If you were a fly on the wall at my house, you'd be sure to hear your share of fussing, complaining and whining. Maybe even a slammed door or two.

But enough about me.

In the pressure cooker that's parenting, I have exploded more than once. And it's harder to clean up than spaghetti night with a toddler.

So after years spent indulging in fruitless self-flogging, I finally let go of my obsession with getting it all 'just right.' I confess...I'm not a perfect parent.

Whew. That felt good.

Now, when my son saunters in with his 42nd tardy of the school year, I let it go. When I hear myself hollering "Whatever!" at my teenage daughter, I move on.

Having it all together is overrated anyway.

And I've determined not to waste God's grace. I'll never get it just right. You won't, either. So read on, sister. If you see a little of yourself in me, I hope it helps to know that you're not alone. Nope. If you're a mom, face it. You're never, ever alone.

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Cute Kid Quotes, a Contest and Cold Hard Cash ...

A couple of summers ago, we took a family vacation to visit relatives in Iowa. While waiting to board our plane home, my daughter bought a magazine.

In a huge Hannah Montana phase at the time, she was especially impressed by an article about Miley Cyrus.

“Mom! It says here that Miley Cyrus got to sing for the First Lady!”

Micah, about six at the time, was suddenly riveted. His eyes got as big as saucers. “You mean Miley Cyrus got to sing for Eve??”

Kids are always saying funny stuff. The above story is one of my favorites from my own family. (There’s no great spiritual point there, but it does include a Bible character.)

Summer is upon us again and our adorable children will be around the house more – a lot more. And come July, they might not seem quite so adorable.

A wise friend once told me that when our children are being especially difficult, it helps to think back at times when they were doggone cute.

Maybe remembering the good times will help you sustain you through the inevitable urges to ship them off to summer camp – in Siberia.

So come on! Share a funny experience or quote from your own family history.

I will pick one commenter at random to receive a $20 e-gift card from Barnes & Noble so you can keep those kiddos busy with some summer reading. (Or indulge in some well-deserved escapism yourself.)

I'll announce a winner on Tuesday, June 2nd.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Field trips are not my thing. A “good” mom isn’t supposed to say that, is she? Not out loud anyway. Oops.

Something about field trips challenges my control-freak tendencies. Large groups of children being released from confinement is just against all the laws of nature. At the end of the day, I’m the one who needs a chaperone. Or medication.

But, each and every time, with a trembling hand and beaded brow, I check ‘Yes’ to the “Can you chaperone?” box on the permission form.

My latest adventure was to the Museum of Science and Industry. Squirelly third graders + hands-on, interactive environment? Nope, no chance anything can go wrong there.

As we looked at the map, my motley crew (all boys) simultaneously pointed at the same spot. “Let’s go there!”

“There” was a scary place that could have only been conceived by a brilliant group of non-parents – “Kids in Charge.”

Think complete and utter chaos. Screaming. Shrieking. Germs. Lots of them. And is if that wasn't enough, the nearby gift shop sold laser pointers that doubled as electric shock devices. They were in hog heaven.

I received major props from my boy for being the only mom to brave the "Bed of Nails." I'm so cool.

My son and the boy who had been his nemesis for most of the year (also in my group) bought these necklaces ("Best" and "Friends") and vowed to never take them off. Didn't see that coming.

Yep, "Kids in Charge" makes for one wild, unpredictable ride. When I let my kids be "in charge" of my contentment and emotions, it's a wild ride, too. Kids delight and disappoint. They thrill and make you want to throw up.

It's always dangerous when I allow any human to be in charge of my peace, especially a hormone-driven, moody adolescent or a willful nine-year-old.

Peace is a choice. Every day, sometimes every moment, I have to claim it, regardless of my circumstances or my feelings. Life, with or without kids, will challenge it at every turn.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33
Now that sounds like Someone I can trust to be in charge.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Help save Meikah's life ...

When I blog here, I always hope that my words might make a difference in someone's life. Today, I actually have the opportunity to do something that could help save someone's life.

A family in my church has a sweet little baby named Meikah Heaton. She's just six months old. Isn't she beautiful?

Unfortunately, Meikah was born with a faulty liver. Without a transplant, she will die. The cost of a transplant is approximately $100,000.

A transplant from a live donor is Meikah's best chance for a successful outcome. A live donor can give part of his/her liver to Meikah. This reduces the risk of rejection. However, the family's insurance will not cover this.

The family, as well as our church and community, is working hard to raise the money needed to help save Meikah's life.

If you would like to help Meikah, you can donate through the Children's Organ Transplant Association at www.cotaformeikahh.com. Thank you!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My Idol? Performance

On the eve of the latest American Idol coronation, I began thinking about what the AI Judges might be like as parents. (Cue dream sequence …)

The Performance:
Johnny takes the stage to show off his newly acquired bicycle riding skills. He starts off strong, but suddenly careens out of control, taking out Ryan Secrest in the process. Undaunted, he gets back up, pedals vigorously (though wobbling wildly) and even manages to pop a wheelie to impress Simon.

The Critique:

Randy: Okay, so check it out, check it out … Dawg, dawg … that was just awright for me. I mean you started out okay, but that crazy move with Ryan in the middle? I didn’t get it. It just didn’t do it for me. Hey, just trying to keep it real.

Kara: Well, I appreciate the effort, but I just didn’t see any artistry in your performance. You really didn’t show us what kind of bicyclist you’re going to be.

Paula: I could really see that magic quality in your pedaling. But you’re like a butterfly still trapped in his cocoon … No, I believe you remind me of a newborn colt …. I love puppies.

Simon (rolling his eyes): Look. Let’s be honest. That was a complete and utter disaster. The only good part was when you took out Secrest.

Not a pretty picture.

But if I’m honest, I have to admit that my kids have been the unfortunate recipients of the same kinds of scathing critiques and useless blather.

I hate this about myself, but of all the judges, I probably most resemble Simon. There’s a part of me that wants everything and everyone to be ‘perfect.’

One of the biggest traps I fight to avoid as a parent is valuing performance over process and progress.

Think about it: Why isn’t American Idol just one week? Why not crown a winner after the first performance? Why spend all the time and effort of an entire five month ordeal?

Well, aside from the almighty advertising dollar, a tremendous amount of growth and maturity occurs over that time. The contestants make mistakes. They fail and experience disappointment. They discover what works and what doesn't. They slowly develop their talents and discover who they are.

In other words, they learn.

My children aren’t so different. They fail. They make mistakes. They take one step forward and two steps back. Just like the performers, each experience causes them to stretch and grow.

I am reminded of a lyric from the great songstress and theologian Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana: “Ain’t about how fast I get there, Ain’t about what’s on the other side, It’s the climb.”

When I praise and value my kids’ progress and let them learn from their mistakes, I give them the same kind of grace and strength I get from my Father. That will always makes them winners.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Tweet, tweet, yawn ...

Call me a twit, but I don’t get the Twitter craze.

At some point I will no doubt get sucked into this latest cyberspace phenomenon, but at the moment, this bird is singing her own tune.

Here’s my problem … My morning of twittering would go something like this:

6:00 a.m. Alarm goes off. Groaning … scolding myself for not going to bed earlier.
6:15 Showering and dressing. Not finding anything to wear. (Daughter probably stole all the good stuff (see earlier post).
6:45 Waking up son
6:50 Waking up son again
7:00 Ripping blanket off son (in love, of course)
7:05 Spraying son with water spray bottle (it’s all about the love)
7:06 Waking up daughter
7:15 Listening to husband complaining about how wife and daughter have used up all the hot water
7:17 Making breakfast
7:30 Telling son in a firm voice (I am not yelling, Micah!) that we have to leave
7:42 Pulling out of driveway, ranting about how only supernatural intervention will enable us to be on time.

Riveting, isn’t it? Now you can just repeat that with slight variations for the next 365 days. Do you see my point here?

My kids’ lives, on the other hand, are becoming more and more interesting. The older they get, the more control they have over their own choices and the more potential for problems and danger. The pull of peers begins to trump the pleas of parents.

It can feel downright disturbing.

I want to know their thoughts and status, but they’re reluctant to Twitter also. Messages like these could be quite useful…

9:03 Thinking about cheating on a test
1:13 Hanging out with a kid you wouldn’t approve of
2:17 Making trouble at school

Tweenage children rarely volunteer this kind of insightful information. Sigh.

By far, the most useful Twittering, though, comes from the One who knows them best.

When I give up my need to control and ask Him to expose their covert activities and help me sense when they’re going off track, I get exactly the information I need.

And I’m able to intercept a number of questionable “movements.”

The One who made them knows exactly what they need. If only I trust Him enough to “Follow.”

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The shirt heard 'round the world (or at least the neighborhood)...

I’m not a shopaholic kind of gal. I love new clothes. I just don’t like to spend money. And you really can’t have one without the other. At least not without going to jail.

But every now and then I indulge myself, throw caution to the wind and tear me a path from Marshalls to Macy’s. Mother’s Day was just such a day. I emerged with some darn trendy duds, I must say.

Apparently my daughter thought so, too. And that’s where all the trouble began. It’s a story of betrayal and loss. You might want to grab a Kleenex.

I took my son to school on Monday and returned home just as my daughter was getting ready to walk to the bus stop.

“I’m going through the garage, Mom. See ya!”

Going through the garage, huh? My mom radar went into overdrive. I met her in the driveway and she was wearing, to my horror, one of my brand new, American Eagle shirts (see photo)! The nerve!

I went a little crazy. No, alot crazy.

Me: “I haven’t even worn that! What are you thinking? You didn’t even ask! Go and change that right now!”

But the bus was coming … my hands were tied. Which was all part of her diabolical plan.

Molly: “Chill out, Mom. It’s only a shirt.”

Me: “Chill out?! Chill out?! I will not ‘Chill out!’

To emphasize my point, I stomped inside and slammed the door. I’d show her who the adult was in this house.

I immediately called my husband to share this injustice.

After I poured out the whole shocking tale, he lovingly said …

Hubby: I don’t get it.

Me: What do you mean you don’t ‘get it’?? The first time you wear something new is like… well, sacred. She robbed me of that! I am SO mad! SO mad!

Hubby: Um… I think you need to call one of your girlfriends.

I always thought I was the kind of mom who would give her kids the shirt off her back. Apparently not. At least not one I haven’t worn first.

P.S. I’m still working on that whole ‘sense of entitlement’ thing…. (see earlier post)

Check out my guest column ...

I have a guest column today on the website Blogging Bistro, a fabulous site with a wealth of blogging tips, resources and information. To read my column: click


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Open mouth, insert tram ...

I’ve always been a sucker for theme parks. Screaming children. Overpriced food. A 90-minute wait for a 30-second ride. Blazing heat. What’s not to love?

I grew up in Florida. Theme parks were a big part of my childhood and now of my own kids’. One recent little gem won’t be making the family scrapbook, however.

This Spring Break we announce we're going to Busch Gardens. My nine-year-old is thrilled. My 12-year-old thinks we’ve dreamed this up as some kind of torture to make her life as miserable as humanly possible.

It’s been a long day. I’ve reached my limit of adolescent “episodes.” I’m grumpy. I. want. to. go. Now.

About a million people are waiting for the tram to take us back to our cars, but we’re first in one of the lines. Hallelujah.

Here’s how it’s supposed to work: Each line of people matches up to a row of seats in the tram.

To my complete horror, the tram stops and the line of people next to me rush the tram and take our row of seats!

Uh-huh. Not going to happen. Momma’s got an attitude and she’s not going to be denied.

I spy one seat left in “our” row. It will be mine. Oh yes, it will be mine.

I jockey for position and leave the husband of this family of “row-thieves” standing by the tram.

Apparently I decide I’m going to make this family leave their patriarch behind. And at that moment it seems perfectly rational to leave my own family behind because that is “my” seat.

And I don’t even have the keys to the car.

The exchange went something like this:

Row thief wife: “Um, that’s my husband. He needs that seat.”

Me: “Well, we were first in line and now we’re going to have to wait! (while rolling my eyes, stepping off the tram and turning on my heel in a snit.)

Molly (laughing hysterically): Who are you, Mom?!

Micah (my son): Mom, what was that??

My husband: The woman obviously didn’t know she was messing with The Polecat! (his affectionate name for me when I completely lose it and do or say something irrational or feisty or both.)

A sense of entitlement. It’s the very thing I hate to see in my children. But here I was acting like a pouty princess because I didn’t get my way.

As parents, we have opportunities to deny our “rights” everyday. We have to give up what we’re “entitled” to in order to be a servant to our children.

I sacrifice for them and expect they’ll show me love and respect. But sometimes I get attitude or apathy. Backtalking and bellyaching. There are no guaranteed rewards. Just Christ’s instruction to obey, to serve, to stick with it, regardless of the outcome. Regardless of how I feel or what I think I’m entitled to.

Each and every time we do, we give our children a little earthly glimpse of God’s unconditional love.

Jesus is our example. “He made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!” (Phil. 2:7-8)

He became nothing, giving up His rights as the Son of God to serve us. And I can’t shut my big mouth and give up my seat on the tram.

Monday, May 4, 2009

I've got it covered, Dr. Dobson...

Little Miss Know-It-All. Yep. That was me. I had this parenting thing covered. Until my oldest hit about three, I was sickeningly self-righteous. How bad was it?

Imagine this: I’m at a friend’s baby shower. My firstborn, Molly, is just a few months old. The mom-to-be opens all the normal goodies … adorable outfits, burpie cloths, diapers.

She then opens a book by James Dobson… parenting guru… Focus on the Family … Ph.D. You know, the James Dobson.

Want to know my first thought? “I don’t need that.” No, I’m not kidding. I was a mother for a whopping three months and declared myself wiser than Dr. Dobson. Good grief. How could I stand myself?

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

It didn’t take long for me to figure out I wasn’t such an “ace” at this parenting thing. I spent years, though, still trying to act like I had it all figured out.

Somewhat of a challenge when you’re chasing your three-year-old who’s running with abandon up and down the aisles of Books-A-Million screeching like a banshee.

Or when your little boy walks out of the church bathroom into the sanctuary with his underwear around his ankles.

Talk about exposure.

Nope, 12 years later, I’m not thinkin’ “I don’t need that” so much anymore. In fact, Dr. Dobson, if you’re listening … I’d gladly build a wing for you onto my home.

I don’t have all the answers. But I know the One who does.

And He does live in my house and is on call 24/7. Heaven knows I need Him.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Welcome to my blog!

You know the only people who are always sure about the proper way to raise children? Those who've never had any.
-- Bill Cosby

They say confession is good for the soul. It has been for mine.

I hope that my revelations here are encouraging and healing for yours, too.

Parenting is a tough gig. It’s why some species eat their young.

But the rewards … well, there’s nothin’ like them. They’re just few and far between sometimes. And the dry spells can seem longer than a two-year-old’s temper tantrum in the middle of Walmart.

Going it alone can send a weary parent careening over the brink of insanity.

You can count on me to be here with you, blogging away, just as long as my kids keep driving me to my knees.

Plan to tune in for a very long time.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Reviews and Giveaways

Click here and follow the instructions to enter this giveaway!
Giveaway ends: 5/10/10

Click here and follow the instructions to enter this book giveaway.
Giveaway ends: 5/6/10.
Dani_Z from Great Expectations in Motherhood is the winner, selected by Random.org!

To enter, leave a comment on this post:
Giveaway Ends: 1/31/10
Nocona is the winner of the giveaway, chosen by Random. org!
Congratulations, Nocona!

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Melinda's Articles

"Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight."
Hebrews 11:34

Melinda loves to write about how God takes her weaknesses and uses them to instruct and empower her. Through her insights and vulnerabilty, she desires to provide encouragement for other women on their journey.
Below are a few of her articles...

In Touch Magazine:
Critic's Choice

More coming soon....



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For many years, Melinda was enslaved to people pleasing and perfectionism. It created an overwhelming pressure of obligation that snuffed out any aroma of God's grace. Fortunately, He was not content to leave her in bondage.

God used Melinda's love for her growing family, along with some often painful life lessons, to liberate her from the prison of people pleasing. Although she will always be "in recovery," her missteps are no longer a source of condemnation but an opportunity to experience God's grace and mercy.

Now she writes, speaks and blogs about her struggles and victories in life and parenting --hoping it will set other women free as well.

Melinda has a degree in Mass Communications and has worked as a freelance writer for more than 15 years. She has written for a variety of Christian publications and websites, include CBN.com, Focus on the Family's Focus on Your Child newsletters, Clubhouse and LifeWay's Journey: A Woman's Guide to Intimacy with God. She also has an article in the upcoming April 2010 issue of In Touch, Charles Stanley's ministry magazine.

She lives in Florida with her husband, Mike, and children, Molly, 13, and Micah, 10.
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