Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Choose JOY

I am blessed to partake in a great book launch for Choose Joy, Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts by Sara Frankl and Mary Carver. I finished up this book quickly, because it is such a good book and hard to put down. Sara had a great way of choosing joy and she shared it for us! #choosejoybook

The focus throughout this book is to choose joy no matter what. I loved reading about Sara's life. This is a gal who didn't give up, even when she was in the worst of circumstances with her disease. She was able to praise and thank God through it all, while putting others before her needs. She had a gift of making others feel loved. What a great way to live and share the light of Jesus! You could feel through her words how much she trusted God and HIS plan for her life.

Sara is from a town close to my home state. She was raised on a farm in Iowa. Loved her family, writing, and singing in church. While in college she was involved in a car accident which activated a gene in her that caused ankylosing spondylitis and also had leukopenia. She entered the gates of heaven at age of 38. To which I will say she lived her life to the fullest despite being confined and in serve pain, along with many other medical issues. She choose to trust God through it all and was filled with gratitude, hope, and joy. She touched thousands of lives through her blog http://gitzengirl.blogspot.com/

My focus this year is on habits and softening, so this book was a great read. She talked about habits in a part of the book. She said "Habit Makes Able". Habits made her able to do most things. Her habit was saying yes to people who needed something. Sara said "She was in habit of believing if I continue to step out in faith, that God will put what I need in front of me. That He will line my path with the abilities and confidence that I am lacking." Oh she is so right, what a great reminder and use of habits. 

In the chapter about Giving Up and Letting Go, she talked about expectations and goals. She had to realize and learn to let go of the plans she had and trust God with the plans HE had for her. So she focused on finding a "new normal in the midst of the chaos and see blessings in tragedies". She came up with life goals. Goals that lived through her spirit. And yes, I agree with her, we should all come with a list, a reminder of what is most important in our life and focus on living the life God has given us.
Sara's life goals:
1. To not be ashamed to stand before God.
2. To fulfill God's plan by living the best life I can with what I am given.
3. To be aware and present in every moment.
4. To love what I have and not yearn for what I lack.
5. To spread the joy, not the fear.
6. To be intentional in all things.

Her life goals helped her to stay focused, choosing the right steps and seeing the blessing around her. They encouraged me so much I am working on my own list.

Sara till the end always choose joy, she chose to find it in the small, everyday simple things of life, not just the big things. She shared the many things she was grateful for and she was able to find that through faith. She never once blamed God or complained what happened to her. She knew that God never told us life would be easy if we were faithful. He told us to just be faithful and God is too! It's about whom God designed her to be and live that. Oh what a wise girl full of light. I would have loved to have met her, but am thankful to have read the book about her and gain from, choose JOY!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Discipling Women

I just finished reading a must read book for all women, titled The Gentle Art of Disciplining Women by Dana Yeakley. Those that know me, know I am a big encourager of mom groups and mentoring. Why? Well because if it wasn't for some women in my life coming along side me and encouraging, well I just can't imagine what my life would be like. First my grandma came to me after my divorce and shared her faith with me. She is a big part of the reason I turned my life to Jesus! Oh I so miss her! I started meeting with her pastor, a year later I was saved. A few years later I was struggling again this time being a new mom away from my family, my husband and I had dealt with infertility, many moves and had some marriage issues. It was again, I turned to Jesus. I became a part of a local church. A gal I met invited me to MOPS (a mom group) and from then on out, my life changed. My faith grew deeply, God is not someone I go to when I feel like. I learned just how much I need Jesus daily and how God desires a relationship from us and He is not out to condemn us! I had christian mom friends share their faith with me, pray for me and encourage me. These ladies will never be forgotten, thank you God for those ladies! Since all that happened, we moved several times and every time, I always seek out and pray for God to provide me with a church family and encouraging women to be a part of. God is good y'all. He always provides!!

We women need each other, God didn't put us on this earth to do life alone. He made relationships, and desires for us to have relationships. First of course our relationship with Him must be priority over all. So if you are struggling, I know what it feels like I have had seasons of struggle, turn to the ONE who loves you. He will provide all you need. Ask Him to provide you with a mentor or seek out a mom/ladies Bible study group. I am thankful for the ladies that have been mentors in my life and blessed to now be on the other end of mentoring to others. Ladies, we are to take our faith and share it, "go and make disciples". We need churches that support and encourage the people to do this. It doesn't take much to make a difference in someone's life. That is why you need to read this book.

There are two parts to this book and the first part is important to understand if you are going to disciple others and it is also great for someone to read who is new to understanding who they are in Christ. We are forgiven~redeemed! We are safe in Christ, He will give us peace and joy! We have access to God through prayer, His Word and the Holy Spirit is living inside of us believers. Most important to understand, we are "becoming" all that God desires us to be, we are on a journey with Him to grow in our faith. This is what we need to understand in our own spiritual health, as we walk with Him. Part 2 of the book provides advice on being a mentor and again, scripture to walk you deeper, so you feel empowered and encouraged to understand why we are called to disciple others. Making disciples was God's idea, you see it through the way Jesus walked on earth with his disciples and after His resurrection He appointed them to "go and make disciples" (Matthew 28:19). Our role of a mentor is to point them to Jesus. We are co-laborers with God in the process. The author explains our primary purpose is to come along the side of the one we are mentoring/discipling and share life, prayer, His Word and hope the one we disciple will also disciple someone else. Let me tell you ladies you do not need to be a senior lady to be a mentor, you just need to be a step ahead of another woman in her walk with Christ. I loved how she describe what discipleship is..."Disciple-making is an art, we need the proper tools and to develop the skills of our craft." She shares how to create a life-giving atmosphere, whom do we help/called to help, what do we share, and how does one on one disciplining work.
This is not a book you read and are done, each chapter has scripture for you to look up read and study. With questions to help you and understand key truths. She also provides some ways to get started and suggestions to go through as you begin a discipling relationship. You can check out more about this book at Tyndale

Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review.

Love, Christmas Everyday!

Let Every Day Be Christmas
Christmas is forever, not for just one day,
for loving, sharing, giving, are not to put away
like bells and lights and tinsel, in some box upon a shelf.
The good you do for others is good you do yourself.
Peace on Earth, good will to men,
kind thoughts and words of cheer,
are things we should use often
and not just once a year.
Remember too the Christ-child, grew up to be a man;
to hide him in a cradle, is not our dear Lord’s plan.
So keep the Christmas spirit, share it with others far and near,
from week to week and month to month, throughout the entire year!
What a wonderful poem, with so much truth. Wrote by, Norman Wesley Brooks 1976

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The most important GIFT, Let's all BELIEVE!

God sent Jesus at Christmas for us to get to know HIM. What are you going to find this Christmas, what are you seeking? Wise people seek Christ. #onthisHolyNight 

Romans 15:13, "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope, by the power of the Holy Spirit." 

JOY, HE has come!  Let’s all BELIEVE! 

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the our Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
'Til He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born;

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.

Christ is the Lord! O Praise His name forever.
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

O night divine, O night when Christ was born

Fall on your knees! O hear the angels' voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born
O night divine, O night when Christ was born

Christ is the Lord! O Praise His name forever.
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A new thing for me...Chatbooks

OK, so I must share a couple weeks ago I shared my struggle with updating my photo books, I was a bit behind, over a year behind. I am the kind of person who likes to put my photos in order as to how they happened in real life and then also write little captions by them. Which will help in the future when looking back and not recalling, hey what's going on in that photo or who is that. So doing a little research, I knew I would not go back to the way I use to to do them before children, that was actually scrapbooking, making them all cute and what not. I just don't have the time. I still wanted a way to have photo albums, I need my photos printed, because first I don't trust digital, I mean things get lost and disappear, not saying these things have happened to me, but could and we know some politicians this has happened to. We know the computer is only so safe. Plus my kids love looking at the albums we have. So after looking at some digital options and researching pricing options, because I need to keep this affordable. I found Chatbooks, hello anyone else use this? So I am new to this, but from what I understand, it will put together a photo book for you. You are notified when you have 60 pictures in the book. The pictures are taken from either an Instagram or Facebook account, of course you can manual upload from your camera folder on your phone, but again that is time consuming to me. I love that it will keep track of the photos I take and the captions I post with them. So therefore, I decided to create an Instagram account just for this purpose, so sorry if you see an abundance of picture postings of my personal life (you have option to unfollow and yes I will keep it private account), but I felt this would be better then having it linked to my Facebook account, where I love to share old memories, my blog postings, and photos with quotes/Bible scripture that inspire me and I didn't want these getting loaded into my Chatbook albums. Yes you can go delete and rearrange the book before ordering them, but again I want to simplify, so I am in the process of having my first album put together, probably be a couple weeks, though with Christmas coming I am sure lots of pictures will be taken. I will let you know how it turns out, but I am sure it will be great. So if you like to find out all about Chatbooks, go check them out they are on the web at http://chatbooks.com/ and if you decide you too think it would work in your life, sign up with my referral code T2LVETJJ  so we can earn free credits towards cost of books. Oh and by the way they are only $8 and yes that is shipping included, with 60 pictures in a bounded album and captioned, so cool!  

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Planning day

I am a geek, enjoying a Saturday afternoon entering school attendance and grades for our 1st semester, listening to Bravewriter, preparing part of our 2016 school year and getting my personal 2016 planner together (2016 will be here soon). Also being smart not going to town on the last Saturday before Christmas!
Must needs tools for me Erin Condren planner for all the entire family needs, plus my personal goals. Erasable gel pens, because nothing is concrete and sometimes plans change! For our school planner the Simple Plan! Yes I do love planning and organizing, it's the ex-office administrator, type A personality in me!

Most important we need to make sure our plans align with the Word and God has given us to do!
Psalm 119:32 I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free. 
Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.
Proverbs 16:9 In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.

I love this way to set goals from Holly's book You're Already Amazing:
Change God wants me to make.....
Small next step....
How I'll celebrate....

For me some structure and planning is what I need or things wouldn't get done. With that I need to remember to also allow flexibility and freedom to explore and fail. It is what makes a great learning environment! 

So let's do our God-assignments and do them fully with all our hearts! 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Last day of school for the year and it's last Friday before Christmas!!

Today we finish up week 17 of school and our last day of the year of 2015!! What this means, we are about 1/2 way done with school! Also excited that we have a two week break. Next year I am going to plan three weeks, since there are so many activities in December to attend to and we get wore out. So I don't want to have that extra pressure of trying to complete school, when we are over-tired. It doesn't make for a great learning environment for anyone. Plus that will just give us more time to do extra Christmas activities, which is what we prefer to do anyhow and in reality most the things we do everyday count as school!
The next couple weeks will consist of enjoying the remainder of the Christmas season. Relax, rest, refuel, organize, review the year and the school work we have completed so far, and start planning the remainder of the school year. Also the hubs was able to use his last two personal days to take off the last two days of the year, so we can celebrate our anniversary and New Years together!!

I have been reading a lot about habits and softening, this is something I plan to work on in the New Year of 2016. This will not only be beneficial for myself, but my family. As a wife, stay at home mama and homeschool mom, I have lots of responsibilities. I am sure y'all do too, not comparing here, just sharing my responsibilities. And really I do not sit around eating bonbons and watching TV, as some may think that is what we SAHM do, ha! I know I thought after I quit working outside the home years ago and became a stay at home I have more time to do things, um no, but I do have lots more family time and that is worth it! Anyhow, my hearts desire is to do what God has given me to do and do them well. The last 6 years I have been involved in planning, organizing or being a part of a MOM ministry. At the beginning of this year God told me to step down and that was hard because it is something I believe in and is so needed for moms. However I have learned that once I did in fact listen to the Lord, He had a purpose and I am seeing them now. Just because I am not a part of one doesn't mean I don't believe in mom groups, just that my season was done. We moved recently and when that happened Aidan would start being with us during most of our school time instead of at preschool and little did I know, how much that would change things. So yes the Lord knew I need more time to focus on schooling in our home and also because I stepped down last year, HE was already preparing for someone to take my place in continuing on the mom ministry HE put together. I am doing what the Lord has given me to do and be in this season He has given me. The kids and I enjoy doing things together to help and bless others. Just this week, we baked cookies and delivered them to surrounding neighbors. Abigail and I joined our church family in singing Christmas carols at a nursing home and rehab center. Not something I normally do because I can't sing but my girl does, so I went because of her, but it ended up blessing me. There was a point during that time I almost started crying and it almost got me and I had to ask myself what is wrong (as I am not usually a deeply emotional person, so softening may help me in this area) and it was because I saw the JOY on their faces! I have been reading a lot about JOY this year and studying Paul in the Bible (oh how he loved Jesus and lived to share HIS news, even in the worst circumstances and hard-ships he endured). I have learned there is always JOY even in the worst circumstances, we just have to look for them. I want to be a shining example of a light of Christ! (Yes, I will still fail, but thankfully we have grace too.) So light will be the word I use to keep my focus on! This week I read some great articles related to softening and habits and I ordered this book to read Habits, The Mother's Secret To Success (I like Charlotte Mason's educational philosophy, so I know this book will be good) http://amzn.com/B00TVNU7HS and here are some articles:

The best gifts involve giving of ourselves in ways that require time, introspection, heart, and sacrifice. http://www.handsfreemama.com/2015/12/16/consider-being-softer-its-the-gift-theyve-always-wanted/

Soften! This is one great thing I took from my time in yoga training, need to get back to it! What does it mean to soften and why? http://www.abundantmama.com/soften/

Habits. Who knew?  The tiny decisions, made faithfully over and over and over (and over and over) — this is what transforms our lives. http://www.karipatterson.com/habits-the-mothers-secret-to-success/

HabitsThe word probably doesn’t kindle a fire of passion or enthusiasm in your soul. Yet. http://simplehomeschool.net/habits/

More encouraging reads:
Even after 2000 years, Jesus is still shining bright and chasing away the darkness. So each time you see a twinkle this year, may it also be a reminder of the One who gives light to all mankind. When God gave Jesus, He lit up the world with love. http://holleygerth.com/jesus-is-light/

If we built a school from the ground up based on what the research shows as how children learn best…we’d build a home. 8 Reason Children Learn Best at Home https://blog.apologia.com/blog/2015/11/23/8-reasons-children-learn-best-home/

What are you filling yourself up with? How are you recharging? http://www.thebettermom.com/blog/2015/12/16/from-one-mama-to-another

Yes, true wedding vows and how true these are …Let’s be real. In a culture that idolizes romantic love, we don’t need any more Shakespearean vows. We need vows that will shape and impact marriages. Here are 12 truthful marriage vows you won’t hear at a wedding. http://www.foreverymom.com/if-wedding-vows-were-honest-this-is-what-theyd-say/

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Cookies, cookies and more cookies!! Merry Christmas!!

One of the best things about homeschooling, is the flexibility it gives us. My hubby works some crazy long hours but those days he does have off we are able to be flexible with our school work. Today was one of those days, we decided no school work, instead it would be family time and baking day. Which by the way does count as school work, think math, science, home-skill, and teaching about giving. We started the day trying out a local breakfast cafe, yum! Then spent a little out door time. After that Abigail and I started baking and baking, while the boys did some yard work. We baked enough for the town! So if you are craving some cookies, my place is the place to stop by! Usually I participate in a cookie exchange every year and this is the first year I am not part of mom group, so instead we are starting a new tradition and we made a little of everything and will be sharing! Tis the season, Merry Christmas!! 

Ready for delivery!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Pictures, pictures and pictures....

Over the last week or so, during some spare time I finally have my photo albums up to date, well minus this month. It was my goal to have it completed before the end of the year. So people this may be my New Year's resolution, to not get that far behind again! I was only two years behind, yes two years! Am I old fashioned in wanting to keep photo albums? Is there an easier way? Many moons ago, before children I actually scrapbooked and enjoyed it, but in this season of life I don't see that as a way to keep memories. So if you have an easier way of keeping memories, please share or maybe you just don't keep photos? What do people do with photos, do they have them printed or just store them online someplace? This mama needs help in this area, let's help one another out (just a little moto in my life).

Maybe I could do a better job of blogging and posting photos, but then there is still no way all the pictures I take would be saved, nor do I think everyone cares to see all the pictures I take and I do prefer to keep our lives mostly private and do not want them all out there for the world to see. Because we all know once you put it on the internet it is out there and nor do I trust things to be saved or safe in the internet world. 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Choose Joy

The book arrived today for the book launch I am a part of! It is a beautiful book, but even better yet an inspiring story about choosing joy through suffering.
Go check it out http://www.givinguponperfect.com/choosejoy/
#choosejoybook #journeyofFaith

Ohhhh Christmas lights

Today we went to visit Santa's Village! This event is put on by the university and city of Martin TN to collect food and toys for those in need. WOW! We walked through the lighted village and looked at all the displays, the kids enjoyed a ride on the carousal and going through the petting zoo.
Since we moved, we have enjoyed seeing new Christmas sights this year! Last weekend we experienced a drive through nativity put on by a local church, it was impressive and really showed the reason for the season! I should have taken pictures but I didn't want to hold up the long line of cars that come to see it. However, I did take a ton today, so you can experience Santa's Village if you are not able to visit it. Plus I need them for our photo albums. Do people still photo albums, or am I old fashioned? Anyhow ENJOY!

Train table was impressive, I even saw a couple CN boxcars and engine!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Fun time with our co-op!

Our co-op that we recently joined after we moved had an end of the year party. Oh I loved the location, it was literally out in the middle of no where. Well maybe some wouldn't think so, but it was a trip on some little windy roads to the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge, but so much beauty and peace.
The kids made ornaments from things found in nature for their Christmas trees and also made some treats for the birds and squirrels. In addition there was much to see and explore! Great way to spend a school day!!
I am thankful for those that put these events together and being a part of a co-op. It's an awesome community and also fun learning environment!