Monthly Archives: July 2014

Mantra or Messiah


Visualization, positive self-talk, personal mantras – these are mental tools or exercises that people use to help them reach their goals or accomplish difficult tasks in their lives. These are ways to combat irrational fears and stinkin’ thinkin’.

Some hang photos of their thinner selves to help them get into shape. Others imagine themselves mastering physical feats, and attaining workplace status or educational credentials, and they may use pictures to focus on those goals.

I have been more inclined to cling to phrases for confidence. Over the years, I’ve repeated statements in my head and aloud to garner strength in certain situations. Though not particularly creative, I used to simply say “You can do this, Hally.” I repeated it as I finished my Master’s thesis, working full-time with a toddler at home. It came in handy when I dealt with the emotional strain of fertility treatments and the adoption process. I relied on it when my sister and I buried our dad.

Here’s the thing, though. In recent years, as my faith and wisdom have grown, I realize that those words alone didn’t sustain me. I wasn’t capable of surviving and/or thriving in any of those situations, whether my positive refrain made me feel so or not.

I am not particularly emotional or expressive when it comes to my faith. I tend to be more private. But by nature, I am honest about it. And, so, I no longer recite to myself “You can do this, Hally.” That feels dishonest, proud and delusional.

What is true is that I can do nothing without His help. I am helpless in so many (maybe all) areas of my life without my Heavenly Father to love and guide me. And, when I fail to consistently stay connected with Him, I am reminded of that once again.

blog - Mantras & Messiah - July 31, 14

“I can do all things through Christ which     strengtheneth me.” (Phillipians 4:13)

Are there quotes or statements that you use to stay upbeat and focused? Are there verses that bring you comfort in difficulty? I’d love to hear what those are? Please share with us here.

Enjoy a Thoughtful Thursday!





School supplies are on the shelves. Orientation and open house dates have been posted. And, more summer 2014 days are now behind us rather than ahead of us. The season will soon change, at least from an everyday perspective if not on the calendar. Kids will be back at school and another summer vacation will have come and gone.

In the spirit of FB’s throw-back Thursday, I am taking a quick look today at a season in parenting that is behind me.

I now have a 16-year-old. In one month from today, he will turn 17. He is no longer my baby boy, and I miss that sometimes. Little guys and girls do cute stuff. They entertain with their innocence, and it is pure joy to watch them learn.

When Ivan (his name, by the way, means “Gift of God” in Russian or Czechoslovakian) was a tyke, he did the following:

Blog - Ivan July'14My in-laws are real-deal Germans. They came here in the 1950’s. So, when Ivan was small, I took him to German classes at the German Cultural Center in St. Louis. Kids learned German words and sang German songs with Frau Suzie. Around the holidays they had a concert, and my brown-eyed boy stood front and center amidst a chorus of blue-eyed blonds. He evidently became excited with the microphone. He seized it with one hand and randomly told the audience… “My grandpa drove his tractor to California.” After a moment, the room erupted with laughter, and I stood stunned, my brown eyes the size of saucers.

We met our daughter in January of 2002 in Guatemala. She was 4½ months old. Her expression was serious as she studied us. The first words her older brother spoke to her directly came when he bent down to look at her in her umbrella stroller and said… “Yessa, yessa do like chicken nuggets.” (Perhaps we ate too much fast food at the time.) She didn’t crack a smile.

A few short months after we moved into our home in 2002, he took his 5-year-old entrepreneurial self to the neighbors to inquire if they would like to buy some freshly-mown grass. His wagon was full and his hopes high. They politely declined, pointing out that they had quite a lot of their own on their 3-acre lot. While we hadn’t yet gotten to know our new neighbors well, the man worked with my father. So, the story was good entertainment at their workplace.

Kids are fun when they’re little! They do cute stuff! We parents have mental lists of stories that make us smile.

Fast forward to last week when my son earned a bit of money doing yard work. He still likes working outside. He came home from the store and announced that he had gotten something for each of us. He got batteries and BBlog - Ivan - FFA- July'14and-Aids for himself (don’t ask), a season of “Duck Dynasty” for his dad, a snack for his sister, and, drum roll please, a big bottle of Tide for me.

I know. Super cute, right! Not so much.

So, for all of you younger parents, enjoy the season you are in. Enjoy whatever season of parenting you are in. They are all good in their own ways. Though teenage years aren’t always cute, they are rewarding. Our kids begin to make us proud with accomplishments and wise decisions. They show their character and demonstrate their unique personalities. And, that’s pretty precious, too.

Share with us a special memory about your child.

Enjoy a Thoughtful Thursday!





Fair Season ’14


It’s fair week in Lincoln County, Missouri! And, I am on a bit of a fair “high,” so in that spirit, I wanted to share two things with you today.

First, one of my children’s favblog - Fair - July 8, 14orite picture books when they were little was a book called “A Hog Call to End All.” The book, written by Suann Kiser and illustrated by John Steven Gurney, is a bit of an anthem to county fairs.

The county fair is underway and going well when a hog-calling contest bring about chaos at the fairgrounds. It’s a fun read!

You may check it out on Amazon:

Secondly, after enjoying the first day of the fair, I thought I’d write my own rhyme about all the things you might find at the Lincoln County Fair and many others within the state and country. Thanks to all those who planned and prepared over the past year to bring about a fun week for all! Enjoy!


Months before …

Houses and troughs, cages and pens,

Hogs and steers, rabbits and hens.

Animals secured, cared for and fed,

Immunized, fattened, some, hopefully, bred.

Meetings attended, projects begun,

Wednesday-night work nights over and done.

Woodworking, welding, gardening and more,

Sewing, breads, crafts, and choices galore.

The week before…

4-H floats are built, painted and dressed,

Exhibits completed to fully impress.

Ladies rehearse for Saturday’s show,

Sharing talents and smiles with royal-queen glow.

Parade day…

The day heats up as excitement grows,

Who will be in the procession nobody knows.

Flags, horses and tractors, politicians and bands,

Candy and sirens, waves and shaking of hands.

Fair time…

There is much to learn with each fair-week surprise,

“Bantam” and “pullet” are poultry words, I surmise.

Rabbits must be “balanced” within each baby meat pen,

A trio of 4-pounders might just score a ten.

The rides are thrilling and the games are a hoot,

Especially, if you’re not set on winning much loot.

The menu’s new nightly with meat, veggies and spuds,

And, you need not wear your fancy eatin’ out duds.

Music and entertainment sprinkles the grounds,

Machinery fills the air with smoke and loud sounds.

Pickler, palm readers, derbies and dirt bikes,

Joust, jump, repel, or bounce, if you like.

The big sale is exciting for entrepreneurial youth,

Who can make more money than with any lost tooth.

Though the night might go late, the sale barn stays filled,

With supportive folks ready to pull out those big bills.

The horses are groomed for nightly events,

To entertain those folks with equestrian bents.

Costumes for riders and their trusty steeds,

And hopes they won’t exceed dangerous speeds.

When fair week concludes, it’s time for a rest,

For the fair board and workers who’ve all done their best.

You’ve planned a fun week for the county and guests,

So, thanks for your efforts, by them we are blessed.


“Raised on Country Sunshine” is a sweet song, and it happens to be the theme of the Lincoln County Fair 2014. County fairs and similar events give kids an opportunity to be part of something that is good and pure. They achieve success, build confidence, have fun and learn. I hope the fairs across the country are safe and successful ones. Now, what is your fair’s theme? 

Keep Smiling!



Camp – It’s Not Just for Kids!


What’s your pleasure? Church or cheer camp, 4-H or scout camp, art or drama camp—does it really matter? It’s time away for the kids and a time of respite during the summer for us parents.

I kid. I kid, because I love. Partially. Kid, partially; love, completely.Blog - Girls

These little lovelies are currently at Camp Ne-O-Tez, which is a church camp that many young people from our home church attend. It is a full six days of playing in the creek, singing, Bible study, crafts, games and more. And, it’s six tween-free days in both my house and my sister’s.

Recently, I saw an episode of “Modern Family,” during which parents Phil and Claire Dunphy are desperate to find destinations for each of their children, so they can carve out a kid-free week over summer vacation. I don’t think that happens only in TV land.

The opportunities for American kids are awesome. As a child, I often found summers long and boring. When we were young, we spent days with teen babysitters. Some took time to entertain my sister and me, and others just tanned all day. When we were old enough to stay alone, but too young to drive, we watched TV and did a few chores; we lived out of town so there weren’t friends around to play with. Aside from the county fair, there wasn’t much going on.

Today’s kids have a plethora of activities and entertainments to choose from. Little guys can enjoy multiple VBS programs in the community, and older ones can do school-sponsored sports camps at minimal expense. There are themed camps available at community colleges, library and arts programs, babysitting courses, swim lessons, and even summer school is fun.

While such activities can become expensive, it is wonderful when kids can participate in at least a couple of these during their time off from school. And, it’s not a bad thing for parents either.

In fact, a little “camp” may be just what a busy dad or mom needs from time-to-time. While dads have fishing trips, we moms enjoy girls’ shopping weekends. The guys may crave a “City Slickers” style trip, and we women some beach time with the book club.

Carving out some quality time with friends is good for the soul. Whether we are experiencing or learning something new, or just developing deeper connections during our down time, it is good to rejuvenate and recharge. That’s good for our kids, too.

The time away, and the opportunity to gain some independence and an identity separate from one another are good. I find myself mid-week wondering how my daughter and niece are doing at camp, and, by the end of the week, I will be excited to see them both. They will be glad to be home with stories of new friends and fun they had.

Blog - BoysMy sister was able to “farm out” her blond rascal with her in-laws for a few days this week so she could get some projects done at home. I asked if they would like to take my boy, but I ended up stuck with my 16-year-old.

I kid. I kid, because… well, you know.

His summers look a bit different now. They are more about making and saving money than fun, but he, too, got some camp in when he was a 4-H camp counselor earlier in the summer.

Have you had your camp lately?