Give It A Break

Give It A Break

We are very neat people, both of us, and because of that we could be tidying and doing projects every second of every day. Failing miserably at connecting relationally we would be organized and task driven but then what is the point of that? I mean really? What is the point? The fact that my counters sparkle more than yours? How lame! I have missed the entire thing and become Martha in the story where Jesus comes to visit. The only problem is I have dragged my husband along with me and dubbed him “Project Steve” for the day.

A Sabbath from chores and tasks is the reset for us that the chores, the difficult issues, and even the relationship handicaps will still be there, but the moment won’t. Recently we had to do this. We had had about six straight weeks of travel and sickness and everything was piling up. I was feeling all the feeling of overwhelm. No rest in sight.

Exodus 20:8-11

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

God knew this struggle would be real for us and created a day for us to not do anything more but to just enjoy. We personally take this very seriously. We take one day a week, usually it is Sunday, to completely rest. No work, no screens, no crazy projects.

Let me be clear that if we are serving at church and have meetings with small group leaders or are teaching bible lessons to 30 preschoolers we have to pick another day. Because as much good as that is and as much growth as that produces, it is not rest.

One person doing all of one thing, exhausted, and worn out while the other person gets a pass is not healthy, either.  We know of a friend who has deliberately not learned how to do laundry, so that they aren’t ever asked to do it and I have another acquaintance who has done everything when it comes to child raising and now her husband has no idea how to manage the kids and the poor woman has never left them. 

Steve had to take control of the entire household one summer when we decided I was to head on a mission trip to Africa. Our children were little and not in school at the time and he would be juggling work on top of it. For ten whole day’s he handled it all, with no communication from me, and with amazing talent. I know that I left the entire operation in great hands. I know too that we could reverse the roles and I could do the same for him. We all have skills we are great at and certain areas we are stronger in and so letting each other shine in those is wonderful. However, that doesn’t stop us from helping each other out. This area on tasks and chores is to encourage all of us to make sure we are not allowing one person to bear the brunt of most of the tasks or that we are unaware of the sacrifices and the diligence that someone is taking on our behalf. As you think about this topic thank your spouse for something they do regularly and are not being recognized for. Give each other a sabbath. Give each other a vacation.

photo of bare feet on hammock
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Build Your Legacy

 

 

I was asked a few years ago by a dear friend to come along side her son while he came into the older elementary ages and into middle school. To just be another voice and another person he could talk to about anything and everything. Also just to have fun and be there for him. Doing life side by side with kids is one of the greatest privileges in this world. I was honored to take on the opportunity. What surprised me was how much I have learned from doing this!!

The next generation is truly amazing! They are doing more, juggling more, and being expected of more than any other generation behind them. They are incredible when you think about all that they are managing and fighting against. As an older sister to three brothers I was even more thrilled to get to do this. A few times a year I would get to be out of the pink tutu’s and ballet bars that my life revolved around. I didn’t have kids yet and having the opportunity to go to an arcade and to ride go carts was a no brainer! I was going to be there.

When I was young, I had three individuals in particular that came around me and encouraged me. They took me places, they showed up for me, and they took an interest in what was going on in my world. I knew first hand what that influence had in my life. It meant the world that I mattered to them and that they really wanted to see me succeed. They were “super cool”  and to know that they had my back really shaped me.

“Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living—if you do it well I’m sure there was someone cheering you on or showing the way. A mentor.” — Denzel Washington

Contribution has one of the largest upshot in all of life. It is when you are contributing to a greater cause or a greater idea that you are pouring out rather than taking. Consuming money, space, time, and negativity helps no one and lest of all you. When you are nervous to go for it, remember, contribute verses consume. Building your legacy is not about buildings, or money, or empires, or even influence. Its about people. So which one is it for you? Some of us think we are contributing but in actuality all we are doing is consuming.

Many of us can come up with incredible ideas but it takes a multitude of people to spread something exceptional. It takes a village to raise a child, it takes a mob to create a movement, and it takes a congregation to have a revival.

Look at the very gospel of Jesus as an example. Become part of something bigger than yourself. Go mentor, and go be mentored! Who do you need to come along side today?

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12: 6-8

 

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

Boredom in Marriage

Boredom in Marriage

As a lifestyle coach and former athlete I am all about efficiency and schedules. But that can get boring real fast. The pain of regiments and disciplines becomes the pain of regrets. It can become so monotonous to do everyday life that one day we wake up and cry from the dullness. Unaware of how we got from burning passion to “Did you feed the dog?”,  we except it as is.

We crawl into the ho-hum of routine and settle in for consistency and average mediocrity.  This does not have to be you.  This is not what you were made for.  This is not the standard you should hold yourself up to. It is not what God considered good when He made man a partner in the Garden. This is not acceptable. 

We were made to be in God’s bigger picture and our marriages are the foundation of that.  Making sure we are focusing on developing our romantic dreams can keep us excited for creating something extraordinarily above average. Stepping up and raising our standards to live boldly and fearlessly can create immense drive. Despite all this encouragement on dreams and romance, you can still become bored. How? Two things, you’re either living life too fast or too slow. The pace of your marriage is crucial in creating excellence. 

Are you so busy you’re losing your wonder and curiosity for what it could be?  When was the last time you paused just to give a soft kiss? How many times have you promised you’d be somewhere or do something for your wife or kids only to allow situations to derail that commitment?  Sure, there are always exceptions that cannot be avoided (like a flat tire, emergency, or sickness).  I’m not talking about those.  I’m talking about the times you failed to prioritize, failed to watch the clock properly, failed to account for traffic, failed to close the laptop on time, or failed to tell someone else the word “no” rather than your spouse.

Exhausted from the normal speed of our existence we squash out any fire. If you’re so busy and you’re so overwhelmed in your day to day that there is no margin for dreaming, or engaging, you lose all zeal. You only have room for flipping the television on, maybe not even that. You find yourself out of energy to engage in anything. Game night, laughter, special plans for date night, gifts, and deeper conversations have no place because you physically have no band width for thinking of it.

On the flip side of this, perhaps your dreams are so slow at coming to fruition you’ve lost hope of reaching it entirely. Some dreams are life dreams and it’s a long time coming to make them happen.

To wait it out is really hard and very daunting. It’s much harder if your also not focused on smaller dreams during the wait.

When your timeline isn’t God’s, unfilled desires are painful.  

During a particular season where we were at this point we studied Paul, the apostle. Paul, who spent the better part of his last days in prison. He managed to stand fast despite beatings and massive persecution. How could he write such passionate and inspirational things while going through so much pain and so much boredom? Prison, (I am guessing) is very boring. I believe it was because he knew the bigger picture, his purpose, and the part he played. Do you know the part you play in you marriage? Do you know the bigger picture? God said it was not good for man to be alone in the garden. It was the only thing “not good” before the fall of man. We were created for connection with God and our spouse from the very beginning of time. 

For us to get out of bordom and the rutt we decided to create a vision statement that we both could stand on for our relationship. That no matter what, in the up’s, the downs, the storms and the calm, we would hold fast. We didn’t want excess, we wanted excellence. We wanted to continually be Creating Exceptional. We wanted to guard the good deposit that we had been given. (2 Timothy 1:14).

Do you have a vision for your marriage? Is it written down? Do you both take ownership of it?

Psalms 23:7 For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.

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? 

SEXY

SEXY

We make this so much harder than it needs to be.  We silently suffer through things that could be cleared up very quickly with a few questions or explanations.  Instead we choose to stay silent around our significant other and our group of trusted peers.  Choosing to suffer, to stew, and to be secretive.  Let us not complicate this.  All we need is to ask the real questions on intimacy, even the hard ones.  Going to work at understanding the deeper more unique nature of each other will create the most incredible dynamic. It will give you freedom that you could only imagine about in your wildest dreams.

What I would tell my young married self:

  • You are responsible for you.  Your body is His and He is yours but you are responsible for communicating correctly about it and what you need from the other person.  If he needs something from you He is responsible to tell you.  Trying to anticipate and guess and be in front of it will only wear you both out and leave you unsatisfied.
  • Make your bedroom a haven. So often the bedroom is the last room we decorate, finish and use. It should be the opposite. This is the haven for your marriage. It is the place to escape chores, work, devices, and the outside world. For years, and I mean years, I would haul the laundry baskets into our bedroom. My mistake was realized only after running ragged one day and coming upstairs to rest. There on the bed sat three loads of unfolded laundry. I could not even lie down. I urge you to make this space work for you and your significant other. Let it be soothing, and romantic. There is nothing sexy about piles of laundry and stacks of clutter. I suddenly saw the problem and the solution that day with the laundry. Our room needed to be a place that spoke to us and that encouraged connection. almost over night, I realized our room was the tone for our romantic life. I changed everything. I wanted my husband and I to walk in to our bedroom for the space to breathe life into our relationship. No harsh colors, no clutter or distractions. Everything we had, we had to love. The bed sheets were upgraded, candles were bought, visual space was marked out and no devices became a mandatory rule. I still struggle with the habit of throwing all the clean laundry in the bedroom but I am doing better and it is doing wonders for our marriage and romance.
  • Choose to have a no shame and no blame policy.

    When someone is opening up to you on the topic of anything sexual you do not want to shame and blame them.  By all means we are called to hold each other accountable.  We are all better human beings when we rise up in all of life and we do this unwaveringly.  It just means no condemnation.  In shaming someone, It will create a closed off and painfully negative experience.  They will never approach you again about it, and silently struggle to a dangerous zone.  To be a safe place to land about this struggle is sexy in and of itself.

     

     

    Proverbers 5:19

    May your fountain be blessed,

        and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.

    A loving doe, a graceful deer—

        may her breasts satisfy you always,

What’s Certain About Uncertainty

I read a great article the other day from the Atlanta Business Chronicle called “7 Habits of Amazing Successful Sales People (Terry Brock, Contributing Writer)”and one of the habits seemed to jump off the page at me: Hustle when others hunker down.  When uncertainty or tough times come about (and they always do) the winners and leaders take a different approach than the average person – they jump into hustle mode while others want to stay under the radar and not rock the boat.

We all like certainty and security.  It makes us feel good, relaxed, and less anxious.  Predictability is a good thing and the desire for comfort is fundamental to our human nature!  However, one of the only certain [assured/guaranteed/definite]things in this life is that uncertainty will always be present! The deal fell through, the boss you love has left, family relations took at drastic change, sickness struck without warning, a friend left you hanging, that promise was broken, the money didn’t come in, that trip didn’t happen, that dream won’t be fulfilled.  What do you do in this moment and how do you react when met with hardship and unexpected circumstances?  Do you retreat, let life beat you down, dwell on the negatives, assume the worst, abandon your dreams and aspirations?  Or do you get back on your feet, look at what you can control in your life (emotions, time, energy, thoughts), fight, work hard, keep the right attitude, and determine to move forward?  The latter find a way to use their challenges as a springboard to success. Don’t allow it to crush your spirit or discourage you from using your gifts and talents.  Success can mean a lot of different things to a lot of people – only you can determine what that looks like for you personally.

Those of us who have faith in Christ Jesus know that His ways are above our ways and that we should count it all joy when we fall into various trials.  This doesn’t mean that we should be happy about the hardship… it means that we can get excited about what the trials will produce in us ifwe allow God to work through us.  Just as you go to a gym to workout and literally tear your muscles in order to get stronger, so God allows/uses the trials and uncertainties of this life to build character, perseverance, and spiritual faith.  When we are weak, He will be strong in us.

Don’t take your foot off the accelerator, don’t hunker down, don’t look for an easy way out, don’t get discouraged, don’t give up, and don’t throw away your dream.  Uncertainty is certain, but what you do during those uncertain times will greatly alter the outcome of your life and those around you.

-SJD

http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/how-to/marketing/2014/12/7-habits-of-amazingly-successful-salespeople.html

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“Remember who you are” –J. Mingee