because maybe there is someone else out there like me who desires community but is scared of it too.

I get it. I really do.

I don’t have a magical “cure” to make it easier. I just know that there are times that I will have to do something that makes me uncomfortable, and I will survive. And I may even enjoy myself in the process. So friends, if you understand this struggle, know you are not alone!!

I really do love my neighborhood, it is filled with great kids and fantastic people and I don’t want to miss out on more fun events just because of fear! Maybe this is the first step in stomping that fear right out of my life!

And if you see me in church with my lovelies, would you pray for me…clearly I need it! 😉

Friday Loves

Friday Loves

Hello friends! What a week this has been. I wasn’t sure if I would have a post for you today, but since I haven’t had much to share recently I thought I could at least try and share some more Friday Loves for you!

My first Friday Love is that it is Back to School time!!

back-to-school

Gabe started 7th grade on Wednesday and Elijah (above) started 1st grade today! Karlena will begin kindergarten on Monday so we will finally be back into a routine! Our summer was extra long and I was ready for some consistency back. The kids teachers all seem great and Karlena even has the same teacher helper and classroom that Elijah did, which makes the transition for this mama even easier!

Friday Love #2 is this new Devotional by Holley Gerth!

already-amazing

It officially releases on September 20th and you can pre-order it right now (please do, you will thank me!) Holley has such a tender way of encouraging women right where they are. This devotional is a companion to her book “You’re Already Amazing” and is filled with short readings to fill you with God’s Truth about who He created you to be. As a woman who has struggled for so long trying to “be ok”, this book is balm to my weary soul! Order it today!!

Friday Love #3 – Favorite Blog Post from Anna Rendell

anna

This post from my sweet friend Anna really says it all. For those of us in Minnesota, we are reeling from the news about Jacob Wetterling. Our hearts break for the family and can’t imagine the depths of their grief. Finally having answers, but knowing those answers won’t ever filled the void of the loss of their child. And unfortunately stories like this are all too common…so what do we do? Anna speaks so eloquently into how we make a difference in our everyday mundane. If you haven’t read it, jump over there today. You will be blessed!

Friday Love #4 – Time with family

canning

We had a long, tough weekend this past Labor Day and what started as helping clean out Dominic’s grandparent’s home turned into some unexpected grief with the news that his grandma went to be with Jesus early Monday morning. We re-packed the car and made it to Sioux Falls for a special bed-side memorial with family before the funeral home came. Dominic’s aunts and uncles shared stories and his uncle Tim, who is a minister, shared some words of hope with everyone. According to Gabe it was some of the best words he had heard!

Initially I thought about leaving the younger kids at my parent’s house, but Dominic took the opportunity to share about what happens after death, that we could celebrate because we knew she was with Jesus now. They asked questions, wondered if we could/should touch her and most importantly were able to experience the sacred bond of family in such a touching way. There will be a more formal service in a few weeks, but it was such an honor to be a part of this moment.

We cancelled our Tuesday appointments so that we could stay an extra day with Dominic’s parents and help them can salsa. They had started the process when they got the news about my MIL’s mom. So Tuesday morning we set to work chopping and blanching and canning 100 pints total of salsa! It was hard work, but it felt good to do something that I learned ultimately because of his grandma Ruth’s influence. We all agreed she would have approved. And hearing those lids pop as they sealed was even more rewarding.

I hope that as you are wrapping up your week you are able to see some lovely in your day. Do you have any Friday Loves you want to share with me?! Leave them in the comments please! 🙂

When the Path Isn’t What You Expected – A GSD Post!

Bridge GSD

I hope you are all having a wonderful, and even relaxing Labor Day. Our kids will finally be starting school this week! This is the first time in 5 years that our district is starting after Labor Day and I can tell you that I am not a fan. Even my kids were ready to get back into a routine a few weeks ago. 🙂

This summer our family took a vacation over in Wisconsin. During that trip we spent a day hiking for awhile to see some beautiful waterfalls. As I hiked I discovered how much the ever changing path we walked on reminded me of my journey in life. It hasn’t always been easy or fun, but there have been beautiful memories along the way and I am learning to be grateful for the ways that God is refining me as I go.

I wrote more about this over at the God-sized Dreams site today and would be honored if you would jump on over to read more!

Friday Loves

Friday Loves

So I always see these fun Friday Favorites posts in my inbox and thought that I would put together a fun list of my own “loves”. I can’t promise that I will do this every week, but I hope to share some of my favorite things, favorite people and favorite blogs when I do! I’d love to hear some of your loves so share them in the comments below!

Favorite new book I am reading: Chase the Lion by Mark Batterson

I was fortunate enough to be on another launch team for Mark Batterson. You must read his books – life changing! I think this one will be the same. I am only a few chapters in right now, but essentially it is a book about chasing your dreams. As a dreamer who is also a scaredy cat, this book will be sure to challenge me!

Chase the Lion

Favorite place to shop: Noble Women Botique

NWB

Their store motto is “Look Good, Feel Good, Do Good” and is inspired by Proverbs 31: 10-30. NWB was one of the first “local” stores that I shopped at when we moved to Marshall 5 years ago. I honestly didn’t have much of a sense of style back then and you likely would have found me rocking my mom jeans. But as I have added to my closet I have discovered that I do have a particular style and I can dress fashionable, even at 41! 😉 If you are ever in Marshall you just let me know and we will go shopping together!

Favorite new item on my 2016 wish list: ViBella Brittany Necklace

ViBella necklace

Oh my, this new necklace from ViBella is on my wish list for sure!! Not only for it’s beautiful colors, but it is made by an artisan in Ecuador and by purchasing this it helps women in poverty have gainful employment. Love the product and love the company mission even more!!

Favorite skin care product: Rodan & Fields Multi-purpose Eye Cream

R&F Eye Cream

About 2 years ago I started using Rodan & Fields. For the first 6 months I used the Reverse line in-between other products that I needed to use up. I hated to throw anything else away. I also, typically, only use the product in the morning. Does anyone else struggle with washing their face before bed? So silly I know, but I get so tired and brushing my teeth is about all I can handle. Anyways, I am working at treating the melasma patches I had on my cheeks after having Karlena. My face always looked dirty or like I didn’t know how to apply my makeup. Their skin care line has transformed my skin. And this multi-function eye cream is one of the best! Yes it is a little more expensive than your drug store brand, but I spent $$$$ lots of money on every product available and none worked like this has!

Favorite part about summer ending: Canning!

Canning

I know that probably seems crazy, but I love the satisfaction of canning/freezing for winter eating! This year we froze approximately 51 quarts of bagged sweet corn stuffed full, we also froze pounds and pounds of peaches, strawberries, blueberries and cherries for smoothies! And we have done 2 or 3 batches of tomatoes. We have so much salsa left from last year that I didn’t do any of that this year. But we will have lots of tomatoes for chili, soups, spaghetti and lasagna! Yum yum!

Well that’s all I have for today! Share your favorites below won’t you?!
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