Monday, January 25, 2016

Book Review: Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World

Hi friends! How are your new year's resolutions going? I have finished my first book of the year and it was so great! I'm excited to share it with you today. Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World is Kristen Welch's newest book. You may recognize her as the co-founder of Mercy House Kenya and Fair Trade Friday. Her travels, her work with the young moms in Kenya, and her own parenting experience as a mother of three, come together to give her a unique and valuable message about parenting in the 21st century. I love that she draws from other writers and speakers as well in the book. She shares thoughts and research about how we are making our families overly kid-centric, and setting up impossible standards. I was lucky enough to get an advance e-copy of the book for my honest review, so I can give you a peak at what you have to look forward to when it comes out THIS WEEK

Here's a few of my favorite quotes from the book:

"The American Dream  and the pursuit of happiness have morphed from a quest for general contentment to the idea that you must be happy at all times and in every way.(--Lori Gottlieb) If we fix every problem, cater to every need, and bend over backwards to keep our kids happy all the time we are setting them up for a false reality because life won't always offer them the same courtesy. " 

Any of that sound familiar to anyone? I have seen so many articles lately detailing how utterly unprepared for life the upcoming generation of young adults is. This book hits the nail on the head and address some of the biggest problems facing teens and young professionals, because of choices their parents made or didn't make when they were younger. It's one of those books you find yourself saying "exactly!" to all the time. 

Overall it was just a great reminder of what our kids really need, and that it's ok for them to be different and not to have everything everyone else has. The truth is often times the kids that look like they have it all are missing the most important pieces, and their future adult-selves will be the sad ones proving it. After reading One Thousand Gifts last year, I heartily agree that authentic gratitude is absolutely essential to happiness. If we aren't grateful then likely that means we have set ourselves up to except more, and nothing steals joy like disappointment. I don't think raising grateful kids means asking them to set their expectations low, rather, as Kristen talks about in the book, it is helping them to grasp the bigness of the world and their smallness in it. When we are able to expose our kids to different cultures, struggles that are common in many parts of the world, and even the difficulties those around us are facing; they are equipped with perspective and compassion that allows them to not only appreciate good things, but also to see how they can be part of good things for others. 

I think this would be an awesome book to go through as a book club with other parents. 
Kristen even has a free journal that you can download and print to go along with the book: go here.  And a discussion guide right here! So yeah, it was made to talk about with your friends, or your spouse, or both. : )

This book was a great way to start out the year. Parenting is not going to be easy, and not every moment is going to be happy; but love, gratitude, and a commitment to some biblical principles can still guide our kids to a happy life. And ultimately I think that's what all parents want for their kids. Order your copy today right here. 

Thanks for reading! You are loved!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

2016 Reading Goals

Hello! Happy 2016! It's the beginning of the year so we are eating healthy and setting goals. 

In 2015 I joined a couple of friends in the most relaxed book club ever. We pick a few books that we want to read and then over the next 2-3 months read them in whatever order. This is helpful because it means we can swap books, if we aren't trying to read them at exactly the same time. At the end of the quarter we get together and discuss all three, plus the fate of the county, education, politics, political correctness, parenting, faith and everything else we can think of... but we do start with the books. : )

Thanks to my book club accountability and some free books to review from Howard Books, in 2015 I read:

What Alice Forgot                        - Moriarty
The Husbands Secret                   - Moriarty
Tiffany Girl                                    - Gist
More Than Happy                         - Miller
If You Find This Letter                  - Brencher
Woodlawn                                     - Gerelds
Their Eyes Were Watching God    - Hurston

I also discovered audio books, and started walking and reading at the same time. Bonus! So I listened to these books as well:

American the Beautiful                 - Dr. Ben Carson
Just As I am                                  - Billy Graham
The Great Divorce                        - C.S. Lewis
The Screwtape Letters                  - C.S. Lewis

There's lots of book challenges floating around out there. One of my book buddies suggested we do this one, of course we'll have to chose together what we'll read for book club, but if I were to fill it out myself, here's what I'd be aiming to read this year:

Here's the challenge:

Read a book...
  • published this year: Raising Grateful Kids --Welch <--I got an advance copy of this and will review it here in a week or so. It is so good!
  • you've been meaning to read: For the Love --Hatmaker  <--I'm also reading this right now
  • recommended by a bookstore:  Fates and Furies -- Groff  <--supposedly President Obama's fav book of 2015 (He has time to read?!?)
  • you should have read in school: To Kill a Mockingbird -- Lee
  • chosen by your spouse: The Language of God --Collins
  • published before you were born: The Keeper of the Bees --Stratton-Porter <--chosen by my mother-in-law, her favorite book.
  • you didn't finish: The Locust Effect --Haugen <-- this is just so heavy and hard to read, but the message is important and I need the reminder that there is evil in the world and it is worth fighting.
  • you own but haven't read: When Helping Hurts -- Corbett <--I have audio plans for this so although, yes, this is the 3rd time I've put it on my list, it is happening this year!
  • that intimidates you: Half The Sky --Kristof & WuDunn <-- this is is the same hard and heavy category as The Locust Effect, so I know it's going to be a tough read, but worth it. Kicking myself that I didn't watch this documentary when it was on Netflix, and hoping it comes back.
  • a book that you have already read: Mere Christianity -- C.S. Lewis  <--another audio plan, I've discovered I love listening to C.S. Lewis rather than reading him. It's just so much easier to digest when I'm hearing it. 
"A book you've been meaning to read" could be it's own list. I'll add to that Rhinestone Jesus by Kristen Welch and Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker, and these two Holocaust books: The Hiding Place and The Auschwitz Escape. I might as well round out my Holocaust category and watch Schindler's List this year too, since I've never seen it. It's not that I want to read about the Holocaust, but I think it's important to know, and to never forget...'

After those I might have to find something lighter to read. : ) I'm sure I'll read some not on this list and there will be several I don't get to again this year, but it's a starting point. What are you reading this year? Have you read any on my list? 

Here's to setting goals and good books!
You are loved!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Christmas Joy and a Tiny Craft

Hi Friends! We are enjoying a wonderful snow day, and it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. We have been enjoying a really great Christmas season. The last few years for some reason I have felt down about the commercial, selfish version of Christmas that seems to surround us in our culture. This year we've taken care to keep the crazy out of Christmas, and I'm enjoying it like no other. All is calm, all is bright. 

Thing Two is learning to read, and he sounded out a banner that we have that says "Joy to the World." Since it's Christmas time  "joy" seems to be plastered on everything in every store and decoration. Thing Two is loving recognizing that word when he sees it, and it's been the perfect reminder for the rest of us. Thing One said, "Mom, he finds 'joy' wherever we go!" and Thing Two said, "I can see joy everywhere!" How true. We tend to find joy whenever we remember to look for it. That's exactly what we are doing this year. May you find joy this Christmas! 

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great JOY that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."                      Luke 2:10-11
Now, as long as you are here, I thought I'd share a tiny, easy Christmas craft that I made just for fun. I'm trying to use up things we have around the house, and I've had these 2" terra-cotta pots for a while just waiting for the right craft. Since we have twigs in the backyard and always plenty of play-doh, the only thing I had to buy was the pine-tree pipe cleaners. You can get those and the terra-cotta at Hobby Lobby. Aren't these little pine trees cute? They would make great placard holders or office gifts maybe? A perfect desk-size tree : )

Here's the quick run down. Use wire cutters to cut the pipe cleaners into different sizes. The biggest pieces I used were half a pipe cleaner. 

Then arrange them by size and twist them unto a skinny 6" long twig. To make the branches shorter just twist around an extra time. 

I used about four pipe cleaners for each tree. Leave about two inches of twig at the bottom. Fill the terra cotta pot with play-doh and press it in to make it firm. Insert the tree base into the play-doh and squash it around the trunk to hold it tight and straight.

If you want you can add a little moss to cover the play-doh. If you don't have the terra cotta, you could also tie a little scrap of burlap around the play-doh base instead. That was my original idea, and then I saw the pots. 

Here's to happy, easy crafts. Just say "no" to Christmas crazy, friends. Find joy! You are loved!


Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Hello! It's been so long, but here I am. I have been intrigued by all the "grown-up coloring" going around. I thought maybe it would be fun to print some fall and thanksgiving themed pages to have around on Thanksgiving. It's supposed to be snowy and in the 20's here so we will need an alternative to the football and after dinner walk that we usually do. It turns out my kids really like these intricate coloring pages and a big cup of sharpened pencils. Here's a link to a few great fall coloring pages.

We spent a half hour coloring together yesterday. Even Thing Two, did a really careful job, and usually he just scribbles. I love spending time together like this. Whether you need a little quite time during a week off of school, or something for the whole fam-damly on Thanksgiving, a quick Pinterst search, a printer, and some colored pencils could bring you a lot of relaxed family time. Here's wishing you a peaceful day of giving thanks. We have so much to be thankful for.

"The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything. He who has learned this knows what it means to live. He has penetrated the whole mystery of life: giving thanks for everything."
                                                       --Albert Schweitzer

Ephesians 5:20
 Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything...

Happy Thanksgiving!
-- Haley

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Syrian Refugee Crisis

This weekend we went to the mountains for a little while. We spent an hour or two climbing up a trail and enjoying the view. At the end of the short hike my kids were thirsty, hot, hungry and dirty. We had plenty of water with us and snacks in the car and that night we tucked our boys safely into bed, after they bathed and put on fresh jammies. But after we got home I saw this post from Samaritan's Purse about all the refugees traveling to escape the violence that has over taken their cities (ISIS).
I thought, if my kiddos were tired, hot and dirty after just a couple hours of walking, what must these kids feel like? Many have been traveling for weeks, and most have lost everything in the journey. There's no clean jammies and warm bed waiting at the end of the day. In fact, they often don't even know what country they will be in at the end of the day.

World Vision has put together the map above that really helps us understand the enormity of this journey.  It shows how a family coming from Aleppo, Syria to the border of Serbia will have to travel over 1,400 miles (Check out their post about this: here.) Many of these miles are being trekked on foot. World Vision also has a great post about what is happening, who is affected and how World Vision is responding with aid. You can click here to read that and to help through World Vision.

"Nearly 12 million Syrians have been forced from their homes by the fighting — half are children."
                                                                                                                         -- World Vision

Samaritan's Purse has been posting updates from their workers on the ground in Greece, and other check points. They have been helping with medical care (with some of their staff doctors checking on refugees at certain check points), and distributing backpacks with much needed health and hygiene items as well as snacks and comfort items for kids. Their help is tangible. If you are watching news clips of thousands of people walking and walking; everything they own in a plastic grocery bag--and wondering what you can do, here is something you can do. Watch the video to get a sense of what's happening, what these families are going through, what they've lost and how desperately they need hope, and see how Samaritan's Purse is helping them. You can donate directly to Samaritan's Purse's European Refugee Relief by clicking here (and scrolling to the bottom).

 "We've not come here for enjoyment. All of us are hopeless people." 
We can't look away from what families just like ours are going through on the other side of the world.   I don't know what is going to happen to these families, but I know this:
They need help today.
They need hope to make it to tomorrow; to the next check point.
There are good organizations making a real impact in this ongoing crisis and we can partner with them.

I feel like there's so little I can do to help, but I think too often we claim our ability to only make a small impact as an excuse to do nothing. We can not do nothing.

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
                                                                                                - Mother Teresa

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