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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

If the Shoes Don't Fit, They Might Not Be Your Shoes

I have huge feet.
There I said it.
I'm 5'9" tall and wear a size 11 shoe. I've always been so embarrassed by the size of my feet. When I was little I was in ballet class (they were attempting to teach me some grace) and they had to place a special order for my ballet slippers because of course they did not carry my size.
I desperately wanted to be petite, but couldn't even come close. I was a knobby-kneed Olive Oil.

The school put on a play about the circus and I was cast as the "tall lady." I didn't realize circus' put tall people in the same categorie as lions, bears and bearded ladies, apparently they did.

Did I mention my teeth? You know how sharks have several rows of teeth and they're all over the place? It was worse than that.

I wished that I could be someone else, just for a day...a small "normal" sized person with cute hair and a pretty smile.

I just wanted to wear my friend's shoes, but heaven knows, they would not have fit. Even today I don't have a girlfriend that I could exchange shoes with. If I tried, I'd look ridiculous and be very uncomfortable. I'd walk funny and be miserable by the end of the day. The only shoes that work for me are my own.

Just like walking around in shoes that don't fit, I've tried walking around in someone else's calling, and guess what? It doesn't fit me. I see someone doing something that I think looks really exciting and I assume that I could step right into those shoes and do it too, only to find out that it's uncomfortable, and awkward and doesn't fit me at all. And at the end of the day, I'm pretty miserable.

What about you? Are you trying to walk around in someone else's shoes?

God has uniquely called each one of us. We were created by Him, to have relationship with Him and reflect His love in this world.

Ephesians 2:10
For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
It's taken me many years to come to the place of being comfortable in my own skin. Not only physically but also my identity. Who am I....where am I going...what is my calling??

Identity is a complex thing. Am I what I do? Am I the hats I wear? Oh I hope not! They are what I do, but they don't define who I am.

My bio says "wife, mom, speaker, writer and coffee drinker who loves the Lord." The things that I do help others figure out who I might be...but truly, who I am is not a bunch of titles- thank God! Because what happens is, when life changes and the titles are gone (and I guarantee, titles will change or disappear) we're left struggling to "find ourselves."

I've been there. It's a lonely scary place to be.

It forced me to search for who I am. In my searching I realized that I will never find my identity in a title or position, no matter how noble the cause. But now I'm content to know that I am first His daughter, the rest we can figure out together. I will walk the road God has in front of me and let Him handle the "why" and "how" of things.

Her shoes are not your shoes.
So, if the shoes you are wearing don't fit, they might not be your shoes. Slide your feet and whole self into Him. Start with a simple prayer, just have a conversation with God. He promises that when we seek Him we will find Him. Start "finding yourself" by settling into His love for you. Dare to believe that you are completely accepted and loved by Him and go from your own shoes.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The REAL Moms Series ~ Raising Strong Willed Kids

If you're stopping by because you heard me on STAR 105.7...

Today I thought we’d give a little bit of encouragement to moms with strong willed children.

Raising strong willed kids can be exhausting!

Strong willed kids are natural born leaders, they like to be a part of the decision making process, so when it's not a major issue I encourage you to give them choices.

When we want them to do something like cleaning their room or doing homework it helps to lay out options for our kids.

Strong willed kids thrive on choices as opposed to direct orders.

Obviously this would not apply to things like playing in traffic. I would not let them have that option. That would make you a bad mom. Not a real mom.
Now that that’s established…*of course I'm teasing*

When we want them to clean their room but they would rather go play outside, we give them a choice; either clean their room and go play outside or sit in a chair, in the house-having no fun.

OR, when we want them to do homework but they would rather play video games, we tell them that they can choose: homework and then video games or if you don’t do your homework there will be no video games and you’ll sit in time out.

I know it's simple and actually a little bit sneaky on our part but we're letting them feel like they have a sense of control over the situation.
It gives them a sense that they are part of the decision which is something that a strong willed child thrives on. They like options. We give them choice A which is what we would like them to choose and then choice B which is whatever we decide would be NO FUN for them.
Always emphasizing that the choice is theirs.
Bottom line, we’re training them to make wise choices.

It is very important with strong willed children that you stay in your position of authority with them, all children want safe boundaries-even when it seems that want to take over- they really want you to be in charge.

A couple other points:
Don’t fight with your child.
Be consistent.
Be fair.
Set clear boundaries.
Choose your battles wisely.
Let calmer heads prevail.

And most important, let me say that strong willed kids are awesome! They are leaders, they will be mountain movers but we need to help them funnel that drive in the right direction and teaching them to make wise choices will help that happen.

It can be really frustrating at times but it’s so worth it. Stay consistent. You’re a REAL mom, you can do this!

I'd love to hear your input on strong willed kids, any tips you want to share with us?

Listen for more tips about strong willed kids and other Mom topics on the REAL Moms of West Michigan on STAR 105.7!
The "Real Moms of West Michigan" airs Tuesday mornings at 7:05 AM EST.

If you are not in the West Michigan area, you can listen online at iHeart Radio:
STAR 105.7

And visit Tommy and Brook at:

Tommy and Brook's Page
STAR 105.7 on Facebook
@TommyAndBrook on Twitter

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Life is a Series of Moments

I am thankful.
My family and friends give me reason to smile every day.

Even when I look back at the events in my life that brought intense pain, I see how they have served to mold me into the person I am. I was not always thankful for those times but I was thankful in them because I believed that God loved me and even if I couldn't see His purposes at the time, I trusted in that love.

There were desperate days that I clung to the hem of His garment begging for things to change...and in His grace they didn't. But that past pain has now brought depth and feeling to areas in my life that could have remained numb. It's brought deep growth when complacentcy could have kept me shallow.

Most of all, it's made me thankful. Embracing the good times with family and cherishing my sweet friends that I share laughter and tears with. Holding moments of love tightly in my heart and turning from the clutches of bitter unforgiveness and offense.

Life is a series of moments.

Don't let the moments get lost in the momentum.

And laugh. Laugh a lot.

This is an entry from a my journal when Lauren was 5 years still makes me laugh, I hope it brings a smile to your face today too.

Hearing loud music coming from her bedroom, I crack the door to hear Toby Keith blaring and see this child siting on the bed with her motorcycle helmet on surrounded by our two large dogs while "talking" on her cell phone. She looks up at me and says without a second's hesitation..."oh good you can be the Grandma."
I hope your Thanksgiving has many wonderful moments.

Much love,

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Teaching Our Kids to Be Thankful

Yesterday I stopped into Meijer to grab my Thanksgiving dinner. The turkey was pardoned at our house this year, so I picked up ham, potatoes, corn and all the other traditional goodies to make our meal.
With a full cart I wheeled into the fastest lane. Yes, I pretend to live in a parallel universe where the lines are short and fast the week of Thanksgiving.

There were two people in front of me. A frazzled women with an overflowing cart full of groceries and clamoring children was at the register while an older man who had the face and the belly of a Grandpa stood between us. He looked remarkably like Santa Clause but he wore a black World War II baseball-style cap and there were no reindeer in sight.

The woman was a coupon-er. I am not a coupon-er but have the utmost respect for them. Unless they are in front of me in line. Then I have to wait while they finagle argue sort out their coupons with the cashier who is not conviced that they have all the correct sizes for the coupons in hand.

While I wait, I impatiently happily check my phone and catch up on the tweets I've missed. As the minutes tick by I search for anything written by Ann Voskamp because surely that will calm my nerves, quiet my heart and probably bring me to tears in front of God and everyone in Meijer.

But the sweet World War II veteran in front of me obviously doesn't have an iphone or Ann Voskamp's twitter name. He also seems to be shifting back and forth on his legs and his face shows the ache of many years and maybe a war or two.

He quietly slips out of the lane leaving his two items on the belt. He shuffles his feet to the other side of the store and settles on a hard wooden bench. He looks tired but relieved to be sitting. I see a slow breath leave his chest as his head looks down to the floor.

The coupon woman noticed that he left and apologetically pleaded her case with the cashier and I. She didn't mean to be taking so long, why had he left?...where did he go?...was he angry?...she was embarrassed and even more frazzled. I told her that he had walked to the bench and surely just needed to take a break from standing.

As she walked away the cashier reached to take the mans items off the belt but I asked that she leave them. I would take care of it.

I paid for the grocerys and walked towards the door to the man on the bench. I reached over and handed him his bag and he burst forth with explanation that his legs had grown tired while standing there and he couldn't do it any longer. I nodded that I understood. He then reached for his wallet and tried to pay me. I shook my head no and thanked him for his service. He struggled to pull money out of his pocket but I was already walking through the door and I repeated my thankfulness for his service to our country as I slipped out of the store.

I know it was a small gesture, but I can't tell you how wonderful my heart felt to thank that man for his service to our country and it occured to me that being thankful is not something that we do just to bless others, it is a gift we give to ourselves.

A thankful heart is peaceful.
A thankful heart is not anxious or wanting the best seat at the table.
A thankful heart brings humility and it respects others.
When we are thankful, we esteems others as greater than ourselves and that is a beautiful way to live.

I want to live in that beauty and I want my children to also.

As parents we have the opportunity to train our children to be thankful. The best way we can do this is to live with a thankful heart. Children are smart, they see how we live and they live that way too.

I mentioned a couple practical ways to teach our kids to be thankful when I spoke on Star 105.7 this week on our Real Moms of West Michigan segment, they are:

  • Teach them to say thank you. And not just a half-hearted mumbled looking at the ground “thank you.” But we can teach them to look in to the persons eyes and clearly say thank you.
I had to work on this with my 7 yr old because someone would say to her, 'oh you look so pretty' and she would just smile and nod. As if to say- yes I AM darling.

No, I taught her, you need to look them in the eye and say thank you.

  • Another thing that is helpful is to ask your kids at bedtime, what are you thankful for today? If they don’t know…teach them the things to be thankful for:
“That we were kept safe every time drove in the car”
“That we are all healthy”
“That we have a warm home to sleep in”

  • Also, teach your kids to be thankful
    by giving to others.

I read about a great idea on the Happy Home Fairy blog to teach your kids to be thankful for others…they took individual bags of un-popped microwave popcorn and attached a little sticker/tag to it that said, “we just want to pop in to say we are thankful for you…and then signed their name”
You can hop over to the blog for free printable tags.
Give them to teachers, mailmen, bank teller, coaches and anyone else that touches their life. It helps to get our kids thinking about who they are thankful for.

Thankfulness is not just something to focus on during the holidays but if it opens the door to have the conversation, by all means walk through it. Use this time of year to teach the kids what a heart of thanksgiving looks like.

It will grow them up to be beautiful people.

The "Real Moms of West Michigan" airs Tuesday mornings at 7:05 AM EST.

If you are not in the West Michigan area, you can listen online at iHeart Radio:
STAR 105.7

And visit Tommy and Brook at:

STAR 105.7 on the web
STAR 105.7 on Facebook
@TommyAndBrook on Twitter

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Real Moms Series ~ Moms Need a Time Out

If you're stopping by because you heard me on STAR 105.7...

Moms, have you had a time out lately?

We need them. Ok, maybe you don't-but I do! A time to get away, recharge, destress and refresh!

I encourage you to grab a girlfriend and have some girl time.
Maybe it's as simple as a pedicure together or a weekend away with the girls.

Of course if you know me, you know that this has practically become my life's mission through the ministry of Praise and Coffee.

I'm constantly encouraging women to get together in small groups over a cup of coffee and share life. It helps us realize that we're not alone in this journey of motherhood and all things related to being a woman.

I spent time this past weekend with 3 other friends in South Haven at a Women's Only Weekend. We had so much fun! Lots of shopping, laughing, wine tasting and chocolate eating.
We even took turns laughing at each other when the other had a hot flash and had to stand in the open doorway of the hotel room so the breeze off the water could cool us down. Ok...maybe we didn't take turns. Maybe that was just me. But at least it was fun to laugh about it with girls that understood!

Tell me, what is your favorite way to unwind with the girls?
The "Real Moms of West Michigan" airs Tuesday mornings at 7:05 AM EST.

If you are not in the West Michigan area, you can listen online at iHeart Radio:
STAR 105.7

And visit Tommy and Brook at:

STAR 105.7 on the web

STAR 105.7 on Facebook
@TommyAndBrook on Twitter

Monday, November 14, 2011

God Understands the Tears of a Wife

Hello Ladies!

I'm posting over at the Internet Cafe' today:

God Understands the Tears of a Wife

But before you read it I want to emphasize something that I'm not sure I did well enough in that post...

The post is about how God will heal the heart of a woman no matter what situation she is in, but it is NOT saying that a woman should stay in a situation that is either verbally or physically abusive or one in which your spouse is living in adultery.

I don't want someone to read that and think...God will heal me so I need to stay here and continue to be abused. NO.

God will heal...He sees your tears, that is the heart of the post. The healing of a woman.

If you are in a painful relationship, I am so sorry. God is faithful, lean into Him.
Praying for you,

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Real Moms Series ~ Lighten Up!

If you're stopping by because you heard me on STAR 105.7...

Are there any other Moms out there that tends to forget to stop and have fun with her kids?

I've been guilty of this, I can get so caught up in my agenda and plan that I am wound up tighter than a drum.

This weekend I caught myself lecturing Lauren about picking up her toys. Again.

I didn't realize I was lecturing until I saw that look. You know the eyes glaze over and she's looking right through me oblivious to the words spilling out of my mouth.

It happens when I start to channel Charlie Brown's teacher and wah-wah-wah is all she hears.

When I realized what was happening I thought to myself- stop!
This is not working.

Lighten up!

I had a great opportunity later in the afternoon while making cookies.

While my Kithchen Aid mixer was hard at work...
Brief break here to say that Kitchen Aid mixer's are a gift from God.

So it was mixing away and I accidently dropped a whole egg into the batter. Yes, shells and all. Instantly ruining said batter.

Lauren's eyes got big as saucers (which is no small feat for tiny almond shaped eyes) and she braced herself for what could be an explosive response from me.

BUT...I had chosen to lighten up.
So I looked at the mess and....laughed.

I even turned the mixer on higher just see what a mess we could make.

When Lauren realized that I wasn't going to be all upset about it, she cracked up. Pun totally intended.

We both had a good laugh.
Just making the choice to lighten up changed everything.

So Moms, lighten up! It will bless you and your kids.

Proverbs 17:22 says:
"A cheerful heart is good medicine,but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength."

The "Real Moms of West Michigan" airs Tuesday mornings at 7:05 AM EST.

If you are not in the West Michigan area, you can listen online at iHeart Radio:
STAR 105.7

And visit Tommy and Brook at:

STAR 105.7 on the web

STAR 105.7 on Facebook
@TommyAndBrook on Twitter

Friday, November 4, 2011

Love You More

They say there is a special connection among families that adopt. I would have to agree. I felt that when reading this book by Jennifer Grant. It especially hit home as she already had 3 children when she adopted and I've faced some of the same looks and unsolicited advice from people in the grocery store. However, the gap in our kids age is so great that it is usually just Lauren and I, so I get the "oh you poor infertile woman" smile quite often. Sometimes I wish I had a shirt that says, "My other kid is 23."

"Love You More: the Divine Surprise of Adopting My Daughter" is the story of a family that had a strong marriage and three happy healthy children yet still sensed something was missing.
Yes, I can relate to that!

It's exactly how we felt 7 years ago.

"Expanding my family by adoption pushed me into uncomfortable places, challenged my notions about what family means, and brought abiding happiness. Like all true ones, my story is comprised of joyful moments and times of deep longing and pain," says Grant.

Love You More is an eye-opening look for readers to peer into the world of adoption. It is not only a beautiful story of God weaving a family together, but it serves a wonderful resource for anyone considering adoption.

Whether or not you have the nudgings of adoption, you will enjoy this book. It will warm your heart and wake the thankfulness we so often grow numb to in the everyday craziness of life.

Check out Jennifer Grant's:


Facebook page for Love You More

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Real Moms Series ~ Parent/Teacher Conferences

If you're stopping by because you heard me on STAR 105.7...

Tips for Great Parent Teacher Conferences

It’s hard to believe that it’s that time of year again. Didn’t we just step off the beach 5 minutes ago? Ok maybe not, but here we go, parent/teacher conferences.

While every situation, child, classroom and teacher are different, here are a few tips on making your conferences productive:

1. Prepare ahead of time.
Look at the work your child brings home to gage how they are doing.
Talk to your child on a regular basis about how school is going for them.
I would suggest that you don’t just ask: “How is school going?” because you will get the answer “Fine.”
Instead, ask questions that will enlist more than one word answers.
Such as:
“What subjects do you like best and why?”
“Are you struggling with any of your work?”
“Who is your favorite teacher?” and “What do you like about their class?”
“Who do you hang out with at lunch/recess?” and “Are there any kids that you avoid? And why?”

2. Be ready with the questions you want to ask before going to the conference, write them down if you need to.
a. Is my child keeping up with the rest of the class? Do you see any learning disabilities or does my child need to be challenged more in the classroom?
b. What are my child’s strong points?
c. Does my child participate in the classroom?
d. How does my child get along with others?
e. If the child is struggling with bad grades, is there anything they can do for extra credit?

3. Let the conference be a two way conversation, don’t do all the talking, but your input is very important to a good relationship with their teacher.

4. See the teacher as a partner in our child’s learning. I haven’t always been thrilled with my child’s teacher or their teaching style but unless the situation is beyond repair, it is best to try and work things out.

5. Thank the teacher and ask for his/her suggestions on what you can do at home to help your child with his/her schoolwork.

6. Pray for their teacher and your student. Lauren and I pray together each day on the way to school.

We’ve had up and down moments through the school years.
My kids didn’t always give school their best effort but it helped when we stayed engaged in what they were doing and kept accountability by asking them about their assignments and stopping in to the classroom to check in with the teacher.

Conferences with the teacher also helped keep me on my toes because face it, we’re moms, we have a million things needing our attention. A good partnership with our child’s teacher can be a great thing for us real moms!

The "Real Moms of West Michigan" airs Tuesday mornings at 7:05 AM EST.

If you are not in the West Michigan area, you can listen online at iHeart Radio:
STAR 105.7

And visit Tommy and Brook at:

STAR 105.7 on the web

STAR 105.7 on Facebook
@TommyAndBrook on Twitter

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