This past weekend, I was blessed to attend the annual “Hearts at Home” Conference in Bloomington, Illinois for the third year.

As was expected, it was rich in resources and information to make us all better mama’s serving our loving God by raising our children in the way they should go.

Not to mention I was able to meet my bloggy friend, Cherie, IN THE FLESH.  Love her.

If you’re not familiar with “Hearts at Home” and you live relatively close to this midwestern town, I highly recommend that 1) you check out the wonderful blog of author and speaker Jill Savage, who began “Hearts at Home” many years ago as a group of eight moms needing community and 2) you attend next year.

The speakers were powerful – several from Focus on the Family, a few from Proverbs 31 Ministries. Many with books of their own.

Not only did I leave with a few new tips on how to handle that obstinate toddler or the strong-willed child (not that I have one…or two or three…) but I also returned to my home with a full-cup after spending two days laughing and crying with three of my dearest friends.

And that, my friends, is worth the price of admission right there.  Everything else is just icing on the cake.

I thought I would share some of the resources I stumbled upon and thought were of worth to you on this Multitude Monday, a Monday in which I am so thankful that I am constantly being stretched to grow and continue to learn as a wife, a mother, and a woman.

Because, as I often like to repeat (and I don’t remember where I first heard it), God loves us so much right where we are but He loves us too much to let us stay there…

I enjoyed two sessions on media and our children with Focus on the Family’s Bob Woliszewski. Bob is the host of the wonderfully-helpful program “Plugged In” in which he personally reviews movies, video games, music, and television shows and rates them based on their appropriateness based on Christian values.  He has been working with Focus on the Family for 20 years and let me say, he knows his stuff.  I trust him entirely and check his reviews before we see any movie.

Did I mention there is a “Plugged In” app for the iPhone and the Droid?  I heart it.

Friends, it is so worth your time to learn more about this topic as I am feeling very convicted – we are the gatekeeper’s of our children’s hearts right now.  Proverbs 4:23 tells us that “Above all else, guard your heart.”

Whether we like it or not, the media impacts the hearts of our children and we must be the shield that keeps it pure and lovely while their roots are being established. (Philippians 4:8)

Biggest take-away?  I’m checking into the “Clearplay” DVD player and using the following question as a guide not only for what my children are watching and hearing but myself as well:

What would the “Creator of the Universe” say about what I want to watch/hear/play?

Other resources from the weekend (I’ll be writing more about all of these in upcoming posts):

Julianna Slattery, family psychologist with Focus on the Family, shared helpful discipline ideas on molding the hearts of our children and not just ending the behavior for the short-term.

Biggest take-away?  Choose one or two character goals for each child and look for opportunities to teach that specific goal.

I completely LOVED Yvette Maher’s talk on “Get Real In Your Marriage” – she is funny and authentic and offered much wisdom on how to keep this marriage thing ticking…Yvette hosts “Your Family Live!” for Focus on the Family (web-based television program for families)

Biggest take-away?  Obedience precedes emotion.  I may not FEEL like softening my heart to my husband after an argument or irritation but it never fails to calm us both when one reaches out to the other EVEN WHEN WE DON’T WANT TO DO SO!

Much more but the word-count is already too high so I’ll move on to my list for this Multitude Monday.  Thank you, God, for:

341.  Forcing me to grow.  Forcing me to stretch myself.  Not allowing me to stay complacent for too long.

342.  Safe travels to a conference in another state

343.  A husband who actually ENJOYS being home alone with three children under six

344.  Much-needed time with girlfriends who make me laugh and cry and allow me to just be who I am

345.  The salve of our God’s grace

346.  Discovering growth in an area that I didn’t even realize I had grown in when faced with an unexpected situation

347.  A Sunday nap

348.  The swooning of my crew over Five Guys’ french fries – heard about them all day today…

349.   Spring Break this week!

350.  Which means not having to pack lunches for a week…

351.  And jammy days…

352. And a “daily adventure” since we are having a “stay-cation” this year

353.  The Refiner’s Fire

354.  A run!  A real run – outside with music!

355.  Weight Watcher’s new program – love it!

This week, may you grow.  Stretch.  Reach-out.  Be mold-able.  Sit on the potter’s wheel – and let Him shape you.