Big Families, BTW, Have You Seen My Head?, Children, Guam, Productivity, Self-Improvement, Uncategorized

6 Parenting Lessons I Learned from Running a Restaurant

My kiddies getting homework done at the restaurant.
My kiddies getting homework done at the restaurant.

Forks clanking against white porcelain plates. Small giggles and hearty laughs amidst the steady hum of conversation and the rich smells of grilled steaks and steaming soups. This was my life for a while as I assisted managing our family-owned, downtown restaurant.

It was an exciting but difficult time because of the inevitable juggling that had to take place. Five kids and a busy husband on the one hand and a busy restaurant on the other. We eventually resolved to sell the business, but while we were hustling, I learned some key life lessons that have kicked up my parenting abilities a couple of notches. Maybe you will find them helpful too.

1. Write things down. Schedules, manuals, recipes, menus, signage–everything needed to be written out and made clear to all. This is so true in all areas of life. When we don’t write things down, they simply fall through the cracks. Things get left on life’s back burners, never to be moved to prime “get ‘er done” real estate. Do you keep a family calendar? Do you write out your goals and specific steps that you’ll take to reach them? Write it down, get it done!

2. Accountability. Until there was a designated staff member in the restaurant scheduled to clean the bathrooms at regular intervals, things would get pretty icky. If there wasn’t a log specifying who’d be cleaning out the chillers or the espresso machine, it wouldn’t get done.

Accountability is just as vital at home. That oh-so-useful chore chart is key here. It sets up the expectation and gives me a “fall guy” should the dog not get fed on time or the dishes not get put away. (Since we can’t fire our children, consider “docking their pay” which can translate to canceling the next planned trip to Yogurtland:-)

3. Murphy’s Law is universal, so expect the unexpected. The old adage, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong,” takes on a whole new meaning in a restaurant. An oven will break down just before a busy Friday dinner service. The credit card machine will malfunction just as a waiter processes 25 Naval officers on a quick lunch meeting–all paying separately. We need to have back-up plans and expect the unexpected.

Similarly, a child will have a tummy ache on the day Mommy is supposed to attend a big conference. The washing machine will die out when there are eight backlogged loads of laundry. Bottom line is, expect the unexpected and have a back up plan. A go-to sitter, a Whirlpool repair guy on speed dial. And sometimes, just a little margin in life so that when these crazy things creep up, we aren’t strung so tight that one little thing snaps us.

4. Own up to Mistakes.  A customer’s steak might be well-done when they swear they said rare. A chef might forget to put the coveted avocado in the sushi. A piece of cork might be floating in the glass of Merlot. It happens. Own up to it and work toward remedies for the situation. A genuine apology, a complementary dessert and even removing the item from the ticket might be necessary.

Parents, we might not like to admit it, but we are really good at making mistakes. We need to get better about humbling ourselves and asking for forgiveness. The customer at the restaurant might tweet something about a messed up order, but a child stores up all the little wrongs in their hearts when there isn’t a remedy to the mistake. Whether it’s a harsh word for spilled milk or not noticing your daughter’s first goal in the soccer game because you were on Facebook, they see our mistakes. We need to own up and apologize because it’s the right thing to do.

5. Get out of “the weeds.” Have you ever seen a waiter start fumbling orders, disappear on tables or auction off food because he didn’t remember who ordered what? That’s called being “in the weeds” and it is hard to get out.

Usually, the most effective way to rectify the situation is to have a manager or another waiter help out so that he can gain composure, get organized and get back in the game if you will.

A lot of times as parents, we find we are in the weeds too. We are overwhelmed by the stuff of life like home renovations, behavioral issues with kids, deadlines at work. It might get hard to see the reason we do it all when our we can’t see above the weeds. God never meant for us to go it alone. A spouse, family, friends, church community–there are so many people who can help us get out of the weeds. If we don’t reach out and we choose to loiter in those weeds, there are no happy customers.

6. Setting up for success. One of my most experienced chefs had years of experience working on cruise ships. He brought with him the phrase, “Set up for success.” He always made sure that nightly clean-up was done and that all necessary items were prepped for the opening shift. Sauces were made, veggies were chopped, and a list of required items to shop for was written and hung on a clipboard.

When I leave dishes in the sink, clutter on the dining table or miscellaneous laundry strewn about, I know I am not setting myself up for success. In fact, it usually means that I will wake up already in the weeds! I have to remind myself every night to complete the necessary tasks that my “future self” will thank me for in the morning.

Are you translating work skills into your home? If you’re not, what are some ways your work habits and skills could improve life at home? I’d love to hear your ideas.

PS Enjoy the FREE printable chore chart and help yourself stay out of the weeds:-)

Big Families, Children, Christianity, Faith, Organize, Productivity, Self-Improvement

Moms, Are You Taking Time to Encourage & Be Encouraged?

Inspire, teach, talk, share, listen
Inspire, teach, talk, share, listen

I spent a couple of hours with some ladies at a coffee shop the other day. That doesn’t seem unusual I guess because it happens all across the country everyday. Friends gathering to chat about life, children, marriage, new recipes found on Pinterest. This particular group was slightly different though. We didn’t all know each other. Leone, a friend and casual mentor of sorts, just put out the idea of coming together to share life’s successes in the first half of 2014 and inspire plans for the next half of the year. A “Meeting of the Minds” she called it. I’m all about dreaming big and planning it out so I medicated my cold-symptoms and headed to the café on that Saturday morning. I’m so glad I did!

Crafting My Powerful Life’s “Meeting of the Minds” with Leone Rohr

As women often do, we got to know a bit about one another with a little synopsis of our year thus far. We cheered for successes, we sympathized with challenges and we laughed about the chaos which we could all totally relate to! Each of us discussed plans for the remainder of the year and Leone shared some great printable tools and tips she uses for getting things done.

Getting things done–that was the hot topic of the morning. I find it a huge blessing when moms can share ideas about how we improve our productivity and, even more importantly, what is most worthy of our time and energy. As one mom said, “The days seem kind of like a blur.” Not so much once you decide to live a life of intention.

So, in order to be a woman of intention, we used phrases like “Eat the Frog” to discuss getting important things done first and asked questions like, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time,” to emphasize breaking big, overwhelming dreams into smaller goals and tasks. These ideas are generally used in business circles, but very applicable to motherhood. We’re using what works!

We shared some valuable tools we have used like Michael Hyatt’s Life Plan, and books that we are reading. Right now I’m reading Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead and iBloom in Business: Equipping You to Build a Successful Business while Living a Life You Love! by Kelly Thorne Gore.

Motherhood is often described as juggling many balls at the same time and trying not to drop a single one because the value of each is great–faith, family, friends, health, marriage, work, and so on. But we can indeed build each other up with the experiences we’ve had and inspire each other to do better than we ever thought we could on our own. This means sharing the toughest moments as raw and difficult as they are, accepting encouragement and help, then somewhere along the line, doing the same for another woman who needs that support. In Titus 2:3-5, we are called to encourage and support one another in our journey through the messiness of motherhood. We can be visible reminders of living in the moment, being intentional about how we live our lives, and with God’s grace, helping lead our children to be the people He intended them to be.

That, my friends, is a valuable investment in two hours of my time! I pray that you all choose to connect with other women, young and old, to learn from and to teach the lessons we pick up along the way that can make life, not just a little bit easier, but that make the stories we tell somewhere down the road just that much sweeter because we lived a life of intention.

Here is a free printable that helps me live a life of intention. Please enjoy!

Be Blessable!


Christianity, Diet, Food, Health, Ranting & Raving About Island Living, Self-Improvement, Uncategorized

The Thief’s Purpose is to Steal, Kill & Destroy–Even with a Donut

When I first read 1 Corinthians 6:19, I really had a feeling of conviction. The verse reads, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.” I knew how important my mind and heart were to my spiritual life, but my actual, physical body? I would say I was getting a C- at best in this area. I was definitely not honoring God by being such a slacker in this area.

In Sheri Rose Shepherd’s book Fit for My King, she mentions a verse in the chapter titled “God’s Temple or Our Trash Can.” John 10:10 says, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” Wow! Okay, maybe I’ve watched too many food documentaries, or maybe as I walked down an aisle filled with shiny, foil-covered potato chips and preservative-laden cookies, but this verse really hit home. This “thief” will use any way possible to crumble a person, a community, and even a whole country. Yes, we are a fast food, sugar-addicted, white bread, white rice, soda-drinking country! Satan steals our self-worth, our self-image, and our motivation to do big and great things for God when we are mired down in an unhealthy body.

Sheri Rose Shepherd
Sheri Rose Shepherd

So I had to man up–okay “woman up!” Was I going to let the thief win? Will I be a slave to a donut?!?  Uh, NO! 2 Timothy 2:21 says, “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” I am clinging to this promise. Yes, for some, the “dishonorable” thing might be stealing, adultery, lying, blasphemy…and for some, it might be that dishonorable dish of ice cream that is actually three portions and not one. They are all bad.

As of today, I have almost lost 10lbs in two weeks of my Medifast diet and almost one week of vacation in the Philippines. (Aside, that was a little challenging as there are many delicious food options and we were on vacation. I surprised myself with my resolve and did well with portions and eating clean despite the occasional temptation).

Praise God for His promises!

Food, Guam, Self-Improvement

Medifast & Motivation

I placed my order for Medifast food about a week ago and it should be arriving within a day or two. I am excited for two reasons. One, I have seen many people I know experience great results with the program, and two, because it’s simplified eating. I need simple for sure. It’s like the “Einstein’s wardrobe” version of meal planning. Little thought involved in the process.

So, today, as I stood in line and the Department of Revenue & Taxation (DRT), I decided I will build in two great components for motivation to get through the next 15 or so weeks to reach my weight loss goal.

First, I will blog about my experience for accountability. Public failure just stinks! So there ya go!

Second, I will spend an extra few minutes each time I go to DRT and just people watch. There’s nothing like observing people at Rev & Tax to make you think, “Ewww, that could be me in a few years if I don’t turn things around now!” Haha!

I don’t know if I’ll be so witty on 1,000 calories a day, but I’ll definitely be smiling and prancing through Rev & Tax when I’m at my goal weight–even if it is to drop a check off at the Collections counter!

Christianity, Prayer, Productivity, Reading, Self-Improvement

The Word, Goat Milk, Platforms & Dying Empty

One of my prayers has been for clarity about my purpose in life. (I know that seems so clichéic). I asked God to show me what He has called me to do. He faithfully put resources in front of me that have brought much focus and I couldn’t be more grateful. I guess I should explain, briefly, where I’ve been recently. I guess you could say, I’ve been drowning in the trenches!

I was having a baby every two years starting in 1998 through 2006. Then I assisted my husband to open a music store while he kept his day job with the government and played in bands to supplement our income so that I could stay home to raise the children. It was the best decision we could have ever made, but you can see that we were already in a trench. Then we got a little crazy and decided to open a restaurant downtown. Okay, a lot crazy! At the time, the idea just spewed excitement! A great piece of real-estate and a beautiful concept were too much to pass up. It was absolutely beautiful–until it got ugly. The trench just got deeper and deeper as our time and energy were being sucked into a black hole that stole something we could never get back–time with our family. With answered prayers, we were able to sell the business before things got too out of control.

I took several months to survey what had happened and tried to learn from the experience. In the background of all that, I had founded a non-profit with a mission to open a children’s museum on Guam. I was drowning. Worse yet, I had never taken the time to implement systems that would allow me to function more efficiently with the ever increasing demands. Crash! Crash! Crash! (That was the sound of all the pounding waves that were engulfing my family).

I was battered from the chaos that was life for a few years, but amidst that darkness came a hint of light. In my worse moments of self-doubt, the Lord held my hand and brought me back on the right path. I didn’t realize until recently just how much I leaned on Him for guidance and how much my faith was strengthened in the process. I immersed myself in the bible and prayed unceasingly. More than ever, His command to “be stil and know that I am God” came into focus. The more obedient I was, the more easily I could see and hear Him speak.

He delivered answers through His Word of course, but also through three incredible resources, hence the title of this post. PJ Jonas of “The Busy Mom’s Survival Guide” podcast, Michael Hyatt’s podcast called “This is Your Life,” and a book called Die Empty by Todd Henry (and his Accidental Creative podcast). Each of these elements has had a profound impact on the way I look at future and where I go from here. They are serving as a well-built springboard if you will.

Here are the BIG things I’ve gleaned thus far from these four resources:

1. The Bible: This verse has had profound meaning to me in this season of my life: “The heart of man plans his way, but The Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9. If I obediently lean on Him to guide me–He will!

2. PJ Jonas: Listening to her podcast has encouraged me to clear up my cluttered life and make room for the things that are important. As it turns out, those “things” are relationships, goals and dreams! She shares her wealth of knowledge and experience which have helped me get on the path to clearing the clutter and developing systems that work for my family.

3. Michael Hyatt: “Speaking out takes courage, and you’re never going to grow into the leader you were meant to be if you’re not willing to take a risk and occasionally speak up.” He often reminds listeners/readers that we have a one-of-a-kind perspective on things that others can benefit from, so share. How do we share? He shares a wealth of resources about platform building that cannot be missed!

4. Todd Henry: I am currently reading his most recent book Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day. Talk about highlighter heaven! He offers so many practical and motivating tips to get truly meaningful work done. Isn’t that what we all want? His podcast “The Accidental Creative” is equally incredible.

So, here I go–venturing out of my comfort zone to accomplish something great with some pretty smart people encouraging my small, well planned, deliberate steps along the way. They are truly a blessing and I hope that you allow these resources to help you live the life God has planned for you!