Sunday, January 14, 2018
Thank you all who entered the giveaway for Lee Nienhuis’ book “Brave Moms, Brave Kids”.
Congratulations to the winner Carla!
If you didn’t win, you can preorder the book still through Amazon, Target, Barnes & Noble.
Check out Lee’s page for more information about preordering the book and other places you can order.
Saturday, January 13, 2018
Tuesday, January 9, 2018
Do you know what your greatest strength is? Could you list off your top three strengths?
On the flip side...weaknesses.
Do you know what your greatest weakness is?
Let's go a little deeper.
Looking at each of your children:
Can you list their top three strengths? Can you identify a weakness of theirs?
If I am asking for you to answer those questions, I need to turn the questions on to me to be fair.
My strengths: compassion, creative eye,
My weakness: I am very hard on myself
T: creative, imaginative, observant/has a hard time using words first instead of actions
A: strong, determined, helper/he is two, he gets stubborn sometimes
Knowing the strengths and weaknesses within ourselves can help us to learn more about who we are and our tendencies. It helps to grow and helps to understand deeper. If we focus for too long on one end or the other it can leave us feeling unbalanced.
As it goes with our kids. If we focus on their weaknesses, they never continue to build on where their strengths are. They won't be nurtured deeper. But, if we only focus on their strengths, they don't learn to identify it, how to handle their weakness in a suitable way, to understand failure is a part of life and it is okay.
We can't all be good at everything all the time. And we can't all be good at the same things. Our strengths and weaknesses do define us to one degree or another. But they also shouldn't limit us either. We need to know where we are strongest and be able to identify where we are weakest. Because through our strength we can help others and fill in where they are weakest. On the flip side, through our weaknesses, we can gain help from others who are stronger in the area.
If you want a chance to win a copy of the book "Brave Moms, Brave Kids" by Lee Nienhuis comment below by answering the questions:
What is your greatest strength? What is your greatest weakness?
What is your child's greatest strength? What is your child's greatest weakness?
And then head over to the "Brave Moms, Brave Kids" Book Giveaway blog post to enter.
Starting today, Tuesday, January 9 at 3 p.m. you can enter to win a FREE copy of Lee Nienhuis's book "Brave Moms, Brave Kids".
Just use the entry form below to get your entries in
The contest ends on Friday, January 12 at 11:59 p.m. A winner will be picked randomly Saturday and when the book is released a copy of the book will be shipped to the winner.
I will notify the winner by email and also announce it on my website.
You can enter the book giveaway below
"Brave Moms, Brave Kids" by Lee Niehuis Book Giveaway
Monday, January 8, 2018
Believing God, not just believing in God, but truly, wholeheartedly believing God.
Our lives are filled with ups and downs. It is like Andy Andrews says "Well, if you think about it, the reality is that we’re all either in a crisis, coming out of a crisis, or headed for a crisis. It’s just part of being with us on this planet.". These crisis are our battles.
We face battles every day all day long. We face them so often that we tend to pass through them without noticing, without knowing, because they have become such a part of our life that we no longer act on instinct, but we act on habit.
For example, the first time your kid throws an all out tantrum. It doesn't matter where you are, you try to diffuse it as quickly as you can. But at a certain age, tantrums become commonplace. As they happen often enough you learn the warning signs one is coming, how to handle them and work through them, and how to work towards putting an end to them altogether.
The in between time becomes a battle with emotions. You are trying to help them work through them in the best way possible so they can learn how to work through them on their own, at some point. But in the meantime, you are , in a sense, in war mode, battle mode.
You may be in the trenches each day, but there will come a time when you all crawl out onto the other side stronger, more courageous, filled with hope ready to face the next battle that comes. Some battles are easier to face than others. Some are shorter than others. Those bigger ones, we come out with a stronger warrior in us. The littler ones, those prepare us for the bigger ones.
God doesn't give us more than we can handle. Though at times it seems like it is too much, especially when the battles are much bigger. It was never said that things will always be easy and easy to navigate. But what if in those harder times, when we feel we are sinking more than floating we turned to God and instead of believing in him, we believed him? Wholeheartedly, mind, body, soul believed him.
Like Lee says in the book: "It involves knowing our God and knowing His promises. The difference between desert and bounty in our faith all hinges on one thing: our ability to believe God."
How strong is your ability? If I were honest, mine isn't as strong. Yes, I believe in God, but I am learning more each day to believe God.
We can face our battles and we can become stronger. Why? Because, as Lee said, "Christ is infinitely stronger than the Enemy". And because of it we can be stronger. Likewise, so will our kids.
We have two choices every morning we get up. Even before our feet hit the floor, we have a decision to make. Do we thank God that he is directing our day and commit ourselves to Him? Or do we allow all the pressures of the day, all the hazards of motherhood direct our thoughts?
Which one will you choose? Either way, your kids will pick up on it. If we believe God and we model it, our kids will see it. And on the flip side, if we show our kids to that we are allowing all the pressures direct our thoughts, they will see it too. Both will have a profound impact on them.
What if before we leave our bed, we put on our armor for the day and ready ourselves. Prepare for what we can, let God handle the rest, and lead our kids in a way where they can be heroes of the day too.
Big or small actions will snowball, and will have a lasting affect on those around us.
As many of you know I am blessed with being a part of a book launch team for the book "Brave Moms, Brave Kids" by Lee Nienhuis.
As I have been reading, I have been sharing some of the insights and things I have learned or found helpful along the way.
But I realized that I haven't mentioned much about the word BRAVE. I did it in all caps because each letter represents an action to delve deeper.
I do need to say that the book has a way of connecting with God and growing deeper in your faith. So if you are looking for a great book that helps you grow and show your faith so that your so that your kids can follow in your foot steps, it is a great book to add to your reading list.
The book talks about BRAVE, raising heroes, and allowing us to face our fears. Helping to lead this next generation to know and follow God as well.
Well, what does BRAVE mean?
B: Believe God
A: Ask Forgiveness
V: Vigilantly Pray
E: Equip Them
The first four letters how us as moms work through this plan, and the last letter helps us prepare our kids.
We face daily battles and so do our kids. How do we prepare ourselves and them for those battles? Walking through each of the letters, leading us to be brave, allows us put on our suit of armor so we can prepare. It helps us get our kids ready.
I have been looking to grow more spiritually and this book is helping me. It goes beyond and deeper, building connections of understanding scripture, realizing the fears we have and why, changing the perspectives I have had on some things.
As I go forward in the book, working through each letter of the word BRAVE, I will share more about my findings.
I hope to bring you along on this journey with me. Let you have an inside to the book and see if it would be a good fit for your reading list. The book doesn't come out until February 1st, but you can pre-order it now and get some awesome freebies too. I use some of the freebies in my daily quiet time. I use the bookmarks with a focus on one letter at a time and I use the My Child Be Brave card to pray over my kids.
There are many things you can take away from the book while reading and carry it through your day, each day.
Saturday, January 6, 2018
I breastfed both my kids. With my oldest, we made it until 11 months. His choice to stop. I was told by many other moms that kids don't self wean. He would most likely go back to it. Not my kid. He went on a strike for a week when he was 10 months old where he would latch just long of enough to make things flow and stop. My only choice was to pump and give it to him in a sippy cup. I wanted so much to keep nursing, because well you know, everyone pushes to breastfeed until at least a year old.
But at 11 months he downright just stopped. He wouldn't even let me pump. I still did, just to adjust myself to being done. When he turned 1, that was my last week leading up to his birthday. I was done. He had been so scheduled with his feedings it was actually easy to be physically done. It was the emotional side that was hard. But once we moved forward a couple of months the new freedom was refreshing.
In one hand, I was relieved. Because I was just pumping to wean myself and freezing the milk. I had nowhere to go with it during the time. Later, I did find someone I could donate it to. In some ways it helped with the transition and knowing I could help someone out who needed it was a blessing.
But on the other hand, I felt defeated. I felt that my body had once again failed me. I couldn't even make it he turned one. And then after I watched friends make it to one and even continue. I only wondered what was wrong with me, why did it end, and why had I failed. I thought by having to stop early, he would be missing something.
After the fact, I realized he was just fine and would continue to be. I greatly appreciate our pediatrician because at the time she listed off my options going forward: keep pumping and give it to him in a cup, switch to formula, or switch to whole milk. I asked her what she would honestly do (being a mother of many kiddos, I wanted her mom option, not her doctor one). She said that she would just make the switch to whole milk. Pump until I was weaned. That way he only had to make the transition to something different once.
Now, my youngest on the other hand was a different story. He went until he basically 14 months. I was pleased with myself and ability, I had actually made it to one year, which made me feel that my body indeed didn't fail me again. It was just that my kiddo was done when he wanted to be before.
By the time he was three months old I was ready to be done. I hated nursing. I disliked it for having to use a shield again, but I hated it for the fact that my oldest hated every time I nursed. It made it that much more stressful. I used everything to distract him while I had to nurse that I could. Even more so, as time went by, I was basically an open buffet 24 hours a day. I went from having one kid with scheduled feedings because that is how he rolled, to having one who would just graze and eat whenever.
Still, I wanted to try my hardest to make it to age one. I wanted to know it could be done. It did finally get better because I could nurse at times when my oldest was distracted (like while out and about) or while he was sleeping. And I managed to get off the shield early on, which as nice as it was to have, it was such a blessing to be done with it too.
Once he got to age one though, I thought how can I be done with this all. Well, he had a plan for it. He dropped multiple feedings quickly. So quick I never had a chance to adjust to it all enough before he dropped the next one. In just a few short weeks we went from over feedings a day to none.
While the sense of freedom was much appreciated, I was a mess. As much as I wanted to be, it didn't seem to go the way I had thought. And even , now my oldest still tells me how much he hated when I nursed his brother.
Having kids changes you more than we ever know sometimes. And it really is different with each kid. But I have to admit that even though we made it past age one the second time around I still felt like I had failed and did something wrong.
I am not sure why exactly, but maybe it is because of the perceived judgment that many moms face. We all too often compare our lives, our insides, our happenings to the others around us and their outsides. And even when do open up in honesty, sometimes we get shut down quickly because we are told that can't happen.
My oldest, I was told they can't self wean and they don't just give it up, they will come back. Well he did and he never came back. My youngest, yup, he self weaned too. Just in a different way than his brother, but he did it his way.
No matter how you choose to feed your kids, you do the best you can with what your resources are. And sometimes, the bond and connection with your kiddo can be better if you make changes in how you feed them. I was given the suggestion, well the okay, that if for the sake of my bond and connecting growing I needed to give up nursing before age one that is okay. I had at least made it as far as I did.
The words of encouragement far reached deeper than I could have imagined. My doula was the one who said, if you need to sacrifice nursing in order to have a better connection with your child, then it is okay. If you needed to end it because you needed to tend to the connection and relationship of your other child as well because it was all to stressful for everyone, than that was okay.
We learn to adapt as our situations change. What helps the most through it all are the words of encouragement someone else can give to you. Or the words of me too. At the time of nursing my youngest, my sister in law was nursing her youngest. She felt the same way and wanted to be done early on too.
But as moms we push through, help each other, and continue to do the best we can for as long as we can.
Just know, that wherever you are in your parenting journey, wherever you are in your feeding journey do what is best for all that is involved. That is what makes the difference in the long run.
It is easy, it is hard. It takes a lot of patience and time. There is bond and growing time that comes from it. Having your kiddo fall asleep while in your arms nursing is an amazing site. It's okay to want to be done and it doesn't matter how far you got you tried. However your kiddo is getting milk will make them stronger and healthier is the best way. You are stronger than you realize. You can do this.
Thursday, January 4, 2018
With every good morning routine and quiet time, there goes an evening/bedtime routine and quiet time. The two together round out the day and can even make sleep easier and better quality.
Just with rising at the same time most mornings, going to bed at the same time most nights is just as important if not more. Having a consistent bedtime, makes getting up in the morning easier (and easier at the same time), sets your day up, and also can end in better overall sleep quality usually.
I put as much focus into my evening and bedtime routine as I did into my morning one. Going through the "Rise & Shine ~ 10 Challenge" from Shawn at Abundant Mama helped to guide me through creating this important routine too.
After the kids go to bed, I do a final walk around and pick up. I do any prep needed for the next day and catch up on emails and social media. I try most nights to set aside technology an hour (roughly) before I plan to go to bed. Though I will admit, most nights I do end up watching some t.v up until bed time. I just try to limit my multitasking. After emails and social media are done, I work through my Gratitude Journal, (This year) the Happiness Project Book, and then read my current book.
Head to bed, pray before I fall asleep, and hopefully fall asleep quickly. If I can't fall asleep, I close my eyes and start listing off the blessings in my life. Then I usually drift off to sleep and if the kids sleep well, generally so do I.
I have found that I need the quiet time to start the day and to end the day.
How do you end the day?
If you missed my post about Why I Rise Early and the quiet time routine I go through when I rise early click here.
How do you start your mornings?
Nowadays, I tend to rise early, at least as often as I can. This hasn't always been the case. I used to sleep in in any chance I got and even on work days/school days I would hit the snooze 2 or 3 (or more sometimes).
As with age and time, we go through different seasons in our lives. These all change and as they do, so does our need for sleep. Add in kids to the mix and now your sleep schedule tends to be dependent on them.
There is an importance to tuning into your body clock. Finding that natural sleep rhythm helps days go more smoothly, you have more energy, and things just overall feel more balanced. It is natural for us to rise with the sun and go to bed when it goes down. But what do you do in the middle of the Winter in Minnesota when the sun doesn't wake until 8, but goes down at 4? It makes it hard to keep that same rhythm.
I have found that the time I naturally wake up (during months when the sun is up at a more reasonable time) is right around 6:00. So during the shorter sun days, I set my alarm to help continue it.
Beyond getting up at the same time as often as we can, it can go a long way in the day by having a reason to get up. Yes, kids are a reason, but when we are startled awake when we hear them, that changes things. Having a reason to get up, to rise early, before the kiddos do makes getting up easier and you can ease into the day.
For the longest time I would sleep until the last minute, quickly get ready for the day, and head out. It went that way, day in and day out, that it became habit. Then I had kids and my sleep schedule became dependent on them. It wasn't until their sleep regulated, that I could go back and reset mine.
I will be honest, in our house we are early to rise and early to bed. My oldest, almost 5, starts his bedtime routine at 6:30 and is generally asleep around 7:30. My 2 year old is 7:00. But on the other end, both are up early, by 7 most days. It works for us for many reasons and even more importantly it fits with their sleep rhythm the best.
Now that both my kids have generally fallen into a more predictable sleep routine, I can reset mine. I can regularly, with ease wake before the kiddos and gain some much needed quiet time to start the day.
I have come to the conclusion of this:
- If I choose to sleep in, it will leave me with less time to get ready for the day, less quiet time before the kids wake up. Which, ever now and then is needed, but ultimately leads to feeling discombobulated if I let it happen too many days in a row. Things just don't seem to run as smoothly, energy wears out quicker (patience sometimes too), and I am left unbalanced.
- If I wake (and go to bed) consistently at the same time I feel like I have more energy, I get to have some longer quiet time, and have the time to get ready for the day. The day seems less chaotic, I feel more ready for the day, and have energy (usually) to carry me through.
If you have a purpose to get up early, it makes it easier. Turning over and starting to fiddle with your phone sifting through emails and social media probably isn't the best thing to do right away, but there are other ways you can ease into the morning. Just save the technology until you are more awake.
Making a morning routine out of it all, beyond getting ready for the day, can go along way. But where do you start?
I have done several things to get me started. Reading and listening to Andy Andrews on the topic of rising early got me started years back, before kids. But the "Rise and Shine~10 Day Challenge" from Shawn was what I did, twice now since having kiddos. Each time after my son's sleep schedule became more predictable.
It is a free 10 day challenge where she sends tasks by email to complete to help set you up for success to rise early. It all comes down to what you want your mornings to look like. You can sign up for the challenge by clicking here.
I finally got into a natural rhythm as we entered Fall. I wanted to rise early as often as I could, to have some quiet time before the natural noises of the day take place once everyone wakes up.
I knew I wanted to incorporate time with God each morning (and evening too) so I found a devotional that was a good fit. I had come across the devotion "Sunset with God" years ago when it was gifted to me. It has been by far my favorite one to read through. So, I went with that and found a "Daybreak with God" version.
I also began working through the book "Pressing Pause: 100 Quiet Moments for Moms to Meet with Jesus" by Karen Ehman and Ruth Scwenk. This journal book offers a scripture, story, and a few questions to think on. They are short and meant to do when you have a few minutes. But you can also go deeper and take longer if you have the time. I was blessed to be gifted this book.
With the start of the new year, I am changing things up a little. I still rise early, I get ready, I still maintain a focus on God, and I journal. Then I run through emails and social media quickly. If I have extra time or if an idea for my blog comes to mind or I need to write openly, I will write or at least jot down some notes so I can come back to it later depending on how much time I have. Sometimes, if the thoughts are pressing, I save the emails and social media for later and write.
I always keep a notebook next to me (a great idea I got from Jill Savage) to write down any wondering thoughts, things that needed to get done, or for some quick journaling on the side. I also use the same notebook to take time to write out blog posts or at leas post ideas that come to my mind. I seem to be able to write better in the morning, but don't always have time to type it up. So I jot down a few mental notes to help me remember so I can go back to it later in the day.
But instead of using the devotion book and the pressing pause book, I am working through my Brave stuff. What is Brave stuff?
I got an amazing opportunity take part in a book launch team for "Brave Moms, Brave Kids". When I received the book I received a "My Child Be Brave" card and Brave Bookmarks (where one side is verse and the other is a prayer). I use one of the bookmarks as my focus for a period of time, reading through the verse and then doing the prayer. I move onto the Brave card, then finish with the journal.
My sister in law gave me the "Start Where You Are" journal for Christmas. I am just a couple of pages into it. I am trying to be intentional as I go through it and seeing where it leads.
I share this all with you, one because I want to share ideas of how one can rise early, even with having kiddos. And two, because I know it's hard to get started sometimes. Sometimes we even have to start over and begin again. So, I wanted to share how I have been managing it and working through it all.
This year, I want to be more intentional with my time. Those quiet moments are not only important self care, but they are important in the way I connect. Connect with God, my family, myself, and the day. To learn more about who I am and tap more into my heart. To help move past the fear, the anxiety, and the negative self critical inside voice.
So, how do you start your mornings?
With mornings, ending the day with a similar quiet time routine is a great way to settle into bed for the night. If you want to read more on my evening routine click here.
Wednesday, January 3, 2018
That's not to say that I don't believe in God, because I do. It is just that my faith didn't start growing until I was in college. Yes, I went to church growing up. But after confirmation sports and school life took over, faith kind of took a back seat. A seat at the dinner table when we said grace or in church on Christmas and Easter.
I didn't get it. Why the connection? Why did we need it? In fact (which I hate to admit) I even chuckled a little at those who had to get up early and head to church. It wasn't until Freshman year of college that I began to feel something missing and a pull towards developing my faith more.
As I started this journey, my boyfriend (now my hubby) told me how happy he was to have me going back to church and building my faith. He wasn't sure how he would answer the kids one day when they asked "how come mommy doesn't go to church?"
Yes, I know that faith and believing God goes beyond the church. But the church can be a good foundational step on which things can be built.
I began attending church, when I was back home. Though I tried while at school, I just couldn't find the right fit or didn't quite feel comfortable. But I did remember back to church camp how much I enjoyed evening vespers. Sitting by the fire, reading scripture, answering questions, singing songs and occasionally being near the lake and hearing the waves on the shore as the sun began to set.
To be honest, that sounds like the best way to go about church. Though, when it's -15 below out in the middle of Winter in Minnesota...well I probably won't be sitting out by the fire and by a lake singing songs anytime soon with weather like that.
What I did find while in college was the Newman Center. Even better, was that it was located right across the street from my dorm room. Every Wednesday found me there in the company of other college students, working through scripture, singing songs, reflecting, asking and answering questions, and more.
With time I knew my faith began to deepen. I have face some rough waters over the years, but God has been there and looking back, good has come out of it all. But somehow, my spirituality moved to autopilot.
It wasn't until recently that I began to rise early with a purpose. That purpose was to spend some quiet time with God. Through devotions, journaling that is based on bible verses, and prayer I began to refuel my spiritual tank. Adding in a gratitude journal and some other journaling at night, along with reading books (especially ones that connected God, faith, motherhood) and prayers as I lay in bed have rounded out my day.
My oldest has had a growing interest in God and bible stories, always asking questions. And for a 4 year, he can ask some pretty tough questions. But we work through them together, even surprising myself that I am able to answer sometimes.
He now has a devotional we use in the morning to help guide him through the day. And we have some really good books from the God Gave Us series that we pull from throughout the day. He and his brother have been listening to Music Machine the car anytime we are driving somewhere. It is their request and while sometimes I wouldn't mind the change (as we have been listening to them solidly since Summer) the lessons in the songs are important ones to learn.
I tell you all this because recently I had an aha moment. A connection made during my morning quiet time. You see, for the past couple weeks I have been reading the book "Brave Moms, Brave Kids" by Lee Nienhuis. When I got the book, it came with a few freebies. One of the freebies were bookmarks. Brave bookmarks. 5 individual bookmarks that are the essence of the book: Believe in God, Reflect, Ask Forgiveness, Vigilantly Pray, Equip Them. On one side is a bible verse, the other a prayer.
I made the decision that I would use one bookmark each week as a part of my morning quiet time. Right now I am using the Believe bookmark as my focus. I have been using it longer than a week, but that was because it didn't feel right to move to the next one yet.
The verse is from Hebrews 11:6 "Without faith it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek"
Strong verse. But it didn't hit me until I read it the other morning and after the umpteenth time of listening to music machine that I had an aha moment. There is a song on one of the Cd's simply titled "Faith". It starts out with the words "Without faith it's impossible...".
That is when it all seemed to connect as I began to play the song in my head. Yes, without faith things do seem impossible. But if we continue to have faith, to believe God, to grow our spirit the rewards are endless. That is not to say that it will all be easy, it just means that even through the hard times, God is there and our faith can remain strong.
If we refuel our spirit, we can help our kids to do the same. When they are younger, we answer their questions as they come up and show them through us and our believing how to do the same.
Here are the lyrics to the song:
FaithFrom Music Machine - The Fruit of the Spirit (Available with full CD)
Without faith it's impossible, it's impossible
It's impossible to please God
He who comes to God must believe that He is
And He rewards those who seek Him
All things are possible, all things are possible
All things are possible. Just believe
God will do everything that He says He will do
And He rewards those who seek Him
Without faith it's impossible, it's impossible
It's impossible to please God
He who comes to God must believe that He is
And He rewards those who seek Him
Sung by Frank Hernandez
Written by Frank Hernandez & Sherry Saunders Powell
©Copyright 1977 Sparrow Song (a div. of EMI Christian Music Publishing)|(Admin. by BMG Music Publishing) Careers-BMG Music Publishing, Inc. (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing)|(Admin. by BMG Music Publishing) Candle Company Music (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing)|(Admin. by BMG Music Publishing)
And if you want to listen to it, and it does actually have a catchy tune, you can listen here: