Notes From the Sally Clarkson “Mom Heart Conference”

Me & Sally at MomHeart

Me and my dear friend Sally

conference room

Last week I flew to Dallas, Texas to Sally Clarkson’s Mom Heart Conference.  This is my third year to attend and each year I leave encouraged and inspired.

I was blessed to get to spend the weekend with Angela and Whitney.

GMGs

And lots of other friends:  {pictured below – top row L to R: Kristen Kill, Chrystal Evans Hurst, Kat Lee, Angela Perritt, Whitney Daughtery; bottom row: Deb Chapman (mother of 11 – wowsa!), Me :) }

Group of Friends at MomHeart

As I wait to catch my plane home, I’m reflecting over my notes and want to share some of the key thoughts on motherhood that challenged or blessed me this weekend.

  • Motherhood is from the cradle to the grave.  We are teaching our children how to nurture.  One day they will take care of us the way we have taken care of them.

  • Motherhood is an age old profession.  Learn from those who have gone before us.

  • God is speaking all the time but are we listening?  Ruth had no residence and did not know the end of the story.  She did not know she’d get Boaz in the end and a book in the Bible named after her.  She listened to God one step at a time.  It’s okay if we are unfinished, need prayer or eat on paper plates once in a while.  Ruth is only a finished product because we get to read her story after it is complete.  Look back and see what she did right.  Look back and see what Sally did right.  Emulate it.

  • Build your home on the right foundations: God’s words and truth.  Either you are building on solid rock or on sinking sand.  And if you are building on sand –great will be your fall!

  • Don’t copy the behavior and customs of the world. (Romans 12:2) Avoid extremes of other voices –either formalistic, legalistic, law-oriented voices based on works or, at the other extreme, liberal, permissive, freedom-oriented voices without consequences.

  • Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.  Don’t look for validation from the world, but look for the favor of God, and you will live freely and confidently.

  • As you read scripture to your children, do not let it be detached.  Remind them these are the heroes in the Bible…now how will you be a hero in your time? Read rich literature to and with your children alongside scripture.  Mothers are storytellers.  Every image we show our children shapes their story.

  • Remember: Only love can reach and transform hearts.  Guilt does not motivate–it kills.

  • Don’t live in condemnation of your personality.  God lovingly made you as you and nothing can separate you from God’s love.

  • How to love your kids: -Stop, look and listen: stop what you are doing, look them in the eye, and listen to them when they talk. -Touch them, hug them, rub their backs -Play with them -Give them focused one on one time and discipleship

  • Raising teens:  Teens are like toddlers – they are hormonal and tempted by everything in the world.  It is normal for them to to struggle with their ideals.  Have compassion and don’t take their wrongs personally.  A lot of reactive parenting is so we look good.  Use your critical eye to actively understand how God wired your child. Hone in on their good qualities to guide them where they are skilled.  Speak life into them. Begin and end the day well.  Bless them when they wake up in the morning and close the day well.

If you have not read any of Sally’s writings – I highly recommend both her books and blog at ITakeJoy.com.

Now go love on your kiddos and I’ll get back to the book club this Wednesday!

Walk with the King,

Courtney

The Women Living Well Book Club – Chapter 15 {School Choices}

chapter 15 school choices

Let’s Discuss Chapter 15

If you want to start disunity in the body of Christ…just talk about school choices.  Ugh. I am aware of this, so I tread very carefully into today’s blog post ;)

As chapter 15 says, I’m a product of public schools.  My parents walked alongside me, discipling me and teaching me how to be a light in darkness for 12 years and when I graduated, I was on fire for Jesus.

My parents lived out Deuteronomy 6:6-7: “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

I believe that school choices are not permanent choices.  I know many moms who homeschooled and then put their kids into a brick and mortar school and many moms who first sent their kids to a brick and mortar school but then pulled them out to homeschool them.  And then there are those like me, who only did public school and there are those, who are homeschool graduates.  All of us are walking with the Lord now…so it is not necessarily the school choice that determines the depth of our walk with God.

We each have our own journey – our own life puzzle and our own set of circumstances that will determine our school choices.  I do not believe in a cookie cutter – one size fits all – approach to education.

 

We are not replicas of each other

In this chapter, I share my education experience as a child, my reasons for homeschooling, the benefits and challenges of homeschooling and a day in our lives.  My conclusion in this chapter is — regardless of which school choice we make, our job as parents is to teach our children to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27)

I know the drive of the culture is to try to make our kids cool, honor roll students or star athletes.  It’s the prevailing voice of today – but that is not God’s voice.

We must remind our children – you don’t have to be cool.  Be like Christ.

You don’t have to be on the honor roll.  Honor the Lord.

You don’t have to be a star athlete. Worship the one who made the stars.

And if you happen to be on the honor roll or a star athlete –do it to the glory of God!

A reminder to our children

 

My daughter wanted to join me for today’s video – it’s super short and casual – just a little over one minute…

(if you can’t see this video – click here)

Discussion Questions:

1.)  What is the puzzle God has given your family that has determined your school choice for this season?

2.)  Read Deuteronomy 6:4-9.  Are you diligently teaching your children about the Lord?  What are some practical ways you are carrying this out in the home?

For Extra Discussion go to the Forum and click on the thread that says “Chapter 15″

Walk with the King,

Courtney

Women Living Well Book Club – Chapter 14 {When Moms Lose Their Temper}

chapter 14 header

Let’s Discuss Chapter 14

Do you struggle with losing your temper –you are NOT alone!  Long ago I turned to the book of Proverbs in my Bible, grabbed a highlighter, and marked every.single.verse that referenced how I am to communicate with others (there’s a TON of verses between chapters 10 and 31 regarding our speech).

Some of the verses I both marked and committed to memory are:

“He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.”  Proverbs 13:3

 “A quick tempered man does foolish things.”  Proverbs 14:17

 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”  Proverbs 15:1

“A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered.”  Proverbs 17:27

“A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.”  Proverbs 29:11

 

yelling-at-a-bud

In this video, I discuss “when mom’s lose their tempers” and our children’s perspective of us:

(if you cannot see this video – click here)

Ask your children to fill in these blanks for you:

My mom is______________.

Everyday she likes to _______________.

When she is angry she  ________________.

My mom makes me feel _______________.

One thing I wish my mom knew about me is __________________.

I encourage you to ask your kids to fill in these blanks – to get the temperature of your home through your children’s eyes.  Of course, sometimes moms are unpopular for not letting the kids eat candy, making them do chores and homework or saying no to certain activities and as a result they may say something negative –that’s not what I’m talking about here.  This is about getting to our children’s hearts and giving our kids a safe haven and a place where they can be honest, so we can hear their truth.

Let’s ask our children to tell us our story.  Listen. Learn. Love.  And know – none of us are perfect. We all must turn to the perfect one – Jesus – to help us in our battle with our flesh.  Let’s apologize to our children when we lose our tempers.

Perfect Women Aren't Real

Discussion Questions:

1.) Do you struggle with your temper?  If so, what is it that tends to set you off?

2.)  Look at Galatians 5:22-25.  What qualities are mentioned in verse 22 that you could apply to these tense situations?

For Extra Discussion go to the Forum and click on the thread that says “Chapter 14″

Walk with the King,

Courtney

“Your Parenting” Webcast & Extra Resources

I choose gentleness

 {image credit - Jen Thorn}

I just love today’s webcast featuring Ruth Schwenk from TheBetterMom.com and FortheFamily.org.  Her keynote runs for the first 15 minutes.  Then Darlene from TimeWarpWife.com and Angela join me on the couch to talk about Motherhood.

session 4

(if you cannot see the video – click here)

Here are some extra resources from TheBetterMom.com

From Grouchy to Great – a 30 day series to help moms overcome grouchiness

What Every Weary Mom Needs to Know

Bi-Weekly Whole Food Meal Plans

A Dozen Little Ways to Connect With Your Teen

Casting a Vision in the Heart of a Child

Lighting a Fire vs. Keeping the Rules

I hope something here encourages you.  Have a great weekend!

Walk with the King,

Courtney

Women Living Well Book Club – Chapter 13 {Motherhood Mess-Ups}

Chapter 13 motherhood mess-ups

Let’s Discuss Chapter 13

“Have you ever lain in bed awake at night and wondered, Why me?  I don’t understand these circumstances, God!  Have you ever felt like a failure, as if the rest of the world has it figured out, and you are the only one who just can’t seem to pull it together?  Your two-year -old won’t let you buckle her in the car, your three-year-old bites, your four-year-old hits, your ten-year-old struggles with reading, your teenager is defiant, or your grown child is making poor decisions –you sit there, helpless.” ~page 133

Oh friends – have you been there?

I have.  And I felt alone.  And I don’t want you to feel alone –  so today’s video is for all the weary moms, who need a glimmer of hope.

(if you cannot see this video – click here)

motherhood is not a sprint (3) (2)

 In Chapter 13, I talk about how surprised I was, to find that going on a vacation with children was not at all how I had imagined it would be.  When you look at all the adorable Facebook photos of families on the beach – those pictures do not tell the entire story.  Because now I know, vacationing with little ones is not a vacation for mommy and daddy. It’s a lot of hard work!  And truly, for a woman who had high ideals and expectations of motherhood, I have to admit this motherhood thing is WAY harder than I ever thought it would be!  God has both humbled me and brought me to my knees in prayer through my trials.

Here’s some funny photos from the vacation I was referring to in the book.  This was my Lexi – who insisted on putting her head in the sand, then she would cry from the sand burning her eyes.

Hilton Head 3

We would take her down to the water and rinse her off but then she would do it all.over.again.and.again.and.again. Bah!

Hilton Head 2

At one point, my husband took the sign off of the umbrellas that were for rent on the beach – and slipped the “for rent” sign on Lexi. Lol!  I thank God for this little girl who makes us laugh.

 God words

 

Discussion Questions:

1.)  What is one of your most memorable “motherhood mess-ups?”  In retrospect, did God use your shortcoming or mistake to teach you an important life lesson? If so, what?

2.)  Turn to Joshua 1:9 and read it slowly.  How could really believing the words of this verse transform your mothering especially when you have fear of “messing up”?

For Extra Discussion go to the Forum and click on the thread that says “Chapter 13″

Walk with the King,

Courtney

Bloggers:  Are you blogging your way through this book club with us?  Then link-up your blog post below.
**
Please note that this link up has changed for the next 5 weeks.{if your linked-up post is not about the book club it will be removed}

 


The Women Living Well Book Club – Chapters 11 & 12 {Motherhood & Technology}

chapters 11 & 12 motherhood

Hooray!  We are at the half-way point. We have completed the first half of the book  Women Living Well - on Your Walk with God and Your Marriage.  Now we are up to the section titled: “Your Parenting.”

Let’s Discuss Chapter 11 – A Mother’s Influence

In Chapter 14, I write about the influence of a mother.

Abraham Lincoln reportedly said, “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my mother.

The Statue of Liberty was said to be modeled after the sculptor’s mother. 

When Super Bowl football players look into the camera – they don’t say “Hi, Dad” –they yell, “Hi Moooooooooooooom!!!”

Children are sponges.  They soak up the influence of their mother.  And though your name may never be in lights – we must not forget the many many unnamed mothers who rocked the cradles of great men and women who changed the world.  They will forever be unnamed, but their influence is with us forever.

Do you wonder some days if what you are doing matters – changing diapers, kissing boo boos, making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches over and over and over.  We say night time prayers and tuck littles ones in bed and then they pop right.back.out.of.bed.  Oh! That is frustrating – I know!!!  And then there’s those moments when we lose our temper and feel like the worst moms ever.  We wonder if we are a failure or if our kids are going to end up in counseling forever. Lol!  The overflowing laundry baskets and sticky kitchen floors are enough to make a mom want to run away.  But you don’t. You are strong!  You keep going – loving, feeding, caring, helping and working hard for your family.

You matter.

You are priceless.

Don’t give up – don’t waste your influence. Call on the name of the Lord for help and keep going.

the influence of a mother

Let’s Discuss Chapter 12 – Parenting in the Digital Age

As I think about our influence as moms – I wonder how we influence our children through our use of technology.  Little eyes are watching.

One key, I learned from my parents, was to not hold a double standard.

For example, if a movie was unacceptable for me as a child because of violence, language or sexual content –it was not okay for my parents to see either!  They didn’t have an imaginary age when suddenly, we could watch more “adult” content.  Though some movies had a rating of PG-13 – my parents felt they were unacceptable for me at age 16 –and them at age 43!  If it was not good for me to see — it was not good for them to see either.

It is SO very important that we practice what we preach.  My parents were powerful role models and eventually their convictions became my convictions.

“I will set before my eyes no vile thing.  The deeds of faithless men I hate. They will not cling to me.”
~Psalm 101:3

 Three of my main points summed up in this chapter are:

1.) Be aware of what your children are doing!  It is our job as parents to pay attention and know what they are doing on social media or on the web.

2.)  Know Your Child. Is gossip their weakness? Watch their texting. Do they have a thirst for violence? Monitor their video games.  Are they curious about the opposite sex – be on guard for porn. Are they lonely? Do not let them talk to strangers that could be predators.  Each child will have their own unique struggles that will require guidance.  That is our job – to impart knowledge and wisdom to our children – especially in their areas of weakness – don’t forget there is an enemy who wants you to not care or be naive.

3.) Teach them to think for themselves.  We will not always be able to oversee our children’s internet use.  As they grow older, they will begin to use the internet at their friends house or the library or on their phones when we are not around.  Train your child to have a godly conscience and a healthy fear of God – so they are convicted when they go outside the bounds on-line

Help your children have a godly conscience

 

On Friday, we skipped the webcast video for a special Valentine Video – so today’s video is that webcast.

This video was the Opening session to the Women Living Well Conference this summer.  I know that it’s long (42 minutes) but if you can sneak in just the first 10 minutes – it will be WELL worth your time!   I guarantee you are going to get a laugh out of Karen Ehman’s opening skit and laughter is good medicine – so don’t miss this!  Following her skit – I speak for 15 minutes about marriage and motherhood and then 6 of my blogging friends join me on the couch for a 20 minute discussion.

(If you cannot see this video – click here)

Discussion Questions:

1.  When you think of the concept of our children being sponges who are soaking in what they see and hear and observe in us spiritually, how does this make you feel?  Does this cause you concern in any area? If so which one?

2. Read Philippians 4:8.  How can this verse be used as a grid to determine what guidelines your family will have about using devices in this digital age?

For extra discussion go to the forum and click on the thread that says Chapters 11 & 12.

Walk with the King,

Courtney

10 Ways to Protect Your Children On-Line

10 Ways to Protect Your Children On-Line

My computer vomited on me -

and my kids.

It was a big picture of a beautiful…naked young girl! {so unexpected and my kids were beside me!}

I shrieked in horror – quickly clicked away and held my breath – oh dear. What do I say?

So we had a little pow wow – me and the kids.

And after I was done talking with the kids about mommy’s massive mistake {face palm}, I went back to the computer.

And I felt dirty. Dirty from the image that had vomited on my children.  It came in the most unexpected place – on a media platform I have used for 4 years without any display of nudity or such fowl words.

And I thought of my little homeschool bubble and Christian blogging world I live in. And I think of my posts where I talk about modesty and people get upset and call me legalistic.  And I giggle just a bit because if you knew me in real life, you would know that I am not the measuring stick kind of girl…at all.

But after my experience on-line that day – my eyes were opened.  Maybe instead of talking about modesty, I should be addressing nakedness!

I’m afraid we live in a desensitized culture where sexting or tweeting lewd photos is cool – or even more – a multi-Billion dollar industry.

24 million websites are porn

40 million Americans are regular visitors of it – eeeek!

70% of men 18-24 visit these sites at least once a month.

2.5 billion emails A DAY have porn in them -

25% of search engine searches A DAY – that’s 68 million are porn related

The average age a child first sees porn –eleven :(

**These statistics were posted here in January of 2013.

So what does God have to say about nakedness?

In the garden – after Adam and Eve sin – the very first evidence of their corruption was their awareness of their nakedness.  And God clothed them. (Genesis 3:21)

One practical implication of this is that public nudity today is not a return to innocence but rebellion against moral reality. God ordains clothes to witness to the glory we have lost, and it is added rebellion to throw them off. ~ John Piper

And so – nakedness is rebellion.

And looking upon nakedness…rebellion.

And Satan – he’s a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. (I Peter 5:8)

Nakedness inside of marriage is purity.

And so what is pure – the enemy likes to twist and make impure outside of God’s boundaries.

But then he deceives and desensitizes and lurks and lures and he prowls…prowls on our husbands, prowls on our children and yes – he is even prowling on us!

But in a culture of shack up and break up where men and women wait longer and longer to wed –and those longings burn inside of each teen…these images are literally one click away. And I’m scared…scared for the generation coming behind me who are so used to these constant images.

These images have consequences…some images will permanently stick in our children’s minds for decades…our brains are amazing like that.

And so what do we as parents do?

10 Ways to Protect Your Children On-Line

1. Be aware. If we don’t protect them who will?  It is our job as parents to know what our children are doing and to set boundaries.  We need to monitor their video games, movies, television, apps, twitter, facebook, instagram, youtube, texting and the list goes on! This is a TALL task…I admit that already at the young age of my kids (8 and 10) I find it hard to monitor it all perfectly.  We have to be vigilant and intentional – don’t forget there is an enemy who wants us to not care or be naive –assuming our kids are fine and trustworthy.

2.  Know Your Child. Is gossip their weakness? Watch their texting. Do they have a thirst for violence? Monitor their video games.  Are they curious about the opposite sex – be on guard for porn. Are they lonely? Do not let them talk to strangers that could be predators.  Each child will have their own unique struggles that will require guidance.  That is our job – to impart knowledge and wisdom to our children – especially in their areas of weakness – don’t forget there is an enemy who wants you to not care or be naive. (Oh! I think I already said that -but I needed to say it again).

3.  Know your children’s passwords so you can check in periodically.

4.  Keep computers and i-products out of their bedrooms and in a common family area where you can oversee their activity on-line.  Have all products charge in the kitchen or a main common room – away from their bedrooms at night.

5. Ask your children to show you their favorite games and things to do on-line.  You might just learn something from them and you will get a view into their world.  Play some of their on-line games with them.  During our last family game night, we ditched the board games and played as a family – an iPad app called “Minecraft”.  The kids LOVED that we entered their world and played with them.

6.  Join Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all the places your teenagers hang out and check daily to see what your child is posting and who their friends are.  Parent them through this maze of social media.  I can’t imagine all the immature things I would have posted when I was a teenager – I am SO glad this did not exist back then.  Teach your children that what they post is permanent – words have consequences.  Have your teens study the book of Proverbs – this book of wisdom will help them navigate relationships both on and off-line in a godly manner.

7.  Warn them of dangers they would not imagine.  Some children are trusting – they would not ever think of predators who could be waiting to harm them.  Make them aware!

8. Teach them to think for themselves.  We will not always be able to oversee our children’s internet use.  As they grow older, they will begin to use the internet at their friends house or the library or on their phones when we are not around.  Train your child to have a godly conscience and a healthy fear of God – so they are convicted when they go outside the bounds on-line.

9. Pray over your children daily.

10. Prepare to be unpopular.  If you set the above boundaries be prepared for some battles.  It’s easiest to have no boundaries at all. Don’t go the easy route…*

Friends, if you are too busy to monitor your children’s use of the internet…you are too busy. Period.

Josh McDowell writes:

Pornography is the number one threat to the cause of Christ, five times greater than anything historically in the last 2,000 years. It’s the greatest threat to young people, the greatest threat to marriage, the greatest threat to family, the greatest threat to pastors, oh, the greatest threat to youth pastors—this pervasive pornography on the Internet. And most people don’t realize. It’s five times greater than anything the church has ever faced in history, and it’s destroying kids right now.

Rise up mamas! Be aware!  Do NOT let the enemy get a foothold in your house!

**Chime In: What safety measures do you take in your home?

Walk with the King,

Courtney

 

When Kool-Aid Matters & Your Legacy

When Kool-Aid Matters

6 days before the conference…we buried my wonderfully strong and Godly grandmother.

It was a shock when she passed away…even though she was 90 years old.

Her hands were gnarled from arthritis -

DSC_0407

Yet she continued to work with limitless energy in her home until the day God called her home.

Grandma lived alone up until 4 months ago, when my sister’s family went to live with her.  My sister is in the midst of building a new home and so grandma opened her arms in hospitality to her family during their temporary stay.  Actually, grandma LOVED the company – especially because my sister’s children are so musical. She enjoyed the piano and guitar music that daily entertained her and the company at the dinner table.

My sister marveled at how grandma was always on her feet and asking how she could help or standing beside her at the sink washing dishes.  Grandma was also a reader. Grandma enjoyed her Bible, Max Lucado and Elizabeth George books and also listened to sermons on CD.  At 90, she was still growing in her walk with the Lord…I love that!

Then on Friday, August 2nd…she waltzed right into the loving arms of her precious Savior – Jesus.

DSC_0669

And we wept.

Not as ones without hope – because we know that she is in heaven. But for our loss here on earth.

 

At the cemetery we had a time of sharing and I shared how I believe that much of my confidence today – to step out and do things like this blog – has come because of Grandma’s unconditional love and support.  I don’t recall that she ever spoke one critical word to me.

When I played the piano for her – even if I botched the tune – she told me how amazing I was.

When I did a somersault or cheer for her – she told me I was wonderful.

When I sang a solo in the choir – she told me I was brave.

When I played my trumpet – she clapped for me.

When I had a birthday – every single one – she was there with a gift and a hug.

When I was headed to homecoming dances – she was there with her camera taking pictures – it was like having the paparazzi following me everywhere I went.  She endlessly took photos of all my monumental moments in life…no wonder I became a blogger! lol!!!

When I went away to college, letters in the mail arrived from her –once again telling me I was brave, she was proud of me and to keep on with my studies.

Oh that support – it has truly been priceless in my life.

During grandma’s eulogy fond memories were shared.  This one stood out to me – written by her oldest of 3 sons.   He remembers that grandma always had a pitcher of Kool-Aid on hot summer days when they were playing ball in the backyard.  She showed up at just the right time with that Kool-Aid for all of his friends –and he loved that!

Kool-Aid friends.

At her funeral.

She was being praised for her Kool-Aid.

Seriously – did you know that the Kool-Aid you made for your kids this summer mattered – it’s significant.  It may be a part of your legacy!

Sometimes we think that we have to hang the moon and the stars for our kids – take them to Disney, buy them the latest and greatest styles of clothing, or cook them a steak…but could it be that the Kool-Aid you serve them is significant?

And so these are the life lessons I carry with me from my grandmother’s life.

Until the day I take my final breath –walk with the King!

Words of praise soothe and encourage the souls of children. Say them.

Be there for all the special occasions of your loved ones – cheering them on matters.

All the unseen work that we do in the home matters.  It is seen, just not always acknowledged and it is definitely appreciated in the end.

Make Kool-Aid —for real.  I don’t make it because I hate the sugar but I am reconsidering after hearing my Uncle’s memories shared.

Show up. Grandma showed up in her sons life with Kool-aid.  Grandma showed up in my life for every monumental experience and it mattered.

Make family a priority.

And pray.

 

Grandma prayed that she would not be alone when she died.  This was one of her fears living alone.  And I see the gracious hand of our God that He allowed for circumstances to bring my sister and her family into their home for just a few short months.

When she had her heart attack – she was not alone.  My sister was there tending to her, calling my mother, calling the ambulance, and laying her down in her bed.

God answered grandma’s prayers all the way to her last breath – and that my friends – makes me cry like a baby!  Because it reminds me that God never forgets his own…he is faithful to His children, answering prayers to the very end.  We must never stop praying!  God listens!

Are you a grandmother?  God isn’t finished with you yet – till the day you take your last breath — build into the life of your loved ones and walk intimately with your God.

Are you a mother of young ones?  Remember that those small things you do daily that you think no one is noticing – like stirring your pitcher of Kool-Aid – is blessing the hearts of your family.  You matter. You are significant.  You are irreplaceable.

Walk with the King,

Courtney

**Chime In: What insignificant things do you remember from your childhood that your mother may not even know touched your life deeply.  Please share them in the comment section so we all can be reminded that our day to day tasks matter and are building into the lives of our loved ones.