embracing the mosaic life – art {life} in progress

Welcome friends! Living out the Christian life authentically requires daily submitting the pieces of our life to God, the Ultimate Artist, allowing him to craft us into a beautiful mosaic masterpiece that can be used for His glory. It's a moment by moment journey of living with purpose, releasing fear & control, and embracing the freedom of Christ. Learn more about me and The Mosaic Life community and join us as we seek to submit our art {our lives} to Him.

It’s Okay to Not be Okay

Have you ever felt like you just can’t keep it all together? That all the moving pieces of your life just don’t fit into a neat little puzzle?

It’s in those times that my control-seeking, keep-it-all-together nature kicks into high gear. I start looking for solutions to every perceived challenge in my schedule, convinced that all I need is to find the perfect planner or the newest organizational hack and I’ll be able to remedy the burdens of my overwhelmed heart.

Here’s the thing though.

Over and over I forget to seek the only One who can soothe my scattered spirit. Before Googling for an answer or chatting with a friend or asking my husband for his input, it is God’s face I must seek first.

I’ve been a Christian for over 20 years, yet this basic truth still escapes me in certain seasons of my life.

Somehow I feel if I can’t do it all, be it all, have it all together in my own strength, then something must be wrong with me.

Have you felt this same way, dear friend? You are not alone.

I was reminded recently of a simple truth I often forget.

Rest in that for a minute. Take a breath. Maybe even say it out loud.

It is okay to not be okay.
It is okay to not have it all together.
It is okay to not be able to live this life well in your own strength.

If you’re a rule-following, structured type-A person like me, this concept may feel so unsettling. It does to me at times. But I’m learning that it’s the times when I’m the weakest that I learn the value of submitting to the Spirit’s work in my life.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

2 Corinthians 12:9

Instead of measuring our value by our performance, let’s measure our value by God’s perfect love and Christ’s power in our lives.

Sometimes I need a tangible reminder though.

Lately I’ve soaked in this reminder by listening to the Christian music artist Plumb’s new CD, Exhale. So many words in the title song speak life into my heart. Her powerful lyrics remind me not be to afraid, not to hold on to shame, that there is still hope, and that everyone, yes everyone, is welcome in the arms of Jesus.

plumbcd

Later in the song I find myself pleading with her.

♪ Spirit come tear down these walls that only You can. ♪

Today I encourage you to take 3 minutes to watch this video and soak in the truths in her lyrics. If they speak to you and you’d like to listen to more, you can find the whole album here. You’ll find your heart encouraged by the themes of grace and hope, and if you’re like me, you’ll be singing along with her powerful voice as worship to our God who provides so richly.

If you’re reading in an email click here to view the video.

About PLUMB:

Tiffany Arbuckle Lee, better-known by her stage name Plumb, is a songwriter, recording artist, performer and author. Plumb has sold more than 500,000 albums and over two million singles worldwide, co-penned songs for numerous other artists, including Michelle Branch, Mandisa, Mandy Moore, Jaci Velasquez, and Natalie Grant, and had music placed in many films and television shows.Originally signed as a Christian Contemporary Music (CCM) recording artist in 1997, Plumb is now known as well as or better in alternative rock, electronic dance music, and for the use of her music in film and television than she is in the CCM market.
 
About the album:
EXHALE, the seventh studio album from acclaimed multi-genre singer, songwriter and author PLUMB, expresses a new focus and vision. After the runaway success of NEED YOU NOW (the album, title track and book), which coincided with her own moving story of brokenness and ultimately healing, Exhale brims with worshipful songs of gratitude and hope.The defining concept of EXHALE was born from a sermon at Plumb’s home church, wherein her pastor Pete Wilson expressed the notion that the Church doesn’t exist for itself. Rather, believers come to church to breathe in grace and truth, be changed, and then go out and “exhale” that hope into their surrounding community.“That idea of exhaling hope hit me right away and I couldn’t get to the Notes section on my phone fast enough. I started writing the chorus of Exhale right then and there,” explains Plumb. “I have been made new by the ultimate hope, and I want to share and exhale that hope in every way I can.”

S O C I A L • C O R N E R

Official Website
Official Facebook
Official Twitter
Official Instagram

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a free copy of Plumb’s Exhale CD from FlyBy Promotions as a review copy. Also, some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Funds generated through affiliate commissions go toward our family’s Compassion International sponsorship of Eva, a little girl in Columbia. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

100 Creative Ways to Say Thank You to Your Husband

100 Creative Ways to Say Thank You to Your Husband

We all know we should show our husband how much we appreciate him, but sometimes it’s hard to remember to focus on our marriage when we’re in the throes of raising little ones. 

To help you, here’s a list of 100 creative ways to tell your husband thank you for all the things he does and who he is as a husband and a father and a man around the house.

Try one or two a day and see what kind of difference it makes in the quality of your marriage. I promise, you’ll see a difference!

1. Respectfully communicate with him.
2. Let him know he’s important to you.
3. Purposefully try to understand his feelings—even when you disagree with him.
4. Show interest in his friends. Make sure he has some time with them if they’re trust-worthy.
5. Let go of the small stuff. We all have annoying habits and preferences that are different from our spouse’s. (Dave Ramsey)
6. Tell him you both love him AND like him.
7. Either show interest in his hobbies or allow him space to participate freely. (Dave Ramsey)
8. Protect his dignity on a daily basis.
9. When confronting him, realize he has feelings also.
10. Foster an atmosphere of laughter in your home. Look for ways to laugh together.

11. Try not to make sudden major changes around the house without discussion. Give him time to adjust.
12. When you go out on a date together don’t bring up problems—have fun instead.
13. Focus on what he’s doing right instead of focusing so often on the negatives.
14. Show interest in what he feels is important in life.
15. Give him special time with you apart from the children.
16. The first minutes after a spouse comes home often sets the stage for how the rest of the evening will go. Try to make that time a positive experience. Ease into the negative.
17. Give him time to unwind after he gets home from work. Your evenings will be much more enjoyable. (Dave Ramsey)
18. Don’t allow family members to treat him disrespectfully. Defend him to anyone that dishonors his place as your husband.
19. Compliment him often.
20. Be creative when you express your love, both in words and in actions.

21. Talk with him about having specific family goals for each year to achieve together to feel closer as a marital team.
22. Don’t over commit yourself. Leave time for him.
23. Extend God’s grace to him and be forgiving when he offends you.
24. Find ways to show him you need him.
25. Give him time to be alone. This energizes him to reconnect at other times.
26. Admit your mistakes; don’t be afraid to be humble. Peel away your pride.
27. Defend him to those who disrespectfully talk about him. Love protects (1 Cor. 13:7).
28. Respect his desire to do well—not his performance.
29. Rub his feet or neck, or scratch his back after a hard day.
30. Take time for the two of you to sit and talk calmly (schedule it when necessary).

31. Initiate going out on romantic outings.
32. Email him when he’s at work, telling him how much you love him.
33. Surprise him with a fun gift of some kind that he’d really enjoy.
34. Express how much you appreciate him for working so hard to support the family.
35. Tell him how proud you are of him for who he is. Give him specific reasons.
36. Give advice in a loving way — not in a nagging or belittling way.
37. Help your husband to be the spiritual head at home (without “lording” it over him).
38. Reserve some energy for him so you’re not so tired when he want to connect with you sexually.
39. Don’t expect him to do projects beyond his natural capabilities.
40. Pray for him to enjoy God’s best in life.

41. Take special notice for what he has done for you and the family.
42. Brag about him to other people both in front of him and even when he’s not there.
43. Keep conversations brief when he’s tired—so he isn’t “flooded” by too many words.
44. Tell him 3 things you specifically appreciate about him.
45. Honor him in front of the children (differ respectfully in private when necessary).
46. “Look straight into the eyes of your husband when he talks to you or if you’re speaking to him. This will make him feel that you are interested in what he wants to say.” (J. Clain)
47. Get up with him, even when he gets up earlier than you want to and pray with him (you can go back to bed afterward, if possible —it’s a sacrifice worth making.)
48. Be his “help-mate” in whatever ways you sense he needs it.
49. Participate in shoulder-to-shoulder activities with him (like watching a movie and such) without talking. Sometimes men just like to BE with you and not talk.
50. Be a student of his ways so you show your love in ways he best comprehends it.

51. When your husband is in a bad mood give him time to recover. Don’t crowd him.
52. Help him to finish his goals, hobbies, or education when your see he needs it.
53. Treat him as if God has stamped on his forehead: “Handle With Care.”
54. Work to get rid of habits that annoy him.
55. Be kind and thoughtful to his relatives.
56. Don’t compare his relatives with yours in a negative way.
57. Thank him for things he’s done around the house. You’d be surprised how effective this is!
58. Don’t expect credit for all you do for him. Do it as “unto the Lord.”
59. Make sure he agrees with everything important that you’re planning to do.
60. Do little things for him—let him sleep in, bring him coffee, etc.

61. Don’t belittle his intelligence or be cynical in your words with him.
62. Initiate sex on a regular basis. And respond more often.
63. Sometimes let him enjoy his day off work without having to “work” at home.
64. Get to the point in your discussions. Spare him details unless he wants them.
65. Discover his sexual needs.
66. Surprise him with a 15 second kiss when he gets home from work.
67. Wink at him from across the room when you’re out at a group function.
68. Give him the benefit of the doubt when he mis-speaks.
69. Don’t quarrel over words.
70. Be kind and courteous with him. Don’t be more kind to strangers than to him.

71. When things go wrong, instead of assessing blame, focus on how to do better.
72. As a kindness, don’t say, “I told you so.”
73. Try not to argue over money. Peacefully discuss future expenditures instead.
74. Take him out on dates—pre-planning all of the details ahead of time.
75. Hold his hand and snuggle up close to him at times both at home and in public.
76. Praise his good decisions; minimize the bad ones.
77. Tell him you love him more often.
78. Put love notes in his pockets and brief case.
79. Sit with him while he’s watching TV—even if the program doesn’t interest you.
80. Don’t expect him to read your mind (despite your thinking he should— extend grace).

81. Periodically, give him time with his family alone.
82. Check with him before you throw away his papers and stuff.
83. Put effort into keeping yourself in good shape so he’s especially proud to be with you.
84. Let him express himself freely without fear of being called stupid or illogical.
85. Carefully choose your words. Remember to “speak the truth in LOVE.”
86. Don’t criticize him in front of others—keeping his dignity in tact.
87. Visit his childhood home with him.
88. When you’re angry, express it in respectful ways. Don’t give the silent treatment.
89. Pray for him.
90. Make him his favorite homemade soup when he’s sick.

91. Look your best—dress to honor him and make him proud to be seen with you when you’re out together.
92. Support him when someone tries to put him down. Be his best cheer leader.
93. Don’t disagree with him in front of the children.
94. Take him for a weekend get-away without the kids.
95. Cheer his successes whether in business or in other areas of everyday living.
96. Graciously teach him how to demonstrate his love for you.
97. Give him coupons to redeem—maybe for a back scratch or a shoulder rub.
98. Buy him a gift certificate to his favorite lunch spot and put it in his wallet.
99. Hide notes for him around the house where only he will find them.
100. Thank him for just being himself.

Author of this list unknown. Also published on Marriage Missions International, a Christian marriage site dedicated to enriching marriages.

 

Also sharing with Family Fun FridayPretty Pintastic Party, Blessing Counters, and Wedded Wednesdays.

Doubt, Control and Rest

Have you ever wondered if God is real?

To some “good church-going Christians,” the thought of even asking that question may send them into a panic.

But while we may never verbally express this type of doubt, sometimes the way we live our lives is evidence of our struggle in this faith journey.

Real Life and Rest

I’ll share an example from my own life this week.

I’ve been blessed to be a part of a ladies Bible study at a local church and we’re currently using Priscilla Shirer’s video series and journal, Breathe, to dig deeply into the concept of the Sabbath rest.

Some of us are so busy going from one thing to the next each day that the idea of rest seems impossible. Others of us can’t let go of the perfectionistic tendencies and our desperate desire to have things just so.

I was convicted that my lack of willingness to stop and rest is evidence of my lack of trust in God.

While I might be concerned about ALL. THE. THINGS. around the house, with Chuck and the kids, responsibilities at work, paying off debt, selling our house, plans for the future, etc., what I’m truly revealing is my lack of faith that He will redeem that “lost time” for those of us who have a production mindset.

What about you? Do you also struggle with trying to control your time or do you remember to have a mindset of rest?

What tips do you have for remembering to take time to rest your mind, your body, and your soul?


This post is part of Five Minute Friday {Real} where we’re given a writing prompt and encouraged to write for five minutes of free writing. It’s a beautiful community of women sharing their words and wisdom each week! This post contains affiliate links {full disclosure}. Income from the blog helps fund Eva, our sponsored child through Compassion International.

My Plan or God’s Plan?

I’m a planner by nature.

I like order, lists, and knowing what’s going to happen.

My Myers-Briggs personality type is ISTJ. If you look that up, you’ll see words like:

  • organized
  • methodical
  • logical
  • fact-based

Despite a crazy schedule and a house full of energetic kids, my notepads for list making, a variety of productivity iphone apps, these lovelies for all manners of color coding, and a long list of Google calendars keep me organized and ready to tackle my to do list for the day.

desk-notebook-notes

So it’s no surprise that releasing my {perceived} control over everyday situations is a challenge for me.

If you check out a portrait of an ISTJ, you’ll see the words “The Duty Fulfiller” prominently displayed at the top of the page.

There is no question that I relate my performance, fulfilling all of my self-imposed “duties”, to my value as God’s child.

Here’s the thing though.

It doesn’t matter how much I plan my days, weeks, months, or years, as a Christian, it is God who gives my life value. It is HIS vision for my life that is played out through my actions when I surrender my life to Him, moment by moment.

Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
    but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.  Proverbs 19:21

I’d do well to remember to defer to God’s plans, not my own, as I seek to live a life full of purpose and meaning.

How about you? Do you struggle like me to remember to seek the Lord as you make plans for your life?


This post is part of Five Minute Friday {Plan} where we’re given a writing prompt and encouraged to write for five minutes of free writing. It’s a beautiful community of women sharing their words and wisdom each week! Also sharing with the Weekend Brew, Fellowship Friday, and Faith & Fellowship. This post contains affiliate links {full disclosure}. Income from the blog helps fund Eva, our sponsored child through Compassion International.

A Trick for Toddler Tantrums {plus a book review + giveaway}

toddler tantrums 2

I have to be honest.

Parenting is hard work and I’m going to go out on a limb and say I’m not winning the “Mother of the Year” award any time soon. Remember, I’m letting go of perfectionism, so pursuing an award for the best mother ever just isn’t on my bucket list.

Sometimes good enough is good enough.

And although most first time mothers wish they did, we all know hospitals don’t send you home with a user’s manual when they roll you out to your car in a wheelchair holding your new bundle of joy. Newborns, with their squishy little faces and darling coos, grow into willful toddlers and, at least for me, at times it feels like an alien has taken up residence in our home!

My sweet, sweet baby boy has turned into a little man with his own thoughts and opinions about almost everything. His current favorite phrase when he’s frustrated is “NO, I DON’T WANT TO, MOMMY!” and he says it complete with an angry face and a stomping foot.

It’s epic. And not in a good way.

At times I’m tempted to get frustrated right back at him but instead, I’ve found a solution that works every time. Or sometimes. Or once out of every three times I try. {Ahem.}

Reading a book!

Truly, grabbing my frustrated little man, taking him out of his currently frustrating environment, and plopping ourselves on the couch with a fuzzy blanket and a good book is usually a great solution to the mayhem that occurs when his little toddler self is having trouble controlling his own emotions.

This week we received a new book in the mail, so of course this book made it to the calm-down-couch pile of books. {Part of the fun of blogging is receiving books to read and review and this was one of those times}.

The Berenstain Bears’ Please & Thank You Book

I grew up with the Berenstain Bears teaching me all manner of socially appropriate behavior through great quality children’s books. Reading was and still is one of my favorite things to do any time I have a few extra minutes (or hours!).

Please & Thank You Book

I was excited to crack open this cute little board book and see what new adventures Mama Bear, Papa, Brother, Sister, and Honey had in store for me. Small in size, the thick-paged board book is perfect for little hands still learning to turn the pages.

And what better topic for me to read to my strong-willed toddler than a book about manners? In The Berenstain Bears’ Please & Thank You Book Brother, Sister, and Honey yell “I want a cookie!” and Mama Bear is shocked at their poor manners!

In the span of 20 short pages, Mama Bear walks her cubs through a reminder of when to use the magic words – please, thank you, and you’re welcome – and rewards them for doing so with some of her scrumptious cookies and milk.

My “big” kids (ages 2 and 5) listened intently to the book and the littlest asked to read it over and over again, like little ones tend to do! It’s a great book for me to read during our “cool down” times after tantrums as a simple reminder of appropriate behavior and manners.

If you’d like your own copy to use during the inevitable toddler-tantrum moments, you’re in luck!

To win a copy of The Berenstain Bears’ Please & Thank You Book, choose one (or several) of the entry methods below.

Ways to Enter this Giveaway:

I’ll choose a winner on Tuesday, March 3rd. This would be a great addition to a child’s Easter basket this year!

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to the Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification. US and Canada readers/addresses only. Winner must respond within 48 hours or another winner will be chosen.”
This post contains affiliate links {full disclosure}. If you click through an affiliate link to make a purchase, we receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra charge to you. Proceeds help pay for this site and support our recently adopted Compassion International child, Eva, from Columbia.

Finding God in the Seeking {Worship Wednesday}

Finding God in the Seeking

Are there days you question everything? Well, maybe not everything, but do you question whether or not you have any idea what you’re doing at this thing called life?

Oh wait, maybe that IS questioning everything…

Well, that’s me sometimes. So many questions swirl around in my head. At times the doubts become a tornado of thoughts that spin completely out of control. And I wonder.

Am I a good enough wife?

Am I a good enough parent?

Am I a good enough daughter/sister?

Am I a good enough friend/coworker?

My husband says I can be overly critical of myself. In reflecting on his observation, I’m learning I have a tendency to set expectations that are too high for myself. I doubt my own ability to become the best version of myself I’ve created in my mind. I forget on a regular basis to give myself grace.

In reality, I think what’s really happening is I’m trying to rely on myself.

In the past I’ve felt that somehow I should have already “arrived” at the strong relationship with God I’m seeking. I should already know the perfect thing to say to my 2 year old in the middle of the fifth tantrum of the day that will point him to Jesus. I should already know how to be the thoughtful and generous friend I desire to be. I should already have the perfect morning quiet time I’ve imagined a hundred times in my head.

I should, I should, I should.

All the expectations I have of myself can be crippling!

I know dwelling on “shoulds” and my own doubts is not particularly beneficial nor productive. Instead of focusing on the destination (the “I’ve arrived!” moments), I’m learning to find God in the seeking

And so, instead of looking toward myself for the answers when I feel like I just don’t measure up to my own unattainable standards, I’m looking to the Truth instead.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. ~ Jeremiah 29:13

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. ~ Matthew 7:7-12

I read these words and my soul feels a little more rest, just a little more at peace. The answer is right in front of me. I just need to know Him.

I’m learning that it’s a process. I need to keep on asking and seeking before I will find what I’m looking for.

And as I continue to feast on the bread of Truth, I will find Him in the seeking.

It is my prayer for you that you too find God in the seeking. I pray that together we learn to lay down our self-reliant, self-sufficient mindsets and remember who gives us life and breath to begin with. May today’s Worship Wednesday song remind us of how desperately we all need Him.

Oh How I Need You

Lord I find You in the seeking
Lord I find You in the doubt
And to know You is to love You
And to know so little else

I need You
Oh how I need You
Oh how I need You
Oh how I need You

Lord I find You in the morning
Lord I seek You everyday
Let my life be for Your glory
Woven in your threads of grace

Light glorious light
I will go where You shine
Break the dawn
Crack the skies
Make the way bright before me

Performed by All Sons and Daughters.

Parenting With Purpose: Best Podcasts for Christian Moms

 

 

 

Best  Podcasts for Christian Moms

 

It’s evening and the house is quiet. I’m snuggled up on the couch with my oldest under the blanket at my feet and my youngest curled up in a ball on my chest. We’re watching The Pioneer Woman on Netflix make homemade everything with dashes of this, handfuls of that, and of course she “eyeballs” the rest of the ingredients. Anyone want to apply for the position of top chef at my house? It pays in hugs and dark chocolate! 

While I’ve been on maternity leave and taking a break from blogging to love on my new little one, we’ve been so blessed with friends bringing meals and family pitching in to help us navigate our transition to a family of 5. In the meantime, I’ve been cooking up a long list of delicious posts for you!

I’m looking forward to sharing some incredible books I’ve read, continuing Scripture SundaysWorship Wednesdays, and Five Minute Fridays as my schedule allows, sharing about keeping a spiritual perspective in the everyday happenings of our lives, and {starting today} adding more entries to the popular Parenting With Purpose series.

I’m so glad to have you along for the ride as we let go of perfectionism in the day-to-day and learn to embrace the freedom we have in Christ. And if that wasn’t enough…there are giveaways in the works too!

{If you haven’t already…you can sign up to have posts delivered to your email to make sure you don’t miss them.}


And now on to today’s post!

Best Podcasts for Christian Moms

This is a post I’ve been wanting to share with you for awhile now. Podcasts are quickly gaining in popularity as a media form. More and more people are realizing how great they are for learning new things or just for entertainment.

Podcasts tend to range in length anywhere from 15 minutes to 60 minutes or more, depending on the type of podcast. This makes them perfect for listening to while folding laundry, going for a run, doing dishes, or commuting to work.

I first discovered the world of podcasting about 6 years ago while I was pregnant with my daughter. Back then I listened to weekly episodes of Pregtastic, a podcast by and for newly pregnant mommas about all things pregnancy, labor & delivery, and babies. It was set up similar to a talk radio show, except without the rude callers!

These days I tend to listen to podcasts about parenting, blogging, and growing a small business – all things I love to learn about. One thing is for sure, if there’s something you’re interested in, there’s probably a podcast about it!

For busy Christian moms looking for help gaining encouragement and tools for parenting with purpose and creating more God-centered homes, podcasts are a perfect way to learn and grow! 

 


God-Centered Mom Podcast

God Centered Mom Podcast

Why I Love It:

This podcast is hosted by Heather MacFadyen, a wife and mom of four boys. She’s also a Speech-Language Pathologist and the owner of GodCenteredMom.com.

Heather interviews guests discussing the topic of staying God-centered. I love her down-to-earth “real life” approach. She’s quick to admit she doesn’t have it all together and she’s learning along with the listener. Guests on the show discuss a variety of topics but all provide godly wisdom for the parenting journey.

Favorite Episodes:

For Freedom Be Set Free with Francie Winslow {GCM Podcast Ep. 4}

I was in tears for most of this one. And then I listened to it again. Because it was that good. This one will break down barriers in your spiritual life and lead you to more freedom in Christ. 

Hope for the Struggling Mom :: Interview with September McCarthy {GCM Podcast Ep. 15}

I was so encouraged by this episode. September has been married for 25 years and has 10 children. Yes, 10. She is a treasure when it comes to parenting wisdom. You can read more about her story here.

A Pep Talk with Leslie Johnson {SurseeGal} –Yelling/Reading/Needing  {GCM Podcast Ep. 20}

Leslie is an in-real-life friend to Heather and their casual conversation was so encouraging to me as a young mom. Leslie has grown children now and has lots of practical wisdom to share about parenting young children.

Birds & Bees? Oh, help me please :: Mary Flo Ridley {GCM Podcast Ep. 25}

If you’ve been scared to have “the talk” with your children, don’t miss this episode! Mary Flo has been teaching on this subject for many years and has developed her own program called Sooner Than You Think to teach parents how to make these sometimes intimidating conversations with our children easier to approach. You’ll want to bookmark this one to listen to again and share with your friends!

Listen to this podcast on iTunes for iOS or Stitcher for Android.


Parenting on Purpose Podcast

Parenting on Purpose Podcast

Why I Love It:

Parenting On Purpose is a resource developed by Sheridan House Family Ministries for parents dealing with everyday parenting issues. Each episode is right at 15 minutes, making it the perfect length to listen to during a quick run or household task. You can quickly browse past episodes by topic or by date going back to 2009. This is a treasure trove of Christian parenting resources!

Favorite Series:

The 30 Imperatives of Parenting

This is a fabulous series of 30 different podcasts covering a wide range of imperatives related to parenting children with intention, as we treat training up our children “in the way they should go” a priority in our homes. 

Listen on iTunes for iOS or listen on the website


Inspired to Action Podcast

Inspired to Action Podcast

Why I Love It:

It’s like a pep talk for moms. As she describes on her website, Kat brings you motivating interviews, practical tips and lots of fun yet-insanely-useful conversation with people who believe in YOU and the amazing role you have as a mother.

Kat has experience in the radio business, so her podcast is well produced and is always encouraging!

Favorite episodes:

Overwhelmed? Learn To Say Your Best Yes – An Interview with Lysa TerKeurst {ITA Podcast Ep. 57}

Our ladies Bible class is working through this DVD series and in this episode, Lysa shares some key points from her new book. I think we all struggle sometimes with knowing when to say “no” to a request you’re dreading and when to whole-heartedly say “yes” to an opportunity that really makes you come alive.

How Moms Can Take Personal Retreats – with Erin Odom {ITA Podcast Ep. 49}

I met Erin a few months ago at a writer’s retreat and found out that she actually lives less than an hour away from me. So fun! She wrote a great ebook called Your Retreat: A Guide to Giving Yourself a Personal Planning Day and she talks about how any mom can find time for a personal retreat. The 64-page guide includes 35 pages of printables. I’ve found that the book is a wonderful tool to help me define what I want to focus on my life and take some action! It’s available on her site for $3.99 or you can download a Kindle copy on Amazon.

My Story – How God Takes Brokenness Aside and Makes It Beautiful – Kat Lee {ITA Podcast Ep. 39}

In this episode, Kat tells her personal story of growing up without a mom and how God redeemed her situation so that now she’s encouraging moms around the world. It’s a beautiful story of how God weaves pieces of our lives together for our good in the midst of struggles. Warning: you will need tissues for this one!

Listen on iTunes for iOSStitcher for Android, or on her website.


Focus on Parenting Podcast

Focus on the Family Focus on Parenting Podcast

Why I Love It:

Focus on the Family has a long history of providing quality content for Christian families. The guests are always top-notch and provide a solid Christ-centered perspective and advice. I also appreciate the references to scientific studies and consideration of current culture in addressing parenting topics.

Favorite episodes:

Tony Evans – Kids With a Kingdom Perspective

I’m in the middle of reading Tony Evans’ new book Raising Kingdom Kids: Giving Your Child A Living Faith and it is full of practical wisdom on parenting with purpose. 

Surviving Your Baby’s 1st Year Series

This is where I am right now and although it’s baby #3 for us, sometimes surviving is all you can do that first year! This series is full of gold nuggets for handling the variety of stressful situations that come up with adding a new baby to your home.

Listen on iTunes for iOS or on the website.


So there you have it…my favorite podcasts for inspiration and encouragement as a Christian mom.

Even More Great Podcasts…

Wondering what else I listen to while folding laundry or commuting to work? Here are more of my favorites:

The Art of Simple – all kinds of topics around the topic of living simply

Big Boo Cast – two mom bloggers sharing life and laughs

Read Aloud Revival – all about the importance of reading aloud to your kids

RV Family Travel Atlas – benefits of camping with your family, even with young kids

And for those of you who are also bloggers or entrepreneurs, you’ll want to check out these:

EntreFamily – one entrepreneurial family shares their experience & interviews others 

Learning With Leslie – Become a Blogger – Leslie is a great teacher with an awesome accent to boot!

How They Blog – this one is another podcast from Kat from Inspired to Action all about blogging

Smart Passive Income – one of the first podcasts I listened to, this one is top notch & shares in-depth advice for online businesses

Declare Conference – interviews with speakers from the Declare Conference

Brilliant Business Moms – interviews with other brilliant business moms so you can be one too


Ok, now it’s YOUR turn!

What are your favorite podcasts? Share in the comments your favorites so we can all discover the best podcasts!

{Don’t have time to look through all the podcasts right now? PIN them for later!}


Updated: More Reader Favorites

I asked and you answered! Here are some of YOUR favorite podcasts:

The Relevant Podcast

The Phil Vischer Podcast – creator of Veggie Tales & What’s in the Bible?

Good Job Brain

Homesteady

Pioneering Today

Anything & Everything with Alyssa and Jeff

 

Sharing with Wed LinkUp, Grace & Truth Linkup, Pretty Pintastic Party, Faith Along the WayThe Weekend BrewFellowship Fridays,Fridays Unfolded, Mommy Monday BlogHop, Works for me Wednesday, Coffee and Conversations, and Family Fun Friday. Note: This post contains affiliate links {full disclosure}. 

Welcome to the World, Baby Haven

It’s 1:00 am and the words to the familiar Christmas tune ring quietly in my ears:

Silent night, holy night

All is calm, all is bright

Round yon virgin, mother and child

Holy infant, so tender and mild

Sleep in heavenly peace.

Sleep in heavenly peace.

Mothers and fathers everywhere around the world teach their children the importance of the nativity story, the birth of Jesus, at Christmas.

This celebration of the baby Christ child’s entrance into our world, merely days before our own welcoming celebration of our most recent addition to our family, has been a keen reminder of the humble beginnings of our Savior’s life on earth for me this year.

Jesus, carried in his mother’s womb just as every other human baby, burst into the world as Mary labored to deliver him. Helpless and raw and new, he was placed into his teenage mother’s arms to be cared for and loved on, just like every other baby.

It was an entrance like every other into our world. A new soul entering our earthly realm.

A true miracle.

Jesus, our Savior, born into the world as a baby. Sent to deliver us from our own failings, to be our ultimate advocate, to stand in our place, and yet he was dependent upon the gentle care of loving parents to survive.

As I sit in the hospital and reflect on God’s goodness and His blessings to the world through Jesus, I am particularly grateful for God’s blessings on our family this year. While 2014 was full of both incredible opportunities and challenging situations for our family, our biggest blessing has come in the form of a new precious addition, just 36 short hours ago.

So we welcome baby Haven.

Her name and presence are a reminder of God’s nature as a refuge, a safe place for our soul.

Haven and Mommy

Thank you to all of you who have prayed us through this pregnancy and for a safe and healthy delivery. I’ll share more of the story soon, but for now, we’re praising God for a wonderful experience in the hospital.

From beginning to end, we have been blessed with exceptional nurses and staff. As caregivers to us and to Haven, they have treated us more like family than the next patient to be checked off of a list. For anyone who has had an alternate experience, this tender care and attention during these most precious early moments is something to be cherished.

And ya’ll. I’m just convinced there is something special about night nurses on the mother/baby floor. Meet Amy, our “hero of the day” for both nights at the hospital. She’s taken exceptional care of us and we are so grateful. What a blessing!

 

nurse_amy2

*This post is part of the wonderful 5 Minute Friday series, where an incredible community of bloggers write for 5 minutes each Friday on a specific topic. Free writing. No edits. Writing just for the sheer joy of it. Today’s topic was “WELCOME”

Ultimate Guide to Christmas Gifts That Make A Difference

It’s Thanksgiving and families everywhere are gathered on couches, huddled around the Black Friday ads, planning their shopping strategy for the biggest shopping day of the year.

Last year a record 92 million people shopped on Black Friday, with each person spending an average of $407.23 for a total of $57.4 billion spent in one day alone. 

But have you considered this truth?

What if we used our Christmas gift money to purchase gifts that make a difference in the world?

Tuesday, December 2nd is “Fair Trade Tuesday,” an ethical shopping movement in response to Black Friday and Cyber Monday to feature fair trade, ethical, and eco-friendly brands.

Christmas present

Instead of shopping with only the best price in mind, what if we used our purchase power to make choices that empowered others around the world…

– other mothers, fathers, children, orphans, and business owners –

…people just like you and me but with less access to basic needs like clean water, a consistent food supply, a stable government, and fair wages.

This year while attending the Allume conference I was introduced to an incredible group of organizations dedicated to partnering with artisans in impoverished communities to make a difference in their lives. These organizations provide a market for the artisans’ products, creating situations for sustainable income, developing strong community, affirming dignity, and sharing hope.

I’m excited to introduce you to some of these incredible organizations!

In addition to featuring several organizations I’ve connected with directly, you’ll also find a list of organizations below that you can feel confident about purchasing through to ensure your gifts this Christmas not only make your family and friends feel loved and appreciated, but that improve the lives of others around the world.

Ultimate Guide to Christmas Gifts that Make a Difference

The Ultimate Guide to Christmas Gifts That Make a Difference and Give Back


The Root Collective

The Root Collective

Mission:

The Root Collective partners with small-scale artisan businesses in marginalized communities in Guatemala, Kenya, and Peru to promote change through dignified jobs.

You can find out more about the organization’s beginnings and founder, Bethany Tran, on this edition of the Influence Network podcast.

Read more about the artisans behind the beautiful products on the Artisan Feature page. Otto, the shoemaker, is my favorite story! He’s a former gang member employing other former gang members to teach them business skills and create opportunities for a better future.

Featured products:

ballet flats, handwoven scarves, tote bags, and unique beaded necklaces

Special 25% discount with code JOYTOTHEWORLD – valid from Friday, November 28 thru Tuesday, December 2.

The Root Collective Christmas Shoe Tree


Three Avocados Coffee

Mission:

Three Avocados is a non-profit organization founded as a creative solution to ending the global water crisis and educating children, starting with Uganda.

100% of net proceeds provide clean water in Uganda and education in Nicaragua. They aim to provide coffee lovers with a product that enables them to make a 100% socially responsible choice when purchasing coffee.

Featured Products:

Nicaraguan and Ugandan coffee, tumblers, coffee mugs, shirts

*Whole bean coffee for $11.99 a bag!

Christmas Gifts that Make a Difference - Three Avocados Coffee


Ornaments 4 Orphans

Mission:

Ornaments4Orphans’ mission is to empower indigenous artisans through fair trade practices, invest in the holistic care of orphaned children through partners, and provide customers with an opportunity to purchase beautiful, handmade items that bless others.

Featured Products:

ornaments, nativity scenes, jewelry, stocking stuffers, and bowls

Gifts that Make a Difference - Ornaments 4 Orphans


ViBella Jewelry

Mission:

At the heart of our mission, Vi Bella impacts the lives of at-risk women in Haiti, Mexico, and the United States by providing them jobs which pay good wages in safe, encouraging work environments.

Vi Bella artisans “up-cycle” discarded plastic and glass bottles, metal bottle caps and paper, transforming them into unique, handmade jewelry that is truly a work of art.  They then invest all of the profits back into the artisans’ communities, which brings the transformation full circle.

Featured Products:

“up-cycled” necklaces, earrings, gift items, messenger bags, and youth jewelry

November Special – FREE SHIPPING with a $50 purchase. 

12 Days of Christmas Sale – exclusive sale pricing on beautiful, life-giving sets.
Offer valid November 23, 2014 through December 4, 2014, or while supplies last.

Christmas Gifts that Make a Difference - ViBella Jewelry


Nozomi Project: Beauty from Brokenness

Mission:

Nozomi, which means ‘hope’ in Japanese, is a social enterprise bringing sustainable income, community, dignity and hope to the women in Ishinomaki, Japan and the surrounding region by training women to craft unique jewelry products.  One third of these women are single mothers and grandmothers; most of these women lost their livelihood, a family member and/or their home when the tsunami crashed their world in 2011.

Nozomi women are creating one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry featuring broken pieces of pottery left in the wake of the tsunami. Each product line has been named by a Nozomi woman in honor of a loved one in her life. As broken shards are being transformed into beautiful treasures, so too lives are being filled with renewed dignity and hope.

Featured Products:

necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings, framed pendants, and accessories

Christmas Gifts that Make a Difference - Nozomi Project


Work of Worth International

Mission:

Work of Worth is an organization dedicated to utilizing the power of commerce to free the oppressed throughout the world. Work of Worth exists primarily as an import and distribution company for the purpose of connecting entrepreneurs and businesses in the developing world to the Western market.
The Work of Worth team desires to see freedom and dignity in the lives of many through two primary ways:
  • WoW imports and sells fair trade merchandise crafted by entrepreneurs in the developing world in order to promote the long-term success of these businesses. Meet some of the talented entrepreneurs.
  • WoW is creating and implementing a “Work of Worth” certification process. Going beyond “fair trade,” a Work of Worth certification or approval would indicate that a product is manufactured by a company that aligns with WoW’s ethos of non-discrimination, paying a fair wage and modeling respectful treatment of their workers.

You can find out more about Kristi Griem, the current COO, and the Work of Worth story on this podcast of The God-Centered Mom.

Featured Products:

bath and spa products, totes, bags, leather and paper products, scarves

Christmas Gifts that Make A Difference - Work of Worth International


Eternal Threads

Mission:

Eternal Threads is dedicated to improving the lives of women and children most at risk of extreme poverty, trafficking and other forms of exploitation by providing sustainable livelihoods through income generating projects.

Featured Products:

bags, clothing, home decor, jewelry, toys

Christmas Gifts That Make a Difference - Eternal Threads

Christmas Gifts that Make a Difference - Eternal Threads


Even More Organizations With Gifts That Make A Difference:

Amani Africa

Amani ya Juu (“peace from above” in Swahili) is a sewing and training program for marginalized women in Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, and Liberia. They offer a wide selection of fair trade handmade African handbags, home & kitchen décor, jewelry, and children’s items that are made out of local African materials.

Amazima Ministries

Handmade Ugandan necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and children’s jewelry. Organization founded by Katie Davis, author of Kisses From Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption

Better Life Bags

Design your own hand-crafted bag created by women who otherwise would be unable to work. 

Center for Global Impact – byTavi

Seeking to bring the Good News of Jesus to those in the grip of poverty and bondage through education, vocational training and business development. Primarily working in Cambodia, many of those served are victims of — or vulnerable to — human trafficking. Products include men’s items, clothing, bags, scarves, wallets, purses and more. 

Connected in Hope

Offers buyers high quality products (tote bags, scarves, necklaces, children’s scarves, and earrings) made by women who receive fair wages for their work. Reinvests 100% of the net profits back into programs that benefit the women, their families, and the community. 

International Princess Project

Punjammies & clothing created by women in India who wish to remain free from sex-slavery

The LuLu Tree

Creating a market products made by mothers in the slum of Katwe, Uganda. Art, baby items, clothing, footwear, jewelry, and more.  

New Life Threads

Helping women and children in Rwanda move to a place of thriving, bringing dignity, life, love and hope to vulnerable women and families in developing countries. Bags, purses, tablecloths, and table runners

Sak Saum

Battling human trafficking through a ministry dedicated to the rescue, restoration, transformation and rehabilitation of vulnerable and exploited women and men in Cambodia. Providing cross-body bags, accessories, totes, and jewelry. 

Trades of Hope

Jewelry, scarves, stationary, handbags, decor and more crafted by artisans in 10 countries (including the USA) working to break the cycle of poverty. 


This post contains affiliate links {full disclosure}. If you click through an affiliate link to make a purchase, we receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra charge to you. For organizations that use this model, this is part of their marketing strategy to get the word out about their products. Proceeds help pay for this site and support our recently adopted Compassion International child, Eva, from Columbia.

Sharing with Pretty Pintastic Party and The Weekend Brew.

What other fair trade organizations providing a market for artisans in marginalized communities are you familiar with? I’d love for you to share in the comments! 

Want to save this list to refer to later? Pin the image below to Pinterest! Use the social sharing buttons below to make it quick and easy! I’ll be adding to this list as I find even more great organizations in the coming weeks.

The Ultimate Guide to Christmas Gifts That Make a Difference and Give Back

Marriage Reflection & Renewal: An Annual Commitment

It’s a Monday and in a normal week I’d be settled in at my desk by now, working on payroll, grant reports, or calling for a quote to fix whatever problem has cropped up with our office building that week.

Instead, I just hopped out of a shower with endless hot water and no interruptions from my toddler wanting to practice his “aim” in the newly discovered potty, all so he can get the promised one M&M for his efforts.

I’m all stretched out, my 33 week pregnant belly protruding as a reminder of what the coming year will bring.

It’s glorious, this lounging on a hotel bed with clean sheets in the quiet while watching my husband pack up our things as we head to our next destination, The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove for the Christian Blogger Retreat.

Renewal and Reflection

At dinner last night at a local dive we visited 11 years ago during our first end-of-the-year retreat as a married couple, we sat together and began the process of reviewing our year.

This reviewing and reflecting together, it’s something we intentionally take time for every year. 

We first share the highlights of the past year together, remembering exciting events like my daughter’s first day of kindergarten, finding out we were pregnant with baby #3, the growth of my husband’s business, being brave and stepping into this unique ministry of blogging, and my husband writing and launching his first book.

Then we move on to talking through the coming year. We talk about the things we’re looking forward to, the challenges that lie ahead, and the opportunities for growth we’d like to capitalize on. We talk about what we personally want to focus on and identify a focus for our family as a whole. We talk about relationships we’d like to foster and experiences we’d like to have.

It’s my favorite time of the year. 

In the midst of the mundane tasks of the day-to-day, we often lose our spark. We forget the why in what we’re doing. And we’ve learned over the years that a re-set is important.

This time to reflect and renew our commitment to one another, to our family, to our pursuit of God, and to our own growth as individuals is not optional, it’s necessary.

Over the years we’ve had many married friends ask us how we’re able to get away and take this intentional time together. Honestly, we’re blessed with fabulous parents who love our kids and understand the importance of investing in your marriage. But even if we didn’t have such great family support, we’d figure out a way to make this time at the end of the year a priority. It’s that important. 

What about you?

Do you and your husband take time away to reflect on the year almost completed and to plan and dream about the year ahead?

I’d love to hear about some of your experiences – what you’ve tried that works and what doesn’t. Do you use any particular resources to assist you in your reflections? If not, what would be helpful to you?

My husband and I are passionate about our end of the year reflection time and would love to serve you in the future with resources for doing just this thing. How can we help you? I can’t wait to hear!

Blessings,

LeeAnn

Sharing with Marriage Monday, Wedded Wednesday, and Inspire Me Monday.