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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I've moved!

So...if you are still somehow ending up this page you haven't gotten the memo yet. I've switched to WP.
Go to and change your RS feed, quick. Now! You're missing some really fun posts!!!
Love you bunches!!

Friday, March 9, 2012

What's Been Happening?

I just realized that I haven't updated you in a while on the happenings with Praise and Coffee, so this is my attempt to catch you up.

Next week is our first ever Praise and Coffee Around the World!
March 15th women will be meeting in coffee shops, restaurants, churches and at kitchen tables, sharing life while connecting, encouraging and inspiring each other.

We also have a private Facebook group for all the women who host Praise and Coffee Nights or who are interested and want to chat with other women about it.
We'd love to have you in on the conversation, click on the link and join us!

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, check out our eBook that explains it all.
How Anyone Can Start a Praise and Coffee Night

Basically, it's a fresh approach to women's ministry.
No agendas or studies, just connecting, encouraging and inspiring one another along our journey as wives, moms and women of God over a cuppa coffee or whatever you feel like sipping.

I'm also working on the Spring Praise and Coffee Magazine that is coming out April 1st!!
This one is for the moms...or those of us who have moms...which should cover us all.

On a personal side, things have been busy for me. It's MOPS season! I've been speaking at a lot of MOPS groups in the area.
I love it!
I feel like I basically come in and lift heavy backpacks off the moms. Backpacks that are filled with burdens, worries and pressure to be something that God never called them to be: perfect.

Having small children can be such a trying time in a woman's life and if I can say anything that brings a little comfort and joy to this season, I'm happy to.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!
Watch for our new website coming real soon!!!!

Much love,

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tips on Raising Middle Schoolers

Ok, so that beautiful little cooing baby that you held just five minutes ago has grown up to be a middle-schooler. Those little rosy cheeks that were once irresistible to squeeze are now speckled with acne.

Remember when they were a toddler and their squeals would lead us to say things like, “oh my, he’s found his voice.” And now staring eye to eye, they argue with us and we think, “oh good gravy, he's found his voice.”

Raising kids reminds me a little of that show Wipe Out. It’s a muddy obstacle course that requires you to jump across giant slippery balls.

Yup, I’d say it’s pretty much exactly like motherhood.

But don’t lose heart moms, we can do this. Here are a few tips to help us navigate this exhausting wonderful time of transition in our child’s life.

1. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Moms, we will have plenty of major things in life to lose sleep over, don’t give it up for the little things. Pick your battles wisely. Remember, these kids have hormones and emotions that are spinning wildly inside of them and they might just need us to let them vent a bit.

2. Be careful to be encouraging and not critical. They are hearing critical words all the time, let your words be filled with hope and not criticism. This may take some creative thinking on your part at times, but you’re a MOM, you can do this! Build up instead of tear down, even when we see things that put us on the shady side of crazy.

3. Don’t talk too much! I raise my hand as a guilty party here. I can get rambling and before I know it all that my kids are hearing is white noise. Stop the lectures, they tune us out anyway, why waste the breath. Do speak, but not too much…try to find the balance or you’ll end up like this.

The most important thing to remember is that our kids need us. They need us on their side, fighting FOR them in this world not against them.

God has given us an incredible job, and He really does know what He’s doing. You ARE cut out for this…quite perfectly in fact.

I'd love to hear what things have helped you navigate these precious years.

Listen to the Real Moms of West Michigan every Tuesday at 7:05AM on STAR 105.7.
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
STAR 105.7 on Facebook
@TommyAndBrook on Twitter

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

How Can We Help Our Kids Do Well in School

This is good news for REAL moms!

Tutors are great but studies show that the best students are not ones with tutors but instead a strong family support makes a child a better learner.

It turns out that the family environment is crucial in forming good habits early on in a child's life. Who'da thought?!

Here are a few ways we can help our kids do well in school:

1. Give them a place to study and do homework. Try to keep the noise to a dull roar distractions to a minimum and as much as possible have it be a consistent time each day.
That being said...this REAL mom has practiced spelling words in the car on many occasions.

2. We've talked about this a few times but it bares repeating...communicate with your kids, ask them how things are going in their classes. Which classes do they struggle in, which class is their favorite and why.

3. Communicate with teachers, find out if homework is getting turned in and how they feel your child is doing in class. And as your child see you doing this, the accountability may be good incentive to work harder.

4. Help your kids learn HOW to study. This will really help them as they get older. If you've ever been super tired like me at the end of a day (like I was in this post) and then you realize that they didn't do their homework and you are tempted to just give them the answers, because I have not that I've done that... but we really shouldn't. A better (more patient and rested) parent will teach them how to find the answers. :)

5. And the most important (well not really but it seems that the last one should always be the most important) remain supportive even when they struggle.

Homework is not ever always a fun time of the day, but investing in our kids is worth it!
Real moms like you and I can make a huge difference, in fact the MOST difference in our kids education.
I'd love to hear any tips you have!

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
STAR 105.7 on Facebook
@TommyAndBrook on Twitter

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

How Can I Build My Child's Self Esteem?

If you listened you heard that...only I could forget the rest of "sticks and stones will break your bones but..." I had a complete brain block at that moment!! Well, I hope you laughed with me, but if you laughed AT me, at least we both got a laugh :)

One way you can help build your child's self-esteem: speak words that build up and not tear down.
We can help build the self-esteem of our children by focusing more on their strengths and accomplishments rather than their short comings.

A child’s self-esteem is often built on what those close to them say about them, so we can make a huge impact in our kid’s lives if we praise them and encourage the positive decisions they make. And when they fail and make mistakes, speak words like: I know you can do better! Let them know that you believe in them.

It’s so important that moms build up and not tear down our kids.
For instance; I just cringe when I hear parents call their child stupid or dumb, it’s heartbreaking and flat out cruel. Yes, they will do stupid things… so will we…but let’s separate those actions from who they are as a person.

When a parent tells a child they are stupid or even "bad," it tears down the very core of who they are. Let’s not let their mistakes become part of their identity. I sure don’t want to be defined by the many times I’ve fallen, instead I want to be encouraged to pick myself up and do better next time.

Instead we can say something like: That was not the best decision to make, but YOU are smart. I’m sure you’ll do better next time.

And, isn’t that what we want too?

So, think about the words we speak to our kids…speak words of encouragement and praise.

Real moms can build their kid’s self-esteem by building them up, not tearing them down.
Ephesians 4:29

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

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
STAR 105.7 on Facebook
@TommyAndBrook on Twitter

Saturday, February 18, 2012

What If Your Church Didn't Exist Anymore?

Many hairstyles ago I stood in front of the church that my husband pastored and shared a thought that burned so deep inside me I couldn’t help but breathe it out loud. With a shaking that reached from my platinum blonde hair to my painted toes I asked the congregation, “What would happen if you didn’t have a church to attend anymore?” It was not an announcement of the church closing its doors; but more a sense of the burden on my heart that we are all too comfortable sitting in the church.

What would you do if there were no church to get ready for on Sunday? What if there were no Bible studies or MOPS groups?

How would your family navigate their Christianity without the church building? Do you feel equipped to teach the truths of the Bible to your children?

Obviously we don’t have to navigate the road of Christianity alone, we have churches and groups and the freedom to assemble, and for this I am grateful. But I still wonder, what if?

I believe that God wants a relationship with us that is not dependent on church attendance.

I have driven home from church and felt a sense of satisfaction by the mere fact that I attended. I hadn’t connected with anyone or learned anything that sparked faith in my heart. But that religious side of me felt approved by God just by walking in the doors, sitting in a pew, picking up a bulletin and smiling at the greeter on the way out.

I want more than that in my relationship with the God of Creation. I believe God wants more for us.

I think it does us all good to stop and think about how our lives would look if the freedom to assemble in our churches disappeared. I’m not saying this because I think that is what’s happening; I’m not storing up guns in my basement or buying rice in bulk. But I think we need to look at our relationship with the Father and consider if it’s authentic enough that it would pass down to the next generation without overhead projectors or flannel boards teaching them about Noah’s Ark.

THE Church (the body of Christ) will exist, but if your building weren’t available, how would you do?

I'd love to hear your thoughts...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

When Moms Should Say Yes

Hello Moms! 
 I’ve talked before about encouraging moms to say NO to the things that keep us too busy and away from the family but today I want to encourage moms to say yes. Turns out that our kids respond better in what is considered a positive atmosphere. Who knew?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking about giving in to every whim at the grocery store or all the treats their little heart’s desire because our kids can ask us what seems like a million questions in a day. I’m referring to those times when a “yes” is possible, just not always convenient for us.

It can be so easy to fall into a groove of continually saying NO. We’re busy we’re running around and it’s hard to say yes when we’re on a mission, it’s inconvenient, but…we could probably say yes a little more than we do.

I have the habit of saying no to messy things…play dough, Legos, painting or friends over after school…..sleepovers…you know, the things that get in the way of MY day. It’s also a challenge for me to say yes to stopping what I’m doing to play a board game or the Wii.

And then I read things like this from Mr. Fred Rogers:

In the book The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember, Fred Rogers wrote that, "I hope you're proud of yourself for the times you've said yes, when all it meant was extra work for you and was seemingly only helpful to someone else."

Ok, so REAL moms…every time we consider saying “no,” let’s stop and ask ourselves a simple question: Can I give my child a “yes” instead?

Matt 10:16

And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.

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
STAR 105.7 on Facebook
@TommyAndBrook on Twitter

Monday, February 13, 2012

Got the Winter Blues?

Need a boost of encouragement today?

Check out the latest magazine online:

Click here: Winter 2012

For articles including:
Starting Over
New Beginnings
Low Self Esteem
Escaping the Sex Industry
and more!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Another "Confessions of a Bad Mom" Post

Hey ladies!
I'm over at the Internet Cafe today sharing some stuff about homework, motherhood and my refusal to add 3 plus 4. I'd love it if you dropped by and gave some input!

Confessions of a Mom With Too Much Dander

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What Can Moms Do About Bullying

Maranda had an excellent program this weekend on “Where You Live” about bullying.

I encourage all moms to check out her blog, she has some great insights from parents, kids and professionals.

One of the girls on that show said something so eye opening about the core of the pain these kids feel. Her name was Karleigh and she said: “when you feel worthless, all you want to do is die”

And I thought, THAT is the heart of what these kids are feeling when they are bullied, they feel worthless and de-valued. And I’m not a professional but as a MOM, I can help my child feel worth. I can show them that they have value.
I can validate them by encouraging them, praising them for accomplishments, telling our little girls that they are beautiful.

Our youngest daughter was adopted from China and she was born with a cleft lip and palate and her scar is very obvious and her little nose is flatter and kids say things to her that break her heart. I talked about it in this post: No One Else Looks Like Me

So we continually tell her she’s beautiful and how precious she is to us and to God, and I see that lift her countenance. It really makes a difference.

Our kids need us to fill their tanks.They need to know that they are an important part not only of our family but of the world. That they have a place, and they have a purpose. They are not here by accident.

And on the other side of this, we can talk to our kids about how we are all different and just like we encourage our kids- that the other kids in their school have a purpose too- and teach our kids to be sensitive to the differences in all of us.

It's as simple as:
Love your neighbor as yourself.
Real moms can make a difference when we show our children their value and worth.

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
STAR 105.7 on Facebook
@TommyAndBrook on Twitter

Sunday, February 5, 2012

GREAT! The Lid Came Off the Mayo Jar

I just got back from a glorious run on this beautiful Michigan day!

Not really...wouldn't you hate me if that was the truth??
The truth is, the weather IS beautiful for Michigan today, 40's and sunny. But the run was tedious and tiring and I wanted nothing more than to stop and drive to McDonalds for a McFlurry.
The glorious part is that it's done. Amen.

I don't usually write on the weekends but Lauren did something today that I wanted to tell you about.

First let me warn you, there is nothing spiritual or redeeming about this. It's kind of ugly and nothing like the beautiful things that Ann Voskamp writes on the weekend.

Lauren (7yo) opened the fridge, started rifling through it and grumbled in disgust, "Don't we have any cupcakes?! Where are the chips?! GREAT! the lid came off the mayonaise jar!"

Now, it should be noted that I don't think we've had cupcakes in this house in a month and I never keep them in the fridge. Apparently she wanted the chips because she spotted french onion dip and I have no idea why she feels the need to take on responsibility for the mayonaise container.

If she was 10 years older I would assume we were dealing with PMS but evidently we're just dealing with an ornery seven year old who needed some time on her quad, thankfully she got that.

Now you should probable head over to Ann's website because she does sweet things on the weekends that make you feel happy about life, not me, I've had my nose buried in the book "Bossy Pants" by Tina Fey all weekend and I'm feeling a bit snarky.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Creative Way to Apologize

Hello! Happy Friday!

After yesterday's post, I thought something a little more light hearted would be good. But let me just say, wow. Not only was that the most traffic my little blog has ever seen, but I was overwhelmed with email and messages after that post, many of which brought me to tears. I said a prayer for each of you, and I plan to write more about abuse in the future.

Late yesterday afternoon I jumped in the shower to get ready for these sweet ladies who were coming over.

They are planning to start their own Praise and Coffee Nights here in West Michigan. We had so much fun!

But as I stepped out of the shower, this letter was slid under the bathroom door, along with a marker that clearly took some time to jam under the door.

It said:
Dear Mom and Dad I em sry I was men to you do you frg m yess or no srk wun

Dear Mom and Dad, I am sorry I was mean to you, do you forgive me? yes or no, circle one

She waited impatiently outside the door with constant requests that I "circle one."

I opened the door and asked what she was talking about. When was she mean to us?
Evidently she felt that she was mean to us the night before when she had a bad attitude. I had forgotten all about it, hello-just another day with a 7 yr old.

It's so funny sometime what their little hearts hold on to.

Of course I wrapped my arms around her and gave her lots of love but that wasn't enough, I had to "circle one." And she wanted me to go back in the bathroom and slide it back under to the door to her.

I obliged.

So, next time you blow it and need to apologize to someone I suggest you write a little note, feel free to use Lauren's words, and slide it under the door when they are showering. It is hard to stay mad at someone who spends 10 minutes jamming a marker under the door.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Effects of Abuse

If you have been abused, I’m so sorry. I wish I could wrap my arms around you. I would whisper in your ear …“the abuse does NOT define you…you have worth…you are precious to God…He loves you.”

I’ve been there.

I was molested as a child.

No, I don’t talk about it much. Only when I feel a prodding sense that someone might need to hear it.

A “friend” of the family took a child whose self-esteem was already dangling by a thread and violently tore it away.

Abusers don’t consider the pain they cause. They are selfish.

They don’t care that they leave a crumpled little girl struggling to understand. Why me? What have I done to deserve this? Where are my protectors?

Can you relate? Maybe your abuse came in a different form. Maybe it was actual bruises that peppered your fragile frame, or maybe the bruises hid quietly behind a shy smile that you painted on when someone started to see the angst in your eyes.

My scars were not visible but I saw them every day. Like a scab that I unconsciously picked at until it bled and I could no longer deny its reality.

Chosen last for the kick ball game at recess. The boys teased me about my crooked teeth. The teacher overlooked me despite furiously waving my hand when I knew the answer.

They all seem like innocent actions, but I knew. I knew it was because I was not important. I belong in the background. I was used. I was only beneficial to appease a demented man’s needs.

It wasn’t until many years later that I learned how distorted my thinking had become.

My heart is heavy for those who through abuse or neglect now turn to horrible self-destructive behaviors such as cutting, substance abuse, bulimia etc. Please if that is you, seek Christian counsel. Sit down with someone who will pray with you and help bring healing, comfort and hope to you.

God knows you and loves you and I am praying for any victims who read this. You were made for a purpose, to KNOW your creator as Father, friend and Savior. You were not made for the abuse you’ve suffered. It does not define you. You are beautiful, you have worth, and you are loved.

I’d love to hear from you.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

REAL Moms, Give Yourself a Break

It was the end of an exhausting day and then it was bedtime. If you read my previous post, you know that it can be tiring and this night was no different. I tucked Lauren in, said our prayers and as I stepped over her threshold it begins. It is literally as my foot crosses over to bolt down the steps, she hollers; “MOM! Don’t forget to turn the hall light on.”

Light goes on, I take another step; “MOM! I’m thirsty!” (Does your child immediately become parched the minute their little head hits the pillow? Desert parched…as if we’ve been withholding liquids since breakfast.)

And it continues from there, with the initial siren each time being the word, Maaaaaaaa-OM!

By the time I make it all the way down the stairs I pretty much look this:

I was worn out and I thought, I wonder how many other moms are feeling just like I do right now? Like a worthless mess. So I tweeted something like this:

@praiseandcoffee “I just want to give all the moms out there a high five right now because you are probably too hard on yourself.”

I was shocked at all the feedback, I had struck a nerve. Women were thanking me and saying that they have been beating up on themselves about not being a good enough Mom.

For some reason we tend to put unreal expectations on ourselves and when we fall short or I prefer to say “when we are REAL moms,” we beat ourselves up. We blame ourselves for situations that are out of our hands and we struggle to fix things in our kid’s life that we don’t have the power to fix.

We’re Moms, not magicians.

And then sometimes we DO just blow it. It IS our fault. But that’s why I constantly fall back on the incredible grace of God- who gave me these children in the first place.

I cling to this verse daily, because I need it new every day!

The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning. Lam. 3:22-23
Today I want to give the Moms in West Michigan and all who read this, a high five and tell you to stop beating yourself up.

You are doing a great job! You may be over-worked and under-appreciated, but, what you are doing really matters.Moms, you make a difference, a huge difference. No one can love your children like you.

God gave you these little darlings so don’t ever be afraid to call on Him to help you raise them.

I'm on the "Real Moms of West Michigan" which 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
STAR 105.7 on Facebook
@TommyAndBrook on Twitter

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Nightmares

Lauren's been struggling with fear. Fear of bad guys. It overwhelms her at bedtime. She's afraid that they will come in during the night and take her from us. It plagues her nightly. She begs me to lock all the doors and windows and questions me repeatedly if I've followed through.

It breaks my heart. What brings this on? We've never given her reason to worry. Our house is in a quiet safe neighborhood in the country. Her Daddy is a proficient marksman, her 250lb 6'1" brother lives here, we have a security system and this.

Sure, she looks harmless NOW, and she is recovering from being hit by a car but I guarantee you, she would get all kinds of ugly on someone that tried to get in this house uninvited.

But how could she feel unsafe in this house? Why doesn't she trust us to protect her?

Night after night she simmers and stirs on the irrational notion that someone could burst into our home and snatch her from her warm bed. I sink exhausted into my chair when she falls to sleep but it's a temporary pause until she wakes shouting at strangers that she imagines in her time between sleep and wake.

She mumbles and cries, thrashing in bed, "Momma!! Mommy! No no no!" and my heart aches as I try to quiet the anxiety pouring out of her cleft scarred lips. She's not fully conscious and eventually she quiets and falls back to sleep. Often I'm summoned back during the night to lie next to her after the bad guys come back in her dreams.

As I wrestle with how to convince her that she's safe, I think of how God must feel that same way about me. He's given me no reason not to trust Him, no clue that He would abandon me. In fact I've learned that even when it looks like He's walked away and left me with my fears, I find that He was there all the time. He was just quiet for he moment, watching to see who I'd run to. Like mine, His arms ache to comfort His children.

Just like I long for Lauren to rest in the security of her home, I know the Lord wants the same for us.

Psalms 46

1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Whew, I didn't break out in hives.

I can hardly believe the LIVE webinar went off without a hitch. I didn't break out in hives, the dogs didn't attack the UPS man and Mitt Romney didn't call, not even once.

The webinar went a bit longer than I had hoped for and of course I have a million more things I wish I would have said, and why did I make that funny face so often and good gravy what was going on with my hair?

But here you go, if you've been thinking about starting Praise and Coffee Nights this video shares the heart of them with you.

The ladies that attended were truly a delight. I wish they had all been here in my kitchen. I would have baked them something fattening and yummy.

Here are the links for the Ebook:

And webinar:

This is a fresh approach to women's ministry. Sharing conversations that matter as REAL women with real hurts, joys and trials.

  • No agendas, just relationships.
  • Gathering 3-12 women together, facilitating conversation and allowing God to intervene.
  • Based on Matthew 18:20, when 2 or 3 gather in His name, He comes.
  • Meeting outside the four walls of the church with women from all backgrounds, churches (or no church) and walks of life.
  • Sharing life.

And this is me. Watch the webinar, you'll understand.

Thank you Denise for all the behind the scenes stuff that you did while sitting in my dining room all alone, I really should have baked you something. I love you to pieces.

Have a great weekend!!!!

PS: I almost forgot...if you would like to join in with women all over the nation world starting Praise and Coffee Nights on March 15th, click here:!/events/290042004382067/

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Fresh Approach to Womens Ministry

Edited to add:
If you missed the webinar, the info is here: 

Ok girls, I’m scared and excited and nervous and overwhelmed all at once. Yes, I need to lay off the caffeine but this really is BIG news.

We are hosting our first ever Praise and Coffee webinar. We will be helping to train and equip women from all over the nation world to host Praise and Coffee Nights.

No airplane tickets or hotel reservations fact, you don't have to brush your hair or get out of your jammies for this! Although, I will be on video, so I'll try to freshen up so as not to frighten you.

The interest in hosting a Praise and Coffee Night has been growing and women want to know the what, when, where and how’s of starting them. So if you are interested, jump in on our online webinar this Thursday at 1:00 PM EST. No commitment necessary, lookey-loo’s are more than welcome.

RSVP here: (or leave a comment on this post).!/events/231394873604052/

Praise and Coffee Nights are a fresh approach to women’s ministry. The fresh-ness is that we’re not looking to create a mega-ministry, but instead create a movement. Real women meeting in small groups at cafés and kitchen tables, connecting-encouraging-and inspiring one another.

You don’t have to be a minister’s wife or even part of your church ministry team…we want every day REAL women to start with the influence that God has already given them and take it one step further. Invite 3 or more (we like to keep it under 12) women out to a coffee shop or over for a cup of coffee and some encouragement. Note: Coffee is not actually required :)

This is NOT your Momma’s Bible study group, this is girlfriend time with the only agenda being connect-encourage-inspire. Share life, and watch how God intervenes.

Matt. 18:20 says that when 2 or 3 are gathered in His name, He comes. I love that! And honestly, I desperately need that. I don’t know what I would do without the girlfriends in my life that have been Jesus’ heart to me.

Do that Bible study, memorize that scripture! But also connect with women in a relational way that deepens your life and gets us out of the four walls of the church and into the world that God put in front of us.

To join us for the online webinar, click this link on Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 1:00 PM (if you miss it, we are recording, I’ll add the link to watch it when it’s available):

Enter as a guest and type in your name! It’s that easy. You can chat with other women who have already started them and many who are about to start.

We also want to invite you to start your first Praise and Coffee Night with us on March 15th with women all across the world.

That info can be found here:!/events/290042004382067/

Use the comments for any questions or drop me an email! I can’t wait to hear from you.

OH! I almost forgot!! During the webinar we will be giving away TWO...yes 2 SIGNED, yes signed copies of Lysa TerKeurst's new Made to Crave devotional!

And...because we love you...TWO...yes 2 SIGNED, yes signed copies of Mary Snyder's new book too!

Hope to hear from you!!

PS: Local friends, here is a link to the training I'll be doing at my house in February:!/events/214266648657988/ 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Why I Make Mashed Potatoes

Want to help your kids stay off drugs and do better in school? Get cooking Momma! Or pay good money to a take-out joint that does.

Studies have actually shown that the more often families eat together, the less likely kids are to get into trouble…literally they tend not to smoke, drink, do drugs, get depressed, develop eating disorders and consider suicide, and they are much more likely to do well in school.

One study says that kids who eat most often with their parents are 40% more likely to get mainly A's and B's in school than kids who have two or fewer family dinners a week.

The chair is an anchor, not a bad anchor like a ball and chain, but a good anchor like the one that keeps your boat close enough to shore but just out of the weeds so that you can swim. Because, if you are anything like me and your foot touches a weed, it’s game over. Weeds and the theme to Jaws, two things that make me a big fan of pools.

Back to anchor…we sit, we eat, we talk. We live and grow together.

The conversation at the table is a window into each other’s lives. We share stories from our day and Lauren asks questions.

“How do people talk with their mouth?”

“Why is my head this size?”

“Why don’t we lick ourselves like dogs?”

And that’s why I make mashed potatoes because Lauren loves them and calls them “mashed-ta-pa-tatoes” and they keep her mouth really busy. Sometimes we just need her mouth to be busy.

Click on picture to go to Ree's incredible mashed potatoe recipe!

I admit, eating together at the table is a struggle for my family. With kids ranging from 7-21 years old living in the house with busy schedules we have a hard time getting us all in the same place at once. But I love it when we do and I’m working on making it happen more often.

What about you? How often do you eat together as a family and what are your thoughts on the subject?

I'm on the "Real Moms of West Michigan" which 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
STAR 105.7 on Facebook
@TommyAndBrook on Twitter

Friday, January 20, 2012

Cruising, Comedy, Lysa TerKeurst and Dogs

Hello, hello girlfriends!
This is pretty much a random 'catch you up' kind of post....

First let me share what it looks like here in Michigan:

Isn't that gorgeous? My daughter Stephanie took this while I was gone...

I can not believe that as I write this shivering in my office, that one week ago today I was sailing the ocean blue. No, I did not see the news about that OTHER cruise ship until I was about to come home thankyouverymuch.

Yes, Melissa Mashburn and I went on a cruise/writing conference. It was so much fun.
One of the best parts was seeing my son perform with 321 Improv. Sad to think I had to go all the way to Mexico to see him perform. I have seen him do his stand up, back when he won Funniest Person in Grand Rapids 2010, but this was the first time watching him with 321 doing improv. They were hysterical. Stomach ache hysterical.
Yes that's Chonda Pierce laughing at them too! I adore her. She is not only funny funny funny,
but also has a beautiful heart.

I had so much fun meeting online friends and making new ones!

 Heather Williams who Denise  interviewed for our latest magazine.

And the most hilarious and fun Mary Snyder who screamed "Sue Cramer is the" every time I saw her. (She's also in the current magazine.)

I did not lay in the sun one time. I tried. I walked up on deck to get some sun and it was a bit cloudy so I jumped in the hot tub instead. Cue thunderstorm and I was back in the room sitting on my balcony with Mel.

One afternoon Mel and I ordered room service, all desserts, and sat on our balcony. Seriously, every dessert on the menu. When they delivered it they asked where the kids kids just us. They smiled and nodded and told all their waiter friends that we were complete freaks. I know they did.

But we didn't care. We saw dolphins. Yes dolphins, jumping right outside our window. We screamed and called Matt. He ran up to our room but the dolphins went away. As you can see it was rough seas on the way back from Cozumel.

I also got to see and have breakfast with my sweet friend Lysa TerKeurst. Oh mercy I do love her. We have so much in common it's a bit scary and I've actually lived her post from this week.

And speaking of dogs, cause Lysa did...this is my neighbors dog looking in at me while I'm working in my office:

His name is Shadow and he's come over to make friends with my dogs. One of my dogs loves him, the other would like to put her shock collar on him and hold him over the fence line.
But when I bring our dogs in, cause it's downright freezing here, he barks at me, begging to let him in also. I try ignoring him but then he whines and crys and finally does this:

What's a mom to do?
Eventually I cave in and against my better judgement I let him in and this is what I get:

I suppose I could spiritualize this and talk about how God brings us in from the cold hard places of life and lets us rest in Him.

Cause He totally does.

Love you, hope you have a wonderful weekend!!

PS: What would a post about cruising be without a pic of the fun towels they left in our rooms:
Thank you Royal Caribbean and Premiere Christian Cruises, you are awesome!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tips for Busy Moms!

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

Another in the Real Moms of West Michigan series heard Tuesday mornings on STAR 105.7...
Real Moms are Busy!

I kept telling myself that things would slow down after the holidays but that hasn’t proved to be true and I have a feeling many of you moms feel the same way!
So I have a couple ideas to help us slow down- at least a little.

1. If you are anything like me you have excellent intentions to delegate jobs to the kids but don’t actually make a plan. It’s time- make a plan so the kids know that at meal time…Josh has to help cut up veggies, Sam has to set the table while another will be helping clean up. If these things are delegated ahead of time, it’s much easier because the kids already know and plan on it.

Unnecessary commentary: Obviously the more children you have, the lighter the load for go ahead and have a few more.

2. Don’t worry about what all the other moms are doing. Everyone taking their turn is important but you don’t have to run the committee and organize the whole event if you don’t want to. It’s easy to get caught up in comparing ourselves to what all the other moms are doing but I’ve found that that’s not a good reason to be busy with things.

More unnecessary commentary: Plus that mom that is doing EVERYTHING at your child's school is probably compensating for something lacking in her life and since you don't carry those insecurities you don't need to have your hand up for every single thing.

Don’t worry about what the other moms are doing…which leads us to the last thing I have:

3. Say no to the things that are not necessary or beneficial to your family. Set those boundaries around your family. Teach the kids by example to make good choices with your time and say no to some of the extra time consuming things.

Like Facebook and Twitter, you should stay far away from those things.

I hope things slow down enough for you to take some much needed time and catch up on my blog though! Much love to ya busy 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
STAR 105.7 on Facebook
@TommyAndBrook on Twitter

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My One Word for 2012

Everyone’s talking about One Word 365, even our magazine!

Here’s a portion of the article:

Choose just one word.

One word that sums up who you want to be or how you want to live or what you want to achieve by the end of 2012.

One word that you can focus on every day, all year long.

It will take hard work, and will require intentionality and commitment. But if you let it, your word will shape you and your year. It will guide your decisions and help you grow.

Discover the big impact one word can make.

One word. 365 days. A life changed.

This year I decided to jump in, but I couldn’t come up with a word. One word is hard for me. I need a couple paragraphs. So I prayed and asked God to show me. Show me a word that will mean a mouthful.

And He did.

While thinking about the songs that resonate with me in this season of life, it hit me: breathe.

It’s hard to explain all that this word means to me because it encompasses so much.

From this:

Genesis 2:7

Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person. (NLT)

To breathe is to live.

This life is a gift from God.

To this:

2 Corinthians 2:14

In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. (The Message)

What a thought, that my life could be a sweet aroma for others to breathe in.

To breathe, to pause, to infuse, inhale, inspire.

This word helps me remember that when I get overwhelmed, I need to stop and breathe. Take a pause, think about what’s really important in life…and just breathe.

It reminds me that each day is a series of breaths, each one inspiring life.

Breathe helps me remember Him. That He is present in each breath.

And that I need to be present in each breath, not wishing my life away for the BIG moments, but cherishing the ones that seem unimportant. The smiles and laughs and giggles that fill each day.

He is there in each and every one, sustaining and infusing us with life.

When I get anxious…breathe…remember whose I am, and say a prayer.

When the pressures of life overwhelm…breathe.

When I start to compare…breathe…because I’m no less or no better than anyone else.
I'm me. NO one else on this planet can fill my shoes, and I shouldn't worry about filling anyone elses either.


It’s my reminder to pause, get the right perspective and thank Him with every cell in my being that He’s given me breath today.

Hop over to to see what all the buzz is about!
And if you would like a "one word" button like mine, hop over to Melanie's website!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Winter 2012 Praise and Coffee Magazine

I feel this way with every issue, but this one is one of my favorites.
Click cover to read.

I love the stories that women share this me just post my editor's note here:
Even though I cherish Christmas, I love the feeling when all the decorations are put back in their tubs and loaded up in the loft. The whole house feels clean and liberated, no longer strangled by boughs of holly.

It’s a good feeling, like that of:

A fresh snow.

Clean sheets.

An empty dishwasher.

A new jar of peanut butter. Sorry, but I love it don’t you? There’s nothing like being the first one to dip a…I mean run a knife through a freshly opened jar of peanut butter.

We all love a fresh start don’t we?

Sometimes the everyday stuff of life is like a walk through a barn full of animals.

Messy and unpredictable.

But then we peer over the stall door to see a mare just given birth to a foal. The stench and mess of the barn is forgotten for the moment as we witness the precious wobbly new life attempting its first try at vertical. It stumbles and falls and our hearts cheer as it stands on four legs for the very first time. I’ve seen it, it’s beautiful. It fills a heart with hope of new beginnings.

There are no colts or fillies in this issue, but stories of real women facing real pain and how they let God bring new life into messy and unpredictable situations. I pray, along with the women in this issue, that you will find hope in these pages. That their stories would help you trust in God more deeply than before you read them.

I have no desire to fix you…only to inspire you to reach out to the hand that’s extended in mercy towards you at this very moment. Let His grace and forgiveness pour over you afresh today.

With love,
We'd love to get your feedback! What do you love? What ideas do you have for us? Do you know any women with stories that need to be in our magazine? Tell us!

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This is an online magazine. You can have it printed (through our website) but it's not available in print distribution yet.

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