Monday, January 23, 2012

Guest Blogger: Annette Hertzler- Spend Time With Your Treasure

A&L- Christmas 2011

And here it is, friends! The much anticipated blog post from my dearest Annette. Most people who know me, know about her....if not know her personally. I wish the entire world could spend the time sitting at her farmhouse kitchen table as I have....but then there wouldn't have been time for me! She and I started our friendship because I was given an assignment to find a mentor in my life- someone to help me along in the process of becoming a Godly woman and wife. We became kindred spirits quickly and our families knit themselves together closer than I ever thought possible. Her mentorship and guidance also taught me to the mom I am today. Friends often ask how it all happened, but that's so hard to answer... it was two lives intentionally lived together...a complete God-thing. We are real and honest with each other. She knows more about me than anyone. She's the one when I call when I win and fail at life. She's cried with me, rejoiced with me, straightened me out, and allowed me to sleep when it seemed no one else would. 


Gifts To Enjoy
       God enjoys us. I believe He created us for His enjoyment. I read recently that there are three things children need. They need security, significance, and purpose. Adults need these things too. Being enjoyed and loved by God gives us security, significance, and purpose.
    God gives us children for our enjoyment. In 1 Timothy 6:17, the writer exhorts us to "trust in the living God...who has given us richly all things to enjoy." If you enjoy each stage of your child's development, you will most likely enjoy each stage of your child's development. Yes, I said that twice. You may even be asked if the little girl in your grocery cart is your grand-child because you are enjoying her so much.
     We worry too much about doing it right and God says, "Just enjoy the gift I've given you." When you enjoy your child you will most likely be in good relationship with your child. Healthy discipline stems from that good relationship which is rooted in love and love never fails. Love never fails.
     When my first child, Freeman, was two, I wrote a little poem called "Treasures." I share it with you here.
My house is in a shambles,
The garden's full of weeds,
The trashcan smells suspicious
and the toilet bowl has needs.
But I am with my baby
and he's showing me the sky,
an ant who's on a journey,
and a flitting butterfly.
My housework never will leave home
But one day all too soon,
Our son will walk out of our door-
Whistling freedom's tune.
So spend time with your treasure-
Don't fuss about the dust.
Your baby is eternal,
Your gold that will not rust.
God enjoys you, His treasure.
Enjoy your treasure, too.
Annette Hertzler

Several years after our friendship began, I was taking a class about women's ministry and was given another assignment to serve as a reverse-mentor for someone. Naturally, I wanted to help Annette learn something new! She and I had spend some time talking about how important writing was to her- she wanted to write things down for her kids to have later in life. I offered to teach her to blog and within a few posts, she was hooked! You can find hundreds of wise treasures like you've just read on her blog, Please jump over to her site and grab a nice cup of tea and soak in her words. She's a keeper! 

Thanks, Annette, for sharing on my blog! I LOVE it....let's do it again! 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Another Guest Blogger!

On Monday, I will host my second guest blogger! I can not wait to share with you what she has written!!!

To my Farmville friends, you are going to love this.....prepare yourself.

To my new Connecticut friends, you are going to love this....prepare yourself.

I love my guest blogger and I know you will be blessed by what she has written. Check back on Monday!!!

Here's a horrible reach-out-your-arm shot of us on a date. Where did we end up? Trying on bomber hats at L.L.Bean. We're dorks, but we are learning our way around true winter weather gear. These even have little ear flaps you can raise to allow hearing while the larger side flaps are lowered and tied around your chin. We've love to get some (despite the unattractiveness), but with a $50+ price tag, I think we'll wait! Enjoy your wintery weather this weekend~

Friday, January 13, 2012

help is on the way...

I asked her to go upstairs and pick up the Angelina toy set she was playing with earlier. I would be right behind her to start the bath water. She’s about to turn 4 and I knew she could do the task. I few minutes later, she was back in the kitchen and I asked her if the toys were picked up. 
“It’s too many for me.” 
A little file folder in the back of my mental “mothering” drawer began jumping around and reminded me of a snippet of time when my first was a toddler. She had scattered all of the offering envelopes and welcome cards found in the pew rack in church. From the other end of the row, I told her to pick them up before giving anyone hugs. Gigantic tears flowed. Someone near and dear simply asked her older daughter to help mine and said, “sometimes the task just looks too big to start.” 
This flashback caused me to think wisely, so I asked my brown-eyed beauty to head back upstairs and just pick up Angelina’s table and chairs. I told her I would help with the rest. 
“Just her table and chairs? I can do that!” and up she went. 
I have a huge task ahead and I’ve been avoiding it because it just feels too big for me. Not only do I feel this way about my big assignment looming nearby, but I feel similarly about my inability to live righteously. 
“It’s just too big for me.” 
But I have to start somewhere. I can take it a piece at a time and work my way through until it’s done. However, it isn’t so easy with living like Jesus. With his help, I can take it a little at the time and work on areas that need adjusting. I don’t always have a good attitude or put others first. I’m not always respectful of the people who need it most in my life and I get hung up on superficial things. But I trust that he who began a good work in me will faithfully complete it. I can rest knowing that I can’t and won’t get it all perfect overnight and that my Help is on the way. 
My rock and redeemer. My help and high tower. My strength and security. My healer and hope. 
I finished up the dishes that night and went upstairs a few minutes later to find that almost everything was already picked up. I helped with two pieces. Literally, two pieces out of dozens. She had completed the job by breaking it up into smaller tasks and with the encouraging knowledge that help was on the way. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Guess Blogger: Chris Conrad

I am super excited to host my first guest blogger today! Chris, one of my friends from college (she and I led a small group together one year....good times!), is a great mom and blogger in Alabama. She and her husband, Mike, are wonderful parents to their sweet daughter. I am happy to share with you a recent post she wrote about being a mom. Here she is......

I'm a better Mom than you!
The other night I was waiting for my favorite weeknight show to come on: Modern Family. It truly is one of the highlights of my week. So while I waited, I flipped through the numerous channels, all of which had nothing really on that I would watch. Before I knew it I found myself watching Up All Night. I had seen this show before, but never really got into it. That night's episode proved to be much funnier than the previous ones. As I continued to watch, I learned more about the show itself.

Reagan Brinkley (Christina Applegate) is a working mom while her husband, Chris Brinkley (Will Arnett) stays at home with their baby girl. The show is about their lives as parents and how they have changed since they were newly married and without a child. 

In this particular episode, Reagan was trying to juggle her schedule so she could attend baby classes with her husband and little girl. Things were pretty funny.......... until...............

In the baby class, there was a stay at home mom with her baby. The show immediately turned this character into some wacko! She started telling Reagan how her baby is crawling because she stays at home and works with her. She then lifts her baby in the air and talks about how her baby is her entire world. Basically she was making Reagan feel like a terrible mother for having a job.

This just infuriated me! Why did they have to make the stay-at-home-mom out to be some nut! Why I kept watching I have no earthly idea. But by the end of the show, the two women somehow made up and talked about getting a drink sometime. 

As I went to bed that night, I kept mulling what happened over and over in my mind. As much as I loathe what the show portrayed, it is very true to life when it comes to mothers. I picture a boxing ring with the two fighters. Except instead of physical punches, they spew criticism.  And it's truly sad. 

Through observation, I have found the following: 

With the working mother there is guilt - they feel guilty for not being able to stay at home with their child. They want to be able to spend more time doing things with them and for them.

The stay-at-home-moms feel stuck. They miss dressing up and having some place to be, deadlines to meet, and adult conversation. 

Because women have these feelings, they try to cope with them by reassuring themselves that they are doing what's best. But instead of seeking reassurance from Christ, they put themselves in the boxing ring. And who is orchestrating the fight? The Enemy. The one who thrives in division. The one created those feelings of inadequacy to being with. 
  • Well she just works so much she never has time for her kids.
  • I would have a clean house too if I stayed at home all day.
  • She has all those kids and works? How do they get any attention?
  • She stays at home, she should be able to volunteer.
I would be lying if I told you I have never had these thoughts. When I was working before Madeline and now staying at home with Madeline. They creep into our minds without warning. And these thoughts soon turn into judgements. Before we know it, we've gone into separate camps. 

BOTTOM LINE: As women, we need to be the kind of mother Christ has called us to be. 

  • Some women are called to a career. That doesn't mean they choose that career over their family.
  • Some women are called to work at home. That doesn't mean they are any better of a mother. 

The key word is CALLED. 

If God has called you to a particular career or job, then He has made a way for you to work and take care of your family. It may seem hard to juggle everything and you may look at the stay-at-home-mom and wish you had her life - DON'T! You are right where you need to be! Don't feel guilty! Instead ask yourself What is God calling me to with my career and family? How can I glorify God with what He's called me to do? I know so many gifted librarians, teachers, doctors, NASA education specialists, interior designers, graphic designers, secretaries...the list goes on and on. What you do is important. Your children will see that, too! 

Some of you may be working and HATE your job. And want to be home. You feel called to be at home. You feel like you're in limbo. Your job is important. You are on mission. You are helping to provide for your family. 

If God has called you to stay at home with your children, then He has made a way for you physically be with your child/ren during the day. Your job is important. It may seem hard to catch the crawling child, watch Disney all day, and have little adult communication. You may wish you could head off to a job. DON'T! You are right where you need to be! Don't feel trapped! Instead ask yourself What is God calling me to while staying at home? How am I glorifying God with what He's called me to do? 

The Enemy doesn't want us to ask ourselves these questions. He doesn't want us to be on mission. He wants us to be so distracted with the grass being greener on the other side, that we forget to tend to our own lawn. 

Don't do what you feel you should do; do what you have been called to do. As seasons in your life change, so may your calling. If you're working, God may call you to stay at home for a period. If you are staying at home, He may call you to go back to work for a time. Don't shut yourself off from what God may be saying to you.

I think once we have more confidence in what God has called us to do and what He's called us to be, then we will be less likely to judge others and instead work together for what we're all called to do: live out the gospel together in community. 

See, isn't she great! Her honesty is why I love her. If you want to follow her, head on over to her blog.... 

Have a great night friends! Thanks, Chris, for sharing your heart. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Guess what?

Early next week, I will host my first guest blogger! I hope you are as excited as I am....I always love reading her posts. As a young mom, she is real and raw about what she is learning about herself, life and God. Get ready!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Magical Morning Moments

The best part of my day happens before I open my eye lids. It starts like this:

  • Dog huffs repeatedly, in an attempt to beg to be let outside. Being gentlemanly, he refrains from barking. I love him for that. 
  • Gil *encourages* him to quiet down a few times. 
  • Gil begins to huff repeatedly, as he layers on the clothes to escort Judah out. I love him for that. 
  • All is quiet while the boys are outside. 
  • Somewhere in dreamland, a coffee grinder is switched on and the time warp begins. 
Time stops. 

Some days, the time warp feels like it lasts for hours. It's amazing, heavenly and totally my love language. I know, thanks to my husband's vast coffee knowledge, that the ground coffee will only sit in the french press for 4 minutes. But the moments just don't add up. 

Here's what I know:
coffee grind time + water boil time+ 4 minutes to do whatever it does in the press+perfect cup prep= not that long (in real life) 

But, if you account for the time warp, the moments stretch. 

Here's what else I know:
Sleep during the time warp is deep and sweet, it's powerful and concentrated. It's like a nap in the sun, which is so much better than normal sleep. 

After the elongated minutes, I feel someone standing nearby. I have a 6th sense- I can tell coffee is close. 

Time begins. 

  • I *gracefully* sit up, eyeliner smudged and hair going in ever direction possible. He loves me for that. 
  • He places the cup of goodness in my hands and walks away. I love him for that. 
  • I drink most of the powerful goodness, then begin to move. 
  • Somewhere in real life, I hear kid chatter and the day begins. 
I know I am loved during these magical morning moments. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Leap Blogging

I would like to invite you to leap over to my other blog to read my latest post about our transitions in Connecticut! You can find it by clicking here! Enjoy!

And for your visual enjoyment, here is a little snapshot of my husband under a snowy tree! Can you spot him?


Book Review: STUCK- a keeper....definitely.

On a superficial level, I love this study. 
On a leadership level, I love this study. 
On a personal level, I love this study. 
On a spiritual level, I love this study. 
Jennie Allen nailed it when she wrote her 8 week group study entitled Stuck. The series comes with an 8 session DVD, a leaders guide, a participants guide, and a deck of cards. 
The deck of cards were my favorite. 
Allen gives group guidelines for her study. One of her rules for group discussion is to not counsel one another. If you’ve ever been in a group discussion with more than 2 women, you should know why she wants to limit playing counselor for the others. Everyone always has an idea to solve your problem, a solution to your worries and instructions on how to live the perfect life. But why the deck of cards?
As a task oriented person, the cards make my heart soar. Each week has 10 cards which correspond to the week’s topic. Each card is different and ranges in activities from reading a scripture to the group, asking a discussion question for the group, answering a thought provoking question or some other task. The cards give the group participants some authority as to how much she shares with others and the level of participation. Having a card in your hand is much like having a table in front of’s a little piece of safety from the invasive feelings some experience when sharing personal information. Cards also give the quiet ones a chance to speak if they wish and prevents trampling from too-well-known Chatty Cathy. 
Allen’s DVD is enjoyable and she is easy to listen to. The settings are different each week and she positions herself as if she is talking directly to you- across the table, in the grocery isle, etc. Each clip is about 8 minutes long. While watching, I became so interested in what she was saying, I lost track of time and always wanted her to keep going. Her sweet spirit shines through and I wish I knew her personally- she would be a deep and valuable friend. 
As for the topics covered in the study, Allen writes/talks about places we get STUCK in our relationship with God- broken, mad, discontent, scared, overwhelmed, sad, unstuck. For some of these topics, I felt it didn’t apply to me BEFORE I listened and read.....but each time, I found that I saw myself in the discussions. Her questions, her personal stories, the scriptures she used.....they all pulled something out in me that resonated so clearly in my own heart. Ouch. 
Because of the way her study is organized, I feel this would fit any level of intimacy a group currently experiences- a newly established group would benefit from the use of the cards and the optional input exercises, while a group that deeply knows one another can press farther with the hard questions and personal stories. 
Thanks Thomas Nelson for a chance to read and review this study in exchange for a free copy! If you want to snag your own copy, click here
You can check out Jennie’s site @ or catch a glimpe of one her videos, right here:

Book Review: The Christian Writer's Market Guide 2012- a keeper

Imagine being a writer and needing to know who to call for editors, publishers, contests and not knowing where to look. Your searches on Google end up with the crafty business person’s eye-catching website and writing classes for the local middle school age homeschool co-op. Frustration oozes from your fingertips. This amazing article hibernates on your hard drive while potential periodical editors hunt for something great to publish. How can the two become one? Is it possible for the perfect match to be found? Unlikely....Possible....Maybe?
*Cue end of drama.*
This heavenly made match can be completed with the help of Jerry Jenkin’s 2012 Christian Writers Market Guide. Jerry B. Jenkin’s Christian Writers Guild compiled information from hundreds of publishers, agents, contests, writers’ groups, conference locations and dates and topics of interests. This book is like the White Pages of the writing world. I bought my first copy in 2009 and used it as a guide to navigate new territory. By flipping through the pages, I was able find useful information for publishing....but I also found encouragement to write. This tool is 552 pages of potential outlets for writing. Even though the publishing world seems to be caving in right now, there are still writers landing jobs! It’s motivating to skim through the Guide and see the areas on interest still available for writers. 
If your amazing article or book is still hibernating on your hard drive and you’d like to wake it, grab yourself a copy of The 2012 Christian Writers Market Guide. It’s somewhat pricey ($24.99), but if you look at it as an investment in your yearly writing career, then it isn’t so bad. 
Thanks Tyndale for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!