*Brought to you by: The Mom Conference

My life as a mom doesn't neatly coordinate with the ideal world painted in my mind. Do you ever feel that way?

Our rare vacations aren't exotic. My pie crusts are crumbly. Our pilates ball is mostly used for rolling up and down the stairs. Our walls have multiple chips in the paint.

And I don't always have great lighting or beautiful backdrops to help document my totally ordinary daily routines.

I ask my sons to gather the trash from the upstairs bedrooms, and they decide to hang the garbage bag on my ceiling fan and see what happens if they swing from it. (Can you relate?)

I'm not giving up on (or putting down) this ideal life I imagine, and I'm sure someday I'll have a cute kitchen and maybe a trip to Europe.

But what I need after a long day of messes, meals, interruptions, and squabbles is to feel.

I need to know that my efforts are worth it. And I need to know that all my work is enough.

Mostly, I need guidance, confidence, and tools to spend my time on what is most important.Because so much of what I yearn for—the images that please the eye and leave me feeling utterly and devastatingly inadequate—is completely unnecessary.

What is necessary are people, relationships, and family.

Far too often, however, I get distracted by superficiality, the inundation of emails, and the siren song of social media. I miss out on the true happiness that is ALREADY EXISTING right around me.

I want to live better.

I want to soak up every moment I get to spend with my aging parents—particularly with my mom, who is slipping quickly through the stages of Alzheimer's.

I want to kneel down by the couch and fold dish towels while my youngest daughter cartwheels all over the living room.

I want to ride our little tandem bike home from the school pick-up and let the wind blow in my face while my youngest son and I race down the hill—cherishing his voice while he yells, "Faster, Mom! Faster!"

I want to chop sweet peppers and celery with my older son and let him excitedly tell me all about the characters in the book he's read four times this month.

And sit cross-legged on my teenager's bed while we brainstorm ideas for her science project ... and then sit quietly and really listen when she changes the subject and lets all her concerns and insecurities spill out.

I want to savor this messy, noisy, unpredictable life.

You do, too. Am I right?

So let's share our imperfections, discuss our best ideas, and help each other to stay focused.

Big things are expected of us, and there is a Power beyond our own who will guide us toward solutions—in a way that will never overwhelm or discourage us.

Building a powerful family, with God as our Guide, makes life beautiful and leads to true happiness.

This is my goal, and I'm dedicated to achieving it. If you want to join me, it will be so much more fun to do this together.

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