Wednesday, January 28, 2015

{Three Word Wednesday} Needing the Adventure


I was restless. I get that way sometimes. I talk about moving or taking a trip or rearranging furniture.

That feeling of wanting to do something different than what’s happening right now clashes with my usual Type A personality. I can’t really explain it, but sometimes I just need to do something or go somewhere.

I told my husband this Friday night. I mentioned maybe we should go to the Murray State basketball game on Saturday night – three hours away from our house. But it’s near where his brother and his family live. We talked about different scenarios and decided we’d decide in the morning.

Saturday morning we made a plan that involved driving three hours to Edwardsville, Illinois, after lunch, meeting our relatives for dinner, cheering for our Racers, and then driving home. We left about 1 p.m. and returned home a little after midnight.

It sounds crazy, I know.

But it was just what I needed.

I needed the adventure.

I needed the socialization with people who aren’t in our everyday life.

I needed the conversations with my husband that came while the kids were watching “Frozen” on the way up and sleeping on the way home.

December and early January were filled with sickness around here. I’ve stopped filling every minute of my calendar. Everybody is finally well and being at home has been really good for my soul.

But then I felt the itch for adventure. I needed to step away for a while – and that’s what a road trip does for me.

Perhaps the emotional situation I’ve been walking through with my best friend prompted me to want to take a break.

Perhaps winter had become weary on my soul. {I know, our winter is nothing here in Kentucky. But, people, I’m a summer girl.}

Perhaps this itch for adventure just part of who I am, despite my usual Type A ways of wanting a plan – and I’ve finally realized my personality can’t be boxed up.

Regardless, I’m glad I’m grown up enough to recognize when I just need to take care of my soul.
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Other notes :: My ebook, "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family," is on sale for just 99 cents for a few more days. And today's the last day to enter to win a copy of "Mothering from Scratch: Finding the Best Parenting Style for You and Your Family" by Melinda Means & Kathy Helgemo. 

Want more stories? Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What's in a Name? The Story of Ben

Five years ago today, Ben’s adoption was finalized. The hearing was a informal formality, but, of course, we had a party afterward because I wanted to mark the moment on our journey. I wanted to remember God’s faithfulness. 

In celebration of remembering this day, I thought it would be fun to share something from Ben’s preschool last week that I absolutely loved. While studying the letter N and talking about the importance of Jesus’ name, the teacher asked us parents to write a letter to our child, explaining why we chose the name we did and what it means for the child. 

Y’all, this is my kind of assignment ... 
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That's Ben at a week old with my grandpa. They share a middle name. November 2009.

Dear Ben –

When we found out we were adopting a baby boy, Daddy and I figured we’d choose a family name for you like we did your sister. But then we couldn’t agree on which version of William (Daddy’s granddad, Gran-Gran’s dad) we’d want to use. Daddy wanted Bill and I wanted Will. So we went to the Bible instead and found the perfect name for our baby – Benjamin.

Not long after you were born, I happened upon Deuteronomy 33:12, which says: “About Benjamin, he (Moses) said: ‘Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.’”

I loved how I heard God speaking to me about you through those words from long ago. I was reminded God creates us and knows us long before we’re born. God has a plan for you, sweet boy. I have no doubt you belong in our family and we’re better off because you’re with us.

And Daddy often reminds you and me “Benjamin” means “son of my right hand.”

Your middle name – Lucas – is also Poppy’s middle name. As my grandpa and Grandmom’s dad, he is a man I’d love for you to take after. He’s wise and believes in prayer. I’ll never forget when I was frustrated one day and he reminded me that “This too shall pass,” but while we’re in the middle of whatever we’re going through we should pray.

Your name is part of who you are, Benjamin Lucas. And there’s no one else like you.

I love you –
Momma
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You can read more about Ben's adoption story in my ebook "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family," which is on sale for just 99 cents at Amazon. Yes, January can be a cold, dreary month, but it has changed me. So I'm celebrating!

And I'm linking up with the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood Gathering

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Joy to the World (Vol. 2)


1. "Finally Free" by Rend Collective :: This song encompasses so much of what I'm experiencing in my faith journey right now. And, really, Rend Collective's "More than Conquerors" could make the list this week too.


"... Your heart is wild with color
Like a never-ending summer

You burn away the winter

Of my cold and weary heart


My soul cries out holy, holy
My heart is lost in Your beauty
All hope is found in Your mercy
You paid the price now I am
Finally free ..."



2. Sharing my family's story :: It's been such a blessing to see how telling our infertility and adoption story, which ultimately was a faith journey too, has encouraged others, even people I don't know. I shared an excerpt at Circles of Faith this week. You can find links to other excerpts and reviews here. And it's still on sale for just 99 cents at Amazon because God redeems even in the cold, dreary seasons.

3. Amazon. Everything about Amazon brings me joy.

This week I got my second Prime Pantry shipment. The box contained applesauce, dryer sheets, lots of grape Propel, toilet paper, and Zip-locs. The prices were the same or less than what I'd pay in the store. Amazon also keeps up with what percentage of my box I've filled as I shop. And then the items showed up on my front porch. Totally worth the $5.99 shipping (that was free last time, so watch for deals!).

I also stream TV shows and movies, listen to music, and get free two-day shipping (or credits if I choose the no-rush option!) for my annual membership.

And there's a deal on Prime membership today! Instead of $99, you can pay $72. This is for new subscriptions only. What are you waiting for?

4. And from my #choosingJOY list I keep on my phone ...

34. Ongoing text conversations with dear friends // 35. Stopping for ice cream at Culver's while it's snowing out // 36. Wild Kratts Live as school field trip. When we returned the permission slip a couple months ago, my kids know the show. After our sickly December, they have their favorite episodes. Silver lining of sickness.

How have you been #choosingJOY this week?
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Read other JOY-related posts and Joy to the World (Vol. 1).

Want more stories? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox." This post contains affiliate links. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

{Five Minute Friday} Share

It's been a long time since I joined the Five Minute Friday link up. {See? Only twice in 2014. And not since Kate Motaung started hosting it.} But this morning when I was scrolling through my phone in bed, when the house was still quiet, I saw the prompt {SHARE} and I knew I had to write. So I did. On my phone. In the dark. All of that sort of signified what I wanted to say. Yes, sometimes there's is darkness, but we don't have to be in it alone. 

If you don't know about Five-Minute Friday, it's a community of writers who each write for five minutes on the same word. Come join us. 

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We spend so much time teaching our kids to share their toys and their space. We want then to share their emotions using words. Sharing becomes the goal in life.

Now that I'm a grown up, I believe in community. It's a way if life I certainly want to share with my kids. In community, we share. We share the space around our table. We share our stories.

But what happens when people you love dearly are walking down a hard road? We share that too. We share grief and tears. And we share hope that God redeems.

It's a sharing I wasn't prepared for, but one I realize I believe in. As I've shared a hard road with a friend recently, I've been thinking about a passage from Jen Hatmaker's "Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity" ::

"Doesn’t this concept of being broken for others ring true? It’s a spiritual dynamic that bears out physically. Why is it so exhausting to uphold someone’s heavy, inconvenient burden? Why are we spent from shouldering someone’s grief or being an armor bearer? Why is it that lifting someone out of his or her rubble leaves us breathless? Because we are the body of Christ, broken and poured out, just as He was. ... Mercy has a cost: someone must be broken for someone else to be fed. The sermon that changed your life? That messenger was poured out so you could hear it. The friends who stood in the gap during your crisis? They embraced some sacrifice of brokenness for your healing. Anytime you say, 'That fed me, that nourished me,' someone was the broken bread for your fulfillment."

Sharing isn't always easy, but it always has a purpose.
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Want more stories? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Thursday, January 22, 2015

{Review & Giveaway} Mothering from Scratch

Most of you know, I don’t bake. But I want to embrace the message from “Mothering from Scratch,” a parenting book that offers practical advice using a baking analogy. Although the subtitle “Finding the Best Parenting Style for You and Your Family” makes mothering sound more like a recipe than we all know it actually is!

“Mothering From Scratch” by Melinda Means and Kathy Helgemo is the kind of book I wish I had in my hands when I quit my job to stay home with my 4-month-old daughter. Even so, reading it now, as a mom to a 7-year-old girl and 5-year-old, was certainly still helpful. The authors share real-life stories from their own lives.

I was encouraged in being the mom God created me to be – which is different probably looks different than the mom he created you to be. I was spurred on to continue seeking God – on the days I have it figured out and certainly on the days I have no idea what I’m doing. I was reminded that just as every child is different, so is every mom, but together we can build communities that foster what is the gospel is all about.

ABOUT THE BOOK :: Trying to follow someone else’s rules for mothering can take the joy out of being a parent. But “Mothering From Scratch” shows you how to develop your own style that helps you be the best mom for your kids. Full of solid biblical truth, this book will help you explore your personality and examine your strengths and weaknesses in order to find what works for you, tap into the resources surrounding you and get mentoring and support from other moms, and push past the fear of change or doing it wrong and allow room for grace in your mothering. Paperback. 208 pages.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS :: Melinda Means is a writer, speaker, and mom blogger at Mothering From Scratch, as well as women’s ministry director at First Alliance Church in Port Charlotte, Florida. Her work has appeared in Focus on Your Child newsletters, CBN.com, In Touch magazine, and Lifeway’s Journey magazine. She is mother to two teenage children, a daughter and a son. She and her family live in Punta Gorda, Florida.

Kathy Helgemo started out as an English teacher after graduating from Florida State University, moved through various other jobs, and landed in her current one as a freelance writer from home. She blogs with Melinda at motheringfromscratch.com. Her blog posts have been featured on thesitsgirls.com, the Women of Faith website, and Parent Society’s Mommy Blog Hot List. She and her husband, Ben, have four children and live in Port Charlotte, Florida.

GIVEAWAY! :: I have a paperback copy of “Mothering From Scratch” to give one of you. Just use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter to win. A winner will be selected randomly on Thursday, Jan. 29.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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I was part of the launch team for this book, so I got an advanced copy to read and review. The authors and Bethany House Publishers also provided the copy I’m giving away. The opinions of the book are my own. 

Want more stories? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

{Three Word Wednesday} Moment by Moment


Nineteen years and one day ago I decided to follow Jesus. Somebody had just talked about the Prodigal Son and how he came home. The worship band played “Growing Young” by Rich Mullins. And I nailed some sins written on a slip of paper to a wooden cross laying in the floor.

You’d say I was saved that night.

But I’ve since learned salvation is about so much more than that one moment. Of course, that one moment mattered because it changed every other one that would follow.

That night I believed I was saved from myself and eternal separation from God. I’ve since realized I was saved for something too. My salvation frames my story. My choices – where I went to college, who I dated, who I married, trying to conceive, deciding the adopt, how I spend my time, how I spend my money, what we teach our kids – are continually filtered through my identity as a daughter of God who decided 19 years ago to come home.

Although, really, it’s not about just coming home.

I’ve never been the rebellious one. I’m your stereotypical first-born child who follows rules, wants to please people, and has controlling tendencies. When I first heard the story of the Prodigal Son, I figured God wanted us all to learn that we need to come home – to him. And when we do, he’s waiting for us.

While that’s absolutely true, I don’t think that’s all the story is about. {If you don’t know the story, read it here.}

Truthfully, I identify more with the older brother – the one who kept the rules and was bitter when his brother got a party and grace when he deserved judgment and punishment. My natural ways tend more toward justice than mercy.

But I follow a God who is the exact opposite.

“You can choose, like many, to chain yourself to your hurt. Or you can choose, like some, to put away your hurts before they become hates. You can choose to go the party. You have a place there. Your name is beside a plate. If you are a child of God, no one can take away your sonship.

Which is precisely what the father says to the older son. ‘Son, you are always with me, and all I have is yours’ (Luke 15:31). And that is precisely what the Father says to you. How does God deal with your bitter heart? He reminds you that what you have is more important than what you don’t have. …
The brother was bitter because he focused on what he didn’t have and forgot what he did have. His father reminded him – and us – that he had everything he’d always had. He had his job. His place. His name. His inheritance. The only thing he didn’t have was the spotlight. And because he wasn’t content to share it – he missed the party.”

{Max Lucado in “He Still Moves Stones”}

Because of who God is, I’m not the same person I was 19 years ago. It began with a moment of salvation and has continued as God has saved me, adopted me, promised me, grown me, transformed me, taught me, strengthened me, forgiven me, trusted me, and celebrated me so many moments since.

Some hurts still haunt me, but I know God is dealing with those now. I’m sure there will be more hurts, but God promises in the end everything will work together for the good for those who follow him (Romans 8:28).

I was saved then. And I’m being saved now. Moment by moment. Grace by grace.
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I'm also linking up this post with Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart and Jennifer Dukes Lee's #TellHisStory

Want more stories? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Q&A with "Hidden Agenda" author Lisa Harris

I connected with author Lisa Harris on social media as I was making my way through the first two of her Southern Crimes novels – “Dangerous Passage” and “Fatal Exchange.” I was anticipating the release of the third in the series – “Hidden Agenda” – so I was excited when my monthly email from Revell included it in the books I could review.

Like any good fiction book, I read “Hidden Agenda” quicker than I really wanted to. I was wrapped up in the story, yet I didn’t really want the book to end. Lisa Harris has created characters I adore and circumstances that keep the story moving while including truth about people and God.

I liked how “Hidden Agenda” picked up where “Fatal Exchange” left off and continued building on a story that already existed.

ABOUT THE BOOK :: His cover is blown. Now his enemies are on his heels and closing in. Presumed dead by friends and family, Michael Hunt is alive – and on the run. Presumed dead by friends and family, the undercover assignment he's been working for the past eight months has just been blown. With a hit out on his life and corruption inside the Atlanta police department, Michael finds himself hunted by both the cartel and the law. His only hope is Olivia Hamilton – the daughter of the man who wants him dead.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR :: Lisa Harris is the award-winning author of more than 20 books and is winner of the Best Inspirational Suspense Novel for 2011 from Romantic Times. She has spent more than ten years living with her family as missionaries in Mozambique, where she leads a women’s group and runs a nonprofit organization that works alongside their church-planting ministry. Visit www.lisaharriswrites.com for more information. You can also keep up with her on Twitter and Facebook.
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In connecting with Lisa on Twitter, I asked if she’d be interested in sharing on my blog. We decided to do a Q&A session to coincide with her new release. Y’all are going to love her – if you don’t already. And stay tuned because she’s not stopping with this series of books.

Kristin Hill Taylor :: I love the Hunt family! They are the kind of people who seem so welcoming and real. Tell me about how you came to create these characters and what they mean to you.

Lisa Harris :: I was meeting with some other writer friends a couple years ago, and I told them I wanted to so a series about a family of law enforcement officers. They really helped me brainstorm the Hunt family and storylines (and we had a blast in the process!).

As I wrote each sibling’s story, though, I really came to love the family story line. I know there are a lot of dysfunctional families out there, and while the Hunt family isn’t perfect, I wanted them to love each other and be there for each other no matter what.

On a side note, it’s crazy how real they can become — at least to me. :-) I was flying through Atlanta just before book one came out and I was convinced I was going to see Avery or one of the Hunt family in the airport!

KHT :: Where do you get your ideas for the circumstances in the Southern Crimes series? What have you learned about the world and faith developing these stories?

LH :: I wrote a book (“Blood Ransom”) before this series on human trafficking in Africa. At the time, I had no idea this was an issue in the U.S. and was actually shocked while doing my research that human trafficking is a huge issue in the US. After that, I decided I wanted to write a book on human trafficking in the U.S. (“Dangerous Passage”). The other two stories in the series flowed out of this first book. One of the things I love about this genre is being able to show the realities of the world, but also the fact that there are good people out there and an even greater God!

KHT :: You’re a writer, wife, homeschooling mom, and missionary who also runs a non-profit organization. How do you balance writing with the rest of life? What does a normal day in your life look like?

LH :: Life is busy and I’m not sure there is a normal day. :-) For the first time in almost seven years, I’m not homeschooling as all of my kids are attending a missionary boarding school. This has been a big adjustment for me, of course, but one we feel is right for our family at this time.

Now, I have certain days I go out to the village and certain days for writing. I also ensure medicines, baby formula, food baskets — and whatever our current needs are for the non-profit — are delivered to those we are helping, as well as try to keep up on social media what God is doing. One of the main reasons I’m writing is so I can visit my kids during their mid-term breaks three times a year (They also come home three times a year.), so I’m so thankful for a job that allows me to do this! And a job I can do anywhere in the world.

KHT :: Tell me about The ECHO Project. What are the ways this passion and your love for writing stories are intertwined?

LH :: After we’d been here a couple years, we realized we needed help to meet all the physical needs we saw every day. My husband asked me to start a non-profit where we could raise money that would go 100% to meet people’s needs. Thanks to people’s donations, we’ve been able to build houses for the homeless, pay for medical bills (mainly transport and lodging), help start businesses, give monthly food baskets to families carrying for orphans, formula for babies whose mother can feed them, eye glasses, and much more.

I’ve loved the chance to write several books that deal with humanitarian issues, and am actually working with Love Inspired Suspense (from Harlequin) on ideas for a humanitarian/romantic suspense series. The bottom line is, I want to encourage people to make a difference wherever they are, one individual at a time!

KHT :: Have your kids read any of your books? What do you they think about them?

LH :: Yes, both of my boys have read a couple of my books for school, and as far as I know they enjoyed them! Pretty cool!

KHT :: What do you want your readers to take away from the Southern Crimes series, specifically “Hidden Agenda”?

LH :: I want my readers to realize that God wants us to rely completely on Him. And to be completely in Him. Psalm 55:22 tells us that we need to give our burdens to Him. To cast all of our anxieties on him because he really does care for us. Is this always easy? No way. But it’s like Michael said at the end of the book. “I’m struck with the profound truth that God is good. He never promised us that life would be easy, but He has promised to walk with us.” My prayer for my readers is that they seek His face and let Him walk this journey of faith alongside them!

KHT :: What writing project are you working on now? To what else can we be looking forward?

LH :: I just turned in a book to my editor that will kick off my next series with Revell, and I’ve just finished outlining book two. While I can’t say much yet, it’s another fast-paced romantic suspense series that deals with a missing person task force and a heroine (and romance) that I can’t wait to reveal! The first book will release in October!
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I received a free electronic copy of this book from Revell Books in exchange for a review, but it was already on my Amazon wish list. 

Want more stories? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."