Family Matters Fun Fam Friday!

The wedding singer often has to settle for the chapel vs. the headliner’s arena. Perhaps getting creative might be critical to keeping their dream of fame one day. Here’s another funny from Tim Hawkins on the topic of wedding music – and how it might go badly off track. Find it here: Inappropriate Wedding Songs

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Deb DeArmond is an expert in the fields of communication, relationship and conflict resolution. A writer and popular professional speaker, Deb focuses on topics related to the family and women. Kregel Publications released her first book in November 2013 entitled, Related by Chance, Family by Choice. Abingdon Press published I Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last in June 2015 and Don’t Go to Bed Angry: Stay Up and Fight in June 2016. Read Deb at Family Matters/Deb DeArmond and My Purpose Now.

Find Deb’s books at Amazon   ChristianBooks.com   Lifeway Stores and Independent Christian Bookstores.

Genuine Article – or Cheap Knock Off?


The month of January is connected to new beginnings, resolutions to do better, do more, do less, or do something different than you’ve done in the past. Social media hollers: “Make this your best year ever!” That’s a lot of pressure. But according to the ads I see, dramatic weight loss, toned abs, career boosting greatness, and world peace apparently are waiting.

I saw this quote recently: “Someone busier than you is making it happen!” It’s a frantic reminder I’m falling behind on my to-do list; someone is beating me to it! As though it (whatever it may be) is in limited supply and only the first 25 on-the-ball doers can snatch the prize. It’s not true.

The pressure is magnified by Facebook. You’ve seen the posts: “I signed up for three online courses guaranteed to advance my career. That promotion is locked in!” Or “I did XXX at the gym today. Totally pumped!” I’m so far out of the gym loop, I don’t even know what the XXX would be.

Please don’t misunderstand. I believe progress toward goals are worth the time, and when you move forward, you deserve to celebrate. I’m a to-do list girl. I love checking off the boxes. But are they the right boxes?

Interestingly, January is also official “National Be on Purpose Month.” I don’t think there’s a parade or a pageant, but it’s a thing. Please note the wording in the official title: “be” not “do.”

Why is that significant? Because as His children, who God called us to be is more important than anything we could ever do without clarity on that single point.

Who has He called you to be? It’s about identity. We’re hearing a lot about it these days, but what is it?

The Oxford Dictionary describes identity as: The fact of being who or what a person is.” Another from Merriam Webster is helpful: “The qualities, beliefs, etc., that make a particular person or group differ from others.”

Identity theft is common these days, and I’m not talking about someone hijacking your debit card PIN. The Fallen One is all about stealing what the Lord has given us. (John 10:10). If he can talk us out of who God designed us to be, we may adopt an identity and work to invent ourselves. And often, we do it as an imitation of someone we admire. So instead of living as the genuine article, the one and only you, we become a cheap knock off of someone else.

Author Ken Boa is on target: “Scripture clearly teaches that we were never meant to be autonomous individuals who make our own way in this world apart from God. We cannot even know ourselves without knowing the One through whom and for whom we were created.”

God’s imprint for us is unique. He knew us before He formed us in our mother’s womb and set us apart. (Jeremiah 1:5). And deep in our spirit, we know that’s true. Even when we’ve achieved the success and accolades we’ve worked so hard for, we’re often surprised at the emptiness we experience at the finish line. Authentic identity is powerful, releasing freedom that can’t be duplicated.

We need to protect ourselves against identity theft. He created, crafted, designed, and fashioned each of us, calling us on purpose for a (particular) purpose. I struggle less with this now than ever before, but it’s a daily vigil. And Holy Spirit is invited to tap on my heart when I stray. I keep Him busy some days.

Are you becoming His genuine article? Or are you busy doing good things?

“For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), created in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].” Ephesians 2:10 (AMP)

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Deb DeArmond is an expert in the fields of communication, relationship and conflict resolution. A writer and popular professional speaker, Deb focuses on topics related to the family and women. Kregel Publications released her first book in November 2013 entitled, Related by Chance, Family by Choice. Abingdon Press published I Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last in June 2015 and Don’t Go to Bed Angry: Stay Up and Fight in June 2016. Read Deb at Family Matters/Deb DeArmond and My Purpose Now.

Find Deb’s books at Amazon   ChristianBooks.com   Lifeway Stores and Independent Christian Bookstores.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Power Up!

By Deb DeArmond

“I wish I had a picture of my mom, “the young man said. “You look just like her.”

Sounds nice, yes? Fail.

Just five minutes earlier I learned that he was the baby in the family, the last of nine children—and that his mother just celebrated her 83rd birthday.

“She wears her hair just like yours. And I think she even has those same shoes.”

He smiled at me. I smiled back. It kept me from bursting into tears or screaming hysterically or something else inappropriate for the moment. It was a business setting and those types of outbursts are generally frowned on, you know.

Truthfully, I’m certain I am old enough to be his mother. But I’d have been a lot happier to hear she’d been a teen mom, now still very much a youthful, with-it kind of gal. Not someone 83.

So what to do with his observation . . .?

For starters, I’m getting my hair cut today and may consider refreshing my highlights. And those shoes gotta go. I’m sure that some senior citizen will consider them quite a find at Salvation Army.

In all fairness, our conversation did nothing more than remind me, once again: the sand in the hourglass is shifting. If someone said to me today, “You’re only as old as you feel,” I’d smack him. Life has been both exhilarating and demanding of late. Exhilaration can be demanding. It can also be a carnival ride: bright and colorful, while moving very fast, and right up until the moment you think you might lose your lunch—it’s fun.

And it all requires energy, which has been in short supply lately.

This morning, I recognized my power pack light was blinking. I’ve failed to plug into the source—His power consistently of late. It hit me yesterday on an airplane as I listened to Natalie Grant on my headphones singing “Your Great Name,” and couldn’t keep the tears from streaming down my face right there in seat 3B.

 “All the weak find their strength at the sound of your great name.”

It was a moment. Just ask the lady in 3C.

It’s not that I forget I need time in His presence, drinking Him in. But of all the things that pull on me, demanding my time and attention – He is the kindest and gentlest of them all. He doesn’t push His way to the front, knocking my world off its axis to get my attention, but waits with expectancy, believing this daughter who has been given so much – redemption, new life, and unbelievable favor – will appear and sit at His feet. That He waits while I wade through other stuff is a level of love I don’t understand.

“God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being,” Acts 17:270-28a.

God’s plan for my life at this time of my life is ambitious to say the least. He set me on a path I never saw coming and I’m running to catch up with it all daily. I love the path. But I love Him more and I have no illusions about whose power is required for the race.

The enemy would like me to believe there’s a prescribed number of minutes each day required for the recharge I need. Not true. It’s a minute by minute presence with God, talking to Him throughout the day and listening intently for the direction of His Spirit that empowers. It’s an embedded awareness of the living Word in everything I touch. It’s also time to simply sit at His feet and recognize the majesty of our great God.

I’ve been trying to live and move and have my being under my own strength, my own power these last few weeks. It’s embarrassingly insufficient for what He’s called me to. Especially since I’m at the age where I’m reminding folks of their 83-year-old mother.

God has no intention of letting me off the hook for what He’s called me to. His word is clear that He never changes His mind about His plans for us: “For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn,” Romans 11:29 (NLT). Since that’s the case, I’d better change my mind and my practices to include a constant recharge.

I’m back on track. That young man did me a favor.

But I’m still getting rid of those shoes.

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Deb DeArmond is an expert in the fields of communication, relationship and conflict resolution. A writer and popular professional speaker, Deb focuses on topics related to the family and women. Kregel Publications released her first book in November 2013 entitled, Related by Chance, Family by Choice. Abingdon Press published I Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last in June 2015 and Don’t Go to Bed Angry: Stay Up and Fight in June 2016. Read Deb at Family Matters/Deb DeArmond and My Purpose Now.

Find Deb’s books at Amazon   ChristianBooks.com   Lifeway Stores and Independent Christian Bookstores.

 

Your 2018 Plan: Is God Laughing?

By Deb DeArmond

 

Oh, this will be fun!

“Complete the jigsaw puzzle found in your backpack. You have one hour for this task.”

It was the next assignment in a long list of to-do’s. The retreat organizers clearly understood that we needed a break at this point from the intense journaling, prayer assignments, and scripture reading. A full day, alone in the great outdoors originally sounded onerous, but I had enjoyed it – most of it. And now, a puzzle. Fabulous.

I was surprised when I pulled the plain box from the backpack assigned to me. No picture. No clues to what we were creating. Okay. A mystery puzzle. Tough, but intriguing.

I sorted the straight-edged and corner pieces and completed most of the frame. 17 minutes already gone. That surprised me. Gotta move. I began to sort by color, but found few pieces that fit together. Did I mention the pieces were small? Tiny, almost.

I did manage a few multi-piece blobs, but couldn’t fit them into anything already assembled. 32 minutes. Ugh. This is impossible. Nobody could make sense of this. But I kept at it. It looked like a flamingo and a barn might be part of the landscape, but that made no sense. Maybe it’s not a bird, but a Vegas showgirl’s headdress. Not that that’s more feasible.

At the 48-minute mark, I switched my thinking about the clock: Oh, good. Only 12 more minutes of torture till I’m done. I eyed the river and thought about tossing the whole thing in the water. But how would I explain that?

When the alarm on my watch rang, I gratefully slid the pieces into the box, and turned to the journal page I was directed to once the puzzle was complete where I found the following instructions: “Take a moment to ask God the following question and record the response in the space provided:

“What is God teaching me through this activity?”

I had many immediate thoughts (meaning before prayer):

  • Who in their right mind could miss this box with no picture??
  • That’s a lesson in frustration.
  • Thank God that’s over!
  • It’s just a lesson about patience or something!

 Oh. That last one tagged me. I’ve often joked that when gifts were handed out in heaven I thought they said patients, and decided to pass. Let’s say it’s not my gift. I’m working on it.

And then God’s Spirit prompted me to do as requested. I prayed and asked the question: God what are you teaching me through this activity?

 His answer knocked me for a loop: “Trust. I’m teaching you about trust.”

I was stunned. I do trust you, Father! I’ve trusted you for my salvation, my family, my finances – everything.

Then clearly, I heard, “I can’t trust you.”

I felt like I’d been punched. Hard.

And then He gently showed me all the times I had what I believed were all the pieces of a picture God wanted me to complete in my life. Ministry. Career. Kids. Marriage. Finances. And because I felt equipped, I ran ahead of Him, rather than seeking Him for each step along the way. It was almost as if I was saying, “I got this God. Go help someone who needs your direction.”

Tears came quickly. He couldn’t trust me with the full picture because I’d take off without him, running at my own pace, on the course of my choice. Self-reliance at its worst. Confident, but often, wrong.

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He brought this experience to me this morning, as I reviewed my goals for 2018 in my beautiful new planner. I love the process of a new year stretching before me on paper and dreaming of the possibilities. I’m a bit of a planner wonk.

I was putting the finishing touches on the goals when God reminded me of this experience. How much time had I spent in prayer before I recorded these plans? Not enough. Thank goodness for erasable ink.

There is an old Yiddish saying, “Man plans and God laughs.” Kind of harsh, right? I think of Him in the heavenlies clucking His tongue and shaking His head at our self-determined, but poorly informed path. But it’s Biblical: it’s based in part on Proverbs 16:9 that says, “People may make plans in their minds, but the Lord decides what they will do,”(CSB).

As I said. I’m (still) working on it. What about you? You may know where He wants you to go, what He wants you to focus on – but do you know His plan for getting you there safe and successful?  My prayer for 2018 is simple:

I will trust you, Father. Hand the pieces to me one at a time until I develop the ability to rely solely on You. I will seek your face for each and every step, and pray it becomes my supernatural instinct – to occur even when I’m not aware of it. Let it become my new normal in 2018.

Sound familiar? I’d welcome your company on the journey – and your comments along the way!

 

 

 

 

Curing the Holiday Hiccups

by Deb DeArmond

“Aren’t you just devastated?” my colleague moaned.

“No, not really. I mean, we will certainly miss them,” I replied. “But they are clear that California is where God is taking them. I want them to be where He wants them to be. It was such a gift to have them here for two years.”

I told her about a dinner, hosted by my hubby and I — a gathering for a few family members recently. The purpose of the event was to share a meal and bid farewell to my oldest son and his wife as they prepared to relocate back to the west coast. They were set to leave the next morning.

“Oh, that would just be impossible to think about,” she said, shaking her head. “I couldn’t stand to lose my boys.”

Her declaration of “losing her boys” made me smile. Her sons are in elementary school. I can clearly understand her feelings, even if I don’t share them. But I did at one time . . .

My boys are all grown up with careers, with families of their own – adults. It took some getting used to – that awareness that mom and dad are not the central force in their lives. But we did get used to it—and we appreciate God’s clarity about the concept of leaving and cleaving. “Train up a child in the way he should go . . .” the Word says. Most importantly, Mama, remember they are to GO.

With the holidays approaching quickly, I want to encourage you to remember that God set them apart to stand with their spouses. That can become an issue and a bone of contention when it comes to holiday celebrations. Here are a couple of tips to make the season far more enjoyable for everyone:

  • Communicate early. Make sure you discuss what everyone’s plans or intentions are for celebrating the holiday. Make no assumptions, as it may lead to disappointment for you and them.

 

  • Be flexible as to what and when and where and how – and you may be surprised with the best day ever! Traditions are great, but if they no longer work, create some new ones.

 

  • Be fair. You don’t get to have them 100% of the time. They have in-laws, friends, and may decide that this year is not your year. Don’t pout or punish them. Make your own plans and prepare for a lovely time.

 

  • Celebrate their independence.  It’s a sign you did a great job of prepping them for adulthood. This is what is supposed to happen, and because it did, you can rejoice.

 

So, don’t hold so tightly to those adult kids that they want to squirm free of your grip. Make this holiday season one of the best celebrations ever.

Check out additional tips in my book on in-law relationships, which can be a holiday challenge: Related by Chance, Family by Choice at http://bit.ly/RelatedByChanceFamilyByChoice

 

ECRS: Early Conflict Response System!

I’m often asked about the book, Don’t Go to Bed Angry. Stay Up and Fight, which I co-authored with my husband, Ron. It released a year ago this week. People are interested— was it hard to collaborate with your spouse? What they really want to know is: “Did you fight while writing it?” It’s a fair question.

Having written two books on my own, this was an entirely different process. As co-authors, our goal was to collaborate. Meaning we had to find common ground as we created the content. Did I mention the topic was marital conflict?

We knew it might be a challenge. The process of talking about conflict had the potential to create conflict. So we developed a process – a plan – to move forward as a unit. It worked, and we delivered the book to the publisher on time. Hurray! High five!

Once the book was released, I had a moment when it hit me: we’d be interviewed together. Radio. Television. Print. When I was a solo flyer, I knew where I wanted the discussion to go, how to get there, and what to say. But, as much as I love this man, managing him—and what he says or does—has not been successful. No doubt, I’ve tried (and still occasionally try), but my record is dismal. He’s experienced similar results when the table is turned. We’re independent, strong willed – and completely committed to one another. It makes an interesting life.

I thought through all the possibilities, all the potential interview disasters that might await us. Stepping on one another’s comments, interrupting one another, and heaven forbid, correcting or disputing what the other said. I did mention the topic was marital conflict, right?

Once again, we created a plan: we assigned topics each would cover and defer to that assignee so we weren’t stepping on toes. The first few interviews were a little bumpy, but overall, went surprisingly well. We also created a sign – our own personal code that signaled, “I’d like to take that question,” or “you’re running on too long with your answer.” A simple knee bump. Hopefully under the table, unseen by the interviewer.

It worked. So, okay, occasionally I ignored a knee bump. Or he did. Or worse, the bump gave way to a look and a tighter than comfortable squeeze of the hand. But all in all – it worked and we enjoyed the process far more than we ever imagined.

It’s affirming to hear from couples who have found the book helpful. Some learned new ways to deal with old issues. Others, identified new strategies to be proactive, so that when conflict hunted them down, they can respond, not react.

A plan can help you prepare for success. It’s important in so many of life’s opportunities: getting married, having a baby, or buying a home. A plan provides a path forward when conflict comes calling.

What are the areas in your relationships that can create conflict? How might you be able to plan and prepare for a smoother, if not seamless, process when it comes knocking? Here are a couple of tips to get you started.

  • Identify the potential stress inducers. What’s your track record for winging it? How’d that work out? Typical pressure point areas include money, sex, the in-laws, and childrearing. There are many more, but those are the Big Four. If these topics produce conflict, acknowledge it. At what point does it go south? Once you’ve figured out where you got off a peaceful path, stop next time you get there. Ask yourself, “how can we work together on this?”

 

  • Ask, don’t tell. Use open ended questions to explore options, possibilities, and solutions. “What’s the best way to approach this?” or “How can we make this work that works for both of us?” Open-ended questions can lead to new and creative ways to deal with old problems.

 

  • Take a time out. It’s not just for temperamental toddlers. When you realize the heat is rising, take a break before it escalates. A simple, “I need to step away for 15 minutes,” can slow a discussion that’s spiraling into non-productive—or damaging—territory. Take time to gather your thoughts, and manage your emotions so they don’t end up managing you.

A conflict response plan can provide a path to peace. Give it a shot—what’ve you got to lose?

Find the book here: http://amzn.to/1ULkaJT

Family Matters Fun Friday!!

More Weird ThingsThe list of things couples fight about is expansive – and it can be expensive. It can cost us peace, connection, and intimacy.

But today, it’s not about you and me. It’s a chance to peak in on the universal topics that turn us topsy turvy. Marital conflict happens in every marriage. The secret is to remember not to make the little things the big things – no matter how big they seem in the moment.

So take a look here at More Weird Things All Couples Fight About.

Find our new book on making your marital conflict work FOR you instead of against you:Don’t Go to Bed Angry

Family Matters Fun Friday!!

Happy Wife Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 12.00.53 PMHappy wife, happy life. I’m not sure who coined that phrase, but probably somebody who learned it the hard way. Comedian Jeff Allen has made it the crown jewel in his stand up act for years. I guess you can say it’s stood the test of time.

Jeff touches on a touchy subject in a funny way. But candidly, who runs the table at your house? Is your spouse the boss? Or do you have the final word? Marriage works best as a partnership, with each partner having a voice. If one of you has become a silent partner, it’s an issue.

But for now, take a moment to get Jeff’s take on the topic. It’s gonna be fun. I promise.

Watch it here: Happy Wife Happy Life

Find our new book on making your marital conflict work FOR you instead of against you:Don’t Go to Bed Angry

Family Matters Fun Friday!!

Tim Hawkins is a terrific talent – a Christian comedian that never fails to make me laugh. Often – at myself. He seems to have an Tim Hawkins 2 Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 11.57.53 AMuncanny eye into the relationships between us married folks. After all, he is one.

And he is dead on in his observations. I’m just grateful my husband doesn’t make HIS living as a stand up comic. Lord knows – I’d be fodder for that act!

Laugh along today on Fun Friday! Find it here: Study Your Wife

Find our new book on making your marital conflict work FOR you instead of against you:Don’t Go to Bed Angry