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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals at Dayspring

Why rush out to the store when you can shop comfortably at home?

on MONDAY there will be even more markdowns and a free ornament!
Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room - Musical Christmas Ornament Classic Cross - Christian Journal Silent Night, Holy Night - Decorative Lantern Walk By Faith - Stainless Steel Water Bottle

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Can I Feel Sad and Grateful at the Same Time?

I recently read a blog about someone who had experienced a bitter disappointment.  It wasn't life-altering, but still deeply saddening and yet this woman then explained away her sadness by comparing her loss to others who seem to have much greater things to grieve.  The thought of "It could be worse," often shames us into denying when we are hurt, sad or disappointed.
I have this in my kitchen to daily remember the good.  Available at Dayspring.
Of course it isn't wise to wallow in our misery and heap more and more pain on ourselves.  But I have learned we have to acknowledge our loss in order to process and move through the emotion, otherwise we land in the place of denial.  Stuffing our emotions down now only means they will pop back up with more power and less control later.

Maybe this Thanksgiving you are experiencing disappointment or sadness.  Perhaps it won't look or feel like celebrations in the past.  Maybe you won't get to visit extended family or it might be your first Thanksgiving where your children are with another parent.

Let me give you permission to feel sad for what you have lost and know that it is okay to feel bad when dealing with a hard situation.  Yes, I'm sure it could be much worse, but that thought doesn't help to process and accept what is.  Accepting your loss allows you to move forward and away from the wounding.  As you identify the ache, you can also note the gifts and find much for which to be thankful.

And as my friend reminded me in her own blog, you can be grateful for what God has given you while being sad about what has been lost.  God is big enough to handle all our emotions, not just the pretty ones.

I'm thankful to you, anyone who read, comments and interacts here.  It really does mean so much!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Family Table

We are a blended family and our seating varies weekly with parenting plans and children living between two homes.  We are keenly aware of the empty seats around our table and it is a painful reality that we all accept.  However, the ones who gather often talk about the ones not present and each one is still part of our family rhythm.  Mealtimes are a valued time to gather - even our senior in high school agrees!

As mother/wife/stepmom, the duty falls to me to plan, shop and prepare our meals.  Accommodating the tastes of seven individuals from differing family menu styles has been an enormous challenge, and yet it is one that helps me know my tribe better.  Now I can usually tell who prefers no tomatoes on their salad, who loves black beans and who will pass on the pineapple chunks.

Our greatest struggle is time.  Preparation and cleanup can be so tiring. We are late diners and the little children need to be put to bed, the older ones disappear before conscription to duty.  It's easy to resent the work and some days I fight especially hard to quell the resentment that rises from the never-ending tasks. But I'm counting on the memories to make it all worthwhile.

I would love to hear from others with a large family about the simplest meals that are sure-pleasers! Our regular rotation could use an update.  Do you plan ahead or wing it?  How do you manage to keep the budget in line?  I'm looking for inspiration.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Co-Parenting Through the Holidays

For me, the most difficult part divorced life is watching my children bounce back and forth between two homes.  I know they feel torn.  I know they lack consistency.  I know they get mixed messages are sometimes confused.  And yet I know they need a relationship with both parents and this is the way it works in America...shared custody.

This is the reason for Christmas, why Christ came, because this world is so imperfect.

The holiday season is especially challenging because there are extended family members who want to be involved, extra activities in which to participate and traditions we want to maintain.  The first holiday season was the most challenging, but it's still tough for me.  But I want it to be a delightful season for my children and I don't want them to take on my angst.

First of all, work out the calendar with your co-parent.  Do this before the season begins to be sure you are on the same page.  It's painful to decide who is taking the children to a local show or theme park, but be reasonable and don't expect your children to do each activity twice, just because mom and dad are no longer together.  Avoid demanding more of them simply because they have two homes.  Recognize that they might not be into decorating the whole tree because they just put the tree up at dad's house.  They might get bored with icing gingerbread houses is they did it last weekend, too.  Be mature, use foresight and work with your children's dad to provide the most well-rounded holiday experience.  It doesn't benefit to compete or try to duplicate every activity.  That will only lead to exhaustion (for you and the children) and resentment.

Here are some other things to do now to prepare for a memorable and magical season.
  1. Communicate well and establish the calendar.  With the expanding circles of friends and family, it's easy to feel sucked into everyone's holiday dinner, office party or Sunday School social.  Be realistic and prioritize what will work best for you family, then communicate with everyone.  You can help others by letting them know early when you are available and when you simply are not.
  2. Set appropriate expectations for your children.  They will do so much better if they can predict the coming days.  "This year, you will wake up and do stockings at Daddy's house,"  or "We won't be going to Nana's after Christmas this year, we are waiting for spring break."  
  3. Decide what is most important.  Do you want to visit Santa or the local live nativity?  You may not have time to do both, so determine which events are important to you.  Talk to your children to find out what is important for them.
  4. Allow for down time.  I have found the times with zero demands are the ones I enjoy the very most. 
  5. Smile and share.  Whether is was a great day or a sad and lonely one, tell someone else how you feel.  It's easy to isolate when things aren't turning out like you imagined in your mind so take the time to reach out before you sink into a lonely spiral.  Don't be home alone this Christmas.
Families are complicated. The Christmas Season can make us crazy, or disappointed, or competitive. There is a lot of information on how to make the best, even when this season isn't ideal and I've included some links below.  Share in the comments how you are planning now to enjoy the season!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Little Perspective: The Compassion Experience

I try to instill a spirit of Thanksgiving and gratitude throughout the year, not just in November.  But it's easy for my children (and me) to fall into the entitlement trap of thinking what I have isn't enough, and becoming discontent.  I was thrilled when the Compassion Experience came to our town where we could walk through a reenactment of what life is like for children in third world countries.  It was very sobering for my children (age 6-10) to visually see and hear the stories of one boy, one girl.

The mobile unit set up in a local church parking lot.

The presentation was very professional with individual ipods and headphones for each person.  
We heard the children's stories told in their own words.

My children loved the technology.

Ready to learn about Jey, a boy in Africa and Kiwi, a girl from the Philippines.

The children were very serious about what they saw and heard.


This experience prompted a wonderful discussion about children around the world.  First I allowed my children to ask questions.

  • What is a gang?
  • Did the mom die?
  • Are there any houses like that in America?
  • Can nine-year-olds go to jail here?
  • Why didn't the police help?

Then I asked some questions, too.

  • What part seemed the most scary?
  • Did that look like enough food for a family?
  • Do you think God cares about these people?
  • Why do some people (like us) have so much when some have so very little?  
  • Are we supposed to keep all that we have?
If you get a chance to take your family to the Compassion Experience, it will benefit every person, no matter their age.  It's so easy to become isolated in our American bubble of prosperity.  It's not always comfortable to expose our children to the need and devastation in our world.  But it is our responsibility to raise socially aware and considerate persons who are outward minded.  The Compassion Experience was a great tool for me this week to expand their knowledge open their minds to poverty around the globe.

If you can sponsor a child, do so.  My children each wanted to, but I guided them to wait until they had enough income to responsibly do it.  Our family sponsors a child, but the need is so great.  It doesn't take much to make an investment that will last a lifetime.

Compassion: Change the Story

Friday, November 7, 2014

Please, Victoria, I'm already Embraceable

Victoria's Secret is back in the news and backpedaling on their recent "Perfect Body" campaign.  I thought it would be pertinent to repost something written way back in June of 2011:


Stock Image via Polyvore
It's time for the semi-annual sale at Victoria's Secret.  There was time I got excited about going in to that store to select some fun, new undergarments, plucking through the bins of exotic bras, lacy undies and enticing negligees that promised to make me irresistible.  But I haven't been in several years now.  Even though I tend to like cotton undies, I am a woman who is feminine to the core.  Now when I see the commercials or even pass the retail store, I don't see cute and frilly things to encourage femininity.  I see fake and uncomfortable things that encourage fantasy.

Seriously, the female body is alluring and attractive, beautiful and to be celebrated.  However, I find the flaunting and restructuring of the normal shape to be offensive.  The message to me is clear: "If you don't look like this, you're not attractive in the right way.  If you aren't shaped like these models, you must constrict, lift and conform or cut and reshape to be what we deem desirable.  You are not enough to satisfy, to allure, to be wanted.  You need what we sell, or you won't measure up."

It makes me sad because we get this message from so many sources.  The message that somehow we are not enough. But when it comes to something as close to our identity as our core female value, it becomes more personal and more important to guard our minds with the truth.  Because so many of us have been used, betrayed and exploited, our insecurities can render us weak if we gather our value from people and not our Father.  Victoria's Secret uses our vulnerabilities against us.

With a background in advertising and brand marketing, I know that corporations prey on the female desire to be beautiful and desirable.  While working with one company, the marketing V.P. often commented about "creating the need" for an unnecessary but profitable product line he was selling to women.  The need had to be created by promoting insecurity about what was truly the norm.  I give credit Victoria's branding of sexuality, just the label of "Victoria's Secret" makes most men assume that whatever the product is, it will be sexy.  They have marketing prowess and are churning out messages loud and clear.  How sad that they now market to the teen and even tween generations!  See the "Pink" brand?  Already, our girls are inundated with the message that they must be sexy to be valuable.

So, for me - at least for now - I'm not buying anything from Victoria's Secret.  What they sell is not reality, but fantasy, and I'm not buying the fantasy.  My reality is pretty great.  What about you?  You may whole-heartedly disagree and I'd love to hear why.  I do not think my little personal boycott will raise one eyebrow at Victoria's Secret headquarters, but I feel good about taking this stand.

"The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord" (Psalm 45:11)

What Others Are Saying:
Victoria's War on Women
Victoria's Secret Ditches the "Perfect Body" Campaign

Updated to add ... in full disclosure, I do possess and wear some of these branded items which were given as gifts or remain from previous days.  

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Busy & Fun Time - Catching Up

We have had a busy few weeks and I'm grateful for the family that we are nurturing.  My in-laws came to visit and stayed an extra night, which was so fun.  We headed to the pumpkin patch with them.  My mother was able to come and celebrate her birthday plus Halloween.  Trick-or-Treating was fun this year!

With children that range from 12th grade down to first, we run the full spectrum of academic challenges at our place.  From filling out college applications to learning times tables, navigating AP courses and dealing with hormone changes - we've done it all this fall!  Life is busy, full and fun.

I hope yours feels that way, too!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

We have done this for the past eight years - My college girlfriends and I make a priority of having a reunion and remembering we are more than mothers and wives, teachers, nurses, business women and keepers of our homes. We are friends. I am a huge fan of the girlfriend getaway! I'm so lucky to live near Great Smoky Mountains National Park and all the fun of Sevierville. If you are looking for adventure or a place to relax, I can vouch that this is where you need to be! We are lucky to live nearby and visit year round, but if you can make it in the fall - come!

The first thing that comes to mind for me is fabulous outdoor fun. Whether you choose a serious and intense hike or a quiet wooded walk, you can enjoy so many local trails.

Yes, you will work up an appetite, but don't worry, there are so many delightful dining options to satisfy. A favorite when hosting guests is the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant. I've even enjoyed Christmas dinner here.

I love the chance to go shopping with my friends - who else would I trust to provide truthful feedback? From vintage and antiques to high end apparel or outlets, your hunt will be rewarded with success! There is such a wealth of talent that art lovers will adore the studios and galleries. If you are a music fan, don't miss Dolly Parton's hometown haunts!

Ready for the highlight of any girls getaway? Find yourself pampered at one of the spas. You and your besties can enjoy a mani/pedi or indulge in an all-out pond side massage experience. Hot stones, aromatic scents and natural elements will let you escape from everyday life and elevate your getaway to an all time high.

I am devoted to making time for friendship and I can wholeheartedly endorse our area as a fabulous place to plan a getaway. There is something for the naturalist and the shop girl. Whether you want to hike, shop, sleep, or enjoy some pampering, you will find the right spot in Sevierville. Plan your trip today!

Find out more by checking out:

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Sevierville.

The opinions and text are all mine.

If you are considering a visit - Don't miss these special discounts available!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Sevierville, TN .  The opinions and text are all mine.