The Power of Words and Mindfulness in Parenting

I wanted to share a session on the power of words and mindfulness in parenting.  This session created by Dr. Lemite, School Psychologist and Dr. Anna Hebb, School Social Worker can be adapted to your needs. You could change the SOL life activity to a different stress-causing event in the home or school. Be creative! You can also use some of the resources shared in this post for clinical practice, classroom, or personal use.

Today we will role play three scenarios.  We have created scenes that may seem over the top only to help us understand the importance of our words.  As you watch the role plays between mom and child, ask yourself what really matters most to the mom or the child?

Exuberant Mom Role Play

Passing score on SOL

Kim (child)– Mom I passed my SOL

Anna (mom): With Pom Poms and dancing  Oh Kim!  You are brilliant, smart, beautiful and amazing!!!  You passed!  Let’s call your aunt Dee and celebrate on facetime.  Ad lib…(GO OUT EAT, ETC…) I told you she was going to be a doctor!

Kim (child)- shy away- lowers head and walks away because mom is not connecting with her

What message is this mom sending? How did the child respond?

Critical Mom Role Play

Failing score on SOL

MOM (Kim) – SOL’s were today….  How did you do! (expecting positive)

Child (Anna)-  ummmmmmmmmmmmmmm were they today? Did I leave my skateboard outside?  I’m hungry.  Do you have any snacks?

Mom (Kim)  “Anna”…. I’m talking to you …. Did you take your test today?

Child (Anna)– Puts  head down –mumbles, “yes”. Starts to whimper a little–I failed.

Mom (Kim) you did ?!?…..what happened Anna….you know you needed to focus on that test

You told me you studied!…..Did you read your notes before the test?  (BIG SIGH- SMH- throw my hands up).

Child (Anna)– I’m so sorry. I really tried hard mom. I’ll do better next time.

Mom (Kim) — I know you did. (say in a negative way)

What message is this mom sending? How did the child respond?

What were your experiences in school around testing and doing well, or failure as a child? We can change patterns or cycles passed on.  We can be different as parents.

The point is to get us in a place we can have a more mindful conversation during these critical times.  

Mindful Scenario

A mindful conversation would exist in either scenario of pass or fail, and why is that? It’s helping the child to develop a growth mindset. Growth mindset takes into account struggle, failure, and the importance of time.  We are helping our children develop healthy coping skills because we know life is not all good and we struggle with weaknesses, and that’s okay.

Mom (Kim)— Hey Anna. how did it go today?

Child (Anna)- Mom, you are not going to believe this but I failed by 3 points.  I feel awful.  I’m so stupid.

Mom (Kim)– Oh Anna, I know that you feel disappointed.  What do you think happened?

Child:  I don’t know mom.  Maybe I should have studied more? Are you disappointed in me?

Mom- (Kim)  I want to see you pass, Anna, but sometimes we don,t get what we want.  I still love you and I know you are a hard worker.  What can we do next?

Child: The social studies SOL is next week, can you help me study?

Mom: (Kim)  of course!

Child:  I love you, mom!  HUG EACH OTHER

Mom: Hey you want to help me set the table?

Child:  YEAH!  What’s for dinner?

Mom: Pizza!

What really matters most? What we communicate through words and body language will shape the child’s self-image. How can we help our children enjoy the experience and have a growth mindset?

Video of the skits by Phillip Brooks, Music Teacher of Hopkins Elementary

Set-up and Agenda for Muffins for Mom 

Moms were invited with their children before school to hear information on how to prepare for the SOLs. The children served their mothers muffins and juice.  Angela Valentine coordinated the event and gave an introduction. We then had a teacher report information on the SOLs and how to prepare from the teacher’s perspective.  We then moved into the power of words and mindfulness parenting.  In the end, we had a teacher talk about Wilma Rudolph while showing the pictures in the book, and showing a quick YouTube video of Wilma running and winning the Gold Medal. The video is below; click the link.


Mindfulness Activity

Briefly, Mindfulness research has been shown to promote the ability to feel in control, make meaningful relationships, be calm, and accept the experience without denying the facts. Let’s try an exercise that will help us focus on our breathing.  First, let’s use the Stress O Meter to gauge your stress level this morning

You can guide the audience, or use one of the many breathing exercises on Youtube.

Repeat the Stress Level measure

Hopefully, we are feeling more relaxed.

Review other techniques on the handout included below.

handout of mindfulness strategies (1)

Review Relaxation apps, especially Pacifica website.

Relaxation apps

Leave them with this quote to take home.  We laminated the quote and added a space for them to write with a sharpie their affirmation.

Be very happy when you are tested in different ways. You know that such testing produces endurance. Then you will be mature and complete…

My affirmation:

Love is NOT all you need (Sorry Beatles)

Yesterday we talked about clinging to what is good.  This morning through a series of readings in my devotional time and a text from my oldest daughter to watch a video on Millenials, I’m bursting to share. I’ve been married for almost 28 years come this February 4. When we said our vows in our 20s, I really don’t think we had a clue how words like to cherish, to honor, in good times and bad, sickness and in health, and for better or for worse would play out in our years to come.  We were in love, and “love is all you need”, according to The Beatles.

I was reminded of how habits form when my husband and I tackled taking down the Christmas tree and decorations for the season.  After almost 27 years, you would think we would be more considerate. It’s not a knock-down drag out fight, but we have our ways– a comment here, a jab there, selective hearing, and eye rolling commences.  It’s so ridiculous, and we end up laughing at each other and promise that in the years to come we will be different.

Our brains are wired for habit forming.  Most habits are good. If you desire to become an accomplished pianist, the daily habit of practicing creates an expert. A growth mindset has become the new area of focus in education and psychology. We have put into words what we know through experience–old habits die hard, and new habits take concentrated practice. Patience.


Most of us want what Gary Thomas calls a “watch marriage”. I want to put you on my arm as needed, and when I look at you on my wrist, I want you to fulfill the purpose or role. If you don’t, I’m frustrated or angry. I can quickly put you on the nightstand and walk away. Too harsh? Maybe.  There is some validity to the metaphor.  Love is great, but do we truly cherish our spouse?

Husbands and wives often treat each other according to whatever roles they expect from each other. “Just do what you’re supposed to do and try to look reasonably attractive while you’re doing it, and everything will be fine.” Gary Thomas

Cherish means to hold something dear and to delight in them. We can love out of obligation and duty, but do you cherish each other? If you are single, think of these words. Our culture supports the practice of going to school, finding a career, dating, getting married, having children, and buying the house.  You can be so tied up in the practice you are blindsided by the commitment you are truly making to the person standing next to you speaking vows.  To cherish someone and to build a meaningful marriage takes time, sacrifice, and something deeper than the giddy feeling when you hold hands.

My oldest daughter sent me this video talk on Millenials. I believe it’s spot on, but even at 50 something, because I use technology at a high level, I’m guilty. You must watch this–

God knew we would be a people of instant gratification. Jesus told us that if you want growth or fruit you must

hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance. — Luke 8:15 NRSV

There is that word again with another word added to it…..

patient endurance…..


Maybe it would help if you understood that God delights in you–He cherishes you.  We all know God has to love us even when we mess up, but have you ever pictured God cherishing you? He has your picture on his refrigerator and calls you up just to say, “Hey– I miss you.  Let’s do lunch.”  He wants to spend time with you no matter how good you’ve played out your role that day. He adores you.

For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”  Zephaniah 3:17

Talk about patient endurance. Thank you, Jesus.

Here is a love dare for you.

  • Examine your responses and actions to your spouse and ask if you cherish them.  If you are single, ask the same question about those who are closest to you in your life right now. How do you express this commitment to cherish?
  • What is one action you can take to change an old habit? Your brain can change, but it takes patient endurance.
  • Spend time with the One who perfectly cherishes you.
  • Take a hiatus from technology, and dare yourself to delete some social apps.

For the creative spirit:

  • Download the app Flipagram. Create a video with pictures of you, your spouse, and some of the blessings from your marriage. Choose a song that represents your love for the background music.  You will have to download the song to your music library and select the song once you are done with uploading pictures. If you do this, CONSIDER SHARING WITH ME!  I’D LOVE TO CELEBRATE YOUR LOVE WITH YOU!

Here is my Flipagram of Parish and me–ENJOY! Each picture has a special memory that we cherish…..

  • Write a poem, letter, or create a picture collage.
  • Understand Growth Mindset by reading this fabulous article that also gives you a fun challenge. (click on the words “this fabulous article”)
  • Read this post together and talk it out.
  • Buy Gary Thomas’ book and be committed to doing the Bible study together as a couple:

The Art of Cherishing Your Spouse (GREAT video in this article about the book Cherish, by Gary Thomas)

Gary Thomas


Self-esteem is defined as “confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; self-respect.”  The difficulty with self-esteem is who or what deems you worthy? If we try something with great confidence but “fail” in the eyes of our family, boss, or self, we begin to judge ourselves to only be good or bad. Today, I’m good because I nailed the pitch.  Today, I am bad because I lost the account.  Self-esteem also becomes tricky because, with some groups of people, you may be a success, and, with other groups of people, not so much–they dismiss you. What group do you listen to?

With self-esteem, self-importance, self anything, you place yourself center stage and await the applause, the silence, or worse–the rotten tomatoes and boos.

Anna Hebb, November 13, 2016


In this desperate pursuit to feel confident and win favor, we have become a society with dangerous coping strategies. We are taught and teach our children strategies that “puff ourselves up”, compare ourselves to others, and put down those we feel are competing against us. The harsh reality of that last sentence is sobering. At times, it’s evident, and other times, the coping strategy is subtle or encouraged in a positive way.

If you look on the book shelf, you will find several books on Narcissism. We typically use that term to define an extremely self-absorbed person who can’t seem to look outside himself to understand the needs of others. It’s all about them.  What is so interesting is that the very movement of self-esteem in our home and schools that we thought was such a powerful tool to increase success and self-worth in our children has caused poor coping strategies that have led to narcissistic tendencies. These tendencies have been rooted in bullying, excessive gossip, prejudices, depression, and negative self-worth. I’m never good enough. Dr. Kristin Neff has studied this trend.

After a personal battle of the mind with negative thoughts, I wondered if anyone else in the world was struggling, too.  In my research, I stumbled across Dr. Neff and a few other women who had similar concerns with self-worth.  What I found to be comforting and a paradigm shift is the term self-compassion.

Through Dr. Neff’s research, she discovered three core components to self-compassion.

  1. Relating to yourself kindly regardless of flaws and failures. Speak kindly to yourself.
  2. Common humanity. How am I the same as those around me and in my world? We are ALL imperfect.
  3. Mindfulness. Be okay with suffering and struggle, acknowledge it, and speak kind to yourself.

When we feel threatened we release cortisol and adrenaline. God gave us this so we can protect ourselves in a threatening situation. We will either fight or flee. When we constantly feel threatened by low self-worth, we are not only the attacker but also the attacked. Years of this will cause significant mental health concerns and poor health.

Imagine your child in a dilemma of failure or struggle. They come to you for help. Do you say to them, “What a loser! You should have known better! You’ll never amount to anything!” However, we often make these comments to ourselves after an epic fail, or we may blame others (putting someone else down). God not only gave us cortisol and adrenaline, but He also gave us oxytocin and opiates. These are released in us when we are approached with warmth, gentle touch, and soft vocalizations. What calms the crying baby? Remember wrapping your baby up in a warm blanket, kissing her face, and rocking her to sleep with a lullaby? Perhaps, more recently, it’s the calmness you feel when a loved one, or a spouse takes your hand and speaks gentle words to you.


“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.” Hosea 2:14

The misnomer about negative self-talk is that it produces motivation. Maybe in the short-run you’ll pick yourself up and try harder, but when you spend years with this pattern, you begin to add the events up and become hopeless. The opposite is true. When you connect with God and His love for you and have self-compassion, you will be more motivated toward creativity and change.  You will also create space for mercy and kindness towards others who are not very nice to you.

Therapist have found two extremes. Clients may struggle with a low self-worth, or, in some cases, feelings of guilt, because they are experiencing thoughts of superiority.

The center-stage self needs to take her final bow and exit stage left, please.

Once you exit, imagine yourself not as others define you, or how you’ve defined yourself based on how you think others define you. It’s you, your God-given soul, and the woman or man God is growing in you from glory-to-glory, or piece by piece. You could be in the midst of a mountain top experience, or in the valley of the shadow of death–your Shepherd is right there. My goodness, maybe you are in the mundane of the day-to-day.  Live right there, in that moment, forget self, and cling to God.


Reflect on a time that God has given you immense opportunity to bask in creativity or love. These times are like the moments you lose track of time and all you experience is the moment. We have these incredible moments during a creative activity, yoga, rock climbing, intimacy, prayer, worship, etc.

We are purposeful and mindful.

I recently created a video which brought home the “how”.  The video was a reflection of events that brought great focus on love, peace, connection, and purpose but also the known backdrop of our reality–the situations each of us were dealing with as humans–“we are all imperfect”.

God gives us a symphony in life. His masterful hand is creating, fine-tuning, and providing a cacophonous symphony of promise and redemption.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

If you take the time to watch my video, please listen to the song–the words reflect my purposeful intentions. Our family is imperfectly living together. We are just like you in that our life is filled with ups and downs, blessings, stress, habits, struggles, and disappointments. My favorite is my husband humorously waving the peace sign during a dinner date, in which, we were both struggling in a decision from God to make life-changes. The struggle; the symphony. Peace. I am worthy. You are worthy. Live NOW.

Natalie Grant, “Symphonies”  Album is Be One


As a little girl growing up in a rural area, the dump was a place you visited often. This sounds so strange, but I loved riding with my dad to the dump. As an adult, that’s the last errand on my list of favorites. Perhaps it was the time in the car with my dad, or the unbelievable process of getting rid of “stuff”.  I can conjure up the smell and the visual. I felt a sense of pride of helping my dad and doing something other than house chores like dishes and dusting. One particular visit I saw a toy. Oh my goodness, Toy Story 3, the movie, just popped in my mind.


How could a toy be at the dump? Trash, refrigerators, and lawnmowers, well, okay, but not a toy! I asked my father if I could take it home. I still remember his look of astonishment and concern. I had to rescue that toy, and I would not take no for an answer.  He humbly asked the man, who worked the area, if I could have the toy. Equally confused and with a knowing, father smile, he gave dad the two thumbs up of approval.  I rescued this toy.


Recently, in a training for work, the process of taking out the trash was applied to our emotional well being.

Emotional trash does not need to be reexamined and reexamined. In the course of living, we collect emotional trash. It just needs to be cleared-much like you take out the garbage in your home. You don’t go through it again and again. You just put it in the trash and throw it away. Dr. Ruby Payne

I thought about how many times I sort through the trash. A memory appears in your mind, a situation occurs, and you thought you moved on or healed, but there you are at the dump rescuing something–rummaging. It’s colorful and sentimental; yet, as you rummage, you start to realize this stinks.

As a therapist, I believe in the power of voice and sharing your story in a safe place. In the telling, processing, and re-framing you heal piece by piece. Emotional trash is what happens when we stay too lung at the dump, or allow the enemy to keep us in a cycle of throwing out, going back, throwing out, and going back.  If you are in this pattern, it’s time to stop going to the trash and rummaging.

Instead of going to the dump, go to the Deliverer.

God is really okay with your hurt, pain, anger, or resentment.  Don’t you dare go to that trash can or dump and start digging up dirt.  I don’t care how colorful and sentimental it is, go to God and His perfect love.  Instead of filth, He offers to clean you in mercy and loving-kindness. He loves you right where you are.  You see, the garbage has things like rotten messages of “This is where you belong”; “You will never heal from this”; “You are different and alone”; “You don’t belong”; “You thought you were strong, but here you are again. I told you so”.

Here’s the hard part. People around you are not God. You are not God. I’m stating the obvious, but do you realize how much power we give others to measure how good, well, or righteous we are? Also, we can expect too much of ourselves and others in the healing process. People and self will never have the capacity to restore and redeem you–that’s God’s job alone. He uses people, but God is the perfect healer.  He created you.  I think He knows what to do.

Rest there. Perfect rest.

‘I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.’ Phil. 4:11  God is in control. When a job is terminated, a mate quits, a friend deserts, God is quietly but sovereignly at work for your good.  Rest in His ability, and contentment will follow. Charles Stanley

What state are you in? My girls laugh at me when I refer to the infamous, “Crazytown USA”. That’s a state of mind for me at times, or the way I describe a happening–“That’s Crazytown USA!”  Regardless of your state of mind or happening, you are right where God wants you to be. All He asks is for you to not head to the trash and start rummaging. He is all sufficient, and He is enough. I dare you to consider the “right now” as known by God and a perfect place to be. That’s easy if you are on vacation in the tropics, but more challenging in a difficult marriage, a severed relationship, or a loss. God’s aware of how hard that is. He just asks for you to come to Him and to consider it, and piece by piece, day by day, and, sometimes, moment by moment, He will change you from glory to glory.  Just do the next, right thing, and He will lead you home. And if the word right just messed with your mind, that’s okay,too. God knows that doing the right thing all the time is impossible this side of heaven. His servant, Paul, talked about how hard he tried not to do something bad, and, by golly, he still did it.  His mercies are new every morning. Each new day brings an opportunity for you to draw closer to your Creator, heal, and do the work.

Clean by Natalie Grant video with words.  Please listen and worship.  There is nothing too dirty that He can’t make worthy!  Great artist!  Her new  album Be One is a great download!

Nana’s Coconut Cake

This recipe is from our Nana Reardon passed down to the generations and new brides setting up their favorite recipes for their kitchen.



One box of your favorite Vanilla Cake Batter Mix, or you can make your favorite cake mix from scratch

Coco Lopez Cream of Coconut (1 -2 cans) depending how sweet you want it


Frozen tub of whipped cream thawed


Enough sweetened coconut to cover the top (approximately a bag)


Make your cake in a sheet cake fashion and let it cool

Poke holes all through the cake on the top

Pour your mixed Coco Lopez all on the top so it soaks into the holes

Cover top with the whipped cream

Sprinkle with coconut

I usually let it cool, but start the process when it’s slightly warm so the Coco Lopez can melt a little into the cake.  You can also heat the Coco Lopez if it’s “lumpy” prior to pouring.  You can sprinkle a little bit of coconut on top, or pour it on.  You decide!

This recipe will make your home smell delicious and tasting along the way is divine!

Refrigerate.  In fact, it tastes better the next day after coconut has had time to settle. We also like to eat the cake after the baking process –slightly warm.  You can’t go wrong with this recipe.

We miss you Nana.  Your love for cooking, family, and Jesus lives on in us!




Are You Ready to Chase Lions?

Several years ago my husband and I led a Bible study with the college aged folks. The book was by Mark Batterson and it was called “In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day”.  Great book. I enjoy my Bible App which offers 7 day reading plans emphasizing certain book studies or themes. I started a new one today called Chase the Lion by Mark Batterson, which is based on his book he wrote many years ago.  This is a good way to see if you would like to read the actual Bible study.

Picture a warrior dude in the snow, traveling to his destination, when a lion appears. The lion decides not to pursue, but runs. Most of us would be like “Whew, thank God I was rescued from that scary, life-threatening situation!” And, to be honest, some of us would change our minds on the journey–re think the present situation, and see it as a sign of some sort to abandon the journey.  This is too hard and too dangerous, I’m done.  Not this warrior named Benaiah.

Benaiah chases the lion into a pit on a slippery, snowy day and lets him know who is in control of his destiny–his journey.  This man of God knew that once you spot a lion it’s only a matter of time that he sneaks up on you again, maybe with more lion friends, and you’ve become dinner.  Benaiah knew to stop and take care of business.  No messing around.  He may come out with more battle scars and loss of limb, but no enemy was going to stalk and scare him.

“In every dream journey, there comes a moment when you have to quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. You have to go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. You have to go big or go home.  You have to take the road less traveled or settle for status quo.  You have to bite the bullet or turn your back on your dreams…….You can run away from what you are afraid of, but you’ll be running the rest of your life. Or you can face your fears, taking a flying leap of faith, and chase the lion!” (Mark Batterson, Chase The Lion Devotional App, Day 1)

Yesterday my 12 year old was reading her new devotional book for Woman of Worth Mentoring Ministries.  She paused and asked, “Mom what is divine intervention?” I find it as no coincidence that her question is found in my Bible study this morning.  As I explained to my 12 year old the difference between man’s doing and God’s miracles, I was encouraged and prayerful. I need divine intervention.

In my prayer garden this morning, I closed my eyes and imagined myself chasing a lion, but the lion was not an animal, it was my collections of fears and worries.  I can be busy enough to ignore or keep them at bay, but do I have the courage to flip the script and destroy them? Battle them in the pit.  Do I have the courage to believe that God’s plan for my life will unfold despite the reality I see in front of me. Can I chase the lion seeking to devour my children, family, and home and stand strong against the enemy.  You will not have my life in any area. You are done! Get out in Jesus’ name!

Wherever you are reading this post, I pray this over your home.  War Room is a great movie to change your prayer life and teach you how to chase lions.  Priscilla’s book FerVent is a must read for your prayer time.

A Dentist Appointment and Their First Date!

How they met! by Tom Lloyd


 I had to post my dad’s comment:

Wow ! How did Louise and I Meet?I went to the dentist, and I saw the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. I didn’t have the courage to call her, so I called the dentist and asked him to talk to her about going out with me. I then called her and we had our first date.I remember going to the door to meet her, and then I jumped into my car and saw her standing in front of the car.I wanted to change the fact that I did not open the door for her, but she graciously open the door and got in.
We had a good evening, and I knew I had fallen in love with her the first time I saw her in the dentist office. She placed a bib around my neck and I looked into…

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