Learning to Be a Mom


I watched my daughter Grace on the swing set yesterday. Dinner was cooked and waiting on daddy to arrive, so I ventured to the back yard and pulled up a chair to watch my youngest girl. The other two were holed up in their rooms, probably glued to an electronic device.

“Mama!” she yelled, so excited to have my undivided attention. “Watch me!”

I sat back into one of our patio chairs and propped my feet on the tiny plastic picnic table in front of me and relaxed in the evening sun. I watched as Grace swung her legs to and fro, pumping herself higher and higher.

When did she get so good at swinging, I wondered. Just yesterday she was outgrowing the baby swing with the bar to keep her from falling out. I thought of those first few times putting her in the big girl swing and praying she didn’t fall out the back. I would stand with my hands out to catch her if she accidentally let go of the chains.

“Hold tight!” I’d tell her, barely pushing her high enough to catch wind in her hair.

I was thinking of how many times I’d stood in the yard behind the swing, pushing her when she jolted my thoughts. “Mama! Do you see me? I’m almost touching the sky! Woooooooo!”

Without warning, my eyes filled and blurred the carefree girl across the yard. When did she get so good at swinging? I wondered again.

Next year, she’ll be in kindergarten. She’ll be six on her birthday. It doesn’t seem that long ago when I stared in shock at that positive pregnancy test and walked out of the bathroom to tell Alan, “You’re not going to believe this.”

“Waaaaa-hooooooooo,” Grace called out. “Look at me now, Mama!”


“Wow! You’re great at swinging, Grace! Be careful.” I cautioned her.

“Don’t worry. I just hold on tight to these chains. Really tight. Just like you told me, Mama,” Grace said.

And my hands, in tense fists in my lap, loosened a bit. This is the way of things for moms. We place them into swings when their tiny bodies aren’t big enough to do it alone. Then we stand behind them, coaching them on what to do, close enough to catch them if they fall. In time, we are across the yard, watching from afar as they practice what we’ve taught. We relish in their accomplishments.

Because soon – my breath catches a little – soon, they will leave the yard. God help me when that day comes.

I bit my lip a little, to keep from the ugly cry. “That’s great, Grace. I’m glad you remember. Just don’t ever let go.”


Learning to Listen in 3 Easy Steps


I wrote this a few years back for the Internet Cafe, but my son reminded me of it last night. We got a good chuckle, so I thought I’d share it again with you here in its entirety. 

I’m a doer. You will usually find me folding laundry, loading the dishwasher, reorganizing the canned goods, or making sure my closet is color coded in order of the rainbow. I tell you this so you’ll know that sitting on the couch and ordering around the children isn’t the norm.

But that’s exactly what I was doing this particular day. I was sitting in our overstuffed chair, diet Coke by my side, with my feet perched just so when I realized my toes were cold. “Colin,” I called my son from upstairs. “Will you run to my room and grab me a pair of socks and toss them down?” Run, grab, toss. Simple instructions. Any eight-year-old could have done it.

A few minutes passed when I heard my son run the length of the hall and bound down the stairs. He got close enough to my chair and tossed. What landed in my lap, friends, was not socks. It wasn’t even anything in which I could wrap my feet to warm my tootsies.

My son tossed me a pair of panties. Panties! In what scenario would I be sitting in my overstuffed chair and decide I needed a new pair of under drawers? What was he thinking?

“Colin,” I started slowly, “What did I ask you to do?”

“Ummmm….” He started, having no clue.

Sometimes, I’m the same way with God. I know He is speaking, but I have no clue what He has asked me to do. Just so I don’t show up at the children’s shelter with sixty-four pair of Fruit-of-the-Loom, I need to be familiar with hearing Him speak.

How can we hear God?

1. Put yourself in front of Him.

We can do this by going to His Word and spending time in prayer. Enter His throne room. Look into His face.

If you want to hear from God, go to Him. Don’t call out for Him to speak and then expect Him to meet you in the aisles at Target. (Although, He can certainly find you wherever you are if He wants to get your attention bad enough.)

2. Reduce distractions.

Turn off the TV. Walk away from the computer. Leave your cell phone in another room and find a quiet place where you can talk openly to Him. Don’t do it in the shower – you’ll forget whether or not you’ve shampooed your hair. Just find time to be with your Heavenly Father while doing nothing else.

3. Be still and listen.

Be still, and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10 NIV) Don’t spend so much time talking you forget to listen. God will show up. He will whisper to your soul in a way that only He can. But if you are too busy giving Him a run-down of your day and your problems, you might not hear Him.

God desires a relationship with us, one that goes both ways. He will speak if we are prepared to listen. Be sure you are ready. If you listen half-heartedly, you might be embarrassed when you show up in the den with panties.

*photo credit


When Words Fail


Sometimes words fail.

It’s not often I say that because I’m a words person. I love to use them any way I can – talk, type, stamp – you name it.

But today, friends, words fail me. We visited a community afterschool center in the town of La Vega. I was amazed at what we found there.


The mothers and children who greeted us were so warm and inviting. The welcomed us to take pictures and gave us hugs. It was here where I saw what child sponsorship really means. One Vision International, the organization behind this mission trip, partners with the ladies at this afterschool center to help the children.

The building was plain cinder block, but decorated with the most beautiful arts and crafts. You found the typical things you see in a kids program but not in the typical way. The ABCs on the wall in the preschool room were handmade. Some of the play blocks hand painted.

On the wall in and around the center were the most creative flowers fashioned from something they have plentiful – water bottles. The made flags with bottle cap lids and all kids of flowers from the mouths of the bottle.

IMG_0127 IMG_0112-1

One look and I realized how much I take for granted the arts and crafts, not only in my children’s schools, but in my home, as well.

IMG_0208 IMG_0306 IMG_0210

Today, our team divided and conquered. Several went on a prayer walk in the neighborhood to pray for and over the families. Others told Bible stories with an interpreter and made crafts and helped serve snacks. My job was to take pictures of the new kids who needed sponsorships.


If you have ever wondered who that sponsorship money really goes to help, let me show you some of their precious faces.

IMG_0180 IMG_0172 IMG_0157

I’m back at the hotel now for a quick break and am headed out soon to start our ladies’ conference. I speak tonight at 8 pm Eastern. So if you wanted to say a little prayer, I’d appreciate it.

I love you all and will post again when I can. Until then, would you consider partnering with One Vision and sponsor one of these beautiful children?



Be Careful Who You Trust

Plates were scraped from left over bites of turkey and dressing. The women chattered in the kitchen, giggling over secret mom stories.

The kids spilled out of the house into the crisp air. I wore a jacket and followed my older brother Jay and cousin Johnny around the side of the house. Earlier we had raked leaves and taken flying leaps into the piles.

I trailed close behind the boys not wanting to miss out on anything. I remember twirling and wandering around the yard, while Jay and Johnny climbed tree limbs and piled rocks. Before I knew it they had created a homemade seesaw – at least that’s what it looked like to me.

“Carol,” they called. “Do you want to do something fun?”

When you are the youngest and the older kids ask if you want to have fun, you are so thrilled they want to do something with you, your answer is always yes. They could have said, “Carol, do you want to skin a chicken?” And I would have jumped at the chance.

They may as well have asked me to skin a chicken. It would have been safer. They had piled bricks and centered an old wooden board across the top to make their “seesaw.”

“You stand on this end and Johnny is going to jump on the other end,” my brother explained. “It’ll be just like flying.”

Only it wasn’t just like flying. It was flying.

Eager to join the fun, I stood my six-year-old self on the end of the board and waited as Johnny climbed a tree limb and dropped off on the other end.

One, two three – JUMP!

My body went flying high in the air. That first second was pure exhilaration. I was flying. The next second was sad realization. What goes up must come down.

As fast as I went up, I came down – and crashed into the ground.

Thankfully, I didn’t break anything. But I did go running inside to tattle.

Sometimes when we put our trust in people and things, we find ourselves flying, but soon have a quick and painful landing. When we put our hope in the Lord, it’s like building our house upon the rock.

The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash. Matthew 7:25-27 NIV

Moral of the story: Trust in God. And when your older brother and cousin ask if you want to have some fun? Run!

Do you get  Sheep to the Right by email? It’s easy. Just enter your email address in the box in the upper right corner of the website. Be sure to look for the confirmation email from feed burner to activate your subscription. You’ll only get an email when I have a new post.

*Photo credit


How to Make your Valentine #1

A splash of color caught my eye as my fingers stretched and popped over my keyboard. Glancing down at my hand, I found the culprit.

Mashed between gold settings and the flash of diamonds was neon yellow play-doh dried in my wedding band. My mind immediately flashed to hours earlier when I rolled, cut, pressed and molded the squishy stuff with my daughter Grace. While trying to write at the kitchen table, she begged for me to get down cans of the age-old toy and join her. I figured I must have gotten it stuck in my ring while rolling snakes. “’Nother one,” Grace kept telling me as she slithered bright blue and yellow serpents across the table. “Sssssssss,” her tongue wagged between her tiny lips and teeth.

Focusing again on my wedding ring, I reached over to scratch away the dried up substance only to find it wouldn’t budge. As I walked to the bathroom to wash the play-doh away, I noticed how it covered the sparkle of my diamonds and realized it was a great representation of my marriage.

Sometimes, without me realizing, the kids get put first, and my husband is moved to the back burner. The glitz and sparkle of our passion is covered with Barbie, Legos, and Polly Pocket shoes. If I were to look closely, I’d notice the big clump of Play-doh on top of my hubby, but more often than not I’m too busy to pay attention.

Not long ago, I was in a group of women where one of them said, “I feel so guilty when I put my kids second. I feel like they should always come first, but sometimes I have to put my man first.” When the lady shared, heads all over the room began nodding. Unfortunately, this is the opinion of many. Women feel guilty when they put their kids on hold for their husbands. This shouldn’t be.

For as many who don’t understand the correct order of things are the ones who understand it, but fail to make it happen. I know my husband should come before my kids but am often guilty of getting the order reversed. I’m preaching to the ladies here but gentlemen, you aren’t off the hook. Guys are just as guilty of allowing their jobs to take top priority.

If you aren’t sure whether or not you’ve put your kids before your spouse, just ask. Make time to talk to the love of your life and check to see if you make them feel important.

As you prepare for Valentine’s Day tomorrow, reflect on your relationship and make sure you have your priorities in the right order: 1. God 2. Spouse 3. Kids. It’s really as easy as 1,2, 3.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Cor. 13:7 ESV


What things do you do to help keep your marriage relationship before the kids?