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“Adulting” 101 – Why asking Why is important

“Adulting” 101 – Why asking Why is important

Contributed by
Eduardo Morales

As I get older and evaluate my life, I see that our 20’s has a lot of influence on how the next stages of our lives will be shaped. Why? Because our 20’s bring a lot of transition: High School to College, College to Career and Career and other Career, Singleness to Dating, (then maybe like in my case, single again several times over), then Marriage and quite possibly the Baby Carriage. But this is really a time to learn about you, see the world, experience friendships. These life experiences are some that are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. These are the memories that will turn into the good ol’ days. And truthfully, if we aren’t careful, these years can just fly by, unless we are intentional about setting a vision and living with purpose.

It is so important to have a vision for your life. Without a vision, you might be busy doing things, but you could be busy doing things without a point. The idea is to have a purpose and intention in what you do. So what do you really want to do with your life? Why am I doing what I currently am doing?

These are the questions I have been asking myself in a time of transition. As I am asking and evaluating, I think a good question to ask is “Why?” For most of us, when we were younger, we constantly bugged our parental figures with the questions of why. “Why does this happen?” “Why do you do that?” “Why this?” “Why that?” Yeah, it can get annoying, but I have found that asking ourselves the Why questions, allows us to answer and clearly explain to ourselves, why we are doing what we are doing.

For a few years now, I have been wearing a number of different hats, gaining a lot of great experience. I believe the quickest way to find our sweet spot is wearing different hats and finding out what we like and don’t like. However, it’s in these experiences that you evaluate whether or not this is something you want to continue dedicating yourself to. Knowing where you stand and where you want to go – that’s having a vision. When you have a direction of where you want to go with your life, spiritual walk, your marriage, your career, you can better determine what things you currently do in your life or might come across your path in the future, that will either benefit you or hinder you.

Here are a few practical ideas that can guide you through this vision-setting process.

Look at what you’re passionate about and how you’re wired. When you start to see some common threads in your life or overlapping interests and assess your skills, this might be a good mix of information to help guide you as to what you want to invest your life into in the years ahead. So what are you good at, what are you not-so-good at? What’s your story? Are there positions you continuously find yourself in or others elect you to? Use these questions as guides in developing a vision for yourself.

Take time to breathe.A common question in interviews is where do you see yourself in 5 years? Sometimes we can be so busy plowing in the fields that we lose focus on why we even starting tilling in the first place. It’s important to take time to remind and refocus, or else, it is easy for us to get drained and suffer from burn-out. Even more so, we might find ourselves in a position where we lost the vision.

Write it out! I believe we are more apt to follow through with a goal or an idea when we write it down and keep it visible for us to see. Just like scripture, if we embed it in our hearts, if we meditate on it day and night, it will become a part of us. The reality is that we tend to forget and when we forget we lose focus. Having a visual reminder continues to keep us focused and helps combat our forgetfulness.

Ask yourself the Why’s? Ask yourself (and ask others close to you to ask you), the tough questions. It is not always about looking for the advice or opinion, but allowing mentors, or your core supports, to ask you questions that will get you thinking and seeing things from another perspective. Everyone has an opinion and advice that could be easy to give and easy to find. Plus you can search around until you find someone that fits what you’re looking for and that might not always be the best thing.

When thinking about leaving your mark on your culture, your world, your church, your neighborhood, your family, it starts with a vision. Learning more about you, your skills, your passions should help guide you in understanding your purpose. When you start living on purpose, that breeds confidence, because you’re in your element. Taking time to process this for yourself, in all the areas of life you’re involved in, will help you develop vision. So be like a little toddler for a moment and ask yourself the “Why’s?” I think you’ll find yourself developing a decision-making style that is more visionary than circumstantial.

Do you have a vision and purpose for your life? Share with us your experience in the comments section below.

For more tips on life and relationships, follow us on social media @familybridges.

How to Love Your Partner at their Worst

How to Love Your Partner at their Worst

Contributed by
Dr. Charlie and Elizabeth Woehr

There is an old Western movie starring Clint Eastwood, titled: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Well, we humans can be like that. In fact, within every person, even you and your partner, there is the potential to at one time or another exhibit actions or attitudes that could be classified as good, bad, and even ugly!

It is easy to love a partner who is showing their good side. It is a bit harder to love a partner who is showing their bad side. It is much, much harder to love a partner who is showing their ugly side—at their worst.

To be able to LOVE your partner when they’re at their worst, you must develop, from the beginning of your relationship, a solid foundation. Here are the four elements you must integrate into that foundation, that will prepare you to LOVE in all kinds of situations:

 

L – Laugh often with your partner. Laughter has been called “the best medicine,” and there is a reason for that. Laughing together means sharing fun times, silly times, creating this way memories that will be the glue for when the tempests of trouble hit your relationship, helping to keep things from collapsing around you.

O – Open your hearts to each other; share your inner thoughts and feelings. Talk about the dreams you each have for your relationship. By opening your hearts to each other you are trusting each other with your deeply valuable thoughts and feelings. Being comfortable with each other is a prerequisite to wanting to support each other in those more difficult moments, when things are not as you would like them to be. If you have learned to open your hearts at times of vulnerability, this will create both a desire and need to get closer to your partner in difficult times, which will counter the natural tendency to move away from each other when things get tough.

V – Value the strengths each of you have and learn to expect those to be brought into play when things are not going so well. Is one of you a forgiving person? That will be brought into play when things are not going well. Is one of you a deep thinker? Value the analysis that will bring to reflection about where things have gone wrong. Your strengths will need to be known and brought to bear in difficult times.

E –  Expect to recover from difficult times you will face. Avoid generalizing by thinking to yourself that this “always” happens, or that this “will last a long time” or that “this will never end.” Rather think of positive outcomes and expect that your partner will react and come around, will ask forgiveness, and seek to restore any painful times caused by their worst moments. Expect that when the years go by these difficult moments will have made your relationship stronger. Expect is really to exercise FAITH: believing in the ultimate healing and restoration that will come, after the valley of pain or misunderstanding.

 

Want to love your partner at their worst? Start loving them at their best and put the L.O.V.E to work for you, as you prepare to weather the most challenging storms that inevitably come on the sea of life as a couple. Down the road of life, as you look back on these difficult times, you’ll be very glad you did!

How have you and your partner gotten through tough times in your relationship? Share with us in the comments area below.

For more tips on life and relationships, follow us on social media @familybridges.

My Husband as a Father

My Husband as a Father

Contributed by
Eva Fleming

I don’t know about you but sometimes I observe and reflect about what kind of father my husband is to my children and a sly grin of satisfaction passes through my lips. He is not the fun, energetic dad that tosses his children up in the air or spends time with them in the basketball court. Yet, as I see my children growing and maturing, becoming independent and embracing life, I have to admit this reserved man has done something right. Why else are my children so adaptable, hardworking, responsible, respectful and focused? Is it perhaps, because they have the steady hand of a dad that takes them to karate practice every week, trusts them with big jobs, sets high expectations, and provides the resources for them to succeed? I believe it is.

My husband has been providing for our family physically and financially for almost three decades. But best of all he provides a stable home where love and trust can flourish. I have made the following observations about the type of fathering that goes on under my roof:

  1. My husband’s fatherhood is an expression of masculinity. True masculinity models healthy compassionate relationship behavior. This is good for my boys because they are learning to find their role and place in society by the power of modeling. And it is great for my daughter because the primary way she has learned how men should behave in a healthy relationship has been by watching her father. Most divorce and domestic violence happens to men and women who grew up without a father modeling compassionate relationship behavior (Steve Stosney, Ph.D)
  2. My husband’s role is integral to the wellbeing of our family. I know what the fatherhood research says about fatherhood and the list is long. Check out David Blankenhorn book Fatherless America. He says that, “fatherlessness is the most harmful demographic trend of this generation.” But our family has benefitted from emotionally stable children who exceed in school, don’t exhibit behavioral disorders, and don’t engage in aggressive behaviors all because, I’m sure, there is solid fatherhood happening in our home.
  3. Fatherhood has been good for my husband. The biochemistry and neural activity that kicked into his brain after he became a dad has literally kept him alive and focused. Loving a child and sacrificing personal comfort for their success and well-being has indeed turned my husband from a typical selfish bachelor to a complete selfless human. Perhaps he pushes it to the limit since he still drives a 15-year-old car to make financial sacrifices to benefit his children.

If you ask my kids about their dad, this is the first thing they will tell you: “When I ask dad about something, he goes more in depth than I thought possible. He looks at thing from all the angles, he is really thorough. Which lets me know that he really cares and wants me to make the best decision I can make. He truly has my success in mind.”

In my house my husband is honored for his character which, come to think of it, is the reason my sisters and I honored my own father. He was passionate, principled, forgiving, and compassionate. My husband is honest, responsible, trustworthy, and detailed. What about you or the special father in your house? What character trait are you passing down to your children? Whether you are an active, adventurous, affectionate dad or a reserved, steady, determined dad, society needs you, and so does your family.

While Hollywood’s portrayal of fathers in roles like those of Homer Simpson with his crude, short-tempered, neglectful, clumsy, lazy, heavy drinking, ignorant and idiotic personality may be comical, it’s definitely incomplete and thankfully does not represent the many awesome dads that I know are out there. These days’ fatherhood is on the rise and boy, am I thankful for that!

For more blogs, tips and ideas about life and relationships, follow us @familybridges.

Surprised by Love

Surprised by Love

Contributed by
Bill Ferrell

“I am dead.”

These were the first words that filled my head when I woke up.

Of course, I didn’t think that I was literally dead. I meant that I was in a lot of trouble.

I was a sophomore in high school and the night before I had gone to a movie with my best friend, Don. I drove my parent’s car to the movie. However, Don drove the car home because I couldn’t. I was drunk.

I would like to state for the public record that it was Don’s fault. I would like to say that Don made me get drunk. I would like to say that he threatened to hurt me if I did not match him beer for beer. I would like to say that, but of course that’s not true. I drank freely. That is not to say that the beer was free. In fact, I was the one who paid for it.

When I arrived home, my parents knew exactly what I had been doing. It was the first (and last) time I had consumed that amount of alcohol. Therefore, I was not good at hiding it. The fact that I had gotten sick on the way home, couldn’t stand up, and that someone else was driving their car probably made them suspicious.

In the morning I woke up and immediately felt sick to my stomach. Not from the alcohol, but from knowing that I was in trouble. I laid curled up under the covers, hoping that I had just dreamt the whole thing. But the voices coming from the kitchen brought me into reality. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but I could tell my father was upset. Very upset. I had never heard my father that way. Of course, he had never seen me drunk either. He generally was an even-tempered man. He seldom raised his voice. But that morning his volume was turned all the way up.

And for good reason. I had been irresponsible. I had violated their trust. I had lied to them. His anger was justified. And I felt horrible.

I decided not to delay the inevitable any longer. I slowly opened my bedroom door. Suddenly there was silence. I walked into the kitchen and sat down. I had avoided eye contact until that moment. I looked up, bracing myself to meet a burst of anger along with a speech about being a colossal disappointment. Instead, I was surprised.

With tears in his eyes, my father stood me up, hugged me, and said, “thank God you are safe.”

I realized in that moment his upset was not because I had disobeyed him or broken the law or had done something incredibly stupid. It was because he loved me.

I had been expecting punishment and yet I received grace. I was deserving wrath and yet I received kindness.  

I learned something that day. I learned that no matter what I did, my father would always love me. I learned that his love was not dependent on my obedience to rules, or compliance to his will, or even to common sense.

He loved me. Period.

I have learned over the years that I am deeply loved, as my father loved – and as our Father in Heaven loves.

When we experience that kind of love – we experience life.

P.S. I was grounded from driving the car for 4 weeks. True love also protects. Even if it’s from yourself.

For more blogs, tips and ideas about life and relationships, follow us @familybridges.

It’s not OK

It’s not OK

Contributed by
Sarah Pichardo

If you ever wonder what’s wrong with this world and this generation, just read a Cosmopolitan article, watch an MTV show, or take a look at Snapchat’s featured stories. I came across an article today titled, “I Love Dating My Married Boyfriend”. I kid you not. That’s the actual title…and that’s exactly what the article was about. Please, world, tell me that it’s not just me that sees something devastatingly wrong with that.

Here’s the thing. I know that there is a small percentage of people who think this is perfectly fine and that the rest of you do agree with me and do see something wrong with that.  And that we are just over here like, “For real though? What’s wrong with you?” That’s the bright side of this blog/rant. The not so bright side is that this is what media outlets are shoving down everyone’s throat – ALL THE TIME.

We’re becoming a desensitized people. Because the more you push the boundaries and limits, the more common and acceptable something becomes…the more you have to keep pushing boundaries until there’s nothing left to push.

Nothing is off limits. Everything is acceptable. There is no such thing as right or wrong.

When is enough, enough? I’m a bit saddened and concerned at where our culture will be in 20 years. A place with no moral objectivity.

There is no one who can influence your children more than you. Take advantage of it while you can. Talk to your kids about your beliefs and about what you expect from them. Teach them about right and wrong. Talk to them about relationships, sex, drugs, politics, religion, life. Don’t assume they will learn it on their own. If you don’t talk to them, they will learn things from their friends, from school and from what they read online and see on TV. And don’t just talk to them about it, but show it in your daily actions.

Not everything is OK. And it’s OK to say so.

For more blogs, tips and ideas about life and relationships, follow us @familybridges.

Want to Raise Great Kids?

Want to Raise Great Kids?

Contributed by
Bill Ferrell

Do you want to raise an emotionally deficient child? A child who questions their value and worth? Someone who seeks approval and love from others in unhealthy ways? A child who believes that they must find someone else to “complete them” because on their own they are incomplete?

If you do – you are sick and I would like you to hand your child over to me immediately.

OUR NATURAL PARENTING STYLE

However, I am assuming, that is not the case. Like most parents, you love your child(ren). However, all of us come into parenting unprepared. It is truly an “on-the-job” learning experience. Primarily our own Family Of Origin (FOO) experience informs our parenting paradigm. That can be both healthy and unhealthy. It all depends – and is usually a bit of both.

WE NEED TO BE SELF-AWARE

“That was how I was raised and I turned out alright” is not always the best parenting principle. Maybe your parents did a great job in raising you. Or maybe they were working out of some deficiencies in their own lives (like all of us) and they got some things right and they got some things wrong. That’s called “being human.” There is no value in “parent bashing,” – recounting all the things they did wrong.

However, it is important to know that two imperfect human beings (your parents) couldn’t help but pass on some of their imperfections to you. You can’t escape that. In addition, you probably picked up some imperfections all on your own. I know I did.

The important thing to know is that what we learned from our FOO probably is not enough. We need help. We need to be intentional. We need additional input and resources. We all do. One excellent resource is a book and podcast called The Struggle is Real. They are designed to raise extraordinary kids in the 21st century.

START HERE

This brief blogpost is not enough to cover all the topics necessary in raising healthy children. However, there is one thing you can start doing today that can make a HUGE difference.

Tell your children, “I love you.”

Yes, I have the gift of stating the obvious. However, no matter how obvious this appears, children can’t hear this too much. Adults can’t hear this too much. Of the hundreds of people I have counseled over the years, a reoccurring issue among people in crisis relationships is that they rarely heard “I love you” from their parents.

Now, I am not saying these are magic words that will result in raising perfect children and healing all wounds. Of course not. (That’s why you need resources like The Struggle is Real). Words are not enough. There must be love in action to back them up. However, they are a start. And they can have a HUGE impact.

START TODAY

So today – tell your child, “I love you.” If you don’t have children – tell your parents, your spouse, a friend. We all need to hear it. Feeling loved is foundational to living an extraordinary life.

Let’s give that gift to our children and loved ones!

For more tips and ideas about life and relationships, follow us @familybridges.

A Valentine’s Blog That Won’t Make You Throw Up

A Valentine’s Blog That Won’t Make You Throw Up

Contributed by
Ashley Reed

How many of you have been a victim of Valentine’s Day disappointment? Maybe your crush didn’t leave you a cute note like you hoped they would, or maybe your partner forgot to buy you flowers. Less than two decades ago, if a high school friend got a huge bouquet of roses and jewelry for V-Day, only her and a few people in her circle would know about it. Today with social media, your newsfeed can become a blur of teddy bears, sparkly rings, flowers, and chocolate. Disappointment comes when we don’t receive something that we expect. And misery can come when we watch good things come to everyone else around us while we feel like we have been looked over. Cue the pity party violins.

So, what should we do to avoid the Valentine’s Day blues?

  1. Ask yourself, do you have any expectations for Valentine’s Day? If you are in a relationship, let your partner know if you would like something for Valentine’s Day. It may sound crazy, but there is a high chance that your partner doesn’t even know that V-Day is around the corner – or even that you are expecting something that day! Don’t drop indecipherable hints. If you want flowers, make it crystal clear to your partner that you would really love to get flowers on V-Day. Saying what you want and getting it is better than silently expecting something and feeling crushed when you don’t receive it.
  2. Maybe you have recently had a break up, a divorce, or are mourning the loss of a loved one. The commercials and hype for Valentine’s Day might make you feel queasy or angry. In that case, I would recommend staying away from your social media feed and investing in self-care or family time.
  3. Now for all of the single ladies and guys. Being single can be annoying on Valentine’s Day. Posting memes about the hype of Valentine’s Day can lead to the inevitable comment: “well someone is bitter/alone/going to die a spinster with 80 cats.” And having the spotlight of pity on you isn’t fun either – how many of you have heard “don’t worry, the right woman/man will come along eventually”, or even better, “how are you still single? You are so pretty/handsome/intelligent/witty/fill in the blank.” For this scenario I recommend the same medicine from point #2 – self-care and family time.

Valentine’s Day is commercialized and hyped up to the point that it sparks mixed emotions of fear, dread, anticipation, or high expectations for many people. But maybe, if we shifted the focus on that day from what we receive to what we give others (a listening ear, a shared meal, simple time spent together), we could make it a much happier and well-anticipated day for all parties involved.

A Groom’s Journey to the Altar

A Groom’s Journey to the Altar

Contributed by
Eddie Morales

They say that when girls are little they dream about their wedding as one of the biggest days of their life. Little boys, on the other hand, don’t even want to be around girls when they are little because girls have cooties! I guess as little boys turn into young men, they start to think more about marriage, family and their future lives. I won’t say that I have had an obsession to get married, but I knew that I definitely wanted to get married and have a family one day. I knew that I wanted to do things a bit differently than what I had seen from my parents. Having experienced divorce within our family, and myself, having gone through a hard breakup after a long-term relationship came to an end, I drew the line in the sand. I made sure that if I was to consider marriage, I wanted to do everything in my power to prepare and learn so that I could be the best possible husband and father I could be. Five years ago, I made that commitment to myself and my future wife (even before I knew her!) Maybe by this point you’re thinking, well you’re not like every other guy. While that may be true, I didn’t want to end up as another statistic, adding to the increasing number of broken families and marriages that exist within our country. I wanted to be different and this would require me to think and do things different from the norm.  So here I am ladies and gentlemen, in the midst of preparing for my wedding. As you will see, I am really involved in the process, because it’s not just my future wife’s day, it’s our day. We are celebrating our marriage and our lives coming together. I want to be involved because while a wedding may last a day, or really a few hours, a marriage will last a lifetime!

On November 4th we got engaged. We are roughly 3 months into the engagement and 9 months away from the wedding date. The process so far has been relatively smooth. Since our engagement we have already booked a venue, caterer, photographer, picked out our color scheme, and nailed down a primary guest list. Maybe you are thinking, hey you’re moving quick on this. I think we are moving very intentionally because our situation is a bit unique. For starters, my fiancée and I live in different states. So we have to be really intentional about doing as much as we can when we have the time. But as we started the first two things on my mind were, we need to develop the budget and we need to figure out where we were going for our honey-moon. Just kidding, it was figuring out a budget and how long did I have to wait until we went on our honeymoon. : )

I have developed a healthy understanding for finances and during my single days I was able to eliminate all of my debt. I wanted to make sure that as we entered into marriage we took a healthy approach to finances. So before we had a date set, we locked down a budget. When you know the end line, you can work your way backwards. My fiancée and I talked about it and what our non-negotiables were. Again, we are planning for a day, an awesome celebration of unity, holy matrimony, I wanted to make sure that we would be able to celebrate this moment for years to come and not be strapped down financially just for a few hours. Things add up quick! It helps to have some essential things in place. In other words, I want to stay within our means and not go into debt from this event.

It’s funny, I don’t think that I have been on Pinterest or Etsy more in my life than now. Looking at rings, rustic wedding ideas, seeing what things I can attempt to make. We have been looking at as many resources as we can to help us with the planning; asking friends, reading blogs and books. So far, one of our biggest challenges we are facing is the guest list. What’s the proper etiquette? Kids or no kids? Co-workers, close friends, just family, second cousin once removed, who makes the cut? This has been really difficult in light of the budget. It’s helpful that we both have smaller families. Again, with our unique situation, for my side of the family this will be like a destination wedding. (Remember we live in different states.) For her, all of her friends and relatives already live in Florida. This has yet to be solidified, but we are doing our best to keep it as intimate as possible, but it is really hard. There’s a lot of people who have been a part of our lives, especially at different stages, that we would like to have them there to celebrate with us.  The process continues.

And in the midst of all of this, I’m doing my best to enjoy this time. This will be the only time that I get to enjoy this engagement season. I’m also doing my best to get ripped, or wedding fit! I’m being just being honest here. I know that I have a wedding coming up. I want to look good for my wife. Remember my two biggest concerns are budget and honeymoon! Until next time…

To follow my journey or to read more blogs about the different stages of marriage visit familybridgesusa.com and follow us on social media @familybridges with #whymarriage.