It’s a New Season!

If you hang out on Facebook, you might have noticed I’ve been a little more active with daily Facebook LIVE videos. I’ve also been posting more often on my blog. There’s a good reason for those changes and it’s one I’m very excited to share with you!

jill-speakingGod’s really been impressing on me the need to give my greatest time and energy to the things I do best. He’s been impressing on my heart to let go of the day to day leadership as the CEO of Hearts at Home so I can do more of what I love: writing, teaching, and speaking! So I’m now getting ready for a new season of bringing even more encouragement to you!  

Over the past 23 years of serving as the CEO, God has brought together an incredible team of leaders who have been handling the details of customer service, conference production, and staying in touch between conferences. They will continue doing what they do best so I can do what I do best!  

I’m not going anywhere when it comes to the Hearts at Home conferences. I’ll still be there! I will continue on in a Founder relationship in whatever ways the organization needs, so you’ll still see me around both online and in person (if you join us at one of our 2017 events)! 

pre-order-nmpma-blog-graphicWith the upcoming release of No More Perfect Marriages, Mark and I are already getting more requests to speak together. We’re in the process of creating some new marriage resources I can’t wait to share with you over the coming months (if you’re not already on my email list, you can sign up below to stay in the loop!). I’m also continuing to speak more and more on No More Perfect Moms, No More Perfect Kids, and Better Together too. As I have already begun the transition out of leading the organization, I am no longer feeling pulled in too many different directions! I can BREATHE!

I’m very excited to see what God has in store for the future. While He’s still showing us what the next season looks like, and who the next Hearts at Home CEO will be (we’ll begin a search in the Spring), what I do know is that both Hearts at Home and I will be here for you in even bigger ways than before. That’s a win-win all around!

Because we’re a family here on the blog and at Hearts at Home, I wanted you to hear this from me. I’ve been leading, teaching, speaking, and writing for 23 years. Now it’s time to live out more fully my heart’s desire to equip and encourage moms, families, and marriages to be the best they can be!  

Give the Gift of Holiday Freedom

gettyimages-489349424-1We didn’t spend Thanksgiving with a single one of our five children.  Did it feel odd? Yes. Was it the best for everyone? We think so.

Our oldest daughter and her husband alternate holidays with his family and our family; this year Thanksgiving was with his family. Our oldest son lives in California and coming home for Thanksgiving just wasn’t in the budget. Our middle daughter and her husband and our granddaughter were already expected at two different Thanksgiving gatherings on his side of the family. Child number four was planning to spend the holiday with some friends, and our youngest and his fiancé would have been happy to join us, but we decided to give them the freedom of no expectations and the ability to enjoy the day fully with her family. Instead of gathering our immediate family, Mark and I drove a couple hours to spend time with our parents.

I love the holidays but I don’t love them more than my family. I love traditions but I don’t love them more than the people I share those traditions with.

Too often the biggest “gift” given at the holidays is guilt. Sometimes the most loving thing we can do is give our family freedom.

So instead of turkey, dressing, and pumpkin pie on Thursday, we had a family gathering of whoever could come for pizza and games last weekend. Instead of ham, sweet potatoes, and persimmon pudding on Christmas Day, we’ll gather everyone who can come together on a day that works best for all either before or after Christmas.

One of the hardest things to do as a parent is to allow change to happen as your kids get older. Their sphere of relationships grows exponentially when they marry and start a new family. These days I’m using phrases like these more often:

“We understand. It’s not the day that’s important. We’ll find another time that works better!”

“Your heart is most important to us. We don’t want to add any additional pressure by piling on expectations. If you can join us, we’ll be thrilled and if you can’t, we understand.”

“I love you. I love you the same no matter what decision you need to make for your sanity and what’s best for your family.”

Want to give a powerful gift this holiday season? Give the gift of freedom. Flexibility. No expectations. Unconditional love. Your loved ones will thank you!

I’m Grateful…for Online Shopping

On the eve of Thanksgiving, I want you to know I’m grateful for YOU!  I love hanging out in the cyberworld with you. I love hearing your ideas and benefiting from your wisdom when we interact!  I truly hope tomorrow and the coming days are filled with family and fun wrapped up with a lens of faith. I Thessalonians 5:18 reminds us to “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” That’s a scripture I’m personally focusing on today.

Christmas shopping seems to creep into Thanksgiving weekend and even Thanksgiving day for some.

I’m not much of a shopper. At. All.

Black Friday shopping doesn’t even tempt me. At. All.

Yet, I still have Christmas shopping to do. Thank goodness for online deals! I just discovered some great deals I wanted to share with you!

When Austin started college, we joined Amazon Prime. It was so helpful in ordering his books online. We’ve now found it to be helpful in all our online ordering!  I just found out that you can get a 30 day trial for Amazon Prime! Because it provides FREE 2-day shipping on many items, it’s perfect timing for online Christmas shopping. I just had to pass it along in case you’ve never tried it:  Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial.  (Tip: If you decide not to keep the membership after 30 days, make sure and mark your calendar so you can remember to cancel it on Day 29!)

I also recently discovered that Amazon has some great “groupings” of products….kind of like stepping into a store at the mall! I wasn’t aware of these until recently and in case you’re not, I thought I’d share a few below if you’re looking to do some online shopping over the next few  days of deals!

Happy Thanksgiving and happy shopping no matter if you’re a Black Friday ninja or a stay at home online shopper like me!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products, systems, and services I love and use personally so I know you’ll be in good hands! I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

5 Travel Tools I Use On Every Trip

gettyimages-498190054-1“The Sound of Music” is one of my favorite musicals and “These Are A Few of My Favorite Things” is one of my favorite songs in the musical!  It’s one that I find myself humming without even realizing it.

That’s why I’ve created a new category of blog posts I’ll be sharing: My Favorite Things!

Good friends share their favorite things with each other. I have so many favorite things I do and use that I decided it was time to share them on occasion! I hope that you’ll share some of yours along the way as well so we can learn from each other!

Here are today’s favorite things and since holiday travel is just around the corner, they all have to do with travel:

airbnb-logoAirbnb-Mark and I just did a two day getaway to Nashville, Tennessee, this past weekend. It was our second time to use Airbnb instead of a hotel.  We found it not only less expensive, but so comfortable to stay in a home.  Our first Airbnb experience was last December when we went to California to visit our son. Because he lives near Hollywood, all hotels were about $250 a night and we were staying 5 nights! Instead we rented a whole apartment for $85 a night through Airbnb! The couple who lived there was traveling so we had the place to ourselves. This also allowed us to cook many of our meals at the apartment rather than eating out which would have broken the bank over 5 days!

This past weekend in Nashville we booked a home where the owners were present. We not only had affordable and comfortable accommodations but we met new friends! The couple we stayed with were delightful and we had some wonderful conversations over our two day stay!

Focus on the Family App–Mark and I love listening to these 30 minute radio programs when we travel by car. The app features the last two weeks of programming completely free! We love listening to the programs and talking about what we learned.

Adventures in Odyssey App–Got kids 8-12? Adventures in Odyssey is for you!  These audio stories teach kids about faith and values. When our kids were younger they LOVED listening to Adventures in Odyssey as we traveled (back then they were on CD’s!). This app requires a subscription, but right now they have a two week FREE TRIAL! Just in time for Thanksgiving travel!

51pictadml-_ac_us160_Lara Bars–These are our favorite travel snacks! Since my breast cancer journey, we’ve greatly changed our eating. No processed foods for this girl anymore. These date-based Lara Bars are gluten free and our favorite “clean eating” snacks for the road!  My favorite flavor is Blueberry Muffin and Mark’s favorite is Cashew Cookie!


Rest Area Guidebook Galactic App–This app shows you where the rest areas are along the interstate. If you need to make a stop and you’d prefer a rest area, you simply click on the rest area that shows up on the map closest to you and it will tell you how many miles away you are from it! We use this app all the time when we travel!

Now it’s your turn! What are some of your favorite things when you travel? 


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products, systems, and services I love and use personally so I know you’ll be in good hands! I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

What’s Your Mothering Personality?

Understanding ourselves and understanding others are two key components in improving relationships.

Do you have a friend who drives you crazy? She probably has a different personality style than you do. In our book Better Together, my daughter Anne and I talk quite a bit about mothering personality styles.  Why does this make a difference in friendship?  Well its very important for understanding ourselves and understanding each other.  When we don’t understand, we often judge. Sometimes we judge ourselves and sometimes we judge others.

So I’m curious:

Are you an extrovert or an introvert? (Extroverts are refueled by being with people. Introverts are refueled by being alone.)

Are you an internal processor or an external processor?  (Internal processors think about things for a long time before they make decisions. External Processors want to talk decisions through with other people.)

When it comes to organizing things, are you an innie or an outie?  (Innies file. Outies pile.)

Are you structured or spontaneous? (Structured mamas love their lists and always have a plan. Spontaneous mamas often decide what to do based upon how they’re feeling that day.)

Are you medium high capacity or medium low capacity? (Medium High Capacity folks keep going and going and going and aren’t easily overwhelmed. Medium Low Capacity folks know their energy limits and become overwhelmed quicker.)

None of these are wrong. They just are. Each of us are wired uniquely by the God who mothering-personality-quizcreated us. However, if we don’t understand ourselves and others, we’ll find some of these differences wrecking our friendships.

Wanna learn more?  Hop over and take the FREE Mothering Personality Inventory. And while you’re at it, have a friend or two, or your whole moms group (if you have one) take it as well!  You’ll learn so much about yourself and each other!

We desperately need to be true to ourselves, allow others to be different, and knock off the judgement that so creeps into our head and our heart so easily!

By the way, I’m an introvert, internal processing, outie, structured, medium-high capacity mama!

What about you?  What were your results when you took the quiz? 

There’s Still Time!

2016-nc-fb-reg-nowIt took forever for me to understand that taking care of ME is taking care of my FAMILY.  

I hesitated spending money on attending a conference or a class that bettered me.  I said no to opportunities to spend time with girlfriends because “my family needs me” and “it’s just too hard to get away.”

Then a friend paid my way to a Christian women’s conference. How could I say no? This was a gift and I needed to honor her gift.

It was the week after the event that changed my perspective. I came home refreshed. Renewed. I was more patient, kind, and understanding.  I seemed better equipped to handle whatever life threw at me.   That’s when I realized that taking care of myself IS taking care of my family!

In one week, over a thousand moms will gather at the North Central Hearts at Home conference in Rochester, MN.  Some already know that this is a non-negotiable in their lives. Others are going to discover it for the first time next weekend.

Check out just a few of the wonderful workshops offered:

  • She’s Gonna Blow! Real Help for Moms Dealing with Anger
  • Courage: We All Start Somewhere
  • Makin’ Over YOU, Mama!
  • 8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids
  • Raising Respectful Kids
  • Boundaries, Blessings, and Beautiful Relationships
  • Getting Inside the Head of Your Kids: What You Must Know About Your Teen or Tween
  • Marriage: The Simple Little Things That Make a Great Big Difference
  • Disconnect from Devices and Connect with Your Kids
  • Discover and Nurture Your Children’s 8 Great Smarts
  • What Every Mother of a Preschooler Needs to Know
  • The Journey of Adoption
  • Clutter Free
  • Marriage Without Masks
  • Thriving in a Stepfamily: Help and Hope for Remarriage
  • Is There Really Sex After Kids?
  • Move From Fear to Faith!
  • Myths Moms Believe

How about you?  It’s not too late to register and join the fun. It’s also not too late to order a Conference To-Go!

Take care of yourself today! 

Our Kitchen & Bathroom Makeover

It only took ten months, but we finally finished!  Bless Mark’s heart, he would do remodels all day for his Sawhorse Homes business and come home to do our remodel on nights and weekends. It was a labor of love for all of us, but particularly challenging for Mark.

It all started when one of the big box stores that Mark installs counter tops for made a customer’s kitchen countertops wrong…three times!  When Mark expressed frustration to the store about his lost time and wages dealing with these installations, they told him he could keep the countertops that were made incorrectly.

The kids had been complaining about how outdated the green gingham wallpaper was for years. I’m a function gal, though. Outdated doesn’t bother me. If it doesn’t function well…that’s another thing. With countertops being one of the most expensive parts of a kitchen makeover and we now had them for free (yes, Mark had to cut them and “make” them fit our kitchen), we decided to take the plunge and re-do the kitchen as well as the bathroom off the kitchen.

So the decision-making began. Colors, what to do with the cabinets (we painted them), peeling wallpaper, new ceiling, bathroom vanity, sooooooo many decisions. I’m not creative, but I can “borrow” ideas like the best of them! You can bet I was spending quite a bit of time on Pinterest!

In the end we tore out a wall and opened up the staircase, opened up a pass through into the office to let more light in, replaced our kitchen island (with a cabinet a friend found on the side of the road!), turned an antique sewing machine we already had into our bathroom vanity (thank you, Pinterest!), painted walls, and replaced the ceiling (with styrofoam tiles that we LOVE!)

Here are our before and after pics:

img_1964 img_1963 img_1960 img_1961 img_1962 img_1965

Our bathroom vanity was a repurposed antique singer sewing machine!

Our bathroom vanity is a repurposed antique singer sewing machine!

We opened up the wall to let more light in!

We opened up the wall to let more light in!


The styrofoam tiles were so easy to install!

You’re Still At Home?

I was a stay-at-home mom for over twenty years. In fact, my first book, Professionalizing Motherhood was written specifically for moms at home. It’s still in print and making a difference in the lives of moms at home all over the world.

Today’s post was one I wrote in 2002 when my youngest entered kindergarten (and before we adopted child #5!), but it’s still pertinent today for many moms. I was reminded of that after receiving two emails from readers this past month who were struggling with this decision. May this encourage those of you who have kids in school but are still choosing to be at home.  

(If you’re a work-at-home mom, you might enjoy this post and if you’re a working mom, you will find this post just what you need!)



You’re Still At Home and Your Children Are In School?

I can hardly believe the day is here. In fact, I’m not quite sure what to think of the prospect of this new season of life. Because of the spacing of our children, we’ve had a preschooler at home for 17 years. For the first time in my career as a mom, I now have all of my children in full-day school. What will I do with myself?

The question was posed to me the other day, “Now that all of your children are in school what will you do?” When I responded that I would remain committed to full-time motherhood, the second question followed: “Why?”

While there are less moms home full-time when their children enter school, most who remain home do so with the same convictions I have. In our case, this continues to be a financial sacrifice for our family, but one we feel is worth making. Let me share with you why I think the profession of motherhood is still a valid career choice for me:

Maintaining The Energy To Parent—It is so difficult for me to put in a full day’s work outside of the home and come home feeling ready to handle the challenges of parenting children. Keeping a strong marriage takes energy as well. With homemaking as my profession, it is the activity to which I give my primary energy.

After School Hours—A recent study was conducted with sexually active teenagers.When asked when and where they most often had sex, the most common reply was in their own homes between the hours of 3pm-5pm! My children need my presence for accountability, for encouragement, and for communication. Those hours after school are also when they talk most about their day, their struggles, their hopes, and their fears. An after school snack and a listening ear are important parts of my long-term career goal of helping my children mature and learn about the world in which they live. I don’t want to miss that.

Parenting Responsibilities—I don’t believe it’s my oldest child’s responsibility to parent her siblings. While she is certainly capable of caring for her brothers and sister on occasion, and even being an occasional taxi driver for extracurricular activities, she doesn’t need that responsibility every day after school, on school holidays, or during the summer.

Sick Days, Field Trips, Volunteer Opportunities—Being available to care for a sick child at home without concern of how many personal days I’ve used up at the office is emotionally freeing to me. Accompanying field trips or helping out at the school are valuable ways for me to stay involved in my children’s education. The school, the church, and the community need volunteers who have time and energy to help with worthwhile endeavors. I believe that’s a good use of my education and my skills.

Laundry, Meals, and the Fine Art of Homemaking—Just because everyone is in school, there’s still the same amount of laundry, the same meals to prepare, and the same house to manage. There are appointments to make, bills to pay, and groceries to buy. I don’t believe I’ll want for something to do.

Many moms use this season to return to school themselves or pursue part-time employment just during the school year, while keeping family the priority. It’s a good season to explore some of those opportunities. I’ll probably do that as well, with some writing and speaking opportunities. However, with one child in full-day kindergarten, one in sixth grade, one enjoying his sophomore year, and one entering her senior year in high school, there’s plenty of work to be done at home and in the lives of my children with motherhood as my full-time profession.

How about you? Are you at home and your children are in school?  Do you have any other thoughts you’d add to those here?