She Reminds Me To Breathe and I Want to Tell Her to Shut Up

(And I totally correct my kids when they say “shut up.”)

Maybe you’ve joined me on the 2020 wave of online workouts? 

The hubs and I have used different apps to work out from home for several years now.  

My sister is currently offering online workouts on a fantastic membership site if you want to check it out! She likes to say “Good things come to those who sweat.” 

The tough thing about working out is… it’s hard. I usually don’t want to do it. 

I don’t want to get out of bed, spread out a mat, do planks and push-ups and burpees and bear crawls.  

And sometimes this gal with an interesting foreign accent (not my sister) has us doing these crazy hard things. And she’s doing them at the same time.

She jumps like twice as high as me. 

And makes it all look effortless. 

And she’s not even breathing hard. 

We’re in some awkward reverse plank or other and I’m sweating and fighting to stay afloat, and I think she’s going to bust out a Julie Andrews song or something. 

She reminds me to breathe and I want to tell her to shut up. 

(Again — not my sister!)

This week Proverbs 19 reminded me about the fear of the Lord. “Fear of the Lord leads to life, bringing security and protection from harm,” verse 23 says.

On the surface you might think — isn’t it odd that we should be scared of God?

But I think this verse is saying the exact opposite thing. 

When we are fully convinced of God’s love for us (Henri Nouwen so elegantly explained that we are His Beloved) we start to believe that His will and His ways are always, hands-down the best possible option.

So we fear stepping outside of His will because we believe that being the all-knowing God who is wise beyond compare, if we choose to follow His lead, we can trust Him to work things together for our good.

Will our lives be daisies and sunshine ad infinitem? No. We will experience hard times and hard places. But we will experience them trusting He is with us in those valleys, and He is the God who will see us through.

What an eye-brow crunching thought this was for me this week: that so many people go their own ways, make their own choices, take no heed to the wisdom of God for their lives, and then are so angry at Him when things begin to unravel.

God invites us to revere Him, and stand in awe of His complete other-ness. His greatness. All those incredible things He explained to Job that made Job reply, “I am unworthy! I put my hand to my mouth! How can I reply to You?”  

Sometimes God invites us to do hard things. It’s tough, the paths He calls us to are often not the easiest.

But He sees the whole picture. He leads us to the paths that truly do bring life and security and protection from harm. 

Good things come to those who sweat, yes, it’s true.

And? Good things come to those willing to take the hard road, the narrow path, the way that is an invitation from Jesus.

P.S. How to Crush it as a Newbie Homeschooler started last week and we are having fun! If you missed the chance to sign up but you’re interested in hearing when it opens again, pop your details into this form right here!!

Now Open: Homeschooling for Newbies

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Three Things to Remember for Healthy Communication

You want to know something I’m superrrrr guilty of? 

Do, tell, Caroline, yes, do tell, you say? 

I’m super guilty of assessing a situation and feeling confident that I’ve totally got it figured out — when I don’t.

Like this one time we were staying at a hotel back when I just had three Collies toddling around me. Our room was on the ground floor but the eldest begged for an elevator ride, so I promised after breakfast we’d go ride the elevator. 

No big deal until kid #2 began blubbering something that sounded like “I don’t want to ride the elevator!!!” Ya know, super loud, while we stood in front of the elevator doors.  

Surrounded by other people. 

Within view and earshot of everyone still enjoying the breakfast in the hotel restaurant. 

I discussed this problem with the eldest, who felt it necessary to remind me of my promise at breakfast. 

Next, I tried explaining to #2 the fact that those people weren’t disappearing — the doors were opening to let them out on other floors. We could go up and come back down again. It would be so fun. 

He remained skeptical and unconvinced. 

Finally, with #3 on my hip, I took a knee to get on eye level with #2. I asked a question, trying to figure out what was at the root of this sheer terror. I was met with definite clarity when he cried out:


I don’t want to ride the alligator!!!

Now it all made sense. I could’ve sat there another half an hour, explaining the engineering behind elevators to my two year old. Gears and lifts and pulleys and shiny buttons that light up when you press them.

But the communication he needed was completely different.

He just needed his Mama to explain with great articulation that the word “elevator” and the word “alligator” are different.

Proverbs is pretty good at calling us out on our human condition. It speaks to our communication struggles with striking clarity.

What if we all took five today to check in our how we’re doing with communication? Check out these three points straight from Proverbs, well illustrated in the elevator/alligator experience.

  1. Communication is Dialogue, Not Monologue
    Save the soliloquy for the shower or the stage. Communication has to be a two-way-street or it will always dead end.
  2. Focus on Truly Understanding
    The verdict is in: fools only care about being heard. It takes wisdom to really listen.
  3. Be Slow to Speak
    When I’m rushing to say something, it often turns out that I don’t have the most useful things to say. We need to give others time to form their thoughts and opinions, and we honestly need to do the same for ourselves, to hear our own hearts, and then to consider what’s there in light of God’s Truth.

You know what’s crazy about listening? It’s an inexpensive gift to give, that can feel like a precious treasure to the person receiving it. We all want to be heard. It makes us feel like we matter. It makes us feel more connected and more understood.

Give someone the gift of listening today! And may your elevators be elevators, and your alligators, alligators.

P.S. If you’re struggling to tell elevators from alligators with your kids, I’d love to share some resources with you that have worked for us. To see them, click here!

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I Have a Gift for You Today!

You know what I want to give you today, friend? 

A wonderfully good gift. 

The world is a very daunting place to be right now. There are struggles we need to lean into. Reasons for us to pause and search our own souls, ask hard questions and think about our choices. 

This isn’t navel-gazing. This is part of the work of becoming a better human being.

But there’s something else I think we need, too. 

We need to take some deep breaths. 

We need to ponder that beautiful saying, “This too shall pass.”

And? We need to laugh. 

The Hubs and I recently started watching The Chosen. If you’ve haven’t heard about it, it’s a fantastic TV series about the life of Jesus. What’s also remarkable is that it’s a crowdfunded project, which means folks like you and me are donating to make it possible. {I’ve included links below if you want to know more!}

My favorite thing so far is how likable, approachable, genuine, light and funny the portrayal of Jesus is. We know Jesus taught on some pretty serious subjects. We know he delivered sermons from mountaintops. 

But if Jesus loved the children — and the children loved Jesus — I imagine He also had this whimsy about him. I imagine He was the kind of guy who made you just feel a little bit more at ease being around Him.

Like C.S. Lewis described Aslan, Jesus isn’t safe, or tame — but He is good.

A few years ago (inspired by my sister) we started collecting some of the funny things our kids have said into a little spiral notebook, to remember and go back to them later on.

A cheerful heart is good medicine, right?

My soul purpose in sending you this email today is to give you the gift of a smile — hopefully even a laugh. 

Below I’m listing a few of these funny moments we’ve collected. I hope you’ll take a breath, take a break, read on, and remember just how good a cheerful heart can be for you.


Once we asked the kids what they were thankful for, and one piped up, “I’m thankful for my underpants.”

Mark told Arabella she was getting bigger, and she joyfully replied, “Yes! My head is getting bigger! I can feel the food in my head right now!”

(Around age 5) Blake dressed himself to go outside and said, “I’m like a kid. But I’m a little baby monkey, but I can transform into… THE HULK!!!” 

Blake also once told us he felt like something was blocking his little intestament.

Arabella commented, “I like it when I’m asleep, and that’s my favorite part of sleeping.”

An airplane flew loudly overhead and Arabella exclaimed, “The sky is grumbling! It’s hungry!!!!” 

Asher and I discussed the fact that one out of three Europeans were killed during the plague. He commented, “Gosh, there weren’t many Europeans back then.” 

I told Arabella that Dada was working and not going to be home for breakfast. With eyes as big as saucers she gasped a big breath and replied, “Oh no! Who will make your coffee?!?” 

One morning at breakfast, Blake announced, “Mama, I smelled Asher’s armpits last night and they smelled like beans.” 

My all time favorite: We were talking about communion and asked the kids what Jesus did before He broke the bread. {Ya know, we’re talking about giving thanks.} Blake piped up, incredulously excited: 

Oh!!! I know! Jesus forgot to wash His hands! 

I hope you’re smiling today, friend. Maybe even laughing. We are living in trying times, but we have hope as an anchor for our souls, and His Name is Jesus. A cheerful heart is good medicine.  

Look for reasons to smile and laugh today and know — the Creator of the Universe is still on the throne. He is neither tired nor weary. He is not worried or afraid. And friend? He loves you. 

{You can click here if you’d like to see The Chosen app on your phone! Or Click here if you’re on a computer.} 

P.S. It’s finally ready to launch!!!! My online course “How to Crush it as a Newbie Homeschooler” is open for enrollment! If you’re considering homeschooling this fall, I believe this crash course is worth the tiny price, and worth your time

Now Open: Homeschooling for Newbies

So many families are asking about homeschooling, I created an online course to help! To find out more about How to Crush it as a Newbie Homeschooler,

Click here!

Got kids?

Ten Simple Ways to Share Your Faith With Your Kids is a simple ebook I created to help parents take baby steps toward changing the faith culture in their families.

Click here to grab this freebie today!

Maybe It’s Time To Quit… But Maybe It Isn’t?

Finish what you’ve started.

Sounds like solid advice, right? 

But what if sometimes… it isn’t?

Now once upon a time, I was working on a PhD in Scotland. I took a six month sabbatical to welcome our first born, but when it was time to start back, it somehow just didn’t feel like it was time to start back.

I prayed and thought and prayed. And I felt it was time to set the PhD down. It was hard — but still, it seemed there was a whisper to my soul: This is the way. Walk ye in it.

A month later, my primary supervisor passed away unexpectedly. No one else in the Divinity School was a good fit to oversee my thesis. 

I deeply grieved the loss of such an amazing woman, but was grateful the decision was made before she was gone — so that I felt confident the decision was right.

When it comes to learning a new skill, starting a new thing, or braving a new venture, I often want to tell my kids to finish what they start. But sometimes it takes wisdom to know what projects were an opportunity to learn something in the process, and which are the things that need to be seen through to completion.

Give a moment to these words from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Proverbs 16:3.

The only way to have our thoughts established is to commit our works to the Lord. […] all our outward concerns must be committed to the providence of God, and to the sovereign, wise, and gracious disposal of that providence. Roll thy works upon the Lord (so the word is); roll the burden of thy care from thyself upon God. Lay the matter before him by prayer. Make known thy works unto the Lord […], not only the works of thy hand, but the workings of thy heart; and then leave it with him, by faith and dependence upon him, submission and resignation to him. The will of the Lord be done. We may then be easy when we resolve that whatever pleases God shall please us.”

Do you love that word choice as much as I do? We can roll the burdens onto Jesus.

This is where it all gets established — when we roll our works and roll the burdens we care about onto God. When we set our hearts and minds to do the thing we believe we are meant to do, and we give it our all, to the glory of God, because we’ve been instructed that whether we eat or drink or whatever we do, we do it fully for His glory.

So we do those things we believe we are supposed to do, but if it goes well, or if it goes poorly — that matters so much less than just having followed the Lord’s leading.

Isn’t it interesting that our thoughts will be established? Whatever happens with the efforts that we make, God will establish the way we rightly understand it.

So I attempt to do a PhD, following His leading into it, and then I perceive the time to finish has come to an end before I expected it, and I follow His leading out of it — but wasn’t this all the Lord?

Without the scholarship, I would not have stayed in Scotland. Without staying in Scotland I would not have married Mr. Collie. 

Continuing the PhD, we would not have spent those two God-ordained years of ministry in South Africa. God closed those doors just as clearly as He had opened them, and it was all in His timing, so clearly… We returned to the US and I had eighteen months before my Dad passed away, which I so often give thanks for.

We did what we felt led to do, even when it didn’t make sense. Even when turning down a full scholarship seemed nuts. Even when two years were all the time we had in South Africa, though we were hoping four.

We committed our works to the Lord by doing what we believed He was leading us to do. He established the way we thought about all these things in hindsight, and we have such a sense of peace that we were walking according to His leading. 

So is it time to quit… or is it time to stay the course and finish what you’ve started? 

We can roll this burden onto Jesus. Commit your next step to Him. And then the step after that. Don’t get overwhelmed by the big picture. Instead, look for the next right thing and do that.

Maybe it is time to quit. Maybe it’s time to press on and press in. The wisdom you find in committing your ways to the Lord is where you’ll discern the difference.

P.S. I’m launching my first ever online course, “How to Crush it as a Newbie Homeschooler” very soon! You can click the link below to be notified when it’s time to enroll. Have a friend considering homeschooling? Please let them know this two week course will truly be worth their time!

Homeschool 101: Coming Soon!

So many families are asking about homeschooling, I’m working on an online course which I hope to launch by July 20th! To be the first to know when this course is happening, 

Click here and enter your details!

Got kids?

Ten Simple Ways to Share Your Faith With Your Kids is a simple ebook I created to help parents take baby steps toward changing the faith culture in their families.

Click here to grab this freebie today!

For When You’re So Offended Your BFF Offers to Throw Toilet Paper

Have you ever read a book and thought… Wait! Is this book reading me?

Jesus said, “It is impossible that no offenses may come.”

I sure do wish that wasn’t true.

But a few years ago, I got super offended about something. I did precisely what most of us ladies do: I called my BFF to go on and on about how offended I was. 

She listened and had tons of compassion and sympathy. And then said the exact thing I needed to hear most. 

She offered to help me toilet paper a house. 

She afterwards suggested we could write Bible verses on the toilet paper. 

I was blessed by her ability to make me laugh… but my heart was still swirling mad. 

The Hero Hubs and I talked about it. He was offended, too. 

I admitted I didn’t think I was going to be able to just play “fine” and not be honest about how I felt when the time came for a conversation. I knew I was going to have to walk out those terribly inconvenient verses that instruct us: 

When your brother has offended you, go to him… {Matthew 18:15…} 

So we did what most offended people probably do. We talked for a while about why we were offended. And then we found something entertaining to watch and tried to forget about it. 

But when bedtime came and I lay down and felt my heart still beating faster than I liked, I finally decided I needed some advice that a human couldn’t give me. 

So? I opened Proverbs. And in chapter 15, this greeted me: 

A soft answer turns away wrath,

But a harsh word stirs up anger. {that’s verse ONE people!} 

Great. So when I am honest and truthful with the “offender” I have to be gentle and not harsh. 

A wholesome tongue is a tree of life,

But perverseness in it breaks the spirit. {v.4} 

Great. More about being wholesome and kind with my word choices. Grrrr. 

The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge,

But the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness. {v.14} 

Right. So … exactly like my husband said two minutes ago, I need to seek to understand. Not just to be understood. 

This is getting more inconvenient by the minute, right? 

The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord,

But the words of the pure are pleasant. {v. 26}

Argh! I need to repent for what’s been in my mind and heart about this situation! And for the words I said aloud to the hubs! Yikes! 

There were more that spoke to me, but here’s the kicker: 

The heart of the righteous studies how to answer,

But the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil. {v. 28} 

{Can I pretend I didn’t read this and just go pour forth whatever comes out of my mouth first?} 

Basically, what this situation drew out of me was how quick-tempered I was being. How quick to be frustrated and offended and certain of my position and my right and their wrong and the list goes on… 

And this chapter of Proverbs just started reading my mail. The Word was reading me. Speaking to my heart. Speaking to my exact situation. 

It was one whisper after another, and if I was willing to listen, these whispers could calm the storm inside my own soul. 

Why did I spend so much time formulating my own ideas before eventually consulting the God with Whom Wisdom dwells? 

Let me tell you one more truth. I’ve been offended before. 

And I’ve handled it really badly before. Apologies were made and all is well but still there is regret in my soul that I let my tongue run wild and unchecked — pouring forth unnecessary foolishness. 

It is easy to find people to take our side and tell us what we want to hear! But search hard — you need the people who will tell you the truth! 

Here’s what I’ve learned. When you’re sideswiped by an offense, don’t rush to text that friend that will justify the offense for you. Don’t let that blood-boiling feeling force you to say things you’ll wish you hadn’t said later. Even to your spouse. 

When you need to know how to handle anything life throws your way, this incredible, living, life-breathing Word is the place to find it. Jump into the Proverbs and be amazed when something you’ve read a dozen times already suddenly speaks to exactly what you’re going through. The Word can truly start reading you. 

And? It’ll save you a lot of toilet paper.


P.S. There’s still time to give! Along with many other miracle families, we are raising funds to benefit the incredible hospital that (along with so many prayers) saved our son’s life last year, since the Children’s Miracle Network couldn’t host their telethon this year. Please click here to give! We’ve set an ambitious goal of raising $4,800 – $100 for every night Blake spent in the hospital. Please help us reach that goal! Thank you heaps and heaps to those of you who’ve already given!

P.P.S. Blake’s story was on the news last week! Click here to watch + celebrate the miracle with us!

Homeschool 101: Coming Soon!

So many families are asking about homeschooling, I’m working on an online course to offer VERY soon! To be the first to know when this course is happening, 

Click here and enter your details!

Got kids?

Ten Simple Ways to Share Your Faith With Your Kids is a simple ebook I created to help parents take baby steps toward changing the faith culture in their families.

Click here to grab this freebie today!