Enrich your family experience with these helpful tips, articles and resources. Learn how to turn negatives into positives and build more meaningful relationships.
The Porch Cover
The cover over the front porch is ugly! Why did we spend hard earned money to have it built? These thoughts tumbled through my mind as I looked back at the house on my morning walk.
The summer following my 10th birthday, our family made its first and only trek to Disneyland. We lived up north in Stockton, California, and in those days one had to travel Highway 99 to get to L.A.
Her Perfect Skin
She was born with perfect skin into an imperfect world. I remember her peach-soft, Milky, white skin on Birth Day. Little arms that reached out for hugs,arms that slid through tiny shirts and lacy dresses.
Robert Frost wrote, “Home is the place where when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” That may be the case, but do you really want to be taken in?
Materialism. It seems that most of us at one point or another are consumed with wanting the newest gadget, the hippest clothing, or the fanciest car.
The Game of Chance
Paul is the grandfatherly type whose New England accent and jolly nature attracts others to him. His genuine compassion and caring nature radiates from him.
Hearing the Unheard
Five-year-old Robert Turner did the right thing when he dialed 911. He had called to report that his mother had collapsed on the kitchen floor, but instead of sending help, the dispatcher scolded the soft spoken child.
I know what you are thinking. How could laundry ever be enjoyable? Yes, I have been there too. In fact, I used to dread doing the laundry. It was like a giant monster that grew larger every day.
Family Worship Times
Whether it’s morning or evening (or both, if possible) having a family time of worship to God is a blessing for everyone involved.
Want to get away and relax together but can’t afford a fancy vacation? By planning ahead and focusing on what’s most important to you about a vacation, families can enjoy quality experiences together.
Show Them Your Love
Ever feel like your love life, family life, and community life are in the doldrums? Here are some easy tips that will lift your spirits and show others you care:
A New Marriage
A little over a year ago, my husband and I entered the Empty Nest phase of our lives together. For a while, the "Nest" had become a refueling station.
Taming the Tiger
Child [A] begins yelling angrily, “He started it!” Child [B] starts grabbing at his brother, “Did not!” If this scenario sounds all too familiar the following tips may be helpful!
Amazing Race Grace
It was Tuesday night and time for my favorite television program, The Amazing Race. But instead of a dozen teams of two people each, the teams were made up of four members.
Birds, Bees, and Purity
It started out like any other school day. You know, where you’re running around wondering why your gym clothes aren’t clean and your hair has that funny sticky-up thing going on.
A Father's Love
After years of trying to have a baby, Mark and Amy were finally blessed with a baby boy. They named the child after his father.
I sat in the counselor’s office talking about marriage problems. Not just my own, but the whole historic issues that men and women face.
Been There, Done That
Some people have been married, divorced, and single, married again, divorced again, and single again.
I'm Afraid Daddy
“I’m afraid, daddy.” My eight-year-old daughter started her nightly ritual sharing her fear to go to sleep alone in her room.
Being in Love
After 25 years of marriage, my wife and I were apart on Valentine’s Day this year. And that’s all right, really.
Ready for Healing
Sue always had good reasons why she got herself into the messes she did. It was her younger brother’s fault when things were found broken around the house.
Outside the Box
My husband bought me a new cookbook for my birthday after I not-so-subtly hinted that I wanted it.
It was the week prior to the 4th of July and all the kids in our apartment complex were stockpiling their fireworks.
The Friendship Factor
Got friends? At various times throughout my life I’ve heard people complain they don’t have friends, or that people at church, in the community, or at a local barbecue aren’t friendly enough to them.
God's Love Manual
Sometimes I think that if people only knew what the Bible had to say, they would read it more. As wives and husbands, we often wish we knew how to fix our marital differences.
They were all there…father, mother, two sons, a daughter with her newborn son. It was a family reunion. But, the gathering was in court.
Don’t deny yourself a sense of play—a chance to step down, relax, refresh yourself, put your molehills in perspective and not let them become mountains.
Doing It Alone
In the final analysis it is not what you do for your children but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.
Hope in Despair
Tom was overcome with despair. His orderly world was crashing in all around him. He had lost total control.
Growing in Faith
Before my car accident this past December I loved to stay busy. I had a full time job plus I had a couple side jobs that I made some money on here and there.
Old Dogs Do Learn
I wasn’t a very strict Mom. I had my rules, but if my kids played their cards right, they could often find a way around me. I got so tired of asking my son to make his bed that I got him a sleeping bag.
Use Your Personality
When you look around at other people you notice that everyone has a different personality. One person may love to be the center of attention; that person talks a lot, enjoys other people...
Does your family desperately need a vacation? Is your bank account squeaking? You don’t need a key to Fort Knox to enjoy time with your loved ones.
Our Last Argument
Not long after we were wed, my wife, Sue, and I had a terrible fight. Providentially, what could have destroyed our marriage ended up strengthening it.
Over the Fence
I grew up on a farm in north central Minnesota in a community where we got along very well with the neighbors. That is, with one exception.
My Breaking Heart
My heart is breaking. My child is in a difficult and unhappy marriage. Like most parents, I wanted her to unite with a partner who would protect her and affirm her.
Success By Degrees
Get a four-year degree. It is the path to a successful career. That was true once. Today many young adults graduate from four-year colleges with a five or six-figure student loan debts. It cannot be discharged through bankruptcy. Worse, they cannot find jobs paying enough to repay that debt.
I’m the Mother
If I had a dollar for every time I said that to my daughter … . She was an easy-going happy child, but with a mind of her own that sometimes got her in trouble. Joelle “knew” how things should be done” and if her little brother didn’t toe her line, she’d correct him.
Being Robbed Twice
Nancy cried as we unpacked our household goods. I seethed with anger. We’d just moved across the country, and when we unpacked we found dozens of broken items.
An Unlikely Answer
Cheryl told me the story of her oldest son, Brian. He had grown up a great kid, in fact he had urged the family to go to church when he was twelve.
I’m cold. It’s 2:00 a.m. I’m supposed to be asleep, but the blow-up mattress underneath me has lost some of its “blow-up.”
Clay Pots and Hope
Approximately five months ago, my only brother died unexpectedly and traumatically. Since that time, I have made seven or eight trips to his home in Stockton to get his affairs in order.
The debate between moms who work outside the home and those who work inside the home has raged for ages. In the end, I think the title of this little piece says it all.
The Gift of Words
At times, it seems like the greatest accomplishment of parenting is just keeping the children alive!
Only A Few Years
Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him. When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son" (Exodus 2:9, 10).
Countless times when tragedy has flashed across a screen, or when I have heard about a horror unspeakable, I have thought to myself: “How does this affect me?”
For several months now (practically since last December 26th) my children have been wishing and dreaming for Christmas. Is it their eagerness to hear the story of Baby Jesus and sing “Away in the Manger”? Do they relish the...
The Christmas season is just around the corner. As families grow, unless one is rich, it becomes harder to afford gift buying. We all say that gifts aren’t important yet we all want to buy or make gifts for the simple reason that we enjoy gifting...
No Right to Strike
Years ago young woman came to our door, asking to use the telephone. One eye was purpled, the face around it discolored by a days-old bruise. Her jaw had a matching, fresher bruise. She had been beaten by her husband.
Gift of Memories
She hadn’t meant it as a gift. She was just clearing out books and papers in preparation for selling the old house our parents had lived in. This adopted sister of mine had moved into the basement of my parents home along with her growing...
He always smelled like mixed nuts. He drizzled olive oil on top of his spaghetti. He wrote me short letters on his old typewriter and used to send me dollar bills for “some ice cream” when I was in college. He played the flute beautifully and...
Don't Look Back
What would it take to put your family first? How would you change your daily routine? Where would you live that would be most conducive to your children’s spiritual health? Would you be willing to make sacrifices that might cost you your...
The Ripple Effect
I sat down at my computer the other day and did a search for a pastor I had known as a child. What is he doing now? I wondered. Of all the pastors of my childhood, he had made the biggest impression on me.
Living as I Wait
My husband completed graduate school two weeks ago and we are in the waiting stage. Sending out resumes and inquiry letters. Waiting to hear back after interviews. Waiting to find out if we will need to relocate. Waiting to find out if a...
It was the middle of the night and the only thing my weary brain could process was how exhausted I was. It has been a challenging day and now I was standing over the crib of my six month-old baby, trying to soothe her back to sleep again. I had lost track of how many times she had...
I have three sons. They are all adults now, in their twenties or early thirties. The youngest is finishing college. Two are engineers. They were close as they grew up, despite a nine-year age difference between the oldest and youngest. Those two are in the Dallas area.
Never Cease Praying
As I spoke with an elderly friend at church, he shared concern for his son and grandchildren. He and his wife worked and sacrificed to provide their children and grandchildren with Christian education. They set faithful examples of living and worshiping, but the world and apathy crept in...
Like an avalanche cascading down over us, the opportunities for media exposure keep rising in our world. But it raises questions for parents. Many wonder if all the televisions, monitors, computers, smartphones, and handheld electronic devices are good for our kids. It certainly has the...
At age four, the little girl’s knowledge of her father’s work was limited but she knew this: he went on trips; he always took his briefcase on those trips; sometimes he went in their car, other times he went on an airplane; sometimes, but not always, she and her mother went with him.
Friday afternoons are routine. I pick up two of my grandkids from the babysitter and we go on adventures. Sometimes the adventures are to the grocery store, sometimes to the park or a museum, and sometimes to the swimming pool. Finally we end up at my house to make dinner to...
Beyond the Obvious
Recently, while on a walk near our home I noticed a tree as if for the first time. I’ve looked at this tree hundreds of time as I motored or walked by it on the country road that winds through an area of dogwoods, Southern pine, oak and poplars. I’m not sure what made me look more...
Produce Aisle Peril
Recently, I made the optimistic decision to do some urgent grocery shopping with my sick toddler. My typically cheerful child had been unusually volatile, so I brilliantly thought that his shiny, blue, starfish balloon would be a comfort and distraction. But as most seasoned parents know...
For many, the college dream has become a nightmare. Rising college costs and a bad economy have left graduates with student loans that they cannot pay after graduation when they cannot find a job. Some students’ loans are so large that...
Important to God
Sabbath School class began with singing. Children chose their favorites and sang with great enthusiasm. The lesson was a familiar story, that of Zacchaeus. Children love that story and the song with motions. Before sending them to tables for a craft, the leader called the class up to her...
What is the real test of friendship? For me, who is befriended, and for me as one who befriends, I’ve found the answer: being there. And there are many ways of being there for someone other than in your actual body. My friends are scattered all over the continental United States and some in foreign countries.
To Love Like Crazy
“Ugh! My brain is melting!” My daughter came into my bedroom office and dramatically—she’s 12—flung herself on the bed, collapsing into a frustrated and matted mass of hair and pillows. Another school year had begun, and my extroverted and creative daughter...
The Tomato Answer
It was just a bag of tomatoes. The sweet, tow-headed neighbor boy knocked on our door and offered it without much explanation to us before skipping away. As he pulled his toy wagon back down our driveway, I swallowed a lump in my throat. He didn’t know and his parents didn’t know...
“Forgive Me” Ploy
In the Bible, we are taught a great deal about forgiveness. Christ was adamant that if we do not forgive others of their sins, God will not forgive us (Matthew 6:15). Nonetheless, I believe that forgiveness needs to be brokered through God when it comes to an abuser or molester...
Gifts and Talents
When he was in middle school one of my sons drove his teachers crazy. They could not figure out why someone as apparently smart as he was had penmanship worse than a third-grader. He was put through a battery of tests. His problem was diagnosed as a physical disability.
Remove the Stones
We all know people who have left home, never to return. They leave with a cloud hanging over their closest connections resulting from a long list of possible hurts, rejections or abuses. What is it that keeps people from going home? The emotional pull is always there; but sometimes the...
First Day of School
"The first day of school isn’t about the kids," my co-worker (a teacher) and seasoned parent told me. “It’s really about the parents.” He was comforting me. Just an hour earlier my son walked hand in hand with daddy up his school steps; his backpack hanging low, while his stuffed...
Those Good Old Days
“You kidding me”, they said, “No TV, no texting, no computer, or face book? No way.” This was the reaction from some teens when asked if they would like to go back and live in the Andy of Mayberry days. You may remember the TV series with Sheriff Andy Taylor, Aunt Bee, Little Opie...
It had been going on for years before I somehow became aware of the pattern. After Sabbath School one day, I saw my dad putting money into a tithe envelope. It wasn’t tithe. He always wrote that check at the same time he paid bills. He caught my mom’s eye and the twinkle in their...
Once a Parent…
“Once a parent, always a parent,” my interpreter, alias the janitor, would tell the Spanish-speaking mothers on the County Hospital maternity ward. Before explaining to the groggy women who’d given birth during the night the importance of filling out the Spanish-language survey forms I was...
Clutching his left thumb in his right hand, he kissed it, saying, “Thank God I have a thumb I can hit.” Then he peered over at me though his ancient glasses, smiled brightly and continued on with his project.
In Perfect Harmony
In 1971 Coca Cola came out with an ad that went down in history as one of the best of all times. The advertisement featured young people representing the nations of the world, standing on a hillside in Italy, singing while holding bottles of Coke. Soon the bouncy tune and feel-good...
My son recently spent some time with his grandmother and she gave him $20 to spend on anything he wanted. Home again, after the trip to his grandmother’s, he proudly showed me an entire bag full of toys. Among his most prized playing possessions was a large neon-orange foam boomerang.
Mom in the House
She moved in. People think we are crazy. You are supposed to live at home with your parents until you are 18 and then you shouldn’t be under the same roof again until they are in their last years. Or so they say. But my mom moved in with us six months ago. And we haven’t killed each other. Yet.
Friends. Those irreplaceable special people in our lives. They bring joy, memories, and special times into our days. But what if you don’t have any friends? Maybe you are lonely, and miss having those special comrades in your life. Maybe you blame it on your shyness, or maybe you don’t...
The other day was one of “those” kind of days. A second Monday. Feet dragging, kids screaming, the house looking as if a tornado had taken place and everyone was in need of some serious attitude adjustments. I got my tired muscles to cooperate and loaded everyone up in the car.
The light drizzle turned to a steady rain as I packed my groceries into the car and got behind the wheel. Heading out of the parking lot I saw the figures of a woman and a young child as they walked hand in hand along the road with no umbrella. My heart went out to them.
Love Casts Away Fear
While motherhood is one of the best gifts God has given to me, I have to admit there is a symptom of this season that I fight to suppress. Fear. I noticed it almost right away. At just 10 weeks pregnant I began having vivid dreams of my husband either dying tragically...
First Day of School
Today I enter a new season of life. For the last nine years I have had one or more children home with me for the majority of each day. But today it changes. Today, my youngest starts kindergarten. From now until they move out of our house, I will only see my children from 3-8 p.m.
This summer was a first, the first road trip with one of my grandchildren. I have traveled with their family many times, but this was just the two of us. My five year old grandson had responded with a polite, “No thank you,” when offered the chance to travel. We were all surprised when Tullia said...
My Best Not Enough
He had an infectious grin that paired perfectly with the mischievous sparkle in his eyes. He was a natural born leader and full of energy. It was my first year as a full time teacher and I will never forget him. I had spent the summer meticulously planning my classroom rules and procedures.
New backpack? Check. Notebook with lined paper? Check. Pens and pencils? Check. New lunchbox? Check. Talk with your child about setting goals for the new school year? Well…. As parents we plan for the first days and weeks of school with lists and trips to the store.
Don’t Go it Alone
Fourteen travelers ranging in age from 17-62 signed on for a tour of Israel and Istanbul, Turkey. All were seasoned world travelers. Any of them, mostly leaders, business owners and strong, independent types, were capable of doing this trip solo. The adventure started in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Parent Conferences are a necessary part of getting the kids through school. Students, parents and teachers all benefit. And there comes the time in life when another kind of parent conference is beneficial. This is when the conference is held for the aging parent rather than as the parent of a...
What About Purity?
Purity. That word again. But what is it really all about? Why is it so important? Where do you draw the line? As a young person myself, it’s something I’ve pondered and prayed and thought about. With our raging hormones, and head up in the clouds, it can be difficult to draw the line in...
Shoulder to Shoulder
I looked at the faces of the couple pictured in the news story—married 67 years—and saw the love shining in their eyes. As a young man, he’d been taken prisoner of war by the Japanese and forced to build warships for their fleet. Eventually he, and the lovely lady he fell in love with, came...
Life is About Moments
Browsing through a magazine recently I turned the page and my eyes came to rest on a black and white advertisement that immediately drew me in. The photo, taken by photographer Peter Lindbergh, was a very tender mother/toddler pair, the mother gazing at the child in her arms and the...
Father to the Fatherless
So, what’s the big deal about fatherless homes? Isn’t that the new norm? The U.S. Department of Census says between 40 and 50 percent of children live without their father. Sure, it’s not ideal, but we don’t live in an ideal world. Moms are making up the difference and life goes on. Right?
With windows sparkling, I stepped back to enjoy the view of the valley. The doorbell rang and I hurried to answer it. After signing for the package, I headed back to the dining room to put away the supplies I had been using. My two year old kept repeating...
On My Best Days
Recently, I had a particularly bad spell of self-loathing. “I’m a bad mother because...", “My husband doesn’t surprise me enough...”, “If only we made more money...”, and so on. Sometimes our feelings are justified. Life presents unfair circumstances, it’s true.
Those Special People
I recently read about a 14-year-old Michigan boy carrying his seven-year-old brother for 40 miles to help raise awareness about cerebral palsy...
I am a mother. A wife. A teacher. A sister. A daughter. Each of these roles comes with a set of expectations or rules. Provide the best possible life for your child. Be supportive and nurturing. Be a good example. Make your parents proud of the kind of person they raised.
You Have No Right?
You think your child is heading for trouble, but you are not sure. His behavior has been strange lately. Or she is spending a lot of time on the Internet, blanking screen when you enter her room. Something is wrong, but what? You hate to pry. After all, don’t they have a right to privacy?
The Young as Mentors
We adults call ourselves teachers and mentors of kids. However, since technology bombarded our scene many of us find ourselves asking them to help us with our computers, iphones, ipads or whatever. Their verdant minds are quick to grab onto the latest devices being developed, while we...
Protect the Gift
Marriage is a precious gift from a gracious God. Yet we humans are prone to treat this gift carelessly. One sure way to make yourself miserable and undermine this gift from God is to dwell on the past. Especially if your reveries tend toward the “what if” or “if only,” you can count on a creeping discontent in your marriage that will sabotage any chance for happiness.
It’s seems the moment my daughter turned three years old, she decided to stop listening to me. When I’d say, “Come here please,” she would run the other direction. Or if I said, “Let’s put the toys away,” she’d get a bunch more out. While this behavior is mostly frustrating, there are times...
Foot in the Door!
I grew up with two brothers. We lived in two acres of heavily wooded property—complete with chickens, dogs, cats and various other animals. There were no video games, cell phones, computers and we didn’t have a lot of money. What we did have was our imaginations, our bikes, a...
I'd like to think that I'm an hospitable person. I'd like to. The truth is, though, there are times when I kind of have to push myself to do the hospitable act. For example, our church had a visitor attend recently. No one knew him, nor did we know where he was from.
We baptized my son today. There is so much joy in that sentence that it’s actually hard to figure out how the words can be just black and white. Seems they should glow and jump off the page in 3D! I posted some pictures on Facebook and loved reading everyone’s excited congratulations.
Through the Storm
Last year, we had the pleasure of watching a mourning dove build her nest in one of our light fixtures out back. I peeked and saw two white eggs in the nest. We were delighted. My kids were very interested in watching these eggs to see the magical day when the baby birds would emerge.
A recent article in The Atlantic magazine reports children whose fathers were actively involved in their lives during their teen years, especially during high school, are more likely to finish college than those who do not.The article explains why. Yet for me, like many fathers who are or were...
Is moving ever easy? To me, the hardest part is nearing the very end, when there are odds and ends to deal with and the final cleaning to complete. My son was a senior in college, my daughter a freshman. Since he was old enough to live in a university apartment...
Now that the month of May is here, our kids will finish the school year in a few weeks. Do you remember what those last few weeks of school were like? I remember looking out the classroom window at the beautiful, sunny, weather and longing to spend the day riding my horse.
To Do List Priorities
Spring has sprung in our neck of the woods, and everything is turning green. Everywhere grass is springing up with new growth, including in our garden. The season of weeding has begun! So this afternoon my mom and brother and I went out to the garden and spent several hours...
I Will Know Him
After Dad died, my two sisters and I brought out his box of old photo albums and important papers. Our immediate purpose was to gather and verify information for his obituary. Our other great need was to touch the remaining tangibles and review the history of the life that had meant so...
Part of the Family
The parking lot began to fill as worshipers gathered for Sabbath afternoon communion. Normally, I would be looking forward to this sacred service. But today was different. My mind was filled with worrisome thoughts and troubling emotions. How could I protect my children from not only the...
Pressed Not Crushed
Stop that! I told my son, sharply reprimanding him for stomping on and crushing a flower during our afternoon walk. He looked up at me as if I had two heads on my shoulders. Why? He quickly responded. He wasn’t disrespectful or obstinate in his tone, so I stopped and asked him...
The Dishes Can Wait
Between getting my eight-year-old son to school each morning, and staying home with my active three-year-old, I am pretty busy. There is always something to do. Whether it be the morning dishes or the never-ending loads of laundry and of course the trails of messes my daughter makes.
Pit of Bitterness
I was in the third grade and we were studying different types of seeds for science class. The teacher gave us a variety of fruits and vegetables to look over. My friend Ricardo and I chose to dissect a peach. After removing (and eating) the sweet flesh of the fruit, we washed and studied the...
Want to give your children a leg-up in getting a job when they graduate? Make sure they can write clearly and effectively. A common complaint hiring managers make is it is hard to find young workers who write well. Someone who can produce a block of clear and...
We had just survived a week of sickness followed by two weeks of Spring Break. Getting up for the first day back to school was painful (for everyone). But we managed to make it to school and my kids seemed excited to see their classmates again.
If you’re a parent, someone is watching you. When you stub your toe and want to explode with an expletive—someone is watching you. When another driver cuts you off in traffic and you want to lay on your horn and yell out the window...
Baskets of Eggs
As a ten-year-old wanting to raise money for a bicycle, I got a job. Mom assigned me to feeding the chickens and gathering the eggs. I got paid by the egg. Reliability was not my strong point. Sometimes the chickens weren’t fed until evening and I groped for eggs in the dark.
Are We There Yet?
My family and I were on our way from Florida to Atlanta—specifically, Stone Mountain. The five of us were traveling in our Volkswagen Bus. My brothers and I called it the...
A husband makes a cutting remark to his wife. She fires back a critical comment. He reacts with sarcasm. She spouts off a barrage of jabs. And so it goes back and forth until he withdraws into the basement to work on his favorite hobby and she locks herself upstairs in her sewing room.
Where I See God
A gorgeous buffet greeted me as I entered the familiar dining area: food so well prepared and beautifully presented that it might have slid directly off the glossy photo pages of a gourmet food magazine. Relishing the moment as I stood next to my hosts, Dick and Eva, a kaleidoscope of...
Good for a Laugh
One gloomy day, years ago, my husband and I headed out in the car with our kids, then about two and four years old. I can’t remember now the cause of the problem, but the kids were cranky and my husband and I neared the end of our patience. En route to our destination we made a quick...
Passion Story Ideas
The year is transitioning again. The sun begins to emerge, birds are singing, and the displays of candy, white lilies, and pastel Easter bunnies are lining the displays at our local stores. The bright colors hint at welcome anticipation: rainy spring days won’t last forever and warm weather is...
Word to Your Heart
We don’t always get along very well with others. I suspect God had a pretty good idea this would be one of our most difficult problems come this day and age. Scripture is rich in resources aimed at helping us with this problem...
As the adolescent boy entered the baptistery; his older teenage brother gave him a thumbs up. The touching scene brought tears to my eyes. Big brother approved his kid brother’s decision to walk with Jesus—and expressed it by the hand sign. Family members gathered together to see “their...
Partners in Parenting
Recently I was at the grocery store when a man and teenage boy walked by me. I assumed that they were father and son. The boy’s arms were drawn up across his chest and his wrists were limp. With his mouth wide open, he stared up at the ceiling as he walked.
After almost five years of friendship, I’ve realized that my brain doesn’t work in quite the same way as my friends. I don’t know why, but our ways of thinking are very different. It feels like when they’re seeing a + b = c, I’m seeing a puppy...
Friends: Who Needs ‘em
“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. … A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NLT).
As a school employee, I recently took part in a training session for ALICE—a new program being introduced across the nation for dealing with armed intruders. ALICE stands for: Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate (not necessarily in that order). If you have children in a school system...
Losing Her Baby Boy
When I first joined Instagram, I only followed people I knew. Lately, I have been following a few who inspire me. Mostly other moms, raising young kids and sharing their journey through social media. One of the mothers, has a young boy about two years old, and had another baby boy about...
The On-Purpose Family
During our first year of marriage, my husband and I built a house. When I say “built,” I use the term loosely because aside from painting and wallpapering, most of the construction resulted by others more skilled. Because of our inexperience and lack of knowledge we made mistakes, as you might expect.
In her book, Unbroken, author Laura Hillenbrand tells the story of Olympic runner and World War II POW survivor Louie Zamperini. As a young teenager living in Southern California, Louie was better-known for causing trouble. Thieving was his hobby, especially if the loot was food.
Aunt Alice was more like a big sister than an aunt. I wanted to grow up and be like her and in many ways I am. Entering into her 80th year, there are still traces of the spit fire she had once been although she’s shrunk, uses a cane, and is often forgetful and disoriented.
Support and Challenge
When I was a young kid, my mom signed me up for t-ball one summer after school let out. At first I wasn’t sure I wanted to go. I wasn’t very big for my age and didn’t know much about baseball. So, I began riding my bike to the school ball field every week day for a month.
Parrot on the Fridge
It’s been hanging on our fridge since last school year. It’s a paper parrot that *Brian colored (or more like scribbled) and gave me, with a hug. I was surprised by his generosity because we didn’t really know each other. He was a student in a second grade classroom that I visited once a week in...
Sharing the Joy
We all have things that excite us, that thrill our blood when we talk about them. For me it’s classical music and the violin. I love to dialogue with people about different violinists and their interpretation of a piece of music, or various conductors and their style of conducting.
The Family Council
It was Friday night and my family was nervously sitting in a circle in our living room. Every one had a cup of hot chocolate in their hands, looking at their Father and wondering what he was up to now. This was an important...
Mother Trumps Friend
And the daughter I held that day has been such a blessing and has become good friend in the process – but I’ve stopped short of calling her my best friend. Authors Linda Perlman Gordon and Susan Morris Shaffer agree that that has been a good idea...
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.” We have all heard this nursery rhyme on the playground, but is it true? While this retort may help a child stay calm in the face of bullying, we all know from experience that words definitely can hurt us.
I knew this day would come. I’ve dreaded it. But there is no going back now. We will just have to pick ourselves up and move forward. You see, one pound of spaghetti is no longer enough for our family. Last night, we got to the bottom of the pan, and two of my children who seem to have grown...
The first Christmas of our marriage, the thing I wanted most was a warm bathrobe. We lived on the third floor of an old apartment building that trembled now and then as it settled further into its foundation. The floors tilted. The windows no longer fit their frames and cold winds blew through...
Only the Lonely
In an essay for The New Republic about the consequences of loneliness for public health, Judith Shulevitz reports that one in three Americans over 45 identifies as chronically lonely, up from just one in five a decade ago. “With baby boomers reaching retirement age at a rate of 10,000 a...
Budgeting with God
The Christmas season is past, 2014 is with us. Are you in debt because of overspending for Christmas? Christmas can be like a trap, the ads woo you to spend, spend, spend. If you succumb to the temptation, it’s a struggle to pay the bills.
Hide and Seek
Last night as my husband and I sat around the table with our five children eating supper, our youngest child, two year old Laura, decided to get up and play on the floor.
A Moment in Time
It’s that time of year again; presents, candles, cake and my boy turning one year older. He is eight years old this year, and as I reflect on the past years, I realize how quickly the time goes by. From the moment he was born, to crawling, to his first steps and on to learning his ABC’s, memories...
Help Grieving Friends
The time after the holidays is not always a period of joy for people suffering loss. Family members may have passed away in the last year and the annual gathering of relatives leaves a hole in the group. How can you encourage those who struggle with loneliness and pain after everyone goes...
My eldest daughter has decided to pass down to my four-year-old, Kira, one of her old dolls for her birthday this year. Hannah has dusted off the beloved doll and is creating new bedding to match Kira’s room. It will be great gift with a special story for both of them to tell.
One of the Least...
In the mid-1800s the Eastern cities of the United States contained thousands of homeless orphans. There were an estimated 30,000 in New York City alone. Running the streets and sleeping in gutters, they lived horrific lives. Many were the children of immigrant parents who had died from poor working...
Not for Cowards!
Wiping the tears from her eyes following our prayer, my friend smiled weakly. “Well, no one ever said parenting would be easy, did they?” “No,” I responded, “they didn’t.” God’s Word tells us the enemy “comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10) so why are we surprised...
Loved for Being Me
My daughter is almost three years old and loves to talk! She started talking at a young age and always has something to say. Lately, she’s been calling my husband and I by our first and middle names. She says to me, “What are you doing Erika Dawn?” Or, “Where are you...
The Simplest Things
Another Christmas has come and gone, and along with memories of family gatherings, I want to remember a quote I stumbled across. It’s a quote from Bob Hope: “When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things—not the great occasions—give off the greatest glow of...
Bryan Chapell tells a story about learning to use a crosscut saw with his father. As Bryan and his father were sawing through a log that had a rotten core, a piece of wood sheared off that looked just like a horse's head. So Bryan took it home and then later on gave it to his dad as a...
I just had one of those in-depth family discussions with my only sibling. Sometimes we explore family relationships and today we are very aware of a legacy of second-guessing that seems to stick to a family member who refuses to enjoy life.
Who'll Plead My Case?
Years ago I observed a teachable moment which laid a block in the foundation of my future parenting skill—I witnessed a friend on the receiving end of a lecture. Someone told his uncle he did something he didn’t do, and when my friend tried to plead his case, his words fell on deaf ears; his...
Kids and Temptation
It’s no secret that parenting includes a whole host of responsibilities. From feeding, clothing, and educating, to spiritual training and character building, parents have their hands full when it comes to raising children in this sin-scarred world. Certainly, no Christian parent would think to...
Zeroes to Heroes
It was a hard wakeup call when my grandsons threw a wet blanket on my suggestion that we go to the zoo. It was incredulous to me that they deemed another visit to our famous St. Louis Zoo “boring.” It was time for an attitude adjustment. If I wanted to share time with those two boys...
I have a family member and a friend battling cancer right now. This disease is not to be trifled with. It is deadly and will consume you without intervention. If the spread of these abnormal cells is not controlled, it will result in death. In 2012 about 577,000 people in the U.S. died of cancer.
Longing to be Heard
I don’t handle anger and shouting very well, but as a volunteer in a residence for the elderly, the infirm and the too-often confused, I realize that the anger is not about me and that the shouting is just a desperate longing to be heard—really heard.
Pushing Away Darkness
I received a phone call from a woman I had never met before; her quiet, timid voice came through the line. She had been given my number by a friend of mine, because she had recently gone through some events, that years ago, I too, had gone through—multiple miscarriages.
A Holiday Plan
Here we go again. We are heading into the most wonderful time of the year. But I clearly remember getting to January 2nd this year and being a little depressed. It was all over so fast. Things got too hectic. Chaos and parties replaced close family moments and beautiful traditions.
Another school shooting. And my heart breaks again. For parents, protecting our children is one of our biggest responsibilities. Honestly, we feel safest when they are with us – under our watchful eyes and specially-tuned ears that can distinguish their “Mooooommmyyyy!” from a host of other similar calls.
How would you like to lose part of your body? Not an exciting prospect. Yet it happens in churches all the time. The average number of missing members in many churches is 30 percent. Individual churches will obviously vary, but it means that in a church...
It was an extremely corny joke. The worship speaker had compared being of one accord or in agreement with one another, to being in a car together: a Honda Accord. It got me thinking about my friend Lily.
Second-hand furniture, clothes and books keep thrift stores in business and bargain hunters shopping. We recoil, though, at the thought of second-hand smoke or second-hand drinking water. Have you ever heard of second-hand trash?
Brush and Detangler
As we stand in line to sign in, I glance around at the other children. Several of the little girls have elaborate braids and bows and sparkly ribbons falling from their perfectly arranged hair. They have adorable, matching outfits without stains and their shoes are on the right feet. And once again...
What Thanksgiving traditions do your family hold? For the first nine Thanksgivings of my life, things were pretty much routine. Mom would get up at the crack of dawn to begin making the entire dinner from scratch. My siblings and I would sit in front of the TV watching the Thanksgiving Day...
Ole Black Cur
When we moved to a rental home up in the mountains our neighbors had what could best be described as an old black cur. This dog, we'll call him Lucifer, was the epitome of bad dog! Anything we'd give our border collie, Shep, this ole cur would take away. If we gave our dog food, Lucifer...
Bends, Not Ends
Long months after “Anna’s” husband died, she was still crying herself to sleep at night, hardly eating, and “going down-hill” fast. “I’m 77-years-old,” she moaned to her daughter-in-law in a lengthy, late-night phone call. “my life is over!”
Trip of a Lifetime
We loved going camping. It was a hobby I’d brought from my family of origin as I remembered many happy trips to Ocean City, Maryland, and Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Once married and with children of my own, we continued the tradition. There was always a lot of fun, but I never...
Press Around Jesus
Recently, I heard a sermon centered around the story of Jesus speaking at the Sea of Galilee and how the clinging crowd pressed around Jesus to listen. It's not hard to imagine how everyone would be attracted to Jesus. And for so many different reasons.
The other day as I drove along a country road near our home, I saw a caterpillar crawling slowly across the road in front of me. I navigated carefully around it so as to not flatten the caterpillar on the pavement. Chuckling to myself, I wondered, “Are there any ‘Why did the caterpillar cross the...
Before They Call
Susan chatted with her mother as they drove up the winding mountain road toward their home. Her muscles ached from working all day long in her pet grooming business. Suddenly a flash of black darted across the road. It was a Labrador retriever. The dog continued through the underbrush.
We got hacked. Like SUPER hacked. The websites I manage were crippled this morning. In an incredibly short period of time, thousands of hours of work and information and photographs and content just vanished. Code was overwritten, much crashing ensued and we were left with a...
Two Hearts, One Mind
My wife and I celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary recently. Normally, on our anniversary we exchange cards, but not gifts. We also go out for dinner together, just us, no kids, to a nice restaurant that we, rather than...
Children and Jesus
A young mother asked what to do to help her toddler daughter develop a relationship with Jesus. As a Sabbath School teacher of toddlers, I told her I had a few suggestions. I applaud you for all that you are doing to educate your child and encourage her into a personal relationship with Christ.
Family Harvest Fun
Before my family became Christians when I was ten, we celebrated Halloween without giving it a second thought. We decorated with “cute” witches, ghosts, and skeletons. But then we discovered that Halloween was really a dark holiday, with its roots in the occult.
After my walk this morning I sat down in my backyard facing the banana trees. Actually I’ve learned that although I refer to them as a tree, that is not accurate terminology. They are ornamental plants. In our region of the country...
All-y, All-y in Free!
Humans are hardwired for connection. We need each other! That’s why family is so important. There is a large body of research that points to our need for relationships and the problems of what social scientists call “social isolation.” God truly created us for relationships and we suffer when we...
Blessing the Boys
Not long ago my husband and I were discussing the current enactments of adult men depicted in the media. He feels outrage, shame and sadness at the way society seems to see the failings of men/fathers. I have to agree that...
When I was in my 20s I worked for a man in his late 40s. He was a good boss, and a nice man, the type of person you naturally like.
Just as You Are
I recently read a book with a lovely title but a heart-rending story. “The Butterfly Garden” is a memoir by Chip St. Clair recalling the painful and terrifying details of living with an abusive father, never knowing what would set him off on a rampage or what deadly “tricks” his dad would dream up.
I’ll never forget September 11, 2001. Not because it was my birthday and my family had planned a fun party for me. But because that’s the day they say our world changed forever. My husband had gotten up early that morning and turned on the TV to catch the morning news.
A Soft Answer
This summer, my family and I went camping at beautiful Priest Lake just a few hours from our home. With our new trailer (new to us) we had cozy camping quarters and enjoyed a relaxing weekend. We went swimming, hiking, and were able to appreciate God’s great outdoors.
There’s a lesson to be learned in Acts 16:31 about parental responsibility. Remember how Paul and Silas were shackled prisoners, yet they offered prayers and sang psalms of joy—and all the other prisoners were listening to their praise to God? Then, in the midst of that unusual scene...
Too often we consume things on this earth without realizing the consequences of our actions. I recently read an article about a minister from Nevada who was being interviewed about his faith and beliefs.
There are a few things no one tells you about motherhood. How infuriatingly painful it is to step on a Lego. How much you will come to hate car seats. How beautiful a freshly bathed kiddo in dinosaur pajamas looks. And, no one ever told me that I would never...
Only a Biscuit
Twelve-year-old Jake stood in the school yard and tried to ignore the hunger pains that gnawed in his empty stomach. Maybe his older brother and he should have given more thought to forfeiting their school lunch.
The Power of a Pet
Aunt Alfreda is an elderly woman who has spent her life in active service to family, friends, patients, neighbors, and church. As she is aging, however, she is becoming mentally confused with lapses in memory. These life transitions are difficult, especially for people like Aunt Alfreda who...
Gift Your Pastor
During more than a quarter century of pastoral ministry, my family and I experienced blessings and challenges in every church we served. One congregation we remember particularly because of appreciation shown to us from...
We’d been planning the trip for months. The kids had been counting the days. We’d gotten up very early to drive during the cooler hours of the day and had arrived at our amusement park destination just after they opened. But before we headed in, I had to get...
I’m a young adult and let me just tell you, it’s a tough phase in life. You go through a lot of changes and reality checks in a very short amount of time. At least for me, the first few months after college were filled with doubt...
When I was eight-years-old, my family and I took a huge trip all across the United States, from Washington State to Washington, D.C., hitting nearly forty states as we traversed through city and country. We visited family and friends and historic sites.
Back to School Plans
Within the next few weeks most kids will be heading back to school, and we parents are there to help them get ready. We make sure that they begin their back-to-school bedtime several nights beforehand, to avoid the first-day morning shock!
Longing To Be a Mom
There was a day when I thought I’d never be a mom. Most days, I could laugh and love life. My life was beautiful. I had married a wonderful man who loved me. We had a good marriage. He was my best friend. It was more than I had hoped for, even when it was hard.
Everyone had new fishing equipment except me. My dad and two of my older brothers had gone to the fishing department at our local store and picked out the best gear that they could afford. There was an air of anticipation...
He Was Lost
He was lost, and I didn’t know it. My mom was visiting with my nephews and we’d driven up to the Grand Canyon with my kids to check out the most beautiful hole in the earth.
I’ve been in a hospital/nursing home situation for about a year, and of all the people I miss, I miss my cat the most. (Please understand, people who have cats don’t see them as animals. They are in no uncertain terms a member of their family.)
Our quiet evening with family was suddenly interrupted by a gaggle of kids coming through the living room. One asked for a drink of water. The other had a shoe untied. And still another held out a finger with a little cut that needed attention. Later in the evening...
Hey, my teenage daughter isn’t the only one! I thought to myself when I read the article, Teens ditch texting for ‘old school ways of communicating. It tells of two teen girls who met at camp and became friends. When they parted ways, they agreed to... stay in
Hugs from Dad
On the day before I flew home for summer vacation, my dad called me on Skype to chat for a little bit. We had not spoken in a while (we had both been very busy over the last couple of weeks) and so we decided to catch up for a few minutes before going to bed.
I Don't Want to Die
I don’t want to die, Momma. His eyes welled up with tears. And my heart skipped a beat.It is bedtime and my seven-year old is afraid. My mind races. He is not sick, but has he heard about the recent death of his classmate’s father?
A Hand to Hold
When I walked into the Activities Room at the Senior Center to give the Saturday afternoon chapel service, I saw a youngish man in a wheelchair positioned near the large-screen TV. As the other residents and I exchanged greetings, the young man uttered short...
Scratch the Cat
No, our four-year-old daughter did not name the new kitten “Scratch” because of his claws. She said, “It’s because he likes to be scratched on the tummy!” So began our fifteen-year friendship with a black and white, short-haired cat that we adopted from an...
In this age, when the list of end-of-life documents has grown by leaps and bounds, how to dispose of your body after death is just one more maudlin decision. Of course, you could let your children and loved ones argue about what your real wishes were...
Soft Versus Harsh
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1) I’ve heard and read that verse hundreds of times since first learning it as a Sabbath School memory text. No doubt it is familiar to you as well. We all know it, but do we truly live it?
It’s here. Already. Summer vacation. And I have mixed feelings. For the “Hurray!” category: No more early morning alarms. No more packed lunches. No more homework or forgotten library books. And lots and lots of sun.
Your Other Father
“What are some childhood memories of your dad?” I asked Allen. His answer surprised me. “You know, I can’t think of one positive memory,” he said. “My father was an alcoholic—an unkind and mean-spirited man.
For me, one of the best aspects about reading, is discovery. And I suppose that in the same vein one of the reasons that I write is for others to discover. My strong suit in writing is the interview, I absolutely love discovering people.
Father and Friend
People sometimes tell me I have great relationships with my sons who are now adults. They are now good friends, as well as sons. It was not always that way. When they were young, they occasionally concluded an argument saying “You’re not my friend.”
My daughter and I were in line at the grocery store when a woman cut right in front of us. I mean right in front! There was a small space between my cart and the man ahead of me, and she just wedged her way in. It was irritating because it was rude, and I was...
You Didn't Ask
My eldest son recently celebrated a birthday. For several months he talked to, asked, and begged my wife to help him pick out an MP3 player. He earned some money and planned to treat himself for his birthday. Several times she told him to come and talk to...
A Special Time
Vacations are journeys that bring us to new places, sights, and insights. Our recent family vacation had many points of interest and stunning beauty, but I have chosen one special memory and time to share with you.
Should Have Prayed!
Last week our family was invited to a friend’s home for lunch. It was a beautiful day, and we all enjoyed a fine picnic outside in the fresh air and warm sunshine.
Helpful Little Hands
“Let’s help Mommy and bring the groceries in from the car,” I called to our small children one afternoon a few years ago. Our older two kids, ages four and six at the time, scrambled out to the minivan and quickly picked up plastic bags of food and...
She walked down the brightly lit hallway her slow steps muted by the industrial carpet and low conversations in the nurses station. Her frail frame weighted down by the knowledge that this would be the last time she would see he...
Forgot the Words
When 13-year-old Natalie Gilbert was asked to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at a nationally televised NBA Western Conference playoff game, it was a dream come true. But what happened on the day of her performance was more like a...
A Lie is a Lie
It happened often when my daughter was young. I would be in the middle of a particularly delightful story when Joelle would interrupt me and let everyone in my circle know that what I’d just said wasn’t the truth. She would then set the story straight and I...
Equipped by God
I have to admit that I often feel heavily weighted with the responsibility of my role as a parent. God has entrusted me with the enormous task of leading my children to Him. He created them and then placed them in my care to train them up in the way...
I own an e-reader which my children use for school. I recently purchased the official cover for protection from the many drops it most assuredly will receive. One of the cover’s features is that it somehow turns the e-reader off when the lid is closed.
Every Other Friday
My son graduated from college two years ago and found a job on the west side of town. His commute from my house to his job was over an hour one-way; he soon found a place on that side of town. It means I see him a lot less frequently, generally...
Teens in Danger
When I was in high school, the most risky activity on campus was climbing the water tower at night. Pretty tame compared to what today’s teens are doing, isn’t it? Today’s teens are involved in risky behaviors that are very dangerous—even life threatening.
I Feel Loved When…
“Let’s try something different tonight,” my wife suggested after our family worship one evening. “I’ve been reading about how the way people feel loved is not always the same. What is special to one person may be quite ordinary to another. God made...
“My husband and I were married 64 years,” said a woman at the lunch table. “I’m glad he died because I couldn’t take one more year of him!” My friend’s newly-widowed mother, who heard her speak, began to weep.
Butterflies and Babies
Our young children are at that point in their lives where we’re teaching them about the facts of life…sex. At first, this seemed like a daunting job. And not just us! A friend’s recent Facebook post revealed that other parents are in the same boat.
I was at a mandatory training class at work. When my boss came in and asked me to step outside, I knew it was serious. Nothing short of a major work accident, or a family emergency interrupted mandatory training. When he took me to the lobby...
What Our Kids Fear
I’d spent the morning with a group of over 60 seventh and eighth graders. Wanting to better understand this age group, I asked them to write down their answer to this question: “If you could ask God one question, what would it be?”
Where Angels Dwell
My friend, Sherrill, and I formed the practice several years ago of having a weekly prayer time together. During that time, we have shared joys and concerns, heartaches, anxiety, and even laughter. Sometimes we have met at the church that we both...
It was off-tune the words were all jumbly, but the event was priceless. All nine grandchildren were sitting on a picnic table singing and keeping time with homemade rhythm instruments, while a grinning grandfather accompanied them on his ukulele.
All of Me
At a recent Bible study, the leader stood and introduced herself to the group. She told us where she was born and a bit about her family growing up, then she talked about her high school years, what she chose to pursue in college, as well as her...
Nehemiah was a man with a calling. His heart ached for his people in Jerusalem who were struggling to get settled after returning from their 70 year captivity. After receiving the support of King Artaxerxes, this cupbearer to the king journeyed to the...
The person who made the greatest impact on my spiritual life was my dad. Although dependent on a wheelchair, he reached out past his limitations into the hearts of many searching people, planting seeds of life. He showed those around him that...
The Grumpiest Lady
"Are you still planning a writers' group meeting this week?" asked the church secretary when I stopped by with some newsletter copy. I nodded. "Well, call Dorina Wetzel* as soon as you get home. She wants to join.
I’m always behind. Always. There is always something I was supposed to do. Something that needed to be accomplished yesterday but didn’t get checked off the list. And that list? It’s a mile long. And it never seems to get shorter. I can never catch up. I can’t think of the last time I...
Last week our young-adult son moved out-of-state. He just finished a degree at the community college and wanted to be closer to a friend, so he packed up his belongings into his little Honda CRX and went south. I was out of town and missed...
Grandmothers come in all shapes and sizes and personalities. My grandmothers were polar opposites. When I was a teen, Maw and I wore the same size clothes and often traded outfits. Although church rules advocated no makeup, she wore...
My wonderful husband and I have been married for nearly 17 years. During this time we have enjoyed a “happily ever after” compatibility rivaling that of Cinderella and Prince Charming. Recently, though, I learned that I cannot take my husband and...
My sister used to love dressing up our pets in dolls clothes. She’d walk by pushing a baby stroller with our dear little poodle neatly tucked in with blankets, a bonnet on his head, and a fake baby bottle sitting by his side. Nor was our cat able to escape...
There is a Bartlett pear tree in our yard that was planted before we bought our property twenty-five years ago. When we began looking over our three acres of land, which we were thrilled about after living in town, we spied that tree and were so excited!
I signed up to bring cookies. How hard could that be? My daughter’s preschool class was having a football-themed party and though I’m not crafty or particularly creative, I figured football cookies should be doable.
Parenting is tough work. We’re not really prepared for the job when we begin. A baby is born and suddenly we are launched into a new role that comes with little instruction. There is no comprehensive manual handed to us at the child’s birth that...
What Is Family?
Every year, a good buddy of mine takes a week off from work and heads up to a small camp in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, where he joins a dynamic group of dedicated men and women who have chosen to serve their fellow men and...
Vows Worth Keeping
A recent internet article caught my eye. It was titled, “Revealed: The Hardest Marriage Vow to Keep.” CBS News had randomly polled 1,100 adults across the U.S. with the question, “Which one of these marriage vows is the hardest to keep?”
He doesn’t bring me flowers. He never has. We’ve been married ten years and I think I’ve gotten flowers once or twice. It’s not that he doesn’t love me. It’s not that he doesn’t enjoy doing nice things for me. But he doesn’t like to bring flowers.
The Big Blue Chair
“Sammi’s hiding behind the Big Blue Chair. I have to go find her,” said my granddaughter with a twinkle in her eyes. We shared a knowing chuckle as the almost-12-year-old headed off to find the five-year-old. I have “lost” more children behind that chair!
Missing the Boat
For those of us who are looking forward to meeting Jesus when he comes again, one of the things that is on our minds is the hope that our family members will be together on that day and that no one would miss out on that most spectacular event.
Thousands of Stars
The shooting that took place at Clackamas Town Center in Portland, Oregon last December came as a great shock to me. My side of the family lives in that area, and we have many good memories of times spent there. It sent chills up my spine when...
Encourage One Another
On October 14, 2012, the Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner broke two world records that had stood for over fifty years. He smashed the previous world record for the fastest dive, breaking the sound barrier and reaching a velocity of nearly 834 miles...
Neighbors to Friends
Wrapping myself warmly against the biting cold, I tucked my still-warm-from-the-oven gift under my arm and herded my equally well-bundled youngsters out the door in front of me. “This won’t take long,” I assured them.
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." Solomon, undeniably one of the wisest kings ever, stated the secret to getting children to know God. The secret is that this training needs to start when the child is young.
From the moment I got off the plane in Phoenix, everything revolved around my daughter Joelle getting their new house move-in ready. After 14 years in the Navy moving every three years, she and her family would finally have a home of their own.
The Family Dog
He had been sick for quite awhile. He had almost died from a virus when he was just a baby. So it seemed, now at the age of 119 (in dog years), that he would live forever, or so I’d hoped. For 17 years of my life he had been a rock solid friend, the friend...
“Mr. Lardas, you write beautifully.” “Would you be willing to write my family’s history?” the woman asked. “It is a fascinating story.” I never say no. I know their family’s history is fascinating.
Hug Them Tight
There probably isn’t a parent in this country that didn’t hug their kids a little tighter the night of December 14th. As news spread that 20 innocent children at Sandy Hook Elementary School had been shot, parents around the nation grieved deeply...
“Little pitchers have big ears.” I heard that puzzling phrase often as a child when I entered the presence of adults, especially women, who would suddenly, awkwardly hush their conversations and start talking about the weather or the laundry.
It had been a long day at work, it was dark, it was cold, and as I got to my door, I noticed a note. “So what does someone want now,” I thought. Expecting an invitation to yet another baby or bridal shower, I was surprised when I saw it was from Corinne in...
My Christmas Wish
Holiday time is always tough and tender because it holds so many memories for us all. There is a certain indefinable emptiness about returning home, or facing the holidays now. I assume that it often comes from the reality of life without some...
Four a.m. Friend
Friends come in so many packages. They are really like extended family. But what kind of a friend are you? Most of all, I want to be a friend whom my friends can count on to be there for them. It’s not possible to be physically there for...
This is a wonderful time of year when children’s eyes sparkle, not so much for what they hope to receive, but for the secrets of what they are planning to give. Kindergarten and elementary school students, if they apply themselves of the opportunity, are...
A Gracious Getter
Christmas tradition in our family allowed us to open one gift on Christmas Eve. It was so hard to choose the perfect gift to open first.
I’m a transplant. Compared to some people, my moves of a few thousand miles here and a few thousand miles there are insignificant, but for me, moving is never easy. I’ll be honest, I love the adventure, and I don’t mind the travel, but I don’t like the starting over.
The Gift of Prayer
All week I’d raced with the clock, and lost. I felt frustrated as I left work Friday afternoon because of what lay undone at the office. At home, things looked equally disordered. Tasks I should have done during the week had piled up.
Cleaning and Cleaning
It was a chaotic week. Ahhh, who am I kidding, most of my weeks seem chaotic. But this week included a visit from my much beloved sister-in-law who lives half a country away and whom I never get to see. She was coming out for a business meeting...
Years ago Native Americans found boulders of churt, (American flint). They could see the potential of the churt for weapon making and various other tools. But the rocks were too large to take with them; so they would chink off large chunks, carrying...
Have you ever noticed the similarities between how people relate to their spouses and to their God? Some people believe that they have a relationship with God when they know a lot of facts. They read the Scriptures or religious material in order to know...
Tug of War
Living up in the mountains of northwestern North Carolina, we are a distance from any conveniences and, for that matter, from even simple necessities, but we are blessed with a family closeness and surrounded by a beauty that few ever experience.
Give Thanks by Giving
America will celebrate Thanksgiving Day this month. Most families are planning for their gatherings already. For those who need to travel to get to where they’re gathering, they most likely have already obtained their travel tickets or allotted in their...
At this moment, I am writing from my comfy chair, looking out my large living room window at the multi-colored landscape, which is an absolute gallery of the Creator’s artwork. The blustery day provides a backdrop of blue-gray to the yellow, red, and...
God Trusts Us
It amazes me how much God trusts us. The One who knows the end from the beginning is always hoping in our potential for good. I was reading the story of Saul in I Samuel 8-15. To God’s disappointment, Israel had wanted a king like the other nations.
While walking near my home, a neighbor introduced herself. She was wondering where my adult son, who often accompanied me, was. I explained he had a job on the other side of town, and moved to avoid a long commute.
Mixed in with the changing of the leaves and the vacillating mercury, comes the sound of boys and girls of all ages enjoying the time honored game of football. Although it’s been a long time since I was loyal to a professional team, I’m devoted to a...
The important women in my life over the last years have repeatedly said, “It gets easier. Nothing is harder than the baby/toddler years.” I’ve smiled and secretly thought, Whatever. School aged kids and that crazy schedule has got to be awful. And then there are the teenage years.
I can’t help but remember my mother on her birthday. I get a bit nostalgic when I pass racks of cards for Mother’s Day or Mom’s birthday. I used to plan visits to my parents’ home for her birthday.
The Grace of Failure
At some point in life most people feel they’ve failed in some way. I must admit, as an adult, the area where I feel the most conviction is being a father. Not so much because I don’t try, but more because I wonder whether I’m honoring God.
I've always loved autumn. The rich smell of new wood in the fireplace, hot apple cider, fresh baked breads, the fragrance of fallen leaves, and the family get togethers. It's a cozy time of year, when the temperatures dips low, and we dust off our...
I am an ordinary woman. I live a simple, ordinary life. I work hard, laugh often, and live well. But sometimes it can be difficult to find real meaning in endless dusting and in the folding of laundry and the vacuuming of floors for other people that fills my...
A Blessing Grandparent
When I learned that I would become a grandparent, I realized that once again our family would change. I was excited to meet this new family member. The “Grandparent Club” started to emerge from among our friends.
One afternoon when I was a kid, my mom, with my sister and I in tow, went to pick up some supplies at a small bookstore near our home. The store had shelves of brightly colored paper, shiny new staplers, pencils, pens, and other supplies.
The greeter at the church door carried out his task well: friendly, engaging, helpful. As I left him and ventured toward the doors leading into the sanctuary, a deacon laid his hand on the doorknob, then stopped before opening it and said...
Bringing Dad Home
When Darlene’s mother lay in the hospital with an incurable lung disease in 2006, she watched her dad age quickly in just two-weeks’ time. He had difficulty walking, and seemed confused, disoriented—and lost.
Anita was a young, vibrant, active mother of a 10-month-old and a two-year-old when she was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer. I did not know her well, but her husband and mine had been friends and coworkers for several years.
Family Worship 101
Family worship has taken a bad rap! Over the years, so many family worships have been so boring and dry that many grown children now don’t follow the tradition of worship with their own families. That’s a tragedy, and it...
Memories of long days spent in classrooms come in different forms. My memories are mostly visual: watching Gerry Still score another home run during kickball, riding my newly painted pink and black bike home for lunch, singing along during worship as...
The Woman Next Door
I’d only seen her once or twice, and I never knew her name. She was simply the woman who lived next door. From a distance, I could read pain in her face etched there by a life that had been hard and that had too many scars.
Like A Deadly Flood
One of the deadliest floods in history occurred in China in 1931. Some speak of it as the deadliest natural disaster ever recorded. Chinese sources say the death toll was around 145,000 people, but western sources place it between 3.7 and 4...
We’ve all seen the lovely artist’s renditions of those family scenes: holidays, vacations, celebrations of families gathered together. Yet for some, the pictures aren’t reality as they may seldom get to see family members. We live in such a spreadout...
“So it's the laughter we will remember. Whenever we remember ... the way we were,” sang Barbra Streisand in the 1970s. The lyrics point out that some of our best memories are connected to laughter – to joyful times spent with friends and family.
Sorting It Out
Last Sabbath was communion service at our church. As usual, on this special day, we prepare ourselves spiritually to accept the emblems of Christ's sacrifice for us. We try to have our hearts and minds clear from distractions of the world, and we bind...
Divorce Hurts Kids
Divorce hurts children. Though some experts argue against the negative effects on kids, divorce does damage – even if the split is justified or necessary. There is a line of argument that goes like this, “Kids are resilient and they...
I’m Praying for You
Every time I hear the Christian song, “Somebody’s Praying for You” I get a lump in my throat. Just the thought that someone cares enough about me to pray for me is comforting. There are times I actually feel that someone is lifting my name up to...
We recently watched a TV program about a young couple who adopted a child from China. They’d chosen a little girl and committed their hearts to her. Then they received word from the Chinese government that the little one might have...
That Kind of Day
I’ve had a day! The kind of day where my children don’t get along, constantly whine, tell on each other, and constantly bicker. The kind of day where no matter what you do, the kids just don’t get along.
Make Room for God
The other day, I was cleaning out some old boxes of books from when I was a teenager. I had not gone through them in years. I had forgotten many of the titles.
My baby boy is sick—high fever, heavy congestion, a wracking cough. He is miserable. I am, too. I want to make him feel better so I’m vigilantly giving his fever and cold medicine on a strict schedule.
Old and New
I like new things; perfectly white socks, sharp kitchen knives, tiny spring flowers. But I like old things, too; butter molds, lace handkerchiefs and antique cake plates.
If you have children who attend church, you’re probably familiar with the songs that talk about how much Jesus loves kids. Songs like, “Jesus Loves the Little Children” and “Jesus Loves the Little Ones Like Me, Me, Me.” But after the events of last...
My three sons and I sat on a large rock that jutted out into a remote mountain lake. The heat of the July day had melted away. We watched as God displayed wonders in the sky that beat television.
Dr. Seaborn Beck Weathers is a Dallas Pathologist who was 49 when he attempted to bag the summit of Mt. Everest. In the spring of 1996, Beck along with 17 other clients, relinquished upwards of $70,000 to be safely...
A Pat on the Back
My husband had just lifted our new friend’s wheelchair from the trunk of our car and brought it around to the passenger side. Our guest, suffering from painful spinal problems, pulled himself to standing position to accomplish the transfer from car to...
Lessons from an Owl
When we’re young we seek wisdom, but for some odd reason we attribute wisdom only to the elderly. Can it be that we really don’t want the responsibility of wisdom when we’re young? Why is that? Probably because when we’re young we don’t yet...
A True Gossip
Imagine listening to your pastor announce from the pulpit that you were a true gossip. Would you take it as a compliment, hang your head in shame, or flare up in anger?
It started with an exchange of e-mails from someone I will call James. He had seen my website, and wrote, asking if I were the same Mark Lardas that had attended the elementary school we had both attended. We had been classmates in Kindergarten...
I Pick Jesus
I think one of the prickliest positions to be in as a kid is the choosing of sides for teams in school sports. I was somewhere in the middle: not the first to be picked, but not the last either. My pain came in the suffering...
It’s a tradition. Every Mother’s Day I take my mother-in-law to the nursery while my husband goes to her house and spades her flowerbeds. In addition to other flowers, this year she especially wanted two magenta geraniums. While she was outside...
A recent trip back to my hometown brought to mind anew the importance of family gatherings. My family includes dear friends, not just blood kin. My church family is as close to heart as those who share my surname and family features. People who were...
My father-in-law turned 90 in April. He is still in good health. The run-up for his birthday included a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles to renew his driver’s license. Every Sunday he visits for Sunday dinner with my wife and I...
Meg's Other Family
“Meg” was four years old when her father died, leaving her and her mother to take care of each other. She was what some people called a “slow” child, and when she became an adult, she exhibited no marketable skills. Life went on as usual in the...
How important is the role of fatherhood in the lives of children? The answer might be summed up best, by the negative impact on society when fathers are not present in their lives. Is there a tangible impact when such a scenario exists?
Middle of the Storm
I’ve known Lynn since we were kids. We grew up in the same town and have stayed in touch through the years. I even went to the hospital the day her first child was born, a baby girl with a life full of possibilities ahead of her. So it came as a shock when...
The Smell of Home
When our kids came home for college breaks, one of the first things they would do was take a deep breath and sigh, “Oh, it smells like home!” In fact, they still do when they come home for visits. I love that! I'm so glad they associate the unique scents...
Today’s mail brought a love note. Our mail lady delivered it in a cluster mail box. My husband has no reason to be jealous; in fact the note pleased him too. Someone took time to say, "I care."
J. Richard “Dick” Steffy was a remarkable man. He spent the first half of his working life as an industrial electrician. In the 1970s he changed careers. He became a maritime archeologist.
Stengthen the Weak
The tropical seeds came through the mail in one of those numerous solicitations to “send money, save the world.” Curious about what sort of tree they would produce, my husband planted them. Three sprouted, but only one survived the early days of...
Chickens have it made, at least my son’s chickens do. They have a house built just for them, cozy nests, comfortable roosting shelf, food, water, yummy table scraps and a fenced-in yard. They even have maid service to keep their home and...
My dad spoke in grave and authoritative tones as we pulled up to the gas pumps; “The price of gas is ridiculous! If the price goes up past 50 cents a gallon, I’m going to have to find another way to get around.”
Pass It On
Isn't it delightful how God puts others into our life with words to give us the direction we need? Recently a friend, who realized I was concerned with a loved one’s needs, said to me, "Someone once gave me the message of ‘Stop putting yourself above God.’”
Train Up a Child
I'll never forget what it was like, at the age of 10, to give my life to God. My entire family became Christians at that time. And we were reveling in that “first love” experience with God. My siblings and I had such simple faith. Dad, who had led our family...
Importance of Hair
I used to have cute hair… funky, short, lots of product, lots of color – great, cool hair. Now I have frumpy mom, ponytail hair. How did this happen?
The Price of Lying
Things were going badly where I work. Management implemented a new system that blocked progress. The project I was on soon fell behind schedule.
If you’ve ever had the displeasure of a rudely behaved child crowding in front of you in an already packed grocery line, or heard a youngster tell you to “give it” with their hand out towards you, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Seasons of Motherhood
“They grow up so fast!” I can’t count the number of times I heard that sentiment expressed when my twins were small. “Can’t be true!” I told myself. There were days that I could not see beyond the dirty diapers, piles of...
Learned on Flight 847
My father has always been my mentor, spiritually and in other aspects of life. Growing up, I can remember him complimenting people on the fine work that they did. I especially noticed that he did this for those who worked...
As I recall swings of my childhood, I equate the swinging with happy memories. How is it possible to swing and not feel happy? There’s an elation to the movement, be it just up in the air a little ways like a porch swing or a glider that simply...
Everyday around 4 p.m. my husband comes home from work. He looks tired, but is always enthusiastic to talk to me and spend some quality time with our two children.
Not too long ago, after a few weeks of searching and praying about it, I was able to find a new job. We all know that this is not a guaranteed situation or luck, it's a blessing. This process got me to wondering if God is...
Oh, the memories. Rainbow squares. Peppermint forests. Chocolate swamps. And the King of Candy. It’s amazing how strong childhood memories can be. It’d been 30+ years since I’d played this famous kid’s game, but it all came...
“I’m very concerned.” A well-meaning church member had cornered my wife about a particular way that we were raising our children, and she was explaining the “right way” of doing things.
All those little pink and blue chicks are kind of cute, and lots of kids like to have an Easter egg hunt. But think about it – is the Easter Bunny really teaching your child anything valuable?
Three months after I got married, my husband and I were blessed to find out we were expecting a son. We did not try to plan out when we wanted to have children, but I think that in my mind I had decided that a year after...
Feelin' Like Zero
Zero is an unusual number. By itself it is nothing. Zero. Naught. A record of emptiness. A place holder. Despite this, it has many functions. On one side of the decimal it can increase the value of whatever it is standing next to.
The Value of Roots
Since I became a parent, I have found increasing reasons to admire my own parents. Parenting is a tough job and we all tend to do it with good intentions and many mistakes.
It used to be that cheating on a test was a somewhat simple endeavor; write answers to difficult questions on your arm, or look over at your neighbor’s work for the correct explanation to that tough problem.
Friend or Foe
Brenda and I were about the same age. We had two children each; an older daughter and a younger son. We took our children to church regularly when they were young and we both continued to attend church as empty nesters.
I found it out in our garage the other day—my Creative Writing Journal from a high school class. One of the entries took me back 30 years and 450 miles away to my childhood home.
In January my younger brother got married. I was the best man. Our older brother conducted the ceremony. None of us are in the first blush of youth. Nearly thirty years earlier, my younger brother had served as best man.
I used to be Papyrus. For years now, the default font on my computer has been set to it. I loved the slightly splotchy lettering, rounded letters and long lines. It was the style of type that most felt like me. When I’d begin...
A few years ago I received a gift of a planter with three cacti from Arizona. In anticipation that they would flourish and grow, I placed the pot on my kitchen window sill along with several other plants.
I Am Beautiful
How is beauty defined? Is it having straight hair, a flawless face, and being able to wear a size 4? The media typically devours women who possess the above qualities. What kind of lifestyle do these women have to live...
Can We Talk About It?
I saw a comic strip in which the wife said to her husband, “I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize what you heard is not what I meant.”
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). We are perhaps the busiest generation ever to live.
The Legacy of a Smile
Twenty-five years in the classroom, at the same school is quite a record for any teacher. Ken Wilson achieved that record, though the last year was a struggle. A diagnosis of Lou Gehrig’s disease...
I've always been intrigued with the altars that the people of the Old Testament built. Even as a kid, I was impressed with the great stories that included altars. There were altars of sacrifice, altars of incense, altars to false gods, and especially...
Holiday arrangements did not happen as planned this past year. I found myself floundering about in a melancholy haze, going through the motions yet feeling sad and homesick.
Valentine’s Day is filled with thoughts of love and adoration. You can just imagine that someone very romantic established the day and maybe even sent out the first lovely Valentine’s card … but history tells us that the day was established by...
Thinking of Home
Nursing homes are one of my least favorite places to visit. Watching people, once full of life and now so disconnected from who they once were, tugs at my heart. Is it because it is a harbinger of things to come or is it the sadness at seeing...
What’s in a Name?
My friend Nancy, who is one of the best children’s storytellers I’ve ever heard, recently told me a poignant story. She recalled her childhood when a teacher asked his students what they wanted to be when they grew up. Nancy knew what...
She was his first Valentine. He was hers. They married on Valentine’s Day, 1953. People said it wouldn’t last. She was too young; he was a bit restless. But their love set out to prove everyone wrong.
A little five-year-old girl named Megan was being led through an art gallery by the artist whose paintings were being showcased. At the end of the day, after seeing so many beautiful, exquisite paintings and being told by...
“I believe these belong to you,” a man extended his cupped hand toward me. I peered into his hand and noticed that he cradled five seeds. They were indistinct seeds that I had never seen before. I took them from the man and wondered what this was all about.
Seasoned with Love
Are you a parent who works hard to raise your children to be good Christians but wonder why they don’t like each other? Perhaps you’ve prided yourself on teaching your kids to clean their rooms, brush their teeth, and talk politely in public but...
My husband’s job takes him out of town periodically, sometimes for several weeks in a row. As one might imagine, these single parenting stints where I am left to manage the house and our two preschoolers tend to wear...
A question recently posed to me sent me into a quandary. “How do you honor grandparents who are in error?” The question stumped me and I did not have an answer. After many days of soul searching and praying, a revelation came.
Things Gently Used
There’s something about second-hand shops, yard sales and consignment boutiques that draw me. I’m sure it’s because I grew up during America’s Great Depression. Shopping-on-the- cheap proved to be expedient.
Not a Failure
Last week, I spent some time visiting three Jr. High classrooms. I asked them to write down candid answers to some questions, including this one: “What do you think God thinks of you?” I was happy to read positive answers like these:
For 17 years of my life, I had the companionship of a great little poodle named “Popeye.” He was the best dog for which a guy could ask. He loved to follow me around the house as I did my daily routines. He loved to sit outside in the green...
Longing for Glory
We had a wee bit of a thing brought in to our ER this past week. I’d been talking to my daughter on the phone and she told me the scanner said we had a little one coming in and it didn’t look good. It was a two-month-old in cardiac arrest.
Are You Distracted?
Scenario: You’re praying and five minutes later you’re thinking about an upcoming project. Then, you try to figure out how you ever forgot that you were praying? Distractions come in all forms, shapes and sizes; some of mine call me dad.
“Mom, have you had a chance to read that book I sent you?” I asked. As usual, her reply was, “Oh, Dee, I’m just so busy. I haven’t had time.” That usually left me scratching my head. After all, my mother had worked my whole life and had looked
The Mom I Am
We had planned to have another baby. We wanted another baby. But when the pregnancy test came back positive, I went into a bit of a tailspin. I remember sitting on my living room couch, looking around with disbelief at the general chaos...
One Christmas Closer
Four years ago, my family and I wondered how we would make it through Christmas. For the first time in our lives there would be an empty seat at the holiday table, a face missing from the family photo, and one less present under the tree.
Twice I've signed up for Facebook, and twice I've canceled my account. Why did I cancel? I'm thinking the better question is why did I ever sign up? The first time, I was asked to get on Facebook in order to be able to view pictures of family...
Cry With Me
I attended the celebration of a good man’s life. I knew him only from short visits to his hospital room during his final days. The ravages of many years of Type I diabetes were taking their final toll: heart, lungs, kidneys, circulation.
As I watch the autumn colors brighten day by day, I thrill at the colors, even though I’ve seen this annual Act III of nature for so many years. However, I also know the colors will soon fade and the leaves will fall into blankets upon the earth, as...
Dating for Seniors
It was a lovely ceremony. The bride was 81; the groom was 86. Children, grandchildren and some great grandchildren were in attendance as my brother walked our mother down the aisle. Those of us who were bridesmaids wore black...
Are you a responder or a talker? You might say, “Talking is responding.” Yes, but not all talking is responding to another. If your wife asks, “Honey, what type of motor oil do I need to pick up for the car today?” You could respond, “Five quarts of...
“Selfish” House Guest?
Once, a family member came for a two-week visit, but ended up staying four months. Excitedly we welcomed him, but the novelty soon wore off. As weeks stretched into months, I felt taken advantage of.
It seemed at the moment of repeating vows, her beloved realized he had made a mistake and didn’t want to be married after all. They’d spent those months in counseling trying to work out what she’d first thought were wedding day jitters.
Most Americans enjoy Thanksgiving gatherings be it at church, to thank God; at home to thank family and friends; or community celebrations with some who may be strangers but who are indeed part of our life, as we share American soil.
Kids in Charge
Do you find your kids wanting to take charge—even when it’s not a good idea? Below is a family activity about taking charge you can do with your kids. You can read the text as is, or use it as a starting point for your own ideas.
Documents in Order
The only question we had at our mother’s passing was what type of flowers we should order for the service. She was a very savvy 89-year-old and had everything planned for and paid for. All of her files were in order and easily obtained.
Twenty five years. Young adults are often shocked to hear of couples staying married for 25 years. And when they hear of marriages lasting 50 years, they think such couples have come from another planet. Yet, even though most marriages...
Millionaire Next Door
I’m always on the lookout for life lessons and valuable examples to teach my children. Two lessons I've shared, were experiences I had in my younger days. While attending university, I walked by an elderly gentleman. He wore a pair of well
Room for Seniors
We recently had a visit from some very senior (over age 85) family members. They had not been at our home in several years, and in the meantime, several health conditions had changed for them.
Family Came First
At a family-member’s invitation, I attended the memorial service for “Lillian,” an elderly lady I’d known through my volunteer work at a nursing home. The Lillian I knew suffered many problems including severe memory loss.
Too Old to Babysit?
How old is too old to babysit your grandchildren? I don’t mean an hour or two on a Saturday night, I mean day and night. I never thought I’d struggle taking on my two-, four-, and six-year-old grandkids for five days. I’m a young 64 and love...
The Family of God
Moving is a pain! I’d be surprised if anyone will challenge my statement. Packing alone is challenging, without even thinking of all the other aspects like notifying everyone you know, the utility companies and, well you know, all who must...
Jesus Loves Kids
Jesus stands up for kids. He loves them. He values them. And Matthew 18 shows just how much. When the disciples asked Jesus, “Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to Him and answered...
The Power of One
Have you ever wished you had the power to change something in the world? To take something hopelessly sad and make something good out of it? Have you ever said, “Yeah, but I’m just an ordinary person—no one’s going to listen to me”?
We’ll Stay in Touch?
Peeps is a modern term used to refer to your crew, gang, friends, buddies, pals, homies, people, posse or whatever you call your friends. When I graduated from high school, I remember hugging my peeps and shedding tears as we...
I lost my job in August. I expected it. I work on the Space Shuttle program. It ended in July. With no immediate follow-on manned space program, you did not have to be a rocket scientist to figure out what was coming. Four out of every five...
Waves of Influence
Standing by a fire I had lit in our burn ring, I watched for any stray spark that might set the nearby brush and woods on fire. It was a hot, muggy day. The birds provided the only movement in the trees. There was no wind to cool me or to fan...
Thrown to the Wolves?
“So you’re just going to throw her to the wolves?” My mother heard the question as clear as day during her devotional time. She knew that ‘her’ was me. I was a senior in high school, planning to go the college that gave me the best scholarship.
The classroom was buzzing with excitement before the morning bell rang. In a few days school would be out for the summer, and I was substitute teaching a room full of antsy fifth and sixth graders. I told them at the beginning of class...
In My Mother’s Image
Most little girls want to grow up and be like just like their mom. I wasn’t one of them. From the day I was born, there was tension between my mother and me. She was fond of saying that I cried all the time and wouldn’t let her hold me.
Lessons From Birds
A chorus of caws, squawks, and bird shrills assaulted my ears as I left home early one morning. The commotion came from the row of evergreens abutting our yard. Jays, crows, starlings, and sparrows darted in and out of the branches.
Bring the Children
Recently I heard a news report about a couple who are raising one of their children without telling the world the sex. The couple said, “We’ve decided not to share Storm’s sex for now — a tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation…”
The Perfect Mate
A friend shared that he noticed his wife had “that look” in her eyes. He invited her to go for a walk. His daughter wanted to join them, but he said, “Not this time, Daddy needs to spend some time with Mommy alone.” As they walked together, his...
As one who didn’t know about the joy of the Sabbath day as I grew up, it was important for me as a mother to see that my children enjoyed Sabbath. My husband knew about Sabbath as a child but there was no celebration, it was all rules and...
Words to Bless
About ten years after my father died my sister, who continued to live in our parents’ old home, came across a handwritten notebook that I’d given to Dad on his birthday in 1980. In it I’d penned memories, thoughts and poems I hoped he’d enjoy.
They happen every five years or so. My mother-in-law’s side of the family gets together for a big family reunion. And I mean big! She came from a family that had six girls. They all grew up and had kids…who grew up and had kids...
Music holds an integral part in my life. Like many, I can equate certain events in my life to certain songs and vice-versa. Even my last holdout for becoming a Christian involved music. It wasn’t until I prayed and asked God to give me a...
“Stupid hammer!” my friend shouted as he threw the tool across the floor. It slid into a plastic jar of screws and sent them flying. “Hammers can’t be stupid,” I mumbled from the other room where I was helping him hang sheet rock,
Alone in a Crowd
Alone in a crowd is an expression to describe utter loneliness. God’s Word addresses loneliness in Psalm 68:6. “God sets the lonely in families…” What does that mean? I read a Bible commentary on that text, which referred to the state of an...
“The birth of a grandchild is a fresh opportunity to love as you have always wanted to love!” The smiling great-grandmother who said those words in response to my excited announcement of a special new baby in...
I don’t particularly like doing laundry. It’s one of those jobs that I have to do once a week so I can get on to what I really want to be doing. So when I find a stain, I see it as an interruption. I know that it’s going to take longer to get the job done now.
When I got engaged, and for the first year after our wedding, old married people often told me that sex was overrated. But I wonder if sex isn’t misrepresented more than it is overrated.
“Nice ride,” my neighbor said as I rolled down the street. I was driving a nice car, but it was my middle son’s car. A late-model, low-mileage luxury car that had been a former fleet car, it was the type of car you would expect someone in...
Seize the Moment
Did you spend some time with our son today?” my wife asked me one evening before we drifted off to sleep. “No”, I mumbled. “I want to but it seems like there’s just too much going on. I know it’s important. Somehow I’ve got to find the...
Thank You Lord
My childhood choir director, who is one of my life's greatest blessings, related the following story to me. One afternoon, surrounded by bills and burdened by the question of which would get paid that month, Grandma quietly...
Letting Kids be Kids
When I was growing up, my parents didn’t make specific plans for my summers. Except for the usual trip to Granny’s house, summers were left wide open to whatever my imagination—and that of my siblings and friends—could come up...
Crib of Hope
I am blessed to have a reason to write this article. I wrote an article a few years ago about several miscarriages I had. At the same time as one of my miscarriages, I had won a nursery sweepstakes. It seemed so unfair and depressing at the...
My Older Brother
My older brother is a genius, literally. I am not a genius. I am very smart, actually, but not in the same category as my older brother. Growing up, compared to my older brother, I felt
“Uncle Red passed away last night,” my mother shared one morning after breakfast with my brothers and me. I was about eight years old. “In a couple days we’ll be attending the funeral service.” I felt a big knot in my stomach.
I was up, in the middle of the night, again. But this time it wasn’t because one or the other of my three preschoolers needed something. I’d actually set an alarm for 2 a.m. on Friday morning, April 29th, to get up with my baby girl to...
Last semester I took a college class in Developmental Psychology. We studied human development including physical, social, cognitive, and spiritual. Our professor had a true passion for this class and a story for every question asked.
When our first baby was about to be born, I became very aware of what is known as the nesting instinct. I wanted to make sure the nursery was finished in plenty of time just in case the baby should come early. So as the due date...
I was never the kind of girl to have a list. A “list,” in girl language, is a literal list of attributes—that could reasonably be confused for mandatory qualities— that the list holder would like any future love interests to have. “He has everything...
Children and Moving
Summer is a time many families pull up roots and move from one house to another. Moving can be stressful on children. What can parents do to help their kids ease through the transitions of relocating? Here are ten tips to making moves...
Check It - Today
Every weekend, after running errands, I stop at a shop that sells Kolaches. The place is local. It has a small-town Texas feel. The owner, whom I will call "Jane," chats about local happenings as I make my purchase.
Children - Sun Safety
Several years ago, as a young college student, my husband received the shocking news that he had developed malignant melanoma. Many Americans treat the subject of skin cancer casually, probably due to their familiarity with skin...
Plan Ahead Parenting
A good share of parenting is spent preparing our children. We prepare them for bed, for school, for outdoor play, for summer camp, but do we prepare them enough for what they may face in life? It’s important to plan ahead for what...
Love to Iron
For the past few months, I’ve been the Mom-who-irons-her-married-son’s-shirts. Not that my daughter-in-law is lazy, she isn't. In fact, she’s quite an industrious gal, a very busy professional woman. Because of this, my son is one of those...
Dividing the Pie
Every year the company for which I work has its employees choose their benefits for the following year. This includes choosing beneficiaries. Picking my primary beneficiary is simple. My spouse gets everything.
When Opposites Attract
When people ask how I met my husband, I tell them, “Our eyes met across a crowded room.”And in the days, weeks and months that followed, I found myself attracted to him because we were so much alike.
A Mother's Dilemma
I know we’re getting closer to exit 345 when the big black sunglasses come out and my mom’s nose gets red. I know we’re closer still when her cheeks begin to match her nose, which now resembles Rudolph’s.
Mother's Day Tears
Mother’s Day is a difficult day to celebrate for my best friend. The church sponsors a Mother’s Day breakfast, there are announcements, and people think of ways to treat and...
Your Daughter's Image
If you’re the mom of a preteen or teenage daughter, being aware of eating disorders is important. In an ongoing study funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 40 percent of girls nine and 10 years old admitted they’ve tried...
Prayer for Couples
My husband and I recently started praying together. No, we aren’t new Christians, and no, we aren’t newlyweds. We just finally got around to the blessing of approaching God as a couple.
Easter Story Cookies
It was one of those moments when I took a mental snapshot. And 13 years later, I still remember the wide-eyed wonder in my daughter’s eyes. I wanted to make Easter come alive to our then four-year-old...
When Men Go Mush
I think I have discovered a new developmental phase for men—Male Mid-life Pet Attachment Phase. During the Empty Nest period of parenting and marriage, this phase seems to be expressed as a time of bonding with family pets.
“I see you. I know where you are right now, and I’m coming to get you.” David winced as he looked at the computer screen. Who had sent this message, and why did they keep contacting him?
Living With Dust
Right now I’m staring at dirt – 2,400 square feet of it. Relaxing in my lawn chair (with no turf in sight), a gentle breeze catches the dust and carries it to the cement slab where I sit.
I don’t mean blessed (one syllable) in terms of “fortunate.” I know I’m fortunate. The majority of us living our middle-class existence are blessed. I’ve visited third-world countries, overcrowded city slums and poor rural areas.
Home schooling is educational for both the child and parent. Currently my son and I are studying the laws of motion in science. Mass is a measure of the inertia of an object. Weight is a measure of the force of gravity acting on an...
My Friend, Francisco
You can smell the aroma of coffee from a couple of blocks away from “Café Cuba.” Francisco, the owner and friend, is a warm and pleasant Cuban, just like the espressos and coffees he serves from day to day…week to week.
Teach Your Child
A virtuous woman prepares her children for marriage. Proverbs 31 begins with the words, “The words of King Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him…”
Free to Find Joy
Going through life someone taught me, or I absorbed the concept, that life will always disappoint you—so do not hope for much since you will just be disappointed.
Grandparents are lucky. In a way, they get to be parents twice; they raise their own children and then hopefully play an active role in raising their grandchildren.
He Sees the Sparrow
Jerevien loved birds. She loved birds so much that her pets were all different kinds of birds. Jerevien had three parrots, five sparrows, and one bright-red cardinal named Firecracker.
Kids and Money
Whether it’s true or not that “money makes the world go round” kids need to learn early how to relate to it. Money itself is an inanimate object, neither good nor bad. It’s our ideas about money that determine whether it affects our lives for good or evil.
My Quiet Time
“Are you having your quiet time with Jesus?” I asked my 7-year-old son Brandon a couple days ago before breakfast. He told me yes.
He won’t still sleep with a pacifier by the time he’s in high school. He won’t still cry if he has to go to class without me. He’ll pronounce his “L’s” by then. He’ll be able to eat without dropping half his meal on his clothes.
People who work at least a few hours a week after retirement are healthier, and happier and live longer that those who choose not to work, researchers tell us. But what about when you get into ten years and more beyond...
Brother, My Brother
The ball dribbled across the court and finally rolled off the asphalt. My brother and I paid the ball no attention. My mind was fully focused on the punches I was throwing at my brother’s face with all of my might.
Need a Counselor?
When our bodies’ breakdown, we go to doctors and hospitals for help. But when our hearts and minds are hurting, when things seem to be going from bad to worse, where do we go?
Seasons of Change
On a recent Saturday I took the time to browse through some old photographs of my family of origin. There we all were at those special celebrations: birthdays, weddings and family vacations at the beach.
What would you be willing to give up for your spouse? Watching sports all day on Sundays? A habit that annoys them? A tendency to nag? Or how about a kidney? That’s exactly what Cindy gave up for her husband, Chip.
My Valentine, Melvin
February 14 had always been a bleak day of empty mailboxes and broken dreams for me. On my very first Valentine’s Day after moving to a new town, I found a tremendous bouquet of flowers waiting for me at my front door.
Sharing the Grief
My voice was shaky, and my eyes filled with tears. The only words I could seem to squeeze out were, “I’m so sorry.” I was attending the visitation services for my nephew who had been killed in a car accident.
To help your young child get ready for math, give her practice now by using number, size and quantity words. Make a point of using these words yourself.
I’m not sure where I’m supposed to go now when I go home. I spent most of my growing up years in Southern California.
Alone, Please Visit Me
Alone. What pictures and emotions does this word bring to mind? For many it evokes thoughts of peace and quiet in the midst of a stressful life, a few moments of respite from the busyness that can leave us feeling overwhelmed.
Mom, My Stomach Hurts
I recall having numerous stomach aches as a child. Sometimes it was just a little discomfort; sometimes I stayed in bed. Mom usually gave me a hot water bottle and that helped.
One hundred thirty eight thousand and ninety five dollars! That’s a lot of money, and according to a recent report by Salary.com, that’s the amount of wages that would be assigned to a stay-at-home mom.
Love Like Crazy
I was watching country music videos yesterday morning. Now, this is not a rare thing; I do it almost every morning, despite the criticism I receive from most of my friends.
That First Job
My youngest son has started his first job. He is sacking groceries at a supermarket. It is the type of first many teens have, part time, minimum wage, no experience required. He is learning about responsibility.
Love Your Sister
“Stop cracking your knuckles!” my daughter shouted at her brother.“Well, if you’re so perfect, why are you always late to breakfast,” he shot back at his sister.
Cries for Help
Many of us have not been trained to deal with our children’s problems during their turbulent teen years. Loving and understanding parents can handle many issues that arise during these years at home. But it’s very important to know...
People who work at staying connected are those who possess the gift of encouragement. Heart ties with a kindred spirit can often mean the difference between successes and failures in our lives, not only with personal...
When I was a young teenager, some friends introduced me to a brand new product called Super Glue. They described its power in being able to hold the weight of a car. I was skeptical. So, they asked me if I would participate in a...
The Shepherd's Cudgel
In biblical terms, a rod was a serious piece of equipment, most generally associated with punishment in some way.
Thirty Five Dollars
It slipped out today, “my dad’s picking me up”, and I liked it. Even though he’s not my birth father, if anyone were deserving of the title “Dad”, it would be my stepdad. My parents were divorced when I was very little, and my mom...
To Love or Not Love
Molly is our family’s Cocker spaniel. Actually, she is our son Jon’s dog and always has been, even though we didn’t necessarily set out for it to be that way. It’s just that Jon is so obviously her favorite that...
Our 16-year-old daughter now has her driver’s license. This is a new phase of life that has my husband and I both excited and yet a bit worried. And reading the following statistics doesn’t ease our minds any. According to an analysis...
In today’s society we, as women, find ourselves constantly juggling work, social activities, church activities, and school activities so much that our first priority – our home – is unwittingly neglected.
The Blame Game
It’s as old as earth. Some call it rationalization. Others environmental. It’s been said that it is just the natural byproduct of dysfunctional families and systems.
The "New" Car
My youngest son now owns a car. He is nineteen. The car is only a year younger than he is. It was a one-owner car, owned by close friends. They bought it when their sons were old enough to drive. Both sons—now grown and on their...
The Tube Turn-Off
While I was putting gas into the family vehicle a short time ago, I was amazed to see a video screen in the gas pump. The small 12 inch moving picture played short commercials, upcoming events, and video trivia to a captive audience…me!
Who Does What?
“Wash on Monday, Iron on Tuesday, Mend on Wednesday, Churn on Thursday…” This little ditty from pioneer days may be outdated in modern society, but the principle still applies.
Highlight the Name
This summer I’m volunteering in the office of Habitat for Humanity, a great organization that helps provide individuals, who could not otherwise afford it, with the opportunity to own a home. My first task there was trivial : alphabetizing and...
Enjoy Your Children
Being a mom is by far the most rewarding part of my life. To watch a tiny little baby grow and develop into a beautiful, kind child is a blessing! I loved being pregnant and giving birth.
I recently visited with my nephews and was amazed to see that nine-month-old Brandon is already beginning to walk with help. He grasps, very tightly, the fingers of whoever is holding him and begins to walk towards the goal.
The Bible says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you...
Leaving a Legacy
My grandpa died today. It wasn’t unexpected. It hardly can be when someone is almost 95 years old. Knowing it’s coming, however, doesn’t make it any less significant.
It was the first time I placed myself in an area where I knew I would not be seen by my children. I stood watching, somewhat transfixed as they flitted here and there.
Tips with Toddlers
Infants begin bonding with their siblings during the first year of life. All siblings are fascinating simply because they are kids, says Judy Dunn, author of “From One Child to Two.”
The Turbulent Teens
Teens will say what they really want is someone to believe in them and encourage them. They want someone to look up to, and often don’t find an acceptable role model at home. Teens are looking for stability in the adults around them...
His face broke into a smile as he and I said goodbye on a recent Sunday morning, and my heart was filled with gratitude for what had transpired in the previous seven days.
Bless That Stranger
Any Bible student will recall the Genesis (chapter 18) story of Abraham entertaining strangers – three men, who were really angels.
Restaurant Chez Moi
Over the course of our marriage, my husband and I have learned how to blend our two healthy, but slightly different eating preferences into something we both really enjoy. I grew up with the mom who always had dinner on the table...
Her Name was Margott
My mother taught me unforgettable lessons. Through her, I learned to admire women as great human beings. As a child, she endured long absences from her father. Being the eldest sibling to her brothers, she had to face harsh...
Long Life Happiness
This past May our family had the privilege of spending some time with my oldest living relative. Aunt Bertha is 106 years old, and possesses a clear mind, razor edge wit, and the distinct ability to make you feel loved.
Just Being There
Dr. Jonathan Ives, of the Centre for Biomedical Ethics at the University of Birmingham, claims being present at your child’s birth may make a father feel like a failure and can damage the bond with that child.
My local store features rows of beautiful red hothouse-grown tomatoes. The controlled environment produces perfection on the outside but bland, unsatisfying taste and texture on the inside.
Put the Kettle On
Marianne always put the kettle on. We’d known each other since we attended South High School, in Akron, Ohio. However, the years of our young motherhood launched the full bloom of our friendship. As a friend, she measured well.
Every one of us has experienced a situation where another human being, especially a child, has “pushed our buttons”.
Car Buying Tips
My three-month stint as a sales representative in the car business was an eye-opening time of discovery and jaw-dropping realizations that many car dealerships were less than scrupulous.
Home for the summer from my first year in college, my old friends wanted to know what college life was like. Many of the seniors at my old high school asked me, “What do I do, when I get to college and I have all that free time?”
A Family of Five
Some of you may be familiar with the place. You may have had a similar experience. After eating lunch at Fernwood Gardens (a botanical garden near Buchanan, Michigan), my husband and I had taken a short walk down to a dock.
In an Instant
Last week I remembered that it has been one year since my husband had his motorcycle accident. After I heard a chaplain’s message on my cell phone, after I panicked and went numb, after I called my son, and then found my way to the...
Daily Family Worship
One of the most important ingredients in a happy Christian home is faithful attendance at the family altar. The Bible shows a consistent example of daily worship, morning and evening. In addition to having individual time with God each...
Ginger the Wunderdog
One Sabbath Jesus showed up at His hometown synagogue in Nazareth and had the Scripture reading.
When Grandchildren Move
Careers and education often create difficult choices for families to relocate—within a state or across the country.
Tears stung my eyes as frustration broke through my giddy, excited state. I’d been determined to keep a happy attitude in order to still the fear of traveling alone. It proved harder than I thought once the van driver started yelling at me.
A Genie For Love
Three guys walking on a beach together stumble on an ancient lamp. As they pick it up and hold it, suddenly a genie pops out.
An Angry Wife
I was recently talking with a young woman whose marriage seemed to be crumbling before her eyes.
Men and Feelings
Men, have you ever been asked by your spouse (or a friend), “What are you feeling right now?” And, if you are like many men, you respond, “I haven’t a clue! I can tell you what I think, but I really don’t know how I feel.” Some men have said ...
ABC's on My Heart
Long ago, when for many, paper and postage fees were an expensive luxury, receiving a letter was an event and sending one was taken very seriously. With very tiny, even script, line upon line, every bit of space on each...
As a child growing up, one of my very favorite places to hang out was my grandparent’s house. They didn’t have a lot of luxuries but there was a certain humble peace that pervaded their home.
Missing the Moments
Last spring my wife was visiting a nursery looking over the flowers. She happened to be in the section where the Impatiens were displayed. Abruptly a young man walked up to where she was standing. “Beautiful, aren’t they?” he...
On the sixth day of creation, as the culmination of God’s work, “Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man,” (Genesis 2:22). When everything was completed, God noted that it...
One of my sons is majoring in Civil Engineering at college. He will be spending six weeks in Costa Rica and Panama, this spring and summer. It is not a vacation, rather it is part of his curriculum...
I’ve worked with teenagers for over twenty years now and have loved every minute of it. Many I’ve known have been well-balanced, happy teens. Yet I’ve been surprised at the numbers who have faced either mild or serious depression.
Learning to Wait
As I finished playing my guitar for a group of small children, I invited one little girl to come forward and strum my instrument. Immediately ten other children stepped forward begging to try it out as well. I firmly and kindly said, “No.”
Toddler Food Fights
“He won’t eat,” declared the exasperated mother. “Daddy makes him eat and makes him go to bed, but he won’t do it for me.” My client was expressing her frustration with trying to feed her two-year-old child. She was also having problems with...
Angels Rode with Us
My wife and I had been married six weeks. One day we decided to go house hunting. The small upstairs apartment we had hurriedly moved into lacked a private entrance. And we wanted to adopt a pet.
It was with great displeasure that I carelessly flipped through the pages of the book I’d just received for my birthday, pretending to be interested. I knew I had no need to pretend; everyone knew my dislike for that topic. It was one of...
The Perfect Father
My father is not perfect. When I was growing up he drank and physically abused my mother. He was demanding, critical, and verbally abusive. I didn’t enjoy being around him when I was a child. I wanted a better relationship with him...
Some are calling this generation of teens and young adults “Generation Me” because they are so self-absorbed. This concerns me because we have a teenage daughter. And we don’t want her to be self-centered.
Dear Grandson, how quickly the years have rushed by since the first day I saw you as you entered my world. It seems like yesterday that you would gleefully run into our home to spend time at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.
Some of the fondest memories from my childhood are family vacations. I can still hear the voices of my parents and siblings as we piled into the Plymouth and headed from the plains of Kansas to the Rockies.
It was 4:43 a.m. when I got the page. Mechanically, I groped for the Blackberry on my night stand and stared at the screen.
The Perfect Proposal
Eight years ago, on St. Patrick’s day, Brent proposed to me. Each year as the holiday approaches, I am reminded how important it is to really listen to and honor my husband.
This morning’s space shuttle launch couldn’t have been nicer. We watched in the darkness of our backyard before sunrise. The sky was totally crisp and cloudless so we were able to watch the shuttle from the building glow at the horizon until it...
Being a "Grand" Parent
I’m a brand new grandfather! My wife and I became grandparents for the first time about five months ago. I’m thrilled. There is nothing like it. I will have to admit that the thought of a “young guy” like me being a grandfather struck me...
One of the greatest joys I have is working in my vegetable and flower gardens. My husband and I also grow fruit trees and are working on black raspberries and strawberries. It may seem to some people that the obvious purpose of...
Part of the Family
Several years ago, a stray kitty visited our porch. She climbed up on the bench and looked in our window. It was the middle of winter and snow covered the yard. My husband and I felt bad for the stray kitty as she looked through a frost...
"Do it myself," is a pretty common phrase from my two year old right now. I generally don't mind it. I know he's learning independence and trying out his skills. But yesterday's experience took the cake.
Spring has officially sprung! And it’s the perfect time to think about spring cleaning. But if you’re a mom, don’t think you have to do it all by yourself, it should be a family affair. And as much as your kids and hubby may complain, you can...
Growing Corn and Kids
Every spring our family plants a big garden. With five children and three acres we have plenty of room and plenty of need. But it’s more than just having good food to put on our table. Planting a garden helps us grow in our characters.
In Defense of Animals
I have a very soft heart for animals, particularly animals that have been abused and neglected. One of my favorite TV programs is one that takes an animal (usually a dog, cat, or horse) from an environment of neglect and then builds the...
To Be Loved
The other day, my son said, “Mommy, thank you for loving me.” Being very observant and inquisitive he asked me what love meant. I told him that love is when you care about someone and you have feelings for someone.
They Do Not Give Up!
The words were written in big white letters on the rear window of the car driven by the man in Santiago, Chile. A journalist approached him and asked him: “Is it true? Chile does not give up?” “Of course not!” he answered.
I recently looked at an old Dr. Suess book that brought back many memories for me. If you love children’s prose the chances are good that you may have thoughts of your childhood attached to at least one of the whimsical topics that made these books so beloved to children the world over.
Loss of a Dream
We lost Washington. As a military family, we are used to the moving process that happens every three to four years. It all starts about nine months out when a list is released showing possible bases we can move to.
Where Flowers Bloom
Who can tell the value of a simple flower? We often send flowers to express love, gratitude or sympathy. We somehow know that flowers lift the human spirit. They help us see the beauty in life, and the hope in living it.
I Need You
My son, Carter, is four-years-old turning 18. His independence is very important to him. The desire to do pretty much everything on his own is not only important, it’s his demand.
Life Is Too Short
I awakened during the night for no apparent reason. As I lay there in the dark, I listened carefully to my husband’s rhythmic breathing. It was comforting. Peaceful. I paid special attention because I knew that in a few days he would fly...
No Princess Zone
So I have one, okay, so I have this little fear. A phobia of princesses. Little girls who insist on putting on one of their 47 princess outfits each day and fall on the floor in a pile of tears if they are told no. Little girls who argue...
When Christian couples are dating, they are often encouraged to choose their dates carefully. Not only the person they date, but also the actual date itself. Caution is given for when it is appropriate to be alone and when being alone...
Tune in to Family
There are thousands of radio waves surrounding you at this very moment. Unless you are tuned into any of them, they will pass you by unnoticed. Without a receiver to zero in on a certain frequency, you cannot hear or see these...
Two of my 10-year-old son’s best friends are Mark and Miles. Not only are these boys brothers, they’re twins, identical twins. They are so much alike that sometimes their own parents have to stop and take a second look to...
Coming to Terms
Three years ago, when we moved to Japan with the U.S. Navy, we had a fairly simple plan for our time on Okinawa. It went something like this... During our time in Japan, we will: 1. Become fluent in Japanese. (Duh! I'll be there THREE years—it's a TOTAL given!)
Life's Leaky Faucet
Drip! Drip! Drip! I can understand why this sound makes people feel a little edgy.
It's the Simple Things
I recently gave birth to our third child—a fabulous little girl. She and her two older brothers (4 and 2 years old) are the basis for the question I hear most often lately: “So, how is it with three?”
A Feathered Friend
Growing up on a farm has given me an appreciation of animals and many opportunities to observe them. I’ve marveled at the devotion of the goose and gander to their goslings. My heart has been warmed when I’ve seen cats...
Surviving a Job Loss
Like five million other Americans, you or someone you’re close to may be singing the pink-slip blues. But losing a job doesn’t have to be all gloom and doom. Sometimes great opportunities can arise from initially discouraging...
Best of Breed
I am a dog-lover. So recently when friends invited me to accompany them and their dogs to a dog confirmation show I jumped at the chance. We left early Sunday morning because judging the retriever class...
At the beginning of 2009, Pastor Dave Ferguson went to a Kinko’s store with his Starbucks drink in hand. One of the employees joked, “Hey, where is mine?” Dave responded, “What do you want? I’m buying!” He noticed two...
He'll Carry You
I will always remember my first week as a single mom. My own mother had given me the money to rent an apartment and escape with my two small children from an abusive husband.
Can you imagine what it would be like to discover that you’re finally pregnant but the baby you’re carrying is not your child? That’s what happened recently to 40-year-old Carolyn Savage. According to a story in the Omaha World...
Whose Kid is it?
When I first heard someone say “it takes a whole village to raise a child” I shrugged it off and thought it was a ridiculous cliché’.
Nose to Nose
My teenage son just passed me in height. It’s been a year since I last arm wrestled him and won. He’s challenged me since then, but I keep putting it off. It’s crazy! The little boy I used to wrestle with on the living room floor has...
Budgeting for Success
According to various sources, between 45 and 80 percent of American adults make New Year’s resolutions. And among the top 10 is usually one about controlling spending or getting out of debt.
Slower is Faster
I’m a task-oriented kind of guy. I like making lists and checking them off. When my mind focuses on a project, everything else fades into infinity.
Stirring Up the Nest
You loved being a parent. You loved watching your kid grow up and go through all those fascinating stages of development.
She is a quiet young girl with a gentle smile and warm, brown eyes. And although she is smart and talented she never tries to draw attention to herself.
Occasionally I travel a distance away from home, and I am quite often in a position where I need to pack a bag or two because I’ll be staying overnight in a hotel.
Despite the best efforts of the emergency room team, the patient’s heart stopped and was not able to be revived.
The Least of These...
Two days before Christmas I phoned a girlfriend to ask if she had her shopping done.
Do you think it is important for your children not abuse drugs, alcohol, or tobacco? You are not alone. Most parents do not want their school aged children involved with drugs alcohol, and tobacco. Parents have good instincts. Habits...
I did it. I fired my much-loved, inexpensive, and always available babysitter. Why, you ask, would a mother of two (ages six and four) ever consider parting ways with good help? In case you haven’t figured it out, this childcare...
Crisis is Not All Bad
You’ve got to be kidding, I thought as someone shared this thought with me. I had always avoided crisis at any cost.
I’m coming to You tonight with a broken heart. Grandpa died. I know that You already knew that, but I need to talk to someone.
Why do you think it is that men find it harder than women to call their mothers? This was the question-of-the hour as I traveled with my neighbor to our Co-op for organic produce.
As the mother of five children, I have realized that children are not always as thankful as they should be.
My middle son was home from college one weekend. It was my youngest son’s birthday, and older brother wanted to be there. He also wanted to talk over some plans with me, so he tagged along as I ran errands, including a trip...
The Price is Right
One foggy Sunday morning in November, I spread boxes of lamps, collectables, furniture, and other items on the cement driveway and held a yard sale.
Train Up a Child
Lately, I’ve been stuck with the importance of raising my children in such a way that they desire to know God. By that I mean to really know God, not just to know of God but to know God in an interactive way, as a friend.
Breaking the Cycle
I know a woman who hated her home life as a teen. Things got so bad that she actually tried killing herself in order to escape the pain. She vowed to never get married, and certainly to never have children of her own. She didn’t...
If you’re looking to do right by the planet without buying a hybrid sedan or expensive organic sheets, don’t stress. There are plenty of other ways you and your kids can help both the earth and your budget. These cost-saving...
My youngest son is currently taking a class on communications. Puzzled about some of what was being taught in class, he asked, “Dad, you give presentations, don’t you?”
Encouragement is a vital part of our personal growth and also in our effectiveness in serving humanity. But often, people tend to avoid encouraging others. I have to say this has always been a bit of a mystery because to me it's...
Un-Super Sizing Kids
You’ve probably heard by now that Americans are getting larger. And adults are not the only ones struggling to control their weight. Childhood obesity is a developing epidemic. The National Health and Nutrition Examination...
Fall Family Fun
Although autumn is officially here, don’t feel that you have to leave behind the family time that you shared last summer. There are endless outdoor and indoor activities that your family can do to stay connected. Here are a few...
The Right Thing
You are a baseball fan. You have been going to your team’s games since you were three. Now you are an adult, a dad with two girls. So you take your family to the game. During a game something happens that has never happened to you...
With the arrival of autumn and all of its glory, comes the intrusion of Halloween and all that is gory! Personally, I grow less tolerant of Halloween every year. But intolerance is a negative emotion, so I've taken a more positive...
A Green Goodbye
There are green buildings, green cars, even green weddings. Now comes one of the latest, and ultimately last, choices the environmentally conscious person can make, green burials.
Last week I had to take my daughter’s car to my friend’s car shop. My friend was extremely busy with jobs going on more than one car at a time. I started to work on my daughter’s car but soon realized there were not enough...
It’s worship time and there he is preaching, Mr. Good-At-Everything, in all his perfect holiness. Ironically, he’s preaching about the parable of the talents. He holds a few colorful Monopoly bills in his hand and calls three...
When the twins turned 11 their parents decided to allow them to have a television in their bedroom. Benjamin and Aaron were excited, and even though they were only allowed 60 minutes of TV a day, they were grateful that their...
Have you ever had one of those days (or weeks) when it feels like nothing goes right? Times when you feel all bent out of shape? In the thick of things it can be really hard to see how such crookedness can be a part of God’s...
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” From the time we’re children, it’s what everyone wants to know. When you’re four, it’s cute to answer that you want to be a fireman, a rocket scientist, a giraffe or an airplane.
Three Cord Rope
As I took part in the Communion service at our church this past week, I experienced an especially rich infusion of the Spirit. First, while my husband is a deacon and has many times served the congregation by handing out the...
A Prudent Wife
"Houses and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the Lord" (Proverbs 19:21). I like the way the New Century Version of the Bible puts this verse: “Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a wise wife is a gift from the Lord.”
If Walls Could Talk
I have always loved old houses. Older houses just seem to have so much more character than the cookie cutter type models we see so much today. I love visiting historical homes and imagining the history that has taken place...
Mothers and Sons
When my mom had her first baby, the doctor assured her that she was going to have a girl, so she took a cute little dress to bring her daughter home in. The only problem was, “she” turned out to be a “he.” And my dad had to go...
The start of a new school year is just around the corner. Eager youngsters are picking out new notebooks and choosing what they’ll wear on the first day of school. Teachers are arranging colorful displays in their classrooms...
I am not overly concerned about things. Ironically, of the things I do possess, two that I would be reluctant to lose are my wallet and my checkbook. Not because of their contents. If a thief were to demand my money or credit...
Blocking a Blessing
At a former job, I met a young lady who longed for a husband. It seemed to me that longing was all she ever did; she believed that her life’s purpose was to be a wife and here she was husband-less, and therefore purposeless. She was...
Before I was married with children, I pictured my future family sitting around the dinner table participating in family worship. Some friends of mine from high school told me about their families reading the Bible together every night...
Fathers and Daughters
Although my mom and I were very close while I was growing up, my dad also played a very important role in my life. Dad and I shared things that Mom and I didn’t: a love for horses, playing the guitar, a passion for pastoral...
Waiting Pays Off
“I want to buy that pocket knife.” My son pointed through the glass case at the glistening knife nestled among a dozen others.
Free At Last
Jim felt the evil presence fill the room. He turned off the computer, fell to the floor and began to plead with the Lord to drive the evil away and clean the room, the computer and him.
I had the most refreshing observation yesterday in church. As the congregation was singing "It Is Well With My Soul", I glanced across the aisle at our pastors young children. They were holding hymn books, but I couldn't help...
I'm feeling overwhelmed. We've just found out were going to have another baby. Were thrilled. And I'm terrified. I'm a good and loving mom, but I am not an organized or structured mom. I seem to get by on a wing and a prayer.
A True Friend Is...
The Wisdom literature of the Jewish sacred scriptures contains the following proverb on friendship: "As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend" (Proverbs 27:17).
Lucy's a beggar. She's also a beagle. A freckled brown and white, warm, soft, bouncy beagle. Lucy stayed at our house once while our daughter, Kate, was passing through to go to a wedding. Dog-sitting a puppy still in the potty...
The Long Crop
My father-in-law comes over to our place for Sunday dinner most weekends. As I said grace on one Sunday, I thought how good it was that he lived close enough to drop over just whenever. My father-in-law is in his late...
There is never a good reason for domestic violence. Here are six steps a victim1 can take to escape an abusive environment.
I will survive. I will not go crazy. In my house, in a few short weeks, there will be three children under four years of age, a teenager, a husband and a dog (who refuses to potty-train).
Summer is moving right along and moving with it are opportunities for family togetherness. Not that families can't be together during the school year, but summer is a great time for even more quality time.
A Family 4th
I love spending time with my family on Fourth of July. Every year on July 3rd, our now teenage daughter and my husband make a trip to our local fireworks booth. When they get home she lines up her treasures on the living...
Power of Friendship
The Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote extensively on the philosophy of friendship, describing the nature of genuine friendship, what it is, what it looks like, how it works. Here's how he defined it...
Mark on My Heart
I can’t get my it off. My wedding band. If I didn’t live in a tropical, humid environment; if I drank more water and ingested less salt; and most importantly, if I wasn't six months pregnant, I probably wouldn’t be having this...
They have been lying at the bottom of a box for two years—dozens of sympathy cards I received after my brother died. I read and appreciated each one as they arrived in the mail. But after the funeral, it was just too painful to...
All Things New
It’s been five months that I’ve officially been “on my own”. My sister and I had been living together until December of last year, when she got married. I have to be honest, it was tough leaving. I loved living with her and always...
I walk my dog every evening. More often than not, I see a father and his two sons in the front yard of one house on the route. They are practicing baseball. As I near the corner, I hear a steady “tink” of an...
He came to me for help with an English paper, but it was really he who helped me. The assignment was to write a poem using a symbol. He chose an anchor, and here’s why. He had recently made some wrong choices and had gotten caught.
The Wedding Gift
My single favorite wedding gift was not a card with a generous check or gift certificate. It was not a much needed kitchen appliance or household furnishing. It was not even a cherished heirloom now bequeathed to me for my...
Be the Change
"Be the change you want to see in the world." Have you heard that quote before? Mahatma Gandhi coined the now famous phrase. I thought about this quote as I was watching an old episode of Oprah on my DVR. This particular episode...
Sarah’s parents were new to town, and Sarah was just getting to know her new classmates at church. The second-grader was full of energy and brimming with mischief.
I woke up one day and realized that my continuous dream of having three kids in diapers might actually come true! The baby bump had started to get quite large around twenty-eight weeks and even though I was encouraging my...
Love is Listening
“I write because…I need to express my thoughts. It seems no one listens when I speak.” I learned amazing things about people in my Adult Education Writing classes when I issued their first assignment: “I write because….”
Once I served as an election judge. My wife was one of my clerks. We left home at 5:15 am, worked non-stop all day, and got home, after dropping off the ballot box, at 11:00 pm. Exhausted, we had more to do. I still had to take...
The current recession has fueled a barrage of store closings, plant closures, massive layoffs, cutbacks in service and an 8.5 % unemployment rate—the highest in 25 years. To date, 5.1 million jobs have been lost since 2008.
Content in His Arms
As I was waiting to go up and see a friend in the hospital, I noticed another family also playing the waiting game. Two or three would go up at a time and in 15 or so minutes they would come back down to allow another...
My husband and I have been living in this little town for just over two years. We both knew that the job he took there was just temporary. A family friend was happy to help us out while my husband looked for something more...
Letter in the Attic
One day a little girl was rummaging through a trunk in the attic when, in the very bottom, she found a letter. The family had moved to the community several years earlier, and the mother had written the letter to one of the...
Thankfully, the media paid next to no attention to the fact that last April 30 was “End Spanking Day” as proclaimed by a group calling itself EPOCH—End Physical Punishment of Children. My former graduate school...
Help, My Mom Died
This year marked my second birthday as a motherless child. I will always think of Mom on my birthdays—we two started out together.
I often hear people talk about how messed up this generation of teenagers is. And their concerns are valid. Take a look at these statistics from Teen Mania Ministries.
Free Ice Cream
A great-aunt taught me the free ice cream rule. When someone offers you free ice cream, there are only two acceptable responses: “Yes, please,” “No, but thank-you for offering,” or some variation of those two responses.
What's in Your Closet
Because it’s still too cold in my neck of the woods to be gardening, I’ve decided to conquer my cabin fever by cleaning the closet in the den. The first layer isn’t too bad. I don’t mind parting with old homeschooling...
When Siblings Fight
My boys are six and four. My older son prefers playing by himself, and when I make him share with his younger brother, he just goes to something else. For example, when I suggest they take turns shooting...
The Girlfriend Need
As a transplant to Florida, I meet other people who are also transplants. A complaint I hear from them is the lack of friends. They miss their old friends—and sometimes so much that they return to where they moved from.
One Quarter at a Time
My middle son was home from college for the weekend. Before heading back he handed me a roll of quarters. “I almost forgot,” he said. “Can you use any of these?” I am not so financially strapped that I cadge quarters...
A Return to Virtue?
As President Obama approaches the halfway point of his first 100 days in office many Americans are continuing to experience job and home losses in what some analysts are terming the worst financial and credit crisis since the...
Forgive and Forget
My in-laws did not want me. The day their son became my boyfriend our whole relationship changed. Their son and I had been friends for almost three years. Never, in my wildest dreams, did I expect to be rejected as a...
Speak Truth in Love
Sometimes we are so busy trying to keep the bad things from happening, that we miss unbelievably rich opportunities to grow and embrace what’s happening in our lives. When we step up to having really important...
More Like Your Son
I saw John’s mother at the grocery. John had been in my son’s Boy Scout troop. My youngest son invited John and his parents to attend the court of honor where Ben would receive the rank of Eagle. Ben admired the older boy.
Of Mice and Men
All of us make plans. When we make plans, we hope they will go as desired. But that doesn’t always happen. If “astray” happens, how do we balance our life and get back on track? Do we even dare?
Good, Clean Dirt
Margaret Atwood said, “In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” Margaret got it exactly right. When spring is enjoyed to the fullest, it is more than just seeing green grass and colorful flowers.
Ten Special Prayers
From the dawn of time parents have been seeking to pass along to their offspring spiritual strength and enlightenment. This process is always lengthy, and never easy. Yet with perseverance and the blessings of God it...
The Secret to Success
When I was younger, I was a terror of an overachiever. I had the tendency to get discouraged at not being able to do something or not being able to get it right on the first try (I still at times suffer from this malady). When I would...
My son wrote a song a few months ago called “Time Passes By” which lamented the passing seasons of life. As Mark and I are about to have an empty nest, I tend to hear the words to that song echo through my mind now and...
Living in a debt-free societ. What a novel idea! The sad fact, however, is that the average American family is swamped with debts.
Children Say Things
Our son, who’s almost four years old, says nasty things to us. Last night, for example, when my husband was reading him a bedtime story, he said, “I don’t love you anymore, Daddy, and I want you to move out of our house.”
If it were possible to decode the burst of activity that occurs in the brain of a newborn at the moment he first opens his eyes, it’s likely that the message would read, “Wow! Look what I just did!”
While shopping for groceries and passing by the card section, a Valentine’s Day card caught my eye. It was perfect for my husband so I bought it. When the cashier was scanning my groceries and saw the card he said...
“Girl of my dreams—I love you.” In one letter Ron wrote, “Feb. 14 may be the date they observe and call Valentine’s Day, but that is for people of only ordinary luck. I happen to have a Valentine’s life, which started on...
Tears filled my eyes as I watched the Presidential Inauguration of Barak Obama. I honestly didn’t think it would happen in my lifetime—that an African American would become president.
"I'll Pray for You"
Have you ever been listening to someone sharing a particular trial in her life with you and as you absorb what she is saying, you simultaneously try to think of some way you can fix it? It’s only natural to do that since you truly care...
My son called from college, relating some good news. He had done a report so well that he had received extra credit on it. He was particularly amused, because the assignment had irritated him. The subject seemed trivial...
Gaius, The Beloved
That day I arrived early to his bookstore. I had had a busy morning at home – a wife quickly getting ready so as to not be late to the daycare where she works everyday, and a teenage daughter asking: “Daddy, have you seen my...
There is one thing I actually heard Pastor Morris Venden say on my wedding day, as I stood before him with my handsome groom by my side and stars in my eyes: “The key to a successful marriage is communication. I’ve found...
With the current concerns about our country’s economy, being a college student (or even their parent) can be stressful. Paying for tuition, on top of housing, food, and bills is tough, especially when you are trying to...
A Matter of Time
Are you always running late? If so you’re in good company, according to a study by Proudfoot Consulting. They report that American CEOs are late to eight out of every 10 meetings, resulting in $90 billion in lost productivity.
God, Toddlers, and Me
A few weeks ago, at my weekly Bible study meeting, the conversation centered on how we were just living our lives, yet not experiencing anything all that special. Most of us are mothers of young children making it...
The Marriage Solution
On January 1, your whole life can be transformed. For one day at least, all your good intentions can be jump-started and all your bad habits unplugged. At least for a few hours—minutes?—the year is a perfect reflection of your...
I have a friend who will be spending her eleventh Christmas without her mom this year. And although eleven years sounds like a long time, when I spoke with Kari today I could still hear sadness in her voice. Her mom had been...
My sister-in-law has already finished her holiday shopping. I haven’t even started! It’s hard to face the mall when I know how tight our finances are this year. It’s not that I don’t want to be generous. I truly...
“Free Pre-Paid Cremation! Details inside.” These were the words on the outside of an envelope addressed to my husband, a cancer patient. While I don’t regularly open his mail, this time I made an exception. My blood...
We’d left our home in Japan 22 hours before. There’d been a six hour wait at the military terminal before the first three hour flight. Then another three hour layover before the second 10 hour flight. When we arrived in the States...
Not a Silent Night
We had done it with so much joy, yet with so much sacrifice. Penny by penny, we had put money aside, all to give our first-born daughter, Margarita, the Christmas gift she so longed for. That Christmas Eve was special...
Even during wartime, when the enemy is clearly identified, one can still find a spark of goodness…
Jackie’s parents divorced when she was about nine years old. Her mother directed much of the ill feeling she felt for her ex-husband squarely at her youngest daughter. Jackie, who inherited her father’s exotic looks, Her older sister...
Gifts and Giving
A friend of mine posted a blog recently that caught my attention. In essence, she requested that if any of her friends were interested in giving her a gift in the upcoming holiday season, she would appreciate it if...
An Old Prayer
It's been 12 years. They’d had sex outside of marriage. They’d gone their separate ways. And a child had been born. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t easy. But because they both loved this baby girl, they made the best of the situation.
“Mom! Do you want to see something really sick?” Our teenage daughter spoke with such urgency that I immediately looked up from my computer. “Look at this,” she said, handing me two brochures that had come in the mail.
The first prayer most of us prayed was the blessing, “God is great, God is good, Let us thank Him for our food,” or the classic bedtime prayer, “Now I lay me down to sleep.”
No Place Like Home
Most people with Alzheimer’s disease have a strong desire to live in their homes as long as possible. Families share this desire. Paradoxically, the home is often the best place and the worst place for Alzheimer’s care.
Beauty In Friendship
One of the hardest things about moving to a new town is finding new friends. Trying to find where you belong; a place to call your own. When my husband, son and I moved a little over a year ago, I felt blessed to be moving to...
Her Biggest Fear
She was terrified. Of her locker. Her combination locker. The one she had to open on her first day of seventh grade. It’s all I heard about for weeks before. Not the new teachers, or new students or all the homework.
On this particular day I began imagining what my husband and I might do if we suddenly came into money one of our deceased parents forgot to tell us about. It was a generic advertisement I’d read many times before but never...
God Invented Sex
My 9-year-old son was watching a sports news program with his daddy a few months ago. In the middle of all the discussion of RBIs and pass rushing, came a news story about the sexual impropriety of one of the players.
Some friends and I once talked about high teen pregnancy rates. They were concerned about it. I pointed out that teen pregnancy rates in the United States are lower today than they were in the nineteenth century.
Saving at Checkout
I was immediately intrigued when I saw the receipt. “You bought all this stuff for only that amount?” I inquired. “Yep” she replied, “And here’s best part; this isn’t an isolated incident, I get deals like this all...
The fable is told of a village in Holland where lived a baker named Fouke. This tall, thin man had an appearance that matched his reputation for rigid rectitude. He was intolerant of the faults of others to the point that...
Set the Sails
We’ve all heard the old adage “The set of the sail determines the port.” If I remember correctly, that was the motto of my high school graduating class. It was a good motto, but as I marched down the aisle to receive...
Who Does What
It's 6 p.m. and you’ve just walked in the door. The kids are hungry, and they have homework. They also need to practice music and take baths. The breakfast dishes are in the sink, and the dishwasher needs to be emptied.
Is seventeen too young to marry? Many think so today. The median age for marriage in the United States is almost a decade older – 27.5 years old for men, and 25.5 years for women. In Europe, it is 30. While seventeen has always...
The Tragic Nanny Ad
“My kids are a pain!” So began the brutally honest help wanted ad written by a mother of four from Manhattan’s Upper East Side who was recently looking for a nanny. Here are a few of the other excerpts from the listing that...
How many times have we given a gift to someone without receiving a thank you? Or maybe we've done a special favor only to wonder if we should have minded our own business. Let’s face it, it feels good to hear people say...
“I’m scared, Momma.” And so we crawled past the bag of popcorn, the special-occasion candy, the friends we had arranged weeks ago to meet... and left the theater. I had done the research. I’d gone to www.pluggedinonline.com...
Habits and Marriage
Habits are those behaviors we acquire in life, some being intentional and many unintentional. They may not seem like a big deal in the great scheme of life; but some, even small ones, can wreck havoc on our relationships.
A camera and a small sign; that’s all that he left there on the park bench. What he received when he developed the photos was an amusing lesson about humanity.
The Ordinary Paper
One Sunday morning the English etcher, William Walcot, wanted to put on paper some of the impressions he had gathered in his study of New York’s skyscrapers. Stores were closed, and he could not find paper on which to work.
His ashes are scattered there. They’re also scattered in other favorite places around the country. Famous comedian George Carlin’s ashes were taken to a number of spots around the United States by his daughter Kelly Carlin...
The parents of a five-year-old asked for my advice about an interesting problem. Mandy took things from her parents without their permission. Most of the things she took were small items that belonged to her mother such as...
Talking to Teachers
If your child is one of the projected 56 million elementary or high school students heading off to school this fall in the United States you may be wondering what you can do to make things go more smoothly.
Sticks and Stones
“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.” Sound familiar? But it isn’t true, is it? Words do hurt. In fact, a cut or scrape of the skin will heal, but wounds caused by words can last a lifetime.
The transition between summer and a new school year can be difficult for both children and parents. Even children who are eager to return to class must adjust to the greater levels of activity, structure, and even pressures...
“Daddy, have a fun time at work,” yelled my son as he waved toward a car disappearing around the corner. I smiled, knowing he was copying what I say to him before school each day. And then I realized, with amazement...
Are you as respectful to your mate as you would be to a stranger? Patterns of communication with a spouse sometimes don’t adequately reflect the caring that couples feel for each other.
When I was growing up, my younger brother and I fought all the time. We loved each other, and as adults we are close friends, but boy, did we fight. Looking back, I am sometimes surprised we both survived to be adults.
My eyes filled with tears as I read about the thousands of children between the years of 1850 and 1930 who rode the “Orphan Trains.” These trains were filled with children (mostly from Northeast cities) who needed a...
Subbing For Jesus
At the moment, I'm sitting in Mr. Cramer's science classroom. The topic of the day is hurricanes, and while I'm no meteorologist, it is my job to do my best with the subject and to encourage those who are looking to me for...
Boys and Pornography
We recently found pornographic material under our 16-year-old son’s bed. Last year he battled depression, bad grades, and drug use, but this year he’s made a big turn around. He’s upbeat, has a job, is making good grades,
Going to Granny's
The sun is coming up. My brothers, sister and I are asleep on the living room floor, but sounds from the kitchen wake us. A fresh egg hits the skillet and it sizzles. The aroma of homemade biscuits makes its way to our noses.
Restorative justice is a very old concept. The Old Testament “cities of refuge” provided for it, and Jesus modeled it. Perhaps it was His redefinition of criminal justice in that culture that provided the final straw...
Be an Angel
She always had a smile on her face. She lived in a small apartment at her sister’s house. She had lived there for over three decades. No one would have imagined that big house without that small apartment.
Parenting Harder Now?
In this modern world we live in, It is harder than ever to be a parent. Everyone says that. But is it true? Is it harder to be a parent today than it was two thousand years ago? Back then, kings could, and did, order every...
Of Hope and Healing
Pregnancy is a time of excitement, high hopes and high expectations. Yet it can be filled with stress of the unknowns. When my husband and I found out we were pregnant with our second, we were extremely excited.
When people spend their lives trying to transform or fix their spouses and kids, the natural result is exhaustion, depression and the hopeless sense of wanting to bail out of it all. In the book, Families Where Grace Is in Place...
Oh, Say Can You See?
As Independence Day approaches, I'm reminded of July 4 of last year. Mark and I saw a beautiful display of fireworks, and the evening was perfect. There was no wind, the crickets were tuned up nicely, barefoot kids were...
Have you ever had a special person in your life that you were so close to you considered them family? I have been blessed in this way. As long as I can remember, there has been a special lady in my life that I thought of and...
Unplug for Summer
School’s out for the summer! Our kids have worked long and hard and deserve a few months of rest and play. But for some kids, summer is a time of boredom while their parents are away at work or busy around the house.
Hidden behind all the clothes I actually wear, is a beautiful white dress. My mother and I went to a special fabric store in Seattle to pick out material for this perfect garment. A family friend stitched it together...
Just the Same
I recently attended my 20-year high school alumni weekend. It was great. We spent the whole time repeating again and again and again that we all looked “just the same.” I think we hoped it would become true through repetition.
Bless Me, Father
I adored my father. Being the only girl among three brothers, I felt like a little princess to a certain extent. My father was refined, yet quick to smile. Every time he spoke to me, his big, dark eyes seemed to...
Dads get little respect today. The foolish father is a stock element in sitcoms. Government treats fathers as the disposable element in families, even as dangerous. Male buddies, especially the unmarried ones, razz you. You...
Mentor a Teenager
On June 15, 1965, our 16-hour flight from Santiago, Chile ended. After making stops in three different countries, we landed in Miami and waited for several hours for our connecting flight to our final destination, New York City.
Thinking about marriage? I have been married over 30 years. It took me nearly ten of that to figure out what marriage was really about. The true meaning of marriage is found in scripture and in tradition. In his letter to...
We Americans are grateful to the men and women who have bravely served our country. Yet too often we view Memorial Day as just a three-day weekend--the beginning of summer--the day fashion designers declare it’s okay to...
Years of Pears
It is early spring and there are pears in the grocery flyer this week. Though it is hardly the season for local pears, somewhere pears are getting ripe and after a long journey they are appearing in our northern grocery store.
Remember Loved Ones
Spring is usually thought of as the season for celebrating new life. We see green grass springing up, tiny leaves unfolding and flower buds pushing from the earth. Birds begin to sing and baby bunnies abound. But for hearts...
If you are a police officer who was working where I lived during the late 1990’s, please cease and desist immediately from reading this article. Or if you are an impressionable youth who would get ideas from this...
Lessons From Mom
I could now write a book titled, “Lessons Mom Taught Me.” I couldn’t have written it when I was a child, or even a teenager. But now that I’m a mom, I realize that my mom’s example taught me all along, that I stored lessons in...
Scientists are continually gaining new insights into the remarkable changes in teenager’s brains that may help to explain why the teen years are so hard on young people and on their parents. From ages 11-14 a young person...
Power and Siblings
I was the boss. I was bigger and louder than my little brother. He was lucky to get a word in edgewise and didn’t get many chances to pick what game we’d play or the role he’d have in our make-believe stories.
Learning to Share
The Reuters news service reported recently that Branko Zivkov, a 76-year old farmer in Belgrade, purchased a grinder and cut all of his tools in half after a court ruling ordered him to split all his property with his...
A Lesson in Checkers
“Dad, will you play checkers with me?” It was a request that took me totally off guard considering all that I had to do.
The Fun of Being You
In high school I won many art contests. After graduation, I was contacted as a candidate for a mechanical drawing job, preparing important blue prints for a national company. Though my mathematical skills were poor, I took...
Mothers and Daughters
I’ve known women (some childless, some not) who’ve sat together at various social functions and expounded on the virtues of having daughters over sons and vice versa.
Ten years later, they are miserable. I’ve recently had two conversations with women who feel this way about their marriages and their lives. As you can imagine, there are many painful issues in each relationship, unhappiness...
I Can't Do It!
If I had a nickel for every time I heard the phrase “I can’t do it” last weekend, I could buy a new car—or at least go out for a nice dinner! I had just spent four days baby-sitting 4-1/2-year-old Johnny* while his parents...
The Bible defines stewardship as the act of serving God by carrying out a kind of household administration—the dispensing of God's riches to His family, meaning all those who have become His children through faith in the...
Life's Happiest Day
As I sat down besides my new sister-in-law I could tell she was stressed. It was her wedding day and things were not going well. The disk jockey, hired to provide music, had arrived tipsy, and was insulting the guests. Her...
We all long for a healthy baby. Most pregnancies proceed without many complications. Even when complications do occur, Western medical science provides women with treatment for nearly every complication related to...
The world of financial investing generally baffles me. I’ve never personally bought or sold stocks, and I couldn’t differentiate a mutual fund from an annuity or a stock from a bond. While my husband and I do contribute...
A Handful of Weeds
This morning as I headed out with my girls to walk down the mountain to school, the fog was thick and the air was crisp. I look forward to these early morning treks in the quiet before the world around me has fully roused to meet the day.
This is a quiz for those with children. Your child’s doctor tells you your child had a serious health problem. It is potentially fatal without expensive treatment. Would you:
The other day I was listening to a radio program describing the varieties of depression. As the mental health professional rattled off the types and descriptions, I considered people I have known or worked...
Leaving a Legacy
As Alissa and Barry enjoyed drinks and dinner at Dr. Salamis Café in Pella, Iowa last month, a middle aged gentleman approached their table and struck up a conversation.Claiming he had just stopped to gas up on...
I recently read of a college that wants to make its students aware of whether they had a “privileged” upbringing. The most curious part of the exercise was some of the items indicating the presence of a silver spoon...
Home Sweet Home
The moving truck is gone and everything is unloaded at your new home. You have made it through the most stressful part of your move, right? Not necessarily!
Teams Children Need
I grew up watching, playing, eating and living futbol, known in this country as soccer. Soccer is a simple sport without many rules. There are 10 players and a goal keeper, two periods of 45 minutes each and almost...
Family and Friends
Everyone knows what a blessing good family is. But it’s an even greater blessing when your family members are also your friends. Our family recently became aware of this at our daughter’s wedding.
Did you know that most marriage proposals happen between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day? So with the month of February here, many dating couples will consider making their relationships permanent.
Amidst the burgeoning fallout from the nation’s mortgage crisis, a new victim has recently emerged. Added to the increasing number of home owners driven into the streets, their credit in shambles as banks foreclose on their...
And a Time to Refrain
Both of my grandfathers immigrated to the United States from Greece. They arrived here while both were in their mid-teens. By the time they were 25, one was about to become an education professional, having earned a...
Winter Boredom Buster
Ever wonder what to do with your children or grandchildren on these long winter days? When our daughter was young, we spent two years in a very small town that had little to offer young families. So we had to get creative.
Jesus offers some powerful advice for giving in Matthew 6, warning His listeners against giving in a showy, self-glorifying manner. Instead, Jesus makes this recommendation in verses 3 and 4: “But when you give to...
Children need encouragement, and most parents understand that. Maybe that's why we hear the words, “Good job!” so often. While intended to raise the self-confidence of the child, have you thought that maybe instead it encourages...
The Wages of Envy
The Bible often warns against covetousness and its close relative, envy. We are commanded to avoid them, less because of the damage we do to others through them (although it can be substantial), than because of the...
I understand that it’s not fair. He’s been the center of our universe. He’s had uninterrupted time with us for two years. His needs have been met and his cries soothed promptly. And now it’s all different.
The Chore Challenge
Household chores. Bring up the subject, and you’re almost sure to see children running in every direction. Chores are not a favorite, but they have to be done in order to keep the home running smoothly.
Eating leftovers, reclaiming your house. The usual chores that follow the holidays also accompany moments of reflection regarding the past few weeks. A smile surfaces while remembering the jokes shared.
Wanting Too Much
Someone has diagnosed the disease of modern Americans as affluence, either having too much or wanting too much. It seems that most want to live like the Johnsons next door (unless you are a Johnson) or they cannot possibly be happy.
Jesus is More
The story of Christmas has always elicited hope in me. My family raised my brother and I without faith or religion, but I knew around Christmas time there was something different. My parents, along with many people who did not
Life is always a little crazier during the holidays. But this year just seems to have been worse. For the last several weeks I’ve found myself repeating the same conversation with friends, parents and my husband.
The other day, I put up our Christmas tree while my two-year-old son was napping. When he woke up and I brought him out to the living room, his eyes were full of curiosity, awe and sparkle. He ran over to the tree and...
Memories of Christmas
Growing up in Columbia, South America, our Christmas traditions were especially memorable. On Christmas Eve families gathered for songs, the retelling of the Christmas story, a good meal and colorful fireworks.
An Issue of Trust
Trust isn’t what it used to be. Employers require background checks, stores and street corners are peppered with security cameras, passwords and secret codes protect many aspects of professional and personal life.
Play At It
My friend Charlie Croteau was a tall, blond 20-year-old at the university when his life went into reverse. The fateful moment came when he was in a gymnastic class trying to master a backward somersault on the trampoline.
Suppose you knew four secrets that would help avoid poverty. Would you want your children to know them? Four simple rules, which if followed, would keep the wolf from the door in most cases.
Today marks the sixth anniversary of moving into our duplex. We originally planned on living here for only a few months. We’d been renting a spacious, remodeled house with a beautiful view of the Blue Mountains.
“I will never go through another move like this one!” I said. Over the years we have moved several times so you would think that we had the process perfected, but alas, such was not the case.
The Warmth of God
I believe, because I read the newspaper, that Thanksgiving Day is celebrated in places like Orlando and San Gabriel, though I’ll confess that it’s sometimes hard to see why.
Losing a Family Pet
My brother-in-law and his wife came home the other night expecting to be greeted by Toby, their adorable Chihuahua. Purchased as a puppy, he’s been a part of their family for years.
Life After Birth
When at eighteen weeks of pregnancy, I saw my son on a black and white screen in a darkened room, I was in a state of complete amazement. I saw his hands, his feet, and his beautiful beating heart.
A Comforter in Shoes
I discovered him a bit apart from the rest of the picnickers. His head was bent over his dimpled hands, which were covered with at least a half dozen butterflies clinging to his fingers. Eagerly we rejoined the rest...
Kids, Parents, Time
My kids drive me crazy. They’re not bad kids, they’re just, well, relentless. They desire nothing more than to spend their days basking in my presence and attention. I receive no breaks. (Okay, that’s not entirely true, but...
A man and his wife were having an argument about who should brew the coffee each morning. The wife said, "You should do it, because you get up first, and then we don't have to wait as long to get our coffee." The husband...
My brother, who lived in another state, came to visit me one summer day. We had not talked to each other in years, ever since Mom died. We disagreed about who should get the house, the dog, and almost everything.
Seeing as God Sees
It was late afternoon and my husband had just returned to his desk after attending a company-wide meeting. Rumors that had been circulating for months had finally been confirmed. Layoffs were imminent.
Back to School
I came home to an empty house this morning. It’s our daughter’s first day back to school. On this day every year I have mixed feelings. Although I’m always excited for her, there’s still that feeling of nostalgia that...
Do You Take Pets?
My middle son will be attending a four-year college this fall. He studied in local community colleges, before being accepted at one of the state’s best engineering schools. His acceptance came late in the spring.
When my husband told me he had found a wonderful teaching position in a beautiful part of Oregon, I was overwhelmed with joy.
The Stretchy Dollar
Does it sometimes seem like the money is vanishing into thin air? Saving money isn’t easy, but there are ways to cut corners without cramping your style. Here are five simple tips that can save you hundreds (if not...
I reread "Captains Courageous" last week. I have read it before, first (and often) when I was in my teens, and once when I was in my early 30s. It is one of Rudyard Kipling’s finest novels, a tale about a spoiled rich kid stranded...
Wash That Man Out
A 1949 musical, “South Pacific,” has a signature song that I loved singing when I was a teen, “I’m Gonna Wash that Man Right Outta My Hair.” I was a typical boy-crazy teen and those words were exactly what I needed from time...
Battered to Blessed
It was 3:00 a.m. when I was jerked out of bed. Insanely furious, my inebriated husband threw our infant daughter into the crib. As I raced to see if Becky was OK, I felt my head being pulled backward by my hair, and I was...
Broken and Saved
When I was fourteen years old, my friend's family went through a rather messy divorce. Their family life had never looked perfect because he was a police officer working the night rounds, but when one saw my friend's...
Proof in the Fastball
As the snow would retreat to smaller and smaller patches in our yard every spring, there would be a feeling in the tips of my fingers that that would start crawling up my arm. It was a feeling that demanded action.
I Made the Bully Cry
As I climbed onto the school bus, I quickly scanned the seats to see if Daniel was on board. I prayed he’d have track practice or something else that would keep him from riding.
Hound Dogs in a Hurry
When I lived in Tacoma, Washington, an unlikely local hero emerged by the name of Tattoo. Now this basset hound never intended to go for an evening run, but had no choice when the owner clamped his leash in the car door and took off...
Making a Difference
When Ariel Kravitz first started working with animals and the handicapped in 1999, she was not sure of the value of her work. “At first, it seems like I was doing unimportant things,” she said.
Standing in Grace
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand” (Romans 5:1). This particular Bible...
Where HOPE Happens
I stood just inside the clinic and watched them come—an endless line of stern-faced Dalits filing toward Hope—each with pains that were magnified by their proximity to the registration table.
It happens every Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Veterans Day. We stop to honor the people who have served so bravely in our armed services. There’s usually not a dry eye in the place as we applaud their service.
Your Teen's Scene
With all the hormones racing through their bodies and the new ideas bubbling in their brains, teens can go from sullen to sociable, from contented to cantankerous…all in a relatively short period of time.
The Father Factor
It’s healthy when dads are involved in parenting. Here are the facts: kids with dads have healthier social relationships and higher achievement motivation and therefore do better in school.
Young and Stupid
You’ve been busted—by your teenage children. When you were their age you did something foolish, something you are not proud of, something you warn them against doing. It may have been driving recklessly, experimenting with...
Just Be Nice!
It’s amazing the life lessons a parent can learn from his/her children. One lasting lesson that I learned was from my son when he was very young. I had become upset about something and ended up yelling at him.
We met because we were dating the same guy. Well, not at the same time. In fact, over the eight years of high school and college we sort of traded him back and forth a couple of times.
Secrets of Parenting
Being a good parent is simple, but, not easy. The principles are straightforward, really just common sense. Sticking to them is hard work. The results are worth it.
Patience in Parenting
I never properly appreciated God’s incredible patience until I joined the ranks of parenthood a few years ago. Now, knee-deep in diapers and the “terrible two’s” (a condition that lingers well past the child’s third...
New Mom Tips
If you are a new mom, here are some coping tricks to make your life a little easier.
Losing Your Baggage
After Pam suffered the loss of her mother, she spent a few days helping her sister sort through the house and their mom’s personal items. When Pam flew home, I picked her up at the airport. She was crying.
You Please Me Well
The fullness of time had come and the stage was set for Daniel’s prophecy to be fulfilled. Messiah, the anointed One, arrived on the scene (Daniel 9:25). John the Baptist saw the Lamb of God in the distance.
Mentoring is a structured and trusting relationship that brings young people together with caring individuals who offer guidance, support and encouragement aimed at developing the competence and character of the mentee.
To Love and Cherish
A story from the Jewish Talmud pays a fine compliment to women: An emperor said to Rabbi Gamaliel, “Your God is a thief, because it is written, ‘The Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept; and He took one...
Mothers of Israel
I clearly remember a time when I was confiding in an older female friend about the responsibilities and difficulties of parenting and also of teaching children in church.
My Child is a Bully
My eight-year-old son is a poor sport. He’s been asked to leave several sports programs because of rudeness to other players and disrespect to adults, but he doesn’t seem to care.
When the home and school are in partnership, children learn best—no matter what schools they attend. Here are some ideas to consider as you continue to invest in your child’s education:
Part of a Sandwich
The sandwich generation is upon us. This generation is the one sandwiched between their aging parents and raising their children. I’ve read about this and even written about it as a newspaper reporter, but I didn’t think...
Mentoring, or sustained friendships between youth and adults, is a rich opportunity to provide support, advice and constructive examples for young people. For Christians, it’s an opportunity to share God’s love and freedom.
Deamonte Driver, a twelve-year-old Maryland boy, died needlessly on February 25. The infection from an untreated abscessed tooth had spread to his brain. A visit to any dentist’s office would have easily solved the problem.
Nuts About Hazel
I sat in the rain on an overturned bucket wishing I could forget the past week. With tears trickling down my cheeks I remembered my friend. I remembered how she talked with a Southern accent that turned any two syllables into three.
Afghan with a Story
A few weeks ago I was trying to “take good care of myself” and truly rest on the Sabbath. When I decided to lie on the sofa to read and rest in the living room, I first went into our bedroom, reached up into the wardrobe...
The phone rang the other night. It was a friend in our neighborhood, wondering if we had the phone number of the family next door. I knew that the woman next door was really sick with a heart condition that she had just...
Two Things Kids Crave
Give your child the right kind of attention and power, and watch behavioral problems go away.
The Power of Gossip
You have a choice. Sail with William Bligh or Fletcher Christian. The historical Bligh or Christian. Your life depends upon it. Decide now.
Like most middle-age Americans, I grew up with a television in the home. First, there was the portable black and white that sat on a stand in the living room. That sufficed for quite a while.
My New Career
Playgroups have become my new stage in life. It is encouraging to create a community consumed by conversations including children's' eating and sleeping habits.
I learned how much I trust my son over the weekend. I had him upgrade my computer. My old computer was dying. It would run for an hour or two and then lock. It was the computer I write with, so it was a tool, not a toy.
Man on Fire
The summer after my freshmen year in college, I had a singular focus that I think may be particular to nervous young men who have been in the situation that I was in. After meeting a dream of a woman winter quarter...
This morning I was called in by the public school to help read standardized tests for the special education department. I was assigned to a young man named Travis.
Your Child Is Bullied
Several boys have been bullying our ten-year-old son, both physically and verbally, since the beginning of this school year. When he went to the counselor’s office in tears to report the problem, she told him that tears...
Stopping the Cycle
Recent disturbing news events have illustrated the dark cycle of sexual abuse. Most recently, U.S. Congressman Mark Foley resigned from his post after sexually explicit contacts with young congressional pages came to light.
When I was a young girl, my family lived on the campus of a boarding high school, where my father taught religion. The elementary school and church I attended was on campus, so basically that was where I spent most of my time.
My wife and I will be married 30 years this May. That is not all that long, though. My parents are still going strong after 55 years. My in-laws reached 52 years before the death of my mother-in-law closed that partnership.
Q: During a recent talk show appearance, a psychologist said that runaway hormone levels often cause the rational part of the teenage brain to shut down, resulting in all manner of exaggerated emotional displays.
Hell on the Homefront
“These are the ones who really suffer.” Tears welled up in the eyes of the khaki-clad soldier as he introduced me to his wife and two sons.
Talk vs. Action
When I was a kid, my parents rarely asked me to explain myself when I misbehaved—and it didn’t matter whether the misbehavior occurred at home, at school, or in the neighborhood.
My husband and I recently received the news that his new teaching job had fallen through. We tried to digest this devastating news, but remained in a state of confusion and panic for several weeks.
“Pastor Mike” and a zip code scrawled out on a business sized envelope; that was all there was. A few months ago I pulled this correspondence out of my post box and was surprised when I noticed what a small amount of...
A Brand New Life
Stranded in the desert! And to make matters worse, night fall was fast approaching. Shivering, I forlornly circled my vehicle. Dressed only in shorts and a T shirt, my attire would have been perfect for summer.
My one-year-old son is a bubbly, good-natured and very active little guy. He loves to explore all of his surroundings. Just recently, some friends invited us over for lunch.
Play a thought experiment. Imagine that a plague hits the United States this year. Like a Biblical plague it affects only a chosen few, and none of those that catch it escapes death.
It's Always Something
One thing that’s plagued me for years is the confusion over what I want written on my tombstone; something more profound than “See, I told you I was sick.”
I was enjoying the winter evening curled up on the couch under a throw blanket. The twinkle of the Christmas tree lights and the winter wonderland outside brought peace to my soul. <br /> <br />
Our Christmas Visit
Our walk took us through, then out of, our neighborhood. Soon we were strolling past store windows twinkling with lights, catching strains of carols from occasional passing cars.
A Senior Servant
Is it possible to live alone, yet not have a constant overwhelming sense of loneliness? I think so. In the first church I pastored, the average member was 83 years old.
Q: My fifth-grade daughter tests well and does well in class but will not do her homework unless I stand over her and make her. That, however, results in horrible scenes nearly every evening.
Best Christmas Ever
I sighed as I began setting the table for six friends and myself. Six friends who didn’t know one another, who were all facing physical or emotional challenges, were all going to be having Christmas dinner with me. <br />
Christmas All Year
A Christmas story in January? Well…yes. And here’s why: Since I was little, I’ve heard people say, “I wish Christmas could last all year long.” But what do they mean?
I just got an email from my son’s office with his name and title at the end. My heart swells with pride. Knowing that he has a good place to use his abilities and that he has married a smart, kind woman, puts my heart at peace.
Christians and Debt
Dave and Melissa* have the perfect life: a beautiful house, two new cars, and children who are always dressed in the latest fashions. But appearances can be deceiving.
"We should live simply so others can simply live.” Although I’ve forgotten the author, the words of this quote have stuck in my mind for several years, perhaps, because they say so much about our responsibility.
Source of Contentment
In his book, "Winning with People", John Maxwell, leadership “guru” tells of the time he was hired to teach a class to the coaches and players of the St. Louis Rams.
For Christmas 2004, Richard and Donna Hamann found a way to make their entire town happy. Anthon, Iowa, a community of 650 people, received an unexpected present from this retired farming couple.
In 2002, I was out of a job. My employer closed shop in September 2001, and immediately after 9/11 no one else was hiring. By the time businesses were again hiring, I had been unemployed six months.
The Happy Christmas
Perhaps you remember the following “true” Christmas story that happened a couple of years ago. A Washington state mother found the gift of her dreams – almost six feet tall and wrapped in a desert camouflage uniform.
Letter to Santa
Just before Christmas, I was walking thru my daughter’s school hallways looking at the displays of artwork and various class work, when I came across a display of letters to Santa.
When Friends Divorce
The insistent ringing of the phone stirred me into wakefulness. Reaching for the receiver, I mumbled a faint “hello?”
Anatomy of an Apology
An apology is often the beginning of a process toward healing and forgiveness. It is not always a long process, since the situation may be remedied by the apology.
Hanging on the wall next to our computer is a picture of me wearing long white dress. I’m smiling, standing next to a handsome young man in a tuxedo.
Thankful for Families
In my childhood, Thanksgiving was something to celebrate every day, not just once a year. While I didn’t grow up with lots of worldly goods, I did enjoy the warm embrace of a loving mother and the example of a good, responsible father.
In recent years Oprah Winfrey has given her studio audiences new cars, paid off their debts and provided gifts that many had only dreamed of. Recently she decided to distribute gifts that keep “giving back."
TV Servant or Master?
Radiation: Hazardous Waste Material! This phrase aptly describes most television fare. And what are the problems with television?
Owning "My Stuff"
Some people will do anything to avoid taking responsibility. Take the Toronto man who recently hired someone to kill his ex-wife so he wouldn't have to pay child and spousal support.
The year 1986 contained tremendous financial challenges for our family. It was our son’s first year of college with all its heavy financial demands.
When I'm With You
As part of an assignment for a doctoral dissertation, a university student spent a year with a group of Navajos on a reservation in the American Southwest.
Pam's mom had just been in a car accident. She said she never saw the car ahead of her as she was merging into traffic on the highway. No one was hurt, but Mom was upset.
“Mommy, that’s my teacher.” “No she’s not! She’s my teacher!” “She’s mine!” “She’s mine!” “No, she’s mine!” Three-year-old Tamara and her four-year-old sister, Jennifer, were arguing over to whom I “belonged.
Single Popcorn Piece
“I’m the boy who shared his food!” my two-year-old daughter announced. She had her arms wrapped around a glass jar filled with plastic play food.
Family Meals Together
I remember coming home after school to the delicious aromas emanating from the kitchen. Immediately my mouth would water as my mind made visual that which my nose smelled.
What’s a parent to do when her teenage daughter is stricken by a medical condition that is usually fatal?
Q: Is it possible to discipline a child below the age of two, and if so, how? A: If by discipline you mean teaching and enforcing proper behavior, the answer is No.
To help your child learn the “9” times tables, here are some techniques. The fingers know!
I planted a meadow two weeks ago. It’s in my backyard. I hadn’t wanted to spend the money for an all-out sprinkler system, so I bought a can of seed that promised me a meadow.
A Cheerful Giver
When our oldest child was a toddler, we lived in a small house on a very crowded street. Since I had grown up on a farm, I was very anxious to get out of town and find a place in the country to raise our family.
Prayers of a Mother
I want to encourage you today as a mother. There are times when we as moms feel discouragement, worry, fear, or heartache.
My Father is...
It’s said that God couldn’t be everywhere, so He created mothers. But, I think He created fathers to show us His character.
Find your child wherever he is in the house. Tell him you have something to say. Get to the child’s eye level, look him in the eye and say, “I love you!”
A friend of mine happened to be looking in on her fourth-grade son’s class one day when he talked back to his teacher. She confined him to their house for a week and made him write a one-page, single-spaced letter of apology.
Tie That Binds
Several years ago, we took an overnight flight from Chicago to Hong Kong. Shortly after we took to the air, the flight attendants put the movie The Story of Us on the screen. The story line was about Ben and Katie and their marriage.
My brother and I caused my mother a lot of grief while we were growing up. Our parents loved us, but when our mother became upset, she would lose her temper and yell at us in a high-pitched voice.
A Beautiful Woman
All women are created beautiful—but tragically some women never come to a realization of their own loveliness. Popular culture venerates its peculiar brand of beauty. Being one of the “beautiful people” is a ticket to fame...
Single Parent Options
If you’re a single parent with a tight financial situation, spending time with your child can be a legitimate challenge.
Shyness is un-American! Researchers suggest only 15-20% of infants are “shy,” and nearly 50% of us are shy in adulthood.
I wearily coaxed my body out of bed with the promise of an action-filled day ahead. As a mother of three young children, my days started running into each other and I was feeling a bit overwhelmed.
Roots and Wings
“What’s gray, has a bushy tail, has four little feet, climbs trees, and eats nuts?” Mrs. Simpson asked her class.
When Emmerson Eggerich talks about the “crazy cycle” he isn’t referring to the frantic round-and-round scramble of our daily lives. He’s calling attention to the disconcerting periods...
She could have said something. She could have said a number of things. In fact, she could have gotten really upset and yelled, and I wouldn’t have blamed her one bit.
Listening to Women
My daughters wanted the door between the chicken pen and the duck yard fixed. I meant to get around to it. I intended to ask my son to work on it. I thought fixing it was probably a good idea.
Kid Community Service
If you have ever wondered how to grow a child who is more sociable, campassionate, and environmentally aware, it may be time to consider getting them involved in community service in the area where you reside.
I watched her sheepishly approach with large blue wanting eyes. You see, my 13-year-old daughter discovered that I had a tasty treat that she desired…
“Mommy, Mommy! Joel hit me!” cries Celeste. You think you have everyone quieted down when Joel screams, “Get Celeste out of here!
Not Right Now
During an annual Chaplain’s conference, one of my fellow ministers shared the heart wrenching story of the illness and death of her seven-year old son.
All babies cry, and for good reason! Before they learn to talk, crying is one way to express their needs and send out signals of distress.
Seek First . . .
The flight attendant held up the oxygen mask, pantomimed placing it over her mouth and nose, tugged the strap that would tighten it around her head and moved on to explaining the seat cushion floatation device.
Preferred Learning Style
How you learn affects not only how you teach or parent, but how your students or children learn.
Being Left Behind
As a Hospice Chaplain, I am often called in the middle of the night to comfort a grieving family who has just lost a loved one. On one such occasion the following incident took place.
When Parents Travel
Help your child adapt to your absence on a trip by developing some rituals around your departure and return.
Thank You Notes
Do your kids say "no thanks" to writing thank you notes? Here are some ideas that can make it fun and creative.
For All Seasons
I knew that eventually I’d have to experience all the seasons, but in reality I’d lived most of my life in summer.
Redeeming the Years
As I send another baby gift to one of my children’s friends, I am amazed that we are now entering this phase of life. I am not yet a member of some of my generation’s elite club known as Grandparents.
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