What I’m Into (November 2016)

November crept in this year, turning from unseasonably warm to decently chilly over night. We enjoyed the lasting warmth, taking full advantage by playing outside as much as possible! Then we finally got out hats and thick coats this week – just in time to celebrate Thanksgiving.

We’ve been really enjoying these past couple of months. We’re settled into a school routine, and feeling much more active in our little community as the kids get more involved with activities. Connor’s playing basketball and loving Cub Scouts. Both kids got great reports at parent-teacher conferences recently, and at Brenna’s IEP annual review, the special ed coordinator mentioned a spring meeting to discuss her transition into kindergarten. I nearly started crying on the spot! Not because of the thought of letting go for all-day school…but because I still get so emotional thinking about how far she’s come and where she is today, especially around this time of year. Brenna will turn five next month, and it’s a birthday milestone that is hitting me hard.

I haven’t written much about what we’ve been reading, loving and recent favorite moments lately…so here we go!

FridayFavoritesReading

After hitting a bit of a reading slump last month, I’ve found some really good reads to get into. One of my favorites has been Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance, which is a memoir that tells of JD’s childhood in the Appalachian region and how he eventually made his way to Yale Law School despite a lot of odds stacked against him. I’ve also just finished and enjoyed Deep Work by Cal Newport and the novel 11/22/63 by Stephen King.

And now I’m in the middle of some future releases that I have the honor of getting to read and endorse; I can’t wait to share these upcoming books with you!

As for the kids, we are in the thick of the Cam Jansen series, which Connor discovered thanks to his 1st grade teacher and now loves. Brenna’s preferences lie with the Berenstain Bears right now – always classic 🙂
FridayFavoritesLinks

“Our primary problem as Christian women is not that we lack self-worth, not that we lack a sense of significance or purpose. It’s that we lack awe.” This post by Jen Wilkin is a really poignant reminder about seeking to marvel at God and to love our neighbor rather than constantly trying to build ourselves up.

Our kids needs us – just not always all to themselves. I love this post from my friend Ginger Newingham reminding us not to forget about our own passions and mission as moms…because our kids need to see us serving and loving all around us.

“Quite simply, we don’t want our parental worries to hinder her from living boldly and experiencing new feelings and activities. We have realized well-meaning parents sometimes limit their children because of their own fears; instead, we hope to allow our daughter to amaze us because of the person she is and can become.” I wrote an article for a site called Headspace about what our family has learned about not letting “What Ifs” run our lives….

FridayFavoritesMoments

Getting in a lot of time outdoors before the cold weather hit – with Minnie helping to stay cozy of course!

The excitement of seeing my book in the New Release section of the Arlington Heights (IL) library!img_7020.jpg

Brenna was so excited to go to Daddy’s family’s hunting cabin last weekend…but naturally, she was most thrilled with her themed ensemble! We call this look “Deer Season Chic” 🙂

Recently, I signed, sealed and delivered (OK, more like packaged up and mailed off) an incredible 260 copies of my book that a fellow ichthyosis mom purchased as gifts for her children’s school staff for Christmas – what an amazing blessing! I’m just so grateful for loving support like this!

What an honor to get to share our family’s story during the Children’s Miracle Network Radiothon benefiting our local children’s hospital. Every year, we look forward to this event – and we were beyond excited to hear that the radiothon raised more than $175,000 this year! Connor and Brenna both got to talk on air – Connor read off the number to call in, and Brenna encouraged listeners to “Call now to help kids like me!”

Evan and I also got a fancy night out at a philanthropy dinner for the hospital!

Happy Thanksgiving this week to you all! May you enjoy the laughter of family and loved ones, and peaceful days in front of the cozy fire on this long holiday weekend!
My book, A Different Beautiful, is now available for order!

Want to raise kind kids who appreciate differences? You can download a guide to the best children’s books on differences and disabilities when you subscribe to my monthly email newsletter!  Follow me on  Facebook and Instagram.

Being Excited by Life Even When Life Doesn’t Go as Planned

A few months ago, I was part of group videoconference with people I had never connected with before, and the host asked us to share what we were excited about right now.

I told the group, “Honestly? Everything. Every morning, I’m excited to get up and start writing, working, reading and learning. I’m excited to spend time with my kids and family. I’m so excited by life right now.”

And I meant it.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that some days aren’t more difficult, or that life is easy and carefree. Not at all. Yes, I occasionally feel overwhelmed by Brenna’s health care, and I get angry with the way the general public reacts to her skin. Yes, I get stressed out by parenting and sometimes feel so frustrated that I yell at my kids. I don’t always know what the next direction looks like for me, and there are times when I am hurting, afraid, insecure or cynical.

But I feel like life is so much more exciting and more fulfilling and more humbling when we decide to step alongside God and try big things with Him together. Yes, God is the all-knowing Author of our story… but we are the coauthor of this one story we have, too.

When we rely fully on Him in our lives, as our guide, waking up each day feels like Him saying “So what should we do today to live out the gifts that I gave you and to share about me with others?!”024

My friend Megan wrote a wonderful article that has me continuing to think about pursuing dreams. She noted: “Sometimes it seems God just snaps his fingers and everything falls into place, but more often than not, He gives us creative license and responsibility to follow through on the passions He wove deep in our DNA.”

A year ago at a conference, I first heard one of my favorite author’s Donald Miller use this analogy: For some people, life is like a restaurant to be ordered from and consumed. But other see life like a grocery store, from which they can create anything they want.

Of course, we all consume. But so many of us also want to grasp hold of the courage it takes to create something new and exciting for ourselves…. yet we find ourselves stuck, unable to see past the menu, too afraid to take the leap. Or, perhaps more frustrating of all, simply waiting. Waiting for the “best” time, according to our own standards.

Perhaps, while we’re waiting on God to give us just one more assurance of what step to take, God’s actually waiting on us.

And let’s not forget that while God’s sovereignty is absolutely perfect, we have control over some very important pieces of our stories – how we connect with those around us… how we give of ourselves…the attitude we employ. We are given the enormous responsibility to choose the gratitude and praise, the passion and humility, with which we approach our lives every day. And those choices can be completely life-altering.

This past week, our pastor struck me as he said: “When God’s part of the equation, adversity is a springboard to thrive.” When we rely fully on God, life becomes the opportunity to stand in front of our great Creator and do life in communion with Him. Life becomes not about us, but about Christ IN us… realizing that God is much bigger than we are.

When we choose to rise above what is going on around us and keep our eyes on Him, that’s when we begin to realize the incredible beauty, the bountiful goodness, that can be seen, discovered, sought, even coaxed out, of everything we experience.beauty-extends

God wants to work with us. God wants to write a beautiful story for our lives WITH us. God is excited to dream up good and big things for our lives together with us.

Being excited about life doesn’t mean that everything is “going right.” I may not even have a lot of choice about how my day will go because circumstances happen that we can’t control…but I have a lot of choice about where my mind will go, and where my heart will turn. What words I will use, how I will react, how I will treat others, how I will treat myself.

So what kind of story are you writing when God hands you the pen today? Which direction will you turn when God sits next to you and tells you to press the accelerator? How will you start to join our awesome Creator in creating a story for yourself that you are excited to live and to tell??

My book, A Different Beautiful, is now available for order!
Want to raise kind kids who appreciate differences? You can download a guide to the best children’s books on differences and disabilities when you subscribe to my monthly email newsletter!  Follow me on  Facebook and Instagram.