The Twelve Days of Christmas with our Gang

The house is quiet & after a whirlwind two weeks, we are re-grouping after the family has been here from out-of-state.  Did you say your Christmas is only a couple of days of kids over or possibly running from parent to parent?  Well, ours is quite different.  We are blessed to get to have about 7 to 10 days of Christmas and fun—from morning to night.  We have a blast.  We laugh at what is said and done by our littles as well as us tired adults.  We hug & snuggle.  A lot.  We play playdough, games, crafts, and make-believe.  We don’t have much screen time.  And the rest….  What’s the rest, you say?  Well, with four kids under five, here is the lowdown:


·     Twelve cryers crying (yes, this tends to happen -- a lot.  And when it does, four kids crying make us adults start crying too which soon adds up to twelve)

·     Eleven diapers diaping (didn’t know that is a word?  Well it is now.)

·     Ten legs a-leaping (to get over all the little toys & kids)

·     Nine babies dancing (okay, so some of us are big, but we areknown to break out into a  dance party or parade when “Jingle Bells” came on the stereo…. And let’s say Georgie has a lot more groove than his British daddy!)

·     Eight maids a-milking (Okay, we are big supports nursing in our family.  And sorry, my girl mamas, you aren’t maids & there aren’t eight of you! Even with pairs.  TMI?)

·     Seven cousins swimming (lots of baths)

·     Six sneezes spraying (oh, yeah—you can’t have this many days of Christmas without some colds)

·     Five stomach flus (I wish this wasn’t true but yes, several of us got a 24-hour bug)

·     Four stalling beds (who wants to quit the party to go to bed?  I did!!)

·     Three clenched hands (it ishard to share sometimes although they did amazing)

·     Two baby plugs (don’t EVER lose the important paci’s!!  Especially Georgie’s!)

·     And a heart full more than I ever dared dream.


Thank you God for memorable and precious moments with Charlie, Olivia, Georgie, and Caleb.  Oh, and my girls and their men too.  They’re pretty special as well.  

And Papa and this Nana wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

Georgie—Jesus’ Birthday celebration.

Georgie—Jesus’ Birthday celebration.


Charlie, 4, celebrating Jesus birthday.

Charlie, 4, celebrating Jesus birthday.

Rachel, my oldest, with Georgie who is 20 months.

Rachel, my oldest, with Georgie who is 20 months.

Nana with Caleb (7 months) and Olivia (3).

Nana with Caleb (7 months) and Olivia (3).

Yes, we are a Clark Griswald family….

Yes, we are a Clark Griswald family….

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Flexibility is key, girls!  Yes, my house was always a mess… we’d try to pick up some every night but I just had to not worry about it & focus on the people!

Flexibility is key, girls! Yes, my house was always a mess… we’d try to pick up some every night but I just had to not worry about it & focus on the people!

3 Surprising Reasons to Initiate Sex With Your Man

Today I have re-posted from the blog of a favorite author of mine, Shaunti Feldhahn.  Tim and I made her aquaintance several years ago when we had her speak at Parkview.  Marriages, even Christian marriages, are in desperate need of help today.  So today I wanted to share this important blog from Shaunti:  

By Shaunti Feldhahn 

Although this article is for women, I’m sure some astonished men are looking in, and asking, “What do you mean why you should initiate sex?!” To guys, the answer is completely obvious! It reminds me of that line from the movie City Slickers when Billy Crystal’s character tells his friend, “Women need a reason to have sex. Men just need a place.”

So ladies – why?

Well, the most “obvious” reason is the one guys are thinking of: pleasure. And women think of that too, of course! But I’ve been researching men and women with thousands of surveys for years now, and it is clear that, statistically, although that reason is front and center for most men, it is often not front-of-mind for the busy, tired, distracted wife and mom. In our research about women for For Men Onlyin fact, we found that the vast majority of women simply aren’t thinking about sex (and thus the pleasure of sex) all the time, the way most men are.  So sex just doesn’t happen as much as it might otherwise.

Which is quite a shame when you think about it!

So ladies, here are three other reasons to get you going:

1. The more you have sex, the more you’ll be thinking about having sex. 

It’s all about testosterone. We women have testosterone, too, just not as much as men. And neurologists and other research scientists have found that if you get out of the habit of having sex, your testosterone levels drop and you want it less.  But if you have sex at least once a week, your testosterone levels rise and you actually want it more.  Although there are certainly exceptions, men’s higher T-levels are why they tend to be thinking about and wanting sex more than their wives.

If you have sex at least 1x/week, your testosterone levels rise and you actually want it more. 

So if you’re the one with the lower desire, you can improve your libido simply by having sex once a week or more.

Try it! You’ll like it!

2. When you initiate sex, it deeply comforts and affirms your husband. 

When you initiate sex, it deeply comforts and affirms your husband. 

We women have no clue how much self-doubt men carry around all day.  Am I any good at what I do?  Does my wife think I’m a good husband?  Is my colleague going to figure out that I’m making this up as I go along?  Do I measure up as a man?  As a dad?   Men are far more emotionally vulnerable than we realize.

And I was stunned, when I studied men for For Women Only and my other books, to discover that a man’s most emotionally vulnerable time is when he approaches his wife for intimacy.  A man feels like he is shakily extending out his unprotected heart, not knowing whether she will tenderly embrace it or smack it down.  Certainly, there are also women who feel vulnerable when they are the ones with the higher libido than their husband. (Here’s an article if you’re one of those women. )But for the majority of couples, it is the other way around. So when you respond well to your husband’s vulnerable heart, it is deeply comforting. (“She thinks I do measure up.”) 

A man’s most emotionally vulnerable time is when he approaches his wife for intimacy. 

But now go one step further: if you are the one who reaches out now and then, he is not only comforted… he is flying. As one man told me – laughing, but completely in earnest – “The thought is, ‘Not only does she think I measure up – she thinks I’m a stud!’ You have no idea how much that affirms a guy. I may feel like a total imposter in life, but if my wife wants me I can handle anything.”

3. An affirmed husband is a loving husband.  

An affirmed husband is a loving husband. 

I know we women don’t want to only focus on “what’s in it for me”… but let’s get real about this: what’s in it for us is pretty amazing.  When your husband feels desired sexually, he feels like you’re saying he is a good husband, a good dad, a good man.  Every day, your man sees so clearly all the ways he doesn’t measure up to what you need – and yet by affirming him sexually you are saying he’s a good man, anyway. He feels like you are saying, sure, he will make mistakes at times, but you’re on his side no matter what.

And as a result, he is so grateful for you. A man who is secure that you love and appreciate him will run through fire for you. He will be softer. More loving. More caring.  Because he is more secure.  And seriously: who doesn’t want a more loving, caring, attentive husband?

Now, sadly, there are always exceptions to this. There are going to be marriages where it doesn’t work out that way. But statistically, those are truly exceptions. In most cases, a husband who knows his wife wants him, wants most of all to be the man she will always need.

Helping people thrive in life and relationships is Shaunti Feldhahn’s driving passion, supported by her research projects and writing. After starting out with a Harvard graduate degree and experience on Wall Street, her life took an unexpected shift into relationship research. She now is a popular speaker around the world and the author of best-selling books about men, women, and relationships. (Including For Women OnlyFor Men Only, and the groundbreaking The Good News About Marriage).

Her newest book, The Kindness Challenge, demonstrates that kindness is the answer to almost every life problem, and is sparking a much-needed movement of kindness across the country. Visit for more.

This article was first published at Patheos.

How to Help Your Children Love the Church, When You or Your Spouse Work There

One fear of those familiar with church work is this very topic:  that their children will grow up resenting the church and God, instead of loving them.  This topic is heavy on a lot of pastor’s wife’s, staff members, and church planter’s hearts because we want our children to love the Lord as much as we do!  And sadly, many pastor’s children grow up resenting the church and God instead.  It is such a common occurrence that while speaking at a church planter’s retreat recently, my husband and I were approached by some church planters who were worried they would have to sacrifice their kid’s faith because they serve the church.  Not so!  Being in ministry does not mean your children won’t grow up to love Jesus.


I am thankful--all three of our adult daughters love Jesus and His church.  They all grew up with their dad being the Senior Pastor and their mom (me) serving as the Director of the Worship Department.  They all would readily tell you today they love Jesus and His church.  I definitely don’t think we have all the answers.  Every situation and ministry, as well as child, is unique, but I’d like to share our experience and pray it will give you insight and wisdom as you raise your own children. 


Just a little background information about my husband and myself:  we both grew up in ministry homes.  My husband’s dad was a pastor and my father was an evangelist (for you younger gals—that is someone who held revivals and meetings in churches across the country—and if you don’t know what a revival is—look it up!).  In their national evangelistic work, my parents felt this very strongly and often said, “Wouldn’t it be sad if we won the rest of the world to Christ, but our own kids didn’t know and love Christ?”  So, this phrase was ingrained in the back of my mind and heart as well.


For all of us, we need to keep in mind that our kids are their own people and we can’t force them to make decisions.  They have free will.  But there are hopefully some things we can do to help them not to resent you serving God.  The ideas I am sharing with you are not original--some of the wisdom, guidance, and insight we have gained from our own upbringings, serving in youth ministry, reading many books on parenting, and, most importantly, praying for lots of wisdom.


One of the most important things your kids need to know is that they are more important to you than the church – not God –but the church.  There is a difference between the church and God.  You want your children to know that God is the most important thing to you, but they need to know that THEY are more important to you than the church where you serve.  They are more important to you than all the other people who constantly need you in one way or another.  We had to really fight and work at this priority of making our kids feel more important than the hundreds of other people in the church.  I am not talking for small things but if our children had a need or a special event, we were there.  Otherwise they can’t compete and feel inferior to the 200, 1000, or 6,000 other people you serve.


Making sure your kids know that they don’t have to compete with all those other people is important.  How do you do that?


Younger kids need to have a majority of at least one of the parents for the evenings.  It gives them security.  Dinner time and bedtime are great opportunities to listen, to really know, and to influence your children.  Having a baby sitter occasionally is fine for you and your spouse to go on a date.   But try to make dinner time and bedtime a priority most the time.   We found sometimes it was possible to push a meeting until after their bedtime so brainstorm some ideas for your ministry home.  In the Harlow home, it was very rare if Tim or I missed dinner with the family, and one of us was usually home at bedtime. When it was busier times, we tried to stagger meetings so that both of our events didn’t fall on the same night.  Your presence and your actions tell your children they are as important as those hundreds of people at church. 


As your children grow older and are active in more activities and sports, they still want and need your attention and presence.  Often people think just because their child can do most things for themselves, they tend to neglect this important need.  High schoolers need your presence for emotional support.  It is huge.  I tried to be home when my kids got home from school just to be there, listen to them, and find out about their life.  I was part-time and it was very important to me to arrange my schedule so that I was home when they got home from school.  I remember Lauren and her boyfriend would come in after school and snack at our house.  It was a time they would chat and tell me things that went on.  It was quite fun, and I loved it!  Oh, and I know that son-in-law better today because of that!  (They also marry someone they date… that is another talk as well!).  School and this world is a tough place, and they need to know they aren’t alone—whether they think they need your or not. 


Being present for them and their major activities will take some creativity, flexibility, and organization (I call this being the CFO of your family but that is another talk!).  I would spend a couple of hours each August, putting all their concerts, open houses, events, and games on to both Tim and I’s calendars.  You can find them on the school websites.  Putting these important events into your calendar before your calendars get filled up is key to being successful at prioritizing.  Franklin Covey calls this putting your big rocks into your life first.


When our girls were in High School, our church had Saturday night and Sunday morning services.  Their high school had dances on Saturday nights which was always preceded by group pictures, which were a big deal, and were taken at one of the kids’ houses. The girls all will tell you their dad never missed the group pictures.  I would have scheduled myself off the worship leading calendar and Tim, after preaching, would have another staff member lead communion or close the service for him at that time. But he would always get there for part of picture taking party. This gave our girls the strong message they were important to us.  It also set a good example for the other staff to make their family a priority as well.


Lauren, our middle daughter, remembers a time when we all were attending one Becca’s band concerts.  Tim had an elder’s meeting the same night but he moved it around so he wouldn’t miss Becca’s part of the concert.  Lauren remembers thinking “Wow, Becca didn’t even have any solos. And it wasn’t like it was a very good concert - just a junior high band in a gym!”  Again, actions speak louder to your children than words.


It’s important to remember that you are always going to disappoint someone when you are making decisions.  Pay attention to how often it is your kids.


As grown-ups, our girls have told us they don’t have memories of disappointments of anything that we didn’t get to do as a family.  For example, we didn’t go to the Wisconsin Dells for a weekend or anything for a weekend.  None of that affected their childhood.  It may be hard to wrestle through what you want to give your kids financially, but what really matters is the relationally rich time you spent with them.  Think back on your own life:  you aren’t a Christian because you got to play on the traveling baseball team or got to do this or that.  Your life was shaped because you got to be with people you cared about that demonstrated the love of Jesus and taught you about Him.  Spend your energy on creating relationally rich experiences with your children. 


Take advantage of your flexible times and seasons.  We may not have done a lot as a family on weekends but during the week, we had the flexibility to get off to go to their unusual events or be involved with their school.  Any time the girls had what was called an “early release day” (dismissed at around 11 AM), Tim would take turns taking them out for a one-on-one lunch.  Each girl got a turn and got to pick the restaurant.  Get creative! 


I would try to get involved to help with a class party or field trip at least once a year.  No, I wasn’t a super parent but I did what I could.  And I always made sure I met their teachers so I knew who they were spending their days with. 



Other ways you can get creative are:  family movie nights eating pizza, macaroni and cheese night, breakfast for dinner, anything silly that can feel like a family tradition!  Our girls have always loved the nights at Christmastime that we would go downtown in Chicago to eat, see all the lights, and view the windows at Marshall Fields!  And if you get some perks of tickets to professional games or a gift certificate to a restaurant, make sure your children know who it is from and why they wanted to bless your family.


Sunday afternoon at our house was friend day.  They could invite one of their Christian friends to come home with them after church.  It gave us the opportunity for us to have a break while the kids played. We took a 30-minute power rest (the girls learned to cooperate and we had a basement) and then were ready to go.  This helps your kids strengthen their friendships with the other children from church.


Let your kids in on your relationship with God, that working at the church is not just your job.  It takes intentionality.  Reading Jesus Calling for Kids together in the morning is one great way.  Praying together.  You have a relationship with Jesus so whenever the opportunity arises, make sure you talk to your kids about it!  Your life should model a love for Jesus, otherwise your children will see the hypocrisy in your life.  Guard your own heart and keep it in tune with God’s.


One thing I wish we had done was to have a white board in the house for prayer requests.  Sometimes we would stand and hold hands and pray together as a family before school.  It would be really cool to have a private prayer board where the family could write down their requests.  Oh, and in case you are thinking we are super holy and have our act so together, many times we would be yelling the prayer at them as they ran out the door to catch the bus!  Just keeping it real.


Lauren, our middle daughter, shared this bit of advice: 

Let your church be THEIR church.  To this day, Parkview is my church and not just my parent’s church.  I got to invest a lot.  Being there was not a punishment.  We had a secret spot where we kept our toothbrushes and our hair stuff and a secret spot in the kitchen where we kept our Cocoa Pebbles cereal.  This felt like our space and eventually translated into our church and our roles.  Figure out how to get your kids volunteering.  I started helping with youth group by leading worship.  I also started helping in Kids Ministry.  I was sad when I went to college and had to let go of those roles.  It was my church, too.  So, make sure you allow your kids to be a part of the journey.  Pray about how to help them feel that way if they don’t.


The parent’s attitude about how they feel about going to church really shapes your children’s view of the church.  We, as parents, project and teach a lot by our attitudes.  We need to watch how we talk about things at church in front of our children.  We do not need them to think everything is easy in the Christian life but we do want them to love Jesus, His church, and serving Him.  I remember when we would set up for Vacation Bible School or an Easter service with special props, requiring extra time and work, and whenever we could, we would involve the girls.  We would express to them the excitement about how more people might meet Jesus because of it!  Having “insider information” made our girls feel special and get excited as well.


Protect your kids from being totally naïve and think church is just a bed of roses. Lauren remembers me saying “working at a church is not easy.”  If a family they knew or were close to would leave the church, it would be disappointing to all of us so we talked about it gently as a family.  Weigh what you say and how you communicate the negative experiences.  It’s important for them to know church isn’t a perfect place to work.  This won’t deter them from wanting to be a part of it because it is still Jesus’ church.  Ask my girls.



Note:  Transcribed, kind of, from our March 21 podcast. 


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The Birds & the Bees… One Mom’s Approach to Teaching Her Children

I have had a couple of situations recently that have prompted me to talk about this topic.  One was a very scary circumstance of a friend’s granddaughter who had recently been approached by on-line a sexual preditor and the other situation came up as one of the young women I have mentored was discussing sex at a Bible study she is leading of older teen girls.  She asked several of us women who had grown up following Christ, including my three married daughters (married from 8 weeks to 5 years), why we had waited to have sex until after we were married.  

These circumstances caused me to pause and be grateful all three of my daughters had waited to have sex until after they were married.   I do not say this is in a prideful way because it was by the grace of God and continually praying for wisdom that this was the case.  I really wanted them to know sex was great--but with their husbands.

So, I have decided to share with all you Jesus-following moms some of the things I did as I raised my three daughters to give them a healthy Bible-centered view of sex.  No, neither I nor they were perfect:  some had a couple of non-Christian boyfriends, some not-so-moral Christian boyfriends, and I had the same in my own life. But my heart is over-joyed that they saved themselves for marriage and (hopefully) have a great relationship with their husbands.  

But I was super-intentional about my approach to teaching them about sex.  I didn’t have much, if any, Christian teaching or conversations with my parents when it came to sex --my parent’s generation seemed to have a fear of talking about sex so I wanted my daughters to have a healthy view and a great Biblical attitude and freedom about it as they went into marriage. Please don’t think I am an expert—I just continually tried to learn and utilize resources as much as I could.

One of the most important things your children need to see is a healthy example of marriage. Do you talk respectful and kind to and about your husband?  What tones do you and your spouse speak to each other in? I want to recommend a book I gave my own daughters regarding this topic, and it is now available in workbooks and devotionals.   It is Emmerson Eggrich’s Love and Respect,  I wish I would have read this book about 20 years earlier but it is never too late.

Rachel and Ash

Rachel and Ash

Lauren and Tommy

Lauren and Tommy

Becca and Andy

Becca and Andy

Do you and your husband display love around your children?  Hold hands?  Kiss in front of the kids?  Your marriage needs this.  Your children need to see this.  Dr. Kevin Leman’s books Sex Begins in the Kitchen: Creating Intimacy to Make Your Marriage SizzleSheet Music: Uncovering the Secrets of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage, and Les Parrott’s Crazy Good Sex: Putting to bed the Myths Men have about Sex are great books that talk about intimacy in marriage.  

Do you and your husband still go out on dates?  When we were early married, we didn’t have much money and we did not have family in town to babysit, but we budgeted for at least one date night a month.  I can’t tell you how important it is for you and your spouse to do fun things together—it helps you see the best sides of each other and remember what you were attracted to in the beginning.  Get creative:  look for group-ons, coupon books, trade babysitting, hiking, concerts in the park, museums, etc but keep dating!  I recommend to make this happen twice a month if not more.  And, plan an overnight away together at the very least, once a year.  Your marriage needs this to stay strong.


One of our dates:  out bike riding!  Healthy AND inexpensive!

One of our dates:  out bike riding!  Healthy AND inexpensive!

The backbone of a healthy sexual attitude of a girl is building a good self-image.  As you know, this is much more difficult to do than write.  We definitely don’t want our daughters obsessing over their outward appearance nor think they have to look like the models in the ads but it does affect how they feel about themselves.  This is one of the reasons we invested in braces and contact lenses for our daughters, why I would give them a perm when they really wanted one when they were a 5th grader (thanks, mom, for helping me with this!), why I would try to stay semi-current with styles, or pay for a stylish haircut for them.  I didn’t have sons, but this stuff affects boys too.  What makes them feel better about themselves?  I also tried to make healthy food to help their health and weight be healthy.  Thankfully my own mom modeled that!  (FYI, I NEVER EVER mentioned my girls’ weight to them as they grew up—ever...there is too much danger in girls developing anorexia and bulimia!).  

We also would instill self-confidence and character by talking about being kind to others, bragging on them when they were generous, and allowing them to develop talents and skills they were bent toward.  Music was in our genes so lessons in voice and on various instruments were invested in.  Be aware that families can go overboard on "developing their children's talents" to the extreme that children never have any downtime to rest or develop their imagination, so pray for wisdom.  And build up those personality traits that are positive:  Are they a great organizer?  Have a great sense of humor?  A great story-teller?  Empathetic toward others?  Make sure you brag on these traits of your kids to build their self-image.

Okay, modeling a good marriage is key and building a good self-image plays a part, but what about the actually talking about sex with your children?  

I would buy age-appropriate books that discuss body differences in a Biblical way.  They can’t be afraid or ashamed of their own body and have a healthy view of sex.  I would make sure I’d read these books with them.  At the bottom of this article, I’ve listed several books and sites for good resources.  Let me know which ones you use. 

This next idea was something my sister-in-law did with her children.  I remember asking her “Can I copy you and do this too?”  And I hereby give you the same permission.  Adjust and do it to fit your family situation.  

When my daughters were ten, thirteen, and 16-years-old, I went through the book Preparing for Adolescence by Dr. James Dobson (warning: this is dated material!!) with them.  Each girl was treated to a special one-on-one overnight trip away with me and we would go through the material together.  Side note:  Honestly, if you can work out care for the other children, it would probably be good for both parents to do this with the child.  We didn’t have that option nor knew if it would be too uncomfortable for our girls, so I just took them.  Here are some pages that might give you more good Christian information and articles:

The reason we began this at ten years of age, is because our world throws sexuality on girls so young.  In fact, you will probably need to weigh your own child and their circumstances to decide when to start.  Then I did it again at the age of 13, because that is when girls and boys are starting to like each other more.  Then again at the age of 16 because that is when our girls were allowed to car date alone with a boy.  All three of them.  

I bought a copy of the book as well as the cds for it (yes, I am aging myself—no downloads back then) and we’d play a couple of hours of the book on the way to dinner.  I would stop the audio every once in a while to either bring out something, give examples, or to see if they had any questions.  I liked this material because it first talked about self-esteem and why some teenagers don’t always make good decisions.  This is good material but it definitely is dated; it doesn’t address the internet, phones, nor texting.  Those topics have to be discussed as well as sexual predators with today's world.   

So here is how this weekend would play out:  We had various friends who had cabins or other houses about two hours away from us, so I just arranged to stay there for one night.  If you have the money for a hotel or hotel points, that would be great too.  But make it far enough away.  The weekend would include dinner out at a restaurant of their choice, a movie to watch together after another hour or so of the book, breakfast together (I’d bring this food in a cooler), a walk together the next morning listening, lunch, and on the drive back, we’d finish listening. We would also make a stop for a new shirt or pajamas for a special item to remember our weekend together by.  

The key to this trip is for your children to learn about sex from you first—not from their friends, the internet, or school—and in a healthy Bible-based way.  This also teaches them they can talk to you about ANYTHING and, in the future, makes you much more approachable as they become teenagers.  They learn they can trust you to be honest with them.  

There is probably better and more updated material out there.  I’ve tried to include some options below for you to view although I have not read most of them yet.  

Have you run across some good material for teaching your children about godly sex?  Please share below so others can benefit.  

Praying that you can lead your children in healthy God-based sexuality,
Determined Denise

Additional books and resources:

•    10 Questions Kids Ask About Sex: *Knowing What to Say*Guiding Them to Wise Decisions*Giving Age-Appropriate Answers by Bill and Pam Farrel
•    Lintball Leo's Not-So-Stupid Questions about Your Body
•    The Ultimate Girls' Body Book: Not-So-Silly Questions about Your Body by Walt Larimore
•    The Ultimate Guys Body Book by Walt Larimore
•    Passport2Purity--Weekend Retreat Kit By Dennis Rainey, Barbara Rainey
•    The Focus on the Family ® Guide to Talking with Your Kids About Sex: Honest Answers for Every Age by J. Thomas Fitch, David Davis
•    Learning About Sex Series (books according to age)
•    God's Design for Sex Series By: Stan Jones, Brenna Jones
•    Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex Is Affecting Our Children by Joe S. McIlhaney Jr. M.D., Freda McKissic Bush M.D.
•    Protecting Your Son From Aggressive Girls article by Dennis Rainey

FYI, I get nothing by promoting these products.

Remember to Cherish the Moments-- Before you know it, Your baby will be a Bride

My youngest daughter, Becca, got married three days ago, and it was one of our family’s most important and joyous life moments.  In the aftermath of the wedding, I am reflecting on various memories and moments with this beautiful young woman.

On this special occasion, I first want to share moments I don’t regret from our family and ministry and, secondly, some of the special memories I have of you, Rebecca. 

To all of you moms of babies and younger children, I hope this encourages you to not rush through life and take time to enjoy moments and to do the important things.

Here are some things I did that I don’t regret doing:

  • Praying as a family before meals, at night, and before you left for school so you would know how important you are to God.
  • Making you go to church and class every Sunday—yet figuring how to make it the best for you, so you would know how important worshipping God is.
  • Holding the laughter back so you would know I would be someone you could talk to and that I would take your frustrations seriously.
  • Reading you Bible stories so you’d know our amazing God and how He wants us to live.
  • Having family dinners, so you’d have a time and place we could be together and share moments from our day… even if they were bad days, quick dinners, or fast food. 
  • Sending you to church camp, conferences, and retreats with the church youth group so you’d learn to know what fun being a Christian is and that you’d learn to love Jesus.
  • Getting you a dog so you would overcome your fears and experience the sweet companionship of a pet.  (Becca and I both are dog people!)
Becca & Zachy1
  • Sending you overseas on mission’s trips so you’d see how privileged you are, how serving others matters, and that God uses ordinary people, even though it tested my own faith.
  • Attending all your concerts, recitals, Madrigal dinners, and soccer games, even though I sometimes had other things I wanted to do.
  • Modeling how to serve God, having a ministry job and still making my family feel important.
  • Making you do chores around the house so you’d know the importance of work, helping, and being responsible.
  • Allowing you to serve at church so you, too, could serve God and were important to His kingdom, even though it might mean I’d have to drive you to church one more time.
  • Being home when you got home from a trip so I didn’t miss your chatter, excitement, stories, and memories.
  • Helping you be your best, spiritually, emotionally, and physically, so you might have self-confidence to live for Christ.
  • Allowing you to have friends over to our house even though it was more work, less privacy, and less rest for your dad and I, so I could know your friends and what they were like.
  • Not allowing you to talk rude to your sisters without consequences so that one day you would be best friends and be each other’s “Maids/Matrons of Honor.”
Matrons of Honor speech.jpg
  • Taking a weekend away with you alone to read and talk about self-esteem, insecurity, and healthy God-made sex, all so you might have a stronger marriage one day, and in hopes you wouldn’t fall into Satan’s schemes and lies of how great promiscuity is.
  • Allowing you to go to college far away, so you might develop your heart and mind and meet the amazing young man who is now your husband.

Special Memories I’ll never forget:

  • When you were baby Jesus at church at the age of 2-½ months old and your daddy was Joseph.  Your eyes connected with his as he sang “Joseph’s Song.”
  • When you would toddle around following your two big sisters, being game to be in their shows, and being taught how to curtsy.
  • Hearing you talk without your “r’s” – the woods (words) you would say in your precious little voice still are strong in my memory.
  • Seeing how you loved to swim even at as a little toddler.
  • Seeing you in the pink ballerina outfit you got for Christmas day after day after day after day…  until I finally talked you into letting me wash it.
  • Seeing you go from terrified of dogs to having long sweet conversations with our little dogs.  You’ve always been my dog girl!
  • Letting you watch “Arthur” every day after kindergarten while having a special lunch mom had made you.
  • Watching you walk up the slide on the bunk beds your daddy had made while holding my breath!
  • Seeing how excited you were when I’d make “box macamoni and cheese.” (Sorry, girls, it was her favorite and such a bummer it wasn’t healthy!)
  • Watching you admire your sisters and the cool activities they were in.
  • Sitting with you through many school band concerts until it was your turn.
  • Hearing you practice the piano so many hours.
  • Seeing you so excited for Vacation Bible School that you could hardly sleep the night before.
  • Watching you lug that big ole French horn to school for band.
  • Taking you to the orthodontist and then getting a milkshake for that hurting mouth full of braces.
  • Seeing your proud smile after those braces came off.
  • Watching you love serving little children at church.
  • Seeing you so involved in your youth group.
  • Watching how you would communicate and interact in Spanish with the Costa Ricans and help with eye exams so they could get glasses then saying to me “Mom, that older woman cried when I put the glasses on her!”
  • Seeing how you loved going on missions trips and how you would lead 2nd grade children in Africa in VBS with very little notice, tag-teaming with your family.
  • Seeing how mad you’d get at your sister because she’d borrow something and not put it back. (You know who you are, L!)
  • Laughing our heads off so many times in life after some crazy experiences!

  • The day you were baptized into Christ!!  And then your dad, you, and I were all baptized together in the Jordan River!
  • The day you married Andrew Deming and the fun we had celebrating.

I love you, Becca Harlow Deming, and I always will!


***Pictures of Becca & Andy’s wedding were taken by Waller Weddings.


Creative Parenting in Ministry

I grew up with parents who were evangelists.

What that meant in the 60’s and 70’s is my dad, along with three brothers traveled as a quartet and held revivals all over the country. (check out the quartet!) (Side note for you youngsters: Revivals were nightly church services that lasted one week, two weeks, or even a month that were held at a church with guest musicians and preachers to “revive” and grow a congregation.) That was my world!

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When I first got married, I learned very quickly that Christmas happens in my home because I make it happen. My husband loves Christmas too, and definitely turns into Clark Griswold at some point during the season, but other than the outdoor lights, most of the season’s tasks, as I soon discovered, fell on me.

Now, my mom was the Christmas queen. She decorated her house for Christmas: beautifully, in every nook and cranny. She didn’t work outside the home, mostly due to two things: that generation of women weren’t encouraged too much to pursue a career and because my dad was a traveling evangelist who was gone a lot. She traveled and sang with him as much as possible but they had decided that her priority needed to be keeping the home fires burning as much as possible.

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As I watched my mom lean on my sister, and her legs freeze up and not move how she wanted them to, I had to fight back the tears. You see, my mom has Parkinson’s disease. She and my precious dad still live together independently in a home that we just downsized them to in the Ozark, MO area 6 months ago. My husband and I were “soul resting” (more on that another time) at a family lake house in Missouri for a few days, and I had planned to drive down to my parent’s house to help them put up their Christmas tree and decorations. It is impossible for my mom to do that any longer and very hard on my 82-year-young dad, but still a high priority for my mom. (You should see how cute their house is!)

My sister lives 10 minutes from my parents, my brother lives 3 hours away in the same state, but my husband and I live 8 hours away from them. We live in a time when it is uncommon for adult children to live in the same town (let alone state) as their parents. Look at my girls—all three are living currently in states very far from us. Sniff, sniff. But they are serving God and we knew that might be a sacrifice we had to make, as my own parents knew. So as our parents age, it begs the question (especially for those of us who live far from them)...

How do we honor them?

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