Book Review

Cleaning House: Youth Entitlement

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Check out that puppy!

Cleaning House: A Mom’s 12 month experiment to rid her home of  Youth Entitlement by Kay Willis Wyma.

Amy Sullivan and Steph from Only Here, Only Now have organized bloggers and readers to discuss this book.


Today, I’ll write about the book in general. Next week, I’ll cover a chapter we’re actually good at…

Which means the rest of the chapters… are a challenge to say the least. The worst part of that is our kids have always done chores, but that still has not ceased the endless whining, complaining and push back of doing so. Anyone else struggle with this?

My kids are active and creative. They are always “creating” which means toys and paper trails and experiments and inventions litter the landscape of our house.  Leaving these creations to do something as mundane as chores ALWAYS brings cries of dismay.

kids can press

My husband and I were both summer camp counselors. When we got new campers each week, we always noticed there were certain kids that did not know how to sweep the cabin during clean up time. They simply had never had to work before and when faced with the challenge were completely clueless about how to do so.

I’m thankful that my parent taught me work. My brother and I used to do the dishes with an elaborate story line about the inner working of a diner and its patrons. I babysat starting in fifth grade, worked my summers away selling go-cart tickets and giving out redemption prizes and I cut up vegetables in college. My husband grew up on a farm and work was weaved into everything they did. I have to admit I have not done the best instilling the same principle in my kids.

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Grandpa’s and Grandma’s are good at this stuff!


Kay set out to reverse the trend of youth entitlement in her own family of five. The results will encourage and challenge your family.

I do not have it all together as a Mom. This is where I struggle…

It’s easier to just do it for them, or in other words enable. Sometimes, I get tired, my husband travels a fair amount for work. Sometimes to conserve my energy… avoiding the arguments and push back that occur… I throw the clothes down the hamper, I make the beds, I cook dinner, I sweep, I pack the lunches etc.

Other times I enforce chores, especially when Kris is home. The inconsistency is killing us.

Everyday I need to remind myself that this is important and worth the emotional energy:

  • Our family becomes a team and we are all responsible for the state of our home
  • They learn to work in a way that will benefit them in future jobs when they are grown
  • We show them we trust them and believe in their abilities
  • Kids rise to the expectations we give them. They are more than capable!

also, be kind and patient with yourself and your kids. Habits take time to be established. Change does not happen overnight. Be consistent and change will come.

These are the experiments the author tries with her family: clutter control, kitchen, outdoor work, working for a living, dirty jobs, laundry, home repair, hospitality, team work, errands, service and manners.

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What has worked for my family:

  • We approach school like work: getting up, doing our best there, completing homework and going to bed on time. The kids earn points that they apply to practical categories; things we might buy them anyway for example clothing, art supplies, books, room accessories. With the points earned they can choose their own categories and items. 
  • We do a small allowance for certain chores completed each day. Some chores they do each day just because we are a family.

Disclaimer: There is still ranting, on the ground tantrums and diatribes about how no one else does this stuff! 

  • We try to teach them all jobs, but help them build confidence by doing ones they enjoy and are good at. Those jobs are mopping,  pushing the garbage can to the road and magic erasers! 

Our Goals:

  • Keep reinforcing what they are good at. 
  • Keep teaching them new skills.
  • Be consistent! I hope it can be so ingrained in our daily lives that it seems normal eventually.

Win a copy of book by leaving a comment! 

What is your biggest challenge when teaching your kids chores? What systems have you used that work for your family? What are your kids favorite chores? 

Take a Chance on Me

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Today I get to introduce you to Susan May Warren!

I’m learning that you all like fiction and she is a fixture in the world of Christian fiction. Susan has wrote more than thirty novels! Here is the link to her website full of great information. She spent eight years with her husband and four kids as a missionary in Russia. She and her family now live in Northern Minnesota, where she writes full-time.

Take a Chance on Me will be a part of series about the Christiansen family of Northern Minnesota. There are seven adult siblings in the family and this 7-book series will follow each one of them. Take a Chance on Me is the first! So, if you like the book there is more to come.


The setting of Deep Haven, Minnesota and the Christiansen resort of Evergreen Lake drew me into the story right away, think rustic summer vacation.

This first story follows the eldest Christiansen son, Darek, a single-father. And wait for it… the story has not one, but two love stories going on simultaneously. I know, it’s enough to make you pass out 🙂


I most enjoyed the book because of its theme of forgiveness. The characters in this story have deep frailty. To experience a future of hope they need to forgive the past.

The longing to be more and to let go of past hurts is something we can all relate to… to take a chance on faith and forgiveness.


I love these discussion questions:

In what circumstances have you doubted God’s kindness?

Looking back, are there any difficult circumstances in your past that you now see as pruning, shaping you into who you were meant to be? 


Leave a comment to be entered to win a copy of the book! 


Lead Your Family Like Jesus


Lead Your Family Like Jesus brings the knowledge of Ken Blanchard, Phil Hodges and Tricia Goyer together.

Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges operate the Lead Like Jesus non-profit. They believe the world is in desperate need of new model of leadership. That leadership model can be found in the example of Jesus.

Tricia Goyer has written more than thirty books of fiction and non-fiction. You are going to love this woman. I hope you’ll check out her website. Her heart for others is a beautiful thing. Tricia was a teen Mom, who shares her story with honesty and grace (read her story here). She lives her life offering hope to others. (Her Pinterest boards are amazing too!)

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This book speaks to something I’ve been struggling with, intentional parenting.

Sometimes, I just get swept up in the busy nature of life. It’s funny how many days and months can pass before I stop and realize I need to re-evaluate. I need to constantly keep my kids before me in my heart and in prayer. Everyday.

I love the many stops in the book called Pause and Reflect.

I need to pause and reflect more often!


The book is less about changing your kids and more about changing your heart to reflect Jesus.

When I read the book I realized I might be inspiring disobedience. Ever have those moments, when you are so tired of the stubbornness that you don’t stand your ground. Let’s just say I did very poorly on the how are you doing quiz.

I overreact. I am inconsistent. I negotiate lower standards of behavior to avoid a hassle. I sometimes match anger with anger.

I can improve. I think there is something in this book that will touch any parent right where they need it. There are many practical applications (like crafting a family vision) and stories that are easy to relate to.

Best of all, the authors continue to draw you back to the best leadership model there is, Jesus.

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Leave a comment and win a copy of Lead Your Family Like Jesus! Also win a DaySpring Family Calendar for 2013! 

My favorite Pause and Reflect Question, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

How can you approach your day differently to find the right balance between meeting your child’s need for your attention and your reality of being overwhelmed? 


The Book Days Like These

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Kristian Anderson.

His wife Rachel.

Their two boys Cody and Jakob.

Fighting through a terminal illness.


Halfway through this book, I wanted to pretend I had never started it. I wanted to push it away. I made myself keep reading.

Suffering, we want to keep it as far away from ourselves as possible. Placing yourself in proximity to it takes courage. This book deeply challenges and inspires. Their story is courage gathered up and defended.


We struggle with Krisitian through his cancer journey from his poignant, honest journal entries. He holds onto his faith with unwavering resolve.

Even in the Darkest Moments Light can Shine Through. 

After Kristian, a television editor, makes a birthday video for his wife Rachel (complete with Hugh Jackman) he attracted the attention of Oprah. His story of faith became well-known around the world. He successfully campaigned to get a powerful cancer drug on the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme in Australia. He left a legacy of faith to his family.


From his last blog post:

There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in… the truth is, we’re all broken, we’re all cracked, and what so many people see as  a fault or a malfunction really is something to be considered useful.


Rachel describes in the book when they were watching a portion of The Fellowship of the Ring. 

Frodo says: “I wish the right had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.”

Gandalf replies: “So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time given us.”


Their story is hope in the darkness.

Their story is purpose even when the answer is no.

Their story is faith even when we don’t understand.


Their story is courage and it is needful.

Each day we are given is much and it is enough.

Leave a comment and win a copy. How do you keep faith when your prayers are not answered in the way you hope? 

Jen Hatmaker’s Seven


Jen Hatmaker has written ten books (see them all here.)

Here is Jen Hatmaker’s website.


Five kids, a prolific speaker, a pastor’s wife and unbelievably real.

I love this woman’s sense of humor. She is hilarious. I also loved her ‘council’ a group of six friends she leaned on during the project and who joined her in varying degrees.


Seven: an experimental mutiny against excess is one of the best books I have read in a long time. You will grow and you will laugh, that’s a winning combination to me. 


Clothes: She wore seven pieces of clothing for an entire month.

Spending: Her family spent money in only seven places for one month.

Waste: She adopted seven green habits for a month.

Food: She ate seven foods for an entire month.

Possessions: She gave seven things away each day for a month.

Media: She eliminated the use of seven types of media for a month.

Stress: Her family slowed down and adopted the ‘seven sacred pauses.’



Leave a comment and win a copy! What category would you struggle the most with? 


For me: Clothes, pretty partial to sweatpants, so no struggle there.

I think media, because I really like the internet and The Amazing Race.

Also food, no ice cream or nachos bell grande for a month?

Honestly, I was challenged to adopt all of them in varying forms and can’t recommend this book enough!

Girl Rising Book and Teacher Resources

How can we respond to Girl Rising

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One way is to learn and to share what we have come to know. 

beneath the lion's gaze

Maaza Mengiste, Beneath the Lion’s Gaze. The book opens the eve of revolution in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Yonas is kneeling in prayer pleading that the violence might end. The book speaks to the lengths we go to attain human freedom and its cost.

Click here for the PDF Book club download (recipes, music, discussion questions, and an interview.)


Loung Ung, First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers. Lounge is a childhood surviver of the Khmer Rouge regime. The book is the courageous story of her family and hope.

Click here for the PDF Book club download ( recipes, interviews, discussion questions, and live links.)

girl rising youth collage

Click here for the young adult toolkit. Above are the suggested titles for the young adult reader. The books include the topics of: war, education, gender equality, HIV, human trafficking, child marriage, slavery, adoption, human trafficking, and famine.

The toolkit includes suggested titles, discussion questions, action ideas to support girls education, and recipes.

middle grade girl rising

Click here for the middle grade toolkit. Above are the suggested titles for the middle grade reader. Titles include the topics of: recovering from tragedy, war, separation, refugees, immigration, poverty, education, gender inequality, and famine.

The toolkit includes suggested titles, discussion questions, action ideas to support girls education and recipes.


Educators can click here for 10x10act resources: You will find age-group curriculum, videos, articles, a classroom activity, fact sheets, and Suma’s Song. All resources are downloadable.

adult collage

Four more titles complement this film:

The Hole in our Gospel

Beyond the Beautiful Forevers

The Blue Sweater

Half the Sky 

Intentional Parenting

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Intentional Parenting: Autopilot is for Planes. 

The three authors of this book: Sissy Goff, David Thomas, and Melissa Trevathan have over 50 years experience counseling kids and their parents.

With that expertise, the authors guide us to understand how to be intentional parents. I think this topic so needful, I struggle when weariness hits to shift into autopilot, but our kids need intentional.


I loved reading the different voices of each author as they took on different chapters. They pose questions that I never thought to ask myself. Each chapter is a unique challenge that guides gently.

We have so much more to offer our kids when we operate from a place of awareness- of our shortcomings and areas of deficit, of our triggers, of when we get needy and depleted, of when we need a break, of when our expectations are unrealistic, of when we are living vicariously through our children, and of when we need to ask for forgiveness.


This is a book I could actually write down notes. It’s a book I could keep returning to as a parent. Their stories of their own family’s and the families they counsel help illustrate each challenge. They also root all their work in scripture.

My best take away: Even if you make mistakes as a parent (as you will), being intentional will cover your kids with the knowledge of your love, and that is enough to sustain them.

In their conclusion they encourage parents to walk in freedom. You can entrust your children to God. His great love has each one of you.


Leave a comment and be entered to win a copy of Intentional Parenting. 

What aspect of their challenge do you struggle with the most? Being an intentional, patient, grown-up, balanced, consistent, playful, connected, encouraging, spiritual, merciful, hopeful, or free parent? 

I think I struggle with being a playful parent most. I let worry choke away life all to often.

Unexpected Love

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Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed in Jesus’ Conversations with Women 


You can read more of Julie Zine Coleman’s work at her website Encounter an Unexpected God.  She has been an educator for 20 years and a prolific Bible teacher.

You can also check out her Unexpected Love landing space and get chapter guides and lesson plans for group study.


I would sum this book up with this statement:

Jesus loves us unconditionally.


Each of the nine chapters covers a conversation Jesus had specifically with women in the Bible. Women mattered to Jesus. We still matter.


As a Biblical teacher, you learn when you read her words and you are unexpectedly encouraged.

I love the applications for today’s woman, discussion questions and the journal prompts at the end of each chapter.


Jesus commended the faith of those who admitted their unworthiness, their brokenness, their need.

He did not let judgement cloud his interactions with others. He reached out his hand to all. These women came from all walks of life.

Jesus was interested and intentional about each encounter.


In my faith, at times I have struggled to believe I could be significant to God… He is interested. His concern does not depend on how spiritual I might be or how important I might seem in his eyes. It is not dependent on my performance or even my good intentions. I matter to him not because of who I am or what I do. I matter because of who he is. 

Jesus is personal. He cares about you. You. Me. Sometimes I need to remember that better.

Leave a comment and be entered to win a copy of the book!

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Praying Circles around your Children

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I won this book! It was seriously the first time I had won anything. Thank you to my writing friend Becky Doughty for hosting the giveaway!

So, I read it and now I can give it away to you!

Mark Batterson wrote the New York Times Bestselling book The Circle Maker. In this book he uses those principals to teach us how to pray for our children.


“You’ll never be a perfect parent, but you can be a praying parent.”

Batterson’s books come from the true legend of Honi a circle maker of the Jewish Talmud who believed that God always hears.

  • circle Bible promises and pray them around your children
  • prayer is a way we fight our battles
  • irrational fears only submit to prayer
  • make prayer lists, a written record: do this in a graphic way, lunch box notes, a book of prayers
  • focus on life themes where passions and God given abilities overlap
  • pray with your child not just for your children


There is something mysterious about prayer.

The amazing thing is that we are part of something so much bigger. Your prayers circle, strengthen, surround and guide your family.


This book really reminded me of how important prayer is… something I tend to forget in the busy stretches. I would love to do a special prayer week at About Proximity in the future. If you have anything you would like to share about prayer send me a note! I’d love to have you for a guest post! This would be one of mine: 

My first summer as a camp counselor, my first week with campers, my assigned prayer partner was a guy named Kris Van Engen. (Who I would later marry.) He asked me to pray for his brother Kirk, sister-in-law Maria, and nephew Michael who were expecting a baby in a few weeks. I prayed for the baby’s safe arrival. I prayed for Nikole after her safe arrival.

The next summer, Kris was called away from camp when his brother Kirk was killed in a vehicle accident. I prayed for Nikole and Michael who had lost their Dad and for Maria. 

Of course, when I married Kris, they became my family. Sometimes I feel sad that I never met Kris’s big brother. Sometimes I wish I could have been there for his family during such a painful time. Then, I remember. In a way, I was there through those prayers. I had the blessing of knowing them and loving them through prayer before I ever knew them personally. 

We don’t exactly know what God is doing when we pray. We might not ever have the complete answers. But, we can trust he hears our voice, and loves each expression of our faith. He uses each word given to him for something greater than we can imagine. 

Leave a comment and be entered to win a copy of the book! 

Wise and Funny Words

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Rachel Held Evans : super smart, super funny, and super courageous. (Click on her name to visit her website and widely popular blog.)

This book is no joke. I’m telling you the girl was on The View and NPR!

This sister in Christ took on a challenge to take the Bible’s instructions for woman literally. Each chapter of the book is a month where she focuses on one aspect of biblical womanhood.


My favorite parts:

  • The month of January where she found the mystical woman of Proverbs 31 is actually better suited to be described as a woman a valor.  “The Proverbs 31 woman is a star not because of what she does but how she does it- with valor.” We can all be woman of valor.
  • Her friendship with Ahava an Orthodox Jew whose insights spark the words of the Bible alive in new ways.
  • Her honest humor while she sleeps in a tent during “her visit from Aunt Flo” all you girls know what she means :), sits on a roof in repentance, tries to be silent during a stay in a monastery, calls her husband master, and conquers homemaking like a regular Martha Stewart. (She includes lots of funny pictures.)
  • The partnership she and her husband Dan exemplify through the year long journey. His journal entries add another layer of depth to the project.


And here we can rejoice from her experiment:

“… the notion that it [the Bible] contains some sort of one-size-fits-all formula for how to be a woman of faith is a myth.”

“Among the woman praised in Scripture are warriors, widows, slaves, sister wives, apostle, teachers, concubines, queens, foreigners, prostitutes, prophets, mothers, and martyrs. What makes these women’s stories leap from the page is not the fact that they all conform to some kind of universal ideal, but that, regardless of the culture  or context in which they found themselves, they lived their lives with valor. They lived their lives with faith.”


I say thank you to Rachel for a fresh perspective and the invitation to go forth exactly as God made us and pursue our faith with valor!

Leave a comment and win a copy of The Year of Biblical Womanhood.