Quote of the Week

Quote-of-the-Week pic“Marriage is not a noun, it’s a verb. It isn’t something you get, it’s something you do. It’s the way you love your partner every day.”                                                                                                                                                                   ~Barbara De Angelis

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Praying God’s Word For Your Kids

NMPK Cover with Chapman nameThere’s nothing more powerful than praying God’s word for your kids.  Dr. Kathy Koch and I have dozens of scriptures in the back of the No More Perfect Kids book to guide you in praying for your kids.

I’ve pulled a few of the verses to share here today. Take a few minutes as you read this post to insert your child’s name in each verse. This way you can turn your blog reading into a prayer today!

“Let ___________________ not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time he/she will reap a harvest if he/she does not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

“May __________________ be strong and courageous! May he/she not be afraid. For you God will personally go ahead of ___________________.  You will not fail him/her nor abandon him/her.  (Deuteronomy 31:6)

“May ___________________ be a peacemaker who plants seeds of peace and reaps a harvest of righteousness. (James 3:18)

“Let ___________________ stand firm in all the will of God as he/she matures.” (Colossians 4:12)

“May __________________ clothe himself/herself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” (Colossians 3:12)

For Prodigal Child:

“Lord, give _______________ a new heart and put a new spirit in him/her. Remove ______________ ‘s heart of stone and give him/her a heart of flesh. (Ezekial 36:26)

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The Secret Good Ninja

10681704_10152762921909190_1536981817_nToday’s guest post is from mom of four, Ruby Reveles.  Ruby serves as a G0-To Girl for Hearts at Home which means she tells every mom she knows about Hearts at Home and the Hearts at Home conferences! (By the way, tomorrow is the Best Value Registration deadline for the upcoming North Central Conference!)

Recently I had coffee with our Chicago area Go-To Girls and Ruby shared her story of the Secret Good Ninja. We were all inspired by her parenting creativity and I told her that I wanted to share it on the blog!

If you are dealing with a tough situation with one of your kids, consider this creative way to turn it around!  This is No More Perfect Kids in action!


459589341Last fall, my son had a rough start to the school year. I have a houseful of boys and have gotten more than my share of calls from the school, so trust me when I say that it was rough. The thing is… this isn’t a rough kid.

He is bright, thoughtful, eager to please and a quick learner. He is compassionate and self-sacrificing. He is devastated by getting into trouble, but this boy was suddenly in a lot of trouble.

It started the first week of school with a teacher who was brand new, and also eager to please her new employer. My son broke a pencil in class (because he was “bored” he said) so she “flipped his card” to Yellow. A couple days later, songs from music class were stuck in his head, so his card was flipped for singing to himself during quiet time. Then it was flipped because he jumped from step to step, instead of walking down the stairs. With each message from the school, I saw more dramatic changes in his personality at home. He became tearful and angry. He argued quickly and was defensive about everything. He fought with his brothers often and became physically aggressive with them. When we gave consequences or tried to talk with him, he adopted a hardened attitude, complete with the chin thrust out and arms crossed, eyes rolling and glazed.

My son had already learned that the new teacher thought he was a troublemaker, and he was living up to those expectations. I begged the teacher to intervene in ways that wouldn’t “label” my child. These weren’t transgressions that were malicious. He didn’t deserve to be labeled a “troublemaker” because he was bored. Flipping his card devastated him. He needed so much more than the dismissive consequences she gave.

By the third week of the school year, his card was getting flipped for things that finally deserved consequences, like physical aggression and insulting others. I again met with the teacher and I believe that she really cared about my son. She was just following the structured behavior program as advised, and trying to please her supervisors. She understood the desire to please, and met with my son to encourage him. She agreed to tailor her responses to his individual needs, and offer more positive reinforcement.

That wasn’t enough though. My son needed his own plan of action. That weekend, I talked for a long time with my son. I listened to his heart breaking and saw his desire to be seen as good. He wanted to not just be good, but to be known as good. I saw the guilt and shame he carried with him constantly. I heard the pain of knowing people were watching him, expecting him to make mistakes, but not wanting that kind of attention ever again. His intentions were rarely to hurt others, except when he was so hurt and angry it seemed he didn’t know how to control those emotions anymore. My reassurances of love weren’t enough to carry him through the long school day, when he believed that everyone around him saw him as “bad.” My son was desperate for a fresh start, free from the labels that were being placed on him.

Then a lightbulb went on for me and I decided to lead my son through this from a completely different angle. Together, my son and I developed a plan. We focused on what motivates him and how he enjoys helping others. Random acts of kindness could remind him that he is making good choices. His spirit was so broken though, that he even had difficulty seeing where others needed help. His goal for the first week was so basic… just two acts of kindness a day. Simple things. Acting on any opportunity he saw. I think one of the first was picking up someone’s pencil and putting it on their desk before they realized it had rolled away. The key for him was doing something kind without anyone seeing him do it. Only he knew. But he knew he had made a right choice, and it gave him the power to help another person later in the day.

My son’s goal became being quiet and covert, hidden from view of everyone, but making good choices. He had a purpose. Seeing this as his “Secret Mission” affirmed him and gave him an identity… an identity that contradicted the label he’d been wearing. He would be Good. He could move like a Ninja, stealthily and without detection. Together we decided he would become “The Secret Good Ninja.”

Part of the plan required daily reports on his mission. My young ninja would pull me aside secretly every night to tell me who he had helped and how. His eyes would light up as he told me what he had done, and how fun it was to do it secretly, and the thrills of someone almost catching him in the act!

The teacher was his only “ally” at school… the only one who knew of his Secret Mission. We devised a code between the three of us where he could report in on his daily planner, and she could reward his efforts with stars or stickers. At home, we believed every day without a problem at the school was a victory, and we cheered him on! I encouraged him by suggesting ideas for new missions he could seek out the next day. After a week of success, he earned a reward: dinner out alone with Dad. After all, secret spies only meet the “boss” when they are moving up in the company!

We made his Secret Mission as fun as we could. We encouraged. We continually reminded our son that God created him, and that he truly is Good. He slipped a time or two, but as he played this role, his secret identity grew stronger within him. He became more confident. Gradually, it became okay for others to see his actions and good deeds, because he was more comfortable with who he was again. Soon his role of “The Secret Good Ninja” didn’t need to be “Secret” anymore, and then he forgot the “Ninja” role… until he was just “Good”.

After all, that was only title that he really wanted in the first place.

What about you? Have you ever helped your child turn around a bad situation in some creative way? 

Posted in Parenting | 6 Comments

Quote of the Week

Quote-of-the-Week pic“Life is lived forward, but understood backward. It is not until we are down the road and we stand on the mountain looking back through the valley that we can appreciate the terrain God has allowed us to scale.”


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The Power of Purpose

Third-Thursday-ThoughtsI remember the day well.

I’d just found out I was pregnant with our third baby.

I’d been a stay-at-home mom for five years but the plan was for me to use my music education degree as soon as child number 2 entered school. That was just a couple of years away and I was beginning to anticipate the classroom that awaited me!

When the stick turned blue, I realized it would likely be another six or more years before I’d be able to pursue teaching again.

“God, when can I use my degree?  When can I actually be in a classroom?  That’s all I’ve dreamed of for years!”

It was a cry.

A lament.

Okay, I admit it. I was whining.

But God responded to my whine. The response wasn’t an audible voice, but rather a knowing in my heart of God’s answer to my question.

Jill, I want you consider what you do everyday as a mom as your profession. You are using your degree. You’re just applying it to a different job. 

Motherhood as my profession?  I’d never once considered that.

That moment was a turning point for me. I had a fresh vision, a new understanding, and a renewed resolve.

From that day forward, I experienced the power of purpose.

Every day I got up with an excitement to lead my kids intentionally. Not just “take care of them” but invest in them purposefully. I yearned to learn more about being an intentional mom. I read books, started a moms group, and eventually started Hearts at Home, an organization that have been providing continuing education for moms for over 20 years!

bookprofmotherhoodThe vision of motherhood being a valid profession became so strong for me and for the Hearts at Home ministry that our first book was called Professionalizing Motherhood.

When you and I have a sense of purpose, we become more intentional in everything we do.

And that’s the power of purpose!

Today other moms are sharing about “loving your purpose” in our Third Thursday Blog Hop! Find inspiration and a clearer sense of your purpose by “hopping” around to our Hearts at Home Bloggers!  (If you get my posts by email, you can find the links to the Blog Hop posts here!)

What about you? How have you experienced the power of purpose in your life? 

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It’s a Facebook Party!

Love Your Life 2014 NCWhat do Dr. Kathy Koch, Sally Baucke, Crystal Paine, Dr. Todd Cartmell, Julie Barnhill, Linda Dillow, Kendra Smiley, Dr. Juli Slattery, and Angela Thomas all have in common?

They (and many others!) are all going to be speaking at the November 7-8, Hearts at Home conference in Rochester, MN and you don’t want to miss it!

buttonregisterBest Value Registration ends next Wednesday, Oct 22, so now is the time to register! (Do you know of a mom who needs to know about this? Pass it on to her please!)

Here are just a few of the workshops you’ll find at the conference:

  • Keep The Siblings, Lose The Rivalry
  • Raising Flexible Kids
  • The Strong-Willed Wife
  • Intentional Parenting
  • No More Perfect Kids
  • How To Turn Your Marriage Into The One You’ve Always Wanted
  • Winning The Battle In Your Mind
  • Calm My Anxious Heart
  • How To Cut Your Grocery Bill In Half
  • Recipe For A Positive Attitude

…and many more!

downloadIn preparation for the upcoming conference, Hearts at Home is hosting a Facebook party tomorrow night (Thursday, Oct 16, 8-9pm CST) and Dr. Kathy Koch and I will be joining the fun! It’s free, filled with giveaways, and you can sign up online!  Best of all, you can join the fun in your jammies!

If you went to the National Hearts at Home conference, what were your favorite parts of the conference?  If you are signed up to go to the North Central conference, what are you most looking forward to? 

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Is There Really Sex After Kids?

187912688Sex…I could go the rest of my life without it!” I said to my husband, Mark, as we drove up to the bed-and-breakfast we had reserved for a two-day getaway. “I have no desire. I’m so tired, and I can’t seem to ever meet your needs!” After spending the past four years either pregnant or nursing, I couldn’t even remember what it was like to be a lover. Read more…

Today’s Marriage Monday is over on the Focus on the Family”s Thriving Family site. If you’re having trouble moving from making meatloaf to making love, click over and find encouragement! Then hop back over here and join the discussion! 

By the way, I wrote an entire book on this subject. It’s now out of print but you can still find it on used book sites!

What about you? What has helped you move sex from a task to a treat? 

Posted in Marriage | 1 Comment

Quote of the Week

Quote-of-the-Week pic“You may not be in an ideal situation, but you have an ideal God!”

                                                                             ~Dr. Tony Evans

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todd cartmellToday’s guest post is from Dr. Todd Cartmell, a speaker at our upcoming 2014 Hearts at Home North Central Conference!  

buttonregisterYou don’t want to miss Dr. Cartmell, Dr. Kathy Koch, Crystal Paine (aka Money Saving Mom) Angela Thomas, and dozens of other incredible speakers who are coming together in Rochester, MN, November 7-8!

If you live in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, and even Nebraska and parts of Canada, this conference is perfect for you! Grab some girlfriends, your sister or sister-in-law and make a girl’s getaway weekend of it!

Back to Dr.Todd….He’s a full-time child psychologist in Wheaton, Illinois and the author of several parenting books, including Raising Flexible Kids (ebook); Project DadRespectful Kids; and Keep the Siblings, Lose the Rivalry.

Most importantly, Todd and his wife, Lora, have two children and live in Geneva, Illinois. You can read Dr. Todd’s parenting blog at www.drtodd.net.


This blog could just as easily be titled, “I hate this game!”


Because these are the things kids say when they struggle with what has come to be referred to as being a “good sport.”  In other words, they would love any game if they always won.

Not likely to happen.

Most kids struggle with being a good sport at least a time or two at some point in their lives, but are generally able to put their losses into perspective and realize that no one wins them all.  Some kids, however, find losing a game (any kind of game) to be a major stumbling block and can become quite unfriendly, and even downright disrespectful, when they realize that they have come up short on the scoreboard.

If you are a parent of that child, this blog is for you.

The key ingredient that is missing for the “poor sport,” is flexible thinking.  This is the ability to look at the situation in a flexible way that immediately puts it into a healthy and balanced perspective.  This keeps a person’s emotions in the right zone, which helps their response be friendly and respectful.  Instead, our “poor sport” is momentarily taken hostage by mad thinking, as illustrated below:

SITUATION:  Johnny loses a game of checkers.

MAD THOUGHTS:  I hate this game.  I always lose.  He (whoever just won) cheated! 


BEHAVIOR:  Sulks, argues, refuses to help clean up, throws game pieces, does not congratulate the winner.

RESULT:  Could earn a negative consequence and is not likely to be asked to play checkers again any time soon.

It is easy to see how mad thinking, and the behavior that follows, can impact not only home relationships, but relationships in school and extra-curricular activities as well.

If this sounds all too familiar, the solution is to help your child learn to be flexible in these situations.  One simple step that will get you moving in the right direction is to make a short list of “flexible thoughts” for your child to memorize.  You can customize the flexible thoughts for situations that involve games, sports, or any type of activity where your child could “lose.”  For example, your list could include:

  • It’s no big deal
  • I tried my best.
  • No one wins all the time.
  • Maybe we will win next time.
  • You win some, you lose some.
  • Even though I lost, it was still fun.
  • Maybe I should practice more.
  • I should say, “Good game.”

Sit down with your child and, depending on his or her age, choose 3-5 of these “Good Sport Flexible Thoughts” and write them down on a piece of paper.  Feel free to change the wording or come up with your own.  Once you have your list, say them together several times until your child has them memorized.

Love Your Life 2014 NCThen, when your child is about to begin a game or sporting event, gently remind her to have fun, do her best, and to use her flexible thoughts if she (or her team) loses.  Quickly review a couple of her favorite flexible thoughts to make sure they are fresh in her mind.

As your child begins to use her flexible thoughts during games, sports, and other activities, she will find it easier to respond in a gracious and friendly way when she happens to lose.  This in turn, will have a positive effect on her friendships and she will feel proud of herself for learning how to handle these situations that used to give her a run for her money.

She will be experiencing something that I tell kids in my office on a regular basis:  Flexible thinking makes your fun go up!

Here are the steps again:

1)  Make a list of flexible thoughts with your child.

2)  Help your child memorize them.

3)  Remind your child “on-the-spot” to use them.

Then, watch what happens!

What about you? What strategies have you used to help your kids learn to be good sports?  Join the discussion here

Posted in Parenting | 2 Comments

Five Steps To Hear The Heart of Your Spouse

460762889 (1)In August, I attended the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit and heard an excellent session by Joseph Grenny, one of the authors of Crucial Conversations.

While the session had wonderful takeaways for leadership conversations, I couldn’t help thinking that it had incredible implications for marriage conversations.  Because of that, Mark and I are getting ready to go through the book together with a marriage lens.

As we look at some of the communication patterns that put us in a marriage crisis several years ago, our listening skills were one place that needed a major overhaul. Our counselor helped us to see how we were not hearing one another.

We found we were listening to defend rather than listening to understand.  This resulted in not hearing one another’s heart.

It’s a common challenge for couples. Just this week I got a note from a mom who said that her husband is a pastor who doesn’t know how to say no.  She said that she has talked to him about how she feels like a single mom but he doesn’t think it’s that big of a problem.

She’s talking but he’s not listening.

Need to get serious about hearing the heart of your spouse? Here are five steps to better listening:

1) Listen to learn.  Rather than preparing your rebuttal, ask more questions to gain an understanding of his or her struggles, emotions, and thoughts.  You might respond with “Keep talking…” or “And…..?” or “Tell me more.”

2) Mirror back. Instead of arguing or disagreeing, simply mirror back the words he or she has spoken.  You might start with “What I hear you saying is….”  It doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree, it just matters that you let your spouse know you have heard him or her. Make sure you are being a safe person for your spouse to share with. Safe people don’t defend, they listen to hear.

3) Take time. If your spouse communicates something to you, hear him or her out and consider waiting for 24 hours to respond with your own thoughts.  You might respond with, “Thank you for sharing that with me. Let me think on that and pray about it and I’ll let you know my thoughts tomorrow.

4) Resist the urge to protect yourself. We protect to save face, avoid embarrassment, win the argument, to be right, and even to punish others. None of these are Christ-like responses and they will not move your marriage forward.  Both Mark and I had become experts at protecting ourselves and our interests and in doing so we weren’t helping each other or our marriage.

5) Respond with empathy, compassion, and humility. If you did something wrong, apologize and ask for forgiveness.  If your spouse is communicating a concern about your relationship, don’t disregard their perspective even if you don’t see it.  Keep asking questions to understand. In the Crucial Conversations book this is called contributing to “the pool of shared meaning.”  The goal is to keep the dialogue flowing into the pool of shared meaning until you understand each other’s perspectives and can come to way to resolve whatever you’re talking about.

What about you? Regardless of how your spouse does or does not listen, what changes do you need to make? Do you need to be a safer person for your spouse to talk with? Need to be more empathetic? Do you need to stop protecting?

Today is a great day to start hearing the heart of your spouse.

Posted in Marriage | 4 Comments