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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Crying in LaGuardia

I’m pretty good about rolling with the punches, and I’ve had my share of mistakes at work. But this was different. Worse.

After landing in LaGuardia, I checked my email messages as we prepared to de-board the plane. A note from a good friend inquired, “How was that conference you spoke at today?”


“No, the conference is tomorrow.” I typed back. “I’ve just landed in New York.”

My friend responded back right away. “Um, you might want to check the brochure, because I think it was today.”

Radio silence.

Beads of sweat started rolling down my forehead as I headed to baggage claim, rummaging through my briefcase for the conference material – the same conference that was advertising Yours Truly as a key speaker. I finally found it and stopped short, looking at the date in disbelief. “No. No! NO! This can’t be right!” My heart dropped into my shoes. I had missed the conference by a day.

[To continue reading, join me at The High Calling]

Friday, December 2, 2011

Why Teach Sunday School?

A couple of years ago, I decided to teach Sunday school. I could
kill two birds with one stone and spend quality time with the kids on
the weekend while exerting Spiritual Mommy’s much-needed moral
authority. Maybe I could even reverse some of the brain injury from
all that TV.

Given my schedule during the week, my husband and most of my
friends thought I was downright crazy for taking on another weekend
responsibility. “Suz, just what you need, another thing to add to
your schedule. Haven’t you ever heard of the word ‘no’?”

Actually, since I became a mother, ‘no’ has almost evaporated
from my vocabulary. I reserve it for when I really need it—like when
I’m asked to make cupcakes for the bake sale, organize the parent
phone tree, or volunteer to be the lunch monitor during lunch
bunch. After all, I can’t do everything, right? But when it comes to the
spiritual development of my children, Devoted Mommy reminds me
that, unlike baking cookies or being a lunch monitor, I really can’t
delegate that one very easily.

To my pleasant surprise, Sunday school became my favorite hour
of the week. I wear casual clothes and comfortable shoes, sing silly
songs, play duck-duck-goose, and sit on the floor with the children
while teaching them that God is your friend, even when you can’t
see Him.

I remember my own Sunday school days vividly like they were yesterday.
I’ll never forget that poster in my classroom of Jesus knocking
on the door to your heart. Of course there’s no door handle because
the door can be opened only from the inside. It was during that
Sunday school class that I asked Jesus to come into my heart.
Some people say that young children can’t understand spiritual things, but
I beg to differ. Life has become much too complicated. Sometimes I
want to go back to the simple faith of my childhood, but I can’t. So I
do the next best thing. I teach Sunday School.

What’s your Sunday School experience?  

**excerpt from Chasing Superwoman, pp. 23-24

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Work Hard And Love What You Do

What do you want to be when you grow up?

In Chapters 7-9 of Work, Love, Pray Diane Paddison encourages young women to work hard, discover strengths, and play to passions. 

Of course, it can take time – even years – to find the right career path.  But no matter where we are in our professional journeys, we can ask ourselves some key questions:
  • Do I enjoy what I do?
  • What is the next step to advance my career goals?
  • How do I gain leverage in the workplace? 
Diane’s advice is smart, no-nonsense, and practical.  Start with what you enjoy.  Start by working hard.  Harder than the person in the cubicle next to you.  In Diane’s words, “no one is going to bend over backward to help a slacker.”

Does this mean you never leave the office early?  That you don’t have a life outside of work?  That you are married to your job?

Of course not.  Diane also encourages us to set healthy boundaries and strike the right balance – both at home and at work. 

I think back to my early years as an associate in a large law firm.  I didn’t have children, I had a supportive spouse, and I instantly loved the practice of law.  So I worked hard.  Probably a little too hard.  I rarely said no, jumped at new projects, and always tackled the opportunity to learn something new.

But I also learned to set boundaries.  I had dinner with my husband almost every night, even if it was late.  I always took my full vacation.  And I decided to embrace technology and abandon “face time.”  (I realize “face time” isn’t a big deal anymore in most workplaces, but prior to the 24/7 technology revolution, hard work was often judged by burning the midnight oil in the office.) So, if a senior attorney or client needed to reach me after hours, I made sure they knew how to find me – and that I’d respond promptly. 

By the time I had my first child, I had built some flexibility into my work schedule.  Sure, I still struggled with the whole concept of balance, but by working hard at a job I enjoyed, establishing credibility, and setting boundaries (in addition to a heavy dose of grace!) I was able thrive at work and at home.

When we “play to our strengths” as Diane encourages, work is an opportunity to live out our God-given talents – not merely an attempt to survive. 

Do you love what you do?  What’s the next step in your career path?  How will you work hard to earn respect and leverage?

[Please join us over at 4Word to continue the discussion]

Monday, November 28, 2011

Why Holiday Feasting Is A Spiritual Act

Credit: Free photos from

Are you still feeling guilty about over-indulging at the Thanksgiving table?  And what about the cookies, pie, and chocolates that invade your home, office, and social activities this time of year?

If you’re like me, the holiday feasting has just begun.

Why fight it?  Holiday guilt is for wimps. 

Which is why I’m going to manage the feasting.  Physically, mentally, and spiritually

Will you join me in embracing the spiritual aspect of holiday feasting?  Simply put, God loves a good meal.  

I started thinking about this before Thanksgiving.  Pastor Eric set the stage by taking a closer look at Jesus’ infamous miracle – the Feeding of the 5,000.  Did you know that this is the only miracle of Jesus to appear in all four Gospels?

I’ve heard this story dozens of times.  And I’ve always focused on Jesus, the boy with the loaves and fish, the disciples, and the crowd. 

I’ve never really focused on the food.  Nor have I focused on the paramount role of food in the story of salvation.
  • The feeding of the 5,000 looks back to the Exodus.  When Jesus directs the crowd to sit down in groups of 50, we flash back to the Israelites in the wilderness.  The similarities – God providing bread and meat to a hungry crowd – is nothing short of divine.  When the Israelites are without food in the wilderness, God provides both manna and quail.  Could it be that Jesus smiles, knowing He will repeat this miracle a few thousand years later?
  • The feeding of the 5,000 looks forward to the Eucharist.  Jesus isn’t just filling empty stomachs.  He is giving of himself – the bread of life.  In remembering his death, we celebrate the ultimate feast.  His body.  His blood.  Poured out on us. While Jesus takes comfort in feeding a hungry crowd, He tells his disciples of a greater feast.  “Whoever comes to me will never go hungry.”
Something about food gives us spiritual understanding.  Is it the smell?  The texture?  The satisfaction?

Something about God loves to feed us.  Which means your holiday feasting is a spiritual act.  

Let's get over the guilt.  When you raise your glass this Christmas season, will you join me in looking back to the Exodus and forward to the Eucharist?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Are You Thankful For Work?

During Thanksgiving, we tend to thank God for the same things each year -- family, faith, health, relationships, food, shelter, income, material provisions.

I got to thinking, When is the last time we thanked God for work?

It’s usually not at the top of my list.  Yes, I’ve thanked God for a paycheck, for the security of my work.  But what about thanking God for the ability to work?  Even the privilege to work?

We can learn much from the unemployed. 

Like my friend I’ll call Lisa.  Lisa is a single executive who’s been out of work for 5 years.  Sure, she misses a paycheck – she’s gotten by on savings, unemployment, selling things she doesn’t need, and part-time jobs.
But you know what she really misses? 


The ability to contribute.  The ability to create.  The ability to care and nurture.

It makes perfect sense.  God is a worker.  We are created in his image.  Of course Lisa misses her work. 

Just last week, Lisa sent me a card and a gift.  I knew she didn’t have extra money, so I quickly opened the card to see what was going on.

Lisa didn’t just find a job.  She found work.  Good work. 

And Lisa was thankful.  So much that she wanted to give -- she went out of her way to thank me for my professional and personal support, even before she received her first paycheck. 

Thanks to Lisa, this week I’m asking myself a new question:  When’s the last time I thanked God for work?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

There’s Just Something About A Boy

Mothers of boys, what are the moments you treasure most?  Do you ever wish you could stop time and keep your son little forever?

You can’t.

But you can treasure each moment.
  • I wept when my son was born. 
  • I cried (hard!) at his first haircut. 
  • I trembled with fear his first day of kindergarten.
  • I cheered with pride when he slid into home plate.
  • No, I’m not yet ready for a teenager.
  • Don’t even talk to me about his first date!
Each stage comes with its own hopes, dreams, and fears.  And each stage is beautifully remembered and illustrated in There’s Just Something About A Boy, by Jenny Lee Sulpizio.

In this newly-released children’s book, Jenny Lee Sulpizio captures the hearts and minds of every mother who looks forward to watching her son grow, all the while wishing she could freeze time and keep him little forever.  From conception until adulthood, there’s something magical about watching a son get older – and reading about it along the way.  

There’s Just Something About A Boy is the perfect gift for new moms; it’s also a keepsake book for mothers and sons for years to come.  In fact, I’d love to send you a copy.  Just leave me a comment before Monday to enter a drawing!

Remember, he can’t stay little forever.

I asked the LORD to give me this boy, and he has granted my request. 1 Samuel 1:27 (NLT)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What's Your Story?

Every woman has a story. 

We’ve all gotten to this place in life – the journey to womanhood – with a few lessons under our belts (or should I say under our skirts!). Some of us had ideal childhoods and later learned that the “real world” is cruel and unforgiving. Others of us came to adulthood with some serious baggage – baggage that we’d like to forget about and we certainly don’t want to talk about.

But we all have one thing in common. We’re all saying to ourselves, “No matter how I got here, I need to know where to go next!”

In Work, Love, Pray, Diane Paddison starts off by telling her story. Diane is a farm girl from Oregon who grew up learning the values of hard work and determination. Her days leading peach-picking crews finally paid off when she got into Harvard Business School and landed her first dream job!

I learned from Diane that it’s important to know where you came from. In my case, my hard-working middle-class parents and four older sisters shaped my core values of faith, work and family. (And being the youngest of five siblings explains why I’m always the last to clean up!)

But it’s also important to know where you’re going. Diane encourages young women to think strategically about the future, pursue advanced degrees, and rise above our circumstances – even if we didn’t have perfect upbringings.

One of my favorite stories in the book is about a woman named Erin Botsford. Erin lost her father at a young age, grew up poor and was even charged with manslaughter in an accident that wasn’t her fault.  Even after she paid off her legal fees and worked her way out of debt, she lost every penny to a fraudulent investor! Talk about bad luck. Yet Erin is now a successful mom, wife and business owner.  She doesn’t complain and takes full responsibility for her attitude.

In Diane’s words, “Whether your past is a fairy tale or a horror story, only you can determine how it will play out – as a tragedy, or as a feel-good story with a happy ending.”

So, what’s your story?  What role did faith or spirituality play in your upbringing?  How did you get to this place in life, and where do you plan to go next?

[Some amazing women have already started to share their stories.  Please join the online discussion and share your story over at 4Word.]

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Christian Working Moms: Are You Too Quick To Say NO?

Are you too busy for a Bible study?

Let me guess, most of the Bible studies at your church meet during the day – which is terribly inconvenient.  There are a few that meet at night, but nighttime is often when your children need you the most.  And, if you work outside the home, who wants to leave her kids again after she hasn’t seen them all day?

Not me. 

I recently admitted I’m a Bible Study Drop Out.  Even though I tried my best to join a women’s Bible study this year, I just couldn’t make it work.  So I reluctantly quit. 

But that’s not the end of the story.

I received several passionate comments from readers who encouraged me not to give up. 

“Why did you believe you needed the study in the first place?” 

“Did you just want to check off a box to make you feel better about your spiritual life, or is there a deeper need you are ignoring?”

“Why did you really drop out?” 

“Maybe you need a virtual study.”

“You can’t always put your spiritual needs dead last! Is that really the best thing for your family?”

Well said!

You got me thinking.  And reevaluating.

Yes, there are seasons in life – and I bit off more than I could chew by joining an evening study in the middle of soccer season – but this doesn’t mean I need to throw the towel in altogether, does it?

Sometimes we need to prioritize a bit better.

Sometimes we need to say NO.

But sometimes we need to say YES.

I’m happy to say I’ve had several offers to join Bible studies since announcing I'm a drop out.  And I’ve even started attending a Bible study during a lunch break.  No, I haven't figured it out yet.  But I'm re-thinking both NO and YES.

Do you find yourself saying NO too quickly?  If so, have you given yourself the freedom to reevaluate and say YES?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Does TV Feed Your Children Swear Words?

Remote Control

My husband, Doug, and then seven-year-old Nick were watching The Bad News Bears. I was appalled. The language was filthy. These snotty-nosed kids and their recalcitrant coach had no respect for authority or each other, and Nick would soon be talking like a potty mouth if we continued to let this trash into our living room. Suddenly, Devoted Mommy transformed into Fundamentalist Mommy.

“I don’t want to hear that language in our house ever again, and I want that filthy show turned off.” Doug and Nick just looked at me.

I continued, “TV is straight from the pit of hell and I can’t sit by and watch you fill your brain with this garbage.”

Doug may be incorrigible, but I still have to exercise some moral authority over my children. I learned that from my own mother. We had knock-down, dragout fights over Three’s Company and Charlie’s Angels. I would sneak downstairs and watch these shows with my older sisters over my mother’s deep disapproval. (Which was worse, Jack and Chrissy living in sin, or Farrah Fawcett showing her cleavage? I never got an answer, I just knew they were both bad.)

What kind of mother would I be if I let The Bad News Bears ruin Nick’s innocence and lead him down a path of destruction?

So later that night, after I put the girls to bed, I told Nick that we needed to talk. We sat in his bed before prayers, as we do every night, and I explained to him that some things on TV are wrong, and the Bad News Bears really shouldn’t say bad words.

“Did you hear bad words in the movie today?”

Nick responded, “I’m not sure. I know stupid is a bad word.”

Nick is a smart kid, so he saw this as an opportunity to ask me, point-blank, what the other bad words were that had caused me so much concern. Now I was stuck. Fundamentalist Mommy was going to have to feed her own son swear words. So we talked about how “hell” is a bad word, and why you wouldn’t want to tell someone to “go to hell,” because that’s where Satan lives.

Nick asked, “Is it still okay to say ‘for heaven’s sake’?”

“Yes,” I said. “That’s still okay.”

I was thankful he still had some innocence left. And I didn’t have the heart to tell him the other bad words in the show. We’ll save that for another day.

How do you deal with the impact of TV on your children?  Is TV a necessary evil, or just plain evil? Or am I overreacting?

**excerpt from Chasing Superwoman, pp. 21-23

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Why I'm Leading The Work, Love, Pray Online Book Club

I’m thrilled to partner with 4Word and host the first Work, Love, Pray online book club.  Care to join me?

Great, let’s get started.  To begin, we’ll answer a few questions.

What are we doing?

We’re going to read – and discuss – Diane Paddison’s newly released book, Work, Love, Pray.  Over at 4Word's Blog.  Every Tuesday for the next six weeks.

For those of you how haven’t read the book, it’s a much-needed resource for young professional Christian women and Working Christian Moms who are trying to navigate their careers, family, and faith.  (See my full review.)

Who is participating in the book club?

Easy answer:  You!

And you don’t have to be a Christian or even a young woman (ages 21-40) to join. (Unfortunately, I’m not in that group anymore….)

Work, Love, Pray is for women of all ages, dads, husbands, and even single guys. 

Gals, are you looking for a safe place to discuss your careers, dreams, and relationships?

Older gals, do you need some help mentoring the young women in your life?

Guys, do you want to understand young women better? 

You’ve all come to the right place!  

Why the book club?

If you haven’t noticed, young professional women aren’t exactly flooding our churches.  In fact, many of them are staying away from church just because they think Christians are out of touch with their lives.  And in many cases, we don’t know what to do with a generation of women who need Jesus more than ever.

It breaks my heart to see young women pulling away from their faith communities.  I want to do something about it, don’t you?  That’s one of the reasons I want to get the word out about 4Word and Work, Love, Pray -- and I hope you’ll join me. 

How does this work?

We’ll be meeting every Tuesday at 4Word to discuss Work, Love, Pray for the next six weeks.  This will be our schedule.

Nov 15:  Chapters 1-3
Nov 22:  Chapters 4-6
Nov 29:  Chapters 7-9
Dec 6:  Chapters 10-12
Dec 13:  Chapters 13-15
Dec 20:  Chapters 16-18

You can leave comments on the 4Word Blog. Don’t worry if you fall behind.  Just come back, and we promise it will be fun!  And we’ll finish up just in time for Christmas!

Any questions?

Bring a friend, and we’ll see you at 4Word on Tuesday, Nov 15!

[For those of you who left me a comment here and on the 4Word Blog last week, please send your address to so I can send you a copy of Chasing Superwoman!]

Monday, November 7, 2011

Passionate About Your Work?

How many of you “zone out” while the flight attendant gives safety instructions?  I admit, it’s my usual practice.  As soon at the attendant says, “put your mask on first, and then proceed to put on the child’s mask” I start thinking to myself blah blah blah.

But last week – for the first time in a long time – I actually paid attention.

No, it wasn’t by choice.  It wasn’t because I have good judgment.  Let’s just say the flight attendant – a hyped up, bald man in his mid-50’s –MADE me and everyone else on the plane pay attention. 

Here’s how he did it. 

Passion 101.

“Excuse me, Miss, eyes on me!  Sir, I’m going to need you to put your paper down.  You in the blue jacket, can you please stop talking to your neighbor?”

I almost laughed out loud.  And I could hear snickers throughout the plane.  Who did this guy think he was, and why was he so anal about routine flight instructions?

He went on:

“I run a safe flight.  Period.  There are some simple safety tips you need to know if we have to use them.  Look, I know some of you never pay attention to this stuff, but today you’re on my watch.  Today, your safety is my responsibility.”

The snickering stopped.  The plane became silent.  (Yes, even the babies stopped whining for a few minutes.) 

His passion was obvious.  His tone was one of concern.  And he had a captive audience.

This guy actually cares about his job.  He cares about us.  And if I ever get stuck in an emergency, I want him leading the way!

For the next five minutes, I learned more about flight safety than I’ve learned in every prior flight – combined!  And he didn’t stop at safety.  He went on to check on passenger comfort and even injected some light humor.

“Is the temperature ok for you?  Too hot or too cold?  Does anyone need a bottled water before takeoff?  Everyone know how to work the reading lights?  For those of you who want to sleep, just let me know and I’ll be happy to wake you up when we arrive at our destination.  At no extra charge!”

The flight took off without a hitch, and he proceeded to work about his duties with little fanfare.  I continued to watch him carefully.  He wasn’t intrusive or overbearing, just pleasant and diligent. 

After the flight, I couldn’t help myself.  I had to ask him.  “Sir, I couldn’t help but noticing.  Are you always this passionate about your work?”

He gave me a big smile and replied, “Attitude is EVERYTHING!”

The Apostle Paul describes it like this:

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.  (Col 3:23-24)

I wonder, what would our daily work look like – I mean really look like – if we were passionate about our work?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Strong, Believable Characters: What I Liked About Yesterday’s Tomorrow

Are you tired of weak, unrealistic characters who put you to sleep?  Me too. 

Looking for some fresh fiction and strong characters?  Then check out Yesterday’s Tomorrow by talented, first-time author Catherine West.

Yesterday’s Tomorrow is an action-packed love story set in Vietnam.  I read it quickly, probably because I loved the two main characters:  Kristen Taylor and Luke Maddox.

Kristen is a brilliant journalist who is chasing the memory of her late father, trying to break the biggest story of her life.  She’s independent, stubborn, and beautiful.  The envy of every women.

Luke is a talented and mysterious photographer.  He’s the guy we love to hate.  And he’s the guy we hate to love.  Let’s just say he’s a little rough around the edges and easy on the eyes. 

Of course, Kristen and Luke fall in love.  The plot thickens, and they have to decide what’s really important in life.  Relationships? Career? Personal safety?

Here’s another reason I liked this book.  The characters are believable – even human.  Even though this book is written by a Christian author, the faith-based center doesn’t over power the story.  Instead, the characters are allowed to learn through trial and error, experiencing faith lessons through time and circumstances (kind of like real life!).

Sound like something you’d like to read?  Just leave me a comment before Monday, and I’ll put you in a drawing for a free copy.

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Christian Working Moms: Join Me Today At 4Word

You know from my review last week that I’m really excited about a new book for young professional women called Work, Love, Pray.

And you also know that I’m supporting 4Word – a national nonprofit designed to connect, lead and support young professional Christian women to live out their God-given talents!

Today, I’m joining 4Word over at their blog.  Check out my interview about my own journey as a Christian working mom and my book Chasing Superwoman.

Leave me a comment today here and over at 4Word and I’ll send you a copy of Chasing Superwoman!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

What Prayer And Boot Camp Have In Common

Boot camp is where I meet with other women at an unthinkable hour in the morning.  We pay too much money to some guy called a “trainer” who tortures us each week with new equipment and drills.  Last week I almost passed out. 

Since I’ve been blogging about prayer this month, I got to thinking.  Prayer is a lot like boot camp.

Don’t let anyone tell you that prayer isn’t hard work.  And don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s going to be easy – that you’re going to feel “spiritual” or even motivated to set aside regular time to pray.

It doesn’t work that way. 

Like boot camp, prayer tends to be inconvenient.  Would you rather sleep in or hit the snooze button at 5:00 a.m.?  Would you rather talk on your cell phone on your commute to work or maintain discipline in silence?  Would you rather eat a hearty lunch or go hungry to pray?

It’s not easy.  And it’s not supposed to be either.

When Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, his tears were like drops of blood.  Which means he must have been praying pretty hard.  And when he asked his disciples to keep watch and pray, he kept finding them asleep!  See – they wanted to hit the snooze button too!

Some of you are moaning right now.  Prayer is hard work, thanks for that.  Brilliant. Now you really have me motivated.

Wait.  Before you give up, there’s good news.  God doesn’t expect us to do it alone.  He gives us the best trainer possible– the Holy Spirit!  And he also gives us some equipment and friends along the way.

Do you think I would attend boot camp at a horrible hour, but for the other women who are expecting me to be there?  Of course not.  This is one of the reasons I suggest a partner or a Prayer Maven to hold us accountable.  I also like to pull out a variety of tools and “equipment.”  In this season of life, I’m often brain dead when I pray, so I use a prayer list, journal, or even a script.  (For parents, I highly recommend The Power of A Praying Parent.)
Would I submit myself to the pain of boot camp unless I thought it would produce results?  Of course not.  When the woman next to me is yelling, “bikinis at 40!” I remember it’s all for a reason. 

So too with prayer.

We need to keep the end goal in mind.  The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.  That’s a promise from our Trainer.  Which means prayer actually works. 
Do you find that prayer is hard work?  What kind of equipment do you use?   And how do you focus on the task without losing sight of the goal?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Why I’m A Bible Study “Drop Out”

I haven’t been part of a women’s Bible study in years.  And I really miss it.  Which is why I told my husband, “This year, things are going to be different.  I’m going to make it a priority.  I want to do this.  I need to do this.”

So I signed up for a Tuesday night study and faithfully attended the first week.  I even had to sign a “commitment” sheet and declared I would do my best to achieve regular attendance.

The second week, I was out of town on business.

The third week, I looked at the evening calendar and quickly realized I would have to hire a babysitter or clone myself in order to get three kids to three different evening events. 

So I said to my husband,  “I think I’m going to drop out of Bible study, what do you think?”

Part of me wanted him to tell me I had to quit.  That signing up for another evening event is stupid.  That hiring a babysitter to run the kids around in the evenings is a foolish use of our resources.  And that being with the kids right now is the better use of my time.

But he didn’t.

He responded, “Do whatever you think is best.”  (It’s called reverse psychology -- and it gets me every time.)

Great, I actually have to make this decision myself.  I can’t blame him for holding me back.

I didn’t want to drop out.  I’m not a quitter, but I just can’t justify the evenings away from my family during this busy season of motherhood.  Can anyone relate?

Maybe next year. 

Does this season of life have you making some hard personal choices?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Work, Love, Pray: Practical Wisdom For Young Professional Christian Women


 “If I was really serving God, I wouldn’t be spending my days in high heels and a business suit. I’d find something more spiritual to do – like serving my family or volunteering at my church.  Right?”

Can you relate to this statement?  Even if you can’t, unfortunately, many Christian women can.  Most of us know a young Christian woman who is struggling to figure out how she will balance her career, family, and faith.  And she might even feel marginalized in the church, just because she works outside the home. 

Here’s my answer.  Give her a copy of Work, Love, Pray.

This newly released book by executive Diane Paddison helps working women answer the question:  Can I be the woman God intended – even the wife and mother God intended – while striving to excel in my career?

Paddison not only tackles this question, she answers it with a resounding “yes”! 

Here’s what I liked about the book.  It encourages women to stop whining and start taking action – like seeking out mentors and making smart career choices.

From dual-career families to negotiating with your boss, Paddison hits the hot buttons facing women in the workplace.  And despite her enormous success in business, she isn’t preachy or condescending.  She’s quick to admit her failures and recognizes that God places each of us in unique circumstances.

Here’s another thing I loved about the book.  Work, Love, Pray offers dozens of examples of the successes, failures, and lessons learned from other women on the journey.  Including women who have “failed” in business. Women who have been abandoned by a spouse or have unexpectedly lost a family member. Women who have lost it “all” – yet have persevered in faith to rise above their circumstances to live out their God-given talents.

The only thing I didn’t like about this book?

It didn’t exist 20 years ago.  I could have really used the advice!  In fact, Paddison has founded 4Word, a national nonprofit designed to connect, lead, and support young professional Christian women.  Check out the 4Word website here.

Who do you know who can benefit from Work, Love, Pray?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Say No To Cell Phones And Yes To Prayer!

Mobile phones are sucking the life right out of us.  Present company included.  (Yeah, I’m an addict.)

From distracted drivers to texting during family meals and business meetings, we’re zoned out and checked out way too often.

Amber Binkertation is putting her mobile phone in the trunk whenever she drives this week!

Heather Sunseri was rightfully annoyed when iPhone cameras recently dominated a wedding ceremony.

I was recently stunned by texting during a funeral.

We don’t even try to hide it.   And we need help.  We need an intervention.  Which is why – for this week – I’m going to say “no” to my cell phone and yes to prayer.

No, I’m not getting rid of my mobile phone.  I legitimately need it for my job and family.  But I don’t need to be talking while I’m driving.  I don’t need to be walking around airports with my earpiece.  And I don’t need to be texting during breakfast.  (Note to self:  I am really annoying when I walk around with my earpiece.)

Here’s where prayer fits in.  I’m going to take all that unnecessary “phone time” this week and pray instead.  Which means I’ll have a few extra hours of prayer in my schedule.

Care to join me?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Blessings From A One-Star Review

I love writing.  And I love writing about writing.  Which is why I’m posting today over at the WordServe Water Cooler.

The topic?  How I benefited from a one-star review.  No kidding.  Click here and find out the three reasons criticism can make you strong.

Have some extra time this weekend?  Check out a few of my favorite posts this week:

Have a great weekend all!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Why I Changed My Name

Why did I change the name of my blog?  Not to mention I’ve changed my Twitter name from @LawyerMommy to @SusanDiMickele.  Is Lawyer Mommy dead?  Done?  Looking for a new identity?

It’s a good question.  And some of you have asked. 

As you may know, I’m pretty new in this writing business.  I’m a first-time author, and I’ve been blogging for less than two years.  So I try to pay attention to the experts in the business, like my agent Rachelle Gardner and social media guru Kristen Lamb, who advise us authors to use our published NAME when we write.  (For example, check out Kristen’s post this week on Jane Friedman’s blog.)

But just because I’m told to do something doesn’t mean I’m going to do it.  So I’ve thought about this “branding issue” for myself and I’ve concluded that it makes sense to use my full name as a writer for two main reasons:  1)  My name isn’t going to change; and 2) My name is who I am.

My Name Isn’t Going to Change

I’ve been married for almost 20 years.  I took my husband’s name shortly before law school and never looked back.  A couple of years ago, I thought about running for political office and the powers that be told me my Maiden name, Moore, would be more “ballot friendly.”  My husband agreed (plus, being a private person, he didn’t want his name smeared in a campaign).

“Suz, you really should have kept your maiden name.”

Gee honey, it’s a little late for that, don’t you think!

The fact of the matter is, I’m not changing my name.  I’m Susan DiMickele (pronounced “De-Michael”).  Period.

It sounds terribly simple, but it’s true.  Lots of things in life change – our careers, relationships, goals – but our names generally stick with us.

Plus, I’m terribly indecisive.  Case in point.  In less than two years, I’ve changed the name of my blog two times.  (Sorry, I’m not a branding genius. Remember I said I was new at this?)

My Name Is Who I Am

My name is no secret.  I’m easy to find.  I have a public profile as a lawyer and a public profile as an author.  Same name.  Same person.  (Not to mention I’ve already published Chasing Superwoman under Susan DiMickele.) 

If I was really clever, I would have published under my Maiden name (or under a trendy pen name), but I’m not that smart.  I tend to let it all hang out there.  Like it or not.  It’s me.  My name is who I am.

And I thank God some things in life don’t change!

Have you ever wrestled with the use of your name for a creative or artistic endeavor?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

How To Make Time For a Prayer Partner!

“As much as I would love to pray with a partner, I need to be realistic.  I don’t have enough time to pray by myself.  How the heck am I going to arrange getting together with someone else?"

Excuses, excuses.  Yes, I’ve heard them all.  I’ve used them all myself.

By now, you should be convinced you need a Prayer Maven.  And even if you don’t have a Maven in mind, you know that God will use two or three who are gathered together.

So, your heart is saying you need a prayer partner, but your head is saying you don’t have time.

My answer?

1)  We need to be creative; and
2)  It’s going to be inconvenient for someone.

We need to be creative.

I used to think I needed a special prayer room and an uninterrupted hour in my day to pray with someone else.

Note to self:  It will never happen!

Being creative means looking at our schedules and finding a few holes.  Getting up early.  Staying up late.  Praying on the treadmill; in the coffee shop; on the sidelines at the soccer game.

Now, if we are going to pray with partners, it should be at a regular time and place.  My Prayer Maven and I meet every Wednesday morning, by telephone, during my morning commute.  It’s usually only 30-45 minutes.  And it works!

It’s going to be inconvenient for someone.

Did I mention that my Prayer Maven gets up at 5:00 a.m. to pray with me?  She’s on West Coast time, and, yes, she’d rather be sleeping.  But instead she makes the sacrifice. (This is why I highly recommend praying with a Maven.  Notice that she is the one who is inconvenienced in this relationship!)

The bottom line is that prayer is hard work – something we’ll talk more about next week.  But it’s worth it. 

How will you make time for a prayer partner? 

Are you praying for that Prayer Maven?

Friday, October 14, 2011

What Makes Your Day?

A couple of weeks ago, my cell phone died an unexpected death and I asked, What Ruins Your Day?  Well, since then, I’ve had a bit of an attitude adjustment, and I’d like to ask a different question.

What makes your day? 

Is it the big things?  The little things?  The expected?  The unexpected?

Here’s an unexpected dose of grace that made my Friday.

To the gratest mom in the world!

From you dater Anna.

Dear mom,

I love you with my holl hart! Anyway, I’m so ecited that its Friyday, and I get to spend time with you!  When Nicks gone at his sleepover, and were here, we should think of something fun! Like having girls night out, or watch a movie.  Something like that!



What makes your day?  Just as important, what can we do today to make somebody else’s day? 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Does Prayer Work At Work?

Do you forget to pray at work?  I have to admit, I often doubt that God cares about conference calls and billable hours.  Sometimes, I think prayer doesn’t even matter in the office.  Right?


Ok, I’ll have to admit. I usually pray at work when I am really desperate.  Like when someone is driving me crazy and I think I’m going to jump off a cliff.  Like when I know I can’t meet a deadline unless time freezes.  Like when my skirt rips on the way to court. 

Can anyone relate?

A couple of years ago, I decided to ask God. Do you really care about this situation at the office, God, because I don’t feel like you do?  And I don’t see a way around it.  But I’m going to trust and pray.  By the way, I’m only giving you 30 days.  I can’t take it any longer than that!

Here’s what happened.  I committed not to complain and instead PRAY for 30 days about a difficult situation at work.

At first, I wasn’t sure I could do it.  I love to complain.  I love to be the martyr.  And if I prayed about it, maybe God would ask me to change.  I wasn’t sure I could live with that.

But when you’re really desperate, you sometimes get over yourself.

The result? 

In less than 30 days, I received an unexpected, unsolicited apology note from a colleague who had really hurt me.  God provided something I would have never asked for or even imagined.  God blew me away.  And I was just asking him to help me survive.

God, why don’t I ask you to intervene at work more often?

Are you struggling at work?  Try the 30-day prayer challenge.  And PLEASE let me know what happens, ok?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Why You Need A Prayer Maven

Are you in a prayer rut? Maybe you don’t have the time. You lack motivation. You have no energy.

But you really want to pray.  Right?  You really need to pray.

In addition to a kick in the pants and a healthy dose of the Holy Spirit, may I make suggestion?  You might just need a prayer partner.  Heck, you don’t just need a prayer partner.  You need a Prayer Maven!

You may not be familiar with this term, so I’ll do my best to explain.  A Maven is an expert in a particular field who seeks to pass knowledge on to others.  (For a great discussion of Mavens generally, check out Kristen Lamb’s Blog here.) 

Now, back to a Prayer Maven. Naturally, a Prayer Maven is an expert on prayer.  She’s passionate about prayer. She prays, and she just doesn’t go through the motions. She believes in prayer.  But she doesn’t stop there.  She seeks to pass this knowledge on to other people.  She doesn’t want to keep the joy of prayer to herself.

I am blessed to know a couple of Prayer Mavens, including my own dear mother.  But for purposes of this post (and the related posts that will follow), I’m going to tell you about my sister.  My sister Amy is a textbook Maven.

How do you spot a Maven?

Here are a few clues.  When Amy finds a bargain, she doesn’t keep it to herself.  She calls everyone she knows. In fact, she’ll even buy you the last pair of shoes that are on sale, just in case you want them. (She’ll gladly take them back later; she genuinely doesn’t want you to miss out.)  Amy does the same thing when it comes to food and health choices.  Once she found some luney holistic doctor and she sent me every article he ever wrote, completely unsolicited.  She’s always looking out for your best interest.

Get the point?

Ok, now translate the above to a Prayer Maven.  Amy is crazy about prayer.  Which means she doesn’t just want to pray for you, she wants to pray with you.  She’s not one of those prayer partners who gets together just to talk about herself or vent or complain.  She’s going to limit the fluff talk and help you focus on prayer.  Which makes the perfect recipe for a prayer partner.  And since God promises that where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them, you’re in business!

Do you know a Prayer Maven?  Maybe it’s time to ask God to put one in your life!

And don’t worry, you don’t need a Prayer Maven to get started.  God will honor the prayers of a regular Joe or Jane when we come together in faith.

[We’ll keep talking about prayer partners later this month.]

Friday, October 7, 2011

Good News For Coffee Addicts!

I love to finish out the week with good news, don’t you?  And this little nugget of information is music to my ears.  Coffee is actually good for you!

In case you haven’t heard, a new study from the Harvard School of Public Health shows that caffeine-drinking coffee-guzzling women have a lower risk of depression.

No, I’m not making this up!

Here are some highlights from the study:
  • Women who drink two to three cups of coffee per day are 15% less likely to develop depression compared to those who drink a maximum of one cup of per week.
  • Women who drink at least four cups per day have a 20% lower risk of depression than the “one cup per week” group.
In other words, it’s better to drink four cups a day than one cup a week!

I know, I’m getting carried away.  But can you blame me?  After all, it’s Friday.

Have you had your four cups today?

[I was going to blog about prayer today, but I got side tracked.  I know.  Excuses, excuses.  So I’m hitting prayer hard next week.  Will you join me?  You can bring your coffee!]

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Need A Radical Sabbatical?

If you’re a working mom (or dad) you may have noticed that “The Schedule” is slightly out of control.  That’s putting it mildly, isn’t it?  If your schedule is like mine, it’s a freight train without brakes.

The train has left the station and there’s no stopping it now.


Maybe not.  Just wait a minute.  There’s someone out there who has activated the emergency brake.  Yes, I’m hear to tell you that it’s possible (even beneficial) to step back and take a radical sabbatical.

Meet Joanne Kraft.

This brave (slightly crazy?) working mother of four decided to pull the plug for an entire year on all extra-curricular activities.  And she lived through it, became a better mother and wife, and decided to write a book about it:  Just Too Busy – Taking Your Family On A Radical Sabbatical.

I know what you’re thinking.  I’m not that radical.  I could never do it.  My family would hate me.  Our lives revolve around The Schedule.

Don’t worry, I was thinking the same thing.  In fact, I’m not here to suggest that every family should drop out of activities for a year.  And Joanne Kraft doesn’t suggest that either.  Your radical sabbatical will probably look different than mine or hers.

In my case, after reading Just Too Busy, my family took a much-needed 2-week vacation with no TV and internet.  And let me tell you, that was a big step for my ever-loving media addicts (hubby included!).  For me, it’s about taking small steps.  And Just Too Busy gave me the inspiration I needed, plus plenty of ideas to chew on.

I don’t want to give the book away because I want you to buy it on Amazon.  What I will say is that Just Too Busy game me some serious perspective.  In fact, I’d love to give you my copy – just leave me a comment to enter a drawing.

Do you need some perspective?  Do you feel like the train has left the station and you can’t find the emergency brake?  Are you ready for a radical sabbatical?  What are you waiting for?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Too Busy To Pray? I’m Not Buying It!

“I just can’t find time to pray.  I’m just too busy!”

Does this sound familiar?

Well, I’m not buying it!

Don’t get me wrong, I understand we’re all busy.  We’re overworked, undervalued, and downright exhausted.  Our kids are running us around from band practice to soccer fields. We’re already getting up too early. Staying up too late.

And if you’re like me, you’ve given God every excuse in the book. 

I need the extra sleep.

I’ll pray more when my schedule changes.

I'll do it tomorrow.

I’m too tired.

You already know what I’m thinking God, why do I have to tell you?

I pray when I tuck my kids in at night.  Doesn’t that “count”?

Fortunately, God isn’t keeping score.  Which frankly makes me want to pray all the more.  But that’s not the only reason I want to pray.  You see, I’m convinced that the earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

Which is why this month, I want to talk about prayer.  And I don’t just want to talk about it, I want to do something about it.  Better yet, I want you to join me. 

I’m tired of the same old excuses.  Aren’t you?

So, what’s your excuse when it comes to prayer?  Are you too busy?  Too tired?  Or maybe you just need a fresh start?

[Join me next Monday when I talk about the power of a Prayer Maven!]

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Church Doesn’t Like Me!

Did you ever feel like you don’t fit in the church?  Like you can’t find anything in common with the people around you?  Maybe you’ve tried, but you just can’t seem to connect.

You’re not alone.

An old friend I’ll call “Kate” stopped over last weekend.  I could tell she was upset.  Things at home were going well, her practice was booming, and she looked great.  So, what was the problem?

“No one in my church likes me!” she exclaimed.  “I just don’t fit in.”

Kate is a brilliant physician.  Like me, she has three young kids and a husband who frequently holds down the fort.  Like me, she probably works too much.  And like me, she’s had a hard time figuring out her place in the church. 

Kate doesn’t have time for weekly Bible studies.  She’s not involved in after-school activities.  She doesn’t help with carpool or put together prayer chains.  And she feels like her peers in the church have written her off – that she doesn’t have anything to contribute.

But Kate has much to contribute.

She spearheads cutting-edge medical research.  She interacts with the public and influences families regarding their health care choices.  She loves Jesus, and she’s raising her children to do the same.  She just needs some help in the process.  She needs people who will come along side her, accept her for who she is, and welcome her into community.

Don’t give up on the church Kate!  The church needs you.  And you need the church.

Maybe you know a Kate.  Maybe you’re like Kate. 

Have you ever felt out of place in the church?   You may think you have nothing to contribute when, in fact, you’re needed.  Desperately.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Are You Ready For A One-Star Review?

It’s no fun getting a one-star review on Amazon.  What’s worse?  Having your 10-year-old son read it in front of you.
When Nick looked up, he was fighting the tears.  Trying to stay strong.  Trying to act like it didn’t matter.
Then he gave his own critique.
“You know, Mom, some of this is probably true.  But, you know what really upsets me?  She didn’t criticize your book.  She criticized you.  And she doesn’t even know you.”
[To continue reading, join me here at the Wordserve Water Cooler.]

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I’m Not The Room Parent!

It’s Working Mommy Wednesday.  The school year is in full swing.  And I can barely keep up.  Parent homework.  Forms. Packing lunches. Juggling schedules. School fundraisers. Snack duty. More forms. 

Not to mention my kids’ multiple after-school activities.  It’s simply exhausting.

Remember when we were kids – and we actually did our own homework?  Today, it’s impossible for parents to keep up. 

I know, I know.  It’s good for parents to be involved.  But let’s think about life when we were kids.
  • My parents never had to check my homework every night or sign a “homework log.”  I had to do it myself. 
  • My parents never got involved in school fundraisers.  I went door to door and sold candy bars (ok, maybe they bought a few bars from me). 
  • My parents didn’t drop me off in front of the school or walk me to my classroom.  I took the bus.  
  • My parents never volunteered in my classroom.  (No, my mom wasn’t the room mother.)
And I wasn’t neglected a bit.  I had more love at home than I could have asked for.  But school was school.  And home was home.

What happened to those lines?

Parents, are you a bit overwhelmed by the demands of school?  Do you think our kids would be more independent if we were less involved?  Or am I just over-reacting a bit?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Worried About What People Think?

Sometimes, I worry too much what people think.

As a working mom, I worry that other moms will think I'm too career-oriented.  That I'm not focused enough on my family.

As a lawyer, I worry that if I talk too much about my kids (and constantly showcase my darling pictures and stories) business-minded folks won't think I'm a top-notch lawyer.  Instead, they'll associate me with "mommy" brain.

Case in point, I've recently wondered whether driving my mommy mobile is a career limiting gesture.  My wagon is scratched, worn, and dented (I’ve never pretended to be a skilled driver), but it has also survived the stains, pains, and drains of three small children. 

Which has recently caused me some embarassment.

I was visiting a high-profile client at his office.  After the meeting he asked, “Hey, I hope it isn’t a bother, but I was hoping you could give me a ride to the dealer.”

My heart sank.

Did I mention that I also use my car as a second office?  Since the passenger side is usually empty, I always have papers and trash sitting next to me.  And I always spill my coffee, which is why there are multiple stains in the front seat and carpet.

“Of course you can have a ride," I replied. 

He got into the front seat, and I just couldn’t find the right words.

Please excuse the stains, I can assure you they are old and don’t contain live bacteria. 

Despite the dents on the passengers’ side, I’ve never hit another car – just my garage and inanimate objects.

I’m really a much better lawyer than driver.

I’m due for a new car, but I just haven’t make up my mind.  There are too many options.

Nothing sounded quite right.

And I don’t know what bothered me more – the fact that he was riding in my mommy mobile, or the fact that I was so worried about it. 

Do you ever get caught up worrying about what people think?