Friday, February 27, 2015

A Place for Special Needs Ministry

Disclosure: I am proud to be a Family Christian Blogger and Affiliate.  I was provided with a Family Christian certificate to facilitate a post about Special Needs Ministry.  All opinions expressed are my own.

You know something?  Growing up I wanted to be a teacher.  I actually wanted to be a Special Education teacher.  People with Special Needs have had a tender part of my heart - they want what we all want - to belong and be loved.

One of my closest friends has a daughter with Spina Bifida.  I remember getting her call that day when she found out the diagnosis so clearly.  Throughout her pregnancy I read every book on Spina Bifida that I could get my hands on (really I did, I am an avid reader).  I shared with her things that I thought might be good to know and I prayed.  Our whole community prayed.  And God showed up!  D's friend (she's actually all of my kids' friend but she is closest in age to D) still has Spina Bifida but I do believe that God has been with her and her family on this journey.

I recently picked up two books at Family Christian about Special Needs, Special Needs Ministry for Children by Pat Verbal and In Jesse's Shoes by Beverly Lewis.

I have been thinking a lot about how churches could help families of those with Special Needs?  How can we make families of those with special needs feel welcomed and loved in our churches?  I think one step is to be open and informed.

I really liked In Jesse's Shoes for talking with my own kids about children with who are different or disabled.  It is a short, simple and sweet book about a girl discovering her brother and what life is like having a brother with special needs.  Jesse is "wired differently" and acts differently than other kids his age.  This book encourages children to not make fun or tease others that are different but instead look at things from their perspective and befriend them.

I think I will take this to my church's library so that others can access it when needed and it can be shared with our entire community.  I like the idea of having this as a resource for children.

While In Jesse's Shoes is an excellent children's book for sharing about those with special needs, Special Needs Ministry for Children by Pat Verbal discusses more application.  Specifically this book discusses how to create a welcoming atmosphere and place for families whose children have special needs.  I think this is a fabulous resource in giving practical advice in how to have a special needs ministry in a church.  Parenting is crazy fun but it can also be crazy hard.  Sometimes families with children with special needs can be overlooked.  I love the idea of churches embracing and welcoming families with children with special needs.

What do you think?  Do you have ideas for how churches could make it easier for families with special needs children?  I would love to hear them!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Keep It Shut Book Review

Disclosure: I am proud to be a Family Christian Blogger and Affiliate.  I was provided with my own copy of Keep It Shut to facilitate my review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

My small group has been reading through the New Testament together every other week for awhile now.  I thought it was fitting that I led the discussion on James 2 and 3.  There is a whole section about taming your tongue.  I say fitting because this is not something that I have mastered.  Karen Ehman's book, Keep It Shut discusses this very thing.

It is funny because for being an introvert I can sure talk sometimes (ask my friends)!  I actually refer to myself as a social introvert.  Sometimes I open my mouth out of hurt and anger and say things that I most definitely do not mean.  And then sometimes I talk out of nervousness.  And then sometimes, I just don't seem to think.

There was the time within the last year that I asked a young mother if she was expecting.  You know the tunic shirts that are in style, she was wearing one and I just knew that she was pregnant.  So I asked her when she was due in front of her husband and others.  My heart melted when she told me that she was not expecting.  Here was this beautiful young mother and I had hurt her deeply because I simply kept talking...

 My sister and I in 2001

And then there was the time many years ago that I had a blowout with my own sister!  My Dad was sick, very sick and we didn't know what was happening.  I had a young baby, D was 6 months old.  To say that we were a little stressed would be an understatement but my behavior was still atrocious to say the least.  We basically got into an argument and I unleashed on her.  I actually cursed, something I have not done much in my entire life.  Shocking I know.  Did I say things that I didn't mean?  Yep!  I said some things I was thinking but they were definitely not nice (Lord I need some more renewing of my mind please).  Thankfully, we were able to talk about it later (not right away but eventually) and resolved our conflict.  I love my sister dearly and I am thankful to have a good and honest relationship with her.  She is one of my confidants.

On my recent women's retreat there was a discussion on negative self talk.  We can be so hard on ourselves and those we are closest too.  I think there are times when I lash out at those that are the dearest to me - myself, my husband and my children.  Often, it takes much more strength and discipline to take a moment and pray for or through a situation.  I have been a mother for 11 years and I am still learning this lesson - a work in progress I am.  Thank you Karen Ehman for encouraging me to press into the Lord and really think about the words that flow from my mouth.  May God continue to transform me, may I be aware of the power of my tongue and may I use this weapon to bring truth and life to this world.

I really enjoyed the Proverbs top ten "tweets" on the tongue that Karen shares.  My favorite is 13:3 - Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.

This book will encourage you to gossip less, pray more, be a better listener, speak the truth in love and overall pay attention more to what you say.

You can find out more about this book and/or purchase it from Family Christian here.

Ready for a giveaway?  Family Christian is generously providing one of you with your own copy of Keep It Shut by Karen Ehman.  Just enter the giveaway below and good luck!

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Family Christian In Store Event and Release of VeggieTales Noah's Ark

I have a special Family Christian in-store event to tell you about!  This Saturday, February 28th, VeggieTales will be releasing their newest movie Noah's Ark onto DVD.  It will be available for purchase at all Family Christian locations starting on the 28th.  You can arrive at 10am and catch the premiere showing of this DVD in the kids section, plus there will be fun and games!  And for a BONUS, Family Christian is having a Mega One Day Only sale on the 28th, where everything in the kids dept. will be 30% off! 

So go, take the kids and get some shopping done.  I have almost finished buying the entire What's In The Bible Series - this would be a great chance for me to finish it off! 

Disclosure: I am proud to be a Family Christian Blogger and Affiliate.  I was provided with this special in-store information to share with you.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Friendships Are Worth It

Disclosure: I am proud to be a Family Christian Blogger and Affiliate.  I was provided with my own copy of Women Are Scary to facilitate my review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

I had a best friend growing up named Emily.  We were inseparable.  We were in the same classes, we had sleep overs, studied together, jumped on her trampoline, ate macaroni and cheese, road bikes all over the neighborhood - you get the idea.  And then she moved right before sixth grade.  I had other friends but I never had a best friend like that again until college.  Honestly, I found girls to be difficult to get along with and there was usually some drama going on so I often found friendships with boys.  They were easy going and less dramatic and that suited me just fine.

I went off to college and it was that time in my life when I really started seeking out the Lord.  As I grew in my relationship with God I realized that I was missing out.  In fact, I very clearly heard the Lord tell me to pursue friendships with women.  That was an amazing time.  I learned so much about myself and others.  And I learned that I didn't need to run away from female relationships.  Sure it was hard, authentic friendships and relationships are hard but they are so worth it!

Here I am with my friend M in college!

M and I have known each other since middle school but it wasn't until college that I really got to know her.  I value our friendship so much even today.

Love these ladies!

I love what Melanie Dale says in her book Women Are Scary about Mom friends, "I believe that we are better together.  We make each other better moms, better humans."  I can honestly say that I have never thought about momlationships, relationships with moms, in terms of baseball.  Melanie walks you through the process of making Mom friends through the analogy of bases.  She gives advice on what to look out for and how you can reach out to people. 

I have walked a lot of life with the ladies in the above photo.  We have been there through tough pregnancies, births and the general ups and downs of life.  Of course there are other ladies in my life that I treasure and value greatly that are not shown in this post but the impact they have made on my life is real and I am truly a different and better person because of them.  These are some of my Fourth-Basers or Ultimate Friends.

This book is funny, fun, authentic and helpful as you navigate through the art of forming female relationships, more specifically momlationships.  Whether you are a friendship forming expert or struggle with making friends, I would highly recommend this book.  I think you will laugh and learn along the way!

You can pick up your own copy of this book from Family Christian here.  And enter to win a $10 Family Christian Appreciation Certificate below.  Good luck!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentine's Ideas and Fun

The kids and I were able to attend two homeschool Valentine's Day parties this week.  The first event was open to homeschoolers in Austin while the second event was specifically for our enrichment co-op that we are starting in a few weeks (which I am super excited about).  My oldest five kiddos made their own boxes and 50 Valentine's each for the first party, phew!  And I picked up a really fun heart shaped cookie cutter from Family Christian last week.  I have been having fun with our lunches and snacks.

A's box is candy themed.

 Here are her valentines.  I am so proud of her for making so many bracelets!

 B went for a robot theme.  I love the eyes and arms.

She made her valentines herself.

Cute, right?

I don't have a great photo of C's box, but his is the basket right there with the heart balloons.  He tied them together to make a hot air balloon.

 C's pencil valentines

For some reason I do not have photos of D and E's boxes but D's is decorated as a super hero with a felt cape and E's is covered in heart and bug stickers.

 D's valentines were super hero lollipops.

 E's valentines were love bugs.

 This is the cute towel and cookie cutter set that I picked up at Family Christian.

Making heart sandwiches

 The kids thought these were super cute and fun.

 I heart you.

 We have also made butter and jelly toast.

It doesn't have to be Valentine's Day to use this cutter or have some fun with your kids.  I have a feeling this will be used a lot in our home.  Hope you have a wonderful Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Importance of Women's Conferences

A view from the retreat

I have had the opportunity to attend two women's conferences in the last month!  My home church had a women's retreat a few weeks ago that baby F and I attended and this last weekend I was able to watch the Heart to Home Women's Conference via Simulcast (thanks Family Christian for that opportunity!).  The speakers were all amazing.  They were informative, helpful but also personal, practical and just plain fun.  Women's conferences are an opportunity to meet new people, possibly see old friends, connect or reconnect with the Lord as the case may be, revive/refresh and awaken your soul...

There are so many things I could share with you that I learned.  I laughed.  I cried.  I was encouraged and I dare say that I am being transformed.  Some of the highlights that I left with from my home church conference, themed Revive Us, are:

- that I am enough
- God is enough
- there is enough time in the day to do everything God wants me to do
- Phil 4:4-8 has become my mission/action/life verse
- I cannot be the woman that God wants me to be without pressing into his Word and spending time with Him 

 Listening to the Simulcast with Baby F

And some of the highlights that I left with from the Heart to Home Women's Conference Simulcast are:

- we are imperfect but we serve a perfect Christ
- find a mentor, be a mentor - there is such life in this
- only our purpose should define us, not a social system
- God exists in relationships
- real and authentic relationships are hard and take work but they are worth it
- I am here to serve, not to be served
- God's word is personal, practical and powerful
- God's word transforms

These are really only nuggets as both conferences were filled with such depth.  One of the main things that I personally plan on doing is pressing into my Bible even more and meditating on His word.  What is God showing you?

Philippians 4:4-8

Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.

My church had a photo booth set up and Baby F and I spent a few minutes having fun.  Enjoy these photos!

The giant green glasses...

I love these ears!

Adios Friends

Thursday, February 5, 2015

A's 11th Birthday Roller Skating Bash

Birthday Girl, A is 11!

We hit another milestone last month.  Not only was it the month of the 1's, F turned 1 and A turned 11, but we had our first birthday party not at our house!  A really wanted to roller skate so that is what we did. 

 A's Roller Skate Cake

Another view, I love the marshmallow toe stop

And a view from the top

David made a really fun cake.  He made a roller rink that was 1/2 chocolate and 1/2 vanilla cake.  Then he made a roller skate cake and stuck it on top.  I thought he did a really great job.

Impressively A had an amazing turn out.  I will say that having a birthday party away from home is different.  I definitely missed not being able to lie F down when he fell asleep but I didn't miss the cleaning a bit.  It was fun to see some of us adults having a little blast from the past as we strutted and slid across the floor. 

 Birthday Games - here is the limbo

 Blowing out the candles

My sweet, sweet niece ended up falling and breaking her wrist a few minutes into the party.  Thankfully she does not need surgery and seems to be healing quickly.  Please pray for her - she has an amazing attitude.  We had a really nice visit with my brother's entire family at our house after the party.  Dusti, I loved chatting about chai seeds, bulk sections, and healthy eating with you - so fun!

Monday, February 2, 2015

New Purex PowerShot Detergent Review, Giveaway and Sweeps

Disclosure:  Thanks so much to the Purex Insiders program for allowing me to be a part of this campaign and providing information about this Sweepstakes and a sample of the New Purex Power Shot detergent for my review!  As part of this campaign I am eligible to win prizes!

New Purex PowerShot Detergent

It has been awhile since I have shared a Purex product with you but I have a new one to tell you about, Purex PowerShot.  This product is launching this month so you can start looking for it in your local stores now.  Purex PowerShot is unique for a few reasons.  It takes the guesswork out of measuring by having an automatic dispenser built into the bottle that premeasures everything for you.  Also, Purex PowerShot is a super concentrated formula with 50% more stain fighting power per drop.  You basically Flip, Dose and your are Done!

You use 1 flip for regular loads and 2 flips for larger or dirtier loads.  It really is that simple.

Here you can see the automatic dispenser at the top.  

 Flipping the bottle and dosing my machine

When you flip the bottle, the premeasured amount is poured out and the dispenser automatically refills itself and is ready for the next load.

Here is a closer look.

And a view of the top looking down.

 Coupons to share with friends and family.

If you know me, you just might be receiving a special coupon.  Thanks Purex for creating these coupons specifically for my friends and family.

Not only is this product easy to use, just like other Purex products it works well!  It is available in both Mountain Breeze and Natural Elements Linen and Lilies, Purex's two most popular fragrances.

Be sure to check out my video review of Purex PowerShot below.  You can see the product in action!  And check out all the latest Purex news here.

I also want to remind you about the Purex PowerShot Coming Soon Sweepstakes.  I posted about it back in December here but it is still going on now (until March 31, 2015).
 Yes, you could win a new washer and dryer!

Go here to enter this sweeps.  Three grand prize winners will receive a Whirlpool washer and dryer set while 300 second-place winners will receive a bottle of PowerShot. 

Ready for a giveaway?  Three readers will win a free product coupon for one bottle of Purex PowerShot detergent (expiration 12/31/15).  Just enter the giveaway below and good luck!

 Free Product Coupons

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