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Friday, March 28, 2014

Building a Bond for Generations

This is a compilation of notes from a conference session on "Moms and Daughters" but  these are principles I apply in parenting all my children, not just my daughters.

The main thing to take away from this is encouragement.  If you and your daughter clash, or aren't close, or you feel handicapped because you and your own Mother are at odds, do not despair.  That does not have to define the relationship between you and your daughter.  Be prepared to be patient, commit to lots of prayer, and expect teethmarks on your tongue from not saying some things you want to.  But you can have the sweet, intimate, long-lasting bond you hope for and you can begin a legacy that can endure for generations.  I believe with all my heart that you are the "perfect" Mom - for your daughter.  Because you have been chosen by God Himself to parent her and He Himself will equip you in the best way.  I know there are myriads of books out there that tell you "the best way" to parent but I think that the best way is the way God leads YOU.  Learn all you can from whomever but ultimately, listen to HIM.  What I am sharing with you are just some things I've learned from my Mom and from my own parenting - take what resonates with you and leave the rest.

Here are the "HELPS" I shared for Moms:

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Kids and Money

Money.  If you ask 1000 people what the Bible has to say about money, I'll bet that 998 of them will say "Money is the root of all evil". 

And they'd be wrong.

The Bible talks more about money than it does about Heaven or Hell.  Or marriage and divorce.  Or lots of other things.  And the main thing we need to know that it says is this The love of money is the root of all sorts of evil ( I Timothy 6:10).  And the rest of the verse warns  It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

So before we figure out what to teach our kids about money, we need to be sure we have the correct info ourselves. Money is neither a sign of our success nor an indication of God's favor -- it is a tool that God wants to use to shape our character.  And the character of our children.  Period.  So use it wisely.

Here are the five things that Paul and I figured we needed to be sure our kids knew about money before they left home (because we wanted to be sure they eventually did leave home......).  And some ideas we use(d) to get the points across.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Parenting - Never Say Never

OK, I'm gonna do it.  I said I would never do it.  But I am.

Blog a series on parenting.


First, why did I say I would never do it?  Lots of reasons but the main ones are

 1)I don't think I have anything to say that hasn't already been said. Plenty of good material out there - why should I of all people add to the noise?
 2) I don't want my kids to feel pressured to some artificial standard of performance.  They are really great kids but they are as human as the rest of us and they are gonna make some mistakes.  Why should they be subject to public scrutiny just b/c their Mom has a big mouth?  and
 3) I'm not done.  Who knows if what I have to say is "effective"?
But I am allowing myself the perennial female perogative of changing my mind. Here are the reasons - 
1) I've shared my opinions in conferences , counseling and casual conversations and have been well received. Although I've heard this stuff before, apparently I predate enough of you for some of it to seem new. 
2) My kids have encouraged me to share whatever I know.... Perhaps because they secretly know its not much at all and hopefully because they know I will strive never to embarrass them but rather to tell alot of dirt on myself. Which will make for alot of laughs for us all
And 3) I've realized I'll never be done. Parenting is forever. The stage just changes

So here it comes. My series on parenting.  I have no idea how many posts I'll have nor what all subjects we'll cover. If you have an idea of something you'd like to dialogue about, please let me know.

Here's some of the suggestions some of you have asked that we touch on -

building sibling relationships
kids and money
creating a family kids want to be a part of
ideas on chores
picky eaters
developing healthy eaters (yes, I will be honest about where I fail!!!)
how to disciple children
passing along your faith
parenting adult children

What else are you interested in?

Parenting Posts Coming

Paul and I had the privilege to speak at a parenting conference this past weekend.  "Modern Family".  Together we talked about "kids and money" and then I did a session on Moms and Daughters.  (This one was a hoot!  I drafted my Mom, my daughter Katie, - and my granddaughter Mary Alice!! to come with me and they brought down the house!)  Over the next few days, I'll share these same ideas with y'all.

Be on the lookout for "5 Things Kids Need to Know about Money"  and "Moms and Daughters - Building a Bond for Generations"

When God says NO.....

Sometimes God says "no".  It is true that lots of times He says yes.  And sometimes what seems to be a "no" is really a "not now - just wait".  But sometimes He says no.  And that's hard.

He gave me a "no" answer recently and it made me sad.  I know the right stuff to say and the right way to respond and all the ways I'm supposed to feel.  But I was sad.  As I processed it, I thought about the different ways we can respond when He says no.
I don't know how you respond to His no's.  I'd like to know what you do.  I know there are as many different options as there are people.  But there do seem to be general categories that the bulk of reactions fall into. 

1) The refusal
2) The tantrum
3) The withdrawal

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

In coming posts.....

Thank you for your feedback!  Some of the topics you mentioned will show up over the next several weeks.  Suggestions included parenting, homeschooling, being a good in law, discipline tips, more recipes, frugality, and organization.  I will share my own ideas and experiences as well as  some  websites to recommend.

To start us off, I want to pass along a site for homeschooling families that has been so helpful to me.  Fast Transcipts has been an excellent resource for grades and transcript preparation.  It is extremely reasonable and has provided invaluable support for me.  Here's the link :

This company also provides a service for maintaining and reporting attendance reports. Homeschool Compliance.  It has saved me much time and avoided much worry!  Please check it out -

And, when you do, tell Scott I sent you :)


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Something God says about parenting.....

I'm pretty reluctant to give parenting advice.  For one thing, I'm not done yet!  Even though my primary contributing author role has passed in a couple of my Living Letters, the ink is far from dry on the others. By God's grace, things look pretty good so far, but I'll not ever consider myself a parenting expert.  It's just way too hard and way too complicated for me to glibly pass along many "how to" tidbits for Moms.

But I do have some encouragement to share.  From the one from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  Just take a look at what our Heavenly Father promises to do for us in Exodus 20....

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A litle help, please

I'd like to hear what you want to read about.  Most of the time I just write "stream of consciousness", whatever my heart is beating about at the moment. But I'm sort of stuck in the desert of no ideas so I'd like to know what you readers are interested in - life tips, parenting, faith-walk, friendships, ??? 

Let me hear - either via FB or comment.  Please :)

Thanks, friends!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

To the mommies

I watched from a distance in the grocery store aisle. Young Mommy, two littles in tow and one was pitching a fit.  My heart ached for her.  I so wanted to help but figured she didn't need the  intrusion.  She was having a hard time but trying even harder to keep her composure.  I knew the feeling. 

What tugged at my heart the most was the response of other shoppers.  Made me mad is a better description, actually.  The stares that seemed to telegraph disapproval.  The whispers and head shakes.  The lips pressed tightly together in a self-righteous smirk.  I time-travelled back down memory lane to times it had happened to me.  One instance in particular stood out.

Three kids, just moved, parents on overload, trying to get us settled, make friends, and fill up everybody's internal cup.  Not doing so well.  The littlest little was having a meltdown.  Publicly.  Of course!  The big sisters were embarrassed.  So was their mom.  I was trying to appear poised and in control of the situation, all the while trying to figure out what to do.  Whispering things that began calmly but escalated to threats in proportion to the stares and comments. The "advice" that drove me to later shed tears was the "the boy needs a spanking and you should take care of that right now".

  I started to shake.

Maybe she was right.  Maybe what he needed was some strong discipline.  Maybe I had coddled my only boy too much.  Maybe every single thing wrong with him AND his sisters was inextricably tied to my inept parenting. She certainly seemed to know what she was talking about and, in my insecurity, I decided she was right. In fact, those suggestions and more still keep me up at night from time to time.

But that time I saw something different than the more seasoned parent who freely handed out unsolicited advice.  Instead of a defiant kid yelling "no" at his Mom and screaming at the top of his (expansive) lungs, I saw a scared two year old.  A kid that thrives on order and control and security but whose little life had been in upheaval for 3 months while his parents changed jobs and houses and all things familiar.  A little boy who needed an undistracted Mommy that wasn't unpacking boxes and a hardworking Daddy that  could be home during waking hours. And hugs of reassurance.  And time to play instead of to run errands.Although it's true that I couldn't deny the scene before me, my interpretation was different than hers. What was happening right then was insecurity, not  insubordination. 

I wish I could tell you that I had enough confidence in my parenting ability to trust my gut.

I didn't.

And  seeing that Mommy squirm under the deprecating stares of the other shoppers, I remembered that feeling.  I wished that somehow I could infuse confidence and grace and security into her heart.  I hoped she could possess clairvoyance if only for a moment so I could tell her these thoughts.  Trust your gut.  This display of emotion does not have to define your kid. Or your parenting.  There's certainly a place for discipline and correction and I am not saying to give in to your kid.  I am saying, though, to give in to your gut.  Not your cronies.

And the sun stood still

I've had this post on my heart for quite some time but I've been hesitant to share it.  Not because I don't completely believe every word.  Not at all.  But I fear that some extrapolations of it might cause someone to feel condemnation or defeat.  Where there is none.  So, if you've made a different decision than the one urged in this post, please don't think I am judging you or denouncing you.  This post is meant to encourage those still in the fight.  To give hope and strength.  Please know that.

Sometimes marriage doesn't turn out like the fairytales promise.  (Make that "never" instead of "sometimes"...)  Sometimes things get really bad and feelings of desperation set in.  I've seen it happen hundreds of times.  Then feelings of regretted decisions follow.  As in "I never should have married him"  etc.  There may be times where those regrets are legitimate. But don't let the wrong action make it worse. The consequential decisions have critical repercussions and the fallout is forever.  Good and bad.  Forever.

If you're in a marriage that you think never should have happened, and if you are thinking about calling it quits, I ask that you wait.  And read this passage from Joshua 10 -

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Please take survey!

I need your help!  I'm working on some info about relationships (which I will use for a post eventually) and I want to hear from you.  It's about what wives wish husbands knew.  Please take this survey and let me know what you think!

If you can't get the survey to work, please let me know and then just private message me on facebook with any info you'd like to share.

I really want your input so please help me out!



She sat at my kitchen table, tears pooling in her big brown eyes, and then silently slipping into the Diet Coke she was trying to choke down.  Her heart was broken. I cried with her. 

Her story felt unique to her, but sadly, I knew it wasn't.  The refrain of "I can't believe this happened to me.  I know better" has been sung too many times before. Ignoring the signs that warn "danger".  Climbing over the rails put there to protect. Lingering long in the dwelling place of snakes can eventually lead to snakebite.

I live in a college town and I've watched this scene way more times than I'd like to say.  Sweet kid leaves home.  Seems to "have it all together".  But underneath that smiling exterior is a heart that leaps at this chance to "be free".  A heart that sees the restrictions and rules as unnecessary for the wanna-be adult inside. A heart that disbelieves that the warning signs and guardrails are protective but rather a barrier to fun.

So the migration begins.  Little things, at first.  Things that seem to be "personal preference", nothing that seems consequential.  Choice of friends.  Of places to be.  Appearance.  Activities.  It feels so fun and feels far from harmful.

Then stuff happens.  Things never planned or desired.  Things that cannot be undone.  And often, there comes a scene at somebody's kitchen table, in tears and disbelief.

Things can be repaired, though.  And I told her that.  We talked about new beginnings and forgiveness and restoration.  To address her amazement that "this" had happened to her, I gently pointed out that if you poke around a lot in the habitat of snakes, you're probably gonna get bitten.

If you've gotten bitten, I want you to know with all my heart that there is a chance to begin again.  There is grace enough to cover all mistakes of every kind.  And there can be beauty from ashes, mourning can be turned into joy.  It's gonna take some work and some time but I've seen it happen.  I know that it can happen for you.

But please listen to this next line:
If you're not yet bitten but you are frequenting places where snakebites happen, I beg you to pull away.  Guardrails are there for protection, not to prevent fun.  What you look at, listen to, and long for matters.  Who you have fun with matters.  It all matters.  And if you disregard the guardrails and the signs of warning and remain in the territory of snakebites.....

Whether you're in college or long past it.

After she left my table, I spilled tears into my own Diet Coke.  For her.  Not so much for what's happened but mostly because she didn't seem convinced that the guardrails are necessary.  I fear she won't stay away from the terrain of the snakes.  First bites are bad enough but it's really really really hard to recover from subsequent ones.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

I just didn't see you......

Tires screeched.  The other car's horn blared loudly...and long.  I won't soon forget the near mishap.  I came within a millisecond of turning right in front of this car.  I nearly had to pull over and pull myself together but I didn't want to further alarm the kids in the car with me.  My heart was beating out of my chest and my hands were shaking violently.  I knew what had almost happened.

It wasn't that I was being careless or taking unwise risks.  Not at all. I am a careful, rather cautious driver.  (Getting caught by the cop hiding out in the cemetery on Simonton Bridge Road will do that to ya.  Just so you know.) I just didn't see them.....