5 Ways to Fire Up Your Prayer Life

We’ve been fired up around here lately. Not only did we replace our lackluster grill, but we’ve got a fire pit that’s proving to be a huge hit, and not just with the younger set. Fresh pop corn and marshmallow goodness, here we come.

Sometimes, though, it takes a few tries to get a fire going. The grill gave us some grief at first because turns out, the wire to one of the igniters was not plugged in. Nothing sadder on a football Saturday than a fire that’s not firing up at all. Read More

Top Gear Every Woman Needs for a Tough World

What’s it take to put on our “spiritual super suits” and be the wonder women that God created us to be? That’s what we’re talking about is this series of posts as we look at practical ways to live with purpose, lead with grace, and love with whole hearts. Tip number one? Go deeper with God’s Word than ever before.

It’s like the time I decided I’d had enough snorkeling and instead, learned to SCUBA dive. Don’t get me wrong. Snorkeling’s great. You float along the surface, feeling nice and safe while you watch the fishy world swim by your face mask.

However, when my family moved to southeast Asia for three years, I began to meet friends who did a lot more than snorkel. Read More

Where’s Your Super Suit? Check These Places First

1979 was a magical year to be four years old. You bounced around in your family’s barge-sized Chevy Impala, not worried about buckling up in the back seat, and you slurped water right from the garden hose, savoring the metallic tinge. Best of all, you zoomed through your house in your Wonder Woman Underoos, deflecting bad-guy bullets with the aluminum foil bracelets you just made.

Any girl could be star-spangled spectacular in the face of danger as long as she had her super suit.

Somewhere between four and forty, though, you can forget where you left your super suit. Read More

A Year after Harvey: 3 Ways We Still Need Help

It’s been one year since Harvey, and I still can’t take down the green Post-it from my fridge that lists the Coast Guard phone number. I’ll never forget the night we scrambled to move valuables to our second floor as the water crept closer and closer. We were the lucky ones. The water stopped short of our front porch. However, other friends wept as the water inundated, in some cases rising many feet, destroying everything. People had to call the Coast Guard for rescue, and when the Coast Guard couldn’t help, people in fishing boats like Louisiana’s Cajun Navy had to save the day. It wasn’t just houses that were affected, either. Churches, schools, and businesses filled with disgusting flood water, and some have never recovered. People still ask each other, “Did you flood?” in the same way you’d ask, “Where’re you from?” Read More

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 Shopping with Her Daughter

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