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

 

Instant Vision

Instant Vision

Life can give us massive blows. We don’t get to write our stories. God does that. When I get down, it is usually because I am discouraged in what I can not see as good. I can’t see where God is going with the plot or even see the full story God is writing. And I find myself aching at my core. We can get so focused on what we don’t have, or don’t want, or can’t instantly make better that everything sinks. A few posts back we talked on having vision in your relationships. today we would like to take it a step further. 

We do have a choice. We get to choose how we live the story God gives us. My question to you today is, are you thinking the best about your spouse? Are you giving them the benefit of your best thoughts towards them? Are you communicating and being life-giving? Do you have a gut level honesty with your significant other that no one else gets? Do you speak to each other as if you are desperately, madly, over the moon for one other?

Instead of complaining we want you to focus on what you like. Do more of that.

If complaining and focusing on what you don’t have is killing your relationship and your romance, what are the things that can transform it? Statistically speaking much of relationship counseling doesn’t work. The reason being when you go to a councilor you are going to go unpack everything that is wrong. That can be very discouraging and further depressing! Stop focusing on everything that is wrong and start seeing what is right. 

Jesus said “‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” We hope you drink more living water! We hope you see the gift God has given you in your marriage.

Dream – When things are hard and the tomb seems shut for good we choose to keep dreaming. Towards incredible impossible things in spite of it all. When you have lost your job, a friendship dies, you have horrific health news, or you witness someone bury their baby, life can seem to stop in the middle of horror.

It may seem contradictory and even disrespectful but we encourage you to keep your dreams alive! We must never stop dreaming incredible, beautiful, wonderful things for our relationships. The “what if possibilities” in life have helped us get through job loss, infertility, and heart-break of the deepest degree’s. This is not a goal but something super big. We pray that if life seems dark and your understanding of the pain in this world is hard to comprehend that you will take heart! That you will keep on, pressing toward the prize.

John 16:22-24;33

“So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

 I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Happy Easter!

 

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.

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

 

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?

 

 

Goals…Write Them Down

Goals…Write Them Down

The New Year.  Everyone is about resolutions and setting new goals.  It’s fun to reflect back on the previous year to see what you did great and what needs improvement.  I used to be someone who would make mental notes of what I wanted to achieve but never took the time to put them on paper.  My wife and a trusted mentor called me out almost immediately on it… and they are right.  Studies show that when goals are written down you are far more likely to achieve them.

I came across an article a while ago about the global phenom and highly successful golfer, Rory McIlroy.  Brian Wacker published an article on PGATOUR.com talking about the top goals he thinks Rory should have based on is talent and momentum from 2014.  Rory is apparently an avid goal setter and has a standard procedure every year:

“McIlroy, who will open his PGA TOUR season at The Honda Classic next month and is in the field this week in Abu Dhabi, has carried a boarding pass with a set of goals written on it each year of his career.

‘I put it in my wallet and I memorize them,’ McIlroy said. ‘I don’t really want to share them with anyone else. They are just my little goals, and I’ll try and achieve those, and I’ll take that boarding pass out at the end of the year and see how well I’ve done.’”

Wow – how simple can it get?  There is no magic formula here other than mental consistency.  By knowing where you want to go you will be less likely to detour and waste precious time and energy.  By keeping your goals top of mind you are in essence staying accountable to yourself in the areas that matter most to you personally.

Proverbs 13:20 says, “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.”  I encourage you to find someone you think is successful – someone you admire and respect – and ask them to an early morning coffee (most movers and shakers are early risers) to see what habits they’ve developed to get them where they are today.  I would venture to guess that one of their habits is writing goals down.  So what are you going to do this year?  I’d challenge you to step out of the box and write down a few goals on an index card, business card, stick-it note, or even a boarding pass.  Carry it with you and look at it often.  Memorize it.  Stay focused on it.  Be careful, you just might achieve it.

Kate’s Thoughts on the Matter of Goals:

What a great privilege you have. You get to be a part of a great story. Knowing what God’s vision is for your life and relationship is a cornerstone for thriving. It is very hard to get bored when you have God’s vision in front of you.

After Steve told me this story and being a person of goals myself, we created a vision statement and then we created one year goals. We had a mentor tell us to make five-year goals as well. We loved this so much. This is one of the greatest habits for keeping routine from sabotaging your romance — vision and goals. We made 10 year goals and a life goals list. We have a “date night list” and a “places to visit list”. We are regularly talking about how we can spice things up, add, change, or even eliminate things if they no longer serve us. 

If you never want to get bored in your romantic relationship than may you always see growth, potential, and God’s plan in your love life! May you be empowered to step up and to identify where you can dream bigger and go further. Where you can create energy, commitment, and joy for all you walk through as a team. That, my dear friends, will keep boredom at bay.