We need Sage Seniors~

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Last night my husband and I led a marriage event at our local church. We were teaching couples in the “Art” of Active Listening.  I had imagined that the bulk of our attendance would be younger couples eager to tackle the challenges of  newer marriages.  Imagine my surprise when numerous mature couples began to fill the building.  I was very blessed to recognize that these older folks still wanted to work on their marriages! wow!  I can only imagine the example this set for our younger generation.  We need our sage seniors in our lives!

I was tickled that my own parents who have been married 60 years attended this event led by us, their own kids!  In talking with them they expressed sincerely that they felt the tool we were teaching would bring value to them as well.  The interesting twist here is this:  one of the couples at our table whose relationship has been a very difficult one, made the effort to come but had nowhere for their 4 month old baby.  My mother, sensing the need for this couple to have an opportunity to grow, asked to hold this little girl who fell asleep in her arms for 90 minutes, giving them a chance to focus on their relationship. The young mom cried tears of gratefulness for the love she had been shown.  We need sage seniors in our lives!

I am certain that God intended us to have impact far into our twilight years.  I believe our impact can only be richer, wiser, and more valuable.   For those of you who are presently Sage Seniors I ask that you continue to pour into our lives. Pray for us and speak wisdom into our life situations.  For those of us who are knocking on the door of our seniors years I ask that we keep looking for places to have impact, to mentor, to use the lessons we’ve learned to help others.  For the younger generation I would challenge you to seek out the wisdom of those seniors in your sphere of life.  In areas of finances, marriage, or faith, these sage seniors in your life can help you to miss some of the mistakes others have made.

Psalm 92:14

They will still yield fruit in old age; They shall be full of sap and very green.

Job 12:12

Wisdom is with aged people, With long life comes understanding.

Such a great reminder! 🙂

Musings on Marriage~

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I am enjoying the privilege of leading a bible study with 6 precious young wives on the subject of marriage.  I am the leader of the study, yet I am a constant learner along with each one of them.  After almost 30 years of marriage I recognize that you never arrive at a PERFECT relationship.  Marriage is a process of growing and stretching through the many different seasons and changes in our lives.  Marriage is a committment to being a good friend~no matter what.

“Happily ever after is not a fairy tale. It’s a choice.”

In discussions about marriage some key issues continually come up:  communication, expectations, and forgiveness.  These areas can be where hurt and disconnect can be found. So, in light of this I wanted to offer a few thoughts that might serve to encourage you as you commit to building a rich, thriving marriage.

*   Active Listening:  taking the time to truly listen to your loved one, repeating back to them to see if you truly understood what they are trying to say, and them expressing how you imagine they might feel can bring clarity and empathy even if you don’t fully agree.  Everyone needs to have the freedom to express themselves; to be heard.  Practicing this kind of intentional listening will help build better communication and cause you to feel a greater connection to one another.

Balancing Expectations:  Have you ever thought through all the elements you may expect in your marriage?

  • To be able to talk everything through & find resolution
  • That we & our partner should never argue, fight or withdraw, always take care of each other & agree on everything
  • A wonderful sexual relationship, full of sexual passion
  • Each other to take their own responsibility for their own feelings, able to share love, rather than expect our partner to fill us up with their love
  • To have a lot of fun & easily laugh together
  • To have similar interests
  • Our partner to financially contribute
  • A certain level of contribution towards the household & childcare
  • Respect, admiration & deep trust
  • A relationship full of affection, holding, cuddling & kissing
  • To find each other infinitely interesting, look forward to being together & sharing ideas
  • Companionship
  • The same religious beliefs
  • Shared, common spiritual values

These elements are all good; however these areas can grow over time as the marriage matures, listening increases, and each individual grows deeper in their relationship with the Lord. Keep them as good goals but don’t expect perfection all the time.

“A great marriage is not when the ‘perfect couple’ comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences.”

Forgiveness:   We all need forgiveness.  We all have a bad day, make mistakes, and respond improperly.  In my early years of marriage I would hold onto those things that hurt or frustrated me.  When I would do this I could easily find myself irritated by the smallest things simply because I had a stockpile of things I’d not yet forgiven. The older I get the more I recognize the huge value in keeping a short record of unforgivenes.  Fact is, I need to be forgiven often too.

“A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.”

As you celebrate Valentine’s Day this next week may you embark on the richest year of marriage ever!

Important Conversations!

” The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw

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I have heard this quote numerous times, I find it incredibly profound every time.  It is never easy to have a difficult conversation.   No one ever wakes up in the morning eager to jump into a discussion that could have an uncertain outcome. No one naturally wants to feel uncomfortable or to create possible conflict. If they do, frankly, then may have other personal issues that need to be dealt with. No~ no one really enjoys a “Crucial Conversation”.

In the Book “Crucial Conversations” the term in the title of the book would be defined as a discussion between two or more people where the stakes are high, opinions vary, and emotions run strong.

In order to navigate relationships in your family, workplace, community, or place of worship there will be times when the need to have a direct conversation will be clearly evident, left unaddressed gaps in relationships, teamwork, or productivity will be the result.

Have you ever gotten a phone call or email that you simply ignored because in order to move forward there would need to be a conversation? Have you ever walked “around” a teammates office so that you could avoid a tough conversation? Have you ever abandoned a friendship because having a hard conversation seemed too challenging?

I have to say YES to all of these situations. In trying to asses “WHY” I would have avoided challenging conversations I would have to discern that it was because I assumed I wouldn’t fare well; that I would cause more trouble.  But often these types of conversations can bring fresh understanding, resolve conflict, and relational rebuilding.

 In considering a crucial conversation we have 3 possibilities:

1.  We can simply avoid them.

2.  We can face them and handle them poorly.

3. We can face them and handle them well.

I feel that most of us would choose either #1 or #3.  Assuming  you have picked #3, I would l like to offer a few suggestions that I have learned in my years of being a Leadership Coach. (I am not an authority by any means; I continue to be a learner!)

Prepare yourself for  the conversation.  What is the end result you desire?  What is the temperament of the individual you need to address? Are you angry? Have you already indited this person?  Can you see your part in the challenge? What words will you use to clearly communicate? Are you prepared to listen?

Set a quality time/place for the conversation. Timing is key when addressing a challenging topic.  I always tell young brides that it is NEVER wise to address challenging topic with their spouse after 8:30-9:00!! Two tired people addressing conflict will rarely provide a positive result!  Does this conversation need to be in private? Do you need a 3rd party present for accountability?

Follow up within 24 hours. It is important be sure that your crucial conversation truly created the clarity needed between every individual involved. Do an understanding check as well as a relational check. Your conversation may not result in complete agreement but see if it has cleared away the intensity of emotion or misunderstanding.

Difficult conversations are necessary as we grow in every area of our lives and the results of having them successfully will empower us to be brave enough, kind enough, and wise enough to address them well.

Are the conversations you’ve been avoiding? Situations that need to be addressed? Relationships that need reconciling? Gaps on your team at work?  Instead of focusing on how negative a crucial conversation could be, consider how much fruitfulness is to be gained. 🙂

Newlyweds~

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Being on the Hawaiian Islands in the month of August can only mean one thing! We will be surrounded by honeymooners!  After encountering one or two, I soon realized that, of course, this was wedding month!

29 years ago it was “wedding month” for my husband and I!  In a church with orange pews and brown panel walls, I walked down the aisle in a white dress towards my teary bridesmaids all dressed in Pink ( or Mauve, as it was known in the 80’s)! My tall young husband smiled a crooked smile my way filled with both anticipation and anxiety about the huge step we were making! 29 years later he still has that cute crooked smile! 🙂

After an Anniversary holiday in the Hawaiian Islands, Greg and I climbed onto the plane enjoying the fact that we would be sitting in the Emergency Exit seats that provide lovely leg room! Greg on the aisle, and I took the window seat keenly aware that there would be a “random” individual between us.  When he came, smiling an impish grin, he slid into our row.  Joseph was a newlywed…..his sweet new bride was two rows behind us. He kept looking back at her longing to have her by his side…but the plane was taking off.

Joseph was outgoing, found out he had a rich faith in Christ; he was from a family of 12 children.  Learning we had been married for 29 years, he began asking questions to learn how to find success in marriage; asked good questions.  This young man was eager to live life as a newlywed forever…so cute!

Our advice?  Stay friends, forgive, pick your battlegrounds, pray together, continue to play, get away together, and fight the urge to fall into being partners in life~~stay pals, friends, and lovers!

Well, once I knew he had gleaned all he needed from me I was keenly aware that it was time to switch seats with his precious bride, to let them cuddle the rest of the flight.  Seeing them all snuggled in from my tight seat two rows behind made me so happy.  I turned to the little gal next to me and said “where are you headed?” She smiled and said “I am a newlywed”.  so ….we chatted……. 🙂

Sweet, unexpected moments! Sweet reminders of how precious marriage is!! 🙂