Category Archives: Moms

Benefit of the Doubt

CJ hockeyLast week my daughter, Celina, worked on a hand-written letter (with a colored picture) to the two ladies who serve lunch at her school. It was kind and sweet. She thanked them for fixing the food and also mentioned some of her favorites. I didn’t think much about the note because every once in a while she will write a note to her teacher.

Now, I wish I had taken a picture of the note and here is why:

I went to Celina’s parent-teacher conference this morning. Academics, math, reading – she is doing great at school, but the thing Joe and I care about most as her parents is how is she BE-ing at school. She is kind, gets along with others, takes leadership, and she is loved and respected by her teachers and fellow students. She has a great reputation in all parts of the school.

Two things caught my attention today. First, her teacher explained how when it is Thursday and they go to the library Celina walks in and says to the librarian, “I love Thursdays because I get to see you!” How sweet is that? She makes people feel good.

The second story that really caught my attention today was about the lunch ladies. Apparently before Christmas Celina had a “run-in” with one of the lunch ladies. Celina had taken two scoops of veggies instead of one (seriously kid!) and the lunch lady “got in her face and yelled at her.” Another teacher witnessed the incident and told Celina’s teacher that she might want to check in with Celina. As her teacher told me the story she got that mother bear look in her eye as if saying, “Nobody messes with Celina!”

CJThe immediate thought going through my head was that I can’t believe she didn’t tell me this happened. And, I thought about the note she wrote last week that was full of kindness, without an ounce of anger or condemnation.

How would you respond? As the mom? As the teacher? As the kid?

I’ve seen plenty of poor reactions in life, as a teacher myself, as a coach, and watching my kids play sports. When people over-react “in our face” it doesn’t often sit well and it impacts the relationship in the future. I wrote about forgiveness last year and how the steps of forgiveness take intentional action and thought. Forgiveness is not natural.

Yes, I’m pretty sure I thought through all of these things in the short time this story was told to me, but then came the kicker.

When Celina’s teacher asked her what happened at lunch and if she was ok, Celina’s response came with a wave of her hand and a shrug of her shoulder. “It’s ok. She must be having a bad day.” And off she went.

Have you ever heard the phrase “benefit of the doubt?” Does anyone in your path need to be given the “benefit of the doubt?” Are you too intent on being right or having justice that you are unable to just let something go? Imagine all the conflict (and internal anger) that could be eliminated if we reacted today with a little more “Celina.”

Be Extraordinary!

(I’m Traci, the “Be Extraordinary!” blogger. I share insights that challenge and encourage moms to be the best version of themselves. To me, that’s an extraordinary life! Click HERE to receive blog updates and a free newsletter.)

Be the Best Mom Ever!

best mom everWe will never be perfect, but in order to live the extraordinary life, we must become more and more like Jesus. Let’s say I want to live an extraordinary life by becoming a better mom . . .
How can I be a better mom?
  1. Read a book about being a good mom.
  2. Make great dinners and after-school snacks the kids love.
  3. Learn from other moms who seem to be doing it right.
  4. Take a parenting class.
All of these ideas are great and even important; however, there is an important factor to consider. We, as moms, are all unique. Our personalities, likes, dislikes, upbringing, gifts, and talents are all different. The child we are striving to love better is also unique. They are not the same as we are and they are not the same as any other child on the planet, even their siblings (even if they’re twins!)
With all of the unique, like-no-other factors, how can I become a better mom? How can I increase my capacity to love, nurture, and train my one-of-a-kind child? How can I learn to have greater compassion, kindness, gentleness, and love toward my child that is more challenging? I’m an imperfect, broken human being . . . what can I possibly do?
The question that begs asking is not what can I do, but rather who can I become?
Mark 10-14I must become more and more like Jesus.
When I become like Jesus
  1. I will hear His voice. (not in parenting alone)
  2. I will know what to do. (wisdom)
  3. I will be filled with the fruit of the spirit which will change my actions and reactions in everyday situations. (The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23)
Many questions in life do not boil down to one simple answer, but I believe this one – “How can I be a better mom?” – does.
As a mom, dad, husband, wife, co-worker, or boss be more like Jesus. . .

Be Extraordinary!

(I’m Traci, the “Be Extraordinary!” blogger. I share insights that challenge and encourage moms to be the best version of themselves. To me, that’s an extraordinary life! Click HERE to receive blog updates and a free newsletter.)

Say “Yes!”

Imagine with me for a minute what it would be like to tell your children (or your spouse, boss, or co-workers) “yes” in response to all of their questions today. And beyond the “yes” words, actually allowing the answer to be yes and permission to be fully given for what they requested. The first time I was presented with this thought, my kids were young. I didn’t even have teenagers yet and I thought, “No way!” I could think of all the reasons I need to tell them “no” and I could think of all the reasons it would complicate my life to say “yes.”

The idea of saying “yes” has surfaced in my thinking and I want to process it with you today.

YESThe answer “no” is easy and it is often a habit. I often answer “no” without any thought as to why and sometimes without hearing the full request. Beyond it just being a habit, why do I say “no” so often? If I am honest, here are some of the possible reasons:

CONTROL

When I say “no” I am maintaining control over my kids. I retain control of their schedule, who they talk to, what they eat, what time they go to bed, what time they get up, what books they read, what movies they watch, what activities they participate in, etc. We are the parents, right? We should have control over all these things.

RESPECT and AUTHORITY

I want my kids to know that I am the authority in their life. I want them to be obedient. I want them to respect me. The way to gain that respect is by being the decision maker in their lives. Their job is to respond correctly.

CONVENIENCE

No is definitely more convenient than yes most of the time. Saying “yes” often requires more effort, time, mess, clean-up, and less time for me to get work done (or stay comfortably on the couch).

Consider these questions:

How many times each day do you say “no?”
Is “no” your first and most natural response?
Recall the last few times you answered “no.”
Why did you (or do you) answer “no?”

What good things would come from saying “yes” to others?
Good things for them? Good things for you?

Side note: There is a time and place for the word no – absolutely! But, perhaps our “no” would be more firm and powerful if we answered “Yes!” more often.

Will you try it out? Say “yes” today and notice the changes – notice what good things are created within yourself and others – and then post your findings on my Facebook page. I can’t wait to hear what happens and learn from your experience.

Be Extraordinary!

(I’m Traci, the “Be Extraordinary!” blogger. I share insights that challenge and encourage moms to be the best version of themselves. To me, that’s an extraordinary life! Click HERE to receive blog updates and a free newsletter.)

De-Clutter the Excuses

There is so much written about decluttering. There are books and blogs and TV shows about letting go of the physical, mental, and emotional clutter holding us back in life. Even I have written about clutter in a previous post. (You can read that HERE.)

I am finishing up Tommy Newberry’s book, 40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life. Day 39 was about clearing the clutter. With all of the valuable info about our thoughts, emotions, and actions throughout the book, this emphasis on clutter caught me by surprise and also convicted me greatly.

How, in spite of all my knowledge and commitments about clutter, can I still find myself stuck because of clutter? My personal forms of clutter are paper and disorganized spaces. I have tackled both of these before, but just like brushing my teeth, taking my vitamins, or exercising I can not expect to do these things once (or even 100 times!) and have the results last forever.

DeclutterI realize something about myself in all of this: I like to do projects when I can see a difference. For example, I prefer to clean the bathroom when I can see the change from dirty to clean. It is difficult for me to choose to clean when I can’t tell that it’s really dirty. (This sounds so lame as I write!) I would be a terrible worker at DisneyWorld for this reason. At DisneyWorld they paint everything all the time. It never looks old and run-down because there is a constant process to keep things looking pristine. They catch the dulling paint job before there are obvious signs of wear and tear. In fact, of the 62,000 employees at DisneyWorld 650 of them are painters!

So how do I become more like a DisneyWorld worker when it comes to the clutter in my life?

Honestly, it brings these thoughts to my mind.

– Moving along with window cleaner right next to the kiddo with sticky fingers on the sliding glass door.
– Attempting to vacuum up popcorn pieces after they fall from the table.
– Relentlessly replacing the couch pillows off the floor and back onto the couch. (I do this a lot!)
– Yelling at the kids constantly to pick up their things.
– Cleaning the bathroom floor three times a day to remove every little piece of hair. (Ewww!)

Some of you might be saying, “Yes, and Amen!” but this honestly causes me to feel a little stress. I may end up with a spotless home, but I don’t think anybody else in the home would like me very much. There must be some balance.

Here is the bottom line for me and, probably the challenge to all of us in this area or another: We love our excuses!

Is there something that nags at you (a pile of laundry, stack of bills, unfinished project, broken relationship), but every time you see or think about it, you make an excuse? The excuse might even be good, but the next time you see or think about it, you are reminded of yet another excuse. The excuses become comfortable until they become crutches that hold us back. Even the fact that I operate better with projects where I can actually see the progress can become another lame excuse.

The extraordinary life is about progress, not perfection! So, don’t let perfection keep you from making progress today!

Be Extraordinary!

 

(I’m Traci, the “Be Extraordinary!” blogger. I share insights that challenge and encourage moms to be the best version of themselves. To me, that’s an extraordinary life! Click HERE to receive blog updates and a free newsletter.)

 

Words of Affirmation

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Said no one ever! Ok, I said those words in elementary school and heard others say those words in a singsongy voice, but I know those words are not true. Words are so powerful! Words are capable of tearing people down and they also have the power to lift, encourage, and build people up.

lips powerfulI realized recently (not the first time) that it is so easy to be flippant with the words I speak to my kids.

Do any moms (and dads) out there use any of these words with your kids?

-Sarcasm at an inappropriate time

-Verbal jabs

-Ignoring ‘another’ story

-Disregarding teenage drama

-Telling the kids, with or without words, to “suck it up!”

I think, if we are honest, most of us are guilty of speaking to our own kids in one of these ways at one time or another. We get so caught up in our own adult world with our own adult problems that we don’t actually see what is happening in the life of our kids. Let’s be real: Sometimes it’s hard to engage!

What is the solution? I’ve thought about this, and, as with many things I’m working to change in my life, trying harder doesn’t usually cut it. I can commit and vow and promise to eliminate my harsh words and poor listening habits toward my kids, but I inevitably end up failing. This seems to send me into a spiral of behaving that way even more. (Ok, maybe I’m really good for two or three days, but then it is triggered again.)

I am really bothered by the thought of what my actions and, especially, my words are doing long-term to my kids. Remember, I love them! But, more than knowing in my head that I love them, I want THEM to know that I love them. And I don’t think stopping the bad behavior is enough.

What if we (moms and dads) committed to daily words of affirmation?

Here is the definition of “affirm” from the Webster dictionary:

to say that something is true in a confident way, to show a strong belief in or dedication to, validate, confirm, to state positively, to assert (as a judgment or decree) as valid or confirmed, to express dedication to

Using this definition as a guide, what will you do to affirm your kid(s) this week? Will you commit to intentionally affirming your kids one or two times each week?

Affirmations are part of living an extraordinary life. These words of positive, true, thoughtful, and intentional kindness will change your life, your family, your marriage, your workplace, your church, and your community!

Intentional affirmation is not always easy or natural, but it is worth it!

Be Extraordinary!

(I’m Traci, the “Be Extraordinary!” blogger. I share insights that challenge and encourage moms to be the best version of themselves. To me, that’s an extraordinary life! Click HERE to receive blog updates and a free newsletter.)

For Mom’s Eyes Only: Love

Love isI love my kids. I tell them I love them. I want them to grow up knowing their mom loves them – a lot!

Here is a frequent conversation with my 8-year-old, Celina:

Me: Guess what?

Celina: You love me. (with a little eye roll)

Me: Yep, I love you!

Celina: Why do you always say that? I already know.

Me: I never want you to forget that I love you.

There are a number of things to look at when it comes to love. Love is the umbrella of so many other thoughts to consider when looking at any relationship, and especially with our kids. The Bible spells it out in I Corinthians 13 where it says:

“Love is patient and kind;
love does not envy or boast;
it is not arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way;
it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends.”

Once again, I love my kids. I tell them I love them. I want them to grow up knowing I love them. I also know that telling our kids that we love them is not enough – action is required. Yet, it is so easy to justify my actions, attitudes, and words that are not loving. Here are some typical excuses:

I’m tired. I clean the house and pick up their messes. I put dinner on the table. I work. I stay up late to wash dishes, clean up, or prep for the next day. I need “me time.” I just want some peace and quiet.

And then sometimes the excuses move into blame: They are selfish. They just make messes. They are loud. They are quirky and obnoxious. They are always going through some phase.

Can you relate to any of these?

Honestly, I don’t like to admit that I think, speak, and act selfish or rude to my children, but I do. I allow life’s pressures to interfere with my desire to truly love my kids. I want the benefits of a loving relationship, but am not always willing to do the difficult work of loving them. I end up defining and measuring my love for my kids by how they are behaving, their attitude towards me, or how well the last family vacation went.

The performance of our kids will never be perfect. They will disappoint and fail us. They are far from perfect, and so are we!

Far from perfectAll of this measuring is based on the performance of the kids rather than on my choice to unconditionally love them.

What would it look like to love our kids regardless of their actions, attitudes, or words? What if we greeted them with love, kindness, and believing the best each time they walk through the front door or out of their bedroom? What if we remembered the beautiful, full feelings of love we had the first day we met those kids? Would that change our perspective? Would that change our ability to genuinely and unconditionally love them?

I had an experience of frustration when one of my kids was little. There was some personality conflict and I struggled to feel genuine love and compassion for this child, especially when said child was crying. The very moments that needed my tenderness and love I would feel tight, rigid, and so unloving. I didn’t want to feel this way. I did all I knew to do at the time. I acknowledged this feeling and then I forced myself to sit still and embrace my kid in one of these moments. Even if my child squirmed, I wouldn’t let go, until I felt nothing but love and compassion. Over time, the love in me grew.

That may sound terrible, but if we are not “feeling” love towards our kids, then we must take loving actions anyway. Imagine if I had just let that go and done nothing about those feelings. Now, ten years later, do you think I would be feeling more love or less? Things in life naturally deteriorate unless they are nurtured, including love.

** Using I Corinthians 13 as the guide, how would you rate your love toward your kid(s)?

** Again, using I Corinthians 13 as the guide, what are one or two changes you could make this week to improve your love for your kid(s)?

Love is the foundation of extraordinary life-change for you . . . and your kids!

Be Extraordinary!

 

(I’m Traci, the “Be Extraordinary!” blogger. I share insights that challenge and encourage moms to be the best version of themselves. To me, that’s an extraordinary life! Click HERE to receive blog updates and a free newsletter.)

Mom’s: Do You Have Peace?

Do you like peace? Do you like your home to feel peaceful? Do you ever wish your home looked like it was taken straight out of a Better Homes and Gardens magazine? You know the look . . . clean countertops, fluffed pillows neatly placed on the couches, beautiful lighting, great music, and sipping your favorite beverage while curled up reading a book in a cozy chair in the corner of the living room. This is the the look, feel, and experience of every mom in every home in America.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

Mom moments take work, but they are worth it!

Mom moments take work, but they are worth it!

Being a mom is often a far cry from peaceful. It is gritty, messy, busy, and exhausting. A mom’s life is full of interruptions, last-minute doctor appointments, dropping lunches and cleats off at school, cheering from the stands, running home to put dinner in the crockpot, and being the queen of flexibility.

The skill, patience, and energy required to be a mom is right up there with being the top CEO of any company. And yet, in the midst of all that moms juggle, we tend to beat ourselves up for not having the magazine-cover look and feel to our lives and homes. We want peace. Ok, I want peace.

I often feel that if I don’t feel peaceful then my life must be out of balance. At times this is very true. It is easy to take these out-of-balance and lack-of-peace feelings and equate them with being a failure as a mom. However, life is not about living in complete external peace. It is about living with internal peace amidst the external chaos.

How do we live with peace when our life is filled with chaos?

Remember what’s most important.

What is most important to you? Take a minute and write down your top five priorities in order.

One-on-one time is valuable at any age.

One-on-one time is valuable at any age.

Evaluate what’s really important.

Where do you spend your time? Take a minute and write down the top five ways you spend your time, in order, over an average week. Yes, include work, commute time, cleaning house, cooking . . .  Be honest. This is not about judgement, but simply a means of evaluation.

Be honest about your priorities.

Compare your two lists. I may say that spending quality time with my family is a top priority, but if I actually spend a majority of my time scrubbing floors and toilets or watching Netflix then I may need to re-evaluate what’s truly important.

Make a decision.

If you’ve done the little assignment along the way then you have some awareness about what’s important to you. Now, decide what you will do about this new knowledge.

So, how does this relate to peace?

Some of the most beautiful and memorable moments leave toys around the house, children with bloody knees or broken hearts, and mom covered in peanut butter kisses. If we don’t remember what’s important then it is easy to get caught thinking about and reacting to stained carpet, kids up past bedtime, dents in the family car, or many other experiences we face each day. These images don’t make the cover of any magazines, but they can fill our hearts with joy and peace if we know what’s important.

Being a mom doesn’t always look or feel peaceful, but it is worth it.

Be Extraordinary!

 

(I’m Traci, the “Be Extraordinary!” blogger. I share insights that challenge and encourage moms to be the best version of themselves. To me, that’s an extraordinary life! Click HERE to receive blog updates and a free newsletter.)

Mary Did You Know?

Mary did you know“Mary Did You Know?” is one of my favorite religious Christmas songs. As a mom – having given birth to three of my own children – I love putting myself in Mary’s place. I imagine the range of emotions Mary must have felt throughout her pregnancy. And the thought of holding Jesus Christ in my arms is overwhelming.

Other words and emotions come to mind as well . . . joy, fear, anticipation, uncertainty, gratitude, etc.

Imagine for a moment that you gave birth to the Savior of the world. To the one who would bring salvation and also great controversy. To the one who would heal and be loved by many. To the one who would be hated by others even to the point of being beaten and killed.

Will you put yourself in Mary’s sandals as you read the beautiful words of this song?

“Mary did you know that your baby boy will some day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you
.

“Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when your kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God.

“Oh Mary did you know

“The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb.

“Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you’re holding is the great I am.”

God has not given you or me His son to raise on this earth, but He has given each of us some precious gifts: forgiveness, life, dreams, and passions. How are you holding the dreams He has given you? Are you living out those dreams fully? Are you pursuing with passion all that you have been given and called to do?

To those who have been given much, much is required. Will you use all that you have been given to live the extraordinary life for which you were designed and created?

Be Extraordinary!

(I’m Traci, the “Be Extraordinary!” blogger. I share insights that challenge and encourage moms to be the best version of themselves. To me, that’s an extraordinary life! Click HERE to receive blog updates and a free newsletter.)

For Mom’s Eyes Only: Patience

Be patientPatience. From one mom’s heart to another.

If I am honest, I do not always show patience to my children, even though they are so valuable to me and I love them so much. Patience shows that what my children have to say is important and worth hearing. When I am patient, I wait to hear the whole story before I begin to speak and before I formulate responses in my mind. Patience allows God’s wisdom and love to catch up with my initial emotional responses. Patience affords me the space to think clearly and respond to my children’s actions, attitudes, and words with love.

I want to love my children with patience. I want to value their opinions, ideas, and thoughts. I want to value what they, as young people, have to offer. I want to pause long enough to truly hear all of the great and wonderful things they have to say.

Child of Mine: You are funny. You are adorable. You are innocent. You are thoughtful. You are smart. You are creative. You are unique. You are bold. You are a dreamer. You are hopeful. You are beautiful.

If I don’t respond with patience I miss all of these beautiful thoughts, words, actions, and feelings.

Child of Mine: You are hurting. You are angry. You are sad. You are misunderstood. You are in conflict. You are searching. You are hoping. You are wanting. You are lonely. You are afraid.

If I don’t respond with patience I miss all of these emotions that are shaping their lives and future choices from the inside out. Without patience, I will also miss out on the opportunity to walk the path of their lives alongside them.

I have so much to offer my children, but I lose the platform for sharing and communicating my ideas with them when I don’t take time to hear what they are saying, with and without words. So often, I want to get my thoughts out. I want to have influence over their decisions. I do this out of love for them, but it doesn’t come across that way when it is not done with patience. I can’t control their future choices or change their past choices by talking at them every chance I get.

Ultimately, I don’t want their silent obedience. I want a relationship with them. I want them to relate beautifully with God. I want them to live a life full of impact, faith, love, and the realization of their greatest dreams. This relationship I desire is not solely dependent on them. It begins with me.

Moms, will you join me in the following commitments?

I choose to be quick to listen and slow to speak.
I choose to listen to the entire story before I formulate thoughts or words of response.
The answer may not always be yes, but I choose to listen with the intent to understand my child’s heart.
I choose to be patient.

Moms: Be Extraordinary!

 

(I’m Traci, the “Be Extraordinary!” blogger. I share insights that challenge and encourage moms to be the best version of themselves. To me, that’s an extraordinary life! Click HERE to receive blog updates and a free newsletter.)

Traci’s Test Kitchen: Bob’s Chili Recipe

ChiliWatching the movie Ratatouille with my family inspired my 13-year-old to want to do some cooking. I enjoy cooking for my family, even trying new recipes, but doing this task with my son was a true treat!

AJ’s first task was to choose a recipe. I was open to just about anything and he is willing to eat just about anything so the options were endless. He ventured into the notebook titled, “Traci’s Favorites”. This notebook was a craft created at a MOPs event at least five years ago. Please don’t let the title fool you. Although this notebook does contain many of my favorite recipes it also contains many recipes that I have yet to attempt.

The recipe selection: Bob’s Chili Recipe (from the notebook) and Cornbread (from the Original Betty Crocker Cookbook).

Chili2I’m not actually sure why I have never made Bob’s Chili. Years ago (not sure how many) I was trained and then facilitated health and weight-loss classes through a program called Trinity Health. The founders of Trinity Health are Bob and Vicki and this recipe is Bob’s. So, this is not only a good-tasting chili recipe, but it is also a good-for-you recipe! Win-win!

The recipe was simple to follow. Check.

The recipe did not involve any crazy or hard-to-find ingredients. Check.

There was plenty of chili for leftovers. Check.

Everyone in the family liked the chili. Priceless.

Bob’s Chili Recipe

Ingredients (ingredients we used, if different, are placed in parenthesis)

2 lbs. lean ground beef or ground turkey (beef)

1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic

1 green pepper, chopped (red pepper)

3 stalks celery, sliced

2 cans (15-16 oz each) whole tomatoes, cut into pieces (petite diced tomatoes)

1 can (6 oz) tomato paste

1 Tbsp salt

1 tsp Splenda (Stevia)

1/4 cup chili powder

1 tsp red pepper sauce (Tapatio Salsa Picante)

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

2 small can diced green chilis, or 3-4 whole roasted green chilis, peeled and diced (canned)

1 can black beans

1 can rd beans

Directions

Chili3Cook and stir meat, onion, and garlic until meat is light brown, then drain. Stir in remaining ingredients, except beans. Heat to boiling, reduce heat, cover, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beans (don’t drain) and simmer another 45 minutes or until desired consistency, stirring occasionally. (30 minutes, followed by 15 minutes)

Honestly, I can’t wait to make this recipe again. It was so delicious! Yet, even more than making the chili, I can’t wait to cook with AJ (or one of my other children) again. It was awesome!

Even the simple, mundane, everyday tasks can Be Extraordinary!

%d bloggers like this: