Season Change

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“So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.”  -2 Corinthians 3:18 (NLT)

 

I’m sitting in my office today watching the last of the rain pass and admiring the beautiful bursts of color in the trees that seems to have manifested overnight.  The cloudy weather has only amplified the colors and made them more exquisite.  Yellows, hints of orange and burgundy, deep maroons, and brilliant reds.  Make no mistake, there is still a lot of green out there.  The transformation has started earlier for some than others, but they’ll all get there eventually.

What season of change do you find yourself in today?  Is it a good one?  Are you waking up with a bounce in your step and refreshed energy because things seem to be going your way?  Maybe you acheived a big goal, paid off some debt, closed that large deal, found some news friends, got some great news from a doctor, or seem to be excelling in work and ministry?  Or have you been caught off guard and find yourself defeated, exhausted, and frazzled?  Financial woes, a job loss, family dissension, marital strife, a sudden illness or health setback, spiritual exhaustion/fatigue, moving and loss of friendships can have a significant impact on our outlook.

Here’s the good news.  Everyone goes through change – no one is immune.  It may be easy to look around at everyone’s “perfect life” and wonder why you’ve been dealt all the bad cards.  But you know as well as I do, that is all a lie.  The book of Ecclesiastes talks about this alot.  The author, Solomon, came to the conclusion that there is nothing new under the sun and that everyone is impacted both positively and negatively.  This isn’t very comforting when are are in the valley.  It’s also not very comforting when you are on the mountain top either.  Kate and I have had to deal with thoughts of fear during the times when things are just going our way.  Afraid that we are one phone call or email away from something going awefully wrong.  We kept wondering, “how long is this season going to last before the bottom drops out”?

We need to be reminded and take comfort in knowing that our point of reference and “hope” is not in what we see around us.  Our achor is Christ.  He will use these season changes, if we allow Him, to mold, shape, and transform us into His glorious image.  What does that mean?  We will begin to reflect the attributes of God more in our life, despite what is going on.  Instead of FEAR, we will be prone to PEACE and rest.  Instead of WORRY, we will TRUST His goodness and timing.  Instead of ANGER, we will sense JOY welling up within us – even when there is not natural reason why it should be there.  Instead of JEALOUSY, we will find ourselves CONTENT with all things.

God’s image is much more glorious than anything we could ever possibly create on our own.  Yielding to his Spirit’s power will not only empower us to walk through whatever season of change we find ourselves in, but will also radiate beautiful colors to those around around us.  I sometimes think about God in heaven looking down on His children.  I wonder… might he possibly see all of us, in our various stages of change and transformation, like the autumn leaves that we see in the midst of fall?  A glorious and beautiful bouquet of all shapes, colors, and sizes.  He’s smiling at you, and he wants to radiate through you.  All you have to do is let Him.

 

-SD

 

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!

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?

 

10 Weeks of Summer and What You Should be Doing

10 Weeks of Summer and What You Should be Doing

Summer is only about 10 to 12 weeks here in the south. Before we can blink the lazy mornings and pool days turn into school shopping and cramming your reading list into the last two weeks before football season starts back up. So what should we be doing with this time? How do we maximize it with out it maximizing us? There have been many  a summer that I have gone back into fall with exhaustion and sunburn, wondering how I allowed my most precious and favorite time to be eaten up with things that just didn’t seem to fulfill my potential. This sunny joyous time is irreplaceable. To help us all out, I have decide to give you the questions that I use to help encourage growth. This is for focusing on what really matters during the beautiful summer months of iced tea and water life.

 

  • What 3 goals do you want to achieve within the next 3 months?
  • If anything was possible what would you wish for?
  • What have been your 3 greatest successes to date? 
  • Are there people that you’d love to spend more time with? If so whom and why?
  • Is there a hobby you’ve wanted to spend more time on? If so what?
  • Is there a class or workshop you’ve been meaning to take?
  • What else have you always wanted to do?
  • What are you struggling with right now?
  • What makes you feel tired?
  • What is one thing you can do today to move you forward?
  • Who are most important to you in your life – what do they provide you with?
  • On a scale of 1 -10 how happy are you with your life right now? What are the things that make you happy?
  • On a scale of 1-10 how motivated are you in your work/personal life? What motivates you?
  • On a scale of 1 -10 how stressed do you feel right now – what are your key stressors? List 5 things that you feel you are ‘putting up with’ right now? 
  • In a weekly report write out how you did with Chill Time, Sleep, Exercise, Drinking Water, Reading, and Focusing on personal development.
  • What skill do you need to personally develop over the next three months?
  • What are the top 10-15 goals and tasks you are going to focus on for the next 10 weeks?

I’ll Hold The Umbrella

I’ll Hold The Umbrella

Tennis is a fascinating sport.  I seldom watch it at home but ironically it is the one thing I leave on the hotel TV when traveling.  I love watching all the court staff, ball boys/girls, and referees that surround the 2 marquee players in any given match.  There is so much going on before and after ever set in order to maintain order, etiquette, and minimize downtime between serves.

In 2014, there was a rain delay in the first-round match at the 2014 French Open that lasted for just over 10 minutes.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  But what happened in those 10 minutes is something that any leader, aspiring leader, husband, wife, or friend can learn from.  One of the world’s best, Novak Djokovic, sat down to tend to his gear while the ball boy silently held an umbrella over Novak’s head to keep him dry.  Without hesitation, Novak broke from typical tradition by inviting the boy to sit with him and reversed roles by holding the umbrella for him.  The boy’s countenance immediately changed, and his elation could no doubt be seen in the farthest seats of the arena.  Small, private discussions continued as Novak handed over his racket and a water bottle from his bag.  The investment made in that boy will be felt for his lifetime.  It’s a story he’ll never stop telling.  In that moment, the leader, the global icon, and arguably one of the most powerful people in that arena took on the role of a servant.  He held the umbrella.

I’ve listened to business executives say that they’ll take hire candidates out to dinner in order to solely watch their interactions with the restaurant staff and servers.  How we treat the people around us says a lot about our character.  Have you paused recently to look around at all the people who are holding the umbrella for you?  For me, it’s my wife… first and foremost.  There are so many things (both visible and invisible) that she does on a daily basis in order to remove barriers and distractions so i can accomplish my goals.  My boss.  He holds an umbrella for me and my teammates while simultaneously shielding us from situations and communications that could be stressful and burdensome.  My family, mentors, church leadership, and friends do this as well.  Not to mention the restaurant servers, dry cleaning people, car washers, mechanics, financial advisors, baristas, plumbers, gutter cleaners, law enforcement, teachers, lawn maintenance, trash people, and babysitters that take care of the rain so I can focus on the match ahead of me.

When’s the last time you have held the umbrella?  When’s the last time you’ve done it for your wife?  What a crazy, cool ting to actually serve the person that thought they were serving you.  I make it a priority to look for ways to serve Kate that she is not expecting.  She gives 110% every day to our family, friends, community, and ministry.  It is so rewarding to hold the umbrella for her so she can take a break, sit down, relax, and get a reprieve from her duties.  Jesus said that He didn’t come to be served, but to serve (Matthew 20:28).  This is a value we should embrace daily.

I challenge you to become more aware and to notice the hundreds if not thousands of things done for each of us every single month by people whom we may never know their names or stories.  Make an effort to go out of your way to be appreciative.  And for those individuals who are intimately involved in our daily lives, the onus is even greater to find ways to humble ourselves, and place those people’s interests and needs above our own.  True leadership is modeled by servanthood.  Follower-ship is gained by selflessness and service.  Who are you going to hold the umbrella for this week?

SD

Creating Emotional Health in Your Relationship

Creating Emotional Health in Your Relationship

According to Manslow’s hierarchy there are nine top emotional needs that every human being needs in order to manage life well.

The top nine are, security, volition, attention, emotional connection, connection to the community, privacy, a sense of status, a sense of achievement, and meaning.

If we are low in any of these areas we can become depressed, have anxiety,  possible turn to abusive and destructive behaviours and even have strong addictions.

The beautiful thing that My husband and I have had the benefit of living out is that we have found that in relationship you can create peace, joy, and fulfilment in all of these. You just have to know how to do it.

If you are feeling run down and thin in your emotional health here are some ideas that can help create stability and the most effective route back to a beautiful romantic relationship and good mental health.

1. Security:

If you find your need for security isn’t being fully met, make a list to show your significant other what is making your feel insecure. As a team identify action steps you can take to change that. Perhaps you would feel more secure if you equipped your home with burglar alarms or found a solid consistent babysitter for you children. If you need to feel your relationship is more secure, ask why you are feeling fearful that it is not. See if you can create a foundation of security in your relationship for the other person. The reminder that you are for them and always have their back is a comforting reminder to give each other regularly.

2. Volition:

Have a frank conversation with your partner about where you need to have more control or clearer boundaries. Do you need to create boundaries with extended family or with screen time? Do you need to have greater control over bedtime routines and date nights? It’s time to be lovingly assertive about this. Lovingly being the key. If you are more of a peacemaker being assertive can be scary. It can seem confrontational to do this. however, it is more of a discussion if you remember to do it in love. If you are more aggressive the “loving part” can be a reminder to be gracious and gently in your deliver.

3. Attention:

Prioritize quality time with your spouse. And your friends! So often we make it a priority of one or the other of these but you need both for healthy balance. Realizing that your spouse can not meet all of your needs is crucial to emotional health but it is also crucial that they do not take a back seat to friendships and social situations either. Set aside time for it in your calendar. Just because we have these special people in our lives doesn’t mean we are meeting their needs for attention or that they are meeting ours. It takes an alluring effort. I tend to personally see saw in this department a great deal.  I have to make a conscious effort to ensure I am reaching out correctly and evenly in this area. I know the busier my schedule gets the less focused I am of meeting this need for others.

4. Emotional connection:

Make it a priority to make couple friends. Creating a circle where you both have connections can be a bigger ordeal to under take than first looking at it. This one idea however, deepens your relationship in ways you can’t even imagine. You are creating bonds together as you also create bonds outwardly.

What kinds of people do you want to bond with? For us our favorite people are diverse, joy filled, go getter’s and readers. They are health activists, travelers, and Jesus followers. They also prioritize their marriages. Hunt these people down and be diligent in finding your group. Make time for it. Doing life in circles is so beneficial! This is essential nourishment for your emotional well-being.

5. Connection to the wider community:

Arrange a regular coffee/Bible group in your home. Can you mentor someone, volunteer for less fortunate, give into an organization that speaks to your soul? Can you check in on an elderly neighbor, mow a disabled persons yard, read a book to kids at your local school area? Being active in your community and world creates the bigger picture and is crucial to your emotional well-being. For my husband and I, we have even gone a step further by doing these things together.

6. Privacy:

Block out an hour a day, for you. Take a walk, read a book, get in a bubble bath. Mentally refreshing from everything in this world of hustle and business is even greater demand in our emotional wellbeing than  50 years ago. Pace as evolved and so this need as become a top one for most people because there is so much lack for it. If you are using your time to scroll social feeds you’re not giving yourself privacy because you are still engaging in the outside word. They say that the more sensitive you are the more time you need to fully digest the overstimulation of the modern world. mothers and fathers of toddlers and young children are probably the most deficient in this area, because there is very little if any privacy at these stages of parenting.

7. A sense of status:

Where do you see yourself when it comes to your marriage? Are you the first person your spouse goes to or does she call her sister first? Can you be the go-to guy for specific information and a listening ear? Perhaps you can be the captain of a group in your profession or lead the way when it comes to connecting to the wider world. Can the two of you be an inspiration for someone else? What kind of status is your marriage in? Where do you want it to be?

8. A sense of our own competence and achievements:

Make a list of all your achievements—awards, qualifications, languages, promotions, , losing weight, physical therapy after a sports injury, delivering new life into the world, or even all the rough periods you’ve survived as a couple. Remind each other of the skills and strengths that you have. What more can you achieve as team? What new goal can you set? What is the five-year plan?

9. Meaning:

You can choose to find meaning in anything or choose feelings of apathy. You can feel the pleasure of a cup of warm coffee in your hand or sand between your toes or a giggle from your spouse. These moments are as meaningful as you want them to be. But in order to see the you must choose to see them and give them the noted attention that is due to them.

As humans, we seek these nine emotional needs as much as we seek water and light.  Instead of pointing the finger at our upbringing or spending hours analyzing every quirk our spouse has, we can now ask a more valid questions: Which of the emotional needs am I not meeting? What emotional need am I lowest in? 

Productivity

Productivity

“Some days I feel like the internet is 100 versions of “strive for greatness!” and “how she’s killing the game and you can, too!” and “these are the 64863 things successful people do before dawn.”  But how about this: you don’t have to crush or kill or slay anything today. You don’t have to strive or wrangle or hustle or do anything violent today. You can just be a human, in a quiet and honest way and that is good.” – Shauna Neiquest

January is the month of goals. It is also the month of freezing rain, gloom, and darker nights. Very challenging for this florida girl to manage! What I have personally learned thismonyh is the opposite of what many of us are told to do for the first month in the year. I would love to share my insight with you.

Over the summer and the holiday’s this past year I read three books on personal development.  These books gave me incredible clarity when it comes to goal setting and more importantly,  productivity. I wanted to finish out strong for those goals that meant something to me but, somehow I was putting off. I wanted to complete things and to end the year well.

Many of us set goals, aspirations, and healthy ideals yet few of us reach our true potential. Why? I believe after reading these books I have uncovered one of the leading causes of this problem and have been ecstatic to see incredible things happen.

If you would love to read these books, I have placed pictures of each one for your benefit at the bottom of this blog but here are my personal cliff notes and insight. These practices have transformed my January blues and winter hibernation to something extraordinarily valuable.

Book 1 Notes:

I first learned that in order to truly achieve great things you need to rest. And just because you get your 7-9 hours of sleep a night does not mean you are rested. You may still be depleted in your emotional rest or spiritual rest or even relationship rest; which is then making you tired. Reading all of the different areas we need to have rest in was exhausting! To be honest I was less hopeful that I could ever achieve optimal recovery after reading this book but it did remind me that there is more to rest than just sleep. The American culture of hustle, making your dreams happen, and the “be more and do more”mentality is burning us all out. If we focused more on the areas of resting our very souls from striving we would all be in a better place.

Book 2 Notes:

I also learned that watching tv, playing video games, surfing the internet, and even social media scrolling is not considered restful. For our minds do not get a break. Even reading a magazine was more restful and star-gazing and even walking better options from there. Therefore, these activities should be considered non-restful things. They can be classified as fun, and even entertaining but not restful. This was big for me because the average american uses these activities to “rest”, check out, zone out, and decompress. I can’t use this as my downtime and expect my mind and body to be restored.

Book 3 Notes:

It might seem weird that I read books on rest and on high performance at the same time but they go hand in hand actually. Rest play’s a vital role on productity and motivation. If your not resed your not able to be diciplined enough in life to make it really count. What I know to be true, when it comes to productivity, is that the silent killer is focusing on what you don’t like. These are the complaining master minds of our world. You know what I’m talking about too. The silent complainers and the obnoxious Debbie downers that no matter how great things are they can find what went wrong. And we all have been both of these people at some point or another. Instead of that, instead of complaining, the experts were saying to focus on what you like. Then go and do more of that!

So instead of fighting the winter hibernation effect and the feelings of exhaustion that surround me in January and February, what if I embraced it? What if instead of pushing back against it I learned the rhythms God has placed on this world and I followed suit. How would it look if I learned to rest correctly and completely. To do this without guilt of falling behind or of being lazy.

This month I have not put a deadline on my “book reading” but instead pulled out a childhood set I loved.  No deadline in sight. I haven’t put a deadline on my health, but instead gone on longer walks. I have watched more tv but I have not called it “down time”. I have reminded myself of what I love and have chosen to do more of it. Bubble baths, hot tea, snuggling with my children, a new eye cream, an awesome music mix, and even staying up late just hanging with my husband.  The best part of this is learning to be grateful, and enjoy it fully. No more complaining, or guilt of what I haven’t done this month.

Releasing your role as CEO of doing it all, making it happen, and that it is “never enough” is freeing and a giant exhale that we should take in life. I am not saying go home, raise your hands and say, “God’s going to provide while I watch Netflix” but I am saying run your role and don’t over step it. Average people work too much, are depleted, depressed, and bone dry. Average people complain and never know peace. You and I are capable and even called to be at rest. To choose exceptional rest in Jesus. To see how precious it all is, and to enjoy life to the fullest, is our blessing. This can free you from guilt, from expectations, and from winter exhaustion. Take your vacations, take your snow days, say “no” to all the fluff, do more of what you love, and appreciate your now.

– What do you need to release today when it comes to your life?

– Are you striving to much? Why?

– Do you need to put boundaries in place for you to cultivate rest? What are they?

– Do you need to replace restorative rest over laziness in your life?

– Do you need to trust God more with your future?

– Do you need to change jobs? Change your circle? Change your mindset? Make something simpler?

– What is something you can do to clarify your vision for yourself?

– What is one thing you can do to cultivate rest in your life right now?