Fight to Be First: Tackling Difficult Conversations With Your Kids

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This is a contributor piece I wrote for Portland Moms Blog. Read the full article HERE

I’m constantly breaking up arguments between my kids about who can be first. Whether they are running to the van to see who gets to ride shotgun, or pushing to the front of the line to order their ice cream cone, there is an urgency they feel to fight for what they want. This behavior is not condoned and results in a consequence, mostly due to their approach of fighting their way to the front. But, this idea of fighting to be first has been on my mind lately, and from a parenting standpoint I feel a sense of urgency to address difficult conversations with my children before someone else gets to it first.

In an age where information is available with the click of a button, and dialogue between peers is happening on the playground, the importance of tackling difficult conversations head-on with our kids is vital. With pressing topics ranging from natural disasters, death, divorce, sex, and financial instability, we as parents need to be ready to address these issues with concern and care.

Here are four tips to help navigate these difficult conversations. 

1. Find Out What They Already Know

Our children offer clues to what is occupying their brain space. When they start asking questions or making comments about a new topic, it is an invitation to press in. Lead with a question and ask, “what have you heard?” regarding the difficult conversation at hand. Their answer will provide a grid for what they understand and what misconceptions need to be corrected.

2. Keep It Simple

My children range in age, from 4 to 9 years old. A difficult conversation with my oldest looks different than those with my youngest. Occasionally, one simple sentence may suffice, while other times an in-depth conversation is needed. Listen for where your child has worry or concern, and offer reassurance. Be first to validate their concern and remind them that they are healthy, safe, and loved.

Continue reading the entire article over at Portland Mom's Blog

The Importance of Spending Intentional Time With Your Children

This is a contributor piece I wrote for Portland Moms Blog. Read the entire article HERE

It is 2:30 p.m. The door flings open as my three older children rush into the house in a frenzy. Backpacks, shoes, and socks fly off bodies at warp speed. They race into the kitchen devouring the first food they can find and collapse on the couch. It happens in a flurry. Sitting down on the couch next to them I lead with a question in hopes of making a connection. Some days I am met with warm affections, and other days not so much. I’ve found that establishing a plan of action to spend intentional time with each of my children is vital to keeping our relationships strong. As a parent of four children with different personalities, I’ve had to get creative. A one-size-fits-all approach won’t work. I’ve discovered four ways of intentionally connecting with my children that fosters depth in our relationships.

1. Scheduled Dates

Setting aside intentional time for a date with each one of our children has become routine practice in our home. This builds expectation and excitement for how we spend our time together. Conversations surrounding the details of our date include the places we will go, the types of food we will eat, and the things we will discuss. With multiple children in the family, we aim to get dates on the calendar for each child within the month. This builds trust and each child feels celebrated.

2. Impromptu Outings

Mothers knows that there are seasons when one child needs more TLC than the others. Intentional time with a parent is the salve applied to a flare up. And when situations like this arise in our family, we look for opportunities to provide that time of connection. We include that child into our everyday routine tasks. This may look like tagging along to the grocery store, getting the oil changed in the car, going on a walk/jog or returning books to the library. This intentional time together provides space to recalibrate and connect, reestablishing stability to the relationship......

Continue reading the rest of the article at Portland Moms Blog

Ought and Expectation

This is a contributor piece I wrote for True and Noble Blog. Read the full article HERE.

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The last of all the car doors shut. Thrusting the gear into park, I let my foot off the brake. The kids all rushed inside and although I typically follow suit, I waited. Leaning my head into the steering wheel, I sat there in the quiet. The silence broke with the sound of my own voice. It started as a scream and turned into a wail. In the confines of my locked car, I let the walls come down. The weight of ought and expectation on my shoulders made it easy to resist picking up the pieces. I was tired. 

This wall was not made of brick and mortar. It was more the likes of empty cardboard boxes. This barrier that surrounded me, was doing anything but creating a secure boundary. So, on this particular afternoon, I decided to dismantle my attempt at seclusion and protection. The act of releasing all the tension I carried felt in drastic contrast to the white knuckle grip that held my heart; my measly attempt to keep things looking upright and orderly. 

Willingly I surrendered my agony and aspirations that day. Ought and expectation were laid on the altar. The weight of being a “put together” woman, wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend, the responsibility of being the primary care giver for 4 humans, and the longing for my own personal significance and accomplishments were laid to rest. I carried the torch of ought and expectation, one in each hand, for far too long. I held them proudly at first, confident that it was up to me to light the path. It was my duty. But these torches I was holding felt heavy and cumbersome. The flames of strife and comparison had even burned my hand a time or two. I couldn’t see past the bright light that burned in front of me. It is fair to say I had lost my way.

Continue reading the entire article over at True and Noble 

Admitting Need: Putting an End to Surviving Motherhood Alone

This is a contributor piece I wrote for Portland Mom's Blog. Read the full article HERE

It was the end of January and my twins were six weeks old. Although it took most of the morning to get the three of us dressed and fed, we finally made our way out the door. I was meeting my friend Catalina to go shopping at the outlet mall just one town over. She, too, had just entered into motherhood. Three weeks prior she had given birth to her first baby, a girl. We had enjoyed being pregnant alongside each other, and were now ready to enjoy our first mother/daughter outing. Admitting need for a change in scenery and a break in the monotonous schedule made way for this midweek adventure. Our time was limited, for reasons related to nursing and napping, so we hit the road running with high hopes of newfound freedom. 

Visions of sipping my latte while listening to music filled my mind, but these longings never materialized. Both babies lost their pacifiers just minutes into the trip and the wailing was at full volume. I couldn’t reach them while still driving safely and it infuriated me. Their crying continued the entire drive and my own tears soon followed. Motherhood had my number.

....Continue reading the entire article at Portland Mom's Blog

I See His Face

This piece was featured as part of the Lent Devotional series for True and Noble.

Mary Magdalene was the first person to see Jesus after He was resurrected from the dead. And Mary knew Jesus. She followed Jesus. She worshipped Jesus.  And yet, on this day when she encountered the resurrected Lord on the road, she didn’t know it was Him. The scriptures tell us that Mary Magdalene was surprised. “She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize Him” John 20:14. She was shocked and surprised by this encounter. It was unexpected. She knew and loved Jesus and then suddenly, in a moment, she saw Him more fully. 

I can so relate to Mary. I too, am looking for Jesus. I expect Him to show up in a way that I will surely recognize it is Him. But, I’ve come to understand that I cannot predict or even prepare for His next move. He has proven to be different and better than I could imagine.

I so clearly remember the moment I saw Jesus more fully. I was walking through a season of grief and was searching for answers. I was grasping to find hope. I emptied myself out and let my lips speak the words of the letters I had written on the steps of my soul. As I poured out this offering, Jesus met me there. I released to Him my unborn baby and all the hopes I had held in my mother heart. With my eyes closed, it was as if a movie was being played just for me to see. The scene began to unfold and this is what I saw. Jesus was standing next to me. With tear filled eyes I handed over my precious child into His arms. When I looked at Jesus’ face, I noticed that His eyes looked just like mine. Eyes filled with tears that poured over onto His cheeks. Jesus wept with me. He was with me in my suffering. I was not alone. His presence brought me peace and surprisingly, hope began to break through the fallow ground of my heart. 

I saw His face and I will never be the same.  

The God Who Rescues

This is a piece I wrote for True and Noble Lent Devotional Series

My friend has a piece of art displayed in her home with the words “he rescued me because he delights in me” written on it. It is portion of Psalm 18:19. It hangs in her kitchen and every time I’ve seen it the phrase lingers in my heart for a few days after. I now live in a different state than my friend and it’s been almost a year since I’ve been in her home. Yet, just recently I thought of that piece of art and the truth in those words. So I decided to lean in and discover the original story behind that passage of scripture. 

He led me to a place of safety, he rescued me because he delights in me” Psalm 18:19. Turns out these words were penned by David and written to God. The backdrop of the story is that David has been running for his life, fighting to stay alive. He has literally been hiding in caves to find refuge from the enemies that have been relentlessly pursuing Him. David has been a hunted man for a long time, for 8 years. He has been depending on God to deliver him, and on the day David writes these words, deliverance has come. 

David’d enemies are defeated. Saul is defeated. The battle is finally over. And now, David can enter into that open space, the place of safety that has been made just for him. David speaks with assurance and confidence about the nature of God. There is an invitation for us to know God like David did. We too, can look to God in adversity, in the midst of the small closed off space that feels dark and hopeless, and know that it is not the end. Our God will not only deliver us, but also invites us to live into the open spaces. God does not leave his work half done. He is the God who rescues.