Saturday, December 22, 2012

Keep Christ in Christmas

Good morning! The world didn't end yesterday, so I guess that means we still have to get up and get busy being mommas today :-) Oh, you know I kid. We love it! We're celebrating Christmas this morning, just the three of us, so I'm about to make sure Santa arrived, get our Christmas bread going, and fill stockings! We have always been at one of our parents' homes on Christmas morning, so I'm actually loving being in our home and doing our traditions here.

We can't argue with the fact that there are special and sacred jobs reserved just for mommies. Making sure our children know the true meaning of Christmas, and making sure that they get to experience the "magic" are both special jobs reserved for the moms. I wrapped the presents yesterday, and had everything laid out under the tree when our son arrived home from his day-long playdate. He walked in, saw the tree, and yelled, "Oh wow!" Melts a momma's heart :-)

But, let's get real. That isn't the true meaning of Christmas at all. I suspect that as our son grows older, more and more I will see the pull at our Christian hearts between what we should be focusing on at this time of year, and what the world obsesses about. We must remember balance, and we must remember to turn to Him for guidance on how we should broach certain subjects, what we should and should not participate in, and how to practically keep Jesus front and center during the Christmas season. How have we done it this year with a toddler? We have read lots of kid books about the birth of Jesus, we search for our cross and angel ornaments on the tree, I have contemporary christian Christmas music playing nearly around the clock, and we have enjoyed acting out the story with his own nativity set. If you're looking for a great gift and teaching tool for your little one, check this out:
Little People Nativity Set by Fisher Price
No breakable pieces here, which is a very good thing! I would love to hear your ideas about keeping Christ in Christmas, especially with children. It is our precious job as mommies to keep our children focused, regardless of the Santa craziness which surrounds us. After all,

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--His good, pleasing, and perfect will." Romans 12:2

This year, as mothers, let's ponder on what Mary must have been feeling during the birth and after she brought forth the Savior of the world. We know what it feels like to love our own sweet babies, but just imagine the overwhelming emotion she experienced when she had the privilege of being the mother to God. Incredible! I want to leave you with one of my favorite songs, celebrating the birth of Jesus from a mother's perspective, followed by scripture from Luke 2.

"So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told." Luke 2:4-20 (emphasis added)

We are off to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for ten days beginning at 5:30am tomorrow morning! I will not have access to internet, so I will not be posting until January 4. I sincerely pray that each of you has a beautiful Christmas and New Year's with your families. Much love from the McNamee family!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Faith in Pregnancy

Good morning! Have you ever read a portion of scripture that you are exceedingly familiar with, and then the Lord reveals something profound to you? Well, I experienced that this morning. Truly, I wasn't going to write today. We leave for a 10-day vacation in less than 48 hours, and we are celebrating our family Christmas tomorrow morning. Are gifts wrapped and suitcases packed? Not even close :-) Thankfully, a precious friend and I swapped kid-sitting, and she is taking my toddler for the whole day. Thank you, Jesus! Don't forget the idea of trading babysitting...a no-cost way to get things done, or to go get a pedicure :-) I digress...

God prompted me to write about this today. Someone needs to hear it. I was reading through Luke 1 this morning, a chapter I know and love, about the pregnancies of both Elizabeth and Mary. Read through it when you have a few minutes, and take special note of the underlying theme in the first part of the chapter. Faith in pregnancy. Elizabeth was a woman "well along in years," but she became pregnant with John, the man who would lead the way for Jesus Christ. Mary, a very young woman, became pregnant by the Holy Spirit with the Son of God.

How much faith do you suppose it took for both of those women to trust that God knew what He was doing? How important is the subject of infertility, faith in pregnancy, and heavenly timing to our Lord? Well, important enough for it to take center stage in the plans of getting His Son to this planet! You see, God is speaking directly to mothers in this chapter. He knows our hearts. He hears the cries from women who are desperate to be mothers. He sees the fear and uncertainty on the faces of women who are faced with unplanned pregnancies. And through these words written hundreds of years ago, the words that we read with anticipation during the Christmas season, He offers a promise to the sweet mothers of this world.

"...and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God." Luke 1:36-37

And Mary, the mother of Christ, remembered a visit from an angel foretelling what was happening to her now. She didn't question God, she didn't remind Him that this wasn't the best time, she didn't run and hide in embarrassment. She simply remembered what He had promised, and she accepted it and rejoiced.

"Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord said to her will be accomplished!" Luke 1:45

I pray that these words can be a blessing to you, or someone you know today. Especially some of you who may be struggling with infertility. Don't believe for a second that pregnancy and the bringing forth of life isn't one of His priorities. He designed it as such! And, remember that His timing is always perfect. He doesn't make mistakes. I imagine He grins from ear-to-ear at the faith built in His sweet daughters during the child-bearing years. He's right there with you, my friends, whether you are longing for a child or staring at that double pink line in shock. He knows what He's doing, and you get to play a fantastic part in His eternal plan. Be blessed, mommies!

A few more pictures from our challenge :-)
Praise Jesus for antibiotics...even if it means we feel good enough to crawl on the table!
My own little baby Jesus at Christmastime!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Letter

Greetings, mommas! I started a little tradition the first Christmas that we were married. I always loved receiving the picture Christmas cards from our friends and families, but I really wanted to know more about what was going on in their lives! So, I decided to let people know what was going on in our lives! Truly, I don't know how many people love receiving a replay of the McNamee's year, but it's a great way for us to reflect and review on the many blessings and challenges that came our way throughout the past months. I am fully aware that we did not create this tradition, but I wanted to share our letter to give you another glimpse of the real me, and to inspire some of you to share your stories with your loved ones. Be blessed, mommies!

Greetings from sunny and snowy Colorado! We pray that this letter finds each of you and your families healthy and happy, as you are all so dear to us. And after an appointment with Kindra's neurologist on Monday, we are blessed to announce the same! We are also totally healthy. You see, it has been a challenging year in the McNamee household...but the hidden blessings, spiritual growth, and binding together of a family would not have occurred without some serious faith-building experiences.

On December 14, 2011, the right side of Kindra's face completely stopped working. Vertigo, migraines, and intense jaw pain soon followed. 2012 held consultations with many doctors, multiple rounds of medication, physical therapy, CT scans, MRI scans, and chiropractors. No one could agree with the differing results, and many scary scenarios were mentioned, the most alarming being multiple sclerosis. But, after months of stress and uncertainty, the M.S. diagnosis has been disregarded, and Kindra has received a clean bill of health. It turns out that she had suffered from a rare syndrome that involves the cold sore virus attacking the nervous system. Her facial function has continued to improve, and she will receive yearly check-ups with her neurologist. Praise God for finally lifting this dark cloud! He is so good!

Caleb is a happy, rambunctious, feisty, talkative, athletic, outgoing, dancing, Thomas the Train-loving toddler! He fills our house with delight and joy on a daily basis. He celebrated his 1st birthday with a bouncy-ball party in July, attended by many of his friends and family! He loves playing with new friends at the Y and in the church nursery, and he really loves climbing on anything and everything. He sure keeps Mommy busy, but she loves it. Kindra has comfortably flourished in her role as a stay-at-home mom and has even started writing a spiritually encouraging blog for other mommies, filled with tips on how we make this life work ( A devotional book may even be on the horizon!

The Lord has really been speaking to our hearts this year. We have both enjoyed new friendships with friends from church, attending retreats, leading a bible study, attending small group studies, and Kindra is now leading a spiritual group for young moms called Moms Connect. We have consistently prayed for deepening relationships in Colorado, and He has been faithful to energize past relationships and spark new ones.

Patrick has had to travel quite often this year, but ultimately we are grateful for a job with benefits that provides the opportunity for Kindra to stay home, and to have our needs and wants met. One perk of the job is traveling as a family on his trips! The three of us ventured to Virginia and Illionis over the summer, and we had a blast seeing our many precious friends. We also took an impromptu road trip to Kansas to escape the too-close-to-home wild fire in July! The fire never reached our town, but many homes were lost in Colorado Springs. It was a sad time for Colorado, but the faithfulness of God was evident for so many who were affected.

While Pugsley still resides at the McNamee home, Sophie was not able to stay. It seemed that toddlerdom and an anxious jack-russell do not mix, so she went to live with a sweet couple who could devote more love and attention to her. We miss her, but we know it was the right decision. Pugsley did want me to convey his frustration for not being included in our Christmas pictures :-)

Amongst the happenings of crazy life, we did manage to have some fun this year! Patrick has continued his beer-making hobby, and he is great at it! He competed, and did quite well, in a 24-hour mountain biking race, Kindra celebrated the big 3-0, we took a few weekend trips to the gorgeous CO mountains, and we continued to entertain friends and family at our home, including hosting an all-out Thanksgiving feast! We are blessed beyond measure, and we are so grateful for our lives.

Another life we are exceedingly grateful for is Kindra's Grandma, Gwendolyn Dill. She went to be with the Lord on March 13 after a long battle with ALS. She was an incredible woman who inspired others, namely Kindra, to be faithful wives and mothers. She is dearly missed, but we love God's faithfulness of bringing people like her into our lives. What a gift!

As we embark upon 2013, we pray that His faithfulness will pour into your lives, as it has into ours. We never know what each year will hold, but we do know that He will continue to lavishly bestow blessings onto His children and walk with us through the valleys. Only then are the mountaintops so much sweeter! Speaking of mountaintops, we are off to Cabo San Lucas for ten days! We will be reuniting with Patrick's extended family for Christmas and New Year's, and we will be celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary! We are so grateful for each one of you, and we wish you a beautiful Christmas and New Year!

The McNamee Family

And the picture challenge continues...
Can't beat reindeer jammies and cartoons with Daddy!
The camo hat is super cute while he presses his face against the glass at Chili's!
And, it's not officially winter until someone is at the doctor's with an ear infection...
Hope you're having fun with the challenge! I'm a little behind, but we'll get caught up. Enjoy the organizational tip below. It's a goodie!

Tip #48

Ever hear an idea that makes your mommy heart leap for delight, only because it will make your life that much easier?! Or, you pull your hair out because that super amazing idea is ridiculously simple, and you should have thought of it earlier in mommyhood?! Well, check this out...all you fellow mommies tending to children with double ear infections :-( Hope this helps!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Heavy Hearts lead to Restless Sleep

Good morning!

You know it's been a busy day when I wrote the previous sentence, stepped away from the computer, and am just now sitting back down at 7:21pm! I have had all kinds of great topics that I felt led to write about lately, but I am lacking the most precious commodity in a mommy's life...time :-)

Have you ever been annoyed that our bodies need to sleep? Though I know I'm tired, I have recently found myself bothered by the fact that I need to shut it all down and call it a night. If only I didn't have to sleep, I could wrap more Thomas the Train presents, prepare for another Christmas get-together, continue working on my obsessive packing list for our upcoming 10-day vacation, scrub the baseboards (they've bugged me lately), or snuggle with my hubby. I gravitate towards busy work in order to relieve my stress. Odd, huh? I've always been like this, but it's difficult to recognize when I'm in the midst of a serious stress-load. Never was my CD collection or my closet in a more perfect order than during finals week in college :-)

As I sit here reflecting, I think about how we feel this burden as women (and especially as mommies) to keep it all together. Keeping the daily balls in the air proves to be much harder if we don't allow ourselves to work through our real stressors. The activities I listed above aren't my real stressors. The real things digging at my heart recently include some physical difficulties affecting my mother, the fact that we are preparing to celebrate our first Christmas without my Grandma, and the fact that this will be the first Christmas with my dad separated from my step-mother. The fact that the McNamee family reunion in Mexico will be nothing short of spectacular, but it will mean spending a Christmas away from my family...especially hard in light of this year's events. The fact that my sweet toddler has caught one bug after another for the past few months ( he secretly licking toilet seats or something?!) has taken an enormous toll on this momma, not to mention how much of it I've done alone, since my hubby has traveled an exceptional amount.

I'm not saying this to complain. I'm saying this in hopes that some of you will get real with me. Maybe the fact that I wrote these thoughts out will help me process through the heavy emotions that each of these situations present. Perhaps you could try it. I received some incredibly great health news yesterday, a direct answer to prayer from our heavenly Father...a statement we were waiting a year to hear from my neurologist. Jesus sweetly allowed these heavy burdens that I have tried to stuff away rise to the surface yesterday, of all days, including the "dark cloud of the unknown medical syndrome" that I had allowed to follow me every day for the past year. The fact that my close friends and family were crying tears of joy at the news while I overly faked enthusiasm was a huge wake-up call to me. I couldn't fully grasp this gracious gift of good health which He had laid in my lap, because I had not fully given my heavy heart over to Him.

I've cried a lot today. It's a good thing :-) Between runs to Target, Costco, the Christian bookstore, and aiding my flu-stricken toddler, I let my emotions come out a bit. He knows we're mommies. He knows we're human. He knows we get tired. He even knows that I create more work for myself when I'm trying to mask the heaviness of my heart. That's why He created rest. It shouldn't be something we get annoyed about! We should relish our time to rest, and show our gratefulness to Him.

I pray this post can be encouraging to you, and not just cheap therapy for me :-) Remember, our children are their best when we are at our best. This season, allow Him to heal your heart, show you reasons to celebrate, and provide opportunities for rest. Merry Christmas, mommies.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Encouragement from Him

I could hardly stomach watching the coverage of the tragedy that happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut this morning. Twenty precious children and six innocent adults were senselessly murdered by a lone gunman. When we are faced with horrific tragedy that will inevitably happen during our time on Earth, it seems only appropriate to offer words from Him.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33 (emphasis added)

Just as Jesus says in the verse above, be encouraged that there will be a day when these things simply won't happen anymore. He has overcome the world, and He will return to make things right.

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Revelation 21:4

Tonight, let's all hug our babies a little tighter, thanking God for each day that He gives us to look upon their beautiful faces.

Love to all of the mommies reading this tonight...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I Win!

Hi mommies! Ever have one of those days when you feel like a rockstar mom? Let's be honest, they don't happen very often, so it is very likely that they will stick out in your mind! I'm talking about a day which brings about a huge parental success, a day when a major kid frustration lifts, or a day when the perseverance and tenacity of a momma finally pays off. Well, yesterday was one of those days at the McNamee home!

Our little man has a major problem with throwing food. I'm not talking about simply dropping bites off of his high chair when he's full...I'm talking about looking me straight in the eye and chucking a handful of oatmeal, pasta, his juice box, anything, all the way across the kitchen. I pray a pitching scholarship is somewhere in this child's future...Anyway, I have tried everything. Spanking is ineffective, time out used to be a punishment until he started clasping his hands and looking at me adoringly while saying "thank you" whenever he earned a minute in the chair. Making him pick up all of the food speaks to his love language of Acts of Service, so he thought it was a reward. Taking his food away doesn't bother him. He just goes back to playing until I remind him later that it's time to eat. It didn't matter if I fed him, he fed himself, if I gave him green beans, or Skittles. He had discovered a game, and he was beyond entertained at watching me scrub the walls, the sliding glass door, the cabinets, and every other surface that a kitchen contains. This has been going on for months...

During a long conversation, born out of complete frustration, with my mom yesterday, she suggested that I change the scenery and get creative. The food battle is not something my son can win. He has to eat, I pick his meal options, and he does not get to have the control in the McNamee kitchen any longer. Once I decided to become the food Authority once again, the wheels in my brain started spinning. Lately, he's infatuated with our kitchen table. He likes to sit in the "big" chair and look at books, watch Thomas the Train on the computer and pretend like he is a big person. As simple as it the thought is, it hadn't occurred to me previously. Maybe he wanted to sit at the big table. Maybe he was bored with the high chair routine that we've been in for the last year, and he isn't just purposely aggravating me. So, I attached a hook-on portable high chair to the edge of the table and gave him a snack. What do you know...that child didn't throw one bit of food. He said please, more, thank you, and all done at the appropriate times. He calmly let me take him out of the chair and send him on his way to play, without nary a Goldfish for me to collect off the floor. Dinner time rolled around, and it was the same scenario! The happy little man ate his given food, calmly and sweetly interacted during mealtime, and happily finished without creating a whirlwind food disaster. Will this last forever? Probably not. But then, he just may get moved to another room/table for eating purposes. I've one-upped him now. I win :-)

This very long, and hopefully entertaining story, serves the purpose to remind us of this. The many battles that we will face as mommies? We will actually win some of them :-) We are successful more than we notice. God didn't give us our sweet children in order that we may feel exasperated on a daily basis. When our children our born, it isn't just our responsibility to help them grow into God-fearing individuals. God uses them to sanctify us, as well. I have never grown more in my relationship with Christ, or had the understanding of His love, until he gave me a son. Becoming a mother has changed me more than I could have ever imagined. And I venture to guess that He delights in seeing us faced with daily challenges which force us to use our God-given creativity to conquer. Our confidence as mothers is built with situations just like this one. Don't let them slip away from you. Remember the days when you win. Remember the days when the realization hits you that your child isn't secretly planning to ruin your life. He is just learning how to be a person. And when those moments come, acknowledge your determination, will, and unconditional love that you possess as a mother. Well done, mommy. Well done!

"Children are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him." Psalm 127:3

And, the December Christmas picture challenge continues!

Discovering and eating the beautiful snow in our front yard!
He loved Rudolph's nose at the Y.
Laying in the snow? Not so much!
Honestly, he was more interested in eating the paint as we created ornaments!
Today, and everyday, be blessed mommies!

MMSM #63
In an earlier post, I gave the idea of a meal exchange...make 8-10 batches of your favorite dinner, and swap them with 8-10 friends. You automatically have ready-made freezer meals to pull out on those extra busy days. At Christmas, do the same thing! Only with cookies :-) Set a night for your girlfriends to come over, and everyone bakes 3-4 dozen of their yummiest Christmas cookie. Enjoy some much needed girl time while you each make a plate containing a few bites of every kind. If each person brings enough recipes to share (or have the hostess collect them through email to save ink!), then you have all new ideas for next year. I have to be honest, it's one of my hubby's favorite things that I do :-)

Tip #47

A friend of mind just did this as a cute method to deliver Christmas cookies. Keep those used Pringles cans (that you bought with a coupon, of course!), tape scrapbook paper around the base, add a ribbon, and you have a super cute way to deliver those delicious treats in an organized way!

Monday, December 10, 2012

God as Healer

Well, it's a freezing and snowy Colorado morning...-2 degrees! I had a lazy weekend with the family while our little man was recovering from roseola. We don't ever get the normal illnesses around here, always something strange! It isn't serious, just a bad fever followed by a rash. He is almost through it, and we're grateful to have our happy boy back! Last night, as I was watching him play, I was struck by God's awesome power as our Healer. It's easy to forget how often He does heal. There have been people in my life who have had serious and terminal illnesses, and God has chosen not to heal them. We don't understand, it doesn't seem to line up with His Word, and I think we can let our faith be shaken, if we aren't careful.

Try looking at it from this angle...every time one of our kiddos gets a cold, a flu, a raspberry scrape on their forehead and nose because their mother let them take off down the driveway unsupervised (can you tell this is a familiar scenario to me?!), God heals our children. Rarely, does a child's body succumb to a runny nose and cough. A fever is hardly ever serious and is actually God's design for the body to "burn" off an infection. The fact that the skin regenerates itself daily to heal any cuts and scrapes is part of His intricately designed system which is the human body.

He doesn't always heal our friend with cancer, but sometimes He does! We can't always get over a bug on our own, so He is faithful to provide excellent medical care and medicine. Sometimes, He asks us to aid in the healing. Ever have a day when simply going to bed for an extra nap seemed to kick whatever illness was knocking on the door? We should always remember to be grateful to Him whenever there is healing. He is faithful to restore our bodies, just as He restores our spirits...especially with our children :-)

One of my favorite Christmas songs to get you in the spirit!

And, continuing with our challenge...I'm behind a day, so I'll post two tomorrow :-) Today, and everyday, be blessed!
December 9 - Gotta love the Jayhawk Santa hat!

MMSM #62
I can't use this offer, yet, but if you have a little one in elementary school, plan to get them a FREE haircut at a JCPenney salon on a Sunday! The store ran this promotion in August, and it was so popular, they decided to make it permanent. Call your local store to make sure they are participating, and don't forget to tip! See the story at JCPenney FREE Kid Cuts.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Using Your Gifts with Your Children

Happy Friday! Sorry for my absence over the past two days. Little man caught a fever bug, and neither one of us slept more than four hours for two nights in a row. Kinda rough! I'm thankful to say he is up and running this morning, sans fever, and happily watching Thomas the Train. AND we both got 10+ hours of sleep last night. What a gift!!!

There were lots of things I hoped to accomplish this week, but I'm realizing that a sick child puts life on hold :-/ That's okay. He needed his momma, and I enjoyed the snuggle time. Speaking of all of the days where you wish you had accomplished more, enjoy this funny Friday picture...

We did keep up with our challenge, even though he didn't feel his best. I hope you're doing it! It will be so fun to look back on these photos and enjoy seeing the wonder of a child at Christmas.

December 5 - Even when they don't feel well, you can still drive around and look at Christmas lights! He will say, "Oh, wow!" over and over again. So cute!

December 6 - This may be my favorite thus far! He was fascinated by the tree in our dining room. I call it my "fun and formal" tree. It is a silver tree decorated with red, gold, and green ornaments. It's so fun to watch the amazement of a child!
December 7 - When he woke up this morning, he hurried to say "hi" to the Santa who sits on our staircase. He is in a petting stage right now!
I read a verse this week that felt very applicable to the life of a SAHM. Romans 11:29 says:

"...for God's gifts and His call are irrevocable."

I've read this verse before, but I never really grasped its meaning. The word irrevocable means not able to be changed, reversed, or recovered; final. After I focused on the meaning of that word, this verse amazed me! The gifts and talents which our heavenly Father bestows upon each one of us can never go away. And the journey for which He calls us to follow in life is determined before we take our first breath. That being said, when God called each of us to be mothers and blessed us with children, He knew that the gifts and talents given to us would be a blessing into the lives of the specific children we are raising! Sometimes, the life of a SAHM is monotonous, thankless, exhausting, belittled by society, and can even feel uncomfortable. I've spoken with several moms who feel like they weren't cut out to be a stay-at-home mom. These moms felt like they were crawling up the walls, they hated not being surrounded by other adults during the day, and they wondered if this was all there is to look forward to. Here is what I say...whatever Godly gifts and talents you were operating in before you had children, pray for God to teach you how to funnel those directly into your life as a SAHM.

For instance, my gifts of teaching, encouragement, and organization were used on a daily, if not hourly, basis as an elementary music teacher. I was happy and energized when I operated in those gifts with hundreds of children a day, but now I have the opportunity to focus those gifts onto one child each day. I'm a better mom when I am intentionally living in the way that God designed me to act. This verse is clearly saying that our gifts travel with us through the path which God has asked us to follow. Don't leave your gifts behind at your last job! Concentrate on using them as a mother to enrich the lives of your children and your husband (more on using your gifts with your husband next week!). 

Maybe you aren't sure what gifts you have been given? May I suggest two resources that are excellent, as well as studying about spiritual gifts and talents in the Word of God.
Strengths Finder 2.0 isn't about spiritual gifts, but after you buy the book and receive an access code, you take a test that will give you the top five areas that are strengths for you. It's very cool and informative, and I highly recommend it! My husband and I both did it, and it has helped us learn how to relate to one another in a healthier way, building on each other's strengths. Just FYI, mine are:
  1. Responsibility
  2. Activator
  3. Strategic
  4. Belief
  5. Discipline
Understanding your gifts and talents woven into your design by our Creator will allow you to better interact with everyone in your life, especially your children. Just because you aren't using your gifts in a corporate setting on a daily basis doesn't mean you aren't fully living as the woman God envisioned. You are the primary person who is molding the life of little people for eternity. What a job that is! Today, and everyday, be blessed!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Precious Pictures and Fun Tips

Challenge picture #4...this is a sweet one :-)

Discovering baby Jesus...
I saw that yesterday's post on resisting the urge to pass judgement on other mommies was quite popular. I love that you are encouraged, and I pray that God will allow situations to happen in our lives where we can practice showing compassion, instead of passing judgement.

Due to my poor planning, I have to go put together a massive digital photo album before my Groupon expires at midnight...eeks! Enjoy a Starbucks update on the GTWTHot Deals page today, a new MMSM, and an organizational tip. Today, and everyday, be blessed!

MMSM #61
I should have posted this before Thanksgiving, but it got away from me :-( Don't waste your money on buying pre-made chicken broth/stock anymore, ladies! I discovered an awesome new product...Das Dutchman Essenhaus Chicken Base is an economical way to make tons of chicken broth. Mix just 3/4 tsp. with 1 cup of boiling water (multiply the recipe as needed), and you can get way more out of one jar of that product then can after can of the Swanson's stuff. And, it tastes pretty good, too! Use it for turkey basting, soups, and to cook your rice (did you know that trick?!).

Tip #46

Is it your job to organize meals for new mommies, friends recovering from surgeries, or simply to be nice to a friend going through a hard time? Well, put away the phone trees and sticky notes, and check out Food Tidings for all of your meal-organizing needs! Share the link with interested women, and each person signs up for a day, the meal they are cooking, and they can view all of the important information for the recipients. It's a great site that has blessed many a new mommy in my small group!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Judging Mommies...

Here is our photo for December 3...I am loving this challenge! My dad gave these shoes to our son last Christmas, and they finally fit. Thanks, Granddaddy!

This is a great book for toddlers, published by David C. Cook. Our little guy loves it.
I saw a picture posted on Facebook earlier this week, and it really got me thinking about judgement...especially in motherhood. 

As humans, we have the tendency to judge. As Christians, sadly, it can really rare its ugly head. As mothers, well...only God can give us the strength to not do it. Parenting is such a personal AND public profession. We privately agree with our husbands how we are going to raise our children, and then society gets to watch as we try and follow through with our decisions on a daily basis. In our hearts, we truly feel like that we we have chosen to parent is the best way. That's why we make the decisions that we make. So, what happens when we see a mother handling her child differently than we would? What if her child is completely out of control in the grocery store, while she is scrolling through her phone? What if she's letting her child drink a Starbucks just so she can get through a Target run? What if she threatens a spanking, and you watch her not hold to her word, again and again? Are you quick to judge her abhorrent parenting skills? Or, are you quick to give her the benefit of the doubt and send some prayer and compassion her way?

Confession? The three examples I just gave are from my own life :-) Don't worry, the Starbucks was just a steamer (steamed milk with a little vanilla flavoring), but it was a bribe given to allow me to get through my shopping list. The other two examples, and countless others, are mistakes that I make in parenting, especially when I am pre-occupied with "storms" (see picture above). Storms can be big (a chronic illness, a traveling husband, a family crisis), or storms can be small (a teething toddler, a never-ending to-do list, period cramps!). But let's be honest, storms will affect our parenting skills. We can hope that they won't, but they do on a daily basis. And, mommies, just as you and I have storms, every other mother does as well.

Let's be so careful to not get in the habit of judging the parenting skills of other mothers. That momma in line at the grocery store? We don't know her story. Maybe she had a horrendous example of mothering when she was a little girl. Maybe her husband is deployed, she has three kids under five, and she hasn't had a break in weeks. Maybe one of her children has a behavior disability, and this is actually a good day. Maybe she just found out a parent is terminally ill. We can't know any of that, but we do know to pray for her. Pray for patience, for discernment, and that she may be overflowing in love for her children. As mommies, we need to stick together. No more raised eyebrows at women who are in the same season of life as us! And trust me, this is as much for me as for any woman reading this post.

I have been humbled lately! We had a very sweet, happy, and well-behaved baby boy...until we hit toddler-hood. All I can say is, are you kidding me right now? As many times as I raised my eyebrows at other mommies' lack of ability to control their children, I can feel the judging arrows being hurled at me every time we step out of this house. I know it's a phase. I know he's just learning. But, it is a challenging say the least. Isn't it interesting how God can use our children as an instrument to teach us humility, compassion, and patience? 

Let me leave you with this verse today. Today, and everyday, be blessed!

"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you...For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Luke 6:37-38

MMSM #60
It's that time of year when many of us are printing pictures, designing calendars with our sweet baby's faces, putting together electronic scrapbooks, or just shopping online. Well, before you check out, don't miss a coupon deal! Simply Google "coupon code for ___________," (i.e. Walgreens, Snapfish, Walmart, Personalization Mall, Kohl's, Amazon, etc.) and see what pops up. Most of the time, a valuable and valid coupon code is lurking around on the internet for whatever site you are ordering from. I can't remember the last time I ordered something online without a code. Good luck!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Odds and Ends!

So mommies? How is the December challenge going at your house? I'm having fun with it, and I recently discovered the coolest app (yes, I am way behind the times). Instagram is a really neat program that will give different effects to pictures that you take with your smart phone. Both of these pictures (for 12/1 and 12/2) were taken using effects of Instagram. Try it! It's tons of fun and makes your pictures look a bit more professional :-)

December 1 - at Jose Muldoon's restaurant for lunch, looking at Christmas decorations  

December 2 - At our home...exploring the Christmas tree 
Next, I found out about a really fun option for mommies with little babies. Check out this link: Baby Movie. It's not really a MMSM, because movie tickets are still horrendously over-priced, but it's a fun way to get out of the house and do a grown up thing, with your little one in tow! Hopefully, there's a participating theater close to you.

Finally, I've updated the GTWTHot Deals page. Click on over to see some excellent money-saving methods to take advantage of during the Christmas season!

I hope the weekend was a blessing to you and to your families. My hubby is traveling this week, so it's full-time toddler duty for me. I'm off to clean up a very unfortunate mess of minestrone soup and cottage cheese :-/ Be blessed, mommies!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

December Challenge!

Happy December! This song is one of my faves this year! It just has the album artwork, so there isn't anything to watch, but push play and enjoy listening!

I mentioned yesterday that I would post a new challenge for all mommies in the month of December. Check out what I came across:

I am absolutely going to do this...with a twist! All of my pictures will be ones of Caleb and something "Christmasey." It will be a great way to capture our little ones enjoying the true meaning of the season. I will post them here, and I'd love to see yours! Email me or post in the comments section. And don't worry, I don't have a fancy camera. I will just be using my phone :-) Have fun creating, mommas!

Friday, November 30, 2012

30 Scriptures on Gratitude

Well, we did it! We journeyed through the month of November, finding a scripture that teaches on gratitude each day! After this post, we will have discussed thirty verses on thankfulness. I hope it has been as much of a blessing to you as it has been to me. And, I hope you can tuck these verses away in your mommy file to use with your children when they need a gentle reminder of gratitude in the future :-) Finally, here are verses #29 and #30...

"You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. The service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God." 2 Corinthians 9:11-12

God promises to bless us in areas that are important to him. Maybe He made you rich in compassion. Maybe He made you rich in the gift of encouragement. Maybe He made you a blessed mother, overflowing in the richness of patience! Perhaps He has made you rich, literally, in finances. Whatever gift(s) He has bestowed upon you, be sure to use it to bless others. It glorifies Him when we use our blessings to enrich the life of another. We could be generous to our husbands, our children, our family, our friends, or complete strangers. Whoever He allows to cross our paths, let's be sure to bless them with the riches our heavenly Father has given to us!

"You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever." Psalm 30:11-12

Mommies, we will all go through hardships in our lives. It isn't if, it's when. Choosing to live a life of gratitude to our Lord, and choosing to set that example for our children, isn't because we have a perfect life without any heartache. How easy would it be to live in a state of thankfulness then! No, it's the fact that we choose to be grateful in the midst of trials that shows true devotion to Christ. A bit of encouragement to remember is that sadness, loneliness, frustration, anger, and mourning will not last forever. He is faithful to do just as He says above. He will always turn our hearts back to dancing, joy, and song. For that, and for so many other daily reasons, let's decide to live a life of gratitude, and let's decide to teach our children to do the same.

I have loved learning His Word on a deeper level with you through November. Thank you for doing it with me! A little cheat sheet of our gratitude verses is listed below (whatever can save a momma some time!). They are all from the NIV of the Bible. Today, and everyday, be blessed and be thankful! Check back tomorrow for a fun challenge to complete each day in December!

Psalm 100:4 -  
Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name
Hebrews 12:28 -
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe...
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 -
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
Psalm 136:1-3, 26
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords. His love endures forever... Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.
Colossians 3:15-17 -
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
1 Timothy 2:1-2 -
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone--for kings and all those in authority, that we may leave peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness
1 Chronicles 29:13 -
Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise Your glorious name.
Ephesians 1:16 -
I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
Ephesians 5:19-20 -
Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Psalm 107:8-9 -
Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men, for He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
Psalm 107:15-16 -
Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men, for He breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron.
Isaiah 12:4 -
...Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; make known among the nations what He has done, and proclaim that His name is exalted.
2 Corinthians 2:14 -
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.
Philippians 4:6 -
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Colossians 1:3 -
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus...
Psalm 75:1 -
We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks, for your Name is near; men tell of your wonderful deeds.
Psalm 95:1-2 -
Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song.
Colossians 4:2 -
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
2 Corinthians 9:15 -
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
Psalm 69:30 -
I will praise God's name in song and glorify Him with thanksgiving.
Colossians 2:6-7 -
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
2 Timothy 1:3 -
I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.
Psalm 28:7 -
The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song.
Jonah 2:9 -
But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord.
Ephesians 5:3-4
But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
1 Chronicles 16:34-35 -
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. Cry out, "Save us, O God our Savior; gather us and deliver us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, that we may glory in your praise."
1 Chronicles 16:7-8 -
That day David first committed to Asaph and his associates this psalm of thanks to the Lord: Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; make known among the nations what He has done.
John 11:41 -
Then Jesus looked up and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me."
2 Corinthians 9:11-12 -
You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. The service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God
Psalm 30:11-12 -
You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gratitude for Sharing and Listening

Thanks for stopping by! We are nearly finished with our journey through scripture, searching for thirty verses teaching on thanksgiving, or giving thanks. My goal for this experience was to learn how God desires for us to show our gratitude by the examples that He has shared in His word. I wanted to get into the habit of starting my day with thanksgiving, instead of starting with my laundry list of prayer requests. I also wanted to compile a list of verses on gratitude with the intent of sharing them with my children as they grow up. It has been an awesome experience, and I have enjoyed sharing it with all of you! Only four verses left! Here are verses #27 and #28:

"That day David first committed to Asaph and his associates this psalm of thanks to the Lord: Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; make known among the nations what He has done." 1 Chronicles 16:7-8

...Then Jesus looked up and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me." John 11:41

In the first verse, I love how the writer takes the time to tell us that David was speaking this psalm (or song) to others. He wrote a song of thankfulness to God and felt compelled to share it with whoever would listen. Wouldn't it be wise of us to consciously speak our gratefulness our loud, so that our children could learn by example?

In John, the words spoken are those of Jesus. Everything that Jesus said, or did, was meant to set an example. We know that God answers our prayers. He loves to bless us, but He also loves to strengthen our faith and trust in Him. While we know it is important to thank Him for whatever request He has granted us, I think Jesus is saying that it is just as important to thank God for simply hearing us and listening to us. He is a big God, the God of the universe, yet He takes the time to listen to us. In fact, He delights in listening to us. Today, I am grateful for that gift!
Be sure to check out my new page, "Get them while they're HOT Deals!" This page will offer valuable money-saving deals, but they have quick expiration dates. Check back for daily updates!

Be blessed, mommies!

MMSM #59
I get really annoyed when we have to spend money on haircuts for the boys (my hubby and son), even if I have a coupon! For my long hair, I will pay good money any day :-) I did a little research and stumbled across this website...Boy Haircut. Well, I tried it last night. It actually looks pretty good! We put "Thomas the Train" on Netflix and set him up in the high chair. My hubby kept Caleb's hair wet as I cut. Yes, I took a tad too much off above the ears, but luckily kids are cute enough even when their hair isn't perfect! Maybe this is a money-saving trick you can start at your house! And remember, if it looks really awful, a buzz cut is always appropriate for a little boy :-)

Tip #45

How cute are these organizational ideas! In the past, we've always taped Christmas cards to our kitchen windows, but I like the ribbon idea much better! And, instead of hanging on to all of the cards because you don't want to lose the pictures, I love the idea of taking a picture with your phone camera and using it as the contact picture for the year. Great ideas!