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

One Word That Changed My Marriage {and balanced it for the better}

changed-my-marriageI recently wrote an article about a unique situation I am encountering in my marriage. It has been such a striking experience for me, I wanted to share my discoveries with other wives.  Even with such a short life span of a little over a week, that specific article has become my most popular blog post to-date.  The title may be catching, but my hope is that wives really capture the message I am sharing and the impact a single word can have on marriage.

You can read that article by clicking the title linked here: 

Why I Stopped Saying No To My Husband And Why You Should Too

The one word that has changed my marriage is “No.”  I never realized just how often I tell my husband no.  Whether it is a simple little task or an invitation to cultivate sexual intimacy

I decline, I refuse, I push away, I justify, I just say no…

Most of the time this powerful word slips out quicker than I actually think about the request or invitation. I just respond. I am a busy woman, a busy wife, a busy mom…but sometimes I use my “busy” life to justify why I don’t want to do something.  However, if I am not intentional about balancing my emotions and how I feel from one moment to the next my marriage will suffer…my marriage has suffered.  And if my marriage suffers, so does the whole family.

I never knew the negative impact that word was making on my marriage, until The Lord ask me to stop saying it. Avoiding the word no has been incredibly challenging and extremely difficult. I constantly fail and I am constantly praying for God to transform this part of my heart.

Since my commitment to stop saying no, my husband told me he feels more respected.  I never knew I was disrespecting him.  He also told me he feels like I am much more nice and easier to talk to.  I never knew I was being mean or cold.  He also explained that our overall marriage has seemingly improved as well as our sexual intimacy.  My eyes have been opened.  My heart understands.

I desire to be a “Yes Wife!”  I want to be a wife who supports and helps her husband when he makes requests and I want to be a wife willing to join in the adventure of marriage and the amazing opportunities we have in life.

God has also been showing me how my response towards my husband influences my child.  The more my son matures, the more he will express the behavior he has learned by watching Mommy and Daddy.  My desire for my son is to learn how to use the word no at appropriate times and not just as a response to use towards his parents, his friends, or eventually if he marries, his wife.  I want him to learn the power and love wrapped up in the word YES! Because love does!

Although this has been a difficult area for me to change, I really appreciate the fact God asked me to change.  I value His leadership because it is not only wise, but by intentionally balancing my emotions, my desires, and my responses towards my husband it is tremendously blessing my marriage.  I want to extend the same challenge to you, especially if you are a wife like me that struggles with laziness, selfishness, and hates being inconvenienced.  I challenge you to be a YES WIFE and to bring balance to your marriage by stop saying the word “no” to your husband!  And watch how this one word has the power to change your marriage and balance it for the better!

Ready. Set. Go!

- Jennifer Smith 

**Also, I invite you to please join me and over 9,000 women as we go through Wife After God together during the month of April! Details can be found 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.



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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Why I Don’t Have a BFF {And Why I Think You Shouldn’t Either}

why i don't have a bff

The three of us walked together in hallways during pass periods, played together on monkey bars at recess, whispered together about super hard spelling tests, rode the bus together after school every day.

Together.  We did everything together.

Until one day, my one friend murmured to my other friend, “You’re my best friend forever! You’re my BFF!”

And just like that, I became lesser and peripheral and secondary.

Just like that, my friendship with both girls stalled out and stagnated.

To be fair, I was in fourth grade at the time and hardly knew my way around any relationship, let alone the complicated web of a three-friend triangle of girls. But my-oh-my… the sting of that young exclusion resonates even today.

Because if that girl was the best friend, where did that leave me, the other friend?

I’m older, now, and hopefully wiser. But if I’m completely honest, the idea of BFFs still rubs me raw.

As a matter of fact, I don’t have a BFF, I don’t want a BFF, and – aside from Jesus and your spouse – I really don’t think you should have a BFF either.

Now before you tar and feather me in your comments below, please don’t misunderstand me.  I am FOR friendship.  I am 100% certain that God wants us to have friends, people with whom we can “do life” and grow spiritually.

But while I’m all about friendship, I just don’t get the idea of best friends forever.  To single out any one girlfriend as my “bestie” means, by definition, to (unwittingly) exclude many beautiful women who speak (or may speak) volumes into my world.

Some may reject my angst as a petty argument about semantics saying that to call someone a “BFF” is merely a term of endearment indicating the existence of a special relationship. In fact, some people might contend that they have many BFFs, and therefore no one person is exclusive (or excluded).

But I would argue that bearing the title BFF means not only that you have a special relationship with a person, but also that you hold the best (i.e. finest, unparalleled, matchless, highest-quality, ideal) position of friendship to that person.

At least that’s the perception.

So when I hear another woman tell me about her BFF, it immediately makes me question my relationship with her. It makes me feel like that fourth-grader all over again wondering… if that other woman is the best friend, where does that leave me?

I am not saying that we shouldn’t have close friends with whom we share the more intimate details of our journeys. I am not saying that some friendships aren’t naturally “deeper” than others.

I am saying that I don’t think it’s particularly healthy to single out one other woman as a best friend and then broadcast her “special status” to the world.

Instead, could we affirm our dear friends with descriptions that don’t make others feel alienated?

Could we say she is one of my closest friends or she is a gift from God who has spoken truth to my heart or I thank God for her because she has walked with me through hard times?

To those of you who have BFFs (some of whom I count as close friends): please know that I hold no ill will toward you.  As a lover of words, my hope is merely to suggest that the term “BFF” may not emanate an entirely positive perception for everyone and may (innocently) ostracize other women.

Perhaps this post could be a friendly discussion starter? Maybe together we could be the picture of Proverbs 27:17?

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. (NLT)

Learning along with you,


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