parenting styles
Book Reviews, Mommy Memoir Mondays

Mommy Memoir Mondays: 8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids


Being a parent is hard. Anyone who’s been a parent for more than five minutes knows this…and it might not even take that long to figure it out. But the parenting challenges change as your child grows. My girls are now 7 and 5, and we’re daily having new conflicts that we did not face even a year or two ago. And I know we’ll face different challenges next year. I don’t even want to think about the teenage years yet!

I want more than anything to raise two little girls who are “great,” but some days I feel like a miserable failure as a mother (can anyone else relate?). As a child psychologist and a father himself, Dr. Tood Cartmell certainly does seem to be able to relate to that feeling. And he’s written this book to help parents communicate, teach, and direct their children in new, more effective, ways. Plus, he really does understand that parents are short on time, so he’s written this book in brief chapters that can be each be read in about 10 minutes or less. I REALLY appreciate that.

This is a fabulous guide for parents with kids of any age. And you can get it for 50% off the retail price between April 15 and May 15, 2016, by purchasing it at, and entering the coupon code GREATKIDS16

Plus, when you purchase from the publisher, you’ll receive FREE access to the HEARTS AT HOME “ESSENTIAL WORKSHOP COLLECTION FOR PARENTS.”

More about the book:WebsiteHeader-nobook3.jpg

parenting styles

“I love my child, but parenting is hard.”

Whether you find parenting intuitive or impossible, we could all use a hand here and there. Let child psychologist and father Todd Cartmell walk you through the nuts and bolts of healthy, effective parenting.

Using examples from his home and 20 years of professional practice, Todd gives eight essential and practical tools to help you:

  • Maintain a healthy relationship with your child
  • Develop a nurturing home culture
  • Correct behavior in lasting ways

Designed for busy parents, 8 Simple Tools breaks each tool into five short chapters that include a summary tip and application questions. Use even half of the tools in your parenting, and your family dynamics will thrive. Your relationship with your child will be built on love and trust, providing you with fertile ground for planting God’s wisdom in their heart, and ultimately, seeing them flourish.


Official Website: – Be sure to check out the brief, really fun FREE parenting assessments.

Dr. Todd Cartmell’s FB:

From the author: Dr. Todd Cartmell
Hello.  I’m Dr. Todd!
I earned my doctorate in clinical psychology from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA. We then moved to Columbus, OH, where I
completed a postdoctoral fellowship with Wright State University at the Children’s Hospital. Since then, I have done my clinical work at Summit Clinical Services in Wheaton, IL, where I continue to see children, teens, and families on a full-time basis.

I have written five parenting books (faith based), which you can learn more about on the Books page. I have presented many parenting workshops at moms’ conferences (Hearts at Home, MOPS International), MOPS groups, churches, and schools, which you can read about on the Workshop page. I have also recently developed a skill-building game for kids called The Flexible Thinking Game.

In my free time, I enjoy doing anything with my wife, spending time with my boys whenever possible, reading, running, and playing jazz piano any chance I get. My Christian faith is an important part of my life and thinking, and I am continually thankful for God’s grace, of which I am an undeserving recipient.

darkness to light
Mommy Memoir Mondays

Mommy Memoir Mondays: The Most Dangerous Prayer…and the Most Glorious Hope

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I’ve been praying for my children since before they were born – certainly that they would be healthy and I would be the best mommy for them I possibly could be. But also that they would know God and would grow to love Him.

Lately, I’ve begun adding this to the prayer—“Lord, please help them grow closer to You than I ever have or ever could.” And God’s been showing me just how dangerous this prayer is. It’s certainly right and noble…but completely dangerous—to their little selves.

The older I get (and the closer I get to God through prayer and Bible study), the more I realize just how terrible it is to be stuck here on Earth. The effects of sin are evident all around us all the time, and I’m starting to notice them more. In fact, I’m starting to notice sin more, in general—my sins, as well as other people’s sins, and…well, it’s just not very much fun.

We’re called to walk in the light, but something happens when we walk in the light. The darkness is exposed, and we see it for what it is. We’re no longer blinded by ignorance. And the result is not pretty. The more I see the truth, the more I realize how ugly and despicable just about everything is in the eyes of God…even myself. And that hurts.darkness to light
So, this is what I’m praying for when I pray that my little girls will grow closer to God than I ever will. I’m praying for them to see the ugly truth of who they are in comparison to who God is. I’m praying for them to have to hurt physically, mentally, and emotionally by dying to themselves every day—every minute and every hour of every day for their whole entire lives. I’m praying that they will suffer for being the sinful creatures they are. And, as a mother who loves her children dearly, it hurts me to know the truth of what I’m praying for them.

Yet I know the hope of that most dangerous prayer, as well. The hope is that the grace and the love of God will draw them close to Him. Yes, they’ll know their sin and the horribleness of it, but they’ll know the wonders of His love and grace too. They’ll understand just how much they need His mercy and forgiveness, and He’ll give it to them without reserve. Because that’s just who He is.

In the grand scheme of things, we are so very small, and yet God loves us so very much. That’s what I came to realize the other day. Actually, it’s what God told me the other day as I prayed during my quiet time, reveling in the wonder of His creation and realizing what a very small part I play in His vast universe. But the next morning He brought a couple of lines of a song I used to sing when I was a child into my head: “How small, how small but important am I. To the God of the Universe, important am I.” It was a message I needed to hear that day…and it’s something I pray my girls will understand as they grow up in Him. They were important enough to Him that He sent His Son into the world to suffer and die for them, so they could be reconciled to God.

We experience pain here on this Earth because of sin’s destructiveness and God’s disciplinary work within us to make us who we were meant to be, but as Paul told the Corinthians, our present troubles are light and momentary and “are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:17, NIV) That, ultimately, is what I’m looking toward when I pray that most dangerous prayer for my girls—their eternal glory, the greater good.

Mommy Memoir Mondays

Mommy Memoir Mondays: A LOVE LETTER FROM GOD (Book Review and Giveaway)

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One of the things I love best about being a mommy is the fact that I get to share things with my children – important things…like books and God…and books about God! Those are my favorite.

So, when the opportunity came to review this new children’s book from Ideals Publications (a Guideposts company), you better believe I jumped at it. The title alone was enough to draw me in. What could be better than A LOVE LETTER FROM GOD?

love letter from God

I opened this book up and eagerly started reading – before I even showed it to my two little girls. And, the very first page had me questioning the biblical truths contained inside it.

Oh, the first line, “I love you, My child! What more can I say?,” was true enough…but the second line (“To Me you are perfect in every way”) gave me pause. Perfect? Really? Um, not so much. That was why He sent His Son to die on the cross for us because we are all tainted by Original Sin from the very beginning.

I mean, yes God loves us as we are, but (as my pastor is fond of saying – see, I don’t disagree with everything he says!) He loves us too much to let us stay that way. That’s the Gospel. And the use of the word “perfect” here just waters that down, in my view.

But, thankfully, the rest of the book is solid. So, I read it to my little girls (adding in a small caveat at the end of that first page), and they enjoyed every minute of it. In fact, the five-year-old asked me to read it again and again…and that’s always a good indicator of a winning children’s book, in my estimation.

amanda loves God

Then, after we’d read this book a couple of times, the five-year-old was inspired to compose her own love letter back to God, which I thankfully had the foresight to record. I took the audio, added some pictures, and made this little YouTube video of Amanda’s love letter to God.

Somewhat questionable doctrine behind that one line notwithstanding, this is a delightful, charming children’s book that introduces them to God’s love in an accessible way. …And it might even work to inspire a love response in their hearts, as was the case with my five-year-old. Moments like that are priceless, and for that reason alone I think this book is a treasure.

So, I’m happy to announce that the good people of FlyBy Promotions have not only sent me a review copy of this book, but they’ve given me the opportunity to give away a copy of this book to one of YOU. All you have to do is leave a comment on this blog post by 11:59 PM WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 7th, 2015, and you’ll be entered to win.

About the book:
Author P.K. Hallinan
Illustrator: Laura Watson
In this story, the author supposes what God might say in a personal letter written to a child. The unconditional and unlimited nature of God’s love is revealed through simple and lyrical language. Rich and textured illustrations, along with heart-shaped die-cuts, will make this uplifting book a family favorite. It is a great message for little ones on Valentine’s Day, or for everyday inspiration. Love Letter from God will remind children of God’s eternal love and how He demonstrates that love through everyday miracles and by the wonder of His presence. Thanks to the colorful and touching illustrations of Laura Watson, children will also learn how to appreciate their own individuality and how to use their unique gifts to be a blessing to others.
About the author: 

P. K. Hallinan has been creating books for children since his wife first asked him to write for their two boys more than 30 years ago. Today Hallinan writes uplifting stories about holidays, relationships, and life values. “When I started this project, I felt that God told me to ‘Just let children know how much I love them.’ So I asked Him to speak the words Himself, through my heart, and I would put them to paper. And I believe He did this. This book’s message reinforces the presence of God in a child’s life by showing how God manifests Himself at every moment of every day,” said Hallinan.

Click here to view the official website!

And be sure to check out this special offer!

For the month of January, every book from with the word “Love” in the title will be 20% off! Be sure to Search “LOVE2015”  for a complete list of books.

Promotional Code to apply at check out is LOVE2015

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Mommy Memoir Mondays

Mommy Memoir Mondays: I Want to Look Like You

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A couple of weeks ago, our church had a big kick-off for their upcoming Vacation Bible School. My husband and I took our two girls, and they had a blast!

One of the activities was a face-painting booth. The girl in charge of the booth asked my five-year-old if she wanted to get her face painted, and my little girl shook her head vehemently. She wanted no part of that. The three-year-old was game, though.

“What picture do you want painted on your face?” the girl asked.

Without missing a beat, my little three-year-old said, “Mommy.”

“Aw, how sweet! I’m sorry. I can’t draw your mommy, but how about a star?”

So we settled for the star.

Then, the face-painting girl looked at me and said, “That’s really a wonderful tribute to you.”

And the more I think about it, the more I absolutely agree. My little girl wants to look like me more than anything else. 🙂

But that also reminded me of how we are supposed to want to look like our Heavenly Father more than anything else. We’re created in His image, but we’ve gotten so far away from our original design because of sin that it’s hard for us to even imagine that it’s possible for us to look like Him. Except it is…

He’s made it possible by giving us His Son, Yeshua.

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers,” Paul tells us in Romans 8:29 (NIV). 

We, as Christians, should want to look like Yeshua…but even more than that, the Holy Spirit is working inside us to make sure that we do grow to look like Yeshua. What does this look like? Paul gives us a glimpse in his letter to the Galatians. The “fruit” (work) of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (5:22-23).

Ultimately, though, Yeshua showed total obedience to the Father – total surrender. And He laid down His life for all of us. That’s what it means to look like Yeshua in the very purest form of imitation: surrender and sacrifice. Neither one of these are easy things to do, but they’re absolutely crucial if we’re going to be who God wants us to be.

Most likely, my daughter won’t have to surrender or sacrifice to look like me. I think she’ll grow to look more and more like me as she gets older because she looks quite a bit like me now, as does her older sister. My main job now is to lead them to want to look like Yeshua more than they want anything else, and I pray every day for that to happen.    

Book Reviews, Mommy Memoir Mondays

Mommy Memoir Mondays: Book Review: The Berenstain Bears – God Shows the Way

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Today I’m going introduce a book I just recently became acquainted with, and I had the pleasure of sharing it with my children – The Berenstain Bears: God Shows the Way (3 Books in 1).

This is an I Can Read! Level 1 (Beginning Reading) book for children. The stories in this book all feature the beloved Berenstain Bears family and one other bear named Fred. My daughter asked who he was, and I couldn’t remember him from my own days of reading Berenstain Bears books. Friend? Cousin? I don’t know. I just told her he was a friend. In these stories, the little bears (and the little children reading them, as well) learn all about how having faith in God will get you through any difficult situation, how you don’t need to fear because God is always with you, and how you can be a good steward of the money God has blessed you with…and how you can even use it to bless others.

berenstain bears.cover

I have one beginning reader (she’s just started recognizing some words and phrases on her own) and one preschooler who is not yet ready to read by herself. So, when the opportunity to review this book came along, I had a feeling it might have been too advanced for them, but the title mentioned God, and it was a Berenstain Bears book, so I decided to give it a try, anyway. I was not disappointed!

The illustrations were typical Berenstain drawings – engaging and of very high quality. The stories were well structured and entertaining and they all had a good message; however, at times I felt that the biblical message was a bit contrived. I mean, the almost constant quoting of the Bible (the Good Book, as Mama Bear calls it – I had to explain that to my five-year-old) seemed to be just a bit unnatural and sometimes slightly out of context. I loved the fact that the verses were included, I just wish that they had been fit into the stories a bit better.

Still, my five-year-old loved this book. She made me read the whole thing to her twice in one sitting, and anytime a book gets more than one read in a session at our house, it’s a sure winner. The three-year-old was less interested, but that’s to be expected – both because of the level of the book and because she’s never been as interested in books as her sister is. She did, however, come around during the second reading and sit and listen for a bit. I took that as a good sign!

I have no problem recommending this book to anyone who has small children. It’s a great family read!

Mommy Memoir Mondays

Mommy Memoir Mondays: Let Go

Untitled design (1) One of the hardest things about being a mommy – or probably, a parent, but since I’m a mommy I’m focusing on that – is learning to let go. Certainly, that term means different things at different stages, but I’m just now getting to the point (since my oldest is five) where this is actually becoming an issue. Before, she was pretty dependent on me for everything, and that was okay. That was how it should be.

Then she started preschool and decided that she didn’t need Mommy to help her with much of anything anymore. Sometimes she’s not quite right, but sometimes she is. And I’m still trying to find the balance between the two.

Last weekend, we went to a birthday/swim party for one of her preschool friends. They had a “big” four-foot-deep pool. It was deeper water than she’d ever been in before, but all the other kids had moved over to the big pool, so she wanted to give it a try (with floaties on her arms and an inflatable ring around her waist to hold her up). But she wanted me holding her while she went into the pool. So, I held her and lowered her into the water, and she screamed in terror and begged to be pulled back up, and I pulled her back up to safety. Then, she asked to be put back down into the water, so I lowered her down into the pool again, and again she screamed in terror, so I pulled her back up. The third time, though, I lowered her into the water, and she said, “Let go, Mommy.” And I did.

She had a blast! She swam from one side of the pool to the other and back again, and she giggled the whole time. And it did this mommy’s heart good to see her overcome her fear and discover something new that she enjoyed doing.

Fast forward a week: We were at the playground at the zoo, and they had this thing there (I don’t even know what it’s called) with poles and wobbly steps that you can walk across like a bridge. Again, my little girl saw other kids enjoying this, so she wanted to try it too. I helped her across for the first several times she did it – even holding the poles closer together to move the steps, so she wouldn’t have as far to step – but when it was time to go, she begged to do it one more time. Then, she said those dreaded (for me, anyway) words, “Let go, Mommy.” So, I did, and she went across that thing all by herself (I didn’t even have to hold the steps closer together).

The look of pride and accomplishment was more than worth any little bit of disappoint I felt that my little girl is, in fact, growing up…and she’s becoming more and more independent. This, I understand, is the goal of parenting – to raise these kids so that they can go out and live productive lives on their own – but it doesn’t make it any easier for the parents, who keep remembering and picturing little helpless infants in cribs. Am I right?

And it struck me: How very different is our parenting goal from our Heavenly Father’s parenting goal. Our goal is to teach our children to be independent of us; His is to teach us to be dependent on Him. Praise God, He never lets go (see Joshua 1:5, among many others). And we need to teach our children to depend on God, as much as we need to remind ourselves daily to depend on Him, as well. This is just one of the truths about God I’ve been blessed to learn through my parenting of my own children. I’m sure there will be many more to come!

God's parenting goal

Mommy Memoir Mondays

Mommy Memoir Mondays

A good friend of mine said something a while back about coincidence: “I don’t happen to believe in coincidence. At all. I believe in purpose.”

Honestly? I don’t believe in coincidence either. I believe in Providence… and, yes, purpose too.

So, I don’t think it was a coincidence that I was at my local Christian writer’s meeting, and we were discussing blogs. My comment was, “I have a blog. I just don’t do much with it. I’m not consistent enough in posting…” And the lady giving the presentation turned to me and said, “You are consistent with it. You just do it in the wrong place. You blog on Facebook instead of your actual blog. All that stuff you post about your children… could be blog posts. People would love to read that. Look how many comments and likes you get on those.”

Then someone else cautioned that you don’t want to overdo the personal, kid-centered posts, so I thought, What if I just dedicated Mondays to Mommy-related posts. That wouldn’t be overkill, would it? I’ll try it out and see. You all tell me if it is too much, okay, readers?

The next day, I devised a new blog plan (and blog images to match):

Monday – Mommy Memoir Mondays

Tuesday – Tuesdays with Yeshua (Jesus) – I thought it would be best to stick with Jesus, for obvious reasons.

Wednesday – Wedding Planner Wednesdays – Who doesn’t love weddings? Or free advice/planning ideas?

Thursday – Thriller Thursdays – I’m not the only one who likes to be scared, right?

Friday – Free-for-All Fridays – I’m still going to devote Fridays to promoting my own writings and the writings of others… And I may just use this as a rambling day to express this, that, and the other thing.

Saturday – Saga Saturdays – Anything and everything related to history/historical fiction, especially individuals and family histories. We all have stories to tell, and we are all part of the same big family.

Sunday – Sweet Romance Sundays –  Sundays (to me) are all about expressing my love for God through corporate worship. What better thing to talk about on this day besides romance – but I want to keep it clean and God-honoring.


A couple days later, I opened up WordPress and decided to write my first Mommy Memoir post, but I clicked on the “Need some inspiration?” button just because. This is the question it gave me:

What was the one experience that completely changed your life? What happened? How did it change your life?


Obviously, motherhood changed my life forever. There have been other things too – many more than one…receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit being the main one… But becoming a mommy changed my life in ways I never would have expected. So that was obviously the first thing that came into my mind.

Without further ado, then, I will introduce you to the very first Mommy Memoir Monday post:


The five-year-old asked me recently, “When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?”

Without a moment’s hesitation, I said, “You know what I wanted to be more than anything?”

A: “A mommy?”

Me: “That’s right.”

A: “You wanted to be a mommy for me and Julie?”

Me: “Absolutely!”

With all the dreams and plans and ideas that I had (and still have), there was one desire that surpassed all else – to be a wife and mommy.

I’m so grateful for a God who knows the desires of my heart and so graciously gives them to me… and I will forever be grateful for the gifts of these two precious girls – and my amazing husband, who tirelessly takes this parenting journey with me.

Children are a gift from the Lord;
they are a reward from him.

Psalm 127:3 (NLT)