Words that Heal

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Spotlight on a Mean Mom – Lara Van Hulzen

Spotlight on a Mean Mom - JoanneKraft.com

Welcome to our very firstSpotlight on a Mean Mom”! Every Monday you’ll get to meet someone new!

Has your child ever said you were mean? If this is your first time here you need to know something–what a child defines as mean a mom defines as instilling loving boundaries. Remember, the word mean isn’t always the mean they think it means.

The Mean Mom’s Guide to Raising Kids will be available in March 2015. I had some help from some very special ladies while working on this book over  the summer.

LOTS of mean moms and marshmallow moms raised their hand to be a part of The Mean Mom Team, a focus group I pulled together on Facebook. (If you’d like to join just click on “The Mean Mom Team” above. We’d LOVE to have you!)

Their wisdom was incredibly helpful, I thought, Why not interview mean moms so everyone can meet them? 

So, here we are!

Would you please say howdy to our first Mean Mama — Lara Van Hulzen!

Spotlight on a MM - Lara Van Hulzen

Lara Van Hulzen is mom to three GREAT KIDS in California–a daughter (16) and twin boys (14). 


Lara, would you consider yourself a mean mom or a soft marshmallow mom? 

I’m a mean mom. I get marshmellowy sometimes but I truly believe when a mom is firm and loving it reaps a harvest of independent, self-sufficient adults, which I believe is my job as a mom. (more…)

The Forgiveness Box


JoanneKraft.com forgiveness box prayer box

Paul and I host a weekly small group from our church on Tuesday nights. We love this time of the week. No matter what life throws at us, hanging out with our new friends is a treat. Recently, we were discussing those people in our life who are difficult to love. 

I’m sure you have a few in your life, too. 

I shared about my struggle with someone in my life who is difficult to love. Apparently, my hurt and discouragement for not being able to let go of past hurts for very long inspired one of the gals in our group to share what helps her.

“Have you prayed for this person, Joanne?” She sweetly asked. “It helps me alot if I stop and pray for the person I’m struggling to love.” She went on, “I write down my prayers and put them in a box. Maybe that’s what you should do. Sometimes it helps to do something like that–an exercise.” She smiled. 

A box? Could I write down all my hurts and put them on paper? This box better be made of steel, hidden from the light of day and sealed with padlocks and crazy glue. I thought.

She was right. I wasn’t praying for this person. As a matter of fact, there were actually “persons” who I struggled with loving and forgiving. I wasn’t praying for any of them. I was only praying for my own hurts and complaining about them–over and over again to God.

The following week, she showed up with a beautiful gold decoupage box in hand.  Decorated with a heart, ribbon and a sparkly cross…I love it. She made it herself which makes it even more special. I am now using it to write down prayers and place them inside, an outward expression of releasing hurt while praying for them, too.

Sometimes doing something physical, a written exercise of sorts, makes a bigger impact on our heart.

How about making your own “Forgiveness Box” today? Or, maybe you have a jar with a lid that would work? That person who hurt you? The one who doesn’t seem to care about you? The one who says they love you but their actions say something entirely different? Yeah, that one…

Start writing down your prayers for them. Heap blessings on their life and watch and see what happens to your own. 

Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32

Psssst….one last thing. The gal who made me my own beautiful forgiveness box, she has a blog. And, she’s a very good writer. You might want to mosey on over there and check her out HERE.

Forgiveness. It’s Not A One-Time Event

joannekraft.com forgiveness

It seems forgiveness is a gift I love to receive, yet I struggle to give.

I was raised by good parents who taught good things, but I never remember being taught how to forgive.

When that moment came in my adult life, that moment I recognized I was a sinner, forgiveness was the sweetest experience of all.

Recently, my mind has been replaying hurts –not a good thing. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we go back over and over to those painful places that hurt us? There’s nothing good that comes from that…nothing. 

Forgiveness is not an elective in the curriculum of servanthood. It is a required course, and the exams are always tough to pass. – Charles Swindoll

How about you join me today in breaking free from bitterness and unforgiveness?

Let’s begin with baby steps.

  • Dont use memories as weapons. Stop reruns of painful memories. Don’t play them over and over in  your mind. Those thoughts are seeds that only  grow bitterness and regret, resentment and selfishness.
  • Do think about the person that hurt us in good ways. Example: God loves them. God wants a relationship with them.
  • Don’t think too much of yourself. All this time you’re thinking about an offense and the offender–guess what?  They probably aren’t thinking about the situation much at all. Don’t waste time. God only gives us so much.
  • Turn thoughts into prayers. Take each negative thought captive and twist them into a prayer of healing.

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

 Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV

Stop by tomorrow and I’ll show you a little exercise I’m doing to help me forgive. I think you’re really going to like it!

A Visit and a Reminder

family mom grandma blogWhen we moved to Tennessee we left behind our family and friends. It was a tough decision and one we didn’t take lightly. On June 25th, 2012 we watched the people we loved dearly grow smaller and smaller in our rear view mirror. Our silver Chevy Suburban pulled out of the driveway and headed south. I wondered what it would be like to start a life from scratch. When we arrived here everything was unfamiliar—including the people.

We’ve lived in Tennessee now for twenty-eight months. In over two years we’ve opened our home for company twenty-two different times. Family and friends have arrived by airplane and cross-country drives. Many brought their whole family, and a few arrived alone. We’ve been breakfast-makers and tour guides and have been known to drop off guests at the Nashville airport, only to return later that evening to pick up more.

This morning we took my aunt and uncle to the airport after spending a week together. I cried when we said our good-byes. Having my aunt here was pretty awesome and it’s the closest I’ll ever get to having my mom come visit==which made this visit even sweeter. Being able to talk about my mom, to hear stories about her and reminisce of good times and even sad times was oxygen to my soul.

Seven days of exploring new places, sharing old stories, wiping tears and enjoying much laughter made me realize–You never stop loving your mom. You never stop missing home.

I love sharing our new home with guests. I love spending quality time with so many who make their way to the south, many for the first time. The joy in these visits? We have time to talk and to enjoy each other. Living closer doesn’t seem to make time more available but gives more excuses not to make time.

This week, a tiny piece of my family and of my hometown –San Lorenzo, California made their way to Franklin, Tennessee to see why we moved here and to remind this California girl that I come from an amazing family and I’m loved.

I’m not sure company gets any better than that.


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