All posts in Living with Intention

  • The Power of Perspective Shifting

    My mom and I are taking a trip across the country in a few weeks. We, along with my two teens, will fly from Philadelphia to Seattle, stay in a beach house in Port Angeles, and attend my cousin’s wedding in Olympic National Park. The other night, Mom and I were sharing concerns about the trip: are we spending too much money? Should we have rented a house at the beach or just stayed in cheaper accommodations? Will we even know anyone at the wedding? Is Zach going to be ok without me for 5 days??

    Worrying is not very much fun. Thankfully, I had my coaching hat with me 😉 .

    With my coaching hat on, I thought, you know what’s done is done and what’s to come will come. Worrying won’t change any of it. So let’s try on a new perspective. How do we want to feel right now?

    Peaceful. Excited. Grateful for the opportunity to travel together.

    Together we decided to stand in the perspective of “cross-country adventure with my grand-kids / kids.” Any adventure worth its salt will contain the unknown, the unfamiliar, and the unpredictable. Through the lens of “cross-country adventure,” facing the unknown, unfamiliar, and unpredictable excites me, raises my curiosity and sense of anticipation. Which feels infinitely more fun than worrying!

    What circumstance or area of your life would benefit from a perspective shift?

    Here are two ways to begin:
    1. First is prayer (isn’t prayer the best first step for everything?!). Father God, I ask for Your help to shift my perspective about ______. I’ve been worrying rather than trusting You. Help me to see this situation/person through Your eyes. Please correct my thinking; remove any thoughts that cause me to step off the path that leads to You – to light, truth, and peace. Place new thoughts – Your thoughts – into my heart and mind. Saced Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in You!

    2. Second is a fun little exercise…
    Pretend that you are taking off a pair of glasses and setting them down on a table. These glasses hold your current perspective. All your thoughts, worries, fears, and assumptions about that circumstance or relationship. Before you on the table are dozens of other pairs of glasses, each with a different label.

    There’s the Mountain-top Perspective glasses, the Forest Perspective glasses, and the Bubbling Brook Perspective glasses.
    – What if you looked at that circumstance from the “mountain-top” perspective? Standing high above, up out of the
    mucky details, where the air is refreshing and crisp. Get curious about what you might see from this bird’s-eye-view.

    There’s the Salsa Dance Perspective glasses and the Waltz Perspective glasses.
    – What fresh thinking might be available to you while considering the Waltz perspective, with it’s smooth, flowing,
    comfortably rhythmic movement?

    There’s also a long line of glasses labeled with colors.
    – How would your world look different if you chose to wear the Yellow Perspective glasses today? The Hot Pink
    Perspective glasses? The Sage Green Perspective glasses?

    Worry, anxiety and frustration can leave us feeling stuck or powerless. The truth is, we have the power at any moment to create a new experience for ourselves. The very moment we become aware of our worry, anxiety, or dissonance, we can gently pause our thinking, take a breath, and begin to pray for help to shift our perspective. Whether our circumstance ever changes or not, isn’t the issue. When we shift our perspective, we shift how we’re feeling about the circumstance and how we’re choosing to relate with that circumstance.

    And this becomes the difference between being captive to our circumstances or going free.

    The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. – Philippians 4:5-6

  • I’m good, thanks.

    I’m good, thanks. How many times do I hear these words, or some variation on the sentiment, in a day? Here are a few recent examples:

    I accidentally bumped into a young man in the market and said, “Excuse me, I’m sorry.” To which he replied, “No, I’m good.”

    I said to my 2-year-old, “Zach, I’m tired. Let’s take a rest.” To which he replied, “No Mama, you good.”

    Two weekends ago, I was chaperoning a youth retreat. I was walking across campus to meet my group and two girls passed by me. One was coughing, choking on something. I asked her if she wanted a bottle of water. She replied, “no, [cough-cough], I’m [cough] good.”
    Me: “I’ve got three unopened bottles in my backpack. Please take one.”
    Her: “[cough] No, I’m good. [cough]”
    Her friend was just staring at her like, “take the water already!!”

    I set my pack down, pulled out a bottle of water and practically forced it on her. She did take it and drank nearly the whole thing in one breath.

    What is going on? When did we decide that we’re all “good” and don’t need to accept help or apologies or even water from one another? How did this sentiment become so commonplace that it has become an automatic response from my 2-year-old?

    And perhaps more importantly, I wonder what we’re not saying when we’re saying “I’m good.” I have a hunch that we might not be saying things like:

    • Yes, I could use some help right now.
    • Thank you for noticing [me].
    • I would really like that, thank you.

    Vulnerability. A knee-jerk, “I’m good,” dances around our vulnerability.
    What makes us vulnerable is what makes us beautiful: giving compassion, laughing out loud, praying with someone who is hurting, showing spontaneous affection. These authentic expressions are the source of connection and intimacy in our lives.

    Hearing “I’m good” lets me off the hook. Frees me up from seeing your vulnerability, spending time listening to your story, and experiencing your need.
    Saying “I’m good” lets me off the hook from showing my own vulnerability; from sharing the truth about my needs, worries, or difficulties. I don’t want to do that anymore.

    “speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” – Ephesians 4:15

    What will it mean or do for us when we speak and listen to the truth from one another? Without having answers or rushing to solution. Simply giving the gift of our presence to one another.

    Copyright 2017 De Yarrison

  • 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 (

    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.


    • 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.


    • 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.


    • 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,

    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,

  • 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,


  • The You in Me, A Look at Projection

    everything that irritates

    I originally published this post on my leadership blog (, 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.

  • 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,

  • 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,

  • 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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