Chapter 10: Get the Conversation Started

Chapter 10: Get the Conversation Started

Welcome to The Mom Project. For the next few weeks, we’ll be launching my book The Mom Project by hosting several mom friends who have tried it out for themselves. They read the book, completed a project from the book with their kids, and wrote all about it. And these are real moms. Busy moms. Unsure-of-themselves moms. Single moms. Special needs moms. Working moms. Stay-at-home moms. They do the hard working of mommyhood every day, and have found fun ways to connect with their kids in the simple activities found in The Mom Project. Read on to hear their experience:

The Project:

Making a connection with my three kids who are ages 11 and twins who are 9, is a challenging enterprise. Life with three kids close in age will always be a challenging task. I desire connection with them but homework, errands and the minutiae of a day always seems to corrode time. I pick them up from school and then all of a sudden it is time for pjs and brushing teeth. Dinner is a gamble. Who is done with the day already? Who is grumpy because they don’t like what is on their plate? Who is annoyed at their sibling who is sitting where they wanted to sit. Connection at dinner is a miracle akin to the parting of the red sea… okay maybe not to that level but I mean when it happens I am giddy. The Mom Project suggests thinking beyond dinner and encourages thinking outside of the box I typically try to operate in. I’ve been reminded through the Mom Project that well-intentioned isn’t the same as intentional. Maybe this is obvious to most but I think this is a game-changer for me. Intentional connection requires a bit more than me saying, “How was your day?” and “Don’t forget to eat your veggies!”.

The Plan:

Here’s my reality. The best time to connect with my kids is at bedtime. They always want me to lay down with them and chat or just cuddle. The stress of the day is mostly over and their defenses come down. This is, of course, the time when I am the most ‘done’. It is 8 pm and I am ready to tap out. However, I want to connect when they already want to connect by intentionally creating space for this to occur. My plan is to spend time once a week in each child’s room and just sit and be – maybe we will have a snack, cuddle or just have a tickle fight. Just 15 minutes one-on-one with each child is what I am looking for.

Results:

They love it. And so do I. Connection is honestly what I love most about being a mom (it is certainly not the homework time) and so I started looking forward to my time with each child. Some evenings I could sit with all three kids for just a few minutes each and even that short time was a welcome few moments of connection. Bedtime may take longer, but I also come downstairs from tucking them in with a full heart.

What I learned:

Some nights are better than others to try and do this and so I need to be flexible. I did this project while my husband was out of town and it will be great for us to take turns taking a few extra moments one-on-one with the kids. The most necessary component of this is a willing heart ready to sit and just be, because you can’t rush and you have to be present. I have to be less concerned about what I have to do next and what is still waiting for me to take care of.

Extra Tips: Some days one of my children will need me more than another. When I sense that a particular child needs me I can take extra time to connect with them at bedtime. Also, with a little planning ahead I can include a favorite snack or look up knock-knock jokes ahead of time to share.

Ready for your chance to win a copy of The Mom Project? To be entered into the drawing, just comment on this post and you’ll be entered to win. *Only US readers are eligible to receive the free book.

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Bethany Howard lives in Tucker, GA with her husband, three kids, dog and cat. She enjoys words, her children’s laughter and any dinner she doesn’t make. She’s recently developed a passion for dark chocolate covered almonds. She doesn’t aim for perfection because that is unattainable so you just might be comfortable visiting www.bethanyhoward.com where Bethany wades through the ups and downs of life to discover kindling for joy and growth. Click here for a free download on being the best mom you can be for your kids (it’s not what you think it is) and to subscribe to Bethany’s blog.

Stretch Your Dollars by Becoming a Kitchen Magician

Stretch Your Dollars by Becoming a Kitchen Magician

If you’ve ever struggled with having more month than money, you know the value of having a pound of ground meat on hand and making more with less. What if I were to tell you, I could turn a pound of meat into six without sacrificing taste or satisfaction? Would you take the kitchen challenge?

It wasn’t long ago that my family was in a tight financial bind. Job loss and chronic health issues combined to slash our income by 60 percent one year – and we had a baby on the way. We needed to make fast, dramatic changes just keep our heads above water

I read enough to know that food costs are the most flexible monthly expense a family has, so I looked closely at our grocery spending. Here in the U.S., many of us over-spend out of convenience.
I devised a plan to stretch our grocery dollars by making the whole family vegan – no animal products or by-products (yeah, no eggs or cheese) – because animal protein is a pricey commodity. That lasted two days before mutiny ensued. Our 3-year-old quickly became the aunt from “My Big, Fat Greek Wedding” – “What do you mean no meat?!” As for my husband, let’s just say this is not what he had in mind when he vowed “for better or worse.”

If I didn’t want to lose my role as family CEO via hostile toddler takeover, I needed a Plan B. I decided to mix things up, which resulted in Mom’s Magical Miracle. The magic is that the recipe below turns a pound of ground meat into about six pounds of versatile meat filling that can be used in anything from burritos to lasagna. “Meat filling” sounds sketchy but “magical miracle” has mystique.

It’s all in the sales pitch.

The miracle is how a recipe like this can clear the clutter from a mom’s worried mind. You know you’re feeding your family well while sticking within a lean budget. Even if money isn’t an issue, cutting back on food costs allows you to focus finances elsewhere in life like sponsoring a child in need or saving up for a vacation.

Are you ready to create a little kitchen magic for yourself? Download my recipe for Mom’s Magical Miracle today. Try on my magician’s hat and let us know how it works for you and your family. Even better, share photos of your favorite Miracle Meal with us over at the Clutter Free Academy Facebook group. I can’t wait to drool over your kitchen creations.


Tonya Kubo is the illustrious, fearless leader of Kathi Lipp’s Clutter-Free Academy Facebook group. She and her husband, Brian, are raising two spirited girls in the agricultural heart of California. She writes about fighting the demons of comparison, clutter and compulsion on www.tonyakubo.com.

A free DOWNLOAD and an AWESOME Giveaway

A free DOWNLOAD and an AWESOME Giveaway

I don’t usually use my blog to sell things to you, convince you to buy something or otherwise annoy you. It’s NOT who I am and it never will be. So this isn’t a reminder to buy something. Nope. It’s a reminder to WIN something. Merry Christmas to you, right!?

First off, get this gorgeous printable coloring page from the authors of Discovering Hope in the Psalms. (Learn more about this book over at this post).

Discovering Hope in the Psalms_download

I am giving away an awesome prize bundle of my favorite quiet time necessities that includes:

• Discovering Hope in the Psalms
• This beautiful Study Bible for Women
• A set of colored pencils for exploring God through creativity
• My favorite cup for hot and cold drinks- a Hydro Flask
• My very favorite pen, the Uniball Air Micro
• An assortment of teas (to keep those creative juices flowing).

I am also giving away another 5 copies of Discovering Hope in the Psalms.

Entry for winning ends on Wednesday at midnight so hurry and enter below!!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

God Loves a Do-Over

God Loves a Do-Over

Right now, I’m experiencing the post Easter hangover that so many of us, with less than perfect families, are experiencing.

• I spent way too much money on Easter baskets no one in my family really liked. (I was tempted to ask them for the candy back, but I resisted.)
• The NINE DOLLARS worth of strawberries I bought on Thursday were rotted when I went to cut them on Sunday.
• When we texted our second oldest “Where are you?” to find out where he was for our 1:00 lunch, his response? “For what?”
Sigh.

Maybe you had some of your own crazy going on:
• Your kids didn’t say thank you for the toys your in-laws brought over.
• You cooked all day Saturday and half of Sunday, and someone had the nerve to ask you why there wasn’t any artichoke dip.
• Your brother got drunk and obnoxious. At EASTER.

If your Easter didn’t go according to plan, let me just remind you of this:
New life isn’t just about eternity. It’s about Mondays too.
Luke 1:78 “A new day will dawn on us from above because our God is loving and merciful.” GWT
We don’t have to leave the new life in God until next Easter. We get to celebrate each and every new day, each and every day.
God loves a do-over.
Go into today with new hope for what God can do.
Go into today forgetting the perfect Easter that every other family had (and by the way, stick with the friends who share about their kids saying a “grown-up word” when there was nothing in their little orange plastic egg. Those are the friends you need for a lifetime.)
Go into today knowing what we celebrated yesterday: a Christ that cherishes you enough to give you everything he had so he could be in relationship with you forever.

5 Tips for Becoming a Morning Person

5 Tips for Becoming a Morning Person

becoming a morning person

I would have never in a million years have thought I would be writing a post about becoming a morning person. Because I never would have thought I would actually be a morning person.

Friends, I like to sleep. I just do, I love my warm bed, and I love my husband who sleeps in it with me. As I struggle with chronic pain and fatigue, sleep is important for my health. I never dreamed it possible for ME to become an early riser.

However, by God’s grace for the last month or so, I’ve officially become a “morning person.” I wake up at 5am every morning (except weekends) to have time for prayer, Bible study and reading. And it grants me little extra time for work before the kids get up.

 

How did I become a morning person?

 

Honestly, I’m not naturally a morning person. At least I wouldn’t describe myself as one. BUT, I am definitely NOT a night owl.

I’ve tried putting off projects with the excuse that I’ll work on them later, after the kids go to sleep, but the reality is that come 9pm I’m tired and my brain is not functioning productively. All I want to do is lie on the couch and watch a show. While I can do some work in the evenings, I have found my most productive hours are the morning hours.

Even though I might feel tired in the morning, once I get going, those early hours are when I come up with my best ideas and when I’m most focused.

So, when I found myself struggling with more projects than I had time for and frustrated that my “quiet time” for prayer and Bible study always felt rushed. I felt like the Lord wanted me to change some things around.

I desperately wanted to be a good steward of my time and my responsibilities, so I started to pray for “extra time” somewhere. As a wife and mom of four, I desperately needed quiet time before heading into my busy daily schedule.

Then a friend shared with me how she had started waking up early. It was such a blessing for her and asked if I would be interested in trying it?

Um, OK, God, thanks I get it. (Sometimes He’s so direct in answering prayers, right?)

It took me a few days to get on board, but I knew early mornings were the answer to my prayer. I was apprehensive at first as I had tried waking up early before but couldn’t do it consistently. Initially I started with a five-day time commitment. I would wake up at 5am for five days and if I didn’t want to continue I’d go back to my usual wake-up time.

I was sold after day two. My time with the Lord was so sweet.

There was no going back.

 

5 tips to becoming a morning person

 

A few tips that helped me develop a consistent early morning routine:

#1 Pray about it: If you’re feeling like your “quiet time” lacks, or you feel rushed during the day and want to rethink your morning routine, bring it to the Lord. There is nothing in my own strength to make me think I was capable of being an early riser. I needed Jesus to make this happen.

Consider the season you’re in. I had tried to be a morning person before, but it wasn’t the right time. In this life season, I don’t have little ones. My youngest kiddo is six. They all sleep through the night and don’t wake until 7am. My days are not as physically exhausting as they were when I had babies and toddlers.

Becoming a morning person may not be feasible during certain seasons of life. Pray about it. If you feel God speak to your heart that early mornings should be a time to spend together then He will be your strength, but if not, feel free to put it off for another season.

#2 Accountability: Find a friend or group of friends to wake up with you (ideally in the same time zone you are in). Accountability is literally what wakes me up in the morning. I’m part of a group of women who checks in by text every morning.

I know I’m accountable to this group, so I want make sure I get up and send my text to encourage my friends. It helps to know I’m not alone in spending early morning time with the Lord. We share our plans and just have a simple check in every morning.

#3 Set yourself up for success: Waking up early can be hard, but there are things you can do to prepare and make your morning routine go a little more smoothly.

  • Make sure you set your alarm (use a tune to wake you up rather than lull you back to sleep).
  • Set the timer on your coffee pot so the coffee is ready and waiting when you wake up.
  • Get a good night’s sleep.
  • Take care of your health. I personally feel more sluggish and struggle waking up when I’m overdoing it with sugar. Consider what your body needs to feel energized.

#4 Focus on what you get not what you’re giving up: Waking up early is hard. Sometimes I just don’t feel like it. But I’ve found it’s more helpful to focus on what I’m saying yes to. Waking up early for me means saying yes to my time with the Lord, and it’s totally worth it.

#5 Save a seat for Jesus: A friend of mine once shared with me how she asked her mom how she maintained such a consistent quiet time. Her mom confessed she saved a seat for Jesus, where she imagined meeting Him every day. She never wanted to keep Jesus waiting.

I love that and totally borrowed it, now Jesus has a seat at my table where I know He’ll meet me every morning at 5am.

If you are considering becoming an early riser trust that the Lord will honor your sacrifice. Like the loaves and fishes I have watched the Lord take my small offering of the first fruits of my time and multiply it. My days feel more meaningful, and I accomplish so much more by offering Him my time before anyone else. I firmly believe God will honor your sacrifice as well.

Are you considering becoming a morning person? Or are you one already? We’d love to hear any tips you have below in the comments.

becoming a morning person Zohary Ross is a life coach, speaker and author of the Aligned Parenting Workbook. Zohary is passionate about encouraging and equipping women to have clearly defined “most importants” and live out their values and priorities. Connect with Zohary at http://zoharyross.com/.

 

A Life Unstuck Retreat- with my Friend Pat Layton

A Life Unstuck Retreat- with my Friend Pat Layton

I wanted to share with all my friends a great opportunity to attend a unique retreat with my friend Pat Layton. After learning all about her plans for the 40 lucky women who will get to attend, I WANT TO GO but I’ll be speaking with another great group of women on the same dates. Read more about this fantastic event in a letter Pat wrote to you all below:


A Life Unstuck Retreat

Small Life Unstuck Retreat.SM“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31

If she had been a spitter, I would have been a prime target from my coveted spot at the Beth Moore conference in the summer of 2007! A few embarrassingly bold girlfriends waited in line with 10,000 of their “closest” girlfriends to seize the coveted front row seats when the doors opened that evening.

I can still recall going to that event needing desperately to hear from God about a very specific decision I was facing in my life. God used Beth that day to very clearly and unquestionably answer my request. I will never forget it.

Over the past 32 years of chasing every nugget God has for my family, my ministry and me, I have enjoyed many other fabulous women’s conferences where my life of faith has been changed, enriched and inspired.

The thing is, as great as those conferences are (I speak at lots of them myself), there have also been those times in my faith journey when I needed a deeper, more personal and specific time of ministry. On some occasions I simply needed answers to some questions that loomed in my heart and soul. Other times my ministry or personal life got STUCK in a specific area of confusion, brokenness or disappointment.

Over the years I have invested in many personal ministry opportunities that have advanced my faith like none other.

I have invested in personal prayer retreats, in fact one I attended for 5 years in a row, which have changed my life and, I believe with all of my heart, set the foundation for the ministry I have today.

I have invested in personal life coaching—both individual and small group.

I have invested in one-on-one writer coaching with a best selling author and editorial coaching for my first general market book Life Unstuck.

Over the years I have spent thousands of dollars pursuing clarity and excellence in my ministry and personal growth.

I believe I am worth it. I believe you are too!

I believe that the calling God has placed on us is worth our investment in both time and money to pursue and improve. I am a life long learner and am very certain I have not offered my last day or dollar in learning more.Small Life Unstuck Retreat.SM

The Life Unstuck Retreat I am offering on September 30-October 3 is THAT kind of investment.

This personal retreat will offer you a very personalized time of refreshment, restoration and renewal. You may need this time of focus for your marriage or your ministry. Maybe you have been through a recent life changing trauma or transition and seek clarity and redirection in your life.
At A Life Unstuck Retreat, you will encounter:

• A time of personal inventory and evaluation.
• Introduction to a Life Mapping tool called A Freedom Flower? that is YOURS to take and will provide a map for you to follow for years to come.
• A vision boarding process that will apply to your life right now and provide clear and measureable steps towards your dreams.
• An intimate gathering for worship, rest and prayer that will be personally planned for YOU!
• Last, but far from least, you will be pampered, prayed for and personally ministered to for your specific season of life and longings.

I sincerely hope that the Life Unstuck Retreat will be where we meet, face-to-face, to encounter God in a fresh way, together. My desire is to inspire you, to serve you and to set a table for you to enjoy the presence of God in a way that YOU will never forget.

The details are on my website along with a little “Is This Retreat For You Quiz”.

Contact me personally with any questions you might have.

In His Grip!
Pat


Pat LaytonAbout Pat

Pat is a passionate and inspiring leader who, during her 25 years in full time ministry, has founded a variety of non-profit ministries including A Woman’s Place Pregnancy Resource Center in Tampa, Florida; a Christian Adoption Agency; an abstinence education program; and Surrendering the Secret, an international post abortion recovery program.

Pat is a busy Speaker, Writer and Life Coach specializing in “Dream Design” for women. She is a published author of 6 books. Her post abortion recovery bible study Surrendering the Secret was published by Lifeway in 2008; her personal testimony A Surrendered Life was released by Baker books in August 2014 and her newest book, Life UnStuck “Peace with the Past; Purpose in the Present and Passion for the Future,” was released in Spring 2015!