It’s Time for Me to Be the Good

I received this shirt to review from Cents of Style. This post contains affiliate links.

As my son was turning eleven years old and getting ready to graduate from elementary school this spring, I wrote a little letter to him about being the good this world needs right now. I’ve seen him shine in loving his friends well, taking care of his younger cousins, and being bold about his values and love for Jesus.

This week, he hosted a lemonade stand with his brothers to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in honor of his friend who has Type 1 Diabetes.

In two hours, they raised almost $115! It also meant a lot to Big J’s friend and his family. Seeing him think of this “be the good” idea, put it into action, and have great results was rewarding for all of us!

Now, it’s my turn.


I have lots of “be the good” ideas, but they often just stay ideas in the busyness of life. I am a dreamer, but I want to me more of a doer when it comes to blessing others.

This Bible passage came to mind as I was thinking on what “be the good” means to me:

“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” -James 2:14-17

We have to make time for the things that are important to us in life. Living out my faith is important to me. Making my family and friends smile, helping in my community, and loving our neighbors well are important to me, so it’s time to make time for more of that!

You know I like to wear my reminders to myself, so this “Be The Good” tee from Cents of Style is perfect for my passion right now. Our world needs more helping hands, more smiles, more encouraging words – maybe this shirt will inspire someone else to also “be the good!”

All “Be the Good” items from Cents of Style are 40% off with the code BEGOOD17 this weekend! The bags are under $9, the hat + bracelets under $15, and necklace + tees under $17! Shipping is free, too! For your reference, the t-shirts run very true to size and I wear a small in both!

How do you like to “be the good” in your home, neighborhood, and community? Let’s inspire one another today!

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“Love in a Box” + Embrace Grace

I received this product from Embrace Grace in exchange for a review. This post is part of the FrontGate Blogger Network.

In a time where there is lots of division, arguing, name-calling, and finger-pointing, I am always looking for things that are lovely and wonderful to share with you! Today, I want to introduce you to Embrace Grace.

Embrace Grace is a non-profit organization working to provide support in practical, emotional, and spiritual ways for young women who are experiencing unintended pregnancies. They partner with churches to train and equip them to be a safe, non-judgmental place these young moms and their families. It is a beautiful thing to see this kind of loving support system being spread throughout churches and Embrace Grace is on the front lines!

I just love their “why” statement:

Most churches advocate life and discourage women from getting abortions, but once a brave and courageous girl chooses life, a lot of times the church then steps away and has nothing to offer her for support at that point. She is then left with nine months of being scared, worried and feeling alone. She journeys into a season of being a single mom without direction and guidance from a spiritual family. This is where the Body of Christ can minister to women who are desperately searching for a Savior. This is where we can speak into their lives and hearts that will have an impact for generations to come!

This beautiful necklace and journal really represent Embrace Grace well – they are pro-love for these young moms and want them to know they can make brave, strong choices because they are not alone!

Embrace Grace provides curriculum, resources, and training for churches, but they also have another cool initiative involving pregnancy centers.

“Love in a Box” is a box of hope-filled resources distributed to pregnancy centers to be passed along to a young, single woman with a positive pregnancy test. Each box includes a Fearless Journal and pen, a Bump in Life book, a baby onesie, testimonial letters from both girls that chose adoption and girls that chose to parent, an invitation to join an Embrace Grace group, and a Brave Girl letter that can be written by YOU!

I love what Embrace Grace is doing and I love how you and I can get involved with this wonderful ministry! Here are a few ideas:

  1. Start an Embrace Grace at your local church so young women with unplanned pregnancies have a support group.
  2. Partner with the Embrace Grace national organization through prayer and support!
  3. Download and print the brave girl letter and mail to the following address to be placed inside a Love in a Box: Embrace Grace, Inc., Attn: Love in a Box, 700 W. Bedford Euless Rd., Ste. G, Hurst, TX 76053

I am so thrilled to know of this kind of love and hope being spread around in the name of Christ. It is a chance for us to not just say we are pro-life, but to be the hands and feet of Jesus in supporting those lives!

One more thing: you can enter to win your very own journal and necklace from Embrace Grace! Just go to the giveaway page for your chance to win! Good luck!

Have you heard of Embrace Grace? Which resource in the box do you think is the most valuable for a young woman receiving it?

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Friendships and Books and New Things!

This post contains affiliate links.

Wow. That was a LONG blogging hiatus! I’ve missed this space!

If you follow me on any social media (@homewiththeboys everywhere), you know that we were in the process of building a house this fall. We just moved into the new house on December 30th, so life is starting to finally settle back into a normal rhythm. It feels SO good. I’ll be doing a couple house tours once all of our furniture is here, but for now, I have other fun news!

I am in a book! Yes, a real book! A book that will be on bookstore shelves and on Amazon has my words in it!

I was incredibly honored to be asked to write a chapter in the very first book published by (in)courage, which is all about one of my favorite topics – friendship.

Craving Connection: 30 Challenges for Real-Life Engagement features the writing of 29 of my favorite internet (and real life) friends. Reading their stories of community has given me so much inspiration and encouragement – I can’t wait for you to read it!

This feels like a different take on women and friendship for me because it features many voices – introverts, extroverts, mothers, wives, single women, women in ministry, working women, women who have been hurt by other women, and women who find their true purpose in friendships with other women. And every single one of them loves the Lord, our true foundation for all meaningful relationships. I sincerely believe every woman can connect with at least one of the heartfelt chapters in this book and benefit from the accompanying challenges.

 

My chapter is based around the story of Ruth and Naomi and my own long-term friendship with my friend, Janna. When you’ve been friends since second grade and made it through all the ups and downs of middle school, girl drama, going off to college, and living in different places for the past 18 years, you know you have something special. Our friendship did not always involve our faith, but it has grown richer and more meaningful than I could have ever imagined because we now share a love for Jesus. It was pure joy to share our story of loyalty and growth. I pray that this chapter encourages you to be the loyal friend you’ve always wanted.

I’m writing about this lovely book because Craving Connection releases today! Yes, you can buy it today! I have the actual physical book in my hands and it’s just wonderful. I know you and your friends will be blessed by it, so grab your copy today! Make sure you’re also following along with (in)courage because they have SO many fun things planned to go along with this book birthday!

Here’s a challenge for today: think of a friend who has truly blessed you. What about her has been the biggest blessing to you – their humor, honesty, loyalty, something else? Leave a comment here with your answer and then tell that friend what you appreciate about her! YOU will be a big blessing to HER with your gratitutde!

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Thankful, Grateful, Blessed, and a FREE Tee!

I received this shirt to review. I was not compensated in any other way and all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.

Thankful. Grateful. Blessed.

Do you know what these words make me feel?

These three words make me feel cozy. Warm and fuzzy.

Maybe it’s because we talk a lot in the fall about thankful, but I think it goes deeper than that.

Gratitude does not come naturally to us. It is something we must practice frequently in order to make it a more regular part of our lives. I became more fully aware of just how little I was giving thanks for the things around me when I first encountered the writings of Ann Voskamp. Her simple, but powerful idea of counting the gifts in our days changed everything.

Here is what I found: when I am deliberately looking for the gifts in my life AND giving thanks for them, I can’t help but be filled with joy. I feel warm and cozy, wrapped in the knowledge that God’s love is everywhere in my life, present in sunrise and dishes dirtied by my children and the kiss from my husband as he gets home from work.

When I’m giving thanks, I am lighter, not weighed down by the stress, but lifted by gratitude. This changes not only how I feel, but how I act:

“A life contemplating the blessings of Christ becomes a life acting the love of Christ.” – Ann Voskamp

I can tell you that in this season of life, the thanksgiving has slowed greatly as busyness takes its place. It shows up in how I feel and how I treat those around me. Then this shirt showed up on my doorstep:

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I think Cents of Style has been reading my mind because I just had to smile and know God was sending me a message with this shirt. The answer to happiness isn’t in doing more or having more – it’s in the gratitude for what we already have surrounding us. I started looking for gifts and wouldn’t you know? I felt warm and cozy and happy because I have so much to be thankful for, even in a stressful season.

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“Eucharisteo—thanksgiving—always precedes the miracle.” – Ann Voskamp

This is it, friends. We give thanks because it shifts our focus off of us and gives glory to God, and then comes the miracle – we are changed. Thanksgiving isn’t just a day on the calendar – it is an every day act that will transform us.

And this shirt? You can get it FREE today!

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Sorry. I get a little excited about Cents of Style deals. This weekend, when you spend $25, you will get this tee FREE!

Here’s how it works:

  • Find products you love (jewelry, clothes, shoes, whatever you have to have) and add them to your cart.
  • When the cart totals $25 or more, add the Thankful Grateful Blessed shirt from the Fashion Friday page to the cart.
  • Hit Checkout.
  • Put the code THANKFUL1 in the “Gift Card or Discount Code” Box to make your t-shirt FREE!

Remember: the code is THANKFUL1 and it will make this brand new t-shirt FREE with any $25 purchase, + FREE SHIPPING! Anything on the Cents of Style site is fair game – any purchase that totals $25 qualifies for the free t-shirt!

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Pick out $25 of great items, grab your free tee, and let’s practice gratitude together right now!

What are you thankful for today?

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At The Cross (and a $5 Flash Sale)

I received this cross to review from Dayspring. This post contains affiliate links.

I need you to know I am not a chalkboard artist. I love to write and I was a teacher, but writing on chalkboards was never my favorite. If someone wants to find a few extra hours a week for me and come over to give me chalkboard art lessons, I would be a willing student because I LOVE the look of chalkboards of all kinds.

You also need to know that I have a hard time letting things go. I’m not talking about forgiving people or holding grudges. I struggle with giving my worries and fears and disappointments to God and leaving them in His hands. I need to take this advice that I give to my kids about handling disappointment, but I’m still a work-in-progress myself.

When this chalkboard cross from Dayspring arrived at my doorstep, I thought about all the cute designs I could put on it if I was a better chalk artist, but God put just one simple reminder in my head:

“at the cross, at the cross, I surrender my life”

Cross Close

I knew right away what He was telling me. I need to surrender those hurt, negative feelings and LEAVE them there at the cross. My sin nature leads me to try to pick them up and carry them on my own, but He wants them LEFT AT THE CROSS.

Cross Tall

It’s just a chalkboard cross, but in the hands of God it became so much more. The art isn’t beautiful, but to me, it is a powerful visual reminder of His promise to carry my burdens.

Cross Wide

The cross means different things to different people and that is the beauty of this blank chalkboard cross – you can use it as you need and as God leads to speak life, freedom, hope into your home!

I would love for each of you to have one, so I partnered with Dayspring to give you an amazing discount! From now until Monday, August 8, use the code ERIN5 to get your own small chalkboard cross for only $5!

Want to get free shipping on your order? Grab several of these $5 small chalkboard crosses to use as gifts and add some faith-inspired school supplies to put your order over $50 and shipping will be free! There is also an awesome $5 flash sale featuring 28 more items going on right now, so stock up on these great deals while you’re getting your $5 cross!

Don’t miss out on this exclusive flash sale – the $5 chalkboard cross with code ERIN5 expires Monday, August 8th!

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At Home in the Good Life

I received this necklace for review from Cents of Style. This post contains affiliate links.

I grew up in South Dakota. The same city and state my whole childhood. I loved “my” state.

When it came time to choose a college, however, I needed to spread my wings a little. I didn’t fly too far, just to neighboring Nebraska, where I found my place as a Husker. Lincoln was just supposed to be my college home, but it became much more.

In Lincoln, I found a personal relationship with Jesus. My faith changed and grew and made me a new person in Christ starting my freshman year of college.

In Lincoln, I met my husband. We were both in the Cornhusker Marching Band. He proposed to me in the Sunken Gardens. We got married in Lincoln and made it through some major challenges together in those first few years.

In Lincoln, we bought our first home. Just two months before our first child was born, we found a cute little place to call our own. We moved in record time with the largest moving crew of friends ever just one month before Big J made his arrival.

In Lincoln, all three of our children were born. Three handsome boys joined our family in the span of six years. Each boy was dedicated to the Lord at our church in Lincoln.

We no longer live in Lincoln, but we have found our place here in Nebraska. It truly is the Good Life. While South Dakota will always be my birth state, Nebraska is home.

When I saw the new state necklace design from Cents of Style, featuring the state name and the coordinates of that state’s capitol, I knew immediately it would be a treasure for me.

State Necklace Alone Wood

Lincoln is the capitol of Nebraska and holds a very special place in my heart, for all the reasons listed above and more.

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I was hesitant to leave Lincoln at first, but we love our new hometown and I can’t imagine living anywhere else but Nebraska. I still love Lincoln and I can hold it and all its wonderful memories close with this beautiful double-bar necklace.

State Necklace Alone

This new state necklace design- with state name and capitol coordinates – AND the original Cents of Style state necklace are just $11.99 each with free shipping this weekend with the code NEWSTATE at checkout!

Tell me about the state that has captured your heart! Which state necklace will you order and why?

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When You Don’t Know What to Pray

I like to spend time with Jesus when I run outside.

This morning, my heart was aching for three women who are very dear to me. Each is going through her own personal tragedy right now and I can’t get them off of my mind. I’ve been praying for them for weeks and months, but today, words failed me.

The heartache for each women is reaching new depths this week and I felt led to pray for them, but I didn’t even know what to pray. Everything that came to mind seemed so trivial, pointless, not enough. I was so frustrated, but God is so good and He reminded me of a truth I need so desperately at that very moment.

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Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. -Romans 8:26

That’s exactly how I felt: weak. I can’t really do anything physical to help these women right now, so I thought prayer would be my way of “helping.” When I couldn’t even come up with what exactly to pray, I felt weak and helpless.

God met me in my weakness.

I prayed this very thing, “Lord, I don’t even know what these precious ladies need right now, but you do. I lift them up to you right now and ask for You to hold them close. Amen.” I know He heard me and I know the Spirit did the work where my words failed.

When you don't know what to pray

There are so many reasons we might not know what to pray: an unspecified prayer request, a prompting from the Lord to pray for someone without any other details, an unfamiliar situation, or a tough decision with no clear right answer.

I find myself in this place often. Sometimes I try to force it and come up with prayers that sound pretty good, even though no one but myself is hearing them. Not today. My sadness and frustration was too deep and that’s where the Spirit shows up.

We don’t have to have the right words. The Spirit knows our hearts and knows the needs of our loved ones. This is the time and place for us to recognize our weakness, rest in His strength, and let His power take over. Our friends and family are safe and loved in His hands.

Don’t give up on praying because you can’t find the words. The Lord gives us the Spirit to intercede for us and He fills in all the gaps.

If you need prayer for yourself or a loved one, please let me know in the comments. No details necessary – the Lord knows your heart and it would be an honor to lift your name and needs to Him.

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The One Way I Know How to Be Brave Today

I received the featured product to review from Cents of Style. All opinions are 100% my own. This post contains affiliate links.

I feel just about everything except brave today.

I felt brave seven months ago when I decided I would train for my first marathon the following spring.

I felt brave when I filled out my registration for the Fargo Marathon and sent it in.

I felt brave as I started my marathon training plan in February with my eyes set on conquering my next running goal.

I even felt brave as I finished my 20-miler a month ago, the longest run I would do during my marathon training.

Today, the day before my first marathon, those brave feelings escape me, so I’m writing this now to remind myself of the brave moments that led me to this one.

I’m also writing this to remember that I am not brave on my own. I am brave because my God looks at me and says, “You can be brave because I am with You.”

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We’ve taught our boys since they were little to approach life and the things God calls us to with faith and bravery. Joshua 1:9 is a key verse we refer back to often:

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

This is a lovely promise, but it’s not just that. This is a command. A command WITH a promise: be strong, be courageous, be brave BECAUSE the Lord my God is always with me. 

Be Brave 1

The feelings of bravery will come and go a million times before I cross the starting line and every step of the 26.2 miles, but God is not that wishy-washy. Unlike my feelings, He is steady and true. He will never leave me or forsake me and that is the source of my bravery today, tomorrow, and every day of my life here on earth. Standing in this truth is the one way I know how to be brave today.

I’m wearing my Be Brave shirt from Cents of Style today as we drive north to Fargo for my first marathon. It is just the encouragement I need running through my head as the time to run (a REALLY long way) draws closer. Be brave – embrace it with me (and maybe pray for an extra does of it for me?!) today!

What do you need the push to “BE” today? Cents of Style has an amazing Be Series with messages for each of us: be brave, be still, be true, be kind, be bold.

COS Be Series

This beautiful collection of shirts, hats, and jewelry from the Be Series is 50% off with the code BEYOU today! You also get free shipping! Choose your word and grab your favorite styles before they are gone!

One last thing: I’m running this marathon tomorrow in support of The Mercy House, a maternity home in Kenya. I need less than $100 to reach my fundraising goal, so every little bit helps! Would you consider making a donation of any amount to help us hit $262 before the race starts? Thank you so much!

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Teaching Kids About the Character of a Jesus-Follower

I received this book to review. 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!

So here’s the deal…

I’m not a big fan of what the world thinks a “Christian” looks like these days. If you were to ask a person on the street about the character traits of a Jesus-follower, I’m afraid you would hear words like self-righteous, judgmental, and close-minded. These are ugly words and the furthest thing from the character of Jesus.

This is the world in which we are raising our children. It is more important than ever to teach our kids to be Jesus-followers not just in name, but in everything we do. My character has to speak louder than any label I may claim. And I want the character of my boys to do the same.  

When we look at the life of Jesus, there are so many character traits for us to emulate and teach to our kids. I like to narrow down our focus when the kids are little and build upon it as they grow and mature in their faith.

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I Will Follow Jesus, a bible storybook by Judah and Chelsea Smith, is a great starting point for sharing these character traits of a Jesus-follower with our young kiddos. Every family should choose their own focus, but here are a few we emphasize from an early age:

Loving

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. -1 John 4:18

Jesus loved people. All people. He loved like no one ever has because He is God and God is love. When we look at the two most important commandments given to us by God, they come down to love. Love God. Love people. A Jesus follower is loving.

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.This is the great and first commandment.And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” -Matthew 22:36-38

Brave

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. -Joshua 1:9

We’ve already talked about the negative view much of the world has of Christians. Living and loving boldly in the name of Jesus takes courage. One day it might look like standing up for a classmate who is getting picked on at recess. Another day it may mean stepping out of your comfort zone to share a bible verse with someone who needs encouragement. We’re not scaling physical mountains, but sharing the love of Jesus in a hostile world most definitely requires bravery. And Jesus is the one who makes us brave!

In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect… -1 Peter 3:15

Humble

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. -Philippians 2:5-8

Jesus was the only perfect person to ever walk this earth, yet He was humble, even to the point of death. We live in a world where pride matters and we don’t want our pride hurt. Being a Jesus-follower means leaving our pride at the foot of the cross and walking in humility.

What does humility look like for our kids? Sometimes it means putting others’ needs before our own, which goes hand in hand with loving well. It also means not always having to be “right” all the time. We have some stubborn boys in this house (they might get that from their mama), and they like to be right about things. They also like to correct someone when they are wrong. A humble person knows how to take constructive criticism, as well when to keep their “right” thoughts to themselves. If we as Christians are always pointing out what others are doing wrong, we are exhibiting pride and opening ourselves up to a big fall when someone catches us in sin.

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. -Proverbs 16:18

When we look to Jesus and see His grace and mercy to us even when we were still sinners, we can’t help but be humble.

We can talk about all these characteristics to help our children in their walk of faith, but being a Jesus-follower comes down to one thing. We must be willing to follow what Jesus asks of us – no matter the cost, no matter what we look like.

We look at the life of Jesus, as told so well for kids in I Will Follow Jesus, for how to live, but we must also pray and listen for His voice, calling us to do the work He has just for us here on earth. Invite your kids to live out these characteristics, open their heart to the call of Jesus in their life, and follow Him!

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” -Matthew 16:24

I Will Follow Jesus

GIVEAWAY: I’m giving away three copies of I Will Follow Jesus to you lovely people! Just use the widget below to enter!

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Holy Week 101 for Parents and 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!

Although we have observed Holy Week in our own way as a family, when I asked my oldest son what he knew about Holy Week, his first question was, “What is Holy Week?” I apparently had never specifically labeled the week with that title, so my question and his response opened up a wonderful conversation about the week leading up to Easter!

Holy Week is extraordinarily significant to Christians and I have always felt strong desire to share all aspects of what Jesus went through in that week with our children. Maybe that is your desire as well. In my post over at Tommy Nelson today, I recorded some of the more relevant questions and answers from the conversation with my son in the hopes that it would be a guide for your own conversation with your child. Think of it as “Holy Week 101!”

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Head over to Tommy Nelson to read the answers to my son’s questions, including:

  • What is Holy Week?
  • What happened to Jesus during Holy Week?
  • What am I supposed to do during Holy Week?

We’ve kept The Story of Easter board book around our house to help introduce the events of this week to our kids at a young age. And we always follow this simple plan with the Jesus Storybook Bible as a family to remember the events leading up to and including Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Do you observe Holy Week as a family? What are some of your favorite traditions?

 

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