Friday, April 11, 2014

Movie Review: Mom's Night Out

Moms' Night Out, Opening in Theaters May 9th! Mother's Day Weekend!

Skip the flowers, and chocolate this Mother's Day. Go see this movie instead! Well, don't feel like you have to jip on the flowers and chocolate, but do go see this movie!


Today I'm giving my movie review for Moms' Night Out, which will be releasing in a theater near you on May 9th. Before I begin, I would like to thank Emeals for sending me, and my husband to this premiere. We had an amazing evening! Emeals makes meal planning on a budget easy for any family. Check out emeals.com for a variety of meal options that include gluten free, paleo, vegan, and entire crockpot meal recipes. Nice, right?

So. Motherhood. It's...hard...fun...crazy...messy...amazing...tiring...full of self-sacrifice, but totally worth it.  Moms' Night Out, does an excellent job of portraying all the ups, downs, ins and outs of mom-life. In this film, a few stressed out Moms, in desperate need of a night off, away from their children, embark on a MNO (Moms' Night Out) that ends up TOTALLY opposite of the fun-filled, kid-free, relaxing evening they envisioned. Everything that could go wrong, goes wrong and everyone...husbands, wives, kids, and their "newly acquired friends," end up at the county jail to create what surely has to be the worst MNO EVER, with the best outcome! This film acknowledges the challenges mothers face, encourages them to embrace the beautiful-wonderful mess that motherhood can be, and affirms them in the importance of their God given roles as mothers with very life like scenarios that made me, and my husband, laugh, and even tear up at times (Note: I teared up, not him.). It's a Faith based film, action packed without crazy violence, no offensive or suggestive language, super funny, and definitely a movie to watch with the family. I give this movie my stamp of approval, and two thumbs up! 

For more ministry resources or information on group tickets for your church, Mom's group and or other organization, click here.

My first initial, sorta random thoughts about this movie:
"Um...am I the inspiration for this movie, 'cause I'm pretty sure this is a documentary of me...having crazy mom-moments?"
"Oh wow! They're talking about God!"
"Oh...it's a Faith based film! Hello Ministry opp!"
"Yes! Yes! This movie depicts motherhood in ways that words don't seem to justify! I feel like I need to hug the writers/producers or anyone on the production team that will let me hug them!"
"Hilarious! Bahahaha"
"Oh my word...the preacher's wife got tazed! Bless her heart. Bahahaha"
"No curse words! Score!"
"No crude humor...awesome-sauce...the kids can watch this!"

Enjoy the pics from our premiere experience!

Tried on 4 dresses, decided on the black one! Ready for my first movie premiere!
My poor hubby had to be pepper sprayed at work that day! Bahahaha! I know I have a sick sense of humor. Sorry.
His ear was still burning, but he held my door open!
What a Gentleman!

At the theater! We may have been just sorta slightly over dressed, but who cared?! It was awesome!!
And we had a nice, KID FREE, dinner after the movie! Win, Win!


They gave us a goody bag!! I LOVE FREE STUFF!

Score!!
http://momsnightoutmovie.com/

Friday, March 21, 2014

Freedom: Our Best and Worst Enemy

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.      ~ Abraham Lincoln

I couldn't help but throw in a historical quote. Sometimes it's better to let the historian in me get its way from time to time.

Lately I've been reading through the Old Testament and haven't been able to dismiss the numerous present day applications this ancient text contains. Stories of great faith, incredible courage, epic failures and triumphant comebacks spring from the pages and shout "Listen and Learn."

Over and over I read about God's people, who were given Freedom but chose bondage. Why? Because God's Freedom comes with guidelines. If God's people would obey His commands, and live their lives in ways meant for their own benefit, then they would remain free, but if they turned from God and lived in disobedience then they would find themselves in bondage. Oh, they would choose God's way, but then soon choose their own watered down, sad replacement version of Freedom. Their way always ended up in their emotional, physical and spiritual captivity.

How are we, the people of this nation and this world, any different from the Israelites of the Bible (God's people)? We want freedom on our own terms. We shake our fists at God's Word like temperamental toddlers telling him we're going to live the way we want because it makes us happy, or we can't help the way we are. The truth is, we just want our way. We want like-minded people to rally around us with affirmation for our life choices. The truth is, God loves us (John 3:16). He has a plan for our life (Jeremiah 29:11), and what better person to give us direction than the one who made us, and knows everything--past, present and future? It's a no brainer, but we still persist on living life on our own terms.

Some may say, "It's not true freedom if there are stipulations." You're right, but this world isn't equipped to handle true freedom and neither are we, hence the heinous nightly news reports. That's why God provides the way we should go, and even when He takes us through the mire of life, He shows us how to handle it.

Some may say, "It's not fair for God to discipline His people. That's cruelty, not love." I have to be honest and say that the Old Testament is FREAKY at times, but I've developed a healthy respect for God and I'm learning just how serious sin is. At the same time, this God who disciplines and allows bad things to happen is the same God who would rather pull in the reigns, and set guidelines in hopes that not one of His people would self-destruct. God wants to save us from ourselves as we live out our version of freedom.

Here's the thing: we all may think we're right; that our truth is true, that it's the choice we should make, and we're not hurting anyone else etc. But Proverbs 14:12 says "There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death."

My husband fights for our country's freedom, as do many of my friend's spouses. It's worth fighting for, but it can be our best or worst enemy, so let's choose God's path and His stipulations for liberty.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Choosing Life: A Celebration Baby Shower at the Hope Pregnancy Center

The Feet of Those Who Were Given Life

As part of a Mom's group, I recently had the honor of taking part in hosting a Baby Shower for many mothers-to-be at the Hope Pregnancy Center here in Clarksville.


Months earlier, many of the women in attendance found themselves pregnant & scared. There were many who didn't want to be pregnant, didn't want the baby, and considered having an abortion.

But they changed their mind. Some will choose adoption for their baby, and bless a loving and deserving family. But all of these women chose life.

Thank You Chick-Fil-A for
Donating to the Shower!

I admire their courage. In the face of fear they sought help and guidance. So many people, myself included, find it difficult to reach out in a time of need. I don't want anyone to think I'm incompetent. Besides, I'm an Army Wife, and we can do it all, right? 


Sweet Treats!
Their bellies were large, and their feet were swollen as these lovely ladies neared the end of their pregnancy. Were they still scared? I never asked, but to some degree, I'm sure they were. We chatted about due dates, gender, baby names, nursery rhymes and shared labor stories--women want those details.


The "Don't say Baby" game!
Listening, watching, and socializing with these women, I realized that every expectant mother deserves a baby shower. All of the shower stuff. From the fabulous food to the fun, right of passage baby shower games (I never lost my clothes pin!). Every mother-to-be deserves to be celebrated, especially these Mommas, because they chose life when they didn't have to, when they thought it would be easier not to, when they knew their families would disapprove of their situation and possibly abandon them. Even then, they still chose life. Now that is something to throw a shower for!

Gifts for All the Mommas!
No matter the circumstance, right, wrong, whatever the reason these women found themselves pregnant and at a Pregnancy Center, they are still a child of God. They are beautiful, worthy, loved, special, and hand crafted by our Creator with a purpose. The child they carry is not a mistake. That baby was handcrafted for a purpose, he or she is beautiful, loved, special and worthy of the best life possible.

I know I'm speaking for our group, but I'm praying that we as the host were able to bless these expectant Momma's as much as they blessed us.

Being an Army Wife, I've kind of adopted the saying of "grow where you're planted." For me, that means making a Kingdom impact on the community where I currently live. What better way to make a difference than partnering with a local pregnancy center to speak words of life and encouragement to women who may have found themselves unexpectedly expecting? 









Friday, February 7, 2014

A Salute to Love: Valentine's Day Tips & Recipes from Special Guest Author Joanne Bischof

Hate it or love it, Valentine's Day is almost here!


I get it. It's easy to understand how this Holiday can cause a case of the glooms. Gooey, unrealistic, mushy love movies are disgustingly addicting, and create insane expectations for relationships. And all those red and pink hearts. Ugh. It's like people have never seen real heart, 'cause if they had, they would know that a REAL heart resembles nothing like those we see posted EVERYWHERE on Valentine's Day! And what's with cupid? Since when is it EVER okay for a baby to wield a weapon!? And why hasn't someone put some clothes on that kid? It's February, and baby cupid is flying around in a diaper shooting arrows at people. Geez. Talk about some seriously bad parenting.

So yes, Valentine's Day or Cupid's arrows, may cause people some sore spots, but you know what helps boo-boo's? Yes, kisses help, but CHOCOLATE kisses work better. Throw in a hearty meal full of your favorite comfort foods, and BAM,  the Valentine's Day glooms dissipate!

I'm here today, with my sweet friend and author, Joanne Bischof, to help you make the most of this holiday! Enjoy the following tips, ideas and recipes to make your Valentine's Day memorable.

1:  Remember that though Valentine's Day may be cheesy, love isn't, and love is ALWAYS worth celebrating.
2:  Sit down with your children and make cards and candies for family, friends, neighbors (or even your deployed spouse).
3:  Create a list of all the things you love about your spouse, children, loved one, and send it to him/her or read the list aloud.
4:  Make the night/day special by creating a nice sit down meal, or special dessert (recipes below!).
5:  If you have kids, have fun creating and eating heart shaped foods (Pizza works great! Jello too!).
6: Take a Bubble Bath...that's a must anytime of the week!
7:  Decorate your table or eating area. Want romantic? Turn off the lights and ad your own! Think lanterns, oil lamps, mason jars! Want fun? Think red, pink, white tissue balls hanging around, or glitter/confetti balloons. Think, a living room fort for the kids, table for two for you and your honey...or just join your kids in the living room fort.
8: Dessert is a must! Author Joanne Bischof has a couple of recipes she'd like to share from her cookbooklet Heartfelt Recipes: A Cookbooklet Inspired by the Cadence of Grace Series that are sure to make anyone's heart pitter patter! Let's see what Joanne has cooking for us!!


Moonshine Pecan Pie
Joanne: One of my most popular recipes, this little crowd pleaser is a fun one for family gatherings and special events. The notorious not-so-secret ingredient adds a depth of flavor and a nod to one of the most iconic products of the Appalachian region. Of course, if you don’t have moonshine, or would prefer to leave it out, the pie is just as tasty without it! The butterscotch adds an extra layer of richness that will have your friends and family asking to take that last slice home.

5 tablespoons butter
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt

3 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 1/2 tablespoons moonshine

2 cups pecans

1/2 cup butterscotch chips

You will need one piecrust, either store bought or homemade. I have a tried-and-true recipe that I like to turn to, and I bet you do too! Use whatever piecrust you like best.
For the filling, heat the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a saucepan until bubbling. Allow to bubble rapidly for about a minute, stirring gently. Turn off the heat, and set the mixture aside to cool slightly. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, vanilla, and moonshine.
It will be important to temper the egg mixture now. Add a few tablespoons of the warm sauce to the egg mixture, and stir quickly. Repeat, adding a few tablespoons of the sauce, several times and mixing rapidly. Then pour the remaining egg mixture into the saucepan, and mix well. Gently stir in the pecans and butterscotch chips. Pour the pie filling into the prepared (uncooked) shell. If you’re feeling festive, you can use small cookie cutters to cut any leftover dough into pretty shapes to decorate the top. Gently place the pie in the oven and bake at 350 degrees F for about one hour. Allow to cool and set, and it’s ready to serve!


Sweet Pea Moonshine
Joanne: I have a firm belief that all things taste better when sipped from a Mason jar. There’s just something about it that says “home.” My family calls this Sweet Pea “Moonshine,” and this nonalcoholic drink is a great way to beat the summer heat. It has a hint of zing, and is a bit healthier than popping open a can of soda. With its notorious name, but innocent contents, it’s a fun drink for parties and family gatherings.

1 quart Mason jar
Ice
Sparkling water
Sweetened grapefruit juice
Vanilla extract

Fill a Mason jar half full of ice, and add equal parts sparkling water and grapefruit juice. (For the juice, I use store bought which is sweetened. If you use fresh juice, you may want to add a bit of sugar to taste.) Stir in a small splash of vanilla. There are different kinds of vanilla out there, both alcohol and glycerin based. I’ve used both for this recipe but tend to reach for the glycerin base variety as it’s a bit syrupy and lends a nice taste to the drink.

 Thank you Joanne for being so kind to share recipes from Heartfelt Recipes!
Note to the Military Spouse: If your spouse will miss this Valentine's Day with you, I just want to say, hang in there. I understand.  It's okay to cry and feel down in the dumps, but don't stay there. Find a way to share this holiday with friends, family, etc. Take a bubble bath after you get the kids in bed, pop popcorn, watch a movie that will make you laugh. Make this day as special as possible for your spouse too. Send those cheesy heart covered packages, because it matters to you and to your spouse.


Friday, January 31, 2014

My Life in Deep POV: Sharpening My Writing Craft

 

Welcome to the world of writing. 


I've always loved a good story. Loved to read one, loved to write one, listen to one, dream one up. Good times. Good times.

When it came time take that step to cranking out a novel, I soon found out I had some learning to do about writing.

So, I began asking for advice from authors and writers, who by the way, were all very kind and willing to help people in the world! Francine Rivers and Beth Moore even took the time to respond to my questions (SQUEAL!). Everyone kept telling me, "Keep writing. Join a critique group, and read craft books."

Me: "Okay. Keep writing. Check. Critique group. Got it." Fist pump. "Craft books? Um, like knitting or soap making?" How was that going to help?

The confused author answering me probably rolled her eyes into the computer screen.  "No. Actual books on the craft/process/skill of writing. Not soap making or knitting."

Me: "Oh." Blush. Head scratch. "Did I mention I'm a natural blonde?"

So. Needless to say, I hopped onto Amazon, ordered me some WRITING craft books and dug in. Deep POV, or Deep Point of View was one of the writing craft concepts that had me pulling my hair. I could tell a story, I could, but how did I make it deep? What did that mean??? Oh the insanity!!

After much hair pulling (metaphorically speaking, of course), I learned that Deep POV is simply writing as if you were the character, so much that the reader will actually experience the ups, downs, ins and outs of the book as if he/she were the character. Deep POV attaches the reader to the novel, and it may or may not cause the writer/author to need therapy after typing The End. :)

Deep POV is cutting out "he said, she said" as much as possible. It's inserting comments, and snippets that the character would say, think, feel. It's expressing mannerisms, physical and emotional responses and reactions. It's A LOT OF WORK, especially since I'm just learning how to wield this new writer's weapon.

Practice makes perfect, so I've been practicing, and practicing. And practicing. STILL not perfect, lol! But I keep on keep'n on!

One of the tools I've found VERY helpful is a short little book by Jill Elizabeth Nelson, called Rivet Your Readers With Deep Point of View. She offers several exercises on learning to write in Deep POV. Using her exercise template of Shallow POV vs. Deep POV, I'm going to show you examples of my life in Deep POV. Afterward, you can show me your own! Fun, FUN!

Shallow: With smug satisfaction, she tossed the empty laundry basket aside.

Deep: She smirked, and tossed the basket aside. Take that empty laundry basket. Conquering Mt. Pile O' Clothes was quite an achievement.

See the difference? I'm not telling you what I'm feeling, I'm showing you, letting you experience it as if you were me!

Let's do another!

Shallow: She knew the toilet ring wasn't going to disappear by itself, and she sighed knowing she'd have to be the one to clean it.

Deep: "It has to be done." That toilet ring was severe. She snapped on a pair of gloves and sighed. With any luck, it wouldn't take too long.


Okay, my Reader Friends! It's your turn! What are you examples of Shallow vs. Deep! Make me laugh! :)

Friday, January 10, 2014

2014 Family Goals: What's Yours?




Over dinner we discussed our family goals. Interesting conversation. My hubby and I heard everything from winning a top five spot for Minecraft creations to dancing with My Little Ponies. Hmm. Not sure the kiddos were getting the concept of "family" goals. SO! With a little coaching--a lot of coaching--we were able to come up with the following 2014 Conway Family Goals: (Drum roll)

  • Family devotion & prayer time everyday: We understand life happens, and we'll forgive ourselves if we forget to do family devotion time, but we want to keep it a priority in our house.
  • Go on vacation: Don't care where or when, but carving out this family fun time is a must.
  • A game night at least once a month: We have pizza and movie night every Friday so this will be fun to mix it up a bit.
  • Complete at least one pinterest family fun idea each month: Craft, game, recipe...it's wha-ev, I just want to stop pinning things that I haven't done yet.
  • Give the Kiddos more responsibility around the house: It's good for them; they need to know how to do "stuff," and I need to stop doing it for them for the sake of getting it done faster (ugh,  it's just easier to do that when it's bedtime and they're taking FOREVER to pick up toys!)
  • Keep the basics going strong: Lot's of love, hugs, kisses, playtime, smiles, laughs, reading books, cuddling, listening, kind words, sincere apologies--all musts to carry over into 2014 and the years to come.
So, there ya have it, the Conway Family Goals! Not many, and we may add more, but it's a good start for the new year.

What about you? What are you family goals for 2014?

Friday, January 3, 2014

A New Creation: Your More than Pinterest Worthy Self

Something Old, Something New. Something or Someone Refurbished, Maybe...Like You?


“You want me to what?” My Dad listened as I tried to explain the vision I had for an old window found in my in-laws attic.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/L-photography/411421598969133
Compliments of L Photography
 “You know, Dad. Make it look old.” Not to brag, but my Dad’s a pretty swell carpenter. “Hit it with a hammer…put a few holes in it.”
It couldn’t be the first time someone had asked him to antique something.
He scratched his head full of greying hair, obviously baffled at my request. “You want me to take this old window, clean it up, and make it look old again.”
“Yup.” He totally got it. “It will make a perfect picture frame.”
“But it’s a window. An old window.” Maybe he didn’t get it.
Maybe old, but definitely beautiful. Solid, long, and outlined with squares of stained glass, this window all but begged to hold my family photos. Should I put it above the couch or in the kitchen? I’m still not sure. Either way, it will be GORGEOUS!
Give me rust, chipped paint, broken, bent, dented, and dinged. It’s not old, it’s full of potential. Dilapidated barns. That fixer upper starter home. A cracked rocking chair. I can’t help but see the beauty in the run down, thrown out, and pitched. Don’t you?

I think you do. I think we all do.
It’s sweeping the nation—that refurbished Pinterest worthy artifact. Recycling is now up-cycling. Twenty five ways to reuse mason jars. How-to videos on distressing furniture, antiquing techniques—they’re all the rage. The old look is now the new thing.

It’s like, America’s junk pile has become the place to find that chic, shabby, trendy item for our home, and to be perfectly honest, I LOVE THIS CONCEPT!
You know why I love it? The same reason you do. There’s something redeeming, deep, and strangely familiar with taking something old, and creating something new.
It’s what God did for us. He looked at us, a junk pile—broken, dirty, dented, and distressed. He saw potential. He saw what we could be with Him, and He extended a hand. For those of us who reached out, he picked us up and turned us into a new creation, something more than Pinterest worthy. The old has gone, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Beautiful, right?
It’s a new year, and it can be a new you. Have you reached out to grab the hand of your Creator? I’d love to hear your “new creation” story/testimony, or answer any questions you may have about how God can make you into a new creation.
Happy New Year!