• Up to the Mountain, Journey with Jesus


    I love to think of our faith journey as a personal pilgrimage we each take with Jesus. In the Gospel reading back on Sunday January 29th, we journeyed with Jesus up to the top of the ‘Mount of Beatitudes.’ And there we stayed, over the next four weekends, listening to Him instruct us on, as Matthew Kelly might say, becoming the best version of ourselves. We heard the attitudes-to-Be (or the Beatitudes), we heard His call for us to be salt and light to the world, to love our enemies, pray for our persecutors, and so on.

    Now we move with Jesus towards another mountain – Calvary. Throughout these 40 days of Lent, we make our way across the valley and begin the climb once again. This 40-day journey is likely to be arduous, requiring us to think carefully about the baggage we bring along. How about we set down our bags, open them up, and have a look inside? What have I been carrying around with me? What have I stuffed way back into the corner of that bag? What specifically is Jesus calling me to empty myself of and leave at the trailhead?

    Self-Criticism? Negativity? Anxiety?
    Anger? Pride? Lust? Envy?

    Give it to Him! We’ll walk lighter; not just for 40 days, but, potentially, forever. When we make it to the garden on Easter Sunday, there will be no tour guide waiting at the gate, handing back our stuff! “Here you go Miss, here’s your negative thinking back. And you Ma’am, don’t forget to pick up your anger on the way out.”

    How does one simply set down that habit or thought pattern that we’ve lugged around for years? Is it possible that I might actually live without self-criticism, negativity, anxiety, anger, or envy?? I believe the answer is Yes – in a continual ever-deepening relationship with Jesus. Below, are 3 steps that have us lean into Jesus to free ourselves of the ‘stuff’ He is calling us to release. These steps are based on the work of Neal Lozano and Unbound, Five Keys to Freedom in Christ (www.heartofthefather.com)

    Step 1 – Repentance. Jesus’ first word in the gospel of Mark is “Repent.” Repentance is the expression of sorrow and acknowledging our participation in sin.
    Step 2 – Forgiveness. Journeying with Jesus requires a willingness to forgive from the heart. Often, the person we find hardest to forgive is ourselves.
    Step 3 – Renunciation. Each Easter, we renew the vows of our baptism, beginning with, “I renounce Satan and all his works and all his empty promises.” Renunciation is a declaration that I will no longer make a home for sin or the deceptions and power behind it.

    Here’s how I’ve used these steps to help me unload self-criticism from my bags.

    Repentance:

    • Jesus, I’m sorry for speaking unkindly to myself.
    • Jesus, I’m sorry for placing so much pressure on myself and not placing my trust in you.
    • Jesus, I’m sorry for not accepting myself.

    Forgiveness:

    • In the name of Jesus, I forgive myself for putting pressure on me to be perfect.
    • In the name of Jesus, I forgive myself for comparing my accomplishments to others’ accomplishments.

    Renunciation:

    • In the name of Jesus, I renounce the lie that I am not worthy.
    • In the name of Jesus, I renounce a spirit of self-criticism.
    • In the name of Jesus, I renounce negativity towards myself.

    Now that our bags have so much space in them, how about we fill them up with intention? What would be helpful to carry with you as you journey? I’m claiming self-acceptance, peace, and deep trust in the Lord.

    What will you claim for this next leg of your pilgrimage?

    Copyright 2017 De Yarrison

  • Brave Journey, a Reflection on 2016

    In 2016, I had the privilege of being in coaching relationship with one brave soul after another. Together, we experienced the incredible freedom that comes only in the tailwind of a great act of personal courage. Similar to the aerial dancer who flies from one tethered safety line to the next, these acts of courage often contain a breathtaking “no hands!” moment.

    Photo by Sonia Cirse. Edited by De Yarrison.

    Growing forward always involves that confronting moment when we know we can no longer hold onto what’s been. We must let go of “the way it is,” leave our comfort zone, and take an untethered step out in the direction of what will be now. The vulnerability of that moment gives life to strength and courage that we may not have known we possess. How exhilarating!

    I am grateful and blessed to have supported women journeying into and through that bold moment this past year! I’ve summarized below accounts describing some of the terrain we’ve crossed together and the essential shifts that resulted. I hope you will be as inspired as I am to get a glimpse of what’s possible!

    We bravely faced our fears of failure and admitted our over-controlling behaviors.
    Situation: A client was stuck in unproductive thought patterns and behavior patterns towards co-workers and family members.
    Shift: recognizing and releasing self-judgments and unrealistic self-expectations. Learning to relate with compassion and acceptance towards oneself, which naturally led to relating more compassionately towards others. This has fostered more positivity, trust, and openness in relationships (both at work and at home).

    We bravely faced self-imposed conditions and limits on one’s worthiness, i.e.: “I’m not valuable unless…” “If I don’t do _____, then _____ will happen.”
    Situation: A client and business owner was overwhelmed with busyness and exhaustion, which was taking a toll in important relationships.
    Shift: Recognizing the fears that were driving behavior (fear of disapproval, of not getting things done, of failing). Shifting the inner conversation from one that placed conditions on self-worth, to one that is self-supportive and self-accepting. This is leading to the ability to honor one’s own needs and take better care of oneself physically and emotionally.

    We bravely faced the uncomfortable truth that how we are regarding ourselves and our performance is not the way others’ may perceive us.
    Situation: a leader was unknowingly perceived by peers as territorial, defensive, and lacking confidence.
    Shift: Took responsibility to be intentional about one’s presence and one’s impact on others. Began asking the question: how do I want to BE in this meeting / conversation / relationship? And then self-managed thoughts, words and actions to make that so.

    We bravely faced the incredible dichotomy of letting go of control in order to experience peace-of-mind.
    Situation: a client was faced with life-changing circumstances that were neither desirable nor within her control.
    Shift: Discovered deep inner strength, enabling a rich journey through frustration, fear, anger, and sadness into acceptance and hope in new possibilities.

    Wow, huh!? Do you see yourself in any of the situations described above? There are typically common themes surrounding our individual stories.

    Onward! 2017 with Intention

    At the end of every day, we have a story to tell. We write that story moment-to-moment, through every decision made, each word uttered into our relationships, and how we choose to see or regard the people in our lives. In the situations above, change happened because individuals were ready to honestly look at the current story they were existing within. And upon realization that the story was not one they wished to continue, they tore off a fresh sheet of paper and began drafting the next chapter by reflecting on questions such as these:

    What comfort zone am I hanging out in that is no longer serving me?
    What unhelpful or unproductive thoughts am I giving my mental energy to?
    What have I been tolerating that it is time to say no to?
    What positive qualities am I ready to own and to express freely?
    What must this next chapter of my story include? What are my non-negotiables? (i.e.: higher priority on my physical health, more authenticity or speaking what is true for me, invest more of myself into my relationships, practices that enhance my peace-of-mind, etc.)
    When I look back on my life in 3-months, 6-months, etc. what do I want to see? How do I want to feel?

    How about you? What are you ready to invite more of in your life this year? What is the untethered step awaiting you? I would be honored to support you as you ready yourself for that bold moment! Here’s to a courageous 2017 together!

    With love,
    De

    Click here to find out more about coaching with De.

  • Here I Am

    I recently read the quote below by St. John Paul II:

    “In your heart and on your lips God places three little words that are so important in the Bible: ‘Here I am.’ They were spoken by the Son of God when he came into the world and his whole life was a constant prompt response of ‘here I am” to his heavenly Father. ‘Here I am’ was the Virgin Mary’s response to the Angel of the Annunciation when she humbly accepted the mission to be Mother of Jesus and, hence, Mother of the Church. And ‘here I am’ must be our response too.” – St. John Paul II

    When I read that, I knew how I wanted to conclude my Advent: by making “Here I Am” my daily prayer and intention. Here I am, Lord. Trusting only You. Surrendering my plans in service of the Divine Will.

    With Christmas only days away, my “Here I Am” might look like:

    • Letting Jesus be born anew in my heart.
    • Praying for an open heart and an open mind to the Lord and His desires each day.
    • Praying that I will be open to His answers to my prayers and accept whatever He gives me. That means accepting the “feel-good” blessings as well as those blessings that come disguised as trials.
    • Expecting ‘new life’ from God: growth, new opportunities, new challenges, new joys.
    • Extending His mercy outward, especially to those in greatest need of experiencing Christ’s love and peace.

    At this moment in our world arena, so many members of our human family are living in unimaginable, horrid circumstances. I am thinking especially of the children in war torn, bomb-barded areas of Syria. The photos below break my heart and leave me grieving that I cannot scoop each precious child up in my arms and wipe the dirt and tears from their little faces. But I know that Jesus can. And His Blessed Mother, Mary.

    Please join me in praying for these children and all our far-away brothers and sisters whose Christmas will not be filled with feasts and gift-giving and joyful gatherings this year.

    When I wholeheartedly offer my “here I am,” I am pulled into the miracle of that first Christmas. The events of the first Christmas didn’t happen just once, a long time ago. They happen again and again, each time we allow the truth of the incredible Incarnation to change our hearts a little more.

    I wish you and your family a very blessed Christmas.

    With love,
    De

  • Busy and Holy – can the two co-exist peacefully?

    Last Thursday evening, I had the privilege of speaking at an “Advent by Candlelight” event at a lovely Catholic church in Mount Holly, NJ. Below is an excerpt from my talk along with a download to help us all hold onto the ‘holy’ in the midst of our ‘busy!’

    Have you ever sat down and considered how incredible The Incarnation really is? That awe-striking moment when, because He loves us so much and desires to be as close to us as He can, God made the unlikely decision to become one of us. To meet us right where we are and join us in the messiness of our humanity. God’s holy Presence, dwelling within and among us.

    Ahhhhh, let’s rest here for a moment. Presence ourselves in His Presence. And while we are resting here, let’s take a moment to think about and plan for how we will remain in His presence throughout this Christmas Season. Thankfully we have this time called Advent, when we get to slow down and prepare our hearts for the celebration of our Savior’s birth.

    Yup, so between now and Dec 25th we all just slow down, right?? Ummm, not in my house! Yours? Is your December calendar as crazy as mine?!

    These weeks leading up to Christmas are busy! Yet, all the busy-ness makes them no less holy. Busy and holy, can the two co-exist? Let’s talk about that. Actually, let’s not talk about the busy. We’ve got that part down, right? There is certainly plenty to DO.

    Let’s talk about the holy: Preparing for the arrival of Jesus. Welcoming our Savior into our homes and our hearts. This is the most important to-do on any of our lists, yes? And the particulars around this to-do – welcoming our Jesus – read more like a to-BE list than a to-DO list. How am I BE-ing in the midst of the DO-ing?

    You see, we can DO any of the tasks on our list in such a way that we will BE squarely in the presence of Jesus – or not! I can run my errands while mentally reviewing the list, worrying that I forgot something at the last stop, focusing on the time because I haven’t got enough of it. OR…I take a deep breath and say one of my favorite prayers: “Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything.” And then I put on a rosary podcast or a Christmas CD and allow myself to BE in God’s presence. And the doing gets done.

    I can clean my kitchen and bake the cookies while feeling anxious about all there is to do. Which usually morphs into silent judgment and complaints about my kids and husband not helping me enough and how I have to do everything myself (tell me I’m not the only one who does this please). OR…I take a deep breath, “Jesus I surrender myself to you, take care of everything.” I BE in God’s presence. And the doing gets done.

    We’ll Find What We’re Looking For
    Take a look around the room and find all the red that you can in the next 5 seconds. Count everything red that you see. Ready, Here we Go.

    5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1.

    OK, so how many brown objects did you see? What?! Probably none, because you weren’t looking for brown! Take a look around again. Does that mean that there is no brown in the room? Of course not. Well, what does it mean?

    It seems that we will find whatever it is we are looking for. If I’m looking for red, I’ll find red. If I’m looking for all that needs to get purchased, and wrapped, and cleaned, and baked… I will find them. I’ll find them and so long as I keep my focus there, they consume my mental and emotional energy.

    Likewise, when I look for beauty, I find beauty. When I look for generosity, I find generosity. When I place my mental energy on all that I am thankful for, I find blessing upon blessing. And gratitude. When I go about my DO-ing without intention on my BE-ing or my mental focus, it doesn’t mean that beauty, generosity, blessing, and gratitude are not there, it just means that I am more likely to miss them!

    What is it that you will look for this Advent?
    What is it you don’t want to miss?

    Joy? Peace? Gratitude? Love? Connection? Grace? Write them down. Make yourself a to-BE list. Then, close your eyes, put a hand over your heart, take a long deep breath, and Be. Be in His presence. Be with Grace, with Peace, with Love. Know that God is right here, waiting to be invited into your plans, your day, your busy.

    “Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28

    Our Jesus does not want to be reserved only for moments of prayer before meals, or when I lay in bed at night, or sit in the pew on Sunday. He wants all in! Each day for the remainder of Advent, sit down next to Mary, even if you only have a moment. Gaze with her, on the baby Jesus. Gaze on the face of God. See His love for you. Come back to the holy. Come back, and rest in His Presence.

    Advent Breath Prayer Cards
    I made a set of six Advent breath prayer cards, which you can download by clicking on the image below. Print out the sheet, cut them apart and place around your home, car, office, or anywhere that you will run into them throughout your day. Each image contains a simple prayer to help you return to Jesus and to peace. Say the first part of the prayer (the words before the three dots) while breathing in, and the second part of the prayer while breathing out. Breathe in holy, breathe out busy.

    With love,
    De

    advent-cards-sheet

  • The You in Me, A Look at Projection

    everything that irritates

    I originally published this post on my leadership blog (www.essentialshiftnow.com), and wanted to share it with you also. Motherhood, in my opinion, is the most important leadership position we could ever hold! Read on…

    To be a truly exceptional leader necessitates that I become vigilantly aware of myself in the moment. In the moment when I am facilitating a team meeting to figure out how to get a project back on track. In the moment when a co-worker enters my office for our weekly 1-on-1 conversation. In the moment of quiet reflection during an annual offsite.

    In the video below, I overview a common, often unconscious, phenomenon occurring during these ordinary leadership moments, called projection. Projection raises my awareness to a certain behavior or quality, typically through a negative experience of this quality in someone else. Rather than simply being annoyed or frustrated by this negative experience, projection invites me to consider a deeper purpose. The quality or behavior that has captured my attention mirrors a part of me that is ready to step into the light and be seen clearly. Our projections, if we’re willing to acknowledge them as such, provide a pathway for our continuous growth and evolution.

    Any given moment of my day has the power to become transformational as I courageously and honestly look:

    • at my silent opinions of others
    • at my judgments and criticisms of myself
    • at my assumptions
    • at the meaning I am attaching to a situation or circumstance

    Watch the video below to learn more. Use the questions that follow to help you look courageously and honestly at the growth opportunities projection may be inviting you into today.

    The Invitation: Owning Our Projections

    1. Call to mind the meetings, conversations, interactions you’ve been a part of today. Recall any person who may have caught your attention, whether positively or negatively.
    2. What were your thoughts or feelings about this person? Write these down.
    3. Take a look at what you’ve written. Could any or all of these thoughts and feelings be projections? Keep this list with you and commit to noticing yourself – becoming an observer of yourself in your daily interactions. Always asking, what was I thinking about him/her during that encounter?
    4. Remembering the purpose of projection is to call our attention to a part of ourselves which is ready to be seen more clearly, spend a few quiet minutes each day wondering what within you is wanting some attention.
      • Is it time for you to own a positive attribute that you’ve been denying in yourself (like in my example, my ability to keep myself calm and focused during difficult interactions)?
      • Is it time to own up to an undesirable attribute and take greater responsibility for your thoughts or behaviors?

    Doing the honest work of taking back our projections can feel uncomfortable or unfamiliar. We’re entering uncharted territory! Precisely where we need to be if growth and transformation are what we desire. But you don’t have to go in alone. Want a trusted partner for your journey? I’ve got my galoshes on and we can muck through it together! Give me a call.

  • Mothering Prayer Circle

    One of the things I love most about being a coach is the opportunity I am given to connect with other women in a very meaningful and authentic way. There is a special sisterhood among us women. While we are each undoubtedly unique, we are each strikingly similar. A few things I’ve learned with certainty over the years are:

    • Our individual journeys share common themes that we can each relate to.
    • We each have something to give and to share with one another.
    • We each have something to learn or gain from one another.
    • We cannot possibly do this immense work of mothering alone! We need God. We need each other.

    I “received a call” the other day. I put that in quotations because it was not a literal call on my phone, but rather a very clear ringing in my heart. And as I listened in, I heard the reminder that we are never alone, even though at times we may feel certain that we are. It is so important that we stay connected in community with one another. I became filled with the knowing that now, more than ever, it is time for us mothers to gather together, to pray with and for one another. To give thanks to God in community and to petition Him together for each of our families’ needs. As I prayed about how best to gather, here’s what I came up with:

    mothering-prayer-circle-logo

    Mothering Prayer Circle Logistics

    • We’ll meet via telephone conference line every Wednesday evening at 8pm (EST) beginning on Wednesday October 26, 2016.
    • Our calls will last for 30-40 minutes.
    • We’ll follow a general format which will include an opening prayer, prayers of thanksgiving, sharing our prayer intentions or petitions, and a closing prayer.
    • The phone number for our prayer circle is: (701) 801-1220.
    • Once connected, you’ll be prompted to enter your access code, which is: 190-069-041.

    I don’t know about you, but come mid-week, my mothering battery could use a recharge. What a perfect way to recharge and revitalize ourselves on a Wednesday evening! You decide whether to listen along in silence, or take a more active role. Come every week or once in a while. There is no commitment and no formality here. Simply an opportunity to connect with your sisters and with God.

    I hope you will be a part of our Mothering Prayer Circle! Please share the badge below within your own family, on your Facebook page, your blog, with your church, etc. My conference line can hold up to 1,000 moms; let’s max it out!! I look forward to praying with you next Wednesday.

    mothering-prayer-circle-logo

    Praying together every Wednesday at 8pm EST.

    With love,
    De

  • Transformed by Christ, a book review

    a Book Review of Who Does He Say You Are by Colleen Mitchell

    Jesus, Love Himself, desires me! He desperately wants to draw near to me, to heal me of my old wounds and remind me who I really am. And He desires this for you too.

    That is the powerful, truthful message in Colleen Mitchell’s new book, Who Does He Say You Are. Colleen tells the stories of twelve women who personally encountered Jesus in the gospels. And through their encounter, were never to be the same.

    Some of these women, such as Jesus’ mother Mary, may be familiar to us. But most of the women Colleen writes about, receive only a sentence or two of attention in the entire gospel. The hemorrhaging woman, the woman crippled by a demon, Anna the prophetess, and Mary the wife of Clopas, are a few examples. Colleen beautifully expounds on the scripture stories. She fills in vivid and realistic details that make perfect sense and weave meaningful and relevant connections to our own modern day existence as women.

    Take Chapter four, for instance. Colleen recounts the story of the woman from Samaria who encounters Jesus at the well (John 4:5-26). This is the woman who had five husbands. She came to the well at high noon, instead of during the busy and lively morning time, likely to avoid unwanted attention and to bear her shame alone. She did not expect to see a Jewish man there, and certainly did not expect him to initiate a conversation with her! Listen to what Colleen has to say to you and me based on this women’s encounter with Jesus:

    “He stands right here in front of you with the same knowing insistence. He longs for your healing, your freedom, but He will not give you only half of what you need. He will not treat just the thirsty symptoms of your sin and leave you to walk in shame. He has fixed His gaze on your heart and he sees the deeper parts of you that need Him. Tell Him the truth, the whole truth. Let Him see all of you, even the parts that have not seen the light for so long, the parts that you shroud and shelter in secret. He thirsts for you like you thirst for Him. There is freedom waiting for you. You do not have to come to this place again. But he can’t heal what you won’t let him touch.”

    I don’t know about you, but that pretty much nailed me.

    Chapter by chapter, as each story unfolds, I can see more and more clearly how these women’s stories are really our collective story as women. From each story, Colleen pulls a statement of truth about our identity as women in Christ. I’ve listed the twelve statements below.
    You are a dwelling place of the Most High God.
    You have a voice.
    You are a witness.
    You bear no shame.
    You are known.
    You are restored.
    You are made for contentment.
    You honor Christ.
    You can stand tall.
    You can pray boldly.
    Your presence matters.
    You were made for resurrection joy.

    Read them again slowly and take a second to consider that each one is describing YOU. This is who He says you are. Perhaps it’s a bit overwhelming, I know it is for me. Colleen provides useful tools for embracing these truths of who we are and for integrating them into our being. Each chapter contains an invitation, a prayer, and a set of reflection questions.

    Now, many books include these types of tools to help us integrate the author’s insights or teaching, and something is different about Colleen’s. Her invitations are provocative, refreshingly edgy. Her prayers are personal, conversational, and intimate. The questions she poses are new. I found myself frequently pausing and thinking, “Hmmm, that’s a great question. I have to sit with that one a while.” Oh, how exciting it is to enter new territories of self-discovery and spiritual growth!

    It is clear after having the privilege of interviewing Colleen personally, that this book had a “ghost writer” called the Holy Spirit. Our Lord surely has a plan and purpose for this book and for each woman who will read it. I hope you will be among us and that you will be filled with deep peace in knowing who you are.

    With love,
    De

  • Oh, what God can do with ‘Yes’!

    I am excited about a particular assignment I have taken on this Fall. I am reading a fabulous book called “Who Does He Say You Are” by Colleen C. Mitchell, and will be writing a review of the book for Kennedy Brownrigg Group. The best part of this assignment is that I get to interview the author. You’ll be hearing lots more about Colleen and the book in the weeks to come. I just had to share this today…

    This is a quote from Colleen’s prologue:

    “I finally offered myself to Him as I was – afraid and unable to see how I could be of use to Him – and prayed that if he still wanted me, I would go. When I finally made that surrender to God, and to the vision my husband was now seeing for our future with certain clarity, God moved mountains to show me that he was arranging this for me.”

    This reminder of the power of surrender really struck me…
    God moves mountains to make things happen upon our Yes, feeble as that Yes may be!

    He isn’t waiting around for us to become strong enough, prepared enough, financially secure enough, educated enough, or anything else enough. We are enough right now! And at this very moment, He is patiently waiting for our Yes.
    Yes – even though I’m afraid.
    Yes – even though I’m tired.
    Yes – even when the path forward is uncertain, perhaps even hidden from sight.
    Yes – even when giving my yes is uncomfortable and feels like way too much effort.

    To be used by God is the greatest and most humbling experience of my life. To know that He has used me to ease someone’s suffering, to take a stand for Him, or to speak words of His love into a broken heart…Amazing!
    And to know that He needs me…Unbelievable!
    He (God) needs me (unequipped, imperfect, impatient, ole Me)!

    He needs me to make His Presence known and felt among His people. And He needs You too. In the words of John Michael Talbot:

    Christ has no body now but yours
    no hands, no feet on earth but yours
    Yours are the eyes through which He looks
    with compassion on this world
    yours are the feet with which He walks to do good
    Yours are the hands,
    with which He blesses all the world…

    – St. Theresa’s Prayer

    Let’s give Him our yes today – no matter how small or uncertain it may be. And then step aside and watch Him move mountains!

    With love,
    De

  • Handle With Care

    There are a few articles of clothing in my closest that I am especially fond of. One is a blue silk dress that is the rare combination of flattering AND super comfortable. Another is a lightweight white wrap-style sweater that goes with everything and is perfect for cool summer evenings. Being wary about causing damage when it comes time to clean either of these favorites, I am thankful that each comes with a care tag with specific instructions for safe handling.

    The other day, after ANOTHER challenging interaction with my pre-teen, I found myself wishing that he came with care instructions, like my clothing. I am cautious to follow the care instructions so as to not cause damage to my clothing; how much more important that I not cause damage to my loved ones!

    None of us came with care instructions for safe handling of our emotional health. And even if we did, these instructions would surely change as we grow and change. Let’s create them! Personal care tags with specific instructions for our loved ones to consider. What valuable information to know about each other and to help foster a climate of emotional safety within our homes.

    Personal Care Tags Activity

    Below are instructions for engaging in this activity together with your spouse and/or children. This activity is especially important to do with your teen and ‘young adult’ children. They are changing rapidly and their needs are evolving by the moment it seems sometimes!
    Personal-Care-Tag

    1. Download the printable “My Personal Care Tag” and print one for each family member.* Get out markers, crayons, colored pencils or other writing/drawing implement.
    2. Begin your time together with a prayer. Use the one at the end of this post or one of your own.
    3. Take 10-15 minutes to individually create your care tags.
    4. Complete your care instructions using the prompts on your care tags.
    5. Color or decorate your care tag however you wish.
    6. When everyone is finished creating his or her care tag, take turns sharing them with one another. Mom or Dad go first. Show your care tag and read what you wrote. Ask your family members if they have any questions or need clarification on any of your care instructions.
    7. Keep your care tags in a central location where family members can refer to them as needed to be reminded of how to effectively care for one another’s emotional health.
    8. Write each person’s name on a small piece of paper, fold them up and put into a hat or basket. Each person draws a name (if you get your own, either trade with someone or put them all back in and draw again). For one week, be very intentional about “handling with care” your family member (whose name you drew). Practice giving them the specific care they need, according to the instructions on his or her Personal Care Tag. At the end of the week, put all the names back in the hat and draw again. It’s ok if you get the same person!

    * Feel free to modify this tag to match your family structure (i.e.: more/less than two siblings, additional family member such as Grandma, remove Dad from the tag, etc.).

    Every now and then, review your care tags. Does what you’ve written there still feel true to you? If not, update it or make a new one. We are dynamic, growing human beings and it is to be expected that our relationship needs will shift from time to time!

    Skills for Life

    In addition to fostering a climate of emotional safety within our homes, this activity highlights some really powerful life skills, such as:

    • Becoming familiar with our own needs around emotional safety in relationships.
    • Expressing those needs to others
    • Fostering empathy and understanding
    • Practicing selflessness by considering someone else’s needs and taking action to meet those needs.
    • Awareness that we are all unique. What is important to me and helps me feel cared for may be different from what is important to you.

    Questions about the activity? Feel free to email me at anytime. Successes to share? Please post in the comment box below or on our Facebook page. It is quite comforting to remember that we are not doing this work of Mothering alone, but rather in community.

    With love,
    De

    Family Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of my family. You have given each of us diverse needs and a unique heart. Please help us to see the members of our family through Your eyes, that we might look on one another with compassion and mercy. Create in each of us a generous and humble spirit. Fill us with the sincere desire to do all that we can to lift one another up, support, and encourage. We ask Your blessing upon our time together in this exercise of learning to listen and care for one another. We thank you for Your unfailing love for each member of this family. We pray in Jesus’ Name, AMEN!

  • Loving One Another

    A few Sunday’s ago we heard this beautiful Gospel passage from John:

    “My children, I will be with you only a little while longer.
    I give you a new commandment: love one another.
    As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.
    This is how all will know that you are my disciples,
    if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35

    Jesus gave us a new commandment: love one another. That’s it. Just love one another. We only have to follow one commandment? This is going to be easy!

    Well, as it turns out, loving one another is not so easy, huh? Not if we consider what it REALLY means to love one another.

    Definition of love:
    Noun: Unselfish, loyal, and benevolent concern for the good of another.
    Verb: To feel affection and tenderness for another.

    If your life experience is anything like mine, I’ll venture a guess that there are times when you aren’t feeling the love (verb) towards your significant others! Yet, even when we aren’t feeling the love, we are still called to give the love (noun). As if this isn’t difficult enough, Jesus’ commandment is to love one another “as I have loved you.” Gulp!

    But Jesus, You love us perfectly. Unconditionally. Exactly as we are, at every moment, with no judgment. How in the world can we be expected to love one another like that?

    Obviously, He knows we fall short. Yet another reason to surrender our striving in favor of His divine mercy. Surrendering to His Mercy does not mean we give up on loving, however.

    About once a year, I pose a “Love Challenge” here on my blog – usually when I need the reminder myself! Consider this Love Challenge as a guide to help take small steps toward that big goal of loving one another as He has loved us.

    The Love Challenge

    The purpose of the love challenge is to think about love in the way God thinks about love. The challenge is based on this description of love, given to us by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7…

    “Love is patient, love is kind. Love is never jealous or envious, never boastful, nor proud, nor rude; never selfish, not quick to take offense.
    Love does not demand its own way. Love keeps no score of wrongs; does not gloat over another’s sins, but delights in truth.
    There is nothing love cannot face. Love always protects, always trusts. Love hopes all things. Love endures all things.”

    In the love challenge, we replace the word “love” with the pronoun “I”…

    “I am patient, I am kind. I am never jealous or envious, never boastful, nor proud, nor rude; never selfish, not quick to take offense.
    I do not demand my own way. I keep no score of wrongs; do not gloat over another’s sins, but delight in truth.
    There is nothing I cannot face. I always protect, always trust. I hope all things. I endure all things.”

    How does that strike you as you read those verses using the word “I”? Certainly gives me plenty to improve upon in the way I am loving others (and the way I am loving myself too)!

    Taking the Love Challenge consists of the following three steps:

    1. Choose one phrase or sentence from the verses above to pour your love energy into today. Perhaps it will be “I am not envious” or “I am not quick to take offense” or “I endure all things.”
    2. Write this phrase or sentence on an index card to carry with you all day. Read it to yourself often throughout the day. Allow this particular way of showing love to guide your interactions and your mothering today.
    3. At the end of the day, check-in with yourself:
      • What was it like to show love to others in this way today?
      • What impact did you notice, if any, on your relationships?
      • How do you feel in this moment?

    Choose a phrase each day! It can be the same one or a different one. I sometimes have to work with the same one for a while before that way of loving flows more naturally for me.

    I hope you’ll join me in taking this challenge. Together, and with our Lord’s help, we are cultivating loving cultures in our homes and families. What a gift to give our children, our mates, and ourselves.

    With love,
    De