2013 Stats That Matter Most {to me}

Happy New Year, Friends!

As I write this, the Christmas tree is still fully decorated, and glowing brightly in the next room. I’m not quite ready to pack it all away just yet. The snow is falling quickly outside, making me feel cozy and content on my brown couch. These quiet moments make me feel as though I can slow down time, just a bit, before plunging ahead into a new year. I love the time between New Year’s and the start of school…a few days to savor the quiet and shift into forward motion.

It’s also the time of year when WordPress sends me a lovely, animated email to summarize my blogging statistics from the past year. It’s quite helpful, as it tells me which subjects that appeal to you, my dear readers, and how you find your way to my cozy little cyber-space. Finally, it allows me to celebrate the posts that resonated most, and consider topics for the coming year. Lots of bloggers like to share these kinds of stats as they transition to the year ahead.

I’m going to share statistics with you…but not those. Below are the 2013 statistics that matter most…to me

23 Years of Marriage to my very best friend, (and the most handsome, wise and kind gentleman I know!)

19 Years with Annie, our college sophomore whose wisdom and intuition inspire me. She is going to be a great teacher.


17 years with Bill, our high school junior, who  has displayed sound judgment and strong leadership (and has entertained us greatly, on stage and off…)

(photo cred: Lydea Swit)

(photo cred: Lydea Swit)

4 Days in New York City during the summer…making great memories, seeing two shows, touring museums, and eating HUGE portions of chocolate cake.

5 States visited to teach church leaders about how to reach families affected by disabilities. (Furthest: NEBRASKA!!) As always, l learned more than I taught, and I met the most wonderful, funny, talented people…and laughed until my sides hurt.

1 publishing contract…which means 1 step closer to accomplishing a lifelong goal of writing a book. (Special thanks to my mom, who always believed I could do it, and to Mrs. Manley, my fourth grade teacher who gave me extra time for creative writing.)


3 generations in my living room during Thanksgiving break.

1 Completely Awesome Day when THIS happened…

12 years with Mitzie. Seriously. The best dog in the universe.

1 Great God…from whom all blessings flow.


Wishing you JOY, my friends, and a new year FILLED with statistics worth remembering.



Keeping Peace on Earth: Coping with special needs this season

RadioToday, I’ll be spending time with my friend, Vangie Rodenbeck on the Shaping Special Hearts radio show. (noon EST) We’ll be talking about some solutions for managing the stress and unpredictability that often accompanies Christmastime. I hope it will be helpful!

I’ll be referencing some of the ideas that have been posted here in the past. I’ve compiled those below for your convenience…

Accommodating Special Needs
Prep for the Pageant
Dealing with Relatives and Visitors
Creating Hands-on Opportunities for Kids

Neighborhood Outreach: Birthday Party for Jesus
Activities for the Party
Stories, Service Projects, Sweets

Resources and Ideas
Sensory-Friendly Christmas Carol
“Why Do We Call It Christmas” DVD
Free Download: Holiday Treasure Hunt
Christmas M&M Story

Peace: Wholly Holy
Peace in the Ordinary Days
Great Gifts: He Was Here
Preparing our Hearts

Do you have a question, or an idea to share? Call in during the show: (424) 258-9286. We’d love to chat with you.

Me oh Miley. (Let’s slow down)

By now, most of us have seen clips of the now-infamous number on the VMA awards, and we’ve exchanged opinions on creepy teddy bears, foam fingers and nude bikinis. We’re shocked and disappointed that Hannah Montana has disintegrated, giving rise to this unwelcome, over-sexed femme fatale.

Miley Cyrus
(photo courtesy sheknows.com)

But we shouldn’t be surprised.

Our daughters might not be nearly nude on TV and our sons might not be ESPN cautionary tales…but the growing-up metronome is set at a high tempo in our tiny town, and probably in yours, too. We’re frantically running a  Race to Nowhere, and our kids are stressed, anxious and exhausted.

We live in a world that is obsessed with the fast lane. In some cases, kids are almost like products, chiseled and sculpted and polished.  They’re pressed toward sophistication so they can create a unique, competitive image. The intensity and rigor are celebrated, because we know that pressure can create a sparkling diamond that will shine brightly in a mound of ordinary stones.

But we need to remember that pressure can also create fissures and broken pieces.

When I saw the video of Miley, my bloggy fingers were creeping toward the keyboard…I was so tempted to saddle her with lots of blame, and point out where her parents and managers have gone wrong. But my niggling conscience made me examine how I have managed the young people–my children!–for whom I am responsible. Because Miley’s antics will soon be faded fodder, but my kids will always be on the front page of my life.  I’ve been asking myself what my husband and I are doing well…and  in what areas we need to create firmer boundaries, provide more encouragement, step out of the way, or shut our mouths and listen.

As our kids continue to grow and change, we’ll plan and evaluate and adjust.

And we’ll slow down.

There’s just so much beauty in ordinary stones…I don’t want to miss it because I am too busy trying to create a diamond.

Photo: #nofilter needed for this awesome family!! Had a great trip with these amazing people. I would not want to go on this vacation with anyone but my family!! :)