Cars, children, finances, marriages, friendships; what do all these things have in common? There may be several correct answers, but the one in my mind is that they all take maintenance in order to avert a necessary crisis response.
If you give your car regularly oil changes, put gas in it regularly, give it a tune up every now and then, you can often avoid or at least catch larger problems before they hit crisis mode. If you spend a little time communicating with your children everyday, stay involved in things that they are involved in, and ask questions on a consistent basis, you have a better chance of avoiding huge problems or at least catching them early. Making time for your spouse (such as a regular date night), making them a daily priority, and communicating in an open and honest way daily, can often lead to less crises in a marriage. I hope you get the point I’m trying to make.
So, I want to take this to a different level. In The Journey Training, I learned the benefit of loving and supporting others in my life. This wasn’t totally a new concept for me but it gave me a different perspective on the subject. Previously, I thought it was my responsibility to guess how to love and support others in my life and basically hoped that they would guess right when it came to loving and supporting me.
In The Journey Training, they suggested the idea that it could be better to just ask the person how they would like to be loved and supported. You see, everyone receives love in different ways. What I think may help them or show them love, isn’t necessarily what they need or want. I liked this idea and decided to use it outside the training room to see how it would really work.
I started asking my kids, friends, and even coworkers how I could love or support them. I got so many different answers that I would never have thought of. However, as time went on, I found that I only asked people the question of “how can I love and support you?” during times that I knew they were in crisis. Sure, this showed the person that I would help them if they were on fire. But did it communicate to them that I really cared enough about them to show love and support on a more consistent basis (maintenance versus crisis)?
Matthew 22:39 says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I started thinking. I wanted to be known, loved and supported by others on a consistent basis, not just when I was experiencing a crisis in my life. Then I realized, if I asked those I care about regularly how I can love and support them in day to day life, then maybe when they hit crisis mode, I would at least have a base line for what they need even if they didn’t know what to ask for in the moment.
Sometimes a little bit of effort, every day or every week, will pay off in the long run when we, ourselves , or those we love need it. So, don’t be afraid to
ask the question or to answer it if someone asks you; how can I love and support you?
Trust, a word that I keep coming across a lot in my life lately. I don’t know about you, but when a word seems to reoccur in my life over a period of time, I finally ask myself and God, “Ok, what about this word am I supposed to learn?”
I know that trust is a big deal for a lot of people. In The Journey Training, it’s a big focus of the Threshold weekend. I used to consider myself a pretty trusting individual until I was recently forced to take a deeper look at what this word really means and how it affects the way I live my life.
When I ponder the idea of trust, I used to think that who I did or did not trust was based on the other person and how they treated me. If someone consistently lied to me or was always late for meetings with me or seemed to break promises, I tended to not trust them, or at least trust them less (is that really a thing?). However, I’ve recently been challenged to reevaluate my view of trust, especially when it comes to God, His kids, and those I call my closest friends.
Proverbs 3:5-6 from the Message Bible says, “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure everything out on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all.” Most of us who profess to be Christians have heard this passage several times. However, do you know what it really means? Do you find it easy to fully trust God from the bottom of your heart, with everything you have? I know, for me, fully trusting God is a hard concept to grasp; and it has nothing to do with God but everything to do with me.
Due to some health issues lately, my vulnerability and trust levels have increased greatly. I thought I was trusting before, but when things got downright hopeless, I realized I was closing myself off to God and those who genuinely cared about me because I didn’t want to be hurt worse, or seen as weak and unable to handle life. Everywhere I went I saw the word TRUST staring me in the face. It was in my daily devotions; it was in the sermons at church; it was glaring at me when volunteering at The Journey Training weekends. Everywhere I looked, trust surrounded me but I still wasn’t getting it.
So, I began to ask God and also talk to some of the people around me. Trust is a choice and in order to live out my purpose I wanted/needed to figure this out. Trust, to me, means that I am willing to be so authentic with you (or God or whoever), that I recognize the possibility of getting hurt and still choose to do so in order to receive the benefits of the relationship. Trusting God means I choose to believe that He has my best interest at heart and admitting that I can’t do it all by myself and His ways are better. Trusting God means, no matter what I’m feeling or what I’m seeing, I’m still open enough to share my feelings with Him and choose to believe that He is listening.
How does this translate into other relationships? Well, I’ve come to find that if people say they care and want to help you, then you should be real and vulnerable enough to give them a chance. I am a human, and no matter how much I would love to believe that I am all of the super heroes rolled into one (you know, the GREATEST person ever!), I have weaknesses and limitations. God created me (and you) to be connected with others in relationship for a reason. We can’t do life all alone, but all together, we can handle just about anything with His help.
So, in this season of life that I find myself, I am choosing to trust on a whole new level. This choice of mine has begun to make a huge difference in my life. By being real and vulnerable with those who are around me, I have shown that I’m willing to trust God and others with things that I cannot do on my own. Because of this decision, it is opening doors and resources that God had waiting all the time. He was inviting me to trust Him and others in a new way so that He could show me how trustworthy He is and they are.
How does trust or the lack of trust affect your life? Have you ever stopped to think about it? If you’ve been through The Journey Training, you learned a little about trust and that it is a choice. If you haven’t been through the training, I challenge you to look at trust in your own life and them maybe check out The Journey Training as a way to gain more information.
Before I went through The Journey Training I thought I had my life pretty “together”, not perfect by any means but better than a lot of people. I was, of course, in complete denial! I was broken, bruised, scarred, and hurting. I could write pages of all I received from the training but I’ll save that for another time. What I will address is the fact that The Journey Training is not over at the end of Threshold or Crossroads, or even Launch – which I just completed.
After the training weekends, I continued to realize things that God was speaking to my heart long after I got home. I think God was always trying to speak to me but I had stopped hearing Him and had given up on the dreams He had placed in my heart long ago! I knew, even as a young child, He wanted to use me. But over the years, I had let the weeds of my life choke out those dreams. My heart had been broken too many times and I had stopped going to the Father for comfort. When I returned home from Journey, I felt hopeful that I would possibly hear Him again and I told Him I was open to listen!
Yesterday, I was doing my grocery shopping at Walmart with my husband Beau. We both dislike shopping, especially Walmart shopping, so we are usually rushing to get our list knocked out and get out of there. We were getting bread when I saw a young black man, in his late teens or early twenties, looking down at a list that appeared to be typed out. As I looked away to select my bread, I heard that still small voice say, “Give him 40 dollars!” My husband started off to the next aisle and I quickly followed.
I thought – oh that’s just me… how awkward would that be… he would probably think I was trying to look down on him because I am an older white woman and he is a young black man… Isn’t that just like our stupid minds to get in the way? I then thought, do I even have $40 in cash? I looked in my wallet; and of course, the only cash I had was 2 crisp twenty dollar bills!
Well, I told my husband, “I just wanted you to know, because I told that still small voice: God if that’s you, that young man will need to cross my path again before we leave this store!” Beau just looked at me funny and continued on his mission to get out of the store!! We got all the way through Walmart and were headed up to the checkout line and I said to my husband, “Well I never saw him again, it must have just been me!” I was partially relieved and partly disappointed that I had missed it!
We arrive at our well selected line; the shortest one we could find that had the most competent looking cashier. We were putting our items on the belt when I looked up; and guess who was in the line checking out at the lane in front of us? YUP, the guy! I was surprised, then excited, then terrified! I looked over at Beau and he looked at me like, what up bro?! He had no idea that was the guy and I sure wasn’t going to say it; he might hear me!
I retrieved the $40 out of my purse and had it tightly gripped in my hand. My mind was racing as I was trying to decide how I would do this without it appearing that I thought he looked like a homeless person; because he didn’t! While the young man was checking out, I paced back and forth between the 2 lanes as I was putting my own bagged groceries into my cart. The cashier gave him his total of $3.43. The young man looked surprised and said, “Oh, I’m sorry I didn’t know it would cost anything, I’ll put one of the gallons of milk back.” He was using a WIC payment, which is assistance given to families with young children. As he was reaching for one of the gallons of milk, I stepped over, handed him the $40, and said, “Sir, here. I’m supposed to give this to you.” He said, “For real?” I said, “Yes!” He paid the man and as he was leaving said, “Thank you so much!” I just smiled and waved!
This seems like such a small thing but I’m crying as I’m typing this because it was a huge thing for me! It wasn’t about the money; God has blessed us. It was about being able to hear God’s voice again and walking it out! It was about Him showing me that He is still there and still wants to use me!
I am so thankful that someone saw something in me that I couldn’t see in myself and invited me to The Journey Training! I’m also glad they didn’t let it rest until I finally agreed to go! I have my peace back; I have my hope back; I have my joy back; and I am HEARING again!
“Mind the gap” is a warning phrase issued to rail passengers in the United Kingdom (and elsewhere) to take caution while crossing the gap between the train door and the station platform. There were many factors as to why this phrase was selected but among them was the need to communicate a concise message quickly and effectively.
The technology we have available to us today allows us to communicate very quickly! We carry our phones with us everywhere we go and we text, post comments, email, or call each other whenever we want. I do love that capability!
Yet I fear this same technology is actually helping to make us more ineffective. The technology itself is not to blame. We are choosing to interact face-to-face less often. We’re even choosing to talk to each other less often while using our phones to type our messages instead. Our electronic messages are becoming shorter and shorter. Their meaning becoming less and less clear.
Important pieces of what we are truly trying to convey are falling into the gap. Because of this we are misunderstood, we become frustrated with ourselves and others, and we begin to make up stories in our head to try to fill in the gaps of what we think is missing.
We may even take things a step further by not communicating at all with those closest to us. We take advantage of our closest relationships as if they should be able to read our minds and know what we are thinking or what we want. We get upset when they don’t guess correctly and we begin to make up stories in our head about how little they must care about us.
Does any of this sound familiar?
It’s as if we are beginning to forget how to sit still, look at someone, and talk to one another. Is it time to stop looking at our electronic screens for a second and “mind the gap”?
In The Journey Training, we talk about the importance of being present with other people. It’s not that hard! We simply need to sit down with someone, look at them, and talk. Use simple questions or statements like: How can I help you today? What do you need from me? How can I love and support you? You’ll be amazed at the answers you’ll receive if you’ll only ask the questions.
Life is about relationships and we should constantly strive to create a win-win situation whenever we can. Remembering that we can choose to slow down a bit, sit down and talk, will do just that. Choose to stop allowing things to fall into the gap!
Happy marriages aren’t simply the result of great luck; they need a foundation of hard work and concrete actions taken over time. Learn how to build your marriage to unprecedented heights with these simple, actionable tips.
To say that “marriage is challenging” is like saying “dogs bark when they see squirrels” or “Mars is really far away.” In other words, it’s obvious.
What’s not so obvious? How to overcome the challenges marriage brings quarrels, jealousies, differences in opinion, raising children, financial stress, aging parents, you name it. With such a list of woes at ready command, you need an even longer list of actionable steps you can take to make your marriage the best it can be every single day.Good news: Here it is.
Good news: Here it is.
Keep the Romance Alive
• Have Bigger Conversations: Remember when you couldn’t get enough of each other’s minds? Cultivate that now, with deep conversations on meaningful topics: sports, religion, politics, and dreams, for starters.
• Know the Small Stuff: Be sure you know what’s on your partner’s calendar every day.
• Turn Back the Clock: Nothing says “I love you” like a throwback to those early days, when you were so in love that the annoying toothbrush habits didn’t matter. Do something that recalls those days, like surprise flowers or Cake Just Because.
• Get Romantic: Send a love letter! Email and snail mail both do the trick.
• Engage in Random Acts of Kindness: Those little gestures still matter, so don’t forget about them. Maybe pick up those socks once in a while…you know, without prompting?
• Sweat it Up: Getting active together creates a bunch of feel-good hormones that produces all sorts of lovey-dovey feelings.
• Cuddle in the Morning: There’s no better time of day than right when your eyes open to get a little fix of intimacy, so take advantage of it.
• Do Good: Volunteer together!
• Keep the Sex Alive: Scheduling might not seem like such a fun thing to do, but where’s the harm? At least then you know you’re having it. (Take that, Joneses!)
• Sleep Together: For real this time. Go to bed together every evening, and you’ll reap the double benefits of more snuggle time and most likely a sounder sleep schedule.
• Share Your Passions: You’ve got to do more than simply celebrate each other’s hobbies. Really dig in and get engaged in what the other person loves as well.
Maintain Your Honor
• Show Others Your Love: Always treat your spouse with respect and admiration in public, so that other people see how much they mean to you. A little PDA never hurt, either.
• Work on Yourself: Your spouse isn’t the only one who can always improve; you can too! Always be looking within and asking what could be better.
• Keep Your Word: It’s important you don’t over-schedule yourself or make too many commitments to your spouse. That way, you can follow through on everything you offer.
• Prioritize Your Marriage: Nothing takes down a marriage like putting other things before it: kids, work, personal goals. If you want support in your pursuit of what’s important in life, your marriage must be the foundation on which you build everything else.
• Fight on the Go: While arguing is necessary, it’s never pleasant. Try to get out and move whenever those negative feelings come up, and you’ll reap the benefits of an endorphin boost.
• Pick Your Battles: Trite-sounding advice, but only because it’s so, so true. If you go after every little annoyance, you’ll lose the war for good – so pick your battles, and keep your partner.
• Ask, Don’t Tell: Always explain your needs and request them kindly.
• Give Credit Where Credit Is Due: Acknowledging your partner’s accomplishments and contributions to the marriage is the best way to ensure they keep coming.
• Don’t Fight in Bed: The bedroom should be a fight-free zone, so do your best to keep it that way.
R&R Like Champs
• Go Solo: You and your partner don’t cease being individual beings just because of your bond as a pair. Give yourself the time you need to be on your own.
• Camp Under the Stars: Spending a night in the pine-scented mountain air or lying on a beach is one of the best ways to refresh your spirit and draw closer, so give it a whirl.
• Queue Up the Netflix: A marathon on the ‘flix (yes, people totally call it that) always boosts the spirits, so don’t hesitate to get one going.
• Laugh: A good ol’ ROFL is the best way to release tension, lighten the mood and bring you two together. Try more often.
• Get Out of Town: Planning a weekend escape is not only fun on the weekend, but for weeks before as you look forward to it.
• Be a Social Butterfly: Spending time with friends, together and separately, is a crucial way to recharge your batteries. Make sure you respect your partner’s needs and wishes when it comes to which friends make the schedule though, especially when you’re both on the guest list.
While all these tips will help keep your marriage strong and take your love to the next level, you likely won’t get very far on the love boat without truly knowing who you are. That’s where The Journey Training comes in, a two-part series consisting of the initial Threshold Weekend and the second Crossroads Weekend, which builds on the first.
Living the life you want – and having the marriage you crave – requires delving deep inside and working through issues such as what you really want in life, what your core strengths and weaknesses are, how your past is dragging you down and more. If you’d like to give your marriage the greatest gift possible, join us for the first of two life-changing weekends.
We can’t wait to see you and hear about the fantastic benefits The Journey brings to your life.
Have you ever noticed how a baby who has learned to sit up sits up so straight? I can remember noticing even as a kid how straight some women sat. To me, it made them even more beautiful.
I wish good posture came naturally for me, but because of a prenatal stroke it’s much harder for me. The most commonly used definition of posture is “the position in which someone holds their body when standing or sitting”. Participating in band, through high school and college, taught me to be disciplined with it. When in a concert ensemble and playing an instrument, you are expected to sit up straight and on the edge of the chair. This helps your breathing and playing. When marching, I had to work not only at standing up straight, but also with proper horn angle, while moving AND playing! Talk about discipline! Over time, I found myself doing these things naturally.
Many years after marching band, I found another cardio exercise I love – the elliptical! It’s much more suited for my body than running! I can remember noticing one time how balanced I’d become on it! I was standing up straight, not holding on, dancing away! My posture was great and my whole attitude had changed!
This reminds me of a tool I gained in The Journey Training. It’s called Ground and Center. When I carry myself in a grounded and centered posture, I feel tall, centered, and ready.
That brings me to another definition of posture: “a particular way of dealing with something: an approach or attitude”. This posture helps us react to life. Trials and tribulations happen. The better the posture, the better we approach or react to them, and the better outcome we will have.
Are you critical of yourself in pictures? One of the worst pictures I perceive of myself is a picture from college, at my heaviest weight, pretty much leaning against the guy behind me. As I began losing weight, not only did I start to appreciate my posture physically in pictures, my attitude had also changed. My confidence skyrocketed and it showed!
I was remembering this recently as I looked at myself in the mirror. I’ve dealt with plenty of shame regarding my weight and how I look. Carrying the shame burdened my posture. The Journey Training taught me to change my perspective. Rather than holding onto the shame, I let it go, I chose to look in the mirror, stand up straight, shoulders back, and see the real me. There, now you look better, Alison!
Posture equals attitude. Change your attitude and you’ll change your outcome!