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FAMILY/ Featured/ Kids/Family/ Parenting

3 Reasons Why You Should Let Your Teenager Have A Messy Room


I have 3 teenage girls, and I am super surprised that as a parent, I am at peace with all 3 of them having a messy room.  Does this mean their rooms are always messy? Well, honestly it depends on their personalities. They all 3 eventually get to a point where they can’t stand the mess anymore and give into choosing to pick it up. But that time frame differs for each of my girls, depending on how organized they like to be & how they are wired.  I have been shocked at times to see how long it can take for them to get to the point of picking up their room!

My pastor is the one who is responsible for the peace I have found in just shutting their doors and moving on. I am so glad I was there the Sunday he talked about parenting and gave some practical tips.  I don’t remember much from that sermon, accept the tip that surprised me the most, and that was to allow your teenager to have a messy room.



3 Reasons Why It is OK For Teens To Have a Messy Room:


It Is A Place For Them To Just BE

This was the main reason he gave for letting your teen have a messy room, and the one that really hit home with me.  He said that in this day and age our teenagers are under immense pressure to perform, everywhere they go.  Social media has taken this to the extreme, where teens are constantly feeling the pressure to be ‘on’ & to present the best of themselves to the world. Presenting self authentically in such a public space is something I talk about often with my girls, recognizing it is a hard thing to grasp for adults, much less for a teenager.

I love this tip that my pastor gave, to give teens a space in this world that they can call theirs, where they can totally exhale and be who they are with no pressure to perform. What better place to do this than in their own bedrooms?

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5 Minute Fridays/ FAMILY/ Kids/Family/ Leaving A Legacy/ Parenting

Oh She Glows



Participating in Lisa-Jo’s 5 Minute Fridays. 5 minutes to write about one word. Unedited.



Her face had lost its usual bloom.  My words had cut.

Radiance, luster, sheen, glow.  This is her default face.

How easy it is to spew words in frustration and irritation.  Teenage years can bring out the worst in us Mama’s.

Oh to remember the true Gardener & how He cares.  Patient, gentle, always tending.  Aware.

She is resilient & responds well to apologies.  Her forgiveness quick, light returns.

Her essence goes out to all around, eyes slant and twinkle like her Daddy’s

She complains that they disappear when she smiles.

It is my favorite.


If only she could see how she glows, how light shines bright, even through cracks.

Her beauty mesmerizes me at times; cheeks pink, lashes long, that beautiful smile.

Her inner beauty blooming, taking shape, opening to all she was created to be.

This creation, I created with the help of the Creator.

I think of her and I too, glow.


Emotional Health/ Kids/Family/ Parenting

Going There — Mental Illness


May is mental illness month, and I couldn’t be more pleased about that. I’ve been wanting to write this post all month–leave it to me to procrastinate until the very end of the month!

Mental illness has become a subject that I have become passionate about.  I am passionate about awareness.  I am ready to join the brave voices already talking about it.

Where does this passion come from?  I myself have fought an anxiety disorder for years, and for way too long– especially in the evangelical community that I identify myself with– it has been something that is not talked about very openly  Until now.

I see a movement.  I see people getting real with others, opening up about pain and sickness in their lives.  I see people finding hope and healing in these conversations that are taking place, and I want to be a part of that.  I have been part of that at some women’s conferences I have spoken at, and these said moments are some of the most meaningful of my whole life.  Women opening up, exposing their struggle or the struggle of their loved ones, finding hope in each others stories, & trading tried and true ways to get through the many obstacles mental illness creates.

It is about time there is more openness on the subject. Here is why, from

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 60 million Americans experience a mental health condition every year – that’s one in four adults and one in ten children. People of every race, age, religion or economic status are affected. Whether we are aware of it or not, we all know someone who is living with some form of mental illness.

My passion also comes from watching some of my closest family and friends suffer.  Some in silence. Some publicly. Some sharing with only the closest of friends. Some too young to even know there is a stigma associated with the label of mental illness– quite frankly–these young ones are the bravest and most inspiring.  A young teen, one so dear to my heart, who in a matter-of-fact way says “I have bi-polar, but I’m learning how to live with it.  It does not define me.”  Words of truth from the mouth of babes.

I will get into my own journey with an anxiety disorder in coming posts, but for today, I want to address those of us who are called the Church.

Pastor Rick Warren, who lost his precious son to the disease of depression & suicide, was recently on The View.  I set my DVR to record it, as I was very interested in what he had to say and I know he shares this passion of mine to help the church see we are missing the boat when it comes to caring well for those who suffer with mental illness.  I hung on ever word of his.

Here is the entire segment from ABC.  Pastor Warren and his wife talk about marriage, which really is priceless {grin–you gotta watch it to get that comment} and towards the end he talks about his son’ mental health, and how the evangelical community needs to do a better job at loving and understanding those who are suffering.

Here are some of my favorite things Rick Warren has said:

“There is no shame in diabetes, there is no shame in high blood pressure, but why is it that if our brains stop working, there is supposed to be shame in that?” said Warren, who said the family kept Matthew’s illness a secret from the public not because of shame, but “because it was his own story to tell.”

“There’s no shame when any other organ in your body fails, so why do we feel shame if our brain is broken?”

“If a bird falls and breaks its wing, we don’t say to it,””read your Bible and pray until you get better”” no, we fix its wing”

‘It’s OK. I’m not OK, you’re not OK, but that’s OK because God’s OK.’”

And these heartbreaking words about their son:

“Our hilariously funny, immensely creative, intensely compassionate son struggled to make sense of his life and the mental pain he was experiencing. His anguish was our anguish,” Rick and Kay Warren wrote in a recent Time op-ed. “On April 5, 2013, impulse met opportunity in a tragic way. Our beautiful son ran into the unforgiving wall of mental illness for the last time.”

Mental illness is a complicated matter, but it is a matter that needs to be talked about.  There are too many suffering, especially our young people, with parents at their wits end not knowing what the best decision is for their children.  An estimated 20 percent of U.S. teenagers have some mental-health irregularity, including 10 percent who have some behavior or conduct disorder, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.  If there is history of mental illness in both sides of the family, the chances of  children suffering is multiplied and extremely high.  Genetics plays a huge part, as does trauma, which means this subject is not going away, and we must keep talking about it.  

Survey results from the Southern Baptist-affiliated nonprofit Lifeway Research, released in September, found that close to half of evangelical, fundamentalist and born-again Christians believe prayer and Bible study alone can solve mental illness. Among Americans as a whole, about one in three shared that view. Nevertheless, 68 percent of Americans said they believed they would be welcome in church if they were mentally ill.

“It’s just not the case that faith or religious belief will inoculate or immunize a person against mental illness,” said Aaron Kheriaty “We want to convince Christians that psychiatrists, religious leaders and mental health advocates, all of us can work hand in hand.”

I personally suffered way too long without the medication I needed due to well-meaning advice from others–  “Have more faith” “Be obedient to Christ, read the Bible more & pray more” ” “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, goodness, & self-control, submit to the spirit” “No meds unless you absolutely cannot get out of bed (I had anxiety, not depression.  I was always able to get out of bed, but walked around sick.)  “The pharmaceutical companies are corrupt, don’t take meds, they don’t work” –all of these things and more were said to me.  I am so thankful I was able to work out details, think clear enough for myself & along with God’s direction (can’t wait to tell you the story of this) of what medication my body needed to make me able to be who God created me to be.  My true self.

I am eager to write more on this topic in coming posts.

What are your thoughts?  Do you know someone with mental illness? How do you feel the church is doing with those who are suffering with mental illness?


FAMILY/ Leaving A Legacy/ Parenting/ Spiritual

My 3 Girls Minus Their Curls & True Beauty

I love #throwbackthursdays.  It is so great to reminisce and look back at what a beautiful life I have been blessed with and just how precious every moment has been.
This photo was taken in the late summer of 2009, right after I gave my girls their back-to-school haircuts and took the time to straighten out their curls.  We even put fun chunky low-lights in Teagan’s hair that day, which was a big, fun deal to her at age 10!
Little did we know that their Mommy would also be ‘minus her curls’  and would get quite the haircut exactly a year later, in late summer 2010.  Chemotherapy is not so kind in giving the best of haircuts, but it did teach me that hair is just hair, change is ok, and outward beauty is shown in so many different ways, and comes from the inside.
My 3 lovelies are now 11, 13 & 14.
They are key ages, building their identity and embracing who God made them to be. I watch their beautiful lives and their struggle to resist the message this world gives them that beauty is all-important. It bombards them, in their face everywhere they turn.  This society they are growing up in is so messed up, unfair, and full of lies in defining true beauty.  Let us speak truth just as loud!

To my 3 sweet lovelies:

I swoon every time I look at you. You are all 3 so very beautiful inside and out.
Oh how I want you to see this!

If only I could hold up mirror that only allowed you to see yourself how God sees you. He sees you through the filter of His Son’s sacrifice.  No flaws, pure, washed, lovely, made in His image.  His amazing creation, one that He smiles at & rejoices over!

In the above verse, Proverbs 31:30, it talks about the woman who fears the Lord is the woman who is to be praised for her true beauty.

This fear is not:

“dreadful anxiety in which someone is frightened by the clear and present danger that is represented by another person. It’s not the kind of fear that a slave would have at the hands of a malicious master who would come with the whip and torment the slave. Servile refers to a posture of servitude toward a malevolent owner.”

Rather, it is a fear that:

refers to the fear that a child has for his father… a child who has tremendous respect and love for his father or mother and who dearly wants to please them. He has a fear or an anxiety of offending the one he loves, not because he’s afraid of torture or even of punishment, but rather because he’s afraid of displeasing the one who is, in that child’s world, the source of security and love. {source}

God is your security.  He is pure and true love.  He only wants what is best for you and has a plan for you that is beyond what you can imagine!  He wants to smother you with gifts & moments of pure delight, and give you a peace that is hard to comprehend until you experience it.

This is what I want you to fear…fear missing out on your Creator’s best for you!  Draw close to Him and get to know Him so well that you will KNOW how beautiful and lovely He is, and how beautiful and lovely YOU are.

We are girls and it is a delight to straighten curls or make them bounce.  It is much fun to polish nails and make a skirt float as we twirl.  There is freedom in these things and so much girly fun!

But…when those fun things are used to cover up pain or dislike for ourselves, there is no longer fun freedom.

When you look at your own physical blemishes and scars, may it remind you of how Jesus has scars, and those scars are what frees us from any shame and guilt that we place on ourselves.  When you see your imperfections, remember who made you and Who delights in you, exactly how you are, no matter what.

Run from shame.  Shut down the negative and condemning thoughts. Run from accusation, for we know who the Accuser is.  Flee and don’t listen.

Turn your ear to only truth.  Listen close.  Replace lies with truth. Believe.  Choose to fear God –a healthy fear. Not one that looks for approval, but one who knows the most Famous One fully approves!  Allow this knowledge to gently and continuously push you toward true beauty.

Look Up.
Healthy Fear.
Find Freedom.
Straighten or Bounce a Curl.
Do a Twirl.
I Love You More’n,
Leaving a Legacy
FAMILY/ Healthy Eating/ HOME/ How-Tos/ Organizing/ Parenting/ RECIPES

How To Establish a Balance Between Healthy Recipes and Non-Healthy Recipes For The Family

A Reader Question:
I can’t help but notice all the healthy things you post about and pin, and yet perusing through your pinterest pages I see that you aren’t shy about ‘non-healthy’ recipes as well.  I am starting to try to eat clean but am wanting to find a balance where I can still go on Pinterest and not have to shy away from everything I see and being able to bake with my kids and actually have them enjoy the finished product, etc.  How do you establish this balance for yourself and your family?

My Answer:
Great question!  We save the fun, unhealthy recipes for our Friday Family nights and for birthdays, holidays and special occasions.  On normal days, we still have some sweets, but they are made with healthy ingredients, like the Apple Pie Bites I just posted.  Most of the time the sweetest thing in the house is frozen or fresh fruit which is great, because then the kids will grab it and eat it!  I work very hard at not having junk in the house during the week, but then always make sure we have a treat on the weekend.

Expanded Answer:
We love food around here, so I make a point of finding a balance between healthy eating and less healthy eating.  I feel good about the fact that we eat very healthy during the week, but then indulge on the weekends or during special occasions.  It is amazing how often special occasions come about, so believe me, my kids are not deprived.  If anything they appreciate food and have a healthy understanding of food that is nourishing and food that is not. They also are aware of how good healthy food makes them feel and how crappy they feel after eating too many sweets….not that it stops them from indulging but it makes them appreciate the necessity of good, nourishing food.

I think key to eating clean and healthy is to know what you are eating.  You are already winning the battle if you are eating from home and making things homemade.  This eliminates fast food & processed foods, artificial flavors and colors, and chemical ingredients that are next to impossible to pronounce.
Another key is finding sweet recipes that have ingredients that are profitable for the body and health.  Below are a few great examples, and my Vegan Desserts board on Pinterest has a bunch more ideas.

Our Favorite Healthy Snacks

Lastly, get your kids involved in the cooking and baking process.  Explain to them why honey is better than processed white sugar, and why whole wheat flour is better than white flour.  Get them used to making recipes with wholesome ingredients and talk about what each of those ingredients will do for the body–i.e. nuts…they have lots of protein that help build strong muscles and give energy!  
My girls are so used to cooking in a mindful manner that this Thanksgiving my 10 year old was appalled at how much sugar we used to make a Cranberry Cake.  It was 1 1/2 cups, and I love that she noticed that it was not the way we usually bake treats.  We also made Potato Casserole and she had NO IDEA what cream of chicken soup was.  I never buy it, and she just couldn’t understand why anyone would want creamed chicken! Then I told her it was really just flavored like chicken, which she very dramatically responded “eww!”  It was a good example to me of how much our eating habits have changed over the years.  A few years ago just about every dinner I made had cream of ‘something’ soup in it…and cheese…and sour cream…and butter.  
Our Not So Healthy Favorite Snacks

Funky Fritos – we make these once a year during football season

I think a balance is important, and I am very comfortable with how we have chosen to eat in our family.  If you are trying to change your family’s eating habits, take it a little at a time, explain why you are making each change as you do, and be patient.  They will eventually adjust and might just start to appreciate mindful, healthy eating.

DIY/Crafts/ FAMILY/ FUN/DIY/ Holidays/Parties/ Parenting

An Imperfect Perfect Thanksgiving Day Pennant Banner

I am almost 2 weeks out from surgery, and I’m feeling pretty well!  I am sleeping great, off all pain relievers, and have just a bit of stiffness/soreness in my chest muscles and what used to be my right drain site. It is so great to feel good again.

Something I have learned from cancer and cancer treatment is how ridiculous perfection is.  I am a recovering-almost recovered- perfectionist.  Cancer takes the perfectionist tendency and really just steals it away.  That is one thing cancer has taken from me that I am more than willing to let it keep!  Nobody is perfect, and it is so freeing to just let go of needing and wanting things to be done just so.

This Thanksgiving Day Pennant Banner is just a small example of giving up perfection, and a great example of the rewards and sweetness letting go of perfection brings.

I was scrolling through my Thanksgiving Holiday Pinterest Board, and found this pin with the most beautiful Thanksgiving Pennant from View Along The Way. This was when I was still in a lot of pain from surgery, and knew there was no way I was able to make it, even though it is described as “easy.”  The old me would want it exactly how I saw in the picture.  Not so anymore, so I came up with a plan.

I have a very creative 10 year old Avery, who is always up for a challenge and loves to create.  I wanted a Give Thanks Pennant Banner for my living room/dining room, and I knew she would be the perfect person for the job.  I showed her the pin for inspiration, and told her to create one for me using whatever she wanted, as long as the colors were warm.  I told her to use any color that she would see in the leaves of fall trees.

I loved watching her gather her supplies.  She had pinking shears, markers, gold glitter, plain white paper, a book on how to make fancy letters, and some jute.  I knew I had picked the perfect person for the job.

The above banner is what she came up with.  I think it is the MOST perfect thanksgiving decoration in our home right now.  My heart melts every time I walk under it, and I’m so grateful I have learned to give up on perfection so I can experience what truly is perfect…my daughters sweet, creative love expressed in this beautiful pennant banner.

FAMILY/ Parenting

Daughter Volleyball Update – Purposeful Living

Todd Bowman on purposeful living.

These posts written by Todd (Amy’s husband) are designed to model a system of purposeful living.  At least once a month, he spends time setting meaningful goals around one of seventeen core priorities.

If you missed it, consider reading the foundation post – Purposeful Living #1.

Correct Priority
Priority #5 – Children (Emotional Health)

Support my daughter Colsie in her desire to become a strong volleyball player and join a volleyball team.  Specific things I can do include the items listed below.    

  • Research and purchase an effective youth volleyball instructional video.
  • Thoroughly review the video and develop a volleyball skill development program for Colsie.

Goal Status

wooden figure with a volleyball

UPDATED Thoughts About Goal – August 2013
After a bit of research, I found a fantastic volleyball training series.  This series is perfect for youth to learn foundational techniques.  If you have a youth volleyball player at home, these videos are listed below.

Championship Productions Foundations For Successful Volleyball

Championship Productions Foundations For Successful Volleyball: Setting DVD
Championship Productions Foundations For Successful Volleyball: Individual Defense DVD
Championship Productions Foundations For Successful Volleyball: Passing DVD
Championship Productions Foundations For Successful Volleyball: Attacking DVD
Championship Productions Foundations For Successful Volleyball: Blocking DVD
I purchased these videos, watched them, analyzed them, and came up with a training plan for Colsie.  

We started training, but after a few sessions it became evident that a knee that she injured a few months ago was still giving her significant problems.  After seeing a doctor we were told Colsie needed to stay off her completely, could not play volleyball, and needed focused rehab.

Over the course of three months Colsie did fully rehab her knee and I was ready to get back to work in volleyball training.  There was just one problem – Colsie no longer wanted to play volleyball!  As excited as she was about volleyball just a few months ago, she was now equally unexcited.  

a little girl with changed my  mind bubble

So, there will be no volleyball playing – at least not for now – in the Bowman household.  I am totally okay with it.  We talked about it for a while and I absolutely believe her interests have simply changed.  It happens with children and youth.   

collage of little girls silly eyes

My sixth grade daughter recently communicated a desire to play volleyball.  She has never expressed an interest in sports before, but she assured me this is a genuine interest.  She has been hitting a ball around a lot at school with friends during recess and really enjoys it.

Volleyball is a huge sport in Nebraska with large numbers of children playing from a very young age.  Even playing in a youth recreation league Colsie will be way behind without some help.

My plan is to assist Colsie in the same way I have assisted my other two daughters – Teagan (basketball) and Avery (soccer) – in the sports they play.  I will find quality instructional material, learn the game, and teach Colsie how to play volleyball.  Specifically I am interested in teaching Colsie proper technique, not just the rules of the game.   

I understand the rules of volleyball, but I don’t know the first thing about volleyball technique.  I don’t know the proper way to set, bump, serve, or pass a volleyball.

But I can learn.  The key is finding quality instructional material.  There are many resources, but most of it is junk.  I will find as many websites as I can that sell instructional material, identify DVD’s that focus on technique, read the descriptions and reviews, and then make a purchase.

It was so much easier when it was just Avery playing soccer.  Supporting three girls in their athletic endeavors takes a considerable amount of time.   

But it is a fun way for me to participate in their lives.  And athletics are a fantastic way to build resiliency in children.

It is worth my time. 


Build Your To-Do List Around Correct Priorities – Purposeful Living #1

Outline Of All Purposeful Living Posts

Purposeful Living Outline