The Family Manager's Guide to Summer Survival
Kathy Peel - America’s Family Manager
Kathy is the founder and president of Family Manager, Inc., a company committed to providing essential resources to strengthen busy families and enhance the home. She has written 18 books, which have sold over 2 million copies, Kathy has also been a contributing editor to Family Circle for more than a dozen years and has written for numerous other magazines, including Readers Digest, Ladies Home Journal and American Profile.
Kathy is also a popular speaker and media personality whose Family Manager Makeover stories have appeared on programs such as “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and “The Early Show.” She delights in helping women re-invent their lives and schedules to bring order and peace to their families. But even closer to her heart is the joy of seeing spiritual makeovers bring order and peace to a woman’s heart.
Kathy’s Spiritual Makeover
Kathy Peel was raised in Memphis, Tennessee, where she learned to be a good, Southern girl. Her dad was a self-made, successful businessman and her mother was in the retail clothing business. Both parents modeled a strong work ethic, positive thinking and good Southern graces to their daughter. But as she was learning good manners and social graces, Kathy’s Southern education was lacking in the spiritual department. So it wasn’t until high school, through the ministry of Young Life volunteers, that she heard the gospel and accepted Jesus Christ as her personal savior.
But her spiritual “makeover” was far from complete. During her first year at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Kathy did what her friends were doing – partying, gaining the “freshman 15,” and looking for something meaningful. Kathy recalls those miserable days, “I was coming home drunk, smoking, playing a lot of bridge, but nothing was satisfying.” She told her father during a holiday break that she was bored at SMU and wanted to transfer. Her father succinctly told her, “We are not quitters, Kathy.” Her father’s answer didn’t address her real struggle, so Kathy talked to her Young Life leader. He wisely observed that someone was in control of Kathy’s life “but it obviously wasn’t God.” The words hit home and Kathy knew it was time to completely turn over her life to God. “It was amazing – I never smoked again, gave up drinking instantly,” says Kathy. That is when she realized that people had been praying for her, specifically her college roommate Kathryn Waldrep.
“Once Kathryn saw how God had changed my life, she knew the perfect guy for me, Bill Peel, a fellow from her hometown in East Texas,” remembers Kathy. Kathryn and her husband David married in 1970; Bill and Kathy married in 1971. Today, 35 years later, Dr. Kathryn Waldrep is Kathy’s daily prayer partner and David Waldrep (Kathryn’s husband) works with Kathy at The Family Manager Inc. Bill ministers to men in the workplace through his extensive speaking schedule and through his numerous books; he also serves as Pastor of Leadership Development at Fellowship Bible Church in Dallas.
Although Kathy’s faith grew during her college years, she was still struggling with deep personal issues. Her parents had voiced their displeasure over Kathy’s recent weight gain so she was determined to lose the extra pounds. But her determination spiraled into bulimia—binge eating and purging—to lose the weight and keep it off. At that time, Kathy had never heard of bulimia and struggled alone with her eating disorder during college, as a newlywed, and even as her husband Bill earned a seminary degree from Dallas Theological. “Bulimia was like a roaring lion in the back of my darkest, most secret closet,” says Kathy. “No one talked about eating disorders back then, so I thought this was my own secret, unique struggle.” During Bill’s first two pastoral positions and the birth of her first two boys, Kathy continued to battle bulimia. Finally, Kathy found the courage to tell her husband about her secret. “I had started diligently studying the Bible on the topics of deliverance from our enemies and sin,” says Kathy. “Every spare moment I could find, I would read and study. Then when I read about ‘confessing your sins one to another,’ I knew I had to tell Bill my dark secret. It sounds so small, but that one step of obedience was life changing.” Through Bill’s support, and the encouragement of counseling and scripture, Kathy was able to address and conquer her eating disorder. “Christ was strong enough to deliver me from bulimia. There is no stronghold beyond his power.”
The Family Manager is Born
By the time she was free of her eating disorder, Kathy had become a busy pastor’s wife and the full time mom to three boys. Kathy never felt like she fit the pastor’s wife stereotype, but she learned to maximize the gifts/talents God had given her. “God sure didn’t give me the ability to cook, but I loved to have people in our house so I learned to cook four basic Sunday meals. We had 12-20 people at our table every Sunday—whoever was visiting or new to the church. And if you came back more than once, most likely you got the same meal again, but most people didn’t care.” Creative hospitality began early, and Kathy continued to weave creativity into other aspects of managing family life.
One summer, Kathy faced the same dilemma as other moms – three long months with three active boys and “nothing to do.” But Kathy knew there had to be a way to not only survive the long, hot break from school but to really enjoy the time together. She began writing down the creative ventures from that summer, and summers that followed, including all of her favorite “boredom busters” for her own boys. Armed with experience, creativity and a desire to help other moms, Kathy self-published (with help from Bill and her friend, Joy Mahaffey) A Mother’s Manual for Summer Survival out of her living room. Within weeks, she had sold more than 15,000 copies. Soon a major publisher picked it up and Summer Survival became the first of Kathy’s 18 books for families. Her popular books, including The Family Manager Saves the Day, The Family Manager Takes Charge, Family for Life, Be Your Best, The Family Manager’s Everyday Survival Guide, and Discover Your Destiny, have sold more than two million copies to date. That’s a long way from her humble living room publishing roots.
Kathy has recently grabbed the attention of national television producers, resulting appearances on “Oprah”, “Good Morning America,” “The Today Show,” HGTV and CNN, and she has been featured in hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles. Kathy serves as AOL's Family and Kids Coach and has served as spokesperson for a wide variety of family-oriented products and services, including Kid Cuisine, Maytag, GlaxoSmithKline, General Mills, Tropicana, Dell Computers, Clorox, Hallmark, Day Runner, Siemens, Jergens, and Holiday Inn.
In the midst of this professional success, Kathy still delights in the ministry opportunities her work provides. “I’m giving women the book of Proverbs, honestly. I show moms how to live life wiser, happier. And once I’ve earned the right to advise women about home life, the conversation invariably turns to spiritual issues.”
Sharing Her Success
Kathy’s credentials go all the way back to her early days of motherhood. When she writes as America’s Family Manager, she can say with authority that these ideas work. Her three sons—now 20, 27, and 31—were 2, 9 and 13 when Summer Survival was first published. Today the two oldest, John and Joel, work together in their own business—which they started while attending Baylor University—and her youngest son is a junior at Westmont College. If skeptics need proof, then Kathy’s sons are solid evidence for the validity of her Family Manager principles. “I see my boys exhibiting creativity, positive self-esteem and good problem-solving skills and I trace it back to the creative things we did as a family. Yet the most wonderful part is seeing all three of my boys walking with God. There is no greater blessing than that.”
Kathy clearly sees her Family Manager books, seminars and coaching as ministry vehicles. “I love to empower women and help them discover God’s design for life. As they become the kind of moms, wives or workers they dream of being, they discover the power they possess. Women, family managers, have the power to change the world.”