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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!

Sign up on the website magazine page to receive email updates when each issue publishes.
This is an online magazine. You can have it printed (through our website) but it's not available in print distribution yet.

  ©Blog Design by Amy Bayliss.

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