Three Ways to Fight

My husband John has been in the leadership boxing ring with a maddening challenge for the past couple years.

I’m on the sidelines, literally jumping up and down, shadow-boxing in our kitchen and yelling “Go to the mattresses!” when he reports the latest crazy atrocities at the end of a day.Unknown

I’m a DO-er!!  I want to take out an Uzzi and FIX this now!  Ok, as a Jesus-follower that might not be the best plan, but for the love of justice!!!

Trying to ratchet back the passion and put on the mantel of patience John seems to wear so easily, I’ve been reflecting on the different responses to THE ROCK AND A HARD PLACE LEADERSHIP CHALLENGES I see in Scripture.  Here are three I’ve come up with: Continue reading

6 Things I’m Learning About Handling Criticism

In our relationship John and I often say that the emotional trajectory of my typical day looks like this:roller-coaster-ftr

And John’s emotional trajectory looks like this:IMG_0532

So when a young woman I mentor asked if she could come over and talk to us about how John has navigated the crises and criticism of leadership with a “non-anxious presence” and how I have achieved the victory of not, you know…killing, any of those critics, we said, “of course!”

John’s temperament just naturally sets him up better for criticism, but he also has a lot of wisdom to share and I have a lot to learn.  Our conversation made me reflect on some of the lessons I’ve learned  I am trying to learn about dealing with criticism.

Here are a few: Continue reading

Can This Marriage Be Saved?

First of all, a huge “Thank you!” to all of you who took the time to fill out the survey this week!  I really appreciate it and look forward to learning more about you and how I can improve.  Today’s title implies that the post is just about marriage, but I think every living being deals with this issue…

On July 30th, husband John and I will be celebrating our 31st anniversary.  That’s a long time.  Longer than the Internet or Chicken McNuggets have been around.  A lot longer than Kim Kardashian’s three marriages put together.  A. Long.

He puts up with me waking him in the middle of the night to talk about “things”, and I try to take his unusual compliments in the spirit they are given. Like when he says I look autumnal, or compares me to yogurt, or says being with me is as good as being alone.  What can I say?  Our marriage works.

However, like in any healthy relationship between two beloved riff-raffs, we still have issues.  Well, one issue.  One very specific issue. Continue reading

The Simpsons, the Cleavers, the Holidays, and the Bible

John likes to say he grew up in the Simpson family and I grew up in the Cleaver family.  For those of you born before this century that’s the Leave-it-to-Beaver-all-american-solve-the-oh-so-dramatic-problem-of-someone-telling-a-white-lie-in-30-minutes-and-live-happily-ever-after-TV-family-of-the-1960’s.DSC00619

I share that only because we’re coming up on Thanksgiving and Christmas and every holiday that involves families gathering together.

Some of us have dreams that look like this:


But reality can often look like this:


And as wonderful as my family is, and as much as I’d like to think they’re perfect, I’m resigned to face the truth that there is no such thing as a fully functional family.  We live in a broken world and we’re a broken people – dysfunctional in some way, every one of us.

Continue reading

When a “Good” Fight Goes “Bad”

The other day I wrote about “good” fights.  The times when somehow, against all odds, and all our emotion, and in spite of our bent towards holding grudges, with God’s help, we address conflict and come out on the other side…Maybe more whole.  More compassionate.  With a better understanding of grace.  With a little clearer picture of redemption.

I outlined some steps that have been helpful to me, but…”1,2,3 steps” are always dangerous.  I really wish we lived in a “1,2,3 voila!” world, but we don’t.

What about when a “good fight” goes bad?  

Many years ago when I was first learning about what Jesus would ask of me regarding conflict I had a situation with a neighbor friend involving our kids.  I really, truly felt I had gone through each of the steps to handle our disagreement in a healthy way.

I prayed like crazy!  I examined my heart and thought I owned my part!  I was calm for Pete’s sake!!    I was warmly assertive and humble, darn it!

We sat at my kitchen table and you know how she responded? Continue reading

Good Fights

I think I had a pretty good fight recently.  Not great, but it was progress.  Let me backtrack.

Someone did something that made me, well… furious!


I grew up in a home where there was very little conflict, and when there was, we ignored it.

You know, like a kid who thinks if he closes his eyes no one will see him.  So conflict’s not really been my thing.  It’s had to be a growing edge for me as an adult.

And I’ve done it wrong. A. Lot.

When someone said something thoughtless, or did something mean, or (gasp!) was controlling or dismissive or disagreed with me…

I’ve done the angry email thing and the passive-aggressive thing, and the withdraw and punish thing…

See, I told you I was bad at this!

But the other day, once I settled down, I experienced a tiny (and I mean tiny) victory.  Continue reading

One of the Hardest Verses in the Bible and Why it’s Important

John said, “I think you need to do a Matthew 18:15.”

No, no, NO!  Anything but that!  Not that Uncomfortable Thing.  Not that Truth-Telling thing.  Not admitting that someone has the power to actually ding me.

“If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again.” Mt. 18:15, 16 MSG


Those are some of the sentences I’d like to cut out of my Bible.

Continue reading

Two Words Preventing Peace

The other day I was wrestling (and by that I mean full body Hulk Hogan throw-down wrestling) with the tangled Christmas lights outside by the prickly pokey evergreens in front of our house.  My hands numb, my nose drippy.

And under my frosty breath I muttered “He never helps with this.  If any decorating is going to get done it has to be me.  Always me doing all the work to make us Christmas-ready.”

I know.  My problems are so real!

Continue reading

Squirrels and World Peace

This was a text exchange between daughters Katy and Maggie last week:

Ahhh…So many questions!

It was a timely reminder our family’s issues with squirrels and how God may want to use this to prepare me for an upcoming trip to the Middle East with a group of women pursuing peace.  Here’s an edited version of some thoughts I posted last year…

Continue reading

How to have a Hard Conversation

Tomorrow I am meeting with a friend for coffee.  I’ve been praying like crazy because I love this person and it’s because I love them that I’m anxious about our conversation.

I have some concerns.  I’ve noticed some things that I feel like God may want me to caution this person about.  But I have nothing to gain personally, and everything to lose relationally.  And…I may be wrong.

Like many of you I’m pretty much a people-pleaser.  I avoid saying hard things almost as much as I avoided hopping on the Yoga band-wagon.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about the Jesus way of hard conversations.  As I’ve prayed and looked for examples in Scripture, here are a few questions I’ve asked myself:

1.  Do I have enough of a relationship with this person to have this kind of conversation?  Have I built trust?  Do they know more than anything else that I love them and am for them?

2.  Are they open to letting me speak into their life in this way?  Am I assuming a role that I shouldn’t? Or is this a Nathan situation (2 Samuel 12:1)?

3.  Am I going into this conversation prayed up and having examined my heart for messy motives?  Is my desire to speak rooted in pride or control?

4.  If this really is a case of iron sharpening iron, am I open to the roles being reversed?  Am I receptive to hearing something from this friend that might be hard for me to hear?

5.  Am I going in with a humble spirit, asking questions more than making pronouncements, willing to listen and admit I may not be seeing things clearly?

6.  People hear criticism like you’re using a bull horn and affirmation like you’re whispering it in the middle of a violent wind storm.  Have I figured out how to integrate grace and affirmation throughout our conversation?  And if there was just one concern I’d want to make sure this person heard, what would it be?

The title of this post was misleading.  There’s no magic formula and if there is, I don’t know it.  I’m just a learner who is stuttering her way through – all Colin Firth in “The King’s Speech”.  Anyone can make a list of questions.  But a real conversation??  “Come Holy Spirit” is about all I know to say for sure.

What am I missing?  What would you add?