A Reminder to Pray and TRUST!

I wish I could hop on every single day to talk with you about all that makes us worried and anxious. Then we could joyfully remind each other about the loving God who promises such goodness for us when we surrender our fears and worries to him.

Are you fully trusting the God who loves you, the God who is working all things together for your good, the God who has works prepared in advance for you? God has been faithfully teaching me to trust Him fully. The journey has been significantly challenging, yet incredible and joy filled.

Worried? Scared? Anxious?

Pray confidently. Pray selflessly. Pray with a surrendered heart full of trust so that you can receive the fullness of His peace. These books can help you learn how.

I would be so pleased if you would join me on the journey to fully trusting our Father’s love and care in our families lives. These are the books I wrote throughout some of my journey. I’m sharing them to help us all surrender our hearts in our marriages and in our parenting.

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We are offering these downloadable and printable books/journals as a set at a great discount right now as we encourage you to pray and trust! After today, January 17, the sale price ends. Get them right away and fill this new year with prayer!

Marriage and Parenting Prayer Journal Package
Take time in the Word and in Prayer to surrender your heart to the Father. Give Him your marriage. Give Him your kids. Give Him all that causes you worry and fear. The Surrendered Heart and The Prayer Mugs will walk you through a journey toward peace and joy in marriage and parenting as only God can.
Price: $30.00
Price: $20.00

In Which Drivers Ed Reminds me of Jesus

I love absolutely everything about being a parent. Almost.

It is a fact that potty training used to be my least favorite part of parenting. Nice as it was to get those kids out of diapers, it seemed that during the long days of cleaning poop off the floor and asking, “Do you need to potty?” every three minutes, it would surely be much simpler to just change diapers for the rest of my life.

But then my boys all got potty trained and grew to be taller than me and I was introduced to a new least favorite part of parenting: Teaching teenagers how to drive.

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Now, I’m not a crazy freaked out mom when my kids are behind a wheel (yes I am). I certainly do not cringe and forcefully push my imaginary brake on the passenger side (yes I do). My angst over teaching teens to drive could be summed up by sharing the simple fact that we are in a moving vehicle made of metal that could smash at any time into a tree or a ditch or a Mack truck, and I am powerless to do anything about it.

Kind of makes poop on the floor seem like a welcome guest.

This summer we began the delightful journey of teaching Boy #3 to drive a car so that he can get his driver’s license when he turns 16. In Nebraska, there are two options for this. 1) Drive for 50 hours with a parent or 2) Pay $300 and spend a week at Driver’s Ed.

For Boys #1 and #2, we chose the frugal route, because we are the parents and we could teach our kids to drive for free. But of course.

However, when Boy #3 turned 15 and got his permit, I cried weary tears and asked Matt, “Can we please just pay the $300 this time and let someone else teach him how to drive?” It was the best check I’ve ever written.

So last summer, Elias spent 20 hours in a classroom learning how to drive from a book and a teacher. He didn’t love it, but someone had to make the sacrifice and I’d already done my part. After passing the 20 hours of classwork and the test of his book knowledge, he went out in a car with a great instructor who sat in the passenger seat and said nice things and didn’t slam on imaginary brakes. For six hours, Mr. Much Appreciated instructed Elias on all things driving.

In the meantime, Calgon took me away and I sipped Iced Coffee in my easy chair.

Elias returned from his 6 hours on the road with the good news that he had passed Driver’s Ed, and just like that, he would be able to walk in and get his official driver’s license on his 16th birthday.

I’m almost 101% sure that we will choose this very same option with Boy #4 when the time comes because of the iced coffee and the Calgon. But is it just me, or does anyone notice a bit of a discrepancy on the required number of hours behind a wheel which will qualify someone to be considered fit for driving independently? We’re talking 50 hours verses 6 hours. Those two numbers are not the same and also, one is much less than the other. Even if we counted the 20 hours of classroom time, which truly was beneficial, that’s still not the same as 50 hours of driving practice on the road behind a wheel.

I am forever grateful to the instructor for saving me from those hours of stress in the passenger seat. But as some other parents and I were discussing recently, “Even after taking Driver’s Ed, a kid still needs time and instruction from parents in learning how to drive so they’ll be ready to be an independent driver.”

And this, my friends, is the actual point about Jesus and Drivers Ed that I want to share with you today.

In Which Drivers Ed Reminds Me of Jesus

We can send our kids to Driver’s Ed and let someone else teach them many of the wonderful points they need to know about driving a car. But we parents still have a lot of work to do to prepare our kids for successful and safe driving.

This is very much like teaching our kids about Jesus.

We can take our kids to church and Bible class on Sundays and get them involved with youth group, and maybe even send them on a mission trip or two. But if we expect these very few hours each week to be all and do all in helping them learn about who Jesus is, to fill their hearts with Truth, and to learn the transforming power of prayer and surrender to God – we are sorely mistaken.

Never should we expect a classroom and a preacher to fill the role that God has placed on us as parents. Never should we consider the 3 hours per week in a church building to be “enough” when there are 106 additional awake hours each week that we should be seeking Jesus and His truth.

If we expect that going to church is enough for our lives and our kids’ lives, we should stop going to church because we’ve missed the point and forgotten who Jesus actually is and who He calls us to be.

It’s too easy to feel good about crossing to-do’s off our check list. Took the kids to church? Check. Made them go to Bible class? Check. Did a service project that one time? Check. Yep, we are a good Christian family.

Christianity isn’t a check-list. Christianity is life. Jesus is life.

Driver’s Ed? It saved my sanity. But I’ve been out in my car’s passenger seat anyway, giving my kid more driving practice so that when he turns 16 in a few days, he will actually be ready to drive on his own.

Bible class and worship services on Sundays? Can’t do with out it. But Matt and I are out in the trenches anyway, sharing Truth around our table, praying around our living room, talking constantly about who God is and what it means to live a Spirit filled life.

So this is how Drivers Ed is like Jesus. It all makes sense, and in three days, Elias turns 16, gets his license, and we will be adding a THIRD SON to our car insurance policy.

Kind of makes poop on the floor seem like a welcome guest.

Fill the New Year with Prayer: For Your Marriage, For Your Kids

23 years of being a wife and 20 years of being a mother have taught me this: Constant surrendered prayer for my marriage and for my kids is not just the best option; it is the only option.

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I have spent so much time and energy worrying over these people. Physical worry (can I keep them alive?) and spiritual worry (will they choose Jesus forever?). This has resulted in nothing but anxiety and fear, pain and discouragement. That’s why God tells us not to worry, which baffles us all as we say, “Lord! I’m trying! I don’t want to worry, but still, I worry.” And then we worry about worrying. Good times.

Hope for Peace

When my anxiety reached its peak a few years ago, when I was so overcome with worry, regret, and fear over helping my kids through their teen years and launching them out of the nest, when I was so distracted by the lies of the enemy that I couldn’t hear truth, when I turned all my angst onto my husband and started blaming him for all that wasn’t perfect – I found I had no choice but to seek help.

Help from others. And most importantly, help from the Father. Thus began a journey that can be described as both painful (because broken hearts hurt) and beautiful (because God heals broken hearts).

Never before had I truly surrendered myself to God. I’d been spending too much time striving to be right and do right and act right – you know, as if my right-ness would save me and produce a family who would choose right too. When I continued to fail at being right, the worry took over and completely crippled me.

God beautifully broke my heart to teach me that His peace and salvation don’t come from a person’s right-ness. Peace, hope, and salvation come from His righteousness. This righteousness can be ours, because of Jesus, praise God!

I love God so much. He is gentle, faithful, and if we can even begin to understand and accept His perfect and glorious love for us, peace, hope, and JOY will bubble right on out of our beautifully mended hearts!

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When I fall back on my own flesh, the anxiety comes back. When I trust the Spirit’s work and surrender my walk with Him, I am instead filled with the joy, peace, and love our Father promises.

Will you join me in this place of peace and joy? It begins and ends in surrendered prayer.

I wrote A Surrendered Heart Mini-eCourse and The Prayer Mugs Prayer Journal as a result of all I am learning through this journey of learning to truly surrender and trust God.

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A Surrendered Heart is written for wives as they pray God’s will in their marriage and truly give their husbands over to Him. The Prayer Mugs is written for mothers as they learn to fully trust God with their kids. I am so incredibly grateful for what God has been teaching me about surrendering my husband, marriage, kids, and life to Him daily. I know this journey of learning and growing won’t end until my time on earth is over. So while I’m here, I must daily give my heart to the God who promises goodness and hope.

Let’s surrender together. Let’s embrace the hope God gives. He doesn’t just promise it, He truly gives it! Peace is a gift that is absolutely ours, every single moment, every single day. Our only job is to accept the gift. To fill our hearts with Truth from His Word. To pray in confidence, knowing that God faithfully gives His good gifts to His children without holding anything back!

Prayer for your Marriage, Prayer for your Kids

A Surrendered Heart Mini-eCourse and The Prayer Mugs Prayer Journal are resources I’d love for you to have as you spend time in the Word, as you spend time in prayer, and as you grow with me in our journey in learning to trust and accept God’s gifts of peace and joy.

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PrayerMugsprev

When purchased separately, these downloadable and printable scripture studies and prayer journals cost a total of $30. For the next five days, we are packaging them together and offering them for a total of only $20!

Get your New Year off to a prayer-filled start. Surrender your spouse and marriage to the Father. Let go of fear and anxiety over your children’s welfare and your parenting struggles. Truly give your marriage and children over to the perfect care of our Heavenly Father! Join me in this place of peace in Jesus.

Marriage and Parenting Prayer Journal Package
Take time in the Word and in Prayer to surrender your heart to the Father. Give Him your marriage. Give Him your kids. Give Him all that causes you worry and fear. The Surrendered Heart and The Prayer Mugs will walk you through a journey toward peace and joy in marriage and parenting as only God can.
Price: $30.00
Price: $20.00

Pray for your Marriage and Picks Package Discount

This discount will be offered through Wednesday, January 17. Grab them now, download and print them, open your Bible, find your favorite pen, and get down on your knees. There is so much joy and peace here. Join me.

Marriage and Parenting Prayer Journal Package
Take time in the Word and in Prayer to surrender your heart to the Father. Give Him your marriage. Give Him your kids. Give Him all that causes you worry and fear. The Surrendered Heart and The Prayer Mugs will walk you through a journey toward peace and joy in marriage and parenting as only God can.
Price: $30.00
Price: $20.00

The 3 Best Decisions I Made in 2017

I don’t think I’ve ever come to a year’s end and felt quite so satisfied with specific choices God has led me to make.

Well, I did feel pretty good about my decision to say “yes” at the end of 1993 when the cute soccer guy asked, “Will you marry me?” Good choice, Laura. Good choice.

But here we are, 24 years and many thousands of life lessons later. As 2017 comes to a close, I have been exceedingly joyful about making three important decisions during the past twelve month that have – if I may sound so dramatic – changed my life.

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This picture was the result of my oldest son taking family pictures,
turning his camera suddenly toward me, and saying, “Hey mom!”

Choice #1

After considering it for years and being too intimidated to follow through with it, I finally decided to hire someone to help me clean my house. Sound frivolous? I thought so too. But my house is big and my schedule is full. While my sons are incredibly helpful with so many of the basic and necessary daily and weekly chores around the house, there were too many deeper cleaning jobs that we never, ever got around to.

This weighed on me heavily. So I finally made the phone call. I pay for just four hours each month and the change it’s made in my home and in my stress level has been incredible. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and worth every penny. Hooray for a cleaner house in 2017 (and for the dear friend who fills my home with love while she clears away my dust)!

Choice #2

After being completely overwhelmed with the fact that I could no longer keep up with all the work it takes to run this blog, I asked God to guide me in finding help. He provided not one, but two gals who are a perfect match to help me do what needs to be done regularly so that I can focus more on what I love: writing and creating recipes!

Not one day goes by that I fail to be thankful for the relief this has brought to my daily life.

As an added bonus, the three ladies who help me clean or keep up with blog work are all friends who were seeking a little extra income to help with their own family’s needs. I love it when God provides win-wins!

Choice #3

This choice has been the best of the best. After seeking Jesus in new and better ways during the past few years and while encountering what I can only label as being attack from the enemy, God provided a loving Christian therapist this year to walk me through a deep journey toward breaking chains and finding spiritual healing.

There are no words to describe the freedom I’ve discovered because of the godly help this woman has offered. God is teaching me how to love more freely, to live more fully and peacefully through the Holy Spirit, and to allow myself to be filled with all the goodness He has to offer.

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I guess I could sum up my year by saying, “I asked for help. God faithfully provided.”

I’ve known for quite some time that I can’t do it all. But this year was the first that I waved the white flag and asked for help in so many different ways. It’s been so glorious that if I didn’t know that God’s timing is perfect, I might question why I waited so long. :)

I look back on 2017 with a great big grin, a heart overflowing with joy, a head freed from the clutter of anxiety, and as an added perk, a bedroom floor that finally gets cleaned regularly.

I pray that your 2017 has been full of all the goodness our God so freely offers. I’d love to hear your thoughts as you reflect on all He’s done for you this year!

21 No-Bake Snacks for Summer

Frozen Yogurt Cups

Why is it that when a girl has had a variety of guests moving in and out of her house for three weeks straight and needs to get three of her sons packed and ready to head to camp for a week…

Her washing machine breaks?

It waited until the exact moment we used our last clean towel and needed to put clean sheets on the bed for our oldest son who was coming home from traveling (with a full suitcase of dirty camp clothes). No big deal.

I actually had to laugh when it happened because this was the fourth break-down in a series of doozies. “Of course my washing machine just broke,” I said to my dirty sheets as I pulled them back out of the washer. “The timing couldn’t be better; I can’t wait to tell Matt.”

Ahhh, Matt. At the time of my broken washing machine discovery, that guy was on our roof trying to find the source of a major leak issue. And the day before he’d been on the roof of one of our rental houses doing the exact same thing.

We still haven’t made a decision about buying a new-to-us vehicle since our van died a few weeks ago. And did I mention my grill won’t stay lit? Eh…who needs grilled steak or my very favorite grilled chicken? Who even does?

One might say, “The Coppingers sure are having a rough summer,” but I’m here to say that I’m actually having a great summer! When I look at the big picture of my life I see what’s actually true:

  • No fewer than four families offered to loan us a car until we get our van situation figured out. Four families! We took one family up on their offer because they had a car they weren’t even using right now. God provides.
  • Matt was able to stop the roofing work he was doing in order to spend a few hours fixing our washing machine. It was ready to go again just before the boys needed to wash laundry and pack. God provides. 
  • We haven’t had rain since the leaky roof discovery, and while we always welcome rain for the farms and gardens, we are thankful that Matt was able to fix the leak situations before the next downpour. God provides.
  • I miss the grill but until we can figure that issue out, I’ve got two crock pots, a stove-top, and have recently come up with a passel of Waffle Iron Recipes that help me avoid heating up the house with an oven. All together now…God provides.

Inconvenience isn’t the same as heart-ache. Broken things are just broken things. So who even cares that my coffee pot stopped working? Oh yeah, by the way, my coffee pot also stopped working. Now that one did threaten to push me over the edge into a pit of despair. I don’t even need transportation or clean clothes, but I do need coffee. I kid, I kid. Also, Mr. Coffee himself sent me a new one at no charge so does God provide? Oh yes I think He does.

21 No-Bake Snacks

And with that, I shall share with you 20 No-Bake Snack and Treat Recipes. We all need these whether we have a grill, a working vehicle, or a washing machine. Avoid turning on the oven and fill your fridge and freezer with these. They are low in sugar and super refreshing and tasty!

How’s your summer going? Are all things in working order at your house?

What Keeps Me From Going Crazy (This is Working!)

I’d like to think I’m exaggerating when I use the term “going crazy” but I’m not convinced and I doubt my family is either.

Just a few days ago I was screaming at my computer because it wouldn’t send my document to the printer so I was like, “What is wrong with you!? You were working fine two hours ago! Just print already so I can go to bed!”

Can’t you just visualize the sweetness?

My youngest came running and offered, “Is there anything I can do for you, Mom?” Precious, isn’t he? Sure. But then he started playing the piano very loudly right behind me so that I could no longer concentrate on troubleshooting my printer issues. This did wonders for my stress level and it helped even more when Matt chose that exact moment to holler a question about our income taxes from the other room.

Crazy?! Nah. Only a little bit.

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This was taken many years ago when I was jumping on the trampoline
with our boys. This shows a different variety of crazy, one that involves a bladder,
and I guess that’s all I need to say about that.

I’ve shared recently about my emotional and spiritual health struggles. God has been so faithful to gently walk me through some dark valleys and to provide peace I never knew existed. Our Creator is mighty, His forgiveness is abundant, and I suppose the fact that I’d always been such a “good girl” means that I’d never really recognized my great need for a Savior until I came face to face with my absolute weaknesses.

So here I am and here He is. It’s really quite beautiful, experiencing his strength shining through my weakness.

Jesus is my drug of choice. The Bible has become what I cling to over all else, because I’ve learned absolutely that SELF is not able to cut it.

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There are days I don’t have time to pull away from all my responsibilities to spend any real time with my Bible, and boy do I feel the void. (Not the guilt though – praise God! I spend time with God in the Word now because I want and need to – not because “that’s what good Christians do.” What a refreshing change of mindset.)

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My perfect choice, if I get to choose, is to sit for over an hour every morning sipping coffee, journaling, praying, listening, and soaking in several chapters of Scripture. Sometimes it happens, and sometimes it doesn’t.

But even if it does happen, what about the other 23 hours in a day? I find it easy to be at peace and full of conviction to live through the Spirit when I’m sitting in the quiet with my Bible – without any people needing me or printers ignoring my requests to please just print the document.

But start throwing all of the day’s stuff at me and I am faced quite humbly with my human side.

My solution? My plan-of-action against falling back on selfish living throughout the day?

What Helps Me Embrace Peace (aka stay away from crazy)

1. Prayer.

Sure, that’s an obvious Christian answer. But it is a fact that it’s not just “an answer” it is the answer. Talking to God throughout the day, whispering “I need you” and “thank you” and “you are so good to me” and “guide me with this” and “please give me the right words” and “I love how you worked that out” and “thank you for providing that for us” and on it goes all day long. It works.

I talk to God a lot. I ask for the Spirit’s guidance. I forget. Then I remember. Then I get wrapped up in my own thoughts and get all wishy-washy. Then I come back to a surrendered place and let go of control. I’m back and forth, living a life full of demands. God is there constantly, faithfully, grace-filled.

2. I’ve been slapping Scripture all over my walls.

By “slapping” I mean “carefully placing” of course, because there are nails and a hammer involved with this process. I’ve been learning that surrounding myself with scripture that is front and center, all around me, is a great way to stay focused on Truth and to remain at peace.

I fell in love with these prints and ordered them, putting the three top ones in my bright living room and the bottom three in our bedroom. They match each room perfectly. I love them so much I can’t stop staring at them. This is perfect though, because staring at scripture all day long, even while doing mundane chores, is a fantastic to keep me focused on Truth which helps to avoid unhealthy thought patterns.

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3. I’m selective about how I spend my downtime.

Some evenings we actually have this thing called “free time.” I’ve been playing a lot of Skip-Bo with Malachi or sometimes we’re able to play a game with the whole family. We like slowly working our way through Netflix series, watching an episode all together right before we head up to bed.

I just have to be careful what I watch, as in, shows like CSI and Criminal Minds are out for me. Currently, our family is working through Person of Interest (which actually is a bit violent, but not gory or emotional, so I can laugh with my family about how unrealistic it all is while still having a fun story line).

4. I journal and color.

I know it doesn’t work for everyone, but for me, journaling has been a wonderful way for me to process and pray, and even learn new Truths from God. (By the way, ain’t no one except God gonna ever read my journals. They. Are. Messy.)

I learned a few months ago that coloring is loads of fun, completely relaxing, and even great for meditating. Coloring clears my head and helps me focus on pure thoughts that bring peace. I had no idea coloring could be so great.

So prayer, posting scripture, being selective about what I read and watch, journaling, and coloring – these, along with spending quiet time in the Word – have been keeping me on solid ground.

I’d love to hear what helps you stay grounded each day. What have you found that helps you most to avoid worry and to keep you focused on God’s Truth?

Something you might be interested in:

This Surrendered Heart Mini eCourse has been a tremendous blessing to my heart and to my marriage. I’d love for you to have it! Get the details here.

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It’s 42 pages of scripture-filled lessons, worksheets, journaling pages, and printables – all for the purpose of strengthening your marriage as you surrender your heart to God.

A Surrendered Heart Mini-eCourse
A Surrendered heart is much more than just a book! It’s Bible-based instruction. It’s a workbook so you can make some actionable plans for steps to take to grow in love for your husband. It’s a journal, so you can take the time to reflect, listen, and learn to love your husband more fully through Jesus. And it’s loaded with beautiful Scripture Printables that we can strategically place all throughout our homes so we can constantly be reminded to live through the Spirit as we serve and love our husbands. Join us!
Price: $12.00

What Happens When a Mom Takes a Step Back

Well, honestly, sometimes when this mama takes a step back (literally), I fall over (actually). I’m just not as spry or coordinated as I used to be, and also sometimes the reason I’m falling is because I have tripped over the groceries my kids didn’t put away after I asked them twice.

Which leads me to a big point of this post.

It is rare that my kids will do exactly as I ask, immediately after I ask. I often have to say things twice or twelve times. They hardly ever come right when I call. Sometimes I say, “Put all your shoes away before you head up for the night” but then I find all the shoes exactly where they shouldn’t be in the morning. We can be sure that if I didn’t tell them to pick up their sweatshirts, all of the hoodies in the world would stay on the floor forever.

One of my kids always forgets to rinse his dishes even though that’s been our practice after every single meal for every single day of his entire life. Getting my kids out of bed in the mornings requires much more than a cute wake-up song, and I often hear about all the parts of life that aren’t fair.

This is what I do all day. I am Mom. I am blessed to be with my kids all day, but the thing is that I AM WITH MY KIDS ALL DAY.

It is my responsibility to educate and train them in everything ranging from geography to kindness to algebra to selflessness. I’m intentional about preparing them to be godly husbands, leaders, servants, employees, people. So every time one of their weaknesses flares or their response to an assignment, chore, brother, friend, or parent is less than ideal – I am on it! I instruct, reprimand, encourage, cry, offer suggestions, pray, and yep, sometimes even yell.

I see their weaknesses; no doubt they see mine.

What I sometimes fail to see is their strengths. Their gifts, talents, leadership abilities, Christ-like hearts, tenderness, humor, care, compassion – those are all there in my kids too, in abundance. But I all too often forget to notice the greatness through all the crusty socks that never made it upstairs to the basket.

It’s when I take a step back that I see the good that’s been there all along. It’s there in spite of me and even a little bit because of me. Mostly it’s there because God is at work in my kids and He wants their good even more than I.

When I step back I see…

  • My oldest, almost 20 now, being loved by so many on the college campus, taking a lead he doesn’t even know he’s taking, just because people are drawn to him. He rocks at videography, already utilizing his skills professionally. When he talks about his special girl, his voice is gentle and sweet. He loves the Lord and continues to learn what it means to live for Him.

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Photo cred goes to the man himself

When I step back I see…

  • My 17-year old being a leader on the basketball court, encouraging his younger teammates, motivating his youth group peers to join him in a service project, teaching younger kids how to play soccer, talking sweetly to an elderly lady. I hear the music he creates and I am blown away that my kid has ability like this. I hear his poetry, the words of which tell me of his talent and of his heart for God.

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When I step back I see…

  • My 15-year old coming out of his shell, making people laugh, talking to me about the sweet girl he likes, getting the door for people coming in behind him, and spoon feeding our disabled friend. I see him cheerfully making trips back and forth from apartment to truck as he helps another disabled friend load heavy furniture. I hear him confidently singing a solo on stage for the first time, fulfilling roles we never could have dreamed he’d be willing to step into. I hear him pray at night, amazed at his growing relationship with God.

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When I step back I see…

  • My 12-year old being the “big kid” that the little kids at church flock to. I see him confidently teasing adults and making them laugh. I see him hugging the man whose wife is dying, making the gentleman smile through his tears. I watch him on stage, acting as if he was born to be in character. I see him excited to finally have a chance to go on a mission trip this summer with his older brothers, and I see him with tears in his eyes as he says, “Mom and Dad, I am ready to be baptized.”

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When I take a step back, I see all of this, and I don’t even have to look hard. This is all there because at their very core, this is who my children are.

In the thick of parenting, instructing, teaching, planning, dreaming, longing, and probably not sleeping quite enough – too often parents are only able see to the tip of the arguments and to the end of the unmade bed. Stepping back, we see the entire picture – the one that is beautifully painted with caring children, strengths that shine through the weaknesses, and a God who is at work to bring out His purposes for these darlings who are dearest to us.

To all who are in very middle of this parenting adventure: Take a step back. What are your children doing well? Where do they shine? In what ways have they grown? Bring it all to mind. Sit there for a while, and bask in the sweetness. It’s peaceful there and it is very real.

It is in this place, the place of stepping back, that we can remember our purpose and joy as parents. We remember that good shines brighter than bad, and that God is powerfully at work in both our children and in us.

Then hopefully, next time we trip over the backpack that got dropped right in the middle of the floor, we can recall to mind the heart of the child that left it there, even as we holler once again for said child to come put the backpack where it goes before we throw it into the fireplace.

What Happens When a Mom Takes a Step Back

Please take a turn! I got to share about each of my sons. Will you please take a minute, step back to see the good in each of your kids, and leave a comment to share that good with us?

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Want more peace in your parenting? After 20 years of parenting and learning the hard way about truly trusting God with my four children, I wrote the Prayer Mugs. Please join me in enjoying the true peace that God offers as we raise our children!

The Prayer Mugs
Grab your mug. Fill it to the top. Download your Prayer Mugs eBook and enjoy the richness it offers as you surrender your kids to God.​​​​​​​ 96 pages filled with lessons I've learned through 20 years of parenting, scripture, encouragement, printables, journaling pages, and truth.
Price: $18.00

Just Because I Can, Doesn’t Mean I Always Do

I can make mozzarella cheese. I can make Gatorade. I can make bread, pie, bagels, and pizza.

Homemade Gatorade

I share all of these ideas and recipes with people here. It’s so much fun! I talk about ways to save time and ways to save money. I’ve figured out ways to put nutritious meals on the table in less than 20 minutes, letting people know that none of us ever has to rely on take-out.

But just because I know these things, teach these things, and have experienced so much good because of all these things doesn’t mean I always do all these things.

Does this mean I’m a hypocrite? No. This means I’m human.

How about you? Human much?

I bet you know a lot of great tricks for saving money and time. But if you’re like me, sometimes there simply isn’t time to execute the time saving strategies (does this even make sense?). Sometimes the extra few dollars we need to pay for convenience is worth it so that we avoid stress and overthinking.

Check out what I did a few weeks before Christmas:

bagel-basket

I bought four packages of bagels (without reading the ingredient labels, if you can possibly imagine). I bought four bags of different varieties of granola. I bought a box of instant oatmeal pouches. I put them all in a big basket in the kitchen and told my kids, “This is breakfast for the next few days. Make eggs if you want. Always eat fruit. Beyond this, I won’t be making anything for breakfast because I have too much to do before we leave for California and I’m trying very hard not to be a crazy mom.”

I felt no guilt over the extra expense and the extra sugar and white flour. (Okay fine, I did cringe just a little bit, but only for half a second until I remembered my purpose.)

Nothing is worth anxiety and stress – not even the occasional ingredient label I can’t pronounce. Not even the extra few bucks I could have saved making it all myself.

Do I know how to make bagels? Granola? Instant oatmeal packets? Yes, yes, and yes. It’s fantastic to have such great money-saving recipes in my hip pocket. It’s wonderful knowing I’ve done all I can to put the best of the best on the table for my family.

But it’s more important to be able to love my family with a peaceful heart. It’s crucial for my mental and spiritual health that I spend as much time as possible each morning in prayer and reading the Word. And just before Christmas, the priority of enjoying the season with my family meant much more to me than flipping whole wheat pancakes and serving them with homemade blueberry syrup.

Just because I can, doesn’t mean I always do. Just because it sometimes works, doesn’t mean it always works. Just because I could, doesn’t mean I should. Just because change is hard, doesn’t mean change is bad. Just because I’m doing it now, doesn’t mean I always will.

just-because-i-can

Our family is home now after over 57 hours on the road and two weeks away from home. Things are starting to settle back down (sort of, if they ever actually do). I don’t plan to make bagels anytime soon. But I bet I’ll find time to make a batch or two of granola.

No matter what, I’ll seek to make the most important things in life the highest priority, remembering that just because I can do something, doesn’t mean I always should.

How about you? What are some things you (should) give up during times of additional stress and extra full schedules?

simplemeals300

The Difference Between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day

Have you noticed a difference in Mother’s Day vs. Father’s Day? In my experience, Mother’s Day seems to have us all focused on bowing down to mothers and spoiling them -recognizing all their hard work and amazing influence in the lives of their families. Not that I mind this too much. Yay for all mothers, everywhere. We are awesome!

Then comes Father’s Day. It seems like we somehow switch gears, letting Father’s Day become an opportunity to lecture men on how they should be better leaders and good role models.

I’m all about empowering men to lead and grow. But if all the sermons on Mother’s Day were about how I should step it up and be a better mom, I sure wouldn’t feel very honored. Not that I need accolades. That’s not my point. My point is this:

My man works hard. Most men work hard. Most men are incredibly good to their families and they all deserve to be honored just as much as the women.

Do you agree?

The Difference Between Mother's Day and Father's Day

I’m guilty too. I’m guilty of expecting to be spoiled on Mother’s Day then barely throwing together a small token of celebration for Matt once Father’s Day rolls around. Sure, maybe this is because I cook for him almost every day of the year and do all I can to take care of him all day, every day. But this year I’m struck by how much I need to honor him for all he does for our family. Truly, what would I do without him? He is a rock star in our home, an incredibly hard worker, and I’m quite sure I don’t tell him this often enough.

While my love language is “acts of service”, my husband’s love language is “physical touch.” If I stood behind him all day, every day, giving him a scalp rub – he would not mind even a little bit (so what if there was no dinner on the table that night?). So while I’ll be making him his favorite peach cobbler and other favorite meals for Father’s Day, I’ll do my best to spoil him with physical touch so he knows without a doubt how much he means to me. If we can squeeze it in between camp sessions for the boys, we’ll probably play a family game of Settlers of Catan since I know he’ll love that too. (You can be sure though that just because it’s Father’s Day, we will not have mercy and let him win. Whatever though because he almost wins anyway.)

Perfect for Spoiling Your Husband on Father’s Day

Matt and I got the MELT Massage for Couples video series about a year and a half ago. Talk about a gift that keeps on giving – and one that is a perfect way to speak Matt’s love language. We have loved learning more about giving great massages and you better believe I’ll be using these in my efforts to spoil Matt this Father’s Day.

A nice bonus right now is that the MELT folks are giving away their Foot Massage Videos for free with each MELT purchase! Plus they have some great free printables you can cut out and hide throughout the house to give little hints as to what is to come! :)

Weirded out by the idea of watching someone give a massage just so you can learn to give a massage? Don’t be. These videos are completely appropriate and modest. We continue to reference them and learn. I’m excited that the Foot Massage option comes free with purchase this time. Great bonus!

You can check it all out here and learn the specifics. I think it’s a great Father’s Day gift because it’s a win-win for both you and your man!

What has been your Mother’s Day/Father’s Day experience? Maybe I’m the only one who has noticed a difference in how we honor men and women. How are you planning to honor the men in your life this Father’s Day?

This post is sponsored by MELT Massage for Couples.

What If Change Can Be a Good Thing?

A few weeks ago I did a phone interview for an upcoming online Christian Homeschool Summit. I wasn’t very sure of myself going into it and questioned why I had actually said “yes” to the invitation. Sure I’ve been homeschooling for over 14 years. But all that’s really taught me is that I have a lot to learn. Share my knowledge with others? What knowledge??

Therefore, I decided I needed to pray before starting this interview (because I hear that works sometimes). I asked God to let the Spirit work and for my words to be from Him.

What happened is that one of the questions I answered ended up being exactly what I needed to hear – and I realized immediately that the Spirit was indeed at work. After all, I was sharing words of truth that I had not clearly recognized before. It was this:

Always be open to change. Just because it has worked well for your family in the past doesn’t mean it will continue to work well now. Seasons change. Family needs change. Kids get older. Commitments and ministries and obligations and activities evolve through the years. If something that has been working for you suddenly is not working – that doesn’t necessarily mean you are doing something wrong. It might simply mean that it’s time to switch things up to make them work differently. To make them work better.

I very much needed to hear those words. It’s crazy how that prayer thing works.

What if change can be a good thing?

I’ve needed to embrace this truth as our kids have gotten older. My current parenting and teaching teenagers while working from home full time stage is different from my parenting and teaching little boys stage. Sometimes it feels harder. But what if it isn’t? What if it means that I’m trying to work with a system that used to work but no longer works? What if it means I need to make some adjustments?

Change can be hard. But what if some of the adjustments are slight and not even as hard as I think they’ll be?

And what if change doesn’t have to be hard? What if change is good? What if change brings peace?

If we are truly listening to the Spirit and letting God guide us with His perfect wisdom, what do we even have to fear? Anxiety and peace cannot coexist. Do we trust God or are we relying on self?

I love God so much. I love how gentle He is about drawing me back every time I slip back into worry and anxiety mode. I get so frustrated with myself because “I’ve done it again.” But God. He’s not even shaking His head at me. He’s just gently loving me as I once again surrender to seek Him better and to find confidence in His guidance.

I’m taking time this summer to pray and seek God’s guidance toward any changes I need to make in how I manage my time and energy. After all, I hear that prayer thing works sometimes.

Something fun for you

Not that caterpillars aren’t adorable (and fuzzy and squishy) and a wonderful part of God’s creation, but my preference is to enjoy these creatures once they’ve made their transformation into a butterfly. What if?? What if change for you and me can be like that? What if we’re fine(ish) as we are, but God has more for us? What if He wants to transform us, leading us through changes that make our lives into something more beautiful?

Cheesy illustration? Sure. But I like butterflies and the transformation they represent. I like how butterflies prove that change can be good!

Free printable butterfly coloring pages

I recently discovered that I enjoy Grown-Up Coloring Pages. I created these butterfly-themed pages, complete with Scripture Truth about how we can completely trust God through any changes and transformations He walks us through.

Help yourself! Consider these scriptures and the truth they represent about how we can and should trust our loving Father.

Download the Butterfly Truth Coloring Pages here

Leave a comment to share about a time you experienced a good change.