Backyard Football Therapy

Saturday wasn’t the best day for our beloved Nebraska Cornhusker football team. We were crushed by the way it all went down, losing on a last second Hail Mary touchdown and all.

Backyard Football 15

The Hubby gets all the dad points, though, because instead of sulking, as we both wanted to do, he gathered the boys and headed to the backyard for a game of football. And I took my camera out there to capture the fun.

I think it was good therapy for all of us.

Backyard Football 13 Backyard Football 14 Backyard Football 12 Backyard Football 11 Backyard Football 10 Backyard Football 9 Backyard Football 8 Backyard Football 7 Backyard Football 6 Backyard Football 5 Backyard Football 4Backyard Football 2 Backyard Football 1Backyard Football 3

Recovering from football with more football. That’s how we do it in this Nebraska house of boys.

How did your team do this weekend?

 

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How God is Using My Love for Sports

Even as an upper elementary age girl, I was a fan of Sportscenter. Yep, I’m a girl who loves her Sportscenter. Whether it’s early morning or late night, I count on getting my sports news fix each day and Sportscenter is just the best place for that. Plus, they’re usually pretty funny.

Football is my favorite, but I’ve always been drawn to the world of sports in general. While most people are idolizing sports stars, I love the stories. I love the human interest. I love the lessons we can learn from the very public stage of college and professional sports.

I don’t think it was a coincidence that God put this love of sports in me and then gave me three boys. I know not all boys are interested in sports, but mine are, and we’ve had many great life and faith discussions that began with a watching a football game or tennis match together.

*****

I’m over at The MOB Society today sharing a new series I’ll be posting every Tuesday to connect boy moms with their sons through sports and faith! Come on over to read more!

LockerRoomLessons

 

What sports do your children like to watch? Do you like watching sports?

 

If you’re a boy mom, I’d love for you to get connected with The MOB Society on Facebook and Twitter! You can also sign up the BoyRaiser newsletter in the top sidebar of the MOB Society website!

 

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They’re Speaking a Different Language, But I’m Still Listening

The Star Wars obsession in our house has reached full throttle. Don’t get me wrong, I actually like Star Wars, especially the original three episodes. Han Solo is my favorite. Who is with me?!

The boys, however, have taken liking Star Wars to a whole new level. They want to watch it all the time. They check out books about it at the library. They play Star Wars games and play with Star Wars Legos and have lightsaber fights with the pool noodle lightsabers I made for Little J’s Star Wars birthday party.

STAR WARS EVERYTHING.

So when we sat down to watch The Empire Strikes Back, I wasn’t just getting Luke + Leia + Han + all the droids. I was getting full commentary on every ship, weapon, planet, and character that came in to view on screen. My brain just about exploded. I know the boys get their ability to talk for hours from me, but OH MY GOSH.

I will fully admit here that I wanted to tune them out for much of the movie. I don’t really care whether Chewbacca is using a Bowcaster gun or the stormtrooper’s BlasTech E-11 blaster during the battle at Cloud City. Are you impressed with my knowledge there?! All from my boys. And I think I can recognize an X-Wing from a Tie Fighter, but I don’t mind if I don’t know all the names of the other ships.

My boys, however, care deeply. They love learning about Star Wars and they love telling me about it. Most of the time, they sound like they are speaking an entirely different language, but I’m still listening.

Listening to Your Kids

I’m still listening when they talk on and on about Star Wars because I want them to know THEY matter to me. Star Wars isn’t my whole world, but these boys are, and I can show them just how important they are to me by just listening. I can look them in the eye and ask questions when I don’t understand. Their handsome faces just light up when I ask them to explain the droids to me or on which planet everyone has now arrived.

I’m still listening because I want them to keep talking to me. I want to listen when they talk to me now about what matters so they know I will keep listening as they get older and the things that matter to them change. It may be Star Wars now, but some day it will be friendships and peer pressure and deep faith questions and even girls…so not ready for that. 

On the nights where I think we’re just settling down for a relaxing family move night and I, instead, get an earful about jedis and padawans, I am committing to listening and letting them know they are heard.

Listening to Your Kids 2

Keep speaking that strange language to me, boys. I’m still listening and I always will.

What do your kids talk to you about that you just don’t “get?” How do you make them feel heard in these situations?

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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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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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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.

Boys Looking Up Blog

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.

Surprised by Motherhood

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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Mighty {Five Minute Friday}

Five Minute FridayIt’s Five Minute Friday with lovely Lisa-Jo!

Set a timer and just write. Don’t worry about making it just right or not.

For me? An exercise in letting go and letting words flow. Five minutes only. {yes, I do set a timer and it quacks like a duck at 5 minutes, which totally makes me smile}

Today’s prompt: Mighty.

Stick around for why this week is so important!

*****

And go…

I’m coming up on eight years of being a mom and I’m still not sure of myself. The moment I think I’ve figured out what works for our family, our boys, things change – ages, stages, moods, circumstances. I’m a little lost and trying to find my place.

Mighty Men

But I do know one thing about these boys of ours: I want to raise them to be mighty men of God. I want them to recognize the strength and power that comes from the Holy Spirit when they are living in relationship with Jesus. To use that might for the Kingdom. To be mighty for God and to love mightily. To use their passion and strong will for justice and mercy in His name.

I know no other way to do this than to be a mighty warrior in prayer for them. I’m not a guy. I don’t know how to be a godly man. But I know how to pray and prayer is a mighty weapon. None of us will be mighty on our own, but in His hands, there is strength this world can’t come close to touching.

Mighty

I need to wear out the knees of my jeans in prayer the way my boys do playing hard. A mighty prayer warrior to raise mighty men of God. Only by His grace, I’m finding this is my place.

Stop.

*****

Do you ever feel lost and completely un-mighty in your role as a mother? You’re not alone. And even though our paths to motherhood are very different, I’ve never felt so understood as a mom as I did reading Lisa-Jo’s new book, Surprised by Motherhood. Mamas, this book is for all of you and it will rock your world. Go. Pre-order it now. For you, your mom, your sister, your bible study – all the mothers you know. I have more to share on this next week, but know that I laughed and cried and finished it in 48 hours.

And go read more fabulous posts on the topic of mighty at Lisa-Jo’s place today!

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Water Walker + Forgiveness

I had never really struggled with forgiveness issues in my life. And I never knew how much I would need to practice forgiveness in my role as a mother.

Only a daily basis, there are times I feel hurt, offended, wronged by my children. These offenses are often unintentional. Many times, they are are product of the natural immaturity of children. And sometimes they say or do hurtful things on purpose. If I’m honest with myself, I do these same things. That sinful nature in all of us…

Amidst this role as mother, I have found myself parenting with the wrongs at the forefront of my mind. Well, you can imagine how great a mother I am when holding on to frustration, sadness, anger in regards to being hurt by their harsh words, disobedience, disrespect.

I don’t think what I’m describing is much different than what most parents experience. Children act from impulses. They hurt others both intentionally and without knowing it. All of us do this, but hopefully we learn over time to treat others with respect and kindness.

When we’re hurt by someone we deeply love, it aches even more. That’s why our children can cause such strong emotions in us. We love them so much and can’t imagine they could ever do anything to upset, hurt, emotionally damage us. But it happens, probably to all parents at one time or another. And even a small act of disrespect from our own child can feel like a big slap in the face.

Here’s where forgiveness comes in to play. Jesus wasn’t kidding when He said we’d have to forgive some people a whole lot…

Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive. ~Luke 17:4

And with kids, they might not even know they need to ask forgiveness. But the forgiveness needs to come, more for my sake than theirs. It’s a way of releasing the hurt into the hands of the One who can carry it without any bitterness, only with grace and mercy.

My mind is all wrapped around this forgiveness thing because of Ted Dekker’s newest book, Water Walker.

waterwalker

I’m not sure I had ever read a Ted Dekker book before and suspense is not my normal choice for reading material, but the spiritual message and theme of forgiveness really drew me in.

Letting go is something you do, not just talk about. Talking about forgiving changes nothing. Doing it changes everything, not just in you, but somehow in those around you. We are not healed alone. Don’t ask me to explain. ~Ted Dekker, Water Walker

The main character of Water Walker, Alice, faces unimaginable trials and offenses from those who claim to love her. Honestly, her suffering was quite difficult for me to read. But that makes her walk towards Jesus and forgiveness even more amazing. A miracle.

I was really moved by the way Dekker used the imagery of stepping out of the boat onto the stormy water to illustrate forgiveness. Our eyes must always stay fixed on Jesus, not the waves and storm around us. And this is a huge act of faith, this forgiving and releasing the feelings we hold against someone. Truly forgiving is what makes us water walkers.

Since finishing Water Walker, I find myself recognizing the negative ways in which unforgiveness eats away at me. I am experiencing the freedom that comes in telling my child I forgive them for something they didn’t even know hurt me. And I forgive in my head, my heart, sometimes seventy times seven times a day because I know this is what Jesus would do.

I’m a better mom because of forgiveness. And I hope my kids learn to do the same forgiving for me.

What has been your experience with forgiveness and motherhood? Are you, like me, easily hurt by things your children do or say to you?

 

If you’re interested in reading Water Walker, you can get the first episode of the book for free here!

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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Growing Vegetables + Children

This is where I usually tell you that today is another Five Minute Friday, where Lisa-Jo gives us a prompt and invites us to write for FIVE MINUTES ONLY, no editing, no rethinking, no shame.

But this isn’t just any Five-Minute Friday. Yes, it IS Friday. Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day, but the kind of love we’re sharing here today goes beyond a one day holiday. You’ll see…

Today’s prompt: Garden.

*****

And go…

The gardening analogies were lost on me until we bought a house with landscaping that needed to be kept up. I had always said I had a black thumb but that wasn’t really the issue – the issue was my own lack of persistence, patience, diligence.

Garden Kids

There is no garden quite like motherhood, where I am toiling to produce the fruit of Christ in my children and He is working to produce the fruit of the Spirit in me. There is daily planting, daily digging, daily weed-pulling, and if I don’t remember His call to not grow weary in doing good, it might all just be too much.

My mama soul has been turned over and over again just like the dirt. Every part of me feels the joy and pain, the lift and weight of the toil of parenting, and I live in a place where everything I could ever need is in reach for me without physical labor.

God is working on my heart, pulling up the weeds of selfishness, bringing forth new growth of love and service, showing me beauty and joy in swept floors and folded laundry.

Garden LisaJo

The work of beautiful women around the world, literally planting and harvesting to nourish their families, body and soul, is finding root in my heart, giving me a vision for true service to my family.

Garden Women

They grow vegetables AND children, even children who aren’t their own, loving them as if they were. And while I haven’t latched on to the whole vegetable garden in my own backyard, I am a mother who is growing children and, as Lisa-Jo says, “There is nothing ordinary about being a mom.”

Stop.

*****

Today a bunch of not-so-ordinary moms are linking arms and running forward in love to show the world LOVE is a VERB. It goes out and does crazy stuff like build a center for a community in South Africa in need of a safe place for sustainable food, child care, economic empowerment, job skills trainings, a gathering place for church, classrooms for HIV/Aids education, and a playground for their kids. THAT is love and we can show it today.

It all starts today with a garden. A vegetable garden. And that’s just Phase One.

You can donate through the project on Pure Charity. And you can also purchase a gorgeous necklace through one of my favorites, KraftyKash, from her “Fall in Love With the World Next Door” line and $12 from each sale will help fund the Maubane Community Center in South Africa.

I’m just giddy and teary and overwhelmed by so many coming together to love on these kids, this community. Love IS a verb. Let’s do this.

 

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I See You

It was a full weekend.

I was a wife, a mother, a writer, a reader…

Weekend Reader

a baker, a chef, a snow-shoveler, a stuffed animal surgeon…

Stuffed Animal Surgeon

a babysitter, a basketball mom…

Babysitter

a runner, a {disappointed} football fan, a worshipper and child of the Great I Am.

And right in the middle of it all, as I was enjoying myself but also looking around for some sort of approval or pat on the back for all those little and not-so-little things we moms and dads do in the course two, too-short weekend days, God gently whispered to me…

I see you.

I was shoveling at the moment and that little whisper took my breath away.

Analog weekends have been a struggle for me to follow strictly, not because I want an escape from being present with my family, but because I like the approval and recognition that social media brings. Yep, I like to be validated. Having another mom “like” my picture or comment on my status is like a big high five in the middle of my day. And that’s not always bad, but when they become more important than being present, well, then we have a problem…

Those three words were what I needed right when I needed them. From my audience of One.

His whisper this weekend brought me to a new place – a place where I WANT to be free of the need for recognition. A new place where He alone can fill my need for validation, for approval, for love.

Sweet mama, as you start this week where you may not hear one single thank you for all the diapers changed and clothes washed and countless other deeds done, He sees you. He delights in you. He loves you.

And He’s the only high five you need.

O Lord, you have examined my heart
    and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
    and when I rest at home.
    You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
    even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too great for me to understand!

I can never escape from your Spirit!
    I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
    if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
    if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there your hand will guide me,
    and your strength will support me.

Psalm 139:1-10 {NLT}

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