Category Archives: Parenting

How to manage (and CONQUER) the daily stresses of being a mom while staying sane

IMG_6583Recently, I asked my 13 year old daughter, “What do you think I do to stay sane as I mother you children and manage the daily stresses of our household?”  She laughed and immediately said, “You take baths.”

This may seem like a strange answer to such a complex question, but it’s actually the first thing that came to my mind when I asked myself that question just a few minutes before asking Emmy.

“What does taking baths have to do with managing a household and staying sane in the process?”

My days are probably like yours;  school, chores, and  extra-curricular activities like dance and gymnastics.  We have church, small group, youth group, grocery shopping, doctor and dentist visits, trips to the library, and play dates with friends.   I try to prioritize exercise, dates with my hubs, and keeping a semi-clean house.   I’ve been seeking simplicity and a slower pace of life, but life with children is BUSY!  There’s no way around it.

Definitions for busy include the following:

Having a great deal to do.  Occupied with or concentrating on a particular activity or object of attention.  Full of activity.  Excessively detailed or decorated; fussy.  Engaged.  To keep occupied. Sustaining much activity.  Cluttered with detail to the point of being distracted. Being in use. Having many things to do.

I can’t read through that list of definitions and think of one mother who is NOT busy.  We are ALL busy.

How do we manage and conquer the day to day tasks at hand?

I became a mother sixteen years ago with the pregnancy of our firstborn, Josiah.  I remember carrying bags of groceries up three flights of stairs to our un-air-conditioned apartment in the heat of summer.  I remember lying on our bed dreaming of the son I was carrying in my womb. When Josiah was born, my whole word seemed to revolve around him.  I was captivated by every facial expression, every sound, and every new thing he did.   I embraced motherhood and continuously asked God for help.


The day Emmy was born, I went grocery shopping at Walmart.  I had done a full weeks worth of shopping, was carrying those groceries up the stairs to our second story condo when I felt something in my body start to happen, signifying the onset of labor for our baby girl.

I remember feeling afraid that I would not love our new baby as much as I loved Josiah.  The moment I held Emmy in my arms, all fear washed away as I was overcome with love.


One night shortly after Emmy was born as I was awake feeding her and soothing her cries, I felt so exhausted and overwhelmed.  I started to cry, thinking, “how can I do this?”  “How can I be a mother?”   I called my mom the next morning and told her how overwhelmed I felt.  She assured me that with God as my strength, I could take care of my children, and I could do it with joy. She encouraged me and reminded me that I should embrace this precious time with my newborn girl awake in the night.  It would pass so quickly.

My mom was right.

Isabelle came when Emmy was almost four years old.  Until that point Eric and I had been actively involved in our churches’ young marrieds ministry.  When Isabelle was born, we were thrilled, and we were also exhausted.  I couldn’t even fathom continuing to lead the young married’s small group we had previously been leading.  We left the young married ministry and focused on thriving with our new family of five.


When Isabelle was two-and-a half, Judah was born.  Judah was full of the most amazing, heart melting smiles, but he was also especially difficult for me in his early years of life.  He was that child who would throw tantrums in the grocery store so bad that I had to leave.  He threw many fits and challenged me every day.  Judah is a strong willed, determined boy!  I struggled with feeling so much love for Judah and also so much frustration.  (Judah is still strong and determined, but he is also full of sweetness, generosity, and creativity with his fits now fewer and farther between.)


We had FOUR children.  Life was full, challenging, and fun.

We thought we were done having children from my womb.  I gave away almost all of my maternity and baby clothes with the exception of a few keepsakes. We had a dream to adopt a baby from Ethiopia.  Shortly after being accepted into an adoption program, my husband and I went through a difficult time in our marriage.

We had to contact our adoption agency and let them know that we wouldn’t be continuing the process. I was so grieved.  I  wondered how I could manage our home, homeschooling, and caring for our four children as we worked through all that we needed to work through.  God was so faithful, and we did the work we needed to do.  After a difficult and beautiful year of counseling and healing, we got pregnant with baby number five, child of grace, Tirzah Raelle.

With the birth of Tirzah came a joy in motherhood that I hadn’t yet known.   Going from four children to five felt so natural.  Life didn’t feel crazier, it felt calmer.  Tirzah means, “she is my delight.”  We all truly delighted in Tirzah and in our growing family.


When Tirzah was about eighteen months old, my husband brought up the question of whether or not we wanted more children.  I did NOT feel ready.  LOL!   But Eric did:).  We talked about all of our reasons for not wanting another child and decided they were foolish reasons.   The next month Ruthie was in my womb!

I was so sick in my early pregnancy.  Sick with nausea and also a nasty cold/cough that I couldn’t kick.  I was so sick that I slept in our guest room just so I could cough without waking anyone else up.  I questioned my ability to have another child.  I felt angry, despairing, and less than happy about being pregnant.

During one of those difficult nights I had a dream.  I dreamed that I was giving birth to our baby. I saw myself give birth to a baby girl.   I woke up and knew in my heart that I was pregnant with a girl!  That afternoon I took a bath and poured out my heart in prayer for our baby.   I asked God who she was and what she would be like.  I asked him for her name.   I heard the name RuthAnne.

I cried and cried with joy when I heard her name because I KNEW that is who she was and that my Father had just named her.   I told Eric that I dreamed our baby was a girl and that God had given me her name.  He asked the name, but I wouldn’t tell him.  I told him that if the name was from God, he was going to give it to Eric too.

Shortly thereafter, in the middle of the night, Eric heard the name Ruth Anne, and then he saw the name RuthAnne as one name.   A few days later I asked him if he had heard a name and he told me that he had.   I rejoiced in the Lord when he told me that he had heard and seen the name “RuthAnne”!   God is good and God is REAL!!!


When Ruthie was born we quickly adjusted to being a family of eight!

We now have two teenagers, a nine year old, a seven year old, a four year old, and a two year old. Life is full, busy, challenging, and crazy good!  Praise the Lord!!!

How do I manage and conquer the day to day tasks at hand? 

I take baths!

Every day I take a bath. Sometimes I don’t get there until 11:00 at night, but I get there.

In my bath I have quiet time.  I read.  I pray.  I dream, and I contemplate my days.  I think through and pray through things that are troubling me.  I ask God for help.  I read God’s Word. I enjoy myself with tea, bubbles, and books.  It’s my time to be Melissa, daughter of God, bride of Christ.  I cry in my bathtub.  I laugh in my bath tub.  I get angry in my bathtub, and I relax in my bath tub.

I get out of that tub, ready for sleep and for a new day.

It’s really not so much about the tub as it is the the quiet time with the Lord. 

This time alone with the Lord, in His Word, in prayer, and in reading good books refreshes me.   This time keeps me sane.

No “how to” matters without these daily times of refreshing with Jesus.

Every “how to” comes from Jesus.

I understand that mothering is a high calling.

I asked my husband Eric the question, “What do you think I do to stay sane as I manage our household and children?”  He thought for a minute and then said, “You realize the high calling of motherhood.”

Ever since becoming a mother,  I have been greatly encouraged by my own mother(who takes a minimum of one bath a day), two books written by my mother’s mentor called “A Mother’s Touch” and “A Mother’s Time,” and by a ministry called “Above Rubies.

The ministry of Above Rubies has helped me to understand that as I mother my children I am doing the greatest kingdom work.   I am serving, pouring out my life, and loving the way Jesus taught us how to love.  I realize I am not alone in this great job of mothering.  I need continually encouragement from the example of other godly mothers!

As I embrace motherhood, all the mundane tasks of mothering become less stressful and much more manageable!  I realize how important, and how honoring to God my role as a wife and mother is.  I see the eternal value of being a mother.  I love being a wife and mother even in the midst of chaos!

I know chaos.  I experience stress.   I know what it’s like to feel exhausted and overwhelmed.  I find my joy and my strength in Jesus and I fill myself with encouragement from His Word and from other women who also embrace and delight in motherhood.


So what are some “how to” tips for managing and conquering those daily stresses of being a mom? 

1. Take baths everyday, meaning get alone with God, pray, relax, and feed on His Word.

2. Breathe and smile and sing… When you’re in a hurry trying to get out the door and you can’t find any matching socks for your kids, and then you realize you also can’t find them matching shoes because they left them in the van the day before…Then your four year old starts crying that she’s hungry as you spill the tea you intended to bring in the van on yourself…..At that same moment your toddler tells you she pooped. You hurry to change her but you can’t find the diaper wipes so you use paper towels instead….Ok, now your ready to go, but then your thirteen year old remembers that she forgot to let out the chickens.  You look around your kitchen and feel frustrated because your sink is full of dishes that you didn’t get a chance to wash, and there’s a pile of crumbs on the floor that you didn’t get to sweep up…..Then your seven year old loses his first tooth by it literally, randomly flying out of his mouth as he’s heading out the door……Then you realize that you left your cell phone on your bathroom sink so you run to get it, meanwhile your older kids are getting frustrated because you are going to be late to wherever it is you are going.  You finally get into your van when your nine year old realizes she left her back pack by the front door so she runs back into the house to get it….You look back at your beautiful children, but not before noticing how messy your van is and think to yourself  ‘We really need to clean this van, it is disgusting.’ You sigh one of your frustrated sighs as your nine year old enters the van with her back pack and buckles up… You’re now ready to go.  You turn on the radio, say a prayer, and breathe.   You sing and you smile and you pray as you drive even though getting out of the door was so crazy and you are now going to be late to wherever it is you’re going.


3. Include your children in your day to day tasks.  I think it’s safe to say that unless you are home alone, it is impossible to cook a meal much less use the bathroom without being interrupted by your children.  I’ve learned to include my children in meal making.  I’ve often worn a baby in the Ergo, while having toddler next to me on a stool or sitting on our kitchen counter while I cook.  They love watching me and helping me cook.   The irritation that may come from having them so close while cooking is well worth it in the long run.  I now have three older children who love to cook and bake!  I no longer have to cook every meal, because my children are capable and eager to cook.  Teach your kids how to clean and help when they are young!

4. Let things go! You won’t get everything you want to get done, done in a day.   At least, I rarely do.  Yesterday, I wanted to clean my pantry, go on a walk, wash my kitchen floor, and read-a-loud to my kids.  I didn’t get that walk in, nor did I wash my kitchen floor, BUT I did clean my pantry, take a nap with Ruthie, and read to my kids.  Ask the Lord to show you what needs to be prioritized in your day and don’t fret over what you didn’t get done.


5. Take care of your body.  Mothers, especially need to eat healthy, try to get good sleep (often this is difficult when we have young babies) and exercise.  It’s easy to think we are too busy or stressed out to make healthy choices for our bodies, but these things make a world of difference when it comes to managing daily stress.   I’m a fan of cutting refined sugar and processed foods out of my diet.  I feel SO much better when I engage in regular exercise like dance, quick 15 minute circuit workouts in my family room, or walks with my kids. Sleep seems to always be a struggle for me as I love staying up late and I’ve had a baby or toddler for most of my married life:).

6. Make love with your husband. What’s making love got to do with it?  A lot!  If you find yourself getting cranky and stressed out, try getting jiggy with your man.  A big “O” can do wonders for your mood, sleep, and relationship with your husband.  You don’t have to be “in the mood” to make love with your husband.  We mamas are not often “in the mood” after a long day of taking care of kids, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t capable of making love.  Go for it, get it started, and the results will help keep you sane.

7. Don’t journey through motherhood alone.   We need help as we mother our children. We need older women who have “been there and done that” to encourage us and teach us. We need friends who will pray for us.  We may need someone to cook a meal for us, help us clean, or babysit our children.   It is important for us to reach out to other women, especially when we are feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.   It is important for us to immerse ourselves in truth and encouragement. Ask for help and ask for prayer!!!


8. Consider the needs of others.  When you are feeling overwhelmed, think of people in your life who are going through a trial and pray for them, send them a text, or give them a call. Sometimes we can get so focused on our own struggles, that we forget about the struggles of the people around us.  Choose to consider the needs of others and you’ll find your own trials seeming less painful.  Every day brothers and sisters around the world experience the same difficulties we do.  We are never alone….

9. Have FUN and practice gratitude!!! What brings you joy?  What do you have fun doing? Painting, running, watching movies, playing board games, dancing, hiking, or eating out?  What are you thankful for?  Beautiful sunsets, coffee, dandelion bouquets, chocolate, the smell of rain?  Just because we are mothers doesn’t mean we stop having fun.  I kinda think moms have the potential to have the most fun of anyone in the world.  Gratitude for all the little things makes life as a mom way more fun.  Do the things you love to do and be grateful every single day!



The Virtuous Wife (and mom)

10 Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband safely trusts her;
So he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
And willingly works with her hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
She brings her food from afar.
15 She also rises while it is yet night,
And provides food for her household,
And a portion for her maidservants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
From her profits she plants a vineyard.
17 She girds herself with strength,
And strengthens her arms.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is good,
And her lamp does not go out by night.
19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hand holds the spindle.
20 She extends her hand to the poor,
Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
For all her household is clothed with scarlet.
22 She makes tapestry for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies sashes for the merchants.
25 Strength and honor are her clothing;
She shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates.

This Proverbs 31 woman was a busy gal.  She worked hard in many areas as she took care of her family. Ultimately, what caused her husband and children to praise her was not her beauty or her success, but her fear of the Lord.

Love God above all else!  Put Jesus first and you’ll stay sane and CONQUER the daily stresses of life!








Traveling With Children

DSC01207aOur family loves to travel!!!  We love going on outreach trips and vacations together.  We love the memories we create on these trips whether by plane, by van, or by RV.  Traveling with children requires preparation, planning, and work, but it is SO worth it.  We grow closer to each other through these shared experiences, and we grow in our love for various missionaries around the world.

This past October we went on a family trip to Asia. My mom, sister, brother, and close friend joined us on this trip.   It was an incredible experience!   We learned so much and grew in so many ways!

We get so comfortable in Colorado.  It’s easy to forget the struggles of people all around the world.  We get caught up in our own lives, our own problems.  Travelling puts things into perspective and gets us out of complacency.

We recently returned home from vacationing at our Fish camp in Lake Providence, Louisiana for part of Christmas break.  We enjoyed watching movies, finishing a puzzle we started last summer, playing games, reading, fishing, and just hanging out together as a family.

Eric and I have learned a lot about traveling with children from our many family adventures.  In this post, I’ll share some travel tips and hope to encourage you to take your family on outreach trips and vacations.

Before any of our children were born, we prayed that they would be good travelers. Ever since Eric and I were young teenagers we have wanted to travel around the country and around the world using arts in ministry.  We love to learn about what God is doing through people around the world and get so excited about different cultures, languages, and foods!  We didn’t want our childbearing years to be devoid of travel and adventure, so we decided our children would travel with us and we would experience the world together as a family.   Eric works hard to provide for our family to be able to take these trips.   Travel is a priority in our home and something we feel called by God to do during our time on earth as we raise our children. It is by the grace of God that we have been able to travel, by His grace that our travels have been blessed, and by His grace we will continue to be able to travel in the future.

I have seen our children grow closer to each other through our vacations and outreach trips together. Traveling with our children allows us to have large chunks of quality time together. We are so busy in our normal every day life. When we get away from the normal, routine business, we are able to bond and grow in new ways.   Outreach trips and vacations provide our children with plenty of time and opportunity to get to know each other better, see each other accomplish new things, and have fun together.  They’ve got their best friends right there experiencing the same amazing, difficult, fun, frustrating, exciting, boring, delicious, scary, powerful, beautiful things we experience when we travel.

Our family trips have made a huge impact in how our children relate to other people. Our older children feel comfortable talking with people of any age and ethnicity. They are able to freely communicate with people who are different from themselves.  They do not judge people based on skin color or the amount of money they have.   I was amazed watching our twelve year old daughter confidently  speak to a large group of women at a school in Asia.   She bravely taught a baking class to elementary school children, figuring out what to bake and how to communicate with the children, all on her own.  Our 14 year old son taught keyboarding and enthusiastically prayed for people.  Our 8 year old daughter made friends with local children and helped us wherever she could.  Our 5 year old participated in the art class Eric taught.   Tirzah who is cautiously courageous and learning to overcome shyness freely danced in worship.  This fills me with joy!   I want our children to have hearts not just for Colorado and their circle of friends, but for the whole world!  Taking our children on these trips helps make this happen.

Traveling is an educational experience.  Whether or not you home school your children, traveling is a wonderful way to teach your children about geography, culture, history, architecture, art, music, speech and so much more!  Our children have not just learned about the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and Southern United States from a textbook. They’ve been there, met the people, tasted the food, and experienced the culture firsthand.  We look at maps, read books, watch videos, and talk about the places we are going to before we go there.  Traveling has been an integral part of our children’s home school education.

So, here are my tips for travelling with children.

Packing.   We pack as light as possible.   On most of our trips we are able to do laundry which helps me out a lot.  I pack clothing that is light weight, comfortable, and easy to wash and wear. I pack our suitcases based on who will be sharing a room together and rarely does anyone get a suitcase all to themselves.  Any item in question is probably best left at home.   Fewer items to keep track of means less stress and less mess.   Ziplock bags are helpful for organizing socks, undies, and toiletries.  Each child gets their own back pack in which they can pack whatever toys, activities, or personal items they want during travel.

Travel by plane.  Our children, for the most part enjoy travel by plane, especially international flights.   Those international flights are long, but they also provide meals and unlimited movies and games, and those little bags that include an eye mask, ear plugs, and a toothbrush and toothpaste.  This is all very exciting for kids.  (I find it to be exciting too:))  Waiting in checkout lines, going through security, and time spent before boarding our plane provides great opportunities to learn and talk about patience.  Teamwork is put into practice as everyone pulls suitcases, carries car seats, back packs, pushing elevator buttons, etc…  Eric and I have learned that pairing up a younger sibling with an older sibling works well for travel by plane.   Our younger children travel almost perfectly when sitting next to an older sibling.  We’ve received many comments from flight attendants regarding how well behaved our children are.  Pairing those younger children with their big brother or sister makes the whole experience more of an adventure and opportunity to be “big”.  We monitor what they watch, are right there for whatever they need, but have the older siblings help with their earphones, drinks, etc.. I always try to pack a variety of snacks for each child’s back pack when traveling by plane.  If our children are bored, they’ll pull out a snack, if they get hungry, I can remind them they have their snacks in their back pack.  Snacks are a must!

Travel by van or RV.   A couple of years ago we bought a used Class C RV.  I have a love/hate relationship with our RV.   RVing is an adventure like no other.  There is something wonderful about a house on wheels.   Something delightful about having the whole family packed into this tiny space that goes just about anywhere you want it to go provided there are good roads to travel on.   I love having all of our items tucked away in the little drawers and cupboards.  I love my cozy, comfy little bed, our tiny RV tv, and meals served and eaten on picnic tables at various campgrounds and RV resorts.  I could go on and on about RV resorts.   We spent 3 weeks traveling up the east coast from Florida staying at a number of different places.  Oh it was fun!   But with RVing you never know what is going to break, when the AC is going to stop running, a tire is going to go flat, the toilet get clogged, etc. etc. etc….  Our children still talk about Eric getting his hand stuck in the toilet on our first RV trip.   He manually unplugged our clogged toilet.  (We had not yet learned proper RV toilet usage and the result was major yuck!)  There are plenty of things to do in an RV.  Our children read books when we travel by RV or Van.  They watch movies on our little RV tv. They color, and talk, and we listen to music or audio adventures together.   Of course the Ipad is always a great boredom buster when it’s loaded with fun and educational apps and games.

Items I recommend for travelling with children:

Snacks and plenty of them.  Goldfish, dried fruit, gum, beef jerky, crackers, fruit snacks, string cheese, suckers, and popcorn are some of our kid’s favorite travelling snacks.

Activity books like Melissa and Doug sticker and coloring books. Tirzah is especially a fan of the faces book.  We also enjoy Color Wonder books.

Audio adventures like the Brinkman Family Adventures.  This series is our current favorite. We’ve listened to season 1 and 2 and LOVED it!  All ages will enjoy the  adventures and stories of the Brinkman Family in this audio series.  If you are thinking about taking a family outreach trip, you should totally listen to this audio series!

An EtchASketch.  We brought one on our last RV trip and our kids all used it and enjoyed it.   Sometimes it’s just good to put down the “devices” and use an old fashioned toy.

Ipods and Ipads.  Our older children enjoy playing games and listening to music when we travel.

Yarn.  Our older girls love to knit and finger knit.  This non-messy activity is also productive and creative.

Remember less is more when traveling.  (with the exception of snacks)  Children can entertain themselves more easily than we think they can. Even a cup and a spoon can be entertaining to a toddler when travelling. (I’m serious!)  Your kids should be able to fit all their personal items, toys, and activities in their own back pack or bag.

Behavior dos and don’ts:

We don’t allow fighting.  Our children argue every day, but we don’t allow them to get into full blown fights.   Traveling together provides our children with the opportunity to grow closer to each other.  They learn to work things out, get a long, help each other and enjoy each other. A perk to having a big family that travels together is that our kids don’t really miss their friends when we travel. They are each others friends.   They have playmates every where we go.  I am extremely thankful for this.

Our children need to be respectful of the people and places we go.  They need to pick up after themselves, say please and thank you, be patient, and cooperate as a team.  They are not allowed to make fun of people or customs that our different from ours.  They need to participate in whatever it is we decide to do and have good attitudes.

Traveling with babies.   Rarely have I traveled without a baby.   My number one recommendation for travelling with a baby is a good baby carrier. My favorites are the Ergo and Sakura Bloom ring sling.  I wear my babies and toddlers wherever we go.  They are calmer, happier, and more easily adjust to new environments when they are worn close to mama or daddy.  Our little ones are also safer when worn in a carrier.  People are far less likely to reach out and touch a baby that is worn in a sling than a baby who is in a stroller or being carried.   I pack a nursing cover up so that I can feed them whenever they want and this almost always puts them at ease. For the most part our babies go with the flow. When we travel in the RV or van, our little ones are all safely buckled into their car seats.  Older siblings are almost all that our babies need to keep them entertained.  They take in all of the conversations, questions, and noise.  Only when they are hungry, sleepy, or in need of a diaper change do they usually cry. Once they are old enough for solid foods, I pack fun snacks for our babies and toddlers like crackers or healthy cookies.  For me, the most difficult part about traveling with babies is sleep adjustments.   New rooms, new beds, different schedules make it more difficult for our babies to fall asleep and stay asleep.  This means more time slept in my arms, more night time breast feedings, and less sleep for me.   I have learned to rely on the Lord for His strength, nap when I can, and know that our babies will adjust after a few days. Like I said earlier, it is worth it!

High Point Low Point.  We try to maintain our family Bible times when we travel.  We don’t want to take a vacation from our relationship with the Lord, so especially in recent years and on all of our mission trips we have a devotional time and also do “High Point Low Point.” We share one high point and one low point from the day.  We all enjoy hearing what each other has to say.  This isn’t something we do everyday in Colorado, but something special for vacations and mission trips.  Oftentimes, I am surprised by what my husband and children share.  This is another way we grow closer to each other and learn more about each other when we travel.

Road Games

On road trips we play games like, Eye Spy,  the Alphabet Game,  the John Deere Tractor Game (We made this one up.  It’s a sort of eye spy John Deer tractor game involving a complicated scoring system that can get pretty intense).  So fun!  These games are good for keeping the driver alert on a long road trip.

 My Number One Tip.  Stay Calm, Have Fun. Happy Mama equals happy family. 

I’ve learned that when mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy. When I’m frazzled and angry, this effects everyone’s mood. When I’m uncomfortable or irritated, it rubs off on the whole family. It’s important especially for us wives and mothers to have fun and be joyful on family vacations.  I have my moments.  Things do not always go as planned.  There will always be problems on every trip.   Your attitude about those problems can be contagious and affect the experience for everyone.  Eric and I get into arguments when we travel just like our children do, but we do our best to stay connected and resolve things quickly.  Eric’s likes to remind us of Rick Steves quote, “Be fanatically positive, militantly optimistic.”  On this note, make sure you buy a travel guide especially for family vacations.  For a $15 book you can save a ton of time and money!

With God’s help we try to remain peaceful when stressful situations arise.  When the kids throw fits, the best thing I can do is to stay calm, love them and get through the fit.  On a recent trip passing through customs, one of our children decided they didn’t want to co-operate with the customs officer.  This child refused to look at the officer, began to kick and scream, and go into one of the biggest public fits any of our children have ever thrown.  Inside I was frazzled, horrified, embarrassed, did not know what to do, and felt like crying.  Most of the people in the lines behind and next to us smiled graciously at us during this fit, but there were a number of people who looked at us with shock and disgust and I could just imagine what they were thinking.   Granted, it was 1:00 in the morning after an extremely long and exhausting day for us and our children.

We FINALLY made it through customs and our child fell asleep a short time later.  This experience required me to stay calm and also made me realize I had some work to do in training this little one in the area of obedience even when tired! It is important for me to follow my husbands lead when we travel.  If I begin to get critical and discontented the whole family is effected.

We pray A LOT whenever we go on trips.  We pray about where to go, when to go, and then we pray often, every day while we are travelling.  Prayer for protection, favor, fun, blessing, health, and strength.  I also ask others for prayer.  Every time we take a trip I thank God for what He is allowing us to do and pray that we will be a blessing to the people we encounter. Prayer is so important.  You cannot underestimate the power of prayer in preparation for a family trip.

I encourage you to travel with your family!  Whether it’s a weekend away in a nearby town or a short term outreach trip, your family will be enriched and refreshed when you take time to enjoy each other and serve God together away from the familiarity of home.  You will grow in your relationship with the Lord.  You will become a more patient, compassionate parent.  Your children will be changed (in a good way).   And you’ll probably long to take more family trips.

Keep in mind that you can do fundraising for outreach trips.  Fundraising letters are one of the best ways to raise support.  Don’t be ashamed to ask for money.  You’re giving others the opportunity to be a part of your outreach trip when you ask them to give.  God makes the way and He provides!

I also encourage you to check out the Brinkman Adventure series.  These audio adventures are based on real life stories.  Your whole family will enjoy listening to each episode designed to draw you and your children closer to the Lord and give you a heart for people around the world.

I am a Queen (and so are YOU)


A few weeks ago, our 5 1/2 year old Judah came running into my room first thing in the morning to tell me he had a dream. He told me that his dream was AMAZING.….He dreamed that he was outside on our deck looking at stars. God lifted him up and took him to another part of our deck near one of our trees and told him, “Your mother is a queen and she is going to be a queen for the rest of her life.”   He saw me dressed in a royal gown with a crown of jewels on my head. After telling me the dream, Judah, looked at me in a way he has never looked at me before. With adoration in his eyes he giggled and hugged me.  He kissed me and said, “You were a REAL queen.  I wonder what that dream means?”   He told all of his siblings the dream. He told Eric the dream, to which Eric responded with,  “Your mommy IS a queen.  She is queen of our house and you need to love her and honor her….”   Judah proceeded to hug me and stroke my hair and look at me with wonder the whole rest of the day.   This got me thinking.

If you are a woman who belongs to Jesus.  If you are a wife.  If you are a mother.  Then YOU are a QUEEN.   A queen is one who is married to a king.  A queen is a woman of power and authority. A queen is seated in high places.  God is King of all Kings.  Jesus is God in the flesh. We are the Bride of Christ, therefore seated in Heavenly places.  Our King says that those who overcome get to sit with Him on His throne.  He also says that if we endure, we will reign with Him.

Before Judah’s dream, I had been hearing the Holy Spirit tell me, “You are training for reigning.” I’d be doing little mundane tasks for our family or for our church and I’d hear again, “You are training for reigning.”  I wondered what this meant.  Now, I am beginning to understand.

My home is my kingdom.  My home is the place where I rule and reign.  My husband is the king of our home and I am his queen.  Under the Lordship of Jesus, together we make decisions for our family.   Together we decide who and what we will allow in, and who and what we will keep out.   We protect (as best as we can with God’s help) our little kingdom.  As I clean, cook, and organize the affairs of our household I am being the Queen of my house that God has called me to be.   Now, my castle is not perfect.   My days of ruling are filled with changing diapers, often wiping pee off of floors (accidents happen), endless loads of laundry, dishes often piled up, yard work always to be done, etc., etc., etc,….  Chickens and goats have been known to get my house.  (poop happens)  My children throw fits.  I sometimes throw fits.  My hair is often a mess.  My children’s hair is often a mess (gum happens….).  I’m not the picture of punctuality, nor would my home ever be featured in a Real Simple or Better Homes and Gardens magazine. Don’t look too close or you’ll see dust lining my bookshelves, smudges on my windows, crumbs underneath my fridge and stove.  You get the picture. (I am working on being cleaner and more organized…)

BUT….My home is more than a house.  My home is a training ground.  I am raising arrows to go out of my home and into the world, to be light and love, to make a difference for the good and glory of God!  My home is a dwelling place.  A place for God’s name to be lifted up.  A place for creativity and fun. My home is a haven, and I, queen of this home, am at the very heart of it. I am responsible for teaching my children the Word of God.  I am responsible for feeding, clothing, and caring for 6 amazing blessings.   I am a leader in every sense of the word.   I am an organizer, a planner, a nurse.  I am a teacher, a negotiator, a counselor, a chauffeur.  I am an event coordinator, a therapist, a mentor, a guard.   I am an art critic, a visionary, a fashion consultant, a journalist, a personal shopper, just to name a few.  My words bring life.  My words bring death.   My actions and attitudes affect the atmosphere of my home and of my kingdom.

I am a humble queen.   I don’t rule over lords and knights or people in high positions.  I don’t rule over large domains of land.  (Although through intercession I believe we can take dominion of lands!)  When I speak, I don’t have the audience of hundreds or thousands.  I have a house, 5 acres of land, and 6 children.  But only God knows how much land the six of them will possess! Only God knows where they are going to set their feet!  Only God knows who these 6 children will reach and what THEIR kingdoms will look like.

Sarah had one son.  She had Isaac.  Isaac means laughter.   Sarah laughed at the promise of her son.  She was too old…..too wrinkled…..too worn.  Sarai means ‘princess’.  Sarah means ‘princess of a multitude‘  When God promised Abraham a son He changed Sarai’s name to Sarah.  Sarah belonged to God.  She was HIS princess, His love, His choice to be the the mother of nations. Kings of peoples would come from her!

I am like Sarah.  Though I am too selfish, too messy, too flawed,  God chose me.  He chose to love me and to make me the mother of children.   Whether you have one child or ten.  Whether they are from your womb or adopted or spiritual children.  YOU are God’s Sarah.  You are His choice and His love.  You are HIS pick to be queen of your home and of your kingdom.   We care for our homes and children, not as a slaves , but as daughters of the King and as the Bride of Christ.  Our “humble” work may feel like endless exhaustion.  It may seem like sacrifice and striving. But God says, to she who endures, to she who overcomes, “YOU will sit with me on my throne.  YOU will reign with me.”

In Mark 10:13-15, Jesus told His disciples, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them.  For such is the kingdom of God.  Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will not enter it at all.”  I’m doing kingdom work.  I am receiving children God has for me. I am humble queen to my family as I serve them, train them, and pray for them.  My children will not be little forever.   My days of being queen of my home with little ones underfoot will someday come to an end.   But when that time comes, I will not stop being a queen.  I will be a queen for the rest of my life.  YOU, will be a queen for the rest of your life.  Our kingdoms will grow as our little ones grow.  Our territories will enlarge as they venture out into this world. Those of us who are faithful in little will be made faithful in much.  Life on earth is short! Eternity is long. Our time of training here on earth as mothers is training for reigning in eternity.  

Rejoice dear mothers in the good work of motherhood God has called you to.  You are not JUST a mother.  You are not JUST a wife.  You are queen of your home and of your family.   You are impacting generations to come.   You are making a difference not just in your home, but in the nations, for eternity!

I encourage you to listen to this song called “Who But You” and remember that when you see your little children, God sees generations….











I love my siblings….the real reason I went skydiving


Today I went skydiving!  Yes, I actually jumped out of a plane 12,000 feet up in the air, free fell for 50 seconds, then enjoyed soaring above the earth for another 5 minutes after our parachute opened.   It was an exhilarating, thrilling, massive adrenaline rush, yet at the same time, surprisingly peaceful experience.   The moment the door to the plane opened, I felt like my heart had moved to my throat.   The moment we stood in the doorway, ready to jump, I thought to myself as I saw the ground so far below,  “Am I really doing this? Am I going to die?   Oh my goodness, Jesus help me!”  My tandem instructor counted to 3 and next thing I new I was falling.  Head back, legs tucked behind me, arms outstretched, it’s the closest thing to flying imaginable.  I loved it!!!!

Why did I skydive?   Am I a natural thrill seeker?   Nope, I am definitely not.   (Unless you consider child birth thrill seeking.  I am still of the opinion that natural childbirth is the most thrilling, exhilarating, and powerful experience I’ll ever have.)

Was this on my bucket list?  No, I don’t even have a bucket list.   I have dreams, but skydiving, though something I thought maybe I would like to experience at some point in my life, was not even close to being in my plans for this year until a few weeks ago.

I went skydiving today because I love my siblings, and I love creating memories with them.   I also went skydiving because God is teaching me to be brave and this experience required a whole new kind of bravery, but that’s for another blog post….

My sister Hannah’s birthday was last week.  Her birthday desire was to go skydiving. She asked me and our brother Micah and our sister Kaitlyn to go with her.  I told her I would think/pray about it, do a little research, and yes, probably go with her!  Kaitlyn and Micah were immediately in.   How could I not participate in this epic sibling event???!!!  AND, I thought, if Michelle Duggar (mother of 19 kids) could do it, than so could I!

If my parents did one thing right in raising us kids, (They did a TON right in raising us) they taught us to love each other and value our relationships as siblings.

This is what this my post today is all about.  Siblings.  How to nurture healthy, strong, sibling relationships in your home.

There are eight of us in our family.  Eric and me and our six children.   This makes for 28 relationship combinations in our home!  WOWSERS!!! No wonder things seem crazy sometimes.

I come from a family of six and so does my husband.  We both happen to be the oldest of four children.  I have one brother and two sisters.  Eric has one sister and two brothers.  Interesting, huh?   These opposite gender siblings all happen to be the same age (the last two siblings are a year a part, so not exactly the same age…)   If all of the Stover children had married all of the Holmlund children we could have started a new race and called it the Stovlunds.   Something to think about:)….lol…

I have always been close to my brother Micah who is 2 1/2 years younger than me.  We rarely fought with each other. I have memories of mischief with Micah including trying to turn our bedroom into a swimming pool by dumping cups and cups of water on the floor while our mom talked on the phone.  I remember being so confused as to why the carpet was all wet, but the water level not rising.  Mom gave herself a good timeout before dealing with us when she finally found out what we were doing.   Micah and I spent hours hiking the hills behind our house,  playing Nintendo, playing in dirt, going to various youth group events together, and of course, he was the chaperone of choice when Eric and I were dating.   Micah is awesome, but awesome doesn’t even begin to describe the incredible man that Micah is.  I am so thankful he is my brother and a part of my life.

As a child and teen, Kaitlyn who is 5 1/2 years younger than me, confused me.   Kaitlyn was loud, and bold, and full of fire.   I didn’t understand her childhood outbursts whether it be an outburst of joy, sadness, or pain.   I didn’t understand how Kaitlyn could do what she did or ask for what she wanted without worrying about what people would think. Kaitlyn was witty and passionate and fearless.  Me, not so much, but I wished I could be.  Though I loved her dearly, I didn’t treat Kaitlyn with tenderness or kindness like a big sister should.   Thankfully, that changed as I entered my college years.   I came home for breaks and realized how much I loved and enjoyed Kaitlyn. I repented for the way I had treated her and was finally freed from my jealousy.  Over time, we truly became great friends!  I adore Kaitlyn!!!  I am her biggest fan!  Kaitlyn brings me joy! Those characteristics that confused me in my youth, are now the very things I value in Kaitlyn and make her the strong leader that she is today.

Hannah was my baby.  She was born when I was 11 years old.   I actually told our mother that Hannah was mine.  Kaitlyn and Micah were hers, but Hannah belonged to me.   I know that this is not true, and Hannah is very much my mother’s daughter, this just shows how much I loved and cared for Hannah.  I loved holding her, playing with her, teaching her, praying for her, caring for her, etc…. Our relationship hasn’t always been easy, but I have enjoyed watching Hannah grow up and become the beautiful, wise, humble, Christlike woman she is today.   Hannah is a tremendous blessing to me, my love for her goes deep,  and we are also very close.

Eric and I want our children to get along.   We desire our children to honor, love, value, and respect one another.  We want our children to feel safe with each other.  We want our kids to grow up realizing what a gift from God it is that they have siblings.   We expect our children to treat each other with kindness, and we continually remind them that they can be best friends.   Oh, there are PLENTY of arguments, tears, and misunderstandings in the Holmlund household. But for the most part, our kids really love each other and enjoy being in each other’s presence. Even to this day, they frequently ask for ANOTHER sibling.

I want to share some things that we do in our family to help nurture and protect our children’s relationships with each other. Many of these things I learned from my experiences growing up in the Stover house.

We don’t allow our children to be mean.  They are not allowed to call each other names, physically hurt each other,  mock each other, or put each other down.  By nature humans are inclined to be mean from time to time.  Our kids are not flawless in this regard, neither am I, but once it begins, we nip it in the bud.  Tirzah somehow heard the expression, “You’re a loser.” (Probably from a movie)  She quickly put that phrase to use and told Judah, “You’re a loser.” Does she know what this means?  Probably not, it just feels good to say, right?   Well, Tirzah has learned (actually, she’s in the process of learning)  that saying things like this are not acceptable in the Holmlund house.  Those are unkind words.  We have the fruit of the Spirit and kindness is one of those fruits.  Our kids are freer to be themselves and grow close to each other when they know that meanness is not allowed.

We make up.  Almost every time I got in a fight with my siblings my mother made us hold hands, look into each other’s eyes and say, “You are my sister/brother and I love you.”  We groaned, and twisted, and acted like it was such a horrible thing to do, but really, I was thankful my mom made us make up and state our love.  We also had to say 3 nice things about each other, also while holding hands.  We don’t do this every time our kids get into a tiff, but we do it from time to time (I have a feeling I’ll be using this “make up” tactic here more in the future, because it’s sooo good!). Our kids also groan at this, but often giggle, and I know that it helps them get back their connectedness after an argument.  We apologize to each other for wrong doings.   We apologize and forgive and then we move on.

Bible time.  Our family devotions encourage sibling unity and love.  Putting Jesus first in your home, reading the word and praying together is, in my opinion, the number one way to develop family and sibling unity.

Homeschooling.  I realize, not everyone reading this blog homeschools, so I want to preface what I am about to say by stating that I do not believe there is one right way to educate your child.  We are all called to different things depending upon our family and situation. My husband went to public school, for the most part had a good experience, and he and his siblings all love each other and are close.  Our family has chosen to homeschool.  We love homeschooling for many reasons, one of them being the amount of time we get to spend together as a family.  Our big kids get to see many of the hilarious and adorable things our little kids do throughout the day.  Our little kids get to be held by, hugged and kissed, and cared for by their older siblings often.   Siblings close in age have plenty of time to play together.   I love reading history books and novels as all of our children are gathered around our kitchen table, or comfy on our family room couch.

Travelling together, building memories.  I asked our children what they think helps them to be close.  Isabelle and Emmy both said going on family trips.   We go on a lot of trips in our family whether it be mission trips or family vacations.  We love travelling.   We pair older siblings up with younger siblings when we fly on planes.   On road trips our kids are all packed in close in our small, class C RV.  We make a lot of memories together.  Fighting and isolating is pretty much not an option when we travel.  Our children love eating new foods, swimming together, working on projects together, and serving together when we go different places.  We creative special memories when we travel together.   Shared new experiences keep us close and foster intimacy between our kids.

Teamwork.  I often tell our children that our family is a team.  Laundry gets done faster (usually) when done as a team.  Cleaning the kitchen, doing animal chores, yard work, gardening, you name it, is easier and funner when done as a team.   Our children are protective of each other.  When one of us is blessed, we are all blessed.  When one of us is hurt, we have compassion for and care for each other.   We love each other and support each other.   In April, our supplemental homeschool program called Olive Tree has a graduation program for all of the children involved.  Eric and I will shout and cheer loudly and wildly for our kids when their name is called and they walk across the stage.  They smile and blush and are proud to be Holmlunds.

Prayer.  I pray for our children to be close.  I pray for their hearts to be soft and not jealous.  I pray that they value each other.   I pray that they will be lifelong friends.  I pray that they will encourage each other and support each other even when they grow up and leave our home.

We prioritize our family.   Our children all have friends close to their age.  They all love play dates and hanging out with other kids.   This being said, our kids never seem desperate for play dates or sleepovers.   They truly are each other’s best friends.  I’m not just saying this because it sounds good.  It is the truth.  Whether it is Josiah and Emmy hanging out, Emmy and Isabelle, Judah and Tirzah, or Tirzah and Ruthie.  They are all friends.  We make our family time a priority over time with peers.  They go to youth group, dance classes,  and Olive Tree.  They have play dates with neighbors and friends.   But on those nights that we don’t have planned activities, we make sure we are home together as a family. My mother continually reminded me and my siblings growing up, that friends may come and go, but Lord willing, siblings you’ll have forever.

Love your kids all equally and differently.   Praise and encourage your children’s unique and individual giftings.  Be careful of putting labels on your children or comparing your children to each other.  My mom used to say, “There are no shy Stovers.”  Even if a couple of us were more introverted and a couple more extroverted, shyness was not allowed because we are the light of the world.  We are Jesus to people around us.  I LOVE that my mom told us this!   I tell my kids the same thing, “No shy Holmlunds.”   If you have a “difficult”  child.  Look for and call out that child’s good qualities.  My husband has been so helpful to me in this area.  Our kids all have VERY different personalities.  Some are easier to relate to and handle then others, but not one is better than the other.  They are all different and they are all wonderful!

Grace.  Our kids are not going to get along 100% of the time.  They are going to have disagreements, arguments, and fights.  They are going to say stupid things to each other. Often our kids feel frustrated by their disagreements or they feel badly about the way they have treated each other.  I remind them that even their daddy and I have disagreements and get angry with each other.  The important thing is to forgive each other and to move forward after those disagreements.   While we need to foster an atmosphere of kindness and respect, it is impossible to expect our children to be perfect.   I have found that our kids are freer to get along, make up, and be each other’s friends when they experience grace from me.

I encourage you to help your children honor, value, and love each other!  Ask God to help you foster an environment of unity in your home.   Raise a standard against discord and meanness. Don’t be afraid to set new rules regarding how your children should treat each other.   Have fun as a family!   Be free to prioritize family time above everything else.  Declare your family name to be a name that your children can be proud of.

I would love to hear how you nurture and protect your children’s relationships with each other! Please free to comment with your thoughts, ideas, and experiences.   I look forward to reading what you have to say and learning from you!   Our families are all good works in progress.

Below are some pictures from my memory making, epic experience, skydiving with my siblings.

Here we are moments after we first arrived at Mile High Skydiving Center in Longmont, CO.

Here we are moments after we first arrived at Mile High Skydiving Center in Longmont, CO.

4 of our awesome friends also went skydiving to celebrate two birthdays!  They jumped in the plane right before ours, so we got to see their descent.  Having them there, made the experience all the more fun!

4 of our awesome friends also went skydiving to celebrate two birthdays! They jumped out of  the plane right before ours so we got to see their descent. Having them there made the experience all the more fun!

My whole fam came with to support me!

My whole fam came with to support me!  They were VERY patient and found some creative things to do during the wait…

My sister Kaitlyn's husband Joel and son with my Eric and Ruthie.  Note, they both are wearing their babies in ergos.   Thankful for my wonderful husband who let me skydive!  He's the best.

My sister Kaitlyn’s husband Joel and son with my Eric and Ruthie. Note, they both are wearing their babies in ergos. Thankful for my wonderful husband who let me skydive! He’s the best.

I AM brave.....and scared, and excited, and nervous, and ecstatic, etc.....,

I AM brave…..and scared, and excited, and nervous, and ecstatic, etc…..,

Our mom and dad came to support us.  I think they had almost as much fun as we did just seeing us make this memory together.

Our mom and dad came to support us. I think they had almost as much fun as we did just seeing us make this memory together.  That’s my dad in the purple shirt next to our Isabelle.  About to ride over to the airport.

Getting suited up!

Getting suited up!

Kaitlyn, me, Micah, and Hannah.  We are READY!!!

Kaitlyn, me, Micah, and Hannah. We are READY!!!

This is our plane.  Sitting packed in tight next to my siblings and our tandum instructors is an experience I'll treasure.  Looking into Kaitlyn, and Micah, and Hannah's eyes and seeing their excitement, knowing together we were doing something none of us had ever done before was amazing...Thank you Hannah!!!!

This is our plane. Sitting packed in tight next to my siblings and our tandum instructors is an experience I’ll treasure. forever.  Looking into Kaitlyn, Micah, and Hannah’s eyes and seeing their excitement, knowing together we were doing something none of us had ever done before was indescribably awesome…Thank you Hannah!!!!

This would be me in the sky getting ready to land!

This is me in the sky getting ready to land!!!

I did it!

I did it!  Relief, awe, satisfaction, joy, and thankfulness flooded my mind and body as my feet hit the earth.  So much FUN!

We siblings embraced in a joyful and adrenalin filled hug moments after we all landed safely.

We siblings embraced in a joyful and adrenalin filled hug moments after we all landed safely.

I love these siblings of mine. Our love for each other is deep, is fiercely loyal, faithful and true.  I pray my children will love each other like the four of us do!

I love these siblings of mine. Our love for each other is deep, is fiercely loyal, faithful and true. I pray my children will love each other like the four of us do!

Prayer Box and Bible Time

Our children picking names from our Prayer Box.

Our family has evening and morning Bible (devotional) times together almost every day. During the school year, I lead our kids in a Bible time during breakfast. We read a passage of scripture, work on a memory verse and often a hymn, and then pray for our day. During the summer we aren’t so consistent and we feel this lack of consistency.  By the end of the summer (like right now as I write this) we are ready for those regular morning times together again.

Throughout the whole year, almost every night, Eric leads us in family Bible times together. Eric reads a story from a children’s Bible and then asks our children questions about what he just read. Then we open our Prayer Box and pray together as a family. After our time of prayer, we all praise the Lord together at the same time. We will speak out praises like “You are the kind God.” “Lord you are strong.” “You are wise. You are loving. You are fun.” We end our spontaneous praise by singing the songs “Praise the name of Jesus” and “Jesus loves Me”.  Sometimes we may sing another song.  We end our Bible time with listening to the Lord. We all get quiet and ask the Lord what He wants to speak to us. Our little ones usually get an instant word or picture from God while it takes the rest of us longer. We often have to make Tirzah and Judah wait to tell us what they heard from God so the rest of us get a chance to listen. When we travel, we add high point/low point to this mix. Everyone shares the high and low point of their day. Then it’s time for bed for the littles.

Why do we do this? We want to put God first in our home. When we daily spend time in God’s word, pray, and worship together, we grow closer to Jesus and to each other. There is more peace in our home and we feel connected.  Deuteronomy 11:19 tells parents to teach children the Word of God at home, on the road, and when you get up and when you go to bed.  Our children, oldest to youngest, do not like it when we miss a night of family Bible time together. If it’s a super busy week, we will even do Bible time in the van, sharing verses and doing “imaginary” prayer box.

What is Prayer Box? Our Prayer Box is a box filled with names of family members, friends, missionaries, pastors, and random people God puts on our hearts. Every night, each family member draws a name out of the prayer box and that person prays for the person or family name written on their piece of paper. We all love prayer box! Prayer box is FUN!!! We get to see how the Holy Spirit orchestrates who we all pray for. It’s no coincidence when we draw names of people from the same family, or we draw the same person’s name night after night, or when one of of us draws my name after a really exhausting day and I need prayer. Prayer is not boring and prayer box teaches our children the value and fun of prayer. I got the idea for our prayer box years ago when Josiah and Emmy were little. I cannot remember exactly where, but I think it was from an Above Rubies book or article I read. We been having family devotional times since Josiah(13) was a baby and using the prayer box since he and Emmy (11) were very young.

Here is what your need for your prayer box:
A small box with a lid (can be a shoe box, or a pretty wooden box, or plastic container)
Small pieces of paper (we use colored 3 by 5 cards cut in half then folded)
A pen

Write down names of family, friends, and anyone God puts on your heart onto those papers and then put them in the box. Each person in your family can pull out a name and pray for the person they drew when you have your family Bible time.

Over the years I’ve had some women ask me how they can help their husbands be the spiritual leaders of their home. Family Bible times are a great way to do this. I encourage wives to pick out a simple children’s bible story book and/or a simple devotional book.  Ask your husband if he would be willing to read one of these stories to you and your children each morning or night or whenever works best for your husband (if your husbands schedule makes this difficult, even once a week is better than never!). If he says yes, wonderful, if not, pray for him and start doing this with your children yourself. If your husband does decide to lead in this way, don’t criticize his reading or add a whole bunch to what he reads or does. Let him lead! Simplicity is great and sufficient. Prayer Box takes the pressure off of him to pray “perfect” prayers. Have fun as you spend time with God as a family.  Our kids often get seriously goofy during Bible time. For the most part we let them, laughter is good, and we’re not trying to be religious. We are putting Christ first and prioritizing our family.

If you have teenagers who grumble when you start this, don’t let them stop you, and don’t be offended by their grumbling. They need family Bible time and will thank you eventually!

Statistics show that couples who pray together stay together and I believe the same is true for families who pray together.

So…..start having Bible times together as a family and make your own Prayer Box!   See what God will do!


Baby Wearing

Wearing Ruthie in my silk wrap.

I love baby wearing!  My friends and family will attest to this. Not only have I been baby wearing for almost 14 years, I’ve given multiple carriers away as gifts and encouraged mommies to wear their babies.  Baby wearing is one of my top “Happy Journal” things in all of life.  I’m wearing my 10 month old on my back right now as I write.  I love having my little ones close to me while I grocery shop, cook, clean, teach, choreograph, and play.   I love knowing they are experiencing the world and learning new things from the safety of my arms and close enough to look at my face.  I love savoring the preciousness of that first year of my baby’s life by having her right at my heart.   I love the convenience of breastfeeding that comes with baby wearing.   Women all around the world for thousands of years have been wearing their babies every day. Baby wearing produces easy going, happy babies!

My baby wearing began when our first born, Josiah, was only a few weeks old.   I was 21 years young.   Josiah wanted to be held most of the time, and I wanted to hold him, most of the time.  I made a sling out of a big white sheet.  Since then, and five children later, I’ve used a Snuggli,  Baby Bjorn, Sling E-Zee, Hava Sling, Moby, Ergo, and Sakura Bloom Slings. Just recently I tried a Girasol woven wrap.  There are more carriers out there than I can count and many blogs and websites devoted to baby wearing.  I’m going to briefly give my baby wearing recommendations and then post some of my favorite baby wearing pics.

If I could only keep one baby carrier which one would it be?   The Ergo!  I’ve used my Ergo a ton.  I’ve brought it to Israel twice, Maui, Jamaica, various road trips, and of course I’ve worn it for walks, hikes, shopping trips, while gardening, cooking, cleaning, etc…  My babies and toddlers also love the Ergo.  You can wear little ones up to 45 pounds or as long as you both are comfortable.  I appreciate the convenience of wearing my little ones on my front, on my back, or on my hip.  It’s easy to get them in and out of.  It’s super comfortable, durable, easy to clean, and doesn’t take up much space.  There’s a zippered pocket for keys, diapers, and it a little bag of wipes.  It also has a little sunshade that can be pulled up and snapped over baby’s head.  There you go.  The Ergo!

Oh how I love the ring sling.   My first ring sling was the Sling E-Zee .  It’s a padded ring sling that comes in a bunch of colors and patters.  I found it to be extremely comfortable and our Isabelle spent many happy hours in that sling. I wore that sling out.  I now have two Sakura Bloom ring slings, one linen sling and one silk sling.  Though I’d have to choose the Ergo if I could only have one carrier, my Sakura Bloom slings get used everyday, multiple times a day. These slings are so comfortable and beautiful.  I recently wore RuthAnne for hours in my linen sling while leading a dance camp in Lake Providence, Louisiana.  I enjoy looking at beautiful pictures of mothers and their babies in Sakura Bloom slings.  I follow several Sakura Bloom Sling Diarists who document their mothering and baby wearing experience on Instagram.   The linen sling is breathable, soft, and great for all climates including heat and humidity.  The silk is grippy, lightweight, and so beautiful.   I love the convenience of a ring sling.  You can slip it on and off in seconds and it folds up easily into your diaper bag or purse.  The ring sling is also convenient for breastfeeding, I often use the tail of my sling as a nursing cover-up.

Then there’s the wrap.  I had a Moby, but it was too hot and bulky for me.  Recently, I tried a Girasol Woven Wrap.  I find this woven wrap to be much more comfortable than the Moby. Woven wraps can be worn in many different ways. There are multiple YouTube videos dedicated to teaching Mamas wrapping technique.  I enjoyed wearing my toddler on my back.  I haven’t decided yet if I’ll continue to use the woven wrap.  While it’s fun to try out different carries, I’m not sure I want to spend the time it takes to learn all the carries or to get wrapped up when I go out in public.

For a whole lot more info on baby wearing check out the .  Pretty much every question you can think of regarding baby wearing or baby wearing products is located there.

I also recommend reading Dr. Sear’s articles on baby wearing.

So now, here are those pics I promised you.

With baby Isabelle in my first sling. The Sling E-Zee.

With baby Isabelle in my first sling. The Sling E-Zee.

Judah and I by the Eiffel Tower.

Judah and I by the Eiffel Tower.

Wearing Tirzah in Israel on our first trip there.

Wearing Tirzah on our first trip to Israel.

This pic, just makes me happy. Eric wearing Tirzah as he paints next to our RV parked on the shore of Elephant Butte Reservoir in New Mexico.

Even big kids can be worn. Judah in Israel.

Even big kids can be worn. Judah in Israel.

With a little Starbucks:).

Sportin my Sakura Bloom Linen in Maple with a little Starbucks:).

Sling back carry as I wash dishes.

Sakura Bloom back carry as I wash dishes.

Front carry in the Girasol woven wrap.

Front carry in the Girasol woven wrap.

Content baby, happy mama.

Content baby, happy mama.