Ultimate Blog Party Day 2 Giveaway

Ultimate Blog Party 2011

If you’re here for the first time from the Ultimate Blog Party, welcome!  I blog regularly about faith, family, parenting, marriage, and more!  Stay around for a little while and find all the goodies on my blog.  Don’t miss the free downloads I have, too, as well as the Hearts at Home website where you’ll find even more encouragement!

Congratulations to Sarah (Naptimemomtog.com) and Crissyanna (createdforhome.net) who won yesterday’s drawing for a My Heart’s at Home book!  Thank you to all of you who entered the drawing…but even more importantly…thank you to everyone who shared how they are intentional in their mothering.  It was a great discussion yesterday and I was so inspired!

Today’s I’m giving away 3 copies of my latest book, Living With Less So Your Family Has More.  This Hearts at Home resource looks at living with stress, less activities, and less money than is culturally acceptable.  It challenges us to look more at what we gain when we downsize in some way, rather than seeing downsizing as a loss.

Alot of the living with less discussions we’ve had here on the blog have focused on living with less financially.  Today, however, I want us to share about decisions we have made to live with less stress.

Stress weighs us down, drains our energy, weakens our health, and invites us to be cranky. Stress is a distraction from the important things in life.  It robs us of the joy of mothering.

As moms, we have to be intentional about managing the stress in our lives.  We have to begin to say no, learn the art of self-care, and be intentional about proactively managing stress rather than reacting to it.

Let’s learn from each other today.  What is one change you have made to reduce stress in your life?  Or what is one strategy you use to manage stress on a regular basis?

I’ll start the discussion…One change I’ve made is learning how to say no to good opportunities so I can give those I love my best.  It’s taken some time for me to be comfortable with saying no more often than yes, but I’ve come to realize that every “yes” I say to activities outside the home is a “no” I say to my family.   Because I don’t actually utter the word “no” to my family, I didn’t realize I was initially doing this.  But in time, I’ve come to understand the reality of this.  Now I feel far less guilt when I say no because I know I’m saying yes to what’s most important!

So what about you? What is one change you have made to reduce stress in your life?  Or what is one strategy you use to manage stress on a regular basis?

Celebrations…your way!

Last night I caught up with one of my best friends, Becky. She was telling me how she spent yesterday with another friend of hers who was celebrating her birthday in a rather unique way.

It seems this friend found herself disappointed every year when her birthday rolled around because her husband and four teenagers didn’t acknowledge her special day like she hoped they would.  Instead of allowing disappointment to turn into bitterness and anger, this mom decided she would take things into her own hands this year for her birthday.

She announced to her family how she was going to spend her birthday.  She took the day off work, invited her daughters and several girlfriends to join her for lunch and antique shopping for the day and then had her daughters drop her off at her husband’s work in the late afternoon so he could take her out for dinner.  Her husband and teenagers seemed to have no problem meeting their moms birthday wishes…they were quite willing to join in the celebration she carefully communicated.

Becky said that she thought it was the neatest thing how her friend decided to take care of herself.  And I had to agree.

Most of us would “hope” that our family would plan a celebration in some way.  Sometimes that happens and sometimes it doesn’t.  Occasionally something someone else plans isn’t exactly the way that the birthday person would actually have liked to celebrate their special day.

What if we moved from being reactive to being proactive more often, cutting out disappointment before it could ever even creep into the picture?  What if we took more of a leadership role in how we’d like a special day to be celebrated (birthday, Mother’s Day, anniversary, etc) rather than “hoping” that our family members would think to ask us how we’d like to celebrate or better yet, read our mind and somehow miraculously match their plans with our desires.

I, for one, think Becky’s friend is on to something.  So what do you think?

Fresh Look, Fresh Words, Fresh Vision GIVEAWAY

Last Friday, I told you about Hearts at Home’s new logo and tagline. Today I want to introduce you to our brand new website! We’ve completed Phase I of our new website with a completely new look and easier navigation to find what you’re looking for. We also wanted fresh content everyday and now you’ll find these blog posts right on the front page of the Hearts at Home website!

Not only do we have our new website ready for you to explore, but we also have registration for all three of our 2011 conference events open!

To celebrate our fresh look today and the beginning of the 2011 conference registration period, today is a giveaway day. And this is a BIG giveaway.

We’re giving away:

* 2 conference registrations for the National Conference, March 11-12, Normal, IL
* 2 conference registrations for the Colorado Conference, Oct 7-8, Colorado Springs, CO
* 2 conference registrations for the Minnesota Conference, November 4-5, Rochester, MN
* 2 Conference-On-The-Go (formerly Home Conference Packets) for any of the 2011 events! (This allows you to “attend” the conference via CD’s!)

Here’s how you enter:

Go to www.hearts-at-home.org.  Click on “Events” and then pick the conference you would like to attend.  Click on the “Workshops” tab and read through all the workshops at that conference.  Choose one that would be your number one workshop choice.

Come back to www.jillsavage.org and comment on this post. (If you don’t know how to comment on a blog post, click HERE for directions.) 

And here’s how your comment needs to read to enter the giveaway:

1) Location of Conference you’d like to attend (or Conference-To-Go)
2) Name of Workshop you’d choose as your number one workshop choice
3) One thing you like about the new website
4) Your first name and email (i.e. jillannsavage (at) yahoo.com)

Comments may be submitted until 7am CT Wednesday when we’ll draw names and post the winners by 9am Wednesday.

This is one of the biggest giveaways Hearts at Home has ever offered!  I’m so excited and I hope you are too!

Marriage Monday: Stop Making Excuses

Last Monday we talked about the value of “checking in” based upon the book Your Spouse Isn’t The Person You Married by Paul and Teri Reisser.  Today’s Marriage Monday is about the need to stop making excuses and start doing the things we need to do in our marriage.

Jill says…
Last Fall Mark and I were given the gift of a portable rental hot tub to use for a couple of months. (We didn’t even know you could rent hot tubs…but you can!) We were determined to use it every night since we would only have it for a limited time.

Mark says…
Each night after our boys would go to bed, Jill and I would head out to the hot tub to talk and talk and talk.  We began to look forward to our nightly conversations that took us away from listening ears, away from the television and the computer.

Jill says…
When we went to the Blessing Ranch last November for a week, each day we processed life and the upcoming ministry change we were navigating with John Walker, our counselor for the week.  Throughout the week Mark and I kept referring to conversations we’d had in the hot tub that fall.  After our fourth or fifth reference to a hot tub conversation, John finally said, “Hey guys, I know that a hot tub seems like a luxury, but I’m thinking for you guys it just may be a necessity.”

Mark says…
We laughed at the thought, especially in light of our upcoming transition where we would lose 75% of our income.  Throughout this past year Jill and I continued our talk time to the best of our ability, but mid-year we both said, “I miss our hot tub time.”

Jill says…
We felt there was no way we could ever consider a hot tub in our current economic situation, but we knew what we had experienced last fall had strengthened our marriage in huge ways.  We decided to start praying about a hot tub and Mark began earnestly searching the internet…we just couldn’t imagine that we could find something we could actually afford.

Mark says…
One day I was checking on Craig’s List and I found a hot tub for $200.  It was located in Southern Wisconsin (we live in Central IL) so it was about 5 hours from our home.  A friend and I made a road trip to get it.  Once we got it home, I was able to build a base mostly from wood we already had. It’s an older model that’s not fancy at all, but it works just fine for us!

Jill says…
Now every night, Mark and I have our “checking in” time to download what we are thinking and feeling out under the stars…even in 20 degree weather!  We love it!

Mark says...
Jill and I do a lot of marriage mentoring and in doing so, we hear a lot of excuses: we can’t date because we don’t have the time, we can’t be intimate because the kids sleep in our bed, we can’t talk because we’re too tired, we can’t….because…you fill in the blanks.

We almost fell into that ourselves…”We can’t have our talk time outside because we can’t afford a hot tub.”  And certainly that might still be the excuse we were using if we didn’t find what we longed for in our price range.  However, even if we didn’t ever find a hot tub that we could afford, we might still be making excuses for not having our much-needed “checking in” time rather than finding a way to make it happen.

Jill says…
We all make excuses and those excuses keep us from moving forward.  It’s time for all of us to stop making excuses and start doing the things we need to do to nurture our marriage.  For some of us that means making an appointment with a counselor to get the help we need.  For others it means setting a regular date night that we plan for and protect.  And some of us need to figure out how to have a weekly “check in” time to talk and share and stay connected to our spouse.

What about you?  What are you willing to stop making excuses for in order to start moving forward in your marriage? 

Marriage Monday: The Value of "Download" Time

Mark and I have been reading a book together called Your Spouse Isn’t The Person You Married: Keeping Your Love Strong Through Life’s Changes by Paul and Teri Reisser.  Today’s Marriage Monday is focused on staying connected to your spouse during the changes that life brings.

Jill says…
When I first picked up the Reisser’s book, I was fascinated by the title alone.  What does it mean that your spouse isn’t the person you married?  It didn’t take too long for me to understand what the Reisser’s provocative title meant.  Here’s an explanation in their own words:

“The person lying beside you in bed night after night, year after years, is not the same individual who stood with you at the altar on your wedding day.  Everyone changes.  Everyone’s worldview evolves because we are thinking, emotional creatures.  It’s naive and foolish to believe that the views, opinions, and values held by you or the person you married were cast in concrete on your wedding day.” (pg 32)

Mark says…
What an incredible concept, but one that many married couples don’t really comprehend…including us. While I understood the concept personally, I’d never considered the implications that it had for our marriage. 

Jill says…
The Reisser’s believe that couples need to not only have date nights where they enjoy each other’s company, but that they should also have intentional “checking in” time where they talk about what they are thinking, feeling, and discovering.  This is a weekly time to “download” your thoughts and feelings with your spouse.

Mark says…
Here’s the Reisser’s perspective in their own words,

A wise spouse understands the critical importance of creating a scheduled and protected space on the calendar for the sole agenda of allowing the other person an opporunity to put into words what is currently incubating in the heart and mind. (pg 32)

Jill says…
This is something Mark and I discovered on our own last fall when we received the gift of a portable hot tub for two months.  Each night we would sit out in the hot tub and talk and talk and talk.  This was an important part of us navigating our career transition last fall. We talked, shed tears, listened to each other’s hearts, extended forgiveness, and made plans for the future. 

We learned the value of “downloading” and we experienced a deeper intimacy in our relationship than we had in a long time. 

Mark says…
As Jill was reading parts of this book aloud to me one night we both realized that what the Reisser’s are proposing is EXACTLY what we experienced last fall. We didn’t have a name for it, but we knew it made a difference!

Jill says…
We have found that “checking in” is an extremely valuable part of our relationship.  And honestly, we try to do it even more often than once a week (more about our “checking in” strategy in next week’s Marriage Monday!).

Mark says…
We highly recommend this book.  It’s full of just the right amount of wit to keep you entertained and a great amount of wisdom to keep the intimacy alive in your marriage.

Jill says…
Here are some questions the Reisser’s suggest for “checking in” time:

1. What was the best thing that happened to you this week?

2. What was the worst thing?

3. How did I best meet your needs this week?

4. How did I least meet your needs this week? (Be careful: Don’t become defensive when you hear the answer.  Just listen!)

5. What could I have done differently in that situation that would have been more helpful for us?

6. What are you the most worried about right now?

7. Is there any way I can help you with that concern?

8. What are you feeling right now?

If you don’t have much time, the Reisser’s say that questions 6 and 7 are the most important with #7 being the absolute most important question. (pg 41)

So what about you? Have you found a way to have regular time to “download” with your spouse?  Would you consider putting some “checking in” time on your weekly calendar?

Focus on the Family WEBCAST Today!

Today I’ll be joining the discussion on the weekly Focus on the Family live webcast for moms!

This time, however, I’ll be doing so from the comfort of my home and the technology of Skype!  The topic of the one hour show will be “Family Finances.”  I’ll be sharing principles shared in Living With Less So Your Family Has More!

You can watch the webcast on the Focus on the Family site today by clicking HERE. This is once again an interactive webcast.  You can phone in or email questions during the webcast.

Webcast Times:

  • Pacific: 11am-noon
  • Mountain: Noon-1pm
  • Central: 1-2pm
  • Eastern: 2-3pm

I hope you’ll join in the discussion today!
(If you can’t join in live, you can always catch the archived show at a later time!) 

Don’t Make a Mountain out of a Molehill

So after school today one of my son’s friends told him that I was the coolest mom ever.  Why?  Because I didn’t get mad when Austin somewhat inconvenienced me.

Now I can tell you that there have been many times that I didn’t handle that kind of situation well, but today I handled it right.  After it happened, it got me thinking about a phrase my dad used to use with us when my sisters and I were little: Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.

That’s what I do sometimes as a mom.  When I make mountains out of molehills I cause chaos, wound my family members, and even make my home an emotionally unsafe place to be.

When Dr. Kevin Leman spoke at Hearts at Home, he addressed this very issue.  He said, “When a kid spills a glass of milk, they don’t need a lecture.  They need a rag to clean it up.”  What a practical picture of keeping a molehill a molehill.  It’s a little bump in life, but it doesn’t need to get me emotionally charged up.  

I was thinking about today’s situation.  Why was I able to keep it in molehill status?  I can think of several reasons why:
1) My schedule was light today.  When I pack too much in my schedule, I have little emotional room for inconveniences.
2) I simply “let it go.”  It wasn’t a big deal and I didn’t make it into a big deal. 
3) I smiled as I was interacting with Austin.  Seriously, that may seem like a small thing, but it was huge.  It kept me grounded and helped me respond to the situation with a right heart, rather than react to it inappropriately.

I addressed this issue in my book My Heart’s at Home in a chapter titled “Home as a Safehouse.”  It’s a concept I’ve learned a lot about, but I’m still on a learning curve.  And I blow it sometimes.  Thankfully I got it right today, but from the reaction of my son’s friend, I would guess I’m not the only mom who makes that mistake.

Do you make mountains out of molehills in your home?  Would you like to join me in keeping molehills in perspective?  I’d love to hear that I’m not alone in this.  Do you have any practical suggestions on how you keep from turning molehills into mountains?

Day 2 Focus on the Family Real Moms…Real Jesus Radio Broadcast!

It’s Day 2 of the Real Moms…Real Jesus Discussion on the Focus on the Family Radio Program.  I so enjoyed my time with Dr. Kevin Leman (left) and John Fuller (right) for this radio program! 

If you are a mom, tell your friends about this encouraging discussion.  If you missed Part 1 you can still listen online here.

Part 2 will be airing all day today and can be listened to online here.

And don’t forget to mark your calendars for the brand new LIVE webcast for moms I’m helping Focus on the Family launch tomorrow!  It’s interactive….which means you can interact with us during the webcast!  Here’s the schedule for the one hour show for anyone who lives in the U.S.:
11am Pacific Time
Noon Mountain Time
1pm Central Time
2pm Eastern Time

Invite your mom friends to join in the fun!