04.13.2017

Stories change

I’ve neglected my blog for some time, but I have a pretty good excuse, in my opinion. 🙂 Let me explain.  

Last August, Erik and I found out that we were expecting a baby – baby #3, which we both wanted and had talked about for a while. A family of 5 seemed full, but not overwhelming….not too cold, not too hot, but just right. We were thrilled, and being the planners that we are, we decided to do an early blood test to find out the gender of baby #3. We soon found out that our girl-dominated tribe would be welcoming a BOY! Hooray! What a perfect story. 

But stories change. 

Pause. Before reading on, I have a disclaimer. I was never planning on sharing this video, but now that we know how our story unfolded in the months to follow, it feels like a pretty important piece to cherish (and one day, I know we’ll be able to look back on this and laugh!): https://youtu.be/XbaAtX2GOas. Hopefully it gives you a good laugh, too. 

Ok, continue…

Because we had opted to do a 10 week blood test instead of an early ultrasound, my first ultrasound was at 20 weeks. We’d finally be getting a glimpse of our little nugget. I wanted to see with my own two eyes who this little being was, as being pregnant with him had felt so different this time around. I had been so much sicker during this pregnancy than I was with my girls. I felt bigger, I was carrying him differently, and I was exhausted on a level I didn’t know existed. I chalked all this up to the fact that our little man was giving me a run for my money…plus, this was baby #3. I knew that each pregnancy was different, after all.

But then, 10 fateful words came which rocked our world.

And no amount of justifying why this pregnancy felt so “different” could prepare me for what our ultrasound tech said just seconds after she got started: “Ummm, you know what, you guys? You’re actually having twins!”

The first photo taken of these two together. Twin “A” (our girl) and twin “B” (our boy), right after we found out.

When all you can do is laugh

I may have blacked out for a second at that point (just kidding). Actually, what I saw was white. White on Erik’s face, every ounce of color gone. Jaw to the floor. Panic. My heart skipped a few beats and if I’m honest, my first reaction was to cry. You know that panicked feeling you get when you are put on the spot, totally unprepared, for something you weren’t expecting? Imagine that feeling, multiplied by 5,561. That about sums up how I was feeling in the moments after hearing those 10 words. There were feelings of awe in God’s capacity to both take away and give back, and feelings of complete overwhelm. My body took over my mind at that point and did the only thing it knew how to do to cope – laugh uncontrollably. 

This is what 34 weeks with twins looks like. I know one day, I’ll appreciate this belly!

I didn’t want to laugh –  but I also didn’t want to cry. Anyone who’s been pregnant knows that your body does some pretty whacked out things when you’re carrying another human (or humans, in my case – a boy AND a girl!). Laughing was all I could do to keep from crying, and to be honest, I was more worried about Erik and how he was feeling than reacting in any sort of sane way. I wanted to unravel, but I knew I needed to be strong for Erik in that moment. And laughing seemed like the stronger thing to do. 

A journey in letting go

I could go on about the conversation Erik and I had, just the two of us, when we stepped foot in our front door after hearing this news for the first time. Or the hug. I’ll never forget it. Or the tears that followed. Or the long conversations about the special bond our soon-to-arrive duo will have, what their names will be, or how in the world we’re going to fit 6 humans in our 2 bedroom home. But instead, I’ll just say that the days and months that followed have been a journey in letting go. They have brought me and Erik together in ways I can’t explain, as we’ve both served as each other’s rock at certain points. I’ve had days of tears alongside days of amazement. Woven through the fear, excitement, anxiety and anticipation, however, is God’s infinite grace.

Despite my own doubts about my abilities to parent (and pay for!) 4 kids, God has given us exactly what we needed, I’m sure of it.

There are so many lessons to be learned ahead, and we’re only just beginning. 

 

 

 

09.07.2016

Life Under Construction: Lessons Learned in Gratefulness and Letting Go

I’ve been absent for some time because….construction. What started as tearing down a small wall and updating our kitchen turned into a much bigger (and longer) project. That never happens with construction projects, right?! Living out of a suitcase at my parent’s house the past two months – with two littles and a commute that has made me want to pull my hair out more than once – has been hard. Hard on my marriage, hard on my kids, hard on my sanity. And we’re still not done.

My husband and I looked at each other many times over the past 8 weeks and asked ourselves what in the world we got ourselves into. I heard the construction stories – the ones that warned me that construction is extremely stressful on a marriage. In fact, when a good friend of ours who is a general contractor told me that he’s had to recommend counselors to couples during construction projects, I laughed. That’s funny, I thought. I heard the stories that warn you that opening walls is like opening a can of worms. You never know what you’re going to find. Turns out, they’re all true.

We’ve encountered our fair share of obstacles during this project. But in the face of near-daily shootings, global immigration crises, devastating hurricanes and earthquakes – not to mention the physical and mental pain that so many face daily – I’m reminded that these are first-world problems.

My privilege is not lost on me.

I give thanks that we are in this position. I give thanks that we have a home, let alone the means to remodel it. Thanks that we have family who opened their doors to us for 8 weeks; that we have the ability to eat out when we don’t have a kitchen to cook in. It is not lost on me that while I stress out over cabinet knobs and paint colors, there are people suffering in so many parts of the world, including in my own back yard.

Perspectives on Privilege

My reality is put powerfully into perspective when I read the news. When I see the woman shaving her legs outside of Home Depot, living out of the duffle bag that sits next to her.  Or when I read about the 10 year old in Malawi who’s gone blind due to cataracts – an ailment that would have been caught early and fixed easily in the part of the world that I live in. It’s moments like these when I start to feel the tug and hear the whisper asking me what I plan to do with it, my privilege. How will I use it for the good of others? The dust, the paint samples, the torn up walls – these are not dilemmas or problems. These are opportunities to use what I’ve been given for a cause much greater than myself.

Let me be clear: I love my new kitchen. I really do. I’ve flipped through the magazines, pinned the pins, and watched my fair share of Fixer Upper, dreaming of the kitchen that I now have. I am oh-so grateful for the space that I come home to, even in it’s partially finished state. I’ve always loved aesthetic beauty – something I used to feel guilty for, which I now embrace. I can appreciate a good rug or living room design like a boss. But how quickly we become attached to our material possessions, seeing them not as gifts or privileges but as entitlements. I never want to take the gifts I’ve been given for granted.

Could YOU Let Go?

There was a moment in the tearing down of walls, the dust, and the subsequent putting back together that I asked myself how I would feel if this was all taken away from me. What if our house burned down tomorrow (it’s happened before to a friend of mine), or if God called us to a different part of the world? Could I let it go?

I’d like to think that the answer would be an exuberant, YES. Yes, I could let it all go, for I know that what awaits me is much, much greater than a beautiful kitchen. But in the meantime, I will open the doors of our home to the best of my ability, with open hands and a heart that is overflowing with grateFULLness.

Tell me, what in your life would be hard to let go of?

Life Under Contruction: Lessons Learned in Gratefulness & Letting Go. Read more at www.slowdownanddo.com

 

07.11.2016

Becoming A People Beyond Fear

Fear is like a disease. Have you ever noticed yourself becoming more anxious when you’re around an especially anxious person? It’s the same with fear. We become more fearful when we’re around fearful people. Fear spreads like wildfire, turning what was abundant and thriving into ashes. And our rash attempts to ease our fears only adds fuel to the fire until, eventually, our fear consumes us.

The climate of the world we live in (and I don’t mean the weather climate) has become, among many other things, a climate of fear. We are afraid of the “other,” afraid of ideas that aren’t our own, afraid of people who don’t look like us, dress like us, or practice religion like us. When we are steeped in such fear, it not only spreads but it multiplies, becoming bigger and stronger and more powerful as it picks up speed, like an avalanche.

I am not fearless, as it turns out.

I too, look at the reality of the world we live in and wonder how I could possibly raise my children in a place where the collective fear and hatred seems insurmountable at times. I listen to the political rhetoric and wonder what kind of leaders will usher my children from adolescence to adulthood – will my children even know what an honest, just, and moral leader is?

But we must be a people beyond fear. A community of people who does love. Love isn’t just a fuzzy feeling inside. It’s not a spectator sport. It requires full participation, dirty hands (sometimes literally), and these things: tolerance. empathy. understanding. grace. endurance.

“If we want to be a community of people unafraid of the future, unafraid to change the world, unafraid of doing the right thing—and here I’m going to define the “right thing” as being thing one that brings more peace, more patience, more goodness, more gentleness, more kindness, more joy to any situation—we need to be people who love well and love often.” -Melissa Camara Wilkins

Engaging Our Fear

We must operate out of a different space, a space of bravery. A space of humility and acceptance. We must step outside of our private, safe bubbles and into the world. Into conversation with our brothers and sisters. Into the (often) harsh realities of the communities we live in, regardless of how uncomfortable we feel about homelessness, drug addiction, politics, domestic violence or immigration, all of which stare us blankly in the face and ask, “What are you going to do about it?”

Progress never comes without difficulty. Peace never comes without tribulation. But the question should never be, ‘Is this easy or is this hard?’ The question should be, ‘What is God asking of me in this moment?’

How many times has fear held you back from fully participating in your own life? You hear the quiet whisper telling you to move (or rather, to stay put), to quit the job you hate, to speak up for that cause you care deeply about, to talk to the stranger on the street corner – but fear holds you back. Your fearful mind tells you that it’s not practical or wise or the right timing (news alert: it will never be the right timing), while your spirit tells you that it doesn’t matter.

I’m not fearless. I’m not. But I’m trying more and more these days to stare fear in the face and do something about it.

How are you overcoming fear? What are you going to do about it?

BECOMING A PEOPLE BEYOND FEAR

06.27.2016

Chase Less and Embrace More

Monday: Playdate + meal plan
Tuesday: Swim lessons + prepare class gift to teachers since you are, you know, the room mom
Wednesday: Work event + Happy Hour
Thursday: Volunteer + attend the event you RSVP’d for before your schedule got insane
Friday: Kid’s school event + prepare dinner for the new mom down the street
Saturday: Work out + Kid’s birthday party (+ buy and wrap the gift for the kid’s birthday party)
Sunday: Neighborhood block party (+ grocery shop and prepare dish for said party…)

Sometimes, I get exhausted looking at my calendar. I look at my commitments for the week – all things which I’ve planned, which I’ve said yes to, and I dread the week before me. Not because they’re things I don’t want to do – in fact, most of the things I say yes to are absolutely things I want to do. But because there’s just so many of them…and I can’t do all-the-things. In the past year, I’ve made a concerted effort to chase less and embrace more. In other words, I’m doing my best not to over-schedule and under-rest so my calendar looks less and less like this these days, but by no means am I beyond the “busy.”

Overcoming the Need to “Look Busy”

The other day, I ran into a co-worker on my way to lunch, and she casually asked me how I was doing. For some reason, I felt the need to launch into how busy I was. Tiny alarm bells rang inside of me: “Tell her you’re busy!” “You’re so busy!” The truth is, I wasn’t that busy on that particular day. I don’t know what got into me – I’m the kind of person that’s perfectly content eating by myself at a cafe or sitting on a park bench for no other reason than to reflect on what’s good in life. I don’t usually feel the need to “look busy” just for the sake of looking busy, but at that particular moment, I felt a subtle pressure to live the lie that busy = good.

What is it about the tempting buzz of a busy life that draws us in? I find that so many people I know and work with are literally addicted to being busy. And I get it: being busy often leaves presence in the dust, and it can be hard to be present and mindful. Being present brings up feelings and emotions that we don’t always want to feel.

Our culture so often perpetuates the lie that more is always better. More friends. More time. More money. More house. More recognition. More respect. But when is enough enough? When do we stop the hustle and embrace the simple?

What is it about the tempting buzz of a busy life that draws us in? I find that so many people I know and work with are literally addicted to being busy. And I get it: being busy often leaves presence in the dust, and it can be hard to be present and mindful. Being present brings up feelings and emotions that we don't always want to feel.

Intentionally Busy vs. Unconsciously Busy

Being busy isn’t inherently bad. We all have busier seasons in life than others, seasons when we have to focus on the small things first. But there’s a difference between being busy just for the sake of having a full calendar and being intentionally busy. When getting together with a friend feels more like an obligation than an opportunity to connect, then maybe it’s time to think hard about what’s life-giving vs. life-draining. And that might just mean saying “no” once in awhile.

White Space Requires Saying “No”

Last fall, I was feeling really down. Around Thanksgiving, I realized that my downward spiral was affecting more than just me – it was especially affecting the kind of wife I was. I remember standing in my kitchen one night and telling my husband that I wasn’t in a good place. I was stressed out, lethargic, short-tempered….I was unhappy. And I was busy. Something needed to change. I prayed, I researched, I read, and by the grace of God, stumbled upon Tsh Oxenreider’s Upstream Field Guide.

It felt like a lifeline – a guide that literally walked me through defining my values, my core beliefs, my personal mission statement. How often do we dig deep and think about what we value and why? If someone were to ask you tomorrow what 5 things you valued most in life, would it be easy to answer? How deep would you have to dig?

When I think about what my own values are, they’re crystal clear.

But it’s one thing to know your values – it’s another thing entirely to live your values.

For example, one of the things I value most is authenticity in relationships. And I’ve found that for me, being authentic in my relationships requires plenty of white space. And white space requires saying no. Saying no to the volunteer opportunity, the baby shower, the 12th fundraiser I’ve been invited to, the school picnic, or the happy hour you know you’d enjoy but might just bring you to your breaking point. When I’m running from dance class to happy hour or from church to the baby shower to book club, it’s impossible to be authentic 100% of the time because I’m literally strung out. I’m stretched to my breaking point.

Being authentic requires me to s.l.o.w  d.o.w.n. And you know what? It turns out that I really love living slowly.

What is it about the tempting buzz of a busy life that draws us in? I find that so many people I know and work with are literally addicted to being busy. And I get it: being busy often leaves presence in the dust, and it can be hard to be present and mindful. Being present brings up feelings and emotions that we don't always want to feel.

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06.21.2016

Makin’ Me Happy List – 06/21/16

There are a lot of things in life – both big and small – that make me happy. Have you ever sat down and made a list of what makes you happy? Or tried a Gratitude Journal? From the simple to the spectacular, there is oh-so much about this world of ours to be happy about. I love what BrenĂ© Brown has to say about happiness:

I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.

Amen to this. How often are we waiting for the other shoe to drop? Or holding on so tightly to the small amount of control or power we have that we’re unable to soften to the joy and happiness right in front of us?

I know I’m guilty of it. It takes a lot of intention to focus on the good & happy in our lives.

So for that reason (and because we all need reminders of what makes us happy!), I’m putting together a list of 3 things that are makin’ me happy this week.

How often are we waiting for the other shoe to drop? Or holding on so tightly to the small amount of control or power we have that we’re unable to soften to the joy and happiness right in front of us?  I know I’m guilty of it. It takes a lot of intention to focus on the good & happy in our lives.  So for that reason (and because we all need reminders of what makes us happy!), I’m putting together a list of 3 things that are makin’ me happy this week.

Here’s my Makin’ Me Happy List:

Nespresso VirtuoLine Coffee & Espresso Maker

Wow, this was a game-changer, friends. My lovely sister-in-law gifted this to my husband  us  (let’s be honest) me for my hubs’ birthday, and my life has forever been changed. I know I’m behind the ball on this (as I often am with adopting new gadgets or trends), but this is worth every inch of counter space it takes up. And let me tell you, counter space in my kitchen comes at a premium, so if I’m willing to give something permanent residency, it’s gotta be good.

The froth! And the smoothness! Exclamation point! It makes a darn good cuppa coffee.

The best part? It literally takes 2 minutes from start (pressing a button) to finish (when the mug hits my lips!). How’s that for simple?

When mornings are often hurried and hectic, this is one thing that is making my life simpler and making mama happy. 🙂

The Boss Mom Podcast

I’m a big fan of podcasts, but I’m pretty selective about which ones I listen to, simply because I value my time. So when I listen to podcasts on my way to work or in between errands, I want it to be time well-spent.

I first learned about Dana Malstaff of www.boss-mom.com on Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income Podcast (the name sounds spamm-y, but I promise it’s not: you’ve gotta check it out if you’re an entre/mama/solo-preneur of any sort!). In any case, Dana is the real deal. The Boss Mom movement caters to mamas who are running successful businesses, just getting started, or are somewhere in between by providing support, resources and an inspiring community of other women pursuing their passions while also embracing motherhood.

What I love most about The Boss Mom Podcast is that it’s specifically for working moms. While the focus is primarily on moms running online businesses, there’s a ton of life advice that I pull from this podcast regularly as well. And the goodness doesn’t stop there. Check out the Boss Mom Academy, The Boss Mom Book – The Ultimate Guide to Raising A Business and Nurturing Your Family Like a Pro, the free Trello Training, and as I mentioned before, the amazing community of other mama-preneurs.

Rituals App for iPhone

When the days are long and you’re literally moving from sun-up to sun-down, it can be hard to turn off. One of the things that is currently helping me to wind down and relax at the end of the day is the “Rituals” app on my iPhone. It sounds counter-intuitive to use your phone to wind down when your head hits the pillow, but I love this app.

What I use it for most often is the guided meditation, though it has a number of other goodies like yoga exercises, a magazine, and daily inspiration. You can choose meditations anywhere from 5-20 minutes – all of which are perfect for helping you to slow down, relax and be present (or fall asleep!).

I’m all about tools that make life easier and for me, this is one of them. 🙂


What’s making YOU happy? Comment below and let me know! It could be a gadget, an experience, a book, a place, something salty or something sweet….it could be anything!

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06.19.2016

Father’s Day Reflections: Grace Matters

Today was Father’s Day. It was a day full of celebration and laughter and big hands holding little hands and, for me, lots and lots of reflection. Because I’m super sentimental. And because I’m an INFJ through and through.

It got me thinking about parenthood. About how I had no clue the sacrifices and worry and remarkable love wrapped up in being a parent until I was one myself.

It got me thinking about my husband whose young, adventurous soul reminds me to lighten up when I’m taking life too seriously. Who embraces fatherhood with lightheartedness and humor and adventure. Who is the balance I need when I get too caught up in my own thoughts or feelings or when life feels heavy.

But most of all, it got me thinking about my own father who, despite the worry and angst I’ve caused him over the years, still loves me and my sister fiercely.

Only as I’ve gotten older have I been able to peel back the lens with which I’ve viewed my parents for 30+ years and see them for the real, honest, broken-but-holy people they are…and not the flawless, infallible, dove-white human beings I expected them to be as I was growing up.

With Hindsight Comes Clarity

I look back on my own expectations of my parents as I was coming into adulthood and I’m grateful that they still talk to me. Let alone love me. God bless me when I have two teenage girls of my own under my roof someday.

When I look at my parents today, I see a mirror, a reflection of myself coming more into focus, for better or worse. I’m able to see years of hard work in their hands and joy and laughter in their eyes. And even glimpses of sorrow and weariness once in awhile. Perhaps it’s because I’m a parent myself and have infinitely more grace for those who have walked the parenting journey before me. Or maybe it’s because I’ve matured and I understand that the world revolves less and less around me than I thought it did when I was a teenager. Or perhaps it’s because after having children of my own, I’m capable of loving infinitely more.

Whatever the reason, I see their brokenness, just as it is in me. And I see their holiness, just as it too, is in me.

Today was Father's Day. When I look at my parents today, I see a mirror, a reflection of myself coming more into focus, for better or worse. I'm able to see years of hard work in their hands and joy and laughter in their eyes.

We are all broken AND holy. We are all prideful and humble. We are all greedy and generous. We are all discontent and content. We are all lonely and yet, seek relationship. We are all human. Even our parents.

As I get older, I understand more and more that grace matters.

It matters to those we love and it matters to the stranger asking for money at the stoplight. It matters that we see the person behind the problem. The dignity behind the shame. The kindness behind the hostility.

Today, I’m grateful for my Dad, and I also have grace for my Dad. I see all of the “ands” in my Dad that make him the unique, gifted individual that he is and I’m simply grateful. Happy Father’s Day Dad, and to all dads, everywhere.

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06.14.2016

The Beauty in Letting Go of Control

I’m a planner. Not so much when it comes to the day-to-day, but I’m talking the big “life” plans. I love to dream about my future: living in another country, living in the actual country, having a big family…all of it. I love to have a plan, to know what’s coming next, and to at least feel like I’m in control.

But my reality right now doesn’t include any of those things – we live in a busy neighborhood in a large U.S. city, we are a typical family of 4, working 8-5 jobs, going through the motions of life while trying to do our best to be decent humans. And to be honest, as much as I like to think that I’m in the driver’s seat steering us toward our next move, rarely never am I ever in full control.

We often get caught up in a vicious myth of control. If I do “A,” then “B” will happen. If I eat healthy, I won’t get sick. If I work hard, I’ll get recognized. If I read the parenting books and go to the classes, my kids will turn out ok. But sometimes, B isn’t always a result of A. Sometimes, C or D happens, and we’re stopped dead in our tracks, paralyzed by the truth that our reality doesn’t match our plan.

Letting Go

I hold on tightly to my girls, wanting so badly to pave their future with kindness and gentleness and tolerance. I hold on to them in hopes that I can protect them from the violence which has become an all-too-common occurrence in our world, less shocking anymore than it is numbing.

I hold on to my ego, unable to apologize when I know I’m in the wrong.

Mostly, I hold on to my own plans.

But maybe we need to let go of holding on so tightly. Maybe we need to surrender to the very moment we are in now.

Before I had kids, I used to take the bus to work. I loved my commute to work because I could sit back and relax. I didn’t have to worry about whether there was enough gas in the car or what the best route was because, quite literally, someone else was in the driver’s seat. I simply had to show up. How often do we just show up to life, without expectations or opinions or plans?

No matter how tightly we hold on, the sun will always rise in the east and set in the west. The Earth will always spin.

I’m learning that we gain so much by giving up, even a little. By opening our hands to what is instead of gripping tightly to what is planned. Little by little, I’m learning to loosen my grip and let go of control.

No matter how tightly we hold on, the sun will always rise in the east and set in the west. The Earth will always spin. I'm learning that we gain so much by giving up, even a little. By opening our hands to what is instead of gripping tightly to what is planned. Little by little, I'm learning to loosen my grip and let go of control.

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06.07.2016

16 Resources to Inspire Intentional Living

Living intentionally is important to me. There are so many resources out there, however, that it can sometimes feel overwhelming to know where to start. So, I've been working hard over the past few weeks to curate a list some of my favorite books, podcasts, blogs and apps that encourage intentional, mindful living.

Living intentionally is something oh-so important to me.

There are so many resources out there, however, that it can sometimes feel overwhelming to know where to start.

I’ve been working hard over the past few weeks to put together a list some of my favorite books, podcasts, blogs and apps that encourage intentional, mindful living. These are all personal selections which have inspired me in one way or another, and I’d love to share them with you!

To access the list, sign up for my quarterly Newsletter here.

Once a quarter, you’ll get an email in your inbox with inspiration, encouragement, and practical tools that inspire authentic, intentional living.

I would love, LOVE, LOVE for you to join me!


**If you have friends, family, neighbors (anyone, really!) who you think would enjoy this kind of info, feel free to share this post with them, pin the image above to Pinterest, or share on social media. Social sharing is the biggest compliment you can give!

Related: Chase Less and Embrace More

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06.03.2016

How to Teach Kids Values That Stick: Parenting Beyond the Classes & Books

“Stop kicking your sister! Do we need to leave right this minute?” As we attempt a family dinner out with a 2 and 4 year old.

“It’s not ok to spray people with the sprinkler!” As the unassuming passer-by gets sprayed by the sprinkler as he walks past our house.

“No, you can’t grab our neighbor’s garden tools to play with. Careful, those are sharp!” As my daughter gingerly grabs the garden clippers and swings them through the air.

These are all true stories.

DSC_0889

It’s times like these when I start to feel the parenting overwhelm. I wonder if I’m doing this parenting gig right. Are my kids going to grow up without a basic understanding of manners? Am I raising entitled kids? Why don’t they listen?

But then I remember that they’re 2 and 4.

And that in between the grabbing and kicking and teasing, we talk about why who we are matters more than what we are.

About why it’s important to turn off the water while we’re brushing our teeth. About how we can be a good neighbor and serve in our community. About why it matters that we are kind to one another.

I often think about how to teach values to my girls – I mean, beyond the parenting classes and countless parenting books. How do I strike a balance of holding them tightly, but giving them wings to fly? At 2 and 4, they’re only capable of understanding so much about what’s right and what’s wrong. When the center of your universe is goldfish crackers and glitter pens, understanding values isn’t exactly a priority.

Teaching values happens at the edges of simple moments. It happens on the periphery of goldfish crackers and glitter pens. What I do has a far greater impact on my children than what I say. So instead of worrying about whether I’m doing a good enough job teaching my girls how to be good people, I’m focusing on being a good person myself.

Here are 6 ways to teach kids your values through your actions and not just your words:

1. Serve in your community. This could mean volunteering at a local non-profit, organizing a neighborhood block party, or putting together wound care kits for those in need. 

2. Compost your food and explain to your kids why you don’t throw food scraps in the garbage.

3. Pray at the dinner table.

4. Take the city bus as a family instead of driving to your next outing.

5. Take good care of yourself (without your kids) – do yoga, go for a walk, or take a bath and lock the bathroom door. 🙂

6. Go on dates with your spouse! Hug and kiss in front of your kids! Show that you might actually like each other.

When I think back on how I learned my own values, you know what? I don’t remember a single conversation with my parents about being a kind person, taking care of the environment, growing my faith, or being a good steward in our community. But I do remember going with my parents once a month to a local women’s shelter and serving food. I remember going to church (nearly) every Sunday, and I remember a whole lot of community involvement. I think that’s a pretty good place to start.

Tell me, how do you teach kids values that stick? 

How to Teach Kids Values That Stick

Related: It’s the Simple Stuff They’ll Remember

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05.24.2016

Rooted in Being

I’m a thinker. I over-think, worry, analyze, daydream, plan…think, think, think. It’s exhausting. It’s been a few weeks since I last posted, the reason being that my hubs and I had the opportunity to travel for 10 days, kid-free, thanks to some pretty fantastic family who watched our girls for us. During those 10 glorious days, I had a lot of time to think. And I also had a lot of time to read, to soak up so.many.words and let them rest on my soul.

On this trip, I brought with me a book which I had read before. This was a book which I first read 8 years ago, a book which was put in the vault of books to keep for life. The book, “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle, talks about our thinking, unconscious selves – our egos. Wow, those egos are strong, friends. My ego is strong. And it worries. It worries about what my purpose is, whether I’m a good enough mom, wife, or person in general, how clean my house is, how I can be a more useful human being, how much (or little) time I have to do all-the-things. Oh, how it worries.

Understanding the Truth of Who You Are

But we are not our egos. We are not the worry, the fear, the frustration – or even the mom, the wife or the friend. We are the awareness that is aware of our ego….I know it’s a mouthful, but hear it with me: we are the awareness that is aware of our thoughts, our opinions and our emotions. What a freeing concept, right?! We are not the incessant stream of thoughts that flood our minds every second of every day. When I accept and know that the deeper, true me is not defined by what I do for a living, who others say or believe I am, what popular culture says I should be, what happened in my past, or what I believe “my story” is – I can rest in the truth that I Am. That’s it, I AM. I can honor my thoughts and feelings, but when I accept that I Am, without all the junk, these things lose their heaviness.

“That’s the peace of God. The ultimate truth of who you are is not I am this or I am that, but I Am.”  –Eckhart Tolle

Really knowing that “I Am” takes a lot of presence; it means rooting myself in simply being rather than getting lost in thinking. Not easy to do with toddlers. Not easy to do at work. Not easy to do with my husband, or my to-do list, or my calendar, or the million other things that consume my thoughts and fragment me rather than make me whole.

Being Present

I love this idea, the truth that I Am. But really, how do we be at peace, right now, right where we are, right in the thick of life? How do we make peace when cheerios are stuck to the floor, when office politics consume your work life, when toddlers are in a fit of rage over the pink plate vs. the yellow one, when the car battery dies?

“By making peace with the present moment. The present moment is the field on which the game of life happens. It cannot happen anywhere else. Once you have made peace with the present moment, see what happens, what you can do or choose to do, or rather what life does through you. There are three words that convey the secret of the art of living, the secret of all success and happiness: One With Life. Being one with life is being one with Now. You then realize that you don’t live your life, but life lives you. Life is the dancer, and you are the dance.” –Eckhart Tolle

Beautiful, and yet. I am not above stress, above worry, above judgment, above anger. I am human. We all are. I can accept these parts of me and honor the feelings I feel.

But it’s not just about me, it’s about the people in the ripples of my life, those closest to me, under my own roof, and those who I share a human connection with across the globe. Can I be kinder to those people? Can I overlook the same things in them that are undoubtedly in myself as well? What if we all tried a little harder to look not at each other’s egos, but instead at each other’s essence? The part of us that is made in the image of God. What a kinder, gentler, more peaceful place the world would be.

We are not the worry, the fear, the frustration - or even the mom, the wife or the friend. We are the awareness that is aware of our ego....I know it's a mouthful, but hear it with me: we are the awareness that is aware of our thoughts, our opinions and our emotions. Really knowing that "I Am" takes a lot of presence; it means rooting myself in simply being rather than getting lost in thinking.

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