Praying for your children {part one}

May 31, 2013


I know most of us have probably logged a lot of hours praying for our children when they have been sick or needed surgery or have been hurting.  In those times, it seems so natural to turn to God.   I wonder though how many of us turn to Him in prayer when our children are doing well?

I have always been a prayer.  Since I became a Mom (sixteen years ago), The Power of a Praying Parent book has been on my bedside table.  However, some weeks, months and years I have been very consistent about praying for my children and some weeks, months and years I have not. As with most things I know I "should " do (exercise, eating healthy, reading the Bible) I simply fall out of the habit sometimes.  I get lazy.

Recently, I have seen firsthand the amazing power of prayer.  A few months ago, a dear friend of mine was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer.  I wanted to help her but did not know what to do. I immediately got together a group of friends and we started saying a healing rosary every Monday for our friend.

Our group grew a little and lots of prayer requests came our way.  And we have seen absolute miracles.  One member of our group was waiting for a heart transplant.  She had been waiting years and suddenly a heart was found! She had her surgery and is recovering beautifully.  In fact, next week will be her last week coming to our rosary because she is ready to go back to her her home state of Louisiana.  It has been truly miraculous. And this is just one story. I could share many.

This has been a challenging year in our family. We have had a few tough transitions and I have been turning to God in prayer for my children daily.  And guess what...I see His work in our lives.  Dramatically.  The Bible tells us You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.  Matthew 21:22.

I want to encourage you all to take a little bit of time each day to pray for your children.  I know we are all running around in 100 different directions but I think as parents this is one of the most important things we can do for our children.  I have learned  (the hard way) that God does not answer each prayer exactly how we want it answered exactly when we want it answered.  We have been praying that healing rosary every week for my son's migraines and they are not gone yet.  That doesn't mean God isn't hearing my prayer.  It just means His plan is different from mine right now. And that is okay.  I have faith. I am not giving up.  I know our prayers will be answered.

I am not an expert in prayer.  I am just a faithful Mom trying to put my trust in God and raise good kids. I was raised Catholic and we've got the rote prayer covered but I was not really adept at just spilling my heart to God. I was not really confident praying off the cuff. So, the following tools have helped me immensely in my prayer journey.  I highly recommend them.

1. The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian.  This book is amazing.  She has a chapter on every situation you could possibly want to pray about from friends to school to talents to freedom from fear and finding the perfect mate. Within each chapter is a prayer that you can say (which makes us Catholics so much more comfortable;) and scripture verses to pray on specific issues as well.  So, I can flip to the chapter on fear and pray that for one child.  Then I can turn to the chapter on Godly friends and pray that chapter for another child.  Then, I might read the chapter on avoiding alcohol or drugs and pray that one for yet another child.  I cannot even overstate how this book has been the best investment I have ever made as a parent.  There are things in there I had never even thought to pray about for my children but I am so glad I do now.

2.  Praying Circles around your Children by Mark Batterson.  This book is very short and quick but it really explains the importance of prayer and how to pray for your children as well.  It helped me pray much more effectively for my children.

3. Revive our Hearts 31 Biblical Virtues to pray for your children.  This is a list of 31 short prayers that are biblical virtues we desire for our children.  I pray one each day.  So if it the 30th of May, I pray #30.  That way each month, I cover all the virtues.  If it is a short month, I might pray two a day on some of them. Click on the title above to download the free printable.

* As a side note, I recommend buying the actual book.  I bought the e-reader of Praying Circles around your Children and I wish I had the physical book.  If the books are sitting out, they serve as a visual reminder to pray for your children daily.  Also, I flip back between the books and the virtues and I like them all in one place.

Have a blessed weekend!

A few early summer faves

May 28, 2013

I live in Houston where summer lasts about 6 months of the year so I usually don't look forward to it.  However, this year, we have had a very mild spring and I am really excited for summer.  Since Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer, I thought I'd share a few early summer favorites of mine.



One--this is a fabulous highlighter for cheeks, brow bone or lips.  And it costs $1 y'all! You read that right...ONE Dollar.  You can find it at Target sometimes.
Two--love this lightweight shrunken boyfriend shirt.  It is a flattering fit and looks so cute with shorts or a skirt.
Three--This is a beautiful champagne colored highlighter that looks awesome on your brow or cheekbone when you have a little tan.  Makes you look perfectly sun kissed!
Four--again the shrunken boyfriend shirt.  I got it in this gorgeous blue and had it monogrammed in white on the pocket.  It screams summer with white jeans or shorts. This blue one is one sale right now too.
Five--I love this product.  For about $5 a bottle, I get really beachy waves and no circa 1980's crunchy hair.  It smells really summery too.
Six--these are SO cute!  They come in red too.  I have them in the blue stripe and neon pink!


Here is a shot of the monogram on that turquoise shirt.
It was kind of dark so the coloring is off a little in this photo but it turned out really cute.

Busy, busy, busy.

May 21, 2013


I think this is the era of being "busy."  Everyone is over-scheduled and overwrought.  No one has time for anything.  Just this morning, my 6 year old asked for a planner to organize her appointments (dentist?) and activities.

"Busy" has become a new status symbol and I think people even compete amongst their grown friends for who is the busiest.  I have seen and heard it.  I might have even done it myself.

Yes, I am guilty too.  I try not to use the b-word too often because our words DO shape our reality.  But I cannot help it.  Sometimes, I just feel so.... busy.

Often I have clients or friends who come to me because their lives are too chaotic or they are too busy.  They feel scattered and unfulfilled. They feel like they are racing from one activity to the next. I think a lot of us feel this way a lot of the time.  And here is the problem... I think for many of us, our time is not aligned with our values.

We commit to things because we think we should be doing them.  A good Mom goes on the school field trips, right?  A good baseball player plays on the traveling team, right?  All kids need to learn a musical instrument, right?  WRONG!

Let me confess...I don't go on many school field trips. I used to go on them because I thought that was the "right thing to do" as a stay at home Mom.  I did it because I thought it was expected of me.  I felt like it would look bad if I chose not to go.  After all, I had no excuse. I was not working full time.

But the truth is, I despised the field trips. I am not saying there is anything wrong with them.  When you go on a field trip, you can get to know your kids friends and be a part of the school community. They need chaperones on school trips. Some parents even enjoy the field trips (I do not).  I get a little claustrophobic with 300+ kids at the science museum and I am always afraid I will lose a child.  I get carsick too.  Field trips and I do not really agree.

However, knowing my kids' friends and being involved in the school community IS important to me so I find other ways to do it.  And my way does not involve a whole day either.  I volunteer for class parties where I cannot lose anyone.  I bring my daughter lunch and sit with her friends in the cafeteria.  Both of those things take about an hour every once in a while.  I get to know her friends.  I spend time helping in the school but I am less busy because it takes less time too.  It is much more manageable for me.

For my middle school son, I work one shift a week in the school bookstore with him.  That fulfills my value system.  I have time doing something with my son.  We are serving his school community.  I get to know his friends and teachers.  He will remember that time with me every Wednesday morning more than if I served on a committee.

When clients come to me confiding that they are too busy, I have them keep a loose diary or journal recording of how they spend their time for a few days in a row.  Then I give them some worksheets that have them contemplate their values (home, family, relationships, school, spirit, service, community, work, physical exercise, sports, social, financial, entertainment, etc).  Finally, I have them look at their days and examine whether the way they are spending their time is aligned with the values they have in life.  And most of the time, it is not.  Most people are doing things that fulfill other people's values or expectations of them.

I hear people saying that they value their marriage above all else but they cannot recall the last time they spent time alone with their spouse.  Similarly, I have heard women tell me how important their friendships are to them yet they never call or go out with their friends.  And one that makes me really sad...people who tell me their kids are everything to them but they spend less that 30 minutes a day engaging them.  Seriously, think about how much time you spend relating to the people you love and value the most.  Many people spend more time on facebook or instagram or watching TV than with their loved ones.  And I have done that too.

So, the point here is not whether you are PTO president or CEO of the company. The point is not what you are doing that is keeping you so busy.  Everyone has their own way of making a difference in the world. I am not placing judgement on what you spend your time doing. I just want you to think about if what you are so busy doing is consistent with what you value the most.  If not, it might be time for a change.

Honey, I'm home!

May 17, 2013


From time to time, I plan to post a quick and easy thing you can do right away to make your marriage better.  This one still comes as a surprise to me and I am a little hesitant to share it at the risk of sounding like a scene out of "Leave it to Beaver." Nonetheless, here it is:

When working with couples in my practice, I often ask my clients at the end of a session to look their spouse in the eyes and tell them one thing that would make them feel more loved this week. Week after week, I hear men give the same response.

They want their wives to stop what they are doing when they come home and briefly pay attention to them. Some men want a hug and kiss, others simply desire eye contact and a "how was your day?" or "I am so glad you are home."  But time after time, this is the request I hear most often in my office.  More often than not, their wives are very surprised that this means so much to their spouses. And really, how easy would that be to do?

Yes, if you are a stay at home Mom, you might be rushing around getting dinner ready or helping with homework.  If you work outside the home, you might be getting changed or just walking in the door yourself. This is a busy time of the day. But what I hear from men is that they want to be first for just a moment.  They want to come before kids and the house and dinner.  They want to feel valued and appreciated at the end of the day. And really isn't that what we ALL want?

So try this little tip this week and let me know what happens. In our house, I need to be better about this too.  Our dog is SO excited when my husband comes home and he has commented how nice it would be if everyone in the family were as happy to see him as the dog!

Please share these posts on facebook or pin the images to pinterest (just hover over the image for the pin it icon and click) to help get the word out about The Nurtured Home.  Also, don't forget to follow along on my sidebar.  Have a great weekend y'all and thank you for all the kind support as I launch this site!

Getting your teen (and pre-teen) to talk to you

May 16, 2013

My kids actually tell me a lot. Maybe even too much.  Our whole family tends to be talkative.  However, I have seen in my practice and in life that most teens and pre-teens stop confiding in their parents. And that is somewhat normal. They shouldn't tell us everything. It is part of becoming an independent adult.

However, most parents I know want their kids to talk to them a bit more and I am going to tell you just how to accomplish that!

1. Be Quiet.

Yes, that is right.  Shhh...  Don't bombard your teen with questions when they get in the car or walk in the door.  It will make them close up.  When my oldest son started high school last year, I picked him up everyday after school.  As soon as he got in the car, it went like this:

Me: How was school?
Him: Good.

Me: Who did you sit with at lunch?
Him: Guys (it's an all boy school, duh!)

Me: Do you have a lot of homework?
Him: Yes.

Me: Did you go over to the girls' school at lunch?
Him: Maybe.

Maybe I was not asking the right questions. I don't know.  But I do know that he was not talking to me much and I missed that. When my boys were little, I usually asked more open ended questions. But with this being a new school, I did not really know what to ask.  He is my oldest and we were treading new waters.

So, I stopped asking questions altogether. He would get in the car and I would just say hi.  Then I would simply drive. And guess what?  He started telling me stuff.  A lot of stuff. Details. All the stuff I really wanted to know. I found the less I ask, the more they tell. When you ask a lot of questions, teens get defensive and feel invaded.  If you hold back quietly, they will decide to tell you stuff.  When it is their idea, they will tell you more.

2. Just be there.

So #1 and #2 go hand in hand.  You cannot stop asking questions and be absent as well.  That would be a mistake. I try to just "be there" with my kids as much as I can.  I will just go hang out in their room.  I don't schedule clients and I am rarely on the phone/computer during the after school hours.  I just try to be around.  If my middle schooler is in the garage making a slingshot, I go out there and watch. And guess what? He talks to me. If my high schooler is up late studying in his room, I just wander in and sit on his window bench.  He is usually so grateful for a study break, he confides in me.  Just being there cannot be underestimated.

And if you have teens, food is a gateway to conversation.  Take a teen out to eat and they will talk.  Trust me.

A friend recently told me that a Mom she knew used to sit at the kitchen table after school with a cup of tea and some mail or trivial paperwork. She did not get in her children's face but she was always "just there" and available if they wanted her. It works.

3. Listen to the stuff they want to talk about.  

This one can really be tough. You might not be interested in hearing about paint ball or a video game or the latest cafeteria antics at school.  Listen anyway! Act interested. One time when I was feeling a bit disconnected from one of my sons, I started acting interested in a passion of his (it was not interesting to me at all--in fact, I still don't quite get it). However, he talked about it forever and I nodded and said, " wow" and "interesting" and "go on." It communicated to him that I am interested in HIM--in his life and his passions. I actually saw what my son was so passionate about (even if it is not my passion). It built a connection that led to more conversations in other areas. So listen to the boring stuff even if it is about video games. This is an area where asking questions is good. Ask about the stuff they want to talk about (their passions) not the stuff YOU want to know about.

Example: Tell me all about that Iron Man movie, son.

4. Under-react.

This might be the most important tip of all.  In my practice as a parenting coach, I have a lot of clients come to me because their kids lie or hide things from them.  They are sneaky.  Sometimes, I meet with these kids to figure out what is going on.  And you know what I have learned?  Most of the kids don't tell their parents things because parents tend to freak out!  It is not even that the kids are afraid of getting in trouble.  What they really don't want is their parents to make a big fuss over things.  This is true whether it is good news OR bad news. And let's face it, most parents over-react.

A very good friend of mine has always been extremely close to her Mom, even in the teen years.  I asked her a long time ago what it was that kept them so close during those teen years when a lot of kids are not close to their parents and she told me two things. One was that she and her Mom shared a  hobby during the teen years.  They had horses and they walked to the stables everyday to care for them.  They did not always talk but her Mom was just there (point #2) and they had something in common (point #3).  She also told me that when she did tell her Mom things, her Mom never over-reacted.  She never gasped and said "Really, oh my Gosh!"  She listened calmly and carefully.  It made telling her things much easier.

I have tried this with my own kids and it works.  They have told me things that have made me want to jump out of my skin and hit someone.  Seriously. They have told me things that have made me want to pick up the phone and call a parent or a teacher and scream and yell. But I very carefully acted nonchalantly and said, "hmmm really? Then what happened?"

Let me tell you, all kids will tell you A LOT more if you don't freak out when they do tell you stuff.  I am not saying that we should not ever show emotion or intervene. There are certainly times for that. I am just saying that we should carefully calculate our reactions.  Not everything is that big of a deal.  Listen.  Stay calm. Then go in your room and call a girlfriend and "over-react" to her.  That is what I do. Usually after I vent to a trusted friend, I realize my kids will figure out their own problems and successes. They don't need me getting all worked up. My job is to be a soft place to land.  When we over-react we actually make the situation more stressful for our kids. And they will not come back for more of that.

I know most of this advice seems counter-intuitive.  It feels funny for me, as a communication expert, to tell you not to ask your kids questions and to act non-chalant.  But the truth is teenagers are a strange beast.  And what works in other situations, doesn't always work with them.  Give these tips a try and let me know what happens.  And please don't tell my kids my secrets!

Welcome to The Nurtured Home

The Nurtured Home was an idea I had many years ago. I felt inspired to create a place where people could find information and tips about building a more nurturing home for their families. I shared the idea with a few of my close girlfriends and they all encouraged me to do it. But life got really busy and it got put on the back burner.

Over the years, God would nudge me to get this going but I always found other things to do with my time. I was nervous about starting something new and adding more to my plate. Until one day, I realized that I needed to do this.  It is what I feel called to do right now. And hopefully, I can deliver. I want to help people enrich their relationships with their families and in their homes.

I am not a perfect mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend or anything else but my passion is family relationships. I love gabbing with other Moms about being better mothers and better wives and friends.  I read everything I can get my hands on about parenting and marriage. I have a Ph.D. in marriage and family communication and I have spent my life working with others to make their families stronger.  I currently work in private practice doing marriage, parenting and life coaching in Houston, Texas. My husband and I have been married for 18 years and we have three kids: a teen, a tween and a kindergartener!  My family will always come first which is one of the reasons I hesitated to take on this endeavor.  But I realized that it would hypocritical for me to write about a nurtured home if I did not nurture mine first.  I am hoping that I can do both.

I plan to write about topics that range from cradle to college. I will write about bullying and birthday parties, test anxiety and learning disabilities, time outs and discipline.  I will write about making your marriage more meaningful and I will post recipes and ideas for family fun. I will take questions and post tips.  I don't claim to be an expert on every topic here but I will do my research and seek out the experts.  So, welcome to The Nurtured Home.  I hope you feel comfortable here.  Please let me know what topics you'd like to see on The Nurtured Home.

Me and my kiddos
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