Image by Nathan Troop via Flickr
This year, 2015, feels a bit heavy.

It is the tenth anniversary of the death of one of my dearest friends, who died at age 28 after a long battle with cancer.

I look back at myself ten short/long years ago -- so naive, such a beginner in so many ways, a young woman absolutely convinced that Katrina's legacy would be to conquer cancer and to share her amazing testimony with women the world over.

Her death was devastating, and it was the biggest test of my young faith -- until I prayed for God to show me her legacy, to show me that her life, cut short, still had an eternal impact.

He did, and he continues to do so even these ten years later.

Thanks for being with us as we co-host for Make A Difference Monday, a place to get intentional about starting our week focused on the positive and dream up ways we can make a difference in the world. Today we're featuring our new Ebook and giving away a copy to one lucky reader!

Friends, our new motherhood E-book Grace for the Imperfect Mom: A 31-Day Invitation to Refreshed Mothering just came out and we could not be more excited to share it with you! This book was a labor of LOVE, full of GRACE, and the UNDERSTANDING that we are all in this mothering journey together! We wanted to write this book because we realized that we are not perfect, not even close, and that maybe some of our mama friends needed some encouragement (as we have found that we do!).

Want more details?
As moms, we constantly juggle many things—schedules, appointments, meetings, activities, chores—along with the emotional, mental, and spiritual care of our children. On days when dinner burns, the kids are pulling each other’s hair out and stepping on your last nerve, you may wonder if you’re patient enough, kind enough, or just plain good enough to be a mom. It’s enough to make you bend under the pressure if you think too much about it!
Join four women on a 31-day devotional journey as they share encouragement and insights on faith, joy, self-control, and more while weaving in lessons learned through bedtime battles, homework hangups, grocery store meltdowns, and the beautiful moments waiting to be found amongst it all.
Find encouragement and a reminder of the goals we strive for as mothers, a remembrance on our not-so-good days that there is something greater being produced in us and our children, as we learn to lean on God for all that we need. Grace for what happens today, grace over our past, our future, and the families whose lives we influence each day. Grace for all us imperfect mamas out there.
If you're looking for some encouragement for yourself or some other mama that you know, this is
your book! (It's also a great gift idea for Mother's Day!) To celebrate it's arrival we're giving away one FREE copy to a lucky reader! Just leave a comment below and we'll pick a winner later this week!

-The Girls of TRE

This post contains affiliated links.

Good morning, friends! Today we're so excited to feature a guest post from Kate Bellingham, who writes about how motherhood took away her fear. And speaking of motherhood, our new e-book "Grace for the Imperfect Mom: A 31-Day Invitation to Refreshed Mothering, has arrived! See the bottom of the post for more details. Here's Kate:

Almost three years ago, I went through one of the biggest life changes I had ever experienced: becoming a Mummy. There’s nothing quite like it. The love you suddenly feel, the joy, the sheer amazement, the wonder of God. Yet along with this came more, an overwhelming sense of fear.

The new responsibility of having a child that I so desperately longed to get right, along with the worry ‘what if I don’t?’ No one tells you about those things. The question is, or was, how would I deal with it?

Thanks for being with us as we co-host for Make A Difference Monday, a place to get intentional about starting our week focused on the positive and dream up ways we can make a difference in the world. Today we're highlighting Work and Worth and giving away their amazing product!

The Ruth Experience's Curated Collection
I found myself in a tiny conference room a year ago, sitting across from a woman with a big dream. As we talked about how she could make that dream a reality, a small part of her life story tumbled out.

A single mom, not of her own choosing. People who whispered words of failure over her, over her children. And when tragedy struck, how she had to carry on in the midst of bone-deep grieving and had to act tough, as though nothing was wrong.

As she spoke, my thoughts looped back to this well-worn track that has become my heart's cry: Why do we kick those who are down? Why do we whisper words of soul death over others' lives? Why do we ignore those clearly in the midst of crisis?

And why, as women who have had the same words spoken over us, over our dreams, over our lives, do we allow this to continue, or, worse yet, turn around and do the same to someone else?

My thoughts always end up at the same finish line:  What would happen if every woman became an Encourager instead of a Queen Bee?  What if every woman cheer-leaded and guided and mentored the other women in her work circles, her community circles, her life circles?

Friends, if we did that, there is no question in my mind that we would absolutely CHANGE. THE. WORLD.

So, when Kendra, Kristin and I were approached by Work of Worth several weeks ago and asked if we would like to have our very own The Ruth Experience Curated Collection, we responded with a resounding YES! (And we would like to clarify that we've received nothing for free or for a discount - every piece we have, we've purchased. This is a true partnership, not an advertisement or a paid sponsorship. We support this organization because we believe in its mission.)  You can also find our curated collection on Pinterest!

You've heard us talk about Work of Worth in the past - about buying gifts for others from this organization because it pays a living wage to women working 1/2 way across the world.  Let us make a formal introduction to who Work of Worth is and what, exactly, they do:

Work of Worth is an organization dedicated to utilizing the power of commerce to free the oppressed throughout the world.  The result becomes people of worth who are transformed, sustainably employed, changing the poverty cycle, and freed from trafficking.   WoW supports and promotes entrepreneurs dedicated to treating their employees with dignity, paying a fair wage, and transforming lives. Entrepreneurial philanthropy is bold enough to bring fair wages to the villages and cities of the developing world. We invite you to see their product offerings and value their work so that they may sustain a future for their family’s and future generations.

How often do you get the opportunity to encourage, empower and equip someone to lift out of poverty at the same time you are giving a gift?

To celebrate, we are GIVING AWAY one of their amazing bars of soaps this week in a random drawing from the comments left on the BLOG.  Yay!  

10 years today. Exactly.

10 years ago that I said yes to this man. I said yes to a life lived together, instead of separate. A life of decisions to be made that benefit us, as a family, and not just me.

A decade of sacrifice and consideration of our life together. A decade of making decisions and choosing our family over personal advancement.

Marriage is many things. It's true. But as I've walked this married road, I've realized that this process of continuing to choose us over me is what keeps us going. This is the secret to our success. This is the choice we both continually make, sometimes on a daily basis.

Because when we're honest, most fights, arguments, and struggles we've had came when we wanted to put ourselves first. When we wanted to disregard what was best for us and simply choose what was best for me.

Happy Monday! Thanks for being with us as we co-host for Make A Difference Monday, a place to get intentional about starting our week focused on the positive and dream up ways we can make a difference in the world. Today we're so excited to feature Katie Nguyen from Kangacoo. As parents, we want the best for our children -- but it can be hard to know what that looks like. That's why I love Katie's wisdom and practical suggestions on five ways to help your child find their purpose. We're also looking forward to her small group study on teaching your children to embrace their God-given talents and using them to serve others (coming soon!).

Do you want your child to be happy? I know that is an easy question, but let me ask it this way: What are YOU doing to ensure your child will be happy when they grow up? As parents, we all do our best to encourage, discipline, educate and nurture our children to the best of our ability. All of these are important, but if you want your child to grow into their full potential as an adult, there is one thing you MUST do: Help them to discover their purpose. 

Purpose seems like a tricky thing. We all have questions like, what are we here for? What should we do with our lives? What’s the best way to live? People have been preaching and writing and selling their ideas to finding purpose since the beginning of time. Let me save you time and money and turn you to the Bible. 

The Bible says we are all here to love our God and love others (The Great Commandment). What greater act of showing that love is there than praising God for the talents he has given us and by using those talents to serve others? (Corinthians 12) 

How do we teach this value to our children, in turn giving them purpose and future happiness? Here are five ways to get you started: 

This year we are trying to keep kindness going all year long with our kids.

Each month we’re including four things we hope to accomplish as part of our regular activities. We keep them posted on our dinner board (so we don’t miss them) and each time we accomplish one of them, we check them off the list!

Today we are so pleased to introduce a guest post by Roitman Trillo! As moms, we totally understand how hard it can be when circumstances turn our lives upside down during times that we expected to feel nothing but the sweetness of life. Unexpected illness can be one of the toughest things to deal with, and we so appreciate Roitman's wisdom about how she walked through her own dark days and managed to come through on the other side. We hope you're as blessed as we are by her words!

Life brings unexpected twists and turns we might never have thought we would face. 

A few years ago, my life suddenly was turned upside down. A storm so powerful, so devastating, hit me that I didn’t think I would survive. It blindsided me. All of the sudden, I was caught in the midst of the darkest time in my life. 

After giving birth to my beautiful little one, I became gravely ill. Inflammation took over my body and I was unable to walk or sleep. The inflammation even affected my brain function. I was living my worst nightmare! 

Not only was I rapidly losing my health, but I was unable to care for my family. The time I had expected to be the most joyous turned sorrowful. It was as if I walked on a long dark road with no end in sight.