Super Moms: The Power of a Compliment

It was a Monday, and I’ll be honest: I’m not a big Monday fan. It seems like right as we’re getting used to the whole weekend thing, Monday comes along and ruins it. But, I digress. This particular Monday was not unlike most others: a crazy scramble in the morning to get the big kids off to school, leaving me surrounded with the remnants of a busy weekend (loads of laundry and dishes and a floor begging to be cleaned).

As my husband headed out the door, he mentioned that it would be the perfect morning to take our little guy for a walk. I nodded and smiled as he left, but had no intentions of actually going. There was too much to do. But as I closed the door behind him and felt the cool breeze that meant fall would be here soon, I decided to try and make time for it.

What really changed my mind was the thought of how much my son would love it. He lives for playing outside, and I could just see the smile on his face when I mentioned the word “walk”.

True to form, my toddler grinned and sprinted for his shoes when I told him our plans. We loaded up in the stroller and were on our way. The breeze was blowing and as he snuggled in his blanket, we scooted out of the way of a couple obviously enjoying their morning stroll.

The wife, a sweet woman who reminded me of my own grandma, leaned down and smiled into the stroller. As my son waved hello to her, she told him, “What a good mom you have to take you for a walk this morning…” Then we exchanged a few pleasantries and headed our separate ways.

But as we walked away, I noticed a little pep in my step. My shoulders were a little straighter and I couldn’t stop smiling. “A good mom” she had said. Me? It seemed like such a little thing, but as we rounded the corner for home, I actually started to believe it.

Today, I encourage you to use the power of your words to bless someone — to lift them up. You’ll never know how much a little compliment can do for someone’s day.

4 ways to LOVE: others

As we journey into the last week of our month of LOVE, I wanted to share one more area where we can offer kindness and compassion — not only just to our family and friends (and ourselves!), but also to the rest of the world. Here are a few quick thoughts on ways we can LOVE others:

Let it go – Lately I’ve been reminded that everyone makes mistakes. Everyone. Not because we want to or we’re trying to make things hard for others,  but because we’re human. So I want to encourage you today to look for ways to let it go — and not let your anger and frustration over things that go wrong ruin your day (like the customer service rep trying to help you figure out why your internet keeps going out or the guy handling your order in the fast food line gets it all mixed up and your three year old refuses to eat his burger because it has these weird things (aka pickles!) on it)…oftentimes, they have a lot going on too and sometimes they aren’t even the ones at fault. Try to picture yourself in their shoes — and respond with compassion instead of anger!

Open your eyes – During the day, we are likely confronted with countless opportunities to help others…from holding the door open for a lady who has her arm full of packages to smiling at the busy mom who is pushing around her crowded cart in the grocery store. I know we are all busy and distracted, but I am going to try to be more open and aware of opportunities to lend assistance.

Volunteer your skills – I’ll be the first to admit that it is hard to find time right now in my life to volunteer. I am on a minute-by-minute schedule these days, and trying to squeeze in one more thing (even though it is important) is hard to do. I have been blessed to be a part of an organization called Wipe Out Kids’ Cancer by photographing certain events for them. Since it is photography, I feel confident that I will do a proper job for them and I really enjoy being able to capture those special moments for these families. Find something that you enjoy doing and you feel confident in, and that will take out two more excuses for getting involved!

Enlist your family – Again, it is hard to find time to volunteer, but if you find some events that you can do as a family, you will all benefit. I’ve noticed an organization in Dallas called Wee Volunteer that offers several projects that are geared specifically towards children to help out on.  This would be a great way to be a blessing to others and develop a heart of servitude and compassion in our family at the same time!

004A recent WOKC event…thankful to help, even if it is in a small way…

 

 

slow down: never give up

When things are going wrong or I’m starting a new project, I can easily slip into the feeling that “everything’s ruined” or “this will never, ever get finished”…This year, I want to work on a more positive mentality…

My daughter started playing volleyball in first grade, and I have to admit that I was doubtful that those young girls could even get the ball over the net. But they did. Now, they’ve been playing together for over a year, and I am stunned at their progress. Here are a few things I’ve learned from them:

– Expect it to be hard when you first start out…for our little volleyball team, it was a challenge to get the ball over the net. In fact, when there would be a volley back and forth during a game, the crowd would leap to their feet in excitement. Every little part of volleyball was hard at first — and that’s okay. When you are starting something new, expect it to be challenging. Expect it to be a lot of work. Set your expectations appropriately.

– Realize that you are going to have set backs, even when things are going great…even once the girls started to click, they would have an off day. Sometimes, a team they beat in the past beat them the next week. In life, it’s not all smooth sailing, but that doesn’t mean that you’ve lost. It just means you pick yourself back up and get ready to try again.

– Always keep improving…now that the girls are getting pretty good at their underhand serves, they have started trying (just a little bit!) to do overhand serves. On game day, they see the older girls on the other courts who hit the ball powerfully with a smooth overhand serve. And that’s what they want to do. So as they continue to strengthen the areas that they have already become consistent at, they have also looked for ways to better themselves.

These lessons from the volleyball team can easily be applied to our lives and encourage us to never give up — on our goals and on improving ourselves every day!

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Winning first place at their last tournament!

slow down: welcome change

For most of my life, I have been resistant to change — you might even say afraid of it…but (finally!) I am learning that change is a part of life. And it can be a really good part of life.

Change is not always bad or scary or hard — sometimes it is very necessary…(for example, changing habits to be more healthy or positive). This year, I want to welcome change — for the little things and the bigs things. Some ideas I have are:

  • try new types of food as a family (we are typically pizza and pasta-type eaters, so we are going to branch out a little this year!)
  • try a new “getting ready” routine in the morning (more on this later!)
  • try a new style for my hair (uh-oh!)
  • change our Sunday routine to really make it renewing and inspiring for our family

Essentially, I want us to work on getting out of our rut and to be open to new things. And I know that we won’t always love these changes — but at least we will have a broader range of experiences to draw from. And who knows? Maybe we’ll discover something awesome that we would never have known about if we didn’t welcome change into our lives…

We eat a lot of plain cheese pizza — it’s time to mix things up a little bit!

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slow down: overcome weaknesses

 

In 2013, I want to tackle some weaknesses that I have let go for too long. These include small things (like keeping my car clean — for a while now, I’ve declared that it is impossible with three small kids, but enough is enough!) as well as big things (like conquering all the fears and worries that go along with my self-diagnosed OCD). I am ready to make changes, and I know that they will be hard but I know that they will be worth it.

Are there any weaknesses you want to overcome this year? Let me know, and I will pray for you!

 

Does this image of my front seat horrify you a little?

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slow down: dream big

As I have shared with many of you before, when my daughter started a reading program this year called AR, it threw us for a little loop. In this program, the students have to take tests on each book that they read to earn points. They each have a goal of a certain number of points and are encouraged to meet (and even double!) this goal. Well, at the beginning of the year, my daughter had a hard time meeting her goal — because she was afraid to miss a question. She didn’t want to take any tests, and so wasn’t on track to reach her goal. Why didn’t she want to take the tests — was it because she was being stubborn or lazy or rebellious? No, she was simply afraid to miss a question. She was afraid to try because she was afraid to fail.

As frustrating as that was for me as a mom, I can so clearly see that same fear in myself. (God seems to be showing me a lot of my shortcomings through the struggles of my children this year!) I am afraid to dream big because I am afraid to fall flat on my face. I am afraid to tell people about my books because I am afraid they will hate them — and then hate me!

Well, just like my daughter, who proudly came home the other day to tell me that she had taken a lot of tests but had missed 4 questions — I am going to go for it! I am going to dream my wildest dreams and put all my effort into making them happen. And if I make some missteps along the way, then that’s okay. Because the only way I can truly fail is in not trying at all — in not daring to dream!

This year, I want to encourage you to give life to your dreams! Even if you can’t pursue them completely, don’t be afraid to hold onto them — and to bring them to fruition with small steps along the way…

slow down: worry less

Worrying is one of those character flaws that I just can’t seem to overcome, but I am really working on it this year…worry is hard on your health and your attitude — it just isn’t productive at all!

What’s my strategy? Well, I call it the LAP plan — with any worry that pops up, I will either:

Let it go — this is a challenge for me, but so many of the little worries that pop into my mind just need to be dismissed.

Address it — if the worry isn’t something I can just let go, I will address it. For example, I was worried that I hadn’t heard from a close friend in a while, and instead of just worrying about it, I picked up the phone and gave her a call. Sounds simple enough, but sometimes I forget that I have the power to reach out and tackle my problems instead of just mulling over them.

Pray about it — of course, there are some issues that I can neither let go of nor address…some must be simply handed over to Someone else…and I find often that when I do that, I not only feel peace, but the problem itself works out in a way even better than I could have imagined.

Question for you: how do you handle worry?

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My goals this year: smiling, happy, preferably at the beach 🙂

slow down: own it

This year, I am really going to work on “owning it” — this is, being confident in who I am as a woman, as a mom, and as a writer. When people ask me what I do, I usually look down and mumble something about trying to write a little here and there. But from now on, I am going to smile and say, “I am a writer.” (Wow, that is even a little hard to type.) But it is true — it has been my dream for as long as I can remember, and I am so happy and thankful to be pursuing it now — I AM A WRITER! (Yay!)

I am also going to be confident in my role as a mom — that doesn’t mean that I won’t listen to others or consider their advice, but I won’t put so much pressure on myself to conform to others’ ideals of what I should do. I will do what is best for me and my family, unapologetically (well, most likely I will still be apologetic, but you get the point!).

And I will be confident in myself as a woman — for me, that means exercising daily to feel like I am physically in good shape and taking the time in the mornings to change into an actual outfit (okay, some days I will still wear comfy sweats, but most days, I want to put some extra effort into my appearance)…

As I look forward to 2013, I am excited to walk into this new year confidently — not because I feel like I am perfect but because I have finally accepted that I am not perfect. And that’s okay!

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These are my new red pants — they inspire me to “own it” today!

 

slow down: live

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One of my other goals this year is simply to live…and by this I mean, to try and live my life to the fullest. This will involve big things, like organizing a charity event for a cause close to my heart and running in a 15k with my husband – as well as small things, like wearing a dress on a Monday just because or using that pretty journal that I’ve been saving for a really special occasion because I am realizing that every day is a special occasion. I want to challenge myself to live my life in a way that brings me joy, stretches me, and blesses others…more than I thought possible!

To do this, I have added an “enjoy the day” spot on my daily checklist, as a reminder to do something small every single day that brings a smile to my face – or to someone else’s. And I’ve had a “planning session” with the hubby to talk about our big goals for this year (he really loves those planning sessions, let me tell you!).

What about you – how will you really live in 2013?

slow down: stop the insanity

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Happy New Year, everyone!  As we head into 2013, I’ve been thinking a lot about the goals I want to set for myself and for my family. I tried to think of one word (or a few words) that would sum up my plans for the year, but (God help me!), I can never make things that simple.  So I wanted to invite you to take a look at my goals (abundant though they may be) with that hopes that they will encourage you, inspire you — and at the very least, make you feel good about yourself because there is no way you need anywhere near as much improvement as me!

So, let’s get started. This year, I’ve chosen the acronym SLOW DOWN as my 2013 motto.

Today, we’re tackling S — and for my family, that stands for Stop the Insanity. Albert Einstein once said it something like this: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

If I’m being honest, I’ll admit that we are very guilty of this in some areas of our lives. For example, bedtime at our home is still a challenging event. We have 2 out of the 3 good to go, but it’s that third kiddo that is still proving difficult. To our credit, my husband and I have been brainstorming strategies and methods, and one day very soon (this month for sure!), we are going to put them into action.

Overall, I want to be open and aware to the things in my life that aren’t working — and instead of just doing them over and over again and hoping they will somehow fix themselves, I want to quickly identify the need for change. And then do something about it.

Question: Is there anything in your life that you keep hoping will fix itself on its own? Are you making the same mistake over and over?