Friday, May 9, 2008

We're moving!

Change your bookmarks!
Deep Breathing for the Soul has a new home. Click here to get there.
As many of you know, I've had my website completely overhauled. New colors, new technology. And that means my blog will now be a part of the website. Please come visit. I'm giving away free books to two lucky visitors who post a comment before May 17, so hurry over and check it out!

Monday, May 5, 2008

And the winner of a free book is...

Okay, the winner of our book giveaway is Karin, who posted the following comment:
Hi Keri & Allison,

Love the BBR blog - it makes me think. Keri - love the look of the new web site!
My daughter is 16 (son is 14) but it is the daughter that has me most concerned. I feel like she expects more and more, whatever we are doing isn't good enough. An example is for her 16th birthday earlier this year we told her that we were going to get her an iPhone. Then apple came out with the 16g and she told us not to get the 8g because if we couldn't get the 16g, don't bother. I feel like we are being held hostage and that she is expecting more and more. Really struggling with this right now. Will this book help me?

Karin, Congratulations, you're our winner! if you will get in touch with me (go to and click on the "contact Keri" form) and send me your addresss, I will send you the book.
But I'd also like to respond to your comment.
I'm not surprised you feel like you are being held hostage. But you are choosing to do so. I'd recommend you explain to your daughter that gifts are just that, gifts. It's easy to understand why she thinks this way--our whole culture does, because you can now register not just for weddings but for kids birthdays, graduations etc. But a gift is something the giver chooses, not something the recipient orders. You need to tell your daughter this--a gift is not something you get to order. If she gives you grief, I would take her up on her offer--and don't buy her either. I think it would be a huge mistake to buy her the 16 g. Think about what that would teach her--that if you are bossy and demanding enough, you get your way. Not a good life lesson. buy her something else, and let her save her money to buy her own iPhone. And yes, I think this book will help you--but you will have to think about what you can do to set good boundaries now.
A good rule of thumb is, any time a child demands that you buy them something, don't do it.
REaders, any thoughts for Karin?

And the winner of a free book is...

Okay, the winner of our book giveaway is Karin, who posted the following comment:
Hi Keri & Allison,

Love the BBR blog - it makes me think. Keri - love the look of the new web site!
My daughter is 16 (son is 14) but it is the daughter that has me most concerned. I feel like she expects more and more, whatever we are doing isn't good enough. An example is for her 16th birthday earlier this year we told her that we were going to get her an iPhone. Then apple came out with the 16g and she told us not to get the 8g because if we couldn't get the 16g, don't bother. I feel like we are being held hostage and that she is expecting more and more. Really struggling with this right now. Will this book help me?

Karin, Congratulations, you're our winner! if you will get in touch with me (go to and click on the "contact Keri" form) and send me your addresss, I will send you the book.
But I'd also like to respond to your comment.
I'm not surprised you feel like you are being held hostage. But you are choosing to do so. I'd recommend you explain to your daughter that gifts are just that, gifts. It's easy to understand why she thinks this way--our whole culture does, because you can now register not just for weddings but for kids birthdays, graduations etc. But a gift is something the giver chooses, not something the recipient orders. You need to tell your daughter this--a gift is not something you get to order. If she gives you grief, I would take her up on her offer--and don't buy her either. I think it would be a huge mistake to buy her the 16 g. Think about what that would teach her--that if you are bossy and demanding enough, you get your way. Not a good life lesson. buy her something else, and let her save her money to buy her own iPhone. And yes, I think this book will help you--but you will have to think about what you can do to set good boundaries now.
A good rule of thumb is, any time a child demands that you buy them something, don't do it.
REaders, any thoughts for Karin?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Book spotlight

Okay, it's time for another in our totally random series of author interviews, which means you could win a FREE BOOK!

Today, we welcome author Allison Bottke, whose newest book, Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children, is really getting a lot of attention these days! Some of you recognize Allison as the founder of the Boomer Babes Rock website and blog, where I am privileged to be a part of her blog team. My kids are not yet adults, but I found this book very helpful--it reminded me that setting boundaries is a life-long process, and I need to be helping my kids to become self-sufficient and responsible at every age.

Allison's story is a compelling one. Read the interview, and if you post a comment or question, you'll be entered in our drawing to win a free copy of the book.

KWK: Welcome to Deep Breathing for the Soul, Allison!

ALLISON: Thanks, it's great to be here.

KWK: This was a powerful book. What made it even more compelling was the fact that it comes out of your own personal experience with your son. Please tell us about that.

ALLISON: For years I really thought I was helping my son. I wanted him to have the things I never had growing up. I love my son, and I didn’t want him to hurt—but sometimes pain is a natural result of the choices we make. For a long time I didn’t understand the part I was playing in the ongoing drama that had become my son’s life—I didn’t understand that I didn’t have to live in constant chaos and crisis because of his choices. When I chose to stop the insanity and start living a life of hope and healing my life changed. It’s a feeling I want other struggling parents and grandparents to experience. I want other parents to know that change is possible when we choose to stop the destructive cycle of enabling. And we can stop it. I know, because I’ve done it.

KWK: How can we determine whether we are helping versus enabling our children?

ALLISON: Helping is doing something for someone that he is not capable of doing himself.

Enabling is doing for someone things that he could and should be doing himself.

An enabler is a person who recognizes that a negative circumstance is occurring on a regular basis and yet continues to enable the person with the problem to persist with his detrimental behaviors. Simply, enabling creates an atmosphere in which our adult children can comfortably continue their unacceptable behavior.

KWK: What are some of the most common ways that parents enable their children?

ALLISON: Being the Bank of Mom and Dad, or the Bank of Grandma and Grandpa. Loaning money that is never repaid, buying things they can’t afford and don’t really need. Continually coming to their rescue so they don’t feel the pain—the consequences—of their actions and choices. Accepting excuses that we know are excuses—and in some instances are downright lies. Blaming ourselves for their problems. We have given too much and expected too little.

KWK: So, what can parents do to break the cycle of enabling?

ALLISON: Follow the six steps to S.A.N.I.T.Y.: Stop blaming yourself and stop the flow of money. Stop continually rescuing your adult children from one mess after another. Assemble a support group of other parents in the same situation. Nip excuses in the bud. Implement rules and boundaries. Trust your instincts. Yield everything to God, because you’re not in control. These six things can start a parent on the road to S.A.N.I.T.Y. in an insane situation that is spinning out of control. However, a key issue in breaking the cycle of enabling is to understand whose problem it really is.

KWK: You've not only walked this road, you're still walking it, and you have a passion to help others along the pathway. Am I correct? And what one thing would you like to say today to those along the path?

ALLISON: I do have a heart for parents and grandparents who are in pain—who are struggling with out-of-control adult children. I know in the depths of my heart and soul what this devastation feels like. The main thing I ask parents and grandparents to cling to is this: Do not underestimate the power of God to restore your heart, your adult child and your relationship.

KWK: You say that enabling our children is “a nationwide epidemic with catastrophic consequences.” What has led you to believe this?

ALLISON: There is clearly an epidemic of major proportion plaguing our nation today. This has become obvious to me as I travel the country sharing my God Allows U-Turns testimony and outreach. Seldom does a week go by when I am not approached by someone in deep pain concerning their adult child. It’s not just audience members in conflict with this troubling issue, but fellow authors, speakers and entertainers, some quite well known, who are living in the throes of familial discord concerning out-of-control adult children. It’s happening all over the country to people from all walks of life.

KWK: Where can my readers go for more information on your book and on the S.A.N.I.T.Y. ministry?

ALLISON: Everything you could possibly need is contained on our web site at:

ALLISON: I encourage your readers to tell me what they think about Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children. I really do want to hear reader feedback. They can reach me at: Please be sure to visit our web site at where they will find additional resources for helping them on their road to S.A.N.I.T.Y. Remember to tell a friend in need and help save a life!

Okay, readers, now it's your turn. What questions or comments do you have for Allison, or about the book? Remember, each time you post a comment, you are entered to win a free copy of this book. If you know a mom of an adult child who is really struggling, this book might be a meaningful Mother's Day gift!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Day 5

As some of you know (if your read all of the post below) my family and I have engaged in the "five day challenge" along with thousands of others at Willow Creek. Today is day five of eating oatmeal for breakfast, a small serving of rice and beans with a tortilla for lunch, and dinners consisting of rice, beans, a bit of chicken or fish, and a small amount of vegetables. We had occasional snacks of fresh fruit.
We did this to connect, in a very tangible way, with the plight of the poor. Over half the world's population eats this way, probably in smaller portions than I did. and the looming shortages of rice and flour in the headlines today make the situation even more desperate for many more people. We're also taking the money we saved on groceries and donating it to help the hungry.
My entire family joined in this challenge, although I supplemented my kids' meals with milk and a bit larger portions than the recommended one cup. they continued their normal activities, which for my daughter included soccer and track. (she got a few extra tortillas!)
What would it be like to be a mom who could not just give your child an extra tortilla? Who could not offer a break from the monotony of rice and beans with a bit of fruit? My 12-year-old son was hungry last night, I gave him an orange. "I think oranges are the best fruit," he said as he devoured it.
this week has touched us. It has changed the way we pray, the way we view the poor. We will never say the word "hunger" again without remembering this week. We will never be the same again.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Food for the hungry

As I mentioned last week, from now until Mother’s Day, both at home and church, we are focusing on the issue of world hunger.

Hunger is making headlines these days, as food and fuel prices soar. While it seems like a huge, insurmountable problem, there’s actually a lot we can do. And even small things can make a difference.
As a family, we began by signing up for a two-hour shift with Feed My Starving Children, an amazing organization that provides nutritious food to the poorest of the poor.
Thousands of folks from our church and the surrounding community have signed up to do what my family did on Saturday. Feed My Starving Children sets everything up in stations where volunteers can assemble meals that are going to be shipped, in this case, to Zimbabwe. We filled plastic bags (about quart size) with rice, soy protein, dried veggies and a chicken-flavored powder that contained vitamins and minerals.

After the bags were sealed, we packed them into boxes. That quart-sized bag actually contains enough for six meals. And the FMSC partners (independent faith-based and missions organizations) provide one meal a day. So it’s a very small amount of food. But it can mean the difference between life and death for a child who had been eating only a few times a week.
Click here to see a great video about this amazing organization.

On Sunday, we went to church and heard an excellent, challenging message from one of our pastors, Nancy Beach, on what we can do to fight world hunger. It prompted a lot of interesting discussion.
And starting today, we are joining with others to engage in what our church is calling the Five-Day Solidarity Challenge. This is, in essence, a modified fast. As an act of solidarity, to increase our awareness and compassion, we will eat as the majority of the world does, for five days. This also provides an opportunity to redirect the resources we’d normally spend on groceries to a fund for helping feed the hungry. And to pray for those who are hungry.
We had oatmeal (minus the usual sugar and other toppings) this morning. The kids packed rice and tortillas for lunch. We’ll have rice and beans, or rice with a bit of veggies and chicken, for our dinners.
What’s amazed me is how my 14-year-old is embracing this. She and her friends are challenging and encouraging each other to do it. My kids attend public school. They’ll have an opportunity to talk about this issue with friends when they pull out their tortillas and rice today at lunch.
Admittedly, since I want my kids to stay healthy, I am “cheating” on this by giving my kids multi-vitamins and milk to go with their meals. But I’m also having a lot of conversations with them about why we are doing this.
The five day challenge is really an opportunity for us, as a body of believers, to engage the spiritual discipline of fasting. Fasting is to abstain from something for a spiritual purpose. While we will eat some food, it will be substantially less than we normally eat.
The goal of this challenge is not to “grind it out” or simply endure hunger. It is not to “win” the challenge, as if we were competitors on Survivor. Rather, the goal is to be spiritually transformed. A secondary, and quite practical goal, is to reduce the amount we spend on food, and to redirect those resources to the poor.

The Bible is very clear that fasting is always linked with prayer. Specifically, that prayer is one of repentance, or prayers seeking God’s miraculous help, prayers that are especially heartfelt or intense. And so I am encouraging my family to pray. When they feel hunger pangs, use that as a reminder to pray. When they get bored with rice, remember and pray for kids who may eat very little besides a bit of rice, not just for a week but for a lifetime.
For us, a greater challenge than just eating rice and beans, perhaps, is to be open to letting God speak to us about our own complacency, and to repent of that. So as I pray for my church and myself, I’m hoping that God will move in the hearts of people in our church and our community.
The Bible tells us that if we just fast to impress God or others, but it doesn’t change our heart, God is not interested. He says to his people: “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and provide the poor wanderer with shelter…” (Isaiah 58:6,7).
If you’re participating in this challenge (and you don’t have to be a Willow member to do it), you may want to reflect on Scripture, and listen to God by reading the whole of Isaiah 58 during each of the five days. Let his word speak to you and touch your heart.
My prayer is that this will be a spiritually transforming experience for me, and for my family. I’d love for you to join us, even for one day of the challenge, and post your thoughts.

Monday, April 14, 2008

It keeps you running...

One of my favorite memories of my junior high and high school years is not of a single event, but of a practice, a regular routine--of jogging with my dad.
We'd get up early, before I went to school and he went to work. We'd trot about three miles or so, rain or shine. Or snow.
So when my 14-year-old announced she wanted to run track this year, it got me thinking about that bonding time with my dad. And how, perhaps, I could do the same with my daughter. So I started getting on the treadmill at the health club this winter. I'm up to more than two miles, at a pretty slow pace, admittedly, but I can keep going for 20 to 30 minutes.
So I asked my daughter if we could try running together. I told her we had to go slow (she recently ran the mile at a meet in about six and a half minutes), so we could increase our endurance. Well, so I could increase my endurance. She plays soccer and now runs track, and is in great shape. Me? Well, I'm trying.

It was windy and about 35 degrees yesterday afternoon, but we ran more than a mile. And we decided we will do this not just to get in shape (since she already is in shape!) but for a purpose.
This month, in church and in our home, we are focusing on, and praying about, world hunger. So it's fitting that Mel and I are training for an upcoming 5K "Run for Hungry Children" sponsored by Bright Hope International.

The run is May 17. If you'd like to sponsor us, or even better, join us, leave a comment about that.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Fighting modern slavery

I recently had the cool opportunity to interview a woman who has escaped modern day slavery, and write her story for the pages of Today's Christian Woman magazine. Sexual trafficking is a huge problem, not just overseas but here in the states.
My article, which tells the amazing story of Ruth Ada Kamara, a woman trafficked into prostitution against her will, is currently on the Christianity Today website. The very cool part of Ruth's story is that she is now speaking out to educate others, to fight this terrible problem.
click here to read the full story on-line.
I've heard from several readers who were moved by Ruth's story, and want to do something to help. Read the story, tell me what you think. And let's talk about ways that we could all help.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Suburban soul??

I just finished reading a great book, Death by Suburb by Dave Goetz. An intriguing title, the subtitle grabs me even more: "How to Keep the Suburbs from Killing Your Soul."
This is a great book--Goetz, who lives in Wheaton, where I used to live and went to school, describes suburban life to a tee. He trains a keen eye on both the struggle and irony of the competitive, consumeristic, pressured, hurried life that is not only the typical suburbanite's life, but his own life. (He admits to being a sometimes over-enthusiastic soccer dad, and to owning both the quintessential suburban vehicle, an SUV, and the quintessential suburban dog, a Golden Retriever).
He recommends spiritual practices to counter-act the "environmental toxins" of suburban life; practices that range from the traditional solitude and self-examination to ones that address specific suburban problems. For example, he writes, to counter the toxin of "My church is the problem," a common malady of the suburban consumer mindset, he recommends the practice of "Staying put in your church."
This particular chapter came at an opportune time for me. I am not a church hopper. I've been a part of the same local church for 21 years. the fact that it happens to be one of the largest churches in America doesn't really matter to me--it's home. But this week, I was wrestling with whether it is where I really belong. I had spoken up about some problems I saw in our church, and I probably did not use as much diplomacy in expressing my concerns as I should have. (okay, that's an understatement. I was pretty harsh, and spent the night vacillating between guilt and anger at being misunderstood)
That night, as I wondered if I really should stay at my church of 21 years, I read Goetz's words, which were, at that moment, God's message to my heart:
"At its best, the local church functions as an arena in which conflict and hurts among participants who choose to stay can open up possibilities for spiritual progress. Where else will people still accept me after I stand up in a church meeting and harshly criticize something? 'ah, that's just Dave,' they say. They know me. I learn about the Christian virtutes of acceptance and graciousness even when I am not accepting and gracious."
This author's story was my story. I was the one who had stood up and criticized, rather harshly. And yet, as one of my friends at church told me a few days later, "your circle is not broken."
When we practice perserverance, and stay connected at one church long term, we get to experience grace in a way that we wouldn't otherwise. We get the chance to mess up, and not hide. And thus, experience grace and forgiveness.
I love when my life and books collide, when God speaks to me through someone I don't even know.

Monday, March 24, 2008

He is risen indeed!

Hope everyone had a glorious Easter. We had a wonderful and meaningful Holy Week.

I'm reading a manuscript for a book on the church calendar, (it's not yet been released). Reading this lovely book by Kimberly Conway Ireton, I learned that Easter is not just a day, but a season in the liturgical year. It begins Easter Sunday and continues for fifty days (until Pentecost). Fifty days to remember and celebrate the resurrection, and the new life that it brings us.

What can you do over the next fifty days to celebrate and remember the Risen Lord?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Sabbath Stories

I hope that all of you will take the time to read the comments from the post asking for Sabbath stories. So many of you had inspiring stories to share.
Several people sent me their story via e-mail, and I wanted to share a few over the next few days. Here's some of what Christine from Michigan shared with me. If you think you can't do Sabbath with small children, you need to read her story:

Hi Keri - Ever since I read your book Breathe a year ago, we have been trying to practice the Sabbath.
We do not call it Sabbath, rather family day. We spend the day going to church and Sunday School in the morning, and the rest of the day is family activities. I love asking the kids, who are now 5 and 6 years old, "What do you want to do today?" That makes them feel so special.

Some days are restful, with walks in a nearby parks and reading, other days we may go to the movies. It is our day to spend as a family, without doing projects and running around. Some weekends are hard, and we are not perfect, and we may end up having to go to the grocery store. But, we don't give up and look for another day. It is getting easier for me as a mom to do.

At first it was very difficult, as I have the worker mom personality - when I sit down, I think of everything else I should be doing, the laundry, cleaning, packing lunches, email, etc. I just need to remember the fun as a family we are having, the renewal of keeping God in the center of our lives, and the memories we are building.

The busier we get as a family, the more important it is to remember to always keep God in the center of our lives.

In your Breathe book you wrote about not having your children in every activity. This made a major impact on me. We have turned down competitive gymnastics for our kids, as they are so young. By keeping your priorities as a family in line, (family meal time and discussions, daily reading of the Bible) it helps to free up family and spiritual growth time. Now that I have reduced some kid activities, I have begun to look at my life and look to where I can cut back church and school volunteer commitments.

My kids' favorite activity on this day is go to a nearby nature park. We take a long 2 mile walk through fields and over a bridge in the woods, with adventures all the way. Finding fish off the dock, throwing stones, taking pictures, and enjoying all that God has made. It really renews your spirit and gets you ready for the upcoming week. We generally pack snacks, and on the way back we take the path by a huge hill. We all climb to the top, see how far we can see, and have a race to the bottom.

Thank you for your inspiration for you have giving me the tools and ideas to change my life to a more relaxed walk with God and with my family.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Study guides

Thanks to all of you who commented or e-mailed me about your Sabbath practices. I especially appreciated hearing from readers who began to practice Sabbath keeping after reading my 2005 book, Breathe: Creating Space for God in a Hectic Life.
Many of you have asked about using Breathe for a group study. Groups across the country have enjoyed reading and discussing this book. To help you, I created a free downloadable study guide. The link is on the right side of this page, or you can click here to access it.
for those of you who are reading Oxygen together, I have a leader's guide for that on my website.
Thanks again to everyone who responded to my Sabbath stories question!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Tell me your Sabbath story!

Do you practice Sabbath? I am working on a book on Sabbath—we are in the editing stage. This book, Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity, will be out later this year. One thing this book needs is the perspective of a few more real people.
So, if you have opinions or experience on Sabbath, I’d love to hear from you, as soon as possible. Just comment below. Here’s what I’d like to know:
When you were growing up, were there certain activities that were prohibited or encouraged on Sundays? Which denomination or tradition were you a part of?
Maybe you grew up in a tradition where Sunday meant going to church twice (morning and evening) and a day of prohibitions in between (no playing, no work, no movies, no shopping). What was required, what was prohibited?
Do you take a Sabbath? What do you do or not do on that day? How is your Sabbath similar or different from the Sundays of your childhood?
Are your weekends busy, or relaxed? Perhaps you rest on either Saturday or Sunday and just have never applied the label “Sabbath” to those days.
Does your church support your desire to have a day of rest? How about your family?

I really would like to hear your stories, and I’m hoping I can include a few in the book. But if you want to share, do it right away. I need to hear from you in the next couple of days, if possible.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

And the winner is...

No, I'm not making predictions on the Oscars. I'm announcing that "stampedwithgrace" is the winner of our free book giveaway. You've won a copy of Trish Berg's wonderful book, Rattled!
So, stamped with grace, please contact me by clicking over to the contact form from my website (just click here) and give me an address where I can send the book.
And again, if you know of a first-time mom, this book would make a great mother's day gift.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Free book part 2

Okay, friends. The deadline for posting a comment about "Rattled" is midnight Thursday. I'll announce the winners on Friday.
Mother's Day is not far away, if you have friends who are expecting, this makes a great gift for a brand new mom!
Read the interview with Trish below, then post a comment or question, and we'll select a winner (or maybe two!) on Friday.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Get a free book!

Today you have a chance to win a free book! Read on to find out how.

I am excited to welcome Trish Berg, joining us today to talk about her new mom book, Rattled, Surviving Your Baby’s First Year without Losing Your Cool! Get to know Trish and learn about the book, then leave a comment to be entered into a drawing to receive one of two free copies of Rattled.
I've read this book, and it's very encouraging. It will give new parents practical tools for not only surviving but enjoying the first year of their baby's life. If you're a new mom, or know someone who is, you need this practical, wise book.

Trish is a national speaker for Hearts at Home, author of The Great American Supper Swap (which I reviewed on this blog last year) and Rattled. She has been published in Today’s Christian Woman, MOMSense,, P31 WOMAN, and numerous regional and national publications.

Trish earned her MBA before leaving the workforce for motherhood, then earned her Doctorate in Diaper Changing in Ohio where she and her husband, Mike, keep busy raising their four children on their family cattle farm.

Trish, welcome back to Deep Breathing for the Soul. Thanks for taking time to be with us today.

Thanks for having me.

So why is it so easy for moms to get rattled during their baby’s first year?

Motherhood is simply draining and exhausting. Hands down the toughest job I have ever had.

But moms are not alone, and I want moms to know that God walks with them through these exhausting years.

What stresses moms out the most?

I think moms put a lot of pressure on themselves to do it all by themselves, and to do it all the right way. They need to simplify, let go of many details, and ask for help, from their husbands, and from neighbors and friends.

Rattled actually begins by looking at the months of pregnancy. How can moms use this time to prepare to survive baby’s first year?

Nine months is not nearly enough time to fully prepare for motherhood. I am not sure there is enough time to fully prepare.

I remember when our first child, Hannah, was born, I felt that my world had been turned upside down. Hannah did not like to sleep, and so we spent many nights walking the floor, bouncing her up and down, trying desperately to settle her down. My husband, Mike, and I took turns walking laps around the house, like the Indy 500 with a lot more bouncing.

I am not sure I could have prepared for that.

But during your pregnancy, you can prepare in other ways. Like arranging for help. Ask your mom or mother-in-law if they can spend one day with you each week during the first few months. Just knowing someone is coming in the morning to help with the baby can make the being up all night not seem so terrible.

You talk about surviving motherhood. How do you help moms do that?

In Rattled, I talk about a mom’s survival kit. If you were thrown out into the wilderness, you would need FOOD, SHELTER, FIRE and WATER to survive.

Well, moms have been thrown out into the wilderness of motherhood, and to survive, they will need:

Water from the word (2 Samuel 22:3a) –To be in God’s Word.

A fire like desire for prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:17) – Moms can pray their way through their day.

Nourishment body, mind and spirit (1 Corinthians 13:13) – Love on all levels nourishes us.

Shelter from life’s storms (Proverbs 17:17)-Friends to lean on, trust, and support us.

In Rattled, I spend some time talking about how moms can use that survival kit to get back to the joy of mothering.

You spent a lot of time listening to what other mothers had to say. Share with us your best advice for new moms.

I would tell moms to relax. No one does it right all the time. Let the laundry pile up. Leave the dishes in the sink, and just enjoy holding your baby today.

Don’t worry about doing “it” right, just enjoy the moments you have.

That is sound advice...

But what aboud dads? Give us a few tips into what dad is going through during the first year.

Dads are just as insecure as moms are about parenthood. Even more so in many cases.

Moms do much of the baby feeding, diaper changing, and baby care. So dads can sometimes feel left out, and incapable of caring for their own baby.

One thing moms can do is encourage dad to be involved. But in doing so, moms must let go of “their way” of doing things, and let dad discover his own way.

For example. When Hannah was a baby, every time Mike would change her diaper, I would criticize the way he changed it. I tried to teach him how to put his fingers under the leg elastic and make sure it wasn’t bunched up, preventing a future leak.

But every time I criticized him, he stepped back and became less involved. And you know what? Even when I did the diapers the “right way” they still sometimes leaked.

So I had to learn to let Mike change her diaper his own way. I let him put her to bed his way, bathe her his way, and be the dad God wanted him to be.

That can be difficult for moms who can tend to be slight control freaks when it comes to baby care.

But let me just encourage you that the help you will get from dad if you can let go of those details will bless you in more ways than you can imagine!

In Rattled you’re very open about the loss of your own pregnancy in 2002. How has that loss changed your outlook on motherhood?

I in the 2nd trimester of my fourth pregnancy when I went in for a regular check up. I was not having any problems at all, and went in alone.

My OB/GYN performed an ultrasound just to check for twins, and suddenly my world turned upside down when he could not find a heart beat.

I was completely devastated. Mike and I had two weeks of further testing before we had assurance that our baby had died. And through it all, I prayed for a miracle, my miracle, that my baby would be alive again.

But in the end, God’s miracle was not that my baby survived. God’s miracle was the reassurance that He used me as a vessel to bring a tiny soul to Heaven.

A year later, I lost another child to miscarriage.

Today, I have a greater sense of love and appreciation for my four children here on earth whom I hug with my arms, and a closer tie to Heaven where my two babies are waiting for me, whom I can only hug with my heart for now.

Today you’re the mom of 4 happy and healthy children. What do you see as the greatest blessing about being a mom?

I would say learning patience, but my husband would laugh out loud at that…since I am probably one of the most impatient people there is.

So I guess I would have to say enjoying the journey. I live Psalm 118:24 every day of my life.

“This is the day that the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Life is messy. Things break. Kids get sick. But moms need to remember to enjoy the journey no matter where the journey leads.

Today at the Berg house, our washing machine is broken. Our mini van needs new tires. We are hanging onto Mike’s 1986 Jeep on a wing and a prayer, hoping it makes it another year or so.

There is mud on my kitchen floor, crumbs on my carpet, and I can honestly say that I love my life. Just as it is.

Now, I certainly have moments where I get stressed and discouraged, and can even lose my temper (just ask my kids), but I am also learning to enjoy each moment of every day as a gift from God.

And thorough it all, my simple hope and prayer is that I can be the mom that God wants me to be.

Where can readers learn more about you,
Rattled, your other books, and your ministry to moms?

My website at offers tons of FREE resources, links and downloads for moms, as well as mor information on my books and ministry.

Moms can also purchase their own copy of
Rattled by clicking here.

And I will be speaking at all 3 Hearts at Home Conferences in 2008, I would LOVE for you to join me there. The National conference is in March in Illinois, and in the fall there is a conference in Michigan and Minnesota. You can get more information and register at

Thanks, Trish, for joining us today. What a joy to meet you and learn more about your new mom book

Thanks for having me. Blessings to you.

Okay, leave a comment and tell us if you'd like to be entered in the drawing for a free book. You can catch up with Trish all week long on her BLAST OUT BLOG TOUR by going to the following sites. There will be FREE book prizes, and great moms to connect with at each blog.





Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Snowed in!

Yet another snow day!

It was a good day to stay home, and enjoy the beauty of a foot of snow falling in less than 12 hours. I love being a working mom, but more than that, I love working from home so that I can make it to work by carrying my coffee cup up the stairs!

Here's a few photos to enjoy. My dog in the snow, my kids in the snow, our house buried in snow, well... you get the idea.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Reader mail: advice for writers

Julie wrote in to ask: "I'm wondering ... how did you start your writing career? Did you always love to write? What would be the first step towards freelance writing and can you recommend any distance learning or writing courses or books that I could start with if I were to pursue writing?"

I started writing in grade school and loved it. Even as a kid I loved reading--and I would say that is a pre-requisite for being a writer--to love to read. Often, the things we love point us toward our calling in life.
I majored in English and worked on the student newspaper in college, got a job as a newspaper reporter right out of college, did that for 10 years or so, and for the last 14 years, have been freelance writing. Having ten years of experience as a professional writer and thousands of clips made it easier to convince my first publisher that I was not a complete rookie.
But writing is not an easy job. A lot of people think you can just do it a little on the side--but being a freelancer means you are running a business. You not only write, you have to market your work, sell yourself and your articles, manage the financial and schedule aspects, etc. You can do it part-time, but the income will reflect that. In fact, even if you do it full time, the income tends to seem more like part-time income.
But if you love writing, it's worth looking into. Question: do you write now? Just for yourself, or whatever? If not, I'd start. A lot of people like the idea of being a writer, but to be one, you need to write--which a lot of people don't have the discipline to do.

Even if the only writing you do is in your journal or blog, do you do it regularly? If you don't write now, you may want to ask yourself, why do I want to be a writer? I'm not trying to discourage you, but it's a competitive field. Do you feel obligated to write, or do you actually enjoy it.
I absolutely love doing it. People sometimes ask me--don't you have to be "inspired" to write? I write every day except Sundays--not just e-mails. It is a discipline, and you do it whether you feel "inspired" or not. The inspiration often comes after you've had your butt in the chair for a while, and not before. I'm not trying to discourage you, but to give you a realistic picture of what it's about.
I'd recommend a book called Making a Literary Life, and also Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird.
If you're interested in freelance writing for magazines, I'd suggest you pick up either The Writers Guide or the Christian Writer's Guide --both are listings of all different magazines, whether they accept freelance written stuff (some publications are entirely staff written), how to get in touch with the editors, etc.
Also, if you haven't had any training in writing, I'd suggest taking a writing or journalism class at a community college, and attending a couple of writer's conferences. There's an excellent Christian writer's conference held in June on the campus of Wheaton College. It's called Write to Publish. (see You can meet with editors, take classes on all aspects of writing and publishing. Writer's conferences are a great combination of learning and networking, and you need to do both. Mt. Hermon's conference is supposed to be one of the best--it will be held next month in the beautiful Santa Cruz, Calif. area.
There are also a lot of websites out there that have very good information--I've got links to several on my blog.
Hope that helps.
Blessings on your writing, wherever it takes you!
The picture accompanying this post is of a painting by Sally Rosenbaum. Check out her work at, it's all lovely!

Friday, February 1, 2008


There is a part of me that tends to live in the future—to look forward to things that are going to somehow improve.
One of my goals for the new year is to simply live in the moment. To be where I am, and notice the gifts in the present moment. When I remember to do this, it’s funny, but I actually enjoy my life, my work, my friends and family, much more.
My friends Dawn and Greg sent a great card this month with this quote from Frederick Beuchner (one of my favorite writers) on the front:

Listen to your life
See if for the fathomless mystery that it is.
In the boredom and pain of it
no less than in the excitement and gladness:
touch, taste, smell you way to the holy and hidden heart of it
because in the last analysis all moments are key moments,
and life itself is grace.

Inside, they admitted that they were sending a January card since they’d missed sending out Christmas cards. But Greg wrote “I have come to believe that maybe it is the ordinary days that are to be remembered and cherished. The ordinary days that form the foundation of our lives, that forge our character and make up the story that is our life.”

In the traditional Church calendar, certain seasons that fall in between special seasons like Advent or Lent are called simply “ordinary time.”
The bulk of our lives are spent in ordinary time. But if we can begin to see, as Beuchner points out, that “life itself is grace”—then ordinary becomes extraordinary.
When we went to bed last night, it had already snowed about six inches. This morning, the snow was still falling, school was closed. I’ve put in six or seven hours of work today at my desk, but I’m still in my jammies. Gotta love snow days. Really gotta love being able to work from home. And I'm totally grateful I didn't happen to be on a plane today (I flew home from my latest business trip on Tuesday!).
My hubby and kids shoveled our driveway, then helped various neighbors shovel theirs. They went sledding at the hill in the backyard of our school, played with friends.
Here’s some photos of my backyard. (click on each image to see them in better detail) Yeah, that's about a foot of snow on the table. It’s funny, we’ve had several storms this winter, and I keep taking photos. They’re starting to look alike—snow piled on the picnic table and frosting the trees. But even as the snow becomes ordinary, it still looks beautiful. All moments are key moments, every snowfall dresses the world in wonder.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Getting oriented

Last night, I cooked dinner for my family. (I wrote about it on the Boomer Babes Blog today) But we didn’t get to eat together. As Scot and the kids came in the door, I was walking out, to ride over to the high school with my neighbors Laura and Jon.
It was parent orientation night. Our oldest kids (their son and my daughter) will be starting high school in the fall. They’ve already taken placement tests, registered for school, and now, we had to get oriented.
Which is a good way to put it, because I feel very disoriented. How did I suddenly become old enough to have a child in high school? How did my baby get so tall and wise so fast?
We happen to live in one of the top school districts in the state, and after hearing the presentations last night, I can see why. The focus is on college prep. Students who lag behind (defined as getting one F in any class, or D’s in two classes) are put into guided study halls to make sure they straighten up and fly right. There are courses are offered at general, college-prep or advanced levels, so that every student has a chance to be challenged, but also to succeed. We’ll be getting schedules with placement information in a few months. We had to turn in forms with elective choices for the kids—and guidance counselors offered us advice on getting the history requirement done as a freshman elective. Perusing the thick course catalog, looking at academic department flow charts, I felt like I was in college orientation, rather than high school.
I sat in the auditorium, between two moms I’ve known since our girls were in diapers. I looked around the room, seeing families from my neighborhood, moms from soccer teams Melanie’s played on, parents I recognized from church.
And as much as I’m overwhelmed by the idea of my little girl going to high school, I felt blessed. Not just because we can afford to live in a good school district (believe me, the taxes are not cheap!) but because we live in a neighborhood that is amazingly stable, and amazingly connected. The vast majority of the kids who were in Melanie’s kindergarten class will be going to high school with her in the fall. Five of those kids live within a block of us. And I know their families.
And that was the most orienting thing about orientation night—knowing that the parents who’ve been beside me at soccer games, driven my kids in carpools, suffered through PTA meetings and grade school field trips with me—those friends will also be here as we journey these next four years, as our teenagers grow and become more independent. My prayer is that we’ll all continue to help each other raise our kids—to watch out for them, to love them, to encourage each other as we face frustrations and challenges that are an inevitable part of parenting, especially parenting teenagers. And by caring for the kids, we’ll take care of each other, as we have for the last fourteen years.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Back to work

I admit it: I love winter. I took both of these photos in my backyard. And they don't do it justice--it really is beautiful.

For those of you who don't get my newsletter (or do get it but would like to comment on it) here's my musings for January from the Connecting with Keri newsletter. (If you like what you read and would like to subscribe, go to and look for my newsletter info.) I'd love to hear your comments or feedback.
Now comes the hard part of winter, when the holidays are over. Here in the Midwest, it’s been cold and snowy for a month or two, but the season is just getting revved up. We’ve had ice storms, snow storms. We’re supposed to get a January thaw this weekend, although I know winter will return with a vengeance. It’s never really over around here until well into April.

I’ve enjoyed the holidays, and spending time with my family. I love just hanging out watching movies, reading Christmas books, visiting the city to look at the lights, or even shopping with my kids. I love the leisurely pace of our lives when they don’t have to get up for school and don’t have to be driven places on a schedule.

Yet there is part of me that longs to reclaim my computer and the quiet space of my home. I am ready for my darling children to go back to school, so I can work without Alvin and the Chipmunks singing “Bad Day” in the background (as it is right now. Again. Sigh.)

While the weather may be hard, this time of year presents a great opportunity to examine our lives, to see where, perhaps, we hope to go next; to align ourselves with God and His purpose.I finished a book manuscript in early December, and a few weeks later, my wonderful agent called with news of yet another book contract.

As a writer, I’m only employed for certain as long as I’ve got another project—this one will take me at least six months. To finish a manuscript and have another project right away is an amazing blessing. I’m grateful. Along with writing, I’ll travel to five states in the next four months for the other half of my job, speaking and teaching at retreats. My work provides meaning, purpose, joy and income. As much as I enjoyed a holiday break, I’m anxious to get back to work.

Perhaps this week, you too are getting back into your normal routine. Back to work, whether that work is caring for young children, adding value to your company, instructing others or engaging in creative endeavors. Whatever “normal routine” is for you, here’s something to consider: how do you go back to normal without falling into the same old rut?

There is no denying that being home with small children is hard work. But I’ve seen many women make it into an all-consuming career. The danger in that is that moms lose themselves, because they forget that parenting young children is a job for a season, not a lifetime. They don’t remember who they are, apart from the role of mom. It also backfires for the kids who can’t help but conclude that they are the center of the universe.

I really think that it’s important for moms to have something other than their children to occupy their thoughts, to give them meaning and purpose. Getting a job, volunteering for a cause that matters to you, taking a class (or maybe even teaching one) can help you hang onto your self during the parenting years.

I have several friends in various stages of the “empty nest” season. Some find themselves floundering—what are they now, if not a hands-on parent? Others are busy “re-inventing” themselves. Which is, I suppose, a healthy step, but one that makes me wonder: what if, somewhere along the way, they had kept a piece of themselves alive by nurturing their own God-given talents? We often find our purpose hidden in our passions. If we’ve spent some time seeking God’s purpose for our lives (beyond the important calling of caring for our family) perhaps we will find that an empty nest would not require complete re-invention, just a minor adjustment.

If you are a parent, do you have something to occupy your energy other than your kids? Something that fills you, invigorates you, challenges you? Something you think God is calling you to do, that fits with your purpose? Whether it is serving at church or on your school PTA, or even just a part-time job to give you a break from the kids and a little spending money to boot?

Whether you are a parent or not, January is a great time to think about how you spend your days, about your purpose and calling. It’s a great time to begin to explore some options. What work is God calling you to do in this season? As you “get back to normal,” take some time to consider whether you want to make some adjustments, set some goals, or perhaps make a fresh start altogether.