Sunday, November 27, 2011

Free Christmas Printables!

I have been meaning to catch up on some blogging for a while - I have two book reviews to do and some general catch up, but I know that time is of the essence to let you know about some free printables for your use in time for Christmas found here.  

I have really enjoyed this website and when I was asked about reviewing these printables, I was happy to spread the word!  There are four printables to choose from, depending on your needs:

  1. Christmas Gift Planner
  2. Christmas Baking Planner
  3. Christmas Budget Worksheet
  4. Christmas Checklist
I love the layout, the colors, and the fact that Jessalyn makes them available for free to you.  I also like the fact that you have the option to print them in color or black and white!

 This is a quote from the website about the printables:  

 "I hope these Christmas Organization Printables will be a blessing to you as you prepare for that wonderful time of the year when we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior! Each printable has a color and black and white version.  Merry Christmas Planning!"

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Where have I been????

It's been over two months since I have posted, I think.  My good intentions at being a dedicated and faithful blogger have fallen by the wayside of daily life - - - although I still love being able to write when the mood strikes, the mood strikes when I am in the middle of something more urgent it seems.

Anyway, I have been meaning to come and pop in here for a while and share something that God has been impressing upon my heart lately.  I seem to have come upon a stage in my life where God has been leading me towards stillness, solitude, a quiet heart and life.  This is something I have desired in theory my entire adult life, but in practice it has taken some HUGE adjustments on my part to deal with the reality of it.

I am not living life in a stress-free and calm bubble - no, far from it, but I am being led to a place where my strength, health, and even my voice are only possible on a daily basis through HIM and Him alone.  I am a singer, a teacher, a leader - - - and I rely on my voice to be there for me.  I seek to meet the needs of those around me and accomplish many things each day - - - but there are days now in my health recovery journey where I have to take it as it comes.  I have good days and even better days and I am learning that it is only through God that I have what I need for each day, and that I have to rely on Him to have peace in that.

I have always relied on hard work and dedication to help me achieve many of my goals, but now my goals are changing and becoming very home and family-centered.  I don't feel a need to get myself out there right now.  I am enjoying homemaking, homekeeping, some volunteering, and nurturing others, especially my husband and my kids.  It's been a struggle in dealing with lowered energy and my voice having no strength. . . but in the silence of it all I am hearing God's voice clearer than I ever have before.

Rather than struggle and fight against this time of quiet and stillness, I am choosing to embrace it as God's plan for me right now.  Although the enemy wants to steal my voice and my ability to lift my voice in praise and prayer, I can still rejoice that he can't take my joy and the spirit of prayer and praise from my heart!

Sometimes I have fear that I won't recover, I won't reclaim my voice, that this is how it's going to be from now on - but then the LORD rushes in with His peace and I take another step to trust Him in the process.  You can't rush healing and I am ready to take the time I need to get back to full health and balance in my life, and hopefully, keep my eyes on Him, soaking in the lessons of this stage He has placed me.

Ecclesiastes 3

1To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
 2A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
 3A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
 4A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
 5A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
 6A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
 7A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
 8A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Some thoughts on being a mom of a teenager. . . .

I am a mother of a teenaged girl, and all that entails.  We have a wonderful relationship, complete with the common daily ups and downs, but I desire for us to be closer and have those heart to heart moments you see advertised as what constitutes a close, intimate relationship. 

Reality being what it is in the modern-day American life, I know that without God and His touch upon my life and in our relationship, we will grow apart rather than closer.  Friends, media, and outside influences are bombarding my daughter with messages that are anti-family, anti-God, and anti-modesty.  How can I possibly compete with so much that seeks to bring her heart away from me?

One way that I intend to be intentional in seeking out her heart is to start a weekly study with my daughter and spend time together with her, alone, over a cup of tea (mint preferably :-).  I have been praying and seeking God to know what He wants me to do to prepare for best caring for our relationship and seeking a deeper intimacy with each other as she walks over the bumpy path of growing into a woman, with my help. 

This is what He shared with me.

  1. Become a student of my daughter

I must know what makes her heart beat and what things are her passions.  I must seek to know her likes, dislikes, and seek to experience her life, as she does!  Intimacy comes from shared experiences; perhaps I even need to listen to her radio station in the car (! :-)  and get to know her friends.  In becoming a student of my daughter, I learn who she is and what makes her unique.

  1. Become available and flexible with my time

We run around in circles it seems in our society with the many obligations and schedules we try to keep up with each day.  The first thing that suffers when we get too “busy” is our relationships; family time and the ability to be there for our children cannot be scheduled into when it’s convenient for us.  My daughter needs me, more than any committee, ministry, or organization.  May I be there, ready, when my daughter looks to me, even for something trivial.  Being there for something small means I can be trusted and available for the bigger things in her life.

  1. Become her safe place and tenderhearted

My daughter is longing to feel accepted and safe with someone; I hope to be intentional and available in being that person in her life who is able to hear her out, pray with her, and then support her as she faces what life is throwing at her.  If a mom isn’t available, then most daughters seek out another sympathetic ear or shoulder to support her and give her advice. Although I am not perfect and do not have all the answers, I pray that I can remember that when I turn her away by my attitude or actions, I am opening the door for her to seek out what she needs from me from someone else.    

I know that many ups and downs lie ahead; I know also that God will lead me as I lead her.  Although I am not a perfect mom, I know the Perfect One with all of the answers and I will remember the three things He placed on my heart today.  Praise you Father for your Wisdom!

Be blessed – reaching for the Hem!


Book Review: Father-Daughter Study: The Three Weavers

     The final book that I was sent to review was a surprise to me:  it was a book for fathers and daughters!  Not only was I excited to see that, but my husband was also!  The book, The Three Weavers, Plus Companion Guide  is geared for fathers and daughters (ages 12-18 years old) to read and discuss together, just like the mom-daughter books from Pumpkin Seed Press.  This book, however, has one theme and focus:  A Father's Guide to Protecting His Daughter's Purity (summary from book cover).

     Most fathers feel like they have been called to a task that is both scary and unknown:  how to raise a lovely, pure, and healthy Christian young lady.  Some fathers probably feel like they have no idea where to start to know how to talk to and encourage their daughters in this area; many if not most are comfortable leaving this area to the moms to handle.  The fact remains, however,  that our daughters crave and need a father's attention, input, and guidance in this area more than that we can imagine.  Mothers can teach, mold, and model the way to be a woman after God's own heart, but it is the fathers who can truly protect and shield that young woman as she grows and matures into God's lady.

     Being able to read and talk about the concepts and truths in this book can help a father know where to begin in influencing and molding his daughter's heart in this area, and, as a result, give her what she needs from him: sensitive instruction and his attention.  This study is set to be a total of 7 weeks and the book is structured  to be very easy to start and follow from start to finish.  I was excited to see a weekly checklist for fathers to use to prepare for the weekly study, along with each Chapter reading, discussion questions, activities, and a section for the father to study each week all included right there in the book.  Everything is ready to go; no preparation is needed!

     In doing this study, fathers are encouraged to invest the time each week to build relationship with his daughter and be intentional in his actions and words that he speaks towards her.  I was most encouraged to see that this study builds towards a commitment on the part of the parents and daughter towards protecting and saving her purity in mind and body for the man God will choose for her someday in marriage, culminating in a purity ceremony and token of beauty given to the young lady.  Can you only imagine how many more young women would understand and value their purity if their parents took the time and energy to share how much it means to them?  

     Rather than hoping and praying that our daughters will learn of God, develop His character, and walk in His ways, we can gain resources like these and take time to spend with them, working through these concepts together, and praying for God's wisdom as parent and child, to seek to live in way that pleases Him. I believe that these books and resources from Pumpkin Seed Press will prove to be a blessing to you as a mom (or dad) seeking to impart and teach the ways of God in the lives of your daughters.  Start today - and may you see your relationships grow and deepen with each other and with our God!

May He Be praised!

(This book was sent to me by Pumpkin Seed Press
in exchange for my honest review.)


Book Review: Mother-Daughter Bible Study: Beyond Beautiful Girlhood

     The second book sent to me for review was Beyond Beautiful Girlhood (plus Companion Guide).  Again, the artwork and design were eye-catching and so beautiful to me as I am very attracted (and distracted) by the visual parts of a book.  This study is for mothers to help guide and train their daughters in managing their homes, lives and spirits (summary found on book cover) and is a perfect study for those young ladies ages 13-21.  

     Just like Beautiful Girlhood, this book is meant for a mom and daughter to go through together, spending time each week in discussion and prayer.  This book has the original text coupled with the companion study, and the questions, activities, and resources inside are so rich and thorough.  I can see that this book would document such a special and intentional mother-daughter time; even now when reading it for this review, I could sense God's direction and tugging on my heart to get started on the sections for moms, to prepare myself to lead my daughter into His ways and calling as a Christian woman.

     This book is not only beautiful (like all of the books available from Pumpkin Seed Press), but it is also very visually organized and easy to follow (which is very important to me too).  This study, depending on how long you plan to take with each section, can take anywhere from 7-21 weeks.  

Each Chapter of the book has the following format:  
  • Chapter to read together
  • Reflection for Mom (Mother to Mother)
  • Mother's Journal and Bible Study
  • Daughter's Journal and Bible Study

     The thing that impressed me the most was the fact that the book (study) encourages the discipline and enjoyment of the Daily Quiet Time.  More than anything else we can teach and model for our daughters, the pursuit and development of time spent each day with God is the most important, especially at this age, and, I believe, will become the foundation of their entire lives.  I was so blessed to see this encouraged for both mom and daughter.  What intimacy can be gained from time spent in the Father's presence and then with each other, not only as mom and daughter but fellow women of God!

     If you are looking for a mother-daughter study that will bring you closer together, open up communication about topics that can foster a life grounded in God's Word, and prepare your daughter to confidently face growing into a woman, this is a wonderful resource for you!  How thankful I am to be able to have this book to share with my daughter in study soon.

     This book can be purchased on their website: here

(This book was sent to me by Pumpkin Seed Press 
in exchange for my honest review.)


Book Review: Mother-Daughter Bible Study - Beautiful Girlhood

I  am so excited to share with you some great resources available from Pumpkin Seed Press for parents who want to mentor and prepare their daughters for life in both character and actions.

(These books were sent to me in exchange for my honest reviews.)

     Pumpkin Seed Press sent me three of their devotional books for review this past month. Before I even started reading, I was so impressed and blessed by their quality in artwork and design and the extensive resources for parents listed in each book.  I can't wait to start these studies with my 13 year old daughter soon, the first being "The Companion Guide to Beautiful Girlhood" for young ladies 8-15 years old.

     I have heard of the original book by Mabel Hale/Karen Andreola entitled Beautiful Girlhood, and I had been hoping to start this study with my daughter.  How exciting to learn that there is a companion guide to this book!  In the companion book, moms are encouraged to spend an hour a week with their daughters reading the original text, going through the study in the companion book, and spending time in prayer for a total of 32 character training lessons/weeks.

     That may seem overwhelming and too much to take on at once, but this book is organized into each weekly session, pre-printed with questions to discuss, ideas for application, and space for journal responses.  All I need to do to prepare is spend time in prayer, then open the books, read the Chapter for the week, and  follow the rest of what has been prepared in easy steps in the book to train and mentor my daughter.  All of the steps are laid out for me; I just have to prepare my heart, listen to God's voice and leading, and set aside the time to spend with my daughter over a cup of tea.

     If your heart's desire as a mom is to spend intentional time each week with your daughter covering the topics of womanly character, Biblical truths, and moral values, I highly recommend this book and study as one you should pursue with your daughter.

     The Companion Book can be purchased at their website: here  Shelley and the Pumpkin Seed Press company also has a companion website for moms who desire community and ideas in starting this study with their daughters called B'twixt and B'tween.  Please go there to join a community of moms and daughters going through this study all over the world.  There is much to be gained from community and fellowship; I can't wait to get started!

Thanks Shelley for your efforts in this for us!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Just checking in. . . briefly!

Well, I am not becoming the most dependable blogger around as you can see;  I am doing my best to let blogging and the Internet have their place . . . and their place is to come after things with the higher priority.  I'm trying to remember that I have other things to do besides be on the computer.  I am loving the feeling I get from working towards a more balanced life right now.  That being said,  I think of blog posts ideas and things I want to write all the time, it seems, but they come at moments when I am not near the 'puter!


Update on the Technology Challenge:

I have managed keep off of the computer, like I had hoped, the last two Sundays.  Doing this with myself, I have started to notice that my kids and husband are really tuned in to the 'net or TV the majority of the time now.  Hmmm . . . . Maybe that will be the next challenge coming up after this one ends. :-)   To be honest, I feel like keeping my Sundays free from checking in online and trying to get some things done on the Internet after this challenge ends.  It's become a way of life for me and I am really enjoying the feeling of being unplugged in this way. My husband and I will talk it over and pray about it to see if God is leading us to do this as a family.  We'll see what happens.

I haven't been well in body this week, but God has really blessed my spirit in so many ways.  I am so thankful that He is allowing me and helping me become a person who can tune in to the needs of others and do my part to meet them in some way.  I won't go into detail, but being able to become more home-centered in my life and slow down my pace is opening doors of service and opportunities to be His hands and feet with those He brings across my path.  Although there's more I could say on that, I will sign off now and get back to some tasks and family time.  Lifting up those with needs today!

May you be blessed and know that He is near!

Reaching for His hem,


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"Be Authentic" - At the Well

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. 
The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” 

James 5:16

     I'm joining in today with "At the Well" and their challenge to blog on the topic of Being Authentic: being real, honest, and true with one another about what's really going on with our lives.

     I'll be honest here from the get-go:  it's hard for me to admit and share about my struggles and limitations with just anyone but the people who have proven to be "safe" in my life.  I think that there is wisdom in that since we don't need to be spilling our guts and sharing the secret parts of our souls with just anyone - - - BUT, keeping everything to ourselves and pasting on a happy face when we need support is robbing us of God's blessings in this area.  

     I know this to be true; I have lived it first-hand when there were times in my life when everything was falling apart . . . and I was all alone.  In that moment of truth, when you feel your foundations crumbling underneath your feet and you are reaching for that Hand to hold, God sometimes will send a real-world angel of encouragement to be Jesus in the Flesh for you.

     All too often when dealing with a personal crisis of any size we retreat into ourselves and the people who love us are left feeling like there is nothing they can do to help us.  They stand willing and able to meet the real needs we have at that very moment, but in our hurt and pride we turn away from them (in fear, anger, confusion) and in doing so, turn away from something special that God is wanting to do for us . . . through them.

     Like I said, I am the biggest offender in this area.  I have lived almost all of my 35 years not letting anyone see my imperfections, my limitations, my failings.  I was consumed by perfectionism and wanting to appear capable of dealing with everything in my life. I still don't want to impose or have to rely on another person;  I desire to have all of my loose ends tied up and all look beautiful.  Living with the fear of failure and being consumed by pleasing others can make it look like I have no need of God and His help for me.  

     In being authentic here, I must share that I am dealing with health problems that limit my energy and ability to remain as "busy" as I was before, out of the home, on a daily basis.  I have had to learn first-hand how to rely on God for my next step, my next breath, and my very life.  I am actually in a fragile state of health right now IF I don't remember that I DO have limitations physically.  I have neglected so much for so long that it's time to  face the reality of how things are, and by HIS Grace, work through it all.

     But, praise God for allowing me to partner with Him in His sufferings and to be walking in this journey of faith.  There are so many things I want to DO and accomplish for God, others, and myself - - - but it feels like I am in a waiting period right now.  I have been so used to working hard and setting goals that I am in a foreign land of taking one day at a time and valuing a new kind of normal.  I am learning that waiting and resting are the other sides of the coin of moving forward and achievement.  You need both to please God and have a balanced life.  We all need to rely on God and NOT ourselves.

     Being a classic overachiever and a person that could never say NO are part of the reasons I am dealing with having to rebuild my energy levels at the age of just 35.  I literally was burning the candle at both ends and ended up running out of wax.  I am learning to cherish and even crave a slower-paced lifestyle and each day provides more opportunities to see how my Father God is caring for me right now.

     I don't know what the future holds,  but like the saying goes, I know WHO holds the future and I trust Him more today than ever before.  I trust God for His healing hands to cover me, but in the meantime, I am listening to His heartbeat and learning how to rest in Him.  There are blessings to be found in the waiting, in the healing, and in the resting and renewal.

To God Be the Glory!

---Reaching for the hem, 


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Update: Pulling the Plug on Sunday Challenge, week 1

     I can honestly say that pulling the technology-plug last Sunday was less challenging than I expected, partly due to the fact that we were out of the house almost all day and I was away from my computer, etc.  We had church, a potluck, and spent the remainder of the day out at my mom's house.  I did allow myself a few minutes in the morning to peruse my email in-box to check if there was an email from my pastor regarding worship that morning (I play the piano), but other than that I didn't turn on the computer, read emails or blog updates, and look on Facebook . . . and it was WONDERFUL!  

     That may sound strange coming from a Blogger, but, at heart, I am one who cherishes the old, simple ways of life and focused, intentional relationship and conversations.   I felt less stressed, rushed, or distracted when "unplugged" all day last Sunday.  I was tuned in more to my family, especially when talking with my husband and kids.  I made eye contact and didn't feel frantic, trying to do too many things at once, even if it is something I do to relax.  (I'm still learning how to do that too. . . :-)

     During the day, I found myself becoming more aware of all of the times that I normally feel led to check my phone (emails) and Facebook as a general rule, and how easily it can be a distraction for me, even as a person who isn't techie by any stretch of the imagination!  I also started noticing how many other people were screen-watching all around me. It's become an epidemic today in our society and people feel the need to be "too connected" and unable to stay with the here and now because each notification sends them into a panic to check into what's new and what they may be missing.  

     What was once a huge faux pas has now become the norm.  Most of us wouldn't think to take a phone call when visiting or out to dinner with someone, but we screen-watch our phones, checking email, updating Facebook, and texting back and forth.  Most if not all of that can wait until we complete the time we spend with that one person.  Doing those things, when trying to be there for someone else, is an indication, directly or indirectly, of how we value them and the shared relationship.  I believe that we can show them their value by letting the other stuff go.  It can wait.  Yes, it can. :-)

     Although I am thankful for the advances in technology we have been given, I feel like it has taken the place in our society where we once placed a larger emphasis on authentic, face-to-face relationship building and one-on-one interaction.  Connecting through a screen and technology is a blessing, but, if given the choice,  I still prefer the real interaction we can have over a cup of something warm, looking into someone's eyes, or holding onto a real card or hand-written letter.  It's like the difference between eating a piece of mom's best apple pie, savoring the flavors and the enjoyment it brings to share it with someone, or just seeing a picture and the recipe in an email, sent to you by your mom.  

I'll take the apple pie please.  I'm choosing 'apple pie" Sundays from now on.

(Picture found on Google Images)

Reaching for the Hem, 


Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Freedom that comes from Submission

(Photo found on Google Images)

I've always considered myself to be a very traditional person, especially in my roles as a wife and momma to three kids. I desired from such a young age to exemplify the Proverbs 31 woman and live my life according to Titus 2.   Everything else was secondary to living for God in my home and serving my family.

I have been so blessed to be married to a man who loves, leads, and serves me according to God's plan.  We have a beautiful  marriage relationship and share an intimacy that I only dreamed about when praying for my future spouse.  I thought that I was being the epitome of the perfect wife (ha ha) in all the ways that mattered, but God has shown me an area (just one of many) that He desires to have full control: the area of submitting to my husband. in. every. way.

I have never had an issue with submission, at least what other people would notice.  I tend to be a passive person, and I'm not one to be bold and take charge of a situation.  I desire to have my husband lead me and make the decisions he feels is best for our family.  We both serve the LORD and our convictions match almost all of the time.  What was the problem?  What issue would *I* be having with submitting to my husband?  Was I really hearing from God in this?

While in prayer recently, the thought came to mind that I have found it easy to joyfully submit to my husband the majority of the time because he was leading us down the path that I thought we should be traveling on already.  *Lightbulb* How hard is it to agree with someone who is telling you what you want to hear?  My husband loves me so much he doesn't expect unrealistic things of me or hold me to a standard of perfection in how I love him and serve our family - - and he praises me and upholds me in my primary role of wife and momma.  The issue is: when I sense he is asking me to step out of my comfort zone and let him lead us into where HE feels God is taking us, I find myself hesitating to fully trust and step out in faith in him.

On the outside, I appear to be submitting to my husband, but inside I am filled with so many doubts and fears.  What are we going to do if _______?  Did he really know what God wants us to do with _________ ? Is he really hearing from God completely or do we need to ____________ ?  As a woman with that sin nature as Eve's daughter, I am learning that I have tended to question and doubt my husband's decisions and leadership (wise and loving that they are) rather than submit to him without reservation and complete trust in God's plan and decision to make Randy my head and leader.

I had this issue come to light just recently when Randy advised me and lovingly decided that I could be a full-time homemaker.  This is the answer to so many prayers and the deepest desires of my heart for so long . . . but, I doubted and worried, fretted and looked for a part-time job.  I actually had someone offer a job to me that I considered for a moment, worried that we will not have *enough* money to survive from day to day.  Rather than embracing the freedom that comes from being submitted to my husband (God) in this area, I CHOSE to take on the yoke of bondage to fear and trying to find my own way into freedom from financial pressure.

Each day, each moment, each breath finds me grappling with the decision to choose the freedom that comes from having a submitted will to my God first and my husband second.  I am praying that as I rest in the peace in knowing that God is leading my husband as he is leading me and our family, I can truly start to walk in victory over the enemy that is working to make me desire the power and control over my life.  Not my will but HIS be done in all things.

I thank God, that even in this area, He is still molding, preparing, and shaping me into the woman He has called me to be.  My God LOVES me, my husband LOVES me, and in choosing to submit and trust them to care for and lead me, I am given the freedom to rest in His promises and build up my marriage and family in His ways.  Amen!

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.
Proverbs 14:1

*This post is also linked to on the following sites: *


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"Pulling the Plug" on Sunday Challenge

(Picture found on Google Images)

     This may seem like a strange thing to come from a person who has just started blogging again, but I am feeling like God is calling and challenging me to set aside my Sundays as a "technology-free" day and take any freed up time and invest it in the relationships around me.  

     We get tempted to cram as many things in to each day and Sundays are no exception.  We run to church and run home.  We run errands and do chores we don't get to during the week.  We may even take the time to sit on the computer blogging, reading blogs and email updates, or catching up on Facebook.  I know that I have been someone who has spent time on Sundays doing those and many other things, especially when I worked online. I had to fit in the work when I could, and Sunday, other than going to church, was crammed full of the same work, stress, and checking things off on my to-do list that I was consumed with every other day of the week.

     Although I am not working a job now (Praise God!) and God is allowing me to be a full-time homemaker and become more home-centered, I can see that without some self-control I will continue to have my time and my tasks manage me.  I am choosing to be more mindful and intentional in this area; I pray that I can manage my time better and delegate my tasks to other days during the week to keep Sunday a day of rest, rejuvenation, and revival.  This challenge will be a step in better self-control and will lead me towards this goal.

     In choosing to do this, I am not being ruled by some outside standard of legalism and I don't want to put this challenge on anyone else, but rather I'm being compelled by a personal conviction God has placed on my heart in this area;  I want to be more intentional in spending time with my family and in worship of my Father God all the time, minus these modern-day distractions.  Setting aside my Sundays to "pull the plug" on technology will be a step in the right direction.

     Does anyone care to join me?  Pray and ask God to show you if He desires for you to set aside Sunday (or even part of that day) for private worship with Him and time spent investing in your family and relationships.  I intend with His strength to set aside the next four Sundays and not spend time interacting with media or technology, other than using my phone as necessary.  I pray that in doing this, He will draw all of us in my family closer together as we draw closer to Him.  

     His Handmaiden, reaching for the Hem,


A link to this post is also found here:


and here:

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Repost: I am so blessed. . .


         It's hard to know where to begin with writing this essay.  Everyone thinks that they have the most handsome, most thoughtful, most romantic husband when deciding to enter these contests.  In taking a moment to gather my thoughts before writing, I have to ask myself the question of what makes my husband Randy different, a cut above the average man. What sets him apart and gives me no doubt that he is the one who has earned the title "#1 Husband and Father" if not for this contest, but always in my heart? 

     The answer is simple, and yet profound:  he loves me with the unconditional and self-sacrificing love of Christ. I don't want to spoil a great love story by giving you the ending first, but Randy is the husband and father he is today only through the fact that Grace has made all the difference in his life.  Without Christ teaching and leading him daily in how to be a man after God's own heart, we wouldn't have a marriage approaching our tenth anniversary this year or a healthy, loving home for our three children. 

     Randy and I are both from "broken" homes and were children of divorce; we both experienced seeing our parents not make it to "forever" and didn't have the best examples in marriage and family life.  I married young and had to go through the loss of my first spouse to infidelity and single motherhood in caring for my young daughter.  Randy came into my life when I felt the most unlovable, unwanted, and discarded.  The first time I looked into his eyes however, I saw the love of Christ and the potential restoration of what had been taken from me . . . . I knew I could trust this man not to do anything purposely to hurt me . . . and by God's grace, that has all come true.

     There isn't such a thing as a perfect marriage or a perfect spouse - - - but I have the closest thing to that every single day and I don't take a moment of it for granted.  Through the last ten years, we have experienced many losses together:  the loss of a child, the loss of a business, the loss of his father, the loss of my health . . . and each time I have seen Randy come under me to support and defend my needs before his own.  We have also faced many moments of bittersweet joy together:  the birth of two more children after complicated pregnancies, buying two homes, watching our children grow and mature each passing day, and the blessing of praying for and loving each other through the ups and downs of daily life. Through it all he has been the steady support that has carried me through the life we share together.

     I have so many moments that have frozen in time in my memory when I knew that I saw Christ working for and loving me through my husband.  When the rubber really meets the road and all the potential "hazards" of life come into view, Randy has always shown me how much he loves me through his words, his touch, and his actions. 

     He has always treated me like a lady: preserving my affections and showing me such honor by asking for my hand from my father and then waiting to kiss me until our wedding day.  He is a "gentle-man" and is always respectful of me as a woman and sister in Christ.

     He has held my hand and prayed for me in childbirth and before many surgeries, soothing my fears with his quiet, steady presence.  His is the first face I look to find after the anesthesia fades.  He is my safe place.

     He sends me to bed early and looks out for my needs as he stays up late to wash the dishes, even after having a long day at work.  He misses much-needed sleep for me.

      He calls me every day on his break at work and patiently asks me about my day, along with sending me loving and uplifting text messages.  He invests himself in me.

     He loves spending time with his family - and is willing to give up HIS interests to do so.  Although he loves to watch sports, he lets the rest of us choose what to do, even at the expense of not being able to watch "his" teams.  He knows that his family is worth more than anything else in the world.

     He encourages me to have social time out with my friends each week, and although he hasn't been out alone with a friend more than 5 times in the last ten years, he is willing to send me out for some "me" time.    He never complains about the amount of extra work that he will have to do to make that happen. He cares about my needs and serves me by caring for our children.

     He works, tirelessly, to provide for our family so that I can follow my dream and calling to be a SAHM (stay at home mom).  I am speechless when I think about the sacrifices he has made to see this come to reality in our family, even with sometimes working two jobs to take care of the finances.  He isn't afraid to be responsible for our family and our future.

     He is always affectionate, patient, supportive, romantic, and self-sacrificing; most importantly, however, Christ has free reign to work in and through him to love me (and our children) unconditionally.  I don't deserve such love . . . but again, neither do I deserve Christ's love and sacrifice.  I am a very blessed woman, indeed.

     The thing I have learned most during the last ten years of our marriage is that, just as I had to make the choice to accept the Grace given so freely to me through Christ, I must also daily choose to accept and cherish the love and self-sacrifice of my husband.  There are times even still when I feel so unworthy of the gift of this precious man and his love for me.  In gratefulness and my daily service, I hope to "repay the debt" of love of both my God and my husband by choosing to accept that love that comes from both and offer what I can give in return - - - my whole heart.

I pray this debt will never be canceled. 

Happy Father's Day to my husband, my friend, and my love, Randy. 

Always your love,


Book Review: Life Without Limits

(Pictures on this post are from

Through videos on YouTube, the information on the Internet, and other forms of news media, most people have been able to learn and be inspired from the story of Nick Vujicic. This young man has become a hero to many, as he seeks to invest his life serving and inspiring others through his example of living a life without limits. 

He has been able to travel the world as an inspirational speaker through dedication, hard work, and fortitude, and he has been able to achieve many if not all of his childhood dreams. What makes him a remarkable man and his achievements so noteworthy is the fact that Nick has never let his life be limited by the fact that he was born with no arms or legs. He has had to open his mind and choose to live a life without limits - - - and the world has never been the same. 

I was able to read this book at a time when I was at a crossroads in my own life - I was seeking to know what to do about where I was at this point in my mid-thirties with being newly unemployed and seeking to know where I was called to go next. I was feeling trapped by my circumstances and unable to see how I was going to find my way out of this into the next step. Nick spoke to me, through this book, and I don't think that I will ever be the same again. 

He opened my eyes to see myself as a person of value, a person who can make a difference, and as a person with only this moment, this day, this life at my disposal. I know that I want to make it count! I don't want to waste a moment looking back; he encourages us to open your arms and mind to imagine the possibilities of what you can achieve when you purpose in your heart not to limit yourself by your attitude, the fear of potential failure, or the immense needs of others out there in the world. Each of us are here for a reason. . . and by seeking to make a difference in the lives of others we meet each day, we will find out true calling and life's work. 

By reading the accounts of his struggles and triumphs, along with his positive, encouraging words, I felt the flame of passion for serving and following my authentic calling again. This 30-something wife and mom of three kids was able to remember what it was that I used dream of doing and what I pursued with passion. Reading his words made my heart soar and my spirits rise! Nick's love for God and people comes through on every page, and his humorous take on rough times reminded me again of the importance of keeping an great attitude in facing the hard times; humor is the pillow to catch is when we get pushed to the floor in life! 

I would recommend this book to anyone, especially since the message is timeless, inspirational, and genuine. He has a pure heart of love for all and the enthusiasm he has for experiencing all that life has to offer really touches me. Nick works so hard every day to reach the stars in every area of his life that he has set off a tidal wave of service and philanthropy. Make each moment of your life count by investing it in the lives of others. Doing so will enable you to also live a life without limits!


Disclaimer - Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group gave a free copy of this book for reviewing purposes.

Book Review: Lioness Arising

     This is the first book that I have ever read from this author, although I have heard of her and been intrigued by the titles of her works for a while.  When I found out that I could receive and review this book, I immediately could sense that it would change my life; there are books that can do that to the reader by just them reading the synopsis.  I can honestly say that from the moment I opened this book, I was not disappointed.  She has put words to my heart's cry.  

(Photo found here

     Lisa Bevere, along with her husband, are the visionaries behind Messenger International,  which seeks to "inspire(s) godliness while imparting freedom through uncompromised messages releasing people into their fulfilled life in Christ" (quote from their website).  This book, the latest in Lisa's focus in calling women into the truth of God's Word, takes the metaphor of a lioness and a modern-day Christian woman and weaves a riveting account of how God can use the lioness-woman to:

  • be a stunning representation of strength*
  • fiercely protect the young*
  • lend your voice to the silenced*
  • live in the light and hunt in the dark*
  • raise a collective roar that changes everything*
           *Points found here, at her website.)

     Too often, it becomes easy to be focused on the here and now, in the small bubble of our own existence (and fight for survival) as modern-day women, even as women of Faith.  Lisa challenges us to start thinking of the impact we can (and should) be having on our world by becoming women-warriors who are mindful and deliberate in our focus to impact our world for Christ, as individuals and as a group united with a common calling.  

     As an English teacher and a lover of the written word, I throughly enjoyed the fact that she was able to take the metaphor of the lioness and develop it fully, weaving Scriptures throughout her book, showing me the truths of this concept.  Once I was able to finish reading and close this book, I was inspired anew; I could see that I needed to redirect my thinking to be intentional,  powerful, and visionary, according to the Word of God and not my narrow-mindedness of "reality" versus having the eyes of faith.

     After reading this book, I am reminded again that nothing is impossible for women of faith to achieve when God has called and then equipped all of us, regardless of our personal, daily tasks, age, or situations, in reaching our family, friends, communities, and the world with the truth and clarity of the Gospel and the Love of God.  For such a time as this, yes, we as women of God are called to be world-changers according to the lioness roaring inside all of us.

Will you listen and heed the roar of your sisters in the field?  We are calling you to unite and join us as we redeem the time and change our world for the Glory of God!

Disclaimer - Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group gave a free copy of this book for reviewing purposes.

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Book Review: Love at Last Sight


   It was the title that drew me in and hooked my interest to open this book to learn ASAP what would lie inside the cover.  With a title like "Love at Last Sight" one might take a guess that this book would be another run-of-the-mill self-help book, and I admit that I wasn't ready for the impact this book would have in my life and my relationships. I'm only getting started in absorbing all that this book had to offer.

     Right off the bat, this book started with the encouragement to choose three relationships that are not where you want them to be at the moment or that could be improved upon using the steps outlined in the book.  Immediately, I felt convicted, knowing that although I do my best to ensure that my conscience is clear towards others and I don't harbor any known grudges, there are relationships in my life that I value that haven't stayed as close as I want them to be. I immediately was awakened to the fact that I could do something about that.

     Rather than waiting on that other person in the weakened relationship to take the initiative to reach out of do something to improve things between us, I decided to seek God in knowing how *I* could be the one to make the first move, even if I was thinking it was "their" turn.

     The Shooks (the authors of LALS) have set up a wonderful website and developed a SmartPhone App that helps the reader apply the concepts in the book even more.  By taking this 30-day Challenge, you will learn how to practice the Four Lost Arts of Relationship Building:

 1. The Art of Being All There

 2. The Art of Acting Intentionally

 3. The Art of Risking Awkwardness

 4. The Art of Letting Go

     I can't report on how the relationships I am working on are improving; only God knows the ending of the story He is writing about them.  I do know and can report that I am left with the peace in knowing that I am taking an active role in improving the relationships in my life.  With God's help and the tips provided in this book, we can all have Love At Last Sight.

Disclaimer - Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group gave me a free copy of this book for reviewing purposes. 

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Friday, July 29, 2011

A new direction

I am not new to the world of writing and blogging, but God has impressed upon me that I have needed to take this calling upon my life into a new direction.

I am not looking for praise, fame, glory, or self-promotion in starting and posting to this new blog; may all that I do here and the words I share through the blogging world be a blessing to the One who has called and encouraged me in this.

May He be praised!

His Handmaiden - reaching for the Hem,

--- Gina