Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Lifegiving Home by Sally and Sarah Clarkson

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of these books in exchange for my honest review and did not receive any additional compensation. All opinions are my very own. 


What comes to mind when you see or hear that word? 

It will be a myriad of things to each one of us. I have been pondering home a great deal lately, as we prepare to move once again. 

I've been recollecting all the places we have called "home" throughout our married lives (almost 24 years). I'm strolling back through the addresses, cities, counties, states, provinces and countries where we have chosen a dwelling place, moved in and called it home. There have been many, especially in the past four and a half years. I have taken pleasure in making a home over the years, wherever we are, whether a one bedroom apartment, a hotel room or two, a vacation rental, a large home on 3 acres with plenty of room to spread out or quite a few other varieties. I truly believe in the "bloom where you are planted" idea, but honestly, sometimes it's exhausting to think of all those moves.

And in the midst of thinking about packing boxes one more time, I'm wondering what semblance of home have I managed to salvage in so much transition?

When I was recently invited to be a part Sally and Sarah Clarkson's launch team for their newest book, The Lifegiving Home: Creating A Place of Belonging and Becoming, I knew it would be right up my alley. Sally has long been a favourite author of mine. I have read the majority of her books, and I have followed her blog for many years (back when it was "I Take Joy"). I have met her and had the honour of hearing her speak several years ago at a conference in Canada. What I didn't realize was how much The Lifegiving Home would speak to my heart and remind me of all the things I have treasured and hoped to create in the haven I call my home.

I love that Sally and Sarah, Sally's oldest child, collaborated on this project. They have done such a splendid job bringing their family culture to life on these pages. Even if you have never heard of Sally or read any of her previous books, you will know her beautiful heart through this book. And let me tell you how fun it is to hear from Sarah! She is an incredible author (don't miss her others books, too) and has such a poetic way with words. It is absolutely delightful to read words from both of them in one place.

Sally Clarkson is co-founder of Whole Heart Ministries (with her husband, Clay) and serves as its women’s ministry director. She’s the author of many popular books, including Own Your Life and Desperate (with Sarah Mae). As a mother of four, she has inspired thousands of mothers since 1998 through her Mom Heart Conferences and small groups.

Sarah Clarkson is author of two books on children’s literature, as well as a book of devotional stories and meditations for young women. She currently hails from Oxford, England, where she is studying theology.

As I've read through this inspirational book, chock-full of stories, experiences, preferences, ideas and ideals, I have been deeply strengthened as well as challenged, once again, to put my hands to the plow. I've realized how the difficulties of the past four, really almost five, years have affected me, and how much I needed a renewed vision for our Royce Family Culture. 

These next photos have been a helpful reminder of what our home has been and can be, in even greater proportions . . . a place of welcome . . . a place of beauty . . . a place of celebration . . . a place where God's Presence dwells . . . a place of coziness . . . a place of belonging, just to name a few.

This quote from Sally puts it succinctly and gives me a place to recommence. 

I also took time to ask my children what they think of when I say the word "home," especially as it relates to our specific family. This is the list they gave me:

Yellow (We've lived in two yellow houses.)
Home church/fellowship nights
Table spread with food

I have a few more words that I hope they will add in over the years, but for now, I think that was a pretty good foundation. I have new vision and even an excitement after spending time praying and dreaming about a new home. I know it will be a place of safety and refuge, of hope and healing, of love and laughter, as well as a place to rest and be renewed. 

I join my voice with Sarah's, as we both seek Father God for ways to bring joy, refreshment and life, as I have the honour of opening my current home and the future new home to family, friends and strangers alike. 

Blessings and love. xo

P.S. As you can see, I highly recommend this book for anyone who has the honour of making a home. Go now to buy The Lifegiving Home and The Lifegiving Home Experience today!

Disclaimer: This post contains my affiliate links. There is no additional charge to you to use these links, and I make a small commission. Thank you.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Deals of the Day!

Hello! I hope you're enjoying your Wednesday, whether you're still shoveling out of the East Coast snowstorm, like us, or enjoying time by your pool. The sun is shining here today and the snow is gorgeous in the sunshine. 

Here are some fantastic deals I'm happy to share with you today . . . 

Pocket Cowl Neck Tunic Dress - Small - XL - save 71%!

Two Toned Boot Cuffs - save 65%

Beautiful Winter Collection Earrings - 12 Styles - save 69%!

Everyday Tee Dress: All New Styles! - save 38%

"Indio" Long Statement Necklace - save 79%!

Plaid Rain Boot - 2 Colors - save 61%!

Natural Agate Pendant Necklace - 8 Colors - save 70%!

I just wanted to thank those of you who participated in the #StrongLikeYou campaign! The goal was met and now many of us have wonderful pieces of jewelry that remind us of the beautiful women artisans of Uganda who work with Musana International. Here is a photo of mine and the wonderful Fina who made it! 

And just for fun, I took a couple of photos of my new sweater today. It's been awhile since I've taken any outfit photos.

Sweater - Old Navy
Jeans - Old Navy
Earrings - old
Bracelet - Musana via
Shoes - Payless

Blessings and love. xo

Disclaimer: This post contains my affiliate links. This simply means that if you choose to make a purchase through these links, there is no additional cost to you, and I make a small commission. Many thanks!

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Plans I Have For You {Review and Giveaway!}

Ava (age 10) and I have recently had the opportunity to review this new devotion for children, The Plans I Have For You by Amy Parker, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton. 

About The Plans I Have For You Devotional
The devotional is an illustrated 90-day devotional written by bestselling children's book author Amy Parker and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, teaching and inspiring kids to dream about their future, to focus on faith, love, and joy, and recognize that God has a plan and purpose for each and every one of us.  

Hardcover; 160 pages
Age Range: 8-12 years

About The Plans I Have For You Journal:
The journal prompts creative thinking and exploration of the talents and personalities that make us special, and then helps explore how God may use our unique traits to spread love and joy and make the world a better place. 

Stationery; 208 pages 
Age Range: 11-14 years 

About author Amy Parker:
Amy Parker has sold more than thirty books for children, teens, and adults.  She has also collaborated with authors ranging from New York Times bestsellers to her very own son.  Two of these collaborations are recipients of Christian retailing's Best Awards, and she has also won three Mom's Choice Awards.  But Amy's greatest reward is being a wife to Daniel and a mom to their amazing sons, Michael and Ethan. 

About illustrator Vanessa Brantley-Newton:
Vanessa Brantley-Newton is a self-taught illustrator, doll maker, and crafter. Her passion for children's books began when she came across The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats as a child in the 1960s.  Growing up in a musical family who love to sing, Vanessa's illustrations are as fun and whimsical as a beautiful melody.  Vanessa currently makes her nest in Charlotte, NC with her husband of 20 years, their daughter, and a very rambunctious cat named Stripes. 

Our thoughts:
Ava has been reading this sweet devotional every day. I write it on her school work assignment page so she doesn't forget. She has been very happy to read the daily, usually one but sometimes two or three page, encouragements. She is a follower of Jesus and likes to read Scripture and devotionals to help her grow in her relationship with Him.  

There are six sections or 'sectors' as Amy calls them. Here are the sector titles:
* I've Got Big Plans For YOU!
* I've Given YOU A Purpose
* I Don't Do Things Small
* There's Nothing YOU Can't Do
* Find That ONE Thing
* What I Created YOU To Do

Each of the 90-day devotions is brief, full of truth and colourful. I love how this book is full of colour! Vanessa's illustrations are whimsical, warm and appealing. I am certainly looking up her other work.

The devotional is recommended for ages 8-12, and the journal is recommended for ages 11-14. Ava will be 11 soon, but we decided to save the journal for the summer. She will be able to take more time to think about the proposed thoughts and suggestions on each page and write her thoughts accordingly. I'm sure she will enjoy it, as well.

We recommend both of these books and have the pleasure of giving a set away! See below.



Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification. Open to residents of USA and Canada, age 18 or older.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blessings and love. xo

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Family Recipes - Mom's Minestrone Soup

One of my favourite things to do is to make a scrumptious dinner for my sweet family. And when it's one of my Mom's recipes, it's even more special. This is Mom's Minestrone Soup. I need to ask her where this recipe came from, as I'm 99.8% certain that we have no Italian heritage. You wouldn't know it, by how much we enjoy Italian foods, though. And this is one of our faves.

Mom's original recipe called for dried kidney beans. I don't think I've ever made it with dried beans, but feel free to do so. The above photo is incomplete, as I had forgotten to get out the garlic. And another ingredient that's missing is fresh spinach, because I had forgotten that I used the spinach in another dish a few nights ago. Whoops.

It starts with chopping some yummy veggies - celery, carrots and garlic. Sauté the trio in a little butter and olive oil for 3 or 4 minutes, then add in 3 cans of kidney beans, that have been drained, rinsed and half of them crushed. Mix in a large can of crushed tomatoes, some dried basil, dried parsley, 3 bay leaves, 2 boxes of chicken broth (or water), salt and pepper. Let that simmer for 30 minutes to an hour. Add in the macaroni pasta and cook for 15 more minutes. 

Fresh Parmesan cheese is the perfect topping to this delicious and filling soup. Serve with garlic bread or bread sticks, like I did last night or just add a green salad. Either way, it's the perfect meal for a chilly January night.

Mom's Minestrone Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
4 carrots, sliced
4 celery stalks with leaves, sliced
4-6 cloves garlic, chopped
3 cans kidney beans, drained, rinsed and half of the beans crushed
1 large can crushed tomatoes (or tomato sauce)
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried parsley
3 bay leaves
2 boxes of chicken broth (or the equivalent of water)
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
1 to 2 cups chopped fresh spinach
2 cups macaroni pasta
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese for topping

Chop celery, carrots and garlic. Sauté the trio in a little butter and olive oil for 3 or 4 minutes, add in kidney beans. Stir in crushed tomatoes, dried basil, dried parsley, bay leaves, chicken broth (or water), salt and pepper. Let that simmer for 30 minutes to an hour. Add in the macaroni pasta and cook for 15 more minutes. Add spinach in last 5 minutes of cooking.

Add Parmesan cheese as a garnish. Enjoy!

This recipe serves 8. It can easily be vegetarian by switching the chicken broth to vegetable broth or water. And it's a frugal recipe, too!

Blessings and love. xo

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Deals of the Day!

Happy Wednesday! I hope you're week is going great. I have some fun fashion deals to share, as well as some super cute Valentine's Day deals. 

White Plum's Print Leggings | 25 Styles!

Luxe Ruffle Dress Tunic!

Favorite Floppy Hat | New Colors

Valentine's Day Bodysuits and Toddler Tees

S- XL | Solid Palazzo Pants | 6 Colors

Valentines Day Bookmarks

Happy Valentine's Day Stacking Blocks

Blessings and love! xo

Disclaimer: This post contains my affiliate links. This simply means that if you choose to make a purchase through these links, there is no additional cost to you, and I make a small commission. Many thanks!