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.