No Longer Legal

No Longer Legal

On one particular “girl nights” this past summer I played one of those question games where you get to know people better. Things like, “If you were a unicorn what would you do?” or “If we were all in a fire who would be best equipped to handle the exit strategy?” All of these questions were really funny but the answers made them even funnier! This little game however led my husband and I to use one of the questions in a very different capacity.

As most of you know, we speak, write and encourage couples on relationship success, lifestyle, and high performance living.  One of the questions on that specific night loaned itself to some incredible insight.

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“If you could make one legal thing no longer legal what would it be?” 

The answers on the night of that ladies trip were broad and humorous. What was interesting was that this particular question sat in my mind for a while. It kept coming back up for me but in totally different ways. It caused me to think further and more profoundly on the matter of what we choose to allow to dictate space and ideas as ok in our lives.

The thought that I kept coming back to was, what we allow to be “legal” in our lives that shouldn’t be. Things we absorb and the things we deem ok. These ideas and concepts that  for whatever reason we just take as fact and acceptable. They are not good, right, or beneficial in any way. Things  and phrases like “marriage is hard,” verbal assault under the blanket of “constructive feedback,” violence in any form, hate, malnutrition. All of these things are things we should deem “No Longer Legal.”

When I rattle off this list most of us would say we would love to have all of those things eradicated from our lives.  Yet, personally we malnourish ourselves all the time, we hate any and every single opinion that is different from our own, and we orally assault ourselves with negativity that we would never ever let anyone else say.

So I ask again, What legal thing should you make no longer legal in your life? Not in any way should you accept this, not from others or from your self. Choose to say enough.

Things like:

  • verbal assault
  • hate
  • negative venting
  • gossip
  • malnutrition
  • substance medicating
  • rudeness
  • judgement
  • unhealthy thoughts that don’t serve you
  • negative feedback
  • arrogance

None of these things are loving. And like Carrie Underwood says: “We believe that in the end love wins!”

Creating Exceptional standards for what we are going to allow in our lives will help us to live more fully! So what standards are you making for yourself and for your relationships?

Galatians 5: 22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
+++ If you enjoy these concepts and would like to have Steve and Kate as special guests on a podcast, blog, or to speak at an event near you go checkout An Exceptional Romance for further information on how to engage with these authors!

For the Love of Books and Relationships

For the Love of Books and Relationships

 

 

I heard once that 82% of the world has at least one book idea, some have many more. Only 20% of people move past that phase and go on to the next. To write it and to publish. I am one of those stats. When we first started on this journey, we never thought it would be what it is today. We are humbled and over joyed!

I claim myself a writer. A blogger. And an avid reader. However my blog is a small audience and my claim of “writer” was because I write almost everyday in a private journal. I read but I am not as fast as I would like. I have more books in my “want to read” list as much as I have actually read. I have files on my computer for novel’s and book ideas.

Ann Lamot would say “mostly its all trash.”

I always dreamed I would write a book and have it published. Floating out there in the world  of “one day”, I could also claim the title that I was a “visionary” and a dreamer too. It was just a dream and a far off one at that. One of those pie in sky, may never really happen kinda things.

One day on a date, my husband who encourages me the most pushed the button of one day to “lets make it today”.

We cannot tell you how thrilled we are to have this small part of our journey written down! Initially, this was going to be written for our children. Just a small snapshot of the things, we believe, that can set you up for the best romantic relationship possible.

As we continually talked about the content to friends, publishers, and young people, we were encouraged to write it for more than our two kids. We heard from many that despite hundreds of relationship books out there, the need is still great. 

It is a short manual of sorts. We wanted this book to be a quick read and a powerful punch that anyone could get a hold of and use for their benefit. Our viewpoints are Biblically based, infused with real life stories, and has a culturally informed premise. We offer feasible life application that ensues success as you cultivate something unique in your relationship. By choosing to walk out the concepts outlined in this book, we hope to help inspire by empowering you in your romance. 

This is our journey of a dream. From the idea all the way to full on published authors. We hope it inspires you on how you too can put your idea out into the world!

  • Write. We started on napkins at a restaurant high top but the point is just get it out from your head and make it tangible.
  • Ask someone if it s a good idea before moving forward. We talked to some very strategic people in our life to make sure this was something they thought would be good for us to venture into. You need to find someone who can be fully honest with you. “Is it a good idea? Is this the right time? If nobody likes it would you still write it?”
  • Write more. Once you have decided to go all in on it, write. Then write some more. We started with a motivational speech really. That became our introduction. We took some of our blogs on the ideas and concepts we wanted to elaborate on and then wrote a proposal. After that we wrote and wrote. Lots of it was not used. Ans we wrote on chapters that ultimately we shifted and had the other write instead. Be prepared for this.
  • Have a co author or accountability partner. I would not have ever put it out there if it wasn’t for my husband. It would still be sitting on my desk unedited. he on the other hand would probably have never started the process. Having someone to be accountable to made all the difference.
  • Create a cover design. We spent some time really thinking about the design and look we wanted for our book. If you want it to grab people make sure it would grab you and of course that you love it!
  • 99Designs. We took our ideas to a company that then formatted 100’s of different ideas for our book and paid the extra money to make it happen. this was by far one of the best ideas we did! They formatted it for paperback and for kindle versions. We recommend them to everyone!
  • Meet with as many authors and publicist as possible! Ask lots of questions. We ended up meeting with over six different authors and four different publishing houses to learn as much as possible about this process and all the different approaches you can take.
  • Edit. This is my least favorite part. personally. I am horrible at editing. It is time consuming and reveals my flaws like nothing else.
  • Have a friend edit. Pick someone who will comb through it and kindly give you feed back. Preferably someone who is excellent at grammar.
  • Higher an actual editor. This is not a step I would ever skip. I know that there are many places now where you can just upload your work but if you want it to be done well and to be an enjoyable read for more than just your mom you must choose to invest in professional editor!
  • re-read. As you do this you will go through so many emotions! You be so proud and then you will thing everything you wrote is garbage! Just read. Make some notes think about it and talk to your co-author or the team behind you.
  • re-write entire sections due to the re read.
  • Find a publicist and launch as well as you know how. You only know who you know, and what you know. A pub-list can help you reach wider than that. Do your best and allow God to use it however it is suppose to be used. Don’t fret about sales, reviews, or the fear of being buried in a saturated market. You did your part. Continue to do so and leave the rest to God.
  • CELEBRATE! After everything it is hard not to get wrapped up in the next project or relive the relief that it is done. Do not forget to give yourself the acknowledgment of your accomplishment!

If you are interested in reading our book or supporting us in anyway with this project go to Amazon, Lulu.com, Or Barnes and Noble to order your copy today!! You can use any of the links above or go to An Exceptional Romance and order your copy today!

  • We hope that you will pass this book out to friends, co-workers, and small groups. Use them as birthday, wedding gifts, and Christmas presents. Help us sell books. It’s that simple! The only way new writers are ever heard of is by people like you and me shouting about it. By doing this you are supporting writers, the reading world, the publishing industry, and relationships everywhere! The hope is that this book will encourage, equip, and give life!

Thank you for your confidence and support in this project. We are honored to see how our simple story and thoughts might bless others to do the same things in their romances and with their dreams.

Happy Reading!

How to say “Yes and No” to Optimize Your Relationships

I am very good at saying the word “no”. I say that not to boast but because I have two friends that say it to me a lot. “Your very good at saying no.” These are loving people who think the best of me and mean well. They are giving me a compliment. Basically they are saying they admire my discipline to say “No” to things that are not going to benefit me and my family. Sometimes the no is for “not right now” and sometimes it is a no for forever. Saying NO is a very good skill to be able to have. It creates space in your life. It takes a ton of discipline to do well. There are so may wonderful things I’d love to do right now that I have had to say no to. All of them are wonderful things!

Here is the secret I use when it is so hard to say no. When you want to help the teacher out at school but you know you don’t have the bandwidth, or run the half marathon despite your knee is giving you issues and you have a nursing baby. What about when you want to go on a trip you can’t really afford. (All of these things have come up personally in the last month for me, besides a nursing baby 😉 ) There is a certain tool I use that helps do this the best. What is the the secret for when you want to learn french but also read piles of novels, be available for tennis lessons, yoga and a small group? The concept that changes everything is: Focus on saying “YES”.

It might sound counter productive but it is a perspective shift that will change your life. I don’t see myself as a “no” person. No is a catchy word that is really in right now. I mean it is as much a thing as productivity journals and pumpkin spice lattes. If you are anywhere near the self-help industry or a mom circle in any way you hear about this often. Personally, I believe the focus on this is overrated. My girlfriends say it is because I can say it that it isn’t really a big deal for me. I have another theory. When my friends seem overwhelmed or have said “Yes” to too much, they are talking to me about my ability to say no as a gift. I think they have it confused. No, is so you can say Yes!

I don’t focus on saying no. To me it has a negative view point. “No I can’t help.” “No, No, Don’t do that.” “No, we aren’t going out tonight, we already ate out this week.”  “No, you can’t do five sport activities this summer.” “No, I am not available.”

Instead I focus on what I am saying Yes to. “We are not going out tonight because we are gonna get to go to the beach next week and eat out everyday!!” “I can’t help with ______, because I am already helping with _____, and I am really passionate about ______.”  “I am not gonna do five extra curricular things this fall because instead we are going to go hiking, camping, pick apples, find a sunflower field and learn to bike ride!”

I tell my clients that if they can’t say no, the world will fill them up so much that they will never be able to say Yes to what they are meant for. Instead of focusing on all the “No’s” in your life – what you can’t do, say, be apart of, fix, or buy, let’s focus on your “Yes.”

  • What are you saying “yes” to?
  • What or who do you want to say yes to more?

But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’… Mathew 5:37

For me, My biggest Yes is always to my husband. Then my kids and so forth. What I mean is that if I can say Yes to them, I do. If I can’t it is my red flag I haven’t said No somewhere where I should have.

Example: Let’s say my husband says “Can we have sex tonight?”

If my answer is “No” to my husband, what have I said yes to that day that has helped create that answer? Did I say yes to too much tv and now it is too late? Did I say yes to giving too much attention to my crying toddler? (Who is perfectly capable of soothing himself.) Now I have no energy. Have I said yes to too much work and chores and not enough “yes” to a workout and me time and now I want to read in bed instead?

  • Who are the people you want to always say yes to? Ex: husband, family, sister, a certain friend
  • What are the top things in your life you never want to say No to? Ex: Exercise, healthy eating, a certain charity, a certain vacation every year.

“Life is about who is holding your hand and, I think, whose hand you commit to holding.”  ― Taylor Jenkins Reid

 

Dear Journal

Dear Journal

Fall 2019

I have a head cold. I’ll be honest I’m happy about it. I can cancel on obligations and stay home from church. I can let me husband take charge without feeling like I am leaving him to do all the heavy lifting. I can exhale. No guilt involved. I can stay in my pj’s and drink tea all day without feeling like I am being lazy. I instead can give myself the thoughts that I am giving myself the gift of health and recovery.

I am learning the art of “being”. As I work on this, I realize I have been in a season where it’s not ok to do this. That in our world, “being” is considered irresponsibility with one’s time. However, my body, mind, and emotions are screaming for nothingness. I have been in a season of serving. A season where if I sit I must also be doing. Example. I sit down on the couch. If I do this, I must be watching something, texting someone, listening to or encouraging of…  But guess what? It is O.K. to not. To be proactive and to be doing constantly is exhausting. Exhausting to a level you can’t describe. You only know you have it.

But the world says:

“Create the things you wish existed.”

“I’ve got a dream worth more than my sleep.”

“Success is not owned it’s rented and the rent is due everyday.”

My head was killing me yesterday and so I stood in the kitchen dazed. With an ache that went far beyond my head. And for 10 solid blissful minutes I sipped my tea and watched my kids play “puppies”. (This is where one child gets down on all fours and pretends to be the puppy, running around playing and throwing my fall pillows everywhere, while the other child play’s the role of owner, taking care of the puppy and telling the puppy “No, NO! and sit”.)

As I stood there. Just stood, I could feel myself becoming rejuvenated. It was utter delight. 10 mintues of NOTHING. No emails. No texting. No instagram scrolling. No list making or menu planning. When was the last time I did that? When in my life have I taken the time and just received it? Where I didn’t try and push back or fill the space with something.

I read a quote a few days ago that said, “Less Hustle, More Grace.”  – Hilary Rushford. It spoke to my core. I am choosing this. More reading, less technology. More home time, less child extra curricular. More cooking, less running. More puzzles, less productive projects. More being, less doing.

I have piles and piles of blogs and posts and writings on doing, productivity, time managment and going the distance. After all, I am a personal coach. My job is all about motivation! But so often we fail. I fail. We fail to see, that in a world that screams “Go! Go! Do! Do!” God has been wispering to our hearts “You just have to be. Be Grateful. Be kind. Be Mine!”

This fall I am focusing on less. Less mess, chaos, and deadlines. Less exhaustion. The interesting fact is, that as I do this I gain more. More rhythm, more peace, more inspiration, more energy, more authenticity, more joy.

What are you focusing on this Fall?

 

Family Fun

Family Fun

 

A yellow leaf all crunchy around the edges. Nutmeg on the counter. A cozy colorful afgan. An orange pair of overalls. Red wine and cheese. Fall has arrived. And with it pumkin spice and everything nice! For me it is a nice shift from the summer heat into  a routine full of energy and color.

Summer conjures up lazy days of nothingness. As it is my favorite season the whole notion of  “An Endless Summer” sounds completly divine. I could get use to beach and seafood all year but alas the days of reading by the pool are at an end. The shift in the calendar brings about excitment for school supplies and apple picking. The season of pumpkins brings on a freshness with breezier days. The color of the sky’s seem to speak of the brightness that the world can hold as it lights up with all the golds and reds it has been holding onto for just this time in the year. Every view seems to drip with more luxury when its in gold and red hues. Don’t you think?

I personally end up with feelings of proactiveness. What do we, as a family, want to create in our days and time as we head into the end of the year? What do we still want to accomplish, see, experience? In this culture, it is important to find things that get us out of the house and from behind our desks.

These ideas (below) are for me to help my family get away from all the electronic devices. It is help in removing everyone from the busy work week. Most especially these activities are to get us away from the hussle and bustle that so often encircles the season shift. Most importantly it is to help us all Create Joy! 

I hope these thoughts spark your imagination in this colorful season of fall! I want to be clear that this is not things you “have to do”! These are iteams that you want to do. So much of adult life is spent on what you “have to” accomplish. So if I can inspire one thing for you this season it would be to focus a little more on things that bring quality to your life. Things that bring you comfort, and color your life just as much as the leaves falling from the trees.

“Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.” – Emily Bronte

Do you want to learn to make homeade pumpkin soup this year? Do you want to paint? Do you want to see a waterfall or go wine tasting? May this season be one that you create and do your “want to” list. Life is precious. Savor and soak it all in. Slow down and taste the flavors of the season.

  • Picnic in the park
  • Apple picking
  • Fall garden planting
  • An entire afternoon, reading on the back deck with ice tea and app’s
  • Concerts – at least two
  • A Camping trip
  • Hike two local trails
  • Pumpkin patch
  • Pizza and Puzzle night
  • Visit a Sunflower farm
  • Corn maze
  • Football party
  • Firepit night with s’mores and stories

 

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Seasonal Nourishment

Seasonal Nourishment

 

Summer life brings a freshness to it that makes my soul sing! But alas all good things must come to an end. School is back and football has started. Food shifts are one of the first things that start to show me that another season is approaching and another is ending. With the heat still very high in our southern state it can be hard to transition to fall menu’s and hearty meals. Most of us are still craving the taste’s of summer. Because of this I have compiled a list of some of our favorites for this in between time.

“Food matters because it’s one of the things that forces us to live in this world — this tactile, physical, messy, and beautiful world — no matter how hard we try to escape into our minds and our ideals. Food is a reminder of our humanity, our fragility, our createdness.”
Shauna Niequist, Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes

Breakfast idea:

Walnut Coffee Cake Quick Bread

This is a staple in our house. I can hardly keep it in stock when I make it. It is incredibly good with warm butter or with a cup of morning coffee. The original recipe is from Joanna Gaines but I have changed it bacuse personally it was just to many ingrediaents and steps.

*You need three bowls and a loaf pan. Cook for about 40 minutes at 350 degrees.

bowl one:

1/2 cup of light brown sugar

1 tablespoon all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon butter melted

1/4 cup of chopped walnuts. (I buy raw whole and crunch them with a fork)

Bowl two:

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cinnamon

Bowl three:

2 cups of bread flour (I use Arnold brand)

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

a dash of salt

little bit over one cup of buttermilk

1 egg

1/4 cup oil (I use olive or avocado)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

about 3/4 cup of walnuts. (I chop these minimally)

drop half of bowl three in your laof pan and then sprinkle all of bowl two on top. swirl with a knife to make marble look. drop rest of bowl three on top of mixture and then sprinkle bowl one one top. bake and enjoy.

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Lunch Idea:

Chicken Corn Salad

two cups of canned organic sweet corn

one package of chicken (about two servings) grilled and cubbed

cilantro-avacodo- olive oil -baby tomato’s- pesto sauce

mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Add fresh mozzarella – shredded

Rosmary Potaoes and green beans

I originally did this for our easter dinner meal but we love to make this ahead of time and eat it hot or cold!

boil red proptaoes until to your likeing

in a pan saute green beans with onion, scallions, and your choice of mushrooms (we use bella mostly) in avocado oil.

add cooked potatoes.

add salt, pepper and fresh rosmary. top with lemon garlic salad dressing.

 

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Appezizer idea:

Jalepeno Stuffed Peppers

slice peppers in half and throw away seeds

cover the center of pepper with cream cheese. Just the trough part. (If you over fill it will leak out all over your pan in the oven.)

wrap  entire pepper in bacon

lay them all out on a pan and cook in oven till bacon is crispy

Dinner Idea:

Paella

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet or paella pan over medium heat. Stir in garlic, red pepper flakes, and cooked rice. Cook, stirring, to coat rice with oil, about 3 minutes. Stir in saffron oil, a bay leaf, parsley, a little chicken stock, and lemon zest. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a separate skillet over medium heat on the grill with marinated chicken and onion; cook 5 minutes. Stir in bell pepper and sausage; cook till tender. Stir in shrimp if desired; cook, turning the shrimp, until both sides are pink and all meat is done.

 

Spread rice mixture onto the grill safe serving tray. (We usually just use the same big stirfry pan that the meat is in on the grill) Top with desired srirachi sauce and optional cheese.

 

“But my parents understood that the world that they made within the walls of our house was what constituted home. So I grew up in spaces framed by art and color, filled with candlelight, marked by beauty. I grew up within a rhythm of time made sacred by family devotions in the morning and long conversations in the evening. I grew up with the sense of our daily life as a feast and delight; a soup-and-bread dinner by the fire, Celtic music lilting in the shadows, and the laughter of my siblings gave me a sense of the blessedness of love, of God’s life made tangible in the food and touch and air of our home.
It was a fight for my parents, I know. Every day was a battle to bring order to mess, peace to stressful situations, beauty to the chaos wrought by four young children. But that’s the reality of incarnation as it invades a fallen world….What my parents-bless them-knew…is that to make a home right in the midst of the fallen world is to craft out a space of human flesh and existence in which eternity rises up in time, in which the kingdom comes, in which we may taste and see the goodness of God.”
Sally Clarkson, The Lifegiving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming

I hope these notes and recipes will inspire you to enjoy the season you are in and to slow down a little bit. May you go and create something nourishing for your family! May you celebrate where you are at and where you are going! But most of all, may you not forget to feed your soul this season. Bon appetit!

Summer Days

Summer Days

I don’t know about you but it is a breath of relief when summer rolls around.  No school, less traffic, weekends at the pool, 4th of July, summer vacations (BEACH), and long days of sunlight that extend evening socials.  Each season is unique and has something to offer but summer time… well… let’s just say I’m a little partial.

The question for me and for you is, HOW ARE YOU GOING TO SPEND IT.  Intentional time is something that Kate and I talk about alot between us and with other couples.  If you are not managing your schedule, your schedule will manage you.  This “intentionality” is key.  Whether that is directed at family time, career or personal growth, slowing down and relaxing, dating your spouse, exercise, or household projects.

But every single day there will be dozens of people, agendas, schedules, and requests that will compete for your time.  Maybe it’s healthy to shift the filter through which you are reacting to everything that is coming to you.  What is priority?  What is essential during this season of life?  Is that filter relationships, health, ministry, personal development, family, or liesure?

We feel like we just started our summer on Father’s Day weekend.  There was a lot going on with school finishing, hosting friends and family at our house, recitals, VBS camp, working on getting the final draft of our book to our editor and prepping for a speaking engagement at a marriage event.  We now have several weeks of downtime that we plan to fully maximize as a family and be extremely purposefuly with our time.  No matter what season you find yourself in right now, you can not only simplify but prioritize so you can achieve the maximum results.

If you find yourself in a season where margin is absent and “stress free” sounds like a fairy tale world, then try something.  Pick a day (we like Sundays), turn off your cell phone and devices, disconnect from social media and apps, and figure out what you want to get out of these summer days.  There is no perfect answer.  The answer should come from your soul.  What are you craving and not getting right now?  What do you need to feel alive and charged?  What is currently cheating you of that satisfaction?

Before you know it, school will be back in session (if that pertains to you), the sunshiny days that seem to have no end will end, the pools will close, the lake activity will settle, summer concerts completed, vacations will be sidelined, and schedules will pick up.  Don’t waste this opportunity to replenish, restore, and recharge your soul.  AND, take some time to prioritize how you want to tackle this amazing journey called life.  You won’t regret it.

SJD