Friday, September 11, 2015

When You're Feeling Stressed About The Bible



I've been working extra hard on making time to build a real relationship with the Lord lately. Not just to be faithful and obedient, but really knowing Him and letting Him into every part of my life. It is not always easy. How do you know what God wants from you when he's not standing there face to face talking you through it? How do you know you're interpreting His word correctly? How do you even really get involved in His word and not just read it but know it in your heart?

I finally got around to watching a class from the Influence Network last night that came out last month. I know, I'm slacking! It was Women Who Read the Word 2.0 by Jess Connolly. If you need to be inspired to read your Bible or you don't know where to start, I highly recommend this class! (There is also a part one to this class, that Jess teaches as well, and both of these are still available as past classes! The first is called How To: Just Get in God's Word.)

So I watched the class last night and now I'm feeling inspired to really get into His word and eat it up and know it and know Him. BUT. How do I soak it up? How do I comprehend it? Because I can sit down and read it and when we're talking about genealogy or names or places, I'm totally lost. I can read it ten times over and still not know it. Also, reading the Bible raises a lot of questions for me. I do better when I read a Christian life book with bits of scripture that pertain to something I can relate to or the season I'm at in life. It can get so discouraging and I hate to say it, but I've never read the whole Bible and there is SO MUCH that I just don't know.

Regardless of all that I got up this morning with renewed conviction that it was time for me to try again. I usually read from a book or devotional or the YouVersion Bible app and then look up the key verses in my physical Bible. Last week I downloaded She Reads Truth and I decided to try their Bible in a Year and The Gospel devotionals. (Both of which are available for free in their app!)

I am so glad I started off with these. God knew exactly what I was needing and He delivered in His perfect timing. I started off with the Bible in a Year. Instead of going by the actual date and starting off with September's readings, I went back to January. Some people might do fine starting in the middle of the year, but I really needed to see things from the beginning and have a good foundation to start on in understanding the Bible as a whole. The first day's readings are from Genesis and John. It helps that I've read through Genesis multiple times, so it wasn't too hard to get into. 



Next, I did the first day of The Gospel. The entire thing was powerful, but the best takeaway from it was this: "The mystery of the Gospel does nothing to negate its truth." Oh my goodness!! It is so big a concept that it is beyond our full understanding. The greatest Bible scholars in the world still have more to learn. It is not our job to know everything. God has that under control. Just because it is beyond my understanding DOES NOT mean that it is beyond His Godly power!

That takes a huge load off my shoulders. I want to know Him and be close to Him and use His word to glorify Him. I do not need to know everything the Bible says fully understand it to do that. I can lean on Him. He wants us to lean on Him. I don't know about y'all, but I am much more comfortable knowing that. The more I know from the Bible, the better. But I have the God given grace of not having to have my head wrapped around every single concept just to know Him, love Him, and walk with Him. That brings me divine relief. I hope it makes you want to jump into His word with less pressure too.

xoxo,


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Was All Stress Created Equal?

Hi y'all!!

If it wasn't already apparent, I took a hiatus from Mama Made a Blog for the last few months. At first I kept meaning to post and meaning to post, and adding more and more to my to do list so of course I kept putting it off.

And finally I had one of those defining moments when you gain clarity over what you're supposed to do - and I knew I just needed a break. I needed to downsize my to do list, and anything that was less than necessary needed to come off.

It is so easy to want to do more and more and more, and continue to add to our calendars and our to do lists. Haven't we heard of quality over quantity? You can make it to every single event on your social calendar, bake goodies for every organization and person who asks you to, and give your time to numerous other outlets and activities, but does any of that matter if you can't enjoy it?

I'll give you a hint, the short answer is no! :)

So, I stopped blogging for a while, and I got through the rest of the Spring semester, got through a nursing simulation and test, decided to take another year before finishing nursing classes, found out my little was wait-listed for preschool (it's a need-based program at the local public school, and she scored very high on her testing, so that was a blessing even though I want for there to be enough room in the class for her), Reagan turned 4, and we had the whole summer off together until I started the Fall semester this past week.

So clearly my to do list wasn't actually lacking ;)

That being said, I've been taking lots of classes on the Influence Network, reading some books just because I want to, and spending time with Reagan and loving on myself as well as Jesus.

Sometimes when we really feel like we need a break, what we really need to do is give ourselves one. I don't mean the kind of break you take when you have it all finished and your to do list is completed. Let me tell you, that time will not come. There will always be something you can put before your own rest and rejuvenation. 

Did you know that all stress has the same effect on your body? That's right, even good stress like blogging has the same effect as those things I need to get done that I don't want to because they're both adding to the amount of stress I'm feeling. A stress response is a stress response. It doesn't matter if it's wedding planning or cramming for your final exam. You might enjoy one more than the other (I hope!) but you're still going to experience your body's reaction to stress.

I'm currently reading The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst, because I still need tons of help prioritizing and saying yes to the right things. So far so good, but I'll write a full review when I'm done. Until then has anyone else read it? Have you had any times that you felt the need to pull back and say no, even to activities that you loved?

xoxo,

Katie

Friday, April 3, 2015

Book Review: If I Stay

Book Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Some books are easy reads. Perfect for beach days, relaxing and not doing too much heavy thinking. This is NOT one of those books!
If I Stay is an amazing and eloquently written book about a girl whose life is turned upside down by a car accident. She is essentially stuck in an out-of-body state watching everything happen around her over the course of the next day. From the time immediately following the accident, to her stay in the ICU, to the visitors who come to be with her, you follow her torturous inner battle with the decision to stay or leave this earth and the loved ones she has left.
This book rocked my world for a number of reasons. For starters, Forman wrote a completely riveting story that keeps you on the edge of your seat from the start. It is so hard to put down, I just wanted to read it in one sitting so I could find out what happened next and what decision she would ultimately make. The end definitely left a few questions, so it is sure to make readers ready to run out and buy the second book immediately. All signs of an amazing read!
When I was 19, my boyfriend was in a car accident and passed away from his injuries 6 days later. During this time I was with him or at least at the hospital almost the entire time. I was even at the scene of the accident when it happened. If you have lost a loved one, especially in such a traumatic way, you know what a life altering experience that is. It has been almost 5 years now, and sometimes when I’m really thinking about him a lot and missing him even more than usual, I just long to feel something significant. This book took me back with such intense emotion. It was so hard to read. I didn’t want to, but sometimes I had to make myself take a break. Gayle Forman did an incredible job capturing the entire ICU experience from the perspective of someone who does not frequent hospitals.
Even though it was an extremely emotional book to read, I think if you have experienced this kind of loss it’s therapeutic in a way. Having a chance to think through and process emotions, rather than bury them and let them build up, is important in any stage of grieving.
I highly suggest this book to anyone. It is a brilliant book even if you have never experienced anything like this in your life. You will be captivated from the very beginning with a perfect mix of suspense and substance. If you have been through this kind of tragic loss, I firmly believe If I Stay has something to offer you too.

 

Let me know what you think of If I Stay in the comments!
xoxo,
Katie

PS. This post contains an affiliate link and I will receive a small compensation if you purchase through it, but this has no influence over my decision to share this book or my opinion of it. :)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Rough Patches

What a hard week this has been. Reagan has hit a bit of a tantrum spell. Possibly she can sense the tension around her and her bad moods are feeding off of that. It's bound to happen when 7 people live in one house, but that doesn't make it fun ;)
 
She's also turning 4 one week from today! Super exciting because her party is Saturday and we have made it through the age of 3, but also bittersweet because my "baby" is starting preschool in the fall! If I could just hit pause for a little while I would be so tempted. She's so much fun right now, and I am really enjoying this age so much. But I also know our bond will continue to grow :)
 
There has been so much to do for school and the nursing program this week also. I am picking up with the rest of my nursing classes starting in the fall, so I have to a lot to do to prepare for that and for the simulation lab I'll have to do this coming month to test back into the class. It's a little frustrating to have to retake a lab that I've already passed, but it's also good to have that practice and refresh my memory. I can't believe it's been almost a year since my last lab and clinical!
 
My sweet cousin was pregnant and we knew she would be due a few weeks after Reagan's birthday, but she had preeclampsia as her pregnancy progressed and this past week it became severe. My new baby "niece" is still in the NICU and her mama is taking it pretty hard so please keep them in your prayers! I actually chose preeclampsia as a research topic weeks ago and had to study it after Taylor's birth, so that was really hard knowing everything that my cousin has been through and what the future could hold.
 
All of this has made for some very stressful times around our house! Fortunately I have God, coffee, and long chats with dear friends to keep me sane ;) I don't need to have it all figured out or fix everything because He knows His plans for me and for everyone I love. The ultimate stress reliever for me is being able to take a deep breath and give it all to God. All my burdens and worries and fears, He says He will help carry them. I'm not in life alone, all I have to do is trust Him. What sweet relief that is.
 
How do you unwind in hard times? COMMENT below!
 
xoxo,
 
Katie
 
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Monday, March 16, 2015

Love List: Things I'm Loving Right Now

What I’m Loving
 
1.       To Go Spa Face mask in Ice Water. I haven’t tried this yet, but I can’t wait to. I love gel eye masks and this looks like it would feel similar to that. They also have smaller eye masks made for just the under eye area. I found this company on Instagram and it looks like the people who have tried it really love it. I’m all for anything that makes me feel relaxed and pampered and doesn’t take a whole lot of work! I’m sure other moms will agree! Available HERE.
2.       Hoopnotica Travel Hoop Combo Kit in Pink. I love a way to spice up my workout routine without having to get bulky new equipment. I don’t have the room for it. The fact that you can break this hoop down for travel makes it even more appealing. It even comes with a Level One Hoopnotica Hoopdance DVD, so it’s perfect for beginners. Get yours HERE.
3.       Brit+Co. Good Luck Clover Kit. Brit+Co. has the coolest DIY boxes ever, and this lucky clover kit is no exception. St. Patrick’s day is next week so I ordered this for us to plant together to celebrate. It’s an easy, inexpensive, fun, and educational activity to do with your littles. What more can a mom ask for?! I’m so excited to do this. Reagan has a green thumb so she’s been ready for winter to end so we can get back in the garden! Shop for lucky clovers HERE.
4.       Rent the Runway: Ella Dress by ML Monique Lhuillier. This dress is gorgeous and equally appropriate for church on Sunday morning or a night out on the town. Sometimes it’s nice to get dressed up and make yourself feel special, and I love that I can do that with Rent the Runway without the price of an expensive dress or worrying about something that’s going to get worn once and sit in my closet. It’s especially perfect for times when you want to play dress up for a special occasion without the commitment. Shop HERE.
5.       Birthday Express: Frozen Snow Globes. These snow globes are so cute and it looks like there are designs both boys and girls will love. I ordered these for Reagan’s birthday party as favors for all the kids. Reagan and I have a holiday tradition of getting a special new snow globe every year, so it holds mean for us too, and I can’t wait to show her! Get yours HERE and use code AFCBDXP15 for 15% off your purchase of $50+ until March 31, 2015. 
6.       Sizzix Texture Boutique Embossing Machine Beginner’s Kit. This machine is a small and inexpensive way to add a creative touch to cards, scrapbook pages, invitations, and many other paper products. I’ve been looking into crafting machines and this seems like one of the most affordable choices, but I like that there is a starter kit that comes with everything you need initially. I’ve been making greeting cards for the Mama Made a Blog etsy shop (opening soon!!) so this would be the perfect addition for my craft room. Find one HERE.
7.       Julep Polish in Lucky. This polish is such a gorgeous color and absolutely perfect for any day of the year, but especially St. Patrick’s Day! Plus, if you join Maven HERE, you can use code AQUA to receive the March Birthstone Welcome Box for free, just pay $2.99 shipping! Offer ends March 31, 2015. 
8.       Zazzle: Beautiful Pink Roses Modern Elegance Post-It Notes. I’m really into being organized right now (shouldn’t we always be, in a way? I’ve been struggling lately with that. I digress ;)) and list making is a HUGE part of how I stay organized and manage my home, business, school, and sanity. Having pretty paper to do it on makes it that much more enjoyable! Personalize yours HERE.
9.       Warby Parker Glasses: Carnaby in Blue Coral. I am so majorly in need of new glasses, and I’ve been searching for something trendy without being too over the top. I think these glasses might be it. I’ve never gotten glasses from Warby Parker before, but you can have up to 5 pairs at a time sent to your home for free to try on and send back. If you like a pair, you can order them, or you can have more sent if necessary. My cousin just got herself a pair after trying 3 different shipments of glasses and now she’s in love with them! It makes sense to me, being able to try them on in your own home instead of rushing to make a decision and then feeling like they look different later. Find this and the rest of their collection HERE.
10.   DEI Green Zigzag Insulated Picnic Basket on Zulily. We have had our first couple warm days here and have even been for a couple walks. I can feel spring right around the corner. For us, that means lots of picnics in the backyard and everywhere else. I love the bright color of this picnic basket and it’s on Zulily for the next couple days for a great price, so that’s a win on many levels in my book! Get one HERE.
These are a few of the things that have been inspiring me lately. What’s been inspiring you?
**This post contains affiliate links and I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase through them, but the work on my blog and this post and all of the opinions included are completely my own.
xoxo,
Katie


Sunday, March 15, 2015

My Daughter Learned Prayer

There are times when your child learns something when they are small that you are just overwhelmed with pride. Learning to walk and talk, for instance.
 
Then they get older and start to wrap their little minds around ideas, and its really a whole new kind of amazement to watch those connections form as their parent. Reagan and I have been praying, and in the beginning she repeated a lot of what I said and needed prompts from me on what to pray on, which is completely fine and still wonderful. Last night it dawned on me that she has learned how to pray for herself.
 
I am just so amazed by her sweet heart as she lays it all out there for God. I'm in awe of the incredible blessing before me when I get to listen to her talk to Him about the things she cares about most. She always starts off with he things she wants to thank God for, then any special requests big or small, and then she ends asking for Him to watch over us and our family and keep us all safe.
 
It makes me so happy to see her have so much to think to be thankful for. At three years of age she has figured out that she can go to God about anything, and to talk to him like a friend. I hope that stays with her forever.
 
Her prayer went something like this: "Dear God, Thank you for this wonderful day and for my mommy. She fills me with love and kisses me when I cry. I love her so much. Let her feel the wind in her hair and be filled with love every day. Please help me to be good and listen to my mommy, God. And please keep my family safe. I love you God. Amen."
 
My heart just melts listening to her! I love the colorful language that comes with this age. What a sweet little blessing!
 
What kinds of this do your kids pray about? Do you pray with them? Comment below!
 
xoxo,
 
Katie

Friday, March 13, 2015

Sweet Mommy Victories

Sometimes motherhood is really hard. You keep working at it and wondering when it will pay off. Like when you're three year old is going through a tantrum phase or refusing veggies and you keep using persistence and feeling like it's getting you no where. Sound familiar? :)
 
And then one day, you realize you've had a break through. Or that you really are doing a great job and you totally rock at motherhood! CELEBRATE IT, MAMA! Shout it from the roof tops!
 
I love to see moms who really love motherhood and own it when they're doing a great job.
 
Reagan has been going through a dinner boycott for some unknown reason. She is usually really good about at least trying most things, but it's become an increasingly intense battle at the dinner table and has ended in tears for both of us on multiple occasions. The fact that we live with so many family members makes it even harder. There's always someone around who think's I'm being too tough or too lenient, so it just makes a huge struggle for everyone. Besides the fact that I worry that Reagan isn't getting a healthy, well-rounded diet.
 
So last week I told Reagan she could get up from the table if she had one single bite of her vegetable. I don't believe in forcing her to finish a whole plate if she isn't hungry, but one bite is not going to hurt her and is an accomplishment as far as getting a taste for veggies. She sat there for a while and complained, so I set a timer for 5 minutes and told her that if she didn't take that one bite before the timer went off, she was going straight to bed. She watched the timer and got more antsy until I told her she only had two minutes left, and she actually ate her one bite of veggies! The fact that she did it without a huge drawn out battle and a whole night of sitting at the table was pretty big to me, so I told her I was proud of her and let her get up. Later, she came back on her own and ate her entire dinner when she decided she was hungry! Since then, she has eaten a whole salad, among other new things. I am so proud of how far we have both come and dinner is no longer a struggle! That's a pretty big parenting victory for me!
 
Have you had any mommy victories lately? Share them!
 
xoxo,
 
Katie

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Ebooks vs. Real Books


Ebooks vs. Real Books

What’s the difference? More importantly, does it matter?

I believe so. Screen time, even spent reading books, has drawbacks. I know from experience that my daughter tends to be very interested in pressing buttons and turning pages, and it takes away from the quality of our reading time and her understanding of the story. Many ebooks also include games and interactive material within the story. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but again it takes away from reading time and turns it into an entirely different experience.

What about the types of books parents read? We all want to set a good example for our children. A wonderful way to get them excited about reading books is to read them ourselves. If our little ones see us reading for enjoyment, they’ll want to do the same. So what if you’re reading ebooks? Well, all your children are seeing is screen time. You know you’re reading and not surfing the web, but they don’t. And even if they do, they’re not making that connection deep down. They still see Mommy glued to her iPad, just like they see when you’re shopping online, using Facebook, and anything else you do on your tablet or phone.

If you want to set the example of reading for enjoyment for your kids, you need to pick up a real book. There’s really no other way around it, y’all. Don’t get me wrong, I love my iPad just as much as the next person, and Reagan and I both have an extensive selection of ebooks, but I really keep those for times when we’re on the go, or to read in bed so I don’t have to worry about a book light. Our children are so impressionable at young ages and the messages we send them without saying a word are the ones that really stick.

With all that being said, there are ways to get better quality time out of ebook reading.

Read together.

When you sit down and read the books together rather than let the voice in the app do it for you, you’re engaging in the story with your child and emphasizing the exciting parts of the story and creating a much better learning experience than if they sit down with the tablet by themselves.

Ask questions.

Involve your child in the story by asking questions and talking it out. When you make them think about what you’re reading, you know the story is coming alive for them and not going in one ear and out the other! This is also great bonding time and teaches you SO MUCH about how your child thinks!

Stick to the story.

Yes, the games and noises are fun, but they take your mind off the story. When you’re reading, focus on just that. Those buttons and games aren’t going anywhere and you can come back to them after you’ve learned what the story is all about. And when you do, you can still play along with your child and ask more questions to stay involved.

How do you engage your children in learning experiences using technology? Are you a huge ebook fan or do you prefer traditional books? Comment so we can discuss it!

xoxo,

Katie

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Thursday, March 5, 2015

What Every Child Wants Most


 
I am in no way a parenting expert.

With a child who is only three, I am still a new mom by some standards. We’re just touching on the preschool age. But I can tell you the most important thing you need to know about your child. About any child.

I know what children want.

I’m not talking about toys or games or trips or anything material. What I’m talking about is the number one thing that all children of any age and any gender and every single nationality want from their parents more than any of those material possessions.

What children want more than anything is your adoration.

They want to hear that what they are doing is enough and good and wonderful. They want to know that they matter to you. This includes their ideas, opinions, hobbies, and all the little things that make them who they are. They want to know that you love them and you are proud of them. They want to be encouraged by you.

Our children look to us for validation.

There are lots of reasons to feel like you have screwed up as a parent, but if you do this one thing, you are really doing okay! If you are taking the time and making the effort to show your children how much they mean to you emotionally, you are doing them a world of good, and you are a great parent.
 
 

I have always really believed in this, but there are a few times that it has just really hit me through things my daughter has said just how true it is that this is the number one thing our kids look to us for. Just today she was peeling a clementine by herself, and she showed me. I thought she saw something on it, so I asked her about what she was showing me and she said “I did it all by myself Mommy. Am I doing a good job? Did I do it right?” I know it doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re three and you do something new by yourself with no help from your grown ups, it’s a pretty big deal! These are the times our little ones need our praise! They need that validation when they do the things that are important to THEM, not just the things we see as the big stuff.

The time I remember most though, we were brushing teeth and Reagan had recently started brushing her own. Of course when she’s done I still go over them and I always tell her what a good job she’s done. Except one night I was preoccupied and I just brushed away. But she was quick to shop me and say “Mommy, please tell me that I did a good job.”

My heart broke a little that she might have thought that I forgot or didn’t think the job she did was worthy of my praise, but I am so grateful that she feels like she can tell me the things she needs to hear and everything she’s thinking.

But I know not all kids will tell you what they need from you, what they need to hear. I also know that it is easy to forget to think on their level and really stop and listen to what is important to our kids.

There was another time I stopped Reagan when she was talking. I was just positive I knew what she was going to say, and I felt like she wasn’t listening. Oh the tears! She cried like her heart had just broken in two. Mommy always listens and cares, and she counted on that, but in that moment I didn’t. In those moments it is blatantly obvious what our children want from us.

I’m not saying any of this to put down your parenting or my parenting. I feel like these are moment’s I’ve gotten some really clear insight into the wants and needs of children, and that should be shared. Think of it as a gentle reminder ;) I know I need those sometimes!

Now that I’ve shared some learning experiences, here are some of my very favorite ways to show my daughter that I adore her:

1.       Talk to her. Tell her things that she won’t understand yet. Talk about everything and anything. When Reagan was just a tiny baby I would talk to her about the fields and read her the paper. I narrated everything I did. Not because she could understand it, but because one day she would. Talking to our kids makes them feel important and worthy of being talked to.

2.       Listen to her. No, it doesn’t always make sense. It is usually quite quotable and funny though! And it is always important. As the saying goes “If you don’t listen to the little stuff now, don’t expect them to tell you the big stuff later, because to them it was always big stuff.” That is so true. Giving a child your time to listen to their ideas is so huge.

3.       Praise her. No, turning our house into an ice rink does not sound doable to me for a number of reasons, but when a three year old comes to you with a full explanation of just how we can make this happen, you nod along. The fact that they have started planning things and thinking things through, even if it’s not realistic yet, is important. Fostering independent thought and opinions and creative thinking is important. And all it takes is a simple “That’s a really good idea! I’m proud of you!”

4.       Turn off the electronics. That means the phone, the iPad, and the computer. Anything that you spend a lot of time looking at. Put down your books, too. Do something with your child or watch them and give them your full and totally undivided attention. I am so guilty of not doing this enough! I have online classes and computer-based businesses and emails to respond to and friends to text back, and I let my electronics have way too much of my attention. It is really important to take the time to unplug and show your child that they do not have to compete for your attention and they are more important than those texts and emails.

5.       Tell her! Really go all out on this one! We have fun seeing who can love the other one farther. My daughter literally says “I love you to the moon and the stars and the galaxy and the Palace Pet Salon and all the way back again!” And apparently that is like the farthest EVER and I can’t top it, but I know I can cause mama love is the biggest ;) Even if you don’t say it quite like that, always tell your little one how much you love them, how wonderful they are, how smart they are, and how much they mean to you. Use all the happy adjectives you can think of! Nothing beats telling them how great you think they are, because if you believe it, they believe it.

6.       Ask her. This kind of goes along with active listening. Ask and you shall receive. Little people have BIG opinions on just about everything! They are usually funny and will almost always surprise you. If you ask for your child’s opinion on things, you are showing them that their thoughts and opinions matter. They mean something to you, and again, that means that they will in turn think that their thoughts mean something.

I have talked before about being intentional in parenting, and this is a big place to put intention to use. Be intentional about giving love and praise and affection to your children. Show them they are worthy of your love. Tell them just how much they rock! If you believe it, they will.

And that is what every child wants more than anything.

xoxo,

Katie

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Online Christian Resources



I live in a very rural area and while there are lots of churches around here, there don't seem to be many that are uplifting and have lots of young families and children for Reagan to grow in faith with. This is something extremely important to me, and I do want to keep looking for a physical church, but I have recently come across some wonderful online resources available no matter where you live! Even though you may not see these people in the physical sense, emotional community with like minded believers who will lift you up and love on you and pray with you is incredible and inspiring, and in my opinion very important for spiritual and emotional well being.
 
 
 
 
Pastor Andy Stanley lead a wonderful worship service this morning that was the final installment in the Brand: New series. I'll be completely honest, this was my first time doing church online, and I chose North Point by recommendation from a good friend. I was so impressed with the message this morning! It was all about leading your life in such a way that you love others the way Jesus loved us. All about love! Now that was the uplifting message I needed to hear. I highly suggest watching this series, which is all available on their website, linked above! They have live service broadcasted every Sunday at 8:00 and 11:00 am, but they do replay throughout the day and have links to watch at your own time as well.
 
 
 
The Influence Network is something I have heard of and followed on social media for a while, but I finally decided to join this week. It is a member community for women who want to interact with like-minded, faith-based ladies from all over. There are special features for bloggers and entrepreneurs, but even if you aren't either of those things, they have plenty of resources and fellowship for you too! Membership costs $10 per month, but the price of one of their classes is also $10, and membership includes one free class per month, so it really pays for itself! Members have access to the forums, small groups, case studies, book club, monthly download packs, and much more. Whether you want to lead, be led, participate from afar, or meet up in person, they most definitely have something uplifting waiting for you! I am so excited to have joined and I cannot wait to take my first class tomorrow and share some of the things I learn from them on the blog!
 
 
Thrive Moms is something I haven't really gotten involved with yet, but I am definitely following along an praying on it. They have Facebook groups for moms experiencing similar things in life, like single moms, military moms, working moms, etc. There are lots to choose from, and you can let them know if there is another group you would like to see added. They also have local groups you can join or start in your own community. There is no local group in my area, but I really love that they have online retreats in the Spring and Fall and the other online groups, so I'm thinking about joining. They seem so sweet and genuine and it looks like another great community to be a part of.
 
 
 
I have been getting the subscription box from this company for a few months now, and in three days their last subscription box will go on sale! March is their last month! But don't worry, they have more things in the works for all us mamas, and the boxes are only being phased out to make time for all the other great things they have planned. They have other products in their shop already (I'm in love with my Happy Mommy mug!) and you can also check out both Natalie's blog (The Busy Budgeting Mama) and Mandy's blog (The House of Rose) for more inspiration and encouragement.
 
So that's my little list of online places to find community and faith-based encouragement when you need it. And I sincerely hope that my blog makes it on to your own personal list! Have a happy Sunday!!
 
xoxo,
 
Katie
 
*the pictures are from their respective websites and are not affiliated with my blog or owned by me in any way :)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Choose to be a Happy Parent


First of all, wow I am loving this new look! So much more professional and pretty! Huge thank you to the team at Envye for setting it up for me!!

Now, on to something that’s been weighing on my heart a bit.

I was shopping a couple days ago, looking at journals, and I came across one about parenting. Of course I was interested. I love journaling for recording memories, venting, and being able to look back and see how far I’ve come. It’s something I highly recommend, especially as a parent. This was sort of a prompted journal, and I definitely love those as well. So I opened it.

On every page was a prompt to write about what I had done wrong as a parent that day.

I get it, it’s a joke, a space to vent. Those things are totally necessary. Especially when your two year old wants the fruit with the yogurt just the way you always fix it, except plot twist! This time she doesn’t want it mixed. And you just started your day by using the last of the yogurt incorrectly. It doesn’t matter that you don’t read minds. To your two year old, you should have known.

Being a parent is hard some days. Even a lot of days. It is hard and sometimes talking about it or writing about it makes it easier. But are those the things you really want to spend your time writing down and reflecting and remembering?

Being a parent is definitely not always a walk in the park, but that same tiny human who throws enormous temper tantrums is also capable of SO MUCH LOVE. And kindness. And wonder. And amazement.

Those are the moments to reflect on. Those are the ones worth writing down. Yes there are hard stages and phases, but I promise they pass. And when they do, you fall even deeper in love with the tiny human who finds the world to be an incredible place, and gives love so readily and willingly, and hasn’t been hardened yet by all the demands of society.

If that journal works for you, go for it. You know yourself best. But I challenge everyone to try keeping a journal of quotable moments, and happy memories, and the things that make you so grateful to be a parent. Invest just as much time investing in that, and see if your outlook on parenting, and maybe even life in general changes.

I know that journal is not meant to hurt anyone. But it really does deeply sadden me when I see so many parents talking about all the things their child does to drive them crazy and constantly thinking about the next break they’ll get. Those are completely valid things, but it is so sad to think that another parent has the opportunity to go on this journey that I am so in love with and they don’t cherish it in the moment.



Hug your babies tight and think about why you love them and why they are so special to you. Cherish your time as a parent of little ones, and at every stage. You certainly don’t get it back, so why not choose to be happy and parent with a grateful heart?

xoxo,

Katie

Friday, February 20, 2015

Announcements!!


Big News Y’all!!



I am so excited to announce that there are some big changes coming to Mama Made a Blog!

For starters, it can now be found on its own website, at mamamadeablog.com! My contact info and sponsor email has changed a little bit too, so if you ever want to reach out, you can check the Contact and Sponsor pages or leave a comment of course!

Some time with in the next few days the blog will be getting a much needed makeover as well, so it might be down for just a little bit, but it’s really for a good cause!

I have so much on the way that I can’t wait to share with y’all! Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out on any of the fun!

xoxo,

Katie

Thursday, February 19, 2015

28 Day Jumpstart Check-in: Week One



Hi y’all!

If you read my latest post, you know that I started the Fit Girls’ Guide 28 Day Jumpstart on February 9th. I have been so impressed with this program and the incredibly valuable information in the book! The way it’s written makes you feel like you’re talking to your BFF, which I love (and who better to guide you into your new healthy girl journey than your BFF?!), and they really break things down and give amazing advice.

With that being said, I totally bombed the first week (and a couple days!). I even gained a couple of pounds! (Major bummer, but also major wake up call.) But it’s not because the plan doesn’t work – it totally does! If you stick to it, that is. I just didn’t follow through. I don’t want y’all to make the same mistakes I did, and if by chance you do I want you to know you’re not alone at all! So, I’m going to break down some of my top mistakes right here.

I didn’t do the exercises.

I have been in such a rut lately of not getting up from my desk while I’m working, and it was a lot easier to sit here and hope I was eating healthy enough to make a difference. Huge mistake!! The exercises are there for a reason! Your body is not going to tone itself while you sit there continuing in your couch potato ways. You have to work for it. Eating better is a wonderful first step, but you really have to get up and move your booty to get a nice one. Especially if you are working from home, doing school from home, studying all the time, and just generally not getting any form of daily activity. (Not naming any names, self.)

I didn’t set a sleep schedule.

One of the things they give advice on in the book is how important it is to get enough sleep and have regular sleeping and waking hours. That’s right, a bedtime. Your kids have one, and so should you. They also give lots of advice on how to get a better night’s sleep and how to get to sleep if you have issues with those things. I do, but I didn’t listen! (Have I ever told y’all I like to learn things the hard way?) So, my sleep suffered, and so did every other aspect of my day and my energy level! I know it is so hard to unwind and end your day sometimes, but this is a very important step in total wellness, and your body will thank you for it!

I didn’t stick to the shopping list.

The food that I bought (on the first shopping trip) was very healthy, but I got way too many veggies! This might not really sound like a problem, but when you look at all that food it gets so overwhelming deciding what to use now and what to use later. And what is past it’s prime. When you over buy, your fruits and veggies go bad because you can’t use them all. Get what you need and try to get different colors of fruits and veggies, and you’ve got it covered. You don’t have to buy some of everything in the store to have a well rounded diet! Also, they literally break this part down for you each week, so stick to the list and you can’t go wrong!

I didn’t prep my meals.

This. If you don’t change another thing after reading this post, do this! MEAL PREP. Meal prep, meal prep, meal prep. I can’t say it enough. This is the biggest mistake I made. There is actually a meal prep schedule in the book for each week. Follow it!!! Why do we tend to pick unhealthy foods over the healthy ones? Because they’re easy! When you’re super hungry and you have to decide between that microwaveable meal or throwing together something that’s actually good for you, you’re probably going to pick the microwaveable one. But if everything is basically ready for you and the healthy meal doesn’t take much extra effort, it makes it so much more appealing. I would personally much rather prep my meals for the same reason I wax my eyebrows instead of plucking them. Waxing hurts, but much less than taking the time to pull out each individual hair and draw out the pain into a lengthy experience. Meal prep is so tedious and I hate it, but if you do it all at once, it doesn’t take nearly as long, and then it’s ready and waiting for you when you need it.

I hope all this advice helps you, whether you’ve hit a wall and need some encouragement and changes or if you’re just getting started and wanted to see what to avoid. Stick to it and make it a priority to be healthy and fit, and you will definitely see the benefits of your hard work. Good luck!

Xoxo,

Katie |

PS. If you like this post, make sure you share it!!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Have you heard of Fit Girl's Guide?

I have been making small conscious efforts to make healthier choices lately, but so far nothing has really amounted to much of anything. I am ashamed to even say this, but this is the heaviest I've ever been in my life. Including when I was pregnant! I always swore to myself I would never let that happen, but here I am. And it's not a fun place to be.
 
I want to go and do thing and have fun, but I'm tired a lot. I want to take pictures for the blog, but I don't like how I look, so I don't capture these special moments, and sometimes I don't even have the special moments I want to because I'm not letting myself enjoy life.
 
Does this sound like you? Are you holding back on life because of a lack of self confidence?
 
You're not alone if that is the case.
 
I've been taking online classes since August 2014 now, and sitting around all day studying or taking tests or writing papers, plus working from home and blogging, I'm living such a sedentary lifestyle! Talk about unhealthy!!
 
In an effort to encourage and inspire change for myself, I followed some fitness related pages on Instagram. That is how I found Fit Girls' Guide. 

 
They have two books, and I decided to purchase the first one, 28 Day Jumpstart. So far I have learned so much! I'm in nursing school and I have taken a lot of health care and nutrition classes, so I didn't think that I was really going to learn anything new, but I was very wrong!
 
They have frequent group challenges on Instagram, so I decided to take the plunge and join in, and it just started today. Last night I went grocery shopping and bought all clean foods. Reagan was very excited and helped me with everything! She's joining in too!
 
Even though she already eats very healthy, I felt like it was a good idea to get her involved so she can see that being healthy and active is important to me and important for everyone. She's thrilled, but she did ask me if we can have a dessert challenge when it's over haha!
 
Oh honey, I wish! ;)
 
So like I said this is the first day, and so far so good! I feel great and the food is so healthy but so delicious. They break everything into 4 weeks and provide grocery lists and suggested meal prep timelines for each week. They break everything down and explain how to cook to make it as healthy and yummy as possible, and provide substitution suggestions in case you just can't have an ingredient or meal. I actually roasted squash today and loved it! I hate squash!
 
I know, I'm probably the only adult left who hates their veggies lol! But really, if you do everything they suggest in the book, you will love it!
 
You even get to tap into your creative side with the goal hearts and lunch box notes.

 
I can't wait to share some of my new healthy eating habits, recipes and progress with y'all!
 
So, have you heard of Fit Girls' Guide? Did you try it and love it? Let me know your thoughts!
 
xoxo,
 
Katie

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

If Only...

Last night I was laying in bed thinking. My mind would just not settle down and turn off. All my thoughts were "if only I had that DSLR camera so I could take better pictures" and "if only I had my own home so I could stage everything the way I wanted and take uncluttered pictures and give Reagan a perfect childhood" and "if only I was done with school so I could focus on my career and Reagan and hobbies I never have time for" and "if only I had the money to buy all the clothes and accessories and things I need to be stylish and had a body those things would look good on."
 
I knew better, but my mind still went there. We're all guilty of it at least from time to time. I'll be the first to admit it. I'm a single mom and I'm still in nursing school. There are a lot of things I have to put off until the future.
 
Should happiness be one of them?
 
 
 
I don't have it all together. I don't have everything I could ever want. But I do have everything I need and then some. And chances are, y'all do too!
 
The point is, be happy now. Right this minute. Because even if tomorrow doesn't come, and I don't get that DSLR camera or 43984398 loyal followers or a clean house, I do have this moment and I am going to choose to seize it and be happy in it and stop thinking about "IF".
 
Have a great day y'all, and choose to be happy in it!
 
xoxo,
 
Katie 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Single Parenting vs. Singular Parenting

What does it mean to be a single parent? In my opinion, it speaks more about relationship status than parenting status. It means you're not married, or maybe that you're not in a relationship with a significant other at all.

But what if you're the ONLY parent? There really is a big difference. When you're the singular parent, you're all your child has.

Being single has its challenges, and yes the times when the child is in your care, it all falls on you. Maybe that's even most of the time.

Here is the primary difference for me...

Yesterday my daughter asked me if she has a daddy.

Oh my heart. How do I even begin to answer that? I know the questions will come. I've prayed and prayed and tried to prepare, but it's still heartbreaking and shocking when you're playing mermaids and your little one just come up with this question out of left field.

I suppose it's not really out of no where though. Ariel has a father. So where is hers, she's wondering?

That's a very good question. How someone look at their sweet innocent wonderful child and walk away? I can't even begin to understand. The very being that I thank the Lord for every single day and night, that I pray over and worry over and care for and love beyond belief, that brings me more joy and love than I ever knew was possible... someone with that same parental bond that I have had that opportunity and threw it away.

And so as soon as the question is posed, something else catches her attention and we're back in our world of mermaids swimming through the sea, yearning to visit the surface, not wondering at all about a whole other half of a family that isn't there and never has been.

If I could just protect this amazing little girl, keep her safe from how cruel some people are. If only.

She has such a heart for her family and for everyone around her. For God. For loving everyone and everything and life itself. I taught her that. Even after seeing how terrible people can be, I shared that message with her, and I hope with all my heart and soul that one day when she asks these questions and really needs answers, it won't harden her heart to the world.

If you are a singular parent, I pray for you and your children. I hope that through all the struggles, you still have as much joy as we do in this parenting adventure, and I hope you know you are not alone. There are some of us going through this too.

xoxo,

Katie

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

I'm Back!!


Hi again y'all!!

After the hecticness (but wonderfulness) that was Thanksgiving, I decided to finish out the semester as much as possible and take a much needed hiatus from EVERYTHING. I can't even stress how much this was needed. In the past few months my anxiety levels have been at an all time high, largely due to nursing school.

Anyway, I was able to have a lovely Christmas and stay as stress-free as one can be that time of year, and I hope y'all had a marvelous Christmas as well!

Now what? I know some people are against New Years resolutions because we should work on improving ourselves every day, but I'm not one of those people. I do fully believe that, but why not use the New Year as an initiative to do better as well? I love the start of a new year the same way I love opening a new planner, it's a chance to start off on the right foot again and keep on top of our goals for ourselves! That's a good thing!

One thing I've come to realize is this, just like we are able to receive a fresh start through Jesus, the start of the new year is a great time to allow ourselves a fresh start. Because you are forgiven by Him, you can forgive yourself and stop letting your past hold you back.

I don't know about y'all, but that's a big deal for me! The majority of the time, no one is harder on myself than I am. So this year? One of my biggest resolutions is to stop selling myself short and holding myself back. I do a lot of that and I know it. Here I am admitting I have a problem in that aspect of my life. That's the first step to overcoming something, right?

I'm also going to go on more outdoor adventures, read more, study harder and smarter, and lead a healthier lifestyle. 

So what about y'all?? It's not too late to put your heart into a resolution! Have you evaluated your relationship with God lately? If you can think of nothing else, including Him in more aspects of your life and strengthening your relationship with Him is an excellent place to start!

xoxo,

Katie