Pants Not Optional

An actual conversation which occurred earlier today at my house:


The boys are laying around in their underwear. It is 12:30pm.

Me: Boys, get dressed. We’re going to the store.

Gideon: Yes, ma’am.

A minute later.

Gideon: Do we have to wear pants?

Me: Yes, we’re leaving the house. You have to wear pants or shorts. And a shirt.

Gideon: Do I have to wear shoes?

Me: Yes, you have to wear shoes!


In his defense, Wash has been sick and we have been in the house since Monday afternoon. Still, pants are not optional.


In the Night Time

I battle a special kind of kryptonite. My weakness is small boys in the night time.

They come, sometimes sneaking and sometimes padding on quick feet, to my side of the bed. If I know they are there, I lift the covers and invite their warm sleep bodies in. Often, I will feel their warmth on my back or their breath in my face after they are already snuggled in deep and back asleep.

The youngest one is still soft in the way only young children and babies are. That intoxicating smell of infancy clings to him with a fierceness and I breathe it in every chance I get. The oldest one is lanky already, but his cheeks hold kisses as easily as ever.

I never have the heart to send them back to their bed, with tears in their voices and Momma on their lips. I make their dad do it. His heart is harder than mine. I would rather wake with a crick in my neck and an ache in my back then send them back to their own room.

One day soon, they will sleep all night and never make the journey to my bed. They will grow to be taller than me and only kiss me when prompted. When they lean down to kiss me, I will breathe deep and remember what they smelled like when they were small in the night time.

Questions to Ask

Recently, I have been thinking of two things: how we teach our children to think of others and how we train ourselves to do the same thing.

In a Bible study for parents my friends are doing, the author prompted them to teach their children to ask “What needs to be done here?” when they leave a room or enter it.

“What needs to be done here?” forces the speaker to think how they can contribute to the overall effort of the family to keep the house, of a group to prepare for a meeting, or simply to help another person complete a task. What needs to be done could be picking up, doing dishes, opening the door for someone, or offering to help with an ongoing effort.

Asking “What needs to be done here?” also teaches that someone must step up to solve problems and that person is often you. Be courageous and ask, “What needs to be done here?” even if that thing is out of your comfort zone. Be someone who contributes and not someone who only takes.

Yesterday,┬áthe teacher of my Bible study group told us to ask ourselves “How can I show love in this situation?” Like the previous question, it forces the speaker to look beyond themselves and ask what someone else needs. Answering this question honestly means placing the needs of the person before you above your own. It means working towards loving someone else when we may feel like reacting in the exact opposite way.

Something our children, and some adults still, need to be taught is that it is not all about them. In fact, it never is. This path we are on is about others. It is about how we can best show love to other people. This is the thing Jesus asked of us. He told us to love God and love others.

He did not say love when it was convenient, when we were being loved in return, or when we would get something out of it. He just said to love.

Next time you are in a situation with anther person and you are unsure what to do ask, “How can I show love in this situation?” or “What needs to be done here?” and then have the courage to respond.


We say prayers for many things in our family. At meals and bedtime, we let the boys lead the prayers. They usually choose to sing the mealtime prayer and switch off saying the bedtime ones. Wash, who just turned three, has the idea of continually giving thanksgiving down.

Wash’s Prayer

Thank you God for eatin’
Thank you, God.
Thank you, God for playin’
Thank you, God.
Thank you, God for dinosaurs.
Thank you, God.
Thank you, God for sleepin’
Thank you, God.

My children continually remind me to be thankful for the simple things in life. Thank you, God. Thank you, God.

This is part of an ongoing series of devotionals for writers posted every other Tuesday.

They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them… Nehemiah 9:17

Though the God of the Old Testament frequently displays anger, it is stated over and over that God is “slow to anger.” Even when we refuse to listen or remember the blessings we are given, God still waits patiently for us to come back to him.

Anger can become a force itself in our lives. We allow it to control our behavior and then often regret harsh words or actions once the heat of the moment is past. As believers, we should be striving towards the image of Christ, who was compassionate, loving, and slow to anger. When we give ourselves over to anger and allow it to control our actions, we move farther from the purpose God has given to each of us which to bring glory to him by loving Him and loving others.

The more we conform to Him, by loving others, the more our lives will be a testament to the transformative power of His influence and love. By remembering blessings and being thankful, we can steer our anger to more productive emotions.

For you: Is there an area of anger you need to release to God? Is there a person or situation in your life to which you could show more compassion and less anger?

For your characters: What is the one thing which sets them off faster than anything else? What does this short fuse area reveal about them? Does their anger bother them or others around them? Do they make an effort to control their reactions?

Subterfuge and Motherhood

I know lying is wrong. It says so in the Bible. It was important enough to be in the Top 10 things To Do and Not Do, according to God. However, any good mom knows a little subterfuge is all a part of doing the job and doing it well.

Here are some examples.

Example #1

Over the year, my kids get a lot of candy. It all goes into gallon bags with their names on it in the pantry. Whenever they remember it exists, which is not every day, they ask to have some. If it is appropriate timing or I can use the candy as a bribe (eat all your kale), I do. My kids do not eat candy frequently enough to ever eat all the candy in our bags and I am certainly not going to eat all of it since I do not want to weigh 500 pounds.

What’s a good mom to do? I can’t just throw all the candy away. They would notice that. Kids are smart and sneaky, just like moms. We have to be smarter and sneakier.

I throw the candy away a little at a time. That way, the volume reduces gradually and they never know. You must be careful, though to throw the candy away in such a way that they will never know, which brings me to Example 2.

Example #2

Kids bring home two categories of trash. Stuff they make that is “priceless” and they want to keep forever and trash people give them. You know what I mean by the latter. Cheap toys that break within 5 minutes, decks of cards with cards missing, rocks, broken rubber bands, twisty ties, jar lids, and kid’s meal toys. You know, all the stuff they never want to get rid of.

If you are not careful, your house will be like Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout‘s and you will drown in garbage. To avoid this, while your kids are out of the house, choose a handful of the trash items and throw them away. Warning: Do not simply toss them into the trash can. You have to bury them under other trash or put them in a bag and throw them away.

People without kids are now thinking I am one crazy, paranoid lady, but let me tell you that every time a kid throws something in the trashcan, they spend a looooong time peering into that can. They know something fishy is going on in their house. If they see even the spec of some beloved item/piece of trash actually in the trashcan. All. hell. will. break. loose. Bury that stuff deep and put some smelly garbage on top of it for good measure.

I am not even going to cover all the things we regularly tell kids which are out and out lies: Santa, the Easter Bunny, or why they can’t watch Thomas the Train. My friend hated Thomas so much she told her two-year-old Thomas was not on TV anymore or Netflix or anywhere. I laughed and was sorry I did not think of that first.

Happy Parenting!

Tuesday Devo: Surrounded

This is an ongoing series of devotionals for writers posted every other Tuesday.

When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh,
My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell.
Though a host encamp against me,
My heart will not fear;
Though war arise against me,
In spite of this I shall be confident.

Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord.

Psalm 27:2-3, 14

Our true nature is often revealed by how we react to adversity. When we are surrounded by enemies and there is no path through the darkness, we must find a way to move forward, to overcome, or be overcome ourselves.

The Psalms are full of the wailing and pleading of people, mostly David, for God to help them in their times of greatest need. Times when the tears are so many they feel they could drown. Times when the enemy is so numerous there is no escape. Times when the writer is so ashamed by their own guilt they could not face themselves.

Psalm 27 is my favorite of all the Psalms and one of the many things it says is to be confident and wait on the Lord. It says, do not fear the enemy surrounding you, but be confident in the Lord and in your ability to be courageous and do what is right.

For you:

Are you surrounded today by an enemy or by a treacherous path? What can you do to find God in your trouble and find victory?If you need courage or patience for your current situation, pray to the Lord for His strength.

For your characters:

How do your characters act when they are surrounded and things are not going their way? What do their reactions tell the reader about their past or their personality? Does the way they react change over the course of the story? Why?

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