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  • 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

  • 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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  • Help My Unbelief

    From the passages in last Sunday’s Gospel reading (John 20:19-31) come the expression “a doubting Thomas.” Thomas said he would not believe the story being told unless he saw with his own eyes and touched with his own hands.

    Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believe.” And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” – John 20:27-28

    Thomas is pretty relatable, huh? At times, I am guilty of being skeptical towards that which I have not personally experienced. I become cynical or judgmental about that which I do not understand. I doubt.

    When I refuse to believe in that which I cannot see or understand, I am subtly choosing control over faith. If it doesn’t make sense to me, I won’t believe it. If I haven’t seen it or experienced it personally, then I will not relate to it. And there I stay, in my comfortable and predictable existence.

    Only, comfortable, predictable, and in contol is NOT the way God calls me to live!

    How about Thomas’ response to Jesus in the passage: “My Lord and my God!” (I get chills every time). The significance of those five words is inexhaustible. Can you imagine being Thomas in that moment?? I imagine that I would drop to my knees, immediately convicted and remorseful. Entirely filled with reverence and humility. Overwhelmed by His mercy and love, never wanting the moment to end, wishing I could stay at His feet forever.

    And then it hits me! I can stay at His feet forever! I can continually be filled with His mercy and His love! His presence, mercy, love, and compassion are all available to me, and to you, in every moment. My Lord and my God!

    So how about right here, right now? What would it take for me (or you) right in this moment to fall to our knees and place our head on His feet? To surrender to Him once again? And to allow ourselves to receive His tender mercy?

    A closing prayer:
    Father God, please break our hearts and minds wide open, flooding us with full, rich, deep faith in the risen Christ. We pray for the strength and the courage to look at each and every circumstance of our day through the eyes of faith. Show us how to do this. Show us how to look at life in such a way that we shall see what it is You wish for us see. Please remove our unbelief. Remove our doubts and our fears so that we may experience You more fully and trust in You without hesitation. We pray in Jesus’ name, AMEN.

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

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  • The Journey of Transformation

    A coach colleague, named Matt Gagnon, recently shared a huge personal breakthrough in our coaching facebook group. With Matt’s permission, I am sharing his post below and here’s why…

    Matt’s story beautifully illustrates two important truths:

    1. There is immense freedom and empowerment in embracing what is. In accepting what is true for me, rather than pretending or hiding in an attempt to “keep the peace” or make others happy.
    2. We are each on a God-given journey of transformation. And while the end-result may be something we look forward to, the process of being transformed, is often messy and uncomfortable, even painful! After all, we are refined in fire, right?

    As you read Matt’s story, consider your own journey:

    1. What challenge or obstacle is currently present in your life that feels daunting or overwhelming?
    2. What may God be calling you to surrender to Him?
    3. Where have you been avoiding asking others for the help you need?
    4. What emotions are you aware of experiencing that you have not yet acknowledged or accepted?

    Here’s Matt:

    “I want to share a recent breakthrough for me. I have had people in my life who were ridiculously quick to reframe, scold, correct, question, fix, etc…any word I used that wasn’t positive. The result was I began to view certain emotions as negative and would ensure that I used only positive emotions and words when discussing any challenge I was facing in life.

    How did that serve me? IT DIDN’T! It encouraged me to disown my feelings, censor myself, and even worse…It changed the intention behind my words…I was speaking to please others and make them feel comfortable instead of owning my emotions and speaking truthfully.

    Today, I can tell you this…however, I feel is OK! There is nothing wrong with my emotions…how I act on them makes a big difference but there is great power in knowing and articulating how I feel.
    If I give myself permission to acknowledge, articulate, and accept how I feel, this is what it looks like:
    + I Can Feel Weak but it Doesn’t Mean I am Not Strong
    + I Can Feel Scared, but I am Still Confident in my Journey
    + I Can Feel Depressed, but it Doesn’t Mean I am Without Hope and Faith
    + I Can Feel Angry, but I Still Long for Grace, Humility, and Forgiveness

    If I deny myself the opportunity to acknowledge, articulate, and accept how I feel, this is what you won’t see but I will be feeling:
    + I Look Happy, but I am Crying for Help on the Inside
    + I am Laughing on the Outside, but I am Lost and Scared Inside
    + I Speak with Confidence, yet I Feel Hopeless and Broken

    The truth is I am sick…I have an annoying rare disease that comes with a bunch of annoying side-effects. I am constantly having to re-learn what my energy levels are and sometimes that means I find out only after I have committed to something and then unable to deliver to expectations. I am learning how to battle with depression, anxiety, narcolepsy, and seizure like spasms…Because of that, the successful business I was building is slowing down because I can’t keep up with the pace I was driving it at…this is my calling and I am having to slow down, say no, and focus on self-care so I can say Yes again. All of that sucks; however, I am learning so much about myself and the REAL TRUTH IS – I AM BUILT TO HANDLE THIS SO I CAN SERVE OTHERS.

    This journey is teaching me to appreciate my feelings, learn how to ask for help, surrender control, lean into my faith, and embody my life purpose as the Courageous Heart. If I was healed 2 months ago, I would have been robbed of several powerful life lessons. I don’t want to be healed…I want to be whole! This process is preparing me for something bigger and I don’t know what it is and that is ok…I am just being present with it – leaning into the lessons to be learned vs. bulldozing forward to solve my problems. This is what being in transformation looks like…it’s messy, dark, painful, beautiful, amazing, inspiring, annoying…all of that and more; however, it’s a gift to have the self-awareness that I am in the middle of it, because I can embrace the brilliance and beauty of the journey.”

    Wow. Beautiful, huh?

    Like Matt, perhaps your journey has taken you down a path that is dark, frustrating, and foggy or unclear. Perhaps you are tempted to believe you are in this alone. The truth is that Jesus is right there beside you, waiting to come a little closer, ready to hold your hand a little tighter. Reach for Him.

    And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. – Jesus (Matthew 28:20)

    Closing Prayer:
    Heavenly Father, I thank you for this incredible journey that I now find myself on. Help me to trust that every aspect of this journey is purposeful – the joyful parts and the sad parts; the sacrifices and the abundant blessings; the amazing highs and the darkest lows – You hold all in the palm of Your hand. Please give me the grace to surrender my will in favor of Your will, so I may be transformed and made new, according to Your great plan and purpose. For this I pray, in Jesus’ name, Amen!

    Linking up with: Mommy Monday Blog Hop, Motivation Monday

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  • Intentional Family Building

    Another snow day. My space has been invaded by my husband working from home (again), and my tween and my teen who are off school (again).

    On this particular snow day, the kids were going with a friend to our local “mountain,” which is little more than a very big hill, to snowboard for a few hours. My husband and I “communicated” the details of the plan.

    You’ll notice the quotation marks around the word communicated. What actually occurred cannot really be categorized as communication. For my part, I was talking quietly because I had a sleeping baby in my arms. For his part, Marc was listening to me while simultaneously reading something on his laptop. Yet, we forged on.

    Is it any wonder that when it came time to take the kids to the mountain, Marc and I had two different ideas of how the plan was to unfold? I won’t bore you with all the details of our misunderstanding, though I will ask you to imagine the scene:

    • Patience was low to begin with, as our normal routines were compromised and our to-dos were not getting to-done.
    • I had just taken refuge in my bedroom with a sleeping baby, a cup of coffee and my laptop. Ahhh, finally. Marc is going to take the kids snowboarding and I’ll have some peace and quiet.
    • Marc enters my haven and says in a surprised tone of voice, “What are you doing? You’re supposed to be taking the kids to the mountain now!”

    So began the “whisper fight.” You know, the kind where you yell at one another as loud as you can in whispers so not to wake the baby.

    Do you ever have days that like this in your home?

    Thankfully, the days of peace and kindness outweigh the days we whisper-yell at each other. We prioritize keeping peace in our home and in our hearts towards one another. As perhaps is true for your family, we are intentional about making quality time together a regular occurrence: playing games together, attending church services together, and eating meals together as often as we can. We also spend time in prayer together every day, even if it is just for 2-minutes!

    Family Building
    Because I am a bit of a personal development junkie, I frequently *force* – umm, I mean invite – my husband and kids to join me in a family-building activity. The activities typically involve self-reflection and have some element of play or fun to them, such as art, cooking, or using props from some of my teambuilding games. There have been a few activities over the past few months that were especially meaningful and enjoyable and I wanted to share them with you. Keep reading to learn about our “Me Collages.” And watch for upcoming posts with other intentional family activities.

    Me Collage
    The purpose of this activity is to allow each member of the family to create a collage of words and images that represent aspects of themselves. Here is my Me Collage:
    me collage

    Activity Instructions:

    1. Print out or draw a template for each person to create their Me Collage on. We used these gingerbread-style cutouts. Click on the image to download and print.
      gingerbread man
    2. Gather lots of magazines and catalogs to use for cutting out images and words.
    3. Set up your workspace: spread out the magazines and provide scissors and glue for each person. You may want to have markers or crayons available too in case someone wants to draw on their Me Collage.
    4. Allow at least 30-minutes for perusing the magazines and creating your collages. Of course, depending on the ages and attention spans of your children, you decide if less or more time is necessary.
    5. After everyone has finished their Me Collage, take turns sharing them with one another. Get curious about the images that were chosen. You might ask questions such as: What does that mean to you? OR How are you most like that ______?

    In addition to your family, this activity is appropriate for any group wanting to get to know each other better: a mom’s club, a book club, with your students, etc.

    Credit for this activity goes to my mom, Helen Ercolino. Helen is a Licensed Counselor and Registered Play Therapist out of Chester Springs, Pennsylvania, working with children, couples and families (as well as individuals).

    I’d love to hear about your Me Collages! You can leave a comment at the bottom of this page or share via our Facebook page. May God bless you and each member of your family!

    With love,
    De

    Linking up with: Mommy Monday Blog Hop, Motivation Monday, Titus Tuesdays, Grace and Truth, Faith Filled Friday, Women with Intention

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  • Be My Valentine

    This is a revised version of last year’s Valentine’s post, PLUS a new free download: Daily Affirmation Cards.

    “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” – John 15:12

    Have you ever considered the idea of loving yourself the way God calls us to love all people? I mean, you too, are people, right? What if God’s command to ‘love one another’ includes loving ourselves?

    We can only give what we have. If my inner love reserves are low or empty, my capacity to love others is impacted. We’ve all had those days that call on us to give, nurture, listen, empathize, give, and give some more. My ‘giving’ begins to look and feel a lot different to the recipient as I become more tired and depleted. And my empathy starts to feel less and less empathetic and more and more impatient!

    Read more

  • Be Where You Are

    Zachary wants so badly to walk. He pulls himself up on everything, holds on with one hand, and…falls to the floor. The fact is, his body is just not ready for walking. He does not yet have the necessary balance or core strength.

    He does, however, have everything he needs right at this moment to crawl. But he doesn’t want to crawl. He sees the rest of us walking and it looks so amazing, so big, so enticing. Crawling…well, that seems so boring. Crawling is for babies 🙂
    IMAG0932

    I was having a little chat with him this afternoon telling him, Zach don’t fixate so much on walking. Keep working on the crawling! You’re not ready for walking yet. But THIS (crawling), this you could be doing right now! And you know what, in doing it, you’ll get what you want. You’ll be able to move from here to there all on your own! AND you’ll be preparing yourself for walking when the time comes.

    Hmmm…this sounds familiar…
    My conversation with Zach resembled many conversations I’ve had with myself. How many times have I wanted to skip over THIS and get right to THAT?

    “De, don’t fixate so much on that over there. Stay right here where you are. Don’t miss the opportunities presented by THIS present moment! You’re HERE because you’re not ready to be THERE yet.”

    While this is not usually the reality I want to be reminded of, it is the truth!

    The only place I can learn, grow, love, give, receive, LIVE is in this present moment.

    Thoughts for us to ponder:

    1. What does it mean to “trust the process?”
    2. What would it be like to limit your thinking about the past, your dreaming about the future, and completely immerse yourself in the present moment?
    3. What will you gain each time you bring your thoughts and your heart right back to NOW?

    We are meant to journey through life, not “arrive” somehow one day. Each step along our path readies us for what is to come, up around the next bend. The joy-full times and the difficult times. Each is a part of God’s plan and helps us grow in wholeness and holiness!

    May God bless you with His peace and presence!

    With love,
    De

    Sharing with: Wise Woman Link Up, Homemaking Link Up, Mommy Monday Blog Hop, Motivation Monday

  • Envision, Intention, Action

    How do you use the opportunity presented by the opening of a new year to open to something new in your life? Do you set New Year’s Resolutions? Or perhaps you participate in the practice of choosing 1-word to guide your year. (Read about my 1-word for 2016 here).

    One of my favorite workshops to facilitate is “Envision, Intention, Action.” Typically offered in the month of January, this workshop has participants spend a couple of hours looking inward, getting in touch with their hopes and desires for the coming year. And listening in for God’s call or direction as intentions are set.

    The questions below are from a guided imagery we use in the workshop. The guided imagery has us “begin with the end in mind,” envisioning important aspects of our life as if it were December 31, 2016. Creating a mental picture that aligns us to our truth, and our core values. You know the expression, “If you can see it, you can be it!” So grab your journal and a pen and give yourself the gift of 30-minutes (ok, 20-minutes, or even 15) to envision…

    Envision

    Take a moment and call to mind, one-by-one, each of the important areas of your life. And as you do so, think about in which area you desire to create the most positive change in 2016?

    • Relationship with God / spiritual walk
    • Family relationships
    • Physical health & wellness
    • Emotional health
    • Friendships
    • Finances
    • Vocation / Career
    • Fun & Recreation
    • Something else?

    Write down the life area you’ve chosen and… Imagine that it is now December 31st, 2016. The year is about to end…
    What’s different or better in this area of your life now?
    What, if anything, has changed in your daily routine?
    What, if anything, do you have in your life now that you didn’t have in January, 2016?
    What does that mean to you? What’s important about that?
    What, if anything, have you had to let go of in order for this reality to exist?

    Read what you’ve written in response to the questions above. As you envision this “end,” – this positive shift in one important life area – what jumps out most to you? What feels most important? Having greater peace-of-mind? Deeper connection with your significant other or your children? Cultivating daily practices to release your anxiety? What is calling out for your most immediate attention? Write this down.

    Now it’s time to process your personal hopes and desires through the “God filter.” What does God want for you in 2016? Stay here for a minute. Close your eyes and ask Him, “God, guide me in YOUR path. Direct my steps through 2016. Help me to listen for your guidance now, and each and every day. Help me to take one small step in Your direction every single day.” And again consider and write your response to, “What does God want for me in 2016?”

    Intention

    Write a 1 or 2 sentence intention, boiling down your vision for 2016. For example, the life area that I am choosing to focus on is Family Relationships and I believe that God is calling me to let go of the “should’s” and “supposed to’s” and allow myself to experience more JOY. Based on that awareness, here is my intention statement:

    I am intentional about experiencing more JOY in 2016. I do this by staying mindful to incorporate things that bring me joy into each day. My joy comes from: cuddling and playing with my baby, being spontaneous with my older kids, spending time in the chapel at my church, finding new recipes and cooking for my family.

    Action

    God does not usually call us to make huge changes or scrap entire parts of our lives all at once (at least not in the average case).  Typically, living by God’s plan and purpose is about taking small steps; small, consistent adjustments or modifications to our daily routines.

    A tiny shift in the tack shifts the direction. A tiny shift in direction shifts the destination. Dream BIG! Take small steps. – De Yarrison

    I am a big fan of visual tools that keep my intentions in front of me. The ‘Stepping Stones’ visual below is a simple action planner. We use it in this workshop for breaking our intention statement into small chunks that we can realize on a regular basis. Take a look at my “Stepping Stones to JOY” graphic as an example. My action steps are so simple, right?! Yes! Small, manageable steps I can take consistently in an effort to have more JOY in my life!”

    Click on the Stepping Stones graphic to download a pdf copy.

    May God bless you and your intentions!

    Stepping Stones Download for you
    Stepping Stones Girl no title

    De’s 2016 Stepping Stones to JOY
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    Linking up with: Mommy Monday Blog Hop, Motivation Monday, Women with Intention, Wise Woman Linkup, Essential Friday Devotion, Grace and Truth

  • Getting Radical

    If you’re a regular reader of my blog or have done any coaching with me, you’ll know that positive change, while challenging for most of us, is absolutely possible. We re-create our behavior patterns and literally, re-wire our brains in support of the desired change, through vigilant focus and daily intention on what we WANT to move towards. You can read these older blog posts if you’re interested in learning more about the science of positive change:

    And So It Is
    Yes I Am

    The transition we experience every December 31st presents a perfect opportunity to reflect. The start of a new year is incredibly inviting – like opening a fresh journal, full of crisp blank pages. The new year invites me to set new intentions, create new behavior patterns, to write “Chapter 2016” of my life story.

    What is it I wish to move towards in 2016? Who is God calling me to become this year? What qualities or behaviors is He calling me to express more fully?

    As I began praying and thinking about the one word I would choose to guide my 2016 journey, I contemplated the work the Lord has been doing in me lately. He’s definitely been shining a light on my merciful-ness (and lack thereof 😮 ). And He’s arranged many opportunities recently for me to surrender my worries and trust in His timing and provision.

    Mercy
    Surrender
    Trust

    A little back-story

    My dear tween-age son has been giving me a run for my money lately. In my better parenting moments, I remember to encourage him towards the behavior I want to see more of, as opposed to nagging him about the behavior I want to see less of. I’ve taken to saying to him, “Come on, you can do it! Let’s go for radical obedience!” Radical! Over-the-top. Extra eager.

    So, it wasn’t a big wonder that I kept hearing the word “Radical” as a candidate for my 2016.

    Radical: Uncompromising, fanatical, unbending, stubborn (Lord knows I’m gifted in the stubborn category. Why not apply my gift in a constructive direction?)

    Radical is just the right adjective to precede my mercy-giving and my trusting. To qualify my surrender.

    Now comes the fun part. Experimenting with what “radical” will look like in the different aspects of my daily life. Being radical has an instantaneous, eager quality about, doesn’t it? I envision myself leaping up instantly and eagerly at the many daily opportunities that I am sure God will send my way 🙂 .

    What does “radical mercy” towards my children look like?
    What’s different when my trust in the Lord becomes “radical trust?”
    What if my surrendering of a situation or decision becomes “radical surrender”?
    And how about love (my word from 2015)? How will I express “radical love” towards my husband?

    I’m excited to see how applying a dose of “radical” will impact my mothering, my marriage, my faith. Stay tuned…

    Reflection

    What is God calling you towards in 2016? What one particular word might you choose to guide “Chapter 2016” of your life story? Share in the comments section. I’d love to hear from you!

    Closing Prayer:

    Father God, we ask your blessing upon us as we begin a new year. May we walk closer to You, both in every joyful moment and in our times of trial. We ask for increased strength, hardiness, and confidence in following You wherever You will lead us this year. Grant us great love and attentiveness for the needs of others, most especially those within our own homes. Fill us so completely with Your Love and Light so we will be a blessing to all those around us. We ask all of this in the name of Jesus, AMEN.

    Linking up with: Mommy Monday Blog Hop, Motivation Monday, Women with Intention, Titus Tuesdays, Essential Friday Devotions, Grace and Truth, Faith Filled Friday