Posts Tagged 'motherhood'

Tour Time with Alexandra Kuykendall

mom essentialsOne of the essentials we study is the essential of IDENTITY.

No one knows more about finding and defining your identity more than Alexandra Kuykendall.

She is a talented author, speaker, blogger and mom.

I had the privilege of meeting Alexandra when she spoke at MomCon  when it was held here in Kansas City.

Her book, The Artist’s Daughter, is a fantastic example of what it means to continually grow as a woman and a child of God.

Alexandra knows what it means to have questions and to trust God for the answers.

You’ll love getting to know her and I’m so thrilled she’s part of our tour and our Smarter Moms community –

CLICK HERE to read more!

Independence Day – the Mommy Way

Tomorrow we celebrate our country’s birthday – the day we declared our independence.

So I’m declaring my own kind of independence.

I’m claiming freedom from the feelings of guilt, fear and insecurity that often steal my joy.

My independence doesn’t come through denial or ignorance – instead it comes from the freedom of knowing I am not alone, that God is with me and I can find comfort in knowing perfection is not a prerequisite for effective parenting.

Need more proof that this kind of independence is possible (and dare I say it – NECESSARY!?) Look no further than the most fantastic, hilarious, well-organized and applicable book for moms looking for guidance instead of guilt.

Run, do not walk, to your button and buy this book! You’ll want your own copy – mine is pictured above (check out the post-its and tattered pages – it’s marked like crazy on the inside too!)…

Here are a just a few of my favorite quotes/challenges and general greatness from Kathi’s book, “I Need Some Help Here!”

Get ready to enjoy a time of hope and help as we declare our independence from anything that is not of God.

1. When we feel guilt creeping in Kathi reminds us to have the same mercy on ourselves that we would have on our friends. Kathi writes, “I think it breaks God’s heart to hear how we talk to ourselves – without grace, without mercy. God is not surprised by our failures, but it must be so disheartening to him when wee become judge and jury for ourselves. Remember that God loves you passionately and wholly” (Can I get an AMEN!?)

2.  Throughout the book Kathi provides Scripture and specific prayers I can pray for myself and for my children – it’s an amazing resource! The best part is that the prayers and Bible verses are organized according to situations that are bound to occur in all our lives.

3. I loved reading all the testimonials and personal stories from moms who did everything “right” and yet their children decided to do wrong. I was amazed by these women’s honesty and their willingness to share how they found hope in the midst of despair.

4. When talking about how we feel powerless due to our children’s bad choices, Kathi writes about it being painful and how it takes time to recover but, “we haven’t put our trust in our child’s choices. We’ve put our trust in the Rock” – YES!

5. Each of my children are unique and while I love that fact I sometimes hurt for them when they don’t fit in with their peers or the world’s expectations. Kathi challenges us to change our prayer from “Lord, help them be enough” to instead praying: “Lord, BE their enough.” Wow – I’ll admit it – I have that statement written on a notecard and taped to my bathroom mirror.

I guess we could use that statement too. If GOD is our “enough” we won’t have room to second-guess, fret or stew about whether or not we’re good or bad moms. Instead, we’ll just keep reveling in God’s hope and enjoying the help we receive from our fellow moms who are (as Kathi puts it) in the trenches with us.

I am so excited to share this book with you and I know you’ll enjoy each part of this challenging and honest look at parenting.

I’d encourage you to read it with other friends or even out loud with your husband – every piece of this book is something we’ve either been through, are dealing with or will some day encounter. No one is immune to life.

If you have your own story about finding hope during a troubling time we’d love to hear it. Thank you for being honest and allowing God to use your life to encourage others!

Happy Independence Day!

Let the hope-filled days begin!

You are loved –




Keeping the “YOU” in Unique

HAH-Blog-Hop-graphic (3)-1As a young girl you could find me organizing the towel and toy closet. It was something I LOVED to do. Keeping things organized and seeing a shelf with everything put in its correct place.

Yes, I was a bit of a nerd.

I was also a perfectionist and I was very hard on myself and on others.

This part of my personality started out harsh, overbearing and at times kept me from making friends and being able to work with others.

Fast forward to today and I am happy to report that this perfectionistic bend isn’t something I deny about myself but instead I work hard to redefine and redirect it.

Who I am and how I’m put together is a true testament to how creative God truly is. I’m not sure I truly know myself yet – but I know where I’ve been and how I got here.

Keeping things perfect and in their place is just fine – until you have children.

Children aren’t made to be or keep things perfect and I had to let go of my desires and standards in order to keep my focus on PEOPLE instead of things.

The Lord gently, but quickly, helped me release my unrealistic expectations while showing me how this part of my personality could become a positive part of my life.

You see, I’m constantly trying to figure out how to do things better. I’m reinventing, analyzing and trying new things to help my situations and my family work smoothly and accomplish more.

The REAL challenge with being unique is that I don’t want to see my personality traits as negatives. Instead, I want to understand and appreciate that God made me in a particular way, with specific gifts and traits and He can use ALL those things for His glory if I’ll let him.

I can be unique.

I should be proud of who I am.

But I can’t use my uniqueness as an excuse to be disobedient, difficult or overbearing.

I love who I am and I’m SO glad that each year I become better and better at being me.

I’m a better mom today than I was yesterday and tomorrow – well, it’s going to be even better because I’m spending today listening to God and being obedient to how he’s shaping and molding my uniqueness into His completeness.

What’s a unique personality trait you have?

How has it helped you as a mother?

Any personality traits of yours that you see in your children?

Tell us what they are and how you continue appreciating your uniqueness!

You are an amazing mom – you’re just the right mom for your family – trust yourself!







Let The Summer Planning Begin!

I have been incredibly blessed to work with some of the most gifted, amazing women as I’ve journeyed through this world of speaking and writing.

A woman I truly admire and respect is Kathi Lipp.

She. Is. Hilarious! She is real, she is honest and she is so encouraging.

I also love her ability to take real life and then give us real solutions and ideas.

Because I love all of you and know you are in the same boat as me – I can’t wait to share Kathi’s FREE book with you!!!!

Yep, I said FREE!

Just click on the picture below to have Kathi’s latest book, “Surviving Summer Vacation”, emailed to you today!

Leave a comment below with your best summer activity and favorite activity to help the summer days be fun and full of wonderful memories!

Summer and warm weather are coming – let the planning and celebrations begin!



The Language Behind Lent

Here’s a post I wrote 2 years ago about Lent – reading it now I have to laugh. James was 5 at the time. He is now 7. We haven’t talked about what we’re giving up for Lent – it’s been a crazy season of life. This weekend will be a time of talking, praying and hearing from our boys and what God is going in their hearts.

How do you talk to your kids about lent?

Are your kids or family giving up something in particular?

I’d love to hear your thoughts – please leave a comment below :o)

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday – the beginning of the Lent. Last year was the first time we took our children to an Ash Wednesday service. It was a wonderful experience I documented in my post Discovering Lent. This year I had to work, Matt was sick and we didn’t make it to any services at church, which was a bummer. But we are still talking to our kids about what these 40 days mean to us and how it helps us prepare for Easter. My favorite part of this Smarter Moms community is knowing I’m not alone in this journey…

    Some of you have commented on Facebook, sent a Tweet or sent us emails asking about how and when children should be involved in this tradition and how to explain Lent to them. I’m so glad you asked because I was struggling with the same issues just yesterday!

    I picked up our son, James, from preschool and saw a paper laying on the table outside their classroom door. The teachers had obviously explained Lent and asked children what they would give up during these 40 days of remembering Jesus. I was shocked to see James’ answer – he was going to give up wrestling with his Dad!?!?!  That’s his most favorite thing in the world to do!

     I smiled as I read the other children’s responses and began praying for wisdom. Did James truly understand Lent? How would I help him be aware without creating a feeling of guilt or pressure? I was still praying silently as we walked to the car and our conversation at lunch was eye-opening for both of us. I hope you can take some of this script and use it if the need arises, but I want to point out that each child is different and you know them best. Pray and trust the Holy Spirit to lead you through these sometimes complicated topics. We’ll also look at some main points to cover when discussing Lent and resources for you to user. For now, here’s my conversation with my sweet baby James:

M: Did you guys talk about Lent today with Ms. Kristen and Ms. Lynn?

J: Yep. 

M: Well, what did you learn?

J: We were suppose to pick something to give up and I said I’d stop wrestling with Dad for the next 40 years because I usually get hurt when we wrestle with the other boys anyway, so I thought that’d be a good thing to give up.

M: Do you know why you are giving up wrestling with Dad?

J: (silence)

M: How about I tell you more about Lent and how Daddy and I observe it and then maybe we can talk more about what you want to do – would that be okay?

J: Sure.

M: What do we celebrate at Christmas time?

J: Jesus’ birthday!

M: That’s right! Jesus made a choice to leave His home, Heaven, and all his angel friends and even His Father – God. He gave it all up so He could come here to earth and save you and me. That’s a pretty awesome sacrifice don’t you think?

J: Yeah – I wouldn’t want to leave you guys and go anywhere! I’d miss all my toys and my bike.

M: I know, that would be so tough! You don’t have to leave us or your bike. But Lent is a time when we think of something “extra”. Think of something in your life that you really enjoy eating or drinking or doing – but remember it needs to be something extra…can you think of anything?

J: (silence)

M: Something extra in my life would be sweet treats, coke zero, even watching certain TV shows….I really enjoy all those things but if they weren’t in my life I’d still be okay wouldn’t I?

J: Yeah.

M:  So, during Lent we choose something extra, something we enjoy, and we give it up for 40 days. Then every time we want to drink a coke or watch a show or eat a sweet treat we remember what Jesus gave up. He gave up Heaven for you and me! Giving something up is simply a way to help us remember and help us keep a thankful spirit. You don’t HAVE to give anything up, but it’s kind of a cool challenge.  Whatever you give up gets to come back in your life on Easter morning – just like Jesus was able to go back home to Heaven on Easter morning!

J: Ohhhh Okay, I think I got it. You know what I really like? Sprite. I think I want to give up Sprite instead of wrestling with Dad.

M: Babe, I think that’s a great idea – do you want to give up drinking anything that has those bubbles in it and only drink milk, juice and water? Or you could just give up Sprite – whatever you want to do.

J: I think I want to give up everything with the bubbles in it (pause) and Mom, I think you should give up drinking Coke too. We can do it together!

M: (with a slightly false, begrudging tone) I think that’s a great idea! We’ll do it together. So every time we want to order a Sprite or Coke at McDonald’s or want to drink it at home we’ll remind ourselves that Jesus gave up Heaven and we’re giving up that drink.

    We were eating lunch during this conversation and BOTH of us had a carbonated beverage as our drink.  James suddenly had a look of horror on his face like he’d broken a rule or messed up already. I assured him that today we could drink as much coke and sprite as we wanted – Lent didn’t start until tomorrow.  And now that He had me committed to no Coke I educated him concerning the Western Church’s view of Sundays during Lent.

   He was very excited to hear we could have Coke and Sprite on Sundays because they represent the resurrection. In fact, if you count from Feb. 22 (Ash Wednesday) through April 8 (Easter) there are 46 days. Lent is a forty-day period because we don’t count the Sundays. I know for some people it’s more about a complete surrender and removal of a task so perhaps skipping Sundays isn’t something you would like to observe and that’s fine – each person needs to observe Lent in their own way.

   When it comes to children and this season I don’t think they should feel pressure to sacrifice anything beyond their ability. If a child doesn’t truly understand the crucifixion and resurrection they won’t grasp this time of sacrifice and remembrance.  Start small and let your child choose something on their own or talk with your family and pick something that ALL of you will sacrifice during these forty days. Some ideas might include:

* Instead of going out to eat, save the money and buy groceries for a local food pantry

* Instead of watching television or playing video games in the evening, decide to read sections of scripture that describe Jesus’ ministry and life. Following His journey to the cross makes the week before Easter and Easter morning even more amazing.

* Perhaps your child gives up a favorite toy or activity for a day. During that day, help them remember WHY they are giving up that particular thing.

* Instead of buying new clothes, commit to getting rid of clothing that isn’t being used or doesn’t fit and give it to a local charity.

* Instead of watching TV, sit down and write letters to missionaries (your church will have a list of names and addresses) and thank them for helping others know about Jesus and how much He loves them.

   The whole point of Lent isn’t to be like the Pharisees and brag about what we’re giving up. That would be selfish and boastful. The point of Lent is to remember that sacrifice matters, discipline counts and in order to be an effective Christian we need these reminders each year so we don’t forget.

   Sometimes when our children watch us observe these traditions they learn as much or more than if they had participated. Never force a child to receive communion, to have ash on their forehead or give up something during Lent. To force them takes away the fundamental component to the Christian life: free will.

   Here are some great websites with other ideas for celebrating this season with children. Don’t worry that the “actual day” has passed. This isn’t about strict observance of particular dates and times. This is about helping our children remember how much Jesus loves them and how we respond to that love in our own life. We won’t love the things of this world so much that we can’t give them up – even if it’s for a season. We will love God and Jesus more than anything else!

   Have a great Lent season and please, share your stories with us in the comment box – how do you celebrate with your kids and how did they respond to the whole idea of Lent?  We need to hear from you!


The Mommy Behind the Magic

frozenOkay, I admit it – I am ADDICTED to everything related with the Disney movie, Frozen.

Seriously, the characters, voices, composers, soundtrack…all of it has captured me and I’m not really sure why. I shouldn’t be ashamed, but I’m surprised by it. I haven’t been this enthralled with a show since I saw Wicked.

Perhaps my role as the sole female in this house has driven me to find a way to escape from the dirt, wrestling and burping currently surrounding me.

Being that I have every song memorized from BOTH shows and Idina Menzel is in BOTH shows – so I have to believe her presence has helped solidify my desire to listen to these brilliant songs again and again. Unfortunately most Americans met Idina when John Travolta butchered the pronunciation of her name at the #Oscars

But Idina is more than just an award-winning, super-talented actress and singer – she’s also a mom. Ilana Wiles interviewed Idina on her program, “The Mommy Show” – a fantastically real, hilarious set of Mommy Shorts.

This video was released long before Frozen came to the theaters and I’m certain Idina’s family is loving having a “princess mommy” that’s just like you and me. I know you’ll enjoy seeing this human side of the beautiful voice and actress so many of us have come to love and appreciate.

I hope a song is in your heart as you go through your day and you enjoy a good laugh during each mommy moment of your day.

CLICK HERE to watch the interview from”The Mommy Show” and meet the REAL Idina – the mommy behind the magic princess and amazing voice :o)

You are amazing!



How do you spell love?

th[9]Quick, think back to all the goofy, puppy-love feelings you experienced the first time you fell in “love”. Whether you were 5 or 15 we all know the fluttering feeling in our stomach that happened when that someone special brushed our hand or looked our way.

Love can change form as we age. It feels, sounds, looks and even impacts us differently.

Valentine’s Day has come and gone but I hope we never stop thinking about how to show love to the people in our life.

We can read books about types of Love Languages and we know what it feels like to be loved, but sometimes it can be difficult to show love to the people we’re around the most.

One day I was truly fed up with my toddler and called my mom in desperation. I remember saying, “Mom, I don’t even LIKE him right now – he’s driving me crazy!” In her wisdom my mother reminded me that my son is around me more than he’s around anyone else in his life. He knew me better than I might know myself. My toddler could read my body language and understood when I was tired, hungry and at my wit’s end. He was so much smarter than I was giving him credit.

So I decided to focus on how I could love my boy even on days when I really didn’t like him.

No matter the age of our children or the size of our family our love can be communicated in an intentional and powerful way. To help us show love in a fresh, new way let’s spell it with words instead of just letters.

L is for LISTEN

Love truly listens. It listens first, speaks last. When love listens we are able to put technology away and focus on the people in front of us. When we listen we be become compassionate, patient and willing to accept the people in our family. When I listen I find out my kids see the world differently and have a perspective all their own. Listening keeps us from judging or making assumptions. It takes energy to listen, but it’s an investment that brings a return in relationships built on trust and respect.


Optimism doesn’t mean I’m clueless. If I’m optimistic I have hope. I’m hopeful that new information, trying new things and the situation I’m facing will bring positive results. Sometimes it’s really hard to be optimistic in the light of trying to love the people in our life.  Is there a family member, child, coworker causing you grief? Try being optimistic about who they are and how things could work out. It’s the whole “glass half full” mindset and when optimism (hope) is present we are able to truly love instead of just tolerate people.

V is for VARIETY

Here in Kansas, we enjoy changing weather, seasons and landscapes. Variety is obvious in nature and it should also be obvious in how and when we love. We don’t need to wait for Valentine’s Day or a special occasion. We need to show love when no one expects it and in fresh new ways! Need some ideas for the man in your life? Check out Kathy Lipp’s 4 Day Love Challenge.

E is for ENDURE

This is the toughest one for me. I can become impatient and short with people because I just don’t see why the solution to the problem hasn’t been discovered and implemented. The Lord is working on me. I’m learning to be compassionate and willing to endure with my children. The only condition to enduring is this – when we endure with people we cannot begin to enable them. If we promote the problem instead of helping people find the solution we’re creating victims and we’re securing their need for us to be in their life. Love never gives up, it endures – even if we don’t see the results until heaven.


Do you have a strategy or scripture that helps you truly listen to the people you love?

Have you tried something new and held hope that it would work? When things get tough, how do you remain optimistic?

What cool, different way do you show love to your family? Share your variety with us so we can try your ideas!

Has someone in your life endured with you or have you endured with someone else and seen love conquer all?

I can’t wait to read your stories – thank you for taking time to share!


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