Monday, December 31, 2012

The Best Books for Working Moms

This post is a little tricky to write because, to be honest with you, there aren't a lot of books for working moms.  You'll find some here and there, but they are few and far between...which is exactly why I decided to make working moms a major focus here on my blog. 

Some of my biggest struggles as a working mom are with time management and home management.  There are so many things that need to be done every time, but limited time to do it all.  There are a few fantastic books that I would recommend:
  1. Taking Care of the Me in Mommy (Lisa Whelchel) - One of the best, most practical books I've ever read!  I've put so many of Lisa's ideas into practice.  In fact, this is the book that inspired my prayer journal.
  2. Tell Your Time - Great tips on time management
  3. What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast - I recommend this for working moms AND for anyone doing the Hello Mornings challenge!  Very inspiring.
  4. Organizing From the Heart - I'm reading this right now, and it's making me look at homemaking in a totally different light. 
What are your favorite books for working moms?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Counting My Blessings

This Christmas, I am a very thankful momma.  This has been a wild and crazy year, full of ups and downs for our family...but I'm thankful.  We've grown stronger through the hard times, we've grown more grateful in the good times, and most of all, God never let us go.

Now I'm on my month-long Christmas break from school, and I'm enjoying every second of it.  I'm also staying busy planning and prepping for the first few months of 2013 (and my LAST semester of college!).  I'm reorganizing my coupon stuff, planning a monthly menu, cleaning, decluttering, working on and planning for my blog, writing, and enjoying my family.

This was the scene at our house this weekend - brothers baking cookies as the puppy stood guard, just in case anything fell.  It makes me happy.  Life is good.  God is good.  I'm counting my blessings this Christmas season.

Wishing you and your family a very merry Christmas!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mexican Egg Rolls

If you're like me, you don't have a lot of time to cook right now.  Balancing Christmas parties, shopping and wrapping gifts with work, home, and family leaves very little time for cooking.  This recipe is fast, easy, and delcious - my whole family loves it, kids included.

·         2 c. cooked diced chicken breast
·         2 c. shredded Monterey jack or Mexican cheese blend
·         1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
·         1 can whole kernel corn, drained
·         1/2 chopped red bell pepper
·         4-5 diced green onions
·         2 garlic cloves, minced
·         1/2 tsp. salt
·         1/2 tsp. pepper
·         1/2 tsp. chili powder
·         1 tsp. cumin
·         1 (16 oz) package egg roll wrappers
·         Oil for frying 

  1.       Mix all ingredients together.
2.       Moisten the edges of an egg roll wrapper and put approximately 2 tbsp. of filling in the middle.
3.       Fold like you would fold an eggroll.  (Picture and directions are on egg roll package.)
4.       Make sure the flap is sealed.
  5.       Heat oil and cook egg rolls until golden brown; drain on paper towels.
6.       Serve with sour cream.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

10 Awesome Kids Ministry Finds

I'm so excited to be leading our church children's ministry again, after taking a year off to get through the hardest part of the dental hygiene program.  I really missed it!  Kids ministry has been my passion since I was 12 years old, when a wonderful pastor's wife introduced me to it by letting me help with puppets. 

I've got tons of new ideas to try!  Here are some awesome products and ideas that I'm either already using, or I've recently ordered for my classes, or that I'm working into my budget for the future...
  1. Drama Tool Kit from Awesome Video Stuff - If you're short on time, skip to Backdrops Vol. 2 and watch the sample...I can't wait to teach about the burning bush or the pillar of fire once I get this program!
  2. Animated Bible Maps from Awesome Video Stuff - Wow, talk about making the Bible come to life...when I get this one, my husband and I may be fighting for custody of it - he wants it for his sermons, too!
  3. Child Training Bible - What a great concept for kids and parents to easily look things up!  I'm thinking about helping the parents in our church make their own.
  4. PrayKids curriculum - I'm going to work this in as a part of our regular weekly lessons, spending about 10 minutes per week on it.  It teaches big concepts and big truths in a kid-friendly way.
  5. Hillsongs Kids Worship - I already have two of their DVD's and am about to buy more.  Their kids worship songs are just as amazing as their adult worship songs!
  6. Voice of the Martyrs: Kids of Courage - It's been a long time since I found such an amazing resource to use when teaching missions to kids.  Tons of great resources to teach kids about the persecuted church and missions.
  7. High Point curriculum - I've been using this for a while, and I love it!  It's a little pricey, but it's so easy to work with, and completely adaptable to whatever group size you're working with.
  8. Boys and Girls Missionary Challenge (BGMC) - The best kids missions program ever!  Not only does it teach kids about missions, but it encourages kids to give to missions, and shows them how the money they give is changing kids lives!
  9. Welcome to Holsom comics - My 10 year old LOVES this great comic book series from Gospel Publishing House!  These Christian-themed comics are great for outreach, Sunday School, children's church and more. 
  10. What's in the Bible - I've been a huge VeggieTales since they were just getting started (and I was a teenager, lol), and this series from Phil Vischer is just as awesome.  I was amazed at how much my children's ministry kids learned when we went through unit one.  They were rattling off things like "septuagent" and "primevil history" - wow!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Little Christmas Vacation Reading List

I'm so excited about the beginning of Christmas break!  Once I take my last final of the semester on Tuesday morning, I'm free!  What to do with all that time normally taken up by studying?  For a book lover like me, the only answer is READ.  I always have a long list of books, and I know I'll never get through them all, but here's a sample of what I want to get to on my break...

What reading list would be complete without at least one book from my favorite I'll start my list with THREE, thank you.
  1. Mortal - Ted Dekker
  2. The Sanctuary - Ted Dekker
  3. Identity - yes, another by Ted Dekker
  4. Opening Moves - Steven James
  5. Comes a Horseman - Robert Liparulo
  6. Rest - Keri Wyatt Kent
  7. Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl - Lysa Terkeurst
  8. Grace for the Good Girl - Emily P. Freeman
To get through my list, that will mean two books a week over break.  I'm not sure that I'll get them all, but it's not unrealistic to shoot for half that list.  I can't wait!  What will you be reading this Christmas?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Lessons I Didn't Want To Learn

It's been a tough month for me...a tough two weeks especially.  God has been teaching me lessons that I didn't really want to learn.  He's been teaching me to fail.

I've spent the past 2 1/2 years in school - first taking prerequisites for the dental hygiene program, then working through the program.  Now, with a nightmare semester coming to an end, I'm not sure I'll move on the final semester.  I've dealt with numerous patient cancellations and patients arriving late for appointments.  I failed a skill test and had to retake it.  I've struggled to find the patients I need to meet requirements.  Now it all comes down to today and whether or not I can finish.  It's possible...but it's going to be hard.  It's scary that it's really completely out of my control.

I have no idea where I'll be at the end of the day today.  I have no idea what's next for me.  It's terrifying.  Before dental hygiene school, I held a life-long 4.0 GPA.  It was down to a 3.5 before this semester started, and it will drop lower than that once grades are posted.  Over the past year and a half, I've failed both written tests and skill tests.  It's hard.  It's humbling.  It's something I did not want to learn.  But apparently, God thinks it's important for me.

A couple of weeks ago, after I failed that skill test, I was praying, crying, and begging God for a reason.  "What are You trying to teach me?" I asked.  He didn't give me the kind of answer I was expecting...I'm learning that He seldom does...instead, He answered with His own question:

"Do you trust Me?"
Maybe that's the answer...maybe this is all so I will learn to lean totally on Him, doing nothing in my own strength or ability. Maybe I'll never really know why. Either way, all I can do right now is cling to Him and His grace.  It's all I can hang onto right now as I wait to see what the future holds.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thankful for Thanksgiving

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  We did.  I enjoyed a much-needed break from school, got some Black Friday shopping done, and got caught up a little bit at home.  I had to share pictures from our puppy's first Thanksgiving ever...I'm loving my new iPhone and all the fun Instagram apps!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The High Calling

I was recently introduced to a great website, The High Calling.  This site is so practical!  I checked out their newsletter and I'm very impressed!  The articles apply to my everyday life, covering many aspects of Christian life, from work to family to culture.  There are lots of great resources that are perfect for working moms.  I think The High Calling fills a much-needed gap.  I hope you'll stop by and check out their main page and their newsletter.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Time to Re-focus

It’s so easy to let life get out of focus.  When you balance family, home, work, church, and more every day, important things can slip off our radar screen before we even notice they’re gone.  We can get so wrapped up in the good things that we let go of the best things.

I sat down this weekend and really took a hard look at where I am in regard to my goals and priorities.  Let’s just say I’m not where I want to be.  My extreme stress levels and bad habits are taking a toll on my body, from aches to trouble sleeping to anxiety attacks.  My scattered mind is struggling to focus on anything for more than a few minutes at a time.  I have a lot of good things going – family, teaching children’s church, school, writing, and more – but I realized that some of the best things – like my times with God and my workouts - are slipping away from me.

It’s time to re-prioritize some things.  For me, that means time with God and time to work out are essential to every single day.  I’ve been struggling lately with old issues that I thought I’d moved past.  As I wondered why, it dawned on me that my time with God has gotten shorter and shorter as the past few weeks have rolled by.  No wonder I’m struggling!  My fitness routine has totally gone by the wayside.  I’m six months away from graduating as a dental hygienist – a physically demanding job (and mentally exhausting while I’m in school!).  If I don’t make sure I am healthy and fit, I may not have a long career.

My goals for this week are simple: (1) Daily time with God (2) Exercise 3 days (3) Write most days - I'm shooting for every day, but I know that's not always going to happen.  I’m going to start simple and stay simple.  The biggest change will be that I want to eventually work out 5-6 days a week.  I'm pinning workouts and checking out YouTube - it won't happen without planning!

Friday, November 9, 2012

When God Sings To You

I'm excited to post today at Must Love God!  I'm sharing about the that times that God has sent just what I needed to hear, at just the right time.  I hope you'll jump over to MLG and take a look.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Giving Our Kids a Heart for Missions

One of my greatest passions is leading our children's ministry at our church.  I got involved with kids ministry when I was kid myself - I was 12 when our pastor's wife asked me to help with puppets, and I've been involved with it ever since.

Missions is a huge focus of our children's ministry.  I firmly believe that if we instill a passion for missions now, when our kids are young, it will stay with them for life.  On the first Sunday of each month, we dedicate our entire lesson to missions, focusing on a specific country and the work being done there.  We have a snack from that country and hear a true story from missionaries there. 

Two amazing resources that I use every month are BGMC and Kids of Courage.  BGMC (Boys and Girls Missionary Challenge) is the Assembly of God kids missions program.  Kids all over the U.S. regularly give to missions through this program.  Not only does it get kids involved in giving, it also teaches them to have a heart for missions.  Kids of Courage is the kids portion of Voice of the Martyrs.  They focus on countries where Christians are persecuted for their faith, but they present the information in a kid-friendly format.  Both websites are full of great ideas!

Getting involved in missions may seem intimidating, but there are so many simple ways to do it.  A few ideas to get started:
  1. Choose a missionary that your church supports and send them a care package and a note of encouragement.
  2. Pack a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child
  3. Choose a country from Kids of Courage to study together as a family
  4. Set a goal as a family to give a certain amount of money for missions, then work together to earn it
  5. Post a map somewhere in your home and pray for a different country each day
What is your family doing to focus on missions?  I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Working Moms Myths

This is from a post that I originally wrote on my previous blog.  Have you dealt with these misconceptions about working moms?  How do you deal with criticism from others?

Working Moms Myths

1. Working moms choose to work.I heard that for years, and was even guilty of feeling that way myself - until I had to go back to work.  Most working moms work because they have to, not because they want to. Many of my friends are the co-breadwinner or the primary breadwinner in their family. Their husbands work, too - the wife just happens to be in a field that earns more money or is in higher demand. Or in some cases, she is a single mom, and is therefore the sole source of income for her children.  Some moms do choose to work and truly feel called to work, but at least in my experience, the majority of working moms don't have a choice.

2. Working moms could cut back their standard of living and stay home.
Again, most moms work because they have to. They struggle to stay within their budget, just like SAHM's. They clip coupons, shop from clearance racks, and plan their shopping trips carefully. They are working for living expenses, not extras and "toys."  Someone asked me recently why I don't just quit my job and focus on school.  I replied, "Because if I quit my job, I'll have to quit school - I don't work for extra money, I work because we have to have the money."

3. Working moms don't put their family first.
If staying home means your family going under financially, then going to work is putting your family first. As a working mom, I put priority on spending time with my family on my days off and in the evenings. Family mealtimes are important, and I spend every moment I can with my husband and kids. I even chose a career that allows a lot of flexibility so that I can be with my family more.

4. Housekeeping is easier for working moms because no one is home all day.
Same amount of chores - drastically less time to do them. Enough said.

5. Working moms have lots of support.
Do a Google search for Christian working mom. You'll find
a great website by Kimberly Chastain on the first two links...on the third, you'll find an article stating that a woman's only roles in life should be to "get married, have children, guide the house, and live a perfect testimony so not once can the adversary (Satan) say anything reproachful about you." There is so little support out there for Christian moms who work outside the home. Critics are isn't.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Beautiful Way to Pray for Your Kids

As I've mentioned before, nothing moves this momma to tears quite like the subject of praying for my kids.  I loved this idea the moment I saw it.  In fact, I loved it so much that I'm planning this as a project in our children's church class...

You can check it out here:

What verses will you be praying for you kids?  I'm praying over the perfect ones for my boys right now...I can't wait to make these!

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Easiest Slow Cooker Meal Ever!

I am all about cooking with a slow cooker, or crock pot, or whatever you prefer to call it.  My slow cooker is the queen of my kitchen - in fact, my husband often jokes that we wouldn't eat without it.  It's a working mom's best friend.  Most of the time, I use mine two to three times a week.  I'm always on the hunt for new recipes to try.

This is seriously the easiest slow cooker meal in the world.  Are you ready?
  • One and a half to two pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • One bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce
Put them in slow cooker, turn it on low, and ignore it for ten hours...then shred up your yummy barbecue chicken.  This is great with potato salad and other barbecue fixings, or serve it up on a sandwich with some chips on the side.  I always have enough left over to make a second meal (which is always a plus) and the entire family loves it.  Fast, easy, cheap, and can't beat that combination.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Little Girl Who Dreamed Big Dreams

I stumbled across something recently, while I was saving documents from my laptop onto a flash drive.  I found an awesome poem template a while back as part of a blog hop, and I saved both the template and my poem.  The poem itself is a little long to share, but the main part that struck me is the end…

… from the little girl who dreamed big dreams and prayed big prayers and still stands amazed that God did so much more than she ever dreamed of, whose heart is full and happy.
I texted my childhood best friend the other day.  We’ve been friends since we were 10 years old…over 20 years ago…wow, that makes me feel old!  Even though we live several hours apart now, we’ve kept in touch over the years, both online and by phone, still getting together whenever we can.  As we chatted, I thought about how far God has brought us. 
We both came from broken homes…her parents were divorced, and my grandparents raised me.  We spent hours talking as kids about our dreams for the future – dreams that included happy marriages and normal families, things we didn’t see in our homes, things that other people took for granted.  We cried a lot of tears together and held each other up through some pretty tough times.
Now we talk about our husbands – both of us married for 12 years, our anniversaries just a month apart – and our kids, two each.  We talk about our careers – she is in nursing, and I am (almost) in dental hygiene – just seven more months!  We talk about missions trips – she’s signed up for one next year, and I’m looking into a possible one.  God has brought us so far.  It hasn’t always been easy – both of us have hit some major bumps in the road along the way – but God has been faithful.  So faithful…so much more than I ever could have dreamed as a little girl in a little town in south Arkansas.

Despite all His faithfulness, it’s easy to forget…when stress takes over and deadlines loom and life runs me ragged, it’s easy to forget how far He has brought me.  But I can’t forget.  He’s been too good for me to forget.  One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my life is this: Don’t give up, no matter how bad things seem, because He is faithful.  Dare to dream big dreams, and see what He can do!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Win Jesus Calling for Your Teen!

Jesus Calling is my very favorite devotional – now your kids can make it part of their quiet time, too!  I was so excited to get the chance to review a copy for Tommy Nelson.  I chose Jesus Calling for teens, and although my oldest is not quite a teenager, he loves it!

Jesus Calling for teens is basically the full Jesus Calling devotional, with a fun design for a younger audience.  Your child doesn’t have to be a teen to love this book.  My oldest son is 10 years old and doing 6th grade homeschool work, and he has been reading this on his own every night.  He’s told me several times how much he loves it, and how each day when he reads, it seems to be just what he needed to hear that day.
You can check out more about it by checking out the Flipbook or visiting the Thomas Nelson website.
To enter, like the Jesus Calling Facebook page and leave a comment below!
For extra entries: (Please leave a comment for each one that you do)
  1. Subscribe to Grace in Our Moments
  2. Like the Grace in Our Moments Facebook page
  3. Share this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog
 This contest ends on Tuesday, October 23 at midnight.  The winner will be announced Wednesday, October 24.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Are Your Goals Too Safe?

Do your goals and your dreams scare you, or are you being too safe?  I'm posting my thoughts on this today over at Must Love God

This really hit home for me, because in the middle of writing this post, I learned that a high school classmate was killed in a car accident at just 32 years old.  God was already dealing with me about dreaming God-sized dreams.  This horrible accident just confirmed it - life is too short and too fragile to not dream big.  Check out my post and tell me about your scariest goals!

Also, I'm really excited to announce that Grace In Our Moments is now on Facebook!  Check it out.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fragile Gifts

It's the most fragile gift we're given, a treasure so easily broken, yet we take it for granted every day - until the unthinkable becomes reality.  The precious gift of life has overwhelmed me this week.

This past weekend, a high schoool classmate of mine died in a car accident.  He was 32 - my age.  Although we didn't really run in the same circles in high school, I knew him and his entire family.  He was living his life - and suddenly it was over.

This week, I've hugged my family a little tighter.  I've kissed my boys as they sleep.  I've lain awake in bed and thanked God for my husband breathing softly beside me as he sleeps.  I've been amazed at the simple things that are really extravagent graces - the sunrise, the leaves fluttering in the breeze, the ever-changing water of the river I drive over every day, the laughter of my family, the voices of my friends. 

Every moment, every breath, is full of grace.  I never want to take that for granted.  But the greatest gift is that life doesn't end when we breathe our last in this really just begins.  I'm thankful for life - in both this world, and, as my favorite author Ted Dekker so perfectly says it, in "...the real world behind the skin of this world, where everything really is beautiful."

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Can Someone Hit the Brakes?

I tend to be a little insane overbearing type-A sometimes.  I can get over-involved.  I can let myself get completely burned out.  I can get overwhelmed.  I can put too much pressure on myself.  I can slip into the "I'll take it easy when I'm dead" mindset.  Is anyone with me?

Unfortunately, I pay for my "I can do it all" personality...and my payback comes in the form of anxiety attacks.  After five years with no attacks, my unwelcome friends made their appearance again a few weeks ago, giving me my worst attacks ever. 

Part of it is the stress of my life right now, but I truly believe that this is also an attack.  God is moving in my life.  I'm drawing closer to Him than ever before, and He's leading me in new directions.  It's exciting and terrifying to be standing on the brink of some huge, God-sized dreams.  I just wish I wasn't fighting anxiety.  I wish I could hit the brakes and slow some of the craziness down a little. 

I can't slow things down, though.  I have to push ahead to graduation (in just 7 more months - woo hoo!)  I have to live my life and balance all the craziness.  I would really appreciate your prayers as I fight this battle.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Win Max Lucado's latest!

I am a huge fan of Max Lucado!  I love his children's books, especially You Are Special - I cry every time I read it.  I was so excited to have the opportunity for a very special review - his newest children's devotional, Grace for the Moment for Kids, AND his newest adult devotional!  Best of all, I'm giving away a set of the two to one lucky reader.

My boys cannot say enough good things about their devotional!  They are 10 and 7, and these devotions are perfect for them to read on their own.  My 10 year old said that he loves this book because, "It's short.  I don't have to look stuff up.  [The verses for the devotional are printed on the page.] And I like the part at the end. ["Growing in Grace," a practical, life application at the end of each day's reading.]"  Of course, since the adult and kids devotions cover the same topic each day, it's also perfect for mom to read hers in the morning, then to read the children's version during family devotions and discuss what everyone has learned.  (And if you have teens, you can get a copy of Wild Grace for them.)  As a mom, and as a children's pastor, I love books and activities that involved the whole family and get everyone talking about their faith!  This is the perfect series for it.

You can check out the Flipbook of Grace for the Moment for Kids here:

You can check out a FREE two week sample of the book here:

Or you can order a copy here:

Of course, you can also enter to WIN a copy of both the kids and adult devotionals!  To enter, just leave a comment on this post AND become a fan of Tommy Nelson on Facebook.  For an extra entry, share this giveaway and leave a separate comment letting me know you did.  For another entry, like my new Facebook page.

Good luck!  Entries will close on Saturday, September 29th at midnight, and the winner will be announced Sunday, September 30th.  Thanks to Tommy Mommy for letting me review these!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Developing a Habit of Grace

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We throw the concept of grace around a lot.  It’s an important idea – after all, where would we be if not for God’s grace?  We talk about it, sing about it, write about it – but I wonder how much we really understand grace?

I’m working through an awesome Bible study right now on 1 Peter.  The study is “Kept,” and I’m going through it with the Hello Mornings fall session.  Last week, as we studied 1:1-2 and 5:12-14, I decided to look up “grace.”  I pulled up eSword on my laptop and went to the original Greek word.  It wowed me.  Here’s what I learned:
Grace (charis): graciousness of manner or act, especially the divine influence upon the heart and it’s reflection in the life, including gratitude.
Our mannerisms show grace.  Our actions show grace.  That’s it – it’s all grace.  All of life, our very life itself, is God’s grace.  Everything we are and everything we do should be a reflection of God’s influence in our life, including gratitude.

His Word is filled with His graces.  We are His workmanship.  He knit us together and knew us before we were born.  He collects our tears in a bottle.  We are inscribed on the palms of His hands.  His grace is more than amazing. 
Grace – that simple word has been speaking to me all week long.  My prayer is that God will keep His grace at the forefront of my heart and mind, and that He will help me to reflect that grace in all I do.  I want grace to become more than a word - I want grace to be a habit in my life.

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Huge Guest Post

I am so, so excited today!  Last month, one of my favorite blogs, The MOB Society, asked for guest posts for the month of September.  I wrote a post and sent it in, but honestly didn't expect it be chosen.  But guess what - it was!  I hope you'll check out!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Monday, September 3, 2012

Losing My Grip

I'm not a huge fan of high places.  I can handle heights to a point...okay, to a very low point.  I hate it when I'm watching a movie or TV show and a main character ends up clinging desperately to a ledge by their fingertips, about to plummet to their death.  (Like Beckett hanging on for dear life in the season finale of Castle...anyone else LOVE that show?)  I guess it's a Hollywood rule that their grip has to slip and make things more dramatic, but it makes me squirm every time!

I can identify with the feeling of losing my grip, though.  How many times do I feel like I'm losing my grip on everything going on in my life?  The laundry mountain has started to resemble Mt. Everest, I'm behind on my Bible study, my college assignments are due, and my blog is covered in cobwebs.  I feel like I'm drowning, slipping further and further below the surface, not sure if I can ever reach the top again.

Sometimes God has to whisper my name...okay, so He may have to yell a little...and tell me, "Amanda, just breathe."  As my microbiology teacher used to tell our class before a test, "Breathe - its not overrated."  I need the reminder.  Breathe.  Focus.  Take one thing at a time.  Finish one job before starting another.  Take small steps.  Just get started. 

Ann Voskamp wrote a great post a few days ago about creating habits.  This week, I plan to use my day planner (a.k.a. "my brain" becasue I rely on it so much), the daily planner printable from A Holy Experience, a weekly homemaking schedule I typed up several months ago, and the Pomodoro technique to get things done at home and get my family on a routine.  Simple planning, and simple follow through, should help me get things into better balance and give me a better grip on things.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Fun Family Giveaway!

I love finding fun new ways to have family Bible study times!  I look for resources that engage my own kids and the kids in my children's ministry.  The Hide and Seek Devotional (Hide the Word and Seek the Lord) from Tommy Nelson is perfect for that!

This is a fun kids devotional broken into Old Testament devotionals (A-Z) and New Testament devotionals (a-z).  One of my favorite parts of the book are the free song and story downloads.  The link is included in the book, and they are such a fun addition.  We often played worship music or Bible story CD's at bedtime when our boys were little, and they loved it.  It helped them fall asleep and kept our oldest from having nightmares.

The Hide and Seek Devotional is perfect for kids ages 4-6, but it can be easily adapted for a much wider age range.  Younger kids could enjoy the stories and songs, and older kids could dive deeper because each devotional tells you where you can read the whole story in the Bible.

You can click here to preview The Hide and Seek Devotional and you can click here to buy it at Tommy Nelson.  Best of all, you can WIN a free copy, thanks to Tommy Nelson!

To enter to win, leave on a comment below telling me how your children learn best - are visual or auditory learners, or do they learn best by doing something? 

For additional entries (please leave a comment for EACH one):
  1. Subscribe to Grace In Our Moments
  2. Follow me on Twitter
  3. Like the Tommy Nelson Facebook page
  4. Follow Tommy Nelson on Twitter
Good luck!  The winner will be announced Sunday.  Entries will end at Saturday, August 25th at midnight.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

What Would You Have Left?

I did a little experiment with my kids in Children's Church a few weeks ago.  I encourage them to bring their Bibles to class, and they earn points to spend in our store once a month when they bring them.  This particular Sunday, though, after everyone sat down and pulled out their Bibles, I walked around and took their Bibles away.  I put them in a stack at the front of the room and asked the kids, "What would you do if your Bible was taken away?"

I went on to explain that this is a reality in many parts of the world.  I read them true stories of Christians in persecuted countries from Kids of Courage (the kids portion of Voice of the Martyrs).  I explained that in some countries, people can't get a Bible because it's illegal, so if one person has one, they will tear pages from it and give one page at a time to other Christians.  When they have studied and memorized that page, they will trade it for another.  They are desperate for God's Word.

So I asked the kids: If someone took your Bible, how much of it would you know?  Their eyes were wide as they shook their heads and admitted, "Not much."  It hit home for those kids.  But I can't help but wonder, how many adults would say the same thing?  How much have we memorized?  If all we had was what we've hidden in our hearts, how much would we be left with?

Today is the first day of the new Hide His Word challenge at Do Not Depart.  I'm excited about hiding 1 Peter in my heart.  The older I get, the more I realize how crucial it is to memorize God's Word.  This is a simple plan, averaging two verses a week.  I'm so excited about starting!  I pray the day never comes when my Bible is taken from me, but even if it doesn't, I never know when I'll need to reach deep inside and pull up what I've hidden.  First, though, I have to make sure I've taken the time to hide it in my heart and mind.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Building Your Prayer Journal: Part Four

This will be my final post in my prayer journal series!  This will a short and simple post, but it involves praying for something that we, as wives and moms and daughters and sisters and friends, often overlook - praying for ourselves.  It's easy to get so wrapped up in everything we are to others and everything we do, that we forget to take care of ourselves. 

Take time to pray for yourself.  Pray over your priorities.  Pray over your schedule.  Pray for your ministry.  Pray for the strength and wisdom to do all that God has called you do.

Stormie Omartian's book, The Power of a Praying Woman, is an amazing resource for this portion of your prayer journal.  She brings out 30 areas that we need prayer in, such as being drawn into a closer walk with God, asking God to bless the work that we do, and seeking guidance in all our relationships. 

If you're signed up for the Hello Mornings challenge that begins next week, this is the perfect time to put together a prayer journal.  Having a plan ahead of time is an important part of having daily time with God.  The payout will be worth the effort!

Thanks so much for reading and taking this journey with me.  I hope this series has helped you.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

10 Things I Love PLUS My Hello Mornings Story

I'm so excited to start another session of Hello Mornings in just a few days!  To celebrate, today I'm sharing what's in my Hello Mornings bag, and my Hello Mornings story:

10 Essentials in My Hello Mornings Bag
  1. My NASB Study Bible - it's getting to the point of being held together with tape and glue, but I treasure this Bible and I'll use it until it totally falls apart
  2. My prayer journal
  3. My daily journal
  4. Sharpie pens - my new addiction <3
  5. Colored pencils
  6. Index cards (for Scripture memory)
  7. Index card holder
  8. My Bible study notebook - I just reorganized it, and I'm loving it!
  9. Post-It notes
  10. My all-time favorite devotional, Jesus Calling
 I originally posted this in April of this year, but wanted to share it again: I'm a rule-following kind of girl. Its a great trait to have...sometimes. Sometimes it can really get in the way, though. When it comes to my morning quiet time, it can be downright dangerous.
As a college student and into my early married years in my 20's, it was easy for me to get up early and spend an hour ir more with God every morning. Then we had kids, and everything changed. Suddenly I was a 22 year old stay at home mom who considered taking a shower a major accomplishment. Days went by without me ever even opening my Bible. My prayer time dwindled to, "Lord, how am I going to get this done?"

I'm a voracious reader, so as my kids got older, I started reading again - along with my Bible, I read books on marriage, parenting, and being a Godly woman. I learned a lot from those books - mainly that I was failing. One book said I should spend an hour or more a day in Bible study. Another told me it should be easy to pray for an hour a day. Still others told me I should tithe my time - spend 10% of my time with God and never miss a day. I beat myself up a lot during those early years of marriage and motherhood. I knew there was no way I could live up to what those books suggested. I was breaking all the rules.

Then, a few years ago, I discovered something amazing - grace. Its my morning grace - grace for my times with God. My goal is to get up early every morning and spend time with God. Most days it happens, but if not, there's grace. Some days its long, other days its just a short devotional. One day I might spend more time in Bible study, another day might be focused more on prayer, and still another might focus on journaling or scripture memory. Whatever I'm doing, there's grace.

I believe that God delights in our efforts and our successes to spend time with Him, but I also believe that He's ready to wrap His arms around us and carry us when we're frazzled, frustrated, and struggling to keep up. He made us, He knows us, and He understands our ups and downs. My morning quiet time is again something I look forward to. In fact, its one of my favorite times of the day.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Running Toward My Goal: Week 4

Let the countdown begin: 80 days until I run my first ever 5K with my team, the Dental Divas!  My workouts for this week:

Happy training!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Building Your Prayer Journal: Part Three

Nothing moves this momma's heart like talking about my kids.  When I start talking about praying for my kids, you're probably doing to see tears.  What amazes me is that as much as I love them - God loves them infinitely more.

This week we're going to add prayers for our kids to our prayer journals.  It doesn't matter how old your kids are - pray for them.  Again this week, if you don't have kids, you can skips this one, but if you want kids one day - pray for them now.  You can never pray for them enough!

Again for this element, I used a Stormie Omartian book, The Power of a Praying Parent.  And again this week, Kat at Inspired to Action has a great FREE resource for you: A Mother's Prayer Calendar complete with scriptures to pray over your kids.

This week you'll add a prayer topic and a scripture for your kids to each day of your journal or Word document.  What's great about this week is that there are so many fantastic resources out there for praying moms.  Your journal is just a starting point!

I highly recommend The Power of a Praying Parent.  Brooke McGlothlin also has an amazing book for boy moms, Warrior Prayers, and the MOD Squad (Mothers of Daughters) has a book, 31 Days of Prayer for our Daughters.  All of these are available on Amazon Kindle.  Finally, I recommend Angie Smith's great post on praying 7 times a day for our kids.

THIS WEEK: Add prayers for your kids to your journal.
NEXT WEEK: Praying for our own nees

Boys Moms - Unite!

My oldest son told me not too long ago, “Mom, sometimes you can be manly, and sometimes you can be like a sparkly fairy princess.”  That’s probably not too far from the truth…  I’m Amanda, and there is nothing on earth I love more than being a momma to my boys!  I’m 32 years old and I’ve been married for 12 years to the love of my life, Robby, who is a full-time pastor.  We’re the proud parents of two boys, ages 10 and 7.  In addition to being a pastor’s wife and mom, I work part-time at an insurance agency, I’m a full time student in the dental hygiene program (In May of 2013, I will graduate and officially become an RDH!), I run a home-based business as an independent Miche purse rep, and I lead our church children’s ministry program.  My plate is pretty full, but I love blogging, cooking, running, reading (I love a good mystery/spy story), digital scrapbooking, horseback riding, and going to the gun range.  Strange combination, I know, but I told you my son’s description wasn’t too far off.

I chose the name “Grace In Our Moments” for my blog because I know that I need God’s grace in every single moment of my day - as a wife, mom, kids minister, student, employee and more.  I blog about life as a working mom, my faith and what I’m learning (right now I’m doing a series on creating a prayer journal), fitness (I’m a new runner and since leaving my job as the manager of a women’s fitness center a few months ago, I’m creating a whole new workout routine, including running, Pilates, and CrossFit), books and more.  I’m also a contributing blogger for Must Love God (a site created by fellow boy momma Kristi) and an accountability captain for Hello Mornings.

When I was pregnant, I begged God for boys.  I grew up as an only child and the only girl in my neighborhood, so I raced bikes, rode horses and four wheelers, and played with Hot Wheels a lot as a kid.  I love the fun and energy level at our house.  You never know what’s going to happen!  I never thought I would tell my kids “Stop slapping each other with string cheese or I’m not buying it for you anymore,” or yell through the house, “Stop running, put your pants back on, and stop hitting your brother with your underwear!”

One thing I loved as a child (and still love!) is reading.  I’m so glad that my boys have inherited my love of books!  My youngest still loves anything Dr. Seuss and dinosaurs.  He’s also discovering Nate the Great.  My oldest loves the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, the Hank the Cowdog series, and the How to Train Your Dragon series.  (He got the entire boxed set for Christmas and is almost done with the series now.)  To be honest with you, I love the Wimpy Kid and Dragon books myself…they are really fun!

Thanks so much for dropping by my blog today!  I look forward to reading lots of other blogs and "meeting" lots of other boy moms!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Simple Trust

I can't even begin to describe how much this simple line blessed me Tuesday.  On a day when I received news of two tragedies - a close friend who lost her mother-in-law to cancer, and a teenage cousin who lost a friend in a car accident - it was the reminder I needed that my Savior holds it all in His hands.  I am secure in Him.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

10 Big Summer Projects That I Can Mark "Done"

It's hard to believe that my summer is drawing to a close.  Yes, it's really early, but I have a summer class to take as part of my final year of college, and it starts Thursday.  I started this summer with a huge list of projects to do, and honestly, I'm surprised that I accomplished so much in the two months I had off.  Here's what I did:
  1. Cleaned and purged our youngest son's bedroom, getting rid of three garbage bags of outgrown toys and clothes
  2. Cleaned and purged the master bedroom closet
  3. Had a yard sale (which was a huge success!)
  4. Put together a Child Training Bible to use in children's ministry
  5. Updated my prayer journal
  6. Cleaned out and organized my coupon binder
  7. Created a one-month meal plan for July (which I plan to repeat in August)
  8. Put together a home management notebook
  9. Worked on my blog, including a new blog button and "follow me" buttons
  10. Caught up on my M'Cheyne Bible reading plan
I'm happy with what I got finished - now it's on to some more projects!  There's much more I want to do before Christmas. :)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Building Your Prayer Journal: Part Two

Last week you got your notebook and you personalizedit.  Now it’s time to start filling it up and building your prayer journal!  Ready to start?

The first topic we’re going to cover is praying for your husband.  If you’re single, why not go ahead and list some areas to pray for your future husband?  Or you can skip this week and join in next week.
The resource I used for this part of my journal is Stormie Omartian’s book The Power of a Praying Wife. Don’t have the book?  No problem.  Kat at Inspired to Actionhas an amazing prayer calendar and it’s totally FREE. 

Now, there are a couple of different ways you can do this next step:

1.     Label each page – Day 1, Day 2, etc. and write in a specific prayer request for your husband each day


2.     If you’re OCD and perfectionistic like me, you can start a Word document on your computer to be printed out when you’re finished.

My slight OCD issues aside, I like to type mine for the plain and simple fact that it’s easier to update.  When my prayer journal is full and it’s time to make a new one, or if I just need to update information, its much easier to print it out than to rewrite all the info.
Here’s an example from my prayer journal:

I've also included a scripture to pray along with each day's topic.  Praying scripture is powerful!  Kat has made it easy with her prayer calendar - it includes a verse to pray for each topic.  If you get a chance to buy The Power of a Praying Wife at some point later on, please do - Stormie's teachings on prayer are amazing. She totally revolutionized my prayer life.  She talks often about the benefits of praying scripture - praying God's promises over your family and situations you're facing.

* List a prayer topic and scripture to prayer for your husband each day for 31 days.

* Praying for our kids - PLUS lots of great resources