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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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To My Daughter, on Her 10th Birthday

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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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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Raise the Child You Have, Not the Child You Want

I have a friend who learned her daughter had cancer after going to a routine 2-year-old pediatrician visit. Her blood work was off, and this led to testing and a diagnosis the next day. As you can imagine, they were shocked and very frightened.

Her daughter is doing fantastic now, and last year we celebrated her five-year remission. One thing that’s always stuck with me, however, was a realization my friend had shortly after learning about the cancer.

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Setting the First Tracks: How to Have Hard Conversations with Your Kids

Imagine your child at the top of a ski slope. They’re about to ski down for their first time, but for now, they’re relishing the view.

A blanket of snow just fell, so the view is fresh and pure. The fluffy white snow is completely blemish-free. It’s a wondrous sight, but it’s temporary. Because pretty soon, skiers will start sailing down this hill. Each one will set tracks in the snow that impact your child’s perspective.

Whoever skis down first,

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In the THICK of Parenting

It occurred to me recently that my husband and I have reached an interesting midpoint in parenting.

We’ve been parents for 13 years. We have 13 years until our youngest child leaves for college. We’re halfway to an empty nest. We’re in the thick of parenting.

Our busyness today is different from our busyness when the kids were little. While we’ve certainly hit a sweet spot (with our daughters ages 13, 11, 9 and 6, we can enjoy them without being physically exhausted and sleep-deprived),

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It’s Okay (and Good) to Feel Your Pain

My father-in-law passed away one week ago today. As you can imagine, there’s been a lot of tears and sadness.

And what I’ve learned about grief is, there is no need to hide it or deny it. Crying over a person isn’t a sign of weakness, but rather proof that you really loved them. Tears are tangible evidence that their life mattered to you, and their absence from your life will be deeply felt for many years to come.

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Raising a Brave Child

“A word of encouragement during a failure

 is worth more than an hour of praise after success.” – Unknown

I believe it’s fair to say that most parents want to raise brave children.

We want them to be brave in doing what’s right. Brave in chasing their dreams. Brave in saying “no” when necessary. Brave in facing their fears.

But the thing about bravery is, there’s a lot of psychology involved.

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3 Words Our Kids Need to Hear

It is Monday morning, and my daughter drags into the kitchen.  She sits on a bar stool, slumps her shoulders, and casts her eyes down at the bowl of Cheerios I slide in front of her.

She moans and groans and tells me how tired she is. Part of me is irritated. I need her to step it up because I have four kids to get to school in thirty minutes. I don’t have time for this.

But then I remember – I get tired,

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What I Love about Having a Tween Daughter

When my daughters were all little, I dreaded adolescence. It seemed like all the comments I heard about tween and teen girls were negative, and the way some people put it, I was in for a dismal ride.

On top of this, there was the sentimental sap in me who wanted to mourn the childhood my daughters were slowly outgrowing. With every baby tooth that fell out of their mouths, every hair bow they refused to wear,

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How a Critical Mom Learned To Connect With Her Child

Friends, today’s post is written by my friend Rachel Macy Stafford – also known as Hands Free Mama – whose highly anticipated new book Hands Free Life releases September 8th. Rachel is a gifted writer with a heart of gold, and her beautiful insights on intentional parenting have touched millions across the globe. I highly recommend her new book as a guide on creating a life of significance and strengthening relationships with your family and friends. 

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10 Truths Middle Schoolers Should Know

It’s rare to hear anyone say they loved middle school. Even people with positive memories never tout it as the best years of their life.

Simply put, it’s an awkward season. It’s a time of constant changes, social shake-ups, swinging emotions, and intense pressures. If I’ve learned anything from working with adolescent girls, it’s how hungry this age group is for comfort and reassurance. I hear it in their voices and see it in their eyes whenever I speak to a group,

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Prepare the Child for the Road, Not the Road for the Child

Years ago, my friend’s daughter really wanted to be chosen as “Swimmer of the Week” at their country club. It’s an honor bestowed weekly to one child per age group in the summer.

Parents will sometimes call the club to request that their child be picked. But my friend didn’t want to do that. She wanted her daughter to win the award through hard work and perseverance.

So she told her child, “When you get this award,

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The Woman Who Loves Her People Well

I have a friend who hopes to start a ministry. She’s equipped to do it, and her life story is pointing that way, but currently she’s in a season where she is waiting for God to reveal His plan and provide more direction.

She’s a great mom – to her kids and other people’s kids, too. My children adore her and look up to her. She’s also a terrific friend, the kind who you will drop everything to help you.

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Loving & Letting Go

“Making the decision to have a child is momentous.
It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”
Elizabeth Stone

Years ago, I was at the dentist’s office getting my teeth cleaned when I heard some parenting advice that’s stayed with me.

My daughters were young at the time, and as the dental hygienist talked about her 16-year-old daughter, I quizzed her about that stage of life.

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8 Lessons I Learned from My Daughter’s Cheer Tryouts

(Originally posted March 2015)

Well, we made it. We survived our first big tryout week. Honestly, it was better than I expected. Even if my daughter hadn’t made the 7th grade cheer squad, I’d still say that.

I was nervous going in, mostly because of the crazy cheer momma stories I’d heard about people freaking out over their child’s competition and pulling sneaky moves. I didn’t want to be like that, of course, nor did I want to fall in the category of being so obsessed with the outcome that I spent the week being strung-out,

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Helping Kids Build a Thick Skin

Some of the best advice I ever received came after my first big job promotion.

I was 23 years old, and the newly tapped executive speechwriter for a large company. My primary responsibility was to prepare notes for the CEO’s speaking engagements. Since he was a terrific speaker, he often spoke off-the-cuff. What this meant for me was that I might spend three weeks working diligently on a speech – only to have him use a sentence or two.

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