Tuesday Giveaway: Rest and Repine

**Congratulations to Carolyn who won the beautiful French rolling pin from Rest and Repine! Thanks, everyone, for your interest!**

[Editor's note: Please take care to COME BACK HERE and leave a comment AFTER you have "Liked" Chad's FB or IG feeds in order to be signed up for the giveaway. Thanks!]

I love this quote because it reminds me that even what I do as a writer is not simply telling about things as they appear, but it's about digging beneath the surface to reveal an inner beauty, a deeper meaning, that "inward significance" that Aristotle called it.

Dinner becomes more than just four or five people sitting around a table consuming food. It is a celebration among family and friends; it is a sharing of experiences; it is giving thanks. The stories we share are not merely journalism--a reporting of facts--but rather an exploration into lives well lived or sorrows endured or laughter shared.

True art does not merely represent, it tells a story.

Today I want to tell you a story about a friend I met several years ago. I think he was among the first group of college kids that Kate brought home her freshman year, and over their four years at Wheaton College, Chad remained part of that large group who attended countless meals, parties, and gatherings at our house.

What always impressed me about Chad was his joyful smile and his curiosity about others. I noticed that he often would take time to talk to a friend one-on-one as others were loudly joking in a group. I appreciated the way he took time to talk to B and me, asking questions and looking us in the eye, something unique among most college-aged kids. Chad is a kind, thoughtful people-person who has never met a stranger.

What Chad didn't know as he studied at Wheaton was that he was also an artist. Not until he graduated and a friend's uncle offered to teach him woodworking did Chad realize that he had a gift for taking a piece of wood and making it into something useful and special.


Chad learned the craft of woodworking quickly and began taking orders for small pieces of furniture, even outfitting the patio of one of my favorite local restaurants with tables. Local designers began to take notice of his work and started asking him to create pieces for their clients.


And Chad's business, Rest and Repine, was born.


Now Chad is launching his business as a full-time venture, hoping to create art that will last for decades. He envisions his furniture as pieces that will tell stories, hand-crafted works of art that can be passed down for generations.

For the past year as things have taken off, Chad has been borrowing his friend's equipment, but now he would like to purchase his own. In order to do that, Chad has launched a kickstarter campaign, hoping to raise $15,000. When you contribute, you will receive a piece of Chad's art as a thank you.



Looking for something a little bigger or more custom? Chad can do that! Just give him a call and he will work with you to design just the right piece for your family.


Good news! This week I am hosting a special giveaway of one of Chad's French rolling pins. This is a beautifully finished hardwood rolling pin that will last forever. I love it so much, but it will be yours if you win because you are my special readers.


Here's all you have to do to be entered: "Like" Rest and Repine on Facebook or Instagram, then come back and leave a comment here telling me you've done that. If you visit Chad's website or his Indigogo campaign page, you can tell me that in another comment as well.

I will leave the giveaway open through Sunday night and announce the winner on Monday.

Will you help spread the word? It only takes a second to share this on your own Facebook or Instagram page. I know a recent college grad would really appreciate the support.

(And if you'd like to follow me on Facebook or Instagram, or if you'd sign up for email updates, I'd appreciate it too.)

Thanks, friends!

Photo credits: 1|2|3|6 - Rest and Repine; 4|5|7 - mine

Trip Report: A Celebration of 30

A very good year!

Good morning, friends! 

I've been struggling all week trying to decide whether I should write about our most recent trip or not. With the events of this summer swirling around in my brain (racial tensions, elections, and abortion videos), it seems rather inconsequential to share happy pictures of far-away places with you. 

And, to be honest, there's always the "oh, you got to go to ______" comment that makes me more than uncomfortable. (To think that anyone would harbor one ounce of jealousy for my life makes me both uncomfortable and sad. Each of our lives are amazing--we must know that.)

But in the end, here I am. I've decided to post a few pictures for you in hopes that you will celebrate with me, because that's what this trip was about. 

In June, B and I celebrated 30 years of marriage. As we drove to dinner that night (June 1, just in case you're interested), B looked at me and simply said, "Thirty years!" We laughed heartily and agreed that thirty years felt like an accomplishment--that it WAS an accomplishment--and that the years of hard work and commitment deserved to be celebrated. 

We've celebrated big anniversaries before, but this was the biggest (and longest) celebration so far. It wasn't a trip we took lightly; we planned and planned for HOURS before we left. We incorporated meaningful events into the trip. And we traveled with people we love. 

I've written about travel quite a bit in this space, probably, first, because I inherited the "wanderlust" gene from my grandfather. But second, and more importantly, I write about travel because every time I travel I learn something about God. He opens my eyes in new ways that I wouldn't see if I didn't experience it for myself.

And this trip was no exception.

So, for the celebration element and the what-I-learned-about-God element, I've decided to share our trip. Please don't think I take any of this for granted or that I feel somehow entitled to trips like this. It's simply in my DNA to want to wander around this great big globe and see how other people live.

Our trip took almost 2 1/2 weeks and consisted of several parts.

Part 1: St. Andrews, Scotland

Our family is a golfing family, not so much in that we play it much (I haven't picked up a club in YEARS) but in that we love to watch it. And we have a couple of pretty good players in our family as well (shout out to my dad who plays his age and to my niece who is playing in an LPGA qualifying event this weekend). So, because we love golf and because we love St. Andrews and because we've done this a couple of times before, we simply had to start at the British Open.

B and me at the birthplace of golf.

My sister, Jenn, and her husband, Tom, got married the same year we did. We always travel with them for anniversaries.

Sorry about the fuzzy picture, but this helps explain what happened: 
For only the 2nd time in 144 years, the British Open did not end on Sunday. 
We missed the final round. :(

Part 2: Lucca, Italy

We wanted to spend some time in Tuscany, so we made our home base an apartment in Lucca. From there we took day trips to Cinque Terre, Florence, and the Chianti region. 

Lucca. We could not get enough of the quaintness and beauty of this town.

Corniglia, one of the five villages of the Cinque Terre.

Lovely Florence.

One of our best days was when we hired a driver to take us to three wineries in the Chianti region. This was the third and final stop of our day and, believe it or not, the most special. 
Yes, this is a winery. It is small. It is humble. But it produces some of the best Chianti wines around. 

This is Fernando who runs the Montefiorelli winery with his son. After our wonderful tasting in his vineyard, he grabbed two bottles of wine to give to each of us, then signed them in remembrance and celebration of our anniversaries. I'll never forget that day.

Part 3: Rome

We had to spend a few days in Rome, right? Let me just say that the history of the Romans is fascinating. And to walk in the same places that Peter or Paul may have walked was just mind-blowing to me. 

The Pantheon

The Coliseum. I was blown away by its grandeur.

Inside the Coliseum

Kate at the Roman Forum

This is Leonardo who is a church planter in Rome as well as a theologian, a seminary professor, and the head of the evangelical church in Italy. This sweet man took a day (his birthday, no less!) to show us some sights and to explain a bit about the Christian church in Rome. 

Kate flew in to meet us in Rome and to spend the second week with us. After a couple of days of overlap, Jenn and Tom flew home. Sad to say goodbye to them.

Part 4: Positano

First stop, Pompeii (with Mt. Vesuvio in the background). Such an interesting place!

This was the part of the trip when we rested up from the earlier part of the trip. We had been going non-stop for ten days and we were tired. The Amalfi Coast was the perfect place to rest. So beautiful.



So you might be wondering what I learned about God on this trip, since I said every trip teaches me something. 

This time I was so struck by the history of Rome and Pompeii, and I was reminded over and over again that even 2,000 years ago at the very start of the Christian church, there were people alive who lived in these places and who met together to discuss their faith. I could just picture the small house churches where the early Christians met together. I could almost taste their fear of persecution. And, despite all of the difficulties, I could sense their joy.

And it made me so grateful that these people did not give up believing, because here I am today, 2,000 years later, a beneficiary of their faith.

It struck me so much that God is in all of it. He was there in early Rome, in Pompeii, giving people His Holy Spirit so that they would believe in what had happened just across the sea a few years earlier. It struck me that God was there in ancient times, leading people to believe in Jesus, just as He is today.

We in America don't have the corner on Christianity--this is what I see whenever I travel. God has His people scattered all over the globe, and we will ultimately celebrate with every believer one day. This makes me excited for Heaven, for the day when all will be well--poverty will be eliminated, babies kept safe, and all of us looking to Jesus as our ultimate reward.

What to Do When Nothing’s As It Should Be

Summer hasn’t really been summer around here.

I mean, here we are in July—July!—and it’s only been in the 90s once and in the 80s a handful of times. Nearly every morning I awaken to clouds outside my window instead of crisp, blue summer skies. I find myself longing for those cloudless summer days, the ones that take your breath away and steal your heart forever.

This just isn’t one of those summers.

This morning, while doing an errand at a local store, I ran into an elderly woman from church. She’s a quiet woman, the epitome of what I’d imagine godliness to look like, yet even she acknowledged quietly, “It’s hard to not complain about the weather this year.”

Nothing’s as it should be.

Normally in the summer I read essays and plan for the coming school year. I think hard about my classes and try to come up with new ways to teach old lessons.

But this year is different. I’m not going back to work in the fall, and this, like the weather, has me disoriented. Many days I have wandered around my house, creating a made-up frenzy, only because I feel like I “should” be busy.

I’m a productivity person, I confessed to a friend the other day. I don’t feel like I’m contributing unless I’m producing, even if it’s just a bed I’ve made or a load of laundry I’ve folded. I keep moving throughout my day simply because I feel like I “should” be doing something. Anything.

So most of my summer has been spent keeping my hands busy and my heart distracted from the reality that has barely begun to set in—I’m not going back to work and my life, as I knew it, looks very, very different these days.


Twenty-one years ago at this time of year I had a newborn. With colic. From the day she turned two weeks old until the day she turned twelve weeks old, this dear girl cried and cried and cried. O.K., it wasn’t just crying (I’m trying to be nice about it here), that kid screamed her lungs out.

For ten weeks.

This was the day of the hand-crank swing—no fancy battery-operated baby swing for us—and it seems the only thing that would pacify this child was the swing, with a swing-limit of about ten minutes before someone would have to get up and crank her up again.

Even (and especially) in the middle of the night. I’d lay on the couch next to her swing, dozing for ten minutes until the swing slowed and she started screaming again, crank her up so she’d quiet herself, and sleep for another nine minutes until it would start all over again.

In the morning, I’d be so disoriented that I felt like I was walking through my day in a fog. I had very little energy for her sister, who was two, and I found I was dreading most of my days and nights. Life was a barely-hanging-on existence.

Until the exact day of her twelfth week when all of a sudden, just like that, she stopped crying. Maybe her insides caught up with her outsides. Maybe she was just sensitive to her new surroundings. I don’t know what happened, but just as many moms told me would happen, she suddenly stopped crying.

And what a blessed relief that was. A blessed, surprising relief.

If I had only known then that all I needed to do was to hang on, the waiting would have seemed so much easier. If I had only known that there was an end in sight and that the end would occur on the exact day of her twelve-week birthday, I might have been able to tell myself it would all be O.K.

But we don’t always know, do we?

If the weatherman could only give me a date when it would stop raining and start giving me blue skies, maybe I wouldn’t wake up in such a funk.

If I only knew when this “new” life without work would start feeling “normal,” maybe I could just stop tromping aimlessly around my house.

But maybe this not knowing is good for us, though, because it is in the not knowing when God teaches us all kinds of things. Like how to love our screaming babies or how to push through when our child is sick or we’re anxious and hurting or our faith is strained. Maybe this not knowing pushes us to lean into a God who does know, everything, and to trust Him more with the outcome.


Earlier this week I was struggling again with this needing-to-be-busy-but-feeling-disoriented attitude. I went into an exercise class feeling a little anxious about the week ahead, so before the class started I prayed, “God, I want to hear from you today. Please, Holy Spirit, speak to me before the end of class.”

I know. Weird. While I do usually pray in the quiet before class, I don’t usually pray that specifically for God to speak to me, but I felt like I needed to hear something from Him.

So class went on. I stretched. I sweated. I kept prayer at the forefront of my mind, but didn’t feel like I was hearing anything.

Finally, the cool down at the end of class came, and I prayed again, “Lord, I want to hear from you.”

And in just that moment the instructor turned on some quiet music. The song was one I had never heard before, although the singer’s voice was familiar. But the words!

Suddenly I was overcome and tears started to flow, because I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt, that this song was for me. It’s what God has wanted me to know in the midst all of this uncertainty.

Maybe it’s what He wants you to know, too.


“Be Still” by The Fray

Be still and know that I’m with you
Be still and know that I am here
Be still and know that I’m with you
Be still, be still, and know

When darkness comes upon you
And covers you with fear and shame
Be still and know that I’m with you
And I will say your name

If terror falls upon your bed
And sleep no longer comes
Remember all the words I said
Be still, be still, and know

And when you to through the valley
And the shadow comes down from the hill
If morning never comes to be
Be still, be still, be still

If you forget the way to go
And lose where you came from
If no one is standing beside you
Be still and know I am

Be still and know that I’m with you
Be still and know I am

Letters to My Daughters: God's Word

Dear Daughters,

From the day each of you was born, I felt a deep responsibility to prepare you for the world in which you will live. I’ve tried to model for you what I believed to be best for your life, but, on occasion (OK, many occasions), I have failed. Oh boy, have I failed. If you were to rely on me as your sole model and guide for your lives, you would be in a sad place indeed.

I know my failings, and yet, I also know God. I know that God, who loves you more than I ever could, who sacrificed His only son so that he could have a relationship with us, has given us the best guide for our lives: his word.

Now, I know that God’s word is sometimes confusing and hard to understand. I know that sometimes it says things we may not want to hear. But I also know that it has stood for thousands of years as a beacon of hope in a lost world. God’s word is perfect. God’s word is sure. God’s word is the only anchor we can hold on to in this stormy world. In it we not only read things we don’t get or maybe don’t like, but we also read things that bring us comfort. And every page of God’s word speaks of His great love for us.

Here’s what I want you to know, dear girls, as you walk through life and encounter various trials: God’s word, His love letter to us, never fails. People will fail you. I will fail you. Culture will fail you. But God’s word will never fail. It has endured because God Himself has made it endure, and it will continue to do so no matter what happens in our lives.

I’m ashamed to admit, girls, that I didn’t always believe it—I didn’t always trust that God’s word was enough. But years of living in this world and through various trials have shown me that God’s word is the only security I have. I’ve read it front to back a few times, and every time I see something new and every time it speaks to me in different ways. Sure, some things confuse me, but I keep digging, reaching further for understanding and insight into the God who loves me.

Girls, I have no idea what the future holds for you. I have no idea what the world will look like in 10, 20, even 50 years. What I do know is that God’s word has not and will never change. Oh, there are plenty of people who would like to change it, but they can’t, they won’t, succeed because God won’t let them. We can overlook the parts we don’t like and make cutesy, Pinteresty signs for the parts we do, but the fact remains: God’s word will never change. You can trust it. You can stake your life on it. 

I read something this week from a Christian Millennial: “Many of us are bucking the conventional thinking of the churches we grew up in, our parents, our [Christian] colleges. . . .” Just think about that! What is the “conventional thinking” that these Christian Millennials are bucking? It’s essentially the Bible. Basically this person is saying, “I’m rejecting the Bible and its teachings. I’m going my own way. What I think I know is better than what God has already told me.” When we get to that place, girls, we are on shaky ground indeed.

My darling daughters, I love you with every fiber of my being. I think you are amazing—every bit of you. I have always been astounded by your incredible minds--especially your minds--but do not ever be fooled into thinking you know more than God.

The days and years ahead will be interesting. The future will look very different for you and for your children than it has for me. Culture, even fellow Christians, may shake their fists at you, call you names, call you closed-minded. You may lose your job. You may be called to take an uncomfortable stand. Just make sure that you are standing on the Rock and that your foundation is based on God’s word.

Here’s what I think about the days ahead:

We don’t have to fight—we are called to love.

We don’t have to win—the war is already over.

We don’t have to rant or scream or cry—the work is finished. Our God, through Jesus, has done it.

Don’t worry. Don’t be afraid. Hold on to what is true. God's word will stand for you just as it has for generations before you.

Now, go out and LIVE.

I love you so,


"Letters to My Daughters" is an ongoing series around here. In case you're new (welcome!) or if you've missed one, a complete list of my letters is listed below. I'd love for you to check them out!

And if you like what you see, why not sign up for email updates? I'd sure love to have you join me on this adventure!

Letters to My Daughters: Introduction
Letters to My Daughters: Take a Stand
Letters to My Daughters: Letting Go
Letters to My Daughters: Pressure
Letters to My Daughters: Be a Giver
Letters to My Daughters: Persevere
Letters to My Daughters: Decisions
Letters to My Daughters: Sexual Purity
Letters to My Daughters: Choose Joy, Part 1
Letters to My Daughters: Choose Joy, Part 2
Letters to My Daughters: Ten Things

What Does Love Look Like?

I fell in love with Charleston the first time I set foot there, probably because it was so different from where I grew up and now live, the flat plains of the Midwest. I had never been to a place with such character, beauty, and history all wrapped up into one quaint package, complete with horse drawn carriages. I was enamored from the start.

We’ve been back many times since that first visit, and every time the city captures my affections. I can’t put my finger on it, but it’s gotten under my skin. It’s a place whose history I do not understand, but a place that seems to survive, to work, to persevere, despite that history.

So when I heard the news about Charleston yesterday, I was shocked—sickened and saddened for a place I have grown to love. I wondered how the people there could continue, how they would go on, how they would persevere amidst yet another tragedy in their cobblestone streets.

I don’t have the answers to my own questions. I don’t understand the history. I don’t know suffering that leads to perseverance like that. I just don’t know.

But I have ruminated these past 24 hours on what I do know, rolling these thoughts round and round until here they spill. Because I just can’t keep not saying things.

Our country is sick. In fact, sometimes I feel we are very near the flat line. The fighting, badgering, choosing sides, nit picking, yelling louder than the next guy, victimization . . . all of it . . . this sickness has seeped into our bones, and we are in desperate need of healing.

I have thoughts about the problems. I have thoughts about solutions. But those don’t matter today. (I’m not sure my little thoughts matter much ever.) What we need to acknowledge is that we are full of disease and in need of healing.

And all I know, these thoughts that keep turning themselves over and over, is that the antidote to all of the hatred is love. It sounds simplistic, I know, but I believe it to be true because that’s exactly who Jesus was and who He calls us to be.

So the question I keep asking myself today is how do I love those around me? How do I, just me, make a difference today by loving just a little bit better? What does this look like?

Love looks like listening. Do we jump to conclusions about others? Are we quick to make judgments? Maybe what we need to do is to slow down and listen, to hear from another viewpoint, and to learn what it is to walk in their shoes.

Jesus spent a lot of time listening, but not a lot of time finger pointing. He spent a lot of time healing once he learned what a person’s problem really was. But he always listened first.

Love looks like seeing. Here’s what I know: looking someone in the eye makes love grow. Sometimes, when I’m angry with my husband, I just can’t look him in the eye because I know that the minute I do the fight will be over. I will see love and feel it and all will be forgotten. (Yeah, I know. It’s a weakness.)

There is something about finding common ground with someone when you look them in the eye. You really begin to see them for who they really are and to appreciate the people God made them to be.

Jesus looked at people, closely. In the story of the bleeding woman in Matthew 9, Jesus turns to the woman who had touched the hem of his robe, “and seeing her,” scripture says, he healed her. This woman had probably not been seen, truly looked in the eye, in a long time before Jesus came along. But Jesus looked at her, saw her deep need, and healed her.

Love looks like reaching out. Do you need to make the first move today to restore a relationship? Do you need to pick up the phone or make an invitation in order to show someone you love them? Sometimes love is action.

Often, when Jesus healed people who had come to him, he touched them. A blind man’s eyes. A soldier’s ear. When Jesus saw injustice, he acted. When he saw need, he moved.

What do you need to actually DO today to show love to another person?

These stories of hatred in our country—on both sides of the racial divide—have sobered me these past months. I have cried out to God for understanding. I have prayed for peace. I want this to end and for us to truly see one another and to love.

These past three years, God had brought a very special young woman into my life who has taught me a lot about listening and seeing and reaching out. I can’t go into the details of her story or our relationship, but I can say that she has opened my eyes to things I did not, and still do not, understand.

What I have learned is that everyone has a story—we just have to listen.

What I have learned is that everyone has pain—we just have to see it.

What I have learned is that everyone has needs—we just have to reach out.
“But God showed his great love for us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Roman 5:8
Jesus did it. Why can’t we?

Let’s Talk About Plagiarism

I don’t write much about my classes or about being a professor or about my life at an academic institution. Some of that is because I’ve never been comfortable being called “Professor”-anything and some of that is because the stories from my classroom are just that—from my classroom and not from my “real” life.

Or something like that.

But today I want to tell you about a special book I use in my class every semester. It’s a little book (tiny, even) by NYT best-selling author Anna Quindlen called A Short Guideto a Happy Life. I like much of what Quindlen writes there—it’s practical, life advice—so I share bits of it during our brief devotional time at the beginning of class, followed up by a brief reading of scripture that corresponds to the day’s reading. Students tell me they like these devotionals, so I have kept doing it this way for several years now.

I’ve practically got Quindlen’s little book memorized. I know what’s coming next. I know what to emphasize and how to read the sentences out loud so that my students understand the meaning behind them. I recognize the cadence of Quindlen’s writing because it’s, well, Anna Quindlen.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I read a blog post this week, written by a twice-published author, with a paragraph that read very much like a paragraph from Quindlen’s book. The structure of each sentence was very nearly the same. The punchy, creative start to each sentence was exactly the same, even though the details of the sentences had been changed to fit this author’s circumstances. The length of the paragraph was very similar, too.

I sat up with a jolt. This is from Anna Quindlen! I thought. At first I thought it was clever—kind of how people use “If You Give a Moose a Muffin” and change it to fit their circumstances. At first I thought this author was genius.

But then I scanned the article, looking for any reference to Anna Quindlen. Anything at all. I didn’t expect a fully documented list of Works Cited at the end of the blog post, but even a simple nod to the original author would have made me feel better.


Not a word. Not a reference. Not even a, “Hey, I borrowed this paragraph from one of my favorite authors in the whole world.”


And then I felt a little sick to my stomach. Because this is a perfect example of plagiarism.

It’s not even the first example of it that I’ve seen THIS WEEK. Yep, I noticed another well-known blogger who plagiarized an idea but who, thankfully, got called out on it and corrected the mistake.

If you’re a writer, or a blogger, or if you ever have to write anything for work, you should know what plagiarism is. And you should avoid plagiarism like the plague.

Plagiarism occurs when a writer borrows words or ideas from another source and fails to either 1) place the borrowed words in quotation marks or 2) cite their source.

Did you notice that plagiarism does not just involve lifting words directly from another source? It also involves borrowing ideas without giving credit, and that’s what I saw this week. Using the same construction of sentences or the same type of paragraph constitutes borrowing an idea. And that’s plagiarism.

The twice-published author was probably thinking, So what’s the big deal? Anna Quindlen doesn’t read my blog. She’ll never find out.

While that may be true (Anna, if you ever read my blog would you please just leave me a comment and say hello? You will make my day. My year, even!), it’s not just Anna Quindlen that you’re hurting here. You’re hurting yourself, because forevermore you will be, in my mind, a plagiarizer.

The MLA Handbook, which is the guidebook for all things documentation, says that plagiarism constitutes intellectual theft and fraud. And who wants to be known as a thief and a liar? Not me!

Here’s another reason plagiarism is a big deal—it’s a story I tell my students every semester. When I was in college, the student body president wrote an article for our school newspaper. A few weeks later it came out that said student body president had plagiarized much of the article. He came forward, acknowledged his plagiarism, and retracted the article.

Yes, it happened over 30 years ago. But you know what? When my friends and I get together for reunions, sometimes we reminisce about the good old days, and sometimes, not very often, but sometimes, this guy’s name comes up. I can guarantee you that every time—not just sometimes—his name is mentioned, someone says, “Oh yeah, isn’t that the guy who plagiarized the article in the student newspaper?”

And it's not just writers who do it. Artists, musicians, creatives of every stripe fall prey to the temptation to plagiarize. But how would you like it if you slaved, suffered, sweat over the creation of a masterpiece, only to have someone grab it and claim it as their own?

I promise, you wouldn't like it at all.

Here’s my point: your integrity matters. Not just as a writer, but as a person. It might not seem like a big deal to you (after all, who will know?), but once you’re caught in an act of plagiarism, you might as well have a big old scarlet “P” emblazoned on your chest. It’s not going away.

I tell my students that the immediate consequence of plagiarism is a failing paper. If the practice continues it could mean failing the class. If the behavior isn’t controlled and you become a serial plagiarizer, it might one day mean losing your job.

It will always mean losing your credibility.

And nothing, not even a pithy phrase from an obscure book that hardly anyone has probably read or heard about, is worth that. 

OK, I know this isn't a subject anyone really cares about, but hopefully it will make you think about how you use someone else's words. 

I'd love to know your thoughts on the matter. Leave me a comment!

Have a Beautiful Day! You Deserve It!

I just needed a stamp. In fact, half of a stamp was really all I needed. I wanted to mail a square envelope, and, you know, the Postmaster General would like to charge me extra for the square-ness of my envelope, so I needed a little extra postage.

My own post office was busy, crowded as usual, and the automatic stamp dispenser machine was out of order (of course), so, impatient person that I am, I left. I had errands to do in the neighboring town anyway, so I thought I’d stop at their smaller post office to quickly buy my stamp.

As soon as I walked in the door of the smaller post office my irritation level began to rise. Three people already stood in line and only one person seemed to be working there.

One very talkative person.

I took a deep breath and found my place at the back of the line. My card wasn’t going to get mailed unless I put myself through this torture and simply waited.

As the first woman stood at the window mailing her package, stroller in tow, I listened to her chatting away with the clerk. Couldn’t she just hurry this up? I thought. Don’t they know people have better things to do than stand in line at the post office?

But as I stood there I couldn’t help noticing my surroundings. The post office was old, with cool stone floors, the kind you’d like to lay face down on on a hot summer day, and wood paneling surrounding the old clerks windows. I could see a faint trace of the words “Parcel Post” beneath the rubbed off surface above one of the windows, reminding me of a day when the pace of life was slower, more deliberate.

The first woman finished her transaction and headed outside with her stroller, and the second woman in line stepped up to the clerk. I noticed his cheerful greeting and her cheerful response.

The man in front of me, I saw, was old with thinning gray hair and a rumpled black jacket. He looked like he had a hard time walking because he was leaning hard on a counter behind us. He took a couple of deep breaths and seemed as irritated as I felt inside.

Who has time for this? I wondered. Good grief! Let’s stop the chit-chat and move along!

By now I began to notice the clerk at the window. How his eyes had deep laugh lines around them. How he seemed to really enjoy talking to his customers. Did he have a hint of an accent?

I began to wonder how he became a postal clerk. Was it a good job? Did he like coming to work? How long had he been here?

Finally, finally, he finished with the second woman in line and the old man in front of me shuffled to the counter. He grunted a muffled hello and handed a package to the clerk, whom, by now, I noticed was probably in his early 60s.

“Good morning! Is this all you have?” the clerk asked. “You didn’t have to wait in that line! You could have just handed it over to me.” His voice was cheerful, not one bit dissuaded by the grumpy old man’s demeanor. In fact, I’m not even sure he noticed the man’s grumpy exterior at all.

He continued, looking straight into the old man’s eyes, “Are you having a beautiful day today, sir? Because you deserve to have a beautiful day.”

Did he really just say that? To another man? I found myself chucking silently.

The old man mumbled something, then laughed. Smiled, even.

So did I.

The clerk went on chatting, something about Spanish. “Do you speak Spanish?” he asked.

The old man replied, in Spanish, “Un poquito.” And then said something else in Spanish that I didn’t recognize.

The clerk had gotten him! “I’d say you speak more than ‘un poquito’ Spanish! You do very well!” Another compliment lobbed the old man’s way.

And finally, a grin, wide and toothy. The clerk’s work here was done.

The man took his receipt and said good bye. “Have a great day!” shouted the clerk after him.

By now I had waited probably a full five minutes and I knew something about this clerk. He was an immigrant from somewhere, based on the deep lines in his face (just like my German grandfather’s) and the trace of an accent. He was well educated.

And he made it his mission in life to make every encounter with every person at his window a positive one.

I couldn’t wait for my turn!

I stepped up and asked for the proper stamp. Twenty-one cents. That’s all I needed, but I got so much more. We chatted about a famous Croatian (ah ha!) author whom he had read, then about Abraham Lincoln (“Did you know he worked in as a Postmaster?”), which led to a discussion of New Salem and Springfield.

By the time I left the post office, my day was made.

I smiled as I headed to my car and thought about the man I had just encountered. How rare for a person, any person, to take the time to see each customer as a human being with likes and interests and passions. How rare for a postal clerk to act as if he truly loved his job. How rare for a man to ask another man if he was having a beautiful day and then to tell him he deserved it.

How rare for a human being to show such deliberate kindness to another in this day and age.

His kindness, his goodness, made me stop and think. Do I really take the time to make sure every encounter I have with another human is a positive one? How often do I really look into another’s eyes and see what’s there? How might I make sure that the people around me feel special just because they really are?

The postal clerk blessed me that day by showing me that slowing down matters. Looking people in the eye makes a difference. And a little kindness goes a long way.

Are you having a beautiful day? You should! Because you deserve it.

Do Something. Bring Justice. Help Iraq.

I was going to write something today about leaving work. Or about how worried I am about my daughters who are on a trip together. Or about life here in the suburbs.

But I’m sitting in a coffee shop that employs third culture kids as a ministry, and I’m thinking about how difficult it must be for them to be away from home, to be away from their parents for sometimes years at a time while they come here for an education. That’s hard.

My leaving my job isn’t that hard. It’s a little hard, but it was my decision. Completely under my control.

My concerns for my kids are just that—concerns, not true, outright fears. They will be fine.

My life? Couldn’t be cushier.

So I’m sitting here sipping my tea and listening to music and enjoying my suburban life when I read this. And this. And this from Ann Voskamp.

Suddenly, writing about my cushy life seems thoroughly unimportant. Insignificant, even. Almost bordering on sinful, if I’m honest.

Last month, Ann went to Iraq, despite her father’s pleadings and her children’s fears. She needed to see for herself what was going on, and, oh boy, did she report.

Let me tell you, CNN’s got nothing on Ann Voskamp. In fact, if you listen to the news these days you get a picture of some savages running around the Middle East, cutting off a few heads, and generally running amok. Oh yeah, and kidnapping girls. Hundreds at a time.

But CNN and Fox and ABC and all the others seem to report and rarely follow up. I’ve found myself wondering, “What happened to those 300 girls?” Hardly a word. We did hear last week that some girls were released, but were they the 300 we heard about a few months ago or were they others? We don’t know.

And now that ISIS is spreading throughout the region, running faster with their swords wielded, do the news outlets tell us what’s happening to families? Maybe a word here and there, but nothing in depth.

So Ann went to see for herself. And she reported back. In depth.

Girls? Well, the situation for girls in the Middle East isn’t so good. Rape, torture, trafficking—these are real things. Girls as young as nine. years. old. are having babies just so Islamist extremists (and that’s exactly what they are, Mr. President) can progenate and continue their horrors.

Education? If you’re being raped and having babies at a young age, the hope of another life, a better life through education, is pretty much gone. When you’re on the run for your life you pretty much can’t think about school.

Families? Fathers and sons are being shot at a frightening pace; girls are safe, for now. They are needed. For now. But families are being torn apart, either because of death, violence, or terrible choices that have to be made by parents.

Years ago I read Night by Eli Weisel. In this very moving book, Weisel describes the choices that he watched as train cars crammed with Jews were loaded up and taken to concentration camps. Sometimes the cars would be so full that mothers had to leave children behind, never sure whether they would see their babies again. The pain and fear were palpable.

What I read this morning on Ann’s blog reminded me so much of Weisel’s book, and I found myself wondering, Could this be happening again? Silly question—it IS happening again. Only the dictator, the one running the show, isn’t one insane person—it’s a movement of evil forces like a wind blowing hard across the region. It’s a spiritual fight.

Friends, I don’t know why I’m writing this—I’m not an activist. But when I read Ann’s words this morning I was captivated, so moved that I had to do something. Maybe this is just a start. Who knows? Maybe just letting you know that this thing that gets about a minute and thirty seconds on the news at night is much bigger than we can even imagine is enough. If even one person reads this and starts praying, maybe that’s enough.

Here’s what I know. Earlier this week on an average Tuesday I read these words and stopped. And I read them again. And again. And I was so convicted.
“The LORD looked and was displeased to find there was no justice. He was amazed to see that no one intervened to help the oppressed.” Isaiah 59:15-16.

There is was, right in front of my eyes. And in my heart. What have I done for the oppressed? What will I do?

What will you do?

I often feel helpless. I don’t know the needs. But now I do, and I must do something because God will hold me accountable.

My cushy life here means nothing—nothing—if I’m not using what I have to help the oppressed. Here we are, confronted with our generation’s holocaust. What will we do? How will we fight?

How to Teach Your Kids About Money When You Don't Have a Clue :: Part 6 - The Launching Years

One year ago this week our oldest graduated from college. She had already been offered a job. Soon after that, she moved into an apartment with some friends from college. She bought her first car. 

This past week, our middle graduated from college. Soon that daughter will begin applying to graduate schools and all that that kind of life entails. She's taking a gap year, so her life post-college will look a little different from her sister's.

Can I just say that this is all happening so fast! Too fast! 

I woke up on Monday morning, and the first thing that came to my mind was, "How do I already have two college graduates?"

If you've been following along in this series, undoubtedly some posts made more of an impact on you than others, depending on the ages of your children. But can I just tell you right now that you should really go back and read all of these posts carefully because before you know it, it will be the Monday morning after graduation and you'll be wondering, just like me, where the years went?

* brief interlude while I choke back sobs *

As I said when I started this series, I really didn’t have a clue how to teach my kids about money. I still don’t know much, but I have learned a few things along the way.

From the outset, my husband and I had a conviction that it would be important for our kids to know something about handling money—that their futures would be healthier (and, yes, maybe a little happier) if they learned how to control money rather than letting money control them.

So we made it a priority to teach them some things.

And that saving money for the future should take precedence over buying what you want right now.

And that it’s OK to spend money as long as you don’t go into debt to get what you want.

Today is the last post in this series, but it doesn’t mean I won’t write about kids and money any more. That’s because the conversation shouldn’t end. Just like other discussions with our kids that are ongoing, our talks about money should continue as well.

So let’s assume your oldest child has graduated from college. She has landed a job, secured an apartment, and bought a car (a used car for which she paid cash). Things are looking pretty good for your child, and you’re feeling pretty proud of her.

You might say your job is done, right?  Your child is launched, ready to go out and tackle this great big world. Right?

In many respects, yes. Your child has many of the necessary tools to make it in this world—a job, a home, a mode of transportation.

But does your child have the financial skills that are necessary in this complicated world? Have you talked about budgeting? Insurance? 401(k) plans? These are all important decisions that your child will need to make when they start their first job.

Maybe you’re really feeling out of your depth here—I know I am. I mean, I can handle the three jars—giving, saving, and spending—but to tell my daughters how to save in their 401(k)? Um, no.

Except to tell them that they should do it. From Day 1.

Here’s where you might want to suggest a little help to your child. There are millions of financial help books out there—suggest that your child read one or two. Here are a few you (or your kid) might find interesting:

The Millionaire Next Door, Thomas J. Stanley

Financial planners are now creating plans for recent college grads, often at a much lower fee than their usual customers. A financial planner will really get him or her to start thinking about their overall financial picture in a way that parents might not. Besides, your child might take advice from a third party more readily than he might from his parents. (*wink wink*)

Think of the year or two post-college as the launching years. The letting go years. Years that might be some of the hardest of all, but years that are so important.

Even as you begin to launch your formerly little person, you have to realize a few things:

1. Your child is no longer “little” and should not be treated as such. If they have a job, they have an income and, hopefully, a budget. Yes, that budget may be tight, but it’s not your job to bail them out and buy their groceries for them. Co-dependence is not attractive.

2. Your child might make some decisions you don’t like, even financial ones. But guess what? It’s not your business (or problem) anymore. If your son wants that brand new Corvette, and, assuming you’ve giving him some good financial principles (i.e. "debt is not your friend"), then bite your tongue and don’t get involved.

3. Your opinion doesn’t count any more. Unless you are asked, you can probably assume your child doesn’t really need or want your financial counsel. As I’ve said, the conversations about money should continue, but your opinion about how your child spends what they have earned is moot. You’ve laid the good foundation; it’s time now to trust their judgment.

4. Letting go of their financial future might be one of the hardest things you are called to do as a parent, but do it anyway. Nobody wants to see their kids struggle—in any area—but sometimes struggle is what makes them stronger.

Remember when you were first out of school? Maybe married? In grad school? Perhaps with a kid on the way? Remember how tight finances were? Me too. But B and I always say that those were some good, good days. Don’t deny your child the opportunity to struggle. It might be in that struggle that they learn to rely on the Lord even more.

And isn’t that what it’s all about anyway?


A few weeks ago B had the opportunity to share some financial principles with some soon-to-be-college grads. The ten financial principles he shared with them were so good that I asked his permission to share them here. Hopefully these will help as you launch your own children into this world.

Ten Personal Finance Principles 
1. All resources belong to God – Don’t wait to give.
2. Save 10%, Give 10%, and spend the rest with joy and thanksgiving.
3. Make debt go away as quickly as possible. It’s not just a monthly payment, it’s a dream killer.
4. Keep student loan debt in check relative to your future income (8% of income).
5. Build an emergency fund as quickly as possible (3-6 months expenses).
6. Take advantage of your company’s 405(k) plan (at least enough to take full advantage of the company match).
7. Spend less than you earn over a long period of time.
8. Two can live as cheaply as one – get a roommate.
9. Don’t buy a new car unless you can pay cash for it (used cars are much more affordable).
10. Grocery stores are cheaper than restaurants.


I sure hope you’ve enjoyed this series as much as I have. I really believe that aside from their spiritual growth, our kids’ financial understanding is one of the most important lessons we can teach them. Thanks for joining me on this journey!

So now, tell me . . . what is one financial lesson you will take away from this series?

Other posts in this HTTYKAMWYDHAC series:

How to Teach Your Kids About Money When You Don't Have a Clue :: Part 5 - The College Years

Once upon a time there was a young family with three little girls. Dad worked long hours growing his career in banking; Mom worked part-time as a college professor and stayed home with the girls. Their expenses were many. Their budget was tight.

Taking three girls to the grocery store was stressful because not only were groceries expensive, they also had to pass the Barbie sticker books at the check out. These sticker books lured children in with their shiny pink cover and simple drawings of Barbie princesses.  Hours of fun were promised inside the pages of the beloved Barbie sticker book.

The catch, however, was that the stickers were sold separately in packets, kind of like baseball cards. Inevitably at check out (the most stressful time for moms on a tight budget, am I right?) someone would cry out, “Mommy, can we get some Barbie stickers? Pleeeaaassse?

“Mommy” would, at that moment, have to decide whether to exercise extreme discipline or to cave and buy the stickers. It was a constant battle. Was she helping her kids see the value of the stickers in any way when she just coughed up the money to buy them without a thought? Was she just being mean when she didn’t pay the extra $.50 to buy the stickers?

An inner (and outer!) struggle ensued every time they ventured to the store.

Eventually the struggle subsided because the family started a little allowance program involving three jars. Once the “Spending” jar got some money in it, the girls finally had some money to buy their own beloved Barbie stickers.

And Mommy finally got some peace.


Sort of.

The story of teaching our girls the value of a dollar is much longer and harder than that, but this is just an early example of how we started teaching our kids about money. Little trinkets, like Barbie stickers, were paid with quarters that had started to add up in a jar, and the girls started learning how to pay for things by themselves.


Soon these little girls grew up (too soon, might I add?). They started thinking about college, as did their parents.

Even though college was an expectation for our daughters, we wanted them to know the value of their education, just like the Barbie stickers. Granted, a college education is something much more valuable, but the principle is still the same. Kids have to have some “skin in the game” so that they don’t merely throw away the most valuable and expensive four years of their lives.

A Note about Planning

Obviously, B and I had planned for our kids’ college fund from pretty much the first day that each of our girls was born. For us, paying for our kids’ college education was a priority, so we started saving early.

Now, I understand that others have different thoughts about paying for college, and I’ve seen it done successfully in many other ways than what we did. We have friends who are making their kids pay for one full year of college, no matter what, and these kids have done a fantastic job of creating business opportunities for themselves from an early age so they could save money for college. Others opt for community college for the first two years. Still other rely on loans and scholarships and are grateful for the help. Most of us work with a combination of these options.

Every family’s situation is different and that’s O.K. The point is that you have to decide early on how you are going to handle paying for college if college is an option for your kids. Whatever you do, DO NOT wait until their senior year to figure it out. By then it’s way too late.


O.K., back to our expectations for our kids. As I said, paying for our girls’ college education was a major financial priority for us, so we started saving early. But we wanted the girls to also value the (incredible, amazing, startling, . . .) high cost of their education as well, so they had to contribute something.

Throughout their college years we continued to give them an allowance for their necessities—clothing, entertainment, etc.—but, as I mentioned last time, it wasn’t much. They still needed to work in order to buy the things they wanted.

We also expected our girls to pay for their books, which has taught them some very creative ways of obtaining their outrageously expensive textbooks (some cost over $200!). Just ask any college student and they will tell you the cheapest ways to find books, and it probably isn’t the college bookstore.

We had other expectations, too. One is that we would pay for four years of an undergraduate education, but not graduate school. That is up to them. Again, creative financing will come into play here.

A second expectation is that this undergraduate education is meant to prepare them for real life (i.e. a job) and that, unless some extraordinary circumstances became clear, they should be able to live independently upon graduation. Enough said about that.

As I said earlier, everyone does the paying-for-college thing differently, and expectations for what happens after college vary as well. My point is that you can’t make these decisions or set these expectations during your child’s senior year of high school. Talk to your kids about college very early in their life. If higher education is an expectation in your family, set that expectation early on. If you will contribute something to their education, or even if you can’t, let your kids know that as well.

Talk to your kids about college and how it will be financed. Talk to your kids about life after college and what you expect from them then. Just talk to your kids so they don’t feel blindsided when the day comes and you haven’t prepared them for the financial realities. Talk to them so that they understand that a college education is something of great value and should not be taken for granted.

Is it scary to think about life after college? Yes, sometimes it is. Sometimes you wonder if your child will be able to make it out there. But here’s what I’ve learned: the world isn’t such a big, bad, scary place. There are people out there who want to see your kid succeed. There is a place for them.

We just have to let them go and give it a try.

Next week I’ll wrap up this series about money by talking about letting our kids be financially independent. But I’d really love to know your thoughts and/or questions. Leave me a comment!

Other posts in my How to Teach Your Kids About Money . . . series:

When It Really Is the First Day of the Rest of Your Life

The building where I worked is over a century old. Massive limestone blocks form its rugged exterior—a façade from another time.

Everyone says it looks like a castle, but to me it felt more like a fortress.

I’d arrive in the early morning, one of the first to enter the building, to prepare for my classes. Sunlight streaming through tall windows always caught my attention, stirred my creativity, and reminded me that I was not alone in this solitary venture.

This fortress was, for me, a place of safety, but also a place of battle. A place where some students struggled to put words to ideas and others struggled simply to find their place.

It was a place where I, too, struggled to make sure every class was “just right,” and a place where I struggled not to beat myself up too much when that didn’t happen.

Yesterday I went to class, gave an exam, told my students to have a good summer, and left the beautiful, old limestone building for good.

(OK, not really for good. I still have to clean out my office.)

What has felt like a solid fortress for me suddenly offered no protection, and I walked out, alone. I made my way slowly to my car, sniffed the heavy perfume of the flowering trees, and asked the Lord, “Now what?”

“These are my people, Lord. This is my place. This is what I do. What’s next?”

I thought back over the past four years—four years that I could never imagine would happen after I left teaching the first time. 

Four years. Over 200 students. Countless laughs. Innumerable conversations. Too many papers. Abundant blessings.

The past four years have been some of the richest, most rewarding, most fulfilling and confidence-building years of my life. They have also been some of the challenging, bracing, and confidence-destroying years of my life.

To say that I have found a sense of worth, calling, and identity as a professor would be an understatement.

And yet, this is not where my worth, calling, and identity lie.

I’m leaving the fortress, unsure of what’s next. I don’t know where I’m going. I don’t know what God will call me to. But I do know this: that I am trying my best to ask the right questions, to seek the right answers, and to be obedient in my calling. 

I trust God to take care of the rest.

The phrase “This is the first day of the rest of your life” keeps going through my head today. 

Probably because it is.

How to Teach Your Kids About Money When You Don’t Have a Clue: Part 4 – The High School Years

I am loving this series, you guys! I’m having so much fun with it, and I’m getting awesome feedback from you. Thanks for stopping me at church, at work, and at the grocery store (!) to ask questions about kids and money. So fun! Keep those questions and comments coming!


So far we’ve talked about giving, we’ve talked about saving, and today we finally get to the fun stuff: spending.

Sure, sounds like fun in theory, but in real life the road to learning the value of a dollar is not always smooth.

Take, for instance, one family vacation when our girls were fairly young. B and I decided that in order to eliminate the “may I have some money for this ridiculous thing I don’t need?” problem, we would give each girl $10 for the week to spend in any way they wanted. We talked about this ahead of time and decided that we wouldn’t make judgments about what they bought, nor would we interfere with their purchase. We would just give them the money as a gift to use as they wanted.

Around the second day of vacation we strolled into a shop and Kate saw the toy of her heart’s desire—something she’d always wanted!, except that she had never seen these before: some teeny-tiny rubber duckies, all dressed up in various costumes. Hear me: these rubber duckies were tiny—miniscule, even. You could barely even see one if you held it in the palm of your hand.

All for the low-low cost of $2 each.

“I want to buy these with my money!” Kate quickly decided while I inwardly cringed.

I tried to question her, to get her to see that as soon as she spent her money it would be gone; it was, after all, only the second day, and if she saw something she liked better later in the week she wouldn’t be able to buy it. I tried not to judge, but really? Little duckies? She’d get them back to our condo and play with them for approximately 5.2 seconds before getting bored with them.

I could see the firestorm a’brewing.

My determined daughter, however, would not be deterred. She promptly plopped down $8 for four itsy-bitsy rubber duckies.

And immediately regretted it.

We didn’t even make it back to the condo before buyer’s remorse set in.

“I think I made a mistake.”

“These ducks are so dumb.”

“Can we take them back?!”

Nope. There was no going back. And there was almost no money left.

It took every ounce of determination we had not to laugh.

Today, though? We all laugh about those silly rubber duckies. In fact, one still sits in the windowsill above my desk as a reminder of that vacation, that situation, and that obstinate kid. (How I love her!)


As you can see, we started teaching our kids about spending money—both the right AND wrong ways to do it—long before high school. But high school brought big changes and more responsibility with money.

One big change was the cell phone situation. We didn’t allow our girls to have cell phones before high school (we’re the mean parents, remember?) for lots of reasons that would take another blog post of its own. Suffice it to say, they really didn’t need it before then.

But with high school came more activities and more chances to need a parent, so we said, “OK, you can get a cell phone. But there’s a catch: you have to pay for it.”

Yes, you heard me right. Our girls pay for their portion of the phone bill each month. A non-smart phone only costs about $10-$15 on our plan, but a smart phone will set you back about $45 a month, so they had a choice: not-cool phone or cool phone? It was up to them.

How were they supposed to get the money to pay for said not-cool phone? We gave them an allowance.

Now, if you’re a Dave Ramsey fan, you’ll have to forgive me for what you’re about to read. If I’m not mistaken, Dave believes that allowances should be tied to chores, and this is where Dave and I part ways. B and I decided not to take that angle because 1) our kids are a part of this family and should do the chores we ask them to whether or not they are getting paid for it, and 2) see number 1.

So, at the beginning of high school, we sat down with each child and explained the Wildman Way with them. They would get a set amount of money (that B and I had determined should be fair and adequate) twice a month (pay day, get it?). From that money, they were expected to tithe, pay a bill (cell phone), buy all of their clothes, and pay for their entertainment (going out with friends, the occasional Starbucks run, that kind of thing).

And trust me, it wasn’t a huge sum of money. Budgeting and tough decisions would be required.

We still shelled out for the bigger ticket items—shoes, coats, special occasions, etc—but the basic, day-to-day wardrobe purchases were their responsibility.

This plan has worked for our family for so many reasons. 

1. They learned to wait for that “paycheck.” There were no cash advances in our house. The girls got paid when we got paid, so if they didn’t have the money at the moment they wanted to buy something, they’d have to wait.

2. They learned how to pay a bill. Sure, they were paying us for their cell phone bill, but still, payment was (and still is) expected. And because they know the bill is coming every month, they have to budget for it.

3. Rather than going shopping with Mom and expecting me to pay for the things they wanted, regardless of the cost, having to buy their own clothes forced our girls to actually pay attention to the prices of things. They had to weigh the options: $85 jeans at a department store or wait for the $15 jean sale at Old Navy? It’s up to them to decide.

4. This whole plan takes out the “can I have five bucks for ice cream?” scenario. If someone wanted to go out with friends, they knew they’d have to come up with the money—they didn’t even bother asking us for it. It also helped us avoid the “can I get this top?” problem when we were out shopping (see #3). I could simply ask, “Do you have the money for it?”

5. They learned the value of hard work. If the girls felt like they didn’t have enough money, they got a job. All three have had jobs since they were about 15, if not earlier. Some babysat, one scooped ice cream and later worked at the public library, but the idea is that they have to work for what they want. Welcome to real life, kiddos.

6. They figured out their own scale of needs vs. desires (this also sort of relates to #3). Some of my kids like "nicer" things and are willing to save for them, buying fewer items of greater cost. Some are happy shopping Target. It really doesn’t matter in the end. What they are learning is that everyone makes purchasing choices, and everyone is entitled to make the choice they want as long as they have the money to pay for it. (Because, remember? Debt is not our friend.)

You’re probably wondering if there were any drawbacks to our plan. I honestly can’t think of any except the ache in my own heart when I wanted to cave in and buy something when I knew I should let them learn the hard lesson. It’s tough to be a parent sometimes, especially when you feel like the “mean” parent. And it’s hard to watch your kids make mistakes with money.

But here’s the thing: these principles will be learned at one time or another over the course of a person’s life. Isn’t it better for them to make small mistakes with money while they’re still under our roof than when they are out on their own? The consequences only get bigger the older we get.

It takes nerves of steel to do this, parents. Trust me. More than once I have wanted to bail out my kids, slip them a $20, or let things slide. I have wondered a thousand times if we’re being too hard on them by making them pay for their phone bill. (Nobody I know does this!) I wonder if someday they are going to look back on all of this and resent the heck out of us for being so rigid about money.

But you know what? Now that I have a grown up kids, I’m starting to see the rewards of all of this. I’ll share some of those rewards at the end of this series.

Now YOU tell ME. What has this series made you think about in terms of how you’re teaching your own kids about money? Anything you need to change? What’s working at your house? I’d love to know!
Other posts in this HTTYKAMWYDHAC series (Gosh, that’s a long title!):

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How to Teach Your Kids About Money When You Don't Have a Clue * Part 3: The Middle Years

“One for God. One for Saving. 
Two for spending.”

I can’t tell you how many times we’ve said that phrase over the past 18 years or so. Last week I shared with you our first principle of teaching kids about money: Giving. This week I want to share how we started teaching our kids the value of a dollar through saving.

First, remember the jars? (How could you forget? Pretty soon you’ll be saying the mantra in your sleep! You can thank me later.) As I mentioned last week, the God jar usually sat empty because as soon as there was a quarter put in it, the girls would take their money to church and give it.

The saving jar, however, started to gather coins, which was a good visual for our girls of what happens when we save our money—it grows. In fact, if we kept collecting, one day the jar would overflow, which would be a very good thing. Eventually each child got a savings account at our local credit union, which is where their collected quarters would go.

But what could they possibly be saving for at such a young age, you ask? Well, a couple of things.

First, college is an expectation in our house, and we told our girls from the outset that they would have to help with the cost of college by paying for their books, clothing, and any entertainment-type expenses, including eating out. We took care of tuition, room, and board (which, by the way, required planning and saving on our part). So very early on, the girls started putting money aside for college.

Second, we really wanted them to learn to save for what they wanted. It’s a concept called “delayed gratification” and it’s pretty important. Some adults I know should try it.

(I jest.)

(Sort of.)

Anyway, the delayed gratification concept is so important that the earlier kids learn it the better. We parents have to save for what we want, don’t we? Especially with the bigger-ticket items (cars, houses, furniture—you name it), we have to think about it, decide what’s most important (new car vs. used car, for instance), and save for it.

Let me say here that we also taught our girls that debt is not their friend. In fact, debt isn’t anyone’s friend. Debt is like that popular kid in school who promises the reward of happiness and satisfaction if we agree to hang out with them (instant gratification), but who will drop you like a hot potato as soon as someone better, cooler, or cuter comes along. Stay away from debt.

(And also? Probably stay away from that popular kid, too.)

You’re probably, at this point, asking another question: what could a kid that age possibly want that would require saving that much money? And I answer: it doesn’t matter. Any amount of saving, as long as it requires planning and waiting, is good. It could be that American Girl doll that she’s been drooling over, even though she already has one. Or it could be the long board that your son has been wanting because his current skateboard isn’t “cool enough.”

(Do NOT, parent, let that popular kid in your head make you think your child needs these things nor that you have any sort of obligation to buy them one. This defeats our purpose here.)

Here’s where I confess to you that we’re the mean parents (it won’t be the last time in this series, trust me). See, our girls went to summer camp from fifth grade on. It’s a really great camp, and it has formed each of my girls in significant ways. We really wanted our girls to go to that camp, and we were willing to pay a pretty penny to make it happen. But we also wanted our girls to appreciate the value of this camp as well. So, from that very first year we made them pay a portion of their camp fee.

I think we made them pay $100 their first year, which, for a 10 year old, is nothing to sneeze at. We told them about a year ahead of time that they would have to do this, so they started saving. And, yes, they even designated Christmas and birthday money for the “camp fund.” (See? We’re mean!) This summer, Julia is coughing up $500 so that she can spend eight weeks ministering to kids at camp.

I couldn’t be prouder.

And neither could they. Every year the girls designated camp as their first saving goal. They gave up American Girl dolls, cute sweaters that they didn’t need, even sometimes movies with friends so that they could save money for camp. The rewards have been greater than I think any of us could have imagined.

Here’s just one example. One year Caroline was coming down to the wire—I think it was a week or two before the money was due, and she wasn’t sure she had enough to give us. She was young—probably around sixth grade—and she was nervous. What if she didn’t have enough money? She came to me with tears in her eyes and said, “Mom, I don’t think I’m going to be able to go to camp this year. I don’t have all my money.”

Rather than bail her out right away, which is what I really wanted to do, I said, “Well, you still have a few days. Let’s pray about it and see what God does. Maybe you’ll get a call for babysitting or something.”

So we prayed, right then and there in our kitchen. Later that day we left the house to do some errands, and when we got home, anticipating God’s next move, I checked messages on our phone. Sure enough, there was a call from a neighbor who needed a last-minute babysitter!

This became about so much more than saving money for Caroline (and for me!). It became a lesson in trust. We have tried to teach our girls that everything we have comes from God and He will supply our every need, but suddenly that lesson became tangible. That time God came through in an amazing way for my girl, and we’ve never forgotten it.

Maybe for you, learning to save is also learning to trust God to meet your needs. Share this with your kids. Share your saving goals with them, too. And if you’re having trouble with delayed gratification, talk to your kids about it. I think you’d be amazed at the ways your kids will get on board with you and help you save.

Maybe you need to stop giving in to your child’s every whim and help them save for something important. Again, you can trust God in this. He is so good and so faithful to us; sometimes we just need to wait a little while for what we want.


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Other posts in this series:
Part 2: The Early Years
Part 4: The High School Years
Part 5: The College Years
Part 6: The Launching Years

How to Teach Your Kids About Money When You Don't Have a Clue * Part 2: The Early Years

I’ll admit, I walked into parenthood with blinders on. In fact, I probably wasn’t just wearing blinders—I was wearing one of those full on face masks that you wear when you want to block out the light so you can sleep.

When my sweet bundle of firstborn joy was handed to me, thick shock of dark hair and all, I honestly had no clue what I was doing. And I had no idea what I was supposed to do to get her to full adulthood. (She made it! Only by the grace of God.)

As Christians, B and I knew we wanted to raise our children to love God and to serve Him well—that part was a given—but what else? Were there other life lessons we needed to impart beyond this one most important thing?

Let me say this clearly and at the outset: loving and serving God was then and still is our most important goal for our children. Anything else that we have taught them or any other virtues that we may have instilled in them are secondary to that One Main Thing.

But there was more. In fact, there were many more life lessons that we found we needed to impart beyond the One Main Thing. Very quickly we realized that teaching our kids about money would be one of the hardest, yet most important life lessons of all.

Thank goodness, B and I have never fought about money that I can remember; we count this as a huge blessing in our marriage. (Now, who’s going to change the toilet paper roll or empty the dishwasher? Grounds for a knock-down-drag-out if there ever was one.)

We realized that in order for our kids to live lives free from as much financial stress as possible, we would have to teach them how to handle money. It wouldn’t matter if they had a little or a lot—knowing how to handle the money we have is the key. So the discussions began early.

First, because loving and serving God was the One Main Thing, we wanted to make sure that our kids understood that even the way we use our money relates to Him. See, God has given us some guidelines about money, and one of those is that we should be giving back to Him some of what He’s given to us. This is called a tithe, and it’s usually ten percent of our income.

(I’m not going to get into a discussion about whether this is gross income or net income or whether the ten percent is negotiable—that’s between you and God. Let’s suffice it to say that God wants something back, and He deserves it because it is, after all, His.)

Giving to God has always been high on our priority list. In fact, just a week or two into our marriage, B and I sat down to pay the bills together, and he started out by writing a check to church. I must have questioned this reasoning because we were young and poor. Very, very poor. Couldn’t we just wait and see what we had left after all the bills were paid?

B looked at me and said words I’ll never forget: “The church check is always the first check we write.”

Priorities, man.

We wanted our kids to take hold of that same priority, so the first lesson we taught them, beginning around age four, was the God gets His portion first.

B had grown up with the saying, “Give 10%, save 10%, and spend the rest with joy and thanksgiving.” We liked that idea (even though it doesn’t always work out quite that way in real life), so we decided to start there and make it easy for the girls.

Giving. Saving. Spending. But how do we get our kids to understand this concept of splitting our money three ways? This is where the jars came in.

You’ve probably seen the same concept online. It’s not that new. Except back in the early ‘90s we didn’t have Pinterest to show us how to make our jars pretty. We just took three Mason jars, slapped some masking tape on the side, and labeled them “God,” “Saving,” and “Spending.” No fancy lids. No color coding. Just three jars scattered across the top of our refrigerator.

Every Saturday night, B or I would sit down with the girls and dole out four quarters. One quarter would go in the God jar, one in the savings jar, and two in the spending jar. (I know, I know, it’s not the strict give 10%, save 10% thing. Bear with me here.)

Pretty soon they had a mantra:

“One for God. One for saving. 
Two for spending.”

Every week it was the same. “One for God. One for saving. Two for spending.” After a couple of years (around age 6) we raised the amount to eight quarters, but we still counted four at a time. Around age 10 we changed from quarters to dollar bills, but we still used the same method of counting.

Here’s the important thing about the jars: we always, always, always started with the God jar. We set the expectation early that God gets the first part. The rest is left to do whatever we want, but the first money we get goes back to God.

Some might say this sounds a bit legalistic. Maybe it does, but here’s what I know: our girls are almost grown (two are adults now) and they are some of the only young people I know who take tithing seriously.

Here’s something else I know: it’s really, really, really hard to back into tithing if you haven’t been doing it. Lopping off 10% of your income if you haven’t been doing it for a while is like lopping off your right arm. It feels wonky. Hard, even.

But if you start early, set that expectation, it’s just what you’re used to. Like you never had that right arm to begin with—you’re just left handed.

My suggestion? Start talking to your kids now about giving to God. Tell them about your own giving practices. Tell them what you think about tithing, and if you’re not sure about the whole concept, look into it. Make it a priority to teach your kids to be givers, to hold their money loosely, because this will make them generous adults.

Three jars (then six; then nine) scattered across the top of our refrigerator. The God jar emptied right away because the girls would then take their quarter to church with them and place them in the offering basket in Sunday School. But the saving jar and the spending jar began to collect quarters.

Next week I’ll talk about what we did when they collected a good number of quarters.


Just in case you missed the Intro to this series, you can read it here. Be sure to sign up for email updates so you won't miss a post!


OK. Your turn. What have you taught your kids about giving? What about this post seems like it might work or not work for you? Tell me in the comments.

Other posts in this series:

What I Learned at the Redbud Retreat

There we sat, thirty-five women in a circle. Now, that alone is enough to make me break out in hives, but these were mostly women I had met only two hours earlier. Oh, a handful I had met before but didn’t know well, so basically I sat in this circle feeling completely alone.

More hives.

And our “task” for the evening was to share what we were working on. We’re writers, after all, members of the same writers’ guild, so we should actually be able to share what we’re, um, writing.

Did I say hives? Huge. Hives.

Situations like this—large groups of women, writers, retreats, vulnerability—are all triggers for me. Competitive triggers. And this situation immediately brought out my worst sense of competition.

“I hope they don’t start on my side of the room. I need time to think of something to say.”

“Maybe their ideas aren’t as good as my idea. What if they’re better?”

“What if someone is already writing about my idea? I sure hope nobody takes my idea!”

My mind started to whirl and twirl and spin around so fast that I could barely concentrate. I needed to figure out what I was going to say. Which project should I talk about? How can I put myself in the best light possible in front of all of these women I had just met?

My sense of self-protection was huge. Overblown, really.

Thankfully, they started on the other side of the room, so I had some time to think. Once I figured out what I would share with this room full of female strangers (hives, remember?) I settled in and started to listen.

The group was comprised of women of all ages. Women with different passions. Women from various church backgrounds and walks of life.

And passions. Wow. Every woman in the room was filled with passion (we’re writers, after all), but the passions around the room were varied.

Some had a passion for theology. Others had a passion for music or art or creativity in worship. Some had a passion for evangelism; others had a passion for social justice.  

And our writing? As varied as our passions. Some had already published several books; others were at the very beginning of their writing journey. Some wrote poetry, others wrote memoir, still others wrote fiction.

As we shared our writing projects with each other, I suddenly realized that God was there, in the middle of it all. It was like He was sitting in the middle of the room orchestrating all of the writing that would go from it.

“You over there? You’re going to tell your story of seeing your husband through cancer right after having a baby.”

“And you? You’re going to write about how I help guide yourdesires.”

“And you? You’re going to write a fictional story about a bakery.”

“You? You’re going to write devotionals that help women pursue me every day.”

So many projects. So much passion. And God, sitting right in the middle of it all, orchestrating how those projects and passions would go out into the world.

As I settled in and listened to the women share their stories, I marveled at this God who would use words to make Himself known. I worshiped, silently, this God who called Himself the Word made flesh. And I began to get just a small glimpse of how He uses the passions of His people to make Himself known to the rest of the world.

All of a sudden I realized that I get to be a part of this too and that my story, my projects, are very different from those of the other women in the room. There would be no need to compete because we were all trying to do the same thing, only with different means, different circumstances, different stories.

By the time it was my turn to share my project with the group, nobody had taken my idea, nobody had had the same experiences I had, and nobody had stepped on my toes. There was no need for competition here. God was going to use all of us in different ways.

Yes, I was sweating. Yes, I was nervous (I’m always nervous when I talk about writing). Yes, I felt insecure. But I also felt confident that God had shown me something very important about His work among us.

Competitiveness is an ugly beast. It will kill your creativity and destroy your desires.

Facing my fears at the Redbud Retreat made me see that God is not in the business of setting us up against one another. He wants to take us just as we are and use each of our individual gifts for His glory.

We just need to shed the hives and get to work.

How to Teach Your Kids About Money When You Don’t Have a Clue

Most of us would agree: money is an uncomfortable topic to talk about. It creeps into our marriages, causing tensions we didn’t even know existed. It snakes its way into family relationships. It even comes between friends.

With a topic so volatile and with such potential to ruin relationships, you’d think we’d spend more time talking about it, figuring it out, working on it.

And you’d really think that we’d want to prepare our kids to handle money so that they can avoid potential pitfalls in the future. Yet I regularly talk to parents who ask how we did it. How did we raise three girls (a first, fairly obvious question) and how did we teach them about money (a second, less obvious one)?

I’m always surprised when parents of younger kids ask my husband and me to share what we did to teach our daughters about money. Usually, with a wry grin and a hint of embarrassment, they admit that they know nothing about money and don’t have a clue how to teach their kids about handling money either.

Actually, I don’t think this is anything to be embarrassed about—I was an English major and I pretty much don’t know anything about money either, so if I can do this you can too. That’s why I’ve titled this series “How to Teach Your Kids About Money When You Don’t Have a Clue,” because that’s me! I wouldn’t have had a clue if it hadn’t been, first, for my parents who did a lot of things right when they raised me, and, second, for my husband who is a finance person and thinks talking about money is fun.

(I've learned a lot over the years, but even so my knowledge is fairly basic. If you're in the "clueless" category, you won't have any trouble following along.) 

I’m always happy to talk to these self-named “clueless” parents because I think teaching our kids about money is one of the most important life lessons we can give them.

Here’s why.

1. We have a debt crisis in our country, probably even in our world. Somewhere along the way, we’ve bought into the idea that if we can’t afford it we should still be able to have it and that going into debt to get it is O.K. This wrong thinking has caused families to break up, taxes to skyrocket (I’m looking at you, U.S.) and nations to crumble (hello, Greece). And yet, we still hold on to this crazy idea that not being able to afford something isn’t a good enough reason not to have it.

2. Money can quickly become an idol. For many—both those who have a lot of it and those who don’t have enough—money has become an idol. And God warns us what will happen if we have any other gods before Him, hasn’t He? Learning how to treat money as a tool rather than an idol will free us up to worship and serve God in the right way.

3. Our world needs more productive citizens. It’s kind of a joke in our family, the “productive citizen” thing, but we’re serious—as Christians, we should be contributing to the lives of our society and of others. One way to do that is to be diligent to give and to save.

There are many other reasons to teach our kids about money, but these three probably more than any other, inform the way my husband and I have trained our daughters to use money.

Over the next six weeks (on Fridays) I’ll be posting my thoughts about teaching kids about money. We’ll cover: 
  • the early years and how to emphasize giving as a goal. 
  • the middle years and the importance of saving for what you want. 
  • high school, when we gave our kids a good deal of responsibility and freedom with money. 
  • the college years when our money talks continued and got deeper. 
  • the launching year, because even though college may be over, money talks take on a new significance. 

I hope you’ll join me through this series. No matter where you are in your parenting journey, I think you’ll find some interesting discussion on this important topic.

Now I’d like to hear from you: 
What challenges have you had as you’ve taught your kids about money? 
What successes have you had? 
And what questions would you like me to try to answer? 

Catching up: Easter Weekend; Our Big, Loud, Anglo Family; and a New Blog Series Starts Tomorrow!

Hey friends!

I'm sitting here on a rainy Thursday afternoon still reflecting on our fantastic Easter weekend. The girls were all home, along with Caroline's roommate, and we enjoyed lots of fun time together. Of course, Easter services at church were a highlight, as well as hosting thirteen people for dinner that day.

We also celebrated Kate's 23rd birthday over the weekend at our favorite French bistro in the area. We all sampled delicacies like short rib ravioli in a sherry cream sauce, mushroom soup, lobster bisque, whitefish, filet of beef with truffle sauce, and coc au vin. Mmmmmm.


Every time we're all together I'm struck by so many things about our little group of people. So today I thought I'd share just a glimpse into our family life.

1. We're loud. Every time we're together the volume escalates to a point where the dog has to take cover, and someone (usually me) ends up "shush-ing" the rest of the group. Everyone talks over everyone else until you pretty much can't hear yourself think. It's really kind of embarrassing.

2. We laugh. A lot. I don't know what it is, but our family laughs a ton whenever we're together. Causing, obviously, a lot of noise. (See number 1)

3. We're opinionated. In order to survive in this family, you have to have an opinion and you have to be able to defend it. We sometimes disagree with each other, but we try to listen and understand. We should have all been lawyers.

4. We love to eat. Just ask my mom who regularly tells me, "Boy, you sure do know how to eat!" What can I say? We all appreciate a good meal, hence the French bistro. (And also, my Recipes page.)

5. We love to talk. (See numbers 1 and 3.) I'm generally a quiet person who doesn't talk a ton unless I'm with someone I know well or have something to say. I'm not a fan of wasted words. But when our family is together, I go to bed with a sore throat from all the talking. And I love it.

6. We miss each other when we're apart. I think that's why we spend so much time enjoying our meals together and causing a ruckus with our laughter and debating. It's called savoring, cherishing, enjoying. It's what our family is about.

I'll be honest, I really didn't intend to start writing about our family when I sat down today. It just happened. I guess I'm missing all of the commotion of the past weekend. *sigh*


On to other business. . . .

I have a new blog series starting tomorrow that I'm really excited about. It's called "How to Teach Your Kids About Money When You Don't Have a Clue." 

(Hint: I'm pretty clueless about money, so if I can do this, you can too.)

From conversations I've had, it seems like many parents today really don't know how or what to teach their kids about money. But money is important--it affects so much of our lives--so it's pretty important that we pass along some principles for handling it to our kids.

I hope you'll join me back here tomorrow.

Walking Into Holy Week Looking for Peace? It's Here.

There are some days when I run from it, some days I try to ignore it, and some days I just have to say it.

I hate the devil.

There. I said it. Let the attacks begin.

You see, as a believer in Jesus Christ, I believe that there is also an opposition to him. In fact, His greatest opposition is Satan. Present tense. Because Jesus lives, Satan also lives. The Bible tells us that one day Jesus will return and Satan will be locked away forever (soon, please!), but until that day, we have to live in a fallen, fallen world in which Satan wields great power.

(Gosh, I didn’t mean to get so deep so fast here! Bear with me.)

I’ve been reading the gospels through Lent with Margaret Feinberg’s 40 Day Lent Challenge, and I’ve been struck by, well, lots of things. This week, especially, God has used His word to speak directly into some things in my life.


It’s been a hard week; I won’t deny it. As much as I’ve valued privacy, and still do, I just have to share a little bit of what’s been going on. I’ve been crushed by disappointment this week as a student I’ve mentored for the past two and a half years has just walked away. From school. From her life here. From relationships. From everything.

My head is still spinning.

And I can’t help but worry about the steps she is taking.

And I wonder what more I could have done to help her.


Back to the 40 Day Lent Challenge. (I know, I’m all over the place today. Sorry.) This morning I read John 10 and was especially struck, once again, by Jesus’s “I am” statements in verses 6-18.

“I am the gate for the sheep.”

“I am the gate.”

“I am the good shepherd.” (He says this twice, so he really must want us to pay attention to it.)

And then I read these words in John 10:10 – “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life” – and I was reminded yet again of my student. What she cannot see right now is that what she thinks will bring pleasure to her life is really sucking her dry. That the people she thinks she wants in her life will destroy her. Because the enemy of our souls will do whatever he can and use whatever tricks it takes to make us think that a rich and satisfying life involves doing whatever we want without any answer to authority in our lives.

Jesus tells us the opposite.

Follow me, He says. Submit to MY authority. Seek MY kingdom and there you will find what is truly rich and satisfying in life.

Oh, sometimes it’s so hard to see, even in my own life. I want my own way. I want to control things. I want to be in charge of everything. I am a petulant child, stomping her foot to get people to listen to her. But when I try so hard to make my own way, things inevitably fall apart.

When I submit to Jesus, when I give up trying to do things my way, I find the deep, satisfying peace I’m looking for.


I read a helpful note in my Bible this morning.

“The world still lives in darkness and it cannot understand the realities of life or of God. Divine revelation is inaccessible to the world. In fact, when the light of God penetrates the darkness, exposing the ugliness of the world’s life, many people flee deeper into the darkness because they prefer it to the light. Only the transforming power of God’s Spirit can provide understanding and help people see clearly as children of God.”


So why do I hate the devil? Because he is a thief. He steals joy. He steals peace. He steals love. He steals understanding. He causes division and strife and makes us see the differences between people when we should be looking for anything, anything that will bind us together in this crazy fallen world.

The good news--the really. good. news.--is that Jesus came so that we wouldn’t have to fight against the darkness anymore. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)

So this week is Holy Week. Lent will be over and on Easter Sunday we will celebrate the Light of the World who has come so that we can have peace and rest and a rich and satisfying life. I choose to rest there, in that peace that surpasses all understanding.

Because this week? This week I don’t understand much, but I do understand where my satisfaction lies.


Friends, forgive me if this post is hard for you to read. I just sat down and wrote what was on my heart this morning, and I’m putting it out there without much editing because I think it’s what God wants me to do today.

This Easter week, I pray that you will know the peace that Jesus came to bring to each one of us.

Some Days

Sometimes, when things go a little dark and quiet over here, it’s usually because I have to process. And it’s never a good idea to process on a blog because, well, someone might read it and my blood and guts might be spilled out on the internet for everyone to read and readers might actually bump into the fact that I’m human.

This past week was one of incredible humanness for me.

I don’t have a snazzy story to go with the lessons I’m learning this week. I don’t have a cute illustration to show all that God is teaching me. All I really have is honesty.


I have felt sad this week. A friend suffers, and I feel helpless to relieve the pain. Another friend dies, and I feel sorrow for the years I’ve missed. I sense tension in relationships and it spills over into my home, taking captive those I love the most.

I have felt helpless in situations way beyond my control.

I have felt grief over losses too big to comprehend.

All of this in just one week.

And to top it all off, we got six inches of heavy, thick, soul-sucking snow this morning.


Some weeks are just like this, you know? Issue upon issue upon issue piles up and the weight bears down until you think you might snap. My shoulders were never meant to carry such burdens.

Neither were yours.


Good Friday is coming, and in a way this scares me just a little because every Good Friday we have a family tradition: we watch “The Passion of the Christ” together. After church, after taking communion, after walking out of the building in darkness and silence, we gather at home to watch the most heart wrenching movie I’ve ever experienced.

“The Passion of the Christ” is hard to watch, and yet, I force myself to do it because I think it’s good for me to be reminded that Jesus suffered too.

There’s that scene when Jesus, having been beaten nearly unrecognizable, is handed his cross and he’s expected to carry it up the hill to Golgotha, the place of his crucifixion. Blood and sweat drip from Jesus’ forehead where his executioners have smashed a crown of thorns into his skin. Bruises already begin to show around his swollen eyes, nose, and lips. His anguish is palpable as he stumbles slowly uphill, step . . . by step . . . by step.

Finally, Jesus falls, unable to carry his cross any longer, and a stranger is summoned from the crowd to carry it for him. The man is strong, healthy, vibrant, but this heavy cross is hard for even him to carry and he stumbles too.

We know the rest of the story. Jesus is nailed to that cross, unjustly accused, and dies the same tortuous death as the thief next to him. In just one day he experiences sorrow, helplessness, grief, and much more.

He knows my burdens.


Thank God the story doesn’t end there. Thank God for Easter. Thank God for the heavy stone being lifted away and for an empty tomb.

Thank God that he sent someone stronger, healthier, and more vibrant than me to carry the burdens I cannot bear.

Some days I just need a savior.

Savor Life with Shauna Niequist {and a giveaway!}

Edited to add: Random Number Generator picked number 3, so Robin Dance, a copy of Savor is on its way to you! Congratulations!


Lots of my blog friends lately have been talking about “old school blogging.” Blogging has changed so much lately, and we long for the old days of memes and comments (*ahem*), and sharing the posts of others.

And book reviews.

And giveaways!

Never fear, friends, old school blogging is back! Right here. For today.

No promises about tomorrow. [Oh, who am I kidding? Most of what I do is old school anyway.]

Last week I received a review copy of Shauna Niequist’s new book, Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are, and I’m so excited to tell you all about it today.

The first thing you’ll notice about this book is that it’s beautiful. The cover is linen, so those of us who are tactile will love simply holding this book. The pages are sturdy and thick, and the layout is simple yet beautiful.

The next thing you’ll notice, especially if you’ve read Shauna’s other books, is that this is a different format for her. This is a daily inspirational book, small snippets of Shauna’s writing that will make you think, smile, or act.

You’ll probably notice, if you read Shauna’s blog, that she’s taken some thoughts from her older posts; other entries are new. That’s OK. It’s nice to be reminded of the lessons Shauna has learned along her journey. Each entry is accompanied by a Bible verse that you can chew on throughout the day.

One of my favorite things about the book is the question at the end of each entry. These questions can serve to challenge you to further thinking or even to action. Here are just a few, but they’re all really good:
“Sometimes it’s not sin that’s most difficult to throw off—it’s the otherwise good stuff that gets in the way of our becoming who God is calling us to be. What do you need to let go of today?” (April 13)
“Marriage is like so many other things: we get out of it what we put into it. Married or not, what are you bringing to the people you love? What would it look like to bring your best self in this season?” (April 30) 
“We become family by the choices we make as we respond to each day, whatever that day brings. Who has become family in your life, because you’ve chosen to invest deeply?” (September 11)
Now, I’m all about daily Bible reading and deep Bible study. This book isn’t for that.

But sometimes we just need a shot in the arm as we slug down a cup of coffee before flying out the door—just a little thought to help us focus our busy day—and that’s exactly what this book is for.

Over the past couple of years, after coming to a point of burnout with her work, Shauna has encouraged us to slow down, to take time for friends and family, and to savor life’s small moments. This book will help you do that.

Want a copy of your own? I have good news! Shauna’s publisher has graciously offered to give one copy of Savor to one of my dear readers. 

To be entered into the giveaway, you only need to do two things:

1. Sign up to receive email updates from me. You can do that just over there --->. (If you’re already a follower, just let me know in the comments.)

2. Leave me a comment below telling me one way you like to slow down and savor life with those you love.

Easy, right?! I’m looking forward to hearing from you!


This giveaway will remain open until Monday, March 23.