What’s Underneath? A Review and Reflection

Brave Moms Brave Kids Review

I am not a scaredy cat mom. Part of that is my personality and part of it is life experience. I’ve seen again and again that fear does not grow hope so I’ve run toward hope boldly more often than not.

So, as I sat down to read Lee Nienhuis’ debut book “Brave Moms, Brave Kids” I was on the fence about this being a book for me but also longing for some encouragement as I strive to be the best mom to my 5 kiddos that I can be. In a world of normalized violence, easy being idolized and the pursuit of more being embraced, we all need words of affirmation to keep running boldly toward hope.

Encouragement was found here. There are two kinds of “mom books” those that tell you how to mom in a three step process and those that give you foundations and principles. This book has a little bit of both.

For the mom who desires more of a directive, Part Three “The Noble Work” is exactly what you are looking for. Here Lee gives great ideas on everything from growing your child’s knowledge about God to giving them the framework to have good relationships. This is a good jumping off point to go from foundational framework to simple, practical implementation such as

“I challenge you to ready the book of Daniel with you kids, asking the question with every paragraph: What did Daniel know about God?”

But for the mom, like me, who is looking for something more, I would challenge you to consider the state of your own heart. Perhaps it isn’t fear that makes motherhood discouraging and exhausting? For me I’ve discovered that my desire for control and my own pride and impatience hold me back from leading my kids well.

In the opening of the book I reflected on this idea…

“Unresolved tension leads us to feel in our very marrow how far we’ve traveled from where we are supposed to be.”

Whether your tension be fear, insecurity, pride or control Brave Moms, Brave Kids may be the vivid reminder many of us moms need to begin again. To quietly and reflectively call us back to the ‘Rock that is Higher than I’ so that we may send the children we love out into the world knowing who they love and who they are loved by.


Want to hear more? Lee made a book intro video!


*This book was received from the publisher as an Advanced Reader Copy. All opinions are my own.


Advent 2017: Who We Become

For the Second Week of Advent on Love…

love week 2 advent

Do you ever sit at the end of a day and feel complete? Whole? Knowing you counted the moments and you made the moments count?

In my own life I can not always say that this has been true. I often spend too much time worrying about the little things and not enough time seeing the big things.

But today, today I ended whole. As I reflected on the day I kept wondering “how do I stay here?”


It seems too simple.

Yet, during this second Advent week when we focus on love, I am reminded that love is enough.

Love was enough to rescue me. Love is enough to carry me into eternity.

My small, imperfect but well meaning love, it too matters.

Your love, it is shaping who you are becoming. Love well.


From Bernard of Clairvaux 

“What we love we shall grow to resemble.” 

Advent 2017: Wrong Oft So Strong

For the Advent Week of Hope…

advent 2017 hopeful sunset

I sat and listened to their stories. The ones where relationships were broken and families hurt and bodies just struggled to heal.

It just seems hard and unfair.

I opened up the news and it was overwhelming. People being crushed by words and war, whole stories not being told and those in influential positions unwilling to listen.

When the world is hurting, we begin to hurt.

Every generation has faced its own dark night. War, politics, nature, economy…they are often broken systems run by broken people and when both the people and systems are struggling, hope is not what we feel.

And then I sit, with my toddlers, exploring crayons and paper and trying to keep the two together and not all over the table and wall.

I see it, in the midst of a hurting world there is always hope. There is joy in small things undiscovered, experiences not yet had, personalities not yet known.

And these words float through the air and HOPE seems accessible all over again…

Oh, let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.


This Is My Father’s World

  1. This is my Father’s world,
    And to my list’ning ears
    All nature sings, and round me rings
    The music of the spheres.
    This is my Father’s world:
    I rest me in the thought
    Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas—
    His hand the wonders wrought.
  2. This is my Father’s world:
    The birds their carols raise,
    The morning light, the lily white,
    Declare their Maker’s praise.
    This is my Father’s world:
    He shines in all that’s fair;
    In the rustling grass I hear Him pass,
    He speaks to me everywhere.
  3. This is my Father’s world:
    Oh, let me ne’er forget
    That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
    God is the ruler yet.
    This is my Father’s world,
    The battle is not done:
    Jesus who died shall be satisfied,
    And earth and Heav’n be one.


Advent 2017: With Patience

For the Advent week of Hope…


I was sitting outside my office waiting for a few people to come for a meeting. It was quiet as all the other businesses in our building had left for the day.

There I was, me, my office and my thoughts.

I don’t know if you’ve ever read any writers like James Joyce who adhere to a stream of consciousness style but that is a little what that moment felt like.

Kids…big kids…kids with struggles…my kids…friends kids… friends…friendships…my dear friends who are not close this holiday season…immediate work…job…business…community…struggling community…changing community…needs…how the world needs…human limitations…holy beings unlimited.

Walking with my son to pick up some quick dinner in between meetings he said “Mom, how does God show himself? What kind of form does He take?”

Hope has such a grand breadth and depth of meaning but this point of it is sure, hope holds on to that which is more than ones self.

Sitting in the quiet hallway I’m brought back. In this season of preparation hope begs of us to sit in patience. Not in want. Not in fear. Not busyness. In patience.

As I long to be WITH this season, I find this practice of sitting in hope with my own humanity may be the hardest belonging practice of them all.

Patient Trust

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.

—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ

Advent 2017: Unspoken

For the evening before Advent…

Have you ever been with a friend and seen a need but didn’t act? You know, she’s changing her kids and only has a few dishes left in the sink. Or she puts kids in the car and still has to put the stroller in the trunk.


All of us have unspoken needs. Sometimes we don’t speak them because we feel shame or guilt in asking someone else to step in. Sometimes we don’t speak them because we don’t know how to ask. Sometimes we don’t speak them because we want the control that comes with doing it ourselves.


Yet, when an unspoken need is met, how do you feel? For me, most often, I feel relieved. One less small thing to do in a day of thousands of small things. I also feel grateful. When my unspoken needs are seen and acknowledged I feel seen and acknowledged.

In this season of preparation, this season of being WITH, listen and watch for the unspoken need and then wait to see how your soul responds.

Perhaps you will find that being with that person, in that place, in that moment, is exactly where you were meant to be.

St. Francis of Sales

O GOD, how admirable is that which we see;
but O GOD,
how much more so is that which we cannot see.

Advent 2017: Just Be There.

In preparation for Advent…

Why aren’t we just there for each other? We do FOR each other, but what about being WITH each other?

There to be trusted, there to listen, there to encourage. There to cry, there to sit, there to laugh.

Too busy? Maybe. Afraid? Probably.

So here’s my challenge in December…be there. 

We often celebrate Advent as a coming of something. Who needs you to come to them? What if we practiced what we are about to experience?

What if we commit to being with someone like Christmas celebrates God’s commitment to be with us?

Be there.

And come back…I’ll be posting regularly about people who are “being there”.

The Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is dispair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Love: What IS


So I’m reporting back on our family experiment to learn and implement a monthly theme.

GUYS. WHY? Why do I think this is ever going to go the way I think! It never does!


A Week’s Recap

Day 1: Family Meeting. The big kids get it, the preschooler shares their excitement but she’s not sure why and the littles pull out all the Christmas books and spread them all over the floor. This is success.

Day 2: At dinner the kids start going around and doing the best/hardest part of their day. I pause them and remind them that we are going to share where we saw love in our day. They look at me puzzled and no one comes up with anything. We rehash the family meeting and vow to try again.

Day 3: Dinner again. “Where did you see love today?” Yep, crickets. So I give an example of appreciating the kids doing some chores without being asked. They then each retell that story as their love experience for the day. *insert eye roll here*

Day 4-6: Okay! I decide to pre-prepare them for dinner at school drop off. “Bye guys, love you, don’t forget to look for LOVE today!” Dinner came around, there were real stories about where the kids saw love.


Things I’ve Learned

  • Where kids see love tells me a lot. Our oldest sees other people doing acts of love for one another yet never tells about himself feeling/acting in love. Our daughter is always telling us how she loved someone. Our preschooler sees the whole world as love and she can connect love to just about anything in her day.
  • I need to better define love for our kids. Love is more than an act of kindness, an encouraging word or a feeling. How we define love may change where the kids see love.
  • No one has taken me up on the senses challenge yet. I am sure it is coming but it hasn’t happened yet. I’ll report back when it does!

Goals Moving Forward

  • Define Love. Outside of some scripture I already have been working with I am turning to Pinterest for some inspiration and kid perspective on love.
  • See love more. As I’ve been telling the kids to “look for love” around them I realized I haven’t done a great job of that myself. Time to buy in and start!