Thursday, September 27, 2007

Interview with a Mom - Jill Savage

It is time for another giveaway! This week's mom interview is with Hearts at Home founder, Jill Savage. So, I will be giving away one copy of her newest book, My Hearts at Home! To enter the drawing, leave a comment about a tradition your family practices or the family you grew up in practices. If you live out of town or out of state, no worries, I don't mind using the US postal service. I will be drawing a winner on Saturday, October 6. Thank you for participating and enjoy the interview. (As a side note, if you don't win the book, I would encourage you find a copy. It is full of practical ideas on how to be an intential mom and make your home a haven for your family - a very good read.)

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.

My husband Mark and I have been married 24 years, however we’re self-described as being married “24 years…14 of them happily.” The first ten years of our marriage were very difficult and at one time we weren’t sure we’d make it. But God tugged at both of our hearts and through counseling and hard work we got back on track. Mark and I have 5 kids: Anne is 22 and is married to Matt McClane. They live in Zion, IL. Evan is 20 and in college. He no longer lives at home but is about 5 miles away living in a house with three other guys. Erica is 16 and a junior in high school. Kolya is 13 and in 7th grade. He’s the newest addition to our family because we adopted him from Russia at the age of 9. Austin is 11 and in the 6th grade.

Tell us about your latest book "My Hearts at Home" and what inspired you to write it?

Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to seek some professional counseling to sort out different challenges in my life. Both Mark and I feel this is a very healthy thing to do. When you meet with a counselor, one of the first things he/she says is, “So tell me about the home you grew up in.” Counselors do this because they understand the home and family you grow up in sets the foundation for the rest of your life! As I’ve come to understand this, I’ve realized that at some point my children will be adults who are building their lives upon the foundation my husband and I are laying for them now. If the emotional, spiritual, and relational stability of their life is resting on this foundation, we need to be intentional about how we build that foundation. That’s when I began to think about all the different roles that home plays in our life: Home As A Safe House, Home As A Trauma Unit, Home As A Rest Area, and Home As A Church. Then you add in other roles like Home As a Playground, A Pep Rally, A School, a Hospitality House, and more! Wow! Home plays so many roles in our family’s life. This is why we need to be intentional about what happens at home and having a plan to make home all that it can be. My Heart’s At Home is designed to cast a vision for moms to understand all the roles that home plays in her family’s life. It is also designed to give practical strategies to make home all it can be.

Why do you love being a mom?

I love watching a young life blossom before my very eyes. I love seeing God shape this little person into a young adult with unique talents and gifts and a special personality that is all theirs.

What has been the most challenging part about being a mom for you?

I’m a type A, task driven personality. I like to see things get accomplished. Mothering, especially in the early years, doesn’t often see much measurable accomplishment. However, when I changed my short term goals to one big long term goal of seeing my child grow into a loving, respectful adult, I began to see what I did each day as a step toward that goal. I really explored this perspective in my book “Professionalizing Motherhood” which is still in print.

What advice do you have for moms in the preschool years?

Enjoy these years because they will fly by faster than you think! You can’t go back and do it again.

What book (if any) are you reading right now?

A fiction novel called “All I Ever Need” by Harry Kraus, MD.

How do you keep your husband first in the midst of mothering?

Mark and I have a date day every Friday. His work week is Sunday thru Thursday so we use Friday for just the two of us. We work to intentionally make our family marriage-centered rather than child-centered. This gives our kids stability because they know that when mom and dad are ok, their world is ok!

What is your favorite lunchtime meal?

Believe it or not…peanut butter and jelly. J My kids are at school, I’m home alone during the day and I fix myself a peanut butter sandwich!

Share one good “mom tip” that you have learned over the years.

Elise Arndt, author of A Mother’s Touch, shared about boiling an onion to buy you time to figure out what is for dinner. She talked about how the aroma of something cooking tells your family that all is well, I’m cared for, and mom has dinner cooking. And it buys you time to figure out what to add to that onion for dinner!

If you had an entire day all to yourself, how would you spend it?


Do you have any parting advice for young moms?

Don’t underestimate your role as a wife and mother. It is far more important than you probably realize. Tap into the resources that Hearts at Home offers ( to keep you encouraged and equipped along the journey!

Thanks Jill for sharing your thoughts with us!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Quotes for Today

The following quote is talking about writer's block, but it was a good reminder to me to be in the present.

"I remind myself nearly every day of something that a doctor told me six months before my friend Pammy died. This was a doctor who always gave me straight answers. When I called on this one particular night, I was hoping she could put a positive slant on some distressing developments. She couldn't, but she said something that changed my life. 'Watch her carefully right now,' she said, 'because she's teaching you how to live.'

I remind myself of this when I cannot get any work done: to live as if I am dying, because the truth is we are all terminal on this bus. To live as if we are dying gives us a chance to experience some real presence. Time is so full for people who are dying in a conscious way, full in the way that life is for children. They spend big round hours. So instead of staring miserably at the computer screen trying to will my way into having a breakthrough, I say to myself, 'Okay, hmmmm, let's see. Dying tomorrow. What should I do today?' Then I can decide to read Wallace Stevens for the rest of the morning or go to the beach or just really participate in ordinary life. Any of these will begin the process of filling me back up with observations, flavors, ideas, visions, memories. I might want to write on my last day on earth, but I'd also be aware of other options that would feel at least as pressing. I would want to keep whatever I did simple, I think. And I would want to be present."

taken from Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

I want to pair that quote with a few verses I read in Colossians yesterday. The verses reminded me of a motto I used to have, "Look up Clear." I used it as a reminder to myself to keep a heavenly perspective.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Colossians 3:1-4

I think pairing the two thoughts "Live in the present" and "Set your mind on things above" make a pretty good prescription for life. I may add "live life with gratitude" to that prescription. Now, I just need to follow it!

Monday, September 10, 2007

It's All in the Attitude

In a recent artcle in the Hearts at Home Magazine, Holly Schurter lists some of the attitudes that are prevalent in our kids.

In Infancy: "It's all about me, me, me."
In Toddlerhood: "What's mine is mine. What's yours is mine too."
In Preschool: "What my mom doesn't know won't hurt her."
In Gradeschool: "My teacher knows a lot more than mom does. So do my friends."

Her article is about teenagers and how they can display all of the above attitudes. While I can't speak from personal experience about teenagers or gradeschoolers. The other three are very real to me right now. The Infancy and Toddlerhood attitudes came as no surprise - I knew to expect those and have had a lot of experience dealing with them to date. The preschool attitude she listed finally put words to the attitude I am noticing in my oldest!

Let me give an example:

Last Saturday morning our kids were up earlier than their parents wanted them to be (surprise, surprise). Being the attentive parent I am, I heard them go downstairs and heard them banging around, but didn't actually get up to check on them until I heard the eerie silence. I shuffled downstairs to find half eaten ice cream bars sitting on the table, two boys with chocolate all over their faces playing sweetly with their blocks, and one little girl trying to finish her ice cream in the kitchen.

"What are you doing?" I asked (although I didn't really need to hear an answer to know). My daughter quickly replied "I wanted to finish this before you found me!"

Allow me to share one more example with you. When asking my daughter from another room what she is doing, the answer I am starting to get more frequently is "I don't want to tell you." This is never a good thing to hear, but at least she is being honest!

It will be interesting to see how the "What my mom doesn't know won't hurt her" attitude will continue to manifest itself in the coming months. For now, I am just thankful she still thinks I'm smarter than her!