Worthy Warriors

I work in an industry that prey’s on the insecurities of women.

“Lose 30lbs in thirty days…”
“Get those defined abs…”
“Build a bigger booty…”

It’s never said, but the whispers in our mind fills in the end: “And THEN you will be worthy.”

And that’s just the fitness side. Come over to the business side with me, we have a whole other list of things to offer to those searching for their worth:

“Earn six-figures from home..”
“Become a social media influencer with thousands of followers…”
“Climb the ranks in the company, we’ll put medals around your neck and your name up in lights…”
“Save your family from debt & poverty…”

And then, you’ll be worthy.

But it’s not just my industry.
In school it was “get the grades” or “have the friends” or “win the sports”.
In church it was “obey the rules” or “be on the service team or worship team.”
In marriage: “be the perfect wife.”
In motherhood: “play with your kids, only with wooden toys, in an all white, spotless nursery and have a pantry stocked with organic snacks.”

Do it all, do it perfectly, and look smoking hot while you do.

And we hustle and we buy and we search.
Maybe if I get this concealer or that curling iron? Maybe this diet will work – or that fancy organizer will help? I just need to read one more blog post about a minimalist wardrobe and it will all finally fall into place because the reason my life is crazy is because it takes too long for me to get dressed in the morning. Right??

We end up a discouraged, disenchanted mess. We crave self-care, but the truth is we are the generation with the most conveniences, free time and disposable income of all time, and yet we are constantly exhausted and anxious.

The more I dig into this in my own life and the more conversations I have with others – the more I realize – we are exhausted because we are constantly STRIVING for our worth (even if the exhaustion is simply the mental stress we cary around, and the never ending list of things we SHOULD be or be doing).

We are lonely because running around trying to PROVE our worth is more important to us that slowing down and simply being with people and giving them the opportunity of seeing us in our imperfections.

The Worthy Project (a virtual group I led where women from various backgrounds shared their stories of how they struggled to feel worthy and ways they are growing and healing from that) has confirmed for me what a systemic problem this is. But honestly I didn’t even need to host a group or hear from other’s to know that the temptation to put my worth in things like:

  • my weight
  • my skin
  • my gender
  • my ability to please others
  • my home
  • my bank account
  • my status at work
  • my kid’s success or behavior

…can’t continue.

The path to healing isn’t easy. I am only just a short way down this path, but here is what it has looked like for me so far:

  • realizing the problem
  • being wrecked by it and seeing it everywhere in my life
  • feeling overwhelmed and having no idea where to begin to heal
  • seeking out truth, reminding myself where my worth lies
  • having conversations with other women on a similar journey
  • go back to step one, repeat

This journey to worthiness is one of belief and mastering the mind. It is slow and deliberate, it is painful and powerful.

But it is important.

I have this glorious vision of who I want to be – and it isn’t a picture of the perfect mom with a thriving business who dresses in the latest fashion and always has something delicious cooking (I wish).

My vision is of a worthiness warrior. Who shows up for her life – unafraid of failure, unafraid of other’s opinions. Bold – yet compassionate.

A woman who can step on the scale, see a weight gain and look at her self square in the mirror and smile and say “beautiful.”

A woman who can sit with a child throwing a tantrum in a messy room and take a deep breath and remember: “I am doing the best I can.”

A woman who can work hard toward a business goal and in the end fall short, and hold her head up high and say: “I am enough.”

A woman who can make mistakes, not be approved of by everyone and still sing out: “worthy.”

That’s who I’m fighting to become. And I can still help women get healthy and love their bodies (ps- the most sustainable health changes come from a place of self-love rather than self-loathing) and I can still help women build incredible business from home – because the most successful coaches are broken women on a journey of healing.

It’s not the industry, church, culture or school that’s the problem, it’s us. When we place our worth where it never should have been – but here’s the great thing. Our wonderful heavenly Father – He makes beauty out of ashes – he takes hearts of stone and turns them into hearts of flesh. He gives us a new identity – He speaks life over us – He reminds us WHO we are. He picks us up, broken and damaged, with the words “Not ENOUGH” still ringing in our ears and He says “Mine.” “Beloved.” “Daughter.”

My confidence is not in my ability to heal myself, but His truth setting me free.

So, are you ready to dive into that truth and freedom with me and become a Worthiness Warrior?

Here’s my plan for the next three months:

Read Always Enough | Never Too Much devotional daily.
Send one message a day to another woman, reminding her of her worth.
Pray daily for the LIGHT and LOVE of Christ to break through the darkness.
Practice gratitude daily.

Will this cure me? Probably not overnight….but I’ve been doing this for the past two months already – and I have seen a huge difference in my thoughts and my emotions. I have seen the light piercing through the darkness. I have seen gratitude well up in the middle of bitter circumstances. I have seen other women brighten as I remind them of their worth. I have cried tears of a prisoner set free as I read the life giving words in my devotional.

I think I’m on the right path.

Setting Goals as a Mom

How to set goals as a mom when it seems nothing gets done.

Hi, I’m Vanessa, and I’m an overachiever.

I was always told that my overachiever-ness was a character flaw. That deep down I was trying to impress others and get approval from them instead of God.

But now I’m older and wiser and I know that’s not it at all.

I’m an overachiever because I just LOVE working. I love creating, I love getting ideas and obsessing over them and working on them and seeing them come to life. I get so much INNER pleasure from creating things that help others to make their lives better.

It’s who I was created to be.

Sure, there might be some selfishness in me (actually I know for a fact there is a lot!) – not denying, but that doesn’t mean my love for DOING THINGS is in and of itself wrong.

So…FREEDOM there for you sister, if you are right there next to me in your love of getting things DONE.

That AMAZING feeling you get from seeing that to-do list checked off.
The inability to sleep-in, even when you can, because there’s stuff to DO!!
Always needing to be working on something when you are watching TV because TV just isn’t productive enough.
I’m right there with you sister.

When I became a mother – and a mother of three – in three years, my entire world was turned UPSIDE DOWN. In many ways, but the one that was the most disorienting for me was not ever feeling like I was getting ANYTHING done. Ever.

I was working, all day long.
I was exhausted.
I was simultaneously bored to death with the mundane tasks of caring for small children and overwhelmed at the thought of adding anything else.

Setting goals seemed laughable for me. I can barely take a shower – please.

However, let me suggest that setting goals as a mother can actually work – the goals just need to be tweaked a little.

Here’s what I’ve done that has helped me feel like I’m moving toward SOMETHING even on the hardest, most “unproductive” days.

1.Start with the end in mind

What is my end goal for my children? Do I just want to keep them alive? Do I want to teach them a certain way of life, or to love a certain thing? Do I want them to know a certain body of information?

I had a general idea of what I wanted for my kids when I first started, but over time I’ve more clearly defined it and the more I do, the better I feel at the end of each day. Let me give an example.

One of my goals for my children is that they would work hard.

When I focus on this goal it transforms many of my daily tasks. Picking up toys all day long and including my kids in the clean up time – no matter how boring or tedious or painful it feels (ever tried to get a 3 year old, 5 year old and 7 year old to clean up? painful!) it is no longer just a thing I do as a mom…it is a tactic, an action item, I am implementing to reach my goal of producing hard working children.

The hard thing about motherhood is that it is SUCH a LONG game! We are talking about goals that may not show for 18 YEARS (or more)!! And it’s so easy to throw in the towel – to do what’s easy, to complain over the soul-sucking, menial, redundant tasks that take all our time and seem to accomplish NOTHING.

The only way I keep my sanity (and whether or not I have actually kept my sanity is up for debate) is by constantly reminding myself WHY I am doing the things I do – and what goal these tasks are walking me toward.

Don’t back away from setting goals mama! I know it seems useless – but instead of setting goals like: “Clean the cushions on the couch” Go BIGGER! Sometimes, teaching our kids hard work will involve cleaning the cushions, but sometimes, it’s just folding that laundry that is sitting ON the cushions and doing it with joy.

2. Celebrate EVERY tiny victory

And I mean EVERY single one. Setting goals and working toward them is hard, and discouraging, and the ONLY way we keep going is if we bring some joy to it – and for me joy = progress!!

I celebrate EVERY win – if my kid doesn’t throw a tantrum when I ask them to clean up their toys – I basically start dancing around the house. My kids love it, and it helps me to LOOK for what is going right instead of focusing on all the things that are going wrong. (why is it so easy to see the wrong?)

I celebrate this in any and every way I can. Sometimes I text my husband, my mom, my friends, post on Facebook, dance around, give stickers to everyone (including myself).

Do not underestimate the power of a pat on the back.

3. Know where your worth lies

I’ve had to fight so hard (and still do) to believe this, so when I write these words, I NEED to hear them as badly as anyone: “My worth is not in how much I achieve or how good of a mother I am.”

My worth and my value is MINE and it is SECURE because I am a daughter of God – made in His image. I am deeply loved and valued and I am precious. Nothing need be added to increase that. On the days I blow it, do nothing, snap at the kids, get in an argument with my husband – I am no less loved than on the days when I am Martha freaking Stewart and do all the things.

I have little notes all around my house telling me: “You are beautiful” “You are powerful” “Your smile lights up the room” “God’s favor rests with you”

I need to see them. I need to believe them. I need to be able to pick myself up after a long hard day and say: “I AM ENOUGH”

I need to because it’s my actions not my words that will transfer to my children and if I want their inner dialogue to be one of acceptance and worth – mine HAS TO BE.


These three concepts have revolutionized my goal setting as a mother. I have started with the end (and I mean, 18+ years down the road, end) in mind, I have placed long term value to short term, menial tasks. I have learned to look for and celebrate every single victory to keep me moving, energized and focused. And I am continuously placing and re-placing my worth and value in who God says I am.

We can set goals mamas!! We can run towards them!! We can run after those goals with FREEDOM not condemnation – because we are valued and loved by God and called by HIM to mold and nurture some amazing little humans.


Here is a worksheet I created for myself to write down three to four character traits I want to produce in my sweet babies and then a few actions that will move me toward in that long term goal. I keep it to just a few character traits (sometimes it’s just ONE) and I switch it out every three months. I can’t focus on EVERY area with my kids, ALL the time, but taking each quarter of the year and focusing on a few areas, helps me and the kids be focused and intentional.

I hope this serves you as we labor together in this task of motherhood.

Character Trait goals download

 

Creating a Life-giving Morning Ritual

Creating a life giving morning ritual

Why do we love mornings?

It’s a fresh new start.
There’s hope.
A sun rises.
The potential is exhilarating.
We have awoken to a brand new 24 hours in which we can do almost anything!!

Why do we hate mornings?

Not enough sleep.
All we can see are the troubles.
Nothing in the day ahead looks enjoyable.
We feel hopeless.
In a rut.
Overwhelmed.

It’s not the time of day that makes a difference, it’s how we view life on a whole that affects how we do EVERYTHING – yes, even wake up.

As a mom with four kids, I certainly know the pain of the alarm, or the baby, waking me up and my entire body is so tired it’s almost PAINFUL.

I know the depression that feels like an enormous weight, pushing me into the bed and making it near impossible to get up and face another day.

When each morning is full of dread, or stress, or rushing or thoughts of “not enough” it’s only natural that the rest of the day would follow suit.

We wonder why our days seem to pass in a haze of discouragement and disappointment and feeling like we are always running, always exhausted, but never getting anywhere.

Am I getting too deep for you? A little too dark?

This blog post is not about the darkness, it’s about the light.

If I’m honest, that’s what I love the most about mornings, the light. It’s different than evening light, it’s soft, and fresh, and comes straight at me. Not shining overhead, but piercing up over the horizon.

When I hit that pain point in my life, where I was constantly running and doing and tired and beat, and I knew something had to change, I picked ONE spot to focus on. (I could have picked many, MANY areas of chaos in my life, but I’m learning that it’s more effective when I only choose one) That spot was: “mornings”.

I figured, if I could get a little burst of energy in the morning, maybe I could run into my day with some speed and momentum. Maybe I’d rise and shine, instead of shuffle and caffeinate.

The first thing I did was pick the time I wanted to wake up at, and confidently set my alarm for that time.

“Perfect!” I thought, “this will be easy! 5am, here I come!”

Only, it wasn’t.

Apparently there are these things called sleep cycles that are pretty strong and ingrained in our minds ….so a little beeping that I could very easily turn off, wasn’t enough.

I determined not to give up and over time I found tools and tips and resources to help me the night before and the morning of.

But the biggest thing I started to do was gratitude. I practiced gratitude when I went to bed – writing down three things I was thankful for. Three SPECIFIC things.

Going to bed thinking, “Wow, what a great life I have!” started to change my brain!

The next morning when my alarm went off, I was more excited to LIVE.

Then I did my morning gratitude…thinking of three things each morning that I was thankful and writing them down, and once again, I was EXCITED and honored and grateful for my LIFE.

Did I still have problems? Yes.
Did I still struggle throughout the day? Yes.

But change doesn’t happen all at once, it happens in the tiny decisions we make every day and over time, these tiny decisions were changing me.

My morning routine grew to include:

  • Gratitude
  • Listening to inspriational content
  • Reading scripture
  • Making my bed
  • Looking over my day and setting my top goals
  • Working out

Now, the morning is my FAVORITE time.
It’s a time just for me.
It’s literally the ONLY quiet time I have.
It’s the time when I get to be PROACTIVE instead of REACTIVE.
It’s the time when I say: “This is who I am in Christ. This is who I want to be. This is what I am called to do. This is why I do it.”

It’s a space to hope, dream, learn, grown, worship, pray and cry.

I NEED my mornings. And now that I’ve found them, I am never letting them go!!

I have compiled a FREE resource with tips for adjusting and enriching your sleep cycle, getting up with the alarm, how to set yourself up for success the night before, tips for helping your children establish a healthy sleep cycle as well and set boundaries so your mornings are respected, a check list for the evening and morning and other fun tools that I use like specific oils, wake lights for the kids, alarms and features and all natural plant-based pre-workout formula that makes my morning workouts possible.

Click here to get access to it, and I truly hope it serves you to establish your own BEAUTIFUL morning routine.

Permission to Complain

 

My argument for why we should all complain more

One of my friends recently took a “no complaining” challenge. She laughed as she told us how many sentences she started with: “I’m not complaining, but….” during that time.

It’s so easy to complain.

But, what IS complaining?
It’s sharing frustration at something that is not right. In this fallen world, there is SO MUCH that is not right. So many things that poke us and hurt us and make like uncomfortable and something inside us screams: “THIS IS NOT RIGHT!”

And it’s true.
Things are not how God created them.

So…is complaining wrong? Aren’t we simply acknowledging that something is not right when we complain? Isn’t that TRUE?

Well, what we focus on DOES expand and fill our view. I do think it’s important to take the limited energy we have and pour it into BUILDING UP the good, instead of focusing on the bad.

Another thing that most complaining does, is … well … nothing. It’s just talk, there’s usually no course of action for making things better. It’s venting with no solution.

But, I think there is something to be said for complaining, and giving ourselves and others room to complain.

Here are my reasons why:

  1. Complaining allows me to verbalize that something is wrong. I don’t know about you, but it usually takes me a bit of time to go from feeling like something is wrong to being able to verbalize what it is. Until I can nail down what is wrong, I have a difficult time finding a solution. When I am “trying not to complain” sometimes I shut myself off from identifying and pinpointing what is going wrong and remain unable to make progress in improvement and growth.
  2. Complaining allows me to bring others into my suffering. I don’t open up to everyone about everything. It may seem that way with how much I share on social media, but there is a lot of suffering and struggle and battles that I fight privately. Those who I share with have EARNED the right to know me because I trust them. But if I am not allowed to complain, there is no way they can understand, empathize and bring comfort and counsel into my life. I have fallen into the trap of not wanting to complain and I isolated myself and my suffering, making it a burden much heavier than it should have been.
  3. Complaining is not always a bad thing in the Bible (but sometimes it is). David complained. Job complained. The people of Israel in the desert complained. Of these three most prominent complainers – only one of them complained incorrectly. As I look at the difference between the types of complaining, the Israelites complained from a place of: “God you aren’t good. God you won’t take care of us. God we don’t trust you.” Whereas David and Job complained from a place of “God you are good. God I don’t understand. God I will trust you.” Job and David still complained – BITTERLY and HONESTLY before the Lord. It’s ok to be honest with God. Do you think He doesn’t already know your heart? When I try to be “holier than I am” before God it is such a JOKE! It only hurts me and creates distance between us. It only prolongs my healing and growth. The moment I am brutally honest with God – and I have been BRUTALLY honest with God – is the moment when He takes all the broken pieces and starts to put them together. He cannot put it together if I don’t surrender my broken pieces to Him. Trying to hide my complaints from God is never helpful.

The Bible says: “Let your requests (complaints) be made known to God and the peace that passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

I am seeking to pursue the type of complaining that helps me identify the true problem, draws friends and family closer, and brings healing and remove from my life complaining that is rooted in fear and bitterness.

We’ve all experienced the kind of complaining that we don’t want to participate in…but maybe it’s time we did a little more complaining – with the PURPOSE of taking positive action to change, being transparent with those close to us and allowing God to heal our brokenness.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have pace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Chia Seed Jam

IMG_8071

I’m always in that struggle between wanting to make healthier things for my kids and at the same time not having a ton of time to MAKE everything from scratch. Convenience always seems to come at a price nutritionally but this is real life. So, when I come across something that is healthy, easy to make (oh – SO easy), replaces a sugary staple and my kids love it – I mean…I HAVE to share!

PB&J’s are like my last resort – when all else fails, behold the PB&J!
I have improved our bread choices (Trader Joe’s Sprouted Multigrain Bread – so good!) and our Peanut Butter is all natural with a little honey for sweetener, or I make our own Almond Butter with Maple Syrup and Cinnamon – but JELLY. That sugary, syrupy, goopey JELLY!

So yesterday I decided to take our beautiful, ripe, sweet strawberries (That were like $1.19 a pint at Aldi this week) and turn it into a healthy Chia See Jam.

Here’s the recipe – took me less than 5 minutes to make – no cooking involved and the kids LOVED IT!

IMG_8069

————————-

Chia Seed Jam

2 Cups of chopped strawberries
4 Tbs. Chia seeds
1 packet of stevia (or maple syrup to taste)

Place all ingredients into a blender. Blend up and store in an airtight jar. You can replace the strawberries with other berries if you like.

See – wasn’t that stupid simple!?
I mean, that’s what I’m all about folks – get it done, make it healthy and delicious and be on with your day!

IMG_8068

Taking a Family Sabbatical

IMG_7451

Taking a sabbatical is something that many professors and pastors do. The concept is to go away for one year, after seven years of working. The time away is usually spent on travel or study. It’s a break from the day to day grind to get refreshed and inspired.

I’ve had a lot of questions about what we were doing this month in Mexico. And yes, we’ve had some fun “touristy” experiences while here, but it’s been more than just a vacation for us.

It’s been a family sabbatical.

IMG_7036

We’ve been intentionally taking things slow. Savoring time together, chatting while taking walks, going deep with the kids in conversations when they throw tantrums or get into fights. We’ve had EVERY SINGLE NIGHT free from meetings or events or parties or obligations, just think about that! Getting to spend our evenings just Fernando and I, talking over things we’ve been needing to, getting to be early, pushing the pause button on life.

Traveling is beautiful and fun because you get to go and see, but this month is more than just that – it’s really putting on the breaks. Giving ourselves time to BREATHE, time to ask questions like: “How are we living?” “How are we raising our kids?” “How are we building our marriage?” “Is this how we WANT to live?”

It’s been super helpful for me as the stay at home mom, to have Fernando apart of our day to day life. We brought our school books and did a few days of formal school and he was shocked at how hard it was and how much patience was required. He was able to be a fresh set of eyes on the kids and give me some much needed encouragement and feedback that he just never could in our regular day to day.

Our first week was difficult because I wasn’t used to him being involved in EVERY part of our lives, and we had more than one “heated discussions” but it was SO good – it revealed cracks and weaknesses in our marriage that we just didn’t have time to deal with but NEEDED to. We had many late night talks, tears, prayer and healing. Away from everyone and everything familiar we couldn’t distract ourselves with events, meetings, parties, dinners or church functions. It was me and him and the kids – banding together like never before.

IMG_6955

Life get’s SO busy and hectic and often times it’s EXTREMELY difficult to have those kinds of conversations, to carve out time for really thinking and praying and planning.

I know for many, the idea of taking a month, or more, completely off and taking a sabbatical might seem impossible. However, you might be surprised at what can happen when you start to get creative and figure out how to make things work. At one point this would have been unthinkable for us as well, but then I got a vision for it. I could imagine how it might benefit our family. You see, this vision started years ago, when I started supplementing our family’s income and we could actually DREAM about what we would do as the income grew.

We set aside some of my income, little by little. We decided on the town we wanted to live in, we found great flights and an air bnb for a month. Everything started falling into place, but it was only because we were looking for it to fall into place, we were working for it to fall into place.

IMG_7010

Now that we are home, we have many things that we are planning to implement from our month abroad – less hustle and bustle, more slow and savoring. Less letting other’s agenda’s dictate what we should do, more being intentional with our time. Less buying stuff, more making memories.

Not feeling like we HAVE to say yes to EVERY social invite, making time to take more family walks, enjoying the mundane and we are already looking forward to planning our next trip – no idea where or for how long, but we are setting aside airline points and keeping our eyes and ears open for where we might got next.

IMG_6839

This sabbatical, this sweet family “detox” has been so refreshing for us and something that we are planning to do on a regular basis.

What about you? Have you ever thought of taking a sabbatical as a family? Have you ever tried to intentionally slow down life? What’s the hardest part for you?

Slow Days Ahead

IMG_5470

Hey friends!!!
Gosh, I haven’t had this long of a hiatus from blogging since starting, over three years ago.

The reason for it was simple, I felt the Lord pressing on my heart: “Do less, be more present. Be fiercely devoted to your priorities and do away with all that is secondary.”

My poor sweet little blog, although massively important to me, and always will be a part of my life, needed to take a back seat for a bit. But, in the past few weeks I’ve felt the need to get back to it – content ideas stirring up inside – excitement to get writing again….and there’s also a new chapter in our life that may be fun to document.

You see, in addition to my blog taking a back seat, my husband and I have been having many – many long, late night talks about our life. How do we want to live? What kind of priorities do we have as a couple and are we honoring those priorities? How can we live more slowly, more intentionally and prepare now for future ministry?

We threw around several ideas, and some of them had potential, but none of them fit 100%. You see, our goals in life, as we prayed and talked and prayed some more, seemed to always revolve around these core thing:

– A desire to live for MORE than the status quo and the “American Dream”.
– A rejection of the accumulation of THINGS and debt and being a consumer of entertainment and addicted to comfort.
– A desire to be a strong, stable family, emotionally, spiritually and financially, so our home can be a place of ministry.

Living abroad with our family kept coming up as something we would like to do in the next 5 years. It just seemed to fit with all of our goals and vision.

And then, we both had a crazy idea (we actually came up with the idea SEPARATELY on the same day, and when I told Fernando I needed to talk to him about something, he said, “Me too!” and it was absolutely INSANE when we both had the same idea, same country and all…)- why not try it out this summer?

My husband is a teacher and has the summers off, we’ve ALWAYS wanted to travel with the kids during the summer but I was either pregnant, giving birth or we were broke.

I can’t believe this is really  happening, but….the tickets have been purchased, the AirBnB is reserved, we will be spending one month this summer in Mérida Mexico.

We truly have no connections to this place, no family, friends or churches that we know, but surprisingly almost everyone I’ve spoken to about this knows someone who lives or has lived there, and we’ve got several great people over there that we are talking to and a little community waiting to receive us and give us tips and help.

Mérida is a historic and beautiful city, from what we gather, and we are thrilled Merida07to get to take our kids out of the country, live with the locals, improve our Spanish and bond together as a family unit.

Who knows what the next 5 years may hold, and if we end up living long term out of the country at some point. These summer travel plans and these principals around which we are building our lives may not be popular or understood by most, but there’s something SO freeing to take action on a big decision and KNOW that it lines up PERFECTLY with your core beliefs and values.

It’s literally a dream come true and to think that this is only possible because of the flexibility I have to build my business ANYWHERE and the amazing income to support us while we are there!

Something in my bones tells me this trip will be pivotal in our family’s history – I can’t wait to go (trials and all, because I know there will be bumps along the road).

Mexico – here we come!!

Our Screen Free and Sugar Free Experiment

FullSizeRender

Whenever I try something that’s a little off the beaten path (even for me) I like to call it an experiment. Being a mom four times over has humbled me and I do not claim to be an expert or some sort of super mom in any way.

So, please know that I was that mom who had all these ideas of how I would raise my kids and then I actually HAD kids, a lot of them, very quickly, and many of those ideas and aspirations went right out the window!!

Also, please know that I am in no way trying to prescribe this as something other moms or families should do – and I don’t know that we will do this forever either – but I’ve gotten a lot of comments on it, so I thought I’d share our experience.

After a crazy holiday season with sugar overload and my husband being off for two weeks (he’s a teacher) it was a TOUGH re-entry into our normal routine of school and bible study and grocery shopping and life. The very first Monday back (January 9th to be exact) after my kiddos woke up in a TERRIBLE mood and all of them collectively fought me on EVERY single activity from getting dressed, to using the bathroom and even sitting to eat breakfast – it had only been one hour and I was already being stretched to my limits – I made a very knee jerk and drastic proclamation. This would be a NO SUGAR and NO SCREENS day!

IMG_2964

I don’t think my kids really knew what to make of this.

“Do you mean, I can’t play Angry Birds? What about dessert after lunch or dinner?”

“Nope. No screens and No sugar – you will not be watching TV or movies or playing on my phone or the computer.”

Of course, like everything else that day, they fought me. I believe there was some heavy negotiation and a few tears, but I stuck to my guns. I felt like a detox period was in order and I just needed to pull in the reins a bit.

You see, prior to this day, I was getting lazy. If I was still in the middle of some work when the kids woke up (I typically work from 5am – 7am every morning) I would let them turn on the TV and watch a show. And because they were quiet and entertained, I would keep working, sometimes they would watch a solid 2 hours before they had even had breakfast. Then we’d eat and chat and do a little school and if we didn’t have a play date – there were days I would put the TV right back on – so I could finish the breakfast dishes or send a few emails.

IMG_3016

After lunch, same thing, there were days when it was TV, ok turn it off mom needs you to do something (eat, school, get in the car, etc.) and now back to the TV.

That, and the constant asking for candy or ice cream or chocolate – I didn’t have a lot of sweets in the house, but always just enough that there was SOMETHING they wanted at all times. I felt like all my interactions with the kids was either begging (or yelling) at them to come do something, or telling them no, or fighting with them to get school done, or not be too crazy in the store. It was so much negativity around our interactions and then, because I was exhausted, I would throw them right back in front of a screen.

Just being completely 100% honest here.

So, when I told them the new rule, I wasn’t even sure I could follow it. But I had said it, and I didn’t want to go back on my rule because then it would be open season on all rules. this. was. happening.

Surprisingly, after the initial moment of being upset, the kids did pretty well. They asked a few times to watch a show, but when I gently reminded them it was not a screen day, they moved on and found things to play with. I was amazed at how MUCH they were playing and how little they were fighting. I also started interacting more with them in their playtime. I had to really…when they did fight and needed a referee it just made more sense to sit and play and head off arguments before they began than to try and do something and get interrupted every couple of minutes.

Something amazing began to happen, I started really enjoying my kids more. My interactions weren’t just limited to me needing to get them to do a certain activity or get out the door or stop hitting your sister!! I was playing with them more, being silly with them more – and when they were content on their own (which they learned to do really quickly) I would work extra hard to get whatever chores and things I needed to do with focus and urgency. In the past when they were watching shows, I would take my time and browse social media for a bit before diving in because I knew I had time. Now I had to work more efficiently.

Not only that, I noticed their ability to focus was improving, when we sat down for school or went out and they needed to be more calm or quite, it was a marked difference.

Now, don’t get me wrong, they still fight, I still have to struggle through parts of our school day and the mess (now that they are playing so much more) has been a lot more to keep on top of – so no – this hasn’t been a magic pill for perfect children – but – BOY do I see a difference!

IMG_2938

I decided to continue our no screen and no sugar rule for a few more days and it naturally morphed into a during the week rule. Monday through Friday we don’t do sugar or screens, on Friday afternoon on our way home from their sports program we stop at Wendy’s and everyone get’s a frosty, that is our end of the week celebration, and then we usually do pizza and a movie for family night.

Again, this is just what we do, but I am absolutely loving it and thought I’d share just a little bit more. I feel like it’s something that from the outside looking in seems harder than it really is. There are moments when I just want to give in, I just want to put on a show or buy them some ice cream, but then I push through and we find something else to do, we spend more time outside or I involve them in my chores and things I need to get done.

I’m so proud of my littles and I love that our interactions have become more meaningful, I am enjoying them so much more and loving the richness it has brought to our weekdays.

 

Garbanzo and Spinach Hash

IMG_3113

This meal was so simple and delicious so I knew I HAD to blog it and share the goodness.

You really only need three ingredients plus some seasonings and olive oil.

Start 1 turkey kielbasa and sauté with a small amount of olive oil until cooked and browned.

Take the kielbasa out of the pan and add in one can of garbanzo beans that have been drained and rinsed. Add to a sauté pan with a little bit of olive oil, season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and chili powder (sorry I don’t measure, but start with a small amount of seasoning and then taste and adjust accordingly). Once the garbanzos are heating up, add in several handfuls of spinach and re-season. Cook until the spinach is wilted and add back in the kielbasa.

It’s really that simple and GOOOOOOOOD! The garbanzos are creamy and the chili powder gives it a little smokey bite which works so good with the kielbasa.

IMG_3111

Speak Life

I’ve always been fascinated with the power of words.

You can’t touch them. They don’t cost anything.
But they have unparalleled power.

I wonder if there is anything that has more power than words.

I’ve recently started doing morning affirmations with my daughter. I noticed her experiencing some negative self talk, getting really down on herself when she makes a mistake and feeling like she’s not as smart or as good as her older brother. So, I decided to battle that with the most powerful weapon I could think of: words.

Every morning this week, as I brush her hair, I pull out my list of affirmations and I say them to her, one by one.

“I am smart.”

She looks at herself in the mirror, her beautiful almond shaped, light brown eyes get a little brighter.

“I am smart.”

She repeats. I keep brushing and move on to the next one.

“I am loved.”
“I am a good helper.”
“I try my best.”
“I am God’s treasure.”
“I am funny.”
“I am creative.”
“I am beautiful inside and out.”

When I reached the end of the list on the first day she turned to me and said,

“Ok, now it’s my turn!”

I wasn’t quite sure what she meant. She looked at me through the mirror (I still wasn’t done brushing all the tangles out) and said,

“I am a good mommy.”

I was completely taken aback! She held my gaze, expecting me to repeat the affirmation, and so I did. I looked at myself in the mirror and said, out loud,

“I am a good mommy.”

She continued on:

“I am a good coach”
“I love my kids.”
“I am a hard worker.”
“I am strong.”

Each time she spoke and I heard through her little voice what she thought of me, what she saw in me and then verbalized it myself, looking straight into my own eyes, at times, willing myself to believe some of the things that I was saying, it was nothing short of emotional.

I’ve believed in the power of affirmations for a little while now. I’ve believed that they are valuable and powerful but to be honest, I still feel a little silly doing them. Especially when I am alone. To speak out loud, to no one, really positive things makes me a bit uncomfortable. But in that bathroom, with my daughter’s hair half brushed I realized the power of affirmations.

When vocal chords strike together and sound waves move through the air, you may not be able to touch it, but something physical and real happens.

We’ve done our affirmations every day for the past week and a half now. First me and then her. Every day there are certain affirmations I hear her say with more conviction than when we started. Every day I have to swallow the lump in my throat when she starts on mine.

I decided that I want to surround myself with some more affirmations and so I created several iphone wallpaper images for my lock screen. I will be changing them regularly and saying them *out loud* at the end and start of every day (and throughout the day as I need them).

Words are powerful and life giving and completely free and completely within your control. Do you do daily affirmations? Do you speak scripture over yourself and family? Do you ever feel silly speaking it out loud when you are alone? I’m still a newbie, but I’m excited to continue our daily hair brushing routine.

Save these photos to your phone to set as your wallpaper and start your day (or end it) with your own affirmations!

IMG_2641 IMG_2750 IMG_2752 IMG_2753 IMG_2755