Category: Family Life

Book Review: Growing Up Social” by Gary Chapman and Arlene Pelican

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As a parent raising children in a world that is quickly becoming obsessed with screens, I was highly interested in reading Growing Up Social by Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane. I have come to respect the opinions and viewpoints of Mr. Chapman and Mrs. Pellicane though listening to various podcasts and blog posts and was interested to read their ideas on this matter. I especially was interested to see the tie-in with Mr. Chapman’s Five Love Languages concept from other books I’ve read by him.

The first half of the book discusses what are called A+ Skills. These are skills that I’m sure all parents would want their child to be proficient at. These skills include the ability to show affection, appreciate others, deal with anger, learn to apologize, and pay attention. The second half of the book explores how screen time affects children. Most chapters include passages with practical application tips in easy to read formats. It is also based on Biblical principles.

The overarching point of this book is to encourage parents to limit screen time in order to strengthen relationships. I think this was best said in chapter three: “It’s ironic that an electronic device that connects us to people around the world can also work simultaneously to separate us from the people at hand.” While screens are entertaining and sometimes educational for children, parents have to ensure that they are properly monitored and limited. Therefore, I would highly recommend this book to any parent.

I received this book for free from Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review.

Book Review: “52 Uncommon Dates: A Couple’s Adventure Guide for Praying, Playing, and Staying Together” by Randy E. Southern

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This book is full of wonderful date ideas. It’s the perfect cure for being in the rut of dinner and a movie! In fact, these unusual date ideas are sure to breathe new life into a martial dating relationship.

Each date idea contains the following information:
Words to Grow On – Bible verse and Gary Chapman quote
Set the Scene – Introduction to the date
Make It Happen – Instructions for the date
Finish Strong – Review, questions
Mind Your Language – Commentary on 5 Love Languages for the date
Take It to God – Suggestions for prayer time
Dig Deep – Bible verse references for further study

While these are unique ideas, they are generally low cost and don’t involve a huge amount of complicated planning. My husband and I have done several of these ideas before, but in almost all cases we haven’t done them recently. Also, several ideas are completely fresh and new for us. For instance, the one I’m most looking forward to trying is the photography date idea.

I absolutely loved this book. There are complete instructions for each idea, and it is wonderful that all are referenced back to the Bible. This is a great book for all married couples, whether they be newlyweds or the proverbial old married couple.

I received this book for free from Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review.

Book Review: “A Teen’s Guide to the 5 Love Languages” by Gary D. Chapman and Paige Haley Drygas

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I originally read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman as a young bride years ago. I found it to be one of the most practical relationship books I’d read and have referenced it along the way. So, I was super excited to see that a teen version of the book was available. It is a quick and easy read. In fact, I read almost all of it aloud to my family as we rode in the car. Although my children haven’t reached the teen years yet (I thought they might relate to this book more than the children’s version), I found this to be applicable to them as well. It is written with a teen’s perspective in mind. It contains some fun illustrations and has several sections that are set apart in a blue background that further discuss important ideas in that chapter. The book concludes with The Five Love Languages Profile that assists the reader in determining their love language. I think that it’s great to introduce these relationship concepts at such an important time in a child’s life. I’ve already seen changes in my own children from reading this book with them. It’s a great read.

I received this book for free from Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review.

Book Review: “Having a Martha Home the Mary Way – 31 Days to a Clean House and a Satisfied Soul” by Sarah Mae

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I was drawn to this book because I’ve been looking a lot at the lives of Mary and Martha from the Bible. It also interested me to because I’m always looking for tips and tricks to make housekeeping easier and more organized. I really enjoyed how information in the book was grouped. For each of the 31 days, a different topic is covered. The author covers everything from learning your cleaning style to toy organization. Each day has a short story, a Bible study (named the Mary Challenge), and a hands-on activity to help with cleaning around the house (named the Martha Challenge). I love that all the information in the book is divided into small, doable sections so that you’re not overwhelmed with it all. I also love that the book is based on Biblical principles. The book is full of great ideas and helps to break up house cleaning into manageable pieces. For instance, one of my favorite parts of the book was in Day 10 – Slow and Steady. The author encouraged me by reminding that cleaning and household organization doesn’t have to be done all together at one time and that progress is better than perfection. On page 86, she says, “One step at a time, one day at a time, slow and steady, you’ll make it.” The book is filled with reminders of grace and was encouraging to me. I’d recommend this book to anyone who is interested in a quick Bible study along with ideas to tame the chaos that often surrounds homes of mothers of small children.

I received this book for free from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review.

Book Review: “Hope Unfolding” by Becky Thompson

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This inspirational book was truly wonderful! It was so easy to relate to the author and so many times she reminded me of many of God’s truths from the Bible using stories of her own real, and sometimes raw, experiences. She makes lots of great connections between the Biblical thought she’s discussing and familiar stories or objects that you can relate to like using an analogy of hiding things in a junk drawer and hiding things in your heart. Each of the ten chapters expounds on an encouraging thought:

God Hasn’t Forgotten About You
God’s Plans Are Perfect
God is Good Even When Life Isn’t
You Are Not Alone
You Are Not Your Mess
Let God Be Your Strength
Have Grace for Who You Are
God Still Performs Miracles
God Loves You Just as You Are
You Are Enough

This book speaks to the heart of the mom who tries hard every day to be the best mom she can be, but doesn’t feel like she measures up. Mrs. Thompson reminds the reader that it’s okay not to be perfect, and nor should they try to be. On page 112, she says, “The messy areas of your life do not tell a story of your failures. Those areas tell the story of your humanity, and they are a continual reminder of your need for a Savior.” The book points the reader to finding their hope, peace, strength, confidence, and acceptance in the Lord. I think it’s a great, encouraging book for all moms.

I received this book for free from BloggingforBooks.org’s Blogger Program in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review. 

Book Review: “Better Together: Because You’re Not Meant to Mom Alone” by Jill Savage and Anne McClane

I can’t express just how much I enjoyed this book. On almost every chapter, I found myself nodding along and being able to relate to so many of the concepts and personal stories shared by the authors. I have several handwritten pages of quotes from this book. It’s that good. As a mom who has benefited from “momming” together now and in the past, I can attest to the concept that sharing difficulties and struggles can be so helpful to not only to myself, but to the other moms too. The book encourages moms to be more real with each other and more understanding of our backgrounds, experiences, and differences. There are then seven chapters that detail how we can “mom” together: learning, helping, caring, sharing, praying, forgiving, and encouraging. The book also features the following helpful appendices: conversation starters, mothering personality inventory, mom co-ops, and 33 Bible verses to share with a friend going through a hard time. I found the mothering personality inventory to quite interesting and helpful to understanding why I act in the ways that I do. I also gathered at least two ideas for starting a mom co-op. Finally, the book has a small leader guide in the back that has discussion questions about each chapter. This was an inspiring book and one I can’t wait to share with my friends. I’d recommend you also read it no matter what stage of mommyhood you’re in. After all, Mrs. Savage said it best when she said “You’re not alone.” Surround yourself with other moms who can help and encourage you.

I was provided a copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to provide a positive review. All opinions are my own.

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If you pre-order, you’ll also receive:
1 Printable: 33 Bible Verses to Share with a Friend Going Through a Hard Time
3 Wallpapers/Backgounds for Phone and Computer
7 Audio Workshops (downloads)
• Keep It Shut–Karen Ehman
• Embrace Your Mothering Personality–Jill Savage
• Living and Laughing Together–Ken Davis
• Could Someone Please Remind Me Who I Am–Juli Slattery
• Bad Moments Don’t Make Bad Mamas–Lysa Terkeurst
• Created to Be–Dr. Kathy Koch
• Confessions of an Imperfect Mom–Julie Barnhill
Bonus Video: No More Perfect Kids–Jill Savage

Pssst…moms, it’s ok to have fun!

A couple of weeks ago, my husband came home with an impulsive idea to go on one more trip before the end of summer. I am the planner of the family and love my vast array of spreadsheets and lists (a little too much). I mentally checked my list when he suggested it. My mind came to a quick conclusion, “No, we don’t have a trip planned.” However, I tried to not be thrown off-balance by the lack of planning and embrace the prospect of having some fun. I jumped straight into planning mode. I came up with a few suggestions, and the kids picked a weekend trip to Greenville, SC.

We visited the Greenville Zoo, Cleveland Park, Discovery Island (try surfing if you visit), and just played in the hotel pool. Although the zoo isn’t that large, the kids excitedly moved from exhibit to exhibit. We then visited Cleveland Park which is adjacent to the zoo. The play structures are so cool here. While they have the regular slides and swings, they also have a lot of rope climbing structures that the kids loved. Towards the end of our time there, I spotted an old-school balance beam similar to the one I used to have on my school’s playground. I don’t know why, but I just jumped up on it and started across. Granted, it took a few tries, but it was fun to be a kid again. At some point, I noticed that my husband was taking pictures of me. “Farmer Boy” asked why he was taking them. My husband replied, “Mom doesn’t act silly that often.” Sadly, it’s true. I spend so much time organizing, scheduling, cleaning, planning, etc., and it seems there’s very little time for just being goofy. The kids need to see that in me, in us, as moms. It is a slow passage from the carefree silliness of childhood to the seriousness of being an adult. It happens so slowly that we hardly even notice it happening. Yes, there are times where we have to be a “grown-up”, but shouldn’t there be a majority of the time that we can just be silly, happy, and carefree with our kids? I know that I will be trying to make an effort to do just that. After all, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine…” -Proverbs 17:22.

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What’s your favorite way to have fun with your kids?

Book Review: “Own Your Life” by Sally Clarkson

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I saw this book and was intrigued by the title. I knew that I needed to work on owning my life more. Too often, I easily fall into the trap of always saying yes to too many things. This leaves me feeling overwhelmed, rushed, and depleted of the energy I need to be the homemaker, wife, mother, daughter, friend, and child of God that I want to be. So, help in focusing my energy towards the relationships that matter most to me is always welcomed.

The book is divided into the following parts:
Part 1 – Barriers to Owning Your Life: Don’t Settle for a Mediocre Life
Part 2 – Owning Your Vision: Mapping Your Life Purpose
Part 3 – Owning Your Life by Giving God Control: What Only He Can Do
Part 4 – Owning Your Life by Partnering with God: Attitudes and Actions That Transform
Part 5 – Owning Your Life by Loving Well: Creating a Lasting Legacy

As you can tell by the chapter titles, the book relies heavily on what the Bible has to say on each of these topics. The author takes topics such as forgiveness or having a vision and provides a detailed plan on how to deal with it, complete with Bible verses. In fact, each chapter opens with an inspiring quote as well as Bible verse. The author also provides a section called “Own Your Part”. It lists specific activities or ideas to bring home the point of the chapter. I liked this part because its’ personal nature helped me to internalize the information she was talking about.

I enjoyed learning from the wisdom of someone who’s been there before. There were many points to ponder and put into action from this book. I loved this quote from page 191, “Painting the reality of God onto the walls of your home will be one of the great works of your life.” By looking towards God and following what He says from the Bible, I hope that I can do just that by leaving a legacy of a home that isn’t crazed and hurried, but one of peace, love, grace, and goodness.

I received this book for free from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review.

Happy New Year!

Happy new year to each of you. I pray that your new year is blessed, healthy, and happy. 2014 was quite an eventful year. At least three life-changing events presented itself during the year. I’m still trying to understand why these things happened, and am slowing coming to understand that maybe I’m not supposed to ever completely understand them. Maybe I’m just supposed to grow through them by trusting that God holds all the answers and trusting in his promise saying, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

As a lot of people do, I’ve decided to plan achieve a few goals in the new year. There is something fresh and invigorating about the prospects of a new year. It encourages me to try to be a better person this year than last. So, I encourage you to think about a few things that you would like to work on, not just hollow resolutions, but a time of reflection and prayer in which you earnestly seek to be better. One of the posts on moneysavingmom.com made me start thinking about making these goals to be specific and able to be accomplished in a set period of time. One thing that hold me back on getting a lot of stuff done is procrastination, hesitation, and uncertainty. I hope to address these bad habits to live life more fully and happily. So, here are a few of my goals for the year. They are already listed with a deadline in my to-do list so I can keep myself accountable. Feel free to share some of your goals as well.

-Learn to cook five complete meals that I feel are my go-to meals when I have company over. I can cook, but sometimes become nervous when cooking for others.
-Eat more healthy foods and exercise more. (I know this is cliche, but it’s needed in my case.)
-Hone my sewing skills, including learning to quilt, make doll clothes, and a dress.
-Read the Bible, spend more time on devotions and prayer, and memorize (and apply) at least one verse a month that can help me be a better mother, spouse, family member, friend, or Christian.
-Actually do some of the things I love on Pinterest. 🙂

All the best to you!

Just Picking Cotton

My family had a unique opportunity to visit a cotton farm yesterday. My husband is a member of a antique tractor club. As part of the club, we were invited to the farm to pick cotton by hand and then watch a demonstration of both an antique and modern-day cotton picker machines. The day also included a hay ride and yummy lunch.

I really enjoyed a bit of testimony given by the farm’s owner. I hope he can forgive me if I don’t remember his words exactly. He gathered everyone around a hay wagon and said he had something he wanted to say. He told us how he was admiring God’s creation of nature as he saw the cotton field in full bloom. He said the Lord revealed to him how a cotton plant could portray the Gospel. The white cotton bloom represents purity of Christ. The bloom then turns purple which reminded him of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The bloom then dies just as Christ did on the cross for our sins. The resulting cotton boll bursts forth just as Christ did from his grave during the Resurrection. It was a blessing to have been there to be a part of this time with this gentleman speaking from his heart.

The highlight of the day was my family getting to experience cotton picking by hand. I’ve grown up hearing so many stories about my relatives working in cotton fields. My memories of their stories was that it was tedious and painful work. Just last weekend, I went to visit my great uncle who talked about having to pick the remains of the cotton in the field. He had to save for quite some time just to buy a bicycle. While I did enjoy picking the cotton, I can very easily see how one wouldn’t want to have to do it for any length of time. However, for the short time we did it today, it was fun.

I’m thankful that my children (and I) got the chance to experience this harvest that so many of our ancestors had also participated in. I’m also thankful for the older members of the tractor club that took the time to explain the process to us and tell us stories of their memories of cotton picking. In this world of electronic gadgets and constant connectivity, it was nice to get away for just a day and enjoy life with my family. Although I may grumble from time to time about the tractor, I think it’s wonderful that my children get exposed to so many things from days gone by that they would miss if their head was buried in an electronic device all day long. I encourage you to do the same with your children. Find a local festival and spend time together teaching them about everything you can think of that is good. Unfortunately, children grow up too fast. Take time to make it count!