Archives for Mothering

The Most Important Book in Our Home

We read to our kids out of books like Berenstain Bears, Dr. Seuss and Thomas the Tank Engine, but do we regularly open God’s Word to our children?

This common, all-time best seller—the Bible—isn’t just a book; it is a powerful tool for parents and children. Hebrews 4:12 declares this truth, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit…discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” 

We may have multiple Bibles in our homes, but are we using them?

A well-known Christian psychologist and author was vulnerably sharing how he used to set up an overhead projector at home to do lengthy Bible studies with his young children. He stopped when he realized he was on the devil’s side! His academic approach was turning his boys off to God.

I think the best way to equip our families spiritually is to make the Bible and prayer a way of life. Be consistent, but don’t try so hard that it becomes mechanical and binding, bringing death instead of life.

 

 

Model a lifestyle of living the Biblical principles you’re reading about, and loving God above all else. Realize there are seasons in life. Every season brings change. The methods that have worked for me are many and varied and have been practiced in the appropriate season. They include:

  1. Bible time around the breakfast table with Mom reading Proverbs aloud from The Living Bible and inviting input and practical application from two, three, and four-year olds.
  2. Bible time using the One-Year Bible for Kids or the adult One-Year Bible, keeping sticker charts and celebrating the year’s grand achievement with a dinner party and special friends.
  3. Bible time reading mountains of colorful and exciting Bible stories for children. Day after day after day of cozy time, snuggling with Mommy or Daddy before naptime, bedtime, or anytime.
  4. Private Bible time one-on-one with Mom when one child just seemed to be in a season when he needed more personal direction and attention.

Find what fits your brood, your mood, and your season. Formal Bible studies with accompanying manuals weren’t my style, but they may be yours. Morning or after lunch have been our chunky Bible reading times, but you might be nocturnal. The vital ingredient is consistency.

Over the years our boys also enjoyed lots of supplemental Bible stuff at bedtime. I’ve found a variety of different, fun, and humorous tapes of Bible stories to play after tucking them in. I’ve added to this audios with the Word being read aloud, as well as sung in worship. Those minutes before your children drift into sleep are a great time for capturing their attention with God’s Word.

In every form and fashion, I have attempted to get the Word into my kids. Some methods have been seamless and alive; while others have been very dry. We can be confident that whether our Bible and prayer times have been “heavenly,” or “not-so-heavenly,” they are never wasted according to Isaiah 55:11 in which we are reminded, “My Word that goes out from my mouth . . . will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” 

Your Two-Minute Takeaway 

  1. Ponder this: we can love and feed and clothe and nurture our children; we can do a lot, but we can’t humanely give them everything they need. The Message version of Matthew 4:4 reminds us that It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth. 
  2. The seeds we plant and nurture in our gardens this spring will surely sprout and emerge as the mature plants the DNA in that seed determine. The exact same goes for the spiritual seeds we plant in our children! All the Bible reading and sharing and living builds strength of fiber in our children’s souls that will bear fruit for a lifetime. The scriptures that have been implanted will revisit them throughout their lifetimes, encouraging, warning, strengthening them.
  3. You may feel ‘unqualified’ but there is no such thing in this department! Just humble yourself and begin! Reading children’s Bible books to your kids and grands is no different than reading a Mother Goose story book except that with the Bible, you get lasting dividends. I’ve been deeply impacted by the simple stories from these books and my faith has been strengthened as I’ve read to my own kids.

Want MORE? I’d love to be a voice of encouragement on your parenting journey! Grab my FREE gift: 7 Simple Steps to Raising Happy Kids Who Persevere (while building team spirit in YOUR home) by clicking HERE.

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Mommy, when you can’t see beyond the mess…Let ME be your eyes.

After 34 years of parenting, I’ve put on a lot of miles in my journey as a mom. I’m now one of those people you young parents scratch your head and ponder…an empty nester.

Yes, I’ve crossed to that mysterious other side; that faraway place you longingly contemplate through the fog of your overwhelm, perhaps while stepping on sharp toys in the middle of the night, or when your toddler dropped your smart phone in the toilet.

Sigh.

Young mama you can’t see right now from where I am because the mess is too big and the noise is too loud and the tedium dizzying and the toilets are filthy and it’s 7:00 am and you’re out of half n’ half *&%!!! And to go get half n’ half you’d have to GAH get dressed, double gah get two toddlers dressed and in their car seats GAHHHH and then you’d have to do it 3 more times by the time you’re home with your purchase – just for half n half??!

And since you aren’t that amazing 5 a.m. yoga mom,  you all look homeless which would make you so stressed while everyone stares at you in Kroger feeling sorry for your kids, the half n’ half would curdle in your stomach anyway. And if by some chance you primped everyone, by that time you wouldn’t want coffee anyway. You’d want LUNCH and you certainly can’t afford to eat lunch out on your husband’s meager salary.

And you’re mad at HIM; that guy you pick up after, sleep with, the utility patrol who comes home after a long day and can’t walk through the room without a helpful suggestion or another request and you really don’t have a whole lot to look forward to – ok story time at the library is pretty decent but the girls with the always-helpful grandma are out shopping til they drop.

As you peer out at it all through tired eyes, it can be hard to see clearly.

BUT I CAN SEE past your present circumstances.
AND I KNOW THE TRUTH.
AND I CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW IF YOU’LL LET ME.

Ain’t nothing better than what’s in front of you RIGHT NOW RIGHT HERE TODAY. I know because if you choose to skip over this inconvenient truth, you will have already lost the game.

Everything in you wants to RUN on many days.
Everything around you tells you “just do it.”
Every media outlet screams at you that your bad a$$ beautiful self has SO MUCH TO GIVE THIS WORLD – YOU CAN BE ANYTHING….and there’s always some free government program with their hands out, just waiting to take your kid.

And you think about it so much that it’s working its way into your soul….that holy place where you make good decisions or bad decisions.

Because there is a target on your back and the goal is to take you out of your little one’s lives for most of their waking hours.
Because there are powers-that-be that KNOW YOUR SUPER POWERS AS A MOM. Yes, YOU. Flawed, uncertain, fearful YOU: the perfectly imperfect mother God gave to YOUR kids because He knows who you are and how capable you are!

These enemies are cunning.

They hide behind your messes and shame you.
They lurk on social media and whisper in your ear…”who ARE you anyway?? Get a life.”

They compare you with others until you’re convinced you are a LOSER; a dumpy out-of-shape ‘housewife’ – that dirty word of the 21st century.

The narrative goes something like this: ‘girl you are better than a nanny, a maid, a cook, a mistress to your demanding not-so-helpful man, you are A WINNER WHO SHOULD BE STRUTTIN HER STUFF out there somewhere before you’re old and gray and washed up.

But I know better
I know the truth
I know what’s coming
I know who your kids are and who they are to become.

Because I’ve crossed to the other side and it’s a beautiful, even miraculous place.
My ROI (Return On Investment) as a Momma far exceeds anything my 401K could have offered me from the perfect government job I quit when my firstborn arrived 33 years ago.

Here’s a peek into my everyday world as an empty nester mom of five sons…

One son recently emailed me to say, “Momma, you gave us boys a conscience.” (401K you say??)

Another son stood in my dirty kitchen last week and declared, “Momma you’re the most empowered woman I know.” (I gave up some great benefits with that government job, you say??)

Another son came over for lunch as I wanted to encourage him about something and he spent most of the time preaching the power of ME, his momma, what I have to offer the world and how I need to go about getting it out there. (I could’ve driven new cars with all that extra money, you say??)

Another son called to check up on me because he had me on his heart and talked at length with me, sharing his wisdom. (how many Nordstrom clothes could I have afforded with that job??)

I woke to a text from another son with an offer of $500 not because I’m poor but because he saw something he thought I could benefit from and he didn’t want me to ignore it because it cost money. (wow the vacations I could have paid for with that job, you say??)

And that’s just a tiny little itty bitty sliver of my midlife mom world…

Girls, I want to shout it from the mountain tops! Popular culture and feminism tried to rob me of the most precious gifts awaiting me as an adult woman! Dream big and take action today! God will meet you.

If you enjoyed the read, there’s more! I’d love to be a voice of encouragement along your journey.

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5 Pivotal Truth Bombs to Drop on Your Kids Before They Meet Their ‘Soulmate’

Here in the USA, gittin’ hitched is averaging $25,000 – 30,000 dollars per celebration.

Gulp.

Great pains are obviously being taken to plan the Big Day, but judging by the dismal outcome of too many of these pricey unions, many of the kids marrying aren’t prepared for life after the ceremony. 

 

Building a life that stands the test over time isn’t luck and unicorns. It’s real, raw and often rugged. We must dispel popular culture’s pretty little lies about fairytale futures. Here’s a good start:

1. Marriage is a marathon. A very long, tiring, and at times, soul-crushing race. A race indicates a lengthy stretch of rough road that leads to a glorious finish line. Most modern humans I talk to want a finish-line relational experience every single day, with full make-up, goosebumps and a photo shoot.

Sans sweat. 

We’ve all heard the phrase, if not vowed it ourselves, “for better or for worse.” In real life, there’s a whole lot of ‘worse’ you’re gonna experience along with the better in this marriage thing. Yes, the ‘better’ is priceless, but it only comes with the daily investment of long suffering, hard work and compromise over the long haul. 

Nora Ephron, screenwriter of blockbuster romcoms Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, and Harry Met Sally said “most people learned their beliefs about love from my movies.” Even she knew, after 3 marriages of her own, the reality vs. fantasy of romantic love.

And while we’re on the topic, ‘conscious uncoupling’ is a sentimental fallacy created by a bazillionaire Hollywood Hamptons ditz who is not in touch with the true spirit of marriage which has it’s roots in the term ‘covenant.’ Look it up, it’s brutal. More brutal however is divorce, which, in the words of my good friend, a divorced mother of four, is, “a death that never dies.”

2. Family is Complex. It’s a multi-generational conglomeration. A household of foreigners, ofttimes speaking different languages, trying to live together in harmony. Close families are not created by accident. It takes large amounts of grace extended to build a strong family.

How is it that the one family member you want to kill on Monday, saves your life on Thursday? Am I right? And you think your job is hard, but you’re a piece of work, too, even though you may not be in touch with it. We’re all like diamonds, many faceted, all having sides to us we cannot see. We see our good side; our family members see our not-so-good side. And we love each other through it all.

This is the mystery of family. This is the truth of covenant relationship. The staying power of staying when you often feel like fleeing. So much of the magic of life is simply not quitting!

3. Mothers. Are. Priceless. They cannot be rented or bought. The ‘I wanna nanny’ mantra parroted by so much of the Gen X young mama population is a worldly idea created by Hollywood starlets who are out of touch with reality and will one day, all-too-soon be found old, wrinkled, washed up and alone on the shores of Santa Monica beach. And for the rest of us overtaxed serfs of the world, surrendering our children to full time daycare centers and systemized, confining public education from age zero-18 will generally not produce the specimen of human being that our heart longs to raise. 

Do your job today, Mama, with all you have to give, and you will rest well on your pillow 20 years from today when your children are impacting the whole wide world with the heart and soul YOU gave them.

4. Fathers have super powers! The smear campaign against men over the past several decades has impacted our culture in an enormous way, redefining manhood and casting suspicion upon men who dare to display strength and leadership in most any context. Meanwhile, strong women are cheered on.

Men are not the weak, bumbling idiots media has portrayed them to be, nor are they the arseholes they’re often implied to be. The trickle down effect of this narrative has infused poison into family life where it seems to me that many men have become tentative about their role, defaulting to their very capable and dominating wives, which often leads to chaos, confusion and ultimately the breakdown of the family. 

(Conversely, ask most any single woman what she’s actually looking for in a man, and it’s not weakness. #scratchingmyhead)

After parenting for 33 years, I know the power of having a strong man at the helm of our family. Gregory is the steel beam holding up our dynasty – invisible at times, but more necessary than could possibly be imagined. We would be lost without him. Moms can do a lot, but they can’t take the place of a father.

5. Money Has Never Made a Human Heart Happy. All of creation chases the dollar bill and what do most of them have to show for it? More debt, distress and brokenness. Most double income families are spending 1/3 more than they bring in each month. Fact. The more you have, the more you spend. It’s a tireless backwards cycle, leading to chronic stress that destroys families. The love of money is still the root of all evil. Don’t love anything that can’t love you back. 

The plumb line your children measure their lives against will determine how strong, straight, tall and for how long the building stands. Let’s help them form their measuring stick with truth, not Madison Avenue myths.

Your Two-Minute Takeaway

  1. Take a moment to ponder all that your child is taking in through media, magazines, Netflix, movies and social media. What’s the life message he or she is regularly imbibing through all this input? Are you happy with this? Is there anything you’d like to adjust?
  2. Your kids are formed and fashioned by the 5 people closest to them. Are you happy with the friends they hang out with and the social extracurricular activities they’re involved in? Is there anything eating at you about their relationships? Does something need adjusting?
  3. You should be the primary force shaping your children. Is there any oxygen left in your week to spend quality time with your children, just poking around at thrift stores, walking the dog together, cooking or crafting or shooting hoops? If you don’t plan these things, they’ll never happen. Make a plan!

 

If you enjoyed the read, there’s more! I’d love to be a voice of encouragement along your journey.

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Building a Strong Foundation in Your Child: the Magic is in the Details

I’m convinced that the fundamental and distinctive characteristics and qualities of an individual – call it their moral and spiritual DNA, is formed by what is taught and trained, ingrained in them day-by-day over years and years. This process creates the very essence of their lives, the vital foundation from which future life decisions originate.

We humans like to compartmentalize everything. But life is holistic.* Everything’s connected.

For instance, our kid gets acne so we buy the cadillac of zit creams and slather it to remedy the crisis. But in actuality did you know that skin issues are most often a symptom of what lies beneath in the gut, the foundation of a healthy body?!

This revelation as it applies to our physical health is truly revolutionary – but it’s just as powerful in our parenting.

The value of a solid, healthy foundation really cannot be exaggerated. It’s essential to a solid life. It’s the result of a consistent, faithful presence doing what needs to be done over the course of someone’s life development.

Find any individual having a positive impact in the world, look over their shoulder and it’s likely you’ll see a dedicated parent or parental figure who invested a lot into their foundation. It’s precisely what made the person who the person is.

A mother and a father have such power. Super powers in fact, but the most important people on the planet are ofttimes hidden and underestimated, and eclipsed by the myths of popular culture.

Historically, many mothers dismiss their influence as inconsequential. They imagine vainly that they’re flunkie moms, glorified maids, dull nannies.

They don’t comprehend that their daily multitudinous tasks for their family’s benefit are setting the mold for their children. They reckon, “if women can have it all, why on earth would I not hire out all the unimportant tasks to someone less gifted?” But very little is unimportant in the scope of parenting.

 

It’s easy for parents to overlook the fact that the most important moment of their lives is always **NOW**!

Yes, everything matters because this is a holistic, comprehensive approach to developing a human being.

  • the organic green smoothie you’re blending
  •  the chore chart you’re making
  • the book you’re reading aloud
  • the iPhone you’re denying
  • the attitude you’re correcting
  • the big screen television that’s not running
  • the thank you note you’re requiring
  • the bed you’re making
  • the prayer you’re praying
  • the credit cards you’re shredding
  • the marriage vows you’re honoring
  • the political discussion you’re broaching
  • the foster child you’re nurturing
  • the meal you’re delivering to the elderly neighbor
  • the gossip you aren’t tolerating at the dinner table…is all working in synergy to produce a combined effect in your child that is greater than the sum of their separate effects to build a healthy, whole, stable individual who will in turn, build a healthy, whole, stable society with their influence on the world around them.

You are developing a culture in which your child is eternally influenced through all their five senses, soul and spirit.

Children do not primarily need the benefits of a mother bringing home an additional paycheck, but the entire household needs the influence of a mother in the home in these formative years.

We have only to scan the news headlines to see life after broken life, fool after fool, train wreck after train wreck of lives coming undone.
Unstable people without a clue.
Their foundations weren’t laid properly.
They are sorely lacking in substance.
It’s not a speech they need – too late for that.
Rehab may help. But it’s iffy.
It was the tireless, unending, laborious, exhausting, discipline and discipleship of a mother and father that was foisted off on others who didn’t have what it takes to get the job done in a youngster’s life.

Dr. Caroline Leaf, cognitive neuroscientist and best selling author confirms this principle in her book, Who Switched Off My Brain. “Childhood is a particularly crucial time for the brain because neural sculpting is at its lifetime high. Many of our abilities, tendencies, talents and reactions are hardwired in childhood and set a mental stage for adulthood.

Herein lies the root of the corruption of public morals in our day. Character is developed over time and it’s what makes the world go round. It’s what determines decisions and divorces and successes and failures, monies made, stolen and given. Character drives the course of history, the condition of nations, cities, villages, communities and neighborhoods.

The dominant, constant force in that kid’s life is going to constantly dominate in his life.
It’s really quite simple.
Who’s imparting to your children-reminding, hugging, instructing, mentoring, training, re-training, repeat?
It’s all so clear.
This is easy.
This is too easy to miss when so many have their hands outstretched to take this responsibility from you.

It’s about developing values and conscience and conviction and perceptions and judgments and discernment both intentionally and ‘accidentally’ in a human being who will, in turn, touch so many other human beings for better or worse.

Your Two-Minute Takeaway

  1. What specific, helpful thoughts came to mind as you read this post? Write these thoughts down, as they are the revelation you will be inspired by into the future so that you can be aware and take appropriate action for positive change as you build a healthy foundation in your home, for the benefit of your children.
  2. Look at the big picture of your family’s weekly and monthly schedules and evaluate what really needs to change. Are you so busy and distracted that you are missing so much of ‘The NOW!’ of daily life? I’ve been there and I understand. It could be time for a course correction. Pray and ask for wisdom to bring practical change to your weekly, monthly and quarterly schedule.

*Holistic: characterized by comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole.

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5 Priceless Practices for Your Little Leader-in-the-Making

“It is not necessary to do extraordinary things to get extraordinary results.”—Warren Buffet

Beware the pervasive weak parenting culture where everyone’s tip-toeing around the tulips, afraid of crushing little Johnny and Sally. Adults driven by this misguided philosophy seem unwilling to gently and clearly teach some simple, but important social etiquette skills that are sorely lacking in many kids I meet.

These are four examples I bump into regularly that many parents seem to be:

1. blind to

2. prefer to avoid tackling or

3. simply feel powerless to resolve.

Shy is a lie. I understand that some children are wired to walk in a room mouth first, and others’ inherent nature is to be quiet as a mouse, but the common expression of ‘shy’ in public situations really bugs me.

 

Many young children I meet will not look me in the eye. Their parents stand there pleading with them to greet me, and they refuse. They drop their faces and contort their bodies. They’ll even turn and kick a sibling or fight over a toy as I’m standing there waiting, but they won’t respond to me. I am amazed.

“She’s shy,” Dad says with a nervous laugh. But she’s not shy when dessert is served or she’s handed a gift. First impressions are hard to erase. There is no excuse for such behavior.

Yes, the human race contains many personalities, but each of them, whether quiet and subdued or charismatic and demonstrative, should be bold in humility, chin up. Children shouldn’t be allowed to express shyness and timidity at whim, and greetings should not be optional. Let me add: they ought to be warm and cheerful, with eye contact and an outdoor speaking voice.

Responding to adults is a necessary skill, even for the two-year-old among us. Teach your children to shake hands firmly while they look the new acquaintance in the eye. Putting their best foot forward is imperative if our children want to thrive in any vocation as adults. That’s what leaders do.

If you’ve trained your children to acknowledge adults in some particular manner, their refusal to do so is rebellion to your authority. Don’t ignore it. One day I took the time to line up three of my sons, talk with them calmly and clearly and dole out discipline for their infraction: not shaking hands with a gentleman I had introduced them to earlier in the day, which they knew was expected. Their improper response showed a lack of respect and honor toward the man. “Shyness” takes on many forms. We’ve got to be discerning in these matters in order to parent effectively.

Public Performance. My youngest son was in a performance and his group of four and five-year olds were preparing to sing. I had observed a pattern in his life I knew I had to adjust, so I gave my son a firm, but loving, exhortation. I told him he was not to look down at the ground during his performance. This expression of pretending to be shy would not be allowed because he isn’t shy. Even if he tended to be on the timid side of personalities, I wouldn’t indulge him in the habit of ‘hiding’ as such because it’s fear-based and an unhelpful practice.

I said to him, “You are strong and courageous and bold, and you’re a leader, so get up there and keep your chin up.” After the program, I noted with enthusiasm that he had kept his chin up and participated well. He said, “Mommy, my face wanted to be shy but I said ‘no.’” Victory! This little life laboratory lesson served him well, and now that he’s a Sony-signed artist performing on stages across the continent, he gets to practice this skill regularly. #momknowsbest

Rude Interruptions. Picture this: Two adults are engaged in conversation when suddenly a little tyke runs up, exploding with questions, demands, and other “urgent” matters, and completely disrupts the discussion between the adults. Who gave this three-foot-high little guy the power to derail the progressive communication between these two 150-pound adults, three times his size? Why does this child suddenly become the main attraction, taking center stage when no blood is running, a fire isn’t threatening, and a terrorist has not entered the building? Easy. His mother and father haven’t trained him to handle himself with restraint.

Instead, they’ve trained him that at the drop of a hat, he may have his way, rudely barging in where his nose doesn’t belong. My advice is to put a stop to this self-centered behavior. Train him or her to walk up quietly and gently place his or her hand on your arm or side, never saying a word or making a peep; the child then waits for you to decide when it is appropriate for him to speak, not the other way around.

Potlucks and Parties. Buffets OMG. I dread them when kids are involved. We shouldn’t allow raucous little children the right to race their way to the head of food lines, in front of adults who are present at potlucks or parties. How rude of them to grub everything their heart’s desire, even touching things they decide not to take with no thought for those behind them in the queue.

 

What are we thinking by teaching them they can rifle through all the desserts with their mucky little fingers, slobbering, hoarding, coughing and picking through the healthy stuff to pile on the starches and carbs while their impotent parents sit idly by, watching but unmoved?

Wise adults don’t leave the children to run amuck. Caring adults get involved. Kindly impose regulations when necessary. There are occasions when a citizen’s arrest is absolutely appropriate, and if it happens to your kid, don’t get your nose out of joint.

Written Communication. Thank-you notes should not be optional. Mom was right! Teach your children to weave a tapestry of beautiful words that bless and build up others. ‘Thank-you’s’ can help our children build the muscles of gratefulness and thoughtfulness. By writing notes regularly, my boys worked out their vocabulary, spelling, sentence structure, punctuation, artistry, and penmanship or typing skills, all-in-one!

For little ones just starting out, I recommend the fill-in-the-blank type of thank-yous. It’s easy to create these with fun paper on any home computer, or you can purchase them ready-made. Special note cards or personalized stationery can be a great motivator for your older children.

Gifts aren’t the only reason for writing. Teach your kids to appreciate grandparents, neighbors, war veterans, and others who would love to find real mail in their box!

As in other life disciplines, don’t settle for ordinary when your child is capable of so much more! Hand-written, personal notes are rare in our day, but always well-received! Sloppily written text filled with redundant wording, equals laziness. Add horizontal lines with a ruler to help your kids succeed in the neatness category. Rough drafts are often a good exercise and give Mom or Dad an opportunity to review and offer creative input. Have a thesaurus and dictionary handy as tools for successful expression.

Although some would consider these matters trivial, big doors swing on small hinges. These simple real-life exercises will serve your child hugely in the days ahead in more ways than you can imagine. When we take our place as the wise, mature adults that we are, engaging with our children at the points where change needs to happen in their lives, we can expect greatness to emerge in the lives of our boys and girls.

Want MORE? I’d love to be a voice of encouragement on your parenting journey. Grab my FREE gift: HERE: 7 Simple Steps to Raising Happy Kids Who Persevere (while building team spirit in YOUR home)

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Valentine’s Day Blues Gotcha?? Here’s the Cure.

Here we go again. Barely got past Christmas, then the Super Bowl and now…
Red.
Hearts.
Everywhere.

Digitized, printed, wrapped, hung and glued on the whole universe: billboards, cards, candies, candles, lingerie, jewelry, steaks, and all that our men can see is…

RED! WARNING! DANGER APPROACHING! As they prepare to walk the tightrope of yet another female expectation based on popular culture’s superficial relational demands.

Can you feel the presssssurrrre as you walk through the drugstore, Target, or Nordstrom? Click on Amazon??
Because Hallmark’s at it again, collaborating with every other media and retail force on the planet to try to define for you what love is and exactly how it should be expressed.
They’re setting the baseline and adding a price tag.
Don’t fall for it.
And, women, snap out of it. Yes, you read that right and, no, I’m not a party pooper.
And yes, I love me some romance. (and yes, monogamy should be HOT!)

But my husband’s ‘performance’ on Valentine’s Day is not the measure of his love for me!

Valentine’s Day is a phony, plastic, blip on the screen.

A massive ATM for retail outlets to peddle their made-in-China wares and for FTD to grab a windfall of profits.

 

Am I against beautiful bouquets and Belgian chocolates? He!! to the no! Am I trying to discourage men from indulging their women this coming Friday? (Please, I hope you’re smarter than that.)

But I am against Madison Avenue’s effort to present to you the image of what your man must measure up to, comparing him to the Celebrity Class, bringing unrest in your heart and mind and creating angst between partners. And really, who gives a crap what Tom Brady’s buying for Giselle??! Hashtag meaningless. Remember Brad and Angelina, Blake and Miranda, Ben and Jen, Heidi and Seal, Chris and Gwyneth, Tarek and Christina, Naomi and Liev… (should I go on???)

Expectations destroy relationships.

Think about it.
Every disappointing holiday…wherein was the disappointment?
Was the gift not enough?
The calls not verbally indulgent?
The card didn’t arrive on time?
“What card,” you ask?!

Was it…eegads…forgotten??!!
YOUR sacred day—was it not celebrated as the day the earth stood still?! With power and might and trumpets and many and varied $urpri$e$?

You showed your displeasure.
The hmph in your throat.
The sigh in your voice.
Your disappointment was evident to all, or at least to the man in your life.
The clenched teeth. The cold spirit. The pout. How divisive and devilish they are. How much distance they place between loving souls.

So…you didn’t get enough? What’s ever ‘enough?!’
Isn’t love enough?
Does loyalty count for nothing?
Is faithfulness a mere token?

What of the handful of daisies brought you on no special occasion weeks ago?


…the scrawled sticky note of encouragement waiting for you on the door that winter morning?
…that recent deep and meaningful late-night chat?
…that quick call just to say, “I love you?”
…the spontaneous stop for wine and pizza last weekend?
…the takeout latte brought you randomly for no reason?
…the diligent work ethic and the steady paychecks to support the family?
…the foot rub that put you to sleep, or whatever simple task or action or verbiage was expressed to you in love.
Are these not celebrations of YOU? The loved, yes, adored soul of great importance to him?

Expectations ruin simple moments of pleasure and random expressions of affection.

All is lost on the Big Occasion’s perceived ‘#fails.’

And our children notice and form their values according to what we value and place importance upon.

Our culture is addicted to romance but have no clue about L.O.V.E. – that four-letter all or nothing, die a thousand deaths, til the end of time, covenant word.

 

Nora Ephron, screenwriter of blockbuster romcoms Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, and Harry Met Sally said “most people learned their beliefs about love from my movies.” Even she knew, after 3 marriages of her own, the reality vs. fantasy of romantic love. Her brilliant writing apparently did not reflect her personal life, for behind the scenes she suffered decades of much relational agony.

Full Disclosure: Yes, of course I’ve received treats and surprises on occasional ‘Valentine’s Days,’ and yes, I’ve participated in the holiday every single year in some way by spoiling my children and grandchildren with fun little trinkets or gifting my adult friends with frivolous fun.

Because I’m not a legalistic, uptight chick. I love life and laughter and celebration any day of the week; I’m simply not willing to allow the systems of our world to stir up discontent and depression and strife in my home, while teaching my sons a big fat lie about LOVE, just because my husband doesn’t dance to their tune and obey their dictates.

Be wise, ladies. Be courageous, men.
Be free to be YOU as you love one another.

If you enjoyed the read, there’s more! I’d love to be a voice of encouragement along your journey.

 

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Is FEVER phobia a part of YOUR Mom life?

A guest post by Heather Michelle*

F E V E R

That dirty little 5-letter word indicating our normal 98.6ish body temp is climbing, spikes our anxiety level as well. Particularly mothers of young children sense fear’s grip as they touch their child’s warm forehead, imagining what’s to come. Visions of crying, sleepless nights, puke, dehydration and potential doctor’s visits back us into a scary corner of panic..we’d do anything to make it go away, disappear – POOF! 

We head to the cupboard and dig out the dreaded thermometer. We eye it with uneasy suspicion, trying to get the most accurate reading.

It hovers at 100 degrees. 

BOOM. 

We sigh deeply.

Our first thought is, ‘make that number drop STAT, or chaos will ensue.’

But as the mother of a toddler myself, I would invite you to S T O P for a second and ask yourself “W H Y?”

Why is there a fever? 

Why are we so afraid? 

Why do we feel that number MUST go down immediately? 

What is triggering this reaction in our minds? 

Where did we learn our beliefs about fever?

I attribute much of this consternation to what I call, ‘fever phobia.’ I think parents tend to overreact and over-treat due to this phobia which, according to my informal but diligent studies, took root around the time anti-fever drugs like Motrin and Tylenol were released. I believe God created our bodies wonderfully* and maybe, just maybe, that fever is there for a beneficial reason.

Mom-Life. Keeping it Real.

The simplest analogy I can think of is our kid’s dirty, germy hands and belongings after time spent at the park, the zoo, the grocery store touching communal surfaces, picking their little noses, licking the shopping cart, dragging blankie across filthy floors of public places – you get me – if these scenarios don’t scream ‘mom-life’ right there LOL! How do we then proceed to erase the diabolical dirt and germs threatening? 

With heat. 

We wash our hands with the hottest water we can endure, draw a warm bath for Junior, march straight to the laundry room and toss blankie, teddy bear, and every stitch of clothing into the machine, selecting ‘hottest’ on the Maytag console to sterilize and obliterate the looming infectious microorganisms.

Heat disinfects, and this is what our bodies are trying to accomplish with a fever, yet we sabotage it from minute one by dropping that Tylenol/Motrin ‘ice cube’ into ‘the boiling water pot’ because we are afraid of the inconveniences that come with that word. 

Dr.Kathi J. Kemper, Director of the Center for Integrative Health and Wellness and a Professor of Pediatrics at the Ohio State University weighs in with, 

“Fever is often a good sign of a robust immune system,” and “a fever in and of itself is not dangerous.” She reminds us to, “treat the child, not the thermometer.”

Our Miraculous Physical Bodies

The human body is a self-regulating organism, which means it’s programmed to heal and correct itself when given the tools necessary. Due to our compromised diets and other lifestyle factors, sometimes we need to give it a boost toward healing and restoring; but let’s be careful not to sabotage it just to reduce a symptom. 

Fever is just one tangible indicator of a problem going on within. Removing the fever doesn’t remove the bacteria or the infection, its just removes the engine from the train on the track to healing. Not addressing the root issue just means it continues to live on or grow into something greater like an ear infection, or pneumonia, or a myriad of possibilities.

Dr. Suzanne Humphries says this about fevers,

“trying to smack down a fever when a child is sick, is like shooting your attack dog when someone is breaking into your house!” 

Here are some practical solutions I turn to first, rather than grabbing the Tylenol or calling the doctor when someone in our home comes down with a fever:

Ginger Bath & Detox Bath

The first thing we do is a detox or ginger bath.These natural ingredient baths actually help the body reach maximum temperature quickly, so it’s able to accomplish its duty – destroying bacteria – then the fever breaks and the body releases pent-up toxins through sweating. When ginger is added to a bath it turns up the heat, encouraging this process. Some people will sweat a lot in the bath and after. These baths also encourage sleep, a benefit toward healing.

Dr. Donna D’Alessandro from Pediatrics at Iowa University says, regarding fever,

“the body is basically trying to do the right thing. Bugs like to live at body temperature. So if you raise the temperature, you kill them off.”

She also points out that the body can function very effectively at temperatures as high as 100.5 degrees. 

Ginger baths can be used on children and adults. If using on littles just know that water temp needs to be more moderate and they can rest on your chest or lap in bath at all times. If you have sensitive skin, wearing bottoms in bath may be helpful. 

Ginger Bath:

Fill tub with hottest water tolerable

Add 2 TBS to ¼ C Organic ground ginger powder

Submerge in tub and stay at least 20 minutes

After bath, dress warmly, drink lots of water, avoid sugar, and rest.

Temperature may continue to rise, but fever should break shortly. May need an additional bath next day if fever persists.

Detox bath:

Fill tub with hottest water tolerable

Add ¼ C Baking Soda to water and let sit 5 minutes

(when detoxing you are opening pores to allow impurities out and you will absorb what’s in the water, so by adding the baking soda, the water is ‘shocked’ and will turn your local water alkaline) 

After 5 min, add:

½ C Epsom Salts

1 TBSP Coconut oil

2 TBSP Bentonite Clay

2 drops Orange Essential oil (optional)

Soak at least 20 minutes

After bath, dress warmly, drink lots of water, avoid sugar, and rest.

Temperature may continue to rise, but fever should break shortly. May need an additional bath the next day if fever persists.

These detox baths can be used for fevers, headaches, muscle aches, and any general ‘under the weather’ feelings. When detoxing, symptoms can increase before leaving just as fevers spike before breaking.

Stats tell us that only 43% of parents know that a fever below 100.4 can be beneficial in a child.

 

Pharmaceutical companies have masterfully used advertising to promote their products using ‘fever phobia’ as a brilliant marketing scheme to keep parents in the dark about what is actually best for children. Before you allow fear and doubt to creep in, running to the doctor for a prescription, trust your body’s ability to heal itself. Help it along by detoxing, hydration, a clean diet and taking quality vitamins/supplements and then if necessary, seek medical attention. 

When our little ones are learning a new skill, it’s so easy to swoop in to do it for them so they don’t have to struggle, but that doesn’t build confidence or muscle for their future success. The same is true with our immune systems! Rushing to erase symptoms with that ‘magical’ liquid will not allow the body to build it’s own defenses in the end. It actually keeps it weak, and dependent on the ‘help.’ 

It’s hard to stand back and watch the struggle of an immune system growing, but if you trust your body and are willing to let it build its muscle, the next time sickness comes calling you’ll be happy you did!

*Psalm 139:14 I will give thanks and praise to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.

 

Heather Michelle Mira is a wholehearted wife, mommy, daughter and friend. A lifelong learner with a passion for homeopathics and all types of natural remedies, she loves sharing her victories to empower others in their pursuit of greater health. I’m blessed to call her mine! {Disclaimer: Heather is not a medical doctor and encourages readers to do their own research, seek expert advice and find what works for them.}

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Scary Mommy?

Flipping through the greeting cards at Target, I bumped into this one…

I saw Mom at the store today. (I sure hope she didn’t see me!”)

 

(Note to self: Don’t be that mom)

We’ve all been ‘that mom’ from time to time (I’ll be the first one to raise my guilty hand), but I’m here to say, we can choose a better way, as we gain insight into what builds camaraderie versus what repels our children from us.

We don’t have to perpetuate the problem of the breakdown of generational relationships. Period.

But it takes a lot of wisdom and intentional effort on a daily basis to become the kind of parent our adult kids want to be around.

This time of year always takes me back to this moment…

My son.

He was becoming less mine and more his own in this season.
He rarely needed me anymore.

We hold our breath as we sense this shift.

How could I stay connected to this amazing young man?
How could I nurture our friendship as adults?

His diligent efforts as a home schooler had landed him a full scholarship to the premier cosmetology school in our city to achieve his dream of becoming a hair stylist at age 16. His flexible schedule allowed him to pursue his passion full time and expedite his licensing.

He casually mentioned they were having a dress-up day for Halloween at the student-run salon on campus.
As he created his ingenious Mad Hatter costume pictured above, (awesome, right??!) I had a thought.

I, too, would dress up and surprise him at school that day!
And so I did.

I remember getting lost on the California freeways – sooo hopelessly lost…most intelligent adults would have given up and gone home.

Not me!
I don’t give up.

He literally did not recognize me and dismissed me as a client. #winning

He walked right past me with his cluster of fellow students as they returned from grabbing snacks at the nearby 7-11.

(No, I didn’t mention the Dr. Pepper he was holding was crap and would tank his immune system within 15 minutes, and that he shouldn’t be drinking it with those blasted poison GMO non-food taco-flavored Doritos, and that Halloween was the devil’s holiday, and that I smelled cigarettes. Nope.)

Such ‘wisdom’ is better left unsaid in this season of transition, as our children become adults. (I’m laughing out loud right now!)

Oh, how much I’ve learned as a mother of adult children. 
And I’m so glad I’ve employed it (umm…most of the time), because my children don’t hide from me now that they’re grown.

No, my journey of parenting adults hasn’t been Easy Street, but I’ve determined to glean the treasure in it all, win the battles and live to see the dreams God has put in my heart.

(And I always make sure to take really good notes when I’m in the school of hard knocks!)

I’d love to share my notes with YOU because on the other side of my inner battles, I believe I can help you navigate this transition to parenting your adult kids so you, too, can enjoy more peace, better sleep, less guilt and painful regret while fostering healthy friendships with your grown-up kids.

I don’t share fancy pants platitudes and religious blah blah blah. I believe in super practical, easily actionable advice. And I’ve got some hard-earned wisdom I can hardly wait to share with you!

Join me HERE!

 

Got millennials? You’ll get me…

If you’re parenting young adults at the moment, here’s an article I think you’ll enjoy. Tears in My Coffee…

No tricks just my favorite treats...

If you’ve followed me for awhile, you know I do my best to sow lots of seeds toward good heath, but that doesn’t mean I don’t eat treats!

A girl’s gotta have some fun, and we’re privileged to have some seriously awesome goodies available these days that are scrumptious and better than Snickers, M&Ms and Almond Joy bars!

Here are 3 of my absolute favs I buy regularly and highly recommend!

P.S. Costco sells them here in the U.S. so you get lots for your money!

UNREAL DARK CHOCOLATE COCONUT MINIS
  • 3 SIMPLE INGREDIENTS: Organic Coconut, Organic Cassava Syrup & Dark Chocolate
  • ONLY 3G SUGAR: we keep sugar to a minimum, without using sugar alcohols or artificial sweeteners. We carefully formulate our coconut bars with only the best, quality ingredients that put flavor first without all of the sugar.
  • NON-GMO
JO JO’S ORIGINAL GUILT-FREE CHOCOLATE
  • HALF THE SUGAR, DOUBLE THE DELICIOUS Always low-sugar and low carb but more importantly JOJO’s Dark Chocolate is so delicious you won’t actually believe it’s low-sugar.
  • SATISFY YOUR SUGAR CRAVINGS, 70% Dark Chocolate, Pistachios, Almonds & Cranberries + Plant-based protein
  • EVERYTHING YOU WANT, NOTHING YOU DON’T- Certified Gluten Free, NON-GMO, Soy Free, Paleo, Vegan & Keto Friendly
LAKANTO MONKFRUIT SWEETENER
  • Contains zero net carbs, zero calories, and is zero-glycemic; Perfect for cookies, coffee, desserts, and other sweet, sugar-free treats
  • Matches the sweetness of sugar; A healthy cup-for-cup alternative to ordinary sugar
  • Works with ketogenic, diabetic, candida, paleo, vegan, low-carb, low-sugar, non-GMO, and all-natural diets
  • White sugar substitute for baking and cooking
  • A mix of monk fruit extract and erythritol with no fiber, no maltodextrin, and no artificial flavoring or sweeteners

Taylor Ransom creates and acts in this Halloween parody – a brilliant, sometimes stinging, satirical sketch that most likely has its roots in his childhood as a church kid.

I’m rolling…

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Tears in My Coffee

Today my son texted to say he would be at my door soon. I assumed he must need something as he leaves tomorrow on an important business trip, and I’m always at the ready with a stocked fridge, natural remedies, stain removal kit and answers to the riddles of life for my young man. I was sure he had a to-do list as long as his guitar-playing four-foot arms, and the stress and preoccupation to go with it. He’s a music producer, performer and writer, stopping at several cities on this particular journey for collaborating and production, carrying responsibility and weight beyond his young years.

A few moments later, he bounced in and declared, “I wondered if you’d want to walk to get coffee; I’ve been wanting to take you out before I leave town!”

I must have looked like a raccoon staring at headlights in the dark, mumbling to find my words…sooo not prepared for this gift. Whenever my children present me with this mom-luxury, I hesitate awkwardly, then my first reaction is to say “thank you SO much but really, you have soooo many important priorities in life, it’s OK you don’t have to go with me or spend your limited time and money on ME your boring old (limping) (click here for the lowdown) mother!”

But I overrode my insecurities and said, “Sure, let’s do it!” I flew into hurry mode, spending just enough time on myself not to be an embarrassing hag-mother. Fifteen minutes max and we were strolling on the sunny side of the street in our urban neighborhood and yes, I was giddy as a schoolgirl. (Funny how the tables turn in midlife.)

I can’t express what it means to have my grown son choose to walk with me on this golden fall day, sharing his thoughts and dreams aloud. My beaming grin tells the world what a lucky girl I am; yet just beneath my smiling eyes, tears threaten because I recognize this moment, this blessed now, this glorious pause and I think, “what more could a midlife mama want?!”

We arrived in the bustling cafe to order. When he pulled the cash from his pocket to pay – that wrinkled well-traveled paper bill representing his thousands of hours of study and preparation, the hundreds of hours of driving cross-country performing his art – that humble slice of green left after the rent, utilities and cell bills were paid, the new guitar strings purchased, the gas tank filled, THIS! the portion he chose to spend on me rather than on himself…

Oblivious to the cashier, his outstretched hand held what represented his very life and here he was, giving it back to me in his love language: a perfect cup of fair-trade, shade grown, single-origin hipster drip, just to bless me, his Mama. I had to turn away because his sacrifice meant so much to me.

We lingered long out front on a bench, rays of autumn sunshine highlighting our deep and meaningful conversation…I hung onto him tight as we strolled home, wanting to freeze the frame, to replay the tape again and again. And I saved the cup until I see him again. A symbol, empty now and yet so full of priceless memories to me, his Mama.

    THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE!

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    Cut Through the Noise: What Do YOU See In Your Little One?

    I have to ask, how are we assessing our kids? A proper assessment assures us we’re on the right track as we aim our children toward their destinies.

    When my sons were growing up, most schools administered broad assessment tests once toward the end of the year, while report cards went out quarterly. I never put a lot of stock in what the S.A.T., C.A.T or the I.T.B.S said about my kids. They always tested acceptably on these, but the scores didn’t carry a lot of weight with me.

    In our home, their progress was monitored daily and their character assessed relentlessly; those were the tests I was concerned about. I didn’t care if they’d read every book that Nietzsche or Darwin had written and memorized it backwards. It didn’t matter if they’d been invited to honors classes. At the end of the day, from my perspective all that stuff was meaningless if there wasn’t character, integrity, and world-changing purpose in their lives.

    I found it necessary to continually resist the standards set by popular culture as they related to my five sons. Often the world’s perspective was diametrically opposed to how I viewed true success for my boys.

    If my children didn’t possess prized qualities of distinction like perseverance, respect for authority, quick obedience, faithfulness, and a solid work ethic, then what kind of impact could they possibly have in our world?

    If they didn’t display active compassion to the hurting, and think outside of the tiny box of their own personal happiness, then in actuality, no matter what the test scores told me, I would have failed to produce a successful man.

    John Taylor Gatto, former public school educator and prolific author, had this to say about the children he taught for three decades in the public system:

    “The children I teach are indifferent to the adult world. The children I teach have almost no curiosity. The children I teach are cruel to each other; they lack compassion for misfortune; they laugh at weakness; they have contempt for people whose need for help shows too plainly. The children I teach are dependent, passive, and timid in the presence of new challenges.” *

    This assessment is troubling. How many educated children of our day would be similar? That is a specimen you and I don’t want to produce. A person who is highly educated, but without character, is an educated idiot. God knows there are more than enough of them populating the earth as it is. Many of them teach at our universities.

    Don’t hear what I’m not saying. Education is important. In fact, it’s so important to me that I labored long and hard educating my children for over 20 years. I took their life preparation very seriously, but all my eggs weren’t in the academic basket.

    This world’s system of assessing our children is based on their good looks, athletic prowess, personal charisma, academic standing, fine arts talent, and so on. This information is collected and used to compare our kids with others their age. Comparisons are often destructive and can prove to be a death knell to us and our children. And although a child may excel in any or all of these categories, he may still greatly lack true substance in his life.

    Sadly enough, grandparents, educators, and adult friends aren’t always a good litmus test either. Depending on what their basis for evaluation is, they might be out in left field in their assessment of your child.

    I’m not endorsing lone-ranger parents with an independent spirit, but I am saying the buck stops with you. You have to own the responsibility of knowing your child, assessing your child through the lens of your values, gathering wisdom from those you deeply respect and applying it appropriately to your unique situation.

    This isn’t a one-size-fits-all microwave-speed method of child rearing, because, trust me, you don’t want a one-size-fits-all microwave-speed method for your little miracle who is as unique and set apart as his or her own fingerprint indicates.

    *Gatto, John T. Dumbing Us Down (Philadelphia: New Society Publishers, 1992), pp. 30–32.

    If you enjoyed the read, there’s more! I’d love to be a voice of encouragement along your journey.

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