Last week, my mom and sisters and I went away for a few days of relaxation and girl time. We stayed at the fabulous Omni Bedford Springs Resort, where we hiked and dined and enjoyed the beautiful views. While exploring the lovely little town of Bedford, we discovered this sign in one of the shops. Wait…what?! We JUST missed the free wine! We got a little chuckle out of it but I have to say, it’s a familiar feeling…the thought that maybe I’ve arrived a little too late.
Do you know what I’m talking about? Have you ever felt like you were behind the curve? Like you’re working toward something but as soon as you get there you will discover that everyone else has already moved on to the next thing?
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Living near the ocean for the past 23 years, I’ve been through my fair share of hurricanes and floods. Fortunately, the worst we’ve had to deal with is power outages, leaky windows, missing roof shingles and some serious yard debris. But storms, fires, tornadoes and other natural disasters are not always so merciful. And if we’ve learned anything at all from Noah, it’s the importance of being prepared!
When a storm is headed our way, I typically stock up on bottled water, propane and gas. We buy extra batteries and food for the pantry. And we secure outdoor furniture and anything else that could blow away. But I recently found a new addition to my storm prep routine – the Home Inventory App!
Home Inventory (which isn’t just for storm preparation, by the way), is a great little tool for keeping track of all your valuable belongings so that you can stay organized and make it easy to file insurance claims (or police reports) if the need should arise. I was introduced to Home Inventory a few years ago by a friend who happens to be another Christian mompreneur. She and her husband developed the app, which you can check out on the Mac App Store.
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If you’ve ever worried about or lived through the “prodigal child” scenario, you’ll appreciate the honesty and practical wisdom in this new book by Christian mompreneur Lori Wildenberg. I have the honor of serving as a Mom Mentor with Lori in a group she manages for Moms Together. She creates a space for encouraging, equipping and empowering moms in their faith and motherhood. In her latest book, she shares her Messy Journey as the mother of a “prodigal child.”
Q. What inspired you to write Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home?
A. Life doesn’t always go the way we expect. As parents, we can do everything “right” and still have a child who veers off the expected path. With my daughter’s permission and input, I share our journey— the struggles a prodigal child brings and how to live life in the middle of the mess.
Q. How would you describe this book to someone in a 30 second blurb?
A. Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home is for parents walking the difficult road with a wayward child. This book is filled with stories from dozens of Christian parents and some prodigals. It includes my personal journey with my same-sex attracted daughter. The book is vulnerable and honest. No matter why a parent has a prodigal (or if you love someone who does) this book will bring comfort, help, and encouragement. Practical grace- and truth-filled ways of navigating a relationship with a detoured child who is rejecting faith, dabbling in sin, or wholeheartedly embracing sinful behavior are given. There is hope.
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I have a friend who prays constantly. The way the Bible says we should pray – without ceasing. She has conversations with God all day long – quick little cries for help or spontaneous moments of praise. This is the kind of prayer life I strive for, but to be perfectly honest, my prayers are often limited to morning, meals and night. Oh, and times of crisis. But not the mundane moments of daily life.
So, I asked her how she does it. How does she think to talk to God in the midst of her busy day? She’s a single, working mom of six kids – so if she can do it, then certainly I can, too. She told me that it comes naturally to her now, but that she sometimes uses triggers to remind her to pray. Like the way I offer up a prayer every time I see an ambulance or hear a siren. Only the triggers are more personal…more frequent…more specific.
As I contemplated my plan for praying continuously, I identified several routine triggers that I can use to remind me to pray for my family. Times throughout my daily schedule when I can naturally stop and have a quick conversation with my Creator. Here they are:
7 Unlikely Opportunities to Pray for Your Family
- Laundry time. As you fold laundry or iron, pray for the person who wears each item of clothing. Ask the Lord to clothe your child with strength and dignity [Proverbs 31:25] and dress him in the armor of God, standing firm in truth, righteousness, peace, faith and the Holy Spirit. [Ephesians 6:10-18]
- Meal prep. Say a quick prayer for each child, when you are packing lunches, making dinner or setting the table. Pray that God sustains your child with living water and provides spiritual nourishment through His word. [John 7:37]
- Appointment time. Every time you make an appointment for a family member to visit the dentist, doctor or hair stylist, say a prayer for the person you are scheduling. Ask the Lord to keep your child free from illness and that he protect them from harm. [Psalm 41:2-3]
- Carpool line. Instead of talking on the phone or listening to a podcast, pray for the child you are picking up while you are waiting in line. Take the moment to be still and know that God is with you and with your child. [Psalm 46:10]
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Sometimes you meet people and you just feel a connection to them. A sense of familiarity or comfort. That’s how I felt when I first met Amy Walton through our work on the board for Girls on the Run. She’s a dynamo when it comes to development and has a heart for serving the girls and our community.
It was a few months after meeting Amy that I had the opportunity to really get to know her over a cup of tea and learn about her work coaching women. Amy is a true blessing to the ladies she works with, helping them make time for themselves, trust in God and improve their relationships.
I would describe Amy as compassionate, resilient, personable and incredibly smart! Her life story is one that will inspire and amaze you – no matter where you are on your journey. I’m honored to share it with you here.
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I think most moms have a deep desire to put their family first. Even the ones who appear to be placing their careers or their hobbies in front of their children. Even the ones who rely on nannies or relatives to take care of their babies. Even the ones who are too tired at the end of the day to tuck their little ones in with a kiss and a prayer. (I have been this mom – the one who does all of these things – at one time or another. Yet, I truly intend to put my family first.)
We judge each other – and ourselves – on the things we see. But we don’t see the conditions of another mom’s heart. We don’t know if she’s putting her family first in a different way. If she’s setting an example for her children that all things are possible. If she’s pouring out her love for them by providing for them. If she’s showing them how important it is to use the gifts God gave her to serve others.
Putting your family first isn’t easy. And it doesn’t look the same for everyone.
It sometimes looks like you don’t care… I’m one of those moms who has no idea what her children are learning in school on any given day. My refusal to micromanage my children’s homework starting in the first grade was not received well by teachers who were probably hoping for parents who were more engaged in their child’s education. But I recognized then that I had precious few hours to spend with my child and I wanted to spend them doing other things – I wanted to help build character rather than teach math. I’m forever grateful for the wonderful teachers who so excellently manage my children’s education so that I can focus on my priorities. I do care. Just in a different way.
It sometimes looks like you can’t stick with a commitment… I’ve been known to let my child skip soccer practice so that we can enjoy a family dinner. I’m sure the soccer coach and other team members view that as a lack of commitment. But I view it as a commitment to family time. And my children are learning to honor commitments. It just may not look that way to others.
It sometimes looks like you have no ambition… When others around me are climbing the corporate ladder, getting promotions, being relocated for new opportunities and pursuing multiple post graduate degrees, I often think my career pales in comparison. But then, I remember why I treasure my home-based business as a freelance writer, marketing consultant and leader of the International Christian Mompreneur Network. It’s because I’m putting my family first. I actually think it takes a lot of ambition to achieve that goal.
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One of the things we embrace here in the International Christian Mompreneur Network is imperfection. That’s because we know we can so easily get discouraged when we strive for perfection or compare ourselves to others. And we know that taking imperfect action is better than taking no action at all. Jill Savage, of Hearts at Home ministry, uses this concept of imperfection to reveal the truth about REAL marriage. And I don’t know about you, but I can attest to the fact that my marriage is not perfect. But…it is most definitely REAL.
I’m honored to host a discussion with Jill here on the blog today as she shares her thoughts about the newly released book No More Perfect Marriages. She co-authored this book with her husband Mark. Together they share the painful and challenging journey of their marriage — and the strategies and tools they’ve learned to help you in your imperfect marriage.
Q. Why did you choose the title “No More Perfect Marriages” and why do you think that message really resonates with couples today?
A. We believe that right away the title helps couples –or individuals—know they’re not alone in dealing with the hard side of marriage. We wanted readers to know that perfect doesn’t exist, inviting them to explore along with us how to deal with the imperfect parts of our relationship.
Q. Who is the book written for – is it for marriages that are having difficulty, new marriages or all marriages?
A. All marriages and even dating and engaged couples are benefiting from it already. We certainly share our story of healing from Mark’s infidelity throughout the book, but it’s not really a book about that. It’s a book about the slow fades every relationship goes through and the tools we need to use to turn those fades around. Marriages naturally drift apart if we’re not intentional about pulling together. No More Perfect Marriages helps good marriages become great and hurting marriages find healing.
Q. I love that this book shares the perspective of both the husband and the wife. What was that like to share your very personal story and to work together on a project of this magnitude?
A. Painful at times. We had to somewhat relive our story to write about it. As we wrote, it prompted conversations that were hard at times, but thankfully we’ve learned how to communicate better over time. We’re also very different thinkers and writers so we had to learn how to blend our differences in a positive way to make a stronger book!
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Not a morning person? You’re not alone. Many moms are most productive after they put the kids to bed. That’s when they can finally focus on their work, and they stay up late to take advantage of the quiet. They are the night owls. I’m not one of them. I’m pretty much useless after 9 pm. In fact, now that I have teens in the house, they are usually the ones tucking me in at night.
That’s because I’m typically awake before 6 am. But I wouldn’t call myself a morning person. I’m not exactly pleasant at that hour. It’s just become a habit. And I’m grateful for the habit because it works for me – and for my family. I enjoy my quiet time in the morning. I get to see the sunrise. And I start my day off with a workout so I am free to focus on whatever comes my way the rest of the day.
It’s not easy to shift your natural body clock and become a morning person. But for most of us, motherhood forces us into a new sleep cycle, whether we like it or not. So, how do you stop fighting the urge to stay up past your bedtime? How do you stop hitting the snooze button and waking up feeling rushed and stressed? How do you create habits that will help your body adjust to a different schedule? Here’s how I do it!
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I used to think Proverbs 31 was written to encourage the homemaker, wife and mother. But one day when I was reading it, I realized the Proverbs 31 Woman was more than a Wife of Noble Character; she was also the ideal mompreneur. That’s exactly what the theme of Tammie T. Polk’s book is — The Virtuous Business Woman. And we are blessed to have Tammie as part of our circle of Christian mompreneurs, to share her wisdom and encouragement with us. I’m honored to share this conversation with her on the blog today.
Q. What does it mean to you to be a virtuous woman?
A. To me, being a virtuous woman means remembering that virtue and faith still have a place in our lives, even in this busy, digital world. Many times, we feel like we have to put our convictions aside in order to be what is perceived to be successful. It also means that I see that I am a lot closer to being this woman than I think I am. So many think that her lifestyle is unattainable and don’t see the progress they’ve already made. It is a matter of making a conscious effort to do what is right and to be guided by the principles of God’s Word, which isn’t always easy.
Q. You write about putting family first. What is your best advice for a mompeneur who is having trouble balancing business and family responsibilities?
A. Yes, that’s one thing so many struggle with. My best advice is to use your family! Find out what their gifts and talents are and allow them to use them to help you in your business! Even use the things that annoy you about them. Another thing I would say is to pay attention to what you may perceive as a family distraction. Many times, those things that they do to distract you just might be their way of showing you that they want to help if you’d only take a moment to show them what you need.
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At the International Christian Mompreneur Network, we’re not making New Year’s Resolutions. We’re choosing a scripture verse to guide us through the year instead. We’re selecting a verse that speaks to our hearts and offers support, hope or motivation for us to live out the following year with purpose and direction. The following is part of a series of posts featuring members of the International Christian Mompreneur Network sharing their scripture verse of the year. We pray these posts will inspire and encourage you to select a scripture verse to guide you through the year as well.
I have read the story of the invalid man by the pool so many times in my life, but it has been in the past year that this story has really spoken to my heart… I guess because of where I am in my life right now.
The man in this story had been an invalid for 38 years. When Jesus encounters him on his mat, he asked the man if he wanted to be healed. Interestingly, this invalid did not answer “yes” or “no.” He simply gave an excuse, saying that every time he tried to enter the healing waters, people went before him, and no one helped him. 38 years… imagine!
I wonder: Did this person ASK anyone to help him? Did he focus more on his disability than his abilities?
I think about some of the “mats” on which I have lain in my life: The mat of insecurity regarding my own gifts and talents. The mat of an eating disorder in college. The mat of trying to attain perfectionism ( it took me years to get off this mat, but I finally learned… finally… that no human can ever be perfect). There have been many mats in my nearly six decades of life. A few have been really comfortable… a little too comfortable. Some have been downright ugly.
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