What Kind of Back-to-School Parent Will You Be?

Just saw on Twitter that a local elementary school is offering a Kinder Parent Information Night and thought, “How progressive to teach parents to be kind and compassionate this year!” Realized later that Kinder was short for Kindergarten. 

But what if it really meant learning to be kind? (Some of my teacher friends just sat up and thought, “HUGE MISSED OPPORTUNITY,” and devised about ten other parent nights you’d like to see. God bless you. You are in my prayers so much right now!) 

So here’s what I’d like to see us embrace as KINDer parents for the new school year. Read More

Access that Trust Fund You Didn’t Know Was Yours

McLeod sat down beside me on the couch the other day with a meaningful look. With the arrival of August, he made an important announcement:

“Just 30 days ’til Alabama football.”

Now the race is really on to finish the covered patio that I was convinced would be done by now–oh, how optimistic I was back in June. However, if game-day grillin’ isn’t happening, I have devised plan B for ribs in the pressure cooker. These have become a go-to meal at our house so you Instant Pot Warriors should check them out. Plus, per tradition we’ll have something like queso in the Crock-Pot, but that’s another sore point around here. Sentimental me just parted with my old version, a lovingly re-gifted 80’s model I received at my wedding shower 23 years ago, and I’m having a few qualms about the new one.

Read More

10 Ways to Say “Be Careful” and Other Mom-ventures in Trust

OH MY WORD, my son is hauling himself around the suburbs as a newly licensed driver this summer, and I’m having an out-of-body experience.

It’s like I’m reliving all at once the angst of Kindergarten drop-off, the first day of sleep-away camp, and the time I sent him on a plane by himself. I know that in two weeks when he’s taking himself to band camp, I’ll be singing the “Hallelujah Chorus.” Right now, though, it’s like I’m willing myself to be in his passenger seat even though I’m actually doing laundry or sitting at my desk.

I’ve never checked my phone so often nor devised so many ways to say, “Be careful,” without re-using those words:
Check your mirrors.
Keep your mind on your driving.
It’s not you; it’s the other drivers that worry me.
Take it easy on that one particular road.
Don’t go some bizarre route.
Check your gas gauge.
Don’t get distracted.
Do NOT have your phone out.
Wear your seatbelt.
TEXT ME WHEN YOU GET THERE (but only after you’re parked). Read More

The Cure For Those Summertime Blues

PSA: Heaven on earth does exist, and it’s in South Carolina.

In June, we got the heck out of Dodge for a week at Pine Cove Chimney Point near Anderson, SC. We laughed hard, played a ton (Jet skis! Zip lines! Horses!), and studied God’s Word. No phones. Just family, friends, and the best country-fried chicken I’ve had since I moved from Alabama in 1997.

My prayer going in was that we’d be revived after twelve months that included actual storms like Hurricane Harvey and figurative storms like the loss of McLeod’s mom. How funny and so like God that family devotion time centered on Psalm 23. He truly did “restore our souls.”

 

But near the end of camp, I began wondering how to hang on to that feeling of rest and confidence in my Good Shepherd once I returned home. Maybe you or your kids have had that kind of mountaintop experience recently, too, only to find yourselves singing the summertime blues once home again. So what’s the secret of not losing rekindled faith or restored joy amidst the dirty laundry and healing sunburns? Read More

3 Things to Remember When You Feel Discouraged

Know what the soundtrack of my life is right now? The rhythm of a nail gun and the whine of a power saw. Yep, we’re in the middle of a renovation project that’s got me living out my HGTV dreams. 

I was telling a friend, though, that at first, every day seemed like “demo day,” with more being demolished than was being built. That can feel discouraging at the time. For my Hurricane Harvey survivor friends, let me say, BLESS YOU. You’ve been living with that kind of noise, chaos, and uncertainty for months, trying to remember when you didn’t have to walk through curtains of heavy plastic or rinse a layer of sawdust off your dishes. 

You’ve been smack dab in the messy middle.

But for others, maybe your “messy middle” is another kind of hurricane like divorce, family drama, or illness. Or perhaps a deep, pervasive sin has been uncovered, your own or someone else’s, and the atomic fallout feels relentless. 

If you’re in the messy middle, whether that turmoil was from a good thing (like my planned home project) or a bad thing (like a real or metaphorical hurricane), here are three encouragements Jesus offers to guide us through. Read More

Raising Sons Who Honor Women

I’m a tad old-fashioned, I admit. I love it when McLeod fills up my car or brings me flowers. I sparkle at being romanced and pampered.

But you know what I love even more than my husband’s gentlemanly manners? That he cares about what I think and what I’m working on and that he esteems me both as a woman and as an equal recipient of God’s promises.His support defines the word encouragement: filling me with courage to see myself as a valiant daughter of the King so that I act accordingly.

I feel like we’re working hard, too, to raise a son who will also honor and encourage the women around him, but here’s something else I have to admit: when it comes to certain topics like healthy sexuality, avoiding pornography, and setting standards for dating behavior, I’ve been less than courageous in speaking out.

I’ve deferred to McLeod and other godly men in my son’s life to do the talking. That’s not bad, per se, but it is one-sided. I’ve now come to realize that since I am still the primary female voice in his life, I need to weigh in on such matters.

Just because my son now looks more like a man than a boy doesn’t mean my voice has become obsolete. As a godly woman, I bring wisdom and perspective that he needs more than ever. Read More

To the Mom Bathing-Suit-Shopping with Her Teen Girl

Houston, summer has landed, and as temps rise, clothes shrink. That means moms and teen daughters everywhere are facing off over short-shorts, sundresses, and bathing suits. I was just at Academy commiserating with another mom as we picked through swimwear, hoping to find something that complemented our girls’ changing shapes but didn’t get them dress-coded at summer camp.

It’s not always easy. Read More

Summer Is Coming. There Will Be Chores.

Well, we’re about two weeks from summer vacation here, so I’m still in End-of-School Survival Mode even as I share my kids’ excitement with each passing day. Mother’s Day was a great respite from the busyness, but as each petal drops from my wilting bouquet, I’m fully aware that I better make a few preparations for the months to come.

You parents know what I’m talking about: Your kids are going finish the school year, and within 5 hours of that final bell, they will have eaten all your food and generally trashed the place.

Then, they’ll need a ride to somebody else’s house so they can eat all their food and trash their place, too.

Welcome to Summer Vacation. Read More

The Ultimate End-of-School Mom Survival Guide

I swear I wake up in some weird, mom-style Choose Your Own Adventure story every day during the last month of school. I check my calendar and think I’ve got plans under control, but still, it feels an awful lot like this:

“You’ve wandered into a school gym full of parents. Are you
A) There for an awards ceremony but just realized you forgot to tell the grandparents?
B) Ten minutes late for a just-scheduled performance and fuming over another “extra” on the calendar?
C) Looking for your child’s missing gym shoes, but when you see the crowd, you wonder if you forgot some ceremony or performance?
Choose your own adventure in mom-stress and/or mom-guilt.”

So how’s a mom to make it through the last month of school with her sanity and sense of humor intact? Here’s my take plus some thoughts from other awesome moms I know. Read More

3 Little Known Ways to Amp Your Joy

Cruising into week three of Joy30,  and one truth about joy stands out: some days you just have to choose it. As in, “This is the day the Lord has made. I WILL rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps 118:24).

I’m not advocating that we fake happy feelings, but I’m learning that God’s perfect joy, the fullness of joy that always exists in His presence, is a gift He makes available to His people if we choose to unwrap it. So how do we connect with this gift, especially when circumstances are anything but joyful? Here are three ways that have helped me. Read More

When You Face Tough Truth, Let Joy Make You Strong

“You need to put your armor on. You’re going out there spiritually naked.”  

Ouch. Spiritually naked? Me?

I had just confided to a ministry veteran that I was battling terrible doubts and anxiety every time I shared my writing online. Tottering out there on my “social media platform,” I had perpetual stage fright magnified by about 1000.

She listened with compassion, but then she gave me something I needed more than her kind hugs and reassurance that things would get easier over time. She started digging into my spiritual life (a.k.a. getting in my business) until she hit a place where I needed to hear truth:

I’d been letting Satan feed me a bunch of lies about God’s ability to protect and empower me to do what He’s called me to do.  Read More

How to Let Joy Find You

I remember the first time Caroline ate blueberry pancakes. Sitting in a high chair at the grandparents, she grabbed fistfuls and shoveled them in. With gusto. Then, she caught me watching (camera in hand) and broke into full-on squeals of delight in the midst of a purply mess.

Joy snuck up on us, turning breakfast time into party time.

I’ve been looking for more of those joyful moments lately. In fact, I’ve put myself on a Joy30, spending the 30 days of April asking God to show me what it means to be

filled with joy,

strengthened by joy,

completed in joy,

led by joy, and

clothed with joy.

But what I’ve discovered this first week of Joy30 is that we have to open ourselves up to being found by joy, to allow it to sneak up in a surprise attack.  Read More