Monday, December 31, 2007

Story of hope...

I'm excited because next week I'll be flying to Chicago to work with Kristen Anderson on a book about her story of attempted suicide and the transformation that has taken place after she survived laying down in front of a train. I've talked with Kristen many times over the past few months, and I'm excited to finally meet her in person.

Last week, Kristen's story was aired on Oprah again. You can read the highlights of that here:

Please pray for me that I'll have a safe trip, that we'll have quality time together, and that everything we need to tell the story effectively will come together. Also, pray that we'll connect with the perfect publisher so that this story will reach the many, many people who need to hear this story of hope!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Things change, things stay the same

Last night we had a Christmas party with our "California friends." This is a group of people we knew in California who all live in Montana now. It all started with one family visiting this place and telling the others about it. Then, one by one, God spoke to our hearts. These families moved here, and now we all remain. We love it here, and although we sometimes don't see each other often, we all believe God brought us each to Montana for a purpose.

There were three main families there last night--and their kids, parents, friends, and married siblings who've moved up. The older kids (nine in all) have gotten married and have families of their own. That added a passel of new people. Then there were the dating couples, and the newbies they brought along. (Who may have been wondering about this crazy bunch they were getting introduced to!) What started out as a small group is now a HUGE gathering.

Some of these kids' kids I only see once a year. Last year's new babies are now toddling around. Last year's teens will soon be married. Last year's "older people" ... well, we're a little older with a few more wrinkles than before.

Last night, when I was talking with one of these friends, we realized we'd known each other for seventeen years--since my oldest son was 1-years-old. Cory is now a Senior and is looking forward to heading to college next year. We shared stories of when our kids are toddlers. I talked with one of the "older" kids who is building his own house. I reminded him of when he was eleven and he used to write a Christmas list and pass it out. But he'd not only write the items he wanted, he'd also write down where they were available, and for what price ... just to make sure we got the best deal! He laughed because although he doesn't remember that, he still does the same thing. The only difference is his lists and price comparisons today include the price of lumber, fixtures, and concrete!

Some things, like friendships and personalities, stay the same. Some things, like toddlers and tweens, don't. I've been pondering this a lot today, thinking about how short our lives really are. I mean just yesterday, it seems, I was discussing potty training with these friends ... and now we're discussing upcoming wedding plans.

All these thoughts were still on my mind this morning when I came across Psalm 90:12: "Teach us how short our lives really are so that we may be wise." The Amplified version of this says, "So teach us to number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom."

A heart of wisdom remembers that little kids grow up and will soon be raising a generation of their own.

A heart of wisdom understands that the time of our influence on young hearts and minds is short, so we need to use it well.

A heart of wisdom believes that no matter what we believe, it does no good if we do not raise our children to love God with all their hearts, minds, and souls.

A heart of wisdom knows that life is short, but God is good ... and family and friends are worth celebrating.

Next year, who knows what things will change when our "California friends" gather together. But in addition to the wrinkles and the old stories we love to retell, my prayer is that each of us will be a little more in love with God ... and the the generations that are following us will too!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

How Christians should respond to Jamie Lynn Spears and other pregnant teens …

What would you do if Jamie Lynn Spears lived next door? Would you shun her for fear that embracing her would encourage other teens to do the same? Would you try to help her? Would you approach her with a message of hope?

How should Christians, and the church, respond to a pregnant teen? Here are a few ideas:

1. Show her your love. Teen pregnancy is the perfect time to reach out to young women. They are often scared. They know people are talking about them. They know that as the months pass their “sin” will be sticking out in front of them—their belly pointing to their shame. Showing love to a young woman during this time displays the love of Jesus.

2. Spend time with her. If Jamie Lynn lived next door, I’d invite her to coffee and I’d tell her my story—of how I found Christ during my teen pregnancy. I’d also listen to her: to her worries, her concerns, her plans, and her hopes. Often during teen pregnancy a young woman loses her whole support system. More times than not, her boyfriend dumps her, her friends continue on with their lives, and there are strained relationships with her parents and other family members. Step in and be a support where others have stepped out.

3. Give her hope. Share about your personal relationship with Jesus. Tell how He’s transformed her life. Encourage her to read her Bible. Tell her how she can start a relationship with Jesus by accepting, believing, and confessing. Teen pregnancy shows that girls are looking for love … and we can show them where true love is found.

4. Encourage her to speak out to other teens. We shouldn’t be shocked when the media sells sex and then kids buy into it, yet there is a voice of reason … from the young woman living through the consequences. Encourage the pregnant teen to share her story with other teens in an effort to help them make better choices.

5. Give her a baby shower and celebrate life. Even though we should not celebrate teens having sex before marriage, we SHOULD celebrate life. If a young woman chooses life instead of an abortion, we should applaud this fact. We should do what we can to support her decision with material items, with educational support, and with physical help, such as rides to the doctor and to school.

6. Help her to find support from others who understand. Create support group for teen moms. You can find out more information about creating a Teen MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) support group by going to

7. Advise her on how to make better decisions in her future. My Life, Unscripted (Thomas Nelson) is a book for teen girls, encouraging them to script their lives instead of being caught up in the drama and emotions of the moment.

I had my son at age 17, and the women from my grandmother’s church reached out to me. Because of their love, I found Christ. Pregnancy often becomes a time when teens are looking for help and hope.

We can SUPPORT teen moms just as Jesus would. We can share His love without spreading the message that it's okay to have sex outside of marriage. Christians and the church can love people despite their unwise choices ... just like Jesus did.
Know a teen mom? Tricia Goyer has written: Life Interrupted: The Scoop on Being Young Mom (Zondervan)

Tricia Goyer writes articles for national publications such as Focus on the Family and is a columnist for teen moms through MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International: (

She is also an author of the parenting book: Generation NeXt Parenting (Multnomah), which speaks to parents about the unique parenting challenges and issues of our generation.

For more information, go to:

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Babies, Tattoos and Bethlehem

Lask week John and I took dinner to a couple from our small group named Casey and Allyson. You see, this awesome couple welcomed little, adorable Elaina Grace into their family last week. I had to smile at the first email I received from Allyson after Elaina's birth. After 12-hours in labor, followed by a c-section, Allyson was giddy. "Casey and I are in love. She is a miracle. She is perfect."

Because I have a nasty head cold I didn't want to hold Elaina, but I watched as Allyson cuddled her daughter, stroking her cheek, her face, her hair. These thoughts were still on my mind as I read Isaiah 49:15-16 one morning last week, "[And the Lord answered] Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yes, they may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have indelibly imprinted (tattooed a picture of) you on my hands."

Seeing Allyson with Elaina ... well, I couldn't imagine her turning her back of her baby and not having compassion on her girl. That makes me marvel even more to consider God's love for me ... and you. Here's something else I read this morning, it's a quote from Max Lucado's book A Gentle Thunder.

"If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If he had a wallet, your photo would be in it. He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning. Whenever you want to talk, he'll listen. He can live anywhere in the universe, and he chose your heart. And the Christmas gift he sent you in Bethlehem? Face it, friend. He's crazy about you."

God is crazy about you. God loves you. In fact, after Christmas if someone asks you what the best gift you received was, you can answer. "It's a gift via Bethlehem, something I couldn't live without. Not only that, my true love tattooed me on His hands ... He's crazy about me!"

I wonder what type of response you'll get from that.

Friday, December 21, 2007

My Favorite Gift!

What is your favorite, most meaningful Christmas gift ever? (Not counting the birth of Jesus, of course, which is the best ever!)

Here is mine:

Last Christmas I received a special scrapbook. It was mostly pictures, but it did include some very special words such as "We love you", "Our family tree", "Look-alikes", and "Sister."

This scrapbook was created by my FOUR sisters that I met for the very first time last year. I didn't know my biological dad growing up, and for many years I didn't know my sisters. Thankfully, they found out and contacted me. They are ages 25-34. (Sis, is that right?!)

I love them. I love knowing my family tree. And we DO look alike. I grew up with one younger brother, and used to think it was silly how women when ga-ga over their sisters. Now I completely understand.

I will treasure that scrapbook forever!

So what was your favorite, most meaningful Christmas gift ever?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Talking to your kids about Jamie Lynn Spears

Jamie Lynn Spears pregnancy provides a teaching moment for parents

What’s that sound chiming louder than Christmas carols playing over department store speakers? The buzz over the fact that Jamie Lynn Spears, sister of Britney and star of Zoey 101, is pregnant at 16-years-old. For parents, Jamie Lynn’s pregnancy provides a teachable moment to talk with their kids about sex, love, and teen pregnancy.
Forget the 12 Days of Christmas, here are the “12 Topics of Sex” each parent should discuss:

1. Love is not sex. Going “all the way” with someone doesn’t prove your love. True love is shown through life-long commitment and by valuing the other person. You are the one responsible for setting sexual limits on a relationship. If you feel you have to have sex to prove your love or to stay in a relationship, then it isn’t a healthy relationship. Sex won’t make him yours. A baby won’t make him stay.

2. It can happen to you. Having sex, even so called “protected” sex, can lead to pregnancy. According to, Jamie Lynn told reporters: “It was a shock for both of us, so unexpected. I was in complete and total shock and so was he.” If you are having sex, you can get pregnant—no shocker there. The only way to 100% prevent pregnancy is to not have sex.

3. Even “good girls” get pregnant. Jamie’s mom Lynne Spears is quoted as saying: “I didn't believe it because Jamie Lynn's always been so conscientious. She's never late for her curfew. I was in shock. I mean, this is my 16-year-old baby.” Having a good report card, being a good person, or being conscientious will not protect you from pregnancy. According to, 1 in 3 young women get pregnant at least once before they turn 20—good girls included.

4. Most teens wished they had waited. Sex before marriage can not only lead to pregnancy, but there are other health concerns, such as STDs. There is also emotional baggage. God created two people to be bonded for life. According to, 60% of teens “wished they had waited longer” to have sex … including Jamie Lynn.
“I definitely don't think it's something you should do; it's better to wait,” she told [OK!] magazine. “But I can't be judgmental because it's a position I put myself in.”

5. Dating someone older raises your chances of getting pregnant. Jamie Lynn is 16 and her boyfriend is 19. Dating someone 2-3 years older often leads teens to make adult choices before they’re ready.

6. Consider the advice you’re getting … and who you’re getting it from. Your boyfriend or girlfriend wants you to go all the way, because of what they get out of it. Parents, youth leaders, and pastors give you advice to stay abstinent because they know the consequences. They tell you that God’s plan for sex is within marriage not to stop you from having fun, but because they understand (and often have faced) the consequences.

7. Each of us has to plan our actions BEFORE the situation arises. Set boundaries, and don’t put yourself in situations that will cause you to compromise those decisions. Make good plans for your future and stick to your goals. Think ahead instead of being caught up in the emotions of the moment.

8. Not everyone is doing it. Some are. Some aren’t. Don’t try to fit in by giving in.

9. We are role models, whether we like it or not. As an actor for Zoey 101, Jamie Lynn is a role model to millions of young girls. Each of us are role models for those around us, including classmates and younger siblings.

10. We are created as sexual beings, but the right time (after marriage), with the right person (our spouse) is key. Premarital sex may seem glamorous in movies and on TV, but there are consequences. Not only are teenagers lives changed because of pregnancy, there is also a child who will be raised by someone who isn’t mentally and emotionally prepared to be a parent.

11. The media is full of wrong messages. The media (television, radio, movies, music videos, magazines, the Internet) are chock full of material sending the wrong messages. Just because we see everyone in Hollywood having sex and having babies, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. Babies are a responsibility, not a fashion accessory.

12. You can say “no” even if you’ve said “yes” before. Today you can make the right choice and choose abstinence!

It’s also important for parents to open up a two way conversation, not a one-way lecture. Parents can do this by turning the above topics into questions such as: What are your boundaries? Do you think sex proves you love someone? What do you think of the messages media gives out?

Need help talking to your teens? My Life, Unscripted (Thomas Nelson) is a book for teen girls, encouraging them to script their lives instead of being caught up in the drama and emotions of the moment.

A former teen mom, Tricia Goyer is also the author of Life Interrupted: The Scoop on Being a Young Mom

Tricia Goyer writes articles for national publications such as Focus on the Family and is a columnist for teen moms through MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International: (

She is also an author of the parenting book: Generation NeXt Parenting (Multnomah), which speaks to parents about the unique parenting challenges and issues of our generation.

For more information, go to:

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


This is a very serious message!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Guest Blogger...Cara Putnam

Expect the Expenses!

The Washington Post had an article on line this weekend titled Expecting the Expenses. The bottom-line of the article was that expecting parents should engage in some financial planning so they aren’t surprised by all the costs associated with having children.
Now that I’m expecting again, I’ll admit there are times that those thoughts run through my mind. Current estimates suggest that the cost of raising a child to the age of 18 is over $350,000, though it varies by region on the country.

Baby Center .com contains a cost of child calculator that takes into account regional costs. According to that calculator the cost of my daughter is $321,000, my son will cost $322,000, and our yet to be born baby will cost the same, $322,000.

Some steps that were recommended by the Washington Post article, I highly recommend as an attorney. Make sure you have a will that outlines who will become guardian of your children in the event something happens to both parents. While these situations are very rare, I firmly believe it is a part of our role as parents and stewards of our children to sit down and prayerfully consider who should serve as guardian. And it may not always be a relative, but if you decide now and explain to your family your reasoning, it will simplify matters immensely in the event guardianship is needed.

Part of that will should also include a trust setting up some basic (or more detailed depending on your resources) financial planning in the event something happens to both parents. As an attorney, I highly recommend you have an attorney create these documents for you so they can walk you through the process and ensure the documents comply with your state laws.

While as an academic exercise these calculators and decisions are interesting or terrifying depending on the day…they miss the keys. Here are just a few of the things I receive from my children that more than compensate for the tangible costs:

* Love in abundance…the random instances several times most days when my kids run up to me and tell me they love for no apparent reason at all.
* Joy…we often joke that we don’t need cable now that we have children. The way the play and entertain us is down right funny most days.
* A reason to fight hard for their best…I’m now living for so much more than me, and I will fight hard to ensure that they get the best for them. That doesn’t mean they’ll get identical experiences or lives. They are unique individuals after all, but I will do everything in my power to ensure they get a good grounding and the experiences to develop the talents and gifts God has planted in them.
* I could add to this list, and I know you have different items.

What have your children added to your lives that can’t be counted in tangible calculators?

Cara Putman

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Cards...

One of my favorite things about Christmas is the Christmas cards.

I LOVE connecting with friends, seeing photograph of families, and hearing where God is leading hearts. Today I got a letter from my friends Sandy and Gloria and read news that they are going to be missionaries in Peru! I also received a card from Hope Pregnancy Center (which I helped start), sharing the story of Lynette--one of my friends--and the adoption of a new baby girl, Hope. I received another card from Life Way Pregnancy Services (which I spoke at last year) and inside the card it lists over 100 names of babies born within their center! Finally, I got an adorable Christmas newsletter from my writer friend Tonya Ruiz Tonya's Christmas letters get better every year. This year she set it up as a TV Guide Breaking News with The Honeymooners (a wedding), The Wingo Bunch (daughter's family w/grandchildren), The Odd Couple (two teen sons), and I Love Tonya (her romance.) How creative is that?

The coolest part about Christmas cards is seeing God at work--in hearts, in lives, in families. I can't wait to check the mail tomorrow to see what's there! Also, I sent my first batch of cards out today ... Here's an early peek at the Goyer Christmas letter written by my son Nathan.

A Story from Jake:
A different type of “what’s happening with us” Christmas letter:
(written by Nathan, age 13)

Hiya! I’m Jake the dog. I am one-years-old. I want to tell you about my life and my new home …

It all started last November when I was born. There were a lot of puppies like me. We played all the time! We lived happily with our mother Maisey. Everything was great!

Then one by one the other puppies began disappearing. I was so sad. Every now and then someone would pick me up and hold me. Then they would ask lots questions, as if they were going to take me too! I was very scared. I was even snuck away back to a teen girl’s house! But they gave me back. Whew!

Then … a lady and a teen boy and a teen girl came. They took me away. Mommy!

I was very, very scared—going away from everything I knew. When we got back to their house I tried to make them take me back to Maisey by leaving little surprises everywhere, but they still kept me! (Are these people crazy or what?!) I didn’t know what to do!

After a while, I began to grow fond of these new people. I’ll tell you about them. (I’ll go from oldest to youngest.)

First, there was the oldest lady they all called Grandma. I don’t see her much because she has her own room, and she doesn’t like me leaving surprises in there for her. Grandma comes out to eat, to clean, to watch a movie … Or to scold me for getting into the garbage. (Hey, I can’t help myself. It smells sooooo good!)

And then there’s the alpha-dog. The leader of our pack. They call him John or Dad. I like him, but he’s the toughest on me. I guess that’s a good thing because it teaches me to be good … or else (gulp). He goes to “work” and does “WOW” (children’s church).

Then there’s my new mommy. (The alpha dog calls her Tricia.) She’s really nice to me, so in return I sleep on her feet to keep them warm. She sits in front of a glowing screen and moves her fingers all day. I’m not sure what she’s doing, but about every once in a while boxes show up at the door with something she calls “books.” Different ones show up all the time. She likes that. I like chasing the big, brown truck that delivers them!

Then there’s the (newly adult) boy. I don’t see him much either. He leaves every day saying things like “work,” “school,” “basketball,” “Canada.” (They call him Cory.) He “pluck-plucks” on an object he holds that makes music (guitar). He finishes his “school” this year and goes to something called “college” next year.

Then there’s the teen girl, Leslie. She is around a lot. Mostly she’s typing on the flat box thing that goes “click” “click” and staring at a flat screen (computer). She also “click-clicks” on a big box that makes music (piano) and a little machine that rings (cell phone). And “plucks-plucks” on an object she holds that also makes music. I guess it sounds pretty good. She also does something called “basketball.” Her team has been the best in the state for three years. They don’t let me go watch … not fair!

At last there’s the youngest boy. He likes doing science experiments. He likes the flat box and screen, too. He’s the one who teaches me tricks like: “sit,” “lay down,” and “play road kill.” He rubs my belly when I get the last one right by sticking my feet in the air. His name is Nathan.

I’ve decided that since I had to leave my mom Maisey, this wasn’t a bad place to go.
Merry Christmas! Jesus is the reason for the season! I hope you have tons of surprises under the Christmas tree … not the puppy kind, but the real, happy, non-stinky kind!

From the Goyer family and their little black doggy Jake!

P.S. To read non-doggified updates on our family check out and

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Gift of Restoration by Rachel Thoene

When I was but a wee child, I had many opportunities to travel with my dad’s folks, Nonnie and Papa, on trips to the coast with their house trailer.

My Nonnie was religious about packing sandwiches, fresh home made cookies and fruit for the trip. She wrapped the cookies and sandwiches in wax paper… this was before the days of juice boxes and Lunchables… and the whole picnic was packed neatly into one or two sturdy shoe boxes for the trip. A thermos of coffee for she and Papa and one of milk for me. The trip to the coast was only about two and a half hours long, but about half way there, Papa would slow the rig to a wide spot in the road and we would have a “picnic” together before continuing on our way to the ocean.

I was asked to contribute some thoughts on the gift of God’s restoration vs. life’s destination.

As I mulled a few thoughts over, it occurred to me that Nonnie’s “shoe box lunches” were a lot like God’s gift of restoration… Sure we had a destination in mind. It was exciting to get out of the valley and go spend time at the ocean with the sand and the waves and time all to myself with my Nonnie and Papa collecting shells… but the picnic lunch on the side of the road DURING the trip restored us and provided a brief respite in our journey.

Lately, my heart has been troubled and anxious as I have been caring for a friend with a very serious cancer. And I have found myself, head down, walking my campus during the day at work, talking to God about her condition and the outcome of all of this agony…And as I have conversed with Him on these strolls, I have picked up an amazing number of Pennies… every day… pennies… sometimes it’s only one or two, sometimes I’ve found 12 or more… but every day…pennies. And the curious thing is that every single one of those pennies says, “In God we Trust.” And I pick them up, put them in my pocket and say, “Thank you Lord. We are blessed today and we are whole, healthy, healed and restored…”

I believe that my friend is going to be well at the end of all of this, because God reminds me daily through those pennies to TRUST HIM”. And every penny draws me closer to Him so that I am focusing now on the moment and my conversation with Him, daily being restored in my faith and claiming her healing and I’m not any longer worrying about the destination or when we’re going to get there, because we have been given THIS MOMENT and in THIS Moment, I’m going to just pull my rig to the side of the road and have a picnic with Him in my heart.

Rachel Thoene is the author of The Vase Of Many Colors (Capstone Books, 2007)
For more information visit

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Give Great Books!

Finish your holiday shopping in minutes!

I'm offering any of my books signed, gift wrapped, and shipped for $15 each (parcel post) or $18 each (priority)! You can pay via paypal ( or check!

The books will be mailed the day after your order. (Disclaimer: I will not guarantee holiday delivery on parcel post orders placed after December 18th. Or priority orders placed after December 20st.)

One Cool Christmas Give Away

Do you want to win some FREE stuff and check out some awesome blogs?

Check out Lyssa's One Cool Christmas Give Away!

Lyssa is giving away all this great stuff on her blog in the month of December...check Lyssa's blog each day and see what's the day's give-aways are!

Here is the schedule for the upcoming days:

Tuesday 12-11:
Renee Swope is giving away a Point of Grace's newest CD "How You Live" along with an autographed photo they gave me on our cruise to give to you!

A signed copy of God's Purpose for Every Woman devotional book
My 2-session Women's Conference DVD entitled, "Living and Leaving a Legacy."

Wednesday 12-12:
Two Winner Day at Rachel Olson's blog
First : Micca Campbell poem
Second : Rachel Olsen an autographed copy of our new P31 devotional book God’s Purpose for Every Woman. Starbucks Card

Thursday 12-13:
Van Walton and Marybeth Whalen
For Mom: Marybeth’s Christmas E-book
For Kids: Van’s keep the kids entertained pack Christmas Stocking full of happy Christmas activities and ideas for moms to share with her children. Van’s giveaway will include her popular children’s DVD, From the Pound to the Palace.

Friday 12-14:
Karen Ehman
The Complete Guide to Getting and Staying Organized book and a Starbucks gift card

Saturday 12-15 through Sunday 12-16:
Sandra Aldrich
She's giving away one copy of each of her books AND a $25 Wal-Mart card! Wow

Monday, 12-17:
Two Winner Day-

Glynnis Whitwer is giving away a set of decorative files of your choice to help you jump-start your New Year’s organization resolutions.

Tracie Miles is giving away one of her books and the CD of the speaking session that goes with it

Tuesday, 12-18:
One winner will get:
Dena Dyer a copy of The Groovy Chicks' Road Trip to Love, my latest book, on your blog. I can package it with two other items: a purple and green wooden sign that says "Groovy!" and a craft kit that would be fun to do with kids.

A second winner will get:
Yvonne Ortega
Hope for the Journey through Cancer book and Starbucks Certificate

Wednesday, 12-19:
Two Winners Day-
One - Suzie Eller Books: Real Issues, Real Teens: What Every Parent Needs to Know book (for mom) and Making It Real: Whose Faith Is It Anyway? (for their teen), along with some fun munchies. blog for teens

Two- Martha Bolton a four book autographed gift set and $10 Starbucks gift card. The books would be:

Thursday, 12-20:
Tricia Goyer
Four WWII fiction novels.
Starbucks card

Friday, 12-21:
Sharon Hoffman
An "It's All About Me" gift basket full of a book of mine, bubble bath, lotion, and a the gal who wins can have an hour or half hour or even a five minute relaxing time alone where it's all about her!

Saturday, 12-22:
Lelia Chealey $100.00 gift certificate to BeautiControl and poem

Okay...scoot on over to Lyssa's blog and check it out!

Good Luck!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Santa Claus is Coming to Town...

My friend, Karen Ball, revised Winter Wonderland to put the Christ back into Christmas. You can read the lyrics here:

Not knowing that song revision was the newest thing, my son, Nathan, revised "Santa Claus is Coming to Town."

He sang it one day when he was making lunch. Mom overheard him and ... guess what?! The next day our homeschool group sang it in front of our church's Senior Luncheon. The seniors LOVED it. Now ... the kids have been asked to sing it before the church on our Christmas Eve service. (We'll see about that!)

New words to "Santa Claus is Coming to Town."
Written by Nathan Goyer age 13

You better reach out,
You better not lie,
You better start pray-ing, I'm telling you why.
Jesus Christ is coming to town.

He gave us gift,
We threw it down,
Time to give Jesus back his crown.
Jesus Christ is coming to town.

He loves you when you're sleeping.
He loves when you're awake.
He loves when you've been bad or good,
But be good for JESUS sake!

You better reach out,
You better not lie,
You better start pray-ing, I'm telling you why.
Jesus Christ is coming,
Jesus Christ is coming,
Jesus Christ is coming to town!


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Shootings: What next?

Guest Blogger, Cara Putman

I’ve spent much of the last week shaking my head and asking God what’s going on? First, there was the shooting at Westroads Mall in Omaha, Nebraska, last Wednesday. A highly troubled teen decided it was okay to take a gun into a Von Maur and open fire, killing 8 and himself.

Then Sunday morning I saw that a Youth With a Mission center outside of Denver, Colorado, had been attacked. At that time, the headlines said that four had been shot. Now we know that two were killed.

Then Sunday late afternoon, the headlines started flowing with details of a shooting at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. As I write this, nobody is saying the YWAM and New Life shootings are connected, though there’s a sense that people desperately want them to be. Somehow it makes the tragedies easier to bear if one person or a small group was responsible for those two events rather than two separate individuals getting similar, horrific ideas in the same short period of time.

Westroads reopened on Saturday, and as far as I could tell on Monday morning, Von Maur remains closed. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shopped in Westroads. When I lived in Lincoln and had family living in Omaha, it wasn’t unusual at all to run up the Interstate to Omaha to shop there.

Omaha is the heartland. Colorado Springs is an amazing city, one of the few that Eric and I talk about moving to with big grins on our faces. It has so much to offer, and yet remains a small city.

These shootings demonstrate once again, that senseless violence can occur anywhere.

We’re at a university development conference in Chicago with colleges from around the Midwest. Sunday some were talking about whether these shootings would lower thresholds and make the unacceptable acceptable in people’s minds. Is the day coming when we’ll enter shopping malls through metal detectors? I don’t know.

But as I thought about it I remembered that church shooting in Fort Wayne back in September 1999. That shooting was shocking as seven victims died during the youth service shooting. A pipe bomb was also used, though it had little effect, just as smoke machines seem to have been planted at New Life.

So as my heart breaks for these families, and as I ask God why He allows these attacks on His children, I also pray that somehow He will reveal His glory and His goodness in the midst of senseless tragedy.He is the only one who can turn the horrible deeds of this world into something beautiful.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Five Ways to Engage Disengaged Kids

By Mary E. DeMuth

In a world of Halo, iphones, and IM, how do parents strategically engage their tuned-out kids? How can we create the kinds of homes that are irresistible to our children, enticing enough to make them tune out from games, media and texting and tune in to the rhythms of family life? Five ways.

One: Offer ‘em Something Better

The most enticing thing to a kid is community—real, authentic, God-breathed community. To create this, learn to do the following:

Say you’re sorry when you’re wrong and ask forgiveness.

Strive to become the person you want your child to become. Practice reconciliation, open communication, and serving each other.

Listen, really listen to your kids. Give them eye-time. Don’t uh-huh their concerns, but strive to ask great questions to draw them out. Be willing to share your own struggles with your kids.

Plan meal times together. And when you do, talk! One way to foster great communication is to have questions already prepared.

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Have an unplug day—no phones, TV, gaming systems, and return to old fashioned board games, taking walks outside, and reading together.

Resist DVDs in the minivan. Try books on tape instead—a wonderful way to engage your child’s mind. Discuss the book afterward.

Welcome others into your home. Be the house all the kids want to congregate in.

Two: If You Can’t Beat ‘em, Join ‘em

Our kids will see movies; they will watch TV shows. Instead of always pushing against that, sit down next to your child and watch shows and movies together. Then use the time afterwards to discuss these questions:

What is the worldview of this movie?
What kind of person is the main character? Is she someone you want to be like?
What lies does this movie perpetuate?
What does this show say about materialism?
What part of this movie showed God’s love?

Strategically engaging alongside our kids in the very thing we’re leery of does two things: It shows our kids we are willing to sacrifice our own desires to spend time with them. And it helps prepare them to better discern the movies and media they watch.

Three: Explore Different Ways to Celebrate Sabbath

Taking time away from the crazy rush-rush of a media saturated world is a counter-cultural move your family can take. Choose a day or afternoon for rest. Limit media that day. Choose to engage in artistic, creative endeavors together:

~If a child loves music, encourage him to write a song or create an unusual soundtrack.
~Supply kids with all sorts of visual arts tools: paint, brushes, magazines, pens, glue, and let them create. If you need focus, think of five families or friends who need to be encouraged, then create cards for each one.
~Let your kids have free reign of the video camera. Encourage them to make a movie. Then watch it together as a family, complete with popcorn.
~Pull out that karaoke machine.
~Read together.
~Do a puzzle or play board games.

Four: Go Outside

We are a disconnected culture, defining ourselves by the great indoors and cyberworlds. To combat that in your family, dare to open the front door and walk on out. Take strolls with your kids. Find a local park or wilderness preserve to poke around in. Hike together. Feed the ducks. Launch rockets. Play Frisbee. Kick the ball around. Ride bikes. Pick up garbage along the road. Skateboard. Make going outside as much of a habit as going outside.

Five: Focus Outward

Computers and movies and TV and phones focus us inward. Instead, seek to find ways to focus your family outward toward the needs of the world. Sponsor a child in a third world country. Go on a mission trip as a family and take a year together to plan it. Find a cause to support—like digging wells in Africa or alleviating AIDS. Volunteer at a nursing home. Muddying our feet and hands in the real needs of the world gives kids a greater picture of the world and pulls them away from the artificial, often narcissistic world they live in.

It is possible to re-engage your disengaged child. It takes effort, creativity and pluck, but it can be done. The reward? A rejuvenated, connected relationship with your child that no gadget can compare to.


One of the questions author Mary DeMuth (Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture) gets asked in radio interviews is this: What can a parent do to help kids filter their media intake? Her answer: Strategically engage. The following is five ways to help re-engage your kids in a media-saturated culture.

Bio: Mary E. DeMuth loves to help folks turn their trials into triumphs. Her books include Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God (Harvest House, 2005), Building the Christian Family You Never Had (WaterBrook, 2006), Watching the Tree Limbs, Wishing on Dandelions (NavPress, 2006), and Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture (Harvest House 2007). A mother of three, Mary lives with her husband Patrick and their three children in Texas. They recently returned from Southern France where they planted a church. Learn more at

Friday, December 07, 2007

What if she'd said NO?

Last weekend we put out a new nativity set that my Grandma purchased for us for our Christmas gift this year. It's a beautiful set, and I love that it's the centerpiece of my dining room. Of course, I had to pause as I was setting up beautiful Mary. In fact, it made me think, "What if she'd said no?"

This morning this thought came to me again as I was reading Called and Accountable by Henry and Norman Blackaby. Here is what they had to say:

"One of the most significant illustrations of hearing and responding to God is found in the life of Mary, Jesus' mother. God's eternal purpose was to bring a Savior into the world, and through that Savior to bring his His great salvation to every person. He found the one through whom He would choose to work--Mary, a quiet servant girl. An angel from God announced God's purpose through her. Then came her amazing and wonderful response: "'Behold a maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.' And the angel departed from her" (Luke 1:38). And God did what He said He would do! Impossible to man, but possible with God (Luke 1:37)." p. 19

It made me stop to think about how willing I am to follow what God has asked me to do. Do I always respond like Mary. No. Are there things He's asked me to do that I haven't followed through with yet? Yes.

Often, I ask God to lead me to new places so I can reach new people, and sometimes I wonder if He's waiting. Waiting for me to finish the assignments He's giving me. Waiting for me to say yes to all He's already asked.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Prince Caspian!

Narnia 2...

Check out the trailier just released for Prince Caspian--

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Thoughts on Basketball and the Bible...

Basketball season is here! Go Crusaders! What does this mean? Well, almost every weekend between now and February 15th (except for the weekend before Christmas), we'll be watching Cory and Leslie play basketball.

Last Friday and Saturday we watched four great games! My kids played awesome, and we had some wins. (Okay, our girls' team is 34-0 ... they haven't lost in a few years, but as I remind my daughter we need to watch out that pride doesn't creep into our hearts! What they accomplish is only through God's strength.) The cool thing is that both our kids are playing better than ever, and we've really seen an improvement over the past few years.

The hard thing about basketball season is that we travel all over the state because we're part of the Christian school/homeschool league. It's not uncommon to travel 4-5 hours for 1-2 games!

The fun thing about basketball season is that we're together as a family. We ride together, eat together, stay in the same hotel room (I was told I snore!), and we enjoy hanging out. It's also fun to hang out with the other families. We're blessed to enjoy the good people who have the same family goals we do ... which is to focus on Christian character and have fun in the process.

I spend time before games, after games, meals, etc. chatting with some of the other moms. Some of them recently started reading my novels, which is fun. They love asking me questions about research, and they are eager to hear the "true stories" behind the novels.

This came to mind this morning when I was reading Called and Accountable by Henry and Norman Blackaby. Because our kids our on the same team, because we spend hours and hours and hours together every weekend, I'm able to give these people the inside scoop. Not every reader is so privileged. Most people just have to guess at which parts are true, or read my blog for some of the "true stories" I post every now or then.

I'm so glad that no matter who we are, or where we live, or if we have kids playing basketball or not, we ALWAYS have the Author of the Holy Bible to meet with us as we read His word. The Blackabys write, "As a person approaches the Bible and opens its pages, he or she comes face to face with the Author--God! The Holy Spirit is present to open the mind and heart of the child of God to an immediate Word from God for his or her life (John 14:16-17; John 16:13-15; 1 Corinthians 2:10-16). Without this commitment to encounter God in His Word, one is left to human reasoning alone--something that will never lead to God or an understanding of His Word." p. 13

Human reason will never lead to God or an understanding of His Word. And I'm so thankful that when I open my Bible and pray for God to meet me, the Holy Spirit is quick to connect God's Word to a truth that will impact my life in a real way. He will never not show up when I ask!

So, I'm sorry dear friend, if you're not traveling with the Crusaders I most like won't have time to sit down with you and explain all the research behind my books. But ... I know an Author who is eager to meet you anytime, any place, to share His story with you in a real and personal way!

(P.S. And if you don't know this Author and want to know how ... email me at: I'd love to share how you can meet Him for real!)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Guest Blogger...Cara Putnam

Saturday was my very first book-signing. Yeah! I was so tickled as so many friends made the effort to come by. Here I am signing a book for my friend Heather Corbin. She was one of the gals in a Bible study two years ago that I dared to risk this dream, too. That group of gals prayed for me and supported me. I am still amazed that nobody laughed at this dream of getting a book published. God is so good.

God is so good. Colleen and I kept marveling about how quickly this dream has come to fruition. And I have no doubt in my mind, that she has played a pivotal role in that. I was so THRILLED that she made the effort to be part of this signing. She has literally served as the midwife to this dream, and what I love is that she's not done yet. We've got a wonderful friendship in addition to the mentoring she pours into me. What can I say....God is so good!

One thing that Eric and I have commented on is how non-competitive this field is. That has been one of the biggest surprises and blessings. Denise has been a huge part of making it feel non-competitive. She has such a delightful smile and sweet spirit. And if you love romance and haven't purchased Surrender Bay yet, do it! It's wonderful. As Colleen likes to say, it's on par with Francine Rivers Redeeming Love.

Vicky G. is the book manager at Carpenter's Son and one of my biggest cheerleaders. She believes in me even on the days I begin to doubt. And she loves to hear the progress reports on the doors God is opening. We have talked about this book-signing for months. And did I mention we sold out! 100 books bought and signed. Woohoo!

It was also a delight to meet Jamie Carie for the first time. What a gorgeous, classy lady. And my good friend Brandt Dodson also made the long drive up from Evansville even with questionable weather in the forecast. It was so fun to be able to point people to his great PI stories while he's standing there.

Cara C. Putman
Canteen Dreams -- October 2007; Sandhill Dreams -- May 2008 and Captive Dreams -- September 2008 (Heartsong Presents) Deadly Exposure -- June 2008 (LI Suspense) Craftie Ladies of Suspense
Original Writer for Jake Tremaine at Scenes & Beans:

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Christmas Spirit

Despite having to watch out for ice on the side walks, ice on the road, ice on my nose (okay, I had to rhyme!), there are some very cool things about this season.

For example, yesterday I was shopping at Wal-mart. I was in the board game section picking out new games for my two "grandkids." MaKayla and Audrie-Onna are 6 and 3. They are the kids of Kayleigh, former teen mom and my adopted daughter. Every Sunday they come over after church and guess what they want to do? Play MEMORY. (You know the game in which you flip over cards for matches?) We play this 4-5 times every Sunday and I ALWAYS lose! So, I decided to get some new games like Candyland and Hi-Ho Cherrio. Maybe they'll like those as much as MEMORY. Maybe I'll have a chance to win :-)

Anyway, that was a complete rabbit trail to tell you that while I was in the board game section there was Christmas music playing ... and I got to sing along as they sang about JESUS. That is one very cool thing about the holidays.

Another cool thing is what people call "holiday spirit," which is another way to say that everyone is on their best behavior. They smile. They say, "Merry Christmas." They give more. Love more. Think of others more than other times of the year.

I've been thinking about this lately--this whole thing about being on our best behavior. Let me tell you why.

On Monday nights we have small group at our house. It's just five couples--all friends--who get together to study the Bible, watch Bible-based DVDs, and talk about life. We have varied and interesting talks that are really fun and engaging. This Monday we watched a video from the Institute of Creation Research. We're a pro-creation group and we had some good discussion.

I have to admit I'm not a big "science" person. Give me the tiniest bit of opportunity to marvel at what God has created and I'll do it. I'm just not big into have to know all the "whys" and "hows" behind it. It works. It's intricately designed. Hallelujah!

But there was something that really stood out to me, and that was how some people believe EVERYTHING was created from NOTHING. It's crazy enough to think about the flowers, birds, trees, and people coming from nothing. But then on the video the guy also talked about something else. If EVERYTHING came from NOTHING that means everything--our personalities, the knowledge of good and evil, our morals, our abilities, literature, music, dance, art ... did too. If everything created came from nothing (which I don't believe) then those intangible things did too. Which when you think about literature, master plots, master characters, the character's journey, and how we "expect" things from books naturally, then it's crazy to think that somehow that is "in there, in all of us" too.

Which brings me back to Christmas. I was reading in Ladies' Home Journal, December 2007, and the article was called Have Heart. The subtitle is: At this time of year we are asked again (and again) to be generous and giving. Choose wisely and you'll be blessed with less stress, better health and a feel-good "helper's high."

Here is a quote from that article. It's quoting Christopher Peterson, Ph.D., coauthor of Character Strengths and Virtues: "Being generous is simply being true to our inherent nature, which is deeply social." The author of the article Margaret Renkl goes on to say, "Biologically speaking, we are social animals--naked, fangless creatures who are cooperate in procuring food, carry our young in our arms and sleep cuddled up to one another. We need other humans for survival, so we are programmed to be concerned for the welfare of our tribe. If we genuinely apprehend another person's need, we happily write checks for hurricane relief, ladle soup at a homeless shelter, take supper to a shut-in, lend a sympathetic ear to a friend in the midst of divorce, bake cookies for the PTA. Sure, these acts sometimes arise more our of good manners or a sense of obligation than pure generosity. But whether we give because we sincerely want to or because we think we should doesn't much matter. What matters is that we feel compelled: Even if we aren't conscious of it, at some atavistic level we understand that the well-being of others affects our own well-being."

The author continues:

"Evidence suggests that this impulse to give aid and comfort arises out of our very DNA. In fact, so many studies in psychology, sociology and biology have corroborated this hypothesis ..."

The author goes on to talk about how giving gives us a helper's high, lowers stress hormones, strengthens our immune systems, and gives us a longer life. And the author says that once you start such "acts of grace" the response you get from others--a smile, a thank you, etc. will reinforce the habit of generosity.

Personally, I believe our personality, our care for others, our "knowing" that giving is good, our "feeling" that right is ... uh, right ... is as wonderful to marvel over as the complexity of the single cell.

The "Christmas spirit" it's a cool thing to behold. But it's an even cooler thing to realize the Creative Spirit of God behind it.

So ... what do you think about that?

The spirit of Christmas needs to superseded by the Spirit of Christ. The spirit of Christmas is annual; the Spirit of Christ is eternal. The spirit of Christmas is sentimental; the Spirit of Christ is supernatural. The spirit of Christmas is a human product; the Spirit of Christmas is a divine person. That makes all the difference in the world.
~~Stuart Briscoe,

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