5 Texts Your Teen Needs to Receive from You

5 Texts Your Teen Needs to Receive from You

Parenting, in any stage of your child’s life, has it’s challenges. Parenting infants and toddlers can be physically exhausting.

Parenting tweens, who are geniuses at figuring out where the boundaries are, can make you want to sit in a corner and cry sometimes.

And then there are the teen years… Our culture tells us that these are the hardest, and, in some ways, they may be. But if we understand that our children are growing and learning in each season and that it’s all necessary for them to reach adulthood, we don’t have to approach the teen years with dread.

Generally teens are busy with school, extracurricular activities, and possibly after school jobs. They are often consumed with a social schedule that can make a time management guru cringe.

Connection with teens can seem impossible as they are busy and also developing their own life, apart from you as their parent.

But connection is so important in these years. Intentional connection (or not) sets the stage for what your relationship with your child will look like for the rest of their adult lives.

One simple way to maintain connection and communicate with your teen is through texting. It certainly doesn’t take the place of face to face communication but it is a way to stay connected in a fast-paced world.

Here’s 5 texts that your teen needs to receive from you. Words that will help make them secure in your bond as parent and child. Words that will fill their love tank!

  • “I’m so proud of you.” Send it after a good report card, game well-played, concert performed… or after a horrible day, that is filled with the opposite. Your teen needs to know that you are proud of him or her and that you are ‘for’ them – no matter what.
  • “Do you have time for coffee/icecream this week?” Schedule a time for personal connection. Show that you are wanting to spend time with them.
  • “I bought you that ______ you’ve been wanting!” Some people feel loved by receiving gifts. You will make their day with this one.
  • “Thank you for {doing the dishes/taking out the trash/cleaning your bedroom}.” Even when certain chores that are your kids’ responsibility, being thanked goes a long way in them feeling loved and appreciated.
  • “I’m praying for you today.” Find out when they have big tests or hard practices. Make sure they know you are praying for them.

Parenting teens has been one of the most enjoyable seasons of my life. Connect with your teens using their ‘language’, i.e.: texting. Be intentional about it. Make sure they are secure in your love for them! Send that text today, parent!

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Parenting with Resentment or Servanthood?

Parenting with Resentment or Servanthood?

When our kids are young, we serve them because we’re ‘forced’ to. We love them and know they need cared for, so we serve them by taking care of their needs. It’s often not very many months into this act of servanthood, that we realize how hard parenting actually is.

As the kids get older and more independent, we gladly and, often, quickly, shift some of those things we do to “serve” them, onto them. They now feed themselves, dress themselves, use the potty by themselves (somebody praise Him), and even can clean up after themselves. And there’s nothing wrong with this.

What I have seen and what I know from personal experience, though, is that resentment has often settled in by this point. At the root of our hearts, is a resentment for all the years we had to serve them and we now have a you owe me so do it yourself attitude. Oh, I don’t think we would ever voice this or even pay any attention to it. But if we honestly dig to the bottom of our hearts, I think it’s often there.

It wasn’t until the Lord put His finger on my heart about it a few years ago that I had that aha moment of “oh my gosh, I DO have resentment in my heart towards my kids.” No one really wants to admit that.

As I was pondering parenting and applying the 5 love languages in order to love my kids well, I was thinking about acts of service and what that really looks like in parenting. And I realized that it looked like sometimes showing my kids my love for them by doing things for my kids that they can do themselves.

I wrestled with this for a while. I don’t want to be an enabler. I do want to raise kids that can take care of themselves when the time comes. I don’t want to continue to do every thing for them that they can do themselves. I do want them to be secure and confident in my love for them.

And so, I do want to serve them. Jesus said, “…Among you, the greatest must become like the youngest and the leader must become a true servant.” (Luke 22:26 The Voice)

I am the parent and the leader, therefore I must become a true servant. Besides demonstrating my love to them, I am teaching them how to be servants.

I looked up the word serve in the dictionary. One definition really stood out to me, “to be favorable, suitable or convenient”. This is a definition that I don’t automatically apply when thinking about serving my kids, but I think it’s the kind of serving Jesus has in mind when He tells us to,

“…Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways. Everyone will know you as My followers if you demonstrate your love to others.” (John 13:34-35 The Voice)

As believers, we like to think about outreach to the homeless or those in other countries or even those that don’t attend our church, but what if it starts with demonstrating our love towards our kids? In ways they can receive it. If we have to try to convince our kids that we love them, maybe we should re-evaluate the way we are loving them.

My kids clean their own rooms, make their own lunch, do their own laundry… so when I jump in and fold their clothes, I’m demonstrating my love for them by serving them – being favorable and a convenience to them.

Sometimes we’d rather serve the whole world than serve the ones we are ‘the boss of’. But, it’s in those moments of serving the youngest, that we are becoming great in the eyes of the King.


“So Jesus called the disciples together. Do you want the Kingdom run like the Romans run their kingdom? Their rulers have great power over the people, but God the Father doesn’t play by the Romans’ rules. This is the Kingdom’s logic: whoever wants to become great must first make himself a servant; whoever wants to be first must bind himself as a slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as the ransom for many.”

Matthew 20:25-28 (The Voice)

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The Best Parenting Years of My Life

The Best Parenting Years of My Life

Let’s look at the question of sending your kids to public school versus homeschooling them. For many of you, this is a no-brainer. There is not and never has been any other option than sending them to public school. Normal  American people send their kids to school. And most send them to government-funded public education buildings.

But for me it’s different. I was raised a very scant minority in the later 80’s but a growing minority into the 90’s, by being homeschooled from 3rd grade on. It was a new thing for our era. Not many did it. But it was my normal. So, after I got married and we started having kids, it was just normal to think I would homeschool our little people. And I did for a couple years.

When we moved to a smaller community a couple years later and continued to homeschool that year, I began to feel like we should maybe put the kids in school. Our oldest was approaching her 3rd grade year. Our middle daughter would be ready for kindergarten. It was a scary thought, homeschooling had been my normal for most of my life. I heard all kinds of scary things about public schools from those that thought homeschooling was THE ONLY way for true Christians. I had no argument, as I hadn’t stepped foot in a classroom since 3rd grade and most of my friends were homeschoolers too.

But the Lord was speaking and we obeyed. We put our kids into one of the rural schools near us. And let me tell you, those were the best parenting years ever. Not because, my kids were now gone all day and I could sit on the couch and eat bonbons (is that too old school cliche?) but because my relationship with my kids began to strengthen in ways that it never would have while homeschooling. Not that homeschooling parents can’t develop and have great relationships with their kids but I was not doing that. For me, after I was teacher for a few hours, I was done with my kids. Go play, go… do something. I. am. done.

But now that someone else was teaching them, I had the energy and the heart to get to know them better. To hear about their day, to know their struggles. We drove the kids to school nearly 20 minutes every morning and then back home 20 minutes every afternoon. Those were some of the most precious times of my life with my kids to this point. Then our lives transitioned. We would no longer be pastoring but my husband would begin to travel full-time in ministry. We had two options – let him go alone or take the kids out of school and go with him. For the sake of the family (and obedience to the Lord), we took the kids out, moved to a tiny apartment back in my hometown and traveled the world, homeschooling our kids for another season.

My 3 school girls (2016)

We are now over seven years into this itinerate life and made a change last year once again. Our oldest daughter finished out her senior year as a homeschooler and we put our two middles back in public school once again. This year, our youngest joins them at the same school for her preschool year. And they are all thriving. WE are thriving (though it was a VERY rough start last year. You can read about it HERE **).

ju preK
Gah! My happy preschooler (2016)

As I have learned about breastfeeding vs. bottle-feeding, SAHM vs. career woman, discipline methods, and all the other stuff that goes with parenting… these are only the methods to get to what truly matters. The true issue is not how your kids get an education but that you are being intentional about building a relationship with them.

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**This linked article was written for Her View From Home.


Is it Even Possible to Have a Quiet Time as a Christian Mom?

Is it Even Possible to Have a Quiet Time as a Christian Mom?

Blogger’s note: Whimsy in My Cup is not purely a ‘women’s blog’ or a ‘mommy blog’ but today’s post is geared to all my mama’s out there! 

I’ve been a Christian since I was 7 years old. I’ve been a mom for nearly 18 years. All of my life, I’ve heard that, to be a good Christian, you have to

read your Bible,

pray and

go to church.

We don’t always use that wording but it seems that these are the three things Christianity is often boiled down to.

I think these are three very good things to do. I also think that this narrow view of what a Christian is and the ability to check off (or not) these things, is actually a detriment to, what is supposed to be a very real and experiential relationship with a very real and near God.

The days we cannot tick off the “big three”, we judge and condemn ourselves and, because of the shame, pull away from the Lord. The more this happens, we can find ourselves feeling a million miles away from the One with whom we long to have a relationship.

Throw motherhood into this equation and we have many women feeling as though being both a “mommy” and a “good Christian” is pretty much impossible. We barely have time for a shower, how do we have time to pray and read our Bibles and, some weeks, even get to church on Sunday?

I know incredible women who have woken up earlier than their children all their lives to get that daily Bible and prayer time in. I admire that and wish I could have been disciplined enough to do that, but it’s not been my experience. Does that mean there’s no hope for me, as a busy mom, to be a good Christian as well? A big fat no!

Because, here’s the deal – though we need to spend time in the Word, we need to pray and of course, go to church – it doesn’t have to always have to look like 60, 30 or even 15 minutes of uninterrupted “quiet time”.

If being a Christian truly is a relationship, not a bunch of rules or behavioral standards, we can totally do relationship in the midst of mommying. Here’s a few keys…

Don’t read your Bible to check it off the “good Christian” daily list. Read it to feed your spirit. Sometimes you only get a verse or two read. And that’s OK! One simple, yet profound, truth from his living Word can nourish your spirit all day long (or even a couple days if that’s the way life rolls).

You don’t have to hide yourself in the closet to pray. Prayer truly is “having a conversation with God”. It’s lovely to have an uninterrupted conversation – I don’t get many of them as a mom, how about you? You can have a running conversation with God all. day. long. Prayer doesn’t have to be a religious, bow your head and close your eyes, time. Just talk to Him throughout your day, telling Him how you’re feeling, asking for His wisdom and help, and expecting Him to talk back!

And the last of the big three… Going to church. I highly recommend being involved in a family of believers – we need each other. If you miss a week because… you know, life… don’t get condemned, go the next Sunday. Can’t be involved in every service or small group throughout the week? Embrace the season you’re in, and connect where you can.

Our relationship with the Lord is an eternity-long connection. Don’t let crazy human standards heap shame on you. Connection doesn’t look the same for every body and every relationship. The important thing is you don’t disconnect or pull away from Him. Draw near, any way you can, in the midst of the craziness of life and parenting. He promises, if you draw near to Him, He’ll draw near to you! (James 4:8)


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When It’s Time to Say Goodbye to Your Baby

When It’s Time to Say Goodbye to Your Baby

We did it. We said goodbye and left her hundreds of miles from home. It wasn’t easy. But it’s oh, so good. She’s ready to fly. Ready to rock the world with the gift of her. It would be selfish to hold her back. But it doesn’t make it any more fun. 

Click below to read my thoughts over at Her View From Home on saying good-bye to our firstborn daughter…


Why I Want to Be a Safe Place for My Kids

Why I Want to Be a Safe Place for My Kids

Penises, PMS and curly poop.

All of these subjects have come up in conversation with my daughters over the last couple weeks. None of those words were EVER discussed between me and my own mother. She is more private and reserved and my mom didn’t talk about those kinds of things…

I want my kids to feel safe to talk with me about anything. I don’t want any word, any topic or subject to feel taboo. If it comes up in their life, I don’t ever want them thinking they can’t bring it up with their mama. So, I’m always a bit proud when conversation gets a little edgy. Because teenagers. And toddlers...

You can read the rest of this article over at Her View From Home, where it originally posted on May 22nd. Click HERE to read.

Summertime Freedom and Flexibility

Summertime Freedom and Flexibility

By nature, I’m a structured, organized person but over the last 8 years, as we’ve been traveling, I’ve swung to the other end of the spectrum. We had a traveling schedule but having a daily schedule or even a bedtime schedule for our family just could not happen.

We learned to become the type of family that thrives on freedom and flexibility. So, when we made the decision to put two of our four kiddos in public school this past year, we definitely weighed the sacrifice of our choice before making it. In the end, we knew it was the right thing and it has really been a great year for us!

Now that our traveling looks a little different and our kiddos have transitioned to public school life, the organized and structured me has started to return. Trying not to obsess with scheduling every minute of my day but, at the same time, bringing some sort of structure back into our lives. Ah, the tension of a well-lived life.

And now summer…

Summer vacation is, well, usually anything but a vacation in most households. Though, we haven’t filled up our summer with sports camps or summer jobs, we will be spending a lot of time on the road this year. Our family will be away from home, 33+ out of 60 days of the brief summer reprieve. Eek!

And, as much I love that we have the flexibility to do this, the re-emerging organizational part of me is freaking a little. It’s freaking because it knows, it will only be a blink and a half before it’s “Back to School” again. How much do I want to lean into freedom when I know structure will be needed again soon? Maybe you’re a bit like me.

So parents, for my household and yours, how do we be wise with our cherished summer break?

Enjoy the moment of freedom and flexibility. And use structure and organization to do that.

13 weeks, guys. The fact is, the summer season will pass in thirteen short weeks and we will all be back into the hustle and bustle of the upcoming school year. So, even if your summer is looking jam-packed with summer camps, traveling or summer jobs, be intentional about enjoying the season with your family.

Take advantage of the long summer days and plan for a few picnics, some trips to the park, a movie date with your teen. Go get ice-cream once a week. In fact, ask your kids right here at the start of summer break what they would like to see happen with your family this summer. I’m sure most teens will answer that they’ll want to sleep! But press them a little and see what fun things they’d enjoy doing and create a plan to make it happen!

Structure and organization can be our friend or our enemy. Freedom and flexibility have the same potential. Let’s use some organization to be intentional about using this summer’s freedom and flexibility for connecting with our kids and enjoying the moment!

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Mean Mom

Mean Mom

There seems to be a thing out there that being a ‘mean mom’ is equivalent to being a ‘good mom’. A mean mom says ‘no’. A mean mom won’t give her kid a piece of candy. A mean mom won’t buy that toy. There’s high-fives all around with moms on this one and I don’t get it.

If we set boundaries that make our kids unhappy, we justify it and flaunt it with a #meanmom hashtag. It’s a bit of a “I’m an adult, you’re the kid, so deal with it.” status. If you’re familiar with Danny Silk’s teachings, it’s the “red truck, yellow truck” syndrome. “Only one person can be powerful and it sure the heck isn’t you, kid!” (Yet, many of us will never set boundaries in friendships because we don’t want others to think less of us. But that’s a different story.)

We wouldn’t gloat in being a ‘mean wife’, a ‘mean neighbor’ or a ‘mean friend’. So why do we think being a ‘mean mom’ is something to cheer about? Why do we think that treating our kids, in a way we would never treat another adult, is something to be celebrated?

The definition of ‘mean’ is: offensive; selfish; unaccommodating; small minded; stingy; miserly; inferior in grade, quality, or character….

Should I continue?

All of those words are gross. I don’t think any mama (or daddy) honestly would ever want to identify with them. So why do we?

With our kids, when we set boundaries or make decisions and then advocate them by saying, “Yeah, well, I’m just a mean mom.”, we are setting a precedent for less than stellar relationship with our kids and, even worse, creating a very wrong mindset of who God is for them. As Believers, we know God is our Father, what you may not realize is that our kiddos are making up their mind as to what kind of Father He is by who YOU are to them.

Do I make decisions and set boundaries for my kids that they sometimes don’t understand and, bluntly, sometimes straight piss them off? Yes. Do I do this because I’m a mean mom? No. Never.

Just as I am always striving to be the best me I can be, in my marriage, in my friendships, with co-workers… I am striving to be the best me I can be, as a parent. And mean is something I never want to be. Mean is something that is not the best me.

Some antonyms for ‘mean’ are:







Those words describe the kind of person I want to be. The kind of mom I want to be. And definitely the kind of Father that our God IS and that I want to represent to my kids.

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Graduation: A Changing of the Seasons

Graduation: A Changing of the Seasons

I’m taking the liberty of swapping subjects between today and Friday… Today will be “Family, Coffee and Fun” and Friday will be “Ministry, Jesus, and the Word”. Enjoy! 🙂 

The days are long but the years are short.

This quote has been resonating with me the last couple days. If you’re not in the right moment, the words seem mushy and trite. But, for me, as I am starting to feel the gravity of my firstborn graduating high school and getting ready to move across the country, these words ring so true.

This weekend we filled our home with 100+ friends and family congratulating our daughter on her completion of high school and wishing her well as she will head off to ministry school soon. The celebration marks a changing of the seasons… which is wonderful and exciting and a bit brutal on a mama’s heart. But I’ll try not to cry too much… (Read all about that in THIS post)

I don’t feel like I was a great mom when my first three were littles. Though my dreams came true when I got married and had my first babies, I was selfish and a bit resentful towards my husband. I was a martyr and, like most young mamas, lonely in my mothering. I hate that I said, “hurry up” way too much that I didn’t get down and play house enough. I didn’t cultivate the safe place that I so desire to be now. But experience and time and a little (no, a lot of) wisdom from friends who were a season or two ahead of me, helped me grow in my mothering and I’m grateful to say a lot of has changed.

But life is too way too short to sit around wishing you coulda, woulda done things differently. Seriously. While looking through old pics that we had displayed this weekend, I can’t believe how the years seriously passed so. dang. fast. As I look ahead, the next five will be gone in a blink as well. See, in three years we’ll do this whole graduation party thing again, and then again in another two years after that. Five years. In five short years, we’ll most likely be down to just three of us living in our home. (Praise Him for that surprise baby 9 years later… prolonging that ’empty nest’)

sisters stroda littles

Yes, indeed the years have been short. And yet, I remember the season, when my first three were age 5 and under and I couldn’t see the end of that physically exhausting, yet rewarding part of our parenting journey. The days were long, sometimes the nights were longer but now I can clearly see that the years were so, so short.

So, as I process and celebrate and yes, even grieve a little in this moment, I give a hearty “Amen!” to the beautiful friend who told me recently, “I’d do it all over again. All the mistakes, everything…” Because those long days turned into short years and, though I’m thrilled for the season ahead, I’m still missing those long days just a little.

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My Promise to My Children : Revisited

My Promise to My Children : Revisited

If you missed the announcement on Tuesday, I’m taking the week off from writing new material – click HERE to read why (it’s a really important reason!).

Enjoy this article that originally ran September 13, 2013!

“My promise to my children. I am not your friend. I am your mom. I will stalk you, flip out on you, lecture you, drive you insane, be your worst nightmare & hunt you down like a bloodhound when needed because I LOVE YOU! When you understand that, I will know you are a responsible adult. You will NEVER find someone who loves, prays, cares and worries about you more than I do! Re-post if you are a parent and agree.”

This quote has gone around Facebook a time or two and I. hate. it. No worries, if you were one that shared it because you saw some element of truth in it, we can still be friends. But this will never be the way I parent my kids. It’s not my heart. I don’t think love and fear can exist in the same moment and this, my friends, is FULL of fear. So, I’ve taken the opportunity to use this quote as a springboard and write my own promise to my own girls. While my heart echos this apostle’s words …

“The greatest joy in my life is hearing how my children are walking in truth.” 

~ I AM your friend AND your mom. I pray that we can always trust each other’s hearts and share openly about everything – our mistakes, our pains, our accomplishments, our blessings. I have wisdom you do not have because I’ve been at this a little longer than you. You have insight that I don’t have because you see things differently than me. I pray we can learn from each other and grow together in our friendship for the rest of our lives.

~I can’t (and don’t want to be) with you 24/7 so I won’t stalk you – Holy Spirit will keep His promise and be with you ALWAYS. I will pray that you always have a heart and an ear to hear His voice saying, “This is the way. Walk in it.” And I will celebrate the moments when you could have chosen wrong but chose right… just because you love Him. Not because you were afraid of getting in trouble.

~I probably will flip out on you every once in a while. But I don’t want to. In these moments, please respectfully remind me that’s not who I am. That it’s my heart to keep things honorable between us and letting fear and control be a part of my life doesn’t help either one of us.

~Unfortunately I will probably lecture you at times. I’m sure you will roll your eyes – if you could do it inwardly, that would be great. But if I’m lecturing, it’s because what I’m telling you is very important to me. And I pray it becomes very important to you. I will do my best to make my words empowering and encouraging, not condemning and depressing. Pray for me.

~Because we are two different people with two different personalities, I’m sure we will both get under each other’s skin sometimes. But it is never my heart to intentionally drive you insane. Let’s let grace be the atmosphere in our lives, ok?

~I hope to be a model of who you would like to be in life, not someone you dread. I’m not perfect but I hope to instill in you the Jesus that is in me. And I hope that you someday look back at your life at home with affection. With happy memories of the love and joy.

~If someday, God forbid, you get a little off track and I get scared for you, I pray I can let Jesus rule my heart with His peace. And not let fear and control grip me. I will remind you that you are a powerful person full of the Holy Spirit. I will pray for you and love you where you are at because that’s what Jesus does for us. I will remind you of WHO’s you are and the destiny He has placed in you.

…And THAT, sweet daughters, is the way I will love you!