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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Remember it’s the age…not the personality.

Last week my daughter was at the grocery store with her two-year-old daughter.  Erica had been battling Marie to stay seated in the cart.  Determined to win this battle, Erica stopped in the middle of one the aisles and re-seated Marie once again.

When she turned her attention back to her shopping, she realized that she had been blocking the aisle and someone was waiting for her to move.

Erica quickly apologized and moved aside.  As the lady passed her she said, “I’ve been there, too. Remember it’s her age, not her personality.”  Erica later shared with me how much she appreciated those words in that crazy moment.

NoMorePerfectKids_COVI agree with Erica: what a beautiful statement that brought important perspective and encouragement to Erica in her frustration as a mom!  I’m believing that lady said that because she’s read No More Perfect Kids! The heart of that book is that our kids are in process and that we often expect more than what their age can produce! (Okay, I have no idea if she’s read the book, but I can smile at the possibility, can’t I?)

I also love how this mom delivered her encouragement.  First she offered empathy.  She put herself in Erica’s shoes and said “I understand” with her words.  Second, she offered wisdom.  Hard-earned wisdom from a mom who’s been there and has 20/20 hindsight.

Finally, I love the beauty of her wisdom.  Too often we label our kids in their frustration with words like “strong-willed,” “stubborn,” “needy,” or “whiney.”  What if, instead of labeling them with those kind of descriptive words, we simply said, “She’s so 2.” or “He’s so 17.”?  If we can do that, we’ll adjust our expectations and increase our compassion.

I’m willing to commit to no labels other than age this week!  Will you join me?

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Six Reasons I Love Online Savings Accounts

142088184Several years ago I discovered something that transformed the saving habits of our family: online savings accounts.

Initially I was drawn to the accounts because their interest rates were better than any brick and mortar bank.

However, now I’m sold on them because they have transformed the way Mark and I manage our money and how we have taught our kids to manage their money.  We use for our accounts, but there are many options available these days.

Here are six reasons why I love using online savings accounts:

1) The accounts are easy to open.  I can open an account online in a matter of minutes.  When I have a new category I want to save for, I simply open a new account online.

2) The money is accessible, but not too accessible.  It usually takes 3 days to transfer the money from one of our online accounts to our primary brick and mortar bank account that we use.  This keeps the temptation at bay to tap into the money for everyday spending.  It’s kind of “out of sight, out of mind.”

3) You can have as many accounts as you like.  Currently Mark and I have 8 Savings Accounts: Emergency Savings, Vacation, Self-Employment Income Taxes, Future Car Fund, Property Taxes, Christmas, Special House Projects, and Medical.  I prefer this to having one savings account that is used for saving towards multiple goals.

4) Multiple accounts help teens learn to manage their money.  We’ve taught our kids to manage their money by using a paycheck worksheet.  Each time they get a paycheck they divide the money up based upon pre-determined amounts or percentages for what they need money for now or in the future. In addition to his primary brick and mortar account, our youngest has four online accounts: Million Dollar Account (This is the beginning of learning to invest–when it gets to be $500, it’s put in a mutual fund), College, Christmas, and Music Gear (because that’s important to him!).  Every paycheck, after he tithes and pays for his phone, he deposits some percentage into each of those accounts.  (For a sample paycheck worksheet, check out my free Financial Notebook for Parents and Teens.  It’s an accompanying resource for the Got Teens?: Time-Tested Answers for Moms of Teens and Tweens book.)

5) It’s easy to set up recurring transfers so you automatically save without having to think about it. Most of our savings accounts are growing because we have the deposits automated.  Determined by our budget, most of the accounts have preset amounts that are moved automatically within a day or two of payday. Sometimes the preset amounts aren’t alot, but over time they add up.

For instance, when I had all five kids at home, August was a budget buster for us with school fees, back to school supplies, and school clothes.  I usually needed about $1000 just to get everyone back to school.  One September, I set up a new savings account that I called “Back to School.”  Since we got paid every other week, I set up an auto transfer for $40 of every paycheck to go to the “Back to School” account.  The next August, I had my $1000 (25 paychecks) cash to use for back to school and August never again was a budget buster for us.

living with less cover with black edgeIf you set up accounts like this, don’t forget to set one up for attending the Hearts at Home conference once a year!  If you save a little out of each paycheck, it makes it much easier to go! Just $5 out of a bi-weekly paycheck from one conference to the next will cover your conference registration and give you a little spending money!

6) It’s fun to watch your money grow. We’ve learned that money can grow even when you’re only throwing small, but regular deposits into the accounts. We’ve never made more than an average middle-income budget. With seven members in our family, money has always been tight. However, the more we used the “paycheck worksheet” strategy in our family’s budget, the better we were at being good stewards of the money God gave us.

What about you? What strategies do you use to save? 


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Quote of the Week

Quote-of-the-Week pic “I choose gentleness… Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.”

                                                                  ~Max Lucado

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4 Easy Steps To Teach Your Kids How To Respectfully Interrupt

164656209 (1)Every kid does it.


It happens while you’re on the phone, or talking to someone at the store, or just having a conversation with your spouse.

In exasperation we usually say something like, “It’s rude to interrupt,” or “Stop interrupting me when I’m talking to someone.”

Are we saying what we really mean though?  We don’t necessarily want our kids not to interrupt us, especially if something is very important for us to know.  What we want them to do is to be respectful of what we’re doing.  So instead of telling them what NOT to do, what if we taught them how to interrupt respectfully?

Here are four steps to teach your kids to interrupt respectfully:

1) Have your child touch your arm, hand, or leg—whatever they can reach.

2) Have them wait until you have a break in the conversation.

3) Reassure them you know they are there by touching their hand.

4) Ask them what they need when you have a break in your conversation.

The best way to teach this is to do some role-playing.  When we were teaching it to our kids, we would often use our time together around the dinner table.  After dinner, we explained what we wanted them to learn and then we practiced it over and over.  We had some fun with the role-playing like I pretended to be having a conversation with one of the kids and daddy had to interrupt me.  This modeled for the kids how we wanted them to handle interruptions.

The best part of this is that Mark and I began to use this with each other.  If Mark’s standing in the church lobby chatting with people on Sunday morning and I need to get his attention, I’ll walk up and put my hand on his shoulder or touch his arm and wait. When there’s a break in the conversation, he’ll turn and ask me what I need.

It’s a respectful way to interrupt for any age!

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