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Entries in Kate Hagen (4)


3 Steps to Joy for Young Mothers

Kate Hagen's desire to help mothers is an outgrowth of her counseling ministry; but more than that, she loves young moms and feels compassion for their struggles. In this Personal Care UPGRADE, she suggests three ways young mothers can include more joy in their lives.

Kate says, "I wish I could go back and tell myself these three things." 

Oh, Kate got me (Dawn) there! So many things I'd tell my younger self, now that I'm seeing life from a more seasoned point of view!

Kate continues . . . 

Yesterday I was reading a journal from my early years of motherhood. As I read my old entries, I was heavy hearted as I remembered all the guilt and desperation I felt—always wishing I was doing better.  

I want to go back to that Kate and give her a hug.

I want to tell her:

  1. Enjoy your kids more!
  2. Release guilt about not feeling connected to God.
  3. You're doing the best you can right now! And it's enough.

If Kate from 10 years ago could spare 15 minutes, I would expound by telling her about these three steps to joy. 

But I would make it quick, because there would be a child to run after at any minute!

1. Enjoy your kids!


Look for God's image in them. When you see them in the morning, and you're a Zombie monster due to a terrible night's sleep, look into their big eyes and think, "You are made in the image of God."

I promise, it will help! God’s loving image is there, even when they won't let you go to the bathroom by yourself.

One of the best mom verses is I Peter 4:8, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins."

Yes, my kid's sins (shortcomings) are covered as I love them, and SEE God's love in them.

Be your kid’s biggest cheerleader.

I remember deciding I wanted to be seen by my kids as a cheerleader more than a police. It was a life-changing decision that positively affected my relationship with my kids immensely.

As much as possible, be slow to anger and slow to speak, and instead be quick to listen and quick to forgive.

 These contrasting ideas will really help you enjoy your kids more. It’s a guarantee.

Have these be your rules: less talk; more listening. Don't worry if you break them. You will. But, have them be your standard. (God does.)

2. Release guilt about not feeling connected to God.  

I spent so much time and ink feeling bad about not being close to God.

It's good to cry out to God. It's very Psalmist!

But I think I often missed the joy God was trying to give me by longing for it to come the way it used to. Before kids. 

I wanted the old, deep, spiritual connection I had when I was 20 and had all the time in the world to spend in meditation. This was NOT possible during this season. 

Letting this expectation go, and enjoying the ways God WAS showing up, might have brought me a lot more joy. Looking for things to be grateful for, writing them down and speaking them aloud could have changed my joy-level greatly!  

Some of the ways God was showing up for me when my three kids were constantly needing me—and I had no time to meditate: 

  • In my baby's laughter
  • In chunky thighs (If God's not there, I don't know where God is!)
  • In sweaty hands grabbing for mine
  • In baby arms gripping the back of my neck

3. You’re doing the best you can right now. And it’s enough. 

"I'm not being the best mom/wife/friend I want to be."

That's true! Let that be true. And let that be okay.

It's really just an ego-centered thought. It's focused on you, not the other person. Feeling guilty that you're not enough isn't helping anyone! It's not a Jesus thought.

Let it come—it's ok that it's there—and then let it go.  

You're not being the best mom in the world. True! But, treat yourself the way God does. Be gracious with yourself. Forgive yourself for not being perfect.  

I'd like to go back to that old Kate, give her a hug and tell her what a good job she's doing. Remind her to constantly be looking for ways to enjoy her kids. Encourage her to treat herself the way God treats her... full of compassion, mercy and love.  

What would you go back and tell yourself?

Kate Hagen spends most of her time teaching, knowing and loving her three kids in their beach community of Leucadia, CA. She has a Master’s Degree in Biblical Counseling and has written, spoken and counseled women about mothering, body image and health. She runs a small essential oil business from her home, and usually smells pretty good. At her website you can read her journey of grieving and laughing as her mom passed of cancer, as well as her thoughts on the Bible and body image. 

Graphic adapted, courtesy of svklimkin at Morguefile.


3 Simple Steps to Setting Boundaries

Kate Hagen, a counselor and businesswoman, loves to share helpful information that can help women thrive in their walk with the Lord. In this Choices UPGRADE, she sugests three things to do to set wise and loving boundaries.

"It’s not rude to set boundaries," Kate says. "In fact, it’s one of the kindest things you can do."

I (Dawn) agree with Kate in concept, but I don't always know HOW to set a wise boundary, so I truly appreciated Kate's insight here.

Kate continues . . .

Traditionally, I have not set boundaries with my friends. It has seemed unkind or rude to tell others how to treat me.

Honestly, it’s felt too hard. What will they think of me?

But I'm beginning to understand that healthy boundaries derive from love, not fear; kindness, not rudeness.

Perhaps the most useful piece of information I've gained about boundaries is this:

Discovering and communicating my boundaries will be uncomfortable and possibly hurtful in the SHORT RUN, but it will save me a LIFETIME of pain, hiding and resentment!

Here's are three steps that have helped me set life-giving boundaries:

1. Decide what your core values are.

Who are you? What do you value? Figure out what, exactly, you're comfortable with and what you aren't.

I made a list! One for general core values and one specific to my business. If you've never done this, I highly recommend it.

It was eye-opening to me.

Now that I have a list, I know WHY I should say no at times. If something is in contrast to my core values, I can confidently (and kindly) say no.

Even though Jesus probably didn’t have to make a list of his core values, Luke says Jesus “often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16).

He didn’t let himself get burned out with healing people; He took breaks and got close to Abba Father again!

2. Stick with your boundaries.

This is not easy for me. I am prone to say one thing and do another.

Sadly, this is one way to quickly get someone to question your character or authenticity. I am deeply convicted by this and so grateful to have God changing me.

It's helpful to think of there being only two options: YES and NO.

"Yes, I want to do this!"

or, "No, that doesn't feel right this time."

This helps me stick to my boundaries when I narrow it down to these two options.

Jesus says to let your yes be yes, and your no be no! (Matthew 5:37)

3. Clearly and kindly communicate your boundaries.

If your boundaries haven't been communicated to those around you in a way others understand, it won't matter much that you have boundaries.

I find it's easier to communicate boundaries when I approach it as honoring my values.

For instance, if someone asks me to do something Monday night, I know my answer. I say, "I would love to hang out with you, but can we choose another night? I have reserved that night as family night, and that's something we really value and honor in our house."

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).

These three steps are simple, yet have had a profound impact on my life!

Remember that discovering and communicating your boundaries will be uncomfortable and possibly hurtful IN THE SHORT RUN, but it will save you a LIFETIME of pain, hiding and resentment.

It’s not rude. In fact, it’s one of the kindest things you can do!

Which, if any, of these three steps is a struggle for you? Do you agree that setting boundaries is a kind and loving choice?

Kate Hagen spends most of her time teaching, knowing and loving her three kids in their beach community of Leucadia, CA. She has a Master’s Degree in Biblical Counseling and has written, spoken and counseled women about mothering, body image and health. She runs a small essential oil business from her home, and usually smells pretty good. At her website you can read her journey of grieving and laughing as her mom passed of cancer, as well as her thoughts on the Bible and body image. 

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Jill 111 at Pixabay.


Three Things God Says about Food

I got to know Kate Hagen as we grieved together after her mom's passing. I read her thoughts and recognized she was a excellent writer. I've since discovered her love of God's Word. In this Health UPGRADE, Kate invites us to examine lies we might believe about food. Actually, Kate's full title for this post is "Three Things God Says about Food (and How It Can Make You Happy)."

Kate says, "There is a voice that whispers lies in my ears: 'Being thin will satisfy me. Eating will make me happy.'”

I (Dawn) am glad Kate had the courage to confront that voice so she can share some biblical wisdom with others who struggle.

Kate continues . . .

When I was eight, I discovered something bad about myselfI was chubby. It was a new, undeveloped shame, but, it was a growing one. I learned if I could just be skinny, I would be happy.

Now, over 30 years later, I fight that belief. But, it still lingers.

When I see a woman who is thin and fit, there’s a little voice in my head whispering, “Kate, you’d be happier if you looked like her. When you finally lose five pounds you’ll be satisfied." (Some years it’s been a lot more than five pounds.)

At times, I have lost that weight. And, you know what, I wasn’t happier. Not really.

There’s another voice.

This one tells me food will satisfy me and bring me life. It tempts, “Kate, if you get up and get a bag of potato chips, you’ll feel happy.”

I have obeyed that voice many times. It never makes me happy.

Are these voices from God? Do the Bible authors write about how we should eat, drink or view our bodies?

I’ve spent a lot of time digging in Scripture to find these answers. I have found three  recurring truths I can no longer ignore.

1. God gave me a body so that I can reflect His image.

This humbles me when I quietly reflect on its magnificence. God has placed within me a representation of Him. Others “see” God’s image through my physical body. I mirror God! (Genesis 1:27)

Woah. That’s a lot more lofty than being hopeful I can look cute in my bathingsuit.

2. God gave me food as a blessing—to be enjoyed and to draw me to gratitude.

Although there are certain foods some of us should be cautious of, Scripture says food does not commend us to God (1 Corinthians 8:8). He’s not happier with me when I eat spinach instead of cookies. It’s what comes out of my mouth and heart that matters (Mark 7:19).

Food is one of the gifts God gives me—a blessing that can draw me into worship of the One who provides! (Deuteronomy 8:10)

3. God's food is eternal.

Feasting on the Spirit of Jesus is what truly nourishes and fills me. It is food that lasts forever! (John 6:1-15; 25-69)

Therefore, we don’t need to worry about what we eat or drink! (Matthew 6:25). The thought of NEVER worrying about what I’m eating is so freeing. I think I’ll follow Jesus on this one!

When I’m tempted to eat when I’m not hungry, I now shout over the whispering lie:

“Food will not satisfy me! Jesus’ Spirit satisfies my soul.”  

All of the times I’ve been overweight, it’s been because I was eating when I wasn’t hungry. Now I know I was eating like this to satisfy some lack I was feeling; I believed that somehow food would satisfy.

But, Food DOES NOT SATISFY MY SOUL!  It satisfies my hunger. Only Jesus can satisfy my soul (John 6:35).

Here's a practical tip.

Only eat when you’re hungry. If you’re eating when you’re not hungry, question what your soul is lacking. It’s your soul, not your stomach that needs to be filled if you eat when unnecessary. But, don’t view this as law; it’s merely a principle that leads us to Jesus (our true food).

When that other voice tempts, “I’ll be happier when I’m thinner," I sometimes have the courage to shout over the whispering lie. I say, Being thin will not make me happy!

When WILL I be happy if it’s not when I’m thinner?

The crazy thing is, I can be happy NOW, before I look good in a bathing suit. Why? Because God’s Spirit is in me. I have been seen and known by God. Jesus has shown me a perfect way to be human. That’s good news that brings me true, deep, real happiness.

Here's another practical tip.

The moment you feel yourself envying someone else’s body or longing to be thinner, let the phrase repeat in your head, “Being thin won’t make me happy. Loving Jesus makes me happy.”

Jesus so beautifully said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” (Matthew 6:25)

What do you tell your soul when those whispering lies come?

Kate Hagen spends most of her time teaching, knowing and loving her three kids in their beach community of Leucadia, CA. She has a Master’s Degree in Biblical Counseling and has written, spoken and counseled women about mothering, body image and health. She runs a small essential oil business from her home, and usually smells pretty good. At her website you can read her journey of grieving and laughing as her mom passed of cancer, as well as her thoughts on the Bible and body image.

Graphics adapted: "Whisper" (cupped ear), courtesy of Morguefile, and Cinnamon rolls courtesy of Adam Kontor at Pixabay.


7 Ways to Be a Woman of JOY!

Kate Hagen is a gifted and insightful writer with a heart for women's issues. On her blog, she took readers on her journey of grief, insight and joy as her precious mom struggled with cancer. In this Attitude UPGRADE, she shares part of the the incredible character that made up Peggy Leslie.

“On my mom’s gravestone it reads ‘Woman of Joy,’” Kate says.

I (Dawn) already wrote a tribute to Kate's mom last year, but as we near the anniversary of her home-going, I asked Kate to share some of the things her mom did on a regular basis that made her such a joy-filled woman of God—earning that gravestone tribute.

Kate continues...

It’s no small thing to me that I was raised by a joyful mom. 

Of course I didn’t appreciate it as a kid. Yet, as I approach the one-year anniversary of her death, I am in awe of the joy she had throughout life and throughout cancer, and I am inspired to be more like her.

Here are 7 ways my mom was a woman of joy (and how you can be too).

1. Always Be Interested in Others.

The second you walked into Mom’s house, she would stop what she was doing, grab your face, look you in the eyes, and welcome you.

And, although she often complained about forgetting things, she had an uncanny ability to remember details about everyone’s lives.

She wouldn’t just say hello. She would ask about the last conversation you had and let you know she’d been praying for you. Somehow she made everyone feel like the most important person on earth.

Joy builder: "Let each of you look no only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others" (Phil 2:4).

2. Be “Game” for Everything.

The answer to all requests we made of Mom were an enthusiastic, “Yes!” She did almost everything any of her 5 kids or 12 grandkids asked her to do. She only reluctantly said no if she already had plans. Even if she didn’t feel like doing the activity you asked her do, she did it so that she could BE with and ENJOY you.

Joy builder: "As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace" (I Peter 4:10).

3. Pray and Read the Bible without Stopping.

Mom was faithful in her morning routine of Bible reading, prayer and journaling.

Each of her kids had a special prayer day (affectionately called SPD) where she prayed especially for us. A text or phone call would inevitably come that day as she talked to God about us.

This was a vital beginning to her morning - a time when she asked God to help her be more joyful.

Joy builder: "Pray without ceasing" (I Thes 5:17).

4. Do What You Enjoy.

Although Mom was constantly serving others and looking to their needs above her own, she also took a lot of personal breaks.

She loved a glass of coke, Snickers bar and a good book. The two places you’d be most likely to find her were in her big, comfy recliner reading, or at her beautiful office desk writing.

Both of those things gave her joy and she made sure to do them almost every day.

Joy builder: "If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself,' you are doing well" (James 2:8).

5. Don’t Give Up Looking for Joyful Solutions.

Mom was never defeated!

If something wasn’t going as she hoped, or she didn’t have all the resources she needed, she loudly proclaimed, “There’s almost always something you can do!”

She was hilariously resourceful and didn’t let troubles define her; she found solutions for problems.

She looked for joy!

Joy builder: "Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come" (Prov 31:25).

6. Don’t Be "Normal."

Mom was not afraid to be her unique self. She was not like other moms; she was fully HER.

I remember complaining about something strange she did, and she replied, “Would you want a mom who’s normal?” Well, yes. In Jr. High I did.

But, now, I’m so grateful she didn’t give into the pressure to be like those around her. She appreciated whom God had made her to be and she lived it fully and joyfully!  

Joy builder: "I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well" (Psalm 139:14).

7. Don’t Worry; You’re in the Lord’s Hands.

Her famous quote throughout cancer was, “I’m in the Lord’s hands.”  She literally said this hundreds of times.

As I’ve read through her journals, I see she told herself this over and over as well.

She believed, without a shadow of doubt, that God was holding her. That God loved her. That God was sustaining her. She loved Him and trusted Him so deeply. And this brought her joy.

She was not afraid of cancer or death at all. Her attitude was, “Why should I be? I’m in the Lord’s hands!”

Joy builder: "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble" (Matt 6:34).

Mom is STILL a Woman of Joy!

"You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore" (Psalm 16:11).

I would be honored if my mom’s life and death encouraged you to become a greater woman of joy.

Let me know which of these is most difficult for you and how you hope to grow in that area. I’d love for us to encourage each other together in this pursuit of JOY!

Kate Hagen spends most of her time teaching, knowing and loving her three kids in their beach community of Leucadia, CA. She has a Master’s Degree in Biblical Counseling and has written, spoken and counseled women about mothering, body image and health. She runs a small essential oil business from her home, and usually smells pretty good. At her website you can read her journey of grieving and laughing as her mom passed of cancer, as well as her thoughts on the Bible and body image.