Thursday, June 30, 2011

On Having a Personal Chef for the Day

If you are looking for 4th of July Family fun ideas, be sure to check out my recent post!

I'm busy with "M & M Camp" this week (Manda & Mommy Camp) ~ but never too busy to share one of my favorite Things I Love Thursday posts! Enjoy this repeat from last summer!

As I've mentioned before, I will never be known for my fabulous cooking skills (recap here).

However, that doesn't mean I don't enjoy reading and collecting recipes or visiting cooking blogs.

In fact, my all-time favorite cooking blog is Art From My Table. I love it!

Chellie, the chef extraordinaire and blog author of Art From My Table, is passionate about cooking, intentional about serving fresh and whole foods to her family, and does an amazing job of posting creative, healthy, mouth-watering dishes.

When I saw her recipe for Black Bean and Corn Salsa, my mouth began to dance!! Yum!

Jokingly I invited myself to be her official taste tester (believe me, I know salsa!) ~ and Chellie, being the awesome friend and woman that she is, offered to come to my home and prepare it for me and my family.

In fact, she offered to prepare a whole meal. WOO HOO!!

The menu I selected: Enchilads verde, the black bean and corn salsa, and then Chellie surprised us with Blueberry Crumble for dessert.

What a blessing to have Chellie hard at work in my kitchen, while I was hard at work in my office. I loved hearing the chop, chop, chop from my desk. I think I need a personal chef every day!! :)

Before she left, Chellie taught me how to cut an avocado. Can you believe it? I'm 40 years old and never knew. But no longer! Look at what a serious avocado student I am!

To enjoy the delicious recipes and a photo recap of Chellie's cooking adventure in my kitchen, head on over to Art From My Table here.

Please be sure to introduce yourself to Chellie and let her know you came from *She Sparkles*. I know she'd be glad to meet you!!!

And for more Things I Love Thursday ideas, hop on over to my real-life neighbor Jill at The Diaper Diaries.

What things do you love today??? I'd love to hear from you!!!!

Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles* !! Have an amazing, joy-filled 4th of July!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

4th of July Family Fun

If you haven't signed up for my Carol Kent book GIVEAWAY it's not too late! Be sure to join the fun! I'm busy with "M & M Camp" this week (I'll fill you in later) ~ but never too busy to share my celebration ideas! Enjoy this repeat from last year!

Hi Friends! :)

I recently received the following note in my mailbag...

Dear Cindy,
Any suggestions for 4th of July Family Fun? I would like to do some fun things, but not sure where to start. You are my “party go to expert”....

I'm so glad you asked, dear friend! I am in 4th of July planning mode (my family would tell you I get a little excited about the 4th) ~ and would love to share my family~friendly ideas with you!

I've already pulled out our 4th of July books. This is my favorite.....

I've also stocked up on 4th of July t-shirts (it's a tradition, everyone gets a new 4th of July shirt from Target or Old Navy ~ for $4 you can't beat it!).

I purchased cheap red, white, and blue nail polish, and my girls and I will give each other festive pedicures before the big day! ( Nail ideas here)

And how will our family celebrate on the 4th of July??

Typically, I get up early and head to the bakery for festive doughnuts (we rarely have doughnuts in the morning, so this is a special treat).

Here's a fun early morning picture from a few years ago....

Next we head to a local 4th of July Parade. I love it!

We invite lots of friends and family, and have a mini "tail gate" before the parade starts. I bring a basket filled with doughnuts, juice, fruit, etc.. and lots of festive napkins.

For the kids, I stock a bag filled with color sheets, paper lunch bags to catch the candy (and markers for them to decorate the bag while we wait for the parade to start).

I also bring the nail polish again (and paint more toes while we wait), tattoos, leis, and mini flags. If you haven't guessed ~ I am a kid magnet that day (and love every minute of it!!)

In the afternoon, we fill our day with ...

Crafts ~ideas here or here or here

Coloring Sheets, Word Searches, Mazes ~

Games ~ Of course, it wouldn't be a celebration without 4th of July BINGO with red, white, and blue M & M's ~ here

We spend late afternoon celebrating with dear friends and family. Typically I need to bring side dishes along, so here are some of my favorite simple kid-friendly food ideas...

* Red and blue finger jello (star shaped, of course)

* Cupcakes for the kids (Fun Recipe
here and here)

* Flag cake (Recipe here) Always a huge hit!

And then, of course, it wouldn't be the 4th without fireworks!!

Whew!! What a day ~ I can hardly wait!!

Do you have any tradition or family fun ideas to celebrate the 4th?? Share with us please ~ I'd love to hear from you!!!

Have a wonderful, joy-filled 4th of July!! May I encourage you to "mark this moment" in some special way. Your kids will remember. You will remember. :)

Many blessings to you!!

P.S. For more Works for Me Wednesday ideas, head over to We Are That Family.

P.S.S. My celebration ideas are obviously very kid-friendly. If you're looking for more "grown up" recipe ideas, there are more great recipes here.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Tuesday's Top Ten ~ 4th of July Parade Essentials

If you haven't signed up for my Carol Kent book GIVEAWAY it's not too late! Be sure to join the fun!

It's almost the 4th of July. Woo Hoo!

One of my favorite traditions is to start the day attending a 4th of July Parade (actually we attend two!). I love it!

Here are my Top 10 "must haves" when heading to a 4th of July Parade ~

1. Blanket ~ Of course a red, white, or blue blanket works best :)

2. Color sheets and Markers ~ We like to grab a parade spot early, so I bring color sheets and markers to keep the kiddos busy while we wait for the parade to start.

You can print color sheets here.

3. Lunch bags (for parade candy) ~ I pack white paper lunch bags for the kids to catch the candy (and markers for the kids to decorate the bags while we wait for the parade to start).

Be sure to bring extra'll be surprised at how many extra kids will head your way when they see you having lots of decorating fun!

4. Nail Polish ~ I also pack a bag filled with red nail polish, white nail polish, blue nail polish, cotton balls, and nail polish remover to the parade. I love painting my girls nails/toes before the parade. What fun!

5. Donuts/Drinks ~ OK, you may think I'm crazy, but one year I searched all over town for the most festive 4th of July donuts. I found them!

Now, every 4th of July I get up early, go to my favorite bakery, and buy dozens of cute, colorful donuts. I pack a picnic basket with the donuts, flag napkins, drinks, etc.. and have a "mini tailgate" before the parade. I love it!

We rarely have donuts, so it's a very special treat for my kids. And I love having extras to share with parade friends!

6. Party supplies (leis, fun sunglasses, hats, etc.) ~ Fun! Fun! Fun!

7. Tatoos ~ Another fun idea for the kids while we wait for the parade to start.

8. Sunblock ~ Not exciting, but definitely an essential!

9. Flags ~ Be sure to have plenty of flags to pass out and wave in celebration!

10. Camera ~ You won't want to miss a moment of the fun!

How do you celebrate the 4th? Do you go to any parades? What's on your Parade Essentials list? I'd love to hear from you!

And if you live in West Michigan and don't have a parade plan yet, let me know. I'd love to have you join us!

Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*! Have a Terrific Tuesday!!

P.S. For more great Top Ten lists, hop over and visit Oh Amanda!

Top Ten {Tuesday}

P.S.S. I created a "Parade Checklist" that I print off before the parade (I don't want to forget anything in all my excitement!). If this would be a helpful resource, send me a quick email at I'd be happy to forward it to you!! Happy Parading! :)

My heart is FULL (Speak Up Recap & Carol Kent GIVEAWAY)

Hey Friends!

I'm home! I'm home!! Woo Hoo!!

You may remember, I spent much of last week at Carol Kent's Speak Up With Confidence! I've shared many times before how God has used this powerful conference to significantly teach and encourage me. :)

This year I was THRILLED to be invited to join the leadership team! What fun! And last week, I had an absolute *BLAST* meeting so many AMAZING women from 17 different states (and Australia!).

My heart is so FULL! (My mouth is actually sore from smiling so much!). It was such an amazing, anointed, God inspired week! Yippee!!!

If I had to sum up my time at Speak Up with 3 quick, personal highlights, they would include...

1. Meeting so many wonderful women and hearing their personal stories.

I met women (and men!) with such beautiful hearts for the Lord, and such a sacrificial desire to serve Him with excellence. I wish I could have enjoyed a cup of coffee with every single one of them!!!

* Pic above: Donna Fagerstrom, Me, Amelia Rhodes (Amelia & I actually attend the same church. How cool is that!)

* Pic above: Me and Cathy Stover-Fry (Her story is one I will not soon forget!)

* Pic above:
Me & dear friends from Sunshine Church in Grand Rapids

* Pic above:
Me & Robyn Dykstra (talk about a powerful testimony!)

For more pictures, let's be Facebook friends so you can check out my Facebook page here. :)

2. Teaching my workshop on Expanding Your Ministry through Social Online Media

I loved sharing what I've learned about Social Media with the other leaders, and had so much fun teaching this Workshop. I am praying that the seeds that were planted would grow a 100 fold harvest in the Kingdom!!!

I was also thankful to make it through the Q & A time on Saturday afternoon! Talk about "nerve wracking"! Thankfully the questions for me were on areas I am passionate about, and I made it through without "losing my lunch"! Lol!

3. Being a part of Carol Kent's Speak Up team

I am so incredibly humbled and grateful to be a part of a team that is so Christ-centered and focused on helping others become all that God desires for them to be! There are no "rock stars" on this team ~ and I learned a TON by watching them in action (i.e. humility, servant leadership, encouragement, generosity and compassion).

A highlight was enjoying dinner together after the Speak Up Conference was over. What a blessing to hear each leader share their praises from the week. It was like a worship service ~ with God alone receiving ALL of the GLORY!!!

And now, dear bloggy friend, I must tell you that while I was at Speak Up I also had YOU on my mind!

I picked up a copy of Carol's latest (and amazing) book Between A Rock and A Grace Place, and I would love, love, love to share this book with you!!

To Win my Between A Rock and A Grace Place Giveaway: Leave a comment in the comment section answering this question:

Why would you like to win Carol Kent's Between A Rock and A Grace Place??

Extra Entries:

•Follow *She Sparkles*
•Subscribe to *She Sparkles*
•Add my *She Sparkles* button to your blog
•Tweet about this giveaway including a link to this post

Please be sure to leave me a comment to let me know your extra entries.

RULES: Starts today, Monday, June 27th and ends Thursday, June 30th at 9 PM. Winner will be posted on my blog during the week of July 1st.

If your email address is not connected to your ID, please leave your email address with your comment or email it to me at with the subject "Giveaway".

I'll close with these powerful words shared by Carol (from 1 Peter 4)....

"Friends when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.” 1 Peter 4:12-13 (MSG)

Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*. Have a wonderful, grace-filled, day!!

P.S. If you attended Speak Up this year, I'd love to hear your highlights too! Share with us please! :) (And if you blogged about it, be sure to share the link!)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friendship Friday: HisStory in the Making

Picture from last year's conference. New pictures coming soon! :)

Hey friends!!

I'm so excited....Speak Up With Confidence is in town this week!

You may remember how
God used this powerful conference to significantly bless and empower me in past years.

I've had a blast over the past 2 days encouraging and sharing with women from around the country (actually 17 different states, plus Australia!)

Enjoy another "Friendship Friday" post, as I share some of my "Speak Up" friends (and their writings) with you!

For today, may I introduce to you....April Garretson

April and I met last year at Speak Up and we immediately connected. Thankfully our friendship has continued to grow and grow across the miles ~ (she's from VA, while I'm here in MI). In fact, if we had to pay for long distance, our phone bills would be through the roof!

One of the sweetest gestures (besides her gold shoes) was this past November, when April drove from her home in Virginia to Knoxville, Tennessee (where I was speaking for the weekend). April just wanted to be prayer support. Now is that a good friend or what?! :)

Enjoy her powerful, true life story!! :)

HisStory in the Making
If you don't mind, I'm going to grab some tissues (sniff*sniff) and tell you the story of how Jeremiah got his name. Many friends have heard the story before, but I have never "written" it. Join me as I give God praise for answering me like only He could...and still continues to do.

This is the chair that I sat in when I asked God to speak to me.

The house was hot. Sun came in every window and winds blew the two large maples in our yard. Yes, it was spring, but I knew no life was in me. I thought it was cruel humor to endure our second miscarriage on April Fool's Day. I vividly remember exactly what the picture looked like on the ultrasound monitor that day. Many days after that, I don't remember, but there is this one....

I was angry. I had done all this before. I had cried until I had no more tears. I accepted God's sovereignty and comfort last time. I had made the phone calls just a year and half ago. I had endured the pain before. But again! Really?!

The house was quiet except for my footsteps, I was stomping toward our dining room table. I grabbed my Bible and a concordance, and sat and cried in my tattered bath robe. Not little light tears, but the huge hot ones that burn when they run down your contorted cheeks. Why would we have to endure this again?

As I LOUDLY poured out tears and my heart, I TOLD God, "I am not getting up from this table...I WILL NOT get up from this table until you tell me how I am suppose to go on with so much sorrow!! Until YOU tell me everything I need to know about MOURNING and how to get over it, I will not move!!" And I meant it!

I was worried that I would never stop crying.

I searched, read, and wrote out every verse in the Bible that had to do with mourning. I still have the papers. God loved me enough to not focus on my tone or attitude, but on my heart. I was so hurt and needed comforting like no other time in my life. Verse after verse, I was reading but nothing was resonating with me. I wrote and read half the day. Worried that my grief was immovable, I was feeling hopeless. However, in His Wisdom, He lead me to words that I needed to hear.

For the second or third time, I read Jeremiah 31:13, "...for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow."

I wiped my eyes and asked, does it really say, MAKE THEM REJOICE
With that I had no choice. I could not carry the grief, sorrow, and mourning. It was too great to bear. But, if God said that HE would turn it into joy and HE would MAKE me rejoice, then I would get up from the table and TRUST. I did.

He did not tell me how I would rejoice, He just told me that I would. And at that time, that was enough.

For over a year through tons of blood work, lots of testing, hope in a third pregnancy, daily Heparin injections, an inuetero EKG, ultrasounds, biophysical profile ultrasounds, 6 doctor appointments EACH week for the last 6 weeks, fatal monitoring, and an inducted pregnancy, I TRUSTED God's promise from that verse EACH AND EVERY SINGLE DAY.

In the throws of labor, breathlessly I wanted to tell my story. No surprise if you know me, right?! I hollered (yes, "hollered") at the doctor to "come here, I want to tell you something!" I laugh now, but at the time I was serious! I made him come all the way up to my head and looked him in the eye and said, "We don't know if this is a boy or a girl, but I want to tell you if it is a girl, her name will be JOY and if it is a boy then his name with be JEREMIAH because after our second child died, God spoke from Jeremiah 31:13 and said...." There were tears in that room, too

My friends, get a kick out me sharing that when they laid Jeremiah on my chest for the first time, I erupted in the Doxology..."Praise God from whom all blessings flow, Praise Him all creatures here below, Praise Him above ye Heavenly Host, Praise God Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen!" I didn't even leave off the "Ahhhhhhhhmen!"

He caused me to rejoice.

Today, look who sits in that chair ready for picture day.

I guess mommas never really stop crying.

God, thank you for collecting my "happy tears" in the same bottle as the sad ones.

Just this week, I was blessed and excited to have a friend share a new verse from Jeremiah 23:29 with me, "'Is not my word like fire,' declares the Lord, 'and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?'"

Again, I answer "YES!"

That verse in the chair at the dining room table was the hammer that broke through my grief and built up my trust. What is yours?

I never assume that my blog is of any new revelation. All wisdom and revelation is from the Father through the Holy Spirit. I just share stories of how I see God in my daily walk with Him offer a blog in praise. But if you are experiencing "rocks" in your life or in your heart today, I pray that the Word will break them.

Father, for all the women who have children in your arms, I pray and ask that you comfort those parents, mommies and daddies, on special days and in their tender times. Illuminate your Word in their Wilderness as you did for Jesus. For those facing adoption, Father make a way for them to be Your Hands and Feet to your precious creations, not only do you know where they are, but you know the hairs on their heads, and the arms you want to place them in. Hold them tight until you are able to unit them with their parents. Thank you for the special place we have in You, where we abide and know only love and acceptance. In name of My Rock, Redeemer, and ever Restorer Jesus, Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhmen. ~ April Garretson

About April: Writing for His glory is what excites April Garretson. She is currently enrolled in the Liberty University Home Bible Institute and a graduate of Carol Kent's Speak Up with Confidence Seminar. Wednesdays find her at church with middle and high school girls chatting about biblical characters and real life situations. Her husband and son would encourage you to read more about how she loves to go barefoot at her blog: Barefoot Offering.

What a powerful Word, April! Thanks for sharing! (And Jeremiah is just too cute!)

I'd love to hear from you, dear friends! Are you experiencing rocks in your heart or life today? Do you need God's Word to come like a sledgehammer to those rocks into pieces? Or has God done this on your journey in the past? Share with us please!

Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*! May your weekend be filled with much joy and fun, family times!

P.S. For more Caffeinated Randomness, head over to visit Michelle and friends. You'll be glad you did!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

TILT: Operation Beautiful

Picture courtesy of Amy taken in Pensacola Beach, Florida

My crazy and chaotic week is halfway over! Speak Up With Confidence is in full swing (and I am having a blast! Woo hoo!) Today is Manda's last day of horse camp, and my Jake comes home from Detroit tomorrow night. Yippee!

Thankfully I have family and friends helping to carry the load this week. I'm exhausted! Enjoy another one of my most requested, previously shared posts!!

Have you ever felt not good enough? Not pretty enough? Not thin enough??

For most of my growing up years, I wrestled with a positive self image. At a very young age, I was introduced to "girlie" magazines. I would sneak off and hide under a large office desk and pour over these magazines ~ unknowingly accepting the magazine's definition of beauty and self worth. I grew up believing to be beautiful meant long, flowing, amazing hair, and having a body that was pencil thin with amazing, vulumptious curves.

Unfortunately I was a shy, chubby, red head, and didn't look anything like those magazine girls. And no one ever called me beautiful.

Twenty five years later, only after I was in the midst of a cocaine addiction and lost nearly 70 pounds....did I start to look like those magazine images. I was empty physically, emotionally, spiritually and drowning in the midst of illegal drug use ~ but I was thin.

My grandma said, "Oh Cindy, you are so beautiful now." Really?? Beautiful, now??

The lies, addiction, self-loathing, and negative self talk continued.

Thankfully, in 1996 I met Jesus and my life was forever changed. I now know my worth and value comes from Him! ~ and that His definition of beauty looks NOTHING like the world's. I am beautiful to Him!! Woo Hoo!

I am extremely grateful for a "do-over" in my own life, and the opportunity to raise two daughters who (Lord willing) will have minds filled with the Truth of who God says that they are and what BEAUTY looks like to Him.

But let's be honest. It's not easy.

For me personally, I must continually fill my heart and mind with Truth. I must be intentional about what messages I am allowing into my head. I am extremely careful about what I view on TV, the magazines I read, and the company I keep. (i.e. I cannot look for hours at fitness magazines without picking up the lie that "I'm not good enough" I don't read them). I have great friends in my life who let me know if I start to get "crazy head" again. And daily, I speak aloud words of Truth to myself, my children, and others.

How do you remain victorious in this battle for beauty that we are faced with in our culture today?

A few weeks ago I almost squealed with delight when I came across Operation Beautiful. The goal of the Operation Beautiful website is to end negative self-talk or “Fat Talk.”

The editor, Caitlin shares, "If (Operation Beautiful) only does one productive thing, I hope it helps readers realize how truly toxic negative self-talk is.... The point is that WE ARE ALL BEAUTIFUL. You are enough... just the way you are!"

Here's an awesome video from the Operation Beautiful site with amazing statistics about how "Fat Talk" is impacting our world....

So how is Operation Beautiful making a difference?? With post-it notes around the world!! :)

Caitlin shares, "I began Operation Beautiful by leaving positive messages on the mirrors of public restrooms — at work, at the gym, at the grocery store. I scribble down whatever comes to mind — "You are beautiful!" or "You are amazing just the way you are!" My personal goal is to leave as many Operation Beautiful notes as I can. Maybe some people read them and just smile, but I bet some people are truly touched by the effort of a random stranger.

Operation Beautiful is simple: all you need is a pen and a piece of paper. If you want to join the mission, send me an e-mail at with a photograph of your Operation Beautiful note or a description of your experience, and I’ll post it on the Operation Beautiful site for thousands of others to read and enjoy!"

Isn't that awesome?? I love how God is using Caitlin and THOUSANDS of others around the WORLD to be a voice of TRUTH to others!

Check out this video to watch Operation Beautiful in action...

Thank you, Operation Beautiful!! May you continue to wallpaper our world with messages of True Beauty!!

And please know if you wrestle with feelings of insecurity, low self worth, or believing just plain old lies, there is LIFE and FREEDOM apart from the Fat Talk. Take it from one who knows ~ LIFE is so much more enjoyable when we are not allowing the world (and/or others) to define us. May we all walk in the TRUTH of who God says that we are! *Beautiful!*

Have an amazing, Truth~filled day!! Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*!

God's richest blessings to you!!

P.S. Who can YOU share "You are beautiful" with today?? Please share a comment after you've shared TRUTH with someone! I'd love to hear from you!

P.S.S. For more Things I Love Thursday ideas, hop on over to visit Jill @ The Diaper Diaries!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Feeling Frazzled?

It's a bit of a "full" week (i.e. CRAZY and CHAOTIC!) here at my home! Speak Up With Confidence starts today (woo hoo!). Not to with 4 kids (goalie camp, VBS, horse camp, plus making dinner, walking the dog, etc...)

All of that to say ~ I'm borrowing an idea from my Pastor and calling this week "Please Repeat". Enjoy a week of some of my most requested, previously shared posts!!

Hey Friends!!

Thank you for your prayers regarding the fires in my neighborhood. Thankfully there haven't been any new fires, however, other areas of the city have had similar garage fires, so perhaps the "serial arsonist" has changed neighborhoods? May the Lord help the police catch this person/s quickly!! (update ~ the arsonist was caught ~ Praise the Lord! Recap here)

Personally, I don't know how you are doing, but I've had quite a week! I've been living FRAZZLED!

The week started off great! New ministry season! Many exciting speaking engagements to prepare for. Fun times with friends scheduled. A date night with John planned for the weekend. My house was clean and my family healthy. Woo Hoo!!

Of course, I should have known the enemy would be waiting to rob me of my joy!

Did you know the original Greek Word for "steal" in John 10:10 is "klepto"!

I feel like my joy and peace was very subtly stolen, just like a wallet out of my back pocket!

Suddenly rather than the blessings, all I could see was the "mess" all around me.

Wounds opened. Hurt feelings.

Cancelled plans. Disappointed.

Hurting friends. Feel helpless.

Papers piled everywhere. Buried in paper clutter.

Missing camera...still.

Missing set of CD's I really want to listen to (how do we keep losing everything???)

3 new talks to give in 2 days. Overwhelmed.

Knocked over garbage can, thanks to my dog ~again. Trash everyone. Coffee grounds in our home office's newly cleaned, off-white carpet.

A huge list of notes to send, e-mails to write, packages to mail.

Weary and exhausted. Frazzled.

You get the drift??!! :)

Have you ever been there before??

I went to "my new office" yesterday at church and fell asleep, head down on the table, while I should have been writing.

"I've got nothing left to give, Lord, nothing left...." was my prayer.

After my nap, I left determined that I would not allow the enemy to rob anymore from me! This "mess" was not my burden to carry. I was choosing joy, I was choosing peace, I was choosing life!!!

Today's devotion was so fitting from my Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. It really spoke to me! My hope is that it will minister to you as well...

Worship Me only. I am King of kings and Lord of lords, dwelling in unapproachable Light. I am taking care of you! I am not only committed to caring for you, but I am also absolutely capable of doing so. Rest in Me, My weary one, for this is a form of worship.

Though self-flagellation has gone out of style, many of My children drive themselves like racehorses. they whip themselves into action, ignoring how exhausted they are. They forget that I am sovereign and that My ways are higher than theirs. Underneath their driven service, they may secretly resent Me as a harsh taskmaster. Their worship of Me is lukewarm, becasue I am no longer their First Love.

My invitation never changes: Come to Me, all you who are weary, and I will give you rest. Worship Me by resting peacefully in My Presence.

Today I am committing to resting in His care. I will live frazzled no more.

The e-mails can wait. The dishes are not going anywhere. I am off to spend time with my Jesus ~ and I might even treat myself to a Starbucks on the way. I will rest in His Presence.

How about for you? How do you find peace in the chaos? How do you live "frazzle free?" I would LOVE to hear from you!

Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*. May your days be filled with many peaceful, life-giving moments!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fat Talk Free Zone

It's a bit of a "full" week (i.e. CRAZY and CHAOTIC!) here at my home! We had Monday night Bible Study last night! (God is so good!), plus Speak Up With Confidence is coming Wednesday - Saturday (woo hoo!). Not to with 4 kids (goalie camp, VBS, horse camp, plus the family wants to eat, etc...)

All of that to say ~ I'm borrowing an idea from my Pastor and calling this week "Please Repeat". Enjoy a week of some of my most requested, previously shared posts!!

Ok friends, I'll be honest.

I've been in a funk this week. Ok, maybe this whole month.

I lost my joy. My peace. Even my sparkle. :(

First, some history....

As many of you know, my weight has been a life long issue for me. For as long as I can remember, I've felt not thin enough. Or pretty enough. I believed the lie no one would ever find me beautiful. (Recap

My weight struggle came to an all-time high when I was pregnant with my eldest son Jake. I was alone. Soon-to-be a single mom. And I ate my stress, pain, fear, and shame (and anything else someone would feed me!).

Here is a picture of me on July 15, 1994 ~ the day Jake was born. (When Jake was little, when he would see this picture he would say, "Oooh, Mama Biiiiggg!" Yep, Mama was big!)

By Jake's 2nd birthday, I lost all the weight, and more. See pic below...

Even at the weight I was above (wearing a size 4 dress), I still felt not thin enough. Or pretty enough. Or that I could ever be beautiful.

I didn't eat a piece of Jake's birthday cake that day because I felt so unbelievably fat. It was empty, defeated living.

Thankfully, soon after Jake's 2nd birthday, I met Jesus (woo hoo!) ~ and my life has not been the same since!!

In His great mercy, Jesus has not only given me a new life, but a NEW MIND!! I now have the mind of Christ! And over the past 15 years, I've been very intentional about filling my mind with the TRUTH of who GOD says that I am!

And even though I no longer wear a size 4 (picture below is from this past weekend), I have been walking in Truth and freedom and joy....

....until this summer.

Unfortunately, someone close to me, is uncomfortable with my weight. Thinks I'm unattractive. Doesn't find me beautiful. And thinks it's important to share this information with me.

I wish it was some random weird commenter from cyber-space, but it's someone in my community that I value and respect.

Friends, I'll be honest, this has really thrown me for a loop. The other night I was on the phone with my girlfriend balwing my eyes out (yes, the ugly cry) ~ and I felt like I was headed in a backwards direction, and fast. The lies were taking over, and I didn't know how to make them stop.

Have you ever been there before??

As I spent time praying later that evening, I rememembered something I learned in a Bible Study that was eye opening for me. Kelly Minter, in her book No other gods shares, "Satan will tell us what's true, but he never tells us the TRUTH".

Remembering that simple statement was like an "AHA" light bulb moment for me!!

Yes, it is true, I am not a size 4 (or an 8 anymore).
Yes, it is true, my body has given birth to 4 children.
Yes, it is true, I do not look like the women on the magazines.
Yes, those things are true.

But the TRUTH is that I am beautiful and accepted by God....just the way that I am!!

The TRUTH is that God delights in me!!

The TRUTH is that I am secure, significant, set apart in Christ!

The TRUTH is that I am dearly loved by the Lord God Almighty! Woo Hoo!!

"Satan will tell us what's true, but he never tells us the TRUTH".

My greatest desire is to be a voice of TRUTH in my own life, and the lives of every single person I come in contact with (my friends, family, neighborhood, community, on-line, and more!).

I will not allow the comments of others to make me have "crazy head".

I will not return to an eating disorder.

And I will not allow my words to others feed into the lies we receive from the media and the world, about where TRUE BEAUTY and WORTH comes from ~ so help me God!!

That's why I'm declaring my life to be a Fat Talk Free Zone! I recently came across the Reflections Body Image Program. I love what they are doing to teach women to pursue health, well-being, and true beauty!

In case you are wondering "what is fat talk, anyway?" Here's how the Reflections Program describes it...

Fat Talk describes all of the statements made in everyday conversation that reinforce the thin ideal and contribute to women’s dissatisfaction with their bodies.

Examples of fat talk may include: “I’m so fat,” “Do I look fat in this?” “I need to lose 10 pounds” and “She’s too fat to be wearing that swimsuit.”

Statements that are considered fat talk don’t necessarily have to be negative; they can seem positive yet also reinforce the need to be thin – “You look great! Have you lost weight?”

Sorry, Satan, you may try your sly and subtle tricks with me ~ BUT NO MORE! I will live and stand and walk in TRUTH!

And the TRUTH is that our God does not talk "Fat Talk" to His dearly loved children!

The official "Fat Talk Free" week isn't until the fall of this year, but I'm declaring my life to be Fat Talk Free....Lord willing, from this day forward!! Anyone with me??

P.S. If you've not seen this video on Fat Talk before, PLEASE take 3 minutes to watch it! You'll be so glad you did!

P.S.S. I'm linking up today with Jen and friends at Soli Deo Gloria. Be sure to check out this amazing sisterhood of women! :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Praying for Your Husband

It's a bit of a "full" week (i.e. CRAZY and CHAOTIC!) here at my home with Monday night Bible Study TONIGHT! (woo hoo!), Speak Up With Confidence Wednesday - Saturday (can't wait!) ~ plus life with 4 kids (goalie camp, VBS, horse camp, plus the family wants to eat, etc...)

All of that to say ~ I'm borrowing an idea from my Pastor and calling this week "Please Repeat". Enjoy a week of some of my most requested, previously shared posts!!

First, I should let you know ~ I am not a marriage expert.

I am not a trained therapist or counselor. I've not written any profound marriage books. I am just a simple girl, passionately in love with Jesus and my man, trying to figure out how to enjoy marriage and celebrate life together. Thankfully, by God's grace, we will celebrate 11 years together this August! (Can I get a "woo hoo"?!)

I wish I could tell you it's been 10 1/2 years of pure bliss ~ but I'd be lying.

I now view my marriage like a roller coaster ~ an adventure filled with its ups (and downs), twists and turns, excitement and fun, and unfortunately, sometimes, hang on tight, "why did I say yes to this thing?!" times as well.

Thankfully, John and I are enjoying a "Wow, this is great fun!" season ~ but that's not always been the case (more on that subject later ...)

For today, I want to share the number one thing I've learned to strengthen our marriage over the past almost-decade of marriage ~ the power of prayer!

Years ago, I read Stormie Omartian's book the The Power of a Praying Wife. Stormie does an awesome job of reminding us of the power and importance of lifting our husbands in prayer.

After a very difficult season of our marriage in (that we weren't sure we were going to make it through) ~ I made a promise that I would pray for John and our marriage every single day.

Unfortunately, at first, I struggled with how to make my promise a reality. You know how it goes ~ life gets busy, right? Kids take up our time, energy, affection. Family members get sick. Life keeps going. We get sidetracked with so many other things to do.

But what I've learned is this....I must make time to pray for John and our marriage. Even if it's while I'm brushing my teeth, washing the dishes, or sick on the couch ~ I've made the predetermined decision, regardless of my circumstances, I will pray for my husband and our marriage every single day.

Like Nike says, "Just do it" :)

If you feel like it or not....

If he was loving this morning or not...

If he's praying for you or not....


One thing that has really helped me make my promise a reality is my Prayer Guide (click here for my Prayer Guide recap).

Using my prayer guide, I can look at John as I pray, record my prayers, and have a list of specific things to pray for him. (See the yellow post-it notes in the pic? My little Sarah used to sit on my lap while I prayed for "Daddy" and write out her prayers too. Aren't her little notes sweet??)

(In the picture on the left is a download called 31 Days of Praying for Your Husband. You can print it off here)

Please know, I do not use my Prayer Guide everyday (I sure wish I did). There are some days that my prayer time is while I walk the dog, or sit at the bus stop waiting for the kids ~ but thankfully, I can see the FRUIT from committing to praying for our marriage and John every single day. Prayer has breathed new, fresh life into a marriage that was fading fast. Prayer works...of this I am sure!

What about for you?? What have you found has been helpful to strengthen your marriage?? I'd love to hear from you!

Many blessings to you this week!! Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*!

P.S. I'm linking up today with my dear friend
Julie from Come Have A Peace for Marriage Mondays! Be sure to hop her way for lots more marraige tips! :)

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