Moving Forward with Your CG Group

Moving Forward with Your CG Group

In light of the current times, we are encouraging you to move forward in your groups as planned. This does take courage and we are given little foresight, so know that things might change along the way. People are in need of some sense of structure, clarity, and “normalcy” in the midst of a lot of uncertainty. However, with that said, figuring out what is safe for you and your group will vary from community to community. That is okay!

We suggest that you create an invitation for the year and communicate your plan, with a full understanding that some will say yes, some will need to take it meeting to meeting, and some will have a clear boundary attached to their yes. We are practicing how to use our voices and to hear what others need without throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Below is a sample email. Feel free to use this as a template or create your own email. You might need to have one-to-one phone conversations to clarify. God is using this time to sharpen your leadership, grow your trust in Him, and give you a clear path to watching Him move in the lives of your entire group.

We are here for you if you need help getting off the ground this year!

The CG Leadership Team

For more information or tips on how to start or lead a CG group, try listening to our CG mini-podcast on this very issue at https://www.patreon.com/courageousgirls or email us at info@mycourageousgirls.com for coaching. 

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Hello Friends,

I hope you and your families are having a wonderful summer in spite of all the uncertainty and canceled plans.

After much prayer and processing, I wanted to reach out and let you know the plans for this year with regard to Courageous Girls. I realize we are all at various levels of comfort with regard to gathering and being with people and I want to be sensitive to that. There is no shame in feeling the need to be physically distant or to uphold “no hugging” boundaries or even refraining from attending. I believe we can all give each other tremendous grace and mercy with regard to where we all are. 

That being said, here’s the plan: 

  • For the first few meetings, we will meet outside. 
  • As the months progress we will make decisions according to the latest mandates with regard to COVID and to where we can meet. 
  • Have a conversation with your daughter about not hugging the other girls and giving each other space
  • Please don’t attend if anyone in your home is sick or you’ve been around someone who has recently tested positive for COVID

If you can’t meet because of schedule conflicts, sickness, COVID exposure, or whatever the case, please make it a priority to still go through the lesson with your daughter. Make it a special time for the two of you. There may be a month or two this year that we don’t meet, or we choose a virtual meeting instead, but let’s work to stick to our schedule even if it ends up just being you and your daughter. 

Remember the heart behind Courageous Girls is the Mama/Daughter Connection, though our daughters are learning as we face this time in community. 

Keep in mind, relationships will change, you may feel left out if you choose to step back a bit this year, but God is with us and will hold us through the rollercoaster. He is working in the midst of the difficulties. Please use your voice to communicate your family needs and as we all try to prioritize our daughters, know that grace takes the long view. 

Please confirm your decision by (specified date). 

Trusting God with the details and the gaps. 

Pressing Into Conflict

Pressing Into Conflict

“Conflict is a necessary ingredient in the process of being known and building intimacy”(Terra Mattson, Courageous: Being Daughters Rooted in Grace). 

As moms, we expect conflict between our children. We expect it between our kiddos and friends they play with. When my kids were toddlers and preschoolers, I welcomed disagreements as they provided learning moments I could teach within. As they have gotten older, though, I catch myself uttering the words, “Can you please just get along?” Or, “Please stop disagreeing,” negating the fact that my kids still need to learn how to move through conflict. Conflict allows depth to develop within relationship. Walking through conflict, owning one’s mistakes, and practicing the act of forgiveness are valuable learning moments for kids and adults, alike.

You are probably thinking, “Wait…what did you say?” It seems counter-cultural at first. We are  often taught to avoid conflict or to sweep it under the rug to maintain peace. The word itself (conflict), has all sorts of negative connotations associated with it. Healthy conflict is not the enemy. What’s important is HOW WE ENGAGE in the conflict. As James 1:19-20 shares, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” When we enter conflict with a heart that allows us to listen and be slow to anger, it will foster an atmosphere of deeper understanding and pave the road to forgiveness.

Here’s a real-life example from a recent discussion we had in our house. My elementary-aged daughter and I were talking about a presentation that happened in our town called “Save the Kids.” Collin Kartchner came from Utah to speak to parents, teachers, and community members about technology and youth. I told my daughter that Collin is on a crusade to help parents and tweens/teens understand the devastation happening in our nation with kids owning smart phones and engaging in unsupervised use of social media. I also shared that Collin told parents in attendance that they needed to assess their own phone usage before asking their child to make any changes.

The next day, after my daughter processed this information, she wanted to talk with me about my phone and computer usage. She requested Collin’s contact information to have him come to our house to help me understand that I need to get a flip phone and part ways with my smart phone.

I was flabbergasted and hurt. I believe with all my heart that I am extremely conservative with my phone usage, especially around my children. This wasn’t about MY perception, though. Rather, it was about my daughter’s. As I looked into her youthful, expectant eyes, I knew I could escalate this conflict by defending myself, or I could walk in humility and love, truly listening to the feelings she was communicating.

“Courageous is the woman who is committed through conflict and humble enough to honor her own needs alongside the needs of others” (Terra Mattson, Courageous: Being Daughters Rooted in Grace).

I remembered this truth as I took a deep breath, praying that my human desire to respond with justification would not win out. Thankfully, I was able to meet my daughter with empathy.  As we processed through this conflict, I acknowledged her desire for greater boundaries with my phone usage and a longing to spend more time with me. As a mom that strives to pour into her kids and regulate phone usage, this was a really humbling conversation. It took every ounce of grace to not list off all the ways I spend time with her and love her. However, her perception needed to be honored.

Did I still feel disappointed, angry, frustrated, and hurt that my 8-year-old daughter perceived that my phone/computer usage needed to be curbed? ABSOLUTELY! It was also a wake up call, though. Even when I think I am doing a “good job” of managing my phone and only responding “quickly” to necessary texts throughout the day, my daughter’s feelings were valid. My phone use was an unwelcome distraction in our family life and needed some adjustments. By acknowledging my need for continued growth and asking for her to forgive me, healing took root where resentment once lived. Terra Mattson is right when she says, “Conflict is a necessary ingredient in the process of being known and building intimacy.”

Listening, empathizing, acknowledging mistakesand asking for forgiveness are steps outlined in the Bible. Paul reminds the people of Colossae in his letter, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:13-14).Mattson also says,“Courageous girls understand that forgiveness is not just a word we flippantly throw around but a transformational process that helps us stay aligned with God and others.”

Paul wraps up his lines with a powerful reminder to live in unity with each other by putting on love. Mamas,may you be encouraged to know that healthy conflict is an act of growth and not a sign of failure. It deepens relationship as you move through it, rather than around it, with the motivation of love. May you courageously lean into healthy conflict knowing you are equipped by your Maker and strengthened by its sword.

Written by: Stephanie West, Courageous Girls Leadership Coach

*Check out the Living Wholehearted Podcast with Jeff & Terra Mattson for more resources on conflict resolution.

Pursue Her Heart     

Pursue Her Heart    

We love because he first loved us. ~ 1 John 4:19

When I first held my precious first-born daughter, the agape (unconditional) love I felt for this beautiful new baby was indescribable. She captured the depth of my soul in such a new way and became a permanent fixture in my arms. I was captivated by this 8 lb. bundle and I wanted her to know how deep and wide my love, and her daddy’s love was for her. When she was little this looked like lots of playtime together, attending to her needs, narrating the world to her on walks, or making a silly face to make her laugh. As she got older, I realized that the ways I had been loving her required me to pivot and pursue her heart in a new way. 

“Every child has an emotional tank, a place of emotional strength that can fuel him through the challenging days of childhood and adolescence.”Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell

If you get a chance to read the The 5 Love Languages of Children, by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, I would HIGHLY recommend it. As a mom, it gave me a framework to understand my daughter’s evolving love needs through a different lens.

The 5 Love Languages outlined in the book are:

  1. Physical Touch (Cuddles, hugs, kisses, holding hands)
  2. Words of Affirmation (“I love you,” words of encouragement, words that affirm his/her giftings)
  3. Quality Time (Intentional time that is spent device free. Play a board game together; read together; do a craft/art project; play a sport together; enjoy a coffee date, etc.)
  4. Gifts (Genuine, thoughtful, heart-felt expressions given in love. Select a special item for your child while away on a business trip or bless her with a meaningful birthday gift.)
  5. Acts of Service (Showing compassion or valuing others’ needs ahead of one’s own, both inside and outside your home. Plan a festive tea party in your home for your daughter and get dressed up for the event; plan to put a care package together for a neighbor that just had surgery; volunteer together at a local homeless shelter.)

“We need to fill our children’s emotional tanks with unconditional love, because real love is always unconditional.” -Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell

Because giving gifts is one of the ways I like to show love myself, I assumed that it would be a meaningful way to pour into my oldest daughter’s love tank. I could not have been more WRONG! While I enjoyed giving the gift — to celebrate a holiday, for her birthday, or even just because — these physical objects held absolutely NO value to my daughter’s heart. 

There was a light bulb moment several years ago on Valentine’s Day when my daughter was in her early elementary years. As I was tucking her into bed, I asked her what her favorite part of the day was. Her response was, “cuddling with you right now.” I had put love notes on her door over the previous two weeks; I had made special meals on valentines day; I had picked a small gift out for her, but none of those acts of love resonated with her heart like spending time together and cuddling. This was pivotal in our relationship and it taught me an incredibly valuable lesson.

I learned that I needed to pursue her in a language that connected to her heart. 

I speak from my own personal experience (as well as from many moms who have shared with me) that pursuing a daughter’s heart in preschool and elementary years comes a lot easier. However, as our girls get taller, more hormonal, and perhaps more vocal,  our confidence and courage as moms, to pursue our daughters in the same way we did when they were younger, may feel lacking. There may be barriers between the two of you where once there were none. 

Mommas, our growing daughters need us NOW more than ever to pursue their hearts. Whatever age and stage your daughter is in, there is opportunity to lay a strong foundation of love — to  pour into her heart in a way that will sustain her love tank through these developmental years.  In fact, we need a full court press from both parents to love our daughters in the language they understand. They might not sit in your lap and cuddle like they did when they were preschoolers, but their hearts are just as hungry to be loved unconditionally through affirming words, touch, device-free time with you, a thoughtful well-intentioned gift, or meaningful acts of service. 

“The dangers of adolescence are threatening enough in themselves; but a child entering this time with an empty emotional tank is particularly vulnerable to the problems of the teenage years. “- Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell

Terra Mattson, therapist and founder of Courageous Girls, reminds us that spending 30 minutes per week in our daughter’s world can drastically affect her level of trust and her “feeling” of being loved. In turn, she learns to love others well, too. 

She will know how to love well if she has received such a love. Know you are enough, through His power and purpose, to pursue that precious daughter’s heart.

The days are long, but the years are short. Let’s pursue our daughter’s hearts with a boldness and fierceness, mommas! Let’s show our girls the agape love that was first shown to us by our Maker.

Written by Stephanie West 

Courageous Girls Leadership Coach

Be a Friend

“If you want to have good friends (and teach your daughter how to have good friendships), you need to be a good friend. If you wish others would extend an invitation, be the first to invite. Scottish pastor Alistair Begg once said, “The love of God is an initiative-taking love; in fact, genuine love always takes the initiative.” Though it feels intimidating, and may trigger our fears of rejection and pride, this is the reality of where friendship begins. Someone needs to initiate. If you want to be friends with someone, I would challenge you to believe that God is asking you to take a step forward in faith.”

– InCourage, p. 118
She Dreams…Big

She Dreams…Big

Written by Kelly Vlach

I finished the final page of InCourage on Feb 2nd. On Feb 3rd, I opened up to page 1 and began again. To write about what I have taken away from this book would be to rewrite the entire book. So I will focus on my biggest takeaway.

My husband and I tried to conceive our first child for 4 heartbreaking years before our miracle baby boy was born. And then another 4 years passed before our twins would be born. My big dream for so many years was to build a family. When it finally happened for us, the heavenly joy was palpable and I threw myself into mom’ing.

What InCourage has helped me realize is that somewhere along the way, I skipped a few steps. I had some healing to do, but had left that part of me untouched while focussing on raising my kids.

As moms, we need to heal our wounds before we can effectively prepare our kids for the battle of this life. Terra Mattson, author of InCourage, uses the example of oxygen masks on an airplane. There is a very practical reason they tell you to put your own mask on first. So at the beginning of the new year, about halfway through reading the book, I committed to morning quiet times; something I have NEVER been good at doing. My kids usually wake up at 7 am, so I set my alarm for 6 am. I haven’t set an alarm to wake up since before my first child was born. The first two mornings I was awakened by a dream 1 minute before my alarm went off – the dream was of God himself clicking the light on in my study room. Waiting for me. As if to say, “Well, it’s about time. I’ve been waiting for you.”

My morning quiet time has become like a spiritual spa day for me. Yes, there are many mornings that my kids wake up early and “interrupt” me. But now they know that instead of finding me in bed and waking me up, they’ll find me already up, in my cozy overstuffed chair, reading my Bible. Some mornings, my daughter grabs her sketch book, snuggles in next to me and asks me, “Mom, can I spend time with you and God?” Terra says that, “one of our main jobs as parents is to help our daughters discern the voice of God and create space for them to hear His voice repeatedly so that, like a baby in the womb, they can recognize it quickly” (InCourage).

I am quickly learning that we can’t just direct our kids, we are to lead them. We can’t just teach our kids, we need to learn first. We can’t just say, we need to do.

That brings me to Chapter 10: She Dreams…Big. “And not just any dream, but one birthed from the sacred spaces of intimacy with the God who loves and knows us like no other,” (182). I must admit that part of me rolled my eyes when I read that. I have been very vocal the past 8 years about not being a “goal setter” and about not being a “big dreamer.” I tried that once, and I got hurt because God had other plans. My walls were high and I was no longer going to hope for something that God may or may not have in His plans. I thought this was a good M.O. for my life. Plus, God had already given me my big dream – times 3! Three beautiful kids — how dare I dream for more than that? That would be irresponsible and selfish. But then I was hit with the truth that, “trauma and abuse have destroyed our ability to dream…fears keep us stuck….Trust and obedience seem too scary for someone who was deeply harmed, violated, or betrayed by someone they trusted” (183). That’s how I felt toward God, though I hardly realized it.

My trauma was infertility and I was still harboring mistrust toward God – my creator – and the creator of my children. I camped out on that page and that truth for several days. Terra goes on to say, “Our God is not abusive, and will never violate our will. He designed us for so much and will allow us to take as long as we need to heal. He is compassionate and patient. There is grace for where we are today, and He will help us take one step at a time toward dreaming” (183). So I started praying, a lot. I read Job. I read 1 Corinthians. I still have some walls to break down between me and God, but I’m working on it and we are rebuilding our relationship to be stronger and more intimate than ever.

Then, I started praying for a new dream. Terra asks, “If you could not fail, what would you do?” I didn’t have an answer except one that involved an island paradise and an umbrella drink. I asked my closest friends and family what their answers would be. My dad would play shortstop for the Yankees. My mom would join Samaritans Purse. My sister-in-law would teach. My sister would foster. A friend of mine said she was struggling with her answer, too. What was my answer? For so long my answer was “have kids.” Maybe that was it. I already answered the question and already accomplished my big dream. 

In my morning quiet time, I read I Corinthians 9:22-23, “To the weak, I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might win some.” If you are familiar with the Core Value Index that Terra and Jeff Mattson use in their business, you’ll know what I mean when I say that my graph is a square. My core value is that of an Innovator, but not by much. I am nearly equal in all categories. I realized that I am uniquely wired for this verse. Maybe God did have a new dream for me. Maybe we don’t all just get one big dream. And then one quiet morning it came to me. I want all children to feel safe and important. If I could not fail, I would fix the foster care system so that all children would have a perfect system to turn to when their homes are not safe. That’s big, right? In fact, it’s really big. T

Terra says, “It’s not about us or producing anything. It’s about a relationship in which God loves us so much that he wants to partner with us to reach the world one person at a time.”

Nine years ago, before my first son was born, I started the process to become a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer for kids in the foster care system. I completed the training and was sworn in before a judge. But then, life got crazy. My dream of having children was becoming a reality and CASA was put to the side – I never even took a case. But in my morning quiet times, I started praying about CASA again. Would that make sense as a first step? I have a tendency to false start in decision making, plowing forward when I think I have a good idea but ultimately having to halt for something unexpected that I hadn’t thought through. I didn’t want to do that this time. I was really trying to move slowly and prayerfully, especially since I had just begun reading Acts during my morning quiet time. I was struck by the apostles’ patience before Pentecost. I wanted to follow their example and wait for the spirit to move, but I couldn’t help myself. A few days later, I contacted the local CASA director and the very next day, I was at a desk with my volunteer workbook in front of me starting training. I’m not saying that I am going to revamp the foster care system and SAVE ALL THE BABIES! But I am going to make a difference for one child at a time. I will become weak to reach the weak (not only the children in harm’s way, but their families as well). From there, it is in God’s hands. When I explained to my children what I was doing, my 4-year-old son said, “Oh, so you’re like a superhero!” In some small way, maybe it does kind of feel like that. 

My first time reading through InCourage was a healing process; it helped me grow. My second time through this book I will be reading it with new eyes, ready to lead the generation of kids in my house that God has entrusted to me.

“Imagine a generation of girls who know they are loved and love others well. Imagine a generation of girls who speak life and encouragement and hope into those around them. Imagine a generation of girls who not only stand up for their own value and worth but also for the value and worth of others. Imagine a generation of girls who lean into the mighty power of our God and live into their destiny – the one crafted for them for such a time as this!” (206). In the words of Terra, “Let’s empower our [sons and] daughters to dream and then be blown away by how they partner with God to participate in a greater cause” (185).

Kelly Vlach is a stay at home, work from home mom to an eight year-old boy and four year-old twins.  She was born and raised in Lake Oswego – the daughter of a pastor – and moved to Bend when she married her mountain man husband, Travis. They have been married for 16 years and have worked together running their business, Vlach Bookkeeping, for the past 8 years. She enjoys taking advantage of all the Bend lifestyle has to offer including camping, fishing, golfing, running along the Deschutes river, playing cornhole in our yard with good friends and family and sharing laughs around the fire pit.

Living with Grace

Living with grace means that we not only offer it to others, but that we also offer it to ourselves! This can be a difficult thing to do, even when we quickly offer grace to others. It is also very difficult for our girls to do for themselves. Yet, we are loved fiercely by God. He exemplified the length He was willing to go to for us when Jesus died on the cross. If His love for us means He was willing to die for us, then I imagine it would hurt God to hear all the negative things we say to ourselves, even if only in our heads.

Ask yourself this: If a friend made a mistake or experienced failure, what would my reaction be? Would you respond to that friend with phrases like, “You’re horrible at that! Why do you even try? How stupid! You will never get it!”

I doubt it.

Most likely, we would encourage a friend with words of affirmation and offers of help: “Are you okay? Let’s work together on that. You’ve got this! You can do it!”

What can we do to start sharing grace with ourselves and how can we help teach our daughters to do it as well? One way to do this is to write a few positive messages to yourself (short, encouraging phrases) that you can tape on your door or mirror, anywhere that you will see them daily. Encourage your daughter to do it as well. It might feel unauthentic at first, but if we practice re-wording what we say to ourselves daily, eventually our brains will re-set and start believing something better, too. Remind your daughter that you want to know when she is feeling the emotions so that you can help her re-phrase the negative thoughts and replace them with affirming truths that we can get straight from God’s word in the Bible. If you need help knowing where to look, start by turning to Romans 8:31-35, Colossians 3:15 or Philippians 4:13.

A Letter to Courageous Single Moms

A Letter to Courageous Single Moms

written by Amy Oliver

I didn’t ever plan to be a “single mom”. It wasn’t a label I ever wanted to wear. At the time of my divorce, I was running a ministry whose mission is to bring women and children into the body of Christ through gospel centered teaching, relationship and service.  I stood on stage and proclaimed the beauty of God’s design for family and to be honest, in a way that was my idol. We talked about how to raise children in stable loving households. And I “failed”. Or at least that’s what it felt like when my husband walked away.  I’ve been on quite a journey into single parenthood and have been humbled in the most beautiful of ways. I wish I could sit down with you, look you in the eye and tell you how loved you are, how brave you are and how much I respect you. That I know your pain and what it feels like to be “that mom” sitting at the soccer game alone watching other families who seemingly have something you don’t. But I would also tell you this….you are NOT a “single mom”…that is NOT your identity. You are a mom, chosen by God to raise your children in God’s power. You are not broken, defective, less capable or doomed. Your children and you have the same heavenly father. Celebrate that, share it with your kids and allow that truth to remind you that ultimately we are all children of a single parent…one God….whose love will be abundantly more than enough for you and for your children.

I have two girls who are now 13 and 10. I worried that they’d be scarred for life by the break up of our family. I read the scary articles about how divorce affects kids. But can I tell you something those articles didn’t say? My kids are strong, resilient and courageous BECAUSE of what we’ve gone through. We’ve had to learn together how to weather storms, talk about difficult emotions and lean on God together when life just doesn’t look like we thought it would. My kids can set boundaries like a boss! They can see below the surface of a situation and find the truth like detectives. They trust their feelings and are not afraid to say what they mean (which sometimes isn’t fun to be on the receiving end of, but I’ll take it). Together, we’ve rebuilt our little family! We even gave ourselves a new name…the Truth Love Trio! Having different last names felt a little awkward for all of us, so we decided we’d come up with a new name for our little threesome. We wrote up a definition of who we are, unique to us and our circumstances. We love when we see 3:33 on a clock. When one of us sees it, we all yell out, “333” and the others echo it back. To us that is a reminder that God sees our little Trio and loves us. All of us.

Listen closely…this is important. You CAN raise your kiddos on your own, but you don’t need to! You’re not alone even though it can feel like you are. I’m a “do it yourself” kind-of-gal and had a lot of pride about being capable of raising these girls alone. But the reality is my girls need other perspectives, other people pouring into their lives. And I’ve been immensely blessed by letting go of my pride and allowing others to come alongside me. For us, that looked like families having us over for dinner and not allowing myself to feel uncomfortable because I’m sitting at a table with a mom and dad. My girls have benefited greatly by watching healthy two parent families operate. I hope this for their future, so of course I want them to experience it now. We’ve also invited families to come eat with us, which felt a little awkward at first, but again, it reminds us that we are not on the outside looking in.

At the same time, I want my girls to know they are not the only ones without a dad in the house, so I’ve cultivated great friendships with other single moms and their kids. A healthy balance of both has been just what our family needed. Same thing goes for vacations. We have invited families to come with us and been invited to go with others. I’ve found that many of my married girlfriends have loved the opportunity to go away for a weekend without their spouse and we’ve had great times having their kids with us. Recently, my girls and I went on a vacation and at the last minute another married couple and their 3 boys came with us. It was so much fun for my girls to experience all that boy time! God’s blessed my girls with lots of bonus moms and dads; we talk about that all the time. I want my girls to see how God’s filled the gap with lots of amazing men and women who model for them the love of the Father in unique ways. Coaches, teachers, youth leaders and parents of their friends have really loved on my girls and I’m so grateful for that. Once I let go of my shame over what I thought our family should look like, God built a family I could never have imagined.

Same holds true for a Courageous Girls group. Do not think you are exempt because you are not married. You are a mom with girls and that’s all you need to be. Consider that the other girls in the group NEED to see a single mom and understand that she’s no different than a mom who’s married. Single parenthood is a reality, whether by choice, divorce, death or adoption. Your courage and strength will bless the members of your group. You are not defined by your marital status, you are defined by a God of love.  And the married moms aren’t defined by their marital status, either. In actuality, some of them may be struggling in their marriage or have a husband who’s uninvolved. Don’t assume everyone else has a perfect family, because those don’t exist. We all have challenges and sharing that is the point of being in a Courageous Girls group. We’re teaching our girls how to take the challenges of life and trust God to bring healing and hope. And we do it together in community! Embrace that and allow God to use you in a unique way.

All these ideas are just that, not a formula for anyone to follow. The more important thing for you, friend, is to take good care of YOU! There are a lot of demands on your plate: Caring for children, running a household and likely a job (or two) thrown in there, too. Getting adequate sleep, eating well, caring for your body and having someone to talk through your deepest aches with is invaluable. The best thing you can “do” is to focus on your health – physically, emotionally and spiritually. For me, that looks like spending time alone in the morning with my journal and bible. It means taking the time to make myself a healthy meal even if my girls won’t eat it. It means yoga and taking every opportunity I can to go for a walk with a friend. It means being in counseling to address my wounds and acknowledge my hurt. Prioritizing myself is a discipline, not a selfish act. My girls need me to be healthy and whole so that I can love them from that place.  And look, they’ve seen me grieve and struggle these last several years. They’ve seen friends show up with meals and watched me cry on the couch. I’m not hiding my pain, but I am allowing them to see God heal me through healthy relationships and healthy coping skills. I want them to know that I need God and others, that I’m not superwoman, because I want them to know they don’t have to be superwomen either.

I see you, single mom! I love you even though we’ve never met. I’m praying for you right now to know God’s love for you is immeasurable. Your girl(s) are blessed to have you as their courageous mama.

Emotions are like Trains

Emotions are like trains — they move quickly and can be powerful — especially when experienced by tween or teenage girls! One day they can be fully in-check and regulated, and the very next day they may veer off track or even run you over.

We need to teach our girls (and remember ourselves) that emotions do not control us; rather, they can help guide us toward a more authentic version of ourselves and to a deeper connection to God and others. Calmly and gently teach your girl to breathe through her strong emotions and to simultaneously ask God to help her understand what is at the root of the emotion.

A powerful lesson we can teach our girls is that unlike emotions, God’s love and care for us is CONSTANT! It does not change; it is un-movable, regardless of how we are feeling in the moment. It is STEADY! Let’s teach our girls how to find the quiet space (even in the midst of big emotions) and ask for help – both from caring individuals and from God. Let’s empower them with a foundation of faith – faith that supersedes feelings; faith in a God who calms stormy seas and even conducts locomotive trains!

Be Loved, Love Well