Hope Unfolding: A Book Review

Title: Hope Unfolding

Author: Becky Thompson

Publisher: WaterBrook

Copyright Date: 2016

IMG_0340

I was introduced to this book while visiting a Mother’s cLife group at my church. As I sat around and listened to the way the women reacted to the book I decided that night I had to get my own copy. I listened as Mom’s fessed up about their own shortcomings, and I was brought to tears by the way they united together in support for the struggles that mothers often face.

Somewhere down the line our culture decided it wasn’t okay to talk about how difficult and demanding being a mother actually is. Many new moms find themselves aching to talk about the hard times, but instead they paint on a smile and act like motherhood is the easiest role they’ve ever played.

Becky Thompson calls out all those bluffs.

With chapter titles like A Fight for Joy, Is It Just Me?, Real Life Looks Lived In, and Don’t Run Her Race, Thompson brings a voice to some of the fears that society silences within moms.

As I read through this book I experienced breakthroughs in my own life. I never realized that certain things I do as a mother are indicative of living in fear. And as I began to throw off those weights I found myself joining Thompson in prayer. I want to see what parenting looks like when we join together as mothers and throw off all the fears. Fears of weakness. Fears of insignificance. Fears of comparison. Fears of not measuring up to impossible standards.

One thing that set this book apart from others is the refreshing format that Thompson uses. Each chapter seems more like a conversation than a lesson. Within the pages the author explains how she learned from her own life experiences (the good, the bad, and the ugly) and then she provides you an opportunity to explore your own life and interact with the text.

Whether new to motherhood or years into the gig this book contains truth you need to hear!

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

Advertisements

Letters and Writer’s Block

This morning I finished the section, “Help Along the Way,” from Bird by Bird. I’m nearing the end of this book on writing and life. Today’s reading is all about inspiration for writing and where ideas come from.

img_4328

Letters

One way we as writers can preserve our sacred stories is to record them in letters to our loved ones. Lamott talks about writing to her son, Sam, about what it was like to grow up as a Giants fan and in crafting the letter she draws us sentiments toward the game of baseball itself.

If I were to write a letter to my daughter I might choose to write the story of how I met her father. I would record all the little details from hearing his thick accent for the first time to getting butterflies when my friend mentioned his name after class one day. I might also write a letter to her about my many memories as the firstborn. From being the “trial” child (to say “I get it” when she is really frustrated with me) to what it really means to look out for the little ones would be the biggest themes of that letter.

Part of being a writer is preserving those stories.

Just over a year ago my family lost a gem. My great-grandma was a beautiful woman who impacted me in so many positive ways. After her funeral I sat down to craft a short poem to preserve her memory. I chose to do it in the form of a letter to my great grandma. This was published in November 2015, but rereading this letter today made me smile so here is Frozen Mochas and Fudge Donuts, a Letter to Great Grandma.

I remember the birth of my coffee addiction.

I was around nine or ten.

The frozen mochas stored in their glass containers,

Held in the freezer,

Thawed and served with chocolate fudgies.

The cement ramp leading to your home.

The creaking stairs announcing my arrival,

As I wound my way up to the second floor apartment.

I remember the joy on your face when you welcomed me in.

The way your place felt like home.

Photographs of the ones you loved strewn throughout the immaculate rooms.

The excitement as you led me into the kitchen.

And atop a bright colored place mat sat a ceramic plate;

A doughnut all for me,

And a frozen mocha.

This is where I go when I taste the cold espresso today.

My mind takes me back to those visits.

How precious are those memories: my great-grandmother, frozen mochas, and fudge doughnuts.

 

Writer’s Block

Nothing is more discouraging than a good ol’ bought of Writer’s Block. You sit staring at the blinking cursor on the blank page with doubts about whether your writing will ever amount to anything. In the case of running out of ideas the worst possible thing to do is to walk away. To choose not to write in those moments is to give in to the enemy’s voice in your head chanting, “You’re no writer.”

According to Lamott every writer should pen 300 words a day. Some days you may fly through that word count and exceed it. Other days you may produce 300 words about absolutely nothing, but it’s better than producing nothing.

Last year I had the chance to meet accomplished writer, Mindy McGinnis. While talking with her she told me that she believes there is no such thing as Writer’s Block. To her, there is only productivity and laziness. I tend to agree with that statement. As a writer, I view the world with a filter of vivid words and descriptions. The images stored in my brain are enough to inspire thousands of stories. Some days it take a little longer (and a little more coffee) to call up those images, but they are there just ready to be used in writing. There is no shortage of inspiration out there for writers.

Writer’s Block is defeated when we sit down and perform the discipline of writing. When we crank out our 300 words per day we find inspiration. It will not all be perfect writing, but there is something to write each day. Don’t lose heart!

The Ameri Brit Mom 

 

Road trip to Chicago

Last week our family loaded up our luggage into a compact rental car and drove six hours west to the beautiful city of Chicago. Even though we only spent two and a half days in the city we were able to visit so many sites. We chose to travel to Chicago for a couple of reasons. First of all, we were in need of a direct flight to London for our annual trip to stay with my in-laws. Secondly, when looking at the list of direct flights we chose Chicago because it is the location where the novel I’m working on takes place. During our stay we ventured to many places mentioned and important to my book. I’m really excited about being able to weave authentic, intricate observations and research into my writing.

I’ve been to New York City a couple of times, but I must say that Chicago was by far a cleaner and more beautiful city in my opinion. I’ve been to Chicago a few times in the past, but it’s probably been fifteen years since I last visited. It was fantastic for my book to look at the city through a more fresh lens.

Here is a look at some highlights to our trip:

Lincoln Park Zoo And Nature Boardwalk

It was so cool to visit another zoo besides the Columbus Zoo. A major difference between the Lincoln Park Zoo and the Columbus Zoo (besides the fact that it is free) was that the animals were in smaller, more open habitats. Although, it may not suit the animal rights activists it was great as a spectator to be so close to the tiger and hear him roar as he dropped his bowling ball off a cliff. We really enjoyed this zoo. Arianna was taken aback by the slimy Hippopotamus.

We wrapped up our rainy trip to the zoo with a walk along the nature boardwalk. This was a scenic route around an pond in the center of the park. The walk culminated with a photo session from a pivotal location for my book. I may have gotten my cover shot here! (Obviously it will need a bit of doctoring)

IMG_2783 (1)

Chicago Children’s Museum (at Navy Pier)

The first day we explored the city it was cold and by mid day we experienced a downpour. Looking for indoor activities we made our way toward the famous Navy Pier and spent the afternoon at the Children’s Museum. It was made up of three floors of rooms aimed at providing educational opportunities. We all had a blast!

IMG_2854.JPG

Michigan Avenue Shopping (The Magnificient Mile)

The following morning we woke up early and explored the shops on Michigan Avenue. Apart from the $39.00 parking we had a great day. Unbeknownst to us at 10am every morning when the Disney store opens they select a child (or two) to turn on the lights with a little chant and role play. We happened to be walking by just as this was happening and Arianna was chosen to open the store along with a little boy. They waved their hands and chanted famous Disney spells like, “Abracadabra” and “Bippity Boppity Boo.” And when they called, “Let the magic begin” the lights and music came on in the store. Before we went into the shop Arianna was given a medal to commemorate the event and the workers called her Princess Arianna until we left. It was a completely unplanned part of our trip, but it was one of Arianna’s favorite memories.

Unlike the day before, it was ninety-five degrees in the Windy City that day. So as we walked along the Magnificent Mile the biggest challenge was keeping ourselves hydrated.

 

IMG_2839.JPG

Lunch at the American Girl Cafe

A few weeks ago we made a reservation at the American Girl Cafe in Chicago. Although it was a bit steep in price ($22 per person) it was a great time. The food was fantastic and Arianna truly was treated like a princess by the staff during our meal. Her smile really shows how much she enjoyed the experience of dining with her dolly.

IMG_2838.JPG

The United Center

This pit stop was a pick of my husband’s. We drove a little west of the city to The United Center where Michael Jordan played for the Chicago Bulls. Check out his basketball trick video in front of the Jordan statue basketball trick video in front of the Jordan statue. In case you didn’t know my husband is a professional free-style basketball trickster and travels around doing shows and provides clinics and private training as well. He grew up idolizing Michael Jordan so this was a monumental moment for him.

IMG_2840.JPG

13434895_10154740906097662_3221813600006503570_n

Overall it was a great trip.

We were able to accomplish so much in a short amount of time. Now life is slowing down and we are staying the rest of the month with my in laws in England. I’m looking forward to sharing memories from this trip with you as well.

The Ameri Brit Mom

My First Award: Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

sisterhood-of-the-world-bloggers-award11

Just over a week ago I made the bold decision to begin publishing my musings in the wonderful blogging realm. I’ve always been a journal keeper and a secret writer, but I took the leap of faith (and advice from my husband) and began to publish my writing on this blog. I have been completely overwhelmed by the response I have received. My site stats are quite impressive and have exceeded my expectations. I’ve been averaging around 100 views per day and have created a following and community with blogging strangers around the world. I’ve gained some feedback from those more experienced than myself and I value that feedback greatly. But today, I have reached a new and unexpected milestone. My blog has been nominated by Welcome to My World for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award.

I am honored and delighted to be nominated for this award. The nomination comes to me from a follower of my blog. If you enjoy my blog you should follow this inspiring blog as well. The author is a cancer survivor who writes about everyday life with a toddler and all of life’s ups and downs. Her posts are very relatable and sometimes I feel like we are great friends because her everyday life so closely resembles my own. I’m really excited to be nominated for my first award. I feel like maybe some of my ramblings may be inspirational to others out there. So I am very grateful for this nomination.

So what’s the point?

Why would one want to be nominated for a blogging award? The answer is two-fold. One goal of every aspiring blogger is to gain readers and followers and awards help make that happen. When I began blogging I wanted to know that the information I was putting out on the Internet was helpful and inspirational to other people. Of course, it is a great outlet for my thoughts and creative thinking, but my goal the whole time has been to encourage other people through letting them in on my imperfect life. By being transparent I believe that other moms or women may be able to relate to my position and be encouraged that we don’t have to have it all together all the time. Another reason why I am so thankful for this award is because it means that I am achieving that goal of inspiring another woman out there and hopefully countless others.

As a nominee for this award I have 10 questions I must answer on my blog so here it goes:

10 burning questions for the nominees:

  1. If you had the opportunity to donate what or who would you donate to and why? If I had the means and opportunity to donate I would choose to sponsor children overseas through organizations like World Vision. I currently sponsor a child in Guatemala through World Vision with a club that I advise at the high school where I work. For $33.00 a month we are able to provide food, clothing, education, and Bibles for our sponsored child and his family. If I could I would sponsor several more children. I wish that all children had the privilege and necessities that my own child has and it breaks my heart when I hear stories where that is not the case. One of the coolest things about World Vision is that they send correspondence between you and your sponsored child. (They even translate when language is a barrier)
  2. What is your favorite season and why? My favorite season is Spring. What I love most about Spring is the feelings of new beginnings. The winter in the mid-west can be daunting and at times (like right now) it seems as though the warmer temperatures and longer days will never come. Once spring sets in I receive new energy and look forward to all that comes with the changing of the seasons.
  3. Who is your favorite author? This is the toughest question on this survey. I love reading which is why I am a high school English teacher. I have several noteworthy favorites. I love Harper Lee, JK Rowling, Beth Moore, and many many more.
  4. Early bird or night owl? Early bird for sure. Since I was pregnant with my daughter my days as a night owl have disappeared. I would much rather get up early than stay up late. I’ve also learned that I am a much more productive person in morning (granted, I have the jump start of a cup of coffee…or two)
  5. Favorite dessert- Can I count coffee as a dessert? If not, then anything coffee flavored (cheesecake, tiramisu, cupcakes, ice cream…)
  6. Describe your perfect day from start to finish- The perfect day would begin with a little bit of a late start. I may wake up earlier than most, but I would take my time getting ready for the day. I would spend the morning drinking several cups of coffee, journaling, blogging, doing a devotional all while cuddling my daughter and husband on the couch. We would make  a family lunch and dine together still in our pajamas. After lunch, we would head to our favorite corner of the world: German Village in Columbus, Ohio. The weather would be beautiful. We would go to Schiller Park, walk the brick-paved streets, visit The Book Loft, and have cookies and coffee at the Pistachio Vera Bakery. Dinner would be at the quaint and world famous Schmidts in German Village. After dinner, we would venture home and watch several episodes of our current favorite show on Netflix until we all fell asleep on the couch. Yep, perfect day!
  7. What is your dream job? My dream job is yet to be determined. Something where I am able to use my gifts to help and inspire others. Right now I’m a teacher and I’m pretty happy with that!
  8. What is your favorite thing about blogging? My favorite part about blogging is that it is not only therapy for myself that allows me to creatively work out my thoughts and ideas, but it also is a platform to encourage and inspire others.
  9. Favorite movie- Wizard of Oz. Why? Because I’ve known every line and dance in that movie since I was 3. I also love all Disney movies and many many musicals.
  10. Warm or cold climate? Warm. No contest. I am much more happy, energetic, and productive with a healthy dose of Vitamin D from the sun. The cold is depressing and makes my joints hurt. Maybe I should think about relocating from the midwest 🙂

As a part of the nomination process I must also create 10 questions for my nominees:

1. Who do you admire most in your life? Why?

2. Where do you turn for inspiration and encouragement?

3. Why did you begin blogging?

4. What are three goals you have set for yourself (long or short term)?

5. Describe your family and its members.

6. What is your favorite accessory? Why?

7. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? Why?

8. What is your favorite TV show?

9. What is your favorite blog and why?

10. Where do you see yourself and your family in five years?

I nominate the following blogs to receive this award as well:

Desperate Housewife

Thyme is Honey

https://acaffeinatedblog.wordpress.com/

Nominees, here are the ground rules:

– Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site. (that’s me 🙂 )
– Put the award logo on your blog.
– Answer the ten questions sent to you.
– Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer.
– Nominate seven blogs.

Thank you once again, Welcome to My World. You have made me feel like my time spent narrating my life is well worth it. I have also been encouraged by this award to set some new and higher goals for my blog and to pursue my own personal writing dreams. It means a lot. Please take some time and check out my nominee sites and help them reach their viewer/follower goals.

Life is good.