Author Archives: Mary

Mary Pielenz Hampton (aka RefreshMom) is "midlife mom" to two boys, a train-loving 9 year old and 6 year old superhero-in-the-making. She and her husband Dean will celebrate their 17th anniversary this summer. When she's not shepherding/corralling boys, she's also a friend, writer, at-home-businesswoman, bargain hunter, teacher, lover of tea, chocolate and fancy desserts (especially if made with chocolate). Her heart is looking for God in the smallest moments of life and giving praise back to Him by "turning the daily into devotion."

Creative Urges

“In the beginning, God created….” Genesis 1:1

In school, creative arts are often listed as ‘electives;’ in our adult life, they’re called ‘hobbies.’ Yet the very first thing we learn about the nature of God is that He’s creative.

I never considered myself particularly “creative.” In my mind, that word was always equal to “artistic,” and because I couldn’t paint or draw I figured it didn’t apply to me.

Looking back though, I see a creative thread that’s run through my life–it just didn’t meet my narrow definition of the word.

My mom started teaching us cooking basics when were in elementary school.

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Where are you Building?

In the midst of California’s unusally stormy past couple of winters, there’s a story that’s been unfolding for some time. One day it took a dramatic leap as a cliff gave way, taking the hillside (and a couple of back porches) from an apartment complex on the coast.

Funny, we’ve known since biblical times that it’s not wise to build on shifting sands, but in California and Florida, and even along the shores of rivers and lakes in-between, people sacrifice security for the view.

As one evacuating resident said “The beauty is still here, but there’s no safety.”

If you grew up in church, you probably remember the children’s song that says, “The foolish man built his house upon the sand…the rains came down, and the floods came up…and the house on the sand went SMASH!”

So why is it that we make these same mistakes after generations?

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Holding Out for Fast Food

“I don’t want anything,” pouted our 8 year old as we were about to order. He wanted to go to Taco Bell and wasn’t happy when we opted for a classic breakfast place instead.

I’ve heard these words in the past, and generally ignore them and order something anyway, knowing the boy will cave once everyone else is served. But this particular mood of his was more definite than others, and I decided to let him have what he wanted (or didn’t want, as the case may be).

As I prepped his younger brother’s pancakes, the fragrance of the buttery goodness made me feel a little badly for him as he moped from across the table.

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Mind Your Own Business


“Moooom! He’s spitting!”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have any patience for tattling. If someone is in imminent danger of physical harm, I want to know about it, but otherwise, deal with it or drop it.

I’ve tried to empower my kids to let someone else know when they’re breaking a rule or doing something they shouldn’t; they don’t need me to intervene for every random thing. At least, that’s my theory.

I thought I’d outgrown tattling a long time ago. “Deal with it or drop it.” But how often do I sit in church and think, “So-and-so really needs to hear this,” or fill my prayers with, “Lord did you see…?” Or maybe it’s on the jealousy side of things, “Why did she get the book deal/ministry position/speaking opportunity…?”

I wonder if God gets tired of hearing me whine about my perceptions of someone else’s slights and wants to respond, “I know.

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Mary and Martha Throw a Christmas Party

Martha, what do you think of the idea that we throw a nice Christmas party instead of giving each other gifts?” Mary asked her college roommate.

That’s a great idea!” responded Martha. “I love having a special occasion to try new dishes, and it will be fun to invite a few good friends over and have an excuse to dress up.

Mary and Martha chose a date, looked through cookbooks and planned the menu. Mary decided on a couple of family-favorite cookie recipes and Martha chose a couple of hot appetizers and a chocolate mint ice cream cake (with a from-scratch brownie base and homemade hot fudge) she wanted to try.

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God is in the Detours

The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.
Psalm 16:9

I got lost on the way to church last week.

It wasn’t the church we usually attend; my husband has been filling in there for several weeks, but I hadn’t been before. The church is several towns away in a community I’ve never explored. Dean needed to leave earlier than the boys and I, so I printed off the map and headed west.

Apparently, Google didn’t know about the off-ramp construction. And I didn’t know that the exit signs I needed were boarded over. So one wrong turn led to another before I found a way to plug in the Garmin and get directions that didn’t include the freeway off-ramps.

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“Are You Happy, or Just Married?”

I sort of laughed off the question when it was first asked. After all, it’s kind of hard to take a drunken Moose too seriously.

I was at my class reunion recently, chatting with a long-time friend and a new friend when someone who clearly wasn’t a classmate approached us. When he extended his hand to me, I thought perhaps he’d been a teacher at the school.

But when he pulled me in for a hug and asked, “Can I take you out?” I realized he was neither. (In order to hold our informal gathering at the local Moose Lodge, the event was opened to graduates from all previous years.)

It’s been y-e-a-r-s since anyone other than my husband has asked me out so his question caught me off-guard.

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Are You Heading “Back to School?”

Studies show that children lose the equivalent of 2 months education over summer break when they put aside the cheap textbooks. Educators use this to make the argument for year-round school or summer homework assignments.

Now that the boys have been back in school for a week or three, I’m seeing that they aren’t the only ones who’ve suffered from the “summer slide.”

I had great intentions of doing a Bible study of my own during the summer. I chose a topic, got a chain reference Bible to help me out, I even blogged about my plan. But with the boys home all day and various summertime activities going on, it didn’t happen.

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