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Family-Friendly Entertainment

Teaser Tuesdays: Canary Island Song by Robin Jones Gunn

5/31/11


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser:

"They were in the East bay, in sight of Angel Island, on a cloudy autumn afternoon, bundled up and sitting close on the top deck. The north wind caught itself in a freshly raised sail and made a blustery attempt to escape. But it couldn't let go; it belonged to them."

--pg. 29 Canary Island Song by Robin Jones Gunn

What are you reading?  If you have a teaser, you can head on over to Miz B's blog or share it here by leaving a comment.

Wordless Wednesday: Relaxing At The Park

5/25/11


For more Wordless Wednesday, visit Five Minutes for Mom. You can also share your W/W post in the linky below.





Uncommonly Cute Winner

5/23/11



Thank you to everyone who entered the Uncommonly Cute giveaway. The winner according to Random.org is:


#35 Jen M.  Congratulations!  I will be emailing you shortly.





Pump Up Your Book Tour: Surrendered Balance (Guest Post)

5/19/11


Today my guest author is Hermina Krista Pettiford who is on her first Virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book.  She shares the importance of getting involved in your child's education and the challenge of working parents.




About Hermina Krista Pettiford
Hermina Krista Pettiford is the women’s ministry leader in her local church - New Covenant Tabernacle located San Diego, CA where she lives with her family. She has a B. A. in Biblical Studies from Southern California Seminary. Her belief is that the Spirit of God and the Word of God work together to create dynamic power for living the Christian life, thus, she ministers with a solid Biblical message and with the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Her desire is to see women and families strengthened through God’s Word and their relationship with God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. She has written out of her own life experiences, and her gift and love of writing to and for the Lord.
You can find Krista Pettiford at her website; www.surrenderedbalance.com.


Do you live a fast paced and hectic life? Is your relationship with God suffering because of it? Imagine living a life of balance, in the flow of God’s will even while you’re always on the go. It is possible to flourish and have fulfillment in both your spiritual life and natural life without feeling as if you are neglecting either one. It comes by way of surrendered balance.
 Hermina Krista Pettiford, in her first book connects with modern the Christian woman, giving fresh ideas and insight for balancing the responsibilities of modern-life while maintain an intimate relationship with God.  In her personable style she gives practical solutions and applicable tools for women to make a life of surrendered balance no longer just a dream but a reality!

A modern Christian woman is someone who balances all of her responsibilities - family, career, friendship, ministry to others, and caring for herself all while keeping the Lord at the center of her life. If you are a modern Christian woman this book was written for you.
Proverbs 31:16 (AMP) says, “She considers a [new] field before she buys or accepts it [expanding prudently and not courting neglect of her present duties by assuming other duties]; with her savings [of time and strength] she plants fruitful vines in her vineyard.”
As modern Christian women we balance so much: time with the Lord, family, friends, work, staying fit and healthy, making time for ourselves without feeling too guilty, church and ministry. 

God has a plan for each one of us that will bring about a proper balance between our spiritual and natural life. It is through the path of surrender and making time for Him that we find this plan. As we allow God to order our lives, not taking on more than we can handle or are called by Him to do, but rather, like wise women considering all of our choices in the presence of God before we proceed, our lives are bound to come into a state of surrendered balance and make room for all the needed things. 


However, because of modern-day busyness, living a surrendered life and creating a constant balance is not always easy, even for those who have lived the Christian life for many years. The disciplines and principles in this book may not be new to you, but I believe the strategies and ideas will give you a fresh way of looking at how to balance your daily living as a modern Christian woman.


 This book has two parts. The first part lists and discusses seven disciplines of a balanced life for the modern Christian woman. The second part is designed to help you implement these disciplines into your life without boxing you into just another system that will never work because it doesn’t fit your life. This book was written to help you keep track of your time, so that you will have time for all the needed things without getting overwhelmed.
The strategies and ideas I will share are those that God gave me when I was in a stressful time of life with more work and responsibilities than time and energy in a day. They still work for me and they will work for you if you apply them.

Where To Find:

You can purchase her book on Amazon.


You can see Krista's tour page at Pump Up Your Book.


Q:  Your book has a chapter about parent involvement in school. Will you share with us why it is so important for parents to be involved with their child’s education and what can parents do to get involved a little at time, especially if they are full-time employees.


When you take time to be involved in our children’s education, you do two things: you give them confidence and you influence their influencers. By this I mean that when you communicate or show your face regularly to your child’s teacher and school staff, you influence them for good concerning your child. In return, they become enthusiastic about teaching your child because they know there is someone at home who will be a partner in the education process. Not only that, but when a teacher or other school authority knows that a child has caring parent, they tend to be more careful about what they say and do.

Some ways for working parents to maintain involvement in their children’s education: Try to make every parent night, open house, and teacher conference throughout the year.  Use those times to find out ways to volunteer besides the classroom.  Teachers need help in many other areas. There are opportunities to correct papers, bake goodies, help with projects and volunteer to drive and chaperone field trips.

Use email to make regular contact with the teachers. You can send an email about homework, projects, behavior, or anything else you need to discuss with a teacher.

As you can see there are other ways to be involved than in the classroom. You just have to get a plan and stick to it. You will see your child’s confidence improve and the teachers will appreciate your support. Even if for some reason they don’t, they will respect and acknowledge it.


Thank you Krista for sharing your latest book and your thoughts with my readers!

Wordless Wednesday: Look What Is Still Alive

5/18/11

I am not a good plant keeper. I received this at Mother's Day and it amazingly is still alive! (If you know me, you know what an accomplishment this is!)


For more Wordless Wednesday, visit Five Minutes for Mom. You can also share your W/W post in the linky below.





Teaser Tuesdays: The Art of Romance by Kaye Dacus

5/17/11


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser:

"She hadn't been this uncertain about her feelings toward someone-well, about his feelings toward her-since high school. And this whole situation made her feel like that gangly, awkward sixteen-year old again.

--pg. 266 The Art of Romance by Kaye Dacus

What are you reading?  If you have a teaser, you can head on over to Miz B's blog or share it here by leaving a comment.


I Want To Remember That Laugh

5/13/11


I woke up feeling pretty rotten today.  I have had bad allergies that are starting to turn into a cold, possibly worse.  I tend to get this every  spring; starts off with allergies, hits my chest, and sometimes becomes bronchitis.

I took a 2 hr nap on the couch with my little Attic baby.  It helped me feel a little better.  At lunch, I had some hot chicken noodle soup.  That also made me feel better.

But the one thing that has made my day is this little bundle of joy.  I was changing a really nasty diaper (not very fun) and she looked at me with those baby blues and just started to laugh.  There's nothing like that cute giggle to warm this mommy's heart.

I want to remember that laugh.


Mother of Pearl: Final Post And Winner

5/11/11
Thank you all so much for following along with the Pearl Girls Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series. I pray you laughed, cried and were touched by the translucent stories of real life written by new moms, stepmoms, grandmoms, adoptive moms, and moms without moms. Iridescent reality. And how poignant that the translucent nacre which coats the sand stuck inside an oyster’s shell is called Mother of Pearl. Mothers surround children with their love and with God’s love so they can grow in grace. I hope you'll join us this December for the third annual 12 Pearls of Christmas series.

AND ... thanks too, to all of you who entered to win the beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. I'm thrilled to announce that the winner is ...


Jennifer (heavensent1)!


Jennifer, please email amy@pearlgirls.info with your mailing address.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. The purpose of Pearl Girls is to connect women so that together, we can make a difference in the world.  All proceeds of the Pearl Girls book go in full to two charities: Wings (women in need growing stronger) to help fund a safe house in the Chicago suburbs and to Hands of Hope to help build wells for schoolchildren in Uganda. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products to help support Pearl Girls.

Please stop by the Pearl Girls blog and connect with us there.

Celebrate Spring with Shutterfly

5/10/11
I have to admit that spring is not necessarily my favorite season due to the fact that I have bad allergies. The pollen around here is always high this time of year. I feel like I should invest stock in tissues with how much nose blowing I've been doing. And I certainly do not enjoy having to constantly go to the pharmacy to pick up my allergy medicine (those limits are annoying, I wish they'd just do it by prescription again!).

That being said, I do enjoy the beauty that comes from all the rain and pollen. Flowers are in bloom all around my neighborhood.  The sunshine and cool breezes remind me that spring is a time to celebrate renewal after a long winter of being stuck indoors.  

Spring is also the time of year to celebrate special occasions. One of my favorites is Mother's Day.


My hubby diligently worked on getting our flower beds weeded over Mother's Day weekend.  When I got up Sunday morning, he showed me this:





  If you had seen the jungle growing out there, you could tell how much work he did.  It was such a sweet surprise!  And definitely a moment to celebrate a job well done.  (Thank you honey!)

What will you celebrate?

Shutterfly is celebrating your special occasions with gifts for the people in your life.  I love making Photobooks to celebrate those special moments, especially for grandparents who live far away.  What could be more fun than seeing photos of grandbabies?

Do you have a graduation coming up?  New move?  Shutterfly has all you need with Thank You notes, Moving announcements,  Graduation invitations and more.

Stop by and check out all they have to offer!

Are you a blogger? Sign up for a chance at 50 free cards from Shutterfly.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in participation with Shutterfly's spring promotion.  I will be receiving free cards from Shutterfly in exchange for this post.  All opinions are my own.

Mother of Pearl Day 8: Each Life is Unique by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

5/8/11
Welcome to Pearl Girls Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series. The series is week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Megan Alexander, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Beth Engelman, Holley Gerth, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.

AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/1-5/8 and the winner will on 5/11. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT Mother's Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

And to all you MOMS out there! Happy Mother's Day!

Each Life is Unique by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

“God’s divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. II Peter 1.3 (NIV)

Moms, God wants you to know that He has given you everything you need for life --- your unique life. He does not plan to give you what you might need to live the life of your best friend, or your neighbor, or even your favorite mother-model. No, God has called you to the life that He planned. I suspect that for most of us, it didn’t turn out to be the life we thought it might be… so long ago when we were young and dreaming of ‘growing up.’

On Mother’s Day I often recall my own dreams to one day be a mother. I grew up playing with dolls and looking to my own Mama as a model for that particular role in life. However, by the time I reached my thirties I was still not a mother! God did, however, have a plan. It just wasn’t what I imagined.

My own unique life would find me becoming a mother through the adoption of my first three children who were ages 9, 7 and 4; and then much later giving birth to our fourth child. Of course I was shocked when God revealed this to me, but I was ecstatic as well. It’s as though I could hear Him saying, “Well, you’re not getting any younger so I’m just going to just give you a jump start with three at one time!”

A huge blessing! A huge adjustment! A joy and a struggle. Change is often like that, isn’t it? We finally get what we want then we have to deal with it. May I just offer a bit of advice if you just got a great answer to prayer, but perhaps not in the way or form you imagined? Just receive it. Embrace it. And be willing to move forward into a new paradigm for your life. So what if you’re not like all the other mothers you know? So what if you’re not like your own mother? So what if your family unit is different? I guarantee God has a plan.

Not only did he want me to embrace my own story, but He called me as a mother to do perhaps one of the most important tasks of all --- to nurture my children to live their own unique lives. Not for me to try and squeeze them into what I hoped and dreamed they would be. Not for me to try and live my life through them. But to recognize how God made them, gifted them, and called them to their own special place.

All of my 4 kids are different from one another. Let’s take sports, for instance: I have one child who wins gold medals in international tennis competition, one who is a born equestrian, another who competes nationally in obstacle course shooting matches, and yet another who manages to dance onstage in 3 inch heels, do cartwheels and splits while singing at the same time. Now, honestly, I do none of these things. And yet they do.

I don’t remember placing my order with God for these things.  But I do remember when that tennis player turned 9 years old and I enrolled him in Special Olympics for the first time and how it changed his life… and ours. I remember getting a counselor job at an exclusive summer camp so that my daughter could take English riding classes. I remember being a Cub Scout leader (even though I knew nothing about boys) so that son could one day become an Eagle scout and pursue his love of the great outdoors. And yes, I remember enrolling my preschooler in dance lessons. Later when all the little girls were scared to go on stage for the recital, she exclaimed that she had endured a whole year of lessons just so she could go on stage.

Don’t compare yourself to someone else. And don’t live vicariously through your favorite reality show star. Live your own story. And Moms, raise your kids to embrace the unique life God has for them.
Remember, He has given us everything we need for life!

Lucinda Secrest McDowell, a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Seminary, is the author of 10 books including “Role of a Lifetime,” “Amazed by Grace,” “Spa for the Soul” and the new Bible Study “Fit and Healthy Summer.” She is an international conference speaker and enjoys being a Pearl Girl from “Sunnyside” – her home in a New England village. Visit Cindy at www.EncouragingWords.net


Mother of Pearl Day 7: What is a Grandmother? by Suzanne Woods Fisher

5/7/11
Welcome to Pearl Girls Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series. The series is week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Megan Alexander, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Beth Engelman, Holley Gerth, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.

AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/1-5/8 and the winner will on 5/11. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT Mother's Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

And to all you MOMS out there! Happy Mother's Day!

What is a Grandmother? by Suzanne Woods Fisher

“A grandmother is a little bit parent, a little bit teacher, and a little bit best friend.”
 Amish proverb

I arrived late in the night in Rhode Island, anxious to meet my two-day-old grandson, Blake, after a full day of flying. My daughter and son-in-law had just returned home from the hospital and felt like they had been in a train wreck. There was stuff everywhere.  Already, the needs of this little eight-pound bundle of joy were enormous: an all-terrain stroller, plenty of diapers, onesies, spit-up rags, an assortment of pacifiers to try out until he found the ideal one.

And he was perfect.

I know, I know. “Every mother crow thinks her own little crow is the blackest.” But this little dark eyed, dark haired boy really was perfect.

I spent the next seven days (and nights) getting to know this little guy. His schedule (he had none), his hunger cries (very similar to his every other cry). His pirate look--one eye open, one eye squeezed shut, as if he was still surprised by all that had taken place to him in a week’s time.

I felt surprised, too. How could my baby possibly have had a baby? How could I be a grandmother? I had just turned fifty-one. Shockingly young! How could a kid like me give up playing tennis three times a week to settle into knitting and crocheting and Friday night bingo? And shouldn’t I alter my appearance to fit this new label? Give up my jeans? Switch over to below knee-length calico dresses, thick black socks, practical shoes, gray hair pinned in a topknot. Think…Aunt Bee on Mayberry R.F.D.

As soon as people knew my daughter was expecting, I was bombarded with advice from my well meaning friends—even those who weren’t yet grandparents. “The best way to avoid getting on the nerves of your daughter and son-in-law is to not say anything. Ever.” Or “You’d better pick your nickname or you’ll be stuck with something hideous, like MooMoo Cow.” 

What should I be called? Granny? No…reminded me of The Beverly Hillbillies. Grandma? No…sounded like The Waltons. Grammy? No…it was already taken by the in-laws.

But no one really explained what it meant to be a grandmother. I didn’t know myself, not until I held baby Blake in my arms. In that moment, I realized that he was one of mine. He belongs to me. He will be on my mind and in my prayers, every day, for the rest of my life. There’s a bond between us that can’t be broken. He has altered my life forevermore.

I had become a grandmother. 

Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of The Choice, The Waiting, and The Search, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace. Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, W. D. Benedict, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Benedict eventually became publisher of Christianity Today magazine. Suzanne is the host of a radio show called Amish Wisdom and her work has appeared in many magazines. She lives in California. www.suzannewoodsfisher.com


Mother of Pearl Day 6: When Mother's Day is Difficult by Holley Gerth

5/6/11
Welcome to Pearl Girls Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series. The series is week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Megan Alexander, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Beth Engelman, Holley Gerth, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.

AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/1-5/8 and the winner will on 5/11. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT Mother's Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

And to all you MOMS out there! Happy Mother's Day!

When Mother's Day is Difficult by Holley Gerth

I have a confession (anyone surprised?). I have mixed feelings about Mother’s Day.

On one hand, I love celebrating all the women who have made a difference in my life (thanks, Mom!).

On the other hand, a long journey of infertility has left my heart with some tender places.

On May 8th, we’ll celebrate Mother’s Day once again. For many, it’s a time of appreciation and joy. For others, it can be one of the most difficult days of the year. This is often true for women facing infertility, families who have recently experienced the loss of a mother, and many other painful situations.

At one point in my life it seemed as if I couldn’t take another step. In addition to infertility, I was facing several other losses. I felt as if I were in a dark cave. But then I sensed the Lord gently and lovingly speak to my heart, “You may be in a cave, but you still have a choice. You can sit in despair or you can diamond-mine your difficulties.” I decided I was not leaving that time in my life empty-handed. I was taking every hidden blessing I could find. Of course, I still had difficult days. But choosing hope made a difference.

As a reminder, I now wear two rings. The one on the fourth finger of my left hand represents my commitment to my husband. The one on the fourth finger of my right hand is a simple silver band inscribed with the word “hope” and it represents the commitment I have made to God and myself to hold onto hope no matter what happens.

The story of an inspiring woman named Terrie also reminds me to hold onto hope. She endured the loss of four pregnancies and waited seventeen years before adopting a little girl. She told me, “I think one of the most important parts of this journey is learning to trust God. I don’t mean the flippant kind of trust. It’s easy for people to say, ‘You just need to trust God.’ It’s much harder when you’re in the middle of all this pain. But he is trustworthy. Through it all, God has given us an amazing story. I wouldn’t have chosen this road, but he has been with us. I can look back and truly say every step was worth it.”

I don’t know how my journey will end and you probably don’t know how yours will either. I also don’t know how many of you will be silently grieving your losses as we sit in church together on May 8th. But I do know that God sees each one of us. He knows how many hairs are on our heads and how many cares our in our hearts. Whatever you’re going through this Mother’s Day, you’re not facing it alone. As King David, a man who experienced many losses in his life, expressed in Psalm 34:18 NIV, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” May God surround you with love, fill you with hope, and give you strength for each moment—especially this Mother’s Day.

Excerpted from When Mother’s Day is Difficult.

Holley Gerth is an award-winning writer for DaySpring, a cofounder of the popular web site (in)courage, and licensed counselor. Holley loves chocolate, coffee, Jesus and connecting with the hearts of women through words. Her next book, a devotional titled God's Heart for You: Embracing Your True Worth as a Woman (Harvest House) will release this July. You can find Holley online through her blog Heart to Heart with Holley.


Mother of Pearl Day 5: A Mother's Day Wish by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson

5/5/11
Welcome to Pearl Girls Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series. The series is week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Megan Alexander, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Beth Engelman, Holley Gerth, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.

AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/1-5/8 and the winner will on 5/11. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT Mother's Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

And to all you MOMS out there! Happy Mother's Day!

A Mother's Day Wish by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson

Heads up: Margaret McSweeney deserves a medal, or at least a commendation for giving everyone a much deserved Mother’s Day rest. Okay, y’all can be seated. I’m glad you agree, but you’re supposed to be taking a load off, remember? Oh, and full disclosure—Margaret didn’t know I was going to say that so I hope she leaves it in, and no, I didn’t do it just because I’m ridiculously nostalgic about the theme of her community, although I am. As the Belle of All Things Southern, one who is southern to the bone, I have a thing about pearls.

When I was a teenager, add-a-pearl necklaces were all the rage. They may not be as wildly popular anymore as they were back in the day but I still say they’ll always be a classic concept: a gift of a single pearl on a dainty chain given with the intentions of adding other pearls on important holidays and special occasions. Today, I see add-a-pearls as a beautiful reminder of the accumulated wisdom we learn from our mamas.  Oh, sure, we snicker as young girls because not all of their advice strikes us as useful and some of it seems positively fossilized, but hopefully, over time and with the Father’s blessing, we gain enough perspective to see that these mama-isms—the important values and the silly little lagniappe— are all increasing in value with the years.  By the way, that’s my Mother’s Day wish for each of you, that we’d each take the time and the responsibility to thread these precious heirlooms into treasures worthy of bequeathing to the next generation. Mother’s Day...

May I be honest? I’m looking ahead to the annual celebration with somewhat mixed emotions. I’m not feeling very Mother of the Year. Instead of cooking dinner for my most deserving mama and enjoying her company, instead of reveling in the love of my husband, kids, and grands, (known as the Baby Czars of All Things Southern), I’ll be on the road, touring with my latest book “Sue Ellen’s Girl Ain’t Fat, She Just Weighs Heavy.” I’ve got Mama’s gift bought, wrapped, and ready to be delivered by my beloved hubby, and my grown kids understand that I didn’t choose the release date, but the facts remain:  I won’t be there. (Shameless plugs time, anyone? My daughter blogs at Kitchen Belleicious and is raising funds to build an orphanage in Rwanda at Shelter a Child http://www.shelterachild.com/ and my daughter-in-law celebrates the daily details of getting to know the Holy One at Providence, http://providence-carey.blogspot.com). I won’t get to enjoy Mama tickling the ivory from the piano bench of Melbourne Baptist Church and I won’t be overdosing on baby sugah. Sigh.

But, then, I mentioned mixed emotions earlier, didn’t I? Well, before some sweet soul cues the violin music, perhaps I should lighten up and come clean on what Mr. Harvey would call “the rest of the story.”  It so happens that while the 8th of May will find me miles from home, it’ll also find me in Savannah, Georgia where I’ve secured myself a little reservation at that famous establishment belonging to Mrs. Paula Deen, the Queen of Southern Cooking. Indeed, y’all, I’ll be suffering for Jesus at The Lady and Sons. I know. It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

Regardless of where you spend it, I wish you each a Happy Mother’s Day. I’d love to think that everyone reading my words had a mother like mine, a woman of faith who taught me from childhood of the Risen Savior who saves souls and anchors lives. But, dear reader, if that’s not your past, I hope you know it can be your future. I pray you’ll be the one that begins such a legacy, and that you’ll be moved to start building that heritage today.

I’d love to see y’all on the road somewhere. Watch for me, and I’ll watch for you. I’ll be the one with an empty glass of sweet tea looking, always looking, for a refill.

Hugs,
Shellie

Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, known as the Belle of All Things Southern is a radio host, columnist, author, speaker and founder of the All Things Southern online community, www.allthingssouthern.com. She loves meeting, greeting, laughing and learning with the whole wide world or as many who wander her way. Shellie once dreamed of writing great important things that changed the world, only once she started writing the world grinned and christened her a humorist. Shellie saw this as a problem at first, until she discovered that the laughter softens hearts, builds relationships, and invites her into people’s hurting hearts where she can share her own, which is exactly where she wanted to be all along. Look for Shellie’s latest book, Sue Ellen’s Girl Ain’t Fat, She Just Weighs Heavy wherever fine books are sold.


Mother of Pearl Day 4: Adoption, a Mother's Greatest Gift by Tricia Goyer

5/4/11
Welcome to Pearl Girls Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series. The series is week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Megan Alexander, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Beth Engelman, Holley Gerth, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.

AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/1-5/8 and the winner will on 5/11. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT Mother's Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

And to all you MOMS out there! Happy Mother's Day!

Adoption, a Mother's Greatest Gift by Tricia Goyer

I held the small baby in my arms, wrapped up in a receiving blanket to keep her warm from the chill of the delivery room, and a voice spoke to me. "Congratulations, Mom."

The congratulations came from an unlikely source--the grandmother of this child, the mother of the sweet birth mother who chose adoption for her baby girl.

To say I was overwhelmed is an understatement. Thankfulness filled my heart--to God who'd answered my prayers and to the birth mom who'd chosen our family for her daughter. I also ached that my joy would be another's heartache. Working with teen moms for ten years, I was often an advocate for the young mother. I knew that while the weeks and months ahead would be a time of celebration for our family, they would be ones of heartache and grieving for this woman.

Adoption is a wonder and the beauty, and the sacrifice of it is never so clear as on Mother's Day. My new daughter is one-years-old now and she huge is a part of my heart. Her life is a gift to my days and her smile can make even the most dreary afternoon bright. I can honestly say there is no difference in the love I feel between her and my three other children. If anything the love feels even more special because she was an unexpected gift. John and I learned about her life just 2 ½ months prior to her being born. The years of prayers to expand our family were answered quickly and beautifully.

The sacrifice of adoption makes my heart ache, for I know on this Mother's Day another woman will be thinking about my daughter—her daughter. As I rejoice, I'll be crying tears for her. I'll also be sending up prayers that God will wrap His arms around her in a special way.

This Mother's Day I cannot help to think about Christ's sacrifice to make our adoption into God's family possible. Maybe it's because just a few weeks ago we were celebrating Easter, but I'm reminded anew that my gain required His loss, His pain. The greatest love, it seems, is not shown with flowers, chocolate or a diamond bracelet. The greatest love is shown when, because of your love for another, your desires and comfort are laid down for the greater good of someone else.

As Ephesians 1:3 says, “How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He's the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son” (The Message).

Perhaps you know an adoptive mother. Take time this Mother's Day to let her know that the beauty of her gift is not missed by you. Also, take time to thank God for adopting you into His forever family, thanking Jesus Christ for His sacrifice. I wouldn't be the mother I am without this Gift of Love.

Tricia Goyer is the author of twenty-six books including Beside Still Waters, The Swiss Courier, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 2003. Tricia's book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. In addition to her novels, Tricia writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications like MomSense and Thriving Family. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife. www.triciagoyer.com


Mother of Pearl Day 3: A Merry Heart by Megan Alexander

5/3/11
Welcome to Pearl Girls Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series. The series is week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Megan Alexander, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Beth Engelman, Holley Gerth, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.

AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/1-5/8 and the winner will on 5/11. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT Mother's Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

And to all you MOMS out there! Happy Mother's Day!

A Merry Heart ... by Megan Alexander

Sometimes family is really all you need. This was reinforced to me when my Mother shared a story a few days ago about her mother, my Grandma. You see, when my Grandma was a very young girl, around age 10, she was diagnosed with polio. This meant long hospital stays, extremely limited interaction with children her own age and lonely days staring out the window from her hospital bed. In those days, with polio, they felt keeping the children very subdued and quiet was best, and this particular hospital was as drab as can be. It was also during the time of the Depression, which meant money was tight and life was tough. Day in and day out, she was given the best medicine and treatment, but she wasn’t thriving and recovering. Daily visits from adult doctors and specialists is not exactly stimulating for a young girl. Her health was so poor, at one point, a Catholic Priest had administered the "last rites" at her bedside.

One day, her older brother and sister decided to sneak some brand new baby kittens into her hospital room. Their cat Fitzy had just had babies, and the cute kittens were small enough to put in a basket. Upon entering her room, my mother says they quietly took off the lid and showed my Grandma the sweet little kittens and let her cuddle with them. Her mother, my Great Grandmother, observed my Grandma’s mood instantly lift. Her eyes sparkled and she squealed with delight at the cute kitties! Her whole demeanor changed and she came to life.

My Great Grandma took all this in and made a decision that day. She decided that my Grandma would heal much better at home. She promptly checked my Grandma out of the hospital and brought her home with her family. My Grandma did gradually recover, among the love and warmth of her family. You know what Proverbs 17 says “ A merry heart does good like a medicine.” Also, I can imagine that she healed emotionally and physically and spiritually as well and that combined strength wouldn't have been possible in the hospital alone.

When they left that day, the hospital instructed my Great Grandmother to massage my Grandma’s legs everyday, something she promised the hospital she would do, and she did. My Grandma was one of the few people we know who did not have a limp or shortened leg due to polio. And perhaps most importantly, the entire family was always praying for my Grandma.

I’m not saying that medicine is bad or not necessary. But there is no cure quite like the warmth of your family. Its like milk, it simply does a body good. As a pregnant Mom about to give birth to a baby boy, I am inspired to provide this same love to my child. May he feel the same warm love from his family that my Grandma felt from her’s.

And in this same way, we are called sons and daughters of God. Galatians 4:1-7
“Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!" Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”

God claims you and I as his children. This is a wonderful gift and identity that is good for our heart and soul, and something that is more powerful than all the medicine in the world.
 
Megan Alexander can be seen nightly as a television correspondent for the top rated news magazine show “Inside Edition”.  She also appears on the CNN program “Showbiz Tonight”. She especially enjoys reporting on stories with a heart. She graduated from Westmont College with a degree in Political Science. She loves speaking to youth and works with Girls Inc and National American Miss. She and her husband reside in the New York City area and attend Redeemer Church of Manhattan. For more on Megan, go to www.meganalexander.com. Megan’s mother, Mary, resides in Seattle and provided insight into this essay.



Uncommonly Cute Review And Giveaway



I love cute baby clothes! While I was pregnant, I won a cute T-Shirt from Uncommonly Cute and I just couldn't wait to see my baby girl in this shirt:


Seriously, how "tweet" is that?


Recently, I was sent this cute onesie for Attic baby to try. They told me they run a little small, so I sized up to a 6-12 months. It can be tricky to fit your baby since companies size a bit differently.  This has some room for her to grow, which I like, since there are some onesies that are 6 months that are too tight on her (she is 4 months old).






Uncommonly Cute has cute and funny T-shirts and Bodysuits for Infants and Toddlers.  They have creative sayings on them like this:


I also love the fact they are a company with a mission to help others:


You're gonna find a lot of really innovative and cute things here by Uncommonly Cute.  Tons of fun, hip & trendy kid's stuff made with lovin' care.  And hey, we’ve even had the children of “celebrities” like Britney Spears, Gwyneth Paltrow and Elizabeth Hasselback using our gear.  And even though this is all good, the bottom line for us and our main purpose as a company ishelping children, moms & families in need.

Over the years, my family and I have loved being involved in helping many children and their families by serving on the Board of Trustees at Children's Hospital in San Diego and helping kids in emotional trauma at various centers throughout California. 
In Psalm 127:3 it says “Children are a blessing…”.  I believe this means not just my own children, but all children. 
And this is why when you buy something from Uncommonly Cute for your own kids, or for other kids you know, you are also helping a child in need whom you might not know. 
Maybe a special needs baby in a hospital that has but one set of clothes that has spit-up on it most of the time.  Or maybe a child that has 8 older brothers and sisters and has never owned a new shirt in their life.  Perhaps a newborn baby delivered to a mommy whos husband is away serving our country in the U.S. military and just trying to stay alive to come home to his family.
Each one of these precious children is an example of who we have served already through Uncommonly Cute Cares.  But there are more kids and families out there in need.  More than we can count.  Will you help us help them? 
We love kids.  Our kids, your kids, all kids…
Fondly,
Eric T. Wagner & Family



BUY IT:  You can purchase bodysuits and T-Shirts at their website.


GIVEAWAY:  One of my lucky readers is going to win their choice of shirt or bodysuit!


Required Entry: (don't forget to leave your email address if it's not in your profile):

Visit their website and tell me which bodysuit or T-shirt you would choose



Extra Entries: (leave a separate comment for each thing you do):

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6.  Tweet about this giveaway and leave a direct link to your tweet (one tweet per day).  You can copy and paste the following tweet:


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This giveaway Ends 5/17 at 12 Midnight EST and is open to US and Canadian Residents 18 and older only. Winner will be chosen randomly, emailed, and will have 24 hours to respond or another will be drawn. This prize will be directly shipped from the sponsor.  


Disclosure:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free for the purpose of review. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  The sponsor is responsible for shipping this prize to the giveaway winner; I will not be held liable for any lost or not received products.

Mother of Pearl-Giveaway-Day 2: DIY Gifts by Beth Engelman

5/2/11
Welcome to Pearl Girls Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series. The series is week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Megan Alexander, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Beth Engelman, Holley Gerth, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.

AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/1-5/8 and the winner will on 5/11. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT Mother's Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

And to all you MOMS out there! Happy Mother's Day!

3 DIY Mother’s Day Gifts that Celebrate Family By Beth Engelman

This Mother’s Day, celebrate family with this crafty games the whole family can enjoy.  


Block Photo Puzzle
Not only does this 6-sided photo puzzle provide hours of family fun, but it’s also a great way to reuse favorite family photos.

Materials:
•    9 - Wooden Blocks (Use old alphabet blocks)
•    6 - 8 x 10 Photograph Prints or Colored Copies
•    Ruler
•    Scissors
•    Mod Podge and Paintbrush

Directions:
1.  Arrange blocks in a square and measure the length and width of the square.
2. Measure and cut print to the exact same size as the 9-block square.
3. Place blocks in a square on top of print. Position blocks so they’re lined up neatly and as close together as possible.
4. Trace and cut the outline of each block.
5. Glue print pieces to blocks using Mod Podge. Set aside to dry and then seal with 1-2 top layers of Mod Podge.
6. Repeat process until all 6 sides of the blocks are covered with different photographs.
Thank you to the creative folks at www.photojojo.com for sharing this idea!

 “Go Fish with the Family” Card Game

This gift is perfect for Moms who like card games. Another bonus?  There’s always room to “grow” the deck.

Materials:
•    Camera
•    Double stick tape, or a glue stick
•    Several pieces of cardstock (one color)
•    Scissors

Directions:
1.    Take pictures of each family member and develop the pictures in duplicates (3x5 or 4x6 is fine, just make sure all the pictures are the same size).
2.    Turn the pictures into playing cards by gluing or taping a piece of card-stock to the backside of each picture.
3.    Game ideas include “Go Fishing with the Family” which is similar to “Go Fish” but, instead of matching numbers, the object is to collect matching pairs of photos. “Memory” is another fun game to play.  Place the cards face down in a grid and try to find matching pairs of photos.

Family Bingo
In my house, Bingo is always a big hit because regardless of age or skill level, everyone has the same chance to win.  However this version is extra special because the playing boards are populated with pictures of family members.

Materials:
•    Color Coordinated Game Boards (download here)
•    Images of Family Members (use photographs, drawings or clip art)
•    Bingo Markers (pennies, pebbles or buttons)
•    Glue and Scissors

Directions:
1.    Create the game boards:  Download and print desired number of game-boards. Remember each player gets a different game board.
2.    Color-copy and paste images of family members onto each game board.  Remember to paste one person per square and make each board slightly different.
3.    Make “call-out cards” by writing the name of each family member in yellow, green, blue, purple and pink (which coordinates with the colors on the board)
4.    To Play: Game play is similar to traditional Bingo except the caller will randomly select a call-out card and then read the color and person.  For example, “Blue, Grandma Mary” means there is a picture of Grandma Mary in a blue square.  Just like Bingo, the first person to get 5 in a row (horizontally, vertically or diagonally) wins!

Beth Engelman is a columnist for the Sun Times News Group’s Pioneer Press. Her column “Mommy on a Shoestring,” appears in over 30 local papers around Chicago area as well as on the Sun-times website where you can also view her Mommy on a Shoestring video series. She is also a regular on “You and Me this Morning” on WCIU and is frequent contributor for WGN America’s Midday News at Noon.  Recently, Beth was chosen by a celebrity panel from NBC Universal and iVillage to become one of 15 national  “mom” correspondents for NBC’s popular website, www.ivillage.com (over 3 million visitors a day) where she reports on issues that affect moms, families and communities such as bullying, divorce and weight loss.  For more information visit Beth at www.mommyonashoestring.com



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