Friday, November 30, 2018

Ellie Claire Journal Blog Review


With Christmas just a short three weeks away, I am so excited to share some great gift ideas for the person in your life that loves to journal!

First off, is the Illuminate Your Story Journal.



 Learn to create your own beautiful illuminated letters with this how-to journal.
Use the almost-lost art of illuminating letters to enhance your writing, Bible journaling, or sermon note-taking. Rich illustrated manuscripts in the Museum of the Bible’s collection inspired these gorgeous letters. Easy to follow instructions, practice pages, and encouragements guide you through the creation of amazing start letters, flourishes, and more.
Secondly, is the Faith and Lettering Journal
New from professional letterer Krystal Whitten! With guides, instructions, and tutorials, this is a fun and inspiring way to create beauty with words. It is the perfect place for journalers to practice Bible journaling, lettering quotes and verses, or decorating a page with original thoughts and plans. Exploring your God-given creativity has never been so rewarding.
Finally, there is this stunning item, The Illustrated Word Journal

Create your own masterpiece with this journal that has forty glorious illustrations from ancient manuscripts that have been recreated as line drawings. Just as medieval monks brought Scripture to life through intricate inked illustrations in handwritten manuscripts hundreds of years ago, you can now create your own stunning keepsake that will be treasured for years to come.
My Thoughts:
These are the perfect gift idea for someone in your life that loves to journal. The books include very clear directions and lots of space to practice and will meet the needs of all those who call journalling a hobby, be it a newbie or veteran. 
The Illuminated Word Journal is absolutely breathtaking. Full color illustrations from the archives of the Museum of the Bible draw you to Medieval times of Monks and beautiful art. There is plenty of room to write your thoughts, prayers, doodle or whatever your heart desires. There are plenty of pages to color as well. I am planning to use it for my quiet time and record notes from podcasts I listen to. I did color one page to test out my markers and was pleasantly suprised that no colors bled through, making this a perfect paper thickness for gel pens and journalling pens. It is a beautiful book to be sure and I highly recommend it. 
You can purchase The Illuminated Word Journal here, via Amazon
The Illuminate Your Story Journal was stunning journal to browse through. The colors are relaxing, the pages thick (making it perfect for pens and markers alike) and the size perfect for a tote bag or larger purse. I love that the book took you through the steps to draw the illuminated manuscript, but I especially enjoyed the short history lesson about this type of manuscript. The majority of the book was dedicated to the instructions of drawing the letters, and I wish there was more journaling space available. That was the only downside to this journal. It is visually appealing and the instructions for learning to draw the letters were very straightforward. A really great gift idea for any journaling fan on your Christmas shopping list this year. I highly recommend!
You can purchase the Illuminate Your Story Journal here, via Amazon
Finally, The Faith and Lettering Journal was my favorite of these three beautiful journals. It has a ton of journaling space, and gives you lots of different printing styles to learn. The pages are not as thick as the other two journals I received to review, but still stood up to gel pens very well. 
You can purchase the Faith and Lettering Journal here, via Amazon.
***I received a complimentary set of the above products, courtesy of Worthy Publishing, in exchange for a review on this blog. All thoughts and opinions are my own, and I was not compensated in any other manner***


Saturday, November 24, 2018

Christmas Book List for Preschoolers

For the last 10 years I have counted down to Christmas Day by wrapping favorite children's books and then unwrapping one each day during December. 

This is a tradition that my girls have looked forward to for years. Now that they are getting older, I started doing different things with them instead as a way to countdown. However, I have transferred the book countdown to my family child care program. 

The children are so excited to unwrap a book each day and read it as a group. Each year I have also shared on my blog what books we are reading. This year will be no different. 

So without delay, here are the books we are reading this year. (Note: there are only 15 books as there are only 15 days of child care during the entire month of December before Christmas)

I will include links for each book to be purchased on Amazon for easy shopping purposes. They are also available at your favorite local bookseller or other online retailers.

1. Finding Christmas by Robert Munsch



A very Munsch Christmas! For the first time ever, Canada's best loved author and illustrator team creates a festive story to ring in the holiday season - with all of the zaniness fans have come to expect, of course! Every year Julie finds the Christmas presents her parents hid: in the basement, under the bed, in the garage. But this year it's Christmas Eve and she has found nothing. NOTHING! She's worried - will be there no presents at all? Her investigation takes her to a mysterious box on the rooftop, which - lo and behold - houses all of the gifts! But, in classic Munsch mayhem, she becomes trapped inside, creating the biggest surprise of all for her family on Christmas morning.

2. The Little Red Elf by Barbara Barbieri McGrath



Who will help the little red elf prepare for Christmas?

This clever retelling of "The Little Red Hen" features a little red elf and her lazy friends: the hare, the penguin, and the reindeer. When the cheerful elf can't get help planting the pinecones or decorating the Christmas tree, she knows just how to reward her friends.


3. Snowman at Christmas by Caralyn Buehner



Snowmen at Night shared with us the magical, slip-sliding adventures of snowmen after dark . . . but have you ever wondered what snowmen do for Christmas? Well, now’s your chance to find out! The snowmen are back, and this time they’re celebrating Christmas—the snowman way!

This snappy and entertaining companion to the New York Times bestseller Snowmen at Night depicts all the best parts of the holiday, replete with icy treats and a snowman Kris Kringle. Told in the same bouncy verse as the original, Snowmen at Christmas is perfect for a snowy evening read-aloud.

4. Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney



Llama Llama holidays.
Jingle music. Lights ablaze.
How long till that special date?
Llama Llama has to wait.
If there's one thing Llama Llama doesn't like, it's waiting. He and Mama Llama rush around, shopping for presents, baking cookies, decorating the tree . . . but how long is it until Christmas? Will it ever come? Finally, Llama Llama just can't wait any more! It takes a cuddle from Mama Llama to remind him that "Gifts are nice, but there's another: The true gift is, we have each other."

5. Santa's Favorite Story by Hisako Aoki and Ivan Gantschev



Discover the true meaning of the holidays as Santa Claus retells the story of the first Christmas in this sweet picture book from Hisako Aoki and Ivan Gantschev.

When Santa Claus tells the forest animals that he is not looking forward to delivering all those heavy packages, they are worried that there won’t be a Christmas anymore. To help everyone understand that Christmas would still come even if he didn’t, Santa tells the story of the first Christmas, and they all learn a good lesson about the meaning of this special holiday.


6. The Night Before Christmas by Jan Brett


Jan Brett's Christmas classic is a visual masterpiece and includes a DVD to savor!

One of Jan Brett's all-time bestselling Christmas classics comes to life with this deluxe package that includes a DVD featuring Brett's gorgeous artwork paired with original music performed by the Boston Pops Orchestra, and text read by award-winning narrator Jim Dale. Introduce your family to a holiday tradition they'll treasure for years to come.


7. Pete The Cat Saves Christmas by James Dean and Eric Litwin


Spend the holidays with your favorite blue cat! In this rockin' spin on the traditional tale The Night Before Christmas, Pete the Cat proves that giving your all in the spirit of Christmas is the totally groovy thing to do.
This edition of Pete the Cat Saves Christmas features a gorgeous and ornate foil jacket.
The fun never stops—this book includes a sheet of full-color stickers and a free downloadable song!
'Twas the day before
Christmas and Santa was ill.
In the cold winter wind he
had caught a bad chill.
Will Christmas be canceled?
Will it come to that?
"Never!" cried Santa.
"Let's call Pete the Cat!"

8. Mooseltoe by Margie Palatini
.


Moose thinks he has all his Christmas preparations taken care of, but at the last minute he must come up with a substitute for the Christmas tree.

9. Dashing Through The Snow: A Canadian Jingle Bells by  Helaine Becker and Werner Zimmerman



Jingle Bells, Beaver yells: "Santa's on the way!" Oh what fun it is to ride The jolly True North way, eh? Porcupine and friends are back for more Christmas fun! When Santa's gifts get mixed up, how will the animals figure out which is which? With a lot of mayhem and merriment, of course! The bestselling team of Helaine Becker and Werner Zimmerman bring us another hilarious Canadian Christmas carol, sure to have the whole family singing along. 

10. A Porcupine in a Pine Tree: A Canadian 12 Days of Christmas by Helaine Becker and Helaine Becker



Four calling moose, three beaver tails, two caribou and a porcupine in a pine tree...Celebrate Christmas Canadian-style with this hilarious adaptation of "The Twelve Days of Christmas." You'll find squirrels curling, puffins piping, hockey players a-leaping and more. Helaine Becker and Werner Zimmerman turn the Christmas carol on its head, with a totally Canadian cast of characters wildly romping through the pages. A new holiday classic is born!

11. A Moose in a Maple Tree: The Original All-Canadian 12 Days of Christmas by Troy Townsin


Just released in hardcover with revised illustrations. This best-selling children’s book is already a favourite of people young and old around the globe and its lyrics have been sung in classrooms and assemblies across the country. The book’s endearing use of iconic Canadianisms provides a great tool for young readers developing memory recognition and learning to count. Its comical ending, with all the characters in the tree, provides a captivating look-and-find.



12. If You Take A Mouse to the Movies by Laura Numeroff



Mouse celebrates the holidays in this picture book in the beloved #1 New York Times bestselling If You Give... series!
If you take a mouse to the movies, he'll ask you for some popcorn. If you give him the popcorn, he'll want to string it all together. Then he'll want to hang it on a Christmas tree.
The famous little mouse from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie that has delighted millions of readers is back in an irresistible tale full of holiday antics.

13. I've Seen Santa by David Bedford



Little Bear is so excited about Santa's arrival that he cannot sleep; despite his family's efforts to stay up with him, they all fall asleep beneath the Christmas Tree--but will they wake up in time to see Santa?


14. Is It Christmas Yet? by Jane Chapman



Christmas is coming, and Teddy is so excited, he's just about ready to pop! "Is it Christmas yet?" he cries." "Is it Christmas Yet?" But first, there are presents to wrap, a cake to bake, a tree to decorate - so much to do. Poor Teddy - will it ever be Christmas?

15. The Nutcracker by Anna Luraschi



As the clock strikes midnight on Christmas Eve, Clara's nutcracker toy turns into a prince. He calls for his reindeer and his golden sleigh and whisks Clara away to the mouthwatering Land of Sweets.

Enjoy your last few weeks before Christmas with some great books to read to your children!

Blessings, 

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

A Story of Love Through Foster Care and Adoption

Since November is National Adoption Awareness Month,  I want to share a bit of my family's history with foster parenting and adoption. The following is written by my sister, Kat Skadal, who recently added to her family via adoption.

Foster care will wreck your biological kids...
“I have so many amazing foster/adoptive friends & when I stop to admire them, I remember ‘this is exactly where I came from’. I am the sister of one older adoptive sister, two older biological sisters & two younger medical foster sisters. I remember that I was once the child, just like my own, begging God to give her a baby sister; & just like my own children, God heard my prayer & answered it in the most beautiful way.
In 1996, while my mom was an intensive care nurse at the children’s hospital in our hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, she met the answer to my prayer. She was a gorgeous Inuit baby with black hair, black eyes & cheeks for days. She was an extremely high medical risk baby who had never seen past the four walls of her hospital unit, her life expectancy was nearing its end & no one seemed to think she would have any type of future. Her biological family loved her so much, but due to the remoteness of their town & lack of medical help, she would never be able to go home with them. This is where the mystery of God & his unique plan for our family came in. My mom noticed the longing in this baby’s eyes. The longing for a chance, for love, hope, a mom & a family. The mountains getting Carla out of the hospital seemed insurmountable. In fact, I can clearly remember the first time my mom convinced the hospital to let us take her outside. Then, only by the power of God, they let us take her in the car. When the short ride went well they said ‘yes’ to my Gramma’s house twenty minutes away. Every step was new for her. Although she was 2, It was her first time in a home & her first time being part of a family. While sitting in my Gramma’s living room & watching Carla take in all of her surroundings, I knew my prayer had been answered.
In 1998 God moved another mountain & my parents signed medical foster care placement papers. The following days, weeks & months after coming home were a never-ending experience of new & terrifying exposures for Carla. She was now 3 & had never sat at a table, heard a vacuum, watched a bath tub fill up with water or seen ducks at the park. The years that followed were filled with joy, trainings, accomplishments, tears & countless prayers. Carla had many medical setbacks yet many medical miracles. She recovered from a full spinal fusion in half the time predicted & was able to travel with us to the Caribbean.
In 2002 I went to visit my mom at work. Sitting on a little blue mat was a tiny beautiful baby attached to a feeding tube & ventilator. She had brown hair, deep brown eyes & all she wanted was my mom. I remember my mom squatting down next to me & whispering ‘What do you think?’ I knew exactly what she meant & that our lives would never be the same. My 15-year-old fear saw that this baby girl came with so much equipment & required so much attention, but I knew she needed love, she needed us. The answer was ‘Absolutely Yes’.
In 2003 Sharon came home & she flourished. Within a few months she was off of her ventilator, then walking & soon she appeared to the untrained eye completely healthy. She was fun, full of spunk & brought so much joy to our home. While she appeared to be healthy, she too dealt with large medical needs like Carla. We would spend countless nights with both girls at the hospital. While I was In high school, I would take the bus to school, then downtown to the hospital to relieve my mom & dad, then I’d head back to school in the morning. It didn’t seem unfair that my parents were constantly tending to my sisters, it just seemed right, God had prepared my heart. I found myself equally concerned & committed to them & to our family. I lacked nothing but rather gained everything from this love.
In 2009 I made a big move to Austin, Texas to help launch a new church. There I met Ken & a few months later we were engaged. The first call I made was to my mom & sisters. Sharon, who was now 7, had a big question for me. ‘Kat, can I be your flower girl?’ ‘Yes!’ Was the answer & Carla, now 15, would be my maid of honor.
Just a short two weeks later, in the middle of the night, my sister would change my life again. Sharon would suddenly, & very unexpectedly pass away. I was what seemed like a million miles away & this was the hardest loss of my life. She was only 7, full of life, my future flower girl & now she was gone. I chose to move back home with my mom & Carla, to be with my family & to maintain a long distance engagement. Each day I tried my best to help everyone face the next day.
Slowly, God’s peace & grace covered each of us & a year later I was married. Next to the guest book was Sharon’s bouquet in a beautiful vase that said ‘Our flower girl in Heaven’ & a picture of me holding her. Carla was beaming & with her electric chair, she wheeled down the aisle as my Maid of Honor, filled with pride.
That summer my family would drive all the way down to spend a few weeks exploring Texas with me in my new home. We made memories, laughed & laughed while enjoying every moment together.
The next spring, we welcomed our son Shepherd. In between labor & horrible contractions, Carla called to talk to me. I tried explaining to my mom that it was not the right time to talk but Carla was persistent. ‘Kat, Kat, listen to me…. Just breathe you can do this.’ My baby sister was coaching me a country away & just hours before her 16th birthday, something she would never let me live down. Our first son was born & she was so proud to be an aunt again, she loved our son dearly. We were blessed to be able to travel & visit my family several times that first year with Shep. Carla doted on him & loved showing him off at her high school.
Just after his first birthday I got an overwhelming feeling that we needed to go home. Within days we were home & enjoying being back with my mom, Carla & family. That week my mom happened to be working a lot, so Carla, Shep and I spent all of our time together. We went on dates & walks. We spent the evenings playing Yahtzee, laughing & cuddling.
Then, four days into our trip, while at school, my baby sister suffered a cardiac arrest.
We had four more days with her in the ICU. I spent time doing big sister things for her. Painting her nails, combing her hair, making foot prints & giving her all of our messages for Sharon. Then, right there, in that same hospital I had met her fifteen years before, God gave me the greatest privilege of my life. With our worship pastor behind us singing Amazing Grace, I was able to help hold my little sister as Jesus carried her away.
After my sister’s passing I knew without a doubt that God wanted to use us again. In 2016 my family signed our first foster placement paperwork. Since then we have experienced the logging, appointments, visits, the joys & pain of reunification. Even after loss we said ‘Absolutely Yes!’ when asked to try again. Then, this past June, God blessed us with the beautiful gift of adoption.
I miss my sisters every single day. I long for the day we will be together without separation, sadness, sickness or pain. As I reflect on my journey to becoming a big sister: all the appointments, workers, training, sacrifice, pain, & prayers, I’ll conclude with this-I would say ‘Absolutely Yes’ all over again to being a big sister, a foster sister & a foster mom. These are the greatest honors & joys of my life.”


Thursday, November 1, 2018

National Adoption Awareness Month 2018




November is National Adoption Awareness Month!

If you ask people in your family or friend circles if they know someone who is adopted there is a good chance they would answer yes.

1 in 5 Canadians are touched by adoption in some way.

6 in 10 Americans have personal experience with adoption.

This means they are adopted themselves, are adoptive parents, have a sibling who is adopted, are birth parents or birth relatives or know of a friend who is adopted.

I happen to fall into a few of those categories. I was adopted as an infant/toddler, and one of my sister's is an adoptive parent (as well as having been a foster parent).  My own parents have also been long term foster parents previously. And I know a few friends who have adopted children over the years.

Adoption changes lives.

It allows a couple who cannot conceive to have a child.

It allows a child who has an uncertain future to have a future.

It allows a family with children to learn about compassion and empathy.

It shows a woman who cannot care for her child that there is no judgement in her circumstances.

It allows a child to build resiliency and overcome even the toughest of situations

It allows families to develop a sense of diversity and inclusion

It teaches us about the sovereignty of God and His hand on people's lives.

It reminds us that even when we cannot adopt we can support those who do, and support those who care for those in both the foster system and on the adoption journey.

Join me this month as I share parts of my own adoption story and other's journeys through adoption. Throughout the month I will be sharing ways to help those on the journey and resources about adoption, both in the United States and Canada.

Blessings,

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Fave Fall Recipes!

Autumn is one of my favorite times of year!

From the amazing colors to yummy smelling baking to all things pumpkin spice, my senses go into overdrive this time of year. And the one way that I find myself exploring this season with my senses is through baking and cooking.

In any given search on the internet there are literally thousands of recipes for soups, casseroles, breads and so much more that bring in the smells of Autumn. Whether it is a great soup or banana bread or even homemade pumpkin spice lattes, one does not need to look far to be satisfied.

Today I am going to share a few of my favorite recipes for Autumn eating! Enjoy, and if you share these please note where you found the recipes in order that the original posters receive full credit.

1. Zucchini Bread



This zucchini bread recipe will help you utilize this great vegetable that has so much diverse uses. I have been using this particular recipe for about seven years now and its one of the only ways my children will eat zucchini!

Check it out Mom's Zucchini Bread at  All Recipes here.

2. Cabbage Roll Soup




I have been following the blog, Simply Stacie, for almost as long as I have been blogging (about 10 years) and she has had many amazing recipes over the years. By far though my favorite is her recipe for Cabbage Roll Soup. It is the perfect recipe for cool fall suppers, for church potlucks and weekend company. Match with homemade biscuits and a simple tossed salad and your meal is complete.

Check out the recipe for Cabbage Roll Soup here at Simply Stacie today!

3. Waffles


Waffles are a year-round favorite of both my family and the children in my family child care program. They are easy to make and you can add all kinds of toppings to satisfy all the needs of your loved ones. One thing that I especially love about waffles and pancakes is that you can add whatever spices or seasonings into them to change up the taste. My favorite Autumn themed way to do this is to use Epicure Seasoning Pumpkin Pie Spice. It is Gluten Free, MSG Free, Non-GMO and very inexpensive, lasting a long time as you only need to use a little in the batter to make a big difference. It also only has 1g of carbs, so for me as a diabetic,  it's a perfect item to add a little sweetness to my drinks and mealsThe best thing about waffles is they are able to freeze, making it an easy breakfast or snack item. I also cut my waffles in strips, making them waffle sticks and freezing them too!

My favorite recipe for waffles is this one from Betty Crocker!

4. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies


As a family child care educator and provider I am always on the hunt for delicious, healthy snack ideas for the children I teach. I bake and cook primarily from scratch, because I know exactly what is in the items I am serving and it helps me to feed even the most picky of taste buds. One of my favorite go-to website is Happy Hooligans. They have activities, advice and even recipes for both parents and educators alike. One of the children's favorite foods is chocolate chip cookies and with pumpkin spice everything being my favorite, I decided to see if Happy Hooligans had a recipe for cookies that could cover both favorites. They did! It is super delicious and the children always ask for more than one. The recipe makes a ton, and they are great to freeze too for future use.

Check out the recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies here, on the Happy Hooligans blog!

5. Soft and Chewy Granola Bars



With school back in full swing now over the last two months, I have a favorite go-to homemade granola bar. It is soft, no-bake, and freezes absolutely wonderfully. It is super flexible so you can add whatever filling you want, be it chocolate chips, cranberries, etc to meet the needs of your family. I got the recipe from a day home provider friend (check out her resource page here for some amazing tried and true recipes. I have make many of them with great success) and I have already passed it on to several people in my circles.

To create the mini granola bar bites that I make, I use the Perfect Petite Pan from Epicure Selections. It is silicone and I freeze the bars right in the pan, then transfer them to a freezer safe container for storage after! Each pan makes 30 bars at once. It is also super easy to clean and store.

Here is the recipe for Soft and Chewy Granola Bars:

 ¼ cup butter cut into pieces
 2 ½ cups old fashioned rolled oats
 1/3 cup honey
 ½ cup dried cranberries (coarsely chopped)
 ¼ cup packed brown sugar
 ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp mini chocolate chips
 ½ tsp vanilla extract 
¼ tsp salt

 Combine butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla extract and the salt in a small saucepnan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until butter melts and sugar completely dissolves. Pour butter mixture into bowl with oats. Mix well. Let cool about 5 minutes then add cranberries and ¼ cup of the mini chocolate chips. Stir to combine. Firmly press into a lined pan or silicone tray (we like the Ikea ice trays). Press hard and well. Scatter remaining chocolate chips over the top- press well. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours. Store in an air tight container for up to one week.
 (Modified from) inspiredtaste.net

Well I hope you will take a chance to make these great recipes and enjoy them as much as my family does. Let me know in the comments or on the Facebook page if you do!

Blessings,

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

I'm Back!

As anyone who has followed my blog for sometime has likely noticed, posts have become increasingly sporadic in the last few years.

This is due mostly to seasons of life changing and life just being busier with my home business and family.  Through the last year I have been thinking and brainstorming about the direction the blog has headed and how I want to use it. Rather, how I want God to use it. I have cut down the number of reviews I have been doing and instead I am going to focus on life as a work at home mom, Christian mom, wife and woman and in particular as a mom of a tween daughter and pre-teen daughter. I am going to share articles I love, reviews of items that relate to me at this point in my life journey, recipes and many other things.

Keep an eye out in the future for more blog posts to come!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

13 Years of Hope

13 years.....

3 Words....

A Life Changed forever...

And nothing would be the same again....

"You have cancer"

My heart sank and I felt like crawling under a rock and pretending that what my oncologist was saying was not true. I did not want to hear it or believe it. It could't be. I was a relatively healthy young woman, in the prime of my life. With dreams, desires and hopes that with that little phrase was seemingly on hold. Had been married for 7.5 years and a whole life ahead.

My journey had started the summer of 2004 when I discovered a little lesion. While it was annoying, I was not overly concerned because as quick as it appeared, it disappeared. However, in January 2005 it returned and within a couple months I knew this was something that was not normal.

For a bit of a back story, my husband and I were in the midst of our journey with infertility, and at this point it had been about 3.5 years of wondering, testing and thinking if we would ever be parents. We had a wonderful fertility specialist in Winnipeg, and at my April 2005 appointment I mentioned my concerns. He examined me and I will never forget the words out of his mouth, and the subsequent look of fear on my husband's face. "I want to send you to Cancer Care for a biopsy". That sentence scared me more than anything had ever to that point. After chatting a few moments, he placed his hand on my shoulder and said, "let's get this cleared up and then we can get that baby!"

Hope in midst of uncertainty was what I needed and what my husband and I needed. And God knew that. The compassion given to us that day set us up for the journey of the next 11 months.  I remember crying in the car as we drove to tell my parents what was going on. Yet with tears there was hope. Hope given from hugs, prayers and words of encouragement.  Two weeks after that appointment I had my biopsy and two weeks later (the longest two weeks of my entire life thus far) I was officially given the diagnosis with my mom by my side.

 Stage 1 Squamous Cell cancer. A cancer seen typically in post menopausal, smoking women over 50 years of age. None of which I was. The youngest woman in the Province  with this type of cancer(of course, leave it to me!). Yet, hope came in the words of the oncologist, "I am 95% sure we can get this with surgery only". Now, most doctors won't use numbers especially when talking about cancer. They don't want to give too much hope as cancer can be so unpredictable and they are afraid of giving false hope. So for this doctor to use numbers meant hope.

It was the time period between the diagnosis and surgery that gave me the most hope. My family and husband had organized a night of prayer on my behalf at my parents house. There was both Christians and non-Christians present, as some of my family are not believers. This was a time for prayer for healing, hope, peace and calm. It was shortly after this night, that I was often asked how I was staying calm in the midst of life changing news. Hope. Plain and simple. Hope in Him who created me and would carry me through, whatever His will was to me. I would trust in Him.

The beginning of June 2005 brought surgery to remove the cancer. It was successful and thankfully lymph node removable was not necessary. I spent the month of July recovering (and told my pathology reports showed zero cancer) and in August 2005 went back to work as an Early Childhood Educator at a city day care. From July on, I was to go for checks every three months. So in October 2005 and January 2006 I was given the news of all clears! Great news!  In January, we also begin to see the fertility specialist as I was given the all clear to continue our journey to getting pregnant.\The next three months followed with tests, temperature taking, and charting to figure things out. Hope still remained even in uncertainty.

April 2006 I had appointments with both the oncologist and the fertility specialist. The morning appointment gave great news that there was no signs of cancer and I continued to heal nicely. The afternoon appoint was less joyful, finding out test results that indicated that my chances of conceiving was only 50% due to ovulation problems. So we left the doctors office a little sad, yet we had hope. Hope that his hand would be on us. And that He would guide us to what our hearts desired. Little did we know our answer would come later that day.

On the way home from the fertility office, I had complained to Art about not feeling great, being sore and just yucky feeling. In the course of discussion, we suspected perhaps I could be pregnant. We had been here before. Doing tests with hope and then having our hopes dashed. Over and over negative results would dash dreams, but not hope. We knew over the last 4.5 years that God hear our prayers and would answer them in His way, and in His time. And that day He did. We tested positive for a pregnancy on April 17th 2006. We were so surprised, I did two tests. Then we held each other and cried. Tears of joy, and then we laughed. We laughed not in disbelief but in the timing. We had literally just been at the fertility specialist, who did all the test but that one important one. After gaining composure we went over to my parents and told them the great news.

Answered prayers abounded. In 11 months I went from being diagnosed with cancer, to being healed and then getting pregnant with no medical intervention. Hope in uncertainty abounded. We went through the next few months with a typical pregnancy until my 29th week when due to a partial placental abruption, I needed to have an emergency c-section. This after only getting diagnosed with gestational diabetes three weeks earlier. Yet, despite uncertainty there remained Hope. After 8 weeks in NICU we finally brought our baby girl home! She was healthy, happy and we were a 3 person family. Hope was there in the hospital with each day our little girl grew and beat the odds.  We decided that when Makayla Rose was a year old, we would start trying for another child. This time I got pregnant within two months of trying and in July 2008, Isabella Grace joined our family. That pregnancy was tough, and uncertain with with having insulin dependant gestational diabetes and gall stones. Yet Hope remained in the uncertainty.

Since 2007 our family has been dealt with much uncertainty and tough stuff. I have lost grandparents, two siblings, watched my parents marriage end, my husband's mom and niece passed away, as well as other relatives,  and had our own marriage crisis. I was also diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. and now live with that on a daily basis. However, in spite of all that chaos, hurt, pain, and much uncertainty at times, Hope Remained. And Hope will remain.

I know that it is only because of my hope in Him who gives hope that my family and I have come through the last 13 years.

 It has been hard, very hard at times, but still filled with Hope.

 And finding joy in the everyday.

In laughter, hugs, words of encouragement, phone calls, hanging out with friends, snuggles with my girls, reading a good book, date nights, and resting in Him.

In the last 13 years, I have clung to my life verse:

Be Joyful in Hope
Patient in Tribulation
Constant in Prayer

Romans 12:12

With Mother's Day only a few days away, I am reminded of  my journey to motherhood and think of those that have also struggled in their own journey's. I pray for those women who have lost babies before they had a chance to be born,  who have never been pregnant or have lost their children, as well as those who are on the journey to adoption to be a mother. And I think of those who have lost their own mothers. Hope in Him, give Him your heart and He will carry you. 

What a 13 years of Hope it has been and I look forward to seeing all that God has in store for me from this point on.


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Why Motherhood Matters: A Book Review

About The Book:

Mama, Your Work Has Deep Worth
Do you ever wonder if your efforts as a mom make any difference? 

Take heart. Whether you’re struggling through sleepless nights with your toddler or endless battles with your teen, September McCarthy’s story offers practical insights and powerful inspiration to encourage you on your own mothering journey. 

As a mom for 25 years who continues to raise young children and love her young adults, September imparts words of wisdom and grace in key areas of Christian parenting, including…
  • faith—getting honest with your family about your need for Jesus
  • wellness—learning to take care of your kids…and yourself
  • education—raising a new generation with creativity and character
  • relationships—speaking to the heart of your children in unique ways
In these pages you’ll find sweet anecdotes and gentle guidance for those moments you need both a breather and a lifeline. Motherhood is an incredible labor of love—and in the scope of eternity, it matters more than you know.
You can read an excerpt of this book, here, in PDF format
About The Author:
September McCarthy believes every woman needs someone to speak into her life with understanding and truth. She encourages women in each season of motherhood through her blog One September Day and her ministry Raising Generations Today. As a speaker and writer, her vision and mission is for the generations. September lives in rural Upstate New York with her husband and their large family. Visit www.septembermccarthy.com for more information.
My Review:
Parenting is so full of joys but it is also full of stressful, sometimes very difficult times. We all come from different situations and all have things we can teach one another. And this book is another such way that we can learn from one another. Author September McCarthy has come before us with tricks and ideas that will help those of us struggling in our journey's as mom. Helping us find purpose and understand why it matters what we do. She writes in an amazing, relational way that is raw and honest. This allows the reader to relate and know that we all have experienced good and bad but we have a purpose to hang on to our faith in Jesus and that He will carry us. A very inspiring read to be sure! 
I highly recommend this book and give it a huge thumbs up.
BUY IT: You can purchase Why Motherhood Matters at your favorite Christian book retailer from Harvest House Publishers
***I received a complimentary copy of this book, courtesy of the publisher, for the purpose of review on this blog. All opinions expressed are my own and I have not been compensated in any other manner***

Monday, November 27, 2017

The God Guarantee: A Book Review

About The Book:

Do you have enough . . . resources, time, love, relationships, margin?

Most of us would live, love, and give differently if we knew God would provide for all our needs. In The God Guarantee, you will

· discover God's four-step pattern of provision
· understand how a secularized worldview exacerbates the wealth-poverty gap
· see how to avoid both a scarcity mind-set rooted in fear and a faulty prosperity gospel
· learn how to improve your intimacy with the God who provides

You can find freedom from the fear of not having enough!


You can read an excerpt of this book here, in PDF format

About The Author:

Jack Alexander is chairman of the Reimagine Group and has rich experience leading a variety of businesses. A previous recipient of an Ernst & Young National Entrepreneur of the Year Award, he is a regular speaker, coach, and advisor. He and his wife, Lisa, live in Atlanta. They have three grown sons and five grandchildren.

My Review:

A wonderful read that reminds of the blessings that come when we are obedient to God in what He asks of us. The author does a wonderful job at conveying thoughts around these themes and showing us the connection between generosity and God's capacity in our lives so that we can live intimately with Him and others.

I give this book a thumbs up and highly recommend it. 

BUY IT: You can purchase The God Guarantee at a book retailer from Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group

***I received a complimentary copy of this book, courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications Inc., for the purpose of review on this blog. All opinions expressed are my own and I have not been compensated in any other manner***

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Walk It Out: A Book Review

About The Book:

Women often pack their lives with family, friends, and faithful service, yet still end up feeling empty and unfulfilled. In Walk It Out, Tricia Goyer demonstrates to women that walking out the mandates of Scripture allows God to spark passion and mission within them.
 
Whether believers realize it or not, God intended for them to do what the Bible says: adopt the orphan, take the gospel into all the world, and care for the needy. These are mandates that point believers down the path of true living and eternal life.
 
Sometimes those steps are easy, but many times they require a move outside of what feels safe or secure. When women stop focusing on their own dreams and purposes, and instead focus on God’s dreams and purposes, everything changes.


You can read the first chapter of Walk It Out here, in PDF format


About The Author:

Tricia Goyer is a driven, passionate, and charismatic author with a detail-focused approach to her unique blend of storytelling. A prolific writer, she's published well over 60 books. Tricia's writing style is vivid and heartwarming, allowing readers to take home more than engaging stories, but also inspiring messages of faith and hope. Tricia is a homeschooling mom of ten, grandmother of three, and wife to John. She is the founder of Hope Pregnancy Center in Kalispell, Montana and leads a teen mom support group in Little Rock, Arkansas.

My Review:

I was incredibly blessed to be a part of the launch team for Tricia Goyer's most recent book release, Walk It Out. This book is written in a conversational manner and I felt like I was sitting with Tricia, drinking tea and learning all about how God used her and her family for His purpose. It was a great read to see her A-ha moments and how she moved to obedience and walks out her faith daily, whether its with her large family, the teen MOPS group or through her books. The book encouraged me to listen to the pushing of the God in my life too and to trust Him even when I may not see the whole picture. The most important take away from the book for me was to re-examine my activities and life and evaluate it as to the purpose of them in regards to doing His work. A great read that has impacted me immensely.

I highly recommend this book and give it a huge thumbs up. 

BUY IT: You can purchase Walk It Out at your favorite book retailer from David C. Cook

***I received a complimentary copy of this book, courtesy of the author and David C. Cook, for the purpose of review on this book. All opinions expressed are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner***