Parenting Series: Fifty Things I Want My Child To Know About Life

To my children entering the world of adulthood –  I recently wondered what I haven’t taught you.  So here’s my non-exhaustive list of things I want you to know. 

fifty things I want to my child to know about life.

  1. Be as wise as a serpent and as innocent as a dove {Matthew 10:16}. Use common sense when dealing with people, institutions, and situations.  When in doubt, trust your gut.
  2. Don’t use a Pampered Chef stone on an open flame. It will break.
  3. Cleaning up after yourself right away will save you a lot of dread of doing bigger jobs later.
  4. Don’t give out your personal information to anyone unless you need to for business, professional, or personal reasons.
  5. Disable the GPS tracking on your smartphone when you finally can afford one on your own since we have deprived you of this luxury.
  6. Be kind to everyone but you don’t have to be their friend if they are not healthy or appropriate to be in a relationship with you.
  7. You can buy potatoes, beans, corn and tomatoes in a store. Not everyone has a garden.
  8. Pay your bills on time and don’t carry credit card debt.
  9. Watch for hidden fees in business transactions. You don’t need “all the extras.”
  10. If it’s too good to be true, it is. Unless it’s answer to a specific prayer and you’ve checked it out with God first.
  11. Pray every day and be in God’s word as often as you can.
  12. Consult with God about your daily decisions.
  13. If it doesn’t feel right, wait, or don’t do it.
  14. Don’t buy meat from Walmart.
  15. First impressions really do matter.
  16. Budget for your necessities first and make sure you can pay for them. Get necessary debt paid off as soon as possible.
  17. Stay away from people with bad pick-up lines.  Or good pick-up lines unless you want to have sex with them.
  18. Don’t have sex with anyone with consulting God first. He does have something to say about it. If you’re serious about your relationship with Him, you can’t ignore this area.
  19. Open the door for others.
  20. Don’t be afraid to take risks.
  21. Don’t take stupid risks. Have common sense {see #1)
  22. Build relationships with your siblings. You have relationships with them for life. See them as adults, not as who they were as kids. Don’t hold grudges.
  23. Find a church you feel comfortable in, but don’t stay away until you find “the right one.”
  24. Keep in touch with your grandparents.
  25. Don’t say display anything on Twitter or Facebook you wouldn’t want a future boss, spouse, or mother-in-law to see.
  26. Don’t throw credit card receipts or statements with personal information in the trash no matter where you live.
  27. Don’t get into a car with a stranger.
  28. If you can’t find a job, McDonalds is always hiring.
  29. Marriage is hard work. Don’t think you can change anybody but yourself.
  30. Extend grace to others.
  31. Don’t judge people who were not raised like you.
  32. Don’t expect your future spouse to be like me or your dad. 
  33. Earn your way in life but give to others and graciously receive when something is given to you.
  34. Air-dry any clothes you don’t want to shrink or look worn.
  35. Clothes pins can be found at a hardware store.
  36. You can’t microwave anything with metal.
  37. You need to brown a roast before putting it in the oven or crockpot.
  38. Kids are cute but don’t have them before you are ready to give up your time and energy to someone else.
  39. Worship God no matter what the circumstance.
  40. Cheap food is not always the healthiest.
  41. You need life insurance, car insurance, and renter’s or home-owner’s insurance.
  42. Be cautious when walking in dark hallways. Park under lights in a parking lot at night.
  43. Be generous with kind words as long as they are genuine.
  44. Don’t order things from TV advertisements.
  45. Cheap is not always better.
  46. Expensive is not always quality.
  47. Go to a doctor when you think you need to.
  48. You can learn to do just about anything. Most of what your dad and I know we didn’t know when we were your age.
  49. Don’t be afraid to try new things.
  50. Your way is not the only way.

That’s all for now. I love you,


Parenting Series: Raising Kids is Not So Easy

MP900227797Raising kids is not so easy. Teaching kids to respect each other is a lifelong process.  How siblings treat each other is crucial to the health of a family and a child’s individual development.  It’s tempting to ignore it when siblings hurt one another or don’t get along.

But you can’t. 

There’s not an easy answer to the problem because children have unique differences.  They go through ages and stages.  They each have their own perspective on things.

Sometimes I want to just relish in the happy family times and ignore the underlying things that brew. Doing this would be negligent. Isaac {Genesis 25} didn’t correctly deal with his sons Jacob and Esau and that didn’t turn out so well.  Teaching children how to navigate through sibling relationships is a skill they can use in other relationships in life.  

Parenting is difficult. There are times, even as an experienced counselor, I sit on my child’s bed thinking, “I don’t know how to help this situation.”  I’m thankful prayer is an ever-present resource as a parent. I can’t always help a situation or change another person’s perspective or heart, but God can.

This week has been one of “those” weeks.  A week full of family highs and lows.  Do you have weeks like that?  Weeks where you glow in the goodness of family life and then want to pull your hair out at the reality of it all – sibling rivalry, fighting, teenage melt-downs and hormones. 

At least that’s how some family days roll at our house.

As a professional writer, speaker, educator and counselor, I interact heavily in social media.  Sometimes I internally rollMP900382671 my eyes at easy “how-to” articles on parenting even though SEO data says it’s the best way to get readers. I’ve probably written some of those because a social media expert told me to.

I apologize.

There’s nothing “easy” about parenting.  

That statement won’t get me invited on the Today Show.  But I’m still raising my kids. Some days, it’s exhausting. 

How about you?  How do you impact your child’s relationships with their siblings?  What are the  stresses you experience and things you’ve found helpful?  I’d love to hear your thoughts today because I hope I’m not alone.

Father, give each of us wisdom for the journey of parenting.  Give us the words and counsel as we minister to our families. Amen.

Saying Good-bye and the Power of the Mundane

photo flowersI’m sitting on my porch swing taking in the day I hope will never end.  The sun is on its way down to slip behind the trees in an hour or two.  The flowers are bright around me and a breeze is on my cheek.  The birds are singing,  the cattle are walking to a cool place for shade.  Another Sunday gone, another week comes to an end. So predictable yet so different. 
                            This week my oldest son is graduating.  Up until now things have been routine.  Days have been predictable like every season we’ve walked through.  Today as he shared in church, he reminisced on things that have influenced him…...Sunday school teachers, youth leaders, the support he and his classmates have received in being part of a faith community.
                          “Being in a small town, there’s accountability. Because if you mess up, everyone knows,” he said.  A doubled edged-sword in ways.  My son declared it instrumental in helping him make choices growing up.  There’s value in everyone knowing your name.
                            Today’s not quite the same as I sit on my front porch rocking to the low bellows of the hungry cows.  In the routine of photo (87)life, somewhere my boy became a man. A man who has surrounded himself with friends who hold him accountable.  A man who has chosen to love God not because we said so, but because he has learned of His grace, faithfulness, and unconditional love.  A man who began walking out of my life years ago as I realized I needed to release him to be the leader God has called Him to be.
This week we will celebrate, say good-bye, and let go.
                                 Every mother releasing her son knows its different than releasing a daughter. Somewhere along the way your role changes as you step aside to let him grow and figure out who he is.  There are times to step back so he can develop strength.  Times where you have to be strong and push him into the storm so he can figure out how to survive, all the while watching with a life raft ready at a moment’s notice.  Times where you must step back and let his father instruct and discipline.  Times where you still touch his cheek with a kiss because he is still a little boy inside a man-size body.  Times where the best words are, “I’m proud of you.”
                               This boy has been a big brother, his sister’s best friend, and a son who has held me accountable when my actions or words did not match what I believed. He has been the voice of reason when needed.  In the ordinary and routine moments, he has grown into a man who is ready for the next step.
                        I believe raising kids for moments like these lie in the mundane and routine, in the moments we live when we think no one is watching.  One thing this child and I know how to do is forgive, trust, and give second chances. Important moments for us have included the words, ” Will you forgive me?”
                               I have two more boys to raise in mundane moments.  Six years from now, sitting on my porch swing, I will be saying good-bye to my last knight in the household.  I’m reminded to not rush these days on or to close my eyes to what is ahead.  Each child God gives us is one to be fully seen and known.  They are kings and queens in the making, not for our glory, but for His.
                        I’ll shed lots of tears this week along with other moms and dads celebrating the milestone of graduation.  I’m thankful for each tear of joy, sorrow, and sadness along the way.  Each one a part of the process of releasing a child to fly, lead, and grow.
                        Don’t miss the moments each day.  Let the wind blow on your cheek as the sun slips beyond the horizon. Read a book, sing a song.  Let your boy dazzle you with his charm or your girl snuggle in your arms. Shed a tear, laugh out love, and kiss a cheek.
 photo (86)
And let the mundane and routine bring blessing when the last goodbye is said.

Parenting Series: What Have I Gotten Myself Into? By Shannon Dew

It’s my privilege to have Shannon Dew, author at Dewing Life, to guest post today.  Visit her site – it’s full of encouragement and practical advice for parenting blended families. I’m thankful to have her contribute to our parenting series!


What have I gotten myself into?” The first year I was married to the love of my life and his three children I often had this thought. The first year almost did me in. You see, I am a perfectionist and I don’t ask for help and to top off those positive character traits, I am a people-pleaser. Good golly…just writing that makes me tired…living it nearly killed me.

Our wedding was beautiful and intimate and our honeymoon was lazy and relaxed. We returned home to REALITY! Blending a family of five children with ages that ranged 7 to 19 is no small feat. We felt we had done a good job preparing everyone for our wedding. His girls even came to stay with me and my girls in the house we bought a couple of weeks before the wedding.  A good sign that everyone was excited. A new house, new relationships and a new normal. We were all hopeful as we began this new life together, but it would not be without its challenges. My favorite saying in that first year was, “Change is hard even when it’s good”.

The day we returned from our honeymoon my mom told me that all FOUR girls had lice. LICE!! You have to understand that my stepdaughter’s have enough hair between them to cover a small country. It took us nearly a month to be rid of that infestation. To this day when I see the girls scratch their heads I am on top of them looking through their locks to see if I see anything resembling lice as they are screaming and knocking my hands away secretly scared I may find something. We were all traumatized by that experience.

We got married in November so that we could spend the holidays together as a family. Between nit picking hair and buying Christmas gifts for this huge family and extended family, I often wondered often what have we done? That holiday season was stressful. I was doing it all. Super Mom and Super Duper Step Mom. She runs, she buys, she cleans and cooks and nit picks nightly while watching Christmas movies creating the perfect home environment, while asking for help from no one! She IS AMAZING! And she was burning out quickly. We were not even two months in and I was struggling.

I was working hard on building relationships with my stepchildren and I was band-aiding my own children as Mother Kissing Her Daughter for a Present and Red Rosethey had a new school and neighborhood to adjust to since our move. I was in a part of town where I knew no one and I missed my friends and the life I had built on the other side of town for 15 years. I was giving a lot and not receiving much. My husband was trying to be my mainstay, but because I was busy doing it all for everyone else I was on an island. I had cut myself off and was just in “doing” mode. I couldn’t receive. We talked about it, but I just couldn’t stop and I was becoming resentful. I wanted help, but would not ask for it. Why?

Honestly, I loved the attention it gave me. The comparisons the girls gave me to their biological mother were positive. She was smarter than I and was not doing every little thing for them, but I pressed on with my S on my chest doing more and better and cooler things. I soon began to resent my husband for not doing more, but what was left to do? I never asked him to do anything.

That summer I was starting to get really tired. I was sleeping more and doing less. I thought maybe I was depressed. I made an appointment to see my doctor. He found a huge cyst on my thyroid. I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. This was my wake up call and my reflection time. My thyroid and the mass were removed. I was treated successfully and I continue to take replacement drugs, but that time made me realize that I cannot do it all.

Not only had I not been relying on my husband or asking anything from any of the kids, I had not been relying on God. I had set myself up to be the martyr. You know the one who says, “Oh no, I have it”, and then seethes as they perform the task. They enjoy the attention, but loathe the responsibility. Yes, that was me.

As a mom, I think this behavior is a trap so many can fall into. However, a step mom can be special prey because as a stepparent there are always strangers in the house. That means that first year especially, you can feel like someone is always watching and judging your every move. That is how I felt. I don’t know if that was true or not, but because two of my stepchildren were older I was super conscious of my actions.

My advice to new and old step-moms is to take time for yourself. I’m working on this myself.  Don’t allow yourself to get lost in your new normal. Do something that is totally one hundred percent for you. Don’t get caught up in the comparison to the biological mother. Just do what you think is right and stay out of that trap. Keep your focus first on your husband and make time for one another. Talk openly and not defensively. The last and most important piece is to find a Godly woman or women that can walk along side you. If at all possible look for another woman in a blended family. We are unique in our struggles and it is nice to have someone who understands. I have someone I partner with and she and I use one another to grow and keep us honest.

Step-parenting is not for the faint of heart and it is not easy, but almost four years later I will tell you that it is the most rewarding role and I wouldn’t trade my life for any other. I love our new normal and all the ups and downs that go with it. The relationships I have with all my children are ones I wouldn’t trade. My husband and I are closer than ever and he has been my rock. Blending a family can teach you some of the greatest lessons you will ever learn in your life. Each day brings new challenges but now I don’t face them alone.

Mother’s Day: Inspiring Women and Messed-Up Experiences in Motherhood

MP900341759Today is Mother’s Day –  the day we think of the blessings of motherhood. In reflecting on this day, I’m reminded of inspiring women who had messed-up experiences in motherhood.  Many biblical women endured hard places, being forced to lean on the Lord alone and nothing else. For example:

  • Jocabed, mother of Moses knew her child would be taken away and killed if he were found.  Emotions if I were her?  Fear and anger (Lord, why would you give me a child only for him to be taken away or killed?anxiety and depression. But she responded with faith in God even though He gave her a child at a difficult time. Faith that He would take care of her and the child. Faith that the Author of their story knew what He was doing.
  • Mary, mother of Jesus knew her divine pregnancy defined her as morally corrupt and open for misunderstanding and judgment.  Emotions if I were her? Fear, anger, anxiety and ambivalence.  While knowing the honor and calling on her life, no doubt there were dark days for her, being aware of the whispers, looks, and judgment that came her way.  But she responded by clinging to the Lord she knew was writing her story, clinging to Him when no one else may have encouraged her.  She clung to him when she felt alone.
  • Sarah, mother of Isaac was pregnant past her prime, when her husband already had a child from another woman.  Emotions if I were her? Fear and anger (Lord, why would you allow Hagar to bear Abram’s child when you knew I was to have one?), anxiety, jealousy and bitterness.  While she knew she was bearing a child anointed by God, the strained relationship between her, Hagar and Ishmael must have caused some strife in her life.  She responded by remaining faithful the story line the Lord gave her, even though it was hard. Scripture tells us she laughed (Exodus 21:6) and took one day at a time.

There are truths these women encountered that face many of us:

Life wasn’t supposed to be this way

This isn’t what I expected

Motherhood has more pain than joy right now.

MP900227697I hear these statements when I share with women. Mother’s Day can be painful to individuals suffering in heartache, often alone.  But motherhood pain isn’t a popular discussion in bible studies, church meetings, coffee breaks or in social media.  Facebook or Twitter statuses rarely say, “Motherhood is not what I bargained for. I don’t think I can make it.”

If Hallmark doesn’t fit the bill for you this Mother’s Day, God’s Word does.  It shares the lives of real women in hard places, with real pain….. in places they didn’t expect to find themselves….places where there are no easy answers.  If you or a woman you know faces a tarnished Motherhood this year, share these principles from biblical women who were hard-pressed to find joy in motherhood.

  • They each knew the Lord intimately.  Each of these women could stand in their circumstances because they knew the Lord and His character when the truth of their circumstance dictated His absence from their situation.  God is never absent from our situation or that of our children He sees beyond the trial and knows the ending.  In that we can take hope.  When there’s no hope in sight, we must look to and know the author of the Story.
  • They clung to the Lord and His character.  Clinging conjures up visions of grasping hold of, refusing to let go because doing so would result in disaster (clinging to a raft vs. drowning, clinging to a ledge vs. falling to destruction).

    Despite their emotions, these women clung to the One they easily could have rejected.  If motherhood only includes blessings, then what do you cling to when the image of motherhood is not what you signed up for?   You cling to a sovereign, good God who sees the bigger picture…..clinging to the truth of His character when the “truth” of our emotions can lead us away from Him.  Our emotions can betray us.

  •  Motherhood does not define our happiness, but our relationship with God does.  What do you think got Mary through the whispers, misunderstandings and acts of judgment thrown her way?  If Jocabed’s happiness was determined by baby Moses, what was she left with when God’s plan took this child from her?  Happiness for these women did not rely on their motherhood or dreams for their children, but was rooted in their relationship and identity with the Living God. 

Wherever this Mother’s Day finds you, take encouragement from these women. They were real women whose encouragement didn’t come from the culture around them, but from the Lord authoring their story.  You can receive the same encouragement, too.

Lord, thank you that You are the Author of our stories.  Will you encourage each woman who is hurting this Mother’s Day?  Thank you.

Forty-five. Why Mid-life Is Not What I Feared

Today I’m forty-five. Not forty, not fifty, but halfway in between.MP900178613

Half of my life is completed, if I live until ninety, by the grace of God.

For to me, to live is Christ, to die is gain. Philippians 1:21

Ten years ago, for my thirty-fifth birthday, I borrowed a friend’s convertible and went out on the town with a few friends. It was the year I went from being a stay-at-home-mom to a first year high school teacher. The year I discovered I was a person in addition to being a mom and wife. The year I received as much from my students as I gave to them, if not more. The year I fell in love with the art of teaching, with pouring into the lives of people, and believing the best in the human spirit.

Thirty-five was good.

Mountain in Italy
The view on top of a mountain in Sicily overlooking our village.

In the last ten years, I’ve been from mountain tops to valleys, from joy to pain, from captivity to freedom. As I reflect on forty-five, there isn’t anywhere else I’d rather be at this moment in time {except, perhaps, on a mountaintop in Italy}.

At forty-five, here are some lessons I’ve learned:

  • Doing the unthinkable is do-able. I never thought I’d go to my father’s village in Sicily within my lifetime. But they said they were going and I said, “I’m going, too.”  It was a trip of a lifetime, the best of the best of times in my life.
  • Making your dreams part of your life is do-able. I never thought I would own a convertible {which I did for a short time}, run a half-marathon, write professionally, or work part-time at a job I love. These things didn’t just “happen,” they took time, commitment, determination, and thinking outside the box {except for the convertible.}  But I dared to think “why not” instead of “that won’t work.”

    The convertible that cost as much as our lawn mower. It was nice while it lasted.
  • Thinking “why not?” instead of “that won’t work” shatters the limits we put on life experiences.  My internal dialog naturally says, “Don’t tell me ‘no’ unless there’s a good reason.”  This probably got me in trouble as a child, but it’s how I think.  I’ve learned there are possibilities to things that don’t look do-able or practical.  This has proven true not only in building a house and raising children, but also in problems in life.  It’s tempting to see only the possibilities right in front of us instead of every available option. I prefer the every option available route, and it’s proven life-altering. So, if there’s a way, I usually try to find it.
  • It’s never too late to try or learn something newI started teaching late in life, after I raised my little ones.  It was still possible to enter a career semi-late.  I went back to school full time  at 40 to choose another career that fit our season of life better.  It’s never too late to learn something entirely new or to say, “I think I can do this.” 
  • Living intentionally makes all the differenceI’ve learned my limits. I can’t do it all, so I intentionally choose what I do.  A statement by Chuck Swindoll impacted me over fifteen years ago when I was driving down a country road:    Only two things are eternal, – God’s word and people. This statement continues to shape my life when I’m tempted to invest time and energy  into something that pulls from what’s most important for my season of life.  It’s my plumb-line.
  • When in doubt, give graceI wasn’t always a grace-filled person. But as I’ve received grace and have seen the change in makes in others when they receive grace, I’ve decided there’s greater good in giving grace.  That’s the power of the God we serve.  Grace is the greatest gift He gives, and we have the opportunity to extend it to ourselves and others.  I’ve seen it change lives. 

My list could go on.  But it’s my birthday and I have things to do today on my day off, like dig in the dirt and sit and do nothing.  So I’m off to do nothing.  I hope each day you can grab a quiet moment with the Lord, receive His grace, and enjoy the gift of life He gives us each day.

photo (88)-001

Here’s something from my garden to you, for a pick-me-up for your day today.

In His love,


I’m A Fighter. Why Fighting For What’s Important Is Worth It All

photo (87)Thank you to those who read Kaylee’s inspiring story, “Loving the Kids“.  Her words were a gift because we’ve seen the depth of her journey. Like her dad, she’s not one to put herself out there.  I honor her words because it’s a testimony to her love of Christ and willingness to go outside her comfort zone for a greater cause, wanting others to see the orphans she’s fallen in love with. I encourage you to look onto sponsoring a child a Hope of Life International by clicking here.

If you read the prelude to her story, you’ve witnesses a mother’s journey in letting a child go.  A process with much depth, sorrow, and scars behind it.

Each of us have battle wounds, my daughter and I.

I hold back from sharing our journey where the conversation between me and you is anonymous.  It’s an intimate, personal story.  It’s my story. My daughter has her story.  Both of us are Jesus’ story.

“You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” (NKJV Genesis 50:20)


When my little girl came into the world, like your firstborn, she was all I dreamed of.  Smiling young doctor holding a beautiful newborn baby.But God doesn’t prepare us for the challenges of parenting, the things in our children that bring out the worst in us.  God gave me a beautiful daughter with passion, a strong will, an internal sense of right and wrong, and wisdom in many ways.

All the things that reek havoc in a toddler and teenage body.

Do you have a child like that?

Even if you’re not a parent, you have relationships that challenge you. How do you handle them?  Do you may shrink back, run and flee, or stay and fight?

I’m a fighter.

So is she.

The enemy prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 (NIV)

I did the best I could as a first-time parent in moments that took me by surprise. Moments where both of our wills went to head to head.  Christian parenting books didn’t tell me what to do with a passionate, temperamental child. Oh, I read the books {The Strong-Willed Child}.  We even taught the parenting classes {3x}.  But “the right formula” didn’t work for our situation.

Hilly RoadAnd the battled raged on.

As we walked, climbed, fought, got up and walked, climbed, fought again, God worked in us and through us.

I’m convinced there’s nothing separating me from the worst behavior on earth, except for the grace of God and the love I have for him. 

I am a selfish creature. Are you?

When anger, bitterness, pride, insecurities, and “my rights” rule in my heart, I become a fighter that can destroy myself and relationships.

But when I choose to let the Lord of the universe change me

He trades these ugly things for His character:

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22)

As a woman, I’ve walked a journey that’s challenged everything I thought I knew about life, God, parenting, relationships, and the picket-fence life I dreamed of.

Things aren't what we expect them to be.
Things aren’t what we expect them to be.

Do you have expectations of life that have been shattered?

When the bottom fell out of my life and my family, I was faced with one choice.  Choose to change or let my anger and bitterness destroy our family, my relationship with my daughter, and the hope and future God had planned for us.

A future taking His child to a mountain where she kisses His children’s tears.

A future where she runs to her Father for her identity and security.


It’s easy to fight when it comes naturally.


But it’s hard when you’re fighting to change destructive behavior and trying to hold on to what’s most important in life.

 Family, relationships and your character.

Are there behaviors you need to change that are impacting your health and the relationships around you?

There is hope.

Hope for our relationship came when I realized I couldn’t change her or anyone else in the equation.  I could only change myself and what I could control.

I’m a fighter, so I fought for change.

I’m passionate, so I ran after God, declaring God’s work and presence I believe He promises in His word.

I’m strong, so I pushed through the guilt, shame, insecurities, worry, and judgment I wanted to run from.

Qualities the enemy meant for destruction, but God meant for good.

It was worth it all.  

I’m redeemed by a God who knows the good, the bad, and the ugly, and still loves me.

I’m restored in relationships with my daughter and family. My sons know Jesus is real because they’ve seen two lives transformed before their eyes.

I’m a sinner saved by grace.

That’s really all I know.


Each of us have battle wounds of some sort. 

We can take those battle wounds and submit them to the work of the Living God.  Or we can pick at the scars, preventing them from fully healing, keeping them alive and well so the pain never goes away.

How are you taking care of your wounds today?  Are you choosing to let God heal them, or do you continue to let them fester and deprive your soul of peace?

It’d be my privilege to pray for you, no matter what your wound, no matter what you’re needing to fight to over come, not matter what relationship that needs to be restored.  Email me at It would be my honor to bring you before the throne of God in prayer as your prayer warrior.

Thank you for listening, for reading, for sharing part of our journey.  I share my full “Hope Beyond the Picket Fence” story of hope and restoration with audiences throughout the Midwest.  It would be my privilege to share it with your women’s group, mom’s group, or church group to bring encouragement in areas that people are afraid and shamed to talk about. Email me at if you would like more information.

Dear Jesus, that you for  your love, your grace, the hope that you give us in our weaknesses and failures. Thank you that you are the hope we have for change in areas we need to change.  Thank you that you created everything about us and you have the capacity to turn our weaknesses to strengths for your honor and glory.  Thank you for the restorative work you do in our lives, and that your mercies are new every morning.

We love you, Lord Jesus, our redeemer and friend. Amen.

Why Raising Children Is Really About Letting Go

Today I’m posting an article at Not Alone Mom on the process of releasing our children.  Last year at this time, I wrote the following post as my daughter came home from college only to turn around to leave for Guatemala for the summer. I knew in my heart it would be a life-changing experience for her.  A deal-maker or a deal-breaker for this girl who told me since she was 17 that she was called to be a missionary.

releasing and letting goKaylee went on a mission trip to Mexico her Junior year in high school.  She spent Christmas Day of 2008 in an orphanage. In scholarship applications she wrote her senior year, she explained her passion to work with children in orphanages.  She devoured biographies of missionaries, beginning with Jim Elliot, who impacted her life.

Much to my dismay, I realized she was serious, God was serious, and I needed to let go of the plans I had for my firstborn, because He has a call on her life.

I’ve asked her to share her experience in my Inspiring Stories series I will post this weekend. I knew when I put my girl on the plane last May, she wouldn’t return the same. It’s true.  She returned to Zacapa in Decemeber and more than likely will be returning for three months next spring for her internship.  Please join me tomorrow morning as I post her story, “Loving the Kids.” 

In the meantime, here’s my story from last May, from a mom’s perspective, reposted from my former blog.

Good-bye is a Four Letter Word

Just in time to say good-bye.  

That’s how much time we’ll have, my daughter and I, as she returns from college this week only to turn back around to leave for Guatemala for the summer.

I’m ready to come home but not ready to say good-bye” she said in a conversation last week.  Those words have weight in them.  She doesn’t like good-byes. Making the good-bye transition with children is a process that never ends. I’m learning, though, when we keep our hands too tightly on our children, we don’t allow them to grow in the ways God desires.

God began teaching me this two years ago when my daughter was considering going to a college three states away.  “Seriously?” I thought.  She has been accepted to a good school here in Indiana. “You don’t know what you’re talking about” is what her wise mom thought.  And just as audible as I could hear, the Lord said to my spirit, “I want to work in her life, but you’re standing in the way.  Back off.In that moment, I knew God was speaking to my daughter, and she was hearing Him. I also knew if she was called to the mission field like she’d been suggesting, going to a school far away would be a stepping stone for her and us.

Why does God have to plan so good?

So, our heart-wrenching-good-bye at the school over the mountain where she knew no one was just a stepping step, the first step, in releasing her to the life God has called her to.

releasing and letting go of childrenStep two of saying good-bye as she’s going to the mountains of Guatemala is equally as challenging. This time, good-bye is another step in a longer good-bye that may, someday, be for good.

With each good-bye, as I watch my child’s faith grow, my own faith has been immeasurably stretched.

How can I argue with a child who’s allowed the King to capture her heart? How can I argue with God about His will for my daughter?

Releasing to let go.  Not easy, but essential.

Yet being mindful of my cousin who lost her own daughter serving in full-time ministry.  The Lord called her home at age 34 just a few months ago. A good-bye never expected.

“I’m ready to come home, but not ready to leave.”

That just about sums up this thing called Life. Longing to be with him, but not quite ready to leave her.

Whatever your good-byes may be this week, may we all rest in the comfort of our Lord and Savior.  Clinging to the good, releasing the rest for His glory.

Please find out the rest of the story, Kaylee’s inspiring story, tomorrow, here at Life Beyond the Picket Fence







Parenting Series: God Will Supply Your Needs/Free Resource

Thanks for the great post!  By Kristin L. Nelson of Not Alone Mom
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
This is the verse that runs through my mind over and over again as I walk up and down the aisles at the grocery store getting the items my family needs.
God will meet all my needs according to His riches and glory. God will meet all my needs according to His riches and glory…”
Over and over again all throughout the store as I pick up each item evaluating if it’s a “need” or a “want”…
Yesterday when I was at the grocery it was no different… but as I was walking to my car with my cart full of groceries quietly thanking God for providing my needs something truly switched on in my mind.
According to HIS riches…and HIS glory”
His riches are limitless… His glory is limitless…
The only limitations that occur are when WE put them there!
When we align our lives (mind and heart), our finances (tithing; good stewardship), our families (modeling Christ) with His word we can rest in knowing without a doubt that He will, indeed, provide for us and make a way even when there seems no way!
While I was sharing this with my husband we made a pact, an official proclamation that we would continue to trust in Him and claim victory in our lives in the way of finances while in the midst of the difficult time… not after, but now!  We agreed together in prayer that we would continue to praise Him and trust wholeheartedly that He will, in fact, continue to provide all of our needs.
A few hours later I received an email from someone who wanted to mail us a check to bless us… the amount of the check would cover the entire cost of our grocery bill plus a little extra!
One blessing at a time… God is faithful!
As mothers, we have a tendency to worry about how we will take care of our family.  I think it’s part of our instinct when we become mothers.  While God never intends for us to fret, He makes mothers highly aware of the needs of the family.  It’s a beautiful thing really, but through our own human nature and predisposition to worry (because we’re human) this heightened awareness often manifests as anxiety.
What we need to do is remember God’s promises.  He promises that He will take care of us.  He promises to meet all of our needs according to His riches and Glory.  He loves us, He sees our needs and wants to meet our needs.  He simply asks that we trust in Him, seeking Him first and then all of these things will be given to us. Period.
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?   But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:5-6
Free E-Book
This week, May 1-3, contributing writer Josh Kissee is offering a free download of his book, “Bringing up Boys of Character: 12 Core Virtues Decoded for ages 4-9” from Amazon Click here to find it!.
About the Author
Joshua Kissee, M.Ed., is the founder of ManBuilders.Com, a cause devoted to encouraging parents to raise their sons strategically through proactive parenting. Joshua is married to Rebecca Kissee and has five sons: Jacob, Jordan, Johnathan, Jonah, and Jared. The family enjoys living in Central Texas.
Description of the bookbringing up boys of character book cover_Promo
What should every boy learn before he becomes a man? Within each boy, a core of character virtues must be developed.  Decode these virtues while improving the relationship with your son and build his character through practical tips, lessons, activities, events, and spending time together. Bringing up Boys of Character: 12 Core Virtues Decoded for ages 4-9 will give parents the tools needed to start building your son into a man before he enters the pre-teen and teen years. Get started today!
Parents of boys, especially ages 4-9.

The Parenting Series:The Simple Question and the Not-So-Easy-Answer

Last week my son came to me with a simple question.

Mom, are you busy?”MP900438778

I groaned inside because I knew the answer.  The right answer was “No. ” The wrong answer, which was inside my head, said “I really don’t want to stop what I’m doing.”

Luckily, my mouth came up with the right answer.

“No, what do you need?”

Would you play this with me?”  I looked in the hand of my sixth-grader.  He was holding a home-made board game on Carnegie he made for a school assignment.

“Sure” I said, though I silently rebelled.

Playing games is on my most-despised-mom-duty-list.

We sat on our living room floor that Saturday afternoon and in ten minutes, we successfully completed the game while learning about the life of Carnegie.  My son was happy, with a wide, content smile when we were done.  He resumed doing whatever he does in the Man-Cave with his brothers, and I returned to things a blogging/working mom does on Saturdays.

I felt guilty for being selfish with my time, but I knew ten minutes playing the Carnegie game was the most important use of my time for the week.  I cherished the time in my heart because there aren’t too many times when kids ask if I’m “not busy” these days in a house of teenage boys.   I thought back to days, not too long ago, when I was too busy for just about everything.  When the need came to spend unscheduled time with a child, I used to calculate in my head the cost of putting them off or stopping and engaging with them.   My heart usually overruled my head, resulting in precious, irreplaceable time with my kids.

A bedtime storyAs my son walked away, I longed for more time to spend with each my kids…..time snuggled in a rocking chair with three of them in my lap reading Mike Mulligan and the Steamshovel or singing “Trust and Obey.”  My heart yearned for my daughter to bring me cups of tea she imaginably made or for my sons to pour seed corn in my lap while they “unloaded the bins” with toy John Deere tractors.  Even now, the tears fall from my cheeks as I ponder these things in my heart.  I’m thankful I gave the right answer to the monumental question, “Are you busy?”

A friend and I were recently talking about many moms that seem to struggle with being content with where they are with little ones under their feet.  I remember being there.  I remember wondering if I’d ever have a thought or moment of my own or if I would ever have time where there wasn’t someone demanding my energy and time.

Now, when the rare moment comes when a child asks or calls, “Mom, are you busy?,”  I rush at the chance to be fully present with my not-so-little-little-ones. 

If I could say one word to young, harried, stretched-to-the-limit moms, it would be to seek God’s peace and contentment in the season you are in.  While the world might seem to be passing you by, it’s not.  And even if it is, your children will pass by even faster.  Once they are self-sufficient and their world revolves around their peers, you will long for just a wisp of their presence and a five-minute conversation to hear their voice.  You will yearn for time with them where you can be fully present.

God granted me ten minutes to learn about Carnegie and also affirm the time and effort my son put into his project.  We talked about other things in the process, and his fill for Mom-time was done.   But later that night, when the other two boys were in bed, I opened their doors, sat beside them in the dark, and asked if I could pray with them.

They said “Sure,” so I put my hand on their strong, manly-arms and prayed while they laid in the beds next to the picture of their girlfriends on the nightstand.   I took a chance, leaned over to kiss their heads, and felt my heart flutter as they said, “Good –night Mom” as I walked out the door.

Ten minutes was all it took, but my heart was filled as I hope was theirs.

Because our kids – whether two, twelve, or twenty, need us to be fully theirs for a few moments in time.

Dear Lord, thank you for each moment you give us.  Thank you for the seasons and stages we have with our children.  Please equip each of us as moms to stop, look, and listen to our children. Help us to not be busy when we need to be present with them.  Stretch our time, soften our hearts, and let us see our kids as you do.  Thank you for the moments you give us – help us not to miss the most important opportunities be you to our kids.

Where do you need to give one of your kids just ten minutes of your time?