Acknowledge, Appreciate, Repeat with the Acknowledgement Jar

Acknowledge, Appreciate, Repeat with the Acknowledgement Jar

acknowledgement jar

I feel like I’m running in circles and accomplishing nothing!

As a newlywed, 23-year-old first year grad student, I found myself constantly repeating this refrain.

I was working a part-time job, getting my toes wet in ministry at my new church, and sharing a vehicle with my husband who just started his first full-time job.

Add household chores and trying to make new friends to the list, and I was one busy lady.

Do you know the feeling?

Always doing and going and then you close your eyes at the end of the day and think, “Surely I accomplished something…” Then as you lay there you discover your primary accomplishment was making it out alive!

I certainly felt that way. And I still do sometimes.

The acknowledgement jar

Which is why I created an Acknowledgement Jar.

It’s a repurposed vase, which I sat on my desk next to a stack of notecards and a pen.

At the end of each day, I challenge myself to think of at least two accomplishments for that day and write each one on a notecard, fold the cards into squares, and drop them in the jar.

These can be small victories, like completing my daily workout or avoiding late fees at the library.

Other times I write down bigger accomplishments, like landing an internship or earning a bonus.

Some days my only accomplishment is just making it through the day. And you know what? That’s okay!

The longer I’ve done this, the more accomplishments I am able to think of. I even have moments now where I’ll think to myself, I can’t wait to add this one to my jar!

Pull out your own vase

Maybe you’re learning to be an adult like me (hello bills!).

Perhaps you work over 40 hours a week and come home to children, hungry for your food and attention.

Or maybe you are a stay-at-home mom, making sure your home stays a haven.

Regardless of your routine or stage in life, I am confident that acknowledging your daily accomplishments will be encouraging!

This one simple habit has given me an eye for noticing all the little victories. I am thankful as I linger in these feel-good moments.

One Small Win: Create an Acknowledgement Jar today and be motivated by your own every day accomplishments!

acknowledgement jar

What you need:
____Container (I used a vase I found under my sink, but a box, mason jar or basket works)
____Notecards
____Writing utensil


acknowledgement jarKelsee Keitel is a graduate student and blogger, living in Indianapolis, IN, with her newlywed husband. She is passionate about cultivating sisterhood through vulnerability and introducing young women to the freedom and abundance of life in following Christ. When Kelsee is not snuggled up with a book and sipping tea, she can be found experimenting in the kitchen or chatting with her mom.

You can read more about how Kelsee experiences divine moments in the midst of ordinary life over at kelseekeitel.com or on Instagram and Facebook.

Bad Mom Monday- Braver Parenting: Doing vs. Being

Bad Mom Monday- Braver Parenting: Doing vs. Being

BraverParenting“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”  Ephesians 2:8 (ESV)

My son Christian loves basketball and played varsity all four years of high school. Throughout each season, he was respected for his ability to lead the team, for his calmness on the floor, and for his quick thinking.

Although Christian was an incredible player, he is not aggressive by nature. So he was never known for strength and drive. These weak areas cost him playing time and made him feel like he was failing his coach.

I always told Christian, “You played your best; be proud of that.” To me, bravery was showing up to each practice and each game, even when he felt like quitting.

THE Best vs. Your Best

As a parent of an athlete, I wanted my child to succeed. I was partial to my own kid; that’s just natural. It was hard to resist all the hype of athletics. As a single mom working two jobs, I struggled to keep up with all the “parent” clubs around sports and volunteering. I too, had to work at being my best, rather than run for “BEST mom of the year award.” I wanted to stay on the good side of all the other parents by being involved in all the fundraisers and every single volunteer event.

But even as an adult, I had to remind myself, to BE my best and feel proud of that. I could not be at all events. As tempting as it was to just over-commit, I would have driven not only myself crazy but my entire family, all for the sake of somehow making a difference for my son. But no amount of my DOING was going to change his playing time one bit.

My son knew with all his heart two things: First, he knew that I was his biggest fan. Second, he knew that I was working as hard as he was toward success. My best was good enough, even when that meant missing a game because I was working or saying no to that new pair of shoes everyone else had because I did not have the income to pay the price.

It was okay to BE where we were because it was our best on that given day. I had to be brave when he was upset that he could not have what he wanted. I had to step over those feelings of inadequacy and know it was okay to just BE where I was.

BEING vs. DOING

On those occasions when I failed at BEING and fell into DOING, I found myself complaining, resentful, and tired. DOING is important; we all need to do our part in supporting the programs our kids benefit from. But we must keep our motivation for DOING in check. When I needed to say “no” but said “yes” because I didn’t want to disappoint people, I was DOING. When I said “yes” because I honestly knew the person needed help, and I was able to meet the call, I was BEING: helpful, freely giving.

So give yourself grace – as a parent, athlete, or wherever life finds you – to be satisfied with your best. BE engaged in what you are doing and know that your best is good enough to the One who counts the most, your Heavenly Father. While DOING can produce resentment if done for the wrong reasons, BEING produces gratitude.

Today, don’t worry about DOING the best or even better than anyone else. Focus on BEING your best. 

 

Your Turn!

How comfortable are you with the idea of BEING your best rather than trying to DO the best?  How are (or aren’t) you modeling this for your child(ren)?

 

UnknownMy bad mom friend and author of today’s Bad Mom Monday challenge  is Tanja Bass.  Tanja lives, works, and parents in Oregon where she has spent all but three years of her life. She has three children — who now must be referred to as “young people” — ages 15,18, and 22.  Tanja enjoys speaking, writing and encouraging others. She could tell you that her journey of life has been one of foster care, adoption & divorce, but she’d far rather tell you how God is changing her story with His redeeming grace!

Bad Mom Monday: Why We Let Our Daughter Touch the Electric Skillet (and other shocking parental choices) 

Bad Mom Monday: Why We Let Our Daughter Touch the Electric Skillet (and other shocking parental choices) 

BMMJuly14
When Annemarie was little, she had no interest in her Playskool kitchen with plastic food. She wanted to help us do the real thing: fix our real breakfast in our real kitchen.

We’d set up the step ladder, and she’d climb up and happily measure ingredients and mix pancake batter.

It was a great arrangement. She was fully engaged in meal preparation, and we felt like such great parents, teaching our little girl life skills at an early age!

Then Annemarie became fascinated by the electric skillet.

We warned her that it was “HOT!” That only peeked her curiosity.

We moved it as far out of reach as possible, but if we turned away for a split second, she’d start to climb the counter, one hand outstretched toward the skillet.

We tried everything we could think of to distract her, forbid her, instill a sense of respect in her.

Nothing worked.

Annemarie’s obsession became an all-out determination to touch the electric skillet.

After many near-misses, we came to the unthinkable conclusion:

Our little girl was going to experience the natural consequences of her curiosity.

The only question was when.

Daniel and I discussed, prayed, and ultimately made one of the hardest choices we’ve ever made as parents:  we decided to let her touch it when we were present.

The next morning, we wiped the skillet clean of oil and turned it to the lowest setting. Daniel stood on one side of the ladder; I stood on the other. At a pre-arranged signal, we both acted distracted.

Sure enough, Annemarie’s tiny hands shot toward the electric skillet. Eagerly, she grabbed its sides.

Her triumphant face registered shock quickly followed by pain. She stumbled and, as Daniel caught her, began to cry.

“Hot!” she wailed, pointing to the skillet with reddening fingers. “Hot!”

I dabbed soothing medication on Annemarie’s hands, and we took turns holding and rocking her until she calmed down. After tucking her in bed for a nap, Daniel and I let down our stoic guards and held each other as we cried.

After that experience, whenever we told her that something was “hot” she repeated “hot!” in a voice of respect and gave it wide berth. And her budding fascination with electric outlets completely vanished.

Letting Annemarie touch the electric skillet worked. But two decades later, I still tear up as I tell this story.

I still feel torn between my desire to protect my child from harm and my responsibility to teach her about consequences.

I also better understand God’s heart toward me: always wanting to protect me but also letting me experience the consequences of my disobedience:

“So, what a blessing when God steps in and corrects you!
Mind you, don’t despise the discipline of Almighty God!
True, he wounds, but he also dresses the wound;
the same hand that hurts you, heals you.”

Job 5:17-18

Your Turn!

What’s a necessary “shocking” parental choice you’ve made or experienced?  What was the motivation behind the choice?  What were the results?

 

Gregory_Cheri_Photo_SquareMy bad mom friend and author of today’s Bad Mom Monday challenge  is Cheri Gregory. Cheri has been married to her college sweetheart for over a quarter-of-a-century and has two college-aged kids; she blogs about expectations, “baditude,” and hope at www.CheriGregory.com.

Bad Mom Monday: Mom Essentials

Bad Mom Monday: Mom Essentials

PoolPartySo we had my son’s birthday party last week on June 30th. The date is only significant because as I was texting people about the party one mom sent a message back with the following question: “Didn’t he turn 7 back in December?”.

Yes, yes he did. (That was for all you Phineas and Ferb fans out there)

I guess I’m “that” mom. The one who had a TERRIBLE year at work. The one who barely had energy to do laundry and cook, much less plan a party.

The one who loves her children more than her job but found her job taking too much of her time, energy and thoughts.

It’s one of those things that I NEVER thought would happen to me, but it did.

It sounds silly to become so upset about being late with a party but it matters to me – or should I say, to my expectations! I’ve always been the mom who plans parties everyone enjoys and (being honest here) raves about! It’s my little “rocked it baby!” moment and I love seeing my kids have such a good time.

Not giving my son a birthday party with his friends brought a weight of guilt and disappointment that was new and very uncomfortable for me, I felt like such a bad mom!

In order to deal with this awful feeling I decided to just stop and remember what matters most.

I decided my son would not be scarred for life and I was NOT a terrible mom. Instead, I was a mom who was human and just trying my best. I stayed focused on the essentials – what I needed to really make it through.

First I had to be HONEST. I had dropped the ball and for that I apologized to my son. I also explained the situation to him and his response was so sweet and understanding. I think it’s okay for my boys to see me goof and claim responsibility while also promising to make things right!

Next I needed the essential of PERSEPCTIVE. Failing to give him a party felt like a BIG deal but when I stepped back and looked at the big picture I realized that I hadn’t totally failed him. I’d been working hard to make sure I was home to tuck him into bed and able to be at all his games and most importantly, turn off my “work brain” and truly listen to him.

When my perspective is focused on the big picture and I’m able to be honest with myself and accept my blunders I think I become a better woman and a better mom. On those “bad mom” days, I have an opportunity to allow God to come in and fill in the missing pieces of my identity with HIS truth. I want to live my life focused on the essentials and not the extras – I want people to come first, not projects and parties.

Keeping this balance is tough, but it’s so worth the effort. And by the way, my little December baby was able to have a pool party. Complete with leis, sunshine and lots of laughter.


 

KaseyKasey Johnson is learning daily how to ignore the extras in life and focus on the essentials. As an educator, author, speaker, blogger, wife and mother, Kasey understands the balancing act we sustain as mothers. Her new book and Bible study, Mom Essentials is all about this challenge that every mom is facing.

Visit her blog, www.smarter-moms.com, to learn more about Mom Essentials.

 

Bad Mom Monday: The Grip of Guilt

Bad Mom Monday: The Grip of Guilt

The-Grip-of-Guilt

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:5-6

I kinda got thrown into the parenting world head first and torqued a little to the right. Beginning with twins and ending with two out of four children having significant special needs led me being overworked with no break in sight.

I didn’t have time for fun, with the constant nebulizer treatments, doctor appointments, behavior plans to create, and social stories to write. But after 10 years of constant crises and the “work” never done, I finally enrolled in a four hour art class I’d dreamed of taking for years.

On the day of class, my son became sick with asthma. I was torn, wanting to care for him but desperately wanting the class I finally had the chance to attend, and I really needed time doing something fun. I was going to stay, but my husband said to go and he’d take care of Robbie. So, I went.

Well, Stevie’s breathing worsened and he ended up hospitalized before I got home. Guilt grabbed my heart and yelled, “How could you leave your child at a time like this to do something so frivolous? You should have been there! What kind of mom are you?”

As Robbie improved, so did my perception and Guilt released it’s grip.

I realized, as I stayed with him overnight, that God took care of everything; every little detail without my help.

It turned out my husband was able to be the superhero this time, something that he needed. I respected him more for being able to handle the crisis with 4 kids while I was gone.

And, I realized if I don’t take time to have fun, and guard it, then I will never “have” time for fun. Now I try to get out at least twice a month, to do something I want to do.

When worry whispers in my ears about the kids, I remember that God alone is in control. I am not the “only” one that can deal with things.

I also remember that I will be much more capable and creative to care for my family if I take time to care for me.


Merri LewisMerri Lewis is mom to four children, two boys and two girls. They range in age from 11 to 2. Merri enjoys writing during her carved out free time. The rest of the time she enjoys hunting for treasures as she raises her very active children. Merri blogs at www.TreasuresInTheDust.com, with a focus on ministering to families with children on the autism spectrum through the many stories her children provide.