I find myself talking about hope often. Sometimes with clients, sometimes with friends and loved ones. A good friend from work asked me a great question a few days ago - what is hope? Not "what gives you hope?" (Meaning optimism) or "in what do you place our hope?" (Meaning trust) or even "for what do you hope? (Meaning desire for an outcome) but a deep look at hope itself. How do we define and understand hope?

Hope is confidence that our desire for some future good will be fulfilled, no matter how messy things get or how difficult it will be to reach that good.

The Christian has hope that he or she will be united with God in heaven. If we follow God's call in our lives faithfully, no matter how weird things get, we'll land well.

Parenting requires a healthy amount of hope. But often feels more like whiteknuckling - holding on for dear life as we cross our fingers and wish that we're not screwing up our kids too badly. But hope, in its fullest form, also needs faith. As parents we want to have hope that the good we desire for our kids is attainable, and we need faith in our decision making that the paths we travel with our children don't lead us off a cliff.

But what if I don't trust my own parenting judgment? What if I have zero confidence in my parenting in general?! What if I really am the worst parent ever?!?!!


Slow down.


If you WERE the worst parent ever, you wouldn't be so worried that you might be the worst or that you were unintentionally screwing up you kids royally.  Sure, there are things we can do differently and better (See pretty much every other blog entry on this site) but panicking that we're dreadful parents so much that we spend more time freaking out and less time making positive changes makes no sense.

Have hope.

Take a deep breath. Or three.

Know that you aren't alone. So go find someone to talk to and figure out what are the 1 or 2 things that need to change and what are the 2 or 3 things that are going well.

What are some specific ways we can increase hope?  You can think of think of a time that things went better than you expected.  You can try to identify something, even if its tiny, that made you feel proud.  You can ask someone who you trust to help you think of ways that you’ve grown as a parent or a person.  You can pray.

This week, find your reason for hope, no matter how small, and think of ways to strengthen that hope.

A Brand New Year

Happy 2018!

About now, the shine has come off our New Year’s Resolutions.  Grand plans of eating better, getting to the gym, not staying up too late watching Netflix or cruising Pintrest have fallen by the wayside.  The most successful resolution I ever made was in college when I told a friend on New Year’s Eve that I planned on eating more marzipan.  I then polished off a box of marzipan fruit while watching a Texas football game on New Year’s Day.  Mission accomplished!

Most of our resolutions never stick.  We try to change too many things at once (This year, I’m going to learn Spanish, and read a new book every two weeks, and organize the garage, and participate in a Bible study, and…) or try to make too large of a change (I’ve never really tried running, but this year, I’m going to qualify for the Boston Marathon!).  Or we don’t have a solid plan or structure in place to sustain the changes we want to make.  One of the biggest challenges is motivation.  What are we hoping to achieve from making a change?  Are we working toward something positive or are we trying to avoid something negative? 

Avoiding a negative is a much harder motivation to maintain.  For example, let’s say (hypothetically) that I need to lose 20 lbs because my doctor says I’m carrying too much weight and my knees may start giving me trouble and my pants don’t fit quite right.  I could take up jogging.  Or I can buy new pants.  There’s no positive motivation for me to make a change, just reducing the chance of a bad thing happening.  But if losing 20 lbs helps give me more energy so I can play longer with my kids, or helps me feel less tired at night so I can spend a little more time with my wife rather than pass out, then that’s a clear positive for me to work toward.

So what do I want to achieve this year?  Since I’m fresh out of marzipan, I want to work on being more present to my wife and the ducklings.  I need to answer a few questions in making this a success.

1)       Why am I doing this? (What is the good I’m trying to pursue?)

2)       How will I get there?  (What changes or actions need to take place?)

3)       What will my response be the first time I fail? (How will I keep my motivation?)

This week, think about what you want to achieve this year and create a plan on how to make that a reality.