March 23, 2017

Ten Things You Can Never Have Too Much or Too Many Of


There are a few things I can't imagine needing another one of...ever. 

Mugs, for instance. Hot chocolate, hot tea, life-sustaining coffee-flavored creamer: I have vessels for all of these. All at once. With several in the dishwasher, awaiting a run cycle. Even if we have guests. 

I'm also good to go on lice outbreaks, having done three. (Which was four too many.) 

And decorative scarves. For every mood, outfit, meteorological condition, and neckline, I. Am. Set. 

On the other hand, here are a few things I've always got room in my kitchen or closet or desk drawer or life for.

1. Friends who know what you're really like...but like you anyway. People in my life who fit this description, you know who you are. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Also, thank you.

2. Chocolate chip cookie recipes. Once you find a classic recipe you like and can rely on for emotional rehab when your family has a rotten day, you stick with it. But there's always some new variation out there that just might change your life, and really--do you want to miss it? Here's my favorite, one-stop-shopping collection to get you started. 

3. Caramelized onions. Every time I make a batch of these (usually for the caramelized onion, spinach, sausage, and Parmesan pizza my husband and I slightly addicted to), I look at the huge pile of raw rings in the pan and think, "We'll never need all these." Then, half an hour later, when I'm staring at the two tablespoons of finished product, I think, "Why didn't I make more?" (Need a lesson/recipe? Start here.)

4. Rolls of tape that have ends you can find. Re: "they can put a man on the moon...."

5. Staplers that actually work. And by "work," I mean they actually staple (gasp) on the first try and do not cause me to yell, "WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH THIS STUPID THING???!!!!" before throwing it against the wall. For example.

6. Outfits that fit any time of the month that you feel good in that don't wrinkle or bunch up or show stains or require that belt you used to have but haven't seen in three years. 

7. Music that inspires, motivates, soothes, heals, helps, guides, and comforts. Some of my favorites (a VERY incomplete list):

8. Love that comes anywhere close to the 1 Corinthians 13 standard. Or even tries to on a regular basis.

9. Working batteries. I would love to know what it's like to have too many of these in my house. In fact, usually, I'd just like to know what it's like to have any at all.

10. Faith. Life is hard--for now. But God is good and great--forever.

What's missing from this list? I'd love to have you add it on in a comment or over on Facebook. And if you've got a make and model for #5, will you please, please let me know about it? My walls are thanking you already.

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Photo credit: Sanja Gjenero,

March 13, 2017

Things You Think When You Are the Parent of a High School Senior

I am the mom of a high school senior. 

This means I am perpetually getting into my purse for one of three things: 1)tissues (see, "senior moment"); 2)my credit card; 3)my phone (see, "camera to record senior moment for which I will need a tissue").

My mind is spinning more than usual these days, ever since the calendar year and my daughter's graduation year turned into THE SAME NUMBER, God help me.

But in the midst of all the spinning, my brain seems to be on a continual loop with the following recurring thoughts...

1. I have GOT to memorize her social security number.

2. Exactly how much meat do I need for a taco bar for 200 people?

3. Where is that video of her singing that solo in that school program that year when she was in elementary school?

4. Will this be the last time she's home for Valentine’s Day/putting up the Christmas tree/her birthday/family game night? Did I take enough pictures this time around in case it is? Where is my phone? Where ARE the tissues?

5. Will she like these cups for her party? (Takes picture of cups while hiding in the electrical supply aisle at the grocery store. Sends to prospective graduate for approval.)

I cannot believe this is her last band concert/basketball game/high school musical/swim meet/pediatrician’s well-check.

7. My entire life has become an acronym: FAFSA, EFC, SAR, GPA, SAT, ACT. (SOS.)

8. How far in advance can an extended weather forecast for the day of her party be trusted?

9. June is only how many months away?

10. Did I miss the deadline for that scholarship application/yearbook senior picture submission/graduation party rental?

11. I have GOT to make a list.

12. "Just buy the basic model and put the extra $250 into a college fund, for crying out loud!" (Upon hearing about a $299 baby monitor that tells parents when they're low on diapers.)
13. This is not just a year of lasts. It’s really just the last year before a year of firsts.

14. Have I made her favorite meal lately? Has she been home to eat her favorite meal lately?

15. Why did we wait so long to do all the stuff around this house that needs to be done before her party?

16. Please, God, don’t let it rain on graduation.

17. Please, God, don’t let it rain on her party.

18. I think I'd better start listening to "Pomp and Circumstance" over and over to try to build up my emotional immunity.

19. Note to self: buy waterproof mascara.

20. I don't think I could love this child more than I do right now. But I thought that when she was born, and look what's happened since.

Shameless share: my senior.

If you're in this season right now, what's going around on your mental hamster wheel these days? If you've been there and done that, what do you remember thinking over...and over...and over? If these days are still ahead of you (way, way ahead...don't think about it yet), maybe you know a senior parent you can pass this along to. And while you're at it, hand them a tissue, will you?

**This post may have been shared at some of these link parties.**

February 23, 2017

7 Sources of Encouragement For Your Teen Daughter's Heart

I would have made such a good pioneer woman. 

There are lots of reasons behind this conviction (working title for that post: "Reasons I Would Have Made a Good Pioneer Woman"), but chief among them is the fact that those 1800s mamas didn't have to raise kids in an era of internet and cell phones and
texting and Wi-Fi and insta-this and face-that. 

Still, in spite of my frustrations with technology and its frequent (ill) effects on the emotional state of our household ("MOM! Is the internet down AGAIN?!!), there are things I love about it--like these seven faith-feeding resources that have all been approved and recommended by my in-house testing panel (namely, my 18-year-old daughter).

However much I may envy our foremothers' simplified life choices--"let's this a 'work' dress day or a 'good' dress day?"--I'm grateful these encouraging options are available now. Because I well understand there is a lot to be said for voices that speak truth into my teenager's mind and heart but are, let's face it, not me.

1. YouVersion Bible app. My daughter discovered this treasure when she was looking for a Bible for her phone. It is that--and a lot more, plus it's free. She especially likes YouVersion's subject-based Bible reading plans--12 days on prayer, for instance, or 21 days on worship--along with its Scripture images. I like that she's using her phone to access something significantly more life-altering than her friends' Facebook status updates.

2. Godly Dating 101. I know some families eschew dating entirely in favor of courting...or arranged marriage, maybe. And having been through the dating ordeal with my firstborn, I'm inclined to agree with them. But don't let the word "dating" throw you off: this resource promoting "chivalry, modesty, purity" offers sound advice on so much more than dating that I think it could almost be called Godly Living 101. I save their Facebook posts for myself all the time, even though I'm happily planning on dating only my husband for the rest of my life. Check out this Facebook post for an example of something I saved on the spot.

3. QWC Devos. When my daughter was just barely on the other side of a painful breakup (see "dating ordeal," above), she Googled "Christian dating quotes" and kept seeing powerful results all from the same source. She eventually found her way to the Facebook page and website of Quite Women Co.: "a place for women to be quite the women God has called them to be." Her phone camera roll is filled with screen shots of their posts, and she uses their devotionals as the basis for a Bible verse of the week that she journals about. Often, during our nightly chats, she says, "Oh, I've got to read you this from Quite Women Devos." And when she does, I'm usually struck in the heart by the profound truth of what I'm hearing, put in ways I only wish I could come up with on my own.

4. Adam Cappa. Categorized as a Christian pop musician/band on his Facebook page, Adam Cappa is also a husband and dad who offers cut-to-the-chase counsel on God-honoring dating and relationship goals, for "ladies and gents." (Recent example: "the greatest couples worship Jesus, not each other.") My daughter and I often message each other posts we want to make sure the other hasn't missed, usually with the tag line, "Adam Cappa does it again."

5. Elevation Worship. I'm a passionate believer in the power of music as a conveyor of truth. What my girls take into their ears gets absorbed by their brains, trickles down to their hearts, and comes out of their mouths and their emotions and their actions. Their newest musical obsession--which I share--is Elevation Worship. As chauffeur mom, I paid my dues in my daughters' younger years, listening to ABC songs and "The Wheels on the Bus" ad nauseam en route. Now, this gorgeous, powerful music is my reward for time served. But an even greater reward is that this is also what my daughters choose to listen to when I'm not the one driving them around.

6. Project Inspired. Billing itself as "the biggest community of Christian girls on the web," this site offers one-stop shopping for young women of faith. With articles, music, fashion advice, Bible studies, and more under the banner "God, friends, life, love," Project Inspired is the ministry of model, wife, and mom Nicole Weider. My daughter--my very own "PI girl"--told me the other day, "I feel like 99% of what they say is biblically accurate, not just what the author thinks. I feel like it's not just the author's opinion or what they did or what they think you should do, but what the Bible is actually saying." I love both that she's noticed this about the site and that she cares that it's true.

7. Hobby Lobby. No, I didn't confuse this blog post with my errand list for the week. It's just that Hobby Lobby happens to be the main supplier of the first source of encouragement my daughter lays her eyes on every morning: her "inspiration wall." She got the idea from a friend several months ago: a wall filled with Scripture prints and quotes that would inspire her every day. She asked for canvas prints for her 18th birthday, and Hobby Lobby was the place to find them...and find them...and find them. 

But the most treasured piece on her wall actually came from a different source: Kcreatives. I found Kimberly (the "K" behind Kcreatives) via a sharing thread in an online writer's group. The beautiful handcrafted creations on her Facebook page beguiled me  (she's on Instagram, too) and led me to an idea for a one-of-a kind 18th birthday gift: a personalized watercolor setting of Jeremiah 29:11.

Of all the things my teenage daughter could have hanging on her wall (good grief...didn't I have a Rick Springfield poster?), I can't think of anything much better than this.

If you're the mom or aunt or grandma or friend of a teenage girl, what resources do you know of that feed her mind and heart and soul? Please share them in a comment or on Facebook. Those of us who love these young women need all the wisdom we can get.

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Past posts that have something to do with this one:

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