All posts in Relationship with Others

  • Be of Good Courage

    Being courageous is a matter of the heart. Not of our muscles or our bravado. Our hearts. The continuing natural disasters and horrendous violence occurring around us have been calling me to pray for a more courageous heart; a courageous heart to lead me in bringing greater compassion, humility, and charity into my little corner of the world, beginning in my own home.

    So, what does a courageous heart in action look like? Well, I’m still learning…here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

    1. Courage is not always about BIG, BOLD action. The times I’ve behaved most courageously in my relationships have involved being still, closing my mouth and opening my heart. Moving beyond the habitual desire to fix, rescue, provide solutions. Led by a courageous heart, I am more present, more able to listen empathically and connect on a deeper level to someone who is hurting or angry or anxious.
    2. Courage means following my heart. The word courage comes from the Old French ‘corage’ and the Latin ‘cor,’ both meaning heart, innermost feelings.
      If I listen to my mind-chatter going round-and-round long enough, I can talk myself into or out of just about anything. When I choose courage, I get still & quiet in my mind so I can tune into my heart. I think of it as tuning into God’s voice within me rather than the noise of the world with all its what ifs, you should, you shouldn’t, but then they’ll think
    1. To be courageous is to be vulnerable. Courage is born out of our vulnerability. Opening myself up and revealing my vulnerabilities requires strength and courage. Putting on “a brave face” or “staying strong” in the midst of my hurts doesn’t actually require much courage. Invulnerability is easy and comfortable. However, for me to lean on my husband or a close friend and say, “I’m not doing so good today and I really need to talk” or asking “Will you help me?” takes courage!
    2. Courage is unnecessary unless we are afraid.

      Being terrified but moving ahead and doing what must be done – that’s courage. The one who feels no fear is a fool, and the one who lets fear rule him is a coward. – Piers Anthony

      So long as we are alive, we can expect to feel fearful, at different times and to varying degrees. As the quote above says, to live without feeling fear is “foolish.” We are fooling ourselves. Denial. To live in collusion with our fear is cowardice. A trick of the enemy to keep us quiet and small. To acknowledge my fear, and move ahead anyway, is courage.


    Biblical Reminders

    Here are a few truths for us to hang onto as we seek to approach our daily lives with more courageous hearts!

        • God is with you every single second – ALWAYS. (Matthew 28:20)
        • You are designed for greatness, made in the image and likeness of God himself. (Gen 1:27)
        • God has a mighty plan for you. You were not born to play small. (Jeremiah 29:11)
        • You can do all things through Christ! (Phil 4:12)

    This is one of my favorite scripture verses and always gives me courage: “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

    A Closing Prayer

    As I was writing this post, the scene in the garden of Gethsemane came to mind. The scene where the soldiers came to take Jesus away. Peter was ready to fight, drawing his sword, and taking a bold action, which may have looked courageous (Matthew 26:51). As I thought about that, I became aware that every time in my life when I’ve chosen “fight” or “force” over peace and acceptance, I was driven by my fear, not my courage. Jesus chose peace and acceptance while enduring ridicule, torture, and even death. I pray that I will look to Jesus as the source of my courage:

    Heavenly Father, I pray for a more courageous heart! I pray for the courage to endure my trials with my eyes always on You. Give me the courage to sit with others who are hurting and the grace to stay quiet and simply listen. I pray that I may follow the way of Jesus in opening my heart to those who would mistreat, misunderstand, or misjudge me. Show me how to stay open and courageously vulnerable so I may not miss any of the highs or the lows that You would have me experience in this lifetime. Please help me to get quiet everyday and listen for Your voice. Thank You for Your constant love and guidance. AMEN.

  • The Power of Perspective Shifting

    My mom and I are taking a trip across the country in a few weeks. We, along with my two teens, will fly from Philadelphia to Seattle, stay in a beach house in Port Angeles, and attend my cousin’s wedding in Olympic National Park. The other night, Mom and I were sharing concerns about the trip: are we spending too much money? Should we have rented a house at the beach or just stayed in cheaper accommodations? Will we even know anyone at the wedding? Is Zach going to be ok without me for 5 days??

    Worrying is not very much fun. Thankfully, I had my coaching hat with me 😉 .

    With my coaching hat on, I thought, you know what’s done is done and what’s to come will come. Worrying won’t change any of it. So let’s try on a new perspective. How do we want to feel right now?

    Peaceful. Excited. Grateful for the opportunity to travel together.

    Together we decided to stand in the perspective of “cross-country adventure with my grand-kids / kids.” Any adventure worth its salt will contain the unknown, the unfamiliar, and the unpredictable. Through the lens of “cross-country adventure,” facing the unknown, unfamiliar, and unpredictable excites me, raises my curiosity and sense of anticipation. Which feels infinitely more fun than worrying!

    What circumstance or area of your life would benefit from a perspective shift?

    Here are two ways to begin:
    1. First is prayer (isn’t prayer the best first step for everything?!). Father God, I ask for Your help to shift my perspective about ______. I’ve been worrying rather than trusting You. Help me to see this situation/person through Your eyes. Please correct my thinking; remove any thoughts that cause me to step off the path that leads to You – to light, truth, and peace. Place new thoughts – Your thoughts – into my heart and mind. Saced Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in You!

    2. Second is a fun little exercise…
    Pretend that you are taking off a pair of glasses and setting them down on a table. These glasses hold your current perspective. All your thoughts, worries, fears, and assumptions about that circumstance or relationship. Before you on the table are dozens of other pairs of glasses, each with a different label.

    There’s the Mountain-top Perspective glasses, the Forest Perspective glasses, and the Bubbling Brook Perspective glasses.
    – What if you looked at that circumstance from the “mountain-top” perspective? Standing high above, up out of the
    mucky details, where the air is refreshing and crisp. Get curious about what you might see from this bird’s-eye-view.

    There’s the Salsa Dance Perspective glasses and the Waltz Perspective glasses.
    – What fresh thinking might be available to you while considering the Waltz perspective, with it’s smooth, flowing,
    comfortably rhythmic movement?

    There’s also a long line of glasses labeled with colors.
    – How would your world look different if you chose to wear the Yellow Perspective glasses today? The Hot Pink
    Perspective glasses? The Sage Green Perspective glasses?

    Worry, anxiety and frustration can leave us feeling stuck or powerless. The truth is, we have the power at any moment to create a new experience for ourselves. The very moment we become aware of our worry, anxiety, or dissonance, we can gently pause our thinking, take a breath, and begin to pray for help to shift our perspective. Whether our circumstance ever changes or not, isn’t the issue. When we shift our perspective, we shift how we’re feeling about the circumstance and how we’re choosing to relate with that circumstance.

    And this becomes the difference between being captive to our circumstances or going free.

    The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. – Philippians 4:5-6

  • Brave Journey, a Reflection on 2016

    In 2016, I had the privilege of being in coaching relationship with one brave soul after another. Together, we experienced the incredible freedom that comes only in the tailwind of a great act of personal courage. Similar to the aerial dancer who flies from one tethered safety line to the next, these acts of courage often contain a breathtaking “no hands!” moment.

    Photo by Sonia Cirse. Edited by De Yarrison.

    Growing forward always involves that confronting moment when we know we can no longer hold onto what’s been. We must let go of “the way it is,” leave our comfort zone, and take an untethered step out in the direction of what will be now. The vulnerability of that moment gives life to strength and courage that we may not have known we possess. How exhilarating!

    I am grateful and blessed to have supported women journeying into and through that bold moment this past year! I’ve summarized below accounts describing some of the terrain we’ve crossed together and the essential shifts that resulted. I hope you will be as inspired as I am to get a glimpse of what’s possible!

    We bravely faced our fears of failure and admitted our over-controlling behaviors.
    Situation: A client was stuck in unproductive thought patterns and behavior patterns towards co-workers and family members.
    Shift: recognizing and releasing self-judgments and unrealistic self-expectations. Learning to relate with compassion and acceptance towards oneself, which naturally led to relating more compassionately towards others. This has fostered more positivity, trust, and openness in relationships (both at work and at home).

    We bravely faced self-imposed conditions and limits on one’s worthiness, i.e.: “I’m not valuable unless…” “If I don’t do _____, then _____ will happen.”
    Situation: A client and business owner was overwhelmed with busyness and exhaustion, which was taking a toll in important relationships.
    Shift: Recognizing the fears that were driving behavior (fear of disapproval, of not getting things done, of failing). Shifting the inner conversation from one that placed conditions on self-worth, to one that is self-supportive and self-accepting. This is leading to the ability to honor one’s own needs and take better care of oneself physically and emotionally.

    We bravely faced the uncomfortable truth that how we are regarding ourselves and our performance is not the way others’ may perceive us.
    Situation: a leader was unknowingly perceived by peers as territorial, defensive, and lacking confidence.
    Shift: Took responsibility to be intentional about one’s presence and one’s impact on others. Began asking the question: how do I want to BE in this meeting / conversation / relationship? And then self-managed thoughts, words and actions to make that so.

    We bravely faced the incredible dichotomy of letting go of control in order to experience peace-of-mind.
    Situation: a client was faced with life-changing circumstances that were neither desirable nor within her control.
    Shift: Discovered deep inner strength, enabling a rich journey through frustration, fear, anger, and sadness into acceptance and hope in new possibilities.

    Wow, huh!? Do you see yourself in any of the situations described above? There are typically common themes surrounding our individual stories.

    Onward! 2017 with Intention

    At the end of every day, we have a story to tell. We write that story moment-to-moment, through every decision made, each word uttered into our relationships, and how we choose to see or regard the people in our lives. In the situations above, change happened because individuals were ready to honestly look at the current story they were existing within. And upon realization that the story was not one they wished to continue, they tore off a fresh sheet of paper and began drafting the next chapter by reflecting on questions such as these:

    What comfort zone am I hanging out in that is no longer serving me?
    What unhelpful or unproductive thoughts am I giving my mental energy to?
    What have I been tolerating that it is time to say no to?
    What positive qualities am I ready to own and to express freely?
    What must this next chapter of my story include? What are my non-negotiables? (i.e.: higher priority on my physical health, more authenticity or speaking what is true for me, invest more of myself into my relationships, practices that enhance my peace-of-mind, etc.)
    When I look back on my life in 3-months, 6-months, etc. what do I want to see? How do I want to feel?

    How about you? What are you ready to invite more of in your life this year? What is the untethered step awaiting you? I would be honored to support you as you ready yourself for that bold moment! Here’s to a courageous 2017 together!

    With love,

    Click here to find out more about coaching with De.

  • The You in Me, A Look at Projection

    everything that irritates

    I originally published this post on my leadership blog (, and wanted to share it with you also. Motherhood, in my opinion, is the most important leadership position we could ever hold! Read on…

    To be a truly exceptional leader necessitates that I become vigilantly aware of myself in the moment. In the moment when I am facilitating a team meeting to figure out how to get a project back on track. In the moment when a co-worker enters my office for our weekly 1-on-1 conversation. In the moment of quiet reflection during an annual offsite.

    In the video below, I overview a common, often unconscious, phenomenon occurring during these ordinary leadership moments, called projection. Projection raises my awareness to a certain behavior or quality, typically through a negative experience of this quality in someone else. Rather than simply being annoyed or frustrated by this negative experience, projection invites me to consider a deeper purpose. The quality or behavior that has captured my attention mirrors a part of me that is ready to step into the light and be seen clearly. Our projections, if we’re willing to acknowledge them as such, provide a pathway for our continuous growth and evolution.

    Any given moment of my day has the power to become transformational as I courageously and honestly look:

    • at my silent opinions of others
    • at my judgments and criticisms of myself
    • at my assumptions
    • at the meaning I am attaching to a situation or circumstance

    Watch the video below to learn more. Use the questions that follow to help you look courageously and honestly at the growth opportunities projection may be inviting you into today.

    The Invitation: Owning Our Projections

    1. Call to mind the meetings, conversations, interactions you’ve been a part of today. Recall any person who may have caught your attention, whether positively or negatively.
    2. What were your thoughts or feelings about this person? Write these down.
    3. Take a look at what you’ve written. Could any or all of these thoughts and feelings be projections? Keep this list with you and commit to noticing yourself – becoming an observer of yourself in your daily interactions. Always asking, what was I thinking about him/her during that encounter?
    4. Remembering the purpose of projection is to call our attention to a part of ourselves which is ready to be seen more clearly, spend a few quiet minutes each day wondering what within you is wanting some attention.
      • Is it time for you to own a positive attribute that you’ve been denying in yourself (like in my example, my ability to keep myself calm and focused during difficult interactions)?
      • Is it time to own up to an undesirable attribute and take greater responsibility for your thoughts or behaviors?

    Doing the honest work of taking back our projections can feel uncomfortable or unfamiliar. We’re entering uncharted territory! Precisely where we need to be if growth and transformation are what we desire. But you don’t have to go in alone. Want a trusted partner for your journey? I’ve got my galoshes on and we can muck through it together! Give me a call.

  • Intentional Family Building

    Another snow day. My space has been invaded by my husband working from home (again), and my tween and my teen who are off school (again).

    On this particular snow day, the kids were going with a friend to our local “mountain,” which is little more than a very big hill, to snowboard for a few hours. My husband and I “communicated” the details of the plan.

    You’ll notice the quotation marks around the word communicated. What actually occurred cannot really be categorized as communication. For my part, I was talking quietly because I had a sleeping baby in my arms. For his part, Marc was listening to me while simultaneously reading something on his laptop. Yet, we forged on.

    Is it any wonder that when it came time to take the kids to the mountain, Marc and I had two different ideas of how the plan was to unfold? I won’t bore you with all the details of our misunderstanding, though I will ask you to imagine the scene:

    • Patience was low to begin with, as our normal routines were compromised and our to-dos were not getting to-done.
    • I had just taken refuge in my bedroom with a sleeping baby, a cup of coffee and my laptop. Ahhh, finally. Marc is going to take the kids snowboarding and I’ll have some peace and quiet.
    • Marc enters my haven and says in a surprised tone of voice, “What are you doing? You’re supposed to be taking the kids to the mountain now!”

    So began the “whisper fight.” You know, the kind where you yell at one another as loud as you can in whispers so not to wake the baby.

    Do you ever have days that like this in your home?

    Thankfully, the days of peace and kindness outweigh the days we whisper-yell at each other. We prioritize keeping peace in our home and in our hearts towards one another. As perhaps is true for your family, we are intentional about making quality time together a regular occurrence: playing games together, attending church services together, and eating meals together as often as we can. We also spend time in prayer together every day, even if it is just for 2-minutes!

    Family Building
    Because I am a bit of a personal development junkie, I frequently *force* – umm, I mean invite – my husband and kids to join me in a family-building activity. The activities typically involve self-reflection and have some element of play or fun to them, such as art, cooking, or using props from some of my teambuilding games. There have been a few activities over the past few months that were especially meaningful and enjoyable and I wanted to share them with you. Keep reading to learn about our “Me Collages.” And watch for upcoming posts with other intentional family activities.

    Me Collage
    The purpose of this activity is to allow each member of the family to create a collage of words and images that represent aspects of themselves. Here is my Me Collage:
    me collage

    Activity Instructions:

    1. Print out or draw a template for each person to create their Me Collage on. We used these gingerbread-style cutouts. Click on the image to download and print.
      gingerbread man
    2. Gather lots of magazines and catalogs to use for cutting out images and words.
    3. Set up your workspace: spread out the magazines and provide scissors and glue for each person. You may want to have markers or crayons available too in case someone wants to draw on their Me Collage.
    4. Allow at least 30-minutes for perusing the magazines and creating your collages. Of course, depending on the ages and attention spans of your children, you decide if less or more time is necessary.
    5. After everyone has finished their Me Collage, take turns sharing them with one another. Get curious about the images that were chosen. You might ask questions such as: What does that mean to you? OR How are you most like that ______?

    In addition to your family, this activity is appropriate for any group wanting to get to know each other better: a mom’s club, a book club, with your students, etc.

    Credit for this activity goes to my mom, Helen Ercolino. Helen is a Licensed Counselor and Registered Play Therapist out of Chester Springs, Pennsylvania, working with children, couples and families (as well as individuals).

    I’d love to hear about your Me Collages! You can leave a comment at the bottom of this page or share via our Facebook page. May God bless you and each member of your family!

    With love,

    Linking up with: Mommy Monday Blog Hop, Motivation Monday, Titus Tuesdays, Grace and Truth, Faith Filled Friday, Women with Intention

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  • Love Does Not Calculate

    Math heart

    My niece, Megan, is a beautiful writer (and a beautiful human being all around!). I’ve shared a post of hers in the past, which you can find here. Once again, Megan’s words convict me and expose me to myself, while making me laugh. That’s a great combination. With her permission, I’m sharing Megan’s latest post here. Read on…

    Love Does Not Calculate by Megan Gettinger

    I hate math.

    I’ve hated math for as long as I can remember.

    I avoid math at all costs, unless I have to manage a budget, measure ingredients to bake something chocolate, or calculate the new price of that fantastic top that’s 60% off.
    Math heart

    Calculating numbers is not my forte; calculating in relationships (unfortunately) comes much easier to me.

    I often find myself composing word problems like this:

    “If husband gets 2 guys’ nights this month and wife hasn’t had an uninterrupted shower in 5 days, how many girls’ nights out should she get?”

    “If wife cooks dinner every night for a week, how many loads of laundry must husband do?”

    “If husband has to work late 3 nights this week, approximately how crabby can wife be (divided by 2 children and multiplied by the number of messes the two year old makes in the span of an hour)?”

    “If baby has 4 diaper blow outs and 2 projectile spit ups before dad gets home from work how long can mom hide in the bathroom once he arrives?”

    It is so easy to see relationships, especially those with the people we live with, as an attempt to keep the scales balanced. Even though I’ve been told time and time again (thanks, Mom) that life isn’t fair, I still seem to be surprised and disgruntled when it’s not.

    Life, and especially love, just can’t be made to fit the scales.

    Some weeks I will struggle, I will be tired and unmotivated and Hank will pick up the slack, doing laundry and washing dishes and playing with the kids.

    Other weeks he will be busy with work or overwhelmed by deadlines and it’s my turn to cook dinner, change that millionth dirty diaper and make sure bedtime happens.

    These situations won’t ever be equal. We can’t keep score or tally up how much we’ve done and tag out when we feel we have given enough or put in our “fair share.”

    St. John Paul the Great is quoted having said, “Do not forget that true love sets no conditions; it does not calculate or complain, but simply loves.”

    Love posted on a scoreboard isn’t really love.

    Love is simple not complicated, like my ridiculous word problems.

    Love is 1+1= 2

    “Two are better than one,

    because they have a good return for their labor:

    If either of them falls down,

    one can help the other up.

    But pity anyone who falls

    and has no one to help them up.

    Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.

    But how can one keep warm alone?

    Though one may be overpowered,

    two can defend themselves.

    A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

    Eccl. 4:9-12

    St. John Paul the Great, please pray for us as we strive to unlearn the habit of calculating in relationships and learn to simply give. We ask for the grace to offer up all of our struggles in giving love freely and for the ability to see that love offered alongside Christ’s immeasurable love is multiplied in ways we can’t even imagine. Amen.

    Check out more great articles at Megan’s blog, Your Feminine Genius.

  • Watch the I Am-s


    My coach (Jackie) and I were discussing the impact that self-perception has on one’s attitude, behaviors, relationships, peace-of-mind…frankly, everything! Self-perception is the way we tend to think about ourselves and what we believe to be true about ourselves. Whether our self-beliefs are conscious or not, they impact the way we show up in our relationships, our work, our parenting…again, everything!

    Jackie told me that when her now-grown kids were younger, she was vigilant about guiding their self-perceptions by listening for the way they spoke about themselves. In particular, she would repeatedly tell them to “watch the I am-s”.
    You know the ones:
    I am so stupid.
    I am so clumsy.
    I am not smart enough.
    I am ugly.
    I am a disappointment.
    I am bad.
    It’s incredibly important that we consistently redirect these negative self-beliefs. Two ways we can do this are:

    First, we help them take the negative focus off of him/herself and focus on the behavior instead. Here are a few examples:

    1. ‘I am so stupid’ becomes ‘that decision/behavior/choice was not a good one’.
    2. ‘I am so clumsy’ becomes ‘I sometimes drop things / fall / break things / etc’.
    3. ‘I am a disappointment’ becomes ‘I sometimes do things / say things that feel disappointing or that lead to disappointment’.

    By focusing on behavior, we can then guide our children to think through the circumstances differently. We can empathize with their feelings and empower them to make a new choice or try a different behavior, one that will lead to a more desirable outcome. For example, “yes, that choice didn’t work out so well. What would you do differently next time?” Or “I’m sorry you feel disappointed. I feel disappointed too, when xyz happens. What do you think we should do now?”

    Secondly, we help them develop a positive, affirming self-perception, by filling their hearts and minds with the truth of who they are. There is one “I Am” statement that will always be true about them (and about you!) –

    “I am a child of God.”

    And the beautiful reality of being a child of God means…
    I am loved by the King of the Universe.
    I am special to God.
    I am held in the palm of His hand.

    What else? Come up with some of your own. Say them aloud, over and over again. Tell your children each morning and every night as you tuck them into bed.

    And while you’re at it, tell YOURSELF too. We women face many external pressures and cultural stereotypes that try to tell us who we are and how we are supposed to be / think / feel. The awesome news is that we get to be intentional and choose who and what we will believe. And, we are better equipped to authentically guide our children’s positive self-perceptions when we first work on our own positive self-perception. So let’s start with ourselves. Below are a few helpers – an exercise, a printable, and a video – to guide you in exploring your own “I Am-s” and becoming more intentional about believing in the Truth of who God says you are.

    “My Self-Perception” Exercise

    1. Download the graphic “My Self-Perception Balloons” here and print it out.
    2. Set aside five or ten minutes a couple of times each day for the next 3 or 4 days. Grab a notebook or your journal and a pen. During these timeslots, follow the steps below:
      • Pray. Use this prayer here or one of your own: Heavenly Father, please guide this self-reflection time. Reveal to me my own thoughts and beliefs about myself. Reveal the inner messages I am telling myself. Most especially reveal those that are not serving me in my life now and those that are contrary to what You want for me to think and believe. Thank you, Father, for doing Your work in me. Amen.
      • Sit still, close your eyes, and take a few slow, deep breaths.
      • What thoughts are you aware of thinking? As you recall the events of the past couple of hours, what have you been telling yourself about YOU? Capture your inner conversation, any “I am” statements you tell yourself, and your self-perception beliefs in your journal or notebook.
      • Look at what you’ve written. Using the graphic you printed, write each “I am” statement and self-belief in a balloon. Include your thoughts that are limiting and dis-empowering, as well as those that are affirming and supportive. This will give you a visual of the primary beliefs and thought patterns currently creating your self-perception.
    3. Choose one limiting or dis-empowering “I am” belief that you are now ready to release. Ready to be super-intentional about no longer allowing that thought to impact how you are feeling about yourself or relating with others. Write this thought on the balloon that is floating away!

    Child of God Printable. Download your free copy of this graphic by clicking on the image of it below. Tape it to your mirror or someplace that you will look at it throughout the day and remember the truth of who you are.
    Child-of-God printable

    God’s Truths About You video. Take a couple of minutes to soak in these eternal truths!

  • Catching God on the Whisper

    I am just days away from the birth of my new baby, Zachary Joseph. Zachary is a surprise gift, given to me for my 45th birthday (my other children will turn 13 and 11 years old this summer)!

    Reflecting on the past several years, I am truly astounded at some of the changes that have occurred in my life and in my heart. I am a complete believer in the fact that God can and does make all things new, including my marriage, my faith, and my relationship with myself.

    Back in the Fall of 2014, I had an article published* in which I shared the story of how God worked in my life to, not only save my falling-apart-marriage, but to truly “make it new.” At the time I wrote the article, I didn’t know that a new little life would also be entering the scene! I wanted to share excerpts from that article with you here.

    [Aside: the other day, as I was talking to someone about the new baby and how old my other children are, she asked if this is a new marriage. I had to pause and decide how I wanted to answer that! I kept it simple and said, “No, same guy.” 🙂 ]

    My article…

    Catching God on the Whisper
    And then one day, the whispering turned to shouting. I could no longer feign deafness and bury my head. I looked up. Finally…I looked up.

    It was June, 2009. I stood teetering on the edge between 39 and 40 years old. Looking at my life, I saw two awesome kids, a comfortable home, a flourishing faith community and work I loved. Life was good.

    Or was it? I haven’t yet mentioned my marriage. When did my husband and I shift from being best friends to roommates trying to stay out of each others’ way?

    The transition had been occurring gradually for years. When the kids were younger, it was easy to live in a space that was slowly filling with resentment, contempt and distance. Our unmet needs and unspoken expectations were nothing unusual. However, our lack of skill and courage in speaking openly about our hurts and our vulnerabilities presented a “toe-hold” for opening up wounds of yesteryear. The devil stuck his toe in that space and pried it further and further open. Until one day it felt as though a great crevasse lay between my husband and myself.

    My old wound was the result of my innate desire for a Savior. Way back into my childhood, I recall daydreaming about the Prince who would ride into my life, rescue me and fill me up in every way. My mistake was expecting to find my Prince in the ordinary men in my life:
    • The dad who lived across the street
    • The trainer who worked at the health club
    • The distinguished older man down the hall at my first real job
    • My husband

    None of these men were my savior.

    When reality left its clues that my husband was not my savior, let me tell you, I was indignant! Ugh! How could that happen? I slipped into anger and resentment. I didn’t yet know that I was searching for something I would never find: A savior in an imperfect-but-doing-the-best-he-can human being. As the crevasse widened, I began to look at my husband with disappointment, even contempt.

    And now the kids were getting older… They were noticing…and learning.

    The Whispers

    “And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; And after the fire, there was the sound of a gentle whisper.” 1 Kings 19:11-12

    The winter of 2010, brought record snows. My husband and I took the kids sledding at a huge hill on the property of an arboretum. We drove in separate cars. When my family left, I stayed to hang out with friends who had met us for sledding. These were unmarried, kid-less friends.

    A few days later, I was cleaning up papers around the house and I stumbled upon a note my 7-year-old daughter had written to herself about the sledding day. She wrote of the big hill, the deep snow, and the fun we had. Then she wrote, “Daddy, me, and Adam went home. Mommy stayed. I don’t understand why.”

    God’s whisper…, “Go home now. Your children need you to return to your family; to your marriage.”

    Another day, driving in the car, the kids asked how my husband and I first met. I told them the story of meeting, of dating, and of their Daddy asking me to marry him while we were watching the sunset on the beach. My daughter reflected for a moment, and then said in a sad voice, “And I guess now you just don’t listen to each other anymore.”

    Another whisper…”Your children are learning about marriage based on what you are modeling for them.”

    But what about those other voices?! The loud ones, relishing in my open wound:
    “He never…”
    “What did you expect…”
    “You have a right to feel…”
    “What about your happiness…”
    “He is so…”

    Lies of the Evil One; his attempts to control my thinking.

    Days, weeks, 2 years passed.

    There I was. Disengaged, discontent, hopeless. Right where the enemy wanted me.
    And then came God’s shouting.

    Thankfully, He was willing to abandon His preferred mode of communication. He obviously knew how desperately I needed to feel and hear His presence in a loud and tangible way. To actually hear the Lord shouting in my head and in my heart was a bit disconcerting. I looked up to see the words clearly, as if they were painted in the sky,” I, Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, AM YOUR SAVIOR. Nobody and nothing else will ever satisfy you. Stop your searching. COME BACK TO ME. NOW!”

    This was not a suggestion or a plea. I heard this clearly as a command. And, quite honestly, I felt a little afraid (in a good way). I felt reverence for God’s authority – not mine – over my life. The Lord reminded me that He is the Truth and it was time for me to take a stand against the lies that had been controlling my behavior – and quite frankly, my life – for years.

    The Lord also showed me that before anything could evolve in my marriage, much had to evolve in my relationship with ME. And only one thing was required of me to shift the trajectory of my life. The single action I must take: cling to the Lord from that moment on. On my own, I was to do nothing, say nothing, think nothing. His clear command was, “Pray without ceasing.”

    Gently and slowly, He guided me to the people and places where I could heal my deep wounds. He strengthened my spirit and taught me how to resist Satan’s lies. He held me, loved me, and assured me that I was safe. He also showed me that, together, we have much work to do. He has a mighty plan for this world and there is a unique role for me in carrying out His plan.

    Over time, and as His plan is unfolding, I see great purpose and refinement during that two year period, where I once saw only trial and despair. I know without a doubt that God uses every single circumstance we get ourselves into for our ultimate good and for His ultimate glory.

    The Journey Continues…
    These days, I am much better at catching God on the whisper. I’ve learned how to get really quiet and to stop believing every thought that enters my mind. I’m putting into practice Saint Paul’s great advice to “take every thought captive” (ref 2 Corinthians 10:5).

    I now know that the greatest obstacle we face in living out His purpose is all a big lie, perpetuated by the Father of Lies. We must beware of succumbing to false beliefs, such as: “You aren’t good enough.”; “You can’t do that.”; “This is how you’re supposed to be and what you’re supposed to do.” These are lies that keep us small and doubting. God calls each one of us to be bold and confident in Him!

    Our truth, our destiny
    It is my hope that today is the day you return to your Truth. No matter what trial you’re facing. No matter how long you’ve believed that lie of the enemy. No matter how many mistakes, poor choices, or bad decisions have been made. Today is the day to return to Truth. I assure you, His loving arms are open and waiting for you.

    With love,

    * My article appeared in “Woman To Woman” magazine, which is published by Woman to Woman Ministries:

  • Ho-Hum Chinwag

    Ho-Hum Chinwag? Well that’s a strange title! I recently discovered the word ‘chinwag’. In case you’re unfamiliar, here’s what it means:
    Chin – bottom of your mouth; outer part of your jawbone.
    Wag – to twitch, flap, move to and fro.

    What a great word to describe the wearisome, predictable jaw-movements we can get caught in. We talk, and yet, often, we say so little. Think about the questions you’re typically asked or that you tend to ask others:

    • Did you have a good time?
    • How was school?
    • How was the meeting?
    • How was your day?
    • What’s new?
    • What have you been up to?

    And the most likely answers:

    • Yes.
    • Fine.
    • Not bad.
    • Fine.
    • Not much.
    • Not much. How about you?

    Boy that sure tells me…nothing.

    One of the foundations of my teaching and coaching is what I call the Language of Empowerment. The Language of Empowerment is about shifting common words or phrases that we use automatically, to more meaningful, more personal, and more empowered alternatives.

    A core principle in the Language of Empowerment is raising our awareness to the generalities we use in our conversations. And being intentional about replacing those generalities with language that is more specific and more personal. For example, changing the general, and banal, questions in my list above to ones that will help us KNOW each other more:

    • What happened today that made you laugh?
    • What was the coolest thing that you learned at school today?
    • What did you hear in the meeting that you hadn’t expected?
    • What Was the nicest / most encouraging thing you said to someone today?
    • How did you and your boss/co-worker go about working through that issue today? What worked well for you guys?
    • If you could change one thing about that situation, what would it be?

    Now I have information – insight! Now I’m getting an idea of what’s important to you, what engages you, what makes you happy, what disappoints you… Dialogue like this is incredibly valuable. Meaningful conversation and good listening form the foundation for deeper connection and trusting relationships.

    My mom and I recently facilitated a retreat for moms and their teen/pre-teen children. The theme was “Conversation Changers with Your Child.” The day included an activity to practice asking each other new / different questions and listening to one another more fully. We created a printable reminder called, “Effective Questions for Evolving the Conversation.” You can download it by clicking on the thumbnail below. Give the questions a try!


    And how about going one step further? As you’re listening to their answers, get curious! Carry the conversation to an even deeper level. For example: If your colleague tells you the meeting was ‘fine’ because she received good feedback about her idea, ask her what it was like for her to receive that recognition. If your daughter or son tells you s/he was disappointed not to be included in xyz decision, ask her/him what feels most frustrating about that? What does s/he need now?

    Today, make every conversation more meaningful. Be intentional about creating connection and strengthening each relationship. I’ll bet your questions will not only help you to know others more, but I’ll bet they’ll get to know themselves more too.


  • What If It’s Me and Not You?

    “My husband really made me mad yesterday. He was so insensitive to my concerns! The way he blew me off really has me upset and angry.”

    For many of us, our knee-jerk reaction to disagreements or conflict situations is to look at the other person. To cast blame ‘over there’. Away from me. I can clearly see what “his problem is” yet am blind to my own contributions and shrug off any suggestion that I might be part of the problem too.

    In my work with tons of teams, parents, and individuals I’ve rarely encountered the person who easily or automatically starts by looking for his or her part in creating a conflict. After all, self-preservation is hardwired into our brains!

    Yet, blame, finger-pointing, stonewalling, triangulating, or avoiding, never serve any of us.

    What if I did contribute to the frustration I experienced yesterday? What if I began by looking inward…

    Read more