Monday, June 30, 2008

Just Say No

Hey Everybody,

My daughter returned home from babysitting for some friends last night with this report: "Emily likes saying, 'No.' She likes it a lot!"

Little ones are great at saying No. So what happens to us big girls--us moms--that we seem to forget how?

Sometimes we say yes with good reason. Someone asks us to do something that we feel led to do, or that we know won't be too difficult, so sure, why not? But then it snowballs, and suddenly, we feel like we are standing at the end of the buffet line with a full plate and wondering, "How will I ever take care of all this?"


How does a mom get her priorities in order? I think it starts with a vision for what you want for your children. In my book, Baby Boot Camp, I shared my vision for my kids. I came before the Lord when they were little bitty and asked Him to show me what my vision for my children should be. Here it is, in part:

"My vision for my children is that they become mature Christians: leading godly lives, holding the Bible as the standard by which all else is measured, capable of offering wise counsel to others, and totally accountable to God for their whole conduct and every thought..."

Whenever I was asked to do something, I went back to my vision to see how it matched up. Try writing your own vision for what you want to accomplish as a mom, and then when you are asked to take on something new, whether in ministry, at work, or in your community, ask yourself:

Will this take time away from what I am trying to do as a mom?
Will this add to the benefits I want for my family?
Are my children at ages where this is do-able, or is this something I need to put off for a few years?
Is my energy best spent in this capacity?
Can someone else do this better? Am I being asked because I am the right person for the job or because I am a warm body for the job?
Is God calling me to this?
Is this really going to be all that difficult and time-consuming?
Am I bringing a spirit of dread to this endeavor if I say "yes"?
What is my motivation if I say "yes"? If I say "no"?

Sometimes, the choice is not necessarily between what is good and what is bad, but what is good and what is best.

Think about it.

If people can't see what God is doing, they stumble all over
themselves; But when they attend to what He reveals, they are most blessed.
(Proverbs 29:18, The Message)


Friday, June 27, 2008

Oh No...It's Swimsuit Season!

Yes, summertime is in full swing and there's one thing that strikes terror in the new mom...the thought of putting on a bathing suit, in public! Talk about a prayer request - ha ha! So moms, here are 3 tips to make the most of swimsuit season:

1. Choose a bathing suit that is most flattering to your figure. This may be your maternity swimsuit. Use a cover up when you're not in the pool. A sarong wrap that ties around your waist and covers up that post-baby belly works great.

2. Don't focus on the way your body looks. Focus on having fun with your friends and family! Remember that almost every woman in the pool or on the beach feels conscious about her body too!

3. Set a goal for yourself to get back into your pre-baby bathing suit. Why not use that pesky bathing suit as incentive? It may take several months, but make it your goal to put your old bathing suit on next season. Here's a video tip I made about this and you can see me in my old bathing suit (after some hard work of course!).

So are you ready moms? Put on that bathing suit, smile, and let the good times roll! If you're not happy with the way your body looks, use it as motivation to lose weight! Bathing suits aren't nearly as serious as what Joseph endured in the Bible, but remember what he said? "What you meant for evil, God meant for good!" (Gen. 50:20). Bathing suits may seem evil at the moment, but God can use them for good - to motivate to shed pounds and get healthier this summer!

So here's your chance to do you feel about getting into that bathing suit?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Summertime blues

Oh yes, you read correctly.  I've got the summertime blues. I've got a few friends who would  confess to having the same problem, the  rest would never admit it!  I have three kiddos and now we're finally all together for this wonderful season of summer.  So why are they driving me insane??!!  I think it takes awhile to adjust to not having much on the schedule.  No lessons, no school, not much in the way of sports--we have a lot of down time right now.  It isn't helping that we just moved seven days ago to a new town.  We have no one to play at the park with or go swimming with.  My daughter could really use an invitation to something, anything.  And I'm not the most creative mom, I must confess.  I think kids should be happy playing with their toys and going to the park here and there.  I enjoy trying all the new fun places.  But my kids would prefer that every day was like a trip to Disneyland.  We need to have a bunch planned or my kids fuss and fight.  Why on earth is that?  What monsters  have I created along the way?  Truth is we're all homesick, we miss our Minnesota routine and friends.  Sure, they'd be bored there too, but we'd have friends to take away some of those natural blues.  Now it all just seems worse.  Between the two-year-old wanting to play with our neighbors (who aren't our neighbors any more), the six-year-old missing buddies and soccer, and the nine-year old missing everything and everyone in the world...we're a pretty sad lot.  But one day at a time we will meet people, we already have.  We have a play date set for next Monday!  Praise God for the little things.  Right now that play date seems like a huge thing.  We've also been invited to lunch next Sunday after church.  I think God knows how to handle our summertime blues as well as our moving blues.  I've got to trust him fully and teach my kids to do the same.  Some days I feel like I just want to go "home" but I know we're in the right place and God will provide.  And before I know it my big kids will be back in school and I will miss them all over again.  

Psalm 31:7
I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.  

Making the most of summer,

Monday, June 23, 2008


Hey Everybody,

I've just returned from a wonderful weekend in Concord, NC, at the Proverbs 31 Ministries' She Speaks! Conference. My daughter Danya and I were blessed be a part of the Next Generation track for teen girls at the conference. I spoke and Danya led worship for 37 of the most beautiful young ladies--girls who definitely bring hope to their generation!

I also got to speak personally to many of the women attending the conference, and one young mom in particular told me that she felt to overwhelmed by her duties as a wife and mother, and yet she feels the cry of her heart is to minister to other women. What to do? I think she is in a season of "biding her time."

The enemy, Satan, will do everything he can to distract us moms from our top priorities:
1. Relationship with our Lord
2. Relationship with our husbands
3. Relationship with our kids

Don't walk over one mission field in your haste to get to the next. Your season will come, and you will see that God has a plan for everything He wants you to do. You'll get to do it all, just not all at the same time! Keep those priorities in order, and keep your focus on Christ!


Friday, June 20, 2008

The Delights of Tea

Tomorrow I will be speaking at a Women's Summer Tea at our church. The flyer for the tea says in a very pretty font:
Flavorful teas, seasonal fruit, finger sandwiches, and delightful sweets will be served.
Believe it or not, there's actually something to be learned about losing weight from a tea menu:
  1. Tea is a great drink when you're trying to lose weight, especially green tea. Keep in mind I'm not referring to sweet iced tea with a ton of sugar!
  2. Seasonal fruit is a wonderful way to satisfy your sweet tooth while eating nutritiously. Watermelon is a great example of a summer power food that's super healthy.
  3. Finger sandwiches are small. If you eat small portions (instead of super sizing everything), you will lose weight.
  4. Delightful sweets...well, these won't help you lose weight but they will bring a smile to your face. Just remember to eat in moderation. Don't have dessert everyday.

When you're at a tea, the servings are small. You're kind of forced to eat slowly because if you scarf down your sandwich in one bite, you won't have anything else to eat! This is a great secret for losing baby weight: when you eat things you enjoy, eat very slowly and savor each bite!

Oh taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
Psalm 34:8


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Old friends are best

I read a quote today on a teddy bear perpetual calendar that I have, "Old friends are best."  John Selden said that.  I have no idea who that is but he deserves the credit for saying this!  We are in the beginning stages of transition in our family.  By the time this post shows up, we will be in Indianapolis.  I'm very sad today as I write this.  No matter how hard I try I can't keep my tears in my head.  My kids see me for what I am, sad.  I keep telling them that we will make new friends, great friends, all kinds of friends.  But today I feel full of it when I say that; I want these friends. I've moved a lot in my day and have experienced these feelings A BUNCH.  I know all too well how it goes.  Some people will remember us, some will miss us, only a rare few will keep in touch with us.  Minnesota is not a place we will visit very often, maybe once a year.  Eventually everyone will move on and they will outgrow us.  That's just how it works.  But I want my kids to learn that friendship is special.   Friends like we have in MN don't come around every day.  This is a tough culture to be a part of and it's been difficult to make and cultivate true, worthwhile friendships.  Now that we have them, they are to be treasured.  As tears are falling down my cheeks, I pray the value of  good friends is something my kids are understanding at a deeper level.

I am optimistic and excited about our new adventure.  I am also devastated by the end of this chapter in my life.  Please pray for our family as we grieve for a while, most likely for a good, long while.  I know God will provide new friends but today, "Old friends are best." 

For all my friends:

I thank my God every time I remember you.
Philippians 1:3



Monday, June 16, 2008


Hey Everybody,

I hope that everyone had a GREAT Father's Day, celebrating with with your dad, with your spouse, or with your memories!

But I was wondering: Does your husband know how special he is EVERY DAY? Because he really should know! When my kids were little, we always made a big deal out of Daddy's arriving home. (Now that one is driving, we make a big deal out of her arriving home!) In the summer, the kids would have parades. Nothing is quite so cute as seeing toddlers with pots and pans banging a "Welcome Home!" for Daddy in the front yard. They would also work on pictures of what they had done that day to set beside Daddy's plate. Sometimes (and I admit, we still do this), someone will cry out the infamous words, "Daddy's home! Pretend you're asleep!" and everyone just drops, wherever he/she happens to be, into a sound sleep! After a long day at work, Daddy longs to come home to happy children and a happy wife!

If you stay at home, you can do several things to make your husband's transition from worklife to homelife smooth and easy.

1. Problems? WAIT to discuss them after dinner.
2. Dinner? Have something in the oven, in the crockpot, or on its way from your favorite pizza place. Some husbands enjoy winding down from the day by getting a meal together. If you happen to have a husband like this (blessed one!), then be sure you have all the ingredients together that he needs!
3. You? What kind of shape are you in, Mom? Take 5 minutes to pray while Daddy's on his way home. Ask God to give you energy to enjoy family time, a positive outlook in case he's bringing home problems he needs to talk about with you, and godly wisdom to help him sort through his day.
4. Tradition? Create a ritual for "daddy time" with your baby while you get things together for your evening meal. Most dads like to play on the floor with baby or take a walk outside. Also, this is a great time to introduce a bottle to your baby if you're a nursing mom.

And what if you work, too? Well, things can get a little complicated once the baby comes along. If you didn't talk about it before the baby's arrival, then it's time to talk about it now. Your evenings should not be spent haphazardly. You don't want to get home and both be wondering what's for supper. You don't want to blame each other for never having a meal together. You don't want to both be griping because the other one doesn't understand how hard you work!

If you both work, then you'll have to have a plan for dinner when you get home. You can each cook one night a week--so that takes care of two nights; fix something easy two nights (soup, salad, or sandwiches), and then have one night when you go out or order in. Whatever you do, have a plan! When you both work, celebrate: "Family's Home!" Enjoy every minute you spend together with your baby!

Listen, my sons, to a father's instruction; pay attention and gain understanding. Proverbs 4:1


Friday, June 13, 2008

The Return of Date Night

My husband often works out of the home, so we see each other more often than the average couple. But even with all of shared space, we still need a date night!

Last night, we got one in the form of a fantastic marriage seminar with Bill and Pam Farrel, authors of Red Hot Monogamy and Men are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti. They inspired us to have fun together, write a family mission statement, and date regularly.

Dating is especially a challenge when a new baby comes along. So I want to encourage you to be creative! Why not try:
  • A romantic candlelight dinner or dessert at home after baby is asleep

  • A stroll through a favorite park with baby - just make sure all the conversation isn't taken up with talk about baby

  • Leaving baby with a family member or friend for just one hour while you get coffee together
And of course, there's always red hot monogamy which is probably your husband's favorite date activity! Plus, burning calories in bed will help those pounds come off too! Read more about pleasing your sweet spouse on Father's Day in my article "Father's Day: What Your Husband Really Wants."

Enjoy your Father's Day weekend and remember to put the spotlight on your husband!
Honor your father and your mother. Exodus 20:12

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

More on organization

I would like to piggyback off of what Rebecca started a few posts ago.  Organization is so important for moms!  I found that I didn't have to be very organized when it was just me and my husband.  If something was misplaced,  I had all kinds of time to find it.  Now we need the shoes and bags where they need to be.  We need food bought ahead of time.  We need clean soccer uniforms.  We can't fly by the seat of our pants like we did a decade ago.  I can't find anything in the Bible that specifically says, "Go ye therefore and clean your house and declutter your life.  Please God by organizing your house."  But I do know that if we have things in order we have more time for God and more time for our spouse and kids.  

I read all the time and most of it bores me.  Self help books just crack me up.  Age has made me a tad cynical.   I don't typically  believe that I can make these magic tricks work that I read about in books.  I'm not gifted or creative like those women.  The shows on TV about cleaning out your house are daunting to me.  So...if you're like me and organization takes some thought, planning, and work--here's the book for you.  Simplify Your Life by Marcia Ramsland changed my life.  Now let me warn you.  There's some serious stuff in there, stuff I'll never attempt.  I think this woman struggles a tad with OCD.    I can't say everything in this book will fit your personality but most of it will get you thinking and working to change your basic routines.  This might just be a book you can find at your library.  It helped me tremendously.  I've lent it out to about a dozen people now, all different personalities, and it has helped them all.  

Just wanted to share that!
Be lifted


Colossians 3:23
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.  

Monday, June 9, 2008

Keeping Baby Safe!

I can't say it hasn't happened to me, because it did.

Years ago, when my youngest was just around 3 months old, I left him in the car--it was just for a couple of seconds, but I will never forget it. Here's how it happened: My husband and I had left our two older children in the care of grandparents while we went to do some shopping. Derek had to stay with me because I was nursing him. I had just gotten out of the car and I turned to wait for Rich, ready to head into the store. "Aren't you forgetting something?" he asked incredulously.

My baby. I had forgotten my baby!

Talk about guilt and shame! I just started bawling because I realized what could have happened, and I started in on myself with all the "what if's"--What if Rich wasn't with me? What if I had gone in the store and stayed? What if something--something awful--had happened to my baby?

I felt like the worst mother in the world. Looking back on it, it wasn't so much that I was a bad mom, it was the fact that I was a creature of habit. Derek was only three months old. I was used to dropping the kids off with grandparents occasionally and letting my mind rest, knowing they were in the best of care. Now, however, I had another child to care for! I was still "ON," even though I felt "OFF" because I didn't have the other two. Does this make sense?

Summer brings hot weather and hot cars, and the danger of leaving a baby in the car is very real. It can happen. Often it happens because people are so entrenched in their habits. A few years ago, a dad who was not used to dropping his son off at daycare left him in the car. The baby fell asleep, the dad had his mind on his work, and he bypassed the daycare, going straight to his office instead. It was a tragic death.

Check out these reminders to get yourself in the HABIT of doing things to insure that your auto-pilot is always tuned in to your baby:

1. Put your purse next to your baby's carseat in the back. You will get your purse when you get your baby out of the car. A dad can put his cellphone or wallet next to the baby's carseat.
2. Get in the habit of talking to your baby as you prepare to exit the car. Announce, "We're here!" before you even unfasten your seatbelt.
3. Avoid using the cute little car shades on the backseat windows. When those are affixed to windows, no one can see if there is a baby back there.

No one thinks she would ever forget her baby. I would have NEVER thought that about myself. Take precautions this summer! Your baby is counting on you!

When pride comes, disgrace follows, but with humility comes wisdom." Proverbs 11:2


Friday, June 6, 2008

What Carrot is Dangling in Front of You?

My son turns 4 at the end of the summer, and he just got a new computer educational program called "Jump Start." When he plays games and answers questions correctly, he earns carrots. When he earns 10 carrots, he gets to pick a car and have a race on the computer. You better believe my racecar-loving son is into that! So he worked for over an hour, doing subtraction and putting together words like "CAP" to get those blessed carrots!

I had to laugh at the genius of the "Jump Start" creator! Without those carrots dangling in front of my toddler, I think he would have said, "Mommy, I can't do this" at his first math problem. But with incentive of the carrots, he says, "Mommy, I can do it. I have to get 10 carrots."

What carrots are in front of you? How will you reward yourself when you reach your weight loss goals? I think we're a lot like my son. We're motivated by rewards too! After my first baby, my husband said I could go on a shopping spree when I lost all my baby weight. That sounded pretty good since I was so tired of my big tops and elastic waistbands! What reward would motivate you?

Whether it's a mini-vacation, time alone, a nap, a manicure, a date night with your husband - plan something to reward yourself when you reach a weight loss goal. For instance, if you want to lose one pound every week, reward yourself with a hot bath at the end of the week if you do it.

You can do it mom! Time to collect those carrots and endure a little hardship for a greater prize!

Surely you will reward each person according to what he has done. Psalm

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Mommy, will you play with me?

I have such a horrible confession to make.  I have to do it now or I'll lose my nerve.  Our life is a tad hectic right now.  My husband started his new job in Indianapolis yesterday.  We are here in Minneapolis trying to get the house on the market by this Thursday.  There are still about ten projects that need to be done and I'm out of gas.  On Saturday we were having a marathon of sorts, getting as much done as possible.  My nine year old daughter asked me, "Mommy, will you play with me?" as I was doing yard work.  I did something I've never done before (honestly!)...I totally ignored her as I kept working.  I was so focused on getting my stuff done that I didn't even reply!  I had one of those pity parties that night, thinking, "I'm the worst mother ever."  So I went to her bed and told her in these words (maybe not recommended), "Mom was a jerk today.  I can't believe I ignored you.  I'm sorry I didn't play with you but I'm even more sorry that I ignored you.  I'm sure that hurt your feelings.  Please forgive me.  No matter what let's go to the park tomorrow."  We hugged and went to the park the next day.  I know this is a harried season for us but our kids don't really get that.  So I have to be extra careful to not ignore their needs.  I'm sure our house will sell regardless of how the yard looks.  I think God will honor me playing with my kids here and there, in between all the work that needs to be done.  We could spend a million dollars and a million hours on this house, but the sale of it is in his timing and surely in his hands.  

Please!!!  Stop what you are doing, and play with your kids.  What do they like to do??  My baby loves puzzles and playdoh, soccer and baseball; my Kindergartner loves chess and cards, soccer and baseball; my daughter will play anything as long as I do it with her.  Find what your kids love to do and just do it with them.  The chores, no matter how complex or time-consuming, will still be there.  What is your absolute priority today?  I pray it's your kids.  I think God will give you more energy and time for your chores if you make him first and your family second. I challenge you to give that a try.

Please pray that I prioritize my kiddos during this transition.   It's tough but well worth it.

Be lifted!

1 John 4:12 b
"...but if we love on another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us."  

Monday, June 2, 2008


With the change to summer weather, it's time to go through your baby's closet and drawers and weed out the things that can no longer be used. If you hope to have more children, keep potential hand-me-downs organized by using plastic storage tubs that are clearly labeled with size and season. Things that are stained, torn, or beyond repair simply need to be thrown out. And if you're on your last baby, give freshly laundered clothes away to Goodwill or a neighboring family. Take a couple of mornings this week to spend 30 minutes or so getting your baby's things organized. Next, tackle your closet!

When my kids were young, we would take a couple of days in the fall and then again in the summer to weed out clothes. My daughter's clothes were given away, my older son's clothes were stored for the younger one, and the clothes that my youngest had grown out of were passed on as well. Organization is the key! We were able to save lots of money on clothes just knowing what we actually had and what we really needed to buy.

These days, with the rising cost of gas and consequently, everything else, it's going to take some smart living in order to make wise money choices. So much of that can be done by simply being organized. I am definitely not organized by nature, and it is something I have to constantly work at--but my family is worth it, and I know yours is, too!

Check out my favorite helps:

"Double protection: wisdom and wealth! Plus this bonus: Wisdom energizes
its owner" (Ecclesiastes 7:12, Msg)