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Monday, April 25, 2016

Word to Your Mother: Books Your Mom is Sure to Love

Catchy title, right? Try getting that one out of your head today.

But 90’s rap isn’t why you’re here, so let’s get down to business!

Mother’s Day is just thirteen short days away, and, like many people, you may be feeling lost as to what you’ll be purchasing for the mom(s) in your life.

As a big-time bookworm, I believe you can never go wrong with a good book, so I rounded up a few of my favorites from the past year or so, and posted the Amazon link (because PRIME SHIPPING). Also, nobody paid me, bribed me, or blackmailed me with my seventh grade yearbook photo to post nice things about their books. I just really liked these ones, and I think most moms will too.

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I’ve read this book no less than five times, and you’re all getting sick of hearing about it from me, but let me tell you something: This is an outstanding book for moms. There’s all kinds of good stuff in there! From being the mom of little ones, all the way to sending our kiddos out into the world; it’s encouraging and funny from page one. Also—recipes. Good ones!

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I “met” Kayla on the For the Love launch team, and had the privilege of reading this book over the holiday season, when life was rough. Kayla’s book about delivering her daughter, Scarlette, at twenty-five weeks’ gestation, gave me hope when it felt like there was none.

Despite the weighty topic, Kayla expertly inserts humor and godly advice into her writing. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself feeling uplifted after I read the book. (Which happened in the middle of the night. In one sitting.)

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A blogger at The Mom Creative, Jessica reminds us moms to make time for ourselves. She encourage us to find pockets of time to do what we really love. Jessica believes taking time for self-care makes us better wives, mothers and friends. I happen to agree!

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Another For the Love launcher, Erin chronicles her struggle with, and triumph over breast cancer, while she mothered her young son. Her story is powerful and beautiful, and I highly recommend this one for moms.

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Confession: All the heart eyes go to Mindy Kaling. I just love her. Can’t help it, won’t deny it. Her book is hilarious, and if your mom loves Mindy, The Office, The Mindy Project, or simply laughing in general, you’ll be her favorite kid if you buy her this book.

*This book isn’t “religious” at all, and it has some swear words. If your mom isn’t into swearing, please don’t buy her this book. If she is into swearing, (or just doesn’t mind it) buy this immediately.

Cavallini and Co. Roma Lussa Journal found at

Some moms enjoy writing words in addition to reading them. This beautiful, high quality journal is perfect for Bible study, a gratitude journal, or for any reason mom wants to write. I received one as a gift from Joe last Christmas, and I love it. Your mom might like it, too.

The best part? You can personalize it here if you want to! 

I hope you’ve found this gift guide helpful. Even if you haven’t found something for mom, maybe you’ve found a treat for you. It doesn’t hurt to drop hints like crazy and share the heck out of this blog. I mean, I’ve never shared anything as a hint to my husband, but maybe you do.  (That was a lie. I do it for every holiday and my birthday. If President’s Day was a gift giving occasion, I’d do it then too.)

Happy Mother’s Day to all of my sweet friends! Keep up the good, hard, rewarding, exhausting, exhilarating work. (There are a ton of adjectives that describe motherhood, which is why we need to thank our moms!)

Do you have some other book recommendations? If so, I’d love for you to share them in the comments! 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Hearts and Hemlines: What Does it Really Mean to be Modest?

“You know you can’t have that one, it’s a two-piece.”

“Um, no. Those are way too short.”

“Spaghetti Straps? Think again.”

If you shopped near Mak and I at Target, these are some of the things you would have overheard me saying repeatedly.

Until a year ago, modesty was kind of a big deal around our house. Don’t get me wrong, knees and shoulders were exposed—we aren’t the Duggars—but there were rules in place, and Mak’s wardrobe was carefully monitored for modesty. We were making sure she was following the rules.

But, here’s the rub. I started to realize that what I was wearing really didn’t have much of an impact on how I served God or his people. And if the neckline of my blouse didn’t affect my ability to love and follow Jesus, then maybe the length of Mak’s shorts didn’t matter so much either.

The wrestle continued as I read the following passage from Jen Hatmaker’s latest book, For the Love:

“If they (our kids) don’t love Jesus and people, it matters zero if they remain virgins and don’t say the F-word. We must shepherd their hearts, not just their hemlines.”

I took a moment to reflect on my parenting and what I was placing first. Was I prioritizing the “rules” over the “relationship?” Definitely. When my child is dressed modestly and well-behaved, I get to look like a good parent, and she gets to look the part of a precious Jesus Girl. But we know appearances aren’t what God values. He looks at our hearts.

Which led me to this question:

 Is there more to modesty than simply covering ourselves up?

As I began to think more closely about the idea of modesty and what it means, I decided to go to the source—the Word. Mostly because I’ve found it to be pretty handy when I find myself stuck in the parenting mud. Or any mud, really.

A popular verse for this topic comes from 1 Timothy.

“Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.” 1 Timothy 2:9-10 (ESV)

The Greek word for modesty used in this passage is kosmios, which means “orderly” and “well-arranged.”

It’s pretty clear what Paul is instructing here: we should be dressed in an orderly way, not overly gaudy; and what should be noticeable about us is our good works—our hearts.

Modesty means so much more than not showing too much skin, as most of us believe; it is an attitude. Modesty means pointing others to God and away from ourselves. It means that our kindness and our deeds should be more glorious than our new diamond earrings or gold bracelet. People should notice how we serve before their eyes ever see our pretty new handbag.

Modesty isn't as simple as being too sexual. It has always been about giving up attention we want for ourselves and giving it to God instead. Modesty has everything to do with our intentions, and very little to do with how we clothe our bodies.

 I fear we have taken parts of these verses out of context, and placed value on covering up our bodies, instead of baring our souls. It’s easier to measure the length of our skirts or the width of our tank top straps than it is to examine the parts of our hearts that crave the attention God should receive. Likewise, it is much simpler to ask women and girls to cover their bodies than it is for men to focus their attention on God rather than a scantily clad woman.

 I’ve sat through more than one sermon, as well as youth group events, where men make the request of women and girls to “help” them avoid sin by covering themselves up. Men are smart, honorable, kind beings—and, like women, they have eyelids that open and close, and necks that turn in both directions. Both of those abilities allow men to look away from anything that might cause them to sin. Even a woman in a short skirt.

Furthermore, women from all over the world who are forced to be covered from head to toe are still lusted after, and even raped. In Matthew 5:29, Jesus tells men who look upon women with lust to gouge out their own eyes—not ask women to cover themselves up.  If we wear an outfit with no intent to seduce a man, the sin is theirs, not ours. However, if we wear an outfit solely to attract the sexual attention of a man, that is intentionally taking our brother in Christ’s eyes off of God, and we are guilty in that case.

Modesty is being intentional in our hearts, letting Christ have the attention at all times.

I have had to examine my own heart as I parent my way through this whole modesty thing. I’ve had to look at my behavior and ask where I’m lacking modesty. Am I giving the glory to God, or am I more concerned with how I look to others? Do they see me before they see him? How do I change that?

So, as we go into summer, our shopping trips will sound a little different. Instead of dictating to my daughter what she will and will not be allowed to wear, we’ll begin with her heart instead. We’ll discuss why she chooses certain clothes and talk about the intent behind each piece. I’m hoping that by examining her heart instead of demanding she wear knee length shorts, we might both learn a bit more about who we are in Jesus.

Here are some things I’m going to ask her to consider:

Dress with yourself in mind:

Where will you be wearing this outfit?

What activities will you be performing?

Are you comfortable?

 Is your outfit age appropriate?

Dress with intent:

Why are you choosing this outfit?

Are you hoping to get someone’s attention?

 If so, why do you feel you need attention from that person?

What if we looked at modesty differently? What if we asked ourselves about our intentions? About which pieces of our clothing and accessories make worship about us instead of God? What about our behavior, tone, and actions seek attention for ourselves instead of pointing others to him? The terrain gets a little more rugged when we aren’t solely focused on whether we’re dressed in a revealing manner, doesn’t it? When we have to look at the rest of our outfit, or our desire to gain admiration through attention seeking, modesty isn’t as simple as being buttoned up.

So, this summer, I won’t police the hemlines or the the width of the straps. I’ll be shepherding the heart. God is so much better at leading my daughter than I am, and I am trusting him to guide her heart in all things-- even choosing a bathing suit.

Moms of daughters, I’d love for you to weigh in here. And moms of sons, I’d love to hear from you as well. I’ve got a boy coming up next, and I need your wisdom!