Smart Phones & Dumb People: What you are missing when you don’t look up…

I’m on my iPhone way too much. Yes, I admit it.

My phone is always beeping, buzzing, ringing (kinda), dinging and it’s got me trained to look at it every time. A few weeks ago, I realized that it was time to get a handle on this issue. So, I decided to activate a tech solution to help me with my tech problem. In fact, I found the “Moment” app to help me monitor social media usage.

Yet, salvation came from another place.

sad face...not really.
sad face…not really.

At some point during my daughter’s soccer game, I removed my phone from its safe place inside my wallet and placed it on my lap. As I jumped up to cheer for my girl, my phone tumbled down to the concrete ground and landed face down.

As I looked at the shattered screen, I wasn’t mad. Frankly, I was relieved. That spider web of new cracks across my screen looked horrible, but those razor sharp lines provided a powerful boundary. In my desire to avoid slicing my finger tip open, I immediately lost interest in picking up my phone every 10 minutes just to see what’s going on.

Now, I’m on my phone less. While I can’t quantify how much less, I just know it’s less and that’s a good thing. Instead of looking down on a regular basis, I’ve been freed to keep looking up. And, it’s always good to remember that the best of life happens when we are looking up.

Just a reminder to treasure your present because we can't get it back...
Just a reminder to treasure your present because you can’t get it back…

Every moment that I’m looking up rather than looking down is a moment that I can connect with someone, rather than something.

Every moment that I look up versus looking down is a chance to smile at or encourage someone who crosses my path.

Every moment that I look up instead of looking down is a moment to observe those that I love and think of how blessed I am to have them in my life.

Today’s lesson: Look up. Because you’ll never know what you’re missing if you don’t.

Earlier today, I watched a thought-provoking video called “Smart Phones and Dumb People.” It’s a few minutes long - and since social media has trained us to only watch videos that are :58 or less, you’ll have to just gut this one out because it’s worth the watch.

How are you doing with your technology use? Are you obsessed with your iPhone, iPad, Kindle, X-Box, etc? If you’ve conquered your tech obsession, how did you do it? Tell us more – and feel free to share this post if you think others might enjoy it.

P.S. Thanks to our CedarCreek MOMentum leadership team for creating such a great teaching moment and including this video as part of it.





Mattie Lincoln

My Other 9/11 Memory…

Mattie Lincoln
Mattie Lincoln

Where were you on the morning of September 11, 2001? (How many times have we been asked that question?)

We were all doing “morning things.” Breakfast. Coffee. Commute. Riding a bus to school. Watching PBS with your little ones on an actual television because there were no iPads back then.

And then it happened. That morning, I was driving through downtown Toledo half-listening to the radio. Yet, something in the radio host’s voice captured my attention. “We’re hearing reports of a plane that may have flown into the World Trade Center…”

As the morning unfolded, we walked into a living nightmare that we had never dreamed. After watching the World Trade Center towers collapse over and over again, I escaped to my office at the non-profit organization I worked for at the time and shut the door.  Then, there was a knock.

One of my clients, a 27-year-old college student and mother of a two-year-old stepped through my doorway with a pained look on her face. “I have stage III breast cancer,”  was all she said.  Her name was Mattie Lincoln and her toddler son’s name was LJ.

September 11 wasn’t just the worst day in American history, it was also the worst day of Mattie’s life.

As our nation and our hearts struggled to come to terms with what 9/11 meant to our way of life and security, Mattie struggled with what it meant to be a mother and student battling an aggressive cancer . As the months passed and we watched memorial services and tributes to those who lost their lives, Mattie would grapple with meaning life and death as well.

Between cancer treatments and work,  Mattie stuck with her education and graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree. She would even be able to work in her professional field for a time. But, her struggle with cancer continued. Over the next 10 years, Mattie would battle cancer throughout her body. Yet, she kept fighting. Mattie had this swagger about her. Even as her hair fell out and her framed thinned, she could still fill a room with her voice and her laugh.

The last time I saw Mattie was in June 2009. Her son, LJ, stood next to her as we talked. He had grown into a tall, lean little man, standing next to his mother with a fiercely protective look in his eyes. We stood on the corner of Bancroft and Scottwood Ave. in front of the Ann Manor Condominiums talking about life, struggle and faith.

I remember hugging Mattie that final time. It’s such a blessing that God created our bodies with the power to create enduring memories with when we connect with others. Just the memory of that final hug brings tears to my eyes.

Mattie passed away a year later in June 2010. She was 36 years old.

I spoke with her mother shortly before the funeral. It’s hard to imagine how it feels to be a mother watching her child fight for so long and willingly let that child go in order to be free of the pain, but Mattie’s mother did just that. Mattie was the second child she buried, yet her mother had the strength to celebrate Mattie’s life. I admire her so very much.

So, on this day, when we remember those who lost their lives and the brave individuals who sacrificed for so many, I also remember Mattie.

If you need a recipe, here's one for Nutella Ice cream:

What I do on the first day of school and you should, too!

If you need a recipe, here’s one for Nutella Ice cream:

We still have one more week of summer vacation at Casa de Roose. However, many of you are bundling your offspring back to school this morning, so I want to share my back-to-school tradition with you: After the kids leave the house, I eat a bowl of ice cream.

Yes, on the first day of school, after the photos are posted and the kids depart, I plop myself on the couch with a spoon. Straight out the container at 8am. And it’s AWESOME!

Why eat ice cream at 8am right out of the container? First, I earned it! You did, too! Let’s be serious – you managed your kids all.summer.long.  Some of those days were pretty long. Certain years, my ice cream moment comes with sheer giddiness because we all got through the summer and no one (me) wrung anyone’s (them) neck.

Secondly, on some back-to-school years, ice cream helps to stop the tears. It’s a shock to realize that your baby is heading down the sidewalk toward kindergarten, sixth grade, high school or starting his or her senior year. That’s a lot for a mama heart to absorb! Sometimes, ice cream helps us to embrace that moment and all of the feelings that come with it. (And if you are a milestone-mama this morning or next week, You’re going to be okay.)

My oldest daughter, Kate (right), on her first LAST day of school this morning at West Point/USMA. Her roommate, Bri is on the left. Sigh.
My oldest daughter, Kate (right), on her first LAST day of school this morning at West Point/USMA. Her roommate, Bri is on the left. Sigh.

Every day, we mamas grind it out. We’re caring, bossing and moving our kids along. Often, the days blur in and out. But, the first day of school is our annual reminder of how far we’ve come. Yet, that reality never seems to focus until we snap that back-to-school picture.

Seriously, that back-to-school photo crashes me some years. We see our kids with fresh eyes in their new clothes. We see them moving toward the future and we’re not always ready for that. But, that picture reminds us that it’s coming.

(I wish I was at your homes to see the five minutes BEFORE that calm, sweet back-to-school photo – ha! For many of us, the back-to-school photo is a hostage situation under the best of circumstances. I challenge some mom out there to post the picture BEFORE the picture. Who’s gonna do it!)

A moment to start looking forward…

As I sit with my container of ice cream, I envision my kids walking toward their classrooms for the first time. I pray their new classes, lunch time, the tricky combination lock and that their new friends will be good influences on them. I also pray for their teachers and administrators because, well, God bless ‘em. By the way, I always toast one scoop to all the teachers out there. This one is for you, teachers!

So, that’s my tradition. I’ll do it next week. I’m only sending one kid back to school for the first time in 16 years. So, there will be a few tears in that ice cream. And a few smiles when I remember, two down, one to go.

Talk back to me! Do you have a back-to-school tradition? How’s the photo moment really going down at your house? What are you celebrating about your school year? Tell us about it!

And if you think that another mama might enjoy this post, please share it with her. Thanks!


The ONE word that represents what ALL kids need!

Helicopter-MomIs there ONE thing that your kids need more than anything else? Okay, other than Jesus. Yes, I believe that all kids need Jesus. You do, too. But, outside of a relationship with Christ, what else does your child need in order to succeed in life?


Last week, I posted on Facebook about how I stopped school shopping with my kids after my oldest daughter started driving. I gave her the keys and my debit card and wished my little Roosters success on their mission. How did they do? Fine. Did they purchase differently than I would have? Yep. But, that’s okay. They loved the freedom to make their own decisions. This year, my youngest daughter (14) shopped by herself with confidence because she’s been doing it for years. Pretty cool.

Many years ago, I was a helicopter parent. I wanted my girls to be well-prepared and well-protected in this crazy, tricky world. I figured that since I could see danger or difficulty miles down the road, it was my job to steer my kids away from any and all bad decisions, mishaps and mistakes. That’s what good mamas do, right?

One day, I envisioned myself as a 70-year old woman with three 40-50 year old daughters asking me if they should pack peanut butter or turkey sandwiches for lunch. At that point, I realized it was time for a change. I had to put that helicopter on the ground and get out!  It took a few years (and some professional therapy) to let go of my helicopter-mama ways. But, their lives depended on it.

My daughters needed to develop resourcefulness and it could only be developed if their well-meaning mama wasn’t getting in the way. Simply put, resourcefulness is the ability to “figure it out.”

How young is too young to start learning…

At today’s Leadership Summit, Bill Hybels shared how his father dropped him off 30+ miles away from a certain destination instructions to finish the journey. Bill was given two pieces of advice:  “Figure it out” and “Don’t call me.”

He was 11 years old at the time.

(Okay, that might be shade too young.)

Here are a few ideas to help your school-aged kids develop resourcefulness:

1. Let them “practice” their way to proficiency…If we ever want our kids to get good at something, then we need to let them be bad at it and give them the blessed opportunity to get better.

For a long time, I didn’t want to put up with the hassle of not-so-great-dinners cooked by the kids. Yet, cooking is an important life skill. Therefore, I need to give the girls a chance to do it and practice their way from crispy nightmare to culinary delight. It takes time and patience on our end at the beginning, but the payoff for our kids lasts a lifetime!

By the way, cooking is a great exercise to build start your kids toward resourcefulness. Recipes and measurements can be tricky, so kids can get practice learning how to balance time management and problem-solve.

2. Let kids experience the “natural” consequences of their behavior…Failure is a great teaching tool for resourcefulness. If they forget, oversleep, procrastinate, break, lose or generally mess up, let your kids dig themselves out of the hole. Let them figure out how to raise the funds, repair the damage, make the apology – don’t be too quick to step in and smooth things over.

Avoid fixing your kid’s mistakes to maintain your image. That’s just asking for your kids to be dependent on you in the future. Coach your kids, don’t allow them coast.

Here’s a question that you might ponder:  “Am I shaping my kid’s heart and mind or just trying to make my life easier?”

3. Refuse to be your kids’ Google…If your kids have questions about where things are located, how much things cost or how to spell something, don’t tell them. Can they read? Good! Then they can pull out whatever electronic device is in their pocket and figure out the answer. Will they whine? Yes. Will they fake helplessness? You bet. Ignore them and smile because you’re doing them a favor.

SHARE WITH US! How are you teaching your kids resourcefulness? Are you a helicopter parent who can’t stop hovering? Tell us about your struggle! Comment here or on my Facebook page.


Goodbye, Marie…

Dear Marie, It’s your last day in the US. Today, I figured I would distract myself for a little while by writing this blog post. It’s Saturday morning and we’re in the living room.

You’re sitting in the chair across from me while Sami is braiding your hair one more time. You didn’t want have to deal with your hair over the 24-hour journey home. I want to be able to talk to you, however, the only words I’m capable of speaking without tears are coming through my fingertips…

Marie's arrival at Toledo Express on August 30, 2012.
Marie’s arrival at Toledo Express on August 30, 2012.

It’s been tough watching you say good-bye to our family and your friends. When your dad arrived last week, it seemed like a week would be a long time, until the final goodbyes began and time start moving quickly. It’s hard to believe that today is the day. Of course, it’s been quite a stressful morning for you… While we’ve enjoyed a year of shopping together, you’ve had to fit 10-months of American purchases into three suitcases – yikes!

 As you’ve been packing, I haven’t been able to bring myself to walk past your room. After 10 months of watching bare walls fill with pictures and mementos of your life in America, my heart hurts at the thought of the looking at a bare room and bare walls. I am so happy that you are returning to your life in Denmark – so happy. But, I will miss seeing you stagger out of your room each morning, sharing beautifully ripe avocados with tomatoes or when you came down the steps calling out, “I got you.”

Marie's first peanut butter sandwich. She wasn't sure at, peanut butter is her favorite!
Marie’s first peanut butter sandwich. She wasn’t sure at first…now, peanut butter is her favorite!

Earlier this week I found the first photo of you coming down the hallway toward us at Toledo Express on August 30, 2012. We had only found out you were coming six days before you arrived. I wish the photo wasn’t blurry, but my hands were shaking so much as you came down the hallway. We weren’t sure how those early moments would go. Our family was so embarrassed that first night when we proudly served you a Danish for dessert – only to find out that Danishes weren’t actually Danish. Our bad.

There were so many “firsts” in the early weeks: first day of school, first American football game and how could we forget your first peanut sandwich. You hated peanut butter at first, but soon, you couldn’t live without it. As we promised, we’ll send over Kroger brand peanut butter when you need it. One of my favorite photos of this year was the picture of you with Kate, Sam and Abbie.

Abbie, Kate, Sami and Marie - Thanksgiving 2012
Abbie, Kate, Sami and Marie

The week before you came to America, Matt and I promised your parents that we would treat you like one of our own kids. When you and Kate met for the first time and we snapped the photo of all four of you girls, it was just like you had always been a part of our family. And you always will be.

As the months went on, we had the chance to experience a lot of ups and downs. You really grew up a lot while you were here in the US. Do you remember the chat we had a few months ago? It was late in the evening and you and I were in the living room talking about the important things to know in life. You had come to the realization as to why  you were in America this year. And I agreed. My hope is that you will keep that in mind as you continue the next exciting phase of your life. You may be across time zones and a large ocean, but there are so many of us who have been invested in your life over the last 10 months. I think that one of the reasons I wrote those post is so that you might know that where you go and what you do in life matters to so many. no matter how much time or many miles are between us.

Well, Sami is done braiding your hair – and I need a kleenex. I know you see me doing a poor job of not crying. But, I see a few tears slipping down your face as well. That’s okay. Most importantly, your hair looks great! You’re going to look spectacular posing in front of the Eiffel Tower during your long layover in Paris. Lucky!

As you bounce up from the chair to finish packing upstairs, you exclaimed, “Well, looks like I am good to go.” And you’re right. It is time to go.

-Originally posted on June 1, 2013