Review: Kids Visual NIV Study Bible

NIV Study Bible

What a fun way for kids to get easily engaged in the Bible!

The first thing I noticed (and loved) was how each book of the Bible started with an intro page, giving readers information on who wrote the book, why it was written, where it happened, what some of the stories are in that book, and more. So handy.

NIV study bible page copy

The second feature that I noticed (and yes, loved) were the wide yellow margins where a reader could make notes AND specific verses were often highlighted and more information regarding that verse was given in this area.

NIV study bible margin copy

The NIV Kids’ Visual Study Bible is that…VISUAL and those visual elements (charts, pictures, graphics, family trees, etc) are sprinkled throughout and definitely add interest in the material you are reading. I have the hardback copy and it’s very sturdy.

I will be recommending this Bible to everyone I know, for children ages 8 and up.

And I am even enjoying it as an adult!

This Bible was provided to me, free of charge, from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review of the product.

iFly: We FLEW!

In my 20’s, sky-diving was definitely on my bucket list. I even researched it, found a local company, and tried to get a group to go. But…it didn’t happen. And then that window passed as marriage and motherhood became my greatest adventure (and I aged a little.) Somewhere along the way, I found myself feeling way more panicked than excited when I thought of sky-diving or other activities involving great height.

So when the opportunity was presented for contributors of Oklahoma City Moms Blog to experience iFly, an indoor sky-diving facility, I got super excited. If I could experience the thrill of sky-diving in an indoor wind tunnel, that was more my style. AND our flight was scheduled for the week of Trinity’s birthday, so the fact that I got to invite her was even more amazing. (Thanks for the “cool mom” points, guys!)


After completing the check-in process, we toured the impressive facility (think amazing date nights, epic birthday parties, family fun or out-of-the-box team building.) Next, we had the thrill of watching another group fly. Then it was almost our turn!

We met our instructor, went through an orientation, and suited up. After walking into the tunnel and getting seated and sealed in, the wind began blowing and, one by one, we walked up to the door with arms raised and then leaned into the wind, like a trust fall. Our instructor helped us find the right position and just like that…we flew!

It’s kind of hard to tell, what with the wind velocity and all, but I had the biggest smile on my face the entire time.

iFly MiFly T

And Trinity loved it, too. My little adventurer was wide-eyed and all grins.

Each flight was about a minute long, although it felt a lot longer than that. We had two flights each. During our second flight, the instructor actually did a tandem move with us, holding onto our suit and taking us to the top of the tunnel, spinning in circles the whole way. OMG, I can’t stop smiling just thinking about it as I write this. What a thrill.

iFly “is the experiential entertainment company that created modern indoor skydiving…we make the dream a flight a reality by giving our customers ‘wings’ in a safe and reliable environment.”

And they delivered.

Whether sky-diving is on your bucket list or outside of your comfort zone, I can effortlessly give iFly two giant thumbs up.

iFly…We FLEW!



12 Ways to Practice Self-Care



You’re tired. You’re stressed. You feel pulled in a hundred different directions. You can’t seem to find balance. Your thoughts are all over the place. You are trying to take care of too many people and things. You are stuck trying to work through a problem. Your project lacks creativity. Your mind is fuzzy. You can’t seem to complete one thing off your list. Your spouse, kids, co-worker, sister or other person in your life is driving you crazy.

Dear friend, that’s me. That’s you. That’s all of us trying to do life.

Let me ask you a question:  When’s the last time you took five minutes to an hour for self-care?

You’ve heard that self-care is important. You may even know it’s important. But maybe it still doesn’t happen.

Here’s the thing: It doesn’t have to take very long at all and it can regulate, rejuvenate and re-energize your spirit, mind and body.

To help us both, I’ve put together a list of 12 Ways to Practice Self-Care:

  1. Spend time outside. Sit in your backyard, take a picnic break at a park, go for a neighborhood walk, walk outside your office for a few minutes, sip your coffee out on the front porch.
  2. Read for pleasure. Is there a novel you’ve been waiting to get your hands on? Reserve it at the library, grab it at the bookstore and throw it in your bag, or download it to your phone. Next time you need a break, take it out and read a chapter or two.
  3. Listen to a favorite song. Whether it’s a nostalgic song that conjures up memories and smiles from the past, a current feel-good song, or a song that you just find is beautiful, take a minute to lose yourself in it.
  4. Stretch and breathe. If you’ve been sitting at a desk for awhile, take a stretch break and breathe in and out deeply while you do. At home with the kiddos? Lead everyone in a stretch break with deep breathing. It’s a good re-set button.
  5. Treat yourself to your favorite coffee or tea drink, and savor it. What’s that flavored coffee or tea you love? Order it. Make it. Smell it. Drink it while it’s the perfect temperature. Put your to-do list down for a minute and savor this delightful and simple treat.
  6. Take a shower. Seriously, are you in a funk? Go take a shower. As your muscles relax under the hot water, your thoughts will too. You may come out of the shower a new person on the outside and the inside.
  7. Light a candle or diffuse some essential oils. Choosing a scent that you find calming or pleasant and inviting its aroma into your environment will have a positive impact on your mental status.
  8. Be creative. Are your children coloring? Jump in and join them. Are you staring at your calendar? Why not embellish it with some of your own unique flair? Did your co-worker just say something funny? I dare you to write it as a cartoon or in block or fancy letters.
  9. Put on lotion that is one of your favorite scents. This delights two senses – touch and smell-and gives your mind and body a minute to be grounded before moving on to your next task.
  10. Make a list of 5 things you are grateful for today. This is easily my #1 most effective way to lift my mood. And it doesn’t take but a minute or two.
  11. Journal. Write out some of your thoughts, dreams, ideas, things that happened today or something you want to remember. Journaling not only has therapeutic qualities, but can lead to increased productivity as well.
  12. Write out an inspirational quote or Scripture and post it on your mirror. What’s something that inspires you and says it in a beautiful way? Write it out, print it out, or have someone design a small poster for you with those words and post it on your mirror, where you’ll see it every morning.

See? Easy-Squeezy. Pick 1, Pick 12 – Take 5 minutes, Take an hour.

You’ll just be glad you did.

I’d love to hear from you- How do you practice self-care?  Which self-care practice are you going to do today? How did it help? What would you add to the list?

Book Review: Of Stillness and Storm by Michele Phoenix


Of Stillness and Storm, written by Michele Phoenix, is the story of Sam and Lauren Coventry.  Their tale unfolds as the author presents alternating chapters between present day and past day, creating not only a story, but a rounded look at the characters and how their relationship evolved from becoming acquainted through theological discussions in college, to mutual admiration, courtship, and marriage.  As a reader, you are thrilled when they are finally able to conceive a baby boy, Ryan and years later, when they are able to take their dreams into the mission field.

You find Sam and Lauren and their son, Ryan, present day, serving as missionaries in Nepal where Sam’s passion for the cause is inspiring, but makes him unaware of the day to day realities his wife and son are facing as he’s often visiting remote villages for weeks at a time.   Relationships become strained and Lauren’s attempts to communicate their family’s needs to Sam are downplayed.  A story that did not interest me at first, soon became compelling as a look into Lauren’s past awakens her need for connection, and subsequently, her family begins to unravel even further.  Of Stillness and Storm offers a sobering look at how ministry has the ability to harm a family and shows one woman’s journey back to God through trials and growth she experiences along the way.

Disclaimer:  A free copy of this book was provided to me for the review, although the opinions expressed are my own.

Check out this giveaway from Michele Phoenix here-hurry it ends December 31st!-

How to Love the Life You Live, part 2


Love the Life you Live, Part 2.jpg

If you missed part 1 of this series, you can check it out here.  Part 1 focused on comparison and how that can steal our contentment.  In part 2 of this series, I am going to give you three practical ways to Love the Life You Live.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-17 “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

One way to Love the Life we Live is to realize we are in this together, ladies. God gave us each other so we could grow, learn and share life together. None of us has it completely together, but there is someone who is further along on this life journey than you that you could go to for advice, prayer, or encouragement. Join a women’s bible study or ask someone to mentor you. Invite someone to coffee and ask them how they have handled similar circumstances in their life. Make that appointment with a counselor to help you through a tough season. Invest in relationships with the women in your life. Have a community, a tribe, a squad, whatever you call it, just have good people around you.

Another way to Love the Life you Live is to simply practice gratitude…like the Scripture says: “Be joyful always, give thanks in all circumstances.” I’m going to give you something practical and easy to do that will help cultivate thankfulness in y our life and allow you to see God at work more clearly. Start a gratitude journal. I have a gratitude journal where most days, I take a few minutes to write 5 things that I am thankful for. It really doesn’t take more than a few minutes and it boosts my spirit immensely.

Do you know what I realized once I started doing this? That most days I don’t want to stop at just 5 and that throughout the day, I begin to notice little things that I want to include in that day’s list. It may be something small, like a tiny hand inside of yours as you walk through the store, a sweet text from you husband, breathing in the smell of outside air right before a rain, a good talk with a girlfriend, a perfect rose flowering in your yard. And sometimes it will be bigger-sometimes you will see God answering prayers you’ve been praying for weeks, months or years.

A third way to Love the Life You Live is to recognize truth and live in it. We get a lot of messages these days about what a woman should be like. We should be strong but soft. We should be loving but firm. We should be independent but not bossy. Can I tell you something? You were fearfully and wonderfully made. God created you in His image. Whatever you are gifted at, God made you that way. Your eye color? The way you smile? Not accidental. Purposeful. Put into place by a loving and powerful God. You were fearfully and wonderfully made by the God of this Universe. And that’s the truth. Live in that.

I think about the times when God doesn’t look like we think he should, or he isn’t taking action in the way we expect and we might honestly wonder, “Is that really you, God?” or “Where are you, God?”  At times like that, I’d like to encourage you to just listen to His voice. Let his Word be your guide and take comfort in the truth that He is there. His voice of love should be louder than the other voices in your life.

whatever season you are in, EMBRACE IT.

So I want to encourage you that whatever season you are in, Embrace it. On those days where you are tired of practicing multiplication tables with your third grader, going to high school with some mean girls, wiping another snotty nose, attending another PTO event or listening to a business call, playing chauffeur, cook, maid and secretary, realize that God has allowed you to see special moments that no one else gets to see. What a privilege.

I want to encourage you that whatever role you are in, as wife, mom, stepmom, sister, daughter, babysitter, coworker, consultant, soccer mom, ministry leader, student council member, a caretaker to an aging parent, God has called you to it and equipped you for it.

I want to encourage you that whatever prayers you are praying, He is hearing them. The big answers to prayer may not come in the middle of the heartbreak you are in when you are praying them.

But they do come.

How to Love the Life You Live, part 1

How to love the life you live

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Live the Life You Love.”  Maybe you’ve seen it penned on cute coffee mugs, t-shirts or magnets.  Maybe it’s lighting up your newsfeed with inspirational photos.  And maybe, dear friend, you are going through a tough season.  So when you see that sentiment, you may honestly think something along the lines of:  “Live the Life You Love….yeah…well, that’s great for a coffee mug (and maybe the person who buys it) but I’m having a hard time seeing God at work right now.  Good for the sweet momma who’s loving her life, but I’m still coming home from work each day and fighting with my husband…dealing with a troubled teenager…being bullied at school…dealing with financial troubles…haven’t been able to get pregnant…was looked over (again) for a job promotion…aching with the loneliness of an empty house…and…”…you fill in the rest.

I’d like to change that phrase up a little and today, talk about

How to Love the Life You Live.

A subtle change, but one that focuses on loving your life, despite your circumstances.

Ladies, I want to talk to you about something I think women of all ages deal with, and that is COMPARISON. And I want you to know that comparison is the enemy of contentment.  Pastor Steven Furtick, a pastor and author from North Caroline puts it this way, “The reason a lot of us deal with insecurity is because we are comparing our behind the scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”


Think about that for a moment.  You’ve probably seen an end of the season highlight reel at an awards banquet or sports ceremony, and it does show all kinds of smiling faces, adversity that has been overcome, and you leave with a feeling of joy and accomplishment!  BUT what those slide shows don’t show is the blood, sweat and tears. The sprained ankles, the games the team lost, the fight that broke out between the coach and the referee. The look on the kicker’s face who missed what could have been the winning point. The behind the scenes stuff.

Even Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram can give us a kind of envy for other people’s lives.  We see sweet family photos, where everyone is smiling and there’s a beautiful filter surrounding it that seems almost magical. And we get envious. What we probably don’t know is that right after that family photo, there was a meltdown from the two-year-old when he pitched such a fit that he threw himself on the ground and busted a lip, crying all the way home while the parents fought in the front seat. But we don’t see that in their sweet family photo. Right?

Now, am I saying you shouldn’t celebrate your sweet moments on social media? Absolutely not. If you enjoy doing that, like I do, then by all means, capture those moments as you celebrate your beautiful life. Social media can be a virtual scrapbook. But I don’t think you should unjustly compare yourself against others. You never really know the back story. If social media causes you to become discontent, consider taking a break from it for awhile…whether it be for a week, a month, on the weekends, or limiting your time there. You might be amazed at how much happier you are focusing on what’s going on in your world instead of imagining what it’s like for others.

Because comparison is the enemy of content.

Part 2 of this series can be found here.