Category: featured

Choose to See Beauty!

Recently I read 

a post by an old and dear friend. It was beautiful and sad. There are so many areas where we, as women and mothers, struggle. We struggle because we think we aren’t doing a good enough job as a parent. We strive because we feel we aren’t filling our mission; we don’t have enough education or aren’t attractive enough.

Listen to the words of Laurisa Paul, a midwife:
I was sitting beside the pool the other day, and the most beautiful woman caught my attention. There she stood, in her bathing suit, resting a tiny baby in her arms. The baby perched contentedly on the protruding belly that had just created its life—beauty– in the deepest, holiest way that I’ve ever seen. I wanted to stare forever and kept this woman in my heart for days. This scene caused serious reflection for me.

We all agree that baby girls are beautiful and perfect in every way. This adoration continues as we grow, through every stage of our changing body… but then we reach early adulthood, and what happens? Quite suddenly, we halt the adoration of the continued growth and change and strive— for the rest of our lives— to achieve the young, thin, pre-maternal body.

I could not stop thinking about how fundamentally CRAZY we are as a society! How crazy we are to miss the breathtaking beauty of a postpartum body- with stretched-out skin and worn-out breasts, and sleepy, baggy eyes. The 45-year-old body, feeling tired of life’s marathon, and yet, still hopeful of the possibilities ahead. How absolutely crazy we are to overlook the beauty of a 60-year-old body! Its edges softened by growth, innumerable acts of service and courage held in its hips and thighs. And what about the body of a 75-year-old? New pains now reveal the many sacrifices and stories written along the way. I visualize the skin that hangs low from my 92-year-old grandmother’s face, her wrinkles marking the sage wisdom held in her eyes, and I ask…HOW IS THAT NOT ABSOLUTELY STUNNINGLY BEAUTIFUL?!?

It is pure insanity that we overlook ALL of it– all of the beauty that is resplendent in every stage of growth in a woman’s life– simply trying to reach for one very narrow ideal. It is shocking how irrational it is. And yet, we all go on doing it.

Her words went straight to my heart because of an experience I had just a few months ago.

I was sitting in church with my family. The meeting ended; I placed my hand on the back of the chair in front of me, ready to stand. I’m not sure why what happened next did, but it stopped me in mid-stand. I realized how beautiful my hand was. I was shocked by the sight and the feelings that came with it. I asked my granddaughter to take a photo. I wanted to remember the gift I had just received.

I know that not everyone would think my hand is beautiful because it’s the hand of a 70-year-old woman. The skin is looser than when I was young. There are age spots; the proverbial veins are showing. I didn’t see any of that.

I saw babies diapered. Children hugged. Hundreds of thousands of dishes washed. Mountains of laundry folded. I saw hundreds of hours of service rendered to friends, neighbors, and community. I saw articles written and paintings completed. I saw phone numbers dialed to cheer up a friend or counsel someone in need.

I saw love!

I don’t know how this happened in a split second, but I like to think that it was God showing me how much I matter in the world.

I posted the above to Facebook, and I was shocked at the response I received. There were over 40 comments. It was repeatedly shared. A few hundred people responded in some way. Why the considerable outpouring? I have thought about that. I am convinced that it’s because we are all searching for our worth.

As women and mothers, we need to embrace the journey. We need to embrace the difficulty, the challenges, and the learning. We need to embrace the growth and all that comes with it. We need to know that what we do as women matter more than how we look. Recognizing our value, our worth is a choice. Let’s choose to give ourselves a break as we grow and learn, as we give birth, serve, and age. Let’s choose to see the beauty in our hands, our bodies, and our hearts. Let’s choose to see ourselves as beautiful!

Thank you for sharing this article : ) 

There is NO Perfect in Parenting!

Perfect is NOT reality, especially in Parenting!

I had two daughters who had babies last year – one in June and one in Dec. One daughter suffered from postpartum anxiety, not to be confused with the blues or even depression. It was excruciating. Just functioning was a challenge. Besides the new baby, she had one preschooler and one grade-schooler.

Despite her struggles with health and energy, I saw her remember what her kids needed to do to be ready for school. I watched her get them to their events and lessons. I saw her force herself to school with her new baby to participate in a classroom party with her daughter.

My other daughter has tweens, teens, and grade-schoolers. She was up multiple times a night. But one morning bright and early I witnessed this: she was in the kids’ rooms getting them up, reminding them of what they needed for the day, giving cautions about getting to work on time and bringing instruments home after orchestra so they could practice. It was all in her head, and despite her baby fatigue, she was letting it out at the right time, with the right tone. There is no getting around it,

MOTHERS ARE AMAZING EVEN WHEN THEY’RE STRUGGLING.

 

My sons-in-law also experienced the addition of new babies into their families. One is in the last stages of genetic blindness and was ill at the time of the birth. However, he donned a mask and was by his wife’s side, not just during the delivery but until his wife came home a day later, even though fluorescent light burns his eyes. Then he returned, mask in hand because the baby had a severe bilirubin issue. His eyes burned as he endured hours of blue light. I watched him get up at night to feed his son, diaper, and cuddle him.

The other dad had a two-plus hour compute every day into the city. He left work early so he could get home sooner. When he got back, the load shifted from his wife’s shoulders to his own. He made food, played Candyland, fed the dogs, tucked kids in bed, and comforted his wife. There is no getting around it,

FATHERS ARE AMAZING EVEN WHEN THE LOAD IS HEAVY.

 

Neither of these couples is doing it perfectly. There are down days, moments of resentment, and checking out. BUT they get up daily and do it again because they love each other and their families. There is no way around it,

PARENTS ARE AMAZING EVEN WHEN THEY AREN’T PERFECT!!

Know a parent struggling because they aren’t perfect. Share. : )

Family Mission Statements Rock!

Sometimes, as a parent, we’re handed opportunities for self-evaluation on a silver platter. I was given such a dish the other day when I caught my two-year-old son marching around the living room chanting, “Stop that! Now I have to take that away. Stop that! Now I have to take that away.” Good grief! I’m happy to contrast that little ditty with something he was muttering in my ear a few nights ago as I was putting him to sleep. “Daddy loves you; daddy loves you; daddy loves you.”

It’s a bit overwhelming to think about how innocent my son is in his learning, how he soaks up everything that happens around him. In those two little exchanges, my son confirmed to me how important it is that I do not take the obligation lightly, I have as a parent to lay a right and solid foundation for him to build the rest of his life on.

It’s important to remember that children learn more by what we are and the environment and feelings that surround them than through what we are trying to teach through activities. If this is true, ask yourself, “how do we, as a family, consciously develop who we are and the environment and feelings that make up our home? What are we doing to consciously articulate the development of our family?”

A family mission statement is this articulation.

A family mission statement becomes part of our family cannon and the inspiration of our family culture. In other words, it’s what helps us consciously design the environment and feelings in our home that directly influence the development of our children. A Family Mission Statement breathes life into or inspires our family culture.

There is another essential element that a family mission statement brings to the table. I’ve interviewed several families who said, “I’m not sure how much we need a mission statement. It seems that the culture of our family is pretty good. We don’t have a formal, articulated mission statement, but we talk about the things that might be in a statement a lot.”

This is a model that works for many families. However, consider the specific model you’re using to train your children in developing, managing, and leading their own families.

For these parents I interviewed, they were clear on the things they were teaching regularly to their children, which were influencing their family culture. But, are they also teaching their children how to do that in their own homes? Are their children even aware that there is a model to follow? Are they aware of the idea of culture, it’s purposeful creation, and the impact it has on the family?

A Family Mission Statement is not only an articulation of your family’s development; it’s also a specific model of training for good family development, management, and leadership.

Through the course of the next few blog posts, I’ll be taking you through several exercises to help your family create your own inspiring family mission statement.

Assignment #1: Begin by evaluating your family’s current culture. Consider the daily environment and feelings in your home. Talk to your spouse about it. Are your family environment, feelings, and culture such that they will inspire your children’s growth and character? Now, try a brainstorming exercise by asking yourself: what are the core things I want my child to do or know? Put your list somewhere so that you can add to it when things come to your mind.

A Family Mission Statement Matters. Please share with those you care about. 

The Afternoon Occupation Jar – BRILLIANT!

A friend has been talking with me about her efforts to organize her family and teach her sons. We’ve had conversations, each ending with something to ponder. The goal is to come up with an experiment.

Something weighing heavily on her mind was how to find the time to expose her sons to different hobbies and occupations. She is a mom who works full time from home, helping a small hospital. Since the pandemic, her workload has increased from 30 hours a week to sometimes 80. It won’t be forever, but for now, it is a load.

Trying to find the time to engage with her boys isn’t the only reason she’s concerned about showing them the world of possibilities. She is a true-crime buff. She told me that she has seen a pattern emerge over the years. Many of these crimes happen in small towns and other out of the way places. The perpetrators all say they were bored and didn’t have anything to do, and they were drinking. WHAT!

No Matter Where You Live There Are Things to Learn and Do

That is the question she has been asking herself. No matter where you live, there are things to learn and do – go fishing, learn the names of trees and plants, learn to roller skate, collect rocks and minerals, start a group for kids to teach them a skill, read to others in a nursing home, etc.

Even in small towns, the list could be endless. So, what is the problem? My friend has concluded, after watching these shows for years, that often the perpetrators don’t know they have options, they didn’t learn to explore possibilities.

One of the things she wants to do as a parent is to expose her sons to lots of new and exciting things. How to consistently do that is the problem. We talked about many options, and she pondered them, and yes, came up with an experiment. The system she developed was brilliant, and it may be just what you need too.

Afternoon Occupations

She got a jar, painted it, and labeled it ‘Afternoon Occupations.’ It’s filled with popsicle sticks that mom marked with activities that the boys can do themselves. That is important because these afternoon occupations take place while she’s working.

Here is how it works. The boys choose a stick and engage in the activity. They only get to choose one stick, and then they must give it a good college try, even if they think they don’t like it. After a good attempt, they are free to play with something else that they want. The goal is to help them learn how to fill and manage their time with good things and do it independently.

Mom has put things the boys will need on two shelves of a bookcase. If it isn’t there, then it is in a place the boys can access. Legos are on the Lego table, and the puzzles have a home.

Sample Occupations

Here are some of the items written on the sticks –
• Simple crafts
• Music
• Playdough
• Make a card
• Water play
• Audiobook
• Stretching and other simple exercises
• Draw on the sidewalk
• Make an obstacle course
• Watercolors
• Origami
• Puzzles

As the days go by, she plans to pay attention to which sticks are winners and which aren’t as successful. She will remove the unsuccessful activities and add new sticks as she comes up with new ideas. She is figuring out what they genuinely do themselves and what will take more help. It is a process of winnowing out.

When you’re busy, it isn’t always enough to say, “Go play.” Giving kids a jumping-off point can be immensely helpful. And remember, the goal is not to keep the kids out of your hair while you do whatever your project or work is, it’s to help them learn to fill and manage their time independently.

You never know when one of the sticks could become a hobby that they can do alone for an hour or two on the weekend!

This is a fun one. Why not share? : )

Uncertainty. That’s the word – And it is good

I thought I would get through this pandemic and never write about it. After all, it’s all you hear about, and I am a bit sick of hearing about it. But I woke up this morning at 3 am, and I was horrified to find that I was writing about the pandemic in my mind. I lay there, wanting to go back to sleep, but I kept thinking of what I would say.

So here I am at 3:24 doing what I have been avoiding. One reason I wouldn’t write about it is that as hard as I have tried, I haven’t been able to come up with a word for how I feel. I was sitting at my desk yesterday trying to describe how I felt to an old friend. I’m not afraid or worried. I’m not angry. I’m not even bored. Quite the opposite. I feel inundated, at times, with all that must be managed in a house of nine people, that span four different generations – and no one can leave!

But there is a feeling that I can’t name. I’ve been giving this considerable thought because I want a word for it. I feel the need to name it. 

Is it a lack of freedom?

Although many things have changed, I can still get in the car clothed in rubber gloves and mask and pick up food or medication. If we get stir crazy, even though public places are closed, we can drive around the lake or visit the mountains, as long as the ride isn’t too long, and we don’t need a bathroom. 

Is it a lack of choice?

When I got up a couple of mornings ago, I asked myself, “What would you like for breakfast.” Into my mind came several ideas about what I could eat. It felt pleasurable deciding. And the night before, as I got into the shower, I remembered thinking, “How do I feel tonight. Do I want a warm shower or a hot one?” These two events had me journaling about the huge array of choices I have every day and how wonderful it is to choose. Even now, when things are restricted, I have room for choice.

Is it the change in routine?

That has certainly happened to me. I’m self-employed. I care for people and their homes, most of them old. I run errands, work in the yard and clean. I’ve been doing this for over a decade. My clients have become my friends.

Now my focus has shifted to home – our yard, our house, our needs. But aside from not making the significant drive to Salt Lake City not much is different. I still get up early. I still care for the needs of many people, and if I include myself, three of them are old. LOL 

So, what is it, this unnamed feeling

that unsettles me, that sits on my shoulders like a heaviness, but not fear? A couple of days ago I read a post that a friend sent to me and I think it speaks to the unnamed feeling I have been trying to decipher. 

As far as I could discover it was written by  Sherrie Eichmeier Reynolds and posted on a Facebook page titled Worldwide Inspiration. I have included some comments by readers in parenthesis, have shortened places and made some slight changes. It concerns the Bible and the number 40 and some beautiful sentiments on Christ. But I’m not sharing it for religious reasons. I’m sharing it because it speaks to the unnamed feeling I have. You can read the whole thing as written HERE. 

“The Latin root of the word “quarantine” is “forty.” What does the Bible say about 40?

“The flood lasted 40 days. For 40 years Moses fled Egypt. For 40 days Moses stayed on Mount Sinai to receive the Commandments. The Exodus lasted 40 years. Jesus fasted for 40 days. Lent is 40 days. There were a required 40 days for a woman to rest after giving birth. (In the old days, when ships arrived from foreign lands if there were any sick passengers aboard, the whole ship was placed on quarantine -40 days- to make sure they weren’t going to spread anything to the local population.)

“A group of theologians thinks the number 40 represents “change.” It is the time of preparing a person, or people, to make a fundamental change.”

And there it is, the name for what I have been feeling – uncertainty and change.

When this is all over, I will be different. My neighbors will be different. My state, my country, and the world will be different. We will be changed. The future is uncertain. My next move is uncertain. 

I moved a lot as a kid and it always left me feeling uncertain. But as I consider uncertainty from the distance of seven decades, I see how this word and the attendant feelings have propelled me forward. It has moved me to new ways of being and understanding as I grappled with what I didn’t yet know. 

I am confident that in the end, it will have been good, and I will have grown. I am confident because I have learned to sit with the discomfort of uncertainty. You have probably heard some version of this – the only certainty is uncertainty. It’s a reality, and it helps us grow.

I won’t bother to tell you how to sit with uncertainty. There are a plethora of articles online. Just know that in seven decades I have lived through many uncertain times, some far more frightening than this. During this one, I’ve been re-evaluating. I’ve been making some adjustments in how I think, work, study, read, and spend my time. I know I have been growing. 

So, for now, I’m going to sit comfortably at this time of uncertainty, and I hope it will be the same for you. 

Thank you for sharing. I am grateful and so are your friends.

With Kids, Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew!!

Keep It Simple

I know about this and I work to keep things simple. However, being at home for an extended period of time has been wreaking havoc on my brain. : )

The other day I decided to help the grands, all four of them, make cookies. Now that isn’t a big deal except, I decided to let each one make their own kind. And let’s not forget that Maggie is special needs and must have constant help to participate.

I know, I was out of my mind! : ) I asked Don to help. I reasoned that he could help the two boys, one 12 and one 6. The 12-year-old wouldn’t need much help. I would help the girls, one 10 and one 14, with special needs. The 10-year-old is creative and fairly independent. That should work out alright.

NOT! Don couldn’t manage two at a time and was totally involved with the six-year-old. That left me with three. As for the twelve-year-old, I discovered that when it comes to cooking, he needed a lot of help. And as far as the 10-year-old goes, she couldn’t read my cursive. Of course, her recipe card was in my cursive. Sigh. It was like trying to wrangle chickens. You’ve never done that. Well, trust me, it’s tiring!! And here is another thing. I am perfectly aware that expectations can do a good project in. I teach that. I am an expert.

BUT I forgot my own advice.

Here is what I thought. Each one will be able to measure the ingredients. All but Ben will be able to cream the sugar and shortening, no problem. Then they will cook their cookies, we will eat some and each will clean up their spot on the table. WHAT WAS I THINKING!!!

Here is how it went. No one knew that you had to pack shortening or brown sugar into the cups and had to be shown. No one could cream the sugar and shortening without significant help. They struggled to even find the correct measuring cup. After one pan of cookies, they were done and had flown the coop, so to speak. As for gathering them back to clean up, GET REAL!

I have to say, that I remained CALM while I was working with the kids. During the baking, I felt myself begin to slip. That is when I should have STOPPED, thought it out, and packaged a ton of dough in plastic wrap and utilized the freezer. But when we are brain-fried we stop thinking. LOL

It took me three hours to cook and put all those cookies away and I had two ovens going. We began at 1:30. The kids were done in by 2:30. I finished at 5:30. Then I was grumpy the rest of the evening. Fortunately, I live in a different part of the house and they never even knew. Poor Don, he lives with me!

When we work with children there are ways to keep it happy for us, as well as them. There are ways to remain energetic to the end and spend the evening cheerful. That is useful because unlike me, you do live in the same house with your kids.

Five Tips For Happy Times With Kids

1. Remember that kids are process-driven. They like the process of whatever the activity is and when that part is done, they are done. They are not concerned with the outcome – in other words baking the cookies or cleaning up, for that matter.
2. Watch your expectations. Link your satisfaction to your ability to enjoy what is even when it falls short of your expectations.
3. Mentally prepare for a mess. There will be one. There is NO way around it!
4. If you keep things simple you will manage better. Only make one batch of cookies at a time, not four!
5. Think through the time needed for the whole project so you don’t find yourself giving more than you planned. The present example is perfect – making cookies from 1:30 to 5:30. To long!

Working with children is so rewarding if we manage our adult way of thinking, have realistic expectations, keep it simple and stay present.

I appreciate it when you share and so do your friends. Thank you!

The HARDEST thing to choose!

A 92-year-old, petite, well-poised and proud man, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o’clock, with his hair fashionably combed and shaved perfectly, even though he is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today. His wife of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary. After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, he smiled sweetly when told his room was ready.

“As he maneuvered his walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of his tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on his window. ‘I love it,’ he stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy. Mr. Jones, you haven’t seen the room; just wait.’

That doesn’t have anything to do with it,’ he replied. Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn’t depend on how the furniture is arranged…it’s how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it. It’s a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do.

“Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open, I’ll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I’ve stored away… Just for this time in my life.” – Well Built: Inspiring Stories from the Boardroom to the Frontline By Bob Buck

I enjoyed reading this short story because it highlights an important law of success –

it happens in our minds first.

The other day Don did something that ruffled my feathers! I felt the anger well up and the inner pout come out. As I stood at the sink fuming, I realized that I had a choice to make. I could be angry and let Don know it or I could flush what was bothering me and just be happy. I decided to let it go and just be happy.

It wasn’t easy. That negative emotion wanted to run around and around in my brain replaying whatever it was that was upsetting me. I had to find a way to shove it out for good. I choose to be grateful. I began thinking up a list in my mind of all the things that I like about Don, all the fun and pleasant memories that I have of the two of us. Guess what, the negative feeling dissipated and I felt happy.

As we parent our families there is plenty to stress us especially during these trying days of Covid-19 and social distancing. Children aren’t perfect, we aren’t perfect, systems and tools don’t always work the way we want them to, sad things happen, bad things happen, relationships can turn bumpy, our family culture is often a poignant mirror of all the work we need to do. Despite all this we can choose to be happy. The truth is that happiness is an attitude. It’s not something created by outside circumstances, but instead is completely within our control.

Here are a few techniques

to help you choose happy when you’re tempted to choose something else.

1. Be grateful – This tops my list. It works every time. When I am feeling really put out or downtrodden, if I begin thinking about all the wonderful parts of my life, I just can’t help but perk right up. If you need to, write a list. Seeing it in black and white helps.
2. Take care of yourself – What are some of the small things in life that make you feel good? Do one daily. Take a short walk, write for a few minutes in your journal, have a short meditation, watch the sunset, hug a child. For me, it is a hot shower just before bed every day. I love it! Whatever reminds you that you are a human being and not a human doing will improve your outlook on life.
3. Be creative – Creativity and self-expression generate happiness. Schedule some creative time each day, even if it’s just a few minutes of writing, painting, baking, or sewing.
4. Move – Move a little every day to stay happy. It releases endorphins, the feel-good hormone.
5. Read and listen to inspirational material – It helps to be reminded of positive thoughts and positive attitudes. Read in your spiritual cannon or get a small book of positive, inspirational thoughts and keep it by your desk. Read one or two thoughts each day. Every morning I have a private devotional. I have a short list of songs that move my heart. I choose one to listen to every morning, then I pray. I read a few verses in my spiritual cannon. It makes a difference!
7. Contribute – Serve others. Think about the needs of others. Make a difference. It boosts your self-esteem, your gratitude, and feeling of well-being.
8. Be in nature – Nature rejuvenates and restores the human spirit. Give yourself the gift of visiting it frequently. Take a walk or just sit in the sun in your back yard and rest for a few minutes! : )

No matter how many wonderful things you do to create a positive, happy, satisfied life, you could still end up in unhappy stressed situations. Ultimately, happiness, gratitude, and a feeling of satisfaction is a choice.

Know someone who needs some

‘happy’? Please share.

Dogs or Kids, Life is a Challenge!

I have a friend who has a tiny poodle named Isadore. When I last visited her, she complained that he is spoiled rotten. He wants to be held all the time. She said Isadore drips water from his chin when he drinks and so the floor is always a mess. She sighed in exasperation.

I have another friend who had two small, fluffy, white dogs. One is over ten and one is just a year old. The one-year-old constantly badgered the older dog who wanted nothing to do with romping and wrestling. My friend felt that she needed to provide a playmate for the one-year-old. She bought a third small, white, fluffy dog. This one is a puppy just a few weeks old.

I was at her home last week and she said, “Two was OK. But now I need a third hand. I just can’t keep up with them all.” Later she was telling me that the one-year-old was very jealous of the new puppy. She related how weary she gets by the end of the day making sure the puppy is safe while the one-year-old dog gets accustomed to the new family member. And housebreaking the puppy, we aren’t even going to talk about that stress! She complained that now that there are three dogs there is a lot more mess, toys, noise, and chaos.

Doesn’t that sound like your life?

Recently my daughter had a baby. When Clark was just weeks old her daughter, who is seven, came and sat on her lap. “Mom, I’m feeling sad. I liked being the youngest.”

Matilda had slept on a small bed in her parents’ room since she was born. Now she’s in a regular bed, in a room with her sister. Clark is in a crib in the parents’ bedroom. I watched as her parents tried to deal with the situation. They were finding it a bit of a challenge. To help with the transition my son-in-law slept on the floor by her bed for a week!

You see, it doesn’t matter if we have a family of dogs or children. Filling needs which constantly change is a challenge. Getting everything done is a challenge. Managing the needs of everyone we’re responsible for is a challenge. Life is a challenge.

But take it from me, having people or animals you love in your life is worth the work. So, smile. Laugh. Find moments of joy. Despite the challenges, savor it. Life with your family is brief and tender.

Know someone who is struggling?

Please share.

The 100% Devil is a Liar!

When my grandson, Jack, was three, Mary was just one and Maggie was five, I taught them about germs and hygiene. It was chaotic. Mary was on the table and into everything. Jack wanted his way. Maggie, of course, needs LOTS of help. Whew. Did they get any of that? Despite all my preparation and planning, I was sure that the whole thing had been a big fat flop!

A full three days later, a miracle happened at dinner in the Palmer home. Out of the blue, Jack said, “When you sneeze water comes out of your mouth.” He then proceeded to tell his mom and dad how to blow your nose the right way, how to throw the tissue away so others don’t get sick, and all about germs. AMAZING.

The 1% Principle

This brings me to what I want to remind you about today, the 1% principle.  I have written about it before, but it can’t be repeated too often. It’s a principle, which if understood and believed, can free moms and dads from the quilt they feel when they think they’re not doing enough; things aren’t going right, or their expectations are not being met. It can free them from perfectionism and allow them to enjoy being with their children.

Real learning, growth, and change come from building on a solid, consistent 1% improvement over time. However, we tend to live with and accept the 100% devil who says that if we aren’t doing it all now, in just the right way, then we aren’t going to get a good result. Don’t believe the 100% devil. Remember great things are accomplished 1% at a time.

Back to the germ example. It was chaotic. We moved through the items quickly because of short attention spans. There were lots of interruptions while I was telling them something. How in the world could this turn out good?

Even I, with all my experience, can still have some silly expectations sometimes. Kids are going to sit quietly and hang on your every word. They are going to put their hands on the paper correctly and put the stickers where they go and want to play all the games and sing all the songs. Please, let’s get real. That isn’t how it usually goes.

However, if you’re clear about the 1% principle, that great things are accomplished with small and consistent efforts, then it will be acceptable; you will know in your heart that they are getting it; just like Jack. Three days later is a long time for a three-year-old.

Another example of the 1% principle in action.

My daughter’s family has a family mission statement. When their kids were little, they said it every morning. One morning I got to lead the reciting of the family mission statement. The first line goes like this – “The Joyful Palmer’s are a team. Yeaaah.” As we began to recite that line the 16-month-old raise her little fist into the air and yelled “Yeaaah”. She is 16 months old and the 1% principle is already at work in her life. She is getting it through consistency and repetition. You can bet this one line, understood at 16 months, will make a difference in her life.

I appreciate it when you share. Thank you!

Remember, Life is Brief and Tender

“You will miss struggling in church.” WHAT!

A few Sundays ago, in church, a mother was talking to the congregation. She mentioned that at times, in the past, it had been hard to focus on the speaker. This was because kids and church can be a fussy business. As they learn to manage their bodies and acquire the ability to be reverent it can be a struggle. She had lived that struggle.

As she looked out at the congregation her next words caused me some reflection. “You will miss struggling in church.” Is that true? Do we want to be engaged in a struggle with our kids whether at church, in the grocery store or at bedtime? I don’t think so.

So, what was this mother really expressing? I think it was the nostalgia adults feel when children grow up and leave home. We all know it’s going to happen but while we’re in the trenches all we can see is the struggle. It’s one of those, “You can’t know till you get there” things.

It’s that ‘Family Feeling!’

What is it that causes this nostalgia? What is it that’s missed? I’ve not only thought about this, but I’ve lived it. We miss that ‘family feeling’. When our kids leave home, they’re still our kids. They come home for visits and eventually they bring their kids home with them. We have a family. But that’s not what I’m talking about and it isn’t what that mom in church talked about.

You will miss the energy of children. You will miss the hugs and kisses. You will miss the chaos and the quiet moments. You will miss the snuggles. You will miss your little children. You may not miss the laundry, dirty dishes, or cooking. But you will miss the activities that caused the dirty laundry. You will miss sitting down to eat with your children even if they spill the milk. You will miss having small faces to look at as they complain about what you have cooked.

I know, I know. You’re a busy mom or dad. You’re overwhelmed a lot of the time. Hearing this can rankle. I felt the same when I was in the thick of it. It irritated me when an older parent at church looked me in the eye as I was struggling with a crying four-year-old and said, “The time will come when you will miss this.”
But I have gotten there. I get it.

Why am I sharing this with you? I hope that my words will lodge in your mind and that they will come to you when you’re irritated, angry, frustrated, over the top. I hope they help you be a bit kinder, gentler, more forgiving, more joyous even in the mess. I hope they encourage you to smile more and hug more.

“Before I die I want to . . . ”

In a recent TED talk by Candy Chang, she shared a moving experience. Chang asked the question “Before I die I want to . . . ” She asked the question by turning the side of an abandoned building into a huge chalkboard for people to write their responses on. In one day, the whole side of the building was filled with chalked in answers and it grew from there. Some of the responses were humorous and fun but most were poignant, and many were related to the need we all have to matter and to connect with those around us. At the end of her talk, she expressed, “Two of the most valuable things we have in life are our time and our relationships with other people. In our age of increasing distractions, it’s more important than ever to find ways to maintain perspective and remember life is brief and tender”.

Don’t let the challenges of parenting make you lose sight of the beauty of it. Don’t let busyness take away your desire to hear and see. Don’t let childish learning and error harden your heart.

When you’re older, thinking back on those earlier days when your children lived in your home will cause you very tender feelings. You’re going to want to be able to call to mind moments when you held your child one more time for a little longer; when you were patient; when you allowed them to be themselves and grow; when despite the chaos or mess, you smiled and meant it.

I love this verse of scripture. Matthew 13:16: “But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.” This verse of scripture is about seeing and hearing things that cannot be seen with our temporal eyes or heard with our temporal ears. If we remember that despite the challenges, life with our children is brief and tender, we will be blessed to see and hear in an extraordinary way. We will send the message to those we love most: I see you. I hear you. You matter to me.

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