At first I was afraid, I was petrified.

​The notion of having a one word for the year seems to be getting more popular, and it’s very interesting to read what others are picking and why. Last year my word was “fearless” and man, that stretched me in all good ways. I learned there were many more fears in me than I was even aware of (and some I was getting really good at labeling ” being cautious and wise” when in fact, it was just plain ole fear). It was a little scary at first, but nothing compared to this year’s. Interestingly, as soon as I started thinking and praying about this year’s word, it was very clear what it should be.

Community. 

Yeah I neededed a big coffee and a maniac face after that word hit me. Community. 

And that includes specifically my neighborhood – people I so rarely see and really don’t know. And that includes specifically the people I see regularly – like retail staff and car mechanics and librarians and oh man, those challenging employees I really don’t enjoy interacting with but won’t name here (some people came to your mind too).

And I’m not gonna lie, I tried to change my AND God’s mind.

As a huge introvert and Highly Sensitive Person (yes, it’s an actual thing), the last thing I wanted was a whole year’s focus being on people I am not already friends with or related to. And not just any people, but those people outside my house. The horror! I’m already overwhelmed and may need to lie down.

But last year’s word helped me see how much fear there is in the world, and fear just doesn’t magically appear out of thin air (even if it seems so), but is the direct product of hurts. And oh my word, there are more hurts in all of us than many of us realize. Some big, some small, all making an impact on our fear/anxiety level.

So… what? Who’s gonna help these hurts? Well, it’s not gonna be political leaders, it not going to be those yelling on social media*, it isn’t even solely going to be church leaders (they can’t do it all). People like me, with the dramatic todder with chocolate perpetually on her face. People like me, with a car that has a few parts being held together with duct tape. People like me that are tired, busy, and would just rather curl up under a blanket with a good book.

I have been the person thinking, “I wish someone would call**, write, drop me a line, just something to show they care.” There are so many of us out there wishing the same thing. So yes, it will push me out of my comfort zone, but it seems a small price to pay to show love to all these people that are near me and made in the image of God. Because sometimes people just need a smile, a quick note, a hug, a listening ear, a muffin.

Hey, I have all of those.

Do you have a word for the year you’d like to tell me about? If not, would you consider thinking and praying about one? You can find more info anywhere by searching “one word for the year” or going to OneWord365 or searching #oneword365 on Instagram. You’ll be inspired and let me tell you, you pick a word? You’ll be changed. If you need help picking a word, let me know in your comment and I’ll email you some tips to get you started! 2017 can be amazing!

*I am all about some social media. It has positively changed so many things about my life but I’m not ignorant to its potential problems. So, while sharing and reading things on Facebook etc., is great, it’s not a stopping point. Most of us need more. 

** If you know me at all, you saw “call” and instantly replaced it with “text” because I don’t talk on the phone if I can help it. I mean, just go ahead and delete that feature from my phone, thanks.

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Pampers Easy Ups Review

​Was given a free sample to review. These Pampers Easy Ups are soft, the elastic gives without chafing, and they’re adorable! And my daughter can pull them up and down herself! She got really excited to see Hello Kitty on the pull up… and Thomas the train – yup, she wore the boy’s pants too!

Now, if only Pampers could make the toilet more appealing to her…


Wanna try some? Get your $1.50 off coupon (and some other great Pampers coupons) here!

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You’re Welcome 

It’s so easy to assume why someone votes the way they do. Many people have assumed who I did vote for and many have assumed who I didn’t and all the reasons that go with it. But honestly, here’s all I really wanna say right now: You’re welcome.

If you voted for Clinton, Trump, someone else, didn’t vote, or couldn’t vote, you’re welcome.


If you’re black, white, brown, or any other shade or race, you’re welcome.


If you protested the results, think the protests are ludicrous, don’t know what I’m talking about, or don’t care, you’re welcome.


If you are Christian, Muslim, atheist, agnostic, or anything else, you’re welcome.


If you are male, female, or don’t know, you’re welcome.


If you are gay, straight, asexual, transexual, or anything else, you’re welcome.


If you’re American, Russian, Congolese, Taiwanese, or any other nationality, you’re welcome.


If you are legally here, illegal, working on it, or not, you’re welcome.


If we agree on everything, nothing, somewhere in between, you’re welcome.


If you have non working legs, eyes, fingers, kidneys, or something else that doesn’t work right, you’re welcome.


If you eat too much, drink too much, smoke too much, or anything else too much, you’re welcome. 


If you carry a gun, don’t carry a gun, are afraid of guns, or don’t care about guns, you’re welcome.


If you believe life begins at conception, birth, or some other time, you’re welcome.


If you’re a millionaire, penniless, on welfare, living paycheck to paycheck, or anything else, you’re welcome.


If you are an accountant, a stripper, a bus driver, jobless, living in your mom’s basement, or anything else, you’re welcome.


If we have argued, frowned at each other, had heated debates, only ever said sweet and shallow words, or anything else, you’re welcome.


If you say Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, I Hate December, or anything else, you’re welcome.

If you are Clinton, Trump, or anyone else, you’re welcome.


You are welcome at my dinner table, and in the seat next to me at my church. And I am committed to trying to live this every day. I am not perfect, but please know this is written deeply in my heart.

 

Photo by @GreengateImages

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You’re God’s Girl! *GIVEAWAY* and book review!

Confession: I don’t have a tween-age girl. What I do have is a girl who is 7 going on 17, so I think it’s safe to say I’m not crazy for getting ready for the tween years.

And that is why I was excited to be given this book, You’re God’s Girl by Wynter Pitts to review! It’s a devotional especially for tween girls, and I have to say, it’s FANTASTIC.

I seriously wish I’d had this when I was younger. The intro to the book talks about the importance of spending time with God and every day there is a devotion that is challenging and engaging, but also encouraging and not so long to be tiring. 

Each devotion touches on a real issue that tween girls think about and deal with, and each one finishes with an activity or writing challenge (even crafts!) and is all tied in with scripture. The graphics in the book are cute and endearing.
Resources like this lessen the dread of (and actually make me excited about) these upcoming years, so I’m storing this one somewhere safe til my girl gets just a tad older to really benefit from this!

You can get your own copy here!

AND there are a couple really cool extras available too:

You’re God’s Girl Coloring Book

*Sterling Silver Necklace for your God’s girl

They would make a great combo gift for like, birthdays, Christmas, Tuesdays… whatever!

I was given a copy of this book to review. All opinions are honest and completely my own!

**GIVEAWAY TIME**

Wanna win your own copy of the devotional?? All you gotta do is share this review post on social media somewhere and leave me a comment here with your favorite color and where you shared it! Each share qualifies for a new comment! For example, “My fave color is purple and I shared on Facebook” is one entry, “My favorite color is still purple and I shared on Instagram” is another entry! Winner will be randomly selected  (and emailed!) on October 31st!

EDIT: GIVEAWAY CLOSED! Winner has been randomly selected! Congratulations, Lorraine! 

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When the Mama Bear inside You Comes Out

I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

I worked 2 summers in Yellowstone National Park and I watched many times as a baby bear cub played happily and a tourist started to get close to take a picture. I always cringed and shouted, “Hey!! Back up!! Mama bear is close by!” Sometimes they  heeded my words and when mama showed up, there was nervousness (from everyone), but she quietly collected her cubs and left.

But there was that one time, when that person kept inching closer and mama bear arrived ready to fight. Thankfully, nothing horrible came of it, but I’ll never forget the way mama bear looked that day. Her eyes were wide, her mouth open, fur on her back bristled, and the concentration? Fierce. She was ready to take that guy down, and fast.

As parents, the same can happen to us. Our alarms go off from time to time when questionable things happen with our kids and sometimes, when a real attack rears its ugly head, we bristle, tighten our fists, ready for a fight.

When Naomi was in Kindergarten, I thought, “What could possibly happen?” because apparently I forgot what kids are like once they start talking.

She quickly excelled, was given special tasks, and was made a leader. She taught others what she was learning and it was well received by the other kids – except for one. Yup, one girl who was none too thrilled that Naomi was special. And she reacted. Naomi came home more than once confused and one time in tears because the girl teased her and never had a kind word for her, even yelled at her more than once.

My first reaction? Bristle. I could feel it coming, the readiness to fight. I didn’t want to fight that little girl, but I was ready to confront the teacher with the issue and the parent of that kid. But, I’m glad to say, I remembered how I’m supposed to react. I took a minute to digest and remember that while this was small, it still required a holy response.

two-verses-for-attacks
The Bible clearly shows us what to do in times of attack:

  1. Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; protect me from those who rise up against me; deliver me from those who work evil, and save me from bloodthirsty men. Psalm 59:1‭-‬2
  2. I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Psalm 57:9‭-‬10

Naomi and I talked about how her classmate was probably jealous of the attention she was getting. And while her motivations didn’t make her actions okay, it made it easier for Naomi (and me) to calm down a bit. And then we prayed.

We prayed for the classmate’s heart and we prayed that God would protect Naomi as He saw fit. We talked about how good God is. He put these words in the Bible to give us a real example through David of what to do when attacked in both big and small ways.

That little 5 year old’s jealousy didn’t have much lasting effect, but it was still doing damage. It was still an attack. And these small attacks are practice for what is guaranteed in the future — troubles.Jesus said, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Her troubles are fairly light right now in her 1st grade life, and it’d be easier (yet not helpful) for them to stay that way, but it’s been guaranteed that they won’t. There will come a time when confrontation is needed and we are called to act (prayerfully), but these verses will still apply. God uses these small tribulations to prep her for the big stuff to come.

Oh, yeah, and prep me too, because heaven knows I still need it.

A Prayer for When Mama Bear Shows Up:

“Dear God, it is so easy to get riled up, to get defensive, to be ready to pounce. Please up us help our girls learn to rest in You amidst all things and listen for Your guidance. You will be our refuge always and deserve all the glory for it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

This post originally was published on the Prayers for Girls Blog

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Trading Out the Bubble Wrap

Picture it: Georgia, August 2015. She was the smallest one waiting for the bus that first day, standing with the other “seasoned” bus riders. I tried to talk to friends, but mostly I was working to keep from imploding. My Naomi was entering kindergarten and this would be her first time on the bus. I hugged her hard, watched her climb those big stairs with her little legs. Waving maniacally (sorry, not sorry), I was that weirdo mom with her hand still outstretched as the bus disappeared.

I remember being five. It was awkward and nervous, quiet and a little fearful, happy but guarded. Those memories came flooding back that warm August morning, so I prayed. I prayed fervently for safety, that there’d be no meanies, that she wouldn’t be nervous without me. I prayed that she’d easily find her class, that she wouldn’t get pushed around by older kids, that she wouldn’t get hurt, or miss me too much. I prayed her teacher would be gentle so my girl wouldn’t be overwhelmed. I prayed she wouldn’t spill her lunch or get lost. I prayed these almost daily for five months.Fast forward to about January of 2016. Not so little, Naomi handled the bus with ease. She had confidence, was thriving, her writing was amazing, she was a reading wiz, and I was so proud. And I also felt so uneasy. Looking back over the year, I realized I’d received exactly what I’d prayed for and I was grateful. Mama bear wanted nonstop goodness and safety and ease for my girl. I wanted to wrap her in the world’s longest sheet of bubble wrap, but my heart was overcome with a much bigger burden.

In 2015 I chose the word “intimacy” as my word of the year and as God slowly gave me that, my heart wanted to radically serve others more. I was starting to more clearly see the image of God in strangers, neighbors, foreigners, family. But I also wanted my kids to marvel at God’s beloved. As 2015 ended, I learned if I sheltered myself (and my girls) from everything, we wouldn’t be able to get dirty in the trenches of life and really change hearts. It was time to rearrange my prayers.

For 2016 I chose the word “fearless” and I was determined to pray the same for my girl. It was/is hard. Almost painful to pray. Did I trust God with her life? Would I trust Him to be there when she got hurt? Because seriously, you get out there in the midst of humanity and you get hurt, you get dirty, you make mistakes, have conflict. I started praying she’d be an encouragement, helpful and loving to everyone no matter who they were. I prayed she would lean on God and His word in every situation, that she’d absorb and use what she learned at home and church. I prayed she’d seek God’s approval most and that when conflict came, she’d be fearless. HARD PRAYERS.

The safety, the grades, the nonstop smiles – that’s comfy and I do pray for those but they aren’t top priority because it’s not what people need. Loving our neighbor, laying down our lives… yeah, those prayers. It’s so hard, friends, but the rewards are immeasurable. And the joy? Without comparison. It’s still hard for me to pray those big, sometimes scary prayers. But God’s working. He’s faithful.

I had an impromptu meeting with her teacher in May to go over the upcoming summer. That meeting quickly turned into a deluge of answered prayers. I found out there were kids with no friends until Naomi included them. A few kids could read because she taught them, one on one. There were frustrated and struggling kids she helped and encouraged and they were succeeding. I was told she always showed kindness, she discouraged derogatory talk,she was patient with even the slowest in her class. I was in tears.

Thing is, it sounds heavenly for my kids to have perfect grades, perfect friends, all the smiles. But I’m learning what I’d love even more is for them to be kind and patient, unselfish, uplifting, to be a good friend and an advocate for those that need one. To help, to fight for good, to truly love like Christ –  those are my prayers now. The safety, the grades, the nonstop smiles – that’s comfy and I do pray for those but they aren’t top priority because it’s not what people need. Loving our neighbor, laying down our lives… yeah, those prayers. It’s so hard, friends, but the rewards are immeasurable. And the joy? Without comparison. It’s still hard for me to pray those big, sometimes scary prayers. But God’s working. He’s faithful.

As we go into a new school year, I ask you… could you petition God to help you start the big, Kingdom-changing prayers? Crack that door open a little, you’ll see how trustworthy He is.

A Mother’s Prayer

God, you gifted us with these precious young lives that we want to hold close and protect. Help us to remember, though, they belong to you and are here for the same purpose we are — to bring your Kingdom to others. Thank you for the chance to do that. Amen.


What is your big, hard, scary prayer for your daughter right now? 

This was originally posted on August 10, 2016 on the Prayers for Girls website.

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This here is a title… about a new title.

A few months into my oldest’s Kindergarten year, I discovered a Facebook group called Prayers For Girls. The creator, Teri Lynne, was speaking directly to my heart, addressing all my concerns for my girls in this rough world, all with scripture and daily prayers. I was hooked. For example –

Fast forward to this past summer and she started a blog, and didn’t just start a blog, but asked little ole me to be a regular contributor and you guys, I became a writer. I am a wife, I am a mom, I am a friend, I am a writer. I am so blessed. 
As things started to come together for the blog, she asked me to write why I wanted to be part of Prayers For Girls. This is what I said:

———————————

I am an excellent planner.

No really, I can plan and prep and gather all the info and present you the “10 reasons why” or “5 steps to” or the greatest road trip route.

So, in 2009, when I became pregnant with my first child, I read all the books. I knew what to expect when I was expecting, I had equipment researched, a sleep training schedule drawn up, and pureed meals in the freezer about 5 minutes after the pink line appeared.

Baby came and she had obviously read the same books in the womb because she was relatively easy and I enjoyed being a mom and thought, “I got this.”

Fast forward 4 years and not only did I have another baby who obviously did NOT read the books in utero, but challenged everything I knew, everything I read, everything I planned. And I’m glad she did. I learned that all the “this” I had was only by the grace of God and the more I prayed, the more He gave.

And then my oldest started Pre-K. And all the questions started. I read so many parenting books and more parenting articles. And I was overrun and overwhelmed. And I prayed but it seemed flailing and without focus. God met me there, despite my scattered brain.

Time went by and then my oldest started Kindergarten. She came home doing the whip and nae nae, asked me why that girl yelled at her and called her “ugly”, and how could some of her friends have just a mom at home and no dad.

Holy smokes.

I was immediately transported back to my school days when kids called me black and I ran around the playground with a black marker shouting, “I’M BROWN, THIS IS BLACK.” And when I watched a friend get bullied and did nothing and it still hurts my heart. And I remembered how I didn’t really know what putting others before me meant until I was an adult – and I wish I’d understood it much younger. I wish I’d been more selfless, more Christlike, more wise. I knew my people-loving, people-pleasing, sweet hearted girl could be in for a world of hurt/regret. But I had life all planned, what could I do but share all my experiences and hope they stuck?

I could pray. And God directed me to Prayers for Girls. Being based on scripture, the screaming of my heart was met with a gentle “See? It’s all right here, in My word” from God. And this makes me passionate for Prayers for Girls. Every day my worries and fears are met with scripture and every day I can pray God’s holy word over my daughters. My girls are going to be in the world, every day, but I can pray that they not become of the world. I won’t (and can’t) shield them from life, but I will pray that they will be equipped with what they need to love others and actually do Kingdom-building work. There will be troubles, Christ told us that, but I can pray holy words daily that point my girls to Him who has overcome the world (John 16:33).

While I pray for them, I can pray these prayers for me too. I can pray for wisdom to know how to help my girls understand and love families that look different from ours. I can pray that I defend and stand up for those who can’t. I can pray I don’t throw out my back perfecting the perfect nae nae. I can plan to pray, every day, that Christ is glorified. Best plan ever.

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