Parenting in the light

It’s been awhile since I’ve added to our on-going series, You Are Not a Victim, You’re a Mom. I thought I’d do that today, simply because I woke up overwhelmed with gratitude that I’m not languishing in turbulent darkness anymore. Overwhelmed by joy is much more wonderful than being overwhelmed by all the people and all the discipline and all the feelings…

I’ve come so far in my own personal journey as a mom. For years I was bound by overwhelming emotions. It was dark and I stumbled with my thinking and my speaking, in my heart and in my home. Feeling angry and hurt and hurt and angry and overwhelmed and helpless and hurt and angry and powerless… and powerless, you may know, is the emotion that bubbles up and out into unrighteousness displays of power most of all.

But powerlessness doesn’t have control of my mind and reactions any more. I am free from the darkness and parenting in the light. And free to encourage you forward in your light-drenched journey as well.

Here is a short list of things you can do to takes daily steps forward each day.







1) Turn your eyes upon Jesus.

The old hymn promises, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.” God’s Word encourages us with this:

“A Song of Ascents.
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.”
(Psalm 121:1-2)

I’ve heard it said, “When you face the Son, the shadows will be behind you.” If you are living and trying to love in the shadow places, turn and face the Son. Ladies, develop the spiritual discipline of gazing, not glancing, at the mountains, where our Savior comes from. When your eyes are fixed on your emotions and your circumstances, glancing at Jesus for help is simply not enough. You must keep your eyes fixed upon the author and perfecter of your faith. (Hebrews 12:2) Camp out with Him! There is VICTORY to be found in Jesus.


2) Put yourself on a steady diet of God’s Word.

This one reinforces point 1 and sets the stage for point 3…


3) Eliminate sugar and caffeine from your diet.

If you are an emotional mess, unable to get ahold of your feelings and words, and if you feel like your body and mind is always stressed along with your heart, take yourself off sugar for awhile. We know that our children melt-down like fools when they’ve ingested too much – is it possible that too much sugar is part of your foolishness as well?

[I host an annual forty day sugar Fast, and the next one is in January. Sign up for my newsletter and stay tuned.]


4) Get some exercise and drink lots of water.

When your body is healthy, your heart and mind will follow. And finally, practically, this one here:


5) “Keep doing the good parenting.”

Amber taught me this one in our book Triggers and I apply it daily… multiple times each day. Galatians 6:9 says it this way: “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we shall reap a harvest if we do not lose heart.”

Moment by moment, gentle response by gentle response, loving affirmation followed by loving correction followed by loving consequence, trip to the park after trip to the park, load of laundry after load of laundry, dishes and dinner and breakfast and dishes and lunch and dishes and still more loving correction…

Muscle through with the spiritual fruit of self-control, and keep parenting well today.

God bless you as you journey out of the dark pit and into the Light!

With the sincerest love,


Triggers-Mockup5If you are in a dark place emotionally right now, and tend to feel like a victim each hard day, I invite you to start this series at the beginning, or sign up to receive any future posts about gentle parenting straight to your inbox. And if you need a practical resource to help you love well rather than react wrong, grab a copy of Triggers: Exchanging Parents Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses along with the Triggers Study Guide to take you deeper into God’s Word – because that’s where transformation truly happens.

Interview with a Renaissance Mom – Krystal Whitten

kw4There’s something about a hand-scripted piece of scripture. All the swirls and colors, all that beauty, work together to bring the Word of God out into the world in a fresh new way. Krystal Whitten, and many of her contemporaries,  remind me of Isaiah 52:7 as I scroll through Instagram and see their scripture art:

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.'” (Isaiah 52:7, ESV)

Blessed are the hands that script good news – publishing peace and salvation, each time they hit “publish” and share their scripture art on social media.



Welcome back to our ongoing series, Interview with a Renaissance Mom. Today I get to introduce you to one of my favorite lettering artists, Krystal Whitten.  Y’all are going to love this sweet creative mom. So let’s get on with it and invite Krystal to share with us a bit about how her family life and faith life and flourishing creative life all work together in this mothering season. I trust that you’ll be blessed!




Please introduce yourself to us by sharing who you are, where you live, and a bit about your kids.


Hey, I’m Krystal Whitten. I was born and raised in the South and currently live in Tampa, FL with my husband Andy and our two children, Pierce (6) and Haven (4). Since it’s summer, my days are full of pool time, Paw Patrol, and popsicles. Ever since my son was born, I’ve had the opportunity of being a stay-at-home mom with a sprinkling of freelance design on the side. But then hand lettering lit me up on the inside, and I discovered a powerful connection between my art and my faith. Within a few short months, I shut down my freelance design business and started working on Scripture art full time. I use “full time” loosely. Meaning, every spare second I had, I worked on improving my craft. A single idea to hand letter a verse for my guest room has turned into a line of greeting cards, art prints, and a prayer journal that point people back to the timeless, life-giving words of Scripture.

As a work-from-home mom, there have certainly been times I longed for a quiet office and 8 full hours to work on projects. God is forever molding me, shaping my attitudes and focus. I’m grateful now more than ever for the opportunity to enjoy my kids and relish their sweet hugs.




At Life Creative we believe that life (and therefore art) morphs as a woman transitions from season to season. This is especially true of creative personalities. What did your creativity look like as a child, throughout school, or into your early adult years before motherhood? And what shape does it take today?


I’ve always had a bent towards creativity. But I struggled with comparison and thought my talents were “less than.” Ultimately, that kept me from pursuing any serious art classes. In school I always enjoyed playing with my handwriting. I spent hours practicing the alphabet in order to change my own style of writing. I drew quotes and verses with markers in fancy bubble letters and taped them to my walls.

In college, I traded in my markers for a Mac and spent the next 10 years on a computer doing graphic design. My first business was designing custom invitations for weddings, parties, and showers, and I loved creating party decorations to fit a theme. I’ve dabbled in everything from sewing to embroidery to painting furniture to upholstery to making pallet signs.

But hand lettering was the hobby that captured my heart and wouldn’t let go. It’s the only thing I’ve done that’s never felt like work.



In the busyness of motherhood it can be hard to find the place and the space to fit your passions within the practical places of family life. Where and when have you carved out the time to create in your busy days?


In the early days of freelancing, I worked during nap time. That bought me about 4 hours a day to devote to my projects, and that time was golden. As my children have grown, I’ve had to be flexible and realize that my work time will look different with each stage. My daughter, bless her, still takes naps at 4 years old. So I eek out 1-2 hours of work while she naps and my son has “quiet time.” He spends a bit of time playing or reading, and I’ve also learned to welcome him into my office to color or draw beside me.

In this season, I’ve also learned to do activities together in the morning hours, and then in the afternoon I don’t feel guilty letting them watch a couple shows while I squeeze in an hour of creative time before dinner. This fall, they will both be in school, so my work time and family time will have more distinct boundaries.

Regardless, it’s a process I’m constantly praying God will help me with because the balance is hard.




We believe that God purposed our creativity to be one of the vehicles through which we respond to the Great Commission call on our lives. How has God given you opportunity to share His love with others through your creative gifts?


Two years ago this month I created an Instagram account for my newfound hobby, hand lettering. I wanted to practice lettering and share the goodness of the Lord at the same time. I created the hashtag #letterfortheLord because my main purpose for sharing my lettering was to make much of Him. I also began to a share my heart very transparently about my own struggles and spiritual growth. That seemed to strike a cord with people. Sometimes it was scary to put myself out there so openly, but God has blessed the obedience. People will message me and tell me how these posts have inspired them to get serious about the Lord and pursue knowing Him on a deeper level. That’s so humbling to hear. God has opened doors for me to share lettering and faith with thousands of people on social media as well as teach lettering classes in my home church and community. He’s inspired me to host Instagram lettering challenges with Scripture themes around the Gospel message and the promises of God. And just recently, I signed a contract with a publisher to write a book about this very topic!





We spend our days caring for “our most beautiful creations” but there are other creations we long to pen, sing, paint, stitch and bake. It’s hard to embrace any other dream during this dream-come-true season of mothering. Share one of your dreams with our readers.


My dream is to build a thriving line of beautiful paper and gift products and to see my products in stores. I’ve come to realize there aren’t many designers doing much with Scripture in the independent stationery market, so I’m going out on a limb here. But I firmly believe there’s a market for special, modern-designed cards to send to a friend who needs her soul watered with the Word. From the outside, it may look like I have a thriving business already, but I still consider it to be in the infant stages, needing a lot of tending and time, being just one step away from not existing at all. I trust God’s timing is perfect. I trust He planted these business dreams in my heart. So I’m also trusting Him with the pace of its growth and the season I’m currently in.




Share with us one of your “creative crushes” – another artistic mom who inspires you and an explanation why.


My creative crush right now is Whitney English. Her entrepreneur story is impressive and inspiring. But more than that, ever since Instagram Stories came along, I’ve been watching her, and I love her unaffected personality, her ability to laugh during a live broadcast when her kids act up (something that always makes me sweat), and her down-to-earth nature. I’d love to meet her one day and hear all about her journey as a wife, mom, and business owner.




If you had one piece of advice to leave us with, concerning this awkward dance between faith, family and the flourishing arts, what would it be?


First, let me say I feel completely inadequate to answer this question since I’m in the throes of this tension right now. I think my best piece of advice is to try and look at your children with fresh eyes everyday. Remember that Christian parenting is gospel ministry. You’re tending to their hearts as well as their boo boos. Maybe that perspective will help when you’re interrupted for the 10th time in 10 minutes, or when you can’t seem to complete a project.

One other piece of advice is to communicate with your spouse. Spouses won’t understand our need for alone time and creative space unless we tell them about it. My husband and I have had many long (tearful – me) conversations about the “need to create” and this awkward tension of (#blessed) responsibilities. He is now my best advocate and problem-solver for finding creative space during crazy weeks. You can’t help someone if you don’t know their needs, and this is a perfect example. And you know what? Those little bits of creative time make me a better mom and wife. Communication is key!



Where can we find more of your work and connect with you online?


My website is That’s where you’ll find my blog and online shop. If you’d like to give hand-lettering a try, check out my lettering prayer journal. And I’d love to see you over on Instagram and Facebook @krystalwhitten, and I share regularly on there.




ruthchousimonslifecreativegracelaced-comThis series was inspired by the book Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom, by Wendy Speake and Kelli Stuart.

We hope you enjoyed getting to know Renaissance Mom, Krystal Whitten! Make sure to visit her shop. I cannot recommend her cards highly enough! (I bought her Father’s Day cards for every dad I know this year!) I’m also crushing on her lettering prayer journal. 

Stay tuned for more “Interviews with a Renaissance Mom”sign up here so you don’t miss this fun and ongoing series!


Patina – A poem about marriage and classic cars

View More:


Matty B, that’s what we call him.

The other day I was penning a letter to his father and wrote, “Your son’s a good dad… but he’s a wonderful husband.” I don’t know what he’ll think about that, but it’s what I mean. Parenting is hard, but marriage, for us, somehow just came naturally.

16 years ago, right about now, we were planning a wedding without really knowing each other at all. We didn’t have time for that, living long-distance, eager to get started. So we planned a wedding in 11 weeks, 1,600 miles apart.

One day on the phone (a phone that plugged into the wall,) he asked me if it was crazy what we were doing… getting married without really knowing one another. And I said, “Not any crazier than what most of our grandparents did when they met and married and made the commitment to love each other till death parted them. I’m sure there will be things about you that will be hard, but I’m going to marry all of you.”

And I did, after less than a dozen dates.

One of the many things I didn’t know was how much this Texan loved classic cars, or how my home state of California would suit him so well. Or what a good dad he would be to our three sons… or what a wonderful husband he’d be to me.


Patina graphic


by Wendy Speake


Rambling down the asphalt

toward home,

the boys hear him coming –

whoop and holler

feel him coming.

The rumble of a V-8.


Round the last bend

and down the drive,

dry Santa Ana winds blowing

salt and pepper hair back

till it’s almost gone.

He only grows more handsome.


He used to boast that the men in his family

all had thick hair.

But his isn’t so,

not anymore.

Perhaps driving with the top down,

hot winds whipping youth away.


Parked in the drive, turning the key off.

Sitting for an extra moment,

breathing the scent of the road,

old leather and gasoline.

Jasmine flirting with orange blossoms.



I walk from the house

to meet him.

It’s his favorite part

of coming home.

He looks at me smiling.

Dry fine lines pinch around his eyes.


“Patina” He says.


“It’s the patina I love about this car.”

The thin layer of rust and grime that shows

authentic age,

authentic living.

“She’s all original,

that’s what patina means.”


And my hips swing wider than they once did,

as I make my way to the driver’s side door.

Hair undone.

I kiss him

as the boys whoop and holler.






My Boys – they’re not so little anymore

My boys are growing up, and always want to be on the move now, so I filled our summer schedule to the brim. The teenager is especially fond of chasing fun. Slow days at home grow tiresome for him. But in the midst of all the going, I’m holding tight to the not so distant past, and all the memories of slow afternoons doing crafts and playing dress-up and eating popsicles when they were small.

Tonight I came across a sweet little journal entry from four years ago, and it made me all weepy. I just had to share it here, for those of you still knee deep in park dates and naptimes.




(March 2014) The other night I peeked in on my middle-est, long after he was supposed to be asleep. Instead of sleeping he was playing, propped up on his elbow, adjusting the 30-some mini-figures on his nightstand. As he worked he sang quietly to himself, “I won’t grow up… I don’t want to go to school… just to learn to be a parrot… and recite a silly rule…”

I’ve been thinking of the story of Peter Pan lately myself. My name is Wendy. And the name Wendy was first imagined, penned and introduced to the world by Scottish novelist and playwright J.M. Barrie. Audiences in England and America alike fell in love with Peter, the boy who never grew up, and Wendy, the lost boys’ play mother.

Standing on the cusp of a new season, I’ve been thinking of Wendy Darling and her lost boys. How dear she was to them, to darn their socks, tell them stories and put them to bed at the end of their adventurous days. While I don’t darn my boys’ socks, (I buy new ones at Target), I know the sweetness of story books and bedtime kisses on soft faces.

In the end, Wendy Darling returned home to England at the end of her adventure in Neverland, she didn’t stay a little mother for ever. And my season with littles is coming to an end as well.




A few weeks ago my littlest guy, in his last days of five, went to his friend Rosie’s birthday party. He found her a pretty necklace with her initial spelled out in rhinestones, and wrapped it in white paper that he then painted with pink and purple hearts. The day before the party Rosie told Asher that she’d be wearing a princess dress to her party, so Asher came home and immediately went digging through his dress up bin.

I watched at the party as the two of them played with other children; chasing balls, blowing bubbles, and spinning hoola-hoops around their tiny middles. And the thought occurred to me, this may be the last time he asks to have a lightening bolt painted on his face! This may be the last time ANY child of mine plays, unashamed, in a knight costume in front of strangers.


This imaginative, smiling, cookie eating, sippy cup toting season is indeed coming to an end. And my heart feels the pang.




Sweet Potato Pie is right!


And yet it’s all close enough to remember the scratchy constant noise of that annoying toy, and my concern over feet on the kitchen table. Oh to go back and smell his sweet cheerio scented neck and hold his miniature pants, and here the scratchily-scratch of that obnoxious battery-operated toy.

Slow down, Mamas. Slow it down.



Say Yes

Say yes to markers and crayons and water colors and sticker books and PJ’s until noon. Keep a tub of cookie dough in the fridge and say YES as often as you can. Tickle backs at bedtime, even when you’re eager for your own back to rest. And take plenty of pictures. Take pictures, but not at the expense of making memories. Make memories and make popsicles and make memories of those popsicles melting down arms and dripping off elbows on hot summer days. And say yes to the sprinklers, though you already did today. Say yes again. Push them high on swings and say yes to caterpillars and frogs. And let them wear their Yoda years everywhere they go for two years straight, because one day they won’t fit and you’ll be washing them and folding them up and putting them away into a bin of memories.




Wendy Darling knows the fine art of raising boys, but also when the end of a season bids her farewell. I’m standing there today. So say yes in my honor today, when your child asks you to get down on the floor and play legos. Say Yes.

Summer Exercise Challenge

Welcome back to our ongoing summer series: BOYS. 

I have a soft place in my heart for boys, and for the moms who are raising them. Check out some of my other summertime boy-posts here.

Boys-summer banner


During the summer our boys play a lot… everyday. As a matter of fact, this morning they tumbled out of bed and into the pool before breakfast, and I’m typing this short post out just moments before we head to the beach for the afternoon. However, like the rest of their breed, there are plenty of afternoons when they’ll whine over boredom and complain, “Why can’t I just watch tv and play video games all summer? All my friends get to….”

{I don’t think so.)

Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of couch-time in the summertime here in our world, but on the days we are home and lazing about, before they do any TV watching or video gaming each boy must read for half an hour and do a minimum of three dad-approved exercises.

The boys have a list that includes:

  • 25/25/25 – shorthand for 25 sit-ups, 25 push-ups, and 25 squats (50/50/50 for the teen boy)
  • 25 laps in the pool (50 for the teen)
  • 15 minutes boxing on the bag in the garage
  • 15 minutes on mom’s elliptical machine
  • 2 sprints up the hill behind our home
  • 3 laps around the property – with 25 jumping jacks each time they pass the driveway
  • 5 minutes treading water (20 minutes for the teenager)


Over the course of the next 12 weeks, the boys must do a minimum of 3 exercises a day for a total of 240 workouts – this goal does not take vacations and guests into account, which means there are plenty of days they’ll need to double-up to make it to the finish line. Once they hit their goal they receive 50 dollars! (You read that right) However, if they decide to take the challenge to the next level, they can work their tails off and aim for 480 exercises in the next 12 weeks, and earn $100.

We’ve printed up this list of exercises, and given them a posterboard to keep track of their exercises each day. Last summer our oldest and youngest got very competitive and earned as many as 15 points before 9Am some mornings!

Again, as with our reading challenge, the whole idea is to get you thinking creatively to keep the boys busy and healthy this summer, flexing their muscles and their minds!




How do you incentivize your kids to keep their minds and bodies busy in the lazy summer months?

Don’t miss next week’s Summertime post, all about getting your sons into God’s Word. Sign up here, and we’ll send it straight to your email inbox.

Wendy Speake — Welcome To My Living Room

It's an odd modern age, when we meet together in digital Living Rooms, delving deep over a virtual cup of tea. So let me invite you in, as I would at my open front door, and say: “You are welcome here."


If you purchase one of my books using the affiliate links above, my ministry will receive a small monetary compensation at no extra cost to you — thanks in advance!


Play Nice Policy

Play Nice Policies