Thursday, April 28, 2011


I admit I can be pretty intense.  I have a bent toward taking life rather seriously, and a husband and a son who can match me in this tendency.  But then there’s the youngest in our family.  He is twelve and still milking that baby thing.  We have been trying to nudge him along in his character maturation, and we have had some roadblocks.  Every Sunday morning, he rests on my shoulder or tugs at my arm throughout the worship service.  It has been a difficult task for him to sit quietly for the one and a half hours without being redirected.
This week he managed to score a bagel and cream cheese before walking in to the service.  He was so happy with his bagel that he couldn’t keep from swinging it around and talking to it in between bites.  The problem was we were in the middle of worship.  Singing and focused on God.  When I told my youngest boy that this is the time to give attention to Jesus, he replied in his sincere and lighthearted way, “I am.  I’m letting Him know I am so thankful for this bagel”.  Had it been another kid, I would have thought he was being a smart alec, but not this kid.  While hiding my giggles, I took in a deep breath.  His childlike joy really is a part of worship, and I can learn from him.  This happy-go-lucky, singing, dancing, sweet spirit is loosening me up.  His name means, “trickling stream”, and that morning my heart was refreshed by my little man.
Bonnie Christensen

Friday, April 22, 2011


i was blaming it on a full moon.  the one from a week and a half ago.  on the cereal i had for breakfast.  because i do believe that cereal is a sucky way to start your day.  that you get tricked in to feeling full but then, you aren’t and you are hungry thirty minutes later.  like chinese food.
i blamed it on a lack of sleep and on the pending doom of missing my husband.  i was stressed over lost shot records which made me look like a bad mommy.  those feelings led to assumed judgement of a mommy of almost four with people saying “if you can’t do the job, stop creating the work” and all sorts of other cruel things i imagined being pinned with.  what kind of mommy loses three kid’s shot records.  i know, the mommy who hasn’t organized her filing system in two years but instead just stacks papers together and prays for the documents she needs to jump out at her.  i blamed it on all of that.
i was so lost in my own world that i couldn’t see a way out.  i prayed about it but it sounded empty.  hollow.  i knew that there was something else not right and that my prayers were all muddled up with that.  was life really that awful right now?  life in my warm, clean home with my cuddly, energetic children with my supportive and goofy mr ballard…was it really that bad?  there were no deaths or divorces or starving people.  there was no dirty water or sickness or cancer.  there was nothing for me to complain about really.  nothing.
was i thankful for all these things i did have?  if so, i certainly wasn’t showing it.  maybe i should be.  amidst the temper tantrums of a two year old who is just playing off mama and the pouting of a six year old who just doesn’t feel like doing her school work, i was stuck there complaining (to myself) about a life lost luster.  it moved me. it moved me to a collection of miniature notebook paper.
mini composition book and pen met.  i am not sure what led me here but for some reason, the call to "feel thankful" was overwhelming.  the draw to acknowledge the good was strong.  a few things from the morning that i had found a glimmer of joy in filled the first page.  i set the book down, pen as my marker, for the next moment of joy recognized.  for about two hours, i would find myself back at that white tile counter, standing on one leg.  like a flamingo as i scrawled another small joy to be thankful for.
i would love to say it worked.  my mood did turn around as slowly only the good was acknowledged and the bad was released back into it’s wild.  the more i wrote, the more my heart changed.  i was seeing and acknowledging joy in the things God had given me that morning and...less and less i was shaking my fist at what i seemed to be in need of.  invitations to children to join me in hugs were sent out, prayers whispered into their tiny ears replaced complaints of messy rooms, and  tears poured down my face as i uncoverd shot records in a place only Jesus could have led me to.  joy was washing away anger.  it was washing away all roads that even dared venture to anger.  i would say that list worked.
my little book of things to be thankful for.  a few more pages are filled each day as i find new meaning in cold green grapes that i don’t have to share.  or sprinkled sugar cookies that i can’t help but share.  it’s filled with funny quotes and copied text messages.  with spiderman jammies and matching slippers, warm towels from the dryer, muddy boots from rain puddle play and body wash that smells so good i could eat it.  it’s getting filled up.  and so am i.

Friday, April 15, 2011


tantrums on the floor.  screaming for no reason.  boo boo lips.  tears all down the cheeks.
it was time for mama to take a time out.  the morning was hard.  the clothes i so carefully laid out didn’t seem to ever make it on their little bodies, clearly due to lack of effort.  whining started over an unrequested breakfast and evolved into grumbles about the plans for our day.  ears that normally hear the slightest noise of a candy wrapper crinkle (in mama’s hand in mama’s closet…in secret) couldn’t hear a direct request less than three feet from their lobes.  what is wrong with these little people this morning?
silence.  we drive in silence to an errand that had to be done, not because of anger but because i think all of us just really liked the sound.  random questions start to bounce around as random answers are thrown in the mix.  everything from ‘what is a hooterus’ (uterus…we home school…odd stuff comes up…just go with it) to talks about fall colors to singing the christopher columbus rhyme…they all happen in this car ride.  they get me laughing but my mind is on other things.  dinner, a talk i have to give the next day, my current to-do list of photography jobs, the laundry, if i remembered to send a thank you to a friend…stuff like that.
we get home and all the crazies starts again.  i can’t handle it so i put myself in time out…and i pray.  you know the funny thing about prayer?  sometimes God shows us just how ugly we are.  here i am begging for my children to be put back to normal and i am called out instead.  that burns.  like icy hot, it burns.  it hurts a bit at first but starts to feel cool…and comforting.  as i am praying, my phone alerts me to a new email i just received…and i stop praying to check it.  eek.  i just wrote that.  yeah…i know…i stopped praying to check my phone.  God doesn’t send emails.  it didn’t hit me until i opened the email, read it and got in a feeling of pressure to answer it immediately.  out of no where, all three kids come scrambling to my side with three different request in three different pitches that, when combined, made my head spin and ears hurt.
all of a sudden, it was made very clear to me.  there was nothing wrong with these three little people today.  it was me.  i was allowing worry to take over and it was making me ugly.  maybe dinner will be nachos tonight because that is easy.  maybe the laundry won’t get done today but it will have to someday lest we plan on starting a nudist colony.  maybe i have to stay up until midnight working to get things done.  and maybe the thank you note can wait a day or two more.  right now, i need to take some time out and cuddle with my kids.  i need to kiss their foreheads, squeeze them tight and let them know they are so very important.  i need to shut off my brain, give them my full attention and let my job as mommy be the only thought on my mind.  we have games to play, books to read, bikes to ride…and then…I will teach them how to fold laundry.
Amy B

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Like many of you, we are on a tight budget.  Problem is, I like to shop.  Okay, that’s an understatement.  I love the hunt for a sale, the smell of new leather, the texture and weaves of fabrics, even the excitement of a new bag of groceries.  Is it obvious?  I can get out of control.  So, I’m fasting this month.  Not from food, but from shopping.  Whenever I have the impulse to shop unnecessarily, I’m staying put.  I’m exchanging the desire with more productive things.  And I’m not doing it alone-I’ve asked my Heavenly Father for help.  Help honoring my husband in this matter, controlling my impulses, and managing our financial priorities.
It’s now the third week of this shopping fast, and it is getting tough!  Today I drove past the Galleria and thought about going in to browse.  The quiet voice of the Holy Spirit, our Helper, reminded me, “Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established.  Do not turn to the right nor to the left. Turn your foot from evil” (Proverbs 4:26,27).  I didn’t listen.  I turned right and parked.   I paused for a moment after stepping foot into the store, then stubbornly took the escalator to the women’s department.  I sifted through the bargains and picked a few to try on.  I can always justify a sale!  Again, the Helper told me “Flee”.  This time I listened.
As I drove home, tears filled my eyes.  Not from guilt or shame, but gratitude that God has given us the Helper to guide us into a life that is honoring to Him.  He doesn’t force us into action; instead He speaks to our hearts and gives us power for daily living.  It’s up to you and me to listen, respond “yes”, and then experience the freedom that comes from walking closely with our Lord.  This is what it means to “Walk in the Spirit”.
Whatever the battle you face today, will you let your Heavenly Father know you need His help?  You can trust that the Holy Spirit, your Helper, will do His job by guiding you into all Truth.  Ask Him to help you hear His voice and to respond, “Yes, Lord”.  Then come back and tell me how He blesses your life!


Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Right now, I am in the middle of fairly intense media training. My assignment is to shoot 5 one-minute videos each day. That’s not so difficult. However, later that day, I have sit down with a team of people while we all watch and critique the videos. And believe me, there is a lot to critique.

The team tackles issues such as gestures, phraseology, eye movements, expression, emphasis, content, lighting, makeup, and wardrobe. Yesterday was a particularly spectacular day because I wore a sweater that blended into the background and made me appear as though I had no arms.  Seriously, every person watching the video laughed out loud, pointed and said, “you have no arms!!” or “wardrobe malfunction!!”
It sucks.
I am deriving very little pleasure from this process.
All my insecurities and perfectionist tendencies are coming to the surface.
I want to run and hide every time the team meets.
I cringe every time a new video starts.
And yet, I am keenly aware that if I want to accomplish some of my goals for 2011 this is exactly the type of training that I need. I will only develop this skill set by completing my assignment each and every day and then learning how I can improve – not just through my own eyes, but from the perspectives of others too. It helps that when I look up from my computer to the list of goals that hangs on the wall across from me, I am able to remember the reasons why I must press on despite the fact that I am miles outside of my comfort zone.
But it still sucks.
As I ponder what I am doing, it occurs to me that it is not unlike one of the principles that I teach my coaching clients.
If you are going to become a better lover, you must practice. I don’t just mean have sex more often; I mean have times in which you consciously lower your expectations of each other. I find that we put enormous expectations on our sexual relationships. They have to be good, all the time. There is very little room for “practice sex”.
In practice sex, the two of you decide that you want to get more skilled in a particular area. Perhaps she has never had multiple orgasms before, and you want to see what it takes to get her there. Perhaps he would like oral sex as part of your foreplay, and you are completely intimidated by this concept.
Set aside time when the two of you agree that you are going to practice. By agreeing ahead of time, you ease the pressure of performance. Then, allow for mistakes (and possibly even mediocre sex) during this time.  Remember that it’s okay to not be great when you are practicing!!  The goal is learning how to become better!!
Just as I am learning as I shoot these videos, couples need to remember that in order to get really good at sex, you have to go through the awkward learning stage. So be patient with each other and enjoy it as much as possible!
I am now going to take my own advice and set up the video camera.
PS – My goal is to start rolling out “Vlogs” soon. Hopefully, I will have arms in them.
Eryn-Faye Frans, Canada's Passion Coach®

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


The other day a coworker of mine brought me a daffodil. Just one extra yellow, long stemmed, wonderful daffodil. I think she bought it for a dollar from a homeless woman outside of our office building.
That daffodil revolutionized my day. 
I would gaze at it and my face would break into the biggest grin. I was friendlier and more outgoing for the rest of the day. On my way home, I held my daffodil out against the backdrop of concrete buildings and sidewalks and cars and people - astonished at how beautifully my simple yellow flower stood out against a normal, grey, Seattle day. I sniffed the daffodil about every five seconds on the bus, burying my nose into the petals and smiling to myself. My heart was full from one person reaching out to me in a small, oh-so-sweet way.
Can you believe the effect of that little gift? I’m not sure if my coworker faced these same anxieties, but if I was her I might have thought about how nice it would be to give someone a flower, but that’s where I would have stopped - at a nice idea. I would have scared myself out of following through by thinking: “one flower is too small - it has to be a bouquet or the receiver will think you’re cheap,” or “you don’t know her that well - she will think you’re weird for giving her a gift.” 
After realizing what a blessing an unexpected gift was to me, I am learning to be aware of opportunities to encourage someone else and brave enough to follow through.


Sunday, April 10, 2011


Ever since our first strolls around the neighborhood, I would observe a little yellow school bus pulling up to the same house, picking up a special needs boy for his school day.  I formed many opinions about this, and made a silent promise to my own baby with special needs, “Never will a little yellow bus come to our home”.  I clung to this “Never” promise over the years, for reasons I may get into another day.
One day I spouted off some other deep conviction, a “Never” to a friend.  She kindly reminded me, “Bonnie, you always said you’d never wear stretch pants, and you’re wearing them today.”   I was a little bewildered by my inconsistency, but continued on through the years with my declarations of “Never”.
My latest, “My kids are never going to that all rich-hoity toity- high school”.  Countless friends and family members have heard me repeat this over time.  But every day I creep among the new sports cars and pristine SUV’s with our 8 year old van in the school traffic.  I stop in front of the hoity toity high school and my son leans over the seat for his blessing, hug and prayer.  It turns out; there are great opportunities for him there.  He is happy, challenged, and making great choices as a freshman.
Perhaps my “Nevers” have been spoken in pride or even fear, making projections into a future I know little about.  Little did I know about the blessings of a little yellow school bus that now comes to our home.  Our special needs son enjoys the independence, the soothing movement of the bus, the shared experience with his friends.  He runs to his seat each morning with such anticipation.  I give him a hug and a prayer, and with a grateful heart, I wave goodbye. 
Will I never say “never” again? Let’s just say I’m trying not to.  
Have you had a similar experience making a never promise? 
Have you discovered God had a blessing waiting for you when you gave up your never?   Tell us about it.

Bonnie J. Christensen

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


What could a stem of cotton teach a woman? Why does it sit in a crystal vase? Perhaps it’s a great reminder of where I have come from, what really matters, and where I am going. Let me explain ....
Let me start by saying I had a great childhood, never wanted for material things or love or attention. I had awesome parents.  My father had a 7th grade education and my mother had a 3rd grade education. They are both from the south and both knew what it meant to work hard with your hands - even picking cotton. Ours was a simple life. I tell you this, so you understand that we kids were never pushed in school.  We weren't helped with our homework and the talk of college was never mentioned. So with this mentality, college was not something I thought about or desired to obtain. Instead I wanted a job so I could buy myself a car, more clothes than I was used to, and lots of shoes. (What woman does not think of shoes?)

 After I graduated from High School I got a job and either bought or saved for the things I desired.  I was raised in Richmond, Calif. and knew I was destined to marry, live in Richmond, and work the rest of my life.  

Well, to make a long story short, I did live in Richmond till I met a man that swept me off my feet.  He was 10 years older than me, had gone to college, was very intelligent, had goals and made an unbelievable income.  After a year of dating we married, had a beautiful home, 2 beautiful children (don't we all think our kids are beautiful and wonderful?) and all the material things a woman could possibly want or desire.  I never had to work - I was blessed to be a stay-at-home mom. 
After my kids grew up and moved on, I found that I still had my material things, including a beautiful dream home. However that very large home was empty, sad, and lonely - just like me.  I stayed in that large, lonely, empty house for years until one day I decided it was time for me to leave.  I don't want to get into the end of my marriage because it is not what I want to talk about.  I want to talk about the material things I had, which were in abundance. So many women searching for their security get caught up in  all these material things - their nice cars, clothing with labels, collections of crystal, and the list goes on. Ladies, these luxuries don’t give you security or add meaning to your life.

It reminds me of who I am and where I came from.  It reminds me of my wonderful parents that are no longer with me.  You see they met each other in a cotton field many, many years ago.  They didn’t live a life surrounded with things, but they were married for 53 years. I always thought I would be married till death do you part as well.  Sometimes our dreams don't finish as we thought or planned they would.   Sometimes they take a side road that can be scary and dark, but eventually they can bring us back to a crystal vase with a piece of cotton. We can rediscover the wonderful light and even find the piece of ourselves that somehow got lost along the way. I think we all need the contentment of cotton and the joy of a little crystal around each of us!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


“Don’t ever grow up!”  How often I have said those loaded words while hugging my kids tightly.  Don’t we moms adore our children’s’ humor, innocence and sweet loving hearts?  But in the background of my home I hear that same cartoon and its monotonous music.  We’ve been listening to its redundancy year upon year, as our oldest teen with moderate developmental delays, sings and dances to the melody.  Unlike the rest of us, he rarely tires of the recurring theme and remains just as delighted as he was in his childhood.  Alas I comprehend; I want my dear children to grow up, to reach maturity in their mind, their social and emotional abilities.  This is love.  No longer gripping my children with the longing of their forever childhood, my Mama’s heart now cries, “Keep Growing Up, my love”.
Bonnie J. Christensen

Monday, April 4, 2011


I am intrigued by the news of Timothy Treadwell, a man who befriended and communicated with bears.  He educated young classrooms how brown bears are fun to play with.  They are our friends.  The news would run videos of him living and lying among these wild animals.
But the story changed when he and his fiancé were dropped off by float plane to a remote area in Alaska.  When the pilot returned for the couple, only a violent scene was left.  Their video camera told the final story of the two being killed and eaten by grizzlies.  
Hideous.  What a vivid picture of our enemy, Satan.  The Scriptures teach us he comes as an Angel of Light.  He befriends us with pleasures that are contrary to God’s design for our lives.  He entices us to indulge in risky behavior.  We each know the compromises we have made. We may have said, “Oh, it’s harmless”.    But now relationships have been destroyed, or we’ve been simply lulled into the sleep of a mediocre life.  We look less and less like Jesus.  We’ve been deceived.  This Angel of Light is really a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
Have you befriended this wild animal?  Be on the alert! Resist his efforts to leave your life barren and spiritually dead.  
 James 4:7-10  “So let God work His will in you. Yell a loud “no” to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet “yes” to God and he'll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it's the only way you'll get on your feet.”  The Message

Bonnie J. Christensen

Friday, April 1, 2011


In my business, I often ask couples to tell me what hinders them from having the sex life they dream about. The number one answer that I get is, “the kids.” These parents deeply love their children, but are keenly aware that their sex life began to abate when little Johnnie or little Susie was born. We live in a culture which dotes on children – we make them the center of our world; we make sure that they are exposed to every possible activity so that they can thrive in adulthood; we keep them up with us until we go to bed so that we can spend as much time with them as possible.
The problem with having our kids as an exclusive focus in our marriage is that we forget the romance, the friendship, and the attraction that drew us together in the first place. So many times, couples have very little to say when I ask what they talk about besides the topic of their kids. It seems to be the only thing that they have in common. However, if we want a long-lasting relationship with this person, we need to remember that the kids will eventually leave home (after all, we are raising adults, not children). And when that happens, we want to make sure that our companionship together was not built wholly on them.
Here are 10 ways that you can stay connected with your spouse as a lover, not just as a parent:
  1. Start dating again. Go on regular dates with your spouse. Begin with once a month and then increase the frequency so that eventually you go on dates once a week. #1 rule of the date: No talking about the kids! If you are struggling about things to talk about, think of things that you used to talk about before the kids came along, what is going on in the world around you, or get a book which gives you questions to ask each other. Learning to talk about as lovers may feel awkward at first, but the more you practice it, the easier it will be.
  2. Establish good sleep patterns for your children. This includes having a regular bedtime for them that is earlier that when you and your spouse go to bed. If your kids are younger, have a set time when they have to be in their rooms even if their lights are not out. Not only is this good for your sex life, but it is also essential for the health of your children. Need some advice on how much sleep your kids actually need? Check out the National Sleep Foundation’s recommendations.
  3. Establish good sleep patterns for yourself! Oftentimes, we fall into the trap of thinking, “If I stay up later, I can get more done.” However, exhaustion ultimately makes us less effective and it also undermines our sexual relationship (which, in turn, undermines our marriage). So, get into a bedtime routine which ensures that you will get enough hours of sleep.  Take time each day to connect emotionally. Have a time each day where you and your spouse sit down together and have a short conversation without the children present. Let the children know that Mom and Dad need ten minutes alone and make sure that they have something that can keep them occupied and safe during this time. This allows you to connect daily but it also models to your children the importance of your relationship together as a couple. They will reap the benefits of this modeling when they have their own relationships.
  4. Make sex a priority. Sex is the one thing that sets your spouse apart from a really good friend. It is the physical and spiritual connection that you have with this special someone that you share with no other. Set up “sex dates” so that you don’t allow too much time to pass between sexual encounters. Get answers to any physical difficulties that you are experiencing. Stop making excuses (when the kids get older, this will get better…).
  5. Ensure privacy. Are you one of those people who can’t get past the idea of your children walking in on you in the throes of passion? Start teaching your children the importance of Mommy-Daddy alone time. This is time when the two of you focus solely on each other.  It doesn’t have to be sex every time, but once the kids understand the importance of the uninterrupted time, you can worry less about, well, interruptions. But just to be on the safe side, put a lock on your door and get a white noise machine so that you can ensure that you will not be seen or heard by the kids. After all, the modeling I spoke of earlier only goes so far!
  6. Begin a regular exercise routine. What does this have to do with sex??? The science behind arousal is all about blood flow. When you are working out on a consistent basis, you are increasing blood flow to your extremities and you can reap the benefits of this in the bedroom. Not convinced? Exercising also leads to a better body image, helps us sleep better and reduces stress – all of which make intimacy easier.
  7. Variety is the spice of life! We all have our favorites (and knowing your spouse’s favorites is great way to make your marriage sizzle) but variety expands our horizons. How do you find our whether your kids like PB&J sandwiches? Or curry? Or sushi? You let them try. So, add something new to your “menu” once a month. If you both hate it, then scratch it off the list of things you will do again. However, you might be surprised and find a new favourite!
  8. Find out what makes your spouse feel loved. As spouse who feels loved is much more likely to want to jump into bed. Do they need a back massage? A heart-to-heart talk? An afternoon away from the kids? A compliment on how good they look? A love note tucked into the laptop? How about the having the toilets scrubbed? Find out what sets the stage for romance for your lover and then do it unbidden.
  9. Get out of town! Vacation sex is the best. The kids aren’t around (so you don’t have to be quiet or worry about them walking in on you), you can sleep when you want to, you don’t have to get home to a babysitter and you have time to linger. Figure out a way to spend at least one weekend a year away from the kids and try to increase this frequency as the years go on. If you don’t have a relative or babysitter to watch the kids, do an exchange with friends. You take their kids one weekend and then they take your kids another weekend. It’s a win/win for both couples.
Not to put too fine a point on it, there is a reason KT Oslin wrote the lyrics “Don’t kiss me like we’re married…Kiss me like we’re lovers”. All too often we separate the two – especially once kids come along. Never let that passion for each other fade away. It is much easier to stay connected in the first place than it is to re-connect after years of simply parenting together. As my husband likes to say, “parallel parenting is great so long as you can be horizontal in the bedroom too!”
If the spark is fading, then take the steps now to rekindle the passion that you once had (or always wanted). If you still “got it”, then don’t lose it through neglect. Work on it like you were losing it, and you will always have it!

ErynFaye Frans, Canada's Passion Coach®