Book Review: How to Solve Your People Problems


How to Solve Your People Problems by Dr. Alan Godwin

My mother recommended this book to me. I read a lot of fiction, but not so many self-help type books. But she found this book to be helpful in dealing with some difficult relationships and thought I might learn from it as well. 

And learn from it I did. The book is divided into three main sections. First, there's a bit of practical information on conflict resolution. I didn't learn much new here, but the reminder was good and laid the groundwork for where the author was heading. The second section describes how to put those conflict resolution principles into practice with reasonable people. The author is making a distinction between reasonable and unreasonable people (whom he deals with in the third section). 

This differentiation was new to me. To examine the way that someone handles life and conflict and thus see their behavior as reasonable or unreasonable and then to be able to respond accordingly... what a concept! I learned a lot from these 2nd and 3rd sections of the book. I re-examined my own tendencies towards reasonable or unreasonable responses. But most significantly, the book gave practical tools for dealing with others in each camp.

I have always been one to want to talk things out. I have always believed that if we could just talk long enough, go deep enough, get to the heart of the matter, we could reach a compromise or an agreement. However, this book asserts that there are times when dealing with unreasonable people when talking will only make things worse. Less talking, more action is needed. That action may look like boundaries, like avoiding discussions on hot topics, or it may look like walking away from the situation when things start to escalate. 

I have already recommended this book to a few friends who have their own difficult relationships. 

I found it to be a quick read but very insightful and eye-opening, especially if you are in the midst of a relationship struggle and are completely unsure how to get out of it! 

Two thumbs up for How to Solve Your People Problems!

More to Love


A Special Valentine Message 

This is a day set aside to think about those we love.
We are excited to announce that we will have a new someone to love in our family coming this fall. 

We are expecting a baby in September. 
We are all super excited!

Thanks be to God, the Giver of Life. 

Taxes and Happiness


It's that time of year again - tax season! We have very simple taxes which I can prepare myself and file online. I was working on this a few days ago and wanted to share these few reflections. 

Our family had a rough year in 2014, financially. 
My husband was under-employed, working only a part-time job for 4 months last year. Then he was unemployed for another 6 weeks. Then he got a great job that he really enjoys and pays a good wage. Early in the year, I stepped down from my very part-time job at our church, as it was too much to handle with our new baby. So, as you can imagine, there was a large financial toll to all these job transitions, resulting in much less income in 2014 than in previous years.

HOWEVER... as I looked back over the year, my heart welled up in thankfulness. God completely provided for our needs. We never were late paying bills, even the large medical ones for our baby girl's birth/delivery. We didn't lose our house - didn't even come close to that! God took care of us. I praise Him for His faithfulness to us! 

Secondly, I was reminded that money doesn't buy happiness. While our year from a financial perspective was dismal, our family enjoyed a wonderful year. We all loved having a baby in our home again. What delight and joy and laughter a baby brings! While we may not have taken a family vacation in 2014 or made any big purchases, we were happy. We were together. We were loving life as we shared it together as a family. We enjoyed a simpler season of life together and it was beautiful. 

"There is a time for everything; a season for every activity under heaven." There is a time to spend and a time to save. Yet God is the Provider and Giver of Good Gifts no matter what season you find yourself in. This is the wonderful truth He has shown to me this week. Thank you, God!

Snow Fun


Winter has finally arrived!
 In fact we had about 18 inches of snow in 24 hours early last week. I love that... when we can stay inside the warm house and watch it fall. 

My kids have enjoyed playing in the snow almost daily. Even shoveling snow is fun, when you've been waiting for snow to finally come! Daddy helped the kids build a snow fort.

Here's my oldest daughter pulling baby girl on her sled. Oh, how she loved this and squealed in delight!

Hooray for snow fun!  

Serving the Lord with Gladness


Psalm 100 has always been a favorite of mine. 

This Psalm starts with a wonderful call to worship.

"Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness. Come before Him with joyful singing." 

Notice the words joyfully, gladness and joyful. This is not a call to serve God begrudgingly or with bitterness. They have absolutely no place. Instead, we serve our God with joyful hearts, with gladness and with happy singing. I love that! 

For whatever reason, I almost always have a song in my heart. Usually it's an upbeat, joyful praise song. Sometimes I remember the words, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I make up songs and make up words to go with them. To me, a joyful heart equates to a happy, singing heart. 

The Psalm continues. "Know that the Lord Himself is God. It is He who made us and not we ourselves. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture." 

This section is a great reminder of God's bigness, how He is wholly other than us. He is the Creator God. He is the Sustaining God. He alone is God. 

Then the Psalm concludes, back where it began - with praise! 

"Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to the Lord, bless His name. For the Lord is good. His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations."

What a beautiful Psalm. What a beautiful reminder of God's part in this world - faithfulness, lovingkindness, goodness- and our part - thankfulness to Him, serving Him with gladness. He is so worthy! 

Serve Him with gladness today in whatever you do! 

Girls Getaway Weekend


My 11-year-old daughter and I just enjoyed a great girls getaway weekend together! 

This was part Christmas gift and part educational opportunity. At Christmas, I gave her a paper that explained that in January, she and I would enjoy a girls getaway weekend. We would stay at a hotel with a pool. We would get manicures and pedicures. We would eat out. We would relax and just hang out together. 

And that is what we did. 

However, I also had a bit of a hidden agenda. I had purchased Passport to Purity - a boxed kit that contains CDs, a parent guide and a "travel guide" for your preteen, all published by Family Life Today / Dennis and Barbara Rainey. This is a wonderful resource to begin a discussion with your preteen about the birds and the bees, all the changes they can expect the next few years, and to set some standards about dating. 

I admit that 11 seems young, as my girl isn't even thinking anything about boys or dating or the like. And yet, that is kind of the point - to give her a heads up before the changes take place, before her emotions are out of control and before her sexual drive awakens.

So we stayed at a nearby hotel with a pool, while Dad played Mr. Mom with the other two kids at home. We ate at her favorite restaurants. We enjoys manis / pedis for the first time ever (for her). We relaxed and listened to the CD sessions, did the object lessons / projects that they suggest and had some good discussions on this topic. 

I think she is 100% more prepared for her teen years now. And we are able to have open dialog about a sensitive topic, which I hope can continue. 

Thank you, Passport to Purity, for providing the resources we needed to make this a success in every way. 

Antique Barbie Kitchen Set


My mom is in her early 60s. When she was young, she received a Barbie Kitchen Set as a gift. She has kept it through the years and brings it out on occasion.

It is so neat! There is nothing like it on the market even today, which makes it all that much more special as it was made 50+ years ago. There are four pieces - a refrigerator (that opens and has play food inside), an oven (with a door that opens, and a turkey on a turning spit), a dishwasher (with real water that runs through it), and a sink (also with real water that runs out the faucet).  

While we visited over Christmas, she showed this set to my children for the first time. So fun to play with toys that Grandma played with those many years ago. 

Baby Girl Fun


Here are a few random fun shots of baby girl. 

Oh, how she loved playing with a vacuum popper at Grandma's house. She's taking her first shaky steps now, going a little further and gaining confidence each day.

She eats everything offered her, which is wonderful. 
Peppers, onions, meats...she's not picky at all. 
Here she was greatly enjoying some mashed potatoes.

When packing for our trip to Wisconsin for Christmas, 
this little one fit right in the luggage. 

Babies always love to play in big empty boxes. 
She is no exception.

She was feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the Christmas gifts at this celebration. 

We all are loving having this little lady in our family. She stole our hearts long ago, but we continue to delight her presence each day. Watching her giggle as she discovers new things, seeing her understanding develop as she learns more words, experiencing her first unsteady steps around the house, playing peek a boo... all bring us joy and remind us of that innocent wonderment of childhood. What a delight! 

Happy Birthday, Jesus!


Happy birthday, Jesus!

There is no other whose birth is celebrated worldwide 2000 years later. There is no other whose birth is celebrated by hundreds of songs written just for the occasion. 

This baby made the angels sing. 
This baby made a new star shine in the sky.
This baby is God's own Son. 
This baby is Jesus! 

Merry Christmas to one and all! 
And Happy Birthday, Jesus! 
How glad we are to celebrate YOU!

Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Birthdays Galore


With my son turning 7 in early December and then my daughter turning 1 in mid-December, we've been celebrating a lot this month! 

Here is my boy waiting as patiently as a 7-year-old can to open his gifts! His main gift was a plasma car, which has been a huge hit! 

Even my 11-year-old girl can ride on it. She will hold baby girl on her "lap" and ride it. They both love it!

He also received a GI JOE action figure from Grandma in Wisconsin. Here we were skyping with Grandma so she could watch him open it.

Here is baby girl on her birthday, receiving some gifts from Grandma in Wisconsin and opening them via Skype. A light-up push toy, a beautiful dress and lots of smiles. We love Skype... use it regularly to talk with Grandma so she can actually see the kids too. 

Happy birthday to these special kiddos! 

My hubby, my oldest daughter and I all have summer birthdays, which we celebrate in one big birthday bash. So I'm glad that these two kids have close birthdays too. We put up the birthday banner in early December and just leave it up for the whole month, as we prepare for Jesus' birthday at Christmastime as the ultimate birthday celebration! 

Christmas Kids


Christmas pictures of my favorite gifts!

Great smiles all around!

Look at those adorable Christmas kids!

And of course we had the usual difficulty of photographing a toddler... hard to snap the picture while she's still. But we did get some great shots!

So fun to have new pictures taken with all 3 kids. 

Christmas Specials


 Here are a few photos from our church's Christmas specials this weekend. The last few years, my kids have not wanted to participate. This year, they did. They did not want a part (no angels or Mary or anything "showy") but they did participate. 

My oldest daughter photobombing "Mary and Jesus" as they lined up to head in to the sanctuary 

My girl on the bottom right as "Joseph" said a few words

My boy, on the right, in the vest.

And a shot of me and my baby girl as we watched from the back. 

All the children looks so great when they are dressed up for special occasions like this. So I always remind myself that it's not the outside that matters, but what's in the heart. Nonetheless... my simple eyes and these pictures can only show the outside. I pray that all will take time to ponder the true meaning of Christmas, of Emmanuel, of God making His dwelling with man. 
Incredible! What a gift! Definitely worth celebrating!

Christmas Cookies


It's that time of year again. 
Can you smell the sweet smell of sugar cookies baking in the oven, hear the giggles of the children as they decorate their cookies with favorite colors and sprinkles, hear the pride in their voice as they show off their creations, and then listen to the hearty "mmmmm" as they eat the favorite cookie of their choosing.

Daddy and our 7-year-old boy had some fun together cutting out the cookies.

We had some friends over one morning this week to help decorate all the cookies. Fun times together!

I admit that I sometimes dread the extra time and effort it takes to do special things like this with the kids. Yet, I find that it is getting easier as the kids get older. They are truly helpers now, in rolling out dough and making the cookies, in decorating the cookies *nice* enough that we can consider giving some away with being embarrassed :-) and  in cleaning up the mess left behind after the sprinkle-fest occurs. 

So this is my reminder to self: despite the extra work, keep doing these special things. They are worth it and are indeed making memories that will last a lifetime.

My Baby Girl Turns One


My baby girl turns one this week. 

This has been such a wonderful year, having a baby in the house again. Of course, we've had our share of sleepless nights and other challenges that come along with a newborn. But they are WAY overshadowed by the joy, the pure excitement and the delight this little lady has brought into our lives. 

Happy first birthday, Baby Girl!