Countdown to Christmas Giveaway: Books, Books and More Books!

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Made to Mother!

Welcome to M2M’s Season of Giving: Count Down to Christmas Giveaway! Just one more week until the big, blog redesign giveaway package on December 15th to celebrate Made to Mother’s 1st “blog-iversary!” Last week’s highlighted products were the ebooks, OhAmanda’s Truth in the Tinsel and Sarah Mae’s More Than Candy.

This week I’m featuring a stack of books provided by Ambassador International and Icon Media Group:

  • My Grandma’s Crazy by Beky Hunt
    This Grandma isn’t like other grandmas, she’s CRAZY! She zip lines through the jungles of Borneo, leads conga lines at weddings, and drives a sports car. And that’s not the half of it!
  • Chocolate Socks by Holly Durst
    Encouraging children to follow their dreams and not to be afraid to create new things, the author took her two favorite things, chocolate and socks and turned it into a fun adventure for a child.

ambassadorbooks

  • Colliding with Destiny by Sarah Jakes
    The Old Testament story of Ruth is full of collision—loss, heartache, poverty, even shame—but she never let her past define her. Instead, the most painful time of her life became her most pivotal, propelling her to a destiny she never imagined. See my review of this book below.
  • The Passion Translation by Brian Simmons
    Beginning with the books of Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Songs, Luke & Acts, John, Letters from Heaven (Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and 1 & 2 Timothy), and Hebrews & James, this translation is designed to shape the spirituality of a generation. Every book of the Bible is translated into an understandable form that will express the depths of the original languages in a powerful new way, revealing the original emotion behind the text.
  • Dashing Dish by Katie Farell
    Provides lists of valuable pantry, fridge and freezer items helpful for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Also includes important conversion charts and offers clean substitutes for some popular unhealthy foods, making the jump to clean eating as simple as possible.

Ambassador works with authors to create quality Christian literature of several genres—fiction, devotionals and children’s books just to name a few. Founded in 1980, Ambassador International’s vision has always been to create products that strengthen believers in their Christian walk and direct the lost to the way of salvation. Ambassador International releases more and more new titles each year including both print and ebook formats. Ambassador operates offices in the US and Northern Ireland, holds distribution partnerships on four continents and our books are in the hands of readers around the world. You can find out more information about them at Ambassador-International.com or follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Icon Media Group is a boutique firm run by a team of talented individuals who excel at media relations, strategy, public relations, branding and niche marketing. Partnering with publishers, record labels, distribution companies, retailers, film companies, authors, artists and newsmakers in many different capacities, Icon publicists have collectively produced national and local media tours and coordinated hundreds of events.  Over the years they have booked clients on network television programs like Good Morning America, TODAY, CBS This Morning, NIGHTLINE, and programs on cable networks including CNN, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, MSNBC, Comedy Central, HLN, and other regional and local television shows. Print hits have included USA TODAY, Washington Times, Washington Post, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Dallas Morning News, People and Wall Street Journal.

Colliding with Destiny: Finding Hope in the Legacy of Ruth by Sarah Jakes and published by Bethany House was an amazing read. For me it was like a cross between a powerful devotional study on the book of Ruth and having a long, heartfelt conversation with my best friend. Seriously. In short chapters digesting a few verses of Ruth at a time and including a lot of personal narrative and examples, Sarah Jakes’s words spoke to my soul, encouraging me to accept the seasons of my life in stride, be free from mistakes of the past and let go of relationships as we grow our separate ways. She wrote about the wisdom of saying no at God’s urging and giving my time to Him instead of becoming a “Jill-0f-all-trades and master of none.” I felt renewed through reading this to run the race that God has set out for ME and not to fret my mistakes and my sinful past because, “that’s the beauty of restoration- He uses what we give Him to create something divine.” And I was encouraged to be patient as I wait for the future plans he has for me, knowing that He is preparing me for what is to come and while I may feel a bit impatient waiting, it will be worth it. Finally, Sarah Jakes reminded me that I do not have to explain myself to others, that my worth is not measured in what they think of me, my accomplishments or my past. Being confident and valuable to myself is enough and that will shine. And even if my biggest dreams are not realized, it is enough that God and I know that I am being the best me I can be! Which, as Sarah Jakes so eloquently put it, “is the perfect canvas of grace.” If you cannot tell already by the Post-It flags in the pic below, I loved this book!

icon5

~~~~~

Don’t forget to stop by next week and see the launch of M2M’s new design in honor of its first “blog-iversary” and enter the giveaway package, featuring even more cool things! Want a hint? Some swag and spending cash from two of my favorite online retailers, Mary&Martha and the Root Collective and more!

All opinions are my own and aside from being given one copy of Colliding with Destiny, I received no compensation in exchange for writing this.

Advertisements

Countdown to Christmas Giveaway: Creating Wonder and Magic for a Child Through Traditions

Welcome to M2M’s Season of Giving: Count Down to Christmas Giveaway! Come back each week to catch a sneak peak of new, featured products that will be included in the big, blog redesign giveaway package on December 15th to celebrate Made to Mother’s 1st “blog-iversary!” This week’s highlighted products are BOTH ebooks, OhAmanda’s Truth in the Tinsel and 5 copies of Sarah Mae’s More Than Candy. Both are affiliate links, meaning I receive a portion of any sales clicked-through these links. Thanks for supporting Made to Mother!

~~~~~~

When I think back upon my holiday memories as a child, I remember that I loved traditions the most…Christmas Eve service as a family, with the unshakable anticipation of opening gifts after we got home in the back of my mind the entire time. Warm drinks, cozy treats and pjs while we unwrapped gifts as a family of five in our living room; the heat of our wood stove and the radiant tree lights in the backdrop for years of memories. Us kids could barely sleep that night as we waited with baited expectation for the festivities to come the next day…early morning stockings from Santa, delicious, sugary breakfast treats we rarely got any other day like cinnamon rolls, pancakes or waffles! Then, it was off to my aunt’s house for our annual Christmas party with my mom’s family, playing a gift exchange game and eating lunch. My brothers and I dragged all our new gifts and stocking snacks with us to keep us busy and as evening approached, we headed to our next destination, the best yet; grandma’s house on my father’s side. It would be dark by the time we got there and we would be the last to arrive. My uncle, aunt and our only other cousins, all adults, would be waiting for us with eggnog, a deliciously huge holiday dinner, Christmas records blasting music, and festively-wrapped packages trailing out from under the tree and down the hall. It would be late into the night when we finally piled into our family car, stuffed with food and the trunk packed with gifts and leftovers. We always fell asleep on the drive home, sugar plums and toys dancing in our heads and our hearts full of love, family and fun.

Now, many years later, with children and a home of my own, it is these special family traditions and memories that I want to surround my family with, so that one day my kids will also look back in fondness to the sounds, tastes and smells that come with this beautiful season. But there is also something else I want to instill in my children, which it never seems like my parents were able to break through to me; the importance of this season of giving, of charity and of kindness to others, mirrored in the love that came from the birth of a tiny baby so long ago. Of course, I remember my parents trying, but I was too selfish to want to think of anything else other than gifts and food and fun. How can I expect to do any better with my own kids when the television, wish book catalogs from the newspaper and all their friends in school keep shouting at us, “buy buy buy!” “Gimme Gimme Gimme!” “Me me me!!!”

I’m not completely sure if I will ever be able to compete with all of these other voices, but for right now, we are starting with where I have always found the most beauty of this season…in tradition. In addition to the shopping, food and gift customs the holidays bring, we have decided as a family to begin and continue a few other important traditions to help us remember the true “reason for the season.”

One of our favorite ways to do this is by choosing a daily devotion advent activity to do as a family through the month of December. There are some fantastic apps, books and hands-on kits out there to choose from that are more educational and spiritual than the silly little chocolate punch-holes that you find at the dollar store. Last year, we used Truth in the Tinsel (affiliate link), a crafty way to talk about Christ’s birth and the Bible throughout the whole month of December. And with it, we also got to add a whole new bunch of ornaments to our collection! We liked it so much, in fact, that I modified it to use each week of advent in our small church’s Sunday school. And now they offer a church curriculum version, too. This year, we are doing More Than Candy (affiliate link), which I love because it gives us 25 days of activities to do for others, serving in our community and showing the love of Christmas in real, tangible ways, outside of our home during the holiday season.

Another tradition I like to make sure we keep is reading the Christmas story on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. However, with children ages 7, 5 and 2 in our home, it’s not always gripping for them when we read it straight from our NIV Bible. So we like to find other creative and fun ways to hear and tell the story over and over again each year. Sometimes we read it from a children’s bible, or listen to an animated re-telling of it on an audio CD, but my favorite way is letting the kids have full creative control in sharing it. The older ones that have heard the story time and time again can often do a great rendition and almost always get all the key facts in the right order. It is also really fun to let them recreate it by putting on a play! Nothing is cheerier than watching three children play out multiple characters and ad-lib the funniest made-up lines. Sometimes there are two Marys because sisters don’t want to take turns and we have even seen vigilante angels storm the castle of Herod in defense of baby Jesus! Of course, the adults often get in on it by the end to play an odd shepherd or a forgotten wise man, too.

Finally, as we buy the food for our holiday menu and wrap our many gifts, I like to remind our children that there are so many others out there that are not as fortunate as we are. We think of ways as a family that we can help those in need and perhaps make the season a little brighter for a few others. Some of the ideas we have come up with include visiting a soup kitchen or holiday pantry and donating food and our time to pass it out. Our kids have their own “Boxing Day,” where we choose at least as many toys or items that we got as gifts and donate them to a charitable second hand store or give to others. Lastly, and one of the most impactful has been participating in Giving Trees or Adopt-A-Family, of which this year, we have chosen The Evans Family.

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions? How do you make sure your family keeps the right spirit this time of year?

 ChristmasWonderMagic1

A Changed Life: What I took Home from #Allume

In addition to a large box of books, notepads, keepsakes and trinkets that I had to hike ten blocks in the hot, South Carolina sun and find a UPS office to ship home for $27, I boarded my 6 am flight home to Portland, Oregon with so much more. A head exploding with new information, thoughts and ideas to write about, a heart full of new contacts and friends and their warm stories. And a body weary from the hustle and bustle that only a cross-country trip for five days at a blogging conference with hundreds of other women can produce.

I got the chance to meet some of my favorite bloggers, authors and speakers, listen in on some amazing, life-changing sessions and keynote lectures. Nearly all day long for three days I was able to engage in deep and heart-wrenching conversations with new acquaintances from all over the world and in every sort of walk of life and circumstance. I made business connections and networked with big names in Christian literary agencies and publishing companies and spoke with several remarkable philanthropic organizations that aid and serve people in varying cultures living through a multitude of tragic events and conditions. And I shared a tiny room with three women I had never met before, who, by the end of the conference have become dear and hopefully, life-long friends.

roomies2

Of course I had my expectations and preconceived notions of what Allume was going to be like. Some were unrealistic or just wishful thinking that didn’t come true. Others were fears and apprehensions that for the most part were relieved and overcome. I forced myself to get out of my comfort zone and work up the courage to talk with complete strangers about my writing and the Made to Mother Project, exchanged business cards and asked for social media follows. I pushed away the initial feelings of envy and competition to really listen to other writers, authors and “mommy bloggers,” and I ignored the “not good enough” thoughts that nagged at my soul as I listened to the wisdom of those who have gone before me and have twice (or six times) the platform or book deals that I have. I learned to encourage and cheer on others, practice TRUE hospitality in many different forms, and to change my default mindset from one of of categorizing and comparisons to blessing and reassuring others. Finally, I came away from Allume with the new mantra to trust Him with this calling I have received, to write the story that was assigned to me, work my own patch of land that He has allotted and to repeat, repeat, repeat.

Allume seriously changed my life last week. It reconnected and uplifted my faith in Christ and it gave me the motivation and help to adjust my self-talk and trust God more with my tiny little microphone IN HIS TIME. And, on a completely different note, it gave me a front-row, inside look at the SOUTH. And, wow, I fell in love with that part of our country! I drank gallons of sweet tea, consumed plates of grits; I adored the “y’alls” and drawls and simply cherished the downright, sweet southern hospitality of everyone I met there. And I will be back. Soon.

In the meantime, I have resolved to take a little time off from my crazy obsession of blogging, promotion and social media to rethink, reevaluate and refocus myself. Countless Allume speakers convicted me to spend more authentic time with my family and community, and realign my writing priorities and future so they fall UNDER my first priority as a wife, mom and friend. That being said, as November quickly approaches and with it a big month of sharing adoption stories here at M2M, you are going to see fewer personal posts and less participation in linkups and promotions. I want my family to know that they are the most important job I have; I want more of others and less of me, and I want God to receive ALL the glory through the continuing work of the Made to Mother Project. So, thank you, Allume, for an amazing week of self-reflection and transformation to live more intentionally, love bigger and embrace true hospitality!

what i took home from allume