America, Could I have a word with you?

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Yesterday a gunman opened fire at a Republican baseball practice early Wednesday morning, shooting several attendees. The gunman’s goal was to “rid” the world of the Republican Party leaders. We should all be appalled. We should all pay attention.   What is happening to the home of the Free and the Brave?

As a 4 year old I remember sitting with my parents in the living room as they somberly watched the funeral procession of President Kennedy; that awful act of brutality shook our nation to the core regardless of political persuasion.   My parents were Conservatives and yet I never heard them utter a disparaging word about the President or others in leadership. There was a respect that was healthy in order to have lively disagreements about policies and laws being passed.

I am sad for my grandchildren. I am sad they are living in a day where our country has normalized aggressive, hateful rhetoric. I am sad they are living in a day where it is considered “humor” to hold up the severed head of our President. I am sad that they are living in a day when healthy dialogue and disagreement has been exchanged for screaming, burning flags, breaking windows, and even desiring physical harm to those with whom we differ!

As an adult, an American woman, a Christian, a mother, a daughter, a wife, a businesswoman, and a grandmother I find myself in a constant state of shock by the daily news; I almost have to take gaps of time to simply bury my head in the sand in order to navigate being distracted by behavior that makes me incredibly sad. I have been in prayer for our Country, the leaders on both sides of the aisle, and for those who love our great land. I am confident that God is mindful and able to bring about good change in the lives of anyone who reaches out to Him; but what it our responsibility, America?

We can control what we say and how we say it. We can express our differences with anyone (government, company, team, our kids teachers, coaches, and community/church members) with respect, clarity, and the ability to listen. We have no business playing into the harsh rhetoric of the day, which pours more and more gasoline on fires that are already burning. Frankly, scripture is so so so wise on the impact of our words!

James 3:5-6   “The tongue is a small part of a person’s body, but a tiny spark can seta great forest on fire. Among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.

Matthew 12:36-27  “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Ephesians 4:29 ” Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Whether in Facebook comments, Twitter “tweets”, texts, emails or even in face to face dialogue we must not give ourselves permission to engage in disrespectful, angry tones.  We cannot be people who celebrate a persons hardships or failures; we cannot be  people who mock and laugh those who also call America home.  If we do, we will cease to be the great nation we want to be.

I was in kindergarten when my teacher taught my class of 5 years old children that it was important to “do unto others as we wanted them to do unto us.”  That age-old wisdom still holds true today.  America, let’s stop all the harsh, hateful rhetoric rather let’s set an example for those young eyes that are watching us and will be the next generation.  Let’s change our tone together: not doing so is going to have continued widespread harm.

We are better than that; we are the United States of America.

Some Relationships are Worth Extra Effort~

 

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Do you hate conflict? I sure do!! I used to run from it for many years; never expressing myself, wanting to please and appease! But I have learned two things:

1.  It’s so important to address challenges/disagreements in relationships.

2.  It’s so important to be willing to be humble to “not be right” in order to maintain relationships that DO matter.

In my life I am clearly aware that I have friendships/relationships that I want to, well, last forever.  There are times, even in those key relationships, that there may be disagreements.  How do we navigate some of those challenges without losing the friendship? Well, I am still learning.

There are times when it’s important to set boundaries on toxic or untrustworthy relationships…but there are also times when we might want to walk away from a relationship where there has been a challenge and yet, we know in our hearts we want them in our life!

Questions we can ask ourselves in these instances are these:

1. Though there may be a conflict right now, would I be saddened to lose my relationship because of our present challenge?

2.  Could there be a bridge built in our relationship if I humble myself and try to understand the heart and season of my friend?

3. Can I extend grace and am I willing to move forward?

Relationships are so important, take care, wisdom, and a humble heart to navigate~~ but they are worth it!!!

Proverbs 17:17A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity.

John 15:13“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

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. 🙂

Airports~~

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I’ve done a lot of airplane travel over the past year.  I remember as a kid the idea of flying on a plane caused me to much excitement that I could not sleep all night just thinking about my upcoming adventure.  Though I am thankful for the option of taking a flight rather than embarking on a LONG drive; I no longer find it thrilling.

One thing I find especially interesting is the magnitude of people; all walks of life, all ages, all religious beliefs, all occupations gathering in one place to get to and from business or family connections.  Does God have His eye on each one of them? Is He mindful of their lives?

As I look at each face I imagine what their life may be, where they are headed, or what their family may be like. Based on their clothes, accent, or age I come to my own conclusions about them.  Yet, I am quickly reminded that scripture is clear that ” man looks at the outer appearance, while God looks at the heart.”  Even if my conclusions are not in any way critical, I still don’t really know their story or the condition of their heart like God does.

Being at the airport reminds me again and again how big and broad God’s view of us is; my world and context is so small!  Being at the airport reminds me to try to see “other travelers” with Gods point of view and compassion.  Perhaps you have a place you frequent where people regularly gather; school, Starbucks, church, or even a park. When you look around at the faces, think about how God might see them. It will change your perspective as it has mine.

Just something to consider on this blustery Sunday. 🙂

I am a Millionaire~~

I am on vacation with my family…On the island of Kauai. This fact alone is enviable and I apologize if it even remotely appears I could be bragging.  However, this trip is not what makes me a millionaire! Rather, it is the people I am sharing this experience with that makes me feel incredibly rich!

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Today we spent 6 hours on a lovely beach; the sun, palm trees, and amazing, warm waters were sincerely lovely BUT the sweet conversations, deep laughter, family banter, rough housing, and the love expressed remind me again, I AM RICH!!

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My family fills my heart.  These individuals are kind, smart and interesting. Watching them interact, respond kindly to those we encounter, and listening to their thoughts and engaging ideas, make me a MILLIONAIRE! It does!  I am deeply grateful and I do not take this precious family for granted!

I pray that when you experience your own families you feel so rich, so fortunate, so blessed~~ Aloha, my friends! 🙂

To the Ladies~ Respectfully.

Dear Ladies, I wanted to bring to your attention an interesting situation that I have encountered A LOT!  As women, we all want to be treated kindly, spoken to with respect, be cared for, and to have the freedom to “decide” whether we want to engage in intimacy or if we do not; to have the freedom to reject or accept the idea.

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However, so often, as wives we give ourselves the freedom to have a sharp tongue, and to allow our husbands to experience rejection physically.

OUCH– I am stepping on sacred ground, I know. However I have heard this time and time again!

I would be amiss not to address this discrepancy.  IF your husband “rejected you” or used sharp words towards you –I imagine you would be quite unhappy. How can we respond to our “love” in a way the WE would want to be treated??  What would it look like if we only used voice tones that would be acceptable to us??

I can only imagine that our relationships would improve!

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What are your thoughts; I welcome them! 🙂

I am a firm believer of ‘what you give is what you get in return’ as far as human behavior is concerned. If you are a kind wife to your Husband and treat him right, he would cherish you, love you and nurture you in return.

Test it out! I pray your relationships flourish in a fresh way!

Luke 6:31 Says “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”  🙂