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Christy Catherine Marshall

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February 28, 2006

This week’s Carnival of Beauty is hosted by Marla of Just Marla, and our topic, of all things, is “The Bible.” As I’ve given this some thought during the week, I keep realizing how much I need the Bible as a mom. Are there other people like me, who feel like they’re dry and thirsty without daily refreshment from the Word?

I periodically look through my list of key phrases people type into search engines to find my site. It sometimes baffles me how a certain phrase will lead someone here. This past month, I noticed these phrases among many with the keyword “mom/mother:”

— frustrated mom blog
— bone tired mother
— advice for moms raising teenage boys
— frustrated mom of preschoolers
— christian words of comfort to a mother who is having a hard time with a teenager trying to discipline

I imagine what led a woman to her computer to type in one of these phrases. Perhaps she had a long day of work — either away from home or AT home with her children; she drove her mini-van to the grocery store or Stuff-Mart at least once during the day to pick up some necessity, kids in tow; she prepared at least one meal for her family, though possibly all three, including snacks (semi-healthy of course); then she drove her kids to all their activities and kept up with the other moms; she oversaw her kids’ homework; helped them with baths (if they’re still young); read them a bedtime story (or three or four); listened to their prayers; and tucked them in bed. Of course, somewhere in all that, if she has a husband, she shares time with him, discussing the day, planning for the next day, maybe even having a real conversation once the kids are in bed.

At some point during the day, she taps into her computer, “Bone Tired Mother.”

This is what I imagine, at least. She’d be even more bone tired if she’s a single mother, with no one to help share the load, and financial strain weighing heavily on her mind.

So what can I say to encourage these moms?

What I’d like to say is that there was another woman, in another time, who was also bone tired, exhausted from a fast lifestyle that made her feel cheap and used. She felt unloved and unworthy. When she went to draw water from a well in her city one day, a man who was there asked if she’d also get him some water.

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“How can you ask me for a drink?” [she questioned Him.]

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.”

“Sir,” the woman said. “You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?” …

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:9-13 NIV).

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A spring of water … doesn’t that sound refreshing?

These verses are what I want to pass along to the bone tired, frustrated mom who is trying to manage toddlers or discipline teens. Dear mom, I hope you will find a few minutes today to read from the source of the well — maybe even opening up your own Bible to read John 4 and underlining or circling the phrase “living water.”

Then, if you want to see how the Word of God can change someone’s life, I have to send you to a powerful testimony I just discovered yesterday. Over a period of several years, through friendship and sharing Christian books, Carol of She Lives shared Christ with her housekeeper, who has now discovered Living Water. I know you’re busy and you have so much else to do and read, but if you have a chance to read She’s Got a Housekeeper (in three parts), this is what life is all about! Thank you, Carol, for sharing that with us!!

When the Samaritan woman at the well met Jesus, she couldn’t wait to go tell everyone else the Good News! I think that’s why many of us blog — we want to do the same thing in the 21st century.

When we’re thirsty, God’s Word is a well, always offering us a continual source of refreshment.

Let us drink deeply, sisters.

Living water




February 27, 2006

Olympicslogo

Were any of you glued to the TV set over the weekend watching the Olympics? Ice and snow are truly exotic to our children, so we all relished the skating and skiing.

We loved watching the Italians capture the gold medal in last night’s cross-country event. The Detroit Free Press describes Giorgio di Centa’s victory with this great sentence: “The horde of Italian fans lingered, savoring one last moment of Olympic triumph.” (I love the words linger and savor, don’t you?)

Yet I had this strange realization as I watched the dazzling figure skaters while humbly wiping down crumb-covered countertops. It finally sank in that I will NEVER be in the Olympics! It’s too late — I’m not good at any sport and now I’m too old! I mulled over that idea for a while as I watched the athletes experience their lifetime moment of glory.

You see, when I was growing up, I just knew that I was bound for the Olympics. It wasn’t a matter of IF; it was a matter of WHEN! I was quite serious about gymnastics when I was in elementary and middle school, and my teammates and I all had Olympic aspirations. In fact, we figured there would be some year in the 80s when the whole Olympic team would be our squad!

I turned in school homework assignments covered in Olympic-ringed doodles. My friends and I made medals and certificates for each other: Gold Medals on the Balance Beam and Floor, Silver on the Bars, and Bronze on the Vault (never was very good at that.) Those were my childhood dreams!

But just as I was feeling a bit disappointed, I happened to visit one of my favorite blogs, Simplifying Motherhood, written by Trish Berg. She’s come up with a whole new set of Olympic sporting events in which participants must all be moms. One new event she proposes will be “The Laundry Marathon:”

Each participant will be given twenty-four hours and two tons of dirty, stained clothes, unsorted. Their goal will be to sort, wash, dry and fold as many loads of laundry as they can in one twenty-four hour period. The winner is the mom who finishes the most laundry by tonnage, and who can still see straight.

I’m in training for that one now, as well as another Olympic-worthy thrill, “The Speed Shopping Commute:”

Each mom will be given four obnoxious kids (not hers of course), all under eight years old. She will have to load them into the minivan, head to the grocery store, and buy everything on her shopping list. Then, she has to get the kids and the groceries back into the house safely while walking on a sheet of ice in her driveway. Points will be deducted for every bag of M & M’s she gives the kids to keep them quiet at the store, and for slipping on the ice.

You’ll have to visit Trish’s site to read the rest of her hilarious post, The Motherhood Olympics. And while you’re there, stop in to say hello! Trish is an expert at making me feel better about myself, about mothering, and about life.

P.S. I gotta thank Kelsey at Holy Mama! for my new Bible Promise graphic in my sidebar. I followed the link from her site and discovered that I’m known as a “webmaster.” Someone has made it simple for you to add a customized daily scripture box to your site. My daughters helped me pick out the colors — although of course they wanted bright magenta and violet (sorry — didn’t look good on my site). The fun thing is that the scripture changes every day! And I don’t even have to do anything! Thanks, Holy Mama!




February 25, 2006

Here’s the new Christian Bookseller Association (CBA) list of bestsellers for March 2006. I find this list pretty interesting. You can go to their site and see who the publishers are. Thomas Nelson and Zondervan seem to have the most top-selling books this month.

There are definitely more nonfiction books than novels on this list — why is that? I know personally I read very little fiction (unless it’s for children), though it’s about all I read growing up. Now, as a mom with five kids, I love reading nonfiction books that give me new insight or inspiration — because I GIVE a lot; I also need to RECEIVE a lot from reading (with the Bible being #1 of course).

I guess a lot of people thought The Five Love Languages (#2) made a nice Valentine gift. That’s a long-running bestseller! I know one of my blog readers in Japan says she loves this book.

I have NOT read Captivating yet. I’d like to — has anybody else read anything on this list (or not on this list) you liked recently?

1. Cure for the Common Life — Max Lucado
2. The Five Love Languages — Gary Chapman
3. Captivating — John & Stasi Eldredge
4. The Purpose Driven Life: Keepsake Edition — Rick Warren
5. Dinner With a Perfect Stranger — David Gregory
6. Even Now — Karen Kingsbury
7. The Bible Promise Book (NIV) — Toni Sortor, ed.
8. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe — C.S. Lewis
9. The Purpose Driven Life — Rick Warren
10. End of the Spear — Steve Saint, SaltRiver
11. The Total Money Makeover — Dave Ramsey
12. The Witness — Dee Henderson
13. Wild at Heart — John Eldredge
14. Love and Respect — Emerson Eggerichs
15. Blue Like Jazz — Donald Miller
16. Battlefield of the Mind — Joyce Meyer
17. For Women Only — Shaunti Feldhahn
18. Come Thirsty — Max Lucado
19. Showdown — Ted Dekker
20. Boundaries — Henry Cloud & John Townsendp
21. The Great Physician’s Rx for Health and Wellness — Jordan Rubin
22. Knowing Aslan — Thomas Williams
23. Every Young Woman’s Battle — Shannon Ethridge & Stephen Arterburn
24. Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World — Joanna Weaver
25. The Power of a Praying Wife — Stormie Omartian
26. Unlikely Angel — Ashley Smith & Stacy Mattingly
27. Jerusalem Countdown — John Hagee, Charisma
28. Your Best Life Now — Joel Osteen
29. Mere Christianity — C.S. Lewis
30. What on Earth Am I Here For? — Rick Warren
31. Voices of the Faithful — Beth Moore
32. The Threshing Floor — Juanita Bynum
33. The Maker’s Diet — Jordan Rubin
34. Living the Extraordinary Life — Charles Stanley
35. Heaven — Randy Alcorn
36. The Ezekiel Option — Joel Rosenberg
37. Forgiven — Karen Kingsbury
38. Your Best Life Now Devotional — Joel Osteen
39. Rediscovering the Kingdom — Myles Munroe
40. Wild at Heart — John Eldredge
41. The Quilter’s Daughter — Wanda Brunstetter
42. The Pilgrim’s Progress — John Bunyan
43. 90 Minutes in Heaven — Don Piper with Cecil Murphey
44. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe — C.S. Lewis
45. Lies Women Believe — Nancy Leigh DeMoss
46. The Power of a Praying Parent — Stormie Omartian
47. Twelve Extraordinary Women — John MacArthur
48. Captivating: A Guided Journal — John Eldredge
49. The Dream Giver — Bruce Wilkinson & David & Heather Kopp,
50. Sharing Your Life Mission Every Day — Brett Eastman

P.S. Don’t forget to be thinking about next week’s Carnival of Beauty topic, hosted by Marla of Just Marla. Send her your post link by 3 pm next Tuesday, Feb. 28. Marla says, “The theme is the Bible, so feel free to share your thoughts on the whole book, a favorite passage, or whatever else is Biblically relevant.”

By: Heather Ivester in: Books | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (7)



February 24, 2006

Alyice Edrich e-book

We’re back today to finish up chatting with e-book expert Alyice Edrich of The Dabbling Mum, who is telling us how we can write about our passions in an e-book form and build a home-based business — while our kids do their schoolwork or nap.

If you missed yesterday’s interview, you’ll want to read it so you can learn the basics of writing e-books and exploring niche markets. Today, I’d like to learn more details about the selling part (oooh…that word scares me.)

Hi Alyice. Thanks for coming back to tell us more about e-books.

You’re welcome! Glad to be back.

So, if I’ve decided on a topic I’d like to write about, how much do I have to write to be able to sell my ideas as an e-book? How long should an e-book be?

An e-book should be as long as it needs to be to get the point across. Often, people come up with a great title, a great theme, but then leave the readers hanging because they don’t put in the time necessary to write a thorough book.

If you’re writing a book on how to build a tree house, for instance, your book will need to be comprised of things such as: do you need a building permit, how to get a building permit, how to draw up a blue print, how many people will be needed for the project, how to tell if a specific tree is sturdy enough, what types of woods are there and which are best, should you use nails or screws, shingles or cement, etc.

Then of course, you’ll need to decide if pictures should be included and if you use pictures, will they be sketches or actual photos — in which case you’ll need to build a tree house from scratch. Such a book could run 200 pages.

If you’re going to write a book about building a tree house, it does no good to just give a list of rules in 20 pages. People could end up buying too soft of a wood, untreated wood that warps once put together causing a safety issue in the structure, and nails that rust or loosen over time.

So, it looks like writing an e-book is a pretty in-depth process. Is it worth all the time it will take to research?

By taking the time to go into detail, providing more than surface answers, your readers will tell others about your book and you’ll gain more sales through word-of-mouth advertising.

That’s true. If customers are happy, they’ll be the ones telling other people about the product. But the whole idea of selling things scares me!

Marketing e-books is just like marketing any other product. You have to develop a business plan. You have to discover your target audience and then you have to pitch your e-book to that target audience.

You can market your e-book through word of mouth, speaking engagements, published articles, advertisements, press releases, radio interviews, etc.

What about online marketing? Do you have any tips on how we can do some marketing from home?

Sure. Here are some tips I shared with an e-book writer looking to increase sales by promoting from her website:

— Find websites that accept articles about your e-book’s topic and submit articles related to your e-book’s theme.

— Find forums where your target audience hangs out. When someone has a question related to your e-book’s theme, reply with a 250-word answer, then include a brief announcement about finding more answers in your e-book in your tagline.

— Volunteer to discuss your e-book, in an organized manner, in chat rooms that relate to the theme of your e-book. Most authors only think of chat rooms that discuss the secrets of writing and selling their books. While that can be a great place to start, your best bet for converting your time into sales is by targeting your target audience.

What about a blog tour? Is there a way we could do this with e-books?

Yes, blogs are wonderful mediums, and people love hearing from authors. You can visit blogs with subject matter that relates to the theme of your e-book. There are a several ways you can do a blog tour. I’ve written an article about it with more detail.

You can also visit appropriate blogs and leave a comment that truly responds to the post, and then link to your sales page. Or you can ask bloggers to invite you to write short content for their blogs.

And here you are! You’re offering all of us Mom 2 Mom readers useful information in case we decide to try writing e-books as a way to earn extra income for our families. And you’re also helping to market your own e-book.

Well, I feel like we’ve just nicked the tip of the iceberg — and I still have a thousand questions. Is there a place we can visit to learn more?

You can visit me at The Dabbling Mum Press and order a copy of my e-book, Tid-Bits For Making Money With E-books.

Great! We’ll also be sure to check The Dabbling Mum website to learn more. Thanks again for all of your help!

You’re welcome.

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I want to add a couple of things here: I’ve gotten my own copy of Alyice’s e-book, and it’s fantastic — full of practical research and links that would take you forever to find on your own. She also includes a journaling section with questions to help trigger your thoughts about choosing a topic — which would be helpful for couples to work through together. I also learned that Alyice earns a VERY nice income from her home-based business — in fact, she was able to support her family completely for a few years to give her husband the freedom to finish school.

For those of you who have blogs and would like to invite Alyice Edrich to come tour your blog, you can contact her here. She has a wonderful interview with Carmen at Full Contact Christ-Centric Living about how she organizes her office to make sure she stays productive. You can check out the other stops on her blog tour here as well.




Well, I’m only going to write a short FlyLady post today to tell you I’ve given the shoe thing some thought. It’s part of FlyLady’s morning routine for women to get up, get dressed, and put on lace-up shoes — even if you’re not going to leave your house. (GASP!)

It’s Step #2 of the morning routine:
“Shower and get dressed to lace up shoes, fix your hair and face”

FlyLady believes this is important because she used to work for a cosmetics company from home, and she had to follow the company rule of never making a sales call unless she was dressed — all the way down to her shoes.

Well, what do you think? Many of you are moms who are either running a home-based business, homeschooling, or staying home to raise your family. Do you wear shoes at home? (This is also a cultural thing, I’m aware, as in some countries it’s not acceptable.)

I’ve been trying this out. And here’s what I found:

FLYLADY IS ABSOLUTELY RIGHT!!!

I feel 100% better when I get dressed for my “work day” all the way down to my shoes. My lace-up shoes are actually my running shoes — which help me feel like moving faster around the house. I can still wear my slippers before or after “office” hours, but I feel more professional if I’m dressed like I’m working in an office or school. (A very casual office or school, of course.)

On the same note — for me, getting dressed to my shoes also means putting on make-up. Even wearing just a little makes me feel better when I don’t look so scary. Also, it shows my kids that “home” is an important place to be, just as much as going somewhere.

Those are my thoughts on the “shoe thing.” I’d love to hear yours!

By: Heather Ivester in: FlyLady | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (15)



February 23, 2006

Imagine this. It’s 4 am, and you’re sound asleep. Or you’re sitting in the quiet darkness of your home feeding your baby. Meanwhile, halfway around the world, ten people have just bought a product from you, for $20 each. Now, that extra $200 will go into your bank account to help you pay bills this month. And you didn’t have to do a thing.

That’s the beauty of e-books, which is a topic that’s fascinated me lately. I know so little about them, yet I’m curious. So, I decided to track down an e-book expert who also happens to be a fellow blogger and a mom of teenagers.

Alyice Edrich

Alyice Edrich is the author of several work-from-home e-books, including Tid-Bits for Making Money With E-Books. She’s the founder of The Dabbling Mum, an online resource for parents and small business owners. Alyice enjoys teaching parents how to earn hundreds of dollars by selling information they already possess.

Hi, Alyice. Thanks for stopping in today. Can you tell us a little about e-books?

E-books are electronic, downloadable books. Many are written on very narrow topics, topics traditional publishers wouldn’t print because they tend to prefer marketing to larger audiences.

So far, e-books aren’t as popular as print books because people are still learning about them and getting used to the idea of paying for something they have to first download and print out using their own resources. Some buyers consider this double payment: payment to read material and payment to print out.

What kind of people buy e-books? Is there really a market for them?

Most e-book buyers are people who spend a lot of time online. They are used to the whole “instant access” mentality and look forward to reading e-books that are up-to-date and can be read within minutes of ordering.

Moms who stay at home or work from home also tend to buy e-books over print books because they can research, order, and read while their children are sleeping, which means one less outing.

Oh yes. I know all about the difficulty of getting out shopping with kids. Especially in a quiet bookstore! Can you tell us more about e-book topics? How do you know if you’re really an expert on a topic?

I always tell people to think first about things that their friends and family members constantly come to them asking advice for. That’s always a great place to start because that means you’re passionate about that topic and have often researched for the simple pleasure of knowing more or to help improve your current circumstances.

Most moms think, “I’m a parent and I read lots of stuff to improve my parenting skills, so I’ll start a website or write a book on parenting” or they think, “I really want to stay home and start a home business. I’ve researched a lot of information and am pretty knowledgeable so I’ll start a website geared towards helping other parents stay home or work from home.” While those are great topics, they have actually been done to death and will make it very difficult for new businesses and books to stand out from the crowd. This means that in order to become successful with these topics, these moms would have to work double (and sometimes triple) time just to break even.

Wow. I hadn’t thought about that. What are some ideas you’d recommend for moms interested in writing an e-book?

I encourage moms to stay away from overdone themes and instead find something that is narrower, that they can really call their own. It’s important, when trying to make a living from home, to find an area that is lacking and then fill that area.

Let’s say that you did read a lot about working from home and you consider yourself pretty knowledgeable so you decide to start a work-from-home website to teach others what you know. What you’re doing is actually reiterating what you learned. You have no hands-on experience because you haven’t yet started a business and seen it to success.

Can you give us an example of something that would be better?

Instead of starting yet another, work-at-home (WAHM) website, I would encourage you to think outside the box.

For starters, what do you do for fun? What is the one hobby that you simply cannot get enough of? What is the one thing that your husband says to you, “Why do you have to constantly spend my hard-earned money on that? I sure wish you could make some money off that instead of always spending our money!”

Once you’ve figured that out, sit down and jot down what you know about the subject. Then get online and see what others have written about it. Are there a lot of copycats out there? If so, there is plenty of room for you to be unique and offer something far more valuable. Look around and see what’s missing. What can you offer that others are not providing?

That’s the business you want to start. And that’s the e-book you want to write. Don’t just write an e-book on a specific subject; build a business around that e-book and you’ll open up a floodgate of opportunities.

These are some great ideas, Alyice. I feel like we’re just getting started! But we’ve run out of time today, so I hope you’ll be able to come back tomorrow and tell us more about making money while we sleep!

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OK, Mom 2 Mom readers, are your e-book gears spinning? Alyice has given us a start, but tomorrow she’ll be back to tell us more about researching, writing, and marketing our e-books. I for one have a few ideas simmering, but I’d like more details — wouldn’t you?

Meanwhile, Alyice invites you to look at an article she wrote on this topic, as well as visit her at The Dabbling Mum Press.




February 22, 2006

The Carnival of Beauty is today, hosted by Michele of Chasing Contentment. You can visit her site and read a collection of nine posts written on the theme of The Beauty of Friendship. Michele says:

This morning, I found an e-card in my in-box from a friend, thanking me for my friendship. The card mentioned that February is International Friendship Month, a fitting time for a Carnival about friendship.

She also took the time to look up several scriptures relating to friendship — so this whole Carnival is inspiring, and I’m glad I’ll have this link in my archives. I’m sure I’ll be peeking at it again in the months to come. I’ve enjoyed that Technorati search tool in my sidebar a lot lately — I’ve found a blog to be a great place to store my thoughts that would have gotten lost if I hadn’t recorded them.

A quick note of congratulations to those of you who are finalists in the Share the Love Blog Awards. You can vote for your favorites until February 27. I only recognized a few of the finalists, and one is Katy’s Fallible blog, which is my pick for best design. I recognized her to be a kindred spirit because she also interviewed Mary DeMuth on her blog tour. If you love the French language and antique beauty, you’ll love Katy’s site!

Hmmm…how can I say this? More than ever, I appreciate Sallie of Two Talent Living’s diligence in making sure the blogs nominated for her awards last fall were clean for viewing. I visited a few of the finalist’s blogs to consider voting, and I felt like a frog who hit boiling water and jumped right on out. Why do women blog about such crass things? I don’t know. I guess I don’t get out much beyond the blogs in my blogroll and participants in the Carnival of Beauty (and those of you kind enough to leave me comments!) Just a warning, in case you were heading that way.




The forces of darkness figured out a long time ago
that they don’t have to make any Christian family bad;
they just have to make them too busy.

Dr. Tim Kemmel

Connecting With Your Kids

I read this quote when I opened up Timothy Smith’s book, Connecting With Your Kids: How Fast Families Can Move from Chaos to Closeness. From the very first page, I saw our family between the covers — he was talking to me. I’m the one who manages our family schedule, and it was the perfect timing to hear some straight talk from a professional family coach.

Smith uses the analogy of a runner finding the right pace throughout the book, which he calls “discovering your heartprint.” The four types of heartprints are the cruiser, the walker, the runner, and the biathlete. When members of your family run at different paces, you can see how it’s difficult to move forward together.

I think the material in this book is as revolutionary as Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages, which is still on the bestseller list the last time I checked. People love reading books by counselors who regularly meet with families in crisis — we’re all looking for solutions, and it helps to see how others handle life.

I enjoyed learning how families all have different paces. As a mom, I’ve realized my pace has had to change in the past few years and sometimes it drives me crazy. I’m a “runner” — I like to move fast and get a lot accomplished. But the more our family has grown, I’ve had to slow down. Babies and small children get sick and have to stay home to recuperate; pregnancy can be nine months of exhaustion; and traveling with children requires days of planning and packing.

This book reminded me that it’s OK to operate in seasons. My main role is to help introduce our children to a relationship with Christ — even if they don’t become Olympic athletes, Carnegie-hall-bound musicians, or academy-award-winning stars. Do they know Jesus personally? Do they love Him? Will they obey Him on their own when they grow up?

Connecting With Your Kids is pefect for group discussions because it’s got “Parent-to-Parent” and “Parent and Child” questions at the end of each chapter. I’ve mentioned to several people this would be a GREAT book for Sunday School or Bible Study.

[This book was sent to me from Mind & Media as a gift from the publisher.]

I also put on my best Sunday-shoe words and wrote a spiffy review of this book for Christian Book Previews, which has been cross-posted on Amazon.

P.S. I must add:
THIS BOOK HAS AN ADORABLE COVER!! DON’TCHA LOVE IT?




February 21, 2006

Another fun test for y’all.

Your Linguistic Profile:

60% General American English
40% Dixie
0% Midwestern
0% Upper Midwestern
0% Yankee



This week’s topic for the Carnival of Beauty is “Friendship,” hosted by Michele of Chasing Contentment. I’m having such a great time reflecting on these topics — I think about ideas while I’m going about my daily routines. It’s amazing what inspiration comes to my mind while I’m washing dishes, which is why my handy dandy notebook has wrinkled pages from soapsud-induced mad scribbling. (Does anyone else feel like you’ll die if you don’t write something down?)

So while I was thinking about friendship, sweet Blair at Scribblings by Blair tapped me for a Valentine meme about marriage. The question was, “What’s one thing you’ve learned about marriage that you could pass along to others?” I started writing about my parents — because most of what I know about marriage comes from observing them my whole life — but then I thought — Hey! This topic ties in great with friendship. So I saved my answer for this Carnival.

Being married to your best friend is one of the greatest gifts life has to offer. I thank God every day for this gift in my home now. But I also had this modeled for me growing up. My mom and dad are the best of friends. My mom brags about my dad all the time, and he brags about her. This is what I’ve observed makes a happy marriage.

Next month, my parents will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. They’ve spent four decades of life together. I love hearing them tell stories of how they met, dated, and spent their early years of marriage. My dad was in the Air Force, and I was born on an Air Force base in Kansas City, Missouri. We moved around a few times, so I was a toddler in Texas a while before we moved to Georgia. (Just wanted y’all Texas friends to know that.)

Over the years, my parents’ friendship has deepened and weathered the storms that life sends through. They took the calling seriously to raise three children and make sure we were in church every Sunday. No matter how busy we were, Mom always had us sit down together for supper, and I enjoyed watching my parents interact with each other — like friends — and talk and laugh about their day. The TV was never on while we ate — and everybody pitched into the conversation. (Even when I was a snooty-hooty teenager and dinner interrupted my busy agenda of phone calls and fashion planning.)

So, to answer Blair’s meme, marriage is all about friendship — first of all in having a friendship with God though Jesus Christ so you have the perfect role model for relationships — and second of all, it’s a lifelong friendship that grows and changes and is an adventure.

I’m still learning about this, which is why I love reading women’s blogs who describe their happy marriages. To double the blessings of my life, God gave me a husband whose parents also celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary last year. So, they should be the ones writing about marriage! I’m still the quiet observer, writing things down with my soapy dishpan hands.

How do you stay friends with someone for an entire lifetime? Here’s what I see. Marriage is a living thing, like a plant, that grows and needs constant attention. We were reading a book with our kids the other day about seeds, and it showed one of those giant Redwood trees in California. The last line of the book said something like, “Can you believe this tall tree used to be a seed?”

On our wedding day, we’re like a seed, planted into the ground. Then through years of growth toward the “Son,” we become like a tree. (Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a LIGHT for my path.”). Our roots should be deep enough so we’ll weather various storms that pass through.

How do we cultivate that seed? From watching my parents, I’d say:

#1 Surround each other with love and grace, the same way God gives it to you.
#2 Work on your sense of humor — laugh about the crazy things life deals at you! Have a lot of inside jokes that only your family knows about.
#3 Keep finding creative ways to celebrate the happy events — and tell stories about them over and over.

I could write a ton more — but I know you’ve got more blogs to click into — so I’ll just say this: if you’re a parent, the best gift you can ever give your children is to cultivate the seed of marriage and show them what a lifelong friendship looks like. It’s more important than anything else. I can’t thank my parents enough for giving me four decades of love, laughter, and celebration worth writing about!

P.S. If you don’t have a friendship like this as a role model, you can learn so much from great books! The Bible is #1. But I highly recommend The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. And if you feel like a pioneer in this parenting gig, I just finished reading Mary DeMuth’s inspiring book, Building the Christian Family You Never Had — it’s a wonderful resource!