Dear Young Mom,

I read your posts on Facebook lamenting the fact you have to go back to work leaving your baby. Or you’re wondering how you can keep a clean house, take care of multiple littles and work a job. My heart goes out to you! I want to go to your house, give you a massage, a manicure and pedicure and pour my heart out to you as a former young mom.

My son Chris is 22-years-old but it seems just like yesterday I dropped him off at the babysitter when he was 12-weeks old. I closed the door to my office and cried. One of my co-workers was a mom of a toddler and I cried again in her office. I felt like someone had cut my arm off because I couldn’t hold him, feed him or watch him nap.

I cried again when I had to leave my baby son, Alex and my baby daughter, D’Andra with a babysitter. I told Alex today how I would pay millions of dollars if I had it to go back to that time when he was a baby. While they were babies, I had to deal with this driving discontent to have the career and perfect house.

With each addition, the house got messier and the driving discontent faded away. Today I could care less if I ever get to be a boss or anyone considered doing something significant. I treasure the rare moments that we gather around the dinner table when Alex is home from college or Chris is home from work.

I learned to just enjoy being with my children. One of my favorite things to do was to drop them off at school or pick them up. I loved hearing about their day. Fortunately, I eventually started my own business for a more flexible schedule.

A very wise woman told me when I was frustrated that I couldn’t keep up with everything to let the house go. She said I needed to prioritize my time with my husband and the kids over my house, my job and my church. They came first.

So young moms who feel the pressure from Pinterest or Instagram perfect glam moms to dress perfectly with the designer home and gourmet meals, resist the driving discontent. Let the dirty laundry pile up. Dirty dishes sitting in the sink are okay. You have just this moment with your two-year-old who will grow up into a 22-year-old before you can blink twice. Those years of raising your littles race by mercilessly.

If you can, downsize so your lifestyle isn’t as expensive. Or dream and plan your way to a more flexible job to be available for your littles. If you can’t find a way, God will give you the grace to be the wife and mom you’re called to be. Enjoy your children and your husband. Enjoy life right now.


Why You Should Watch ’13 Reasons Why’

13-reasons-why_0While I was walking towards the edge of Stagg High School, my blond friend, Wanda, breathlessly ran up to me. “We heard you were getting jumped today so I brought Janice and Terry with me.” Janice was a beautiful Hispanic girl who I knew since I was 10-years-old and Terry was a stunning strawberry blond 25-year-old woman who I babysat for.

I was stunned. “Who told you that?” I asked. “It was going around school,” she said. “You’re not going back.”

That was my last day at Stagg High School. I transferred to Lincoln High School until we moved to Hawaii. I was a Freshman in high school. I started my Sophomore year at Waiakea High School hoping for a fresh start from the girls who wanted to fight me. Within a few months I left that school after getting into 3 fights in one day.

I was bullied and this is why I could so relate to Hannah Baker’s ordeal in “13 Reasons Why,” the latest Netflix original and controversial series. My son, Alex, and his best friend, Dominic watched it. The series centers around Hannah who committed suicide after being bullied.

Social media, smartphones and texting didn’t exist when I got bullied. I believe that social media, smartphones and texting have actually amplified bullying to another level that I fortunately never experienced. I remember being grabbed and groped at 12-years-old by boys who thought I would like it. I also remember cussing them out but the objectification, leering, cat calls continued to bombard me.

Although 13 Reasons Why has profanity and some sexually graphic scenes, I highly recommend that parents or anyone who works with youth watch this series. After watching a few episodes, I instantly felt a burden to pray for ministries that I know work with youth such as Reach a Generation, International House of Prayer Kansas City, Every Nation and Victory Tulsa Youth.

This is why you should watch ’13 Reasons Why’ despite the f-bombs and explicit scenes:

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for teenagers.

Fifty-percent of teenagers have reported being cyber-bullied. If you don’t know what cyber-bullying is, you need to click here.

If you’re over the age of 35, you are really clueless as to the extent of social media usage by teenagers. This series will open your eyes to the wild wild west of social media usage via SnapChat, Instagram as well as group texting.

Bullying is way more prevalent than schools will disclose. The schools job is to cover their behinds by protecting the school instead of the student. Forty-nine percent of students in 4th through 12th grades have reported being bullied. The main character, Hannah, disclosed in a tape that she never felt safe and felt constantly alone. Schools are not safe and everyone needs to take responsibility for this situation.

You really really really don’t know what it feels like to be a teenager in our culture right now. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that things haven’t changed that much. Life is much harder for our teenagers today.

If you don’t have a burden to pray for teenagers, you will have one after you watch this.

Maybe churches would make youth ministry a priority following the footsteps of Reach a Generation, International House of Prayer Kansas City, Every Nation and Victory Tulsa Youth.

I believe “13 Reasons Why” should stir a heart cry in you to intercede and reach out to teenagers like you’ve never had before.


Being a Mom Doesn’t Mean You Stop Being Creative (Book Giveaway)

444109Creative moms often feel as though they must lay their passions down once the kids arrive, if for no other reason than there is no time. But God has something special in mind for creative women during this intense season of mothering. In  Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom (Kregel Publications/September 27, 2016/ISBN 978-0-8254-4410-4/$14.99) authors Wendy Speake and Kelli Stuart show that “a mother’s natural bent toward imagination doesn’t just wither and die with thebirth of a child. This core component remains part of her intricate design.”
In our social media age of handcrafted children’s parties, artistic Instagram photos, tutorials for renovating old furniture into new treasures and blogs filled with poetry, prose and other expression, clearly a brand-new generation of inspired women is rising up. It is a renaissance born not in Italian cathedrals or Harlem jazz clubs, but in kitchens, nurseries and living rooms around the world. However, when Christian women become mothers, they often feel expected to give up their creative pursuits to parent properly.
Wendy Speake and Kelli Stuart know that struggle. While they acknowledge some seasons of mothering require setting artistic pursuits aside, they also argue these seasons don’t have to last until empty nest time. Instead, mothers with creative gifts are called to use them actively to bless their families, their communities and everyone they encounter. “Life Creative is not a book about raising children,” Speake shares. “This is a book for moms, written by moms and including the stories of other moms . . . on a journey to embrace our God-given design in the midst of motherhood!”
In this book, the creative mom will discover:
  • Why the world needs her art
  • How this Life Creative begins at home
  • When art can turn a profit
  • Her part in this modern day Renaissance
Inspiring and encouraging, Life Creative celebrates the ways mothers can live their art in the midst of mothering. Speake and Stuart share the stories of women such as author and speaker Angie Smith, recording artist Ellie Holcomb and jewelry designer Lisa Leonard, who are balancing their unique talents and giftings with the daily demands of motherhood. By following God’s leading to embrace His gifts, renaissance moms can model the joy of obedience for their families.
Life Creative is part visit with a good friend over coffee, part muse of inspiration for the tired heart and a masterclass for start-up home businesses rolled into one. — by Audra Jennings
Learn more about more about Life Creative at, and join the community on Instagram (@lifecreative).
Advance Praise
“Kelli and Wendy understand that, yes, being a mom is about raising your children. But it’s also about fully being the woman God created you to be and expressing His love like only you can. Their words will support, encourage and cheer you on in the art and adventure of mothering.”
~ Holley Gerth, Wall Street Journal best-selling author of You’re Already Amazing
“Never has there been a time like this for creative and artistic women to embrace the high calling of mother-hood and the unique giftings God has given to each of us. There is indeed a movement – a Renaissance – of the creative woman, the creative mom. I’m grateful that Wendy and Kelli have chosen to encourage this generation of women, right now, to embrace their God-given creativity and steward it to the glory of God. This book is right on time.”
~ Ruth Simons, artist and writer,
About the authors
Wendy Speake is a trained actress and heartfelt teacher. She ministers to women’s hearts through storytelling and life applications, utilizing drama, comedy, poetry and the study of God’s Word. During her career in Hollywood, on shows such as JAG, Melrose Place, Star Trek Voyager and Roswell, Speake found herself longing to tell stories that edify and encourage women. She is the author of Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses (BRU Press, 2015). Speake is a wife and homeschooling mother of three boys.
If you would like a free copy of this book, post below how you stay creative as a mom. Winner will be picked from posts. 😀


Kansas City Gang Leader Finds Redemption

9781424551927The newly-released Millenial Orphan (Broadstreet Publishing) by Levi Gideon Shepherd is a heart-breaking poignant portrait of God’s redemption while growing up in Kansas City and the failure of the Missouri Social Services system. Levi was raised by a single mom in the rough parts of East Kansas City. After overcoming cancer, his mom died, sending him into a life of chaos, betrayal and abuse. Abandoned by his family, Levi went through a string of abusive foster homes and psychiatric hospitals. His dream of becoming a paratrooper for the U.S. Army was shattered by a medical discharge.

With no hope and tormenting voices of pain, Levi spiralled into a life of becoming a gang leader. There were a few bright lights along the way with adults who saw through the pain and torment in his soul. Mrs. Boyden and Officer Jon Chapman rescued him from his abusive foster father. Ozanam, a treatment center for children with psychiatric disorders, brought several caring adults into his life who saw through the pattern of abuse that sent him into psychiatric care.

What’s disturbing is how the state of Missouri’s social services department let him stay in these abusive homes.

“After that first blow that night by the barbecue, the gloves came off. There was something – from somewhere in his past – that rose like a malovent demon. Perhaps I was a reminder of wrongs done to him in his past or wrongs he’d done to others, because my very presence in that house set him off. From a constant barrage of derogatory swear words aimed my way to random blows, whatever was lurking in his heart found an outlet on me.” p. 94

Levi’s grades spiraled under the constant abuse and torture. He learned that his tormentor was once a youth minister who lost his credentials after trying to molest a boy. This was the second “Christian” in his life who abused him. The first Christian was a woman who taught Sunday School. The shocking revelations of his tormentor’s record caused him to distrust the system that was suppose to protect him.

“Now it all began to make sense. I was a teenage boy, and I must have reminded him of his past, a past he so desparately wanted to hide. But why in the world had the foster care system let him be a parent? I concluded that that they must have not known – or worse, they didn’t care.” (p. 97)

Levi is sent to Ozanam after attempting to run away from his abuser. Mr. Redding, a counselor, learns about Levi’s situation and asks Social Services to change Levi’s placement. Social Services ignores Mr. Redding’s request and Levi is sent back to live with his abuser.

Mr. Redding is the first person besides his mother and grandparents, to show him unconditional love.

“Mr. Redding was the only person who ‘got’ me, and God used him to save my life.” (p. 107)

I couldn’t put the book down, and you won’t be able to either. Levi shares his story with compassion for children and teenagers living in the same chaotic mess who wonder if God cares. He sees the love of God through the people who bring relief in hard circumstances. Everyone who cares about children and teenagers should read this book.

4 Reasons to Not Drop Out of Church When You Have Multiple Littles


At 6:05pm I just walked into the door from a long day at work and the kids have not been fed. We grab a bowl of cereal and load our toddler into his car seat. His big brother straps himself into the back seat of the van. The van floor is riddled with crumpled wrappers of hamburgers, cheerios and sippy cups.

We’re five minutes from church and Alex got out of his car seat. Again. He is hitting me on the back of the head. We pull over and I put Alex back into his car seat.

We’re exhausted and I’m wondering if hauling two kids on a week night to church is worth the effort. After all, they have school tomorrow morning and I have no idea what they are going to wear. We drop off the boys at their ministries and go into the church prayer service.

We start singing worship songs and refreshing strength surges in me. “Wow I feel good,” I tell my husband, Jerome, standing next to me. He smiles and squeezes my hand. As we worship together, we feel the presence of something bigger and stronger pulling us together.

When we go to pick up the boys from their ministries, they don’t want to go home. They are smiling and talking to their friends. Jerome has to literally pick up Alex and drag him out of the Infant Toddler Ministry. We chat with some of our friends who are in the same boat as we are, struggling to pay bills and bringing their multiple littles to church.

I spent several years in the foyer with my daughter with special needs who struggled to sit still and had issues with the sound. I wondered if it was worth getting her dressed just to get to church so I can stand in the foyer with her. There were many years of tears and frustration with her situation.

Today the squirmy toddler, Alex, who couldn’t stay in his car seat is a worship leader in the youth group. His big brother, Chris, also loves God and helps at church when he isn’t working or going to school. And my special needs daughter, D’Andra, literally runs us over to get to church.

I’ve seen single guys and girls pray for a mate. God answers their prayers and then kiddos show up. Then they quit attending church or drop their participation dramatically because of the struggle of bringing multiple littles. I totally understand the struggle of getting kids cleaned, dressed and ready for church.

But here’s why I encourage you to continue to bring your child to church even though you may need to feed them fast food to get their:

  • You’re establishing the priority of going to church. There are so many benefits of going to church. A 2010 Child Trends’ review indicates that kids from religious backgrounds are less likely to be involved in violence, theft and vandalism or to struggle with substance abuse problems than their peers. Here’s a link to the 10 Benefits of Attending Church. More importantly, the Bible is clear as to how this is a priority for God. “Let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but let us exhort one another, especially as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25 MEV)
  • Your children can develop social skills in a safe, faith-based setting. Church is the perfect place for children to learn how to get along with other people who don’t look like them; how to share and how to carry on a conversation.
  • Your children will learn about God and values that will set a strong foundation for their life. I have never had to have a long, drawn-out conversation with my kids on why they shouldn’t do drugs or commit crime. We’ve touched on those issues but they already have within them teachings and training from years of hearing sermons, delivering sermons themselves and participating in prayer and a faith community.
  • Your children will develop relationships with key people in their community of faith that could mentor them and open doors for them. I know that God brought certain people into my son’s lives that have influenced them as musicians and creatives who want to change the world. Our senior pastor, Steve Gray, has been an incredible example of a passionate creative with a message who is not afraid to experiment and take risks in writing, movie making and music. They have had other models in their life to follow such as Integrity Music recording artist Dustin Smith and Pastor Eric Thomason, another Integrity Music songwriter and artist. If I never brought them to church and they never participated, they would have never made these incredible connections.

So moms and dads of multiple littles, I know how hard it is to get the kids bathed, dressed and fed to get to church. But the benefits far outweigh the temporary season of hardship. Don’t cave into our culture that makes faith secondary to sports, success in business and entertainment. Don’t give into the voices of your family that tell you that you don’t need to bring your kids to church. My heart goes out to you and I pray that God strengthens you and backs you up as you do what is right. Believe me, bringing all the littles to church is well worth the investment.

The Myth of the Dysfunctional Family

A jealous brother murders his brother. A power-hungry son subverts his father’s authority because he wants his throne and his concubine. And another set of jealous brothers sell their brother into slavery.

Welcome to the families in the Bible! These families have murderers and kids that rebel way beyond having an all night party while you’re out of town or taking the family car on a joy ride. Cain killed Abel. Absalom wanted his dad’s concubine and his throne. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery and faked his murder.

Despite the murders and the corruption, God walked with them and talked to them. He warned Cain to not be overtaken by sin. God was a part of their family and He included them in His family. Out of this line of murders that makes a mob family look like a Little House on the Prairie family, comes the savior of the world, Jesus the Messiah.

I love how God doesn’t hold back the dirty, gritty details of the line of Jesus in the Old Testament. I know that I have glossed over my bio dad’s infidelity and propensity to drunkenness because I want to make my family look like a ho-hum average family. Or reinvent my mom’s early years in my childhood when she was prone to taking drugs and having wild parties. I thought I was such a mess because of those early years.

Then I read in the Bible about Cain and Abel, Joseph, Absalom and I think I’ve lived a pretty good life! At least my brother Leo didn’t try to murder me or sell me into slavery. I’m sure he has wanted to do that a few times.

The dysfunctional family is a myth created by psychologists or sociologists to get more clients, more attention and to cast us as victims. I was not a victim of my mom’s wild parties or dad’s foray into drinking alcohol. They both recovered from those seasons in their lives and became followers of Christ.

The dysfunctional family is the normal family in the Bible. This is the family that desperately needs His presence.

How we can be a family without the power of the Holy Spirit working in us is beyond me. I can’t love or lay my life down for my family without the power of God.

In Matthew 1, these women were named as part of Jesus’ ancestors: Tamar, who posed as a prostitute to sleep with her father-in-law; Rahab, another prostitute who hid the Israelites when they were scouting the city for an invasion and Bathsheba, who committed adultery with King David. He also had her husband killed. Clearly their past indiscretions don’t shut these women out of the pedigree of Jesus.

David on his death bed cries out these words:

“Is it not my family God has chosen?
Yes, he has made an everlasting covenant with me.
His agreement is arranged and guaranteed in every detail.
He will ensure my safety and success. “ 2 Samuel 23: 5

God chose David’s family and made a covenant with them. He desires a covenant with your family. Whether good, bad or ugly, He longs to be on the scene. My 17-year-old son preached to me on the way home after church. The next day we got into a knock down drag out fight. We both need God to help us relate to one another.

I don’t expect Christian perfection from my son who is a worship leader. He doesn’t expert perfection from his mom who is an editor of a Christian publication. We know that we both need God to keep us together.

I’ve seen families leave the church because of the shame from a wayward son or daughter. We need to quit judging struggling families and disqualifying ourselves from serving God because of a son or daughter that decides to leave their faith. Ultimately, in this walk of faith, we belong to His family. We are grafted into the same family that comes from a line of prostitutes, swindlers, murderers and many others who had issues that would put them on the Jerry Springer Show. He is part of our family and we are part of His.

So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself.” Ephesians 2:19-20

When God’s Purpose in Your Child’s Life Hurts You

Jacob held the blood-stained robe that he carefully wove for his youngest son. The dreams he had in his heart that Joseph told him were shattered. The dreamer father, who told his sons of his dream of angels going up and down a ladder to heaven, treasured Joseph’s dreams.The second dream of his brothers bowing toward him that Jacob kept in his heart also died. The son of his love, Rachel, was dead. Joseph running after his brothers in the colorful coat was gone.

Joseph was dead and the hopes and dreams that Jacob had for him had died. Joseph was dead to his father but starting his destiny in God. His brothers sold him into slavery, yet God was sending him into His purposes.

God doesn’t ask our permission when we want His purposes to come to pass in our child’s lives. Jacob learned that he had no control over Joseph’s future. Just like Jacob, we need to learn that we have no control over our child’s future.

If God asked you, “I’m going to send your son into a hostile pagan country to be a slave and he will go to prison for something he didn’t do. Is that OK with you?”

What would you say? I wouldn’t want to know if that was in my child’s future. Yet how much do we try to control our child’s future when He alone wants control.

Stripped of his person hood and the coat of prominence, the once favored prince of a tribal king was now a slave. I believe the slave Joseph cried out to the God of Jacob for help. The stories that Jacob told his sons and daughters of God delivering him from death came alive for Joseph.

Maybe the God of Jacob could help Joseph just as He helped his father who was a slave to his grandfather Laban. Maybe the God of his father could prosper him as he prospered his father who was lied to and taken advantage of by his grandfather.

Your child needs their own story with God. These stories thrust Joseph into his own story and his own relationship with God. Abba Jacob wasn’t around to tell him how to love and follow the one he wrestled with. Now Joseph had to wrestle with his own destiny, his own beliefs and questions and his own identity.

Just as Jacob’s dream died for Joseph, I believe that God brings us to a point in time when our dream for our child dies. We have prayers folded into hopes, dreams, desires, decrees spoken over them. We spend hundreds of dollars on lessons and training and we construct an agenda and a plan for our child. And then He steps into the plan and messes it up.

God alone wants to form your child and their future. He steps in and challenges you to trust Him with your child. Trust God that He can reach them and talk to them. Trust God to have His way even when His way makes you cry and wonder if God is even on the scene.

I’ve learned in my miniscule 30 years of walking with God that He is a creator beyond our understanding. He will not be bound by your culture and agenda. He is a craftsman who loves to intricately shape a person that He hides until history calls for him or her.

God will not work for your comfort or convenience but for the purpose of something greater and grander than our small dreams. God doesn’t give Jacob any sign that He would send Joseph into slavery. He gave Jacob clues that Joseph had a prominent calling on his life. But beyond those two dreams recorded in the Bible, Jacob had no idea the ordeal his son would endure to save a nation.

As parents, we must trust God with our child. We think we know God’s calling or purpose in our child’s life but their choice and God’s relationship with them are a heavenly mystery. Only God knows how to form a man and a woman for His purposes. Only God the creator knows how to arrange circumstances and people for His glory. For when a man or woman’s purpose is revealed, He alone wants the glory for His craftmanship and design that display His creative splendor and beauty.

I have dreams for my children and I’ve received prophetic words for them but I must lay them down at the altar and trust God with their lives. Ultimately my children must know Him intimately and I need to get out of the way. I can’t control their lives. My children must have their own story in God.

I pray that you release your son or daughter into the hands of the One who can save and deliver them. Of course I believe that you must do everything you know to do to take responsibility for them by providing safety and security for them. I’m a strong proponent of investing in their spiritual foundation and spending time with them.

But after you’ve spent thousands of dollars, millions of hours and poured out your heart and faith and they come of age where they are legally adults in our culture – your job is done. Release control and trust Him. Jacob had to trust God when he thought his son was dead.

The day that he met Joseph as the second in command of the most powerful nation in the planet is the day that God showed His glory. That day Jacob met Pharoah is the day God’s splendor shined when He fulfilled His promise with them that He would provide. The son who he thought was dead was alive and in charge of the nation’s grain. His son, Joseph, was the savior of the known world.

 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.

So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay. 1You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have.  I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.’ (Genesis 45:7-11)

Joseph tells his brothers that God sent him into slavery to save them. The favor of God sent Joseph into slavery, prison and then catapulted him into the highest office in the land. God’s plan to save Jacob from famine depended on Joseph.

We want our son or daughter to go to college, graduate with a high-paying job, marry and have children. Yet God’s plan may be radically different from your plan. Can you really trust God?

My mom had to trust God when I got kicked out of high school at 16. She had to trust God when I started college at 16 and lived on campus. She had to trust God to protect me and keep me when I wanted to be independent from my parents.

I had a calling from God that I had to answer myself. My mom, my pastor, my counselor couldn’t answer it. I had to answer His calling alone. Release your adult child to answer His call in their own way.

I’ve been going through this myself as I release my 21-year-old son, Chris, and 17-year-old son, Alex, to answer God’s call. I’ve done everything I know to build a foundation of honoring God in their life. Not my will God, but your will be done in Chris and Alex’s life.

Here’s a song that Alex recently recorded call “Purpose,” by Justin Bieber. Justin grew up in a Christian home and although he is a pop star, there is a call from God pulling on his life. Only Justin can answer that call. This beautiful song expresses that sentiment.