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Friday, July 30, 2010

Chasing Superwoman Give-Away At Graceful

There are lots of reasons to check out Michelle DeRusha's blog, Graceful.   Michelle's writing is insightful, authentic, and spiritual.  And she even posts her own lovely photographs (none of that clip art stuff I get off the internet)!  I've been reading Graceful for over six months, and I'm hooked.

In addition, check out the Chasing Superwoman give-away on Michelle's blog today!  Michelle was one of my first friends in "blogging land" and she's supported me through this book launch every step of the way. (Rumor has it, she's going to teach me how to use Twitter next!)

Thanks, Michelle, for your writing and your friendship.   Have a good weekend all, and happy reading!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What Are We Working For?

Guitar in lounge chair on beach

What are we really working for? 

More stuff?  A bigger house?  A college savings fund?

While none of these things are bad in and of themselves (and we all need to earn a living), I for one don’t want to get to the end of my career and say to myself, what did I really accomplish?

Just today, I had lunch with a respected friend and colleague.  He told me that he hit a turning point at 40.  He was working hard and having much success as a lawyer.  He was on vacation with his family, sitting on a cruise ship, and it finally hit him.  Something was missing.

What am I working for?  Is this it?

So he went home and got out an old guitar he hadn’t played in 20 years.  Within a year, he joined a band, bought a new guitar, and has been writing songs (and playing gigs) ever since.  And his musical talents have made him an even better lawyer.

I love this story for a couple of reasons. 

First, it reminds me that we all have a need to be creative – to use our God-given talents and contribute to something outside of ourselves, just for the joy of the experience.

As important, some of us have lost our sense of creativity all together.  We’ve become one-dimensional.  We work hard, take care of our families, and “get by” week after week.  But that’s it.

While work in and of itself can be a creative expression (something I’ll blog about another day), some of us need to reach outside of work to fill that creative void.  It doesn't necessarily mean that we have to quit our jobs, change our livestyles, or move across the country.  Sometimes, it might be as simple as pulling out that old guitar in the closet.

How do you best express yourself?  For me, my creative adventure (aka mid-life crisis) has been writing a book, but you might be gifted in art, music, sports, drama, scrapbooking, or cooking – to name a few creative outlets.

Don’t you ever wonder if there’s something more?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Working Moms v. Stay At Home – I Need Your Input!

Mother on Computer Next to Baby

When I wrote Chasing Superwoman, I really didn’t intend to start a debate between stay-at-home moms and working moms.  But in some circles, that’s exactly what happened. 

Given that there are already a host of Christian books directed to stay-at-home mothers, I had intended to provide encouragement (and a bit of humor) to moms who work outside the home --- moms who feel like they don’t have much of a spiritual voice inside the church.  But the issue of who has it harder – stay-at-home moms or working moms – seems to have taken center stage.

The good news?  It started a dialogue.  So much that I need your help.  I mean really need your help. 

I’ve been asked to write an article in HomeLife magazine about how the church can better bridge the gap between stay-at-home moms and working moms.  No easy task!  Sure, I have my ideas about the subject, but I could really use your input. 

Please send me your candid (and brilliant) comments!  I have about a month to write the article.  If you’d rather email your comments confidentially, send them to

Yes, guys are welcome to comment too!

Friday, July 23, 2010

My Big Fat Cheap Wedding

Remember the days when it was acceptable just to have fun at a wedding?  When you weren’t trying to impress everyone?  When everything didn’t have to be perfect?  At least not in our town.  We rented church halls, booked DJ’s and local bands, and served family-style all-you-can-eat buffets.

My sister Janie’s wedding video is the classic 80’s experience.  The bridesmaids wore mauve taffeta dresses and baby’s breath in our big hair; the groomsman wore tuxedos with ruffles and black patent leather shoes.  We danced to cheesy music all night, made soul trains, and did the “dollar dance.”

Times have changed.

I was just talking to a friend about the cost of her daughter’s wedding.  She had a great analogy.  She said, “It’s like going to a car dealership, buying the top of the line Mercedes, then driving it into the lake!”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for celebrating special occasions and making memories, but somewhere along the way we’ve allowed the wedding celebration in Western Culture to become more important than the marriage itself.

Take Janie (and her husband George) for example.  Sure, we all had a great time at her wedding, but we’re even happier that she and George celebrate 26 years of marriage this month.  (And they still like to throw parties and dance to cheesy music!)

Besides, rather than going broke on bells and whistles that no one will remember in five years, why not celebrate the marriage first and just have fun?

Have a good weekend!

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  Matt 6:20

(Disclaimer:  When my girls get married in 20 years, please don’t use this post against me!)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wednesday Woman: Martha Of Bethany

Tired in the Kitchen

Martha is a worker bee.  She’s the kind of person who always has too much to do.  Yet she keeps taking on more and more.  Somebody has to get it done!

In the New Testament, Martha of Bethany (and her sister Mary) are two of Jesus’ best friends.  And when Jesus visits their home, the text refers to it as Martha’s home, which is fairly remarkable.   Martha appears to be a property owner – an unusual position for a First-Century woman.  How did she become the head of her household?  We really don’t know.  She may have been a widow, or she may have been caring for younger siblings.  But we do know this – at the end of the day, Martha is in charge.  And she seems to carry the weight of the world on her shoulders.

If we brought Martha in a time capsule to the Twenty-First Century, I think she’d fit right in.  On any given day, most of us feel like if we don’t get it done, nobody will do it!  And, yes, like Martha, we are carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders. 

Last Sunday night, I collapsed after a long weekend of laundry, carpool, cooking, packing, unpacking, hosting guests, and driving my son to church camp.  My 7-year-old daughter, Anna, looked at me and said,

“Mom, are you glad you finally get to rest?  After all, you have to do everything!”

A girl after my own heart, I thought to myself.

All of a sudden, I could relate to Martha. I do have to do everything, don’t I? I wanted to give Anna a gold star for getting it right.  At least someone notices my effort!

Like Martha, we all crave validation.  In fact, when Martha was running around in circles trying to “do it all” it really irritated her that Jesus didn’t give her a pity party.  He didn’t even order her sister Mary to help.  Instead, he basically told Martha to lighten up.  

But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details.  There is only one thing worth being concerned about.”  Luke 10:41-42 (NLT) (Emphasis mine)

We know from the New Testament that Martha continued to follow Jesus, even after he told her to get over herself.  She probably continued to work hard to keep her household running, but more importantly, she learned that the one thing -- her relationship with God -- was more important than trying to do and be everything. 

Have you taken hold of the one thing?  Or are you still focused on everything else?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Just Give Me A Sign, God

Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights. Caused by high-speed particles ejected from the Sun, they are most commonly observed during periods of maximum sunspots. From The Beauty of the Heavens by Charles F Blount (London, 1845). Coloured lithograph.

Do you ever feel like you just need a sign from God?  If so, you’re not alone.

In Jesus’ day, the religious leaders were always demanding a sign from heaven.  Something to “validate” Jesus’ words. 

This didn’t resonate with Jesus very well. 

[Jesus] sighed deeply and said, "Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it."  Mark 8:12

Ouch!  When Jesus “sighs deeply”, something must be wrong.

To put Mark 8 in context, you have to read the prior chapters.  Jesus had just healed the sick, walked on water, and fed thousands and thousands of people.  He had given plenty of “signs”!  Yet, the religious leaders still missed it.  They probably wanted a political sign – or a magic show that would display worldly power and authority.  Healing the sick and feeding hungry people probably isn’t what they had in mind.

Over 2000 years later, and some things never change.  I hear myself telling God, “If you’d just do this one thing, I’ll know it’s you speaking.”  Or, worse yet, I tell God that I’m entitled to a sign before I choose to demonstrate faith.

Yet the signs are all around me.  Just because the sign I want isn’t the sign I get, it doesn’t mean that God isn’t speaking.  Sometimes, we just choose to wear earplugs.  Or the noise around us is so incredibly loud that, even when God does speak, we still can’t hear very well.   

For example, yesterday morning in church, I was singing a song that I've sang dozens and dozens of times.  But somehow, I had totally missed the words before.  And I heard them for the very first time.  They pierced my soul, and I found myself silently weeping.  How could I have missed it before?  God was speaking directly to my heart, yet I've been too busy asking him for a "sign."

Have you recently had one of those ah ha moments?  Instead of asking for a sign, I suggest we look around us, take out the earplugs, and turn down the volume.  We may just have the sign we've been looking for.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Why I’m Not Blogging Every Day

Paper in typewriter listing Blog

When I started blogging last December, I figured I’d do it five days a week.  As much as I love to write, blogging every day would be a luxury and a breeze.  Right?

Well, for sure it’s a luxury.  I’ve come to love blogging – and the people I’ve met through blogging – more than I’d ever imagine.  I wasn’t supposed to get hooked.  But I did.

Which brings me to my next point.  Blogging five days a week takes time.  Some weeks, it’s more time than I have!

Usually, I blog in the evenings.  I kid you not, it’s not unusual for me to put my kids to bed while I’m drafting content, reading comments, or commenting on other blogs (laptop in hand)!  I’ve had to ask myself, “Is this any way for a mother to spend the summer with her children?”

So, reluctantly, I’m going to cut back a bit.  At least for the summer.  I’m kicking and screaming, but even I know when I’ve reached my limit.   

My plan?  I’m still going to blog three days a week, probably Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  (And, now that I’m savvy to the blogging world, I’ve noticed that many dedicated bloggers have adopted this same schedule.)

Yes, we all make time for things that are important.  And, for me, blogging is just one of them.

Have you had to adjust your priorities lately?  And how do you make time for the people you love and the God who constantly redeems us, busy schedules and all?


Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.  - Colossians 3:23 NLT

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wednesday Woman: St. Therese

Woman touching gerbera flowers in pot, close-up of hands

Thank God we’re all different.  St. Therese helps me appreciate this well-known yet often forgotten reality.
In her short life of some 24 years, St. Therese admits struggling with the comparison game, wondering “why the good Lord has preferences….”

Then, God shows her --through none other than the flowers of nature -- to appreciate our differences.  She writes:

I have come to realize, that the radiance of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not take away the fragrance of the little violet or the delightful simplicity of the daisy.

St. Therese’s words are indeed fragrant, especially for women (and especially for mothers!) who often feel inferior to one another.

Some of you are brilliant roses.  You are bold and beautiful.  You have a strong aroma and a zeal for life that few can match!  You’re the kind of woman that everyone wants to invite to a party because it won’t be complete without you.

Others of you are white lilies.  You are kind and pure.  You are always serving other people and often put others before yourself.  You’re the kind of woman that throws a party for your friends – although you’re often content to be in the background, allowing the roses to be the center of attention!

And still others are simple daisies.  You are steadfast and loyal.  You are the kind of woman who, because of your common sense and simplicity, is an example to all of us -- a rock for others in time of need.  What would we do without you?

St. Therese concludes it best:

[P]erfection consists in being what God wants us to be.

I don’t necessarily want to be a rose, a lily, or a daisy.  Instead, I want to be the woman God created –the fragrant flower that will blossom when the season is right.

Aren’t you glad we’re all different?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Freedom From What People Think

Statue of The Thinker, Rodin, Paris, France, low angle view

Why does it matter so much – what other people think?  Sure, we’re all people pleasers by nature, but there are times in life when we just have to step up and do the right thing.  Because it’s the right thing.  Because it’s our calling.

I realize it’s not really “in” to talk about a calling in today’s culture.  People start thinking you’re crazy.  Or worse, they start thinking that you think you’re better than everyone else.  That you have it all figured out.
That’s not what I’m talking about.

In The Cloister Walk, Kathleen Norris writes about her own calling as a writer:

[T]o answer the call as a prophet, or a poet for that matter, is to reject the authority of credentials, of human validation of any kind, accepting only the authority of the call itself.

I have a long way to go!  I don’t know about you, but I’m not at a point where I can completely forgo human validation.  Yet Norris’ words make a powerful point.  Are my actions based on what I know is right?  On what I know I’m called to do?

Or, are my actions based on the ever-moving target of pleasing other people?


Do you struggle with worrying about what other people think?  If so, please join me in praying for the strength to live out your calling.

Dear God, please free us from what other people think.  Help us to accept the authority of Your call as validation.  And give us the courage to live out our God-given indentities.  Even if other people think we're nuts.

Friday, July 9, 2010

It’s Just A Sprain (Not!)

Arm in a sling

Last week, my 9-year-old Nick came home early from a sleepover at 10:00 p.m., holding his arm in pain.  I could tell the way he was acting that something was really wrong.

My first instinct was to rush him to the hospital.  My husband, Doug, didn’t exactly agree.

“He’ll be fine.  He just needs to straighten his arm out.  It’s not broken.”

Nick continued  to moan in pain.  Doug took hold of his arm and gently tried to straighten it.  Nick started to cry, so I intervened.

“I really think we should take him to the hospital.”


“Yes, tonight.  It could be broken.”

Doug continued to insist everything was “fine” and I continued to insist something was really wrong.  My maternal instincts flipped into high gear, and Nick and I rushed to the emergency room.

Yep, a broken arm.

Thank God for over-protective mothers!  Sometimes, we just need to follow our gut.  No, my maternal instincts aren’t always right, but when it comes to my children, I’m usually dead on.  Can anyone relate?

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Cathy Career Or Susie Stay-At-Home?

Sishouette Of Scales With Business People On One Side And Childr

Cathy Career is selfish. She’s careful not to have more than two children because they might interfere with her success. She doesn’t have time to bake cookies or pack her children nutritious lunches, so her family is always eating junk and picking up fast food. She doesn’t have time to volunteer at church (or get involved in a church for that matter).

She’s intimidated by stay-at-home moms because she assumes they think she’s a bad mother -- that she’s putting herself or her job before her family. After all, what’s more important, your family or a paycheck? Her identity rests on what she does outside the home.

Susie Stay-At-Home is obsessed with her children. She takes her kids to “Mommy and Me” classes and spends her spare time making homemade jam and elaborate family scrapbooks. She never buys any new clothes, spends most of her time cooking and cleaning, and she barely gets out of the house -- except when she is volunteering at church or school.

She’s intimidated by career women because she assumes they think she doesn’t have ambition -- or worse, that she doesn’t have a brain just because she’s with her children all day. Her identity rests on what she does inside the home.

Do these stereotypes sound familiar? While I’ve never met Cathy Career or Susie Stay-At-Home, it didn’t take much imagination on my part to write about these two fictional women. Yet, in reality, these stereotypes hold little value. I would go one step further and argue that these stereotypes even hurt us, especially inside the church.

Why drive an artificial wedge between women of faith who desperately need one another?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tuesday Tip: Seize The Moment

Coldstream Guards on Parade.

Some people are content to sit and watch.  Not my 4-year-old Abby.  She wants to be in on the action.

This year, during our annual 4th of July parade, she joined in.  I’m not talking about clapping her hands, singing at the top of her lungs, or catching handfuls of candy.  She did that too.

What am I talking about?  Well, when the opportunity presented itself, she seized the moment.  She hopped on a float and left her seat on the sidelines.  In a matter of seconds, she went from watching the show to performing in the show.  She went from sitting on the sidelines to playing in the game.

I love how Abby takes life by storm.  Sure, she’s a handful, but she teaches me to live every breath to its fullest.  To be ready to jump in at a moment’s notice.

The evening before the parade, she said to me, “Mom, can I be in the parade this year?  Margaret’s going to be in the parade.”

It wasn’t in the plans, so I said no.  “Maybe next year.” 

But she was determined.  I’m going to be in that parade tomorrow.  I’m going to join Margaret.

So, when Margaret passed us by, Abby yelled, waved, and jumped in.  She had to think quickly and act quickly.  She didn’t have time to change her mind or look back.  She had to be ready.

Some of us need to be more like Abby.  We need to be ready.  We need to jump in.  We need to make up our minds in advance, so when the opportunity presents itself, we can take action. 

I’ve also learned that there are seasons of life.  There are times when we have to wait and watch the parade.  There are other seasons when we have to focus on getting ready.  And yes, there are windows of opportunity when it’s time to jump in. 

What about you?  Are you watching the parade?  Are you getting read to join in?  Or, have you jumped in with both feet?

Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not.  2 Timothy 4:2b (NLT)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Let Freedom Ring!

Sparklers and American flag
In Upper Arlington, Ohio, the 4th of July parade is an annual event.  We’re not just talking about any parade.  We’re talking about a two-hour spectacular show of music, bands, floats, old cars, veterans, cheerleaders, ball players, biker riders, and “other.”

The “other” category is usually my favorite.   You never know what to expect.  For example, this year, we had an Ohio State Buckeye ambulance.  The injured victim?  A Michigan Wolverine.

Some of the “other” participants included grown men in long wigs and cheerleading skirts, a dance band, and a group of ladies who –when lined up side by side – proudly formed the American flag.

Why does the “other” factor excite me so much?

I actually gave some thought to this question during the parade.  After all, isn’t it rather odd that I’m inspired by grown men in wigs doing cheerleading routines?

Yes, I do like the unexpected.  But I think it’s even more than that.  The “other” factor teaches us that you can’t put freedom in a box.  In fact, the “other” factor is perhaps the best display of American freedom.
I love living in a community where the whole town stops to celebrate freedom for a day -- a community where zany adults spend late nights and long weekends making floats and learning dance routines, so that children can ride along, cheer, and celebrate our nation's independence.

Let freedom ring!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Is Freedom Really Free?

Bald eagle hunting over water
Is freedom really free?  Of course not.  And I’m not talking about freedom from tyranny (although much has been written about that subject).

I’m talking about free time.

I’m taking the day off work today.  In fact, I won’t be working for the next three days.  In other words, it’s a free weekend.

So, do I have lots of free time? 

Not exactly.  Here’s a short list of some of the things I plan to do (not necessarily in order).

Bible school. Swim lessons. Pool. Make food for party. Host party. Clean up from party. Bull horns at 7:00 a.m. Host breakfast. Dress kids in red, white, and blue.  Walk to parade. Watch parade. More swimming. Hang out with kids. Cook. Clean. Shop. Gather with friends. Church. Cookout. Exercise. Drive kids around. Read. Write. Stake out seats for fireworks. Walk to fireworks. Watch fireworks. Sleep.

Here’s to freedom!  It doesn’t sound like I’ll have a lot of free time.  But I wouldn’t trade my weekend for anything. 

Have a great weekend!  How will you enjoy your freedom?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Putting June In Perspective

Writing in Daily Organizer

Can you believe July 1 is here?  Is it just me, or did June fly by?

June 2010 was a busy month.  And I wouldn’t trade the last 30 days for anything. 

I’m one of those people who needs to slow down sometimes and remember.

To catch my breath.

To pray.

To make a record, before it passes me by.

So, here are 10 highlights I don’t want to forget. 

1.  Launching Chasing Superwoman.  I thought June 1 would never come.  Then, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  No, I wasn’t ready!  But I’m not sure I’d ever be truly ready.

2.  Guest-blogging at Graceful and Rants and Ramblings.  I’ve gotten to guest blog at some of my favorite sites.  (Yeah, I posted at Graceful in May, but it set the stage for June!)

3.  Launching the on-line book club at Light The World.  Ann Wurster and her team at Light The World get all the credit for this!  We launch discussion the week of July 11 (there's still time to register).

4.  Publishing an article with InterVarsity’s The Well.  My neighbor, Kelly Monroe, (author of Finding God at Harvard) hooked me up with editor Marcia Bosscher.  I’m thrilled to publish an article with this amazing group of women.

5.  Meeting radio friends across the US.  Thanks to my friends at B&B Media Group, I’ve done radio interviews in Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Texas, New Mexico, and New York.  And there are more to come!

6.  TV Interview with Mike Jackson.  This was perhaps the most unnerving moment of the month.  Thanks much to Mike Jackson and the team at NBC Channel 4 for all of their support. 

7.  Interview with Laura Groves, at Outnumbered MomLaura is a kindred spirit – a working mom and mother of four boys!  Stay tuned for her book, I’m Outnumbered, launching in August (available for pre-order on Amazon).

8.  Newspaper article and interview with the Canton Repository.  My home-town paper, the Canton Repository, gave a great review to Chasing Superwoman in it’s Sunday book reviews.

9.  Book signing at Borders.  Doug and the kids (along with family and friends) helped me launch my first book-signing at Borders in Canton.  (We’ll do another signing at Borders in Columbus, on July 11.)

10. My first Amazon review.  It’s always fun – and rewarding – to receive positive feedback.  I was more than thrilled when my first Amazon review was posted at 5 stars!  

Overall, June 2010 has been a month to remember.

Ok, I lied!  I couldn’t limit it to 10.  The last 30 days would not be complete without the relationships -- the new friends I’ve met and the old friends (and family) who have encouraged me every step of the way. 

Thanks for a great month – I wouldn’t want to share it with anyone else!

Is anyone else tired?  Yeah, I’d still do it all over again.