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 toward an intersection attempting to mar the glossy finishes of luxury SUVs and sports cars.Picture 500760

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 Ariel 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 today, I have begun training for the 2020 Mom Olympics. On the application, I listed my qualifications:

  • 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);
  • Hurdling over toys left strewn across the living room floor;


  • Dexterity and balance in hopping on one foot (in agony) whenever I stepped on a Lego or fossilized Cheerio left on the floor;
  • The recent runaway cart episode showing my aptitude for speed and finesse;
  • Totally built biceps and shoulder muscles from constantly lifting and hauling the gym bag that my kids and I share to the Y; duffle bag
  • Running the kids everywhere for their activities for the past several years (built endurance as a long-distance runner);
  • Experience in juggling (juggling multiple tasks as a wife and mom).

Happily, I was approved by the Mom Olympics CEO to participate. See you in Tokyo in 2020!

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Why I’m training for the Mom Olympics (click to tweet)

Moms can you identify? Training for the Mom Olympics (click to tweet)

Got humor? Training for the Mom Olympics (click to tweet)


what do you love most about your mom?

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

The biggest blessing God has given me is the blessing of being a mom! I am honored and humbled that God allowed me to be a mom and I strive to raise my children for Him.

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of being a mom!

I am also blessed to have a wonderful mom. One of the things I love most about my own mom is that she has always worked hard to care for her family and we always knew she loved us by her actions and her words. Thoughtful and compassionate, she taught us to put others first by modeling that herself.

My mom and dad holding me when I was a baby….

Since it’s almost Mother’s Day, I asked what others love most about their moms. I loved all of these wonderful responses  – and what a tribute to moms!

A HUGE thank you to everyone who allowed me to use their quotes here. I enjoyed reading your responses. 🙂 HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!


I’ve always felt a special kinship to my mom. In fact, I guess I’m unashamedly a momma’s boy still at age 40. I’ve always loved and appreciated my mom (and dad), but over the last year they’ve both been a shoulder to cry on and offered a hand to hold while my wife and I watched our eldest son battle cancer. I can’t imagine what the past year would have been like without their love and amazing support. ~ Bryan Ridenhour, pastor and blogger at

I love that my mom has always been encouraging and supportive. She always sees the positive and forgets the negative. She has never not believed in me. Even when I feel I am failing to please her, she always says she’s proud of me and what I have accomplished. She tells me to forget what I haven’t accomplished, and that I’ll get there one day, when I’m supposed to be. I am where I am because I need to be. My mom has always been the light at the end of the day that I need the most ~ Taryn

What I love most about my mom is…. that she prays for me, everyday! ~ Anna Leibke

A fiery redhead with spunk, Mama raised eight children with patience, wisdom and love. She planted in us a drive to work, achieve, and serve the Lord. She’s been gone 50 years, yet I can hear her quoting, “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to wrath.” ~ Ada Brownell, author of Swallowed by LIFE : Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal

I love my mom because she gets me when nobody else does. I’m alot like her so that helps! We also share a lot of the same reading tastes so I can share most of my books with her. I’m also super thankful that she took the time, and was patient enough to homeschool me and my younger brother! ~ Faye Oygard

I love my mom for just being such a great listener and supporter. She’s my source of encouragement and a real go-getter. She’s fearless and I love that about her! ~ Dee

love my mom for persevering. She had a hard childhood, and has struggled most of her life. Yet she keeps going! AND she would do anything for her kids! ~ Carrie Chwierut media designer at Carrie’s Social

She sacrificed every day to make my life as normal as possible. ~ Ginger Solomon, blogger at A Bed of Roses, Thorns Included

My mom has been gone for 12 years now, but what I remember most about her, is her love of all living things! She loved people, animals and her amazing flower garden. ~ Cindi Hoppes

I lost my mom 4 years ago next month. She was 92. She was a hard working, lovely, sweet, Christ-like woman. As a child she lost her father when only 8 and her mother could not afford to finish raising Mom and her younger brother so they were placed in a Methodist orphanage. She looked back on that experience without harshness though life there was hard. She accepted it and was glad for the provision it afforded her. Mom was always a servant to us and always such a giving and loving person. And man could she cook and could she sew! ~ Vera Godley

She has always stuck by me even at my ugliest she never gave up on me. ~ Lourdes Montes

My mom has spent her entire 88 years giving to others – she was always there when I needed to talk or just needed a hug. ~ Kim Ferland

My mother died one day after her 76th birthday. Happily, she was able to talk to all of us on her birthday–my sister, brother, and me–who were living far from her Florida home. We were able to laugh and tell her we loved her. Her death was following day was totally unexpected. It’ll be ten years this August 11th and I still reach for the phone to call her or say to one of my kids, “I’m not sure about that, but Mother’ll know. Let me…” Then I remember. My favorite thing about her was her gentleness. She mellowed more and more each year. She lived her life in horrible pain (twisted spine as a result of a childhood illness), but never complained, just quietly went about her business, doing what she had to do. I’ll miss her horribly until I can hug her in Heaven one day. ~ Deborah Dee Harper

My mom taught me to love reading. Thanks, Mom! ~ Joy Isley

My Mama is in heaven now, but the thing she taught me I am most grateful for is to trust in God. She taught me there was nothing too big for God to handle. She taught me to put my complete faith and trust in Him. She taught me to be strong and courageous and to never give up. We went through some tough times in our life and in our relationship, but all in all she was my best friend and I miss her greatly. She became very humble in her last days. I always knew when I walked in the room she was glad to see me and I was special to her. I knew she loved me. ~Deborah H. Bateman, Author of: The Book of Ruth: A Story of Love and Redemption and The Book of Esther: A Story of Love and Favor

My mom has guts when it counts. After my dad was killed by a drunk driver when he was 40-years old, she moved our family cross-country — from Oregon to Georgia to start a new beginning for us. She felt it to be the best choice for her kids (1 in college, 1 in high school, and me in elementary school.) It wasn’t a popular choice — especially with my dad’s family, but in hindsight it was the right choice. Would I have done the same thing? I don’t know. She turns 75 this year and I look back and think, “Wow! What a gutsy thing that woman did for us ALL those years ago!” ~ Susan Ferrell

I love my mom because she’s always been so supportive of me and always believed in me even when I didn’t! ~ Liz R.

I was raised at a time when women weren’t seen in church alone. My Mom was a believer. A precious woman who had received Christ as a young teenager but never had the opportunity to be discipled. She was married at 16 and a Mom to twins at 17. My Dad wasn’t a believer. However, my Mom even at that young age new the importance of taking my sister and I to church. She was so brave. I’ve had the privilege to be in full time ministry for 40 years. I will be in her debt always ~ Donna Feddick Fagerstrom

The thing I love most about my Mom is how far she has come in her life. Her childhood was not the best, but she overcame and has been an amazing Mom to my brother and me for the last 35 years! She is a wonderful example to follow as a christian mom now that I have a child of my own. ~ Heather Bergman

She’s there when you need her, there’s never any doubt where help will come from ~ Theresa N.

I love my Mom for who she is. When I was younger and a teenager I really didn’t understand her. Now that I have children of my own I really understand. She is my best friend and she is always there for our family. I hope that someday my children will look back and appreciate me as much as I appreciate my Mom. ~ Amy

I love everything about my Mom.She has always been here for me…she will do anything to help me.I have health problems and she is one of the few people who truly understands what I go through.She has had to deal with so much heartbreak over the years…she lost her only son(my brother)to pancreatis and she has lost two sisters that she loved dearly over the last year….and so much more she has had to go through,but she has kept her faith and continues on.She is getting up in age and I just can’t imagine what my life would be like without her in it…I love her so much….Thanks Mom for all you do. ~ Jackie Tessnair

Honestly, I love my mom most when I am sick. My mom doesn’t show affection often, I think I can count all the times she’s hugged me on one hand. (I think it might also be a culture thing? I guess Chinese people don’t really like skinship?) I am already eighteen, but nothing makes me feel better in the middle of a fever and extreme nausea like a bowl of my mom’s homemade soup. She will never tell me, but she will sneak it on the dining room table so that I can see it…it’s times like these that I feel warm and cuddly inside ~ Lillian, blogger at A Novel Toolbox

It’s impossible to pick what I love most about my mom – she’s seriously one of my favorite people on the planet and everything I aspire to be as a wife & mother. I have so many memories of the special things she would do for us as we were growing up – even the simple things like warming our clothes up in front of the space heater before waking us up for school. And today she is one of my best friends and the #1 reason I miss living in Florida is getting to see her every day. I love that I can always turn to her for advice – be it a disaster in the kitchen or frustration with my husband. I consider myself supremely blessed to have wonderful parents. ~ Kat Vinson

What I love most about my mom is that no matter how she is feeling, she is always there for my sister and me. My mom suffers from a lot of pain due to complications from lupus, but when my older sister, who is also a brittle diabetic, suffered a series of massive strokes at the young age of 27 due to a rare brain disease and was subsequently abandoned by her husband, my mom (and dad) dropped everything to take care of her. I went from looking after my mother to watching her care for my sister even on the days when she felt her absolute worst. No one will ever know just how much my mother has given of herself and sacrificed her own health to ensure that my sister has the best chance of survival day to day. ~ Mallorie

My mama is almost 74 but in poor health. We have almost lost her about 4 times in the past 2 years. What I love about my Mama is that she is the best cook in town. She can definitely do some down home cooking. ~ Vicki Lynch

What I loved about my Mom is that I could pick up the phone and call her anytime of the day or night and share with her what was going on at that moment. I lost my Mom in (99). I miss her so. ~ Terri Clark


7 Ways to Encourage Your Children

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

The word encourage in Webster’s Dictionary is defined as to inspire with courage or confidence; to promote, foster.

So, how can we, as parents, encourage our children? Below are seven suggestions…

Encourage their character.  “A person’s character is the sum of his or her disposition, thoughts, intentions, desires, and actions.” (quote taken from

As parents, are we helping our children to develop good character? Are we encouraging them to make good choices? Our kids will be, and are faced, with multiple decisions each day. Helping them to understand why good choices are important and equipping them with the knowledge and practice to make good choices is paramount.

One of the things we do in our home is to discuss with our children what they would do if faced with  a particularly difficult situation.  What would they do if they were asked to do something they knew was wrong? I heard someone say long ago that what we do when no one is watching is a sign of our integrity. My prayer is that my children will have that kind of integrity.

Picture 095Encourage their dreams. I love the dreams of little children! My youngest asked for a pet mongoose not long ago. I could have easily told her that there was no way we could have a mongoose and for her to be more practical. However, I chose not to. Instead, I encouraged her dream and we chatted about how fun it would be to actually have a pet mongoose (especially since they eat snakes!), and the tricks we would teach him.

Encourage your children to dream at every age and every stage of their lives.

Encourage their future. I pray regularly for our children’s futures, both during family prayer time and during my own quiet times with the Lord.  I have told my children that it’s exciting to see what God has planned for their lives. We often discuss Jeremiah 29:11 which says: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)

Encourage their compassion. Compassion is one of the most important things we can teach our children. One thing we have done is to instill in our children the importance of serving others. For some ideas on how to instill compassion and servanthood in your children, please see my post here or my book 77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference: Ideas and Activities for Serving Others.

Not only should we encourage compassion for others outside the home, but we should especially encourage compassion within our own families. One of the ways that we do this is to regularly pray for each other and to express our prayer needs daily to one another.

Encourage their imagination. As a writer, I am grateful that the Lord blessed me with a creative imagination.  There are several ways I have encouraged my children’s imaginations. For one, I have always read to them. Reading is so important and can take us on adventures we would never otherwise take. When my children were old enough to begin reading themselves, I encouraged them to check out as many books as they wanted at the local library and to even have a “reading marathon” over the summer months. Reading is excellent for the imagination!

Several times, we have spread a blanket in the backyard and gazed up at the clouds. We take turns imagining what animals the clouds look like and which could we would choose if we could lounge on any cloud. The white puffy clouds always win!

My oldest daughter has a knack for art. As such, I asked if she would illustrate a story I wrote. She was delighted and it was wonderful to see her own imagination shining through in her art. I combined the story and her illustrations and asked the local office supply store to bound the pages together. We now have our own special book – not only a keepsake, but also a delightful practice in encouraging the imagination of a budding artist!

325381_piggy-back-rideEncourage their friendships. We talk often about friendships in our home and about the kind of friendships that are important. The Bible has much to say about friendships and what type of friends to choose. For example, Proverbs 16:28 talks of why being dishonest and being one who gossips separates close friends.  Proverbs 18:24 states the importance of a friend who sticks closer than a brother (ESV).  John 15:13 is a profound statement of friendship: Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

In our home, we have talked frequently about three different types of friends: gold friends who are there for you through the good times and bad; silver friends who are fun to be with, but you can’t always count on them; and bronze friends who are more like an acquaintance because they aren’t “true” friends.

Encourage your children to be the kind of  friend that would honor God.

Most importantly, encourage their walk with God.
Are you children growing in their walk with the Lord? Have they accepted Christ as their personal Lord and Savior? The most important thing we can do is encourage our children to have a close relationship with Jesus. After all, that’s the only thing that will last for eternity. 443072_jesus_on_the_cross