“Stepparenting with Grace” Book Launch & Giveaway (Ends 8/20/18)

Are you a stepparent?  Or, if not, did you perhaps grow up in a blended family?

If you can answer “yes” to either of those questions, you’ll be interested in this brand-new book, Stepparenting with Grace:  A Devotional for Blended Families” by Gayla Grace.  I am privileged to have been able to serve on the launch team for this devotional.  I’d love to share more about Stepparenting with Grace with you…and I even have a copy to give away to one special reader!  (Giveaway details will be at the end of the post.)



So what is Stepparenting with Grace?

Stepparenting with Grace is a book born out of both the experiences and the ministry of Gayla Grace.  She cofounded a nonprofit, Sisterhood of Stepmoms, to provide community and retreat opportunities for stepmothers.  She founded the website Stepparenting with Grace ten years ago to support stepfamilies with coaching, encouragement, and other resources.  She also has completed a master’s in psychology and counseling.  And as a writer, she brings all these experiences to the reader in a voice that is at once practical, supportive, and hopeful from a Christian perspective.

The book itself is a collection of 90 different two-page devotionals on a wide variety of topics that speak to stepparents.  Each one includes a Thought for the Day, then an exploration of a topic or life experiences.  Gayla uses clear thinking, wisdom, Scripture, and sound counseling techniques to convey hope and practical helps to stepparents who are struggling with all the different challenges of combining two families into one.  The reader can either start at the beginning and read right through, or browse through the titles listed in the table of contents for topical help.  Here are some examples of what you’ll find there:

  • Live Fearlessly
  • Your Efforts Matter!
  • Let God Heal Your Hurt
  • Change Requires Adjustment
  • Maturity Required
  • Trusting God
  • The Price of Forgiveness
  • Coping with Difficult People
  • and more!

Topics that I haven’t seen addressed much in books (other than fiction, maybe) are lovingly unpacked and explored, with calm confidence and grace.  Each entry is short yet full of worthwhile material, so the reader who’s short on time won’t ever feel overwhelmed.


What I thought of Stepparenting with Grace


I am not personally a stepparent.  Yet, I did grow up as a stepchild or, to be more specific, a stepdaughter.  Combining two families to attempt to create one new family is just a whole different, and often difficult, proposition.  But how can a stepparent approach this enormous challenge with grace, with love, and with wisdom?  We’re all working out the issues of life as we journey along, and many different things shape us as individuals, including the families we grew up in.  So, when I received the opportunity to serve on the launch team for Stepparenting with Grace, my attention and my heart were captivated.  And I can’t tell you how very thankful I am to have had the opportunity to read this book.



I decided to begin at the beginning of the book and simply read through, as part of my quiet time in the mornings.  It has been a wonderful experience.  Some mornings I did the book version of binge watching and just read chapters upon chapters, one after the other.  Other days, I’d just focus on one.  I have to tell you, the words were just so rich, often so healing, and they spoke to me on a profound level.  I looked forward to reading it each time, and I always came away with something to think about, or something to put into practice.  Other times, I found something that deeply encouraged me.  In fact, I recopied many quotes or passages in my journal so that I could refer to them again and again.  Here are some ideas that particularly resounded with me:

  • “If you’re trudging through difficult days in your stepfamily, don’t give up.  Rely on God’s strength and power to sustain you—He will see you through to better days ahead.”
  • “Accept God’s unconditional love and move past your failure.”
  • “Allow His presence to heal your hurt.  And remind yourself of the magnitude of His love every day.”
  • “We’ll find contentment when we stop focusing on our expectations and trust God to give us strength for our present reality.”
  • “But God provides the tools we need for a sure and steady walk.  “The secret,” Elisabeth Elliott says, “is Christ in me—not me in a different set of circumstances.””



Sometimes as parents…and, I’d imagine, as stepparents as well, we desperately need someone wise to speak into our circumstances.  To tell us, “Yes, you’re doing this well.”  Or, “Have you considered trying this instead?”  Or simply, “I see you.  God sees you.  And He is with you and you will get through this.”  Gayla Grace, in Stepparenting with Grace, can do that for you.  Her words of wisdom are calm and kind, yet possess the kind of depth that only a person who’s been through the struggles—and come out successfully on the other side—can bring.  As a Christian, she also is convinced of God’s partnership for us as we parent.  I appreciate that as well.

I can, and do, recommend this book wholeheartedly to any stepparent who’s looking for a devotional to help them along on their stepfamily’s journey.  (And obviously, these ideas will resound with any parent, I’d believe, as they have with me!)  Check out Gayla Grace’s Stepparenting with Grace.  You will be lifted up and encouraged as you read her wise counsel.


And now, your opportunity to win your own copy!

I’m so pleased that Worthy Publishing is providing a copy of Stepparenting with Grace for one FINCHNWREN reader to win.  Simply click on the pink link below that says, “Enter here.”  That will take you to a Giveaway Tools entry form, where you’ll be able to enter in a variety of ways.  Giveaway closes 8/20/18.  Best wishes!

Enter here!



Enjoy!  –Wren


Disclosure:  From time to time, FINCHNWREN may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog. We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews. We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinions, of these products. We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations


Have you checked out TED Talks?

I have to admit, I’m not much of an audio learning gal.  I love music and I love the idea of podcasts.  But in my free time I’m drawn more to actually reading (whether ebooks or paper books).

However!  I have to admit, over the past month I’ve gotten sucked into podcasts!  Specifically, to TED Talks.  They have made a nonenjoyable commute time not only bearable but interesting and fun!

I have been getting physical therapy this summer to remove scar tissue post-surgery.  I have a great therapist at a great location.  However, the office is on the other side of town.  And the main road is currently under construction.  Now, the construction area is only about 2 1/2 miles long.  But.  In early afternoon, that extends my travel time almost 15 minutes.  Ugh!

Now, naturally, I’ve made plans to detour around that.  But one day this summer, when I was out on my own and driving a ways, I thought, “Oh!  I’ve got the TEDTalks app downloaded on my phone!”  I pulled it up, picked the TED Talk by Ingrid Fetell Lee entitled, “Where joy hides and where to find it.”  Pressed play, and drove off.  It gave me the most lovely trip.



So what are TEDTalks?

TEDTalks’ mission statement is spreading great ideas.  They do this in the form of short talks that take, in general, 18 minutes or less.  (I’ve got some bookmarked that are 6 minutes and change long!)  They hold conferences and TEDTalks where expert speakers present fabulously fascinating talks on a wide variety of subjects.  You can search for topics by dropdowns of list (like tech, entertainment, science, design, business, global efforts) or by just entering your search word.  Today, there are more than 2800 TEDTalks for you to choose from!

You can find TEDTalks as a free app (like I did) but they also have a website, and a YouTube site where you can listen to talks for free.  (There may be a paid or subscription version but I haven’t investigated those.)  On my app, I’ve bookmarked a bunch of TEDTalks that I’m interested in listening to on my next drives to PT.  I’ve only bookmarked the science section so far, but here are some that I’m looking forward to checking out:

  • Richard Feynman’s “Physics is fun to imagine”
  • Edith Widder’s “Glowing life in an underwater world”
  • Charles Limb’s “Your brain on improv”
  • Louie Schwartzberg’s “Nature. Beauty. Gratitude.”
  • Scott Rickard’s “The beautiful math behind the world’s ugliest music”

And that’s just a sampling of the TEDTalks that are on my wish list for future drives!  I haven’t had a moment to bookmark talks in education, entertainment, global events and so on…but that’s my plan.

My favorites so far

So, what are some of my recent favorites?  I mentioned the incredible “Where joy hides and where to find it.”  Ingrid Fetell Lee became interested in joy.  What creates it?  What makes people feel joy?  What are some ways architects create spaces that help people feel it or live in it?  This was the most beautiful talk.  Inspiring and fun.  And something that’s stayed with me as I’ve noticed, since hearing the talk, more actual physical things that make me feel joyful.  Totally fun.



Another recent fave is Jakob Magolan’s “A crash course in organic chemistry.”  I’m sure I was drawn to this one because chemistry is on our radar.  Not organic chemistry, just high school chemistry, since Jackson will be taking that this year as a junior.  I don’t know a lot about chemistry myself (and what’s awesome for my son is that he’ll be taking his chemistry course online with a certified science teacher via Bridgeway Academy), other than that I think the periodic table is a beautiful thing.  So one day, I thought I’d get my feet wet by listening to Magolan’s TEDTalk.  It was spectacular.  He really made me appreciate the design of elements and molecules (you probably don’t hear that statement much in conversation), and how exact and precise chemistry is.  Definitely worth your time.


Sometime soon when I’m not in a car, I’d like to re-listen to Ian Firth’s “Bridges should be beautiful.”  He talks about how bridges should be safe and well-constructed (that’s their function, after all) but that they should be elegant and a pleasure to look at.  Isn’t that interesting?  As someone who teaches art to children, I really felt that resonate with me.  I love for things to be beautiful as well as functional.  I’d like to hear it again (and watch it this time) because apparently he has some incredible images to go along with his talk.

Which brings me to a caveat…

Do not listen, watch, AND drive!

We do not text and drive or generally, talk and drive with our cell phones.  And these TEDTalks all have images.  But I do not watch them while I drive.  (Which probably enabled me to get thru the construction zone the last time without incident or injury to myself or my car!  Not to mention others on the road.)  I put my phone somewhere that I can’t easily see the screen (like on the storage compartment between my front seat and passenger seat) or actually in the passenger seat.  If you’re really tempted you could just push play on your phone then place it in the back seat.  You might miss some of the content.  But the main focus (the cake) is generally the talks.  The images or video are just the icing.

I’m sure I don’t need to say this to any of my readers.  But if you want to see the images in the TEDTalk, don’t watch them when you’re driving.  Do that while you’re on your stationary bike or just listening at home.  Be safe.  And wise.  You are precious and important; don’t do anything that would keep you from being an excellent defensive driver!

But if you’re looking for fascinating content that you can squeeze into those odd moments that we have here and there, check out TED Talks!  I’m definitely looking forward to diving into some more amazing talks!


Enjoy!  –Wren



New from Bridgeway Academy: Author in Your House & Coupon

#sponsored #partner


Are you considering which writing curriculum you’d like to use in your homeschool this year?  Well, if you are, consider Bridgeway Academy!  They have some fascinating new online classes taught by best-selling author Renae Green called Author in Your House which might be just what you’re looking for.

Bridgeway Academy provides excellent online classes taught by accredited, skilled teachers in all subjects.  My son Jackson has taken two online courses from Bridgeway Academy and we couldn’t have been happier with his weekly class time, his assignments and studies, and his overall experience both with his teacher and his classmates.  He has learned so much.

Author in Your House is a new course which is available for middle school students (grades 5-8) using the book Chasing Dreams, which details the life of 12-year-old Rebecca’s life in the early 20th century.  High school students can take Author in Your HouseWrite Your First Novel with Renae Green guiding them through the writing of their first novels.  Either way, students will receive a first-class education in writing from a skilled and gifted author.  Visit this link to view the Course Catalog which details the information on these and other classes for elementary, middle school, and high school students.


Plus, you can purchase these at a discounted price through July 20!

Families can get 15% off Bridgeway Live Online Classes (course materials and additional kits excluded) by using the code SUMMER2018 at checkout.

We have loved our Bridgeway Academy experiences.  If you’re looking for some amazing class opportunities for your students, please visit the Bridgeway Academy website and learn more!


Enjoy!  –Wren


A FINCHNWREN Beauty Giveaway: Mini Palettes & Makeup Bag (ends 7/13/18)

Happy almost 4 of July!

We have another fun beauty giveaway for you today!



I have really enjoyed all the new beauty products that I’ve seen lately.  During the school year, I have my go-to routine that I follow every day, not varying things up much just in the interest of time.  But I’ve been checking things out in my newsfeed since school is out, and admiring the newest lipsticks, perfumes (though I don’t wear a lot of fragrance tbh), moisturizers, and all the ways to add color to eyes and face.

Today, the FINCHNWREN blog’s newest giveaway is for a blue zippered makeup bag and two Ulta mini beauty palettes!  I know you can’t see the colors inside in the picture above, so I’ve added another picture below:


The mini eye palette has colors in two families: first, the golden browns, from golden to flesh to bronze and brown combined with two eye shadows in a more mauve-y shade; then the cheek/face mini palette contains a white highlighter, a golden sparkle, and a brown cheek blusher.  These are perfect for that sun-kissed glow in the days of sunscreen that we’re all living in now!


How to enter:

Simply click on the pink “Enter Here!” link below.  That will take you to a Giveaway Tools entry form, where you can enter in a variety of ways.  Giveaway closes July 13, 2018 and one winner will  be selected to win the makeup bag and the two mini palettes.  Best wishes, friends!

Enter here!


Enjoy!  –Wren

A FINCHNWREN Beauty Giveaway ~ Ulta Eyes & Lips! (Ends 6/27)

Welcome to a new FINCHNWREN Beauty Giveaway!



Today, we’re giving away an Ulta beauty trio for eyes and lips!  One winner will receive:

  • Ulta Beauty full-sized Maximum Lashes Defining and Lengthening Mascara in Jet Black
  • Ulta Beauty Matte Lipstick mini in Mulberry
  • Ulta Beauty Color Rush Lip Gloss mini in Olivia

You can wear the lipstick alone if you’re looking for that matte look, or pair it with the gloss for a shinier evening look.  And the mascara is fabulous for adding emphasis to a day or night eye look!

How to enter

Simply click on the pink “Enter here!” link below to visit the Giveaway Tools entry form, where you’ll be able to enter in a variety of ways.  One winner will be selected after the giveaway closes on 6/27/18.  Best wishes!

Enter here!


Enjoy!  –Wren

My Top 10 Favorite Quotes from “The Incredibles”

Are you a film lover?

We love movies in our family.  And this has been an exciting year for us with the various Marvel movies, Star Wars, and other films in the action genre (including the upcoming newest Jurassic one) premiering.



I am SO excited that FINALLY Disney Pixar is releasing the sequel to one of my all-time Pixar faves—The Incredibles!  I hope the movie is going to be as amazing as the trailer implies.  We cannot wait to see Bob & Helen Parr, Violet, Dash, and of course, Jack-Jack, again.  And Edna!  And Frozone!  (And at least *hear* Honey…although maybe we’ll get to actually see her this time!)


In honor of the best family of supers ever, here are my top 10 favorite quotes from the original The Incredibles.  (In no particular order.)  Enjoy!


  1.  “Where. Is. My. Super. Suit!”  (Lucius/Frozone, to Honey)
  2. “You heard her.”  (Smarmy big-sister tone of voice from Violet to Dash.)
  3. “I love our family.”  (Dash in the limo after defeating the Omnidroid)
  4. “You keep trying to pick a fight, but I’m just happy you’re alive!”  (Bob to Helen as they run through Syndrome’s jungle)
  5. “I mean either he’s in trouble, or he’s going to be.”  (Helen to Violet about Bob)
  6. “Shhh.  It isn’t your fault.  It wasn’t fair of me to suddenly ask so much of you.  But things are different now, and doubt is a luxury we can’t afford.  You have more power than you realize.  Don’t think, and don’t worry.  If the time comes, you’ll know what to do.  It’s in your blood!”  (Helen to Violet on Syndrome’s island)
  7. “Edna Mode.  And guest.”  (Edna to her security system.)
  8. “Your suit can stretch as far as you can, without injuring yourself, and still retain its shape.  Virtually indestructible, yet it breathes like Egyptian cotton.”  (Edna to Helen)
  9. “He starts monologuing!”  (Lucius/Frozone, to Bob)
  10. “I’m not happy, Bob.  Not happy.”  (Bob’s boss at Insuricare)


I just love this movie so much!  So many amazing moments and incredible voice acting–and animation.  I mean, how on earth does Brad Bird do Edna?  And Samuel L. Jackson, Holly Hunter, Craig T. Nelson.  It is just stellar.

So we are looking forward to #2!

Do you have a favorite line from The Incredibles?

Enjoy!  –Wren


The FINCHNWREN Blog’s Privacy Policy

Thank you for being a FINCHNWREN blog subscriber!  We’re so happy that you have allowed us to hang out with you and we love sharing our thoughts about life, books, homeschool, and our giveaways with you.

We’d like to share our privacy policies with you.

When you subscribe to the FINCHNWREN blog, you will either receive emails when we add new posts or you will see the posts in your WordPress news feed (depending on how you subscribed).  We hope you’ll continue to subscribe, but you may unsubscribe at any time via email or the Follow widget in your WordPress Admin page.

  • Our blog is set up via WordPress.com, which does not give us access to personally or legally sensitive information from our subscribers by default.
  • FINCHNWREN does not sell or share your information with others.
  • When we host giveaways, we utilize Giveaway Tools’ entry forms/widget.  Once the giveaway is concluded and we have contacted the giveaway winner, that particular giveaway entry form and all its entries are deleted.  (See Giveaway Tools privacy policy for more information.)
  • If a FINCHNWREN giveaway is co-hosted with another blog, company, or organization, only the personal information you share with them will be collected by them.  (For example, if you choose to follow a company’s blog or Twitter account and enter your own subscriber information or email address.)  If that blog or company is awarding the prize, they will receive the winner’s mailing address information so that the prize can be shipped.
  • This information is collected via WordPress.com:  follower and subscriber information; comments on the blog; contact form submissions; search queries; site registrations; technical data from visitors (like the info web browsers, mobile devices, and servers typically make available about visitors to a Site, such as the IP address, browser type, unique device identifiers, language preference, referring site, the date and time of access, operating system, and mobile network information.); info on visitor interactions such as “likes” and “ratings”; location information to (for example) tell about visitors from different geographical regions; Akismet commenter info (to filter out spam comments, for example); cookies.  (You can visit Automattic.com Privacy Notice for Visitors to Our Users’ Sites for more information on these.)

Thank you for hanging out with us!  And thanks for reading.


Enjoy!  –Wren