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Focus is Fertilizer: “If I focused on the growth, my heart was full.”

Each week, we are excited to introduce you to parents who are able to finish the sentence, “Things began to change when….” These stories of transformation are made possible because of the ongoing generosity of our Donor Team. This week, meet the Nyvall Family from Oregon.

Nyvall Family YE Profile 1

I was introduced to Connected Families during a weeklong workshop with Jim, Lynne, and Chad at the Okoboji Bible Conference ten years ago. It was everything I wanted to be as a parent of very small children, and the world was an oyster as a 30-year-old mom who left her career to be a stay-at-home mom planning to homeschool.

I was calm, patient, and diligent in these early years, and though I worked hard, it was so much fun to be a mom. I loved our days together, and I smiled and was relaxed at the debacles we sometimes got ourselves into. We were in a small, well-connected community, family wasn’t too far away, and our church was healthy, tight-knit, and supportive. All was well.

I was barely recovered from the birth of our third child when we had a sudden job change and had to pick up our lives and move from small-town Iowa to Portland, Oregon, with three small children. With the intense transition to the city, losing everything we were familiar with, as well as family support, things went from hard to difficult to worse in a matter of a year. With my daughter’s sensitivities (including food sensitivities), my son’s intensities, and my own health issues and anxiety, I sort of became unraveled.

“Things began to change when I realized Focus is Fertilizer. When I focused on the struggle, I found despair. If I focused on the growth, my heart was so full.”

Amy Nyvall

I had to go back to my foundation and remember what I had learned in that workshop with Jim and Lynne: that I had to be able to do what I was asking my kids to do. Because of this, we spent so much time on FOUNDATION work and CONNECTION. After a pretty traumatic couple of years with so much stress, it took time to build that.

After a while, I was able to start focusing on the message you are CALLED and CAPABLE by helping my children see their “potential” and a “strengths-based” approach, they began to beam with potential.

Finally, as the first three levels of the Framework became stronger, I could start giving more attention to the “You are RESPONSIBLE.” level of the Framework.

Focusing on growing wisdom

It has been such a joy to help our kids think about their choices and grow in wisdom as they make it right as compared to the more traditional punitive approach, which has done nothing more than add shame and disconnect. Here is one of my favorite stories that illustrates this concept so well:

My boys were fighting over the swing in the garage one weekend afternoon, and one child wound the swing way too tight despite the appeals to stop. Too-fast spinning ensued, making the other brother sad and a bit scared. Leaning into our foundation and the Peace Process we allowed everyone to calm down. We came together and talked about it and found understanding. However, the solution felt far away, with one brother not wanting to “make it right”.

We had a movie night planned, but in an effort to “make space for the more important things,” we quietly forwent the video and hung out together, playing as a family. It did build space to help our son see that “Make-It-Rights” don’t have to be awkward or difficult, they can be fun! He ended up asking his brother if he could have a “redo” on the swing, and they ended up swinging and practicing doing it in an honoring way several times. They had so much fun together, giggling as they went, and we all had a special evening together.

I could share so many stories about all the grace-filled truths that I’ve internalized. But things really began to change when I realized that Focus is Fertilizer. If I focused on the struggle, I found despair. If I focused on the growth, my heart was so full. What a difference that makes!


Parents all over the world are experiencing “aha” moments of grace when things begin to change. Change in their hearts, their parenting motivation, their long-term parenting goals, and the way they see their kids. Donate and make change today!

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