Sunday, December 20, 2009
My grandmother flew in from Texas to spend Christmas with us. Christmas Eve night I got up in the middle of the night and looked out the window to see if it had snowed. After about the fifth time getting up, my grandmother told me to get back in bed and forget about the snow.
Christmas morning we woke up to nine inches of snow. It was AWESOME!!!!! Santa had come and left presents under the tree, but we didn't care. My brother, sister and I spent the entire day outside sledding, having snowball fights and making snow angels.
When we sat down for dinner there were still unopened presents under the tree. The snow was the best Christmas present ever!!!
I'm hoping for a white Christmas this year! :)
What about you? What are your favorite Christmas memories?
Friday, December 4, 2009
This whole thing has made me very thoughtful. The reality is all of us are very vulnerable to stumbling. If you think you have the world by the tail when it comes to your marriage or life in general - WATCH OUT! This world is filled with temptations. Just one choice in a weak moment could change your life forever.
This is why I think it is critically important for individuals and couples to surround themselves with people who will hold you accountable and help you make wise decisions. When you are an island unto yourself it is easy to convince yourself that "you'll just do it this one time" or that "nobody will ever find out." TRUTH always comes out sooner or later. And it usually doesn't just impact one person, there is often a very painful ripple affect that impacts many innocent people.
I heard an interview with attorney Laurie Puhn about this situation. I thought she said something worth repeating..."a man is as faithful as his character is strong." I think this is true for all of us.
I saw the beautiful picture of Tiger and his family. On the surface they look like they have it all. Underneath the surface I know these people are imperfect human beings who struggle just like the rest of us.
I am sad that Tiger did what he did. I am hopeful that with help the Woods can come out of this with a stronger marriage.
Do you know someone who is struggling in their marriage because of an affair? With help marriages can not only survive an affair, they can emerge stronger and better. There are intensives across this country offering help to wounded marriages. For more information about surviving an affair or the intensives click the highlighted words. You can also visit the Beyond Affairs Network website.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
I loved that this family was not afraid to take this young man in even though he didn't look like them and they were ridiculed by others for doing it. They took Michael in because it was the right thing to do.
I cried when Michael walked into his very own bedroom and told his adopted mom, "I've never had one before." She responded, "What, a room to yourself?" To which he replied, "No, a bed."
Once again, I was reminded of how blessed I am. I have never wanted for a bed to sleep in. I may have missed a meal or two, but it was probably more about losing weight than about not having food to eat.
My family has been there to support me through thick and thin - something I think you don't fully appreciate until you are grown and have a family of your own.
If you are looking for something to do over the Thanksgiving weekend, consider going to see the movie. It was a great reminder that even when things are chaotic and challenging, I have so much to be thankful for.
I am surrounded by many people who make my life rich and adventurous. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
It was really overwhelming to think that they have sacrificed and served on my behalf. Pretty incredible. We live in an amazing country filled with many many wonderful people.
To all of our veterans, THANK YOU! You are our heroes!!!! God bless you and your families.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
To celebrate, I surprised him this past weekend with a getaway to a friend's cabin. It was GREAT!!!! Saturday morning we actually slept in 'til 9:30 - something we haven't done in the 20 years we've been married. We spent the day not doing much of anything, but we did talk a lot about the people who have helped us get to where we are today in our marriage.
We have been very fortunate to be surrounded by a group of family and friends who have walked this road with us through job transitions, the birth of our child, brain surgery, family illness and exciting accomplishments. Some of these people have been with us from the day we walked down the aisle. Others have come along more recently, but ALL of them have held us accountable, encouraged us, laughed and cried with us, prayed with us and helped us to navigate this road.
There is no question that even the best of marriages can be challenging. My husband and I both agreed that trying to do marriage by yourself can be treacherous. While we have made some mistakes, we think we have been spared from making huge blunders by watching the examples of those who have been married significantly longer than us.
Who is walking along side your marriage?
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
October is Let's Talk month, a month set aside nationally to encourage parents to talk with their teens about issues such as sex and healthy dating relationships.
As a parent, if you have experienced the eye rolling, exasperated looks and statements like, "I already know all that!" you may be surprised to learn that the majority of teens DO want to talk with their parents about these issues. According to a new publication by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unwanted Pregnancy, teens say that parents most influence their decisions about relationships - more than friends, the media, other family members, or even their own boy or girlfriend.
If this is a conversation you are uncomfortable having with your teen, there is a great piece called Relationship Redux: Tips and Scripts for Talking to Your Kids about Relationships, published by the National Campaign that I think you will find very helpful.
Here are a few statistics you might find interesting:
One in five teens who have been in a serious relationship say they have been hit, slapped, or pushed by a partner; one in four girls say their boyfriend has tried to prevent them from spending time with friends or family; and one in four teen girls say they have been pressured to go further than they wanted.
One in five teens say they have electronically sent or posted online nude or semi-nude photos or videos of themselves.
Thirteen percent of same-age relationships among those aged 12-14 include sexual intercourse. If the partner is just two years older, that number doubles: 26 percent of the relationships include sex. If the partner is three or more years older, 33 percent of the relationships include sex.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
If you have had conversations like this, what do you think are the most important topics to cover?
Monday, September 28, 2009
That question was actually posed to a random sample of 400 men. Eighty-two percent of those surveyed said they would rather be alone and unloved in the world than disrespected. I thought that was really interesting.
Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, author of Love and Respect and Cracking the Communication Code has spent a lot of time looking at the issue of love and respect in men and women.
Bottomline - women want to be loved and men want to be treated with respect. You may be saying....and..... your point? Well, because men and women see things so differently, when conflict enters into a relationship things can get really tricky.
Generally speaking, when a woman feels unloved she responds with disrespect and when a guy feels disrespected he usually acts in ways that are unloving. The conversation goes something like... (Guy)"I'll love you when you treat me with respect." (Girl) "I'll treat you with respect when you love me."
Based on lots of experience with couples across the country, Eggerichs knows that this back and forth between spouses often leads to what he refers to as "the crazy cycle."
For example: A woman tells her husband she feels fat and needs to go on a diet. He happens to be at a bookstore picking up a newspaper when he sees a best-selling diet book. He buys it thinking he is helping his wife to accomplish her goal to lose weight. When he gives the book to her, she goes ballistic accusing him of being insensitive and they jump on the crazy cycle.
Truth be told, if her best girlfriend had purchased that book for her and suggested that they work the plan together, the response would have been completely different.
Dr. Eggerichs and his wife Sarah are coming to Chattanooga on October 9 and 10th to present the Love and Respect conference.
They will talk about why two good-willed people negatively react to each other; how two people can positively motivate each other by doing one simple thing and the rewards of a Godly marriage and what a person can do if personal expectations are unmet by a spouse.
For more information about the conference click here.
I am curious to know what you think about the whole love and respect concept.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
We showed this video and people LOVED it! Soooo, I thought I would share it with you. Out of the mouths of babes comes real truth about marriage.
A Fresh Look at Marriage
Thursday, September 17, 2009
I did not hear the President's speech on healthcare, but I was quite shocked when I heard a Senator yelled out in the middle of it.
Then to top it all off Kanye West jumps up on stage and takes the microphone away from Taylor Swift to tell everybody that Beyonce really had the best female video.
I have had to ask myself, "What is this world coming to?" What happened to manners and respect even when you don't agree?????
If I had done any of these things....even in my adult years, my mother would have had my head.
My husband and I have spent a lot of time and energy teaching our daughter to be respectful even when someone does not deserve it or you don't like what they are saying.
Living in a civil society means that "Anything does NOT go." There are certain things you just don't do.
I hope there were a lot of dinner table conversations with kids about these three examples of inappropriate behavior. Otherwise, we have a lot of young people who are going to assume that anything goes.......
Monday, August 31, 2009
A few weeks ago I attended an international conference on marriage and family. One of the plenary sessions featured a conservative, religious, older guy, Dr. Scott Stanley, and a young, feminist, liberal woman, Dr. Galena Rhoades, discussing the latest research on living together. While some of their findings probably won't surprise you, there were several things that were thought-provoking.
Just in case you are wondering: Four to five percent of US households are cohabiting and sixty to seventy percent of couples live together before marriage.
When couples were asked why they chose to live together before getting married, the most popular answer was so they could spend more time together. I thought it was very interesting that most of the couples said they believed in the institution of marriage. BUT many of them are really questioning whether or not they can actually make marriage work over the long haul.
One of the most eye-opening findings was the fact that most people who live together don't realize that once you start living together it makes it much more difficult to break up. Things like signing a lease together, getting a dog, and/or having a child together are all things that anchor the relationship and make breaking up much more complicated. It is harder to walk away even though you may be over the relationship and ready to move on. So, some people marry the person they are living with knowing this really isn't the person I would choose to marry.
The other thing that struck me was the differences in how men and women view cohabitation. When researchers asked couples to talk about how they decided to live together, one couple responded like this - she said, "He was moving to my city and we were already engaged so it made financial sense for us to move in together." He said, "To give the relationship a chance to become very serious. To see if we can live together." Hummmmm. Seems like if you are engaged your relationship is already serious. Clearly they were not on the same page.
Studies indicate that men actually value marriage more than women, but when asked about living with someone prior to marriage, men are more likely to say they feel trapped or that they are living with this woman while they are still waiting for their soulmate to come along.
Bottomline, whether you are religious or not, living together before marriage doesn't appear to have great outcomes. While there are definitely exceptions to this rule, overarchingly living with someone before you marry them does not seem to build a strong foundation for a great marriage. The only exception is if you are engaged and have a date set for your wedding. Even then, research shows that it isn't the best way to get your marriage off to a great start.
Many people think that it is only conservative, religious, narrow minded people who think cohabiting is a bad idea. Actually, if you look at the credible research on cohabitation from the University of Denver, Bowling Green State University and The University of Texas to name a few, you would be hard pressed to make that case.
Dr. Stanley wrapped up the plenary session by asking this question: Is cohabitation a pathway that will get you what you are hoping for - love that lasts with one person?
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Tell me what you think.
Friday, August 14, 2009
WOW!!!!!! Once I started reading, I could not put the book down, which was scary because I was traveling on a plane to give a presentation and really needed to be focused on my talk.
When I finished, my head was swimming with all kinds of thoughts about my life and the impact I am having on others.
Do yourself a favor and take the time to read this book. I think it has the potential to be transformational.
In the book, Mr. Andrews takes David Ponder back in time to meet with historical characters to consider seven decisions that determine personal success. Responsibility, seeking wisdom, serving others, being a person of action and having a decided heart are just a few of the things Ponder is given to think about.
Whether you are single, married, a parent, boss, employee, friend, etc. this book addresses things we all should be thinking about.
Check out Andy Andrews' website
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Not long ago I had a conversation with some teachers asking them what they wished parents knew about making the school year great. I thought you might be interested in some of the things they shared with me.
Be informed - read information sent home by teachers. Don't be afraid to ask questions. If your school has a website, check it out frequently. You are the best advocate for your child.
Be responsible - stay on top of permission slips that need to be signed. Attend parent/teacher/student conferences, even when your child is in high school this is important.
Be a good role model - your child is watching your every move. Show respect for school rules - even if you don't agree with them.
Be reasonable - if you want to meet with a teacher, schedule a time to do so instead of trying to catch them in the hall between classes.
If your child is sick keep him/her home from school - enough said.
Encourage good homework habits - help your child learn how to manage his/her homework. Resist the temptation to do it for him/her.
Keep your teacher informed - talk to your child's teacher about anything that may impact your child's performance or behavior at school. If your child is dealing with grief, divorce, nervousness over an upcoming event, this is helpful and important information to share with the teacher.
Express appreciation - teachers work to inspire their students to be lifelong learners. They often spend long hours preparing and planning to make the classroom environment conducive to learning and a great experience for our children. Saying "thank you" would be a good thing!
Here's to a terrific school year!!!
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
I honestly think that being there for my friend and having the privilege of praying for all of them has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. I have often prayed for our military and the leaders of our country, but to hear up close and personal the day by day struggles, the sacrifices made, or to receive a call early in the morning asking for prayer for a family that just received word their loved one won't be coming home, shed a whole different light on what it means for these people to serve our country.
The two words that come to my mind are: extreme sacrifice.
I am so thankful for the men and women and their families who serve. While I have walked this road with my friend, my eyes have been opened to the fact that we have a group of people in harms way that we need to pray for and support, but we also have a group of people (families) serving right here who make it possible for these men and women to go off to a foreign land.
I am a bit surprised at how emotional I have been the last 12 hours. It has been an amazing journey. I understand that a unit from Georgia has replaced this unit that is arriving home. I have already started praying for them.
I pray that we all will be grateful and never forget or take for granted the sacrifices that have been made on our behalf.
Monday, July 27, 2009
In this morning's paper I read an article that quoted a psychologist saying that he is surprised that there are not more political figures having affairs.
Dr. Farley, former president of the American Psychological Association, said he thinks that many elected politicians are in a sense wired for such mischief through personalities built for risk taking and dealing with uncertainty. See article here.
So is there anything couples can do to help affair-proof their marriage?
The answer is YES!
Dave Carder recently spoke at the International Smart Marriages Conference in Orlando, Florida. He has written several books about infidelity including Torn Assunder and Close Calls.
During his presentation he talked about "Close Call Friendships." His talk was outstanding so I thought I would share some of the points he made.
Infatuation is an incredibly powerful drug. People don't think in their right mind when they are infatuated with something.
Any relationship with potential for quick chemistry is dangerous.
There is nothing wrong with platonic friendships with people of the opposite sex, but you need to have strong boundaries. When people come together around the same interests and passion it can be dangerous.
Beware of individuals from your past - old girlfriends/boyfriends. You never forget adolescent romance - which is why people often get into trouble when they go to high school and college reunions or get on Facebook and search for old flames.
Here are the danger signs for a close call friendship:
- You save topics of conversation for someone other than your spouse.
- You share spousal difficulties with this person. For example - "You're a woman, help me understand how my wife works."
- Your friend shares relationship difficulties with you.
- You anticipate seeing this person more than your spouse - this is a sign you are already sliding sideways. Keep in mind that you see your spouse at the 2 worst times of day - first thing in the morning when things tend to be chaotic and in the evening when you are trying to get dinner ready, homework done and you are tired from the day.
- You are more concerned about your friend than your spouse.
- You provide special treats for your friend.
- You fantasize about marriage with this friend.
- You spend more alone time with your friend than with your spouse.
- Your spouse does not have access to all of the conversations you are having with this person - email, texting, in person, etc.
- You spend money on this friend behind your spouse's back.
- Conflicts arise between you and your spouse over this friendship.
- You lie to your spouse in order to spend time with this friend - ie. You go into work an hour before you really need to be there in order to see your friend.
- You hide interactions with your friend from your spouse. For example, "Don't smile at me when you see me at church, my husband is watching."
- You accuse your spouse of jealousy when the friendship is brought up.
- You develop special rituals with your friend that are highly anticipated by both parties. When the rituals don't happen there is great disappointment.
- Your friend shares his/her feelings or touches you, which creates an inward response.
- You have conversations with your friend that include sexual content.
- You participate in corporate travel with your friend - also known as corporate dating - You participate in business travel where meals, alcohol, entertainment are involved and you are staying at the same hotel.
Don't come a knockin' my marriage is a rockin'!!!!!!
Would love to know your thoughts......
Monday, July 20, 2009
This was the scene at Coolidge Park on Saturday night as families gathered to watch the Wizard of Oz as part of First Things First's Movies in the Park series. Chick-fil-A partnered with us to do a cow drop. A crowd of approximately 6500-7000 watched as 750 little Mini-moo Chick-fil-A cows with parachutes came flying in from a helicopter. There was almost no wind and it was an exceptionally beautiful evening, for which I am VERY thankful. This was a huge hit with the kids!!!!
I love Movies in the Park because it brings to life so much of what First Things First espouses when it comes to building strong families. We see families from all walks of life show up hours before the movie starts to enjoy a picnic and fun time in the park. There is an awesome fountain for kids to play in and a large expanse of green grass where kids can be seen chasing their parents, playing catch or participating in a great game of tag.
When the movie starts I see kids nestled in the laps of their parents or families huddled on a blanket. There are usually a lot of teens who come to the park on a date. One time a group of college kids brought their couch along so they could watch the movie in total comfort. :)
In a day and time when families are often going in lots of different directions I love hosting an event that brings them together for an evening of relaxation and fun.
I am incredibly grateful to Chattem, Comcast, Sunny 92.3, Geico (Chattanooga office), City of Chattanooga Parks and Recreation, The Chattanooga Times Free Press, Chick-fil-A and Lifeguard Ambulance for making it possible for us to provide this opportunity to our community for FREE!!!!
We are always on the look out for creative ways to bring families together. Do you have any good ideas?????
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Since it would take about 8-9 hours to get to our destination, I figured we could just split the driving. We set out Sunday morning bright and early (like 6:30 am early). I drove the first leg of our journey since I am much more of a morning person than she is. When we stopped for lunch I reminded her not to eat anything too heavy since she would be taking over at the wheel.
We get back in the car and head down the interstate. I think we had been on the road about 45 minutes when she started talking about how tired she was and that I probably needed to take over. I'm thinking to myself, "Is this the same child that just a few months ago was begging me to go with her here and there just so she could drive the car????? Fortunately for her, I needed a bathroom break. When I came back from the restroom guess who was in the passenger seat smiling?????
So much for my best laid plans. I ended up driving the rest of the way, which actually turned out to be a good thing because people were driving like maniacs on the Florida Turnpike.
Nine days pass and we are heading home.....I inform my daughter that I'm not falling for the same trick on the drive home :)
We get an early start and stop around 10:30 at Chick-fil-A to take a break. As we are getting back in the car, out of habit I head for the driver's side and then I remember, wait a minute, it's her turn to drive. Before she can get in the passenger side I run around and jump in. She gets a big grin on her face and says, "Darn, I was hoping you would forget." Ha! I am on top of things this time. She ends up driving from Albany into Atlanta and does a really good job. We stop for lunch and I drive the rest of the way home.
The bonus for me was getting to spend a ton of really good time with my daughter even if I did do most of the driving. We laughed, talked about some serious stuff and just enjoyed each other's company. It is times likes these I treasure the most.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
- Encourage those who are 18 and older to register to vote;
- Remember all of the military who are serving on our behalf and the families they have left behind;
- Study our nation's birthplace, Philadelphia;
- Have a conversation about the freedoms we share as Americans;
- Talk to a military veteran;
- Thank employers who make it possible for people to serve in the National Guard and reserves;
- Hold an Independence Day Parade in your neighborhood;
- Investigate what red, white and blue mean to our country; or
- Learn the significance of the stars and stripes on our nation's flag.
Perhaps one of the most important lessons children can learn from this celebration is that with freedom comes responsibility. We all have to learn how to live within limits and be aware of the role we play in maintaining the freedoms we enjoy. Winston Churchill once said, "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."
Happy Fourth of July!!!!!
Thursday, June 25, 2009
There is no question there are a number of different aspects to this situation from unhappiness and infidelity to what is best for the children.
While I am not privy to all of the details of Jon and Kate's situation, having worked in the field of strengthening marriages and families for more than a decade, there isn't much I haven't heard.
So, here are some additional thoughts.
When a spouse is unhappy he/she often blames the marriage or the other person for causing their unhappiness, when in reality there are other things going on. For example, a national study of 10,000 couples asked them to rate their marriage from life in hell (1) to heaven on earth (7). The couples were interviewed twice, five years apart. The study found that most people rated their marriage as happy. Eighty-one percent of the couples who rated their marriage as life in hell were still together five years later. Out of that group, the majority said they were very happy after five years. During the tough times these couples said they were dealing with children, illness, bad things happening to good spouses, job loss, etc. (The Case for Waiting)
Based on my experience, I see many couples willing to throw in the towel on a perfectly good marriage that has just been derailed and needs help getting back on track.
Second, when infidelity is a factor in a marriage, most couples see that as the marriage is over, no questions asked.
According to research, 25 percent of women and 40 percent of men will have an extra-marital affair at some point in their marriage. (Affair-proofing Your Marriage) The good news is there are huge numbers of marriages that don't just survive affairs, they are significantly better than they were before the affair. The key to a marriage surviving an affair lies in its good marital history. If 20 percent of a couple's history is simultaneously viewed as positive by both spouses, they have a better than 90 percent chance of making it. (Can A Marriage Survive an Affair)
Third, there is no debate that divorce impacts children. Even in situations where divorce seems to be the lesser of two evils, children and adults pay a price.
According to Dr. Judith Wallerstein, author of The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, "Divorce is a life-transforming experience. After divorce, childhood is different, adolescence is different, adulthood - with the decision to marry or not and have children or not - is different. (The Legacy of Divorce)
Granted, there are some instances, ie. abuse, where divorce seems to be the best answer. But, the reality is only 30 percent of divorces are due to high conflict, abusive situations. Seventy percent of divorces are low-conflict marriages where people become disconnected and fall out of love.
We cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that all involved - dad, mom, children, friends, neighbors, grandparents, co-workers, etc. will be impacted for a life time when a divorce occurs. Therefore, I do not believe that this is a decision that should be made lightly or quickly.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Please! This kind of thinking is flat out erroneous and there is TONS of research to back it up. Everything will not be just fine.
While high conflict marriages DO impact children, the reality is these children WILL NOT be better off if their parents divorce.
The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce by Judith Wallerstein has 25 years worth of research showing the impact of divorce on children all the way through adulthood. Children are not resilient. They may act tough, but in reality they are very tender.
I will never forget listening to a 10-year-old child ask, "Why did my dad have to quit right in the middle?"
The reality is this marriage can be saved and is worth saving not just for the sake of the children, but for the sake of Jon and Kate.
I wish they had people in their lives that would come along side them and strongly encourage them to seek out additional resources to help get their marriage back on track.
If you know someone whose marriage is derailed encourage them to seek out help from marriage friendly organizations. If you are looking for resources visit www.firstthings.org
Monday, June 22, 2009
I should back up and tell you that our daughter has had her license for about 3 months and before we allowed her to drive her car she had to sign a contract. The contract included things like no one would be allowed to ride with her at this point without permission and there would be no alcohol or cigarettes allowed in her car.
To make a long story shorter.....
She told her Dad that her car smelled like smoke and that I was upset. He mentioned that it might be the air conditioning filter. In spite of the fact that he used to detail cars and might have some knowledge about this area, I jumped in there saying there is no way that all of the sudden the car is going to start reeking of cigarette smoke.
Yesterday Dad and daughter went to the car parts store and the guys said it was probably her cabin air filter (aka the air conditioning filter) Hummmmm. When they changed it out, the old one REEEEEKED of cigarette smoke. The guy said the previous owner of the car was clearly a smoker and this was one of the worst air filters he had seen.
When they returned home my daughter was very quick to point out that I was WRONG and needed to apologize for not believing her in the first place.
She's right and I did.
While I felt bad about the situation, I don't think it was totally a bad scene. I want her to know that we are paying attention. There are too many times teens get in tough situations with their friends and get coerced into doing something they don't really want to do. I thought this may have been one of times.
I did ask her why she didn't tell us when her car started smelling like smoke. To which she replied, "I didn't want to get in trouble." I explained that letting me just find it on my own made the situation a whole lot more suspicious than if she had come to us and told us her car was smelling funny.
Lesson learned for all involved!
Sunday, June 7, 2009
As I was walking this morning, I was thinking about how fortunate I am to be able to get up and walk each morning. The sunrises are magnificent and on any given day I might see deer, rabbit, a coyote or a beautiful flower that has just popped open. I love the peace and quiet and the opportunity to start the new day appreciative of what I have - my health, my family, great friends, a job I am passionate about and so much more.
My walk is more than exercise, it gives me the chance to frame my day and consider all that I have versus what I don't have.
I recently read a book called Gross National Happiness by Dr. Arthur Brooks. After reviewing a great deal of data on the topic of happiness he found something that really surprised him. The things that actually lead to living a happy life are not the things people typically think of like money, having the perfect body or making great grades in school.
The key to happiness is a life that reflects traditional values and practices like faith, hard work, marriage, charitable giving and freedom.
While Americans have become a lot richer in the past several decades there has not been a meaningful rise in the average level of happiness. In 1972, 30 percent of Americans said they were very happy. By 2004, the percent of Americans who said they were happy remained virtually unchanged even though there had been a 50 percent real increase in average income.
People who give money to charitable organizations are 43 percent more likely than non-givers to be happy.
Brooks bottom line is that without proper values, our jobs and our economy will bring us soulless toil and joyless money. Our education will have little meaning and there will be no reason to fight or make peace to protect our way of life.
"The pursuit of happiness is central to everything we do and our values are what make this pursuit possible," said Dr. Brooks.
Now there's something worth thinking about. What brings you happiness?
Monday, May 25, 2009
There have been times when I have heard the frustration in my friend's voice and I cried over not being able to do more for her (she lives far away). I know she has sleepless nights wondering what is going on thousands of miles away with her husband. Sometimes when I call she says, "I have to call you back, I'm picking up the kids from school and I don't want to be on the phone." She is clearly a great mom and is seeking to keep things as normal as possible for their children.
Today is a special day set aside to honor those who have served and are currently serving our country, but what I have realized over the last year is that I need to be incredibly grateful everyday because great sacrifices are being made both overseas and at home as families try to carry on.
I hope you will take time today and every day to think about and be thankful for all of the amazing freedoms we have as a result of people being will to essentially put their "normal" life on hold to serve you and me and many other people.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
There is nothing like home grown tomatoes, watermelon, homemade ice cream, swimming pools and fresh cut flowers from the garden.
We aren't planning any big vacation this summer, but we are looking forward to a little lighter schedule and some fun times hanging out with friends and family.
Are you doing anything fun this summer?
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
The other day I saw a commercial with a scantily clothed celebrity chef sitting on steps sensually eating a hamburger. Honestly, I felt like I was watching soft porn. It is ridiculous what we are exposed to when it comes to sex. No wonder young people are enthralled with it. Which brings me to my point.
A couple of years ago I was talking to the mother of a teenage boy. I was encouraging her to talk with her son about sex. She said she just couldn't, that her mom didn't talk with her and she turned out okay so she saw no reason to talk with her son. Very sad. Unfortunately, I would not say she is the exception to the rule. This is how many parents think about this issue either because they don't think they have enough information or because they had sex as a teen and don't want to seem like a hypocrite.
Messages about sex are in the media much more now than even 5 years ago. With no guidance from parents, many of our teens are left to draw their own conclusions about sex, relationships and dating from what they see and hear. A tremendous amount of the information is just plain WRONG!
Most teens have no clue that messing around with sex is like playing Russian roulette.
For the month of May, First Things First has partnered with On Point and the Girl Scouts to bring awareness to this issue. We have developed a campaign called Is it the right time? Calling into question are the teen years the right time to be focused on a baby or are there other things like education, sports, friendships, their future, etc that should be occupying their time.
You can visit the website at www.isittherighttime.com We have lots of helpful information for teens. Parents can visit the parent's page on firstthings.org to get tips for talking with your teen about sex, the latest research and other resources.
Please help us spread the word. This is an important issue.
Just out of curiosity, did your parents talk with you about sex and healthy dating relationships?
Friday, May 1, 2009
Dr. Shawn Stoever and Greg Smalley wrote a book that is scheduled for release in June about fully engaging your heart in your marriage (The Whole-Hearted Marriage: Fully Engaging Your Most Important Relationship).
They wrote the book because they both found themselves encountering people who were just going through the motions of life without ever engaging their heart.
Shawn was sharing with me that he doesn't think people necessarily make a conscious decision to disengage their heart. It can be the result of many different life circumstances. For example, when he was 9-years-old, his mother died. Shawn's dad was a wonderful father, but he did not know how to talk with his son about his feelings and emotions surrounding the death of his mother. Shawn's response was to stuff everything and kick into survival mode.
It wasn't until he met the woman of his dreams, Christina, who told him if they were going to take the relationship any further she wanted his heart, not just his intellect, that he began to think long and hard about whether he was going to engage his heart and risk being hurt again. While he knew he loved her, this was a huge step - which by the way he did end up taking.
There are a lot of things that can cause people to live life without engaging their heart. The trick is figuring out how to get your heart to open back up in a world that is designed to shut it down.
If you are living life half-heartedly or with no heart at all, here are some suggestions for re-engaging your heart:
Recognize that your heart is important, not just to keep the blood flowing, but to experience joy, laughter, hurt, enthusiasm and other emotions.
Identify those things that rob you of the opportunity to engage your heart, like the death of a parent, lies from the past, fear, friends who have said hurtful things, or compromises you have made. There are literally thousands of reasons people close down emotionally to protect themselves.
Make a conscious effort to re-engage your heart. When your heart is open you can freely give and receive love which leads to the blessing of experiencing life whole-heartedly. If you have no idea how to begin to reconnect with your heart, consider these ideas:
Watch children play or even play with them. Kids naturally live life with their hearts fully engaged.
- Intentionally choose a movie that you know will touch your heart and bring forth emotion.
- Grab a journal and keep track of your feelings for a week.
- Intentionally hang out with people who live life whole-heartedly. Their energy and passion for life is contagious.
Regardless of the path you choose to re-engage your heart, the benefits will be obvious. Relationships, particularly marriage, will have more meaning, feelings will be more accessible
and work may even be more fulfilling. In general, life is more satisfying and enjoyable when your heart is fully engaged.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
In case you are interested in a definition for each:
Whole-heartedly living life means you are embracing all that life has to offer with energy, passion and enthusiasm.
Half-heartedly embracing life is like hitting a ground ball to second and jogging to first base because you are going to be out anyway.
Living life with no heart is equal to showing up at your job just for the paycheck.
Where do you fall on this continuum?
Monday, April 20, 2009
From September to May WinShape serves as a Marriage Retreat. You can come here and do your own self-guided retreat or you can participate in one of the many programs they offer. There are biking and hiking trails and lots of places to just sit and chill out. Did I mention that the food is amazing....as in you don't have to cook.
Are you living life in the fast lane? Do you feel like you and your spouse are like two ships passing in the night? Would a little get away be just what the doctor ordered to reconnect with your spouse? Check our WinShape! www.winshapemarriage.com
What have you done for your marriage lately?
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
WOW! Thanks for all the responses!!!!!
In my last post I asked the question, "What constitutes an affair?" I received a number of responses. I think this one encompasses the gist of most of them:
"If you spend time, energy, emotions, romance, and yes, even virtual sex with anyone or anything other than your spouse, it is defined as "an affair". After all, if you are spending those things on someone else, virtual or real, you are robbing from your spouse!"
Two good reads on this topic are, Torn Assunder by Dave Carder and Not Just Friends by Shirley Glass.
Friday, April 10, 2009
I just read an article about folks who are jumping into the virtual world of Second Life and basically living a "second life" on line. They have an on-line identity (an avatar) that they can manipulate to look however they want. They can marry someone, have children, have any kind of job they want, etc.
Many of the folks on-line are married in real life, but having "pretend" sex online with an avatar.
So, is this cheating??????
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Working in the yard is like therapy for me. I LOVE digging around in the dirt. But, I have to tell ya, last year I let one of my flower beds go because I just didn't have time to mess with it and this year I AM PAYING FOR IT! It is overgrown and clearing it out is a REAL PAIN!!!!
So why am I telling you all this? Because while I was pulling the begillion (not sure that is a word) weeds, it really made me think about how bad things can get when you don't tend to your marriage or to your kids. Weeds start growing up. If you get to them quickly they don't take over, but if you let time go by looking at all the weeds can be totally intimidating. Sometimes you walk away just because you think, "I can't possibly deal with this." Which only makes things worse in the long run.
Just like weeds and ground cover choke out the beautiful flowers, so unresolved issues and petty arguments choke out love for your spouse and children.
It's spring time. Do you have some weeding to do?
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Did you know that:
- 1 in 3 teens will experience some form of abuse in a dating relationship;
- teens who suffer from abusive relationships exhibit increased rates of substance abuse, high risk sexual behaviors, eating disorders and suicidal tendencies;
- More likely than classmates to bring weapons to school; and
- 3 times more likely to be involved in a physical fight.
Each state was given a grade for how well prepared they are for dealing with this issue. Tennessee scored a C because it makes protective orders difficult for teens to obtain. If you are under the age of 18, you have to have a parent or a caseworker to file the order for you.
Interested is seeing how your state scored? Check out breakthecycle.org
Monday, March 30, 2009
Saturday she went out to dinner with a friend. Around 9:30 she was ready to head home. Only one problem. Her father and I had been listening to the weather and there were 3 tornado warnings out in the area. We told her to stay put. At 10, the warnings went away so we told her to head home and to BE CAREFUL!
I wish I could tell this story like she told it when she walked through the door, but my interpretation will have to do.
No sooner had she hit the interstate than rain, did I mention torrential rain, started pounding her car. She said as she was driving she was thinking about how thankful she was for whoever invented windshield wipers because hers were going as fast as they could. No one was going more than 25 miles an hour and everybody had their caution lights on. This continued for about 12 miles. She described herself as looking like a little old granny as she tried to see out her windshield.
When she walked through the door she was WIDE EYED as she told us her story. She then proceeded to thank her father for opening his big mouth about the only thing she hadn't done was drive in a downpour........Needless to say, she described this as her most stressful driving experience EVER!
While we weren't thrilled with our daughter being out in the weather, we knew this was a confidence building opportunity. One down...... a million to go.
Friday, March 27, 2009
When we asked one guy what brought him to our premarital education class, he said, "My fiance at gun point." Clearly, he was kidding....at least we think he was. But it was what he said after that that was most striking. He went on to say, "I didn't want to come to this class because I thought it would be the biggest waste of time. Boy, was I wrong. I had no idea what I didn't know about marriage."
If I had a dime for every time I have had a newlywed say to me, "I wish someone had told me....." you fill in the blank, I would be independently wealthy.
So, what do you wish someone had told you before you walked down the aisle? If someone told you something and you didn't listen, but wish you had, that counts as well.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
In the process of getting her 50 plus hours of driving in before we go to get her license next Friday, I have to tell you we have experienced some really rude and impatient drivers.
Today, as she waited for a couple of cars to go before she made a left turn, you could see the frustration on the face of the driver behind us. As we made the turn, people were clearly looking to see who in the world was driving that car. Could an experienced driver have safely made the turn before the two cars went by? Yes. BUT, I would rather our daughter err on the side of playing it safe than throwing caution to the wind.
Confession: I have probably been one of those impatient drivers. This experience has taught me the rest of the story. I need to practice patience and make sure I am being a good example to teens who are learning the rules of the road.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Quite frankly I am excited about just hanging around here. Travel is fun, but traffic delays, soft beds with FAT, hard pillows and the hectic time of trying to get it all in sometimes makes me feel like I need a vacation from my vacation. Not to mention the fact that there are a ton of fun things to do close by for FREE. Why spend money when we don't have to?
What are your plans for spring break?
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
In the last two days I have been sitting at stoplights getting ready to move because the light has turned green when someone comes flying through the intersection blatantly running the red light.
Our daughter is turning 16 in 16 days. I think she is a good driver for the amount of time she has been on the road, but honestly I am more worried about the other drivers and their driving than I am about her driving.
I told her this morning that the reason she has to learn to be a really good defensive driver is just because you follow the rules of the road does not mean everybody else will.
A couple of months ago I read an article in Reader's Digest about red light runners. When they asked people why they ran red lights the number one response was because they were in a hurry - not they were distracted talking on their cell phone or dealing with children - they knew they were running the red light!
According to the article, studies show that red-light running is on the rise across the country. In a six-year study, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that deadly crashes at red lights increased at more than three times the rate of all other types of fatal auto accidents.
So, slow down and beware. Running a red light is not worth it!
Monday, March 9, 2009
When I look around and see so many stuffy adults leading what look like pretty boring lives I think How sad!
Spring break is right around the corner. I hope all of us will get out of our winter ruts and do some fun stuff with the family. When is the last time you played hide and seek or kickball?
Friday, March 6, 2009
Last question......for those of you who have children, are you parenting the same way your parents raised you? Why or why not?
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
I just watched an episode of The Bad Girls Club and wanted to throw up. Hair pulling, pushing, shoving, kicking. It looked like a bunch of barbarians.
The sad thing is this is a very popular show with teens. These "bad girls" pride themselves on being this way. In the episode I watched all the girls ganged up on one girl because she danced with a guy while the rest of them sat on the sidelines and sulked. They actually beat her up so badly she had to go to the hospital.
In spite of the fact that a lot of the people say they watch the show for the entertainment value, I wonder if that is all that is happening?
What all of these shows have in common is crazy, messed up relationships. I would expect adults watching these shows to be able to differentiate between the craziness and real life, but for a lot of teens I'm pretty sure they aren't there yet.
I don't believe in sheltering kids from reality, but I do wonder about shows like this and their impact on the way kids decide to deal with problems at school and at home. It seems like every time I turn around I am reading about teens killing their parents, bully other teens and the like. While I would like to believe this is the exception to the rule, with access to so many shows like the ones listed you have to wonder.
Any thoughts on this????? How do you handle television viewing with your kids? How did your parents handle it with you? (If you can remember, tee hee)
Monday, March 2, 2009
Based on what I have seen in Hollywood, I would say there are very few couples I would want giving me advice on how to get my marriage back on track.
I'm sure there will be couples who will go for this, but you seriously have to wonder about the quality of the advice they will receive. It seems like a train wreck waiting to happen. I think it is crazy how the reality shows "use" hurting people for monetary gain and potentially leave them worse off than they were before the show.
Friday, February 27, 2009
Yesterday I attended a seminar entitled, Surviving Financial Meltdown: Confident Decisions in an Uncertain World. There were close to 600 people in attendance.
The speaker, Ron Blue, said alot of things that made tremendous sense to me when it comes to money. One of the things he talked about was a four-part financial plan that the average American family could benefit from:
- Spend less than you earn
- Think long term with goals and investing
- Maintain emergency cash
- Minimize the use of debt
I see so many parents going deep into debt in order to make sure their kids have an over the top prom, a car or some other thing. When we as parents do this what are we teaching our children about money? My guess is our children are learning that you don't really have to have the money in hand before you spend it. Which is somewhat risky because that assumes that the money will be there in the future - and based on the experience of the last 12 months - I don't know that we can bank on that. No pun intended.
I don't want to be preachy. It does weigh heavy on my heart that alot of good kids are learning really bad money management principles.
What are your thoughts about this and what are you teaching your kids about managing money?
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
I remember going to the Oak Ridge High School prom at the Civic Center. My mom made my dress. I thought it was beautiful! My date picked me up. We went to prom and came home. It was a pretty fun evening. I don't remember the evening costing an arm and a leg.
How things have changed. In recent years, couples have spent somewhere between $800 and $1,500 on this annual rite of passage with expectations for a great night of fun.
From limos, manicures, and big hair to fancy dresses and tuxes that match not to mention dinner, prom night has come a long way.....or not. While I agree that prom is a rite of passage, I think things have gotten pretty outrageous. I mean $1,500 is A LOT of money.
I am betting that if teens really put their mind to it, they could get very creative with their spending for prom.
Blink and the 2009 prom season will be here. So now is the time to start thinking about how much you are willing to fork out for this event. If you are planning on your teen paying for half or all of the prom expenses some advance warning will be helpful since they typically don't think past tomorrow.
Looking for some creative ways to cut back on prom costs? Here are a few ideas:
Borrow a dress - who will ever know?
Cook dinner at your house for a group or take a picnic to the park.
Rent a less expensive tux or wear a nice suit.
Have a friend fix your hair.
Have a pre-pro party with your friends and do each other's nails and makeup.
Take pictures ahead of time instead of paying for them at the dance.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Are you the parent of a teen who will be going to prom? I am curious to know what folks are doing or have done in the past to be creative and save money.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
14% express strong sentiments against marriage
22% aren't ready, but say they eventually plan to wed
23% have a practical view of marital unions and often live together first
19% are enmeshed in the magic of love
22% have a strong belief in the institution of marriage
The research indicates that the motivation for marriage is very high.
So the rub about all of this is whether or not the government should be funding an ad campaign about the value of marriage. What the article didn't address is why the government is doing this in the first place. This is the part that I believe is critical and cannot be left out of the equation.
A significant amount of research indicates that: the collapse of marriage is the principal cause of child poverty in the United States. Approximately 80 percent of long-term child poverty in our country occurs among children from broken or never-formed families.
The lack of marriage in our society clearly has major long-term consequences. How is this type of campaign different from the click it or ticket campaign or the stop smoking campaign?
Did you read the article? What are your thoughts about this?
Monday, February 16, 2009
In recent conversations with teens across our community they say this is a common practice - which is really scary for a number of reasons. When a group of middle school girls were asked why they sent out nude pictures of themselves they said they were marketing themselves as good date material. Hummmmmmmmmmmm
The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy reported that a survey of 1,280 teens and young adults found that 20 percent of the teens surveyed said they had sent or posted nude or semi-nude photos or videos of themselves.
I have to tell you this makes me sad. Our girls are getting some crazy messages if they believe they have to send nude pictures of themselves to boys for them to consider them good dating material. From my conversations, girls tell me that the boys ask them to send these pictures.
In my opinion, something is totally messed up with this whole scenario. For us as parents I think it means we must keep our eyes wide open and not be afraid to talk with our tweens/teens about these issues - even if they don't bring them up.
I personally am committed to not letting the culture raise my child. Not that I am foolish enough to believe she will never do anything wrong, but it won't be because we didn't talk about the crazy stuff that is going on surrounding sex. If our girls believe the best thing they have to offer a guy is their body we are in big trouble.
Would love to hear your thoughts about this.
P.S. Thought you might be interested to know that Facebook has changed its terms. Basically stating that anything that is put on Facebook becomes the property of Facebook even if the account is closed. The Consumerist
Friday, February 13, 2009
Women will purchase 85 percent of the Valentine cards while men buy most of the candy and bouquets. Thought it was interesting that 64 percent of the men say they do not make plans in advance for a romantic Valentine's Day. Hummmmmmmmm
It does seem kind of funny to me that people spend an incredible amount of money in one day to say, "I love you!" Wonder what they do with the other 364 opportunities they have to say or do something to let their loved ones know how much they mean to them????
I personally think Valentine's Day is kinda fun, but not if that is the only day of the year you go out of your way to say "I love you." I know when Jay and I were dating I was constantly trying to think of creative ways to show him how much I loved him. After a few years of marriage it seems like I stopped being so creative. I'm back in the game when it comes to this because I really do think it matters in a marriage relationship.
So, here are a few of my ideas:
Write down 10 things you appreciate about your spouse and leave it on his/her dresser.
Put a love note in your spouse's wallet.
Bring home a flower every day.
Cook his/her favorite meal just because.
Leave Hugs and Kisses in unexpected places throughout the house.
So, what are your creative ideas??????