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because life is full of twists and turns

Month: June 2014 (page 1 of 5)

The Best of the Month: June

tiny writer

my tiny writer.

I am flummoxed that June is already over.  I’ve been dreading the arrival of July as some close friends of ours will be moving away this month.  We live in a military town so, of course, this isn’t a surprise that friends move away.  But our community will sorely miss this family and all that they bring to our church.

Since it is the last day of the month, I’m collecting all my favorite posts, dividing them into categories and then sharing one (or two) post from each category.  I’m also sharing my favorite Instagram post from this month (see above).

The posts I share are usually ones that I’ve been thinking about even since I read them, or, even better, ones that have changed the way I live. This month, I’ve made a conscious effort to say “you’re welcome” since reading Laura Turner’s exhortation. And 15 Tips for a Highly Sensitive Parent are rocking my world.  I’ve noticed myself making small changes that have made our home (and my life) more peaceful and pleasant.

try to make these diverse, but since I read many blogs that are Christian based, you’ll find that many of them in various categories are written from a Christian perspective even if they aren’t under a “Christian” category.

And so, in no particular order, here are my favorites from the month of June!


Liesl Testwuide at Scary Mommy: Quite Possibly One of the Best Letters from Camp, Ever.

Did you know you can light farts on fire?  I’ll show you on Satterday (sic).

Christian Feminism:

Jon Huckins at Sojouners: Raising Girls in a World Where They are Less Than Human

Evaluating my own complicity and ignorance led me to realize that for a guy who advocates so strongly for the value of a global kingdom worldview, I am radically narrow in who I consider authorities in my life. In other words, most scholars, thinkers, and practitioners I have studied are white males.

 Body Image:

Stella at The Body Love Blog: On getting exactly what I wanted and feeling terrified (language warning)

This picture is for Emily from middle school, who bullied me incessantly, made mocking videos about me, sent me nasty emails, and called me “lard”. She made me feel like I didn’t deserve to exist. Just because I happened to be bigger than her. I was 12. And she continued to bully me via social media into high school.

MOST OF ALL, this picture is for me. For the girl who hated her body so much she took extreme measures to try to change it. Who cried for hours over the fact she would never be thin. Who was teased and tormented and hurt just for being who she was.

I’m so over that.


Dorothy Greco at Redbud Writers Guild: Eight Dangers of a Writer’s Life

Writing reveals the true state of my soul: my crankiness, my envy, and my impatience, to name a few.  

This manifests most frequently when I read the comment section for an article I have spent eight to ten hours writing.

Book Review:

Preston Yancey’s review of A Beautiful Disaster by Marlena Graves

I’m commending to you the latest book that has made me order additional copies to hand to people when they need them. There’s only a handful of books I have that meet that qualification, that end up in multiples on the shelves, stranded in want of a good home when that odd moment happens at the dinner table and you rise, knowingly, and say, “I have something for you.”

Marlena Graves’s A Beautiful Disaster: Finding Hope in the Midst of Brokenness is one of those books.


Megan Tietz: 15 Tips for the Highly Sensitive Parent

11. Bring the Outside In

Highly Sensitive People often feel a strong connection to nature, and many find it to be very calming. As much as possible, bring nature into view by opening curtains and blinds, keeping fresh plants in the house, and even hanging nature-inspired artwork on the walls. You can bring your children in on this coping technique by taking long, slow nature walks and asking them to collect items for a nature table in the house.


My Proudest Parenting Moment I’ll Never Share With You

 The only way I know to foster that kind of relationship with my kids later is to give them room now. I must protect their little hearts from public display, let them develop their own faith without the pressures of a public eye, and trust them to live their own lives.

 Open Letter:

Mary DeMuth: Dear Man in Prison

You wrote your words behind bars to an audience of many, many, many. Did you realize that you would open a deep wound in sexual abuse survivors’ hearts and souls by characterizing the rape of a teen in your youth group as an “affair?” It was no affair. It was a calculated ploy by a person in authority, over a decade older, to a minor who was not old enough to understand the nature of your advances. This was abuse of power. This was molestation. …

Your words reflected little remorse other than getting caught and being prosecuted for a crime.


Kelli B. Trujillo at Today’s Christian Woman: Kick Your Husband Out of the House

And this is why I, every so often, kick my husband out of the house: because he, too, has a deeply-ingrained, God-given need for friendship—a need that isn’t suddenly erased by marriage.



Laura Turner at Her.Meneutics: The Christian Call to Say “You’re Welcome” 

Our landlord always sets aside our newspaper when my husband and I are out of town. It’s a small but kind gesture, and in our quid pro quo economy, he could ask something of us in return. But he does this small kindness with no aim for recourse. “Thank you so much,” I said on returning from a recent trip to Lake Tahoe. “You’re welcome,” he replied. He could have said, “No problem,” or, “It was nothing,” or, “Of course,” and I would have understood what he meant. But it wasn’t nothing; he created value for me. And I am grateful.

Ami at Bunkers Down: How the modesty police are hurting my son

…I am teaching my son that he is responsible for each of his thoughts and actions.  I am teaching my son that he needs to treat females and males respectfully, no matter what they wear.  I am teaching my son that the media uses sex to sell things and that he’s strong enough to not be manipulated by a woman’s body.  I’m teaching my son to use his mind over his groin and I’m teaching him that women are more than just their body parts.

My Own Writing:

What is Lost, But Always Carried With Us

Most of the babies would have been older than my parents had they lived.  It’s been so long that in some way you might assume they had been forgotten.

Yet I knew that each date I read isn’t just etched on those white stones.  It is also etched on the hearts of their parents, who may feel like they are the only ones who remembered those little ones.

What have you read this month that has kept you thinking?

If you are a blogger, what is your favorite thing that you have written?  I would love to check it out!

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Frivolous Friday: what do you wear around the house?


Last night I went to bed with PLANS.  I would wake up early and be ready to go when Hadden was up.  Hadden and I were going to run to the dollar store and pick up some things for his birthday party next month.  Then we would go to base to exercise.  Along the way we would pick up Starbucks tea for me and chicken nuggets for Hadden.

Since we’ve had a busy week, we have been slacking on our regular two hours of outside time a day.  So last night I planned that we would make sure to spend ample time at the park or in our backyard.

But then I couldn’t fall asleep last night.  And when I did finally get drowsy, Caleb got woken up with a series of phone calls from work.  He kindly went to the other room to take these phone calls, but I woke up when he got out of bed and then couldn’t fall back to sleep.  Whenever work calls in the middle of the night, I want to stay awake long enough to be sure there isn’t a national disaster.

Caleb ended up having to get dressed and go into work in the middle of the night.  He was there for several hours which means I tossed and turned a bit more than usual while he texted me the updates I requested.  I could tell at this point that a migraine was coming on.  I decided to sleep as long as I could in the morning.

When I did wake up this morning, it was dark.  Within a few minutes of waking up, it started raining.  Soon a steady stream of rain began with no sign of stopping on this gloomy day.  The grass is drenched.  The streets are filling with water.   There is thunder and lightening.

Scratch that!  Scratch all those plans I had made to run errands and exercise and play outside with Hadden.  This is an inside, don’t-leave-unless-you-must sort of day.

And who cares about getting ready when you don’t have to leave the house?

So after the shower I pulled on my favorite clothes to wear around the house – leggings and a huge, ratty t-shirt that I commandeered from Caleb last year.  They are the BEST clothes to wear on a day like today when I am achy and can’t bear the thought of putting on “real” clothes.  They are stretchy and soft so I can cuddle under a blanket with Hadden and read books.

I’m not sure this is a good idea, but here’s a (post-shower, no make-up, wet hair) visual.

photo 2 (3)


Hideous, but comfy, right?   Sometimes if I switch out the leggings with athletic shorts, which aren’t quite as comfortable, but are a tad more presentable if I suspect someone might stop by or that I might want to sit in the backyard with Haddy.

So now I’m typing this post from my kitchen trying to explain to a toddler that no, we cannot eat breakfast outside because it is drenched.  I’m not sure how this day will turn out with a migraine and aches and  being stuck inside, but I AM sure that I’ll be comfortable!

What do you wear around the house?  Is it as ratty as mine??  (You don’t have to post a picture!)


photo 1 (3)


Bonus picture: when I walked into Hadden’s room to get him this morning he immediately wanted this hat.  I plopped him in my bed so I could take a shower and there he sat happily with a TV show and his hat.  Toddlers!)


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Work at Home, Stay at Home: Ann Kroeker


Today’s guest in my Work at Home, Stay at Home is Ann Kroeker!  She was the unknowing inspiration for this series as her post Writing Conditions are Never Perfect gave me my first glimpse into the life of a writer-mama.  It gave me hope.

Ann certainly knows what it is like to be a writer-mama!  In addition to raising and homeschooling four children over the years, Ann works as a writing coach, a speaker, and a writer.  Ann has authored two books: The Contemplative Mom and Not So Fast: Slow-Down Solutions for Frenzied Families.  She currently serves as an editor at T.S. Poetry Press and The High Calling.

1. Ann, let’s start with you telling us about your family!

My husband and I are parents to four kids–three girls and a boy. This past year, we sent our eldest off to university where she’s studying Computer Science/New Media. This fall, we’ll be sending off her sister, who graduated high school (homeschool) in May, to study graphic design and photography. That will leave just two at home–the third girl, who loves science and engineering, and our son, who loves Minecraft. They’ve all played soccer since they were little. My European-born husband grew up with that as his main sport and has volunteered as a coach in the recreational league since the older two were five and six years old. The kids also love to read and write and laugh. We have two dogs–in fact, the girls love dogs so much, they all work at a kennel. My son likes to bake, so we are treated to pancakes and muffins and cake more than we deserve.

When we started homeschooling the kids as preschoolers, I never imagined we’d keep going all the way through high school, but here we are.

2. What is a typical day like in your household?

I can’t think of a typical summer day to describe, so I’ll go back to a typical school day from long ago, because typical with older kids is far different from typical with young kids and I think that’s what you’re curious about.

When the kids were young, the best homeschool days began with structure or at least a kind of pattern or rhythm. We’d do a devotional together and then review memory work while they finished up breakfast. We used a program that included some songs and other facts as part of a daily regimen. The older kids balked, but they did it and to this day some basic science, math and history facts come to them from those early songs we sang at breakfast–even as they rolled their eyes a bit or muttered the sayings through gritted teeth.

After the group work, the older kids were excused to work on their assignments in other rooms while I would focus on helping the younger two with something like handwriting or math. We worked through lessons and had breaks to play outside a few minutes and come back in for lunch. In the afternoon, the younger ones could play Playmobil (see below) or other games.

To break things up, I went through a season where I would prepare a simple afternoon “tea” (I’d drink tea; they’d often have juice). I’d serve simple cookies and read poetry aloud. What a great way to expose them to classic poetry while enjoying it myself. After I moved through the younger kids’ assignments, they would be done pretty early in the day, and that would give me some freedom to work on writing and editing.

3. When do you get the bulk of your work done?

I’ve done most of my writing in the nooks and crannies of time available in a given day, which evolved over the years. I had to be spontaneous and develop the ability to tune out background chaos, but it worked.  I realized yesterday that my teens can play Guitar Hero in the next room over and I just keep tapping away, oblivious.

Having a laptop helped me grab time whenever it presented itself, because its portability freed me to move from room to room or even outside to watch them if they played in the back yard. Summer days offered lots of flexibility and I could pursue my writing in chunks of time. Because we home educated, the kids seemed much more relaxed with the free time and could fill it with creative pursuits like building tents out of blankets or sheets.

When I needed to compose longer chunks of content and needed long stretches of uninterrupted work hours, I would trade babysitting with a friend and use that time to write at a coffee shop or the library; or I’d ask my husband to watch the kids on the weekend and head out for a full day to research, write and edit.

I’m more of a night owl than an early bird, so I would stay up late when I needed to. When the kids were really little, I loved nap time. When they all slept or at least relaxed in their bedrooms, I had that time to write.

4. Writing often requires solitude, which can be difficult to have as a mother!  Do you schedule any down time for yourself? What do you do to relax?

I don’t exactly schedule down time, but I definitely make sure I get some. Every writer needs mental space and free time–that’s when we solve plot problems or generate new book or blog ideas. Or it’s just when we think and laugh and enjoy ourselves and have fun! To relax, I like to poke around Goodwill, ride my bike to the library, meet up with a friend to talk, go for a long walk or jog, sit in the back yard and read, or–I’ll admit it–play Words with Friends or even just cruise the Internet.

5. Do you have any regular childcare, like a babysitter or daycare?

When the kids were really young, I did a babysitting swap with friends. An organized friend in the group came up with a ticket system–I don’t remember all the details, but I’d watch someone’s children for a certain amount of time and get paid with tickets and then someone would watch mine and I’d give them a set amount of tickets. The other moms tended to shop or meet a friend or something with their free time. Me? I’d write.

When the kids were a little older, I’d hire a sitter occasionally, but I never had a regular setup. I wasn’t opposed; I just didn’t have the resources at that time.

6. Since you didn’t use regular sitters when your children were young, I’m more curious about your answer to this next question!  Do your children have any special activities reserved for your work time?

I’ll confess to letting the kids watch an hour of PBS children’s programming or videos when they were really little. But the best activity? Playmobil. My kids were nuts about Playmobil and would play with it all afternoon and into the evening without interruption. I’m not exaggerating. That might have been the best investment I ever made, because it inspired nonstop imaginary place in the kids and freed me to create my own body of work.

7. What is your favorite part of this work at home/stay at home arrangement?

Flexibility. While some people crave predictability and regularity, I like a freer approach to life in general, from the way I dress to the hours I keep. Now that my kids are older, I am expanding my work to do more than write–now I’m an editor and writing coach, as well, and I can do that because of all those years I worked at my craft in the middle of the noise and tumble of parenting.

Ann, thank you for being part of this series and sharing your wisdom!


As a writing coacheditorpublished author, and professional speaker, Ann helps writers find and develop their voice. She’s also an experienced editor, serving on the editorial teams of Tweetspeak Poetry and The High Calling She authored two books—Not So Fast: Slow-Down Solutions for Frenzied Families and The Contemplative Mom—and contributed to many others. Her articles have been featured in a variety of publications including The Indianapolis Star newspaperAnn and her Belgian-born husband have four children, ages 12 to 20. Together, they live a life full of wonder and curiosity.


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