Wednesday, November 19, 2014

{Three Word Wednesday} Document The Stories

Before I had kids, I scrapbooked regularly. Greg and I would live life – and then I would document it. When I had one baby, I kept up with the scrapbooks pretty well. And, trust me, I took many pictures!

Now, Greg and I are loving life with two kids, who are almost 5 and 7 years old. But there’s not as much time for preserving the memories in albums when we’re spending evenings at the soccer field, working on homework in the afternoons, and spending time with other families we love.

Even so, I still want to remember the memories we’re making. I want to document their words and moments. I want to tell stories about what God has done in our lives. The way I document stories has changed, but I’ve managed to find some ways that still work for me.

{Join me at Circles of Faith, where I share eight ways I document our family’s stories.}

A wise, older friend once told me she was finally organizing all the memories she had in boxes and albums once her kids were grown up and out of the house. She reminded me now is the time to make the memories and worry less about preserving them perfectly.

That’s something I think about when I see the piles of pictures and toss another paper into a box or binder. I know my family is going to be better off if we’re living this life God’s given us together rather than stressing out about documenting it.

Speaking of documenting stories, Ive love sharing pieces of our adoption story all over the internet this month in honor of National Adoption Awareness Month and as part of my ebook launch. Today I'm sharing about my Thanksgiving baby at Britta LaFont's blog. 

You can see a list of all the posts here and "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is on sale for $2.99 this month. 


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, November 18, 2014

Why Adoption Awareness Month Matters – to everyone

Not everyone will adopt – and that’s okay. God certainly doesn’t call every family to the same thing, but he does encourage all of us to help the least of these, which includes orphans that may never have a family to meet their basic needs or families in your communities who need extra help to survive.

National Adoption Awareness Month is a good time to think about these orphans. Regardless of where you live or how much money you have, there are plenty of ways you can serve these children who are loved and wanted and chosen by the Creator of the world.

COMPASSION INTERNATIONAL :: Yes, you can sponsor a child for $38 a month and ensure medical, physical, educational and spiritual needs are met for a particular child. This sponsorship becomes a relationship as letters are exchanged. My kids especially love when our two sponsored kids draw us pictures. Coloring is a universal language, apparently.

But if you can't or already do sponsor a child, you can also make one-time donations to help with critical needs. We especially love gifting families and communities items from the gift catalog.

You can also give to the Child Survival Program. These centers help babies who aren't old enough for the monthly sponsorship program and their mothers. So you donation would help prevent illnesses with medical check-ups and immunizations, provide nutrition for pregnant women and babies, prepare moms with child-care training, and proclaim Jesus to these women in poverty.

SAMARITAN’S PURSE :: This is the ministry that organizes Operation Christmas Child, which sends shoe boxes packed with toiletries and treats to children in more than 130 countries. Samaritan's Purse has worked with local churches and other ministries to send these shoe box gifts to more than 100 million kids since 1993.

This year, the shoe boxes are being collected at local sites this week. You can find out what to pack inside the shoe boxes, where they can be dropped off, and where they are shipped at the Operation Christmas Child website. We stuffed shoe boxes with friends from church last week. It's a great way to get kids involved in giving and make a difference in someone else’s life.

We’ve also purchased items from Samaritan’s Purse gift catalog.

LOCAL CRISIS PREGNANCY CENTERS :: We love how the staff at our local crisis pregnancy center values life and encourages mothers. Donations and volunteers are always welcome. And this doesn’t always mean going out and buying something. When my kids would move out of a diaper size but I still had unused diapers in that size, I just bagged them up and dropped them off. The staff here sorts them and re-bundles them. We also donated our crib when we no longer needed that piece of furniture.

FAMILIES WHO ARE ADOPTING :: Having been there, adoption processes are better endured with friends. We had friends pray, help with fund-raisers, write letters of recommendation, and encourage. They came alongside of us and shared in the journey.

FAMILIES WHO ARE FOSTERING :: Sometimes families who foster become home to a child with such little notice, meaning they don’t always have the right sized clothes. I’ve saved tubs of my kids clothes as they out grow them, but I like to pass them along to other families who can use them. From what I’ve heard about the foster system, families venture down a sometimes rocky road when they open their home – sometimes for a short time and sometimes forever – to these children. Not only are they adding a person into their family, but they’re navigating a bureaucratic system that seems to cause frustrations and disruptions.

LOCAL FOOD PANTRIES :: If you’re in Calloway County, the Needline Food Project is an easy, consistent way to help families whose cabinets may be bare. Every other month, a neighborhood coordinator will come pick up your bag of groceries and deliver it to Needline. My family picks up extra canned goods when we do our regular grocery shopping and even the kids understand it’s a way to give back to our neighbors.

This time of the year there are extra opportunities to give through various gift collections. Each of us can’t participate in them all, but we can all give in some way. I encourage you to find a way that fits your family, build some traditions around helping the least of these, and support those in the process of expanding their families.

In honor of National Adoption Awareness Month, my ebook "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is on sale for $2.99 at Amazon. I'm sharing an excerpt about how God hears the desires of our hearts regardless of our words at Mandy's Hearts Undaunted blog today. Come join me there!

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."

Monday, November 17, 2014

Giveaway Goodness :: The After Party

Thanks to all of you who joined me for my inaugural Facebook party! Even if you weren't able to make it, the giveaways will stay open throughout Tuesday and then I'll randomly select winners Wednesday morning.

Here is what you could win ...

"Peace in the Process" & Cinnamon Rolls :: I've shared excerpts from my ebook all over the internet this month. And it's on sale for just $2.99 the rest of this month. BUT someone is going to win a copy of it. AND some homemade cinnamon rolls from my friend Barb. Y'all. Cinnamon rolls are my favorite dessert and Barb's are the best of the best.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

"Love Idol" by Jennifer Dukes Lee & DaySpring Magnets :: Letting go of perfection has been one of my journeys. One of the greatest resources in doing this has been Jennifer Dukes Lee's "Love Idol" book. I spent time earlier this year blogging about this book and its message for my soul. It's become a foundation in so many other messages and lessons from God in my every day life as a wife, mom, believer, writer, and friend.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ebooks by Britta LaFont, Kayse Pratt & Victoria Osborn :: My writing friends have been such an encouragement to me this year, when I've poured much energy into my blog and self-publishing my ebook. I'm excited to share these three ebooks with you. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Slugs & Bugs' "Under Where?" CDs :: Randall Goodgame and I became friends when I organized some Slugs & Bugs concerts here throughout the past several years. He graciously endorsed my book. Plus he sings a fun song that celebrates adoption

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Copper Anchor 8x10 Print & Magnetic 4x6 Picture Frame and Memo Board :: The lovely Lisa Larson from The Copper Anchor redesigned my blog earlier this month and now she's letting someone choose a print from her shop, which is raising money for her family's adoption. Plus I'm throwing in a magnet picture frame and memo board because I like those kind of things and figured you would too! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

"God Made Light" by Matthew Paul Turner & LIGHT mix CD :: My word this year has been LIGHT. God's used that single word in more ways than I ever expected. I'm always a sucker for a good children's book. Matthew Paul Turner self-published this lovely book that I'm gifting to more than one child in my life for Christmas. So I wanted to gift someone this book plus a mix CD of some songs that have encouraged me this year. {This book and accompanying night light, note cards and puzzle are also available at DaySpring.}

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Trades of Hope Bracelet :: My friend Becky sells Trades of Hope items that educate and empower women all over the world. I liked Becky's description of this specific bracelet; "The Uganda wrap bracelet is made of paper beads. It's a bouncy wrap that's fun to wear and fun to play with, as my boys have proven.". 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

{You can find all these giveaways and the associated chatter on my Facebook page. I'd love to connect with you there too.}

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."

{Review} Trading Secrets

This was a quick, entertaining read. In fact, I read it in less time that it took to fly home from Disney World, thanks to a three-hour layover. I don't usually read young adult fiction, but this one seemed worth reading when I was asked if I was interested in reviewing it.

I haven't read Melody Carlson before, but I appreciated how she weaved Amish culture and beliefs in with this coming-of-age story. She's an author I'd share with my daughter when she's older.

The book begins with a teenage girl named Micah facing the misunderstanding-turned-lie that she wasn't actually a boy like her long-time pen pal, Zack, assumed. While circumstances that set up the story were unrealistic, the plot flowed easily and the characters seemed to face realistic internal conflicts.

ABOUT THE BOOK :: Released in October, "Trading Secrets" brings young adults a tale of worlds colliding, secrets being revealed, and friendships forming. Teens will enjoy this story of miscommunication and mishaps along the way to the truth.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR :: Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books for teens, women and children. Her novels range from serious issues like schizophrenia to lighter topics like house-flipping, but most of the inspiration behind her fiction comes right out of real life. She's won a number of awards (including Romantic Time's Career Achievement Award, the Rita and the Gold Medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog. To find out more about Melody Carlson, visit her website.

I received a free electronic copy of this book from Revell Books via Net Galley. This review is my own opinion.

In honor of National Adoption Awareness Month, my ebook "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is on sale for $2.99 at Amazon. 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."

Friday, November 14, 2014

Living with diabetes

I’ve spent much of this month writing and sharing about adoption around here. But I recently learned November is also National Diabetes Awareness Month. 

For the past decade, I’ve been injecting insulin since my Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis. I was going on 25 and setting into what would become our hometown not even two years into marriage when my doctor – who I met for the first time that day – told me my pancreas wasn’t producing insulin. I needed to be hospitalized to get my 500-something blood sugar down and have a crash course on drawing insulin into syringes, injecting said insulin, monitoring my blood sugar levels, and counting carbohydrates. Every bit of this was new to me.

{Read more about my diagnosis and treatment since in a post from earlier this year.}

I barely read nutrition levels before I spent three days in the hospital learning the basics of diabetes while discovering feeling better – energized, rested – really was possible. I didn’t know I felt so bad until I started feeling good again.

I was scared to leave the hospital. I was scared to manage this disease. I was worried about food choices and insulin intake. I felt burdened by these new responsibilities. But I just did it. The fear drove me to learn and manage and cope.

Thankfully, diabetes doesn’t scare me anymore. Sometimes I think I’ve actually become too comfortable.

I don’t inject insulin with syringes anymore. I wear an insulin pump that mimics a working pancreas. It’s programmed with ratios and formulas that actually give me more freedom – something I was suspicious of before I had a pager-sized device in my pocket or waist band nearly all of the time.

I’ve learned more since January 2004 than I ever did in a high school or college science class. I’ve had doctors care for me in the medical and intellectual ways I needed to move forward and manage this chronic condition in ways I would never be able to do alone. I’ve learned when to best exercise and can nearly always guess at my blood sugar level based on how I feel.

Like anything in life, there’s still room to learn more and do even better caring for myself. So that’s what I’m thinking about this month.

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, November 13, 2014

Camping out in community

My boy wanted to go camping for his fifth birthday. {I’m going to discuss camping in this post, not so much how I can’t believe we’re even discussing Ben turning 5 …} But November 23 is a little risky for camping in Kentucky. It could be lovely weather. Or it could be bitterly cold. So months ago, we decided to go camping the second weekend of November. It seemed safer.

Turns out, the weather was chilly – mid-50s during the day and into the 30s overnight. But both the weekend before and forecast for the upcoming weekend were even colder. Score one for Mother Nature, really.

But my boy had a blast. And so did the rest of the family.

We went with our best friends. Boys slept in tents and girls slept in the RV my mother-in-law graciously let us borrow because, really, I don’t sleep in tents. My pregnant friend Sarah and her 18-month-old daughter braved a tent with her husband and two boys the first night and decided to join us inside the second time. She pretty much wins a Mom of the Year badge for camping while pregnant and with a toddler.

The other seven kids were 8 and younger, if you’re keeping up with the group.

We did all the camping stereotypes – roasted marshmallows for s’mores, roasted hot dogs, grilled burgers, went on walks, checked out the lake, and got up each morning with the sun. We layered our clothes and nobody really complained about it being cold. We ate well and talked much.

And two other families who have boys my boy’s age joined us for a lunchtime birthday party on Saturday. That’s when we roasted hot dogs and sang “Happy Birthday” to Ben two weeks and one day early. They boys played football and shot at a foam target with Ben’s new bow and arrow set that he’s thanked me for 18 times since. {Daddy wins for picking out that gift!}

When the guys had taken all the kids {well done!} to play on the baseball and soccer fields, Sarah, Jaclyn and I sat around and talked. We discussed what we’d do different next time – such as not try to prep a few of the foods we attempted in that itty-bitty RV kitchen. But the fact we were discussing “next time” means this time was a success.

This is a subject people seem to have opinions about. So, do you like the camp?

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, November 12, 2014

{Three Word Wednesday} I Get To ...

Welcome to Three Word Wednesday! If you’re joining me from Beth Stiff’s lovely place, I’m so glad you’re here. Please make yourselves at home. 

152 Insights to My Soul
If you’re not sure what Three Word Wednesday is about, then please stay and let me tell you. Three Word Wednesday is a chance to pause in the hustle of life and hear God. Sum up what you’re hearing in three words. Those three words are enough. But I like stories, so feel free to elaborate with your words or pictures. Then link up your post below each Wednesday and visit your link-up neighbors. If you don’t blog, you’re still welcome to participate. Share in the comments below or on Facebook.

Feel free to grab the Three Word Wednesday button from my sidebar and share it at your place. 

And one more piece of business :: Ava Watkins, you’re the winner of “Bread & Wine” in Beth’s giveaway last week. We hope you love the book as much as we do.

Without further ado, I GET TO …

My kids were helping me unload the dishwasher recently when my 7-year-old daughter Cate stopped with a stack of plastic cups in her hand and said, “Didn’t we do this yesterday?”

Yes, we sure did. I reminded her that we eat multiple meals each day, thus continuing the unending cycles of loading and unloading the dishwasher. And as a family, we work together when things need to be done.

{I should have launched into how when Cate was born we didn’t even have a dishwasher. I washed all those bottles by hand. And then when she was about 8 months old, we had our kitchen remodeled, thus clearing the space for a dishwasher in our other house.}

But, yes, we unloaded the dishwasher yesterday. Because I cooked dinner yesterday too. And I did laundry who knows how many days in a row. And I drove you kids to school. And … the list could go on and on.

My girl’s question reminded me of how many chores and outings and tasks I do over and over again. Too often I take that repeating cycle for granted. I just go about our routine, sometimes even complaining about more clothes and more dishes that need washing, like the household chores own my time. But, really, shouldn’t I be thankful I have people to clothe and feed? Shouldn’t I be grateful we have machines that I can load and program to help me with my work?

That same evening – after the dishwasher was unloaded and loaded back again – I gathered in my basement with some other women for our weekly study of Beth Moore’s “Breaking Free.” At the beginning of the video session, Beth Moore said something that applied directly to Cate’s question not an hour earlier: “Don’t let familiarity cheat you of a blessing.” She was talking about how we assume we know what a scripture will speak to us because we’ve heard it so many times.

But her words applied to my heart that night in a different way.

I made a mental list of all the things I do every day that I don’t see as blessings. Dishes. Laundry. Dinner. Errands. Taking insulin. Setting my alarm. Packing my girl’s lunch. I see these things as chores and responsibilities.

But I love my life, especially the people in my house. I should go about those oh-so familiar chores and responsibilities and tasks with an attitude of “I get to …” rather than seeing them as a never-ending list of what I have to do before the day is done.

I want my attitude toward all these things that I do nearly every day to reflect how I feel about my people. I want to love my husband and kids through my housekeeping and meal planning. I want to serve and help and create and finish because I get to – and there most certainly is a blessing in that.


I'm sharing this post in two other link-up communities I love :: Jennifer Dukes Lee's #TellHisStory and Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart

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."

Monday, November 10, 2014

Let's party! :: On being {mostly} an extrovert

I’m an extrovert, but I have plenty of introvert tendencies. Officially, my personality falls in the extroverted category, but it’s only a moderate advantage over the introverted version. I like to plan and host parties. I get my emotional fill from being around those closest to me. But after prolonged socializing, I like to retreat for a short time. I don’t like speaking in front of crowds.

So when I was invited to share our adoption story on the local Christian radio station last week, my immediate reaction was mixed: Yes, I’d love that opportunity. But it’s totally out of my comfort zone.

I’ve long considered myself a writer, but certainly not a speaker – mostly because my hands get clammy and I worry about the words that’ll come out of my mouth. When I write, I can draft words. Speaking has always seemed to require confidence in the first verbal draft.

Here’s a small world story. Eddie invited me on the radio. I know Eddie because when he left the Murray Ledger & Times, I was hired. So we’re both former reporters who occupied the same desk in the same newsroom at one point. He went onto do a couple of those jobs, settling in at the radio station. I’ve been mothering and freelancing and doing various other projects.

When I got into his radio studio Wednesday morning one of the first things he said to me calmed my nerves: When I wrote at the Ledger and made a mistake, it was out there in print. Now if I make a mistake, it’s out there and then gone. Of course, I’m still more confident writing, go figure.

I appreciated his perspective, even though in my head, I know people sometimes hear and remember more than we think they do. But the mistakes aren’t staring you in the face when you speak into a microphone in a small studio without an audience staying you in the face. And by you, I mean me. So, really, the radio interview was so much better than speaking to an actual audience. Of course, when my time was up, I got some texts, phone calls, and Facebook comments that helped define who my audience had been.

Anyway, the radio interview was a good experience. Eddie asked me about our adoption story and my book and I talked about how writing the story was therapeutic, how I hope the book encouraging others, how adoption helped build my faith, how the book on sale this month, and where to find my words on my blog, on Facebook, and on Amazon. {And this month

I wish I had asked him if we could record the interview. I wish I had remembered to take a picture. But those details slipped my mind when I was getting myself ready to speak words into a microphone for who knows who in western Kentucky to hear.

And speaking of my extroverted ways that have introverted tendencies, I’m having a Facebook party! I’d love for you to mark your calendars {because, yes, planning is part of my personality too!} to join me on my Facebook page on Monday, Nov. 17 from 8 to 9 p.m.

It’s the best of both worlds – a party with interaction and conversation but without having to get out of your soft pants or even brush your hair. There will be discussions to join, prizes to win, and new friends to meet.

Not that a reason is actually necessary, but I’m having a Facebook party now because I have multiple things to celebrate ::

  • Lisa Larson of The Copper Anchor made my blog so pretty. 
  • I’m thrilled to be hosting the Three Word Wednesday link up that my dear friend Beth entrusted to me. 
  • My ebook is on sale this month because it’s National Adoption Awareness Month. I know some of you may be tired of hearing about it, but it’s my favorite to story to tell so I’m enjoying sharing about it now that the project is finished and out there.

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."