Monday, November 28, 2005


“We are not to avoid the Holiday rush. We are to avoid rushing the Holiday.” Rev. Bill Pfohl.

It’s official. The world can be divided yet one more way: those who doorbust and those who don’t.

Surely you’ve heard the term by now. It refers to folks who get up pre-dawn— most notably on “Black Friday”—and literally bust through stores’ doors as they open in the morning for business. This lovely little ritual is just a few years old...and it appears that it’s starting earlier in the day and attracting more and more devotees each year.

As several of my friends engage in this practice, I can’t put it down. My understanding is that those folks who doorbust think it’s the most normal thing in the world; those of us who wouldn’t be caught dead doing so think they are absolutely nuts.

Talk radio on Friday morning was loaded up with discussion on this phenomenon. Shockingly, the calling audience overwhelmingly felt that doorbusting is actually a rather virtuous practice. That is helps teach kids the value of a hard-earned buck. That those who engage in it exhibit perserverance. Work diligently for what they want. Are willing to sacrifice sleep and comfort in order to get it. Are smart spenders. Exercise good stewardship.

Me? It was a mute point, as I needed to get Nick to the doctor for his weekly check-up. Couldn’t have doorbusted even if I wanted to. And I cannot imagine—even in my wildest dreams—the mere thought. Hate crowds. Hate standing in lines. Hate standing in lines in the cold. Hate giving up my morning coffee ritual. Wouldn’t dream of leaving my warm bed in the pre-dawn cold and dark.

I admit, however, to once again feeling overwhelmed by my long shopping list for Christmas and would love—as my doorbusting friends can now boast about—having it nearly finished. Gifts bought, wrapped and ready to ship. I face frustration once again as I contemplate how to most graciously allow the true spirit of Christmas to enter my family’s reality while meeting all of the season’s demands. Of heeding my pastor’s advice in this week’s sermon: “We are not to avoid the Holiday rush. We are to avoid rushing the Holiday.”

Every year, at about this time, I make my gift list, review those of the past few years, and resolve to be more clever, more thoughtful and more efficient. Every year, at about this time, I under-budget the three most important factors—time, money and energy—for getting my act together. And every year, at about this time. I submit to some of the inevitable: mall-shopping, post-office waiting and last-minute ordering. I resolve—year after year after year—to “be better.” And yet, to keep my eye on the ball. To remember that this season of Advent is to help us move closer to the Christ child. To deepen our relationship with Him.

So where does that fit in? Where, amongst the parties and the pageants, the cookies and the cards, does the message of Christmas weave itself into the fabric of these next four weeks? How does one remain true to the message and yet live in consistency with cultural expectations? Gift-giving is one of the mainstays of the Holidays. And yet it exacts an emotional, financial and physical toll. Whether we like it or not.

For whatever they’re worth, these are my guideposts for preparing for and celebrating the Holidays with vigor and verve:

Think natural. There’s just something about natural beauty. In faces, fashion and home decorating. Friends this year will get gifts from the outdoors or from my local garden center: flowers, bulbs, topiaries. Clay pots, sphagnum moss and all. No gloss. No shine. Simple.

Think small. It never fails: just when I think I’ve outsmarted the system and have figured out perfectly well the exact postage for my smaller packages, I wind up making three or four long trips to the post office with a half a dozen boxes in my arms each and every time. This year, I’m thinking small and lightweight. Gifts that can be easily stuffed into small padded envelopes. With pre-determined, pre-affixed stamps. Stationery, note cards, writing tablets. Jewelry. Smart.

Think homebaked. I adore receiving homemade cookies, as I almost never bake in my own home. (Not my thing.) And so I assume that others love receiving them as much as I do. I never forget our family’s time-honored hands-down best Christmas cookie: Ritz-cracker-peanut-butter-sandwiches-dipped-in-dark-or-white-chocolate. Packaged in pretty tins or boxes, they remain a perennial favorite, and will find their way onto my kitchen counter as well as into a few brown packages this year as they do every year. Easy.

Think handmade. I always think that this Christmas will be different: that I’ll paint large quantities of miniature canvases in oils, hook multitudes of stockings out of hand-dyed wool, decoupage glass plates for all of my neighbors, or needlepoint belts for all four of our kids….and then life gets in the way. Amidst the hustle and the bustle, I invariably wind up at my favorite local merchant, filling his counter with a dozen or so of my favorite things, and giving said item to each and every one of my girlfriends—whether she likes it or not. Not necessarily the most thoughtful approach, but certainly one of the most expedient. But if I can time it just right, I’ll be tinkering in my studio this year, trying to create something out of my heart. Using my own hands and investing time more than any other ingredient. Honest.

I admit: this approach only works for the grown-up set. Girlfriends are amongst the most appreciative set I know. But as for all the little tykes on your list: give it up. You’ll find yourself at more toy stores than you ever thought possible, searching for talking dolls, action-packed video games, new bikes and glow-in-the-dark balls. And you’ll spend way more of those special three—time, money and energy—than you ever planned. As for those teens on your list? My own daughter is so hoping for Juicy Couture and I am so hoping that they’re all sold out. Malls and madness. Yuck. The mere thought exhausts me.

If only I had doorbusted.

Happy week!


A Nick Note

Nick is handling the maintenance part of his chemo protocol extremely well. The highlight of his week was visiting with his many friends who came home for Thanksgiving. It was wonderful seeing him so animated….

A Quick Note

If you live in my area and missed the Official Launch of the Rocket Mom Society but would like to come and learn more about it, please send me an email and I’ll send you an invite to a Christmas party at my house.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Abundant Blessings

“And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that you would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that you would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain.” So God granted him what he requested. 1 Chronicles 4:9-10

I was feeling a little blue last week. Out of sorts. I had a funny sensation all week. Couldn’t really put my finger on it. I was feeling uncomfortable in my own skin. An uncommon feeling for me and one that I haven’t experienced since I can remember. I came to the conclusion that it was because I was entering unchartered territory in getting this Rocket Mom Society officially launched. That even though I see the need, feel the need and am eager to respond to the need, that others would not necessarily catch my vision. That to get it up and running was too much work. That I was unqualified. Technologically retarded. Feeling a tad bit sorry for myself—no, feeling sorry isn’t quite right—um, maybe feeling that I had over-stretched my personal limitations. Yes, that’s it: stretched too much. Reached too far. Dreamed too big. And my emotions hadn’t yet caught up with my brain.

I needed perspective, but far more, I needed wisdom. I needed to read that going out on a limb produces anxiety. That these feelings were normal. That I wasn’t nuts. That it was okay to ask for blessings. For reassurances. That praying for enlarged territory was not only “allowable,” but it was part of God’s design on my life.

I curled up on my living room sofa with one of my favorite books: Bruce Wilkinson’s The Prayer of Jabez. Having read and re-read it many times, I needed to re-read it now and capture, once again, the wisdom contained in its few pages.

Growing up as one of those Christians who believed it would be greedy of me to ask for even more of God’s blessings when I enjoy so much to begin with, I had a hard time with the concept that it was not only okay to ask for more, but that it was what God wants from me. For starters, I had an incorrect understanding of the word “blessing.” I had, of course, heard the word, seen the word. Hundreds if not thousands of times before. But we use it incorrectly. And it leads to misunderstanding. As Wilkinson discusses, we say “Bless you” after someone sneezes. We casually tell people we wish them blessings. We bless the food, bless the turkey, bless the pumpkin pie.

But “to bless in the Biblical sense means to ask for or to impart supernatural favor.” (1) When I ask for God’s blessings, I’m not asking for more of what I could get, or more of what I could accomplish or more of what I believe I deserve! I’m asking for God to impart to me—through His supernatural power—something which I could not attain by my own.

In Wilkinson’s book, we see that Jabez left everything up to God: how he should be blessed, what blessings would befall him and how he would receive them.

It met me exactly in the moment in which I needed it. (I love when that happens...) I was able to finish the book, pull myself up off the sofa (after a nice little nap) and bounce through the weekend with renewed energy and enthusiasm. I had a simple prayer: “Lord, show Yourself powerfully. Show me that You are here. All around me. Working everywhere. Even in my loneliness and my fear.”

And funny little things happened all weekend long. I got emails from friends with whom I hadn’t conversed in weeks. Phonemails, too. Kind gestures were bestowed on me…catching me totally off-guard. Like when I offered to watch a complete stranger’s little girl in the outside lobby at the Cheesecake Factory so the mom could check on the estimated length of her wait, only to receive during dinner some food sent over by her as a way of saying “Thank you.” Several more small, seemingly insignificant acts of kindness occurred over the next couple days, giving me very much a sense of God’s presence. Of His working everywhere.

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, I would ask you to give special consideration to the word “blessing.” It is not meant to be taken lightly. It is a word which we raise up to our Creator in prayer. With humility. We ask for showers of blessings in order to further glorify God. Praying for God’s desires to be met. Not ours. We pray without ego. Or competitive ambition. But just to better walk these days in service to Him and to our fellow man.

My Thanksgiving prayer is that you would receive supernatural blessings in order to live more fully God’s design on your life. That He would abundantly bless you so that all of the things that He desires in the world would be met through each one of us bold enough to ask for our place in it. That however God wants to use you to fulfill His goals, you would be up for the challenge. And that it would be crystal clear, that it will not be by your works—or by mine—that His will be fulfilled. For as Scripture teaches: “The Lord’s blessing is our greatest wealth; all our work adds nothing to it.” (Proverbs 10:22) I hope you use some of the “downtime” of the holiday weekend to prayerfully submit yourself to God’s work in this world. To be fully open of how and where you might fit into the eternal drama. That your heart would be pricked in such a way that you would be open to the miracles which God wants to do through your life.

May God’s richest blessings come to you, on Thanksgiving Day and everyday!


Wilkinson, Bruce, The Prayer of Jabez, Multnomah Publishers, Sisters, p.23.

A Nick Note

Nick and Ernie spent four full days in Atlanta, this being the first time in over a year that he received doctor’s orders to go so far away from home. They relaxed together, had some nice meals together, and attended the Georgia-Kentucky game as well as the Falcons-Tampa Bay game. We’re most thankful this Thanksgiving for Nick’s health, for his increased energy and stamina, and for his very bright prognosis and future. I continue to pray Jeremiah 29:11 for him: “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” I would covet your continued prayers for Nick, and encourage you to pray this simple prayer for blessings on your own loved ones.

A Rocket Mom Society Note

The RMS officially launched to a small gathering of women on Thursday night in my living room. Healthy, lively discussion followed the laying out of my vision. While I’m taking all comments to task, I am proceeding with its development and am committed to trying to meet the needs as I see them, feel them and understand them.

As I look around and try to digest not only what I’m learning from my own nearly twenty years into parenting, but also from what I’m learning as I share this journey with you, I realize that even though our navigation systems may have constructed different charts, we’re all in the same proverbial boat. As an international sisterhood, we admit that we face a universal search for wisdom and that our everyday challenges are strikingly similar. We all want to know how to cope with the terrible two’s as well as how to keep our girls looking wholesome in the age of Madonna and Britney. We all want to know how to keep on top of technology’s increasing role in our kids’ lives in the age of online pornography and internet predators. We all want to know how to preserve our family relationships in the age where business moves at the speed of thought. How to prevent the cultural divide from swallowing us all up. Or how to meet the firestorm of pop culture effectively when our arsenal seems to have the power of a squirt gun.

We acknowledge that as cradle-rockers and vision-casters, we possess the unique privilege of shaping the world. And together, we can try to do just that. But there are structural challenges—bureacratic practicalities, in a sense—that must be met in order to fulfill this goal. My hope is that via downloadable documents, audio streams and video clips, I will be able to reach those of you who are interested in joining this potentially international sisterhood society but who are unable to meet me in my own home. Please give me some more time to work on the online infrastructure so that I’ll be able to best serve you. In the meantime, if you’re interested in more details, please send me an email. I’m keeping a list……

Monday, November 14, 2005

Launch of the Rocket Mom Society

Never before have the issues of parenting been more critical. I believe that it’s more than my increased consciousness due to having three teenagers in our house, or that because I read and write about parenting issues all day long I am more in-tune with everyday issues and dilemmas. I feel—in my bones—the pervasive pop cultural erosion of those things I hold most dear. I see floundering parents fixated on Super Nanny and teen girls fixated on Vogue.

How do you elevate the moral consciousness of your family? How do you raise morally responsible teens? What values should I be pro-actively instilling in my kids? When and how do I start? Are there specific steps I can be taking? Clever strategies to get our family on the right path?

If you believe that moms need a voice, that we need to seek solutions to our most pressing problems, and that—together—we can band together in our journey, then I hope you will consider joining the newly forming ROCKET MOM SOCIETY. Launching this Thursday in Ridgefield, CT (USA), I hope to “encourage, equip and empower moms for excellence.” If you have not received an invitation but would like to join us in our launch party, please email me directly at: With the infrastructure almost in place, I am hopeful that registration can begin on Friday. Please watch for an email message notifying you of the signup link. While none of us can claim to know all of the answers, we can claim to at least asking most of the right questions. This will be the goal of all members of the ROCKET MOM SOCIETY. Stay tuned.

Monday, November 07, 2005

It Only Takes a Spark

"The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion
and the will to help others." Albert Schweitzer

It Only Takes a Spark

To get a fire going. Ahhh! We know that only too well. One poorly-timed word, sideways glance or accusatory question to a teenager….and sparks go flying. Before you know it, voices start running up an octave or two, muscles start tensing and words start spewing forth for the impending, unavoidable flare-up. A veritable bonfire could be in the works before you know it! Ha! No one ever told you this parenting thing would be easy. Call for such stamina, nerves of steel and worn-out knees.

On the flip side, it only takes the spark of one individual, one heroic voice, one visionary or one touched by social injustice, personal tragedy or immeasurable suffering to try to set the world right again.

Such was my experience Saturday morning, when I traded in leisure time on a perfect-postcard New England fall day to attend a mandatory training session for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Having been personally touched by childhood cancer, I wanted to become actively involved in this top-notch organization as a goodwill ambassador. Not only because they would be granting a wish to our family, but because I believe that my testimony could prove encouraging to others facing similar circumstances.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation has the system figured out: rules, regulations, security background checks...and they do an excellent job of acquainting their volunteers with the basics before getting truly started. They also do a wonderful job of reminding you why you signed up in the first place. Video clips of children as they are receiving their wish-—along with film of the selfless acts of devoted volunteers in shaping the wish to its fullest potential-—bring that lump-to-the-throat experience that could hardly find expression anywhere else. Dressing up in hulas to deliver a wish for a Hawaiian trip, or as Spiderman so that a little boy could be “Beetle Boy” for a day and save the city of Pittsburgh from the evil Green Goblin...all served as powerful reminders of fulfilling Make-A-Wish’s vision of “bringing hope, strength and joy” to children around the world.

The foundation got its start after a family lost their own son to leukemia. The mother, so moved by the local police force which granted a wish to her son just a week before he passed away, inspired her to found a program which would exert that same power over countless other children facing life-threatening illnesses around the world. Her singular joy in watching her son receive his wish sparked the fire which would spread around the globe.

Around the world people are following that still quiet voice which inspires them to jump out of their comfort zone and into the arena of hunger and hurt, poverty and pain, illness and illiteracy. Folks like Roberto Perez, international leader of Alfalit—-a literacy group that our family is involved with-—who retired from his career as a social worker in order to advance the cause of literacy throughout Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries of the world; or of James and Carolyn Loftin, who felt the pull to meet the spiritual needs of the people of China, and founded the Follow One International organization, leaving family, friends and personal comfort behind. There are thousands of others. All felt tugs on their heartstrings to enlarge their circle of concern and stepped out onto the world stage of need.

Most visionaries have suffered inordinate personal suffering. Not witnessed it secondhand. Not read about it. Or heard about it. But experienced it. It seems to go with the territory. A rose isn’t beautiful without its thorns, after all. It is the suffering, really, which serves most often as the springboard for profound change and energetic movement to goodwill on a massive scale.

Pricked by cultural contradictions-—as well as the current intersection of media attention and personal anxiety (ever watched even one episode of Desperate Housewives?)-—the time is ripe for the launch of the Rocket Mom Society. In no way comparing it—-or my vision-—to some of the aforementioned luminaries, the need for an international sisterhood is both real and pervasive. Too many parenting seminars, newsletters and media interviews have found me responding to too many attendees with the deer-in-the-headlights-look too deeply etched onto their faces to understand just how real the need truly is. Young moms, especially, lack role models…not to mention a clearly-detailed instruction manual for each one of their kids. With their own moms living hundreds of miles away, few neighborhood moms showing them the ropes, and pop culture stealing commonly-held notions from the best-intentioned of us; this motherhood experience has left many of us feeling hopeless, hapless and helpless. It’s time to put back some good old-fashioned unapologetic optimism back into the parenting equation.

At the risk of sounding holier-than-thou or like the-know-it-all-you-love-to-hate, I will be launching the Rocket Mom Society on November 17. I welcome your support! As a potentially international sisterhood of like-minded moms, our goal will be to “encourage and equip moms for excellence.” Like others who have come before me with a vision, my heart has been pricked, and I need to move forward. Faced, too, with inordinate personal tragedy in my own life, it will serve as a springboard to helping others. Please email me if you live outside the Fairfield County, Connecticut (Westchester County, New York) area. If you live nearby, you are invited to the launch with a simple email for the asking.

The late arrival of this week’s newsletter into your inbox is a reminder that, when push comes to shove, my own kids and husband come first. A need on my own home front will always supersede a need anywhere else. But hopefully, I’ll be able to serve my own family well, while simultaneously enlarge the circle into which I feel especially drawn. I hope you consider becoming a card-carrying member, too. Details will be forthcoming and are also available by sending me an email. I will continue with my weekly newsletters, but I will also move full throttle developing countless hands-on strategies for those I feel called to help. It only takes a spark, and I hope that you’ll add to my fire.



A Nick Note

Nick started the maintenance phase of his chemo protocol on Friday. After four halted attempts, he endured two procedures which got the ball rolling. He should expect to feel much better than he has in a year. Though not yet back to his highest energy level, he’s playing tennis, eating well and looks terrific. His hair is even coming back...more and more each day. It was especially heartwarming to read the dozens of emails which poured forth this morning with combined fear for his health and well-being. Again, my apologies for giving you such a fright! But I feel covered in prayer for my whole family, and for that I am extremely grateful.

A Quick Note

Two exciting media opportunities are moving forward. They will help move the ROCKET MOM message to a wider audience and are, indeed, a good thing. I’d love prayer for increased energy and stamina!


I’m working on the infrastructure for the new ROCKET MOM SOCIETY. It should be up and running by launch time. To help those living far and away (like a new rocket mom in Nigeria), I need a system for keeping all of you in close contact above and beyond this newsletter. Details next week about how to sign up!