Gospel Centered Mom {Book Review}

I was recently given the opportunity to read through, study and review this book before it’s release date. The title intrigued me when I first saw it. As a Christian mom, I desire to point my children to the gospel regularly and in every aspect of their lives but I don’t always know exactly what that might look like or practical ways to incorporate it into our daily lives.

As I was reading through the book several thoughts stood out to me as key to the whole thought of a gospel centered mom…. the first was the idea that there is “more than just now”- that concept that as we keep eternity in view, the rest of life starts to fall into place.

This was especially meaningful to me as while I was reading the book some events happened that really caused me again to look at life in light of eternity, trust in God’s plan even when it is not what “I” wanted and was reminded once again of the reality of the hope of heaven and the sweetness that day will bring.

The next concept is really what I feel most of the book was about…. and that is, it’s not our kids, our home, our life….

It’s US….. it’s us turning to Jesus at every point, every turn, every hour, to immerse ourselves in the Word and as we grow and live out our faith, our kids are watching us and learning from our example.

Our kids see the change or the impact Jesus and the Bible have in our lives and they are able to mimic us. As we become more like Christ and focus our thoughts on truths in the Word; our actions, our words and our lives reflect better the Gospel message to our kids and other around us.

There are definitely many other wonderful truths in this book, Brooke has done a wonderful job writing out her thoughts and then backing them up with Scripture references as well. A mom in any season of life will benefit from this book and it would make a wonderful small group study as well with discussion questions in the back. I am glad I was able to read this book, it was especially poignant in this season of my life, and I would highly recommend it to all of you moms!

The book releases today, August 1, 2017….. Read more about the book and purchase it HERE!

{affiliate link, thanks for your support!}

Love this quote and need a reminder on your fridge? Check out our shop here……

Rhythms of Life

As each moment passes, each day, each week…. the weeks turn into months and the months into another year. I realize that life keeps marching on, some days pass quickly and others I just want to push fast forward, the next day I am looking for the pause button but through it all life keeps moving. Each day has a rhythm of its own, sometimes fast, sometimes slow but those rhythms flow together to make the song my life is playing.

I realize I want to make the most of these days, the kids are growing quickly and yet seem to last forever in that stage in which we are struggling. There are days when I wish for a circle of moms to give evening awards….. “good job for you, you made 3 meals today;, “mom of the day for realizing your child’s snow boots are 3 sizes too small”; “wife of the moment, you were actually ready for bed the same time he was”; “teacher of the week, you got 2 pages of math finished”; “lady of the day, you got out of bed and made it through the day”…… that circle of friends that realizes and appreciates what an effort something was and rejoices with you in the large and small victories of the day. A circle of friends to encourage and spur on to another day, another step toward living with intention, cherishing each moment, loving always and speaking with grace and kindness. 

I love to read and I have read many encouraging books. In fact, its a rare moment I am not in the middle of at least one “mama, encouraging, wife, parent” style book….. {currently I am reading Life Management for Busy Women by Elizabeth George and Rhythms of Rest by Shelly Miller and The Life Giving Home by Sally Clarkson} But there are a couple books I will re-read each year. Pursue the Intentional Life by Jean Fleming is one of them. It’s one I like to read this time of year as we begin another calendar year and remind myself of the need to live with intention, regardless of the season of life I am in. Jean Fleming is an author I have read many times over the last 12 years, her “A Mother’s Heart” book being one of the first books on mothering I ever read and another one I have read numerous times.

To start out this year, I have decided I’d like to read through this book with some of you. Perhaps its a book that sounds interesting to you. Maybe you just need some accountability to be building God’s Word and good truths into your life, maybe you need a circle around you to encourage you on a daily basis….. this is for you. Because it is the easiest format for many people, I have created a small group, a private forum on Facebook for this group. I have quite a variety of ideas of what we could do in this group and while I am still meshing some things together in my brain, this is something I have been mulling over for awhile already, I decided I just need to start somewhere and see what may come together. 

My plan is to post daily, Monday through Friday, a short something on each chapter in the book. Conveniently there are 31 chapters, however, in order to give some room to catch up and with the weekends, we will take a little longer to go through the book. I have a Bible reading to go with each chapter with the intention of being in the Word on a daily basis as well as gleaning truth and encouragement from the words of this book, Pursue the Intentional Life. My plan right now is to start Monday, January 9th.  In addition, I hope to use this space as a place for us to encourage each other, get ideas for struggles in our daily life, bring some joy to each day and accountability to build habits into our lives. I hope to read through some other good books through the year, as well as e a place for habit building in the areas of menu planning, exercise or other areas the habits need built up in.

If you are interested in joining us, go HERE and request to join the group. You can also email me at jen@claffs.com for more information. And if you would like to join in and aren’t on Facebook often, you can download an app for Facebook that is just for groups, you do need a Facebook account but then you can access just our group from this app and not the rest of Facebook if that is something that works better for you.  Access Google Play store HERE or the iTunes store HERE, it’s a free app on both!

You will need to purchase this book that we will be reading through, but trust me, it is well worth the money and is a wonderful read! Click here for the best Amazon price currently, plus it’s my affiliate link, so I get a little tiny kickback though your price won’t change!  {Oh and look, look….. it’s available in an audio format too if this is an easier way for you to read!}  Once you are in the group, I will make sure you have the daily Bible reading plan that you can download or print and of course, there will be the daily posted encouragement and thoughts for each day.

I’ll be using the #rhythmsoflife and #rhythmsoflifemama hashtags in other social media venues and blog posts, if you would like to use as well you may!

So…. who’s in? 😉


Who is your ‘everyone’?



As I read this verse a couple weeks ago, I was struck by the words in these few sentences. “Christ in you, the hope of glory” is the overarching theme, this is bottom line, Christ is in us and we have the hope of heaven and glory with Him.

And then I was struck by the “everyone” that is repeated 3 times….. “warning everyone & teaching everyone” – this pretty much sums up the life of a homeschooling mama 😉 Most days if I am not actually teaching the kids something at any given moment, it seems that I am disciplining, training or reminding of rules or manners…. and yep, “everyone”, all 6 kids, going from one to the next all. day. long. From keeping the bigger boys on track to complete tasks, school and chores, to spending time teaching the kids and making progress there, to training them in words, actions and attitudes. It never ends.

And yet, keep reading….. what’s the goal dear mama? “to present everyone mature in Christ”. Honestly, this is my bottom line goal with my kids. Yes, schooling and learning is important. It is good that they know to flush the toilet and wash their hands, they need to be motivated to complete tasks and take pride in their work. But at the end of the day it’s growing these little souls into strong, deeply rooted and mature in Christ and that their hearts and souls belong to Him.

It seems to be an overwhelming task. But I love how the verses close out….. it’s with HIS energy that HE powerfully works in me. Yes, we toil and yes, we struggle but He gives us the strength to complete the task He has set before us. In His energy and His power He chooses to work through our lives to reach their little lives.

As I read this and saw my children in “my everyone”, they are my focus and task in this season of my life, but perhaps you are in a different season. Maybe your “everyone” is different from mine. It doesn’t change the fact that God desires for His energy and His power to work within you, to reach those in your sphere for Him, to show His glory and truth to those around us.

Who is your everyone? How can you be encouraged today by these words?

Perspective {10 years after a miscarriage}


Perspective…… so much of what we see depends on the perspective we have. We may not see the big picture of all that is happening around since. “You cannot see the forest for the trees in the way” or “Hindsight is 20/20”, pithy little sayings reminding us that our view of life is limited.


I remember my second pregnancy quite well. It lasted just 10 weeks. Exactly 10 years ago today. And when it ended in a miscarriage, one Tuesday afternoon in the doctors office there were many different emotions playing through my brain and body that day. Driving home that day with my 10 month old firstborn in his carseat and a small specimen container holding the remains of our baby, I was sad and yet at peace, the miscarriage happened in the best possible scenario; my husband was with us, able to drive me to the doctors office, everything happened quickly and completely with no complications. We were given the option of keeping the baby and we able to bury him in a special spot. This provided good closure and completeness to his short life. As we drove home, we talked about the fact we both were both fairly sure the baby would have been a boy and choose to treat him as such. I asked if we could name him, without realizing it at the time, this was a big part of the healing process and allows us to treat this child as that…. one of our children. All of our kids know who he is and that they have a brother in heaven. 

As we talked about it, a song came on the radio. It was a popular one at the time, “Great is our God” by Chris Tomlin. As we listened to the song play, Kieran asked if we could find a name that meant “great is our God”. Once home I started searching through names, I found one, Gedaliah, that meant “God is great” and so that was his name. 

While we mourned the loss of this baby, God in His grace gave us another just a short time later and we welcomed our second-born 11 months later. When the kids ask about Gedaliah and how old he would be, it’s hard to comprehend that had he lived we wouldn’t have our Colm. God knew who we needed and He is working His good for His glory in our lives and each of our children.MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Gedaliah’s short life has given me a great appreciation for the sanctity of life. Seeing his small body, just forming, yet with head, arms, legs, belly and even the start of fingers and toes able to be seen, I was given a glimpse of the hand of God as it forms each little person. And it has given me an empathy I can share with other moms who experience a miscarriage, it’s a hard process to go through, yet I am thankful for the growth and strength that comes from it.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:12-16 ESV)

And perspective; Gedaliah’s life gives my life perspective….. it’s a reminder that heaven is real and I can look forward to the day when we are able to see him again….. it’s a reminder that life is precious, each and every life….. it is a reminder that our God is great and greatly to be praised, that He holds each detail of our lives in His hands….. that little life accomplished much in my life and I am thankful today to have experienced it and be able to share him with others.

great is our God

This photo above was taken from near the spot where we buried Gedaliah, a peaceful piece of ground with a pretty view as a reminder to us of the greatness of our God.

Have you experienced a miscarriage? Tell me about your little one and what you learned through their life in the comments below.


Behold the Beauty: a book review

Psalm 274-2

A few weeks back I received an email from a friend of mine; a lady I don’t know super well but one that I am always glad to hear from ’cause she is a wonderful woman of God and someone I admire. We met many years ago – now that I am thinking about it, I cannot believe it’s been that long! – but her boys were all still so young at the time, her youngest not even born yet. But I always loved her ready smile and encouraging words even as a young woman myself, not yet married or having kids.  As life does however, our lives somewhat drifted apart as I got married and moved around but we continued to stay in touch through our respective blogs and the occasional emails. So, when she emailed me about a book she had just written and published asking if I would like to review a copy….I said yes; I definitely wanted to see and hear her words of wisdom and thoughts on life!


The title of the book, Behold the Beauty, is based on the verse in Psalms 27:4: “One thing I have asked from the Lord, that shall I seek; That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple.”

As I read that verse, I stopped and just contemplated that thought…. ONE THING, this one thing I have asked…THIS is the one thing I seek…. to dwell in God’s presence and see His beauty…… what a wonderful thought to contemplate.

This book is an easy read, with short chapters and inviting stories and thoughts, as Monica delves into the concept of being in the Word, allowing the Bible and God’s Word to impact every area of our lives and to seek hard, to seek faithfully, and apply the truths given in God’s Word. As I was reading it, I realized this would make a wonderful read for my oldest as well. As he is beginning His own walk with the Lord, this book offers good direction on the “how- to” of Bible reading and study. It gives some great ideas on various ways to read a passage, different views to take to glean from the words given there. But at the same time, I was challenged as well, as a more ‘seasoned’ Christian, to look at my reading perhaps in a new way. It challenged me to think more about the time spent in the Word and to make that time more meaningful.

I think this quote from one of the chapters sums up well the heart of the book…..

“…..to feed my excitement over God’s love for me, and to be more and more convinced of His greatness, I look carefully into the details of His Word. To see each story, to immerse myself in the detailed events of the Bible, and to hear every word of each conversation in the Scriptures is to grow my understanding of who God is….”

Written from a first person standpoint, like you are sitting and conversing together over a cup of tea, each chapter is summed up with questions and ideas for applying the truths, making this book very practical and a wonderful addition to your daily reading.

I do highly recommend this book, not just from the truth of the content and it’s validity and well-written truths, but also from a knowledge of the person who penned the words, whose life is seen living out the words she shares, a life worth looking at and emulating.

As we close out this year of 2015 and are moving into the new year, may I encourage to renew yourself in the coming days by ‘pushing pause’ and assessing where you are spiritually? What changes would you like to see in the coming year? What is a small step you can take this week to help you achieve that goal? If spending more time in the Word, or increasing the quality of your reading time is on your list, this book, Behold the Beauty would be a wonderful read. I would also highly recommend Feeding Your Soul: A Quiet Time Handbook. This has been another book that has impacted my reading time as well as Jean’s latest book, Pursue the Intentional Life.

You can find the book in print or Kindle here on Amazon {aff link} – and you can enjoy more of Monica’s writing in her blog or Facebook & Twitter.

thoughts for today

Need some encouragement to make it through the rest of the week? I have been thoroughly enjoying the book,  “Teaching from Rest” by Sarah Mackenzie. It has given me some great ‘food for thought’ and practical ideas on making the most of my days.

TFR-do less 1

“What you must do, however, is find a way to relish this ordinary Wednesday. Do whatever you need to do to behold the face of God in your children and to delight in them.
There is always more to do. There are always more subjects to cover, more lessons to get to. You can work to the point of exhaustion and still feel lacking. Or you can take this day, today, this gift of the present, and you can live it. You can seek first the Kingdom of God here on earth and by doing so, model the best kind of living to your kids.” (SM, TFR pg 60)

In light of the above thoughts, how can you make today a good day? Or better yet, go do it and come back and tell us how your day went



He loves to love us…..

posted in: gracewords, thoughts | 1

rainbow 3

I was reminded again this week how much God loves to love us. It was my youngest daughter’s 4th birthday. As the weather is approaching fall now the weather forecast was for cloudy skies and a chance for rain most of the day. Somehow the topic came up and I recall casually mentioning we had a good chance for rain that day – I was probably encouraging them to go play outside for awhile since we did start the day with a little sunshine 😉sunrise

A little while later, mid morning, little A came up to me and told me “I just prayed and asked God to send a rainbow today”. I told her that was great and we’d have to watch and see what happened with the day. And then it totally left my mind as I went about the school day, grocery shopping, making a birthday cake and wrapping a few presents.Ailish

That evening as things settled down after we had “birthday time”, I gave the girls a bath. As we were cleaning up and combing hair my older A remarked about the rain falling outside and the cool clouds she could see out the back door. There was a light but steady rain falling and as the sun was setting that area of the sky looked really yellow and red. I suddenly remembered the rainbow and started looking. As I looked out the front door, this is what I saw! I quickly hollered for little A to come and see. As I held her and we looked at the rainbow, she was so excited “God sent me a rainbow for my birthday!”, how could I not agree! We snap some pictures quickly as the sun continued to set and the colors faded.rainbow1

As I continued to think on this, I realized how excited I was as a mom that my little girl got a seemingly small and insignificant prayer answered perfectly. And I realized that just as I love to give my children things they ask for, the little things that mean so much to them, God does as well. What joy it brings to Him to answer those little requests and show what a big God we serve!

Strength for Today

As your day 1

When I read this verse, I was so struck by the phrase “as your days, so your strength shall be” ….. whatever my day brings, there will be strength given to handle it. The verse goes on to say “there is none like our God”, “who rides through the heaven to your help” and “under His everlasting arms” – what encouraging words to hear! With the prevalence of social media and the ability to ‘see’ and know what is happening in others lives instantly, it is often easy to play the comparison game; to wish your situation was different, to think if only I could do things “that” way or I don’t know how she handles that incredibly hard “whatever it may be” and yet, we are not given the strength for someone else’s “hard” – we are given the strength to handle – to handle with grace and joy – to be able to go through our days with a thankful and gracious heart – whatever our day brings, whatever our hard is, that is what we are given the strength to handle.

As you think….. {link to giveaway too!}

click photo to purchase this print!
heart and mouth


What a simple statement this is…. “Her mouth speaks from that which fills her heart”….. but as you think through and process those words and the implications behind them; oh what conviction it brings and yet encouragement as well. As a mama to little ones, many little ones or busy and challenging ones, we know firsthand this is a true statement. We may not like it some days; those days when exhaustion is all we can “speak”, when the tired and worn is what comes out, when the frustrations with life around us is so evident in our words and actions. We long to be that mama, with sweet and encouraging words ready for the right moment, with quiet and peaceful countenance, the joyful heart and smile but I know, and I suspect I am not alone here, that this is hard, this is an ever-challenging aspect of motherhood. However, the more we can immerse ourselves in God’s Word and allow Him to direct our thoughts, our hearts, our minds; the more this will show in our words and actions……

>>>>> {read the rest of this post over on In All You Do where I am guest posting as a part of the 30 Days in the Bible series……}


And there is a great giveaway, including some items from my shop here in THIS GIVEAWAY….be sure and go enter HERE! (it’s toward the bottom of the post!)
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A moment of grace {day 30}

posted in: #write31days, ESV Bible, gracewords, thoughts | 0


Dear Lord, as we go through this week would you please put a guard over our thoughts and words, may all we think and say be pleasing in your sight. Would you replace the wrong and weary thoughts with encouragement and praise. Fill our hearts and minds with joy so that is what flows out of our faces and mouth. Thank you Lord for your strength and power. Amen


a moment of grace
31 days of encouragement
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