Just a quick shout out to my new favorite photographer, Marianne Wiest! Check out her Facebook page here, and her awesome website here.
She recently did our family photos and as I looked over them yesterday with my grandma I realized – again – what a treasure great photos are. They bring back the memories of cherished days and moments as if they were just yesterday; a wonderful thing, especially when it seems like the days are flying by more and more the older I get.
If you want a stellar photographer at a great rate, CHOOSE THIS GAL! 🙂
Hello one and all! My name is Jennah, and – like most of you, I am sure – this is my first time participating in a blog-based book club. I am excited about the possibilities that it holds, and honored to have been given the opportunity to join in.
Let me kick this whole party off by saying WOW! What a heady and multi-faceted book! Twists, turns, family secrets, love, intrigue – The Muir House has it all in one speed-read package! I read the whole thing in 4 hours…I could not put it down if I wanted to, to be honest. I loved the foreshadowing and hidden gems sprinkled throughout the book, as if I were a detective on the hunt for the truth right along with Willa. I have long been a fan of books that allow me to climb inside them and explore as I read, and this was definitely one of those books.
As a quick recap of my thoughts before I get into the meat of my post:
LOVED the characters – very diverse, believable, and well-developed. My favorite? I actually liked feisty old Mrs. Skye (Genie); from the start I had a feeling she was highly connected with Willa…although I never suspected she would be an aunt, of sorts.
LOVED the setting. I am from the Seattle area originally, so I really identified with that part of Willa’s life. As I have never been to the South, I also enjoyed reading about that area as well.
LIKED the storyline. It was a great plot – I am, however, one of those people that cannot stand suspense, especially when it pertains to family/child types of things. So I must confess that when I got halfway through, I skipped to the end and found out what happened and then returned to my happy reading blitz. I know, I know: that is a cardinal sin to many, but I did find that (personally) I enjoyed the second half of the book much more, since I knew where all of the characters were coming from.
DISLIKED the ending. I am a sucker for complete endings, whether it is a wedding neatly wrapped in bows and confetti, or a knock-down, drag-out fight that separates a few characters forever. I know that Hale and Willa end up together, but I could not help thinking about other loose ends that my OCD-self would love to have seen resolved a bit more.
This brings me to the thought I had last night that kept me awake until I could open my laptop lid and start getting those thoughts out onto this post: the idea of chaos as a comfort zone. It comes up throughout the book, but mainly on pages 126-127. Indulge me as I quote 🙂
Willa: “That makes no sense. Why would chaos be a safe place?”
Hale: “Because it’s what’s comfortable for you, what you know. What if God were calling you to something radically different? What if He wanted you to let go of the drama, to turn your back on it, and walk confidently in a new place.”
Willa: “So you’re saying that to live a normal life is a risk for me?”
Hale: “Guess what Willa…You have a choice. Chaos or wholeness. I know it sounds wacko, but your comfort zone is chaos. Take a risk for wholeness.”
Talk about powerful! These lines hit me like a baseball bat. As a mom to two little ones, the wrangler of two puppies, and the manager of three businesses, controlled chaos seems to come with the territory, and until now, it has been something that I have just accepted. To be totally transparent, I would have to agree with Hale in that at its core, my chaos is probably a comfort zone for me. It allows me to make excuses – viable excuses – when I am tired, overwhelmed, and perhaps not running at my best pace.
It pains me to realize this, but I think that, like Willa, I hide behind a mask of busyness and self-inflicted chaos, when all that I need to live in peace and serenity is effort. In all fairness, it will be a LOT of effort, but this raises another question: at what point does the risk and effort it will take to let peace reign supreme in my life become worth the accountability and vulnerability that I will be stepping into? Being on the ball and not allowing emergencies and chaos to lead me does, by definition, require that I am prepared. That I stop procrastinating. That I live with – dare I say it – a focused purpose instead of flying all over the board every day.
I really look forward to hearing what you all have to say about this valuable insight that Willa and Hale’s relationship brings to light for my life and for your lives – Let the conversation begin! 🙂
I am not one to wax eloquent on matters of Scripture – I leave this to skilled and extremely gifted Biblical scholars and preachers such as Levi Lusko, Mike Jones, and countless others that are impacting the world for Christ on a daily basis. However, as a mom and as a wife, my life comes equipped with countless pockets of grace that are ripe for the proverbial picking.
Just the other day I sat thinking about how blessed my husband and I are. We have never had to search for work – it has always come to us, whether through referrals or simply being at the “right place at the right time.” We have branched out into the world of business-ownership, and while that has definitely brought with it a large measure of financial uncertainty, we have always had our needs met and had enough to be able to feel we can share that blessing with others. All of this, and still I am so undeserving of it all. I complain. I worry. I try to do things on my own strength without leaning on God or even praying. I get short-tempered with my kids and irritated at my husband and family. How is it that even in the midst of my failure to measure up that God is still so faithful?
The word faithful is a “many-splendored thing;” it means so much and yet so often I say the word without even taking the time to think about what it really means. Faithful is defined (among many things) as:
Steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant
Reliable, trusted, or believed
Adhering or true to a fact, a standard, or an original; accurate
The last definition really speaks to me. It implies that there was an original standard that someone is committed to maintaining no matter what. For the relationship I have with Christ, this helps me understand a little about WHY He is so faithful despite my sinfulness – He is approaching me not as the sinner that I am, but as the saved person I am now, and the perfect being I will one day be because of Him. That is the standard and benchmark that He is operating off of. Meanwhile, I have eyes only for the inadequacies of this life and this body, disallowing me to see things as God sees them. What a beautiful saving grace we have! How truly blessed we are to have a Father in heaven that sees BEYOND us into what He knows we are becoming – all because He loved us enough to die to pay for all that we so sinfully owe.
I pray peace for all of God’s saved children today, that you may rest in the knowledge that your Lord is, indeed, faithful.
I am so excited about this promo by Name.com and 5minutesformom.com – who would not want the chance to name a new app? My name idea for this app – which is a video-sharing app that allows you to instantly upload your phone videos without having to be connected to a computer – is InstiShare 🙂
If you like my idea, go to the site and like it via your Facebook account. You can also enter for your chance to win!
Lately I have found myself gravitating towards blogs written by dads when I have a spare moment to read articles that I see via Twitter and Facebook. I am not sure why this is, only that it is refreshing to hear things from the other side of the proverbial parenting coin. Recently I ran across this article on Parents.com written by Nick Shell, a dad and writer heralding from Alabama. I loved his candid writing style, but even more than that I found myself loving every word he used to describe his parenting experience.
The article talks about “7 things” he has stopped caring about since becoming a dad, all of which my husband and I can completely relate to. From drool to sleep depravation to keeping a functioning schedule, Nick’s humorous but straightforward reflections remind me that there are many things that we sacrifice for our kids and our families without even thinking about it.
Today at church the message was on “Having Everything Under Control” – something that I as a parent work at what seems like all the time. The reminder that I do not and cannot possibly have everything under control all the time was sobering, but not nearly as sobering as the reminder of who DOES have it all under control: the Lord. SO often I try to plan every minute of my day in a desperate attempt to retain control of the little things in my life as a parent that I still have a say in, such as when the kids have a nap, when the bills get paid, when we run errands, and more, never stopping to think about the fact that sometimes relaxing and not being so structured may not actually result in my world falling to pieces.
Like Peter – the impetuous and well-meaning disciple that wielded his sword in an show of bravery and control when the soldiers came to get Jesus in the Garden that night, I try to blaze my own trail when life gets crazy. Is this because I feel that no one else can fix things but me? Is it because I want to guarantee an outcome to the situation that is favorable to me? When I think about it, so often things end up going differently that how I plan them to be, despite my grandest of efforts. Kids get sick or have to go to the bathroom, requiring play-dates and shopping outings to be put on hold. Bills pile up before money comes in. Commitments get in the way of date nights. It is no wonder I go to bed many nights feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders!
I think I am going to make it my goal this week to – like Nick Shell – figure out what things I can stop caring about. Not to say that they do not matter at all, but to realize that in the big picture – knowing that God is in control anyway – some things can go by the wayside and the world will not come down around me. This may mean more toys strewn about, less clean counters, and a lot more kid’s laundry covered in grass and mud stains, but in the end I think that my kids will be happier, I will carry less stress around with me, and God will become my focus and not myself as I try to Super-mom my way through the day.
To God be the glory, great things He hath done,
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life our redemption to win,
And opened the life-gate that all may go in.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the earth hear His voice;
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the people rejoice;
Oh, come to the Father, through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory; great things He hath done.
Oh, perfect redemption, the purchase of blood,
To every believer the promise of God;
The vilest offender who truly believes,
That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.
Great things He hath taught us, great things He hath done,
And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son;
But purer, and higher, and greater will be
Our wonder, our transport when Jesus we see.
A recent article by Parents announced that the United States is improving in terms of the number of premature births that happen here each year. While this is very exciting and is something that is great food for thought during November – as it is National Prematurity Awareness Month – it raises for me some pressing questions regarding birth and infant mortality as a whole.
As a mom to two little girls that were born healthy and practically spot-on when it came to their due dates, it is easy for me to take for granted the blessing that their births were to me and my husband. This was made very clear to me when one of my best friends had her little girl – their first child – two months early, and life changed forever for them as parents.
They live in Seattle and, fortunately, had access to some of the best medical staff and technology available today; this contributed greatly to the quick growth and maturity that their daughter experienced in her stay at the Neonatal Care Unit. From warming beds to intense monitoring systems to round-the-clock care, she was provided with the best chance to flourish and thrive that modern medicine had to give.
My friend has since begun a campaign called the Painted Diaper to raise both awareness and financial aid for babies born prematurely across the world – specifically in the country of Haiti, where orphanages and hospitals that are capable of offering top-of-the-line care for prematurely-born babies are few and far between. She has partnered with an orphanage called God’s Littlest Angels in an effort to help purchase much-needed warming beds for their NICU care center.
As I think about the advances our country and other like us make each year, it also reminds me of all the places in the world that still need help setting up even basic preemie care facilities. Babies are, without a doubt, one of life’s greatest joys and blessings, and I want to live my life in such a way the at the end I can say “I did something to help those that could not help themselves.”
I am very excited about the Painted Diaper project, and I am sure that you are too. If you want to donate to their wonderful cause, you can do so here.
Recently I attended my first Twitter party, and – while I felt like the dunce in the corner as the smarter kids in the class totally passed me by, it was a great lesson for me in how Twitter parties can connect you with other like-minded people over a brief yet focused time span.
Sponsored by @MomCentral and filed under #FallTips, the party was all about discussing cleaning and healthy living tips and tricks in an effort to promote the Whirlpool and Affresh brands. Moms and dads alike weighed on on such questions as “How to you keep your family hydrated” and “How do you save energy;” the discussions were peppered with re-tweets and prize giveaways, and I am proud to say that I was a pre-party winner of a fabulous Affresh gift package! I am so excited for it to arrive, but I am even more excited about how awesome it was to get to experience firsthand what a Twitter party is like.
Not only did I have the chance to follow people who may never have come up on the Twitter “to-follow” suggestion page, but I also was able to gain some valuable tidbits to use on my own home (Who knew that microwaving a glass bowl filled with lemon juice and water could do wonders for cleaning out the microwave!). I highly encourage anyone who has yet to get involved in the Twitter community in this way to seize the opportunity the next time one presents itself – you will not be disappointed!
I am officially in love with My Wonderful Walls, a company based out of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Owned and operated by the Goins family, My Wonderful Walls creates gorgeous wall decal and mural kits that can turn any room into a masterpiece!
For many people, a smartphone seems like a toy; many use it to play games and download music, apps, and more, all at the touch of a button. But have you ever wondered how using a smartphone can actually benefit your company and your business? Smartphones are not only reliable devices for phone calls and text messaging; they can also help you stay in touch via email, organize your time, share documents with your associates, and much more. Read below to find out the top 5 ways a smartphone can benefit your company:
Boost your productivity. Who doesn’t want that? As a small business owner, the manager of large company, or the CEO of an international corporation, you probably dream of being more productive and able to fit more into your work hours. A smartphone can help you do that by allowing you access to your office files from your phone, enabling you to send emails on the go, or even by functioning as a payment portal (Square Up, anyone?).
Share information with your employees and clients easily. With old cell phones and even today’s regular flip phones, it is not always easy to share pictures, documents, or large files – even when using email on your phone. With a smartphone such as a Blackberry, iPhone or Android, you can now share larger files, connect with others, and trade information quickly and easily.
The World Wide Web is at your fingertips. With a smartphone, you can access Internet quickly and without the hassles that come with using an old cell phones without smartphone capabilities. This again allows you to stay connected no matter where you may be. From the airport, from home, from the hotel, or even from the beach – your ability to work away from the office is dramatically expanded thanks to the mobile Internet platforms available on any smartphone.
Stay organized. Write yourself notes or record voice messages, import your email and phone contacts from your computer to your phone, make lists, set alerts and reminders, and so much more. Your smartphone is full of tools to help you stay on top of things and stay organized without carrying a large and clumsy planner or laptop computer wherever you go.
Use Apps to your advantage. Think of the Apple store; when you come in, a representative enters your name on her or his iPhone and then all of a sudden any customer service agent in the store has your name on the waitlist and can help you right away once they are done with their previous customer. AT&T is using a similar system at their retail locations. You can use smartphones to optimize your customer service solutions or simply discover thousands of apps designed specifically with business men and women in mind.
To find out what smartphone is right for you, check out this article on About.com – it is a basic questionnaire to help you narrow down your smartphone options and help you decide what one may be a good fit for your personal and business needs. While it is not a smartphone specific process, it is a good jumping-off point for anyone looking to branch out into the new realm of phone technology.