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Knock Knock Knockin’ on Friend’s Doors

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Img Src: Brad Washburn

Img Src: Brad Washburn

Quick Preamble:  The organic flow of kids

I didn’t have personal experience with social interaction much as a kid.  I grew up in an Amish area, and the nearest neighbor with a child my age was miles away (several cornfields at least).  So, I had to learn much of the information on dealing with neighborhood kids, visiting friends, having ‘play-dates’ through my kids and trying to navigate the experience as a parent.  The good thing, is that our family will routinely have ‘pow-wows’ to discuss how to handle social issues.   Much of the ideas in this article and others in this series involving ‘other people’ were developed from meeting as a family and discussing how best to handle each experience.

Ok, back to our previously scheduled blog article . . .

Knocking:  Essential to relationships.  And just like other activities that involve others, there are some manners and ethics to knocking.  I’ll cover just a few in this article:

  • Don’t be afraid to knock
  • Be safe to knock
  • Don’t knock at 7am
  • Jesus knocks


Don’t be afraid to knock.  Sometimes my kids would want to fill out a street-kickball game, but they needed a few more players.

Me:  Why don’t you ask Kyle?

Kids:  He’s usually playing x-box

Me:  Did you actually ask him?

Kids:  But there are no cars in his drive.

Me:  [leveled stare]

Kids:  Fine, we’ll ask him.


Minutes later Kyle has been shooed out by his parents to get some sunshine and he is standing on second base (which happens to be a pile of leaves they put in the road).

Sometimes people need to be asked.  Some people even need to be approached and asked to be involved.  Our world is full of loneliness and people that are disconnected.  Knocking on a door to ‘hang out’ and/or ‘play’ isn’t that tough – the worst someone could say is, “no.” Read More→

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Grocery Store etiquette

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shopping cartBrad, you gave us some great ideas for dads to teach kids good behavior in a waiting room situation.  But what about the grocery store?  My kids are unholy terrors when I take them shopping.

Ok, so in actuality no one really asked that question.  But they should have!  Because the grocery store is one of the greatest trials to kids and behavior.  The few times I was threatened with “Wait until your dad gets home . . .” were uttered by my mother at the grocery store.  I don’t remember much of how I misbehaved (especially after the beating I received from my dad for misbehaving– just kidding), but I’m sure I was fighting with my sister, asking for things, and touching everything.  My mom would probably remember more because memory is augmented by trauma.  I probably need to call my mom someday and apologize for every grocery and department store trip I ruined.  However, if Karma is a concept God allows, I am definitely getting my due share of payback.  I have a flexible schedule, so I have been harnessed with doing a lot of the shopping over the years.  It’s not so bad now, but when our kids were little my wife signed us up for some sort of shopping-rating survey system, so shopping was complicated and already felt like it took FOREVER, even without the kids.

Now my boys are almost to the age where I can tell them, “Hey, would you run up to the store and pick us up some bread for dinner?”  Almost.  So I still do the shopping and I frequently view other poor adults struggling to manage kids while they are shopping.

Since I’m a Christ follower, I need to first direct focus on the Bible and see how other people of faith managed the grocery store experience successfully:

They didn’t.

Grocery Stores and Department Stores didn’t exist in Biblical times, so it’s more difficult to get a grip on any of the great Dad-ing techniques of the Bible.  However, I think the entire book of proverbs could be retitled “How to instruct your kids to behave at Walmart.” . . .  Maybe I’ll suggest that to Zondervan.

In all seriousness though, in ‘Biblical times’ kids, even little kids, had some big responsibilities.

“You want to eat dinner tonight toddler?  Good, pull up this row of leeks.”

“You are a preteen Israelite boy, get out there and kill us a goat for dinner.”

“You’d like new socks?  Here, let me show you how to knit.”

Times have changed, but kids are still kids.  They can accept and rise to many challenges and responsibilities.  It does take more time on the front end to teach them.  The typical Israelite dad would have to show his kids the correct way to plant, harvest, thresh . . . but after a few times of instruction, the kids are helping with the ‘grocery shopping’ for the rest of their lives.  That’s worth it.

So, technique #1 to thrive at store shopping with your kids is to….

Give them Responsibilities and teach them how to succeed.  This might require some short, ‘practice,’ trips to the grocery or department store, but it will be worth it.

Speaking of training, I developed a technique to train your kids that could almost be considered sadistic torture.  Take your kids to Toys R Us (or any toy store) and park in the parking lot.  Tell your kids that you are going to go inside with them to look at cool stuff.  But also tell them that you are NOT going to buy anything today.

Then, stick to it. Read More→

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Last Comic Sitting . . . in the Waiting Room.

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kids healthMy wife has white coat syndrome.  She grew up in a military family where she was taught to respect people in authority, especially if they are wearing a uniform.  Doctors wear a uniform and are in authority at their office so they benefit from the double-whammy of respect from her.  So my wife gets pretty stressed when she goes to the Dr. and sometimes needs someone to advocate for her.

I suffer from the opposite malady of “white coat syndrome.”  I have the, as yet to be diagnosed, Rebel Syndrome.  I think people in authority are not to be trusted and uniforms only serve to identify the people to people to mistrust.

So I go with her to doctor appointments.  Sometimes I try to be comedy relief for these appointments, but most of the time my attempts fall short.  As it turns out, my wife doesn’t think joking with the doctor is a good thing.  I think she’s afraid they will take revenge on her somehow medically if I am not funny.  And, I should probably add, that my wife rarely thinks I am funny.

One time when we were dating, she was trying to run away from me (it’s a loooong story that does NOT involve creepy stalking . . . unless you count throwing pebbles at her dorm room window trying to get her to come down and neglect studying and hang out with me).  I had some flowers for her, but she did not want to hang out; she wanted to study. So I brought the flowers to the bottom of the stairs at her dorm and she came and got them, then started sprinting up the stairs before I could get kissy.

. . . So, we were at the emergency room with her having a broken leg.  I was there to be supportive, it was probably one of my first stints as “doctor companion,” plus, she was blaming me for her leg being broken.  We had another friend with us also; one of Giselle’s girlfriends named Jennifer.

So, I’m doing my ‘thing’ and trying to keep Giselle entertained and her mind off of her leg.  It was all falling flat.  In the hazy memory of my mind, I think I might have been making the doctors, staff, and the whole waiting room laugh, but not Giselle.

Our friend Jennifer picks up a pamphlet for STDs . . . and asks Giselle if she needs to read it.  And, that cracks her up. She just wanted to know if testing for chlamydia was possible when there were no symptoms.

I can’t win.

Anyway, I go to waiting rooms with Giselle a lot.  As you might guess, a lot of women also go to some of these appointments and many times I see them toting their kids along because they are too young to stay by themselves.  So, I’ve had a good vantage point to observe how kids take advantage of moms when they are involved in something that my wife would say is quite stressful. Read More→

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Name that . . .

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Image Credit: Brad Washburn

Image Credit: Brad Washburn

I think it is a guy’s job to name things of importance.

Good thing that this blog column is for Dads and females aren’t reading it . . . right? Right?

Oh man, I think I’m in dangerous waters.

First, let me start with the Bible. In the Beginning account in Genesis, Adam’s job was to name the animals. In the Old Testament, men were responsible to name places, and put names to events where God did something amazing.
As you continue throughout Scripture, guys put names to things of importance. Read about Zechariah in Luke 1; even when he was mute, he wrote down on a slip of paper that his newborn son was to be named John (the Baptist).

I can hear legions of women picking up pitchforks and heating up cauldrons of tar. Let me expound on this a little more before the mob arrives.

In the history of culture described in the Bible, guys had a significant role as leaders and God-followers. So, much of the “important” details of naming things fell to them. There are, of course, very clear accounts of women also naming things. For instance, the plethora of kids named in the ‘son making war’ in Genesis 30.

There are other examples of women in the Bible naming things, but I’m risking provoking a
feminist mob to say this: Dads, we need to take the responsibility to name things.

I’m not talking about kids or pets. Although, as a side note, most of my awesome name suggestions for our kids were somehow relegated to our pets. Our turtle got the name Quinn. Our Dog, the PH.D. in Phrenology, got the name (Dr.) Bohdi. We had a snake once named Martok, and in each of these cases I think you will agree that these are EXCELLENT names.
I think my wife was agreeing to me using some of my best name suggestions for the pets, so that I wouldn’t try to use them for our kids. She’s devious. And, she’s obviously never seen Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade . . .

Anyway, sometimes Dads need to be the one to name, or label, what is really happening.

For instance, let’s say that it’s the week before school starts. The family has been doing all the usual roles of a family preparing for this event. Parents are quietly rejoicing and shopping for school supplies. Kids are trying to ignore the fact that schools starting. Many families try to squeeze in a vacation. Schedules begin to be disrupted. . . . and suddenly there is the presence of a high amount of stress.
This is where a Dad steps in and names the situation. “We are all stressed because school is going to start.”
It seems like a miniscule thing, but naming a situation like this helps everyone understand how they are feeling and gives them insight on how to cope. Once such back-to-school stress is named, then everyone can take measures to deal with it. Read More→

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Anime PSA

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bradYou’ve probably figured out by reading my other articles that I have boys.  And I, myself, am a dude.


I think this article will apply to dudes that are dads of both genders of offspring.  Because Anime is popular and rising in popularity AND it’s prevalent in your everyday life.  I was in the Barnes and Nobelyesterday and there were two aisles dedicated to Manga.  Two aisles!  You might not even know what Manga is, and that’s ok.  This article with contain some basics about Anime, and some application on how it might affect your son or daughter.

I think we probably should start with some of the vocabulary involved with Anime just so everyone can be on the proverbial “same page.”

Anime:  Short for ‘animation’ (actually based on the Japanese pronunciation of the American word ‘animation.’)– It’s animated stories, usually from Japan.  They are not “cartoons” (Anime fans would scoff at that term), the content is usually along the line of stuff you would view on Cartoon Network in the U.S.; probably leaning more toward “Adult Swim” in content (adult themes are prevalent).  ‘Cool’ kids watch the Anime in Japanese with subtitles.  Not-so-cool kids watch versions dubbed into English

Manga:  Japanese comic books.  You read them backwards.

Otaku:  People that really love Anime.

Cosplay:  Dressing up in a costume of a character from TV, Anime, or Movies.  Literally means “Costume Play”

Hentai:  Japanese animated pornography — usually involving really bizarre stuff, like alien squids raping school girls.  This, is a good example of why we Dads need to have a good knowledge-base of this stuff.

After I defined Hentai you are probably ready to steer clear of all Anime.  You could do that.  But Anime is pretty prevalent in our culture and it’s hard to totally avoid; plus, it’s entertaining.  Like most media, there is a good and bad.  Our job as Christians is to:

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21) Read More→

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Be a Desert Daddy

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desertSometimes I hang out with Pastors.  This is a confession.

Because pastors are human, and they are involved in a difficult role; ergo they are not always the easiest people to “hang out” with.  Pastors are burdened with their service to their ministry, and with their relationship to their spouse, and many of them are Dads . . . and none of them want their kids to turn into the infamous “preacher kid.”  But pastors are also wary of relationships, because they’ve been hurt many times, and so their conversations are usually very “shallow” at first.  Pastors are good at talking about sports.  They are good with talking about the weather or current events (although most are timid about talking about politics), and definitely good at talking about movies.  Most Pastors, however, are hesitant to talk about the ‘real’ topics important to them: their personal struggles or family issues.

Back to my confession.  I talk to pastors.  And one of the stops on the progression toward “real” talk with a pastor involves Theology.  It usually goes something like this:

Sports/Movies talk >>>>> Theological/Doctrine Talk >>>>> Real Talk

Theological talk is an important step for pastors because it’s a screening process.  If a pastor says that they are a “neo-Calvinist” or listen to John Piper . . . then they are searching to see if you can connect at their theological level of understanding.  If you say, “huh?” to the neo-Calvinist remark; then you might be safe, but, you clearly don’t know about “their world.  However, if you say, “Oh, I’m an Arminian” . . . then you are also not on the safe list for open conversation about their personal beliefs – because Arminian and Calvinist are opposing viewpoints.

Yeah, pastors are weird.

I counsel pastors and consult with pastors and lead a couple of local ministeriums, so periodically I get the ‘theological’ talk from one of the local pastors screening me to see if I’m safe.

Pastor:  So, I’m a Reformed Dutch Lutheran . . .

Me:  I’m a bit of a Christian Mystic, like the Desert Fathers . . .

Pastor:  [uncomfortable silence]

Yes, I am also a pastor; and, as a pastor, I also am a weird one.   Because the Desert Fathers are a relatively obscure Christian sect from the 3rd Century.  You can google/Wikipedia them, but I’m warning you right now; it’s boring. Read More→

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Teach Them How to Beat You

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Brad Washburn, Do the Dad Thing bloggerTeach Them How to Beat You, by Brad WashburnPeriodically, I get a brave teenager who wants to befriend me on Facebook.  I say ‘brave’ because they first will have to put up with my frequent uncool posts.  The ones where I take a picture of the lava lamp by my desk and speak in terms of “groovy.”  Or the ones where I post pictures of my Sugar Gliders doing cute things.  Sugar Gliders are cute, but definitely not cool.

The worst is where I make some sort of dorky crack on their posts.  Recently, a FB friend, whom shall remain nameless, posted that she was having an argument with her mom.  First came the cracks:

Facebook Snippet

But then, other people were posting some serious stuff and I felt guilty having sooo much wisdom to share and only making jokes, so I posted the following: Read More→

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Fight the Power!

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257ccfee-9f13-477b-bd93-913671833bcfI have a wonderful niece that I love dearly. And I hope she doesn’t read this blog. She’s not a dude, so that narrows my chances of her finding it online. She probably doesn’t search out excellent ways on how to be a Work at Home Mom either (she’s still a teen). She’s also not interested in God . . . so I pray for her because she is ‘lost.’ Not only is she lost, she also is a college student at a big, and secular, university.

She’s the springboard for talking about this topic that I foreshadowed near the end of my Dino War! series. Because to be a good Dad, you have to model and teach your kids how to think. Not what to think, but rather TO think. — to participate in the act of thinking.

It seems like, not very long ago, thinking happened in college. College was for thinking. Kids that came out of elementary and secondary education with the ‘basics’ were then challenged with different opinions, and philosophies and other students from differing backgrounds. College students were thinkers, and activists, and explorers.

But it seems like today, college students are expected to lock-step with the same opinion, and not question, and not search.

Wow, I sound like one of those crotchety ‘old fellers’ longing for the old days.

I’m a rebel though. And a conspiracy theorist. I am going so far as to say that ALL dads and Christians need to be rebels and conspiracy theorists. Here’s why this concept (and my college rant) applies to Dads:

The Bible is pretty clear that Christianity involves a struggle between good and evil. They are not evenly matched, but evil still tries to destroy people from having hope and faith in God. Everyone is on one side or the other of this struggle.

Consider for a moment that you are a guard at the gate for a TOP SECRET research facility. One day a car pulls up to the gate. The driver is wearing sunglasses and a fake mustache. You ask for their id, and they hand you a crayon drawing of a picture with the inscription ‘Official Person.’

Do you:

A: Let them in; seems legit

B: Question them . . . with many questions . . . and only let them in when you are sure.

This analogy is what it’s like to be a Dad in the world today. Maybe not as extreme as fake mustaches and crayon IDs, but evil is trying to come into the lives of our kids every day. And evil doesn’t really play by the rules, sometimes evil looks pretty normal; even nice.

The Bible rips the disguise off of evil in Ephesians 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Read More→

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My Strategy for Destruction

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SatanguestToday’s Guest Blogger:  Lucifer

Today we feature a special guest-blogger.  His worldwide impact and diverse works include the Holocaust, mass murder, politics, North Korea, and even sin in general.  His exploits are famous and too numerous to count. but he’s here today to talk about some of the practical strategies and techniques that made him a household name.  So, without further ado, I introduce to you today’s  feature guest-blogger:  Satan.

Hello Readers,  I was asked to contribute an article to describe some of the ways I attack dads.  Your usual “Do the Dad Thing” writer is well intentioned to help Dads practically apply the principles of the [:shudder:] Bible in practical parenting.  I guess he thought that having me describe my attack strategy would help you be prepared.  He’s an idealistic fool.

His purpose for writing this column runs exactly opposite of my own.  But clearly Brad has recognized that it’s good to hear the viewpoint of someone considered an expert on the topic of dads.   Whereas Brad writes about helping dads, a large part of my existence is in destroying dads.

Some of you may know this already, but that is what I do; destroy.  To quote that tired old tome, [*sigh] the Bible, I’m described as “prowling like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”  And, I guess that description is pretty accurate; I look for opportunities to destroy people.

In particular I work in misleading, or untruth.  “Father of Lies” is a term sometimes used to describe me, but I feel that the word ‘lies’ seems so “Baptist” and sounds so ‘harsh.’  Most humans destroy by violence; they want to destroy someone, they bash people over the head or shoot them.  But honestly, shooting or bashing just injures a body.  What I do is an art, where I apply an array of words and innuendo, and feelings, and warped logic, sometimes even misplaced truth, all in varying degrees, to derail a person at a spiritual level.  I can destroy the core of a person.  And I’m a maestro at this art of untruth.  I’ve done it since the beginning.  Not to give away too many trade secrets, but I really am skilled at watching and waiting.  The best time for me to apply my craft is when a person is at their lowest.  So, sometimes I wait, and wait.  I wait for that one day, where a person is low, and tired, and had conflict at their job or school.  Sometimes I even work several angles at once and successfully prompt people into conflict and lack of sleep and resources just so the situation is perfect.  Then, the right lie slides right in to truly destroy a person. Read More→

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Dino-War Part II (A.K.A. DWII)

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First, read my last article on Jurassic Basics. Go ahead and do it now; I’ll wait.

[sound of whistling, Brad checking his Facebook]

Great, you’re back. I’ll sum up the issue: Your kids are caught in a war between mainstream ‘pop’ science and true science. On one side, there is mainstream media driving the science that reflects our culture and promoting to your kids that humans are evolutionary flukes. On your side, is actual science based in fact and pointing toward our world being designed.

The war rages, and many dads are caught unprepared for the fight. In my last post, I talked about how to arm yourself with truth to give kids hope. This article is about defense. How to deal with some of the tired old lies your kids are hearing through school and media.dinomistake

But Brad, I’m not an über-nerd. I don’t know that much about dinosaurs enough to combat what my kids see in the media!

Don’t worry. It’s actually very easy to poke holes in the main evolutionary arguments. As a dad, you’ll see that kids are naturally curious about real science and already dubious about some of the things they see on TV or hear at school. Which brings me to my first point . .

Teachers aren’t scientists. Most teachers are average people that have a job teaching. In most cases, they didn’t graduate with a degree in a scientific discipline. Many teachers have an education degree and have only taken a few basic science courses; usually in something like “Applied Science” . . . which was most-likely taught by a professor with a Masters degree or an Intern; i.e. also not a scientist)

Neither is Bill Nye the Science Guy or many other ‘scientists’ you see on TV. They are actors.

So, it turns out, you have just as much science credentials as actors or most teachers.

I can make it easier on you by giving you a simple version of some of the nerdy facts that poke holes in the evolution brainwashing. First, let’s start with the difference between “Natural Selection” and “Evolution.” Read More→

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