Friday, May 6, 2016

Great Mother's Day Gift Ideas

*Note - I had planned to post this review much earlier, but my oldest came down with a NASTY bug.  When I finally had her nursed back to health, she lovingly shared the bug with me.  Haha!  I considered not posting, but then I thought of how many folks forget Mother's Day, so I thought it would come in handy.  Also, to be honest, as a mom, I much more prefer to be surprised with a gift on a day OTHER than Mother's Day.  It shows that my loved ones appreciate me even when they aren't required to!  So pick up one of these fantastic books for your mom and hold it as a "just because" gift. Your mom will love that!

Mother's Day is coming up!  (Yay!) Does anyone else wish Mother's Day was on a Saturday instead of Sunday?  Seriously, what mom gets to sleep in and enjoy breakfast in bed when you have little kids to get ready for church?  But I digress. Every mom wants to feel appreciated, so I thought I'd give you guys some great gift ideas for that sweet mama in your life.

1.) The Mother Letters (Revell Books)-

This book started as a gift of encouragement from one man to his wife.  Seth Haines realized that his wife Amber (a mother of three young boys) was getting bogged down in the minutia of life.  (Moms, we've all felt that way, haven't we?) So Seth began to secretly collect letters of encouragement from moms all over the world.  He then gave them to Amber as a gift.  What could be more encouraging for an overwhelmed mom that letters of encouragement from the people who know EXACTLY what she's going through.  This compilation of letters is heartwarming, funny, and encouraging.  And it would make the perfect gift for any mom on Mother's Day.  Most moms don't have a lot of time to sit down and read, so this book is great because she can read one short letter whenever she has a chance - like while she's sitting in car line, or waiting for dance class or soccer practice to end, or while she's sitting on the side of the tub waiting for her toddler to go to the bathroom!  Haha!

Here's a little excerpt of the wonderfulness in The Mother Letters...

"We can bury ourselves in the care and raising of our children until we don't know who we are without them or we come to resent them for taking over everything. Hear me now: I love my family more than my own life. And I cherish the daily rhythms of loving my tinies. I don't resent it by any means. But sometimes I know that I can feel like that's all we are - when all we do is serve and give and comfort and clean and cook and do laundry and soothe and nurse and entertain with age-appropriate flash cards, we feel like mothers exclusively. And that doesn't help anyone. Not you. Not your spouse. Not your children. And not the world God seeks to redeem in partnership with you.
Mama, you need to do the things that make you feel like a person. You need to stay faithful to your whole calling."

2.) Brave Mom (Zondervan) -

Boy I wish I'd had this book to read when I'd first gotten pregnant - or even before!  In her new book, "Brave Mom," Sherry Surratt, President and CEO of MOPS International, shares not only her top "mom fears" but the top fears other moms face.  I was surprised and comforted to find that I was not the only new mom who'd succumbed to these early moments of panic.

So here's what I loved about this book:
*Sherry is open and honest about her fears - legitimate AND irrational. - Its a great comfort to know that we are not alone in our fears - eve some of the "silly" ones.
*Each chapter has real stories from real moms. - Sherry not only shares her own stories of fear and triumph, but the stories of other moms as well. I found great comfort in these stories. In fact, here's an example of a paragraph from one mom that really touched my heart:

"My best days begin by praying aloud (so my heart and my head can hear it), 'God, I'm not in control. My boys are not in control. Satan is not in control. You are in control. I am so grateful that you - the one who knows me, my hopes, my purposes - is in charge. Help me surrender my boys to you, my will to you, and help me align my heart with yours. I trust you.' When it comes to overcoming fear as a parent, there are no magic bullets, but there are three essential strategies - prayer, prayer, and more prayer. It is the sure and certain way to draw near to the only One who loves your children more than you, and can carry them all the way home."

*Each chapter ends with 2 small sections: "Let's Get Practical" and "Let's Take Actions." - The "Let's Get Practical" section has 3 or 4 questions to help you process and meditate and what you learned from that chapter.  The "Let's Take Action" section is a simple suggestion to help you put what you've learned into practice.
*The book covers real fears and rational fears, moms of toddlers and moms of teenagers, married moms and single moms.  - Sherry leaves no one out.  She covers all sort of topics and all sorts of moms.

I really enjoyed this book.  In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I finished it in 3 days - which is highly unusual for me.  It was easy to read, straight forward, comforting, and helpful.

4.) Fit To Burst: Abundance, Mayhem, And The Joys Of Motherhood (Canon Press) -

Rachel Jankovic is both encouraging and convicting as she leads you through the trials and adventures of motherhood.  She gives great biblical insight on how to handle stress, frustration and that feeling of not being appreciated that all moms struggle with.   I really appreciate Rachel's writing.  And I love that her books are fairly short and to the point.  After all, I have 3 kids under 5 years old.  Who has time to read 500 pages!?!  If you want an encouraging, convicting, helpful book on issues of motherhood, look no further!  "Fit to Burst" is definitely a great read!

And to give you a little taste, here's one of my favorite little excerpts from the book:
"Discontentment will never change the world.  If you want your work to have a lasting impact on the world, define yourself with gratitude.  Be thankful over the laundry.  Be thankful when you find yourself nursing a baby in a carload of hungry children.  Be full of gratitude, not only for the cute photo opportunities that will come your way as a mother, but over the accidents and snotty noses and dirty floors.  Give thanks for the sticky juice rings on the counter.  Give thanks for the milk spill, for the stomach virus, for the pants that are too tight after that last baby."
5.) Nourished (Zondervan) -

Why do I love "Nourished" so much?  Well, it reminds us that there's nothing wrong with taking care of yourself.  In fact, its necessary.  As a mom of three kids under the age of five, I often forget to take care of myself.  Seriously.  There are days when I sit down at 9 pm and think, "I haven't even showered today."  But in order to be the best wives, mothers, Christians that we can be, we really have to "nourish" ourselves - nourish our bodies, our relationships, our spirits, and even the spaces we live in.  We have to take that time.  But sometimes its hard.  So Becky and Rachel wrote an entire book for of advice, encouragement, and funny stories about how to nourish ourselves.  I gleaned some great ideas from this book and am already beginning to put them into practice. "Nourished" is definitely a good read!

Here's a little excerpt from the book:

"It didn't take long before I came to the divine realization that if I were going to survive a life of more pouring out, physically and emotionally, I must be more diligent about pauses for refilling. I needed to regularly nourish myself if I was going to take on caring for so many others...
David, the wild-hearted Shepherd-Warrior-King, wrote psalms full of prayers for super-human energy bursts.

'For by You I can run against a troop,
By my God I can leap over a wall.'
-Psalm 18:29 NKJV

"We all need bursts of that Davidic energy at times, like Red Bull for the soul.

6.) Mother's Day Blessings (Zonderkidz) -

Yes, this is a children's book.  But what could be a better gift for that wonderful mom in your life than teaching her kids to cherish her.  The fabulous Berenstain Bears have done it again!  This time, they're teaching kids everywhere to thank God for the blessing of mamas. What's so sweet about this book is that it doesn't just teach kids to respect their own moms, but all the other moms around them as well.  And, as with all the Berenstain Bears books, this one ends with a set of discussions and activities you can do with your kids.

I received several of these books, free of charge, from the publishers, in exchange for my honest review.

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