An Anchor in the Storm: One Mom’s NICU Journey

Anchored-Share-Square-31

In 2010, Kayla Aimee found herself pregnant after infertility and miscarriages. She was thrilled. But her pregnancy only began a rocky sail as Kayla delivered her daughter, Scarlette, at 25 weeks gestation and spent six months with her in the NICU.

If you’ve ever read Kayla’s blog, you know she finds humor almost by accident in every situation, especially now that Scarlette is 4 and adds quite the commentary. But alongside this humor, Kayla found deep faith, a faith she’d never really had to test before. She writes about it in Anchored: Finding Hope in the Unexpected.

Check out this Q&A with Kayla.

How did you keep it together when you felt like your world was falling apart?

I didn’t. Absolutely I fell apart with it. I think it surprises people to hear that because on the outside I looked like I had it together, I was stoic and did the hard things in order to keep myself together when I was at the hospital. Away from that space was different, full of fear and sorrow. But it was in allowing myself to fall apart that I discovered the truth in the Scripture that says that His strength is made perfect in our weakness. I learned that God’s grace really is sufficient and the only thing that was comforting was knowing that I could just lean into that and let it do what I could not.

How would you say humor and the ability to laugh at yourself have helped you through parenting? In your marriage?

I remember the first time that I laughed after Scarlette’s birth. I was weary from weeping with heartbreak when the nurse brought me nursing pads and they were wrapped in a bag that said DANGER! HAZARDOUS MATERIALS! I laughed so hard that it hurt my stitches and I remember that was the moment when I knew that I wasn’t lost to my grief. Finding the humor in the moments that are hard helps to shift my perspective. It keeps me from being too quick to anger and makes me appreciate the little things more.

Ecclesiastes says that there is a time to laugh and a time to cry and I think that the intersection of the two is a beautiful portrait of our humanity. Plus, it just brings me so much joy to live a life that is full of laughter and so I chase that, I try to seek out the hope and the humor because that just makes everything a little bit brighter.

What is the #1 thing God taught you through Scarlette’s birth experience?

I tend to want to control things or at the very least to know what is coming. Our experience with Scarlette’s birth and NICU stay really revealed to me that I had a tendency to layer my own plans over my prayers. When there was nothing I could do I learned what it meant to genuinely trust God. I think it was this specific time that sharpened my faith, when I was the angriest at the situation and when I least wanted to be faithful was when I found God faithful to me. Not because of a happy ending but because I felt the hope of Him staying steady in the chaos.

What is your favorite Bible verse?

I love the promise of First Corinthians 13:12-13. I love that it acknowledges how life unfolds in a way that we can’t always know what is around the bend but we can find joy in the middle of the unknown in faith and hope and love.

“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.”

What is a funny/favorite parenting story that you don’t share in the book?

Oh man, there are so many to choose from, I could write an entire book just on that topic alone! Recently we had a day where I was having to say “No” a lot and my four year old expressed her disappointment that things weren’t going her way, telling me, “I don’t like it when you say no to me, Mommy! That is very bad.” So we had what I thought was a lovely, fruitful discussion about why Mommy sometimes has to say no and why that is a positive thing, because Mommy’s job is to help her.

Later we went to the grocery store and the cashier greeted Scarlette and asked her how her day was. And my daughter responded “Well, not so good, actually. My Mommy has been saying BAD WORDS to me ALL DAY.”

AnchoredBonusPrint1

Would you like to win a copy of Anchored and this beautiful print from Gracelaced? Just use the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

God-Focused Summer Reading

While you’re trying to get your child to read this summer, why not slip in some books that will increase their faith as well as their reading level? Here are some ideas for books on every level.

God-Focused Summer Reading from Toddlers to Preteens

Babies and Toddlers

Preschoolers

Early Elementary

Preteens

Maybe that will help you jump-start some summer reading? I love that we have so much Christian media – books, TV shows, movies, music – that helps us reinforce biblical truth.

What’s one of your favorite Christian kids books?

The Perfect Road Trip Accessory Every Family Needs This Summer

The summer looms ahead, and with it we find families everywhere preparing for that American tradition: the summer road trip.

I remember road trips from my childhood. I spent many hours in the backseat, reading a book while out the window I could see towering redwood trees, canyon walls, or the reflection of the ocean in the windows. The first hour of a trip can be exciting, but we all know that soon boredom kicks in and the whining begins.

If you are looking for a way to entertain your entire family this summer on that long road trip, check out Radio Theatre’s Chronicles of Narnia from Focus on the Family.

Radio Theatre Chronicles of Narnia Set

Focus on the Family’s Radio Theatre has been entertaining and enriching the lives of both young and old for decades. From timeless classics like The Christmas Carol to C. S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters, Radio Theatre makes the stories come alive and real to a whole new generation of listeners. Radio Theatre isn’t just storytelling or a recorded book. It’s an audio movie that plays on the biggest screen of all: your imagination. Enjoying world-class actors, cinema-quality sound, and an orchestral score, your entire family will be enthralled and your car ride will pass in no time.

The entire set of the Chronicles of Narnia is available now on CD in a beautiful package perfect to keep in your car for hours of fun.

Want to win a set from Tyndale House and ParentLife? Enter using the Rafflecopter form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Family Shares Success Story and Practical Advice in Conquering Childhood Obesity {WIN IT}

In Who’s the New Kid, releasing from Tyndale House Publishers this May, ordinary mom Heidi Bond details the healthy regimen that rescued her daughter from childhood obesity and benefited her entire family.

Breanna Bond talks about changing after obesity

In Who’s the New Kid?, Heidi Bond, a self-described “ordinary mom,” shares her story of how she helped her daughter overcome childhood obesity. She provides helpful insights and practical tips, equipping families to help their children establish healthy habits as well as lose weight. Bond’s hope for her new book is “to shine a light on the truth surrounding childhood obesity, to let other families know that they are not alone, and to show the world that childhood obesity is 100 percent reversible and can be reversed in less time than you might think.”

Childhood obesity is a pervasive problem in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.” In 2012, over a third of American children and adolescents were diagnosed as overweight or obese, which is concerning because according to the CDC, “childhood obesity has both immediate and long-term effects on health and well-being.” Despite the alarming rates of childhood obesity and related health risks, the CDC confirms that healthy lifestyle and habits, “including healthy eating and physical activity, can lower the risk of becoming obese and developing related diseases.”

Who's the New Kid?

These statistics were all too real for Heidi Bond. At nine years old, her daughter, Breanna, weighed a whopping 186 pounds. Just walking up the stairs to her room was a challenge. Her legs chafed to the point of bleeding from rubbing against each other, and her school days were filled with hurtful taunts of “Hey, Fatty!” Watching her daughter suffer like this was devastating for Heidi, prompting her to action. Heidi helped her daughter lose weight without the aid of fad diets, medication, or surgery, and in her new book she details how other parents can do the same for their kids.

To help Breanna, Heidi instituted a daily regimen of healthy eating and family exercise. In just over a year, Heidi’s plan worked! Breanna dropped 40 percent of her body weight and was transformed from a morbidly obese child who spent her days in front of the TV eating chips and chocolate to a vibrant, healthy, energetic little girl.

Filled with helpful diagnostic tools, easy-to-make recipes, eye-opening nutritional information, fun exercise ideas, and practical tips and advice, Who’s the New Kid? will not only show parents how to help their kids lose weight naturally, but will also introduce them to simple and effective lifestyle changes that will benefit the entire family.

When asked why she wrote this book, Heidi Bond responded, “We needed to share our journey to give people hope and inspiration, and to show them that change is possible. My goal in writing this book is to let others know that they are not alone. I know firsthand the fear and hopelessness that surround this epidemic.”

Heidi Bond on mothering an obese child

Heidi Bond has appeared on Good Morning America, CNN, and The Biggest Loser. A sought-after speaker, she has helped thousands of parents who are struggling with overweight, underactive children. Heidi lives in Clovis, California, with her husband, Dan, and their children, Breanna and Nathan.

Jenna Glatzer is the author of 23 books, including Unthinkable by Scott Rigsby (Tyndale), Never Ever Give Up: The Jessie Rees Story (Zondervan), and Unbroken: A Memoir (Thomas Nelson). She has written hundreds of articles for magazines and online publications.

Want to win a copy of Who’s the New Kid? We have five to give away. Just enter using the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Faith That Sticks {GIVEAWAY}

I am a firm believer in teaching children to love reading at a young age. As soon as my children were old enough to maintain eye contact, I was reading to them. They loved listening to my voice and looking at the bright colors. Soon they were big enough to turn the pages on their own and understand the story. Before I knew it, they were sounding out words and reading me stories all by themselves!

We rarely went anywhere without a book or two tucked in a bag, ready to bring out at a moment’s notice. As a result, I raised two kids who still value reading and love to immerse themselves in a book—so much so that when my son started to drive he kept getting lost. He had spent his riding in the car time reading books and therefore he didn’t know how to get to basic places like the store or his school.

To help build the value of reading in your child, check out the new line of Faith That Sticks books by Tyndale House Publishers. Filled with faith values and Bible stories, these books not only teach important lessons, but engage the child to understand the story by encouraging parent interaction. The stories also include stickers and activities to help keep children involved and reading the story over and over.

Picture2

Enter to win copies of the five latest Faith That Sticks books—just in time for Easter! Or check out the full line of Faith That Sticks products at faiththatsticks.com.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Desperate Diva Diaries: Christian Fiction for the Preteen Crowd

divadiaries2divadiaries

 

There were the Dork Diaries. The Diary of a Wimpy Kid. And now Angie Spady offers a Christian alternative with a female protagonist: Catie Conrad, star of The Desperate Diva Diaries series.

When Catie asks her journalist father for a sketchbook, she should have known he’d come back with the wrong item. Instead he gives her a diary. Well, maybe she’ll use it.

Thus starts Faith, Friendship, and Fashion Disasters, the first book in the Desperate Diva series, which targets preteen girls ages 8-12. Catie is a typical sixth-grader: her life is full of drama, she loves fashion … and her dad wants to take her to an Indian reservation during her Spring break.

With all 4- and 5-star reviews on Amazon, Faith, Friendship, and Fashion Disasters is a book your daughters will devour. As one reviewer said, “Sometimes I’ll hear parents say, ‘I don’t care what they’re reading, I’m just glad they’re reading something!’ But not all reading material for tweens and middle schoolers is created equal.” Angie Spady gives us a clean, fun book, full of illustrations by Channing Everidge.

The second book in the series, How to Become the Most (un)Popular Girl in Middle School, will be released in May 2015.

Big Thoughts for Little People – the New App and a Giveaway

Tyndale House Publishers is excited to announce its first children’s app. Released to the iTunes store in January, 2015, the Big Thoughts for Little People app is the perfect companion to the bestselling alphabet book with the same name, written by Dr. Ken Taylor (over 560,000 sold).

big thoughts

In the app, each letter of the alphabet is accompanied by five unique interactive games designed to teach children letter recognition and beginning word identification skills. Activities include matching games, coloring activities, puzzles, picture comparison, and much more!

The Big Thoughts for Little People app will encourage kids to remember that God has created each of them and the world they live in. This app is a worthwhile investment in any child’s spiritual and educational growth.

BTLP-1024x1024

—-

Courtesy of Tyndale House, we have 5 copies of the book Big Thoughts for Little People to give away. It’s a beautifully illustrated, hardcover book that would be wonderful for your kids or to give awy. Enter using Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Books on Praying for Children

parents book of prayers

 

On November 1, B& H Publishing Group released A Parents Book of Prayers by Tony Wood. This padded hardcover volume is a daily devotional, filled with Scriptures and prayers to pray over your children. Wood is an author and songwriter who has touched many, and this book has received accolades from the Christian community. It would make a beautiful gift this Christmas for a parent you know, or the perfect addition to your quiet time!

Recording artist Francesca Battistelli says, “Tony is one of the most prayerful and thoughtful people I’ve had the privilege to know and work with over the past decade. I’m grateful to call him a friend and thrilled to recommend this beautiful book of prayers for parents.  As a busy working mom, this is a God-send!”

—-

Here are some other titles to pick up if you’re interested in learning how to pray for your children:

The Other Side of the Story

Teaching kids empathy can be a great joy and struggle in parenting. We are all self-centered by nature, and showing children how to be other-centered takes some stretching. Helping a child understand how to “put himself in another person’s shoes” can be a great way to teach empathy.

What about looking at Bible stories in a new way? In the book The Whale Tells His Side of the Story, author Troy Schmidt imagines what the whale felt like with Jonah hanging around in his belly. (The subtitle, Hey God, I’ve Got Some Guy Named Jonah in My Stomach and I Think I’m Gonna Throw Up, pretty much says it all.) In the same vein as The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and The Frog Prince Continued,  Schmidt rethinks Bible stories. He’s also written the following biblical “other sides”:

Even if you aren’t able to purchase these books, having your child imagine another side of a Bible tale is a good way to spark imagination and explain having empathy. It can be a funny activity or a serious talk.

What “other sides” can you imagine?

Princess Gabby Girl and the Sparkly Dress

princessgabbygirl

 

 

Like pretty much all 5-year-old girls, my daughter, Libbie, LOVES princesses. Our home echoes with Frozen songs, is coated in glitter and sequins, and Libbie’s bedroom radiates pink. She is a girly-girl all the way.

So when Camilla Battaglia’s team sent us this new book, Princess Gabby Girl and the Sparkly Dress, my daughter had it open and was looking through it before I could even touch it myself. It doesn’t hurt that one of my daughter’s best friends is named Gabby, so Libbie recognized that word.

Princess Gabby Girl is a moral tale about a young princess who finds a gorgeous sparkly gown in a secret wardrobe. She’s told by Miss Marvelous, an only semi-creepy woman in a mirror, that to keep her dress sparkling, she must be kind and do good deeds. Based on Matthew 5:14-16 (You are the light of the world), this very pink tale is a nice alternative to traditional princess paperbacks.

If your child is as obsessed with pink and princesses as mine is, you should grab up a copy of Princess Gabby Girl and the Sparkly Dress. It will incite some good conversations about being the light of the world and shining brightly with kindness.