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    Book Review: A Thing of Beauty by Lisa Samson

    Lisa Samson is one of my favorite authors of Christian fiction. Her characters are often quirky and her storylines challenge me and push me out of my comfort zone. So when Booklook Bloggers offered me the chance to read A Thing of Beauty for free in exchange for an honest review, I jumped at the…
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I’m So Glad God Has Selective Memory

Forgiveness is tricky. It’s not always easy to give forgiveness and sometimes it’s even harder to receive it.

Years ago, when my kids were in kindergarten and preschool, they had a spat. My quick-tempered daughter got mad at her passive-aggressive brother and called him the “s” word – stupid. (Oh if only that were still the “s” word.)

Noah was all too eager to fill me in on what his sister had done. I had a talk with her and then made her drink a glass of toilet water since she had potty mouth. KIDDING! (Just making sure you were still with me.)

She endured a tortuous time-out. We talked some more. She apologized to both Noah and me. We told her we forgave her and then she was released on good behavior.

Minutes later Noah called me aside, “I don’t think your punishment worked for Anastasia.”

Oh no! Did she use the “d” word now?! (dummy)

“Why do you say that buddy? You saw her in time-out.”

blog photo - forgive“But she’s all happy now. I don’t think she feels guilty.”

I watched her playing and she wasn’t. She was giddy, running around as if nothing had happened.

At first I was a bit irked and was sincerely considering force-feeding her that glass of potty water. But as I thought about it, why should she be feeling guilty?

She was forgiven!

She had every right to be able to go on with her day and be happy. She had faced her consequences. She asked for forgiveness. There was no need for her to carry a burden of guilt.

How many times in life have I carried with me the burden of guilt because of my inability to fully accept God’s forgiveness? If I sincerely repented, I should feel free. Of course there will be consequences to endure, and some may be harsh, but God doesn’t put an X on my back to carry until He feels I’ve done my time. He doesn’t use guilt as a punishment.

Guilt is of the enemy. All it does is paralyze us from experiencing the freedom found in God’s forgiveness.

If we confess our sins, God will forgive us completely (1 John 1:9) and then He will remember them no more (Hebrews 10:17). If God has forgotten our sins, then why should we carry the burden of them around our necks?

Of course we should learn from our mistakes and try our best to not repeat our sins, but it is freeing to know we have a God who has selective memory when it comes to our screw-ups. (Pardon this term but it best describes it. Oh yeah, thank you Jesus!)


The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree

“The best thing a human being can do is to help another human being know more.”—Charlie Munger

I love this quote. Doesn’t it sum up the role of a parent? I just wish my kids would see the value in this and make it an easier job. 

Last night we had a family meeting. We are an active family with many activities throughout the week. Both kids are good students, however, on Monday I received notice that both of them had scored low on the class assignments.

Mark and I called a meeting to discuss ways we can make sure school doesn’t suffer. We weren’t punishing. We weren’t raising voices. We were only reminding them that school is their primary job and all other activities were secondary.

blog photo parent child meetingThere was no punishment, only encouragement but we did mention the consequences of neglecting school work, i.e. removal of certain “hand-held devices” or a break from their sport until grades improved.

Some people call it passion, I call it drama – but one of our kids was not too thrilled and took it personally and totally shut off to what we were saying. I could tell they were not hearing correctly the message. It was so frustrating – especially since we were being such cool parents about it!! What’s up with that?! 

It made me wonder. How many times do I react the same to God? He’s gently guiding me, giving me knowledge and wisdom but I overreact to my circumstances and then miss the life lesson. I know I can be a Drama Mama about such things. Looks like my kids have picked this up from me. Ugh…

Maybe last night was God trying to pass on knowledge and wisdom to me also.


The Dark Times of Disney Shed Some Light

Yesterday, my daughter Anastasia and I wanted to relax and watch a movie. She’s eleven and it’s not always easy to find a movie on which we agree. She’s no longer interested in Disney films starring fairies and princesses. (In case you’re wondering – we did not name her after Cinderella’s wicked stepsister. Although, there are days I do see a resemblance. Shhh…our secret.)

We decided on As Dreamers Do – a movie about the early years of Walt Disney. The acting wasn’t top notch – Anastasia was quick to point that out – but the storyline kept us engaged.

As Dreamers Do

As Dreamers Do

I had heard the popular stories of Walt Disney’s failures before he was the man we know today.

– He was fired as an editor of a newspaper for “lacking imagination”.

– He was told by MGM that Mickey Mouse would never work.

– And, my personal favorite…he hired seven small people to portray the seven dwarfs for the premier of Snow White. The night ended with the police hauling off seven naked and drunk “dwarfs” shouting obscenities.

Imagine that happening today with social media. It would have been a marketing nightmare.

The movie focused primarily on Disney’s younger years and his company Laugh-O-Gram. The company wasn’t making money. His co-workers eventually left him. He went bankrupt after 14 months. He couldn’t pay rent and had to live in his office. It got so bad he could only afford to eat…dog food.

It’s inspiring to us because we know the whole story. We know that he grew to become the man behind the most successful entertaining dynasty in history. As small business owners, we’ve had our share of dark days. Many nights have been spent with anxious souls pleading to God for help.

This movie gave me hope along with some good reminders for anyone who may be working towards fulfilling their dream and calling.

1.)  Know your calling. Disney knew in his heart what he was created to do. It’s important for us to continually pray for God to define to us our purpose.

2.)  Stay on your path. Disney didn’t allow his circumstances to dictate his calling but he did adjust with life’s turns. It may be quicker to go straight from point A to point B but life is not a straight shot. We’ve each been given our own trails to travel and each one has twists and turns with various terrain. Don’t look for short cuts for these unexpected diversions prepare us with skills we’ll need later.

3.)  Use your pain to give joy to others. Disney didn’t allow his losses and pain to make him stingy and bitter. Instead he allowed it to fuel him to create movies and theme parks where families could come together and escape the worries of the world.

I never knew how dark things got for Disney in his early career. However, it was in those dark years where his mind birthed Mickey Mouse, Alice and many of his other famous characters.

It’s natural for us to fear the dark, to flee it. It’s filled with unknowns, scary figures and pain.

Dark times in our lives can either make us egocentric or God-centric. When we’re egocentric we fall further into a pit.

When we’re God-centric we can see His face more clearly. We must be proactive and not allow the distractions of our circumstances to steal our focus. It is when we look to God that we receive supernatural inspiration guiding us out of our caves and back onto the paths that were divinely created for us.

Take advantage of your times of darkness for it is here God will give you the light you need for your next step and for the world to see Him working in you.

Go be a blessing to the world.




Facebook Gave Me a Reminder on Parenting

Parenting is the world’s hardest job. It’s not one you can clock out of at the end of the day and leave your tasks on your desk. Instead it keeps you up at night with a million worries dancing around in your head along with the never-ending “to do” list.

You can’t go through the motions because it takes your heart hostage and drags it to the extreme of every good and bad emotion. The ultimate high can drop to a devastating low in the matter of seconds.

Like the time when your 3-year-old helped a stranger on the playground only to seconds later drop a four-letter word because his sister took his shovel. (I’m not talking about the word “love” either.) You quickly explain to those around you, “I’m just the nanny. His mom is in the middle of a breakdown.”

And you wonder if you really are.

Then they become teenagers and everything becomes a battle. In many ways it gets harder because you’re not only providing their basic needs…you have to seriously think.

And that wears me out.

blog photo - me hugging kidsOk, I know we have to think with a toddler but the issue with a teenager is that they too are thinking. Thinking of ways to outsmart us and if we’re not careful – it becomes us versus them.

This morning there was frustration in our house as my kids got ready for school. Everything I asked them to do was met with resistance.

“Have you washed your face?”

“I told you I’m trying to cut my nails.”

“Remember to meet with your teacher today about that assignment.”

“Now I won’t get to hang with my friends!”

When I shut the door I mumbled to the dogs, “Thank God their gone.”

I didn’t think much about it until later when I was skimming through Facebook. I noticed two sets of old friends have recently lost children.

Oh no!

I was winded as I read their words expressing their love for their children, how much they miss them and the only thing that gives them peace is knowing their children are now at rest and no longer in pain.

I wanted to hug my children.

I’m pretty sure my friends would give anything to have more battles to endure with their children instead of drowning in the silence of their absence. What I stressed over this morning would be music to their ears if they could once more have that chance.

It was a good reminder from God that being a parent is not a job – it’s a privilege.

Raising a teenager is not “us versus them” but instead “us and them” as we walk alongside them guiding them through the chaos of life.

Each second in their presence is a gift from God and I need to grab on and embrace it while I have it.

I can’t wait for them to get home!





I Was Tired of Arguing With My Son Over Video Games So This Is What I Did

Our son Noah is a great kid. He’s witty, smart and a gifted rock climber. We get along great, unless there is video game controller in his hand. He turns into a zombie and I evolve into a barking lunatic and then arguing begins!

This past summer he wanted to play a game that had me on the fence. I felt it was too mature for him so I said no. He whined. I overreacted and he retreated into his room in tears.

This was becoming our routine and I feared it was harming our relationship. So in a moment of weakness, I decided to let him play the game.

He was happy and I liked “feeling loved” again…sort of.

Crap! I felt manipulated.

Later that night I tossed and turned; mad at myself for caving under pressure. I got out of bed and began researching reviews of this game. It didn’t help. Half of them said it was appropriate and the other half said it wasn’t.

God, what do I do?

blog photo - games:contractThe next day, Mark and I called a meeting with Noah. “Buddy, we’re not 100% sure how we feel about this game.”

“What!? But you said…” He was ticked.

I had a possible solution.

Years ago I had seen an interview with politician who would have his kids write out their arguments in order to help them process their thoughts. As I fought sleep the night before I remembered this story and it birthed this idea.

“Noah, your point of view is important and there are times that Dad and I will be wrong.  If your opinion is correct, you should be able to convince us you are right. But…when you whine, my mind shuts off and it’s hard for me to hear what you are saying.”

I went on to explain that if he was willing, he could write a proposal, we would reconsider allowing him to play the game. He would then present it to us and if he did a good job convincing us, we’d allow him to play the game.

Here is what he was required to put in the proposal… 

–       An opening paragraph stating what he wanted and a brief statement stating why.

–       Three points defending his point of view. A minimum of two had to be from research. The more points, the better.

–       A conclusive paragraph summarizing his desire and points.

–       A code of conduct – what was expected from all parties and what would happen if these rules were not followed.

–       A place for all parties to sign.

To be honest, there was a part of me that thought I had an easy win. Noah is a bright kid but he’ll do his best to avoid anything that has the appearance of schoolwork. I wrong! He worked the whole day researching and refining his points. This obviously was important to him.

His presentation blew us away. It was organized well and his points showed he had fully thought through his belief system. His protocol was fair for both sides. Mark and I did add a couple of amendments but in the end…we signed the contract and to date it’s been awesome.

I know this sounds extreme but here’s why we did it… 

–       I realized my overreacting made Noah feel I didn’t respect his opinion. The last thing I wanted to do was anything that would hurt his self-esteem and our relationship.

–       I hoped it would help him to develop an argument without whining (Oh Lord, please!) – and that, by all means, would help our relationship.

–       It would be good practice for writing and research that will help him all of his life.

–       It was a reminder and exercise to both sides of the importance of listening to each other.

–       It would show him the benefit of taking time to evaluate his thoughts with God before jumping to a conclusion.

I’m not sure how long this will work for us but I thought I’d share this with you in case you too have a constant battle in your home. You can tweak this to fit your family and situation. I only wish we had started this earlier. When our kids were younger, we could have done it in a verbal and simpler format. I’m pretty sure we would have avoided a lot of drama from mama – if you know what I mean.

I’d love to hear what you do in your home with similar situations. Believe me, I need all the help I can get!

Happy parenting!