When Mom Is Sick

ThinkstockPhotos-124627607It was one year ago today that I finished six months of treatment for triple-negative breast cancer.

Twelve months later, my hair has returned, my body is no longer swollen from steroids, I’m declared cancer-free, and I’m able to bring encouragement to others who are on the same journey I’ve been on.

A couple of months ago I dropped something off at the home of a friend who was facing a similar treatment plan. Her children, all grade school age and older, assembled in the living room, seemingly eager to meet someone who understands their now-new world of mom being sick. “I cried when I saw my mom’s drains after her surgery.” “What’s it like when you lose your hair?” “I don’t like needles, do the needles hurt?” Their questions rolled out faster than I could answer them.

When mom is sick, especially for the long haul, it’s hard on the family.

It’s especially hard on the kids.

In a blog post he wrote several months into my treatment, my 17-year-old son said his first thoughts after we received my diagnosis was, “How’s this going to affect my life?” He wasn’t particularly proud that was his first thought, but he shared honestly that it was. I appreciated his authenticity.

Even my older kids, who were out of the home experienced fear, worry, uncertainty, and especially for my girls, the long-term consideration of what this means for their own health.

Illness affects more than the person being treated. Four steps that can be remembered by the acronym CARE can help you help a child process a parent’s illness.

Chat—Talk freely about the realities of mom or dad’s illness but also talk about their life outside of sickness. They need to know it’s okay to talk about what’s happening at home but they also need to know that what’s going on in their life is important, too!

Affirm—Acknowledge their feelings, or help them identify them. Let them know those are normal feelings for what they are experiencing.

Reassure—Reassure them that life will return to normal at some time. It may be a new normal, depending on the reality of the illness, but it will not always feel like it does now.

Encourage—Encourage them to be helpful during this time, but to remember to talk about their feelings rather than keeping them inside. Offer to listen whenever they need it.

One of the best gifts to give a child when a parent is sick is one-on-one time where they can talk, vent, and just know that someone cares.

What about you? Would you add any other wisdom to help kids when their parent is dealing with a serious illness? 

Posted in My Cancer Journey, Parenting | Leave a comment

When Marriage Counseling Doesn’t Work

ThinkstockPhotos-178280024Mark says:
Jill and I have always been proponents of marriage counseling. We’ve talked about it openly in our marriage and tried our best to help couples know that “asking for help” is an important part of the marriage journey.

Jill says: 
We’ve sought out counseling as needed through our nearly 33 years of marriage. Even more than finding the right counselor, we’ve found that having the right attitude makes all the difference in the world.

Mark says: 
That’s why Jill and I resonated with Justin Davis’ blog post over on RefineUs.org last week. We were so moved by it, we asked him if we could share it here.  Justin, who coauthored the book Beyond Ordinary: When a Good Marriage Just Isn’t Good Enoughwith his wife Trisha, gave us the green light. We hope you find it as helpful as we did.

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imagesWhen Trish and I started our first church in 2002, we had a lot of faith, very little money and even less people. I put together a business plan of what I thought was our budget and timeline and started meeting with as many people as I could, asking them to support this new church.

One morning I sat down with a very successful business man, seeking his advice but also his financial support. He had a huge heart for God and years of business experience. A friend had set up the meeting for me, and I didn’t want to blow it. I was nervous that I’d say the wrong thing and he would think I didn’t know what I was doing (which I didn’t) and not contribute to our vision.

I gave him a copy of our nine page business plan and began walking through it. My voice was shaking and my palms were sweating because there was so much at stake. I finished my speech and felt that even though it may not have been a great presentation, I swung for the fence. I closed my copy of the business plan, took a big drink of water and looked up to see his response.

“This is a great presentation.” he said.

“Thank you.” I replied.

“What is Plan B?” he asked. “If this plan doesn’t work, what is your Plan B?”

Inside I began to panic. I didn’t have a Plan B. This was my only plan. We were risking everything to start this church. I didn’t know if I should try to come up with an impromptu plan b or just be honest and tell him I didn’t have one.

“I don’t have a Plan B, sir.” I said. “I’m banking everything on this.”

His response still echoes in my heart and mind, “And that’s why this will work. If you had a Plan B, I’d question your commitment to this plan. This is going to work because you’re all in.”

A few months ago, I was sitting with a couple and the wife said to me, “We are going to try this (meeting with me) and if this doesn’t work we’re going to separate.” My response shocked both of them.

I said, “Well I can save all three of us an hour of our lives…you should just separate right now.”

Marriage counseling doesn’t work if a couple goes into it with a Plan B. The only way marriage counseling can work is if both a husband and a wife are all in. If you have a contingency plan or a a back up plan, you are already assuming that it will fail. You can’t hedge your bet and go ALL IN at the same time.

Marriage counseling is game-changing. It can save a shattered marriage and make a good marriage great. But what it requires is more than many people are willing to give: 100%.

download100% commitment

100% honesty

100% vulnerability

100% forgiveness

100% ownership

100% grace

Because so many of us go into marriage counseling with this thought, “When this doesn’t work then I’ll do this….” we never allow our hearts to fully engage. Our Plan B robs us of experiencing the transformation and change we desperately need.

Going all in is risky. Pursing your marriage with no contingency plan means you could get hurt in the end. You become vulnerable. But God shows up when we’re at our weakest point. Maybe we don’t experience God’s power to transform our marriage because we’re so busy hedging our bets.

Complete surrender. That’s where life-change and marriage transformation is found.

Go all in.

What about you? Have you kept a Plan B in the back of your mind? Do you need to surrender fully and go all in? 

Posted in Marriage | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Quote of the Week

Quote-of-the-Week pic“When your past calls, don’t answer.  It has nothing new to say.” 

                                                                                    ~Unknown

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10 Summer Sanity Savers Every Mom Needs to Know

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It’s the first week of June and for many of us, the first week of summer break.

Every mom needs some strategies in place to make the summer a positive experience for everyone.

Today I offer you 10 sanity savers you can put into action to make this summer the best it can be!

Sanity Saver #1: Take care of yourself.
What will you doing to keep your emotional fuel tank refueled? What activities refresh you? Proactively plan those into your daily/weekly schedule. Don’t wait until your tank is empty…fill up regularly!

If you are at home, your kids are with you 24/7. Create a moms night out once a week with a friend, or trade “days off” with another mom whose kids are close in age to your kids. If you are working full-time, it takes a lot more effort in the summer to make sure the kids are busy and where they need to be. Make sure you are taking care of yourself in order to really be able to take care of your family.

Sanity Saver #2: Create a routine.
It’s hard to go from the tight routine of school to very little routine in the summer. While it’s important to not schedule every minute, a loose routine can give structure to summer days. Maybe Monday is swimming day, Tuesday library day, Wednesday friend day, Thursday house and laundry day, and Friday free day. A schedule can guide planning and give some sense of security to our kids.  It also answers the most asked questions, “Can we go to the pool?” “Can I have a friend over?” “When can we go to the library?”  Those don’t have to be the ONLY days you do those activities, but those are the days the kids can count on.

Sanity Saver #3: Set boundaries.
Kids are more likely to stay within boundaries if they actually know what those boundaries are. How much television is ok? How long on video games? We found the kitchen timer to be helpful with video games or TV with our 1 hour on/1 hour off boundary. The boys would set the timer before they would get on the game. (If I found them playing video games without a timer set, they lost video games for the rest of the day.)

Sanity Saver #4: Rest every day.
If you are a stay-at-home mom, this is really important…for you…and for your kids! Even if your kids are no longer taking naps, a rest time is really important to give them time to play apart from their siblings and kids in the neighborhood.  This is when my older kids learned the joy of reading or building with Legos.  We usually set the timer for 1 hour. When the timer went off, they knew rest time is over.

Sanity Saver #5: Make summer drinks easy.
When the kids are playing hard in the summer, they are always thirsty. I discovered one summer that a cooler full of ice water that I set out on the deck was such a time and mess-saver! Each morning, I filled a 5 gallon water cooler with ice and water.  I put a tray next to the cooler with cups labeled with their names (including the kids in the neighborhood!). When they wanted a drink, they were able to get it themselves without a mess in the kitchen.  I’d use the tray as a place to put fruit snacks, granola bars, or cookies for a morning and afternoon snacks.  It allowed them some self-serve independence!

Sanity Saver #6: Give opportunities to learn something new.
Summer is a great time for kids to learn new skills like cooking, gardening, or laundry. Take the time to teach them how to do a new skill and then give them ample opportunity to practice. If you have junior high or high school age children, they can be in charge of one meal a week. Grade-schoolers can learn to do laundry and be in charge of a couple of loads a week. This gives kids ownership and a sense of pride about contributing to the family. It also teaches them lifelong skills.

Sanity Saver #7: Lower your expectations.
Our frustration with our kids usually happens when our expectations intersect with reality.

  • Expect messes in the summer. They will happen.
  • Expect sibling rivalry. It’s a part of having more than one child.
  • Expect whining. Kids do this when they are tired.
  • Expect boredom. It’s actually healthy for them to be bored because it cultivates creativity.

When you lower your expectations, you’ll be far more content with reality. If you need a little more encouragement in that area, you might pick up No More Perfect Kids: Love Your Kids for Who They Are for some summer reading!

Sanity Saver #8: Learn to be a “Yes!” Mom
A couple of summers ago, I started the “Yes Mom Challenge.”  When I started to pay attention to how much I said no and why I said no, I discovered it usually had something to do with my selfish reasons. I didn’t want to deal with a mess. I didn’t want to be inconvenienced. I didn’t want to have more work to do.  That’s not fun to admit, but it was true. My selfishness was robbing my kids of some of the joy of just being kids!  Learn to be a yes mom and you’ll find the summer more enjoyable for everyone!

Sanity Saver #9: Make an “I’m bored” jar
At some point we all deal with “I’m bored.” When that happens, I usually tell my kids that they can find something to do or I’ll be happy to find something for them to do. It’s interesting how quickly they find something to do!  However, if you have younger kids, an “I’m bored” jar can also be helpful.  Simply fill out slips of paper with activities they can do like these:

  • Color a picture for Grandma
  • Write a letter to Grandma (and address the envelope!)
  • Make a fort
  • Build a castle with blocks
  • Put together a puzzle
  • Do “Winter in the summer” and cut out snowflakes
  • Have a tea party
  • Write a story

If you don’t want to do an “I’m bored” jar for the kids to pick a paper out, you can also keep an “I’m bored” list that puts suggestions at your fingertips.

Sanity Saver #10:  Let go and enjoy
We all want the “perfect summer” for our kids, but rather than activities and schedules making up the perfect summer, it’s actually the not-scheduled spontaneous activities that make memories: running in the sprinkler, having picnics on the porch, laying on the ground and looking for shapes in the clouds, catching fireflies after dark.   Sure, have some plans in place, but let spontaneity lead the way.

Prioritize relationships over tasks.

Be creative and make some messes.

Lecture less and laugh more.

These are the elements that make up a beautiful summer.

What about you? Would you add any more “tried and true” strategies to this list? 

Posted in Parenting | 8 Comments

So Are We Done With This Yet?

Dear Mark and Jill,

I read your Marriage Monday blog, “Don’t Go Relivin’ What You Have Forgiven” and it really spoke to me. It is what I do.

The one point that you made, that I would love to know your thoughts on is this: how do I know if things are resolved or not? We have been through a lot of hurt caused by many things and I have talked about needing resolution, but I really do not know what that looks like. How did you feel like you were in a place where it was “settled” and you could truly move forward and look forward as opposed to looking back?”

Unresolved

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Dear Unresolved,

Good question! We thought we’d tackle this in today’s Marriage Monday.

ThinkstockPhotos-479338169 (1)Mark says: In my many years of pastoral counseling, one thing I noticed is how often couples sweep conflict away with a brisk, “I’m sorry.”

The problem is “I’m sorry” is only a half apology.

A full apology is “I’m sorry. I know ____________ (the action you did) hurt you because____________ (specify the pain it caused).  Will you please forgive me?”

Jill says: I’ve come to think of it in a picture. If I hurt Mark, it’s as if I leave him wounded and bleeding.  If I just say “I’m sorry,” and expect it to bring healing, it will be like putting a band aid on a wound that is gaping open and in need of stitches.

If you start with “I’m sorry,” then communicate your spouse the hurt you actually caused him/her, and then ask for forgiveness, you are actually beginning to bandage up the wounds and to help bring about healing.  How so? There are two very important parts to this full apology:

#1: The communication of the pain that was caused. If we can actually communicate the pain we caused, this increases our spouse’s trust that we are paying attention to the way our actions affect him/her.

#2: The request for forgiveness. This requires the offended spouse to make a decision. Of course, it’s much easier to make the decision of forgiveness when you truly feel understood and cared for by the specific communication of the pain that was caused.

ThinkstockPhotos-465520563Mark says:  Here’s a real life example of something I’ve communicated to Jill, “I’m sorry that I didn’t listen to you when you communicated that to me. I know when I do that it causes you to not feel valued. Will you please forgive me?

Jill says: Here’s a real life example of something I’ve communicated to Mark, “I’m sorry that I parented you in that moment. I know that makes you feel disrespected. Will you please forgive me?

Mark says: Once the offended spouse can choose forgiveness, conflict closure or a sense of feeling resolve is experienced.

Now let’s look at this from a birds eye view of healing big infractions of trust, like infidelity, deception, or some other trust-breaking activity.

Jill says: When we were healing from Mark’s affair, there were so many pain points that his deception caused that it required many full apologies over the course of time.  As I said in the Today’s Christian Woman article on rebuilding trust, “As hard as it is for me to share about my husband’s infidelity, it’s my privilege to share how hard he worked to reestablish his integrity in our relationship.”

We’d drive by a hotel where I knew they met, and I’d say, “It’s hard for me to drive by this place.”  He would say, “I’m so sorry, Jill. I know that I betrayed you and that hurt you deeply. I’m sorry for the pain I caused. I truly ask for your forgiveness.”   Forgiveness on my part would follow.

However, we might drive by that same hotel again the following week.  He’d reach over and grab my hand and say, “I know driving by this is hard.  I’m believing there will be a day that it won’t be so painful. I commit to you that I will never, ever betray you again.”

He wasn’t “bringing it up again” and keeping me stirred up negatively. He was acknowledging the pain he knew existed and reassuring me of his commitment. That was trust building!

Now, over three years later, we drive by that hotel quite often. Although I often do think about how it’s a part of our story, I don’t experience the pain I did in those early days and months.

Mark says: Another piece of bringing closure to a hurt is also a concept called “reframing.” We shared about this two years ago as we approached the one year anniversary of the weekend Mark left.  Neither one of us wanted that weekend to always have a dark cloud over it so we decided to “reframe” it in a positive way.  We did a weekend getaway to a cabin near Starved Rock State Park about an hour from our house.  Do you know that the second anniversary of that date came and went without either one of us thinking about the implication of that date?

I also did some reframing in how I referred to myself.  In the early months after I recommitted and returned home, Jill would communicate about worry or fears. One day I said to her, “Jilly, that is your old husband. He was a jerk. This is your new husband, who is committed to never betray your trust again.”  This was a paraphrase of Ephesians 4:22-24. It helped me reaffirm my commitment to both God and Jill and helped Jill believe in the possibility of a different future.

Jill says: After many full apologies and some intentional reframing, in time, we were fully looking forward with only the occasional need to look back.

No matter whether you are looking to resolve those pesky daily conflicts that never seem to be resolved or a bigger hurt in your marriage.  With intentionality and humility, it is possible to “be done with it” and move on.

What about you? Is it time to offer a full apology to help your spouse trust your heart and heal?  Do you have something that needs to be reframed so you can move forward? 

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Quote of the Week

Quote-of-the-Week pic“The most precious jewels you’ll ever have around your neck are the arms of your children.”

                                                          ~Author unknown

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The Gift of Enough

It all started with a picture and comment my friend and coworker, Connie, put on Facebook.

car

Every time I pull in parking lot at work and see this car, I just smile. Why? Because it belongs to our CEO who speaks to 10’s of 1000’s of women each year and has written many successful books. But no matter how big her following, she’s never lost her “real.” And she not only shares that real but lives it. So here’s to Jill Savage!! Who has made it safe for all us moms to just be real.

living with less cover with black edgeI like my little “Living With Less So Your Family Has More” car, but honestly I get razzed about it all the time.  “What CEO drives a 23 year old car?” I’ve been asked dozens of times, along with other comments and questions like, “Don’t you think it’s time for you to get a grown-up car, Jill?”  or “If you add water, maybe it will grow!”

The other day at a speaking engagement, my assistant and I pulled the boxes of books out and didn’t shut the back hatch. We noticed it when we got inside the church. Someone said, “Don’t you have a button on your keychain to close it?” My assistant Mel said with a smile, “There’s nothing automatic on that car…you even have to crank the windows up and down!”

So in the midst of being teased about my little old Mitsubishi Mirage, you can see why it was nice to read Connie’s positive comment.

I’m also fine with the green gingham wallpaper I hung in our kitchen in 1997. It’s not falling off the walls. There’s nothing wrong with it.  It covers the rough plaster walls in our 100 year old farmhouse we live in.

Then there’s the bathrobe I had for nearly 30 years. No holes. It wasn’t even threadbare. But my family insisted I needed a new one.

My ability to be content with what I have is most often seen as something bad.  Something negative. Something that indicates that I’m not “up with the times.”

But last week when my friend Connie put the above post on Facebook, it was my friend Marianne Miller’s comment that just blessed my heart in a huge way.  She said, “Someone gave Jill “The Gift of Enough.”  She was actually referring to the title of her new book, but I read it in a different way.  I read it as “Someone gave Jill the gift of enough.”

When I read those words that way, I wanted to cry. Happy tears.  Tears of relief that my old car, my dated wallpaper, and my purple bathrobe were okay. They were simply representative of something inside of me that says that “enough is okay.”  And I can tell you who gave that gift to me…my mom and my dad.  I grew up with “enough.” Not more than enough…just enough.

Marianne also indicated that it was her father who gave her the gift of enough when she shared this story in her comment, “My dad’s car got towed once from the vice-president’s spot because no one thought his rusted car could be a vice-president’s car.”

I. LOVE. THAT.

Years ago when I traveled to El Salvador with Compassion International, our trip leader asked the question, “What is the opposite of poverty?” Most of us in the group answered, “Wealth.” The tour leader corrected us that actually the opposite of poverty is “enough.” Enough food in your tummy that you don’t go to bed hungry. Enough healthcare that you don’t have a family member who dies of a disease that could have been prevented.

Honestly, we all live with more than enough.  Even those of us who were given “the gift of enough” and drive old cars and lived in outdated furnishings. We even have more than enough.

Now don’t get me wrong…I’m not saying it’s bad if you’re driving a new car or just redecorated your kitchen (we actually are planning on stripping wallpaper and painting our kitchen this summer).  That’s not the point.

Today I just want to affirm others who are content with enough and withstand their fair share of criticism for not having “up-to-date” items.

Today I want to affirm those parents who are concerned that they can’t give their kids a trip to Disney or the opportunity to go to any college they want. I want you to know that you are giving your children “the gift of enough” and that is powerful.

book-coverAnd I want to encourage us all to consider what “enough” looks like and recognize that we really live with “more than enough” each and every day.

Do you have something you live with everyday that is not the latest and greatest but is simply “enough?”  I’d love to hear about it!

I’m giving away a copy of Marianne’s book The Gift of Enough: Raising Grateful Kids in a Culture of Excess.

Leave a comment before noon on Friday 5/29/15 to be entered into the drawing!

Posted in Living With Less | Tagged , , , | 43 Comments

Quote of the Week

Quote-of-the-Week pic“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic.  It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever the cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever the cost.”

                                                                               ~Arthur Ash

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No More Perfect Bloggers

Okay so last Thursday wasn’t the Third Thursday.

But I thought it was.

I’m still claiming chemo brain anytime I can! After all, I need to get as much mileage out of that considering all I went through last year in my cancer journey!

So last Thursday I posted that it was the Third Thursday Blog Hop but it was actually the second Thursday so our bloggers weren’t linking up with me after all. But today IS the Third Thursday and they will be linking up!

You read my post last Thursday about having the power to inspire inside of each of us.

Third-Thursday-Thoughts

God has given us incredible power to influence the lives of others positively or negatively. The Bible says quite a lot about the influence we have particularly with our words, “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body,” (Proverbs 16:24) and “A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit,” (Proverbs 15:4) are just two of the reminders of the power we hold.

Hop around and find the encouragement you need to bring a positive influence to your spouse, your kids, and others in your circle of influence!

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Too Many Choices?

downloadToday’s post is another wonderful excerpt from Dr. Kathy Koch’s newest Hearts at Home book, Screens and Teens.

If you’re looking for a summer reading selection for you or you and your spouse, consider Screens and Teens: Connecting with Our Kids in a Wireless World.  In fact, Hearts at Home is offering a FREE summer online study for the Screens and Teens.  Pick up a copy, sign up, and join the discussion!

Dr. Kathy is also a speaker at our 2015 Hearts at Home conferences.  Registration is now OPEN for our North Central Regional Conference in Rochester, MN, November 14-15, 2015.

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newkathyTeens believe they need choice and that choices are their right for two primary reasons: the variety of the options always available to them and the drop-down menus used by so many technology tools, toys, and services.

For some kids, there’s a third cause. If they have premature freedom to make decisions and they regularly do what they want, freedom of choice will be their expectation. So, if we’ve prioritized happiness to keep the peace, and recognize we’ve contributed to the culture of “I don’t want that, I want this,” let’s own it and talk about it with our teens as we work to improve our relationship and their future.

Of course technology has contributed to this lie being believed by many, many young people. In one minute Instagram users post 216,000 new photos and YouTube users upload 72 hours of new video. You read that right—every minute we have 72 more hours of video to choose from. Spotify allows us to choose from among more than 20 million songs and iTunes Radio has more than 27 million. There are almost 1 billion websites. It’s no wonder teens believe the lie that they deserve choices!

Choice shows up everywhere. Like me, you may remember a time when there were just a few restaurants near your home. Going out to eat might have been a rare treat. In contrast, many of our children have eaten out often. Not only that, but think how the number of choices at these restaurants has increased over the years. Just thinking about the options at my local coffee bar makes my head spin.

There’s another contrast with the “old days” relevant to this lie. When I was a teen, biblical morality was the norm. There was great consistency in a community, and even in our country, as to what constituted right and wrong. This naturally decreased options and limited choices. Of course, not everybody thought then or thinks now that this is a good thing. However, we can’t deny that it narrowed choices.

When a teacher assigned a paper of 300 words due Tuesday, we wrote a paper that long and turned it in on Tuesday. When a youth pastor said permission slips needed to be turned in the Saturday before camp, we knew to turn ours in by then if we wanted to go. When a parent or grandparent asked us to help with the dishes, it would have been unthinkable to beg off or suggest someone else help instead.

What emotional responses are you having to these illustrations? Do you relate to a different time, or do you relate more to this generation of choices? Let’s find out more about this demand for choice and one way it’s affecting teens.

As appealing as choices are, and as necessary as teens believe they are, too much of a good thing isn’t always a good thing. Consider this. I have so many CDs on my desk that I sometimes don’t want to have to decide which one to listen to so I turn on the radio instead. I let the producer of that show make decisions for me. (Yes, it’s true: I still use ancient technology called a “CD player.” I paid for my CDs, my CD player still works, so I use them.) When it comes to too many choices, paralysis rather than liberation is a common occurrence.

Screen-and-Teens-FB-graphicSo how can we help young people maintain equilibrium when they are inundated with so many choices they could be overwhelmed?

1. We can help our teens know that it’s okay to change their minds sometimes. Many teens want to make right decisions and are afraid they’ll be wrong or they’ll change their mind. We can explain that changing their mind doesn’t mean they were wrong or they failed. It’s often the case that what is right today isn’t going to be right a month from now. Maybe the situation changed, or we’ve gained better information about people or a situation. Rethinking a decision doesn’t always mean the first decision was wrong.

2. We can provide helpful feedback so choosing doesn’t seem so overwhelming. We can help teens think through why a choice was wise or not. If it was unwise, was it because the choice was dangerous, selfish, immature, or lazy? We can help them analyze their wise decisions, too. What past experience guided them to a smart choice? Did they integrate your feedback into their thinking? Were they efficient, creative, or something else? We can also help them anticipate how similar thinking could be relevant to future decisions.

3. We can limit choices when possible. Because they are forced to make so many choices all the time, we can help them narrow down choices when possible. We might do this when looking at colleges or choosing classes at school. Rather than looking at all the options in front of them, narrow the choices to some of the best options for them. Talk about simple ways to disqualify options to make some choices easier.

Used with Permission. Copyright 2015 by Kathy Koch.

What about you? How have you helped your teens deal with choices?

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Don’t Go Relivin’ What You Have Forgiven

Jill says: Even when you’re moving forward, it’s easy to want to bring up the past.

Mark says: It’s the human side of us that wants to throw something back into play that we settled in our heart or relationship a while ago.

Jill says: Just this past week, when Mark complimented me on being a “wonderful and thoughtful wife,” immediately I thought, “Well that’s not what you thought three years ago when you left me.” We weren’t arguing, we weren’t in a difficult place in our relationship, the affair is not something I even think of on a regular basis.  Yet, that’s what came to my mind!  Thankfully, I “took my thoughts captive” (2 Corinthians 10:5) and they didn’t exit my mouth!  However, even the fact that they entered my heart had to be something I dealt with before God. Lord I’m sorry that I’m trying to dig up what you have redeemed. 

Mark says: That happens to me as well.  When Jill is stressed and says something in a sharp tone, I can easily get sucked into thinking, “I’m outta here. I don’t need this.”  Even when things have been fine for months and there’s daily evidence that we’re doing well, my heart can quickly jump into the past and set up shop once again.

Relivin ForgivenJill says: In the Today’s Christian Woman article I wrote on rebuilding trust, I stated, “Mark didn’t need my tone of voice or choice of words to condemn, criticize, or punish him any further. Ultimately, we both had to resist the urge to react to one another in our hurt, responding instead with love and respect.”

Mark says: It doesn’t matter if what’s in the past is something big like an affair that happened years ago or it’s a conflict that happened  and was resolved yesterday, we have to resist the urge to bring up the past.  Forgiveness allows us to move forward, but in an effort of self-protection our heart longs to cling to the past.

We have to remember the part that spiritual warfare plays here. The enemy has come to “steal, kill, and destroy,” (John 10:10).  There’s a battle for your marriage each and every day and we have to resist the urge to play into the enemy’s hand.

Jill says: Sometimes when we want to lash out at one another it can be because there was conflict that was really never resolved.  However, much of the time, it creeps in even when it has been resolved, and even when forgiveness has been granted.

Don’t go relivin’ what you have forgiven. Those are the words I said to myself this week when I wanted to respond to Mark’s compliment with a snarky response.

Mark says: I do the same when I’m tempted to move the past into the present. It’s not always the easy thing to do, but it’s the right thing to do.

What about you? What do you need to leave in the past? Where do you need to resist taking the bait? 

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Quote of the Week

Quote-of-the-Week pic“Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn’t know you had, and dealing with fears you didn’t know existed.”

                                                        ~Linda Wooden

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You Have The Power To Inspire!

She played the same three measures of music over and over again, hoping that one of these times would help her remember the next part of the song.

She persevered, but then I saw the wetness at the corner of her eyes.

I sat down on the piano bench next to her and helped her remain calm and move on to the next part of the song so that she could maintain her dignity and consider the recital performance a success.

Third-Thursday-ThoughtsAs a music teacher, sometimes my presence, sometimes my words, and always my belief in the student provided just the inspiration needed in sometimes challenging moments.

As a wife and mother, those same things make a huge difference each and every day.  In fact, I’ve come to understand that my words and the tone of my voice can do more than I realize.  On one end of the spectrum my words and tone can tear down and on the other end of the spectrum, they can inspire.

God has given us incredible power to influence the lives of others positively or negatively. The Bible says quite alot about the influence we have particularly with our words, “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body,” (Proverbs 16:24) and “A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit,” (Proverbs 15:4) are just two of the reminders of the power we hold.

Today I’m linking up with other Hearts at Home Bloggers to grab hold of our power to inspire. You can hop around and find the encouragement you need to bring a positive influence to your spouse, your kids, and others in your circle of influence!

(If you receive my blog via email, you can find the blog hop links here!)

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