Thursday, April 30, 2015

8 Ways to Find Alone Time as a Mom


Alone time is important, but it’s not always easy to find. And personality matters. If you’re introvert, that alone time will need to come more often. Extroverts may want to go to dinner with friends.

Regardless, a mom is not just a mom. A mom is a wife, daughter, sister, friend, aunt too. Those roles are important too. Obviously, being a mom demands much time, but to do that well, we need to take care of ourselves too.

Earlier this month, I spent an entire Saturday at a retreat for adoptive moms. I’m was technically helping with the Hope That Binds retreat, but, seriously, what a gift this time was. And not just the time – the food and gifts and conversations filled up my soul.

“Jesus was intentional about finding time to refuel. He knew there were many demands upon his time and energy and he had to be a good steward of his body, soul, and mind. Nobody had to tell him, 'Jesus, go rest.' Instead he recognized his need to pull away from the crowds and find the refreshment he needed. 
As moms, we need to do the same. People and responsibilities demand much from us and we have to be good stewards of our body, soul, and mind. We can't wait until we're drained dry or until someone comes along and offers to watch our kids (like that happens very often!). Instead we have to learn to be proactive about our self-care so that we can be ready to meet the needs of our family.”
{Jill Savage in “Real Moms ... Real Jesus”}

Here are some ideas to get time alone ...

1. Don’t always work during naptime. The dishes can wait.

2. Hang out with your husband after the kids are in bed. Your marriage needs to be a priority.

3. Plan dinner out with a friend.

4. Dads don’t babysit – they hang out with their kids. My husband often headed up bath time in the evenings so I could sit down … or clean up the kitchen. {Praise God the kids can shower themselves now!}

5. Preschool is good for the momma soul.

6. Let grandparents spend time with your kids without you.

7. Swap childcare with friends. My friends and I had a babysitting coop for a season when our kids were toddlers and preschoolers. Two moms would watch kids for a few hours one day a month while the other moms could go do whatever – work, rest, lunch with grownups, appointments. We planned months in advance so the moms could make plans.

8. Get up earlier than your kids. I never do this, but, hey, I know people who do ... 

Regardless, make sure you make time for yourself – somehow – and don’t feel guilty about doing so.

“Choosing yourself is not wrong. The longer you go without taking time for yourself, the more resentment will fester, exhaustion will set in, and you will have nothing left to give – to anyone. Guilt has no place in the decision to take care of yourself. 
This self-inflicted guilt is holding us hostage. It also drives a wedge between us and intimacy with the Father. We cannot let guilt block us from experiencing the freedom we have in Christ and all the blessings he has for us.”
{Jessica Turner in “The Fringe Hours: Making Time For You”}

As a mom, how do you find time – even small pockets of time – for yourself?
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Hey, mommas, consider both "Real Moms, Real Jesus" and "The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You" recommendations. They're both packed with such practical advice. 

I'm linking this post with the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood Gathering, where Jen Ferguson encourages women well. 

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Three Word Wednesday :: Peace & Pace



“But if my hope is in a sovereign God who never changes – if my peace and my pace come from him and if I believe he is who he says he is and if I trust him to shepherd and shape my calling and the conditions of my life – then I’m less likely to get rattled. God speaks light and flings stars and multiples cells and sets the fetal heart beating. He’s way ahead of online cultures that morph and mushroom overnight. He’s bigger than politics, bigger than physical safety or danger, bigger than what’s trending today and forgotten tomorrow, bigger than both the landscape and the velocity of change. He’s bigger than fear.”
{From “Dragons and Dirt” by Dalene Reyburn}

I can get rattled and lose perspective. Sometimes I rush my kids to bed because I’m tired. I’ve been known to hurry people out the door or into a store because I want to tackle a to-do list of tasks cluttering my mind. Unexpected detours can make me frazzled and I don’t like to be late.

But I know God has me on a journey toward peace.

The journey has been long. And while I don’t think it actually has a starting point, I can pinpoint first noticing it in my soul when we were trying to conceive a baby and couldn’t. There are landmark moments, where I’ve posted signs in my mind as I look back.

Peace came when I let go of trying to have a baby and turned my attention to adoption. Peace was present when I made schooling decisions for my kids, finished writing projects, and talked with friends about real life. Peace comes in the presence of God.

My life hasn’t lacked peace entirely, but I’ve been rattled more often than I care to admit. God is teaching me more about what living with peace as my perspective means. I want to mark more moments on this journey with evidence of peace and joy.

For me, peace is so often related to my pace. 

I like to be on the go. I like trips and celebrations. I like being with my people. And I like dreaming of what’s next. But I can’t be like that every day. I need that part of the journey to have some pit stops included so I can catch my breath, re-establish my perspective, and process the action.

I know when my pace slows, God gives me a chance to understand peace – the peace that only he can give, the peace that passes my understanding. {Tweet that.}

Whether I’m moving or slowing or stopping, God’s there. He’s not surprised with my personality that sometimes seems it’s made up of contradictions. He’s not caught off guard when I need to regroup and refresh. He wants me to see him – how he’s prepared me, how he’s gone before me, and how he was with me in the past.

I wrote 24,049 words in my ebook and used “peace” in the title. And here I am still learning about this five-letter word and how really it’s the center of so much else for me.

God is using the foundation of where I’ve been to prepare me for what’s next, even if I don’t know what that looks like. {Tweet that.} But he is sovereign, never changes, gives light to the darkness, creates life, and promises to be with us.
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A few housekeeping notes :: I’m going to write more about “Dragons and Dirt: The Truth About Changing the World – and The Courage It Requires” by Dalene Reyburn soon. This book surprised me with how much it’s speaking into my life. I’m marking whole paragraphs that I want to remember and come back to. That quote above is one of them.

Also, I have a super fun announcement on Sunday {my 36th birthday!} so be sure to come back then. I hope you’ll be glad you did.
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I'm also linking up with the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood Gathering

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Goodbye, tonsils.


“Open eyes! Open eyes!” my boy groggily yelled as he was waking up from the anesthesia required for the tonsillectomy. It’s like he knew what he was supposed to do, but he didn’t have the control or wherewithal to do it.

He eventually woke up and started behaving like a quieter version of himself. We forced him to sip on apple juice and then he asked if he could watch TV. And then he asked if we could go home, where he had two gifts of things to do while sitting awaiting him.

Although there was an unexpected surprise just after Ben was called from the waiting area to get ready for the tonsillectomy: He was the model for a new wagon the surgery department has to take kids back for procedures. I signed a release and the hospital marketing lady snapped pictures as the nurse wheeled him down the hallway.

Of course, that was just the photo shoot. His actual surgery came later – and went well.

My boy had his tonsils and adenoids removed. The ENT also removed the ear tubes that were on their way out while he was in there. I’m hoping this is the last procedure for Ben for a while.

In January 2014, he was diagnosed as being allergic to trees, grass, weeds, and dust mites. He started allergy shots for that later that same month. Related, he got ear tubes in February 2014. All of that has helped him tremendously.

But since April 2014, he’s had strep throat seven times – and of those five times since Christmas, specifically. He’s had a history of strep other years too, but not has frequently as the past year.

So the tonsils needed to go and ENT recommended taking the adenoids while he was in there.

I’ve been on board with this plan since before we even went to an appointment with the ENT earlier this month. My biggest concern is keeping him from running or climbing or jumping for at least a couple weeks.

Today he doesn’t feel great – his throat is sore and he doesn’t want to use his voice much. But he’s not complaining. He’s resting on the couch, watching movies, eating Popsicles, and obliging me with my many requests that he take a sip of apple juice.

And you know I’m sympathetic because I made animal-shaped Jell-o Jigglers with a mold I’ve almost tossed so many times. I had to read the instructions because I couldn’t remember how to make Jell-o, much less Jigglers.

But I imagine he’ll want to run around sooner than the doctor wants him to – which, really, is to be expected while mothering a boy.
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Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Tale of the Missing Library Book


Long before Goodreads existed, I remember keeping track of every book I read each summer and earning rewards each time I turned in the list at the local public library. I loved books then as a kid and I love them now as an adult. There are books everywhere in my house – yes, I prefer they live on bookshelves, but, well, kids …

Speaking of kids, mine love books.

My daughter reads so fast that when she first started devouring chapter books, I would ask her many questions about the plot. I wanted to make sure she was really reading. But she always answers my questions with great detail.

I didn’t know if Ben would love books because it took him longer to sit still to listen to a whole book while we read and held him in our laps. But he likes books too. He doesn’t read yet, but he remembers pictures and stories from the books we read to him.

One of my favorite scenes of motherhood happens when I’m cooking: The kids sit on the couch together and Ben lets Cate read to him. Perhaps I should say, Cate chooses to read to him. It depends on the day, you know, but when this happens my heart melts.

So, obviously, we like books around here. That means sometimes we go to the library.

But, really, the public library isn’t my favorite place. That’s a mom confession right there for you.

I’m sorry if this disappoints you, coming from a writer and a reader. But it’s true. And I’m not sure when I started not liking the library, although the public library of my current life is not the one I grew up going to.

I’m a first-born, rule-follower to a fault. But our library has too many rules – about story time and summer reading and missing library books. And the rule-enforcers – oh, well, most anyone who works at our library – don’t really seem to enjoy their jobs.

So that boy of mine lost a library book. For a while, we searched for it. {In hindsight, I should have renewed it over the phone during that time in case we did in fact find it.} But we didn’t find it. Ben even started saying he thinks he left it somewhere, maybe the doctor’s office. He did tote it around, which as a reader makes me happy but as a boy mom makes me nervous.

A few weeks later when I realized “Emmet's Awesome Day” was officially lost and nobody at the doctor’s office or wherever else Ben possibly left the book returned it for us, I went to the library and confessed I owed them some money for the missing book.

I knew I was going to overpaying for a book that could be replaced. I knew we were responsible for not returning what we borrowed. But I took my kids, money and confession to the library desk.

Turns out, the library worker wouldn’t take my money or tell me what I owed. Apparently only two people who worked there could handle said transaction. And they weren’t there.

So we left. I’m sure my girl had an arm-full of Boxcar Children Mysteries. I know Ben didn’t have any books because, well, his account was in poor standing for the moment, you know, because they wouldn’t take my money.

Really, what kind of government entity won’t take a citizen’s money?

I decided to order a copy of “Emmet's Awesome Day” from Amazon. In fact, I was able to order the library binding edition. For $12.19. When this arrived two days later, I went back to the library and told a different worker that I bought it to replace the one my son lost.

She said she couldn’t take it because that wasn’t the process to acquire new books. Y’all, it was exactly the same as the one we lost. Well, actually, it was nicer because it was newer. They just needed to slap some barcodes on the hard cover.

“I can see if the acquisitions librarian can tell you about the process,” the library worker offered.

“No, if you won’t take the book it doesn’t matter. Can you tell me what I owe?” I said.

Without hesitation, she quickly told me I owed $22.96 – even though she wasn’t one of the two people previously mentioned as having high enough clearance to disclose my required fine and take my money. Yet she told me and took my cash anyway.

And then she told me to hold on while she made a copy of the receipt she’d just written by hand on a carbon receipt pad. Y’ALL, SHE MADE A COPY OF A RECEIPT THAT HAD A CARBON COPY.

The public library that already wasn’t my favorite place became an even less desirable place. Oh, now Ben also has a new copy of “Emmet's Awesome Day” and if we happen to find the missing copy we get to keep that one too.

Great, because, well, we do like books and that’s one less we have to check out of the library.
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I'm linking this post with Mary Carver's Works for Me Wednesday because, ironically, the public library doesn't really work well for me but books most certainly do and with Anna Rendell's Mom Confessions

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Thursday, April 23, 2015

9 Ways to Fundraise for Your Adoption

Our first picture as a family of four. 11.23.09.

“So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up — one on one side, one on the other — so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword. Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it …’” 


We all need people to come along side us to be successful – and those who are involved in our victories need to be remembered. Moses needed Aaron and Hur. You’ll need your friends and family throughout your adoption process – or, well, anything you’re going through in life.

Raising money for adoption – like anything – can be overwhelming. You may become weary. You’ll need the prayers of others. Hopefully some friends will take some of the responsibility from you and encourage you take time to refresh yourself.

Wherever you are in the fundraising process, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Let people into your family’s story.

Now, for some ideas for adoption fundraisers ...

1. Yard sale – We had people donate items that we sold. In a few hours on one Saturday morning, we raised more than $500. Be sure to tell you people why you’re raising money.

2. Prom event – A friend of ours organized a prom and we all wore dresses that we had from weddings or found at Goodwill. Each couple paid admission. We all had fun together – and, yes, we reminisced about our actual proms.

3. Spaghetti dinner – I’ve seen this done for a mission fundraiser. Spaghetti doesn’t cost much and goes a long way. Get some salad, bread and dessert and you can provide a nice meal that people will be happy to pay for. You could also incorporate a silent auction with donated items.

4. Crafts, Etsy shops, cookies – Put your talents to work! A friend of mine sold Cookies in a Jar – dry ingredients for a delicious cookie in a cute jar. I like the recipe and idea so much, I’ve used it to make gifts. There are many Etsy shops selling T-shirts, jewelry, prints and other crafts to benefit people’s adoptions. You can custom design T-shirts at Tee Spring. Mudlove.com also has bracelets people can use for fund-raisers to benefit their own projects while helping fund clean water in Africa.

Here are a few of my favorites :: Jen Ruble's Adopting Nations shop has cute, handmade pillowcases, blankets, and other fabric goods. Megan Negrete is raising money for her family's adoption by selling beaded jewelry in her Slowly by Slowly shop. Lisa Larson sells beautiful prints and T-shirts at The Copper Anchor shop.
Another fund-raising note: Lisa is my friend whose family was featured at Raising Up One, which helps one family a month with creative fundraising through auctions and sharing their story.

5. Skills – Lisa Larson also can be hired for graphic design projects {She did my blog redesign!} that directly benefit her family’s adoption fund. Katie Reid is a singer who recorded a CD that she sells.

6. Letters – Send letters directly to people who may want to be involved in your adoption with prayer or financial support.

7. Grants – There are local and national ministries that offer adoption grants. Hope That Binds does that as does my church, Christian Community Church. Nationally, Steven Curtis Chapman’s Show Hope does.

8. Puzzles – People can buy a puzzle piece that will be part of a whole puzzle the child can have. Usually, each piece has the person’s name and maybe other information on the back. It’s a lovely symbol of people coming together for one child.

9. Direct sales parties – Work with a consultant for a direct sales company like Thirty-One, Vibella Jewelry, Trades of Hope, Pampered Chef to organize a fundraising party.

I know several families in various stages of their adoption processes. I’m sure they’d love more fund-raising ideas so feel free to share yours in the comments! AND if you're in the midst of a specific adoption fundraiser, share that too so people can support you. 
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After I drafted this post earlier this week, I read this encouraging article :: 4 Simple Steps to Successful Adoption Fundraising.

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Three Word Wednesday :: Rhythms of Grace



“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
{Matt. 11:28-30 in The Message}

I’ve read these verses many times. I know and believe them in my head – but my heart is hearing them right now. When life is full, I tend to want to grasp anything – everything? – and hold on so very tightly. I end up suffocating good things.

I don’t want to do that this time. I want to embrace this season and know God is with me, teaching me to trust him moment by moment. God knows it’s easier for me to trust him with the big things than with the ordinary moments.

What God has been teaching me in my everyday life was echoed this past Saturday at an adoptive moms retreat I was helping lead.

I definitely consider myself a writer and not a speaker so I hesitate to say I was helping. But I volunteered to help Hope That Binds’ founder Wendy Wilson with this event. Organizing and planning are my strengths but speaking in front of a group – even a small group as this one was – is out of my comfort zone.

So I prepared for three sessions – one was about peace and waiting for the adoptive mommas waiting to bring babies home. The two others were for roundtables: Fundraising Ideas for Adoption and How to Find Alone Time as a Mom. Well, we ended up only have time for one roundtable and that meant I shared fundraising ideas. But only one person needed that message so we ended up sitting on a couch and talking.

Y’all, the fact I had prepared to talk more than I ended up doing was such a blessing.

I don’t say that because speaking to a group makes me nervous. I say that because my soul needed to hear these other women’s stories. I shared my family’s adoption story that was a faith journey for me like I do sitting at the table with friends. And they shared about peace and waiting and adopting and living. The whole day was an ongoing conversation that God led.

I had prepared to serve and ended being served. {Tweet that.}

Along with the conversations, two volunteers loved on all the moms – including Wendy and me – with delicious breakfast and lunch, more snacks that we could want, and gifts. Toward the end of the day, we all took an hour to spend with God however we wanted. I journaled and read and prayed.

As I drove home, I realized this is how serving others should be. Service doesn’t go one way. Service is about building relationships. Not everyone will become your best friend, but through serving others we get a chance to be part of building God’s kingdom. It begins here on earth by serving and loving each other and continues into an eternity.

I know life is full. But God showed me something about that during the retreat.

While watching a teaching by Beth Guckenberger, an adoptive mom and author who runs a ministry, I remembered those verses from Matthew. I remembered God wants us to live with him. He tells us to come to him and do life with him so we can learn the unforced rhythms of grace.

Then Guckenberger said something I needed to hear: There’s much talk about achieving a balanced life. But life isn’t balanced. Sometimes one thing demands more attention than the other things. There can be a rhythm even without balance – and God wants it to be an unforced rhythm of grace.

That one thing that is demanding your attention now? It’s probably not going to forever. And that’s the beauty of seasons. We have opportunities to serve and be served regardless of where we are and what we’re doing.
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Hey, #ThreeWordWednesday friends, I’m also giving away a copy of Christy Nockel’s new {live!} worship album called “Let It Be Jesus.” I’d love for y’all to enter to win.
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Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Let It Be Jesus {review & giveaway}


I really love live music.

"Let It Be Jesus" is Christy Nockels' first live worship album, and I'm glad she decided to go this route. Especially because "Freedom Song," the opening track on the album makes me want to get up and dance.

Honestly, I don't like to dance, so you know a song is good when it makes me think about doing so.

I've been listening to "Let It Be Jesus" while I write and work at the computer and keep going back to my favorite first track, which is a celebration of salvation:"I was lost. Your mercy found me, called me from darkness, now I can see."

Here is a list of all the songs ::

1. Freedom Song
2. My Anchor
3. Everything Is Mine In You
4. The Wondrous Cross
5. Let It Be Jesus
6. Who Can Compare
7. Jesus, Rock Of Ages
8. If You Never
9. Leaning On You, Jesus
10. Find Me At The Feet Of Jesus
11. Wonderful Name

All the songs point to Jesus and remind the listener what really matters. Having these songs playing while I go about life, whether working at my computer or driving, brings a fresh perspective.
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ABOUT THE MUSICIAN :: As a worship leader for many years, Christy Nockels has been an integral part of Passion Conferences since its inception in 1997. She's seen first hand music sweep people into the presence of God in a powerful way. A pastor’s kid, who was born in Fort Worth and raised in Oklahoma, she grew up singing in church. She met her husband, Nathan, in 1993 at the Christian Artists Seminar in Estes Park, Co. They recorded an independent record with fellow worship leader Charlie Hall under the name Sons & Daughters that led to an invitation from Louie Giglio to participate in the first Passion conference in Austin.

Christy’s voice gained a national platform when she and Nathan formed the duo Watermark, recording four acclaimed albums before that musical season ended, paving the way for Christy’s solo career. In 2008, the couple moved to Atlanta to become part of Passion City Church, where she serves on the worship team with sixstepsrecords labelmates Chris Tomlin and Kristian Stanfill. The following year, Nockels released her acclaimed solo debut, "Life Light Up" and spent much of the next two years touring with Tomlin and Passion.

Find Christy and her music on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and iTunes.

ABOUT THE ALBUM :: Officially releasing April 28 from sixstepsrecord, "Let It Be Jesus" is Nockels' third album. Recorded at Passion City Church, this is Nockels' first live album.

GIVEAWAY :: Use the Rafflecopter below to enter to win your own digital copy of this fabulous worship album. A winner will be randomly selected on Tuesday, April 28.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Many thanks to Propeller Consulting/FlyBy Promotions for the opportunity to review this music and for providing the winner with a copy. If you've won another prize from Propeller/FlyBy in the last 30 days or this prize from another blog, you're not eligible for this giveaway. Opinions expressed here are mine. 

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Monday, April 20, 2015

Embracing Every Season


I’ve lived my whole life in Kentucky – where there are distinct seasons. It’s easier to like winter when I know spring really is coming. I love summer, but fall is always welcome after the long stretches of 95 degrees and a million percent humidity.

I applaud Mother Nature’s seasons, but I somehow still hesitate to embrace God’s seasons in my life. The creator and sustainer of time, God uses seasons to shape us and grow us.

Sure, waiting is hard sometimes, but God doesn’t waste that time. He wants us to worship him while we wait for the next season. Waiting may mean putting a dream on hold until God opens the necessary doors.

Sometimes life – especially with littles ones – seems like it’s made up for long days that make up short years. God wants us to treasure those days anyway. Parenting is a calling that God certainly uses to sanctify us and remind us to find him in the present moments.

Some seasons are hard and others are exciting. Regardless, God wants to depend on him and learn from our experiences. Those hard days grow our faith while the exciting ones give us opportunities to proclaim God’s faithfulness.

{Read the rest at Circles of Faith ...}
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I'm linking up with the Soli Deo Gloria Gathering, where real life and the seasons that come are embraced. 

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Thursday, April 16, 2015

10 Things I Learned While Camping {April 2015}


We went camping with our best friends the second weekend of Spring Break. It's funny, really, because I used to say I didn't like to camp and now I'm finding myself thinking about when we're going again. {See Facebook conversation for more thoughts on my preparations and opinions of camping.} But before next time happens, I want to document this time ... with a list, of course!

1. I don't like mice, but tent camping is okay. Yes, they're related.

The plan was for Jaclyn and I to sleep in the RV bed while our three girls slept on the sofa bed in the RV and our husbands and boys slept in tents. And then Friday evening I saw a mouse run beside the bed.

We’d seen evidence of a mouse – mice? – but I was choosing to be in denial it – they? – were still in the RV with us. But then I couldn’t un-see the mouse.

So I shared an air mattress bed with my husband. Yes, being outside trumped being inside with a mouse – even when the air mattress deflated. I spent the second night in the tent again – and this time the air mattress stayed inflated.

2. Having a massage appointment scheduled the day after arriving home from tent camping two nights is a good idea. Okay, so I didn’t plan it. But it worked out well, especially for my lower back.

Each month, I go to these massage appointments and Hannah the masseuse asks me if anything new is bothering me. I usually say, “No. Same tight neck and shoulders.”

But on this particular Monday my response was different: “Yeah, my lower back is killing me. I tent camped two nights.” She’d seen the tent camping part of the story on Facebook, so I’m guessing she wasn’t surprised. Apparently that air mattress – whether deflated or not – messed up my back and requires a follow-up appointment.

And here I was excited my sometimes nagging shoulder wasn’t bothering me after sleeping on the ground.

3. A Kindle makes for good nighttime reading – and doubles as a flashlight.

Well, yes, there was daytime reading too. 

I finished reading “Nobody's Cuter than You: A Memoir About the Beauty of Friendship” by Melanie Shankle, read “Footsteps” by Diann Mills and “Target” by Lisa Phillips, and started “Bait” also by Phillips. The two Lisa Phillips’ books are part of a fictional suspense series that had a little romance too.

4. Parenting one almost 8-year-old girl who is a people-pleasing rule-follower is a like a vacation. But I missed my 5-year-old second-born who likes to push every boundary and requires a constant, watchful eye, especially near the lake.

{Yes, this is part of how I did so much reading. See #9 for another reason.}

Ben was with Gran-Gran – aka The Best Mother-in-Law Ever – the first night of camping because he had been diagnosed with strep throat {yes, again … fifth time since Dec. 26} earlier that same day. The diagnosis came the day after we had been at the ENT scheduling his tonsillectomy for April 28. So he needed to be on an antibiotic until he hung out with other kids.

Gran-Gran and Ben had a splendid time that apparently involved flying a kite, eating ice cream, and watching a movie. Then she brought him out to our campsite by lunch time Saturday so he didn’t miss out on the camping fun.

5. I can text really long messages. And 25 years of friendship can happen across the miles.

Camping came on the heels of a Spring Break that gave me time to overanalyze and internalize too much. That led me wanting to chat and laugh and cry with Katie, whom I’d thankfully gotten to spend some time with the previous weekend when we were in Louisville. We had played phone tag and exchanged some texts, but we both apparently finally had time to converse Friday night. I didn’t have a strong or consistent-enough cell signal to talk to her, but texts were going through.

So that’s what we did. Sometimes that’s how life happens.

6. Bacon, sausage, pancakes, kabobs, burgers, and red potatoes are especially good cooked on the fire. And the husbands like to cook. Perhaps I should set up a campfire in the back yard. Enough said.

7. You can get sunburned in April. And, obviously, we didn’t think to pack sunscreen.

8. Camping requires so much preparation, but it's like a retreat once I'm out there. I used to think I didn’t like to camp. And until Friday I thought I didn’t tent camp. I’m glad I’ve accepted that I like to camp and I’m becoming better with the preparations.

9. Kids belong outdoors. Well, okay, maybe not forever and always, but when they're out there, they play and then sleep so well. This past weekend, they played tag and washers, fished, read, talked with their friends and other campers, and explored.

10. Having family friends really is the best. Yes, I got to spend the weekend with Jaclyn and most of Saturday with Sarah, but my kids and husbands got to hang out with some of their best friends too. Turns out camping is a fabulous way to make memories together.

Your turn! Tell me about your camping experiences.
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I'm linking up with Emily Freeman's Chatting at the Sky

Here are previous Things I Learned posts :: {From 2013} June. July. August. September. October. November. {From 2014} January. February. March. April. May. June. July. August. September. October. November. December. {From 2015} January. February. March

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Three Word Wednesday :: Life is real


Life has continued to feel full. Coming off Spring Break and specially camping this past weekend, real life has been, um, real. So real I couldn't even find time to get my Three Word Wednesday post written as early as usual. Like it’s screaming, “Welcome back from your relaxing weekend with friends!”

Let’s start with some mom confessions from the first part of this week. More to come on camping soon.

Monday afternoon I dropped off something at my friend's house and ended up chatting. Both kids ended up coming inside to use the bathroom. Yes, I think that was a unified excuse to get around my “Stay in the car, I’ll be right back.” So my friend and I chatted more.

We ended up staying an hour and a half. The kids even had a snack. And I left my van running with the windshield wipers on the entire time. Obviously Jenn and I need to get together more often.

That evening I was doing more laundry. Honestly, I was hoping when I washed Ben's filthy light-up tennis shoes they wouldn't light up anymore. Apparently those lights are durable; they still light up? At least his shoes are relatively clean again.

Surely I’m not the only mom who doesn’t understand the point of light-up shoes?

Meanwhile, I remembered Monday night at 6:48 p.m. that Cate left her tennis shoes – which do not light up, thankfully – in Louisville on Easter weekend. I knew this but had since forgotten because my mom was out of town and couldn't mail them to me yet. This is why I should have written down: “Get C new shoes.”

The timing of my remembering is important because Cate had gym class Tuesday morning so we made a quick evening trip to Walmart in the rain just as the kids were getting ready for bed and Greg was at one of his two meetings of the night. Less than five minutes in the store and $12.87 solved the problem. And we were back home at 7:07.

And then I was at Walmart again at 7:28 a.m. Tuesday to get a few things to aide in our moving furniture and stuff from our lake house that’s we’re supposed to be selling on Friday, officially. I don't even like Walmart.

Twelve hours after I arrived at our lake house we finally finished moving furniture and stuff around. We moved out my girl's too-small bunks and in a full-size bed; traded one recliner for another in our living room; stored a king bed, two sets of extra-long bunks, kitchen utensils and accessories in extra space at my husband's new office; donated stuff to sell in our Guatemalan mission team fundraiser and sheets and blankets to give Guatemala families; donated a few items to the local thrift store.

And, yes, we stopped to eat – twice.

I am grateful for our real-life friend Daniel who gave up his morning to help Greg take apart and load heavy furniture. He’s worth more than the lunch to which we treated him.

Y’all, it was exhausting and I was getting irritable, but all worth it when my daughter rejoiced about her new-to-her bed. It was bittersweet to move stuff from a lake house we loved but had to sell for circumstances related to our neighbors, over which I obviously have no control. {Ah, cue life lesson …}

All through the moving process I wore the same shirt I had started the day before wearing and then also slept in. Honestly, I had no idea moving and storing and organizing and purging and donating would take all day, literally. I had visions of taking a shower after lunch.

But, hey, that's one less shirt to add to the never-ending laundry.

Life is real.

Sometimes the car sits running in a friend’s driveway while conversation happens. Sometimes tasks take way longer than anticipated and shirts are well overdue for their turn in the washing machine. But whatever the season, it’s safe to say, it won’t be like this for long.
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I'm also linking with Anna Rendell's Girl With Blog, where real life is embraced beautifully and mom confessions are encouraged. 

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Three Word Wednesday :: Fullness versus busyness


My friend Kayse and I were chatting about our ordinary lives recently and she commented that it sounded like a full week in a good way.

She nailed it.

My life feels full right now.

But I'm learning full is different and healthier than busy.

We have some boundaries on our lives. The kids are allowed one extracurricular activity at a time. We make every effort to eat dinner together, even if that's at Subway after soccer practice.

We just got back from a fun visit to Louisville, where we hung out with my mom, my brother and his family, and my dear friend of almost 25 years Katie and her boys. We had an impromptu visit with a high school friend and his wife who were in town and joined us just in time for Kentucky’s Final Four game. We’re going camping with our best friends this weekend.

We are fundraising for a Guatemala trip, planning birthday parties because three of the four of us have birthdays within two weeks from late April to early May, engaging with local ministry opportunities, and making time to be with family and help friends.

These things fill our calendars but I’m not letting any of them go right now. I believe in everything we’re doing right now. And I believe we’re supposed to be doing it.

Seasons come and go in life. Not every one will feel this full. {Tweet that.}

Trips are temporary but worth the journey. Our birthday celebrations will be over before school is out for the summer, but these are part of the memories of our lives. We come home from Guatemala on July 11, but I know we’ll have a new perspective.

With the fullness comes unique opportunities to see God working – especially in my recovering perfectionist self.

Within the fullness, I've been able to find some stillness. Recently I told my friend Jen sometimes rest comes in chunks of time following a packed day. Right now, Mondays and Wednesdays tend to be fuller than Thursdays. The summer is bound to look different. And then in August both my kids will be in school full time.

I know I need the time to take deep breathes, do laundry, and regroup my soul, so I clear out time for that. Some evenings I need to clean off the kitchen table before I sit down on the couch because it keeps me from being stressed out. But sometimes the dishes sit next to the sink for a day or two.

I don't say yes to every good thing. And not every good thing in our lives is forever. {Tweet that.}

That's the beauty of seasons. Remembering that helps me embrace my full life right now.
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I'm also linking up with the weekly Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood Gathering

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Friday, April 3, 2015

Mom Confessions :: A Peek into Real Life


Social media can be intimidating and frustrating because everyone puts a false fa├žade on their lives. NOBODY has it all together so I like when people post real-life photos and tell stories of imperfection and grace. There’s nothing as encouraging as someone coming along side and saying, “Me too.”

That’s why I’ve loved Anna Rendell’s “Mom Confessions” on Facebook and now her blog. I’ve used #reallife some on Instagram myself. Mommas, let’s be in this life together and not competing for who can look like we have it all together.

In no particular, some recent mom confessions ::

1. Ben cheered – literally – when I tossed a package of bologna in the grocery cart at his request. Best $1 I’ve spent in a long time. That evening my kids ate bologna sandwiches for dinner at 4:30 today because they were "starving."
2. I assumed my kids could wear their soccer cleats from last year. Um, no way. Their feet have grown exponentially. So the day of the first practice, I bought them new cleats while they were at school. All was good – except I bought Cate baseball cleats. I knew they didn’t look right, but they were her size so I just scooped them up. And then returned them and bought the right ones the next day.
3. Ben doesn’t nap much anymore, but recently I needed him to nap for my own well-being and because we had plans that would keep us out later than usual that night. Hello, March Madness. So I bribed Ben with the promise of ice cream if he napped. He did. He got ice cream. And I might do it again.
4. With the bus service that exists now, I only pick up Cate at school on Fridays. But two Fridays in a row I had trouble remembering this. One week I didn’t remember until it was time to be there. It’s 15 minutes away. So I called a friend to ask her to tell the teacher at the door that I was coming, eventually. My friend Julie volunteered to bring Cate toward me because she had some errands to run. So I picked up my daughter in the Walmart parking lot. 
The next week, Ben was sick so I made him a doctor’s appointment. I made it with my favorite nurse practitioner, but then I realized I wouldn’t have time to get Cate from school on time. So I called Julie. She rescued me again – although she had more warning this time. I now have timers set on my phone to remind me when and where to pick up Cate.
Of course, I haven't forgotten where to be since I set up the timers, but, you know, better safe than sorry!
5. Hello, Spring! I used baby wipes to wash off my 5-year-old son, who is allergic to trees, grass and weeds. He'd been outside for hours playing that day and we let him stay up late while we watched basketball. No time for a shower.
6. I pulled into my kids' school that is 12 miles away recently and realized my gas light was on. Their school is in a tiny neighboring town with no gas station. I had no idea if I would make it back without running out of gas. I did, thankfully. 
7. Each Christmas I get out the bin with the GeoTrax Santa Train and Little People Nativity. They kids are always excited for these toys to come back out. Since December, my 5-year-old Ben and his friends who are often at our house have loved building and playing with it so much that these seasonal toys are still in my living room. Perhaps they’ve found a semi-permanent home there. The Christmas train is now connected with the Cars GeoTrax.

Fellow mommas, let’s share the ordinary in a real way. Let’s encourage one another. Let’s laugh together. And let’s remind one another we are not alone. {Tweet that.}

{And, yes, feel free to share your own mom confessions in the comments.}
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I'm linking up with Anna Rendell at Girl With Blog, who encourages real-life mom confessions, and Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood's weekly gathering, where women are encouraged to come as they are. 

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Buried Secrets :: A Review


When a favorite fiction author has a new book, I just dive in. With “Buried Secrets,” Irene Hannon dives right into the story. And I like it that way.

The first in a new series, I enjoyed getting to know new characters. Lisa Grant is a former Chicago homicide detective now working as a small-town police chief. Her call for assistance brings in Mac McGregor, an ex-Navy SEAL who works for another local department. They work together to solve the mystery – one that begins with the discovery of some human remains and continues with a suspect who wants that secret to remain buried.

Personally, I love St. Louis and like a favorite city of mine as the setting of this novel. Plus, the story briefly goes to Paducah, Kentucky – which is just about 45 minutes from my home in Murray. I like the local references, even if it’s implied the character settled for less by living in small-town Kentucky because of how the buried secret affected him.

McGregor’s brothers – also special forces operatives – make appearances when they’re stateside and I’m looking forward to getting to know them in Hannon’s future installments of the Men of Valor series.

“Buried Secrets” is a quick read because Hannon’s story is engaging and leaves readers wanting to know the outcome – for both the case and personal lives of the detectives. And now it has me eager for the second book of the series. Well done, Irene Hannon.
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ABOUT THE BOOK :: The first in the Men of Valor series, “Buried Secrets” is published by Revell and officially releases next week. 384 pages.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR :: Irene Hannon is the bestselling author of more than 45 novels, including “That Certain Summer,” “One Perfect Spring,” and the Heroes of Quantico, Guardians of Justice, and Private Justice series. Hannon and her books have been honored with numerous awards. She lives in Missouri. Learn more about her at www.irenehannon.com.
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Thanks to Revell Reads for an advanced copy of this book to review. The opinions here are my own.

I'm linking up with Jessica Turner's Fringe Friday because reading is how I like to spend my fringe hours, which are pockets of time carved out for self-care. 

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Three Word Wednesday :: Friends for Life


Cate was making her 8th birthday party plans, including a list of who she wanted to invite. This was after I talked her out of having a second consecutive Frozen-themed party. Really, I like Anna and Elsa as much as the next momma who knows the whole soundtrack by heart, but, been there, done that. Let’s let it go …

Anyway, I was reading the list of her school friends and our church friends and the friends she’s known her whole little life because their mommas and I are friends and then paused. “Who's Alex?" I asked, genuinely having no idea how this little girl made it on my daughter’s party list.

“You know, my friend from preschool?" She said, seemingly baffled why I didn’t know that.

Um, yeah, the one we have seen once in the past three years. “Oh, I think we better stick with the friends we see regularly.”

And then I realized she’s just like me when it comes to friendships.

When I make a friend, I want to be friends for life. {Tweet that.}

I’ve learned the hard way that’s not always true. People move and change and get busy. We celebrate our birthdays with co-workers and then move onto different jobs. We have playdates with friends from preschool and then each family enrolls in different schools for kindergarten.

We date and break up and go to college and play sports and get married and start careers and plant churches and move again and have babies and take care of our homes and go on vacations and start businesses and mother our kids and help our closest friends through hard days and pursue dreams.

Sometimes friendships change simply because of circumstances.

Some friendships have surprise endings that break our hearts.

Some friendships weather the seasons of life and change with us.

Of course, there are times friendships are unhealthy and people need to part ways.

Some friendships can pick up where they left off – even with many days, months or even years between visits.

Sometimes friendships change because of logistics but we still miss what used to be.

My daughter, who is nearing the end of second grade, wanted to invite her preschool friends with whom we haven’t stayed in contact to her birthday party. I get that. I want to gather all my people from different times in my life together in one place.

That’s why my wedding reception will always be one of my favorite places. Of course, I’ve made friends since Greg and I tied the knot more than 12 years ago. So, I like Facebook because most everyone I’ve ever known is right there, sharing their dinner choices and their days. Like a virtual reception. My high school friends reminisce about how we’re old. My kids’ friends’ parents and I make connections. My church friends share needs. My college friends talk about how we wish we saw more of each other. My writing friends and I can brainstorm together and encourage one another regardless of where we live.

Just recently an old friend who was instrumental in me knowing Jesus sent me a Facebook message out of the blue. We haven’t spoken in years – probably more like a decade – but it was good to hear a brief update from him. “Just reflecting on my wonderful childhood and high school years. So glad to have formed a friendship with you! … Christ is still my center, even in the industry I work in. Funny how God puts us in unique environments to serve His purpose.”

That speaks so much to friendship, which exists in the present but encompasses so much of the past. And like my friend’s perspective on his job, God puts friends in our lives to serve his purpose. Sometimes that means the timing isn’t what we would prefer, but we can reminisce knowing good was done. Friends are part of the stories of our lives. {Tweet that.}
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I recently read a couple posts by writing friends that prompted me to think about friendships in my lives. Read what Holley Gerth had to say about three different kinds of friends and how Mary Carver reflects on how not all friends are forever.

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."