Category Archives: Parenting

Our Semi-Annual Visit with our son

We drove nearly 1,000 miles each way to visit our older son earlier this month.  This is an annual trip that our whole family anticipates with great preparation and joy!  We’ve lived five states apart for almost five years now, and it never gets any easier.  We  miss our son like crazy!  He’s loved beyond words.

We always break up the long trek and stay overnight at a hotel at a halfway point, which we’re all ecstatic to see!  We usually eat breakfast at the hotel the next morning before we head out, which is not a stellar spread, but passable and convenient.  We’re always grateful, especially for the strong cup of coffee!  My younger son enjoys the pastries whereas my daughter selects the healthy oatmeal.  That pretty much reflects the contrasts of their personalities.  Haha.  Twenty months apart … and so unique.

When we arrived our son and his girlfriend had dinner ready to go in the oven.  We all could practically kiss the ground when we arrived at our destination!  🙂  Ah, one hug with my son and it made the long trek so worth it!  This mother truly relished our time with him, noting the changes in his maturity level and personality since our last visit.  Yes, he’s entirely more mature than most his age, but he’s still my little boy on the inside.  To think that once I held him as a helpless baby and now he stands so tall and strong, independent and wise.  The prayer of my heart is that he will walk so close with our Heavenly Father, listen to His voice and live out his days according to God’s plans.  I pray that for all of my children.

Our visits are never long enough as there’s so much that we pack into each one!  We had dinner at an Italian restaurant with my son, his girlfriend and her parents.  This was the first time we’ve met them, so everyone was a little nervous, I think.  But, they’re very nice people.  The lasagna was likely the best I’ve ever had!

We had lunch with our former pastor and his wife at Outback.  We shared such a special time of fellowship with them, as always.  They are not only our former pastors, but dear, dear friends of ours.  They’ve visited us at our house as well.  Whenever we get together, it’s as if no time at all has passed since our last visit.  We just pick right back up.  Kindred spirits.

Putt putt golf … minor league baseball game … Mother’s Day lunch … the beach … shopping … dinner with special friends … reconnecting with other family …

And, that’s our week at a glance!  Our time there was so special and so valued, always a real shot in the arm.  Exhausting, but exciting!  We always leave with full hearts and smiles on our faces.  The morning that we were packing up the SUV to head home, I tried to stay strong, but tears were welling up because six months is such a long time until we see our son again.  It really tugs at the heart strings.  But, until we meet again, our prayers remain…

It was our best trip to date, for sure.  We stayed overnight at the same hotel on the way home and were happy for some much needed rest for the trip ahead the following day.  We left the hotel around 10:30a.m. or so and were anticipating sleeping in our own beds for the first time in nine days.  We were just four minutes from home when we were rear ended by a drunk driver at 10:15p.m.  We wouldn’t go to bed until after 5a.m. the next morning after we were released from the hospital.  Rather than focus on the negatives of the situation, we are trusting God to heal us and guide us continually.  We are praying for the others involved in the accident for their physical and spiritual healing.  There were 11 people involved in the 4 car collision and all were taken to the hospital.  God knows all about this.  He knew this would occur.  Sometimes it’s hard to process the bad along with the blessings of life.  We love the blessings, but we don’t understand the bad things.

I was just mentioning to my husband last night that it was too bad this drunk driver couldn’t have veered into the turn lane right beside me, rather than plowing into the car behind us, into us and sending us into the mini van in front of us.  But, then, a small voice said, “What if he was right beside you and crashed into your door?”  Yes, sometimes the bad is truly ugly.  But sometimes we may never really see all that God has spared us from that could’ve been even worse.

Our family will move beyond this accident.  We still have aches and pains, some worse than others.  But, we are all grateful for the mercy and grace God extends to us daily.  We never walk alone.  A dear friend of ours picked us up from the hospital at 3:45a.m.  That’s the test of a real friend!  I hesitated to call at that time of night, but thankfully she was up!  That was so sweet of her and we appreciated seeing a familiar face early that morning.  Another friend brought us a tremendous dinner the other night: salmon, shrimp, green beans, rice and chicken.  So thoughtful.  My dad has been so worried and reminds me each time we talk on the phone that he’s been praying for us and that he loves me.  Our accident has been hard on him too.  Other friends have taken him to the lab for his routine blood work during my recovery.  What a blessing that has beeen!  God truly provides for every detail of our lives!  God knows all things and He holds us in the palm of His mighty hands!  My three siblings have called often and continue to pray.

Prayer, I have long realized, is one of the greatest gifts we can offer on behalf of another.  It is inviting God’s power and presence into a situation and asking Him to intervene as only He can.  It is beckoning God’s super into my natural.  It is the awareness that apart from God, I am a helpless mess; but with His help and grace, I am a work of His mercy and power.

And so, our trip to visit our older son seems to be intertwined with our accident.  But, it’s all a testament to God’s love and grace.  His love was displayed over and over as we visited with our son and his girlfriend, as well as enjoyed great fellowship with sweet friends.  His grace was revealed through sparing our family from what could’ve been a catastrophic accident.  And in all these things, we remain grateful.



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Because Character Really Does Count…


As parents, we want to install godly character traits and good morals in our children.  Well, here is a way to be deliberate in our training efforts.  There are 49 character traits listed along with a supporting Scripture on the chart below.  It is never too late to instill these principles in our children and teens.  Traits like: obedience, punctuality, dependability, hospitality, gratefulness, etc.  These are all wonderful qualities we admire in others.  Why not make it a family project to emphasize each quality?  Perhaps one per week?  It could revolutionize your family’s life.

It’s entirely too easy to go through the motions of life and all of its busy-ness and miss the key things.  We must be deliberate about instilling godly characteristics in our children, particularly while they are very young and especially teachable.

Here is the Duggar family chart of character qualities:  (You can print the pdf.)

Click to access characterqualities.pdf

These would also make an excellent teaching tool for any Sunday School class or Bible study.

Have you seen this chart before?  What do you think?


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Brag on my Kids

Is it okay if I just take a moment and share how very proud I am of my kids?  You know, as a parent, you spend years pouring into their lives — teaching, correcting, imploring, scolding, modeling, and, most of all, praying!  And when you begin to see real character forming when they do things out of the goodness of their hearts and not because they’re told, it is satisfying, yes; but more importantly, rewarding and encouraging that your investment is paying off!!  My “kids” are growing up on me!  My daughter is 16 and will turn 17 in November.  My son is 14 and will turn 15 in July.  They’re still kids to me, of course.  Allow me to share two recent occasions that they really blessed my husband and I:

  1.)  Easter   ~   We gave them Easter baskets as usual.  But this year, they surprised us with Easter baskets.  My daughter made homemade dark chocolate truffles for my husband and I.  She also made an adorable pin cushion for me!  She got the pattern from a sewing book she checked out from the library.  She’s so creative!  She made the cutest, little Easter baskets – one out of a decorative tissue box and cut out a cardboard cross on the front of it.  The other was made out of a cardboard box, complete with a handle and all covered with pretty scrapbooking paper.  She’s really gifted.

Our son took pictures of a couple of our wedding pictures and also printed out some he recently took to make a photo collage.  One of the pictures was of my husband and I holding hands on a recent walk in the neighborhood.  (just our hands clasped together)  He has a good eye for these things.  Then he stapled cut out rose petals all around the border.  Very sweet.  Maybe that’s his way of saying how our loving relationship makes him feel secure.  I don’t know, but what I do know is, that our kids are super thoughtful and creative!  That deeply touched my husband and I.  





 2.)  Yard Work  ~  If you’ve been reading my blog lately, you have heard me drone on about home improvements and spring purging, etc.  Well, we are continuing on this trek and yesterday my daughter took it upon herself (and enlisted the help of her brother) to rake out a flower bed.  This was quite an undertaking and required dumping at least 3 wheelbarrows full of leaves and sticks.  Her brother jumped ship midway through, but I was outside to offer moral support.  The important thing is that she took the initiative to spruce up the yard!  Her goal is to clean up one flower bed each day.  This is quite a goal considering she doesn’t normally do yardwork.  Although, in her defense, I have to say that she did mow the backyard on the John Deere over the weekend.  She says she wanted to practice her driving skills.  She said she even practiced parallel parking with the mower!  Haha!  She’s a nut.  But you know what they say about nuts, right?  … They usually don’t fall far from the tree.  Haha!  I digress…  

The common denominator in both of these instances is initiative.  That is one of the first steps toward personal responsibility.  I often preach, “If you see something that needs to be done (whether or not you made the mess or created the situation), take it upon yourself to fix it!”  What a blessing it is to see the kids practicing what I’ve preached all these years!  Love my kids!  

*P.S.  I handwrote my kids a special thank you note for the Easter baskets and gifts, not only thanking them for their thoughtfulness, but also reminding them that we pray for them daily.  We pray that they will serve Jesus every day of their lives and that they will make good choices.  And also reminded them of our love for them… My son read his note again later and he said it really touched him.  I thought that was so special.  I plan on writing the kids more notes in the future as it is something they can reflect on way into the future.  

 *P.P.S.  We also mailed an Easter basket to our grown son, who is 25 with a special Easter card enclosed.  He may not be all that interested in the basket or the candy, but that’s not why I sent it.  I paid $8 for shipping to mail him a basket of love from mom and dad!  I always want our kids to know they are loved beyond words and daily prayed for!



Beautiful Easter flowers from my best friend!  (aka husband!)  🙂




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Made in His Image


“So God created human beings in His own image.  In the image of God He created them male and female he created them.”  ~ Genesis 1:27  NLT

I’ve heard it said that every little girl wants to know if she’s pretty enough and every little boy wants to know if he has what it takes to be a man.  On the surface, every little girl’s question seems superficial, but, at the heart of the matter rests her confidence and self-worth.  And, really, so does every little boy’s question.

We’ve raised one strong, young man and he’s flown the nest.  We’re in the process of raising two teenagers now.  It’s incredible the challenges teens face just in our everyday culture.  We all were teens once and faced our own battles, but it seems the fierceness of the war has greatly increased with the epidemic of cutting, culture of death, eating disorders and “everything goes” mentality.  One reason I believe things have escalated to the degree they have is because we’re living in the end times and the enemy knows his time is short.

What I’d love to remind each little girl or young lady is that you are absolutely beautiful!  Stunning even!  No, you don’t need to emulate the air brushed cover of that magazine nor starve yourself to look like a certain celebrity.  Just be yourself, hon.  If you’re so busy trying to be like someone else, who will be you, the person God created you to be?  Accept yourself as the masterpiece that God created because when He creates something, it’s truly gorgeous!  Smile.  Smile because you’re even more beautiful when you spread joy.  You see, true and lasting beauty resides on the inside anyway.  And those emotions you’re riding like a roller coaster, dear one, they will ease.  Just remember, this too shall pass.  Don’t make any decision based on how you’re feeling.  Seek out wise counsel and all will be well, my friend.  Your future is so bright!  Don’t let anything discourage you or stand in your way.  God has great plans for you!  The best is yet to come!

What I’d love to remind each little boy or young man is that you are made in the image of God and you totally have what it takes to be a man!  A man full of wisdom, strength, courage, leadership and, yes, even compassion.  Wise because wisdom avoids the folly of this world and needless pitfalls.  Strength because it’s needed to walk out God’s plan for your life.  Courage because it will take all you’ve got to say no to anything less than God’s best for you. Leadership because that is the mantle God has placed on you, your place in this world.  Compassion because we don’t travel alone.  It’s our duty to take as many to heaven as we can and lead by example.  For, you see, character is what it takes to be a real man.

Young men, seek out godly mentors and their wise counsel.  Be teachable.  It will serve you well.  Learn from those who have walked this road ahead of you, so you don’t make the same mistakes they’ve made.  Be accountable.  Sin doesn’t live long out in the open, but usually in the dark, quiet recesses of our hearts.  Expose it.  Turn the light on and watch it flee.  Submit.  Surrender your heart to God wholly and watch what He will do with your life!  Seeds of greatness are on the inside of you, son!  We’re all waiting and watching for you to soar with the eagles, man of God!

And, to both young ladies and young men, I leave you this:

Guard your heart above all else,
    for it determines the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23



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30 Ideas of Easter Basket Goodies…


If you’re looking for ideas of things to fill your child or grandchild’s Easter basket with, the following list should get your creative juices flowing.  Of course, it goes without saying, choose age appropriate gifts.

Easter is such a season of hope!  It’s always a joyful time as we celebrate the Risen Savior!  Love the Resurrection Eggs too and have used those as teaching tools down through the years with my kids.  I’ve been filling Easter baskets for 25 years and I’ve learned to get a little creative, especially since I don’t like the idea of too much candy (= high dental bills among other things!).  My three are older now, but the tradition continues.  While our primary focus as believers is on Jesus, we still enjoy fixing up Easter baskets.

30 Things To Put in Easter Baskets:

  1. candy (of course!)
  2. gum
  3. fruit roll up type snack
  4. toothbrush
  5. toothpaste
  6. small Bible
  7. small journal
  8. Easter themed book
  9. “This Coupon Good For ______” inside plastic Easter egg
  10. “I love you” note inside Easter egg
  11. coins inside egg
  12. small craft kit
  13. gel pens
  14. colorful markers/pencils
  15. coloring book
  16. puzzle book (word search, etc.)
  17. Post-its
  18. Scotch tape (what kid doesn’t love tape?!)
  19. Slinky
  20. other small toy
  21. play doh
  22. body wash
  23. loofah/sponge
  24. bubble bath
  25. shampoo
  26. lotion
  27. lip balm
  28. nail polish
  29. small manicure set
  30. key chain

What do you think?  Have anything to add to the list?

~ May you all have a blessed Easter!  He is Risen!  He is Risen Indeed! 


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I Found It!!!

Have you ever misplaced something and looked everywhere to no avail?  I mean, for about a year?!  I thought I was losing my marbles when redemption appeared to me today!!

I have earnestly prayed that I would find it.  I have believed I would.  But when I actually laid my eyes on it today, I could hardly believe the answer was finally granted!

I was putting away some of my winter clothes and sorting through a dresser drawer when I felt something inside a fuschia summer shirt of mine.  I curiously and slowly unfolded the shirt and to my surprise…there it was!!!  I thought my heart was going to drop.  I nearly had to sit down to take in the miracle of it all!

You see, I hid my daughter’s $400 iPod Touch last May because she was grounded from using it.  The only problem was… I also hid it from myself!  And, try as I might, I could not rack my brain enough to figure out what I had done with it!  I detest when I outsmart myself.  Haha!  I remember thinking at the time, ‘She’ll never find it here’.  Little did I know, neither would I.  At least for nearly a year.  Do you know how much mental space has been freed up as a result of finding this little electronic device?!  Now, I can move on to solving life’s other great mysteries that perplex me!  Haha!

Her iPod has more storage space than she will likely ever need, but it’s there if she does.  We went in half with her and gave it to her as a gift several years ago.  It’s a handy little thing as she can text me if she has access to Wi-fi.  I like that since she doesn’t have a cell phone yet.  She has taken some fantastic pictures on it as well, especially while on a missions trip to Spain a couple years ago.

I just had to shout it from the rooftops that I am officially in total custody of all my marbles!  I’ve got it all together!   At least for today …


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My #1 Son

They say that motherhood is the only time your heart walks outside of your body.  I tend to agree.  All three of my children captivated my heart the day they were born and my heart will never let go!  It doesn’t matter how old they get, they’re still deeply rooted in my heart for always.  

This mother’s heart was overjoyed last night when my #1 son called.  I haven’t heard his voice for a couple months, making it especially wonderful.  (We text fairly often, so there’s some redemption there.  Thank God for technology and unlimited texting!) We live 1,000 miles apart and the distance is difficult.  I’m hopeful that we will move closer at some point in the near future.  His siblings miss him very much also!

It was so great to hear that he’s doing well and performing with excellence in his job.  He’s very competitive (like his mother) and it serves him well.  We invariably can’t wait until we visit the next time.  Seeing him just twice a year is hard.  I know many parents with grown children live thousands of miles apart, but I am not one who is happy about it!  For one thing, when grandchildren begin to arrive, I need to be there.  I want to be a part of their lives, not just Christmastime Grammy!  My #1 son and I have always been close so it’s especially challenging.  He’ll turn 26 this summer, which is really quite amazing, especially considering I’m only 35!  Haha! …Not really.  However, I do remember 35!  🙂  I’m really unsure how this thing works – the kids getting older and I’m getting younger!  Fuzzy math, that’s all.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think of and pray for him.  He’s such a special young man, who God has great plans for!   If you have children, you know how it is with your firstborn.  He/she is your “experiment”.  I remember when I was expecting him, I had lofty plans to use only cloth diapers and would definitely breastfeed.  He would have only natural and healthy things, only the best!  Well, I did use cloth diapers for a while, but then switched to disposables.  And I did start out nursing, but complications arose, so we switched to formula.  Ah, the best laid plans…  But, my point was, with the firstborn, they seem to have your best intentions and your best years.  There would be nine years in between him and my next one.  So, he was the only child for a long time.  He had my undivided attention.    

We homeschooled him from 5th-12th grades and he was dual enrolled at the community college during his high school years.  He nearly got his Associate’s Degree by the time he graduated from high school.  We’ve watched him become a very responsible young adult and ultimately choose a career path that brings tremendous fulfillment and challenge.  He’s at the stage now where he’s flourishing and this mother would really like to share life with him again.  I guess I feel like we’ve nurtured and educated him and now I’d like to sit back and enjoy watching up close the successful outcome.  There’s no greater joy than watching your children gain their independence and doing well in general.  My job as a parent is to work myself out of a job.  And, with him, the day-to-day parenting is done.  I will always be his mother, but I won’t always be there to tell him that energy drinks are bad for you!  Wink, wink.  😉  

Despite his stage of independence, sons and daughters need cheerleaders throughout their lifetime.  And, I will forever be his biggest fan.  I will always hold life’s banner that reads, “You Can Do It” and “I’m So Very Proud Of You”!  Love, Mom



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Teaching Kids the Art of Good Conversation

children at play pic

     It would seem that manners and proper etiquette are elements of ancient history, however, nothing could be further from the truth.  We convey our thoughts and feelings through communication, and it is vital to learn how to effectively do so.

Here are 5 ways anyone can improve their conversational skills:

1.)  Eye contact

Have you ever spoke with someone whose eyes landed everywhere else but on you?  As if there was something far more interesting just past you?  Or out the window?  When we give others the gift of eye contact, it shows that we value them as an individual and that we are interested in what they may say.  If we want the conversation to progress to any other level, this is the entry gate to proceed through.

2.)  Smile

When we smile, we immediately put the other person at ease.  It’s an investment in friendship.  It lets them know you’re happy to be with them.  True joy is born from the heart.  Some smile and laugh more freely than others, but, remember it requires fewer muscles to smile than it does to frown.  Having a good sense of humor certainly aids effective communication.  Even those not gifted with a natural sense of humor, can learn one or two funny stories.

3.)  Read books

    Engaging in interesting and meaningful conversation requires some level of information aside from the latest movie.  Read books on a variety of topics to expand your interests, knowledge and curiosity.  Curious people are interesting people, and interesting people make pleasant conversationalists.  They ask questions.  They want to know why something occurred.  

4.)  See Saw

This is my favorite point.  Perhaps because I view it as one of the most important.  I always tell my children that good conversation is like a see saw (otherwise known as a teeter totter).  You have a turn (& go up on the see saw).  Then, the other person has a turn (& goes up on the seesaw).  It’s a good visual for kids (and adults for that matter).  Effective communication takes turns and does not talk over top of another.  I talk, you talk.  And, we all are happier for it!

5.)  Be others focused

No one cares for a self absorbed “know it all”, right?  Let others “toot your horn”, but, please don’t toot it yourself!  When we display that we are genuinely interested in the other person, it naturally leads to good conversation.  People love talking about themselves.  And if you can get the other person engaged in discussing their favorite baseball team or hobby, you’ve created a memorable chat.

As with anything of value, practice makes perfect.  Productive and compelling conversation is worth every effort.  It’s the prime ingredient lasting friendships are made of!

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Our children…Our Greatest Joys

We have been blessed by God with three children, ages 25, 16 and 14, and are so thankful for the joy they’ve brought into our lives.  We really couldn’t imagine life without them.

I had my oldest when I was 18 and was a single parent for 6 years.  His father wasn’t involved in his life, but I was determined to raise my son to the best of my ability.  My parents and entire family provided a great deal of support, and I am forever grateful for their love and assistance.

My husband and I met in June of 1994 and married the following June.  We were overjoyed at the birth of our only daughter 2 years later and younger son 20 months after her!  My goal was to have all our children by the age of 30.  I’m not sure why I thought that was a good idea.  I suppose so I’d still be young enough to get on the floor to play with them.  🙂  I was 29 when our last was born.

Our two boys weighed over 9 pounds and our daughter was a few ounces shy of 8 pounds…big babies, but so precious!  I love the Scripture in Psalm 139:13-17 that says:

“For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.

My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!

How great is the sum of them!”

…Every life is such a priceless gift, a tiny slice of heaven.

Yes, raising children is a parent’s greatest and most challenging endeavor.  There are seasons where you may question your entire repertoire of parenting wisdom.  There have been many days that I asked, “Where can I go to turn in my Mommy badge?”  So many questions we don’t have the answer to.  So many concerns and worries we bear.  Parenting is so complex because each child is so unique with their own set of challenges.

My greatest piece of parenting advice is to pray and “Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.” (I Peter 5:7)

I often remind God that He made these treasures we are trying to raise.  Please help!  Send an owner’s manual or something, God.  I’ve found the truest manual to be the Word of God.  It is there we find the foundation for living.  When we model before our children how they should live, we are promised in Proverbs 22:6:

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

God’s Word is truth, and that’s what we hang our faith on daily.

Then, there are times in our lives that we are so proud of our children, we could burst!  So proud of their choices and their character taking shape.  These seasons make it all worth it!

Each of our children has their own distinct personality, as I’m sure yours do, as well.  Our oldest is very laid back and quiet, although can be otherwise in his vocation.  Our daughter has a very bold personality (like her dad) and likes noise.  Our younger son is like his brother, easy going and doesn’t mind hanging back and observing the situation before becoming involved in it.

All are our most valued assets, worthy of a lifetime of investment.

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