Coming up with an Idea

LIke I said yesterday -I’m super excited about this week! If you did all three weeks of assignments, YAY YOU!

I’m proud of you for priming the pump yesterday. Did you get all sorts of things on paper? Are you ready to come up with an idea for an article?

How do you come up with an idea for an article? 

The best way to come up with an idea for an article is to find something you struggle with yourself. Your topic can be something you have overcome (even if you have setbacks) or something you want to overcome publicly, such as a health challenge. If you think all the people who write about time management never struggled with it themselves, you’re wrong. Most people write, teach, or speak about struggles they have overcome, not practices they have always been perfectly performing. So, if you are thinking, I can’t write about anything because I have too many problems. Problems are the inception of overcoming. If you have nothing to overcome, you can’t be an overcomer. 

Here’s one way to find a topic:

Look through your journal. Find something you have written about a lot. One reoccurring theme in my journal when I had seven kiddos at home was my rising early for morning prayer time. I wrote about it a lot. I prayed about it a lot. I wrote down scriptures. It became a huge “overcoming” project. 

Do I get up early now? Yes, I usually get up at 5 am to pray, study the Bible and then write. Do I do it perfectly well every day? Nope. Do I do it well most of the time? Yep. Was it a struggle for me. Totally. I cried big hot tears on the days I missed my Bible and prayer time. It was a need for me that I had the power to meet and didn’t many times. Would I consider myself an overcomer in this area? Yes! Did I do it myself? No, way. I am only able to do what I do because I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency.

What’s one thing you have struggled with?

Find something in your journal or think about something you have talked about to your friends a lot. It doesn’t have to be theologically deep. Maybe it’s like (one of my examples) making breakfast, or giving up drinking soda, or doing something fun with your family once a week. Ruth Soukup calls this your “felt need.” Guess what, if you feel it, then someone else out there does too!

Once you narrow down what felt need you’re going to explore in your blog post, then it’s time to give practical, and easy to follow, advice addressing and hopefully solving that need. If your post gets them closer to their desired result, then they will remember you forever as an expert of the topic at hand. The thing is, learning something is what drives people to read blog posts in the first place, so why not entertain but also educate your readers at the same time. Doling out easy-to-follow, practical advice, that addresses your readers felt need is just one element each post needs to incorporate.

Ruth Soukup

Is your brain working now? Has an idea popped into your head?  Once you have something in your head, write it down. Write down all the thoughts you have about it whether it flows or makes sense or not. Do a complete brain dump! 

Using Your Journal to Plot out an Article or a Book

I’m super excited about this week! If you did all three weeks of assignments, YAY YOU!

I’m proud of you! Last week was pretty brutal, especially if you have never faced your past before. This week is more fun. In fact, this week can be about using your past to help others (if you are ready to).

Journaling is a gateway to writing articles and books.

When I was struggling with my kids melting down during the Advent season, my struggles converted to journal writing, then a series on our website, and finally, an Advent book – 25 Days of Thriving Through Christmas. Did it happen overnight? Nope. Did I have it accomplished in a day? Nope.

Stop right here and capture your thought. Are you thinking I could never do that! Or I don’t have anything to say! Or that’s just too much work and I don’t have time. Imagine those thoughts are locked in a room. You don’t have to listen to them. You can replace them. They are not your friends. They are your enemies. They come from fear and God hasn’t given you a spirit of fear. He has given you a disciplined mind. Say that right now – I have a disciplined mind. I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency. I can do what He has called me to do.

What do Thoughts Have to Do with It?

Wait. Why are we talking about thoughts? I thought this was about writing an article or a book. It is. Guess what. Every idea starts in your mind. Then what happens is the cares of this world, negative self-talk, or fear takes over (and we let it, raising my hand here). In order to write, we have to overcome in our mind first, we have to tear down strongholds. We have to hold one another accountable. That’s why I’m writing this! We need each other. 

If I can do it, so can you. That’s not, “I did it na, na, na (sticks out tongue).” That’s if God can help me write, He will help you too. I’ve had so many people tell me they want to write a book, start a blog, host a group on social media to encourage others then the reasons, the excuses they can’t do it. 

Right now, take those thoughts and kick them out. If you have ever wanted to do any of the above, then this week is for you. It’s only a short snippet of what you need to know, but it’s a beginning and every good story needs a beginning. Consider this week your inciting incident. 

The inciting incident is an episode, plot point or event that hooks the reader into the story. This particular moment is when an event thrusts the protagonist into the main action of the story. Screenwriting guru Syd Field describes it as ‘setting the story in motion’. 

Nownovel.com

Be the hero of your own story!!

Have you had a book or article idea brewing in your mind? Maybe you have characters swimming around in your head that you would like to become a book. Maybe you have a passion for a topic and you want to educate, encourage, and equip others. Today, do some free writing. Write down what you want to write about it. Don’t hold back. It’s not going to be graded or edited. This is just priming the pump writing. Once you do this exercise, you’ll be in a better place to put together an article, story, or start plotting a book! Go YOU!

Journaling Your Child’s Triggers Part 2

Love is Enough

“Love is enough” is a common misconception among parents in general, but even more so with kids who have experienced trauma. Kids who have had trauma seem to have a built-in button-locating radar. They find our buttons and push them over and over. It’s natural that we parents may think they are pushing our buttons or misbehaving to make us mad.

In reality, their behavior stems from early trauma and its effect on them. Most children that come into foster care, orphanages, or other institutions are disorganized in their attachment and stuck in dis-integration. The people who were supposed to care for them hurt them. This sets off a constant warning bell in the brains of these children. We call the result a stress-shaped brain.

Early Life Experience

Early life experience has shaped their brains to expect the worst and be on high alert all the time. This response is known as hypervigilance. The hypervigilant child jerks at every sound.  They don’t recognize their body’s own signals of hunger, thirst, and rest.

Normally, parents seamlessly teach regulation. When the child is hungry, the mother feeds him. If he is cold, she wraps him in a blanket. If he is tired, she rocks him to sleep. This pattern continues, with the mother regulating for the child until he begins to regulate for himself. He asks for a drink when he is thirsty. He puts on his sweater when he is cold, or grabs his blankie when he’s ready for bed. 

Kids who haven’t had this early regulation don’t know how to regulate. This doesn’t just apply to hunger and thirst, though those are the biggies. It also applies to behavior. Behavior is what we see externally, but it’s not the whole picture. We need to learn to watch the external behaviors as a clue to whether the child can regulate internally or not.

“Tantrums, meltdowns, aggression, and most other challenging experiences of parenting – and life- are a result of a loss of integration, also known as dis-integration.”

The Whole-Brain Child

Neurons that fire together wire together. In plain English, the more a behavior is acted out or a trigger is acted upon, the more it becomes a pattern in the brain. It is as if the road is dug out, graveled, and paved by repeated experiences. The paved road then becomes the primary travel route.  

Adoption is messy. Children who are adopted from hard places have trouble verbalizing their feelings. They struggle with self-regulation and want to control everything and everyone around them. Trouble is, if we parents aren’t careful, we end up focusing on the behavior instead of digging deeper into the root of the problem. It’s quick and easy to think the child is misbehaving to get on our last nerve. We tend to think the child wants to make us angry.

The poor choices in behavior speak what the child is unable to state verbally.

Put Yourself in Your Child’s Shoes

Have you ever been in a situation when you felt anxious or afraid for no apparent or logical reason? Instead of considering a situation your child was in, think of a situation that you have been in. Think of a time when you should have felt safe but instead you felt anxious.  Go back to that feeling for a minute, and as terrible as it is, let it wash over you. Imagine feeling like that all the time. That may be how your child is feeling. 

Five Bs Affected by Trauma

Science says there are five Bs affected by trauma, and we cannot overlook them. In kids from hard places, behavioral disorders are a symptom of the effect trauma has had on their development. 

Negative behaviors will be taken care of once a child is securely attached. To achieve that, we must start with the five Bs and work our way out from there. Take a few minutes and read about the Five Bs – start here. Listen to the podcast series on each B. There is a lot of information to read/listen to. Take your time. It will still be available long after this series is over. Maybe start with one B. Armed with this information, write down some of your child’s triggers with this information as your foundation.

*This is an excerpt from the course How to Have Peace When Your Kids are in Chaos.

Interested in the course? Read more about it and try a free module!

Journaling Your Child’s Triggers Part 1

Journaling Your Child’s Triggers Part 1

Children who have been traumatized in infancy and early childhood cannot be expected to behave or respond to stimuli in the same way as children who have not. 

 Key to remember– As Dr. Purvis reminds us, our children were harmed in and through relationships, and they will find healing in and through nurturing relationships.

Trauma is much more far-reaching than we assumed in the past. We have always been told that children are resilient and they are, but there are effects that trauma leaves behind. It affects every area of life for a child.

 Trauma harms the brain. Its footprint can be seen in these areas: Social, learning, behavior problems (regulation), physical development 

Dr. Purvis calls children who have had trauma in their lives “children from hard places.”

“The passage of time for these little ones does not in itself reduce trauma’s impact to a bearable level. The trauma contaminates the meaning of life and is part of early personality formation. Neurobiologically, trauma shapes the developing brain.”

-Deborah Gray, Nurturing Adoptions

Did your child have early trauma? If you aren’t sure, read the “Six Risk Factors” and listen to the podcast on the subject (linked in the article). Also, you can find a handy printable resource here. 

Today, take some time to think about your child’s history. This will help you begin to recognize the triggers. Write down the risk factors she encountered before coming home to you. Take some time to pray and process how these things can be affecting her behavior. 

We’ll cover more on this topic tomorrow. Feel free to comment, share, or ask a question!

*This is an excerpt from the course How to Have Peace When Your Kids are in Chaos.

Interested in the course? Read more about it and try a free module!

Happy Adoption Day from The Guire Shire

It Was Twenty Years Ago today

Twenty years ago today, four kiddos got off a plane with Grandude, and my hubby, Jerry, to come to their new home. They had flown from Warsaw, Poland to Chicago, and then to Pittsburgh.

In a hospital, thirty minutes away, my stepfather, Bud was slowly, silently, slipping away – going on to glory (as he would say). As Dickens so poetically pointed out:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

Today, twenty years later, I reflect, rejoice, celebrate, and grieve. Those early days after the adoption were the season of light and the season of darkness all rolled into one. Today I celebrate the addition of my four kiddos, as well as grieve the loss of Bud. It was during this season I learned through experience how joy and sorrow could co-exist.

Joy and Sorrow

I experienced the joy of my kiddos in their firsts:

  • Living in a house for the first time
  • Having enough to eat at EVERY meal
  • Sleeping in beds with relative safety (not being beat up or molested in the middle of the night)

If there was any night time activity it was night terror which we tried our best to comfort. We prayed long and hard because we were out of our depth. Or it was Gregory jumping on a sibling, just because he could.

Grieving and Growing

We were all grieving and growing. My kiddos were grieving their old life. Letting go of the past is difficult no matter what sort of past it is. I was grieving because I felt Bud slipping away. He had been my first link to unconditional love. He died a week after the kiddos came home.

Despite our grief, we were growing together, meals at the table, putting on puppet shows, playing with dolls, tea sets, Legos, and race car sets. Playing, reading, and shared family meal times knit us together even though frayed ends stretched and pulled, trying to unravel us. Hateful words. Meltdowns. Night terrors. Hoarding. Medical issues. Survival mode. Disorganized attachment. Before you think I’m only talking about the kiddos, don’t. It was me too. Totally raising my hand.

If you are reading this and thinking, I can’t adopt. It’s too hard. What if I enter a Job syndrome? May I ask you a question? Did you come into the family of God kicking and screaming? Were (or are) old beliefs still hanging on for dear life? Beliefs that tell you:

  • You don’t matter.
  • You are not chosen.
  • God doesn’t love YOU.

If so, you are worth fighting for. Aren’t you? If you’re not sure, the answer is YES! And so is every orphaned, abandoned, and neglected child. As Jesus said, let the children come to me, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 9:14 paraphrase). Just as you are worth it, so are those children who need a home. Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted, to set the captives (physical and spiritual) free, to open the eyes of the blind, to bind up wounds, and give gladness instead of mourning. We are anointed to do the same. Don’t let the thought of doing hard things stop you from pursuing adoption.

Final Thoughts

If I had a time machine and I could go back to pre-adoption me, would I still adopt? Yes. I’m so proud of my kiddos, who they have become and all the life lessons they have taught me along the way.

Journaling Your Triggers

Change Begins With Us

The change we desire for our children must begin with us.

“If we’re willing to piece together our stories and see the relationship between what happened then and what’s happening now, we get to make choices about what happens next.”

Tell Me a Story

It’s difficult to make choices in the heat of the moment. This is why it is important to take some time and revisit our past, make sense of it, and begin healing. 

While we are healing, we can put some proactive responses into place. In other words, you can decide how you are going to respond ahead of time. If you know that when your child steals candy out of the secret stash, it triggers a memory in you of your Aunt Verna whipping you with a switch until your behind was raw, develop a pre-planned, go-to response. 

Separate yourself from the situation. Avoid saying things like, “If I had done that, my mother would have…” Instead, tend to the situation at hand logically. The child took the candy; therefore, he can’t have any after dinner — or whatever you decide is a natural consequence. 

As Andy Stanley writes in Deep & Wide, “the past is only the past for a time. It has a way of clawing its way into our future. And if you don’t recognize it for what it is, the results can be devastating.” If we don’t recognize our past and its overwhelming power to invade our “now,” we will remain stuck. If we come to terms with our past and work through it, we can gain a new outlook on it.

Your Past Can Be a Gift

I honestly never thought I would view the trauma in my past as a gift. I had years of anger, bitterness, and a reoccuring theme of “Why me?” 

I don’t feel that way anymore. I realized a long time ago that empathy is a superpower that is only earned by going through trauma. Sympathy can only reaches the boundaries of understanding someone else’s pain. Empathy feels that pain. 

I’m not saying you should be grateful that someone molested you or did horrible things to you. But you can be grateful for the gift of empathy.

“We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.”

(Romans 8:28)

God takes our pain, our past, and our experiences and fits them into a plan to help others. I’ve spoken with a multitude of adoptive/foster parents over the years. They all seem to have a common denominator: at least one half of the couple experienced early trauma. 

I’ve talked to foster parents who spent years in and out of group homes, were raised in a foster home, were raised by alcoholics or drug addicts, or had moms who worked as prostitutes. I’m not mentioning these things to shame their past or their parents, but to let you know that if you experienced early trauma, you are not alone.

Maybe you identify. Maybe you didn’t have the greatest childhood. Maybe this whole module has been excruciatingly painful for you. I get it. So let’s not end on the trauma — let’s end on the gift it has given to you.

Here’s something you can do right now: Take a deep breath and go do something fun with your kid. While you are having fun, respond to them the way you wish someone had responded to you at that age. Smile. Laugh. Praise them. Don’t make it complicated. Find joy in the small things. 

Journal Your triggers

Today, take a little time and journal one of your triggers. One of mine is riding in the back of a car. It’s linked to times my father came to pick us kiddos up for a visit (after my parent’s divorce). He lived in a different state every year.We often drove for days without anyone telling me where we were going. As soon as we got in the car, my anxiety took over. Today, as you write up a trigger, also write a new predetermined response. Mine is – God is with me wherever I go, He will never leave me no forsake me. It’s my go-to when traveling. Also, as much as possible, I find the route to where I am going. What can you do to conquer your trigger?

*This is an excerpt from the course How to Have Peace When Your Kids are in Chaos.

Want to know more about the E-course and Sample a module? Click Below!

Making Sense Of and Peace With Your Past

“We parents often believe that our past — that is, the way we were raised — is just a book on a shelf of memories. It’s not. Triggers are where past and present intersect. We can’t assume our past isn’t affecting our present parenting.”

How to Have Peace When Your Kids Are in Chaos

If we don’t make sense of and peace with our past, we will be in constant conflict with our children.

You’re probably taking this course because you are in constant conflict with your kiddos. I get it. I’ve lived there. When I finally understood where their behaviors were coming from, I made a tiny bit of progress. I had some brain science and psychology under my belt, but my house still often felt like a war zone. Let me emphasize the word FELT. I was feeling all sorts of things. By that I mean, my kid’s behaviors were triggering things that happened in my past and I was feeling it all over again. I was taking their behaviors personally because I was personally affected by them. I had a past that needed to be examined. I was the last person to think the problem was actually ME. But I was the part of the problem that I was responsible for. I didn’t want to face the truth. I wanted to stay stuck in my cycle of blaming my kid’s behavior for the chaos in my home. When I finally got ahold of the truth that my past was parenting my children. That I needed to face it and make sense of it and peace with it that I was able to move forward.

Often our daily tussles are not about our kids at all — they are about us. That’s not to say that our kids from hard places don’t have a past. It just means our past is running interference on the play. Take a few minutes and journal the last interaction that you think triggered you to react to your past instead of the present.

Adverse Childhood Experiences

An ACE score is a tally of different types of abuse, neglect, and other hallmarks of a rough childhood.

Ace Assessment – Take yours now! Make sure you read the whole article to find out what it does and doesn’t mean.

Let’s end this day with some nurturing. If you have never taken the time until today to process some of your childhood, you may be overwhelmed right now. I’ve been there. Lots of people have. I was conducting a workshop for some social workers and nurses once and during this the topic of the how your past affects your now – a nurse yelled out, “I’m not going to parent my kids like my mom did, I’m going to hug them.” We can and should have those sorts of reactions to facing our past, not to throw our parents under the bus, but to decide to where to go from here. What is nurturing to you?

I’ve provided some questions for you to work through just that. 

  1. What is a deep source of comfort and emotional nurturing for you?
  2.  How do you recognize nurturing?
  3.  Are you comfortable giving emotional support?
  4. Does your own childhood weigh heavily on your heart and mind? If so, how?
  5. Do you comfort others in order to comfort yourself? What does this look like?
  6. Are you able to recognize your own emotions as well as others? If not, what steps can you take to start recognizing emotions in yourself?

*This is an excerpt from the course How to Have Peace When Your Kids are in Chaos.

Interested in the course? Read more about it and try a free module!

Journaling Your Triggers and Your Child’s Triggers

*Trigger Warning*

If you haven’t faced your past, this week’s assignments may produce overwhelming feelings! 

Sometimes it takes actually feeling your feelings before you can move towards healing or helping your kiddos move in that direction. Be sure to find a Christian therapist or counselor to help you work through your past!

Why are memories so triggering?

Have you ever smelled something like cinnamon rolls baking, or coffee brewing, and it suddenly evokes a feeling from a past event? Maybe it’s Christmas morning because your Mom made cinnamon rolls and coffee every year. Or maybe the scent of a  perfume sends you to a dark place because you were at Aunt Mary’s house the time you were molested and she wore that scent liberally. Why does this happen? Why doesn’t the past just stay in the past? Tommy Newberry explains:

“Your subconscious mind is incapable of distinguishing between an actual event and one that is only imagined.” 

When we have these flashbacks, our mind acts if they are actually happening again. Our subconscious doesn’t distinguish past,  present, or future. 

Why do we need to process our past?

If we don’t make sense of and peace with our past, we will continue to be triggered. We will live in fearful, reactionary ways. If we want to live positive lives, fully present with our kids, we must take the time to work on making peace with our past.

“Our mind is designed to control the body, of which the brain is a part, not the other way around. Matter does not control us; we control matter through our thinking and choosing. We cannot control the events and circumstances of life but we can control our reactions. In fact, we can control our reactions to anything, and in doing so, we change our brains. It’s not easy; it is hard work, but it can be done through our thoughts and choices.”

Caroline Leaf, Switch On Your Brain: The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking, and Health

If you are thinking “Bad things happened to me and I can’t control that.” This is true. You can’t erase the fact bad things happened, neither can your kiddos. What you can do is change your mind about how you react to your triggers. You don’t have to be ruled by them. You can do the hard work of changing your brain! Are you ready?

For today, let’s start with a positive memory. Think of a time when you a child and were immensely happy. Was it a camping trip? A birthday party?  Playing with your cousins? Write it all down in the most vivid detail you can! Have fun with it. Use the five senses. What do you see? Hear? Smell? Feel? Hear? 

Write Or Type Up A Plan

Write or Type Up a Plan

You knew it was coming, right? We can’t just dream big dreams, write out our perfect day, the rewards we will receive for living our purpose, and not have a plan. Tommy Newberry in his book, Success is Not an Accident says:


“Investing the time and brainpower to set meaningful goals in each area of your life will produce internal, permanent, motivation. You’ll become inner-directed rather than outer-directed or other-directed.”

We want to be inner-directed, right? Outer directed is reactionary. We can live our lives like a ball in a pinball machine, getting bumped, hit, and sometimes hitting a random goal. Or we can have a plan.

Remember your perfect day?

  • What would it take to make that happen?
  • What habits would you need to form?
  • What kinds of things would you need to do differently?
  • How can you break those goals down into easy to accomplish objectives?
  • How will you handle obstacles?

There will be obstacles.

Yep. Writing down our perfect day doesn’t mean we won’t have things to overcome. You can’t be an overcomer if you have nothing to overcome.
Often we don’t set goals because we are afraid we can’t achieve them. Other times we set super safe and easy goals because we know we could probably do them in our own strength. Neither of those options will get us where we want to go.

A Simple Goal I set


I’m going to share a super simple goal I set years ago that seemed impossible to do with seven kiddos. Our food budget was tight. I couldn’t spend all of our grocery money on cereal. I also didn’t want my kiddos eating cereal for breakfast often. Remember my perfect day included cooking breakfast? I needed to move from scrambling in the morning to get my kids’ food to sitting down to a hot, healthy breakfast. I decided to make a repeating breakfast plan. French Toast, Oatmeal, Eggs and Bacon, Muffins or frozen waffles, Cereal, Pancakes. We had cereal on Fridays because that was our busiest day and I knew I would peter out towards the end of the week. Saturday was pancakes or homemade waffles because we had the time. Once I had the plan written down, it was easier to implement. I didn’t stress in the morning because I knew what we were going to eat. Did we do this perfectly? No. Did I have opposition or obstacles? Yes.
Maybe you’re wondering why I’m talking about breakfast as a goal or vision. Guess what, whatever makes your life easier, more manageable is a great place to start with measurable goals. Maybe after you have developed some baseline habits, you can pursue those other things you wrote down in your brainstorming session. Maybe now you can add half an hour of sewing, quilting, photography, art, writing, home design, baking, playing games, reading a book, or fill in the blank.

Not sure where to start? Check out Ruth Soukup’s article –
10 SIMPLE HABITS THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE

Another Example from my life

Here’s an example from my life. When I’m writing a new novel, I set a goal for when I want to finish. Then I break down the steps.

  • Brainstorm mind map
  • Outline
  • Character sketches of all characters
  • Defining traits of the main character
  • Plot and Subplot


After I have those down, I decide how many chapters the book should be, break those down into writing times.
I schedule writing times on my calendar.
After I finish the first draft, I print the book and move to another set of goals!
Do some of my deadline dates change? Yes. Does that mean I failed? No. What I used to do is not write at all because I was living an outer-directed life. I didn’t have a plan. I just hoped one day I would have time to write. That didn’t work. It took me 12 years to write my first book because of that “hoping” sort of philosophy (plus I was homeschooling). Now, I make writing a priority just as I made finding some breakfast options all those years ago!
Take some time today to write down one goal then break it down into simple achievable steps. Then make sure you write down what you will do when you (and you will) run into an obstacle.