Character Matters

Kids, in general, are need of a whole lot. I’m not talking about material things or the basic necessities, but what they need from us regarding their character building throughout their life. This is a reminder to not become weary of doing good. Are we being intentional about character training and instilling and modeling the virtues that we as a family stand for? Children, our children, that have been put in our care to be trained and raised to become the adults they will once be, are affected greatly by us. Daily, they need our patience (or at least our best attempt at it), our long-term vision, our teaching and modeling, our talking with them, our understanding, our honesty, our diligence, our hard-working spirit, and our training to teach the value of character. As parents, we are not called to be perfect, we learn as we go, but we can choose to be intentional about what we strive to instill in the lives of our littles while we have the opportunities we do, if we choose.

Training takes time, patience, and endurance. It calls for diligence, intentionally and purposefulness. Strive to teach your children to work hard, to be gracious, and to have character and virtue. We need to know what we stand for and be aware of our character and goals in order to pass it along. ‘You can’t give away what you don’t possess,’ is a saying I try to keep in my forefront. How can I teach my kids to have a gracious heart, or be patient in spirit if I’m not modeling it myself? Oh how they watch and listen, even if we don’t think they do. Can you extend grace to a neighbor, show a random act of kindness to a stranger, put others’ needs above your own and serve someone spontaneously? Character training and building is shaping of the soul inside and outside of the heart. Whether it be manners, how they speak to others, how they open a door for someone at the store, share with others, lend a hand, help bring in a neighbor’s trash cans, speak politely, order at a restaurant, remember to model, model, model. Continue to practice again and again. Don’t be hesitant to practice over and over and over again to help them get it right, and have it become their norm. Over time, they will learn. Beauty and transformation take time and patience. Give grace over and over again. And extend grace not only to your children, but to yourself as well! ~Make It Grow

Yes, Change Can Occur

Things, you, people, circumstances, bad habits, perspectives, marriages, finances, outcomes can change if you choose to admit it, seek wise counsel and put the work in. Are there some things we just don’t have control of? Absolutely. I’m not saying you can do anything and change everybody, and everything in your path, we are not the Creator or determiner of all, obviously, but I’m talking about the things we do have control of, or the ability to have an impact on. This thought came about when my husband and I were talking about our kids’ personalities and the different ways they are wired up, their tendencies, the way they carry themselves etc. In that conversation I remember telling him that I can see one of them struggling with a particular issue later in relationships, and his response is what sparked my thought to write on this topic. Rather than just saying, well that’s just how she is, being the fixer that he is, he said, “Well, since we’re aware of it and see how it might negatively affect her, or cause some struggles for her, let’s be intentional about it and coach her along, give her the tools to work on it now.” Rather than just sitting in it, he reminded me to deal with it. Usually this would come naturally and we’d nip it, but for some reason I was just resting in it, saying in my head, well that’s just how she is, it’s how she is wired up. Be intentional about not masking, covering up and burying things, deal with it, change can happen. We do this sometimes when we stay in the zone of thinking, it’s just how we are, or it’s just how it is.

It’s a goal and intention of ours to get the tools and wisdom to help equip ourselves in areas of weakness, or where we need growth. We each have weaknesses, and we can just rest in saying it’s just how we are, or we can choose to better those weaknesses. I’m big on looking ahead, looking forward, searching for wise counsel toward someone who has already walked these waters. Whether it’s for guidance, role playing with our kids, or for myself, I try to look to a person whom I look up to and made it past the waters I’m currently in. If you feel like your marriage is stuck, it’s not! Look forward, it doesn’t have to be where it is, look for those who are further along, who raised kids and made it out of those trying and demanding toddler years, or the tween or teen attitudes you’re battling. We can sit in it, or we can get tips and tricks from those who already walked in it. I’m not saying you can wipe the attitude away, but maybe someone can give you a fresh perspective or some words of wisdom to deal with it differently. I think sometimes we just stay, or feel stuck in what we are in, but the reality is we can do something about, what we can do something about. Sometimes we need to be coached along or we need to role play how to deal with the neighbor or tough co-worker, or spouse. You’ve got a ton of people around you who probably have a depth of knowledge and experience, but if we bottle it all in it’s hard to surface and deal with it. My husband and I don’t come out and blast things we might be working through with us or the kids, but we seek counsel from books, or wise people we look up to. If your mindset is, it’s just how it is, I challenge you to take a moment to rethink. Do you have control of it, can you change it? You might need some coaching along, it might take you humbling yourself to admit an area of weakness, but that’s where growth happens. If it’s finances, your attitude, your marriage, a tough parenting season, whatever it might be you’re dealing with, if you do nothing about it, nothing will change. I think back and wonder how different our life would be if we hadn’t done this or that, or gotten honest about things we needed to work on. Get it out, seek wise counsel, start working on it. It’s a choice, and remember nothing changes if nothing changes.

Maybe it’s for a Different Purpose

I talk about perspective a lot, and it’s because I truly believe it matters. It can change your daily mode and outlook each and every day if you choose. It’s a choice, your choice. It’s not always easy, but it takes intentionality and practice in order to make it a rhythm and habit to become a norm, your norm. Something we say in our home is, practice makes permanent. So if you are practicing for yourself, you better believe your tribe will catch it too. When you start seeing the world, battles you’re facing, stresses, tough relationships, or frustrations, with a different lens, it helps take your focus off of the negative and enables you to see it as an opportunity. It may be an opportunity for you, but what if it’s for someone else?

I know it’s easier said than done, believe me! I have post-its and sayings all over my house, mirrors, my car etc. because I need the coaching and training to help me not get wrapped up in the negative, stresses, or the mud we might be walking in, or through. Let’s say there’s a co-worker that’s just difficult, or a child that’s just pushing your buttons beyond return, financial stresses, you get it. What if in that moment you imagine putting on glasses with yellow lenses, and you’re able to see it from a different angle, or perspective, able to see the bigger picture and purpose. What if you took a moment to breathe and just think about what lesson might need to be learned? Or what if you paused and asked God, the one who perfectly created you and knows just how to get your attention, how He might be shaping or refining you during this moment, or better yet season. Or what if it has nothing to do with you, and someone else needs your prayer, or needs you to respond in love and give them hope? Next time you know you’re entering a tough situation, pause, think and ask what the purpose is, what His purpose is, and how you could be used to grow, be refined, or make a difference for someone else. ~Make It Grow

Shield and Protect, but Let Growing Pains Happen Too

We love our babies more than we could ever vocalize, right? Like we would jump in front of a car and risk our own life for them kind of sacrificial love. It’s a type of love that we are unable to put into words kind of love, you get it. We have so much love for them that it hurts our hearts to see our kids in pain or muddle through tough waters, but we know, as mature and seasoned adults that bumps and valleys are a normal part of life. Our children will need to be ready and equipped to face their own bumps as life goes on. The truth is, life will go on despite of the hurdle that we need to persevere through. Are we letting our kids navigate through the growing pains to help them gain the necessary coping skills for the bumps they will inevitably face during their life journey? I’m an optimist on most days, so I by no means mean this in a negative tone to see the bad, but let’s face it, the better we allow our kids to navigate and coach them along, the better equipped they will be in the future to deal with what comes their way. We can’t bail them out of every rocky road or hurt feeling, we need to equip and guide them, role play and model the correct responses and be careful not to remove or fix it for them. Obviously it depends on the age and severity of the situation, but for normal growing pains that come their way, remember, growth happens when pain and struggles occur. Think about it as an adult. Where there is pain, there is gain, right? Most of the time when things get tough (usually once we have gotten out of it) we reflect and know that we are stronger than when we first faced the struggle. When things get hard you grow, and perseverance is real. When, not if, you go through the next tough patch, you will be more confident knowing that you’re that much stronger because of what you endured. You remember what you handled and what you got through last time, so your mind and body know you will persevere through it. This is not to say don’t protect them and look out for their best interest by any means, but it’s simply a moment to think twice next time. Am I allowing them to work through the situation and make it out of the tangle they are in? Am I coaching them along, or am I enabling and bailing them out so they don’t have to experience the hard, in turn, hindering them from gaining the stamina they could be experiencing?

I look back now and then and think about my childhood, maybe you do too, and I reflect on what which memories and experiences I want to leave behind and out of my mind, and which I want to take and use for my own mothering journey, my one life I have to instill and help influence my kiddos. Only some of you know what my childhood was like- so much greatness and gratitude, yet at the same time hurdles I personally had to navigate through for sure. Bumps that my parents couldn’t bail me out of even if their hearts wanted to, so they had to teach me how to deal with it. We role played, they coached me and were my biggest cheerleaders when tears wanted to come flowing out like a river, or when I wanted to avoid the stings. The looks, the stares, the name calling, the internal feelings of hurt I stuffed deep down were real and ongoing, but they were dealt with not avoided or fixed for me. I was coached and guided on how to deal with it. Oh how grateful I am for the strength and stamina that was gained throughout those formative years, they carry over into life as it goes on. One of these days I will post a pic and story of those struggles, but for now, this is where my heartfelt post is coming from. I love my kids more than words can ever articulate, as you do yours. So if it seems I’m allowing my kids to navigate through a tough place, that’s ok, I know that they are strengthening those muscles as I coach them along and help them work through it. Don’t under estimate what kind of equipping each mama does in her home behind closed doors. I am sure that we each do our best and know our babies’ hearts better than any other mama. And remember that letting them chart through some rough waters with you as their cheerleader or coach, that voice of reason and wisdom, helps them produce that stamina, strength and perseverance they will inevitably use in life. Keep going at it mamas, you’re making a difference every day!

~Make it Grow

Be True to You

This is for you mamas who are in the trap of letting others, and their comments or opinions, dictate your self-worth, or make you question your abilities in the role you possess. Your heart is beautiful, and your intentions are rooted in love for the ones you deeply care about more than anyone else. I’m sure there has been a time or two when I have been talked about for going against the grain, or against someone else’s preferences, it’s inevitably going to happen in life, right? There’s a strength and boldness that clothes you when you are grounded in knowing who you are, and why you do what you do. Not everyone is going to know your heart strings, your morals and values, or understand why you make the choices you make. There’s a whole lot of choices you make in the role you have, like deciding what school your kids go to, whether you homeschool, work part-time or full-time, stay at home, what your kids are involved in, how you discipline your kids, what people you associate with, how you spend your time, and the list goes on. It’s inevitable that assumptions or opinions will arise, but sister, you do what you know is best for you and your family; your tribe.

When we know who we are, why we do what we do, what we value, what we stand for, why we prioritize what we do, we then can be confident and comfortable in the walk we walk. There’s a freedom that comes with being content and sure of the choices we make, so don’t doubt your worth and the role you have. Catch yourself in those weak moments when you feel yourself falter, or change to conform to please someone else’s expectations or norms. Ground yourself and be true to who you are, what you do, and how you give to your family day in and day out. You know your heart, your efforts, your goals, your expectations, your intentions, your mission, so don’t let other people’s comments saturate your heart with that junk, or make you discredit the job you’re doing. Be true to you and your tribe.

~Make it Grow

Maintenance Keeps You in Alignment

Don’t wait until it’s too late to start working on your marriage. It hurts my heart when I hear about couples separating, or just feeling ‘done’ with it all and their heart is checked out. I wish I could help people before they get to that point, or help them once they vocalize that they are there, but the reality is that most of the time the issues aren’t surfaced until one person is too checked out and not willing to get back to restoration. I want to give marriages in that trench hope to work through it, just like you would tell your kids when things get tough. Are we practicing what we preach? When we endure hard things, we persevere through them! And then we grow and strength is gained during those trials. We then are more equipped for when, not if, things get hard in life. Let’s teach our kids and friends that it’s inevitable that we will face hard things in life, it’s not being pessimistic, it is being realistic, so put your boots on and work through it!

Seek wise counsel, identify problems, get to the roots of the issues, invest your time and energy on it, give it all you’ve got, communicate, make it a priority. You wouldn’t give up on your kids, right? You would, and you do, push through for the sake of love. You love anyway, it’s a sacrificial, selfless love that you offer your kids, but do you do the same for your marriage? I pondered getting into counseling at one point in my life, but that went out the window, so here I am writing about it because I have a heart for you. Those of you who think you are the only ones working through differences, seasons of marriage that aren’t bubbling over, or facing stumbling blocks of communication between the man you once loved and adored, you are not alone, and it’s a normal part of the marriage journey. For many, life has happened and you’re as far from him as the acquaintance you try to avoid making eye contact with at the grocery store. Sometimes we don’t know what’s really going on to be able to help our friends and neighbors because the reality is, it’s kept behind closed doors so most of the time we aren’t aware of the hurdles people are climbing until it’s too late. We see people on social and think most marriages are glorious and picture perfect, then the comparison game kicks in. Stop it, focus on you and your marriage and work on getting it back to where it once was before life happened (bills, kids, whining toddlers, teenage attitudes, sports, homework, sibling rivalry, the divide and conquer) you get it. Adjustments need to be made friends, factors have changed along your journey, so do some maintenance. Of course things have changed, take steps to get back in alignment. Reconnect and refocus.

Maybe this applies to you, or someone you love that’s close to you and you don’t know how to help them get to the point of restoring their marriage. When I hear about marriages ending, I think and wonder what could they have done to work on it before it got to that point. Was he keeping it in, bottling up feelings of disrespect, was he frustrated at the lack of his needs being met, tired of not being wanted? Or was she spiraling with feelings of desperation, wondering just how long she could handle feeling like he still doesn’t ‘get’ her after all this time? She had told him hundreds of times over the years she just wants to talk and converse with him. If only he would listen to her, communicate and hear her out, or maybe she yearned for him to plan a date once a month, forget that, even once a year would have kept her holding on and given her hope that he still loved her. Each marriage has its own story, beauty and trials, but when we make it a priority to schedule a tune up and do maintenance checks along the way, we strengthen ourselves and our marriage.

Often with the busyness of life, our marriage gets the short end of the stick and we slowly grow apart. Growth can’t happen when it’s not being watered and tended to. Yes, you can restore it, don’t give up! You were once head over heels in love with each other, giddy, and anxiously waiting for the next date. What do you need to do right now to spark that once lit fire? Do you need to have conversation, like uninterrupted carved out time for you and your man to talk, or laugh, or just go have some fun? Let’s face it ladies, we are the party planners and the coordinators of most of what goes on, so call that babysitter, call your sweet friend who will watch or kids, or swap you for a date she can take next week when you watch her kids, and plan it. Friends, at one point you both were being intentional about you two and making your love grow. The time you spent together looked different then, yes, but you can get back there. Don’t give up hope, rewind to 25, maybe even 45, chapters ago and remember what you two used to do when you spent time together. Write some of the things down, I’m sure it will bring a smile to your face, and your man’s too. Ask him to help you make that list, not to rub it in his face about how it’s not, but to remember and rekindle what was, and work on getting back to that place. What brought you two together and made you each feel loved? Share, discuss, then listen, truly listen to learn and apply, don’t just listen to reply. Try to remember where your heart was back when you were dating. Start somewhere, write him a note, give him a compliment, give it a try. ~Make it grow.

Why Wait?

Imagine you were told you had one year left to live, or perhaps even five. I’d assume many of us would instantly make a bucket list and anxiously begin to check those items off! I bring this up not to be sad and solemn about it, especially when this is some people’s real reality and news they’ve been given, but to realize that this is reality, we just don’t know yet. Truly, our time here on Earth in not guaranteed, so don’t miss those opportunities. I’d assume you’d make some phone calls, or possibly reallocate your time and what you choose to spend it on, maybe you would find it in your heart to forgive someone to free you of that pain it is causing, you might call that childhood friend who was kind to you that brings a smile to your face when you teach your own kids about befriending the kid on the playground who plays alone, maybe you would even chip away at a goal that you’ve had on your mind, or maybe you’d reach out to a sweet teacher you’ve always remembered, or maybe you’d buy the mama doing her mama juggle in your neighborhood a Starbucks, or bring a neighbor’s trash cans in, maybe you would volunteer where you’ve been feeling that heart tug to help, maybe you’d sit down and work on that puzzle your kid has been asking you to do the last month, or maybe you’d share with someone how they’ve made an impact on your life.

Is our time guaranteed? My purpose of this post is to encourage you to reach into your past, memories, and highlights and share with those who might not ever know how they made an impact on your life, or how they are currently making life a little sweeter. I sure don’t want to wait to tell people these things at their funeral! But really, last year I went to a funeral and heard all these amazing stories and ways this sweet woman impacted lives around her, and I wondered how many of them actually shared these deep heart feelings and impacts with her while she was alive. Why hold it in when you have the breath right now to share? What if it would brighten someone’s day, or bring a smile to their face at a time when they needed one, or perhaps it might encourage that person to do the same for others. Words matter. Maybe you have ideas that dance around in your head, or memories that bring a smile to your face that are stuffed down deep into our hearts and you keep it in when you could be sharing it. Why not now, why wait?

A few months ago my husband had a presentation he was preparing for that required him to speak about a few people who influenced and shaped who he is today. In the almost twenty years we’ve done life together, I learned something new about him that day. I was teary-eyed hearing about a former supervisor who had impacted his life, and how his uncle shaped his view and value of taking the time to put others first when you enter a room. Later I asked him if he had ever shared these deep thoughts and impacts with these people who may otherwise have no idea how they made an imprint on his life, because now these qualities are part of his legacy that affect me and our tribe.

Oh friends, life is precious! It’s truly a privilege to be alive and breathing, may you make the most of it and share. I enjoy routine and schedule and find that I accomplish more when it’s on my calendar, or I see a note in my journal. So, I’ve decided to make Wednesdays my day where I take time to think of what I can share with someone who has made a difference in my life. I’ll call it Words on Wednesdays. Join me, and let’s do it while we have the chance! You’ve got one go at this life and since tomorrow is not guaranteed, take each day for what it’s worth. ~Make it grow