We were at Great Wolf Lodge – the indoor waterpark – when I saw my look-alike. A woman on vacation; a woman stressed out.  I could relate. Her son had (more than) everything he needed – cute surfer suit, rash guard, goggles, swimmer’s ear head wrap, and flotation device. She had thought of it all! He was ready for a good time! Except, his mom was miserable.

The woman was snapping at her husband, hovering irritably over her son, and snubbing her own mother who was along to help. I could feel the tension in the chlorinated air.  Sometimes vacations – sometimes life in  general – can be plain old miserable and tense.

The family begrudgingly grabbed water tubes and trudged up the steps to the giant slide. On the way up, the woman was clearly irritated with the way her husband’s tube kept bumping into her face and she couldn’t stand that her mother was trying to assist her in getting up the steps. “Yep, been there, done that. She hates herself right now,” I thought.

Two minutes later, one by one, the family began popping out through the bottom of the slide into the pool. I couldn’t believe my eyes: each and every person was beaming! Hooting! Smiling!

The woman who went up the steps miserable and stressed, came down light and happy.

(Oh, and get this: they gave each other high fives! HIGH FIVES!)

They were a happy family again.

I couldn’t help but wonder what happened inside that slide. My best guess is that the adrenaline shook off their funk. The waterslide was fun and surprising; it got their blood pumping; it was just what they needed.

I learned a big secret from this family: When I’m in a funk, I should look for a waterslide! I should have fun, do something refreshing, see something inspiring, and get my blood pumping. As a wife and mother, I should look for waterslides for my whole family, keeping my eye open for ways to spunk things up when they’re looking low.

Here are a handful of very simple “waterslides” that have changed everything recently:

  • One tense evening, Ryan and I were having one of those “same old same old” arguments that every marriage has from time to time. He says his lines, I say mine. This time, I decided to trash the script. Mid-sentence, I jumped into his arms and said, “You’re right!” (Hehe… surprise!)  Tension: gone. Happy marriage restored. (The best thing about this one time decision is that we’ve never returned to this particular script ever again.)
  • It was a dreary week when I was feeling tired and overworked. (You know the kind of week when one day blurs into the next?) Ryan sent me to a coffee shop for the evening knowing that the jazzy music, the delicious latte, and Jan Karon’s latest book were precisely what I needed.  Dreariness: gone. Inspired woman restored.
  • The other day, the kids were dragging along, stir-crazy because of cold weather. We turned on the music and played whole-house everyone-plays hide-and-seek. Slump: unslumped. Content home restored.

Of course, adrenaline, surprise, and fun don’t fix every problem – not at all – but sometimes they’re just the boost we need to remember that we’re human… and that goes a long way.

Start climbing the steps to that waterslide today…


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(Our little boy watering sunflowers at a nearby arboretum.)

It’s one thing to repent of idolatry.

It’s another thing to repent of worshiping God as if He were an idol.

Lately, this has caught my attention.

When God delivered the Israelites from Egypt and led them to the Promise Land, He told them that they must not worship Him the way other people worship their gods.

“Be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, “How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.” You must not worship the Lord your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things that the Lord hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.” – from Deut. 12

Biblical history shows that the Israelites struggled with this, including Jephthah – the Judge who offered his daughter as a burnt sacrifice as a means of worshiping God. Though Jepthah was serving God and praying to God, he was thinking like a Canannite.

His mistake had devastating consequences.

It’s easy to see the error of Jephthah’s ways, but I’m discovering that I do the same thing.

I find that my worship of God is often inspired and informed by the way the world worships its gods. Perhaps we all do this from time to time. Perhaps we think,  “If the world is sacrificing holiness, covenantal relationships, and familial responsibility to serve Achievement, Fame, and Money, I’ll offer the same thing to God. He’ll love it.” That sounds a bit extreme, but after some soul-searching, we may discover that it is how we think more often than not.

It’s possible that when we think we’re worshiping God, we’re really just giving Him something that he hates.

I have been worshiping God this way for far too long and I am humbled by the realization.

For me, it sometimes looks like this: instead of offering my love for writing and teaching to God in the context of His character and His laws, I strive to offer them to Him the way the world offers them to its gods. I sacrifice my prayer time, my Bible study, my marriage, and my children to offer God something “Bigger! Better!”

All the while, the Holy Spirit convicts and warns me, “Imagine what could die if you offered that unnecessary sacrifice!” 

Jephthah’s tragic worship is a mirror to my soul.

I need to constantly renew my mind, to remember what God truly wants from His worshipers.

This one aspect – worshiping God in the way He wants – affects every single thing in our lives. For me, it determines how I interact with my husband, how I mother my children, how I invest in our local church, how I spend time with my friends, what I read, what I write, how I work, what I play, and how I live.

These 2 questions bring me back to worshiping God as God. Their answers are our soul’s food and drink day after day; our understanding of them will never reach a limit.

  1. What is God’s character?
  2. What are God’s laws?

So, we open up our Bibles with prayerful hearts… and worship God as God.

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:1-2

Posted in All Posts, Bible Teaching, Marriage, Motherhood | 5 Comments


I heard the concept “18 Summers” and near-about panicked.

If you haven’t heard “18 Summers” yet, the idea is for mothers to savor each June – August because we’ll have a measly 18 summers with each child at home. I quickly did the math and realized that I’m half-out of summers with our oldest. That sent me into a tizzy. Only 9 more summers for bubbles and picnics and water balloons? Only 9 more summers of family vacations and star-gazing and piles of flip-flops in the entryway? Then 8, 7, 6, 5, and… and soon, she’ll be texting every few days with updates about her missions trip or summer job or husband. It’s almost too much to consider.

But it’s true. Time is precious!

I understand why the “Bucket List” movement is still charging ahead full-steam. Who wouldn’t want to make the most of these fleeting summer days? Already, the Internet is full of “Summer 2015 Bucket Lists”. We are fervently creating the very best lists of the very best things for the very best summer. And we should!

We desperately want to make the most of our time. To make it meaningful.

James – Jesus’ brother – said it best when he called life a vapor. A mist. A breath.

James would have been all about “18 Summers” and he would have had the world’s best Bucket List going because he understood life’s brevity. Just looking at his 33-year-old brother on the cross, he might have thought, “Wait… he was here… and now he’s gone?”

But then, when Jesus rose from death and opened James’ eyes to see and believe the God of Eternity, James gained some valuable perspective.

He wrote,

 “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

Here’s the thing: though we are a mist, we are a mist in God’s hands.

The thing we feared would be so fleeting, so sand-between-our-fingers… finds its meaning and significance in one place alone: in God’s hands.

(In comparison to God, the power of a good Bucket List fades a bit, wouldn’t you say?)

So, when you and I feel the threat of the vapor, may we be happy, entrusting our souls – and the souls of our children – into the hands of the Eternal God.

As James says, “If the Lord wills, we will live!” And live abundantly.


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Two Free eBooks to Check Out

This past month, I’ve had the honor of writing articles for two different eBooks – both, as it turns out, purpose to bring you hope.

Hope Renewed: Real Stories of God’s Promises Fulfilled is a beautiful compilation of stories from the Sisters in Bloom writers. Click here for your free copy and let God’s promises fill you with hope.

Hope After Porn: 4 women share their stories of heartbreak . . . and how their marriages were saved is available through Covenant Eyes and offers hope for the marriage that has been affected by pornography. Click here for your free copy and, by all means, send it along to a friend who needs a dose of hope for her marriage.


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Ryan and I made the mutual decision to stay home for Valentine’s Day this year. The girls will enjoy an annual Valentine’s Day shebang with some friends in the afternoon. In the evening, I’m finally going to jump in and try my hand at a Valentine’s Day Dinner. To keep things fun and simple, I think we’ll try the Heart Shaped Pizzas that I read about here and bring out the fondu pot for a chocolate-covered strawberry dessert. I’m sure we’ll sit on the couch and read through the girls’ Valentine cards (a tradition my father started with us many, many years ago!) and then, we’ll tuck all of the kiddos into bed, make these Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes that I have been eying for a full year, snuggle up by the fire, and watch Courageous together.

What are your plans?

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Tune in To Marriage

Mark Driscoll has begun a wonderful sermon series on marriage to accompany the release of Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together. Ryan showed me how to use the Mars Hill app on my iPhone (it’s free!) so I can listen to the sermons while I walk on the treadmill in the morning. Look for it! And listen. I have a feeling you’ll love it!

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Pray and Plan

Recently, Ryan and I took a weekend to pray and plan for the upcoming year. Some friends of ours sent us a template of topics to work through – everything from finances to intellectual growth. Our friends have enjoyed their annual Pray-and-Plan Retreats and inspired us to begin our own. It was encouraging to our marriage and I think it will prove to be fruitful. The girls enjoyed an overnight stay at Grandmom and Grandpop’s while we talked about our family’s 2012 mission, our gardening plans, our homeschooling dreams, and lots of other things.

Here’s a free pdf of an example outline. Maybe you and yours would like to try it out? Just click right here to get started!

Posted in Marriage, Motherhood | 2 Comments

Best Marriage Quote of 2011

Thanks to Joy Forney of Grace Full Mama, for quoting her husband:

“It’s my best friend I fell in love with and want to hang out with, not my maid!

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Not a Machine

I was buzzing about my day, accomplishing everything on my extensive to-do list, when one thought changed my life. It happened the day I pulled the car into the garage after grocery shopping – keeping within our budget, mind you – and using a handful of coupons. I had selected the finest fruits and vegetables, bought all-natural snacks, and befriended the glum cashier. I parked the car, pulled the baby out of the car seat, grabbed five bags of groceries, kindly helped my little girls inside while keeping the kitten outside, and crafted a brilliant paragraph for my upcoming eBook. Wow! I was doing everything at once. I was so tickled by my Type A-ness that I smiled and encouraged myself with the cheer: “I’m a machine!”

Something about that happy-yet-crazy statement stopped me in my tracks. For one moment, time froze. The grocery bags balanced precariously in my arms, the baby waited for the next bounce, the disappointed kitten condescended to the nudge of my foot, and I felt an epiphany fall into my heart:  I’m not a machine… I’m a human being.

That one thought was so heavy, I almost dropped the groceries.

(In fact, I’ve been staggering under its weight ever since.)

Time unfroze. The kitten scampered down the steps, I closed the door, and slowly unpacked the groceries as I mulled the news: I’m not a machine. I am not a machine! I set the girls up with an art project and nestled the baby in bed (you can’t expect a Type A to stop completely, ya know), and then I poured myself a cup of tea and read an article in WORLD magazine. And that’s all I did. I didn’t cook dinner, listen to the phone messages, and crochet a scarf at the same time. I just sat there and read. And drank. But that’s all. It felt very… human.

The days after that just got wilder and wilder. I read a fabulous book called Entre Nous: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl (I have a weak-spot for books about etiquette and fancy-things.) While it’s definitely not the next John Piper epistle, it was like a glass of lemonade on a summer day. It reminded this American go-getter about the Latin ethic of life over work… the importance of truly savoring and meaning the food I eat, the politics I preach, the clothing I wear, the children I raise, and (okay) the make-up I wear. I was in such a dry place, that I read it as a devotional book and actually felt the Holy Spirit sighing peacefully inside of me as I remembered what it means to be human. (Warning: If you read it as a devotional, you might be sorely disappointed. It is not biblical per se. But it sure helps a girl to breathe again.)

So, am I a machine? Non!

A “chicken”? Maybe.

A human? Decidedly so.

(I must admit that I related this story to my non-A-type friend and she sighed wistfully and said, “But you’re such a good machine! You’re like the best machine I know.” So, in case you can’t relate to this post, just know that you do have good company out there.)

Posted in Farm Life, Healthy Living, Laugh About, Marriage, Motherhood | 10 Comments

“My Life For Yours”

“My life for yours.” That’s what the pastor said in the homily. My new brother, Alan, and my sister, Erin, stood up on a platform, hand-in-hand and the pastor charged them with John 15:13 passion. He said “This is the gospel. This is marriage.”

And now, a week later, I still can’t get it out of my head… it keeps swirling up there… “My life for yours.”

The wedding was an exquisite party: the romance, the colors, the smiles, the family, my all-time favorite rendition of “That’s Amore”, skanking down the aisle to Flatfoot 56 (oh yes, I did!), taking photos in the city’s street, the hula-hoops, glow-sticks, confetti, favors made by Erin and Alan’s dear youngsters in the city, wine, good bread, and gourmet coffee, and an exiting arch made out of sparklers… and yet, the sweetest, most profound thing keeps lingering in my heart, ringing in my ears, and practicing itself on my lips: my life for yours.

My life for yours.

This is the essence of love.

Here are a couple of photos from the gorgeous December day. But I hope your most lasting impression is the title of this post, the theme of our existence.

(My sister and my parents. So beautiful.)

(My only shot of the handsome groom. We’ll have to order photos from the photographer. Our arms were full. And, as I said, we were busy celebrating!)

My delights.

Flower girls in Philly.

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends…

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