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The Making of a Mom (& Giveaway)

Mark your calendars! July 28th starts a week long, red-hot launch week! Grab your confetti — it’s time to celebrate! Prizes, giveaways, surprises, & more! Woo Hoo!

Hey friends –

web-1-240x300Today I’m excited to introduce you to a sweet friend/author/speaker/amazing encourager–Stephanie Shott

Stephanie is the founder of The M.O.M. Initiative, an awesome ministry for moms and families. She recently released a book that I think you’ll love! This resource was truly born in Stephanie’s heart, so I’m going to let Stephanie share in her own words about her new book, The Making of a Mom.

 Moms Mold the Heart of the Next Generation

Have you ever felt like you wore so many hats that it was hard to really enjoy your mom journey?

Or like you were so weary and worn out by your never-ending ‘to do’ list that you wanted to bury your head under the covers and get away from it all…even for just a day?

Me too!

Oh…like you, I LOVE being a mom. But for me, motherhood was like this messy experiment and my kids were the guinea pigs.

Motherhood is the best job on the planet!

Moms, more than anyone else, have the opportunity to not only mold the heart of their children but to mold the heart of the next generation. But we get caught up in dealing with the dailies of life and it’s hard to make it our mission to parent on purpose. Sometimes it’s so easy to parent the child they are and deal with the behavior of the moment that we forget about molding the heart of the person we long for them to become.

book1The Making of a Mom gives you a foundational look at real life biblical motherhood and provides the practical tools and inspiration you need to become the best mom you can.

While we all know there is no such thing as a perfect mom, we also know that WE are the perfect moms for our children.

The Making of a Mom encourages moms to embrace the significance of their calling to motherhood…a role that only we moms can fulfill…a role that God has called us to and equipped us for.

And The Making of a Mom was uniquely written to minister to the hearts of moms while also providing a key resource for the local church and para-ministries.

With venue specific Planning Guides in the back of the book, instructions on how to begin M.O.M. Groups that will help the local church weave mentoring into the fabric of the church and serve as not only an in-reach resource, but a great outreach tool as well. And the questions at the end of each chapter serve as a catalyst for conversation for ministry and small group leaders, The Making of a Mom is the perfect resource for every church!

The Making of a Mom works in tandem with The M.O.M. Initiative as a tool to help the church minister to moms who know Christ and reach those who don’t. Through The Making of a Mom, you can help your local church make mentoring missional and impact your community and this culture for Christ.

The goal of The M.O.M. Initiative is to reach a MILLION MOMS for Christ.

The tool is The Making of a Mom. The vehicle is the local church. AND…if only 3 women in 1/2 of the churches in the United States would mentor just 3 other mothers, we could reach a MILLION MOMS for Christ!


Doesn’t her book sound awesome, friends? I love friends who dream big and pray bold — and that’s Stephanie for sure!

To find out how to order The Making of a Mom, you can go here.  But I’m pleased to have a copy to pass along to one blessed blog reader today. Woo Hoo!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*! May your week be joy-filled and sprinkled with much love, laughter, and fun family times!

Sweet blessings,



3 Tips for Surviving Social Media with Kids

social media basket
Mark your calendars! July 28th starts a week long, red-hot launch week! Grab your confetti — it’s time to celebrate! Prizes, giveaways, surprises, & more! Woo Hoo!

Hey Friends –

One of the hardest summer challenges for me has been navigating social media — especially with my gang.


My kiddos — love them!

As you know, John and I are blessed with 4 kiddos — ages 10, 11, 12 & 20.

Our oldest is in Colorado for the summer, so that leaves a soon-to-be 5th grader, 6th grader, and 7th grader at home.

Most of our daily summer conversations have gone like this, or so it seems –

  • “I said, ‘Put your iPpod touches away.’”
  • “I don’t care if everyone has an iPhone. No.”
  • “No screen time until your chores are done.”
  • “If I see your iPod one more time, it’s gone for a week.”

Am I the only one?!

I’ve spent this summer studying, implementing, reworking, praying, talking to other moms, pinning, & praying more. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.

3 Tips for Surviving Social Media with Kids

1. Set Boundaries

My rule for the kids & their friends: Everyone is welcome, but check your IPod/iPhone at the door.

My rule for the kids & their friends: Everyone is welcome, but check your IPod/iPhone at the door.

If clear boundaries are not set, my kids would text/play mine craft/face time all day long. AHHHH!

Boundaries we’ve set include:

  • Time limits (chores first, limited time, etc.)
  • No technology in bedrooms
  • Phones/iPods go in Mom’s basket when friends come over (have you ever noticed you’ll have 4 kids together and they’ll all be texting each other rather than talking.) Crazy!
  • Sign a Social Media Contract.  I found a great one here. (You can download it for free.)
  • Passwords must be known by a parent at all times, and yes, I will check, read, be in your business, and stalk you on-line. Get used to it. :)

2. Stay Involved

As I mentioned, yes, I read their texts, posts, Instagram pictures, etc. (so far only our boys are allowed on Instagram since they are older).  I am that mom.

It drives my oldest son Jake crazy — but, yes, I do stalk my children.

I’ve also found it very helpful to discuss social media with other involved moms to learn about apps to stay away from, websites to watch out for, etc.

untitled1We’ve also been having a lot of family time to discuss “hot topics” like cyber-bullying, porn, internet crime, and more.

In fact, last night over ice cream we read this book together as a family. Good stuff!

What ways have you found work best to stay involved with what your kids are doing on-line? I’d love to learn from you too!


3. Share Kindness

In our new “selfie generation,” (read this!) I’m trying to survive social media by reminding my gang to use social media for good.

Rather than only playing games and taking selfies, I remind my kids to share kindness through social media. I’m asking,

grandma rule“Who can you encourage? How can you be helpful to someone today? In what ways can you spread joy?”

And yes, they usually roll their eyes at me — but I’ve also seen them leave some group chats that were headed south quickly.

And remember “The Grandma Rule”: “If you wouldn’t show it, say it, or text it to grandma, don’t post, type, or send it!”


Additionally, I’ve learned I need to model healthy social media skills myself.

Screenshot 2014-07-19 00.31.19I can’t remind my gang of time limits and then text away all day myself.  I must also set boundaries and limits — and then stick to them!

For more Social Media Strategies with Kids, check out my Pinterest page here.

Your turn, friends!

How are you navigating the ever-changing world of social media, especially with our children?

Are there apps you’ve found to be helpful — or not so much — with your kids?

Do you set time limits or boundaries? Stalk your kids on-line? I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks so much for stopping by, sweet friend! Have a wonderful, joy-filled weekend!


P.S. My publisher is having a special red-hot contest! Click here for all the details. You could win a red cookware set, plus a copy of the Red Hot Faith Bible Study too. Woo Hoo!

Discovery House's red-hot giveaway!

Discovery House’s red-hot giveaway!


Why Today is Super Weird for Me

The birthday boy & his mama

The birthday boy & his mama

Hey Friends -

I’ve entered a new season of Motherhood.

Jake's party before he left for Colorado

Jake’s party before he left for Colorado

My “birdie” (aka my firstborn Jake) – has left the nest – flying from our home in Michigan to spend the summer in Colorado.

Today is his 20th birthday — and he is not here to celebrate.


Thankfully, since it’s not the first time he’s left our home, I’m a bit more used to the idea.

You may remember when Jake first started school at Aquinas College, I was a absolute and complete wreck. His biological dad and step-mom live walking distance from his new school, and Jake moved in with them.

I melted down.

Big time.

I’m a Psychology major who has studied “empty nest syndrome.” I’m a MOPS speaker who talks about embracing the seasons of life. I’ve read articles about moms who bawl for days when their babies go to college and thought to myself “that will never be me!” I’ve secretly laughed at my friend’s moms who slept in their daughter’s beds when they moved out. I made it through the first day of Kindergarten with barely a sniffle or two.

I’ve told my kids all along that I want them to have two things ~ wings and roots. I was raising my little birds to soar!

Only now I realize I prefer my little birdies right here with me!

In case you are entering a new season of motherhood in the fall, will be transitioning seasons soon, or just want to plan ahead – here is what I’ve been learning so far about when our “birdies” leave the nest –

1. Embrace “this” season.

jake in CO

Jake in Colorado

Just like we embraced and made it through the diaper stage, the early MOPS years, the elementary season (my favorite), the fun high school years, & college years - this new season will have many highs and yes, some lows.

When Jake started Aquinas, we went as a family and stocked up on new AQ gear, and I realized having a son in college could still be a lot of fun.

Now that Jake is in Colorado, I’m enjoying all the amazing pics he is sending of his new adventures (although I do find myself wanting to text him and say “Are you sure that’s safe?” — but I don’t.)

How are you learning to embrace your current season of life?

2. Feel Your Feelings

I’ll be honest, when life gets hard, most days I‘d rather just drink a Starbucks latte or pour myself a cold Diet Coke…. but not anymore.

Instead I’m asking God to help me feel these feelings and not just numb out.

If I numb the pain and sadness, I also numb out the joy and peace – and I’m not willing to go there.

Instead I need to feel these feelings and allow myself to grieve (yuck – remember I hate goodbyes) – but I’m trying.

3. Share Your Feelings

I’m super blessed with a close circle of friends & family who have been walking with me through this season of transition. Sending notes and emails. Reminding me “I’m normal.” Praying over me and letting me be real.

(Not to mention my husband John who has been a gem with a super emotional wife. I think we changed outfits 3 times Friday night – I just need to go for a walk. No, I need to go out. No, I need to watch a funny movie. No, I can’t be home, I need to go out. Let’s go to the movies please. Oh my! Thanks, honey!)

4. Create New Routines & Traditions

New seasons create opportunities for new routines and traditions. When Jake first went to college, I stepped down from teaching Bible Study weekly so I could be available for Jake as needed. We even had “Wednesday’s at Wolfgang’s” (a nearby great breakfast place) that was a huge highlight of my week.

5. Learn, Grow & Cling to Truth

New seasons are perfect opportunities for new growth. I want to be more like Jesus, and I’m asking God to teach me new, better ways to live through this transition.

I’m also super thankful for God’s Word and its powerful, life-changing, accomplishing work. (Where would we be without Truth?!)

I’ve added new arsenal to my belt of Truth, including verses like….

  •  Isaiah 30:15b - In Quietness and trust is your strength (the“Q” verse)
  • Psalm 119:28 – My soul is weary with sorrow; strenghten me according to Your Word.
  • Psalm 4:3 – Know that the Lord has set apart the godly for Himself, the Lord will hear when I call to Him.
  • Ecclesiastes 3:1 – There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven….

How about you, friend? What season of life are you in these days? What are you learning? How are you feeling? Share with us please!

Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*! I think I’m off to celebrate the amazing gift of life God blessed me with 20 years ago today — even if he is up a mountain somewhere in Colorado somewhere!

With a thankful, but somewhat sad heart, (just keeping it real!),




When You Eat Too Many Cookies

Hi Friends!

Have you ever had one of those long, discouraging, frustrating days?

Have you ever let your stress and frustration lead you to make choices that you later regretted?

Yeah, me too.

I was talking with a good friend last night, and she’d had a long, disappointing Monday.

Everywhere she turned she was pelted with lies, frustration, discouragement.

She was lamenting that at the end of her long day, in the midst of trying to bake cookies for a sick friend, after burning half of them, she finally gave in and ate some of the cookies she had wanted to avoid.

Her feelings of frustration led her to run to quick and easy comfort. Homemade, half burned cookies.

Only the cookies didn’t satisfy – and when we talked, she was now carrying the guilt and shame for the poor choice she had made.

I have so been there.

My guess is you have too.

Reminds me of when I once met with my therapist. I was telling her how disgusted I was that I had given in and eaten some of my homemade cookies.

My kids were 1, 2, 3, and 10. I was trying to make friends at Jake’s new school, and came up with the brilliant idea to invite all the 4th grade moms over for coffee, conversation, and homemade chocolate chip cookies.

I know, what was I thinking?!

I was a frazzled, non-baking, overwhelmed mess. In the midst of trying to wipe down counters, keep my preschool aged kiddos busy, roll store bought dough on cookie sheets, and frantically hide all our clutter – I gave in and ate (or more like inhaled) 4 cookies.

I sunk down on my therapist’s couch later that week and cried about my choices.

Trying to live up to other’s expectations. Striving to pretend I had it all together – when the reality was I was hanging on my a thread (a thin thread, at that). Hoping to impress with my baking skills. Longing for connection and acceptance. Disappointed that I tried to numb my feelings with homemade cookies – and then allowing the enemy to flood me with the lies and guilt and shame.

My therapist listened and nodded and finally said, “Cindy, do you think you are the only woman who has eaten some of her homemade cookies?”

“But I ate FOUR cookies. Not one, not two, but FOUR.” I quickly replied, still obviously filled with shame and self-loathing.

“Cindy, do you think you are the only woman who has eaten FOUR of her homemade cookies?” my therapist replied.

“Um, yeah, probably not.”

Last night, as I listened with my friend and gently encouraged her with words of grace and hope, I reminded her of the same words that were shared with me…”Do you think you are the only woman who has eaten some of her homemade cookies?”

Friend, I’m not sure what you are faced with today, but may I remind you, you are not the only one.

  • You are not the only one who deviated from your healthy eating plan.
  • You are not the only one who chose sleeping in vs. morning quiet time.
  • You are not the only one who yelled out of anger.
  • You are not the only one who let the kids watch TV so you could sneak in a nap or a chance to peek at FB.
  • You are not the only one who has feelings of disappointment, discouragement, or “overwhelmedness”.
  • You are not the only one who struggles with feeling “not enough” in a world filled with air brushed images of perfection.

You Are Not the Only One!

And the GOOD NEWS is that we get to make a different choice! We can extend and accept the same GRACE we would share with a girlfriend to ourselves.

We would never say to a friend who ate 4 cookies, “I know – you stink. You were a chubby girl growing up, and you will always be a chubby girl. You have no self control, everyone thinks you are fat, and no one likes you anyway.”

We would never say that, right?? Why do we let the enemy put such horrible, garbage thoughts in our head???!

We can choose grace over guilt!

We can choose freedom over frustration!

We can choose acceptance of ourselves (just the way that we are!) over constant criticism, self loathing, and comparison.

We can choose life…life to the full, more than enough, super abundance, full, free LIFE! (John 10:10)

How about you, dear friend?

In what areas are you struggling with feeling like you are the only one? How have you learned to live out your victory and freedom? I’d love for you to share with us, please!

May the God who made you, knows you, loves you, and desires to fill your days with good, rich, satisfying LIFE – remind you that you are not the only one wrestling with “stuff” and that you are accepted and loved (just the way that you are!)

Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*!

Sweet blessings ~





……repost from the archives….



Just Say No!

no_porn_480-s480x480-33769Sweet friends –

Here’s the deal – I so do NOT want to write this post.

Not one bit.

I’d rather talk about sparkly stuff, confetti, summer fun, red-hot faith – anything.

But not porn.

And if you’d rather click off now before I begin another late night ranting session, I totally understand.

I wouldn’t blame you at all.


My Monday morning started early with a heart-breaking, detailed email from a sweet friend from church. As she poured out her excruciating pain and anger and disgust into her written note to me, I knew where her story was going.

Yep, sure enough, she recently discovered her husband — a former church leader & dad to beautiful little girls — is smack dab in the midst of a porn addiction.

No woman ever wants to uncover filth and obscenities on their home computer.

Add to this the dreadful grief, shock, and horror we continue to process in West Michigan after the tragic findings and recent events that have rocked and shocked our conservative community.

How do we even begin to heal?

Lord help us all.  

And then I read statistics like this –

Christians and Pornography taken from Mind Armor Training Tools

  • 70% of Christian men admit to struggling with pornography in their daily lives.
  • 50% of Christian men and 20% of Christian women admitted to an addiction to pornography.
  • 55% of pastors admitted to visiting a pornographic site.
  • 57% of pastors say that addiction to pornography is the most sexually damaging issue to their congregation.

no_porn_480-s480x480-33769Y’all, this makes me want to cry or scream or spit or something. You too?

What in the world is going on here?

It’s time we all come together and say NO MORE!

Now first, please know — if you find yourself today as one of the statistics — a man or woman struggling with pornography in your daily life – may I please remind you that this is not a guilt and shame fest.

Not one bit. Promise.

As a former drug and alcohol addict, you will never find me throwing stones your way.


Jesus came so that you might have and enjoy life — in the abundance, more than enough, overflowing life (John 10:10) and I desperately want you to experience ALL that He has for you.  Life today — not when you give up the porn, or make things right, or just when you get to heaven.


But IT IS ALSO TIME — today — for us ALL to bring this destructive darkness into His light, and say NO MORE to these statistics.

No more ruined lives.

No more ruined relationships.

No more looking the other way while your spouse searches online.

No more deception and lies and secrecy and cheating and corruption.

No more.

May we NOT be ok with these shocking statistics, and quote and share them like we do the weekly weather report.

Friends, it’s time we come together and say NO MORE!

Now do I have all the answers?

Clearly no.

We know this, right?!

I’m just a mama on a mission to say I am NOT ok with pornography destroying precious kids’ futures and lives and our men and marriages and precious women and our church any longer.

Here’s what I’m declaring –

I will talk about porn in my home and read porn-proofing books and put strong filters on our computers and encourage personal accountability and pray like crazy to our amazing God — Who sees, Who knows, Who is in control.

I will look for ways my voice can count and I will NOT sit back idly and sweep it under the rug.

I will pray for darkness to be exposed, for healing to come, for God to do such a miracle in our midst that statistics would be drastically changed and there would be freedom and wholeness and life in homes and churches across the world!

I will just say NO to porn — for me, my family, and our whole family line!

Will you please join me? Pretty please?

Sweet friend, I’m not sure where my message finds you today — but please know, you are loved.

I may be fed up and frustrated, but I come alongside you as a trusted friend – a friend who knows the damaging and destructive effect porn has on our self esteem, our minds, and our hearts.

But we do not have to walk this journey alone. Promise.

We do not have to sit back and watch the enemy steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10) any longer.

I’m declaring my life a “porn free” zone.

Will you join me?

With a fired-up heart,



P.S. Here are some excellent resources to help you or a family member struggling with pornography.


Coming this fall!

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