Remembories: How to Get Your Kids Talking

Dinner: It’s my favorite time of the day, even when it’s not. We try to protect this time, even when we have to force the quiet, the togetherness, the pause. It’s dinner time at our house. I’ve written about it before: the craziness and the routine, but I wanted to share some ways to gets your kids talking.

[Now, just to disclose, my kids never have a problem with talking, the always have to plenty to say. But sometimes I have a hard time getting them to open up about the right things.]

So, we ask questions. It’s simple really. My youngest has coined the term: Remembories (which is just a fancy preschool way of saying remembering memories).

Kids love to remember memories about themselves and it turns out it’s a great way to get them talking!

Ask, listen & connect.

Here’s some to get your started:


  • What’s your favorite memory of you?
  • When did you start walking?
  • How much did you weigh at birth?
  • If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
  • What do you like best about yourself?

Your room:

  • What’s your favorite memory in your room?
  • What do you love most about your room? the least?
  • What would you change about your room?

The yard:

  • The best thing we’ve ever played in our yard?
  • What do you love most about it? the least?
  • If you could add one big thing to our yard, what would it be?


  • What’s your favorite memory of school?
  • What do you love most now? dislike the most now?
  • What is the best grade you’ve had?
  • What grade do you look the most forward to?


  • What’s your favorite memory of something we’ve done together?
  • What do you want to do as a family someday?
  • Do you ever wish we had more/less kids?
  • What would you keep the same/change about our family?


  • What’s the best memory you have with a friend?
  • Name some of your favorite friends. Why?
  • Do you wish you had more/less/better friends?
  • Do you make friends easy or hard. Why?


  • What’s your best memory of church?
  • Do you think God talks to you? How?
  • What would you tell God if He were sitting at dinner with us?
  • Do you think all people should know about Jesus?

The World:

  • Where do you dream of going someday? Why?
  • What kind of language would you like to learn?
  • How do you think people live in other countries? Like us or different
  • If you could give people in another country one thing, what would it be?

Pin It
Download printable for free!



For When You Know Too Much

When sorrows like sea billows roll…

the verse from the old hymn made me grip the back of the seat at church.

I thought of the wave of sorrows I have known the past year-loving Maureen, losing her family members, letting God build a house, living a life with one foot here, the other there. Equally, I’ve experienced the most profound joy I’ve ever known.

But now, it’s the new sorrow that each of our Mercy House girls carries from abuse, neglect, threatening to destroy them.

Some days, I don’t want to read the emails from Africa or wait for the ping of Skype. It’s not because I don’t long for Maureen, them. It’s simply because I’m afraid.

If I’ve learned anything in this wild God-journey, building a maternity home in Africa, it’s to expect the unexpected. And sometimes I’m scared the problem will be too big.

I’m afraid I won’t have answers for staff asking questions-hard ones about 10 year old girls being raped by step-dads and wondering if we have enough money for outpatient hospital care for one of our unstable girls and…..

I struggle because I don’t have the answers. Not even one.

I know too much. Imagine the worst situation for a young girl in Kenya-the worst. (Hunger. Prostitution. Rape. Incest?) Now double it, triple it. I’ve learned of things I cannot even imagine.

Some days, knowing so much is too much to handle.

And the sorrow like sea billows roll….

I sat on the dark beach, illuminated only by moon, and whisper-cried to Ann a few weeks ago how heavy the burden is some days. And even on days, it’s lighter, the guilt presses in. Do we buy a new sofa because ours stinks (literally smells)? Or do we make do because we have so much and know those with so little. She grasped my hand, tears glistening in the moonlight and I knew she knew.

I’ve never lost a parent or a child. I haven’t know physical abuse or neglect. I was raised in middle-class America, braces on my teeth, degree in my pocket. I live a comfy American life, and most days, I’m the wrong person for the job.

But then He reminds me, in the way only God can, you said yes. It is enough.

I don’t need you to fix the problems or offer solutions. I need you to trust and let me move.

And I find my way back to the place where I need Him.

Every hour. I need Him.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.


I know that we face periods of sorrow in our lives-sick children, aging parents, financial crisis. Moments when we just need Him.

How can we bear each other’s burdens today?

WFMW: 52 Projects that Will Make Your Life Simpler

This is one of those practical e-books that’s worth it’s weight in gold.

Simply put, I believe it can revolutionize your life and help you regain control over the often-chaotic stress of running a family!


I’m sure most of you have heard of Simple Mom.. Tsh, the author of the blog and this e-book (among other things) offers 52 projects that range from “Making a debt-free plan” to “Organizing your photo collection” to “Creating a family chore system” to “Learning to say no.”

It’s practical, helpful and doable—My kind of e-book with note-taking pages and creative ideas that actually work.

I especially love that it’s set up to tackle one project a week, for 52 weeks. In one year, you can make significant progress in having a simpler life.

In this hectic, fast-pace world, I crave simplicity. Don’t you?

Plus, my friend Tsh, has included a beautiful section on Compassion International. Purchase the e-book for only $5 and a portion goes to Compassion!

Disclaimer: I’m sharing this because I just figured if I love it, you might to. The links are affiliates.

Click here to visit Simple Mom.

One Bite At A Time works for me!


Learning to Be Grateful as a Family

It’s the one thing I long for my family to learn, live:


It’s the one thing I teach by example (or lack 0f), a heart full of thanksgiving, overflowing on my husband, surrounding my children. They are watching, waiting. Not just for the outward, polite, mandatory “thank you.” But the grateful heart that spills out and is contagious.

It’s not just the gratefulness for new things, a comforter on sale for my daughter’s bed brings praise, “thank you, Mom!” It’s thankfulness in the trials, the hard times, the difficult spots we find ourselves. These are the moments that define us: digging deep when gratitude isn’t easy.

Thankfulness isn’t inherited. It often doesn’t come easy. It needs to be practiced, made a priority.

We are counting to a thousand in our house, one thousand thanks to Him.

Each night after our dinner routine, we pull out pen and our Family Gratitude Journal. It’s lovely and leads us into deep, fun conversations.

This past week, we talked about Sara and her choice to choose joy in all circumstances. She has been in our prayers, this far-away, (in)courage writer-friend of mine, who passed away after her fight with a debilitating illness. She left a legacy of thankfulness, which is really about finding the joy in every situation.

My kids asked a couple of hard questions. The kind I don’t have answers for. But we look for the good even when it feels bad.

My kids bring a pen to the table, offer their answers to questions like, “What’s your favorite thing about our house?” and “What makes you laugh?” and then we take turns around the table giving thanks. “Today, I’m thankful for…”

Sometimes the answer is silly (my 4 year old answered “Facebook” the other night to a hysterical family. What??) and sometimes they take my breath away. Like last night when my oldest said she was thankful, truly grateful for something I’d done for her. It hadn’t gone unnoticed and her thankful heart made me smile.

How to Stir Up Thanksgiving in Your Family:

  • Record your gratitude
  • Read past entries aloud
  • Reflect on the day, the good and bad
  • Reinforce-nothing is too small
  • Resolve to give thanks, in all things

I was gifted a Family Gratitude Journal (from Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts) by (in)Courage. Although they aren’t available for giveaways, I bought one to share with one of you, today!


Thank you Lord for… hands of friendship, God our Father, and the Way into Joy. With 1,000 numbered spaces, this robin egg blue journal with a closing strap provides a special way for your family to keep track of God’s gifts to you. The pages are filled with Scriptures, inspirational photos, and conversation starters so you can continue to keep track of the memories your family makes together. Measures 8 3⁄8″×1 3⁄8″×8″ Pockets are built in to many pages for keeping precious notes, photos, and other keepsakes.

If you’d like to win, please tell me something you’re thankful for in the comments.

(You can also purchase one for $24.)

So, choose it: joy. And by doing so, you’ll be teaching your family the greatest gift of all-gratitude.


Now, That’s Romantic!

I don’t need roses.

I don’t need chocolate.

Okay, maybe, I need a little chocolate.

But I don’t need typical romance from my man.

When he does small things that catch me off-guard, things that make me feel cared for, I swoon.

photo credit

Either I’m getting old or we’re becoming THAT couple, but I fall helplessly in love all over again, when he:

  • fills my car up with gasoline
  • programs my GPS before I head to a new address
  • takes out the trash, without a reminder
  • cleans up the kitchen just because
  • takes off his outer shirt during the movies because I’m freezing!
  • shops for me (he has great taste)
  • brings me a sweet tea in the middle of the day
  • sends me to Target or Starbucks because he knows I need to be alone
  • refolds all the towels in the linen closet (just plain sexy)

How about you? When do you feel the most loved?

Dreaming With (Not For) Your Strong-Willed Child

My youngest is a strong, free spirit.

She’s almost “a whole hand” [holiday birthday looming].

I caught a glimpse of her wild “white” hair (as she calls it) under the kitchen table as I fixed dinner the other night. She was cutting a hundred tiny bits of paper and sorting coffee beans into piles. (don’t ask)

“Watcha doing?” I implored, when I really wanted to say  CLEAN UP THAT BIG MESS.

“Making a coffee shop. For Africa,” she replied so matter-of-factly.

I smiled and took a sip of imaginary coffee. It tasted like delicious paper.

Just minutes later, this delightful child was standing at the pantry door, hunting for a snack, a snack I told her she couldn’t have because dinner was soon.

She put her hands on her hips and said, “There’s not a stupendous thing to eat in here!”

That’s her way of saying a bad word (since we don’t allow the word stupid to be used).

In the scope of 2 minutes, my little girl had gone from one extreme to the other. Delightful to Disobedient.

I’m raising a strong-willed child, no doubt, and I’m one of those moms who likes to have my way. This is a dangerous mix. In an effort to get things done the right way (mine, of course), I’m often tempted to engage in a battle with my strong-willed girls.

And when this happens, we both lose. Every time.

If I’m not careful, I find myself squelching some of their dreams, just to get my way. (One time I actually argued with my child about the color of the sky. She wouldn’t back down and it made me furious. I lost more than my cool that day. I lost a perfect opportunity to dream wildly, have fun and use my imagination with her).

A couple of weeks ago, my 4 1/2 year old woke up, insisting that we take the training wheels off her rarely-used bike. My initial thought was NO, and I said so. My hubby, who is much better at all this said, “Why not? She can at least try and she’ll see how hard it is.”

That girl took off riding like a pro and hasn’t stopped since. I think she learned to petal by sheer will. I thought about how my negative reaction might have killed her dream before she even had a chance to try:

I want to share a few simple thoughts that have revolutionized the way I’m raising my strong kids.

Three Keys to Bringing Out the Best in Your Strong-Willed Child (Discover Your Child’s Heart by Dr. Tim Kimmel)

  1. View Them Positively-as hard as it may be to acknowledge, being strong-willed is a gift. A beautiful trait that needs to be refined, but appreciated. They should never feel like having a strong personality is a negative thing.
  2. Draw Clear Boundaries-“Clear moral standards draw boundaries within which a strong-willed child can flourish.” They need consequences, regimentation, traditions, routine, rituals and rest.
  3. Give Them Some Say-most battles can be avoided, if you maintain authority, but also give your child some say…from eating to napping to keeping their room clean, you can work together to accomplish the goal.

[While I was writing this post, I called my hubby in and read these three keys to him {again}. We are constantly reevaluating and working towards raising our strong-willed children well.]

As I helped my little one pick up the tiny bits of paper from under the table, I said,”What do you want to be when you grow up?”

She looked upward, with a hand on her hip, her eyes all dreamy,”A mermaid,” she said matter-of-fact.

“Or a cat.”

I didn’t argue a bit.


Do you have a hard time dreaming with your kids-unleashing their potential, trusting their intuition?

Tell me about your strong-willed child.


This post is part of a series I’m writing from  Family Matters Resources. Family Matters is my sponsor for the Relevant Conference this year! While they are paying for my (and Mercy House) travel expenses, all the opinions in this post are mine.  I have read and used their products and attended their parenting conferences for years (because I want to!) and I highly recommend this organization. The book I mentioned above is a part of their Flag Page, an innovative tool that helps you discover your child’s heart.

41 Reasons

On why I love him:

  1. He pushes me to dream.
  2. He lives on the edge
  3. He is a great employee
  4. He won’t let me manipulate him
  5. He takes care of me
  6. He believes in me
  7. He takes care of himself
  8. He still wants me
  9. He’s cute
  10. He would do anything for me (picture to prove it)
  11. He works hard
  12. He danced in Africa
  13. He takes the trash out
  14. He loads the dishwasher (my least favorite chore)
  15. He tickles the kids
  16. He has integrity
  17. He still has a lot of little boy in him
  18. He fought the battle of his life and won
  19. He helps me
  20. He rubs my aching neck
  21. He holds our kids
  22. He loves God
  23. He is a family man
  24. He is silly
  25. He lives counter-cultural
  26. He has a sexy voice
  27. He makes me laugh
  28. He still kisses me everyday
  29. He makes every kid feel special
  30. He listens to me
  31. He admits when he’s wrong
  32. He runs his hands thru my hair to help me sleep
  33. He loves the outdoors
  34. He takes our kids on dates
  35. He is compassionate
  36. He is an amazing dad
  37. He points our family towards God
  38. He is a “cup half full” kind of guy
  39. He is a father to the fatherless
  40. He is mine
  41. Did I mention he danced in Africa?

Happy 41st birthday to the best man I know!

What do you love about your man?

WFMW: A Splash of Fall (and a Sale)

Orange candles in my Giving Thanks Hurricanes, letters that spell g-r-a-t-i-t-u-d-e

Mantle with a  fall garland (my sister made for me):

My favorite store [DaySpring] is having an awesome sale. Save 20% with Code:PREV20

Get ready for Christmas (I know, I know):

these items are on sale, plus with 20% off–look how cheap!

only $4.39

only $10




















Disclaimer: I’m not getting paid to share this today, I truly love DaySpring. My links are affiliates.

Works for me!

How about you?