Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday Flashback!

It was love at first sight. Both John and I are in this photo! Can you spot us?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tis the Season: a NEED or a WANT?

Distinguish Between a Want and Need

It’s easy to create a list of things we’d all like to have, but it’s important for kids to distinguish true needs. Start a conversation by asking, “If you were on a deserted island, what things would you need to have with you?” Kids might start their list with video games or their favorite music, but you can talk to them about food, water, shelter, family, and even God’s Word to help your kids understand the reality of what things we need and what things we can live without.

Continuing series on Contentment this holiday season!

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tis’ the Season to be Content

As we come into the holiday season this year, I'm getting a head start.

I have to admit the bling and sparkle of Christmas-buying-mania drives me crazy. I snarl at commercials promoting new toys. I gulp at long wish lists and enormous price tags. But what bothers me most is the discontentment “needing that thing” brings. And I’m not the only parent who struggles.

“My dad rarely paid child support, and my mom had a hard time working with five children. We never ate out, never drank soda. We had hand-me-down clothes, cheap shoes, and no name brand anything. Though I struggle to make ends meet at times, I find myself wanting to give my kids what I never had,” confessed my friend Michelle from Ohio. “Still, I try to instill the value of a dollar in them and teach them to be content.”

The good news is that, like Michelle, we can train our children to be content in a world that promotes having an endless amount of stuff. Over the next week or so I'll be sharing a few tips to do just that:

Distinguish Between a Want and Need

Teach Kids To Be Happy For Others

Model Contentment

Memorize a “Contentment” Scripture

Give Your Kids a “World View” of Riches

Foster a Giving Heart

Teach Delayed Gratification and Appreciation

Read Stories about People Who Discovered True Riches

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Mission Minded Family

Seeking First the Kingdom in a Self-Absorbed Culture

In her new book, The Mission Minded Family, author and teacher Ann Dunagan presents a plan to transform the “Me Generation” into passionate warriors consumed with God’s glory.

Often, parents and teachers ask their children, “What do YOU want to be when you grow up?” In a world that is increasingly self-seeking, self-centered, and self-absorbed, the answers are consistently more egocentric—“a movie star,” “a rock star,” “a dance star.” Even within the church, this present generation is fixated on obtaining fame, wealth, and pleasure. But shouldn’t we be encouraging our children’s willingness to surrender to God’s plans for their futures? Shouldn’t our question instead be, “Oh, I wonder what awesome plans God has for your life! When you grow up, will you do whatever GOD wants you to do?”

In her new book, The Mission Minded Family: Releasing Your Family to God’s Destiny (Authentic, July 2008), author, teacher, and missionary Ann Dunagan shows parents how to combat the influences of the “Me Generation” by giving readers the tools to revolutionize their families into ones dedicated to fulfilling God’s will and potential, instead of their own. In the first chapter of her book, Dunagan quotes David Shibley as he clearly addresses the current crisis within the church.

“We whine, ‘I just want to know my purpose; I’ve got to reach my destiny.’ We race all over the country to attend ‘destiny conferences,’ and we devour tapes and books on ‘reaching your full potential….’ Even cloaking our self-centeredness in Christian garb and jargon cannot cover the nakedness of this cult of self that has infested much of the church…. How can we ever hope to discover our purpose in the earth with little or no interest in His purpose?”

Packed with motivating missions stories, hymns, and quotes, The Mission Minded Family is a quick resource tool with examples of missionary family heroes, ministry ideas, exciting prayer projects, and even practical tips for international travel. Filled with passionate inspiration, The Mission Minded Family will be picked up again and again, read aloud, and used as a reference for years to come.

Find out more here.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The multi-generational family is making a comeback.

A bit of my story is featured in this Christian Science Monitor article about Multi-generational families.

How many of you have a multi-generational living arrangement...I'd LOVE to hear your story!

All the family under one roof
The multi-generational family is making a comeback.
By Marilyn Gardner Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
from the October 27, 2008 edition

As a new widower, Tim Spatola faced a crucial decision: where to live. His house was too big; a retirement community held little appeal and was also expensive. So when his daughter and son-in-law invited him to move in with them and their six children, he gratefully accepted. He paid for an addition to their house and joined them in June.

"I'm very, very happy with it," says Mr. Spatola of Milton, Mass. "We have an excellent arrangement."

His daughter, Mary McCourt, adds, "He's very independent. It's working well."

Move over, adult children. The multi-generation household is making a comeback as Mom, Dad, kids, and grandparents live under one roof. The number of parents age 65 and older moving in with adult children increased by 62 percent between 2000 and 2007, the Census Bureau reports. Those under 65 who did so grew by 75 percent.

For some families, like Spatola's, the arrangement is a matter of choice. Others are driven together by high housing costs and economic need. In still other cases, caregiving is the motivating factor. Whatever the circumstances, the dynamics can be complex.

"Families have to think very carefully when they're considering an intergenerational household," says Allen Hager, president of Right at Home in Omaha, Neb., a network of agencies providing in-home assistance to seniors. "I've seen a lot of conflict in families. Women are taking on [most] of the household, child-rearing, and senior care."

He urges adult children and their spouses to talk about money, space, time management, and the role of family members. "A lot of times, finances aren't discussed," Mr. Hager says. "That can be sticky. What is [the parent's] financial situation and what will they contribute to the budget? What if they need paid care?"

For the McCourts, Spatola's presence offers mutual benefits. "Since he moved in, he seems to have a little kick in his step and a purpose," Mrs. McCourt says. "He picks up the kids at school and does some food shopping." He also cooks spaghetti and meatballs weekly for the family's dinner.

Spatola adds, "Being here is a plus for the grandchildren. I exert a lot of influence on them."

Giving children time with a grandparent is one reason Nikki Maxwell and her husband encouraged her divorced father to move from Seattle to their house in Los Angeles. A computer programmer in his early 60s, he works from home. "He saw that we needed help – help with the children, help with the finances," Mrs. Maxwell says. "He wanted to get closer to his three grandchildren. He's out there on the bike with them, and he plays with techie toys. I'm indoors cleaning and cooking, and they're at the park. We really value that."

Even so, challenges arise. "It's awkward when you are trying to redefine your relationship with your parent," she says. "We have a lot of control issues. Especially with the financial issues, it's hard to tell where there are strings and where there aren't. He won't lend us money, but he'll give it."

They also face in-law issues. "My dad and my husband buck heads in the kitchen," Maxwell says. "For my husband, it's been a lot of compromise."
Sundi Hayes of suburban Kansas City, Mo., finds similar challenges in sharing a home with her 62-year-old father. "When my husband is frustrated with him and comes to me, I walk a fine line between the two relationships," she says.

Yet she appreciates her father's help with their three children: "We both work outside the home, and Dad is there to care for them before and after school. He also does small things around the house if I ask him to." Still, she adds, "I'm hoping it's not permanent. I would prefer that he live on his own."

Some temporary arrangements do become permanent. When Holly Hansen's mother-in-law needed care, she went to the Hansens' home in Sebastopol, Calif. After her recovery, they invited her to stay.

"This was not a decision made lightly," Mrs. Hansen says. "Mostly, we have not regretted the decision."

Referring to "a few rough patches," she says, "It has probably been the most difficult for Millie. She had to leave her home of 50 years and friends behind to start over in a new community at 92."

Yet rewards abound, too: "Millie and our daughter have a very close relationship," Hansen says. "Millie has made new friends. I never would have thought that this situation would work out, and for many people it may not be the answer, but for us it has been a wonderful experience."

Sometimes even grandchildren become caregivers. For the past five years, Tricia Goyer's grandmother has lived with the Goyers and their three teenagers in Kalispell, Mont. She joined them when she could no longer care for her mobile home.

The couple took out a loan to add on to their house. They pay all the grandmother's expenses beyond the $200 a month she contributes. They also rearranged their schedules to accommodate her. In addition to working full time at home, Mrs. Goyer says, "I care for my teens and my grandmother, which includes doctor's appointments, hair appointments, and lunch out so she doesn't feel she's cooped up all the time. We feel it is our place to care for her."

Read the rest here!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Flashback!

My 6th birthday. I used to hate my summer birthday because I missed out on cupcakes for the class. Now I don't mind, because I've realize cupcakes can be enjoyed any time of the year!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What a Girl Wants, What a Boy Needs part 1

What a Girl Wants, What a Boy Needs

Moms look at their daughters and think, “a little me.” They smile understandingly at the importance of pink, fuzzy pajamas and painted toes. The same thing happens when a father sides up to his son. Men know what brightens a boy’s day—dodge ball, dugouts and dirt, of course.

Yet relationships become more complicated when it comes to parenting a child of the opposite sex. A mom yelps in horror when she spots her young son scaling the outside of the jungle gym. A dad cringes when asked to play ‘fairy princess’ with his daughter . . . yet again. What’s a parent to do?

Moms and Sons

From the beginning, a mother is a life-source for her son. Even the Bible speaks of a mother’s training beginning at birth. “You made me trust in you even at my mother's breast,” we read in Psalm 22:9 (NIV). But as a son matures, his list of needs grows too.

The Softer Side of Love. “Men are conditioned to be harder,” says Dr. Greg Smalley, president and CEO of the Smalley Relationship Center. “A mother’s gentle nature helps a boy become more rounded and balanced. A mom encourages the softer side of love.”

“By virtue of her nurturing, comfort, and structure, a mother shows her son that reaching out to an external source is a good thing,” adds Dr. John Townsend, co-author of Raising Great Kids (Zondervan). “When a mother teaches her son to reach out, she also prepares him to trust in God.”

Healthy Connections. It may be surprising, but one of the most important things a boy needs from his mom is for her to “step back.”

“When a son gets older, he will find more connections with his dad or with friends. Oftentimes, moms will feel abandoned,” says Dr. Townsend. “Some mothers have a hard time letting go.”

As a boy matures, his natural tendency is to move away from the parent not like him (his mother), and move toward the parent like him (his father). A mother’s job is to make sure her son doesn’t feel guilty for this natural tendency. Moms need to encourage the father and son connection.

Intimacy through “Doing.” Moms think of “intimacy” as heart-to-heart talks and cuddles on the couch. Boys see it another way.
“Men, boys included, define intimacy as ‘doing things,’” says Dr. Smalley. “Oftentimes moms will attempt to draw out their sons through conversation. Instead, I encourage moms to kick the ball around or play a game of ping-pong, and then seek to communicate.”

“With my young son, the best communication came on days when I gave him my time and myself,” says Robin Jones Gunn, author of Mothering By Heart (Multnomah). “It may have taken four hours of play to get to an eight-minute conversation out of my son, but those eight minutes were priceless.”

Strict But Loving Authority. Moms have a hard standing their ground. Yet experts agree that boys need to see their mothers’ strength.

“Sometimes a mother is afraid to show her power because she doesn’t want to hurt her son’s feelings or wound his self-esteem,” says Dr. Townsend. “A mother shouldn’t be cruel, but a strict and loving mother will produce a boy who is not mean and self-centered.” A mom can show this power by being firm in her directions and her consequences.

“The objective of any parent is to correctly portray authority—to show her children what God is like,” adds Robin Gunn. “Does God let us get away with sin? Never. It grieves Him and breaks His heart. The best thing I can teach my son, is to obey God . . . by learning to obey me first.”

The Value of Emotions. Our society gives a clear message that boys need to be tough. Boys hear, “don’t cry” or “suck it up.” Moms need to show that there’s value in emotion.

“It’s important for moms to teach compassion, empathy, and consideration—relational tools that are not natural to males,” says Dr. Smalley.

“When I was growing up, once a week my mom took me to McDonalds for breakfast,” he adds. “I later learned it was for the purpose of teaching me how to share my feelings. My mom combined ‘doing something’ with sharing feelings.”

Guidance. The best way for a mom to build her son’s self-esteem is by teaching him practical skills like housework, laundry, or how to take out the trash.

“Moms need to encourage their sons to take initiative, to have responsibility,” says Dr. Townsend.

Equally important is a mother’s tutorage on relating to females. “The way a boy treats his mom, is the way he’ll later treat his wife,” says Dr. Smalley. “If a mom lets her son walk on her, dismiss her feelings, use anger or physical force, that’s the way he will also treat other women.” Moms teach their sons respect by deserving respect.

The Need To be Heard. When boys want to talk, the most important thing a mom can do is put down the dishtowel, give her son eye contact, and be fully engaged.

Moms can also make listening noises, such as “Hmm.” Also, don’t be too quick to give advice. Instead ask, “How does that make you feel?” or “So what are you going to do about this?”

“It’s huge for boys to be able to voice their frustration, anger, and insecurity,” says Robin Gunn. “Allowing your son to consider his own plan of action is like passing the baton of decision making. Once a boy talks through his feelings, moms can praise good decisions. A mom’s affirmation also opens the door to future conversations.”

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Agree or Disagree?

Generation X parents outshine Baby Boomers
by Laura DeMarco

Group called slackers embraces family

In the 1990s they were derided as cynical slackers. They were mocked in pop culture as lazy, selfish types who would rather spend their time moping in overpriced coffee shops than moving into adulthood.

But Generation X is all grown up now - and having children.

And when reality finally did bite the 60 million Americans born between 1965 and '79, they didn't react as might be expected. Gen-Xers are embracing family life with a vigor not seen in baby-boomers.

Generation-X includes more stay-at-home dads, fathers working from home and dads cutting back long hours than previous generations, say analysts.

Gen-X moms are distinguishing themselves from baby-boomers by embracing traditional roles. Though they're more college-educated than any previous generation, more Generation-X moms than boomers are staying home or working part time.

Xers' focus on home life shows up in several more parenting trends: they make financial sacrifices in exchange for family time; they're increasingly discipline-oriented; and they let their kids just have fun.

In part this is a reaction to their background, say sociologists. Their childhood was a time of personal and political upheaval. Xers were the first generation with large numbers raised in broken homes. Almost one-third had divorced parents, compared with 13 percent of boomers, according to the Yankelovich research analysis firm. Nearly half of all Xers had working moms. Before they were labeled slackers, they were latchkey kids.

Now Generation-Xers have become homebodies. And they're raising more than half of all children under 18 in the United States, some 40 million kids.

Fathers more involved

Three years ago, Ellen Barrett, program director for the Heights Parent Center, noticed more men coming to the Cleveland Heights gathering Place.

"In the last three years, we've really had a surge of dads, and not just dads who happen to have the day off or who are home on vacation," she says.

The center now has a busy father's play group with about 40 members, most in their late 20s to mid 30s, that meets several times a month.

The last decade has brought significant changes in the roles of fathers, says James Chung, president of Boston-based Reach Advisors. The company recently released the first major study on Generation X parenting. Titled "From Grunge to Grown Up," it surveyed 3,020 Gen-X and baby boom parents nationwide.

According to the study, 48 percent of Gen-X fathers spend three to six hours per week on child rearing, versus 39 percent of boomer dads. Forty-seven percent of Xers wish they could spend more time with their children, compared to 36 percent of boomers.

The number of stay-at-home dads has jumped 18 percent since 1994, to 189,000 in 2002, according to the Census Bureau.

For Parma resident John Benson, 35, and wife Maria, 36, the decision to swap roles was a financial one. As a writer, Benson could work from home while taking care of their 1- and 3-year-old sons, unlike his wife, who works in accounting.

But the choice was also based on his childhood.

"I was a latchkey kid, and I don't want my kids to be latchkey kids," he says.

That's a common denominator among many Gen-X parents.

"Gen-Xers grew up in the aftermath of a time of much social upheaval, in an era of rapidly increasing divorce rates and mothers rapidly re-entering the work force," says Chung. "Some of them want to raise their families different from the way they grew up."

Bernard Carl Rosen, professor emeritus of sociology at Cornell University and author of "Masks and Mirrors: Generation X and the Chameleon Personality," says it's not just family history that's influencing Xers.

"Generation X is far more insecure than boomers. Their family situation was a bad one, the economy was not in good shape when they were growing up, they've seen a lot of betrayal by politicians. The world they grew up in felt very fragile."

But mom still the anchor

When one parent does stay at home, it's still more often the mother. What's different is that though there are now more college-educated women among Xers, there also has been an increase in mothers staying at home and working part time.

Census figures found that 10.6 million children under 15 in two-parent homes were being raised by stay-at-home moms in 2002, a 13 percent increase from the previous decade.

Twenty-five percent of Gen-X moms spend 12-plus hours a day on child rearing, according to Reach, more than double that of boomer moms. (Even when boomer children were as young as the Xers' kids, moms spent less time with them, says Chung.)

Cleveland Heights stay-at-home mom Andrea Lynn, 32, says she had long planned to quit working as a librarian when she had children. A past nanny job helped make up her mind.

"I saw what the working two-parent household was like and I didn't want that," says the mother of a 3-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son. "It's too hard to have everything."

Many women are coming to that conclusion.

The number of professional women working part time - by choice - has risen 17 percent from 1994, to 2.9 million according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In part, this is due to the fact that Gen-Xers feel less loyalty to one company than past generations did. Women today also don't feel like they have to prove themselves as much as boomers did - it's a given they can have a career if they want it.

"I knew working full time wasn't going to work out after the birth of my third child," says Bay Village resident Amy Hannum, 33, mother of a 7-year-old son and 5- and 3-year-old daughters. She works three days a week as a development writer at Oberlin College. "I wanted balance in my life."

Hannum plans to return to work full time when her youngest enters school, a career path similar to many Gen-X moms'. Only 16 percent of stay-at-home moms will not consider returning to work, says the Reach survey.

"Now there are more options for women," explains Chung.

Discipline returning

Choice comes with a price.

"I told my husband that even if we had to give up a car, I wanted to stay home," says Lynn. "He was very supportive."

Willingly making financial sacrifices is a common Gen-X parenting trait, notes Chung. But the cuts are aimed at parents, not children.

There is, however, one thing for their kids that they seem to be cutting back on: the permissiveness of many baby-boomer parents.

"A lot of boomer parents think they have to be friends and buddies with their kids," says Hannum. "A lot of Generation X parents have a good time with kids but have clear boundaries that they are the parents.

Adds Lynn, "You owe it to your kids to teach them how to behave and to have manners. I really believe in limits for kids."

For many, that includes lighter extracurricular schedules.

"There's less demand for enrichment activities" among Gen-X parents, says Chung. "The attitude is more 'let the kids be kids.' "

Such attitudes are natural for Gen-Xers, explains Rosen.

"They are very sensitive to other people's needs," he says. "To the boomer, the world was more or less fashioned to his or her needs, and that included children. I think Generation-X will make better parents than boomers."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I have to admit there are days when I wish I had the house to myself to sleep in, take a long bath, read, and write. Then I think . . . what would I have to write about???

Kids have deepened me. They’ve shown me how to love deeper and give more. I’ve also learned how to be patient, watch my tongue, and not become overwhelmed by emotions on days I just want to hide away with a half-gallon of ice cream and have a good cry.

They’re a lot of work, but now that my oldest is eighteen, I realize how quickly the time goes.

"How do I set my priorities when all things seem equally important and/or urgent? While our children were living at home, their needs came first," says author Elizabeth Lowell. "After all, they didn't ask to be born. We asked for them. For me, that meant writing part-time around the kids' schedules."

Your priority may not be writing, but I'm sure there are those things in you life that make you think, "I wish I could have more time to . . . "

Hopefully, I’ll be writing for the next forty years. And over that time period you'll have time for some of those longed-for interests too.

So enjoy that important time you spend "just for you" . . . but enjoy the kids more.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Tackling the Media Monster

Philippians 4:8 (NLT)
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.

Hopefully most of us have outgrown the hopeless and incorrigible attitudes we modeled (or rather, thought were the height of coolness) in our teen years. Still, we remember the impact television had on us, and we want to make wise choices concerning our kids.

I have a love/hate relationship with my television set. On one hand, I wish we didn't have one (okay, actually four) in our house. If we didn't, we would undoubtedly spend more time talking, interacting, playing board games, and reading books. On the other hand, there are shows I can't imagine missing. My family has fun together sitting around the tube enthralled by the latest episode of our favorite show. And as a writer, I love taking notes of the characters, dialogue, and plot twists that work-that keep us wanting "just one more episode".

Some of you have quit television cold turkey, and I applaud that. I too want to protect my kids from the media's influence:

*Interacting with media provides the same experience as if you acted out those things ourselves.
*Values portrayed by the media are often ones we don't promote.
*Tuning into the media diverts kids' attention from God.
*Instead of helping us appreciate who we are and what we have, media causes discontentment.

But I don't think it's possible, or wise, to shun television culture completely. My kids will be bombarded by the media messages their entire life. Isn't it better to teach them how to make wise decisions concerning their choices of entertainment? Won't it benefit my children to train them to view television, radio and movies in light of God's truth? Ask God what He is saying about your media choices.

(photo courtesy of flickr)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday Flashback!

We tapped to Chitty-Chitty bang bang. I promise I still break out dancing every time I hear that song!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Carpet Stains?

I was contacted by Spot Shot to test out their new Carpet Stain and Odor Eliminator. Along with the free sample they sent me a piece of carpet and some stain stuff too ... chocolate and ammonia. (Hmmm ... can I eat this chocolate? Just kidding!) Anyway, I really didn't need the samples. My carpet already has stains. Lots of them. In fact I didn't have to wait 24-hours for more to "pop up." You see we were just sitting down to a movie when our dog ... well to put it nicely ... lost his dinner on the carpet.

I'm happy to say that Spot Shot worked great! And since it was out I thought I'd test some of those old spots, too. It worked and it doesn't have that horrible chemical smell. A win-win in my book!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Bon Appétit

Bon Appétit
By Sandra Byrd

In this sequel to Let Them Eat Cake, Byrd again entertains with descriptions of delectable food and, this time, with exquisite details of France as well. Foodies will delight in this novel, and anyone who adores romance will warm to the story. It's easy to identify with Lexi's struggles in life, because they mirror so much of what everyone experiences, no matter what their age.” Romantic Times

Lexi Stuart is risking it all. Saying au revoir to the security of home, her job, and could-be boyfriend Dan, Lexi embarks on a culinary adventure in France to fulfill her life dream of becoming a pastry chef.

As she settles into her new home in the village of Presque le Chateau to study and work in a local bakery, her optimism meets resistance in the seemingly crusty nature of the people and culture around her. Determined to gain her footing, she finds a church, meets a new friend, and makes the acquaintance of a child named Celine–as well as Celine’s attractive, widowed father, Philippe. As Lexi lives her dream, the only thing she has to do is choose from the array in life’s patisser ie display window. Lexi discovers that as she leans more on God the choices become a little clearer– and making them, well, c’est la vie!

Bon Appétit is the sequel to this year’s Christy Award finalist, Let Them Eat Cake.


Enter to win a gourmet baking basket

To purchase book, please visit


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Making Decisions 101

Decisions …

Write down one decision you are trying to make. Now, answer these questions:

~What is behind my decision?

~Is my motivation to be liked, appreciated, or accepted?

~Who is behind my decision?

~Am I concerned about what others would think?

~Are my choices and decisions based on my relationship with God?

~Who loves me more? Do I let those who love me most have greater influence, or do I worry more about those who could care less about my heart, spirit, soul, emotions?

On another piece of paper make three columns. Pick one of the decisions you KNOW you’ll have to make. On the top of the page list any one of those decisions. In the first column write “Spouse.” In the second write “Friends.” In the third column write “God.”

Now, consider what type of advice you would get from your spouse, friends or God. Write each one’s advice under their heading.

Finally, at the bottom of the page, write that person’s motivation. (Why would he/she/they make that decision for you?) For example, your friends might push you to do certain things. And your spouse might want you NOT to do those things because of the cost or the influence it has on you.

And what about God . . . how do you think He feels about these activities? If you’re not sure, go to His Word, and ask Him to guide you to the answers. Psalm 138:3 says:

When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted (NIV).

If you aren’t sure of what God’s answer would be seek out a mature Christian for advice.

There are some decisions that will make a BIG difference to your life and faith. Just think how much better your decision will turn out if you take time to think it through beforehand. When the time of decision comes . . . the work is already done. After that, you just need to follow through, allowing your service to Jesus to rule over being a slave to the opinions of others. After all, scripting your responses makes dealing with the drama 100% easier.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Interesting question!

Has a book ever fundamentally changed the way you see life? If yes, what was it?

Callista from SMS reviews answered...I don't know about fundamentally. Generation NeXt Marriage by Tricia Goyer gave me some things to think about with regards to my marriage and Love As a Way of Life by Gary Chapman made me think differently about what's important.

I love this question (and LOVE Callista's answer!), what are some of the books that have changed the way YOU see life?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday Flashback!

Last summer we saw this rock at the local park. It's weird ... it somehow shrunk over the years!

Thursday, October 09, 2008


In the eighteen hundreds two families from New York State and their descendents were studied by a researcher named Dugdale. What he found further illustrates the truth of Psalm 112:1-2.

1 Praise the LORD. Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who finds great delight in his commands. 2 His children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.

Max Jukes and his brother married sisters. They did not believe in Christian training. They had 1,026 descendants. Three hundred of them died very young. Many others had poor health. At least 140 of them served time in the penitentiary for an average of 13 years each; 190 were public prostitutes; and there were 100 drunkards in the group.

Over a hundred-year period the Juke’s descendents cost the state $1,200,000. With inflation and more liberal welfare programs today, these two brothers and their families could easily cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

Contrast the misery experiences and caused by the Jukes family with another record:

Jonathan Edwards became a Christian and married a girl of like belief. After graduating from Yale in 1720, he became a preacher. From their union, he and his wife had 729 descendants. Among them were 300 preachers, 65 college professors, 13 university presidents, 60 authors, 3 congressmen, and a vice president of the United States. Except for Aaron Burr, a grandson of Edwards who married a girl of questionable character, the family did not cost the state a single dollar.

The mark difference between the two families was the basic training of the children which include both philosophy and practice.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Just A Young Boy's Dream!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Defending Your Marriage From External Stressors

by Dr. Harold L. Arnold, Jr.


As I listened to the married couples gathered at the monthly marriage fellowship, the word "rebuild" kept coming to my mind. While some of the couples were paragons of strength, others were floundering in troubled marriages. For some marriages, I sensed desperation in their testimonies of infidelity, loneliness, disrespect, devalued self-worth and communication failures. Still others seemed paralyzed in mediocrity and satisfaction with the status quo. The emotional wounds and disappointments had left many of these couples feeling broken, without any clear path to restoration.

As I addressed the group, I asked for their patience to examine a biblical story that on its face seems removed from the subject of marriage. It is the story of Nehemiah as recorded in Nehemiah 2-4. I started with a question. It was the same question, in fact, that the Persian king Artaxerxes asked Nehemiah, his trusted Jewish cupbearer, in Nehemiah 2:2, "Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart?"

The king's observation was accurate. Nehemiah's heart was burdened by a call that God had placed in him to rebuild the shattered walls of Jerusalem that had been destroyed when the nation was taken into captivity. In response to Nehemiah's request, King Artaxerxes permitted Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem to assess the state of the walls and eventually to begin repairs. God had obviously stirred Nehemiah's and the king's heart to begin the difficult work of restoration. But, as Nehemiah soon learned through the mocking and ridicule of neighbors, enemy attacks to undermine his efforts, and the waning confidence of his own people, obeying God's call to rebuild was going to require remarkable perseverance, faith and obedience.

Like Nehemiah, many of you are also experiencing a great sadness of heart. And for many, this emotional state is directly connected with the struggles in your marriage. The disappointments, frustration and anger have left your own emotions in shambles, much like those broken walls of Jerusalem. My message to you is to have hope that God hears your cries just as He heard the lament of the Hebrew captives. God is calling you to rebuild the walls of your marriage. This call to rebuild is about prioritizing God's desires for your marriage over your own desires—in a pursuit of holiness. It is a call to marital intimacy that is built on selflessness, trust and respect. It is a call to extend grace as you unconditionally love the spouse to whom God has joined you. And, it is a call for an investment of time to allow strained emotions to heal.

You should be prepared, however, for attacks on your efforts to rebuild your marriage. In a culture that values individualism and self-satisfaction, your efforts to exemplify godly stewardship, humility and grace in marriage will be mocked—sometimes from your own family. With half of those around you opting for divorce, your unconditional commitment to an abundant marriage will be met with sarcasm and envy.

All of us experience attacks on our marriage – often leading to our own sadness of heart. God, however, has made provisions for you to withstand these negative influences. Fortifying the walls of your marriage is not simple, as it also requires obedience to the Lord's call to rebuild.

If God is stirring your heart to strengthen your marriage, this series of articles is for you. They are designed to provide insight, encouragement and practical advice to those seeking to protect their marriage from the external stressors that threaten it.

Copyright 2008 Dr. Harold L. Arnold, Jr. Used with permission.

Other articles in this series:
Finding Stability Amidst Marriage Stressors
Defending Your Marriage Against Mediocrity
Shaving Planks
Commitment: The First Defense Against Marital Stressors
It's About TIME: Building the CORE of Your Marriage
Ten Tips for Protecting Your Cross-Cultural Marriage From Outside Influences
Next Steps / Related Information

Monday, October 06, 2008


Friday, October 03, 2008

Friday Flashback!

In Montana this is as close as you can get to tree hugging and live!

Stop Lurking! Every week I will draw names for a free Tricia Goyer book from those who comment on my blogs. Winner's choice! Tell your friends.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Balancing Life and Cleaning!

I work from home, which means I SEE what needs to be done all hours of day and night. When I clean I see the writing stuff I need to do. When I write I see the house stuff. Yet when it comes to writing, life, kids I have to make priorities:

1. Food. I shop big at Costco and have enough extra stuff around to throw together a nice meal at 5:45 p.m.

2. Order. My kids have had chores since they were preschoolers. At 19, 16, and 14 they still have daily chores AND know how to sprint through the house in a cleaning frenzy when I call home in desperation. "Company's coming!"

3. Peace. In my heart, not always in my schedule. When I have peace and go with the flow the family follows. They'd rather have a happy mom than a perfect house.

4. Understanding. For myself mostly. If God has called me to write books and articles and be an attentive mom and wife then I CAN'T keep a perfect house too. It's impossible.

5. Help. I do have a housecleaner once a week for three hours who does the deep cleaning. Huge help!

I do something called "The 27." I'll time myself and spend 27 minutes answering email, cleaning my desk, cleaning the house, putting away laundry, packaging books to send out ... you name it. 30 minutes sounds like it's a big chunk of time but for some reason 27 minutes seems doable! And I'm always amazed how much I can get done in that time.

Also, I only have one small corner in my kitchen where stuff accumulates, and I clean that off every other day. And I don't let kids drop stuff as they go. They must put it away. So if you show up at my house it looks (mostly) uncluttered ... just don't look at the dog hair on the floors or the dust on ... everything!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Sweet September Contest WINNER!

I plugged the numbers into here is what I got!

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2008-10-01 17:04:31 UTC

So that means blueviolet is our winner!

blueviolet said...
My sister is my touchstone, my best friend, my confidante. She is the person who will drop everything and be at my side whenever I need her She accepts me completely for who I am and is totally nonjudgmental. I can tell her absolutely everything and know it stays with her alone. She has a fun, bubbly personality and she is like sunshine to me. I adore her.doot65{at}comcast[dot]net
12:42 PM

CONGRATS Elizabeth, send my assistant Amy ( your mailing address and your pumpkin yumminess will be on the way!

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