Latest Posts

Lessons From a Cage Fight in a Minivan

In my book Rocking Ordinary I share about an epic battle my husband and I had in a parking lot. Really big fight. And that story is one of the most-talked-about parts of the book. Maybe because we’ve all been there, too?

So when my friend Tricia Goyer asked me to share how God challenged me to step out of my comfort zone and do something radical for Him . . . yeah, this memory sprang to mind. Because there’s nothing like a marital spat to turn things around, right?

J.C. Penny’s isn’t a great place to start a fight with your husband, come to find out. When we realized our increasingly tense voices were garnering the side eye from more than one customer, we high-tailed it out of there. There was only one place to go: the minivan.

It was a cage fight in the minivan. Don’t tell me you’ve never had one.

Enclosed in the seemingly soundproof vehicle (in order to have a minivan cage fight, you must first pretend your minivan is soundproof), we allowed our voices to raise. There may have been some slaps on the dashboard and stomps on the floormats, too.

Yep, it got ugly real quick.

What started the brawl? Just your run-of-the-mill “you aren’t paying attention to me” “well, you’re too busy for me” “because you’re engrossed in work” “like you look up from your schedule” “I’m doing the best I can to hold everything together” “are you saying I’m not running myself ragged” kind of fight.

You’ve had that fight, too.

Because we all do. We run, run, run the race of family life and work and soccer games and homeschooling and ministry and volunteering until all of the sudden WHAM! We hit the brick wall. And our spouse is usually standing in front of that brick wall, getting squashed by our frustrated fatigue.

And it’s there, bouncing off the wall bruised and broken, that we start to look around and wonder, “What in the world am I doing here, and what’s it all for?”

After a good 30 minutes of yelling, we finally got to that question. Midway through our lives, we looked at each other thru tears and gasped, “What are we doing? Where are we headed?” And we didn’t like the answer.

Wanna hear the rest of the story? Jump over here. 

The Results of Your Resilience

There are times when we all have those negative emotions, and children and teens need to know that their parents are right there with them, dealing with the same emotions and trying to find ways to biblically respond to difficult situations.

Have you been struggling lately?

  • anxiety
  • frustration
  • anger
  • bitterness
  • fatigue
  • sadness
  • more anxiety

These overwhelming feelings weigh us down, bend our spirits until all we can see is the dark shadows at our feet.

But we don’t have to live in the dark.

No matter the situation, no matter the pain, no matter the trial, God is there with us. He’s sustaining us, He’s caring for us.

And we know that, we just don’t feel it. Praise the Lord, He doesn’t get bothered by my negative feelings like I do, right?

But my family does. When I’m giving in to the discouragement (doesn’t Satan work hard to make that happen!), I’m dragging those around me down, too. And I’m failing to teach my children an important lesson: how to rise above adversity.

And isn’t that a big part of rocking ordinary every day? Using these everyday moments — even the trying ones — to lift up those around me and show them Jesus.

This week, Diane Kummer from HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defence Association) invited me to talk about just that — how to teach our children to rise above adversity. I hope you’ll join us here.

And are you working toward greater resilience yourself? Perhaps my struggle with discouragement and God’s healing truths would encourage you. Pick up a copy of Rocking Ordinary and share the change with your family, your friends, and your community.

How Humbling Yourself In Your Time of Need Changes Everything

Who is your hero? Like, I’m talking about a modern-day hero, someone who’s momming really hard and rocking ordinary in her family, her church, and her community? Someone you secretly motivate yourself to be more like . . . because you see Jesus in her? One of my few heroes today is Tricia Goyer. People call me busy, but I call Tricia busy: a mother of many, homeschool mom, prolific author, active volunteer, mentor of teens . . . it’s easier to list what this woman DOESN’T do. We met on facebook a few years ago, and she’s been a role model to me ever since. In fact, she contacted me when my husband and I were praying about adoption to share the need in US foster children. And she’s been generous with the advice and prayers through our long journey. So when she wrote a book on how to radically live out our faith every day, I became desperate to get my hands on Walk It Out. And when she agreed to visit with us on the blog today, I squealed with delight. It’s an honor to have her with us today.

guest post by Tricia Goyer

The other day I was cooking dinner when my six-year-old son rushed into the kitchen.

Beads of sweat slid down his red face. “I’m so hot. You never get me anything to drink.”

I stirred my spaghetti sauce with one hand as I turned to him. “Excuse me?”

His voice rose in a full, high-pitched whine. “You never give me anything to drink!” He waved his hands and dropped to the floor.

I took in a breath and then released it, telling myself to keep my voice steady, calm. “I’d be happy to get you a drink. I just need you to ask.”

He kicked his foot against the floor. “But I want a drink now!”

“I know you do.” I peered down at him. “And as soon as you ask the right way I’m happy to get some ice cold water.”

            And then my son stood, smiled up at me and asked so sweetly for a drink of water … NOT!

Instead, he whined and fussed more. Finally, I asked him to leave the kitchen.

You know what? He never did ask. In fact, he didn’t get anything to drink until fifteen minutes later when we were sitting down to dinner. He was so bent on complaining and whining—in feeding his discontent—he didn’t want to release his control in order to ask me for help. I would have gladly given him the drink he requested if only he asked in the right away.

Feeding Our Discontent

I wish I could say this is just a little kid issue, but I’ve been there myself. During my teen years, I lived in that storm of discontent. I complained when things didn’t go my way. I worried. I fretted. I fought.

I even took matters into my own hands when I found myself facing an unplanned pregnancy at age 15. My own fears and worries led me to a choice I now regret—I had an abortion.

It wasn’t until years later, at age 17 when I was pregnant again, that things took a turn for the better. It’s then I humbled myself and turned to God. By this point I realized the whining, complaining, and acting out wasn’t getting me what I wanted or needed.

At six months along, I wrapped my arms around my growing stomach and prayed, “Lord, if you can do anything with my life, please do.”

God showed up big time. He not only gave me Himself (which is the best!), He has also led me on a journey where radical, and wonderful things, have happened. This has included marrying a wonderful Christian man, having two more kids, starting a crisis pregnancy center, mentoring teen moms, adopting seven more children, and writing over 70 books!

God didn’t just offer me a cup of cool water when I asked. He opened the floodgates of blessing. But it took me humbling myself and seeking Jesus to meet my needs.

This reminds me of a Scripture I was reading just this morning, “I called on your name, LORD, from the depths of the pit. You heard my plea: ‘Do not close your ears to my cry for relief.’ You came near when I called you, and you said, ‘Do not fear.’ You, Lord, took up my case; you redeemed my life,” Lamentations 5:55-58.

Mumbling, complaining and griping is easy, but they rob us of having our greatest needs met. Yet when we humble ourselves and turn to God, things will change for the better.

When we call to the Lord, He hears us. When we turn to Him, He comes. When we call to Him, He reminds us that He is present and we have no reason to fear. When we place our needs in His court, Jesus redeems our life.

It took a lot to humble me as a teen—two unplanned pregnancies in fact. Yet I’m thankful that I learned back then that when I turn to God He will meet my needs. He will meet them in more wonderful ways than I ever expected.

You can read more about how God can show up radically in your life in the book Walk It Out: The Radical Result of Living God’s Word One Step at a Time.

If you pre-order Walk It Out before October 1, you’ll also receive 30 Days of Prayer as You Walk It Out FREE! Details here:


Can You Get Back on the Bike?

In which I admit I have no idea what I’m doing.

Have you ever stopped riding a bike for several years? I’m guessing you have at some time. Not a lot of Moms get to ride their bikes as frequently as their children do. So we hang up the bicycle in the garage and try to forget the gentle hum of the wheels and the feeling of wind through our hair.

Have you ever gotten on a bike after several years of not riding? Your balance is slightly off, you wobble down the street, and you wonder why the seat feels about seven feet higher off the ground than before. You wonder if you’ll fall and shatter on the road. You pray no cars come down the street while you struggle to control the contraption in the middle of God and everybody. Your child looks on in bemusement or outright ridicules your lack of coordination.

Yes, you can forget how to ride a bike. But it does come back to you after an hour or two, and soon you’re cruising just like back in the good ole’ days.

Life is like riding a bike. Sometimes you can forget how to live.

We get out of practice, out of habit with our routines and responsibilities. We hang up our dreams, our goals, our todo lists in the cellars of our hectic hurrying so we see — and think of — them no more.

We push our best lives aside for days, weeks, even months on end.

This is sometimes good, even necessary.

We might need to focus on today’s crisis, or this week’s blessing, or even this season’s challenge. God may interrupt our plan to insert His own new direction.

The kicker is this: can we get back on the bike?

When it’s time to come back to life, when the day comes for the rubber to meet the road, can we balance it all and make our way, wobbly at first, down the road?

Will our family mock our feeble attempts? Likely. Will our friends smirk? If we laugh with them, sure. Will we look back on these crazy days fondly? Most certainly.

We just can’t fear the wobble. We have to stop looking down at the pavement in fear and look up at the horizon. We have to take a deep breath and try to relax. We have to celebrate our accomplishment if we don’t hit anything or anybody.

This is where I am right now.

After two weeks of serious anxiety about the crazy fall schedule, I have to face our first week of school and first full week of evening activities. And boy, am I scared.

Summer was so much fun. It was easy to concentrate on our newly grown family as we celebrated the addition of twin six-year-olds to the family. Hot days and long sunshine makes me happy. Laying by the pool is my favorite.

We had a couple of months to adjust to the new norm of family-of-eight. We go through 50% more food each week. More shoes, more shorts, more hugs.

No schedules, no commitments, no responsibilities other than get-through-the-day-with-a-smile. The days flew by way too quickly.

It’s time to get back on the bike.

I have written our new schedule in several places around the house because, I kid you not, I cannot for the life of me remember what to do next and what time. It’s just too much. And every evening is different. Gah.

I started off the first day of homeschool only half prepared. I didn’t remember what I had forgotten until each student said, “Mom, where’s this book?” or “Do you have this supply?” or even “Do you know what I am doing in this subject?” A decade and a half of homeschooling, and I completely forgot how to do it! *slap forehead*

I forgot how to play the violin. It is embarrassing. And I have concerts coming up. Cover your ears.

And I can’t write. Seriously, right now, I’m typing everything over and over because not only can I not spell (nothing new there), but I can’t find the letters on the keyboard and can’t put words together like things to say good.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,” my son’s Sunday School verse says. I don’t know what I’m doing, Lord!

Maybe I’ll just do one thing.

Like pushing one pedal at a time. Just one step, one kindness, one hug at a time. One task (not multiple!), one meal, one deep breath.

Like looking up at the horizon. Unto the Lord. Trusting Him to be glorified in my feeble wobbles in the middle of a crazy life.

Whatever I do.

Even if I don’t know what I’m doing.

Wondering if this is all worth it? Feeling like your real life is just too hard, to insignificant, too discouraging? Fighting hurt and rejection? I’m right there with ya’. And I will share my heart with you right here in Rocking Ordinary. Read it now and tell me what you think . . . and how I can pray for you, too.

MasterBooks Applied Engineering Review

When in your homeschool do you teach engineering, anyway? How about junior high? With the right curriculum and engaging material, young students can build an appreciation of God’s creation and it’s application to modern design.

Applied Engineering:

Studies of God’s Design in Nature

Science students love and learn from.MasterBooks provides a unique curriculum for junior high science. This simple course offers a wealth of information students will enjoy.

The complete curriculum comes in four books: a consumable Parent Lesson Planner, Discovery of Design, Made in Heaven, and Champions of Invention.

The Parent Lesson Planner is the heart of the course. It begins with a brief instruction on how to use the full-year program. Next follows the planner, which gives daily assignments with a box for the student to check completion and a place for grades.

A science course students love and learn fromThe bulk of the Parent Lesson Planner, however, is actually a consumable student workbook. Each lesson includes 5-10 brief questions on the day’s reading. The questions are straightforward, and even my writing-adverse student had no problem completing each assignment quickly.

After the worksheets come the quizzes and tests, which are perforated for easy removal if desired. Finally are the answers to the worksheets and tests. My only complaint about the entire course was that these answers were too complete, usually a paragraph long. More concise answers in the key would have made grading a lot faster.

A science course students love and learn fromDiscovery of Design by Donald DeYoung and Derrik Hobbs is the thickest and most imposing of the books. My student was not excited about reading it at first glance. But once he started the course, he grew to love it. Each lesson includes two short pages to read on one interesting topic. It presents a scientific fact and examples from creation or an example of an animal that inspired the design of something commonplace.

Made in Heaven by Ray Comfort and Jeffrey Seto looks, at first glance, like a picture book. My student found the layout and illustrations inviting. Every two-page reading assignment presents more examples of man’s design based on God’s design. The detailed illustrations and charts help students completely understand the correlation.

A science course students love and learn from

Champions of Invention by John Hudson Tiner resembles a thick pamphlet, yet it represents the heaviest reading of the course. The book presents nine short (6-8 page) biographies of scientists. Students read the book a chapter each week in the last quarter of the year and write a brief report on one scientist.

My student loved this course; it was his favorite subject of the year, if not his homeschooling thus far. He looked forward to each day’s assignments. Though he only briefly answered each worksheet question and hardly ever studied for a test or quiz, he scored nearly 100% recall on each of them. I was shocked by the seemingly trivial facts he remembered. He said it was just so interesting it stuck in his mind.

A science course your student will love and learn from

That is the beauty of this course. Finally, students can enjoy science and remember the content simply because they love it. Instead of groaning through a thick text or difficult assignments or grade-crushing tests, they can quickly breeze through a subject and move on to observing what they learned in real life.

In short, Applied Engineering makes true scientists out of homeschool students.

Applied Engineering: Studies of God’s Design in Nature includes a consumable workbook and three non-consumable texts. You can preview each book on the publisher’s website. Though advertised for seventh through ninth grade, the course is more appropriate for junior high than high school study. The economical course is available directly from the publisher for $60.96 (currently on sale for $45.11) or from Amazon. Each book is also available as downloads from the publisher.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this curriculum from the publisher for my own consideration. These opinions are my own. Affiliate links help support this site.