Anniversary Trip

At the beginning of summer, Dave and I took a trip to Mexico to celebrate our 20th anniversary.  Our anniversary isn’t actually until October, but this was the most convenient time of year for us to be away!

We splurged on an amazing resort, Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita.  We would highly recommend it.

We’ve never been away from the kids (together) for a whole week and it was glorious.  Rest, relaxation, quiet.  Not to mention beautiful views and amazing food. Just what we needed!


I think we’ve decided we need to do this more often!

 

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how to have that hard conversation you’ve been putting off

This topic has come up  so much recently that I thought I’d write down some thoughts I have about it.  Conversations with friends and with MOPS leaders I work with – How do I approach a hard topic with a friend?  How do I tell someone on my team that they aren’t pulling their weight?  How do I talk to someone who is overstepping my boundaries?  I think most people at some point find themselves in a situation where they feel like they need to have a hard conversation with someone – and it just seems to come naturally to some people and not so naturally to others.

By nature, I do not like conflict.  In fact, my natural reaction to most conflict is just to quietly back away.  But I’ve learned most times that’s not the best way to deal!  I am not an expert by any means, but I feel like God has taught me a lot about this over the years.  Eighteen years of marriage, three kids, and many years in women’s ministry leadership has given me lots of in-the-trenches experience that I’ve been able to learn from – and I’m still learning!  When I first thought about this, I was thinking from a leadership perspective – interacting with people you lead or work with.  But as I re-read, I think these really can also be applied to friendships, marriages, and even parenting to a degree.

So here goes… some things to consider when you’re feeling like you’ve got to have a tough conversation with someone.

  1. First of all, does this issue even need to be addressed?  What is my motive in this?  Proverbs 19:11 says “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.”  Simply take it to God in prayer and let him work in your heart and lead you.  Oftentimes  things (offenses!) that are slight, momentary, or inadvertent are best overlooked.
  2. Am I the person to address this issue?  Sometimes in leadership you may see an issue/conflict arise with another person, but you may not be in the best position to address it.  There may be someone either with the authority or who is simply closer to the person or the issue who is in a better position to discuss it with them.  We must take care that in trying to figure this out we do not resort to gossiping.  Prayer is really the best way to find out if God is calling YOU to have the conversation.  Pray, pray, and pray some more, asking God to give you a clear calling and pure motives.
  3. Once you feel that God is calling you to this conversation, do it as soon as possible.  Sometimes we think (or hope!) problems will just fade away on their own, but more often than not, they will just get worse if we give them time!  Plan ahead and think about the setting you want for the conversation and then make that happen.  Privacy (initially it’s always best to have these conversations one-on-one ) and a location where you won’t be interrupted or distracted is always best.  Make sure there will be enough time to do the conversation justice.
  4. Again, ahead of time, think about the best way to phrase what you want to say.  Use “I” statements as much as you can.  Don’t generalize (in other words don’t use the words “always”, “never”, etc.).  Speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).  If you cannot figure out how to say what you have to say in love, then God is likely not calling you to this conversation – or at least not yet!
  5. When you do have the conversation, start out with some positives, and be sincere!  Then move on to seeking deeper understanding about the issue at hand.  Using the phrase, “Help me understand where you’re coming from.” is so useful.  Maybe you don’t know the full story!  Listen and look for common ground – because that’s where you start coming up with a solution to the conflict.

So what do you think?

What are your best tips for having a hard conversation?

4 days without the kids!

My husband and I both turn 40 this year.

Our gift to ourselves was a mini-vacation.

We went to the Florida keys and it was really beautiful.  The weather was great and it was so relaxing and refreshing to be without the kids and “just a couple” again!  Since we’ve had kids, we’ve never gone away for that long before and I think we decided we need to make it a priority more often (yes, more often than every 13 years *sigh*).  You don’t really realize how much stress (good and bad) your kids induce in you until you get away for a few days!  And one night away really isn’t enough – we do that probably a couple of times a year but I always feel the pressure to get back home the next day.  And I forgot how nice it is to actually have a conversation without interruption!

My lovely mama was willing to come and stay with my kids and dogs, doing the school routine and everything!  And I think they had fun, too.  I am so thankful for her!

We stayed in Key Largo, at this hotel, and it was a perfect spot.  Highly recommend it for a couples’ getaway, particularly if all you want to do is relax and soak up some sun.  Key West was a 2 1/2 hour drive away – but when you have no kids with you, even a road trip can be fun!  🙂

 

So here’s to more “couple” vacations… I’m already thinking about our next one!  Got any suggestions?

 

 

2013

Lamentations 3:22-24

New International Version (NIV)

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

 

I am so thankful that God’s mercies are new every morning.  God offers me (and you) a fresh start every day – not just on January 1st of a new year!

Looking back over my goals (aka resolutions) for last year, I have to say that I didn’t do a very good job of sticking with them.  So I am going to continue on in 2013 with some of the same ones.  (if at first you don’t succeed blah, blah, blah!)

This year, I want to…

use more of my daily prayer time to listen.

be more disciplined about keeping my home.

spend more one-on-one time with each of my kids.

be more intentional about investing in our marriage (we started this last week by having a lunch date!)

and in general, live more abundantly in Christ (from John 10:10).  What does this mean?  I’m not sure yet – but I do know that I tend to set a lot of limits on myself and my loved ones – limits that are not necessary.  I’d like to do a better job of loving my family more abundantly, serving them more abundantly, and giving time & attention to them more abundantly.

This song, “Live Like That” by Sidewalk Prophets might do a better job of summing that up.

So where are you headed in 2013?

 

 

*good to be home*

It is super good to be home. As much as I enjoyed the MOPS Convention and was completely spiritually refreshed, I also love the homecoming. This year the homecoming was especially anticipated because my husband went into the hospital while I was gone (long story!).

But it is also seriously good to have the opportunity to miss my kids every once in a while. Especially at this point in the summer! Having some time away helps me remember what wonderful gifts from God that they are to me.

I woke up to this from my son this morning…

Precious, isn’t it??

I’m asking for continued prayers for my husband’s health – we are hoping that he will be discharged from the hospital today. It’s been a wearying few days. Thanks!

a letter to my newly married self

Our anniversary last week got me thinking about how we have changed as people over the last 14 years.  And that got me thinking how I have changed.  And that got me thinking about a blog post.  So here you go – a letter to myself with some things I know now that I wish I knew then…

Dear Stephanie,

I’ve been married now 14 years.  You’ve only been married a few days.  Along the way, I feel like I’ve learned a lot.  Marrying this guy was the best decision we’ve ever made.  I’ll admit, there have been moments when I wondered about that – but here we are now, still happily married.

I wanted to share a few things with you.  You’ll be better off if you learn these now.  Some will be hard to believe – and hard to swallow.  But listen and please try to take these words to heart!

  • Just open yourself to considering the fact that what you want out of life right now is probably much different than what you will want in a few years.  Step outside your box.
  • Jesus teaches self-denial.  This will be a hard concept to learn – it still is for me.  But when you practice it, life and your marriage will go more smoothly.  Trust me.
  • Getting your kids ready for school and out of the house on time can feel like an olympic sport sometimes – one we both know you aren’t prepared for.  So take these first few years of marriage and mentally prepare.  Please.  Keep telling yourself that being late is better than acting like a crazy woman, and tell yourself now that kids can’t be hurried without hurting and that no matter how hard you will try to control them – they are their own little people.  And then when you find yourself in the midst of it, take a deep breath, smile, and take it one day at a time.
  • Travel.  You’ve always wanted to do it, and now is the time.  It will be harder to do when you have kids.
  • Focus on keeping your marriage strong.  It will be important to continue that once the kids come along.  Kids need parents who love each other and make each other their first priority.
  • Get into the habit, now, of daily prayer and bible reading.  Again, it will be harder to do when you have kids.
  • Being a mom will stretch you in ways you don’t even understand or think are possible right now.  You will be physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually drained at times.  But you will also be filled up by this God-gifted role.  Filled up, bubbling over, and poured out.  Cherish it.
  • Be a better saver.  You don’t need new clothes, shoes, stuff for the house.  You can find great stuff at thrift stores.  Learn now so it’ll be easier when you decide to stay home with the kids.
  • What????  Stay home with the kids???? Yes, I said it.  And you will do it.  And it will be the 2nd best decision you’ve ever made.  And you will love it.  I know it’s not even a consideration to you right now.  But see #1.
  • Be a better savor-er.  Learn how to enjoy each and every moment rather than skipping ahead to the future or being anxious over the past.  There is joy in God’s presence (and the present!).  Don’t take life so seriously and learn to laugh more.  Your kids will appreciate it!
  • God doesn’t want you to be perfect or strive to be better or improve, etc.  He loves you just the way you are.  Nothing you can do will make him love you more or less.  Let that sink in.  Let it shape the way you live.  Let it shape the way you love.  Remember not to keep trying to be like Jesus – just let him live through you.

Love,

The older (and hopefully better) version of you!