Thursday, June 28

No Regrets

In the coming weeks I will share stories from my Missions Trip to the Dominican Republic, but today I want to tell you about a book I am reading titled Into The Deep by Robert Rogers.

The subhead says, "One man's story of how tragedy took his family but could not take his faith."

You may have heard of Robert's story. In 2003 a flash flood took the lives of his wife and their four young children. It is a heartbreaking story.

But weaved through the details of their life and their story, is a foundation of hope, faith and trust in a sovereign God. There is also a theme of 'no regrets.'

The day of the accident, Robert, his wife and their four children attended a wedding and then stopped on the way home for ice cream. That was the last ice cream he ate with his family. Can you imagine if he would have passed on that opportunity? Can you imagine if you passed on an opportunity similar to that because you were worried about the calories from an ice cream cone?

I don't want this message to be one of sadness with 4th of July around the corner, but rather a message of encouragement. Robert talks all over the country today challenging families to live lives of 'no regrets.' He challenges people to cherish their families and celebrate the small moments in life.

Take time during the busyness of your 4th of July celebrations to ice cream.

You'll be so glad you did.

Wednesday, June 27

Va-ca-tion: "Freedom or release from duty, business or activity"

That is how Webster defines a vacation. When you return home and you find you have had a nice break in your schedule, you have had freedom from the routine, you are ready to return to the everyday demands with new enthusiasm and strength.
Returning home requires sensitivity to your children and husband as well. Time spent together is wonderful, but coming home gives everyone their own sense of space again. Give your children time to unpack their treasures and display them. We always encouraged our kids to 'save before traveling; buy souvenirs wisely' and then come home and remember the fun by having the souvenirs a highlight in the their rooms or used as a centerpiece for a week when we returned. Normal schedules crowd out the memories so as a mom, make an effort to keep those memories alive abit longer.
I invested in rolls of film rather than buy souvenirs for myself. I would be busy for weeks after a vacation organizing and putting them into a scrapbook so we could relive our travels at anytime. Today, scrapbooking is so easy to do just remember to do it and don't get caught up in having it be a masterpiece, have it something the kids can get their hands on and share with friends.
From an early age, have your kids 'sign off' on the vacation. Either write their names in the scrapbook or write a short paragraph of what they thought was the most fun. If you have babies or toddlers, have them press a handprint or color a line or two, just to indicate their age and ability. This will be a fun measuring stick over the years. A family photo by the car or by your house before you leave is a good reminder as to what your family looked like and where you were living or what you were driving. In time, these photos are some of the best to look back and 'remember'.

Vacations, all good things must end. I hope these few postings will make this summer a time to remember for you and your family.

Tuesday, June 26

Vacations and Your Husband!

I have had the privilege and responsibility to work along side my husband in several businesses during our marriage. I have seen first hand the day to day stress a man is under to provide for his family so I would be remiss if I didn't post a blog about HIS vacation. Men need a vacation too. I think there may be too much said about a wife and all her responsibility and that voice gets heard above the one that says a man needs to know he can look forward to a vacation where his wife enjoys his company. I don't want to write about WHAT to do with your husband on a vacation, with or without kids, but rather to encourage young wives to practice taking vacations with your husband while your family is young...or even before you have kids. Practice taking a vacation from nagging, from criticizing, from worry, from 'keeping up with the Jones'. Practice talking with enthusiasm, encouragement, optimism and wearing a smile around your husband. It used to be said that a home is a man's castle...I don't know about that, but it does need to be a place where he is welcomed and where he anticipates a time with his family that renews and satisfies him. When you take off for vacation, talk with your husband about his expectations, what he wants to see and experience and then tuck that away and make an effort to make your husband's desires become a bit more of a reality. I know it is alot to cover and you have your hands full with the kids, but being aware of your husband's time away will only increase everyone's time to enjoy and grow closer together.

Monday, June 25

Vacations...traveling in the car...with KIDS!!

There are some parts of parenting I really had to grow into. Traveling in the car with kids would be one of them!! Before kids, I would look forward to reading a good book or doing handwork as the miles passed by. With kids, it's a whole new ball game. Looking back, even to my childhood, traveling in the confines of a car can give you a great opportunity to build memories and good times with your kids. Don't miss it! Turn off the fancy DVD players and IPods and play games. Trust me on this, it will tire you out, but your family will remember the fun forever. I don't know why, maybe it's because of the close quarters or the attention they are getting from mom and dad, it is not to be missed.

Counting Cars
Keep score on the number of white (or any color you designate) vans that pass by you. Count the number of trucks ( have dad honk his horn when you pass a truck and if the truck honks back, give yourself another point!) Change what you are looking for if you are on the road for several days (sport cars, red cars, motorcycles, etc). It's a good way to build attention span, yours and your child's!!

Alphabet Game
I bet you played that as a kid...and you still remember it! Even pre-schoolers can get into this. Look for bill boards, signs, storefronts, road signs, etc (cars go by too quickly for kids to read the license plates) and find the letter A. Then find B and on through the alphabet. The letters can be any place in a word. Work as teams and the first team to get to Z is the winner. When your kids are young, work as a family so there is no winner or all get farther down the road together!

License plates
Look for license plates when you stop. Check out the parked cars and keep a list of all the states that you find for each trip. I think one trip we found a license from every state! Since we had played this game so often we knew what a feat that was!

Have fun
That's the point of playing together. There used to be big billboards along the road that said "The family that plays together, stays together"! We used to take 'letters' off that sign for our game, but now I look back and see the impact both the game and the billboard had in my life.

Saturday, June 23

On Vacation with Kids...the practical part

As a young mom, I had no idea how to put a vacation are a few random tips that helped me survive the first few years of traveling:

Make a master list of the basic items you need everytime. Pack the list with your maps or camping gear or whatever else you reach for when you think of 'vacation'!

Make a master list of what YOU need to get you through a vacation. As a mom, you will find that you pack for yourself last and then forget important stuff...I suggest if you have a master list of what you will survive! I always needed a small notebook to record my thoughts and write down our daily activities. I always had a pen, chapstick, sunglasses, sunscreen, personal items like tampons(always take a supply, you don't want to be surprised while you're traveling!) that wouldn't get packed unless I made a special point of it.

The computer can organize you and your family so much better than I did when I relied on paper and pencil, but you need to be the driving force to have it meet your needs. Do it months before your trip so you just check off the items as you pack them.

As your child grows, have them make a 'travel bag list' on the computer so they are ready to hit the road without forgetting the essentials. This works good for sleep overs as well.

One tip you may remember from your childhood is the potion for sunburn. Pack a small bottle of vinegar if you are going to the beach. Mix a 50-50 solution of water and vinegar and wipe on a bad sunburn. Works great for babies and toddlers...but better advice is to bring plenty of sunscreen to prevent the burns.

As always, preparation is key to the success. So start now and make your master lists. Adjust them as your children age and before you know it, you will be back to packing for just you and your husband again. So enjoy the hassle!

Friday, June 22

On Vacation with Kids...

The same thoughts I shared about vacations yesterday apply here, but if you are just getting into the 'swing' of traveling with kids, you are probably realizing it is NO vacation!! It is hard work. It is tiring. It is uncomfortable and expensive. So why do you go to all that trouble? First, you may feel like it is the 'thing to do'. Go to Disneyland, travel to the Black Hills, camp at Jellystone. Advertisers and "The Joneses" put alot of pressure on young families to 'do it all' and 'do it all in style and ease'. Can I be the voice of reason (and experience) here and say, go on a vacation to relax and reconnect and anything beyond that is a bonus. You may choose to go to the fancy, fun places but do it to relax and reconnect. If that isn't happening on your vacation, maybe you shouldn't go to all the trouble.
I was the 'picture-taker' in our family and I now look back on the photos from early vacations and I not only see the photos I took, I also remember the attitudes that were expressed during that time. Sometimes we were cranky and tired. Sometimes my husband and I were struggling with staying civil and sometimes we were just faking a smile to make it look good for the snapshot. I learned over the years that those pictures aren't priceless, they bear the marks of a 'forboding cloud' hovering over our vacations...and I needed to once again be the mom and get focused on why we were vacationing and what I could do to enhance our time together. Those photos are just a reminder to me to make sure that our vacations were about reconnecting and building GOOD memories and therefore a good family. If a photoshoot had to wait in order to fix some hurt feelings or if we missed a good shot because the rest of the family was tired and had enough, that became my measure of a priceless photo album. I can now look at my vacation albums and see how my family grew but I also can track and see how I grew and became a better mom and wife because I kept my expectations to a minimum and my 'wonder' to the max.
Vacations are necessary to reconnect and see each other in a different setting. They offer an opportunity to develop patience, encourage one another, love each other even when it's hard. It's a time to say I'm sorry quickly because the vacation has a deadline and you don't want to carry a grudge through all the fun times. Vacations are for memories. Vacations are to learn. Vacations can be a mountain top experience or a valley...but they always make coming home a time for reflection. Know why you are traveling with kids and then go and enjoy it!!

Thursday, June 21

On Vacation...

This past week, both Stacy and I were on vacation! Unfortunately, we didn't go together, but we will have good stories to share when she finally returns to town. She and Ryan are on a mission's trip and you will hear more of that later.
The rest of our family headed up North to enjoy the woods, biking, fishing and alot of relaxing! Just before we left, I was once again smitten with the dreaded question of 'why am I doing this?' Going on 'vacation' is just too much work to make it worth while, so... 'note to myself...don't plan another one!' I have this conversation with myself almost everytime I pack up to leave my home and work. I think that should be a clue that I really do NEED a vacation.
This week I took a break from work, study, routine and just about everything. I made it a priority to only relax and reconnect with each member of my family. We did have to cut our week short by a day because of work, but I can sit and type this posting with a smile on my face, knowing vacation did it's magic and I am once again ready to face the everyday demands with patience and enthusiasm. What I would really like to share in this posting is the big realization I had years ago when I had little ones around my ankles and I was trying to pull off the perfect vacation.
1. I learned there is no such thing as 'planning a perfect vacation'. Perfect vacations do happen...but they happen because I was open to letting things fall into place and I was not trying to control everything.
2. I learned that vacations are like 'life'! If I increased my 'wonder' factor and decreased my 'expectation' level, it would help me take in everything that came along with patience and intrique rather than disappointment and anger.
3. Like life, vacations go by quickly, so I have had to learn to be in the moment and enjoy the new sights, sounds, food, interruptions, 'plan B's' and all the rest in order to really experience my vacation to the fullest.
4. I have come to realize that when I am in Colorado (or wherever I may be vacationing), it is best to enjoy all that Colorado has to share. I may never get back there again. So too with life, enjoy where I am in life today, there are no 'do overs'!

Vacationing with kids? Well, I'll share my thoughts with you on that tomorrow....

Friday, June 15

A Family Favorite Father's Day Recipe

Everyone loves this, make it ahead of time so you can enjoy Father's Day yourself!

Peanut Buster Bar
1 pound pkg Oreo cookies --crushed
1/2 cup butter
1/2 gal ice cream
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 cup evaporated milk
2/3 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup spanish peanuts

Mix crumbs and butter. Pat in 9x13 pan. Save some crumbs for the top. Refrigerate one hour. Spoon ice cream over crust; pack well. Freeze. Combine sugar, evaporated milk, chips, and butter in saucepan. Boil 8 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add vanilla, cool. Sprinkle peanuts over ice cream and pour cooled sauce over. Keep frozen.
You better share this dessert with your family because you will be tempted to eat it all yourself.

Thursday, June 14

A Wise Woman Builds...

I leave in three days for a Missions Trip to the Dominican Republic. I am excited, anxious, nervous, and filled with anticipation of all I will see, do and experience.

While we are there, we are going to help build homes for families. Many of those we will encounter currently live in small, tin homes. We will work in the hot sun to build them a home with a solid roof, cement floor and wooden walls.

I look forward to doing that. But even more, I pray that I have the opportunity to share what it means to build a home as a wise woman. Would you join me in prayer that God would give me opportunities to share Proverbs 14:1? Because I know that it truly doesn't matter what kind of 'home' we live in, God calls us all to be wise in our building.

Wednesday, June 13

Here's a good thought to include in your Father's Day card...

I understand this article was translated from a Dutch magazine...families are quite similar no matter where you find them in this world:


4 years: My Daddy can do anything.
7 years: My Dad knows a lot, a whole lot.
8 years: My father doesn't know quite everything.
12years: Oh, well, naturally Father doesn't know that either.
14years: Father? Hopelessly old-fashioned.
21years: Oh, that man is out of date; what did you expect?
25years: He knows a little bit about it, but not much.
30years: Must find out what Dad thinks about it.
35years: A little patience; let's get Dad's meaning first
50years: What would Dad have thought about that?
60years: My Dad knew literally everything.
65years: I wish I could talk it over with Dad once more.

Tuesday, June 12

This was the goal

A friend just told me today her kids are driving her crazy! She has been doing a lot of single parenting lately as her husband works day and night during this busy season. She said, "I have to remind myself that this was the goal."

I responded, "Just because it was the goal, doesn't mean it's easy. Much like marriage - the dating, the courtship, the engagement, the wedding - the end goal was marriage. And sometimes marriage drives us crazy and we have to remind ourselves: this was the goal."

Whether we're talking about marriage or parenting, some days it's hard. Really hard.

What do we do on those days?

How about we try whispering a simple prayer.... "Remind me Lord that this was the goal."

Monday, June 11

So what about Father's Day?

I just finished reading the Sunday paper and noticed all the ads for Father’s Day. It reminded me of years past when I disregarded those ads when it came to giving my husband gifts for Father’s Day. I simply turned the page, thinking, ‘he’s not my father’ so I don’t need to get him a gift. What I came to discover over the years was that I daily needed to give him the gift of ‘being’ a father and allowing him to be all that God intended him to become. I don’t believe that is easy for any of us women. While we readily admit that our husbands aren’t our fathers, we often treat them like we are their mothers and there’s the rub!! By enabling his weaknesses and feeding his childishness we fail to see him for who he can become. Speaking to him like he is one of our children and having negative expectations of him will only be self-fulfilling and he will become stagnant in his quest to become the great father he could be. Just as we grow into being a better wife and mother ourselves, our husbands will grow into being a better person if we intentionally come along side him with wisdom and not demands. A few tips for you to ponder in relating to your husband this Father’s Day week:
1. Choose maturity for yourself. That will keep you busy and you won’t have time to nag your husband.
2. Praise him when he does step up to manhood…in whatever area that may be.
3. Believe in him, that he will become a man of integrity (Luke 1:37!)

Try it… I think your husband will think this is a much better ‘gift’ than a tie anyway!!

Friday, June 8

Summer fun

Do you dream about all the fun things you want to do this summer with your spouse or family?

My husband and I love to travel together and we are definitely doing that this summer. Near or far, we love visiting new places and creating memories together.

We also like creating summer memories right here in our own city...years ago we used to go to drive-in movies in the summer. Now we enjoy simply taking walks on a beautiful evening, eating on the patio of a new restaurant or going out for ice cream. Make a list today of activities you want to do this summer. List one idea for each week of the summer.

If you need some inspiration, check out this article by Marriage Partnership: Let Loose and Have Fun! Try these 36 ideas for a summertime connection.

Thursday, June 7

Your Child's Birthday...Priceless!

I heard on the news last weekend that a couple was spending $50,000 for their child's first birthday party! The reporter went on to tell about the full buffet that would be offered the adults, while the children could enjoy all the toys and rented equipment that would be brought in for the special day. I wish I could document who these folks were and where they were from, but I was blown away by the story and thought there would be a twist at the end saying it was all a joke. Not true, it went on to tell of other parents that were also spending huge amounts of money on their toddlers, so the children would look back some day and realize just how much mommy and daddy loved them! Excuse me, but what is their definition of love?!
Back when we were planning our children's birthday parties, we went by the simple formula of inviting one friend for every year that the child was celebrating. For example, if the child was one, we would have one friend over for a small party. At age two, there would be two friends, at three, three friends and that would continue as the child aged. It kept expectations within reason and that was about all our child could handle.
One fun tradition we did was to take a picture of our child at each birthday, sitting in approximately the same place each year. As a mere one year old, they could barely 'sit' in a huge overstuffed chair, but as they grew, they would sit tall and proud and assure us that they were one year closer to leaving the 'nest'. That's what birthdays are remember the miracle of birth and celebrate the wonder of tomorrow. That to me is priceless.

PS: Check out for other simple ideas for birthdays!

Wednesday, June 6

Fire up the grill!

My husband and I love to grill in the summer. It's easy cooking for me and quick kitchen clean-up! Plus it is fun for us to try new recipes together on the grill. Here are two of our favorite grilling recipes:

  • Actually Delicious Turkey Burgers
    • 3 pounds ground turkey
    • 1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
    • 1/4 cup finely diced onion
    • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
    • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (I use dried)
    • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
    1. In a large bowl, mix ground turkey, seasoned bread crumbs, onion, egg whites, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper. Form into 12 patties.
    2. Cook the patties in a medium skillet over medium heat, turning once, to an internal temperature of 180 degrees F. (We just make them on the grill. We also butter buns and place those on the grill to toast them. So tasty!)
    3. This makes a big recipe so if you're not serving a group, cut the recipe in half. Or make all the patties and freeze half of them for next week.

  • Pineapple Burgers
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 4 pineapple rings
  • 4 slices American cheese
  • BBQ sauce


1. Divide the ground beef into eight very thin patties. Place a pineapple ring and a slice of
cheese on one patty and place another patty on top. Seal the burger edges so that none of
the pineapple or cheese is showing. Spread on some BBQ sauce.

2. Place burgers on the grill, and cook for about 5 minutes per side, or until well done. Add more
BBQ sauce when serving....

Tuesday, June 5

My All-Time Favorite Activity for Young Kids...

It's June and everyone wants to be outside. If you have little kids, you know they have short a attention span and they jump from one activity to another, leaving you exhausted as you follow them around, encouraging them to put away one toy before moving on to the next. Well, grab your 'summer read' and sit down and enjoy yourself when you give your little ones 'my favorite activity'! All you need is an ice-cream bucket filled 1/2 full of water. Hand them a small paint brush (about 1 or 2 inches wide) and tell them to go 'paint the sidewalk, the garage door, the shed, a lamp post, etc.' You will be amazed how occupied this will keep them while you sit and enjoy a page or two in your book!! The fun thing is to see them go back and 're-paint' what they just painted as the water dries and they want to keep the 'new paint' look fresh. This 'fun' is for all has worked for young toddlers up to grade schoolers who just like to 'paint'!!
This will become your 'all-time favorite activity' as you see your kids' enthusiasm and realize that there is No Clean-up necessary!!
It's the good 'ol enjoy the outdoors with your kids!

Monday, June 4

A dear friend told me last night that she was praying for me. Her words touched my heart deeply. Just knowing that I have a friend lifting me in prayer encourages my soul and fills me with joy and gratitude. I have been praying for her as well and consider it a privilege to bring her requests and desires before the Lord.

If you are a mom with young ones at home you may feel that you have little time to spend with friends and few opportunities to bless those outside your home. I encourage you to view this season of life and your time at home as an incredible opportunity to pray for family and friends and whomever - or whatever - God lays on your heart.

As you go throughout your day...making breakfast, walking to the park, picking up the house...lift up your loved ones. Pray God gives them a word of encouragement that day, a sense of his peace or presence, that they would know they are loved.

Consider taping a note card to the front or back of the door of each room in your home. On the note card write a list of names. Every time you walk into that room choose one of those names to pray for.

Not only will you bless others immensely, but you too will be blessed!

Friday, June 1


If you are like me and you don't yet have children, from time to time you might find yourself thinking things like: "I'll start that when we have kids." Or, "That will be a good thing to put into practice when our family is larger."

It is so easy to put off a habit, activity, tradition or priority until sometime in the future when we are in a different season of life: when we get married, when we are married longer, when we have a baby, when we have older children, when we have more money, when we have more time.

If you're considering making some changes in your life with regards to setting aside time for the Sabbath, don't get caught in this 'mind-game trap' like I do.
There is no ideal time in the future to make changes.

Start today with your own habits, action and attitudes. Then someday, when you have a spouse, or a baby, or more children, or older children, you're life will already be patterned around the things that are important to you.