All posts in Work Love Pray

Working Mom’s Devotional: I Can Do It Myself God!

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I walked into the house with a load of groceries in one hand and a pizza in the other.  It was too much for one person to carry, but that never stops me. 

I can do it myself.  I don’t need anyone’s help. 

I should have slowed down.  Asked my kids to help carry the groceries.   Even taken two trips to the car. 

But I didn’t. Instead, I decided to carry a too-heavy load.  So I proceeded to lose my balance, spill the groceries, and drop the pizza.   In a matter of five seconds I had lost both my dinner and my sanity. 

Like most working moms, I have an overflowing plate.  Admittedly, I am trying to carry too much alone.  Spilling the groceries is only a small picture of what’s really going on in my life.  I like to pretend that I have things under control, but I really don’t.   There are so many balls in the air on a given day that I can’t possibly keep them all afloat.   The question isn’t if a ball will drop, the question is which ball will drop. 

Being self-reliant is one thing.  Being stubborn is another.  Yet this self-reliance is often learned by necessity.  As women, we feel like we must do it ourselves.

In talking with a good friend this week, she commented on the “lack of community” in our generation.

“Most of us don’t live close to family.  We don’t know our neighbors.  We don’t have time to be involved in our churches.  So we go through life and do it ourselves, because we don’t know any other way.”

The result?

Too many working moms are isolated, stressed out, and downright overwhelmed.  Is this really what God intended?

Of course not.

The Apostle Paul tells us:  “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.”  (Galatians 6:2)

There is no substitute for human contact.  We need to make time for each other and invest in our neighborhoods and churches.  But I also believe there is a role for online community.  Why wouldn’t God want us to use technology to come together?  Why shouldn’t we encourage each other to unite —  not to do it alone — right here and right now?

In the coming months, we’ll be sharing the stories of some of the amazing women who read this blog.   My prayer is that we can love and support each other in a growing, online community while encouraging one another to take steps forward in our homes and churches.  If you’re feeling alone, take heart.  We are in this together.  And you weren’t meant to carry all the groceries. 

Do you try to carry too much alone?  Is your current load too heavy?

God, I confess that I am trying to do it all myself.  I have dropped too many balls in mid-air and I need your help.  I also need the help of my family, community, and church.  I often feel alone and disconnected, and I desperately need to connect.  Please open new doors and show me how I can encourage others around me and embrace community. 

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In Work, Love, Pray, executive Diane Paddison and founder of 4word, encourages professional women to embrace community.  For additional support, check out 4word’s online resources.

Professional Women: Are You (Too) Busy Trying To Look Good?

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Do you get exhausted trying to “look” good?  For most working moms, it’s another full-time job dying our hair, maintaining daily hygiene, and fighting off wrinkles. 

Let’s face it, women continue to be judged on the way we look.  And professional women are constantly judged on how we present.  The more competent we look, the greater confidence in our abilities.  

We don’t have to like it.  It’s just the way it is.   

I used to think it was vain for middle-aged women to dye their hair, obsess over their nails, and get Botox.

Then I turned 40.   I’ve never been one to get my nails done, but my young daughters have been nagging me.  So on my last birthday, they “treated” me to a manicure and gel nails that look quite amazing. 

At first, I didn’t think it was a big deal. 

Then, a client noticed my nails.  “You’re nails look great, Susan!” 

A couple other professional women mentioned to me – unsolicited —  that they can tell a woman “has her act together” by the way her nails look.

That’s all it took.

I went back a second month to get my nails done.  Never mind the time.  Never mind the cost.

Now that the summer schedule has sucked every spare moment out of my salon time, my nails again look terrible.  But that doesn’t mean I won’t get back on the wagon soon.  Yes, I have a God who looks at my heart, but everyone else seems to notice my nails!

How do you deal with the pressure to “look good”?    Is it vain or “unspiritual” to invest our precious time in outward appearances?

“The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

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Looking for summer reading?  Work, Love, Pray (by executive Diane Paddison), Working Women of the Bible, and Chasing Superwoman are still selling as a bundle on Amazon!

How To Raise Ungrateful Kids

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Most of us want to raise grateful children.  I’m convinced this desire is universal among my generation of parents.  We don’t want to raise kids with an entitlement mentality.  We want to teach them the value of sacrifice and hard work.  We don’t want out kids to be spoiled or ungrateful. 

It’s a constant struggle that none of us has perfected.

We scramble to limit TV intake and material consumption.  We try to teach our children about those less fortunate.  We say things like, “When I was your age, we never went out to restaurants.  And I always had to clean my plate!”

Yet I am convinced we’re missing a simple part of the equation.  A piece well within our control.

Grateful Parents = Grateful Children

Of course, there are exceptions to this rule.  But too often we blame society – including media, technology, and peers – and we fail to look in the mirror.  We fail to see that our own dissatisfaction models a culture of discontent among our children.  We fail to see that the reverse equation is likewise true.

Ungrateful Parents = Ungrateful Children

Let’s face it, kids are smart.  Show me an ungrateful parent, and I will show you an ungrateful child.

In Powered By Happy, Executive Beth Thomas argues that grateful employees receive more promotions and greater opportunities at work.  And she also encourages us to model this gratitude at home.  For example, she encourages us to include gratitude in our daily rituals – like going around the dinner table and saying one thing we are grateful for each day.

There are some people in this world who choose gratitude over and over again.  My mother is one of these people, and I’m convinced her example is likely the primary reason I have a positive outlook on life.  As I prepare for Mother’s Day, I am especially thankful that my mother is a woman of gratitude.

I want to be this same example for my children.   Don’t you?

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Getting ready for Mother’s Day? Only 6 days to go.   Terry Morgan encourages us to write a tribute to our mothers.

Work, Love, Pray (by executive Diane Paddison), Working Women of the Bible, and Chasing Superwoman are still selling as a bundle on Amazon!

Working Moms: Are Friendships Worth The Time And Effort?

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Most working moms don’t have enough time with our own families.  Between working all day and barely keeping our homes in order, who has time to invest in friendship?  For many of us, time with friends is a pure luxury.

Yet I’ve come to realize that meaningful friendships aren’t just a luxury, they are a necessity.   The key is investing in the right relationships.  “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)

In Powered By Happy, author and executive Beth Thomas encourages us to “Hang With a Gang That Get’s It.” (Chapter 4)  In other words, spend time with people who build you up.   Friendships are worth the effort, but we must invest wisely.

1- Avoid Negative Circles and Gossip Sessions

A reader recently explained to me why she no longer attends bible study.  As a new mom with little time on her hands, she decided that “group prayer” was really nothing more than a “gossip session.”   Not only did she decide the study was a waste of time, the negativity actually started to bring her down. 

Have you ever noticed how exhausting it can be to spend time with people who constantly complain?  While a little venting is healthy, it can be draining to spend dinner with a friend who complains about her boss the entire evening or can’t seem to move the conversation off of her ex-husband. 

I am not suggesting that we only spend time with people who have it all together.  I am suggesting that we spend time with people who are more interested in the solution than the problem.   Let’s face it, negative people – and positive people — are contagious.

2-Develop A Personal Board of Directors

Thomas likewise encourages us to develop a group of mentors – or, as she calls is,  a “personal board of directors.”

Who are the women and men you trust most to give you advice and counsel?  Who are the professionals you most want to emulate?

Over the last year, I have been intentional about spending time with a core group of mentors.  Specifically, I try to have coffee or lunch with a woman I admire at least once a week. I’m not talking about women who lead storybook lives of “happiness.”  These are real women who struggle with the tough issues – like career disappointment, broken relationships, and serious illness.  Yet all of these women are rock star mentors because of their faith in God and positive attitudes.

What does a “personal board of directors” look like?  I personally think it should be a diverse group  –  in terms of age, family status, and career path. (I also believe that women benefit from male mentors.)

 A couple of years ago, I approached a neighbor who has three amazing, grown children who love God and each other.  Even though our career paths are completely different, I asked her,

“Would you mentor me?  You obviously did something right with your children.” 

She was both flattered and humbled.

3-Seek To Be a Mentor

Likewise, we should look for opportunities to invest in others.  A little over a year ago, a brand-new lawyer named Acacia sought me out as a mentor. 

My response?  

Here’s what I thought:  I am a wholly inadequate mentor because I haven’t figured it out.  I don’t want anyone to emulate me.  I don’t have time.  Yet I do have the desire and passion.

Here’s what I said:  “I have no time.  I am completely overcommitted.  You will often have to email me three times before I respond.  But never take my non-responsiveness as disinterest.  I’d love to meet with you on a regular basis.”

So we started meeting.  And praying.  Believing that God had brought us together for a reason.

Acacia is now a dear friend and a true mentor to me!  I’m so glad I didn’t put this relationship on hold or wait for mentoring to become convenient.  Together, we are blessed to co-chair The Gathering of Women – a sold-out event of some 200 women who will meet this Friday.  One of our goals is to connect professional women of faith who need mentors!

It’s easy to dismiss relationships during this busy season of life. (And if you’re in the middle of nursing and diapers, you must give yourself time and grace.)  Yet investing in the right relationships can give us strength and encouragement, as well as the community we desperately need.  

Are you too busy to invest in meaningful friendships?  Have you considered gathering your own “personal board of directors” or serving as a mentor to someone else? 

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Looking for additional mentors?   Be sure to check out these authors I know and admire:

Work, Love, Pray: Practical Wisdom for Young Professional Christian Women and Those Who Want to Understand Them, by Diane Paddison (2011) (Recently trending as a top book on Women & Business)

The Christian Mama’s Guide to the Grade School Years: Everything You Need to Know to Survive (and Love) Sending Your Kid Off into the Big Wide World (Christian Mama’s Guide Series), by Erin MacPherson (Just released with my endorsement!)

And in Working Women of the Bible, we discuss 13 incredible, timeless mentors!

Working Moms: Here’s How Diane Paddison Does It!

Diane Paddison is what you call a power mom!  She’s the founder of 4word, author of Work, Love, Pray, C-level executive, director, volunteer, wife, mother of four, and child of God.  And she took time out of her busy schedule to share her story with me last week!  Here’s our interview together.

Tell us about all of the “hats” you are currently wearing.  

As I think about my life, I am first focused on being a woman of God.  In addition to being a wife and mother, I feel like being a daughter has been a bigger part of my life these past five months.  After my mother passed away in July, so much of my focus has been on my dad and helping him with his finances as well as our family business.  Those of you with aging parents can certainly relate.

I previously served in COO roles in two Fortunate 500 companies. I left that 24/7 work world in 2009 and founded 4word, a non-profit designed to support and equip working Christian women. I now spend about 50% of my time with 4word, given its recent growth. Even though I transitioned to a not-for-profit in 2009, it has been important for me to stay in the for-profit world, currently as Cassidy Turley’s Chief Strategy Officer.  I also serve as independent director for three for-profit companies and four not-for-profit boards.

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