Sunday, April 30, 2006

Here's the church, here's the steeple, open the doors . . .

I usually have a limited amount of time for Bible Study and prayer on Sunday mornings. This personal time is limited as I hurry to get out the door (with my family) to connect with other believers at our local church.

For the past ten years, my family has volunteered in our children's department every week. My creative husband writes the curriculum and the team members (which I am one of) "act out" the Bible stories and additional application skits that will make the Bible come alive for young kids. (Yes, I actually dress up in Bible costumes or get on my knees with a baseball cap . . . or even crazier get ups! And now that my kids are older, they do too.)

Before this, I also attend Sunday School with other like-minded adults. As iron-sharpens-iron it's a good time to share God's Word and share how God is speaking and working it our lives.

When writing Generation NeXt Parenting, one thing I discovered is that Gen Xers, in general, are more interested in spiritual matters than the generations before us. (Maybe it's because we grew up with all those horror movies that contrast good and evil so well!)

Unfortunately, this interest for spirituality, doesn't relate to an increase of church attendance among our age group. Here's a stat I found:

According to George Barna, only 28 percent of Gen Xers (ages 20-37) attend church compared to 51 percent of Builders (58+). Yet, according to a Special 2001 edition of Newsweek, “Eighty-one percent of Gen X mothers and 78 percent of fathers say they plan eventually to send their young child to Sunday school or some other kind of religious training.”

Hmm . . . something doesn't seem to compute. Personally, I think the reason is that Gen Xers don't want to play games. We highly spiritual, yes, but we're also self-reliant. We’re skeptical, yet what we do believe we want to apply to everyday life. We’re realistic, not idealistic. Our faith has to be truly lived-out, or we don’t buy into it. (And to be truthful, sometimes we wonder how the church rituals do apply to everyday life . . .)

I also believe that those who don't attend church are missing out on community and personal growth. Many are so focused on "getting their needs met" that they forget they are simply one small part of God's body--someone who has a role and a duty like everyone else.

Of course, I have to admit that I've personally struggled with this issue from time to time. And I'm not alone. This morning, I read this in my Bible Study book:

When C.S. Lewis became a Christian, he initially resisted being a part of a church. For example, he disliked the hymns, which he regarded as "fifth-rate poems." Eventually, however, Lewis began to understand that the church is not a human organization but the "Body of Christ where people share the common life, complementing and helping one another precisely by their differences." This happens as we submit to God, trusting that we really do need these odd people, and (gulp) submit to them as well. --Jan Johnson, Community and Submission Bible Study, p. 18

Finally, I'll end with this last quote, also from Johnson's book:

Innumerable times a whole Christian communiy has broken down because it had sprung from a wish dream . . . He who loves his dream of community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial." -- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Wow. Are there times when I love my "dream" of community more than the Christian community itself? That's a good question.

Of course, the reality will never live up to any dream in our heads of what church "should be like." After all, community is made up of people, and people will always disappoint me--just as surely as I will oftentimes disappoint them.

Still, I'm glad to be going, to be a part. To connect with the lives of others and have them do the same.

So, what about you? Are you involved in a local church? Why or why not?

And if you are . . . how do you think this benefits your family, your kids?

Friday, April 28, 2006

Guest Blogger--Amanda K. Coughlin

Okay, I usually don't have guest bloggers two days in a row, but I had to share a special one. Amanda is one of the AMAZING moms who helped me with Life Interrupted: The Scooping on Being a Young Mom.

I'm so excited for her! And I think you will be too . . .

Open Doors, by Amanda Coughlin

If you worry enough and pray enough, I guess things turn out in the end. I have been in the process of applying to the Faculty of Education in Ontario for the past year. My Fall term grades were a huge disappointment, and I was just about ready to toss in the towel. Thankfully, God had something else in mind.

A few weeks ago, I received my first letter of acceptance from Lakehead University in Thunderbay. A bit of a hike (read 15-hour drive), but we were ready to do it. We were so ready in fact, that when we received news that I had also been accepted at the University of Western Ontario we were shocked.

Don't get me wrong, we were grateful. Western is the most coveted and thus hardest school to get into though, and with my grades we were not expecting it at all. After analysing the situation, (I can't just accept the fact) I realized that I had done everything they had asked me to do. I had gotten at least a half credit in each of the five areas they look at. I had maintained the average they wanted me to, and besides that I have an experience profile that would make anyone want me to teach their children. They didn't care about my grades because I had done what they wanted me to do before applying.

That being said, I now had to look at the options. God knew that I had always wanted to go up north and live closer to nature than the city allows. God also knew I wanted to be close to my family for 'just in case' situations and support. God allowed ME to make the choice. There were so many people praying for me to get into a great school that God couldn't help but hear. When your dreams happen to follow the path God had in mind, God opens the doors through which you need to travel.

--Amanda K. Coughlin BA Archaeology and History (English Minor)
Wilfrid Laurier University 2006 and on to University of Western Ontario, Althouse Faculty of Education!

(Not to mention very proud mother of 3 year old son who joined the family January of her second year in university.)

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Choose Wisely--Guest Blogger Amy Wallace

On my screen saver are these words . . .

"Remember. Only One Thing is necessary. Choose wisely."

Some of these words came from a fairytale I'd written for my three daughters. Others from a youth Bible study I led last year about Luke 10:42 where Jesus shares how Mary had chosen well in spending time with Him and listening to His words. The verse says, “But only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.

"The “choose wisely” part came from the fairytale. In the scene below the king is throwing a party for his daughters to celebrate their entrance into adulthood. Many in the kingdom desire to win their affection. But there is one whose desire is not for their affection. It is for their destruction. Much like our lives. We have an enemy who seeks to destroy us. We also have a Father who calls us to remember.

"Then one suitor, draped in a jeweled cloak, captured his daughters’ attentions. As the man told stories of his adventures and enchanting far-away places, the King watched the princesses’ excitement grow. When the stranger departed, King Adonai spoke to Shiri first, then Teshi and Apolline. He whispered his heart’s cry in their ears. ‘Remember that I love you. Choose wisely.’”

This is what God continues to teach me in so many ways.

To remember.

To choose wisely.

The most important choice I’m learning to make is running to my First Love. Through time alone my eyes have been opened to the desperate hunger I have tried to fill with other people and things. Good things. Gifts from God. My husband, my children, writing, friends. But when God is calling me to Himself, these good things can stand in the way of the Best. These gifts are also only good when they come from God’s hand and not my striving.

I’ve seen that it’s only when my relationship with my First Love is right, that all other loves are safe. Only One Thing is necessary. I’m learning to choose Him above all else.

Another thing the Lord is teaching me is to choose love over lust. Lust destroys. Love builds. Love values people and shows respect. Love listens to the heart. Love waits. Lust, on the other hand, demands satisfaction now.It’s not just our children or youth and singles that need to learn the difference either. Married people need this too. Sex is a gift, not a Band-Aid. When we use it as a place to run to make us feel better, it’s lust. It’s filling a need~ not by running to the Lord~ but with something else. That’s idolatry. Choose wisely.

God truly can meet emotional needs as well as physical longing. He is enough. He is love.

I’m also learning to run to God instead of choosing anger. I love my girls so much. Even so, taking care of three children all day, every day is exhausting. I’ve found my temper short and mind too busy to deal with why. But God is showing me I need to run to Him in the midst of daily "crises" and let Him be my strength, my gentle words, and my loving instruction.

He’s also teaching me to choose forgiveness. Instead of hiding behind anger or hurts, licking my wounds, God reminds me of my need for forgiveness. When I look in the mirror and see no one else is to blame for my reactions, I see how much I need to accept His forgiveness. And in turn, forgive others. That opens the door to restoration and reconciliation.

I don’t choose the daily struggles with my daughters' whining or the other myriad "issues" that we parents have to face. I don't choose the hurts that are inevitable in this journey called life. But I am learning that making wise choices, wherever I am, matters.

Life is about choices.

Anger or grace?

Lust or love?

Hate or forgiveness?

Idols or your First Love?

Remember. Only One Thing is needed.How will you choose?

Enjoy a taste of heart chocolate at Amy’s Website

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Breaking the Chains, (Dokken)

Tricia’s Tips that Work: Household Helps

Once upon a time, I could look around my house and see that I had everything “done.” The washer and dryer where empty. Dinner was in the oven. Even my piles of photos had been labeled and organized into albums.

You may think this is a fairy tale, but it’s not. It WAS during a time when my kids were younger, I was home all day (no car, no chance to leave the house), and no writing contracts.

I’m a perfectionist at heart . . . but you’d never know it by seeing my house these days. I’m not joking when I say that my mail is now a foot high on my desk, my suitcase has yet to be unpacked from my last trip, and my refrigerator hasn’t been cleaned out since the last full moon.

With three kids to homeschool and four books to write in the next 1 ½ years, I could just throw up my hands and hide my head under my bed (amidst the dust bunnies). Instead, I discovered a cool site called

Now, I have to admit that friends have been talking about FlyLady for years, but it was only recently that I realized the value for me.

One of my favorite things about FlyLady is the slogan on the top of every email. “You are not behind.” Another favorite thing is that she cuts up cleaning and organization into bite-size pieces. So whether you’re like me, a perfectionist at heart—or someone unlike me who doesn’t know where to start—you get a sense of accomplishment.

(Also, currently there are 298709 subscribers. Can that may people be wrong?)

Go to and sign up for her email reminders. Guilt-free home management is a GOOD thing, believe me!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A Daddy Who Loves Me--Sharon Jaynes, Guest Blogger

“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters” (2 Corinthians 6:18 NIV).

One of my favorite retreat topics is from my book, Dreams of a Woman – God’s Plans for Fulfilling Your Dreams.

In this book I talk about five dreams every little girl has: to have a daddy who loves me, to be a bride, to be a mommy, to be beautiful, and to have a best friend. In talking to women all across the country, I have seen eyes fill with tears when I talk about the dream of having a daddy who loves me. But the tears are not for me, they reveal the longing in their own hearts.

Butterfly Kisses, a song by Bob Carlisle that climbed the charts in the year 2000, received international recognition in both the Christian and secular music industries. The song was about the tender love between a father and his daughter, starting from her birth to her wedding day.

Mr. Carlisle said, “I get a lot of mail from young girls who try to get me to marry their moms. That used to be a real chuckle because it’s so cute, but then I realized they didn’t want romance for mom. They want the father that is in that song, and that just kills me.”

Our modern society has downplayed the importance of fathers over the past forty years, but all the feminist rhetoric has not erased the deep seated need that women have tucked in the recesses of their hearts – to be fathered by the father of their dreams. Little girls and grown women alike want a daddy to protect them, help them, guide them, nurture them, and cheer them on through the struggles of life.

In the Old Testament, God has many names.
He is...
Elohim – the Creator
El Elyon – God Most High
El Roi – the God who sees
El Shaddai – the All-Sufficient One
Adonai – the Lord, Jehovah – the Self-Existent One
Jehovah-Jireh –the Lord Will Provide
Jehovah – Rapha – the Lord that heals
Jehovah—Shalom – the Lord is peace
Jehovah-Raah – the Lord my Shepherd

His covenant name with the people of Israel was I AM. “He is: and it is because He is what He is that everything else is as it is.”

In the New Testament, Jesus introduced a new name for God – Father. It is the name that Jesus referred to more than any other and the name that He invites us to use to address the Creator of the Universe.

Just stop and think about that for a moment. The God of the universe who created the heavens and the earth, who always has been and always will be, who is all-knowing, all powerful, and present everywhere at once – that same God invites you to call Him - Daddy!

When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, He said:

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This, then, is how you should pray:‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name….’ (Matthews 6:6-9 NIV)

.J. I. Packer, in his book Knowing God wrote: “For everything that Christ taught, everything that makes the New Testament new and better than the Old, everything that is distinctly Christian as opposed to merely Jewish, is summed up in the knowledge of the fatherhood of God."

All other religions demand followers to worship created beings (Mohammad, Buddha), but Jehovah the Creator, the great I AM, invites us to crawl up in His lap, become His child, and call Him Abba, Daddy. He said, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters” (2 Corinthians 6:18NIV).

Today, ponder the fact that God is your Daddy. Enjoy His love, embrace His presence, and engage in communion with the One who loves you most.

For more information about Sharon, go to her website.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Wild Thing (Tone Loc)

I had the opportunity recently to attend the Mt. Hermon Writer’s Conference in California. One of my fun friends I hung out with was fellow Gen X mom and writer Sarah Sumpolec. The funny thing about us being together is that we could relate to so much. Our constant need for approval. Our TONS of writing ideas. The books/speakers/music we like. Our core values—especially family values.

Ever since I started writing Generation NeXt Parenting, I’ve become fascinated with our generation and how we process life. And I love talking about “us” with others like us.

The crazy thing is that no one else seems to understand . . . or even cares to. When people ask about my book, I usually get two responses. 85% of them get a glazed look in their eyes and quickly change the topic. The other 15% are Gen Xers (or those who love us). They start asking questions and get excited about the book. Gen X parents can’t wait for it to hit the shelves, and the rest of the world is scratching it’s head, trying to remember what a GenX is.

A recent article in The Washington Post talked about interest in Gen Xers being non-existent.

The article is:
Wild Generalization X--In Details, a Hilarious Screed on Turning 40 and Not Loving It

Here’s a quote: (which is actually quoting another author, concerning another article about our nonexistence . . .)
"While the boomers and the millennials have been out gulping up all of that mass-media oxygen, somebody seems to have forgotten to put together the Newsweek cover story about Generation X on the brink of turning 40," Gordinier grumbles. "Could it be that the age group that popularized the phrase jumped the shark has done just that? . . . Is Generation X already obsolete?"

Oh, and here is another one:
Generation Xers nurse hurt feelings for media slights

Does this type of stuff interest you as much as it does me? If so:

1. Read the article and let me know your opinion.

2. Spread the word about Gen Xers and this blog. We are important. And our place in history should not be overlooked. We are training up the men and women of the future, for God, what can be more important or noteworthy than that?

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Tales of Teen Employees

Last week, I took my youngest son out to breakfast. Sure, I was hungry, but the main reason was I wanted to check out the thirteen-year-old dishwasher and busser--my daughter Leslie.

I tried to be sly as I watched her interact with the cook and waitress. (She works ten hours a week in a small cafe with an open kitchen, run by a Christian lady.) Leslie scrubbed harder on those pots and pans than I've ever seen her at home.

Then again, Mom doesn't pay $6 an hour plus a share of the tips.

I've also increased my visits to Target by 223%. In fact, I felt slightly bad as I bypassed an open checker, making my way to the tall and handsome sixteen-year-old on aisle 7.

Cory, my oldest son, also started work this week. With their flexible homeschooling schedule they both decided to get a jump on the rush to finding summer employment.

Leslie's saving her money to buy her first car (and that topic deserves a blog of its own). Cory's saving up for a YoungLife camp in June. And their Mom is storing up smiles, realizing that I did something right, and they're entering the busines-world with a good work ethic, confidence, and people skills.

With my two oldest kids both starting jobs this last week, it has me think about the difference in which Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millenials work.

Amazingly, I discovered an article As new generation grows, employers seek its groove that discusses this very issue.

There is a lot of good information in this article, and here is a basic summary of the differences we see in generations:

The post-World War II generation came into the workplace believing the path to success lay in hard work and long-term employment with the same company.

Generation X grew up during changing times, and many of its members saw their parents work hard, divorce and lose jobs to downsizing, Wendover said. As a consequence, they have less loyalty to the corporate world, are more likely to switch jobs and are less receptive to working long hours.

"They say, 'That is not going to happen to me,"' Wendover said. "They say, 'I can get this work done in a shorter amount of time and spend more time with my friends and family."'

The Millennials have a similar attitude about work. But they have grown up in a society that places a greater emphasis on children than any before it. And more of them are coming of age without the hard times, and hands-on experience, that helped build resourcefulness in earlier generations, Wendover said.

I can see this resourcefulness in my kids, but I'm also aware of my own weaknesses as a parent. (Writing Generation NeXt Parenting has helped me discover quite a few these.) My biggest struggle is trusting that I've done my job well, and that my kids can take this step on their own.

In the same article, this was noted:

This generation's parents [Gen Xers] have earned the label "helicopter parents, because they hover," said Raines. "... Supervisors are telling me all the time that parents are calling and saying, 'Why didn't John get a raise this time?"'

So, I suppose that while visiting my kids at work is okay once in a while, it shouldn't be too common an occurance. I'm okay with that, though. For I know God is there, with them, even when I can't be. And that gives me peace . . . and maintains my proud smile.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Blank Stares...

I can’t tell you the number of blank stares that I receive when people ask about my writing and I tell them about my book for Gen X Parents. Gen X? Huh? Even some Gen Xers I’ve talked to don’t realize that’s what they are. And for good reason. According to Kathy Fredrickson’s column Generation X overlooked by marketers:

Gen Xers are easily overlooked because of sheer numbers. “There are about 44.9 million Gen Xers, compared with 77.4 million baby boomers and 70.7 million Gen Yers,” Fredrickson writes. “Gen X should be called the sandwich generation, outnumbered four to one by those younger and older.”

Fredrickson’s column is written for those who want to market to Gen Xers, and this is what she notes about our generation:

“For those who want to connect with Gen X in an honest manner, creating a message around their values is a good place to start. Here are a few examples:

“Time is money: To a boomer, money means power. The more you work, the more you make. For Gen X, time is money. The more time you have to spend with friends and family, the richer you feel.

“A career is a journey: Many of the jobs to be had for Gen X college graduates in the late 1980s and early 1990s were in small business. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive in Gen Xers who have taken control of their own destiny by defining success on their own terms. Marketers should highlight and honor the creative decisions Gen Xers have made with regard to their careers.

“Low-budget luxe: A Gen Xer purchases a leather couch on close-out and is proud to tell everyone who stops by their home. A boomer finds more satisfaction in knowing they can afford a luxury item like a leather couch. One generation is focused on getting a great deal, the other values the prestige associated with having money to spend.”

Tricia here:
I had to laugh at this last one! I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve received a compliment on a sweater or pair of shoes only to tell the person how I snagged it off the 90% off rack. Gee, come to speak of it, I got my leather couch on sale too . . .

Yup, this marketer has it right. To me a good value is saving money of things and spending time of friends and family. In fact, that is one reason I love writing this blog . . . I feel rich interacting with my fellow Gen Xers. I love reading your comments and hearing what’s on your heart.

(Oh, yeah, and blogging is free. What a double deal!)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Adventures in Parenting by Jennifer Tiszai--Guest Blogger

Welcome today's guest blogger, Jennifer Tiszai! You can find more information about Jennifer at:

Her website.
Her blog.

Adventures in Parenting by Jennifer Tiszai

I love the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes. This year for Christmas my husband made a major sacrifice and bought me the complete three-book collection. I guess God also knew how much I enjoyed Calvin and Hobbes because he sent me my own little “Calvin” in the form of my four-year-old son. My Calvin creates adventures out of everyday life, much like his comic counterpart. He’s tried to burn the house down making toast. He turned the nativity scene into a battle against the bad guys (which actually isn’t a bad interpretation). But mostly he provides a lot of laughter and causes me to stretch beyond myself and rely on God on a regular basis.

One day, however, my little “Calvin” had to put up with an adventure of my creating.

We had gone to the library to pick up a book and were getting back into the minivan. I buckle my son in, toss all my stuff on the front seat, and close the door. I go around to get in my side.

The door is locked.

Through the window I can see all the doors are locked, but I still pull on the door handle like somehow reality will change. I can see the keys sitting on the driver’s seat, along with my purse and cell phone.

I know my son can unlock the doors. Except he’s strapped in his car seat. However, childproof things have never deterred him before. I tell him how to get himself out of his seat, wondering if I’ll regret this in the future. “Just push that red button.” He pokes at it. Then he pushes harder, but he just doesn’t have the strength to get it. We try seeing if he can unbuckle the car seatbelt and free the car seat, but he can’t reach it.

I can’t help but think how things were different when I was a kid. We had a van, but I don’t ever remember locking the doors on it. We certainly didn’t have child seats. In fact, we’d remove the back seats, spread out sleeping bags, and play in the back when we drove for any length of time. It would have been impossible to get locked inside.

I realize I’m going to have to call and get help. But my phone’s in the car, too, so I have to leave him to go back into the library. It goes against every instinct to leave my son alone in a car while I go inside. But, I think, if someone can break into the car to steal it (and who wants a 1998 minivan with 180,000 miles on it?) I could at least get my son out. So I hurry inside to find a pay phone. Apparently pay phones don’t exist anymore. I finally ask the librarian.

She laughs. “Oh, I don’t think it works.”

Not funny. “I need a phone. I’ve locked my keys in the car with my son. I need to call somebody.”

“Oh, I guess you can use this then.” She moves her desk phone toward me.

I can’t believe she’s not shocked or astounded. Do people routinely lock their children in the car while they’re at the library? I call my husband, Peter, who luckily is at the office. He tells me to call AAA. I patiently explain that my phone and purse—with my AAA card—are in the van. Now, in the interest of full disclosure here, Peter has locked himself out of the van more times than I can count, to the point that he carries a spare key in his wallet. Said spare key was what I wanted him to bring to me. We won’t mention the fact that I think that is the only spare key since I lost his whole set of keys by leaving them on the bumper of the Expedition and driving off. Never did find those things.

I walk back to the van where I hope my son isn’t a sobbing hysterical mess. He’s frowning, but I think that’s because he dropped his sucker.

So I lean my head against this really dirty window—when was the last time Peter washed this thing anyway?—and talk to him. People driving through the parking lot stare at me. What is this crazy woman doing talking to a car? A police officer drives by. I watch him, half hoping he’ll stop. He doesn’t. I tell my son to go to sleep, and for once in his life, he minds me.

I’m really thankful it’s only the upper 60s and not the 112 it can get here in Arizona. I start thinking which window would be the cheapest to replace and look around for a big rock. Nothing. If it were 112, I have no idea what I could use to break the window. Well, he is asleep, Peter should be on his way, and other than people thinking I’m nuts, there isn’t any problem with waiting for him to get here.

After about 25 minutes a tow truck pulls into the parking lot. It takes me a minute to realize my husband has called AAA for me. Hmmph. Here I was looking for him, and he sent a tow truck instead.

They guy gets out with all his equipment. Then he sees my son. “Hey, if we’d known there was a kid in the car we would have gotten here in five minutes. Why didn’t you tell us?”

“I actually didn’t call. I’m guessing my husband did.”

The guy gets his equipment out and starts prying open the door with this little inflatable device. Very cool, though frankly I don’t care if he rips the door off.

Then a white construction truck pulls in. Peter.

“That’s my husband,” I tell the tow truck guy.

“Does he have a spare key?”

“I don’t know.” Because at this point, I really don’t. It might have been on that set that somehow got left on the bumper of the other car.

“I might.” Peter has a keychain that weighs more than our children. But somehow he pulls the right key out the first time. The door opens. My son wakes up. The tow truck guy packs up his stuff.

I think I’m going to throw up. And I thank God that even though more than one of us in this family manages to turn daily life into an adventure, He still writes the ending.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I Choose Faithfulness...

A few days ago I came across this quote by Max Lucado:

“I choose faithfulness . . . Today I will keep my promises. My debtors will not regret their trust. My associates will not question my word. My wife will not question my love. And my children will never fear that their father will not come home.”

It made me think of some of my daily choices. Who do I choose to be faithful to today?

Like Lucado, I choose to be faithful to my husband, my children, my friends, and those I work with. I choose to be faithful to my extended family members, my readers, and church body.

But I also realize that choosing faithfulness is an action. I choose by making daily decisions and following through . . . no matter how hard it is.

I choose through my open arms and my smile. I choose by my honoring thoughts and words. I choose by putting others’ needs above my own. And it’s really, really hard!

In fact, I’ve discovered that the only way I can be faithful is to be filled with Christ. When I take time in the morning to pray, to listen, to worship, and to read God’s Word, then I get filled up. Christ’s faithfulness fills me and flows out.

If I try really, really hard, I can be faithful 10% of the time (if I’m lucky). When I fill myself up with God, He works in ways that exhibit faithfulness in all areas of my life. I am blessed as He works, and so are those who satellite my world.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

TWO PLACES AT ONCE--Guest Blogger Jeanette Hanscome

I’d like to introduce today’s guest blogger Jeanette Hanscome. Jeanette is a friend I met at Mt. Hermon Writer’s Conference. She’s also a great writer, publishing three books for Focus on the Family. Check out her website.

Also check out the It’s Real Life blog for her second post. I’m sure you can relate with the balancing act no matter what tugs for your attention!

By Jeanette Hanscome

In the movie A Walk to Remember Jamie shows Landon a list of things that she has always secretly wanted to do. One is to be in two places at once. So one night Landon drives Jamie to the state line. He instructs her to stand with one foot on each side of the white line separating their home state from the next.

“There,” he says, once Jamie is straddling the line. “You’re in two places at once.”

It’s a great scene!

As a busy mom (of a preschooler and a teenager), wife and writer, who also works part time outside the home and serves at church, I often wish that I could be in two places at once. I’ll confess that, in my mind, I often am in two places. Friday, while overseeing the nap room at the after-school program where I work, I outlined my latest devotional assignment. If my director knew how often my mind is on a writing project instead of the kids, she might fire me.

While reading a bedtime story to my son Nathan, my mind wonders to the next-day’s to-do list, or dishes that need to be done once he goes to sleep. If my older son Christian asks to watch a movie, rarely do I just sit and enjoy it with him. I’m folding laundry, sorting coupons, painting my nails. I am notorious for taking my laptop on vacation so I can work during spare time.

A couple of months ago I almost burned the house down by trying to be in two places at once. I was scrambling to meet a deadline and decided to get a jump-start on dinner. After bringing some rice to a boil, I put the lid on then scurried back to the office without lowering the temperature on the stove. A half hour later the house was filled with smoke, my one and only medium-sized sauce pan scorched beyond repair. I vowed that day to stop multi-tasking—to focus on one thing at a time. My vow lasted about half a day.

As I juggle the responsibilities of family, home, and work, I actually beat myself up on occasion, for not being able to take on more. It’s easy to blame my perpetual overload on the “do-it-all” generation that I was born into, or the fact that growing up with low vision turned me into a bit of an overachiever. I’ll admit it gives me great pleasure to surpass the low expectations of my childhood teachers, or to do more than some normally-sighted people. It’s really pretty silly when I think about it. I mean who am I trying to impress?

Lately I have recognized how much I miss when I am constantly in two places at once. Distraction blocks my ability to have fun, or to truly appreciate God’s blessings. My kids and my husband get half my attention. Tasks and assignments get done half as well. Even time with God is an effort, as I try to pray and plan my day at the same time.

And what am I teaching my kids? Will they learn to enjoy the moment? Scarier still, will they doubt their value in my eyes, as they think back to all the times when I was physically present but not really “there?”

Maybe the idea of being in two places at once is overrated. I think I’m learning though.

Yesterday I accompanied Nathan to a birthday party for one of his “girlfriends” from preschool. It was held at Jump Man Jump, a place where the kids spend an hour and a half running from one bounce house and inflatable slide to another. I woke up wishing that I could leave him at the party and go home to get some things done. But I’d ridden with a friend who planned to stay, so I had to stay too.

Instead of slapping on my Happy Birthday face while privately fretting over cleaning and laundry that needed to get done, I put all that stuff out of my mind, silenced the guilt trip voice, and joined the party. I followed Nathan up the soft steps of a giant bouncy slide, plopped down beside him, grabbed his hand, and sailed down, screaming as if I was also four, instead of . . . the age that I am. I enjoyed every moment of the party. It felt great to be 100% there, proving to Nathan that Mommy has not forgotten how to play.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Millennial Generation ready to take on world . . .

Today, I took my thirteen-year-old daughter to an interview for a part-time job, working a few hours a week bussing tables at a local café. Leslie is confident, bright, and has big plans for her future. She considers learning new skills and interacting with people a benefit toward her college goals. Before turning in her application, Leslie considered the work environment and was pleased to discover the owner was a Christian who would provide an “uplifting” place for her to work. Wow. When I was thirteen I was too shy to place a Big Mac order at McDonalds!

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of reading on this new generation of youngsters called “Millennials” who were born between 1982 and 2002, and I’ve discovered that the same type of thoughtful and visionary characteristics I see in my own kids are being noted by researchers. And as a group of young people, their future does look bright.

One great article on this topic is "Millennial Generation ready to take on world."

While the whole article is worthy of a read, here are some highlights I picked up on. The following are quotes from Dr. Terri Manning, associate vice president for Institutional Research and the director of the Center for Applied Research at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, N.C.:

• “Millennials are born to parents who are often well-educated and over-involved, who reject phrases such as ‘Because I said so,’ and instead treat their children as friends. There is a strong connection between the social lives of the parents and their children, they share values, and even like the same kinds of music.”

• “[Millennials] are close to their families, accept diversity as a norm, prefer the meaningful to the mundane, and are high achievers with a natural ability for multi-tasking. They can retool and recycle their skills and reinvent themselves for the numerous careers they know they will have in the course of their lifetimes.”

Of course, not everything about this generation is seen as positive. And there are two ways of looking at Millennials:

“They are spoiled rotten brats whose parents give them everything — we mostly hear that from teachers,” Manning said. “But we also hear the Millennial Generation is extremely talented and will bring technology and teamwork skills to the workforce.”

So, what do you think? What pluses and negatives have you witnessed concerning this new generation?

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Electra Woman and Dyna Girl?

My friend Mary DeMuth from RelevantBlog sent me the note below.

Mary said:
I told my children about the weird show Electra Woman and Dyna Girl. We went on the web and found this. For a hilarious laugh, click on "movies" and watch all the three-minute clips. Our favorites?

Dyna Girl Gets a Dose of the Metamorphosis Formula
Electra Woman vs Dyna Girl

Anyone want to join the fan club?

Tricia here:
While the clips were so funny, I unfortunately don't remember Electra Woman and Dyna Girl. (When the series ran I was only five. I was still watching Mr. Rogers.)

Although I think I recognize Electra. Isn't that Deidre Hall from Days of Our Lives? I checked and I was right. I suppose that tells you something about my media choices!

So my question is, do you remember Electra Woman and Dyna Girl?

Saturday, April 15, 2006

"While You Were Sleeping"

This morning I was doing my devotions when this song from Casting Crowns came on. Since tomorrow is Easter, one verse stood out to me. It is in bold below. Then I looked up all the lyrics and they are amazing. I thought I'd share.

Oh little town of Bethlehem
Looks like another silent night
Above your deep and dreamless sleep
A giant star lights up the sky
And while you're lying in the dark
There shines an everlasting light
For the King has left His throne
And is sleeping in a manger tonight

Oh Bethlehem, what you have missed while you were sleeping
For God became a man
And stepped into your world today
Oh Bethlehem, you will go down in history
As a city with no room for its King
While you were sleeping
While you were sleeping

Oh little town of Jerusalem
Looks like another silent night
The Father gave His only Son
The Way, the Truth, the Life had came
But there was no room for Him in the world He came to save

Jerusalem, what you have missed while you were sleeping
The Savior of the world is dying on your cross today
Jerusalem, you will go down in history
As a city with no room for its King
While you were sleeping
While you were sleeping

United States of America
Looks like another silent night
As we're sung to sleep by philosophies
That save the trees and kill the children
And while we're lying in the dark
There's a shout heard 'cross the eastern sky
For the Bridegroom has returned
And has carried His bride away in the night

America, what will we miss while we are sleeping
Will Jesus come again
And leave us slumbering where we lay
America, will we go down in history
As a nation with no room for its King
Will we be sleeping
Will we be sleeping

Parents, let us not sleep when it comes to the things that matter most!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Just Do It

In his book Experiencing God, Henry Blackaby writes: “You need to know what God has on His agenda for your church, community, and nation at this time in history. Then you and your church can adjust your lives to God, so that He can move you into the mainstream of his activity before it is too late.”

As much as I respect and adore the work of Mr. Blackaby (seriously, he’s my FAVORITE Bible teacher—tied with Beth Moore), I’d like to add something to his comment. We also need to know what God has on His agenda for our FAMILY at this time in history. We need to be tuned in to the fact that God has given us our kids, at this generational juncture, for a purpose. And it’s only when we adjust our lives to God that we are open to His activity.

This is the premise of my upcoming book Generation NeXt Parenting: God has placed us as parents in this time in history for His purpose. Is that mind boggling, or what?!

I don’t know about you, but I see “God-at-work” in families all around me. My husband John and I are blessed to be children’s ministry leaders in our local church. Every week, 80+ kids (4-9-year-olds) come and experience God-alive-and-active through our dramatic ministry, but what we do on Sundays does little good unless their parents are following through in making God real in their lives the other 167 hours in the week.

Thankfully, most of the parents I know are following through. They study the Bible with their children. They have praise cds playing in their cars. They pray for the needs in their home, their church, their world. They live lives that exhibit God’s work in their hearts.

If I didn’t travel so much, I’d think that was just happening here in my wonderful little spot of Montana, but that’s not the case. I’ve spotted the same type of families all over. At Disneyworld I saw them bowing their heads over their meal. At MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) conventions I’ve seen moms packed into workshops, soaking in tips and tricks for making a love for God the most important thing in their kids’ lives. On the streets in big cities and small towns I’ve seen teens proudly displaying their faith through catchy slogans on t-shirts, hats, and necklaces. (Of course, I see that with my teens too.)

God is at work in families! He’s placing His stamp on this generation!

Okay, by this time you can see I’m getting a little excited. And you should too. Do you want to become part of the family revival? Then taking Blackaby’s words to heart is a good start.

KNOW what God has on His agenda for your FAMILY at this time in history.
TUNE IN to the fact that God has given us our kids, at this time, for His purpose.
ADJUST your lives to God. Be open to His activity.

If John and I are working at this, and your family is working on it, and families in Kalamazoo, Albuquerque, and Buffalo are working on it, just image what awaits our kids and their future. I can’t wait to find out!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Meet Guest Blogger Rachel Hauck!

Today’s guest blogger is Rachel Hauck.

Rachel’s first novel was published in ’04 and she has three more coming out this year. Go Rachel!

For web site, blog and book news go to:

Rachel's thoughts on perfect parenting . . .
I'm a perfect parent. Gasp! I know, you've been striving for years to be perfect, but to no avail. So how do I get to be a perfect parent?


I don't have children. So, sure I can be a perfect parent - in theory.

Breathe a sigh of relief now. There are no perfect parents. There are no perfect children.

As one who doesn't have children, but has worked in youth ministry for over eighteen years, I know the theories and philosophies of parenting. I see what the Word says about raising children, I just don't have to do it.

My youth pastor husband and I have observed a lot of parenting methods over the years. It's not an easy task. But here are a few pointers I hope will help:

Give yourself a break. You don't have to be perfect, nor raise perfect children.

Teaching them to control their emotions and deal with wrong attitudes will do far more for their character than arguing over time spent in the bathroom, and what time a sixteen-year-old has to be in bed on a school night.

Speaking of ... pick your battles. Is your son's long hair or baggy jeans worth the fight? As kids grow older, they want to express themselves, share their budding values and ideas. Talk to them about these things, but watch arguing or trying to conform them to your opinions. Save your foot-putting-down for moral and character issues like lying, sexuality or being lazy about school work.

Just because you did it, doesn't mean you have to let them. I've heard this philosophy from so many parent, "Well, we did it." And were you right? If you were making out with your boyfriend or girlfriend in the back seat of a car, you can bet your kids will take it one step further.

Remember the Bible tells us discipline is a demonstration of love. The same as hugs and kisses. Giving into your children for everything is not loving them.

The best example of Godly living comes from the parents. You can raise your children in church, but if they don't see Godly principles demonstrated at home, the work of Sunday school and youth group can be negated.

As your children grow older, work with them to make decisions about friends, dating, school, jobs, etc. by sitting down and talking it out. Encourage them to pray and hear from God. Use pro and con lists. Many times the children will bring bargaining chips to the table that will surprise you.

Not all children are the same. The Bible tells us to raise a child in the way he/she should go. Realize the strengths and weaknesses of each child and respond accordingly.

As your children grow older, give them more responsibility and independence. Tie the two together. For example, "If you can't keep your room clean, can't keep a curfew, how do you expect me to give you the keys to the car?"

Remember a fifteen-year-old's mistakes carry less consequences than a twenty-one-year old's mistakes. If you have a difficult teen, maybe letting them "go" a little will help him/her see they aren't as wise as they think.

Every teen has their currency: the phone, time with friends, the internet, respect of others, trust ... Find out what your kid's currency is and work with it.

Ask the Lord for a Scripture for each child. Pray it over them. Speak life and encouragement over your children.

I'll close with this. When Noah was born, his father pronounced over him, "This one will give us relief and comfort from the toil of our hands due to the ground being cursed by the Lord."

While I'm sure Noah's father didn't anticipate a flood, God did use Noah to change the way the world work. In many ways, he was used to bring peace and comfort.

A parent's blessing, especially the blessing of the father, is very powerful. A word of blessing and peace can go a very long way.

May God bless you in your journey of parenting!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Room to Move (Animotion)

My mom lives in California. My brother is in Oregon. My sister-in-law and her family are in Washington and my brother-in-law and his family are in Minnesota. Sound familiar?

According to Trends Report: Population Is On the Move, “This segment exhibits a trait that is common to Generation X—distance and existing family location play a much smaller role in their thinking and they are more likely to move farther away from ‘home’ than any other group.”

Even though most of our family was in California at the time, eleven years ago John and I moved to Montana with our kids. Why? We had friends who lived here who loved it, we wanted to raise our kids in a “family friendly” place, and we felt God calling us to move. It was good enough for us. We didn’t even blink at the fact that we were moving 1,000 miles away, and John didn’t yet have a job!

We also didn’t realize at the time that our move was “common” to Gen Xers. But looking at it now, most of my Gen X friends live hundreds or thousands of miles away from their parents and siblings.

Personally, I think one of the reasons Gen Xers don’t have a problem with living far away from our relatives is our definition of “family.” To us family includes those closest to us, including friends and fellow church members. And maybe this isn’t a bad thing after all . . .

1 Peter 1:22-23 says, “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God” (NIV).

The imperishable seed that Peter is talking about here is our entrance into the “family” of God. When we accept Christ into our hearts, we are birthed into a new family—and that means a LOT of brothers and sisters. Personally, I love my church family. I love seeing their smiling faces on Sunday. I love having dinner with them, trading babysitting, and studying God’s Word together. I love getting to know new members of my family, some of which I’m just meeting. John and I had the opportunity to spend time with one family at our church that moved to the United States eight years ago from China. (Talk about moving long distance!) Through a “Suppers-8” program that connects church members for meals, we had a wonderful lunch at their home recently. And you know what, even though we were (literally) raised on opposite sides of the world, this couple and their teenage daughter felt like “family” right away. We could talk about our faith, and God’s work in our lives, from the moment we sat down to talk.

What about you? You may be blessed to have family living close by. (John’s parents and one brother and his family have since moved to Montana, and I love it!) Or your closest relatives may be your church family. Either way, why don’t you take time today to thank God for the family He’s given you? And then make a point of getting together with those you care about the most . . .

As the “oldies” song goes, “We are Family . . .”

Home from Rainy California!

Hi friends! I'm home from rainy California.

I'll be posting more later today, but I just wanted to let you know I was back home where kids, laundry, and housework was waiting. (I was excited to see the kids!)

Also, before I forget, I wanted to point you to a cool blog by fellow Gen X mom Gina Conroy: Portrait of a Writer... Interrupted

Gina has a wonderful interview with Marilynn Griffith (who talks about writing and life), and I didn't want you to miss out.

More blog to come later, I just want to drop and in say "Hi" before I unpacked. Hmmm . . . I guess you can see what I consider more fun!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Seven Insider Tips for Pioneer Parents—Mary DeMuth

Some of us grew up in stable, Christ-loving homes. Others did not. What happens when people from difficult upbringings want to raise their children in a Christian home? How do we pioneer a new path for our children?

Pioneer Parents are parents who don’t want to duplicate the homes they were raised in. They share many common traits, the most common being fear. They ask themselves questions like:

• Will the hurtful words my parents said to me fly out of my mouth in a moment of anger?

• Will I repeat my parents’ mistakes?

• How will I parent if I’ve had no positive, godly example?

• Why, when I read Christian parenting books, do I feel like the author can’t relate to me?

• How do I protect my children from possible negative influence of my parents without harming their relationship?

As a Pioneer Parent, these questions have swirled around in my paranoid head ever since I birthed my first child. Thirteen years later, sometimes they still haunt me.

How do we break free from harmful parenting patterns? How do we build a Christian foundation in our homes if we’ve had no example? Here are seven tips:

1. Read parenting books with a caveat of grace.
When I first became a mom, I read every Christian parenting book I could find, determined not to repeat my past. I highlighted words until the pages glowed yellow. Instead, with every book I read, I berated myself for not being a perfect Christian mother. Instead of letting the words encourage me to improve my parenting, I would shun myself for not parenting correctly. I didn’t offer myself grace.

Eventually, I learned to see the books as kindly companions instead of angry Pharisees, pointing out my failures. I had to remind myself to be gentler toward me—a sinner in need of grace—and understand afresh that God delighted in me, sang over me. He was not watching me read parenting books and mumbling, “Well, I sure hope she bucks up and parents better after reading this.” No, God, as I’ve had to learn, comes alongside me, cheering me when I fail, and giving me confidence as a parent.

2. Find or observe a parenting mentor.
Of all the campaigns I’ve initiated to try to improve my parenting, finding a mentor has been the most effective. I have learned the importance of engaging parents who are raising stable, well-adjusted children. The most rewarding parenting-mentor relationship I experienced happened on walks with my friend Kathy. She had two grown children who were serving Christ full time. Pushing a double stroller as I walked a mile or two around the neighborhood with her, I peppered her with questions, she listening and praying and offering advice.

I’ll admit it’s not easy to find a mentor like Kathy. If you can’t find one, remember that mentors can come in surprising packages. I’ve been “mentored” by kind mothers in the grocery store who answer my questions patiently, by grandparents who get on the floor and play with their grandchildren, by friends who share their trials and victories with me. The most surprising mentor in my life has been my eldest daughter who is now old enough to baby-sit. Watching her kind patience with toddlers inspires me to be a more patient mommy.

3. Say, “I’m sorry.”
Pioneer parents—and all parents for that matter—make mistakes. We say painful words that we heard our parents say—words that once stung us, words that now sting our children. The best way to disarm sin is to admit it. No parents are perfect. Trying to appear sinless (particularly during a bout of anger) causes children to worry about how they “made” mommy or daddy be mean. Confessing our sins to our children and asking their forgiveness opens the door to communication, de-escalates heated arguments, and shows children that even parents need the restorative forgiveness of Jesus.

4. Understand that parenting is not outside-in, but inside-out.
I used to think parenting successfully meant finding the “best” strategies and practicing them. Though good parenting strategies are helpful, particularly for Pioneer Parents, they lacked real power. I realized I could impose all sorts of methods from the outside, but my heart (where parenting starts) remained the same. To parent differently than how I was raised, my heart needed to be healed. David said, “What you’re after is truth from the inside out. Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life” (Psalm 51:6, MSG). God is in the business of cleaning, healing and rejuvenating our hearts from the inside out. The greater the healing, the more authentic and effective our parenting will be.

5. Forgive your parents.
Jesus told us to forgive, plain and simple. Sometimes He even used impossible math: 70 times 7—490 times! Holding bitterness in your heart, shunning forgiveness, actually hinders you from parenting freely in the present. Forgiveness sets you free—free to love your imperfect parents, free to give grace to your imperfect self as you struggle to parent differently. It’s not pretending nothing happened back there; on the contrary, forgiveness is a revolutionary, brave act.

How is forgiveness connected to pioneer parenting? Picture a thick iron chain around you and your family of origin. If you choose not to forgive, the chain keeps you connected to the past. It stifles your heart so that you cannot parent effectively today. Choosing to forgive causes the chain to fall away, setting you free to parent your children differently.

6. Stop the comparison game.
Few acts are more destructive than comparison. I’ve caught myself observing other parents not to glean pointers about parenting, but to chide them or myself. I will never parent that way, I think, which can either mean I don’t want to be like that parent or I am an utter failure at parenting well. Jogging through my neighborhood one day, God taught me a comparison lesson. Each yard was different. Some sported “Yard of the Month” signs. Others hatched weeds. I realized that the sanctification journey is different for me, as my “growing up” yard may have had bad soil and not enough sun. Comparing myself to Yard of the Month parents, who may have had affirming upbringings, was unfair. God asks us to concentrate on our own yard, to pull one weed at a time, to revel in one flower planted.

Paul says, “That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original” (Galatians 5:26, MSG). A chapter later, Paul asserts, “ But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another” (Galatians 6:4 NAS).

7. Find support.
My parenting skills increased when I found other pioneer parents who struggled just like me. When I’ve had a particularly difficult parenting day, I’ll call a fellow pioneer parent and vent. Paul says that we are to “bear one another’s burdens and thus fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:4 NAS). Finding like-minded pioneer parents who are willing to share struggles lightens burdens. As I shared my burdens, and listened to other Pioneer Parents share theirs, I realized I was a normal parent with typical struggles—with a big God who ultimately shouldered every burden. In the company of like-minded friends I’m able to laugh at my mistakes and continue down the pioneer parenting path.

Being a Pioneer Parent is no easy task, particularly when we’re plagued by worry that we’ll duplicate the homes we were raised in. In granting ourselves grace, seeking mentors, saying I’m sorry, seeking inside-out healing, forgiving our parents, eliminating comparison, and finding friends who bear our burdens, we will scale the difficult peak of parenting, by God’s grace.

To read more of Mary’s wise advice, go to:

Monday, April 10, 2006

Introducing...Guest Bloggers

Okay, if you were to visit my house here in Montana, you’d notice two things right away. I love color. (Yes, red, plum, mocha, and hunter green are perfectly good wall colors.) And I love books. Or, more accurately, I love the information I find within them. I love facts, stats, deep devotions, light-hearted commentaries, current thoughts, classic reads, historical research, and much, much more.

I know that there are many, many Gen Xers like me. When it comes to “wanting to be in the know” we love stuff that’s bloggable, google-able, and repeatable. That’s why I’m introducing (drum-roll please . . .) GUEST BLOGGERS. Every Tuesday and Thursday, I’m going to introduce you to some of my friends who just happen to be wise and inspiring. These are people that I look up to and enjoying connecting with . . . and I’m sure you will to.

To show them your welcome, be sure to tell your friends, post your comments, and check out their websites. I love to think of our growing community of Gen X parents as a “family” (without having to fight over whose house to visit on Thanksgiving!). And I’m sure you’ll enjoy getting to know my friends as much as I have!

Tomorrow you’ll meet Mary DeMuth. Mary’s articles have appeared in places like Marriage Partnership, In Touch, HomeLife, Discipleship Journal. Mary’s books include Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God (Harvest House, 2005), Sister Freaks (Time Warner, 2005), Building the Christian Family You Never Had (WaterBrook, 2006), Watching the Tree Limbs, and Wishing on Dandelions (NavPress, both novels releasing in 2006). In 2003, she won the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference’s Pacesetter Award.

Check her out at:

She’s my kind of girl, and I know you’re going to enjoy her words. I did!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Simply Irresistible (Robert Palmer)

This link was sent to me by a fellow Gen-Xer, and I think it’s rad! (You have to be a Gen-Xer to know what “rad” means.)

You Might Be a “Gen-Xer” If . . .

So, how did you do? Did it bring back a lot of memories? Me too!

And here’s a few things I can add . . .

--I remember when Strawberry Shortcake was cool, the first time around.

--I’ll never forget the episode on “Days of Our Lives” when Bo and Hope confessed their love with “Lady in Red” playing in the background.

--I was part of a lip-sync contest at school, singing and dancing to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” by Cyndy Lauper.

Okay, how about you? What are some of your memories?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Secret of My Success (Night Ranger)

Please tell me if I’m wrong, but the more I dig into information about Gen X Parents, the more I discover that there are people our there JUST LIKE ME! No seriously . . . for so long I thought I was the only one who wanted my family to sit around the dinner table every night. The only mom who stressed about having a fun, yet spiritually uplifting, bedtime routine.

In a recent article titled: “Gen X sheds slacker image” this comment is made:

"[Gen X Parents are] willing to do what it takes to have family stability, because they didn't get it when they were young," says Ann Fishman, president of Generational Targeted Marketing. "So this is something new, the importance placed on raising your children." (You can read the whole article here.)

Ever since my children were young, I have fallen in love with that word “stability.” Seriously, it’s one of my favorites. I’ve always wanted my kids to be raise with a firm foundation based on the love of God and their parents. How have I done this?

I mentioned two of the ways already: family dinners and a bedtime routine. Even though we live busy lives, our family eats dinner together approximately five times a week. Some days (like today!) I’m really on the ball and after breakfast I get dinner going in the crockpot. Other times, when I haven’t had time to THINK about dinner, I run to the store and grab the fixings for sub sandwiches. It really doesn’t matter how complex the meal is, the best part is having us interact as a family.

Our bedtime routine is just as sacred in our home. On most nights, we gather our kids to pray and read together. The prayer time is simple. Starting with the youngest, each of us takes one or two minutes to pray for our family or any special concerns. Then my husband reads from a “Chapter Book.” (My kids still love this, even the sixteen-year-old.) The number of books we’ve gone through is in the dozens. We’ve read The Chronicles of Narnia, the Lord of the Rings series, Frank Peretti’s Cooper Kids’ Series, and too many more to name. The criteria are that John has to enjoy the books as much as the kids. (He wasn’t about to read any boring “First Readers.” No way.)

Not only do we enjoy the stories, but my kids have benefited by their active imaginations and great scores on Standardized Testing. In fact, all three of them score WAY above their grade level when it comes to reading comprehension. (Which, of course, is important to Gen Xers—providing double benefits for our efforts.)

Other things that I feel helps with family stability include:

--Serving together at church every week.
--Talking about “current events” in relation to Biblical truth (which means great mealtime discussions about things like dating, video games, television shows, etc.)
--Opening our home up to our childrens’ friends.

So what about you? What have you done to build family stability? I’d love to hear about it!

Monday, April 03, 2006

You Got It, The Right Stuff (New Kids on the Block

In a recent blog I discussed how Gen X Parents are being targeted by marketers. Of course these same marketers are checking out our kids just as closely.

In a recent article titled “Whose Filling Gen-Y’s Shoes,” the following statistics are given: (As a mom of kids ages 16, 13, and 11, I read their discoveries with interest!)

--Violent crime by 12 to 17-year-olds is down by over 50 percent from its 1992-1993 peak (US Bureau of Justice Statistics).

--Despite media reports of casual sex "hookups" among college students, the late 1990s saw overall teen sexual activity decline and virginity rise (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, US).

--School shootings were down by more than half in the late 1990s (less than 15 per year) compared to the early 1990s (over 40 per year).

--Smoking, drinking and drug use among 8th, 10th and 12th graders fell simultaneously in 2002 for the first time (University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research).

--According to Gallup more than 90 percent of teens report being very close to their parents; in 1974, more than 40 percent of baby boomers said they'd be better off without their parents.

--Suicide rates for teens have fallen significantly since their 1988 to 1994 peak (National Center for Health Statistics, US).

--Today's kids are more apt to trust parents (86 percent), teachers (86 percent) and the police (83 percent) than music celebrities (35 percent) and athletes (30 percent) (Applied Research & Consulting LLC).

--Volunteerism is up. A University of California (UCLA) survey of college freshmen from fall 2001 showed an all-time high of 86.2 percent of students who reportedly engaged in volunteer work, compared to 66 percent in 1989.

--Teens now form the most religious age bracket in the US. Participation in church groups among teens rose from 17 percent to 28 percent between 1995 and 2001 (Roper). In 2002, the UC Berkeley Survey Research Center PACES project reported that 67 percent of teens supported federal aid to religious organizations -- versus 40 percent of adults ages 27 to 59.

--Teen marriages rose steadily after a low around 1990 -- a trend running counter to older US generations, which are getting married later (US Census).

You can read the complete article here:

This article has TONS of great information, but mainly it gives me HOPE. As a Gen X mom, my goal has been to raise kids who love God and want to serve Him with their lives. Seeing these new “statistics” gives me hope that more parents are doing the same.

What do you think? In what ways can you see that our parenting efforts are paying off? What hopes do you have for our kids’ futures?

Private Eyes (Daryl Hall & John Oates)

They are watching you.

They are trying to figure you out.

They study who you are, what you buy, and where your interests lie in order to determine where you’re going with your MasterCard. Who are “they”?

They are Marketers. Do you think it’s just a coincidence that more 80s music or fads from “our time” is finding its way into TV commercials? Not quite. WE are the generation to be studied and dissected. We are “up and coming” buyers who have more money to spend than years prior. We are parents now, yet we also influence our parents’ buying decisions. (I can’t begin to tell you how many “older” people call up my husband for advice before buying a new computer or PDA.)

We have POWER! (Okay, I’m getting a little out of hand!)

Seriously, want to read about what marketers have discovered about us? Read this article, “Talking ’Bout Whose Gen X?” here

Quoting this article, here’s what Marketers know about us Gen X Parents:

“Gen X-ers, to be sure, take their parenting seriously. Raised in an era of broken marriages and whose-weekend-is-it-mom’s-or-dad’s, they’re resolute in their efforts to provide stability for their children. They also bring to parenting all the self-reliance and practicality that made them discerning shoppers in their teens. (The first generation of mall rats, Gen X-ers embraced shopping as part of their social lives.) These days, Gen X-ers understand the power and the allure of seeking and sharing information online. “This generation of parents is really very communication-driven and knowledge-driven,” says Mary Admasian, Zutano’s CMO.

Well, since some of my closest friends are those who live across the country and whom I communicate with via email . . . I’d have to agree! How about you? Do you think the marketers are hitting us right on? What are they missing?

Oh, gotta go. My IM is popping up, my cellphone is ringing, and I need to remember to charge my iPod before going on my walk today! (No joking!)

Any Way You Want It

Is it bad to “want it all”? That’s a question that Gen X moms should ask. In an article by USA Today, titled “Gen X moms have it their way” the author states, “these younger mothers are reshaping their generation’s parenting practices.” As Gen Xers, we “expect arrangements including flextime hours, part-time jobs, shorter work hours, telecommuting, job sharing . . .” We also often leave the workforce entirely if we can afford it.

The entire article can be read here:

So what do you think? Why do you think Gen X moms “want it all”? Do you fit this mold? How have you balanced your work with your home life? (Or, how has your wife?) I’d love to hear your comments!

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