Monday, March 20, 2017

Meet Author Susan G. Mathis

Meet my friend and colleague Susan Mathis. Susan and I (and a few others) mentor moms over at MOMS Together, a Facebook page and also a Facebook group just for moms. 
Susan is a versatile writer. She writes non-fiction and fiction. She writes for adults and for kids. I just read her most recently published book, The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy and decided I wanted to introduce her and her writing to you. 
You will enjoy getting to know Susan. No matter who you are...she has a book for you!
With faith, hope, and love, 

Meet Susan Mathis

1. How did you get into writing? How many books do you have published? What are a few of your latest titles?

My mother quips that I started my writing career when I signed my crayon drawings—on the foyer wall—with a great big “S”! Though I’m not sure that was the start I wanted, I can’t remember not writing.

My journey has been multi-faceted. I’ve taught Language Arts for nine years to 4-8 graders, had my own newspaper column, wrote missions curriculum, and have written just about anything God put in my path. As a Tyndale published author of two premarital books—The ReMarriage Adventure and Countdown for Couples, two children’s picture books—Lexie’s Adventure in Kenya: Love is Patient and Princess Madison’s Rainbow Adventure—and now a debut novelist—The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy—my writing journey has been a diverse one.

I’m also published in several compilations as well as working as a freelance writer and editor, a writing coach, and a speaker, I’m simply passionate about working with words. And as the Former Editorial Director at Focus on the Family of 12 unique publications and Founding Editor of Thriving Family magazine, I’ve done a lot of writing. It’s been a really fun journey!

2. Tell us about your book.
The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy is a story about an 1850s Irish immigrant and a 21st-century single mother are connected by faith, family, and a quilt. After struggling to accept the changes forced upon her, Margaret Hawkins and her family take a perilous journey on an 1851 immigrant ship to the New World, bringing with her an Irish family quilt she is making. A hundred and sixty years later, her great granddaughter, Maggie, searches for the family quilt after her ex pawns it. But on their way to creating a family legacy, will these women find peace with the past and embrace hope for the future, or will they be imprisoned by fear and faithlessness?

3. Why did you write this book?
The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy is based on my family story—my great great grandmother, Margaret, and loosely based on my story as well. The hardest part about writing Maggie’s story was not holding too closely to my story!

4. How does your book connect to the parenting journey?
Oh my! It’s all about parenting! The historical family has six children from ages nine months to thirteen years. Can you imagine immigrating on a famine ship with six kids? And how did they feel leaving Ireland and moving to the New World? The contemporary character has her own struggles. She’s a single mother who has lots of challenges, especially when her only daughter nearly dies in Africa. Yes, it is two stories of the parenting journey in one novel.

5. You said you have two children’s picture books. Why did you write them?
I’ve been a preschool owner, language arts teacher, missions curriculum writer, and am the former editor/editorial director of 12 Focus on the Family publications. Now as a grandma who has four granddaughters in South Africa, I love children’s literature, missions, and the wonder of childhood even more. I love to let my imagination run wild and create inspiring stories that matter, whether the reader is a grown-up or small child.

6. Tell us about Lexie’s Adventure in Kenya: Love is Patient.
This beautiful watercolor picture book tells the story of a little girl and her family who travel to Kenya, Africa, to visit missionaries and the Maasai tribe. Lexie meets a mischievous boy who becomes a bully to her, and she learns to forgive him and be patient. Children and adults can snuggle up together and learn how to live out 1 Corinthians 13 principles while you enjoy adventures around the globe. I hope the children in your life will find a new friend in Lexie and enjoy her story that I hope will become a special part of your lives.

7. And what about Princess Madison’s Rainbow Adventure?
Princess Madison loves rainbows. She wants her colorless kingdom to be beautiful and vibrant, like rainbows. When Princess Madison follows mysterious footprints into the forest, she meets Rainbow Roy. The two work together to grow an amazing garden, fill the kingdom with wonderful fruit, and bring beauty back to the entire kingdom. Princess Madison’s Rainbow Adventure teaches children about the colors of the rainbow and the fruits of the spirit, while enjoying a story of cooperation, friendship, and love.

7. You also have to premarital books? What’s up with that?
Shortly after my husband, Dale, and I married, we started doing premarital counseling. We looked for a good, solid premarital book to help, but all the premarital books were over ten years old. Since my husband has two masters degrees in counseling and I love to write, we co-authored our first book, Countdown for Couples: Preparing for the Adventure of Marriage. It has helped tens of thousands of couples get ready to marry and been translated into Spanish and Indonesian! A few years later, Tyndale asked us to write The ReMarriage Adventure: Preparing for a Lifetime of Love & Happiness for blending families.

8. If you were a flower, which one would you be, and why?
A daisy. Because, as Meg Ryan said in You’ve Got Mail, “Daisies are a happy flower, don’t you think?” I love making people happy and bringing joy to their world.

9. How can readers find you on the Internet?
My website is:

Susan G Mathis is a versatile writer, creating both fiction and non-fiction for adults and children. Her debut novel, The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, released this month!

Before Susan jumped into the fiction world, her first two books were nonfiction, co-authored with her husband, Dale. Countdown for Couples: Preparing for the Adventure of Marriage and The ReMarriage Adventure: Preparing for a Life of Love and Happiness, have helped tens of thousands of couples. She is also the author of two published picture books, Lexie’s Adventure in Kenya: Love is Patient and Princess Madison’s Rainbow Adventure. Please visit for more information.

Find Susan's books on her website and/or on Amazon.

Monday, March 13, 2017

4 Important Questions to Ask Your Kids Every Night

You will love the awesome suggestion Christine Leeb gives moms and dads for a fruitful and fulfilling night-time conversation to have with your kiddos EVERY night. You will totally want to implement her great idea so you will gain greater insight into your child's day---and life.
With faith, hope, and love,

4 Important Questions to Ask Your Kids Every Night

I love my kids, but by bedtime, I’m just exhausted.  At 8 PM, my patience shuts off.  So when I have to jump through so many drinks-of-water hoops, tickle hoops, tuck-in hoops, bedtime-song hoops, pee-pee hoops, and brush-your-freaking-teeth-already hoops, I feel that if they don’t get away from me as soon as possible, I’m going to jump through the I’ve-lost-my-mind hoop and escape into a dimension where only brownies, beaches, and books exist.

But that’s not reality! 

The reality is that parenting doesn’t stop at 8 PM.  And even though some of the hoops I jump through annoy me, there are four hoops that I would never miss jumping through no matter how tired or impatient I feel. 

They are...

The 4 Important Every Night Questions Hoops

I started asking my kids these four questions every night and it has changed our relationship.  It has brought us closer.  It has created a more positive shift in their focus throughout their day and in mine.
1.  What was your favorite part about your day?  
This question allows us to jump through the hoop of positivity together.  It helps my children focus on the best parts of their day, and gives us another opportunity to reflect on them, laugh even more about them, and find joy in those special moments one more time before they close their eyes.

2.  What was your least favorite part about your day?  
This question allows us to jump through the hoop of reality together.  No one is perfect.  Everyone makes mistakes, so it’s great to have the opportunity to be real and talk about those things in their day that didn’t go well—bad choices, disrespect, being irresponsible.  This question has allowed for me to model unconditional love and has given me many second-chance teachable moments.  Even if I lost my temper the first time around, I have one more chance to walk them through what they should have done differently.  It’s great for kids to be reminded that tomorrow is a new day to try again.

3.  Do you have any questions about your day?  
This question allows us to jump through the honesty hoop together.  It establishes a habit of always letting them know that they can ask me anything and can trust me to listen and love.  It shows them that I’m a “safe” person who isn’t going to judge or get angry or be upset if they want to talk about the tough stuff. 

4.  How did you show kindness and love today?  
This question allows us to jump through the integrity hoop together.  It encourages them to be kind and loving to others even when no one is watching.  It is the most powerful, life-changing question I have asked!  My kids have learned just how simple it is and how capable they are of showing kindness or love every single day.  When I first started asking this question, my eight year old had trouble coming up with an answer, so I would step in to tell what I saw him do--he was thoughtful to take his plate to the sink, he played with his sister nicely, he gave his little brother a turn with his squirt gun, he washed his hands the first time I asked him to.  Creating an awareness of the little ways that he can show kindness and love has empowered him to do even more.  Plus, I find myself looking for those positive things that each child does throughout the day so I can share it with them that night.  They love hearing all the great things they’ve done.  Kindness and love…this is the focus I want my kids to have throughout their day! 

The 4-Questions hoops have helped me learn more about my kids'  baseball game play-by-plays, storm fears, favorite colors, and movies. I have also had an opportunity to answer my kid's questions about abortion and smoking, and help them appreciate the differences in others. I’ll never forget the night we cried together about a little boy in a wheel chair.

Because of jumping through the 4-Questions hoops of positivity, reality, honesty, and integrity every night, I have laughed louder, cried more, snuggled closer, and taught lessons about life that I would not have had the opportunity to do in the busyness of the day.  The 4-Questions hoops has allowed me to live out our calling to “be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” from Ephesians 4:32 NLT. 

Dear parent, at bedtime, won’t you join me in bending your knees and jumping through these four extra hoops with me every night too?  I promise that these are the hoops you will never regret jumping through for your kids.

A version of this post was first shared on Her View From Home 

CHRISTINE LEEB is a Family Coach and former educator using her life as a lesson plan to empower parents to be their child’s best teacher in their most important classroom in life…their own homes!  She develops and teaches classes through a charitable organization she founded called Real Life Families.  She has 3 beautiful (and exhausting) children and has been married to her husband, Brad, for almost 17 wonderful (and challenging) years.   Check out a helpful resource: Blessed in the Mess: How to Have a CleanHouse (Sort of) and Content Kids (Most of the Time). 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Quit Giving Your Kid These 7 Compliments

It feels so good to get that affirmation in terms of a pat on the back or the enthusiastic atta boy/ atta girl-- the proverbial thumbs up.

But... there are some compliments that are not life giving. Some can be quite toxic.

Here are  seven compliments to quit giving your kids.

1. The Back-Handed Compliment: "I didn't think  YOU would be able to do THAT." Translation,"I believed you were incapable of accomplishing this." Result: A direct hit to a child's self-worth. He begins to feel insecure and eventually learns to be passive aggressive. quiet unless you can say something that is actually nice.

2. The Inherited Compliment:"Oh yes Remington got his musical aptitude from his dad." Translation, "You were just gifted through good genes,. You don't fully own your success, your dad gets credit too." Result: Cannot fully appreciate success or totally own failure. Learns to blame others of failures and relies on others for success. Replace the sentiment with,"Remington is a good musician." 

3. The Infection of Perfection Compliment: "Our little Denae is so perfect. She never does anything wrong." Translation, "We only love you when you are perfect. There is no room for being human in our family." Result: Stress and pressure on the child. The child learns to manipulate situations so he or she continues to look and be "perfect." Rather let the child be imperfect. It's OK, we all are flawed..

4. The Figure Focused Compliment:"Honey, you are so beautiful. skinny, buff, etc" Translation, "Your worth is all tied up in your physical appearance." Result: Exaggerated emphasis on external characteristics rather than developing desirable and godly qualities. Alternatively focus on the qualities to be developed (kindness, honesty, generosity) and then here and there compliment the child on his appearance.

5. The Yertle the Turtle Compliment: "You are better  than______. You deserve better than____."
Translation, You are more worthy and valuable than another human. Result: Pride and entitlement grow in this environment. The idea of I'm better than you is reinforced. In lieu of putting one down to elevate another teach your child the truth--  all are created in God's image and all worthy of love and respect.

6. Flat-Out Flattery Compliment: "You are so strong. Will you do this for me?" Translation, When a compliment is received an act of service must be  given (tit for tat). Result: the child learns to manipulate through flattery to get one's way. It is preferable to be honest and state what you need or want without gussying it up with flattery.

7. Pie in the Sky Compliment: "Nice job." A nonspecific compliment. Translation, "I really don't see what you did well but I want to pacify you with with a general compliment." Result: The child doesn't learn good reflective and evaluation skills. Perhaps ask a question instead, "What do you think you did well?" Be specific in your praise.

Our kiddos cannot be good at everything. Our praise must be both honest and specific and... not one of these 7 toxic compliments.

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
Proverbs 16:24

If you liked this post you will also like these:

15 Empowering Messages to Give Your Kids

10 Ways to Increase Your Kid's IQ (And Praise Isn't One of Them) 

Lori Wildenberg
Licensed parent and family educator, co-founder of co-author of 3 parenting books (with her 1st solo endeavor to be published in May 2017 Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home),  mom of four (plus one daughter-in-love), wife to Tom,  Contact Lori for your next event. She is also available for parent consulting and parent training courses. Lori can also be found mentoring over at  MOMS Together community on Facebook. 

Monday, February 27, 2017

2 Triggers to Teen Attitude

Have you been left feeling befuddled following an exchange with your teen? You stand there in confusion as your teen rants and marches off? You wonder, "What happened here? How did this escalate to anger?" You reflect,"I didn't mean that. I didn't even say that." 

During the teen and young adult years, the young person's filter (brain) is not yet fully developed and their perspective is skewed by their insecurities.

Tone and topic appear to be the main triggers to teen attitude. These two triggers move our young person to an emotional response rather than a logical one. Leaving mom and dad confused by what just happened.

How we say things matters. When we  present our concerns with a calm and kind approach, the conversation tends to work out a bit better. If we come to our kids in a highly emotionally state, we will get the same reaction back--only multiplied. We will have activated our young person's fight or flight mode. And by doing this we will not be able to work through the conflict or concern we have just presented.

Some of the topics we need to discuss with our kids are also their personal "hot spots" ...our kids' catalyst for combat. We can't get around this but we can find a way that creates a less toxic reaction. By approaching our concerns in a way that gets the child to think and problem solve we will find we have more success.
  • State your observation: "I noticed your math homework was left on the counter when you went to school." Just the facts. 
  • Avoid editorializing,"You forgot your math homework on the counter again."  Your child will hear this, "You are so forgetful. You never remember anything."  
  • Verbalize your concern,"I'm concerned this will affect your grade."
  • Ask a question, "What do you think a good solution might be? Would you like my help?" 
If we can do these 4 things we will avoid most (not all) of those moments that generate accusations and misunderstanding. We want the exchange to move to a problem that needs to be solved not a kid who needs to be fixed. It is less personal. The child feels his parent is there to support and encourage him.

Our kids walk around with a belief about themselves, "I'm stupid. I'm fat. I'm forgetful" We want to alter this type of negative self-talk and change their perspective.By maintaining a calm and kind tone we reduce stirring that emotional teen angst. When stating just the facts our kids are better able to deal with the concern using logic rather than emotion.

Pay attention to the topics that set your young person off. You will gain insight into their personal belief about themselves. Or a belief about what they think you believe about them. If you do this, you will be better equipped to talk with your child in a way that doesn't reinforce his false personal narrative about himself or about you.

There are times when dealing with a teen we parents feel as if  we have just entered bizarro world. a way it is true. Our young person's perspective (often false perspective)  impacts interpersonal interaction. It's up to us to help them readjust their mindset and to set the tone for productive rather than reactive conversations.

If you liked this blog here are some related ones you may want to read.

4 Secrets to Effective Communication with Your Teen 

5 New Steps for Parenting Teens 

7 Effective Ways to Respond to Your Teen

7 Ways to Impact Your Teen's almost Adult Phase

5 Things Teens Need to Know About Their Parents

How to Grow Your Child's Conscience

If this post was helpful and you want more information on raising big kids head over to Amazon and pick up your copy of   Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love  .

Lori Wildenberg
Licensed parent and family educator, co-founder of co-author of 3 parenting books (with her 1st solo endeavor to be published in May 2017 Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home),  mom of four (plus one daughter-in-love), wife to Tom,  Contact Lori for your next event. She is also available for parent consulting and parent training courses. Lori can also be found mentoring over at  MOMS Together community on Facebook. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Presidents in the Buff ( A President's Day Activity)

History buff...not me. Memorizing  facts, dates, names of people who are long gone....What a SNOOZE. Unfortunately, I most likely infected at least three of my kids with the history doldrums. (What a fail!)

My attitude began to turn around after watching National Treasure with my fourth kid. My daughter LOVES that movie. She somehow missed drinking my poisoned opinion. (Maybe Tom, the History Trivia King, created an antidote to my attitude.)

Actually, I am beginning to discover history is far from Dullsville. If presented in an interesting way it is (I can't believe I'm saying this) exciting and enticing.

Look at the fun facts I discovered about the one-dollar bill.

• On the front of the bill is George Washington, first United States President. Prior to being the president he was a General and a chaplain in the army! And… kids love this…he didn’t have wooden teeth but he did have a cow’s tooth!

• The reverse side of the dollar contains both sides of the Great Seal of the United States adopted in 1782.

·         To the left, is the eye of Providence on top of the pyramid recognizes God’s involvement in the affairs of man. On the bottom is the date 1776 with the words Annuit Coeptis, which means “He (God) has smiled on our undertakings.”

•    On the right is the American Eagle, our national symbol. The eagle’s
      talons hold a cluster of arrows and an olive branch. The arrows
      represent defending the nation and the olive branch, peace. The
      eagle’s shield has 13 stripes depicting the 13 colonies. (Just like the
      U.S. flag.) The eagle’s beak holds a ribbon that reads E pluribus Unum,
      the official motto of the United States. It means “out of many, one.” The
     colonists were immigrants representing many different countries but
     uniting together.

 •   Above the word ONE on the backside of the dollar is the phrase In God
                         We Trust.  The very last bill signed by President Abraham
                        Lincoln required this declaration to be present on all currency.

In my quest to find out more about The United States of America I have discovered that Christians were an integral part of building our nation. February is a perfect month to focus the heritage of the U.S.A. and on the influential people in our country’s past. This is the month America celebrates black history and the presidents.

Now…grab a kid, a dollar, and a magnifying glass. Examine the bill. And while you are at it…the number of thirteen like items is seen in more places than the just the shield. Go on a National Treasure Hunt of your own and discover all the spots the thirteen things show up. Have fun!

You have given me a heritage of those who fear your name.
Psalm 61:5b

 Happy Presidents' Day!

What attitudes have you passed along to your children?

Lori Wildenberg
Licensed parent and family educator, owner and founder of  1st Corinthians 13 Parenting CO, LLC, co-author of 3 parenting books (with her 1st solo endeavor to be published in May 2017 Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home),  mom of four (plus one daughter-in-love), wife to Tom,  Contact Lori for your next event. She is also available for parent consulting and parent training courses. Lori can also be found mentoring over at  MOMS Together community on Facebook. Head over to Amazon  to get Raising Little Kids with Big Love or Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love  for more parenting tips and strategies.