Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category


Reflecting on Mother’s Day.  Moms deserve the honor for sure but in the past I’ve wondered if all those platitudes about the perfect and best mom in the world could possibly be true.

As I watched a program on OWN tonight about the Judds.  So raw and real! As the drama of their past wounds unfolded, it was clear that no matter what people see in the glitz and glam of celebrity success, at some point in our lives everybody hurts and parent children relationships can get complicated.

Wouldn’t it be great to say that nobody in our family ever hurt us?  I’ve yet to meet anyone who could. Wish I could say I’d never hurt my kids–that I’d never said something mean or made them feel like I disapproved of them instead of just some thing they did.

It would be equally nice to say my wonderful sons had never hurt me by something they said or did.  And any mom would jump up and down if they could say that even their grown kids were done making mistakes or would never have to face disappointment or pain in their lives.

My relationship with my mom wasn’t perfect.  In fact, when I was a young mom, we went through a season of real pain.  Truth is when either of our insecurity got the best of us, it got pretty ugly.

Mom needed to be loved unconditionally.  I needed a mom who approved of me and loved me for who I was.  In her insecurity, she couldn’t give that to me very often, even as a child.

I hope you don’t misunderstand.  You see, I love my mom and she had so many beautiful things about her.  It’s just that she’d been hurt herself in life and didn’t know how to be healed.

We eventually let go of our individual expectations, bitterness, and unforgiveness and things improved.  She began to share some of the hurts she’d experienced.  I began to understand her better.

A lot of the life lessons I teach I learned through my relationship with mom.  Especially how to let go of unmet expectations and needs.

My mom went to be with Jesus a few years back and though I remember some of those tough moments, I look at her now with a whole different perspective. I don’t see all her weakness, I see the strengths and the lessons she taught me.

So regardless how I learned them, these are some of the lessons and gifts I gained out of my relationship with mom.

Life will always have ups and downs, joys and sorrow.  We can’t avoid the bad feelings, mistakes, and injustice.  It’s not so much about the things that knock us down as it is about what gets us up again.

Life takes courage and boldness.  If we are going to break out of our own prisons or help others out of theirs, we must be strong and courageous.  We can’t retreat in the face of fear, discomfort, or pain.  There will be times when we feel weak but God is our strength as we open ourselves to Him.

Life is meant to be lived in generosity.  Giving more than we take, blessing more than we ask to receive is the secret to abundant living.  You be rich or poor financially, but what matters is that we have a generous heart and an open hand to those who are in need.

Finally, the lessons I cherish most of all.  It’s our heart toward God that counts.  We may not know all the right things to do, we may have not heard the latest teaching that will set us free.  We are flawed human beings on a journey. While it’s important to want to move beyond our imperfection,  God loves us just as we are.  He looks at is through the eyes of Jesus.

By example, mom gave me the knowledge that no matter where I’m at, a personal relationship with God is possible.  Mom wasn’t perfect but I’ll forever see her head lifted, and  hear her voice,  tears running down her cheeks, with a heart full of genuine praise, sing one of her many love songs to her Lord.

Happy Mothers Day, Mom.  As you sing in heaven, I’ll join you on earth.  “I love you Lord, and I lift my voice……..”

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Control is a funny thing.  And for women like me, who want to fix everything it can be even trickier.  I want to control the things I have no control over! As a mom, I tend to want to control my kids choices or my husband’s behavior.  I’ve known women that want to be in charge of every little detail of every segment of  their family.

Unfortunately, when we try to control something that isn’t ours to control, the result is disappointment, hurt, and even anger.

2 Peter 1:6 goes on(my paraphrase):  In being diligent in your effort to exercise your faith, develop excellence and develop your intelligence.  And as you exercise your knowledge add to it self-control.

When one looks at the issue closely, a discovery is made.  When it comes to control, the only thing we have the power over is ourselves!

Imagine that!  It’s a different thought for some of us. We might believe we can control  someone else’s action or the circumstances of our life but when it comes to us we tend to fall back on the old, “That’s just the way I am.” excuse.

We are quick to blame the circumstances or the wounds of the past for our behavior in the moment.  As Christian’s we might even consider it “holy” to believe that only God is in control and we can’t do anything on our own power.   We are blame shifters for sure!

Our life takes on a new dimension when we recognize that we have been given authority and power through the Holy Spirit to control “self.” That doesn’t mean we never make a mistake.  It does mean we are aware of our actions and the consequences for them.  We  understand that whether it’s our attitude, our thoughts, or our actions we have to make the decision.

So how do we increase self-control in our life?  Here’s a few steps.

1.  Ask for God’s help to know what is in your control and what isn’t.

2.  Study scripture for God’s principles and record His promises if we follow them. Then ask, “What step can I take today to live that principle?”

3.  Always ask yourself this question when making a decision.  “Will this bring life or death?”  Life is freedom,  peace, joy, love even in the middle of difficulty.   Death is guilt, shame, and anything else that holds us back from the liberty and beauty God put in us.

We were made to be free and beautiful expressions of God and His love.  It’s our choice whether we are going to be diligent in our faith expression by exercising self-control.

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The Big E

2 Peter 1 is the perfect picture of what setting goals looks like.  As I wrote yesterday we have the  great foundation of God’s grace and power combined with His promises.   What a great place to start our race of life.

When we add our diligence (mind set, attitude, and effort) to our faith we will run well.

If you want to begin exercising you don’t start by running a marathon.  You build up to it.  It might start with simple stretches, a short walk, a little strength training if you are as out of shape as I am.  The same is true in life.

Each time we add a quality or character to our life we gain strength and ability.  Each one builds on the other, moving us toward the big goal of finishing well!

Here is the first thing to be diligent about.  2 Peter 2:5 continues.  “……employ every effort in exercising your faith to develop virtue…..”  Virtue is a word we don’t hear much any more.   Sounds a bit archaic but it’s as relevant as it’s ever been.    So what’s it mean?

When you go back to the Greek, the word comes from “manliness”.  It’s root probably means man as in strong enough for lifting according to Strong’s Concordance.   It translates as excellence, both inside and out.  The Amplified Bible defines it as excellence, resolution, and Christian energy.

Lot’s to think about there!  Here’s how I put it.  Resolve to be excellent in all things, empowered by the Holy Spirit who is our source of energy.

In a race, energy comes from what we put into our bodies.

If you are going to run life well,  that’s how we have to think of it.  The Big E, excellence starts with what we fill ourselves with.  The things we read, watch, and the close relationships we have are all influential factors in our excellence.

Our commitment to whatever change we are making is also part of achieving excellence.  Do we want what we say we want badly enough to work at it?  The amount of effort we are willing to put in is reflective of how resolute we are to make the change.

My husband and I run a business and I love what one of our associates says.   “Success equals consistent, persistent determination with a positive attitude.”

If you want success in the race of life, consistently and persistently reach for achieving excellence in all you do.  Whether you are trying to lose weight, make a career change, enhance a relationship,  be a good parent, or any other improvement, doing anything you do with excellence is the place to begin.

What is one thing you really want to add to your life?   What step could you take to help you move toward excellence in that area?

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My Baby

Every little girl needs a daddy.  I lost mine to cancer at 11 years old.  Many others deal with abuse, divorce, neglect, or abandonment from theirs.  It is natural to transfer the view we have of our earthly fathers to our heavenly father.  It’s even difficult to see God as a loving father if we had a poor relationship with our own.

This video describes how many of us feel about our dads and how it can affect us at a deep level when they aren’t present for whatever reason.

It can be part of our struggle for self worth and identity.

Many of us try to perform better, be “good”, in an effort to win or feel like we are lovable.  One day I received this word from a friend.  I think it paints a beautiful picture of God’s Father heart for us.

“He is passionately and madly in love with you.  Every moment you are on his mind and heart.  There is nothing you can ever do to gain favor with Him.  That being said there is nothing you can do to lose favor with Him.  You are His dream come true..  His hope is not so much for repentance and obedience as it is that you will climb up into His lap and allow Him to smother you in kisses.  Your beauty radiates in His throne room and when your name is spoken His heart swells with pride…His baby, His love, His sweetness.”

God loves you and there is nothing you can do to change that!

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Legacy Builders

I’ve been reflecting on the way I raised my kids lately.  You see, even though they are gone from home, I still feel responsible for influencing them even as adults.  I am so proud of them, yet well aware that where they struggle in life, it may be because I struggled there too and modeled it for them, or that I was simply unaware of what I needed to instill in them.

Moms have always played a big role in building the next generation.  Sometimes it’s difficult to be fulfilled while we are changing diapers, wiping snotty noses, and surrounded by piles of laundry, toys, and chaotic noise. Yet, I can attest this is the most important season you will ever be in.

Regi Campbell says in his book Mentor Like Jesus, “More time spent with fewer people equals greater kingdom impact.”  That perfectly describes raising a family.  And mentoring the next generation is a noble and necessary calling.  We don’t just raise kids, we build the world!

Here’s a few things to think about when desiring to build kids who will make a difference.

1.  Start with you.  Keep letting go of the past.  Keep your relationship with God front and center.  Invest in you–keep learning, nurture yourself, stay fresh.

2.  Build on God’s principles.  Strong character comes from understanding values and principles from God’s perspective.  When teaching kids how to do life, this helps them set the parameters.

3.  Focus on Strengths.  Each child has certain strengths and weaknesses.  A child who understands what they are good at and works from their strength will not let their weaknesses hold them back.  They are more confident and do things they love.

4.  Experiment for discovery. Plan teaching activities.  Explore new things, make things, let them them try things they are interested in.  No better way to help them understand what they love and who they are.

5.  Parent for purpose.  Life is never about just yourself.  Talk about and create opportunities to impact someone’s life.  As they get older, discuss relationships, problems like homelessness, poverty, and age appropriate topics.  Help them find a way to serve their school, church, or community.  Our life’s purpose is about the way we serve others and this is where our understanding begins.

I’m still a mom even though my kids are grown.  I still can follow these steps with a little tweaking.  I can still influence my kids.  And now I have five beautiful grandkids to pour into.

As I look back, I wish I’d spent more time thinking about and planning my parenting.  Like most moms, I just kind of did it.  I winged it and said a prayer and crossed my fingers.  I don’t have any guilt.  I did the best I could with what I knew.  But, I see now what would have made it better.

What could you do today that will build a legacy for tomorrow?  What does your  plan for parenting or grandparenting look like?

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One of the most inspirational books I’ve ever read has been Og Mandino’s, The Choice.

In the final chapter, there is a speech about our power to choose. Here’s a quote.

“So many of us spend our lives searching for happiness. Like children hunting Easter eggs, we dash hither and yon hoping to discover some mystical bluebird. Life would so different, we sign, if only we were happy.”

God has given us an amazing gift that carries big power. The power to choose. With that power comes responsibility to use it wisely.

Og goes on to explain, “And so one hurries home to be happy and another flees home to be happy. One is getting married to be happy and another gets divorced to be happy. One takes expensive cruises to be happy and another labors overtime to be happy.”

Have you ever been on that merry-go-round? I have. As a young mom I had extremely low self esteem and self worth issues. I looked at my stuff to find value and even worse I looked to other people like my husband,my family, my kids.

The problem with that is you can lose stuff, hide behind stuff, become lost in stuff. Even worse, people can fail you, and some even intentionally set out to hurt you.

Even with God and the church, I looked to the next great conference, the next goose bumpy experience, the “right” pastor,the perfect ministry, the perfect, unflawed people who always loved and did the “right” thing to give me what I wanted and thought I needed.

It didn’t work and instead of happy I found myself disappointed. I wanted more. At my core, I really did love God, and people and wanted to give and make a difference. Yet because of where I’d chosen to look for happiness, I slipped into a victim mentality where I allowed my circumstances and my relationships to continue to bring me pain. It affected every area of my life—marriage, parenting, business, outside relationships, career, finances, and my relationship with God.

I blamed others, I blamed God, I blamed the devil, I blamed systems, I blamed the church, and I blamed myself.

Because at my core, I’m a visionary and dreamer, my internal being was in constant turmoil. I felt I had no options for the life I wanted and everything seemed out of my control.

Thank God, he kept working on me. The one thing I learned is we always have options to choose from.

1. You have the option to choose your attitude.
2. You have the option to choose your response.
3. You have the option to hold on or let go of something.
4. You have the option to pray.
5. You have the option to learn.
6. You have the option to give or take away.
7. You have the option to walk in peace.
8. You have the option to move on.
9. You have the option to turn trash into treasure.
10. You have the option to love, trust, be at peace.
11. You have the option to be satisfied.
12. You have the option to bless someone else.

So many options. Too many to list. Options that don’t depend on what you have or don’t have. Options that don’t depend on whether things are good or bad. Options that don’t required extensive education or a perfectly designed future.

Happiness comes from having something to do, someone to love, and something to hope for. There is always something to do, someone to love, and therefore something to hope for because no matter how big or small those things make a difference.

Things aren’t out of our control. All of life on earth and life thereafter is actually in our control. It’s all about choice. The question that overshadows it all is: What did you do with your power to choose?

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Not every one can say they had a good relationship with their daddy.  Mine was a sweet one.

Oh he was a strong willed Croatian disciplinarian who expected his children to behave but he also loved his kids very much.

As a family, we struggled financially.   He worked as a blacksmith for the Anaconda company and just when things were getting stable they would go on strike again and set us back all over again.

What we didn’t have in money, daddy would make up for with gifts he’d make. He once made me steel knitting needles because we couldn’t afford to buy them and I wanted to learn to knit.  He made us the backyard swing set. It was on that swing set where I learned the art of worship.  Pumping my legs to the heavens, I would swing for hours as a little girl singing Jesus Loves Me at the top of my lungs.   My favorite gift was a ring he fashioned out of a nut.  He smoothed it into a round cylinder perfect for my finger and engraved a heart into it.  I still hear him singing an old tune….”Heart of my heart,” as he handed it to me.

Unfortunately I didn’t have dad in my life for long.  When I was 11 years old we found out daddy had a brain tumor.  As we came home from Halloween festivities, the ambulance was in front of our house and daddy went to the hospital for the final time.  Gradually slipping into a coma, we were allowed to go see him one last time.

I’ll never forget standing at his bedside watching him breath.  I believe it was my cousin’s wife Colleen who was a nurse in the room with us.  She told us to go ahead and talked to him.  I must have said something he heard because suddenly my dad squeezed my hand. It meant everything to me.

After he died, as I laid in the living room hide a-bed with my younger brother so we could be close to mom’s room, I called to her.  She came to the bedside and I said, “Do you know the last thing my daddy ever gave to me?”  She answered, “No what?”  My reply with tears streaming done my face was “His hand.”

I’ve thought about that many times through the years when I think about my dad.  The other morning I woke up thinking about that in relationship to God.

Life is rarely easy.  Every day brings new challenges.  There are times of unspeakable pain and joyous triumph.  Touch is important during those times. A hand is such a special gift.

A hand can hold you, make you feel safe, snatch you from danger, lead you to someplace unknown to you.   The touch of a hand can get your attention, even awaken you from sleep.   It can lift your chin up, massage your stress away, or slap your back in celebration of a job well done. These are all the things a daddy should do.  And this is exactly what the hand of God looks like.

He does all that any good earthly daddy would do plus more.   The Hand of God can do even the impossible!

We may not be able to feel his physical hand but it is always there.   As we sit in stillness meditating on Him it’s there.  As we cry out it’s there.  As we walk through the crowds in day to day life hoping that someone will touch us or that we can touch someone, it’s there.

There is no doubt.  The hand of a dad is important.  God’s hand even more important.  You may not have had a good father.  It may be difficult for you to imagine God as a father because of that.  Maybe you can put yourself in my story and imagine what it must have been like as a little girl to have been given that gift of her daddy’s hand.

That is what God is offering you.  Wherever you are in this moment, I pray you’ll reach out and put your hand in your heavenly father’s hand.  Let Him be your daddy.  And as you hold on tight to Him, would you reach out and be His hand to someone else?

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I woke up to those words this morning.  As I’ve pondered them, I get excited about how we could change our world if we made that our mantra for 2011!

Did you know that if you saved a penny on day one and then every day after doubled the pennies you saved before in 31 days you would have 10,737,418.24 cents!  That’s amazing!

So what could happen if we made a deposit into life every day?  What if we asked ourselves every day, where can I make a deposit to enrich me, my life, my marriage, my kids, my church, my community, my neighbor?

Let me give an example from a “Wish I would have” moment in my life.  I loved my kids so much and always believed in their potential to do whatever they dreamed of.  There was a moment in my youngest son’s life around 9 years old,  when he shared his heart for the homeless. It was so touching and I remember thinking, we need to take him to a nearby town and work at the mission for a day.  Or we need to put a jar on the table and save coins for the poor.  I had lots of ideas but I never followed through with that teaching moment.

It was the perfect chance to teach him generosity, helping the less fortunate, and all kinds of character lessons for life. One never knows where those early lessons could lead.

We have so many things to deposit!  Love, laughter, acceptance, faith, knowledge and wisdom, values, inspiration are just a few.

If we pay attention, we will find many opportunities every day to deposit something good around us. And according to scripture our harvest is dependent on what we sow.  “Give and it shall be given unto you.” Luke 6:38

I want 2011 to be a year where I make deposits of God everywhere I go.   I’m asking myself:  Where or how can I make a deposit of God in my marriage?  In my kids?  In my relationships outside my home?  In my own life?  In my church?  In my business?  In my community? In the world?

Will you join me in focusing on making this year, this week, this day, this moment a time to deposit good seeds for the future?  Let Moms know what you are doing to make deposits in your world.   I can’t wait to hear!

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I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand fakeness.  At least not in the other guy!   You know, the drill.  Things like: Answering, I’m fine, when really I’m a mess or in crisis.  Pretending you have the perfect marriage, perfect kids, perfect life.  Or, putting on the face and language of the good Christian when you are really hiding some crisis of faith.  Here’s a few more. How about the pretending that you know so much about God, yet you are covering up some secret sin or failing.    Or as one of my friends puts it, the I love you’s when you don’t spend a moment of investing in someone’s life, thinking about them or calling them, and are really just saying empty words.

One of the things I love when I’m around people is when we all have the freedom to be real.  To honestly speak our hearts.  It is not always easy for us because of the vulnerability and trust that it takes.  It’s not always easy for the one listening either because sometimes where we are at is hard for them to hear.

Ever since Adam and Eve, we have been hiding.  Hiding from God, ourselves, and each other.  We don’t realize that there is no reason to hide.   Who and what are we afraid of?

No doubt emotions of fear of rejection, shame, guilt, possible conflict, feeling pain,  and many others begin to stir within us as we think about becoming real.

But what is the consequence of hiding or lying about who and where you are?  I’ll let you answer that for yourself.

Whether it was emotions, faith questions, my failures, my challenges, or anything else, hiding or not being real caused more pain, longer suffering, and bigger challenges.  Afraid to bring something into the light and examine it for what it is and feel all the emotion that goes with it, has caused me more darkness, more bondage, less freedom.

The more honest and real I allow myself to be, the more freedom and joy I find in being me and the stronger my relationship with God and others is.

I find that God loves me being real.  He loves meeting me where I am and hearing my heart, whether it’s joyful or sorrowful.

I find more people can relate to me.  Not all of them but more.  People like to know that they aren’t so different.  They like to hear how others struggle with the same things or have overcome something.  For the most part, they like to help, support, and laugh or cry with you.  That is true relationship.

I find that when I stop hiding or running from who I am, whether I’m hiding my warts or my wonders, I am much more aware and free to be me.  I’m able to move more quickly through the tough stuff and meet the challenges head on.   I’m able to laugh more, love more, and be more.

That’s why I decided to start the year of 2011 with Real Change for Real Women.   If you are wanting change in some area of your life you don’t want to miss this!

My gift to you is FREE info packed teleconference call or for the local gals a in person event.  To sign up and get the schedule and information e-mail me at marian@connectedlifecoaching.  Subject:  Real

Make 2011 a GET REAL year!

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I was surprised by the discussion that took place on the Moms facebook page last week.  I had asked the questions:

What are some of your biggest mom or woman frustrations? What do you do to regain your footing when you are frustrated or anxious?

The moms that commented that their biggest frustration was unwarranted/unasked for advise about how to raise their children.

In my book and workshop, Moms on Mission, Discovering Destinies, a conversation about living by expectations takes place in the very beginning.

Not just expectations on parenting but the expectations we have of ourselves, others, and even God.

Why is it important that we don’t live in the land of expectations?  As one person put it, expectations are pre-meditated resentments.  That might be obvious but let’s unpack that a little.

Realistic expectations are important because they give us a target to shoot for when we are reaching for a goal.  But living in false expectations creates a breeding ground for disappointment.

Think about it.  Expectations are all about our beliefs.  For example, if we expect our husbands or parents to fill our emotional needs, we will likely be disappointed and end up resentful and wounded.

If we believe that God’s love is conditional or stronger based on our performance, we will be frustrated with ourselves and find ourselves hiding from God because we don’t measure up.

Our expectations of others can affect our relationships.  We can feel disappointed or discouraged.  When we react from that place, they can feel personally attacked or uncomfortable with us.

Finally, if we expect unrealistic things about ourselves we can find we are less confident, insecure, and listening to all the negative voices in our heads, beating ourselves up when we fall short.

Here’s a couple of healthy expectations.

1. Expect yourself to maintain a personal, open, and intimate relationship with God.

2. Expect that God unconditionally and passionately loves you and has a plan and purpose for your life.

3.  Expect yourself to live according to  your unique passions and purpose

You can’t release your song through someone else’s expectations or passions. You have to sing your own song and live your own callings. Living for or in someone else’s view of how it should be is denying all God created us to be.

Tell Moms how you’ve let go of unrealistic expectations of God, yourself, or others.

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