Monthly Archives: January 2017

Smart Shopping with Small Children


The following tips can help you and your toddler enjoy your shopping outings.

  • PREPARE. “We’re going shopping.” Prepare your child for the day. Explain where you are going and whom you are shopping for. Your child will be more interested in helping if it is to buy a vase for Granny or a shirt for Daddy.
  • PLAN YOUR STOPS. “First we’re going to the clothing store, then the shoe store, then for a snack.” This is not a time to browse; plan where you will go and exactly what you will look for. Plan your shopping, but plan your breaks as well. Let your toddler know when you will break for a treat.
  • PACK. “I have a surprise for you when we check out.” Pack your diaper bag with interesting diversions. Snacks, juice, small toys the child hasn’t seen for a while, and a puppet are all good to have along. Don’t let your child have access to the bag, but save the treats to use throughout the day. The puppet will be a great help choosing things and “talking” to the child while you shop.
  • PICK YOUR BATTLES. “You can’t get out of the stroller, but you can sit this way for a change.” Realize that your toddler would really rather be at home, sitting on the floor playing with his toys than out amongst all these people he can only see from the waist down. This is not the time to have strict rules. Be flexible. Identify with the child’s frustration and try to help him cope. If he gets fussy, remember that he may be hungry, wet, bored, or stiff from sitting. Take a break.
  • PRAISE YOUR CHILD. “You are being a great little shopper and I appreciate your help.” This is a great opportunity to increase your child’s self-esteem and really talk to her one on one. Don’t save your praise; start out small and start out soon. Thank her for getting in the stroller, staying seated, holding your hand, or simply waiting in line.

As you strap your toddler into the car seat and put the packages and stroller in the trunk, you and your toddler can both feel a sense of accomplishment.


  1. Go to a low traffic area of the mall and let your child walk or run. He shouldn’t be expected to sit all day. Save a treat for when he gets back in the stroller or cart.
  2. Let him sit on the token (quarter) ride-on toys outside of stores. You may not even need to put money in them.
  3. Sit in the middle of the mall and people watch together. Talk to her face to face (You may have been behind her pushing all morning and she may miss you.)
  4. Visit the pet store.
  5. Let your toddler throw pennies in the fountain or into a charity barrel or bin.
  6. Visit the video store and take a couple of minutes to watch the movie being shown (if age appropriate).
  7. Stop for a snack.
  8. Find a quiet corner in a bookstore and read a couple of pages to your child.


NOTE: This article was originally published in the December 1996 issue of ParentLife magazine. Lifeway Press, Nashville, TN.

WRITTEN BY: Linda J. Beck, “a family manager. She and her husband have three children.”  Wow.  Had i known then what I know now….

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Life’s Too Short

2shortStepping out of the shower, I grab the new, fluffy, foam green towel and I start to dry off.  Actually, I start to disperse the water droplets on my body to a new location on my body. My new fluffy towel looks so pretty, but it just doesn’t do the job! I decided to buy new towels when at Christmas time one of my guests grabbed a battered, faded Bob the Builder towel out of the linen closet.  I dug deeper to find an appropriate towel and thought that I would have to upgrade all the towels in my home soon.  I headed to the store and attempted to buy nice bath towels.  Not bath sheets, bath towels.  I also wanted them to be able to fit in my designated bath towel location, so I didn’t want them to be super thick.  We chose ones we thought were appropriate and I decided to retire all the towels in my home.  Even the ones that I considered the “good towels” until after my shopping trip.  Unfortunately, I am not happy with the new towels and long for Bob the Builder and its rough exfolliating texture.  I don’t like fluff that doesn’t absorb.  I finished attempting to dry with the towel and declared, “Life’s too short to use a towel every day that I don’t enjoy!”  I dressed and went to the basement to find the bag that contained my former towels now named “rags” and chose a couple to return to the fold.

It was at that moment that I realized that just this week alone, I’ve recognized some “Life’s Too Short” considerations.  For example, life’s too short for me to pick at the end of really cheap packing tape.  I have 5 rolls of the stuff and I spend WAY more time picking to find the end than I do actually packing up the parcel.  The picking and tearing and picking some more routine makes me frustrated. Every. Single. Time! Life’s too short for that.  I had George replace the rolls.  Call it a Valentine’s Day gift if you must, but Life’s too short for me to spend another second on that task!

Those are just a few examples and maybe you have some of your own.  Life’s too short to eat generic catsup. Life’s too short to stuff yourself into the wrong size jeans.  Life’s too short to wear ill-fitting shoes. Life’s too short to spend time mending a button on a shirt you don’t love. Life’s too short to drink bad coffee, have boring hair or skip dessert. The list goes on. However, in addition to this petty list, there is also the important list.

Life’s too short to waste time to hold grudges, to wait to forgive or to hate. Life’s too short to be anything but happy.

Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.                                                            — James 4:14

So teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom                                                                                                                                             –Psalm 90:12

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Excuses or Reasons?


Sometimes in life, someone says something that makes you ponder it for days or weeks or even longer. I had this happen to me about a couple of months ago. I was talking to a person I’ve respected since I was a child. We were commenting on why someone’s level of commitment was so low. I said, “Oh! And the excuses she uses are ridiculous!” He said, “Isn’t it interesting that when we want to get out of something we have a great reason, yet when someone else is trying to get out of something, we call it an excuse.” Ouch. Was this individual using an excuse or did she have a reason?

When I looked these two terms up in the dictionary, I was surprised that they have very similar definitions. The word excuse has examples of ‘let off from doing something,’ ‘to be an acceptable reason for’ and ‘something offered as a reason for being excused.’ REALLY?! Reason means, ‘a statement given to explain an act,’ or ’cause.’ So both explain something…it’s just whether we personally think the explanation is valid or not whether we call it an excuse or a reason.

I find that I have both in my life. When I can’t get any writing done because my family is so distracting is that a reason or an excuse? When too many appointments make it difficult to visit someone and I tell them I haven’t been around because I’ve been too busy, is that an excuse or a reason? Only I can say for sure. Just as my dear friend pointed out, it probably depends on who is offering up the explanation and who is receiving it.

I appreciate my friend calling me out on my flippant comment and I do hope that I will evaluate more closely my own shortcoming of making my excuses feel like valid reasons and I hope to extend grace to those who are offering them up. It appears that I am not alone in this struggle as the Bible addressed this very thing years ago! I guess that’s where my friend heard it.

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.    —Romans 2:1


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Stringing Beads


I read somewhere that being a homemaker is like stringing beads and forgetting to knot the end.  How true that can be.  And being a mother is just about the same scenario. The laundry is never finished. Just when I empty the last basket, the baby spits up. After the sink drains of warm, soapy, water, I find a cup under the couch and have no idea what was drunk out of it…or when. The everyday chores are just that, every day! The kids are bathed and smell great until they eat their next meal. The fresh scent of baby powder is quickly replaced with dirty diaper odor. An entire box of cereal gets dumped within minutes of running the vacuum. When my husband comes home from work and innocently asks, “What did you do today?” I could cry. He can’t see what I’ve accomplished since none of the tasks stay done. I haven’t sat down all day and still don’t feel I can because things are not yet in order.

Before I had children, I was a person who thrived on accomplishments and finishing tasks. At the office, when I finished a form and filed it away, there was a true sense of completion. With my new job, Motherhood, I haven’t had that feeling and I know that my job as a mother is just beginning.  Three-and-a -half years into this new career I recognize that my need to complete a task is as important as ever. I feel so pleased with myself when I get to the last page of a book – even if it is a book on sibling rivalry. I now try to sit down and cross-stitch or write every day just so that I can see something I did  was not undone in the same day. I realize that my personality requires that I take some time daily to accomplish something concrete. My job of nurturing my children and my daily tasks are important, but so is my sense of accomplishment. For now, I will try to complete something small for myself every day, while continuing to do all the other tasks of a homemaker and mother. Then, when my children are grown, and the knot is tied at the end of this string of beads, I will really know what it feels like to be rewarded with a completed project. I hope that it will be a project well done because I also took the time to care for myself.

NOTE: The above was written and published in May of 1994.  You would think that my kids have grown and that I am now able to accomplish all sorts of things.  The truth is, however, that I had….drumroll please….more kids!  I have three children who are grown and I couldn’t be more pleased with those completed projects. I have two left in the nest and it is my prayer that I still value the sames things I did over 20 years ago and that as I complete those mundane tasks, I still attempt to complete something for myself.  Sometimes it’s reading, sometimes writing and sometimes simply going out to lunch with a friend.  Which, by the way, sounds really good to me, so give me a call if you are available! 

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Inauguration Day

us-capitol-west-front-inauguration-2009-barack-obamaI am not political, though I am aware.  I have opinions, but I choose not to share.  It’s who I am and who I feel I was made to be.  I’ve listened to opinions on all sides and I respect you even if your opinion is different than mine.  So, I will not share my opinion regarding today’s big event….however, I will share my opinion of what the conflict surrounding today’s event does to my soul.

I decided to scroll through Facebook this morning and I see some positive and some negative comments regarding Trump’s Inauguration.  Both make me feel a little uneasy…then I scroll a little further and see the following post:


A little more scrolling and I am relieved to see my all time favorite scripture:


And lastly I can rest assured with the lyrics from Natalie Grant’s “King of the World.”

May God Bless America….Listen in:

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A Hand Held


As far as I know my friend’s journey began on December 4th.  I saw a Facebook post that read, “As I go to bed tonight, I go with a heavy heart, Tomorrow I say a final goodbye to my Mom.”  Wow.  What a sentence, I can’t imagine. My heart ached for her and her family as they went through this tragedy.  The following day I saw a post that read, “We had a miracle! When we took her off the vent to say goodbye, she woke up, knows who everyone is and can move her legs and arms.  She is not out of the woods yet, but she has a chance now.”  What a roller coaster. I reached out to this friend and invited her to tea, though our schedules never seemed to mesh.  She, herself, ended up in the hospital for a while and her mother’s saga continued.  December 9th read, “Keep my mom and my family in your prayers, she had surgery, but remains in a coma but breathing on her own.”  It is hard to comprehend what series of emotions you would be dealing with in this situation.  Up, then down, then up again, then down.  I guess it’s like that in many hospital settings. January 6th read, “They are moving mom to Long Term Care.” (Up again?)

My friend reached out to me again on January 11th with a Facebook message that said, “In hospice now, they predict 4 days at most.” Oh dear. Heart breaks again.

Finally, on January 15th, I got a message that said, “It looks like today is the day the Lord has chosen to take her home.”  It’s only been a day and I haven’t heard yet what yesterday brought for this family, but I have had them on my mind and in my prayers constantly.

Interestingly, my in-laws are cleaning out their house and they gave me a box of books to sort through.  Many of them were pitched but The Friendship Book of Francis Gay from 1963 stayed with me. The book has a small writing for each day of the year. I was curious about its content.  I had only owned the book a couple of days when I decided to turn to the current day’s selection:   January 15 reads:

These past few nights my thoughts have been in a quiet room, in a neighbour’s house, where a light shines all through the night. In that room a fine old lady whom we have known for many years is dying, and for some part of each night the Lady of the House is with her. When first the Lady of the House sat at the bedside she took the old lady’s hand in her own and held it. She felt her grasp returned, and the ageing face turned to her with a smile of gratitude. Quite soon our old friend fell asleep and only then did the Lady of the House release her hand.unnamed

Since then she has gone back every night, and each time the hand moves across the bedclothes and holds her own. And there they remain, not speaking, for long, long minutes while eternity waits and reassurance seems to flow from one hand to the other.  For it does, you know. Many a time I have marvelled at the comfort which a firm and friendly hand can give near journey’s end. I am sure it is not the grip of fear or dread…it’s as though the one who is going seeks only the hand of a loved one before the last link is broken. How I honour those who are able to make the last hours on earth so much easier for someone.

How incredibly timely.  I don’t suppose a Scottish author who wrote those words in 1963 would know what a blessing they would be to me in 2017.  As I continue to think of my friend, it is my hope that she was able to treasure whatever time she had with her mom. May she and her family recognize the importance of their just being there.  May they all have felt the “reassurance flow from one hand to the next” and may they feel reassurance and hope for the days to come.disegno-floreale-con-bordi-arricciati_318-45888When I looked for a scripture with the word “hope” in it, there were 180 to choose from!  You truly can have hope in the Lord! Enjoy these few:

You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word. –Psalm 119:114

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.  –Psalm 62:5

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. –Psalm 31:24

We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. –Psalm 33:20

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Drama in the Big Scheme of Things

65f65cabdf08d84f8a204e05f610870e_drama-queen-tags-queen-drama-drama-queen-clipart_241-183We have a 10-year-old girl “Drama Queen” in our house and the word “drama” has become a very common vocabulary word in our lives.  Every day there is some sort of “drama” we are dealing with.  Miss Susie So-and-So didn’t talk to her at lunch, the teacher didn’t explain the homework well enough or her brother laughed when she asked him to pass her the salt.  It always seems to be something.  Though it is a bit annoying, it has provided us as parents with the opportunity to teach her some truths that we have learned over the years.  For example, your best friend in the fifth grade may truly not be your Best Friend Forever, you really won’t die if you don’t pass this test and everyone else isn’t really going to (fill in the blank.) Susie will speak to you again and really someday you won’t even remember what you were fighting about….and eventually you may even run into her in the grocery store and for a moment forget her name! Give it time, you may even laugh at yourself someday.

We parents know. It’s not a big deal in the big scheme of things, so why all the drama?

I was sitting in church yesterday and had an ah-ha moment.  It was if the Lord himself was shaking His head with a crooked smile on His face.  “Oh Linda, this is not a big deal. One day you won’t even remember why you were bitter about this. You will realize that person didn’t intentionally hurt you and you may even recognize how silly you are being.” God knows this is not a big deal in the big scheme of things…no matter what it is. We don’t need all the drama.

I gave it some thought and recognize that this house has more than one “Drama Queen” and even a couple of “Drama Kings” from time to time.  Just as it would be easier for our 10-year-old to listen to her parents and look at the big picture, so too, would it be easier for us all to listen to God and look at the big picture. He knows the big scheme of things, He created it!

 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  –Jeremiah 29:11


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Book Review: A 14 Day Romance Challenge-Reigniting Passion in Your Marriage

e8100be21a4b2fc2f8793bf1c68e6dccA challenge is sometimes defined as, “a call to take part in a contest or competition, especially a duel.” Anyone who knows me knows that I am not competitive and I certainly would not like to participate in a duel, so what would make me want to consider accepting a challenge?  A book with a catchy title and a promise to reignite passion in my marriage, that’s what and all in the context of 14 days.

A 14 Day Romance Challenge – Reigniting Passion in Your Marriage by Sharon Jaynes is a 163 page book that “challenges” wives to do nice, little surprises for their spouse.  Doing nice things for your husband should just happen, right?  Well, let’s be real, without a little encouragement, sometimes we wives just don’t bother!  If you’ve read some of my blog posts you know I’m all about the lists, the tasks and checking things off, so this book was right up my alley.  Small chapters to read, a few ideas, pick one to try and the day is off to a good start.  I sincerely had fun gifting my husband with little notes and surprises and I had even more fun encouraging my friends to do it too.  So, if you were one of my friends who received a “thank your husband for something right now” text, now you know why.  I just wanted to encourage you like Sharon encouraged me.

She suggests we try a contest in our home on “seeing who can out-serve the other! The apostle Paul encourages:”Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other“(Romans 12:9-10 NLT.)

It’s really been fun to do some silly things to beat the post Christmas winter blues and I think the ideas in this book would be great to try around Valentine’s Day.  One of the last chapters in the book is 150 additional ways to romance your husband, so this should keep the spark alive until after Memorial Day!  If you want to borrow my copy, just let me know!


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January Christmas Card

fullsizerenderThe Christmas Cards never went out.  They rarely do.  I sometimes am organized enough to write a note to my church family and I did that, but all of the other people that I think about often just never know it.  Though I receive a card from them and it warms my heart, my card never arrives in their mailbox to warm theirs.  How selfish!  Why don’t I take the time to reciprocate and repay a card for a card?  I really should.  And, sometimes I do.  Sometimes in January I make an effort to respond to those cards I received.  I hope this is one of those Januaries, but it is now the 9th and I’ve yet to start.  It could be a LONG year!  So, in case you get a card, and in the better chance that you don’t, I decided that I would “send” you a Christmas letter via a blog post.

Dear Friend,

I do hope your holidays went well.  Our family was blessed with a great time of being together.  I don’t take that for granted like I used to.  Kevin currently owns a home in Bloomfield (Pittsburgh, PA) and though he helped his Dad out with Kevco this past year, he is moving on and returning to academia.  He will be attending California University of PA in the spring full time.  Lori & Cale live in Richmond, VA where Lori works for the Ryan White Foundation on AIDS research through Virginia Commonwealth University.  She is loving Richmond and we’ve been blessed to visit a couple of times.  We look forward to some warm weather trips to bike and hike, but she forbid us to visit in the sweltering summer heat.

Nicole is still Nannying in Denver, CO and we love to visit her and “her boys.”  She will be given the blessing of influencing a new baby in the family in March and we can’t wait to meet her/him!  She hurt her ankle bouldering at a gym, so we are hopeful that she can get that injury healed in 2017 to revive her outdoorsy lifestyle! She is also attending college part time which means that currently 3/5 of my children are college students!

Paul is a senior this year and attends Karns City High School 2 days a week and Glade Run Transitions Program 3 days a week.  He loves the work at GR, but loves the social aspect of KCHS, so he has the best of both worlds.  He was very active on the Soccer team in the fall and currently films the games for the basketball team which keeps him very busy.  He recently visited Nicole and traveled  home solo from Colorado.  He did great.

Kaylee is in 5th grade and loves all things purple, pink and sparkly!  She enjoys gymnastics and  dance and she tolerates her violin and piano lessons, but she LOVES singing and acting.  She sang the National Anthem for KCHS many times and performed solo at the Butler Blue Sox game.  She is always singing (though we often ask her to stop!) and she has her iPod in her hands at all times.

George is “semi-retired.”  He goes to Kevco 1-2 days/week and spends the rest of his time running kids to appointments & fixing stuff around the house, though he would like to hunt more.  Maybe when we finally get the house stuff done.  (Like that will ever happen!)  We really enjoy spending every weekend at the River House in the summer though that means just a different environment for George to fix stuff and instead of running kids in the car, he drags them behind the boat!

I manage to keep myself busy with lots of things, though no one can exactly figure out what they are…myself included.  I have retired from Usborne Books and More after 21 years.  (Though I can still hook you up if you are interested!)  I’ve maintained my many friendships from there and make every effort to meet up for lunches and teas as often as possible. I do still read my Bible and journal daily and continue to hope to find time to read and write more.  I know, I know, we always have time to do the things we really want to do.  I’ll get to it!

Christmas found us safe and healthy and it also found us a pair of kittens to adopt.  Claude and Sophia will fill whatever empty spot is being left by those leaving the nest.  They are adorable (which is why they rated the Christmas Card photo!)

It is my prayer that you will have a happy and prosperous new year and that you will sincerely try to truly see all the blessings that have been bestowed on you!  They are there but sometimes you have to be a little more intentional looking for them.

God Bless You!




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I Love You

14344892_1327377050636259_7147128361354595876_nSome people bring a certain light to every situation.  They are always there with a hug, a kind word and genuine care.  My friend, Shelley, is one of those people.  When you see her, you just smile because you know she is going to make you feel special.  She is going to encourage you intentionally or even unintentionally….it’s just who she is.  I want to share (with her permission) her Facebook post today to encourage you to start the new year out right.  Tell people you love them and strive to bring joy to others!

I feel compelled to send this out there today. Time after time in my life I have not listened to that inner voice we have that is called intuition. Well a few years back I stopped doing that. I now listen to that gut feeling and it always seems to pay off in the long run. As of late I have had a few people ask me WHY do you tell people you barely know That you love them, you don’t even know them! I have and always will believe that people meet each other for reasons bigger than us. Everyone at some point and time is a stranger, UNTIL you open up your heart and get to know them, I have made MANY friends this way and they all have a very special place in my heart. If I had never been kind to them , then I would have missed out on a lot of wonderful relationships. We are not promised tomorrow and I want everyone I care about to know it!!!! I want them to remember me as a loving person , who loved everyone !! I put forth effort to know people who make me happy, who I feel cares about people the same way I do, people who are kind. So to all the people who ask me WHY…This is why!! Take a minute to go out of your comfort zone to get to know someone, Smile and ask someone how they are. Shake someones hand and look them in the eye and say NICE TO MEET YOU!!!! It will do your heart some GOOD , For Goodness sake tell people you love just that…I LOVE YOU!!!!

“Love your neighbor as yourself.” –Matthew 19:19b

Thanks Shelley for being you!  I love you!



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