Intentional Motherhood: @Jill Savage Helps Moms Keep Their Hearts-at-Home
Motherhood—Picture, if you will, a woman who describes herself this way: "I live in a 100-year-old farmhouse out in the country. I hate to shop. I would never buy new clothes if it wasn’t for a husband who makes me give up things like the purple bathrobe I wore for 22 years. I’m an introvert…I get refueled by being alone. I love Jesus with all my heart, soul, and mind. I live in Normal, Illinois. I am an author and speaker who is passionate about encouraging families. I am the author of seven books on motherhood and home life. I am the founder and CEO of an organization called Hearts to Home, which is 18 years-old and serves over 10,000 women annually through our conferences and website."
What did you come up with? An image of a shy woman dressed in tweeds or a powerhouse businesswoman in a suit? Jill Savage seems to be a comfortable combination of the two, a woman as passionate about her role as a mother as she is about others'. She herself is the mother of five children, ranging in age from 14 to 26, and a new grandmother as well. In her book My Hearts at Home: How to Be the Intentional Mother..., she says: "What makes a house a home? It's the family dynamics of the people who live in that house that makes it a home. When we value being home and recognize all the roles that home plays in our life, we can provide a secure, loving environment for each member of our family." And, of course, mothers are central to providing that environment.
This is a realization that came to her gradually when she found herself, after graduating from college, unable to find a teaching job in the small community in which they lived. Since her degree was in choral music education, she began teaching private voice and piano lessons, and she opened a daycare in her home. "While caring for other people’s children [in addition to two of my own]," she says, "I found a new value for being at home for a season of time."
Then she began looking for a conference for mothers. She longed for the camaraderie and encouragement she’d found at teacher conferences when she was getting her degree. She sought training in how to be, as she puts it, an "intentional mom. This was the early '90s, and she couldn't find what she needed, so she and a small group of like-minded moms organized one, and her church hosted the event. At their first conference in 1994, they expected 400 moms to attend. Eleven hundred showed up. Melissa Lierman, @TimeOutMom, has been going to Hearts at Home Conferences for 11 years. "When my girlfriends told me there was a conference for moms, I just didn't believe them! I went to my first one in 1999 and never looked back and have been dragging girlfriends to them year after year and they are instantly hooked too!"
The next year the conference moved to the Illinois State University campus. Twenty-eight hundred moms showed up. Thirty-four hundred came the next year, and forty-five hundred the next. These days, 10,000 women attend multiple Hearts-at-Home conferences every year, and thousands more take advantage of the resources offered through her websites and books. This year, conferences are also being offered in Hungary, the Netherlands, Austria, and Italy.
Not only is there awesome comradery with other people just like you speaking your language and living their lives as moms too, there are fantastic workshops that you can take to fill your mind as well as your soul. "It is so incredible to spend a weekend with literally thousands of other moms taking classes on a huge range of topics from specific parenting classes depending on the age of your child, to cooking, to marriage classes like Jill & Mark Savage's class Is There Really Sex After Kids?, to updating your mommy wardrobe!", says Melissa Lierman.
Such numbers and such scope reveal not only a deep thirst for knowledge by so many women eager to be better moms. They also reveal a deep "in-tune-ness" by Jill and her organization with the needs of moms, the kind that only comes from having "been there" herself. Workshops are offered on topics like anger management, laughter, and discipline. "Mothers around the world face similar challenges," said Brenda Paccamonti, chief resource officer for Hearts at Home. "Every mother—no matter what country or culture—struggles with the same things. The core issues of motherhood are the same and that includes being undervalued as a mother, finding balance and dealing with anger," said Paccamonti.
Motherhood is indeed a blessing and, if done well, a heavy responsibility. If it were not so, there would be no need for the Hearts at Home conferences, or the books and advice Jill so graciously provides. But it is, ultimately, also a great honor. Follow these links to find out more about Jill, Hearts at Home, her booksand her Twitter and Facebook pages.
What makes your house a home? What do you value most when you're at home?