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May 10, 2013

ImageProxyServletWelcome to Pearl Girls™ Mother of Pearl Mother’s Day blog series—a nine-day celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today’s best writers (Tricia Goyer, Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, Beth Vogt, Lesli Westfall, and more). I hope you’ll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother’s Day.

AND . . . do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful handcrafted pearl necklace and a JOYN India bag. Enter at the bottom of this post. The contest runs 5/4-5/13, and the winner will be announced on 5/14. Contest is only open to U.S. residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info, subscribe to our blog, and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl: Luminous Lessons and Iridescent Faith to help support Pearl Girls™.


And to all you MOMS out there, Happy Mother’s Day!
~

History has a Way of Repeating Itself by Tricia Goyer

Forty years ago a single, young woman was about to give birth. She didn’t know how she could afford a child without her parents’ help. She hadn’t talked to her former boyfriend in months. She had no idea how to reach him, how to tell him she was having his child.

This young woman attended church some, yet her dialogue with God was stilted. How could God let this happen to her? What would her life be like now? A baby girl was born, and upon holding her child this young lady knew things would be okay. Perhaps this baby was a gift, not a burden as she supposed.

This woman raised her daughter the best she could, and while she wanted to give her child more than she had . . . history has a way of repeating itself. When the daughter became a young woman, she found herself in the same situation—living at home, pregnant and scared.

The daughter knew she could raise this child. After all, her mom had done it. But what would her life be like? How could God let this happen to her?

If you haven’t guessed already. I was the daughter born to a single mom and as a teenager became a single mom myself. At age 17, God gave me a son. My boyfriend was out of the picture, and I faced raising a child alone with little education, no money and, maybe according to the world, little hope for my future.

Now if you take this story at face value, I am nothing more than a statistic. According to government research, most daughters of young mothers will be teen mothers themselves. They face lives of hardship, living on welfare for the most part — becoming a burden rather than an asset to society.
 
Yet, I am not a statistic. Why? Because God doesn’t do them.

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As a 17-year-old pregnant teenager I prayed a simple prayer, “God, I have messed up my life big time. If you can do anything with it, please do.” I dedicated my life and my heart to him and things changed. I had hope in my heart and I started walking God’s way. God brought an amazing, Christian man into my life. John was a wonderful husband and a father to my son. When I had a daughter and another one on the way, God did something else unexpected. He gave me the desire to write books.

This Mother’s Day, my heart is filled with thanksgiving. I’m thankful for my mother who chose life for me. I’m thankful that when I questioned my future, God gave me hope.
 
History has a way of repeating itself in families, but even more important that our history of mess-ups is God’s history of setting things right. God has a history of seeing something no one else does . . . like seeing a king in a shepherd boy named David, seeing an apostle in a young zealot named Paul, and seeing a mighty warrior in a frightened nobody named Gideon. God’s X-ray eyes see right through any outward characteristics or national statistics. His X-ray eyes scan down to the heart.

Where have you felt you’ve fallen short of God’s perfect plan? Trust that God’s dream is to turn a mess-up into a miracle. He’s a BIG God with BIG dreams. A God who has made an agreement with us that is eternal, final, and sealed. A God who is strong in our weakness. A God who sees the future, sees the past and has a perfect plan for me . . . and for you. It’s something we can all be thankful for.

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Tricia Goyer is a busy mom of six, grandmother of two, and wife to John. Somewhere around the hustle and bustle of family life, she manages to find the time to write fictional tales delighting and entertaining readers and non-fiction titles offering encouragement and hope. Tricia is also on the blogging team at MomLifeToday.comTheBetterMom.com and other homeschooling and Christian sites. In addition to her roles as mom, wife and author, Tricia volunteers around her community and mentors teen moms. Tricia, along with a group of friends, recently launched www.NotQuiteAmishLiving.com, sharing ideas about simplifying life. She also hosts the weekly radio podcast, Living Inspired. Learn more about Tricia at www.triciagoyer.com.

 
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By: Heather Ivester in: Christian Living,Faith,Family,Motherhood,Parenting | Permalink | Comments Off on DAY 6 – History Has a Way of Repeating Itself by Tricia Goyer



May 8, 2013

ImageProxyServletWelcome to Pearl Girls™ Mother of Pearl Mother’s Day blog series—a nine-day celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today’s best writers (Tricia Goyer, Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, Beth Vogt, Lesli Westfall, and more). I hope you’ll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother’s Day.
 
AND . . . do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful handcrafted pearl necklace and a JOYN India bag. Enter at the bottom of this post. The contest runs 5/4-5/13, and the winner will be announced on 5/14. Contest is only open to U.S. residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info, subscribe to our blog, and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl: Luminous Lessons and Iridescent Faith to help support Pearl Girls™.


And to all you MOMS out there, Happy Mother’s Day!
~

Water Spot Mothering by Cynthia Ruchti

For years, a friend and I met weekly for prayer and Bible study. More than twenty years older, Jackie often prayed for her high school children while I prayed for my toddler children who were supposed to be napping.
 
As any mother will attest, when we get serious about praying for our children, we can find plenty to pray about.

Jackie and I often laid our Bibles in front of us, open on the table. The day I learned the meaning of water spot mothering, Jackie and I had prayed intensely for our children and their wide variety of crises—large and small. We prayed about their uncertain futures and the certainty that God loved them even more than we did. Tears formed, unbidden, as we poured our hearts out to God.

A series of whispers from the stairway told me my children had found dozens of ways to bypass their naps. But they’d grown to respect the time I prayed with my friend. Even at their young ages, they waited patiently for the “Amen” before interrupting.

When Jackie left and life pulled me into other things, my Bible remained open on the dining room table. I walked through the room a short time later to find my four-year-old daughter Amy kneeling on a chair, tenderly flipping through the pages of my Bible. I knew she was unable to read more than the simplest words on the page, so I asked, “Amy, what are you doing, honey?”

Her answer resonates now, decades later. She said, “I’m looking for the tears.”


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She knew I’d prayed for her. Finding the water spots, the tear stains, meant something to her young heart. She wanted to see evidence that my prayers for her had moved me to tears.

How triple true that would be through her teen years! We were just getting started on the water spot mothering concept.

I’ve relived that scene many times since that afternoon. My daughter bent over my Bible, her tiny hands turning the pages reverently, her eyes searching for a wrinkle in the page, looking for the assurance that I cared so deeply, prayed so fervently, and wasn’t afraid to let the tears fall on the sustaining resource for parenting and all of life—God’s Word.
 
Water spot mothering. Praying with the Bible open. Letting the tears fall on the pages.

I wear the picture of my daughter kneeling on the chair, bent over my Bible, close to my heart, like a silver locket I click open to remind me of my primary responsibility as her mom…even now.

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Cynthia Ruchti_green_couch

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories of Hope-that-glows-in-the-dark through her fiction, nonfiction, and speaking events for women or for writers. Her recent release—the novel, When the Morning Glory Blooms, observes the heart-and-faith journeys of three eras of unwed moms. Her July release—the nonfiction book Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People’s Choices—touches on life circumstances that send us to tear-hemmed prayer for those we love. Connect with her at www.cynthiaruchti.com, Facebook, Twitter, or other network spots.

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By: Heather Ivester in: Christian Living,Family,Motherhood,Parenting | Permalink | Comments Off on DAY 4 – Water Spot Mothering by Cynthia Ruchti



May 6, 2013

ImageProxyServletWelcome to Pearl Girls™ Mother of Pearl Mother’s Day blog series—a nine-day celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today’s best writers (Tricia Goyer, Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, Beth Vogt, Lesli Westfall, and more). I hope you’ll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother’s Day.

AND . . . do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful handcrafted pearl necklace and a JOYN India bag. Enter at the bottom of this post. The contest runs 5/4-5/13, and the winner will be announced on 5/14. Contest is only open to U.S. residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info, subscribe to our blog, and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl: Luminous Lessons and Iridescent Faith to help support Pearl Girls™.

And to all you MOMS out there, Happy Mother’s Day!
~

The Mom Who Gives Freedom by Christy Fitzwater

My mom is a reserved, quiet homebody who has lived in the same house for forty years. She has no ambitious career goals or desire for adventure.

She gave birth to me, an outgoing adventure-lover who has lived to take risks and put myself out into the world, in ways my mother would never dream of doing herself.

Yet my mother has always given me the great gift of freedom. She has never cast onto me her own fears of limelight or reservations about risk but has only encouraged me to do the outrageous things I have attempted to do.

When I received an award in high school that required me to fly, for the first time and by myself, from Wyoming to Atlanta, Georgia (only having talked once by telephone to the person who would pick me up), she sent me off with enthusiasm. (But her heart must have trembled to allow me to get on that plane.)

When that award landed me a full scholarship to a school in Texas I had never heard of (the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor), she rejoiced with me and did not hesitate to allow me to accept the scholarship. She then drove away from me in Texas, leaving me at a school where I knew no one, and only years later told me that was the hardest thing she had ever done.

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When I called from Texas, at the end of my freshman year, and excitedly announced I had gotten a job and would be staying in Texas for the summer, she said it was wonderful and gave her approval.

Mom never filled me with doubt about what I could do. She never cast guilt on me for going on adventures that took me far away from her. She never poured her anxiety on my head but spoke only happiness and cheerleader words for me.

But now that I’m a mom, I know.

I know my risk-taking journey has always cost her something. I know every wild ride I chose required her to choose—either to build me up or to press me down. My mom handed me the scissors and, with a smile, allowed me to cut the apron strings and go far beyond what was comfortable for her.

This last week my son got his driver’s license, and now it is my turn to choose. Worry or a hearty smile—which will I give to him?

Let us stand in ovation to the mothers who give their children the ability to live freely.

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christyfitzwaterChristy Fitzwater is a writer and pastor’s wife in Kalispell, Montana. She is also the mother of a daughter in college and a son in high school. She has an English degree from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. Visit her at http://www.christyfitzwater.com.

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By: Heather Ivester in: Motherhood,Parenting | Permalink | Comments Off on DAY 2 – The Mom Who Gives Freedom by Christy Fitzwater



May 5, 2013

ImageProxyServletWelcome to Pearl Girls™ Mother of Pearl Mother’s Day blog series—a nine-day celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today’s best writers (Tricia Goyer, Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, Beth Vogt, Lesli Westfall, and more). I hope you’ll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother’s Day.

AND . . . do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful handcrafted pearl necklace and a JOYN India bag. Enter at the bottom of this post. The contest runs 5/4-5/13, and the winner will be announced on 5/14. Contest is only open to U.S. residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info, subscribe to our blog, and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl: Luminous Lessons and Iridescent Faith to help support Pearl Girls™.


And to all you MOMS out there, Happy Mother’s Day!
~

How I Learned to Give Up Control by Sue Edwards

I’m one of those mothers who would like to control everything in my children’s lives. You may be too, all out of the best intentions. I tried frantically to do that for many years until God grabbed my attention and wrestled my control issues from my clenched fists. It happened this way.

My youngest daughter attended a large university where campus housing was at a premium. Her second year she was accepted into one of the nicest dorms on campus, but the rule was that you could either choose the room or the roommate of your choice but not both. Well, I had heard horror stories of what happened when you roomed with some girls–like men in the room, and I turned into mother bear. I was not going to allow my child to take pot luck in roommates, nor were we willing to give up that choice room.

I had heard that if your child had a learning disability they would ditch the rule. So I decided to make my case with the administrator who could fix this unfair situation. All week, I was on the phone long distance climbing my way up the ladder to the gentleman who could give my daughter the room and roommate she deserved.

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And finally, I was on the phone with him. We talked for a few minutes, and then he asked me, “Does your daughter have a learning disability?” I answered rather indignantly, “Well, I prefer not to label people.” That did it. He bought it. I had done the impossible. I called my daughter, she turned cart wheels on the other end of the phone, and we rejoiced together.

Only the roommate she had chosen, the dear Christian girl from her church, did not turn out to be the roommate she expected. In fact, she did have men in the room, a lot. And she went home at Christmas under suspicious circumstances. All fall I had to endure calls from my daughter who was trying to figure out how to navigate this awkward situation. And it was my fault. Some of us are stubborn and God needs a two by four to get our attention, and break us of our control issues. This was that time for me, and for my daughter. Now, when we are tempted to take control instead of trusting God, we look at each other, remember, smile, and let go.

God knows what he is doing in your life, my life, and the lives of our children. And he loves our children more than we do, as impossible as that may sound. So trust him, follow him. Two by fours are rather painful. You won’t regret trusting your Sovereign Father who has your, and your children’s, best interest at heart.

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sueedwardsDr. Sue Edwards has over thirty-five years experience as a Bible teacher, overseer of ministries to women, and author. Now, as a full-time professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, she equip men and women for future ministry all over the world. And women everywhere enjoy learning the Scriptures in face to face groups as well as an online community using her Bible studies, the Discover Together Series. To join the online Bible study community or to converse with Sue, go to Facebook.com/discovertogetherseries. She is currently working on a book with Barbara Neumann on mentoring millennials. Married for forty years, she and David are the parents of two married daughters and the grandparents of five.

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By: Heather Ivester in: Christian Living,Motherhood,Parenting | Permalink | Comments Off on DAY 1 – How I Learned to Give Up Control by Sue Edwards



January 9, 2013

Susan Alexander Yates

I’m posting a link here to a fantastic MomLife article by one of my all-time favorite parenting authors, Susan Alexander Yates. Her book, And Then I Had Kids, was my “Bible” of parenting 16 years ago, when my oldest son was born. I love her writing so much, I once wrote her a letter of gratitude, and she handwrote me a note back!

Susan raised five of her own children (all educated through public schools in Virginia), and now she’s enjoying her 21 grandchildren. She continues to write amazing books and articles like this one, When Your Child Says, “There’s Nothing to Do.”

By: Heather Ivester in: Christian Living,Family,Motherhood,Parenting | Permalink | Comments Off on Why Children Don’t Need to Be Constantly Entertained, by Susan Alexander Yates



December 25, 2012

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!

Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.

We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items (books, a gift pack, music CDs) from the contributors! Enter now on Facebook or at the Pearl Girls blog. The winner will announced on January 2, 2013 at the Pearl Girls blog.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl, Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***

Does It Even Matter?

By Tracey Eyster

Every day, day after day, for twenty years I have been immersed in the task of mothering. No one told me before I was handed that swaddled bundle how all-consuming the role of motherhood was going to be, or how my heart would be forever altered.

My heart is swollen from the love that has grown there. A deep love that’s swelling has come at a cost.

The cost of daily dying to self as I choose to serve the needs of my children and my husband—to grow a family with the end in mind.

Thankfully I was taught by those older and wiser than me that the building of image-bearing children requires intentionality and purpose by two loving, connected parents who are willing to work together for God’s purposes.

Even when we don’t know the outcome or exact purpose God has in mind for our children—our willingness to put in the hours and to be yielded to His direction is our gift to the Father.

This Christmas I have had a new and odd wondering that I have been contemplating, a question that has never before occurred to me.

Who built the manger?

Did he think the task was too menial?

Was he weary and tired from the task?

Did he want to build something more grand?

Did he dream of working in a way that would bring him glory and attention?

Did he wrestle with the assumption that what he was putting his time and effort into was not for a grand purpose?

How could he know the plans God had for that little manger?

The Savior of the world was going to rest there and do great things.

Psst . . . Mom, do you see it?

The Savior of the world has the potential to rest within that which you are building . . . to do great things.

Take care to put your time, talents, and energy into building well.

***

Tracey Eyster is the happily-in-love wife of Bill and the fun-filled mom of two teens, and she is devoted to her family and is happiest when making memories with them. In 2008 she took her passion for speaking into the lives of moms and created the ministry of MomLife Today. She is passionate about momlife and is amazed at God’s blessing of allowing her first book Be The Mom to come to fruition. She enjoys connecting with moms through her personal blog at www.bethemom.com, and on Facebook or Twitter @MomBlog

By: Heather Ivester in: Christian Living,Faith,Family,Marriage,Motherhood,Parenting | Permalink | Comments Off on 12 Pearls of Christmas | Day 12 – Does it Even Matter? by Tracey Eyster



December 24, 2012

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!

Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.

We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items (books, a gift pack, music CDs) from the contributors! Enter now on Facebook or at the Pearl Girls blog. The winner will announced on January 2, 2013 at the Pearl Girls blog.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl, Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***

Just Like Mary

By Carla Anne Coroy

Mary. Amazing Mary. Mother of Jesus. We marvel at her simple, faith-filled acceptance of God’s will for her life. There’s so little written about Mary in the Bible. We know almost nothing, really, about this woman that God chose to parent His Son.

Many have speculated about the exact age of Jesus’ mother. How old was she, really? What would it have been like to be greeted by an angel—and told you would become pregnant by the Spirit of God?

I wonder about other things sometimes, though. Like if she had morning sickness, or gained a lot of weight during her pregnancy. Was she overdue, or was baby Jesus born right on time? Did she mistake Braxton Hicks contractions for the real thing before labor really started? Was it a fast labor or did Joseph have eighteen hours to get that place into birthing readiness?

Most women who have ever given birth to a child have shared pregnancy stories. Everyone’s story is unique and interesting. Surely Mary’s was, too!

Then there are the stories of potty-training and conversations on how to get the baby to sleep through the night. Did Mary bounce Jesus on her knee while sharing recipes with other young moms?

We cannot find answers for these questions in Scripture. And as interesting as it might be to share pregnancy stories with Mary over a cup of coffee (maybe in heaven?) and get her tips on potty-training, we really don’t need to know any of that to love the Son she bore.

But Mary’s example raises questions about me and my own life that get under my skin.

Am I the kind of woman God will choose to be part of His plan? Do I trust and love my God enough to give faith-filled answers like she did? If there were just a few paragraphs written of my life for future generations to read, would those words reveal a heart of willing submission to God?

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38, NIV)

God has not asked me to carry the burden of His Son in my womb. There are other burdens He is asking me, and you, to carry instead. Are we being the women He needs for the part of the plan we’re living in now? Am I saying to Jesus today, “May it be to me as you have said”?

During this Advent season, let’s prepare ourselves to be used by God, filled with faith and anticipating His grace—just like Mary.

***

Carla Anne Coroy is a Christian speaker and blogger, and the award-winning author of Married Mom, Solo Parent. She ministers to a wide audience through her website and blog at www.carlaanne.com. Carla Anne has served full-time with organizations such as Youth for Christ and Crown Financial Ministries, and is currently developing mentoring resources for women and an international mentoring organization for youth. She also serves as a staff writer for the online magazine Mentoring Moments for Christian Women and is a spokesperson for Faithbuddy.com. Carla Anne lives in Canada with her husband and four homeschooled children.

By: Heather Ivester in: Christian Living,Faith,Family,Motherhood,Parenting | Permalink | Comments Off on 12 Pearls of Christmas | Day 11 – Just Like Mary by Carla Anne Coroy



December 19, 2012

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!

Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.

We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items (books, a gift pack, music CDs) from the contributors! Enter now on Facebook or at the Pearl Girls blog. The winner will announced on January 2, 2013 at the Pearl Girls blog.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl, Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***

Year of Adversity Brings Joy

By Leslie Gould

I’ve been writing Amish fiction for nearly three years now—telling stories about non-resistant people who live a simple life. It’s a nice reprieve from my own life.

When my husband, Peter, joined the Army Reserve back in the mid 1980s, I wasn’t thrilled about it. Nor did I believe him when he said he’d probably never see action. Sure, the Cold War was ending and—for a short time—all seemed well in the world, but I had a degree in history. I knew better. I didn’t want to be a controlling wife (as new to the job as I was!) and come out and say he absolutely couldn’t do it. And it did help that he was joining a medical unit. Still I had my reservations.

We’ve been far more fortunate than many military families, but still it’s been quite a ride. The first exciting episode began in 1990 when Peter flew to Germany on Christmas Eve to work in an Army hospital during Desert Storm, leaving me behind with our two young sons. During the next twenty years, Peter went from being a Lt. to being a Col. and commanding a unit. Countless maneuvers and a mobilization occurred during that time, but his Army Reserve career culminated in his deployment to Afghanistan in 2011.

My days throughout last year were an odd combination of hearing the daily news from a war zone via Skype and then writing about the plain life of the Amish. By last December I was working on my third Amish novel of the year while, in contrast, Peter and his field hospital staff had cared for hundreds of NATO soldiers and Afghan nationals, endured ten months of rocket fire, and continued to grieve the killing of one of their own.

Surprisingly, what seemed like it might be our worst Christmas ever, even harder than in 1990, wasn’t. Our four children (one teen and three young adults now) rallied to help make it a memorable day. We counted our blessings—Peter was well, we had all we needed, and God was at work in the life of our family. The result was an underlying joy, deeper than what we’d felt during past Christmases.

In reflection, I wrote: When it started, I thought 2011 might be one of our worst years. But it hasn’t been. Sure, it’s been one of our hardest, but a lot of good has come from it.

That was evident on Christmas morning as we Skyped with Peter. We were so thankful for the good connection and for all of us to be “together” that we hardly noticed we really weren’t.

This December, Peter is back at his civilian job (as a manager for a hospital corporation) and also commanding a nearby Army Reserve unit, which means one weekend a month and plenty of evenings—but no rockets or causalities.

I’m working on a new Amish novel and still enjoying my “time” with those who practice non-resistance, which doesn’t discount the appreciation I have for my husband’s service. I’ve even grown to the place where I’m thankful he joined the military. They’ve served each other well.

Our year of adversity resulted in a deep joy. I’m pretty sure it will carry over to this Christmas as well.

***

Leslie Gould is the award-winning author of fifteen novels, including the #1 bestseller and Christy Award winner The Amish Midwife, co-written with Mindy Starns Clark. Her latest release is Courting Cate, a retelling of the “Taming of the Shrew.” Leslie lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, Peter, and their four children. www.lesliegould.com

By: Heather Ivester in: Christian Living,Faith,Family,Marriage,Motherhood,Parenting,Travel,Wellness | Permalink | Comments Off on 12 Pearls of Christmas | Day 6 – Year of Adversity Brings Joy by Leslie Gould



December 18, 2012

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!

Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.

We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items (books, a gift pack, music CDs) from the contributors! Enter now on Facebook or at the Pearl Girls blog. The winner will announced on January 2, 2013 at the Pearl Girls blog.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl, Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***

Will They Know What it Cost?

By Glynnis Whitwer

My daughter Cathrine went on a field trip to the Grand Canyon when she was in fourth grade. As I picked her up upon her return, she couldn’t wait to show me an adorable little stuffed brown bear she’d bought as a gift. She started to say that it was for everyone—meaning her three brothers and sister—but then her words got jumbled. Tears welled in her eyes as she tried to explain how she ran out of money when trying to buy gifts. Her distress was obvious.

To understand fully, it might help to know that Cathrine was born in Africa and experienced deprivation of every sort for the first eleven years of her life. At thirteen years old, she was only in fourth grade. And although she has made remarkable gains, even now she struggles with communication and math—especially money.

Later that night I finally understood what Cathrine was trying to tell me about the bear. She had taken twenty dollars of her own money to buy herself a souvenir. But before buying herself something, she wanted to buy some small gifts. So she started with two of her teachers and bought them each a small ring with the first initial of their last names. I looked at the price on the rings and realized each was $3.99. Times that by two, add tax, and Cathrine would have been left with eleven dollars for other gifts and herself.

I imagine she stood at the gift store counter bewildered by what she had just done. She was probably embarrassed to ask any of her classmates for help. And maybe the teacher wasn’t around. There she stood with just over half of her money, and three brothers and a sister left to buy for. She decided to get a group gift, and that’s where the bear came in.

Standing in our kitchen, looking at the three items she purchased, I smiled brightly and told her everyone was going to love their gifts and that she’d made wonderful purchases. She smiled back, and the night ended well.

The next morning as she wrapped up the little rings, I kept thinking about those two teachers who were going to receive a gift that day. All they would see is a little silver ring. I knew they would be very loving and appreciative. But would they truly understand the sacrifice Cathrine made?

Would they understand their gifts cost Cathrine half of what she had? Would they ever know the frustration and worry Cathrine felt as she realized she didn’t have enough to buy her family any gifts? Would they treasure those little rings, or would they put them in a drawer with gifts from other students throughout the year?

As I pondered these thoughts, I considered a gift I was given two thousand years ago: Jesus. God sent His Son into the world as a baby, knowing He would die on a cross for me. The cost of this gift staggers me.

As I decorate my tree and shop for my family, I’m reminded of what my freedom cost my Heavenly Father. Do I truly understand the sacrifice of that gift? Do I understand the anguish God the Father must have felt sending His Son? Do I treasure this gift, or do I take it for granted?

Christmas is a time for celebration. But it’s also a time to remember God’s sacrifice. For it is in understanding the cost, that we fully appreciate the gift.

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Glynnis Whitwer is an executive director with Proverbs 31 Ministries. She is one of the writers of Encouragement for Today, the Proverbs 31 e-mail devotions, with over 500,000 daily readers. Her newest book, I Used to be So Organized, was released last fall. Glynnis, her husband Tod, and their five children live in Glendale, Arizona. Visit www.GlynnisWhitwer.com for more information.

By: Heather Ivester in: Christian Living,Faith,Family,Motherhood,Parenting | Permalink | Comments Off on 12 Pearls of Christmas | Day 5 – Will They Know What It Cost? by Glynnis Whitwer



December 15, 2012

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!

Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.

We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items (books, a gift pack, music CDs) from the contributors! Enter now on Facebook or at the Pearl Girls blog. The winner will announced on January 2, 2013 at the Pearl Girls blog.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl, Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

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An Inexpensive New Christmas Tradition

By: Christy Fitzwater

I was invited to play some Christmas carols on the piano for a senior-adult luncheon, but before I got up to play they had a time for the seniors to share what they remembered as their favorite Christmas gifts.

There was talk of new bicycles, a pony, and a new dress.

Then one elderly man took the microphone and said, “An orange.” When he was young, an orange was a rare treat. As he spoke, he got choked up and had to stop talking to collect himself. He explained that his Sunday School was giving an orange for anyone who memorized a Bible verse. He tearfully described earning that delicious orange and slowly savoring every bite. When he was done eating the orange, he put the peel on the furnace so it would dry, and then he chewed on the peel.

He said with conviction, “We just don’t know how rich we are in this country.”

Christmas is usually the time when I feel broke. I tuck away money for gifts all year long, but money doesn’t go very far these days. My husband and I love to spoil our kids and try to scheme how to get them a big-ticket item. We’ve enjoyed the Christmas mornings when we’ve been able to enjoy watching our kids open such gifts as an electric guitar or an iPad.

I stopped to imagine how our whole family would feel if, on Christmas morning, the only gift under the tree was a small basket cradling an orange for each of us. I think we would feel disappointment and great loss. What would we do the rest of the morning if not consumed by opening gift after gift? Where would the focus be?

Our years of wealth make thankfulness for an orange seem ludicrous.

As I processed this man’s story, I decided what we lack at Christmas isn’t money to buy nice gifts—it’s gratitude to relish the simple treasures we enjoy every day.

This Christmas I am going to begin a new tradition for my family, and I would invite your family to do the same. I am going to place a small basket with four oranges under the tree, along with a printed copy of the man’s story of the orange. We’re going to pause at some point in the morning and each hold an orange while we read the story. And then we’re going to hold those oranges up to our noses and breathe in the fragrance God built into it, peel it slowly, and enjoy each juicy bite. And while we eat it, we’ll each speak thankfulness to the Lord for the grace He has poured into our lives.

In that moment, we’ll know how rich we are.

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Christy Fitzwater is a writer and pastor’s wife living in Kalispell, Montana. She is the mother of a daughter in college and a high-school boy. Read her personal blog at christyfitzwater.com.

By: Heather Ivester in: Christian Living,Faith,Family,Motherhood,Parenting | Permalink | Comments Off on 12 Pearls of Christmas | Day 2 – An Inexpensive New Christmas Tradition by Christy Fitzwater