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“Look at Mo!” several voices called out around me. I steadied myself on our boat and turned around to see our small white-haired Bichon Poo swimming frantically through the water towards me. His head was barely above water and the waves lapped over his face, but he was the most determined little dog-paddler I had ever seen.

Minutes before, my husband and a boat full of kids had pulled into the beach area.  As kids piled off to give turns to the next group, I kicked off my flipflops on the beach and grabbed a towel for the next ride.   I proceeded to wade the distance out to where the boat was anchored, not noticing our little puff ball of a dog whining and pacing on the beach where I had left him in the commotion of all the people getting in and out of the water.

I had reached the boat and was climbing aboard when Mo started swimming.

There are two things about Mo that you should know.

 

One, he has NEVER voluntarily swam in the water anywhere anytime (most likely because he fell off the back of a fast moving speed boat when he was just a wee pup and was under water much longer than he probably liked).

Two, he loves me more than I can even imagine.

 
It was the combination of these two facts that made the event so amazing. Mo, who most likely watched me in total anxiety as I left him alone on the beach to get on the boat, decided to overcome his great fear of the water out of sheer love. He was going to swim to me no matter what the cost.

 
I turned to my friend on the boat as we watched Mo paddle towards us and shook my head, “Mo loves me more than he is afraid of the water.”

 
Love casts out fear.
Fear holds us back from so very much.

 
Love overcomes fear, diminishes it, loosens its grip on our lives:
~It is the wife who continues to trust even when trust has been broken because she loves her husband more than the fear of betrayal.
~It is the mother who lets her child soar with her dreams even though she wants more than anything to just keep that child home, safe.
~It’s the neighbor who loves sharing God with others, because he knows what it has done in his life, more than the fear of being rejected.
~It is love of freedom that helps overcome the fear of letting that addiction go.                                               ~It is love of restoration and healing that allows us to swallow our pride (and the fear attached, of losing or not being right)                                                                                                                                                        ~ It is the love of pursuing our dreams that overcomes the fear of failure

 

Its you and me, loving God more than the fear of what life holds, and choosing to trust and walk with him even in the most desperate and uncertain of circumstances.

That day a little dog created a picture for me that I will carry forward.  I can push through my fears with love as my motivator.

 
What, friends, are we afraid of? Loss? Rejection? Betrayal? Death?  Failure?

Whatever that fear, find what you love MORE and lean into it.  Let it become more powerful than anything else.

Try this:  I love _________________more than I fear ________________.

There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.  The Message, 1 John 4:18

And where do we find the strength to do that?  We fix our eyes on Jesus.  The one who gives strength, miraculous peace, healing, power, hope, and confidence to our fearful souls.

As Mo reached the back of the boat, his little eyes that were filled with terror fixed on me.  His mom.  The one thing that he lives for (pathetic but true).  I reached down and pulled his wet soggy body out of the water, wrapped him in a towel and held him close.   He didn’t care where we were going, or how long we would be on the boat.  It didn’t matter.  His fear was gone.  His love had conquered the distance between he and his mama.

Happy Valentines Day!

~Amy

You can find more about life, faith and design on my Instagram @amyleehayes

Also, join our Blog Community on Facebook!  http:[email protected]

 


My husband read a quote on Facebook today:

“I was going to quit all my bad habits in 2017, but then I remembered nobody likes a quitter.”

Ha ha!  That quote speaks to what many of us are thinking about as the calendar changes to a new year.  We want renewal and change but our good intentions often aren’t fulfilled.

As I mentioned in my last post, I am kind of a New Year’s Resolution geek.  And my family gets to entertain my obsession with goal setting just because they love me and don’t really have a choice.  I only subject them to this once a year–when we do our family New Year’s Resolution/Goal-Setting night.

All kidding aside, I do think there are some great benefits for taking the time to work through goal-setting as a family; specifically two:

  1. Our kids learn the habit of self-reflection and the practice of change.   It is actually quite easy to move through life without looking back to analyze what we has worked for us and what we can improve upon.  Successful businesses do this annually (or even quarterly). They review the numbers or the growth they are trying to measure and make changes accordingly.  Why not do this with ourselves and our families?  In seeing what did or didn’t work last year we can then work on changing ourselves going forward.  I want our kids to learn the gift of self-reflection.
  2.  Our kids learn how to set concrete goals and steps for achieving  them. We have all heard how the road to bleep is paved with good intentions.  Well, I would love our children to learn the art of actual change and be able to look back on the year and see how their steps toward improvement made a positive impact on their lives. I want them to feel empowered in their lives with the ability to get “unstuck” if needed.

So in early January Jon, the kids and I sat down and worked through some questions and then talked about them as a family.  We gave the kids a chance to identify some areas of their lives that they were happy with and some areas where change might be needed or wanted, and we did the same for ourselves.  It was great and I would encourage you to give it a try!

If you would like to have a Family Goal-Setting Night, here are some questions for everyone participating to ask themselves:

  1. WHAT are some areas you would like to work on this year?  For kids some examples may be in academics or sports or cutting back on social media.  For adults some examples may be finding more time to connect with your spouse or goals with your work life or homemaking.
  2. What are the SPECIFIC goals you want to work on in the areas you picked?
  3. WHY do you want this to be a goal? This is one of the most important questions to ask–if we don’t have our strong “why,” the chances of change are pretty slim.
  4. What are the specific STEPS you can take this year to achieve your goals?

If you are like me and want a more structured plan than open ended questions, I created the FAMILY NEW YEAR GOAL-SETTING PRINTABLE

In the printable each family member can draw circles around areas where they want to set some new goals (spirituality, friendships, healthy eating, social media, screen-time, and family relationships to name a few) and then they can work through how to accomplish those goals.

EXAMPLE

Here is an example from my own life that I gave our kids as they worked through the printable:

One of my resolutions for 2017 is with meal planning.  Last year I put as one of my new year’s goals “to increase the variety and consistency of making meals for my family.”  Well, I totally flopped in achieving that goal, and it was a source of frustration for me all year.

But instead of feeling like a total failure as a kitchen maven,  I took some time to really look at why my goal didn’t work. In 2016, two of our children had their license, all were in sports or working, involved in youth group activities, and my husband traveled about twenty nights out of the month.  We had a revolving front door, with busy teenagers and constantly moving parts.

Even when I thought everyone would be home for a meal, I was constantly disappointed that I had made the effort to cook (something I don’t particularly enjoy) when plans would change and no one was there to eat it.  And when the kids did trickle in they were not hungry since they had eaten a snack at work or church.

So this year, I am still going to make it a goal, but tweak it a little. (In the printable I created, each family member can work through these four questions):

AREA: Homemaking

GOAL: Planning meals that work for my family’s busy schedule

WHY: This is still an important need for my family and it makes me feel good when our kids are served a nutritious meal at home.

SPECIFIC STEPS:

  1. To prepare a variety crock pot meals that the kids can eat whenever they arrive home.  This is far more flexible and appealing than a meal on a plate in the fridge that needs to be reheated.
  2. To make sure that in our family meeting on Sunday nights I am aware of everyone’s schedule and they are aware of what nights I am making the effort to cook so they come home hungry and expecting a meal.

This was a great exercise for me to work through personally, and I hope you and your loved ones can find some time to do the same.

Click HERE if you would like to try this with your family!

~Amy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Are you craving an updated space to work?  Or to organize your mom-life?  Home offices tend to be one of the last places we “design” (my own office is a testament to that) because they are often out of view so we don’t care how it looks, and it can feel overwhelming because of the organization involved.

I have worked on three offices for friends in the last few months, in fact I am finishing up this one with my friend Jamie Larson from The Snap Society today:

But the makeover I want to showcase today is my friend Kelly’s office.  Kelly runs a successful online business out of her home called Directly Successful and needed a functional and inviting place to work.   We went to work this fall and we are both so pleased with how it turned out.

Before I show you pictures however, I want to share with you two key areas to focus when redesigning an office space that works for you:  FUNCTION and STYLE.  Not only does your space need to work for you (organization, room layout, etc) but it needs to be inviting enough that you actually want to “get away” into that space to be productive.

Kelly asked for both of these concepts.

FUNCTION:  Kelly films videos for her business and needed a place to sit with an interesting background that was brand consistent.  She also expressed that she is someone who needs to “see” all the projects she is working on, so we needed to provide organization of her files, etc but they needed to be visible. I told Kelly that I had her back in that one–I am exactly the same.

STYLE: Kelly’s brand colors were a navy blue, gold and pink.  We pulled these colors together into a stylish and inviting room that Kelly LOVES to be in now.

Here are a few Before and Afters (I love this part!)

Let me break it down a little.

  1. Kelly cleared out a lot of miscellaneous items–chairs, boxes on the ground, shelving that was holding books and files, and other non matching furniture items.  Her dining room was a hot mess for a couple of weeks as she sorted and organized.
  2. We painted three walls a wonderful color called Colonial Grey.  We painted the fourth wall behind the couch a deep navy called Calligraphy.  This wall serves as the backdrop for Kelly’s videos and displays a eye-catching gallery picture collection.
  3. We purchased a couch and ottoman because Kelly prefers to work there over working from her desk (here here!)
  4. We made an Ikea run for storage items and a bookcase.
  5. After bringing in all of the design and storage elements, Kelly re-organized all of her papers and projects into the new space.

Here are pictures of the finished office:

(Above) We hung wood shelves behind her desk to display some decorative items.  To the right of the shelves is a bulletin board and hanging storage for Kelly to easily access work files, etc.   The framed dry erase board was something I made for Kelly using a glass poster frame and I just painted the back of the glass with a neutral color.  She uses this to jot down work ideas, dates and tasks.

(Above) We purchased this couch and ottoman where Kelly spends most of her time working.  I brought in a floor lamp for warmer lighting options, and created the gallery wall behind her couch with her brand colors, inspirational words and warm wood tones.

Kelly found this chair which was the perfect color and accent to the room.

Here is Kelly being all productive…

She had this great phone which we placed on the side table…I just love it.

(Above) One problem that Kelly wanted solved is that when she was filming a video or a webinar, her family would walk by or try to get her attention on the other side of the french doors.  She wanted a way to have privacy while she was working and also to have a second backdrop for her videos.  To solve this problem we hung curtains on the inside of the french doors…closed they offer privacy and a cute backdrop!

I brought in all sorts of storage options for her desk and she picked the ones that worked best for her.

Finally, this bookcase from Ikea has become one of my favorite office makeover additions.  The wood tones warm the space and it just holds so many different items- books (of course), but files and boxes and baskets too.

I am going to be offering a “Make Over Your Office In Five Days” mini course in the near future.  I will help you create a space you love in a clear step by step process!  To receive information about this in the future and occasional design posts, subscribe HERE!

One more BEFORE and AFTER:

Ahhhh….

Kelly said she has been more productive in this space than ever before.

Side note, I am TERRIFIED of spiders and for some reason TWO BIG ONES appeared during this design project.  There was a lot of screaming and jumping up and down.  Here is fearless Kelly getting one of them:

More office makeovers to come, along with simple and inspiring design ideas for your home.

And you can follow me on instagram @amyleehayes.

xoxo,

Amy

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Do you remember when we were growing up and used to play four-square at recess?  There were so many times where I’d do a double bounce and yet because we were all having so much fun someone would say, “Do over!”  Or when I served a ball that clearly landed outside the boundary and a kind friend would say, “Do over!”  I loved those moments.  The ones that kept me in the game even when I deserved to be kicked out.

As I reflect on the past year, I could certainly use a “do over” in different areas–parenting, marriage, even my blogging and design work. There are always mistakes made, but there also somehow seems to be grace in the mix, and I think I feel it the most this time of year–when in the new year I get to shake the dust off my boots (especially the cute ones I just got for Christmas) and receive another chance to do better.

The idea of new beginnings is not new. God set this into the framework of time and space-through the seasons (Earth’s tilt), the new year (Earth’s travel around the sun), and the new day (Earth’s rotation).  His word says that he has new mercies waiting for us each and every morning.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23

Don’t you just love that?  Whatever it is that holds us back, that weighs us down, that we wish we had done differently….we get a second chance, and a third, and a fourth. Just like the trees that get the chance to grow taller and stronger with each passing spring, so do we.

So let’s take a deep breath as the new year approaches. In what areas do you want to grow taller and stronger in 2017?

Health? Spirituality? Relationships? Finances? Marriage? Parenting? Work?

Ask yourself some questions:

1.  In what part of your life do you want a fresh start?

2. What went well last year that you want to continue?

3. What didn’t?

4. In what areas do you want a “do over”?

Invite God into this process.  What work is He doing in you right now?  What new adventures is He inviting you to take?

Maybe God is saying, “It’s okay, this is a journey. This will work itself out in time,” or maybe He has been gently convicting your heart for a while now that it’s time for you to take some steps in a better direction.

This process of reflection is so important if we are to move ahead in growth and maturity.  Take some time today to write your thoughts down, or find some quiet time to just be still and think.

If you need some help, Michael Hyatt has put together a “Life Assessment” which is a short online questionnaire to help you identify areas of strength and weakness.  I took it and it confirmed what I suspected but made it much more real to see it “scored.”  I clearly see the areas where I need to set some new goals!  There is not a follow up to this survey–the webinar he attached it to is no longer running–I just used it for my own personal assessment:

http://assessment.bestyearever.me/intro

I love second chances because it means I don’t have to stay stuck.  That my mistakes and flops and areas of partial growth do not have to be my only story.  I get to write a new chapter this coming year.  I get a do-over!

Have a good day my friend!

~Amy

In my next post I will share some more concrete strategies on how to create New Year Resolutions that stick! Continue reading

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I shared in my last post about our house journey over the past year, and how unexpected so many pieces of it were, and not in a good way.  There was disappointment and questioning and difficulty coming to grips with the fact that the story I had written for myself wasn’t the story that was actually happening.

Yet, in the end, it was the best story for us. Not because of how the chapters wrapped up, but because of what change occurred in me and our family in the middle of the book, when the ending was unclear.  I am a different, better version of myself this year…more trusting in God and more faithful in my worship of Him.  Two things that are priceless to me as I continue my journey in life.

What story is being written in your life right now? Is it different than the story you had mapped out for yourself?

Just like Jesus arriving in baby flesh and total dependence instead of pomp and circumstance and royal authority, we have a story that is often different than expected. But there are great gifts waiting if we choose to embrace the story (regardless how different) our heavenly author has written for us.

Gifts of maturity and faith and total dependence on something wiser and greater than ourselves~ultimately gifts of peace.

Maybe this is why Jesus’s birth was the perfect example of dependence. He was a helpless, vulnerable babe, accepting the story his Heavenly Father had written for him. Jesus has always lived out reality for us in human form, from the very straw and night and stars and mother’s kiss that welcomed his arrival.

This Christmas, when we are in the thick if a story we didn’t write, lets remember that we have a God who only writes perfect stories.  And in His stories He cares deeply about us, and wants to draw us near Him as we learn to trust in His goodness and embrace our dependence on Him.

He will bring us peace and hope.

Have a blessed Christmas.

~Amy

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Hello! Today on the blog I am sharing a story I have been wanting to tell for months…but it just hasn’t seemed like the right timing.  And then the Christmas season arrived and I began thinking about waiting– waiting for the celebration, anticipating the excitement of the season, and the waiting that happened for the generations of Israelites in anticipation of the birth of their King.

It reminded me of my story from the last year–one of anticipation but of much waiting.  A true time of testing for me.  You may want to snuggle in for the video which is a bit longer than I wanted–it is, after all, a story of waiting.  But it is a message of hope and encouragement for those of us who are expectant of life to somehow work itself out differently than it seems, that there is One who knows us and sees us while we wait.

 

You may be in a time of waiting, and it may not be wrapped up neatly in a bow like ours was in the end.  It may take a long, long time for the story to play out.

But please hear this–it is not how the story ends that is important…it is how God changes us in the midst of our waiting.

THIS is when he pulls up a chair to talk, because we are often ready to listen. Hear what he is whispering, lean in to his voice of love and grace and trust.

He’s got this.

Merry Christmas to you!

PS:  Please join me on my Facebook Blog Community page!  I post several times a week–notes of encouragement or I share great articles and tips I stumble upon:

https://www.facebook.com/amyhayesblog/

Also, I am on Instagram @amyleehayes–would love to connect with you there too!

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A couple of years ago we sat at the Thanksgiving table with another family and one by one shared what we were thankful for.  The responses were just what you would imagine…lovely thoughts about family and health and friends.

And then our twelve year-old shared that she was thankful for her IPhone.

I did the mom-freak out embarrassed snort. I tried to redirect and ask her to share something more meaningful.  She stuck to her guns.  Her phone, period.

Let’s just say I didn’t handle that well and ended up making much more of a deal of it than needed…solely out of fear that we had utterly failed as parents in raising thankful children–well, thankful for things that are not so, well, materialistic.

This event has made me a little gun shy of Thanksgiving table sharing.   Mainly because I want to handle whatever our kids say better by discussing it off line with some loving teaching.  And it has made me think about what most of us think about this time of year…being thankful for big beautiful things like family and friendships and home and God.  These are familiar and easy, and I am deeply grateful.

GIVING THANKS WHEN IT’S NOT SO EASY

It is good to be thankful for these things…so good.  But there is another layer of thanks–one that pokes and prods at our hearts.  It turns thanks a bit upside-down on our turkey- and-mashed-potato-adorned table.  It is also good, maybe even a little better than the thanks that come so easily, because it invites our hearts and thoughts to focus in a valiant and brave direction, and can bring us great peace.

It it giving thanks in the hard seasons.   Seasons that cause us pain and discomfort and ask us to wrestle with ourselves and our circumstances.

HERES WHAT THAT COULD LOOK LIKE:

I am thankful for people who are different than me, because it teaches me to seek understanding and extend grace, and that God has created us all, and intentionally made us with different personalities and desires and thoughts.

I am thankful for sickness, because in it I become utterly grateful for health.

I am thankful for conflict, because it tirelessly invites me to look inward and grow.

I am thankful for times of lack, because there I learn to trust in God’s timing for provision.

I am thankful for the beautiful mess of family, because it allows me (if I choose) to let loose of my agenda and my way, and listen and humble myself knowing that God has grace for all of it and will take care of me if I lean into Him.

I am thankful when things seem out of my control, because it is there that find faith as I lean into God and learn to trust his plan that I cannot see.

I am thankful for uncertainty, because it beckons me to look to the only certain One who is forever unchanging and stable.

I am thankful when life isn’t going the way I hoped or expected, because it brings me into relationship with God as I pray and ask for peace and wisdom.

I am thankful.

For it all.

In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus toward you.                                                                                1 Thessalonians 5:1

 

THE THANKSGIVING CHALLENGE

What if the sharing around the Thanksgiving Table looked a little different this year?  What if you invited everyone to share two things–something good and something hard, and why they might be thankful for each?  It think it could be quite enlightening.

I wish you a happy, safe and blessed Thanksgiving!

~Amy

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I thought this week might be a good week to share something totally surface but hopefully entertaining– a tour of our new home.  We have lived here 4 1/2 months now, so not brand new, but we are still getting settled (my last project is to paint our son’s room over Thanksgiving break).

We have done quite a bit of remodeling since we moved in, tearing out walls and building a kitchen island from scratch.  I painted our kitchen cabinets and installed a stacked stone back splash.  I’ve painted almost every room a cream color, wanting a peaceful neutral background accented by blue and grey accessories. We also added new laminate flooring–which has stumped everyone who has come over–“Really?  It’s laminate??”  Yep.

So, here’s a quick tour!

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Welcome!

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To the left of the entryway is a sitting area.  This is more commonly used as a dining room in this model, but as part of our simplifying venture, we decided to have one dining area, and then a separate sitting area for family members to have their own space if needed.  This has become one of my favorite spaces when I get up before everyone else to sit and read and pray in the morning.

House Tour

House Tour

As you leave the front room you enter the kitchen/family room.  The post you see to the right used to be one end of a wall which enclosed much of the kitchen.  There was originally no island.  We took down the wall and built an island to open the space up.

House Tour

The pendants along with the chandelier over the dining table are new–along with most other lighting on the main floor (all from Lowes!).

House Tour

The cabinets used to be an oak color, so I painted those and added hardware.  I also added this stone back splash which seemed to pull it all together.

House Tour

This is a view into our family room.  In the background is the hallway to a nice storage closet, a bathroom, and to the left an office that Jon and I share.

House Tour

This is my space in the office (I’m just really borrowing a little area in my husband’s man-cave), but it’s all I need to stay orgainized.  In the summer, hydrangeas, my favorite flower, bloom outside the window to the left of my desk.

House Tour

We try to gather as a family at this table for dinner as much as possible.

House Tour

 

House Tour

House Tour

This is a gallery wall that I recently completed in our family room. Gallery walls are great ways to add personality, meaning and warmth to a large wall.

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Heading back toward the front door.  I wanted to show you this picture for a couple of reasons.  First, where the light is hanging down between the two doors, there used to be wall.  You basically couldn’t see these doors.  We removed the wall and then added bead board to the whole area, making it a bit of its own little entry-room from the garage, while adding character (as did the hanging light).

House Tour

This is heading upstairs.  We love our upstairs and these pictures probably won’t do it justice.  There are four rooms plus a laundry room circling a large landing area.  In this picture you can see our daughter’s room (who is at college) which doubles as a guest room.

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Here is her room.  All the furniture is from IKEA and we painted it a warm brown called Tavern Taupe–one of my favorites!

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To the left of her room are our other two children’s rooms.  There is a bathroom in the middle.  When we moved in we painted the bathroom the same color as the rest of our house ( Maison Blanche), and added these wood shelves for storage for our kids–like toothpaste, brushes, gel, etc.

House Tour

Back out in the hallway you can see our master bedroom and the laundry room on the right.  I LOVE having a laundry room upstairs.

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This is our bedroom.  It isn’t quite what I would like it to be yet–we’ve had this red chair forever, and it’s not in the budget to replace, so I worked with it to decorate this room.  I added new curtains, painted (this color is called Safari Chic), and then a pillow to pull in the red from the chair and the gold pillows and throw we already owned.  It took me a long time to find the right pillow, but I’m now quite attached to the fox.

House Tour

House Tour

Here we are back downstairs, heading out the front door.  We have been incredibly blessed in our journey to downsize as we love this home in many ways even more than the larger home we moved from.  We have learned so many lessons about simplifying and contentedness and trusting God in his plan and not ours through this move.

House Tour

Thanks for stopping by to visit.

Xoxo,

Amy

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the-hardest-partabout-giving-our-kidstough-consequences

(Shared with permission from our son who is an amazing kid and I will be buying him a large Blizzard from D.Q. for letting me pick on him in this post)

A few months back my husband, son and I stood in our family room in the midst of a tense discussion. Our fifteen year-old had just responded in a not-so-stellar way to the idea that he would have to be dropped off at work a half an hour early to accommodate our schedules.

Since we had been working on respectful responses with our son for a few months now, and it had cropped up again, my husband decided enough was enough.  He proceeded to tell our son that instead of getting a ride to Chick-Fil-A that day for work, he would need to ride his bike the three miles to get there…and he better get a move on to make it in time.

Now a teenager riding his bike to work may not seem like a big deal, but it was for me. Our kids just haven’t ridden their bikes much outside of our neighborhood before.  We live in a semi-remote neighborhood where it takes riding a distance to get anywhere other than a gas station.

So as my husband stood his ground and told our son to hurry up and make sure the tires were full of air, I sat a little stunned on the couch.  Here’s what was going on inside my head:

“He’s never ridden his bike to work, can he do it?” (that sounds silly even as I write it but I really asked myself that question). “Is it too far?  What about the busy roads?  How will my directionally challenged son know how to get there?”

Even though my protective mom instinct was sounding off full volume,  I kept my mouth shut.  I needed to let my husband take the reigns on this one because this was a recurring issue lately and an important one. We clearly needed something tougher to use as a consequence than taking his phone away (which is what we had been doing).

Our son immediately went into sorry mode, which made staying quiet even harder.   He pleaded and then realizing he was getting nowhere got mad,  stormed into the garage and rode away.

I fought all sorts of urges to stop the whole scene.  But why?  Why was it so hard for me to accept that our son needed to have a hard consequence?

I’ve given this some thought…a lot of thought actually.  And I have three main ideas about why it is so difficult for those of us who are parents to give hard consequences to our kids.

ONE:  It Causes Us Pain

I feel pain when my kids are struggling and darn it, I don’t want to feel pain.  And I don’t only feel pain, but I worry and stress and doubt about the decision. As loving parents, we carry a fierce instinct to protect our children, and I think we feel like we’re leaving them outside to weather the storm alone when we dole out the tough love.

I’ve noticed I am mostly unaffected when grounding our kids or taking their phones away or making them do chores for misbehavior. But the truth is while those things are challenging for our kids, they often do not produce long term-results.

Sometimes we need to be brave enough to raise the bar on the discipline.  In our trying to “protect” them and soften the consequence, we ultimately fail at protecting them from turning into self-indulgent, self-centered, “me” focused children.

TWO: We Don’t Like Our Kids Being Upset With Us

I don’t know about your family, but when we set a boundary or say no to something, especially something that is a “big deal” to our kids, they aren’t all lovey dovey with us.

In fact, we may experience some anger or aloofness or distance from our kids.  We feel disconnected with them.  Doesn’t this go against everything we normally fight for as moms–feeling connected with our children?

We work so hard to create harmony and unity in our homes, between siblings, in our marriage, and with our relationship with our children, that the break in harmony really feels… yucky (that’s the most accurate word I can come up with).  It makes me sad, and my day harder, and adds to the tension in every conversation I need to have with that child…so I avoid it, even if it’s unintentional.

THREE: We Are Little Picture Responders Instead of Big Picture Fighters

Ultimately, we are so close to and emotionally involved in the situation that it is often difficult for us to step back and see that the misbehavior is actually derailing our great intentions for our kids’ character.

I think we all can agree that we want to raise respectful, kind, considerate, grateful kids.  It is often when our kids are disrespectful, unkind, inconsiderate and ungrateful that we are faced with the discipline decision.  Yet at that crucial moment we often make excuses for them or soften the discipline because of the previous two reasons.

We need to circle back to the kind of little/big people we want to raise.  The consequence, however painful for all involved, works toward that goal.  It is for their own good, and we need to fight for what is best for them.

The story wraps up like this.   Our son made it to work, and on the way there he was pulled over by a police officer who kindly told him that he couldn’t ride his bike across the bridge over the highway (no we didn’t bribe an officer to add a little extra shake up to the situation, but not bad timing).

After work our son texted me for a ride home since he would have to ride back over the highway to get home and didn’t want to have a second conversation with a police officer in one day.

I fully expected to pick up an angry child who didn’t want to speak to me.  My husband had left out of town for work so I braced myself emotionally for the evening ahead.

Instead, a humble and respectful young man got in the car and thanked me for picking him up.

Wow.

This was a lesson for our son, but it was a bigger lesson for me.  I learned that the hard consequences work, and more importantly that I could handle the pain they caused my mom-heart.  As our children continue to go through their teen years I often think about this day.  I remember that it is okay for our kids to sweat it out (literally) in order to experience changed behavior.

The truth is, our kids can handle hard consequences.  We are the ones that often can’t.

God is the perfect parent.  He does not cushion our life-lessons.  No, He let’s us fall hard, mess up, struggle and even suffer the consequences of our actions.  But He never leaves us, always is there to love us and care for us in the midst of our pain.  May I continue to look heavenward for the best parenting example ever.

Please love on another mom today and share this post with her–let’s encourage each other to be the best parents we can be.

~Amy

PS: If you are wanting to hear a whole lot of great parenting advice, you can attend the online MOM CONFERENCE next week, October 11, 12th and 13th.  It is FREE and you will get access to amazing speakers, and hopefully feel strengthened and encouraged in your mothering journey.

Here’s a short video sharing more:

Just click HERE for more information or to register!

MOM CONFERENCE 2016

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rent-your-house-while-you-travel

If you just got hives reading this post title, you may want to find something else to read.

But if you raised a curious eyebrow, read on–this is something I am really excited about.

About two years ago, I heard about AirBnB and started researching the company, wondering if renting out our house while we went on vacation might be feasible.  AirBnb is a owner rental company that has exploded in popularity over the last few years (it’s similar to VRBO, but is more “European” in style–you can rent out rooms in your house or your whole house where you currently live).

We love to travel and the idea of someone paying us to stay at our house (and for our vacation!) while we were not there sounded quite interesting.  After discussing this with the family, we decided to give it a try.  I was skeptical that anyone would want to rent a house in our Colorado suburb (after all, we don’t live in the mountains or in infamous Boulder), but took the pictures and created a profile.

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Within a few weeks people started contacting me.  We ended up renting out our house three times that year, once in the spring, summer and over Christmas–all times we were taking family vacations.  The experience has been nothing but positive for us.

And…my neighbor caught wind of what we were doing and she started renting their home too.  This summer her family traveled all over Europe because they were able to rent their house the whole time.

So you can really know how to do this well, I have included an AIRBNB RENTAL GUIDE PDF at the bottom.

If this is something you might want to try, here are the pro’s and con’s:

PROS

ONE:    Money!  (Of course).  We usually make between $1500 and $2500 for our rentals, depending on how many days people want to be in our house.  We put this money towards whatever vacation our family is taking–we have found that it allows us have more “yes’s” when we travel, doing the extra fun things that in the past have been outside our budget. For me it takes away the financial stress of traveling.  I feel like I have done my work (see CONS) and now we get to benefit by creating great family memories.

TWO:    Getting to exercise my “hostess” muscles.  I love hosting people in our home–even when we are not here. I enjoy creating a welcome notebook, having soft towels available, and a basket of goodies for our guests upon arrival.  It makes me happy knowing that we are providing a comfortable place for other people to make their own memories.

CONS

ONE:    Prepare to WORK.  At least for a few days before your guests arrive.  Everyone does their rental differently, but I have found the formula that gives me the most peace of mind (See Rental Guide PDF below).  This includes emptying out our bathroom drawers so that people aren’t seeing our personal items, stocking separate towels that are just for our AirBnB guests, and of course having clean sheets on all the beds.

It means putting away ALL the little piles we accumulate throughout the house, along with any personal items (such as banking, mail, dirty laundry, etc). There is also the cleaning out of the fridge and making room in the freezer, packing up the pantry (I’ll explain in rental guide) and of course getting the house cleaned (also explained in guide).

It can definitely get stressful, but I repeat the mantra, “I’m getting paid $2000 for two days of work, I’m getting paid $2000 for two days of work.” Pretty good return right? AND, after a couple of hours on a plane, especially if we are landing on a sunny beach somewhere, I take a deep breath and relax.

TWO:   The second con is not having peace of mind.  This isn’t a big one for me as I tend not to worry about what’s going on back home.  But if this is going to stress you out, you might want to consider if this is the best program for you.  We have only had positive experiences and everyone has left our home in excellent condition.

If you think you might want to try this for your next vacation, just download my free Airbnb Rental Guide laying out step by step directions for listing and preparing your house!  It has a CALENDAR COUNTDOWN and CHECKLIST for every detail, plus all the tips I have learned along the way!  Trust me, it will save you a lot of grief 🙂

Just click here:

AIRBNB RENTAL GUIDE

Hope you have a wonderful experience!

~Amy

I am always grateful if you would share on Facebook or forward this post to someone you know might benefit!

 

 

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