Extraordinary Love By Alison Loyd

Extraordinary Love By Alison Loyd

When you come visit me, you’ll come to an apartment complex that was selected by a friend as likely being the perfect one for me. You’ll be 2 miles from my work place, where coworkers generously pick me up and take me home every day. You’ll walk into my home and see furniture transported and assembled by wonderful friends. You’ll see evidence of my parents’ unceasing generosity in the form of a washer/dryer and patio furniture. You’ll see items on the walls, hung by a handy friend, and there’s a custom-built mantle over the fireplace. You’ll see a magnificent work of art on the wall, painted just for me! You’ll see lamps and tables freely given and painted by friends. You can even trust the safety of my smoke detector, thanks to the battery replacement by one friend during an ice storm.

I couldn’t do this alone. I will be the first to admit I’m not the decorating type. I know people with an eye for that. I may be single, but have wonderful men in my life to move, assemble, and hang pictures on the walls.  I wouldn’t have known how to best tackle an apartment hunt, but I have an amazing friend with great knowledge and instinct. I couldn’t buy something even a fraction as phenomenal as the piece my friend painted.

It’s not about the stuff. It’s about the love behind the stuff. It’s about being exceedingly blessed and surrounding myself with amazing people with beautiful gifts of love.

Before The Journey Training, I would have felt like I had to do something in return. I felt like I could I could not possibly reciprocate. The Journey Training taught me how to accept love and gifts from others, not as pity that demands a response, but as love and support, and the blessings they are intended to be.

The training also helped me see gifts in myself and I found value in my own gifts like I’d never known. I may not be able to hang art on the wall, but I can spend a few hours with a friend in a wheelchair to give her company and her parents a break. I can listen to a friend and give advice at 10:30 at night. I can pray anytime and anywhere for my loved ones. Oh, and when people do come by to visit or help, I can serve them the best coffee in town!

Mother Teresa once said, “Do ordinary things with extraordinary love.”   It’s not about the stuff or the amount of things you can do. It’s about the love!

Do you want to experience giving and receiving extraordinary love in your life? Consider enrolling in the next class!

Top 20 Epic Valentine’s Day FAILS!

Top 20 Epic Valentine’s Day FAILS!

She said “Don’t get me anything for Valentine’s Day,” so I didn’t. Wrong move! After a conference I went up to one of the speakers and asked him, “What has made you so successful?” He looked toward me and after pausing for a moment said, “Two words: Good Judgement.” I was puzzled – I mean, how do I get this? So I asked him, “How do you get the wisdom to make good judgement?” He smiled and replied, “Bad judgement!”

The Journey Training is a program that excels in providing tools for people to look in the mirror of their life, evaluate their responses, and then take steps in the direction they truly want to go. Though we are not a seminar focused solely on marriage and relationships, we’ve found that when someone focuses on themselves and begins to make improvements, it always has a positive impact on their spouse or significant other.

We polled several alumni from The Journey Training classes to help create the best Valentine’s Day yet. No. It’s not a “Top Ten Best Restaurants” or even the “Top Five Best Gifts,” it’s even better than that!

Here are the top 20 things NOT do in a relationship on Valentine’s Day… according to our real-life responses on Facebook for their most epic Valentine’s Day fail!

1. Okay, the worst present I ever got Holly was about 10 years ago. I got her a “gift certificate” to a nail salon. I was in a hurry that day so I printed it on the home printer – all official with the logo of the salon and I wrapped it. However, in my rush I actually forgot to “buy” the gift certificate at the salon. Not good – not good at all. She later took the fake certificate to the salon, proceeded to argue with the employee for almost an hour, demanding she redeem it for her Mani-Pedi. Really…not good at all.

2. I was given a nose hair trimmer, if that was not gross enough, I later found out he bought it for $1 at a garage sale.

3. My ex bought me a laser hair removal package for a gift once. I guess he thought he was married to a Sasquatch! It was extremely painful to redeem!

4. We had been married TEN years when my husband gave me pierced diamond earrings for Valentine’s Day. But my ears aren’t even pierced. We have now been married 40 years & he will always be the love of my life. He tries very hard to please me.

5. I once got Jeanette a strawberry margarita… in a can… from a gas station! She said it tasted like gasoline mixed with alcoholic Kool-Aid. I really thought I was winning when I bought it. I most definitely did not win.

6. Seriously, my brother-in-law got my sister a scale! Yes, you heard it right. He said, “Well I knew you wanted to lose weight, so I thought it might help.”

7. I got here a shotgun so “we” could go duck hunting. We’ve never been duck hunting together and the shotgun still hasn’t been fired. It was my gift to her on our 2nd wedding anniversary.

8. A Rice Steamer! Should have seen the look on her face.

9. Speaker stands for MY surround sound system, and a set of pots and pans.

10. A cordless lawn trimmer.

11. I bought her an elliptical machine. “Thanks… wait. What are you trying to say?”

12. I got her a box of Cascade and a $20 bill! Still not sure why she didn’t like it.

13. An ex-boyfriend gave me a picture of himself. No frame. Not even a nice picture. Just a photo printed from Walgreens.

14. We are always throwing out food from the refrigerator that had set too long without eating, SOOO… I thought, wah-lah! “A food preserver.” Yeah she’ll love it!! Vacuum sealed freshness. HA! We have never used the dang thing. Still have it though!

15. I am hoping this gives some guys some wisdom! I mixed up the Christmas presents once and took the wrong gift to my in-laws. You should have seen the look on my mother-in-law’s face when she received edible panties & hand cuffs from me!

16. I got nothing but a card and it was terrible, not even romantic at all and I told my husband I hated it. He gave me the EXACT same card 2 years later. What an insult!

17. A few years back, I was so busy at work that I worked right through Valentine’s Day… and on the 15th I gave my wife a card, flowers, and candy and was planning dinner thinking it was Valentine day.

18. My husband has always been a poor gift giver, even after I have told him “I would really like such-n-such,” he still gives me nothing. Zilch, nada, nothin! So when I came home to find a gift on his side of the dresser, I was excited to think that my man finally got me my first Valentine’s gift after 6 years of marriage! It was a beautiful, super soft, plush white Teddy Bear with a red bow. I was in love thinking about how much he loves me. I carried that bear around all day admiring it and thinking about him and searching the house for the chocolate I knew he had probably gotten me. He came home that evening, sees me holding the bear, smiles, and says, “Do you like what I got my mom for her birthday?” AGH! Her birthday is on the 16th and I can officially say 23 years going strong and still no Valentine’s Day gifts. So now I buy myself flowers, hand him the receipt, and say thank you.

19. My worst Valentine’s gift was… A box of chocolates… YES! My husband knew I was on a diet/no sugar and he ended up eating them. I’ve always wondered if he bought them for himself to enjoy.

20. One year I waited until the last minute, and I knew my wife loves coffee, so I went and bought her a coffee cup with her favorite saying on it. The gift looks sort of plain so I bought chocolates and candy to fill it up. One problem: I bought her all of the candy that I like, not that she likes. And then I ate the candy myself! (Well, it was just sitting there staring at me!) The second problem is every time she drank coffee in the morning she was reminded of that horrible gift I gave her…and ate myself.”

So what are the common threads? Guys want to purchase our gals things that WE want, not things that SHE wants. I know that we want to look cool – like we have it all together. The bottom line is if you don’t know what to get her, ASK her. Sometimes I am afraid of the reaction that says, “You should know me well enough that you don’t need to ask!” If that is what you’re afraid of, then I need to ask this. Is it worth your epic fail being on this page? ASK!!  If you are looking for a group of guys to keep you out of the Doghouse, try one of our Guys Nights!


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Create Memories that Last Forever

Create Memories that Last Forever

“Christmas is the perfect time to celebrate the love of God and family and to create memories that will last forever. Jesus is God’s perfect, indescribable gift. The amazing thing is that not only are we able to receive this gift, but we are able to share it with others on Christmas and every other day of the year.” ~ Joel Osteen

Memories that last forever are the ones where something significant happened. When I was growing up, many Christmases were the same; get up early, run into the other room, look for presents under the tree (on the years we had one) and rip into the presents! I also remember a bowl of nuts – not normal ones – but some that were weird looking. I recognized the peanuts, walnuts, and some weird shaped triangular ones that I always used the metal nutcracker we had to open them up. If you follow my blogs you know that I am a slow learner, so I ate them every year and thought, “Yuck, why are these out?” Still there they were, every year. In fact they may have been the same nuts over and over! Then at night Mom would get drunk and what had started as an amazing day usually ended with yelling and tears.

My incredible wife Noell and I decided to make new memories. One of the things we started doing that has since caught on is giving gifts. Not just presents, but gifts. These gifts are given more infrequently than most other gifts, but are free and unlimited! And they can literally change someone’s day and make a memory that will last forever.

You don’t have to be strong to do this; just a little brave. And you have to take off the mask you usually wear, which is something many first learn how to do in The Journey Training. 

Just sit down with someone you love, hold their hand and look them in the eyes, and tell them the gifts you see in them. For example, I would do this: I hold my wife’s hand, look her in the eyes, and tell her, “The gifts I see in you are an INCREDIBLE wife, one that knows when I hurt and won’t show it, one that gently nudges me to put the phone away and pay attention to the kids. You are the mother of my kids that I prayed for all my life. Your love for others is one that is unparalleled.” Then I hug her and tell her I love her.

Then I’ll move on to my kids; I do this individually with each of them in the same way. I would share with them how proud I am of their leadership (Connor), how their optimism and smile helps motivate me daily (Casey), how they amaze me with their musical talent (Chase), how their heart for giving and to help others makes me want to do more for others (Cameron), how I love watching them take care of others around them, and that I can’t last a single day without a hug from her (Savy), and how she has the gift of tenacity and pushes through until she gets what she wants (Sydney), and how it inspires me. I do this one by one; looking each of them in the eye and making sure each of them know how much I love them.

Sure, they can open a toy that they may forget about later, but they won’t forget when time stood still, and I as the man of the house I showed them my love, and at the same time I showed them how to love others.

Try it this Christmas. I know you (and they) won’t be disappointed. You’ll give a gift that will never grow old, be forgotten, or be something they didn’t want!

If you’ve ever wondered exactly what The Journey Training is all about, this pretty much sums it up. We just show God’s love in a new and different way.

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