Quote of the Week

Quote-of-the-Week pic“Life is lived forward, but understood backward. It is not until we are down the road and we stand on the mountain looking back through the valley that we can appreciate the terrain God has allowed us to scale.”


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The Power of Purpose

Third-Thursday-ThoughtsI remember the day well.

I’d just found out I was pregnant with our third baby.

I’d been a stay-at-home mom for five years but the plan was for me to use my music education degree as soon as child number 2 entered school. That was just a couple of years away and I was beginning to anticipate the classroom that awaited me!

When the stick turned blue, I realized it would likely be another six or more years before I’d be able to pursue teaching again.

“God, when can I use my degree?  When can I actually be in a classroom?  That’s all I’ve dreamed of for years!”

It was a cry.

A lament.

Okay, I admit it. I was whining.

But God responded to my whine. The response wasn’t an audible voice, but rather a knowing in my heart of God’s answer to my question.

Jill, I want you consider what you do everyday as a mom as your profession. You are using your degree. You’re just applying it to a different job. 

Motherhood as my profession?  I’d never once considered that.

That moment was a turning point for me. I had a fresh vision, a new understanding, and a renewed resolve.

From that day forward, I experienced the power of purpose.

Every day I got up with an excitement to lead my kids intentionally. Not just “take care of them” but invest in them purposefully. I yearned to learn more about being an intentional mom. I read books, started a moms group, and eventually started Hearts at Home, an organization that have been providing continuing education for moms for over 20 years!

bookprofmotherhoodThe vision of motherhood being a valid profession became so strong for me and for the Hearts at Home ministry that our first book was called Professionalizing Motherhood.

When you and I have a sense of purpose, we become more intentional in everything we do.

And that’s the power of purpose!

Today other moms are sharing about “loving your purpose” in our Third Thursday Blog Hop! Find inspiration and a clearer sense of your purpose by “hopping” around to our Hearts at Home Bloggers!  (If you get my posts by email, you can find the links to the Blog Hop posts here!)

What about you? How have you experienced the power of purpose in your life? 

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It’s a Facebook Party!

Love Your Life 2014 NCWhat do Dr. Kathy Koch, Sally Baucke, Crystal Paine, Dr. Todd Cartmell, Julie Barnhill, Linda Dillow, Kendra Smiley, Dr. Juli Slattery, and Angela Thomas all have in common?

They (and many others!) are all going to be speaking at the November 7-8, Hearts at Home conference in Rochester, MN and you don’t want to miss it!

buttonregisterBest Value Registration ends next Wednesday, Oct 22, so now is the time to register! (Do you know of a mom who needs to know about this? Pass it on to her please!)

Here are just a few of the workshops you’ll find at the conference:

  • Keep The Siblings, Lose The Rivalry
  • Raising Flexible Kids
  • The Strong-Willed Wife
  • Intentional Parenting
  • No More Perfect Kids
  • How To Turn Your Marriage Into The One You’ve Always Wanted
  • Winning The Battle In Your Mind
  • Calm My Anxious Heart
  • How To Cut Your Grocery Bill In Half
  • Recipe For A Positive Attitude

…and many more!

downloadIn preparation for the upcoming conference, Hearts at Home is hosting a Facebook party tomorrow night (Thursday, Oct 16, 8-9pm CST) and Dr. Kathy Koch and I will be joining the fun! It’s free, filled with giveaways, and you can sign up online!  Best of all, you can join the fun in your jammies!

If you went to the National Hearts at Home conference, what were your favorite parts of the conference?  If you are signed up to go to the North Central conference, what are you most looking forward to? 

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Is There Really Sex After Kids?

187912688Sex…I could go the rest of my life without it!” I said to my husband, Mark, as we drove up to the bed-and-breakfast we had reserved for a two-day getaway. “I have no desire. I’m so tired, and I can’t seem to ever meet your needs!” After spending the past four years either pregnant or nursing, I couldn’t even remember what it was like to be a lover. Read more…

Today’s Marriage Monday is over on the Focus on the Family”s Thriving Family site. If you’re having trouble moving from making meatloaf to making love, click over and find encouragement! Then hop back over here and join the discussion! 

By the way, I wrote an entire book on this subject. It’s now out of print but you can still find it on used book sites!

What about you? What has helped you move sex from a task to a treat? 

Posted in Marriage | 1 Comment

Quote of the Week

Quote-of-the-Week pic“You may not be in an ideal situation, but you have an ideal God!”

                                                                             ~Dr. Tony Evans

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todd cartmellToday’s guest post is from Dr. Todd Cartmell, a speaker at our upcoming 2014 Hearts at Home North Central Conference!  

buttonregisterYou don’t want to miss Dr. Cartmell, Dr. Kathy Koch, Crystal Paine (aka Money Saving Mom) Angela Thomas, and dozens of other incredible speakers who are coming together in Rochester, MN, November 7-8!

If you live in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, and even Nebraska and parts of Canada, this conference is perfect for you! Grab some girlfriends, your sister or sister-in-law and make a girl’s getaway weekend of it!

Back to Dr.Todd….He’s a full-time child psychologist in Wheaton, Illinois and the author of several parenting books, including Raising Flexible Kids (ebook); Project DadRespectful Kids; and Keep the Siblings, Lose the Rivalry.

Most importantly, Todd and his wife, Lora, have two children and live in Geneva, Illinois. You can read Dr. Todd’s parenting blog at www.drtodd.net.


This blog could just as easily be titled, “I hate this game!”


Because these are the things kids say when they struggle with what has come to be referred to as being a “good sport.”  In other words, they would love any game if they always won.

Not likely to happen.

Most kids struggle with being a good sport at least a time or two at some point in their lives, but are generally able to put their losses into perspective and realize that no one wins them all.  Some kids, however, find losing a game (any kind of game) to be a major stumbling block and can become quite unfriendly, and even downright disrespectful, when they realize that they have come up short on the scoreboard.

If you are a parent of that child, this blog is for you.

The key ingredient that is missing for the “poor sport,” is flexible thinking.  This is the ability to look at the situation in a flexible way that immediately puts it into a healthy and balanced perspective.  This keeps a person’s emotions in the right zone, which helps their response be friendly and respectful.  Instead, our “poor sport” is momentarily taken hostage by mad thinking, as illustrated below:

SITUATION:  Johnny loses a game of checkers.

MAD THOUGHTS:  I hate this game.  I always lose.  He (whoever just won) cheated! 


BEHAVIOR:  Sulks, argues, refuses to help clean up, throws game pieces, does not congratulate the winner.

RESULT:  Could earn a negative consequence and is not likely to be asked to play checkers again any time soon.

It is easy to see how mad thinking, and the behavior that follows, can impact not only home relationships, but relationships in school and extra-curricular activities as well.

If this sounds all too familiar, the solution is to help your child learn to be flexible in these situations.  One simple step that will get you moving in the right direction is to make a short list of “flexible thoughts” for your child to memorize.  You can customize the flexible thoughts for situations that involve games, sports, or any type of activity where your child could “lose.”  For example, your list could include:

  • It’s no big deal
  • I tried my best.
  • No one wins all the time.
  • Maybe we will win next time.
  • You win some, you lose some.
  • Even though I lost, it was still fun.
  • Maybe I should practice more.
  • I should say, “Good game.”

Sit down with your child and, depending on his or her age, choose 3-5 of these “Good Sport Flexible Thoughts” and write them down on a piece of paper.  Feel free to change the wording or come up with your own.  Once you have your list, say them together several times until your child has them memorized.

Love Your Life 2014 NCThen, when your child is about to begin a game or sporting event, gently remind her to have fun, do her best, and to use her flexible thoughts if she (or her team) loses.  Quickly review a couple of her favorite flexible thoughts to make sure they are fresh in her mind.

As your child begins to use her flexible thoughts during games, sports, and other activities, she will find it easier to respond in a gracious and friendly way when she happens to lose.  This in turn, will have a positive effect on her friendships and she will feel proud of herself for learning how to handle these situations that used to give her a run for her money.

She will be experiencing something that I tell kids in my office on a regular basis:  Flexible thinking makes your fun go up!

Here are the steps again:

1)  Make a list of flexible thoughts with your child.

2)  Help your child memorize them.

3)  Remind your child “on-the-spot” to use them.

Then, watch what happens!

What about you? What strategies have you used to help your kids learn to be good sports?  Join the discussion here

Posted in Parenting | 2 Comments

Five Steps To Hear The Heart of Your Spouse

460762889 (1)In August, I attended the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit and heard an excellent session by Joseph Grenny, one of the authors of Crucial Conversations.

While the session had wonderful takeaways for leadership conversations, I couldn’t help thinking that it had incredible implications for marriage conversations.  Because of that, Mark and I are getting ready to go through the book together with a marriage lens.

As we look at some of the communication patterns that put us in a marriage crisis several years ago, our listening skills were one place that needed a major overhaul. Our counselor helped us to see how we were not hearing one another.

We found we were listening to defend rather than listening to understand.  This resulted in not hearing one another’s heart.

It’s a common challenge for couples. Just this week I got a note from a mom who said that her husband is a pastor who doesn’t know how to say no.  She said that she has talked to him about how she feels like a single mom but he doesn’t think it’s that big of a problem.

She’s talking but he’s not listening.

Need to get serious about hearing the heart of your spouse? Here are five steps to better listening:

1) Listen to learn.  Rather than preparing your rebuttal, ask more questions to gain an understanding of his or her struggles, emotions, and thoughts.  You might respond with “Keep talking…” or “And…..?” or “Tell me more.”

2) Mirror back. Instead of arguing or disagreeing, simply mirror back the words he or she has spoken.  You might start with “What I hear you saying is….”  It doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree, it just matters that you let your spouse know you have heard him or her. Make sure you are being a safe person for your spouse to share with. Safe people don’t defend, they listen to hear.

3) Take time. If your spouse communicates something to you, hear him or her out and consider waiting for 24 hours to respond with your own thoughts.  You might respond with, “Thank you for sharing that with me. Let me think on that and pray about it and I’ll let you know my thoughts tomorrow.

4) Resist the urge to protect yourself. We protect to save face, avoid embarrassment, win the argument, to be right, and even to punish others. None of these are Christ-like responses and they will not move your marriage forward.  Both Mark and I had become experts at protecting ourselves and our interests and in doing so we weren’t helping each other or our marriage.

5) Respond with empathy, compassion, and humility. If you did something wrong, apologize and ask for forgiveness.  If your spouse is communicating a concern about your relationship, don’t disregard their perspective even if you don’t see it.  Keep asking questions to understand. In the Crucial Conversations book this is called contributing to “the pool of shared meaning.”  The goal is to keep the dialogue flowing into the pool of shared meaning until you understand each other’s perspectives and can come to way to resolve whatever you’re talking about.

What about you? Regardless of how your spouse does or does not listen, what changes do you need to make? Do you need to be a safer person for your spouse to talk with? Need to be more empathetic? Do you need to stop protecting?

Today is a great day to start hearing the heart of your spouse.

Posted in Marriage | 4 Comments

Quote of the Week

Quote-of-the-Week pic“Worry and worship cannot exist in the same space. One always displaces the other. Choose worship.”

                                                                                     ~Louie Giglio

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And it’s curly!

So many of you have walked through my breast cancer journey with me.  I am so grateful for your prayers, your encouraging words, and your efforts to cheer me on on the hard days!

I’m feeling more like myself every day.  Mark and I are eating clean (no preservatives, GMO’s, enriched/refined foods), I’m keeping my weight down, and I’ve started exercising again.

Those were my three assignments from my oncologist: 1) eat nutritionally healthy food, 2) keep my weight down, 3) exercise regularly.  I’m being as obedient as I can be!

The fun part of this season of recovery is my hair!  My hair is coming in so curly! I haven’t had it cut at all since it’s been coming in so I just had to share a pic with you of the “Before–During–After” hair transformation!


Now how fun is that?!

Posted in Miscellany | 5 Comments

How To Leave Well

79167807As a former pastor’s wife, I’ve wanted for a long time to write a post titled “How To Leave A Church Well.”  When I look back on our 20+ years of church ministry, the biggest pain points were connected to people leaving the church.

It wasn’t that they actually left.  It was HOW they left.

Church leaders know that people will come and people will go. They expect that to happen to a certain extent.

What no heart can be prepared for is the crickets. You know the silent slip out the door without as much as a thank you.

Thank you for dropping everything and coming to the hospital when our son was in his accident.

Thank you for meeting with me weekly when my wife left.

Thank you for the marriage counseling you and your wife provided when we were in a crisis.

Thank you for organizing meals when I went through my cancer journey. 

No ministry couple gives to get. When you go into ministry, you know that serving is what is needed.  However, you’re human and you are touched positively and negatively by the actions of others.

Please, if you’re going to leave a church that has made any investment in your life, take time to thank those who invested in you and let them know personally of your decision to attend elsewhere.

You won’t hurt them more by having the conversation.  You’ll hurt them more by NOT having the conversation.

My friend, Angie Reedy, recently wrote about the topic of leaving well. Her words express my feelings well and they were written to encourage all of us to leave well, in general.

Do you need to move on in some area of your life? May Angie’s words give you additional direction for how to leave a positive lasting impression.

Angie 3_2012If first impressions matter, then last ones do too.

I’ve spent hours planning a first day of work outfit, deciding what to say when meeting someone for the first time, or memorizing the right descriptors I’ll use to introduce myself. A smart suit. A warm smile. A witty response. All good for the firsts.

But what about the last? The last impression is just as important because it’s based on so much more than outer appearances. It’s about grace, character, and leaving a good reputation.

It’s important to stick with our commitments, be someone to count on, and not take the easy way out. But we change and life circumstances change. Through all of the changes, our commitments evolve and sometimes it become obvious that the time to move on to a new season is now.

So how do we graciously stop doing something that we’ve always done? Let’s start with these:

  1. Be truthful about the reasons for leaving. Easy if you’re moving out of town. More difficult for most everything else. If you’re leaving for a less than positive reason, don’t lie. Don’t make up an excuse. Your friends are smart and they’ll see right through it. Affirm the good things about the group, but state a careful explanation about why it’s time for a change.
  2. Be kind. Once the decision to leave is made, it’s not time to bombard the group with a million ways they could be better. Be respectful to the group and affirm support of each individual in their involvement in the group.
  3. Be available. Especially if your leaving will create a vacancy in a leadership position, offer to meet with your successor. Document helpful tips of wisdom you have gleaned in the position.
  4. Keep in touch. Leaving a group doesn’t mean friendships with individuals need to end. Maybe there will be just one or two people to remain in contact with. Make specific effort to exchange contact information with them. Then be the one to initiate a friendship outside of the group.

These ideas are certainly not the easy way out.  It would be less painful to simply turn and walk the other way. But the easy way out is hardly ever the right way out. Put in the extra effort and challenge to leave a good last impression.

What about you? Would you add any other suggestions to what Angie and I have shared?

Posted in Faith, Taking Care of Me | 7 Comments