Friday, February 29, 2008

Book Drawing on Leap Day

Book Drawing: Leave a comment here or email me and I’ll enter your name on this last day of February for this month's book drawing to win a copy of The Stained Glass Pickup.

Second book drawing: Multnomah Publishing sent me two copies of Rattled ~ Surviving the First Year of Motherhood Without Losing Your Cool. See the interview with Trish Berg at my blog, leave a comment and sign up for drawing.

I'll post first names and last initials of winners on Monday and contact you.

Cliff Dwelling

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you (Isaiah 26:3).

Most mornings my husband gets up very early, long before daylight, and I usually prepare a brown bag lunch for him. One morning, I decided to stay awake for an hour and finish leftover chores. Unloading the dishwasher and tidying up the house is not calculus, and my thoughts took a leave of absence from the mundane tasks.

I dwelled on the latest writing project. I toss a lot around in my brain before anything is actually pounded out on keyboard. Faded childhood memories surfaced and took on color and I toyed with words and conjured descriptive phrases.

Even though my brainwaves crashed against a distant shore, my hands were busy as I walked from room to room and tidied up. Floating back to reality, I looked down. I’d completely made up my bed—sheet corners tucked, pillows plumped and comforter in place. I like to consider myself industrious, but I had planned to rest a few more hours.

Often we find our minds drifting during familiar routines. It’s a common problem. That’s when I put the sugar bowl in the refrigerator, the milk in the pantry, the dog in the crib, the kid outside. The most disturbing time my mind walks off is when I’m spending time with God, through Bible study, prayer or meditation.

How can inattention be solved, especially during this important time? Clues can be found in a long ago meeting between Moses and God. Prior to their meeting, Moses made two requests of God: "Teach me your ways so that I may know you," and " . . . show me your glory."

God’s response: “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by.”

From that encounter, I see two clues for staying focused: solitude and setting an appointment. Moses wanted to know God better, and God chose a quiet place near himself for the meeting—just God and Moses. The results were magnificent: On a mountain in a cliff, Moses glimpsed God.

Prearranging a quiet time-slot, moments alone with God is one of the best gifts we give ourselves. Our friends and family receive fringe benefits. Thoughtfulness, good character, compassion, kindness are all enhanced after meeting with the master teacher.

Life is busy and sometimes it feels like I-45 has been re-routed through our home. God is totally able to teach me on an interstate, but contemplating God on a freeway or a quiet country lane is as different as tornadoes and tranquility.

Life teases with a bouquet of distractions, but God longs for intimate meetings. Arrange quiet times with God, and watch for cliff blessings. Watch for God’s protective, covering and helping hand in life.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Book Drawing on Leap Day

Book Drawing: Leave a comment at any post or email me and I’ll enter your name for a February book drawing to win a copy of The Stained Glass Pickup.

Second book drawing: Multnomah Publishing sent me two copies of Rattled ~ Surviving the First Year of Motherhood Without Losing Your Cool. See the interview with Trish Berg at my blog, leave a comment and sign up for drawing.

Lent Prayers

One day during Lent, I prayed for these countries: Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tokelau Islands, Tonga, Tuzalu, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Wallis and Futuna Islands. By the time Palm Sunday arrived, I’d prayed for all the nations of the world. The excellent prayer guide Seek God for the City ~ Prayers of Biblical Hope from WayMakers was the impetus for those entreaties.

Whether your Christian fellowship participates or does not in the Lenten season, the setting aside for time of repentance and renewal is biblical. Besides the nations of the world, the prayer guide targeted different groups of people in communities: health care workers, broken families, men, military personnel, the sick, the unemployed, prisoners and their families, the physically disabled, youth, mothers, arts and entertainment, the depressed, those in nursing homes and substance abusers of drugs and alcohol.

After the 40 days, I felt more akin, in tune, yoked to Christ because my pleas and praise were not limited to the minority of people I know, but for this world as a whole and in part.

The guide helped me pray more comprehensive prayers than ever before. And, the very reasonable price of $3.00 sent me back for another guide this year. Even though we are already into the 40 days of Lent, I encourage readers to purchase a prayer guide to pray any 40 days of the year. After you’ve prayed through it, place it by a December 2008 calendar page, a reminder to purchase one for 2009.

WayMakers offers other prayer tools at nominal fees of $2.00 a pamphlet: What Would Jesus Pray, Light from My House, Prompts for Prayerwalkers, Blessings and Open My City. At their Web site find free PDF files of the 2008 Seek God for the City for children and in Spanish.

Each prayer ended with “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” And, one of my favorite lines from a petition welcoming Christ, “And may your mercy amaze us even more than miracles.” I found the Lent prayer guide to be one of the most helpful prayer tools. But overriding any tool is the knowledge that God hears and heeds the sincere—from the simplest to the most organized prayer, poorly worded or eloquently stated.

Through prayers, you can usher God’s help into your community and the world. During the 40 days of prayer it was such a blessing to lay gratitude, needs and burdens at the feet of God who has the power to intervene in global problems. Today, my prayer guide suggests praying for the news media, the poor and those without a shepherd. As I pray, my hope is based on the mercy of his hearing.

Note: Do you plan to do anything special on your "extra" day next week, Leap Day? If so, let me know, please. I'm collecting your suggestions for next Friday's column. Thanks, Cathy.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Book Drawing

Leave a comment at any of my posts, and I'll enter your name into a February drawing for a copy of The Stained Glass Pickup. Leave a comment at my interview with Trish Berg and Multnomah furnished two copies of Rattled ~ Surving Baby's First Year Without Losing Your Cool.

Thanks for stopping by...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Remembering to Forget Marriage Spills

Kristy Dykes tell a story about a husband who wanted to spruce up his cement patio and told his wife, “I'm going to be painting out here, so don't come out." But she forgot.

Later, she shoved the door open and knocked over a gallon of white paint. The husband had choices to make. He could have yelled, or said, “I told you so.”

He could have complained that he’d clearly informed her of his project or even brought up other times she’d forgotten things. The spill could have been incendiary.

However, this long married couple had experienced misfortunes before and had decided that when accidents occurred, they wouldn’t cast blame. They made a choice early in marrige to forgive and forget. Instead of a lecture or grudge, the husband chose to build a memory around the spilled paint and it became a witness to his love, not combustible blame-throwing.

When the husband looked down at the paint, he saw it had spread almost into a heart shape. With a few quick brush strokes he perfected the very large heart and let it dry. He later inscribed it with these words, “The heart of this house is my darling wife Jeanie.”

Instead of a lecture about carelessness, he chose to recognize and honor her role in their home. Some Eastern nomadic tribes refer to their wives as the tent pole. The one that holds it all together. Apparently the painter cherished his wife and her contributions and he forgave and forgot.

“Forgive & Forget” are good inscription words for the inside of wedding bands. I’m reminded of something I read about Clara Barton, who founded the American Red Cross.

A friend reminded her of a vicious act that someone had committed against her. The friend could see that Ms. Barton didn’t seem to recall the malicious behavior and asked, “Don’t you remember it?”

“No,” Ms. Barton replied, “I distinctly remember forgetting.”

Solomon said, there is a “time to keep and a time to throw away” (Ecclesiastes 3:6). Marriages shouldn’t become throw-aways, but a lot of the day-to-day components should. Upsets and mishaps will happen, but whether we bank them in a grudge vault or set them out with the trash is a persoanl choice.

This week love your spouse with all your heart, and remember to forget.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Free books

Multnomah sent me two free copies of Rattled as give-aways. Leave a comment, and I'll enter your name into a drawing to win a copy. Tell your friends to drop by and read Trish's interview. I'm a grandmother and reading the book to review on Amazon. Good, honest, faith-filled, down-to-earth stuff for Moms of all ages.

My favorite line so far page 89, "Even though your baby doesn't come with an instruction manual, you get something better: God is right beside you, whispering motherhood into your soul."

Oh, and I really like the "Food for Thought" Sidebar (easily spotted on the pages because a baby bottle accompanies the wisdom). It's full of helpful, motivating stats. Did you know the average person received nearly 50,000 pieces of mail in a lifetime? I wonder how many trees that equates to?

Rattled by Trish Berg

BLAST OUT Blog Tour for Trish Berg’s Latest Release… Rattled Surviving Your Baby’s First Year without Losing Your Cool!

Can you change a diaper faster than a rodeo cowboy ropes a calf? Need more sleep,
more laughter, and ten minutes in the bathroom – alone?

You must be a mom….Don’t let the clutter, chaos, exhaustion and Cheerio-dust get you Rattled.

With practical advice and scriptural reminders, author Trish Berg can help you not only survive the chaos and clutter of motherhood, but get back to the simple joy of being a mom.

I am excited to welcome Trish Berg, joining us today to talk about her new mom book, Rattled, Surviving Your Baby’s First Year without Losing Your Cool!

Trish is a national speaker for Hearts at Home, author of The Great American Supper Swap and Rattled. She has been published in Today’s Christian Woman, MOMSense,, P31 WOMAN, and numerous regional and national publications.

Trish earned her MBA before leaving the workforce for motherhood, then earned her Doctorate in Diaper Changing in Ohio where she and her husband, Mike, keep busy raising their four children on their family cattle farm.

Trish, welcome. Thanks for taking time to be with us today.

Thanks for having me.

So why is it so easy for moms to get rattled during their baby’s first year?

Motherhood is simply draining and exhausting. Hands down the toughest job I have ever had.

But moms are not alone, and I want moms to know that God walks with them through these exhausting years.

What stresses moms out the most?

I think moms put a lot of pressure on themselves to do it all by themselves, and to do it all the right way. They need to simplify, let go of many details, and ask for help, from their husbands, and from neighbors and friends.

Rattled actually begins by looking at the months of pregnancy. How can moms use this time to prepare to survive baby’s first year?

Nine months is not nearly enough time to fully prepare for motherhood. I am not sure there is enough time to fully prepare.

I remember when our first child, Hannah, was born, I felt that my world had been turned upside down. Hannah did not like to sleep, and so we spent many nights walking the floor, bouncing her up and down, trying desperately to settle her down. My husband, Mike, and I took turns walking laps around the house, like the Indy 500 with a lot more bouncing.

I am not sure I could have prepared for that.

But during your pregnancy, you can prepare in other ways. Like arranging for help. Ask your mom or mother-in-law if they can spend one day with you each week during the first few months. Just knowing someone is coming in the morning to help with the baby can make the being up all night not seem so terrible.

You talk about surviving motherhood. How do you help moms do that?

In Rattled, I talk about a mom’s survival kit. If you were thrown out into the wilderness, you would need FOOD, SHELTER, FIRE and WATER to survive.

Well, moms have been thrown out into the wilderness of motherhood, and to survive, they will need:

Water from the word (2 Samuel 22:3a) –To be in God’s Word.

A fire like desire for prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:17) – Moms can pray their way through their day.

Nourishment body, mind and spirit (1 Corinthians 13:13) – Love on all levels nourishes us.

Shelter from life’s storms (Proverbs 17:17)-Friends to lean on, trust, and support us.

In Rattled, I spend some time talking about how moms can use that survival kit to get back to the joy of mothering.

You spent a lot of time listening to what other mothers had to say. Share with us your best advice for new moms.

I would tell moms to relax. No one does it right all the time. Let the laundry pile up. Leave the dishes in the sink, and just enjoy holding your baby today.

Don’t worry about doing “it” right, just enjoy the moments you have.

That is sound advice...

But what aboud dads? Give us a few tips into what dad is going through during the first year.

Dads are just as insecure as moms are about parenthood. Even more so in many cases.

Moms do much of the baby feeding, diaper changing, and baby care. So dads can sometimes feel left out, and incapable of caring for their own baby.

One thing moms can do is encourage dad to be involved. But in doing so, moms must let go of “their way” of doing things, and let dad discover his own way.

For example. When Hannah was a baby, every time Mike would change her diaper, I would criticize the way he changed it. I tried to teach him how to put his fingers under the leg elastic and make sure it wasn’t bunched up, preventing a future leak.

But every time I criticized him, he stepped back and became less involved. And you know what? Even when I did the diapers the “right way” they still sometimes leaked.

So I had to learn to let Mike change her diaper his own way. I let him put her to bed his way, bathe her his way, and be the dad God wanted him to be.

That can be difficult for moms who can tend to be slight control freaks when it comes to baby care.

But let me just encourage you that the help you will get from dad if you can let go of those details will bless you in more ways than you can imagine!

In Rattled you’re very open about the loss of your own pregnancy in 2002. How has that loss changed your outlook on motherhood?

I in the 2nd trimester of my fourth pregnancy when I went in for a regular check up. I was not having any problems at all, and went in alone.

My OB/GYN performed an ultrasound just to check for twins, and suddenly my world turned upside down when he could not find a heart beat.

I was completely devastated. Mike and I had two weeks of further testing before we had assurance that our baby had died. And through it all, I prayed for a miracle, my miracle, that my baby would be alive again.

But in the end, God’s miracle was not that my baby survived. God’s miracle was the reassurance that He used me as a vessel to bring a tiny soul to Heaven.

A year later, I lost another child to miscarriage.

Today, I have a greater sense of love and appreciation for my four children here on earth whom I hug with my arms, and a closer tie to Heaven where my two babies are waiting for me, whom I can only hug with my heart for now.

Today you’re the mom of 4 happy and healthy children. What do you see as the greatest blessing about being a mom?

I would say learning patience, but my husband would laugh out loud at that…since I am probably one of the most impatient people there is.

So I guess I would have to say enjoying the journey. I live Psalm 118:24 every day of my life.

“This is the day that the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Life is messy. Things break. Kids get sick. But moms need to remember to enjoy the journey no matter where the journey leads.

Today at the Berg house, our washing machine is broken. Our mini van needs new tires. We are hanging onto Mike’s 1986 Jeep on a wing and a prayer, hoping it makes it another year or so.

There is mud on my kitchen floor, crumbs on my carpet, and I can honestly say that I love my life. Just as it is.

Now, I certainly have moments where I get stressed and discouraged, and can even lose my temper (just ask my kids), but I am also learning to enjoy each moment of every day as a gift from God.

And thorough it all, my simple hope and prayer is that I can be the mom that God wants me to be.

Where can readers learn more about you,
Rattled, your other books, and your ministry to moms?

My website at offers tons of FREE resources, links and downloads for moms, as well as mor information on my books and ministry.

Moms can also purchase their own copy of
Rattled by clicking here.

And I will be speaking at all 3 Hearts at Home Conferences in 2008, I would LOVE for you to join me there. The National conference is in March in Illinois, and in the fall there is a conference in Michigan and Minnesota. You can get more information and register at

Thanks, Trish, for joining us today. What a joy to meet you and learn more about your new mom book

Thanks for having me. Blessings to you.

You can catch up with Trish all week long on her BLAST OUT BLOG TOUR by going to the following sites. There will be FREE book prizes, and great moms to connect with at each blog.











Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Soul's Back Door

To enter the February book drawing for a copy of The Stained Glass Pickup, leave a comment after a blog entry or email me


A New Mexico friend, Bill Johnson, is one of 14 children. He told us he overheard his dad say many times, “While I fought to keep the wolf away from the front door, the stork slipped in the back.”

In that context, the back door referenced things happening without much notice. Rick Larsen, presenter of “The Star of Bethlehem” DVD, made a similar statement about the soul having a backdoor. He saw how music moves folks toward God when usual cautions, teachings, and taps on the front door of the soul failed.

Anne Lamott tells how she was drawn to belief through spiritual hymns. She grew up in a family and neighborhood of atheists, however, at least one on her street did believe in God. In the intellectual atmosphere, Christians were deemed ignorant to cast their lots with “God” who could not be seen.

At an early age Ms. Lamott’s life went south, pushed low by personal behavior and drug addictions. Later in adulthood, confused, she walked each Sunday morning, trying to sort out her life.

On those Sundays, she strolled past a church—its doors open. The music spilled out onto the soiled sidewalks and dirty pavement. For weeks, she heard the strains of sweet music, but resisted the melodies.

Finally, she allowed herself to listen, to walk slowly as she passed by the open doors. She even began to linger at the door, not daring to go inside. But soon the words and melodies stroked a chord in her heart like no other, and a friendly hand of a member beckoned her to come on in, have a seat.

She told how God had tapped on her front door in childhood, but as an adult, God first got her attention through music—through the soul backdoor. If you’ve read Ms. Lamott’s works or followed her lectures, her politics and views on some moral issues are controversial. But, her belief in Jesus Christ is obvious, germinated by strains of music drifting from a church house.

The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus about the discipline of singing and making melodies in their “hearts to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19). These past few weeks, I've been singing--a song of praise each day. Sometimes, it’s spontaneous. Sometimes it’s planned with a hymnal, shape notes, and lyrics in hand.

Some of the songs my grandmothers sang, some are new praise music. Which soul door did they enter when I first heard them? I don’t know, but I’ve learned this, when I sing a song, it airs out my soul. A sweet breeze flows through like none other.

Minister Robert Culp says, “Music invites us out of isolation and into the fellowship of the saints. It also draws us from self-centeredness and into God-centeredness.”

In solitude, sing a song to the Lord each day this week, one for his ears alone. And, listen for the creaking of door hinges.

“Music is God's gift to man, the only art of Heaven given to earth, the only art of earth we take to Heaven,” Walter Savage Landor (1775-1864).

Friday, February 01, 2008

And, the winner of the January book drawing is Carolyn E.! Congratulations, Carolyn E. I’ll be in touch to get your mailing address.

Register today for the February book drawing. Leave a comment here or email me at and I’ll enter your name for an opportunity to win a copy of The Stained Glass Pickup.


Okay, who really knows what “billows” are? Many have sung words from the count-your-many-blessings song: “When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed, when you are discouraged thinking all is lost.” Have you ever been tossed upon a billows? Tempestuously tossed?

The word “billows” isn’t an everyday word, but if used in context, the meaning would be clear: Billows are shoving the cruise ship around. “The billows are frothy—not a good fishing day,” said the salty sailor. The billows splashed into the leaky John boat causing the fisherman to bail with vigor.

So, “billows” means waves, usually big one roiling and rolling. And life-billows must mean huge happenings that could cause drowning. Sea water can cause harm or good. The sea supports its world and inhabitants. But many humans, alien to life in the water, have been lost at sea. Humans can float on the sea, gather food from it or drown in it.

So, now that billows are in mind, what can we do if we get tossed on one? I’ve heard folks say that when bad times assault them, they can’t seem to pray. I’ve experienced that.

Others have told me, whenever pain, loss or devastation comes along, they find reading their Bible difficult. I’ve experienced that, too. When the brain is fogged by bad circumstances, pages can be turned but not comprehended because the mind is mired in despair.

But what do you do when the presence of God seems far away? For Jesus and his disciples, when life got crowded or dangerous, that’s when they fled to be alone for a day or night—alone with God.

When Jesus heard of his cousin John the Baptist’s beheading, he “withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place” (Matthew 14: 13).

Oswald Chambers says when “God gets us alone,” that’s when his most effective teaching occurs. When Jesus walked this earth, he and his disciples were constantly surrounded by problems of others, what Robert J. Wicks calls, secondary stress in his book Crossing the Desert.

But after a few intense days, Jesus would say something such as, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31). They’d get away by themselves and over and over the same scenario is presented.

When the disciples were alone with Jesus, who is God, they asked questions. Isn’t that what we do when something puzzling happens? We ask a lot of questions, aloud and in our minds.

So when a toss on the billows happens, the lesson from Jesus and the disciples is to get alone with God. And who said questions to God, aren’t prayers. Questions communicate our sincerest thoughts to God. Then, we can present ourselves to listen for answers.

If you find yourself in the swell of a billows, spend time alone with God, it’s where he does his most significant work. He teaches survival techniques, passes out swim fins, and teaches us to float.