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        Social media (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, ect..) has taken the world by storm over the last decade. Our newsfeeds are filled with cute cat photos, celebrity breakups, political debates, and sarcastic E-cards. Your public profile gives the world a glimpse into your life. Through out the day or week, you share details and pictures with your friends. You read news articles, “like” blog posts, and poke people for fun. Yet, the constant need to portray a seemingly perfect life or capture the perfect photo to post can leave you feeling drainedIf you become overwhelmed by what you read on a daily basis, let the Lord pour his love out on you! Let Christ fill your heart so you can turn around and use social media for His glory.

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     The world likes you to believe that social media is a complete waste of time. But that is completely false. By choosing to share encouragement,  you not only have the ability to change someones perspective on life but also the opportunity to be a witness of God to others. Even the pictures you share can bring a small amount of sunshine to a persons day! Share uplifting articles with meaningful messages. Build others up by sharing kindness and posts with a purpose. You never know who may need that in their life at the moment. Make a point to fill your feed with speakers that share positivity and light. That way you can share good things with others. And remember to always take a break from social media to let your mind and heart refocus so you are more inspired to share the word of God with others. Lets choose to make a difference in the world by starting where we’re at.image

         
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      Technology is addictive. If you’re like me, you are guilty of checking your social media accounts multiple times a day. It’s a hard habit to break. You feel the strong need to check your personal feed while you are drinking your morning coffee, waiting in line, working out at the gym, eating lunch with your friends, or lying in bed. Your phone has become an extension of you. You use it to capture moments you want to remember, as an alarm clock, and to check the weather. Our phones have a sick power over us. We become mesmerized by having this source of connection at just the swipe of a finger. But what if we were compelled to put our phones down? 

       Take a look around you in a restaurant and count the number of people on their personal devices. The number will quickly astound you. The idea of being able to connect to the Internet has become so popular that many businesses offer free wi-fi and ports that charge your gadgets right there next to you. What happened to sitting down to a meal and holding casual conversation with the person seated across from you? 

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     What if we decided to be a part of the experience and take it all in, instead of trying to capture the perfect shot to share on our wall? To enjoy that much needed vacation instead of taking pictures of our feet strategically placed in the sand? To savor our food intensely instead of posting a picture of our expensive meal? To be more engaged in conversation instead of only giving half of our attention? 

     Just like our phones, sometimes we need to let our battery recharge. We need to unplug and let our minds rest from the amount of information we take in on a daily basis. We need to be reminded that outside of our screens there are moments waiting to be lived. It’s time to invest in what’s real! Let’s stop allowing our phones to dictate our relationships, drain our energy, and control our lives. Make a conscious effort to be fully present wherever you are! You will quickly feel a sense of freedom you have long forgotten.

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**November is Preemie Awareness Month! In honor of premature babies and their mothers, here is a letter I would like to share for NICU moms that are currently facing the battle.**

     Dear NICU Mom, 

          Welcome to the club you never planned on having membership too! That’s right..no one ever expects to become a part of this exclusive society. Each baby has a different story to tell on how they gained V.I.P access to the undivided attention they receive behind the locked doors of this club. 

       You may have been like me and had a extremely healthy pregnancy. You took special care of yourself and the life growing inside you. You did everything just like your doctor recommended. You even carried your baby to full term. But then something suddenly goes wrong and your little one is whisked away before you get a chance to welcome them into the world. 

       Ever since you found out you were expecting, you pictured holding your baby and looking into their eyes. You imagined how you would feel when that precious life was placed in your arms. But then without warning, those first moments you anticipated for so long are stolen. The thought never crossed your mind that you wouldn’t be bringing your baby home as soon as you would like. Instead of being close to your newborn and feeling their tiny fingers interlock yours, you spend the first days, weeks, or months of their existence peering at them inside a clear box. You spend hours watching their heart rate on the moniter. Countless calls to the nurses, hundreds of hand washes, numerous tears, and incalculable prayers are the only thing you’ve come to know. So many questions yet the one that weighs on you the most is, “Why?” What could I have done differently? Is there something that I did to cause this? The guilt you can carry can be overwhelming. But you are not alone!

     You have a whole network of mothers who are behind you and have been in your shoes. They know the uncertainty you are facing and how what was supposed to be one of the most beautiful experiences of your life has been stained with tears and worry. You have been forced to find strength that you never knew you were capable of possessing. Some of us have been there before and some of us are still there.  We share a bond that many won’t understand because it is a journey they have not personally taken.  The days are long and it may seem as if this trial will never end. But you and your baby will conquer this. It may not be today, tommorow, or even next week. But from a mother who has been right where you are, hold on! When things look dark, look up! God hears our prayers and He still performs miracles today. And they often come in the form of tiny babies who are born early yet right on time! 

Love, 

A Fellow NICU Mother

Your Identity In Christ

    Tomorrow, the streets will be taken over by witches, goblins, and other masked creatures of the night. Halloween is a fun tradition where your imagination has the ability to run wild and all of your favorite characters come to life. I am a big enthusiast of this particular holiday and enjoy the excitement of finding the perfect costume to surprise my family with at our annual Halloween party. This year will be especially fun since this will be my sons first trick-or-treat experience! 

    A quick stroll down the costume aisle will quickly leave you feeling overwhelmed by all of the werewolves, superheroes, and political figures that seem to jump right out at you. Each year on October 31, you are given one night to take on a whole new persona. You can transform into whomever it is you wish. But just as the clock strikes midnight for Cinderella, on November 1st you are turned back into your same self once again.

   Similar to wearing a mask on Halloween, there can be times in our lives when we feel we no longer recognize the person we see before us in the mirror. But I have great news! Look past your tired and weary eyes…past your worry and wrinkles…your identity in Christ has been found! Psalm 139:14 tells us, “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.” Isn’t it awesome knowing that Jesus knows all of your skeletons and He still calls you a child of God? He is there to rescue you from life’s monsters! He wants to bring you out of the darkness and into the light.

    Halloween is a day for fun, memories, and lots and lots of candy!! But it is also an opportunity to shed your mask. To dust your soul of the cobwebs and allow yourself to be freed from the chains that bind you. The devil is full of tricks but Jesus is the ultimate treat!

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     My little one decided that four a.m. was the most reasonable hour to wake his parents this morning. After much coercion and rocking back and forth on my end, the stinker finally gave in to a few more hours of sweet slumber. As a new mom, one of my favorite moments are the quiet ones. The moments I can lie and stare at my sleeping baby and watch his chest rise and fall. The moments I catch a sweet smile on his lips while he is dreaming of something happy. My grandmother once said that when a baby smiles in their sleep that means they are playing with angels! Well, if you’ve ever caught a baby giving you a sleepy grin then you know this must be the only explanation.

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      For me, one of the best moments of the day are in the mornings. While the rest of the world sleeps, I lie awake and watch the sun slowly creep into my home and cast an orangish glow onto the walls. I hear the birds in the large cedar tree outside my window singing the loveliest melody because they are happy and thankful. They sing praises to the One who created it all. 

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    Before I ever set foot out of bed, I am overwhelmed by the blessings in my life. I get to wake up and do this everyday! I get to  experience another twenty-four hours full of Gods love and mercy. Another day to be called Mommy! There will be a day in the future that I won’t be able to lie here and watch my baby sleeping peacefully. He will be in his own bed and I will be missing him in mine. But, for now, I will just stay here and be still and be thankful for these quiet moments. The moments I can just take it all in and appreciate this gift of motherhood.


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    What have you placed in your children’s bucket today? Positive words and kindness such as “Great job!” or “You’re so loved!” make our children’s bucket overflow with happiness and the result is a high self esteem. Are you guilty of yelling or being to harsh? The negative effects of cruel words on a child’s confidence is similar to poking holes in their bucket. It drains them and sometimes the holes can be hard to patch making them bitter into adulthood. Is your child’s bucket empty or full? Your words are extremely powerful. Use them to make a positive impact today. 

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 Use these to help build up a happy and optimistic child!

  • I believe in you! 
  • You can be who you want to be!
  • Way to go! I’m proud of you!
  • You’re doing a fantastic job!
  • You Rock! 
  • You are so loved!
  • You make me smile!
  • You are so special to me!
  • You are a daughter/son of Christ!
  • You are beautiful inside and out!
  • You are a leader!
  • I love spending time with you!
  • You are so important!

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     When I got pregnant with my son, I literally became nauseated at the thought of having to wear maternity clothes. I had never seen an appealing pair of denim jeans for pregnant women. In fact, the more I shopped, the more I came home disappointed. I realized that there isn’t a huge selection of clothes being offered for women who are carrying babies.  The things I did find were expensive and I wasn’t looking to spend a ton of money on something I wouldn’t wear but for a couple of months.

     I got lucky and my sister-in-law, whom had recently given birth to two boys, decided to gift me with her pre-owned maternity clothes. She came over and brought bags upon bags of clothes for me to wear. And if you’re like me, you never met a hand-me-down you didn’t like! One of the bags she brought was filled to the top with denim jeans which had a belly band attached to each. Although I was excited that she was kind enough to let me use these to get thru the remaining months of pregnancy, I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of saying goodbye to my skinny jeans! I had always been a smaller person and my expanding belly was totally new to me. I have to admit. Those maternity jeans may have not been the most stylish apparel I’d ever owned but they were the most comfy! 

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    Right now my son is eleven months old and it’s been over a year since those old designer jeans have seen the light of day. They are still tucked neatly in the same drawer awaiting the next time I decide to wear them. But until then I will rock my mom jeans proudly! Every time I slip them on I am reminded of the reason I wear them. My stomach was once home to a precious miracle. My hips may never be the same shape and my middle may be more round but if sacrificing tight fitting pants for the beauty that new life brings I would happily do it all over again.  Ladies, Mom jeans are back! Wear them proudly and be fearless! No one can compare to your abilities as a Mother. Thirty years from now your child won’t look back and recall if you wore expensive jeans or ripped jeans. They will remember the mom who was confident in the woman she was! 

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Create Your Own Sunshine!

image     Monday’s have always gotten a bad rap. Everyone dreads them. No one looks forward to them like they do Friday’s. It marks the end of two days dedicated to doing whatever it is you wish. But it doesn’t have to be this way! Monday’s are a privilege. They are another opportunity to wake up and experience a glorious new day. I know you’re thinking..”How can I look forward to the daily grind?” There is nothing exciting about five days of the same old routine. I used to be like a lot of you. Watching the clock while the minute hand seems broken because you are certain this day will never end.

      Several years ago, I worked as a mailroom courier at a local bank operations center. My day consisted of driving around to different bank branches and delivering mail as well as picking up other materials. I enjoyed this job very much because I got to see different people. But I knew this was not my calling. It was not what I was meant to do. It was however where I was supposed to be at that particular time.  

      While working there, a fellow co-worker of mine, an older gentlemen with big bifocals and Grandpa-like qualities, dubbed me “The Sunshine Girl”. Every afternoon for two years, this man would bust through the doors of my office and make hisself known by saying as loudly as he could, “There’s the sunshine girl!” It wasn’t until years later that I realized this mans kind demeanor went with him wherever he would go and his happy attitude was a ray of light all of its own. As I was sucked into the boring ho-hum of my work, this man brightened my day simply by spreading a little sunshine to whomever he came across.

      About a year ago, I ran across my friend in the grocery store. Time had obviously taken a toll on him and his health had deteriorated tremendously. I went up to him and his sweet wife and the first thing he said to me was, “Hello Sunshine!” He still had a big grin on that old familiar face and his words warmed my heart. For it seemed while he was spreading sunshine in my life, I was also a small ray in his. 

      Yes, Monday’s are hard and we often feel as if a dark cloud is hanging overhead. But we must choose to shine wherever we go. Each day of the week is another chance to be a light in someone’s life and Monday’s are no exception. It’s an opportunity to embrace another day as a gift and do what the Lord has put us on Earth to do. So, choose to radiate sunshine today! It’s like medicine to the soul. And who couldn’t use a little extra Vitamin D? 

Raising Our Children In Today’s Culture

        A quick scan of the news or briefly flipping through the local newspaper is enough to send a parent into hiding with their children. The world has become a dark and sinister place and can be down right frightening at times. Parents are afraid to send their children to school. People are afraid to go and do simple things such as pick up groceries or go see a movie. There is an uneasy feeling in the air. You may have even asked yourself, “What will happen next?” As a new mom, I have become increasingly more alarmed by the encounters my son may have to face as he grows in life. With the type of society we live in today, I find myself pondering the question..”How do we raise our children in today’s culture?”                     

   With crime rates and violence at an all time high, it’s easy to feel the pressure of it all weighing on your heart. Many times circumstances are beyond our control and we are left feeling hopeless. There is a spiritual battle being waged daily against motherhood and the hearts of our children. But you can rest easy, friend! The Bible has a solution for everything! We are told: 

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So powerful! This verse reminds us that  raising good and wholesome children begins in the home. By setting a vision for our sons and daughters lives, we are laying the foundation for them to create their own vision for themselves later on. Train up your children with kindness, positivity, faith, and love! The result will be a happy and confident child that meets the ways of the world with the morals you ingrained in them.