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When Words Hurt Rather Than Heal

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“I just say what I think, and if people don’t like it…. oh, well!”

Have you ever heard that phrase before? I have, and when I hear it it makes me cringe inside.

On the flip side there are people who say what they think and don’t even realize their words are piercing the soul of the hearer.

We spend so much of our time behind a screen- computer, phone, television- that we sometimes forget a real-life, living, breathing person is on the receiving end of our words. We have lost the art of tact and the mindset of consideration for the feelings of others, and we rush headlong into airing our thoughts and unrefined feelings for the world to hear and read.

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Words can be beautiful, though.

Have you read the Declaration of Independence,  Little Women, the Chronicles of Narnia,  the poems of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, or John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress? The beauty of these words have lasted a few hundred years and will continue to be passed down to following generations.

However, the words that we see through social media and hear in conversations, radio, and television have eroded over time and are not always fit for young eyes and ears. Rather than using the countless beautiful words that God has put into our vocabulary and that Daniel Webster put into his extensive dictionary, our culture has chosen a limited number of  words and uses them to express every emotion known to man.

The saying “Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me” is not as true as we want it to be.

Yes, sticks and stones hurt us physically, but words hurt our soul.

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Words can eat away at the very fiber of our being.

Words can cause our stomachs to knot and twist.

Words can make us feel sick inside of our bones.

Words said in the heat of the moment can divide.

Words said in haste can cause irreparable damage.

Words thoughtlessly spoken can sever longtime relationships.

As always, God has something to say about the words that we use.

Ephesians 4:29- Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

Words can heal when they are seasoned with grace (Colossians 4:6).

Words can be as beautiful as a plate of golden apples in a setting of silver (Proverbs 25:11).

Words can correct behavior when spoken in love (Ephesians 4:15)

Words can unite when spoken quietly and not shouted over others (Proverbs 15:1).

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Maybe it’s because my love language is words of affirmation that I am more in tune to the pain and joy words can bring. When I hear words directed at my children with a tone that speaks down to them rather than lifting them up, my heart hurts. When I view social media and see people shouting at each other from both sides of the aisle trying to be heard but not making any headway because their words are cutting and abrasive, I want to throw my hands up, slap the lid down on my laptop, and walk away in frustration. When I hear politicians use their words to manipulate, my faith in our governmental systems is shattered.

But when I open up my Bible and read the Words that God has inspired, my soul is renewed again.

As a Purposeful Woman,  we can choose to be intentional with our words online, with our acquaintances, friends, coworkers, but most importantly our families. We can ask God for wisdom in finding the right words that will unite rather than creating chasms.

As a Purposeful Wife, we can choose to let our words bring life to our husband’s tired heart after a long day of work. Ask God to allow your words to be a soothing balm for his tired and weary soul.

As a Purposeful Mom, we can choose to use words that build our children up and solidify the value we place on them. Beyond our four wall there will be words a plenty vying for the opportunity to whittle our children’s souls down. Our words need to reinforce to them that they are fearfully and wonderfully made.

There are people all around us who are in need of healing. Our nation is in need of healing. May God use the words we speak (and post) to bring healing to the hurting.

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The Most Common Lie Women Believe About Their Purpose

For Such a Time as This…” How many of us have found ourselves uplifted and encouraged time and again after hearing this inspiring phrase shared during a retelling of Esther from the Bible?

The Biblical account of Esther is an epic and momentous story in Israel’s history; a true “Cinderella-like” narrative of an orphan girl who wins the ultimate beauty pageant. Chosen from among many women to be the wife of King Artaxerxes, she was to become the queen of the Persian Empire.

While Esther lives in the lap of luxury, things begin to look more like a nightmare than a dream for her people, the Jews. Hmmm… Maybe this “rags to riches” story wasn’t simply all about giving an “underdog” a “happy ending” after all. Maybe God had a bigger plan for her life than merely elevating her status in order to make her more comfortable in life….

To read the rest of my post, please click HERE! It will take you to my friend Tehila’s blog at Women Abiding, where I was given the privilege of writing a guest post on her inspiring blog…

And while you’re there reading the rest of the article, be sure to check out the rest of Tehila’s blog! This sweet and uplifting woman of God lives in New Zealand! She’s an amazing wife and mom, who loves the Lord, her family, and truly has a heart for encouraging women. You’ll thoroughly enjoy what she has to share. 

Tehila is offering the following FREE printable on this page to go with my post on Women Abiding.

Download

 

When in Barnes & Noble, Play with the Trains!

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Over time, as the Lord has begun to open my eyes regarding my need for being more intentional as a mom, I’ve come to the realization that there are additional relationship building opportunities beyond playtime at home that would benefit from me being more engaged and present in the moment…

And, you know, it really didn’t take too long for an opportunity to present itself where I could actually begin taking practical steps in that direction.

In fact, the opportunity came one day as I was at the local mall with my son.

On this particular day I decided to take my little guy to the oh-so beautiful bookstore by the name of Barnes & Noble. You know it well yourself… It’s the one with a Starbucks coffee shop tucked neatly in the corner with small tables that invite you to just sit and cozy up quietly for an hour or two with a good book…

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In days past, that could have been something a “pre-mommy” woman like you or I could perhaps leisurely consider as a relaxed destination option, but these days, that’s not our draw. No, it’s what’s directly in front of us when we enter the store that brings us the “greatest” joy!

…The two escalators leading up to the “pot of gold” at the top of the “rainbow”!!!

And you, my friends, know the very place I’m talking about… Because it’s every stroller-pushing parent’s go-to spot!!!

The CHILDREN”S BOOKS SECTION!!!

Hooray!!!! (Yes, we are all looking for things to do with our little ones these day, and Barnes & Nobles just seems to get that. Oh how we love you B&N!)

Once we reach the top of the rainbow- by taking the elevator, of course-  we excitedly remind our little ones that we are about to arrive at our primary destination in that area…the train table!!!!

Okay, Class, now let’s all say it together, “Hooray for the trains!”

Our little ones are excited and so are we. We love them oh-so much and just want them to have the most fabulous time and loads of fun every single day… Truly that’s just something God placed in our hearts as parents.

So, we stroll our little ones over to the train table and lovingly lift little “Johnny” or “Suzie” out of the stroller and repeat, “Yay! Look where we are! The Trains!!! Hooray for the trains!!!”

And then what do we do next……..?

WE…SIT…ON….THE….CHAIRS……….

…And we get on our iPhones while they play.

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No… Of course the story’s not over… because on this particular day, I was really excited about being more intentional as a mom and giving my son the gift of my focus and attention.

I hadn”t started writing the blog post on “Confessions of a Self-Diagnosed ADD Mom” just yet, but God was already working on my heart regarding my need for being more engaged during playtime with my son.

So, my friends…. On this day….

“Yes, yes?” I can hear you say. (Oh, I just know all of you are holding your breath.)

On this day…..!!!!

I decided to PLAY WITH THE TRAINS! (Cue the applause soundtrack, as I curtsy and take a dramatic bow.)

Yes, Dear Friends. I decided to play with my son at the train table. No, I may not be the best at playing trains, but truthfully that doesn’t really even matter….because it’s my time and focused attention that are what truly counts during moments like these.

And you know what…. In addition to enjoying the time with my son at the train table and seeing him happy that I was involved in train play, something also took place that helped reinforce the value of making that decision. I was actually able to catch a glimpse of what that time “could have been like” if my mindset had not been changed earlier that day by the awareness of my need to be more intentional in my focus during playtime with my son.

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A few minutes into our play, another parent also came to the train table with his little girl. (She was probably around three or four. And “Hooray for the trains!!!” was, I’m sure, his thought as well.)

But viewing this scenario, from my place at the train table with my son, was almost like watching my own version of Charles Dickin’s classic “A Christmas Carol”….as I watched a past version of myself in his response to the amazing train table.

He brought his child to the train table…

He sat on a chair…

And then he went on his iPhone…

I think at one point, he even asked his little girl to look at him, perhaps for a picture… (And sadly, I could identify…) As parents we sometimes think, “Let’s take a picture of our cute little one in this moment, while he/she is doing something fun…” All the while, we as parents are not active participants in that fun.)

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying all of our photos as parents are of moments in which we are not actively present. But in this moment, I could identify with that father from times past at the same train table.

Yes, take pictures of your children having fun. Yes, celebrate along with them that there is a train table at the “top of the rainbow” in Barnes & Noble…

But, for goodness sake… Play with the trains!

And leave the chairs empty…

And let your iPhones starve for your your attention….

Because in this moment, only one can be fed… And it’s either your phone or your child.

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When Your Child Is Having a “Super-Bad Terrible Day”!

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We all have those days.

Those days when right from the start it feels like one thing after another goes terribly wrong.

As adults, we understand that throwing tantrums, plopping down on the floor, and crying are not options for us. We have learned the fine art of hiding our feelings, of smiling through the hurt, of putting bandaids on the wounds and moving on.

Children have not.

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Children don’t always understand why bad things happen. They don’t know how to hide their feelings. They cry when they get hurt emotionally or physically. They wear their feelings on their sleeve.

And while that is not always a bad thing, as a parent it is always nice to have a resource we can reach for when our children are not sure how to respond or react in a given situation.

Virginia Finnie, author of two fantastic Christian children’s books, Hey, Warrior Kids! Grab Your Sling Shot! and Hey, Warrior Kids! Put On Your Armor!has written another book entitled, It’s a Super-Bad Terrible Day. 

Virginia wrote this book for her own grandson to help him not only understand that these days will happen, but how to respond when they do.

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I read this book to both of my children (8 and 4 years old) and they both enjoyed it. I personally liked that the main character was not named, and the story was told using the pronoun “you.” Reading this story to both kids simultaneously, I felt that the story was very personal to each of them because it was written in such a way that they felt they were the main character of the story.

From the moment the child in the story wakes up, something happens that could turn his day into a disaster. He wakes up to a messy room and hurts his foot, two embarrassing moments happen at school, a situation happens at recess, and a little brother incident at home all make for what could be the worst day ever in the life of a kid. Yet, with each situation, a practical way to respond is given that helps the child see that the circumstances are not as bad as they seem and there is a way to salvage the moment and the day.

Although in this particular book Scripture is not used, there are so many ways we as parents can pull Biblical lessons out of this book. These are some of the verses that we discussed as we read each situation in the story, ending with Lamentations 3:21-23 because God’s mercies are new every morning and we have a fresh start to each new day.

Ephesians 4:26- Be angry and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.

Proverbs 29:23- A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.

Ephesians 4:32- Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Psalm 133:1- Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!

Lamentations 3:21-23- This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.

When our children are having a “Super-Bad Terrible Day!” it is always important to remind them that God is still in control and that His mercies are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness!

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform Year: 2016 Pages: 32 ISBN: 978-1523978977 Retail Price: $9.99

You can read more about Virginia Finnie at her website Hey, Warrior Kids!

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Worth the Wait: Our Love Story

“When will he ever come? Will I ever get married? What will he look like?” I’m sure every single girl has had these thoughts.

And although I don’t think I ever had a mental picture of what I wanted my future husband to look like, I did know the kind of man I wanted him to be.

I wanted him to have a heart for the Lord, have character and integrity, a man who honored his parents, and would love me and treat me with kindness and respect. Someone who worked hard and was financially stable and mature.

The years dragged on, though, and it seemed as if meeting my spouse was something that would happen “sometime” in the ever-looming future… a future that always seemed so out of reach.

It wouldn’t be until I turned 29 that I would finally meet my husband, who had also been waiting a while himself. At the right time, though, we did finally meet… through a new (and now more popular) platform for meeting one’s future spouse… via an online dating site that you all may have heard of…. called Christian Mingle!

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My dad was actually the one who suggested the idea to me, so I knew that in my case it would be okay. In his words, “They’ll never know you exist unless you put yourself out there”. And with the pickings being slim in the area where I lived at the time… I decided to go ahead and check it out for myself.

(One thing I will say to my single adult readers, though is this… While there are many “fish in the sea” on dating sites, not all of them are the perfect catch. So if you are considering online dating, be careful and very selective. If you’re too desperate, you can certainly end up with a guy…but not the one God has for you. And that could be devastating. Waiting for the right one is always best, and surrounding yourself with wise counselors and friends that can help you avoid many Mr. Wrongs is also highly advised.)

After a while of looking through a few online sites and seeing a lot of “Mr. Wrongs” myself, the day after my birthday in 2009, I happened to notice that one particular handsome guy had looked at my profile on Christian Mingle. And what he had to say really proved to me right away that he was the real deal- not simply a Christian in “name” only but in life as well.

How did I know this?

He had written in his profile that “Christ has to be at the center of the relationship.” (Hmmm…not many other guys seemed to be that serious enough on a Christian site to post a comment like that. I could just tell this guy was legit.)

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So, “brave” little me (who was usually pretty shy around guys) decided to initiate the talk by sending a pre-made comment. He then replied and asked if I was interested in us getting to know each other better. We weren’t actual subscribers at the time to the site, but both of us decided to join to move along further in conversation. Later I learned that (just before meeting me), he was considering getting off the site completely. So, YES!!! I got him just in time!

We then began chatting by instant message and by phone, and he was just so kind and respectful. He amazed me by always wanting to know details about my day. (Wow, a guy who could actually be interested in the details of my life?! I was impressed.) And after meeting my dad and getting the “green light” to date me, we began the process of getting to know each other in person.

Throughout our dating relationship, Jim was always so respectful and kind, and from the start he proved that he was really investing in me personally as a potential mate. He would drive a distance of an hour and fifteen minutes for each date just to pick me up and take me out for the day. After the date, he would then return me to my sister’s home where I lived at the time, and then make the drive all the way back to his home. He was a true gentleman and still proves to this day that chivalry is still very much alive.

Together we chose to save our first kiss for our wedding day and also chose to remain abstinent until marriage, out of our respect for God and each other. It is a decision we will always be thankful that we made. No regrets.

A year after our intial meeting we were married, and it just so happened that my 30th birthday fell on a Saturday that summer. So, I was thankful that he actually allowed me to choose the day, because he is definitely the best birthday gift I have received or ever will receive for my birthday. Hey, and I waited 30 years for him! What an awesome present to celebrate a milestone birthday, right?!

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While as a single the time may have seemed to drag on in wondering how or if I’d ever find my husband, at almost 36 years old now looking back, I can see how God’s timing in my life was just perfect. I honestly don’t think I could have been the woman my husband needed before that point.

You see, when you feel like you need a husband in your life in order to give you the affirmation and confidence you need, it’s probably not the right timing. I know I needed to learn how to find my contentment in the Lord without having another person in my life to provide that affirmation first.

Yes, I had to learn to be content apart from any other person and also learn to be the kind of woman my husband would need as a blessing in his life… Because true love is really about giving of yourself for the benefit of another… not “mainly” looking for all that you can get out of it for yourself and simply your own “happiness”.

But you know what the awesome thing is… When Jesus is at the center of your relationship and both hearts (of the husband and wife) are yielded to his leading, both individuals become equal beneficiaries in the marriage relationship. It isn’t as if one is sacrificing so only the other is happy in the marriage. With both people having a heart to freely give their love away and looking out for the other’s interests (as opposed to simply looking out for their own), the two end up being a blessing and meeting the needs of the other while also reaping the blessings themselves.

That’s the kind of marriage we have, and that’s the kind of marriage I want to see other singles have when they find their future spouse… And it happens when Jesus is at the center of your life and marriage… and when you choose to wait on His perfect timing for the one He is preparing for you.

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Do You Have a Routine?

When we hear the words “schedule” or “routine” we usually cringe on the inside. To many, those words mean that we do not have freedom in our lives to do what we want, when we want. We live in a time when spontaneity is almost revered and having a schedule/routine is viewed as a freedom stealer.

Yet, we expect teachers to have a schedule for their classrooms so we know that they will have enough time in each day to teach what children need to learn for the school year. We expect doctors to schedule our appointments and keep to the schedule as closely as possible so our time is not wasted in the waiting room.

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As a homeschooling mother myself, I was torn between the freedom that homeschooling gave me in terms of the flow of our day and the personal need for my time to be assigned so my responsibilities could be completed.

Honestly, doing the same exact thing day in and day out can seem somewhat dull, and the longing for a bit of excitement, a change of pace, or the unexpected can weigh on the back of my mind…. until that change comes, and then I long for my monotonous routine again.

And then I went to our annual Classical Conversations Practicum and read this:

“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead.” G. K. Chesterton

Children want routine. They want to know what is coming next. They enjoy sameness and repetition….. even if it leaves mom feeling nearly dead.

But what is a routine? A routine is an unvarying and constantly repeated formula, as of speech or action; and a convenient or predictable response: a customary or regular course of procedure. [source]

Basically, it is a series of steps that you take throughout your day. It does not have a specified time, but it happens with regularity, the same way each and every day to the point where you no longer have to think about which step comes next.

Think of a gymnast. She has practiced her routines whether for the uneven bars, balance beams, floor exercise or vault so many times that her body knows exactly what is expected of it. The muscle memory has been so refined that she is mentally present to make sure each step is made with precision without having to wonder what she is supposed to do next. She can do these routines at any time of the day- no specific time has been assigned to each move- but she knows exactly which move will come next.

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On a personal level, we do not have a specific time that our kids have to wake up, but when they do wake up, there are four things that need to be done (Addie has five things).

  1. Read the Bible (Addie has a devotional she reads, and Ian has a picture Bible he looks through)
  2. Make the bed (Ian puts his blanket and pillow on his bed)
  3. Get dressed
  4. Brush your teeth
  5. (Addie has to feed her fish)

I have a few routines that guide my day as well.

Morning routine (This is the best way for me to start my day. I usually have successful days as long as I complete the majority of this routine…. but sometimes life happens…. like the time I had one little monkey jumping on the bed and then doctor visits trumped my day.)

  • Devotions
  • Basic morning bathroom routine
  • Throw a load into the washer
  • Pack Brian’s lunch
  • Make breakfast
  • Send Brian off
  • Clean up after breakfast
  • Get dressed
  • Devotions with the kids
  • Prep dinner
  • Make sure house is in order

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Kids’ bedtime routine (except for nights that we are out late, this time is very important to my children)

  • Baths
  • Watch one 30-45 minute show
  • Read a chapter from a classic book to both kids together, talk together (Currently, we are reading through Pooh’s Library by A. A. Milne)
  • Read a few Bible stories to Ian alone, sing with him, pray (Currently, we are reading through 99 Stories from the Bible by Juliet David)
  • Read one or two chapters to Addie from a book we are reading together, talk, pray (Right now we are half way through Selah’s Sweet Dream by Susan Count)

My evening routine (what I have to do each evening to prepare myself for the next day)

  • Check my planner for what is on the schedule for the following day
  • Prepare anything that is needed for the following day and place it by the front door
  • Lay out clothes for the following day (mine and kids)
  • Prep Brian’s lunch
  • Defrost meat for dinner the following day
  • Shower

Notice, there are no times set for any of the routines, no specified lengths of time for anything on the list. Because of my calendar, if we have to leave the house, I know what time we have to be out the door, but the routines can be done at whatever pace is necessary for the day.

1 Corinthians 14:40 says, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” When I follow our routines our days flow beautifully, there is less stress, and my children have a quieter spirit because they know what to expect and there are no sudden surprises in their little worlds.

Do I always enjoy following our routines? The honest answer is no. As much as my personality loves order, the other side of me hates monotony. But as the monotony of routine can sometimes push me into a rut, I like to think of the rest of G. K. Chesterton’s quote which reminds me of how much I appreciate the routines the God has put into our natural world:

“For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun, and every evening, “Do it again’ to the moon.”

Do you have a routine that you can’t live without? Let us know what works for you.

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12 Principles for 12 Years of Marriage

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This weekend, Brian and I will be celebrating 12 years of marriage. (You can read about our engagement here and our wedding here and here.)

In those twelve years we have experienced major purchases, the loss of close family members, the births of two children, personal growth, spiritual growth, job changes for me, and finding true, meaningful friendships with others.

Obviously, there is no such thing as a perfect marriage (and if anyone says they have one- they’re lying!), but we have had a great marriage.

I began thinking about what are some basic principles in our marriage that have helped us in our relationship with each other.

Jesus is the center of our relationship- Early in our marriage, our young couples Sunday school teacher taught that the marriage relationship is like a triangle. Each point on the triangle was one of the three members in the relationship- God, your spouse, and yourself. The closer you both move in the direction of God, the closer you get to each other.

Try it! Get a paper, write down the three names in your relationship (with God being at the top most point, put your fingers on the names of you and your spouse and move toward the top point. Cool, huh?

Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (NASB) If we seek Jesus above all, all of the other things in our lives (including our marriages) will fall into place. Will it always be cake walk? No. But having Jesus at the center will keep all of the pieces in place.

Permission to ask each other the hard questions- One of the foundations of a good marriage is trust. Sometimes, in order to establish that trust, we have to ask the hard questions, not  just the surface questions. Questions that deal with integrity, faithfulness, and the heart. All the way back to our dating days, we gave each other permission to ask the hard questions. But if you are going to ask hard questions the next principle has to also be established….

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Total and complete truth and honesty- When asked a hard question, our rule is that complete truth and honesty has to be the answer. After twelve years of marriage, we have established a firm foundation in honesty and truth. We have also learned how to respond to each other in a way that there is no apprehension in being completely honest. (It also helps to have married someone with a predisposition to being truthful. For any Divergent fans out there, Brian would totally be Candor! The jury is still out on which faction I would fit into.)

Full support of each other’s endeavors- Our spouses come to us with things they enjoy doing. Sometimes, our spouse wants to go out on a limb and try something new. Supporting our spouse and their endeavors is crucial.

Brian loves sports. When we were dating he was part of a softball team. While we were engaged, he played basketball with a league (and won the championship I might add). When we were first married, he played basketball in our church gym with some of the other guys. After we had Addie, he rejoined a softball team. He has been a part of Fantasy sports leagues for as long as I have known him…. and I have supported each of these. But I have found that supporting him  does not mean we stay in that place forever. Because he has the space and freedom to enjoy these, when he feels the time has come for him to hang it up, he does. I don’t have to tell him to. I don’t have to push him to.

In turn, when a few years ago I was asked to be the interim Children’s Ministry Director at our church, I had Brian’s full support and backing. He jumped in and helped me with chores that had always been “mine” so I could effectively do what I needed to do without worry about my house duties.

Having “our thing”- Do you and your spouse have a “thing”? Something specific to you? Something you enjoy doing together? Brian and I enjoy closing the evening by sitting on the couch with a cup of coffee while watching a show on Netflix. We like to do series shows because we get invested in the lives of the characters (and, yes, I always cry when the series ends). During the shows, something we see may trigger a thought that leads to a conversation. We keep the remote between us so either of us can grab it at anytime, pause the show, talk/laugh/remember something from earlier that day with the kids or work, and then get right back into the show. It’s our thing.

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Communication- Communication is more than just talking about your day. As Peta tells Catniss in Hunger Games: Catching Fire, “Friends talk about the deep stuff.” How did something make you feel? Did you read or hear something that made you think? Do you have plans, goals, or ambitions for your family? Is there a direction you want to go, but you need support? These are all questions that can get you started in communication. Just don’t ask them during a sports game… or when he’s really hungry.

We have begun working on communication skills with our children. At dinner we play a game called “High and Low.” We go around the table and each person has to share their “high” for the day and their “low” for the day. That jump starts us into asking deeper questions and moves the conversation further.

And if you are really at a shortage for ideas, you can always take Peta’s cue and ask for a favorite color.

Respecting each other’s role in the relationship- Brian works full time outside of the house, I am a full-time stay at home homeschooling mom. Brian brings home a paycheck, I am investing into the lives of our children. We have chosen these roles for ourselves, and we respect the role we each play in our marriage. No one is looked down on for not bringing in a paycheck, and no one is more revered for bringing home the bacon. Each role is respected…. and when necessary, we gladly help the other in any way we can.

Respecting each other’s convictions- Marriage is made of two people from two different original families with two different sets of convictions. Regardless of whether you agree with the convictions your spouse came in to the marriage with, respecting those convictions is important. Convictions are deeply embedded feelings of right and wrong, and telling someone they are silly to hold a conviction is wrong and definitely not going to build your relationship closer. If anything, it will push you apart.

I came from a home where going to the movies was not permitted. My parents had their reasons for making those rules which I completely understand and respect (they grew up in a time when movie theaters were used for making out in and wanted us to avoid seeing that). Because of those rules, Brian and I did not go to the movies while we were dating even though Brian had no problem with movie theaters. He completely respected the convictions of my family and never questioned them. It took several years of marriage and God establishing my own personal convictions in my heart for me to say it was okay for me to go to the movies with my husband. But I am thankful that there was never any pressure from him to change my convictions.

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Always looking out for one another- We each know our spouses strengths and weakness better than anyone else. We know if they are biting off more than they can chew. We know if they are spreading themselves too thin. We know if they are allowing themselves to be a doormat. It’s our job to look out for each other.

Beyond supporting each other, we have always been a sounding board as well. I would remind Brian that as much as I loved watching him play sports, he needed to pull back a bit of the enthusiasm. Pulling hamstrings, spraining ankles, and popping his neck out of place (all things that really did happened) did not allow him to fulfill his responsibilities to our family. In turn, when I make too many plans, Brian reminds me to pull the brakes and plan a few days where we do not leave the house to get the rest the kids and I need.

Freely giving grace- There are going to be days when things don’t get done, when the grass gets too tall, when it has been so busy there are no clean towels, when dirty clothes are left on the bathroom floor,  and when take out needs to be picked up. And that is where grace comes in. Grace doesn’t nit pick at what wasn’t done. Grace looks at what was done.

Grace sees the husband who works hard everyday, who comes home exhausted, and lets his kids jump on him.

Grace sees the wife who has taken her kids out of the house for the day, who has given them new experiences to put under their belt, and who still completes the bedtime routine even though she just wants to put her feet up.

We all need grace.

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Laughing/having fun together- Can you laugh with each other over the smallest thing? Can you have fun with each other anywhere? Can you turn an evening at home into an adventure?

We have had progressive dinners around the house.

We have laughed hysterically over the no clean towels incident mentioned above.

We have pulled out plastic hangers, pretended they are bows and arrows, and chased the kids around the house while shouting Robin Hood quotes.

We have made popcorn, rented a long awaited movie, and created a date night for ourselves.

We have pulled up carpeting (and laughed), rearranged furniture, and turned it into an adventure.

We have looked for all of the loose change in our home and cars and gone on a date with just that and discovered how creative we could really be.

Spending quality time together without the kids- Children are a blessing. Always. But one day our children will grow up and leave us. Will you be left with a stranger or with your best friend?

Growing up, my parents always went away once a year by themselves. Sometimes it was for a weekend, sometimes it was for a week. But they always spent time together without us. And Brian and I have followed suite.

Now, you don’t always have to go away. Having a date night works. If you can’t pull off getting a babysitter,  you can spend time together at home, too. One of my favorite sites for at home date night ideas is the Dating Divas website.

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And because the day after our wedding anniversary is the 13th anniversary of our first date, here is a bonus principle.

Don’t allow friendships to replace the deep relationship that should be shared with your husband- Friendships are valuable. Friendships are important. But don’t ever allow a friendship to replace the relationship you have with your spouse. The relationship you share needs to be protected, cherished, and valued more highly than any other relationship you have.

Confessions of a “Self-Diagnosed” ADD Mom

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Bored and easily distracted… It wasn’t long before I realized my problem and decided to just go ahead and personally diagnose myself.

Let’s just go ahead and say it… I was experiencing an attention deficit disorder when it came to playtime with my son.

Okay, so no, I wasn’t always distracted… I did “try” to play, but I’ll have to admit that when I became bored of playing with cars or couldn’t find my imagination when making conversation with dinosaurs (I don’t know how many times I’ve asked how they’re doing), my mind could easily take me and my attention away from my son and either straight to social media or something else that I might find to be more interesting in that moment….even cleaning up.

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Okay, okay… you need to give a mom some grace, right? (I know what most of you are thinking. “You’re with your little guy 24/7. A mom’s job is never done. You need a mental and emotional break every once in a while, right?”)

While I certainly appreciate the love and support from you all, there was still another side of me that believed things should look differently. (Well…For me, at least.)

Yes, being a mom is a 24/7 job, filled with to-do’s like changing diapers, feeding hungry bellies, cleaning house, and kissing boo-boos. But what I was finding was that the quality of my focus and attention during playtime with my son became diluted if I allowed distractions to freely come as they pleased. Thus, my real priority in that moment- my son- could easily take a back seat to the things that really weren’t that important at all.

Facebook was a good example of that. (Um…. At least for me it had been.) …Which is why I had to delete the app off my phone…

“What?!!! No!!!” You gasp.

Oh…….believe me. It was hard at first… And, no… No  one asked me to do this…

(Now, please don’t misunderstand me… And my wonderful Facebook friends can even tell you…. I AM still on Facebook. However, now in order to access it, I must go onto our office desktop. Yes, my app is gone. And although I can and still do share photos via IOS on my iPhone, I have been extremely intentional in not using my phone to actually view Facebook newsfeeds, comments, messages, “likes”, etc. Our office desktop is now where I must go to do that…making it less convenient for me to access it during a normal weekday, and that ‘s just how I want to keep it.)

This came out of necessity and in some sense out of obedience. Let me explain.

A while back, a phrase came to my mind out of the blue which I believe is something I really needed to hear at that time (and still do)…and that phrase was… “Eliminate distractions”. I honestly believe this was God speaking to my heart, but to be perfectly honest, I didn’t begin working on this until about a month ago. Since taking that step, though, I’ve begun to notice that my focus and engagement in the present moment has greatly improved.

You see, over time, I began to notice that social media so easily became a welcomed distraction for me when I either got bored or didn’t feel in the mood to play, and it really wasn’t doing much to help me build quality time with my son. 

It’s kind of sad to think how we as adults are so quick to judge kids and young people these days on their lack of attention in school or their lack of engagement with their families… And yet, when you think about it… Do we as adults even realize the things that are distractions in our own lives, preventing us from focusing on what mattters most? Are we really enjoying the moments? Or is something else occupying our mind and our attention as well?

purposeful-moms-iphone-distraction-social-mediaYou see, just as we, as adults, get “bored” playing with cars or dinosaurs- which may not make much sense to us or be as fun as checking social media- our kids too will face those same kinds of challenges when they are also expected to learn and focus on something new (and maybe not as engaging as their favorite games, toys, or activities).

So, if there’s something I’m learning through this, it’s this… The same expectations I have of my child, should also be the same I have of myself. And furthermore… Being engaged and focused during time with my little guy are gifts that tangibly demonstrate my love for him, especially as I’ve noticed quality time to be one of his primary love languages. (By the way, if you haven’t read The 5 Love Languages by Gary D. Chapman, I highly recommend you do.)

No, I’m not saying I have to play with cars and dinosaurs 24/7 or even have the greatest ability to do so. But in this moment… For this 30 minutes of playtime and throughout my day when I know I should be giving him my fullest attention… It’s in these moments that I must remind myself that I am there for someone else- not myself. I am there to be engaged and present in his life… To show love in practical ways by putting myself aside so that he can have joy in this moment.confessions-ADD-mom

And you know what? I’m actually beginning to enjoy my days a whole lot more because of it. It’s funny how even over a brief timespan, you can already begin to see changes happen. And that’s how it is with many things in life. (Sometimes, it takes making a somewhat “hard” decision- in letting go of the familiar and the convenient- to help you begin seeing the results you always wanted but just didn’t know were there for you to have.)

Over just a short amount of time, I’ve really begun to enjoy playing with my son. Not only have I seen myself grow in my “career” as a Mega Block engineer and a fan of Mighty Machines, but even more than that, with God’s help, I’m becoming more creative just in general during playtime.

For me, being a “self-diagnosed” ADD mom is choice… And, while I still have opportunity to grow in this area, I’m finding that as I continue to allow the Lord to work in my heart, and as I continue making the daily choices to focus on what matters most, my days are becoming more filled with God’s peace, rest, and opportunities to tangibly demonstrate love to those closest to me.

And these are the choices that one day, with God’s help, I’ll look back on and be thankful that they weren’t sacrificed for something that was less worthy of my attention.
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