All posts in Mothering

  • 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

  • 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!

  • The Wounds of Adolescence

    When Zachary, my 11-month-old gets hurt, it is immediately obvious. He cries, crawls over to me, wanting to be picked up and held. Needing to be soothed and comforted. The tears in his eyes and that little bottom lip sticking out….you know the look. We melt, right? Compassion and tenderness well up within and I drop whatever I’m doing to hold my baby.

    My middle schooler is hurting too. Only, his hurts are not immediately obvious. He does not typically express his hurt in ways that readily elicit my compassion and tenderness. In fact, the way his hurts get expressed can often have the opposite impact on me. His behavior ranges from aloof avoidance of me to outright disrespect and yelling at me.

    On countless occasions, I have reacted to the aloof attitude and disrespect with scolding, reprimanding, or yelling right back. “Don’t speak to me like that!” Or worse – sending him away from me, “Go to your room!”

    About 10-seconds after my reaction, I remember that his behavior towards me has nothing to do with me. Sure enough, time-after-time, I come to learn that something happened during the day that wounded him. Only, his wound hasn’t resulted in a black-and-blue goose egg on his forehead like Zachary’s wounds typically do. He comes home with wounds that are invisible. And no less real or painful.

    Soothing the Wounds of Adolescence
    Adolescence is a time of staggering change for our children. Intense emotions, sudden mood changes, passionate expression, social pressures, desire for greater independence – these are all characteristics of adolescence. And through this turbulent time, our children need us to be their calm, steady presence in the storm. HOW do we to do this? Below are some ideas.

    1. I control my reactivity. I heard an expression when my kids were small and it’s stuck with me over the years: ‘The last thing a reactive child needs is a reactive parent.’ So true. Unfortunately, I can think of many times when I’ve reacted to my child’s reaction, which only increased the intensity of his reaction, which increased the intensity of my reaction… and round and round we go!

      The formula for controlling my reactivity goes like this: Pray. Breathe. Pray some more.
      My two go-to prayers when I feel myself on the verge of reacting are: “Come quickly Holy Spirit!” or “Jesus, make this easy!”

    2. Shhhh! I stop talking and just be still. Less words, more presence. When oh when will I finally master the art of keeping my mouth shut? The formula for helping me keep my mouth shut goes like this: Pray. Breathe. Pray some more.
    3. I am ready to listen when my child is ready to talk. Even when it’s late and I’m tired. Even when I’m in the middle of something and it’s inconvenient. The formula here? Yup… Pray. Breathe. Pray some more.
    4. I offer loving physical contact. Our adolescent children still need our physical touch, even though we may be resisted or rejected. Be willing to meet your child where he/she is. I find both of my adolescent children crave my physical touch at bedtime. Rubbing his back. Stroking her head. They need the nurturing contact.

    Here’s a truth to remember “hurt people hurt people.” Meaning when my child is behaving in a way that is hurtful to me or to another, it is very likely because he or she is hurting inside. What will shift in our relationship when I manage my desire to react to his hurtful behavior? And instead of reprimanding or yelling, I offer my child what he really needs, which is love, acceptance, and compassion. For as long as we are their mamas, they will always need our love, acceptance, and compassion! No matter what age they happen to be today.

    Let’s close with a prayer: Heavenly Father, I thank you for the privilege of being a mother. I thank you for the blessing of my children. Each one is Your own precious creation. Lord, I ask for Your guidance in my mothering. I pray for the eyes to see beyond undesirable behaviors; to recognize my child’s hurts and fears. I pray that Your Holy Spirit will enlighten me and guide me to connect more deeply with my child on a heart level. Please help me to model for them the healthy expression of emotions, and asking for what I need in a healthy manner. I ask that You would soothe my hurts. Fill me so completely with Your tenderness and compassion, that I may give the same freely to those around me. I ask all of this in Jesus’ name, AMEN.

    Linking up with: Mommy Monday Blog Hop, Motivation Monday, Mommy Moments, Titus 2 Tuesday

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  • The Correct Answer is YES!

    I’ve written recently about the challenges of being a “new mom” again at age 45. You can read those posts here and here. I was talking with my pastor about my “new mom” struggles and I said, “This baby wasn’t planned, you know.” His reply, “Well, maybe you didn’t plan this baby, but God did.”

    Hit with the Truth, once again!

    For years, my prayers have always included the request to be fully used. “God, use me up. Help me to give and love and give some more. Not my will, but your will.” My pastor reminded me that this is IT! This is what I’ve been praying for. An opportunity to say YES to God’s plan…

    even when “yes” means spending more hours each day on the “being” and less on the “doing.” (sitting still has always been a challenge for me 🙂 )

    even when “yes” means major change to my daily routine and my family dynamic.

    even when “yes” means re-evaluating my business plans and the speaking / coaching engagements I can realistically commit to.

    Thankfully, God faithfully provides me with the grace I need each day to continually renew my YES. And as I do – as I submit my will in favor of His Will – everything gets easier. Relationships, mothering, managing my time, business decisions…

    Maybe I’ve finally learned that there really isn’t much point in resisting God’s plan. 😉

    The Serenity Prayer is always a go-to favorite reminder to submit & surrender. Below is a graphic with the full prayer on it.
    Click on the image to download an 8×10″ pdf version.

    Reflection:
    In what current circumstance is God ‘using you up’?
    Where is He asking you for an even bigger YES than you’ve ever given before?

    serenity-prayer
    With love,
    De

  • The year I turned 45

    A few notable events occurred in my life the year that I turned 45:

    • My eyesight changed and I finally got to wear those cute magnifier glasses.
    • I began covering up my grey hair for the first time. It’s been fun experimenting with different colors. Nothing too radical: medium golden brown, dark brown, red brown, etc.
    • My social priorities made a big shift and I began spending more time each day in prayer than on social media or in contact with friends.
    • I let go of two old, tired roles I used to play: victim and hero.
    • I chose contentment over striving.
    • I began to envision a lovely picture of growing old with my husband.
    • I got pregnant.

    What!? Pregnant?! You’ve got to be kidding me! To quote my mother, upon hearing my news: “What? How is that even possible?” Thanks Mom. I’m not THAT old.

    So here I am at almost 46 years old, with a teenage daughter, a tween-age son, and a newborn baby.
    IMAG0444
    Balancing their disparate needs is quite a daunting challenge. Some days I flat out can’t handle it all (or more truthfully, don’t want to handle it all!).

    But I AM handling it. Moment by moment. Through constant prayer and grasping for a heavenly hand to lift me up and keep nudging me onward. “Jesus, with you by my side, enough has been given” is my mantra & breath prayer.
    (from a prayer called “Soul of Christ” by David L. Fleming, S.J. The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius: A Contemporary Reading.)

    Jesus is Enough
    When I’m tempted to complain that I didn’t get enough sleep or that I don’t have enough energy……”Jesus, with you by my side, enough has been given.”

    When I’m tempted to believe the lie that I don’t have what it takes……”Jesus, with you by my side, enough has been given.”

    When my defenses are weakened and I get stuck in worry, fear or anxiety……”Jesus, with you by my side, enough has been given.”

    And you know what? Time and time again, He proves that statement to be true. As soon as I take my focus off of myself and place my eyes back on Him, I am filled with Peace. And Hope. Even though circumstances look much the same as they did moments before, everything is somehow easier. Try it and see for yourself.

    God has called me (and you) to the role of motherhood. More specifically, He has called us to mother the individual and unique children that He’s given to us because He knows that we are the perfect ones for the job. And He will continually equip us with exactly what we need each day if we but trust in Him. Even in the midst of the stressful days, the sleepless nights, the tween attitude, the teen independence, keep calling to Him. We can count on Him for rest, peace, strength, endurance and grace to cover our worn-out spirits. He is always Enough!

    and, behold, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. – Matthew 28:20

    With love,
    De

  • The Surrender Experiment

    Hello!! Greetings from my “babymoon!” I miss being in contact with you and the Conversation Revolution community! Many a day has come and gone, taking with them my hopes of blogging, working on my e-courses, or even making a Facebook post. So rather than continuing to wait for the non-existent perfect moment, I decided to just sit down and type!

    My babymoon is wonderful, challenging, joy-filled, and tear-jerking (including both tears of gratitude as well as tears of frustration). The past 6 weeks have certainly been full of opportunities for my spiritual refinement 🙂

    The theme of my spiritual refinement right now is most definitely Surrender. And, going hand-in-hand with Surrender is Trust. Daily, I am experimenting with detachment, letting go, and surviving thriving in uncertainty. I would love to tell you that my experiment is going along smoothly and everyday is unfolding with ease and grace. But you’d know I was lying, wouldn’t you?

    Refiner’s Fire

    Scripture tells us that, just as gold and silver are purified in fire, so too are we purified through testing and trials. Caring for my newborn son is testing me in many ways: testing my patience, flexibility, my compassion, and even my faith. How often and how fully am I leaning into my faith and my relationship with God to help me get through the day? Am I asking for, and allowing, God’s strength to sustain me when my own strength is gone? Honestly, there have been days when I’ve had no other choice! And isn’t that part of His perfect plan?

    If my own strength was always enough, would I ever have need to reach out for God’s hand? If I was never challenged beyond my current capacities, would I grow, evolve, and be purified?

    But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. – Job 23:10

    There is more that I want to write. Yet, my very small window of time for blogging is closed (baby calling…). I surrender the rest (for now). I trust that another opportunity for blogging will emerge in the near future! Until then, may God bless you and provide you with your own opportunity for refinement. I’d love to hear about it (and to know that I am not alone!). Please share in the comments below.

    With love,
    De

  • If Mom is Happy, Everyone is Happy

    We’re all familiar with the expression, “If mom is happy, everyone is happy,” right? Seriously though, how many moms do you know who put their own happiness FIRST? Most moms I can think of (myself included) tend to live by the operating belief of “When everybody else is happy and taken care of, and if I have any time or an ounce of energy left, I’ll think about my own happiness.”

    It’s time that we acknowledge a true reality here:
    Taking care of others WITHOUT TAKING CARE OF OURSELVES, does not actually make anybody happy!

    When I put my energy and attention into everyone else – at the expense of myself – I can easily get caught in a mindset of scarcity: not enough time, didn’t get enough sleep, not getting enough exercise, didn’t get enough finished today…

    As opposed to living from a mindset of sufficiency, a belief in ENOUGH. There is enough (sleep, time, completed tasks…). I am enough. God is always enough. I’ve written about scarcity and sufficiency before. See these two older posts for some important insights:
    This Week’s Word is Sufficiency
    What If I Actually Am Enough?
     

    Setting the Tone with Intention

    Every day, as Mom of the House, I have a powerful impact on the tone that is set in my home and in the hearts of my family members. Others will, consciously or unconsciously, take their cues about how to respond, how to be, & how to feel…
    from me.

    I’ve learned that fostering a positive tone in my home is only possible – or at least, much easier – when I keep myself feeling grounded, content, and healthy. I’ve also learned that when I am NOT feeling grounded or content or healthy, the tone in my home can quickly deteriorate to one that feels tense, stressful, argumentative, and blaming or judging.

    Does this happen in your home too? It’s one reason why attending to our own self-care as mothers is imperative, and anything but selfish!

    When-mom-isn't-happyHappy-home

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Below are 9 of my daily practices that help me stay grounded and content, so I can effectively lead-by-example in fostering the climate I want to create. In our home and in our hearts.

    1. Start with Gratitude. Before I step out of bed, I thank God for the day, for my children, my husband, my busy life, and whatever specifics I am feeling grateful for in that moment (today it was the birds chirping outside my window – come on SPRING!).
    2. Consult the Master Planner. I ask the Lord for His guidance to spend my time wisely today and to place my energy and attention on what HE wants it on. We all live busy lives. Who better to arrange my priorities and guide my limited time than the Master Himself? He sees a far broader perspective of my life and priorities than I possibly can. This relieves any sense of overwhelm by taking my focus off of ME and placing it on HIM!
    3. Breathe in fresh air every morning. I have a habit of opening the back door, stepping onto the deck for a moment – even on the cold or the rainy days – and taking a deep breath of fresh air. Ahhhhh!
    4. Exercise. Moving my body several times a week gives me a sense of vitality and health. A short morning jog is my favorite. I also enjoy stretching, which, as I age, is a MUST for keeping me loose and limber!
    5. Eat healthy; from nature. I like to eat something at every meal that is still in the form in which God made it. An apple, a carrot, a salad, brown rice or barley, pineapple with shredded coconut, avocado slices, … Pinterest is a constant source of healthy food inspiration!
    6. Sunshine breaks. Whenever possible, I take a sunshine break during my workday. I put my face in the sunshine (from inside the window or outside), close my eyes and feel the warmth! Warmth from the sun and the Son! That’s it. Done in 10 seconds and refreshes me for at least an hour!
    7. Have a supportive internal dialogue. I partner with myself, rather than fighting with myself, in meeting the various demands each day brings. This is a BIG ONE.
    8. Hug my children and my husband frequently. I need that heart-to-heart connection that happens when we hug one another. And they need it too (even when they don’t think they want it, they still need it).
    9. Read at least 1 chapter in my bible each day.

    What are your daily self-care habits? Not practicing anything specific? Use the questions below to help you set a self-care intention for today:

    1. Who or what are you thankful for today? Take a deep breath and spend 3-minutes letting your mind wander onto all that you are grateful for.
    2. If you had all the time you needed today, what one thing would you do just for YOURSELF? Take a walk? Take a bath? Take a nap? What would happen if you allowed yourself to do that one thing, even if only for 5-minutes?
    3. What is your favorite healthy food to eat? Treat yourself to that food today!
    4. How much affection have you been allowing yourself to receive lately? What kind of affection from your loved ones do you most want and need today? Ask for it! Better yet, give exactly that kind of affection to someone else today. We cannot give love to others without also receiving benefit for ourselves!
    5. What is your inner conversation like today? Harsh and unrelenting? Judgmental or critical? Gentle and compassionate? Today, set an intention to speak to yourself with kindness and support. Download our “Self-Supportive Conversation Starters” card for some guidance.

    And how about this…give yourself (and your family) the gift of a refreshed, rejuvenated YOU. Consider coming to our 1-day women’s retreat: “Wholy You: Journey Towards Wholeness and Holiness.” It’s on April 11th at the Daylesford Abbey in Paoli, Pennsylvania. Click here for more details.

    May God shower His blessings upon you and your family!

    With love,
    De

    Sharing this devotion with Motivation Monday, Mommy Monday Blog Hop, Wednesday Prayer Girls, Fellowship Friday,, Faith Filled Fridays, Joy of Nine Link Up

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  • Participating with the Divine

    As I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, my one word for 2015 is Love. In that post I declared that my 2015 Love would:

    • Be grounded in prayer and in pursuit of how Jesus wants me to Love
    • Strive to be that servant kind of love, especially within my immediate family
    • Involve a lot less talking and lot more listening
    • Approach my daily duties in my home with a joyful and grateful heart
    • Be verbalized more. That is, I plan to say ‘I love you’ more often, especially to my husband
    • Guide me to think & act beyond myself; to be more self-less.
    • Safeguard my intentions and motives, ensuring they are for love of Him and the desire to align my life with His Divine Will.

    As I’ve been moving through everyday life with a heightened awareness on how I’m loving others, I’ve learned something incredible. I’ve learned that every day, without leaving my house, heck without even getting out of my pajamas, I get to partner with the God of the universe. That I have an important role to play in fulfilling the Will of God through the way I love and care for my family.

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  • My One Word for 2015

    There is a custom I enjoy at the beginning of a new year, of choosing a single word that will provide oversight and direction for me throughout the year. One powerful word that I will set as my True North, striving to point my behaviors, attitude, and relationships towards it.

    My word for 2015 is LOVE.

    I had an epiphany about Love a few years back. My epiphany moment came after a time of anger, bitterness, distancing, and other very unLOVEing behaviors holding my heart (and my marriage) captive.
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  • The Search for Identity

    Our sons and daughters are growing up in a world that has so many lies to tell them about who they are supposed to be, how they are supposed to look, talk, dress, etc. A natural part of adolescence is searching for identity. Our teens will look for answers through the culture they live in: family, social events, classmates, social media, TV, books and movies.

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