Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Surprised by a Ragamuffin

Today, I managed to steal away some time to watch a movie on the life of Christian music star Rich Mullins. It was not what I expected. I, of course, have heard and sung many of Mullins' hits over the years. "Our God is an awesome God," is a classic hit that at least three generations of youth group teens have sung. However, I did not know much about the development of Christian music genre and the influence of Mullins.

It turns out, Mullins was both a renegade and a ragamuffin. Music spoke to him at a young age and helped take him away from a troubled relationship with his dad. But it took years for him to find the peace he was looking for. Along the way, he challenged the way Christians lived out their faith and he went against the establishment in Nashville to try to stay true to his faith and music. 

Mullins' faith was inspired by St. Francis. He simply wanted to love as Jesus loved. Yet, he had a hard time receiving love in return. Mullins made millions but only lived on an average persons wages giving the rest to charity. He was a vagabond, troubled with self-worth issues and alcoholism, wondering and searching and still reached millions with a message of love and salvation. He was taken from us by a tragic accident but his music and art live on.

The movie is narrated from the viewpoint of Mullins. His story is a good reminder that God doesn't call the equipped, he equips the called. It challenges each of us to continue searching and seeking, in the midst of pain and confusion, to understand and accept the love of God in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Even in our brokenness, God can work through us to help others in profound ways.

The DVD was releases this week at retailers nationwide. I was given a copy of the new DVD  for my review. I was also given a copy to giveaway on my blog. Comment below with your favorite Rich Mullins song to be entered into a drawing for the DVD.

Where to Buy
Consider buying one DVD for yourself and giving one away to a Ragamuffin in your life at

About the Film:
RAGAMUFFIN is based on the life of Rich Mullins, a musical prodigy who rose to Christian music fame and fortune only to walk away and live on a Navajo reservation. An artistic genius, raised on a tree farm in Indiana by a callous father, Rich wrestled all of his life with the brokenness and crippling insecurity born of his childhood. A lover of Jesus and a rebel in the church, Rich refused to let his struggles with his own darkness tear him away from a God he was determined to love. As he struggled with success in Nashville and depression in Wichita, Rich desired most of all to live a life of honest and reckless faith amidst a culture of religion and conformity.

About Rich Mullins:
Singer and songwriter Richard Wayne “Rich” Mullins was best known for his worship song “Awesome God” which has been embraced as modern classics by many Christians. His music has been covered by many artists, including Caedmon’s Call, Amy Grant, Jars of Clay, Michael W. Smith, Third Day, John Tesh, and Hillsong United. Mullins’ musical career formally began with Zion Ministries in the late 1970s, where he wrote music and performed with a band called Zion.  Mullins first solo hit, “Awesome God,” appeared on his third album and brought his music to a wider audience. Rich Mullins was inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Gospel Music Association (GMA) on April 29, 2014.

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Care and Keeping of your Soul

We spend so much time working on physical wellness, educational pursuits and relationship development, but how often do we consider the condition of our soul? After all, it is all we will be left with when we die. Shouldn't we be sure it is cultivated and cared for?

What is a soul exactly?
How do you care for it?
What does the soul desire?
What are the best ways to meet those desire and what ways should be wary of?
What happens when our soul is in darkness?

These are the questions best selling author and pastor John Ortberg address in
his newest book Soul Keeping: Caring for the most important part of you. Influenced by the teachings on spiritual formation by Dallas Willard, Ortberg organizes his reflections into three segments: What the Soul Is, What the Soul Needs, and The Soul Restored. The second section offers direction for building soul wellness through rest, worship, freedom, blessing, satisfaction and gratitude with scriptural examples of key concepts.

One of my favorite chapters is The Soul Needs Blessing. Ortberg quotes Willard saying there are two great words in the Bible that describe the posture of our souls toward other people. One is to bless. The other is to curse. In every encounter with people, we will will what is good for them, or we will will what is bad. We are highly aware of our souls being blessed or cursed in our interactions with others. We are sensitive to this because our souls were made to be blessed.

Blessing is the projection of good into the life of another. We must think it, feel it, and will it. We communicate it with our words and bodies. Blessing is done by the soul.

Ortberg describes "soul love." It is a love I desire and one I want to give others. To love someone with your soul means your will, your choices, your mind, your thoughts, your feelings,  your body, your behaviors, and your habits are aligned for the good of their entire bring before God. 


Although a heavy topic, the book is understandable and an easy read. This is a book I will reflect on often as I try to craft a remarkable life for my family. Helping my children and husband care for their souls is of key importance. 

I want my kids to know how to get true soul satisfaction before they are tempted to try the poor substitutes this world offers. This won't likely just happen by accident. I must teach gratitude, worship, rest, blessing and mostly teach this by example. In fact, my primary job in my vocation of wife and mother is that of family soul tender. I have never thought if it that way before, but that was my key takeaway from the book. Of course, I cannot tend others' souls, unless mine is also well cared for.

The Lord bless you and keep you;The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Summer TV Review: Signed, Sealed, Delivered on Hallmark Channel

For TV lovers, summertime can be frustrating. My husband and I like to settle down and watch a show or two at night. We have several summer series we enjoy, like "Major Crimes," "Rookie Blue," and this summer's special treat "24." Unfortunately, some series don't even start until July (like our guilty pleasure "Big Brother"), long after our other favorite series have ended. We also get frustrated when new shows debut only to be cancelled two shows into it, like "Crisis." What was the point?

So I was happy to pre-review an upcoming episode of the new original series "Signed, Sealed, Delivered." Created by "Touched by An Angel's" Martha Williamson, "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" is a light and comedic drama featuring four postal detectives who track down the intended recipients of mail that for various reasons was undeliverable. The investigation of these pieces of lost mail and redirected letters and packages can result in saved lives, solved crimes, reunited loves and changed futures. 

As described on the Hallmark Channel, which runs the show on Sundays at 8 pm EST, the team includes charming Oliver O’Toole (Eric Mabius), a genius postal detective and the group’s leader; new team member, Shane McInerney (Kristin Booth), a technophile who brings 21st century sensibility to the group; free-spirited, “girl next door” Rita Haywith (Crystal Lowe) who has a photographic memory; and lovable Norman Dorman (Geoff Gustafson), a master in conventional research methods.

The team interacts in a collegial manner that is enjoyable to watch. Sort of like "Cold Case," the show focuses onsolving mysteries of the past, but instead of murder, it is mail. Any one who loves to solve a good puzzle, would enjoy this series. From the episode I saw, it is fairly family-friendly as well, but for older kids. I'm glad we now have a show to enjoy on Sunday nights this summer.

What are your favorite summer shows?

Friday, June 6, 2014

Musings from a newly converted work-from-home mom

It has been a month since I switched from being a work outside the home mom, to a work from home mom. At the same time, I simultaneously welcomed the kids home for summertime. It has been a joy and a challenge. It is an exciting time. As I embark on this next leg of my journey, I am ever mindful of my mission to craft a remarkable life for my family. This move to be more present in my home is a big step toward that. I did not realize how much I was missing my spending 10-11 hours of my day away from everyone.

Initially, I have taken on just one client for which I am working 20 hours a week. It has truly been a joy to get involved with this non profit serving people with developmental disabilities. It is a cause near and dear to my heart. I have also set aside a few hours a week toward building my business - setting up an LLC, building my website, working with my fabulous graphic designer friend to craft a visual identity, reaching out to my network.

At the same time, I want my kids to get more of me too. To accomplish that, we have set up a good schedule for our day and for our housework/chores. So far, we have been able to keep up with it pretty well. We alternate days for cleaning on different floors of the house, so everything gets hit twice a week. Laundry worked on daily, as are mealtime chores. Projects are for weekends. We are currently working on clearing out the massive overgrowth in our back yard and I hope to do a bathroom/laundry refresh this summer as well.

Our daily schedule begins around 6:30 am with some quiet time for me and a little screen time for whomever has woken up. After breakfast, between 7:00 - 8:00, we launch into daily chores, learning time and active playtime. After lunch, we have quiet/nap/reading time. I work full eight-hour days on Mondays and Thursdays (my husband is home with the kids) and from 9-noon and 1:30-3:30 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays while the kids are having quiet time. While I am working in the morning, my oldest facilitates learning time and active play with my little ones. We try to hit the pool or do something fun together from 4:00 until dinner time. I aim to take Fridays off

I also try to include an outing several times a week such as the pool, park or library. Occasionally, we will do a big outing such as the Children's Musuem of Atlanta or Lake Lanier. Additionally, we have day camp, VBS, sleep away camp for my older one, and dance camps on the schedule. If we are able, we will take trips to Savannah and Saratoga. 

We have already planted flowers, gone to the pool, went to story time at the library, made some crafts and had plenty of cuddles and giggles. This promises to a full, fun summer! 

Friday, May 23, 2014

What do working moms and frogs have in common?

How do you boil a frog? If you put him in boiling water, he will jump out. But if you put him in a pot of water and then slowly turn up the gas, he will doze off until death. Well, being a working mom, is kind of like being that unknowing frog.

I have been a work out-of-the-home mom for almost 13 years. Except for work from home Fridays, and a brief period in which I worked in a virtual office, I have worked in a traditional office in the fast-paced field of public relations. I have been fairly successful, working at a nice firm that has great perks, got to travel to amazing places and serve clients who are making a difference in the world. At the same time, my precious family has grown and I have been involved at school, with Girl Scouts, advocating for my son and volunteering. It easy to think I have been doing all right. It's easy to be fooled. 

You see, as I had more babies, it got more difficult. Traffic has always been an issue, there have been times I traveled two hours each way to and from work, for many years it was at least one hour each way. When I moved to our current neighborhood, my commute was cut to 20-30 minutes each way. With this new found convenience, it was easy to fool myself into thinking I had it all together. That this "extra" time was put toward my family, but I still didn't make it home much before seven. My husband and I played tag team with house and kid responsibilities to juggle responsibilities at our two jobs.

I was missing my family, my life. We were just barely getting by and I didn't see it.

As a working mom I jumped into that pot of water. Each year, as I had more children, took on more responsibility at work, got involved at the school and in extracurriculars, the pot of water got warmer and warmer. I was unknowingly existing in a constant state of stress - boiling. Yet, somehow I was so used to it, it seemed normal. 

Sometimes, it takes being plucked out of the pot to fully realize all the stress that was bubbling up underneath you all along.

That is what happened to me. I was simmering in the pot and was given an opportunity to jump out. I'm beginning a new career as a work from home mom, an entrepreneur. I'm starting my own communications firm and I signed my first client today! 

Now I know working from home and launching my own business will bring its own stress, especially since I'm launching just as summer takes off. However, I've already had a glimpse at how being present and available can positively affect my whole family. It's an incredibly exciting road ahead that is God's design, not my plan. It came together unexpectedly and clearly with God's fingerprint all over it and I'm excited to be on this journey.

Being a mom, whether you stay at home, work from home or work out of the home, will always be a balancing act. Dear moms, don't let the stress lull you into such a numbness that you get boiled like the frog, listen to that still small voice that tells you there is another path, wake up and jump out so you can be all you were designed to be.  

Monday, May 19, 2014

Embracing Change

One thing that I know for sure: change is constant. It seems that whenever I get a handle on where I am, something happens to move me some place else. Perhaps God is trying to teach me something. Either I am a quick learner, so he keeps teaching me more and more, or I am thick headed and I can't quite get the lesson. It's most likely the latter.

When I was younger, I had to have everything planned out ahead of time. I did not react well when things did not go according to plan. I thought I could control everything. As I grew older, I came to realize there is actually very little that I do control. It has taken a lot of "character building" for me to loosen my grip on control and learn how to react to the unexpected in life.

Sometimes the reason for the change is a heartbreak or disappointment; sometimes it is caused by a transition in life; other times it seemingly happens for no reason at all. But I truly believe there is a master plan. God is involved in all of it and I have learned to lean on Him and trust that he has plans to prosper and not harm me, to give me a hope and a future.

So, I lean in to the change.

Now, when something happens that is outside of my plan, I take a deep breath and step back. I look at the situation and ask myself a few questions:

  • What are the immediate effects of this change?
  • What are the challenges and what are the opportunities?
  • Why did this happen now? 
  • What role did I have in it? 
  • What could I have done differently?
  • What is God trying to teach me or tell me through this?
  • How should I respond?
  • What are our next steps?

Then, I pray and lift all of these questions and answers up to God. I pray and then I wait. I trust that whatever is ahead of me is better than what is behind me and that there is a purpose in every challenge.

How do you embrace the change in your life?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Why every mom needs a night out

This weekend marks the opening weekend of a movie I've been dying for all my mom friends to go see - Mom's Night Out. Starring Sara Drew (Grey's Anatomy), Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond), Sean Austin (Rudy, Goonies) and country singer Trace Atkins, Mom's Night Out is a hilarious and uplifting look at the struggles us mom face while trying to be everything to everybody. 

I was lucky enough to see previews of the movie at two conferences I attended last year and then my husband and I went to a full screening earlier this year. From the opening scene, I totally related to the character played by Sara Drew. As she stood in the church bathroom about to lose it and fighting with the automatic towel dispenser, I whispered this could be me.

To regain her sanity Alison, played by Drew, decides she needs a night out and recruits two friends who also could use a break (one is played by Patricia Heaton). What follows is a comical take of mishap and good intentions resulting in a powerful lesson all mom's should hear.

A surprising highlight in the film is Bones, the character played by Trace Atkins. A tough guy with a soft side he leads a thrilling rescue and speaks truth into these ladies lives. 

Mom's night out is a perfect choice for a girl's night or even a date night. My husband truly enjoyed it and there is plenty of action in there for the guys. I hope you will join me in supporting the film on its opening weekend. Check here for a theater that is playing it near you and enjoy this preview below.