Family Photo Contest Winner!

Back in February I held a contest called the “Celebrating Family Photo Contest”. I asked readers to send in their favourite photo of their family with an explanation of why you love it!

The winner was chosen by a random draw. Lyndsie Bachtold submitted this photo and explanation:

“This is my favourite picture of my family. For starters, I love it because I think we all look just fabulous 😛 And secondly, I love hugs and this picture looks like we’re all having one big group hug. I LOVE my family!!!” – Lyndsie

From left to right: Marni, Lyndsie, Shelby, Kendall, Karen (mom), Chris (dad)

This family is incredibly special to me. I spent most of my teen years in their house hanging out with the girls, talking with their parents and being loved on by such a close family. I am so blessed to have them in my life still!

I talked to Lyndsie about why her family is so close, how they maintain their relationships and how the Lord plays a part in their family.

1. How do you and your family stay close though you’re spread out? We try to get together as often as we can. We love getting together and having nice meals where we are able to catch up, tell stories, laugh and enjoy one another’s company. We also love to text, send emails and call one another when we are apart.

2. What was one thing your parents did to promote family time growing up? Same as question one. We’d have nice meals and enjoy one another’s company around the dinner table. I loved our family times around the dinner table growing up. I’m glad that was a part of our lives; something that I think a lot of busy families miss out on.

3. What is one thing that makes your family so special? I love that as we get older we grow closer and closer together instead of further apart…I think that’s special.

4. How do you know your parents show you they are committed to each other? They pray together, have date nights, etc.

5. What’s it like have three sisters? Growing up, deep down I loved it, but didn’t always realize it. Now I fully realize how blessed I am to have three amazing sisters. I LOVE having three sisters who are all my best friends.

6. How does faith play a part in your family life? Our faith in God ultimately strengthens our relationships with one another. As we learn to more fully love God we can more fully love one another. We are able to share our journeys with Christ together, pray for one another, encourage one another, share wisdom and advice, etc.

There are many wonderful things about the Bachtold family. One thing I personally love is that Chris & Karen always sends each of their daughters flowers on Valentines Day. Three of the girls live together, and Lyndsie Instagramed all their bouquets that were around the house that special day.

It is extremely important that girls feel cherished by their dads, and I’ve always thought Chris has done a great job of this! Karen offers great wisdom, and her daughters know they can turn to them.

The sisters are each different in their own way, but if you get to hang out with them, be ready for lots of fun! As we have got older and the times in their basement are no more, I always look forward to them stopping by the house on their way through my city back to our hometown. We laugh a lot, filling my husband in on all the fun times we had, and relive great memories together.

My best conversations with each of these girls always took place over a different kind of drink; coffee with Kendall, Pepsi with Lyndsie, hot chocolate with Marni, and a slushie with Shelby! I am so happy to have gotten to know them each individually!

I think there are some great suggestions that we can pull out of what Lyndsie shared.

  1. Take advantage of the everyday moments to enjoy with your family. Supper can be the best time of the day to talk! Research indicates that one of the greatest antidotes for risky behavior in teens is consistently eating supper as a family. You can read more about that in Finding Home – By Jim Daly of Focus on the Family.
  2. Communicate lovingly! We have so many wonderful resources at our finger tips in this day and age. You can say “I love you” over Facebook, email, Twitter, text, phone call, writing a note, etc.
  3. Parents who take time for their marriage do not hurt their children. Even if they have to cut out an activity that their kids might be disappointed in, it doesn’t take long for grown children (and often younger) to realize it was worth the sacrifice to have a family that is together and parents that are committed to each other.
  4. As you love Jesus more, you can love you family more. If you are having issues with your family, choosing to take time to pray will give God the opportunity to give you eyes to see them the way He sees them.

Do you know this special family? Share a word of encouragement, or something you appreciate about them below. If you don’t know them, tell me what struck you while you were reading Lyndsie’s answers.


Now I’m going to go make sure my baby boy knows that I love him, starting with a lot of kisses!
Treasure your loved ones today!



The Small Things

Hairstyles can trigger a lot of anxiety in women. Personally, I can nearly have a panic attack before going to get my hair cut because of too many bad previous experiences. I get to the hair stylist, sit down with plans to be adventurous, and then end up reverting to “just trim it up and style my bangs!”

Kate from the Small Things Blog has become quite the success story. Her hair tutorials went viral on Pinterest and You Tube and she has attracted a lot of people to her blog, me being one of them!

One thing I want to say about Kate is that she seems to be an extremely humble and wonderful woman. On her blog under “about me” she says very straight forward that she is a Christian and finds her worth in Jesus, even though she loves to talk about things like hair (she’s a professional stylist), make up, style and decorating, she serves Christ first.

Because her blog took off so quickly she suddenly started making money off of advertising and other avenues. She posted a while back about how she chose to sponsor a child through Compassion International with some of the funds she received.

I have personally benefited from her hair tutorials so much! They are quick, concise and offer great advice for spicing up your every day hair with tricks and tips for using your straightener, curling iron or other tools.

As a stay at home mom, I can feel down if I don’t take time to get ready during the day, even if we aren’t planning on leaving the house! Of course there are those days where nothing seems to go right and I barely have time to drink my coffee, let alone style my hair! But most days I try to get ready when Caleb is napping or occupied. He usually gets a lot of entertainment out of watching me do my hair and make up!

Ok I’m being brave: here is a picture of my hair just blow dried with NO style yet. It’s scary. You will understand why I need to straighten it, curl it or put it up!

I decided to try out Kate’s latest tutorial on the double bun. You can watch it right here.

So I got three-quarters of the way through and then you can see that Caleb stopped being entertained and got very unimpressed with me wasting time on this!

So I sat him down with a snack and tried to quickly finish this off. Of course I’d never tried this one before so it took me a tiny bit longer then it usually would (or when I re did it later in the day). Here is my final picture. I hope to get a better finished product today when I try it again since I won’t wash my hair again today, so if I do I’ll post another picture! I ran out of bobby pins and that one longer curly piece wouldn’t stay back!

 You can check out her flat-iron tutorial here, and her curling iron tutorial here. These are my two other favourites as they livened up my hair a little more!

You can check out all of Kate’s hair tutorials and other fun blog posts by visiting The Small Things Blog.


Meet Katy From Our Simple Love Story

Before we get into the main part of today’s post I want to remind you about the Celebrating Family Photo Contest! There are two more days to enter. It will not take long for you to send a picture in and a couple of lines about it!

All photos should be emailed to

Winner receives a feature post done on them and their family about activities they like to do and how they encourage their family to spend quality time together.

You can read more about the contest by clicking on the image below.

Now I want to introduce to you Katy (the main writer from Our Simple Love Story). I “sat down” with her in a virtual sense and we talked about why she blogs, her heart for people and what she has learned from marriage so far.

Monica: Why did you start blogging?

Katy: Well, I love to write.  I’ve been writing in some form or fashion since I was a little girl.  I originally started blogging to connect with friends and family while I was at college.  I was introduced to blogging by my college roommate (who is now my best friend) because she was blogging to friends back home.

I started this blog for basically the same reason, although in addition to friends and family, I also like getting to know new people.  I’ve seen amazing support and encouragement from the blogging community just in the past few weeks.  The community makes it fun.

Monica: What’s the purpose behind “Our Simple Love Story”?

Katy: I think part of it is just to record the memories – the things we do together, things I am learning about our marriage or even just a recipe or two.  I also hope that this blog encourages other people.  I have been told lately that I have an encouraging spirit.  I want to use this blog to do just that.

Monica: What have you found to be the single most important factor maintaining a solid marriage?

Katy: It’s kind of twofold.  First, God needs to be the center of a marriage.  In fact, my relationship with God has to come before my relationship with Michael!  Second, I need to accept the flaws and uniqueness of my marriage.  I was horrible at the beginning of my marriage with comparing it to other relationships (let’s face it, I still struggle with this from time to time).  When it wasn’t measuring up, I thought it was because I wasn’t good enough as a wife.  Through lots of open communication with God and Michael, I realized that I couldn’t define my marriage by another person’s standards, and I began to see our marriage as the beautiful living and growing thing that it is.

Monica: Has God placed any specifics dreams and visions on your heart?

Katy: I don’t think God gave me a particular life calling.  I think of it more as a daily calling.  Each day, He has a purpose for me.  I love to encourage others (I hate to see anyone upset or hurting), and I know that God has used me in the past for that particular purpose.

Monica: If you could encourage the world with one message, what would it be?

Katy: When you disagree with someone else, always remember that they are a creation of God, and that God loves them very much.  Once you remove that humanity from the person, you have lost the argument.

 You can check out Katy & Michael’s website at or click on their image above.
I really like that Katy issues a challenge at the end of her posts. Recently she blogged about how they had fallen into the habit of watching television while eating. She was honest about it, and her desire to make that change. She issued a challenge to her readers about it, and kept us posted on how she was doing.
Enjoy checking out Our Simple Love Story. Thank you Katy for your time answering my questions and sharing with all of us!

Meet Dr. Leman!

Okay I think I’ve lost some of you at the title of “Doctor”! Stay with my because Dr. Kevin Leman is a hilarious guy with so much insight into marriage and parenting. He has five grown children of his own with his wife of forty four years. He also has his PhD. in psychology. He has a wonderful mix of learned knowledge and practical experience. He has been a professor, counselor, speaker, author to countless books, father and husband. His personal testimony is also inspiring as he was not always a high achiever, almost failing high school and suffering emotionally from a difficult upbringing.

I have heard Dr. Leman speak on Focus on the Family many times, and I always enjoy hearing him talk about his books. The book of his that I have read most indepth so far is:

First Time Mom

There were so many wonderful things in the book. The highlights for me were

  • Understanding how birth order affects personality (in yourself, in your spouse and in your kids)
  • Becoming informed about “The Ten Most Common Mistakes of New Parents”
  • Gaining a unique perspective about staying home with your child or going back to work
  • Learning the life change my husband was going through in becoming a new dad and gaining tools to support him
This book truly was packed full of wonderful information and has been one of my favourites out of all the parenting and new mom books so far. I can’t say enough about Dr. Leman’s humorous style and empowering approach.

Check out this promotional video for his one of his most popular books Have a New Kid By Friday

I encourage you to check out his website to keep up with his latest blogs and information. You can also follow Dr. Leman on Twitter @drleman and “like” his Facebook page.

I enjoyed this blog post from Dr. Leman breaking down the different types of parents. You can find it here.

Enjoy exploring all the wisdom that Dr. Leman has to offer!

Meet Trevor & Danielle!


I have some very special people for you to meet today! You NEED to check out this blog! This couple has been married for almost three years now, and decided to start making a video blog of lessons they were learning from books they were reading or things God was bringing up in their marriage. After the video they issue a challenge or a question that you can respond to in a private feedback box.



Check out their promotional video

I admire their heart to be open together and strengthen their own marriage, and in turn share what they are learning with others! It is a very brave thing to do. I encourage you to check our their website

Here is one of their episodes talking about the book Men are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti by Bill & Pam Ferrel (love this book)!

They just finished season one, and I definitely look forward to watching season two!

Sometimes we believe we have to be experts in an area before we can impact others, but that is simply not true. Being a leader and being an example helps to keep you on track.

Proverbs 11:25 says

The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.

If you choose to be humble, open, and honest to use the situations you are in to bring hope and healing to the world, you will impact others, and you yourself will be strengthened as you allow yourself to be held to a higher standard.

Is there an area of your own life that you think the Lord is asking you to open up so that you can be encouragement to others?

Have fun exploring

Thanks to Danielle and Trevor for putting time and energy into their wonderful ministry!

Make Way Partners – Working Against Child Slavery

This post might be disturbing to you depending on what you know about child slavery and sex trafficking already. I heard about this organization, Make Way Partners, on Focus on the Family, and I’m going to be honest I was so wrecked by the founder’s story, we are still processing what life looks like after hearing such information.

I ask you to please open your heart to what God might be saying about this. I’m going to keep this concise, there are lots of additional information out on the web about this topic to inform yourself. The question is, what do we do?

Kimberly Smith and her husband and kids followed the Lord’s call to work in Spain as missionaries. When they were over there they stumbled upon, not looking for anything like this, a brothel that was home to many children between the ages of 5 and 15. These children had been kidnapped from their homes and brought over to work as sex slaves. They had been terrible physically, sexually and emotionally abused.

It took the Smith’s two years to get this brothel closed down. The man running it went to jail for a short time and then was let out. The children were shipped back to the shanty towns they were kidnapped from, only to be filtered through the system again.

At this point in hearing Kimberley’s story my heart was absolutely shattered. How could you continue to hope when the children you just spent two years of your life tried to rescue seemed to just be cast away when they needed love, care and support.

The Smith’s didn’t give up and went to the Sudan to start working in the towns where a lot of the kidnapping was originating from. Sudan has suffered Christian persecution, modern-day slavery and genocide by an invading radical Islamic regime consistently for the last decades, since Britain withdrew in 1956. This has resulted in Sudan holding one of the highest per capita rates for human trafficking in the world and the Republic of Southern Sudan ranking as one of the poorest nations in the world. Women and children are the most vulnerable, with orphans being the primary target of slave raiders.

Make Way Partners also works in Romania.

Since the fall of the Iron Curtain former Eastern bloc countries, like Romania, have become major source countries for trafficking of women and children. Estimates as high as two-thirds of women trafficked for prostitution worldwide annually come from Eastern Europe. Today Romania ranks as one of the worst countries in the European Union for human trafficking.

Romanian’s are considered among the world’s most trafficked people. After Romania’s inclusion into the European Union (or EU in 2007), it was noted that EU membership did not solve the root causes of human trafficking and in some ways may have made them worse because of the new freedom of travelling from Romania across international borders were the demand for prostitution and slavery is high. Today Romania ranks as one of the worst countries in the European Union for human trafficking. The EU membership has also increased Romania’s position as a transit country for its non-EU neighbors (example, Moldova) where trafficking is also a devastating problem.

One of the things Kimberly challenged listeners to do when I heard her interview was “to let our hearts break for these children as though they were our very own kids being trafficked”.

I’m going to be honest, I haven’t allowed that to happen yet as emotional protection. I have cried about this everyday since hearing about their ministry. I feel like I am starting to allow God to break my heart, however I’m still sorting through what my response would be. There is no point in me simply weeping over them, since there is nothing that comes from that, but I must force my tears to action.

Whether it is strong prayer support, finances, spreading the word and personally going over to help their work, there are a lot of opportunities to help.

I have been so challenged to the core of who I am – what am I sacrificing for someone else? What am I refusing myself so that I can bring Christ’s love to someone else?

Here is a statement from their website regarding what they are doing in these countries:

In Romania our indigenous leadership cares for 12-20 girls at any one time who were trafficked into prostitution between the ages of 10 and 30. Each girl or young woman has been rescued from the brutality of forced prostitution, rapes and beatings.

Through House of Treasure, we offer a holistic healing approach that includes discipleship, counseling, medical care, job training, money management, and parenting skills for the young women who have borne children through their trafficking. We help them to rediscover who it is God dreamed of when He first formed them and give them the life skills to re-enter the world as the bright light that God intended them to be.

 In Sudan Make Way Partners primary mission is to protect the orphans through Christ-centered orphanages, schools and other necessary infrastructures.  Through partnerships we participate in the building of long-term indigenous discipleship and relief ministries which provide opportunities for hope and healing. 

I really encourage you to listen to her broadcast on Focus on the Family. I will be sharing the broadcast on my Facebook Page.

Many of us are involved in helping with many different ministries and give our time, love and money to things that God has put on our hearts. Not everyone is called to go overseas to help with something like this. I guess what my challenge would be, only because this is where I am at, and I’m sure someone else has to be in the same place: Allow God to break your heart for them. Don’t put up walls just because you can’t handle knowing that this goes on.

If your child was captured and used as a sex slave, I know you would go to the ends of the earth to find, rescue and love them. If it was my child, I would be daily begging every person to get involved and come help me.

These might not be your children, but they are someones child. These are God’s kids. Maybe he’s asking you to join the search party?

Thankfully there is hope for these children thanks to amazing people giving up their lives to help and serve others.

No matter what your calling in life is, or what group of people you have a heart to minister to, I pray that we would not become so consumed in our own lives that we do not sacrifice to see someone else rescued from darkness.




Plugged In Entertainment Reviews

What’s That Wednesday | Plugged In Entertainment Reviews from Focus on the Family

Our world is full of different media influences. From movies to music to video games. How do you navigate through it all? First of all, I want to say that I firmly believe each person needs to ask God what his standard for media in their home. I think before we enter into the minefield of entertainment that can be so corruptive, we need to know what are limit is, what we will set before our eyes, what we will allow into our ears and what messages we will permit to be swirling around in our minds. If you doubt the power of media upon your person, think again. There are many scriptures that prove the Lord does not desire us to be naive in what we partake in.

Psalm 101:3

I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.

1 Thessalonians 5:21-22

But test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil.

Philippians 4:8

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

A great resource that we have found for aiding our media choices is Focus on the Family’s Plugged In Entertainment Reviews! They have all kinds of movie, tv show, music and game reviews on their website. They also have an app for your Iphone or Android.

One thing that I love about their movie reviews is that they break it down into the following categories:

  • Positive Elements
  • Spiritual Element
  • Violence
  • Sexual Content
  • Crude or Profane Language
  • Drug and Alcohol Content
  • Other Negative Content
  • Conclusion
Quite often we’ll skip over all the positive points, and the conclusion to ensure the storyline isn’t given away, but we review all of the other areas to make sure the movie fits within the boundaries that we have set for media consumption in our home.
Another fun feature on their website is “Movie Nights“. They pick their best options for families (they have two sections, one for kids and one for teens) and then provide discussion questions to help your family get the most out of viewing the movie. We’ve looked at the sheets, and it doesn’t make the movie watching time into another class at school, they keep everything fun! Parents can just have the ideas in their mind for after the movie, instead of just reading off a sheet!
Recently we were trying to choose a movie and we watched a trailer for a certain film online. It looked funny, light-hearted and perfect for our at home date night. We turned it on and instantly were overwhelmed with overtly sexual conversation and an unexpected bedroom scene. That movie didn’t stay on longer than about six minutes! Being a little bit shocked at how we had stumbled onto that, we decided to reference Plugged In Reviews to see if they warned about this, since the trailer made it look like a family film! Of course the review would have protected us from that if we had check it out first. That was the last time we would view an unknown movie without checking Plugged In first!
All of these reviews are from a Christian standpoint, and their heart is to protect families and strengthen them. I appreciate the work that Focus on the Family does to “help families thrive”, as their motto is. I look forward to featuring their various ministries more in the future.
Enjoy your next family movie night!