What could have ruined our marriage

and how God’s grace intervened

During our 30+ years of marriage we had occasionally heard of couples ending their marriage due to infidelity. But, for whatever reason, in 2015 Lynne and I heard story after story of marriages falling apart caused by affairs. It broke our hearts. And we knew it could have been us. So we talked and prayed and talked some more – and we decided to share our story.

It’s a story of how God’s grace intercepted what could have been much worse than it was, and the choices we both made to walk in grace towards each other. Our purpose in resharing this is twofold: to plant seeds that could prevent an affair, and to encourage you in your own marriage if you are currently in the midst of this struggle.

For the one confessing:  How I avoided a full blown affair

For the one receiving the news: How I responded when my spouse confessed attraction for someone else.

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Break the Yelling Habit

7 Practical Ways to Bring Lasting Change

Almost every parent yells. Some more than others. Regrettably, I (Jim) was probably on the side of more than average yelling. It went something like this:

My child did or said something I didn’t like and I felt irritated. In my irritation I said in a firm voice, “Stop it!” It wasn’t technically yelling, but may as well have been. My child felt my negative energy and matched or maybe exceeded my volume. Repeat. Then, as the volume increased, since I was the biggest, scariest yeller, I usually ended up defeating my child. I eventually got what I wanted and figured I’d won.

Until it kept happening and the kids grew colder toward me.

As a parent coach for the last decade, I (Lynne) have never met one parent that feels good about habitually yelling at their kids. One client named Dave* summarized what I often hear: “I came from a long line of yellers, and I’m doing the same thing. I’d really like to stop, but it’s harder than I thought.” Like so many parents, Dave’s good intentions weren’t enough. The triggers kept triggering and Dave kept yelling, until he learned a few new ideas to help break the cycle.  

Tired of Not Feeling Christian Enough?

This is for you

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” – Jeremiah 29:13

I remember the sign on the men’s dorm wall during my freshman year at a Christian college.

A spiritual disciplines checklist was posted for us to keep track of our “progress” (monitored by a well-meaning resident assistant). I am wired for variety, not daily routines, and I felt ashamed every time I missed checking off the boxes in the “Jim J.” section: daily devotional time, prayer, fellowship, witnessing, tithing. (At least I got tithing – 10% of 0 income.)

I felt ashamed that I wasn’t measuring up, even to the point of checking boxes just so no one would know that I wasn’t making very good Christian progress. Good thing there was no box to check about honesty.

Need vs Want

How one word can change parenting habits

I plopped down on the couch with a friend and lamented about my latest parenting challenge. “I just need to learn to calmly follow through with a clear consequence. I keep getting in this nagging cycle. I need to stop it!”

My statement was similar to a hundred others I’d made or have heard other parents make about parenting such as…

  • “I need to be more patient.”
  • “I need to learn to stand my ground when my kids start whining.”
  • “I need to not let them push my buttons so much!”

My friend looked at me with a sly grin. “You need to learn that? Or do you want to learn that?”

“Huh? I dunno. I guess I want to,” dutifully picking the apparent right answer from her little multiple choice question. She relieved my obvious confusion by explaining that when we tell ourselves we need to change, it is rooted in anxiety and a shame-based belief: “I’m not okay as I am, so if I don’t change, I’ve failed.” This kind of thinking is a burden on our souls, weighed down by every new instance of failure that proves our defects.

Our top 5 posts of 2017

Every day, the staff of Connected Families goes to work, seeking the wisdom of God, and shaping our resources to fit what we think our readers, parents like you, need most. We spend hours writing, editing, and discussing our content, making sure we do our best to communicate God’s grace and truth for families. At the end of the day, we hear from you through comments on our social media feeds, or through email responses, but we don’t know for sure what lands most until the end of the year when we take a look at our stats.

What did parents of 2017 find most relevant for their family? What parenting resources were they frequently seeking out on the internet? The algorithms have been crunched, and below are the top five blog posts clicked most often in 2017 in descending order. Which one resonates most for you? We’d love to hear!

And then, share your favorite article with your friends or parenting groups you are part of! Our marketing dollars are limited, and word of mouth is simply the best!

5. Six Practical Tips to Tame Your Temper

4. Intense Kids: The Essential First Step in Responding to Big Emotions

3. Helping Kids with their Anger: A creative activity to reduce outbursts and prepare kids for healthy relationships

2. Should We Demand Immediate Obedience?

1.  Are You An Emotionally Safe Parent?

Christmas greetings from Connected Families

Messes. You’re likely surrounded by a bunch of them. Piles of dishes in the kitchen. Wrapping paper on the floor. Tired and over-sugared children. Stressed relationships. Just like parenting, Christmas is both messy, and beautiful.

Today we celebrate Jesus coming into our messy, beautiful world. To meet us exactly where we are and to draw us into a relationship with God, our heavenly Father.

At Connected Families, we strive every day to meet parents exactly where they are in their parenting journey. To meet them in the mess. To encourage, to challenge. To celebrate and see the beauty in even the smallest parenting successes.

Our deepest heart’s desire is for parents to embrace God’s grace so they can pass that grace onto their children in the messiest of messes. And then, prayerfully, kids will be attracted to a relationship with Christ as they see their parents living out their faith in the messes and the beauty of daily life.

Whether you’ve been following Connected Families for years or are new to our mailing list (welcome!) we are honored to join you in your parenting journey. We wish you and your loved ones a beautiful Christmas celebration.

Jim and Lynne Jackson
Connected Families


Family Gatherings

Who's in Charge?

Large family holiday gatherings can be tough for lots of reasons. Over-stimulated, over-sugared,  over-excited and under-slept kids are simply going to struggle. But there may also be some relational dynamics that complicate things when you all get together. See if you relate to this pattern:

  1. You feel anxious around the watchful, possibly critical eye of parents or other relatives.
  2. You work harder to keep kids in line and are tougher on them than usual.
  3. Your kids (who are already extra stressed) sense your angst and act up more.
  4. Gramma or Grampa (or others) intervene to keep youngsters in line, with good intentions but unhelpful strategies.
  5. You feel embarrassed, undermined, and maybe frustrated or resentful.
  6. Kids watch the power struggle between the adults and are left feeling more stressed and insecure than ever.
  7. Repeat.

Is the holiday stew smelling rotten yet? If so, this post is for you.

Questions to Put the THANKS Back in Thanksgiving

“So, kids, what are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?” you ask.

“My family, my house, my friends, my dog and Jesus.” (Same answers as last year….)

If you think your kids might be open to some deeper thinking this year, we’ve provided a handful of conversation starters about gratitude. We invite you try any or all of them and put a little bigger dose of gratitude in your Thanksgiving season:  

How I Helped My Baby Sleep Without a Sleep Method

Did you find this blog because you Googled, “How do I get my baby to sleep through the night?” Well then, my friend, soak in this moment of knowing…this is NOT your magic bullet to deep nourishing sleep. At Connected Families, we don’t believe in quick fixes. We believe in lasting change. We believe in seeking the Holy Spirit, and the hard work that brings rich connection between parent and child.

If you have been following our work for a while, you are familiar with the Connected Families Framework. Over the last two years, while working behind the scenes I couldn’t help but memorize and internalize these four levels of parent/child connection. I assumed it would come in handy in my parenting journey, but I was not expecting to apply it so early!

Struggling with a disobedient child? We can help.

You’ve been hearing us talk about the Discipline That Connects Online Course for a few weeks. But do you still have questions? We’ve got answers!

What is the structure of the course?
There are six sessions that are pre-recorded and available to you on your schedule! You can start taking the course as soon as you register. This means that you can take it day or night and go through the course as fast as you want. The six sessions are streaming videos with reflection questions interspersed. We highly encourage course participants to leave comments throughout the course, but don’t require comments to move to the next session.

How long does each session take?
Each session takes between 45 and 75 minutes to complete. There are approximately 45 minutes of video for each session. The balance of the time is used for reflection and to answer questions. You can break it up to fit your schedule because it is always there for you!

Read our full list of FAQs here.

Read below from parents who have been challenged and encouraged in their parenting journey.