During the winter, my feet are almost always cold. It drives me crazy. I can wear two pairs of fuzzy socks and sit five feet from my fireplace, and my toes still feel like icicles. Can any of you relate?

Even on the rare occasions when my feet feel relatively warm, as soon as I get into bed, my foot temperature drops 30 degrees. I am not even kidding. Well, that might be an exaggeration. I’ve never been good with body temperature. But the fact remains that getting into bed = cold feet for Dana.

I’ve tried all kinds of things to combat this problem. Use a hair dryer to warm my tootsies up? Done it. Hold a space heater up to blow directly onto the sheets? Check. (I know that’s not safe. Don’t send me emails. And do not try that at home.) Take a shower right before bed? Tried it. None of it keeps my feet warm for more than a couple minutes.

A few years ago I guess my parents got tired of hearing me complain about my cold feet, because they bought me a bed warmer. If you’re not familiar with this little piece of technology, it’s basically a mattress cover that has wires running back and forth down the length of it that get hot when you plug it in.

Continue reading “Newer Isn’t Always Better”

How to Connect with Kids Over Books They Love; #kids #parenting #reading #books


How to Use Books to Connect with Kids // Find out how to look for repeating themes in books kids love, and learn how to capitalize on that knowledge in order to connect with them. // #reading #kids #parenting #teaching #books #family #connect #children

I recently had the opportunity to talk to the fifth grade students at School of the Osage in Osage Beach, Missouri, about writing and books. While thinking about what I wanted to say, I thought back to the books I loved as a kid.

I read a ridiculous amount of books when I was little. (And I still do.) But what I realized the other day is that I don’t remember much about most of those books.

There’s even very little I recall about the book I read more than any other book in elementary school: Superfudge by Judy Blume. I’ve always been the kind of person who hates to crack a spine, dog-ear a page, or otherwise mar a book. But my copy of Superfudge was nearly falling apart by the time I outgrew it. Yet I still have very little memory of what it was about, other than the fact that Fudge had an older brother named Peter and a baby sister named Tootsie.

My parents’ basement currently houses boxes upon boxes of Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and Trixie Belden mysteries. However, I remember exactly one minor storyline from any of those hundreds of books. Continue reading “Connect with Kids Over Books They Love”

A few years ago I did some freelance editing work for the Fuller Youth Institute. The first project I worked on was the Sticky Faith Launch Kit, which I found quite fascinating. 

So what’s this sticky faith thing? The Fuller Youth Institute website describes it as: “Sticky Faith is a ministry framework and parenting philosophy backed by practical and proven ideas to help develop long-term faith in teenagers.” So basically, they help ministry leaders and parents with strategies to help guide the faith development of their children with the hope that they won’t abandon it when they reach adulthood.

I honestly don’t remember everything from the kit, but the one thing that really stuck with me is the amount of adults they believe need to be heavily invested in kids’ lives.

Continue reading “The 5:1 Ratio: Kids Need a Tribe”


A few weeks ago I called my young friend to interview her for this post. The last question I asked her was this: “When you hear the phrase ‘living well,’ what does that mean to you? What do you think it looks like to live well?” I wasn’t sure she would be able to quickly articulate an answer that question, but after a few seconds she responded:

To live in God’s image.

Wow. What 17-year-old gives an answer like that? MaKenna Maskey does, and her answer wouldn’t surprise anyone who knows her. She has no doubt that God created her just the way she is, and He wants her to live in a way that shows others who He is.

Nearly 18 years ago, MaKenna’s aunt Jenny called to tell me she had a new niece. The next day, the phone rang again. This time the news was grim. MaKenna had turned blue, so she was being airlifted from the small hospital in Mexico, Missouri, to Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis.

MaKenna’s diagnosis was Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS). You can look it up here, but to put it simply, the left side of her heart was undeveloped. The right side had to do all the work, which it would only be able to do for a very limited amount of time without intervention.

This wasn’t a condition that would resolve itself on its own, so MaKenna’s parents were told they had two options. 1) Wait for a heart transplant. 2) Opt for a series of three surgeries that were still fairly new and experimental.

Continue reading “MaKenna Maskey: Living a Full Life with Half a Heart”

I don’t know a triple lutz from a quadruple axel. Who does, other than Scott Hamilton, Tara Lipinski, and a relative handful of other people in the universe? Nevertheless, I’m sitting here watching Olympic figure skating and giving my unqualified opinion to anyone who will answer my texts about the quality of the jumps … or the falls.

And fall they do—all the time.

ice skater

In a run of about eight men’s short programs I just watched, almost all of them fell at least once. Many fell two or three times.

When they fall, they get right back up, catch up to the music, and carry on as if nothing is wrong. They’re probably adding up the points (or subtracting them) in their heads to figure out if they still have a chance to place in the top three. And they, like those of us watching, are just hoping they don’t fall again.

Continue reading “Falling Isn’t Failing—Even for Olympians”

When you were a kid and didn’t eat everything on your plate, did your parents ever say, “Eat your food. Just think of all those starving orphans in Africa”? Mine occasionally did, and my smart-aleck response always was, “Well, if they were here, I’d give them this food. But they’re not here, are they?” (Disclaimer: Yes, I know not all kids in Africa are orphans or starving, but that’s a real thing American parents said ALL THE TIME when I was a kid in the 1980s.)

Flash forward to today, and there really is a way to give your food to starving kids in Africa, Asia, North America, and other regions of the world. No, I’m not talking about the actual food you leave on your plate at the Outback Steakhouse or your great-aunt’s questionable JELL-O “salad” at Christmas, but the food you consciously choose not to even buy in order that you can feed a child somewhere else.

A few years ago, I was working on a writing project with Candace Cameron Bure, and she mentioned an organization she supports called Skip1.org. When she told me more about it, I was intrigued by the charity’s focus. Their motto is:

Continue reading “Just Skip It . . . and Feed a Child”

Some of you are currently thinking, “Who in the world is TobyMac?” Others may have reluctantly taken your children or teens to see him in concert in the past few years. And still others are currently singing “Heavenbound” or “Jesus Freak” in your head because you’ve been a fan for decades. I fall into the latter category. But more on that in a bit.

When it comes to birthday and Christmas presents, some of my favorite gifts to give and receive aren’t things but experiences. For several years my mom and I bought each other season tickets to the Muny amphitheater here in St. Louis. A few years ago, I took my sister-in-law and two oldest nieces to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando. (That gift was for birthdays and Christmas, by the way. HP World doesn’t come cheap!) I could go on and on, but you’d get bored.

Last fall, when my teenage niece’s birthday gift fell through after an online ordering fiasco, I decided it was time for another experience. I asked Mackenzie* if there was a concert she wanted to go to.

Continue reading “Steal My Show: I Want to Be Like TobyMac”