The One Thing I Want My Kids to Know About This Christian Life

I have spent my parenting journey making a conscious decision to impart Jesus to my kids through intentional Christian living.

In the last twelve years, we’ve taken our kids to more than 5,000 church services, bought them dozens of Christian t-shirts, own a slew of inspirational fiction and non-fiction books, have attended bi-weekly community group, support nine Compassion children and do regular weekly devotions. We have 7 versions of the Bible, 3 Nativity sets, audio CD’s on inspirational living and countless worship and Christian music albums.  We’ve traveled to Kenya the last two summers as a family and volunteer (daily) at the non-profit our family started.

If anything, we will die trying.

The other night we were doing “highs and lows” of our summer around the dinner table. We talked about the ups and downs of our trip across the country and even about some of the attention our family has received for doing what many call “extraordinary.”

And that’s when I knew we had to teach them the most important lesson yet in this parenting journey.

Because the older I get and the more we do, the more I’m convinced that only one thing really matters: I can spend a lot of time, money and energy being a Christian, but if we don’t have love, we have nothing. Above all, I want my children to love others.

I want them to understand that saying yes to God (Mercy House) doesn’t make our family special and it (shouldn’t) doesn’t make us different.

It simply makes us Christians.

At the end of the day after we’ve painted or taken brownies to a new neighbor or searched the couches for loose change to “change the world”, we do every bit of it for one reason: Because we love Jesus and that makes us love others and loving others magnifies our love for Jesus.

I want them to grow up thinking it’s normal to dirty their hands helping others, wherever that takes them and it just happens to have taken us to the continent of Africa. Our world likes to put a size on things and bigger is better. But in God’s economy, love always wins.

I want my children to know serving (locally and globally) is a key to true Christianity.

I want them to know that is where they will find Jesus.


Move Along, Thieves

I spent this week (the last week before the last week of summer) hanging out with my kids and rolling my eyes at the to do list that continues to grow.

We swam and made this fun treat (great arm workout) and painted pottery, among other things.

And then my kids showed me how easy it is for a burglar to get into our new front door.


So, um, we need to fix that this weekend.

Not that I’m worried (attention all robbers who might read mom blogs), clearly we have killer canine protection.

Y’all have a happy weekend!

Dear 22 Year Old Me:

We were packing the living room, surrounded by a mountain of boxes, when she found it.

Her eyes lit up as she held the white fabric up for size. “Mom, can I try it on? Please.” My almost 13 year old was holding my almost 18 year old wedding dress buried deep in the entry closet.

I hesitated. Not for sentimental reasons, just because I’m task-oriented and it would be another pause in the long road of packing up our home for the pending move.

But I just couldn’t extinguish her shining eyes. And we needed a break.

I love times like these, the ones where I live in the moment.

I swallowed the lump as I zipped the back of my beaded dress.

Then she turned around:

Her Daddy could hardly speak. A flood of memories, doubts and fears, dreams and expectations assailed me. It was surreal seeing my child, so radiant, wearing my dress. The last day it had been worn was the day I committed my heart and future to her daddy, eyes brimming on the other side of the room.

I couldn’t help but think about that young naive girl so long ago. There are a few things I’d love to tell her today. I will share them with the my daughter standing in front of me when she walks down the aisle in her momma’s wedding dress one day …..

Dear 22 Year Old Me:

This marriage thing is going to be harder than you think. But it’s also going to be better than you could ever imagine. “Marriage is made in Heaven, but so is thunder, lightening, hail and tornado.” -unknown

The big stuff you’re worried about won’t really matter. It’s the little things you need to know:

  • Remember why you fell in love
  • Be willing to compromise
  • Kiss everyday for various and numerous reasons
  • Respect each other
  • Laugh when you feel like crying
  • Don’t fret the God stuff
  • Leave the past behind you
  • Lock your bedroom door
  • 40 isn’t old
  • One day your little girl is going to look amazing in your wedding dress. Breathe.

18 years ago today, we fell in love, after 3 years of being best friends. Remember when we “accidentally” kissed while hugging hello and then got married 10 weeks later?

Yeah, after all these years, I love you even more. The best is yet to come.


the 39.5 year old me

WFMW: Kiwi Crate

We are big arts and crafts people at our house. What can I say? We love white glue.

But our summer hasn’t been typical and it’s been hard to squeeze in crafts. That’s why when Kiwi Crate asked if we wanted to try out their craft box, we jumped at the chance. Well, that and because we hadn’t located our moving box labeled CRAFT STUFF.

My favorite two things about the Kiwi Crate: 1. Everything you need is included to make two really great projects for two kids. Can I get an amen from mothers everywhere? 2. Easy to follow directions that are easy to follow. I just watched, snapped some pictures and looked for boxes labeled “Dinner.”

Sisters making windsocks:

I also love that with double the supplies, my kids are still using the leftovers.

And what’s really cool: monthly crafts for kids is available at Kiwi Crate on a subscription basis. When you sign up, ($19.99 a month with free shipping, other options available too), you receive theme-related items to make 2-3 projects (crafts, science experiments, or imaginative play) every month, recommended ages 3-7, but even my big kids added their own twist to the crafts.


So, even if you’re not a “crafty mom,” you can do awesome crafts with your kids without ever having to leave the house for supplies! You can also choose the sibling add-on option for extra materials to be included.

Kiwi Craft is offering my readers a special coupon to receive 25% off your first month. Use code WeAre25

Make sure you check out their Facebook page too for great deals and ideas.

Disclaimer: Kiwi Craft sent me a project to review and compensated me for this post. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Children featured in this post were not paid to have fun.

Around the Table {Giveaway}

UPDATE: Rachel, comment #311, has randomly been selected as the winner of this giveaway.

I get a lot of emails from moms asking what to read around the table.  Our old chalkboard table in our new kitchen:

Here’s a great place to start with all ages:

  1. The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name (all ages)
  2. Window On The World (missions focus)
  3. My Life, His Mission: A Six Week Challenge to Change the World (what we are reading now)
  4. Truth and Dare: One Year of Dynamic Devotions for Girls (ages 9-12) and Triple Dog Dare: One Year of Dynamic Devotions for Boys (ages 9-12)—–winner’s choice

I want to encourage you to bring dinner (and family time) back to the table! Just last night, we had such a special moment reading together. At the end of our not-so-perfect devotion time, my husband prayed out loud, “God, I want to follow you wherever you lead me and I want to commit myself to you again in front of my kids.”

And then each of my kids, from the youngest to the oldest, prayed the same thing. When it was my turn, I was all blurry-eyed and I just wanted to bottle the moment up! Most of our dinners aren’t like this, but we are beginning to see fruit from making this time together a priority [stepping off soapbox now].

Today, I’m giving away this gorgeous Blessings Unlimited Lazy Susan (value $94) to one lucky reader, plus any one book choice from my massive recommended family reading list.

Tell me what you love/hate/struggle/succeed with around the table and you’ll be entered to win! (And if you read someone’s comment and you have a helpful suggestion, please add it!)

Giveaway ends on Thursday.

How to Slow Down Life

I have a gauge that helps me recognize if life is getting too busy.

Lately, it has been.

With our summer trip to Kenya and recent move, it feels like life is set to speed dial. This has been going on in Kenya while a storage building has been going up in our backyard this week to house Mercy House operations and volunteers. It’s good stuff, but even the good can make you tired. It’s perfect breeding ground for burnout and I’m smart enough to sense it.

I long for it to slow down.

And half the battle is admitting I have the power to control the setting on the dial.

We can’t put everything on pause, work and school and our commitment to Mercy House demand our attention. But we are discovering some powerful ways to recapture strength and focus on what we are chasing:

How to slow down life:

  • Say no: I like saying yes, I like being involved, but I recognize that I’m in a season of saying no. For the first time in years, I won’t be attending the Allume Conference or the (in)courage writer’s retreat this fall. I’m honestly just too tired and I can think of more reasons not to go than to. I am limiting speaking commitments to just a few times in 2013, as part of my commitment to slow down. My kids are also choosing to say “yes” carefully. Saying no takes a lot of courage and consistency, but I know we won’t regret it.
  • Stop and ask for help: I stink at this. I really do. But I am convinced it’s the key to making time for what really matters. I am still a volunteer worker at Mercy House and depend on many, many volunteers for help. But after wise counsel and objective opinion, I’ve hired part time help (15 hours a week) to help me manage The Mercy Shop and the administrative end of Mercy House. I also hope to focus on writing just because I love it. I’m at capacity and can be honest to admit it. I’m learning that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s proof of strength.
  • Schedule family time: Without a doubt, having regular date nights with my husband and kids and not letting life get in the way of being together is vital to the health of our family. This is actually our most effective gauge to help us recognize when we’ve become too busy.

Key question: Are we having regular family dinners?

If the answer is no because we aren’t home to be around the table or we are high-fiving and rushing thru a hurried meal, it’s time to make some changes. Obviously we all have busy weeks, but when missing family meals becomes the norm, it’s time to slow down. I realize just by typing this I’m suggesting something counter-cultural. I’m okay with that.

Chasing what doesn’t matter is the temptation in this life and when we do, we speed up life and miss what is important.

Our family meal time is our one serious connection of the day. And honestly, it’s not that serious. In between our family devotion last week and our missions focus where we pray for a country, I told my kids about the time before they were born when their dad played this song (Daddy Cut the Big One) for our parents. I let them guess which set of grandparents thought it was funny and which set didn’t crack a smile. We laughed and then of course, listened to the song before we prayed for Bali.

Immediately after we break bread, we break Bread. It’s our time to have a family devotion, think about others, pray for a country out of this book, and memorize a Scripture if we’re really on (our book list). We let our kids doodle if it helps them listen better and we all clean up together. Toby Mac dancing music is optional.

Hands down, this is still the best part of our day.

And it’s even better when we aren’t too busy to recognize it.


P.S. Mark your calendars and stay tuned for this: Aug. 27, 2012

And Then the Guy With the Mullet Made My Day

When I got the call, I waited and anxiously peered out the blinds like Mrs. Kravitz.

And if you’re too young to remember Mrs. Kravitz, don’t tell me, m’kay? (as I pluck a stray gray hair)

I pulled out my camera and Mr.Mullet Delivery Guy laughed and said, “You’d be surprised how many moms take a picture of their new appliances.” Only a mom would understand another mother’s joy over a new Maytag Bravos XL washer and dryer.

But I didn’t laugh because stain-fighting is a serious matter. May God bless laundering mothers everywhere. Amen.

Our new laundry room has been bare with a growing laundry pile.

I shoved boxes created a nice pathway for the washer and dryer to be installed.

And then I finally met my two new girlfriends.

It was love at first wash and dry. I fired these babies up before the delivery truck was gone.

I love the purr of these machines. This high efficiency Maytag duo is amazing! The washer capacity is huge and more than enough for our dirty laundry piles. The dryer is so quiet. They also both sing a little ditty when you open the door and that just makes me happy.

Make sure you check out the Maytag PageMaytag Facebook, and Maytag Twitter

Disclaimer: I wrote this post as a #MayTagMoms Dependable Laundry Ambassador through mom Central Consulting on behalf of Maytag. I was provided with the Maytag washer and dryer set to facilitate my post.

So, This is How My Week is Going

My son took batteries out of his little sister’s favorite toy for his dead Wii remote control.

And she lost it.

My 5 year old was so angry, she decided to tear him out of our family picture.

Oh yeah.

Beat that.

Just keepin’ it real.