Top Blog Posts and Articles from 2013

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2013 was somewhat a year of sweet survival for me as we welcomed baby #4 (and my husband gutted our entire master bath and remodeled it – yep he’s amazing). So far 2014 is shaping up similarly (still in survival mode and sleep deprived) but that’s okay. In 2013, I was able to post about once a month and submitted 3 articles for online publications. I wrote mostly about motherhood and marriage. While I wasn’t able to blog a whole lot, I’m grateful for the moments of solitude I did have!

Here are the Top Blog Posts according to hits:

1.) What to do With Miley

2.) A Surprise Baby!

3.) You Might be a Stay-at-Home Mom to Four Kids, 4 & Under If…

4.) A Letter to My Son, On Manhood, Mission, & Meaning in Life

5.) Help Us Name Our Baby!

6.) One Fact in Motherhood: Some Days Everything Falls Apart

 

Here are the Top Articles according to Facebook Shares 

1.) 8 Non-Negotiables for Dads with Daughters – KirkCameron.com

2.) 5 Words that Could Mean Life or Death to Your Marriage – StartMarriageRight.com

3.) I Love You, But How Do I Like You? – StartMarriageRight.com

I’m excited for the experiences and stories God will give me this year to write about. In case you missed some of the above, I hope you get a chance to read them. I appreciate you!

New Article: 5 Words That Could Mean Life or Death to Your Marriage

Last week was an exciting week being able to share an article I wrote that was inspired by a photo I saw. It was a blessing to hear from readers on Start Marriage Right and KirkCameron.com

If you haven’t read it yet I hope you will be encouraged as well.

A few weeks ago, my friend Charity wrote on Facebook that a photo of her friend’s grandparents had made The Huffington Post. I clicked on the link and saw the breathtaking image of this husband and wife. I was instantly caught up in the beauty and tragedy of it.

I imagined what was going through the wife’s mind as she held the fragile hand of her dying husband. I imagined the memories they shared together—the joys and challenges. I imagined the birth of their first child and raising a family in their home. I pictured his strength and her beauty at a young age…

Continue Reading…

My One Word Resolution

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Thanks to the inspiration from MyOneWord.org, I’m losing the long list of resolutions this year and choosing just one word as a theme for the year.

D I S C I P L I N E

It’s the word that keeps coming to my mind, even though it’s not a popular one.

To take it a little deeper, I desire more discipline in…

speaking less and listening more

cultivating deeper relationships

relying less on caffeine

journaling about everyday life

affirming and uplifting my husband

not comparing myself to others

knowing Scripture

sitting on the floor with my children

wisely/intentionally stewarding the gifts and resources God has entrusted to me

putting letters in the mail

my personal time with Jesus

realistically working off baby weight

sharing stories of God’s love and grace

joyfully serving my husband and children

consuming less and creating more

giving my anxiety struggles to the Lord

controlling my emotions

being bold in sharing my faith

laughing more and stressing less

… and more as I continue to reflect on the theme of discipline in 2014.

Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. – the Apostle Paul, 1 Cor. 9:24-27

Have you made any resolutions or considered choosing one word you’d like to focus on?

Book Review & Giveaway – Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me by Karen Swallow Prior

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A while back, my former college professor and friend, Karen Swallow Prior, sent me a copy of her new book to read and review. She also gave me a copy to giveaway on my blog. I’m excited to finally share this with you as Karen is very dear to me.

Review – Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me 

In Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me author and beloved friend Karen Swallow Prior writes a beautiful and insightful memoir connecting her love for literature to her own life experiences and personal faith in God. From a very young age, books (and animals) have been an integral part of Karen’s life so it’s only natural that her first published book is titled Booked.

In each chapter, Karen skillfully weaves a great literature classic (Charlotte’s Web, Great Expectations, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Gulliver’s Travel and Jane Eyre to name a few) and relates the main and subtle themes of the novel to her life. Karen helps you see these classics through a biblical lens, ultimately leading you to a greater discovery of self and ultimately God.

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Whether you’re familiar with classic literature or not, you’ll fall in love with Karen’s humor, intellect, story-telling, authenticity, depth, and ability to “show” rather than tell a life story. It’s as if you were there with her in every emotion and experience. It’s difficult not to read on to the next chapter.

Having sat under Karen’s teaching for four years as a college student, Booked brought me back to my undergraduate years in Liberty University’s English Department where I fondly remember her contagious passion for the written word and for students to truly grasp just how much words have the power to change a life.

When you finish reading Booked you’ll be encouraged by the truth that God will meet you anywhere at anytime. As Karen writes, “He met me where I was. In the books.” And He reveals Himself in such a way for the purpose of redemption and life transformation.

priorAbout the author: Karen Swallow Prior is Professor of English at Liberty University and an award-winning teacher. She is a contributing writer for Christianity Today, where she blogs frequently at Her.meneutics. Her writing has appeared in Relevant, Think Christian, and Salvo. She is a member of the Faith Advisory Council of the Humane Society of the United States. She and her husband live on a 100-year old homestead in central Virginia with horses, dogs, and chickens. And lots of books.

** To enter to win a free copy of Booked, please leave a comment on this post. The winner will be chosen using Random.org and announced on Monday. 

One Fact in Motherhood: Some Days Everything Falls Apart

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my baby boy (2 mos)

{written last night}

Today was a circus.

The 5 year old, almost 3 year old, 1 year old, and baby were all cranky from the moment their toes hit the floor. Okay so not the baby’s toes exactly. But anyway, constant noise, screams, and whines echoed through the walls all day long. The 5 year old lied three times and threw some verbal punches at his sister. Careless words I’d never heard before. Pinching, hitting, crying, and the like. No one napped on schedule like they usually do.

We converted the almost 3 year old’s crib into her big girl bed and what was supposed to be a joyous occasion was quite interesting. Jeremiah had spent most of the day getting a new mattress and box spring up north and putting it all together when he got home. Our precious little girl seemed thankful and excited for a short time but ended up throwing fits and calling Daddy and Mommy names.

While all that was happening, the 5 year old was out playing wonderfully with the 1 year old and then he decides to push her in the one spot of the yard with mud. Her face and arms are caked with mud. More discipline came after that and then I scrubbed her off in the tub. Meanwhile, the 2 month old baby is fussy and needing all my attention and dinner needs to be served next, but the chicken chili is too hot and the older kids are complaining they don’t like it. (They liked it a few months ago.)

My head is spinning and I feel like I’m going to pass out from being up 3 times the night before. It’s all I can do to focus on the next task.

And then Daddy and Mommy have about had it with all the noise and fuss and start getting on each other and World War III (like the Sara Groves song) is about to erupt in the kitchen. Oh wait, it sort of already did amongst the dishes and debris. All little eyes are staring us down.

So Mommy runs upstairs to escape the chaos and have a good cry because let’s be honest, if that didn’t happen, all you know what would have broke out because when Mama’s not happy, nobody is. I didn’t want to hear the word “mommy” one more time.

Yes, this is reality some days. Thank goodness days like today aren’t this bad. I wish it was prettier. I wish I could say I got through the day because I thought about how I would miss this when they’re teenagers or that I got through the day because of the blessings and joys of being a mom regardless of the challenges. Or that it goes by so fast and I need to enjoy it.

But it wasn’t like that today.

Nope.

It was survival mode from the minute my feet hit the floor. I barely had time for a shower. No time for makeup. My husband and I have barely looked each other in the eyes today and it was his day off.

And right now, I’m so glad they’re all in bed and I can breathe and hear my fingers hit the keyboard as I write this.

“This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, Jeremiah,” I said to my husband a few minutes ago.

He gets it because he’s right with me through it all. The emotions, physical exhaustion, the spiritual battles, the sleep deprivation, the demands… There is so much that goes into loving and raising our children that we had no clue about before kids.

And I think to myself, is this what we signed up for? Holy cow. Four kids all still so young. God, you really think I can handle this?

After bellies are full, thing simmer down, and I’m able to think I ask my husband for forgiveness and we reconcile. I ask my older kids for forgiveness and we hug and talk about the conflict.

And that’s when the only thing that comes to mind is grace and God’s goodness. That’s all I’m left with at the end of the day. When all the happenings in my home are squeezing the life out of me and it’s all I can do to hold back tears from being so overwhelmed, God’s still voice says:

Anyone in these circumstances would struggle, Samantha.

It’s not going to be easy.

This is your sanctification.

But, I’ve got you.

Motherhood is your mission.

There is purpose in this.

I’m with you.

I’ll help you hold on.

Everyone’s going to survive.

I will use this for good.

I love you.

Even in times of brokenness, chaos, feelings of failure, shame and absolute exhaustion, His arms are open wide to carry the burden for me.

And I am so thankful for that tonight.

He is who I will cling to when my head hits the pillow. It is He who I will ask to help me better love my children the next day. It is He who I will trust to bring new mercies and change me in the beautiful, messy, joyful, necessary, difficult, rewarding, purposeful work of motherhood.

New Article: 8 Non-Negotiables for Dads with Daughters- KirkCameron.com

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kirkcameron.com

Lately, I’ve been inspired by the importance of the daddy-daughter relationship and I wrote about it recently on KirkCameron.com. After all, I’m a Daddy’s girl myself!

This was my first article geared primarily for dads and I’ve been so humbled by the response it’s getting and have really appreciated hearing from readers. It makes me realize this is truly a need in our culture today. Feel free to share your thoughts over there and thanks for reading!

8 Non-Negotiables for Dads with Daughters

A couple months ago, my kids were playing upstairs when my two-year-old daughter Rebekah starts screaming at the top of her lungs. I ran upstairs to find that she’d cut her eyebrow from jumping off the bed onto her brother’s train table.

Since it looked bad, I called my neighbor for help so I could take Rebekah to the Urgent Care clinic. After waiting and being seen, the doctor explained that she’d need three stitches. The nurses and I held Rebekah down while the doctor threaded her skin. Her eyes filled with tears as she shouted, “D-a-d-d-y … D-a-d-d-y!”

Read the rest over on KirkCameron.com

You Might be a Stay-at-Home Mom to Four Kids, 4 & Under If…

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1. You find your morning cup of coffee still sitting in the microwave at 5:00 PM

2. The most popular comments in public are, “Wow, you have your hands full!” and “Are ALL those yours?”

3. You have 10 pacifiers and can’t find any of them

4. Sitting in the church service with your husband feels like a date

5. You no longer have to apologize to your company for the house being a disaster

6. You can’t remember the last time you had a full night’s sleep

7. The only break you get is a bathroom break

8. Breaking up fights and disciplining is your job whether you like it or not

9. You won’t dare go to the grocery store unless you are alone

10. Your third child doesn’t mind eating off your second child’s breakfast plate (sometimes cold)

11. You have to schedule your morning around how many dirty diapers you’ll have to change before going out

12. You consider lifting a 2 1/2 year old, 1 year old, and newborn as your weight training class

13. You get angry that there aren’t more mom-friendly, healthy drive-thru restaurants

14. You have to think twice whether or not you forgot a child

15. Visiting a chiropractor is a non-negotiable

16. You throw your kids at your husband as soon as he walks in the door

17. You pack all your kids in your van for a drive so you can have a conversation with your husband

18. Mother’s Day out and morning preschool are lifelines

19. You’ve become good friends with your Pediatrician

20. The only way to cook a meal is to put a kids show on

21. You are amazed you even got through another day

22. You’re humbled because your son’s teacher wrote you an email this week saying he’s pretty much her top student. She didn’t know you’ve felt like a failure of a mom lately

23. You realize more than ever how precious life is and it’s not a cliche that it’s truly a gift

24. You want other people to experience the blessing of children, even when motherhood – no matter how many kids you have – is the hardest.job.ever

25. You are surprised that your capacity to love grows richer and deeper

26. You find yourself not wanting to ever miss out on each child’s first milestone because you know how fast time has flown with the oldest

27. You pray every day that your children will come to know and love Jesus in spite of you

28. You ask God to do great things in and through your children so they can make a difference in the lives of others

29. You start to understand that the daily, difficult, messy, complicated, satisfying, beautiful, mundane tasks in motherhood and raising children are working together for a greater purpose. When you serve them, you serve God.

30. It’s a miracle that you finished this blog post!

What to do With Miley

credit: eonline.com

photo credit: eonline.com

You’ve probably heard about Miley Cyrus’s performance last night at MTV’s VMAs. I didn’t watch the VMAs but I saw a clip on CNN and that was enough to know why everyone is shocked. My jaw definitely dropped. This morning I was debating about tweeting, “Mommas and Daddy’s: Don’t let your babies grow up to be like Miley.”

Then I thought long and hard about those words and I chose not to tweet them. I needed to shut my mouth and pray for her and really look beyond the show of it all and see the obvious brokenness. My heart grew sad for her because God wants so much more for her life.

Author and blogger Annie Downs wrote today:

While today’s headlines are tearing her [Miley] to shreds, we as Christians HAVE to sound different than the world. We HAVE to yell a different chant in her direction about how God made her on purpose and how she is valuable because of WHO she is, not WHAT she does. I’m not saying we ignore the influence she is having, but if we want to help her [and that is the question titling this post after all], then we have to look at her with eyes of compassion and have our words sound from there.

Eyes of compassion is definitely something I need because I’m initially judgmental and angry over things like this. I mean, rightfully so, right? But then I have to remember what God has saved me from and is saving me from. I’m no different than Miley, just a sinner saved by grace. And I sure need compassion from others every day.

My brokenness might not be manifested on a stage for all the world to see, but God sure knows my sins, struggles, and areas where I have yet to be Christ-like in. And the Lord knows that without him, I am a mess. I constantly need his forgiveness and grace.

I pray that Miley will come to know Jesus. I pray that Christians will extend unconditional love to her and help bring her to the One who can heal her brokenness.

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