What Are Your New Year’s Resolutions?

We make them and break them. Apparently only 8% of people who make resolutions actually keep them. No wonder we laugh about the idea. Have you made any this year or are you choosing not to because you are still working on the ones you made in 2015? This year I am making ones that I am actually excited to keep. Not ones about weight loss or budgeting or getting into shape. For one, I want to go back to my fall plan and actually post mini blogs. Mini. Not Maxi. NO more long winded expositions that I tend to fall prey to posting. Instead, I want to produce bite size, digestible encouragement each week – stuff that is easy to read but still thought provoking and inspiring. So starting next week, I am committing to actually keeping my mini-blogs mini sized. I promise. What about you? What are your 2016 resolutions?   Here’s one I would love to prescribe for all of the sweet mamas that I am privileged to walk with and talk with:  “Leave the broken, irreversible past in the Lord’s hands, and step out into the invincible future with Him.” Oswald Chambers. You have different personalities and uniquely-wired children. Your challenges are different as are your circumstances. Yet you all share one thing in common. You are more apt to hold onto guilt and beat yourselves up rather than receive God’s grace for yourselves. You remember your mistakes all too well and too readily shrug off your triumphs. You allow your not-so-glorious moments to reduce your joy and gratitude as well as overshadow the victorious...

One Girl’s Testimony: “What’s Stealing Your Heart?”

What a blessing to see a student “get to the other side” of their adolescent struggles.   Today’s guest author is Tori Hagen, one such young woman who share’s her story of transformation.  Tori candidly describes her painful struggles with perfectionism and depression but also how she has found lasting hope and victory in Jesus. I remember Tori’s struggles, as well as her fears and doubts.  I remember how very frightening this season of depression was not only for her but also for her parents. With permission from both Tori and her mom, I wish to share her journey with you today because it is an inspirational story of hope, one that I pray will serve to turn others, who may also be struggling, to the One who desires to transform our lives from ashes to beauty. Isaiah 61:3 ……to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair…..  What’s Stealing Your Heart? By Tori Hagen  This is my transformation story.  Sophomore year I fell into a deep depression. It all started with my perfectionism. For the first few months of school, I managed to keep it all together. I followed my precise schedules, did my hair every day, worked hard at dance, and went to church. With school becoming harder, my brother leaving for college, and my hair being more stubborn, I was finding it very difficult to keep up this “perfect life”. I started to become complacent and unwilling to do anything at all.  If I couldn’t do it exactly right, why bother...

Recovering from Perfectionism

 When I look back on my life, I see a series of lessons God has orchestrated to grow and change me, and in hindsight I value these lessons deeply. This summer has been no exception, when God used an emergency eye condition and distorted vision to clarify the eyes of my  heart. Releasing Free to Parent, the book my daughter Erin and I recently wrote,  has made me realize how far I still need to go in addressing certain deceptions that I stubbornly hold onto. Over and over, God patiently reveals to me what needs fixing and slowly my heart is gaining freedom from fallacies such as: Perfectionism. And my deep need to please others. As well as my fears over the criticism that will inevitably also come as a result of writing and releasing a book. It’s no accident that this book was completed during a time of major challenges in my own life, complicated with significant challenges in the publishing process. It’s no accident that we wound up delivering (in order to get it done in time for our school’s Paideia conference) an imperfect work still in need of some edits and minor revisions. It’s a frightening proposition for a person like me to release such a book, especially to my own school community. Yet that is exactly what God had me do in order to address my fears of never being quite “good enough.”  He did this  by testing my willingness to step out and offer up a book that was “not quite ready enough.” It’s a fallacy to think we can’t act until conditions are...

Is your Child a Perfectionist?

Perfectionism is about trying to be flawless, without fault.  The problem is that it is unreachable and can get in the way of growth. Perfectionists often face life by either over-achieving or under-achieving: The overachieving perfectionist can wind up with deep seated anxiety and profound discouragement because  her goals continually remain out of reach. The underachieving perfectionist feels utter helplessness and settles for low effort hiding his fear of failure with an “I don’t care” mask. My youngest daughter gave early indications that she was an overachieving perfectionist. She grew frustrated and crumpled her artwork each time it did not look just right.  She would ask, “Is it possible to be perfect?” I pondered the studies indicating perfectionism was fostered by parents (we likely were part of the problem) but I also believe it to be a natural bent for some kids, like Alisa.  She certainly was not the stereo typical youngest child, competing fiercely even with her older siblings. With her own peers, only the highest outcomes were acceptable in everything she set out to do. Our concerns were buried in the delight we found in her achievements.  What parent doesn’t enjoy success with their children.  In time however, we began to see signs of deep seated anxiety. As soon as she reached one goal, her joy was short lived, as she would soon begin to drive herself to still a higher goal.  Failure to Alisa was getting second place at the State swim meet or failing to break a state record in her best events or not getting the highest score on a math exam.  She authentically...

Just Begin.

“He who has begun has half done.  Dare to be wise; begin.” Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus: 65 BC – 8 BC) We all procrastinate in some form or fashion.  Our human nature draws us away from doing tasks that require focused energy or concentration. While I can ignore doing “that dreaded task” for some time however, I can’t ignore the weight on my emotions, because it remains my constant, discouraging companion, who keeps me from fully enjoying anything else I am doing in its place. Unfortunately, procrastination allows us to be content with second-rate results.  To quote Richard O’Conner, “we can always tell ourselves we’d have done a better job if only we’d had more time. If you’re good at rationalizing, you can keep yourself feeling rather satisfied this way, but it’s a cheap happy. You’re whittling your expectations of yourself down lower and lower.” When does procrastination become a problem? That question is best answered by examining the consequences we deal with as a result of this learned response: 1.       Procrastinators can experience external consequence such as low grades or low performance marks due to not turning work in, missing deadlines, or last minute scrambling to prepare. 2.       Procrastinators can also suffer internal consequences – they feel anxious even when they are doing something fun because the still-to-be-done task serves as a downer. 3.       Procrastinators tend to experience higher levels of stress.  With stress hormones coursing through their bodies, their immune system is weakened and their sleep is often disturbed. 4.       Students who procrastinate have reduced initiative and passion for learning –  resulting in a lowering of expectations...

Perfect Performers

As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. For who is God, except the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God? It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect. Psalm 18:30-32 Many kids today however learn to look excellent on the outside in order to please and to perform. On the inside however they are anxious and discouraged.   They are the perfectionists who invade our schools in growing numbers.  Their very worth depends on looking perfect to the outside world while on the inside they live in a perpetual state of negative evaluation, always striving but never reaching their goals. They learn this behavior both through a culture that extols perfection as well as in homes where they come to believe that performance is connected with whether or not their parents value them. Their world is saturated with images of perfect bodies, perfect faces, perfect hair and nails, perfect make-up and perfect teeth.  Many have been told to set their sights on only the best colleges and the “best” careers,  that their very happiness and worth depends upon being the very best in something. The Christian home is not immune from the debilitating grip of perfectionism. While most Christian parents intellectually know that one’s worthiness is found solely in Christ, they fall prey to inadvertently connecting performance with worthiness for their kids. If we are to actually see our kids become strong achievers, we must move from extolling perfection to seeking after excellence.  The differences may...