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Parenting and the Church: 10 Things to Say

Parenting and the Church. Too often as parents, we just don't know where to put church on the lengthy list of family priorities.

As a Minister with Youth & Children, I listen to kids say lots of things about going to church. Teens, and children too, have so many obligations--great things that keep them busy with meaningful tasks. I get it! There are many wonderful things for kids to do and I agree that most of these things are valuable and important and can even affect our children's futures.

I'm not suggesting that all kids should give up all activities and cleave only to the church (though I don't hate that idea). I just want church to be a priority for them too.

So here you go:

My Top 10 list of "Comments I'd love to Hear Parents Say about Church Attendance."

1. Church is community. When you aren’t there, the community suffers.

2. Sure, you can get a job. Just be sure to schedule ahead with your employer to make sure you can take off for church activities.

3. It doesn’t matter if no one else is going to be there. Tell your friends you’ll be there and I bet some of them will go.

4. I’m sorry you haven’t finished your homework, but we have church tonight. You can do it when you get home. It never takes as long as you think it will.

5. That academic summer program sounds great, but it would prevent you from participating in church events. Let’s see if we can find a substitute that will work around church activities.

6. You don’t like all of the people on your sports team, but you have to learn to get along with them. Let’s try that with the kids at church.

7. Sometimes you think you don’t get anything out of going to school either, but you still have to go.

8. I’m sorry you have to miss that athletic competition on Sunday morning too, but we go to church at that time.

9. We can’t go on vacation that week. Our church is having VBS then.

10. Yes. You do have to go to church.


Sweet Delight

well-bred-ext2It took both twins using both hands to open the door of Weaverville’s Well-Bred Bakery & Café (and that with their mom giving it an extra push from above). Their hand prints clung to the glass, only 24 inches above the sidewalk outside. They raced in, eyes darting to the treats beckoning from the pastry case.

“Yum, yum, yum!” the little girl said, all rosy cheeked and eager. She squatted down, her knees by her shoulders, placed both hands on the glass, and began a sort of gleeful chant. Her brother scurried over and their eyes seemed to grow as they took in the vision before them.

“Two cakes, three forks, three plates?” The question was addressed to the mom, not the three year olds whose eyelashes were fluttering against the case.

“Yes! Yes! Yes!” they shouted as mom nodded. The twins jumped up and down, laughing in joyful anticipation as they watched the server place wax paper over each confection and carefully lift it out.wellbredcase

The kids hopped over to the closest table, climbed into their chairs, and began what they’d come to do. I turned to their mom.

“That’s what we all really want to do when we come to Well-Bred,” I told her. “For some reason, we just hold back.”


"Seize life! Eat bread with gusto, Drink wine with a robust heart. Oh yes - God takes pleasure in your pleasure!" Ecclesiastes 9:7 (The Message)
stink bug solution

Stink Bug Solution

Photo Credit Emma Weiss Photography

Me (getting tissue to get a stink bug off the wall): "I hate these stupid things!"

Margaret, alarmed: "Don't kill it!"

Me (thinking she was trying to avoid the post-mortem stench): "I'm going to flush it."

Margaret, further alarmed but now also aghast: "That will still KILL it."

Me (also now aghast): "Then you get rid of it.

Margaret to stink bug, with paper in hand, holding it up to the wall as a bridge: "Come here, that's right, there you go!" [Goes outside to free the thing and returns, grinning triumphant.]

(So that's one way to solve the problem. But if you don't have a stink bug pro-lifer in your home, consider this suggestion from Virginia Tech.)

The Chili Conclusion

retro-reminder-vintageimage-Graphics-Fairy2Yesterday I had this wicked migraine that turned me into the Mayberry Town Drunk. I spent most of the day in bed, dizzy, nauseated, and miserable. Finally at about 4:15 in the afternoon, I came to. My husband Jay, and daughter Margaret were in the dining room.

“Where’s your brother?” I asked her.

“Oh, he won’t be home until at least 8 tonight.”

“What in the world? Why?”



If this were a TV drama, you’d see a close-up of my face and then a series of images in quick succession: an email from a band parent, my response, another email reminding me, and my calendar with “Make chili for All-County Band” highlighted. I looked at Jay, wide-eyed.

“OHMYGOSH! I agreed to--”

“Aileen! Were you supposed to take something?”

“Make chili for-- ”

“How many people?”

“They wanted it there between--”

“Call and tell them it will be late--”

“4:30 and 5!” (It was 4:35. The school is less than five minutes from our house.)

“I’ll go get ground beef--”

“I’ll just make vegetarian.” I pulled chopped veggies from the freezer.

“No one wants vegetarian--”

“I think we have some ground beef.”

“Are you sure?”

“Of course not,” I grabbed cans of tomatoes and black beans from the pantry. “Margaret! Open these cans.”

“We don’t have enough beef; I’m going to Ingles.” (4:40)


By the time he returned 10 minutes later, all the other ingredients were in the pot. We browned the beef, mixed it with the other ingredients, and waited for it to boil. By 5:00 everything was done but the transport.

“Wait, you can’t take this over there like this,” Jay said, taking the bubbling pot off the stove and reaching for the crockpot.

“Good idea. That way--”

“They can plug it in.“ He poured the chili into the crock, put the lid on it, and clamped it in place.

“Yeah that . . . “ I swirled it around to stir it, letting it splash up onto the lid. “AND they’ll think I’ve been cooking it all day . . .”

I grabbed a ladle and dashed over to the school.  Luckily, when I arrived at 5:10 they had not even started serving yet. And (until now) no one was the wiser. 

Margaret's magic ice trays

Published May 27, 2013

margaret laughingb-001

“Hang on a second, Margaret, I just need to fill this ice tray. In fact, why don't you watch how I do this?” I turned on the tap, held the tray under the running water, turned the water back off, and returned the tray to the freezer.

“Done. And in a few hours, that will become ice!” (My youngest daughter should have known this by now—she's 15 after all.)

Before you ask, let me explain. We don't have an ice maker. Our house is older and though we've tried a couple of times, we just can't get an icemaker to function properly. Years ago, we gave up and reverted to good, old-fashioned, ice trays.

Now, I love ice in my drinks.  I've said many times, “If you get me a cup of ice, you'll be my favorite child!” This rule applies to my own children, nieces and nephews, kids at church, and, okay, perfect strangers. I like my ice. And so does Margaret. Only Margaret is in the habit of returning empty or nearly empty trays to the freezer without refilling them. This, I'll admit, is a tiny little problem in the realm of parenting. But still.

Margaret watched my ice-tray-refilling lesson with bored disinterest. “Okay,” she said, shrugging her shoulders, her eyes already starting to giggle, “But I've found that if you just put the trays back empty, they eventually refill themselves.”

Gratitude: Hearing

Top 10 Reasons I am Grateful I can Hear:

  • #10: The Ocean
  • photo (2)#9: Birds 
  • #8: Band Concerts
  • #7: Sarcasm
  • #6: First Baptist Church of Asheville's youth choir
  • #5: Hand bells
  • #4: My kids playing their instruments
  • #3: My kids singing
  • #2: My loved ones' voices
  • And the Number 1 reason I am grateful for my hearing?   Margaret's giggle!
Baker's Birthday

Gratitude Week 4: My Boy


My 17 year old son.

My baby boy, not yet one day old, slept bundled in my arms. Looking down at him, I dripped tears onto his soft flannel blanket.

A nurse entered the room, saw me crying, and asked, “You okay, Honey?”

I looked up and nodded. “I’m fine,” I said, my voice sounding weepy and weary even to me.

She must not have believed me. “It’s alright,” she said, fussing with my covers as she talked, “a lot of women suffer from postpartum depression.”

I shook my head. “No, that’s not it.” I was weeping now, gulping shallow breaths in an effort to pull myself together.

“Oh Sweetie! It’s nothing to be ashamed of,” she went on, her assumption unwavering. “It’s very common.”

“No, really,” I said. “I don’t have post-partum depression.”

photo 2

Baker being his silly self at 6 weeks old.

I wasn’t lying to her, or to myself. I was dealing with something else entirely.

Prior to that day, we were a family of three: Jay & I, and our little regent Trellace Marie. We had everything we needed, everything we wanted. And yet miraculously, we now had even more. I was completely enamored with and awed by the blessing I held in my arms. I was overwhelmed with love for my little family, but even more so by my gratitude to God for this undeserved gift of love and of grace.

“I’m not sad. I’m not depressed,” I told the nurse.  “In fact, I think I might have postpartum elation.”

And we are elated still, 17 years later, by our bigger-than-life blessing,  our son: Baker Powell Lawrimore.

Gratitude Week Three: Grown-ups

The other day, I ran into Ms. Linda Allison (aka The World’s Best Elementary School Ever). Ms. Allison retired from public education when my kids were still in grade school; but when I saw her she asked about each of my kids by name. (I love her!) And while Ms. Allison is an exceptional principal and educator, she is one of many adults who have blessed my kids.

What-a-child-doesnt-receive1My children have had so many wonderful adults to take an interest in their lives. Their grandparents, all four, call—or yes even text (they’ll do anything for those grandchildren)—them regularly. There are three sets of biological aunts and uncles, plus two sets who are related-by-love, and countless other adult friends who have shared time and talents with the Lawrimore kiddos.  School teachers, Bible study leaders, coaches, and tutors have gone out of their way to love my kids. Guidance counselors too, and all the ministers at our church. Oh and parents of their friends who take them into their homes for birthday parties, movie nights, and sleepovers.

I’m thankful my kids have relationships with people their ages who are confident, loyal, and affirming friends. Those friendships will no doubt sustain them throughout their lives. But I’m even more grateful that loving adults are committed to my kids: adults who model for them what it means to be godly, caring, and responsible grown-ups.

Margaret Keeps Slipping

When Margaret started middle school, I pulled out a bunch of old pictures, scanned them into my computer, and then made a slide show set to the Mama Mia tune, "Slipping Through my Fingers." (Masochistic? Maybe just a little.)

Tomorrow she has high school orientation. It seems like moments ago I was talking with my kindergarten girl about what she would be for Halloween.

So onward, little Queen of Hearts. Your kingdom awaits!

Straight A's

Fake Your Way to Straight A's


August 11, 2012

I published a form of this article in a kids magazine back in 2006. In about 10 days, I start teaching at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College (ABTech). I'll be teaching a class required for all first semester students on student success and study skills. Seemed like a good time to pull out this old article and post it. I've not updated it to include current technological aids, but I think you'll find these habits are timeless.

Fake Your Way to Straight A's

Disappointed in your grades? Want to be an A student? You can be. . .just fake it! All you have to do is find those academic superstars in your life and start imitating them. Here’s what you do: pay close attention to their class attendance; take note of how they take notes; and then study how they study. Once you have figured out how those A students act, just copy their behavior. Before long, your grades will look just like theirs!

One thing A students do is go to class--every time it meets. They treat class like a job. So do that. Be on time to class, pretending that you have to punch a time-clock. Be alert, ready to go to work. If you know you will have to miss a class, let the teacher know. Get your assignments. Act as if you care that you will not be there. If you do not know beforehand, just explain your absence to the teacher later. If possible, get a brief summary of the previous class and also find out how to make up any missed work. Then, of course, you should follow through and do the work. That’s what A students do.

C students often take lots and lots of notes, spending their whole class period with head down and pen to paper. Don’t do that. If you spend every second writing, you will miss the whole lecture. Most A students take notes sparingly. They have pre-defined abbreviations so that note-taking is more efficient. For instance, in a class on the Roman Empire, a good note-taker would just write a capital R for Rome or Roman, therefore writing less and listening more. After class is over, it’s a good idea to fill in any vague areas in your notes with details you might forget later. While you are doing that, quickly review all the day’s notes to solidify what you just learned. Take that a step further and breeze over them just before the next class begins. This way you have a fresh memory of the information from the previous class and can respond appropriately to the instructor’s questions. Not only does this make the upcoming information easier to digest, it also makes you look really smart.

A students study in many different ways. Some confine all study to an orderly desk. Others spread notes on the floor, prop up on an overstuffed pillow, and go to work. Whatever study environment suits your needs, that’s the environment you should create. It’s a good idea to post reminders in your study area so you will not forget what you are trying to fake. Make a sign for your study area that says, “A students enjoy studying!” Make a note in your car that reminds you, “A students make the most of every minute.” If you have a tendency to slouch in front of the TV like a solid D student, place a sign on it that suggests, “A students do not waste time.” (It’s not easy to be someone you have never been before; every little reminder helps.) Also, remember to allow sufficient time to study alone, even if you participate in study groups. Many A students benefit from group study; you might as well. But most A students prepare for group sessions in private and also do ample studying on their own.

One key aspect of studying is scheduling. At the start of your course, break down course requirements into daily study requirements. Stick to the plan whenever possible, but revise your schedule as the course progresses and as needs change. Sometimes classes need more time than you originally thought. Revise your plan if this is the case. And sometimes you will get behind. Again, readjust, refocus and get back on schedule. A students get off schedule all the time. The trick is, they make a new plan, they readjust, and then they get back to work.

Many times a study environment requires certain tools--things like computers, test tubes, calculators, books, notebooks and pens. But often, we find ourselves with time to study in places where these items are not within reach. When the tools that you normally use are not readily available, consider using mental rehearsal. This technique involves reviewing necessary information in your mind as if you were actually studying or practicing it. You can silently recite historical dates, mentally practice a music score or dance routine, or review mathematical or scientific equations, all without picking up a pen or lifting a finger. Mental rehearsal is convenient. It helps you make use of time that is often wasted. While you commute to class or wait in line, while you wait for your doctor's appointment or sit in line at the drive through window, wherever you are, you can use your best study tool--your brain.

One very irritating thing about A students is that they always do their class assignments, whether they get a grade or not. They practice formulas and do their reading assignments. So if you want to fake your way into straight A’s, this is crucial. No C student does assigned work just for the sake of doing it. So do those assignments, and do them in advance. A students usually have reading assignments complete before class discussion of that reading ever begins. They even bring questions to class about completed assignments that stumped them. And remember, A students do get stumped--all the time. They just ask questions, figure it out, and keep moving.

So are you ready for the test? You should be, almost. Because if you have done all these other things that A students do, cramming for the test will not be necessary. Complete additional study and review before the test. Do not stay up all night. Get plenty of rest and eat a good meal--that brain of yours needs sleep and nourishment! Get to the test on time, dressed in clothes that make you feel confident. (In other words, look the part.) Then get in there and ace that test!

See, you do not have to be an A student. Just pretend that you are! And in no time, you will find people are starting to imitate you!