Your Spouse Isn’t The Person You Married

GettyImages-sb10065243e-001 (1)Jill: Today is Mark’s birthday! Happy Happy Birthday to my man!

Mark: You know, it’s always been important to me to have a big, birthday celebration. Interestingly, the older I get, I desire smaller celebrations.

Jill: Which brings us to today’s Marriage Monday thought: Your spouse isn’t the person you married.

Mark: It seems like a crazy statement, but it’s the truth. Your spouse will change and so will you. So the question we need to ask ourselves is this: Am I plowing forward with “old info” or am I tuning into the changes happening in me and those happening in my spouse?”

Jill: Celebrations are a great place to ask questions like:

  • Your birthday is coming up. How do you want to celebrate?
  • I’m thinking about Thanksgiving. What would be your perfect Thanksgiving day?
  • Our anniversary is next month, what would you like that to look like?

Mark: It’s easy to assume that we know what our spouse wants based upon past experience. However, your spouse is a changing, developing, maturing, growing human being. If we know that, we can make an effort to explore, discover, and learn about our mate and their changing desires.

Jill: So I asked Mark what he wanted to do for his birthday. “Just a little celebration,” he said. And there was a change from his usual request for German Chocolate cake to something more healthy.

Mark: 56 years of birthdays causes a person to look at what’s really important in life. I’m still an extrovert that loves a good party, but my circle has grown smaller and my desires have changed. So I’m paying attention to those changes and communicating them as well!

What about you? Are you allowing your spouse to change? Are you tuning into his or her changing likes and dislikes?  Is there a celebration coming up where you can give him or her a chance to share their thoughts? 

Posted in Marriage | Leave a comment

Love Lived Out

Today I have the privilege of encouraging several hundred aspiring writers and speakers at the Proverbs 31 She Speaks conference in Concord, North Carolina. As I was preparing my keynote message for the writers today, God inspired me to drill down I Corinthians 13 to the practical.

You may not be an aspiring writer, but anytime we can personalize scripture it helps move the Truth from our head to our heart. Here are the words I shared today. I encourage you to personalize it in whatever way would make applicable to you:

I Corinthians 13 For Writers

If I write 3000 words a day, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another person who thinks she has something to say.

If I dedicate my book to my children, write to pay for their college, and have 10,000 followers on Twitter, but do not show love to my family, my words are empty.

If I write for the church newsletter, have one of my devotionals published and give all that I have to leading women to God, but do not show love to my family, it does me no good.

Love steps away from the computer when the husband comes home. Love stops the writing to watch the 10-year-old show off her new gymnastics skill. Love listens to the neighbor even when a writing deadline looms.

Love is patient and kind. It does not envy other writers who make the bestsellers list.

Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres even through dozens of rejection letters.

Love never fails. As for printed words, they will pass away.  Where there are blogs, they will someday become silent. Where there are contracts, those too will cease to exist.

And while stories must be told, they first must be lived. There is faith. There is hope.  And with Jesus in the center, there is love. May I never forget, the greatest impact I can make is with love.  

Posted in Faith | 3 Comments

We’re done!

IMG_7150Mark: We’re done!  The manuscript for No More Perfect Marriages is being turned in today!

Jill: We’re so excited, we’re doing backflips over here.

Mark: Well we would if we could!

Jill: The last two weeks have been a little crazy trying to get this finished so we apologize for not getting a Marriage Monday out like usual! We think it’s worth the wait though because we are sooooooo excited about creating this for you!

Mark: The book will release Feb 1 but believe it or not, you can already pre-order it on Amazon! Crazy!

Jill: We’re celebrating over here in Normal, Illinois!

Mark: And we plan to get some sleep now. This thing has kept us up way too late way too many nights!

Jill: Finishing this has definitely been the best thing about this summer! We’re curious…what’s been the best thing about your summer?

Posted in Marriage | 2 Comments

You Can Win These Battles

Leighann_McCoy_headshotToday’s post is from Leighann McCoy who authored the book Spiritual Warfare for Your Family, What You Need to Know to Protect Your Children (Bethany House, 2016). Through her books and online resources, she is on a mission to empower families to win the war.

Leighann writes out of real-life experience. The week after she began writing Spiritual Warfare for Women, her 18-year-old daughter left home to live with her boyfriend and became pregnant. As Leighann lay on the floor of her daughter’s bedroom crying out in desperation, she put her own teaching to the test. Two years later, Leighann began work on A Woman’s Guide to Hearing the Voice of God, when she was diagnosed with a recurrence of colon cancer in her liver. Through it all, she remained certain that God meticulously and methodically works all things together for our good and His glory.

Visit Leighann online at www.LeighannMcCoy.com

***************************************************************************

There are terrible, no good, very bad things wrecking our families and I don’t like it. Spiritual warfare is real, and our children are under attack. Don’t let this fact scare you, instead learn more about the war, step into your rightful place as a warrior (who doesn’t need to be afraid), and learn to exercise the authority and power God’s given you to protect your family.

As I write these words, I’m smiling at myself, I’m not a decorated 5 star general but rather a battle scarred momma. And although I don’t know the specific battle you’re facing, I have faced a few myself and have discovered three incredible weapons that will defeat whatever yours might be:

  1. You have the divine weapon of acceptance. Because God tells you the truth, He gives you the power to accept truth in all situations. In the Bible you can find over 3000 promises. At least one of those is applicable to your situation. As you read God’s Word, invite Him to reveal your promise to you. Then accept that truth no matter what the devil does to challenge it.
  2. You have the divine weapons of praise and thanksgiving. Praise announces the truth about God’s character. When you choose praise (regardless of your circumstances) you build an impenetrable defense against doubt and unbelief. And because trusting God more wins the war, praise is powerful. Praise announces truth and thanksgiving announces fact. When you recall specific things God’s done in the past you realize that whatever He’s yet to do in your present is going to happen, it’s simply a matter of time. Thanksgiving will open your eyes to see God working and therefore make you immune to the devil’s poison of deception.
  3. You have the divine weapon of intercession. An intercessor is someone who takes up the cause of another and makes an appeal on their behalf. God invites you to be an intercessor for your children. Your prayers are powerful and God is always answering them. Don’t be distracted by the obvious and don’t mistake God’s silence for inactivity. God does some of His most powerful work undercover.

You are fighting battles that are spiritual in nature, created by thoughts and feelings. God knows what you are facing and His grace is sufficient to give you all that you need to overcome. Implement these weapons of war by doing these things:

  1. Claim the promise God intends to keep on your behalf.  You might be able to find help for the issue you are facing online at leighannmccoy.com/SpiritualWarfareTools Click here for more Bible verses on specific topics.
  2. Practice praise and thanksgiving. Before you do anything—list 10 things for which you are thankful. Create this list daily. Get in the habit of reading the Psalms aloud. There is great power in the spoken Word of God, especially those songs of praise found in the Psalms.
  3. Journal the prayers you pray for your children. Jot down your specific requests for your children. Keep a record of what happens as a direct result of your prayers.

You’re not crazy, there really is a battle waging. God wants you to know He is for you, He is with you and He is not going to leave or forsake you. You can win with Him.

Are you in a battle? Use these strategies to stand in the gap for your family today! 

Posted in Faith, Parenting | 1 Comment

Don’t Just Join…Invite!

Join InviteLast week I heard from a mom who has felt very frustrated in her friendships. She feels like she has joined so many groups looking for friendships, but they’ve never formed.

I understand her frustration.  That was me many years ago.  I felt like I did my best to join groups and be involved in all kinds of things. Friendships just never formed until I changed my strategy and moved from just “joining” to “inviting.”

Once I joined a group, I started inviting. I invited a mom and her kids over for a play date. I invited someone I met to meet me for coffee.  When I left my moms group, I always invited someone over to have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. I invited a “possible new friend” to bring her kids and meet my kids and me at the park.  Suddenly I began to see the beginnings of friendship forming!

When I started leading a moms group, I told the moms in my group, “Mom To Mom is where you’ll meet some wonderful women.  Your living room is where you’ll build some wonderful friendships.” In other words, you have to invite!

If you’re not comfortable having someone in your home, that’s fine! Meet for coffee, meet at a park, or go for a walk!

Are you tired of always being the one to invite?  I hear that complaint from women a lot. I understand. Even today, with years of friendship under my belt, I invite 10 times more than I’m ever invited. I think it’s a reality of trying to connect with busy moms. I also think it’s a reality of connecting with others in a pseudo-connected world. We’re so connected online that we feel more connected than we really are. Not only that but we aren’t flexing our in-person relational muscles nearly as often as we need to so people are more hesitant to invite because they’re insecure in reaching out and often afraid of rejection.

BetterTogether_COV_FlatSo today I want to encourage you to not only join, but invite!

Invite another mom to join you at the park.

Invite a woman you’ve met at church to meet you for a cup of coffee.

Invite a mom you talk to while watching your daughter’s gymnastics class to get the kids together outside of class.

It’s scary. Even a little risky. You might get a no…and if you do, invite someone else!

After all, we mom better when we mom together! 

Need some encouragement in your friendships? Sign up for the FREE 7 Days To Better Friendships E-Challenge today!

Posted in Taking Care of Me | Leave a comment

Finding Balance: One Major One Minor

GettyImages-492655814You are smart. You are talented. You will probably be asked to do lots of things.

Work at Vacation Bible School. Serve as room mom. Coach the soccer team. Serve on the moms group leadership team.  Then you might throw a full or part-time job in there.

Can you say stressed?

For many years I said yes to too much and my health, my laundry, my meals, my family, my marriage, and my spiritual life suffered because of it. I knew I had to change something. That’s when a friend shared with me a guideline she followed for finding balance: one major, one minor.

This boundary is an advance decision I make to only commit to one major responsibility and one minor responsibility outside the home at a time.

A major responsibility is something that I have on a regular (weekly) basis like committing to teach Sunday School, leading a moms group, or even full-time work.  It requires daily or weekly (or almost weekly) preparation and a regular commitment.

A minor responsibility is a “just show up” responsibility.  Working in the church nursery or helping with my child’s Christmas party at school are minor responsibilities.  No prep needed, just show up, serve, and leave.

Did you know Hearts at Home has a book on finding balance?

If I get asked to do a Major responsibility, I have to make a choice: either quit the major responsibility I’m currently doing or say no to the request.

I started using this boundary many years ago when I was home full-time and it applied only to my volunteer activities.  Now, however, my nest is nearly empty and I’m working full-time at Hearts at Home.  No more major responsibilities for me.

Do I grieve that?  Yes.  Are there some things I’d love to say yes to?  Yes.

But am I less stressed and more focused as a wife and mother?  Absolutely!

That’s the beauty of boundaries!

What about you? Do you have a boundary/guideline you use to determine how many activities you say yes to? 

Posted in Taking Care of Me | 4 Comments

There’s A Whole Lot More God In Me

Mark: Jill and I spent the weekend in Cincinnati. She had the privilege of speaking at the AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) conference on Saturday. We decided to stay an extra day since Saturday was our anniversary.

Jill: Getting away to have couple time is so important. We explored together. Enjoyed some down time at the hotel. Spent time with friends.

Mark: Our friends asked us how we were doing. They’re the kind of friends who ask that and then lean in and say, “How are you really doing?”

Jill: “We’re doing well,” we responded. “We really are!” Then they asked, “What’s making the biggest difference?”  Mark’s answer was so on target when he said, “There’s a whole lot more God in me.”

Mark: I’m trusting Him more. I’m surrendered to Him like never before. I’m pursuing His Word and truly applying it to my everyday choices.

Jill: Keeping God at the center of each of our lives is what makes a good marriage. This is what we wrote on Facebook on Saturday:

IMG_704733 years.

33 years of forgiving.

33 years of giving grace.

33 years of learning about ourselves.

33 years of learning about each other.

33 years of adjusting expectations.

33 years of growing in our faith.

33 years of learning to love well.

It’s been messy at times.

It’s not been easy.

It’s not been perfect, but God has been perfecting us through marriage. We’ve come to understand that is what marriage is really all about.

Mark: Marriage is hard. Yet, if we allow God to use it to soften our rough edges, He can form us into the person He knows we can become.

What about you? Is there any place where you need more God in you when it comes to your marriage? 

Posted in Marriage | Tagged | Leave a comment

Downsize In Order To Upsize

GettyImages-117149310 (1)Mark: Last night we enjoyed the fine art of porching. You know, we sat out on the porch for hours just talking, laughing, telling stories, and enjoying the time with friends and family. Relationships take time. In order to tune in, connect with, and really have intimacy with another person we need to slow down enough to have deeper conversations.

Jill: The same thing needs to happen with our spouse. Marriage requires us to downshift more often than many of us realize.

Mark: When we’re spinning too many plates we touch each plate less often. Relationships that really matter, can’t be tossed, but instead must be held. This requires us to slow our pace and give relationships the space they need.

Jill: When life is moving faster than is healthy for our relationships, it’s easy to minimize and criticize. Internally we say to ourselves, “I don’t have the time or energy to deal with this,” or “She doesn’t have time for me,” or “He doesn’t care.” This kind of self-talk puts distance between us and our spouse. It erodes intimacy and pulls us apart when we need to be drawing closer.

Mark: So how do you tune out the world and tune in to your marriage? Here are five practical ways to increase margin and decrease minimizing and criticizing:

Eat dinner around the table. Drive-thru relationships are just as unhealthy as drive-through food. Make dinner prep something you do as a couple. Then linger at the table and talk. Make mealtime as much about relationship as it is about food.

Put away your screens. Determine where and when screens are fine and where they need to be tucked away or turned off. Mealtime. Conversations. Vacation. Date night. These are all places where our screens need to be put away. Will this take some self-control? Probably. Will doing so communicate value to your loved ones? Absolutely. It will also increase your patience and decrease your temptation to minimize.

Stop. Look. Listen. We use these three words to teach our kids how to cross the street. We also need to use them to teach ourselves how to cross into our spouse’s world. When your loved one enters into your space, stop what you’re doing. Close the computer. Pause the television or video game. Walk away from your task to warmly greet him or her. Look at him or her fully. Maintain eye contact. Then listen with your eyes and your ears. Listen to learn. To hear his question. To understand her feelings.

Connect and Catch Up. If you have little ones, take some time to talk after the kids are in bed. Are you empty nesters? You still have to be intentional about setting aside time to connect. In the summer, enjoy the porch together. In the winter, resist the urge to flip on the television or hop on the computer until you’ve taken some time to connect and catch up. Take a few minutes to ask questions like, “What was the best part of your day?” or “What was the hardest part of your day?” or “What’s bothering you the most and how can I help you?” or “What’s weighing heavy on you today?” or “How can I be praying for you?” These connecting questions help us maximize interest.

Date Your Mate. Life is busy, so you have to set aside space in your days, weeks, and months to nurture your marriage. Create a repeating schedule you both prioritize for time together. Sometimes that may be as simple as the first thirty minutes after the kids are in bed. Ideally, it is once a week or once every other week or, at a minimum, once a month where you get a sitter/let the kids go to grandma’s/trade sitting with another couple and enjoy some focused time without interruptions. Even if you’re empty nesters, date night is important because you’re getting away from the everyday routine and focusing on each other. Slowing down and taking time to relate is essential in sustaining intimacy.

What about you? What have you done to downsize activities in order to upsize your relationships?

Posted in Marriage | Leave a comment

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

Dad,

I am so grateful for you.

You showed me how to love. You have always showed unconditional love.FullSizeRender

You showed me how to lead. I watched you lead at work, at church, and in the community.

You shared with me your love of music. I loved doing community theater with you when I was a teenager. I always enjoyed doing the Christmas and Easter cantatas at church with you.

You showed me how to serve. You’ve always been willing to help those around you. You’ve served our family in so many ways.

You showed me how to garden and we enjoy the fresh vegetables every summer because of the “seeds” you planted in my heart many years ago.

You showed me how to grandparent. You’ve been there for my kids even across the miles. You and mom didn’t hesitate to make a 5 hour round trip for a grandchild’s baseball game or a choir concert.

You showed me how to live a life of integrity and you showed me how to love Jesus.

I’m so grateful for you and your influence upon my life. That’s why today I honor you.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

Posted in Miscellany | Leave a comment

10 Summer Sanity Savers Every Mom Needs to Know

106413773 (2)

It’s June and most of us are a week or two into summer break.

Every mom needs some strategies in place to make the summer a positive experience for everyone.

Today I offer you 10 Sanity Savers you can put into action to make this summer the best it can be!

Sanity Saver #1: Take care of yourself.
What will you doing to keep your emotional fuel tank refueled? What activities refresh you? Proactively plan those into your daily/weekly schedule. Don’t wait until your tank is empty…fill up regularly!

If you are at home, your kids are with you 24/7. Create a moms night out once a week with a friend, or trade “days off” with another mom whose kids are close in age to your kids.

If you are working full-time, it takes a lot more effort in the summer to make sure the kids are busy and where they need to be. Make sure you are taking care of yourself in order to really be able to take care of your family.

Sanity Saver #2: Create a routine.
It’s hard to go from the tight routine of school to very little routine in the summer. While it’s important to not schedule every minute, a loose routine can give structure to summer days. Maybe Monday is swimming day, Tuesday library day, Wednesday friend day, Thursday house and laundry day, and Friday free day. A schedule can guide planning and give some sense of security to our kids.  It also answers the most asked questions, “Can we go to the pool?” “Can I have a friend over?” “When can we go to the library?”  Those don’t have to be the ONLY days you do those activities, but those are the days the kids can count on.

Sanity Saver #3: Set boundaries.
Kids are more likely to stay within boundaries if they actually know what those boundaries are. How much television is ok? How long on video games?

We found the kitchen timer to be helpful with video games or TV with our 1 hour on/1 hour off boundary. The boys would set the timer before they would get on the game. (If I found them playing video games without a timer set, they lost video games for the rest of the day.)

Sanity Saver #4: Rest every day.
If you are a stay-at-home mom, this is really important…for you…and for your kids! Even if your kids are no longer taking naps, a rest time is really important to give them time to play apart from their siblings and kids in the neighborhood.  This is when my older kids learned the joy of reading or building with Legos.  We usually set the timer for 1 hour. When the timer went off, they knew rest time was over.

Sanity Saver #5: Make summer drinks easy.
When the kids are playing hard in the summer, they are always thirsty. I discovered one summer that a cooler full of ice water set out on the deck was such a time and mess-saver! Each morning, I filled a 5 gallon water cooler with ice and water.  I put a tray next to the cooler with cups labeled with their names (including the kids in the neighborhood!). When they wanted a drink, they were able to get it themselves without a mess in the kitchen.  I’d use the tray as a place to put fruit snacks, granola bars, or cookies for a morning and afternoon snacks.  It allowed them some self-serve independence!

Sanity Saver #6: Give opportunities to learn something new.
Summer is a great time for kids to learn new skills like cooking, gardening, or laundry. Take the time to teach them how to do a new skill and then give them ample opportunity to practice. If you have junior high or high school age children, they can be in charge of one meal a week. Grade-schoolers can learn to do laundry and be in charge of a couple of loads a week. This gives kids ownership and a sense of pride about contributing to the family. It also teaches them lifelong skills.

Sanity Saver #7: Lower your expectations.
Our frustration with our kids usually happens when our expectations intersect with reality.

  • Expect messes in the summer. They will happen.
  • Expect sibling rivalry. It’s a part of having more than one child.
  • Expect whining. Kids do this when they are tired.
  • Expect boredom. It’s actually healthy for them to be bored because it cultivates creativity.

When you lower your expectations, you’ll be far more content with reality. If you need a little more encouragement in that area, you might pick up No More Perfect Kids: Love Your Kids for Who They Are for some summer reading!

Sanity Saver #8: Learn to be a “Yes!” Mom
A couple of summers ago, I started the “Yes Mom Challenge.”  When I started to pay attention to how much I said no and why I said no, I discovered it usually had something to do with my selfish reasons. I didn’t want to deal with a mess. I didn’t want to be inconvenienced. I didn’t want to have more work to do.  That’s not fun to admit, but it was true. My selfishness was robbing my kids of some of the joy of just being kids!  Learn to be a yes mom and you’ll find the summer more enjoyable for everyone!

Sanity Saver #9: Make an “I’m bored” jar
At some point we all deal with “I’m bored.” When that happens, I usually tell my kids that they can find something to do or I’ll be happy to find something for them to do. It’s interesting how quickly they find something to do!  However, if you have younger kids, an “I’m bored” jar can also be helpful.  Simply fill out slips of paper with activities they can do like these:

  • Color a picture for Grandma
  • Write a letter to Grandma (and address the envelope!)
  • Make a fort
  • Build a castle with blocks
  • Put together a puzzle
  • Do “Winter in the summer” and cut out snowflakes
  • Have a tea party
  • Write a story

If you don’t want to do an “I’m bored” jar for the kids to pick a paper out, you can also keep an “I’m bored” list that puts suggestions at your fingertips.

Sanity Saver #10:  Let go and enjoy
We all want the “perfect summer” for our kids, but rather than activities and schedules making up the perfect summer, it’s actually the not-scheduled spontaneous activities that make memories: running in the sprinkler, having picnics on the porch, looking for shapes in the clouds, and catching fireflies after dark.   Sure, have some plans in place, but let spontaneity lead the way.

Prioritize relationships over tasks.

Be creative and make some messes.

Lecture less and laugh more.

These are the elements that make up a beautiful summer.

What about you? Would you add any more “tried and true” strategies to this list? 

Posted in Parenting | 9 Comments

Forgiveness: You Need To Offer It Everyday

GettyImages-168623617Mark: Jill didn’t hear what I said. I had to choose to forgive. 

Jill: Mark forgot to stop at the grocery store to pick up cat food on his way home.  I had to forgive. 

Mark: Jill didn’t turn on the air conditioning like I hoped she would. I had to choose to forgive. 

Jill: Mark was too tired to watch the movie I’d hoped we could watch together. I had to forgive. 

Mark: Forgiveness is a term we’re all familiar with, but it’s underused in most marriages. Because you live with another imperfect human being you probably need to forgive well over a dozen times a day. This is how we handle imperfections, both our spouses and our own.

Jill: It’s also how we keep our heart uncluttered and available to God, downshifting our anger so we can let go of offenses or have needed conversations without too much emotion getting in the way.

Mark: Forgiveness is an intentional and voluntary internal choice where you experience a change in feelings and attitude regarding a hurt. The result of forgiveness is freedom. You’re free from being controlled by the negative emotions surrounding whatever it was that happened and hurt you.

Jill: Forgiveness is NOT condoning. If you forgive, it doesn’t say that what happened was okay. Forgiveness is NOT excusing. The person being forgiven is still responsible for their action. Forgiveness is NOT forgetting. The action did happen and is a part of the fabric of the relationship. Forgiveness IS about cleaning out the clutter in our heart.

Mark: Forgiveness is almost always a crisis of the will. We never feel like forgiving. However, a feeling of relief almost always follows obedience when we do forgive.

 

Jill: God wants us to know and experience His forgiveness and to then extend it to others. Too often we think forgiveness is only needed for the big infractions of trust. Not so. This is a tool you and I need to use day by day, hour by hour, and on the tough days, minute by minute.

Mark: Before you go to bed tonight, I promise you’ll have some opportunity to forgive your spouse. When you’re disappointed or frustrated, instead of lashing out….forgive.

Jill: It will do wonders for your heart…and your marriage.

Posted in Marriage | Leave a comment

Do The Right Thing

GettyImages-468819474Mark says: Jill and I are on day 3 of a long weekend getaway working on the No More Perfect Marriages book. We’re really getting excited about this message!

Jill says: We’re still looking for a few more pre-reading couples for the book. We’re also looking for 3 men and 3 women whose spouses won’t be interested in reading to serve as pre-readers as well. If you’re interested in being a pre-reader, you can find the info here.

Mark says: As we were thinking about today’s Marriage Monday, I thought about something that happened last week. My construction crew and I had been working on the roof of a customer’s home, repairing, replacing, and staining cedar siding for much of the week. I came home Thursday night exhausted from both the job and the heat. I turned into our driveway with one goal in mind: find the remote! As I drove down our somewhat long country driveway, I noticed Jill was weeding our yard and our daughter Erica was working in the garden. In that moment I knew I had a decision to make.

Jill says: Thursday was a beautiful day and I needed to get some weeding done. I was really looking forward to being outside. I needed to get away from the computer and enjoy some fresh air. We have 2.5 acres of yard so there’s quite a bit of weeding to stay on top of. With my surgery three weeks ago (which came back benign…thank you, God!), I’m way behind on weeding.

Mark says: I made a decision to join Jill in the yard.  It was the right thing to do.  I sprayed the weeds that were overtaking our lane and helped Jill weed our berm where crabgrass had taken over.

Jill says: I really didn’t expect Mark to help with the weeding. I knew his week had been a long one working on that roof. I was really relieved that he came to help me, though. In fact, it was a huge gift to me and it connected us in a week where we’d gone in a lot of different directions.

Mark says: Doing the right thing many times is a crisis of our will. But when we serve with a willing heart we are a blessing and in turn we will be blessed. We choose to do the right thing because we love those around us.

Jill says: Mark’s decision not only helped me but it gave us the opportunity to talk and connect. And after we finished weeding, I made sure he had some remote therapy!

What about you? What are some examples where you have done the right thing even when you didn’t feel like it? When have you faced a crisis of your will and had to push through your feelings to make a right choice? 

Posted in Marriage | Leave a comment

Surviving The Stress of Moving

I remember when Mark and I packed up a U-Haul and moved our family from Indianapolis, Indiana to Lincoln, Illinois. We had a two-year-old and a six-week old.

Two years later we moved our family from Lincoln, Illinois to Bloomington, Illinois. Oh how I wish I’d had the wisdom of my friend Susan to navigate those moves well.

Today’s post is from Susan Miller, author of After The Boxes are Unpacked. A popular Hearts at Home workshop speaker, Susan is also an author, and founder of Just Moved Ministry, which has been bringing hope to the uprooted woman for twenty-one years.

Susan loves country music, geraniums, lattes, and kick boxing.  Stop by www.justmoved.org to find more encouragement if you are moving (or share this with a friend who’s moving or has recently moved!)

************************************************************************

susan.am-moving-coach-logo150pxIf you have recently moved, or will be moving in the near future, I want to encourage your heart.  From one who has traveled that road by relocating 14 times, I know the emotional journey ahead of you.  I also know that moving will affect every aspect of your life.

Plain and simple, moving is CHANGE!  It will have an effect on your marriage, your children, your job, your relationships, and your life, because it will bring change to each of those areas.  Moving is more than loading and unloading your possessions.  It’s as if you are packing your whole life in brown boxes!  You are leaving behind everything familiar to face the unknown.  You lose a sense of community and connectedness.

Perhaps you, or a friend who is moving, needs hope and encouragement to get through the major impact of a move. This three-step process not only helped me survive, but also thrive through transition.  It all began with the choice to either be open or closed to change.

The first step I had to take was to choose to let go. I had to make the choice to cherish, rather than cling, to anything or anyone that would prevent me from starting over and moving forward with my life.

Next, I had to choose to start over, even if I didn’t want to!  Until I accepted the reality of having to start all over again, I couldn’t be ready to move forward with my life.

Finally, I had to choose to move forward.  It was time to come full circle with my move, put aside my pity party, and do whatever it took to put down roots.

I know what you are thinking, “How will I begin to put down roots in this unfamiliar place, and start all over again?” Make an intentional choice, as hard as it might be, to get involved with other people. Go for a walk in the neighborhood. Join a Bible Study, an aerobics class, a cooking class, or a book club (any activity of interest). Volunteer in your community, church, or school. Reach out to someone who, like yourself, needs a friend.  In time, your last box will be unpacked, the world around you will become familiar, your family will settle in, and you will begin to call this new place your home.

To encourage you on your journey, try these practical steps to smooth the bumpy road ahead.

  • Stop and smell the flowers along the way. Take time to be good to yourself!  Schedule some self-care by taking a break to rest, restore and renew your mind and body.
  • Ask for help. Don’t be the “lone ranger” and feel like you have to do it alone.  Let others be a part of the relocation process with you.
  • When the heat is up, stay cool. When stress is rising and the pressure is on, keep a sense of humor and be flexible.
  • It’s okay to cry if you want to. With change, comes loss and grieving. Your release valve may be tears.
  •  Some things you just have to do. And, having closure with people and places you care about is one of them. So often in the busyness of tasks, we forget to say goodbye in a meaningful way.
  • Rise to the occasion. Stretch beyond your comfort zone. Embrace the changes this move brings as an opportunity to learn and grow personally.
  • Take one day, one step at a time. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your house won’t be settled in a day either. Don’t lose heart and don’t give up!
  • Don’t sweat the little things. Something always seems to get broken, lost, or damaged in transition. Keep perspective. Remember, they are just things.
  •  Join up and join in. Raise your hand, and say yes! It’s the first step to meet people, and make friends. 
  • Be a tourist. Take a break and tour the local area. Google what to see and places to go in your city, or town. Make it an adventure with your children.

And remember, God’s presence will never leave you. You are not alone in this move. He accompanies you, has gone before you, and will be waiting for you with open arms.

What about you? What wisdom would you add to Susan’s for someone who’s moving? 

Posted in Taking Care of Me | Leave a comment