This Month’s Bibliography: Fortresses, Hip Circles, and Hot Cocoa

Laura"This Month's Bibliography", All Posts, Homeschooling, Morning Time, Motherhood

Just as a bibliography lists the works that developed a piece of writing, this post will list some of the things that are enriching and informing my life this month.

I hope you discover something in this collection that is helpful to you and becomes a part of your bibliography, too.

After you’ve read this post, would you share a bit of your own “bibliography” in the comments? I’d love that!

What I’m Reading and Loving:

I’ve been savoring every line in Heather Holleman’s recently released Guarded By Christ.

Heather was our neighbor during our short stint in town and I loved her right away. She loves Jesus with all of her heart; the wisdom and helpfulness of her book are fruit of her fellowship with Christ. I can’t wait to finish my first read-through and share a complete review with you. (P.S. If you haven’t yet read her first book, Seated with Christ, please do! It is mind-shaping and life-changing.

How I’m Keeping Up With the News:

A few months ago, I subscribed to The Skimm, a funky news digest. Every day, I receive a short and sweet (and often sarcastic) summary of the day’s headlines. It keeps me in-the-know about the basics and gives me topics to discuss with Ryan in the evening.

Though its writers seem overly-enthusiastic about alcohol, and it is a far cry from the Washington Post’s literary formality, the Skimm is my speed these days and I like it. Check it out for yourself!

What Moves Me: 

Literally, Dr. Bri from “” gets me moving!

In my former postpartum days, I’d cue up our hardcore T25 DVD’s or jump right into a running program. This time around though, my body is begging me, “oh please don’t!” So, I went on a search for something that would be challenging and nurturing at the same time.

Enter Dr. Bri, whose goal is to make women smile. I know that sounds corny, but she is an encouraging advocate of women’s health, knowing that a healthy woman tends to be a happy woman. She is as bright as sunshine and extremely knowledgeable. (A wonderful combination!) She’s a big fan of hip circles, which – who knew? – make me feel awesome. (Have you tried a few hip circles lately? I bet you’ll love them!)

Dr. Bri’s work-outs are fashioned for the female body’s strengths and potential weaknesses, making special consideration for a woman’s many life-callings and changes, including motherhood.

I especially enjoy her quiet and quick Workout for Naptime. In 15 minutes, I get my blood pumping while taking care of my recovering postpartum body.

What I’m Reading with the Kiddos:

We just love Eleanor Estes’ books and are currently enjoying Ginger Pye – an almost-mystery about 2 endearing children who love, lose, and (spoiler alert) find their beloved Ginger Pye dog.

I have to switch voices and rhythm to tackle Harold Pyle’s The Story of King Arthur and His Knights. Though it is written in a more formal prose, all of the children love it. Pyle writes in such a way that the reader can feel the earth move beneath her feet when the horses and their knights are stampeding onto the battlefield.

What We’re Memorizing: 

The children and I work on memorization every day during Morning Time. We just finished memorizing Psalm 91, which is the perfect dovetail for our Medieval History unit as well as to my personal reading of Guarded With Christ. Now, we’re about 4 verses into memorizing 1 Corinthians 13.

We just finished memorizing “The Jabberwocky” by Louis Carol and “The Tale of Custard the Dragon” by Ogden Nash. I wanted to start the school year off with 2 fun, theatrical poems that appeal to our son as well as our daughters. Boy, do they appeal! The children LOVED learning these two poems and have a hoot acting them out.

We’ve just begun memorizing the introduction to A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. To me, this selection is important for our children to know because it reminds us that, at any point in time, there will be wonderful celebrations and terrible tragedies. God is sovereign over all, and we need not be afraid of, surprised by, or consumed by only half of life’s story.

What I’m Drinking: 

‘Tis the Season for hot chocolate! For the next 6 months! Vivienne made a batch of Alton Brown’s Hot Cocoa mix. We put it in a half-gallon Ball jar and have been enjoying the rich, creamy treat in our favorite mugs. With marshmallows, of course.

Now it’s your turn! Tell me, tell me… what is something special that’s a part of your life this month?? I’d love to know.


When 5 Loaves and 2 Fish Are Not Multiplied

LauraAll Posts, Motherhood, Teaching


We count on God to multiply our work. We recount the story of the loaves and fishes, saying “I’m giving God what little I have, and He will multiply it!”

But what about the times when He does not?

What about the times when the 5 loaves and the 2 fish don’t end up feeding hundreds? What about the times when they only feed 2 people, just like we feared they would?

I love to teach; it fills me with so much joy. I’ve been blessed by the opportunities to teach 4th and 5th grade Sunday School students, Penn State students, Grace Prep high school students, and women’s Bible studies. I’ve taught nursery school children, dolls, and babies. I’ve taught from podiums in large ballrooms, from chalkboards in average classrooms, and from tables in the library as I’ve tutored students one-on-one. I’ve loved every minute of it.

Like Eric Liddell who felt God’s pleasure when he ran, I feel God’s pleasure when I teach.

When I am in the midst of a season of teaching – say, a women’s Bible study – I feel so close to the Lord. I ask Him for guidance during my research and preparation. I ask for His blessing on my students. I ask for His presence during my teaching. And I offer the gift back to Him. I pray,

“Lord, you’ve given me this gift. As I teach, take the glory! Make the most of my small offering.  I am your servant and your child. This is all for you.”

I offer my time, energy, and best abilities to God because I want Him to use it for His glory! I want Him to make the most of it and to multiply it. When He does – and when I see those baskets-full of miraculous surplus – I feel like I’m really serving Him. I feel like He’s really pleased by my offering. And He may be.


But… what about the times when there is no multiplication? No miracle?

What about the times when my time, energy, and best abilities remain as humble and unimpressive as they actually are?

What about the times when the 5 loaves and 2 fish are just… well… 5 loaves and 2 fish?

What about the times when God isn’t using my gift to feed the masses?

What about the times when God is not using your gift?

Sometimes, when I have a quiet moment or two, I acquaint myself with my longing for the rigors of teaching in a formal setting. I long for a classroom of eager students, for research and preparation, for the satisfaction of improving, enlarging, and inspiring people as a teacher.

Sometimes I feel like my “teaching gift” is dormant; that God isn’t using it right now. I tell myself that maybe He will use it again – maybe – in the future.

I pray,

“Lord, you’ve given me this gift. You are not using it in a big spectacular way at this moment, but I will still offer it to You. I will still lay it in your hands. I am your servant and your child. This is all for you.”

As it turns out, He is asking me to teach. Not from a podium, nor a chalkboard, nor a library table. Not even in a Sunday School classroom. But, He’s using it at the kitchen table, on the couch, from the driver’s seat, at the baseball diamond.

Right now, I teach our five precious children at home. Over the years, I’ve struggled to count this as real “teaching” even though every day, I teach my five little students everything good, noble, and praiseworthy that I can think of. I teach them as many practical and helpful life skills that I can. I give 100% of myself to their well-being and their development. I go to bed the way a human should – entirely grateful and entirely exhausted. And I sleep like a champ.

During this season of life, teaching for me is small and humble. I’m not on a hillside with hundreds or thousands of students.

And yet, for every loaf of bread I have – there is a hungry mouth to feed. 

I’ve discovered that sometimes the crowds don’t need my gifts to be multiplied, but instead one person needs the whole meal.

In any circumstances and in all sorts of company, may I offer everything I have to Jesus, trusting Him to use them as He sees best.


We Changed the Way We Talk About Sex with Our Kids

LauraAll Posts, Healthy Living, Learning at Home, Motherhood


When it comes to sex ed, I’m from the last generation of kids that will remember the blush and shock of “the talk”. Back then, the trend was that we heard the word “sex” from our parents during a special one-time conversation with a special one-time book during our early tweens (which didn’t technically exist back then). We didn’t hear the word again for at least five more years when it became more of a reality for our maturing hormonal bodies. Before junior high school, we didn’t tend hear or see the word “sex” anywhere except next to an “M” and an “F” on standardized tests.

These days, the word “sex” is a comfortable part of our every day speech. Even our pastors use the word freely in their prayers and sermons without issuing a warning a week in advance like they did in the olden days. I’ve changed with the times and find it easy to talk about sex with my husband and friends, but I’ve struggled to find my groove when it comes to talking about sex with our children. I know that they will hear and see the word everywhere – from the grocery store to the church pew – but I haven’t known how to use it well in our home, considering their young ages and varied developmental stages.

Two years ago, I stepped into uncharted territory by introducing our 9 year old daughter to the concept of sex very slowly using two fantastic resources that I hope to take off the shelf soon for our next daughter. First, we read a chapter from The Care and Keeping of You each week. Then, we read slowly through Dannah Gresh’s It’s Great to Be a Girl!: A Guide to Your Changing Body, concluding the year with a sweet talk on the front porch about the basics of sex. I’m so grateful to God that this experience was everything I could’ve wanted: it was just the right amount of information at just the right time.

In the 2 short years since we transitioned our oldest daughter from childhood naïveté toward an ongoing understanding of God’s plan for sex, our circumstances have changed dramatically. For starters, all of our younger children are now two years older: they are two years more observant and two years more curious with questions that are two years more difficult. In addition, our surrounding culture has become increasingly more saturated with sex than every before… in just two short years!

If my husband and I don’t talk to our children about sex before they are 5, we could be Person #427 and Person #428 to expose them to the word.

That’s not how we want things to go.

We believe it’s a privilege and responsibility to introduce our children to God’s gift of sex.

We have the opportunity to establish a foundation around the word “sex” that is full of goodness, truth, beauty, strength, dignity, and gratitude long before the world has the opportunity to offer its cheap, degrading, and unstable perversion of it. I want to make the most of our opportunity as parents, but I haven’t quite known how to do it.

Thankfully, I came across the 2-part Revive our Hearts interview with Josh McDowell entitled “Raising Children with a Heart for Purity“. The timing of this helpful interview was so perfect: I listened to it a few times and took copious notes. I jotted down the “7 A’s”, which are building blocks of healthy relationships with our children. I copied down the encouraging words that McDowell spoke to his own children: “You are created in the image of God with infinite value, dignity, and worth!”

I also read Straight Talk with Your Kids About Sex, the book that McDowell wrote with his wife, Dottie.

We’ve immediately applied two significant and helpful lessons from these resources:

1. To build a wonderful, trusting, and honest relationship with our children day by day, and

2. To talk about sex openly and honestly from the time our children are very young, addressing their questions in frequent 1 – 2 minute conversations. “Talk about sex early and often” were McDowell’s words of advice.

McDowell says that we have opportunities to talk with our kids about sex every day: TV commercials, magazines, and social media provide countless relevant topics for conversations.  As the world inundates our children with sexual images and messages, we can make the most of each opportunity by transforming those messages into the building blocks of a healthy and holy understanding of sex.

I discovered that I could apply McDowell’s advice immediately. Every few days, I’ve discovered a simple opportunity to speak openly, honestly, and biblically about sex with my kids – and it has been great.


Here’s one example of a recent conversation: Last month, we listened to the first few chapters of the book of Matthew. One of the kids asked what it meant that “Joseph did not know Mary until after Jesus was born?” I decided to go for it and casually said, “It means that they did not have sex until after Jesus was born so there would be no confusion or doubt that Jesus truly is the son of God.”

This was the first time I used the word “sex” in front of all of the kids, down to the very youngest one. I acted calm-and-collected, but I actually had butterflies in my stomach!

Of course one of them asked, “Sext? What’s that?”

I used McDowell’s simple two-sentence explanation about what “sex” actually is (read the book!), and made sure they heard me say that sex is a good gift from God for a husband and a wife to enjoy together. 

The kids just nodded their heads and moved on to hypothesize what Jesus must have looked like with 100% of Mary’s genes. “Maybe he had the Holy Spirit’s nose?” Meanwhile, I caught my breath! 🙂

Our novice conversations certainly aren’t perfect, but they’re a start. I can’t guarantee that my words will prevent poor decisions or ensure a particular attitude, belief, or behavior from my children, but I feel very good about creating an honest environment in our home regarding such an important part of life. Hopefully, this ongoing conversation will strengthen them to think well about God, sex, and culture.


A Boy’s Thought Life: It’s Like a Race Car Track

LauraAll Posts, Motherhood, Motherhood Hacks


When it comes to teaching our children how to manage their emotions, I’ve always appreciated Rachel Jankovic’s helpful comparison: emotions are like a horse. I think it’s in her helpful book Loving the Little Years that Jankovic writes about teaching her daughters that their emotions are like a horse they’ve been given to ride along a mountain ridge. They must control and guide their emotions just as they would control and guide a horse. One moment of carelessness and they may be slipping down a steep precipice at top speed, but with proper care, they will enjoy the beautiful view and adventure of life. I’ve used this metaphor to help our children understand God’s gift of emotions as well as His gift of self-control.

Recently, I realized that I need a metaphor to teach our children that they can control and choose their thought lives, too.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” – Matthew 22:37

The word-picture came to me one night when our son was struggling with some fearful thoughts from a nightmare that just wouldn’t go away.

Though he is only 5 years old, I want to help him understand that God has given him the responsibility and privilege of controlling his thoughts.

I wanted to show him that God has given him a special power over fearful thoughts.

“…for God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power, love, and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7

When children struggle with nightmares and fears, we can take these opportunities to teach them a life-long spiritual skill: how to choose their own thought life.

If our children can understand and practice this habit regarding childhood nightmares, they’ll be strengthened to face temptation, discouragement, bitterness, lust, jealousy, discontentment, and anger in the future.


When our son comes to me with a quivering lip and shares his fear about a giant lion, or a crumbling building, or whatever may be keeping him awake at night, I tell him that his thoughts are like a race car track.

“It’s like there’s a race track in your brain and you can only drive one “thought car” at a time,” I explain.

As long as he is driving the “giant lion” car around the race track, he’s going to feel afraid. If he knows that the “giant lion” car is not good for him because it’s keeping him awake, he can stop driving that car and choose another one.

I tell him, “There are hundreds of amazing cars you can choose from”: you can drive the baseball car, the friends car, the LEGOS car, the poetry car, the book car, or the song car! Choose any of those fun things to think about and it’ll be like you’re driving an awesome car around the track.  Of course,the best and greatest car to drive at any time – and especially when you are afraid – is the Scripture car. We just memorized Psalm 91, right? Well, I suggest you drive the second verse around your track: “I will say to the Lord, “my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust“.  Drive that car around and around by saying it over and over again until you fall asleep.”

In essence, I’m aiming to teach our children Phillipians 4:8 in real time.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Sometimes when I work with our children through their fearful thoughts, I see amazing growth. I love when I ask, “How’s it going?” And they smile real big and say, “Great! It’s working!” Other times, it seems like we have the same conversation several weeks in a row before we see a breakthrough.

But I’m convinced that as children learn how to choose their thoughts, they’ll experience the joy and peace that comes with it. And, no doubt, they’ll want to maintain the habit down the road.


It’s Like Chocolate Cake for Your Inbox! (You Can Now Subscribe!)

LauraAll Posts, Blogging


Oh, my. Here’s one for the records and for the big name bloggers who preach “numbers don’t count; commitment counts” message.

I currently have 4 subscribers.

And I blog my heart out for them.

It’s no joke! I have 4 wonderful, faithful, sticking-with-me subscribers.

I LOVE those 4 subscribers (hi, there!) and am so grateful for their (your) support and care. (But if it’s just the 4 of you reading this blog regularly, I should write to you by hand and send messages to you in special envelopes or glass bottles.)  As it is, I’m writing in the format of a blog – to the wide world, no less – I kinda shoulda, you know, garner a few more regular readers. (But you faithful 4 are my foundation! The strength and base of my cheerleading pyramid. Thank you!)


(This guy would totally be one of my readers if he could, well, read. He IS matching his book, however, which is big league.)

Considering that I’ve been blogging for years and my hubby is a technical genius, you’d expect us to be on the blogging-ball a bit more than we are. Somehow, over the past few years, we updated something and didn’t transfer my subscribers. We even deleted the “subscribe here” button. We didn’t think much of it because, well, we didn’t have a single free moment to think about it.

But the other night, we sat down side-by-side, breathed, and recreated the “Subscribe” option at

(I am cheering! Loudly! Inside my heart. Yes, you may commence with Fireworks! Dancing! And chocolate cake!)

So, if you find the content here regularly encouraging, inspiring, or helpful, you can now subscribe. (Just think… you’ll be joining the ranks of The Faithful Four subscribers, and that’s something.)

Simply enter your email address over there in the margin and you’ll receive my posts via email.

Who’ll be #5?




Create a Keepsake for Birthdays and Mother’s Days

LauraAll Posts, Motherhood, Motherhood Hacks


The other day, a lovely Kohl’s cashier shared a motherhood tip that I adore and couldn’t wait to share with you.

She is a mother of five children. Hers are all grown now; her youngest son 6’4” and all. She told me that instead of her children making birthday and Mother’s Day cards for her, they would draw pictures and write notes in a special blank book. Over the years, they’ve filled 5 books with their artwork and sentiments. Paging through the books is like walking down memory lane. She said that those books are quite the keepsake that the entire family enjoys thumbing through.

So, instead of piles of homemade cards in an untouched savings box, she has one beautiful time-capsule book.

Don’t you love that?

(Ooo, now the fun part will be finding “*just the right* blank books… one for me and one for Ryan! Do you have any suggestions for blank books that you’ve discovered and love?)


Backyard Baseball: No More Ghost Runners (Motherhood Hack)

LauraHealthy Living, Motherhood, Motherhood Hacks, Physical Activity


Recently, the kids and I have been playing baseball after lunch.

There are only two people on each team, unless I’m wearing the baby in the Bjorn and our 2-year old decides to be my running partner. Then it’s 2 vs. 4, but the team of 2 definitely has the advantage over the bobbling team of 4.

Within minutes of “Play ball!” there’s a player on First and a player on Second and no one to bat them home.  In days gone by, we’d send the player on Second back home and create a ghost runner on Second. You, too? But this stinks because then the ghost runner gets all the thrill of rounding the bases and tagging home plate! What’s the fun of that? (Who invented ghost runners, anyway? They are the most confusing things in history. They get all tangled up in themselves and I can never keep them straight.)

SO… I thought of something to hack backyard baseball.


We put a bat at every base. Then, whoever is “up”, bats from the base he is already on. The pitcher and the outfielder simply rotate and wah-lah, the field rotates, too. The Batter swings, hits, and both players advance to the next base(s).


Here’s Kai batting from Second. See if you can follow this: if he strikes out here, it counts as an out, but he stays on base. (Lia is waiting on First base and will bat next, hopefully sending Kai to Third… or even Home!) If he begins to run to Third and a Superstar Mother with a baby-in-a-Bjorn happens to tag him out, he’s out as a runner and heads back to Home plate to try again.

(Don’t worry, you’ll totally understand what I mean once you’re out there with the kiddos.)


We simply alternate between the batters, pitching to them at whichever base they land upon. There are 3 outs and all of the other rules apply.

We think that playing with a bat at every base is just more fun, quicker, less confusing, and provides more opportunities to pitch, bat, and run!



Backyard baseball at its best. 🙂


Narration and Watercolors: A Daily Ritual

LauraAll Posts, Homeschooling


One of the things I discovered this summer was the beauty of coupling daily narration with watercolor painting.  It has become one of our favorite times of day.

I typically don’t incorporate painting in our daily routine, but I was greatly inspired by some Waldorf and Charlotte Mason blogs.  (Although… type “Waldorf watercolor painting” into Pinterest and you’ll see our table-scape is much simpler than theirs, and good-grief, some kids out there can paint. But we’re doing our best, and growing each day. I adore the idea of lighting the table with beeswax candles like the Waldorfs, but I cannot imagine adding flames to our elbow-bumping, water-swashling, reaching-across-the-table-to-swirl-a-paintbrush-in-another-person’s-perfect-shade-of-teal experience.)

When the littles are napping, I gather the three older children at the table and read to them: this year, our stack of books contains history, a read-aloud, poetry, and fables.

This is a joy to each of us! I could not foresee what a peaceful pleasure this would be to each one of us.  Our sixth grader is the one who is really loving it: we’re reading aloud from Sonlight Core C, which is geared more toward our third grader, so the added challenge of water-colors appeals to her very much and challenges her to apply the text in a deeper way.


Here are a couple of tips that have given us a smooth start and (I think) a promising future.

The Key: Make the process as simple and easy as possible.

Organize your supplies: With just a few weeks under our belt, we’ve figured out which supplies we need to store right by the table. We have a cabinet that holds it all: brushes, pencils, and paints sit on top; paper is stacked inside; and plastic placemats are tucked underneath. That way, while I bring the stack of books to the table, one child distributes the placemats, another fills the water bowls, and a third grabs the paints and paintbrushes. Clean-up is just as easy.





Simplify your system: At first, I turned the children loose on their blank paper while I plowed ahead with the reading. But then I noticed that while I was in the midst of reading Window to the World’s heart-rending description of homeless children, the painters were digging out pencils to write their narration for Red Sails to Capri next to their freshly painted seascape. Instead of learning how they could pray for the millions of children who have no home, they were wondering how to spell “Monsieur Jacques”.

So, we recognized that we need to follow an intentional order of operations:

  1. Listen to the first reading that I’d like you to narrate and paint today. I select the portion that I want the children to narrate and paint, and read that first while they have a little non-messy afternoon snack.
  2. Narrate aloud. (Malachi starts things off since he’s the youngest. We add details as we move up the ranks to the 6th grader.)
  3. Write down the narration or a quotation on watercolor or card-stock paper. (I write Malachi’s for him and help the girls with questions in spelling or syntax. As often as possible, I model searching the text for the answers. For example, when Lia wanted to paint a picture of Monsieur Jacques’ funny daydream about an entire family named “Capri,” we found the passage in the book so she could copy the names precisely.)
  4. Paint! (We’re off! The kids begin painting an illustration to their narration, and I continue reading aloud…)


At the end of the hour, we lay the day’s paintings on the kitchen counter to dry (it really doesn’t take very long), and we clean up the paints. So far, I’ve been stacking the paintings in my ever-growing “finished assignments” tray. I plan to laminate them back-to-back or stick them in page protectors, then add them to their portfolios.

As with almost anything, I recommend scouting out a “this works for us” system asap. This will increase your pleasure as well as your odds of continuing. Here’s to creating favorite times of day…


Kids Laugh A Lot, Too

LauraAll Posts, Healthy Living, Homeschooling, Laugh About, Marriage, Motherhood

This is part 2 of my previous post; it’s the other side of the childhood coin. Sure kids cry a lot, but they also laugh a lot… and it is wonderful, isn’t it? There’s nothing like a child’s laughter.

I often think…

Our kids laugh a lot.


Their laughter is glorious, can’t-get-enough-of-it-laughter. Why, just today, the kids were watching Ice Age, giggling uncontrollably at Sid and his antics. I wished I could bottle their contagious, innocent, beautiful laughter and treasure it forever.

At the lunch table today, they were laughing so hard and I had to join in. But, now only a few hours later, I’m wondering, what were we hooting about this time? Shoot. I told myself to savor it, to remember it, but I’ve already forgotten. What was it that inspired the best sound in all the world? Because I find myself in this forgetful predicament too often, I try to jot these things down in a memory book. Then we can look back over it and laugh all over again. As a family, we replay the funny mannerisms, the homemade jokes, and every golden moment of the amazing toddler years when everything a child says is profound and hilarious at the same time. (How do they do that?)


I write as many of these funny moments down so they become our lore, our tradition, our fabric. Laughter is a healing balm in life, a gift from God that helps us to survive.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine…” Proverbs 17:22

Our family-laughter is important to us and it makes us who we are: not making fun of someone we love, but making fun with them.

Years ago, I heard that laughter bonds people together like nothing else. I believe it! Laughter helps us to put our guards down, to stand shaking-shoulder to shaking-shoulder, to smile unreservedly at one another, and to consider ourselves the best of friends.

When a friend of mine was heading off on her honeymoon, she asked me to pray that she and her groom would laugh a lot together. What a request! And how wise to desire something that would disassemble borders, warm coldness, and join the two-become-one deeply and joyfully.

Would you pray that we laugh a lot together?


When our home bubbles over with laughter – and I’m glad to say it often does – we are rich and strong together.  The very pillars and foundation of our home are strengthened by our children, who create and share laughter so easily. After all, it’s their mother tongue: they’ve been laughing since before they could speak, or walk, or run.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine…” Proverbs 17:22

As a family, we’ve loved the Kid Snippet videos and have laughed until tears rolled down our cheeks. We’ve loved the classic Smile! Your On Candid Camera videos, like this one. Of course, there are hilarious movies that we’ve enjoyed together like Ice Age, Ice Age 2, and recently Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

This year, I’m building into our family with more laughter.

Here’s how: I’m intentionally bringing it to the dinner table. I have the privilege of enjoying the kids’ shenanigans over lunch, but at dinner time, Daddy’s home and we’re all together. May prayer, food, and laughter bond us together this year, and next year, and the next one after that.

My plan is to pass our family joke book around the table once a week or so. I plan to print out church bulletin bloopers, some elephant jokes – which happen to be my personal favorites – and some classic (and kid-friendly) Jack Handy quotes (also, my cup of tea). We’ll see where this takes us and we will celebrate, welcome, and increase laughter in our home! Cheers!

“A cheerful heart has a continual feast!” Proverbs 15:15

What makes you and your kids laugh? We’d love to know! 🙂


“Kids Cry A Lot”: and What the Gospel Has to Do With It.

LauraAll Posts, Motherhood


“Our kids cry a lot.”

That’s what came to my mind yesterday, after the third episode of tears in a matter of minutes.

I often tell myself, “I can’t stand all of this crying!”

(It’s true. Life here is not all Playmobil and bell-ringing.)

Kids cry a lot.

Especially the little ones. In fact, the littler a person, the more he or she cries. All of the books say that newborns cry for 3 hours a day. (3 hours a day!) I think the books should mention that this does not suddenly go away when Baby digs into his first birthday cake. Toddlers rival that “3 hour” statistic with vigor! Quite honestly, daily crying doesn’t really stop until… until…

Well, I guess the books should just say, “Children cry a lot.”

They cry when things don’t go their way.

They cry when they are tired, when they are hungry, when they are thirsty.

Children cry when they fall. And they fall a lot.

They cry when they run into things. And they run into things a lot.

They cry when they see a spider, or a mascot, or a stray cat.

They cry when math is difficult, when reading is difficult, when cleaning is difficult.

Children cry when they’ve been wrongly accused and they cry when they’ve been rightly accused.

They cry when they are wet, or cold, or hot.

They cry when someone has hurt them. They cry when they’ve done the hurting.

They cry when they don’t want to leave. They cry when they do want to leave.

They cry when they want mommy and when they don’t want mommy.

They cry when they want to do something “by myself!” and they cry when they need help.

Children cry when they want something that belongs to someone else. They cry when someone else wants something that belongs to them.

They cry when they must wait and they cry when they must come immediately.

Sometimes, it seems as if children cry and cry and cry.


I compiled this list when I was laying in bed last night, shedding a few of my own exhausted tears into the pillow.

I reflected on the validity of the experiences that cause children to cry. And I realized this:

Children cry because life is hard.

Life is hard from the very beginning – from the first breath. Life challenges every fiber in us and exposes our every weakness. And because of that, we cry.

Children cry because they are honest: childhood is not all roses. It may be full of beautiful and charming experiences, but it’s also full of many disappointments and tensions.

In childhood, our needs, instincts, and ideals are threatened more fiercely than in any other season of our lives.

Our fears are born with us and they loom before us, at their largest and most powerful when we are at our smallest and weakest.

Too often, our tender skin breaks open. Too often, our tender hearts break open.

I want to change my response to all of the crying.

I want to transform my muttered, “I can’t stand all of this crying,” to a resolved, “I can stand all of this crying with God’s help and for His glory.”

The transformation will happen as I look to the gospel, discovering what God thinks about the crying that punctuates our days.  Gospel treasures will strengthen me to bear up under all of the tears – theirs and my own.

  • Jesus cried perfectly, to redeem our imperfect tears.Jesus always cried for the right reasons: His sorrows were perfectly aligned with God’s heart. This was for our sake: that His righteous tears would be imputed to those who believe in Him. Every time our children cry out of stubbornness, selfishness, or anger, we can thank Jesus for crying perfectly for our sakes.
  • God gave us the ability to cry; He has good purposes for it.

    God beckons us to Himself through our instinct to cry. He asks for our tears, He welcomes our complaints, and He moves Heaven and earth to bear our sorrows.

    The psalmist wrote what has been true of billions of people throughout history: “This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.” Psalm 34: 6

    Crying is an appetite that God gave us so that we would come near to Him. Nothing on earth satisfies our tears the way God does. Tears are our piece of a puzzle that is completed only by God’s listening ear and comforting presence. When we cry, we reveal that we were made to be comforted, befriended, loved, and helped by someone perfectly merciful and good.

    When we cry, we demonstrate the gospel: things on earth are not alright, but that they will be some day.From my child’s first cry – and all of the crying in between – may I usher her towards her Heavenly Father, who sees and cares for every sorrow. Every day, over and over again, may I see my children’s tears as countless opportunities to point my little ones to Jesus, the One who deliberately assures us that He will personally wipe every tear from our eyes.

  • God entrusts adults with the ability to comfort children for His sake.“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly... “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  (excerpts from Romans 12)

Who is “lowlier” than a child? Children rely on adults for every earthly need. They desperately need us to associate with them in the midst of their weakness – because of their weakness. They need us to kneel down, look them in the eyes, and help them. Do they need food? Sleep? Do they need prayer? Do they need us to teach them a virtue like self-control, kindness, or obedience? Do they simply need our affection?

Though they are not our enemies, children are hungry and thirsty. They need us to overcome our own self-preservation and comfort to feed and help them. They are facing evil in themselves and in the world around them – from sickness to jealousy, from hunger to selfishness – with naiveté and tender hearts.

May God give us the grace to resist selfishness, busy-ness, and irritability so that we may see our children’s tears as an opportunity serve Christ by serving His precious children.

  • In order to answer this call to persevere and love my children when they cry, I must plan ahead to be strong, patient, and faithful.

    Jesus not only cried perfectly, but He also comforted cryers perfectly for our sakes and as an example for us. Part of His ministry was handling His own body well: Jesus slept, hiked the mountains, prayed, spent time with friends, and pursued solitude so He could comfort, feed, and heal people – over and over again. Like Jesus, I find that sleep, exercise, friends, solitude, and prayer fuel me for a day of service, too.

    Other God-given gifts strengthen me to face a day of tears as well: things like soothing music, small ice packs at-the-ready in the freezer, bandaids upstairs and downstairs, a consistent and simple schedule, and wholesome food are daily resources. I try to think ahead about the things that tend to weaken our specific children and address those needs before it’s too late. But many times, I am unable to prevent or stop the tears.

    And that is when we turn again, and again, and again to our patient Heavenly Father. And we cry.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (from Revelation 21)