Learn to Communicate with your Teenager

The Alien Invasion!

Alien MicahThe hardest job as a parent is the one you are currently doing. Nursing a baby 4 times a night is exhausting. I remember an unfortunate incident with mistaking the dog howling for Micah crying during that time. Crawling and walking changed the scene right away. Caleb dumped my make-up in the toilet and pulled the Christmas tree down before he could actually walk. Potty training isn’t for wimps. It takes grit and stamina. The rule at our house during potty training days was “NEVER drink from a cup that has been in the car!” I’ll let you think on that one. Cliff’s Grandma Frink told me that if I tickled the babies and made them laugh that they would stutter. I thought she was crazy until Micah started stuttering! I cried for days and then took him to the doctor. Come to find out it was just a stage and his brain was working faster than his mouth could keep up. Not much has changed! LOL. Emergency room trips to patch and sew up the boys were common. Lucas had 2 broken arms by the time he was 6! During one period of time, we were so well known at the urgent care place, that the receptionist noticed that I had a new hair cut! TRUE STORY! You do not want to be so well known to the urgent care folks that they notice when you change your hair!

Every stage is hard but today I want to talk about communicating with teenagers.

I totally believe in aliens. I know for a fact that they exist. God gives you a sweet-smelling, cuddly baby that grows into a loving, fun little person and then ….BAM…… they turn into aliens between 11 and 12. I promise this is the gospel truth. Track with me. These aliens smell different. You pick them up from school or practice and the smell makes your eyes water. You have to ride home with the windows down and Febreze the seats when you get home. These teenage aliens have hands and feet that don’t fit or coordinate with the rest of their body. They knock things over and trip over invisible things. Their ears and noses grow before the rest of them and their teeth fall out and don’t come back in straight. They either run around like crazy people or walk like a slug. “Hurry up” means walk slower and try to look cool even though your mom is screaming at you from the car. I have also noticed that these alien teenagers have a broken volume switch. They are either VERY loud or won’t talk at all! To top it off, they speak their own language. This strange language is accompanied by a lot of eye-rolling and deep sighing.

Today I am going to give you some quick tips to help you learn to communicate with these strange and wonderful creatures we call “teenagers.” These are secrets passed down to me from generations of survivors. I have stalked and annoyed 100’s of successful parents who are now on the other side of the alien experience. Here is what they have to say:

  1. Take a deep breath. Ok… maybe two deep breaths! This is a stage. Just like sneezing sweet potatoes all over you or eating the dog’s food when you aren’t looking. It will pass.
  2. Enlist support. There are others who have successfully navigated these waters and they can help. Don’t try to do this alone. There is safety in numbers!
  3. Engage the strange creature in conversation. Yes, even if you have to talk about Mind Craft, nail polish color, Miranda Sings or rude body sounds. Reach out and see what they want to talk about. You will be VERY surprised at the things you learn when they are just talking.
  4. Invite the hard questions. A Bible teacher at church reminded me that questioning things is how teenagers develop their reasoning skills. They have to practice. Don’t freak out (trust me.. this is what you will want to do!) when they question things that are fundamental to how you have raised them. Guide them through the process of analyzing their thoughts and give them your reasons for your beliefs. If you don’t invite and allow this kind of conversation, they will go to someone else. You don’t want another teenager or irresponsible adult being the one to shape your teens’ reasoning skills.
  5. Reinforce your unconditional love for them. During this time of transformation for teens, they need a solid example of love and consistency. Everything around and in them is changing. They need to know you are there no matter what.
  6. Pick your battles. About 80% of what a teenager says is filler material. They don’t really mean it. They are testing the waters. They are trying to push buttons. They are learning how to communicate using humor. (Heaven help us!) They are practicing. Your job is to sift through what they are saying and identify true character issues that need your attention. You need to focus on things like integrity, thankfulness and accepting responsibility. Don’t get caught up in the 80% and miss the real issues hidden in the 20%. If you don’t pick and choose, you will sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher to your kids and not have the impact you need.

Ephesians gives us clear direction on how to communicate and interact with our kids. Obedience is the responsibility of the child and communicating with love and nurture is our responsibility as parents. I know God wouldn’t have reminded us not to provoke our children and to nurture them if it was an impossible task. Remember, the hardest parenting job is the one you are doing now. Rest easy my friends, there are survivors!

Ephesians 6:4

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Seeing Beyond the Obvious with a New Perspective

Our perspective can really distort our vision! I LOVE the mirror at White IW_2016-01-25_191202House Black Market clothes store! It makes me look tall and slender. I want that mirror for my house for sure! I HATE the glass doors going into the church office. They make me look short and fluffy. (Ugg) I can feel so good in an outfit on Sunday morning and with one glance at that reflection, be bummed out for the rest of the day. I DON’T want one of those at my house. I HATE hotel bathroom mirrors. I always have more grey hairs and eyebrows that need plucking when I see my reflection in them. The odd thing is that I can see my reflection in all three of those places in the same day and get different impressions. One says I’m tall and slender and the other says I’m short and fluffy. Which is true? How can I know? I am sure my hair doesn’t sprout greys and my eyebrows don’t become bushy just because I am standing in front of the hotel mirror. The greys are really there! My kids love to use the apps that distort a picture. It is hideous what they do to my pictures. (See picture included above, LOL!)

The point is that our impressions and what we see are impacted by what we are looking at to get the reflection. I Corinthians says “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”

As we look and see those around us, we need to remember that we see through a glass darkly. We don’t see with perfect understanding yet. We won’t see clearly until we are face to face with Christ. This should temper our reactions to people and situations around us. Here are four ways I am working on responding well when I see people through my limited perspective:

  1. Look Deeper. I am going to look beyond the outward and try and see what is really going on with folks. Teenagers may handle emotional crisis through anger and moodiness. People can lash out to hurt others because they have been hurt. Quiet people are not stuck-up and rude; they may just be introverts or nervous. Grouchy people may be dealing with health issues and sickness. The list goes on. I am going to look deeper at those around me and try to see the root of the behavior rather than just marking them off the list. I need to look deeper.
  2. Look Wider. I am going to look beyond my small sphere of experience. I find that I look at situations and people through the mirror of my own personal experience and not from a wider perspective. God created us all unique. He set us up in different geographies and cultures. There isn’t a “one size fits all answer to things.” Truth doesn’t change but methods and responses should. God has called us to go into all the world. For me to minister and meet the needs of people, I have to open my eyes and look beyond my comfort zone and familiar settings to see the real need. I have to look wider.
  3. Look Longer. I tend to process things very quickly. I find myself hearing about a situation and making a judgement without spending much time praying about it. I need to stop rushing around focusing on getting things done and really take the time to see to those around me. When my boss is short with me, I need to look longer and see if there is a need I can help meet. When I am stuck in traffic because of an accident, I need to pray for the family that is going to be impacted by the accident. When my kids are angry, I need to look longer and pray that God reveals the root of their anger so that I can help them address it rather than adding to the problem by becoming angry myself. I want to look longer.
  4. Look Higher. I am going to see people and situations as a reflection of God’s amazing grace at work. I want to see every situation as God working in my life. What can I learn through this situation? How can I grow because of this interaction with a cranky clerk? What words of grace can I speak into that stranger’s life that will point them to Christ? I must look higher.

On the day we got Cliff’s cancer diagnosis, I remember walking the halls of the hospital in total shock. I drove home in a blur. I had to go through a drive-through to get food for the boys on my way home. I remember how rude and short the fast food employee was with me when I had trouble making a decision on what to order. The person behind me honked their horn loud and long when I didn’t move right away to the window. What an awful day made worse by people who couldn’t see deeper than the immediate and wider than their own selfish wants.

Dear God,

Please help me to be part of the solution not part of the problem. Help me take the time to see people for who they really are in You. Help me to take the time to love them for Your sake. Soften my heart to see beyond bad behaviors to the hurt and anguish so many people are feeling. Strengthen my resolve to look for a God purpose in everything I encounter today. Help me to speak grace into other’s lives by seeing them as You see them. Thank you for making me part of Your story and empower me to walk worthy of that calling.

Thankful, grateful and blessed. Amen

 

Teaching Teens to Reflect to Achieve their Goals

Life Coaching for Teens

ISelfies am the WORST selfie taker of all time. I can’t hold the phone at the right angle AND push the button to take the picture. I have to do the “two-handed selfie” which is a universal embarrassment to teenagers all over the world. I look at the wrong place on the phone, so my eyes look crossed when I take the picture. I inevitably end up with a double chin and a finger in the picture. I am so bad that most of the time, some kind stranger offers to take the picture for me.

I am not sure when kids learn to take selfies but they seem to have it down by the time they are a “tween” for sure. It must be a class in elementary school that I don’t know about!

With all the self-portraits and social media pictures our kids post, you would think they would know about reflections. A selfie is just a snapshot reflection of themselves. Don’t get me started on how damaging social media can be to teens (and even us as parents) because of the false image everyone (including us) posts. None of us are really as together and perfect as we post. However, that topic is for another day. Back to reflections.

One of the BIGGEST if not the BIGGEST keys to success is reflecting on where you are, where you want to be and how you can make it happen. I posted on setting goals last week. I believe that we as parents have a responsibility to help our kids set goals and help them achieve their goals. Check out my goal setting sheet if you need some help with this. Once we have helped our kids set goals, we need to help them achieve those goals. The BEST thing we can do is help our kids know how to reflect on those goals and see what they are doing right and wrong and make changes. Kids tend to find the path of least resistance. They want to fit in and be normal. This is the enemy of greatness. Here are some ways we can help our tween and teen (and even young adult) learn to reflect:

  1. Write out their goals. I suggest 4 goals. Spiritual, Personal, Relational and Vocational (School). I also like to break the goals into quarters. For example, if they want to run a marathon as their personal goal, they will need to set quarterly mileage goals. This helps them have a plan and see short term success right away as they meet the smaller quarterly goals.
  2. Go over their goals EVERY day. I have my boys do their devotions and then read over their goals each morning. Good morning habits will help your child succeed faster than any other thing you can teach them. I know that teenagers like to stay up late and sleep until noon. Once in a while this is fine, but start teaching them early on that morning hours are worth more than any other hours in their day.
  3. Teach them to ask the right questions. When they read over their goals, they need to be asking the right questions so they can determine if they are making progress. You would be surprised how many kids don’t know how to self-evaluate. That is why when they mess up and you ask them “what were you thinking” they really don’t know! Here are a few questions to get you started. You know your kids better than anyone else so you will be able to tweak this list and really help your kids. Download a copy of more reflection questions.
    • What went right yesterday? (Example: I made a great grade on my Spanish test.)
    • Why did that go right? (Example: I read over my Spanish notes every day before I did my homework)
    • How did this make me feel? (Example: I felt great. I felt proud and happy and not worried about having to tell my mom about a bad grade. I felt smart.)
    • How can I do the same thing in other areas? (Example: I should read over my notes in all my classes and I would score better and not have to study so much.)
    • What went wrong yesterday? (Example: I was late to first period.)
    • How did I handle things when they went wrong? (Example: I was rude to the student service lady and ended up in a bad mood all day long.)
    • What was the first thing that happened that started the chain that caused things to go wrong. (Example: I didn’t check my planner the night before and set my alarm. Because I didn’t set my alarm, I didn’t get up on time and only had a few minutes to get ready.)
    • How did this make me feel? (Example: I felt cranky and bad all day. My friends noticed something was wrong. I had a very bad hair day and I wasn’t happy.)
    • What can I do to make sure this doesn’t happen again? (Example: I should go over my planner and make sure to set my alarm so I have plenty of time to get ready for school.)
  4. Help them answer the questions so that they learn to reflect on their own. Go over and work with them on these questions. Kids are not born with the ability to think critically and analytically. Their brains don’t fully develop until they are around 25! LORD SAVE US! You can’t expect them to know how to reflect. You HAVE to teach them! As critical as it was to potty train them, it is MORE critical to teach them to reflect so that they don’t make the same mistakes over and over.

Reflecting on our goals and CHANGING what we do based on that reflection is the biggest key to success. Do you want your kids to live lives of purpose and joy? Do you want them to succeed? Teach them to reflect! I have found that during the process of teaching, I learn more than the students. This process of reflection will help you begin to reflect more on your own goals if you don’t do this already and it will help you understand your teen more. We could all benefit from being able to understand our teens! LOL!

 

You want me to cut WHAT….. from WHERE??

Devotion on Faith

Amy Carmichael picture and quoteI love to read biographies and stories about famous people. The missionary stories are my favorite. Amy Carmichael and Elisabeth Elliot are my top two favorite missionaries to read about and after. I also love the stories from the Bible. I love to visualize Adam naming the animals (Aardvark? Really?) and the walls of water on each side of the Red Sea as Moses and his grumbly gang crossed over on dry land. I can only imElisabeth Elliot picture and quoteagine how cool it was to watch small David kill Goliath with a sling shot. I love to think about Jochebed spending hours weaving a basket strong enough to use to put her son in and push him off into the crocodile infested waters of the Nile River.

As I dream and use my imagination to experience these great stories, I tend to think that stepping out on faith was easier for these folks than it is today. Our society is more advanced and it is harder to live a sold-out Christian life. Right? It is harder to quit our jobs and do something God has called us to because we have responsibilities and debt. Right? It is harder to be a witness because so many people don’t believe in God. Right? I start thinking this way and it gives me a way to excuse my lack of obedience and faith.

This week I read the story of God’s covenant with Abraham. It was an amazing honor that God bestowed on Abraham and a huge responsibility. In Genesis chapter 17, Abraham and God have another vision-casting session. God is repeating the promise he made to Abraham to multiply his seed and make a great nation from his family. Abraham is probably high-fiving himself all over and enjoying God’s attention. Up until now, Abraham and Sarah have been asked to leave their home but things were pretty normal. Right when Abraham starts getting comfortable with the previous step of faith, God adds a new twist to the story. God changes Abraham and Sarah’s names. God then leans down and whispers into Abraham’s ear that he wants a physical mark on all the male members of the family. CIRCUMCISION! I can only imagine that Abraham said, “You want me to cut what…. from where????” I know, I know… all the guys reading this are cringing. My guys wouldn’t even let me tell them about this blog! Now think, if we have a hard time talking about this today after thousands of years of getting used to the idea, imagine what Abraham thought. It was the first time this concept had been introduced and not only was he going to have to circumcise himself, he was going to have to explain it to his family and servants and circumcise all of them. I’m pretty sure this wasn’t an easy step of faith required of Abraham. Here are some things I learned while studying this story:

  1. Obedience and faith are hard. Imagine the conversation Abraham had to have with his group. I am sure they were sitting around the fire singing uplifting praise and worship songs waiting to hear what God had shared with Abraham after the vision-casting session. Here comes Abraham, “Well folks, I have good news and bad news. Umm, guys, God is still going to bless us and everything but he wants us to, ummmmm, cut a tiny little part off “you know what” to show obedience.” LOL! Not the team-building chat I would like to have with any group, for sure! However, Abraham obeyed… that same day! Genesis 17:23
  2. Obedience and faith don’t require understanding. I don’t see anywhere in the story where God explains why he is asking Abraham to circumcise the gang. He doesn’t give scientific studies or group data on how circumcision will help the new nation. He just gives Abraham the charge and off he goes. I’m pretty sure that the steps of obedience God is asking of me are way easier than what Abraham faced that day, yet I still struggle. Genesis 17:9-14
  3. Obedience and faith are rewarded. As weird and hard as this was, Abraham obeyed. He took action the very day that God talked with him. He didn’t wait to pray about it or Google it; Abraham obeyed. Because of his obedience and faith, Abraham and Sarah conceived at a 100 years old! (I don’t want that, for sure but they did!) Their children were blessed and their family became the mighty nation of Israel. Abraham and Sarah are both listed in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11.

As I struggle to obey God in my life, I am actually comforted by the magnitude of what God asked of Abraham. If Abraham can trust God and take a step of faith like circumcision and then talk hundreds (maybe thousands) of guys into jumping on board, I am pretty sure I can take the small steps of faith God is asking of me.

When More is Less

Simple Living

More is lessRecently I watched a TV show about hoarding. It was horrible. I couldn’t begin to imagine how people could live that way. Homes were stacked to the ceiling with things people had purchased and not even opened the box. Trash and containers lined the walls. There wasn’t even room to move around or function in their homes. Items were rotting and the house smelled bad. Rats and bugs were running around all over the house. My heart was broken as they talked about the mental issues that lead up to this kind of condition. I wondered how hurtful this illness was to the hoarder’s family. I thought about how much it must have impacted their social life. I can only imagine how unhappy they must be to seek comfort in compulsively adding to their things and keeping stuff the rest of us throw away.

Then all of the sudden my heart was stricken by the Holy Spirit. It almost took my breath away. We hoard every day! We try to make ourselves feel better by spending money and having things that show status. We meet our need for approval by adding activities to our schedule that make us feel wanted. We eat way more food than we need because we are feeling stressed. We make financial and work related decision to hoard a feeling of security.

I think God is looking down at us with the same horror I felt while looking at the hoarder’s home on the TV show. He sees lives overflowing with meaningless items that clutter our ability to function and grow closer to Him. I think He is heartbroken watching us try to fill voids with stuff, activities and food that only HE can fill. He longs for us to loosen our grip on the need for security and step out in faith and trust Him.

More is truly less when we are trying to fill our lives with temporary things and don’t leave any room for God. Here are a few areas where more is really less:

  1. More security produces less faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God. So many times we choose the path of security over stepping out on faith. God wants us to depend on him to meet our daily needs. I have found that playing it safe and faith rarely hang out. Most of the time, God wants us to step out in a big way so that he can get glory from our lives. He wants to do things in our lives that can’t be credited to anyone else but Him!
  2. More activities produce less margin. Just like the hoarder’s house on TV, when we fill our lives with so many activities that we can’t really move around and function, we are limiting what we can accomplish. Even when the activities we plan are good things they can crowd out the best Our society tells us that our kids need to be in all the extra activities after school and that we need to be on every committee. Our church expectations can even add to this chronic over-scheduling. Imagine if I attend all the Bible studies but don’t have time for personal devotions? What if I teach several classes but don’t have time to invest in my own kids? Do my kids have margin so that God can work in their lives?
  3. More food produces less space in my pants! LOL! I hear the tiny voice that shouts to me from my pantry as soon as I feel stressed. If things are not going my way, I head to the junk food. I reward myself for health goals by going out for ice cream! LOL! I am right there with you friend. In this area we KNOW that more is less. We are trying to fill an emotional or carnal need with over indulging in food. I appreciate food. It is wonderful in its right place, but when we try to heal hurts and meet needs that only God can address with food, “more” robs us of a quality of life. We can’t be all that God wants us to be when we are not treating our bodies right.
  4. More spending creates less peace. There were no self-storage units until the later part of the 1960’s. Today we have 2.63 BILLION square feet of storage space available just in the United States! What happened between the 1960’s and now? I know for our family, there has been a gradual shift. We watch TV and look at the ads and feel compelled to get the latest and greatest. I didn’t even have a cell phone until I was married with one baby and now I feel like I need the newest version as soon as it comes out. With that accumulation, we try to ease the guilt by keeping and storing our old items. I admit that shopping can give us a quick “happy high” but it is so fleeting and then we are left with guilt. Strife over finances is one of the top reasons marriages end. We overspend and are robbed of the peace God wants to provide by meeting our needs.

When we were given the news that Cliff, my first husband, was terminally ill, things became crystal clear. Identifying what was important was so simple: Faith and Family. It is a lesson I thought I would NEVER forget. However, life goes on and things call out to me and I am shocked to find myself in the same position I was in before we were given the bad news. This year I am purposing to DO less and BE more. I am going to simplify my stuff and my schedule to give God space to work. God moves in the margins of our life. What a tragic loss if we fill our lives with good and miss the great!

Embracing Less to get More

Simple Living

Trunk Close (1 of 1)It was 5 minutes past the time I needed to leave. Larry knows that when I start trying on different outfits and muttering to myself that he should clear the area. I had FINALLY chosen an outfit but was having problems choosing what earrings to wear. I knew I had the perfect pair somewhere but with all my earrings jumbled together I couldn’t find them. I tried on several different pairs and was still unhappy when I saw the earring I was looking for. I did the victory howl and ran out the door. It took me the entire drive to the event to calm back down. Knowing that the message wasn’t going to calm me (I was the speaker), I took deep breaths and tried to focus. After the event, I was signing books at the back table when a trendy teenager came by the table and told me that she really enjoyed the message. She said that she didn’t expect to enjoy things, but after she saw that I was “cool” she ended up having fun. As always, you have to get your decoder ring out to understand teens, so I asked why she thought I was “cool.” (As a side note, I am NEVER considered cool with any group, so I was super excited to finally have reached that status.) She said that any mom-aged person that can pull off wearing two crazy different earrings was cool in her book! LOL. I must have only put one earring in when I found the perfect pair and left the other VERY DIFFERENT earring in the other ear. There are many times that having less will give you much more. I went home that day and went through all my earrings and gave most of them away. On a sad note, that was the last time I have been called “cool!” Here are 4 tips to getting more with less:

 

  1. Less stuff and more space. This principle isn’t just about physical space. It is about more space in our schedules because we don’t have as many things to manage. It is about more space in our relationships because we are not working all the time to accumulate things. It is about more space in our closets to use the things we have because we can actually get to them.
  2. Less time more creativity and focus. It is a weird dynamic that if we are given more time we have a harder time getting things done. If I want the boys to get their rooms cleaned, I set the timer and give them 30 minutes. They will accomplish more in that short time than if I gave them all day. We are the same. Don’t sit around waiting to start that project or to begin that new business until you “have more time.” Do it now! With focus and short periods of time you can get an amazing amount done.
  3. Less wishful thinking and more purposeful living. Don’t just spend your time dreaming about the new business you want to start or what your life could be like. Dream and then do! Move in a direction. Set aside one hour a day to purposefully move in that direction. Use principle #2 above and focus the short time you have to make progress in reaching your goals. You may need to get up an hour early or give up a TV show to find that hour but you will get so much more in return by spending less time dreaming and more time doing!Check out my blog on setting goals for this year. I share how I move from wishful thinking to purposeful living with a few easy worksheets.
  4. Less choice more discipline. This is one of my life-hacks that serves me well every day. The fewer decisions I have to make the more disciplined I am. I take away as many choices as possible so that the times I have to make choices I am not overwhelmed or tired. I have a higher chance of still having the discipline to make the right choice. Don’t give yourself the opportunity for failure. It’s like telling a teenager that if they are not feeling well in the morning, they can stay home from school. Of course they won’t be feeling well. You gave them the option! Don’t give yourself options for failure. We will fail enough on our own. Don’t build in additional opportunities. I can get dressed in 20 minutes from 0 to done if I have picked out my clothes the night before. If I have to make a choice on what to wear you can count on another 15 minutes! Eliminate as many choices as possible and then don’t build in opportunities to change your mind.

Mark 4:30-32

30 And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it? 31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: 32 But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.

What do you want to accomplish this year? What are your dreams? You can start TODAY and change your life forever!

I am embracing less this coming year. I want to enjoy what I am doing and the things I have more so, I am going to DO LESS and BE MORE!

What changes are you going to make? What areas will less be more for you this new year?

Life Coaching: Cheat Sheet for Resolution Losers!

2016Last year for our family resolution, Larry and I decided it would be great fun to write a book during the year. It would be a book that captured all the snippets of deep wisdom he and I share with the kids. (It would be treasured and passed down for generations.) We always say, “You can write that in the quote book” when we have a great thought. Now, we had a quote book! I found the perfect book and placed it in a prominent place. We each grabbed a pen and immediately the well dried up. The only quote that is in the book is my famous quote, “It is better to be late than dead!” What a colossal fail on last year’s great resolution to write a book full of quotes for our posterity!

I have to confess; I am a resolution loser! I have made and not kept more resolutions that I care to admit. I don’t just make resolutions on New Year. I use any opportunity as a “new start.” The first day of the month, the new school year, even Mondays twinkle bright for me as opportunities to “wipe the slate clean” and start over. I love Jon Acuff’s new book, Do Over. That is right up my ally.

The problem is that resolutions depend on my discipline and willpower. We have already addressed in my last blog that I don’t really have disciple. I can resolve to do things all day long, but that doesn’t get the job done. I don’t think I am alone. Only 8% of folks who set resolutions, actually accomplish them each year. EEK! That is a terrible statistic yet comforting all at the same time. I know, I am mental.

When we shift our thinking from setting resolutions to setting goals, we hit pay dirt! Goals are the things we wish and resolve to do….. put down on paper (or digital) and broken into actionable items. I heard Michael Hyatt say that a goal not written down is just a wish. Here are ways to move from resolution loser to goal completer:

  1. Limit your goals to just a few things. Remember…. most of us were losers last year…. Go slow! LOL
  2. Write your goals down. (Download my Goal Cheat Sheet here)
  3. Break your goals into quarters and write out a plan.
  4. Review your quarterly goal sheet every day before you start your day. It is easy to get caught up in the urgent and forget the important. (Download the Quarterly Goal Cheat Sheet here)
  5. Reflect at the end of each quarter and do a reset so that you can get back on track or raise your goals if you are ahead.

The absolute biggest game-changer for me was when I connected the WHY with the WHAT in my goals. For example, if I want to eat healthier I HAVE to remind myself why rice cakes should be my choice rather than Doritos at lunch. I would say to myself, I am eating rice cakes because I want to only put healthy food into my body so I can have more energy for my family. On the days I struggle, I remind myself of the emotional WHY behind my decision and I say out loud what I will be choosing if I don’t make the right choice. So in this case, I would say to myself, If I eat those Doritos today I am choosing to feel bad and not be able to spend quality time with the boys. I may even be choosing to shorten my life by not eating healthy.

You may think that is harsh but studies show that people who connect a VERY emotional reason for accomplishing a goal are 79% more likely to succeed. Some studies show an even higher percentage.

So here is an example of a goal sheet for 2016. These are not really my goals but they were good examples. I use way more paper and lots of exclamation points on my goal sheet. As a side note, goals are not optional at my house and everyone knows they have to get up early and have them done or I “help” them set goals! LOL

Goals Sheet Example 2016

Step one: I choose one goal for each area of my life. I think four or five goals are as many as I can handle. I break it into Personal, Spiritual, Relational and Vocational. (If you are in school, that’s your vocation right now.)

Step two: Write out the What, Why and a general How.

Quarterly Goals Example SheetStep Three: Print out four quarterly sheets and outline each goal in more detail. These are the steps you are going to take each quarter to reach the yearly goal. If you want to lose 12 lbs this year, the quarterly goal is 3 lbs. Get it?

If you wait until the end of the year to check on your progress, you will just have some great resolutions and no accomplished goals. It takes organization and purpose to accomplish the things you want to do this year. Don’t take your life lightly. Why be average? Does your family deserve an “average you?” Does God deserve us drifting along without a purpose? He tells us in Jeremiah that he has plans for our future and wants us to seek him with all our heart. Sounds like a worthy goal to me.


 

Jeremiah 29:11-13

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

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Life Coaching: No Discipline? No Worries!

Life Hacks from Evona

RoosterI love to pretend that I am a country girl at heart. I love the thought of farming. I love the romantic idea of gently plucking vegetables that I have grown off the vine and nestling them in my “Little House on the Prairie” apron and serving them for dinner. The reality is that I don’t like bugs. I forget to water things and weeding is hard work. However, I get my fix every so often when Smelly Monster #3 and I “babysit” the chickens for our friends, Jim and Krista from Rugged Meats. (Really great, healthy snack option BTW!) Recently we were doing the chicken thing again but had some issues. When we showed up to their farm, the chickens were running around all over. Somehow the tribe (gaggle?, bunch?, school?) of chickies had escaped. For those of you not familiar with chicken raising (like me), it isn’t easy to get them back into their area once they escape. After many flying dives and lots of “shooing,” we only caught two hens. As a side note, both of those hens escaped while I was trying to catch a third! Smelly Monster #3 wasn’t much help due to the uncontrollable giggling that gripped him while watching me try to catch the wily animals.

We did notice that in addition to the hens, there was a proud rooster strutting around. This was a new development. Smelly Monster #3’s theory is that the rooster was a bad influence on the hens and encouraged them to give in to their natural tendencies and escape. I’m not sure if that is valid but it sounds reasonable.

Our natural tendency as humans is to give in and do what is easy. We don’t usually have a built in driver that gives us discipline and perseverance. These attributes take time and determination to develop. However, there are a few things you can do TODAY to make a huge difference in your life and they don’t depend on your discipline. (Or lack of discipline if you are like me!) These are Evona approved and tested and they work! I promise!

  1. Remove as many decisions as possible. In his book, The One Thing, Gary Keller says, “Willpower has a limited battery life.” This was a great read. If you want a book to read this year, try The One Thing from Gary Keller. If you know you have issues with motivation, remove any decision you have to make concerning that area. For example, I have to get the kids up and ready for school. After that, I really need to exercise. This is my window of opportunity. However, I don’t always do it because other things call my name…. social media, laundry, reading a book, a quiet bath, a second cup of coffee in a quiet house. The list could go on. To help me overcome my natural predisposition to be a couch potato, I set some things in motion. I get my exercise clothes on before I get the kids up. I put my sneakers on before they leave. I put my headset on and take my phone out with me on the porch to wave goodbye and then I start walking. I DO NOT go back into the house. This makes it a no-brainer. I am already dressed and outside. I might as well walk. This works for snacking at night. I have one small square of chocolate after dinner and don’t eat anything else. No decision. I don’t have to say no to the Oreo’s and ice cream. I have already made the decision.
  2. Plan your day the night before. I love notebooks. I know it is a digital world but something about having the paper in my hand helps me get things done. I write everything in notebooks. It doesn’t always make sense but it is written down. I write down the things I want to accomplish the next day. I write what we are having for dinner. I write any appointments, calls, errands or items that I want/need to accomplish. I then look back over it and decide what items are a must. Things like picking the kids up from school have to go to the top because I have found that the school frowns on leaving them overnight! You will be shocked how much more you get done if you wake up knowing what you need to do.

Life is about seasons. When you are fretting over all of the items on your list, spend the most time and energy on the things that only you can do. You are the only one who can be the mommy or daddy to your kids. You are the only one who can be the wife or husband to your spouse. Someone else can bake the homemade cookies for the school. Pick yours up at the store and spend those extra 30 minutes chasing chickens with your smelly monsters!

Are there any things you have found that help set you up for success even when your willpower and discipline are low? Share with the community and help us get off the couch!

Oh Mary, I hope you didn’t know!

Christmas 2015

Frink_Jones_Family_Christmas_Card_2015Recently there was a very difficult situation that involved one of my kids. It was hurtful and painful for the child involved and excruciating for me as a parent. I had to sit back and watch my baby (not much of a baby anymore) be hurt. It took all my restraint and spiritual maturity to respond with grace. When I get stressed or upset, I get a migraine. I could feel the headache right away. Three days later, I was still fighting the headache and the heartache. My initial reaction was to get involved and change the circumstances so that there wasn’t a chance for any additional hurt. Knowing that wasn’t best, I had to sit back and watch things play out. Parenting isn’t for wimps!

During Christmas I love to read about the birth of Christ. I am humbled by the sacrifice made by God and Jesus to provide a way for us to have a way to Heaven. I also love to read about Mary and Joseph. I feel empathy every time I read the story. I can only imagine how difficult the situation was on both of them. It was a horrible stain on Mary’s character and reflected so badly on Joseph that he could have had Mary stoned. I hurt for Mary as she had to keep all the things she knew in her heart. I love that she was able to find comfort with Elisabeth, her cousin.

We jump to Mary having to take a trip just when she was ready to have the baby. I can remember thinking that even a soft bed was uncomfortable right before I was ready to have the boys. Can you imagine riding on a donkey? I would love to have heard the conversation on that trip! Mary gave birth for the first time in a stable with animals and had to put her son in a manger rather than a clean baby bed. As the shepherds came to see the baby, we all wonder if Mary really understood and knew that she had just given birth to her Savior. I love the song written by Mark Lowry named “Mary, Did You know?” It was just performed by Jordan Smith on the Voice. Pentatonix has a great version as well. David Phelps  is still my favorite version.  Listen to the recording below.  The song asks if Mary knew all that was to come for her baby boy. What an amazing thought. Oh Mary, I hope you didn’t know!

Mary from the movie The Passion of the Christ

Mary from the movie The Passion of the Christ

Years later, after Jesus has been beaten, humiliated and hung on a cross we find Mary right there in agony watching it all play out. What a horrible position for a mother. In John 19:25 it says, “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother.” Can you even imagine? To stand by as the leadership of the day wrongly accuse your son and watch him beaten and then make the walk to Calvary with the cross on his back must have been terrible. The sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross was witnessed up close and personal by the one who loved him the most on earth. Boy, that makes my experience pale in comparison!

Christmas is tomorrow. A day of celebration but also of grief. A day that started a chain of events that allowed the reconciliation of man to God at a horrible cost. A wonderful day that showed the immense love God has toward us. How sad it would be for such a wonderful gift to be given at such a great cost only to be rejected. Oh Mary, I hope you didn’t know how much Jesus was going to have to suffer so that we would be able to enter Heaven. Friend, please take time to accept the gift God gave us on Christmas. It will change your life. If you have already accepted the gift, celebrate Christmas and the joy of Jesus’ birth with the shadow of Calvary across your home this year. Keep the focus off of material things and remember what a sacrifice the gift of baby Jesus was for all involved. Remember that we are called to live a life that compels others to want what we have. Merry Christmas to you and yours. I pray you cherish the day together and if you are alone, allow God to comfort you. Oh Mary, I don’t know if you knew, but I am thankful for your Son’s sacrifice for me!

 

Luke (Lucas) I am your Father!

Parenting with Star Wars

I can’t resist, with all the hype goiLucas at the Hospitalng on about the new Star Wars movie, telling a great story. Cliff was a big-time Star Wars fan. He loved the movies and knew them word for word. When we were first married, Cliff had a friend who would come over and they would quote the lines of the movie before the actors could say them. It was VERY annoying! When the Prequel Trilogy came out, Cliff had tiny Micah and baby Caleb sitting for hours watching the movies. Star Wars is very sentimental to all of us. We are excited to see the new movie. I vetoed going opening night but I am dressing up with Lucas when we go this week. I guess that earns me the mother-of-the -week not mother-of-the-year award!

When we found out that we were expecting our third baby, Cliff called the baby “little sister” for the first 20 weeks or so. On the day we found out that “little sister” was going to be “smelly monster #3,” Cliff knew right away what we would name the new baby. He was so excited. All of our boys have Bible names. Micah Daniel, Caleb Nathanael and now we would have Lucas Samuel. Lucas is used as another version of Dr. Luke’s name in Philemon 1:24. Now, I should have been tipped off right away that Cliff was so quick on the name. Warning bells should have gone off, but sadly they didn’t.

Right after Lucas was born, the doctor gave the “fresh from the oven” baby to Cliff. Cliff was a great dad and loved being a dad. He was so tender and emotional about the boys that it didn’t surprise me that he wanted to hold our newest one right away. It was a touching moment until Cliff’s inner performer couldn’t be suppressed, and he turned to me and the doctor and nurses in our room. He used his best Darth Vader voice and the first words said to itty, bitty Lucas were “Luke, I am your father!” LOL! What a character. Not only did Cliff pass on an interest in Star Wars, he passed on a love of life and passionate joy to all three of my boys. I am sorry to all the teachers who have them. It is their dad’s fault!

This story makes me wonder what values and principles I am passing down to the boys. Here are a few principles that I think are major game-changers in raising kids who love God and are successful:

  1. Joy is a choice. This one came from Cliff. He loved life and even when times were difficult, he chose to be joyful. If we link our circumstances to our emotions, we limit what God can do through us. Cliff showed joy in our home, in our church and to our family and friends. He even displayed joy during his battle with cancer. Many of you remember the Look-a-Like contest he had when his hair fell out. You have to check out the graphic he had Angela Cofield make for him. You can find so many hilarious and joyful moments in his blogs captured in our book Choosing Faith against the Odds. It is so important that we teach our kids that joy is a choice. Psalm 16:11
  2. Do right because it is right to do right. This one is from my dad. My dad taught me to make the right choice, not because it felt right or because it gave me the best outcome, but because it was right. So many times, when I have to make hard choices, his voice rings in my ears. If we base our decisions on the situation, we will make wrong choices. We need to teach our kids to do right no matter the circumstances. Proverbs 12:28
  3. Work hard. This one is from Larry. My boys told him the other day that they think he can outwork anyone they know. What an awesome thing for them to think. A good work ethic will help you succeed and stand out among others. If you are going to have to do a job, you might as well do it to the best of your ability. It makes you do better work and you feel better when you are done. We should teach our kids that doing a job well is a principle we admire and model it for our kids. Ecclesiastes 9:10
  4. Be faithful to your commitments. This one I learned from Cliff’s mom, Mrs. Kay. A defining characteristic of Mrs. Kay is that if you ask her to do something, it will be done. I have watched her wake up and go to church even when she was heartbroken. I have seen her treat others with care and love, even when they have hurt her or one of us. She is faithful and acts this way, because she is committed to Jesus. We must teach our kids to follow through and fulfill their commitments even when it isn’t convenient. We serve because of what Jesus did for us. Our level of faithfulness in all areas (home, work and church) is a reflection of our love for Christ. Matthew 25:21

A new Star Wars movie is epic in the Frink household because of the sentiment attached. What an awesome thing it would be to leave an epic legacy for our kids by teaching them life-changing principles that will help them draw closer to God and live a life for others. Make today the day you start! May the Force be with you!

What kinds of things hold a sentimental value to you and your family? I’ll post a picture of the family when we go see the Star Wars movie. Share your memories with us.