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It’s Never Too Late to Say “I’m Sorry”

While driving my kids to school one day, I told them it was almost time for an annual lake trip our family takes with friends we see once a year.

Everyone got super-excited – except my youngest daughter. With a little prodding she admitted she was scared to go because of an argument she’d had the previous year with a girl her age. It was a silly fight, and she regretted how she acted.

“It’s okay,” I told her. “This is your chance to tell her you’re sorry. It’s never too late to say ‘I’m sorry.’ I have a friend who just apologized for a mistake she feels she made over 20 years ago.”

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2 Words for a Better School Year

A friend of mine once had jury duty and did not know a soul. When it came time to choose her seat, she did what most of us do.

She scanned the faces of potential jurors, saw a woman who reminded her of herself, and sat down by her.

Clearly there is nothing wrong with this. Very often when we’re instinctively drawn to people, there ends up being a chemistry or natural rapport that makes for easy conversation.

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My Big Fat Greek Vacation

Travel makes you modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” Gustave Flaubert

My family and I are not world travelers, but recently we enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime vacation to Greece that we’ll cherish for decades to come.

There were 17 people in our party: 10 cousins, 3 aunts, 3 uncles, and 1 YiaYia. We travelled with my husband’s family in honor of our late Papou, who used to talk about taking his kids and grandkids to the old country until the onset of Alzheimer’s cut that conversation short.

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An Encouraging Word for New Moms

Congratulations, momma! You did it. You’ve ushered a beautiful, breathing, live miracle into this world. That newborn baby cradled in your arms is a game changer, a little piece of heaven so warm and irresistible that you instinctively know this is the purest thing you’ll ever experience on this side of eternity.

It sounds cliché, but try to soak it up. Understand how the indescribable high of meeting your child is hard to repeat. While I certainly can’t speak for everyone, for childbirth stories can get very complicated, I can say the days my children were born were the best days of my life.

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15 Things I’d Want a Son to Know

As a mom of four girls, I often write about raising daughters. And on many occasions, I’ve had moms with sons ask for insights related to boys.

Obviously, I don’t have first-hand experience, but I do know many parents who do a great job cultivating boys into men. Besides taking mental notes from them, I’ve developed a hypothetical list, things I’d want to instill in a son based on personal experiences, the qualities I like to see in a man, and what I’m learning about teen culture through my work with adolescent girls and books for them.

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20 Things College Girls Should Know

It was a college football game weekend, and as my friend walked down sorority row with her teenage daughter, her daughter took it all in.

The energy. The buzz. The sea of people dressed in the school colors, full of excitement and hope. Out of the blue, her daughter asked a question.

“Mom, what’s the hardest part of college?”

Her mother said the first thing that came to mind: Saying no.

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How Does a Girl Restore Her Reputation?

I once met a woman who grew up with a father who failed to show her love and affection. Hungry for attention and very naïve, she went to a party one night in 9th grade, had too much to drink, and made some regrettable choices with a boy.

The next week, her phone began to ring off the hook. It wasn’t the boy reaching out – it was his friends. You see, word travels fast when a girl makes a mistake. One night is all it takes to get the wrong kind of label and start attracting the worst guys, the predators who only want to use girls and have no idea how to show respect.

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Tips for Tryouts: Confidence, Courage, Community

It’s that time of year again, when girls and guys across the country are gearing up for tryout season and getting physically and mentally prepared. While I can’t help anyone with physical preparations, I can offer a few thoughts for the mental part.

Here are 3 words to keep in mind:

Confidence * Courage * Community

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What Will Your Recovery Be?

It started with a phone call – the kind of call every parent dreads.

The gym where my girls tumble had called to tell me that my oldest had hurt her finger and was in pain. It happened during a back-handspring and immediately started to swell.

We went to the ER, and after several hours we emerged with confirmation that she’d broken her finger and might need surgery. They scheduled us to see a hand surgeon on Monday.

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Drowning Out the Inner Critic with Only Love Today

Today’s post is written by a special friend who can articulate the painful truths we all wrestle with but are scared to admit. Known to the world as Hands Free Mama, I know her simply as Rachel, an incredibly kind, beautiful, and compassionate soul who lives out her message of love and offers a soft place to land to those who know her.

Rachel’s newest book – Only Love Today – releases March 7. I highly recommend it for moms and daughters, as even my 7-year-old has been captivated by her words of hope, love, grace. Today’s post offers some backstory on Only Love Today and how these words helped Rachel silence her inner critic. It’s one we can all relate to, a story that reaffirms our value despite our imperfections.

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Want to Like Other Parents? Presume Positive Intent

It happened when my daughter was 9, and I knew immediately by the look on her face that something was wrong.

While the kids around her were all smiling and running – thrilled that school had ended early – she was trudging toward me with her shoulders slumped and a defeated expression.

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Be Real and Know Who’s Good for You

I’ve never been a fan of pretense. Even as a little girl, if I sensed that a person was acting fake or a little hoity-toity for my taste, it made me want to run the other way.

I suppose that’s why I’m glad for the cultural shift in recent years where being “real” is a popular idea. Words like transparency, vulnerability, authenticity, and truth telling have gained buzz, and while pretension is still alive and kicking (thanks to social media,

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The Gift of Christmas Grace

It was a simple task, really, and one that many families had successfully carried out before us.

Our church had asked our family to take care of baby Jesus in the week leading up to Christmas. On the last Sunday of Advent, we set up the Nativity. We then brought Jesus to our home for safekeeping, swaddled in a purple blanket.

It was thirty minutes before the start of Christmas Eve Mass, as I was rushing to get ready and sweep everyone out the door,

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20 Tips to Help Your Teen Use Social Media Wisely

Whenever I speak at mother/daughter events, the Q&A at the end often leads moms to ask questions about one particular topic.

Social media.

As the first generation of parents dealing with social media, we don’t have much advice to go on. We don’t have parents ahead of us who have pioneered a path and can tell us exactly how to best prepare our kids for digital interactions.

We are the pioneers –

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A New Book for Teen Girls

When people talk about teenage girls today, the conversation often turns to how addicted they are to their phones..

But what nobody seems to ask is “Why?”

Why are girls addicted to their phones?

Why do they obsess over Instagram “likes” and social media numbers?

Why can’t they put their phones down, even in the company of friends?

If you ask me,

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What Middle School Girls Should Know About Friendship

A woman in teen ministry once shared with me a term that describes the state of female friendships in the middle school years.

Fluid.

In other words, friendships can change a lot in this stage of life. They may ebb and flow as everyone makes new friends, explores new friendships, and sometimes grows apart.

The growing apart may not be intentional; it’s often a matter of not having classes together or the same extra-curricular activities.

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5 Things Your Daughter Should Know About Chasing Boys

There are certain things in life worth waiting for.

A really awesome guy is one of them.

Unfortunately, our world has devalued the art of waiting. We want our heart’s desire now. And for teenage girls eager to fall in love, that eagerness can get the best of them. They may chase the boys they like instead of waiting for the right boys to chase them – and then wonder why their relationships are empty,

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10 Thoughts for My 10-Year-Old Daughter

There are certain people in this world who soften me when I look at them.

My daughter Marie Claire is one of them.

Maybe it’s rosy cheeks. Or her starry eyes. Or her lyrical voice as sweet as honey that reminds me of a fairy.

Then again, it could be what I know about Marie Claire that isn’t readily apparent. Like how kind, tender-hearted, and compassionate she is. How she knows what to say to a friend who’s been hurt by another child.

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When Other Parents Love Your Child

Years ago, I heard of a high school principal who shared with a room of educators an experience from her personal life.

While speaking with her neighbor one day, she mentioned how her daughter was interested in art. The next day, her neighbor appeared on her doorstep with an unexpected gift: paint, paint brushes, and art supplies so her daughter could get started.

Obviously, this principal was moved. She couldn’t believe what her neighbor had done for her daughter. 

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Be Awesome and Make History

Recently I asked my nine-year-old daughter what she wants to be when she grows up.

She eagerly replied, “I want to be awesome and make history!”

Exactly how she plans to make history is up in the air, because at her age, that part is irrelevant. All she knows is that she wants her life to count. She wants to matter. She wants a life of significance that people will remember.

And if we’re being honest,

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Parenting Your Teen in an Age of Social Media

As a writer, I like social media. I can appreciate the benefits it offers because it has opened up doors for writers by offering a quick, easy, and free way to connect with readers.

As a parent, however, I have mixed feelings toward social media. I hear stories about kids who have misused it, been hurt by it, or made a terrible mistake that went viral, and I panic because I’m raising daughters in a generation that’s still figuring out how to be smart with a smart phone.

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Connecting With Your Teen Daughter

When I began writing my first book for teen girls, I was writing for mothers. So when I sent two sample chapters to my editor for review, she offered pivotal advice that helped shape me as a writer and a mom.

She said, “This is a good start, but if you sound like a mom, the girls will stop reading. Write it instead from the voice of a wise big sister. Channel your teenage self.”

What her advice forced me to do was to put myself in the shoes of today’s girls.

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12 Back-to-School Prayers for Your Child

It’s that time of year again, time to pull out the backpacks, get haircuts, set up alarm clocks, and make 20 trips to Target because school is about to start, and Mom is on a mission.

Wherever your heart is this season – whether you’re jumping for joy because you’re ready for some space, or crying on the sofa because you aren’t ready to let your kids go – you probably have mixed emotions about the school year ahead.

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The Key to Great Parenting? Consistency

My sweet father-in-law, Nestor Kampakis, passed away unexpectedly this past New Year’s Eve. Although he had Alzheimer’s, his death was a shock, altering the landscape of 2016 for our family.

Papou was a good soul and everything you’d hope for in a father: kind, loving, protective, wise, honest, committed, and faithful. He adored his family and loved anyone whom his children loved, because if someone was important to his child, they were important to him too.

After Papou died,

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Character is More Important Than Winning

Several years ago, I heard about a 5th grade boy who showed character during a summer all-stars baseball game that was intense and high-stakes.

Both teams were determined to win.

The boy, named Michael, made an amazing stop at short stop. Everybody in the stands thought he’d caught the ball for an out, but it was questionable whether the ball touched the ground before landing in his mitt.

The umpire asked Michael if he’d caught the ball. 

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