Monday, May 28, 2012

In Memory

In honor of all of those who have given everything.



Love,

Saturday, May 26, 2012

"Always There: Reflections for Moms on God's Presence" Review {Giveaway}


If you missed my review of the new MOPS theme book "Mom Connection" earlier this month, you will want to check it out. Then come back over and enter to win a copy of this year's devotional "Always There: Reflections for Moms on God's Presence"!

About the book: 
Every mom with young children knows there's no such thing as "alone." But that doesn't mean she never feels alone, lonely, or even abandoned. Always There is a devotional for moms, by moms, that assures readers that God's abiding presence remains no matter what the circumstances of life. God is there every step of the way, from the first smile to the everyday feedings to those middle-of-the-night times. From the humorous to the solemn, these short devotions will capture moms' hearts as they reflect on their role as mothers and on their ever-present and steadfast God.

Contributors to Always There include Hayley DiMarco, Kim Hill, Kathi Lipp, Amy Parham, Renee Swope, Ann Voskamp and many others.

The fifty-two devotions are organized around aspects of life with young children.  These include: 
- Firsts 
- Marriage 
- Friendship 
- Overwhelmed 
- In Control 
- Mundane 
- Laughter and Play 
- Sacrifice 
- Work 
- Provision
-         
My thoughts:
With a list of authors like Carol Kuykendall, Kathi Lipp and Keri Kent Wyatt, it has to be a great book, right? I expected to be wowed and impressed, but what I didn't expect was for each one I read to hit me right where I needed it (and sometimes hard). 
From "I'll Have What She's Having" by Shannon Milholland (envy another mom much?), "Do We Have to Hurry, Mommy?" by Jenne Acevedo (Ugh & Ouch!), "Sometimes I Just Want to Quit" by Renee Swope (Ever have days like that?) and "The Pregnancy Test" by Alexandra Kuykendall (I have been there!), I felt like each author was writing straight to me. Let's just say I cried (more than once) and leave it at that.

And the best part (as if it could get even more amazing) is that each devotional is short enough to read in mommy time. I even managed to fit it in between needy 4 year-old moments.
 
About the editor:   
Susan Besze Wallace is a magazine writer, the author of The New Mom's Guide to Life with Baby and a columnist for MomSense. She spent twelve years as a newspaper reporter nationwide before the daily deadlines of mothering three boys became her passion. She resides in Northern Virginia.

The prize and the fine print:
The winner will be mailed one copy of Always There via media mail.

This mailing is limited to USA (including APO/FPO) and CAN address. (Sorry, the costs to ship overseas were killing my blog budget!)

I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes. The opinions expressed are all mine and I was not required to give a positive review.

Always There is available May 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Use the new, handy-dandy Rafflecopter widget to enter for the prize! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

I hope you win!  

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What's Your Song? {Molly Malone}

*While you are here, don't miss my current giveaways! Enter here to win a Mother's Day package, including a copy of "Mom Connection" by Tracey Bianchi and here to win a copy of  "The Get Yourself Organized Project - 21 Steps to Less Mess and Stress" by Kathi Lipp. 

It's the first Thursday in a while that I have remembered to put a song up. I think after Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, the rest of the week is just a blur!

Last night, the preschooler had a rough time. Too much sun, not enough sleep and the fact that it is dance recital week (lots of running) caught up with her. So I was in her room trying to sing her asleep, when all I really wanted to do was cuddle up to the Soldier. I know my rocking and singing nights will soon be gone though, and that makes me sad. As much as I dream about them all being college students, I will miss having little ones. It's hard to believe our baby will soon be five. 

This is a song that my mother used to sing to me when I was little and I am sure her mother sang to her. If you think about it, it's not really lullaby music - kind of morbid maybe, but it's one of our favorites. Right up there with Whiskey in the Jar.



Have a wonderful Thursday and come link up your song with Goodnight moon


Love, 



Tuesday, May 15, 2012

National Clean Out Your Purse Day (and Get Organized) with Kathi Lipp {Giveaway!}


*While you are here, don't miss my other giveaway - a copy of Mom Connection and a bag of goodies - just for mom!*

Let's face it, as women, we keep everything in our purse. I don't care if I haven't needed it in five years, it may come in handy tomorrow...

But what do you do when you can lift it anymore? Let alone find what you need? Please don't ask my kids how often I lose the car keys in the bottom of my purse (or as I call it - the abyss).

If you are like me, you desperately need today -
National Clean Out Your Purse Day!! 

 The amazing Kathi Lipp has a new project book, The Get Yourself Organized Project - 21 Steps to Less Mess and Stress and today, she is helping us get ourselves organized by starting with our purses!

Here are Kathi's steps to cleaning it out and getting organized!


How to Clean Your Purse Instructions
Here’s my super-speedy way of cleaning out my bag. I simply take my purse and dump it out into a plastic grocery bag. I sort the dump into Put Away, Put Back, and (in this case) Throw Away.

Put Away
Anything I want to keep that doesn’t belong in my purse gets put away. This is also when I go through receipts I’ve carefully placed in my wallet (or, more likely, the ones I’ve quickly thrown into my purse…) and random notes or other pieces of paper. If you’re away from home while you’re sorting, just put these items into another bag to put away when you get home. And when you get home, put them away in the right spot.

Put Back
If it belongs in your purse, go ahead and put it back into your purse.

Throw Away
Anything that’s left over in your plastic grocery bag (food wrappers, cash receipts you don’t care about, and so on,) is now garbage that gets recycled or thrown away. The beauty of the grocery-bag organizing system is that you can do it anywhere, anytime. Just grab a grocery bag and start sorting while you’re waiting for your kids to get out of band practice or while you’re on the phone with your mom.

Clean it Up
Give your purse a good shake and get out any stray bits, crumbs etc. I’ve even used a hand held vacuum to really get the bag clean.

Label It and Put It Away
Assign a spot for everything that belongs in your purse, bag, or backpack. I use three zippered pouches. Everything goes into one of those three pouches or into your wallet (or in rare cases, onto your key chain). The fewer items you place in your purse, the easier it is to know what’s in there. 

Wallet. I recommend you keep in your wallet only cash, receipts, checkbook, and credit, debit, and gift cards. 

Pouch 1: Makeup bag
  • Lipstick and gloss
  • Eyeliner
  • Powder
  • Sunscreen stick
  • Blush and brush
  • Eyeglass cleaner wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
Pouch 2: Emergency kit
  • Fashion tape
  • $20
  • Needle and thread
  • Nail glue
  • Advil
  • Couple of adhesive bandages
Pouch 3: Change 

Other Things to Keep in Your Bag
  • Sunglasses case
  • Cell phone
  • Keys
Keep It Up
If I sort through the items in my purse once a week, it really is easy to stay on top of it. It takes only a couple of minutes to keep it up.

I am so proud of myself for jumping in. Want to see pictures? For posterity (and especially for my friends that won't believe that I cleaned it out), here are the before and after shots: 
Before - Like I said, everything is in my purse!
After - I can find my keys!
But this book isn't just about your purse, it really is "steps to less mess and stress". In 21 days, you will have your house (bedrooms, office, kitchen), your family (laundry, meal planning, kid's chores) and your personal life (schedule, computer, wardrobe) under control!

Side note: If you have never read a Kathi Lipp book, you need to fix that right away! She is amazing, funny and so great at breaking things down in to simple steps (Like I need!). Check out The Husband Project: 21 Days of Loving Your Man on Purpose and with a Plan, The Me Project: 21 Days to Living the Life You've Always Wanted or The Marriage Project: 21 Days to More Love and Laughter. You won't regret it! 

I am so happy to be giving away a copy of The Get Yourself Organized Project on my blog, but please don't miss out on even more goodies! Kathi is giving away some awesome prizes on her website - all you have to do is clean out your purse! So, enter to win the book using the Rafflecopter gizmo below and then head over to Kathi's site to get in on all the fun!



a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

Love,  

Sunday, May 13, 2012

What I Didn't Know - Mother's Day Pearl


Welcome to Pearl Girls™ Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series - a week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Sheila Walsh, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Bonnie St. John, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.

AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/6-5/13 and the winner will on 5/14. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls™ products (all GREAT Mother's Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

And to all you MOMS out there, Happy Mother's Day!

What I Didn't Know by Rhonda Shrock

I always knew I wanted to be a mother. As a girl, I played house with my dollies, shushing them when they cried and kissing their plastic heads.

Looking back at that girl, I realize now that there was a lot she didn't know. This morning over my fresh-ground coffee, this mother of 22-1/2 years scratched out a list of 10 things she didn't know then that she knows now.

1.  I didn't know - how could I? - just how completely a tiny, helpless scrap of humanity can capture the heart and hold it forever. From that first whooshing heartbeat and the first butterfly brushes, a mother's heart is never again her own. For all eternity, it enlarges, walking and pulsing and moving outside of her body; in my case, in the shape of a blue-eyed boy with rooster tails. Times four.

2.  I didn't know that the size of a mother's heart is always changing, stretching to embrace each new baby that comes, then growing again to love their friends and then their own families.

3.  I never knew, as I changed my dolly's dress, how many reasons there are to worry when you're a mama. Didn't know about the nighttime vigils. Didn't know the anxiety of separation, the terror that floods when you turn around in the grocery store and they're gone. Didn't know about the fear of the pond next door or the concern that pays for swimming lessons. Didn't know the thousand-and-one reasons that keep a mother awake, whispering prayers on her pillow in the dark.

4.  No one told me that loving so much means that you will hurt hard and keen;  that what pains your child hurts you even worse. I didn't know then that a playground taunt travels through that smaller heart and lands square in yours, stinging and burning like fire. I didn't know that motherhood makes lionesses of us all and that there'd be days I'd have to bite my tongue and pray to not sin.

5.  I didn't know how exhausting it is, being a mother. I didn't know that it takes everything you've got and then some. Didn't know the bone-deep exhaustion; how it strips you bare and shows how selfish you can be, but, too, that you have more strength than you know.

6.  I didn't know, playing house, how much joy mothers feel; joy so big that it makes up for the pain.  Just looking at those eyes and the curve of the cheek can make you so happy it hurts.  Watching them grow and find their talent and win at something...all the money in the world can never buy that kind of happiness.

7.  I didn't know how making babies and raising them, how it binds you to their father. I didn't know the intimacy you feel when your eyes meet above those tousled heads, and your smiles say, "Just look at what we've done."

8.  That girl in the homemade dress, she didn't know that letting go is one of the hardest things a grown-up mama will ever do. Rocking those babies in that small rocking chair, she didn't really know that babies grow up and walk away and there goes your heart, out into the big, wide world. No one told her that part.

9.  I had no idea how rewarding it is, being a mother. How the happiness that comes from boy kisses and awkward hugs can't be bought or sold. How proud you feel when you see what they're growing up to be and that all the planting and pruning and watering and feeding is finally making fruit!

10.  I didn't know how much my babies would enrich my spiritual life or how they would change the way I pray. I didn't realize they would lead me to a deeper dependence on the Heavenly Father or how I much I would need His wisdom to raise them aright.

These are things I didn't know before I was a mother. But I know them now. Oh, how I know them now!  And I’d do it all again.

###

Rhonda Schrock lives in Northern Indiana with her husband and 4 sons, ages 22, 18, 13, and 5. By day, she is a telecommuting medical transcriptionist. In the early morning hours, she flees to a local coffee shop where she pens “Grounds for Insanity,” a weekly column that appears in The Goshen News. She is an occasional guest columnist in The Hutch News.  She’s also blogged professionally for her son’s school of choice, Bethel College, in addition to humor and parenting blogs, and maintains her personal blog, “The Natives are Getting Restless.” She is a writer and editor for the magazine, "Cooking & Such:  Adventures in Plain Living."  She survives and thrives on prayer, mochas, and books.  

Exciting News – the latest Pearl Girls book, Mother of Pearl: Luminous Legacies and Iridescent Faith will be released this month! Please visit the Pearl Girls Facebook Page (and LIKE us!) for more information! Thanks so much for your support!


Saturday, May 12, 2012

He Will Walk With You - Mother's Day Pearl


Welcome to Pearl Girls™ Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series - a week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Sheila Walsh, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Bonnie St. John, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.

AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/6-5/13 and the winner will on 5/14. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls™ products (all GREAT Mother's Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

And to all you MOMS out there, Happy Mother's Day!

He Will Walk With You by Carey Bailey

As a little girl, I loved baby dolls. Loved them! I played school, adoption agency, daycare operator and babysitter all day. I felt like I was born to be a mama. Therefore, I was a bit anxious when the ages, 22, 25, 28 and 32 came and went and there were no babies. Have you ever desired something so much and feared never getting it? That was me.

My day finally came at the age of 34. I soon realized that God knew what He was doing when He had me wait. To my shock, it wasn’t as easy as playing with dolls. I was surprised that it wasn’t the dream world I imagined it would be! I felt like life became a gigantic prayer.

“God, HELP me!”

“Please, God. Please, please, please make it all better. I can’t do this!”

“God, this feels impossible. Where are you?”

While I adore motherhood, it is harder and there are more adjustments than I expected. (I am hoping there are some nodding of heads and Amen’s being said out there in cyberworld.) Not only did I have a new life to care for, but my identity suddenly felt all scrambled up. It took me until my son was one to finally feel confident in my new role as a mother, confident that I could drop my child off at preschool without crying, confident that I could go out with the girls’ and the world wouldn’t fall apart, and confident that I could go on a date night and have conversations that didn’t revolve just around our son.

I was feeling settled in my new world and then WHAM! I discovered I was pregnant again. Can I be vulnerable with you? I actually cried when I found out. And they were not tears of joy. I feel awful saying that out loud, and I hope you will give me a moment to explain. It was not that I didn’t want another baby or feel like I couldn’t love a new life, it was just that I got scared. Discovering a little person was on the way sent a panic through me. Would my son still receive the love and attention that he deserved? How was my husband going to feel about my body changing again? Would I ever be able to pursue the vision I felt God had for me in writing and publishing? I was truly wondering if I was going to be able to handle another intense wave of identity crisis like the one I had just been through. I wasn’t sure.

God and I needed a serious talk. And in that conversation He carefully reminded me of this:

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

He reminded me in our time together that I, too, am His child and He has every intention of loving me, caring for me, and giving me the future that He has planned for me.

As mothers, we can get so caught up in parenting that we forget that we, too, have a spiritual parent who loves us as His child. He loves you as much as He loves the children He has given you. He will never forsake you.  And on those days when motherhood seems too overwhelming and too impossible I step back and take a deep breath. Then I remember that this journey I am on, right now, is the one He has designed and create uniquely for me. I simply need to live in it, learn from it, and allow His love to sweep over and through me.

He will walk with me! He will walk with you! Grab His hand.

###

Carey Bailey is a recovering perfectionist, wife, proud mama, and the Family Life Director for her church in Arizona. She hosts an online community for moms called Cravings: desiring God in the midst of motherhood where she strives to make God time easier. Not less meaningful, just easier. She is the author of Cravings {The Devotional} which is a set of forty devotional flashcards for the mama on the go. Visit Carey online blog: www.cravingstheblog.blogspot.com Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CravingsOnline and Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/careycbailey/

Exciting News – the latest Pearl Girls book, Mother of Pearl: Luminous Legacies and Iridescent Faith will be released this month! Please visit the Pearl Girls Facebook Page (and LIKE us!) for more information! Thanks so much for your support!

Friday, May 11, 2012

"Mom Connection" Review & Giveaway!


As a MOPS mom and leader, I am always excited to get my hands on a copy of the new year's theme book, so I was thrilled to get an advance copy of Mom Connection by Tracey Bianchi. And I may have bragged about it a bit... 

However, with six kids, finding time to read it was a challenge! 

About the book:
Parenting young children is all-consuming task that can make moms feel isolated, disconnected and ineffective beyond the walls of their own home. They want to have a part in the bigger scheme of things, to have real friends and to make the world their children will inherit a better place. 

In this witty, encouraging book, Tracey Bianchi guides moms on a journey toward celebrating and discovering the underlying rhythm of their lives and how that rhythm pulls them into vibrant relationships. Through stories of her own life as a mom and the experiences of others, she shows moms how to gracefully engage the people who cross their paths rather than viewing others as tasks on a list. Bianchi shares her own, sometimes hilarious, missteps and the importance of vibrant connections and intentional relationships. She also offers a way to find balance in this busy exercise called motherhood. 

“Of course, motherhood will eternally be a balancing act with bouts of stress and worry (even depression), a mixture of global concern and lost lunch boxes,” writes Bianchi. “Mom Connection will take you on a journey to celebrate and deepen your friendships to make you a better mother, wife and woman.”

My thoughts:
I can pretty much sum up this book in one sentence. I LOVE IT. 

I love how real Tracey is, how she shares everything - even the messy parts of being a mom. The lonely moments in the park when you desperately want to connect with someone, anyone! Hello? I remember those moments like it was yesterday. (It probably was...) 

I have never met Tracey Bianchi, but I am pretty sure she stalks my Facebook. She has to. How else would she know about all the craziness that is my life? I know I need to slow down, but do I really have the time? I appreciate that she gets it and offers small ways to find space and margin. She even takes you through how to find, ask and yes, even ACCEPT help. Something that I have struggled with forever.

And the chapter on finding yourself after you have children? Not even my husband gets that I long to be something/someone other than just a mom. (For all you first time, head-over-heels moms, don't leave hate comments. You will understand someday.) Tracey breaks it down in to easy steps to finding what happened to your gifts, talents and hobbies when you gave birth. 

This book isn't just about connecting with other moms, but connecting with your kids (yes, we need to do that), your extended family (it is okay to set boundaries!) and even your husband (if you have one) - because adding kids to a marriage opens up a whole new can of worms... I admit, some days I am so craving outside interaction, I forget about those relationships. Yet another reason I loved this book. 

Making friends, keeping friends and how to be a friend to the mom who needs one. We are all so different, from the perfect mom to well, um, me.. but we all need connection. 

I especially enjoyed the "Five Mom Tested Tips" at the end of each section - I crave practical advice! I also appreciated short chapters that I could sneak in while I was hiding from children. Mom Connection really was a great read. I laughed and I even teared up a time or two. Real, honest... thank you Tracey, I needed this.

About the author:   
Tracey Bianchi is an over-caffeinated, thirty-something living in a suburb near Chicago. She’s a sought after communicator and has contributed to a variety of publications and organizations from Sojourners to MOPS International, from The Washington Post to her first book via Zondervan. Tracey is an activist with a passion for environmental justice and advocacy for women and girls in the developing world. She also serves on pastoral staff at Christ Church of Oak Brook (a congregation of 2000+) where she helps coordinate a contemporary worship community as well as teaching and preaching regularly. She has three children, a rockstar husband, and had a goldfish named Stinky Pete that recently met his fate by jumping ship and landing on the kitchen floor.  

Visit Tracey's website at http://traceybianchi.com/

The prize:
 In addition to a copy of Mom Connection, you will receive a reusable MOPS shopping bag, MOPS water bottle, a collection of four magnets (to hold all the Mother's Day artwork up!), a "Friends don't let friends mother alone!" t-shirt, a note pad and pen for those endless lists, a Travis Cottrell worship CD, a bookmark (the Lord knows you will need it!), a copy of MomSense magazine, a MOPS luggage tag holder, MOPS lipbalm and finally - to keep the kids busy for for a few blessed moments - a Veggie Tales DVD and a Baby Faith DVD.



Use the new, handy-dandy Rafflecopter widget to enter for the prize! 

I hope you win!  

Mom Connection is available May 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Love,

MilSpouse Appreciation Day - Blog Hop 2012


Welcome to Our Crazy Life! 

I am Athena, mom to six kiddos and wife to one Soldier - who has recently returned from his second extended vacation to the Middle East (courtesy of the U.S. Army). 
The Soldier with his Army brats

The Soldier and I have been married for almost 20 years. We have one college girl, one high-schooler, one in junior high, two in grade school and one preschooler. We stay pretty busy between sports, dance, 4H and everything else. 

It's a crazy life, but I love it.  

I am a writer (writer just sounds so much better than facebook junkie). I just wish I had more time to do so. I may have to give up housework to devote more time to it. 

Okay, so I am not really a housework kind of girl - there are more important things in life.   

Some of my ramblings... 

I would love to know what you think! 

I live love to read. Most of my blog posts (if I am not griping about deployment) are devoted to free ebooks for Kindle. I will read two to three books a week, so I am saving the Soldier a pretty penny by not buying any. Maybe I can convince him to let me spend it on jewelry instead... 

BBC 100 Book Challenge
(make sure to double check prices as they change frequently!)

I do a book review from time to time (anything for free books!) and host an occasional giveaway. If you want to be notified when the giveaways are up or when a new free book is posted, feel free to like Our Crazy Life on facebook (it also helps my self esteem to have people like me...). 

My biggest passion is volunteering for Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS). I can't even begin to tell you what a difference getting involved with a group of moms - who are experiencing the same things I am - did for me. I now have friends all over the world thanks to MOPS. Plus, I get to travel (sans kids) a couple of times of year for training and girl time. 

And yes, we have groups especially for Military moms that meet on installations all over the world! If you are a mommy, you need mommy time and MOPS can help! 

Note: If you are a mom, come back tomorrow for my latest giveaway -  a copy of "Mom Connection" with a bag of goodies - just in time for Mother's Day!

I have had a blast since I started blogging and have met several wonderful women and enjoy following their adventures in this crazy world we call Military life. When I need a laugh or a little perspective I check out Witty Little Secret (trust me, you will LOVE her), Household 6 Diva or Riding the Roller Coaster

I know what you are thinking, this is getting a little long for an introduction ;0)  

Anyway, I love to chat and would love to get you know you! I spend way too much time on facebook so come over and say hello.

And don't forget to link up!

  

Love, 

Stepping Out on Faith - Mother's Day Pearl


Welcome to Pearl Girls™ Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series - a week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Sheila Walsh, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Bonnie St. John, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.

AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/6-5/13 and the winner will on 5/14. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls™ products (all GREAT Mother's Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

And to all you MOMS out there, Happy Mother's Day!

Stepping Out on Faith by Bonnie St. John

"Darcy . . .”

“Yeah, Mom?”

I momentarily held the undivided attention of my teenage daughter. Her thumbs, free of their ubiquitous texting keypad, quietly dangled by her side. Her computer and its omnipresent Facebook page were completely out of sight. I had almost forgotten what she looked like without all these adolescent accoutrements. As we sat down together on the burgundy leather sofa in our living room, I realized this fleeting state of electronic dislocation was my chance to hatch a plan I had been formulating for the past several weeks. Carpe diem.

“How would you like to write a book together?”

“About what?” I asked my mom. Write a book? This was a real surprise. I felt a bit suspicious, but still curious.  I love to write, and Mom kept telling me I was really good at it. I like writing poetry, fantasy, and sci-fi, though. The books Mom wrote were all nonfiction. I wondered what we could possibly do together.

“Well . . .” I hesitated. If I wanted her to commit to any extra work out- side her busy schedule at school—not to mention work alongside her mother—I had to make this really great. “It would be about women as leaders,” I continued, “a mother-daughter investigation into leadership styles and structures.”

“Leadership?” I blurted. It came out as if I had a bad taste in my mouth—which I did. I couldn’t imagine a more boring topic to write about. What is there to say about leadership anyway? When you’re in charge, you just get things done, right? Who wants to talk about that?

Her furrowed brow told me I was losing her fast. “Um . . . we could find women leaders all around the world!” I said impulsively, frantically casting the ultimate bait.

“Really? Would we get to travel a lot?” I hadn’t thought about that. Heck, I’d write about the mating habits of tsetse flies if I got to go to Africa to do it!

But this project wasn’t just about the influence it would have on Darcy. I wanted to do something that could have a potent impact on an alarming trend I had witnessed in workplaces across the country: far too many women appeared to be making a choice not to apply for top leadership positions when presented with the opportunities to do so.

This project, then, was a bit of a Trojan horse. On the one hand, the saga of a mother-daughter journey could seduce female readers, who might never bother to read the Harvard Business School dissertations on the subject, into a meaningful conversation about leadership. At the same time, if Darcy met a series of brilliant, accomplished women— people even a cynical teen would be in awe of—perhaps they could tell her all the things I’d like her to know—and more.

And she just might listen.

But where to start? How would we make it work? I suggested we do most of our research by phone, as I did for How Strong Women Pray. My telephone interviews with a governor, some CEOs, actors, sports figures, a college president, and others yielded great stories and information. I promised my intrepid co-author, though, that we could punctuate these conversations with a few visits in person to exciting and exotic places—all with reasonably priced airfares.

“Why don’t we follow each subject as she goes about her daily life? That way our readers get to come along with us and get a behind- the-scenes look at what happens to them. Instead of just a boring interview, we—and our readers—get to hang around with these women, see them in their natural habitat, and even see how other people treat them.”

Although I agreed it was a wonderful approach, this idea of “job-shadowing” each featured subject wasn’t going to be easy. Would these high-powered, important women deign to allow us that kind of access? Would they be able to impart the kind of wisdom that would resonate with our readers and truly make a difference in their lives? We looked at each other, both of us hooked on a crazy idea that we weren’t sure we could pull off.

“It sounds impossible, Darcy,” I said. “We might as well get started.”

And so, we stepped out . . . on faith.

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Bonnie is a 1984 Paralympics silver medal winner in ski racing. Her education includes a degree with honors from Harvard, a Rhodes scholarship, and an M.Litt in Economics from Oxford.  Her career includes positions as an award-winning sales rep for IBM and a Clinton White House member of staff. She now is a much-in-demand speaker, who makes nearly 100 speeches each year to corporations and civic groups. You can visit her on the Web at www.bonniestjohn.com.


Re-printed with permission from How Great Women Lead by Bonnie St. John and Darcy Deane

Exciting News – the latest Pearl Girls book, Mother of Pearl: Luminous Legacies and Iridescent Faith will be released this month! Please visit the Pearl Girls Facebook Page (and LIKE us!) for more information! Thanks so much for your support!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

What I Am Not - Mother's Day Pearl by Tricia Goyer


Welcome to Pearl Girls™ Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series - a week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Sheila Walsh, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Bonnie St. John, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.

AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/6-5/13 and the winner will on 5/14. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.

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And to all you MOMS out there, Happy Mother's Day!

What I Am Not by Tricia Goyer

Becoming a mother is a complicated thing. Not only am I trying to negotiate a relationship with my child, I am trying to negotiate a relationship with myself as I attempt to determine how I mother, how I feel about mothering, how I want to mother and how I wish I was mothered.
— Andrea J. Buchanan, in Mother Shock3

Sometimes the easiest way to discover who we are is to know who we are not.

We are not our children. We all know mothers who go overboard trying to make themselves look good by making their children look great. I saw one woman on the Oprah television show who had bought her preschool daughter more than twelve pairs of black shoes just so the girl could have different styles to go with her numerous outfits! Just as we don’t get report cards for mothering, we also don’t get graded on our child’s looks or accomplishments. While you want your children to do their best and succeed in life, your self-esteem -shouldn’t be wrapped up in your child.

Life as I See It:

My individuality will never end. There will be no one exactly like me, not even my child. She will be like me in some ways, but not at all in others. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
— Desiree, Texas

We are not our mothers. I remember the first time I heard my mother’s voice coming out of my mouth. The words “because I told you so .  .  .” escaped before I had a chance to squelch them.

It’s not until we have kids that we truly understand our mothers — all their frets, their nagging, and their worries.

It’s also then that we truly understand their love.

Since you are now a mother, it’s good to think back on how you were raised. If there were traditions or habits that now seem wise and useful, incorporate them into your parenting. You also have permission to sift out things you now know -weren’t good. Just because you’re a product of your mother, that -doesn’t mean you have to turn out just like her. Repeat after me, “I am not my mother.”

We are not like any other mother out there. Sometimes you may feel like the world’s worst mother. After all, your friend never yells at her son — and sometimes you do. Then again, your friend may feel bad because you have a wonderful bedtime routine that includes stories and songs. In many cases, the moms you feel inferior to only look like they have it together. All moms feel they don’t “measure up.” Instead of feeling unworthy, we should realize that everyone has strengths and weaknesses. The key is where we place our focus.

The Bible says, “Let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without .  .  . comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t” (Romans 12:5 – 6, MESSAGE).

The problem with comparison is, we always measure our weaknesses against the strengths of others.

Instead, we need to thank God for our strengths. We can also ask God to help us overcome our weaknesses — not because we want to compare ourselves, or look good in someone else’s eyes, but because we want to be the best mom out there.

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Tricia Goyer is a CBA best-selling author and the winner of two American Christian Fiction Writers’ Book of the Year Awards (Night Song and Dawn of a Thousand Nights). She co-wrote 3:16 Teen Edition with Max Lucado and contributed to the Women of Faith Study Bible. Also a noted marriage and parenting writer, she lives with her husband and children in Arkansas. You can find her online at www.triciagoyer.com or at her weekly radio show, Living Inspired.



Exciting News – the latest Pearl Girls book, Mother of Pearl: Luminous Legacies and Iridescent Faith will be released this month! Please visit the Pearl Girls Facebook Page (and LIKE us!) for more information! Thanks so much for your support!