Saturday, December 12, 2009

Blessed or Stressed

While flipping through a catalogue last week, I noticed a coffee cup bearing a saying that has become my new mantra: "Too Blessed To Be Stressed."

This phrase really socked me in the gut. How often do I let the little, often unimportant, worries of life cause me to forget how abundantly I am blessed. Or worse, am I sometimes too stressed to even receive a blessing sent my way?

Now, thanks to the fresh insight brought on by this simple coffee mug, when I feel my stress level rising, I remind myself that I am too blessed to get bogged down in unnecessary silliness, pettiness, or guilt. My children are a blessing, even when they sing in loud, high-pitched squeaks like little chipmunks. My husband blesses me every day, and I don’t want to overlook that when he leaves his dirty dishes on the counter instead of tucking them in the dishwasher. Things may break in my house, and it may never stay clean for more than fifteen consecutive minutes, but I am still blessed to have a safe, secure, warm home in which to rest, enjoy my family and friends, and worship my Lord.

At Christmas time, we are bombarded with things that can push us to our limits. Sometimes it even seems as though we are expected to stress out during December. This year, I encourage you to push that convention aside and enjoy your blessings instead. Maybe that means buying fewer presents because the mall crowds are driving you crazy. Perhaps you could skip sending out Christmas cards this year, or you might leave the exterior of your house unlit, simply because you are content and won’t feel guilty about avoiding a chore you find isn’t meaningful to you this year. Whatever it may be, feel free to cut a stressor from your annual Christmas routine so you are better able to see and appreciate your blessings.

Have a wonderfully Merry Christmas!

In celebration of our Savior’s birth, I am taking a blogging break until the New Year. See you in 2010!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Productive Character

“We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” - Romans 5:3-4

Ten days ago, life took an unexpected turn when my husband started the day with a stomach ache and ended it in the ER having his appendix removed. Since then, caring for him has been my top priority.

In being a nurse for the past week and a half, I’m reminded of an overwhelming feeling I had when I first became a mom – unproductive. Sure I was busy when I had a new baby in my arms, but did twelve diaper changes, six feedings and four loads of laundry really count for much? It took me a while to see the immense, life-altering value in caring for my child.

These memories came back while caring for my husband. It is easy to get caught up in doing things that other people see and acknowledge. The truth is, however, that the work we do while hidden within the walls of home is often more meaningful and does more to shape our character than any other work ever could. For the past ten days, those in the outside world have seen my cancelled appointments and my declined invitations (and truthfully, even within my house, my husband and kids have noticed the little piles of “stuff” growing in the various corners of our home where the things I haven’t gotten to yet are building).

But God knows our hearts and our intentions. He understands that being a caregiver is not a natural role for me, and that it takes more thought and effort than it might for someone else. He knows that He did not gift me with any special abilities in the kitchen, so thinking up bland, soothing, post-surgery meals distracts me from some of my normal responsibilities. He acknowledges that sometimes He uses other people’s troubles to build our character.

I’ve noticed that the times in life when I’ve felt my character stretch and grow the most are the times when I have had nothing tangible to show for it. Perhaps we are not designed to produce worldly goods and divine goodness at the same time. The experiences that shape me with the most definitive edge are the ones that bring an internal change alone – no paycheck, no product, no recognition, no earthly value.

How do you know when you are being productive? Is a stronger character a valuable product?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Stop to Smell the Snowballs

When snow flakes start falling, I immediately rush to an online news site to see if my kids have a snow day. I think I like snow days more than they do. These days are like little forced vacations - valid excuses to spend the day playing with my girls.

This week we had three snow days in a row. We carved out courses for the sled, made snow angels, read umpteen pages of Harry Potter (years two and six), played a dizzying number of games of Memory, found a flag and a map of Gambia for a school report, practiced memorizing the books of the Bible for Sunday school, watched too many movies, made loads of Kinzcash playing Cash Cow, and generally had fun hanging out together.

When I have a hard time slowing down to smell the roses, I can count on the snow to do it for me. I hope you get a chance to enjoy some snow time with your kids too.

Also remember to take time for yourself. I am speaking at an event called Seasons of Parenting. It features four authors speaking on various issues including keeping the spark in your marriage after kids and parenting in blended families. I am speaking on patience in parenting. I would love to see you there, on Thursday, November 12, at 7:00 pm at Kunjani Coffee in Parker. Register by November 5 at Hope to see you there!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Getting Messy With Purpose

Have you ever heard of Kid Concoctions? When I was at the MOPS Convention a few weeks ago, I went to a workshop led by the founders of this ministry that teaches people how to make fun arts and crafts projects at home with their kids.

Something they said during their presentation stuck with me – the pride kids feel in having completed a project is more important than the project itself.

How often I forget the value of the process. I like the example of making a craft. The project may or may not turn out the way I thought it would. It may last a week, a day, or only an hour before finding its way to the trash can. But the memory of creating something together lasts long after the project itself has been thrown away. The skills learned through following directions and seeing a challenge through to the end serve a lifelong purpose. The pride of constructing something tangible that can be shown off to friends or grandparents builds esteem. The value goes on and on.

Sometimes we dread the mess of projects, or we have a long history of failed attempts and we don’t wish to add more. I encourage you to push these issues aside and try again (maybe with a sponge or vacuum nearby).

What personal projects are you putting off because they are too messy, either physically or emotionally? Is there a craft project you can do with your kids this weekend that will remind you of the importance of creating things together?

Friday, October 2, 2009

When Your Core Function Gets Lost In Novelty

“In everything that he undertook in the service of God’s temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered.” - 2 Chronicles 31:21

Frontier Airlines’ “Woody the Wood Duck” carried me safely to Nashville, Tennessee for the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) Convention last week. My kids love the fact that Frontier not only puts animals on their planes, but also names them and has the flight attendants announce to passengers which animal is escorting them to their destination. It is a fun novelty that goes a long way with kids.

Once in Music City, I was blessed with the opportunity to stay in a hotel with a lot of novelties as well. The Gaylord Opryland Hotel was home for five days.

There are several Gaylord hotels around America, and they are absolutely gorgeous. Each is unique in its details, but all boast the trademark Gaylord Atrium, enormous glass domes that allow natural light to nourish acres of live plants inside. Water flows among the trees and flowers in a river that you can actually take a boat ride on. The Gaylord in Dallas has live alligators in one of the ponds, and the hotel in Orlando contains a real sailboat (permanently anchored) that you can board for dinner. With every turn, your senses overflow with rich colors, scents, textures and sounds.

However, when you strip away the novelty of the fine food, the soothing music, and the ducks swimming in the river, you are simply left with a hotel. This is the true function of the facility. Unfortunately, they don’t do a very good job at being a hotel. They excel at creating an enticing atmosphere in the public parts of the hotel, but at the expense of providing an equal experience in the guest rooms. The indoor boat ride loses some of its luster when you can’t get enough towels in your room, or your sheets have holes in them, or room service trays litter the hallways because they don’t get picked up regularly. No one cares about the bells and whistles when the room is dirty or inadequate.

The same is true for our family lives as well. The décor of our homes, the clothes we wear, and the dishes we serve meals on are all appreciated and valued when our families are functioning well. However, if tension, discord or pressure live within our walls, no one really cares if you change out your candles for each season or put new flowers in the pots on your porch. The occupants of a home really only care about how it looks when they first like how it feels.

How is your family feeling? If everyone is happy, getting along well, and growing, then celebrate by getting out some fall décor and announcing the change of season. However, if all is not well, skip the decorating and save your energy and focus for your key function – developing your family.

If you need to let Halloween go unnoticed this year while you strengthen family relationships, don’t worry. Christmas will be here before you know it, and your healthy family will be ready to celebrate.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Failed Plans

In the years before I was a mother, the expression, "failing to plan is planning to fail," must have been deeply etched into my psyche. There is no other explanation for why, eight and a half years into motherhood, I still make plans.

Plans don't really work for moms. When I was pregnant, my hubby and I made a "birth plan." This is a false way of making a woman feel in control of a situation where she has no power whatsoever. Not a single thing in our birth plan went the way we thought it should.

Fast forward eight years, and I "planned" to spend the first part of today at a farm on a field trip with my youngest daughter, then I would hurry home to pack and get ready for my trip to Nashville for the MOPS Annual Convention. I am leaving tomorrow. However, since I am writing this, you can guess that I am not at the farm. The trip was thankfully postponed because it is snowing outside. Had it not been postponed,however, I wouldn't be there anyway because on the way to school my daughter threw up all over herself, the back of the car, her booster seat, and her backpack. So, instead of washing the clothes I need to pack later today, I have a "special" load going.

As moms, the only thing we can really count on is that life is unexpected. When we face it with a sense of flexibility and a willingness to tackle change head-on, we can manage life pretty well. When we get too rigid in our expectations, we end up always feeling like we've been puked on.

Thankfully, God is with us whether things go the way we think they should or not. He directs us through the obstacle course of change, and equips us with what we need for each moment. I am thankful that He made it cold and snowy on the day I had to clean up the back of my car. Had it been hot and sunny like it was yesterday, the smell probably would have made me sick along with my daughter. And that is something I definitely didn't plan for.

I won't be posting again until next week since I am "planning" to be in Nashville. Have a blessed week!

Friday, September 11, 2009


Jesus said to him, "I will go and heal him." - Matthew 8:7

I love people watching. Recently, I enjoyed lunch on an outside patio near a street fair. From my seat, I observed people visiting a chiropractor’s booth. He had them stand on raised footpads in front of a grid showing how the hips, spine and shoulders should be aligned.

Most people were crooked, so the doctor twisted their hips and adjusted their shoulders until they matched the grid.

How often I feel misaligned. Issues with my kids push my mothering hip out to the left, reminiscent of the days when it held a wriggling baby at my side. The weight of financial burdens force one shoulder down, while the other one tips forward in frustration toward my husband after a squabble. The demands of daily life twist and turn me until I am all out of whack.

Amazingly however, in one brief moment, I can begin to straighten out, and it has nothing to do with a chiropractor. As soon as I close my eyes in prayer, I feel myself relax. I murmur, “Father God,” and my spine stretches upright, closer to His presence. With, “I need your help,” my shoulders ease as I relieve myself of my burdens and my hips pull back into place as I trust Him to handle the details and trials of life.

Need an alignment (either physical or mental)? Take it to the master healer.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Age Appropriate

“Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.” 1 John 3:7

Seemingly out of the blue, my eight-year-old daughter became a thrill seeker. She suddenly developed an interest in scary movies, “big kid” amusement park rides, and cruising around on her bike without using her hands.

This is a perfectly normal development for an eight-year-old. However, it brings a new twist on determining what is age appropriate, particularly when it comes to books and movies. Unfortunately, most media products don’t grow one developmental milestone at a time the way kids do. A child who is ready for more action and adventure in movies may not be prepared for the additional violence, foul language, or romantic themes that often come along for the ride.

We ran into this issue earlier this month when my daughter wanted to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Since she had already read the book, I went to the theater myself to preview the film version. Usually I turn to on-line reviewers, such as, but I had a hard time deciding whether this movie would be appropriate or not, so I checked it out in person. The next day, I returned to the theater with my daughter for a girl’s night out at the movies, but not before having a conversation about all the kissing she was about to see. The movie gave me a nice excuse to have one of many conversations about personal boundaries and appropriate shows of affection.

Books can be a bit easier to manage than movies. After all, the imagination generally doesn’t go into unfamiliar territory. When my daughter wants to read something I am unfamiliar with, I either have a quick chat with the school librarian (who is always happy to advise me on age appropriate books) or my daughter and I read the book together so we can discuss any questionable themes in the context of the story.

Not sure what is age appropriate or what new stages you should expect to see in your child? Check out They have information on child development from birth through age eight.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Being Prepared Feels So Good

"Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed." - 1 Peter 1:13

Hello, Mom! I missed you while I was on my blogging break. I hope you are having a wonderful summer.

One Sunday last month, I got to participate in a street festival in the town where I live. The local library had a booth there and they let different authors take turns working it to promote their books.

Unfortunately, traffic was not as brisk as I hoped. However, I had my trusty notebook and pen with me. I didn’t sell much, so instead I sat happily in my booth writing. I have never had six hours to sit and write. It was wonderful. The creative juices were flowing and I felt a true sense of accomplishment from getting so much down on paper.

Had I not had a pen and paper with me, it would have been a wasted day. Instead, it turned out to be more productive than I ever could have predicted.

Is there something you enjoy doing that you don’t get much time for? See if there is a way to bring it with you for those unexpected moments of downtime. I know one mom who tucks family photos in an envelope that she keeps in her car so she can sort them for scrapbooking projects while waiting in the carpool line at her son’s school. Another friend balances her checkbook and pays bills from the side of the soccer field so she can do more enjoyable things with her family after practice. Maybe you could keep a small notebook in your purse so you can take advantage of unexpected free minutes to plan or organize upcoming projects.

I keep a plastic bin on the front passenger seat of my car. It holds my purse, a box of tissues, a coupon book, and other items I like to have within easy reach while I’m driving. It is also a great spot to store my paper, as well as other little projects I take on the go. These items stay protected in my bin and don’t end up all over the floor of the car if I have to suddenly hit the brakes. Plus, I can easily move the bin to the back of the car when I carry a front seat passenger with me.

What can you take along to make it easier for you to take advantage of unexpected free minutes?

If you are not currently receiving my Monthly Answers for Moms, e-mail me at and I will add you to the list. Each month you will receive a free parenting tip via e-mail! Plus, in September I am offering discounts on my parent coaching services exclusively for moms on my Monthly Answers list. Don’t miss out!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Training Good Losers

“Then you will understand what is right and just and fair--every good path.” - Proverbs 2:9

Last week, my kids started summer sports. My oldest plays baseball, while my six-year-old loves soccer.

On the day of her first baseball practice, my daughter had a friend over to play. They decided to entertain themselves with a card game. All was going well as they enjoyed a spirited competition, but then I said, “You can each play one more hand and then we need to get ready to leave for baseball practice.”

As it turned out, playing one more hand left my daughter the loser of the game. Had they played two more hands, she could have won. Her loss prompted an uncharacteristic outburst directed towards me. “If we could have played longer, I could have won. Thanks a lot!”

Teaching our kids to be good sports can be tough. Many kids can master the art of gracious winning, but helping them learn to have good attitudes in the face of defeat can take some work. Remind them of how it feels to win when playing with someone who loses well, and how it feels to compete against a poor loser. Then let them know that getting to play includes doing a good job of finishing the game, regardless of the results. Some kids will need a later reminder by having you say, “I’m sorry honey, but you don’t get to play cards this time because I need to help you learn to handle yourself better when you don’t win. As soon as you’ve shown me that you can play nicely whether you win or not, you can play again.” Most moms only have this conversation once before they start seeing better attitudes from their kids. Also, make sure that when you play games with your child, sometimes let him win and other times let him lose. This lets him practice responding to both situations, and gives you an opportunity to coach him if he has trouble or praise him when he handles the situation well.

By the time baseball practice started, my daughter’s competitive spirit was back on track. As we walked toward the car when she was done, she commented, “Did you see that boy who wasn’t playing like a good sport?” I love those life lessons that come full circle in only an hour.

How do you help your child learn to be gracious in defeat?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Smiling In The Rain

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." - James 1:2-3

There are a lot of things I love about my husband, but one characteristic I especially appreciate is his positive outlook. His ability to turn virtually any situation into a positive experience triumphed this past week while we were on vacation.

Thinking that a week of hiking would be a great way to kick off summer vacation, we headed to the mountains for one of our favorite family hobbies. The first couple of days were wonderful. We basked in beautiful weather and enjoyed the bright sunshine and clear skies. However, on the third day, the rain started and did not end.

Thankfully, my husband and I believe that a good time can be found anywhere and in any situation. Not to be deterred by the rain, we watched movies and read books, like everyone does when it is wet outside. However, we also went sightseeing, explored mountain towns, and had fun walking in the rain. My husband said, “We’re not going to let the rain slow us down.” And we didn’t.

The kids had a great time too. They never complained about being wet (which they clearly were) or cold (which I assume they were because I was) or walking on sidewalks and paved trails rather than our customary dirt paths. They went along with our altered plans, smiling all the way.

I truly believe that the attitudes of parents become those of the children. Adults who are positive and find silver linings amidst the storm clouds tend to have kids with great outlooks. I even think that parents can influence some change in a child’s natural attitude wiring. We often tease my youngest daughter by calling her Eeyore. She and the lovable donkey from Winnie The Pooh share a flare for the negative. However, as my daughter gets older, I notice a positive view of life trumping the negative more and more.

What is your general outlook, Mom? Do you notice your kids being more positive when you point out the blessings of life? Do you hear more complaining from your little ones on days when the world weighs heavily on your shoulders? How do you notice your attitude influencing your children?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Look of Love

We love because he first loved us. – 1 John 4:19

I joyfully watched my niece get married last Friday. With the ceremony held in a garden, it was, of course, beautiful. My daughters were flower girls, and I smiled with them in shared excitement as they sprinkled petals down the aisle ahead of their cousin.

My favorite part of the night however, was not the stunning wedding gown, the amazing bouquet, or my adorable girls trying to line dance in their full-length flower girl dresses. My favorite part was the way the groom looked at his bride. His entire expression transformed every time he turned his gaze towards her. His eyes softened, his cheeks relaxed, and his face filled with pure love.

That is how God looks at us—with pure, unchanging, all-consuming love. I hope my husband and my children see that look from me, but I know the truth is that sometimes my expression is less than they deserve. I hope my new nephew-in-law (or whatever you call your niece’s husband) never stops looking at his wife that way, but in reality, they will probably have the same bumps all couples experience.

But God never has bumps in His relationships. When we screw up and wander away from Him, He may discipline and correct us, but His love never changes. Even when we defiantly run in the opposite direction, He doesn’t get frustrated and give up. He insists that we ask His forgiveness and make things right, but He adores us every step of the way.

Are you feeling God look at you with love today, Mom?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Dangerous Encounters

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. - Isaiah 41:10

My family lives in a rural area where we share our dwelling space with wild animals. We routinely wait for mule deer to move so we can pull into the driveway. Over time, the sound of coyotes howling in the night stopped pulling us out of our slumber. We learned little tricks to make life with our land-mates more successful, including the installation of high-frequency devices that minimize eight-legged visitors.

When we first moved in, we would regularly go to the lower level of our ranch-style house and be greeted by fifteen to twenty European house spiders in the hallway. These “intruders” are venom-free, but creepy all the same. And despite their harmless nature, we were relieved to find a device that kept most of them out of the house.

Unfortunately, not all of the spiders we live with are safe. Occasionally a deadly, venomous black widow finds its way in. We know where they wriggle into our home, so we monitor that area diligently, and regularly spray an insecticide around the perimeter of the house.

Last week, we busily prepared our yard for a big Mother’s Day celebration. After being neglected all winter, the yard needed a lot of attention. My husband recruited our daughters to help by loading some small rocks into a wheelbarrow so he could roll them away.

That night, my six-year-old crawled into my bed around 4 am saying she couldn’t sleep due to bad dreams about spiders. I asked if she had seen a spider recently, and she affirmed that three shiny black arachnids lurked under the rocks the girls moved earlier in the day. In our yard, we only have one type of shiny black spider – black widows.

A sick twist grew in the pit of my stomach as she relayed the details of finding the spiders. She and her sister hadn’t seen one in quite a while and didn’t recognize them as dangerous. In their ignorance, they didn’t think to tell anyone. Horrible thoughts invaded my mind as I pictured my babies sitting face to face with death. My older daughter smooshed one with a rock. Thinking of her getting that close made me want to throw up.

But then a wave of peace washed over me as I remembered that I am not the only one who loves my girls and works like crazy to protect them. Their Father safeguards them better than I ever could. Whether I am there or not, He always has them in His sight. I cannot protect them from every danger the world throws their way, and reality shows me that God will not. But their safety is out of my control more often than I like to admit, and I am thankful that they are sheltered in the very best hands.

Coincidently, I have had a few conversations this week with people paralyzed by different fears. They are well-founded, rational concerns, rooted in real-life troubles. However, we tend to respond to fear with knee-jerk reactions (like my initial response to the black widow incident, which was, “Let’s sell the house and get away from these blasted bugs!”).

The most we can do to avoid disaster is to take proper precautions (like reminding the girls to stay away from shiny black things), use common sense to the best of our abilities, and trust God. We cannot live in constant fear of what might happen, or let the unknown dictate how we go through our days. Living in fear means we’re not living in faith.

What fears are you or your kids facing right now? What can you turn over to God in trust?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Timing Really Is Everything

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. - Ecclesiastes 3:1

Yesterday, my eight-year-old went outside to ride her bike. This may seem like a routine thing for a kid to do, and not something worth blogging about. For most third graders, bike riding is as normal as walking. For my daughter, however, this is not the case. Her nemesis took the form of a bicycle about two years ago.

With training wheels as her constant companion, my little biker did pretty well cruising up and down our long (and bumpy) country driveway. But one sunny day, we decided to try riding on a long, smooth, concrete path in town. Our adventure progressed so well that my husband and I thought it was time for our daughter to try a genuine two-wheeler, without training wheels.

As I am sure you can guess, I wouldn’t be writing about this event had we gone on to enjoy a successful bike ride. Instead, fast forward to the present day where any mention of bike riding sent my daughter into hiding. One day I insisted she practice, with me holding her on the bike. I explained that “someday you will have to know how to ride a bike. How else will you get around at college?” She quickly rebutted with, “I’ll drive.”

Yesterday, however, she came home from school and said, “I’m going to try riding my bike.” I have no idea what brought about this change of heart, and I was too dumbstruck to ask any questions. Instead, I watched in amazement as she sat on the bike with her feet on the ground and found her balance. She set her peddles into a precise position, then went into motion. At first she only went about half of a yard before her feet sought solid ground, but within thirty minutes, she was riding her two-wheeler, all on her own, to the end of the driveway and back.

That night I told her how proud I was of her for riding her bike. She said, “I guess I’m finally tall enough to fit the bike.” I assured her that she was tall enough the day we bought it for her. What had grown was her confidence, along with her sense of determination. No matter how much her dad and I (as well as her sister, grandparents, cousins and friends) had tried convincing her that she could do it and would enjoy it, no one could make her ride a bike. She would never do it until she was ready.

Timing is a funny thing. We all have things that we should be able to do, yet somehow we aren’t quite ready to take the necessary steps. I often meet moms stuck in this phase of limbo when it comes to being consistent in their discipline techniques. They know they should be able to discipline their children, they want to do it, yet something holds them back from actually doing it.

We all know that you can’t make a kid use the potty until he is ready, and all of the potty-training know-how in the world won’t make him ready.

Most of us have known high school seniors who, despite good grades and big ambitions, just aren’t ready to go to leave home for college.

Accepting when the timing isn’t right can be frustrating. Overcoming a readiness hurdle, whether in ourselves or in our children, requires both prayer and patience until something within eventually gets into gear and we move forward. Forcing the issue gets us nowhere, especially when it comes to kids.

I am grateful that the time is finally right for my daughter to be a bike rider. Now if I can just hold out until she is ready to use the brakes…

What are you wishing you were ready for but the timing just doesn’t seem to be right? What are you wishing your kids were ready for?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Rejection Lessons

For the LORD will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance. - Psalm 94:14

As a writer, I know that rejection is a regular part of life. Sometimes an editor doesn’t like my writing style, or recently bought a similar piece, or simply doesn’t have a need for my work at the moment. Rejection comes with the business, but it always stings a bit.

Today, however, I experienced rejection in a whole new way. In an attempt to find some extra money, I purged my closet of my old business suits and took them to a consignment store. The friendly shop owner politely told me that she doesn’t carry suits because they don’t sell well. When asked if she knew anyone who might take them, she referred me to another store in town.

I hauled my suits to the next consignment store, where I heard that they were too old and out of style. So much for “classic” tailoring. However, I left with the name of yet another consignment shop.

At my third stop, I learned my duds weren’t “high end” enough. The fact that this small pile of clothes cost over $500 ten years ago is apparently meaningless in today’s resale world.

Repeatedly hearing that one’s clothes are old and cheap brings personal rejection to a whole new level, but despite this, each dismissal spurred me on to try another store. The embarrassment of peddling unwanted clothes faded, and I became boldly determined to find someone who would take my former treasures.

I started thinking, “I’d better go home and submit some stories for publication because I am not sure I’ll feel this comfortable with rejection ever again.”

Tomorrow I plan to get busy trying to consign my kids’ clothes. I think I will let them be part of the process so they can learn to get comfy with rejection too. Perhaps hearing their former favorites are undesirable will toughen them up a bit and help make the next playground squabble or careless remark from a friend just a little less hurtful.

Have you ever found a way to manage the sting of rejection for yourself or your kids? If not, I have some old suits you can try to consign!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Hair Affair

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. - 1 Peter 3:3-4

My daughters both have very long, pretty, “little girl” hair. I think their long hair is beautiful, but my husband loves it. He thinks it is exactly the length of hair little girls should have. He likes it when I style their hair in braids, pony tails, and other little girl styles. When it comes to our daughters’ appearance, he generally doesn’t have much to say. His only request is that they have long hair.

The girls, however, are ready for a change. They both want to cut their tresses before summer so they can stay a little cooler. They also want to donate their hair to Locks of Love, an organization that makes real-hair wigs for children without hair due to illness.

I am glad for their generous spirits regarding their hair. I want to make sure they understand that their beauty comes not from their hair or any other physical feature. Rather, it comes from the light of Jesus shining within them. A kind heart looks better than the latest hair style on anyone.

We’ve all come to an agreement (Dad included) that the girls can cut their hair once they’ve got enough to donate Locks of Love’s minimum requirement of ten inches and can still have shoulder-length styles after their cuts.

What are some of the fashion or personal style issues at work in your family right now?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Cheering For The Home Team

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:11

This week, my daughters started a cheerleading class. Once a week they go to learn different cheers, jumps, and tumbling techniques. They love getting to shout, sing, and root for an imaginary team.

I hope they feel well-equipped for this because they’ve always had a cheerleader at home. I make a purposeful effort to let them know I think they are the best. We celebrate their victories and rejoice in their efforts.

Everyone needs to know there is a cheerleader in their corner rooting for them no matter the challenge or the outcome.

One way we show support in our family is with the “candle of honor.” When someone makes a meaningful accomplishment, he or she gets a special candle at their place at the dinner table. Share some ways you cheer on your family members with love.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Fighting To Stay On Course

Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth. – Proverbs 10:4
Along with most of the country, my husband and I recently renewed our commitment to battle debt. We seem to have a bad habit of working hard to follow a budget and save money for a few months, then we get lazy and succumb to credit card convenience. Eventually something catches our attention enough to get us back on track, at least for a while.

This financial teeter totter is exhausting, primarily because the hardest part of sticking to a budget is the first few months when you have to work out the kinks and figure out how to handle unexpected expenses. By repeatedly giving up and starting over, we redo the hard part over and over again. Our laziness and the ease with which we fall back into familiar patterns not only keep us from making any real headway, but in the long run they add stress and hardship to the process.

I find this happens in other areas of life as well. I develop a good habit of going to the gym on a regular basis, but as soon as I catch a cold and skip a few days, I return to my old ways and fill that time with something easier. I figure out a system for keeping my house clean, but as soon as a writing deadline or school field trip breaks my pattern, the dust starts collecting.

Thankfully, the Bible gives us instructions for battling this problem. 1 Timothy 6:11 tells us to “flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” In other words, when we find ourselves wondering off track, we are to purposefully strive for living in ways that please God. The term “endurance” used in this passage means that we regroup, we shake off “the lazies” and get back to doing what we know is right. Of course, this has to be done with plenty of prayer. I have never been successful at overcoming a struggle without God’s help.

This is a great thing to talk about with our kids. Let them know when you set a new budget so they understand why you are going home for lunch instead of stopping at McDonald’s. You may even find your kids helping you stay on track. You can also help them set a budget for their allowance money. My kids divide their earnings into separate piggy banks for saving, spending and offering. When we started this system, I suggested a formula for spreading the money between the three banks, but they decide for themselves how to actually divide the money. They get 10 quarters every week, so I recommended putting one in offering (ten percent), four in savings (forty percent) and five in spending (fifty percent). I am amazed every week when they put the bulk of their money in offering, the next biggest chunk in savings, and only a quarter or two in spending. Sometimes kids can really teach us a thing or two about Godly living (or maybe I have been too quick to buy things for them so they assume they don’t need spending money!). Encourage your kids to help the whole family stay on a budget.

Do you have any suggestions for staying the course when things get tough? Share your ideas!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

When To Step In

“I have done no wrong, yet they are ready to attack me. Arise to help me; look on my plight!” - Psalm 59:4

Recently, we got together with another family for dinner. My husband and I enjoy this couple, but we only see them a couple of times a year. Part of the reason for this infrequency is that our kids don’t particularly enjoy theirs.

Our friends’ kids love playing, they have creative ideas for games, and they are very energetic. The problem is not in finding things to play; it is in the way they play. Throughout the evening, my younger daughter came to me with regular reports on how their playmates were hurting her, using poor manners, and behaving disrespectfully. When we got home she said, “Sometimes those kids are just too much for me.” My older daughter came home with the news that she was repeatedly hit, pushed, poked, and kicked throughout the evening, but since she wasn’t seriously hurt, she hadn’t mentioned it while we were out.

In the past, we have coached our girls through ways of handling situations with these kids. We suggested things to say to work out the conflicts that inevitably arise. However, things appeared to have gone too far this time, and we told our girls that when their friends are irritating or annoying, they need to try to work it out themselves. If they get hit or physically touched in any way they don’t like, they can tell us and we will step in.

Generally, I don’t like getting involved in kids’ squabbles. I think it often causes more problems than it solves. What’s more, kids need to learn the art of negotiation. They will clash with people their entire lives, and won’t always have mom and dad there to help smooth things over. The earlier we can give them tools to work out their own problems, the more practiced they will be when they go out into the world on their own.

However, sometimes there comes a point where things go too far and our children really do need us to intervene. In the process of learning how to work things out, sometimes they need an advocate, particularly when they are under physical attack. It is especially difficult for kids when the one who’s after them is not their sibling. When it comes to brothers and sisters, many kids will just hit right back. But most kids know not to get rough with those outside the family, so they need help learning how to respond to this type of situation.

Kids also need to know that they have the support of their parents when social situations get sticky. Share what you do help your kids when they have trouble dealing with others.

Next week we will continue on this topic by talking about ways to help our kids avoid being the source of playtime problems.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Fighting The Global Food Crisis

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” – Matthew 25:35-40

If you listen to K-LOVE radio, you probably know that Wednesday, March 11 was Global Food Crisis Day. The radio network teamed up with Compassion International to spread the word about our world-wide hunger epidemic and to raise money to feed starving children.

According to the United Nations World Food program, families in every nation on the planet are struggling with rising food prices, food shortages, and in many areas, natural disasters. They call this combination a “perfect storm” for malnutrition and starvation. Approximately 4.4 million children die every year from this problem.

While I have always had a heart for kids, I found myself more passionate about children’s issues after becoming a mom. I felt more compassion for the heartbreak a mother faces when she has to decide which child will eat today because she doesn’t have enough to feed her entire family. I cry more quickly when I hear stories of kids eating cookies made of dirt to help lessen the hunger pangs. When I look at the bounty in my own pantry, I can’t help but whisper a prayer for those with nothing.

Amazingly, it costs very little money in our culture to feed those in another. The average cost of feeding a child in a developing country for an entire month is only $13. As a mom, I feel the need to not only take care of my children, but to help other little ones as well. If you feel the same way, go to and click on the words “Global Food Crisis” to donate.

Sadly, kids are also starving right here in our own communities and neighborhoods. We can help those families by making sure our local food banks are well stocked. At a time when most of us are feeling a financial squeeze, it can seem overwhelming to take on the needs of others. Thankfully, we don’t have to do it ourselves. Help your kids pull a wagon around your neighborhood and ask each family on your block to donate one canned food item. Think about how quickly you could collect 30, 40, even 50 cans for your community's food bank!

By working together, we can each do a small part in making a big difference for hungry children around the world. What ideas can you share for helping people get enough to eat?

Friday, March 6, 2009

What A Wonderful World

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. - 1 Peter 2:9

An interesting thing happened today. Two separate people sent me two unrelated e-mails with links to cute/inspiring online videos. I enjoyed them both immensely, but the uncanny thing about this was that both videos were set to the same song—Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.”

I realize that YouTube is full of videos set to this beloved song, but I don’t think it appeared twice in my inbox by coincidence. In fact, I received these two e-mails several days apart, but opened them one right after the other. I didn’t know what either message contained, but was greeted with the same song twice in a row. I don’t think this was a coincidence either. Today, I needed a reminder that this truly is a wonderful world.

Just before opening these, I sat down to write my weekly blog post. “I’ll just quickly check my e-mail first,” I told myself. This was my way of procrastinating because I wasn’t quite sure what to blog about. My brain was swirling with thoughts about my husband’s grandmother who is in serious condition after having a heart attack yesterday. I considered posting some thoughts about managing our schedules after having a heart-to-heart this morning with a friend who is feeling out of control because she tries to do too much. Or maybe I would write something to encourage the women out there who’s husband’s don’t know God, since another friend was lamenting about that issue earlier today. I had plenty of depressing topics to choose from.

But then I heard this song, and it reminded me that despite the troubles and worries of everyday life, God is mighty. We truly do live in a wonderful world. He created not only a beautiful place for us to live, but amazing people to share our experience with. When we strip away the politics and the economics, we can find our way to a simple truth. At its core, life is good. God loves us so much that every day He gives us another beautiful sunrise, a breeze to blow away the mistakes and regrets of yesterday, and a warm sun to encourage us to try again.

If you are feeling down, or frustrated, or alone today, take a step outside and enjoy this wonderful world. Consider it a gift from your Father.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Selective Hearing

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” – Proverbs 3:5

Yesterday, Ash Wednesday marked the beginning of the Lenten season of forty days leading to Easter. My daughters attended a church service with me last night while my husband played in the praise band.

The service was advertised as a “family” service, which to me meant it would be geared toward kids with a message the younger crowd could appreciate. Imagine my surprise when the sermon was about David’s adulterous encounter with Bathsheba and his murder of her husband. I never would have guessed that church would be where my children learned the word “affair.” I also didn’t think it would be the place where they would find out babies don’t always come after marriage, the way I have implied. When we got to the car, I asked my kids what they thought about the service. Thankfully, they both agreed that they didn’t understand a lot of it because “the guy talking used too many big words.” Whew, maybe we dodged a couple of bullets there.

However, despite her lack of understanding some vocabulary, the Lord still used that service to work a transformation in my eight-year-old’s heart. The whole way home she happily chattered on about how she had gotten out of the habit of reading the Bible every day and wanted to resume the discipline. She asked if we could read from the Bible before dinner each night during Lent, and if she could start getting up earlier in the morning to have time to pray or work through her devotional guide. She asked if it was okay to pray at school. She also expressed her sadness for a girl who doesn’t know Jesus, and said she wanted to tell her friend about Him at recess. Clearly, while I was worrying about what was said in the service, God was speaking to her in an entirely different way.

I love that about God. I find it fascinating that He can lead two people in the same worship service to hear two entirely different things. My oldest daughter left the service on fire, I left trying to figure out how I would explain some of the speaker’s more colorful descriptions of David’s behavior, and my youngest left wondering how long it would be before she could get home and into bed. She also wanted to know why everyone had ashes on their foreheads. The same experience left us in different emotional states and fueled unique responses in how to move forward in faith.

This experience has me feeling a bit more confident in sending my daughter out into the world at large. While I believe it is important to let kids enjoy the innocence of youth and to shield young children from some of the harsher realities of life, I can now see that I am not alone in this effort. God is obviously at work in filling her ears with what He has to say, protecting her from things she doesn’t need to hear. That doesn’t mean she is oblivious to the four-letter words that float around the third grade, or the way her peers all giggle at the word “sex,” but I trust that God can temper her understanding of these things until she is developmentally ready for them.

Have you ever had an experience where someone at church gave your child more information than you hoped? What was the result of this?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Celebrating YOU!

“They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.” - Psalm 145:7

I am a day late in posting to my blog because yesterday was overrun with Valentine’s Day celebrations. My kids don’t have school today, so they both had class parties yesterday. My hubby and I honored the day of love with a dinner out last night because on the real Valentine’s Day I will be selling Girl Scout cookies with my daughter at Safeway (and people say romance is dead).

In the midst of the festivities, it occurred to me that we recognize every holiday, achievement, and milestone for our kids, while not taking the time to celebrate our own accomplishments. I have never done anything to commemorate the publishing of a story, article, or even my book. I didn’t go out or raise a toast after my first speaking engagement, or when I completed my parent coaching certification. My personal growth gets stirred in with the carpooling kids, making dinner, and checking homework of daily life. I don’t do anything to take my special moments and set them apart. Perhaps you don't celebrate your success either.

This is a mistake in several ways. First of all, everyone deserves recognition. Occasionally hearing “atta girl” is good for our self esteem. It is healthy to have someone recognize our efforts once in a while. Secondly, it is good for our kids to celebrate us. They need to understand that moms are whole people who contribute more to the world than macaroni lunches and rides to soccer practice. Letting them learn how to be proud of other people, and how to express that pride, is a great skill for them to have when they have spouses and children (and employees or coworkers) of their own. Thirdly, letting our spouses see us in a different light can be good for kindling a little romance. When we celebrate, we typically trade in our everyday garb for something a bit more special. We often put more effort into our hair and make-up. And what celebration is complete without wine and chocolate? After the kids go to bed, let your hubby spend a little time showing you just how great you really are.

Most importantly, when we celebrate, we can make a point of publicly (even if our family is the only “public” there) acknowledging our gratitude to God for using us in meaningful ways. 2 Corinthians 9:8 tells us, “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” Our ability to accomplish the things that are important to us comes from God. We must always remember that and give Him thanks. When we start thinking our good work is ours alone, we wade into dangerous waters.

Remember, mom, you are important and your accomplishments (even little ones) are cause for celebration. Go get the party started! I have a big speaking engagement coming up next week. I think I’ll go put a bottle of wine in the fridge for the festivities.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

25 Random Things

I know this is a departure from my typical blog post, but several of my friends on Facebook and Twitter have tagged me for “25 Random Things” and I figured it would be easier to direct everyone to my blog for this list.

If you are on Facebook or Twitter and we aren’t “friends” yet, look me up – I would love to keep up with what you are doing.

So, here is the list – 25 random things about me:

1. I love all things chocolate—the darker the better—as long as they are gluten free.
2. I was mostly gluten free for about three ½ years before becoming completely gluten free a little over two years ago.
3. The only organizational systems that work for me are the kinds where I can see what is inside – I am an out-of-sight out-of-mind kind of worker.
4. Thankfully I am not an out-of-sight out-of mind friend, and those I see the least are those I think about most often.
5. I used to be a cat person until I got my dog. She is definitely the greatest dog ever. Now I am a cat and dog person.
6. I would love to go on the K-LOVE Friends and Family Music Cruise.
7. Every time I have to teach Sunday school I think, “Ugh, I don’t want to go.” And every time I have so much fun that I leave thinking, “I should do this more often.” I teach kindergarteners and first graders once a month.
8. See number seven and replace the words Sunday school with “the gym.” Same concept applies.
9. More time to read would be lovely.
10. It will be a thrilling day when my youngest daughter can ride her bike without needing me to come help every three minutes. Of course, when she’s all grown up I know I’ll sit around thinking, “I wish I would have helped her more with her bike riding.”
11. Actually, I AM going to go help her ride her bike—I’ll be back in a little bit…
12. When I was a teenager I loved gum. I always had a piece in my mouth. Now I find it annoying to chew, the flavor never lasts long enough, and it leaves a weird taste in my mouth when I spit it out.
13. I don’t know why anyone drinks regular Coke when Diet Coke tastes so good.
14. For our honeymoon, my husband and I went to Puerto Vallarta. We would both like to go back again sometime.
15. If I could talk my husband into it, I would move to Mexico for a year. My Spanish would move from pathetic to fabulous, the sale of my American house could buy a lot of groceries there, and any culture that takes a nap in the middle of the afternoon gets two thumbs up.
16. I loved swimming when I was a kid and I swam every day in the summer. Now I don’t like it because I hate getting cold and don’t like having to shower and get ready twice in one day.
17. Did I mention that I really like chocolate?
18. I also like chai tea.
19. I do not like coffee. Never have, probably never will.
20. When I was in college I interned for a year doing public relations “for the stars” in Los Angeles.
21. At 15, I brilliantly rode my bike in the dark, wrecked, and broke my jaw. I still have a pin in my jaw to prove it.
22. The pin does not set off the metal detector at the airport, but it does make the remote control for locking and unlocking my car work from farther away. Nice feature.
23. I am apparently a Facebook loser because I don’t know what it means to poke someone, have a snowball fight with someone, or grow a lil’ green garden.
24. You’ll be really happy if you visit my blog again next week, and if you leave me a comment!
25. You’ll be even happier if you go to and buy my new book, Mothering Like The Father: Following God’s Example In Parenting Young Children.
26. I’m glad you are my friend! (I know it is only supposed to be 25, but I couldn’t resist throwing in a bonus item.)

Friday, January 30, 2009

At Risk

“The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.” - Ecclesiastes 9:11

Seat belts. Helmets. Hand sanitizer. Our days fill up with efforts to minimize our risk related to the various dangers of life. Most of our attempts at safety are for the best. After all, no one wants to spend the day in the emergency room. But at what point do we take caution too far?

Perhaps more importantly, what are we teaching our children about fear?

How do we instill an understanding of the need for reasonable precautions while encouraging our kids to take appropriate risks? We don’t want our kids growing up afraid to take a chance on a friendship, on the sporting field, or in the classroom. What would childhood be like if we were all too afraid to ever get on a bicycle or climb a tree? What would our adult lives look like if we had been too afraid as teenagers to try driving, or dating, or auditioning for the school play?

We tend to grow the most through the experiences that challenge us. Likewise, experts say that self esteem is built not through the praise of others, but by proving to ourselves that we can succeed at the things we find difficult. In order to do this, we need to take a chance and try the things that challenge us, and so do our kids.

One of my favorite Bible verses is 2 Timothy 1:7. It says, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” What can you do to encourage your child to develop the spirit God gave her? Does she need encouragement to try something new? Does she need the opportunity to practice a budding skill until it finally blossoms? Is she yearning for the chance to stretch a little too far without fearing that you will call her back too soon?

If letting go is difficult, ask God to show you areas where you can comfortably let your child take a greater risk. Also ask Him where you can go out on a limb yourself. Sometimes the best way to encourage our kids to take a scary step is by taking it ourselves.

What can you do this week to teach your child to be bold rather than fearful?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Goal or Dream?

“Then Job replied to the Lord: I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.” – Job 42:1-2

Last year I set a big, life-changing sort of goal for myself. I decided that I want to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro by the time I am 40. I got my husband on board, and we set out a plan to start training, and saving money, for this expedition that would challenge us both physically and financially.

We got out our calendars and planned regular hiking trips throughout the spring, preparing us to tackle two “14ers” (mountains with summit elevations over 14,000 feet above sea level) during the summer. I also started looking for ways to save little bits of money here and there, hoping to save enough to put a dent in the price tag of this trip.

Fast forward about a year to today. While we did get in some fabulous hiking last year, little of it was difficult enough to truly constitute “training” since we ended up taking our kids with us every time. This made for great family bonding, as well as good exercise, but hardly prepared us to take on the big mountains we planned to face during the summer. As a result, the highest elevation we hit last year was around 9,400 feet. Additionally, my savings plan clearly needs modification since my personal piggy bank is disappointingly light.

The state of this situation led me to question whether I am truly pursuing a goal or merely chasing a dream. I see a goal as something you work toward with a strategic plan for accomplishing well-defined benchmarks along the way. When you get off track, you re-collect yourself and try again. A dream, on the other hand, is something that is more likely to stay in your head, feeling exciting and offering a sense of hope, while never actually becoming an action of your hands and feet.

So what happened over the past year to demote my goal to mere dream status? A couple of things got in the way, including the pursuit of another goal—getting my book published. Additionally, daily life with two young children and changes in my husband’s work seemed to control the schedule more than I did. This fact is perhaps the most telling in deciding whether something is a goal or a dream. When you are focused on accomplishing something, its place in your schedule is sacred. When you dream of something, you allow other activities to come first. Clearly for me, getting my book out was a priority over mountain climbing last year. That is okay with me.

One of my favorite sayings is, “You can have it all, just not all at the same time.” Last year was the time for the book. Perhaps this will be the year for the mountain climbing. Once again, I am going to schedule regular hiking trips (some with the kids and some with child care) and hopefully make it to 14,000 feet this summer. I am going to fine tune my savings plan, since I now only have four years to either win the lottery or save an equivalent amount before turning 40. In short, I am going to move Kilimanjaro from dream status back to goal status (I’ll let you know how it goes since I have two more books in the works!).

This week, I encourage you to consider what your goals are versus your dreams. What steps are you taking to accomplish something meaningful to you? What physical reminders can you put in place around you to help keep you on track? These might be things like notes to yourself, a special quill on your desk to remind you to write, or a photo of Kilimanjaro to inspire you. Share your goals and dreams with us – let’s inspire and encourage each other in our endeavors.

On a separate note, I now have the devotional page up and running on my web site. Check out a weekly look at how the Book of Philippians relates to our lives as moms.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Great Is His Faithfulness

For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. – Psalm 57:10

Last week I was lamenting over a bad day of book sales. How silly of me to forget, for even one day, how faithful our God truly is. In the midst of my whining and complaining, He blessed me with contracts on not one, not two, but four pieces I had written for compilation books. Not only that, but this week my book sales are doing great.

How like me to let one set back knock my whole train off its rail. I imagine God must be looking down from Heaven thinking, “How much does this woman need? I bless her socks off day after day, but the minute things get rough she falls apart!” Do you ever feel this way, Mom?

It is not just a bad sales day that can put me in a funk. One of my kids bringing home an uncharacteristically bad grade on an assignment can do it. A sharp comment from my husband on the cleanliness of our home (or more accurately, the lack of cleanliness) can definitely do it. Even a glance at my impossible schedule can do it. When things don’t go my way I tend to panic and start questioning if God really knows what He is doing.

Thankfully, He never lets me go very far with these foolish thoughts before reminding me that He is in control for a reason. It does no good for me to panic because these issues are out of my hands. God calls us to do two things: To love Him with all of our hearts, souls and minds; and to love others as we love ourselves. This means all of the “stuff” like book sales, grades, housekeeping, and the other demands of earthly life are not our priorities. If they truly need to be attended to, He will make it happen.

How grateful I am to serve a God who loves me in spite of my shortcomings, who takes care of the details of my life even when I fight Him for control, and who is patient enough to bless me in spite of my complaints. How is God caring for you this week? I recently heard someone say that if you can’t find anything to be thankful for, thank God for something you haven’t been cursed with! Lets us know what you thank Him for this week.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Ups and Downs

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. - Romans 8:28

Welcome to my newly redesigned blog! I thought the New Year was a good time to unveil a new look – especially one with a color scheme that is a bit similar to that of my new web site. I hope you will check it out at I got the web site up in time to correspond with the release of my new book, Mothering Like The Father: Following God’s Example In Parenting Young Children. You can find the book on the website, at, or at Clearly, 2008 ended on a high note for me.

However, we all know that what goes up must come down. I won’t get any information on my online sales for a few months, but I had been looking forward to my first speaking engagement of 2009 to sell my first copy of the new book by hand. Today was the big day, and I sold…drum roll please…none.

Now I am in a disappointed funk, questioning not only my place in this crazy world of publishing, but my very calling to spread the message God has given me through the written word. I am feeling quite inadequate. However, I recently read something that reminded me to turn disappointment into an appointment to trust God’s plan. Even though my heart hurts, my brain knows that He is in control and will bring something good from this. I will keep you posted on what that turns out to be.

I get a chance to try again next Wednesday when I have another speaking engagement, so please pray for me to have a better experience then.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, and I pray that you and your family will be blessed in the new year.