Sermon Notes for Kids: Helping Your Kiddos Grow in their Faith

click to downloadI grew up in church. Every Sunday and Wednesday. Summer programs too. And I’m grateful for my upbringing and foundations of faith.

Now, I wasn’t the most quiet child during church service. Dad pecked my head a time or two–kept me in line. Kept me from squirming, doodling on the back of the bulletin, humming, or tossing paper wads at my brother.  🙂 Church service was sooo boring, well, up until my early teens, and then I started paying attention. Started understanding the relevance of the Bible, and faith. Started taking notes. Still take them, and enjoy going back through them from time to time.

Now that my kiddos sit in church service with us each Sunday, I find myself wondering how I can help them pay more attention…let the sermon sink in…help them apply it to their lives, and grow their faith…and keep the paper wads from flying across the room!

How??? How ?

Sermon notes for kids!!! Of course!!

Apparently I’m not the first to think of this idea. A whole host of Pinterest pins offer a variety of sermon notes for kids of all ages.  Check them out if you get a chance.

So I took my time, scanned through the pins and posts, gathered ideas, thought about my kiddos, how our church service is laid out, and created one for them, which I’m totally sharing with you. Free of charge! You’re welcome. 🙂

The notes include a page that highlights the importance of memorizing Bible verses, Prayers, Praises, and answered prayers pages, as well as a notes page for dates to remember perhaps from the bulletin, or other church social events. 

My oldest, now 10, won’t have any issues with filling out/reading the note pages. My youngest, now 5, will need some help. I will also be tweaking her sermon notes booklet a bit, equipped with Bible verses she can trace, and things more suited for her age (I’ll share that when I’m done).

So the game plan is: print out the pages, enough for a years worth of sermons, and bind them together to create a booklet for my oldest to take with him to church every Sunday. Now, one could easily print out the papers, hole punch them and put them in a binder, folder–whatevs. 🙂

Enjoy!! Print them out, get’em to your kiddos!

Click Here to Download the Sermon Notes pdf

Service, Love & a Cold Fighting Soup: Living Like Jesus

Moms don’t have time to get sick, and Military Wives whose spouse is deployed or away, dreads the thought of falling ill.

Never in my adulthood had I ever caught the flu….until my hubby was on his last deployment. That’s how it goes, right?

Well, I got it, and got it BAD!

Woke up drenched in sweat, chills, fever, the whole nine yards, yet I still needed to care for my kiddos. A mom’s job, well, we all know it’s never done.

I’m not one to ask for help, or share my burdens on social media, but that day, I wrote a simple message about being ill and needing prayer to get better soon.

An outpouring of love and support ensued. Several ladies brought soup, movies, meals, and crafts to keep my youngest occupied. They watched my youngest, made sure I didn’t have to prepare supper for a few days, called to check on me, and even helped pick up my house! Kinda makes me wanna get sick again, ha. 🙂 

These wonderful women demonstrated love by taking a moment to step away from their life, their obstacles, their problems, and their to-do-lists to help a friend in need. What a blessing they were to our family!

1 Corinthians 13: 7 says, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 
No one lived out this verse better than Jesus. He continuously demonstrates his love for us, but in this particular instance we find Jesus not only living out love, but giving us an insight to how to handle our trials and hurts. In Matthew 14 we find Jesus in mourning after the gruesome death of His cousin and friend, John the Baptist. He takes a moment to be alone and grieve, and then we see Him get up, and go out to serve and meet the needs of others.
When we shift our eyes from our burdens, busy schedules, hurts, and trials to meet the needs or serve someone else, we live out love. We live like the ladies who helped me in my time of need. We live like Jesus, and that’s the best way to live.
Think of ways to serve others. Think of ways your family can join in, and though it can be difficult, remember it’s okay to be the person who may need help.
And if there’s ever a need for a hearty, cold battling soup for family, friends or yourself? I got ya covered! Check out the recipe below, and it’s GLUTEN FREE:
Fight a Cold Soup
5-6 cups of Chicken broth (I’m sure veggie broth would be okay too)
2 Whole Carrots
3 Celery Stalks
1 Half of Onion Chopped
2 Tblsps of Minced Garlic
Kale & Baby spinach
1 1/2 tsp of Sea Salt
1 1/2 olive oil
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 50-60 minutes
Chop or dice carrots, celery, and onion. In a pot large enough to hold the soup, heat up olive oil on medium-high heat, and sauté the carrots, celery, and onion. Add in the garlic. Stir constantly. Add in 1/2 of broth, cover pan, set to simmer for 10 minutes. Add the rest of the chicken broth, and sea salt. Bring to a low boil and add the kale and spinach (use as much as you’d like; I do a handful of each).  Let boil for 5-7 minutes, then simmer for 30-40 minutes. Check the tenderness of the veggies and serve when they’ve reached desired firmness or softness. Feel free to add to or take away. Hot sauce and paprika goes well in this soup too. ENJOY!

Click to Tweet: Service, Love & a Cold Fighting Soup: Living Like Jesus

Click to Tweet: When we shift our eyes from our burdens […] we live like Jesus, and that’s the best way to live.

Helping Kids Cope with Deployment

September 11th means many things to Americans–many things we aren’t even able to put into words.

It’s been 14 years.

Doesn’t seem like it.

I’ve often thought it strange that my children cannot remember a time when our country hasn’t been at war, nor do they quite grasp why their Daddy has had to be gone for long periods of time to fight the bad guys.  So today, Dear Readers, we have a special Guest Blogger & Army Wife who is going to talk with us about helping our kids cope with deployment. We want to honor our brave men and women who keep our country safe, and support their families with all the love and encouragement we can muster.
Welcome, Julie Provost!
~   ~   ~
Helping Kids Cope with Deployment
My oldest son was only about 2 years old when his Dad deployed for the first time. By the time my husband deployed for the 2nd time he was 4 and his little brother was 2. By our 3rd deployment my boys were 6, 4 and 2.5 months old. Then the 4th they were 8, 6 and 2.
As I look back over the years I can see how each time they handled the deployment a little differently. This is normal because different kids in different ages tend to do that. Some kids can handle deployments better than others. Sometimes it is because of their personality, but sometimes it is because of their age and how much they can understand.

There is a lot you can do as the Military spouse to help your children cope during a deployment. If you have a small baby, one who can’t even talk yet, you might just keep sharing photos with them. Some people will laminate them and put them up in the nursery. Just so your baby sees their Dad and gets used to his face.

For a toddler or preschoolers it might get a little more difficult. They might not be able to explain to you how they are feeling about the issue but they might act out a little more because they are missing their other parent. It is best to keep that in mind as you go through your day. Try to set up Skype chats if you can and just be there to help them through it.
When your kids get a little older and can understand what the word “war” and “Army” means you can sit down with them and have conversations about it. You can check in with them about how they are doing and what they might be worried about. Have them help you with care packages and have them talk to their Dad as often as possible. Just let them know that you understand how hard it is for them.
You can do some fun activities around the house that might help them through it. Have a chain of deployment days. Put up pictures of your spouse. Have them help make the homecoming posters. Get them excited when you know it is coming to an end.

Remember to pray with your kids for Daddy every night. Pray for his safety and the safety of his Company, Unit and the whole Army. It can be a good way for kids to get used to praying for others too.
There isn’t a lot you can do to change the fact that your spouse will be deployed when they are in the Military. It happens and could happen more often than you would like. But, you can be there for your kids and get them through the separations. You can be the person that they can always go to when they are feeling too sad about it. You can help them cope.

Tweet: “There is a lot you can do as the #MilitarySpouse to help your children cope during a #deployment.”

Julie is a blogger & social media addict living in Tennessee. She has been married for 13 years to her National Guard Soldier and has three boys, 10, 8 & 4. You can find her at Soldier’s Wife, Crazy Life and on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest & Instagram.

4 Reasons to Host A Backyard Bible Club

Hi! Thanks for stopping by my blog!

My name is Hannah Conway, Army wife for more than a decade, and the author of The Wounded Warrior’s Wife, and Wedding a Warrior from Olivia Kimbrell Press.
This summer, our family hosted our very first Backyard Bible Club! We want to share the experience, and encourage military and civilian families to host your very own Backyard Bible Club for several reasons:
1: We’re promoting community, and that’s always a good thing!
2:  We’re cultivating relationships when we invite your neighbors over, and living in a military community it’s so vital to make connections with others we can trust, learn from and grow together. So to my military families out there, I challenge you to host a club.
3: The third and most important reason to host a backyard bible club is, we get to share Jesus with kids! How often do we sit in our homes and ever really get to know our neighbors, let alone work up enough nerve to tell them about Jesus or even let them know we’re a follower. A backyard Bible club helps to bridge that gap.
4: The 4th reason to host a club…well, that’s pretty easy! We get to have a lot of fun…a lot of messy fun…or not so messy, but our family likes messy games…really messy games! We’ve got the pics to prove it!

Thinking of starting your own Backyard Bible Club? Check out for easy-to-use curriculum or use any of our ideas, lessons/agendas, crafts, games etc.

Feel free to comment below with suggestions for next year’s club, or suggestions/advice for anyone interested in hosting their own club.  

Scripture Blocks Made From Scrap Wood, Paint, Construction
Paper, and Modge Podge.

A Few of My Favorite Things! Giveaway!!

Say what you want about Oprah, but that lady knew how to do a giveaway! Each year, one lucky audience went home with all of Oprah’s favorite things! While I have no intentions of competing with her, haha :), I do want to give away a few of my own favorite things to you!!!!!!

How fun is this!?? It’s okay to giggle! Or even jump up and down! I’m giving away 10, YES 10, of my favorite things toward the end of our summer break.

10 things, 10 winners!!

My list of favorite things includes…

1) $10 Starbucks Gift Card!!
2) $10 Amazon Gift Card!!!
3) Vera Bradley Pencils!!!
4) Audio Devotionals from Beth Moore!!
5) 2 Love Inspired books!
6) My favorite Yogi Green Teas!
7) A CD Copy of The Wounded Warrior’s Wife ‘playlist soundtrack’ that I made!! Love that thing!
8) A very Crafty Memo/Picture board!
9) A bag of my favorite gluten free crackers! You’ll love them too!! 🙂
10) A 24 oz glass Mason Jar water jug!!

Enter to win below! No, you don’t have to join my mailing list, but please feel free to subscribe for updates and more giveaways! I have not the time nor the energy to flood your inbox, lol, so you don’t have to worry about that.

YES, YES, you can share this post with your friends and family! The more the merrier, right? 🙂

Winner will be announced on Monday, August 17th by 5pm CT. The Winner will be notified by email and or facebook. If the winner has not responded within 72 hours, another winner will be chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway//

Guest Reader & Author: Sara Turnquist on Postpartum Depression

Welcome, Dear Readers!

This year I’ve set out to get to know you better, hear your story, what God’s done or doing in your life, lessons learned, trials, triumphs, recipes, and fun projects. I want to hear what you have to say, and so do a whole host of others. Sara!

I’m a stay-at-home mom in Clarksville, TN. But I do also work at Disney’s Animal Kingdom as an Educator seasonally. I have three beautiful children: Audrey, 5, Andrew, 4, and Aiden, 16 months, and one wonderfully supportive husband, Greg. I have been a “closet writer” for many years and my debut novel will be coming out this summer.

His Eye Is On The Sparrow: Postpartum Depression

Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father….so do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29, 31

Why should I feel discouraged? Why should the shadows come?
Why should my heart feel lonely and long for heaven and home?
When Jesus is my portion, my constant friend is He
His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.
I sing because I’m happy
I sing because I’m free
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches me.

I love this song. Maybe because my grandfather sang it often and it’s a fond memory I have of him. But in the midst of my (post partum) depression, this song took on a whole new dimension (meaning) for me. This song proposes that with Jesus as our portion, we shouldn’t feel discouraged and the shadows shouldn’t come over us. You and I know that this is not true; that even with Jesus in our life, depression will come. It rains on the righteous and the unrighteous the same (Matthew 5:45). Depressive disorders fall on those who live with Christ in their lives and those who live without Him just the same. It doesn’t seem right, it doesn’t seem fair…but yet it is true. Scripture tells us that this is how it will be.

This song does, however, hit on the very thing that separates a Christ follower who suffers from depression from an unbeliever who struggles in that same darkness: “Jesus is my portion, a constant friend is He…His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.” We have a constant friend and companion with us that walks with us through the whole thing. Even our spouses and closest friends cannot understand and may very well end up getting shut out in our attempts to escape from our lives, but we cannot escape from God. And, though it may feel like you can’t see Him at times, that you can’t feel Him (though we know feelings are deceitful, right?), He is there…every moment of every day. He is experiencing every agonizing moment of that darkness with you. He is watching over you as this verse and song says, but more than that, He is with you. Let Him be with you. Let His presence wash over you. Ask Him for that very thing. What part of your depression are you thankful He sees/experiences with you?

Wow, Sara, that was beautiful. Thank you. Could you share with us a favorite scripture and perhaps the reasoning?

For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
There is so much hope in this verse for those who live in fear and anxiety and for those who struggle with mental illness. During my depressive episodes, I truly felt as if I was losing my mind because of the intrusive thoughts (thoughts that were not my own that came into my mind urging me to…well, mostly to hurt myself). To not feel safe in your own skin is a, well, a very scary, very crazy feeling. But that is not who God made me to be. He did not give me a spirit of fear. He gave me a sound mind. And He gave me the power to defeat what Satan has in store for me (I’m NOT saying depression is from Satan…depression is, by and large, a chemical or hormonal imbalance…but believe you me, Satan will take every advantage he can get).

You’re so right. You know, I love hearing how God has set people free, and I think you can relate. There’s so much more to freedom than patriotism. Would you share a time with us when you experienced God’s freedom?

I experienced a lot of freedom during the course of my recovery from depression. It was a hard place to be in for sure, but it was also a place of healing. In the depths of my depression, everything was dark, there was nothing there but this inescapable gloominess. I couldn’t even find God, though I cried out for Him. I knew He hadn’t abandoned me because His word says He never would, but I felt all alone. Where was He? Why couldn’t I see Him? But now, as I walk in freedom from that darkness, I look back and see, just as the poem “The Footprints in the Sand” proposes, one set of prints during that time. What? He was carrying me to be sure. And I now believe that I couldn’t see Him during that time because He was holding me so tightly that my face was pressed into His shoulder, blinding me. But how did I find that freedom? Through faith steps. I had to let go of the need to see the whole path. God only showed me the step in front of me, as a lamp unto my feet. And even at that, sometimes only dimly lit. I found that I would have to take that step in faith and then trust that He would provide enough light for the step after that.

There’s nothing about what your describing that sounds easy, but totally worth every step you took in blind faith. We all struggle in our walk with God, what affected your walk the most through the depression?
The fact that I felt He wasn’t there. During my second episode of post partum depression, I struggled with why He would allow this to happen to me again. I struggle through verses like…”I am the Lord and there is no other, the One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity. I am the Lord Who does all these.” Isaiah 45:6b-7  How do I deal with that? A kind, merciful, gracious God “creating calamity” in my life, “creating” this darkness that threatened to swallow me whole? But I had much to learn about being disciplined. About what lengths He would go through to draw me to Himself, to teach me, to mold me. (Again, not saying depression is a sign you are being “punished” by God. Quite the opposite…but I DO believe that God causes ALL things to work together for good to those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

I have held on to that verse for years, Sara! It’s given me strength in good times and in bad. For our readers out there who may be experiencing depression, what three things would you say to someone who is struggling?
1)      God is there – you may not believe it, you may not see Him, but He is there, in that darkness with you; He feels it, He cries for you, with you, over you; this is a time He can draw you close to Him, if you only let Him.; quiet yourself and let Him speak to you, dear soul; you would be amazed…the God who sings over you (Zephaniah 3:17) wants to speak into your heart in the silence if you’ll only let Him
2)      Take one step at a time – one step out of bed at a time; one faith step at a time…don’t try to see the whole road, just look for that one step in front of you.
3)      Don’t trust your feelings, trust His word – your heart is “more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9) It is not to be trusted. The Word of God is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword…discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12); our emotions are fallible; God’s Word is not; so when your feelings or when intrusive thoughts threaten to take you down the wrong path into negative thinking or something worse, turn to God’s word to find the truth
Sara, thank you for being here with us, and thank you for your transparency. It’s been such a pleasure having you here today!
Connect with Sara:
Other Suggested Reading:
Be a Guest on My Blog 🙂
I love hearing from my readers and so does everyone else! Have a testimony to share? Something cool God has done for you? A recipe the world needs to know? What about a DIY project you’d like to teach us? Then I’d love to have you as a guest on my blog! Shoot me an email at to get started.

4 Tips for Planning a LEGO Birthday Party

Welcome, Dear Readers!

This year I’ve set out to get to know you better, hear your story, what God’s done or doing in your life, lessons learned, trials, triumphs, recipes, and fun projects. I want to hear what you have to say, and so do a whole host of others.

Today we welcome Nicole Hines! Nicole is a mother of two, a Kindergarten teacher, and my sister-in-law! She’s got some great crafty ideas, and today she’s sharing some excellent tips on throwing an incredible Lego themed party!

Meet Nicole:

Hi everyone!
Since my boys birthdays are 3 weeks apart I decided to have a joint birthday party this year.  One thing both my boys love are LEGOs.  So I quickly decided on a LEGO themed birthday party and started surfing Pinterest for ideas. My goal was to spend as less as possible but make it look like I spent a lot. Here are 4 tips to how I got the job done!

1. Centerpieces:  I took glass mason jars and filled them with Legos.  I actually had my father-in-law cut some PVC pipe to place in the middle of the jar as a filler.  That way I didn’t have to use all my Legos for the centerpieces.  I then tied balloons to the jars for some height.  Under the jars I used some Lego mats from a Lego set I already owned. Finally, I sprinkled some jumbo Legos on each table too!  I think it turned out so cute!

2.  Cake: I love cupcakes!  They are so easy for birthdays, and so good.  So I bought some Lego molds off Amazon for $8.  I bought just regular white frosted cupcakes from Kroger.  I got red, yellow, green, and blue candy chocolate from Michaels craft store, and made Lego bricks to put on the cupcakes.  I was worried that the different colored chocolates would taste gross, but I had so many compliments on how good they were.

3. Games:  A birthday party is not complete without some type of entertainment.  The space I rented for the birthday party wasn’t big enough for an inflatable.  Honestly, I didn’t want to blow my entire birthday budget on one bouncy house anyway.  So I had to get creative in order to keep 15 little kids entertained.  First, we played pin the head on the Lego man.  Then I used the remaining Legos, scattered them all over the hallway, and gave each child a paper bag to decorate.  When everyone was ready, we had a Lego hunt.  The goals was to pick up as many Legos as possible.  After the hunt all the kids had to try and build the tallest structure.  To say they loved it was an understatement. 

4.  Party Favors:  I used the mini figure Lego mold and made Lego crayons (I got the mold from Amazon).  The boys loved helping me peel the crayons paper off, break them into pieces, and place them in the molds. We baked them in the oven at 200 degrees, for 15 minutes. Once removed from the oven, I used a toothpick to pop the air bubbles in the melted crayons, then set the mold in the refrigerator until it cools. Afterward, I popped them out of the mold. Easy! 🙂 Each child at the party left with 2 Lego crayons and a small little tablet. It was a hit!

Thank you for sharing Nicole!

Guest Reader Jessica Adkins: Living Love Loud by Becoming a Surrogate

Welcome, Dear Readers!
This year I’ve set out to get to know you better, hear your story, what God’s done or doing in your life, lessons learned, trials, triumphs, recipes, and fun projects. I want to hear what you have to say, and so do a whole host of others.

Today we welcome Jessica Adkins! Jessica has quite a testimony to share with you, and it seems quite fitting given that it’s Easter weekend, and we have so much life to celebrate!

Meet Jessica:

I’m 28 weeks pregnant with a precious baby boy. The twist? He’s not my husband’s baby…or mine! I am a gestational surrogate for an international family. I am just the incubator, or an extreme babysitter, for another family’s biological child. 
Meet Jessica Adkins
At this point, there Is no hiding that I’m pregnant! So, there are a lot of questions and comments from random people. Everyone loves a pregnant person! Or maybe it’s just they love to give advice and talk about your size! Most comments are from strangers making small talk who don’t know I’m a surrogate. I often struggle with knowing when to tell people that I’m carrying for a family or when to just smile and say, “Thank you.” 
My desire during this journey was to be open and vulnerable and make the entire process known.  I wanted people to see my heart, how The Lord was working through this, and what an amazing blessing this has been for both our families…it’s just kind of hard to share that in a 3 minute conversation! When I do mention that I’m a surrogate there are some people who are instantly supportive, but I mostly get a really weird sideways glance with three responses, “Why would you do that?” “I could never do that” and “Won’t you be too attached?” 
I totally understand all of those questions! I thought those too. I have been living through this process almost two years now and often times it’s still crazy to me that I’m pregnant with another family’s baby! I didn’t enter this process lightly and without prayer or guidance. I completely understand people have different opinions and values that they are entitled to.
We have 2 small children of our own. They are such a blessing and bring so much joy to our lives. Daily they humble us and teach us amazing truths about God’s love…but we feel complete with our family! No more planned babies for us! However, maybe that would convince my husband to buy me the minivan that I so desperately want…
When we made that decision not to have anymore kids, my heart was kind of sad! I am not a great pregnant person who loves every second of being pregnant if that’s what you assume! I complain about being pregnant every day that I’m pregnant…but there was still this longing to help create life, or carry life. Crazy woman hormones. 
As I’ve gotten older, I was taken back by the amount of infertility struggles that so many women and our close friends were struggling through. Honestly, I didn’t know surrogacy was a valid option until I quickly researched it. Once it was on my heart, I couldn’t get it off. 
One of my favorite versus is 1 John 3:18-24; “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech, but with actions and in truth…” 
When I read this verse, it always hits me in a different way depending on my stage in life. How can I ‘love out loud’? I wanted to not only have a heart for families by being supportive and praying for them…I wanted to find a way to love them with actions. My body could carry a baby and there are families that desire a baby, so why not?! Obviously, there is more involved, but those were my beginning prayers! 
We chose to pursue surrogacy through an agency for the protection of our family. There are a lot of laws, medical, and legal issues that come along with surrogacy. Having an agency handle the business aspect allows us to focus on the relational side. We were matched with a wonderful couple based on our interest and personalities. It has been the greatest match. The mom had tried IVF 3 times before cancer was found and she had to have a full hysterectomy. They were on the adoption list for several years, but waiting up to five years is common. They chose to come to the US to pursue surrogacy since it is illegal in their country. 
Aren’t you going to be attached?
Precious Baby Boy
Right now, I am focused on enjoying this process. My husband and I are loving the relationship we are building with the parents. Being able to meet a couple we would have never known and call them family now is amazing. A pregnancy has never went by this fast in the past! It really is enjoyable…maybe because I now realize how amazing of a gift being pregnant is?! I love to feel him move, kick, and punch because I know he’s growing and is healthy. My husband feels my belly and is protective over my pregnancy and health. We both love the baby and his parents. So, yes we are attached! 
However, it’s just different. I don’t feel like he is my baby (because he’s not). I don’t have a crazy plan to ‘keep him’.  It could be because I’m not spending that time nesting in our home and planning his future. I feel like I love him and want the best for him…for him to be with his parents who love and desire to finally be able to hold him in their arms! The excitement and anticipation of that moment make it all worth it. 
I am not just helping to create a baby for a family…but a future brother, son, uncle, husband, father, and grandfather! That makes my role in this feel so small in comparison of what God can do through him. 
I would love your prayers for the rest of this pregnancy and over this sweet little boys life! If you would like to follow our journey you can check out my blog at:

Thank you for being with us today Jessica! I’m moved to tears, and I will be praying for you, your family, this precious boy, and his family. You’ll have to come back and give us update info and pics!!

5 Ways to be Blessed in the Stress: A Military Wife’s Perspective

So. Stress. Let’s talk about that.

We’ve all felt it, right? Life gets real, real fast. Traumatic events. Loss. Broken hearts. Then there are the little stressors that just get under your skin like when a car pulls out in front of you, and then slows down! What’s with that?! Or the person at the drive in in front of you decides to order the entire store when all you want is a black coffee with no creamer or sugar. Geez people!

If you’ve never felt stress, where have you been? Tell me your secret! Turn on the news and I guarantee you’ll be taking meds for high blood pressure soon. The world is a mess, ick.
Stress doesn’t just come from things we experience or see. Certain types of food can cause our bodies to be stressed. Too much caffeine (Sigh of sadness). Sugar is the worst…so sad. Sugar is actually an anti-nutrient…it sucks nutrients out of our body and causes us to be sluggish, sick, and tired, but unable to get the kind of good hearty rest our bodies need, and a lack of good rest/sleep causes more stress on our body. A vicious cycle ensues!
No wonder the world has gone mad. We’re drinking some caffeine-filled beverage in one hand, eating something sugary with the other, couple that with a lack of sleep, our fast paced schedules, life’s issues, and we’re a big ball of stress just spewing all over the place.
Our environment, toxins in the air, and chemicals in the hygiene products we use every day can cause stress to our body. Nice, right?
The medical world even knows how serious our stress issue is, admitting that 80% or more of all disease and illness is stress related. How ’bout that? Insane!  

We can’t live in a bubble, though, nor would I want to. Ok, maybe I would sometimes.

What does God say about stress?He says in 1 Peter 5:7 to cast all your burdens on him because he cares for you. He says to come to him for rest (Matthew 11:28-30). He says not to worry about anything, but pray about everything (Philippians 4:6&7).
When the American Medial Association says that 80% or more of all disease and illness is stress related, do we have any other choice but to give that junk over to God?
Being an Army wife, I know stress, and being the wife of a wounded warrior who struggles with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), well…let’s say stress and I are on a first name basis. 
Yes, life gets crazy, but I can’t seem to find a time, even in the stress, that I haven’t been blessed. I’d imagine if we all took the time to look past our stress we could see how we’re being blessed.

 Having a hard time seeing it? Wanna know how to be blessed in the stress? Here are 5 ways:

1: Be a blessing and Love others:

  • 1 Corinthians 13: 7 “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”  I’d add, No Matter What to that if I could.
  • In Matthew 14, after finding out his cousin, John the Baptist, had been killed, Jesus withdrew to be alone, but crowds followed Him. He didn’t lash out in his grief, or tell them to go away. He saw their need. He knew a key to being blessed in the stress was to be a blessing to others, and to love those around Him.
2: Be content:
A good friend once told me the keys to being content were: Don’t Compete, Don’t Compare, Don’t Complain. That’s a pretty good start, and to keep us from competing, comparing, and complaining, Paul defines contentment best here:

  • Philippians 4: 12-13 “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ,[d] who gives me strength.

3: Get in God’s Word

If we’re believers, we have no excuse but to be students of God’s Word.

    • Hebrews 4:12: For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
    • 2 Timothy 3:16:  All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.

4: Be intentional with your thoughts & words
I’m going to park right here for a second. As an author words are a HUGE deal to me. We create with them, and they have purpose and a meaning. Check this out: God created the world with his Words…and we’re made in His image, meaning in part, that our words too, are powerful. He says we can speak life or death with our words (Proverbs 18:21), build up or destroy (Proverbs 12:6), and we’re accountable for the words we speak (Matthew 12:36-37). Thoughts turn into words, so both are a  big deal. Our mind/thoughts/words need to be transformed and focused.

    • Romans 12: 2: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
    • Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

5: Forgive:

  • Matt 6: 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins
I don’t claim to understand all the ins and outs of this verse, but I will say, when we are able to kick our pride to the curb and forgive, there is some serious healing and stress relief that takes place. Sometimes we need to forgive, sometimes we need to ask for forgiveness, and often it’s a combination of the two.

Here’s the bottom line:

We can CHOOSE to be blessed in the stress. We choose love others, be content, get into God’s Word, be intentional with our words & thoughts, and forgive.

I’m thankful for that choice, aren’t you?


Summer Reading List: What’s On Yours?

Oh Summer.

Pause for affectionate sigh.

Pools. Water balloons. Late nights catching lightening bugs, grilling out, and movies at the park.

Just feeling the sun against my face makes summer quite glorious, but reading–books on my beloved summer reading list–is like the cherry on top of this season.

This year I have some lofty reading goals, but hey, shoot high, right? The kids are even chiming in to create their own list–I’ll share it too!

Not only am I aiming high, I’m shooting wide and seeking to read a variety of genres, and topics. This writer’s got to be well rounded.

So without further ado, meet my new poolside friends….

1: Smart Money, Smart Kids by Dave Ramsey & Rachel Cruze /Nonfiction/Instructional
2: The Hesitant Heiress by Dawn Crandall (Releasing in August! Stay tuned for a Review!)/Historical Fiction
3: Bringing Up Girls by Dr. James Dobson /Nonfiction/Instructional
4: Wedded to War by Jocelyn Green/ Historical Fiction
5: Promise to Return by Elizabeth Byler Younts/ Historical Fiction

6: The Jewel Series Anthology by Hallee Bridgeman /Romance

7: Divergent by Veronica Roth /Young Adult/Scifi/Fantasy

8: Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling /Young Adult/Fantasy (I have to re-peruse this book nearly every summer!!!)
9: Iscariot by Tosca Lee / Historical Fiction/Biblical Times

10:  Sisterchicks on the Loose by Robin Jones Gunn /Women’s Fiction/Comedy/Friendship

11: Home Maintenance for Dummies by James Carey & Morris Carey Jr. (Yeah, if this book doesn’t help me fix things, then it’s back to youtube instructional videos, lol).

WHEW…but wait, there’s more J….

Books I will be diving into to continue to sharpen my writing skills:

1: Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell

3: Plot Versus Character: A Balanced Approach to Writing Great Fiction by Jeff Gerke

Now For the Kids:

The kiddo’s reading list is a bit different, more interactive, and filled with variety. It’s more like a Creative Story Kids Summer Camp, lol. It includes books to read, movies to watch, book reports to write/draw/create, and stories to create.

Goal: Choose and complete 10 of the 15 items on the list before school starts.
1: Watch the Lion King & create a book report–drawn or written.
2: Research an animal or historical event of your topic & create a fact sheet from what you learned.
3: Cut out pictures from a magazine. Glue them on a sheet a paper, and make up a story using the images on your paper.
4: Read a book, magazine, or comic book of your choice
5: Pick a writing prompt from our 642 Things to Write About and fill a page with what you have to say.
6: Read a book, magazine, or comic book your choice
7: Watch: Honey I shrunk the Kids, because I LOVED that movie as a kid!
8: Watch Mary Poppins, just because it’s fun.
9: Find a recipe for your favorite food. Plan a time to create this food. Eat it and discuss how it turned out…good? or bad? What could you have done differently?
10: Read: A book, magazine, or comic book of your choice
11: Watch Ratatouille, and spend time reading through recipes from around the world using the internet. Make a few if you’re feeling up to it! 😉
12: Compare & Contrast two movies on this list. This can be done in written form, or diagram.
13: Read a book, magazine, or comic book of your choice
14: Watch the Parent Trap (the original with Haley Mills), and create a list of all the other tricks the twins could’ve done to the fiancé.
15: Read a book, magazine, or comic book of your choice

When creating a summer reading list for yourself or you kiddos, include both fiction and nonfiction books, movies & documentaries. Make it FUN, and give incentives along the way as they mark off their Summer Reading List, like popsicles, a crazy game they’ve been asking to play or stickers. Be creative! 😉

Asking yourself a couple of questions can help you create that perfect summer reading list. Questions like these:

1: What interests you/them?
Do you like mystery? Romance? Both? Do your kids like a certain cartoon character?
Letting kids pick books/magazines/comic books that interests them helps foster a love for reading. Being forced to read things is never fun. Ugh. Anyone remember how awful some of those books were in High School?
2: What would they/you like to know or what places would they/you like to go?
Often times picking up nonfiction books on how things are made, travel destinations, or a specific historical event can be a lot of fun for you and your kids. Remember, kids really do love to learn, especially when you’re excited about it.

Hopefully, these tips help you create a list that’s just right for you and your family, but if not, feel free to copy ours.