Hope Multiplied

HAH2235 Hope MultipliedI remember the day well. I was knee deep in dishes and diapers, daydreaming about the teacher conferences I used to attend. I’d always return home filled with vision and new ideas for the classroom.  I needed that conference experience now, but not for teaching; I needed it for motherhood. Being totally honest with myself, I had to admit that I felt better prepared to be a music teacher which is what I went to college for, than to be a mother which I was doing nearly 24 hours a day.

I decided to share my frustration and my vision with my Mom2Mom group and I found I was not the only mom yearning for a continuing education opportunity. Others were excited about the possibility of “mom school.” After our church agreed to host the conference, we started planning our first event.  Expecting 500 moms from Central Illinois to attend, we were completely blown away when 1,100 moms from 10 states showed up! It was that day that I realized that what we intended as a one-time event for moms, God intended for something bigger. Much, much bigger.

Here we are 21 years later and Hearts at Home now produces conferences in Illinois and Minnesota as well as multiple events in Europe every year.  Our encouragement for moms has been expanded from just conferences to now include books, a free e-newsletter, an active Facebook page, this blog, and more!

1505598_10153312797081165_1662872285056857128_nHearts at Home brings hope to moms! 

However, we know we are not reaching every mom who needs this encouragement. We know there are moms who desperately need the continuing education we provide.  We know that moms in other parts of the United States need a conference they can drive to. We know that moms all over the world need a website where they can access “how to” info on the challenges of motherhood.

We are excited about a new conference location in 2016! We are excited about upcoming changes to our website! We are excited to offer scholarships to moms who need financial assistance to attend a Hearts at Home conference. And we are excited about a matching gift challenge a very generous donor has offered to help us do those things!

ECFA_Accredited_Final_CMYKBetween now and December 17, any gift given to Hearts at Home will be doubled! That means a $10 gift becomes $20. $50 becomes $100. $500 becomes $1000! We have never had an opportunity like this before.  And while we are a donor supported non-profit organization, you won’t hear us asking for money very often at all. In fact, this matching gift opportunity is a first for us in 21 years of ministry.

Mark and I have already given and so have our staff and many of our volunteers.  Our donor will match up to $100,000 and we’re nearly halfway to that goal!  But we can’t do it without you!

Has Hearts at Home encouraged you in any way? Has one of our books, a conference, or even this blog made a difference in your life?  Would you please share a tax-deductible gift that will be multiplied times 2? 

When you do, you multiply hope in more families! Thank you in advance for helping us reach more moms! 





Posted in Miscellany | Leave a comment

What Are You Thankful For In Your Marriage?

Thanksgiving is just four days away. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving, we often forget to stop and truly be thankful.

Since we usually devote Monday to marriage topics, it seems only right that we pause and express our gratitude for what we appreciate about our spouse.

Would you pick up a pen and paper or pick up your phone and text your spouse a handful of things you love about him or her?  Even if this is a hard season of marriage, pause and consider the good and express your gratefulness for it.

Don’t do it later.

Do it now. 

Remember that feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.

Give life-giving, encouraging, grateful words to your spouse today.

Posted in Marriage | 2 Comments

Quote of the Week

Quote-of-the-Week pic“The ultimate purpose of marriage is not to make us happy, but to glorify God.”

                                                                   ~ Nancy Leigh DeMoss

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Do You Love Your Personality?

Third-Thursday-ThoughtsFingerprints amaze me. There’s not one set of fingerprints like another.

I believe its evidence of an incredibly creative God!

Personalities are like fingerprints. There’s not one personality like another. We may share certain personality traits with other people in this world, but the way we are wired is unique to us.

Learning to love our personality requires us to understand it. Are you:

  • A thinker or a feeler?
  • An external processer or an internal processer?
  • An introvert or an extrovert?
  • Creative or Logical?
  • Strategic or Innovative?

There are no wrong answers. One is not better than another.  These personality/temperament traits just are.  They identify how God created you to operate in this world…and this world needs all of us and the beautiful diversity we bring.

I’m a thinker and my husband is a feeler. I’m an internal processor and my hubby is an external processor. You guessed it…I’m an introvert and Mark’s an extrovert. I’m logical and he’s creative and I’m strategic while he’s innovative. I think we’re evidence that opposites attract!

Understanding the way you’re wired helps you to be true to yourself. It also helps you celebrate who you are rather than lamenting who you are not, a principle I talk about quite a lot in No More Perfect Moms.

So what about you? Do you understand how you are uniquely wired? Do you love your personality?

Today is our Third Thursday Blog Hop. It’s an online moms group! Click on any of the links below to hear the thoughts of other moms on loving your personality!

Posted in Taking Care of Me | Leave a comment

These are a few of my favorite things!

Our new clean eating journey has us experimenting with new foods, new spices, and new ways of making some of our favorite recipes.  We’ve cut out refined sugars, GMO (genetically modified organism) foods, and artificial sweeteners, as well as reducing dairy and gluten. Most of the time we are primarily eating lean meats, fruits, and vegetables.

I’ve always heard that sugar cravings will decrease and I’ll admit the first month was hard but now I have very little craving for the sweet stuff.  I feel free (and I’ve lost a fair amount of weight—gotta love that)!

One of my favorite dairy foods is Greek yogurt.  Plain Greek yogurt is way too plain for me. I love flavored Greek Yogurt, but it’s always full of sugar.

olive oil 2Enter my newest favorite thing: infused olive oils and balsamic vinegars.

While I love vinegar for chemical free cleaning, I’ve never been a fan of vinegar as a food in any way!  However, infused balsamic vinegar is one of my new favorite things!

We’ve been using Fig Balsamic Vinegar and Persian Lime Olive Oil on our salads! The Fig Balsamic is INCREDIBLE!  We’ve also been popping our popcorn in butter infused olive oil and its amazing how buttery it tastes without the unhealthy melted hydrogenated butter poured over the top!

olive oil 1Then there’s the flavored Greek yogurt that I’ve been missing. I decided to give my new balsamic vinegar discovery a try. I purchased plain Greek yogurt, added Cherry Infused Balsamic Vinegar, a squirt of liquid stevia, and some fresh fruit like blueberries or strawberries.

Oh. My. Goodness!  So yummy! And so much more healthy than store-bought flavored yogurt!

My friend Traci is the one who introduced me to infused olive oils and balsamic vinegars! Her new store, The Olive Bin, is just a mile from my house. A little too convenient if you want to know the truth! (Even if you don’t live in Central Illinois, you can order online if you’d like to try something new!)

I’m loving experimenting with new ways to make some of my favorite things!

What about you? Do you have a clean eating recipe to share?  What about a yummy way to modify something you love in an effort to make it more healthy?  

Posted in In The Kitchen | 4 Comments

5 Questions To Plan Your Next Marriage Getaway

186407421The first date Mark and I took after becoming parents was when Anne was just a little less than a month old.  Because I was nursing, we could only go out for about two hours, but it was a break we both needed.

As we added kids, it wasn’t as easy to get away, but we planned regular times nonetheless. There were small overnights in our own home alone when there was very little extra money, there were weekend getaways on a meager budget, and every five years or so there were extended trips or times away.

niagaraYesterday we spent the day at Niagara Falls. It happened to be right on the way between a speaking engagement in Pennsylvania and a TV interview in Toronto, Canada.  We loved spending the day exploring somewhere we’d never been before!

What’s your plan for your next marriage getaway?  If you don’t have a plan, set one in place today.

Here are five questions for you and your spouse to ask yourself to make a plan for spending some time together in the near future:

What options do we have for childcare?
Is there another couple we can trade childcare with?  Are Grandma and Grandpa an option? What about an aunt or uncle?

What kind of budget do we have?

  • No budget? How about having the kids spend the night with Grandma and Grandpa or another couple you can trade with? Then spend the night in your own home alone!  You can also look at options for your own staycation.
  • Small budget? Use Priceline.com to bid on a room in your own city in the $50 price range. Split a meal when you eat out.
  • Budget isn’t an issue? Take a few days to discover a place you’ve always wanted to explore?

When would work best for us? 
It’s best to have a regular date on the calendar–something like the 4th Friday of every month or every other Thursday night.  This keeps marriage investment near the top of your priorities.

If you’re looking at something like an overnight, a weekend getaway, or a trip, set a date and then start planning (and saving, if needed)!

What would we want to do? 
Is there something we’ve always wanted to do? Does one or the other spouse have a hobby or an interest that they would love exploring in some way? Do we want to just relax or be active?

Do we have any upcoming business trip, family wedding, or other event that we could tack on a few days for a marriage getaway? 
Sometimes it works better for childcare and the budget to add on some time for two to another trip or event you’re already planning on attending.

What about you? What’s your plan to get some time away with your spouse? 

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Quote of the Week

Quote-of-the-Week pic“There are two gifts we should give our children; one is roots, the other is wings.”


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Give Yourself The Gift of a Chance

176984427November 13, 2013.

It’s a day I’ll never forget.

Most people who have received a diagnosis that changes their life remember the date the news was delivered. And the time. And the circumstances.

I was headed to the Hearts at Home office for a meeting I was supposed to lead. With my bluetooth earbud, I answered the call from my doctor’s office as I was driving. The moment she said, “Jill, are you alone?” I knew what she had to tell me.

I pulled over to the side of the road and told her that I was alone, but I needed her to tell me what she needed to tell me. The words, “you have breast cancer” reverberated in my ear. I don’t remember anything she said after that.

I never made it to the Hearts at Home office that day. Instead I called my husband who rushed towards home, and I promptly deposited myself on my friend, Crystal’s, doorstep. The minute she opened the door I melted into a puddle of tears.

The doctor’s office called back with more info, I told them to tell Crystal whatever I needed to know and handed the phone to her.

I was numb.

It’s been 365 days since that day. I’ve had a lumpectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation. I’ve been through genetic testing and my mom has researched the medical history of our extended family. My daughters will now be watched carefully by their doctors because of my diagnosis before the age of 50. Due to our genetic history (my aunt, mother, and grandmother are all survivors), one of my sisters has chosen to have a prophylactic double mastectomy and my other sister is considering the same. (My lumpectomy, chemo, and radiation reduced my chance of recurrence to 7% and my sister’s double mastectomy reduced her chance of occurrence to 7%.)

I’m one of the lucky ones who caught their cancer at stage 1. No lymph node involvement. If I would not have had triple negative breast cancer which is a rarer and more aggressive breast cancer, I would have been given a pass on the chemotherapy. However, I had to have the chemo because of my triple negative diagnosis. It’s the only way to treat triple negative breast cancer.

My cancer was found on my annual mammogram. I felt no lump. Never did. Nor did my doctor.

No matter how cancer is found, early detection makes all the difference in the world when it comes to prognosis.  The earlier the better.

  • If you are not doing monthly breast self exams, you need to start today.
  • If you have not made your “annual female appointment,” please do that today.
  • If you are 40 or older and you don’t have your annual mammogram scheduled, I’m asking you to do that now. Not in five minutes because you’ll be interrupted by kids in five minutes and you’ll forget to do it (yes, mommy ADHD does exist!)!

Early detection saves lives. No matter whether its a mammogram, a pap smear, or any other kind of screening.  I’m now 50 and I have my colonoscopy scheduled for next month!

You have to be proactive. You have to take your health seriously. No one else can do that for you.

Think of it as a stewardship principle. God gave you this body and He asks you to take care of it.

Do it for yourself. Do it for your husband. Do it for your kids.

In as much as it depends upon you, this holiday give yourself and your loved ones the gift of a chance.

Posted in My Cancer Journey | 1 Comment

Is Your Child Afraid Of You?

NoMorePerfectKids_COVToday’s post is from a mom who attended my No More Perfect Kids workshop this past weekend at the Hearts at Home conference.  There’s no better gift to an author or speaker than a letter from someone who has applied what you’ve taught and it’s made a difference!

In the workshop (and in the book), I shared 6 Dangers of Perfection Infection Parenting. One of those dangers hit home for her.

I asked her if I could share her letter with you and she agreed. I know she’s not alone in this and maybe another parent might see himself or herself in her story.


Dear Jill,

I have to share something that happened tonight with my 9 yr old.  We have been having trouble with him lying to us. Before I go further, let me just tell you that I’m a yeller.

Anyway, tonight, I caught him lying again. I asked him (not yelling, very calm and quietly) why he lied. He didn’t answer. I grounded him from all electronics, TV included, for the next day. Then I told him to go to bed.

I went downstairs and told my husband what happened. He proceeded to tell me that Nathaniel is afraid of me, and that he doesn’t tell me things because he is afraid of how I will react.

This instantly made me go back to your No More Perfect Kids seminar from this weekend at the Hearts at Home conference. Danger #4: Children [of perfectionist parents] will relate to parents from a perspective of fear. My baby is afraid of me. That hurts my heart.

I went upstairs and took him to my bedroom and we had a talk. He admitted that he is indeed afraid of me. We both cried. I told him I was sorry and asked his forgiveness. My baby, who was sitting next to me, crawled into my lap and clung to me as we cried some more. He also said he was sorry, and for the first time it wasn’t a forced apology or one that you have to hint for. He offered it freely.

I told him I was going to work really hard at not yelling so much, and I told him that if I started to scare him, to just say, “Mommy, are you working hard?” Just a phrase to remind me of what I promised to work hard to not do.  After a short prayer, we both wiped our tears away, and he headed off to bed.

Thank you so much for your ministry. It has truly blessed me this weekend.


I told this mom that I was really glad she wasn’t defensive when her husband told her what he did.  She said,  “I must admit that my first reaction was to be defensive, but I kept it to myself, and listened to what he had to say.”

We can not only learn from her story, but also from her response to her husband.  We need to throw defensiveness out the window because it doesn’t serve us well as parents or partners!

What about you?  In what way can you relate to this mom’s story?  Have you ever benefited from keeping defensiveness to yourself?

Posted in Parenting | 2 Comments

Remembering Our Veterans

L-R Aunt Jeanie, Uncle Junior, My Mammaw (Uncle Jr’s mom)

My Uncle Junior was a very handsome man.  Born Ezra, Jr. Fleener on February 29, 1924, he was called “Junior” from birth.  With a talent in woodworking, his furniture now has a prominent place in the homes of each member of my immediate family.

While academics were not his strong suit, he could do just about anything with his hands.  If he wasn’t woodworking, he could be found fixing something.  While in high school, he worked in the family-owned D-X Service Station in Mooresville, Indiana.  He later worked as a mechanic for TransAmerica Freight Lines.   Uncle Junior had a strong sense of humor that was often seen in his practical jokes.

I know my Uncle Junior only by the stories passed on by my father and my Aunt Jeannie.  When he was twenty years old, he was killed in World War II.

Uncle Junior graduated from high school in 1942.  He entered the Marines in the spring of 1943, when he was eighteen years old.  His job in the Marines was to drive an amphibious tractor, hauling personnel from the ship to the beachhead.  On July 21, 1944, while fighting a battle to re-take Guam, Uncle Junior was killed.  He dropped off his first load of marines on the beach, turned the tractor around, and was hit by a mortar shell.

This is the telegram that was delivered to my Mammaw and Pappaw.

My father was nine years old when his brother was killed.  While he remembers very little about his older brother, he vividly remembers when the telegram was delivered, informing the family of Junior’s death.  The scene is etched in his mind as he remembers the emotional devastation that followed.  The community responded with great emotion, as well.  By that time three or four other young men in the small town of Mooresville, Indiana, had been killed while on duty.

Four years later, when Dad was 13, a Marine accompanied Junior’s body from his temporary grave in Guam to his permanent resting place in Mooresville, IN.  A graveside service complete with a twenty-one-gun salute brought some closure to this terrible loss in their lives.

Uncle Junior gave his life for you and me.  He died protecting the freedom of our children and our grandchildren.  His story is just one of thousands of similar stories of sacrifice fighting for freedom.

My children will only know their Great-Uncle Junior through the stories I pass on to them.  They will only appreciate the freedoms in this country if my husband and I help them understand.

Today is Veteran’s Day, a day set aside to honor those who have served honorably and sacrificed as they served their country.  Don’t let today go by without talking to your kids about what Veteran’s Day really means.

Need a place to start?  Try some of these ideas:

  • If a family member served in the military, pull out a family picture album featuring their photos.  Place the album on a coffee table for the week to allow the family to look at the pictures and ask questions.
  • If you don’t know the family stories yourself, ask a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle to share with you and your kids.  Even if extended family live far away, a phone call can open the door to learning more about the serving experience of family members.
  • When sitting down for a family meal today, tell your children about Veterans Day.  Explain to them that the word “veteran” describes people who have served in the military in some way. Help them understand why it is important to honor those who have protected our freedom.
  • Visit the grave of a family member who died in the service.  Talk to your children about who they were and what they were like.  Place a small flag on the grave to show honor.
  • Talk with your kids about the five different branches of the military and what their unique roles are in protecting our country: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard.

As parents and grandparents, you and I play an important role in helping our children understand the unique country in which we live.  We have to share the stories from generation to generation.  Join me today in making this Veteran’s Day more than just a holiday on the calendar.

Posted in Parenting | 2 Comments