How to Inspire Your Children to Rock

Like most young people, my kids live in extremes. Some day they are extremely awesome and some days they aren’t. A lot like me, actually. But every day, we are all one choice away from changing the world.

Last week I introduced them to JoJo Rock, a 9 year old rapper, who wrote a creative arrangement of Amazing Grace to help raise money, so he could sponsor his own child and spread the word that Compassion sponsorship really works. (I completely agree).

I love this kid already.

Here’s the story.

I pulled my kids over to my laptop and shared this song with them:

My six year old said, “I want to do something like that!”

And she wasn’t talking about rapping.

World Changing. It’s the new black.

We sat down as a family and I shared four causes I knew of that had an immediate need. My kids chose to buy a sewing machine for someone in a third world country to start their own business and are planning a garage/bake/stuff sale. They are in charge!

Our kids rock, sometimes they just need a little inspiration from other world changers like JoJo and a little encouragement from us.

This weekend everyone brought ten things from their room to donate to the sale. It’s a small idea, big impact.

You can make a difference today: Would you help JoJo raise money to help his sponsored child?

All money from the sale of the song in iTunes is going to his sponsor child Charles who lives in Uganda.

I dare you to be inspired and encourage your kids to rock!

Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World

When my family moved a few miles away to a smaller town last year, we swapped a huge school district for a smaller, more rural one, a push mower for a broken down riding one that my hubby fixed and city sewage for our very own septic system (just don’t play in the sprinklers). And while we are still close to The City (and by city, I mean Target and Chick Fil A), it was time we two-stepped over to the other side–and became a boot-wearing family.


On the way to the Rodeo a few weeks ago, one of my kids had a nasty, ungrateful outburst and I was half tempted to leave them in tennis shoes (the horror), but grace won out. Outfitting our children in cowboy boots was quite a splurge (hubby and I already had some).

After a fun day, we drove home, and this same kid’s ugly attitude showed up again with a bit of entitlement thrown in and it went downhill from there. There was dysfunctional family activity (so glad my life isn’t a reality show) and my husband asked for the boots back. This sort of broke my country heart, but I knew it was the right thing to do.

We didn’t buy the boots, so we could return them. As a matter of fact, my hubby couldn’t find the receipt at first and I bit my nails because THIS PARENTING THING IS SO HARD. We wanted our child to share the joy down to their feet, but it was the heart that needed the immediate attention.

The said child cried and begged and promised and fretted. And then pulled the grace card: “Why can’t you show me grace?”

I piped up and said, “Buying you the boots in the first place was grace” and then I recounted the earlier behavior.

My husband put the boots back in the box and stuck them on a high shelf in the laundry room and said,”If you want the boots, you’ll have to work for them.” He pointed to the huge mulched areas in the front yard and then the back. “You have 3 days to pull every weed. I won’t remind you, it’s up to you. It’s your job if you want it. It pays in boots.”

And that was that.

I wanted to high five my man and sob with my child, all at the same time. Because, lo, the weeds were many.

Our big yard is muddy and wet and full of weeds and I grimaced at the job, wondering what my child would choose. I was a silent cheerleader on their behalf. And my heart soared when I heard the front door click and I saw my offspring in old clothes sit down for the long hours ahead.

For the next two days, I watched my child work hard and get hands dirty and heart tender.

When my husband handed back the boots and I heard a true apology on my kid’s lips, I knew we had all won. “You earned these. I won’t take them away again.” A certain little cowhand is walking high around here and those boots means twice as much this time around. Hard work pays off and changes us in the process.

We live in an entitled world and whether we like it or not, children in our culture are consumers. It has become a global issue because they are a captive audience and the average kid views up to 40,000 commercials a year and business pour up to 17 billion into that advertising. Source. If you still doubt, just walk down the Easter aisles in your local store. Because only a consumer-driven society could take a Savior on a cross and turn it into a four aisles at the grocery store.

“Marketers want to accomplish two things with our children:

  1. Awaken and amplify their desire to consume
  2. Blur the line between wants and needs.” Source

And this combination is creating a generation of children who aren’t grateful, who expect everything to be handed to them and don’t really know how to work and this breeds the greatest enemy of all: discontentment.

Just look at what our culture has done with holidays. They’ve turned it all into hoopla and not only is it confusing to our kids to live in a world of made-up celebrations, it muddies the waters of the Holy ones and their true intent is lost.

If “true godliness with contentment is great wealth” (1 Timothy 6:6), then discontentment leaves of spiritually bankrupt and completely empty.

Honestly, I don’t blame the kids. As parents, we often foster this mentality with our own actions. We compare ourselves (and our homes, cars, etc) to what others have, we let media (and ultimately, advertising) influence our home by not limiting screen time and we have a hard time deciphering between needs and wants.

Fighting the entitlement battle  in our home is hard, but here are some things we are doing to try and live counter-culturally in this area:

  1. We are Asking for Hard Work– I think many kids in our culture (my own included) don’t know much about hard work. I grew up in a house that worked. We cleaned and did yard work every weekend and everyone helped clean up the kitchen every night. A few weeks ago, we spent most of the day in the yard. And the more my kids complained, the more I realized how much we had neglected giving them hard, dirty work. My kids get their own laundry basket and take over washing, folding and putting away their clothes when they turn 8, they take turns helping clean up in the kitchen and their rooms, but it was clear to me that a little hard work was needed. I’m excited to say a truckload of dirt and rock are sitting in our driveway right now, waiting a few hard workers. Oh parenting, you do come in handy. (Phil 2:14-15)
  2. We aren’t Making Unrealistic Promises-We regularly tell our kids not to expect us to pay for college. While we hope to help in some way, we don’t have plans to pay it for their college education in its entirety. We expect them to work hard now, focus on their gifted areas, get scholarships, part time jobs, etc, to contribute. We try not to make them promises that only enhance the entitlement attitude in our culture or promises we don’t know if we can keep.
  3. We are Sticking to Consequences-If we suggest a consequence, we commit to seeing it thru as often as we can. I’ve come up with some stupid consequences in my day and have regretted my rash tongue. But something clicks in our kid when they understand we are serious about some things.
  4. We are Limiting Media-Hushing the voices of our culture that is telling our kids all the stuff they need comes in part by tuning it out. Media specifically targets our children to want a lot of stuff they don’t need. We have a TV and computers and devices, but besides filtering them, we turn them off. My kids still complain about it, which reinforces exactly why it’s important.
  5. We are Exposing Them to the World-I’m a firm believer that an entitlement attitude is in direct correlation to perspective. When you’re only looking and thinking about yourself, you can only see what you want. But when you remove the blinders and see needs around you and in the world, it alters your perspective. Exposing our kids to other cultures and how most of the world really lives, stirs up gratitude like nothing else.
  6. We are Extending Grace-Living by a bunch of strict rules and do’s and don’ts isn’t the answer. Being flexible with your own rules is not only necessary, it’s healthy for your family. And let’s face it, who doesn’t need extra grace? We are on the same team.
  7. We are Examples in our Mistakes-Ouch. This is the hardest. When I compare and complain, I’m leading by example. When I am thankful and gracious, they are watching. As I make mistakes, I’m offering them the greatest lesson. It’s important to admit when we are wrong and ask for forgiveness when we hurt our kids.
  8. We are Raising them to Be Different– I Peter 2:11 Our society has low expectations of kids. We expect toddlers to get what they want and teens to be rebellious. Instead of helping our kids fit in every area of their lives (an impossibility, really), we are encouraging them to go against the flow, reminding them we’re supposed to be different than the world.  They are normal kids and have longings to fit in-we all do. We just aren’t going to compromise our beliefs or lives to do so in every circumstance.
  9. We are Relying on God- By far, parenting is the hardest job. And honestly, there are so many days, we don’t know what to do. Our kids belong to God. He loves them more than we do. He wants to guide us down the hard roads.

Our family certainly didn’t need new boots, even though we plan to wear them for years to come. But walking a mile in them taught us a great lesson in gratitude. Some days we feel like we’ve lost the battle against entitlement in our home; we are still in the trenches, trying to figure this all out. But as we reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice and turn our attention to The Cross, it’s thankfulness for His sacrifice and our chance at New Life that I want them to grasp the most.

WFMW: Quick Breakfast Treat

works for me wednesday at we are that family
A couple of Saturdays ago, my oldest wanted to try a fun, yummy treat for breakfast she had seen on Pinterest.

We happened to have the one ingredient needed: a can of cinnamon rolls.

She fired up the waffle maker and we put uncooked rolls in on medium heat for 3-4 minutes.


It cooks perfectly waffled cinnamon rolls really fast.

We added a bit of the icing and my kids devoured them.

Any one else have any repurposed waffle maker recipes?

It works for us! What works for you?

Learn more about WFMW here.

I Am Loved & Redeemed {Giveaway}

UPDATED with WINNER: Congrats to random comment #77, Merkel Momma. You won and have been emailed.

Merkel Momma

I downloaded a great little family Lent devotional guide and envisioned healthy, spiritual discussions around the table with my husband and children as we prepared our hearts for Easter.

Um, so about that.

We are 9 days behind and the last time I opened it, one of my kids was under the table having a meltdown because two of her veggies were touching something else on her plate.

I slammed down my Kindle and said, “Just forget it.”

Because sometimes I forget the reason behind my intention. I work to create an atmosphere of holiness and happiness in our home and then humanity gets in the way.

We did the dishes and I huffed and puffed my way thru.

I heard the whisper, from the one who is Easter, Risen, a constant reminder when my imperfection ruins my intention, “Kristen, I love you for who you are and not what you do.”

Why do I so often forget these precious, important, healing words? It’s not what I do. And I do a lot. It’s who I am-that’s what He wants during this Holy season and every day before and after. Once again, God shows me it’s my inadequacy that leads me to his feet. It’s my imperfection that my children see and learn from.

I’m here to tell you: HE LOVES YOU FOR WHO YOU ARE AND NOT WHAT YOU DO. [Col. 2:13-14]

So, can I urge you to stop and just receive His love today.

It’s called grace and that’s what Easter is all about.


You are loved and redeemed.

He wore the cruel crown of thorns so we could wear a pure heart.

Put that on today.

If you’d like to win this limited edition beautiful reminder above, created by The Vintage Pearl, leave a comment as your entry.

This giveaway ends on Good Friday.

Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That

In less than a month, I’ll be on a plane to Kenya. I’ve traveled with my family the past few summers, but we have house details and home visits and an important video to shoot with a local church that has chosen Mercy House for their 2013 Advent Conspiracy, so I’m going earlier with a photographer friend of mine.

Ever since I nearly accidentally died (remember that?) of kidney failure the day before our family was supposed to fly to Africa (and had to postpone our family trip in 2011), I like to get checked out before I travel. Mainly, because I WANT TO LIVE. While the kidney issue was a freak medical mystery, I did suffer a bit of permanent kidney damage, so I have blood work done four times a year.

Plus, I’m dealing with some dental issues that I don’t want to become an issue while I’m on the other side of the globe…also on my list:  a mole check and a mammogram. THIS IS 40.

At my doctor’s visit a few weeks ago, lab results showed I was in great health. Except. My B12 was very low, which can lead to anemia and other things that are scary. Google always gives me cancer, so I try to avoid it. My doctor nonchalantly said, “You can give yourself an injection, right?”

Clearly, she knows me not. And also, I’m a liar because I said, “sure.”


When the pharmacist handed over needles 2 inches long, this should have been my first clue. He said the injection had to be intramuscular which is code for THIS WILL CAUSE PAIN. The prescription said I was to give myself a shot three days in a row and then once a week for six months.

I brought the medicine home and handed it over to my husband who was confidant he could give me injections. I felt good about l until I caught him watching a HOW TO GIVE AN INJECTION VIDEO ON THE YOUTUBE. He backed me into a corner and when he saw fear in my eyes, he said, “It’s not like you’ve never had a shot.”

To which I replied, “And it’s not like you’ve ever given me one!”

He stuck me in the arm and then said, “I think your thigh would be better.” I’m not kidding. I should have run at that point. He slowly inserted it into my leg and OH, THE BURN. I squinted my eye open and saw half the medicine running down my leg.

Well, that wasn’t in the video.

He mumbled something about a faulty syringe and I limped away. Later I visited with a pharmacist for pointers. Her diagnosis: USER ERROR.

You think?

I texted my hubby a picture of the enormous bruise on my thigh and he said he was never trying that again, even with pharmacist’s tips.  So, I asked a dear nursing friend to come over and give me shots. You know in my spare time.


Last week I sat in a dental chair for 3 hours with my mouth pried open. Nightmare. I left with two crowns because apparently one crown isn’t enough for this queen. Oh, and The Laughing Gas. Totally worth the upgrade. Apparently, I’m hilarious high because I asked if I could take a tank of the gas home with me. Who knew?

Later this week, I’m heading back to deal with ancient leaking fillings and a root canal. Because I like paying for my dentist’s summer vacation.

While my hubby was with the kids, he texted me this special sentence: “the cat just knocked over the fish tank. The fish has a broken back. We are watching it, but it will probably die in a few hours.”

My response: Go ahead and flush it.


Somes days you’ve just got to laugh!

Resources for Raising Girls in Our World Today

Well. That was something else.

Clearly, we need to talk more about how to raise our daughters in this world. I’m not an authority or expert (which is why I usually just tell my story and point to good resources), but I am a conservative Christian and I am not ashamed of how we choose to raise our girls in a world that often devalues them. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me (the road is narrow, after all).

I know when it comes to modesty, there are extremes: I won’t be sewing clothes for my daughters or making them wear a swimsuit that looks like a full body unitard. There also won’t be thongs or string bikinis in their drawers. But this isn’t just about modesty or what stores sell, it’s not about sex or singleness or feminism, it’s about choices we make and boundaries we lay as parents as we raise them in a world filled with degradation and objectification.  It’s about loving our little girls and leading them by example.  It’s about going against what our culture says is okay and trying to live more like Jesus.

And I’m the first to admit, I mess this up and I get lost in knowing how to navigate this journey, but I will not give up on my daughters or myself. And I remind all of us that, regularly.

I’ve compiled some great resources (mostly, Tween to Teen, some resources for under age 8) we’ve used and some that have been recommended. This is not a comprehensive list and I’m not getting anything in exchange for listing these items, books are Amazon affiliate links. (I am listing resources I would personally use) And it goes without saying (although I’m saying it since there are a lot of new readers here), the Bible is our ultimate resource. It is my daily go-to guide):


Books for Mom and Dad (Body image, modesty, sex, purity, boys):

Books/Magazines for Daughters:

Devotions to have with your Girls (Tween to Teen):

Stylish Clothing Sites with Modest Choices for teens/girls:


Positive Girl Clubs/Groups:


        • Britt Nicole
        • Francesca Battistelli
        • Jamie Grace
        • BarlowGirl
        • Mandisa

Websites for our Girls:


      • A Mighty Girl: collection of books, toys and movies for smart, confident, and courageous girls

Raising Daughters in a World That Devalues Them: 7 Things We Must Tell Them

I took my daughter shopping one night over Spring Break. It’s flip flop and shorts weather down here in Texas about 10 months out of the year, not to mention my girl gets taller every minute. She passed me up months ago.

Shopping with my teenager should be fun. And mostly it is, except for the actual clothes-shopping-part. It’s so hard to find modest clothes. My teen doesn’t even ask for the shorty shorts any more, even though it’s challenging to find anything but in the stores.

“Why do they do it, Mom? Why do so many stores sell such immodest clothes for girls?” She was frustrated. It was a question I didn’t know how to answer. I think about how girls are viewed in this world and in return, how they view themselves. How do I tell my 13 year old daughter that sex sells? But I do tell her. She’s a smart girl and notices that some stores sell padded bikini bathing suit tops to 8 year olds.

It’s time for moms to be offended and stand up to giant stores like Victoria’s Secret and the way they sell sex to our daughters. Their new tween brand is called, “Bright Young Things,” and includes lace black cheeksters with the word “Wild” emblazoned on it, green and white polka-dot hipsters screen printed with “Feeling Lucky?” and a lace trim thong with the words, “Call me” on the front. Source.

“Our country is replete with an unprecedented number of young girls suffering from eating disorders and body mutilation, while pushing the limits of sexual promiscuity. Is this racy underwear modeled by unrealistically thin girls really the best that we have to offer our girls? In this age when female sex trafficking is becoming a wide-spread crisis, reaching into the depths of our inner cities, is it really responsible for Victoria’s Secret to entice our impressionable young girls with this “come hither” message?

Underwear that reads, “Call me” does nothing but cheapen a girl’s self-esteem while exacerbating the objectification of her God-given femininity. Our children are being objectified by retailers who see them as nothing more than a path to increased profits.”-Amy Gerwing


We live in a world that hates girls.

Too harsh? I don’t think so. Globally, did you know that more than 200 million girls in our world have been aborted or abandoned in what is being called a “gendercide?” Many who survive, face neglect, violence and most likely sex trafficking. We might feel detached from this epidemic on this side of the world, but we aren’t. The Super Bowl is the biggest day for sex trafficking in the world and most major cities including the one closest to me, is a hub for young girls to be sold into sex slavery.

Coupled with the pornography industry, when you consider every second, 28,258 Internet users are viewing nude images of somebody’s daughter, it’s more than disturbing.  Source

Yesterday I read about a young girl who was raped. She was just six years old. I’ve heard of horror stories like these thru our work at Mercy House, but this wasn’t in distant Africa. It was in our county, 20-something miles away. I have an innocent six year old and I am sickened by the crime against this child.

And as if all that isn’t enough to turn a momma gray, the surge of aggressive girls taking the initiative with guys at a very young age, trying to lure them into sexual activity has increased dramatically :

What in the world is happening?

What is going on in the hearts of some young girls that causes them to be so assertive?  I think there are several reasons for what we are seeing: (from Family Life)

First, the culture is supporting it.  Movies, television shows, commercials, magazines, books …  they all glamorize sex and intimacy and the right of young women to go after whatever it is they think will make them happy.

Second, we have a whole generation of young men who are confused in their own sexual identity. Are they supposed to be sensitive or aggressive? Leaders or helpers?  Many young men today are not being taught how to treat a young lady with nobility, dignity, and respect. Many are growing up without a father or male figure to provide guidance.  As a result, some of these young men have no idea how they should expect to be treated by a real young lady.

Third, the breakdown of the family has resulted in a whole generation of daughters who have been abandoned. And in the absence of a healthy, emotional attachment to their fathers and mothers, they’re trying to fill their emotional gas tanks with the opposite sex.

Finally, there’s little or no preparation for adolescence occurring among parents of preteens or early teens.  This may be the core problem.  When you ask parents of preteens how many of them would like their children to have the same experience they had in adolescence, there aren’t many hands that go up.  But those same parents often become increasingly detached as their children move into the adolescent years.

Seven Things We Must Tell Our Daughters:

  1. You are Valuable:: She needs to know she is important and so valued that you will protect her with rules and boundaries because you love her. There is safety and comfort within those restrictions, even when she pushes against them.
  2. Your Worth Isn’t Based on Your Appearance:: She needs to be told she is beautiful–not because she’s wearing a sassy outfit or new lipgloss–her worth is not found in her appearance, the opinions of others or herself. She is beautiful because she was created in the image of God. Her appearance has little to do with true beauty and her worth isn’t wrapped up in looking good or being perfect.
  3. You Don’t Need a Guy:: She needs to hear starting at a young age (but it’s never too late to start telling her). She needs to be told a boy doesn’t complete her, God does. Chasing or enticing or wanting a guy doesn’t make her attractive and it doesn’t make her a woman. The only guy she needs in her life for a long time is her Dad or a father figure until God brings her a husband if that’s His plan.
  4. You Are Amazing:: Our daughters need to hear we are proud of them. She is enough. Tell her out of all the girls in the world, you’d always choose her. Sadly, she will be tempted to spend a lot of time in life trying to prove her value to others. Create an atmosphere where she is loved, just like she is.
  5. You Don’t Have to Believe What You Hear:: She needs to hear your affirming voice in her head. Because there will be mean girls in her life, peers with pressure and adults in her world who will let her down and have low expectations of her. She needs to hear the opposite at home, your voice will lead her to Him and she’ll know who to listen to.
  6. You Have Me:: No matter what happens in life, the ups and downs that will come her way, the losses and gains, our daughters must know we are there for them. She needs to know she can talk to you about anything. Anytime. More importantly, we can show her Jesus.
  7. You Can Change the World:: She needs to know she can dream big and can accomplish whatever she wishes. She can do so with God by her side and she doesn’t need a boy or society to make it happen. She can be anything she want to be with your help. Stand by her, with her and watch her fly.

I’m raising two daughters in this world and my heart cries for Jesus to rescue us all. But until He does, I can’t always protect or shield them, so I will tell them the truth. I can’t change (all this) in the world, but I can prepare them for it.

“Our daughters are precious, intrinsically valuable and deserve better — they deserve to be cherished and protected.” -Amy Gerwing

*Update: Thanks so much for your thoughts on this post. I’m closing comments as personal attacks begin to take priority. Here’s a follow up post with some recommended resources.