Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Adoption update and more . . .

Hi friend!

First, good news! I'm not sure if you're aware but God has provided all the money we need for our adoption! He did it through a bonus in John's work AND a larger-than-expected tax return. (Much larger.) Praise Him!

Sigh, but it will still be 12-18 months before we can pick up our little girl from China. The kids are beside themselves. They want their sister now!

We've heard from our agency that even after our documents get to China (which is still 4-5 months out, it takes a year for China to send a referral! Then we'll travel about a month after that.)

In the meantime, I've been praying about the funds to take all our kids to China with us to get their sister. God is answering my prayer, and out-of-the-blue a writer-friend told us he was sending $500 for this cause. Isn't God good!? (It will be $6,000+ to take them.)

Also as a way to make some money, I signed up to be an "consultant" for a company called Simply Fun. Yes, I know. I have NO time to do this. But the best part is there is an on-line store you can peek at. How simple is that?! (Of course, as a Gen Xer if you mix EDUCATION and FUN and TAKING KIDS TO CHINA for ADOPTION, then it's a 4x bonus.)

Our family LOVES board games, and there are some really great ones. So far I only have "Liebrary" and "Eye to Eye," (the rest of my "kit" is coming) but they are so FUN. "Eye to Eye" is great because everyone from Nathan (12) to Grandma can enjoy it, and they're on equal ground. We've played in four times in the last three days!

You can also check out my "review" of Liebrary at:

We'll get 25%+ of all sales. I'm going to put it all toward our "Trip to China" fund. The kids don't know yet, ssshhh. We're trying to see how "feasible" this will be before we get their hopes up.

Yet, I know we serve a BIG God, and if he wants to provide by helping sell board games . . . or ANY other way, then that's up to Him!

If you want to check out the games, go to:

You can do an on-line order from that website.

Or, even more important, if you would pray for our girl, and our adoption, would be WONDERFUL! Prayer IS the most important part.

Tricia Goyer

P.S. If you're interested in becoming a consultant, let me know that too. These games are great!

Dare to Dream Part 3...

DISCOVER – What Are God’s Dreams?

“. . . God gives his children tasks to complete. Even in Eden he assigned the first man and woman the job of tending a garden,” says Judith Couchman in her book, Designing a Woman’s Life. “But understanding our significance before we attempt accomplishment anchors the soul in an order uncommon to this world,” says Couchman. “First, we embrace our innate worth, then we pursue our unique purpose. After this, we tackle our work.”

Many of us have reversed this process. We decide our own path, quickly follow the flow of life, then we wonder why we feel insignificant. We despair when we look back at our day and realize that though we jumped through all the necessary hoops, we shared no piece of ourselves or our originality.
The easiest way to tell if we are missing our unique purpose is to consider the things that bring joy to our lives. Things that are uniquely us. It may be singing, baking, or even landscaping. Many of us need to ask, “If I could be doing anything for God’s kingdom what would it be?” and “Do I ‘thrive’ in my daily duties and feel God’s pleasure, or do I simply ‘survive’ as I try to keep up with the world’s ideas?”
The answers may surprise you, and they also may stir your heart toward God’s true desires for your life.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Life's Little Interruptions by Gina Conroy

Today's guest blogger is Gina Conroy. She's a wonderful person and my friend! You can read Gina's blog here.

Life's Little Interruptions By Gina Conroy

Several months ago I signed up for a Bible Study with some home schooling friends. I really didn’t feel like committing to another night out of the home especially since my family was already overscheduled with activities, but my husband encouraged me to go, and I knew I needed something to help me get into the Word and be accountable.

I didn’t know the Bible study was on hearing the voice of God.

Halfway through the study God spoke loud and clear. I needed to give up what I loved most - working on my novel, so I could concentrate on the people I loved most - my family. Though God had been dealing with me for months, I didn’t want to believe it was His voice whispering to me about skewed priorities. When I ignored his whispers, He hit me hard.

Like what happened to Saul on the road to Damascus, God decided to knock me off my horse. Yet, instead of blinding me as He did with Saul, the scales fell from my eyes.

The topic of discussion at our Bible study that week had been sold out hunger for God. The author Pricilla Shirer shared these words.

“More and more the Lord is showing me what I consider interruptions are often divine distractions designed to reveal His plans for me…”

Pricilla Shirer wrote about her young son tugging on her leg, trying to get her attention while she sat engrossed in writing the Bible study. “Ignoring this interruption ignores God’s attempt to move me away from my plan for my day to His.”

Talk about an “ah-ha” moment! It was then that I realized I was treating my children as interruptions in my life and distractions from my writing career. I had become so focused on what I thought my calling from God was that I’d been missing His divine plan for my life as a mother.

When I decided to home school almost two years ago I felt that was an interruption in my life. The time I thought I would have to write now had to be allocated to schooling. Still I was determined to make it work even if it meant staying up past midnight and “winging it” through my lessons the following day. During a quick break for lunch, I’d steal away to the computer and get on email only to stay longer than I had planned. My three-year-old would often interrupt what I was doing, and I’d either shoo her away or get irritated at the interruption. If I lingered too long on the computer I knew chaos would erupt in the rooms below, but somehow I couldn’t pull myself away in time to prevent the inevitable.

Pricilla goes on to write “…we all become frustrated when seemingly meaningless interruptions interfere with plans we have for our careers, families, finances, or ministries. Are we missing God’s interventions as He seeks to divert us to His will?”

Was I missing God’s intervention as He sought to divert me to His will? I thought home schooling was an interruption in my life, but maybe it wasn’t. Maybe it was God’s divine intervention to steer me back on the path He had already designed for me.

Pricilla said, “sometimes when our plans are interrupted, we are staring God’s direction in the face. We must not push them aside to complete what we feel is most important.”

Though I still struggle through my home schooling days, and the desire to work on my novel has not gone away, I'm able to enjoy my children more. The other day when my three-year-old climbed up on my lap when I was on the computer, I didn't shoo her away. Without hesitation I pushed away from the computer and embraced God's little interruption in my life.

Monday, May 29, 2006

I Don't Need No Crystal Ball

Okay, I've been "studying" about Gen Xers for a year now. More than that, because I am one, I feel I know some things about us. Because of this, I have some ideas of what we like . . . and where marketers have "caught on" and where they still need to "get clued in."

1. Our families matter most. Believe me, this is a very Gen X thing. Gone are the days of latch-key, childhood existences. Gone are the days when the horror films had little kids as the demon possessed evil people. (Remember those horrible films?)

What this means:

"Work from home" or "family friendly companies" will be sought after by both moms and dads. And because of this, companies will "get a clue."

Magazines will CONTINUE to highlight all the "celebrity" kids. We'll know what's happening with Shiloh, Violet, Suri, Sean, CoCo, Apple, etc . . . just as we know what's with our own kids.

More products that target DADS. Books. Classes. Videos. I mean, moms are only 1/2 of the formula.

Larger families and an increase in International adoptions. We're also going to hate the fact that older generations will think we're just following a "trend." Because our hearts are truly going to be to be open to the homeless/parentless.

An increase in "alternative" education: homeschooling, private schools, charter schools, etc. Also an increase in more parent/child classes, workshops, fun.

An increase on marriage retreats, marriage workshops, marriage books. And a decrease in divorces among Gen Xers.

More parenting books that target Gen Xers. Generation Next Parenting will be such a hit that more authors/publishers will jump on the bandwagon. (Don't you agree?)

More nostalgia items for our kids. We'll buy them because they give us so many happy memories that we'll want to share with our kids.

2. We want a REAL relationship with God and with each other. This means:

A growth of "small groups"--both on-line and in person.

A renewed interest in the Spiritual Disciplines and classic Christian literature.

More intimate relationships with God. We'll bypass "religion" in search of "relationship."

A growth of "family ministry" where families work and serve together--including short term mission trips, community and church service.

3. The bandwagon that marketers need to get on:

Remixes of our favorite songs--cleaned up.

Movies such as 13 Going on 30, which we can relate to.

A TV series, such as "The Wonder Years" set in the 70s/early 80s.

Clearance. No joke! We LOVE getting a good deal. Stories like Marshalls, Ross, TJ Maxx--any thing that makes us feel like we're getting a bargain makes us happy. More stories like this (or even web-based stores) will do great.

Okay, those are my "predictions" what do you see?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Fun with Friends.

(PRAGUE 2002)

Okay, I usually don't do this. But I'm ready for a little fun . . .

Four jobs I have had in my life

1. Housekeeper
2. McDonalds
3. Pregnancy Center Director
4. Professional Writer

Four movies I would watch over and over:

1. 13 Going on 30
2. Ever After
3. The Saint
4. Band of Brothers

Four places I have lived:

1. Weed, California
2. Anderson, California
3. Columbia Falls, Montana
4. Kalispell, Montana

Four TV shows I love to watch:

1. Extreme Makeover
2. What Not to Wear
3. Lost
4. Alias

Four places I have been on vacation:

1. Prague, Czech Republis
2. Banff, Canada
3. Paris, France
4. Orlando, Florida

Four web sites I visit often:


Four of my favorite foods:

1. Homemade chicken enchilidas
2. Watermelon
3. Ice cream bars
4. Mashed Potatoes

Four places I would rather be right now:

1. On a beach with a good book
2. Alone in a cottage writing
3. Spain (since I'm writing a book about Spain)
4. Prague (my favorite vacation spot)

Four Friends that have been tagged that I think will respond:

1. All my friends via comment!

You've been tagged. So here it goes...delete my answers, replace with your own and send it back to me and on to other friends.



A God Thing--Guest Blogger Lynne Thompson

Today's guest blogger, Lynne Thompson, is an author and speaker. (And my friend too!) She resides in California's Central Valley with her husband of 20 years and their two children, Cassie, 12 and David 10.

A God Thing

The handsome, dark-haired teen walked down the aisle and joined my church on his first visit. I was instantly intrigued. We were introduced to each other a week later during a church event. Pete was so quiet and I was so ... loud. The earth must have tilted a bit in response to the natural attraction. It was a typical relationship, high school drama at its best. We broke up, dated others, got back together, yada yada. After several years of dating we got engaged. I was terrified.

I had received a few proposals before this one, and managed with great finesse to escape each one. I guess you could call me the runaway fiance. This time was different though. I truly wanted to spend the rest of my life with this man, if only he would stay this man. I'd been around long enough to lose faith in romance. Passionate promises usually ended in broken trust. I didn't want to join the ranks of those fooled by love's hypnosis. Pete fitted the Biblical mandate of a godly man; he'd reached the financial success needed to support a family, and even made my toes curl, just by entering the room, yet here I was like Gideon looking for dew on a piece of fleece to confirm my choice. God understood.

It was a sunny day when a friend and I went to the park for a prayer fast, which is where you fast from talking and separate to commune with God alone, on a deeper level. She sat about 20 yards away from me on the other side of a paved road. I took the opportunity to tell God that I loved Him the most, and would give up anyone if it meant serving Him better. I laid down my mental prayer fleece and begged God to make it very clear to me that marriage was the right choice at this time. I had just said Amen when I heard the horns.

A procession of cars made their way down the little road. Leading, was a car decked out in flowers, dragging cans, the words 'Just Married" chalked on the windows. I laughed. Then I said, "God is that you?" I must try his patience at times, I'm sure of it. We ended our prayer fast and walked to the car. "Did you see that wedding party go by?" she asked. "Yes, I saw it. It was for me."

Now I sit 20 years later, to the day, knowing that it was the best decision God made.

You can find out more about Lynne at

Friday, May 26, 2006

Dare to Dream Part 2...

SLOWING DOWN – Are Our Hurried Todays Hindering Our Hopes For Tomorrow?

Perhaps you have a long-held yearning to write the all-American novel, work with the youth group, or take up oil painting. It seems these types of wishes often get shuffled out of our thoughts as we scurry to keep up with carpool and committee meetings.
“Some of us are living so fast and furiously today that we miss God’s message about tomorrow,” say Bill and Kathy Peel in their book, Discover Your Destiny. Many have never slowed down enough to ask, “What is God’s plan for me? What dreams has He placed deep in my heart?” and “Am I spending my days following His plan?”
One of the biggest dream-busters is the phrase: “I don’t have time right now.” Many of us believe that when our children are grown, the house is remodeled, and all our other projects are complete we will make time for our dreams.
“Often, we convince ourselves that our obsession with our “to do” list is only temporary – that once we get through the list, we’ll be calm, relaxed, and happy. But in reality, this rarely happens. As items are checked off, new ones simply replace them . . .” says Richard Carlson, PH. D, in his book Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
The preacher of Ecclesiastes also knew about busyness—he knew it didn’t work. Ecclesiastes 4: 6 says, “Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind” (NIV).
Chasing after the wind is fruitless. So is scurrying through our days trying to complete a to-do list that will never see an end. It’s up to us free ourselves from the crazed dance of busyness and allow time to contemplate God’s gifts and callings.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Cutloose, footloose by Cara Putman

Hi! I’d like to introduce today’s guest blogger, Cara Putman—Gen X mom, writer, and attorney! Welcome Cara.

Cutloose, footloose

Ever have days where you would love to escape? Slip into an old Calgon commercial? Take me away!

I have days like that. Sometimes weeks like that.

For whatever reason I am overwhelmed by the stress of life. Sometimes it’s the trials and hearings coming up at work. Or a client who wants more from me than I can or should give. Or my children are having an off day. Or my husband is out of town and I get to play single mom for awhile.

Or if I’m really honest with myself, I admit my perspective has gotten skewed. My house no longer is more than sufficient to meet our needs. Instead of being grateful for everything God has given me, I look at it and think, “well, someday we’ll add wood floors, a fence, those great master bathroom upgrades…. Then, I’ll truly be happy.” Fill in the blank with the things you’re heart desires.

Or I look in my closet and long for a new wardrobe. It doesn’t matter that the clothes I have now are fine and dandy. Perfectly meet my needs (and the needs of three or four other women). Instead, I grouse that I only have one or two shops in town that carry my size and the styles are all wrong.

The exciting thing, though, is that God has worked on me in this area. He is actively drawing me to a place of contentment, a place where I recognize that if I have Him, I have everything I truly need.

In Philippians 4:11-12, Paul encourages the Philippians in their concern for him. I am humbled by his words each time I read them. “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”

Lord, teach me how to be content in all things and help me pass that on to my children!

And each time I walk through Gap and realize I don’t need anything because I have everything I need and more, I thank God that contentment is growing in my life.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Dare to Dream—Part 1

What dreams are hidden in your heart? I dare you to find out . . .

I imagine my face must glow when I talk about my latest writing projects. Looking back, I often wonder what took me so long to realize I wanted to become a writer. I’ve always loved reading and creating stories in my mind. During my childhood summers when my friends were at the lake, I spent my time in the library. That should have been my first clue. Looking back now, I can clearly see hints of the dreams God placed deep inside me.

It wasn't until I was married with three small children scurrying around my feet that I realized God created me with specific talents. (Talents that play a part in His purpose for my life.) But the contentment I feel when I use my talents and follow my dreams is uncommon in many people today, including some of my closest friends.

One afternoon I saw a wistful look in my friend, Stacey’s, eyes as she squeezed a few minutes out of her busy day to talk with me over a glass of tea. “I wish I had something of my own,” this mother of three small boys confessed. “Some type of special purpose that I knew was from God.” As Stacey spoke, I squinted and looked closely. I’m sure that behind her baby food stained T-shirt I saw something. Yes, she did have something of her own. Stacey’s heart was filled with dreams lying dormant, waiting to be awakened.

Sometimes we, like Stacey, don’t even know our dreams are there. We feel incomplete but don’t understand why. Other times the fulfillment of our dreams is stunted by outside factors—not enough time, not enough energy, and too many duties filling up our days.
But most of all we just need permission. Permission to slow down. Permission to discover our deepest purpose. And permission to follow those dreams.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Big Lessons from a Little Devotion by Gina Conroy

Today's guest blogger is my friend, Gina Conroy. You can find out more about Gina here.

The other morning I sat down with my three and five-year-old for a quick devotion. I usually don't get around to devotions with my little ones, but on this morning I had managed some quiet time myself before they got up. When they came to sit besides me I set aside my Bible and seized the moment, never knowing that their children's devotion would be just what I needed.

Giving Up Things for Jesus

That was the title of the lesson taken from Luke 5:10-11 and the story about when Jesus called Simon to follow Him. Simon loved to fish. It was all he knew to do, and he was good at it. But Jesus wanted Simon to tell others about the Kingdom of God. Jesus wanted Simon to follow Him.

Wow! That totally hit me where I was. Loving something so much, something I was good at and felt called to, and then being asked to give it up.

Jesus didn’t promise Simon would always have a roof over his head, or the road would be easy. He simply said, “be a fisher of men.” And that’s what Simon did.

Simon could have stayed behind and continued fishing, and he probably would have been happy and content. But Simon gave up what he loved. He traded in his fishing gear for something better.


The devotion ended with this scripture. “If you want to save your life, you will destroy it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” Matthew 16:25

If I'm obedient to what He asked of me, God will bless me with something more than I could ever imagine. I’m clinging to that as I walk in obedience to what He has spoken to my heart.

Most times I think to really hear from God everything has to be perfect. The house needs to be still with praise music playing in the background as the sweet aroma of coffee and vanilla candles fills the room. But God met me where I was on this morning. He knew what I needed and honored my laying down of my own quiet time with Him to meet the needs of my children. Though the devotion only took a couple of minutes, God used that time and spoke volumes to my heart.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Get Creative...

God made mud, so He must enjoy a mess once in a while! Children too should be allowed to get a little messy. Create an “art zone” in your home that provides your child with a constant opportunity to create and explore. Cover the floor with a shower curtain and provide a variety of fun (even untidy) materials, then allow time for free exploration.
Don’t fall in the ‘Have fun, but don’t make a mess’ trap.
“It’s as though clean hands and clean clothes were more important than the great adventure of learning hands-on,” says Clark.

Of course, giving your child freedom to explore doesn’t mean there are no rules. Provide basic ones such as, “Supplies must be cleaned and put away when you’re finished,” and “Artwork must be dry before leaving the art area.”

Also, you don’t need to spend a lot of money on art supplies. Be creative and scour your home instead. My kids’ craft treasures include:

Old shirts for smocks
Shower curtains for drop cloths
Safety scissors
Broken crayons (So they don’t have to worry about breaking them!)
Notebooks and sketchpads
Construction Paper
Clothes Pins
Scrap Cloth
Paint brushes
Lunch bags
Empty food cartons
Colored pencils
Popsicle sticks
Tissue paper
Cotton Balls
Twist ties
And whatever else you can find!

“Children are born with an inquiring mind, full of curiosity,” says Yew Kam Keong, author of You’re Creative-Let Your Creativity Bloom. “Their creativity knows no bounds as they explore and fantasize. And according to the great scientist Albert Einstein, ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge.’ ” Don’t you agree?

Sunday, May 21, 2006


(As forwarded to me via email. Enjoy!)

You had that Fisher Price Doctor 's Kit with a stethoscope that actually worked.

You owned a bicycle with a banana seat and a plastic basket with flowers on it.

You learned to skate with actual skates (not roller blades) that had metal wheels.

You thought Gopher from Love Boat was cute (admit it!).

You had nightmares after watching Fantasy Island.

You had rubber boots for rainy days and Moon boots for snowy days.

You owned a "Slip-n-Slide" on which you injured yourself on a sprinkler head more than once.

You owned "Klick-Klacks" and smacked yourself in the face more than once.

You had either a "bowl cut" or "pixie," not to mention the "Dorothy Hamill." People sometimes thought you were a boy.

Your Holly Hobbie sleeping bag was your most prized possession.

You wore a poncho, gauchos, and knickers.

You begged Santa for the electronic game, Simon.

You had the Donnie and Marie dolls wit h those pink and purple satiny shredded outfits.

You spent hours in your backyard on your metal swing set with the trapeze. The swing set tipped over at least once.

You had homemade ribbon barrettes in every imaginable color. (Oh yeah!)

You had a pair of Doctor Scholl's sandals (the ones with hard sole & the buckle).

You also had a pair of salt-water sandals.

You wanted to be Laura Ingalls Wilder really bad. you wore that Little House on the Prairie-inspired plaid, ruffle shirt with the high neck in at least one school picture, and you despised Nellie Olson!

You wanted your first kiss to be at a roller rink!

Your hairstyle was described as having "wings" or "feathers" and you kept it "pretty" with the comb you kept in your back pocket. When you walked, the "wings" flapped up and down, looked like you were gonna "take off."

You know who Strawberry Shortcake is, as well as her friends, Blueberry Muffin and Huckleberry Pie.

You carried a Muppets lunch box to school and it was metal, not plastic. With the thermos inside!

You and your girlfriends would fight over which of the Dukes of Hazzard was your boyfriend. YOU had Star Wars action figures, too!

It was a big event in your household each year when the "Wizard of Oz" would come on TV. Your mom would break out the popcorn and sleeping bags!

You often asked your Magic-8 ball the question: "Who will I marry. Shaun Cassidy, Leif Garrett, or David Cassidy?"

You completely wore out your Grease, Saturday Night Fever, and Fame soundtrack record album.

You tried to do lots of arts and crafts, like yarn and Popsicle-stick God's eyes, decoupage, or those weird potholders made on a plastic loom. You made Shrinky-Dinks and put iron-on kittens on your t-shirts!

You used to tape record songs off the radio by holding your portable tape player up to the speaker.

You had subscriptions to Dynamite and Tiger Beat.

You learned everything you needed to know about girl issues from Judy Blume books (Are you there God, It's me, Margaret.)

You thought Olivia Newton John's song "Physical" was about aerobics.

You wore friendship pins on your tennis shoes, or shoelaces with heart or rainbow designs.

You wanted to be a Solid Gold dancer.

You drowned yourself in Love's Baby Soft - which was the first "real" perfume you ever owned . . .

AND you glopped your lips in Strawberry Roll-on lip gloss till it almost dripped off.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Creating Family Legacies

Today's Guest Blogger is my writer-friend Marilyn Hilton. You can find out more about Marilyn here. I think you'll be happy you did!

Creating Family Legacies by Marilyn Hilton

May I confess? I’m not a GenX parent--I’m one of those Boomers but I don’t feel like one. I had my first baby when I was 39 and my last at 43.

I have no category. When I joined a new-moms’ class with women nearly half my age, I envied the extra years they would have with their kids that I would not have. But I often feel out of place whenever I’m placed in a group of women my age: they’re on the retirement track and I’m choosing training bras.

One benefit to being spring lamb in ewe’s clothing is that I feel an acute urge to create family traditions and legacies that will live on in my children and grandchildren long after I’m gone. They need to know who they are to me, our family, and their extended family reaching forward and back. I need to help them understand their worth and value as human beings and children of God.

If you, too, have the urge to preserve, here are some simple ways to keep memories and create legacies for your children:

 Write a letter to your child soon after s/he’s born. Don’t edit the letter, but seal it and put it in a safe place, to give to your child later in life.

 Keep a daily diary. Stay successful by writing only a few sentences or one short page each night.

 Trace your child’s outline or silhouette, date it, and display it.

 Tell your child regularly (such as a birthday) about the day s/he was born.

 Take a special photograph of your child on a milestone day, such as the 100th day since birth.

 Make a collage of cards your child received when s/he was born or for a special birthday.

 Laminate artwork and use it as placemats.

 At a birthday or other celebration, have guests write messages on a white tablecloth using permanent-ink pens.

 Store cards and letters in an accordion file, by date or occasion.

 Write and send out a quarterly family newsletter that everyone in the family contributes to.

 Start a family story night, passing around a “storyteller” toy.

 Plant a tree or shrub in your yard in honor of a deceased loved one.

 Take a picture of your child in the same spot on the first day of each new school year.

 Display artwork on one area of the wall, and rotate artwork monthly.

 Cut pieces from outgrown clothing and quilt a pillow, or frame a swatch of the quilting.

 Display photographs of grandparents around your house and tell your child about each person.

 For a birthday or other celebration, make a poster of your child’s pictures and have guests write messages.

 Keep a list of all the “baby talk” your child says before it switches to grownup talk. (That happens too fast.)

 Before a birthday or other celebration, ask guests to write messages. Then bind them all in a memory book.

 Make a container to store baby teeth.

 Write postcards to your family whenever you’re away, and save them in an album.

 Frame a snapshot with a favorite poem, prayer, or message for your child.

 Share the stories of your faith as often as you can.

Preserving memories and creating legacies help kids feel connected to something larger than themselves and boosts their confidence and sense of security. And that’s good for every generation!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Creative Learning

God, the Artist, created a world that not only declares the beauty of His handiwork but also the splendor of His character. We look upon breathtaking mountain peaks and see that God is majestic. We examine the complexity of an ant and know that God is detail-orientated. We study the uniqueness of a platypus and realize that God has a sense of humor.

Genesis 6:9 says, “In the image of God has God made man” (NIV). Like God, man was made to think, act, feel and create. Yes, create! Yet what has creativity become for our children? Coloring in the lines? Following step-by-step directions? Assembling pre-packed art kits? “A rigid academic program does not develop creativity,” says Dr. Wesley Sharpe Ed. D., author of Growing Creative Kids. “The ability to dream up unusual ideas is key.”

So how can you help your child exercise his imagination and explore his creative nature? Here are five ideas.

Follow God’s Footsteps
“To know how to access God’s creativity, we have to learn to pay attention to what He’s made and given to us,” say Silvana Clark, author of 150 Ways to Raise Creative, Confident Kids (Vine).
Help your child discover God’s creativity by exploring your yard, neighborhood, or local park. Ask questions like: “Why do you think God made clouds white?” or "How is an birch leaf different from an oak?" Point out special occurrences such as a rainbow-sherbet sunset. Comment, “God made that especially for us to enjoy tonight.” Also, have your child memorize Bible verses such as John 1:3, "Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made."

Combine Interests and Art
Just as Monet’s style varied from Rembrant’s, realize that your child has an artistic personality all his own. Think about what makes your child tick, then revolve art around those subjects. If your son is interested in archeology, encourage him to draw a dinosaur that has yet to be discovered, or ask him to create ‘artifacts’ with clay. Give him a license to bring his interests into art. His art personality will flourish as he spends time exploring his interests in a creative manner.

Step Out of Bounds
“It’s not enough to tell our children to ‘be creative.’ They need examples, tools, and an environment conductive to creative thought,” says Clark. “Encouraging creativity in children means setting an example for them. They need to see us being creative.” Do you express creativity at home? If not, look to everyday tasks and family activities with new insight. Playing a board game after dinner may be a tradition, but what about painting the snow with food coloring instead?

Encourage Effort and Enthusiasm
Take time to encourage your child’s creative process. Pin artwork around your house, or design a special “art center” for displaying masterpieces. But remember, “encouragement” is different from offering excessive praise. Just like the villagers ignored the boy who cried wolf, your child will close his ears to your praise if it is given without merit. Instead, spend time discussing your child’s creation. Ask him to explain the story behind the scene. Take time to notice the specific patterns, lines, shapes and colors used to bring his ideas to life. And remember, the creative process is more important than if the picture “looks right.” It doesn’t matter if child colored with a red crayon on red paper. Your focus should be the reason behind it.

Think to the Future
Finally, remember that creativity will not only help your child’s imagination while he is young, but it will also benefit his future. “Business leaders are lamenting the lack of creativity in our young people today,” says Clark. “Employees come to work, do their jobs the way they’ve always done their jobs, and rarely, if ever, have a new or innovative idea about how to ‘build a better mousetrap.’ ” By helping your child be more creative now, you are growing an adult who will be willing to explore all life has to offer. “Every small discovery we make by being creative is an adventure and a delightful experience in itself,” Clark adds. “Through all this we learn and grow. We become active in making the world a better place to live in.”

Now that worthy goal is sure to make God, the Artist, proud.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

a truck full of doctors and presidents and teachers...

Today's blog is written by my writer-friend Staci Wilder. You can find out more about Staci here.

a truck full of doctors and presidents and teachers...
by Stacy Wilder

"It's not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can't tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself."
---Joyce Maynard

This morning marked yet another milestone in my role as a mother.

It's become a summer tradition among our sons and their friends, this annual trek to Six Flags. For several years now, Nathan and Jordan and their current "posse" have been loading into our car for the 45 minute drive to the amusement park. The first year, maybe even the second, was tough as I wrestled long and hard with those questions that only a mother understands. Are they old enough for a day on their own with friends? What if they get hurt - and I'm an hour away? What if they lose their money...or it gets stolen?...or gets wet on the water rides?

The list of 'what ifs' is endless and so are a mom's worries. Fortunately these worries have a way of, maybe not lessening, but at least taking their proper spot in our framework of likely anxieties as the years pass and the kids grow older. By last year I felt like an old pro. The Suburban was alive with laughter and animation as we made the drive. I was content to quietly listen as I drove, all but obscure behind my sunglasses and apparent (or so they thought) disinterest in the various threads of conversation wafting my way. When they hopped out of the truck I was able to smile, wish them a great day then make the long drive back home, knowing that a quiet house and a full twelve hours of uninterrupted bliss awaited me.

And that's how today should be. Here I am, back home, enjoying Hour Two of the bliss and what am I doing? Yep, I'm blogging about the sentimentality that's choking me, reminding me of how quickly the years are passing and that, instead of mothering two little boys, I'm now a mom to two young men who are knocking on the door of adulthood.

They really wanted to drive themselves today. That's been obvious for days, but (typical mom-style) I've conveniently "played dumb". Sure they could have done it. Not only are Nate and Jordan both driving now, but so are several of their friends. But that's not the point.

Somehow, without me even being consciously aware of it, I've come to look forward to this day. Noisy as it can smelly as the ride home with boys can sometimes far as it is (two ways)...and the long list of things I could, or should, be doing...

It doesn't matter. I love to listen to the thoughts and opinions and the way they "lay it all out there", not afraid to make themselves vulnerable to one another. Yes, they are teenagers and have an entire mass of issues and dilemmas of their own to deal with. But there is also still an innocence about them. They've not yet lived long enough to grow jaded about life. It's still one big adventure and they very much feel like they are buckled in for the ride of their lives.

And they are. As I listened in this morning, knowing that next year I'm going to have to fade into the woodwork and let them have their day "mom-free", I let my mind drift ahead a few years and wondered what the lives of these eight kids would be like then. Would there be a doctor in the group? Maybe an attorney, or a few teachers? Graphic artists, sportscasters, or...hey, a writer? I hid my smile as the possibilities seemed to roll out as far as the freeway in front of me. These kids truly are on the ride of their lives. And I'm honored to be at the starting station as this roller coaster of their life pulls out. They have a lot in front of them. Some of it tough, but most of it exciting.

As they climbed out of my SUV this morning I smiled, waved, and hid my tears behind the dark sunglasses. As unobtrusively as I could, I slipped an extra $20 to each of my own kids. One last time. They smile but don't say anything. They don't have to. They know I love them. And they love me. That's why they "gave" me today - an opportunity to witness again the magic of being young and having your entire life just waiting for you to reach out and make it your own.

Today they are sixteen and seventeen years old but in just a few years they'll be the leaders of this country, the doctors providing treatment and the teachers molding the generation that will follow them.

Thank you, Nathan and Jordan, for today. And thank you Jeran, Gary, the two Drews, Steve Lah, and Dwight - for the pleasure of your company, the joy of your conversation, and for the memories of this annual trek to Six Flags.

It means everything to this mom.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Gen X Moms Worth Getting to Know

There are amazing Gen X moms out there . . . You’re one of them, and so are your friends!

I’d like to share some of these “amazing moms” with blog readers. In honor of Mother’s Day, I’d like you to share your thoughts concerning your favorite friend(s). In the comment section, tell me why this person is special.

Next week, I will draw a name out of the hat. If your name is chosen, both you and your friend will receive my devotional book Mealtime Moments free!

So go ahead, you have permission to brag on your friend!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Dandelions and Daffodils: A Mother's Day Memory

Today's guest blogger is Ocieanna Fleiss. Ocieanna is a DEAR friend of mine. She's also a brilliant word-smith and she's helped me by reading/editing my novels. I know Ocieanna's words are going to touch your heart as her friendship touches my life.

Dandelions and Daffodils by Ocieanna Fleiss

My three-year-old daughter’s face beams as she hands me her Mother’s Day gift. A “bouquet” of dandelions she picked. “Put ‘em in you ‘air, Mama.” My sweet girl sure brings smiles to my heart.

Being a mommy of three doesn’t always make me smile. It can be a rough adventure sometimes. Millions of pairs of pee-wee sized underwear to fold, infinite toys to pick up, crusty spoons to fish from the sofa—all together, they create one exhausted mama. And need I mention the mental stress of constantly training those less-than-Christlike attitudes? “Stop screaming at your brother.” “I just told you not to do that.”

I must admit (though it may shock you) that sometimes I find myself complaining—even whining—about the chores of motherhood. In my darker moments, I long to escape to the time before kids when I could finish the laundry in a couple hours and spend an uninterrupted evening with my husband.

Reflecting on those pre-kid years also invites not-so-happy memories of a year when Mother’s Day brought no joy—not a bit of it. My pastor called it a time of “frowning providence.” I called it the worst year of my life.

Michael and I had been married five years when pregnancy surprised us—and we were overjoyed. I dreamed she’d be a girl and had already visualized her childhood up to her early-adult years. I imagined decking her out in a polka-dotted swim suit and playing baby games together at the pool. As she grew older, I’d teach her to rollerblade and invite church friends to birthday parties. She’d be a kind and considerate teen and graduate with good grades. Then, when she’d experienced just enough life on her own, she’d marry the godly man of her (and my) dreams.

Those dreams crumbled to dust when an ultrasound at ten weeks revealed no heartbeat.
During the heart-wrenching and desperate days that followed, my mom comforted me, even though she was fighting a battle of her own.

Then, a month later, a bright spot—surgeons told us they had completely removed Mom’s cancer. But, before we knew it, it came back stronger than before. She was amazing, still jigging her silly dances, filling the house with laughter. And my mom’s strong faith encourages me to this day. She’d thank God for the cancer because it drew her closer to Him. She’d pray for me when I was sad, even though she was the one who was dying. She taught me how to live.

She deteriorated quickly and was soon bed-bound. Hospice arrived, and within weeks, mom departed. Bouquets of daffodils decorated the funeral hall. Every time I see daffodils, I think of her.

As Mother’s Day approached, I dreaded it. On that Sunday, I sat in church watching women my age with their little ones. Some sat next to their moms—grandmas to give support. I knew they’d spend the afternoon being pampered and appreciated. I felt isolated and lonely, and despite my struggles to contain them, tears flowed.

But then, eventually came Gabby, and here she is, gifting me on Mother’s Day with her handful of dandelions. I still miss Mom and the baby I lost, but remembering my pain helps me to be grateful for what I have. If God’s grace carried me through those dark nights, I know He’ll give me strength to make it through a day of screaming toddlers and crusty spoons. My calling to be a mom is never easy, but He’s with me, holding my hand, letting me know I’m doing a good job. Mother’s Day reminds me that even though it’s often frustrating and exhausting, motherhood is a treasured gift.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

When Life Throws Curveballs--Cara Putman, Guest Blogger

Hi! I’d like to introduce today’s guest blogger, Cara Putman—Gen X mom, writer, and attorney! Welcome Cara.

When Life Throws Curveballs
by Cara Putman

Have you had a good day with your kids lately? Days that make the crazy ones worth it?

As parents sometimes we get so caught up in the craziness of life that we forget to seize the opportunities God places in our lives.

Today was one of those. The babysitter closed – you see, I’m an attorney three days a week and usually that works flawlessly. Today, not so much. You see, I didn’t check my cell phone when I left the house at 7:15 a.m. to get to a 7:30 meeting. Went from that meeting to another meeting without checking my voicemail in my office. When I got back to the office at noon, I had two messages from my husband.

My husband is a huge blessing.

He drops the kids off on Tuesdays without a complaint. But this morning when he stopped to drop them off, the door was locked. He left a message for me I didn’t hear for four hours. Then ten minutes later he left another message that our babysitter was closed today due to an onslaught of various sicknesses in her family. Eric ended up with a spontaneous day home with the kids.

Boy, did he make the most of it. It was a gorgeous spring day, so they spent time outside. Then when I called after noon, they were shopping for a bike for my daughter. She’s grown like a weed this spring and outgrown her bike and helmet. So Daddy was her hero today. She got a Princess bike AND a Princess helmet with knee pads and elbow pads. She’s now the safest kid in the neighborhood.

My son, who is 2 1/2, got his first helmet, too. And Daddy spent his nap taking apart Abigail’s bike and turning it into a wonderful blue bike. Jonathan loved it though he probably won’t be big enough to ride it till the end of the summer.

We spent so much time outside the kids will sleep well tonight. But that’s not the best part of today.

The best part was Eric. He took a day that could have been a disaster and turned it into a wonderful memory for each of our children. He could have groaned and stewed in his frustration that his planned day got scraped first thing this morning. Instead, he focused on the kids and made it a great day for them.

I only hope I do as well when life throws curveballs at me. Instead, I know I often get so focused on my agenda that I forget to delight in the moments. Life moves fast, may I not get so caught up in its pace that I lose the opportunity to delight my children.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Sorry I'm late announcing the WINNERS for Photo Contest #2.

Where each day is a new adventure to dream, search and discover... Bhaskar Dutta

Become the hero when you read a good book . . . Cara Putnam

A new discovery awaits you every time you read . . . Sherry Boles

Congratulations! Please email me at and let me know which autographed book you'd like to recieve!

To check out all my books, go to:

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Word of Mouse...

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received the same email jokes. In fact, one of the cool things about this generation is the ability to spread the word . . . with a click of the mouse.

What do you have to be excited about? Any good news you want to share with a friend? (Hmmm . . . maybe “news” about this super-cool blog for Gen X Parents?)


This week only we’re going to have a “spread” the word contest. In the COMMENT section, write a short note (less than 100 words) telling your friends about Gen X Parents blog and/or Generation NeXt Parenting that will be out in September.

I will award two prizes. The first will be drawn from a hat. (Yes, everyone will have a chance!) The second will be awarded for the most creative Word of Mouse. Both winners will win all three of my published novels—autographed for them or a friend.

Oh, yes, and since you already have your Word of Mouse written . . . how about sending it out? (Just a thought!)

Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who’s teeth are the whitest of all? by Cara Putman, Guest Blogger

Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who’s teeth are the whitest of all?

Do you ever look in the mirror and think, “Ack! My teeth aren’t white enough! Kelley and Joy have much whiter teeth. What do people see when I smile? Maybe I shouldn’t smile. Time to get the teeth bleached. Ack!”

Comparisons sneak up on me from so many angles. It’s hard to accept who I am. Who God created me to be. Someone is a better wife. A better mother. A better lawyer. A better employee. More involved in church. A better friend. A better servant. Even as I know someone will always be thinner, smarter, have whiter teeth, I have such a hard time stopping the comparisons.

It would be easy for me to say, what else can I do when I live in a culture and society that is so full of comparisons? A culture that assaults me with standards through every TV show, movie, and magazine. Sometimes, I feel the most threat of comparisons from within the walls of the church. That I am somehow not the Christian I’m supposed to be because I don’t work full-time. Or I’m not a full-time stay-at-home-mom. Or I’m an attorney or wanted to be a journalist. Don’t you all know that Christians, particularly women, aren’t supposed to want to be those things?

As I review this, I think you can sense the angst. And what surprised me as I compared my teeth yet again to someone else’s pearlier whites, is I really thought God had dealt with me on this. I really thought I’d made progress. Sure, I have since my highly competitive, comparative early twenties. But at thirty-two there is still a large part of me that cries to know I measure up. That I am worthy as I am.

So as I wrestle with a beast inside me that I thought had been long slain, I wonder if it will ever change. Lord, help me to align my thoughts with how You see me. May I truly pray as David did in Psalm 27:4, “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.”

I have a feeling that when I sit at His feet and bathe in light of His beauty, I will see myself as the beautiful creation He treasures, too.

Friday, May 05, 2006


I have exciting news . . . I've been asked to be one of the "Expert Moms" on

If you haven't checked out this great website, it's a must.

What this means is that will have my articles available on-line. So far I've submitted about fifty of my previously published articles and they will be post 3-4 a day until they are all up. These articles will be available when moms "search" for the topics discussed in them.

The best part is the reaches 3.5 million moms. How cool is that?!

You can check out my profile here.

Be sure to read my articles and COMMENT too!

Also, I have a new review on my book for teen moms. You can check it out here.

Fun stuff!

Born To Be My Baby, Bon Jovi

Do you feel like in your lifetime you’ve changed, oh like, 56,558 diapers? Now you can know for sure. With the Trixie Tracker baby tracking software.

The Trixie Tracker is a spin-off from The Trixie Update a dad’s blog about his daughter’s birth—started for the benefit of his working wife.

This just goes to show that EVERY child deserves his or her own place in the spotlight!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Something to Sing About--Guest Blogger

By Michelle, Gen X mom:

As a Gen-X parent I often worry about how my kids will turn out. I worked very hard to teach both of my sons how to show empathy and apologize, but sometimes you wonder if you didn't prompt your kids if they would ever spontaneously do that as needed on their own.

I have a huge praise. My oldest son (14) who is huge (6' 2") actually apologized to my husband for giving him a hard time. He did this without being asked. Now that makes me want to sing.
He's always apologized to me, but with his dad it's a new thing.

Also, my oldest is not afraid to hug me in front of anyone, including other teens. I think that's so cool. He also prefers to wear Christian tee shirts over all others. He's found his identity in Christ. Now THAT'S something to sing about. :) Just had to share that praise today. I couldn't contain it!

Check out Michelle's blog at:

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Eat It (Weird Al Yankovic)

I like things that work. In fact, nothing is as disappointing as seeing a cool advertisement, hunting down the product, taking it home and discovering that it’s “touting” is bigger than it’s “tackling.” I like things that make my life easier, not just another product that costs money, time, and space. Don’t you?

Okay, so I have to tell you about something I found to help me with dinner. (I don’t get paid to tell you about this. I just want to because finally, I found something that works for me!)

On I heard about

The jist of it is, you sign up for weekly menu mailers. Then once a week you get a week’s worth of dinner menus AND a list of all the ingredients you’ll need for it. All you need to do is print up the shopping list and the menu and take it to the store with you. For example, this week’s menu includes things like Mamma’s Schnitzel and Teriyaki Broccoli Beef. Yum.

As someone who usually waits until 4:30 p.m. to figure out “what’s for dinner,” I’ve appreciated six things.

I actually KNOW what’s for dinner.

The recipes have been easy for follow and yummy. (Okay, I have to admit, my family didn’t appreciate the homemade clam chowder as much as I did.)

I get to try new things . . . instead of cooking the same things over and over. (Or you can chose not to try them, just crossing them off before going to the store.)

I save money by NOT buying things I’ll never use . . . or by going through drive through.

You can choose from your favorite menu: Low Carb, Frugal, Crock Cooker, Regular, Vegetarian, Body Clutter (Low-Cal), Southern Hemisphere . . . and more!

It’s not very expensive when you look at the big picture. (See #4 above.) In fact, the 12 month subscription is only 8 cents a day.

Okay, that’s my plug. It works for me! (Literally.)

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Is Your Suitcase Too Full? Cara Putman, Guest Blogger

Hi! I’d like to introduce today’s guest blogger, Cara Putman—Gen X mom, writer, and attorney! Welcome Cara.

Is your suitcase too full? by Cara Putman

I know this may sound like a strange way to start a post, but bear with me a moment. Recently, my family took a quick trip to Nebraska to visit family. Four days. One in the car. Two there. One in the car back. It took more than eleven hours to get there, and by hour eight, I wondered why it was worth it.

As I packed the night before we left, I filled a suitcase and backpack for each of our children. Cute skirts and shirts for Abigail. Diapers and overalls for Jonathan. Strawberry Shortcake dolls, math books, and Dick and Jane for Abigail. Thomas the Train, cars, and coloring books for Jonathan. I filled a bag with writing books, magazines and a novel for me. Clothes and makeup in my overnight bag. A cooler filled with drinks and snacks. As I looked at all the random bags I’d assembled, I was overwhelmed. Now I knew I hadn’t packed my Bible or one of the Bible Study books I’m working through, but I waved it off. Too much stuff, not enough time.

We spend Saturday at the Nebraska spring scrimmage. Surrounded by 57,000 paying fans, we had a great time reconnecting with my Dad’s siblings and my siblings. Then on Sunday we got to celebrate my Grandma’s 80th birthday with everybody on my mom’s side of the family. We also squeezed in an Easter egg hunt and dinner with my best friends’ family. They were truly wonderful days filled with reconnecting with family and friends that are dear to us.

Even so by day four, I desperately wished I’d packed my Bible and made time to spend with God. By day four, my emotions were frayed from too much running and too little sleep. Why is it that children refuse to sleep when they are in a new environment? Every little thing grated on my nerves.

Are you like me? When you’re headed into something fun, do you pack your bags and schedule so full with good things that you decide you don’t have time or space for the best thing? This year, our family calendar is filled with four day weekends rather than a long vacation. I hope I’ve learned my lesson and that next time I’ll make sure my suitcase isn’t too full for God.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Don't You Forget About Me (Simple Minds)

When ever people meet my mom, they tell me I’m just like her. I take that as a compliment. She’s friendly, thoughtful, and cares for people. And while our talents and jobs lie in different areas, we both take joy in connecting with people.

To add to that, I call my daughter “mini-me.” (Leslie actually started calling herself that first.) We both love reading, writing, and movies. She loves being crafty and creative and is not afraid to try something new.

There are differences, of course, but many, many things that are alike. In fact, I can even go one step further and note the similarities between my grandmother and my mom. And, if I follow the influential trail, I can even connect the dots and see how my grandmother has influenced generations.

I suppose I’m figuring out what the experts have known for years.

“The relationship that a mother has with her own mother, regardless of decade of birth or generational label, clearly affects her own personal parenting style and image of herself as a mom,” say Maria T. Baily and Bonnie Ulman, author of Trillion-Dollar Moms. “In other words, mothers are constantly birthing, raising, and influencing the next generation of mothers who will, in turn, continue the cycle in the future. Decade to decade the U.S. population of mothers has impacted corporate growth, political outcomes, and cultural trends.”

So, what do you think? Can you see this influence passed down through your family? To take that one step further, which of your influences do you hope you pass on?

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