This Beautiful Inheritance

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Savoring the Season {& a Christmas Book Giveaway}

Disclaimer: I am a member of the Tommy Nelson Mommies for Thomas Nelson, Inc. As a member of this group, I receive products for my use and to review at no charge to me. I receive no monetary compensation for my participation. All opinions are my own.

So how's your December going? Sometimes I feel the tension of wanting to build meaningful traditions and memories with my kids and also relaxing, pacing ourselves, and not trying to squeeze in too much. So far we've just been doing a lot of holiday special TV watching and Christmas book reading, but this weekend things are about to get crazy, as we have three big holiday events back-to-back-to-back. Other than the obligatory Christmas parties and functions we'll be attending over the next couple weeks, my simple family goals are to -- at some point -- 1) make and decorate homemade Christmas cookies, 2) drive around and look at Christmas lights, and 3) pick up and deliver gifts to a couple kids I have in mind. Oh and continue to do our daily advent calendar and devotions.



I know there are plenty of other memories/traditions we could be doing this month (in fact I have a Mom Life Today post coming out soon with a full list of ideas), but I also know we can't do it all. I want to enjoy some silent nights with my family and not get to January feeling like December was a big blur. What are your thoughts?


One of the books we've been enjoying this month is A Star for Me. What I love about it and other Tommy Nelson books is that they are always creative and make the real Christmas story come alive for kids. In this one, the story is told from the perspective of a young camel, Ollie, who is traveling with the shepherds following the star to Bethlehem. Ollie is convinced the star is leading them to a present just for him. And sure enough, he eventually finds the best present of all.


This 8x10 board book also comes with a star ornament for your tree. It's the perfect addition to your Christmas book collection, and of course, I'm giving away a copy! Just leave a comment telling me your favorite Christmas tradition or book and you'll be entered to win. Merry Christmas, friends! Slow down and enjoy the season. :)

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Finding God At The Kitchen Sink {Giveaway}

I was given one copy of "Finding God at The Kitchen Sink" (along with one copy to give away) in exchange for this blog post with my review. All opinions are my own.

As moms, we want to feel like somebody relates, like somebody understands.

Those people in the shopping mall, arms loaded with designer bags and carelessly strolling about... they don't understand.

Those people fully engaged with arms raised, worshipping in church, no one tugging on their dress... they don't understand.

Even our husbands, as hard as they work and as much as they do... they don't really understand.

Of course, these are assumptions and probably not true. But this is how we feel, and as moms, it can often feel lonely.

Does anyone understand what I (my heart, mind and emotions) really go through in a day?

Maggie Paulus does.

She's a mom of three littles, and her life isn't extravagant or radical according to the world's standards. It's mostly plain, normal, just like yours and mine. She spends a lot of time at the kitchen sink. She picks up toys just to have them strewn out again. She gets waken up during the night. A lot. But through all the mundane, her eyes are wide open to the glory of God and how He shows up in the most seemingly insignificant moments. And she weaves her stories and His story together in her book Finding God at The Kitchen Sink.

This book was such an easy read. Maggie's words are beautiful and lyrical. Each section drew me in, made me feel understood, and prompted me to see God working in my own everyday grime.

Here are a few of my favorite passages.

From "How Being a Mama Has Changed Me"

"And I love the part where I push my little girl on the swing, even though I'd rather be reading a book or weeding the garden. And while she's learning to kick her legs out, I catch a glimpse of all that radiant light in her eyes and the way her silky, sun-streaked hair whooshes back and forth. I remember again what it was like to be young and wild and happy and free...

I didn't know how much I'd be giving my life away. Or that my most satisfying work would be when no one else was looking as I poured out all I had to nurture the lives of my babes or that God would be my strength as I learned to craft love, the stuff that lasts forever, a thousand times a day in a hundred different ways...

I didn't know how being a momma would cause me to care more for all the other boys and girls. That I'd begin to see them through a momma's eyes -- this concern for their lives and a burden to help and protect them, too...

Sometimes when I look in the mirror and see how this tummy has warped and how these hips won't ever fit back into my favorite jeans I remember this -- I get to be a momma."


From "Why God Does Want Your Messy Heart"

"Jesus says, come (Matt. 11:28). I get that. All day long I tell my kids to come to me. They come with their snotty noses, and I wipe them. Or they come with their grimy hands, and I wash them. Or with their hungry bellies, and I give them something good to eat, some sustenance to fill them up. So when Jesus says Come, I know what He means. He means simply this: Come with your messy self. I see you're hungry-hearted. I know you're a wreck. Now come over here. Come, right now. I've got what you need...

So Jesus says come. And He calls the people who are tired, who've worn themselves out. The ones who have a lot on their minds and more than they realize on their hearts. The ones weighed down by life, exhausted from just living. And the neat thing is, the only criteria Jesus requires of us to come is to simply feel our need for Him. Because we're depleted. And we're a wreck. And we don't have what it takes..."


Can you tell? Maggie understands. And as a self-proclaimed "beauty-seeker," she's got an eye for the glory moments we sometimes let slip by.

Today, I'm giving away a copy of Finding God at The Kitchen Sink so one of you can also feel understood, inspired, and star-struck by God's glory.

To enter, leave a comment telling me one way you've seen God's glory today. And Happy Thanksgiving, friends!


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Friday, November 21, 2014

Bedtime Whispers {And The Strong-Willed Daughter}

I clinch my fists and try to steady my nerves because I can see it coming. My two-year-old hasn’t gotten her way and her volume is rising as her face turns red. There’s no stopping it. She throws a full-fledged fit, complete with kicking, screaming and throwing. I do all I can to cope and control her, which isn’t much, and when it’s finally over we’re both exhausted.

I deal with this same scenario a couple more times before the day is over. My strong-willed daughter has taken fit-throwing to the next level lately, and my patience is worn thin. I’m running on the rims. When bedtime comes, all I want is to put my kids in their rooms and then resort to mine at a decent hour. I want to lay down in my bed, on my terms, and relax. But of course, that doesn’t happen. Because my stubborn daughter has decided to also become extra clingy and refuses to sleep without me laying down next to her. So I succumb. I pout because it feels like my every move is subject to her demand. We cuddle up in her big-girl bed and dim the lights and read a story. She’s so cute when we read. There are no tears or fits and I’m able to enjoy the sweet, witty, affectionate side of my youngest daughter.


Then I turn out the lights, and after she has done a lot of fidgeting and talking and singing to herself, she presses her forehead against mine and says, “Mama, I love you SO much!” I smile. My nerves from the day are easing. “I love you too sweetie,” I tell her back. But she’s not done. “Mama, I love you all around the distance!” I’m giggling now. She has such a way with words. She puckers up and plants a wet kiss on my mouth, followed by an “I love you around all the planets!” She’s doing a good job at making me forget our struggles from the day. I’m so thankful for her bedtime whispers that remind me what her heart really feels. Mine feels the same. So I whisper sweet nothings right back to her and thank God for just what I needed to get up in the morning and make it through another day with my strong-willed but sweet stinker.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Family and Thankfulness

Sunday we had a little family lunch at my parents' house with them, us, and my sister and her family. My mom had bought the grand-girls these adorable matching outfits so we needed a good time to get together and (attempt to) snap photos. However, it's pretty impossible with these three!


Somebody's always not looking. But aren't they still the cutest cousins?!!



And don't my girls have a beautiful Mimi? :) We also attempted a few family pictures... which one is your vote for Christmas cards?





During lunch, we used a set of the "Unite Your Story" napkin ties from Barbara Rainey's #EverThineHome collection. These napkin ties are gorgeous and add so much meaning to a regular ole lunch around the table (or to a Thanksgiving dinner!).

Each napkin tie has a thought-provoking question about gratitude. It added purpose and enjoyment to our meal as each of us around the table untied our napkins and discussed what we were thankful for.


It was the perfect way to inaugurate this Thanksgiving season and to spur thankfulness in our hearts. I'm hoping to use them again during our Thanksgiving meal in a couple weeks. Order your own set of Untie Your Story napkin ties here. And be sure to check out the rest of the practical, Biblical resources at EverThineHome.com.

Happy (early but always) Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 10, 2014

God Values Life {Guest Post}

I would have told you I was pro-life long before I knew adoption was going to be my family’s story. But then I adopted twice and my definition of pro-life changed.

After almost two years of trying to get pregnant, my husband Greg and I turned our attention, resources, and prayers to adoption. Less than nine months after we stopped trying to conceive, we held our baby girl in our arms, thanks to an independent domestic adoption. About 30 months later, we brought our son home as part of a similar adoption process.

Adoption is an everyday conversation at our house, but this month is National Adoption Awareness Month, so I’m hoping the topic finds its way into other homes and hearts.

Since bringing Cate and Ben home, I’ve realized pro-life is more than a political stance. It’s also a belief children are a blessing and not a burden. I’m so grateful my kids’ birth moms recognized this, too. We’re raising our kids among a community of friends who believe this, too.

I never expected to adopt, but God prepared us and surrounded us with people who have embraced our journey with us. We are involved with a small, non-denominational church with about 75 people in the sanctuary on Sunday mornings. But in those chairs are families with kids adopted from Nepal, China, and Liberia.

Our church also has an orphan/adoption ministry that offers grants and fund-raising support for families pursuing an adoption as well as opportunities to give to local and international projects that support orphans and underserved kids. Jesus tells us to serve these populations (James 1:27), and I’m blessed with a community that believes in doing and serving and giving and adopting and loving. Not everyone is called to adopt, but God gives us – even in a small town – plenty of opportunities to make a difference.
 
 
When we moms stand together, support each other, and commit to doing our best for our kids and the ones around us, then we’re pro-life. When we help our friends who are welcoming foster children into their homes, those gifts of money and clothing speak that we’re pro-life. We discipline and teach and train and advise and shepherd and guide and entertain these children we love. We plan for their futures because we believe they deserve futures.

Through our adoptions, God demonstrated that he is continually near. He’s in the details. And he’s faithful to hear the desires of our hearts. Do you know why? He’s pro-life, too. God values life. He wants our lives to bring him glory and he wants us to raise our kids – the biological ones, the adopted ones, the ones who may be in our homes temporarily – with his eternal kingdom as the foundation.

God values my life and your life so much that he adopts us into his family.

Just like Greg and I gave Cate and Ben our last name, God calls us his own. Just like we welcomed our kids into the responsibilities and privileges of being in a family, God welcomes us into his home. Yes, there are glimpses of his kingdom here on earth, but there’s also a promise of the eternal home Jesus is preparing for us. Because we are God’s. Because our names have been changed and our covenants sealed. Because we serve a God who believes in life.

We adopted Cate and Ben. They’re our children. They’re named in our wills. And they didn’t have to do anything to be called daughter and son. We chose them in the beginning and we choose them still. We choose life. Thankfully we all are welcomed by our heavenly Father who continues choosing us and calls us his own.
 
 
Kristin Hill Taylor tells about the two adoption processes that followed a hard season of infertility in “Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & MyFamily,” which is available at Amazon. She believes in taking road trips, living in community, and seeking God as the author of every story – many of which she shares at www.kristinhilltaylor.com. She lives in Murray, Kentucky, with her college sweetheart husband and their two kids.
 
 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What Believers Can Take Away From Brittany Maynard

I never met Brittany Maynard. So why has her life and death affected me like it has? Since I first learned her name and story a few weeks ago, she's consumed much of my thoughts. Terminally ill with brain cancer, Brittany and her husband moved to Oregon to take advantage of the state's "Death with Dignity" law, which would allow her to ingest a prescription drug that would kill her on her terms, not cancer's.


I think it was Brittany's beautiful face that hooked everyone's attention, mine included. She was so pretty, so young, so alive it seemed. The thought of her walking in the park with her husband and dog one day, and then lying in bed surrounded by family with her favorite music playing in the background (as she described) and purposefully ending her life mortified me to no end. I couldn't get it out of my mind.

I prayed for Brittany. I prayed and I prayed and I even private messaged her on Facebook. I felt like her soul was dangling over eternity, and it was up to believers like me -- people who care about the eternal destination of souls -- to reach out and grab and rescue it.

I posted about her on Facebook, asking others to plead for her soul. And I was criticized for assuming she wasn't saved. I'll be honest -- I thought it was petty criticism. We're talking about eternity here. I would much rather wrongly assume she wasn't saved and work and plead and pray, than wrongly assume she was and wait idly by as she stepped into hell.

And after a false indication that she might delay the killing, Brittany took her life, just as she promised, on Nov. 1. For a moment, I felt like the life had been sucked from me too. I was stunned and silenced. She was gone, and there was no more chance for hope.

The last couple of days Brittany's life and death have continually been on my mind. Why have I not been able to quit thinking of this girl I never knew? I think the thing that made her case so gut-wrenching was that there was a date attached to it. Each day leading up to it felt like a step down death row. What I've realized, though, is that my concern for the soul of every other human should be the same as that for Brittany Maynard. Every person with breath in their lungs has an impending death looming, along with an eternal destination. Although Brittany's death had a date attached to it, many others' could have and did come more quickly. Was/am I just as concerned about their fates?

As devastating as this situation has been, the one take-away I can gather is that there are Brittany Maynards everywhere. There are people dying of cancer on every corner of this town and country. There are young, pretty, famous faces incredibly lost and desperate for prayers. And there are healthy, vibrant people sprinkled all over this globe who don't know the date of their deaths but who will be there in an instant.

So I should be equally burdened for each of them. For they -- like me -- have souls that dangle over eternity. May we never cease praying that they accept the grace of Jesus that allows them eternity with Him.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

No Matter What, It Will Be Okay

Disclaimer: I am a member of the Tommy Nelson Mommies for Thomas Nelson, Inc. As a member of this group, I receive products for my use and to review at no charge to me. I receive no monetary compensation for my participation. All opinions are my own.

I love Lysa TerKeurst of Proverbs 31 Ministries. Whenever I hear her voice come on the radio, my ears perk up because I know the wisdom she shares is something I will need. When I see her statuses on Facebook, I stop and read. Because if I do, I'll be impacted. But until recently, I was unaware that Lysa also had profound wisdom to share with children, through her new children's book, It Will Be Okay.


We received this book in the mail last month, and I immediately fell in love. It's one of those books I really enjoy reading and I urge the kids to pick it when they're making their bedtime selections. The book is about Little Seed, who enjoys living in his cozy seed packet in the farmer's dusty shed, and Little Fox, who enjoys living in the safety of his den. But when howling winds and dark shadows invade Little Fox's safety and the farmer plants Little Seed down into new territory, the friends are nervous and afraid. However, this book shows us that the farmer is good and kind, and Little Seed and Little Fox really have nothing to fear. The farmer, just like our Heavenly Father, knows what is best for them, and he is always looking out for them.

My girls love this book as much as I do. At ages 5 and 2, it keeps both of their interests well and teaches them the important message, that no matter what changes around us, God never does. And we have nothing to fear.



This book also has FREE downloadable coloring pages online, which my girls thoroughly enjoyed coloring. I even got in on the fun and colored my own page. As we colored, I asked the girls what they learned from this story and talked to them about their fears. Turns out my girls are either really brave or really prideful because they couldn't think of much they feared. Ha! Nevertheless, I'm glad that when fear or change comes (and I know it will), we have a book like this to help remind us that God is in control. And like the farmer, He is good and kind.

To win your copy of Lysa TerKeurst's It Will Be Okay, leave a comment with a fear or change your child has battled. Or a scripture that reminds you "It Will Be Okay." (Enter via Rafflecopter below.)

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