Quote of the Week

Quote-of-the-Week pic“God gave you 84,000 seconds today; have you used one of them to say ‘Thank you’?”  

                                                               ~William Arthur Ward

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A Mom’s Greatest Resource

WalkingWithGodIntheSeasonOfMotherhoodToday’s post is an excerpt from Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood by Melissa B. Kruger.  It’s a reminder that prayer is truly our greatest resource.

A mother of three, Melissa hails from Charlotte, North Carolina where she serves as the Women’s Ministry Coordinator.

You can find her online at melissabkruger.com.

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The sun is setting as the final inning begins. My ten-year-old son stands up to pitch. His team is up by two runs in their end-of-season tournament. As I watch him walk to the mound, my motherly heart wants to rescue him from the weight of expectations. So much is riding on him. My stomach is in knots as I watch his first pitch.

“Strike!” yells the umpire.

Melissa Kruger_WB_Kacey Rehg PhotographyI breathe a sigh of relief. Once again he takes the ball in his glove. Over and over he stands resolutely, sometimes throwing strikes, sometimes missing the mark.

All I can do is watch and pray.

As I sit on the sidelines, I realize anew that much of motherhood is about watching and praying. There is so little I can do to protect my children from the harmful realities of life. I cannot prevent skinned knees, unkind words, broken hearts, or painful losses. I can tend to the wounds and comfort the ache, but for the most part I am an observer on the sidelines, cheering them on as they play the game.

Thankfully, I am not left to watch alone, worried and anxious. In a moment my heart can turn to God in prayer and find peace for all that I cannot control. In his letter to the church at Philippi, Paul encourages us with these words:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6–7)

God listens as I pour out my requests on behalf of my children. What a relief to know I can take everything before the Lord in prayer. No request is too small or too great. From simple prayers, “Please, let him throw a strike,” to my heartfelt pleas, “May he make wise decisions,” I can carry my hopes and burdens to God. In every season of motherhood, I always have a friend to turn to as I watch my children grow.

As our children see us pray, they learn to pray themselves. When they are fearful (from monsters in the closet to social anxiety in middle school) praying together helps our children feel secure. Through prayer, our children realize that every gift is from God and we nurture a heart of thanksgiving in a give-it-to-me-now world.

In addition to building up our children, prayer nurtures an inner calm that protects and quiets my heart in the ups and downs of motherhood. God uses my prayers to work His plan and to give peace to my soul.

I can let go of my fears and enjoy the game.

“Strike!” yelled the umpire one last time. As he did, all the boys ran to the mound, high-fiving and celebrating their win. My son stood in their midst, wearing a radiant smile. If I had rescued him from the pressure of pitching, he would have missed the joy of victory. In the maze of motherhood, I cannot always see around the bend to know what is best. How thankful I am that I can turn my concerns over to God, trusting Him with what I can’t control.

What about you? What is weighing heavy on your heart? What are you anxious about that you need to talk to God about today? 

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Marriage Monday: When Illness Hits

Marriage-MondayJill says:
Last weekend on the Thursday before Hearts at Home, Mark started feeling ill. He made it through half of the Friday conference and then headed home sick. He didn’t feel back to normal until Monday morning.

This weekend it was my turn. My queasiness hit it’s peak Sunday afternoon.

Mark says:
Within the span of one week we’re once again reminded of our differences. When I’m sick, I want to be left alone. When Jill is sick, she wants to be tended to.

We are SO DIFFERENT!

Jill says:
The worst thing a married couple can do is assume the other person wants what you would want in a certain situation. Instead of imposing our likes and dislikes on our spouse, we have to seek to understand their likes and dislikes when they are feeling under the weather.

Mark says:
A great time to talk about this is when you’re both healthy.  There’s nothing worse than having unmet expectations when you’re already not feeling well!

Jill says:
If you don’t already know the answers to these questions, take some time to get to know one another’s preferences:

  • When you are sick, do you want me to anticipate your needs like getting medication, making meals, etc?
  • When you don’t feel well, do you want to be left alone and trust that if you need something, you’ll let me know?
  • Do you want me to rub your feet, rub your back, or comfort you in any way, when you’re not feeling well?
  • Do you want me to just take care of myself and let you take care of yourself, when you’re under the weather?

What about you? What do you prefer when you’re sick? What about your spouse? 

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Quote of the Week

Quote-of-the-Week pic“We’re all starving for grace, and at the same time, withholding that same grace from each other.”        

                                                        ~Christy Wright

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The Power To Be Yourself

Third-Thursday-Thoughts (1)This past weekend over 5,200 moms attended the Hearts at Home conference in Normal, Illinois. It was an incredible weekend that filled me up in so many ways!

Our theme WOW MOM! UNLEASH YOUR SUPERPOWER was so fun! So many mommas in capes and creative t-shirts!

You know we all do wear a cape of sort. We have superstrengths that belong to only us. However, like Peter Parker or Clark Kent, too many of us are trapped in our secret identity and we have yet to discover our own superhero role.  Or we may easily see the superstrengths of another mom yet unable to see our own superpowers.

capesOne of the things I reminded the moms this past weekend is that being a mom is hard, but being a mom who’s trying to wear someone else’s cape is even harder.

You and I need to understand that and stop trying to be anyone other than who God designed us to be.

When I think of who I am:

  • I’m not a Pinterest mom and that’s okay.
  • I’m not a crafty mom and that’s okay.
  • I’m okay with paper piles and that’s okay.
  • I need quiet to be refueled and that’s okay.
  • I’m a thinker and that’s okay.
  • I’m a God-girl and that’s okay.

So today’s Third Thursday Blog Hop is a call to authenticity. A call to be uniquely you.  You have the power to BE YOURSELF!

Hop around and find the encouragement you need today to BE YOURSELF!

Posted in Taking Care of Me | 1 Comment

Quote of the Week

Quote-of-the-Week pic“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”  

                                                                     ~Charles  M. Schulz

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Peanut Butter Playdough

480350665Now that we have a two-year-old in the house, we’re always looking for fun activities to keep her busy. This edible playdough is a recipe I made for my kids many years ago.

It’s easy to make and easy to cleanup! When you tell the kids they can eat it, that’s the best part!

 

Peanut Butter Playdough

1 cup honey

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1 1/2 – 2 ¼ cups powdered milk

Mix honey and peanut butter. Add powdered milk, using more or less to achieve desired consistency. Knead until mixed thoroughly. Store in Ziplock bag in refrigerator.

Have fun!

Posted in In The Kitchen, Parenting | 1 Comment

Marriage Monday: Handling Stress

Marriage-MondayJill says: This coming weekend is the National Hearts at Home Conference and that means there’s a lot happening at the Savage this week.

Mark says: We’ve been doing this for 22 years, so we’ve learned a few things about managing the stress that is a natural part of such a big event.


Jill says:
With over 5,000 moms in attendance, my incredible team of leaders is busy with all the conference preparations. I’m still putting the finishing touches on my messages. At home, we’re also preparing for a house full of family who come in to both help and attend the conference.

While you may not have to deal with the stress of producing a large conference, every couple has moments of life where stress will happen.  One of the things a married couple can do is anticipate the stresses and have a plan to work through them.

2015-Poster-ConfBothMark says: I’ve learned to adjust my expectations of Jill during conference week.  She has dozens of things on her mind.  This is a week that I need to be okay with not getting her full attention. And it’s likely not a week for any sexpectations. Knowing I’m a priority during the rest of the year, gives me the ability to give grace and space during crazy weeks like this.

Jill says: And I’ve learned to ask for what I need.  My family can’t read my mind and they don’t see things around the house that I see that need to be done.  What bugs me (my feet are sticking to the kitchen floor!) doesn’t phase those who live with me. If I need their help, I have to ask for it…with words!

Mark says: I’ve also learned that this is a great week for me to have a servant heart. I will not only serve at the conference site, but I also need to serve at home. Keeping up with laundry, running the vacuum, and helping to make beds for guests are all things I can do to take some weight off Jill’s shoulders.

Jill says: Mark’s great to help out at home on a regular basis and I’m so appreciative of that. But on conference week I’m double appreciative!  His servant heart really makes a difference for me and reduces the stress so much!

I’ve learned to let things go too.  I might want a different level of a “clean house” than is realistic for this week. There are some things that around the house will just have to be “good enough.”

Mark says: Not all stress can be anticipated and planned for, but when you can look at the calendar and think ahead about handling crazy seasons well, it is a gift you can give your marriage!

What about you? What strategies do you use to manage stressful seasons in your relationship? 

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Quote of the Week

Quote-of-the-Week pic“Too many people undervalue what they are and overvalue what they aren’t.”

                                                              ~Unknown

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Talking…praying…and crying

Marriage-MondayIt was a hard weekend at the Savage household.  Initially Mark and I enjoyed a wonderful Friday and Saturday encouraging a group of women in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. What a wonderful group of ladies!

On the way home, however, life got hard.  I’ve shared before about our son’s struggle with mental illness. I’ve shared that with his permission.  Sometimes he’s up and sometimes he’s down.  It’s a roller-coaster ride for sure.

This weekend he spiraled to a new low.

And it’s hard.

Mark and I had to make some hard decisions in order to protect ourselves, our home, and the other members of our family.

We talked, talked, talked, prayed, talked, prayed, prayed, prayed, talked, cried, prayed, and prayed some more.

But we did it together.

We listened to each other. Disagreed at times. But worked together to come out with one voice.

Life is hard.

What are you navigating together as a couple?  Keep talking, praying, and crying when needed.  Cling to each other and cling to God.  God sees your heartache. His strength will carry you.  And his hope will move you forward.

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Quote of the Week

Quote-of-the-Week pic“To accept grace is to accept the vow to give it.”

                                                                       ~Max Lucado

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Mommy Guilt

Several summers ago, I served on the staff of the Proverbs 31 She Speaks Conference, a wonderful conference for women who want to step into writing and speaking.  In addition to leading some workshops, I had the privilege of serving as a speaking coach for a group of wonderful women who wanted to improve their speaking skills.

hithereIt was there that I met Kathy Helgemo. Kathy had come to the conference with a a message to share and a book on her heart.  Last month her dream came true as she and her blogging partner Melinda Means published their first book, Mothering From Scratch: Finding the Best Parenting Style for You and Your Family.  These two ladies began as bloggers over at MotheringFromScratch.com and have now stepped into the writing and speaking arena.

I love their book and I asked them if I could share an excerpt with you.  They said yes….and they offered to give away a book!  (Instructions for entering the giveaway below!)

Enjoy!

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How Do We Slice and Dice Mommy Guilt?

Let’s cut to the chase: Mommy guilt is a liar. It tells us that if only we had made all the right choices and done everything perfectly, we would’ve been able to produce all the right outcomes. It tells us that if we’ll only try harder, the internal struggle will stop. Unfortunately, it’s a false, misleading trap.

No matter how hard we’re trying, mommy guilt pushes us into thinking we could and should be trying harder. It pelts us with accusing thoughts like Why can’t I do this better? Why are everyone’s kids more well-behaved than mine? What am I doing wrong? What am I missing? If I would’ve just started earlier, my kids wouldn’t be making these choices.

Mommy guilt stems from an illusion that we’re ultimately in control. Yes, we can guide and influence our children. But from the time they’re very small, they’re making their own choices.

Melinda:

For years, I lived under a cloud of mommy condemnation. I never felt like I was enough. At the same time, I had this misguided notion that all outcomes, good or bad, were the direct result of my actions. If only I could do more for my children, be more for them, get it all right, they’d be perpetually happy and compliant. I believed that their displeasure at any given moment could somehow be traced back to my failure. I provided too much indulgence, too many second chances, and not enough responsibility.

Ironically, I didn’t see these behaviors as unhealthy or enabling. I was just trying to be a good mom and apparently failing badly. I always believed that it wasn’t my approach that was badly flawed. It was me.

The “aha!” moment, the one that put me on the path to change and acceptance of God’s grace, began with a question. Several years ago, my sister was visiting from out of town. After a couple of days, she looked at me and said simply, “Why are you still pouring Micah’s cereal?” It was as if I’d been struck by lightning. Yes, why was I pouring my very capable, able-bodied, nearly preteen boy’s cereal? Somehow that question opened my eyes to a host of other ways I was enabling my kids. Did I truly want to do what was best for my kids? Well, it wasn’t pouring their cereal until they were in college. In that moment, it was as if Jesus simply said to my heart, “I was waiting for you to realize this, child.”

Five years later, I’m still on that journey, propelled each day by His gentle conviction to make adjustments and always covered by His boundless grace.

We can’t control what has happened in the past. Yet we try to console ourselves into thinking that “this” will make up for “that.” Doesn’t that ignore that He has cast our sins “as far as the east is from the west”? (Psalm 103:12). Jesus died for freedom from mommy guilt, too.

Kathy:

I experienced traumatic postpartum depression after the births of my children. Could I have prevented it? Why didn’t I get treatment earlier? What damage did I do to my children because I was untreated and muddling through motherhood?

Those feelings of condemnation led to emotional and physical isolation, refusing to ask for real help (at least not for more than a frozen lasagna), and wallowing in overall self-pity.

When I finally sought active treatment through therapy and medication, the grip that depression had over my mothering loosened. God granted me the conviction that He entrusted these children to me. I had to get well. I couldn’t stay in some dark place in my mind because I was ashamed of how I felt about mothering. There was no overnight healing. God placed people in my life, mostly my dear husband, who challenged me to treat the real problem: the depression.

We can’t go back and change history. The “if onlys” and “I should haves” aren’t productive change agents. With God’s help, we can break out of our paralysis and take concrete steps to act on our convictions now. Here’ s how:

Ask yourself about regret. Here’s a strategy: Ask yourself, “What do I need to do now in order to look back on this time with no regrets?” You don’t want to look back ten years from now, or even one day from now, and want a redo.

Seek support. Neither of us did nearly enough of this, especially as moms of young children, when we were so susceptible to isolation and feelings of insecurity.

Start with one. This helps when we’re overwhelmed by too many areas we want to change at once. For example, maybe we want to undo some enabling behaviors with our children. We can start by asking them to pack their own lunches. The idea is to start somewhere, no matter how small.

Where’s the Sweetness in Imperfection?

If we were perfect mothers, we’d be insufferable. We’d lack compassion and be fooled into thinking we have no need for God or each other.

Our children need to observe a mother who regularly accepts God’s grace and forgiveness and offers them the same. Romans 8:28 promises us, “In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” The mistakes we’ve made, the ways we feel we’ve fallen short, are part of our children’s journeys and can be redeemed by their heavenly Father. We’re going to fail them. Guaranteed. That’s why we have to keep pointing them toward Jesus, who never will.

What about you? How have you battled mommy guilt? How have you found your imperfections to actually be helpful in some way?  

If you’d like to enter to win a copy of Kathy and Melinda’s book, comment on this post by answering one of the above questions or sharing why you’d like a copy of this book! 

Posted in Miscellany, Taking Care of Me | 11 Comments

Marriage Monday: Staying in Touch

Marriage-MondayJill says: One of the beautiful things about the empty nest season is that Mark and I have the freedom to travel together more often than in the past.  Since I do quite a bit of speaking both in and out-of-state, it’s great to have Mark accompany me whenever possible.

Mark says: This past weekend Jill’s dad and I moved our son, Nicolai, from Oklahoma City back to our home in Illinois. While in Oklahoma, we also helped Jill’s sister with some home projects. This made it a four-day trip. In a switch of roles, I did the traveling this time and Jill stayed home.

Jill says: I don’t have the same need Mark has for staying in touch when we’re apart. I’d be fine with one phone call a day to connect. That’s the independent likes-her-personal-space girl in me.

Mark says: I, however, like to stay in touch throughout the day.  I enjoy texting, sharing pictures of the projects we’re working on, and chatting when we can.

Jill says: While I don’t “need” the same amount of connection Mark desires, I have learned to appreciate the result of more intentional contact when we’re apart.  We don’t have as much “debriefing” when one of us gets home as we do when we don’t stay as connected.

Mark says: When the kids were younger and one of us traveled, we would usually plan a “re-entry” date within the first 24 hours home.  This allowed the parent at home to catch the traveling parent up on the good, bad, and ugly that happened at home while he/she was gone.  We also found that it helped us reconnect sexually because we first reconnected emotionally.

photoJill says: We’ve also found a couple of smartphone apps that have been fun to use to stay connected with each other throughout the day.  One is the Bitmoji app which allows you to create a cartoon version of yourself. Once you create your cartoon, there are dozens of messages you can share through texting.

We also enjoy using the Couple App.  It’s not only where we keep a shared shopping list, but it’s also a place we can send videos, written messages, stickers, and even draw a picture and share it with one another.

What about you? What are some creative ways you stay in touch when you and your spouse are apart? 

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