Quote of the Week

Quote-of-the-Week pic“Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude.” 

                                        ~A.A. Milne (Winnie the Pooh)

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Quote of the Week

Quote-of-the-Week pic“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”

                                                                                ~ John Piper

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Love Your Triumphs

Third-Thursday-ThoughtsMy friend Amy felt great after stepping off the scale. She dropped fifteen pounds

However just moments later, she saw a picture on her phone of her lying on the beach. She felt disgusted by her chubby arms and dimply thighs. She was near tears as she stared at the picture, taken by her son.

“You looked so beautiful lying there, I couldn’t help it, mom!” he exclaimed.

His comment caught her off-guard.

Her son saw a beautiful woman resting on the beach after swimming with him all day, something she did not have the energy to do fifteen pounds ago.

He focused on how far she’d come while she wallowed in how far she had to go.

She understood then, that this was a triumph to love!

Are you feeling defeated?  Today is our Third Thursday Blog Hop where other moms are sharing about their experiences in seeing life as it really is instead of how it sometimes feels.  Hop around to some of the blogs below to enjoy a few minutes of an online moms group! (If you get my posts by email you can access the Blog Hop links here.)

What about you?  Have you ever had a perceived defeat that with a tweak of perspective you could see as a triumph? 

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What My Kids Taught Me In Their “Jesus Loves Me” Sweaters

JJG_1313Today’s guest post is from Emily Wierenga. Emily is a wife and mom of two. From her home in Canada, she writes from the heart and isn’t afraid to talk about issues she’s dealt with like eating disorders, infertility, body image, and more. Last year, Emily wrote a letter on her blog to Princess Kate about body image after pregnancy. It went viral with over 6 million views.

Emily’s most recent book Atlas Girl: Finding Home In The Last Place I Thought To Look is her memoir of how her broken places led her face to face with God.  I’m giving away a copy of the book today! You’ll see how to enter below.

In June of this year she founded The Lulu Tree, a non-profit dedicated to preventing tomorrow’s orphans by equipping today’s mothers in the slum of Katwe, Uganda. All proceeds from Atlas Girl will benefit The Lulu Tree.  


They insisted on wearing their matching knitted Jesus Loves Me sweaters.

My three and four-year-old sons had been invited to a birthday party where I knew they’d be the only Christians and I’d been hunting through their wardrobe trying to find the coolest second-hand clothes we had.

But they wanted to wear their Jesus Loves Me sweaters.

I’m ashamed to admit, I tried to convince them not to. How quickly I revert to the self-conscious girl in junior-high with the braces and head gear who spent every dollar she earned on brand-name clothes hoping someone would like this awkward preacher’s kid.

And so we went to the party where toddlers walked around in Tom’s shoes and seven-year-olds sported high-tops and low-hanging pants and the other parents couldn’t stop remarking on how sweet and lovely my boys were—because they were that day. They stood out, not just because of their sweaters, but because of the hugs they gave the other kids, because of the way they waited their turn and didn’t demand, because of the way they giggled over the babies and said “Thank you” after receiving cake.

I just stood with tears in my eyes as my sons shone in the darkness.

Jesus tells us to become like children. He tells us to gain their humility, their lack of self-consciousness, their truthfulness and curiosity. He tells us to walk fearless into the world, in our knitted Jesus sweaters, not because we’re trying to make a statement, but because the sweater delights us and that’s what matters. We are to know no shame, much like Adam and Eve before eating the forbidden fruit.

I still remember standing in a gas-station parking lot; I was five years old, and people-watching as I always did. I watched the family in the car next to ours, laughing and talking and then the father noticed me staring, and gave me the finger.

I didn’t even know what the finger was, but he did it with such venom I felt the meaning. Storyteller Al Andrews talks about the moment the snake comes into our garden and steals our innocence, and while it wasn’t a seemingly huge moment, I’ll never forget the way my innocence was stolen that day. I became ashamed. I stopped openly observing the world, and began to fear people’s responses. And ultimately, this led to me starving myself at nine years old.

But the thing about regaining our freedom, our “child-likeness” in Christ is— it means no longer letting our identity be determined by this world. And this means, desiring not only for us to know Jesus—in his death, and his resurrection—but for our children to know Him too.

I was so afraid of people’s response to my children’s clothing I’d forgotten my God-given role as their mother: it was not to protect them from this world, but to lead them to the heart of their heavenly father. They will never be able to openly admit needing Jesus if I try to cushion their falls. If I try to keep them from knowing rejection or loneliness, or from being given the world’s finger.

It was through my eating disorder that I met God face to face.

If I truly want my children to know Christ, I need to step back and allow them to break.

It’s the hardest thing in the world.

Remember that mother in Matthew who brought her sons to Jesus and requested they sit next to him in the kingdom?

It’s all any of us wants, isn’t it? For our children to be recognized and praised?

But Jesus’ response was, let those who want to become great, become servants. The last shall be first.

So often we think we are teaching our children.

But that day at the birthday party, I realized how much I had to learn from them.

To become like a child is to encounter heaven on earth.


What about you? Can you think of a time that your kids taught you a lesson?  Anyone who comments on today’s post, will be entered into a drawing to win a copy of Emily’s memoir, Atlas Girl!

Posted in Faith, Parenting, Taking Care of Me | 9 Comments

Connecting With Your Teen: The Power of a Pillow Journal

478209273Dear Jill,

I’m needing wisdom in dealing with my teenage daughter. I’m going through a divorce. It saddens my heart that my soon to be ex isn’t wanting to be a dad. This is causing my daughter to struggle with her depression and the choices she’s making. This is where I’m recalling a  Hearts at Home conference where another mom shared her story about needing to reach her daughter.

I’m at a loss in how to handle being a single mom to such fragile teenager. Anything I say i push her further away from me or she just shut downs. My job is to protect her but I feel I’m failing at that, too. I’m trying to get her into counseling.  How do other moms get through this fragile stage of teenage years without having a heart attack or stroke from the added on stress?  Any words of wisdom would be appreciated.

Overwhelmed Mom


Dear Overwhelmed Mom,

I HIGHLY suggest that you make counseling a priority.  I would pursue counseling for her but also family counseling for the two of you.  This is really important because it will keep the communication lines open.

Got TeensAlso, you might start a pillow journal with your daughter.  Get a journal and then write her a letter telling her how proud you are of her and how you know that this is a hard season.  Tell her a few things about how it is hard for you and how God is growing you even in the midst of it.  Ask her a few questions like “what’s been the hardest thing for you in this season?” or “If you had to describe your feelings, what are three words that could describe them?”  Tell her to just answer when she can and put the journal on your pillow.

Then put it on her pillow when she’s at school.  It may take some time for her to respond, but it’s worth a try.  When I did this with my son it took him about 3 weeks for him to reply and then we started back and forth within a few days.  I did it with another one of my kids and they never responded.   So there’s no promises, but it’s worth a try for sure!

The best part of a pillow journal is that it keeps communication lines open without having to sit face to face or feel awkward.  It’s emotionally safe for teens to write (they are used to texting!) and is a great way to bridge the sometimes challenging teen years.



Dear Jill,

I took your advice with starting a pillow journal for my daughter. Believe or or not she read what I wrote her and responded back! You helped me come up with a way that I can know communicate to my daughter in a honest, open relationship!

Cant wait to see all of my Hearts at Home mom friends in November at the North Central Hearts at Home conference!

Overwhelmed Mom Who Now Has Hope!


What about you?  Do you have any other strategies for connecting with a teen going through a hard time? 

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My Heart’s at Home

bookmyheartsathome Today is another Focus on the Family broadcast day!  Today I’m talking with Jim Daly about how to make your home an emotionally safe place to be based upon the My Heart’s at Home book!

You can catch the broadcast on your local Christian radio station or listen online!

If you’re a Focus on the Family listener who has dropped by for the first time, please take a minute to say hello. While you’re here you can subscribe to receive my posts by email. That will also get you a FREE printable of I Corinthian’s 13 for Parents out of the No More Perfect Kids book.

Take a minute to hop over to the Hearts at Home site and the No More Perfect site where you’ll find all kinds of parenting resources including the FREE 13 Day No More Perfect Kids e-Challenge.

2014posternc Registration is open for our Hearts at Home North Central conference for moms! Fabulous speakers and practical workshops make this THE continuing education event for moms!

I’d love for you to join me in November!

Want to see a “behind the scenes” video of the broadcast conversation?  Here’s a peek:

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Quote of the Week

Quote-of-the-Week pic“Big changes always start with small decisions.”

                                          ~Justin and Trisha Davis

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Wanna join the fun?

20130317-hah0163-199x300It’s September and that means that my speaking season kicks back in gear! I love the summer months where the pace slows down, but I love to jump back into being face to face with moms in the trenches.

I have a Chicagoland speaking tour coming up that launches my fall speaking. (See dates and places below!)

I’m excited for several reasons:

1) I LOVE hanging with moms! Speaking to different moms literally all over the world is one of the most enjoyable things I get to do!

2) Mark’s coming with me! We’re emptynesters now so Mark is taking the week off work and traveling with me! This is the first time in 30 years that we haven’t had a kid at home!

3) We get to see our son! Our youngest is attending college at Moody Bible Institute which is in downtown Chicago, so we get to catch some time with him while we’re in the area!

4) I LOVE sharing the No More Perfect Moms and No More Perfect Kids messages. I believe they are game changers for many of us!

5) The week ends with a full day parenting seminar. The Chicagoland week is filled with speaking to moms, but it ends with an all day parenting seminar for both MOMS and DADS that I’m doing with Dr. Kathy Koch on No More Perfect Kids!

6) You’re invited to join in the fun!  If you live nearby, or if you and your spouse decide to make a road trip to join us at the “No More Perfect Parents” seminar on Sat, September 27, you can take some times to get your parenting batteries recharged!

7) Later this fall, I’ll be in Eau Claire, WI, Rochester, MN, Indianapolis, IN, and East Springfield, PA.  You can find details here on my website.  (If you have a moms event, women’s retreat, or parenting event you’re looking for a speaker for, you can find videos, speaking topics, and request me as a speaker here on my website!)

Wanna join the fun?  Here are the details for the Chicagoland events:

Tuesday, September 23
Hales Corner, Wisconsin

9:15 – 11:15 AM
Moms on a Mission
Hales Corner Lutheran Church
12300 Janesville Rd, Hales Corner, WI

Wednesday, September 24
Oak Brook, IL
9:15 – 11:15 AM
Christ Church of Oak Brook
501 Oak Brook Rd, Oak Brook, IL

Thursday, September 25
Clarendon Hills, IL
9:00 – 11:00 AM
Christian Church of Clarendon Hills
5750 Holmes Ave, Clarendon Hills, IL

Friday, September 26
Clarendon Hills, IL
9:00 – 11:00 AM
Christian Church of Clarendon Hills
5750 Holmes Ave, Clarendon Hills, IL

Friday, September 26
Chicago, IL
7:00 – 9:00 PM
Park Community Church
1001 N. Crosby, Chicago, IL

Saturday, September 27
Barrington, IL
9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
No More Perfect Parents Seminar
Lutheran Church of Atonement
909 E. Main St, Barrington, IL

Are you going to be at any of the events above?  I’d love to hang with you if you can make any of them! 

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Quote of the Week

Quote-of-the-Week pic “There will be so many times you feel like you’v failed, but in the eyes, heart and mind of a child you are super mom.”

~Stephanie Precourt

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Got Some Regrets You’d Like God to Redeem?

jerushaclark Today’s guest post is from Jerusha Clark.  Jerusha is a speaker at our 2014 Hearts at Home conferences including the upcoming North Central Hearts at Home Conference November 7-8!

She’s the bestselling author or co-author of ten books, including Every Thought CaptiveThe Life You Crave,When I Get MarriedInside a Cutter’s Mind, and Living Beyond Postpartum Depression. With her husband, Jeramy, a discipleship pastor in San Diego, California, Jerusha thoroughly loves raising their two daughters. You can find her online at www.jerushaclark.com


When my daughters were little, they got a play kitchen from Grammy and Papa.  This was no run-of-the-mill toy; it was a Disney-licensed Cinderella kitchen, complete with all the bibbity-bobbity-boo $79.99 can buy.

My girls created magical masterpieces with a plastic hot dog, some indistinguishable vegetable matter, and a chocolate-dipped ice cream bar.  Of course, they wanted me to join in, especially while flipping pretend pancakes.

I really did want to play, but I was so tired sometimes.  I was trying to homeschool and feeling inadequate.  I was under deadline and didn’t know how to be a working mom.  All the while, those nefarious dishes piled up.

When the girls started full-time school and I was alone more often, an unexpected weight of regret slowly descended on me.  I couldn’t shake this thought: I didn’t play pancakes with them as often as I should have.  The accusing thoughts didn’t stop there, however, nor were they limited to my role as a mom.  “Not good enough” bounced around in my mind like a pinball, lighting up every brain cell with regret.  “What if…” and “If only…,” the greatest anxiety-producing phrases in my vocabulary, gnawed at my heart.

I’m betting I’m not the only mommy who has experienced regret.  Wounds of the past, choices we’ve made, fears about the future: they can eat us alive.

The Bible speaks of regret often, but God began to heal me with the words of one particular verse.  Joel 2:25a proclaims, “I will restore to you the years 
that the swarming locust has eaten…the destroyer, and the cutter.”

I didn’t know much about locusts, so I did a little digging.  Did you know the Bible mentions locusts roughly 50 times? Swarms of locusts were the most dreaded natural disaster in the biblical world and remain one of the most devastating calamities today. When swarming, locusts can number in the millions, devouring all in their path and leaving in their wake a land stripped of life.

Destructive forces, like “locusts,” come into our lives in three ways:

  • Uncontrollable circumstances devastate us (accidents, the death of loved ones, loss of a job, etc.).
  • The sins of others ravage us.
  • We act as “locusts” in our own lives.

In whatever manner “locusts” come, desolation follows. But the story doesn’t have to end there.  God offers us freedom from, and redemption for, the years of our pain and regret.

Shalam, translated “restore” in Joel 2:25, is a verb related to the better-known Hebrew word for peace, shalom. This term connotes more than a lack of stress or trouble.  Shalam speaks of wholeness and enduring peace now and forever.  What mommy doesn’t long for this?

As I continued to dig, I found an article that connected John the Baptist with Joel 2:25.  The Gospels record that John lived in the desert, eating locusts and honey (to which I thought, thank you very much, I’ll pass).

I always assumed that eating such a sparse diet proved John’s heart was fixed on heavenly, rather than earthly things.  This author, however, suggested that, as the forerunner of the Messiah, John revealed that, through Jesus, the one that devours will be devoured.  In Christ, whatever has destroyed your life and pierced you with regret cannot devastate you forever.  Through Jesus, the years that the locusts have eaten canindeed will—be restored.

Christ promises this, laid down His life to secure it, and extends the invitation of peace and redemption to all.  We have a role to play as well.  To partner with God in His work of redemption, follow the four “Rs”:

  • Repent: not just “saying sorry,” but walking in the opposite direction of whatever is devouring your life.
  • Revoke: breaking the power of the “locusts” in your life by praying about every specific regret, asking Him to take control of the situation, memory, and future consequences.
  • Replace: Actively replace regrets and lies with God’s truth. Be specific!  Don’t try to convince yourself “God loves me” or “God forgives me.”  Find and memorize biblical truths —not just one—as proof (if you need help, use Bible resource tools like concordances, indexes, and compiled lists).
  • Rejoice!  Not surprisingly, this is my favorite part.  Joel 2:26 describes the outcome of redemption so magnificently: “You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
and praise the name of the Lord your God,
who has dealt wondrously with you.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.”

What a marvelous God we serve.  All you mommies out there: whatever the locusts have eaten, God will restore. You will never again be put to shame.  That, my friends, is very good news!

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