Monday, February 18, 2013

Trusting God

Steve Angrisano, Trust God, Have Faith, Life Coach, Spirituality Coach
Last night, I attended the first night of our Parish Lenten Mission with Steve Angrisano, a singer, songwriter and storyteller. Boy, is he a great storyteller!

One of the best parts of the evening was when he told this hilarious account about eight nuns taking him out to lunch and driving him to the airport after a performance. Eight nuns. Wow.

Many things happened along the way, and Steve had us laughing hysterically. They started out being on time for the flight, but as they kept stopping to help others, Steve's nerves began to fray -- he was worried about missing his flight.

The culmination of the story occurs when the nuns decide they need to stop at the grocery store on the way to the airport. Steve understood the logic in this, based on geography, but he was very worried he would not make his flight. "Nuntheless," he was not in charge!

As luck would have it, the stoplight at the entrance to the store's parking lot was broken. So it took quite a long time to inch through the intersection ... one ... car ... at ... a ... time. 

When they finally got inside the store, the nuns discovered a woman in a desperate situation. She was crying because she had no money to buy her groceries. After listening to her tale, they gave her assistance for that day and told her where to go for more help the next day.  

Back in the car, the nuns prayed and thanked God for the lights being out at the intersection. Steve was perplexed by this and asked about it. They explained to him that if the lights had been working, they most likely would not have discovered the woman who needed their help. The timing would have been off. They knew they were in the right place at the right time.

So, even though Steve spent the entire afternoon worried about making his flight, the nuns were at peace, knowing God had everything under control. And, by the way, Steve made his flight!

The message here is that God has things perfectly timed and perfectly in control. If only we could live our lives like the nuns -- one moment at a time. Trusting God. Never worrying about what is coming next. Just doing our best to help others along the way. Wouldn't that be beautiful?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Relationships are Journeys, not Destinations

I read a quote yesterday that made the little light bulb inside my head go on.

Here it is:

"Relationships are journeys, not destinations."

I'm thinking mostly about marriages here, so I'm going to focus on that.

A journey is a trip -- traveling from one place to another. Or, you can think of it as a passage from one stage to another in life.

I think many people get married with the false notion of "Happily Ever After." Almost like the marriage ceremony is the end of the journey. But, really, it's just the beginning, because relationships require work.

Just because we fell in love and got married doesn't mean our relationship will always be happy and easy.

In fact, it's quite the opposite. We are guaranteed to experience problems. But here's the good news. If we choose to remain committed to our marriage, those problems are going to make us stronger individually and as a couple. 

I believe God designed marriage to take us on a journey to help us grow into the best versions of ourselves. Some parts of this marriage journey are joyful, others are difficult. But together -- the joyful times and the difficult ones -- they make the journey complete. 

So, the next time you feel frustrated in your marriage, just remember, it's part of the journey. And it's your cue to start working on the issues causing the frustration so you can get back to the joyful part of the journey.

And remember, anything worth having in life is worth working for. I believe marriage is one of those things.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Way We Talk To Our Children

A friend of mine has this quote displayed in her kitchen.

"The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice. Discipline with soft words."

I love this reminder. Words are so powerful. As are the tone they are spoken with.

As parents, we yield quite a bit of power to influence our children's inner thoughts. We can influence the first thoughts they think when they wake up in the morning, the last thoughts before they go to bed at night ... and many thoughts in between.

This motto is easy to keep when everything is sailing smoothly, but the challenge comes when things are tense or when we are disciplining our children -- those times when anger or frustration is present. 

I also love the verse she has written above it, "Encourage one another and build each other up." That is what Jesus commands us to do. We must use our words to build people up, rather than tear them down.

Some examples of negatively using our words with our children are phrases such as these: "I can't believe you did that." or "What is the matter with you?" or "How could you do that?" or "You're a bad boy." or "You're so stupid." If this is how we speak to our children, these are the messages they will replay over and over in their minds throughout their lives. I don't know about you, but that is not how I want my children thinking about themselves.

Here's a personal example. The other night, we were trying to decide if we were going to go out for dinner or stay home. Tyler had a meltdown in the middle of it, because he wanted to stay home, but he also wanted to go out. He just couldn't decide. 

My husband got very frustrated by Tyler's tears and indecision and used some of the phrases I mentioned above. Rightfully so, Paul was frustrated with the situation. He doesn't like to see Tyler get upset over something seemingly so small. But what good do those phrases do in building up a child? Don't they just make the child feel worse?

I took a different approach that night by gently asking Tyler questions about why he was so upset and why he wanted to stay home. Wouldn't you know it, within a minute or two he came to the decision that he would like to go out. (I'm so glad he did! We had the best time!)

I'm not saying I always perform this well as a parent. And I'm not throwing Paul under the bus by sharing this example! He's on board! But, I share the story, because little lessons like these can help us all use our words to build up our children, instead of tear them down.