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December 2013

The ABC ' s of Inspiring Your Daughter

The ABCs of Inspiring Your Daughter

A mom starts out as the single most influential voice in her daughter's life. Until the day her daughter might decide to look elsewhere for a role model.

When a mom inspires daughter
After surveying daughters aged 15-45 as I was writing my book, When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter, I learned a lot about what girls need most from their moms. And three things stood out that, if practiced, can do wonders to build your relationship with your daughter, rather than break it. 

Here are three ways that you can be the one person your daughter looks to, over anyone else, for advice, approval, encouragement and inspiration throughout her growing up years and beyond (and I believe they work with sons, too):   

A - Accept Her for Who She Is - You'd be surprised how many daughters believe they can never measure up to their moms' standards. Not feeling accepted by her mother was the most common wound I encountered as I interviewed young women to talk about their relationships with their moms. Daughters need to know they are loved for who they are, not what they do. It's one of the ways we model Christ's love to them.

In most cases where daughters didn't feel accepted, their moms were unaware their daughters saw them as critical and unsupportive. You can show acceptance to your daughter by supporting her dreams and ambitions even if they are different from yours. You can also show your love and support by understanding and accepting the ways she is different from you.

For example, you may be tidy and neat, she might not. You might have excelled academically, she might gravitate more toward the arts. Give her leeway to be herself and appreciate and affirm the ways she is unlike you, because those things make her unique.

B - Become Interested in Her World - Our girls will want to be around others who "get" them. We can better understand our daughters by asking them questions and listening to them or, better yet, listening to the music they are listening to. Become involved in what she is interested in by being the driver (if she can't yet drive) or the greeter (who meets her at the door after she's spent a day or evening out), or the caller (who often asks how she's doing and what she's up to).

Be creative and find a way to take an interest in what she's interested in...even if it is not something you would've liked when you were her age.

C - Cheer Her On, No Matter What - You and I, as moms, need to be doing all we can to build our daughters up, not tear them down. When I realized the power of encouraging words on my daughter, I began to use them more often when talking to her.  That caused her to listen more, rather than shrink away.

Through the years, I've found that Ephesians 4:29  is an excellent safeguard for how to talk to our daughters in a supportive way: "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Our daughters are hard-wired to want to please their mothers and make them proud. That's why it's important that we affirm their efforts, but also let them know that it's okay to not excel at everything. 

Your daughter may still be struggling to figure out what it is she does well and what she wants to pursue in life. Give her time. Allow her to fail. And be her cheerleader every step of the way. She will want you around if you praise her more than you point out what she's doing wrong. What steps are you taking to be that primary influencer in your son or daughter's life?

Cindi MCindi McMenamin is a national women's conference and retreat speaker and the author of a dozen books, including When Women Walk Alone(more than 100,000 copies sold), When a Woman Inspires Her Husband, and When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter, upon which this article is based. For more on her books and ministry, or to download her free article "Suggestions for Mother-Daughter Memory-Making" see her website:  Make this next year, 2014, a special year with your daughter. Thanks Cindi. We love you, Lynn & Dineen and the M&T Community.

The Intentional Christmas

Christmas TreeA couple years ago I faced my first Christmas without my youngest daughter. The emotional impact of her living 3,000 miles away hit me harder than I ever expected and the idea of Christmas without her loomed ahead like a threatening storm with no shelter in sight. I ran to Jesus over and over again, seeking His comfort and wisdom.

Sometimes my prayers was simply, “Comfort, Jesus, I need Your comfort.” He always showed up, and not just with His comfort but with the inspiration and desire to make our Christmas as special as ever.

Here’s what I learned through this experience and my determination to have a meaningful and intentional Christmas:

Intentional Choice #1: Reject the chaos. Decide how many “things” you and your family realistically have time for, pick a number and stick with it. Let your yes be yes and your no be no. Sometimes last minute “things” come up so do be flexible but factor in margins to accommodate those sudden events so that your plans aren’t totally thrown off. Spontaneity can visit but don’t let her roost.

Intentional Choice #2: Choose specifically. Which events and activities do you and your family want to partake in? Which relationships do you feel the need to invest more time in this year? Even make time for rest in your schedule. Have a super busy day planned? Make the next day one of rest and relaxation. Make it a Christmas movie day, a time to read stories and just enjoy each other.

Intentional Choice #3: Release expectations. We often walk into the holidays with unrealistic expectations. We can’t control everything. Let go of unrealistic expectations of yourself, your husband, your immediate family, your extended family, of others and even of situations that serve only to create conflict and resentment. Let’s face the reality that the Christmas season can bring the best and worst out of us. Extend lots of grace and enjoy those moments when things just seem to fall into place and go smoothly. Be Mary and give Martha the season off. Moments with loved ones are way more important than making sure all your dishes match. Take this from someone who knows (wink).

Intentional Choice #4: Accept whatever comes. Not as a passive gesture but as a willingness to let God surprise you. This is where not just the good stuff happens but the great stuff. Don’t miss a moment of it. Cover yourself and your family in prayer for God’s love to abound and bring His blessings in the most unexpected places. Look for opportunities to bless your family, your friends and even a stranger here and there. This is where we find true joy and share it with the world! Look at this wonderful moment right from the Bible:

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. — Luke 2:16-19

As we enter this Christmas season already full of events and family visits, it’s easy to miss special moments in the chaos so prevalent this time of year but therein may lay some of our greatest gifts of the season. Take time to enjoy and ponder each moment. You'll find your Christmas will hold more beauty and meaning than ever before! Merry Christmas, my dear friends! Dineen

What Speaks Love to Your Husband?

What Speaks Love to Your Husband?

By Cindi McMenamin

If I asked “What makes your husband feel loved?” would you be able to tell me?

Woman inspires her husbandAs I interviewed hundreds of wives for my book, When a Woman Inspires Her Husband, I discovered most wives are more focused on what their husband’s aren’t doing to meet their expectations, than on what they can do to make him feel loved. I, too, was once in that camp. I continued to let my husband know how he was failing to meet all my needs and expectations. I never thought to ask him how I could meet his. Then I decided that if transformation was really going to happen in my marriage, it had to start with me.

So I prayed: “God, help me to love him as You do. And as I do that, I trust You will take care of the rest.” God is faithful. He will always bring about transformation when we are willing for it to start with us.  And I’ve found that “Change me, God” is a much more effective prayer than “God, please change my husband.”

As I began to focus on loving my husband as God loves me, God began to turn my husband’s heart around toward me. In other words, the less I complained about what he wasn’t doing and the more I focused on loving him for the sake of loving him (and not to get something out of it),  the more he began showing love to me, as well. Or maybe I just began to notice it more often.  

Regardless of whether he changed or my perspective changed, the fact is that my marriage changed – for the better.  And it can happen in your marriage, too.  This is how you can love your husband as God loves you:

1. Love Him in Spite of His Faults              

When I asked husbands who had been married 10-40 years to tell me what makes them feel loved by their wives, nearly all of them alluded to their wives’ responses to them in light of their own mistakes and failures. Listen to their responses from their hearts:

  • I know she loves me when she upholds my character and personality to others and doesn’t feel the need to apologize for who I am or explain it to others.
  • She shows me she loves me by still being nice to me even when I’m a jerk. 
  • She doesn’t compare me to others; she doesn’t try to change me.
  • By telling me I am a great husband and father and that she is fully satisfied with who I am today and not who she hopes I can be molded into tomorrow.

Your husband does notice when you love and accept him, even when he’s not being so lovable. In fact, he notices it especially when he’s not being so lovable. Your husband may be tough, but he is also tender on the inside. And if you dig deep enough, you will find in him a heart like yours – hoping to be loved and appreciated for who he is, and wanting to be forgiven for the times he blows it.

2. Love Him Sacrificially

Jesus commanded us: “Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12). How can our husbands not be encouraged and motivated when we show – and demonstrate – to them, the  kind of love that sacrifices itself for the benefit of others?  Show him the kind of love that says “Not my happiness, but yours.” “Not my preferences, but yours.” “Not my fulfillment, but yours.” 3.

Practice Protective Love  

Throughout the Bible, God demonstrates protective love by continually coming through for His people. He protects His own. Do you have a protective love going on for your husband? Whether he’s a coach, an executive, a supervisor, a teacher, or an employee working under someone else, he has his days, be sure, when he is the target of accusation, the brunt of jokes, the disappointment of others, the one who let the team down.  Those are the days he needs your understanding smile and the reassurance that no matter what anyone else thinks of him, the most important woman in his world still believes he’s her hero.

That’s the kind of protective, reassuring love he needs in order to get back out there and face it all again the next day. In First Corinthians 13:4-8 we are told that godly love "bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (verse 7, NASB). Does that describe your love for your husband?

Cindi MCindi McMenamin is a national speaker and the author of several books including When Women Walk Alone (more than 100,000 copies sold) When Couples Walk  Together, which she co-authored with her husband, Hugh, and When a Woman Inspires Her Husband, upon which this article is based. For more information about her books or for free resources to improve your marriage connection, see her website: