Monday, May 16, 2016

Contest Alert - FEELn Giving Away FREE Roku


If you’ve always wanted or been interested in a Roku, here’s your chance.  Feeln has a great giveaway contest that you can enter next week. 

WIN a Roku® Streaming Stick® and watch full episodes of the new heart-felt series ‘The Eleventh’ on Feeln!!!  To enter go to: 

Feeln premiered their heartfelt television series “The Eleventh” last week.  The series stars tv legends Cloris Leachman, Ed Asner, Florence Henderson, and newcomer Ren Harris.  I enjoyed the first episode of this wonderful series.   If you missed my review of the series, please check it out here (attach a link to your review)

And for those who may still be unfamiliar - Feeln is the leading streaming service that brings you heartfelt stories of love and togetherness, anytime, anywhere. All movies are handpicked so you spend less time searching and more time with the stories you love. Feeln brings home the exclusive library of Hallmark Hall of Fame features, Hollywood movies and TV series, and award-winning originals you won’t find anywhere else.

Disclaimer: I didn't receive anything in order to post this; hope I can win a Roku, too! I did review the Feeln original series "The Eleventh" in return for my honest review, which you can read here

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Eleventh (A Feeln Original series starring Cloris Leachman)

Feeln.com is a steaming service (think Netflix, Amazon Prime) that brings you feel good stories, heartfelt stories, including Hallmark Hall of Fame, Hollywood films, tv series, and original series you won't find on other streaming sites.

Tomorrow on May 5th, Feeln is releasing it's new original series, The Eleventh. I had the opportunity to screen the first two episodes so I could share with you about them! My first applause is that the series' episodes are only 12-minutes long. And in those twelve minutes, they did a fantastic job of catching my attention. Granted, I love tv so maybe I'm just an easy target, but regardless, the end of the second episode left me in a cliffhanger and I cannot wait to see how it turns out.

“The Eleventh” is a Feeln original drama series that focuses on a young girl’s journey to getting to know her estranged grandmother in order to bring closure to the past and unite her family.

The acting was really good. I'm used to seeing Cloris Leachman (who plays the grandma) perform comedy roles but this was a melodramatic role and she did an excellent job. I half expected it to be cheesier than Hallmark films but it wasn't cheesy. I can tell this is going to be a feel good series, but I like those!

Here is a trailer to the series.

Watch full episodes of 'The Eleventh' on Feeln.

Disclaimer: I received a link to watch the first two episodes in exchange for my honest review. This is it!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Gift of Friendship: Stories that Celebrate the Beauty of Shared Moments edited by Dawn Camp (book review)

I am an introvert-extrovert. Sounds odd but my friend, Cari, is too. Following this oddness I have many friends (as an extrovert would) but I have a small band of close friends (as would an introvert). I love my girls very dearly and never have enough time with them.

"The Gift of Friendship" edited by Dawn Camp is a compilation of stories shared from many women (only a few names were familiar to me: Holley Gerth, Liz Curtis Higgs, Tsh Oxenreider, Crystal Paine, Myquillyn Smith, and Lysa TerKeurst) about their friendships. Each story was a grand reminder of how awesome it is to be loved and to love girl friends.
image via Amazon

I believe I read this book at just the right time. I have felt...not lonely necessarily but kind of a in a funk with a new baby. I just have very little energy to pour into friendships so I haven't reached out like I normally would (maybe this is my introvert self taking charge). However, I am so blessed with a few key friends who have reached out to me in this time. They get it. They know this last year has been trying and exhausting and maybe they don't know I need them, but they call at the right moments when I do. I'm so thankful.

One story in the book really put friendship into perspective for me. A mom was talking about her daughter's friendships. Now, I have a daughter. What kind of friend do I want her to be? Who do I want her friends to be? The latter is hard because she's small and I only know a handful of her would-be classmates, but the first question is universal. I want her to be a good friend. But this story pointed out that this is part of my responsibility- to teach her friendships. I had some messy friendships growing up and I'd like her to avoid that (don't we want them to avoid all icky things?!), but she won't. Some friend will treat her poorly (as she will some friend). I get the wonderful responsibility of walking through that with her.

I'll leave off my review with this sentiment from the book, "Friendship is a gift. I have learned that the hard way. Finding someone who will talk you back from the edge, encourage you to follow your dream, stay up talking until three in the morning, eat ice ream with you - straight from the container - hear your darkest confessions without flinching, and keep showing up anyway? A gift. No, a treasure."

So thank you to Stacey, Kim, Kim, and Kim, Rachel, Mary, Kara, Kaitlyn, Cari, Jenny, the Lindas, Susanna, all the Ginas, Maggi, Debbie, Sarah, Whitney, Jill, Lori, Marie, Laura, Evi, Tasha, Kathleen, Monica, Kate, Jessica, Shannon, Mandy, Shawna, Amber, Alyson, Rachelle, Brandy, Grace, Maggie, Mandi, Shari, Judi, Elly, Jessie, Amanda, Mari, Sarah (I have so many friends with the same name!), and all the others my scatterbrain has left out (sorry). You have each taught me so much about friendship, whether for a time or still. And to my first friend, my mom, Fonda. I love you.

Disclaimer: I received this book in return for my honest review. Others may have a different opinion of the book or of friendship but these are mine. Get this book for your friends.

Forever My Little Girl by Karen Kingsbury AND Forever My Little Boy by Karen Kingsbury (double book review)

As Mother's Day approaches, there seem to be many things online that have made me cry: a post from JJ Heller's girls encouraging mothers and Nichole Nordemen's song, "Slow Down," and the accompanying video. Tear jerkers. Look them up on YouTube and you will not be sorry (unless you hate crying and then ignore this paragraph). Anyway, Karen Kingsbury has written two books that are tear jerkers, too. "Forever My Little Girl" and "Forever My Little Boy" are cute momento-type books that remind us how fast childhood goes.
image via Amazon

In each, the parents have just had their little boy or little girl and realize what a gift from God he or she is. There are prayers throughout the book to correspond with each developmental stage. So fast you flip through from babyhood to toddler to school age to marriage. It's an emotional rollercoaster...just like real life. I've watched my big boys grow so fast from babies to elementary age, I can only imagine blinking and they will leave me. I watch this little girl crawling around my feet right now and I know she, too, will be graduated and married and a mommy herself (Lord willing) all too soon.
image via Amazon

This is the hardest part of motherhood, how fast it goes. And we don't want it to slow down really because it's hard in the stage you're in, too. I know it is. There is no balance and time just goes how it goes regardless of how we feel about it. I love books like these "Forever My Little Girl" and "Forever My Little Boy" books for reminding me and us of these precious times. Don't let them slip away.

These books would be wonderful for new parents, Mother's Day, even a nice graduation or wedding gift for the mom.

Disclaimer: I received these books in order to write an honest review. Others' opinions may differ from mine but these are all mine.

Looking for Lovely: Collecting Moments that Matter by Annie F. Downs (book review)

I read a whole lot of books of varying genres. My favorite non-fiction books are the ones that read like fiction, like you're actually talking with the author. That is what it's like to read a book by Annie F. Downs. She's like your best friend, mentor, and big sister rolled into one. You laugh with her and cry and go "oh" at deep thoughts. Her new book, "Looking for Lovely" has not disappointed me in this aspect. I've enjoyed every second of reading through.
image via Amazon
There were many times in the book when I starred a paragraph or dog-eared a page or underlined a sentence or two. And not only things that resonated with me, but things I think may resonate with my loved ones. When she wrote "I grew up with a lot of shame...Satan started early with me, whispering into my ear that things were my fault, that I should be so embarrassed when I made a mistake, that I wasn't good enough or strong enough to be who everyone else thought I could be" I thought of my son, Squirt. Is that how he feels in his self-imposed perfectionism? It seems no matter how many times I tell him something isn't a big deal or that his Batman drawings look just how they should (although, no they don't look like movie posters of photographs because they're not photographs and he's just six), it just doesn't sink in. Is that the enemy whispering lies to him?

Or a few pages later when she writes about wishing she hadn't quit something. I feel the same about a few things. I don't know if I have a quitting problem like she confesses to have in her book but a few of the things I loved that I quit just in order to fit in; oh I wish I hadn't.

My favorite part of this book (in this reading of it), is when she is sitting with a friend who is broken hearted and he told her "This is the most profound pain of my life. But it also feels sacred." She is praying for "God to HEAL HIM NOW and LET THE PAIN END" and she goes on to explain about how we need to go through pain sometimes, suffering sometimes, dreadful things sometimes in order to come out on the other side seeing the beautiful, or (as my friend Kaitlyn said) to be sanctified by God (which is a fancy term for how God makes us holy little by little). Downs talks about how we don't want to be sad or hurt or see those we love feeling those things. I don't either. But I know in the hard times in our lives (when our son was diagnosed with autism and then epilepsy, when motherhood was just overwhelming, job loss after job loss - move after move, and in other, smaller trials - even the every day mundane trials like when your kids are driving you mad!!), I have seen God show up, sit in that hard place with me (us), and etch His holiness into me (us). Not always can I see it right away and there are still many places where I need sanctified, but I see Him.

That's what "Looking for Lovely" is about. Seeing God in the hard times, knowing He has not left us nor forsaken us. Looking for lovely things in the every day, in the mirror (yes!!!), in the hard cracked places of our lives.

I absolutely enjoyed this book and think it's a must-read. Perhaps I'm biased because I'm fairly certain Annie is my new best friend. Also, this would make a lovely Mother's Day gift for the mother in your life!

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. Others' opinions may differ from mine but these are all mine. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Mother Letters: Sharing the Laughter, Joy, Struggles, and Hope by Amber C. Haines and Seth Haines (book review & mother letter)

Dear Mother,

One thing I've noticed since becoming a mother almost 9 (?!) years ago is the call to be authentic. I think in the very recent past, mothers have felt this immense pressure (inward and outward) to be perfect - to balance it all, have it all together. This still exists, especially the internal struggle. I struggle with this but I have also noticed a shift.

WE ARE TIRED!

I am tired of having it all together, of looking picture perfect but feeling like a mess, of hiding my laundry or dishes or struggles, of not balancing anything and of letting some things just fall. I hear this from friends over and over again of how exhausting this facade is. I've heard plenty of my friend moms say that they are over it.

No longer will we be fake. No more plastic smiles and "I'm fine" when it's not true. No more acting like our kids don't throw tantrums and drive us up the wall sometimes. It's time for us to stop putting dirty dishes in the oven and hiding the laundry when company comes. Quit worrying about the dust - no one is looking (and if they are, hand them a microfiber cloth and let them dust)!

This life is super hard but the pressures to be Super Mom make it harder. Your kids already think you're Super Mom! And you are! If you are in there changing diapers, wiping boogers and tears, fixing toys and broken hearts, feeding them, clothing them, disciplining them, and shepherding them toward Jesus - you are. You are Super Mom!

So let the dishes soak (or get a dishwasher if you can; it's amazing) and allow the clothes to get wrinkly in the basket. It's ok. As I sit and watch my boys who aren't babies any longer it's really clear to me that this childhood business is short. As I rock our new baby girl to sleep day in and day out, I'm thankful for this perspective. I missed out on that when the boys were young but I won't any more. I won't waste time being fake and pretending to have it all together. I'm still figuring this motherhood stuff out and that's ok. I'll learn and God will cover what I mess up.

Be gentle to yourself (and forgive me if this is a babbling mess; the kids stole my brain!).

Randi

image via Amazon.com

Read more encouraging letters like this one in the new book "The Mother Letters: Sharing the Laughter, Joy, Struggles, and Hope" by Amber C. Haines and Seth Haines. This book has really encouraged me this last week of reading it. There were so many things I wanted to write down so I wouldn't forget them. To enjoy motherhood, to slow things down, to remember and not worry, to be kind to others and myself. So much in this book! Get a copy for yourself or a friend (or both) for Mother's Day.

I really appreciated how beautiful the book is aesthetically and how it's not a huge chunk of anything to read so even super overwhelmed moms can read some and be encouraged. This is real advice and reminders from real moms just like me and probably you. I don't know if it always takes a village to raise a kid but it definitely takes a village to live in this world. I'm so thankful for the technology that allows mothers to be connected through books and blogs while deep in the trenches of motherhood.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in order to write an honest review. Others' opinions may differ and that's ok. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Lifegiving Home by Sally and Sarah Clarkson (book review)

I've always wanted the home where people hang out, where the kids come to play. So far I don't have that home (although I do have the home where people use the bathroom, living right across from the park, so I'm of some service). Maybe I won't ever have that home but my family seems to enjoy it when we're home (although watching our six-year-old leave other houses, you wouldn't think so...). However, I want to cultivate my home intentionally to be a loving place, safe and comfortable. I decided to read "The Lifegiving Home" by Sally and Sarah Clarkson under this premise - to learn.
image via amazon.com
I like the set-up of the book with a mom and daughter writing it - to see a home from a mom's perspective and from a daughter's. The daughter has yet to make a family home but she has a clear idea of what her home should be like. And the writing itself is superb!

I really liked how the book was organized into the different months of the year. January was about routines, February was about relationships, March was about beauty, April about heritage, and so on. I like that you could take this book and read it in a year, so it's not so overwhelming. I say overwhelming because there are so many ideas in this. I do appreciate that neither Clarkson says "this is how we do it so you have to, too" because their life is far more sophisticated than mine will ever be. I don't mean this in any way other than we're different people. I have a more laid-back fashion and a casualness to my home; theirs seems fancier. To each their own. And for their family, they home schooled so had more time to do some of this they talk about.

I did glean some ideas for celebrating occasions.  I really like how they had afternoon tea in their home; I'd love to incorporate that but I don't believe this is my season for it. I truly love their love of books because that's something I share. I did pick up a few I'd like to share with my family.

Overall, I don't believe I will use a ton out of this book but I do think I got out of it that I need to be intentional in how I plan my home, plan our routines, help our relationships grow, welcome guests and loved ones, host, decorate. That intentional living seems to be a theme of mine for some time now. I plan to put it into practice. If you're interested, Ann Voskamp also reviewed this book.

You can find resources for this book on lifegivinghome.com

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. My opinions may differ from others' and that's ok. 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

God's Not Dead 2 Giveaway WINNER

My giveaways may not generate the most entries but we still have a winner for the God's Not Dead 2 package!

Congratulations to chickie717. I will email you to get your mailing information.

Thanks for entering!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

March family update

Seizure update: no seizures since Moose's hospital stay in mid-February. Not sure what that means but we met with his neuro doctors last week and they had a conference and talked about his situation. The decision was made to move ahead with surgery to take out the lesion (which they now think to be a low-grade tumor...no, I'm not sure what exactly that means). We do not have a date for the surgery but go next week to have a consult with the neurosurgeon.

I've been asked how I feel about this and I have processed all of the "what ifs" I can think of, so I'm doing fine with it right now. I know there are days where it hits me and days where I don't think about it. I think it will continue to be a rollercoaster. However, if the surgery is successful (and the doctors believe it will be), Moose will continue on his meds for a year and then be weaned off as long as he stays seizure free. Whoa! Isn't that miraculous sounding?!

The boys had their cub scout banquet and pinewood derby! For Squirt, it was his first. He was so cute when he'd race. Even when he lost, he would search for me in the crowd and give me a thumbs up. He did win one race but Moose did not. He took it well. I was a little disappointed the kids didn't really get to race their cars after the actual racing was over. That's what Moose likes to do the best, just racing it over and over and over and over, not really caring if he wins or loses. But the tracks got picked up right away. Hm.



Princess has been learning to sit up all by herself! She babbles quite a bit "bababa papapa mmmm" but no real words. I'm ready for her to say "mama"!!!! She can get up on her hands and knees to rock and sometimes scoot backwards but hasn't quite figured out how to move forward. That doesn't stop her from "swimming" to get anything she wants. I just started to feed her oatmeal with cinnamon and some fruit puree in the morning so she gets breakfast, lunch, and supper. Our girl is growing! She's been such a relief to have this year; she's always so happy so it's lovely to have her on a stressful day.

love when they sleep with their butts in the air!


I've had a hard time leaving her for Moose's various appointments. Next week I will leave her for the neurosurgeon consult and then again when Squirt gets his 4th set of tubes in and adenoids out. Poor guy. He's not loving the idea of it and to be honest, the idea of him being intubated is almost more than I can handle. Of course, I will handle it because I'm the mama. I have had people ask me or tell me a lot "I don't know how you handle it" and such. But you just do. It's like when you have two kids or three kids, "how do you handle it?" but you just do. What else are you supposed to do? I am just so thankful to have the friends and family I do who are so supportive whether it's baby-sitting or picking kids up from school.

My parents came down to help me out and watch the kids so Big A and I could attend some weddings and TobyMac (read more in the next paragraph). Here are some pictures from Going Bonkers, a kid play place and arcade.
he never tires of the ride on toys...

I think she likes his hat

Squirt wanted a picture with the clown

so nice to have help with her 

so I could play games! oh yeah!

My 30th birthday was last week. Big A told me awhile ago he was taking me to the TobyMac concert. He wanted to surprise me with it but needed my mom to baby-sit and didn't think to call her to ask. Weird. Anyway, the concert was AWESOME! And made even more AWESOME because two of our best friends got the tickets WITH us so we could all go together for my and her 30th birthdays. It was a blast with Hollyn, Capitol Kings, Colton Dixon, Britt Nichole, Finding Favour, and TobyMac. The music was amazing. I just had the best time. Then we ate at this place called BRGR nearby after - so yummy! And then when we came home the next day after a night away (always awesome), Big A had arranged a surprise party for me with most of my nearest and dearest. Later he was like 'oh I should have invited this person and this person' so if you weren't invited, it wasn't out of anything other than good natured oversight. It was amazing and my sisters were there, which is always such a treat. That was the first time Amber got to meet Princess. Just all around the best birthday ever. I am now enjoying my 30s.

OH one more super super exciting thing! Moose got invited to a birthday party! I cannot tell you what an answer to prayer this is for me. Squirt's been invited to at least 5 parties this year. And each time, Moose says "when will I get invited to a birthday party?" and I can't answer that. Broke my heart so when I got an invite for him, I was about in tears. I know that sounds so silly to some of you, but when making friends is so hard for him, this means so much. Life with a kid with autism is different and I'm just thankful for people who accept Moose and love him and I'm so thankful the kids in his class are that way too. It speaks so much for the parents of these kids.


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

God's Not Dead 2 giveaway!

I went to the movie theater this weekend and let me tell you, there are a ton of good movies coming out, but none got me as excited as God's Not Dead 2! I literally got goosebumps thinking about how many people saw even just the theatrical trailer! Maybe that will lead them to see the movie and lead them to personally knowing Christ as their Savior. You don't know! But it's an exciting possibility!



Today I get to bring to your attention a giveaway right here on this very little blog. If you don't know God's Not Dead was about a college student standing up for his faith in a college course - basically if he didn't prove God was real, he'd fail the course. I think the courage shown in this film is amazing. God's Not Dead 2 surrounds a trial in a court of law after a high school teacher (Melissa Joan Hart) answers a student's question. I'm not sure of the exact question but she answered using her faith. Obviously, she gets sued and then must decide if she'll stand up for her faith or back down to the world's standards.

I think this is something we all must decide. My husband and I have stood up for our faith and belief in Jesus Christ at the cost of familial relationships. For most of us relationships and status is about all we have to fear losing or changing, but who knows, sometimes it may be more. The Bible says we must love God above all else. We all have to weigh that out in our own lives but "as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

God's Not Dead 2 is directed by Harold Cronk and stars Melissa Joan Hart, Jesse Metcalfe, David A.R. White, Pat Boonie, Hayley Orrantia, Benjamin Oyango, Paul Kwo, Ray Wise, Sadie Robertson, and Robin Givens. There are cameo appearances by Governor Mike Huckabee, Lee Strobel, and The Newsboys.

GIVEAWAY:
One gift pack for God's Not Dead includes:

· The book “Man, Myth, Messiah: Answering History’s Greatest Question” by Rice Broocks, bestselling author of God’s Not Dead writer http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B010R8615W/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?ie=UTF8&btkr=1· Postcard· Mini-poster· GND2 bag· Pen

TO ENTER: Tell me about a time when you've stood up for your faith. If you don't have a time like this, do you think that you would stand under the pressure of a lawsuit in order to claim your faith?

ONE ENTRY per person. Must be 18 years or older to enter. Please leave a valid email address so I can contact you if you win (you will be contacted upon your winning and if I fail to hear from you in 48 hours, I will choose another winner). Winners will be chosen by random.org. Good luck and thanks for entering. Giveaway will be open until Friday, April 8, 2016 at 11:59pm (CST). 

Disclaimer: Must be 18 or over to enter. Giveaway is void where prohibited. I will receive a gift pack of my own in return for hosting this giveaway. All opinions of the movie(s) are my own.

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