The School Girl Project

Close your eyes and imagine 14 year old Lilly in Africa. She’s finally gotten a chance to get back into school and even though she’s a year behind, she is thrilled.


So her teacher is surprised when she misses not one, but four days of school, the second month of school.

She falls further behind.

And it happens again the following month.

Nobody likes to talk about it.

But it’s a normal part of life for every young woman: menstruation.

Yeah. And many girls around the globe don’t have the extra money to buy products every month that would make it easier to stay in school.


What is an inconvenience for most, is life-altering for others.


“It is a normal part of life – but in many regions of the world it is a taboo subject. The silence around menstruation means girls in some countries stay away from school during their periods or even drop out of education. In parts of sub-Saharan Africa and other areas of the world, girls can miss out on up to five days of school per month or stop going to school entirely because of insufficient access to water and hygiene facilities, no separate toilets for girls and a lack of sanitary supplies.” source

My Kenyan friend Susan (and a Rehema House board member, employee of Compassion International), who led my first Compassion trip in Kenya in 2010, has a heart for these girls and their missed education. She and her sister have started an initiative to keep girls in school by supplying them with the basic need of sanitary pads.

And friends, we are going to help. We want to fill as many suitcases as we can with feminine hygiene products to send back to Kenya this month. Will you help?


Sisters, mothers, daughters lets join together and meet the needs of countless girls in Kenya.

Sure, nobody like to talk about it, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t.

Please send sanitary pads (all brand, sizes and types) to:

Mercy House

8000 Research Forest Dr. Set 115-110

Spring, TX 77382

Deadline: Sept 26, 2015


Updated to add: Yes, we understand there are cheaper, reusable options. But these take education and time and resources (like soap and water). We will be sending ideas, samples, etc to the women leading this group. Until then, we are collecting disposable options. Thank you.

What Social Media Is Offering Our Kids (And What To Do About It)

“Give me your phone,” I said as I held out my hand to one of my kids. “You’re not in trouble, but I think you need a break from social media for awhile.”

I was half expecting a war.

Instead, my child looked absolutely relieved and said, “You’re right. Thank you, Mom.”

It hit me like a ton of bricks that this was why my child was struggling with feelings of inadequacy. Because when kids are too plugged into other people’s worlds through social media, they have a more difficult time being thankful for their own.

Technology has been changing culture for years. A long look into the daily lives of our peers is always a click away. We scroll and sigh. We want things we didn’t even know we missed. And we miss things we really don’t even want.

Our culture loves social media, but social media doesn’t always “like” us back.

Social Media and Kids
For generations, kids have compared themselves to others and wanted to fit in with peers. I have several junior high memories that center around finding out on a Monday what I wasn’t invited to over the weekend and feeling left out always hurts.

Even though children today struggle with the same feelings, the world has changed since I was a kid. And social media is doing something to our kids that we didn’t have to face:

It’s offering them a live, all-access feed into the intimate and personal stories of their peers while it’s happening. Kids are invited to watch it unfold, but not always invited to participate. And worse, with likes and comments and hashtags, we’re given the power to rate and score other people’s lives.

And it’s changing how kids feel about themselves.

We decided a long time ago not to allow our children social media access until they became teenagers. It wasn’t a popular decision in our house (or with some of our adult friends). But I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve wished we waited longer.

But at the same time, sheltering our kids from the evil world isn’t a cure-all. “The problem for Christian parents isn’t in the desire to shelter children; it’s in the warped perspective that such sheltering can foster. We start thinking our kids are basically good and in need of moral direction, rather than recognizing our kids are basically bad and in need of heart transformation,” Trevin Wax said in this important Gospel Coalition article.

So, I’m not advocating we strip our kids of all social media access or ban it until college, I’m suggesting we first, understand how it’s affecting them and second, navigate it with them.

If I’m transparent with them (and you), I have to admit that sometimes when I’m scrolling through Facebook statuses or Instagram pictures, I feel jealous of what others have and discouraged about what I don’t have. When I realize what’s happening, I try to shut it down because within minutes of looking into other people’s lives, I feel worse about my own. And if I feel this way as a mature adult, it is multiplied for my children.

The average teen logs into social media at least 10 times a day and if we’re going to let them, we need to equip them. Everyone has different house rules. In our house, we monitor and limit technology and Internet usage, we filter and reserve the right to read texts, turn off data, hand in phones, and remind our kids that it’s a privilege that can be taken away. (And yes, my kids sometimes resist and rebel against these rules (and I’m not just saying that to make you feel better).

Social Media and Kids

Here are a few conversations that might be a good place to start:

  1. Talk with your kids about the term “friend.” Social media has us friending people we’ve never met. That’s not to say they won’t become a friend, but defining what true friendship is will help our kids realize what it’s not.
  2. Discuss what it means to “like” something and how it feels to be “liked” on social media. It’s a temporary high that can have a long-lasting impact on the way we feel about ourselves.
  3. Ask your kids: How do you respond when someone is bullied online?
  4. Discuss what kind of things should be said in person and not online or not at all? (Like confrontations and negative opinions).
  5. Talk to your children about when they might feel left out (because of what they’ve seen online). Suggest taking a break and spending time with people in person.
  6. Discuss oversharing.

So, yes, please let’s limit and monitor social media, but also let’s talk to our kids about it. They might resist, okay, they probably will resist, but that doesn’t mean we should stop trying.

It’s irresponsible to give our kids access to a virtual world where “friends” have more say than we do. But that’s exactly what will happen if we choose to say nothing at all.

[Talking about] Sex Begins in the Kitchen

parenting upstream in a go with the flow world

I’m so excited about this important post that my friend Janel is bringing to the virtual table today. Please take time to read it. Leading our family upstream is difficult-that’s why we need to give each other a pat or a push every once in awhile.

by Janel

It was on my back porch, our fingers curled around steaming mugs of African tea exhaling their ribbons of steam, that she told me. She didn’t know if it was called rape if a boyfriend forced you. But I never talked to my parents about it, she smiled sadly. They left Sex Ed to my fifth grade teacher, and my boyfriend was the one who showed me the rest. My family doesn’t talk about that kind of stuff.


Talking about sex begins in the kitchen

There in my grief for my friend, I started wondering. Is there anything on my parental “off-limits conversations” list?

I’ll admit—that stunning discussion played into another I had a few weeks later. My blonde-headed ten-year-old wondered into the kitchen while I was de-crud-ifying the counters and scooping leftovers into the waiting Rubbermaid mouths.

“Mom, what’s pornography?”

An avid reader, he’d come upon the word on the back of a non-fiction work for Christian adults. …This time.

My eyebrows may have lifted a centimeter or so as I wrung out the dishrag. I swallowed. Sealed a lid, wiped the same spot I’d already wiped. Reviewed my mental list of How to Deal: What I Believe About Awkward, Hairy Topics with Children.

  • I want to be the go-to gal (and my hubby the go-to guy) for this stuff with my kids. How I deal now affects whether they ask later. It will only get funkier as they get older.
  • Kids pick up on my “subtle” (ahem) signals. They’re looking at my body language, my terminology, my reactions. My embarrassment, shame, condemnation—or joy and grace and honesty—can show up when they confront this stuff elsewhere. Even in their marriages.
  • I want to help them construct their own biblical worldview. I want Scripture to anchor them, rather than the blanks in their minds being auto-filled by Google or the kids on the back of the bus.
  • Worldviews aren’t built once. Worldviews are assembled piece by piece as we apply them to real life.
  • I’m building a trestle between my kids and I that will need to be rock-solid in their teenage years—and for whatever can happen to them, whatever insecurity develops. Honesty and openness starts now.

So—deep breath, Mama. Maintain eye contact.

“Great question. Glad you asked. Know how we’ve talked about sex, how welds people together, and feels good and really intimate to them?…”

After I stumbled all over those first sentences, somehow I clabbered together a kid-level definition of porn—and an open warning of its power, which snares so many Christians we know; so many marriages. I’m also trying to speak gently and practically about that billboard, or the bodice-busting women on the romance novels on the library website: I want him to know he has the power and loving obligation to “bounce” his eyes from them. And I recommended he talk to his dad.

See, I loved what Kristen had to say about the power of our dinner tablesThe dinner table? You’re probably thinking. That takes it a step further.

And yeah, I think we should keep an eye out for privacy on these topics, so our kids aren’t perpetually uncomfortable and, uh, mortified. (This post on Teaching our Kids the “Raw” Parts of Scripture has some excellent thoughts.)

But one memory seared in my mind is when my then-boyfriend-now-husband first came home with me.

talking about sex begins in the kitchen 1

“You talk about that kind of stuff at dinner?” His eyes were wide. Maybe in a little stupefaction. Maybe a little awe.

See, my folks, too, decided they’d answer whatever sincere, loving questions we asked as clearly and biblically as they were able. (Trust me, one of my sisters—who eventually became a nurse—gave them a real run for their money.) They saw questions as an open door, to the highest extent age permitted, to talk about Scripture as we “walked by the way”.

It wasn’t just about sex, which wasn’t all that common. We discussed stuff my folks were walking through, at work or in life, and their thought processes. We learned alongside them; an abbreviated version, I’d guess, and not in a gossipy or insensitive way, but in a way that showed this is what discernment and wisdom looks like. The rest of us even volleyed some suggestions. Our conversation was intimate and specific—forget chatting about the weather!

Some of the best parents I know aren’t necessarily those who withhold and protect from their kids from information. They take their child’s hand and show them how to navigate difficulty—like training wheels for life circumstances.

These conversations secure trust and honesty. They communicate, I will always tell you the truth. We’ve got a good thing going here. So come to me with anything. Talking to our kids protects them. It gives them vocabulary to maturely talk about emotions, sticky situations, money, sex, and real life.

So talk with (not at) your kids about Obergefell. About Planned Parenthood. About the transsexual on the Amazon home page. About the mean girls thing your daughter’s encountering at school. About what life is like for kids in poverty. Ask good questions that help your kids take ownership of their own convictions. Teach them how to discern and love well.

Our kids will learn somewhere—whether we’re there when they need the 411 or not. Typically, when kids find themselves in unfamiliar territory, they’re looking for similar indications where they should turn: “I remember watching/listening to something like this.” “I don’t remember my folks dealing with this.” So they’re left to their own kid-sized toolbox: their best guess, the advice of friends, or other information.

Maybe they’ll wing it.

Speaking candidly hands our kids responsibility while we’re there to help them deal—and thus, builds confidence. They’re less likely to be swayed by peers or lies in the midst of their decisions, and more likely to know how the Word applies to every situation—and is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

And that’s true no matter what our kids face…or what they ask.

Separated By Water


That’s how many miles away my husband is from home as I type these words.

We are oceans apart, separated by water.


He is at our home-away-from-home in Kenya with a group of donors on a vision trip.

Sunday, this happened:


12 of the teen mom residents graduated and will begin to transition into the next phase of their lives in 2016.


Yesterday, his group visited one of the world’s largest slums, to the home of Pauline, one of the sponsored graduates who attends vocational school and leads a Fair Trade Friday group of twenty women who live in a nearby slum.


And then his group journeyed the tragic and heartbreaking road to Lillian’s home, the youngest resident at the maternity homes.

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Sometimes I just don’t have the words to describe someone else’s daily reality.

But the main reason he’s there is because of water.

Clean water is more precious than gold when it’s limited.

The homes that we began with Maureen in 2010 spend more $1500 a month on water.

The current underground tank  holds 21,000 gallons but it’s never more than one-fourth full. Water is controlled by the local municipality and there aren’t many wells in the area. Water is constantly shut on and off, rationed and it often runs out.

When it does, it’s trucked in at a high cost. And there are times that it’s even collected and distributed in jerry cans.


With mommas and babies and staff, there are more than 40 depending on water in our homes.


For more than 5 years, Mercy House has been working in Kenya to come up with a long term sustainable plan that would help support the maternity homes outside of Nairobi.  And after much research and planning, it has been decided that water is the life-giving answer.

Several months ago, when I was in Kenya, our Director’s handed over a geologist’s report that proved one of our properties is sitting on a natural water resource. And that’s why we want to drill a deep bore hole that will provide water–if we had our own water source, not only for these homes in Kenya, but for approximately 100 families in the surrounding community who struggle to provide it for their families.

We dream of providing a consistent, affordable water resource that could change this community.

Water is life.

Unless it’s unclean.

Can you imagine being separated from the opportunity to have clean, consistent water?

Separated by water.


Learn more about our efforts to raise the remaining $25,000 to bring water to those we love so that we can introduce Living water to those He loves.

Water may separate us.

But it doesn’t have to.

10 Truths to Share With Our Kids As They Go Back to School

She sharpened every pencil and carefully placed them in her new pencil bag. She looked up and smiled.

“I can’t wait!” my brand new third grader said. She was glowing.

About that time, my 8th grade son came down the stairs for his Meet the Teacher in a stained shirt, wrinkled shorts and uncombed hair, and said, “Oh, I can wait.”

My teen daughter got up from the table and held up her hand as if to say, “Don’t even ask.”

I didn’t.

Ah. Back to school.

It’s amazing how quick kids lose that new school shine. And sort of heart breaking. My son became a man over the summer and my teen daughter is talking about SAT tests and pours over a college scholarship book for fun reading. One minute they are excited about all a new year holds and the next they are close to tears with the trauma of Who will I sit by at lunch?

It’s enough to make a momma long for more summer. You know, unless that actually means more summer. Talk about mixed feelings.

This morning, I dropped three nervous kids off at three schools. I felt relief and sorrow all rolled up into what I think is best known as motherhood. Gah, this is hard.

I’m just as excited and nervous to hear about their days–who they ended up sitting by at lunch (this can always go either way), what teacher they love, what class they dread, what friend made their day better.

10 truths for our kids as they go back to school

Good days are coming. So are bad ones. And I plan to remind them this school year of these 10 truths, during both:

1. God sees you

When kids hit their tween and teen years, they usually just want to blend it. They don’t want to stand out. But sometimes when they get what they want, they don’t feel seen at all. Because at the same time, they long to be heard and known. They are a lot like us. I think a core truth we need to reiterate to our kids is that God sees them–all the time, everywhere. Not in a creepy or judgmental way, but in a you matter more than you ever know way. 

2. You’re not alone

I’m in the season of door slamming and room retreating with a couple of my children. But I’ve learned just because they crave solitude sometimes, it doesn’t mean they want to be alone. Our kids need to know that wherever they go, whatever they do, even if we don’t understand, we will walk through their highs and lows with them.

3. You can be yourself

My daughter’s words felt like a stone in my heart, “I’m looking forward to school, I just hate that everyone judges you when you don’t conform.” I think there’s a lot of cultural truth in that statement. But I still want my kids to know that it’s okay to be themselves-especially when it’s not the norm. But, hey, we all know that’s a tough truth to embrace when you’re a kid or a, uh, 42 year old mom. God created us uniquely different. We were created to be different and that’s okay.

4. Be bold

I’m raising a houseful of introverts and sometimes it’s plain painful watching my kids navigate life. (Probably because it’s like watching myself). But being quiet or even shy has nothing to do with being bold. I want them to know what they believe and stand up for it when the time comes.

5. Fear is normal but fear not

I don’t think my kids slept a wink last night. They were excited and anxious and maybe a little worried. Anxiety and worry are types of fear and I want them to know they can resist them, even in the scariest situations. God tells us to fear not–not because school, work or that Algebra test isn’t scary, but because He is with us.

printable scripture cards

6. You are more than what you wear

While my kids slept last night, I taped encouraging notes and these scriptures in places where they work on their appearance (mirrors, closet doors, etc). The pressure to look and dress a certain way in school is real. And it can be a struggle that isolates and destroys self esteem. I want them to know who they are on the inside is more than what is showing on the outside. I want them to know they are more than a bad hair day or the latest trend.

7. I may not understand, but I will stand with you

The other day my daughter said, “You just don’t understand how I feel!” I thought about her words and my temptation to respond with, “Yes, I do.” But when I stopped and really thought about it, I told her she was right. In her world, in her heart, I didn’t understand everything she was feeling. But that didn’t mean I didn’t want to, that didn’t mean I wouldn’t stand with her while she figured it out. Sometimes that’s all our kids need to know.

8. Normal is overrated

Upstream parenting in a downstream world is hard. And if it’s challenging for us, it might just be brutal for our kids. Normal is easy. Being yourself is hard. But it’s worth it. I want to encourage and inspire my kids to go against-the-flow. Sometimes it’s just a small thing and sometimes it’s big. Every step in the opposite direction matters.

9. One friend is enough

The other day my son and I ran into a childhood friend at the store. It had been a pivotal friendship for my son back in the second grade. You see, his friend had some severe special needs and had been integrated into my son’s class for part of the day. I will never forget when my little guy was given a Citizenship award for including and mentoring this kid. He was confused what all the fuss was about and said, “I shouldn’t get an award for being a friend.” I want my kids to always, always go back for the one, to look for the person by themselves at lunch or on the bus. I want them to know that one good friend is enough. It might just be a friendship they will never forget.

10. This will pass

Everybody has bad days. I’ve been doing this long enough to know that my kids have them–just like I do. And they need a safe place to fall apart. I decided a long time ago, I want that place to be home (and not school, church, or with someone else). I want them to know that their current struggle will pass, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important today. And if it’s a really really bad day, they might just get a free pass to spend it with me.

Happy first day of school, kids! I can’t wait to hear all about it.

How Then Should We Respond (to the Falling of Josh Duggar)?

I never got into the Duggar’s TV show.

Maybe it’s because the thought of tater tot casserole makes me queasy or because I stopped watching most reality shows after Season 2 of Survivor. But mostly, it was because I didn’t identify with the large, homeschooling, “good” family. (They just made the unruly, eye-rolling, sarcastic people in my house look even more unrighteous.) While I’m sure there was some common ground, I could only see the things we didn’t have in common.

But when I read Josh Duggar’s statement yesterday, admitting he not only struggled with a pornography addiction, but was also unfaithful to his young wife and children–all this after he resigned from his faith-based spokesperson job because of his wrong-doing when he was younger, I didn’t rejoice. I felt ill. Knowing what his family is enduring is heartbreaking. And I don’t have to be a “fan” to recognize it.

No, I didn’t gloat. My first urge was to shout, “Man down!”


It’s what I screamed ten years ago when I lived my own personal hell after my husband confessed his on-going struggle with pornography. (The sin was different by comparison, but earth shattering is earth shattering). I knew the other side of my husband-the one who tenderly loved his family and worked his tail off to provide for us, the one who had just left his youth pastoring career. I knew he deeply loved God and wanted to make a difference in the world. It was hard to reconcile this dark side of him–the one that was trapped in a secret sin and was willing to lose everything in order to know true freedom.

My marriage and home became a gut-wrenching private hell. (If you read Rhinestone Jesus, you know the whole story). But we found Jesus together and for the first time, I knew and loved all the layers of my husband. I also learned that my greatest act wasn’t righteousness; it was forgiveness. Was my husband a hypocrite? Maybe. But sin has a way of deceiving and convincing us there is no way out. It made all the difference to me that he confessed his sin instead of being caught or outed.

It’s hard to know if Josh’s Duggar contrition this week came because he got caught or because he was truly repentant or because he has nothing left to lose. We might never know. While I think it matters privately to his wife and family, it’s really none of our business. This is ground zero and hopefully redemption and help will follow.

Should the TV show be off the air? Absolutely. (Maybe the real question is should it have ever been on TV?) Should this family be taken off a pedestal? Definitely. (All families are messy, even the “good” ones). Should we pick up a rock and join the mob? Only if we’re perfect. Should we worry about our own hypocrisy? Probably. Should we get on our knees and pray for our world? You bet. Should we avoid tater tot casserole at all costs? You know it.

The world may never understand that Christians are a mess of sinful humanity trying to follow Jesus, but they will see that we eat our own and wound our wounded.

It’s easy to use “love” as an action word for our lost world–those we don’t agree with in alternative lifestyles and in abortion clinics, but it’s harder to show it to people who are more like us than we care to admit.

How then should we respond to the falling of Josh Duggar or anyone else? Our heart should cry, “Man down! Family shattered! God help them! God help us!”

Because someone probably shouted it for us.

4 Relationships Every Child Needs

He was about the size of my 7-month-old son, but my Food for the Hungry guide told me he was a 5-year-old. His engaging smile drew me in to his shy handshake. He curled into a laughing ball as the orphanage director tickled him. I thought his contagious giggle must have resembled the singing of God’s angels in heaven.

Then I learned he would soon die from an incurable lung infection. He had contracted the disease on a desperate trek across a Somali desert in search for food. His parents didn’t survive the trip.

That moment—my heart broken and my understanding of the world turned upside down—forever changed me. I wanted to fix my new friend. My guide told me to let go, return home and encourage Americans to help others like him by funding projects and sponsoring children.


Food for the Hungry empowers some of the world’s most vulnerable mothers to better care for their children’s physical, spiritual, intellectual and emotional needs.

In that short encounter, God began using Food for the Hungry to teach me (and, ultimately, my son) that poverty—whether physical, spiritual, emotional or intellectual—is caused by broken relationships in four areas. No human is whole without these potent bonds, so it’s important that we parents help our children develop them. Here are some ideas about how you can nurture them in your children. [Tweet this]

1 – Model a healthy relationship with God.

People who are poor in spirit usually will be poor in other ways. God designed the relationship with Him to be our most important link.

Deuteronomy 6 and 11 tell us to love the Lord, obey his commands and teach our children about His teachings by: “Talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
Tell your kids that God made all of creation. Talk about His beneficial instructions for staying healthy–and model that behavior in your own life. Help them notice and appreciate how God has blessed them. Let them see you studying the Bible, praying, journaling, appropriately confessing your sins.

2 – Show your children how to love and respect others.

Caring people often exude generosity and compassion.

Romans 12:10 says to: “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

The American culture has moved away from this teaching, evidenced daily on television sitcoms and news stories. As a parent, you can counteract negative cultural teachings by insisting that your children follow your lead in your behavior toward others.

Don’t allow your children to insult others, teach them about the power of their words, recognize and praise the people around you for how God has made them without suggesting that one person is better than another. Teach your children to manage conflict and give kudos for positive conduct.

3 – Teach your children to care for God’s creation.

People exhibit biblical stewardship when they correctly care for wildlife and the environment.

The book of Genesis tells us that God put humans in charge of caring for creation. Yet, the soil in many areas of the world is so depleted that it no longer can produce nutritious crops. Water is so polluted that it makes children sick.

Teach your children that God created everything and manifests through all of creation. Get them used to being around and properly treating animals. Model biblical stewardship by picking up trash and conserving water. Take your children along when you recycle harmful chemicals—unused medications and used engine oil, for example—at appropriate facilities.

4 – Create an atmosphere where self-confidence can flourish.

A child with a healthy self-esteem is less likely to fall victim to cultural lies. Children gain self-esteem by knowing they are made in God’s image and individually loved and respected by Him and you.

In his book, Have a New Kid by Friday, noted psychologist Dr. Kevin Leman outlined the ABCs of cultivating a healthy self-esteem in children: Acceptance (listen and ask questions to show you care about their interests and concerns rather than criticizing), Belonging (allowing them to take part in decisions, supporting their involvement in activities such as sports and music) and Competence (resist the urge to be over protective or do things that children can do themselves).

foodforthe hungry2Food for the Hungry has seen the profound impact of people reconciling these four relationships. Whether you live in a Nairobi slum, a Beverly Hills mansion or a middle-class neighborhood anywhere, we want to help you bring these connections into harmony in your life, to equip you to better instruct and nurture your children. We’ve created a free Bible study to get you started. You can use it in a group or on your own. Download 4 Relationships That Will Make You Whole right now. [Tweet this]

Download the Bible Study Now!

Karen Randau works at Food for the Hungry is Phoenix, Arizona. Her passion is to help the world’s most vulnerable children to thrive and reach the potential that God designed for them. Her Africa encounter set her on a path to raising a generous and caring son, who is now a young father.

Thanks to Food for the Hungry for partnering to share this post with my community.

The Six Words That Can Change Everything At Home

I didn’t mean to pick a fight.

But it turns out I’m super talented at turning little things into a big deal.

We argued for 15 minutes in the kitchen about buying a new printer for Mercy House (that we needed, but I thought was too expensive).

Yeah. That should make you feel better about your last marriage squabble.

When I had a chance to step back and peel away the layers of my anger, I didn’t see anger at all; I saw fear.

Because the argument wasn’t really about if we could afford to buy another printer for our non-profit. And it wasn’t really about taking a step of faith to hire a second full time person that same week …

It was the fear that came with it.

But sometimes I take the long route to get to the point.

6 words that can change everything


And the argument with my daughter the day before wasn’t really about her not having anything to wear, it was about the way she felt about herself in the her clothes that day.

The misunderstanding between my son and I wasn’t really about him not wanting to practice archery, it was about him losing his coach and the grief that is now wrapped up in the sport for him.

There are 6 words that shortcut us to the point of pain within our family. I learned them on a therapist’s couch (yep, I highly recommend counseling for couples and families during seasons of transition, difficulty or just because you want to be the healthiest version of your family that you can be) and they can not only diffuse a situation, they can help us help each other.

And they are (said tenderly, in love, maybe with a hand on an arm or a step towards our loved one):

What do you need from me?

When our teen is angry masking hurt, the question can help them open up.

When our spouse is upset, but really hiding fear, the question can cut to the root.

When our child is having a hard time expressing themselves…

Isn’t that what we all want? To be understood and heard…

“This isn’t about a printer. I just need you to tell me that God’s got this, that He will keep providing the money we need. . .”

When my husband heard what I needed, he gave it to me.

So, the next time you don’t know what to say, try these six words:

What do you need from me?

The answer might surprise you.