Quick Start Your Christmas


It’s almost Christmas. I know you don’t want to hear it, but it’s true and procrastinating about it will not only stress you out, but will cause you to miss the beauty of the season. (Trust me I’m talking to myself here too!) So what are we gals going to do about it? I for one would like to enjoy Christmas this year without a ton of stress. I’d like to focus on Jesus, you know, the reason for the season. This month we are going to focus on 3 areas to Quick Start our Christmas. Then, on November 3, we will begin the 21 Day Organize Your Christmas Challenge.


Quick Start Tip #1: Start your gift list now – with amounts to spend.

Gift giving can truly be the most stressful part of Christmas and it really should be one of the most enjoyable! With tight budgets, picky gift receivers, and Pinterest perfect pressure, it’s tempting to put gifting off for the last minute. For all of those reasons, this seems like the most logical place to start. A gift giving plan will give you focus and help you stick to the budget.

Start by brainstorming all the people that you normally buy gifts for:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Service people
  • Neighbors
  • Coworkers
  • Teachers


This is also a great time to talk about expectations with those who are on your list.
Several years ago we let our kids know, early on, that our Christmases were going to start looking different. With four kids and not a lot of money, we needed to focus more on family and faith and less on finding the perfect gift. We now give each kid three gifts: Something to wear, something for fun, and something growth (education, spiritual growth.) We have a budget for each kid and stick to it. We used to spend hours opening gifts and getting unwrapping fatigue. Now, the gift portion of our time is small, but the games and talking part of the holiday are what everyone look forward to.


Maybe there are a few people on your list that are on there out of obligation.
What about having a conversation with them about redoing Christmas – instead of buying another body wash gift set for each other, what if you took that money and went to lunch together in January, or went in on a goat for a family through World Vision? Make new traditions with those you love.


Quick Start Tip #2: Grab a Calendar and Firm Up Where and Who


Plan where you will be spending your time – and with whom.
We have a blended family, so trying to share our kids with multiple other families has gotten complicated over the years. Even without a blended family, extended family and all of their extended family can make for some complicated planning. Talk early and often about plans for the holidays. Last year we had everyone on Christmas. This year, we will be hosting the big Thanksgiving feast, and will celebrate Christmas on a different day. Flexibility and early planning with keep you from tears.


Quick Start Tip #3: Sign up for the 21 Days to Organize Your Christmas Challenge

Starting November 3rd, I will be taking you through three weeks of Christmas prep. This is absolutely free – my gift! A few minutes every day, in November, will help you have the most peaceful and Christ-centered Christmas possible. Join me and hundreds of other women for simple ideas to pull off the best Christmas ever.





10 Things to Say or Text to Your Husband When Marriage is Hard

So often, when money is tight, nerves are strained, and everyone is just so tired, it’s easy to wait for your husband to make the first move. But sometimes, we have to lay down our right to be right.

Sometimes, we need to look at not just the situation, but the relationship, and see what the right thing is to do. Usually, when one of us lays down our “right to be right” great things can happen in our relationships.10-Things-to-Say-or-Text-to-Your-Husband

So pick one. I’m not asking you to lie. There is ONE on this list that you can say to your husband- fighting or now – and it will soften the hard lines that can develop between the two of you.

If you’re really in a tough spot, try texting it to him. It’s amazing what a well timed text can do for your relationship.

  1.  “What do you need from me right now?”
  2.  “How can I help you take some of the burden off today?”
  3.  “I’m sorry.”
  4.  “Thank you for_____________”
  5.  “I’m proud of you because________________”
  6.  “Our kids are lucky to have a dad like you.”
  7.  “Please forgive me.”
  8.  “I love you because___________”
  9.  “I’m going to make more of an effort to____________”
  10. Thank you for being someone I can respect.

Tell me in the comments which one you said to your husband, or suggest one of your own. One random commenter will will a copy of Praying God’s Word for Your Husband.


Last week’s winner was Danielle!

FREE WEBINAR TODAY! Kick Start Your Speaking Career


Free Webinar: Kick Start Your Speaking Career 

 Monday, October 13 at 7:00 PM CDT

 Is it time to take your speaking to the next level?

Do you want to change the world, one message at a time?

In this free 60-minute webinar, marketing expert Thomas Umstattd and speaker and author Kathi Lipp share the secrets of successful speakers to not only getmore bookings, but better bookings.

What: Free webinar
When: Monday, October 13 at 7:00 PM CDT

Here is what you’ll learn:

  • What your website is missing that can turn inquiries into bookings.
  • The three fastest ways to get in front of audiences.
  • Writing copy so that event planners will notice.

Not only will Kathi and Thomas share with you their secrets to successful bookings, but will be answering your speaking questions.


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What To Do When Your Marriage is Hard – Finances

when marriage is hard(2)Over the past several months, I’ve had more than a dozen women contact me about their marriages and how they are just not working.

He’s done something stupid. She’s done something stupid.

Or it’s just the everyday stuff that is driving each of you crazy. So I thought I’d take the next several Wednesdays and address the four biggest reasons that women are coming to me about their marriage, and try to give you some practical take aways about what you can do about it.

Reason #1 Marriage is hard: Money

Earlier this year, Roger and I got the notice that Target had the tiniest of security breeches and sadly, his card was affected. (You know. The debit card that EVERYTHING is attached to…) To say it was inconvenient is an understatement.

But we dutifully changed all of our cards and got them hooked up with our accounts.

Well. Almost.

Turns out there was one account that didn’t get reconnected. Our homeowners dues.

We got a bill from them every month, which I promptly put in the recycling. (After all, we were paying it online right?) Each month they would send us a statement of how grossly past due we were, and each month I would toss it.

Until the postman rang twice.

With a registered letter.

This letter let us know that we were six months behind in homeowners fees, and in addition to that, the penalties, and now LAWYERS fees, well let’s just say that we were thousands and thousands of dollars behind.

Oh – and this came in May – right when my income goes to zero.

To say that this was a stressful summer financially would be a gross understatement. This is the summer that we will spend two years recovering from.

(And yes. I open ALL of the mail now.)

Here are a few things I learned from our summer of financial ruin:

  1. Accept that money is not one partner’s responsibility. I tended to leave the money stuff to Roger, but the burden needs to be both of ours. While Roger is the leader of our home, we run it like a partnership – that means the rights and the responsibilities.
  2. When money times are tense, do everything within your power to cut spending. This summer we had a lot of “Pantry Meals” (eating things we already had in our pantry and freezer.) I kept our grocery budget to a minimum, only ran the air conditioning when it was sweltering hot, got clothes altered instead of buying new things, redecorated with paint instead of trips to Home Goods, and looked for free or cheap entertainment. I couldn’t make our debt go away, but I could do my best to contribute in any way I could see fit.
  3. Get help. Dave Ramsey and Crystal Paine have saved many a marriage. Check out their websites, and get on the same page with your spouse. It is marriage-empowering to actually do things together to save money. Be a cord cutter   and get rid of cable. (We did, and we’ve lived to tell about it.)
  4. Get on the same side in your marriage. Yep- it’s frustrating when bills go unpaid or you’re not making as much as you used to. But blaming each other is a surefire way to add more stress to your marriage. Have a weekly meeting to go over finances and get on the same page. (We have a weekly “Food and Finances” night where we go over bills and then eat something delicious. It’s our little reward for being responsible adults.
  5. Pray specifically. Get VERY specific with God about your financial needs. God is not offended by your needing money help. Jesus talks about money all the time in the Bible. When Roger and I were having severe money issues, we spent a lot of time praying, and rejoiced every time God answered our prayers. It was a great boon to our marriage seeing God be so active in our need.

So what advice would you add to this list? Tell me in the comments below, and one commenter will win a four book marriage set, including The Husband Project, Praying God’s Word for Your Husband and two copies of The Marriage Project.

What Happens When There is No Snap

snapI was 33 years old when I came to the very logical conclusion that the only way to stop the hurting was to kill myself.

I was in the depths of a very painful marriage where I never felt like I could do anything right. I was a mess. I knew I wasn’t a good wife, a good mother, or a good friend. All I could see around me were the people I was disappointing. I didn’t just feel helpless. Worse. I felt hopeless.

So I thought about how I would kill myself.

I didn’t want to hang myself – what if one of my kids found me?

Then I remembered that a radio personality I listened to on a regular basis in the Bay Area, Duane Garrett, had jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. But I was afraid I would not be able to go through it.

I considered all the possibilities, very rationally, very thoughtfully. As if I were trying to decide between chicken and beef for dinner that night.

I felt sure I would go through with my plan, until I thought about what would happen to my kids. I didn’t think my kids would miss me, but I was concerned that they would be raised without me. So, continuing in what I thought was totally logical thinking, that if we all died, that would solve all of the problems.

And that’s when I felt the snap.

There was something inside my soul that just broke. I remember feeling like I was splitting down the middle of a foggy lane, and I thought to myself, “What the HELL are you thinking? What mother ever thinks of hurting herself, much less her kids.”

That snap got me to run to my therapist, where I admitted for the first time that I thought about killing myself.

The words that were assigned to me were “Situational Depression”. I was given counseling and medication. I was prayed for and I was loved. I went to bible study, and I found hope.

But every time I hear about a suicide, I think about that time some many years ago. What if there was no snap?

What if I’d never ran to get help because I was in such a dark place, I couldn’t imagine that help existed?

I only have two reasons for writing about this:

1. I believe the more people who talk about their own battle with depression, the more we can all talk about it.  I know for so long I felt like I had to wear a mask and keep up appearances because things would be taken away from me if I didn’t. My kids, my job, my friends. I felt like normal people didn’t go through what I was going through, and therefore, I didn’t deserve normal people things. So I kept hiding it until there was no me left.

But, if we can say that this happens to people, real people, and share our stories, we can give someone else the courage to safely share their story, their struggle. When we find out that we’re not a freak – that our struggles are real but not rare, we have a better chance of being able to connect with someone who has gone through the same thing, or who can help us get to a healthy place.

2. Each of us has a story. I wanted to cut my story short, because I couldn’t take the pain and I couldn’t see any good up ahead.

But only God can see around the corners.

I would have missed out on so much: my second husband, who is the love of my life,

my two beautiful kids, who make me laugh every day and bring good things to the world,

my bonus kids, who I can’t imagine my life without.

A job that makes me excited to get out of bed every. single. day.

And a life that God sets before me every day and and says, “I’m crazy about you. Come alongside me. We have great things to accomplish today!”

Your story is not done. God had great adventures for you. Only he can see the ending to your story.

If you’ve been in that dark place, would you do me a favor – could you share below what God had for you on the other side. Someone needs to read about it.

If you are in that dark place? Would you please, please, reach out to a safe person? A friend, a counselor, a doctor. Please. You don’t feel it now, but you are precious. You are irreplaceable. There are things that need to be done that only you can do. God says so.

And I’ve found that he turns out to be right over and over again.


You are Invited – Time to Join the Rebellion

Tiny Acts of Rebellion

Are you sick and tired of trying to be perfect?

Are you exhausted trying to please everyone while wondering if they would like you even if you stopped doing for them?

Are you always doing because your success is based on your performance day-to-day (or minute-by-minute)?

Are you the queen of procrastination and it’s become less than pretty?


If you’ve said yes to any of those questions then…



Now before you panic, we aren’t packing our bags to move to another state, leaving our families behind. No, this is a rebellion against the perfection, people-pleasing, performancism and procrastination. It is a call to stop trying harder and start

Living Braver.


Join the rebellion on Facebook on like the page Tiny Acts of Rebellion.



Bad Mom Monday- Braver Parenting: Doing vs. Being

BraverParenting“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”  Ephesians 2:8 (ESV)

My son Christian loves basketball and played varsity all four years of high school. Throughout each season, he was respected for his ability to lead the team, for his calmness on the floor, and for his quick thinking.

Although Christian was an incredible player, he is not aggressive by nature. So he was never known for strength and drive. These weak areas cost him playing time and made him feel like he was failing his coach.

I always told Christian, “You played your best; be proud of that.” To me, bravery was showing up to each practice and each game, even when he felt like quitting.

THE Best vs. Your Best

As a parent of an athlete, I wanted my child to succeed. I was partial to my own kid; that’s just natural. It was hard to resist all the hype of athletics. As a single mom working two jobs, I struggled to keep up with all the “parent” clubs around sports and volunteering. I too, had to work at being my best, rather than run for “BEST mom of the year award.” I wanted to stay on the good side of all the other parents by being involved in all the fundraisers and every single volunteer event.

But even as an adult, I had to remind myself, to BE my best and feel proud of that. I could not be at all events. As tempting as it was to just over-commit, I would have driven not only myself crazy but my entire family, all for the sake of somehow making a difference for my son. But no amount of my DOING was going to change his playing time one bit.

My son knew with all his heart two things: First, he knew that I was his biggest fan. Second, he knew that I was working as hard as he was toward success. My best was good enough, even when that meant missing a game because I was working or saying no to that new pair of shoes everyone else had because I did not have the income to pay the price.

It was okay to BE where we were because it was our best on that given day. I had to be brave when he was upset that he could not have what he wanted. I had to step over those feelings of inadequacy and know it was okay to just BE where I was.


On those occasions when I failed at BEING and fell into DOING, I found myself complaining, resentful, and tired. DOING is important; we all need to do our part in supporting the programs our kids benefit from. But we must keep our motivation for DOING in check. When I needed to say “no” but said “yes” because I didn’t want to disappoint people, I was DOING. When I said “yes” because I honestly knew the person needed help, and I was able to meet the call, I was BEING: helpful, freely giving.

So give yourself grace – as a parent, athlete, or wherever life finds you – to be satisfied with your best. BE engaged in what you are doing and know that your best is good enough to the One who counts the most, your Heavenly Father. While DOING can produce resentment if done for the wrong reasons, BEING produces gratitude.

Today, don’t worry about DOING the best or even better than anyone else. Focus on BEING your best. 


Your Turn!

How comfortable are you with the idea of BEING your best rather than trying to DO the best?  How are (or aren’t) you modeling this for your child(ren)?


UnknownMy bad mom friend and author of today’s Bad Mom Monday challenge  is Tanja Bass.  Tanja lives, works, and parents in Oregon where she has spent all but three years of her life. She has three children — who now must be referred to as “young people” — ages 15,18, and 22.  Tanja enjoys speaking, writing and encouraging others. She could tell you that her journey of life has been one of foster care, adoption & divorce, but she’d far rather tell you how God is changing her story with His redeeming grace!

Bad Mom Monday: Why We Let Our Daughter Touch the Electric Skillet (and other shocking parental choices) 

When Annemarie was little, she had no interest in her Playskool kitchen with plastic food. She wanted to help us do the real thing: fix our real breakfast in our real kitchen.

We’d set up the step ladder, and she’d climb up and happily measure ingredients and mix pancake batter.

It was a great arrangement. She was fully engaged in meal preparation, and we felt like such great parents, teaching our little girl life skills at an early age!

Then Annemarie became fascinated by the electric skillet.

We warned her that it was “HOT!” That only peeked her curiosity.

We moved it as far out of reach as possible, but if we turned away for a split second, she’d start to climb the counter, one hand outstretched toward the skillet.

We tried everything we could think of to distract her, forbid her, instill a sense of respect in her.

Nothing worked.

Annemarie’s obsession became an all-out determination to touch the electric skillet.

After many near-misses, we came to the unthinkable conclusion:

Our little girl was going to experience the natural consequences of her curiosity.

The only question was when.

Daniel and I discussed, prayed, and ultimately made one of the hardest choices we’ve ever made as parents:  we decided to let her touch it when we were present.

The next morning, we wiped the skillet clean of oil and turned it to the lowest setting. Daniel stood on one side of the ladder; I stood on the other. At a pre-arranged signal, we both acted distracted.

Sure enough, Annemarie’s tiny hands shot toward the electric skillet. Eagerly, she grabbed its sides.

Her triumphant face registered shock quickly followed by pain. She stumbled and, as Daniel caught her, began to cry.

“Hot!” she wailed, pointing to the skillet with reddening fingers. “Hot!”

I dabbed soothing medication on Annemarie’s hands, and we took turns holding and rocking her until she calmed down. After tucking her in bed for a nap, Daniel and I let down our stoic guards and held each other as we cried.

After that experience, whenever we told her that something was “hot” she repeated “hot!” in a voice of respect and gave it wide berth. And her budding fascination with electric outlets completely vanished.

Letting Annemarie touch the electric skillet worked. But two decades later, I still tear up as I tell this story.

I still feel torn between my desire to protect my child from harm and my responsibility to teach her about consequences.

I also better understand God’s heart toward me: always wanting to protect me but also letting me experience the consequences of my disobedience:

“So, what a blessing when God steps in and corrects you!
Mind you, don’t despise the discipline of Almighty God!
True, he wounds, but he also dresses the wound;
the same hand that hurts you, heals you.”

Job 5:17-18

Your Turn!

What’s a necessary “shocking” parental choice you’ve made or experienced?  What was the motivation behind the choice?  What were the results?


Gregory_Cheri_Photo_SquareMy bad mom friend and author of today’s Bad Mom Monday challenge  is Cheri Gregory. Cheri has been married to her college sweetheart for over a quarter-of-a-century and has two college-aged kids; she blogs about expectations, “baditude,” and hope at www.CheriGregory.com.

Bad Mom Monday: Mom Essentials

PoolPartySo we had my son’s birthday party last week on June 30th. The date is only significant because as I was texting people about the party one mom sent a message back with the following question: “Didn’t he turn 7 back in December?”.

Yes, yes he did. (That was for all you Phineas and Ferb fans out there)

I guess I’m “that” mom. The one who had a TERRIBLE year at work. The one who barely had energy to do laundry and cook, much less plan a party.

The one who loves her children more than her job but found her job taking too much of her time, energy and thoughts.

It’s one of those things that I NEVER thought would happen to me, but it did.

It sounds silly to become so upset about being late with a party but it matters to me – or should I say, to my expectations! I’ve always been the mom who plans parties everyone enjoys and (being honest here) raves about! It’s my little “rocked it baby!” moment and I love seeing my kids have such a good time.

Not giving my son a birthday party with his friends brought a weight of guilt and disappointment that was new and very uncomfortable for me, I felt like such a bad mom!

In order to deal with this awful feeling I decided to just stop and remember what matters most.

I decided my son would not be scarred for life and I was NOT a terrible mom. Instead, I was a mom who was human and just trying my best. I stayed focused on the essentials – what I needed to really make it through.

First I had to be HONEST. I had dropped the ball and for that I apologized to my son. I also explained the situation to him and his response was so sweet and understanding. I think it’s okay for my boys to see me goof and claim responsibility while also promising to make things right!

Next I needed the essential of PERSEPCTIVE. Failing to give him a party felt like a BIG deal but when I stepped back and looked at the big picture I realized that I hadn’t totally failed him. I’d been working hard to make sure I was home to tuck him into bed and able to be at all his games and most importantly, turn off my “work brain” and truly listen to him.

When my perspective is focused on the big picture and I’m able to be honest with myself and accept my blunders I think I become a better woman and a better mom. On those “bad mom” days, I have an opportunity to allow God to come in and fill in the missing pieces of my identity with HIS truth. I want to live my life focused on the essentials and not the extras – I want people to come first, not projects and parties.

Keeping this balance is tough, but it’s so worth the effort. And by the way, my little December baby was able to have a pool party. Complete with leis, sunshine and lots of laughter.


KaseyKasey Johnson is learning daily how to ignore the extras in life and focus on the essentials. As an educator, author, speaker, blogger, wife and mother, Kasey understands the balancing act we sustain as mothers. Her new book and Bible study, Mom Essentials is all about this challenge that every mom is facing.

Visit her blog, www.smarter-moms.com, to learn more about Mom Essentials.


Feeling Perfect? Don’t Sign up for This Launch…

Cure for the Perfect LifeIf you are a woman who is tired of trying harder is getting you nowhere, we ( Cheri Gregory and I) would like to invite you to help us launch our new book!

If you are ready to take a stand against the bullies of Perfectionism, People-Pleasing, Performancism, and Procrastination, and you love to read – this is the launch team for you.

If that sounds like you, come join our Braver Living Rebellion!

Fill out the form HERE