Kids, Technology and Connection: Screens & Teens Review

March 5, 2015


My youngest daughter recently turned three. She’s petite in stature and big in personality. Since she is the third, I’m not always as aware of what she knows.

For example, she asked to watch a show and I said yes, as I walked into the family room I realized she had managed to turn on the TV and Netflix  all on her own. I had no idea she could do all that!

I began thinking about my kids and technology. We limit TV time, video game time and movies. The kids don’t have electronics in their room and all of our devices are shared among us. But is it really enough just to limit their screen time? What about learning to use technology wisely? Engaging in their interests through technology? Exploring the world in new ways?

“Communicating is a strength of our wireless world. However, there’s no guarantee this communication will lead to connection. That’s the challenge for all of us.” – Dr. Kathy Koch, Screens and Teens

I don’t have teens (yet) so I wasn’t 100% sure this book was for me but I wanted to know, what can I do right now so my kids don’t get lost in the world of technology.

Truth and lies. What our kids believe about themselves and how they live that out in all their relationships matter. What was I doing to make sure my kids knew how to live out their relationships online?

Once I picked up Screens and Teens I couldn’t put it down! The book is formed around this thought of truth and lies. What lies do our kids believe about themsleves? How is technology reenforcing those lies? What truth do I want to guide them towards instead?

When I become the truth guide for my children my fears and the many unknowns of technology begin to fade away. I lean in to the positive communication our wireless world offers but ground myself and my relationship with my kids in connection first.

Screens and Teens has provided me with a foundation to build on and tools to begin the building. For parents with children of ANY age this book should be on your shelf with highlights, underlines and dog-eared pages. We need the wisdom that Dr. Kathy Koch shares here to raise the next generation of kids well.

Not convinced? Try these quotes on for size…

“Parents and teens are both affected by the influences of our screen-saturated lives, but young people experience the effects with ferocious intensity.” Screens and Teens, pg 14

“Children who are consistently handed phones or tablets by parents who want to keep them busy are being nurtured more by technology than by their own parents.” Screens and Teens, pg 36

“They’ve been raised with technology, their brains are wired to use and depend on these technological tools. It started young for them! … But I’ll say it again: No “thing” will ever meet young people’s legitimate need for security. They should find it in us, in others who are worthy of their trust, and in themselves when they have a healthy self-awareness and behave wisely. Most importantly, they should learn to place their security in God.” Screens and Teens, pg 46

Grab your copy NOW from any of these locations and join the revolution:

AmazonBarnes and Noble, CBD or Celebrate Kids!

*Disclaimer: I was able to read the pre-release copy of this book at no cost. However, all thoughts and opinions are soley mine.


Meet Amanda…Amanda Panda

March 4, 2015

I’m sure she’s thrilled that I just publically called her that! As her oldest sister, I can. I’ll let her tell you the rest…

Hello beautiful mommas!  Welcome to Worship Filled Wednesday! I’m Amanda and I am thrilled to be on this crazy, chaotic, beautiful, grace-filled journey called motherhood with you.  


Please know right up front that I’m not writing here because I’m any kind of expert.  On anything.  I’m a pastor’s wife of 7 years and stay at home momma to two littles (3.5 and almost 2).  I’ll turn 30 this July.  My life is not glamorous or spectacular.  (In fact, I’m listening to Jake and the NeverLand Pirates in the background as I write this.) And I wouldn’t change a thing.


Even as a writer, I struggle to put into words the journey our family has been on over the last 7 years.  My husband began his ministry as a youth pastor.  We are now on our third church and his first as senior pastor.  I have seen the best and worst of those who call themselves followers of Jesus.  There have been mountains, valleys, late night phone calls, funerals, weddings, too many teen trips to count, and more changes than I could have imagined.  Add in two boys born twenty months apart and living at least 8 hours away from either side of extended family and well, maybe the one thing I am an expert on is change!


Through it all, I have learned what it means to worship an unchanging God.  I’ve learned that my worship looks different in the valley than it does on the mountaintop, but the God we worship never changes.  I’ve learned that worship looks different when you’re newly married than it does when you suddenly find yourself at home with a new baby.  I’ve learned that worship is not and cannot be dependent on my circumstances.  


Wednesdays are going to be the day we explore worship.  What is it?  What does it mean?  How does it change the way we live? How do we worship when we’re up to our necks in laundry and crying children?  How do we worship in the different seasons of life?  How do we worship when our feelings don’t match up with the reality of who we know Jesus is?


I am not an expert.  I feel like that bears repeating.  My fear is that some of you will read these posts and think, “Wow, she really has it all together.” It’s easy to think that when you get to hear about the highlights and you don’t always get to see the behind the scenes.


I am a wife and a mom who loves Jesus and who desires to worship in every moment.  I’d love to say that as a pastor’s wife I spend my days reading my Bible, praying, ministering to those in need, and that my kids are always dressed to the nines with hair combed on Sundays.  The reality is I am a beautiful mess.  A desperately in need of grace (and a maid!) mess.  One of my kids is almost always crying and I usually lose my patience at least once before we get out the door on Sunday mornings.  I count it a good Sunday if everyone has clothes and shoes on.  


But I’ve learned some valuable lessons along the way.  I am still learning with each new day and each new season.  God’s mercies are new every morning which means we get a new chance at worship every single day.  


Today is a new day.  What is your worship going to look like this day?


Meet Katie…Snooze Buttons and Zombies: Navigating the Practice of Presence

March 3, 2015

Meet Katie…Wife, Mom, Teacher, Leader of Women, Friend. My most favorite thing about Katie is that she is funny! This girl can make me bust a gut on my worst day. I hope you enjoy her as much as I do!


5 am. Snooze. Hit it again. Snooze for ten more. Ring at 5:10. Snooze. Ring at 5:20. Grr. I guess I’ll get up. This is how my morning goes, fighting the fight to get to the tub, trying not to trip over my zombie-like walk. I don’t really wake up for the next twenty minutes fully, not until I get the kids.

Contrast that to my two year-old son, Gowan – on a good day at least. Because when it’s a weekday, there’s hell to pay for getting that child up before 6 am. But on those rare weekend days in which he can sleep in and wake up when he wants to, I walk into his room, and he joyfully jumps on his bed, shouting,” Hi, Mommy! I’m awake!” Which is super cute, of course. But that got me to thinking…there’s a bit, or a huge difference, between his start to the morning and mine.

The problem for me, though, is that I’m not just hitting the snooze button at 5 am (and 5:10, 5:15, and 5:20). Throughout the day, I often feel like I’m still hitting that darn snooze button. On any given day, especially week days, I just run through the mundane like a drill sergeant, running from task to task. Or if I’m not feeling drill sergeant-y (I think I just invented a new word; go me!), I take on the personality of a robot, not even thinking about what I’m doing and just, you know, doing it. Just doing to do, because it has to, because it needs to.

And I’m assuming I know my audience here, so I probably don’t even need to expound upon the “it” I’m incessantly doing. But just to be assured that you’re in good company, here’s the “it:” get the kids fed, noses wiped, teeth brushed, coats on (is it summer yet?) diapers changed, lunches packed, diaper bag packed, eat breakfast, make sure I have work stuff in the car, drive to work, teach high school kids literature “stuff” all day, drive home from work, get dinner going, kids fed, sneak in some dinner myself, baths done, diapers changed, goodnight routines done.

Sound familiar? And after that’s done, then I can enjoy binge watching something on Netflix or Amazon, which is something I feel guilty about, but whatevs. That’s another post for another time. Because at the end of the day, I am EMPTY. I feel like I have NOTHING to give. And, you know, that’s OKAY. But I digress. Again, that’s yet another post for another time.

Back on subject here, I admit that I sometimes even rush the nighttime routines so that I can get to adult chill time sooner. But when I think about whether or not I was truly awake and alive for most of my day, especially the miniscule time I’m actually with my kids, I don’t think I was. I was asleep; I just kept hitting snooze. All day, I was the drill sergeant and the robot who just did everything, not stopping for a minute to say, “I’m awake!” Pause here: I’m not saying that it’s not ok to have days that are like this. Sometimes these days are necessary and just happen. But I am saying that I should make an intentional effort to make sure I’m truly awake for the moments in my day that I can enjoy the people with whom God graced me to spend my life.

These are the moments when my husband and I can laugh at something together, or when we can have a meaningful conversation, or when my son demonstrates his newest animal sound he can make, or when my daughter is taking her first steps (which has started recently! Prepare the mommy crazy meter). I don’t want to be so swamped in to-do lists and the demands of life that I miss these precious moments. And although I may not always miss these moments because of the crazy have-to’s of life, I don’t often stop to delight in them, to joy in them, and to realize how important, how fleeting, these are. I do often laugh at a joke with my husband, have a meaningful conversation, enjoy listening to Gowan “hee haw” like a donkey, and see Cora take those cautiously cute first steps. I am present for these, I see them, I’m there, but do I wonder in them? Am I truly awake? Am I truly alive, for that matter?

When I looked up the definition for the word “alive,” on Webster, I found this: “alert, active, animated.” Similarly, the definition for “awake,” is watchful and alert. So although I am, at least on the literal level, “awake,” I often am not alert, active, animated, and watchful, especially with the people who matter the most. And hear me, tired mamas, I’m not saying that every day, all the time, that we need to delight, to wonder, to revel in every single flipping moment of our day with husbands and children. No. Just. No. We’re not perfect; we don’t have super powers. What I am saying, though, is that we ARE children and daughters to a God who calls us to watchfulness and alertness to delight, to wonder, and to revel in certain moments of our lives that remind us of His ever-present watchfulness and alertness to his own children – you and me. Because God calls his followers to be children of light, being people who are visible to the world and people who are metaphorically awake. This is why Paul references Isaiah when he says, “Awake sleeper! Arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Ephesians 5:14).

When we “arise from the dead,” or refuse to hit the snooze button, and are awake, God promises us that Christ will shine on us. And I don’t know about you, but on every day of the week, I need a lot of Christ shining on me; I need a lot more of Him and a whole lot less of me so that I can be a vessel for his perfect purposes.

So, for me, my small way toward this declaration of “I’m awake,” is to hold off on the metaphorical snooze button for at least two moments a day that I can delight in my husband and my kiddos. And I’m hoping that the longer I intentionally engage in this practice of presentness, it will happily bleed over into more of my day – time at work, time with friends, time in the car – so that I can truly be “awake” for most of my day.

It’s small, but folks, us tired mamas know the trite saying: “it has to start somewhere.” We tired mamas also need to have grace on ourselves that if two moments are the most we can revel in, then two it is.

So next time I’ve become Katie the drill sergeant or Katie the Biggest Loser coach who keeps yelling at myself to keep doing the next thing, or Katie the robot who wipes human interaction and thought from my mind, I’ll chuck the proverbial snooze button out the window, and joyously declare, like my loveable toddler, that I, world, am truly awake!


Small Wonders: Music

March 2, 2015

Drums, piano, guitar. Banjo, violin, flute. Rock, Blues, Opera. Country, Classical, Jazz.

As I drift in and out of our crazy days I realize we don’t do it quietly! Partly because there are so many of us and partly because we are a family who listens to music.

My husband is the music guy in our family. He has a wide and varied collection. Our kids enjoy everything from kid sing alongs in the car to classic rock wafting in from the kitchen. 

The music is always changing. A little jazz for a quiet morning, some silly songs as we wait in the carpool lane, some fast fun music as we clean.

Isn’t this the rhythm of our life? The tune is always a little different? Sometimes smooth and slow and sometimes fast and frantic. 

What a gift that our expression of life rhythm can somehow beautifully come together in the mystery of music.

As this little space adds new writers this week, as new stories from varied voices appear, I feel the rhythm changing. From slow and quiet to vibrant and fun. 

It’s exciting to hear a new rhythm every now and again…

Linking up with Field of Wildflowers: #SmallWonders


An Attitude of Gratitude: Kids Edition!

February 19, 2015

With 4 kids it was bound to happen sooner or later, a whiner in the bunch.

As a mom I can deal with a lot of kid things. Bumps, bruisies, sibling spats, etc. are no big deal to me. But whining, whining is like nails on a chalkboard. That, I will no stand for.

My kids have no reason to whine. We have a warm home, choices when it comes to clothes, food prepared by my lovely chef husband and toys, books and games to entertain. Their lives are full, whining will not be tolerated.

With this particular child I think some of the whining is personality. This child is more of an artistic daydreamer, slowing marching to the beat of their very own drum which is probably a piano or guitar in their mind. But even personality is not an excuse for whining.

What is a parent to do?

In our house I’ve put my size 9 foot down. We will be a home that lives with an attitude of gratitude – and that goes for the kids too.

So, we are in the midst of an interesting experiment. Right now with just the whiner of the bunch but it might become a family exercise.

3 Steps to Replace Whining with Gratitude:

1. Stop. Each time the child whines I point it out. However, I don’t just say “you’re whining”. Like re-direction with a toddler, I point the child toward a next step. So I say “Tell me something you’re grateful for.” I have now detoured whatever the whine was about and pointed toward a new direction.

2. Require an answer. “I don’t know” is not an answer. So there are 2 options. A) Provide an answer. B) Go sit in your room until you can come up with an answer. Day 2 of this experiment the whiner tested the limits. 1 hour and 20 minutes later it was decided it was easier to give an answer than sit on our bed doing nothing.

3. Follow up. “I’m grateful for our dog.” Yay, I’m so happy for you but what I really want to do is teach the child that gratitude is more than an action, it is an attitude. After the gratitude is given I always follow up. “I like Mabel too, what is YOUR favorite thing about having a dog?” This follow up pushes the child to not just list off whatever might be right in front of them but to really think about all the things in their life and what they mean to them.

Usually by the time our gratitude exercise is over the child has forgotten what they were whining about and moves on with their day with a changed heart and better attitude.

It doesn’t work every time. There has been more than on stalemate take place from the bedroom. The response is not always thoughtful either.

BUT, we are seeing progress. The whiner is whining less. AND as an added bonus the other siblings are jumping on board. When the whiner whines they say “you better have something you’re grateful for.”

I can’t imagine this system would work for every family or every child but if you have a whiner and are at your wits end maybe give it a try and let me know how it goes!

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21


Small Wonders: One Step

February 16, 2015

Recently my 11 month old went from wobbly steps to full on walking. The steps are still small and deliberate. As he practices, those small steps will turn into childish gallops and one day a mans stride.

It all starts with one step.

As I watch a world far away in distance but near in humanity I wonder what that one step is that might lead to peace.

In looking ahead for our son while we are in-between support I think about that one step that might lead to clarity.

While I study and pray for the moms dear to my heart I ponder what one small step might change a family.

It all starts with one step.

Marriage, parenting, friendship, justice, peace, eternity. Jesus.

Jesus step was into a garden. His one step was to kneel and pray. To ask for his life while simultaneously being willing to give it.

That’s my one step today. As the sun comes up in the freezing winter air, my socked feet hit the floor and my knees fall next.

One willing step, kneel and pray.

For peace, for hope, for the next step.

Linking today with Field of Wildflowers #SmallWonders



Small Wonders: Numbers

February 9, 2015


It was a rough day, really rough. My son had lost it.

He eventually came around and when I was tucking him into bed I asked him: On a scale of 1-10, 1 being HORRIBLE and 10 being PERFECT, how was today?

“Can I say 4? Maybe a 3?” I’m struck at how observant he is about himself in these moments.

And what is a good day do you think, I ask? “An 8, or a 9.” (We decided no one is ever 100% perfect so 10 wasn’t an option!)

In that moment I began to think about all the ways we use numbers.

We use them to compare and contrast, just like we did this night. It was visible, simple, realistic.

We use numbers to rank, grade, weigh, measure. On one end of the scale is nothing and on the other there is more than enough.

And then this…”Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)

Why am I numbering things? Am I numbering them so that I can compare myself to others? Am I numbering things so that I feel good about what I have? Am I numbering things and feeling less than?

Or am I numbering my days? Am I seeking wisdom? Counting what really matters, souls? Numbering the good things, the gifts?

As I wrap up my chat with my son I reminded him, even when our days are only a 4 and we are discouraged and we have to ask for a lot of forgiveness, tomorrow doesn’t have to be a 4.

What are you counting today?

Linking today with Field of Wildflowers #SmallWonders


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