the inspire shop

#findthejoytoday notebook {free printable}

Tiffany Nicole

Our final craft last year for Pocket Blessings was putting together smash books. It was my first time making one and decided to theme mine for mamahood and finding the joy in the daily. I searched and gathered and printed little quotes that were encouraging to me and smashed them together with pretty papers and stickers and the like. I ended up miss punching the holes to bind it together, never fully finishing it and tucking it nearly in to my craft cabinet.

I loved the thought of it and idea behind it and combining it with the concept of savoring joy moments by writing them down, enabling them to last longer. This lead me to creating sheets and templates and layouts. An easy print out of all the inspiration and quotes in one place, not so smashed together. A little more organized and a little more cohesive, which I find I am loving these days. Along with the inspiration, there are places to write down moments from the day that you enjoyed and a landing spot for you to look for the joy throughout the day when there seems none to be had.

It is a place to carefully look at life and what captures your heart and births thankfulness, despite the difficult or monotony of the day. Because life is about these moments. It is about breathing and laughing and finding the joy, no matter how hard or easy. It is about being fully present and feeling and thanking God for it all when it does not always make sense and choosing joy.

The notebook is a place to hold this season of life, the moments that make up your life from the grandiose to the minute. There are places for pictures and writing and washi tape and whatever else floats your boat. You can number them or date them. The ideas are limitless.

For Pocket Blessings this past month, we put together these little notebooks, so I thought I would share them with other mamas out there. Here's a little how to, if you are curious and looking for direction. 

The details:

To make the cover:

We cut cereal boxes and cover board down to 8.5" x 5.5" using a rotary cutter. Chipboard or old books would work great, too.

We covered them with paper and fabric. I personally loved the paper covers, they were a little easier to cover. A 12" x 12" paper can cover both the front and back, when cut in half. I left the insides uncovered but they can be covered, too.

Punch holes with a crop a dile. Depending on your thickness, you could use a hole punch but it will not have the fun and durable eyelets to finish it off, like so. 

Inside:

There are a total of 28 different pages to print, which works best if you print on both sides.

Pages can be inserted in any order and reprinted to change the order of the pages.

Cut pages in half and hole punch. Be sure to punch holes at the same measurement as the cover. Add rings and it is finished and ready to be decorated. 

Create one for yourself and one for a friend. They make a perfect gift for a new mom or an experienced one. If you make one, be sure to share your awesomeness via #findthejoytoday. 

Join our adventure via our monthly newsletter to enjoy access to all our free printables.  

when mama ain't happy.

Tiffany Nicole
Growing up, I never understood the plaque lovingly given to my mama by my aunt: when mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy, and Mama's reluctance about it. Essentially, it is a little like calling the kettle black and goes along with the old adage I learned from my grandfather in law a few years back: happy wife, happy life.

The core truth is the enormous impact we have as mamas and wives in our home. We have the ability to set the tone. For fun and learning or anger and condemnation.

Proverbs has a few things to say about what it is like to live with a wife who chooses the latter (and it even says it twice):

Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife. Proverbs 21:9 + Proverbs 25:24

A quarrelsome wife is like the constant dripping of a leaky roof. Proverbs 19:13 + Proverbs 27:15

No mama or wife wants to be described as quarrelsome but as days progress and seasons change, it can be easy to get stuck in routine and for complaining to become a go to language, so I thought I would share my "go tos" when things get a little tough.

Praying

Being a prayerful wife and or mama is like going to war for to defend your country and a way to keep God at the center of your home. Prayer is powerful and the way to combat spiritual warfare, to bring about a servants heart in yourself and others, and a means to be in relation with the God of the universe constantly.

In the midst of a disagreement with your spouse or child, taking time to invite God in to the situation is life changing. It gives new perspective and renews the heart and mind. It is hard to be bitter in the presence of a powerful God and a great reminder of his sovereignty overall.

Having someone praying for you throughout the day is a powerful weapon, as well. Being able to text a friend or spouse during a rough patch is encouraging for both parties involved, witnessing the need and the response.

Scripture

Taking a break throughout the day to read scripture brings God's word to life, even if it is just a moment. Instead of reaching for Facebook or other social media, open your bible to see what God has to say, if only for a few verses.

Having a set time through the day to study scripture is key to growing in your faith and trust in God, allowing you to reflect him during the harder times.  

If you do not have a chance to read, listening to scripture is a great option, too. The YouVersion Bible App has an audio portion that reads the bible to you, perfect to listen to in the car or while you do dishes. SeedsFamily Worship puts scripture put to songs, which I love to listen to anytime but really comes in handy on harder days.

Sing praise songs



When worship starts, it is hard to stay angry or mad. Being able to change your focus from the situation to God makes everything seem a little smaller and keeps God in perspective. 

Praying for you, whether your home is brimming with peace of filled with discontentment, that you would encounter God throughout your day and that it would change the ambience of your home. Praying that God would show you ways to make your home a haven and that you would diligently out in work to make it so, whether by picking up extra chores or not perusing a disagreement. Praying you would cloth yourself with strength and peace and mercy and strength as you serve your family and that you would be able to pour it out on them.

Here's to mamas and setting the tone. 

Guest Post: Imperfect Mom Confessional

Tiffany Nicole


This morning I am excited to be apart of the Imperfect Mom Confessionals Series hosted by Jenn at Busy Being Blessed. Mamas and writers from around the web are coming together to speak Truth about mamahood from its joys to the trials and how Jesus comes to rescue always. 

Too often in life, especially in parenting, our best feet are put forward along with perfectly set smiles and the appearance that everything is grandeur. But the more life happens and the deeper with Jesus I get, the more I see the imperfections of people and it almost hurts to see those with their perfectly painted smiles when deep down it is easy to see they are truly breaking. Facades are not a life but a lack there of and this series is about getting real.

So here is a little bit more of what mamahood and all its imperfections has taught me so far.

Embracing the imperfection as a mom is the place in mamahood where transformation takes place and dependence on God deepens. Mamahood is the piecing together of a puzzle. Each piece giving us a bigger picture of Jesus. Of his grace and mercy and love. With each passing season and newly formed stories, our reflection grows closer to his.

My soul has stretched along with my skin, revealing more depth and wisdom. It has exposed every flaw, every sin, every negative, bad part in me that I never knew existed, yet grown me closer to Christ. It has changed me in ways I could never have imagined and I am only four years in.

Mamahood has pushed me to binge eating chocolate chips in the cupboard during tantrums and bouts of crying; praying, God help me and help me stop eating these things. I never understood stress eating prior.


Read the rest over here and be sure to follow the series as other bloggers share their thoughts and stories. 

There is also a Pinterest Board full of great encouragement + resources for mamas. Have a look =)

#findthejoytoday

Tiffany Nicole

God has been teaching me to choose joy and find the joy in the everyday moments since the birth of baby number two. Reminding me of the constant choice to see the beauty and the fullness of life around me. To see the beauty in the rainbow formed by crayons scattered all over the floors and seeing the mountains of laundry as abundant provision and the ongoing snack prep as little thanksgiving feasts because life can be good but we were made for greater. We were made for joy in the depths of our souls and fullness beyond measure. 

For Christmas, my mama got me Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts Devotional and then was gifted the actual book a few months later, which I have been reading through ever so slowly. God has been working and guiding me subtly, training my eyes and mind and heart to see the joys scattered throughout out the days. Seeing them through His lenses.

Right now, finding the joy is embracing a little messier house with unfolded laundry and longer sitting dishes. Finding joy is rocking tired babies to sleep when my body says it would rather be snuggled in my sheets. Finding joy is opening my eyes to the brokenness around me and watching God restore and piece it together. Finding joy is teeny seeds budding in the kitchen and little rain drops on the patio. Finding joy is eating vanilla ice cream next to my best buddy, while the kiddos sleep. Find joy is sending cards in the mail for reasons only God knows.



Finding joy is finding myself in the present. It is focusing on what my senses are taking in. The sights. The smell. The taste and the touch and the sound. It is not focusing on the next but the now.

True joy is a byproduct of following Jesus, mingled with trusting God and a fruit of the Spirit.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

As we trust in God, the God of hope, we are being filled with joy and peace, two interlinked fruits. The purpose being to overflow with hope through the power of the Spirit. It is a constant process of ebbs and flows and findings.

Finding joy is finding the water to the thirsting soul. Finding joy is stopping the busy and multi  - tasking and simply breathing. Tasting each moment to its fullest, letting it sit on your tongue until at last the flavor dissolves, leaving you with a smile pressed on your lips and thankfulness tucked in your heart, as the clock ticks away putting you one step close to entering eternity.

Praying you find joy in your every day moments that are here today and gone tomorrow.  Praying that your eyes would be opened to the beauty around you. That you would be able to find if nothing more, one thing that catches your eye with glimpses of the extraordinary.

A community of joy is contagious and much needed in the day to day, whenever you have a #findthejoytoday moment you'd like to share, be sure to post to Instagram to bless and encourage others. From the minute to the grandiose. Whatever you find joy in today.

Here's to finding the joy today. 


children's bible resources

Tiffany Nicole


Children's bibles  are a great way to dive in to the story aspect of scripture and understand it in a simple manner. God uses them to speak not only to children - I have learned bunches as I have read them, as well. Penny received her first children's bible as a baby shower gift. Once she was old enough to sit long enough to look at pictures we read it to her. She accumulated a handful of favorite stories and we read them over and over and over. And the bible became well loved and warn and taped from reading it so much.

I love reading the bible with her but it gets a little old reading the same thing again and again and again, so we started looking for more options. I thought I would share some of our bible stash, if you will, just in case you need some options, too. We received some as gifts and found others second hand.

The Rhyme Bible: Growing up, I loved Roald Dalh and this has a Roald Dalh feeling to it. Fun and catchy phrases with intriguing sketched / water colored illustrations.

Alice in bibleland: Parallels the Through the Looking Glass concept of Alice in Wonderland but with bible stories and captivating rhymes. Each book is a difference story. 

The Beginner's Bible: Easily understandable bible stories with clear concepts and basic illustrations.

The Jesus Story Book Bible: More descriptive stories with entertaining illustrations. The artwork is more interactive (i.e. full page horizontal pictures) and great for discussing and interpreting.

Tiny Bears Bible: Charming, simple poems about bible stories for the little ones with adorable illustrations to represent them.

Praying that this gets you thinking about your child's spiritual formation, no matter the age. Praying that you would lead your child in studying the bible and that it would be a fun and memorable experience for you both. Praying that you would find materials suitable for your child that keeps questions coming and learning abounding. Praying that you would not dismiss the messages as you read, no matter how small or simple they appear; God's word is always there to teach.

Praying that you would make time to read and teach your child more about God's word if you have do not have routines set already. Praying that you and your child would see glimpses of God's glory as you learn and grow together in this adventure. Praying that the concepts learned would overflow in to your daily life and be engrained in the heart of your little disciple, God's masterpiece.

Here's to discipleship and reading and learning and growing with your child.  

favorite resources

Tiffany Nicole


Nothing beats a great church with biblical teaching and awesome community, along with personal bible study, but there are other awesome resources that compliment them well. Thought I would share some of my favorites that I use weekly, if not daily. Think of them as old friends with lots of wisdom to give. Great for encouragement and answering practical issues within marriage, parenting, culture and everywhere in between.


I keep the widget on the front of my phone so there is always scripture to look at when I open it. Not to mention I love having access to the bible wherever I am. And it's a free app.



This site has parenting advice, stories of mamahood and God rolled in to one. If you are a mama, you cannot go wrong checking this out.



Full of practical information on relationships, marriage, parenting and life in general. I LOVE the podcasts. I always learn something from them.



Geared to women in different life stages, it has inspiring posts about life and God. And of course the annual free in(RL) conference is amazing
 




Music is HUGE influencer for me and since I have started listening to Christian music there is nothing I enjoy listening to more. I highly recommend making the switch for a week and see the difference it makes in your daily routines. 


I am usually not one to recommend things but I think it is important to share some resources that help my walk. Perhaps God will use them to help you, too. This is not a sponsored post, just some recommendations from one friend to another. Hope enjoy them as much as I do.


What are some of your favorites?

like mama, like daughter

Tiffany Nicole
As I wrote recently about seeing beauty in yourself, it made me think about a Women of Faith conference event I attended several years ago. Sheila Walsh spoke of witnessing her mom speaking badly of herself. She put herself down and was not happy with her own appearance and yet would compliment Sheila. The impact it made on her as a child seeing her mom so unhappy with her appearance was immense. I cannot recall all the details of it but the message is clear.

Putting yourself down in front of your child takes away from her seeing the beauty in herself, as she looks up to you for guidance.

Life happens in the moments, the little ones that you just about miss, with two little eyes watching you closely. The things you say and do become ingrained in to their memory and a part of who they are: the way you pronounce words, the way you comb your hair, the way you eat your food and the silly way you move your hands when you talk. All of your mannerisms, for better or worse, get compiled in these little people. Your own disciples. 

With my affinity for singing, bath time commemorates with my own version of the chorus from "I Feel Pretty," with Penny in my arms, gazing at ourselves in the mirror. I know, cheesy. It is one of those things that just happened and now simply cannot be missed, her in my arms and all, even though she is more than half my height. The fact that her baby bath was on the bathroom sink, with her mirror right there probably had something to do with it.

I think it is in these moments that children feel loved and know that they are valued. As a mama it is crucial to instill worth on your child, especially in a society that degrades women and is forced to compare themselves to fake, photoshoped ladies. The power of words play an important role. What you do not say may have more impact than what you. No mama wants to hear how her daughter cannot stand her shoulders or her hips are too big. It was God who blessed her with the practically webbed toe and strategically placed mole when he knit her together so carefully, so be sure to remind her.

You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.  Song of Solomon 4:7

God says you are beautiful. Your daughter is beautiful. The lady next to you on the bus is beautiful. The woman across the coffee shop counter is beautiful. And the one in the cubical next to you. Perhaps God wants you to tell one of his daughters how beautiful she is today. 

I pray that if you are a mama or not, that you would build up those around you. That you would instill a positive message of beauty on others. That you would not give in to putting yourself down as others around you may so easily do. I pray that you would stand your ground and hold tight to the beauty God has lavished on you. That you would build others up and reveal to them the beauty in themselves.

Here's to making sure she knows how beautiful she is and how God made her flawless. To more compliments and less put downs.

fear not, mama

Tiffany Nicole
When I gave my life to Jesus, my fears vanished. There was nothing left to fear. If I were to die, I knew I was all set. I was concerned about those I knew who had not yet met Jesus but I knew his timing would be perfect and not to worry about it.

Then I found out we were expecting. Somewhere along the positive pregnancy test fear was conceived, too. I worried I would lose the baby. I didn't tell anyone I was pregnant until after the first trimester for fear of miscarriage. I had a hard time believing I was going to be a mama. Our home remained free of baby paraphernalia until a friend brought over a cute basket with bath soaps. The little basket seemed so out of place in our small apartment. I continued to stay clear of any baby purchases for fear our place would be scattered with the paraphernalia without a baby to go along with it all.

Days and weeks and months went by. I checked the What to Expect app practically daily, reading interesting stats and tips and stories shared by other mamas. Baby continued to grow. All the tests looked great. Doctors said everything was fabulous. But I had read somewhere that someone's baby had this and that and no one knew and things got overlooked. Random scenarios played themselves over in my head.

When I went to my 37 week appointment, my doctor told me everything still looked great and that baby could be making her debut any day. What?! had yet to do anything baby related. The room was littered with all the gifts from the baby shower the week before. The bumpers still needed sewing. Clothes and blankets needed washing. Decals were to be put up. But in the back of my mind, the horrible scenarios continued to play out.

On a Friday evening, our little baby girl entered the world. Perfect in every way. I was officially a mama. And what was this mama to do? Read up on everything baby related. Sleeping. Eating. Developmental skills. I drove myself crazy. I needed an intervention, really. Months of worrying over everything. Was she breathing? Did she poop yet? Is the jaundice finally gone? Was she getting enough to eat? How is eczema treated? Is that rash part of the eczema or something else entirely? Projectile vomiting?! Was she rolling over yet? Was I doing everything I need to make her successful? Because everyone knows an infant needs to succeed. I was in constant fear that something was not right. And the books were of no help. Each one tells you something different.

One day God finally intervened. Well, I am sure he tried before hand, I just was not listening. I closed the books. Stopped comparing her to every baby I met or read about. I let her just be. No more nap attempts. No more failed routines. No more expectations. No more worry. No more fear. Peace returned in full capacity. It is amazing what listening to God will do, isn't it?

I wish I would have truly given everything to God to begin with. Truly surrendered her to Him at her baby dedication. Trying to make sure nothing bad happens is a horrible spot to be in seeing it is clearly is impossible. And the fear and worry make everything else so much harder. It takes the joy out of life. Of being a mama. Knowing God was with me and had her in his hands is comforting and would have been great to actually be living it out and believing it. Thankfully, God gave me another go at the whole thing and let me know He was with me every step of the way and continues to remind me He is watching over them and me, covering me with more peace that I even thought possible. 

Pregnancy number two started with more bumps than the first. Our first ultrasound there was no heart beat to be heard. The due date was unsure, so the doctor proceeded to tell us it could be too soon or I could have miscarried. The response was not what I was expecting, yet I was at peace about it. I knew that God was in control this time. I did not let fear get its grip on me. We waited. Another week. This time we had already told our family and close friends the day we found out and now we asked for prayers for our little baby. For God to do His thing. We returned. Beating away, we saw the heartbeat on the monitor and listened closely to the sound. The sound of life. The sound of hope. The sound of answered prayers. The sound of peace.

At our twenty week appointment we had our in depth ultrasound to check for the usual things. They checked and looked and poked and wrote on a piece of paper the sex baby, so we could take it to a bakery and find out with our family together that night. That afternoon I got a call from the doctor's office telling me that I needed to come back in for more pictures. Nothing is wrong, they assured me. Just need more pictures. More waiting. More peace followed. More waiting. More prayers. Everything was perfect. 

Over a month before my due date, I was in the hospital with contractions every three to five minutes and dilated to a three. The nurse looked at me and told us nonchalantly, baby could be coming today. Today?! We asked for more prayers for baby. The contractions finally stopped and we returned home. Two trips later, we had a healthy boy born about three weeks early. Healthy and perfect and covered in prayer, which is why we concluded that Elijah was a perfect middle name. A man of prayer. 

I pray that if you are living with fear or worry, you would turn it over to Jesus. It is amazing what it can do and how God will show you how to trust him all the more. Perfect love casts out fear and when we trust God, we allow ourselves to bask in his unfailing love. I wish I would have been able to do that with my first pregnancy but God redeemed it with my second and for that I am thankful. 

Isaiah 41:10 is one of my favorites about fear, so I thought I would leave you with an 8x10 printable, just in case you need a reminder. Click on picture to download. It is a great one to have memorized when fear creeps in.

Here's to more trusting and less fear. More smiles and less worry. 



becoming a mama

Tiffany Nicole
When I thought about becoming a mom I never thought about what it REALLY entailed and entered it blindly with visions of ruffled dresses and head bands dancing in my head. I had such a hard time coming to grip with the fact I was going to have a baby that the reality of  what it meant to have a baby hardly came to play. The fear of having a healthy baby overtook my thoughts of what motherhood had for me. I have been around children since I was one myself. I babysat, helped in children's church and just about anything else you do with kiddos. I really enjoyed it and never thought anything of motherhood except that one day I would enter in to it. Dirty diapers and teeny cut vegetables were easy enough.

Motherhood is nothing like I thought it would be. For that I am extremely grateful but a little heartbroken at the same time. As your wedding vows state: for better or worse, the same goes with having children. For better or worse. Better when they sleep through the night. Better when they listen to your request. Better when they tell you they love you as you kiss them good night. For worse when they throw themselves on the ground in public. Worse when bad habits like nose picking reveals itself. Worse when they tell you they do not want to listen in a not so nice tone.

The journey thus far.

Being a mom is about giving up more of yourself than you ever thought possible or ever really wanted to give to begin with. It is about learning to be consistent, yet knowing when to give in and give that last minute cookie before bed. It is about doing things out of your comfort zone all in the name of fun. It is about getting back to your roots and relearning what fun really is. It is seeing Jesus being lived out in the little lives of those he has given you for a short while.

Motherhood breaks you forever. It takes you to places you don't want to go and teaches you lessons you don't want to learn and forces you to truly rely on God. For comfort during the tough times. For thankfulness during the good times. For him to watch over them as they head out in to the world to do what he ever so carefully placed them here to do for a time such as this. For grace when you mess up. And trust me, you will mess up but thankfully you have grace to cling to!

Motherhood is a journey. A real adventure filled with toothless smiles and shrieks and piles of laundry and messy hair and snuggles and first laughs. It is a beautiful mess. It is something that changes you before you have a chance to see where it happened. Somewhere between the positive pregnancy test and the first cry there is a shift in your soul and motherhood hits you and God shows up to guide you.

Part of me wishes there would have been some class that really prepares you for this stuff. Tells you really how hard it will be and just how tired it is humanly possible to be. Takes you through it all and then asks you in a monotone voice: do you wish to continue?  Hmmm...do I wish to continue? 

Really, there is nothing that I would enjoy doing more than being a mama. It is not for the faint of heart but somewhere along the line, another switch is flipped and God makes you strong enough and brave enough and allows you to do things you never thought possible. To feel things you never thought possible. It is truly a little miracle wrapped in God's love and mercy. These are the tiny people God has given to you to love and to mold you and change you in to the person he has made you to be.