How to Write Books with Babies In Your Lap (Giveaway)

via Worth James Goddard on flickr

You don’t.

You don’t write books with babies in your lap, you don’t even check your email because four boys are honking your nose and pulling at your hair and coffee spills all over the overdue bills on your desk and you wonder again, why you said Yes.

Why you said you’d take in your friend’s two children when she called saying she couldn’t do it anymore, she couldn’t be a mom anymore. And rather than see that one-year-old and three-year-old go into the foster system you said you’d take them in, in addition to your six-month-old and his two-year-old brother.

Because some things are more important than sleep. Or a hot cup of coffee. Or that novel you’ve just been contracted to write because of course, you finally got a contract right after you took the boys in. Because God cares more about the least of these and he’ll reward you for it, too.

But it doesn’t feel like a reward. Especially when one of the boys forgets to lock the gate behind him and your six month old tumbles down the stairs in his walker and you grab him, weeping, you run with him to the office and close the door and hold your baby close to you and sob to God, I can’t do this.

Rock your baby and sobbing, and then somehow, God reminds you that you can. And you rise, open the door, turn on some music for the boys in the living room and they run dancing around the coffee table.

The story only gets written because you hire a nanny–a Dutch girl from your hamlet who makes homemade pasta noodles and laughs with all of her upper body and brings crafts to do with the boys. She brings her keyboard and songs fill the insides of your walls and she makes you mugs of tea and you call her Angel.

But even as the characters begin to form on the screen in your Word document, even as the plot thickens and you try to avoid those excessive adverbs and cliche descriptions, you hear the boys laughing outside the office door.

And you miss them. Your house is full of children but they’re no longer climbing all over you, they’re climbing all over somebody else, and you wonder if they aren’t the greatest story your life is writing?

These four boys whose noses and legs never stop running, who never get enough stories at bedtime, who always want more songs and more snuggles and more glasses of milk and more of you.

boys in the corn

All you’ve ever wanted is to be a published author and now you have the chance and you can’t help thinking, this isn’t what life is about.

It’s incredible to be able to make up stories but it’s even more incredible to live them. To hear the words tumbling from your child’s mouth as he talks about his favorite blue flashlight as you lie beside him in his bunk-bed. “Some flashlights are small, and some are big, and some are tiny and some are huge,” he says as he slips his hand into yours there in the dark.

Catherine Wallace writes, “Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.”

Yes, I write books, but I don’t make a living from them. I make a living from being a mother and a wife, from nurturing life and love through the main characters of my story: the Dutch-German man I fell in love with back in Bible School, the one who converts his car to run off vegetable oil, who cans his own salsa and snowboards mountains. Who hikes up his pajama pants and dances for me in the middle of the living room, who throws his boys on the bed and eats their tummies, who downloads Parenthood for me and goes geocaching with me and kisses me like he means it.

And the two Filipino boys who now only visit us once a month because they’re back with their mama, and she thanks me every week for saving her life last year, and my biological sons–the ones I wasn’t supposed to be able to have–who make me feel famous every time I enter a room. Who squish my cheeks together in their dimpled hands and say, “I lah you Mama.”

This, friends–this is the story worth telling. The one we’re in.

novel ad

I am honored to be giving away my debut novel, A Promise in Pieces--which releases this month–today to you friends… it’s about a woman like me, named Clara, who loves passionately while struggling to believe she is loved.

From the back cover: “It’s been more than 50 years since Clara cared for injured WWII soldiers in the Women’s Army Corp. Fifty years since she promised to deliver a dying soldier’s last wish. And 50 years since that soldier’s young widow gave her the baby quilt—a grief-ridden gift that would provide hope to countless newborns in the years to come. On her way to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Clara decides it’s time to share her story. But when the trip doesn’t go as planned, Clara wonders if anyone will learn the great significance of the quilt—and the promise stitched inside it.”

If you want to win one of two copies, just leave a comment below and we’ll choose two winners within the week. Otherwise, you can download a free chapter and purchase the novel HERE.

This post is part of our series Finding Balance as a Busy Mom. 

Please check the series page for all of the posts! 

Finding Balance as a Busy Mom

Candace Cameron Bure – How Does She Do it All??

How Does She Do It All?? {Candace Cameron Bure  with Ruth Schwenk } (We shared this post in the past but I immediately thought of it when I was planning this series on balance. It is a perfect fit! Candace will also now be giving away a copy of her brand new book that fits perfectly as well, “Balancing It All”!)

I am so excited to have my friend Candace Cameron Bure as our guest today and introduce you to her brand new book Balancing It All!

Actress, Producer, New York Times’ bestselling author, and international speaker Candace Cameron Bure is both outspoken and passionate about her family and faith.

With a successful television and movie career that started at the age of five and continues to flourish today, Candace knows that the greatest success in her life has been that of her marriage to Valeri Bure and their three children, Natasha, Lev and Maks.

Her desire is to minister to the hearts of women so they might pursue wholesome values that nurture and reinforce the family unit; that modern women would be bold enough to stand against the negative message our culture tends to reflect, and embrace the women we were created to be.

You can find information about Candace on her website or follow her on Twitter.

Candace writes:

How does she do it all ??

It’s a question we moms all want the answer to, as if there were a formula.  You see her on t.v., talking about her latest book, her new movie, her make-up line, her charity involvement and of course her picture perfect family. Does super mom really exist?

To put it simply: no. She’s juggling her life the same way you’re juggling yours, except she’s in the public eye and her projects are on a worldwide scale. And just like you, she struggles. Trust me, she struggles. But you don’t see that in the magazines or in her interviews. They only ask her about the good stuff and she’s got her answers down pat so it only appears as if she balances it all seamlessly.

Don’t you wish you could pull back the curtain? Just for a moment?

You can. Just look in the mirror.

You may not be on the New York Times best-seller list, but the way you read to your kids should put you on the best storyteller list. You may not have a new film debut, but the drama and comedy in your house could rival any Drew Barrymore movie. You may not have founded your own non-profit organization but the effort you put into your kids’ school and your church ministry could make you the CEO of any charity in a heartbeat.

It isn’t about the scale of things that makes them more important, it’s about what’s important in your life that makes them worthy.

Whether you’re a stay-at-home homeschooling mom, a working mom from home or a working mom on the road, our desire to balance it all well will never cease. And for each of us, that means something different. Did you catch that?

For each of us, balancing it well means something different.

We are all unique including our gifts, talents, families, circumstances and situations. What’s normal for you isn’t normal for me or everyone else. Some rules won’t apply and exceptions and creative solutions will have to be made to find balance within your lifestyle.  I believe that when we come to this realization in our own lives, it will be an overwhelming sigh of relief!

It’s not about comparing yourself to the woman on television. She’s not doing it better or more efficiently than you are, her circumstances are just different.

God placed you in your space, with your own sphere of influence. How you use that influence and for whom you use it is part of balancing it all well. When we are well rounded and focusing on all the things God has created us to be and do, that is when we will achieve balance in our lives.

Blessings,

Candace, CandaceCameronBure.net

GIVEAWAY!!! Today Candace is giving away a copy of her brand new book, Balancing It All!! Enter to win a copy below!

BalancingItAll_Cover“How do you do it all?”

That’s the question that wife, mom, actress, and best-selling author Candace Cameron Bure is often asked. And it’s a question that women everywhere are asking themselves as we seek to balance all of our roles, responsibilities, and opportunities.

So, how do we do it? Working since the age of 5, Candace has been in a balancing act for nearly her entire life. She is the first to tell you that there is no miracle formula for perfect execution in every area of your life, but there definitely are some lessons to be learned, lessons that come to life in Candace’s story.

Come along and dig into Candace’s story from her start in commercials, the balance-necessitating years on Full House, to adding on the roles of wife and mom while also returning to Hollywood. Insightful, funny, and poignant, Candace’s story will help you balance it all.

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When Silence is Not Golden

Silence

I remember the first time I heard Mary’s story.
I had a knot in my stomach and angry, hot tears streamed down my face.
I couldn’t believe that someone could hurt a child like that.
And that others knew but did nothing to protect her.

I’d rather not talk about it–
sexual abuse.

I’d rather not know that according to CDC statistics:
–Nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men report experiencing rape.
–A 2011 survey of high school students found that 11.8% of girls and 4.5% of boys reported being sexual abused.

Or that according to the National Center for Victims of Crimes:
–1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse.
–Children are most vulnerable to sexual abuse between the ages of 7 and 13.

Sexual abuse is not something I have experienced first hand, but statistically many of you reading this have.
Many.
And many of you who have shared your story (or not) have been met with silence.
And silence has a way of speaking volumes.

As a former English teacher, I love words.
Words create and convey and communicate meaning beyond their literality.

For instance, when someone asks me where “Lydia’s real mom lives?”
The question has adoption-parent-child-relationship-implications, that communicate much more than just a simple question of location.
I am her real mom.

An empty, silent crib shouts painful echoes of heartache.
A frozen “I’m sorry” has the potential to thaw the marriage battle. Or not.

Word choice is important. But so are pauses. So is silence.

Because silence is not always golden.

“If the Lord had not been my help, my soul would’ve lived in the land of silence.” ~Psalm 94:17

And so we tell our children, over and over…
If you hear someone being hurtful to someone else, it is your responsibility to stick up for the wounded, to encourage, to come along side–

Because silence has the power to unintentionally condone cruelty.

“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know…” ~William Wilberforce

I just recently finished reading Mary Demuth’s new book, Not Marked.
I read it because I care about Mary, because I want to understand as best I can how to support the friends I have who were sexually abused, and also because I want to prevent our children from experiencing that same kind of pain.

As a mama, I so appreciated Mary’s wisdom about ways to protect our children from sexual abuse because as she states, “every crime needs these two elements.  A perpetrator has to want to abuse, and there needs to be a victim in proximity” (Not Marked  pg. 223).

She goes on to share several suggestions that may help parents protect their children, “while still letting them be children” (pg. 226).

#1) Know Your Child–

“The best defense in protecting your kids is knowing them well.  Know their nuances; become a student of their behavior…If your child has a sudden shift in behavior, take it seriously” (pgs. 226-227).
Mary goes on to list many common symptoms of sexual abuse that a parent should take note of.

#2) Be Vigilant But Not Immobilized–

“Be cautious about adults seeking alone time with your child.  Watch your children and who they hang out with…Remember that abusers seldom look like criminals…(but) don’t become so immobilized that you never let your kids be kids.  You don’t want to raise fear-based kids (pgs. 227-228).

#3) Teach Your Kids About Sex–

” …you’ll need to talk about sex with your kids at an early age– in an age appropriate manner…The more comfortable you are talking about it, the more comfortable your kids will be in bringing you any concerns” (pgs. 228-229).

#4) Entrust Your Kids To Jesus–

“Although I have warned (my kids) about stranger danger and how to flee, and we’ve talked about inappropriate touch, I have also learned to entrust my kids to Jesus…We can lean toward controlling our kids, micromanaging their worlds.  While we should protect our kids, we’re also role models, demonstrating a life lived in adventure, not fear” (pgs. 229-230).

#5) Our Greatest Gift–

“The greatest gift we can give our kids is our relationship with Jesus, modeling to them what we do when we’re injured or hurt.  Our own willingness to run to Him with our pain will show our kids how to work through their own difficulties as they grow up.  Contagious family life is not about appearing perfect,…It’s about a bunch of messy people living together, broken, but running to Jesus to find help” (pg. 231).

As we read these words and consider this heartache…

Some of us are processing as parents wanting to protect children.
Or friends wanting to come alongside those we care about.
Or spouses who daily watch a loved one struggle through the aftermath of sexual abuse.
But many reading right now, have experienced these wounds personally.

If you are reading this today, a victim of sexual abuse, my heart breaks over your pain and heartache.
I am so sorry.

I’d like to share with you Mary’s Prayer for a Sexual Abuse Victim.
And if we can pray for you today, we’d like to do that.

We’d also like to share 3 copies of Not Marked with our readers.
We are praying this book can be a source of encouragement and hope.
In it, Mary doesn’t gloss over the pain and struggle, she doesn’t minimize the heartache, but she offers real suggestions (not platitudes) for healing and progress and she proclaims the freedom of living– not marked, but with true hope.

“For we are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” ~Eph. 2:10 NLT

With Love,
Kara @ The Chuppies

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Take Back Your Emotions

My youngest son has an amazing laugh.

Everyone who hears it smiles big and tells us the same thing, “he’s incredible!” and I nod my head in agreement, because he is. The only problem is that his laugh drives me batty…well, sometimes.

Take Back Your Emotions

Big Laughs in Small Spaces

As a raging introvert, the hardest part about raising two of “those boys” (the ones who are 250% boy?) is the constant “boy noise,” especially when it’s in small spaces. I’m convinced that if we lived on 2+ acres of farm land in the country, their noise wouldn’t be a problem. I could simply scoot them out the door after school and let them be little boys. Unfortunately, we live on less than half an acre right on the outskirts of our city. We have one semi-climbable tree, and neighbors who we think like us in spite of the high decibels coming from our home—but we do not have room for our  boys to run and be as loud as they’d like.

I long for this (LONG for it, I say) kind of life for my boys. I want them to run, fall, scrape their knees, build things from scratch, and learn to “rough it.” And in spite of our close quarters, I do try to stoke their creative little boy fires as much as possible.

However…

My little rough and tumble boys are also fiddlers. Every week we drive almost four hours round trip to take them to violin lessons with the best instructor we can afford, because they have a gift and find great pleasure in playing this instrument. For the first hour or so of the trip, things are usually fine, but just give it enough time and the “big laugh in small spaces phenomenon,” as we’ve come to call it, creeps out and starts to drive mama crazy.

My little guy, who others see as simply amazing, starts to sound like a hyena on crack…or at least it sounds that way to me.

I’ve asked, begged, threatened discipline, explained why it’s so important to me as the driver that he keep it down, pulled over, driven faster, and thought seriously about never getting in another car with this kid for the rest of my life…but nothing works (obviously…he’s six…I have a few more years before I can actually refuse to get in the car with him).

If it were only a matter of time spent in the car, I would probably be OK. But over time, an immediate physical and emotional response started to occur in me at the sound of his laughter whether we were in the car or not, and I found myself completely unable to tolerate his laughter on any level.

Not good.

I was so annoyed by my son’s inability to control the power of his laugh, that I was punishing him for even having one. 

Imagine that…punishing a child for laughing. Possibly one of my finest mothering moments. Most certainly one of the things my son will tell his wife one day to explain why he’s so messed up.

Don’t get me wrong, my son needs to learn how to control himself in confined areas so he doesn’t drive everyone in his life crazy—we’ll keep working on that—but his amazing laugh brought me an opportunity for growth too, and for that, I’m ever so thankful.

How to Take Back Your Emotions

In my eBook, How to Control Your Emotions, So They Don’t Control You: A Mom’s Guide to OvercomingI share another story that illustrates this immediate physical and emotional response. Maybe you can relate?

One particular day, my boys were filled with disobedience and hard hearts. As I sat in my driveway watching them play basketball like crazy men—disrespecting each other, and disrespecting our neighbor’s basketball goal—I felt my emotions begin to run away. I started off embarrassed by their behavior. Then I got mad because it was what seemed like the millionth time I had asked them to obey with no apparent response. Anger moved into frustration because sometimes it just feels like nothing ever changes around here. Frustration led to feeling completely overwhelmed by my own inability to change their hearts. And finally, feeling overwhelmed moved to straight hopelessness and a desire to just. give. up. In a matter of about two minutes I went from 0 to 10 on the emoto-meter (you know, the one that measures when mama’s going to snap??), and ended the day feeling like a total failure as a mom.

Clearly, I have a pattern of letting my emotions run away from me. 

Because we struggled so much to gain control of our son’s amazing laugh, I couldn’t even hear him be happy without wanting to explode. But just because I want to explode doesn’t mean I have to. With God’s help, I can control my emotions instead of letting them control me, and re-train myself to take delight in the laughter of my own child.

So can you. 

In How to Control Your Emotions, I outline a clear, step-by-step process for submitting your emotions to the authority of the Word of God. It’s a short, practical, highly usable, biblical resource that equips you with information you can put into place Right. Now. to start seeing a difference in your heart.

qHow to Control Your Emotions by Brooke McGlothlin

Because our series this month at The Better Mom is all about going from grouchy to great, we thought it would be fun to give away five PDF copies of How to Control Your Emotions. Just leave a comment below sharing one way you struggle to control your emotions in this area to enter!

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Brooke McGlothlin is co-founder of Raising Boys Ministries (the MOB Society) and author of the newly released Praying for Boys: Asking God for the Things They Need Most.

This post is part of the month-long challenge From Grouchy…To Great.  Please check the series page for all of the posts! 

From Grouchy…To Great

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