Quote of the Week

Quote-of-the-Week pic “There will be so many times you feel like you’v failed, but in the eyes, heart and mind of a child you are super mom.”

~Stephanie Precourt

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Got Some Regrets You’d Like God to Redeem?

jerushaclark Today’s guest post is from Jerusha Clark.  Jerusha is a speaker at our 2014 Hearts at Home conferences including the upcoming North Central Hearts at Home Conference November 7-8!

She’s the bestselling author or co-author of ten books, including Every Thought CaptiveThe Life You Crave,When I Get MarriedInside a Cutter’s Mind, and Living Beyond Postpartum Depression. With her husband, Jeramy, a discipleship pastor in San Diego, California, Jerusha thoroughly loves raising their two daughters. You can find her online at www.jerushaclark.com

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When my daughters were little, they got a play kitchen from Grammy and Papa.  This was no run-of-the-mill toy; it was a Disney-licensed Cinderella kitchen, complete with all the bibbity-bobbity-boo $79.99 can buy.

My girls created magical masterpieces with a plastic hot dog, some indistinguishable vegetable matter, and a chocolate-dipped ice cream bar.  Of course, they wanted me to join in, especially while flipping pretend pancakes.

I really did want to play, but I was so tired sometimes.  I was trying to homeschool and feeling inadequate.  I was under deadline and didn’t know how to be a working mom.  All the while, those nefarious dishes piled up.

When the girls started full-time school and I was alone more often, an unexpected weight of regret slowly descended on me.  I couldn’t shake this thought: I didn’t play pancakes with them as often as I should have.  The accusing thoughts didn’t stop there, however, nor were they limited to my role as a mom.  “Not good enough” bounced around in my mind like a pinball, lighting up every brain cell with regret.  “What if…” and “If only…,” the greatest anxiety-producing phrases in my vocabulary, gnawed at my heart.

I’m betting I’m not the only mommy who has experienced regret.  Wounds of the past, choices we’ve made, fears about the future: they can eat us alive.

The Bible speaks of regret often, but God began to heal me with the words of one particular verse.  Joel 2:25a proclaims, “I will restore to you the years 
that the swarming locust has eaten…the destroyer, and the cutter.”

I didn’t know much about locusts, so I did a little digging.  Did you know the Bible mentions locusts roughly 50 times? Swarms of locusts were the most dreaded natural disaster in the biblical world and remain one of the most devastating calamities today. When swarming, locusts can number in the millions, devouring all in their path and leaving in their wake a land stripped of life.

Destructive forces, like “locusts,” come into our lives in three ways:

  • Uncontrollable circumstances devastate us (accidents, the death of loved ones, loss of a job, etc.).
  • The sins of others ravage us.
  • We act as “locusts” in our own lives.

In whatever manner “locusts” come, desolation follows. But the story doesn’t have to end there.  God offers us freedom from, and redemption for, the years of our pain and regret.

Shalam, translated “restore” in Joel 2:25, is a verb related to the better-known Hebrew word for peace, shalom. This term connotes more than a lack of stress or trouble.  Shalam speaks of wholeness and enduring peace now and forever.  What mommy doesn’t long for this?

As I continued to dig, I found an article that connected John the Baptist with Joel 2:25.  The Gospels record that John lived in the desert, eating locusts and honey (to which I thought, thank you very much, I’ll pass).

I always assumed that eating such a sparse diet proved John’s heart was fixed on heavenly, rather than earthly things.  This author, however, suggested that, as the forerunner of the Messiah, John revealed that, through Jesus, the one that devours will be devoured.  In Christ, whatever has destroyed your life and pierced you with regret cannot devastate you forever.  Through Jesus, the years that the locusts have eaten canindeed will—be restored.

Christ promises this, laid down His life to secure it, and extends the invitation of peace and redemption to all.  We have a role to play as well.  To partner with God in His work of redemption, follow the four “Rs”:

  • Repent: not just “saying sorry,” but walking in the opposite direction of whatever is devouring your life.
  • Revoke: breaking the power of the “locusts” in your life by praying about every specific regret, asking Him to take control of the situation, memory, and future consequences.
  • Replace: Actively replace regrets and lies with God’s truth. Be specific!  Don’t try to convince yourself “God loves me” or “God forgives me.”  Find and memorize biblical truths —not just one—as proof (if you need help, use Bible resource tools like concordances, indexes, and compiled lists).
  • Rejoice!  Not surprisingly, this is my favorite part.  Joel 2:26 describes the outcome of redemption so magnificently: “You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
and praise the name of the Lord your God,
who has dealt wondrously with you.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.”

What a marvelous God we serve.  All you mommies out there: whatever the locusts have eaten, God will restore. You will never again be put to shame.  That, my friends, is very good news!

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Happy 18th Birthday, Austin!

PicMonkey Collage a18 years ago today, I had the best night’s sleep of my whole pregnancy. It had been hard to be in the last month of pregnancy during the hot month of August so I was grateful for an unexpected night of solid sleep.

I opened my eyes at 6am Sunday morning and knew immediately that I was in labor. How in the world did I sleep through that pain? My contractions were about 4-5 minutes apart!

I told Mark I was going to take a quick shower, but it took longer than I thought because I had to keep stopping and breathing through my contractions.

We dropped the older two kids off at a friend’s house and headed to the hospital. By the time we arrived, I was dilated to 8 and we had our boy within an hour.

Mark, who was pastoring at the time, was even able to make it to church that morning!

After a c-section and two VBAC (Vaginal birth after cesarean) deliveries that included 14 hours of labor and 6 hours of labor, Mark and I determined this was the way to have a baby!

Six years later we “labored” for 9 months to adopt our fifth. No matter how you add to your family, it’s alot of work to get them here!

How about you? Do you have a fun birth story to share?

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Quote of the Week

Quote-of-the-Week pic “Negative thinking is one of the major risk factors that determines whether or not a marriage even survives”

                                                                 ~Greg Smalley

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Love Your Failures

Third-Thursday-ThoughtsLove. Your. Failures. Those 3 words seem odd to say.  Why would we ever love our failures?  How could we even begin to put the word “love” and “failures” in the same sentence?

The only way we can ever do that is if we can see some benefit in failure.  Since most of us hate failing, it’s probably safe to say that few of us see any benefit when we fall short.

Whether you believe it or not, there is value in failure.

It’s called growth.

That’s right. The best part of failing is the opportunity it presents us to grow.

  • When I forgot to pick up my daughter after school one day, I learned that I was over committed.
  • When I tried to control the outcome of a conversation’, I learned that I sometimes trust myself more than I trust God.
  • When I didn’t say the right thing to my teenager, I learned its sometimes better to listen more and talk less.

We aren’t perfect, but God longs to perfect us to be more like Him everyday.  In fact, He often does His best work shining His light through the cracks in our lives.

Give yourself grace when you don’t get it right and then thank God for the opportunity to grow!

What about you?  When have you failed and what lesson did you learn from it? 

Today’s our Third Thursday Blog Hop. Take a few minutes and hop around on some other mom blogs who are linked up below and are all blogging on the topic of coming to term with our failures.

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A Mix of Emotions

As you read this today, and listen to Day 3 of the No More Perfect Kids Focus on the Family broadcast, Mark and I will be moving our youngest son into his dorm at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.

There’s a mix of emotions churning inside of me.  I’m happy for Austin’s new opportunities. I’m sad I won’t see him everyday. I’m happy for a new season of freedom for Mark and I. I’m sad that our house won’t be filled with the laughter of Austin’s friends as often as it has been.

I bet you’re there too.  Oh you may not be sending your youngest off to college, but maybe you have one starting preschool this year. Or headed to all day kindergarten. Or middle school, junior high, or high school.

Life marches on and you and I have to move ahead whether we like it or not. I, however, do have the benefit of having been here before.  I’ve sent four children into adulthood and even though Austin is our fifth and last to head there, I know that these transitions are actually more gain than loss.

  • You gain the ability to deepen conversations as your kids grow older.
  • You gain the opportunity for meaningful moments with your child.
  • You gain beautiful memories to look back upon.
  • You gain insight into who God created them to be.
  • You eventually gain friendship as your kids head into adulthood.

It was a little over a week ago that I whispered to Mark as we snuggled on the couch, “Hey, in just a little over a week it’s just you and me.”  He responded with, “I’m looking forward to that.”

postereveryThe next day our 27-year-old son who is currently living in Chicago but getting ready to make a move called and said, “Hey mom. My last gig up here in Chicago is Aug 19. You’re moving Austin in on August 20, right?  I’m going to help you guys move him in and then could I just ride back to Bloomington with you guys and stay at the house for a bit until my plans are solidified?”

“Of course, you can,” I responded.

So much for the concept of the empty nest.  I’m learning it’s more like a revolving door!

What about you? What transitions are you making? Can you see it as a gain rather than a loss? 

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Loving Your Kids For Who They Are–Day 2 (and a giveaway!)

postereveryToday is Day 2 of the No More Perfect Kids Focus on the Family radio broadcast.  You can listen online, download the podcast, or catch the program on your local Christian radio station.  Listening to these broadcasts is a great way for you and your spouse to be on the same page with parenting.  I hope you’ll take some time to listen and then talk about the principles shared!

I also want to let you know that Dr. Kathy Koch and I are presenting a No More Perfect Kids seminar in the Chicago area on September 27.  This is a great opportunity for a 2014posterncweekend getaway to invest in yourselves as parents.  Mark and I found that conferences like these helped us blend our two very different upbringings into a parenting strategy we could agree upon.

We’re also both speaking at the November 7-8, North Central Hearts at Home Conference in Rochester, MN. We’d love for you to join us at one or both of those events!

Want to bring a No More Perfect Kids event to your area?  Or bring the No More Perfect message to your church’s next women’s event or retreat?  Just submit a speaking inquiry to get the ball rolling!

Did you listen to the program yesterday or today? I’d love to hear one thing that stuck with you from what we talked about in the broadcast!  Anyone who shares one takeaway from the broadcasts as a comment on today’s post will be entered to win a No More Perfect Moms book and DVD giveaway! Share your comment by midnight CST, Wednesday, Aug 20, to be entered into the book and DVD drawing!

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Love The Kids You Have, Not The Ones You Wish You Had

NoMorePerfectKids_COVWelcome Focus on the Family listeners! If you’ve dropped by here for the first time, please take a minute to introduce yourself!  

If you need some regular encouragement as a parent, I invite you to subscribe to receive my posts by email. That will also get you a FREE printable of I Corinthian’s 13 for Parents out of the No More Perfect Kids book.

While you’re here, you’ll want to hop over to the Hearts at Home site and the No More Perfect site where you’ll find all kinds of parenting resources including the FREE 13 Day No More Perfect Kids e-Challenge.

nmp13dayFor those of you who hang with me regularly here on the blog, today, tomorrow, and Wednesday Dr. Kathy Koch and I are talking about No More Perfect Kids on the Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast.  Today is Day 1 of three days of programming called “Loving Your Kids For Who They Are.

Here’s 3 minutes of parenting encouragement from Dr. Kathy Koch and I! (If you receive my posts by email and can’t see the video below, you can find it here.)

(Inside scoop: I made this video just two weeks after my second chemo treatment in February and yes…that’s a wig! I look back on that five hour day of video recording and stand amazed at how God got me through it!)

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Quote of the Week

Quote-of-the-Week pic “Love is a way of thinking.  Love is a way of behaving.  Love is a choice.”

                                                             ~Gary Chapman

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Successful Strategies for Managing School Papers

460438387It’s that time of the year again.

No matter whether you homeschool or send your kids to private or public school, the influx of papers has begun!

I’ve spent over 25 years managing school papers. Some years I fared better than others. Some strategies worked better than others. What I learned, however is that you have to match the strategy with what works best with your temperament and personality.

That’s right…there’s not one right way.  There are many right ways.  What you have to determine is what is the right way for YOU and YOUR FAMILY.

What’s most important, though, is that you have a strategy.  If not, you’ll get clutter. Clutter is the result of delayed decision-making.  So as we start the new school year, you have several options to choose from.  What strategy you choose NOW will help keep clutter at bay throughout the school year.

Here are a few options to consider. Which one resonates with you?

The Keep Everything Strategy–A friend recently shared her solution for managing the paper – don’t sort as you go; only sort at the end of the year. My friend gives each of her kids a box with their names on it and each time a paper comes home, she drops it in the appropriate box. At the end of the school year, she sorts through everything and keeps only the important stuff. It saves her time and sanity during the school year and, in the end, creates a keepsake of only her kids’ best work! (Plus it’s easier to throw things away after the sentiment wears off!)

The Throw Away Strategy–This strategy tosses most of the papers the kids bring home, keeping only occasional pictures/papers to put in their keepsake box or to post on the fridge for a few days.  Some moms who do this strategy will keep all papers for a week and sort through them every Saturday to protect their kids from bringing home papers only to see them tossed minutes later.

The Send Some To Grandma Strategy–This strategy consists of keeping a 9×12 envelope handy that you put some colored pictures or papers completed into the envelope each week and mail to grandma and grandpa once a month.  This keeps Grandma and Grandpa in the loop of what the child is learning and puts a smile on the child’s face when they visit Grandma and Grandpa and see their work displayed at their house.

The “Take a Picture” Strategy–This strategy keeps just one or two papers a month from your child’s schoolwork and takes a picture of the rest. One mom I know makes a small photobook of her child’s art for each school year. Another mom scans the artwork and creates her own Christmas cards and stationary from her kid’s school papers and art projects.

Whatever strategy you choose to use, the important thing is that you do three things:

1) Pre-decide how you’ll handle school papers by determining a strategy that works for you

2) Gather boxes, files, tubs, or whatever containers you will use to manage papers

3) Make your system easily accessible so you’ll actually use it every day

What about you?  Do you have another school paper management strategy that works for you?  What strategy do you use? 

Join the discussion by posting a comment!

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