Jill SavageWelcome to the No More Perfect community! If you are an imperfect mom, this is your place! If you have imperfect kids, you’ll be right at home!

Poke around a little bit and you’ll find all kinds of encouragement from blog posts to videos to bonus resources for each book in the No More Perfect series. Speaking of videos, you’ll definitely want to check out the FREE short videos that accompany each book. You can enjoy them personally, share them on Facebook, or use them to organize a book study in your neighborhood or moms group.  You’ll find both No More Perfect Mom videos and No More Perfect Kids videos right here.

Would you like a daily quick read to address the Perfection Infection in your life or your parenting?  The No More Perfect Moms 31 Day Challenge or the No More Perfect Kids 13 Day Challenge are a wonderful way to get daily encouragement for a concentrated period of time. These easy-to-read emails will help cement the No More Perfect principles in your heart and mind.

Once you’ve explored this site, don’t forget to hop over to the Hearts at Home site where you’ll find even more encouragement and information about the Hearts at Home mom conferences. They're not only a great getaway for you and a friend or two, but also a wonderful opportunity to be inspired and equipped to be the best mom you can be.

You’re among friends here. We’re learning to love well and live authentically.  Thanks for joining us!

Jill, mom of 5

mominteruptEvery kid does it.

MOM….Mommy….Moooooooom!

It happens while you’re on the phone, or talking to someone at the store, or just having a conversation with your spouse.

In exasperation we usually say something like, “It’s rude to interrupt,” or “Stop interrupting me when I’m talking to someone.”

Are we saying what we really mean though? We don’t necessarily want our kids not to interrupt us, especially if something is very important for us to know. What we want them to do is to be respectful of what we’re doing. So instead of telling them what NOT to do, what if we taught them how to interrupt respectfully?

Here are four steps to teach your kids to interrupt respectfully:

  1. Have your child touch your arm, hand, or leg—whatever they can reach.
  2. Have them wait until you have a break in the conversation.
  3. Reassure them you know they are there by touching their hand.
  4. Ask them what they need when you have a break in your conversation.

The best way to teach this is to do some role-playing. When we were teaching it to our kids, we would often use our time together around the dinner table. After dinner, we explained what we wanted them to learn and then we practiced it over and over. We had some fun with the role-playing like I pretended to be having a conversation with one of the kids and daddy had to interrupt me. This modeled for the kids how we wanted them to handle interruptions.

The best part of this is that Mark and I began to use this with each other. If Mark’s standing in the church lobby chatting with people on Sunday morning and I need to get

his attention, I’ll walk up and put my hand on his shoulder or touch his arm and wait. When there’s a break in the conversation, he’ll turn and ask me what I need.

It’s a respectful way to interrupt for any age!

Embracing Authenticity,

Jill Savage
Mom to 5 kids

momquestionI once heard Sally Clarkson speak at one of our Hearts at Home conferences and she made a suggestion I’ve taken to heart several times since then.

Sally suggested that every six months, it’s a good idea to take a look at your life, and see what adjustments are necessary. Evaluation is good for the soul and helps us stay on track with what we really want for our life and our family.

Here are the questions Sally suggested:

  1. What am I doing that is causing stress in my family?
  2. What am I doing to please others that doesn’t propel my own life plan for myself and my family?
  3. What character issues do my children need to work on?
  4. What image of God do I want my children to have? Since they are deeply interrelated, what image of God am I projecting to my children?
  5. What should I change?

Once you have your answers, setting a goal and timetable for any adjustments is important. This assures that the change will happen and you’ll more likely stay on track for what you really want for your family.

Embracing Authenticity,

Jill Savage
Mom to 5 kids

momstoryIf I watched you from a distance and tried to guess your story, what would I imagine? If I sat next to you on an airplane, what would you openly share with a stranger? If you were writing your own eulogy, what would you say? If someone else wrote it, what would they say?

Everyone has a story. But how often do we take time for storytelling?

It’s easy to assume others have never had a struggle or they’re clueless when they don’t seem to have a care in the world. Or to assume they’ve had very rough lives because they seem stressed all the time. Or to judge people based on our own perception. But we don’t really know anyone’s story until they share it with us.

Instead of making assumptions, guessing, or judging, we need to get the facts. We need to take time to hear life stories, day stories, experience stories, and especially whatever stories our children long to tell us. We need to listen. Really listen--not to respond, but to try to understand where others are coming from and find out what brought them to this moment.

But we also need to tell our stories, even when they’re not easy to share. We may be ashamed of choices we’ve made or embarrassed by the course our life has taken. The thing we need to remember is we are more than a collection of our detours and past mistakes. Everything we’ve been through is only a part of who we are today.

There are paragraphs of my story I wish I could white-out, but I can’t. There are chapters I’d love to rewrite, but I can’t. What I can do is make good come from those experiences. I can make sure they influence the rest of my story--or maybe someone else’s--for the better.

The cool thing about our stories is that each of us owns our own story. No one else has the same combination of understanding, knowledge, and experience. Each story is valid and unique. And our history is only the beginning. Our stories are still being written.

If we take time to share our stories, we’ll understand each other better. And who knows, maybe we’ll begin to offer the benefit of the doubt a little more and jump to conclusions less.

Everybody has a story to tell. What’s your story?

Embracing Authenticity,

Patty Maier
Mom to 3 kids

momrespectI love making people laugh.

My husband’s quick to chuckle at jokes whether they’re funny or not.

So when I discovered my teasing him could get me high on laughs, I joked and poked fun every chance I got.

Most of our banter was good fun, but looking back I see where I often crossed the line from teasing to making fun. Joking is ok. Making fun and being disrespectful is not.

 

My husband deserves incredible respect. And I hold incredible power to tear him down or boost his confidence simply with my words. Knowing when to stop the jokes is just one of the ways I can respect my husband with words. Here are some others:

  1. 1. Be content – Dreaming about the future is one thing, listing all of the things I’d like to change is another.
  2. 2. Don’t argue –Trying to convince him that he should drive one way to the store over another isn’t essential. Let’s share our opinions, but when it doesn’t really matter, let it be ok to disagree.
  3. 3. Build up his name, even when he’s not around –I’ve found husband-bashing to be a popular activity when the men aren’t around. We all love to tell a funny story, but join me in making a decision now to only bring up the stories we’d also share with him sitting next to us.
  4. 4. Let him speak without interrupting to correct – Details are often just details. Our voices don’t need to interrupt his every other word.
  5. 5. Listen to his advice – It feels automatic that guys need to wrap up the conversation with a resolution. I’ve been too quick to brush those pieces of advice off, but I’ve found that the solution my husband offers often makes sense.
  6. 6. Pay attention to tone of voice – The sweetest words can’t be heard when they’re spoken in a grumpy tone.
  7. 7. Let go of an entitled approach – When we become too familiar with each other, I’m quick to command rather than request. I need to maintain an attitude that lets him know I am grateful for who he is and what he does.
  8. 8. Remember those manners – Even in marriage, the most intimate of relationships, saying “thank you” and “please” and “excuse me” still matters.

Let’s embrace our power to build our marriages through the power of respectful words.

Embracing Authenticity,

Angie Reedy
Mom to 3 kids

I love making people laugh.

My husband’s quick to chuckle at jokes whether they’re funny or not.

So when I discovered my teasing him could get me high on laughs, I joked and poked fun every chance I got.

Most of our banter was good fun, but looking back I see where I often crossed the line from teasing to making fun. Joking is ok. Making fun and being disrespectful is not.

My husband deserves incredible respect. And I hold incredible power to tear him down or boost his confidence simply with my words. Knowing when to stop the jokes is just one of the ways I can respect my husband with words. Here are some others:

  1. 1. Be content – Dreaming about the future is one thing, listing all of the things I’d like to change is another.
  2. 2. Don’t argue –Trying to convince him that he should drive one way to the store over another isn’t essential. Let’s share our opinions, but when it doesn’t really matter, let it be ok to disagree.
  3. 3. Build up his name, even when he’s not around –I’ve found husband-bashing to be a popular activity when the men aren’t around. We all love to tell a funny story, but join me in making a decision now to only bring up the stories we’d also share with him sitting next to us.
  4. 4. Let him speak without interrupting to correct – Details are often just details. Our voices don’t need to interrupt his every other word.
  5. 5. Listen to his advice – It feels automatic that guys need to wrap up the conversation with a resolution. I’ve been too quick to brush those pieces of advice off, but I’ve found that the solution my husband offers often makes sense.
  6. 6. Pay attention to tone of voice – The sweetest words can’t be heard when they’re spoken in a grumpy tone.
  7. 7. Let go of an entitled approach – When we become too familiar with each other, I’m quick to command rather than request. I need to maintain an attitude that lets him know I am grateful for who he is and what he does.
  8. 8. Remember those manners – Even in marriage, the most intimate of relationships, saying “thank you” and “please” and “excuse me” still matters.

Let’s embrace our power to build our marriages through the power of respectful words.

Embracing Authenticity,

Angie Reedy
Mom to 3 kids

momnow“I can’t wait until she can walk.”

“I’ll be one happy mom when we don’t have to buy diapers anymore.”

“I’m so ready for him to go to school.”

“I’ll be so glad when she can drive herself to all the places she needs to be.”

 

At one time or another I’ve said every one of those statements in my 29 years of mothering. They were honest longings that I spoke when life felt a bit overwhelming.

What I didn’t realize is that they also represented my discontentment with reality and my inability to love my now. Without realizing it, I was wishing away my child’s childhood and wishing for yet another season that would bring about its struggles as well.

If I could go back and give my younger self some wisdom, here’s what I’d say:

  • “I can’t wait until she can walk.” Oh yes you can. Once she can walk, she’ll never stay where you put her. The infant years are fleeting and there’s something so precious about snuggling a little one and listening to the coos and giggles of a baby learning to find their voice.
  • “I’ll be one happy mom when we don’t have to buy diapers anymore.” Once you’re out of diapers, you will have to know where EVERY bathroom is anywhere you go. You’ll need to carry extra underwear and a plastic bag everywhere you go just in case of an accident. You might even find yourself attached to the clock, taking your newly potty-trained child to the bathroom every 30-60 minutes to prevent an accident!
  • “I’m so ready for him to go to school.” The preschool years are filled with imagination, and giggles, and pretend. There’s something very innocent about discovering the beauty of the world through a preschoolers eyes. School years bring about more schedules, the beginning of many years of homework, and educational requirements that will be part of your life for many, many years.
  • “I’ll be so glad when she can drive herself to all the places she needs to be.” When you drive your child places, it gives you uninterrupted talk time with your teen. Not only that, but when you are driving your kids and their friends places, you can be a fly on the wall and learn A LOT about what is going on in the world (both good and bad!). Once they drive themselves, you lose out on some natural talk time.

Don’t get me wrong…each season of motherhood has its unique challenges and benefits. As we learn to love our now, we increase our contentment for the season of motherhood you are in.

Embracing Authenticity,

Jill Savage
Mom to 5 kids

mompillowjournalI received the following letter from an overwhelmed mom. I hope the answer I gave her will be an encouragement to you as well.

Dear Jill,

I’m needing wisdom in dealing with my teenage daughter. I’m going through a divorce. It saddens my heart that my soon to be ex isn’t wanting to be a dad. This is causing my daughter to struggle with her depression and the choices she’s making. This is where I’m recalling a Hearts at Home conference where another mom shared her story about needing to reach her daughter.

I’m at a loss in how to handle being a single mom to such fragile teenager. Anything I say I push her further away from me or she just shut downs. My job is to protect her but I feel I’m failing at that, too. I’m trying to get her into counseling. How do other moms get through this fragile stage of teenage years without having a heart attack or stroke from the added on stress? Any words of wisdom would be appreciated.

Overwhelmed Mom

Dear Overwhelmed Mom,

I HIGHLY suggest that you make counseling a priority. I would pursue counseling for her but also family counseling for the two of you. This is really important because it will keep the communication lines open.

Also, you might start a pillow journal with your daughter. Get a journal and then write her a letter telling her how proud you are of her and how you know that this is a hard season. Tell her a few things about how it is hard for you and how God is growing you even in the midst of it. Ask her a few questions like “what’s been the hardest thing for you in this season?” or “If you had to describe your feelings, what are three words that could describe them?” Tell her to just answer when she can and put the journal on your pillow.

Then put it on her pillow when she’s at school. It may take some time for her to respond, but it’s worth a try. When I did this with my son it took him about 3 weeks for him to reply and then we started back and forth within a few days. I did it with another one of my kids and they never responded. So there’s no promises, but it’s worth a try for sure!

The best part of a pillow journal is that it keeps communication lines open without having to sit face to face or feel awkward. It’s emotionally safe for teens to write (they are used to texting!) and is a great way to bridge the sometimes challenging teen years.

Jill

Dear Jill,

I took your advice with starting a pillow journal for my daughter. Believe or not she read what I wrote her and responded back! You’ve helped me come up with a way I can communicate to my daughter in an honest, open relationship!

Can’t wait to see all of my Hearts at Home mom friends in November at the North Central Hearts at Home conference!

Overwhelmed Mom Who Now Has Hope!

Embracing Authenticity,

Jill Savage
Mom to 5 kids

momdadFather’s Day is just days away and sometimes the best gifts you can give Dad don’t cost a dime.

Karen Ehman and Glynnis Whitwer are two celebration queens in my life. They inspire me to be creative (or better yet, they equip me to be creative!) and have written the book Everyday Confetti, a year-round guide for celebrating holidays and special occasions.

 

Take time this week to pamper the men in your life and show just how much you appreciate all they do for you, and remember this is a great time to celebrate both fathers and all the paternal role models in your life. These Father’s Day ideas are excerpted from Everyday Confetti:

  1. No chore week. Declare a no-chore week leading up to or surrounding Father’s Day. Everyone else mows the lawn, takes out the trash, or changes the light bulbs. Give Dad the time off to do whatever he wants to do. He might enjoy a free day to go bowling or simply relax in a hammock with a glass of iced tea.
  2. Fill Dad’s love tank. Tell Dad why you respect and appreciate him. Write your reasons on index cards, and in everyone’s own handwriting. Then let Dad keep the cards with him to read when he need some encouragement.
  3. Watch a sporting event Dad likes. Put down books, phones, or video games and actually watch the game with him. Just making the effort to learn about what he likes will make him feel loved.
  4. Ask Dad about his work. Learn as much as you can about what he does so you can have more conversations in the coming weeks.
  5. Video love notes. Make videos for Dad on your cell phone. Keep them short, but allow each child to say a message for Dad. Create your own message, telling your husband what a great father he is. Send them as text messages the next week, spreading them out to keep the love going.
  6. I love you because…. Give a child some paper and coloring utensils and ask the questions: Why do you love Daddy? Allow the child to draw or write their answers down. Tuck them in an envelope for Dad to open as a surprise.
  7. Dad’s choice. As a family, rent and watch a movie but let Dad do the picking. And let Dad choose a snack to munch while watching.
  8. Wherever he wants to go. Take an outing to a place Dad chooses. Perhaps it is a ball game or museum. Then stop at a park for a family picnic or swing by an ice cream shop for a big scoop of Dad’s favorite.
  9. Acronym of adoration. Have the kids write out Dad’s full name across the top of a piece of poster board. Then think of a word that describes Dad for each letter of his name and list it down from the letter on the board. For example: P A U L might be “Patient. Awesome. Unstoppable. Loving.”
  10. It’s a party! Invite some other families over for a game of flag football or Frisbee. Serve subs, chips, and watermelon along with some lemonade. For dessert, set up your own county fair pie-tasting competition. Let the dads in attendance serve as judges and award the blue ribbon rosette.
  11. All about Dad. Make Dad his favorite foods all day. If he likes pizza for breakfast then let him have pizza for breakfast. This day is all about Dad, so make sure meals are his favorites.

Embracing Authenticity,

Jill Savage
Mom to 5 kids

summer2Sanity Saver #6: Give opportunities to learn something new.
Summer is a great time for kids to learn new skills like cooking, gardening, or laundry. Take the time to teach them how to do a new skill and then give them ample opportunity to practice. If you have junior high or high school age children, they can be in charge of one meal a week. Grade-schoolers can learn to do laundry and be in charge of a couple of loads a week. This gives kids ownership and a sense of pride about contributing to the family. It also teaches them lifelong skills.

 

Sanity Saver #7: Lower your expectations.
Our frustration with our kids usually happens when our expectations intersect with reality.

  • Expect messes in the summer. They will happen.
  • Expect sibling rivalry. It's a part of having more than one child.
  • Expect whining. Kids do this when they are tired.
  • Expect boredom. It's actually healthy for them to be bored because it cultivates creativity.

When you lower your expectations, you'll be far more content with reality.

Sanity Saver #8: Learn to be a "Yes!" Mom.
A couple of summers ago, I started the "Yes Mom Challenge." When I started to pay attention to how much I said no and why I said no, I discovered it usually had something to do with my selfish reasons. I didn't want to deal with a mess. I didn't want to be inconvenienced. I didn't want to have more work to do. That's not fun to admit, but it was true. My selfishness was robbing my kids of some of the joy of just being kids! Learn to be a yes mom and you'll find the summer more enjoyable for everyone!

Sanity Saver #9: Make an "I'm bored" jar.
At some point we all deal with "I'm bored." When that happens, I usually tell my kids that they can find something to do or I'll be happy to find something for them to do. It's interesting how quickly they find something to do! However, if you have younger kids, an "I'm bored" jar can also be helpful. Simply fill out slips of paper with activities they can do like these:

  • Color a picture for Grandma
  • Write a letter to Grandma (and address the envelope!)
  • Make a fort
  • Build a castle with blocks
  • Put together a puzzle
  • Do "Winter in the summer" and cut out snowflakes
  • Have a tea party
  • Write a story

If you don't want to do an "I'm bored" jar for the kids to pick a paper out, you can also keep an "I'm bored" list that puts suggestions at your fingertips.

Sanity Saver #10: Let go and enjoy.
We all want the "perfect summer" for our kids, but rather than activities and schedules making up the perfect summer, it's actually the not-scheduled spontaneous activities that make memories: running in the sprinkler, having picnics on the porch, laying on the ground and looking for shapes in the clouds, catching fireflies after dark. Sure, have some plans in place, but let spontaneity lead the way.

  • Prioritize relationships over tasks.
  • Be creative and make some messes.
  • Lecture less and laugh more.

These are the elements that make up a beautiful summer.

Embracing Authenticity,

Jill Savage
Mom to 5 kids

 

summerSanity Saver #1: Take care of yourself.
What will you be doing to keep your emotional fuel tank refueled? What activities refresh you? Proactively plan those into your daily/weekly schedule. Don't wait until your tank is empty...fill up regularly!

If you are at home, your kids are with you 24/7. Create a moms night out once a week with a friend, or trade "days off" with another mom whose kids are close in age to your kids. If you are working full-time, it takes a lot more effort in the summer to make sure the kids are busy and where they need to be. Make sure you are taking care of yourself in order to really be able to take care of your family.

Sanity Saver #2: Create a routine.
It's hard to go from the tight routine of school to very little routine in the summer. While it's important to not schedule every minute, a loose routine can give structure to summer days. Maybe Monday is swimming day, Tuesday library day, Wednesday friend day, Thursday house and laundry day, and Friday free day. A schedule can guide planning and give some sense of security to our kids. It also answers the most asked questions, "Can we go to the pool?" "Can I have a friend over?" "When can we go to the library?" Those don't have to be the ONLY days you do those activities, but those are the days the kids can count on.

Sanity Saver #3: Set boundaries.
Kids are more likely to stay within boundaries if they actually know what those boundaries are. How much television is ok? How long on video games? We've found the kitchen timer to be helpful with video games or TV with our 1 hour on/1 hour off boundary. The boys set the timer before they get on the game. (If I find them playing video games without a timer set, they lose video games for the rest of the day.)

Sanity Saver #4: Rest every day.
If you are a stay-at-home mom, this is really important...for you...and for your kids! Even if your kids are no longer taking naps, a rest time is really important to give them time to play apart from their siblings and kids in the neighborhood. This is when my older kids have learned the joy of reading or building with Legos. We usually set the timer for 1 hour. When the timer went off, they knew rest time is over.

Sanity Saver #5: Make summer drinks easy.
When the kids are playing hard in the summer, they are always thirsty. I discovered one summer that a cooler full of ice water that I set out on the deck was such a time and mess-saver! Each morning, I filled a 5 gallon water cooler with ice and water. I put a tray next to the cooler with cups labeled with their names (including the kids in the neighborhood!). When they wanted a drink, they were able to get it themselves without a mess in the kitchen. I'd use the tray as a place to put fruit snacks, granola bars, or cookies for a morning and afternoon snacks. It allowed them some self-serve independence!

Embracing Authenticity,

Jill Savage
Mom to 5 kids

 

child afraidToday's post is from a mom who attended my No More Perfect Kids workshop at a Hearts at Home conference. There's no better gift to an author or speaker than a letter from someone who has applied what you've taught and it's made a difference!

 

 

In the workshop (and in the book), I shared 6 Dangers of Perfection Infection Parenting. One of those dangers hit home for her.

I asked her if I could share her letter with you and she agreed. I know she's not alone in this and maybe another parent might see himself or herself in her story.

 



Dear Jill,

 

I have to share something that happened tonight with my 9 yr old. We have been having trouble with him lying to us. Before I go further, let me just tell you that I'm a yeller.

Anyway, tonight, I caught him lying again. I asked him (not yelling, very calm and quietly) why he lied. He didn't answer. I grounded him from all electronics, TV included, for the next day. Then I told him to go to bed.

I went downstairs and told my husband what happened. He proceeded to tell me that Nathaniel is afraid of me, and that he doesn't tell me things because he is afraid of how I will react.

This instantly made me go back to your No More Perfect Kids seminar from this weekend at the Hearts at Home conference. Danger #4: Children [of perfectionist parents] will relate to parents from a perspective of fear. My baby is afraid of me. That hurts my heart.

I went upstairs and took him to my bedroom and we had a talk. He admitted that he is indeed afraid of me. We both cried. I told him I was sorry and asked his forgiveness. My baby, who was sitting next to me, crawled into my lap and clung to me as we cried some more. He also said he was sorry, and for the first time it wasn't a forced apology or one that you have to hint for. He offered it freely.

I told him I was going to work really hard at not yelling so much, and I told him that if I started to scare him, to just say, "Mommy, are you working hard?" Just a phrase to remind me of what I promised to work hard to not do. After a short prayer, we both wiped our tears away, and he headed off to bed.

Thank you so much for your ministry. It has truly blessed me this weekend.


 

I told this mom that I was really glad she wasn't defensive when her husband told her what he did. She said, "I must admit that my first reaction was to be defensive, but I kept it to myself, and listened to what he had to say."

We can not only learn from her story, but also from her response to her husband. We need to throw defensiveness out the window because it doesn't serve us well as parents or partners!

Embracing Authenticity,

Jill Savage
Mom to 5 kids

 

letter to my first bornTo my almost-ready-to-graduate first-born. These are the thoughts on my heart in this season of letting go:

You've been independent from the beginning. You're positive, bright, and compassionate. You've developed a wonderful servant's heart, and I'm glad we share a passion for music. You're respectful, responsible, and dependable. I'm blessed to be your mom.

I wish so much for you. I long for you to see that the only thing you need to be the best at is being yourself. You are enough—you don't need to try to impress anyone. Relax and let people see and appreciate the real you. Give yourself a chance.

Prepare. Be careful of your confidence.

 

Listen when people mention your potential. Be sure to remember potential is a goal to strive for, not something already obtained.

Be humble. Avoid being a name-dropper. It's okay to enjoy knowing what you know but don't try to impress people with it.

Help others to feel good about themselves.

Use your time wisely. Plan ahead. Don't procrastinate!

Learn from your mistakes. Admit them, grow from them, try not to repeat them, and let them go.

Keep your integrity. People know they can trust you, and you can feel good about yourself.

Expect imperfection.

Offer the benefit of the doubt.

Forgive yourself. You're not perfect. Neither is anyone else. Forgive them, too.

Keep the Bible first on your long list of favorite books.

Laugh.

Take care of your body so it'll last you a long time—eat healthy foods, exercise, make wise choices.

Guard your heart. Choose friends who have integrity and who care about you. Be careful around those who don't.

Love.

Respect yourself and others, and offer grace to both.

Have faith in God. He won't let you down.

Remember everyone needs help sometimes. The wise person asks for help when she needs it. Be wise.

Listen.

Take responsibility for your decisions, actions, and belongings.

Depend on God. He's always there for you. When you want to know who to be or what to do, ask God.

Think things out and consider different options before making decisions.

Pray.

Put responsibility before having fun.

Know that you're loved—by your father, me, and God-- no matter what.

Enjoy your memories, but don't cling to what you did yesterday. All your experiences before this moment are part of who you are today. Let them help you become even more tomorrow.

Embracing Authenticity,

Patty Maier
Mom to 3 kids

 

anniversariesAnniversaries are a good time to reflect, celebrate, and refocus.

I remember the beginning with my husband. We had similar values and faith, and we enjoyed being together. He says he was attracted to me because I was funny. After 4 ½ years of dating, we vowed to love and respect each other 'til death do us part.

23 years later, we're still working on those vows while trying to keep from being distracted by work, parenting, busyness, to do lists, other people, life.

It's good to take time to refocus and adjust our priorities. God and commitment are at the top of my priority list, but there are three things from our beginning that I need to be more intentional about.

--Respect. I need to choose to respect my spouse, our marriage, and myself more. I might not always feel like it but marrying someone is committing to love and respect him. Love is a decision, a choice. Same with respect. Love and respect are to be actions, not reactions. Choosing to follow my feelings can get me in trouble at times. I'm not perfect, and I shouldn't expect my spouse or our marriage to be either.

--Humor. Sometimes you just gotta laugh—at yourself, your situation, at life. Humor humbles us, helps us keep things in perspective, and encourages a positive attitude.

--Friendship. I need to treat my spouse like my best friend. Enjoy him. Forgive him. Spend time with him. Pray for him. Have his best interest at heart. Offer him the benefit of the doubt and look for the good in him. Compliment and encourage him. Keep my defensives at bay and strive to see his intentions. Be his friend.

My grandmother told me it's not the big things that tend to pull a marriage apart, it's the little things. In my marriage, going through big struggles together have drawn us closer. The little everyday annoyances not so much. But I've learned that prayer helps. When I take my frustrations to God, my husband and situation don't always change, but my heart does. And in time, the things that need to change tend to, and the things that don't, don't. And I figure out which is which, what I need to change, and how I need to help the situation.

Marriage is fragile. Handle with God, respect, humor, friendship, and lots of grace.

Embracing Authenticity,

Patty Maier
Mom to 3 kids

day in the lifeMy friend and admin assistant, Mel, was supposed to be in a Hearts at Home meeting with me and a couple of other leaders recently. The evening before the meeting, I received the following email:

I was literally talking with Doug about my meetings tomorrow when our son walked out of his room covered in throw-up. In my 10 second assessment of him I wondered how it all ended up ON him....and then I entered his room. I will not go into details but I will say that today was regular laundry day and I did 5 loads. I think I have about 7 more to do now (I always thought those big drawers under the bed were a great idea. I have changed my philosophy on those now.)

 

I am pretty sure if we measured the force that helped to erupt this mess, it could have launched the space shuttle. (But I think the shuttle would have left my carpet cleaner. And I am convinced that whoever went around our community installing off-white carpet everywhere is in league with Satan himself!)

But the silver lining is that luckily he was not up on the top bunk in his brother's room where he has been the last 2 nights or that he didn't do this while we were on the trampoline or swinging double together many times earlier today. (However that would have been less laundry.....)

So needless to say, I will not be in tomorrow and if any of you have a carpet cleaner I can borrow let me know. (And pray that is doesn't spread. That would be a fabulous way to start spring break....)

Mel's got a great sense of humor and the ability to tell a story and make you laugh. I asked her if I could share her story on the blog and she agreed.

Why would I share it?

First, to bring a smile to your face...you just have to laugh about those things and she tells it in a way to make you do that. Most of us have been in Mel's shoes at one time or another.

And second, because if you're having one of those days, you need to know you're not alone.

Sometimes that's all we need to know.

Embracing Authenticity,

Jill Savage
Mom to 5 kids

 

 

Apr28 2015We sat in silence for what seemed like twenty minutes, but might have been twenty seconds. Waiting for her to make a choice, I closed my eyes willing my hands to not grab the shirt I wanted her to wear and force it onto her body. We waited some more. I reminded her that she needed to make a decision so we could get everyone to school on time. But she still sat without making any movements towards choosing her outfit. I forced my voice to be calm and declared that I would leave the room after counting to three if she had not picked something. Of course this prompted tears and cries and the control on my patience evaporated. I stood up, made more threats and walked out of the room. She climbed back into bed and I knew all of those moments in silence were wasted and we would have to start the whole process again.

Please say someone else has experienced the same?

I often receive compliments about my patience and every time I stifle a snort and suck in my breath because I know that despite the calm outside my inner nerves are burning and ready to snap. Any patience I exhibit has simply been learned the hard way – through much trial and error.

Here are some tips I’ve learned that have helped my patience level rise.

Give yourself time –The biggest factor causing my impatience is an urgency to get something done in a time frame. Identify situations that might cause conflicts and plan extra time to get through them.

Don’t be afraid of silence – Yelling or having an uptight voice alerts kids that you are on edge. This usually creates the opposite effect of what you want to accomplish and escalates the situation.

Look for patterns and problem solve – Figure out the triggers that launch your impatience. Once they are identified, brainstorm a way to avoid these patience suckers.

Embrace the silent scream – If you haven’t tried it, you will think I’m crazy, but sometimes simply turning my face and forcing out a silent scream with eyes closed and mouth wide open helps me decompress back into calm and patient mom.

Above all, don’t make the situation more serious than what it is. Acknowledge that losing patience is going to happen to the best parents. Smile, ask for forgiveness and make a point to try having more patience the next time.

Embracing Authenticity,

Angie Reedy
Mom to 3 kids

Apr21 2015There are no perfect bodies. But I once thought there were. And I knew I didn’t have one.

Fat Pat was one of my nicknames growing up. I didn’t look like the women in the magazines on our coffee table. I was ashamed of my body.

My dad was very athletic in his teen and young adult years. When he gave up sports, he didn’t take care of himself and started putting on weight. He ended up becoming obese with multiple health problems.

Much of the emphasis in my childhood home was on weight and how people look. I wasn’t what my family wanted me to be, and I entered adulthood with no self-esteem and a negative body image.

But I’ve realized a few things since then.

Acceptance. We don’t get to choose the body we’re born with, not our imperfections or body type. Heredity and genetics are what they are, and we’re each made uniquely. It doesn’t make sense to compare ourselves with anyone else or waste time and emotion on what we wish we were.

Hygiene. Being clean and doing simple things like combing our hair or adding a little makeup can make us look and feel better.

Health. We can choose to take care of our bodies or not, no matter what infirmities we face. Diet, exercise, habits, sleep, attitude--it’s up to each of us to do what we can to be healthy.

Dress. Wearing the right clothes can help. Clothes that fit and flatter our body types and colors that accentuate our natural beauty make a big difference in the way we look and feel.

Friends. It’s important to be around positive people who encourage us.

Laughter. It does the body good.

Age. We like growing in wisdom, but facing the physical changes with aging, not so much. Things start to shift and not work the way they used to. But it’s part of life, and we all must face it.

I’ve learned a lot since I left home 30-plus years ago. Now it’s my turn to influence my teenagers. They don’t have much in common physically, but they’re all beautiful. And I long for them to know that what’s important is what’s in their hearts.

I’m still not too excited about my body. But my husband tells me I’m beautiful. And I know in his eyes I am. Because he loves me. And that’s what matters.

Embracing Authenticity,

Patty Maier
Mom to 3 kids

Apr14 2015I have a dare for you.

I’m not going to ask you to eat bird brains or attempt to stay outside in frigid temperatures, but what I’m daring might be harder than any physical challenge.

 

Forgive yourself.

Yes, you read correctly, stop beating yourself up for the wrongs you’ve done. Forgive yourself for the rude words you’ve spoken, the priorities you’ve put in front of your family, the way you betrayed a friend, denied responsibility, or maybe even that secret romance you’ve rekindled on Facebook.

Forgive in a way that doesn’t ignore, shove it under the rug, or deny. Those types of forgiveness would be simpler. This kind of forgiveness looks at your wrong head on, examines it, and allows you to still love yourself after you’ve completed the process.

This honesty is the first step toward forgiving ourselves according to Lewis B. Smedes in his book Forgive & Forget.

After looking at the wrong, examining it, and admitting it as our own, the second step is a clear head. Take time to think through the process of forgiving. Be intentional about the process and realize the difference between self esteem and self forgiveness. Esteem looks at and possibly makes excuses because of the good person we are. Forgiveness realizes and possesses our faults.

Maybe the hardest part of forgiving ourselves is having the courage to do so. Onlookers might mistake our forgiveness for indifference and for that we may be judged. Take courage. Refuse the self-righteous onlooker who believes you need more judgment and desires you to wallow longer in their inflicted consequences. It is your wrong and you have freedom to forgive yourself and move away from it.

When you forgive, be concrete. In general I may feel like a bad person or as if I have treated my children wrongly. But forgiveness needs to name a specific wrong and work to let it go. Consider an exact situation that needs to be confessed, acknowledged, and forgiven.

And finally confirm your act of forgiveness with a demonstration of love. With the guilt gone, we are free to return to love, to relationships without tensions and fear. Do something to demonstrate this freedom. Write a letter, make a visit, give a gift. Be bold.

Act in forgiveness and believe in your right to live minus the self-hatred.

Embracing Authenticity,

Angie Reedy
Mom to 3 kids

Apr7 2015Your heart pounds faster. Fists clench and you feel sweaty palms. Breathing quickens. Impulses threaten to take over and you have a choice to explode in anger or implement self-control. Even though you recognize these signs of anger, the choice to manage responses well doesn’t always come easy.

These same physical reactions and the accompanying choices occur in children. But they are less likely to understand why they feel the way they do and don’t have a clue how to return themselves to normalcy.

 

Being misunderstood, not getting to do things they want, and feeling disrespected by peers are several points of frustration young children face daily. Yet they rarely have been equipped with proper anger management techniques to prompt a correct response.

Because anger, and its close relative frustration, appear so frequently in young children, it may be helpful to provide them with coping strategies to try the next time the steam begins to rise. Steps towards anger management might include:

  1. Recognizing anger triggers –Not only can we prep them on what events to expect during a day, but we can also walk through potential problem areas to be on guard against.
  2. Identify anger – Once children have a label and words to describe the physical and emotional feelings of anger, understanding when to manage their feelings may come easier.
  3. Stop – If possible, children can keep anger from getting out of control by leaving the stressful situation or separating from the person who the conflict is with.
  4. Calm Down – Returning physically to a normal state will allow children to respond in a mature way. This could include deep breaths, drinking a glass of water, playing alone for a while, or distracting themselves through another activity.
  5. Think about actions – After calm has returned, children might want to take actions like talking to an adult or finding another way to become understood. It’s important to understand aggression will not produce a desired outcome.
  6. Implement constructive solution – This step of resolution might come in the form of an apology or agreeing to a compromise.

Empowering young children with these steps for managing anger gives them an outlet for emotions they may not know how to handle. And of course these methods aren’t just for kids. Seeing appropriate responses to anger from role models in their lives could be the most effective tool in the box.

.Embracing Authenticity,

Angie Reedy
Mom to 3 kids

Mar31I did it from day one.

The day I delivered Anne, I found myself sharing a hospital room with another new mom.

I compared my baby to her baby. I compared my body to her body. I compared my nursing experience to her nursing experience. I came out better or worse than her on every account I took into consideration.

If I had to go back and tell my young self one message, it would be this:

KNOCK IT OFF!

Resist the urge to compare. Stop judging. Stop trying to figure out if you're doing better than or worse than another mom.

Be your best self. Let other moms be their best selves. Give space for your mom friends to do things differently than you do. Be okay with choices that are different than your choices. Don't waste one minute of your time and energy trying to determine if you measure up to society's ever-changing standards.

Stand firm on who you are in Christ. Seek God's direction for your life. Do what's best for your family and allow others to do what's best for their family.

Smile a lot. Laugh even more. Embrace and celebrate the real you!

That's 28 years of wisdom wrapped up in 118 words. May those 118 words bring you hope, perspective, and the encouragement you need today.

Embracing Authenticity,

Jill Savage
Mom to 5 kids