The Greatest Gift You Can Give Your Kids

Back in June I entered a writing contest, submitting the story of my step dad adopting me. It’s one of my favorite stories and so I contacted the Huffington Post about publishing it on their site. To my surprise and delight, they responded and granted not only that story to be published but also allowed me to be a regular blog contributor!

So, today I’ve published something over there called The Greatest Gift You Can Give Your Kids. I would love it if you would check it out, and comment or share the post if you like the message! Thanks for all your support.

Here’s a look into the story

I knew there was something bugging my 7-year old son as soon as we got in the car.

“So how was it while we were gone?” I asked my two kids as they buckled themselves in.

“Great!” my daughter replied.

“OK” said Zach, and gazed out the window.

Mackenzie enthusiastically shared the details of movies, swimming and other fun things they did with grandparents and friends while Adam and I were away celebrating our 17th anniversary.

However, Zach remained quiet and shared only vague details.

By the next day a dark cloud settled over my little guy’s mind, darkening his usually cheerful mood and dampening the air of the house.

After dinner, he withdrew to his room while Mackenzie and I cleaned up the dishes. A few minutes later, our dish washing routine was interrupted with screams like someone had seen a ghost. Zach came running into the living room, flailing his arms and screaming.

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4 Ways to Keep Your Marriage Thriving Through the Holidays

Christmas cards line my window sill, familiar carols jingle from the radio, lights twinkle through the windows, darkened from the night sky, and hot chocolate spills on the couch as the kids cuddle close. It’s Christmas time! This season ushers in plenty of warm, cozy feelings, but also spreads a blanket of anxiety. We rush from church activity to school activity and store to store shopping for bargains at the biggest sale of the year. We search for the perfect gift for the perfect party. Pinterest floods our inbox with magnificent, museum quality, must-have decorations that leave us feeling less-than if we don’t download and make them right now. With all this pressure it’s easy to lose the holiday cheer. By the end of December, our relationships with those we love most feel the strain.

How do we navigate the holidays and keep our marriage thriving?

 

  1. Keep Family Margins 20150821_131052

When I was in school, I remember my English teacher stressing the importance of writing within the margins. She took points off the paper if I wrote beyond either red line. She said staying within the margins made the paper neater and easier to read.

Staying within the margin is important in life too. It can make life neater and easier to handle. Margins give us room to breathe. We can freely fill in the lines with enjoyable activities, but leave room in the margins to breathe.

Let’s face it: So many activities appeal to us during the holidays. We feel like we must do them all, but we can’t. We can pick a few favorites and do them joyfully, and then gracefully say no to the others and take some time to rest, relax and read a book. There’s no reason to rush so hard that it takes you till February to recover.

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6 Truths That Will Transform Your Marriage (Part 2)

If you joined me last week, I shared three out of six truths that have transformed our marriage and I hope the lessons we learned will benefit you as well. If you haven’t read the first part, you can do that HERE.

4. Keep a Manageable Schedule

There’s a hierarchy in marriage and if children ever become the object of worship in the family, then you can very quickly expect of symptoms of disintegration to happen in the marriage. A man and woman married first and have a priority over the kids. The kids will leave one day and it will be one on one with our spouse again.

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6 Truths that Will Transform Your Marriage (Part One)

Unlike birthdays, anniversaries don’t come around every year without some effort on our part. I mean you just have to survive for 365 days to celebrate your next birthday! Marriage, on the other hand requires hard, intentional work from two people if you want to celebrate another year. An anniversary is a perfect time to reflect on the past year or years and remember the lessons learned and celebrate the victories won.

This year Adam and I celebrated 16 years of marriage. Sixteen years. That seems like a long time to me because we were only 16 when we met.  We’ve basically grown up together.

I don’t know where you are. Maybe 16 years sounds like a lot or maybe you have that grin on your face that says, “You just wait! Sixteen years ain’t nothing!”

Either way, I think you’ll find something of interest in today’s post.

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What I Learned Through My Parent’s Divorce

Last Friday I wrote a post called What Happens When We Meet in the Middle.

I like it. But I started thinking about all the marriages around me that are either entering divorce court or their divorce is already official. When you’re in that position, how do you swallow words about meeting in the middle? What happens when meeting in the middle hasn’t worked?

And you’ve tried…again and again.

It’s like the couple desperate for the pregnancy test to say positive, but hears their best friend has the news instead. It hurts. Doesn’t mean you’re not happy for them. Doesn’t mean their joy isn’t justified. Just doesn’t help you and your desperate situation.

So, to those individuals, this one’s for you.

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What Happens When We Meet in the Middle

Marriage is hard. Not something that just comes together like a fairy tale. Two people meet, fall in love and live happily ever after.  It just doesn’t happen like that in real life.

I’ve made many mistakes over the years. God had distributed much grace over those mistakes and allowed Adam and I to still hold hands before Him today. One thing I’ve learned is to take the advice of an old country song I used to hear in High School about two kids too young to drive so they’d set out on foot and meet at a central pine tree…

“I’d start walking your way, and you’d start walking mine. And we’d meet in the middle ‘neath that old Georgia pine. We’d gain a lot of ground cause we’d both give a little. And there ain’t no road to long, when we meet in the middle.” (Meet in the Middle by Diamond Rio)

Never thought I’d say this about a country song, but how true those fiddle playing words are!

Meeting in the middle is essential and a critical maneuver in marriage. Yet, it’s one of those things that oftentimes, I don’t feel like doing. I don’t want to meet in the middle, I want my husband to come to me.

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Do you pray with your spouse?

After 15 years, do you know what stands out in my mind most about my wedding night? Nope, not the food. Not the sheets. Not even the I-can’t-believe-my-parents-really-let-me-do-this feeling that I was married (we were 18!)! I remember something even more intimate than what went on in our hotel room. I remember that for the first time as Mr. and Mrs. Adam Steck, we prayed together.

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Top 5 Date Night Rules

1)     Set aside $$ – Sometimes we think our money should go to anything and everything but investing in our marriage. We think it has to be an anniversary or special occasion to justify the expense. This just isn’t so! With so many things vying for our money, we have to be intentional about this and not just “wait and see” if there’s money left over. Something else will surly seem “more important” and take its place.  Right after giving, why not make it a habit and put back $100-$200 (whatever is suitable for your budget – maybe less, maybe more) for a month of dates? Will you need to hire a babysitter or do you have family or friends nearby you can easily use? We have some family nearby, but enjoy hiring a babysitter for 2 reasons. #1 is the kids enjoy getting to know someone new and spending time with them. #2 Adam and I enjoy walking in to a quiet, sleeping house and ending our time together in peace. Because let’s just be honest: Bedtimes can be stressful!

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Bigger is always Better…or Is It?

   Things are just bigger in Texas! We have bigger burgers, bigger hats, bigger cows, and maybe even bigger people. We look naturally to the BIGGER, thinking somehow it’s better.

   For many of us, we want to accomplish BIG things in life. We toil and strive to come out on top – to be distinguished and noticed in our field of expertise. Why throw a tiny pebble into the pond when a large boulder will make a much larger ripple effect? Have you ever tried to pick up one of those boulders? Or tried to launch it? I argue, your ability to would depend on how many smaller, “lesser” ones you’ve practiced on previously. The untrained can throw their back trying!

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Better Than a Black Friday Sale


Proverbs 24:3-4 “By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.


   How do we build a house with wisdom? This verse says our house will be established through understanding. That like couches and tables that fill our actual house, the beautiful antique treasures in this metaphorical house get there by knowledge.
   For the Believer in Christ, wisdom is found in Christ. He is personified here in the word wisdom. In Proverbs we get the picture of us seeking wisdom (which is Christ) as we would a treasure. Unlike the old pirate maps which led its seekers astray or to spoiled plunder, we have an accurate map that leads directly to true, lasting riches! So we have a promise that if we seek wisdom like this, we will find it. I think it’s with this wisdom, that we can begin to build our house.

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