podcast series with Lisa Cherry from Frontline Moms Ministries on the sexual abuse of children and homeschooling families, part one

lisa cherry

Lisa Cherry from Frontline Moms

One of our goals as homeschooling parents is to seek to raise our children in a safe environment and to avoid many of the dangers that face our children, especially in the sex-saturated culture we find ourselves living in today. Sadly, homeschooling families are not immune from the dangers of sexual abuse and the goal of this podcast series is to bring attention to this problem and to offer parents some tools for increasing their awareness of sexual predators and to offer ways to protect our children. My guest is Lisa Cherry from Frontline Moms.

Be sure to visit Lisa’s events page on Facebook for details about the upcoming Sexual Abuse Prevention Week for Homeschoolers on October 27-31, 2014. Listen live to be part of the conversation or listen to the recorded podcasts later. Be sure to invite your friends to listen as well.

October 18, 2014
Interview with Lisa Cherry Part 1.

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bearing burdens



In John Bunyan’s famous allegory, The Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian, the protagonist, makes his way along the path to the Celestial City but falls into a miry swamp, “such a place as cannot be mended; it is the descent whither the scum and filth that attends conviction for sin doth continually run, and therefore is it called the Slough of Despond: for still as the sinner is awakened about his lost condition, there ariseth in his soul many fears, and doubts, and discouraging apprehensions, which all of them get together, and settle in this place; and this is the reason of the badness of this ground.” Christian struggles to near exhaustion when a friend named Help comes along and, looking from a different vantage point, is able to see steps that come up out of the bog. He shows them to Christian, who is then able to get free of the entanglements of the slough and they both go on their way.

I believe this has a particular message for parents as we mentor our children. We, ourselves, are further down the path than our little ones. We know the dangers and the trials associated with sin as well as life’s struggles; we, too, have wallowed in the Slough of Despond. So when our precious children fall and are tempted to despair, we can come alongside them and are able to give them steps to returning back to the path! What a privilege it is to be called to such a glorious ministry of encouragement in their lives!

from The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling ~ when the one anothers come home


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podcast series with Jim and Lynne Jackson from Connected Families, part three


Join me in the conversation with Jim and Lynne Jackson from Connected Families as we talk about confronting meltdowns, consequences, encouraging moms, and embracing grace!

Remember to leave a comment on one of these podcasts to win one of the Jacksons’ books for even more parenting encouragement delivered to your door!

October 11, 2014
Interview with Jim and Lynne Jackson Part 3.

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my birthday and the rest of the story

lois jean

Lois Jean

 I shared part of this story here a year ago. Today I am sharing “the rest of the story.”

I have written about my own adoption several times on this blog and even shared my thoughts about my birthmother on a Mother’ Day podcast. Though I had not ever made any serious attempts to do an adoption search for her, she was in my heart and mind through the years I was growing up, especially during my first pregnancy. I wondered what my daughter would looks like and spent many hours pondering how painful it must have been to carry a baby and give her up for adoption. Several times I spoke with those who kept records at Crittenton Home where I was born but since they were only able to give me what they called “non-identifying information,” there was really little for me to go on to begin any sort of real search.

Three years ago, in November, adoption law in Illinois changed to allow adoptees born during a certain time period to obtain their original birth certificates from the state. The day they were available, I mailed in my money and request.

A couple days after Christmas it arrived and I opened it with most of my family here and looking on. To my disappointment, the name of my birthmother was left blank and the only new information was that she was 14 the day I was born, she had been born in Illinois, and my given name was Karen Sue Gilmore. “I am a Gilmore girl!” I announced and we all laughed.

Immediately everyone took to their computers and phones, googling “Gilmore” and “Peoria” but none of us really knew what to do with this information. I called the Department of Records in Springfield to ask about the missing name and was told that this was a common practice at homes for unwed mothers in those years. So I tucked away the paperwork in a large manila envelope, along with the other information I had, and placed it back on the shelf in my library.


With my own grandma, mom, and dad, circa 1957.

The past few years had been pretty full in my life, much of the time spent caring for my own mom who was suffering from increased dementia. Even in her better days I felt she probably would not have accepted any contact with my birthmother so I continued to keep this search on the back burner. She passed away in April of 2013, right before her 91st birthday.

Fall came, and as usual, I began to think a lot about my birthmother. I began to look forward to my 60th birthday in October. I wanted do something special and personal so I arranged to have a tour of the Crittenton Home building where I had been born.

Then, in September, I received a phone call from a woman in Florida who had also been adopted and was looking for a half brother. She believed my husband might be him because she had a list of six men who were born in a certain town in Illinois on the same day and he was one of them. I assured her that he was not adopted but joked that I had been! ”Have you ever done a search?” she asked me. “No,” I replied, sharing with her about my disappointment when receiving my original birth certificate. “Have you tried researching with the 1940 census?” she questioned. “It really is an amazing tool!” While we were still on the phone, we became Facebook friends so we could encourage each other and she invited me into several online adoption groups. She explained that this document was the most accurate and thorough record available for finding someone born before 1940 and encouraged me to use it.

That afternoon I pulled up the 1940 US Census on Ancestry.com and began to look through the list of young women named Gilmore. Since I knew my birthmother had to have been born in 1938 or 1939 in Illinois, I was able to find a list of 27 women who met that description! I started eliminating those with older siblings because one of the pieces of information I had from Crittenton talked about younger half-siblings. Suddenly, if the name Gilmore was accurate, I had narrowed my search field considerably! Since their parents’ names were also listed, I began working my way through obituaries.

The next few days I was able to check several women off my list as the obituaries I found didn’t match with the information in my records. Then one evening it came to me that if I were to contact the Crittenton records department, perhaps they could give me her name since it should have been in their documents. After I was finally able to get to the right department, I reached a sweet young woman to told me, unfortunately, she could not give me the name. She pulled up my records on her computer and together we lamented the injustice. Before I hung up, I asked “Well, can you at least tell me if the name Gilmore is an accurate name?”

“Yes, that would be correct,” she told me.

A chill ran down my back. I knew my name WAS my name!

“Because,” I continued, “You see, I am using the 1040 Census list and have found a list of 27 women with the last name of Gilmore and now know it has to be one of these. I appreciate your help.”

I started to say “Goodbye” when she interrupted, “Well, tell me, what names do you have on that list?” she asked.

“I have a Marilyn.”

“No,” she said.

“I have a couple Barbaras,” I told her.

“Ummm, no, that wouldn’t be accurate.”

“I do have a Lois Jean,” I told her.

“Why yes, that would be correct.”

“So you are confirming that my birthmother’s name was Lois Jean Gilmore?” I began to tear up.

“Yes, that is correct,” she said. We both got weepy.

I got off the phone and had to soak it all in for a while. I googled the name and it took me back to Ancestry.com where someone had done a family tree that included her name and there it listed the five half-siblings that had been mentioned in my original paperwork! It stated that she had died 15 years ago. I then googled the name of the man who had recorded the research and within 5 minutes found his phone number and was talking with him in California. He didn’t know her married name, he told me, but he could find it. He took my e-mail and in another 5 minutes he sent it to me along with her husband’s name, street address, and phone number in Peoria! At least I could make contact with family members!

Later that afternoon my son made a call to her home and spoke with her husband. He assured him that we were 100% accurate about the identity and that we had no expectations on him but would like any family medical history or pictures if he would be willing to share them. In the meantime I found a memorial record online as well as an obituary from the Peoria Journal Star. Within a few days I had pictures, a lot more information, and several close friends willing to share with me what they knew of her. A few months later I had the honor the honor of meeting with some of these dear new friends for lunch and also had an opportunity to learn even more about this woman who gave me life! Clay and I visited her grave and plan to do so regularly in the future. Though I am sad not to have met her, I look forward to meeting her one day as I have learned that she was a believer. I have also found some answers about myself in listening to what her friends had to say about her, that she was a real people person and never knew a stranger, and I see me in her face, too!

It has been a year since I learned the identity of my birthmother and so much has happened. I have been welcomed into the home she shared with her husband for many decades and have met more family and friends. People have shared pictures and stories with me and I am so grateful for the new friendships I have made.



So, since today is my birthday, I would like to share, as Paul Harvey would say, “the rest of the story” with you.

We like to think of the post WW2 years as an idyllic time in history, when dads went to work at well-paying jobs and moms wore pearls and raised their children in quiet, tree-lined neighborhoods. There were many families who enjoyed those sorts of homes, but there were other families, where deep, dark secrets lurked and where children were not valued or treasured.

Sweet Lois Jean was born in LaHarpe, Illinois, not far from the Mississippi River and not long before World War 2 broke out. Her own mother, Edith, was only 16 when Lois Jean was born and barely a year later her father, George, died of cancer. One of the earliest pictures I have is of Lois Jean as a baby in her mother’s arms, taken the day of his funeral.

As the story is told, George, anticipating his death, asked an older fellow he had met at work to help care for his little family when he was gone. “Vic,” who was the divorced father of two, and 41 at the time, agreed to do so; within a year, he married Edith. Over the next 10 years, Vic and Edith had 4 more children, 3 boys and a girl. During this time, they moved to Peoria where Vic had a good job and provided well for his growing family.

As time went on, they divorced and Edith moved out, leaving behind all five children, including Lois Jean. The children were divided up and sent to foster homes but eventually Vic had both Lois and their oldest son back in his home. Not long afterward, Lois Jean conceived me. Through family members, I have learned that Vic was my birthfather; he was 54 and Lois was barely 14. Pictures of him as a young man show such a family resemblance that I have no doubt this is true; what I had long suspected was confirmed: I was conceived in both rape and incest.

Many people have asked me how I have been able to accept the truth about my conception and my response is that I can so clearly see God’s amazing plan for my own life through it all. You see, my birthmother went on to marry and had three more children. The first two had cystic fibrosis and died in early childhood; the third had drowned in a horrible boating accident when only seven. But God, in His sovereignty, chose to preserve my life, give me Christian parents, a wonderful husband, six children, and 14 grandchildren! What another had meant for evil, God meant for good!


The top picture is of me and the bottom one is of my three sweet half siblings.

Just recently, I was allowed to peek inside the cedar chest my birthmother had kept under the eaves in her attic. It was full of so many treasures: baby clothes worn by my siblings, their tiny hospital bracelets, a few toys, pictures taken on past Christmases, and baptismal certificates. At the bottom of the trunk in an old yellowed envelope was a single picture of a young girl, her round tummy just beginning to show a pregnancy, the date on the back matching the day my birthmother was taken to Crittenton Home. It was her only picture of me!


 Lois Jean right before she was taken to Crittenton Home, June, 1953.

Today I am celebrating another year of life, a gift from God. I am so thankful for all the Lord has done for me, for His plans, for His providence, for His protection! My story has brought new meaning to Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”


The blessing of family!

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“When we see homeschooling parents struggle with accepting the children God has given them for who they are, we are actually seeing a lack of contentment. Repeatedly homeschoolers are told to expect great things from our children, that they are the future, that they will stand head and shoulders above children who weren’t educated at home. We begin to compare our children and their ability to be leaders by someone else’s standards and we become discontent with how they are made, the qualities they have that might not make great leaders but qualities that the body of Christ desperately needs. In my own life I have discovered that lack of contentment and the various temptations it brings, especially as a parent, is truly the result of not seeking to follow after God with a whole heart, of not choosing to live thankfully, of refusing to pursue godliness, of denying the grace of God that He so willingly pours out. Puritan pastor Jeremiah Burroughs puts it this way: “’There is a compound of grace in contentment: there is faith, and there is humility, and love, almost all graces are compounded. It is an oil which has the ingredients of every kind of grace and therefore, though you cannot see the particular grace, yet in this oil you have it all.’” ~ from The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling ~ when the one anothers come home

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podcast series with Jim and Lynne Jackson from Connected Families, part two


In this week’s podcast, Jim, Lynne, and I talk about the “first time obedience” teachings that have become the standard of so-called “biblical” parenting in modern evangelicalism.  We also discuss the powerful game-changing quality of parental repentance. If you haven’t listened to Part One, let me encourage you to do so and be sure to leave a comment each time to be put into the drawing for a free book from the Jacksons! Let me also encourage you to visit the Jackson’s website and to follow them on Facebook!

October 4, 2014
Interview with Jim and Lynne Jackson Part 2.

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thatmom’s apple dumplings



This is one of those recipes everyone looks forward to having once the leaves start changing and we make a trip to the orchard for apples, squash, and cider!  I first made it the year we were married and it has been a favorite ever since! Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

2 cups sifted flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup shortening (I like to use butter.)
1/3 cup ice water
6 medium apples, peeled and cored
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup sugar
4 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1 cup hot water
Cut shortening into flour until there are coarse pieces. Add ice water and mix until dough ball forms. Roll out on floured surface. Cut six 6 inch circles. Place prepared apples into a greased 9 X 13 pan. Combine cinnamon, nutmeg, and 1/2 cup sugar. Divide mixture and put into centers of apples. Dot with 2 Tbs butter. Fit pastry circle over each apple, barely tucking them under. Bake in hot oven (425 degrees) for 25 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degree and remove from oven. In sauce pan, mix the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, lemon juice, 2 Tbs butter, and hot water. Simmer on stove then pour over apples. Return to oven and bake another 15 minutes or until apples are soft and crust is golden.
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can homeschoolers police themselves?


“As I listened to the discussion, it took me back forty years, to when parents were being jailed for their conviction to homeschool their own children. In state after state, moms and dads began building coalitions and support groups, linked together by phone trees and newsletters, all determined to assure our rights to educate at home. One determined mother I know drove from the top of Illinois to the bottom, sleeping on family room floors, while garnering a database of parents to call in case of pending legislation. We loved God, we loved our children, and we loved freedom.

Today, as it was then, that freedom is undergirded by the personal commitment we make to our own children and each other, being ever aware of how quickly it could all be taken away. I believe we are now facing another threat to those freedoms, this time from within……” Continue reading this article I wrote for Home Educating Family and consider subscribing for more helpful articles and insights written with you in mind!

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podcast series with Jim and Lynne Jackson from Connected Families, part one


Jim and Lynne Jackson, founders of Connected Families and co-authors of How to Grow a Connected Family and Discipline that Connects with Your Child’s Heart, have over fifty years combined professional experience working with children, teens, and families. In 1990, after serving as ministry staff in two large churches and bearing two intense and lively kids, Jim and Lynne became very intentional about parenting, and then about helping other parents. Lynne became a pediatric Occupational Therapist. Jim became a director of a ministry to high-risk teens and their families. They added a third child, completing their AAA hat-trick (that is, adding a third child with ADHD, Asthma, and Allergies. Quite an intense bunch!). As Jim and Lynne toughed out those early years, they started developing numerous resources to inspire and equip parents for grace and truth in their relationships at home.

After serving hundreds of parents and thousands of kids it became clear more was needed. In 2002 Jim and Lynne founded Connected Families to partner with churches to build strong families. Their presentations bring real life to audiences through impromptu role-plays, transparent stories of their own successes and failures, and stories of the experiences of hundreds of parents they have coached over the years. They leave parents laughing, crying, encouraged and equipped to uniquely bring God’s grace to life in their homes right away! As Faith@Home coaches, Jim and Lynne work with church staff to create church-wide strategies to more effectively equip parents for discipleship in their homes. Whether in the trenches with parents as mentors, on the stage as presenters, or in planning meetings with staff, Jim and Lynne bring a wealth of experience, overflowing passion, and years of wisdom to their service.

Be sure to join the conversation and have a chance to receive a free copy of one of the Jacksons’ books! Just leave a comment after each podcast and I will put your name into the hat. One week after the podcast airs, I will draw a name from that week’s comments! Be sure to invite your friends…this is an awesome resource for families and I am so excited to be adding them to our podcast archives!

Note: You can also download this podcast directly to your Mp3 player by visiting thatmom on iTunes!

September 29, 2014
Interview with Jim and Lynne Jackson Part 1.

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are you a mom who can change?

duggar me

This was taken abut 25 years ago! 

The outward appearance is only a reflection of the change the Lord did in my heart!

“Researcher George Barna’s study on teens reveals many truths that moms need to understand. In interviewing young people from assorted backgrounds, he found that 75% of them felt that they were very close to their mothers and that as many gave her an “A” in parenting. In fact, less than 6% gave mom a “C” or lower on the mom final! However, the high grades do not reflect everything about their relationships and over 30% of them thought there were things they would like to have changed but didn’t entertain the idea of doing so because they didn’t ever see their moms changing!


In pondering why this is, especially when it comes to Christian homeschooling moms, I think we have besetting sins that drive our attitudes and that keep us from change. Sometimes those sins are part of the baggage we brought into our homeschooling journey. Sometimes they come about through the lack of discernment when it comes to approaching the Word of God. Usually conviction comes to us through experiencing the consequences of the emotional, physical, or spiritual damage our words or actions are inflicting on those we love. If we are in the 70% of those moms who are willing to change and honestly look at the choices we make in raising our children, we have taken the first step of receiving God’s grace in parenting. If we are in the other 30%, we must recognize that anything that falls short of practicing the one anothers of Scripture quickly becomes idolatry.” from The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling ~ when the one anothers come home

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