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    The New Year Has Already Imploded

    A new year means new beginnings, and in that spirit I've started the Whole30 program. No longer can I enjoy the yumminess of dairy, sugar, and grains (read: no ice cream, cheese, or bread). This may sound sad, but discovering new recipes with vegetables I had rarely or never eaten has proven fun, tasty, and empowering. I mean, I can have a steak and potato on this diet! Designed to help people discover their food addictions and bad food habits, Whole30 is a kickstart, a one-month fast from certain comfort foods. Two weeks into this 30-day experiment, I've lost weight, sleep better, no longer need coffee every morning (though I do…

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    Responding to the South Carolina Flood

    The rains from Hurricane Joaquin wreaked catastrophic damage on South Carolina and its residents earlier this week. 771 trillion cubic inches of water have fallen within its borders. That translates to 12 trillion liters, or 21 trillion 20-ounce bottles such as the ones people drink from every day. That’s an epic amount of water to fall in about three days over just 32,000 square miles. The description “of biblical proportions” has been used by media to help viewers and readers get a sense of the scope of this disaster. But even as the floodwaters recede, the heartbreak continues and the danger increases. Homes destroyed, people killed, and dams on the…

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    When the “Sweet Spot” of Parenting Ends: 6 Tips for Surviving Your Kids’ Milestones

    For a couple of years I've enjoyed the so-called "sweet spot" of parenting:  each child between the age of 14 and 5, still at home  they are all mostly self-sufficient (no more diapers!) and helpful around the house their unique personalities are emerging and developing they like to talk to me! they get my jokes and even the youngest now (5) can instigate his own the oldest was old, and responsible, enough to babysit so mom and dad could go out on occasional dates (!!) Did I mention they were all still at home? Because that is about to change. Sometimes change thrills me, and sometimes I want to punch it in…

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    Manners Matter

    For the past four days, I've walked the streets of Washington, D.C., with a group of eighty-nine 8th graders and twenty other chaperones. We averaged 9 miles—walking—daily, from monument to museum to house of government and back again. Beautiful June weather also meant we encountered other tourists, which added to the crowds and waiting time. Most 13- and 14-year-olds I know aren't the most observant, patient, and thoughtful people. But that's what chaperones are for, right? To guide their behavior, to watch out for them in unfamiliar territory, to help them see the significance of their surroundings. To warn them not to hog the sidewalk so people can pass by in…

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    Summer, Songs, and Study

    It's only two years old, but Jen Hatmaker's blogpost "Worst End of School Year Mom Ever" is destined to become a classic, reposted annually by moms wading through papers, forms, homework, projects, and reports that still require their attention and signatures. Of my four children, only the 3rd grader continues to present her folder to me faithfully every Thursday to sign the three. separate. blanks. that require my name. For the love… I confess to being right there with Jen, begging for the school year to end so I can fall victoriously on the couch, arms raised in victory. "My job here is done!" Only, as moms everywhere know, even after…

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    Death, Where is Your Sting?

    As we wrap up Easter week, though still just beginning the 40-day Easter season, I'm stuck on the lyrics from one worship song: "Oh, Death, where is your sting?" (from Matt Maher's Christ is Risen) Actually, death does sting. I've just come from the funeral of a dear young man, the teenaged son of friends with whom my husband and I have shared life for all of our 18-year marriage. Last summer I said goodbye to three other friends and family members, two suddenly and one after a long illness.  I'm done with death, thank you very much.  But Maher uses the phrase rhetorically, as the victorious melody suggests. He quotes…

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    When the Holy Spirit Speaks

    Last Friday the Holy Spirit spoke to me. He probably speaks to me a lot, but this time I heard him. I had been mentally prepping for the upcoming Sunday school lesson that I was slated to teach in place of my absent husband. Ironically enough, our topic was—yes, you guessed it—the Holy Spirit. Our recently completed series on the Nicene Creed had spawned a secondary discussion on the Spirit, who gets short shrift in that ancient text. Our class had asked for more teaching and discussion on the mysterious third person of the Trinity. The previous week my husband had taken us through the Old Testament, showing how the…

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    Chores, Lent, and Discipline

    My mother used to say she had a hard time disciplining me. "Send you to your room? You would be thrilled to have an excuse to read books uninterrupted. And it seems somehow wrong to take away books from a kid…" I’ve always understood discipline in two basic lights, one negative and one positive. You either get disciplined, or you are disciplined. Both can result in positive change, but one is somewhat less painful than the other. Getting Disciplined Like my mother years ago, my husband and I now wrestle with creative and effective ways to discipline our four children. Timeouts, spankings, grounding, withholding electronics or books (yes, I went…

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    Giving Thanks, Out of Season?

    The drive to school takes about 11 minutes for us. Last year, Dad always tried to remember to pray before the kids piled out. This year I'm doing carpool so I decided to mix things up a little.  "What are you thankful for this morning?" Since by this time of day they are finally starting to wake up, they have enough brain power to think of something (usually).

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    Hope for Eternity

    Ecclesiastes 7:2 says, "It is better to go to a funeral than a feast. For death is the destiny of every person, and the living should take this to heart." This week I've been privileged (?) to experience this "better" event. And this verse kept coming to mind as we progressed from the death of our friend's father, to the planning of the service, to the reminiscing of the family, to the ceremony itself. I didn't know the man personally, but I know his son, my husband's friend. And my husband had known the man for most of his life. What made this experience more personal for me was watching…