{BOOK GIVEAWAY} Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches

I’m so excited to announce that my new devotional book for moms, Quiet Time, has officially released! I’ve been so grateful for the finished product and that it is reaching moms with hope and encouragement. It is now available to order on Amazon – paperback and Kindle versions. I’m also giving away two copies along with some Windrift Hill cucumber melon soap.

** To enter the giveaway:

1.) Leave a Comment on how you get quiet time for your self and soul.

2.) Share this post via social media and tag one friend you’re thankful for.

That’s it!

Giveaway Ends NEXT TUESDAY, December 20. Winners will be notified.

BABY BODY {an excerpt from the Quiet Time Devotional Book for Moms}

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“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God,

to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God,

which is your spiritual worship.”

Romans 12:1

“Sometimes when I look in the mirror or see photos of my post-baby body times four, I cringe a little. I knew my body had changed dramatically through each unique pregnancy, but the full impact hits me when I see the proof. A squishy belly that my kids love to blow their sticky lips on, a larger pant size, purplish-blue varicose veins, stretch marks, and other unpleasant sights have surfaced that didn’t exist before. I’m often amazed that my husband still finds me attractive after all my body has gone through.

I’ve often thought about what God would want us to know about our bodies. After all, he knows we’ve birthed a live human being into this world—many of us multiple human beings. We’ve fed our babies, clothed them, and watched over their very livelihood. We’ve sacrificed nearly 24 hours a day for them. Is the physical sacrifice we have made and are making worth it?

The new marks we wear are battle wounds that signify something so much greater than the eye can see. Of course there’s nothing wrong with watching carefully what we eat, exercising, and eventually burning off the weight, but honoring God in that process is most important. We could be consumed with our health where it’s an idol, or we might not be concerned at all, which isn’t good either.

The truth is that our baby bodies, no matter what shape and size, are pleasing to the Lord. They reveal the physical, emotional, and spiritual sacrifices we make for our children every day. They signify the new life we’ve prepared for, prayed over, and laboriously delivered into this world. They remind us of the reward we have in raising our children and offering them to the Lord each day.

We’re called to offer our bodies as living sacrifices unto the Lord, holy and acceptable. This is our act of worship to him. Worship to him isn’t reserved just for Sunday mornings but is a lifestyle throughout the week. The physical sacrifices of putting our children’s needs before our own, nursing our baby around the clock, easing the pain of a sick one, changing multiple diapers, losing sleep, cleaning up messes, managing meltdowns, watching over their safety, and more are all sweet sacrifices God sees and delights in.

Giving up the right to yourself in order to invest selflessly into the life of your precious child is a beautiful thing. Giving your body wholly to God and honoring him as you raise your children is an act of love and service to him that should never be devalued and diminished. God sees your effort and delights in it.”

PRAYER: God, my body is yours to do with as you please. Help me to honor you today and remember the great sacrifice I’m making as I invest in the lives of my children. I give myself wholly to you to do as you will in my life. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

quiet-times-large-title-front-cover-kindle** This excerpt is from my new devotional book Quiet Time. 

** The QUIET TIME  E-BOOK is now available for pre-order in the Kindle store on Amazon.     <—- click here to download

** The paperback version will release at the end of the month!

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Exciting Writing News (& How You Can Help!)

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final stages of tweaks {New Leaf Creative Studio}

Even when we give up on our dreams, God doesn’t. Even when we doubt him, he is still faithful. Our desires may be fulfilled differently than we think, but that doesn’t mean God has forgotten them. He knows best and his timing is perfect.

When Jeremiah and I returned from our 10-year anniversary trip this past summer, I received an email from a big-name publisher about my interest in writing a devotional book with an author many of us know in the Christian community. I was beaming with excitement – heartbeat racing and all! I was one of 3 writers to submit samples but as I got further into the process, I learned that it was going to be a ghostwrite and not a cowrite to my dismay.

After seeking counsel and being still for a while, I respectfully declined as ghostwriting wasn’t in line with my personal writing goals or something I felt comfortable with. Through that experience however, I learned so much. Feeling somewhat stuck and discouraged, I began answering my own question, What if I write my own devotional book? I’ve always had a burning message in my heart to communicate to moms who are struggling. Jeremiah really encouraged me to do what I felt most excited about right nowThat was June. This is October. And here we are…

I’m thrilled to let you know that I’ll be releasing my first book (Kindle & paperback versions) called Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches. I will be talking about it more this month, but I wanted to begin sharing now.

Quiet Time is all about encouraging and strengthening moms in the trenches of motherhood who are daily battling tantrums, sibling fights, defiance, emotional ups and downs, sleepless nights, depression, and more. This devotional book helps address the worthiness of the calling in the midst of the sacrifice. On each page, moms will find their calm in Christ and be reassured that they’re not alone, God is with them, and their work is worthy.

14489737_10102850710146368_1307227125_oRight now, I’m building a Street Team of readers and friends who will come alongside me to share the book with others. I truly believe in the power of community and that this project is a team effort. I would love for you to consider joining me.

As a part of the Street Team, you will be helping me get the word out about the book and also being a huge part of encouraging young moms.

What is required to be on the Street Team?

1.) Read a PDF copy of the book. You will receive a free PDF copy of the book before it goes on sale. (a month before it releases)

2.) Write a positive Amazon Review. Once you’ve read the book and if you like it, I would love for you to share a positive Amazon review during the launch.

3.) Share on social media. Provide a link on your social media accounts where friends/family can learn more about the book.

And I have a few other goodies up my sleeve as well. If you’re not a mom, I still welcome you to read it and share it. If you can’t commit to being on my street team, I value your prayers as we near the end of the process and launch the book.

If you would like to join me on the Street Team, please fill out your information on the form below and I will be in touch with you. Thank you so much!

Samantha

Love Covers a Multitude of Sins – Even in Marriage & Motherhood

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This past Monday, I was a wreck. I went on my morning run to try to get rid of the mess inside of me. But even after listening to encouraging worship songs and working up a good sweat, I was tired, cranky, emotional, and irrational in my thought life. I couldn’t escape it all day long no matter how hard I tried.

If you’ve ever heard of the H.A.L.T. acronym that stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired, you know that sin is creeping at your door when you have one, two, three, or all of these going on. And that you truly do need to halt! My issue was the T. My husband and children took the grunt of my exhaustion. My words and actions weren’t exactly a portrait of the Proverbs 31 woman.

I felt like giving up as a wife and mom. Tears ran fast and down my pillow that evening.

My sins are numerous, I thought. I just can’t get it together. Everywhere I turn I create a disaster.

Well, I don’t know if you’ve ever been there but it can be so discouraging when your sinful nature is not tamed and you feel like some sins you’ll never be able to overcome.

I remembered how tired I was and began to think rational again. I knew many of my reactions were due to that. I played my part by getting God’s word in my heart,  settling down, and asking forgiveness. I remembered the verse:

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. – 1 Peter 4:8

I drew upon this truth because the Enemy’s lies in my head were:

You’re not good enough

You can’t handle this

God is ripping you off

You will never overcome

And then in that moment God’s word began to flood my soul with life-giving words:

You are enough

You can handle everything in my strength

I love you

I will help you overcome

Truth tells me that no matter how far I stray, love still covers a multitude of sins. My love for Jesus covers that. My love for those closest to me. And even the acceptance of myself.

Even on our very worst days, love still covers the darkest corners of our homes – the ugliest moments in marriage and motherhood. When we have failed those we love dearly, all the other 1,000 moments of love in a week that we have bestowed on them still trumps the 100 sins that have made us feel like an absolute failure of a wife and mom.

There is no sin that hasn’t been covered by his blood. 

Jesus understands our brokenness and thank goodness, his love never stops covering us – day in and day out. If you’ve found yourself swallowed by your own wake of disaster and exhaustion, know that you are loved, forgiven, bought at a high price, and set free from that sin. His grace is always available to draw upon in your time of need.

And by all means, HALT when you need to.

Cheering you on in the trenches,

Samantha

 

A Wife & Mother’s Response to Target’s New Bathroom Policy

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waiting for Target’s doors to open – 2013

This blog is about marriage, motherhood, and faith. I prefer to stay out of politics and cultural affairs, but in light of recent news regarding Target’s new bathroom policy allowing transgender guests to use restrooms that correspond with their gender identity, I cannot stay silent.

I’ll be the first to tell you that I don’t like jumping on the bandwagon of being just another blog post that has something to say. I’m just an ordinary mom with a husband and four children living in a small town. I’m an imperfect sinner saved by grace. I believe in being a light in this dark world and submitting to governing authorities. I believe love covers a multitude of sins – not hate and judgment or attack. I love and respect those with different values.

With that being said, for as long as I’ve been a momma, I have loved me some Target. I can count many a mornings rolling into their parking lot with my stressed-out self, toting four children to the doors, and strapping them tightly into the red kids cart. My first priority being a chai tea latte with a shot of espresso. Target even thought of the cart cupholder. Genius.

Cleaning supplies, adorable kids clothes, jewelry, groceries, cards, toys, a new pair of sunglasses. You name it and I’ve bought it.

While we don’t live in the city anymore and don’t have immediate access to one, Target is still dear to me. I look forward to making the 2 1/2 hour trip to get my hands on one and the Chick-fil-a next to it. Target’s not just another retail giant in my eyes, but it’s a place of refuge, fun, and sanity.

With their recent news, I’m at a loss as to what to do as are many other moms I’ve talked to. I’m saddened. I understand the argument, “Why are we surprised? This is where our culture is headed. The church hasn’t been standing up for truth. Why should we expect the world to have Christian standards?…”  I’m not surprised, either. I am in shock! Do I still shop at Target and just not use the restrooms? (that’s impossible with young kids). Do I pray they will change their policy (yes!) Do I boycott and give someone else the business I would give Target? (I’d rather not).

I know Target doesn’t uphold to biblical standards so I wouldn’t expect them to but still… This policy feels like a dangerous, slippery slope where the line has been crossed.

My main concern is for women and children. Target’s policy will be taken advantage of – it already has in other bathrooms across the country according to news outlets. Three days ago the AFA wrote in Sign the Boycott Target Pledge!,

Target’s policy is exactly how sexual predators get access to their victims. And with Target publicly boasting that men can enter women’s bathrooms, where do you think predators are going to go?

It’s not just about being inclusive and welcoming everyone. We know all too well the depravity of the human heart. As parents, we have a great responsibility to protect our children from harm – physical, emotional, and sexual. That has always been our responsibility no matter if we’re in a bathroom stall or at home.

Because Target is the first retail domino to fall, there is an opportunity to send a sound and clear message to all retailers that this America where men are allowed into women’s restrooms and vice versa is not the America we desire. If those who are for privacy and safety in the restrooms are the majority, then that majority must speak out or its voice will be deafened by the silence. Let retailers who stand in favor of public safety and privacy for our children know that we appreciate them and will patronize their efforts on our behalf.

I’ve decided to shop elsewhere in hopes that other retailers won’t follow suit and assume this is what consumers want. Of course that makes this mama-Target-loving heart sad, but I will continue to leave what makes me angry and upset in God’s hands and ask for his help to navigate the ever-changing tides in our culture.

Mommas Need Good Friday Too

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I don’t remember exactly what my son had done that afternoon, but it involved disobedience. I remember where we were – in our backyard on a hot summer’s day in Texas. He was pushing my buttons at just the right time. He continued with his defiance and it was in that moment that I grabbed him and lashed out at him, yelling and all. There is a point as mommas when we discipline for correction and there is a line that we cross when we break a child’s spirit. I had done the latter.

Anger filled my heart. And I was done. I wanted to throw in the towel. Guilt and shame flooded my soul for the way I had hurt him – my precious first born baby whom I loved with all my heart and soul.

After cooling off and just wanting to hide in a corner, I confessed my sin to the Lord and to my son. “I’m sorry, John. Mom is struggling and the way I treated you was wrong. Will you forgive me?”

“Of course, Mom. I love you,” were his words.

Oh the forgiveness that I did not deserve. But with welcoming, child-like faith my son accepted my apology. He loved me anyway and our relationship was restored.

I don’t know where you are in your journey in motherhood, but perhaps like me you’ve been there. Maybe today. You see your brokenness, humanity, and sinful nature for what it is and it ain’t pretty. You would rather isolate and not expose it for what it is. You carry burdens of shame and guilt. You don’t know how to manage it. You know that you simply can’t on your own. I get it.

Jesus does too.

By His Wounds You are Healed

Because of the costly price of our sin, Jesus took care of the enormous debt we could not pay. Because of our sin and weakness, he willingly went to the cross to be crucified. He suffered, he bled, and he died a criminal’s death.

His love ran red for you. His blood on the cross took care of your sin problem. And by his wounds, you are healed.

His wounds save you from the outbursts of anger, the covetousness, the discontentment, the cursing, the lusts of your flesh, the struggle with control, the need for approval, the desire to have more, the need to be successful, the intense struggle with your children, the pride and more.

You see, Good Friday is not just for the church-goer on Sunday morning but doesn’t yet have a real faith in Jesus, but it is for the one who is broken. It is for those who know their great and desperate need for a Savior. Good Friday is not only for the businessman, social worker, doctor, teacher, politician, and more but it is also for the Momma who is weary and trembling in her calling to raise up her children in the way they should go.

Mommas need Good Friday too. And Jesus was thinking of you on the cross. He understands your struggle and suffering too. The truth is that we can’t manage our sin in motherhood, but Jesus can. The truth is that we don’t have it all together and we need his grace every hour.

Stop Doubting & Believe

After Jesus’ victory over death and sin and after he rose from the dead, doubting Thomas still struggled to believe that Jesus was who he said he was – the Messiah. The Savior of the world. More importantly, his personal Savior.

After the resurrection when Jesus was with his disciples, he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

And Thomas responded: “My Lord and my God!”

Thomas had touched his Savior’s wounds. The proof was before his eyes. Jesus was the Son of God. He had no excuse not to believe.

And Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed” (John 20:26-29).

He is for You

There is much we don’t see in our calling as mommas, but do we still believe that Jesus is who he said he is? Do we believe that his wounds have set us free in our struggle with sin and will continue to set us free in the hard days to come?

The good news, Momma, is that the burdens of shame and guilt that you carry have been covered by Jesus’ blood on the cross. I know it’s hard to believe, but you can live in victory over your sin by his strength and in his power. And he is fully able to help make you the Momma you desire to be.

He sees you. He knows you. He is for you as you shepherd the hearts of your children.

And it is in fact, a very, very, Good Friday.

Blessings to you,

Samantha

 

Strong God, Strong Mom

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At the beginning of the year, my husband and I were asked to speak for my mother’s group on the topic of marriage. During our talk, I shared some stories on how our kids have impacted our relationship and how I struggle at times with anger and control in raising our four young children. Sharing the more raw details of life can be a scary risk that involves vulnerability but I always figure that if it can help someone else, being authentic is worth it.

Well after our talk, one of my mom friends who I respected and was a “super mom” in my eyes, came up to me and said how much she related to what I had to say.

“Really?” I asked her…

Read the rest on FortheFamily.org

 

 

 

6 Surprising Ways to Survive the Younger Years

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If you’re like me and you’re in the trenches of raising young children you’ve probably at least thought or said the words, “Help! I’m in survival mode!”

This has been true for my husband and I for the last several years. Our four children are a blessing to us – a gift from God whom we love and cherish with all our hearts – but we still have our share of challenges, trials, and conflict on a daily basis.

Just a couple hours ago, my 1.5 year old took a nice big bite into my 4 year olds cheek. She was screaming with tears running down her face simultaneously with my cranky 3 year old who has a runny nose and fever. Meanwhile, my 6 year old is in the bathroom having a hard time, and well, let’s just say there was a mess to clean up…

Read the rest here

A Letter to My Son (The Kindergarten Graduate)

IMG_7500I am pretty excited to be writing as a new contributor for Forthefamily.org. Especially as our family has grown in size over the last few years, I find myself having a lot of ideas for articles. Or rather, the struggle in raising children and keeping your marriage #1 is so real that I can’t not write about it! I wrote this letter a while back for my son and decided to edit it now that he is a kindergarten graduate. I read it to him recently and it was a sweet time between the two of us. I hope this brings you encouragement as you train, love, and disciple your own children and hopefully keep your hair in tact. 🙂

Dear Son,

You are growing into such a smart and sweet-spirited young boy. This past year you’ve gone from reading only a few words to reading chapter books and doing addition and subtraction. You recently graduated from Kindergarten and it feels like yesterday that your tiny fingers wrapped around mine and I couldn’t stop smelling your soft baby skin, over and over again.

I consider my role as your Momma a serious responsibility and privilege to which I will be held accountable to God. Every day I get to spend with you is a gift to invest in your precious life. I know that the time I have with you in these formative years is numbered. I still can’t believe you’ll be entering first grade in the fall. How can it be?

Read the rest over on FortheFamily.org

 

 

My One Word Resolution for 2015

Last year, I ditched the long list of resolutions and clung to a one word resolution instead. As we approach the end of 2014, I’m happy to report that I loved honing in on one word and remembering it throughout the year. Don’t get me wrong, historically I’ve been a goal setter and definitely believe in beginning with the end in mind but as a busy wife and momma, I did so much better last year focusing on one key word to implement in my life.

Discipline was the word I chose last year and it came to mind often. I have seen discipline in my life when it comes to: reading and studying the Bible, committing to a running routine/accountability partner, writing 2 book proposals, meeting weekly with my community group girls, and home organization. I didn’t do so great at journaling, putting letters in the mail or relying less on caffeine.

When I look at what I want 2015 to hold, the word JOY is inescapable for me. Theopedia defines joy as:

A state of mind and an orientation of the heart. It is a settled state of contentment, confidence, and hope. It is something or someone that provides a source of happiness. It appears 88 times in the Old Testament in 22 books; 57 times in the New Testament in 18 books…

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Joy is actually an area that I struggle with particularly in motherhood. The daily demands of meeting my children’s needs is often overwhelming, especially at their ages. It is a serious job indeed, but I don’t think I laugh or smile enough. Sometimes the daily grind affects my relationship with my husband when I really don’t want it to. Too often, I allow the pressures, trials, and temptations of life in general to steal my joy. And it shouldn’t be that way.

For a while, I thought I was the only one who needed more joy in my life until I talked with my friend Amy over coffee a few months ago and she boldly shared that she was praying for this in her life as well. I would’ve never guessed she was praying for more joy too. We talked about some joy stealers:

  • Comparing yourself/children/husband to others
  • Discontentment with where God has you
  • Unmet expectations
  • Coveting what someone else has
  • Unforgiveness
  • Constantly giving of yourself and no time for solitude
  • Resentment
  • Self-pity
  • Loss of purpose
  • Thinking God didn’t get it right
  • Finding hope in yourself instead of God and more…

I realize that joy will not come by my own strength or will, either. It is not something I can create with my own hands or wish for. This second fruit of the spirit is only found in Jesus as he produces this spirit inside me as I submit to him. It is not dictated by circumstances or experiences. It is a condition of the heart and it remains even in the midst of great suffering and adversity.

Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:2

I don’t know what 2015 will hold, but I know Who holds the future. When I’m tempted to worry of fear about tomorrow, I can instead place my hope and joy in Christ. I’m confident that He will give me what I need and that joy can actually be more real and evident in my life than ever before.

Have you made any resolutions or considered choosing one word you’d like to focus on? If you struggle with joy, let’s team up and fight for it together this coming year.

 

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