the great prune escapade

The other day, my grandparents, both in their 80s,  went to the grocery store in their small town.

Nanie waited in their stylish red minivan while Papa went in to the store. “Now remember,” Nanie said, as Papa climbed out of their minivan, “Get some prunes. Be sure to get the ones that are individually wrapped and taste like candy.”

My grandparents have always been extra conscious of eating healthy foods that promote healthy bowels. Their motto is “in one’s golden years, it’s critical to have a b.m. (bowel movement) in the p.m.!”

Papa went into the little grocery store. I can just see him in his Carhart Jeans, his favorite red flannel, his very used cowboy hat, and his wallet he carries on a chain like they do in those old movies. Because of his streamlined physique, the chain on the wallet nearly drags to the ground.

Upon seeing a boxboy, Papa asked, “Do you have any prunes?”

“Yes, I’ll show you,” the boxboy said, leading Papa down the aisle with the boxed prunes.

Papa grabbed a box of prunes off the shelf. Then, taking his cute little wrinkled self through the store, he exited through the automatic door. He didn’t even pause to stop at the check stand, but walked into the parking lot and to Nanie, who was waiting in the minivan.

Meanwhile, the boxboy was in a quandary. He had followed Papa, apparently alarmed that Papa would exit the store without paying for the prunes, but unable to figure out a way to gently apprehend an adorable and innocent-looking elderly gentleman with twinkling blue eyes.

Papa walked up to the window of the passenger side of the minivan and asked Nanie to roll down the window.

Still figuring out how to use modern technology, Nanie instead opened her door.

“Are these the prunes you want?” Papa asked.

“Yes, Johnny, those are perfect.” Nanie smiled her precious Swedish smile at the thought that Papa had correctly chosen the individually wrapped prunes that tasted like candy. She was so proud of him.

“All right, then,” Papa said.

“Johnny?” asked Nanie. “Why is that boxboy across the parking lot looking at you with suspicion?”

“I have no idea,” said Papa, because he truly had no idea. “Maybe because he’s the one who helped me find the prunes.” After a pause, he added, “I’ll be right back, Ruthie.”

Papa walked back into the store, past the boxboy (without even so much as a glance), and went to the nearest check stand. Taking out some money from his wallet on a chain, he paid for the prunes. Then, walking again past the perplexed boxboy (without even so much as a glance), Papa returned to the minivan.

I love stories like these. How precious Papa is! The funniest thing of all is that Papa is a former police officer with the San Diego Police Department. He apprehended dangerous criminals on a daily basis, some who were caught stealing things much more valuable than prunes.

But Papa had no intention of taking something without paying – he’s honest to a fault and has never broken any laws in his entire life. He only wanted to ask his wife of nearly 60 years if the prunes he picked were the correct ones. He was a man on a mission to get his beloved wife her favorite healthy treat.

After all, he’d probably purchased the wrong brand in the past and after so many years of marriage, he had become a very wise man. He had learned his motto the hard way: ask first, then purchase.

Papa has since gone home to be with the Lord. Such memories as the one above truly have more meaning when someone you love is no longer here. While I am sad that he is gone, I know that someday I will see him again.

I encourage you to take a minute to appreciate the grandparents in your life. They are truly treasures, irreplaceable and precious gifts from God.

Before you go, check out these other posts:

for writers: tips, advice, and encouragement

forming your own Sisters in Christ group

mom-approved movie listing

the best county fair entry ever

lessons from the garden

the importance of avoiding false teaching

28 verses for uncertain times

conquering the joy zappers of life

All we have to do is live in the world for a day and it becomes evident there are joy zappers. We ourselves, other people, and even things that attempt to, while intentionally or inadvertently, steal our happiness seem to lurk around every corner.

Perhaps you recognize some of these joy zappers:

Illness. Ranking toward the top of joy zappers is illness. According to the National Health Council, “About half of all adults have a chronic condition”. Chronic illness, chronic pain, and chronic disease are tough and can feel unmanageable, frightful, and depressing.

Mean people. Mean people are akin to weeds in a garden of flowers. It can be beyond difficult at times to react in a God-glorifying manner with “weedy” folks.

Complaining. Constant complaining can hinder our joy and make us forget how blessed we are.

Toxic media. Toxic media has taken on a whole new face in recent days. False news, censorship, lies, attacks, and more contribute to our already high stress levels in a world that has appeared to have derailed.

Idols. Idols, or anything we put above God in our lives, can come in many forms and can quickly steal our joy. Place the importance of material items – such as new cars to compete with the neighbors or an unlimited amount of charging on your charge card with no ability to pay the balance due – over everything else and you’ll quickly discover the stress of this common joy zapper.

Trials. Trials are never fun. Whether in the form of illness, relationship issues, money struggles, or when life just doesn’t go right, no one wants to hang out permanently in the struggles of life. I was recently speaking to my mom about one of the trials that has weighed heavily on my heart these past few weeks. “God is definitely growing you,” my mom tenderly told me. And she is right. God does grow us through trials. It is not fun to experience any type of trial, and most of us would like to learn whatever it is God is teaching us sooner rather than later.

Relationship conflict. Is there anything more stressful than relationship conflict?

Gossip. Being on the receiving end of gossip is an instant joy zapper and a painful reminder of how dangerous the tongue can be.

Unrighteous anger and bitterness. Unrighteous anger and bitterness can easily tip the scales against having a joyful life.

Comparison trap, procrastination, perfectionism, people-pleasing, worry, and fear. Comparing ourselves to others, procrastination, perfectionism, and people pleasing can all take us from happiness to dissatisfaction, discontentment, and a melancholy outlook. Likewise, worry and fear can take something meant to be pleasurable and turn it into something to dread.

Excessive busyness. Excessive busyness not only drags us down, but it’s unhealthy to be too busy. It causes stress and makes it difficult to find peace.

And there are many more that we could add to the list. Some of the items listed above are things others use to steal our joy. Others are things and demands we put on ourselves that steal our joy.

So what can we do when the joy zappers fly in and attempt to take root in our lives?

Pray diligently and often. Lord, I surrender this joy zapper in my life to you. Please show me what I am to learn from it and grow me to be more like You through it. Help me to trust You more fully through any obstacles I may be facing. While I know you might not take it completely away, I know that You will walk with me through it, and I praise You for that.

Set your mind on things above. In Matthew 14, Peter took his eyes off of Jesus and began to sink. When we keep our eyes on Him, we are held safely and will not sink.

Remember who He is. It is so easy to forget that the One who spoke this very world into existence, who created our innermost being (Psalm 139:13), and who died so we who have put our faith in Him may have eternal life someday, has also overcome the world. He is bigger than anything we find ourselves in the midst of. He can and will give us peace over the most difficult joy zapper.

Be mindful of where you spend your time. One of the biggest traps we can allow ourselves to fall into is spending time with the wrong things (or people!) When we constantly fill our minds with the news, negative social media posts, or angry music we can cause our perception of things to become skewed. Spending time with unhealthy things and people can also cause a shift in our personalities. As I have told my daughters many times, “garbage in = garbage out”. Don’t let the joy zappers of where we spend our time weigh us down.

Spend time in the Word. A better place to spend our time would be to spend it in His Word. Taking time each day, preferably in the morning before you start your day, to get to know Him through Scripture is a surefire anecdote for problems to become smaller.

Grow in the Lord. Are we further in our faithwalk this year than last year? When our growth becomes stagnate, our chances of being thwarted by a joy zapper is greater.

Spend time with godly family and friends. There are few things more energizing than spending time with a sibling in Christ. Godly family and friends can pray for us as we endure the struggles of our joy zappers, hold us accountable in our walk with the Lord and through temptations, and pray for us.

Set reasonable goals. One of the biggest joy zappers is busyness. I find myself guilty often of trying to cram too much into one hour/day/week/month. We weren’t designed to be on stress overload, as we navigate the 400,000,000 items on a to-do list. Instead, set reasonable goals and achieve them in bite-sized chunks.

Spend some time in Creation. An excellent remedy to combat joy zappers is to spend some time in Creation.

Forgive. Unforgiveness can steal our joy quicker than we might realize. And not only can it steal our joy on its own, it also leads to bitterness. Ephesians 4:31-32 has a lot to say about how God thinks we should handle bitterness. He tells us to “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” And while it may be nearly impossible to forgive someone at times, we need only to remember how much we are forgiven for and what that need for forgiveness did to the Savior when He went to the Cross for us.

Nothing can steal our joy in Christ. It is more than mere happiness. It is a deep abiding knowledge that we are His and that we will spend eternity with Him, no matter what transpires in our lives. No matter what comes our way or threatens to derail us, Jesus is still on the throne.


Before you go, check out these other posts:

13 verses to comfort the weary soul

who are you behind the screen?

for such time as this: finding stability in an unstable world

the importance of living out your faith

7 ways to inspire others

5 ways to be happier

the video camera is always on, part 1

the best county fair entry ever

Want a zany idea for your next county fair entry? Read on…

This world has become increasingly unrecognizable with its constant drama, stressors, and problems. As such, I started a new series a few weeks ago with some humor posts to take us away, even for a brief moment, from the seriousness of recent days.

A few weeks ago, I shared a silly blog post from the past about my experience driving “the big truck” while my SUV was in the shop. I followed it up with a goofy post about how a mom can be a successful tooth fairy.

This week, I’m digging once again into the momlife archives. Several years ago when my girls were younger, life seemed easier, more laid-back, and the world in which we lived was a kinder one.

Next week, join me for our regularly-scheduled blog posts, where I’ll be discussing how we can overcome joy zappers. Future momlife posts will be sprinkled in amongst my regular faith-based and writing posts.

And now, without further ado, I present to you the best county fair entry ever.


Our family loves to enter things in the county fair. Each year, my daughters gather homemade goodies, artwork, sewing projects, and drawings and see what ribbons they can earn for their time, effort, and creativity.

I decided to do something a bit unusual this year…

Unbeknownst to him, last year as a surprise, I entered my husband’s amazing steel cutout of an elk. I had been so impressed with what he had created out of a piece of steel, that I just knew the judges would be impressed too. Imagine his shock when we were walking through the exhibit hall and he saw his project on the table with a blue ribbon –the elk was an incredible work of art. Large and polished to a sheen, it’s metal glowed against the woodworking projects that surrounded it. Lon took one look at it and exclaimed, “That looks like that elk cutout I made. Hey, wait, that is the elk cutout I made!”

Not to be outdone by entering the elk project, this year I decided to take a little different route. Yes, this year’s county fair entry would definitely be one-of-a-kind.

One day, Lon decided to take a picture of his foot wearing his size 13, beatup tennis shoe, as though it was some shoe model for decrepit, needing-to-be-retired footwear. Wondering what I would enter in the fair that year, I found my answer when I discovered this picture on our digital camera.

Wasting no time, I rushed to the store and had the photo enlarged to a 5x7and printed it off. Then, finding a reasonably-priced plastic frame, I displayed this lovely piece of “art”. Buffing the glass of the frame to a sheen, the shoe picture was ready to enter in our county fair.

Wouldn’t Lon be so surprised when he saw his picture, one likely taken out of boredom, proudly displayed on the exhibit center wall amongst numerous other quality pieces of photography?

In today’s world, just look around and you’ll see so many varieties of “art”. I just knew this would be a hit at the fair with the judges and the attendees of the fair alike. So, with the framed shoe picture awaiting its artistic debut, my daughters and I entered the door of the exhibit hall with our box full of entries.

I choked back a snicker. It was very difficult not to laugh while unloading the entries. After all, I had to play this cool so my quest would be successful.

I gingerly unloaded the mound of fair entries. Framed photos of mountain scenes and animals, pictures the girls had drawn, and homemade baked goods soon graced the table.

I saved the best for last and did my best to keep a stoic expression. No easy task for someone who is noticing the very real effect of having permanent laugh lines. But I digress…

The entry coordinator reached for another entry card, likely assuming my next entry would be more of the same of the other dozen or so entries.

But when I placed the framed photo on the table, time seemed to stand still. I pasted on my best “isn’t this an amazing entry?” face.

I watched the entry coordinator’s face as she filled out the entry card for the shoe picture. I began to snort, chalking it up to something in my throat. I struggled to maintain my composure and keep my laughter under control. After all, who really enters a photo of a beat up tennis shoe in the local fair?

And moreover, who acts like they are super proud of such an entry?

The woman looked up at me, then back down at the shoe picture, then back up at me, and finally one last time at the shoe picture. She picked up the frame and with a look of concern mixed with disgust, added it to the pile of entered fair projects.

I somehow hoped she’d be a little more appreciative of this fine piece of art.

The following day when our family went to see what ribbons we had been awarded, the girls, sworn to secrecy, and me still attempting to be nonchalant about the whole ordeal, led Lon around the exhibit hall. The girls pointed out their pictures, and when we finally came to one in particular, Lon stopped and stared. “Pen, is that? No, it can’t be…Pen!”

I thought I would die of laughter. Then Lon began to laugh and together we gazed at the unlikely winner of a high-placing ribbon.

The moral of the story? In a world so full of busyness, it’s good to take some time out to truly laugh at the sillier side of life. God gave us the ability to laugh and the ability to take joy in even the most mundane things – even a framed picture of a tennis shoe.



Before you go, check out these other posts…

the importance of avoiding false teaching

training for the mom olympics

you might be a writer if…(10 ways to know)

leaving a godly legacy

the importance of teaching our kids to think for themselves

28 verses for uncertain times

Movie Monday: Duma

Happy Fourth of July

Love this post originally found on Madi’s Musings. Have a blessed and safe Fourth of July!

Madi's Musings

Today we celebrate the United States of America’ s birthday. From the desire for freedom sprang this beautiful nation. We have a rich and amazing history, and while we’ve hit some bumpy spots along the way, the nation has never yet forgotten the One who is the ultimate foundation, and may we never do so.

My maternal great-grandfather and paternal grandfather fought in WWII. Various other relatives have also sacrificed much to serve this great nation. My great-great-grandparents arrived from Sweden in search of a better life. I’m a mutt, you could say: Swedish, German, English, a touch of Scotch-Irish, and potentially the merest drip of Choctaw Indian. America is not called “The Melting Pot” for nothing. This land is home to the descendants of immigrants who sought a better life, who valued freedom over staying in their motherland, who wanted a fresh start. God has richly blessed America. From…

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Lessons from the garden

To this day, I still hear the story from the time I was a little girl and despised one of my chores – weeding the garden.

My mom tells of how she would ask me to please weed between the corn rows of our sizeable garden. I found the request difficult to digest. It was a gorgeous summer day – perfect for playing volleyball or running through the sprinkler. And I had to weed the garden?

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t mind helping my parents and doing chores. But weeding?

An hour after I was assigned the task, my mom came outside to find me just how she had left me. “PENNY ANN!” she said sternly, causing me to jump. I had been sitting there, my little blond head tilted back and my face turned heavenward. My legs were crossed and I lounged between the tall corn rows while daydreaming about stories I would write.

My mom was further disturbed when she realized I’d not pulled a single weed. I have to admit this was neither the first nor the last time this happened.

Fast forward and today one of my most favorite pastimes is gardening. Being outside in God’s creation and admiring His handiwork brings joy to my soul and makes any day happier. I take pride in keeping my flowerbeds weed free (or almost!) I also harbor an addiction to trees.

My mom still laughs at the 180-degree change in me.

And in all these years of enjoying gardening, I have learned the following lessons from one of my favorite past-times:

1. The change in me from the days of daydreaming amongst the corn rows rather than weeding to now tackling the obnoxious weeds with zest reminds me of the change that comes over us when we become a child of God. That gift of salvation, that indwelling of the Holy Spirit, that passion to live for Him. He changes us from the inside out, making us more like Him, as we surrender our lives, our hearts, and our minds to Him.

2. Being without Him is much like a weed growing aimlessly for no real purpose. Growing in Him is much like the tall proud corn stalks with their faces lifted toward heaven.

3. Our eyes can barely behold the beauty, at times, of God’s creation. Whether it be the finely formed hands and feet of a newborn baby, the vibrant smiles of those we love most, the delicate petals of our favorite flower, the rugged mountain peaks, or the vast ocean, God is a master artist. He tells us in Romans 1:20 that we are without excuse when it comes to believing in God based on what we see around us.

The squeal of a toddler, the soft wings of a butterfly, the shimmering leaves on a tree, and the fierce sound of thunder do not come by accident. There is a Hand that creates all of those things and more. Just being present in nature is enough proof of His skilled hand.

4. There will always be weeds. And there will always be “weedy” people. You know the type: difficult to get along with, harsh, unkind, selfish. The best remedy for dealing with the “weedy” people is praying for them. Tough, but it’s the best solution, not only because the Bible commands us to pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44), but also because it’s difficult to be angry with someone when we’re actively praying for them.

Today, as I spend time tending to my flowers and trees, I’m reminded of those lessons. Thank You, Lord, for drawing us to You. May we always continue to grow in You and impact others for Your glory.


Thank you for stopping by! Before you go, check out these other posts:

the importance of new beginnings

13 verses to comfort the weary soul

thankful for the small things

surviving shingles, part 1

10 ways to help your kids choose good role models

Movie Monday: Flying High for the Glory of God: The Orville Rogers Story (movie review)

Looking to homeschool? Here are 7 things to consider

Momlife Part 2 “Adventures of the Tooth Fairy”

We live in a different world these days. Stressors that were never stressors a year ago are now commonplace.

Last week, I shared a silly blog post from the past about my experience driving “the big truck” while my SUV was in the shop. This week, I’m discussing the very real problems of being a tooth fairy.

Because we all need a break from the craziness that has enveloped us at every turn, I decided to reach back into the past and dig into the archives of momlife stories of yesterday. Several years ago when my girls were younger, life seemed easier, more laidback, and the world in which we live was a kinder one.

So, over the next several weeks, I’ll share with you some of those momlife memories – ones I wouldn’t trade for the world and ones, some of which, I’m sure you can identify with. Which begs to ask the question…how can a mom be a successful tooth fairy?


Doodle lost a tooth the other day and was thrilled that it didn’t roll down the heater vent like the last tooth, bringing a whole new meaning to “losing a tooth”. All of this losing teeth stuff reminded me of a few adventures experienced by a certain Tooth Fairy…

Once upon a time there lived a mom who doubled as a tooth fairy. She didn’t have wings and she couldn’t fly, and she was larger than the imagined “teeny-tiny Tinkerbell-like fairy”. She didn’t carry a wand and she didn’t have a stash of rolled coins at her tooth fairy cottage.

But she was a devoted, conscientious, and most-of-the-time reliable sort.

Take, for instance, last week when Doodle lost a tooth and the Tooth Fairy actually slept through the night and forgot to pay a visit. Doodle was disappointed when her tooth was still in the tooth jar and there was no money.

I’m sad to admit, this wasn’t the first time this happened. It first happened to Sunshine and she was sure to tell everyone at school the next day (note: before I homeschooled, my girls attended a small private Christian school during their elementary years) the sad tale of woe of how the Tooth Fairy had forgotten her. She seemed not to be convinced when I told her my lame excuse that the Tooth Fairy was so busy that she ran out of time since so many other children had lost teeth on the same night.

Or that the tooth fairy had taken the night off.

Or that the tooth fairy had lost her own tooth and was preoccupied.

None of these excuses worked. The following evening, she wrote the Tooth Fairy a letter about the incident, complete with an artist’s rendition of what the Tooth Fairy looked like.

Or another adventure…one night, I stumbled through the dark at 2:00 a.m. in a frenzy, thinking there were only four hours left until dawn’s daylight and I (once again) nearly forgot again to trade money for a tooth. I reached groggily into my wallet in hopes that there was actually some money in there. I grabbed out a handful of coins, deposited them into a plastic baggie and made the trade. (Hint to first time Tooth Fairies, if you place the coins in a baggie, it makes less noise and therefore doesn’t arouse suspicion in your child).

In the morning, I found out that if my children keep losing teeth, I’m going to have to take up a fund. Sunshine burst out of her room and exuberantly said, “Mom! Guess what?! The Tooth Fairy brought me $4!”

I gasped. The going rate at our house is $1, yet Sunshine had ended up with $4 and it wasn’t even a “special” tooth. In the dark, I hadn’t been paying attention that the coins I’d withdrawn from my wallet were not pennies, but quarters and dimes.

Last week, between my two kids, they lost three teeth in one week. I was running out of change and was desperate, so I did the only logical thing a Tooth Fairy can do. I zipped out to the garage at midnight and found a pile of pennies on Lon’s workbench. I scooped them up into a plastic baggie and made the trade.

The next morning, Doodle had a strange look on her face. “Mom?” She asked, “Does the Tooth Fairy work with wood?”

“What?” I asked. This for sure topped the Tooth Fairy questions.

“Does the Tooth Fairy work with wood? See, I found this wood chip in the baggie with the money.”

Apparently, a wood chip had slipped in from Lon’s workbench. An added bonus, although not too thrilling for kids.

So what about all those questions about this amazing little fairy? “Mom, what does the Tooth Fairy do with all those teeth?”

“How does she lift the tooth when she’s so small?”

“Why does she want teeth? Isn’t that kind of weird?”

“Where does she get the money?”

“How does she decide how much to give?”

“Why are some teeth worth more than others?”

“What does she look like?”

“Is she married?”

“Is there only one or is there a family of Tooth Fairies?”

And finally, “When I’m a ‘big woman’ (the term my girls use for female adults): can I meet the Tooth Fairy?” Depending on the day and whether or not I’m feeling creative, I can usually answer those questions with some degree of creative success.

Speaking of teeth, Sunshine wins the award for the most interesting ways of losing teeth. She’s pulled out a few herself, let me pull out one, and let Lon pull out one. Those are all typical ways.

Now for the atypical – she lost one tooth when she was wrestling Lon and bounced into his rock hard abs. Her tooth fell out immediately. She yanked three teeth at school of her own, plus yanked out a couple of other classmates’ teeth (with their patient and enduring permission, of course). I see dentistry in her future and a life of ease and luxury for Lon and I in our older years.

She’s lost a few biting into food, and finally, she pulled one at the dentist’s office while awaiting a teeth-cleaning appointment.

Doodle’s only lost four teeth, so I’m sure there will be some adventures of losing teeth in her future too.

Phew! Who knew that being a Tooth Fairy could be so interesting?

But isn’t it great to know that whether we are having a Tooth Fairy Adventure, settling sibling squabbles, or changing our 178th poopy diaper, God is there to help us every step of the way? He has promised He will never leave us nor forsake us, no matter what.

He gave us the blessing of our children and will equip us to raise them. What an awesome God we serve!

Before you go, check out these other posts:

58 fun activities for kids of all ages

the video camera is always on, part 2

8 things I want my daughters to know

28 verses for uncertain times

you might be a writer if…10 ways to know

the importance of teaching our kids to think for themselves

5 ways to be happier

Momlife, part 1 “The Big Truck”

Life is super serious these days. Worries we never thought we’d ever have overwhelm us as we struggle in the midst of an ever-shifting culture. A culture that’s changing…and not for the better.

We all need a break from the craziness that has enveloped us at every turn. So I decided to reach back into the past and dig into the archives of momlife stories of yesterday. Several years ago when my girls were younger, life seemed easier, more laidback, and the world in which we live was a kinder one.

In those days, things that are commonplace as of the past year were completely unheard of a little over a decade ago. We had a little more freedom, a little less chaos, and a whole lot more compassion for others. People were more honest and toilet paper, lumber, and common sense were plentiful.

So, over the next several weeks, I’ll share with you some of those momlife memories – ones I wouldn’t trade for the world and ones, some of which, I’m sure you can identify with. We’ll start off our new series with a question…

What happens when an innocent mom of two with a serious depth perception problem has to drive the big truck while her SUV is being repaired?

Enjoy…and I hope it not only brings a smile to your face, but gives you a moment of escape in these crazy times.


Once upon a time in a land not so far away…

Our SUV wouldn’t start last week. Praise the Lord it decided to conk in the garage and not on the road somewhere or at the grocery store full of kids and groceries.

So, needless to say, I spent last week driving our big pickup truck.

My husband’s diesel, his pride and joy, became my mode of transportation. Not only is it high off the ground, but it’s also LONG. This isn’t a problem for most, but for me – a person with a severe depth perception problem – this is a concern! Let me give you some background information…

I have hit three vehicles. Yes, three. Now, this might not sound too concerning until I admit that these were PARKED vehicles. Yep, they weren’t moving. I was, but they weren’t.

The first victim was when my husband, Lon, and I were dating. I had a sweet souped up old-fashioned antique 1971 Chevy Malibu that was a classic long before I drove it. He was driving his dad’s little orange Nissan pickup, nicknamed “The Puke”. He parked behind my car when he came over for a visit one evening. I didn’t realize his dad’s truck was behind me.

You can probably see where this going…

I backed up and heard a slight crunch. I didn’t see any damage, so I didn’t think anything about it until later when Lon asked if I knew anything about the green bit of paint on the front of the The Puke.

Oops.

Now, I’m a firm believer in honesty in relationships – especially those with whom you might someday marry.

So I came clean.

All these years later, I’m thankful for the forgiveness they showed me when Lon’s dad’s orange Nissan suddenly became multi-colored.

Secondly, I hit a vehicle at the bank while trying to parallel park in my black Ford T-bird about four years later. I should have known better. I was the one in Drivers Ed in high school who hit the orange cones while practicing to parallel park.

Good grief. Of course, it had to happen during rush hour. Hopefully no one else saw that old station wagon drive itself forward a few inches.

Good news, though. I don’t parallel park anymore. It’s just too difficult when objects are closer than they appear.

And then, the saddest of all. I was backing our Ford T-Bird out of our driveway and didn’t realize my green Malibu was still parked at the curb in front of our house the same year. I backed the T-Bird out and smucked the Malibu. Ouch. Two more dents. Fortunately they were VERY small dents that could be popped out.

So with this background information, you can see my apprehension at driving the big truck. This is why I normally drive a mid-size SUV with a hefty grill guard. This is also why I wear glasses when I drive. And why my girls wear protective gear.

And why it’s important for my passengers to wear seatbelts.

And why, when I’m driving the big truck, vehicles on the road in our small town part ways to allow me to pass peacefully down the middle of the road.

So on my first day of driving the big truck, my children loaded, I rode the elevator up to the driver’s side door and climbed in. As I backed the truck out of the driveway, I didn’t realize a minor detail in the way.

Okay, so it wasn’t that minor. It was a large green garbage can ready and prepared for the trash truck to empty it since it was garbage day.

“What was that noise?” I asked. (It’s hard to hear anything over a diesel).

A gasp arose from the back seat.

“Uh, Mommy, you just ran over the garbage can,” Sunshine, my oldest, told me.

“What?!” I exclaimed.

Surely not. I had checked my mirrors – had done everything right that that old Driver’s Ed instructor had taught me over a decade ago.

But sure enough, I backed up further and saw the proof. The tire tracks on the green garbage can were unmistakable. The worst part of all? It was our neighbor’s garbage can!

Thankfully, our neighbor is a forgiving soul.

And thankfully garbage cans can be replaced.

And doubly thankful for God’s mercy in all things, big and small.

So, there you have it, my experience driving the big truck. A memory forever embedded in my mind and the reason why my husband won’t buy me that big new Chevy truck I’ve been eyeballing at the dealership. The one that I can barely see over the dashboard with an attached step ladder.

But he has offered to buy me a smart car. To which I say emphatically – no thanks!!!!!

Oh, and a teeny disclaimer: the pictured truck at the beginning of this post isn’t our actual truck. Ours has a grill guard. 🙂


Before you go, check out these other posts:

training for the mom olympics

you might be a homeschool mom if…(15 clues)

the great toilet paper caper

kids write the funniest things

what’s in a name?

15 verses for strength in challenging times

10 Bible verses to start off your day

10 ways to help your kids choose good role models

Movie Monday: Fearless Faith

the video camera is always on, part 5

Thank you for joining me for our final segment of The Video Camera is Always On. We’ve chatted about a lot of different areas where our children our watching (and mimicking us). In our first segment, we discussed how our kids are watching our habits and our faith, how we act, our humility, and our responses.

I expounded on the importance of emulating a strong faith to our kids in the second segment and included some tips on how to not only talk about our love for Jesus with our children, but also how they notice our love for Him through our actions.

In the third segment, I discussed how our kids are watching what priorities take precedence in our lives and the importance of what we allow into our minds. I offered resources for those topics.

Finally, in my fourth segment, I discussed how our children are watching as we interact with our spouse, along with some tips on how we can show our children a marriage worth mirroring. I also discussed how we should be mindful of how we react to those who have wronged us, especially in the presence of our children.

In today’s post, I’m adding two other critical ways we can set a good example for our kids. Healthy habits and how we dress.

In my first post, I referred to the time my oldest daughter mirrored her father’s addiction to condiments. This brings me to the all-important topic of modeling healthy habits for our kids. While we laugh about the condiment king and his condiment princess daughter now, it was definitely an eye-opener as to how our children mimic our everyday habits, even when we don’t realize it.

So how can we model and instill a healthy lifestyle?

Start early.

From the time my daughters were babies, we would take walks through the neighborhood. The double baby jogger stroller my mom bought me as a gift had more miles on it than my SUV will ever have, as we took jaunts through the neighborhood, walked down a steep two-mile hill to town, and back up again (did I mention I had the best arms ever in those days?). We packed special snacks, pointed out dogs, birds, airplanes, and pretty flowers along the way, and stopped a short distance from our house so the girls could walk along the “balance beam”, a short brick wall that lined the sidewalk. Those days were special days and provided exercise for me and fun playground time for the girls on the way back home.

Not only was I enjoying spending time with my daughters, but I was teaching them the importance of exercise.

Our children need to see us actively partaking in caring for the body the Lord gave us.

Make family-time exercise a priority.

There has rarely been a summer at our house when the girls haven’t stretched the badminton net across the backyard, pulled out the huge and awkward ping-pong table from the shed, kicked the soccer ball around the yard, or tossed the football with their dad. Our active schedule has regularly included family bike rides, batting practice at the playground, jogging, and hiking in the mountains.

By showing our children that family time is important, we show them that they are important. And by showing them that exercise can be fun, we reiterate a healthy lifestyle that can last throughout their lives.

Emulate healthy eating habits.

Our children will naturally gravitate toward sugary treats over broccoli and cauliflower. It’s important to teach (and model!) to our kids healthy eating habits. If we tell our children to eat spinach and fruit and we ourselves are eating donuts and cake, it’s highly likely (as the saying goes) that they’ll do as we do, not as we say.


Another area where our children are always watching is in the way we dress.

Are we clean with good hygiene?

Do we take pride in our appearance – not vainly – but by dressing appropriately for the occasion? While there are jokes galore about wearing pajamas to Walmart, looking like a slob shouldn’t be our goal.

Are we modest? God made our bodies beautiful and amazing. Arms that give loving hugs. Legs that can run fast. Hands that can create art. Feet that bear our weight and take us where we need to go. Unfortunately, immodesty has become the norm in our culture. We need to reiterate to our daughters that we are not valued by how much skin we show.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not advocating for a wardrobe that consists only of baggy turtlenecks and ankle-length full skirts. What I am advocating for is attire that is pleasing to the Lord. Skin tight, cleavage-bearing, super-short shorts don’t fit the bill. We need to teach our daughters that our worth is in more than our bodies.

Philippians 4:8 reminds us to think and focus on “what is whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable”. When we wear immodest clothing, are we really thinking and focusing on purity and treating our bodies with respect because they are temples?

And we need to teach our sons that girls are worth more than their bodies.

Dads, this is where you are especially important. Your daughters need to know you love them for them. For their silly personality, for their creative mind, for their intellect, their kindness, compassion, and the way they care for those less fortunate. They need to know their value is not in how skinny they are or how few zits they have. Dads, your daughters need you to be a gentleman to both them and to their mom. They need you to emulate how a man should treat women.

And dads, while I’m picking on you…your sons need you to model to them how they should treat women. Not as sex objects, not in a gawking way with inappropriate comments. They need you to show them that you value a woman who values herself.

There is nothing wrong with cute fashions (I have a closetful of them myself), but we need to be mindful that not every fashion that gains popularity and is touted by the masses is pleasing to God.

Our children are always recording. They are learning from us. From our actions. From our words. From our priorities, and from the way we live our lives.

Being a parent is far from easy. But with the Lord’s help and constant and consistent prayer, we can raise our children in a way that honors and pleases the Lord.


Before you go, check out these other posts:

how to build close bonds with your kids

the importance of avoiding false teaching

15 scriptural reminders of God’s comfort

the importance of teaching our kids to think for themselves

Movie Monday: Run the Race

5 do’s and don’ts when interacting with someone going through a difficult time

5 things moms need

8 things I want my daughters to know

outside-the-box homeschool ideas

training for the mom Olympics

I dashed through high winds and zigzagged between the parked station wagons, Pintos, and VW Bugs, in the pursuit of a runaway cart in the grocery store parking lot.

The cart sped through the crowded parking lot and toward an intersection, attempting to mar the glossy finishes of luxury SUVs and sports cars.

And then I knew what I must do. The situation at hand had left me little choice.

I knelt down and tightened the laces on my Brooks running shoes, thankful I wasn’t wearing flip flops today.

Then, with the speed of a cheetah and the grace of a gazelle, I took off across the parking lot after the shopping cart.

My heart pounded. Would I be fast enough?

Finally, I reached for the shopping cart handle just seconds before what would have been a disastrous situation. I wiped the sweat from my brow. Another rogue cart apprehended in the name of justice!

I returned to our SUV, climbed in, and glanced into the back seat. My kids appeared in shock with mouths wide open. “Mom!” Doodle gasped. “You were amazing. You should be in the Olympics – the Mom Olympics!”

So, as of that day a few years back, I began training for the Mom Olympics. An arduous task for sure. And yes, I need a bit of help on my hurdles. Case in point: when my girls were babies, I had a wooden gate up to keep them out of my home office. One day, in my haste to get out of the room quickly, my foot caught on the top of the gate, and I landed with a thud, the air knocked completely out of me. Never have I been so thankful for these strong bones God blessed me with.

But I was not deterred. In time and with much practice, my hurdling became second nature and I was soon able to leap across toys left strewn on the floor in a single bound (Super Mom anyone?)

I closed my eyes and imagined my future self…

So when the application for the Mom Olympics arrived in the mail, I quickly listed my qualifications, beginning with past accomplishments:

  • Carrying my children everywhere when they were younger (which built strong biceps and triceps)
  • Bending and stooping to pick up the toys and food my children continually threw on the floor from their high chairs when they were babies (which built strong quad muscles)
  • Amazing overall body fitness from pushing my two children in the baby jogger up grueling hills
  • Dexterity and balance in hopping on one foot (in agony) whenever I stepped on a Lego or fossilized Cheerio left on the floor
  • The runaway cart episode, showing my aptitude for speed and finesse and the ability to react in stressful situations.

In the “current accomplishments” category, I proudly listed the highlights of the second phase of my training:

  • Totally built biceps and shoulder muscles from constantly lifting and hauling the gym bag that my kids and I share for the local gym
  • Running the kids everywhere for their activities during their tween and early teen years (built endurance as a long-distance runner)
  • Experience in juggling (juggling multiple tasks as a wife and mom)
  • A friendly competition with my oldest daughter (who is a force to be reckoned with) on the rowing machine
  • A friendly competition with my youngest daughter while running (I came in second place)

With all that practice, it didn’t take much creativity to imagine myself in an Olympic marathon. I would be competing against the fiercest of competitors, knowing that it was just a matter of time before the gold medal graced my neck.

Someday, although I’m not rushing this…I will be a grandma training for the Grandma Olympics. Until then, I am thrilled to have been approved by the Mom Olympics CEO to participate in this year’s worldwide event.


To my fellow moms who have/had a collection of shirts adorned with dried spit-up stains; who’ve won awards for the least amount of sleep while promising their infants a trip to Disneyland if they would just sleep for more than a half hour at a time; who daily risk tender toes stepping on Legos and Cheerios.

To my fellow moms who’ve spent hours upon hours on their knees praying for their kids (and still do!); to those who’ve survived the tumultuous teenage years; and to those who’ve risked their lives teaching their children how to drive.

To stay-at-home-moms, homeschool moms, work-at-home-moms, work-outside-the-home moms, foster care moms…to all moms…Happy Mother’s Day!

Being a mom is truly the best job in the world, and I’m beyond grateful God blessed me with this honor. And I’m grateful for a faithful mom who exemplified the importance of loving her family well, being kind, having a strong work ethic, and loving the Lord with all her heart. Thank you, Mom!

Happy Mother’s Day!


Before you go, check out these other posts:

the great toilet paper caper

5 things moms need

leaving a godly legacy

7 ways to encourage your children

13 verses to comfort the weary soul

21 awesome family movies you may never have heard of

6 ways to stick with homeschooling (when you want to give up)

the importance of recognizing your influence

the video camera is always on part 4

Last week in my continuing series, I talked about two key issues where our children are always recording: our priorities and what we allow into our minds. Today, I’ll be discussing how our kids are always watching the example we set in our marriages and how we treat our spouse. I’ll also be discussing how we react when others wrong us.

Marriage can be tough. It is purely by the grace of God that two completely different people with different pasts can come together, warts and all, and share a love that spans a lifetime.

While no marriage is perfect, we can do our best to be a half of a marriage that honors God and sets a good example for our children. It has been said that our daughters will emulate us as wives when they themselves marry and that they will choose husbands with similar character traits as their dads. The same is true for our sons, who look to their dads for an example of what a man should be in his role as a husband; and at moms for what type of wife they will seek.

So how can we show our children an example of a marriage worth mirroring?

Spend time together. Set aside the first 15 minutes when your spouse arrives home from work (or you, if you arrive after your spouse) to greet each other, talk about your day, and connect. Yes, there are a million other things that will be vying for your attention, but making your spouse a priority is critical.

Spend time in the Word as a couple. To do so in our busy world, we have to be intentional. Set aside time to pray together and seek to know the Lord better through reading the Bible.

Put your spouse before yourself. A fun article depicting a couple who celebrated their 85th wedding anniversary in 2020 and is likely the longest married couple in America, discusses the importance of spending time together participating in the favorite interests of the other spouse. Husband Ralph states in the article that “Dorothy loves ballroom dancing and I loved to shoot clay targets…I joined her with ballroom dancing and she joined me with trap shooting.”

Deal with conflict appropriately. Conflict, grudges, irritation, differing ideas, disagreements…and the list goes on. While we may have a lot in common with our spouse, we aren’t them and they aren’t us. When conflict arises – and it will – we need to deal with it appropriately. The Bible tells us in Ephesians 4:26-27, “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold”.

Be kind. Matthew 7:12 applies heartily to marriages. Treat your spouse as you would like to be treated.

Serve your spouse. There are a million little ways we can serve our spouse that make a huge impact.

Make building a strong marriage a priority.

Another area where our kids will imitate us is in how we react when someone wrongs us.

This is a tough one. No one can sail through life without painful relationships, broken friendships, and just plain crossing the paths of mean people. Hurts happen, and how we respond when someone has wronged us is another area where our children are watching us to see how we respond.

Do we respond in kind? Do we hide our pain? Do we get defensive and seek revenge? Do we ignore the offending party?

The Bible tells us in Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone”. There will be those times when we aren’t able to live at peace with someone and the best we can do is to distance ourselves from that person and continue to pray for them.

However, for those other times (which should be in the majority), our children are watching to see if we react with forgiveness, seeking reconciliation if possible, and remembering that we are called to imitate Christ in our actions (1 Corinthians 11:1).

Do we respond in humility? Ask for forgiveness when we are in the wrong?

None of these proper responses is possible without the help of the Holy Spirit. In our fallen natures, it’s much easier to take a different route of bitterness, unrighteous anger, and gossip.

Our children will imitate how we respond with someone who hurt us the next time someone hurts them.

Please join me next time for our final segment in this series where I’ll be discussing how our children mimic our healthy habits (or lack thereof) and how we respond during trials.


Before you go, check out these other posts:

the video camera is always on part 1

the video camera is always on part 2

the video camera is always on part 3

the importance of new beginnings

Movie Monday: Where Love Found Me

4 ways to reconnect with your spouse

7 ways to inspire others

7 tips to help safeguard against an entitlement attitude in your kids