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An accounting lesson every parent needs to learn and practice



Posted by on Nov 18, 2011 | 1 comment

Some of the best parenting advice I can offer is over 2000 years old.  It's as relevant today as it was when first recorded, though it wasn't even suggested in the context of parent-child relationship ~

Keep current in your relationships; maintain a short account with your teens and tweens.  Don't let a day go by without speaking words that need to be said.

  • Offer a sincere apology when you've offended.
  • Grant forgiveness when you've been offended.
  • Provide encouragement when discouragement looms.
  • Say I love you.  Often.
  • Tell stories, share your life's minutia…

Don't let anything important ~ anything ~ go unsaid.

Whether or not you're a follower of Christ, words recorded in Scripture make practical sense for everyone ~

And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil. ~ Ephesians 4:26, 27 NLT

The passage in Matthew where Jesus basically asserts that words can kill and you better make things right, and quickly.

In Hebrews, where we're cautioned to "work at living in peace with everyone" and not to "watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up" troubling you and corrupting many. 

Because we don't know what tomorrow will bring, isn't it necessary and right and considerate to remain current with our children?  To take the high road, if need be, and reconcile relationship when it's been severed.

We're the grown-ups!  Our children need us to act the part, to take the first step in making amends, to make sure we aren't the ones harboring anger, resentment or bitterness.  They'll follow our lead.

One of the most poignant examples of doing this well and right was illustrated following the unexpected death of a friend of mine.  Her daughter's moving eulogy was indicator they were current; her daughter could let her go because there was nothing left unsaid between them.  

Are you current in your relationship with your children?  Is there anything you need to say or do?  Are there stories you want them to hear from you, family lore they won't otherwise learn?  Please…don't let another day go by without making sure you've got a very short account with your teen or tween.


Parenting teens & tweens badgeParenting Teens & Tweens, Day 24

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Apparently @Starbucks is reading my blog…
~ & a challenge for you! ~



Posted by on Nov 16, 2011 | 6 comments

 So…apparently there IS power in the digital pen. 

After I mocked the giant coffee mermaid, their marketing genuises (<— they really are genuises imo) got together over an overpriced steaming latte, and decided to give a little back to their customers.  From Thursday, November 17 ~ Saturday the 20th, from 2~5 pm, you and a friend can enjoy half-priced Peppermint Mochas, Gingerbread Lattes, or the one I'm trying, Caramel Brûlée Latte.  Of course you have to buy one Starbucks drink to get the other free, but they do need to cover the wages of their sometimes-entertaining baristas, right?

Screen shot 2011-11-15 at 7.07.54 PM

Wanna join me in a challenge?

Truth be told, Starbucks' Caramel Macchiatos are one of my guiltiest pleasures.  Adding insult to injury, I order mine brevé, which in Sbux pretentious vernacular means even more fattening aka with half & half instead of anything "skinny."  Which of course means not only more calories but more money, unless you have a gold Starbucks card, which we do I'm not proud  don't judge me and then I think you get it free.  But the calories are still there.

Anyways…during the month of December, when chillerific weather invites your favorite steamy beverage and mine…I'm giving up Starbucks and giving away what I'd spend.  This might seem like a small gesture (especially financially), but fasting from something I enjoy weekly becomes an offering to the Lord.

Do you think I'm crazy?

In other words, because I know I "can't" have it, I want it more. 

The void increases the want.  And every dingdang time I crave a yummy drink from Starbucks, holiday or otherwise, I pray for the children and staff of Compassion

Fasting brings to mind the object of my motivation and in my remembering, I pray.

So…if you'd like to join me in a similar Christmas challenge, would you let me know in comments?  It will be a delight to join someone else of like mind; not to say how great we are, but to acknowledge that a small denial to self can be a soul offering to another.


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Posted by on Nov 14, 2011 | 4 comments

Chicago skylineThe marriage, not Jack Bauer's Reality Series.

Twenty-four years of roller coaster livin', ups and downs and twists and twirls that have combined for a breath-taking thrill ride. 

Which makes me glad I buckled up for safety…and even gladder I said "yes" to the blue-eyed brunette who asked for my hand in marriage all those years ago.  And since the rest of me was attached to the hand, he got a package deal.

It's all leading up to a spectacular Silver Anniversary in 2012…what could the next 12 months bring?

Hmmmm, what could the next year bring?

Well, I have a twinkling of an idea, but you'll just have to stay tuned to see.  I'm expecting something just around the corner I can't wait to tell you about…something I never dreamed of at this stage in life….

or maybe I'm just teasing so you'll stick around a while.

Or maybe it's the biggest cliffhanger since I began blogging.

Maybe one day I'll tell.

Maybe not.

There's only one way to know for sure, right?  Subscribe in a reader or by email.


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The imperfect mother #fail (or Pot meet Kettle…)



Posted by on Nov 13, 2011 | 2 comments

The other week I was weighted by relatively moderate stresses–

  • looming writing deadlines
  • work and volunteer obligations
  • the fear of speaking on two radio shows hosted by women I admire
  • and not completing my 31-day Parenting series in 31 consecutive days. 

In the midst of my writing a piece some might deem as controversial or questionable, my youngest asked me if I would quiz him.

"Stephen…!" I snarled, with That Voice my children know too well, the one where they don't have to look at my face to see my exasperated and inconvenienced expression, the tone I never use with anyone to whom I didn't give birth. 

"You KNOW how important it is to choose your timing well when you need something from me, and can't you see I am TRYING to finish this post, and…" before I could go on with my rant, he looked back to his book, resigned, knowing that I was right and he was wrong because he hadn't first considered the timing of his interruption, sincerely agreeing, "I know I know I know…."

It was obvious he DID feel bad for interrupting me and not choosing a "better" time, but there was something in his complicity that made me stop to consider the importance of what I was doing versus what he had asked of me.  I decided to muzzle my bark, table my writing for a few minutes, and quiz him on his material.

I closed my laptop as he handed me his…Bible.

His m a t e r i a l ….

Really, God?  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? 

He wasn't studying for a test; in fact, it wasn't even for school.

Philippians 2.  All 30 verses.  He had memorized the passage for his Life Group.

All he wanted me to do was listen.

And really, beyond "quizzing" him, he wanted me to share in his accomplishment, to be proud of him.  In essence to show off, BUT WHAT BETTER THING TO SHOW OFF?!

When he got to verse three, it became quite clear God has a ~

  • great sense of humor…
    • a delight in irony…
      • perfect timing

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

And when he was done and ready to be-bop to the next thing, when I was sure he no longer needed my undivided attention, I opened my laptop and finished my post where I tell you how to be a better parent.

Irony not wasted. 


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Telling stories



Posted by on Nov 12, 2011 | 6 comments

No matter what you do in your life,
what you create, what career you have,
whether you have a family or kids, or make a lot of money…
your greatest creation is always going to be
your life’s story.

Because it’s like this container
that holds all of those other things.

~ Jonathan Harris, artist

As hard as it is for your children to believe, you had a life before you had them.


The best way to share who you are as people, not just parents, is through storytelling.  In story, you can bring to life the people, places and things that made you who you are.

And though it's true that some people are natural born storytellers, inclined to hold you hostage as they unravel a tale of the spectacular woven from the ordinary, no one is better qualified to tell your story than you

An oral tradition of your family is just as important as the photographs you take.

Think about it–when your children were lap-size, before they could speak or read or even recognize letters, you read books to them.  How did they stall going to bed e.v.e.r.y. single night?  "Read me a story," they'd beg, and I bet more often than not, you did.  

And they never tired of reading the same book over and over and over again, until you were begging them to choose something new.


Whether by oral tradition or written account, why is sharing your life stories with your children so important?

  • It introduces them to people, places and events they might not otherwise know.
  • A family is greater than the sum of its parts; sharing your past enriches their present.
  • It helps them better understand their relatives–their motives, choices and idiosyncrasies.
  • It can build a sense of identity, family loyalty, pride.
  • It strengthens generations.

Even if you think your life has been relatively boring, it has all the essentials of good story–characters and conflict, good guys and bad guys, twists and transformation, passion and desire. 

Once you've stopped reading books to your children, after they've transitioned from learning to read to reading to learn, when they hit those tween years and can engage in meaningful conversation, it's time to start telling the stories of your life.

Tap into your wealth of memory and share the stories of your youth…

  • portraits of your best friends
  • how you spent Summer vacation or other memorable trips
  • favorite holiday memories
  • your easiest/hardest subjects in school
  • how your parents ~ their grandparents ~ disciplined you
  • your relationship with your siblings, their aunts and uncles

…the stories of personal transformation…

  • your faith journey
  • achieving goals
  • mastering a new skill
  • dealing with difficult circumstance
  • overcoming obstacles and on-going struggles

…your love story with your spouse…

  • how you met
  • what attracted you to him/her
  • when you knew he/she was "the one"
  • your conflicts

It doesn't really matter what you tell, just that you tell.

Over and over and over. 

My parents are no longer living and my grandparents passed away before I was old enough to remember their stories.  What I would give now for them to open doors to their youth and young adult years….

Which is motivating for me to tell my stories; to urge my husband to tell his.  In writing this, I realize we haven't enough

There's simply no such thing as "enough" or "too much."

If you aren't from a family of storytellers or don't quite know where to begin, you might find it useful to use a ready-made journal as your guide.  I have a copy of To Our Children's Children: Preserving Family Histories for Generations to Come by Bob Greene & D.G. Fulford that has wonderful, guided questions. 

Don't assume your children already know all your stories or don't care to know. 

The older they get, the more they'll appreciate knowing, especially when they have children of their own.   And if your own parents or grandparents are still living and you realize you don't know more about them than you do?

Start asking questions before it's too late.  The answers are buried treasure just waiting to be unearthed.

Your turn:  Can you think of additional reasons telling families is beneficial?  DO share in comments!!


Parenting teens & tweens badgeParenting Teens & Tweens, Day 23

Thanks to those of you who have subscribed in a reader or by email!  I hope you're enjoying reading my parenting series as much as I'm delighting in writing it.  And to those who've taken time to email or comment?  You have no idea how encouraging your words are to ME!! xo


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