Life Is Tough, But So Are You

This post contains affiliate links. I received the tee to review for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.

I have a problem when life sends tough stuff my way. I tend to focus on the tough stuff and not on the way through it. I wallow. I worry. I complain. Life is tough, and I don’t like it.

I’m really thankful God is growing me in this area and doesn’t allow me to stay in that place for long. Life IS tough, but so am I. I didn’t always think this way. Strong and tough were not labels I would have always claimed. That has changed over the past fifteen years because I’ve been through moments that required strength I didn’t even know I had. Rather than focus on the fear, worry, or discouragement I felt in those tough moments, I choose to focus on the toughness inside of me that carried me through and brought me out a better person on the other side.

What are those tough moments in your life that uncovered your strength?

For me, three particular times of my life come to mind. These are all very positive events in my life, but they each required (or still require) all the toughness I could pull together.

  • Childbirth
  • Motherhood
  • Running a marathon

Childbirth and running a marathon tested my body beyond what I ever imagined, but they also maxed out my mental toughness. I have so much joy associated with the memories of giving birth to our boys and crossing that marathon finish line, but I also knew that I could do just about anything if I could make it through those exhausting feats.

Motherhood is a whole different kind of tough and this is where I needed (and still need) the biggest mental adjustment. It is also where I need the strength of God inside me most. Raising children is no joke, people, but it is some of the most important work I will do. My children will make mistakes, butt heads with me, and need the same lessons taught to them many times. We’re all sinners and life together is messy. When it gets tough, I need to not feel defeated or discouraged, but rather repeat to myself: “This is tough, but so are you.”

Now I have the shirt to remind me:

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When I don’t have the toughness I need, I know God is there to strengthen me and to surround me with family and friends that will hold me up and call out that strength. We need to be those people for each other.

I know so many people going through hard things – illnesses, divorce, natural disasters, job loss, etc. I wish I could give each of you a great big hug, pray with you, then remind you that you are just as tough as those circumstances. Let’s be done with despair and defeat and worry. I’m ready to embrace my toughness with a smile.

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The new “Life Is…” t-shirt line from Cents of Style captures all of life perfectly. Life is tough, but it is also beautiful, sweet, grand, and an adventure. However you see life or WANT to see life, one of shirts will speak to you!

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The “Life Is” collection launches today with a fabulous sale! Pick your favorite shirt and use the code LIFEIS1 at checkout to get it for just $15.95 with free shipping! That is a huge steal for these gorgeous, high quality tees.

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How do you see life? How do you want to embrace this life? Grab a shirt today to claim that vision!

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Why We’re Still Using Wipes In a Diaper-Less House

This post was sponsored by WaterWipes as part of an Ambassador Program for Influence Central. I received complimentary products to facilitate my review.

I really wish I would have know about WaterWipes when we had babies in diapers. With all three babies, we used wipes and detergent with no added fragrances because sensitive skin runs in our family. Our middle son still struggles with sensitive skin and eczema, so we’ve kept to fragrance-free as much as possible.

We’ve been done with diapers in our house for over a year now – HALLELUJAH! We had a bunch of wipes left over and, even without bottoms to wipe, I found myself still using those wipes for everything. Over the baby years, I didn’t even realize how handy and convenient they had become to me for all kinds of messes. Ice cream cones, sticky suckers, marker-covered hands, and more were no match for my stash of wipes!

WaterWipes Car

Fast forward to several months ago and my introduction to WaterWipes – the timing could not have been better as I was running out of my previous fragrance-free wipes and needed to restock. I’m so glad I didn’t buy more because WaterWipes were just the thing I had been hoping to find over all these years!

WaterWipes are a chemical free baby wipe with just two ingredients: 99.9% pure Irish water and 0.1% grapefruit seed extract. I feel great about using these for all sorts of messes with my family because there are no harmful chemicals! All of the usefulness of baby wipes with none of the extras – what’s not to love?!

Why we're still using wipes in aDiaper-less house

Why do I keep using wipes even though we are diaper-less? One word: convenience. My three boys are always getting dirty and I’ve been known to make a few messes, too. I keep a pack of WaterWipes in the minivan, in the bathroom, in the kitchen, and in my purse, so I am always ready when a mess pops up!

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I’m pretty sure our latest road trip to Colorado would have been a whole lot messier without WaterWipes! We used them on the car ride, for picnic lunches, and on our hikes. It was so handy to have them in my backpack to clean off hands before a mid-hike snack or clean up extra mud.

One more reason to love WaterWipesthis beautiful video on the importance of skin-to-skin contact between mom and baby!

My boys may be growing up fast, but this video has me fondly remembering those newborn skin-to-skin snuggles. Such a sweet time in motherhood! I love the emphasis on purity by WaterWipes, both in love and in the product!

How are you using wipes in your home?

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How to Help Your Boy Discover His Gifts and Purpose

One Friday morning earlier this month, we made the trip to an area arts and academic meet for our oldest son. He had been chosen to participate in a math competition as well as have his artwork displayed at the art show. The fact that he was doing well in both math and art at school really got me thinking about the gifts God places in our kids and how unique they are for each child.

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As a mom to three growing boys, I have a front row seat to see these gifts being revealed in each of my sons. It is quite the show and I’m realizing I am not a passive viewer in this situation. God has a role for us as parents in helping our children discover and grow in the talents given to them by Him.

As my oldest is only 10, I don’t have any expert advice for you, but I do have real-life experience, right now in the trenches with you, and I’ve observed these ways to participate in this process without taking over the lives of my kids.

I’m sharing my thoughts on a parent’s role in this process over at the Tommy Nelson blog today! Head on over there to read more and join the discussion!

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Hoodwinked: Truth + Motherhood

I received this book to review. I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are 100% my own. I have included affiliate and referral 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!

God has been putting the word “true” in front of my face a lot lately.

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It started with a new theme for our women’s ministry at church and I didn’t even know I needed to hear it. But the word served as a wake-up call to all the lies I had been believing. And the truth I was missing.

Many of the lies I’ve believed have been about motherhood. I feel inadequate. Every bad choice my child makes feels like a big flashing arrow pointing at my mistakes. Seeing another mother who seems to enjoy her children all the time brings on feelings of guilt for the times I don’t enjoy my own.

The enemy seems to know how to get under my skin the most in this area. I need more truth spoken into my life as a mom. And I have a book in my hands now that is bringing that truth.

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My dear friend Ruth Schwenk (The Better Mom) teamed up with the amazing Karen Ehman to write Hoodwinked for moms just like you and me. The tagline says it all: Ten Myths Moms Believe & Why We All Need to Knock It Off. In other words, I’m ready for this book to kick all that junk I’ve been believing about motherhood straight out of my head!

If you know me, you know I’m not a big fan of “parenting” books. There is not one formula that works for all families because we – moms, dads, kids – are all so unique, and I don’t like books that claim to be that one way to “succeed” as a family.

Hoodwinked is not one of those parenting books I dread. Instead of making me feel guilty for not doing this motherhood thing one particular way, Hoodwinked points me to life, freedom, and most importantly, truth in motherhood.

Hoodwinked Recipe

I wanted to share with you just a few pieces of truth that stood out to me in this honest + encouraging book:

“Do not tether your identity to the choices of your child—whether stellar or stupid. We are not our child’s choices.”

Didn’t I just mention this earlier in this post? I’m still working on letting go of the lie behind this one, but this line was exactly what I needed to hear.

“On the one hand, we worry that we are ‘just a mom.’ On the other hand, we think being a mom should be the most fulfilling, most rewarding, most thrilling thing EVER! All. The. Time.”

This quote made me laugh out loud, but it also hit me deeply. I don’t struggle with the “just a mom” thoughts very often – probably because there is never a quiet moment to think – but I definitely have wrestled with the second part. And if motherhood doesn’t feel AMAZING, I must be doing it wrong, right? WRONG. Motherhood is not all hugs + smiles + happiness and that is ok!

“Parenting is a tightrope that requires walking carefully between patience and pushing. No child’s timing is the same.”

I needed this reminder as our kids have entered school this year. They handle school and friends in completely different ways. Each day feels a little different. I can’t follow one formula and expect the same results every day from all of our children. The tightrope is such an accurate description of how we must pay close attention to the needs of each child, balancing out waiting and pushing, moving forward and pulling back.

Moms, I feel like so many of us need to dispel these myths that have taken root in our heads as we walk through motherhood and Hoodwinked is an amazing resource to lead us to truth!

Hoodwinked is out now, so go order your copy! You will love it! Hoodwinked also has a companion bible study with a study guide and six sessions on DVD! Wouldn’t it be great to discover these truths together with other moms? What are you waiting for?!

If you’d like to connect more with the authors, check out Ruth and Karen on Facebook, and follow “thebettermom” and “karenehman” on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest!

What lies or myths have you believed about motherhood? How do you cling to truth?

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Just When You Think He’s Not Listening

We have that one child who seems like he never hears us the first time around. Getting his attention and holding it isn’t always easy. While he is very smart and does so well in school, sometimes I’ve wondered if anything we say is soaking in.

Do you have a child like that? Let me give you a little hope today.

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As we drove to school one morning last week, our three-year-old asked: “When do we get to be with Jesus?”

That’s a pretty deep question for 7:30 in the morning while stuck in stop-and-go traffic. I took a big breath and readied my answer, but seven-year-old Little J chimed in first.

“We get to be with Jesus when we go to heaven! And in heaven, there is no pain or sickness or sadness. It’s all happy!”

This definitely got my attention in the best way possible. Double J (our three-year-old) seemed very interested as well and his big brother wasn’t done yet.

“You get to go to heaven if you ask Jesus into your heart! Big J and I have both asked Jesus to come into our hearts so we’ll be in heaven with Him. You can ask Him, too!”

Cue the big mommy tears.

Our rides to school in the morning have been a highlight of my day. We always start with prayer and then the kids take turns picking music to listen to and sing. It feels like some calm in the middle of a chaotic morning.

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But that morning last week. That morning topped them all. The child who doesn’t always listen, who seems to often be in his own little world…he has most certainly been listening. He has soaked up the true meaning of the Gospel over the years, and he was fully ready to share it with his little brother, without being asked.

His younger brother has been listening as well, because in the midst of hiding tears of joy behind my sunglasses and trying to keep my blurry eyes on the road, I heard his little three-year-old voice say:

“And Jesus is in heaven because He died on the cross and rose from the tomb!”

All those days of reading Bible stories over and over again, of memorizing verses and singing worship songs, of answering the same questions over and over again…they are 100% worth it, moms and dads. Our kids coming to know the love and saving power of Jesus is all His grace, but you are doing His good work when you share the Good News with your children day after day.

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In the days following, three-year-old Double J has talked a lot about heaven and death and what he will get to take with Him. So much of this is a mystery even to us as mature Christians, so I don’t have all the answers for him. He’s pretty sad that his Duplos won’t go with him to heaven. But I love the conversation that is happening in our home, all because our seven-year-old was bold in sharing the message of salvation he has been hearing all through his young life.

All this discussion led to a few little words with big weight from our youngest earlier this week:

“Mommy, I can’t wait to be with Jesus in heaven.”

Me neither, buddy.

May we all live with the boldness, the faith, and the joy of our children, soaking up every little bit of God’s goodness.

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3 Ways to Motivate Your Kids for Monday Morning!

The older our kids get, the harder it is to get them up and moving in the morning. Our three-year-old will still often bound out of bed, all smiles, well before any of us are ready wake up. The nine and seven-year-old? Not so much. The alarm goes off, I go in to make sure they’re getting up, open the curtains…and sometimes they don’t move an inch. I know there are other moms with me in this experience.

Mondays are usually the worst. After a weekend of family fun, my tired boys need some extra motivation to jump start their Mondays. I try to give them some extra things to look forward to on Mondays so they are ready to tackle another week. Here are a few ideas that have worked well for us:

3 Ways to Motivate Your Kids for Monday Mornings

Make a special Monday morning breakfast

“Special breakfast” can mean a wide variety of things and is different for each family. For my kids, pancakes or muffins on a Monday morning would be a special treat. These guys get pretty excited about food, so knowing they have something extra yummy waiting for them for breakfast actually gets them moving pretty well! Your children might like cereal, so save a special kind just for Monday mornings. I have one kiddo who loves eggs, so this would be a treat for him. Find a family favorite that you can make ahead of time or without much effort to bless your family to start the week! Can I recommend these chocolate chip scones that are our back-to-school tradition? The boys ask for them for every special occasion!

Talk about the week ahead

Does anybody else have calendar-watching kids? My boys area constantly checking the calendar to see what is coming up – holidays, events, lessons, days off – they want to know it all. They thrive when they know the plan and they get excited about what’s coming. We like to talk them through the week ahead on Sunday night or Monday morning. They know what to look forward to and what we expect of them for the week. It might sound less-than-thrilling, but in our family, it works as a great motivator!

Morning devotions

You might not see your kids get all excited about reading a devotion before school, but having time with God before they head out or get to work at home is the most important motivator I can think of! Whatever has happened the day before or over the weekend, I want our children to go about their days motivated by the love God has for them and the love He wants them to show others. That’s what it’s all about, people. The love of Jesus in and through our kids. We have a copy of Every Day a Blessing that has been worn out by two kids going all the way through it during morning devotions. It’s easy to understand, short enough to fit into even the busiest morning, and packed with truth. If you’re looking for a great daily devotion for your elementary kids, I highly recommend this one! Your reading kiddos could read it on their own or you could read it aloud to them during breakfast.

Monday can be rough or Monday can be the start of something epic (my son’s favorite word right now). Try some of these ideas or pick something that would energize and encourage your kids and make Mondays the best part of your week!

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A Periscope Peek at My Morning!

I have included affiliate and referral 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!

Last Friday, I went live on Periscope in the early morning while my kiddos were still sleeping to give you a little peek at how I handle my morning “quiet” time. Have you tried Periscope yet? It’s pretty fun – live videos from people you choose to follow and that you can interact with during the video! I’ve worked out with one and listened to worship on another. If you’re on Periscope already or going to join now, I’m “homewiththeboys” over there, just like everywhere else!

Here’s what I shared…

If you’re seeing this in your email inbox, click here to see the video!

Resources mentioned in the video:

If you’re new to the whole idea of morning quiet time or need some extra guidance in how to manage that time of day, I highly recommend you check out Hello Mornings! This community started by Kat Lee is the reason is started and stuck with a focused, productive morning routine in the first place. They have great challenges and accountability – so valuable!

Talk to me about your mornings and your Bible study time – how does it look for you? How do you want it to look?

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That Special Thing About My Mom {One of Many}

This post is part of a Mother’s Day partnership with Shari’s Berries. I received free product, but was not compensated in any other way for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.

This past Mother’s Day weekend, my parents agreed to have the boys at their house while The Hubby and I went to run a race. If you know my mom, this wouldn’t surprise you in the least.

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My mom has always been the woman who welcomes people in, and of course, she gladly welcomes her grandchildren any time. We are so blessed by their willingness to watch the boys and the ways they make the weekend fun for them.

It was in the original Mother’s Day plans for us to come back from our race and to indulge in some beautiful, yummy treats from Shari’s Berries with Mom. They asked me to pick out some wonderful gifts for my mom that we could all share. But on Saturday, Mom came down with a stomach bug and ended up being quarantined in the basement while Dad tried to corral the crazy that is our boys.

By the time, we arrived on Mother’s Day, Mom was feeling a little better and the Shari’s Berries treats had arrived, but you know how it is with the stomach bug – decadent treats (and taking pictures with them) were not a good fit for the day. I don’t know about you, but when I’ve been sick like that, the last thing I want is for people to be around. But Mom always makes the best of every situation and we were welcomed in as if she had been healthy all weekend. This is what makes her my wonderful mom. She’s not just a good hostess, but also never makes anyone feel like an inconvenience, even in the most inconvenient circumstances.

Shari's Berries Treat Box

Later in the day on Sunday, we opened up the Shari’s Berries treats – because Mom insisted – and enjoyed the scrumptious gourmet chocolate covered strawberries. Fruit and chocolate are always a good combination, but Shari’s Berries takes it up a notch with delicious toppings and lovely presentation!

Shari's Berries

Mom was able to enjoy a treat from the Mrs. Fields box that was a little less rich – the cinnamon sugar cookies were soft and perfect for a stomach not quite ready for chocolate decadence! There was also toffee fudge in that box that I hope she’s been able to enjoy by now because YUM!

Shari's Berries Both Boxes

I wanted to share pictures with you today that captured the welcoming, loving spirit of my mom on that Mother’s Day, but instead my words will have to do. I’m not sure any words or pictures could accurately capture what makes her the mom I love so much. Just know that there has never been a person who was not welcomed with open arms in her presence and her home, even at the most inopportune times. Like when you’ve had the stomach bug and three crazy boys in your house on Mother’s Day weekend.

I love you, Mom. Thanks for being who you are – an amazing example of unconditional love, making the best of every situation.

What makes your mom so special? How did you celebrate her this weekend?

 

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It’s a Henkaa Mother’s Day Giveaway!

I was given this dress as part of Henkaa Mother’s Day celebration! I was not compensated in any other way for this post, and all opinions are 100% my own!

I’ve had my eyes on a Henkaa dress for quite a while. Maybe obsessing a little bit.

A Henkaa dress is the perfect item for any woman to have in her capsule wardrobe because it can be worn so many ways. And a Henkaa dress is the perfect investment for a mom because it can be worn before, during, and after pregnancy – not many clothes in our closet can do that, right ladies?! I wish I had a Henkaa dress when I was having babies!

My first Henkaa dress, the Iris Midi, arrived last week and I’ve had so much fun styling it! The fun thing about the Iris is that is has SLEEVES! Yes, sleeves, but it can also be styled as a sleeveless or strapless dress, too! Talk about versatile!

Henkaa Iris Midi Dress

The style on the left was for a date night with The Hubby! The fabric of the Iris is so luxurious – perfect for getting fancy and throwing on some heels for a night out! In that style, the halter top was made by tying the sleeves behind the neck.

For the style on the right, I went a little more casual with some of my favorite fair trade accessories from (affiliate link) The Root Collective and Work of Worth! This would be a great look for brunch or a baby shower. I love that the sleeves make this dress a piece I can keep in my closet year-round!

I can’t wait to try the Iris in many more styles! Here are a few of the 15 ways it can be worn:

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Henkaa has tons of tutorials and inspiration from real women to help you make the most out of your convertible dress. The tutorials helped me figure out how to wear new styles in not time at all!

Did you know Henkaa also has a versatile bag in their line-up? The monogram multi-way bag is perfect as a diaper bag, daily carry-all or travel companion and can be worn as a handbag, cross-body bag, shoulder bag or backpack! Detachable straps and TONS of compartments on both the inside and outside make this a bag you will take with your every day to carry whatever you need – diapers, books, gym necessities, and more!

To celebrate Mother’s Day, Henkaa and I are teaming up to give one Iris convertible dress + one monogram multi-way bag to one of you beautiful ladies! I’M SO EXCITED!!!

Henkaa Mother's Day Giveaway

To enter this marvelous Mother’s Day giveaway, tell me which color Iris dress you would pick and where you would wear it to celebrate Mother’s Day – fancy brunch, moms’ night out with girlfriends, a day of shopping without kids, or something else fun!

This giveaway ends Sunday, May 10th at 8PM CST. One random winner will be chosen and announced Monday, May 11th! Only open to those with a US shipping address. Must be 18 or older to win. One entry per household please.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Mother’s Day Gifts at Sweet Prices!

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!

It’s time to celebrate moms and DaySpring has a sweet deal to celebrate the special ladies in your life! Now through May 3rd, use the code MOTHER35 to get 35% off one gift for mom!

These are a few of my favorite Mother’s Day gifts for my mom (or for me!)…

Lisa Leonard - Gold Bar Mama Necklace

This gold Mama bar necklace from Lisa Leonard is just gorgeous. Regularly $52, get it for Mom during this sale for just $33.80 AND free shipping! Anything from Lisa Leonard is a win!

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If Mom loves to journal with her morning coffee, this Beautiful Beyond Words gift set would be the perfect gift! Get the journal, mug, and plaque for just $21.43 during this sale!

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Tell Mom how much appreciate the light she brings to your life and home with this Shine Letterpress Block Set! These letterpress blocks are one of my favorite things ever in my home and you can’t beat this deal – just $29.25 for this set with the code MOTHER35 + free shipping!

And, the best deal of all, is this fabulous Daily Grace Cake Pedestal, which is on sale for just $12 now through May 4th! Yes, you CAN use the MOTHER35 code on top of this sale, bringing the total to only $7.80!

Remember: DaySpring also offers free shipping on all non-clearance orders of $25 or more! Treat several special women in your life to these lovely gifts this Mother’s Day!

 

Which Mother’s Day gifts would you pick from DaySpring for the special woman in your life – or for yourself?!

 

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