What Can Be Gained By Silence

“We need to find God, and He cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature—trees, flowers, grass—grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence. We need silence to be able to touch souls.” Mother Teresa of Calcutta

There’s nothing I love more than a rainy weekend morning. As Sloth tells Millie, in Into the Free, the rain is God’s way of telling us to slow down and pay attention. Or, as Mother Teresa understood, it’s an opportunity for us to find God in the silence.

We not only learn the most in these quiet moments, we may say the most at these times too. This is something St. Francis of Assissi pointed out many moons before us: “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”

When do you feel most connected with God?

When do you feel you are most able to share the work of God with others?

How does your family take advantage of rainy days?



About the Roma: Are There Really Kings and Queens?

If you visit Rose Hill Cemetery in Meridian, Mississippi, you’ll find the marker for Kelly Mitchell is inscribed with the words, “Queen of the Gypsies.” She was identified in that way by her husband (whose marker says “King”), and local historians say that many Romani people still visit Kelly’s grave to leave coins, trinkets, and gifts for their queen.

However, Dr. Ian Hancock, Professor at The University of Texas at Austin,  argues that there is no royal structure for the Roma and that the Mitchells would have not been an actual King and Queen. When I asked him why they have been reported as such throughout history, he kindly explained.

“In our language, the words for ‘king’ and ‘queen’ are thagar and thagarni.  They are not applied to any role within Romani culture, but to non-Romani kings and queens. The word for a leader is a baro. One can imagine Roma coming into a town, and being approached by the locals, perhaps the police chief, who asks to speak to the leader. He’ll ask the leader what is his title, and be told ‘baro’, which isn’t English, or perhaps be told ‘king’ since from the Romani point of view that is the English word for the top person. It began as a translation problem, but was quickly romanticized because of the literary ‘Gypsy’ image. From a king, the jump to a queen and a princess is easy. But these are not Romani concepts.”

Learn More about the Romani people by exploring some of the following online links:

The Romani Archives and Documentation center (RADOC) http://www.radoc.net/

Voice of Roma: www.voiceofroma.com

American Gypsy (Documentary): www.americangypsy.com

Photographs by Rana Halprin – Roma from California to Italy, over the past 25 years www.photomythology.com

Little Dust Productions (film by Roma about Roma) www.littledust.com

Meet My Agent: Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson, President of WordServe Literary

If there’s one person in this universe who has made the biggest impact on my life (other than family of course), it’s Greg Johnson, literary agent with WordServe Literary. He signed me as a client when I first pitched my children’s books to him about five years ago, and then he took my novel and ran with it.

If you’re looking for a loyal agent with a long track record of successful contracts, particularly in the CBA market, learn more about Greg and his partner Barbara Scott by visiting www.wordserveliterary.com.




Day 21: Good Morning, Love!

image from frostmeblog.blogspot.com

Rise and shine! It’s time to put a little love in those tummies with this terrific idea from frostmeblog.com . Simply unroll refrigerated cinnamon rolls and reshape into hearts. Bake as directed and wait for the smiles!

Day 20: Add a Little Magic to the Bathtub

image from pinterest.com

Who says elves don’t take baths? Reindeer too? This is how they bathe in the North Pole! Drop dollarstore glowsticks into the water and dim the lights for an absolutely polar-ific tubtime!


Day 10: Snow Day! With or Without Snow

There’s nothing like a family day in the snow. If you’re lucky enough to live in snowy climates this season, try these fun ideas. If not, make indoor snowballs by stuffing white socks with fiberfill or cotton balls. Stitch a simple seam and let the games begin! (Or, just roll a ball of socks and go with the no-sew version…kids don’t care.)

Make a snow angel. Add members of your snow angel family.

Image from forty-twowords.blogspot.com

Build a snow fort. Challenge the neighbors to a family face-off.

Go sledding or tubing. No hills? Try pulling a sled behind a four-wheeler….works great for us here in Mississippi! We call it redneck sledding, and I can assure you…it’s FUN!

Paint the snow. Just add food coloring to water until you get the color you want, and then allow kids to spray away using simple spray bottles. Visit craftknife.com for more ideas with snow paint.

Image from morganton.com

Build original snow sculptures. My kids have built snow caterpillars, painting each ball a separate color and adding sticks as antennae and rocks as facial features. Other favorites have included mini-snowmen, bunnies, and angels.

Photo by Masashi Mochida

Toss Snowballs. Even Japanese macaque know it’s fun to have a snowball fight, as seen here on fooyah.com

It’s too early. I never eat December snowflakes. I always wait until January.” 

“They sure look ripe to me.”

Catch snowflakes on your tongue. They’re ripe. I promise.

Image from Allrecipes.com

Make snow cream. Nothing tastes better to a kid than magical snow cream, a good ol’ fashioned recipe that has stood the test of time. Try this one from allrecipes.com


  • 1 gallon snow
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups milk

When it starts to snow, place a large, clean bowl outside to collect the flakes. When full, stir in sugar and vanilla to taste, then stir in just enough milk for the desired consistency. Serve at once.

Image from Family Fun

Still no snow? Make Snow Dough! Use this old standby recipe for homemade playdough, but instead of food coloring…add glitter, as suggested by Bird and Little Bird. You might even want to add a drop or two of peppermint extract.


1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 cup boiling water
1 Tablespoon cooking oil
1/2 teaspoon food coloring


Mix the dry stuff, then the wet stuff and then mix it all together.  “Dough” easy!

Now go thaw out with a mug of hot cocoa, topped with miniature marshmallow snowballs, of course.


WooHoo! 50,000 Hits on Blog!!!

Thanks to each of you for visiting my blog. We’ve reached 50,000 hits!!



Books Kids Will Love

If you’re struggling to find books your kids will love to read, check out these great resources.

Read Kiddo Read!  Author James Patterson hosts a website with great recommendations for children’s books. You can search age and genre to find the perfect picks for even your most timid readers: http://www.readkiddoread.com/home

Guys Read, Too! Here’s another one of my absolute favorite resource sites for books my son will like: http://www.guysread.com/ This site is geared for parents of boys who just can’t find anything they really want to read.

Or…They Listen! We all know some kids process auditory information better than visual. That’s one of the many reasons it helps children to hear us read aloud to them. But…even the best days don’t always allow as much time as we’d like to read aloud to our kids. That’s where this great site comes in: http://library.booksontape.com/guyslisten.cfm. Here,  you can listen to a huge collection of online library audiobooks for free!

Try letting your reluctant reader listen along as s/he turns pages of the book you’ve actually checked out from you own local library. Don’t let this replace quality family storytime, but it’s a great reinforcement activity to build your kids’ interest in literacy.



*Photo Source: http://www.afprovidence.org/

Earth Day for Kids

Help little ones celebrate our beautiful home on Earth Day, April 22, and beyond.

  1.  Sing songs such as, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” or “Deep and Wide” and talk about God’s amazing creations.
  2. Let younger children act out different animals. One fun way to do this is to spread out a sheet on the ground and let them all stand on the sheet. Pretend you are in an elevator going up and down to different floors. When you reach the destination, announce “Elephant Floor!” Everyone gets off the elevator and acts like an elephant for a minute or two. Then call “All Aboard!” and move on to another floor. Try tigers, ants, puppy dogs, and monkeys. Tip: Before ending the game, transition by entering the whispering floor, the tiptoeing floor, and finally, the napping floor.
  3. Older children can spread a large sheet of paper and draw or paint the rain forest. Learn about endangered animals such as sea turtles, bald eagles, and manatees.
  4. Don’t forget to encourage your family to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

“Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them.” – Psalm 111.2  (NIV)

Quick and Easy Craft Fun

Out of money, time, and ideas to keep those little hands busy today? Grab a stash of pipe cleaners or a roll of aluminum foil and encourage your little ones to create balls, angels, monsters, animals, or any imaginary creature they can design.

Foil can be folded, crumpled, drawn on, etched into, or torn into a wide array of structures. With a few bends and twists, pipe cleaners are the ultimate art tool. Get creative. Have fun. And see what you can create as a family with these common, inexpensive household items.

Happy Creating!