Adoption, Fostering, Parenting

Intro to a New Series: Spotlight on the Mommas

Whether you’re new here or we’ve been together for years, I’m sure you have noticed I have a heart for adoption and foster care. Loving kids like Jesus would is our calling as believers and decent human beings. I know you know this. There are kiddos all over the world who are not tucked in at night with a hug and a story. There are kiddos who don’t get food every day… and many of them live in your home town. There are kiddos fighting for survival, seeking out acceptance, looking for hope and lost in the meantime.

This breaks my heart.

It keeps me awake at night.

It’s not ok.

Fortunately, we have the power to change their destiny.

β€œThe truth is that the 143 million orphaned children and the 11 million who starve to death or die from preventable diseases and the 8.5 million who work as child slaves, prostitutes, or under other horrific conditions and the 2.3 million who live with HIV add up to 164.8 million needy children. And though at first glance that looks like a big number, 2.1 billion people on this earth proclaim to be Christians. The truth is that if only 8 percent of the Christians would care for one more child, there would not be any statistics left.”

― Katie J. Davis, Author or Kisses from Katie

I want you to know that you don’t have to do or be anything especially great to change the life of a child. You don’t need to have your life all put together and you sure as heck don’t have to have all the answers. What kiddos need is nurture and structure and with a little help from your community, church, caseworkers and a few therapists, you can offer that and so much more!

Can you cook mac and cheese? Do you know how to read a book? Are you good at Go-Fish? (If the answer to that one is no, that’s actually better in this case.) Kids will love you. Sign up for Foster Care or Refugee Care to love on some kiddos in your own home or seek out a foster family you know and do their laundry. Notice the kids in your own kids’ school that fall on the outskirts or utilize the free lunch program and invite them to a playdate. (Supporting other families is called ORPHAN PREVENTION, America needs this!)

This month I’ve got a spotlight on some seriously amazing Mommas. They have graciously agreed to share their own stories of unconventional motherhood and I’m telling you: they have MOTHERED WELL because they were willing to show up. They have held little hands, wiped away big tears, made crazy amounts of food, played games, learned new math and woke up at ungodly hours of the night. Some of them have signed piles of paperwork, went to courtrooms, faced fears, said goodbye and some of them (like me) are still waiting for their kiddos to make it home. What they have all done, however, is said YES. They have all taken risks and stepped out in faith and I am so honored to share these beautiful, wild and crazy women with you.

So today I have a reading list for you to stir up the Holy Spirit in your hearts and create awareness. Here’s a few of my favorite books to open up your mind and heart and learn more about the needs of children in the US and around the world:

Dozens of people have written summaries of these amazing books, I won’t even try. I’ll just tell you to read them. I have found several at the library or on Hoopla, Libby, and Audiobooks. Trust me, they will change your life!

  • No Greater Love By Levi Benkert
  • Sold by Patricia McCormick (Honestly, only read this one if you are very brave.)
  • Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis
  • Too Small to Ignore Wess Stafford (Former CEO of Compassion International)
  • Small Town, Big Miracle by W.C. Martin
  • No Longer a Slumdog by K.P. Yohannan

Are you ready to change the world? It doesn’t have to be all at once, just one sweet little broken spirit… one at a time.

Honesty, Prayer, Self-Care, Simplifying

A January-Inspired Reading List for Your Season of REST

This post contains affiliate links. (I’ve got a quick link to Amazon on each book title in case you want to grab it NOW – you’re welcome πŸ˜‰)

I don’t know about you, but January is when TRUE winter starts around here. In Michigan we batten down the hatches, put a fire in the fireplace and watch the snowglobe happen outside while snuggled under blankets. I love January for it’s stillness, the time for introspection over the new year’s blank slate, and the ability to rest after the holiday’s craziness. I also love it because I finally get to read all those books I’ve been meaning to start [or finish]!

Well I’ve been in a season of rest for a while – longer than I planned, but I’m getting better at both physical and emotional rest each day- and it all became purposeful with these books. If you’re in need of true soul-deep rest, here is a reading list of incredibly inspirational books to help you pause, reflect, and become the intentional person you were meant to be!

Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist – Shauna feels like the big sister who is always just a step ahead of me! She is insightful and honest and I glean so much wisdom from her thought-provoking honesty. She reached a point of burn-out both physically and emotionally and now she has overcome the chaos to live intentionally. I love how she noticed and celebrated every step of the journey. I read this beauty slowly and savored every page!

PS while you’re at it, you should definitely look at Shauna’s daily devo called Savor! One blip of introspection and Jesus for every day of the year ** with recipes thrown in for good measure**!

Slow Down by Nichole Nordeman (with exerpts from Shauna & Jen Hatmaker too!)- Oh to slow down and let time stand still in the midst of parenting! This is more of an interactive journal with quick devotional thoughts and beautiful pictures. I recommend this book for moments of respite when one busy day blurs into the next! It’s a sweet way to reflect on the beauty of motherhood and bring purposeful stillness in the moment ❀

Nothing To Prove by Jennie Allen – Do you feel like you’re under constant pressure? Whether external or internal pressure, we sometimes realize we’ve been holding our breath and avoiding honesty. Jennie has been there. She admits “No one is ‘great’ all the time”, we all have things that we face that are bigger than we are and we need to let the air out of our lungs so we can breath deeply again. Jennie is the gentlest of souls to lead you down the road of openness, honesty, and God’s ability to relieve the pressure that building up inside.

**Jennie also has a bible/group study if you want to be brave and invite some friends along on your journey. I was forever changed by the honesty I was able to bring to the table when my woman’s group studied Proven.

Living From The Unseen by Wendy Backlund – This is actually my third time reading this one because Wendy is a person of JOY! She and her husband have an incredible ministry speaking life and declaring truth and this book is everything I needed to rejuvenate my exhausted spiritual life. Each time through it, I was refilled, challenged, and I walked away with new declarations  for my life and my identity that I never would have realized without Wendy’s direction.

Baptism Of Love by Leif Hetland – When you need to be reminded of your place in the Kingdom of God, this is the book for you. I so often come to God needing to be reminded that He is a good Father and that no matter what I do (or don’t do!) He loves me. Leif reminds us that there are no strings attached to God’s love for us. I could honestly read this book every year for the rest of my life and I would continue to experience God’s love in new and profound ways. It’s a thinker and a life-changer. Your heart will never be the same.

Of Mess & Moxie (And of course it’s Prequel: For the Love!) by Jen Hatmaker – Sometimes I just need to let go and laugh! Well if you know Jen at all, you know she has a way of mixing humor with truth and everyday circumstance. Jen Hatmaker is as real as real can be and her sense of humor made me laugh out loud and loosen up as well as seeing the world through new eyes.

The Practice Of The Presence Of God by Brother Lawrence – This age-old collection of timeless teachings was a gift I might never have found on my own. Of course, now that I’ve read it, I see it on book lists everywhere for the God-hungry. Brother Lawrence was a Friar in the 17th century who was experienced at communing with God and seeing His hand at work every minute of the day. He loved God so much, he would do every & any menial task for God’s glory, if only that were my perspective!

You Are The Girl For the Job by Jess Connolly – Girls, if you need a personal cheerleader, Jess is your girl! She’s sweet, southern and full of scripture to point you to the God who makes us capable. It’s not actually about us, after all… Jess adds stories of her life as an author, speaker & pastor’s wife that make me feel like maybe I can do this thing called life in my own way {without all the judgement or comparison!} and it’ll be ok.

You guys, life is not about busy-ness or even productivity or accomplishment. Life is about love. And I can certainly love better when I’m coming from a place of rest than anywhere else in the world! As I learn to trust instead of strive and practice saying “No” to the unnecessary, I find I have more of myself to invest in what I truly care about, I can connect more deeply with the people I love most and I have more time for the things I’m passionate about.

So what about you? What’s on your January reading list? And what is it that you may need to say “No” to, so that you can say yes to rest!?

P.S. One last book, because you KNOW how much I love community: Rythms of Renewal by Rebekah Lyons – Ok, I haven’t read this one yet. It’s in my Amazon cart along with the DVD and Study Guide. Read the description! It has the words “rest, restore, connect, and create” which are pretty much all of my new year’s resolutions. Who wants to read it together!? Let’s start an email book club and work our way through the rest, restoration, connection and creating that we were designed for! Sign up for my email list and I’ll get us a group together, if you’re in!