SECRET Red Plate GIVEAWAY (for newsletter readers!)

*Updated with Winner* Congrats to Jerralea! You won!

I have a red plate-given to me by a family member years ago. I LOVE IT. I love how it makes my family members feel special when I serve them dinner on their birthday or if they need a little boost of encouragement.

Christian speaker, Sue Heimer, is giving one of these special plates (value $32.75) to one of my newsletter readers! Yay! I encourage all of you to start this special tradition in your family.

You can order a plate today and even get free priority shipping if you order two!

Grace-Based Parenting Tip #3 & Giveaway!

*UPDATED* Congratulations to Ami!  She won the book.  Come back next week for another Grace-Based Giveaway!
I want the best for my kids.
I want them to have a great childhood, a good education, Godly character traits and a bright future.
I want them to pluck the black hairs from my chin when I’m decrepit be successful in life. 
Through the Grace-Based parenting resources, I’ve learned that aiming my children at a future focused on success isn’t the same at aiming them at true greatness.
Doesn’t the phrase true greatness just make something deep within you stand up and say, “YES! That’s it! That’s what I want for my kids!”
The world defines success by these measurements:  wealth, beauty, power and fame.
Okay.  Suddenly, I’m not feeling so successful. 
In Dr. Kimmel’s book, Raising Kids for True Greatness, he defines true greatness as “a passionate love for Jesus Christ that shows itself in an unquenchable love and concern for others.” Directing them towards true greatness helps to focus them upward and outward, rather than inward.
Aiming children at success complicates their lives and contributes to self-absorption. 
How many self absorbed grown up children (a.k.a adults) do we know?
Dr. Kimmel teaches that true greatness is easier to achieve by building four qualities in a child’s heart:
  • A Humble Heart-a reverence for God and respect for others.
This is the last thing our culture is teaching our children. We can’t leave this up to the school system or even the church.  It’s our responsibility as parents to teach our kids how to respect others and revere God.  
What does a humble heart look like?  We are working on developing this in our home: a mutual respect for each other’s ideas and thoughts (as in the oldest child dismissing everything the younger siblings say). I think our kids take cues from us..they are always watching.
  • A Grateful Heart-An appreciation for what they have been given and Who has given it.
I think complaining and grumbling is the direct result of an ungrateful heart.  We all know how it feels for our children to act unthankful!
A friend of mine shared this idea with me: create a ‘blessing box’ and jot down a small note EVERY time a blessing comes your way, from little things like finding a $1 on the sidewalk to big stuff like Dad finding a new job. I think this will teach my kids just how many blessings we have. During Thanksgiving, open the box and read the blessings. I’ll show you our box after we finish making it!
  • A Generous Heart-A great delight in sharing with others what God has entrusted in you.
Perhaps this is the one quality that we have really hammered home. We have had so many opportunities to give lately (Russian friends from The Persecuted Church) that I have planned a special day on my blog to encourage others to give:  One Day to Give.  God has given us so much and we are learning that not only is it fun to give to others, it feels awesome!  
We wanted to take it a step further and teach our children on their level.  We took 3 plastic boxes and had them decorate them with stickers: Spending, Giving, Saving. Every dollar that comes their way, they take a percentage and place it in each box. It has really taught them the value of money and they are having fun watching their pennies grow!

  • A Servant Heart-A willingness to take action in order to help someone else.
On Labor Day, I was very proud of my kids and hubby. They took this principal to heart and spent several hours collecting trash at the pond near our house.  No one noticed or said thank you, but I knew they really ‘got it’ because they weren’t looking for praise.
But I also think this is the weakest area in our home. We are all selfish by nature and it’s easy to slip into the habit of taking care of ourselves first. I think it’s easier for them to serve a stranger than their siblings. So, we’re working on it!
When my last child leaves home, I want to be able to hold my hubby’s hand and look into the mirror and know that we’ve raised truly great kids.
And then it won’t matter if the world calls them a success.
Because they will be.
If you would like this amazing book, Raising Kids for True Greatness, leave me a comment by Thursday noon (CST). Family Matters has been kind enough to donate one!
For more great tips, visit Works for Me Wednesday!

You Would Have Done It Too

On Saturday, I received a desperate email from the Animal Shelter where we adopted Alice the Cat. [We love Alice, but we needed her like we needed a hole in our head!]

It stated that hundreds of animals were turned in or picked up before and after Hurricane Ike. The facility was overcrowded, understaffed and electricity had just been restored. It was struggling to keep up, just like so many places in our city.
Many animals were going to be euthanized
Meet our new family member (because one hole in our head wasn’t enough):
His name is Ike.

One Day To Give

Do you ever feel like your supposed to do something?

I don’t mean catch up on laundry or cook dinner. (Although that does fit my daily job requirement).

I’m talking about a tug, a quiet voice, a gentle urging to act, to do, to give.

When I was very pregnant with my first child, I went grocery shopping for the last time. My basket was overflowing with everything I thought I might need, you know, in case I died during childbirth or at least was paralyzed from my planned epidural. You could say I was a bit paranoid.

We lived on a Youth Pastor’s salary and seriously stretched every dollar. I’ll never forget that day at the store. I was huge and hungry. I took a pint of chocolate milk from the refrigerated section and drank the entire thing right there in the store.

I wasn’t even embarrassed that I dribbled the milk down my yellow top.

I was all about my dairy needs.

As I pushed my giant cart to the register, the cashier looked at me and said, “Someone offered to buy your entire basket of groceries.”

Excuse me? She pointed to a lady I didn’t know very well, but had seen at our church. She looked at me and said, “I’m supposed to do this.”

Her kind and generous act changed our entire month financially because that basket of groceries cost more than $200.

It also changed my attitude and reminded me that God saw every need.

I was thinking about this when I was reading Bring the Rain. I read about Angie selling her Coach purse on ebay and giving the money to charity. Her unselfishness and love for others touched me.

And so I asked myself, what could I give that means something to me?

Something personal. Something I value, given to someone else.

I’ve had a check sitting on my desk for a couple of weeks, one of my first from blog ads. I hadn’t spent it yet, because I was waiting on the perfect gift to buy. For me. I share everything with my hubby and with the needs of my three kids, so I don’t have undesignated sums of money laying around. Exactly.

So, this money was mine. To do as I pleased and I was going to buy something grand.

During the bloggy giveaway carnival, I was inundated with comments for my giveaway (a Tinkerbell Digital Player) as most blogs were. It was so fun! My laptop pinged like a slot machine with each email that came in.

But there was one comment that made me cry. I mean, call me hormonal, but it really touched me.

Oh. My. We spend hours and hours and hours driving to doctors and  

hospitals for our littlest brother.

My nine year old is bored out of her gourd through out all of this.  

But because she loves her little brother, she never complains.

The TINK would be such a welcome gift!

Thank you for the opportunity!

Okay, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to totally rig the contest. The thought crossed my mind several times, especi
ally after I went to their family blog,
Praying for Parker

And so, I knew what I was supposed to do with that check. I shared the story with my kids and they were very excited about surprising this little girl with something special. So, I emailed her.  

Here’s her response:

I am just now getting to my email.  I read this and almost fell off of my chair!  lol!  My daughter, Kensley, would be absolutely delighted!

It is hard when you are the child just next to the one with special needs.  You go from being the baby… having to grow up so, so quickly.  You are asked to try and understand things that really are way beyond your reach of understanding.  

You sacrifice.  A lot.  

But her heart is so good.  I would love for her to have a Tink so that she knows her selflessness hasn’t gone unnoticed nor unappreciated.

I was supposed to do that. I would have regretted it if I hadn’t.

I’m not telling you this to receive praise, actually, please, do not praise me.

One Day to Give was born out of a desire to touch someone. It doesn’t have to be monetary. You can give your time, a service, a meal or something you own.

It’s not about the what.

It’s about the why. You might change someone’s day, even their life.

And giving feels so good.

Our family is taking the challenge and I’ll be sharing what we’re giving on Oct. 17. 

You have 25 days from now to do something for someone. 

Will you accept the challenge?

Come back here and link up your post. (You can link up an older post as long as it is appropriate to giving). And this isn’t just for bloggers, readers can participate too.  You can share your story in the comments.

Your One Day to Give.

A Love Letter to My Husband

My Dear Husband,

When I was a little girl, I played make believe.  
I pretended to cook and clean and to be a Momma to my baby dolls. (I did not role play walking around WalMart with a screaming toddler, because there are some things that you must experience to truly appreciate).
But in my naive mind, I imagined a man, a husband.  He was brave and strong and very handsome.  And he loved me.
It was a dream.
And some might call this a silly fairy tale or the immature longings of a girl who loved romance.
But I call it my life.
Because you are the man of my dreams.
You are the first to hold me when I am afraid.
You are my encourager when I doubt myself.
You are the one who made me a Mother.
You are also the one who still leaves his clothes on the floor.  (Just keeping it real).
I am not a little girl anymore. I am a woman and you are a man.   
But I can’t help but think of the things I didn’t dream about….
I didn’t dream that I would hear my husband praying over me as I dozed off to sleep.
I didn’t dream that my husband would buy journals for each of his children and write letters to them. Because he longed to leave them a legacy.
I didn’t dream that my husband would face his own personal battle and show me what a victor looks like.
I didn’t dream that my man would be a Chick-Fil-A fairy, delivering sweet tea in my moments of need.
Today you turn 38 years old.  And more than anything, I want you to know that I love you more than I ever dreamed.  
You are a man among men. You stand out as you lead our family. You are my heart, my life, my best friend, my soul mate.
And the best back scratcher this side of the Mississippi.
You are unique and beautiful.  
And you are mine.
Happy Birthday, husband. I cried when you told me you wanted Russian language lessons for your birthday. 
That request alone, makes you a hero in my world. I am so proud of you.
Thank you for making my dreams come true.
P.S. Do you like my new shirt?
Oh, and I got you one, of course!
(t-shirts are from from me tees)
Food for the Soul:
“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”- 2 Corinthians 13:14

THAT Family Tree Society-Issue 10

Pictures of the Week from the Farm:

Homemade dung (thankfully, made from mud).

An evacuated kitty.

Flies who never had a chance, really. (My kids are adding fly paper to their Christmas list!)

The Week in Review: We spent the first part of the week surviving and fleeing Hurricane Ike. The rest of the week was spent on my in-laws farm in Oklahoma. Have I mentioned that I love the farm?

And now, I’d love to introduce you to Mom Most Traveled. She submitted this post . And I could completely relate to her experience! Go give her some love, m’kay?

1. Tell us a little about your blog (name/reason why you blog):

My blog is Mom Most Traveled. I started it because I enjoyed the friendships I formed with other bloggers in my old blog (I need to say blog one more time…blog. Okay; no more blog talk). It was also supposed to be away for extended family to keep up with us as we travel and/or live on the other side of the world. Somehow it turned into a review blog as well.

2. How long have you blogging?

I started what I called an “internet diary” in 2000. I didn’t really know the term “blog”.

3. How would you define THAT family? 

THAT family is the one that gets all of the stares and the under-the-breath comments. “Here comes that JONES boy again…”

4. When did you discover you were a part of THAT family?

I wish I could blame my children but I realized it first when as a young married couple my husband and I entered a talent show at an ESL teacher’s conference in Thailand. We wrote what we thought was a funny song about using a squat toilet. We of course expected the talent show to be light-hearted, but to my horror the act before us was a mother-daughter team doing sign language to the song Love in Any Language. We did go on to perform our act but those in attendance were obviously disturbed. One girl rewound her video camera to record over our skit. And the next year before the talent show they made a general announcement about not performing distasteful skits (and they actually said this), “like a song about a squatty potty or something.”Later when my first child was born I sort of got “bad mom vibes” from the other mothers at playgroup because I let my son eat paper. They would say, “Oh! He has PAPER IN HIS MOUTH!” and I would be all, “What!?! OH NO!” even though secretly I didn’t care. I had to put on my “good mom face” in public.

5. Where can we find your blog?

DIYP#17-A View of The World

Isn’t this a gorgeous room?  I saw this in a Pottery Barn magazine more than 5 years ago!  
My favorite part of this room is the giant world wall map.
Of course, it has a big price tag on it.
But, this frugal Momma searched the internet and found something very similar.  I think ours turned out just as good!  And it was a lot cheaper. My son’s room:
Several of you saw the map in the background of a post last week and asked me how we did it.
I ordered the map off ebay a couple of years ago.  Look, there’s one listed on there right now! But there’s also several other internet sources (google world map mural) and you can get one for less than $100.
My hubby and I cleaned the wall and knocked off some of the texture for a smooth surface.  The map applies much like wallpaper.  The trickiest part is matching up the large strips accurately, so let’s say Texas, doesn’t end up in the Middle East.
Here’s a great link from This Old House on applying wallpaper.
The map was actually much bigger than the wall, so we chose to ‘build’ our map with North America as the focal point.
My son’s room started off in airplanes about 4 years ago, but I recently redid it in pirates. A map theme is really versatile! 

The Good News & The Bad News…

I have some news.

The good news is we are home! I’ve never been so happy to clean out a mildewed fridge. We heard power had been restored and we kissed the farm goodbye and headed home in a hurry. We’ve never made such good time and I’m thinking that’s miraculous considering 2/3 of our children are suffering with a plague called Hand-Foot-Mouth Virus. It is a lovely bug.

Thank you for all your prayers and sweet comments and good thoughts you sent our way.

Now, the bad news.

I have gained five pounds this past week.

And I hold Hurricane Ike completely responsible.

When we weren’t stumbling around in the dark, we were eating. We seriously put away some serious hurricane preparedness.

Even my toddler picked up on the necessity of a full belly. This is how I found her baby doll: 

If you add the new five pounds to the old six baby pounds I never lost, and couple that with the four pounds I’ve gained from sweet tea, you’ve got someone who needs to lose fifteen pounds, just to squeeze back in her clothes (that have gone up a size with every child).

And so, I think I’m getting fat, y’all (I realize that this is based on the eye of the beholder, but let me add that I am not exactly tall). And I’m on a dark and lonely road filled with vanilla Oreo cookies.

I need some accountability. And since you guys have been so helpful in my life, I thought I’d propose this idea:

I will take a picture of myself naked every week so you can watch the progress.

How’s that for some accountability?

Oh, I kid.

I know there would be vasts amounts of internet jealousy.

And puking. Lots of puking.

So, first, I need ideas. How do I lose fifteen pounds? (please do not suggest I give up sweet tea, those comments will be deleted).

I’m thinking about just putting a thumbs up or down sign out there once a week, so y’all can keep me on track.

Or do I need to charge my camera?