Monday, December 30, 2013

Book Review: Sisterchicks Do the Hula


You know what makes the long grey days of winter in the Rockies better? A book about two friends jetting off to Hawaii. SisterChicks do the Hula , by Robin Jones Gunn was just the answer to those winter blues.


Sisterchicks Do the Hula!, Sisterchicks Series #2   -     By: Robin Jones GunnSisterChicks do the Hula follows two lifelong friends, now in their 40's as they search for where they fit as life transitions. One is surprised by an unexpected pregnancy and the other struggles with embracing her natural gift of photography. As these two faith filled women spend time on the island, they find a renewed sense of purpose and faith in a good Father who gives good gifts.

The book is filled with laughter, sincerity and left me longing for a trip to Hawaii! It helped me appreciate the dear friendships I have and look forward to a time when I can meet up and celebrate the joy of friendship with my own bestie.

If you are looking for a light, fun, inspiring read, pick up a copy of Sisterchicks Do the Hula, or any of the Sisterchicks books, by Gunn. You won't be disappointed.

In partnership with the Blogging for Books program I was provided a free copy of Sisterchicks in return for my honest review. I promise, I really did like the book. 

P.S. This book is on sale for a whopping $2.99 right now. It's a smoking deal! 

If you like my book reviews, please go rate them here

Sunday, October 06, 2013

The one I wrote about how conflicted I am about church.

So, I confess.  I've been kind of a whiny baby about church lately.

Yep, I am one of those cliche people that sees all the things that American church is doing wrong.

We run it like a business.
We make it a show.
Why are there so many dang programs?
Why does everyone think we need to volunteer for everything, but doesn't even notice we've been gone for 6 weeks?
Is it really a "community" or just a club?

Am I just a spoiled rotten American brat? Pretty much. 

Frankly there are a lot of things church does right.

When we are all together, singing with one voice, a truly meaningful song - we worship Him.
When my kids come out of their class I know they heard the truth of the Word.
When people get to exercise their gifts in the service of the church, God is glorified.
When we are truly together, it is good.

I am free to worship publicly.
I have the privilege to own a Bible.
I have the right to complain and not fear of repercussions.
I have so much more than I deserve.

Yes, maybe I have an vague idea of how my perfect "church" would work, because it is easy to create this mythical place in my brain, you know, without all the people.

I've asked myself the questions:
"Is this where God wants me to be?"
"It this the right fit" (Whatever the heck that means.)
"Do these people even know me?"
"Is this church on the same path that God is leading me toward?"
"Am I using my gifts here? Is there a place for me to serve, without trying to fit this square peg into a round hole?"

And the final question - "Well, where else would we go?"
That question is always answered in one of two ways -
 a) I have no idea - every church has it's issues.
 b) I have no idea - it's not like we even have a real problem here.


Image borrowed from Relevant 
I think I've finally boiled it down - that elusive question - Am I at the right church? - with these two follow up questions: (Disclaimer - there are other questions you should ask. The obvious ones like - Are these people crazy? Do they believe in God and preach the Bible? Are we safe here? I just assumed you already knew those ones.) 

1. When I look around my church, is it filled with people I admire, respect, and trust as people who love God and seek to do His will?  
I'm not asking if you think the pastor is the next Billy Graham, or if your children's ministry is cutting edge, or if you have the best band in the world. Today, I looked around my church and one after one, I turned to Norse and said something like "I sure appreciate him." or I thought to myself, "She is such an amazing woman." My church is filled with people I admire, not because of what they do, but because of who they are. I bet yours is too.

2. Is there someone in this church that I know God has put in my life to walk along side, whatever may come? 
We have seen conflict come and go in our congregation. Some things ended well, with reconciliation, some things did not. Every time we have sought out truth, from the source(s) and prayed for wisdom. Every time God has shown us families that have come into our lives during that time, ones that had just started coming to church, or just moved to town, or people we had just become friends with,  that we felt committed to walk with, through whatever were to come. Every time, it was worth it and obvious that we did the right thing.

When it all boils down to the nitty gritty, church is the people and my commitment is never really to our "church", but to people. It is a commitment to the people that God has put in my heart, to love. Wherever those people are, that is the church that I will attend, regardless of the band, or the building, or the programs, or the pastor.

And I promise I'll try to stop being a whiny baby.


P.S - If anyone from my church's staff reads this, take note - I know you are working your fanny off, you're doing the best you can, and I will not admit to being the best parishioner. My heart has got nothing but love for you, even if sometimes our methods would be different. Thanks for all you do! 



Sunday, September 01, 2013

Giveaway from Habits & Novelties!

Once upon a time I met a fresh faced girl from Idaho. We'll just say that a few years have passed, not enough to make me old, but enough for her to grow into the beautiful, intelligent, passionate, creative soul that she has become. Laura, has more talent than is fair. Perhaps, secretly I may hope she grows a giant disgusting wart on her perfect little face, just to balance the scales a little... No, I kid. She really is amazing - as a person, a mother, a writer and an artist. Thankfully, because as I have mentioned before, I know truly incredible people, Laura is offering you the chance to win one of her lovely pieces.


This month, the Habits & Novelties shop is giving away one of its lovely, handcrafted wood pendants!




This is the Geometric Triangle Pendant. Handcrafted from gorgeous spalted Maple wood, this pendant has a raw top edge to give it a unique, natural look and is attached to an elegant, gunmetal chain. If you love, natural-looking jewelry pieces with bold shapes and lines, this is a polished and stylish way to accessorize your wardrobe. The Geo Triangle Pendant is valued at $40, and we're offering you a chance to win it this month! The giveaway begins TODAY and ends 9/15, so get your entries in and tell a friend or two!




a Rafflecopter giveaway

You know I love supporting people and especially mamas. So, go check out her shop and pick up something beautiful. She makes all sorts of gorgeous stuff - bags, purses, cowls, collars, headbands... just go look! I hope you win!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Music Monday

I am confessing that I am among the masses that have been in love with The Civil Wars for some time now... judge me if you must.

This is my current fave off the new album!


Friday, August 16, 2013

Give, Give and Give some more.

Well, I just have to tell you that I know amazing people that are doing amazing things.

I thought I'd throw this out there, just incase you only know boring people and don't have anyone to throw any (tax-deductible) money towards.

See, isn't he cute coaching our son's little league team?
1. My husband. He's incredible. Not only does he work insanely hard to provide for our family, he is also super handsome and one of the most generous people I know. (In case you are curious if he is indeed THE perfect man, let me help you rest easily - his farts stink and he sometimes has garlic/onion breath even after a good tooth brushing. In the interest of full discloser, those things are also true about me.) But, the point! He is rowing at the Montana Dragon Boat Festival in a few weeks. He is rowing for the D.R.E.A.M. team, raising money to continue to help children and adults with physical and developmental disabilities experience the joy of the outdoors! Please, go and sponsor his team by clicking here and heading to the donation page.
I totally stole this off her FB - isn't she beautiful? 

2. I know this girl. She hasn't had the easiest life. She is a little bit of a modern day orphan (except for all the "family" like me that love her as my own flesh and blood). She would have every right to be angry, bitter, and toxic, but instead she is funny, intelligent, beautiful, compassionate and someone who truly strives to "love God and love others". This insanely remarkable woman is headed off to the big city to serve with Mission Year. She needs our help to enable her to do what God is impressing on her heart. Go here, to the Mission Year donation page and designate to "Karlina Dacy" when you give financially.

 Yes, this is my current fave in the DentIt shop! 
Well, I guess that is all for now. If you are feeling overwhelmingly philanthropic you might also want to check out one of my favorite shops, Sevenly who helps support a top notch non-profit every week or take a peek at a local friend's amazing work at, Dent it and soon at the Brings Love In shop!


Aren't you glad you now "know" these amazing people, too?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Book Review: Secure Daughters, Confident Sons



While I wanted to enjoy Secure Daughters, Confident Sons by Glen T. Stanton, I struggled to finish the book (that may be an understatement since I think it has been sitting on my nightstand for almost two years).

Stanton does hit on important issues that are relevant in the American culture of today. He is quick to point out that while males and females are different that does not make one gender superior.
The first portion of the book set's out a "Clear Vision for Authentic manhood and Womanhood", while the last half covers "Why Boys and Girls Need Mothers and Fathers" I found myself agreeing with much of what Stanton had to say, I just couldn't get into the book.

I do think this book would be a great starter for a parent who is just being introduced to a traditional, biblical view of gender differences, and for a parent of older elementary age children. The most beneficial part of the book for me, was the Q & A section at then end of each chapter. His response to common questions that parents face provided a great means to move toward personal application.

While Secure Daughters, Confident Sons by Glenn T. Stanton wasn't the best book I've read this year, it was certainly a solid offering. Perhaps as my children grow out of toddlerhood and the preschool years, I might want to read it again.


Waterbrook/Multonomah provided me with a free copy of this book in return for my honest review. (Sorry it took so long, publishers!)

Also, it'd be super helpful if you reviewed my review here, so I can keep getting great books from a great publisher! 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Parenting Rant - Take 1

Last night I sat in my chair and cried.

Okay, maybe I was a little wistful watching my not-ever-gonna-be-a-preschooler-again son's end of year celebration, but still. I was wasting time while the kids were sleeping and Norse was gone a hunting, to catch up on some blog reading.

I read (skimmed) a post - it basically said 1) "I used to be yeller, but now I am awesome and don't EVER yell at my kids anymore." and 2) "When you yell at your child it CRUSHES their spirit and they will forever be afraid of you and you have now caused them years of expensive therapy and you'll be lucky if they ever grow up to be worth anything at all. YOU RUINED YOUR CHILD."

Okay....

Maybe it didn't say those exact words, but that is what I heard. So, I sat in the recliner, crying and praying that by some gracious act of mercy God would wipe out all the mistakes I make as a parent from my kids' memory. Yes, I am a yeller and obviously THE WORST PARENT OF ALL TIME!

Well, guess what friends? As my child lovingly (not fearfully) wrestled with me, brought me dandelions and laughed with me today, it did cross my mind that, maybe I, maybe us normal moms with real kids, don't all suck as bad as those experts and other perfect people want to convince us.

Yes, there are ways I can improve, but SHEESH don't you people think I KNOW that already? Don't you think that every mom regardless of most circumstances is trying her darndest to do what is best for her kids?

So, to the rest of the yellers, TV enablers, processed food feeding, tired, overwhelmed, failing,  AMAZING mom's out there, I commend you today. I'll pray your kids survive, if you'll pray mine do too. And, if I ever write some holier than thou blog post about how awesome I am and make you feel bad about your path as a mom, well you have my permission to call "bull$#!%" on the whole thing.

End of rant...

Thanks, I feel better.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Book Review: The Artist's Daughter


I’ve recently discovered that there really is no type of book I’d rather read than a well-written memoir. There is something truly special about the glimpse one gets into another’s life that moves and inspires a soul, my soul. Alexandra Kuykendall’s new release, The Artist’s Daughter is no exception.

Kuykendall has presented us with a stirring book that delves into the heart of what true belonging, acceptance, and healing mean to the soul of a woman. While in many ways my story doesn’t share the same details,  many of the heart issues she wrote about could have been penned from my very own hand.  Raised by a working single mother, the daughter of an absent father, and a girl with a drive to be perfect, Alexandra and I could likely share coffee and tears reminiscing about our similar triumphs and trials.

Serving as the MOPS International theme book for 2013, The Artist’s Daughter is spot on when speaking to many of the key heartaches, joys, and challenges for a mother like me. However, the overarching theme of God’s beautiful plan and workings in humanity and in Alexandra’s life bring a sense of true healing and grace to a tender heart. Seeing His gentle care for her has only reminded me of His gentle care for me. What an encouraging book it is when, after reading the final chapter, you can sigh and whisper, “Thank you God for being so good.”

You can purchase The Artist’s Daughter at MOPS, Amazon or request it at your local bookseller. If you’d like to win my copy, enter here: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway




(I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Bread & Wine - A Book Review

It's the sweet cinnamon and sugar, flaky dough in your nails, tart apples peeled. It's just another attempt at Gran's apple pie.

Breakfast burritos, fragrant, warm, and wrapped in tin foil. Me, hoping I didn't get the one with extra habanero's expertly hidden by my trickster uncle.

The cabbage is scattered across the cutting board, sesame oil and ginger sizzling. It's my father in laws expertise at Asian cooking.

This week I know it will be there, dry bread, sweet juice, those little plastic cups. I enter in to my Lord's suffering.

Food and memories almost inexplicably connected, but the truth is each fragrance, taste, and empty plated aftermath reminds us of something.

Shauna Niequists newest release, Bread & Wine is a beautiful memoir full of poignant essays that focus on life, God, and the beauty of sharing ourselves with one another through meals of love.

In a world that says thin = perfection, we have forgotten that it is okay to savor a good meal, to relish in the hard work of an excellent cook, to walk away satisfied or to even admit that we are hungry.

"Sara loved to eat and believed it was her right and pleasure. She didn't overeat or under eat, cry or hide food. She just ate, for sustenance and enjoyment both, and I was fascinated. Still, it took almost a decade more for me to say those words... "I'm hungry" - without feeling ashamed." - Bread & Wine

Shauna has given us permission to feast, permission to fast, permission to give and permission to receive.

The book is filled with delicious recipes - some easy peasy like her Basic Risotto and some more challenging, including Steak au Poivre with Cognac Pan Sauce.

But, with each recipe she challenges us to give - mercy, grace, food to those we know need it
and challenges us to receive the help, self compassion, and friendship that others offer to us.


"What people are craving isn't perfection. People aren't longing to be impressed; they're longing to feel like they're home. If you create a space full of love and character and creativity and soul, they'll take off their shoes and curl up with gratitude and rest, no matter how small, no matter how undone, no matter how odd."  - Bread & Wine

If you know me at all you know I am a fan of Shauna's. While occasionally it was difficult to enter in to her life (we do live very different lives) there are still an abundance of ways I saw myself and those I love in the pages of Bread & Wine. I have already started a short list of people that I know would LOVE this book because of a mutual love for food, friends and family.  Shauna is an excellent story teller and this book is easy to devour.

You can pre-order at Amazon and I suggest you do (it's 9 bucks off!). Her books Cold Tangerines and Bittersweet are also available (and one of them is sitting in my Easter Basket right now).

*I received a pre-release copy of Bread & Wine in exchange for my honest review. 

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Grief

It was 18 months ago that we got the news.

Cancer.

My second mom, my beloved Gran had cancer. The really bad kind.

The tears came, but there was hope.

Surgery after surgery, treatment after treatment, heartbreak after heartbreak.

And now we are here.

The final weeks. The final days.

I'd like to be one of those people that say, "Oh, I know God is in control" or maybe "But, God has a plan and it'll all be okay" I do say those things sometimes, but more often I think, "This sucks."

Because, it does.

Generally speaking, I am pretty optimistic, pretty joyful, and pretty resilient.

However, grief is hard.

It's hard when every day you aren't sure what the next phone call will bring. It's hard to imagine life without her, but at the same time you long to see her free from the pain of this life. My mind is racing all the time. Sleep evades me many nights, but in the middle of the day, I wish I could sleep the day away instead of doing anything else. It's hard when every time I get an update it peels the scab off the old wound of losing my dad, to cancer, 15 years ago. I thought that wound had healed. Its hard to not be there to help, but if I were sincere I would say that it is also a relief to not have to bear that burden. I'm broken. For the first time in my life I googled "natural treatment for depression". It would be foolish of me not to recognize that possibility in my life right now. It would be foolish to think that a year long roller coaster ride of hope and disappointment wouldn't give me some sort of mild depression. Grief is hard, especially when you are grieving a person who is still here.

I don't have the answers. I don't need any pity.

For now I look for grace.

Sufficient grace for each moment from the One who I know is near even in this valley.

Grace with myself when I'm exhausted, but accomplished nothing.

Grace to say "no", because right now, I'm not quite myself and grace to accept that.

And grace from my sweet friends who hold me in prayer, ask me how I am, and accept that most of the time I don't want to talk about it. I just want to make it through.

I'm not mad, or bitter, or angry. I'm just sad.

I'm not hopeless or despondent. I am just weary.

When you see me smiling and laughing, I'm not being fake. It is just a moment where the goodness of life has distracted me from that rain cloud over my head that keeps following me. So let me relish in it.

In my mind I continue to repeat the words of Solomon (and the Mama's and the Papa's)


There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,  
  a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.


I am totally ready for the next season. I'm ready for spring. I'm ready for sunshine. I'm ready to rejoice. I'm ready for unabashed joy. I'm ready to stop fighting the fear and anxiety that are banging on my door - bringing up the "what if's". 

So, for now I will fight to hope, because I know the Light that shines even in the darkness. 
I will cling to the simplest of truths: 

Jesus loves me.
Heaven is legit.
This isn't my home. 

And, I will soldier on, in love. 

Thanks to all of you who tenderly soldier on beside me. 




(This song is another Shauna Niequist recommendation)

P.S. For those of you who may have stumbled upon here that are dealing with your own grief. Please, check out Levi Lusko's blog as he soldiers on through a heartbreak that I hope I will never have to face. 
   

Monday, February 25, 2013

Music Monday


I've been fortunate to be reading through Bread & Wine before it releases on April 9th! This beautiful song could be it's theme video. I can't wait to share my thoughts on Shauna Niequist's new book, but you'll just have to wait. 


For now, watch this, and be encouraged that we are in this together, sweet friends.






Friday, February 22, 2013

Tears, Burgers, and Gratitude.

Today we sat across the table from one another.

The kids enjoying Five Guys burgers. 

Maybe at first I was a little preoccupied by the calories, the state of the art soda dispensers, and the boy sitting next to me nagging "Mom, do you know how a peanut gets inside a shell?" over and over and over until I say "WHAT!?" (even though he has already told me the same nonsensical punchline three times already).

But, when things get real, it doesn't take long to focus in. We talked plans for how to deal with the sudden impending death of a beloved grandma and the inevitable death of another who is dying slowly from cancer. We talked the heartache of those we know who are struggling, divorcing, trying to make it as single parents. We talked about fear and love and kids growing up. We talked wisdom from the Sages around us that share from their sadness and triumph when given a voice. 

The tears fall quietly, from both our eyes. Neither one of us wants to make a scene in the middle of a seudo fast food joint, but both of us are heartbroken. Thankfully we have entered in to share in the sorrow of one another. 

It is times like this, in the mundaneness of life, in the hard places, in the fallenness of seemingly everything, that I see what God meant when he said that two would become one. It is here where I find comfort that two are indeed better than one. It is here where I experience, not just seeing unity, but feeling unity in the deepest part of my soul with another. This is where the proverbial rubber meets the road and it is here, in the midst of deep grief and heartache, that I find joy and comfort, in the fact that God has given me a gift greater than I could ever have imagined. He has given me a friend, my best friend, and the one who reminds me that love always prevails. 



Friday, January 11, 2013

The Facebook

Hi all,

I just wanted to ask a little favor. If you are on Facebook. Can you please click over and vote for an adorable friend of ours? His name is fireman Tov.

Tov was born profoundly deaf, but has since had cochlear implants and has grown into a wonderful, silly, friendly, amazing little man. Join me in trying to get he and his wonderful family to win this contest! 

P.S. There seems to be a little trouble voting from a phone or tablet, so please click over when you are on a computer. :)


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Posting elsewhere...

Hi friends,

Long time no write.

I can't say things will be changing, but you can catch me over at Bigfork MOPS, tonight.