Category: Relationships

Reading Together: How Communities of Readers Can Transform the World

reading-togetherBooks are one of the most powerful tools in the world.

Books change the world by offering a new perspective.

Books inspire people to step out and take risks.

Books allow people to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, increasing a reader’s capacity for empathy.

Books explain, they instruct, they motivate.

Books offer another way forward, and get people talking.

Most of my favorite books inspire me towards action. And they are always ones I want to talk about with someone else. (more…)

Parenting as an Art (and sometimes art gets messy)

Make your own-3

It’s been awhile since I’ve shared an update on our Year of Positive Parenting.

To be honest, it’s been really hard.

There’s nothing more I want in life than to get this parenting thing “right”. And of course, the reality of parenting is that there is no “right”. Math problems have right answers. Jeopardy questions have right answers. Parenting does not have right answers. (more…)

Tripping Our Way Towards Gender Equality

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On the way home from dinner tonight, Aly was telling us how a classmate gave her candy in celebration of Polish Girl’s Day.

Isn’t it so fun that girls in Poland have their own day? But that got us wondering– is there a Polish Boy’s day too? And of course, since it is International Women’s Day, I was quick to tell them all about it and the kids were intrigued. Why did such a day exist? What about an International Men’s Day?

These kinds of conversations are some of my favorites to have with the kids. I love their natural curiosity and how unhindered they are in talking about the world as they see it. I’m also curious as to how they perceive the world. I know the version of the world I’m trying to point out to them; but as we all know, it doesn’t always translate how we hope.   (more…)

Date Night In: Puzzlemania

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One of my goals for this year is to be intentional about spending time with Jake. A big way we do this is by setting aside Friday nights for Date Night In.

We’ve done a variety of things for Date Night In, but if we’re not intentional about thinking up something creative to do, we end up on the couch snuggling and watching Netflix. While this is not a horrible way to spend a Friday evening after a long week of work and school, it’s always a good idea to change things up.

Date Night In Idea #1: Puzzlemania

This may sound lame to some, but listen– it’s NOT. (more…)

February Positive Parenting Challenge: No Yelling

No Yelling

I have a teensy bit of a confession.

When pushed towards familial chaos, my instinct is to start hollering.

And while I know why my first reaction is to do this, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I figure out ways to take a deep breath, count to 10, and with respect and firmness, speak calmly to my children.

Always.

And while I know we won’t be batting 100% on this one, that’s the goal. Because it really, truly matters that our home is a place of love and respect. And yelling quickly drains a home of those two things.

Does this mean we’ll never fight? No.

Does it mean we won’t have to ask forgiveness, sometimes multiple times a day? Nope.

Does it mean we’ll be all rainbows and roses and laughter? Ha!

It just means that we’re all aiming towards kindness and respect and love.  (more…)

2016: The Year of Positive Parenting

positive parenting

 

We’ve had a rough year or two with parenting.

Jake and I started out parenting with a whole lot of energy. Sure we were stressed at different points and made poor choices at others, but overall, we had more than enough patience, compassion, and stamina to parent our kids well.

We were committed to spending a lot of quality time with them, listening, asking good questions, looking behind the behavior into the heart, calmly redirecting and being generally playful.

Somewhere along the way things began to shift.

We got tired.

We got distracted.

We got tired some more.

Our patience grew thin and our words got lazy.

(more…)

Money

 

I feel like any good soul shaping series would include something about money, right?

Money is a subject that no one really likes to talk about. We don’t talk about how much money we make or how much we spend. We don’t talk about our debt or our generosity. I think I understand why. Maybe we feel like we will be judged for making too much money or too little. We feel embarrassed or ashamed by the amount of debt we have.

So, our money troubles stay inside; it remains a secret. We worry about it alone or perhaps with our partner.

Secrets often make our souls sick. (more…)

Review: Keep Your Love On

Jake and I aren’t really marriage book kind of people.

It’s not because we don’t need them (I’m sure we do).

It’s not because we don’t value our relationship (it’s an incredibly important priority).

It’s mostly because we don’t find marriage books to be very… well, interesting, and also because they tend to be fairly predictable. I’ve read a couple since we’ve been married, mostly during the first year and what I’ve found is that they generally have more of a role of cheerleader than provide sizable amounts of new information.

I received an email a few weeks ago about reviewing Keep Your Love On: Connection, Communication & Boundaries by Danny Silk, leader at Bethel Church in Redding, CA. At first I was going to say no, because, well, I was reading Harry Potter, and we’ve already established how I generally feel about marriage books.

But then I said yes.

Maybe because I hadn’t read a marriage book in a while. Maybe because this book had been out for only a month and it had a crazy number of amazon reviews. As I’m writing this, it already has 493 reviews on amazon, 93% of them being five stars. This impresses me. It’s not easy to get that many amazon reviews so quickly. So I gave it a chance.

loveon

Keep Your Love On! is a book that focuses solely on keeping the relational connection between the husband and wife strong. And while each person has a indispensable role, this book focuses on what the reader can do, despite how the other person responds or doesn’t respond. Danny helps the reader understand what keeps the connection strong, and also what weakens the connection.

Connection

Every relationship has one of two goals: connection or disconnection.

In relationships, we choose to behave and speak in ways that foster connection, or in ways that distance ourselves from others. Most of the time we don’t realize what we’re choosing. Sometimes, well, a lot of times, we do what we’ve learned. How our parents treated or didn’t treat one another is a huge influence in how we’ll react towards our spouses. Danny shares some helpful stories and walks us through some important questions to help us understand how all of that plays out in our lives. One of the key points throughout this section is we can only control ourselves. How we respond to our spouse is of utmost importance in our connection.

Communication

Danny opens up this section by explaining the 3 styles of communication: passive communication, aggressive communication and passive-aggressive communication. Knowing how you communicate is the key to learning to communicate better, with a focus on keeping the connection between husband and wife strong. He then builds from there, discussing how to have an effective conversation, what the goals are, what needs to be in place for both parties to feel understood and also to “keep the love on” during all of it.

This section was full of really insightful pieces of information that I somehow didn’t ever learn or perhaps learned and then forgot. Jake and I don’t do disagreements well. We both are so hard-headed and sometimes choose the desire to be right and “win” the conversation over the common good of the relationship. Some of you are laughing. Big shocker, I know ;).

One concrete thing I’m taking from this section is being applied to all my relationships, including my kids. Say what you need. And ask others what they need. My kids are totally passive, which probably reflects my passiveness at times. I would rather hint at what I need “Wow, I’m tired.” instead of “Jake, do you mind if I take the next 30 minutes off to read in a quiet place?”. Or, one of the kids will say, “I guess I’m just going to have to walk around like this all day (with her pajama dress stuck on top of her head).” and I’ve been a broken record saying, “Can you please tell me what you need?” instead of just helping her take it off. It sounds little, but I think it’s important to realize that I can’t read their minds, and that they can’t read mine, so it’s better for all of us if we’re explicit with our needs. I feel like this would probably solve half of the world’s problems. 🙂

Boundaries

Finally, Danny finishes up with a section on boundaries- basically choosing who you share what level of intimate information with as well as with who you spend how much time.

Overall, good book! Easy read, not too fast, no fluff. My only dislike about the book is the underlying goal of the reader to become a “powerful person” by choosing to be and do various things throughout the book.  I think he is using it in a “powerful in self-control” way, but the whole power metaphor sits wrong with me.

Anyway, If anything else, this title is a fantastic one to throw out there when you and your spouse are in a little tiff. Just look at them, smile warmly and say, “Hey baby, let’s keep our love on.” 🙂

Who Can You Talk To When Mothering Gets Rough?

In a society that is constantly moving and grooving, mentors can be hard to find.

This month the Mom Mentors are talking about OUR mentors as mothers. The answers may surprise you. Here’s what I wrote:

I’ve spent a lot of my last 10 years moving around (making consistent mentors hard to find), but despite this, I’m so blessed with a few women in my life that I can reach out to for guidance and encouragement. There’s a friend in Pennsylvania whom I call when my elementary kids have caught some weird new habit at school and I have to know if it’s normal or not.

There are a couple ladies in Missouri who have 5+ kids who I email, asking for advice on intentional parenting or whatever current parenting struggle I’m going through. I’ve found that these ladies have been particularly helpful because they know the unique struggles of having a gaggle of kids. Most recently it’s been about how to parent children as individuals instead of a herd!

Here in Madison I have a few friends who are amazing sources of encouragement, reminding me that until my youngest is 3, I’m still in the parenting fog stage, so relax.Finally, I have one mom friend in Kenya who is an incredible source of wisdom and gentleness, and brings a sense of cultural clarity to my parenting for which I’m so grateful!

How about you? Who are your mom mentors- the people you can watch and observe in everyday life (or pick up the phone and call) when you need an ear or advice about parenting?