Turn That Frown Upside Down!

In case you needed an extra reason to smile today…

smarter moms

Happy Valentine’s Day to all you wonderful, hard-working, precious Moms!  To celebrate this awesome day of love I thought we’d enjoy some great thoughts from Jill Savage, creator and director of Hearts at Home.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember how and why to smile. But during the sleepless nights, sweatpants and no shower days, and chaotic afternoons – we have to make ourselves SMILE!

Here are Jill’s 10 Reasons to Smile – just in case your sweet kids weren’t reason enough 😮

Enjoy!

10 Reasons To Smile

1. Smiling makes you more attractive.

2. Smiling changes your mood.

3. Smiling is contagious.

4. Smiling relieves stress.

5. Smiling boosts your immune system.

6. Smiling lowers your blood pressure.

7. Smiling releases endorphins.

8. Smiling makes you look younger.

9. Smiling gives the appearance of success.

10. Smiling helps you stay positive.

Go smile at someone!

Kasey

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How do you spell love?

A thought about showing love…

smarter moms

th[9]Quick, think back to all the goofy, puppy-love feelings you experienced the first time you fell in “love”. Whether you were 5 or 15 we all know the fluttering feeling in our stomach that happened when that someone special brushed our hand or looked our way.

Love can change form as we age. It feels, sounds, looks and even impacts us differently.

Valentine’s Day has come and gone but I hope we never stop thinking about how to show love to the people in our life.

We can read books about types of Love Languages and we know what it feels like to be loved, but sometimes it can be difficult to show love to the people we’re around the most.

One day I was truly fed up with my toddler and called my mom in desperation. I remember saying, “Mom, I don’t even LIKE him right now – he’s driving…

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The ABCs of Grades

medalsThroughout my years of working with mothers, one topic continues to come up in conversations – when to pay and when not to pay children.

So here are my thoughts, take what works for you and trash the rest – but please know this is not a quick, nor is it an easy, answer.

Here’s the thing about money. It causes an item to have a defined value (or lack thereof). In 2008, Dan Ariely wrote the book, Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions.  It’s a fascinating look at why we do what we do and how we make decisions. He talks about two forms of currency or value. The first is a social norm, where money isn’t the issue. Instead, it’s about relationships and the value or benefit our decision brings to our fellow man. The second is a market norm. This norm focuses on money and the fiscal results of a decision.

Quick example: A plate of cookies are in the office break room. Sign says, “help yourself”. People only took one cookie and the cookies lasted for a while so everyone had an opportunity to enjoy one. Another time a plate of cookies was labeled, “.25 each”. Guess what happened? People put in a dollar and took 4 cookies. The cookies were gone in a short time period and people took more cookies than they did before.

According to Ariely, here’s what happened. A market norm was assigned to an object and therefore the social  norm went away. No one thought about others, they just did the math. I put in a dollar, I get 4 cookies.

It makes sense doesn’t it? But here’s the thing. Ariely (and a bunch of really smart psych people) figured out that once a market norm is assigned, the social norm not only goes away, it can never return. He has so many examples about a daycare charging for watching kids late, lawyers helping the elderly with legal advice, and on it goes. It’s a fascinating book and I think it bears some weight with kids, grades, chores, and a household.

Is it wrong to pay kids for responsibilities or positive marks? I don’t think so.

Is it necessary? I don’t think so.

Before you get upset – hear me out.

Each of my children are unique. Their learning styles and abilities are very different. My oldest can work for 4 hours on math and still only earn a B. My middle child can do the same assignment in 1 hour and earn an A.

Did my middle child work harder? Nope. Is my oldest not giving his best? Nope.

So why would I assign a market norm to their learning and their abilities?

What if my kid has a teacher that is just one of those royal, pain in the rear end, jerks who never gives an A on a test or paper? What if my kid has a learning disability or the unit they are studying in school just doesn’t make sense to them? There are so many variables involved in the learning process and school objectives.

Carol Dweck writes and speaks about how important the PROCESS is and not just the PRODUCT of learning. (CLICK HERE to watch her Ted Talk) She did an experiment with groups of children who were given projects and puzzles to complete. One group was told they were “smart” when they finished and the other group was praised with the words, “you worked so hard” at completion.

Each group was then offered a more difficult puzzle or one at the same level. Wanna guess which group went up a level and invited more challenge?

Yep – the group that was focused on the process. The ones who were told they were smart really were smart kids. In fact, they figured that if this level of doing things constitutes “smart”, why should I push myself?

I’m not suggesting we lose “smart” from our vocabulary, but the minute I add market norms to grades and the learning process, I take away the social norm of enjoying the process of thinking, struggling with answers, and in the end having a result that reflects my efforts – no matter the grading scale being used.

As mothers we are tasked with creating global citizens. People who aren’t afraid to work hard. People who immerse themselves in the process and create a product that is an authentic reflection of our children’s thoughts, dreams, feelings, and abilities.

We can tackle the topic of chores another time. For now, start thinking about what events or tasks need to remain focused on process and social norms instead of focusing so much on the market. The “market” of this world can sometimes limit our kids or misrepresent them.

I truly believe our children are looking to US to provide a market that values them beyond their grades or scores. But instead, values what they bring to our family and our society.

So here’s your mneumonic device for the day concerning grades and performance in children:

Accept each child as unique and wonderful.

Be focused on the process more than the product.

Continue to encourage children to try, even if a “prize” or “medal” doesn’t come in the end.

I value you.

Thank you for caring about the little things and the big things.

You stay up late, wash clothes, clean floors, wipe away tears, and YOU are making this world better. Don’t limit your actions according to the market norm. Your value FAR exceeds such measurements. You and I have a social norm that will come to light as our children grow and treat others as we have treated them – with respect.

Thank you for sharing, liking, and commenting – Spring is coming – hang in there!

Kasey

 

 

Letting Go

pathI’ve never sat down and simply written a post.

God brings topics, burdens, even challenges to my mind at some of the most random times but I know they are from Him. Usually I’ll sit with those thoughts for quite a while, applying them to my life, seeking out scripture and listening to see what else God has to say and THEN I write.

But friends, my heart is about to burst.

I can’t even begin to count how many times this blog, all the moms I’ve met over the years and all the writings I’ve been blessed to put into the Universe have come to my mind over the last 6 months. I find myself praying for all the moms, grandmas, children, and pastors I’ve met over the years.

It’s a kind of yearning I find difficult to describe. I miss writing to you. I miss hearing from you. I miss being with you –

Two years ago I was so excited to see a three-year journey become a reality when Mom Essentials was published. I read the pages today and weep at God’s faithfulness. I could have NEVER come up with those words. I could have NEVER thought up those concepts and applications – NO WAY!

I still believe God called me to write that study and I believe His hand was in it – but here’s the honesty behind it all.

I am constantly at war with Satan as he tries to breathe doubt into my mind, sew feelings of failure into my spirit and burden me with the weight of unmet expectations.

Satan works that way doesn’t he? He knows what is precious to us. He knows what God intended for good and he works so very hard to turn those things into evil.

Here’s the thing. I am NOT interested in selling books – I’m interested in encouraging and connecting with people. I’ve been called to teach and I’ve been blessed to see that calling played out in classrooms, sanctuaries, conventions, even my own home. But somehow I had an expectations for how God would use that study and how it would be an awesome resource for MOPS and Bible Study groups of all ages…

But those were MY expectations and that’s not how ministry works.

So I’m letting go. I’m letting go of all my dreams that this Bible study would reach moms of all ages, bring churches together, and help women reconnect with God.

I’m not giving up, nor am I giving in – I truly believe God ordained that Bible Study to be written, I just don’t know exactly what God has planned for the study or for me – and that is okay.

I DO know that God moves in His own way and in His own time. So I’m letting go of the guilt, fear, and pressure Satan continues to try to place in my life.

I’m doing the best I can – I’m focusing on my essentials and my faith is growing each time I push aside the temptation to think that the essentials in my life aren’t “enough”.

This morning I read these words in Jesus Calling: “A successful day is one in which you have stayed in touch with Me, even if many things remain undone at the end of the day.” – Sarah Young

I’m continually discovering what it means to get rid of the “extras” in my life and accept that while the “essentials” will change with the stages of life I experience – my one constant, ever-present, life-giving essential is my Jesus.

I’m holding tightly to His hand – everything else I am letting go.

God you are in control. Help me obey you without doubt or fear. I trust You are bigger than my circumstances and You alone know how all of this is working for my good.

Kasey

Anyone else need to let go of something or someone? I’d love to hear from you in the comments or on our Facebook page. You bring me such joy – thank you for being so patient and so wonderful!

Thanksgiving 2.0

thankful posterBeing thankful is something we all work on, but what we’re thankful for can change – and that’s okay.

Today I boarded our plane and saw a sweet couple sitting with their 6 month old baby boy. I asked if the seat next to them was taken and they looked shocked that I’d be interested. The dad even said, “You’re awfully brave” as I sat down.

I couldn’t help but smile, because these two had no idea how thankful I was to sit next to them and just be near this precious boy. I miss those days and yet I am so very, very thankful that they had the baby and not me. I love sitting next to, holding and even caring for babies – but I’m THRILLED to not have one of my own. I’m just being honest. My version of thankful has been “updated”.

Don’t get me wrong – having a teenager and a pre-teen in the house isn’t a walk in the park – but it’s a different kind of exhaustion and stress. I’m so thankful to have memories of my boys as they grew up and explored the world. I’m even more thankful to know who I am so I can discover what it means to have a relationship with my children when they have their own thoughts, priorities, and ambitions.

I’ll be writing more about teenagers in future posts, but today I’m feeling a bit nostalgic and reflective. I remember being thankful for 3+ hours of sleep, when their teeth finally broke through their gums and the suffering stopped, when they played together in their own imaginary world I got to watch….such wonderful, precious times of truly being THANKFUL.

Today I’m thankful that my teenager thinks I’m the most strict, controlling mom ever. I’m thankful I can laugh with my teenage boy and appreciate his sense of humor, even when I find it completely ridiculous.

I’m thankful for friends who are ahead of me and behind me in this journey called parenting. They remind me to be thankful for today…for every single bit of today.

I love my yesterdays, but I don’t mourn them.

I love my todays, but I don’t let them overtake me.

I love the thought of tomorrow, but I’d never pretend to know what will happen next.

I’m so thankful for God’s grace and the gifts He has so graciously given me. My scripture for this season in life is from the Message:

Ephesians 2

7-10 Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

Wherever God has you right now is the RIGHT place.

You and I are JOINING God in His work , we don’t have to do it alone – that’s what allows us to be thankful – even when we’re exhausted and overwhelmed.

You are a blessing to me!

Thank you for sharing and following this blog and for being so very patient as I manage this crazy life of mine and rely on God to do the making and the saving – I’ll just keep “doing” the work in front of me – to God be the glory – he is doing GREAT THINGS!!!

Leave a comment and let us know what you are most thankful for these days…

Kasey

Momma Bears Part 3

bear hibernatingMomma bears know how to rest.

I’m not talking about sitting down for a minute and catching our breath – I’m talking about real, true REST.

One of the worst things someone can say to a mother of young children is, “So, what did you do today?”.

You don’t really want to know and sometimes we can’t even articulate what happened – it’s as thought the day happened TO US, instead us making the day happen {can I get an ‘amen’}.

But the difference between “crazy mommas” and being a momma bear is that we know when we need to, and how to truly stop and rest.

Did you know that some bears hibernate for almost 8 months?!

They don’t eat, drink…they even have such a low metabolism that they stop peeing!

Hmmmmm…that sounds a lot like some of my days. I eat when I can, drink the rest of the kids’ pop and I’ve learned to hold my pee for a very long time.

I want to be a momma bear that can let go and rest – this is NOT an easy task for me.

I’ve taken one of those “strengths assessment” things a couple of times and my #2 strength is {drum roll please}

achiever

I don’t accomplish things for accolades. Nope, I just am not satisfied with finishing one thing and then stopping. Before I finish a task I’m already thinking about the next one and planning my approach.

My husband said it best, “It is exhausting being married to you”.

Before you throw angry looks at your screen please know that he supports me 100% and he loves my drive – but I need him. He reminds me to stop, look around and enjoy where I am in stead of always looking ahead.

So, being an achiever, the word “rest” is like a nasty 4-letter word to me..well, it used to be.

Call it age, call it experience, call it parenting for 13 years – I’ve FINALLY begun to appreciate the act of and the necessity of resting. My life is balanced and it has been for some time. I’ve been practicing this technique and putting an emphasis on resting ever since I started writing “Mom Essentials”. God broke me down and showed me just how ugly and broken I really was and THEN He allowed the Bible Study to be completed.

The process took 3 years – I’m a slow learner I guess.

As I’ve been focusing on this “rest-filled” mindset I’ve found comfort in some beautiful words from my devotions and scripture. I hope you’ll read these and find the same encouragement. Sometimes as moms we just have to stop and breathe. Deep breaths in and out and just focus on breathing for a minute.

From Jesus Calling – July 21…

“Rest in My presence when you need refreshment. Resting is not necessarily idleness, as people often perceive it. When you relax in My company, you are demonstrating trust in Me. Trust is a rich word, laden with meaning and direction for your life. I want you to lean on, trust, and be confident in Me. When you lean on Me for support, I delight in your trusting confidence.”

From The Message…

Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG) “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Wow.

I’d LOVE to live freely and lightly. It doesn’t mean I live without care or concern – I still have to do laundry, make dinner, go to work…the list goes on and on…

But amongst my list…within my crazy day…I can rest.

One minute I’m a momma bear with her roar known and the next I can be them momma bear sitting back, playing with her kids and truly resting.

Resting in the truth that I’m not the only one on my side.

Resting in the truth that God is enough.

Resting in the truth that tomorrow’s worries cannot be remedied today so I might ask well rest in the moments God has given me.

I hope you are able to rest this week and enjoy your cubs. let’s hibernate together and trust that God’s hand is on us – almost creating a cave of protection. Rest momma, He’s got this.

Blessings –

Kasey

Checkout  all the posts in this series…

Meet the Momma Bears

Momma Bears Part 1

Momma Bears Part 2

Momma Bears Part 2

polar bear and cubOne of the most precious things to watch is a momma bear with her cubs. Whether polar bears are rolling in the snow or brown bears are climbing trees they are just adorable! Of course, watching them on TV is the safest way to observe bears, but a few times I’ve seen a camera guy get too close. In that moment I watch a cute, carefree momma turn into a fierce, snarling protector. Her cubs are her first priority and she will do anything to protect them.

I’ll admit it, I was VERY protective of my son’s schedule, food, friends and even his toys. I think I found comfort in controlling all those outside elements because I knew I couldn’t control him. Here I am, 12 years later and I’m feeling the same way. I want to protect him from bullies and mean teachers at school. I want to keep …

None of us want to be “that” mom. You know, the one who freaks out if someone sneezes, coughs or something falls on the floor. However, there’s something to be said about watching out for our kids – we’re their mom after all and that’s our most important calling! So here’s the thing. I am turning into a momma bear when it comes to protecting my boys. I’m not interested in sheltering them and sometimes it’s difficult to know the difference.

Sheltering our kids means we withhold knowledge and limit opportunities.

Protecting our kids means we educate them and prepare them for their interactions with the world.

So I’m becoming “that” mom in the sense that I am becoming SUPER protective without sheltering my kids.

Some of the areas I’m currently focused on include (but aren’t totally limited to):

  • Technology – a wonderful, helpful and yet potentially destructive resource. It’s a voice that is constantly available and I have to be intentional about what that voice is saying to my kids. To pretend as though I can see every text, preview every website and keep up with all the online lingo and acronyms is silly. Instead I’ve decided to work hard to keep my voice as present as possible with my kids. I want my voice to remain important, valid and honest. So I’m okay saying I don’t know how to do something and I expect my kids to show me what they know. We have a few rules in our house when it comes to technology and these rules are NOT optional.
  1. Dad and I know your security code but your friends don’t.
  2. Even if it’s free you don’t purchase an app, song or video without checking with us first (this happens because at this point our kids share our itunes account and can’t purchase things without our password).
  3. I can pick up your device at any time and check your texts, web searches, Instagram, pictures, ANYTHING is up for grabs. Sometimes we read their texts, comments, and websites out loud. We don’t do it to embarrass them but to remind them that what happens on their device is REAL and matters to us.
  4. No technology is allowed at the table or during meal times.
  5. Technology is a privilege, not a right.  If you can’t take care of the “musts” in your life (school, chores, respect to others, etc) then you MIGHT lose your phone. Having a phone and any connection to the online world MIGHT happen if you take care of all the MUSTS we’ve agreed upon.
  6. When we are talking to each other we will have eye contact. DO NOT ever, ever, ever look down at your buzzing phone when I’m talking to you. We need eye contact and a verbal response so we know you heard us and you’re responsible for the information.
  • Friends – open communication, genuine interest and consistent interaction are some of the best ways to know who my kids are talking to and who is influencing their life. I will NEVER have the same kind of influence over my boys as their friends but that doesn’t mean I’m letting those outside push me out. I will make noise, keep asking questions and be a part of my boy’s life and that includes knowing their friends. I’m the first one to volunteer our house for a get together. I say hello to their friends at school and at church – those kids will know my face and know I’m a presence that isn’t going away. I’ll treat them respect and keep my distance – but I’m not going anywhere.
  • Balancing life –multiple classes, teachers, sports, church, family, homework, projects, friends…it’s a LOT for kids to manage. I’m going to protect my kids from being completely clueless and helpless. I will help them make a plan, anticipate their needs and I will (even when it’s painful) allow natural consequences to take their toll. When my son has a huge project for school I help him make a plan and ask what he needs from me. He’s in charge – I’m supporting him. If he doesn’t finish his project or chooses to do things in a sub-par manner he will get a bad grade and that will stink – but that’s life. My goal is to slowly pull my support away and leave him still standing – with confidence and the tools to succeed.

Sometimes it is really exhausting being a momma bear – especially when I’m protecting my cubs. But we’re going to have some adventures, explore our world and we’ll learn a lot about each other along the way. Most importantly I want my boys to know that I believe in them. They are older now. They no longer really “need” me to survive. But I would like to be a part of their life. This can only happen when they trust me and know my intentions. When the rest of the world comes against them or tries to push them down they can come to me – their momma bear – and I will do my best to protect them, even if I have to raise my hands and ROAR!!! I will try my best, at all times, to keep my little cubs safe.

Lord, I know I can’t protect my kids from everything and the world will continue to create temptations and issues for them, but I also believe you placed me in their life for this season and for a purpose. Lord, help me to protect without sheltering and please help me remember that You are the best shelter, shield and stronghold they will ever need. Help my children to see Your strength through me. Help them to sense my love for them through my actions. Finally Lord, please help me know when to let go and allow them to defend themselves. It’s going to be difficult to walk away but I trust You Lord – I trust them to YOU!

Your protective momma bear,

Kasey

Check out earlier posts in this series!

INTRO

PART 1


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