2017 Focus

Have you heard about the trend to choose one word for the year rather than make New Year’s resolutions?

I am pretty wordy (I guess you know this if you read my blog, lol) so choosing just one word is difficult for me.

The last few years I’ve had some new year’s resolutions AND tried to pick a phrase or bible verse to focus on for the year.

This year instead of a word/phrase, I’m picking a song.

Magnify” by We Are Messengers

I love the chorus:

“God, be greater than the worries in my life,

Be stronger than the weakness in my mind,

Be louder, let your glory come alive,

Be magnified.”

I’m praying that in 2017 I live so that God is magnified in my life!

What’s your word for 2017?

Make Every Day Like Christmas!!

I’m hoping all of you had a very Merry Christmas!  We had a fabulous day and are now enjoying a relaxing week of vacation with all of us home.

I was thinking today about my favorite Christmas carol… and it was impressed upon me that I should treat every day like Christmas:

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Every day is an opportunity to invite Jesus to come and fix His humble home within me!

Wishing you happy holiday celebrations and a heart that welcomes Christ each day of the coming New Year!

A gift of a different kind.

Last week I had lunch with a woman who I’ve only recently met.  We are serving together in a ministry capacity and I invited her to lunch so that we could get to know one another a bit better.  I enjoyed our time together very much and when we were about to leave, she said to me something like, “Sharing your real life is a true gift.”

I had been open with her about my doubts and fears in taking on a new ministry role.  Let me tell you, to open up and give others a glimpse of what’s really in my heart feels risky.  Vulnerable.  Scary.

But so many times I’ve seen when getting to know other women that they will only be as open with me as I am with them… and so I am willing to take the risk, and I often do.  I’ve seen firsthand how being authentic is the first step to deeper and more meaningful relationships.

I had never thought of it, though, as a gift that I can give to other people.  And so especially at this time of year, I wanted to share this idea you.

Others don’t need to see my pretty, perfectly packaged “exterior” life and my version of what I think they want me to be.  That doesn’t draw people in.  It doesn’t encourage real relationship.  It doesn’t allow people to breathe a deep sigh of relief and say, “me, too”.

Being real is a gift that allows other people to be who they are, too.

Let’s be women who are gift-givers of a different kind this Christmas!

13-year Old Approved Gluten-free Products

We are getting close to our 3-year anniversary of my son being gluten-free.

(You can read our celiac story here).

As I think back over these past few years I realize how far we have come in both our understanding and acceptance of this way of eating. 

And truthfully, we have spent what seems like a ton of money trying things that we ended up throwing away because of poor quality or taste.  There has been a lot of trial and a lot of error in terms of buying stuff my boy will like and will eat.  

I am very thankful that there are so many more certified gluten-free products now available that weren’t even just a few years ago!  Although we live in a small town, we do have stores locally that carry a variety of gluten-free products. 

So I’m sharing the following list- especially for those of you who have kids who are just getting started on a gluten-free diet.  I hope to save you from having to buy lots and lots of different products before you find one you like!  In each category of food shown below, I think we’ve tried at least 3 different brands and this is the one we like best.

(Now I am going to preface my sharing of this list with the following- I know very well that none of these products are all that healthy!  The healthiest gluten-free diet would be full of whole unprocessed foods:  lots of meats, veggies, etc. blah, blah, blah. We get it.  BUT hey, this is real life and everyone (and especially my 13-year old) needs some store-bought products every once in a while whether it’s for convenience or just a treat.  And I’m ok with that!)

Here you go…


And a list with where it’s cheapest locally:

Kashi Gluten Free Cinnamon Waffles (Walmart)

Annie’s Gluten Free Rice Shells and Creamy White Cheddar (Walmart or Target)

Nabisco Good Thins Corn and Sea Salt Crackers, other flavors available (Walmart or Target)

Hungry Jack Complete Gluten Free Funfetti Buttermilk Pancake& Waffle Mix (Walmart)

Annie’s Snickerdoodle Bunny Crackers (Target)

Kinnikinnick Gluten Free S’moreables Graham Style Crackers (Wegmans)

Goldie Girl Cookies Gluten Free Mint Slims (Walmart)

Luna S’mores Bars, other Flavors available (Walmart or Target)

KIND Peanut Butter Breakfast Bars, other flavors available (Walmart or Target)

Snyder’s Gluten Free Pretzel Sticks, other flavors available (Walmart or Target)

Freschetta Gluten Free Frozen Pizza (BJs)

Lance Gluten Free Sandwich Crackers, both Peanut Butter and Cheddar Cheese Flavors (Wegmans)

Live G Free Gluten Free Brownie Mix (Aldi)

Live G Free Gluten Free White Bread (Aldi)
I hope this helps you!  Feel free to share any favorites products that you have!

Advent Calendar 2016

Hey, friends!  Tomorrow is December 1st, can you believe it???

Here are a couple of pics of our advent calendar for this year.  This has become a tradition for us, and although I **thought** maybe my kids were too old for this, they insisted on it!!  We love to celebrate the coming of Christmas in this way.

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(Ha – I guess as the kids get bigger the advent calendar does, too!)

This year, like previous years, there is either a small gift, candy, or and activity to do in each of the bags.  See this post if you want more info on that and some other advent calendar ideas we’ve done in the past!

The white bags I bought at Michael’s and I simply used a chalkboard paint marker to dress them up.  Then I chalked the numbers on them – sooo simple!!  I used a store-bought chalkboard banner and christmas-y mini clothes pins that I bought on clearance last year for the finishing details.  The bags are clipped and/or taped to a twine rope that is hung on the wall with 3M removable hooks.

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The kids can’t wait to get started tomorrow!!

Happy December!

Rest for the Weary

I don’t know about you, but I am so, so weary.

The election debacle, tragic stories in the news, and controversy within the church at large.  Even arguments in my own home.

I have felt alternately riled up, worn down, and again, just weary of it all.  Anyone else?

I don’t have the answers, except that Jesus IS the answer.

Consider these verses (all emphasis mine):

Psalm 119:28

“My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.”

Isaiah 40:29

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”

Matthew 11:28

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

God’s word and His presence refresh, provide strength, and give rest.  I am so grateful.

I’m praying that you are able to sit with God for a few moments today and just rest in Him.

Why “What Impact Am I Having?” is the wrong question.

Yesterday I returned home from MOMcon 2016 in Milwaukee.  Oh, what a sweet, sweet time of communion with Jesus, learning new stuff, and serving moms and MOPS leaders from all over the world.  It is good for the soul!

During our MOPS Volunteer Staff training before MOMcon began, we were challenged to spread kindness by writing notes and leaving them all over where people would find them and be encouraged.  Here’s an example:

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This was so much fun!  Writing them and wondering how the person who found it would react, or finding one yourself and feeling your heart smile.  I think I may just continue doing this randomly around my community!

Anyways, this morning as I was driving my kiddos to school I was wondering to myself what impact all of that had not only on the women who attended MOMcon, but also to the people of Milwaukee.  My thoughts turned more inward-focused, to the question, “what impact am I having in the ministries I’m involved in?”.

And then I quickly realized that’s the wrong question to be asking.

Since I have no power to change lives – only Jesus can do that – why am I asking about it?  As I thought more and more about this, I decided that THESE are the questions I should be asking myself:

Did I seek God?

Did I do what He told me to do?

Did I give it my best?

Because the bottom line is that the results are ALWAYS up to Him.  My job is simply to listen and obey.

I’ve blogged about this before here, but I think of Moses as he approached Pharoah, asking Pharoah to let the Israelites go.  What if Moses over-analyzed after the first, or second, or even eighth time of asking Pharoah, and thought: “well, this whole thing is not having the impact I thought it would so I’m going to give up”?

So often I tend to analyze what I’ve done or been involved in, trying to figure out if what I’ve done has had “results” or has been “successful” (and too often in my mind that is directly linked to, “did it go well or smoothly?”.  But the fact is, God’s ways are above my ways.  He is still working even when things down here don’t look like they are going well.  And truth be told, we don’t even have the capacity to know the full ramifications of the actions we take!

THAT is why we walk by faith and trust in God, not by sight.  As Mandy Arioto (president and CEO of MOPS International) said this weekend at MOMcon, “we live by faith so the world knows that God can be trusted.”

So here’s to walking fully in faith, keeping my eyes on Jesus, and asking myself only if I’ve listened to Him, followed and obeyed Him, and given it my all.