Friday, December 9, 2011

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Friday, December 2, 2011


Be on the alert for symptoms of inner Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. The hearts of a great many have already been exposed to this virus and it is possible that people everywhere could come down with it in epidemic proportions. This could pose a serious threat to what has, up to now, been a fairly stable condition of conflict in the world.
Some signs and symptoms of The Advent Virus:
  • A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears based on past experiences.
  • An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.
  • A loss of interest in judging other people.
  • A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.
  • A loss of interest in conflict.
  • A loss of the ability to worry. (This is a very serious symptom.)
  • Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation.
  • Contented feelings of connectedness with others and nature.
  • Frequent attacks of smiling.
  • An increasing tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen.
  • An increased susceptibility to the love extended by others as well as the uncontrollable urge to extend it.
Please send this warning out to all your friends. This virus can and has affected many systems. Some systems have been completely cleaned out because of it.
            Anonymous via e-mail

(Did you enjoy this article? More articles like it appear every month in the Nebraska Family Times newspaper. Subscribe to the paper, or give a gift subscription, and from now until Dec. 16th you'll be entered into drawings for Christian books and CD's and the grand prize of a Nook or Kindle e-reader! Go to

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How to have the "Perfect" Christmas

Are you stressed about Christmas? Plan ahead, using the advice in this article, and you'll be able to enjoy the real meaning of CHRISTmas!

(This article appeared int he December issue of the Nebraska Family Times. Articles like this--encouraging, inspiring, and motivating to Christians--appear in every issue of the Nebraska Family Times. Subscribe to the paper and for only $20 you'll receive articles like this every month!)

How to Have the 'Perfect' Christmas

By Kimberly Chastain
"This year will be different. I vow I won't get stressed out over presents, parties, cards, Christmas plays, putting up the tree and decorating, and all the many other tasks of the season. I will remember the true meaning of Christmas."
Do you find that all the Christmas chores steal your joy?
"For unto us a child is born" - Aahh the miracle of birth. The true miracle of our Savior's birth. As Christian mothers we are doubly blessed to celebrate Christmas. We know the joy and pain of childbirth. We can imagine an exhausted Mary looking at her truly perfect, holy baby. 
 How can we recapture the joy and the simplicity of the first Christmas? Following are some suggestions for making this the "Perfect" Christmas
 1. Decide how you want your family to experience the true meaning of Christmas. Will you help another family with presents? Our family now has a tradition of doing Christmas boxes for Samaritan's Purse. Our children love picking out items for the box and praying for the child who receives their box.
 2. Prioritize what is most important to you. Maybe you can't do it all. You may choose not to send Christmas cards, but do a New Year's note.
 3.  Decide what parties you can and cannot attend. Sometimes as a family we may rarely be home in December. So much for family time.
 4.  If you have young children, remember how important, normal routine and sleep schedule are for younger children and you. Taking a cranky toddler shopping is not a good experience for anyone.
 5. Decide what traditions you want for your own nuclear family. Sometimes we are so busy going to extended families' homes we don't get to start our own family traditions. Try to have a leisurely Christmas morning with children enjoying their toys before rushing off to anywhere.
 6.  Start a tradition of celebrating Jesus’ birthday. Examples: creating a Happy Birthday Jesus cake, reading the Christmas story before opening presents, or children having their own child size Nativity set to play with and tell the Christmas story.
 7.  Set a limit on Christmas spending and stick to it. Don't celebrate Jesus' birth by being in debt in January.
 8.  Take time to pray and think about the most precious gift of all. Often our quiet times are the first to go when we get so busy. Using an Advent calendar with children will also help them focus on the true meaning of Christmas.
 9.  Be kind to yourself. You may not be able to do everything like your Mom did. Perhaps you can make slice-and-bake cookies with your children instead of homemade cookie dough. Your children will remember the fun of decorating cookies, not who made the cookie dough.
 10.  Remember that you are not superwoman and you can't do it all. Sit down with your husband and decide who can do what on your list. Children can help put stamps on Christmas cards. Be kind to yourself and rest in our Savior's loving arms.
 I don't know if you or I will have the "Perfect" Christmas, but we can make a conscious effort to focus on our Lord. Things will go wrong and we will get stressed, but we need to keep our eyes on Him. We need to show and teach our children that Christmas is not about Santa and receiving gifts. Christmas is about the ultimate gift that we can never repay.
 So, I wish you a "Perfect" Christmas with Christ' birth as your focus, and that you would be kind to yourself. Set reasonable expectations for yourself and experience the true joy of Christmas.
 Kimberly Chastain is a Professional Life Coach and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Kimberly is also the author of the ebook entitled, "Pearls of Encouragement for Christian Working Moms." She has a passion for working with Christian Working Moms to help them find satisfaction in all their many different roles. To find out more go to

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Give the gift that gives Christian encouragement all year!

The Nebraska Family Times gives readers “inspiration, encouragement, and motivation” in their Christian walk, every month! For only $20 you (or someone you love) will receive 12 issues of the Nebraska Family Times, full of devotions, local features, and state and national news from a non-denominational Christian point of view.

The Nebraska Family Times is the perfect gift for anyone on your gift list—old or young, male or female, with or without Internet access or someone who still enjoys reading a “paper” newspaper.

When you give the Nebraska Family Times as a gift:
  • The gift recipient will receive a gift card indicating your gift
  • YOU will be entered into a drawing to win Christian books or CD’s or the grand prize of a Nook or Kindle e-reader
  • The Nebraska Family Times will donate a food item to the Columbus Rescue Mission/Living Water Rescue Mission (our goal is to donate 300 food items by December 16th!).
UPDATE: OFFER EXTENDED! Until noon on December 16th,  you can also purchase a copy of  the book Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom’s Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family, and Her Home, for ONLY $5! FREE shipping and handling included. ($5 offer good only with purchase of Nebraska Family Times.) Go to to read an excerpt from Home is Where the Mom Is.

ORDER TODAY! You’ll be giving a great gift, helping the Rescue Mission—and you’ll have a chance to win something for yourself, or to give as a gift.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"Simple Steps to Solid Scripture Study"

The Bible is the BEST source for learning about God's plan, receiving His guidance, and discerning His plan for your life. But do you wonder how to study the Bible? Follow this link to find "Simple Steps to Solid Scripture Study." I've been following them for several months, reading the Old Testament. In January I plan to start reading the New Testament, following this plan. I've learned so much just following this plan--and I'm excited to read more every day. I hope you enjoy it too!

My next blog post will help you make the time to spend time with God every day!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

How to have a parenting “do-over”
By Jill Savage

I remember when Mark and I took a parenting class and learned about expecting first time obedience from our kids. Our habit, up to that point, had been to count to three, or to threaten, or to get angry.

Now we had a different vision for our family and for discipline in our home. But how do you change mid-stream? How do you handle a change in expectations, discipline, or how you will handle things?

Mark and I have had to do this over the years when we’ve realized that we’ve either allowed something we shouldn’t, or haven’t parented well or consistently. We call a family meeting and talk to the kids about what we’ve realized or what we’re learning. We apologize for not being consistent or not handling certain situations well. And we set a new standard on how we as a family are going to act, behave, or handle situations in the future. We have found that this is a respectful way to change the direction the family is headed in and our kids have responded relatively well to it.

If you find yourself needing a parenting “do-over,” consider these strategies:

1) Tell your child/children of the upcoming change. One mom had allowed her daughter to sleep in her bed with her. When she realized this wasn’t healthy for her daughter or her marriage, she sat her daughter down and explained that “beginning tomorrow night, you will sleep in your own bed.” This gave her daughter a heads up and a time of adjustment.

2) Apologize to your kids, if needed. An apology isn’t a sign of weakness…in the parenting realm it’s a sign of strength. Your kids will understand that you make mistakes and that you know what to do to clean up your mistakes. When we sat down and explained to our kids about first time obedience, we apologized for not holding them to a higher standard that would serve them well in life (what boss wants to tell his employee to do something three times?)

3) Train to the new expectation. If your kids are old enough, do some role-playing to train them to the new standard. When we were teaching first time obedience, we did some pretending. I told them we were going to practice first time obedience with a happy response. I said, “In a minute, I’m going to ask you to bring me a specific toy. When I ask I want you to say ‘Yes mom!’ and bring it to me.” Then we made it into a game. We played that game for several days.

4) Give a grace period. When we introduced first-time obedience, we trained for several days and then we began our grace period. It was one week of having the new expectation in place, but if they responded inappropriately, they were reminded of the standard and told that after the grace week, they would receive a consequence for that kind of a response.

5) Be willing to be the parent. The standard is set, the training done, and the practice time is over. Now it’s time to stand firm on your new direction. Most parents find if they are consistent with communication, expectations, and accountability, they are able to move in the direction they desire to go.

If you’re dealing with teens, you probably won’t need the training, but the communication, grace period, and consistent accountability will do the trick.

Reprinted with permission. Jill Savage ( is the founder and Executive Director of Hearts at Home (www.o, an organization that encourages, educates, and equips every mom in every season of motherhood. She is the author of seven books including Professionalizing Motherhood, Real Moms…Real Jesus, My Heart’s at Home, and her newest release, Living with Less So Your Family Has More. Jill and her husband, Mark, have five children and make their home in Central Illinois. ---------------------------
See this article and more like it in the November issue of the Nebraska Family Times! The mission of the Nebraska Family Times is to "inspire, encourage, and motivate you in you Christian walk". If you would like to receive positive, encouraging articles and news from a Christian point of view, subscribe now! You'll be entered to win Christian books and CD's and a final drawing for a Nook or Kindle e-reader! Go to for more information.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Prepare for Sick Days
by Shelly Burke

(Adapted from Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom’s Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family, and Her Home.)

It’s that time of year sniffles, sneezes, and stomach aches will be sneaking up on you and your family. Developing a strategy for sick days—especially if your children are young—is essential for moms!

I have a friend whose young children became sick when her husband was out of town. Two-year-old Lila’s diarrhea was relentless, and by late afternoon Sindy realized she’d have to go out to get more diapers. She carefully made a list, anticipating what they would need for a few days. As soon as they got in the store, however, Brett, Lila’s 10 month old brother, began vomiting. Sindy sped through the store, getting just a few essentials; she would ask her husband to get the rest of the supplies on his way home from the airport the next morning. However, fate struck again when his plane was delayed…and Sindy herself felt stomach rumblings. Thankfully Bobby’s plane arrived just a few hours late and he quickly returned home and rescued Sindy and his family.

To Sindy this was a landmark event: she was determined never to be unprepared for sickness again.

Start YOUR preparation for sick days, today! Begin by making a comprehensive list of “sick day” supplies, for the kids and the adults in your family. Purchase the most important items ASAP; when other items are on sale, stock up. Your list should include:

  • Medications to treat fever, pain, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, cold/sinus symptoms, diaper rash, cough, and so on, in age-appropriate form (drops, liquid, chewable, tablets) for every member of your family. (Later this week I’ll post medication cautions and how to choose and when to give medications.)
  • Medications to treat chronic illnesses like asthma or diabetes. Sickness can change the amount or timing of medications that are taken to treat chronic conditions, so be sure to talk with your doctor if you have any questions about doing so.
  • If you or your child have frequent ear infections, ask the doctor to prescribe numbing drops that will decrease the pain. These can be a lifesaver, easing pain until you can get in to see the doctor. These drops do not treat the infection, so you’ll still have to make an appointment for you or your child to be seen and perhaps get antibiotics.
  • Electrolyte replacement fluid or popsicles for infants/toddlers who are vomiting and/or have diarrhea.
  • Soda/juice, etc. to sooth upset tummies and replace fluids.
  • Comfort foods—soup, mashed potatoes, rice, applesauce, pudding, jello, etc.
  • Thermometer and probe covers, humidifier and distilled water, and tissues.
  • Activities to keep kids occupied when they’re on the road to wellness but bored…or when you are sick and need some quiet time. When they’re on sale, purchase age-appropriate things like crayons or markers and paper, DVD’s, stickers, books, stickers, simple craft projects, etc. The secret—keep these things hidden until they’re needed!
  • When your “mother’s instinct” kicks in and you feel illness lurking, or if your kids come home reporting how many kids got sick at school and went home, check your supplies and stock up where necessary!
Start preparing for sick days, today! You’ll be glad you did.

(adapted from Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom's Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family, and Her Home. Check out the complete Table Of Contents by clicking on the tab; purchase Home is Where the Mom Is by clicking on the button on the right hand side of the page.)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Start Planning for Christmas!
by Shelly Burke, Editor

[NFT] When you plan ahead for Christmas gifts you’ll be able to enjoy creating the gifts, decrease your stress in getting projects completed, and ease your budget by spreading out expenditures. Here are several ideas for gifts, along with ways to start planning now.

  1. Pesto, salsa and other garden treats. If you have an abundance of tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, herbs, or other garden products, consider making gifts of salsa, pickles, pickled veggies, pesto, and so on. These items can be frozen or preserved through canning. Collect recipes from the internet or cookbooks and prepare the treats now! Use fancy labels or fabric covers and you won’t even have to wrap your gifts.
  2. Baked items. Consider baking biscotti, truffles, candy, fancy cookies, and other baked goods as gifts. They’ll always fit and are never the wrong color. Start collecting recipes from the internet or cookbooks; your local library will have a large selection of specialty cookbooks if you don’t find the recipes you want in your cook books. If you enjoy baking, try some new recipes! Once you’ve collected the recipes, make a master list of ingredients. Purchase several every time you go to the grocery store, and watch for sales to spread out the cost of “fancy” ingredients.
  3. Make photos into lasting gifts. Collages, photo books, posters, mugs, coasters, mouse pads, ornaments, key chains and refrigerator magnets are just a few of the many things you can create with your favorite photos. Depending on your level of craftiness you can purchase supplies at a craft store or with just a few clicks, order online. Online photo stores and craft stores have weekly sales, so make your list and order or purchase supplies when they’re on sale.
  4. Theme baskets. Create a basket according to the recipient’s interests or hobbies or needs. A college student will love a selection of snacks. A busy mom might enjoy a “taking care of mom” basket with soft socks, a good book, and a selection of chocolate and bubble bath. A scrapbooker will enjoy scrapbook tools or supplies. Plan baskets now so you can purchase supplies when they’re on sale. Remember to check the clearance aisle in any store—I’ve bought fancy chocolate and scrapbooking tools on clearance in an office supply store!
This article appeared in the October issue of the Nebraska Family Times. For a FREE sample issue of the Nebraska Family Times e-mail me at or call (402) 993-2467.

Monday, October 3, 2011

I love to read, and I love to write about books I read. I recently read She Makes it Look Easy and reviewed it for the Nebraska Family Times newspaper. I wanted to share the review with you. If you have books you'd like to suggest for review, or if you've written a review of a Christian book, please share it with me at
She Makes it Look Easy
     By Marybeth Whalen

Review by Shelly Burke, Editor and Publisher

She Makes it Look Easy is not a typical “everything-works-out-perfectly-in-the-end” Christian novel. The book delves into the lives of three families and the impacts of the choices husbands and wives make. You might find yourself shocked to find that some of the outwardly “perfect” Christian characters make very bad choices…and you might find yourself closely identifying with several of the characters as well.

I was immediately drawn into the lives of the characters in She Makes it Look Easy. The story is told from the alternating views of the central characters, Justine and Ariel. Justine Miller makes it all look “easy” with her perfectly clean home, perfectly groomed children, and perfectly organized life. Under the “perfect,” however, are dark motives and desires.

Ariel Baxter’s family is “moving on up” when they move into Essex Falls, an upscale neighborhood. Justine quickly introduces herself to her new neighbor Ariel and offers to help Ariel organize her life. Soon, however, Ariel suspects that Justine has motives beyond helping a new friend. When she delves deeper into Justine’s actions she discovers a secret that Justine has been keeping.

Justine and Ariel both face difficult choices, and you’ll be wondering until the final chapter if they’ll do the right thing.

She Makes it Look Easy reminded me of several things; first of all, when I find myself too eager to please someone who makes me feel bad about myself, that person is not a friend. Second, I was reminded not to judge people who seem to “have it all together;” they might be hiding a secret, or they might need a friend. And third, no matter how much I want to be a friend, there are times that doing the right thing is more important than a not-so-true friendship.

Even if you usually don’t enjoy fiction, I encourage you to read She Makes it Look Easy. To order go to Proverbs 31 Ministries. To read more by Marybeth Whalen go to

Saturday, September 24, 2011


I love sunrises, and fall is a time for especially beautiful sunrises in our part of Nebraska. I've taken pictures of several sunrises over the last few weeks. I can never remember which setting on my camera takes the best early-morning scenery pictures, so I end up taking quite a few pictures, using different settings, over the time period of 10 or 15 minutes or so.

When I'm looking at the sunrises in "real life" and when I look at the pictures on my computer I always have the same thought--what a great God we have, to have created such beauty solely for our enjoyment. He could have made every sunrise exactly the same, but He did not. Some mornings there are clouds...some mornings are perfectly clear...on some mornings there is a veil of mist over the fields. I have taken hundreds of pictures of sunrises during the 6 1/2 years we've lived in the country, and I am still amazed at how different the sunrises are from day to day, and even minute to minute.

Recently in my Bible study I've been reading a Psalm each morning. The following verses fit the beauty of His sunrises.

"Light dawns in the darkness for the upright; He is gracious, merciful, and righteous." Psalm 122:4

When our days are dark because of circumstance, we can always be confident that "light will dawn," both literally and figuratively. Just as the sun comes up every morning and brightens the world, the Son  brightens our world through His love and grace and mercy. Just as the sun is there even when we cannot see it, the Son is also there. Even if we cannot see Him or we feel far away from Him, we can be confident that He cares for us, He listens to our prayers, and He is aware of everything that is going on in our lives.

 The other verse that inspired me; "From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised!"

When I watch a beautiful sunrise, I can't help but praise the Lord! I praise Him for giving us such beauty in our world, I praise Him that I am able to see and enjoy the sunrise and I praise Him for His gift to us that makes all other gifts pale: the gift of His Son and our salvation.

May you find joy in sunrises, and in the Son.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Would you Like to Become "More than a Good Bible Study Girl?"

I read this book several months ago and loved it! It encouraged me to make God and Bible study more than just another "to-do" on my list. I reviewed Becoming More than a Good Bible Study Girl in the September issue of the Nebraksa Family Times and was so inspired and encouraged by the book that I wanted to share the review here, with you. I hope you enjoy it! (And if you decide to order More than a Good Bible Study Girl, please consider ordering through Proverbs 31 ministries; it's a little more expensive than ordering through a "big" e-bookstore, but you'll be supporting the Proverbs 31 Ministries). 
Becoming More than a Good Bible Study Girl
By Lysa TerKeurst

Review by Shelly Burke, Editor

Lysa TerKeurst had a difficult childhood and a legalistic view of God, believing that if she did the “right” things, He in turn would give her what she wanted. All of that ended the day her baby sister died and Lysa completely turned away from God.

Several years later she was led back to Jesus by a verse a friend had written in a card, and started to seek inner peace through Him. In Becoming More than a Good Bible Study Girl Lysa shares her struggles and the truths she found. Lysa says the message she wants to share is, “to help women not only know God’s truth but also feel equipped to live it out in their everyday lives.”

Lysa addresses six areas in which we can become “more than a good Bible study girl;”
  • In My Heart
  • In My Walk with God
  • In My Relationships
  • In My Struggles
  • In My Thoughts
  • In My Calling
In each area she shows how we can develop a deeper relationship with God. Lysa covers personal, sensitive topics; chapter titles include “When I  Feel Like I Don’t Measure Up,” “When God Hurts My Feelings” and “What Do I Do When I Don’t Feel God?”
Lysa lets readers know that it’s OK to struggle with devotion time, become disappointed when we don’t get the opportunities that we seek, and struggle with the “uglies” (times in life when things don’t go as they should and we feel ugly). She addresses real-life situations that include dealing with gossip, changing a bad attitude, and defeating satan’s attempts to make us feel inadequate. She assures us that we are not the only ones who feel this way, and then gives practical advice for finding Biblical truths and living them out in our daily lives.

Lysa writes to new Christians as well as those who have been believers for a long time, and every reader will benefit from her suggestions for studying the Bible in a way that will make it come alive

I found myself taking pages of notes and writing down Bible references as I read Becoming More than a Good Bible Study Girl. I was able to immediately put her suggestions to use, and was especially uplifted by her encouraging words for times when things just don’t go our way. One of the most reassuring things I learned was that not getting opportunities when I want them is not God’s way of keeping me from my calling, but instead His way of preparing me for opportunities.

Becoming More than a Good Bible Study Girl is a book I will refer to often, and I recommend it to anyone who seeks a deeper relationship with God and wants to live His truths in their daily life.
Lysa TerKeurst is the president of Proverbs 31 Ministries. Go to to order Becoming More than a Good Bible Study Girl and for many more resources and links to blogs and devotions of other women who are a part of Proverbs 31 Ministries.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Why You Should Hang Up Your Robe
by Glynnis Whitwer

(Editor's Note: This article really hit home with me; I have a bad habit of not quite finishing what I started. Reading this article helped me to realize the importance of finishing what I start, even with such seemingly minor tasks as hanging up my robe. Thanks, Glynnis, for your wise words!)

“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me…” Acts 20:24 (NIV)

My first instinct was to leave the clean, folded clothes on top of the dresser. Granted, my arms were filled with freshly laundered items...
To read the rest of the article, go to . Check out more by Glynnis Whitwer at

"The days may seem long, but the years are short"

One of our MOPS mentors told me that years ago, when I had two toddlers at home. And indeed, some of the days did seem very long, between diapers, and nursing, and (very short!) naps, and more diapers, and interrupted sleep, and more nursing, and preparing meals, and baths, and more nursing...

But I was reminded of her words once again a few weeks ago, on Morgan's first day of her senior year. After I took the last, first-day-of-school picture, waved good-bye to her, sent up a prayer to God to protect her, and wiped away a few tears, I went through her old scrapbooks until I found the picture of her first, first-day-of-school (see the pictures below).

As I looked at the two pictures I felt a mix of emotions; a little bit of sadness that my "little girl" was soon going to leave to go to college and start her life; pride in the independent, thoughtful, God-loving young lady she's become; disbelief that she's gone from being a kindergartener to a senior in high-school in the blink of an eye...and overwhelming gratitude that God has given Tim and I such a blessing in Morgan.

This is such a bittersweet time for me...happiness and joy in Morgan's anticipation of "what comes next" along with a little tug in my heart every time she hugs me good-bye in the morning, knowing that next year she will be going to college and I won't be there to hug her every morning.

So, moms of young kids: Remember--"the days may seem long, but the years are short." Enjoy every stage with your children. Enjoy reading to them, discovering the wonders of nature with them, and cuddles in bed with them. As your children get older, you'll celebrate their independence in eating, going to the bathroom, and dressing themselves. Before you know it they'll be (gulp) driving and dating...and considering their options of what to do after high school. The hugs may become less frequent, but you'll still get them once in awhile!

I do not regret one moment that I spent with Cody and Morgan. I enjoyed each of the stages they went through (although I would not go back and repeat any stage)! And I look forward to the "stages" yet to come. May God bless every day you spend with your children.

Morgan's first, first day of school, with her first dog, Hershey

Morgan's last, first-day-of-school, with her dog Jenny. Yes, she's sitting on the same swing that's in the first picture! (It's almost time for a new porch swing.)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Bacon goes with...Chocolate Chip Cookies?

I enjoy trying new, unusual recipes, and last week my sister sent me a link to a recipe I just couldn't resist trying--Brown Butter, Bacon, and Chocolate Chip Cookies. ( ). The recipe called for three kinds of chocolate, giving me an excuse to buy three bags of chocolate chips, and I'd never made brown butter before, either, so I was really looking forward to trying it.

Making the brown butter wasn't hard, just a little time-consuming since I was worried about burning the butter (the recipe and my sister both warned that the butter could go from "a little brown" to "burned beyond being able to use" in just a few seconds). The instant it started to turn brown and smell nutty, I took it off the heat.

The batter tasted just like batter for chocolate chip cookies...with bacon. (I felt an obligation to try the batter, just to make sure it tasted ok to bake. I wouldn't want to serve my family an inferior product, after all!).  As I spooned out the batter on the cookie sheets, it was a little strange to see bacon pieces among the chocolate chips...but they came out of the oven smelling wonderful!

Morgan wouldn't taste a cookie until I did...I bravely bit in...waited for the taste to hit me...and the cookie tasted like...a chocolate chip cookie with bits of bacon in it. It wasn't horrible or disgusting, but wasn't anything fantastic either. I tried another cookie this morning (OK, two of them) just to see if "aging" overnight made a difference...nope.  I'm going to send some of the cookies to my niece; maybe she'll take them to school on Monday. I don't know if they'll make her "the-most-popular-girl-to-trade-lunches-with," or "the- girl-to-avoid-trading-lunches-with"...but I bet she'll try them.

My suggestion? Try the recipe but leave out the bacon. Tim was right--chocolate chips and bacon are both essential food served separately.

And I will look forward to the next unusual recipe Becky sends me!

Can you see the chopped up bacon?
The recipe calls for a whole cup!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What would YOU Like to See?

So far on this blog I've told you a little bit about myself and my book, Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom's Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family, and Her Home.

My prayer is to make this a blog that will encourage readers, especially readers who have children. My faith and my family are the most important things in my life, and I want to share those with you in a way that will help you in your faith and parenting walk.

What would you like to read about in this blog? I have a list of ideas :-) but I want to make sure I cover topics that are important to you! Although I have a child in college and one who will be a high school senior, I've loved all of their ages and stages (yes, I've really loved them all...although there are a few stages I wouldn't want to go back to!) and I've collected a lot of good ideas and "real life" advice from friends along the way--advice and ideas I'm happy to share, all the while encouraging you to do what you know is best for YOUR unique family. I plan to have guests write posts too--if you would like to write a guest post, please email me.

Please let me know what you'd like to read about--and don't be afraid to ask about touchy topics like difficult family members, frenemies, and trials of parenting.

Please leave your suggestions as a comment or e-mail me at

I'm so excited to get this blog started! I've wanted to do it for a long time and am very happy that the time is finally right.

God bless you and your families and I hope to hear from you soon!

Giving Birth to a Book

I’ve heard the process of writing and publishing a book compared to giving birth to a child…while I agree that they are both huge accomplishments, giving birth to Home is Where the Mom Is took a lot longer than giving birth to my children (and there is nothing that can compare to giving birth to my children—not even publishing a book!)!

It was so exciting to be writing a book! I had quite a few (rejected) ideas for magazine articles, so those were the start of the book. I used a file folder for each topic and put notes, articles, and even sticky notes that contained ideas pertinent to that topic, in the file folder.

Gradually it became obvious that Home is Where the Mom Is would have three main sections: Taking Care of Yourself, Taking Care of Others, and Organizing Your Life. Chapter titles and topics naturally evolved from there.

Throughout the whole process of writing and publishing I asked for God’s guidance; I knew I couldn’t write a book without His help and leading! There were times the words just flowed, and I know it was God guiding my thoughts and sentences—it couldn’t have been me! I asked God to guide me to write the words that would encourage the moms who would read them; I wanted them to feel the joy and peace I have in my faith.

I began by writing a few chapters. I worked to include Bible verses and Christian beliefs as appropriate; my faith is a major part of my life and I wanted Home is Where the Mom Is  to encourage readers to strengthen their faith and incorporate it in every part of their lives and their kids’ lives.

Eventually the title of the book, became clear; Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom’s Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family, and Her Home.

I wrote in longhand, on legal pads, and when I completed a chapter I typed it on the computer. Then I began editing. I actually enjoy editing; it’s a challenge to me to make ideas flow more smoothly and make my thoughts understood. I used a red pen to make corrections or edits, and most of the time on the first draft, by the time I was done editing,  there were more arrows and red marks than typed words! I knew I was done editing a chapter when my edits turned out to be the way I’d worded that sentence originally.

After I wrote a few chapters it was time to look for a publisher. I researched Christian publishers and found about 15 who I thought might be interested in Home is Where the Mom Is. I carefully prepared a proposal package that contained several sample chapters, an outline of the remaining chapters, and a marketing plan, and sent the package off to the appropriate editors.

I began to receive responses a few weeks later. I was encouraged to receive several letters expressing some interest in Home is Where the Mom Is, but discouraged when that sentence was followed by…our publishing schedule is full for the next two years…or …not right for us at this time.

I became discouraged at this point, and was tempted to just throw all of my files, my papers, and my research into a file box and hide it in the basement! I told my friends and family this and they strongly encouraged me not to give up. I prayed about it and felt God telling me not to give up, either. I prayed for his guidance as to what to do next.

I knew a little bit about self-publishing and at this time did a little more research, eventually feeling that this was the way to get Home is Where the Mom Is to moms. I focused on working on Home is Where the Mom Is every day; at times it was very difficult to do so, but eventually (after much more than nine months) it was completed! A few weeks later I received the very first copy of Home is Where the Mom Is in the mail…and after all that work and time it was almost as satisfying as holding a new baby in my arms. I was so happy that my dream of publishing had come true!

My next task was getting Home is Where the Mom Is into the hands of moms.

Future posts will include more about self-publishing!

Why I Wrote "Home is Where the Mom Is"

I joined MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) when Cody and Morgan were toddlers. During a typical MOPS meeting we’d drop off our kids (baby-sitting was provided by volunteers), eat breakfast—sitting down!--(a different group of MOPS moms prepared breakfast for every meeting), have a short devotional, speaker, craft time, and discussion. MOPS met one morning a month, and it was a morning that I looked forward to every month!

(For more about MOPS, and how to find a group near you, go to )

I quickly became friends with many of the moms, and I’m still friends with many of them…although now we are talking about high-school trials and empty nests rather than potty training and stranger anxiety. MOPS was the highlight of the month for many of us; the time of sharing our stories, our faith and our worries with other moms encouraged us and renewed our commitment to motherhood, no matter how little sleep we’d gotten the night before or what trials we were facing. We often marveled at how these few hours completely refreshed us—and we wondered why we didn’t take time for ourselves more often!

Of course there were serious talks, too. As young moms we were often uncertain about what was “normal” behavior (both our own and our kids’!) and how we should deal with sleep (or lack of sleep) issues, new siblings, and behavior. We would discuss the latest “research” and what the “experts” were saying…and then shared our “real life” solutions, which usually seemed the best solutions of all!

In the months before I joined MOPS, I had been sending query letters (outlining articles I wanted to write) to many parenting magazines. Unfortunately none of my ideas were right for the magazines, so I had lots of ideas…and nowhere to use them.

I don’t remember how I finally connected my talks with other moms at MOPS, my desire to write a book, and all of the article ideas I had, but one day I did…and the idea for Home is Where the Mom Is was born. I knew then that I wanted to write a book for moms, with several main themes; encouraging moms to take care of themselves, encouraging moms to consider “real life” advice as well as that from “experts,” and encouraging moms to nurture their own faith, and that of their families.

I told friends about my plans to write a book, and they were very enthusiastic about giving me ideas of topics to include. Many MOPS moms filled out questionnaires and gave their advice and “real life” ideas about a wide range of parenting issues; these “real life” ideas are included in Home is Where the Mom Is and are part of what makes it unique.

Click on the “Table of Contents” tab at the top of this page to see the comprehensive range of issues covered in Home is Where the Mom Is!

In the next post…Giving Birth to a Book

Monday, August 15, 2011

Beginning at the Beginning...A Little about my Family

Let’s begin at the beginning!

My (now) husband and I became high-school sweethearts after meeting in band in the early 1980’s. At the time I never dreamed that years later our children would attend the same school, even having some of the same teachers we did—and some of their teachers were friends we’d gone to school with!

While Tim went to college in Colorado, I attended nursing school in Nebraska. We got married the summer after I graduated. I worked as a nurse in various areas for several years, but was blessed to have a husband who agreed that for our family it was best that I stayed home with our kids. I’d always dreamed of being (in no particular order) a nurse, a writer, and a mom. I became a nurse, and then the mom to Cody, now 19 years old and a sophomore in college, and Morgan, now 17 and a senior in high school.

When Cody and Morgan were toddlers, I was asked to be on the steering committee for the first MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) group started in our area. Being a MOPS member was one of the best things I’ve ever done—it was so nice to get together with other moms every month for fellowship and sharing. As a fairly new mom I often wondered if other moms faced the same trials and troubles as I did, and it was a relief to find that I wasn’t alone in my experiences (with one exception; no one else ever admitted to dropping a coconut on her child’s head…more about that in another post).

While I was in MOPS I made friends that I know now will be life-long friends! I received encouragement and inspiration from other moms during those sometimes frustrating, trying days as the mother of a young child.

It was also during MOPS years that I started writing Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom’s Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family, and Her Home (I’ll tell you more about that process in another post, too!) fulfilling my dream of becoming a writer.

And now I’m at a different stage in life, with one child in college and the other headed there in just a year (I’m not thinking about that too much…while I’m happy she will be pursuing her dreams, it’s hard to believe my at-home mothering days are almost over).

I’ve found, however, that I’ve become friends with women who are in the beginning years of their mothering. It’s so fun to see their joy and excitement as they are with their children. I find myself wanting to encourage them and share my “wisdom”—but only if and when asked! I want to encourage other moms just as I was encouraged when I was a young(er) mom.

And of course I have friends who are also sending their kids off to college, or will be doing so shortly. As well as asking ourselves where the years went, we’re asking ourselves if we’ve taught our kids everything they need to know, what we should teach them before they go…and how our mothering role has changed.

When I started writing Home is Where the Mom Is, there was no such thing as blogging—at least not that I was aware of. I’m excited to use this blog to share encouragement with moms of younger children, and also to share the experiences of moms with older children. I plan to have guest posters, and look forward to hearing from readers about what issues you would like to see covered. Please let me know in the comments, or e-mail me at, what you would like to see in this blog!

I will leave you with several pictures of my family, with more to come!

Tim, Morgan, Cody, and me at graduation 2010

Morgan riding her horse, Maggie

My sister Deb, niece Logan, myself,
our mom, Morgan, and my sister Becky