Our Keepsake Journal is Here! 🎉

Two facts about me:  I am cheap and I am not crafty. Last year for Christmas my sisters and I decided to do a homemade gift exchange for our families instead of the usual Target/Walmart/Amazon extravaganza of previous years. This was a perfect fit for my cheap side, but was a bit of a challenge for my craft-inadequte side. To make matters more complicated, my sisters are both passionate and talented when it comes to the homemade arts. My older sister is a detail-oriented perfectionist with an artist’s soul and my younger sister is what I like to call a hippie sophisticate— musician, organic, free-thinker with good taste. I am not any of these things. I am practical. And also. . . practical. Somehow I manage to be not detail oriented and also not a free thinker. I am a rule follower who has no problem quitting when things get complicated and tends to mess up simple recipes because I get distracted. It’s hard to know how having five kids age seven and under add to my distractibility, but we’ll assume it plays some part.

So to give you a visual example of how the Christmas exchange went down last year, here’s a picture of The Best Christmas present ever, courtesy of my older sister:


Yes. That is my family as snowmen handcrafted in clay. And they were all clearly identifiable as each member of the family by some certain representative trait. So you’re seeing what I’m up against. Me— the woman who considers wrapping paper a waste of money and chooses instead to give gifts in the plastic bag I bought them in or by telling the recipient to close their eyes until the gift is in their hand. This is clearly not my strength. So what did I make for my siblings?

My sister was opening her gift from me, which came in a large plastic coffee container I had recently emptied of its original contents. My niece said, “I think it’s coffee”, but my sister (who has known me since I was born) said, “I hope it’s laundry detergent!” I will remember that quote as the most memorable moment of Christmas, 2012. My niece said she thought that was the only time in the history of Christmas that the phrase, “I hope it’s laundry detergent” had been uttered. She might be right. And my sister was right, too— it was laundry detergent. I am just that practical. (*Bonus* My recipe for homemade laundry detergent is at the bottom of this post.)

As part of our Christmas celebrating that year we also went to an impromptu party thrown by friends of ours who are known for impromptu party throwing. There was good food, places for kids to enjoy a Christmas movie or games, fun conversation, and an inviting atmosphere. (She makes this crab dip I’d try to describe to you, but then I’d just start craving it and somehow end up at her house uninvited. Not cool.) Our hostess was relaxed and allowed for everybody to have a good time without freaking out about spilled drinks or crying kids or conversation pauses or how much it costs to feed all these people, and all with a sleeping foster baby strapped to her chest.

Photos by Rebecca Tredway Photography

It was delightful. It was something I am totally incapable of doing.

As I analyze these moments where I wish I could trade some of my strengths for the strengths of my sisters and friends, I have come to two conclusions.

1. Women are not all the same. My mom is a great hostess and I always imagined I’d be “that kind of woman” but it just hasn’t seemed to happen. I find I’m only capable of one aspect— I can either have a good meal ready OR be relaxed and enjoy the time with our guests. I have a really hard time doing both. Does that make me less of a woman? I certainly hope not. I know I have other gifts to offer my friends (nothing comes to mind right now, but I’m sure there’s something. . . only kidding. . . sort of), but in this season of my life I have to accept the limitations I’m running up against. My artistic sisters and my hospitality-oriented friends are embracing their gifts and doing what they love. It isn’t a good idea for me to take their example as a mandate for what a “real” woman is like if those aren’t the gifts I have.


2. I have a lot to learn. I don’t want to always give myself an out when it comes to things I’m not good at. I want to be sure every once in a while I’m really struggling to be detail oriented when it means loving someone else well in a way that speaks to them, even if it isn’t my strength. I want to offer hospitality even when it means I fight through some frustrations and stress when things don’t go the way I want them to (which of course, always happens). My hospitality-oriented friend has a heart that says, “How can I help” when my heart says,”Please don’t ask me to help.” I can feel like I’m barely keeping my head above water as it is, but often stepping out to help puts my struggles in perspective. I am incredibly thankful for women in my life who embody each trait of The Body of Christ and through just using their gifts they become teachers of how to put others first.

I’m afraid we can often look at the gifts of others and compare them to our own and either feel superior or inadequate. I’m trying to learn how to accept how God has made me (because seriously people— everybody needs laundry detergent at some point) AND learn from the talents and beauty of the women around me.


Laundry Detergent Recipe:

1 bar of Fels Naptha soap

2 cups Arm and Hammer Washing Soda

2 cups Borax

(I can find all these ingredients in the laundry detergent aisle at my local grocery store)

Grate your bar of soap (with a cheese grater or food processor) and then mix it with the washing soda and borax. Use about a Tablespoon of this mixture for each load of laundry. You’re welcome. 

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Maralee Bradley

Maralee is a mom of six pretty incredible kids. Four were adopted (one internationally, three through foster care) and two were biological surprises. Prior to becoming parents, Maralee and her husband were houseparents at a children’s home and had the privilege of helping to raise 17 boys during their five year tenure. Maralee is passionate about caring for kids, foster parenting and adoption, making her family a fairly decent dinner every night, staying on top of the laundry, watching ridiculous documentaries and doing it all for God’s glory. Maralee can be heard on My Bridge Radio talking about motherhood and what won't fit in a 90 second radio segment ends up at www.amusingmaralee.com.

Lent For Kids: 40 Ways To Spend 40 Days

In: Featured, Kids
Cross with bird

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season leading to Easter. Our 3-year-old has been talking about the Easter bunny since January, when he finally understood that Christmas was over. While I’m happy he’s excited for the upcoming holiday, I really want to find some good, concrete ways to help him learn that this time of year is not only about bunnies and candy in eggs. So, I’ve decided to come up with 40 ways to spend the 40 days of Lent with kids. Some of these will work better with older children, while others are great for...

Keep Reading

Chocolate Pot de Crème

In: Featured, Kitchen

Chocolate and romance go hand in hand and with Valentine’s Day around the bend, why not have a beautifully simple and romantic dessert on the menu? With Valentine’s Day falling on a Saturday, it might be a little more difficult to get those reservations to go out to eat to celebrate. If you end up staying home, why not have an easy, romantic dessert to finish your meal? Made in a blender or food processor and refrigerated, this recipe is easy to make and the result can be a beautiful and elegant dessert that will put the perfect cap on...

Keep Reading

Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup

In: Featured, Kitchen

Written By:  Rachel Gnagy @ Inscribed Photography & Design (recipe originally from here) One of my favorite ‘girly’ meals to make is soup served in bread bowls. I love getting the Broccoli Cheese soup at Quizno’s (it’s healthy because it has broccoli, right?) and Panera’s Cream of Chicken & Wild Rice soup. YUM. So when I saw a recipe on Pinterest for creamy chicken and rice soup, I thought I would give it a try! You will need: 1 Tablespoon of olive oil 2-3 carrots, sliced 2 cloves of garlic, minced 5 cups of chicken stock 1 cup of cooked chicken,...

Keep Reading

Chicken Cordon Bleu for Two

In: Featured, Kitchen

Written By:  Rachel @ Inscribed Photography (Recipe originally from here) Valentine’s Day is coming up and with that in mind I wanted to bring you an easy, delicious meal for you and your special man. This recipe is by far the easiest Chicken Cordon Bleu recipe and it is super yummy too! Pair it with some steamed veggies on the side and something chocolatey for dessert and you’re all set for a romantic dinner for two. For the chicken, you will need: 2 chicken breasts, cut in half lengthwise 8 slices of deli ham 8 slices of Swiss cheese 1...

Keep Reading

Easy Weeknight Beef Stroganoff

In: Featured, Kitchen

We all have those heirloom recipes we grew up with, but when you get married you inherit a whole new set of recipes your spouse grew up with, too. This stroganoff recipe is one that my husband grew up eating and then cooked frequently for himself before I took over in the kitchen. (ha.) He made it for me once while we were dating, and I will admit – I was super skeptical. Generally, these sorts of humble dishes aren’t my cup of tea – the ones made with cream-of canned soups and noodles. However, I tried it and was...

Keep Reading

Hanging Onto Hope: The Dream That Saved My Baby Girl

In: Faith, Featured, Journal, Kids
Hanging Onto Hope: The Dream That Saved My Baby Girl www.herviewfromhome.com

Family and friends often assure pregnant women that their “maternal instincts” can be relied on to guide them into motherhood. This previously undiscovered gift will reveal itself the first time she holds her child. As a mother of four I believe in this instinct, but also recognize that experience and wisdom help. The birth of our fifth child, Kinsley, has introduced me to another source of guidance and strength that I never anticipated. Kinsley was born the day after Christmas. She was pink, beautiful and certified by the medical staff as being in perfect health. She was welcomed with unconditional...

Keep Reading

Bow Your Head and Vote, Yes the Outcome is Rigged

In: Featured
Bow Your Head and Vote, Yes the Outcome is Rigged www.herviewfromhome.com

“Keep in mind this is God’s plan! And who am I to dare question God’s plan!” I say it over and over as I watch this mess unfold before me. This mess, America is calling an election. I have never been impressed with the two-party system. It allows too much power to a select few and limits our freedoms. So, as I watch and listen and pray, as Trump and Clinton march to the White House, I only hope more Americans now see the disaster that is the two-party system. Two people that should be sitting in jail are now...

Keep Reading

This Kick-Ass Cancer Survivor Shares 20 Easy Ways To Make Your Life Healthier Today

In: Featured, Health, Healthy Living, Mental Health, Motherhood
This Kick-Ass Cancer Survivor Shares 20 Easy Ways To Make Your Life Healthier Today www.herviewfromhome.com

I recently went through quite an experience with my health. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in September of 2015. Following my diagnosis, I underwent a treatment regimen of chemotherapy, double mastectomy, and then, 28 rounds of radiation.  Before my diagnosis, I felt the healthiest I have probably, in my whole life. I was exercising regularly. Eating, conscious of my health. And after birthing three kids in 6 years, finding ways to focus on myself once again. And then — WHAM — cancer.  Excuuuuuuuuse me?!?! Cancer?!? I was, for all intents and purposes, a 33-year-old with great habits and a great...

Keep Reading

The Great Melt Down

In: Faith, Featured, Kids, Kitchen
The Great Melt Down www.herviewfromhome.com

When my brother Bobby and I were little kids, one of the great treats of summer was a journey to a neighboring town where my dad would buy each of us a hand-dipped ice cream cone. During the drive home, my mom would turn around from the front seat and point out drips that we back-seat-riders needed to lick up quick. I, the ever-eager pleaser, would anxiously eat my ice cream as quickly as possible, barely taking a breath between licks. Bobby, on the other hand, came up with the more reasonable response. He would grin at Mom and bite...

Keep Reading

The Best (and free) Drug Prevention Strategy

In: Featured, Health, Healthy Living, Kids, Relationships
The Best (and free) Drug Prevention Strategy www.herviewfromhome.com

A secret Facebook group has been uncovered by police that connects kids as young as 12 years-old to places where they can buy drugs. (see the link to the story at the end of this blog)  Shocking? Yes. Surprising? No. Kids find a way, don’t they? So what can we do? There are apps we can buy. There are rules we can make. There are punishments we can deliver.  Yet the best prevention of all is our relationship with our young people.  Time together, conversation, and honest sharing of our lives is the most effective way to influence our kids–even...

Keep Reading