11 Ways I am Going to Make this Summer Great

Summer 2016

  1. I am going to be purposeful. I woke up this morning and realized that two days of summer were already gone. I want every day to count. We only have 63 days or so of summer and I already used up two without being purposeful! Days don’t have to be full just be filled with purpose. Purpose to laugh. Purpose to relax. Purpose to engage. Purpose to recharge.
  2. I am going to include the kids in as many things as possible. Usually my summers are filled with work. I work from home so summers are not normally relaxing. I spend my summers hiding in my office or yelling at the kids to stop yelling! LOL! I have a treat this year and don’t have to live by a work schedule. I am going to include the kids in as many things as possible. Trips to the fruit stand. Walks to the mailbox. Dinner preparations. Late night movies. This may be my last summer to have my 3 boys home like this.
  3. I am going to eat as clean and natural as possible and spend more time on meals. I am not a fan of cooking. It isn’t my spiritual gift (Can I get an amen?) but summer time is a great time to enjoy fixing meals for the family. Get the kids involved. (See #2) I am going to look for new recipes and fix meals that might take a little longer than normal. I will eat fresh foods that will give me energy. This is a great way to recharge for the new school year.
  4. I am going to plan fewer things and spend more time on those things. I tend to go overboard on filling our schedule when I try to be purposeful. (See #1) Being purposeful doesn’t mean busy it means planning things that mean something. I am going to limit myself to 7 things on a list a day. (This is crazy!) This includes cleaning and errands. I want to take each day slower so that I can enjoy the things we are doing.
  5. I am going to simplify. When I clean I am going to purge our things. I am not going to add to our clutter. I want to have fewer things that mean more.
  6. I am going to be aware. I want to really listen when my kids are talking to me. I want to smile at strangers and help those around me. (This may get me in trouble. I will keep you posted.) I want to live in the moment and enjoy every event and day of the summer.
  7. I am going to fill my mind with scripture. I want my mind renewed before next fall. I know that the only way this can happen is if I fill it with scripture. I am going to read the Bible. I am going to listen to the cool English dude from the Bible app read scripture to me while I am working around the house. I am going to listen to uplifting songs. I want to heal the broken places in my heart and mind this summer and the only way to do that is to wrap them in truth, God’s Word.
  8. I am going to relax. I am going to give myself permission to do some things that I usually don’t make time to do. I am going to read. I am going to get my toes done. I am going to take a bath. (For the record, I do bathe, I just don’t get to soak and enjoy a bath!) I am going to sit by the pool. These things will recharge my mind and body and help me be a better mom.
  9. I am going to put my inner manager on hold. Things don’t have to be as orderly during the summer as they do during the school year. I am going to put my inner manager on hold and just enjoy events without the spreadsheets. (Yes, I have heard this can be done. I haven’t personally experienced this but it is a possibility.) I don’t always have to take charge. I can just sit under the umbrella and see what happens when I don’t take over.
  10. I am going to embrace the bumps. Things will not go as planned. I understand this. A crazy person told me that the best vacation they ever took happened because of a canceled flight and all their reservations were lost. Who knows? Maybe that crazy person is on to something? God might be hanging out in the bumps this summer. He might meet me at the intersection where my plan falls apart and His plan takes over.
  11. I am going to put my expectations on hold. I am going to wake up each morning and give my day to God. I am going to ask Him to fill my day with joy and peace. I am going to relinquish my expectations and live with expectancy. I am so excited to see what God has in store for me this summer! Summer 2016 here I come!

FORGIVENESS: A gift we give ourselves.

Character Series

Forgiveness giftForgiveness is letting go of an offense for Jesus’ sake. We don’t let go of things because the person who hurt us deserves forgiveness; we forgive because Jesus forgave us and He knows how important it is for us to let things go. Colossians 3:13

Forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves. It is about how WE respond not about the offending person. It frees us from the hold and control that person has over us and allows us to live in the abundance of joy. We are no longer harboring bitterness and allowing it to control our lives.

It doesn’t make sense to nurse a grudge and replay the offense over and over in our minds. Why allow them to hurt us over and over? When we replay the incident, we allow the pain and injury to happen again and again.

When we refuse to forgive, we sit at the table and mix a glass of poison mulling over the offense. We add more poison and stir it until it is thoroughly mixed and then drink the poison ourselves. Bitterness poisons the one who allows it to invade their life not the offender. Unfortunately, the offender is usually skipping along merrily while we are drinking the poison. They don’t even know we are bitter and unforgiving. Hebrews 12:15

Reconciliation involves the offender and the offended. Forgiveness only involves the offended. It is a gift we can give ourselves.

There are times we have a right to feel hurt. There are actions that people have taken against us that are unconscionable. People can really do horrible things. They are the ones with the problem. Why let them continue to have control? When you don’t forgive you are voluntarily allowing them to hurt you again and again.

Forgiveness rekindles our ability to be thankful. Forgiveness softens our heart toward God and others. Forgiveness frees us from bitterness than can take root and destroy our lives.

When Peter asked how many time should we forgive, I don’t believe Jesus’ answer was about allowing people to hurt us over and over. I believe Jesus said to forgive 70 times 7 so that we could experience the joy of a forgiving spirit. Every time the offense pops into your head (if you are like me it happens often) we should choose to forgive. When we do, we choose to give ourselves the gift of forgiveness and not allow the person who has offended us control over our emotions. Matthew 18:22

You Blink and They are Grown

View More: http://annieagarwal.pass.us/frink_jones_familyFrom the first time I can remember being asked this question until today my answer has been the same. “What do you want to do when you grow up?” Without a pause or hesitation, I say …. a mom! I love ministry. I enjoy working. However, my highest calling is being a wife and mom. It isn’t that being focused on family is easy, because you know it isn’t easy. We have suffered death and divorce. We have embraced and sometimes just endured change. We have dealt with depression and financial setbacks just like many of you. However, at the end of the day when all the dust settles and I walk from room to room checking on the kids, praying for each one, I am truly content.

These days there are fewer rooms to check. Soon there will only be two rooms filled and the other chickies will have flown the nest. By fall we will be sending one to Gainesville for her final semester in college and a wedding in December. One will be heading to Gainesville for her first semester of college. We will pack another off to seminary. You blink and they are grown.

This time of year is full of lasts, especially this year. The last band and chorus concert. The last day of high school. The last day of elementary school.  It is the end of an era for several of our kids and the beginning of the end for several of them as well. (They will be seniors next year.) It begins to feel like an out-of-control train. I find myself longing for the calm of summer. Yet, in the midst of this longing, I remember that in a few weeks things will never be the same. NEVER!

James 4:14

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

Don’t wish away these days. Live each moment to the fullest. You blink and they are grown. What a mighty responsibility to be allowed to leave fingerprints of faith on your kids. Each event and interaction with your family allows you to leave a lasting impression on their lives. Don’t allow stress and fatigue to steal the joy of the moment. There may only be a few of these moments left. Does it really matter if the house is perfect? It’s ok if dinner is take-out a few times this month. The tone and atmosphere of the home is more important than the dust on the floors or the lack of a perfect meal. Leave fingerprints of mercy and love on your family this season. Embrace the moment not the perfection of the event. Laugh at the mishaps and love your kids through the stress of this time of year. Show them that they are important not the perception of perfection.

You blink and they are grown.

  1. Stop focusing on the event and enjoy the people. Activities are overwhelming but don’t we plan and attend these events for the PEOPLE involved?
  2. Treasure the little things. Take time to hug. Skip a lecture and put their laundry up for them. Pack something strange in their lunch. Have a picnic for dinner. Turn the music up and dance. (Trust me…. the kids love this! LOL!)
  3. Look for the good in people and events. Nothing is perfect but there is good there if you look. So what if you don’t get the best seat for the concert? What if the final grade wasn’t as high as you hoped? You may have to rush from one event to the next but be grateful your child is still around for these things to be a problem. Embrace the chaos that comes with life and look for the good.

These days I catch myself wishing I had a few hours alone at home to write or maybe just clean the floors without someone tracking dirt on them right away. I woke up a few nights ago anxious and upset from a dream where the house was empty and I was running from one room to another looking for the kids. I know this probably means I need therapy but it did remind me to enjoy these busy days of May and June. You blink and they are grown…. and gone!

Psalm 89:47

Remember how short my time is: wherefore hast thou made all men in vain?

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Courage – From Bitter to Blessed!

Moms JoshuaCOURAGE, n. L., – Bravery; intrepidity; that quality of mind which enables men to encounter danger and difficulties with firmness, or without fear or depression of spirits; valor; boldness; resolution.

With a tender touch, she pulled her mother-in-law close and wrapped her arms around her small frame. The finality of the moment was suffocating. How many more losses could they survive? The feelings of pain and loss were so fresh that it was hard to breathe. Taking a step back, her mother-in-law took one last look at her dead son and turned toward home. Home for now. With the loss of her father-in-law and now both the boys Ruth wasn’t sure what would happen to them. The three widows walked silently along the street. Each woman trying to sort out the recent loss. Ruth and Orpah looked at each other over the top of Naomi’s head. Both girls knew that this may be more than Naomi could bear.

Days later, Naomi emerged from her room with shoulders stooped but a determined look in her eyes. Naomi was going home to Bethlehem. Falling to the floor, Ruth weeps brokenly. Grief is strangling her heart. Preparations are made and Ruth and Orpah walk Naomi out of the city of Moab back toward Israel. Every step reminds Ruth that this is the end. The end of love for her. The end of her marriage. The end of her dream for a baby. The end of a friendship that has sustained her through the death of her husband. Naomi embraces the girls and gently tells them to go back home to their fathers. The death of Elimelek and her boys leaves all three women without a home or land. They must go back to their families. Orpah kisses Naomi and turns back. Ruth clings to Naomi and makes a choice that will change the course of history. This doesn’t have to be the end.  Ruth steps out with courage and begs Naomi to allow her to stay by her side. She promises her faith and loyalty to Naomi and ultimately to God. Knowing that this choice will be life-changing and difficult, Naomi tries to persuade Ruth to turn back. The passion and courage that Ruth shows at this moment, perhaps the hardest moment of her life, gives us a glimpse into her soul.

Years later Naomi, who returned home bitter but through the love of a Moabite girl learned to trust God again, cuddles with her little grandson named Obed. Ruth was courageous and obedient and God rewarded her faith through a man named Boaz. A love story for the ages. In little Obed’s eyes Naomi sees not only her own redemption but the redemption of a nation. Obed would be in the line of Christ. Ruth’s courage changed the course of history.

Ruth 1-4

Is courage a character trait that matters? Yes! We must run our race with courage. Through loss and grief we must stand with courage. Through trials and testing we must embrace opportunities. Through joy and suffering we must have the courage to wait on God. Courage is something we need to nurture in ourselves and in our children. Many times our lack of faith and worry restricts our children from becoming courageous. They feel our fear and hide from God’s best. We need to free them to live in the abundant life that God is offering. We need to live with courage and allow our children to walk with courage.

Here are 3 ways we can live with courage and lead our children to live with courage:

  1. Respond boldly to circumstances and events – For Ruth this meant leaving home. Ruth 1:16
  2. Wait on God’s timing – For Ruth this meant waiting on the events to play out and not manipulating the situation. Waiting takes deep courage and faith. Ruth 3:18
  3. Take advantage of opportunities. – For Ruth this meant humbling herself and opening her heart to potential new loss and grief by going to Boaz. Ruth 3: 5

Joshua 1:9

Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

What is filling you with fear? Respond boldly! Is God asking you to courageously wait on His timing for an answer? Be of good courage! Embrace the opportunities before you with joy and courage! God is with you wherever you go.

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The Scoop on Advanced Placement vs. Dual Enrollment

Inspired Christian Parenting

scoopAs parents, shouldn’t childbirth, potty training and middle school earn us a lifetime pass? No so, my friend! If you are lucky enough to survive the drama and changes of middle school your reward is the joy of figuring out high school and what your kids will need to be ready for college! The pressure is on and the rules have changed since we were navigating these waters. When did kids start getting 5.7 GPAs? I thought 4.0 was perfect? Not. Any. More!

Here are a few tips from a battle-scarred mom who is working on her 4th child’s high school experience and still has one to go! Wow, I’m tired just typing that! LOL! You will find my opinions in pink below. These are just my personal opinions as a parent and my professional experience as an educator. Feel free to take these with a grain of salt!


Produce a healthy, well-adjusted graduate that is college/work ready.


Identify potential directions that fit your child and make sure as many of their options are still open to them by the time they graduate as possible. These paths can include vocational/tech training, Advanced Placement, Dual Enrollment, International Baccalaureate Programs along with sports, music and other extracurricular activities.

Let’s focus on two choices today: Advanced Placement and Dual Enrollment.

What is Advanced Placement (AP)? – Advanced Placement is a national program run by the College Board. Yes, the same nonprofit that administers the SAT.  Believe it or not, it dates back to the 1950’s. Read more on the history. An Advanced Placement or AP class is a college-level course taught at your child’s high school or with an online provider. The goal of an AP course is to expose students to high academic rigor to prepare them for college-level work. The reward for taking these types of classes is a weighted grade in high school (Read more about this in an upcoming post. GPAs are an article of their own!), a college credit if the AP exam is passed and the potential of advanced placement in college because you can skip the lower level courses you took as AP and go on to courses in your chosen field of study. Accepting AP credit is up to the university or higher institution. We have found that they accept (matriculate) the credits but not always for the courses taken. Many times the university counted the credit as a humanities or elective credit. English, math, psychology and history courses were the most widely accepted in our experience. The higher level and more specific the course the greater chance it became an elective or humanities credit.

Who should/can take AP classes?  Most schools offer a select group of AP courses. There are 38 AP courses listed on the College Board site but your child’s school won’t offer all of these courses. It is common for there to be an application process or nomination process at a school to select students who are academically ready for the AP experience. In my opinion, you should evaluate your individual student and place them in classes where they are strong and gifted in that subject area. AP classes are hard and demanding and can stress kids out. Studies are showing that teens rate their stress level at a 5.8 on a 1 to 10 scale. This is actually HIGHER than the average 5.1 adult rating of stress. The trend is to put academically strong students in all AP classes. I believe that this isn’t necessary and many times harmful. Choose courses where your child excels or a subject they enjoy. AP courses are great but your child doesn’t have to take AP Calculus if they are struggling with math. You can pick and choose what courses your child takes so don’t do the shotgun method. Remember your objective is to have a healthy, well-adjusted graduate. 

What is dual enrollment/concurrent enrollment? Dual enrollment, also called concurrent enrollment, is a program usually overseen by the state that allows students to be enrolled in two academically related institutions. So basically they are taking one course that counts for high school and college credit. They would be enrolled in both the high school and college institutions. The goal of a dual enrollment course is to help students transition into college level work. The reward for taking these types of classes is a weighted grade in HS (Read more about this in an upcoming post. GPAs are an article of their own!), a college credit if the class is passed and a greater course selection. There is also a financial incentive to take dual enrollment courses so that you can earn college credits free during high school. If you pass the courses you may not have to take those courses when you transition to full-time college attendance. In our experience, dual enrollment courses are easier to transfer to other colleges because they are coming from an existing higher education institution. It is college to college rather than just an exam grade.

Who should/can take dual enrollment/concurrent enrollment? Students who are showing initiative and high performance in high school level courses and are organized are great candidates for dual enrollment. The biggest struggle when taking dual enrollment courses is getting used to the college work format. Assignments are given in a syllabus and students are expected to keep up with the expectations and requirements without close teacher supervision. This is a new dynamic for many high school students. Many states have a grade level eligibility requirement as well as a GPA requirement. Our experience with dual enrollment has been positive. The structure was a huge adjustment and the transportation was a challenge. We have also struggled with adapting to the different approach some college level teachers take compared to the high school teacher interaction. It was a great learning experience. Online dual enrollment courses are an amazing choice for those who don’t want their younger students on a college campus or for those with schedule or transportation issues.

Advanced Placement Dual Enrollment
Where is it taught? Usually the local HS or an online provider. Usually on a college campus but can be taught by a qualified HS teacher at the local school. Can also be taken online through the college.
How long does it take? Most courses take a year of HS classes to count for a semester of college. One semester for each course
Cost Some states pay for the AP exam but if they don’t the exam costs $85. Free for public school students in states that offer dual enrollment. Home school and private school kids may have to pay for their books.
Who oversees the program? National non-profit College Board Usually a local agreement between a state/county and the local junior or state colleges
Transportation Taught at school so the students don’t have to go off campus Students fit going to the college into their daily schedule. The parent or student are responsible for getting the student to the college campus. Online dual enrollment classes are wonderful if you have a transportation issue or concern about your student being on campus.
Credit Weighted high school GPA credit and college credit if the exam is passed and a college accepts the credit Weighted high school GPA credit and college credit if the class is passed.
Rigor AP classes tend to be very hard and usually have a lot of homework preparing the student for college. However, the teacher is tasked with helping the student to grow academically during the year to learn to perform at a college level. The quality of the teacher seriously impacts the students’ performance on the AP exam. You can ask about a teacher’s pass rate for the exam. This isn’t out of line or rude. There are books written to help students pass the AP exam if they don’t feel prepared by the class experience. Almost all AP courses help students learn to write and answer essay questions well. Students are expected to perform at a college level right off the bat. There are no exceptions or modifications made for dual enrollment students. Many times the teacher doesn’t even know the student is a HS student. Once again, the level and rigor of the class depend on the teacher.
Class Choices 38 approved AP classes available. Hundreds of class choices based on the agreement between the state/county and the colleges
States that offer the program From what I can tell, any student can take an AP class but it may not be offered or paid for by the state. Many online providers offer AP courses that families can pay for on their own. 25 states have funded AP programs. 46 states have active programs.
Greatest Benefits Organization of information and the ability to take a cumulative test. Great writing skills are developed in almost every AP class. Colleges like to see AP courses on a transcript. Autonomy needed to succeed in college. Adjusting to the college format and lower supervision of daily work by the teachers. Shorter time for each course so you can fit in more college credits during high school. Colleges like to see that a student has taken dual enrollment courses.

The bottom line is that I am a fan of both AP and dual enrollment if used correctly. I have found that the school guidance counselor is a great resource. Make friends and reach out to them often. They can help you find the right fit for your child and will know how to sign up for each type of course. Guidance counselors are super busy but love it when parents engage in the process.

Feel free to comment below with any information or questions you may want me to address. I love to learn from you! Please share this article (FB, Twitter buttons below) with other parents dealing with “High School Overwhelm!”

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Mindset: The Story We Tell Ourselves


MomentumI am not a morning person.

I have so much to do today.

Parents are crazy lunatics in car line.

Exercising is really hard.

All of these things are true but they are not the story I want to tell. We are in charge of our story. The first person to hear our story is ourselves. Of course I am not going to have a good day if I begin every morning telling myself how much I hate mornings. Instead of focusing on how much I have to do today, I need to reframe my story to focus on how much I am going to get done today. Car line is truly full of lunatics but the drive to school is such a sweet time with Lucas. Exercising is really hard but what else can I do that gives me so much time to myself without feeling guilty…. AND my pants fit better when I exercise. How different my story becomes when I reframe my thoughts.

There are 4 main parts to MINDSET. Let’s talk about the first one today.


Because God chose to make me a boy mom, I have to do things that are not in my comfort zone. Things like camping and outdoor activities are not my cup of tea. However, I know it is important. Last year, Larry and I took two of the three monsters to Colorado for a vacation before a work conference I had in Denver. Everyone wanted to snow ski. Me… not so much. My compromise was snow tubing. I did a lot of reading and research and it seemed fun but much safer. I wasn’t excited about doing it myself but the boys insisted.

As a Florida girl, I am clueless about winter clothing. I bought us all snow shoes, snow overalls and very large puffy jackets. We looked like the Michelin Man’s family. I was especially hideous in a very bright pink coat with a fluffy ruffle around my hinder parts. I had so many layers on that I couldn’t put my arms down. They just kind of stuck out at an angle. The worst part was that it was a beautiful day in Colorado and many folks were just in light jackets and jeans.

After purchasing our tickets, we rode the lift to the top and the boys jumped into their tube and flew down the mountain. I was very anxious. I was stressed out that Lucas was already ahead of me on the trail. I was concerned that they had not given us any directions on steering the tubes (FYI.. you can’t steer them!) and we didn’t have a plan for meeting up at the bottom of the mountain. What was I thinking???? I started backing up and shaking my head. However, I was next in line. They made me sit down in the tube and even with me yelling “no, no, no” they (Larry) pushed me off the edge and down I flew. My “no, no, no” screams became “Yesssssss!” as I felt the exhilaration of the moment. The momentum carried me all the way down to the bottom of the mountain. What a great experience. Skiing is definitely going to be my next adventure.

Here are some things to remember about a Mindset of Momentum:

  1. Our emotions follow our actions. Don’t let your fear or worries lead. Jump into the tube and go! Once you are flying down the mountain, your emotions catch up.
  2. Once you get moving things happen. I couldn’t believe how much happened just because I made one movement on the top of the mountain. A mindset of momentum does that for us. One small decision sets off many other wins in our lives.
  3. There may be “no” moments every time. I went down the mountain 25 times or so that day. I had a “no” moment every time I was at the top. However, the story I kept repeating in my head was that I had done it before and it was fun. Don’t be surprised at the “no” moments but don’t give in. Tell yourself the story you want to be true.

I was recently on a call with a well-known person who was giving me some life coaching. My biggest take-away from our conversation was that I needed to go ahead and take action. He asked me what my plan was and made sure I had thought it through and then recommended that I just go for it. His experience was that there are many things that you can’t figure out or deal with until you are moving in a direction. It takes momentum.

Average lives can accidentally happen. Greatness takes a purposeful mindset. If you want to accomplish great things, be intentional about the story you tell yourself. You are the writer. Tell a great story and jump in the tube today and get some momentum going. You will be amazed at how great the ride will be!

Philippians 4:8

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.


3 Ways to Prepare Your Kids for Failure

Mentoring Teens Series

So I realize that the first baby is like the first batch of cookies. Either too crispy or too mushy and really brown on the edges. However, I can’t ignore the huge gift my first Smelly Monster has given me…. TONS of great blog stories! LOL!

There are some things that only church kids understand. We bought Micah a Potato Head toy and heBro Potato head loved it and insisted on calling it Bro. Potato Head rather than Mr. Potato Head. Cliff had a lot of fun with that!

I know that Caleb almost died several times while Micah “baptized” him in our pool.

There was nothing more sacred than the “flippy Bible” around our house. It was the reason the boys were sword drill champions!

Micah was born competitive and raised to win. (My fault!) Recently during dinner, the kids (Frink-Jones Gang) were laughing and telling stories about the cup stacking phase that went through our church. It was a game they played upstairs in the children’s ministry for “fun.” When that phase started, Micah came home and told me about the new game. We went directly to the teacher supply store (Amazon wasn’t really around back then) and bought a set of “official” cups so that he could practice during the week. He watched the training video and practiced for hours each day so that he could win. Hanna loves this part of the story. Micah showed up to junior church ready to take everyone on in cup stacking. Hanna beat him soundly every time. This is amazing since Hanna is not known to be overly athletic or coordinated. (Sorry Hanna but I have seen you try to do a cartwheel!) Losing to Hanna obviously was a big blow to Micah’s emotional psyche and he has challenged Hanna to a rematch. I’ll keep you posted!

Failure is a natural (and needed) part of every child’s life. I didn’t really understand this until I put the boys in school. After home schooling for 7 years, they were very indignant over any red marks on their papers. It was a big adjustment for them to realize that they might miss something and get it marked wrong! Here are 3 ways we can help our kids prepare for big and small failures in their lives:

  1. Accept responsibility! Own it! We all mess up. That isn’t the issue. How we handle things WHEN we mess up is what matters. Always accept responsibility. Too many people in our society blame everyone else for their issues and keep the “victim mentality.” Life isn’t fair and we can’t control everything. However, the one thing we can control is how we respond. When you own it, you can change it! Once you accept responsibility you can do things differently the next time.
  2. Be thankful. Even in failure, there are blessings. Take the time to dwell on those before you throw the pity party. Failure gives us context for our next try. Thomas Edison is quoted as saying, “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways to NOT make a light bulb.” Help your kids to recognize the learning that happens in failure.
  3. Do something different! Once you own the failure and you put it into context, you HAVE to make changes so that you don’t repeat history and fail again. You can’t do the same thing over and over and expect different results. If your child doesn’t get up on time and you have to wake them up, go over what they can do to change the next morning’s results. Maybe they need to get a louder ring tone or move their phone/clock across the room. Whatever the change, they need to take action.

A person is only as successful as their response to their failures. Our kids will fail. Help them learn to fail with grace and learn and grow. I wish that missing points on a math test were the only failures we have had to face but we all know those are small potatoes. Use those small failures to help your kids learn to fail so that they can bring honor to God in ALL they do!

20,000 Opportunities to Mess Up!

Moms Quote

Proverbs 10:19

 In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.

There is some controversy over who uses more words in a day. Historically it has been reported that women use around 20,000 words and men use about 13,000. Statistics are all over the place now. What isn’t controversial is that we use A LOT of words in a day. I feel stressed already thinking about 20,000 opportunities to mess up, just today!

Right after Cliff died, I was given a job at Seffner Christian School by my friends Roger and Jody Duncan. They knew I needed help and there was a HS teaching position open. They allowed me to work part-time and all three of the boys were on campus with me. It was such a blessing.

About 3 weeks into school, one of the Smelly Monster’s teacher asked me to stop by during lunch. There was a problem. Uggg. Just what I needed, more problems! I got all worked up and stressed out as I walked to see the teacher. I had prepared a speech for the teacher explaining why the Smelly Monster was having issues adjusting. My Smelly Monster’s first-year teacher asked me to sit down and she took the chair behind the desk and I had to sit in one of the tiny kid seats on the other side of the desk. Not a fun seat to occupy as many of you know. She proceeded to share with me how disappointed she was in my Smelly Monster because of the really bad language he used. I was mortified. We called the offending Smelly Monster into the conversation and I asked him what was going on.

His excuse was that I used that bad word all the time at home! I thought I would die right there. I was so embarrassed and knew the Smelly Monster was just making that up. I didn’t use curse words at home. I was the Pastor’s wife for Heaven’s sake! After further conversation and a lot of coaxing, I was able to get my Smelly Monster to whisper the bad word so we could figure out what was going on. If I thought I was embarrassed earlier, I really wanted to die after he told me the word that has caused him to move his bumble bee all the way down the behavior chart and get sent to the principal’s office!

Crap. The word was crap. The problem was that I really did say that word all the time at home! (Probably still do. Don’t tell my mom!) We both apologized to the indignant first-year teacher and walked out with our heads hung low.

I learned a very valuable lesson that day about my words. Even though crap is only a level 2 bad word, it still caused hurt and held consequences for both me and my Smelly Monster. As a side note, here are the bad word levels created by Smelly Monster #3. He is a trip!

Level 1 – Words that are mean that we can’t say. (Stupid, shut-up, idiot…)

Level 2 – Gross words that we aren’t allowed to say. (Fart, Crap, poop,)

Level 3 – Words that are bad but are used in the Bible. (Hell, damn, ass)

Level 4 – Really bad words that we can’t even list and don’t even spell when someone else says them.

Here are some lessons I have learned due to my propensity to get myself in trouble with my words:

  1. Take a deep breath. I KNOW that I use that for #1 on every issue. However, it works! It is scientifically proven that deep breathing brings more oxygen into your bloodstream and helps all of your organs function better, especially your brain! Psalm 46:10 reminds us to stop and be still and let God remind us who is in charge.
  2. Let it go. This is one of my goals this year. I don’t have to have my say. I don’t have to have the last word. I don’t have to share my opinion. I rarely regret NOT saying something. Daily I regret words I did say. Proverbs 10:19 reminds us that sin lives in the midst of many words. The fewer words we say when there is an issue, the better off we will be. (Ecc. 5:3, Prov. 6:2)
  3. Don’t jump to conclusions. So many times, I don’t hear the entire matter out and jump directly to the conclusion. I allow my emotions to take over and say hurtful and uninformed things that don’t lift up others. One of the Smelly Monsters recently told me that I never let him finish when he is explaining a situation. I felt so bad. This is an area I need to change. Proverbs 18:13 says that those of us that answer a matter before we hear it bring hurt and shame to ourselves and others.

My dad died several years ago but I can still see him in my mind and hear his voice as he would try to get me to think before I would say things. He would say, “Evona, Proverbs 17:28. Even a fool is counted wise when they just keep their mouth closed.” I’m still working on that!


The Setting for Success

Life Coaching

My summer setting!

My summer setting!

Over this past summer we remodeled our home. Looking back, I would have done things VERY differently for sure. Because we were replacing the carpet and old tile with wood floors, we only had a few spaces to store our furniture. Those small spaces (bathrooms and the laundry room) were not enough to house all our furniture. Therefore, it wasn’t uncommon to come home from being gone and find the kitchen table on the front porch and the refrigerator in the living room. It was a fun game for a few weeks. Dinner was kind of like a picnic, but it got old very fast. One evening they laid the floors between the kitchen and the family room area where the table ended up that day. We had to cook and fix our plates, go out the back door, go through our bedroom and do parkour (graceful jumping) over the fresh floor in front of the stairs to get to the family room area. This wasn’t easy with a dinner plate in your hand. Caleb and Abby were the most graceful jumpers. Our attitudes, productivity and joy were all impacted by the chaos in our setting. For months after we were done with the remodel, we would go searching for the refrigerator in the living room out of habit.

As a former HS English teacher, I used to teach the importance of “setting” in a story. Setting sets the stage. The setting gives the tempo and mood for a story. Imagine a romantic dinner set at McDonalds. Think about a dramatic spiritual moment set in a bar. The setting really matters. It impacts the interpretation and outcome of a story.

We are living a story. What kind of story do we want to tell? Do we want to be average? Make a minimal or average impact on the world? Do we want average kids and an average spouse? Do we want to make an average income and accomplish average things? One area we can use to impact our story is the setting. We have a lot of control over our setting. We can change and arrange things to set ourselves up for above average success.

Here are 4 ways successful people arrange their setting for success:

  1. They have a personal space. This may be a corner in your room or a closet. This may be the spare bedroom or a home office. The type and amount of space isn’t as important as having a space that is yours. This can be a space to do your devotions or write or work. It doesn’t matter what you do, just that it is yours. You should design this pace to reflect your personal taste and needs. Do you need peace? Go minimal and play calm music. Do you need motivation? Tape pictures of things that energize and motivate you. Do you need inspiration? Hang quotes and impactful images that move you. You get my point. Create a space to escape the emotional vampires and recharge your batteries.
  2. They simplify. A recent study out of California reveals the connection between depression and clutter. Get rid of the excess. This is a great principle that works in every area of our lives. Creativity and success grow in the margin we provide in our lives. If you are overwhelmed with stuff and activities, you won’t have the energy to succeed.
  3. They physically set up things to maximize their time and energy. A good example is if you want to learn to play an instrument, set it in a place where you see it and can practice easily. You won’t practice as much if it is a chore to get set up. Put your personal items in the same place every time. Larry’s wallet and keys are ALWAYS in the same spot when he is staging thing for work. Only have useful items in your home. Don’t buy stuff just to decorate. Buy things that have meaning and usefulness. Think about your desk or work space. Is it distracting or is it set up to maximize your time? Do you have all the things in the same place to accomplish your tasks or are you unorganized and spending time looking for things? Think about your kitchen and cooking space. Do you have the right items staged in the right place? Do you clean up things as you go or do you leave it all a mess to be dealt with later?
  4. They create a safe setting. Our setting needs to be a place of encouragement and safety. A place where we can be ourselves and know we are loved. Surround yourself with encouragers. Not “yes men,” but true encouragers that uplift you and challenge you to be the best possible “you” that you can be. You will have people who want to see you fail. Don’t allow those people to set the mood and setting in your life.

There are many aspects of success that you can’t control but you can control a lot things about your setting. Take a few minutes to use this checklist below to evaluate your setting and see what small changes you can make that will pay big dividends.

Yes =                    3 points

Sometimes =     2 points

No =                     1 point

 _____ 1. I have a personal space that reflects my tastes and needs.

_____ 2. I know what energizes me. (Peace, motivation, inspiration……)

_____ 3. My personal space is clean and organized.

_____ 4. I am usually on time and remember appointments.

_____ 5. My home, personal space and car are free of clutter.

_____ 6. I rarely have to look for things.

_____ 7. I am very organized and plan ahead.

_____ 8. I think ahead and stage things for the next day.

_____ 9. When I cook or do projects around the house I have the items for that task all in the same place.

_____ 8. I have at least one person in my life that provides encouragement and accountability.

____ 10. I take time every day to recharge myself personally.

____ 11. I have extra time in my schedule for creativity.

____ 12. I have margin and don’t have every second booked.

____ Total

If you scored 26 or lower you should consider reevaluating your setting. You could be limiting your success by not having the right setting.

Next week we are going to talk about mindset. What types of thoughts and attitudes does it take to live a fulfilled and successful life? Let’s chat next week. It all starts in your mind!

A Thankful Perspective

Ok, so it happened. I am not happy about it but this is life. I have to wear Tree and Blur (1 of 1)reading glasses. Buying cute stylish glasses only slightly dulls the pain of having to wear them. I don’t know when it happened but recently I found that my arm wasn’t long enough. I have been moving things further away so that I could get my eyes to focus but my arm suddenly isn’t long enough! The hardest things to read right now are medication directions. I don’t know whose idea it was to put so many tiny words on a bottle but they are impossible to read. Smelly Monster #3 needed cold medication. I picked up the bottle and squinted to bring the words into focus. I had pretty much decided that I knew how much to give, when the little Monster tapped my shoulder and handed me my glasses. He might have mumbled that it wasn’t in his best interest to be overdosed because I was too proud to wear my glasses. Kids! However, as soon as I put the glasses on things looked entirely different. They came into focus. My perspective changed. I was no longer squinting and holding the bottle 2 feet away trying to figure out the dosing. I could easily read the directions. (Just in case the Smelly Monster Grandma reads this, I was right and wasn’t getting ready to overdose the Angel Monster!)

Thankfulness is the lens that filters out pride and pity. It sorts through the blurry haze of pain and loss. Thankfulness puts life into focus. Psalms 100 is the go-to Bible chapter for thankfulness. However, before we enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise the Psalmist reminds us to remember that the one we serve is God Almighty. He created us. We didn’t do this by ourselves. This tiny principle should change our perspective and allow us to focus on the bigger picture. When we are thankful we look beyond ourselves and see things in light of eternity.

4 actions that help put things into focus:

  1. Embrace God’s sovereignty. It is humbling and comforting to know that there is someone bigger than me who is in charge. II Chronicles  20:6 We can rest in the confidence that God is in control and that He is actively aware of what is happening. He is God in Heaven. We can be thankful that he has things under control.
  2. Remember that God is always good. Psalm 136:1 Circumstances are not always good but God is always good. His mercy endures even when our perspective is self-focused. He loves us more than we love our children and that is something I can’t even comprehend. We can be thankful that God’s goodness endures in spite of our frailties.
  3. Ask for wisdom. James 1:5 It is OK that we don’t get it. We are not able to understand the ways of God. His ways are higher. Turn to the one who holds the answers and ask for wisdom and understanding. He won’t fuss. It is an act of faith to turn to God for the answers. We can be thankful that we have access to the one with the answers.
  4. Walk in truth. Col. 3:16 We need to be very careful what and who we allow to speak into our lives. We have to make sure we are only giving real truth a seat at the table. The world, our own sin nature and Satan want to speak their “truth” into our hearts and it can really mess us up. We should fill our mind and heart with scripture. Listen to uplifting music. Lean on seasoned Christians. Read books and blogs that speak God-based truth into our lives. We can be thankful that we have the real truth.

The graphic today shows a tree in focus and the background in a total blur. How many times have we allowed our circumstances to become our focus and miss all the blessings that are going on in the background? The tree in the picture is our fear, pain or loss. God wants us to step back and allow the lens of thankfulness to filter and bring into focus his ultimate purpose in our lives.

What events in your life have caused you to become focused on the “tree?” What can you do today to look through the lens of thankfulness and see God working?