Nourish: A New Cookbook + 2 Recipe Sneak Peeks!

I know you can find SO many recipes online these days, especially with Pinterest, but I still love a beautiful, hard copy cookbook, where I can flip through the pages and put tabs on the recipes I want to try. And I found a gorgeous new cookbook that appeals to both my food-lover and fitness-lover sides!

I received Nourish: The Fit Woman’s Cookbook by Lorna Jane Clarkson to review as part of the SweatPink Ambassador program. Lorna Jane is the founder of Lorna Jane Active Living, a super stylish fitness clothing line. Her approach to health involves an active lifestyle and well-rounded, healthy eating habits.

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Nourish is not just a cookbook. It is a beautiful book with fantastic photos of healthy foods and inspirational moments. It is a book that will help you focus on good eating habits and break several healthy eating myths. It is a book that shows you don’t have to eat bland food to eat healthy food.

I will admit that Lorna Jane uses quite a few ingredients I don’t usually keep around, so not everything in practical for me. But every recipe is well put-together and will keep your active body fueled well with lots of real food. Despite my initial hesitations about the uncommon ingredients, I did find several recipes I was excited to try. And I had to pick a summery one to get started.

The Chocolate, Banana, and Almond Yoghurt Pops were the first to draw me in! 

Nourish 2

I love the combo of chocolate, nut butter, and banana, and I’m always a fan of adding Greek yogurt to up the protein level.

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These pops were relatively easy to make and the maple syrup and banana added just the right amount of natural sweetness. And here is the recipe for you to try yourself!

Nourish 4

Chocolate, Banana, and Almond Yoghurt Pops

Ingredients:

1 cup (280g) unsweetened greek-style yoghurt
2 tablespoons natural almond butter
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons cacao powder
1 small banana (130g), sliced thinly

Directions:

1. Combine half the yoghurt, almond butter and half the maple syrup in a small bowl.
2. Combine the remaining yoghurt with the remaining maple syrup and sifted cacao powder in another small bowl.
3. Using the tip of your fingers, carefully press banana slices on the insides of 6 x ¼-cup (60ml) ice-block moulds. Layer almond mixture and cacao mixture into moulds, alternating which mixture you start with. Push in sticks.
4. Freeze 3 hours or overnight until firm.

prep + cook time 15 minutes (+ freezing)
makes 6
nutritional count per pop protein (4.6g), carbohydrate (13.1g), total fat (6.7g), fibre (0.4g).

There are also several breakfast recipes that sound delicious to me, especially this Quinoa, Mushroom, and Spinach Frittata. I’m not always great about getting enough veggies in my day, but throwing some veggies in with eggs is the perfect way to start the day! Here is the recipe for you:

Quinoa, Mushroom, and Spinach Frittata

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon cold-pressed extra-virgin coconut oil
200g (6½ ounces) swiss brown mushrooms, halved
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup (50g) baby spinach leaves
¾ cup cooked white quinoa
6 organic free-range eggs
¼ cup (60ml) iced filtered water

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F.
2. Heat coconut oil in a small frying pan (top measurement about 20cm/8 inches); cook mushrooms with garlic, stirring, until mushrooms are browned and tender.
3. Add spinach and quinoa to pan; toss gently. Whisk eggs and the water in a medium jug until frothy. Pour the egg mixture into pan; cook frittata over medium-low heat, about 10 minutes or until about halfway set. Place pan in oven; cook frittata about 15 minutes or until browned and set. Garnish with mushrooms and spinach leaves.

prep + cook time 40 minutes
serves 2
nutritional count per serving protein (25.7g), carbohydrate (14.9g), total fat (19.2g), fibre (4.5g).

Doesn’t that sound fabulous?! There are lots more wonderful recipes where these came from – dinners and lunches and desserts and snacks and even juices for all purposes! I also love the Lorna Jane includes information about super foods and her top healthy eating habits.

Are you excited about all of this healthy eating talk like I am? Join the movement with #LiveLoveNOURISH. You have the opportunity to be 1 of 10 winners that will get their own hard copy NOURISH cookbook. The most active participant will receive a cookbook AND a $200 Gift Card to Lorna Jane!

Show us how the NOURISH cookbook works for your lifestyle – in between work, play, sweat sessions, etc! Join the live Twitter Party tomorrow night (7/9) 6pm PDT/9pm EDT. Click here to tweet and enter to win —> Tweet: Join the #LiveLoveNOURISH initiative w/ @LornaJaneActive @FitApproach! Giveaway of: 10 NOURISH Cookbooks + $200 Gift Card to #lornajane!

Don’t forget to check out the Lorna Jane site for lots of awesome fitness clothing and read more about the Nourish cookbook!

 

I received this a digital copy of this cookbook to review plus a $50 gift card in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% my own!

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Summer Reading for the Kids!

I have included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

Summer is all about fresh air and adventure, but for me it has also always been about reading. From the days of my childhood, summer and reading have always gone hand in hand, as I would always {and still do} devour one book after another during my summer vacation. Reading the whole Anne of Green Gables series in one summer is one of my favorite memories and I’ve decided to journey with Anne again this year – I can’t wait!

I love that libraries and schools and other organizations have made summer reading a fun thing for kids with prizes and promotions. My boys are excited about meeting some big reading goals this summer and we’ve made a list of books to get us going! Some of these will be read-alouds and some will be read on their own. Big J is 8 and Little J is almost 6 and they are both very independent readers, but there is lots of fun in reading a book together as a family!

The books we are most thrilled about are the Growly series from Phil and Erin Ulrich…

For centuries the bears of Haven have lived quiet lives, high in the mountains at the edge of the great Precipice. That all changes for a young cub named Growly when he receives a mysterious message. With just his backpack and glider, Growly sets out on a desperate journey to find his grandfather’s long lost friend . . . and to find a way back home. Written for the 8-12 year old reading level, the series is also a captivating read aloud for younger children and will appeal to anyone who appreciates stories of adventure and friendship. 

Growly the adventurous bear made his way into our home with the first book of the series, Begin, and we have loved and followed him on his journey ever since. We are currently devouring the second book in the series, Widewater. The boys beg for more chapters every night! And part of the excitement may be that they know book three is being released TODAY!

Morning 3d White 500

Morning is the final installment of Growly’s tale and we are all on the edge of our seats following his every step! We can’t wait to see how everything turns out for Growly and his friends – I just KNOW it’s going to be amazing! And there is lots of fun to be had during this Growly launch week!

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If your family hasn’t discovered Growly yet, NOW is the time! The first book, Begin, is FREE on Kindle for three days! Once you start the series, you won’t be able to stop!

All books purchased from The Growly Books Website Store this week {June 10-18} will be signed by the authors with the inscription personalized with the name of your choice! AND there are fun freebies over at the Growly site to celebrate all week!

Seriously, my boys and I agree that the Growly books are some of our very favorite we have ever read. They appeal to younger kids as a read-aloud and to older kids {8-12} for their own independent reading pleasure. The whole family will love these adventures! Let me know if you read them and what your kids think!

Here’s what else is on tap for summer reading for the kids…

Read-Alouds

The Growly Series by Phil and Erin Ulrich

Little Pilgrim’s Progress by Helen L. Taylor

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Gladys Aylward: The Adventure of a Lifetime by Janet Benge

Independent Reading

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and other Roald Dahl books {Big J}

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster {Big J}

Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne {Little J}

Through My Eyes: A Quarterback’s Journey by Tim Tebow {at Big J’s request!}

 

What books are your kids reading this summer?

 

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Moms’ Night Out: Movie + Book!

I have included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

The first time I watched Moms’ Night Out, I was sitting on my bed with a special preview screening playing on my iPad. The kids were in the bed, The Hubby was on call, and it was just me and a movie I found to be telling MY story. I laughed so loud I woke our oldest son up and I cried tons of tears as the story unfolded and reminded me of the important things in life.

The weird thing is I also took notes. Yep. I watched the movie with a pen and paper because I kept hearing quotes I loved and I didn’t want to forget them! This was all before I know Moms’ Night Out was being made in to a book, too! And not just any book – a novelization of the movie written by my author friend, Tricia Goyer!

MNO Book

I have the book in hands now and I’m thankful because now I can underline those quotes and keep them close by at all times! There are many more reasons to love having Moms’ Night Out in book form, but if you don’t know the story yet, let’s start there…

Moms’ Night Out is a novelization of the hilarious family comedy that celebrates real family life—where everything can go wrong and still turn out all right.

All Allyson and her friends want is a peaceful, grown-up evening of dinner and conversation . . . a long-needed moms’ night out. But in order to enjoy high heels, adult conversation and food not served in a bag, they need their husbands to watch the kids for a few hours-what could go wrong?

Chronicling one night out gone awry, three harried moms, their husbands, a sister-in-law with a misplaced baby, a tattoo parlor owner, a motorcycle gang, and a bewildered cabbie all learn to embrace the beautiful mess called parenting. This book spotlights the unfulfilled expectations and serial self-doubts many moms feel . . . then reassures us that the key is raising kids in a loving home. Mom’s Night Out is an endearing, true-to-life comedy.
I went to see Moms’ Night Out a second time with my mom and sister on Mother’s Day. I think I liked it even more and I left the theater anxious for it to come out on DVD. Instead of waiting for that day, I’ve really enjoyed following the story on a page and replaying it that way! There is just something about a book that can bring new levels of meaning to certain story lines, and that’s just what Tricia did in this novelization. The details, the descriptions, the characters’ thoughts – all so beautifully written!
So about those favorite lines that showed up in both the movie AND book?
“I am like the Bruce Banner of stay-at-home moms. He doesn’t want to turn into the Hulk. It just happens. One minute I’m a normal person. The next minute the large, green monster grows inside me, bursting out in every direction. I grow and transform into something unrecognizable. scary even.”
Any moms out there relate with THAT one? I’m not proud of it, but I do and I know it was good for me to see it expressed by someone else.
“I’m trying to make myself get up – to clean – but nothing’s happening. I’m stress paralyzed.”
I’ve been saying this is a thing for years!
And my favorite from the whole thing…
“I doubt the Good Lord made a mistake giving your kiddos the mama He did. So just be…you. He’ll take care of the rest.”
Isn’t that just exactly what every single mom needs to hear at least once in her life? This is why Moms’ Night Out is a home run in my book – it gives moms a chance to see they are not alone in their sometimes crazy thoughts, it makes us laugh a LOT, and it delivers the message that we are right where we are supposed to be and we are enough because of Him.
Tricia’s novelization of the movie is such fun because it also dives into the thoughts of each character that can’t be portrayed fully on screen . This is where the book catches me, telling the story I already loved, but filling in with even more depth and heart. If you loved the movie, make sure you grab Moms’ Night Out by Tricia Goyer to experience it with a fresh voice!
And there is one more gem to go along with Moms’ Night Out: a devotional by Christian comedian Kerri Pomarolli called Moms’ Night Out and Other Things I Miss. Check out this trailer for it…

 

Tricia and Kerri have teamed up for the “No More Frumpy Mommy” challenge.

Moms Night Out Tricia Goyer Kerri Pomarolli

Motherhood can sometimes seem like survival of the fittest. Every day brings its own troubles, and by the end of the day, you’re spent. Between school, soccer practice, cleaning, laundry, cooking dinner, putting away dishes, and keeping your kids from going at each others’ throats, the last thing on your mind is getting away for an evening. If that’s you, you’re invited to take part in Tricia and Kerri’s No More Frumpy Mommy challenge.
 
Tricia and Kerri will choose 10 winners to receive a Fandango gift card to see Moms’ Night Out, as well as copies of Moms’ Night Out (the book) and Moms’ Night Out and Other Things I Miss. One grand-prize winner will receive $200 to put toward her own moms’ night out or her own moms’ night out “ride” (getting her car detailed and cleaned).
 

Have you seen Moms’ Night Out? Read the book? What were your favorite parts?

I received these books to review. I was not compensated in any way for this post and all opinions are 100% my own.
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Rhinestone Jesus + The American Dream

I have included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

I’ve been thinking about the American Dream a lot in the last year, even before I started reading Rhinestone Jesus by Kristen Welch. In October, I did a whole series about our need to “have it all” and my rebellion against that idea. I have this uncomfortable feeling of Holy Spirit change going on inside of me that I’m not entirely sure what to do with, but I know it has do with a different kind of American Dream.

I don’t want us to make more money so we can have more stuff. I’m in the {really long} process of trying to get rid of stuff. I want to be able to GIVE more. My American Dream for our family is to be givers and have the means to give generously as led. To love others well with our time and resources. Like Bob Goff. Like the Welch family.

Even though I’ve only met Kristen once and we’re not neighbors or close friends, I feel like I’ve watched God grow and move in her family for years now. And there’s no way to see what He is doing with them and NOT be inspired to live a different kind of existence. Kristen’s blog, We Are THAT Family, has always been full of family and fun, but most importantly, it chronicles an honest faith and an incredible journey that knit their hearts with Kenya. I think I’ve mentioned Mercy House Kenya just a few times around here…

Now Kristen has released a book and it’s exactly what I’d expect from her writing, but also so much more. Rhinestone Jesus is about stepping out from safe faith. It’s about saying yes to God in the middle of our messes. It’s about knowing there is no such thing as a “just a mom” and God does big things with the little yes of a mom or dad or kid or anybody.

I’ve been trying to write this post about this book for weeks. It’s hard to put into words the MANY ways it impacted me, especially in one blog post, but here were my major takeaways:

Being an intentional mom IS a big yes to God.

The Kingdom of God is revealed in sacrifice and service in the small places, especially to our children.

Kristen tells her story about saying yes to God’s calling to do something about the poverty she saw in Kenya, but she also makes it clear that God isn’t calling all of us to do what she did. He is calling us to say yes to whatever He asks of us right now. And being an intentional, loving, Christ-following, servant’s heart mom is what He’s calling to all of us mamas, right?! Some people may read this book and say it’s about Mercy House Kenya, but to me it is about a family living in obedience to God because Mom + Dad led the way. I want to say YES to that.

The most significant thing I’ve done for Jesus is to love and serve my family. Motherhood becomes me, and God uses it daily to refine me and draw me closer to Him.

I really can do that thing God is calling me to do.

When we live for Him one yes at a time, He rewrites our story.

I appreciate immensely Kristen’s honesty in Rhinestone Jesus because it shows all the weaknesses she thought would get in the way of her fulfilling God’s call on her life. And it shows just how God filled those in with His strength. He doesn’t ask us to do big things because He wants us to fail, but because He wants us to trust Him and let Him carry us through for His glory.

Deep down I knew God was calling us to something radical. And even though radical terrified me, I was more afraid of not following God.

Family matters.

If Satan can convince us that we aren’t good enough as a family to leave a positive imprint on the world, then he wins. We cant let that happen.

I can’t get enough of the stories and posts Kristen shares about raising a family to love, honor, and respect one another, to do what Jesus asks not matter what our culture says, and to live in a generous way, leaving behind the entitlement that has overwhelmed all of us. The heart of this all is to make your family a priority, to find a mission you can all get behind, and to LIVE IT together.

I can try to create an amazing career or impact the world with a global nonprofit, but if I end up with a family who is ignored or resentful of my efforts, what have I gained? More than anything, I want to work alongside my husband and children because it’s in serving together that we are all changed.

And it all boils down to this…

Rhinestone Jesus Quote

 

Wherever you are on the dreaming scale – whether you’re chasing that God-sized dream, sitting on the couch thinking you’ll never be able to follow the dream He has for you, or you have no idea what that dream is – read Rhinestone Jesus. Be inspired to say yes in the middle of your mess to whatever He asks.

Do you have a “yes” you need to say to God right now, in the middle of your mess?

 

I received this book to review. I was not compensated in any way for this post and all opinions are 100% my own!

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Spiritual Misfit

I have included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

I’ve got a lot of love for all of my lovely book-writing friends right now, but I have to admit – when one of those friends is a fellow Nebraskan and makes all sorts of references I totally get from having lived in the same town, the book is a little extra special.

Don’t worry if you’re not a cool Nebraskan like Michelle DeRusha and I, you will still love every single page of Spiritual Misfit, Michelle’s memoir of her lack of faith and the experiences that changed that around.

Spiritual Misfit

Words like memoir and faith make Spiritual Misfit seem like a heavy, serious book, but I assure you it is quite the opposite. Just ask The Hubby how many times I’ve laughed out loud or until I cried as I was reading this in bed each night. Michelle is hilarious and a fabulous, honest storyteller. I really didn’t want this book and her stories to end.

Even though I have believed in God my whole life, I connected with Michelle’s experiences on many different levels. First of all, we’ve both got the boy mom thing going on. The wrestling and fascination with creepy crawlies and the desire to pass on legacy of faith to my boys – Michelle portrays motherhood in such an unapologetic, refreshing way. Let’s face it. Motherhood makes us face so many of our deepest, darkest fears and shortcomings, but it also refines us. I loved reading the part motherhood played in Michelle’s walk towards faith. And the story about Cheez-Its – you just have to read it. We’ve all been there. {I heard Michelle tell this story in person at Refresh My Heart – tears of laughter streaming down my face.}

Another way I really related with Spiritual Misfit was in the missing out on relationship with Jesus until I was older. For whatever reason, I didn’t find my personal relationship with Jesus until I was 19 years old. When I finally made this faith connection, I felt a newfound openness in my prayers, but also some awkwardness. Praying out loud in groups was unfamiliar and I wanted to say the “right words.” Michelle’s honest thoughts on her experiences in bible studies and small groups were so refreshing – not knowing what to pray and how to be “real” as a new believer in a group of veterans. I often still feel this sense of discomfort when I keep my focus on what others in a group might think of my spirituality, not on what God thinks of me. Just like Michelle, just like all of us, I’m a work in progress.

Whether you’ve been a Christian all your life or you’re just starting to wonder if Jesus is for you, Spiritual Misfit is a book that will make you realize none of us “arrive” at a perfect faith – we’re all misfits on a journey. It’s all about always moving closer to Him in all things. I hope you’ll pick up Michelle’s fabulous book for a good laugh, a good cry, and a fabulous read.

 

I received a copy of Spiritual Misfit to review. I was not compensated in any way for this post, and all opinions are 100% my own.

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The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle Sale!

How does $698 worth of amazing ebooks on the topics of motherhood, homemaking, faith, marriage, homeschool, health + wellness, financial stewardship, pregnancy, holidays, self-care, working from home, and more for just $29.97 sound to you?!

And how about $200 worth of bonus products, memberships, and store credits FREE in addition to those 78 ebooks for just $29.97?

You are going to LOVE the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle Sale that starts today and you only have SIX DAYS to snag this fabulous deal!

The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle offers ebooks on some of my favorite topics from some of my very favorite authors!  Some of my favorites include:

  • The Warrior Weekend by Pat Schwenk: This fabulous ebook is a weekend retreat guide for fathers teaching their sons how to be Godly men. Included in the guide are stories, activities, and applications for real life – a great bonding experience for dads and their boys!
  • The Weekly Homeschool Planner by Jolanthe Erb AND The Simple Homeschool Planner by Tsh Oxenreider: I’ve used elements of both of these planners and think at least one of them will be exactly what you are looking for to plan your homeschool days, weeks, months, and the whole year!
  • 21 Days to a More Discipline Life by Crystal Paine: I LOVED going through this 21-day plan for leading a more disciplined life. Crystal makes the steps very doable but they also stretched me to think beyond my current haphazard plan towards a more organized, productive life!
  • Real Food on a Real Budget by Stephanie Langford: We are a household of always-hungry boys {and parents} trying to eat well and stay on budget, which can be hard with the cost of healthy food! Stephanie has great tips and suggestions for making healthy eating more affordable for any family!
  • Write Through the Bible by Trisha Gilkerson: The Gilkersons have a wonderful series of Write Through the Bible printables to help your children practice handwriting AND learn Scripture at the same time.
  • 76 Free Things to Do With Kids: A Real Mom’s Guide by Shannon Brown: Every mom loves free activities to do with their kids! This is a great resource to have going into the summer months!
  • Discipleship & Discipline: Practical Parenting Help for the Desperate Mom {ecourse} by Sally Clarkson and Sarah Mae: This course alone is worth the $29.97. The wisdom and grace these women share for moms is so inspiring and encouraging. Every mom should participate in this ecourse.


So how do you get these AMAZING books plus many, many more?!

First of all, this bundle is only available for SIX DAYS: 8am EST Wednesday, April 23 until midnight EST Monday, April 28. After those six days, you will not be able to purchase this particular bundle ever again!

The bundle is available in two formats: PDF only for $29.97 and PDF + Kindle for $39.97. To learn more about which bundle would be better for you and any other questions you might have, please visit the FAQ page!

Special deal just for Home with the Boys readers!

TODAY ONLY {4/23/14}, if you share this post about the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle on social media, you are entered in a giveaway for a free bundle – either to keep for yourself or give to a friend! To enter, just use the Rafflecopter below! Winner will be announced + emailed Thursday morning so everyone else will have time to purchase! If you decide to purchase today AND enter, I will refund the price of your bundle if you win OR you can give the free bundle to a friend!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I hope you love this bundle as much as I do! Happy reading!

 

  • For any questions regarding the bundle, including how to download and read your ebooks, check this FAQ page.
  • For all of the fine print on this bundle, please visit here.
  • For more about the wonderful couples who put together these fun bundles, visit here!
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Found: An Interview with Micha Boyett {Part 2}

Here is part two of my fascinating interview with Micha Boyett, author of Found: A Story of Questions, Grace, and Everyday Prayer, releasing next week!

Before you read below, check out my thoughts on this fabulous book and part one of our interview, including more about how Micha discovered the Benedictine way.

foundcoverE: You are the mother to TWO boys now. How has your journey of prayer + motherhood continued or changed with a second child in the house?

Micha: Having a second kid magnified the intensity of motherhood for me: More love. More stress. More anxiety. More insecurity.

I have a friend who says she never really felt like a grown up until she had her second baby. I totally get that. Having one child is hard, but you can still feel capable of giving yourself fully to your child. There’s this moment after your second child is born when both are crying and you have to choose which one you will comfort. And you realize this is a metaphor for life from now on!

I have had to learn that I am not enough for my kids. And I’ve had to learn to trust God with my own inabilities as a mom. I cannot hold both my children at the same time. And the older they get, the more I realize that I cannot always rescue them. I have to trust that God’s grace fills in the gaps.

That sort of growing up has reverberated out into my prayer life. More is demanded of me. Therefore, I have to be more protective of the kind of mom I’m going to be for my kids. The changes have really been pretty simple. I go to bed earlier now. I expect less of myself. I allow myself to get the sleep I need. And then I wake up really early so I can pray. Waking up early to pray is much easier when you’re not up all hours of the night trying to be a super hero.

And when I don’t wake up early and I don’t spend time in prayer, I actually believe that God continues to love me, that God is still here with me, that I’m still being remade, even though I didn’t live up to some spiritual ideal. That’s the biggest change that has happened for me. I learned to extend God’s grace to myself and, through that, to my kids.

 

E: Do you include your husband or children in the Benedictine prayers?

Micha: The Benedictine monks and nuns mostly emphasize the Psalms during their daily prayers. (Modern-day monks usually pray through the entire book of Psalms every two weeks.) They also practice a kind of prayer called Lectio Divina, in which you read through scripture in a slower, less intellectual, more heart-driven way. There are a couple of scenes in the book where I pray using Lectio Divina.

I still practice Lectio Divina. I’ve just begun meeting with a group of friends (other moms) once a month for Lectio. And I still use the Psalms in my prayer life, though I don’t have a specific schedule of Psalms like I did in my story.

I love to emphasize the Psalms with my kids, especially my oldest, who really feels things deeply the way I do. I discovered a beautiful children’s book of Psalms—Psalms for Young Children. It emphasizes the whole gamut of emotions in the Psalms in a tender, gentle way that my kids really get. So we read through them when they’re feeling worried or sad.

But more than how I include my husband or my kids in the way I pray, I think the bigger change St. Benedict’s Rule has made in my life will be through my character, my sense of peace. I’m much more at ease with the “ordinariness” of this season of my life. I’m at peace with how I use my time and how God loves me. And I think my boys and my husband experience that on a daily basis. I’m a different mom than I was three years ago, because the Benedictines helped me learn to believe that God’s is finding me, restoring me, here, right now. That has really changed everything.

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E: In the book, you say, “My life has value because God has touched every mundane moment with the glow of holiness.” How do you remember to find that holiness in the mundane?

Micha: Some days I remember to look for it and some days I don’t. In the book I talk about “paying attention” and I really believe that gratitude is the beginning and ending of that process of noticing God in my ordinary life. On the days when I feel like a failure as a mom, or a friend, or a follower of Jesus, I’m learning to start back in the most basic place: gratitude. Even if I don’t know how to pray, I know how to thank God for my three-year-old’s laugh or for pieces of avocado on my slice of toast. And as soon as begin attributing the good in my life to God, I begin to see the holiness of my life again.

You can find links to buy Found and the other books recommended here. And join us tomorrow for part two of my interview with Micha!

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photo credit: Mark Kuroda Photography

Micha (pronounced “MY-cah”) Boyett is a writer, blogger, and sometimes poet.  A former youth minister, she’s passionate about monasticism and ancient Christian spiritual practices and how they inform the contemporary life of faith. Her first book Found: A Story Questions, Grace, and Everyday Prayer is available now on Amazon and will be in stores April 1. Boyett and her husband live in San Francisco with their two boys. Find her on TwitterFacebook, and at michaboyett.com

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Found: An Interview with Micha Boyett {Part 1}

I would love to have you join me at Thrive Moms today to read more about the questions I’m asking God and myself about motherhood!

*****

I’ve been devouring books lately because there are SO. MANY. GOOD. ONES. coming out this spring and I’ve had the privilege of reading several advance copies. I honestly can’t get enough reading time and when I do, I just want to read and read and read these gems.

One of the first of this spring delivery of words I read was Found: A Story of Questions, Grace, and Everyday Prayer by Micha Boyett. I didn’t know of Micha before I stumbled upon her book in the faith section of a review site. It was a total God-thing I found her there because her words spoke straight to me heart.

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Found is a story of purpose and motherhood and chaos and quiet and so much questioning with which I could absolutely relate. What happens to our faith when we’re doing something different than we ever thought was in the plan? How do we approach the feelings of insignificance in our current role? Where do we find the time and space for Him when little ones are always in our hands and at our feet?

This is truly a beautiful book so many will identify with because seldom does life go exactly as we had planned from day one. And the busyness of life threatens are quiet, intimate relationship with our Savior. But Micha offers hope in her journal-like memoir of discovering the time for all things, inspired by the Benedictine way of life and faith.

I had SO many things I wanted to ask Micha after finishing Found and she graciously agreed to an interview. I couldn’t NOT share all the beauty in her answers, so I’m dividing it into two parts. Here is part one…

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photo credit: Mark Kuroda Photography

E: What initially led you to research the ways of Benedict?

Micha: I came into motherhood during a season in my life when I felt pretty frantic about my own spirituality. I was trying to be enough for God, trying to make my life count. And being ordinary seemed the furthest thing from what God would want from me. So I was desperately striving to care for my kid AND do the “big” stuff, the hard spiritual work of ministry.

I was in youth ministry then and felt constantly torn, just like most working moms, between my passion for my work and my students and the demand of my child. And I feared that if I left ministry, I was leaving the thing that made my life valuable.

So much of it came down to a skewed perspective of God. I felt like if I could just figure out how to be more organized, how to be on time, how fit more in to my schedule, then I could finally pray enough, be enough, to feel valuable.

I came to Benedictine spirituality through one quote in Kathleen Norris’ book, The Cloister Walk. In her preface, she mentions that the Benedictines have always believed “there is enough time in each day for work and study and rest and play.” As a mom, I thought maybe I’d found the Holy Grail. Maybe there was a way to have enough time in the day to be everything I needed to be!

The story of my book, though, is the reality that “enough time” is not a five-step plan, some secret sauce that nobody else has figured out. It’s a spiritual condition of believing that there is enough time because God is enough, because God is making me enough.

 

E: What is your favorite prayer of the day in the Benedictine tradition? Favorite psalm to pray?

Micha: I talk about this verse in the book, but it’s become natural for me to pray the psalm that Benedictines pray each morning when they wake up. “Oh Lord, open my lips and my mouth will declare your praise” (Psalm 51:15).

I love praying that before I open my lips. Before I’m barking orders at my kids to get dressed for school. Before I’m nagging my husband to take care of something for the house, I want to order my heart and my lips into one straight line. Will my mouth declare God’s praise? Will my hands? Will the words I write and the way I change that diaper and the grace I offer my Kindergartener when he refuses to focus on his homework?

What will happen when I open my lips today? Who will I belong to? I want to belong to Jesus. I want to belong to the God who rescues me again and again. I want to recognize God finding me, right now, today. Here.

 

E: What books do you recommend on the topic of prayer and Benedict? {This is for me, too – I’m very interested!}

I mention a lot of books in Found. But my favorite Benedictine author is Esther de Waal. Her books Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict and Living With Contradiction: An Introduction to Benedictine Spirituality just clicked with me. Also, The Benedictine Handbook has been important. It includes the Rule of St. Benedict and some reflections from monks on his teachings. It also includes a prayer guide, which I like to go back to from time to time. Also, Macrina Wiederkehr (a Benedictine nun) has a beautiful book called Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully Through the Hours of the Day, which works more as a devotional tool, taking you through the daily hours of prayer and offering scripture or poems or reflections to meditate on during those specific moments of prayer.

You can find links to buy Found and the other books recommended here. And join us tomorrow for part two of my interview with Micha!

 

Micha (pronounced “MY-cah”) Boyett is a writer, blogger, and sometimes poet.  A former youth minister, she’s passionate about monasticism and ancient Christian spiritual practices and how they inform the contemporary life of faith. Her first book Found: A Story Questions, Grace, and Everyday Prayer is available now on Amazon and will be in stores April 1. Boyett and her husband live in San Francisco with their two boys. Find her on TwitterFacebook, and at michaboyett.com

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Surprised by Motherhood

My dear Lisa-Jo wrote a book. Surprised by Motherhood. It is her journey of never wanting to be a mom.  Of losing her own mom. Of South Africa and the Ukraine and the United States. Of becoming a mom. And of being surprised by all things motherhood, especially the wonder of it all.

I was surprised by motherhood, as well, but in a very different way.

I always wanted to be a mother. As a child, I enjoyed holding babies and taking care of the younger kids. My sister and I even fought over who got to hold the newest baby cousin and for how long. I started babysitting at an early age, partially because of the money, but also because it was fun for me. Even in high school, I was voted “would make the best mom” in my senior class. And I loved that.

I worked at a daycare. I taught elementary school for five years. I really thought I had motherhood all figured out and was ready to tackle it head on. When Big J was born, motherhood felt exhausting, but still pretty natural. He got older, we added siblings for him, and then I got my surprise.

“It was like discovering a superpower – becoming a mom for the first time. It has led me to believe that motherhood should come with a superhero cape along with the free diaper bag and samples you get when the hospital sends you, otherwise defenseless, home.”

Motherhood is hard. Way harder than I ever imagined. And I don’t think it is all the kids’ fault. I know it’s not. I think I was surprised so much by motherhood because it made me confront just how selfish I am and how much I’ve always wanted to be in control. Yep, motherhood will mess with all those things in a big way.

“I didn’t know I was selfish until I had kids. I didn’t know I was angry and quick to keep a list of wrongs done to me, of slight slights, of everything I felt entitled to and was happy to demand.”

But motherhood is also hard because I love these sons of mine more than I knew was possible. I want so much for them. I feel like I should never stop praying for them. All the emotions I feel towards my children and magnified because of the great love I feel for them. My boys can be the cause for great joy, great sorrow, great frustration…all in the same day. Lisa-Jo says, “Sometimes you don’t realize you have a temper until you have kids.” And, “Nothing can hurt as much as the fears we carry for our children.” This could not be more true.

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If I’m being real honest here, I have always been terrible at follow-through, especially with long-term tasks. Motherhood is definitely long-term and NOT following through is not an option for me, so I am being stretched and grown in unimaginable ways. Some days the stretching hurts, but when I pause long enough to see God at work, I feel and see so much more clearly…

“With this boy wrapped in my arms, this flesh and blood and bone that I had grown in my womb, clinging to me, I understood what the God parent feels for me. To die for this love – yes, it made sense.”

These days I’m being surprised by finding new ways to enjoy motherhood. Much of this comes from knowing that no mom thinks her job is easy. There is great relief in that knowledge.

It also comes from learning more about the amazing boys God has given us and the ways He in which He has connected us. I feel like a student all over again. And I’m making my strengths work for me – being silly and dancing more, communicating more effectively with the boys, finding ways to be positive during the rough days.

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If you were sitting near me when I started reading this beautiful, transparent memoir of motherhood, you would have been passing me Kleenex after Kleenex as I related so closely with Lisa-Jo’s words, despite our very different stories.

And I’m needing a Kleenex now as I write this and realize just how I needed to hear her real, nitty-gritty, wonder-filled motherhood story. How every mom needs to read the ups and downs of someone else’s motherhood story to realize just how brave and not alone they are. Lisa-Jo gets it. She gets me. She gets us, moms.

Congrats, Lisa-Jo. Your newest baby is just gorgeous.

Surprised by Motherhood is available TODAY! Yes, TODAY! Order now!

 

*I received a copy of this book to review. I was not compensated in any way for this post, and all opinions are 100% my own!

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That Pesky Love Idol

I mentioned Jennifer Dukes Lee’s Love Idol back at the beginning of Lent. I had just started reading it and even the first few pages spoke to something I’ve struggled with, well, for all time. I like to be liked. I like to be heard. I wouldn’t always call myself a people-pleaser, but the applause and approval of other humans often edges out the approval of the only One who matters.

“I knew what the Bible said about me, but I measured my worth by other barometers – the mirror, report cards, and my performance among peers – even if it broke well-established moral rules.”

Reading Love Idol has been like therapy for me. With each chapter, I identify with another piece of Jennifer’s story – the striving for good grades, the saying “yes” so you don’t disappoint someone, being wrapped up in what others will think and riding the roller-coaster of their reactions.

“We ache to live our Christ identity more fully, instead of living a life yielded to our approval ratings. It is not a popularity contest. It is not a materialistic chase for medals, money, or Twitter @mentions.”

Unfortunately, the approval-seeking has been my default for so long. It’s a pesky love idol to shake. Pesky, but not impossible.

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As part of my Lenten journey this year, I gave up looking at my blog statistics. I did a lot more writing from the heart, not for numbers or comments. It felt a little bold and scary, but also felt like it was less about me.

“God’s Word compels us to choose the Holy Trinity, not the self-centric trio of Me, Myself, and I.”

Can I tell you what I love about Jennifer’s message so much?

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It isn’t about denying any praise or compliments that come your way. It’s Jesus and our hearts. It’s about refocusing. And all of this leads to freedom. I need that daily. 

“When you and I no longer rely on praise or approval for our performance, we find new freedom: We can enjoy affirmation without craving it.”

The whole idea of being pre-approved? I’ve plastered those genius little signs on my computer, my bathroom wall, my planner. I can’t write anything that will make Jesus love me more or less. My appearance on any given day has no weight in His eyes. There is no planning or scheduling or working my way into a better place in heaven. I am and always have been pre-approved by Him.

“I yearn for us all to know the deep, deep love of Jesus – that it would be enough, that it always has been enough, and that it’s a love that can never be over matched by anything or anyone in this world.”

Love Idol is marked with many underlined passages and stars in the margins. It bears the soul of its writer in such a way that I felt as though we were confessing and story-sharing over coffee. It spurs me on in my desire to be less about me and ALL about Him. It will be in my nightstand for a long time as I continue to let go of my pesky love idol and hold tight to the love of my Savior.

If you haven’t yet, make sure you join the Love Idol Movement on Facebook! So inspiring!

 

I received a copy of this book to review from the publisher. I was not compensated in any way for this post and all opinions are 100% my own! All quotes are from the book!

 

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