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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Now that we’re a few months into the new year, I often like to think back on my goals and see if I’ve made progress. Some years, looking back felt painful as I discovered I hadn’t traveled far in my entrepreneurial journey. Other years and months, I rejoiced at having journeyed a foot or a mile down the road toward the end result: my final goals.
How are you feeling about your progress so far?
Here are a few things to keep in mind when contemplating your progress.
Keep moving forward.
Whether you look back and see much of your goals accomplished, or you find you haven’t gone as far as you would like, remember to keep moving forward.
Luke 9:62 tells us: “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” A forward-thinking mindset is the only way to succeed in business and in life.
Whether you’ve achieved your goals these past few months or not, you have so much more ground to cover, so keep it moving! You can do this.
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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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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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A friend of mine explained to me why she felt called to open her catering business. She is the mother of a special needs child and said she didn’t want to be defined in that way. She didn’t want her identity to be wrapped up in her role as a mother to her special needs child. I totally understood her – and I told her that lots of moms open businesses or get jobs to avoid that same identity crisis. They don’t want to be labeled as “just” a mom. Or they feel like they “need something more” in their lives.
I get it. I’m not judging anyone, here. I’m admitting that this need to have an identity outside motherhood is a huge motivator for me – and for a lot of moms I work with in the International Christian Mompreneur Network. I KNOW that being a mother is my most important job. And it’s my calling during this season of life. So, I don’t take that responsibility lightly. And maybe motherhood should be “enough” for me… I envy women who are confident enough to dedicate 100% to motherhood. But for some reason…maybe it’s ego…maybe it’s money…maybe it’s fear of failure…or entrepreneurial genes…or lack of patience…but I have always felt the need for an identity that isn’t tied to the little people I love.
The Mompreneur Identity Crisis
But what happens when we start a business to fill that need? Sometimes we simply replace our identity crisis. We are no longer known as “Luke’s mom” but we become “the photography lady.” And that’s fine… except when it consumes us.
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Every November you see people writing and talking about gratitude. It’s as if the 11th month of the year somehow got assigned the task of reminding us to be thankful.
Just because it’s the month in which Thanksgiving falls (at least in the U.S.).
But here’s a way to take a new approach to the concept of gratitude and incorporate it year round. The beauty of this technique is that moms (and dads, of course) can apply it to a home business and it’s a more tech-savvy way to get the kids to buy into the action, too! It simply requires adding a small bit of text to a picture.
Starting an Instagram Gratitude Journal
I stumbled upon this concept quite by accident, but I’m running with it, folks! And you can, too.
Instagram is all the rage these days. Actually, I should say, visual content is all the rage. From a small business perspective, any social media promotion that includes an image, graphic or video has a much greater chance of being shared by others and “liked” by Facebook. Pinterest, of course is all about images, and Instagram is the same. Instagram (IG) has the added benefit of being a bit more “real life” and in the moment, which makes it a super tool for this idea.
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Firefighter. Movie star. Professional soccer player. President of the United States. Our children have big plans for what they want to do when they grow up. So we encourage them and guide them and nurture their dreams. But do we give them the skills they need to achieve their goals?
As parents, we’ve been given the tremendous responsibility of raising the next generation of leaders. It’s not always easy being the mother of a budding young boss. But it’s incredibly rewarding to witness your child transform into a respectable, inspirational young adult.
Here are ten ways you can encourage and raise a future leader:
1. Let them solve their own problems.
My mother was a master at this. She rarely got involved in arguments between my siblings and me. She told us to figure it out on our own. And it taught us how to solve problems, rather than expect to be rescued. >>>
This blog post originally appeared on iMom, a site dedicated to helping you love your family well. Read the rest of the post on iMom here.
Interested in meeting other moms who want to create a healthy lifestyle for themselves and their families? The MomsMeet WOW Summit is the place to be! The Moms Meet community helps moms come together to share information, resources and inspiration to encourage happy, healthy families. They are gathering in Washington, DC, October 7-8 to learn, explore and connect.
I’m honored to be among the guest speakers on Friday. We’ll be talking about all sorts of tips and tools for moms who want to build a business with blogging. Saturday will be filled with expert advice for moms on a variety of healthy living topics. And, of course, there will be tons of free samples and natural, eco-friendly, organic goodies from health-conscious brands. Plus, you’ll get to surround yourself with other healthy moms!
Want to join us? Use this special promo code just for the ladies in the International Christian Mompreneur Network and you’ll save 40% off your registration fee: TC40
And please let me know if you’re going — I’d love to meet you there!