Can I please go to the bathroom alone?

Today’s post is an excerpt from my Real Moms…Real Jesus book. If you have little ones…this is for you! If you don’t have little ones, would you share it with a mama who does? She needs to know she’s not alone and that Jesus is a friend who understands!

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I stumbled down the stairs in my early Monday morning stupor. Mornings aren’t my strong suit and it takes quite a bit of time for me to feel lucid. I closed the bathroom door for my first trip of the morning only to hear my teenage daughter yell up the stairs, “Mom, did you wash my gym clothes?” Within seconds, I heard her slightly younger brother bellow, “Mom, if you are picking me up early today, I need a note.” I’d barely been in the bathroom for a full minute before 8-year-old Erica was knocking on the door announcing that her two-year-old brother was awake and had produced a very dirty diaper sometime during the night.

I closed my eyes and thought, “Can’t I just have two minutes alone in the bathroom?

When Jesus walked on this earth, the Bible tells us “large crowds followed him everywhere he went.” People wanted what Jesus had. They were intrigued by his message of a personal relationship with a loving God, which was starkly different from what the Pharisees taught about religion based upon works. The message of the Pharisee’s came down to one word—“do.” “Do this, do that, and be more like us!” they exclaimed in word and action. The message Jesus proclaimed also came down to one similar, yet vastly different, word—“done.” Jesus’ message was one of grace, given through his sacrifice on the cross. You don’t have to “earn” salvation. You just have to accept the free gift.

This was a new message that people longed for and thousands flocked to hear him speak when he was in town. People wanted to be near him. They had questions for him. They wanted to know more about this unique message of hope. Jesus’ message represented an anchor during the storms of life.

For our children, we too are an anchor. Our presence represents security in their budding lives. They want to know where we are and be assured that we will be there when they need us.

Whether you have one child or a whole houseful, the concept of being followed everywhere you go is one you have to get adjusted to when you become a mother. It begins right after birth or adoption. Suddenly you can no longer walk out the door without considering the needs of this new little one. A simple trip to the store requires a diaper bag full of baby supplies and a vast array of baby paraphernalia.

If you add more children to the family, the crowd becomes larger with time. And as children grow older, it’s rare that they want to embark on any endeavor without a friend in tow. Let’s face it, large crowds follow us everywhere we go!

Some moms relish in this constant activity of kids and their friends and some moms find themselves overwhelmed and stifled by it. I enjoy the constant activity but can only handle it for a limited time. Because of my people skills and ability to handle most social settings with ease, I’ve assumed that I was an extrovert. However, as I’ve become more in tune with myself, I’ve actually discovered I’m an introvert. I’ve also discovered that the terms “introvert” and “extrovert” don’t really have much to do with your people skills. Instead they are really more about how you are emotionally drained and refueled. Simply put, being with people refuels an extrovert and being alone refuels an introvert.

So what does an introvert mother of five children do? She learns to take care of herself and get the alone time she desperately wants to find emotional refueling she desperately needs. I’ve learned to find a bathroom in the middle of the day, or to seek the refuge of my front porch during the kids’ nap or rest time. I’ve asked my husband to take the kids to the park occasionally so I can have time alone at home. I’ve learned to take an evening out once a week to go for a walk alone, or meet a friend for pie and coffee. This is not only beneficial for me, but for my family as well. When I’m running on a full emotional fuel tank, I’m more patient, more effective, and far more enjoyable to be around.

Conversely, what does an extrovert mother of one do? She learns to take care of herself by seeking out a moms group she can become a part of. She invites another mother and her children over for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. She organizes a ladies night out for the moms in the neighborhood. And even though being with people refuels her, an extrovert mom still needs to find quiet moments to nourish her soul.

Jesus was intentional about finding time to refuel. He knew there were many demands upon his time and energy and he had to be a good steward of his body, soul, and mind. Nobody had to tell him, “Jesus, go rest.” Instead he recognized his need to pull away from the crowds and find the refreshment he needed.

As moms, we need to do the same. People and responsibilities demand much from us and we have to be good stewards of our body, soul, and mind. We can’t wait until we’re drained dry or until someone comes along and offers to watch our kids (like that happens very often!). Instead we have to learn to be proactive about our self-care so that we can be ready to meet the needs of our family.

Talk to God about the demands you feel upon you. Where do you feel smothered by them? What wears you down? Pour your heart out to Him about how you feel and where you feel pulled in a dozen different directions. After all, “large crowds followed him everywhere he went.”

He really understands.

Thank you, God, for having an understanding heart. You didn’t have much personal space in your life and I often feel I don’t have much personal space in mine. Thank you for your example of intentionally refueling with rest, prayer, and intentionally pulling away from the crowds. Help me to learn to do the same and to recognize the benefit for my family and myself when I do so. In Jesus name…Amen.

Hospitality at Home

Why We Choose To Be Airbnb Hosts

We’d been married just about six months and lived on the west side of Indianapolis. Mark drove a delivery truck all over Indiana for his family’s glass and plastics business. He’d been in southern Indiana that day and I was waiting for him to come home to a spaghetti dinner I’d spent the last hour making. This was 34 years ago, before there were cell phones or texting or other easy ways to stay in touch when you were apart.

I heard Mark’s truck pull up outside our mobile home. I greeted him at the door with a smile. He kissed me and said, “Hey, I brought someone home for dinner.” Surprised, I asked him who it was. He said, “I picked up a guy at the truck stop in Evansville. He was trying to get to northern Indiana so I told him I could give him a ride as far as Indianapolis. We talked as we drove and he could really use a good meal before I run him up to the mission where he can spend the night. I hope it’s okay for him to join us.”

I was surprised, but happy to share what we had. Thankfully, I was raised in a home where there was always room for one more at the dinner table.

Mark went out and invited Foster to come inside and join us for dinner.  We added a third chair around our little table for two, making our dinner for two into a dinner for three. After dinner and delightful conversation, we all jumped in the truck and drove to the homeless shelter in downtown Indianapolis.  It was the middle of December and terribly cold. I remember noticing that Foster wasn’t wearing gloves. When he confirmed that he didn’t have gloves I took off my own pair–a black stretchy pair that easily fit a man or a woman–and handed them to him wishing him the best along the journey.

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” Those words in Hebrews 13:2 have always stuck with me.  While we never heard from Foster again, Mark and I were bonded together that day by our shared value for hospitality.

That’s why we decided six months ago to start hosting Airbnb. We’ve loved sharing our home and meeting so many wonderful people. So far we’ve hosted dozens of folks: a family coming to visit their ISU student on Parent’s Weekend, a businessman from China, a couple driving from Florida to their home in Wisconsin, a mother needing a break from everyday life and wanting a long weekend away, a family coming together to celebrate their son/grandson’s graduation from ISU, three families on house-hunting trips preparing for a move to our community, a father and daughter taking a trip down Route 66 before the daughter headed off to the mission field.  We even hosted a baseball team of free agents playing AAA teams like our local Cornbelters, each one living the baseball dream and hoping to get picked up by one of the teams they played (and one of the guys ended up getting picked up by the Cornbelters that day!)

Sometimes we get the opportunity to visit with folks and sometimes they arrive just in time to head to bed and head out early in the morning. Either way, we get the opportunity to give them a home away from home for the night.

We have a big, nearly empty home now that most of the kids are gone. Why not use it for hospitality? I can truly say it’s become quite a mission field as we’ve encouraged marriages, helped folks new to town, and even shared deep faith-building conversations when the opportunity has presented itself.

We set our own calendar and choose to approve each reservation request, always screening their reviews from previous stays before saying yes. We’ve had a few first time Airbnb users who didn’t have reviews, but our interaction with them through the Airbnb app or website always allows us to get to know them and their reason for travel before saying yes. All money is handled through the Airbnb app, allowing us to earn a little extra income on the side. We’ve been pleased with Airbnb as a company and they’ve set up a great plan for establishing trust and safety into their program.

If you have the gift of hospitality, you might consider joining the Airbnb family as a host. We’ve found it a wonderful way to meet people and provide a warm, safe place for folks traveling to or through our community.

We now use Airbnb in our own travels and prefer it over a hotel. It’s less expensive and we often meet wonderful people. Our first experience was in December of 2015 when we traveled to visit our son, Evan, who lives near Hollywood in Los Angeles. Every hotel in the area was $250/night and that was simply out of our price range. We found an apartment to rent on Airbnb for $85/night. The couple happened to be out of town so we had the place to ourselves, including a kitchen where we could make our own meals for the week. We caught the Airbnb bug on that trip and decided to start using it for other trips.

Want to use Airbnb on an upcoming trip? You can get $40 off your first stay of $75 of more using this linkAnd if you’re ever in Bloomington-Normal, come stay with us! We’d love to have you!

I am still amazed that a hospitality seed was planted some 34 years ago when Mark and I shared an impromptu spaghetti dinner with a man named Foster. Maybe he really was an angel and we didn’t know it. He certainly made an impression on us and we’re still living that out today.

What about you? Have you ever used Airbnb or any other home sharing experience? What do you do to reach out to those around you?

Sunrise Sunset

Last night I had hoped to make a trip to Springfield to be at our granddaughter’s school concert but I just didn’t have the energy for the two hour round trip after my second shoulder surgery on Tuesday (I had developed adhesions after my first rotator cuff repair in December and didn’t have a good range of motion…this surgery took care of that.)

When my son suggested he and I go to a local performance of Fiddler on the Roof that his fiance had choreographed, I took him up on the offer.  I love Fiddler on the Roof.  In high school, I played the role of Hodel and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Austin asked me what it is that I love about the musical and as I thought about it, I concluded that it is it’s timelessness. While the story is set in 1905, the issues that Tevye and Golde deal with are today’s issues: children growing up too fast, cultural changes that affect the family, letting go, watching adult children make choices you don’t agree with, community, marriage, faith, hope, and love.

With my man-boy sitting next to me approaching college graduation and a wedding–both in December–I was drawn into the words of the Sunrise, Sunset song that Tevye and Golde sing, “”When did she get to be a beauty? When did he grow to be so tall? Wasn’t it yesterday when they were small?”

So today I’m sentimental. Pensive. And reminded that parents through the ages have faced the same challenges we face today.

Letting go is never easy, but always necessary.

I’d Love For You To Join Me!

One of the best parts of what I get to do as a speaker is meet so many wonderful people. January and February have been quiet months for us. It was a perfect window of time for me to rotator cuff repair surgery.  Unfortunately my body seems to scar internally a little too much and I have to have a second shoulder surgery on March 7 to return me to full use of my shoulder.  Thankfully the recovery from the second surgery isn’t nearly as difficult as from the first surgery.

That’s a good thing because speaking season is kicking in!  I’m going to be in Indiana, Chicago, Missouri, Peoria, and Texas. If you’re close by, I’d love for you to join the fun! Here are the events that are open to the public:

Wednesday, March 1–Lafayette, IN
MOPS, First Assembly Community Ministries–“Is There Really Sex After Kids?”
More info: http://firstag.org/mops/

Saturday, March 18–Woodridge, IL
No More Perfect Marriages Morning Out (Jill and Mark Savage speaking)
More info: www.imetevents.org

Tuesday, March 28, Oronogo, MO
Moms Connection–More info: http://cco.church/adults/#women

Friday/Saturday, April 21-22, Peoria, IL
Hearts at Home Mom Conference
Mark and I are speaking together and separately!
More info: https://www.heartsathome.org/index.php/events/2017-illinois-conference

Friday/Saturday, May 5-6, Tyler, TX
Marriage Tune-Up–No More Perfect Marriages (info below)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Would your church like to host a No More Perfect Marriages retreat? Do you have a women’s event or retreat you’re looking for a speaker for?  We’d love to partner with you! Find out more info here!

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.”