The choice is always yours - conflict or connect. Quote from Bill and Pam Farrel

NAME Marriage Conference: Men and Women Relate Differently

The choice is always yours - conflict or connect. Quote from Bill and Pam Farrel

This past week, my husband and I had the opportunity to attend the NAME Marriage Conference in Edmonton. In the next few weeks I’ll be sharing some of the nuggets of wisdom that were shared at the conference.

Bill and Pam Farrel shared with candor and humor. Their first session was about how we relate differently.

  • Being perfect is NOT a good pursuit in life! The goal is to be on a journey together. Take your vows seriously, but not yourselves.
  • Our differences fascinate us . . . and they frustrate us. Genesis 1:27
  • Most couples don’t know what to do with their differences
  • Men are like waffles: They tend to think in boxes, and spend time in one box at a time. As men mature they jump boxes faster, but they always have one single focus at a time. Men are problem solvers. If men get to a box and don’t know what a solution is, they just move on. Some boxes are just plain empty.
  • Women are like spaghetti: Women integrate like a plate of noodles that all touch each other. We travel through life making emotional connections. Multi-tasking is a gift to women, but it can be frustrating to our husbands.

Men and Women Relate Differently

Most couples live with an assumption in their relationship – all conversations are going to be good for both of us. This isn’t true. We need to take turns when it’s time for communication.

The point is to help her finish. If the woman thinks you see her as important, she will want to connect with you. When trust is reignited, a woman is ready to connect. For women, the relationship is built on trust, not content. Men need to pack their bags and go on a listening journey.

Women need to stay in the box with men. Guys do have feelings, they are just slow to reveal themselves. Feelings sink to the bottom of every box. The key to unlock your husband’s heart is to let them live in the box they feel safe in. Become a great listener. Instead of seeing and opening issues surrounding the box your husband is talking about, stay in the box.

Romans 15:7 – accept the person the way God made him.

It’s easy to see differences as flaws. Some things are hard-wired in! I’m going to accept you the way God made you, not the way I wish God made you.

When a man solves problems he uses only one side of his brain; A woman uses both sides of her brain when solving a problem.

When a man eats, the part of his brain that makes him feel happier is stimulated; When a woman eats, the part of her brain that sharpens her eyesight is stimulated. She becomes more aware of her environment and has more to talk about. Relationship works better when food is involved.

Our differences cause us to communicate differently.

4 Levels of Communication:

  1. Small Talk – helpful in determining which relationships to continue or to get things done.
  2. Thoughts and Ideas – preferences; goal is to share the idea with the willingness to defer to the other person.
  3. Opinions and convictions – you share who you really are (Morals, ethics, raising kids, God, political persuasions) Your best friends tend to agree with you. If you have a high level of agreement as husband and wife, you will have less conflict. You need to make appointments to talk about these things.
  4. Emotional connection – All of us are a combination of what we think and what we feel. Decisions need to be made based on truth. Some things in life you just love and some things you’re just not interested in. One of the reasons you’re with the person you’re with is because you share “chemistry”.

When you load up your life with responsibility, you have to have a way to keep the emotional connection. James 1:19

Four Steps to Being a Great Listener:

  1. Repeat Key Phrases
  2. Rephrase (What I hear you saying is ….)
  3. Regroup (Am I in the ballpark?)
  4. Reconnect (Is it a little like this…?)

The choice is always yours – conflict or connection


Fading Photographs: National Alzheimer’s Awareness and Family Caregiver’s Month Blog Tour

My dad was diagnosed with dementia about five years ago. Since my dad’s father had dementia, I understood some of the grief families experience. However, just because I mentally grasp what’s happening doesn’t mean it’s any easier to deal with the grief.

104-year-old Batswana woman. Photo taken by Rex Beam
104-year-old Batswana woman. Photo taken by Rex Beam
Making millet into flour. Photo by Rex Beam.
Making millet into flour. Photo by Rex Beam.

I have many happy memories of times with my dad. Ever since I can remember, he and I have had a close relationship. He was the one I ran to for comfort when my little-girl heart was breaking. We spent hours together in the darkroom, one of his favorite haunts since he was an avid photographer. Dad showed me the exact combination of chemicals required to develop each picture. I watched as each piece of photographic paper was immersed into  chemicals and different shades of black and white magically formed to create a unique image.  One time, he even used the bathtub to develop an enlargement of a beautiful African sunset. My dad worked as a printer, but photography made him come alive.

I spent my early years in South Africa and Botswana, where my parents served as missionaries. As I remember, my dad made sure to keep his camera close at hand, capturing  and documenting our activities. Our family had the privilege of participating in many adventures most people in North America know nothing about — touring diamond mines and watching huge truckloads of dirt and rocks being transformed into handfuls of precious stones, observing craftsmen transform chunks of mahogany wood into candlesticks and other beautiful curios, spending holidays camping in game reserves, seeing African animals in their natural habitats, and gazing in awe at the magnificent thundering Victoria Falls. My dad still has a small treasure trove of black and white photographs he captured one at a time on rolls of Kodak film.

When my dad was first diagnosed, I didn’t see much evidence of the dementia. He forgot things occasionally and seemed confused a little more often than usual. However, he still played tennis, enjoyed going for walks, sang in his church choir, served on the church board, and actively participated in groups. He also enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren and playing games with them. He continued to capture memories in picture form, but he had graduated to a digital camera and his own photo printer.

As months passed, I started noticing changes — withdrawal from conversations and a lack of interest in activities he used to enjoy, like choir and Bible study. Some changes were so gradual that I didn’t even notice until many months had passed. A year ago my mom asked me to come and help pack so that my parents could move into a senior’s facility. The changes in my dad became clear to me as I spent several days with my parents. Dad sat in his favorite rocking chair and watched as my mom and I worked around him. He seemed detached from the situation, almost like he was watching from a distance instead of being directly involved in the move. He did what he was asked to do, but he didn’t take the initiative to do anything he wasn’t asked to do. In the evenings, he sat and watched TV, refusing to play board games with my mom and me. Mom said, “Dad no longer uses his computer. He still takes pictures, but he doesn’t remember how to download them.”

I said, “I can transfer the images from the memory card to a computer.” I was shocked by how many images were fuzzy. Inside I wept. My dad is just a shell of the person I once knew.

The next day I helped my mom sort through items my parents brought back from Africa years ago. Dad was in his rocking chair, seemingly oblivious to the goings on. As I sorted, I came across several large black plastic envelopes, which I knew contained my dad’s pictures. I picked up one envelope and slid the pictures out. Memories came flooding back. As I flipped through the pictures, I became aware that my dad was standing beside me. Soon he started talking to me and reminiscing about events depicted in the images I held in my hands. The pictures were like a doorway to the dad I knew before dementia robbed him from me. We both enjoyed our trip into the past. I watched in wonder as the hazy look I had grudgingly accepted as normal disappeared from my dad’s eyes. We talked about our trips to game reserves and his eyes danced with delight. I smiled as I remembered the way he used to demand we all sit absolutely still in our Volkswagen van while the shutter on his camera clicked. It seemed a pittance to pay for the treasured pictures, which now reunited us for a few short hours.

Carving a candlestick. Photo taken by Rex Beam
Carving a candlestick. Photo taken by Rex Beam

I know there will be difficult days ahead. At present, Dad’s eyes still light up when I walk into the room. I know some day this will no longer be true. My dad’s decline has reminded me that I need to treasure each day, each moment. I have also been challenged to count my blessings, to savor the good memories I have, to connect with Dad on his good days, and love him no matter what. Dad may not sing in a choir any more, but he told me this summer he’s looking forward to singing in Heaven. We share a hope no person or illness can rob us of — spending eternity together with Jesus Christ in Heaven where there will be no more tears.

 

Caregiver's month

Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness and Caregivers Month Blog Tour

President Ronald Reagan designated November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month in 1983. At the time, fewer than 2 million Americans had Alzheimer’s; today, the number of people with the disease has soared to nearly 5.4 million (Alzheimer’s Association, 2014). The Author Community of Helping Hands Press is getting involved this month, and hopes to help raise awareness for Alzheimer’s disease.

Staring Nov. 3rd, with Anne Baxter Campbell’s blog post and Sue Badeau’s appearance on blogtalk radio, and finishing on Nov. 25th with Mark Venturini’s blog post, many of the authors in the Helping Hands Press Community will be sharing their personal stories.

Who are the authors, their blogs and what days?

Check them out! Here is the list:


5 Minute Friday: Leave

Alzheimer’s/Caregivers Blog Tour, & 5 Minute Friday

Caregiver's month

President Ronald Reagan designated November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month in 1983. At the time, fewer than 2 million Americans had Alzheimer’s; today, the number of people with the disease has soared to nearly 5.4 million (Alzheimer’s Association, 2014). The Author Community of Helping Hands Press is getting involved in November, and hopes to help raise awareness for Alzheimer’s disease.

Starting Nov. 3rd, with Anne Baxter Campbell’s blog post and Sue Badeau’s appearance on blogtalk radio, and finishing on Nov. 25th with Mark Venturini’s blog post, many of the authors in the Helping Hands Press Community will be sharing their personal stories.

Take time to tour the blogs and increase your awareness.

Here is the list:

Nov.3rd-Anne Baxter Campbell- http://pewperspective.blogspot.com/

Nov.4th –Doris Gaines Rapp- http://dorisgainesrapp.blogspot.com/

Nov.5th-Marcia Lee Laycock- http://marcialeelaycock.com/thespur/

Nov. 6th –Ruth L. Snyder- http://ruthlsnyder.com/

Nov. 7th –Sheila Seiler Lagrand- http://sheilalagrand.com/

Nov. 8th –Giovanni Gelati- http://gelatisscoop.blogspot.com/

Nov. 10th –Cindy Noonan- http://www.cindynoonan.com/

Nov. 11th-Sue Badeau- http://suebadeau.webs.com/apps/blog/

Nov. 12th-Peggy Blann Phifer- http://www.whispersinpurple.com/

Nov. 13th-Sandy Sieber- http://pahistorybooks.blogspot.com/

Nov. 13th– Joy Ross Davis- http://joyrossdavis.com/blog/

Nov.14th –Karen Gass- http://www.cottonspice.net/

Nov. 17th –Patti J. Smith- http://gridirongrannyfootballfanatic.blogspot.com/

Nov. 18th-Tracy Krauss- http://www.tracykraussexpressionexpress.com/

Nov.19th –Melanie M. Jeschke- http://melaniejeschke.blogspot.com/

Nov. 20th-Richard L. Allen – http://www.christianwritergroup.com

Nov.21st– Andrea J. Graham- http://www.christsglory.com/

5 Minute Friday

5 Minute Friday: Leave

Leave is a word that has negative connotations for me. I spent the early years of my life as a missionary kid – my parents were missionaries in southern Africa until I was 11. To be a missionary family, you LEAVE many things and people you love to serve God. I came to hate the word, “Goodbye,” because that meant that we were LEAVING again. Leaving friends, leaving familiar places, leaving things I enjoyed.

Now that I’m older, I realize that leaving doesn’t have to be negative. Sometimes we NEED to LEAVE things behind – bad habits, sin, choices that aren’t the best. When we are willing to leave these things behind, it frees us to be the person we should be.

I’m grateful for God’s patience. (And now it’s time for me to leave this exercise, because the timer’s ringing!)

5 Minute Friday is a weekly challenge for bloggers to write for (you guessed it) 5 minutes on a given word. No editing. No deleting (it’s HARD!). If you would like to join me and other amazing 5 minute free writing friends, please visit Kate’s blog and linkup!


New Release: Uplifting Devotionals for Parents

Uplifting Devotionals for Parents Cover

I’m happy to announce that Uplifting Devotionals for Parents is now available as an e-book. Have you ever wanted to resign from parenting? The responsibility is overwhelming some days. Thankfully, we don’t have to parent in our own strength. God walks with us each day, strengthening us, guiding us, and giving us wisdom – if we ask. As you’ll see in these readings, I’m still learning. My prayer is that God will use these devotionals to provide encouragement, help, and joy in your parenting journey.

Here are a few snippets:

  • Some of life’s greatest lessons are taught not by what happens but by how I respond in messy situations.Nurturing walk with God
  • People who parent children with special needs perform a delicate dance each day, taking into account the individual needs of each child while also making sure necessary tasks are accomplished.
  • I need to nurture my own walk with God in order to effectively teach my children to do the same.
  • When we accept God’s free gift of salvation, He provides His presence every day, an eternal home in heaven, perfect love, incredible hope, an advocate, an inheritance out of this world, and an amazing family.
  • When life is tough and parenting is a struggle, we need to choose to love anyway.
  • My top priority as a parent is teaching my children about God and preparing the soil of their hearts to have a personal relationship with Him.
  • Christmas is not about chocolate, or presents, or trees, or anything else. It’s about the King, Jesus Christ.

If you would like free graphics of the above quotes to enjoy personally or share on social media, please send me an email with “Devotional graphics” in the subject line.

Purchase in Canada: Amazon.ca

Purchase in the U.S.A.: Amazon.com

Uplifting Devotional Cover

If you prefer paperback, these devotionals will be included in a devotional bundle written by fellow Canadian authors: Murray Pura, Tracy Krauss, Marcia Lee Laycock, Janice L. Dick, and me. This book is scheduled to be released in the near future.

5 Minute Friday Post – Dare

“Dare to be a Daniel”

“Dare to be different”

“Dare to stand up for what you believe”

“I dare you.”

“How dare you?”

Dare involves some sort of challenge. Risk. Change. Uncertainty.

But with the possibility of fame, big or small. A chance to stand out. To be a leader.

Some dares are public. Like walking across Niagara Falls on a tightrope, pushing a wheelbarrow. Or taking a dare from people who call themselves friends, but really just want to get you in trouble. Or taking a stand for what you believe, even if you know it’s not popular. Like Daniel, who decided he was going to follow God and not eat the fancy food the king was serving. Daniel, who was basically a slave, a captive in a foreign land. Dared. Will I?

5 Minute Friday is a weekly challenge for bloggers to write for (you guessed it) 5 minutes on a given word. No editing. No deleting (it’s HARD!). If you would like to join me and other amazing 5 minute free writing friends, please visit Kate’s blog and linkup!


Psalm 32:8

Watching for guidance and direction

Psalm 32:8

As some of you know, my parents were missionaries during my early years. This meant that we often spent time in other people’s homes with different rules and expectations. My siblings and I knew we were expected to be on our best behaviour at all times. We learned to keep our focus on our Dad. When we were asked a question, or wanted to do something, we would check his eyes. My Dad had an uncanny ability to communicate clearly without saying a word.

I think of those experiences when I read Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”

I’m now much older and away from the direct guidance of my earthly father. Instead, I look to my Heavenly Father for guidance and direction. I have to spend time with Him and pay attention to what He’s showing me to do.

In my work with InScribe, I often feel unqualified to lead. God continues to remind me that He has called me and He will equip me and guide me. This is His organization. He is the one who works in and through the executive and members to proclaim His Word. As we continue to keep our eyes on Him He will continue to counsel us with His loving eyes.

NOTE: I shared this devotional at the beginning of the recent InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship Annual General Meeting.


Canadian Thanksgiving 2014: The blessings of family and Nature

One choice I’ve been consciously making this past year is to find things to thank God for. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, not because of the food, but because it gives me an opportunity to really focus on the many blessings in my life.

This past weekend my husband and I decided to take our children to Three Hills to spend time with my parents and two of my nieces. The week before Thanksgiving was hectic for both of us. In fact, we planned to leave at 1 p.m. and finally made it out of our yard at 4 p.m. However, making the trip was well worth it. Here are some of the blessings enjoyed this weekend.

Rainbow
A rainbow – the first of many wonderful surprises I encountered over the weekend.
Cockatoo
A cockatoo at the Three Hills Guzoo delighted us with its clever sayings
Dandelion gone to seed
Another unexpected delight
Skunk
Holding a skunk? Don’t worry, this one was de-scented 🙂
Sunrise
This beautiful sunrise greeted me when I stepped out of our camper on Sunday morning.
Fall scenery
My dad and I enjoyed the fall scenery by taking a walk
Ruth's parents
We enjoyed conversations, food, singing, and laughter with my parents
Ruth's nieces
Although my sister is in Africa, her two oldest daughters are in Canada. It was good to spend time with them this weekend. We especially enjoyed singing together.
camp fire
What’s camping without a campfire. Yet another delight we were able to enjoy on Thanksgiving weekend.

Finding the part God designed for me

A Best Yes

A few weeks ago we brought home a puppy – Husky and Malamut cross. Olaf has brought joy and laughter to our family. He greets us at the door each morning with boundless enthusiasm and will chase sticks until we’re tired of throwing. He also likes to chase his tail. He spins round and round, but his tail always stays just out of his reach. Then he’ll flop down and relax. Here he is during one of his calmer times 🙂

Our dog, Olaf

Do you ever feel like you’re spinning round and round, chasing something that is just out of your reach? I do. People often comment about how busy I am. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to be busy, but if it’s busyness without focus it gets frustrating after a while.

In the next few months I’m participating in two things to help hone my focus.

1. An online Bible Study using Lysa TerKeurst’s new book, The Best Yes

2. An online course called Audience Business Masterclass from Firepole Marketing

As I make my way through, I’ll share updates about what I’m learning.

What have you been learning lately? I’d love to hear from you.


If God is your partner, make your plans BIG - D.L. Moody

How Big is Your God?

D L Moody Quote

There is a lot to be discouraged about in this world. We don’t have to listen to the news long to hear about wars, violence, destruction, and every sort of evil. Instead of focusing on the negative, today I’m choosing to focus on God. I hope you’re encouraged as you join me in celebrating our God.

Stuart Hamblin captures it well in his song, How Big is God?

Though men may strive to go beyond the reach of space
To crawl beyond the distant shining stars,
This world’s a room so small within my Master’s house
The open sky’s but a portion of his yard.

How big is God, how big and wide is His vast domain
To try to tell these lips can only start,
He’s big enough to rule His mighty universe
Yet small enough to live within my heart.

As winter chill may cause the tiny seed to fall
To lie asleep till waked by summer’s rain;
The heart grown cold will warm and trod with life anew
The Master’s touch will bring the glow again.

How big is God, how big and wide is His vast domain
To try to tell these lips can only start,
He’s big enough to rule His mighty universe
Yet small enough to live within my heart.

Here are some more encouraging quotes:

“Everyone who believes in God at all believes that he knows what you and I are going to do tomorrow.” C.S. Lewis

“THE STATE OF YOUR HEART DICTATES WHETHER YOU HARBOR A GRUDGE OR GIVE GRACE, SEEK SELF-PITY OR SEEK CHRIST, DRINK HUMAN MISERY OR TASTE GOD’S MERCY.” Max Lucado

“What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear. What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.” Joseph Scriven

“ONLY GOD CAN FULLY SATISFY THE HUNGRY HEART OF MAN.” Hugh Black

“Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.” Thomas Jefferson

“THE WORSHIP MOST ACCEPTABLE TO GOD COMES FROM A THANKFUL AND CHEERFUL HEART.” Plutarch c. A.D. 100

“There are three stages in the work of God: impossible, difficult, done.” J. Hudson Taylor

 

Beauty is God's Handwriting