Friday, June 30, 2017

technology time-out

I am that mom who feels the need to "measure up" on social media, although I'd never admit it (well, until now). I often times feel the need to make sure that people "like" me and what I'm doing. I put this unneeded stress on myself to "keep up with the joneses" (without spending money I don't have). Are my photos pretty enough...and if not then I better explain why. Are my kids doing cool craft projects? Am I cooking delicious and healthy food? I wonder how my life would change if facebook and instagram were never invented. Sure I'd miss out on connecting and chatting with a lot of old friends and I'd miss making new friends through hobbies or other similar interests. But it would force me to find a good way to cultivate the friendships that are around me IN REAL LIFE. I'd stop worrying about what witty and clever words I will post as my status. I would stop thinking "oh that's gotta be posted". I would stop wondering how many people are going to "like" my status, quote of the day, or photo. I'd get off my phone, off my computer and live life a little more fully and intentionally.

I have good intentions most of the time. Trying to make people smile. Trying to bring some humor to those around me who are my "friends". Trying to have an outlet and a conversation with someone over the age of 10.  Trying to share our little family of 7 with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. But there are also those times when I'm really just trying to feel feel like what I do matters. There are times when I'm just trying to "escape" my reality and get others to comment on how cute my kids are or how clever our most recent craft project was. There are times I want the world to notice me. I want attention, and short of throwing myself on the floor kicking and screaming, like I've seen my kids do, I post cute photos of my kids, share our latest adventures in crafting, and show what we're eating for dinner again. I do this like you'd even care. Really, does everyone need to know what we ate for dinner. Sure sometimes it's great to see what other people are doing so we know we're not alone. It's great to see what others are having for dinner and get some new ideas. But the length to which it's done is a little out of least for me. I know I have a facebook problem and I'm sure there's probably a 12 step program for that. I know that I am on instagram too much and pin WAY to many things but putting a stop to those things is where I really struggle. I have thought in my head for months that I just need to delete facebook and instagram from my phone because I really am not on my computer much during the day and then I'd have a little more control. But I'm such a wimp. I cannot bring myself to do it. I always find myself justifying it. Saying it's not that big of a deal, or that I can control myself or stop any time I want. But really, I can't. I have an addiction with the feeling I get when people "comment", "like", or just interact with me on social media. But it makes my REAL LIFE suffer.

I've heard people call me super mom. I've heard people say they're jealous of things I've done or do. I've heard people say I've got it all together. But I'm here to tell you all that I don't. I am addicted to social media. I have a problem with being on time for just about everything. I have a yelling problem. I ignore my children to satisfy my worldly desire of being "validated". I drink too much coffee and sneak chocolate when no one is looking. I "go to the bathroom" to get away from my children for a minute. Summer break is so hard for me. Sure it'll be nice to not have to wake up so early to get kids ready for school but what am I going to do with them all summer long.

I am NOT a super mom. I do NOT have it all together. Please do NOT be jealous of me. I have a low self-esteem but no will power to actually do anything about it. I want to eat clean and real food but struggle just to get a meal plan made and sticking with it is aother story in itself. I am pretty consistent at being inconsistent. In an effort to not just say all these things but actually work on them I am going to take matters into my own hands.

I will be off social media for the next week or more, I will be deleting facebook, instagram and pinterest from my phone. And after that I will just access social media on my computer for some time. After that time I will reevaluate what social media platforms I bring back into my life.  I will be intentional about spending time with my kids (after all they've been gone for a week). I will look for my validation in Christ alone. I will cook meals with and for my family. I will do my best to get to the many projects that lay before me unfinished because I've been spending too much time on social media. You will still be able to reach me if you want to. You can email me or text me. But don't freak out if I don't respond right away.

I have done this in the past and it has helped tremendously. I don't want to regret missing this time with my kids. I want to be present in their lives. I want to be a good example to them and not watch their childhood from behind my little screen. I tell you all these things so that if you need to re-evaluate you can know you're not alone and to help keep me accountable. It's easy to be sucked in by social media and other worldly things and if  I tell someone about my technology time-out I have a better chance of actually sticking with it! I don't want to be so consumed by these wordly things anymore so the best way for me to stop is cold turkey!! I bet the world will even keep on turning without me telling you about what we ate for dinner! ;)

diy patriotic fabric wreath

Next week we will be celebrating Independence Day!! I thought it would be fun to change up the wreath on my front door to fit the season. My friend from church told me about a wreath she had made using a bandana and when I saw similar fabric the other day I decided to grab some and make my own wreath.

Here is a quick photo tutorial so you can make your own patriotic wreath for your front door too!!
Materials used:

3 fat quarters of fabric...
one in each color (red, white & blue) with whatever design on it that you'd like!

A wreath form...
or if you're like me and don't have a wreath form but have
extra embroidery hoops lying around use that.
The one I used was a 12 inch hoop!

Cut the fabric into approximately 1 inch strips the long way on your fat quarter. I lined them all up and cut them at the same time. Cut those 1 inch strips in half. So you'll have a strip that is one inch thick and 6-10 inches long.

Basically you're going to loop the fabric through itself. So make a loop behind the hoop, then pull the ends through going around the front of the hoop. Hopefully my pictures are helpful and not more confusing!!

Continue this process until you have the hoop (or wreath form) all filled up. Make sure to alternate the red and white and keep the blue to the top left side of the hoop. Make sure to put tight on you loops otherwise they will want to come off. 
Hang the hoop (or wreath form) on your door and call it good. I will probably go back to this and add some starts or some other sort of patriotic goodies because it looks a little bare...but I do like the simplicity of it!! Share with me what you make if you use this tutorial. Tag me on facebook and instagram @purejoycreative #purejoycreative 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Here are some books you will want to read this summer!!

I have been blessed to be on three book launch teams over the last two months. And let me tell you these were some fun books to read. A book about summer camp, a book about a church group and a book about love and loss. Three incredible authors allowed me early access to their books and let me tell the world what I think of the books. While I've reviewed the books on websites like Amazon and Goodreads I hadn't told you, my blog readers about these books...and that would be doing you a disservice. Because, these were good books. We can always use a good book or three to read in the summer right? Well, let me tell you about these books a bit. I'll give you my honest review!

The Last Summer at Eden by Christina Hergenrader

Synopsis: Eden, a summer camp in southern California, has hit rock-bottom with low enrollment, a tight budget, and burned-out staff. Can it be saved? Maybe not. This novel incorporates contemporary themes with a traditional good-versus-bad trope for a satisfying read that promotes biblical truths of Gods constancy and provision.

My review: Get read to be whisked away to camp. You can almost smell the campfire, swat the mosquitoes and taste the s'mores (with peanut butter cups of course) as you are taken back to relive you memories of camp or make new ones with Poppi, Jake and the whole crew. This book will leave you with a smile on your face, a tear in your eye and hope in your heart.

The Harvest Raise by Katie Schuermann
Synopsis: It's summer break in Bradbury - and that means cookouts, cornfields, and county fairs! But at Zion Lutheran Church, the changes and chances of life don't take a vacation. Pastor Fletcher must learn to share the parsonage bathroom. Mrs. Scheinberg must face the fact that not every problem can be solved by pie. And when a beloved member makes a life-altering announcement, the entire congregation must trust more than their crops to the Lord of the harvest. 

My review: I recently moved to a new town, one much like Bradbury, in which my life has many similarities to the main characters in The Harvest Raise. But after moving and leaving behind some very good friends this book made me relive those emotions again. It brought me right into the living rooms, backyards and driveways of these beloved friends. I feel like I am having to say goodbye all over again to a great group of friends whom I have grown to love and whom I wish I could meet in real life. The characters are easy to relate with and their story is so down to earth. You will love wandering through the streets of Bradbury with your new friends. You will laugh with them, learn with them and discover more things about yourself than you ever thought possible from a novel.

I was NOT on the launch team for these next two books but they are part 1 and 2 of the Anthems of Zion series and you really need to read the series as a whole. It's just THAT good!!

House of Living Stones by Katie Schuermann (book 1 in the Anthems of Zion series)
Synopsis: In the small Illinois town of Bradbury, change doesn't come often, and it certainly doesn't come easily. So when Pastor Fletcher hires Emily Duke as the new choir director at Zion Lutheran Church, he unknowingly sets in motion a chain of events that turns the life of his congregation upside down.

The crusty church secretary, Mrs. Scheinberg, must learn to adjust her curmudgeonly ways. Zion's talented but pompous organist, Evan Ebner, must recognize his shortcomings. Emily must come to terms with her past. Even Pastor Fletcher must face reality when his world is shaken by the baggage Emily brings and by the handsome Zachary Brandt who pursues her.

With its host of lovable and relatable characters, House of Living Stones will find a special place on your bookshelf and in your heart.
My review: Takes me to a time and place where I can rename the characters to people I know in the flesh. She writes with such a fresh perspective and clear characters that you can't help but fall in love with because they are all so familiar. What a wonderful story about a small town with a strong Lutheran church. Even if you're not Lutheran I can guess you'd find yourself shaking your head because you would be able to recognize some of the characters from your own church.

The Choir Immortal by Katie Schuermann (book 2 in the Anthems of Zion series)

Synopsis: The people of Zion are at it again. Two of their very own are getting married, and everyone is pleased as punch to be hosting Bradbury’s wedding of the century. Their collective joy is short-lived, however, as busted air-conditioners, melting cakes, and a trip to the emergency room intrude upon the celebration.

Yet the congregation rallies. Lead by Pastor Fletcher and the stalwart Mrs. Scheinberg, they turn in faith to God’s promises of life and salvation to see one another through trying days that demand patience, prayer, and perhaps another batch of cinnamon rolls.

Emily Duke, Pastor Fletcher, and the rest of Zion’s quirky flock return in this compelling sequel to House of Living Stones, proving that life in a small-town is anything but small.
My review: Once again the characters come to live and you feel as though you've known them your whole life. Katie is not afraid to tell it like it is and deal with the tough issues. Make sure you've got your tissues ready because this book hits on the raw, hard to deal with emotions time and again. You will fall in love with their stories even more as you return to Bradbury again!

On Loves Gentle Shore by Liz Johnson (Prince Edwards Island Dreams book #3)
Synopsis:When Natalie O'Ryan returns to Prince Edward Island to plan her wedding, she runs into her childhood best friend--and discovers that the love she's been looking for is right where she left it.
My review: When you need to read a book that will leave you with hope in humanity and the ability to know that not everything goes right ALL the time then this is the book you need to read. Natalie is a lovable, yet confused woman who will have you cheering for her from the beginning. You may even begin to see some of your own traits mirrored in hers. As you read this tale of love and honesty you will be taken away on an adventure that not only leaves you wanting to visit Prince Edward Island but also makes you want to become friends with the lively characters portrayed within these pages.

I also got to be on the launch team for books 1 and 2 of this series and shared them here at some point but let me share them again.

The Red Door Inn by Liz Johnson (Prince Edward Island Dreams book 1)

Synopsis: Marie Carrington is running from a host of bad memories. Broke and desperate, she's hoping to find safety and sanctuary on Prince Edward Island, where she reluctantly agrees to help decorate a renovated bed-and-breakfast before it opens for prime tourist season.

Seth Sloane didn't move three thousand miles to work on his uncle's B&B so he could babysit a woman with a taste for expensive antiques and a bewildering habit of jumping every time he brushes past her. He came to help restore the old Victorian--and to forget about the fiancée who broke his heart.
The only thing Marie and Seth agree on is that getting the Red Door Inn ready to open in just three months will take everything they've got. Can these two wounded souls find hope, healing, and perhaps a bit of romance on this beautiful island?

Step into the Red Door Inn, a lovely home away from home tucked along the north shore of fabled Prince Edward Island. It's a place where the wounded come to heal, the broken find forgiveness, and the lonely find a family. Won't you stay for the season?

I have five kids. My life is busy. So for me to read an entire book must mean that it's a GOOD book!! I loved the story of Marie, Seth and Jack. Their characters were well developed and believable. By the end of the story I felt that Marie and I could have been good friends. It felt a little like I was hanging out and chatting with good friends while I was reading. The story is somewhat predictable but it's just a great story and worth the read. I cannot wait for the rest of the books in the series to come out! Well done Liz!!

I received an advance reader copy of this book. All opinions are my own!

Where Two Hearts Meet by Liz Johnson (Prince Edward Island Dreams book 2)
Evocative Contemporary Romance Set in a Charming Inn on Beautiful Prince Edward Island
In her kitchen at the Red Door Inn, executive chef Caden Holt is calm, collected, and competent. But when her boss asks her to show off their beautiful island to impress a visiting travel writer and save the inn, Caden is forced to face a world much bigger than her kitchen--and a man who makes her wish she was beautiful.

Journalist Adam Jacobs is on a forced sabbatical on Prince Edward Island. He's also on assignment to uncover a story. Instead he's falling in love with the island's red shores and Caden's sweets.
When Caden discovers Adam isn't who she thought he was, she realizes that the article he's writing could do more than ruin the inn's chances for survival--it might also break her heart.

Readers will discover hope for the hurting, joy for the broken, and romance for the lonely at the enchanting Red Door Inn.

My review: This book left me hungry. Caden can cook up a batch of cinnamon buns that will leave the reader wishing and hoping they were real...and in front of them. Caden faces a lot of the same insecurities that I sometimes face which makes her relate-able and lovable. She learns so much about herself in the process of trying to help her best friend save the Inn that they both have come to love and call home. A fell good story with hope, love and joy intertwined on the pages.