Monday, July 30, 2012

Giveaway & Destination: Inspiration Linky Party #17

Hi everyone! Welcome to this week's Destination: Inspiration linky party! Before we get started, I want to remind you that we have less than two days for the awesome book giveaway on Teagan's Travels! The book is by Liz Curtis Higgs and I know you will love it! 

Do you want to experience the book of Ruth in a whole new way?  Liz is a fun, dynamic personality who has brought this well known Bible story to life. She leaps between past and present to show us a determination and boldness I never considered before! 

Liz Curtis Higgs is the author of over 25 books, with more than 3 million copies in print including her Bad Girls of the Bible series! Pretty exciting stuff and I can't wait to dive into my copy of this book after hearing her speak! Check out my Friday Five post for some great videos about this book. 

OK, so wanna win??? 
There are several ways to throw your name in the hat:

1) Become a follower using Google Friends Connect or Linky Followers. Leave  me a comment below letting me know you did so. 

2) Leave a comment! I love hearing from you and am dedicating more time to build a community. 

3) Post a status update on your blog or Facebook about this giveaway and let me know in a comment below!

4) Link up an inspirational post today! Leave me a comment letting me know you did!

The contest runs until 3:00 EST on Wednesday. I will use to select a winner. 

I LOVED reading all the amazing submissions on last week so on we go to a new Destination: Inspiration Linky Party! Show us what ya got! 

Passport to an Awesome 
Destination: Inspiration Party!!!

Teagan's Travels Button, 2012 February

I Was Featured, 2012 February

*I  am trying to grow my little blog so I'd really be excited if you would follow me using Google  Friends Connect or Linky Followers on my sidebar!

*Grab my button and post it somewhere on your blog if you want to totally make my week.

*Link to your post instead of your overall blog address.

*We all love comments so spread the love to at least one other blogger.

Have a great week! 

Gently Through This Day

Today is the first anniversary of my father's passing. In my quiet time this morning I looked to a book called Dear Jesus by Sarah Young. I randomly select a devotional each day out of this, asking God to direct me to just the perfect message He has set aside for me. I thought the words above suited the needs of my tender heart perfectly this morning. God is so good! 

Dear God, 
Thank you for being my strength today. Thank you for letting me hear your gentle whisper in my heart. I pray that someone might be touched by your words today and know that even in grief we can look to you for comfort and freedom in this world. I praise you and ask that you bless those reading today. 

In Jesus' Name, Michelle

Later tonight I will have the linky party up for this week's Destination: Inspiration. I would love to read an inspirational post from you. And if you haven't entered to win my book giveaway there is still time! Click here for scoop on how to win Liz Curtis Higg's The Girl's Still Got It for an amazing new way to look at the book of Ruth!

Blessings, Michelle

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday Five: The Girl's Still Got It and Giveaway!

I haven't had a Friday Five in a while, so I thought I'd start it off again with a fun book giveaway!! I got the chance to hear Liz Curtis Higgs speak on Saturday night at She Speaks 2012. She is such a wonderful, hilarious, motivating speaker. You must check her out if you haven't heard her because you will walk away truly inspired. 

So I can't WAIT to dive into The Girl's Still Got It: Take a Walk With Ruth and the God Who Rocked Her World! And now I am giving you the opportunity to WIN a copy here so read on!

Five Reasons I Love This Book: 

1) Liz is the author of over 25 books, with more than 3 million copies in print including her Bad Girls of the Bible series. And...I got the chance to hear her speak...and snag a big bear hug from her! How fun is that?!

2) Liz breathes new life and perspective into this story I bet most of us feel we already know. For example, I always thought of Ruth as quiet and obedient. Here, the author offers a look at Ruth's courage, determination and boldness. In addition, she casts a portrayal of  Naomi that I never considered before!

3) The bible study promises to leap between past and present to show us what God's message is for women living today through this story. 

4) Because this video trailer is pretty darn cool....

5) And because I will have lots of book giveaways coming up this fall. But only ONE book could come with a Righteous Ruth Rap!

OK, who is excited to check out Ruth in an all new way???? 
There are four ways to win so enter more than once:

 1) If you aren't a follower on Teagan's Travels yet, please sign up using Google Friends Connect or Linky Followers. Leave me a comment letting me know you did so and under what name. Or if you are already a follower leave me a comment letting me know you are back to check this giveaway out!

2) Leave a comment telling me what book you've really loved lately that inspired you in some way!

3) On Tuesday join my Destination: Inspiration linky party by linking up an inspirational blog post! 

 4) Post scoop about this contest on your Facebook wall with a link to Teagan's Travels! Leave me a comment here letting me know you've done so.

I will select a winner on Wednesday, August 1st at 3:00 pm EST using

Have a great weekend everyone!
Blessings, Michelle

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bravo Girl: When What I See Makes a Difference

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Philippians 4:7-9 (NIV)

Public domain photo

I have a confession to make: I LOVE reality TV. I could give you a million reasons why but the truth is it simply fascinates me to watch a train wreck of a relationship unfold right before my eyes. In some strange way, it makes me and my minuscule problems feel better. 

A few months ago I could say I was a bonafide Bravo TV addict. Top Chef, any Real Housewives series, Millionaire Matchmaker, The Rachel Zoe, Flipping Out...I mean, these people know entertainment! With witty comments, fabulous lives, shocking revelations and bizarre outcomes, what was not to get hooked on? 

But as I watched, often as I cleaned the kitchen after a meal, I began to feel something different. 


With every episode I began to feel our society getting a bit ...meaner. More aggressive. Do you know what I mean, girlfriend? Does it make your heart sad too? Sad to see this behavior in young girls on TV but devastated for all involved when it is the parents acting out with all the ugliness captured...on camera. In front of little eyes. Inquiring minds. Millions of viewers. 

When did we begin applauding bad behavior? Why is it ever OK to chastise "weakness" that presents itself in the form of turning the other cheek? Can someone tell me how we got here? Is this the sort of selfish, self-centered world we want to turn over to our children? 

OK, so I am not judging because the fact is, I bought into this for a while. A while? Ok, much too long. But lately? Lately my heart hurts to see it. I feel God's quiet voice telling me to turn it off. Fill my time and my thoughts with something different. 

Can we turn away together, girls? What if we ask, no, demand that our broadcast executives to give us more than this? Could we dare to raise our girls to value a spirit of being gentle, sweet, and innocent even within a society that might tell them they are weak? 

I pray we can. I must confess I turned on one of "those" shows this week. Old habits. I witnessed a mom screaming at a dance instructor...horrible screams. Angry accusations flying back and forth. And you could see the fear in the girls. Those young minds. Crying because the adults in the room had lost control. 

I turned it off. Enough. Tell me, are you sick of our reality TV? What do you want to see on TV? Or how are you filling your days instead of turning it on? 

God, I pray for all us struggling to hold on to what is noble, right, pure and lovely in our society today. Help us to turn off the garbage and to stand firm when messages around us tell us that bad behavior is acceptable. Strong. Admirable.  Give us conviction and courage to look to you and your word. In Jesus' Name, Amen


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My Messy Martha Days

I love to entertain. At least, I love the idea of entertaining. I often volunteer to entertain...but if I'm honest? Many times the outcomes have...well, let's just call them less-than-Martha-esque-results! 

Take this morning. We had an impromptu breakfast brunch at my house for a few moms, our three toddlers and three one year olds. When it was time to prepare for our guests I relished in setting out brightly colored decorations on the table. The pattern included  brilliant blue, fuchsia pink, and sunflower yellow flowers dotted with a touch of silver with just enough trend in them to suggest some hipster mama pulled this look together. 

And most of all, I loved arranging the brilliant tone-on-tone flowers within a square glass vase on the table, adding a touch of turquoise colored tulle as an accent. This is the part that comes easy to me and I suggest to my husband, the reason I keep signing up for these crazy days!

Public domain photo

But when it comes to actually feeding people?  I am not so inclined, friends! I suppose I get tangled up in the logistics? I either make something too early so it is served a clammy cold, burn it beyond redemption, or underestimate how much is needed to feed a score of hungry tiny beings. In short, 

OK, so no one will ever suggest I am made for The Food Network. But this morning, I thought I had finally figured this entertaining business out. All was going superbly! My table was decorated, the house reasonably clean, children fed ...and a nary a tear made its way through our downstairs all morning. I sung happily thinking, "Oh yeahhhh. I've so got this!!"

Then life happened. 
My disobedient child. 
A moment that passed innocently enough.
One of two beautifully prepared quiches ready for the oven...crashing into the sink. 
Oh my messy Martha days... 

Public domain photo

In that moment I had to make a choice. What reaction would follow? What would it teach my child? And what would it say to my heart as I lay my head down at the end of the day? 

I love this message captured from Lysa TerKeurst's new book Unglued: Making Wise Choices. It says when something like...well, life, happens we have a choice:

I have to choose patience. 
Or gentleness. 
Or grace. 
It is a choice. 

Isn't that beautiful? And doesn't it remind you of the grace Christ gives to us, His children, on a daily basis? 

I wish I could say I made the choice to be gentle, to show grace and patience all the time. Especially when it concerns matters so close to my heart as my family. But I can't say that. Today? Today I remembered that my disobedient child is just like her mom. I too ignore God's requests to, "Stop!" or "Move away from the fire." And so, I took a deep breath. Cleaned up the mess and adjusted. We had a great time at our party! Cold quiche and all, friends!

Tell me, how do you respond when someone gets "All up in your happy?" When you feel like coming unglued what tools and techniques do you have for keeping your cool, holding your tongue and showing those around you Christ-inspired grace? 

And for heaven's sake, if you have an easy-peasy recipe for entertaining do send it along to this needy mom who will thank you with all of her southern heart!

Blessings, Michelle

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

She Roars!!! & Destination: Inspiration Linky Party #16

I am back from my She Speaks 2012 Speakers and Writers Conference that was hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries. One of the participants commented that She Speaks left her...speechless. Wow. Can I ever identify with  this summary of our short time together!

Me with "Mama Lu" - Luann Prater of Encouragement Cafe

Imagine a  building overtaken by 700 enthusiastic and energized women with a heart for God! Women who have a passion for growing His kingdom. Women who like to use the power of their physical and mental voice to praise and glorify Him!

Friendships were quickly fostered.

Formed in buffet lines.
The hallways.
Our onsite prayer room.
...the bathroom even introduced sisters in Christ on more than one occasion

Yes, God's presence was evident. His blessings, prevalent. We marveled over how time and again He placed each of us just where we needed to be: in the appropriate class, meeting with publishers, hearing a speech that seemed meant for our specific heart. God worked within those walls miracles that we will continue to see unfold in the coming months. 

I.heart. Kelly Wommack! We had dinner together the first night and I so look forward to seeing what awesome adventures God has in store for this amazing woman!

Dawn, Nicole, Britta, Nicole and Lara super charged my experience. I will never forget these lovely women and know they will have a huge impact on my ministry! 

I also met Susan the first night and love her to bits! Hopefully she'll be up for a guest post and share her ministry with us. 

Suzanne is a super sweet soul and I so look forward to doing life with her too!

Suzanne embodies what I mean about God introducing you to just the right peeps when you need it! She is a freelance business marketing writer and fiction author. She graciously offered to help craft my vision, hook and strategy! This was such a surprise! God is so good and He knows my jumbled tired-mama mind needed help in this area. I am so grateful and excited!!

Just some of the girls representinnn' Georgia: Kelli, Amy and Sharita

Girls after my own heart: Laurie, Demitra, Doris and Danielle!

Amy has been my friend for years and so it was super special to be in some of the same classes together! She is forever inspiring me!

Elizabeth, Lara, Dawn, heart! But we are missing a few. Not sure why we didn't get one pic with all of us!

Mary Beth, Lara and self in 'da house!

Keep an eye open for Rivera! This sweet sister is sure to be the next big author in Christian writing!!

I am excited to see where this take us over the next few months.  Forget speaking, I am ready to ROAR! I have plans my friends, including the creation of a ministry web page, guest bloggers, magazine submissions, oh-so-fun giveaways, writer's critique groups, sharing my testimony (gulp) with a local moms group. Taking a deep breath, I know I must acknowledge these are just my plans. The next few days, weeks and months I will be in constant prayer asking God to reveal His will and timing for me and my family. So do look for some super exciting things coming up!

In the meantime, who is ready for today's Destination: Inspiration Tuesday? After some soul searching in the past few weeks I'm moving more away from crafting in an effort to focus on posts where you've written or created something inspiring. Now, if you are a crafting mama please don't hate me. I love you to bits and marvel at all you do. I'll be keeping tabs on you guys to be sure and still posting a few creations of my own as life permits. But this ...these words of inspiration, writing, sharing...that is where my heart is at this time so I am going to listen to what I believe is God's prompting. We can't wait to see so please share! 

Passport to an Awesome 
Destination: Inspiration Party!!!

Teagan's Travels Button, 2012 February

I Was Featured, 2012 February

*I  am trying to grow my little blog so I'd really be excited if you would follow me using Google  Friends Connect or Linky Followers on my sidebar!

*Grab my button and post it somewhere on your blog if you want to totally make my week.

*Link to your post instead of your overall blog address.

*We all love comments so spread the love to at least one other blogger.

Have a great week! 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Until The Whole World Hears - Part 2 & Destination: Inspiration Linky Party #15

In April 2011, I posted Until The Whole World Hears. I wrote about my role as an Advocate for Compassion International. We are blessed to sponsor a little girl in Rwanda named Pascaline, along with a little girl in Burkina Faso named Elibie. These girls have become such a part of our family! We treasure receiving letters and progress reports from them. And we believe we are in partnership with their parents to provide them with the best future possible. But most of all we love seeing how Christ is working in their lives and using compassion from around the world to release them from the devastating affects of poverty. I pray one day I will have the joy of introducing Teagan and Isla to their sisters in Christ!

This week I've been singing away in the car to the song that inspired my post. It is by my favorite band, Casting Crowns....

Isn't that an amazing song? It reminds me that in our world there are places where there is little hope, much darkness and people who have simply never heard of Jesus Christ. I believe we have a vital role to play in getting the message of His love, salvation and hope to others. 

That's why I am simply giddy that the BIG week is finally here! Starting Thursday I will be in Concord, North Carolina for Proverbs 31 Ministries' She Speaks conference! There will be 650 women from around the world attending this as leaders, speakers, and writers who have been called to ministry by God. I am so honored to be part of the group this year and can't sleep due to the excitement! 

She Speaks Graduate

I have been praying God would use my love of writing and my blog to grow His kingdom. This conference will provide me with so much information and the tools to do so! Stay tuned as I can't wait to share what He is doing in my life and others attending the conference!

In the meantime, I am really looking forward to this week's Destination: Inspiration submissions! Show us what ya got! 

Passport to an Awesome 
Destination: Inspiration Party!!!

Teagan's Travels Button, 2012 February

I Was Featured, 2012 February

*I  am trying to grow my little blog so I'd really be excited if you would follow me using Google  Friends Connect or Linky Followers on my sidebar!

*Grab my button and post it somewhere on your blog if you want to totally make my week.

*Link to your post instead of your overall blog address.

*We all love comments so spread the love to at least one other blogger.

Have a great week! 

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Promise

Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.
Genesis 9:16

The South finally received some needed relief from the oppressing humidity and heat wave that had our country moving cautiously about. Teagan and I made our way to a doctor's appointment today. On the way, we talked about what a blessing the rain was because it was God's way of providing for people, birds, grass, and even my toddler girl's favorite snakes (insert a sigh and shake of the head here). All are blessed by this rain with water and means of nourishment. 

As we drove the sky became darker. Ominous, even. Now friends, you should know I am a nervous former Texan. When I see crazy skies my heart beats a bit fast ... and with good reason as I grew up in Tornado Alley! My Irish husband gives me no end of grief, in the form of good natured ribbing, when I pile pillows and blankets galore into our food pantry, TV blaring the latest updates from Weather Center One! keep us calm I told Teagan, "This is the kind of storm that God allows to bring us something beautiful. So keep your eyes open, toward the sky and you just might see it!" 

As I said these words to her, my thoughts quickly flashed through my previous blog posts. Those entries captured my tender feelings. My vulnerability. My grief. 

And they captured my hope. 

Visions paraded through my mind of Noah, his ark, and his family with their eyes turned up to see the symbol of God's promise never again to destroy His earth or its people.  

In that moment I realized that I, along with my precious family here and around the country, am in the midst of a storm. And not just any storm, but the kind of storm God uses to bring something beautiful to life.  

And just like that my spirit became quiet. I became calm. My heart sang to my sweet Jesus. My Savior. My King: "I praise you in this storm."

We did see a rainbow that day and it was just as exciting for me as it was for Teagan! When you see a rainbow you will take a moment to remember God's unending love for you? Will you take a moment to remember His promise to never destroy us? And you will look for the sun to follow? For with the sun it brings a new day full of hope that surpasses our expectation or understanding. 

I hope you are having a wonderful and blessed weekend. We are off early tomorrow for a fun day at the zoo. I can tell you there are some verrrrrrrry excited persons in our house tonight. And that we will probably be forced to visit the reptile house. *Sigh.*

God Bless!