Monday, September 9, 2019

Risen Motherhood by Emily Jensen and Laura Wifler (book review)

I've been an avid listener of the Risen Motherhood podcast for about three years, since it's beginnings or pretty close to it (maybe I was behind but motherhood affects my memory so forgive me for having bad timelines). Anyway, I love every second of the podcast, from the jingle to Emily and Laura's laughs and honesty. It's just everything I would want a podcast to be - quick, thoughtful, and about Jesus.

When they said the Risen Motherhood book was coming out, I jumped at the chance to be on the launch team. Emily Jensen and Laura Wifler are my BFFs that I've never met. I can relate to each of them very well in terms of motherhood, writing (although they obviously are more serious about theirs than I), and trying to be a mom/wife/friend/person who follows Jesus and looks at life through the gospel lens.
image via Risen Motherhood launch team
I received an advanced e-book copy of the book. It was very exciting to have the material but I learned one thing - I hate e-books. I just cannot make it through one as quickly as I can a hard copy book! I don't know what that is? It's very frustrating because I loved the material and writing in the book but had a hard time wanting to read it once I stopped because of the copy. As soon as I got my actual copy of the book - BAM, it was done! So take that for what it is, I prefer the book itself to flip through.

As for the material of the book, whoa - this is just one of the best books I could ever recommend. The format of the book is one of my favorite things. If you're familiar with the podcast, it follows the metanarrative of Scripture: the creation, fall, redemption, and consummation (which was a term I had not heard of prior to listening to their podcast). I like the familiar so it's nice to go through that expected format when reading.
image via Amazon
I couldn't pick a favorite chapter if I tried. The closest I could come would be the chapter on special needs children: "The Gospel and our Children with Differences." I feel both gals (who both have kids with special needs) do a terrific job of protecting the privacy of their children while also diving deep into the heart of what it's like to mother a kid with special needs. Having a couple kids with a couple different special needs myself, this chapter is just near and dear. It's not a topic a lot of people would tackle or tackle with such a positive outlook. This is not a "You can do it, you're super mom!" kind of rhetoric we get from the world, but this is a "God is good, even when this is hard, and He is with you" kind of message that we special needs moms really need. A can-do attitude doesn't help me when my son has seizures or anxiety, but Christ does help me. I need this perspective. Every mom needs this perspective. How do you mom without Christ? I couldn't.

The only thing I dislike about this book is that it's taken so long for it to be written. And it could be a million pages longer. I'm so thankful for this ministry and this book and these ladies bringing my focus back to Christ all the time.

Disclaimer: I did receive an advanced e-book copy of the book for being on the launch team but I bought my own hard copy to get that deal. All opinions are my own and may differ from your own. Some links are to Amazon Smile and if purchased through that link, you would be supporting Emmaus University in Haiti.

Friday, August 16, 2019

The Cranky Mom Fix by Becky Kopitzke (book review)

For 12 years now I've been a mom who struggles with my temper, my patience. God has grown me in many ways in this area and yet I haven't conquered this sin. Now, hear me, the emotions I feel (anger, annoyance, frustration, etc) are not sins, but my reactions to them are. I've read several books in the past to help my growth, and The Cranky Mom Fix by Becky Kopitzke is among my very favorites.

The subtitle is exactly the thing I want in my life: "Get a Happier, More Peaceful Home by Slaying the 'Momster" in All of Us." I'll admit it - I'm a Momster. My kids have endured my grown up temper tantrums more than they ever deserved. Yes, they disobey and hit one another and such things that children do, but my reactions haven't been the most gentle (once in awhile, I'll get a Holy Spirit controlled victory where my actions show the fruit in my life!). 

In The Cranky Mom Fix, Kopitzke breaks things up into sections. The first section is about us, our triggers, what we can do instead, self-care, etc. The second section is about our kids: meeting them where they are, respect, and family meetings. The next section is about discipline and family rules. Finally, there is the section on F.U.N. Each section in my book is marked up with highlights and notes and dog-eared pages. I've printed off things from her website and hung them on our walls.

What I liked: I enjoy books that I can take practical ideas from and implement them right away. This has little sections that are separate from the main text of the book (off set by a gray background) with very practical ideas, examples, tips.

There is so much to like in this book but I'm going to share just a few things that stuck hard in my heart. Looking at my triggers, I realized that I have a lot of them. With those triggers, I can practice gentle answers. "[Example] 'Hurry up! We're going to be late!' OR [Gentle Translation] 'Let's have a race! See if you can get your jacket on faster than I can." I think of phrases that I would usually holler or bark, I can write them out beforehand to use at the appropriate time. It's like pre-teaching myself!

image via
Another thing from the book I'm already implementing are her three family rules: 1) Obey the first time (or Obey Fast for young children), 2) No disrespectful talk, and 3) No hurting someone on purpose (physically or emotionally), and P.S. Always Show Love. These encompass so much of our mom troubles (there's a printable version of these rules on her website)! With these rules come a 3 checkmark enforcement policy. The first two checkmarks are for training and then with the 3rd checkmark (broken rule), there is something taken away - something that hurts. My Princess has been without her little toy princesses a few times since establishing this in our home (she has a tendency to not obey by way of the slowest obedience possible and her mouth gets her into trouble), my oldest son is not enjoying his video game free day. I'm not 100% great at enforcing this - I have always tended to dole out consequences right away (sometimes that is appropriate) but I think this is a good tool to dig deeper in training with my kids, being intentional with helping them put off their old behavior and learn to put on the behavior that is expected (while being sure the heart is hearing and learning this above all...we don't want behavior modification!). I'm working on this one but I do love the simplicity of the rules. 

Another last thing I will share (although, I'm telling you that this book has a deep well of knowledge and practical tips for you) is F.U.N. - being sure your house is Forgiving, Unexpected, and Nurturing. Our kids will buck just about anything we teach them if we don't show them forgiveness and grace. I need to be sure my home is safe for mistakes; they know they won't get harsh words or treatment for being kids (or even fools learning). God doesn't treat us that way. Unexpected fun - a day of "yes" or ice cream for supper - not all the time, but fun brings about joy! We want to be people our kids want to hang out with, people that they want to bring friends home to. And nurturing their interests is so important to creating a relationship with our kids. I don't always share the interests of my kids and I don't always want to play with them or read to them when they want me to (all the time). However, I hope that by creating shared interests or at least intently listening to their interests, that will lead to open conversations later in life about things that matter.
image via
What I didn't like: I don't share the same discipline style as Kopitzke. I am wary of discipline styles that completely dismiss other styles. I think that too often, so-called "grace based" discipline doesn't really discipline.

Overall, I really loved this book. I took away so many points, I'll need to re-read it again, which never happens! I don't normally want to go back and read books again. But I have a wide age gap in my children and so what works for my first "set" of kids may not work for my second "set" so I can go back through the book and mine some more gems.

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. All opinions are my own and may differ from your own. 

Monday, July 1, 2019

The Very Best, Hands-On, Kinda Dangerous Family Devotions by Tim Shoemaker (book review)

How can you not be tempted by a book with that title?! And tempted in a good way because family devotions are a good, godly thing! But, let's be honest, they can get to be dull. And frustrating (probably for kids, but definitely for parents). Have you ever sat your kids down and have this grand plan in your head of how they are going to revel in your wisdom and worship songs, just raising their hands singing to the Lord. No? Just me? Moving on...

Anyway, Tim Shoemaker's The Very Best, Hands-On, Kinda Dangerous Family Devotions brings you an answer to the dull. The 52 devotions found in this book can be called many things but not dull. They are activities that get your kids involved and center around Christ.
image via Baker Book House
My family hasn't had the book long so we haven't done many of the fact, we've done one. It was "Christianity and the $2 Bill;" the theme: "A true relationship with Christ changes everything and should make us inseparable from Christ. I happened to have $2 bills saved back for the kids so the prep was nothing for me! We talked about how a $2 bill has a little something that makes it more valuable than 2 $1 bills - it's rare and unique. You use the $1 bill to showcase how we are our own people most of the time - spending ourselves the way we want. We feel like our own master but in reality, we were slaves to sin (Romans 6:17-18). The $2 bill "represents our being forever joined together with Christ (Romans 6:19-22). The book suggests giving each kid their own $2 bill as a reminder to remain in Christ throughout the week - I kept theirs for save keeping and hung one up on our bulletin board. 

It was a nice, quick, easy devotional for us. I know they are not all like that. This one was too long and too dull for my 4-year-old but the big boys seemed to understand and maintain some interest. It helped I passed out candy while they were listening.

One thing I dislike about this book - and it's not the book's fault, but just the life season I'm in - is that it demands preparation. Lame, I know. But with kids 12, 10, 4, and 1, life is just chaos - even when we don't have outside activities. So the devotions I'm looking at doing next are ones that require less prep. That's not to say they won't be just as foundational and fun. Plus, my big boys are easily impressed, which is a bonus for me.

I'm going to move on to the Pick Your Poison devotion. Each devotion has a theme; this one is "Dangers of compromising, letting the world seep in." You go to the grocery store to the cleaning aisle (with your kids). They have 15 minutes to "record as many product names as they can that contain some kind of warning like 'poison...'" Then you go home (or, the devotional says, out to eat is better so kids don't scatter when you get home). The lesson talks about how a grocery store is full of good food but in the middle of this good food are products harmful to us, some that could even kill us. We teach the kids about toxic friendships and other examples of things that may be toxic to a Christian.

That's one of the tamer devotionals. Others include items like fire, squirt guns, Jell-O brains, dry ice, going to the cemetery or funeral home, and making or using a potato gun. Like I said, I am starting with the tamer ones with less prep because of my season of life, but I've read through almost all of them and I can't wait to do more! There are some that are dangerous or are for older kids, but there is so much put into this book to help you as a parent lead.

I feel like this would be a great thing for youth pastors and leaders to use to help teach kids also. So could be a great gift for them!

I could go on and on but I think you'll just have to get your own copy to start on these adventurous devotionals with your family!

Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own and may not be the same as yours. Links in this blog post link to AmazonSmile where, if you chose to purchase via this link, you would be supporting Emmaus University in Haiti.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Cave Tools Pigtail Flipper (review)

It's summer. I don't know about your family, but we enjoy a good, juicy burger from the grill. Almost everything tastes better off the grill (I'll put a disclaimer that I haven't tried everything on the grill so maybe something doesn't taste better this way). Big A & I switch off who grills; I enjoy it as much as he does, but often he does the grilling because I'm doing something else at the same time. 

Cave Tools kindly let us try out their pigtail flipper. It's a handy little tool to flip things on the grill (or inside, I guess, although I haven't done that yet). It's mostly advertised as a bacon flipper - or that's what I think of it as. Big A tried it out on the grill flipping burgers. I'd say they flipped over without the small pieces coming off when you use a traditional spatula flipper.  And very handy to reach back for those back burgers (or hotdogs or vegetables or whatever). 

While I haven't used it inside yet, I plan to use it often with my Instant Pot (tonight, in fact). Or with bacon inside (we don't have a griddle for our grill to do this outside although I imagine grilled bacon to be amazing). I'm very happy with this little gadget and I'm thankful to have the Cave Tools 

He also found another use for it - to dispose of stinky diapers. This is not recommended but funny. 

You can find your own pigtail flipper on Amazon or the Cave Tools website. You can also use this handy dandy coupon code for 15% off your pigtail flipper: Flipper15 . Perhaps this is an idea for Father's Day (which is this Sunday!). You can't go wrong with 15% off and a Lifetime Satisfaction Guarantee! 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Duck Commander Happy, Happy, Happy Stories for Kids by Korie Robertson and Chrys Howard (children's book review)

My family loves Duck Dynasty. It's been awhile since we watched it (always re-runs for us on an app or something), but we enjoy the laughs. They don't take themselves too seriously and they pray on television - big plus for us! Are there any other recent ones that do that without mocking Christians? 

My husband and I have read almost all the books published by the adults of the show. He really enjoys Phil's books. I have liked all the ones I've read! Since our big boys (ages 9 and 11) enjoy the show, I thought Duck Commander Happy, Happy, Happy Stories for Kids by Korie Robertson and Chrys Howard (her mom) would be great for us! We were just finishing up Bob Goff's Love Does for Kids devotional. My kids loved that - my 3-year-old daughter asked to "read Bob" constantly. I was hoping for the same with this devotional. 

image via Book Look

What I like about this book: Like I said, I like the Duck Commander family. I like what they stand for (Jesus), I like their sense of humor about things. Happy, Happy, Happy Stories for Kids lives up to that faith and that laughter. The stories are cute. 

The layout of this book is neat. There's the story. Then a "What Does the Bible Say?" page with a verse, reminiscent of Veggie Tales and QWERTY (looks nothing alike but makes me think of that). Then there's a "Let's Talk About It" quiz page with questions about the story itself. Last is "Duck Commander in Action" section that ties the story closer to God instead of just a cute story. 

What I dislike about this book: The illustration is not great. You can tell which adult is which but I think the kids are harder to distinguish in cartoon form. 

The length of the story is long when added to the "Let's Talk About It" and "Duck Commander in Action" sections. We try to read things like this in the morning but we don't have time for this one in the morning before school. Maybe I'll continue trying this summer when our mornings are more relaxed. 

I dislike that it hasn't been a big hit in our house. I was anticipating it to be one that the kids all asked for, but it's not been the case. Not to say they dislike it - they listen and enjoy it while we are reading it. But between times, it's not like Love Does for Kids or Indescribable (by Louie Giglio). 

Why should you buy it: If you like Duck Commander and have kids 4-9, then this is a good fit for you. It may or may not be a big hit in your house - I can't foretell that. But it's a good book with good stories that point the way to Christ and loving one another. That's the goal! 

Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and may not be the same as yours. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Imperfection (and an Uglydolls trailer)

Growing up with a boys' name, Randi, was hard. Not like "real" problems, but for a sensitive child like me, it wasn't easy. I don't remember being picked on outright for it, but I always knew it wasn't a feminine name like Miranda (my favorite - couldn't I have been named that and just nicknamed Randi?!) or Jessica (the most popular name of my time) or Amy (the most popular girl in my class' name) or Brandi (my second option).

I remember there being a boy for one year in the grade above me named Randy. Ugh. That made it worse! I was probably in 4th or 5th grade - probably my most sensitive time (until junior high!). It didn't help that a neighbor girl called me Randall - I still hate that to this day so please don't call me that.

Then after Austin Powers came out...that was awful. Do you remember? "Are you randy?" I didn't even know that was a word outside of a name!! I remember being at a choir event and these boys teasing me about that. I was in high school at that time but still not confident in my name. I wanted so much to be liked at that point, it was incredibly embarrassing to me.

However, I love my name now. It came from my dad, who I love dearly. I love that legacy (although I didn't pass it along to my kids...). I love that he wanted to name me after him. It's definitely taken some getting used to and growing up into. It's beautiful and unique (around here, there aren't even little boys named Randy anymore really, although I heard of one a few weeks ago!). I've met several women around my age who are named Randi; it's something of a bond of being named after your dad.

May 3, a new movie is coming out called Uglydolls. I haven't decided exactly how I feel about this movie (I haven't seen it!) - I thought the trailer looked silly but I love reading the synopsis to hear the why behind such an odd looking movie.

image via GraceHill Media
In the adorably different town of Uglyville, weird is celebrated, strange is special and beauty is embraced as more than simply meets the eye. Here, the free-spirited Moxy and her UglyDoll friends live every day in a whirlwind of bliss, letting their freak flags fly in a celebration of life and its endless possibilities. The endearingly unique residents of Uglyville occasionally look to the sky above the town, where a new UglyDoll will appear and be embraced by the community.

Moxy (Kelly Clarkson) loves her square-peg life in this round-hole town, but her curiosity about all things leads her to wonder if there’s something – anything – on the other side of the mountain which nestles Uglyville. Moxy gathers a group of her closest friends and sets off to find what’s on the other side. They discover another world – Perfection – a town where more conventional dolls are trained in protocols before they graduate and are sent to the “real” world to find the love of a child.

In Perfection, Moxy and her crew are subject to the manipulations of Lou (Nick Jonas), the perfect doll in charge of training recruits. Here, the UglyDolls will confront what it means to be different, struggle with their desire to be loved, and ultimately discover that you don’t have to be perfect to be amazing because who you truly are is what matters most.  UGLYDOLLS releases in theaters this Friday, May, 3.

You can view the trailer below! It may look like an odd movie but I love when movies celebrate the special oddities we all bear. The Lord was so creative in making all of us so unique and special. Sometimes it helps to open up and bear the burdens of others' special qualities and quirks that help us embrace our own. 

Disclaimer: I received a gift card in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and may not be the same as yours. 

What Am I Feeling? by Dr. Josh and Christi Straub (children's book review)

Emotions are a normal part of life, but if not taught properly, they can run rampant over a person's life. God gave us emotions to signal us to things - anger when something is not right, sadness when hard times happen, happiness when life is peaceful and swell! However, as it's taken me a long time and many books to understand, our emotions do not have the right to control our responses.
image via B&H/LifeWay

This can be a difficult concept to teach children but a vitally important one. "What Am I Feelings?" by Dr. Josh and Christi Straub gives parents a tool to use when teaching this lesson to children. It's one you'll teach over and over again because this book is easy to love - characters that kids relate to, cute illustrations by Jane Butler, and an easy plot to follow. My Princess has brought it to me several times since it arrived for me to read to her.

What I liked: Like I mentioned, I like the illustrations by Jane Butler. They are simple and cute. Eye-catching for children. It is a likable story because the characters go through emotions and events that are common to children - someone gets their blocks knocked over (and they get mad); someone overreacts and yells at a friend, and that friend cries; a child is afraid of talking in front of his peers. These are so relatable - and generational! I think most of us can relate to the children in this story.

What I disliked: I wish all stories for children rhymed but that's just a preference. This story has fine writing along with it.

I was just at a friend's house today and she mentioned that her two-year-old is at a stage where his emotions are really big! This is one of those stories that will help parents explain to children that God has given us emotions, "what you feel matters, but it doesn't have to control you." I think this is such good verbiage for children to hear and understand. It really would pair well with "The Way I Feel" by Janan Cain.

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. All opinions are my own and may not be the same as yours. The links I use for AmazonSmile help support Emmaus University in Haiti. 

Friday, April 12, 2019

reading the Bible (+ a tv trailer)

A friend once said to me that she just wanted to "love her husband, not yell at her kids, and not lose her mind." Can I get a big "amen" to that?! Isn't that the truth? I've discovered over the past decade and more that the Bible really can help us in all of those areas!

I'm learning to read my Bible - not just read it but understand it, apply it to my life! She has helped me dig deep, ask questions, cross reference between passages, look at the historical background. Who, what, when, where, why? And I want others to know this ability to read and understand the Bible can happen without a seminary degree! Theology is for everyone! Even me!

I wanted to share some passages that have been meaningful to me the past few years. I don't have a "life verse" but this one may be pretty close, "But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content" (1 Timothy 6:8). I have a pretty envious streak and this reminds me that the Lord provides. Always has, always will. We have been in some pretty lean financial times but we've always had food and clothing, plenty. Our needs have always been met - even more than the physical needs, He has met my emotional needs over and over! 

image via Grace Hill Media

Ecclesiastes 3 (the whole thing but I'll just share verse 1) says, "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven." I have come back to this very popular verse the past few years because we've had some hard seasons. I wrote this piece last March (2018): "Today at Testimony Tuesday, Betsy taught about Ecclesiastes 3 - there is a time for every purpose under the heavens. She asked the question, "what time are we in now?" There are times I'd rather not go through - a time to break, weep, mourn, etc, and yet I have found myself in those times - overwhelmed, depressed. I mourn for things important - not going to Haiti, my son's epilepsy and future, my family's eternity. But I also mourn the trivial - not having this or that, not going here or there, not getting a break. Yet I think each of those drives me to my knees because I know only God can bring peace in the big and turn my eyes to Him int eh small. I am tired. I am overwhelmed. But God will meet me with grace in each of those circumstances. He will lead me to repent when I'm selfish or angry. He will allow me to be joyful for others when they get this or that or go here or there. Only Christ." I very much believe that. Only God knows what my son's future holds - will he have more seizures and other such worries. Only God can change the hearts of my family to Him. 

The book of James is probably my favorite book in the Bible (contending with Ruth). It is so practical! James 1:2-4 "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." That section has been one I cling to with my son's surgeries. I've also seen fruit from this - not that I'm complete and perfect, but that in the various kinds of trials I've seen God working. I've seen my faith grow more endurance. I've seen Him allow us to share that endurance and faith with others going through trials of various kinds. What grace is given so that we can come alongside others in their pain?! 

Lastly, the one I'm still working on over and over and over: James 1:19-22 "Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." I have such a tongue (set on fire by hell - James 3:6b)! It can be so encouraging - and cutting. James 3:9-11 says, "with it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so." Even take today, I yelled at my daughter over inconsequential things and tonight, with the same tongue, encouraged my son to fight the enemy with God's truth. It makes me feel like a huge hypocrite (and I know many unbelievers see us Christians as such) but I know that I'm a work in progress. I know that I'm being sanctified daily and it's through God's Word that it's happening. 

I'm always encouraged when there is coverage on the life of Christ on television. Even if they get it wrong (like in the movie Noah...oh dear), I hope that people will be intrigued enough to pick up a Bible and look for themselves. The History Channel has been showing a series on the life of Christ called "Jesus: His Life." The final episode and series finale airs Monday, April 15 just in time for Easter! I wanted to share the synopsis below: 

“Jesus: His Life” explores the story of Jesus Christ through a unique lens: the people in his life who were closest to him. Each of the eight chapters is told from the perspective of different biblical figures, all of whom played a pivotal role in Jesus’ life including Joseph, John the Baptist, Mary Mother of Jesus, Caiaphas, Judas Iscariot, Pontius Pilate, Mary Magdalene and Peter.

Each figure takes a turn guiding viewers through the emotional and epic story of the most famous man in history, through his birth, death and resurrection, all conveyed through a combination of scripted drama and interviews with prominent religious and historical experts. Utilizing some of the world’s most respected Biblical scholars, historians, faith leaders and theologians, the series weaves together the canonical Gospels, historical sources and cultural context to create a complete portrait of Jesus – the man and the Messiah.  The series finale airs this Monday, April 15 on The History Channel at 8pm ET/PT.

I encourage you to watch this series, to be intrigued, to open your heart and your Bible. Find out if He is who He says He is. Can He change your life? Can He impact you as He has done me? I know the answer is yes, but we all have to see for ourselves. Happy Easter! He is risen indeed!

Disclaimer: I received a gift card in exchange for this post. All of it is my opinion and may differ from your own. 

Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman (book review)

I can’t quite remember how I got Simply Tuesday in my hands. Probably a book review. But since the beginning of that book, I have adored it’s author, Emily P. Freeman. Reading that book was very pivotal in my life to see God in the ordinary, to live life as if God is in the simple things on a Tuesday. And so I am a fan of Emily P. Freeman. When she started her podcast, The Next Right Thing, back in 2017, I had my earbuds in and I listened to every word. I've possibly listened to every one of her podcast episodes since.

I never felt like I had decision fatigue but I really have been helped by the podcast. She walked with me through some hard times in my life: depression, my son’s second brain surgery, awful morning sickness, the birth of my fourth child, and the continuing every day chaos of life with four children.

When Emily announced that she was writing The Next Right Thing as a book, I was so thrilled. I have friends who are readers but not podcast listeners (and vice versa). I have probably recommended the podcast to every person I know, if for nothing else than to listen to Emily talk because she has a wonderful voice – my friend says it is hypnotic. But now my non-podcast listening friends can get the same depth, the same advice, the same breathing room for their souls. 

Reading through this book was like walking with an old friend. I was familiar with all of the content through the podcast but it was not full of worn out words. More like worn in, like a good pair of jeans (not the tight kind she talks about in the book haha). 

I have so many parts highlighted in the book, but I wanted to share just a few lines that I really love:

When I was going through a bout with depression, these words gave me hope. “If you feel stuck in a hopeless place today, I don’t want to rush you to joy. Maybe you need to spend a little time letting the darkness do what darkness does—nourish, strengthen, and hold. The darkness can invite us into a mystery, a place where we don’t know the answer. We know that seeds need to bury down deep in the ground, sometimes for a long, long time. Eventually, those seeds will break open and take root. But first they have to settle into the darkness. Still, that seed carries within it a narrative of hope. It just hasn’t lived into the whole story yet.” 

Having a child in middle school is a new experience for me. Being the mother of four children is a new experience for me. These lines were very encouraging to me, as I tend to be very hard on myself. “All of these are new beginnings, some joyful and some heartbreaking. But in all of these, you are a beginner. You have not been here before, with this particular set of circumstances, with these particular people, at this particular time in your one life.” 

I will leave you with these lines that really spoke to me because I am my own worst critic. And even when I get criticism or perceived criticism from others, I tend to play that over in my own head and rehash it out loud too much. “we’re not gonna give her words. The critic only lives if we let her live. And I don’t mean the critic that is helpful and has your best interest at heart. This isn’t someone in your co-listening group or one of your No Mentors. I mean the spiteful one, the petty one, the one who said those things way back when. Maybe the one who lives in your own head.”  

And so you have only a sampling of the words of wisdom of Emily P. Freeman. She is a treasure and this book, The Next Right Thing, is a treasure in itself. She has this quiz on that helps you discern your own decision-making style (mine is heart). 

Now, the book does not release for a few more days. So you still have the opportunity to purchase the book and get some freebies alongside it (purchase by April 2 - here's a link to the book on Amazon). One of the pre-ordering freebies is Emily‘s class Discern + Decide. Another is the audiobook, read by Emily! Now, I enjoy audiobooks and I would greatly enjoy one by her, but personally I want a hard copy of this book to write all my notes and underline all the things in it. But I have a friend who likes to look at the book and listen to the audiobook at the same time, so if you are like her, this is a wonderful opportunity for you to have a two for one deal. You can find out more information at

Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for an honest opinion. All opinions are my own and may not be the same as yours. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

If I Joined the Circus (movie trailer)

Like most moms, some days are hard and I dream of running away to join the circus. In reality, I would take my kids over smelly animals any day. But it’s fun to think about what it would be like to actually join the circus.
If I were to join the circus, my job of choice would probably not be one that most people would think of. I would not be a trapeze artist or a lion tamer. I would not be a bearded lady or the world‘s shortest woman. I would love to be the ticket taker.

In college, I was pregnant with my first child and worked in the cafeteria. I had a horrible morning sickness all day long and could not stand to be around food. So the manager, a dear friend of mine, made me the cashier. I loved every second of it!

As the cashier or the ticket taker at a circus, you get to see everyone come in. You are the face that greets them and ask them how they are doing. Those kind words of greeting can make a person’s day!

I am very extroverted and I usually gain energy from being around a lot of people! I love busy stores and the rush of Christmas time and big conferences or events. I like looking at interesting people and talking with whoever I’m standing near. Learning a little bit about people and usually finding out what a small world we live in, those are things that I really enjoy about being around people. That’s why I think being a ticket taker for a circus would be so fun! Everyone loves a circus and you could meet multi generation families or aspiring circus acts that are scouting your circus. You could meet politicians and movie stars and moms and dads. Doesn’t that just sound exciting? 

While being the ticket taker may not be a daring job, I think it would be one that would suit me well. If that did not pan out, I could totally be the ringmaster!

Dumbo - the classic tale of the elephant who can fly - comes out in a whole new way in theaters March 29th. Here is a synopsis of the film: From Disney and visionary director Tim Burton, “Dumbo” expands on the beloved classic story where differences are celebrated, family is cherished and dreams take flight.   Circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) enlists former star Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) and his children Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins) to care for a newborn elephant whose oversized ears make him a laughingstock in an already struggling circus. But when they discover that Dumbo can fly, the circus makes an incredible comeback, attracting persuasive entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton), who recruits the peculiar pachyderm for his newest, larger-than-life entertainment venture, Dreamland. Dumbo soars to new heights alongside a charming and spectacular aerial artist, Colette Marchant (Eva Green), until Holt learns that beneath its shiny veneer, Dreamland is full of dark secrets.  

Disclaimer: I received a gift card in exchange for my article about what I would be if I joined the circus. All opinions are my own but I cannot wait to view this movie!

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