Revelation & Prayer Journaling – AMAZING!

Revelation & Prayer Journaling

The three pillars of my Whole-Hearted Woman coaching program are to love ourselves, love God and love others. Learning to love any of these people takes determination and focus, but I think it’s harder to love ourselves on a consistent basis than it is to love God or others. 

I am always vulnerable to my own harsh judgments. 

One of the ways that I have learned to love myself is by committing to a morning devotional time that strengthens my spirit, my body and my emotional & mental health. 

As part of this practice that strengthens my spirit and my love for self, I spend some time doing what I call “Revelation & Prayer Journaling”. Each morning that I take the time to do this, I leave feeling spiritually uplifted and renewed. Because I am so thankful for all of you who read my emails, especially when you reach out and let me know they are helping you, I want to share my Revelation & Prayer Journaling page template and instructions with you. 

Enjoy!

Barbed Wire Boundaries

Barbed Wire

When I visited the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City a while ago, I was fascinated by the barbed wire exhibit. There were 1,000’s of different varieties of barbed wire!

Likewise, I was fascinated to find a much smaller barbed wire exhibit at the Museum of Idaho last week.  The exhibit displayed barbed wire styles that were unique to each rancher. When you saw a certain style of barbed wire you knew who’s property you were on. This made me curious to know if my family had their own style of barbed wire, a question that there is probably no one left to answer… 

It turns out that barbed wire forever changed the way that ranchers kept beef cattle in the American West. Previous to barbed wire, there was no cost-effective way to confine cattle, so they mostly roamed free on the open range. Once barbed wire was invented, cattle were fenced in and ranchers could increase their herds without the fear of losing cattle to cliffs, to bad grazing plants and mixing with other herds.

I loved looking at all the types of barbed wire. But, it made me think about the function played by the barbed wire.  It set boundaries, to keep cattle in and predators and rustlers out. 

We each have our own variety of figurative “barbed wire” for our personal boundaries. Healthy boundaries are a way to define who we are as individuals and what we will and will not hold ourselves responsible for. Learning to create healthy boundaries is an important part of our self-care. 

But, just as barbed wire keeps cattle in, it also keeps unwanted critters or people out.  It’s this aspect that I wanted to talk about today. As mothers of adult children, it’s so easy to think of our children as an extension of us.  Sometimes we forget the plan is for training them to manage their own lives, separate from us.  As they grow in abilities, our children need to develop healthy boundaries to be able to live their own lives without interference from their parents.

This can be frightening for us parents, since we love our children and want to stay close and protect them. We may not recognize our children’s “barbed wire boundary” and attempt to break through it, by offering helpful observations or advice.  Or in the case of mixed-faith families, helpful reminders of the religious teachings that you taught them to make their life “better”.

Our rationale is that we only want what’s best for our child, and that we have more life experience, and we are only trying to be helpful.

I saw a related rule of thumb on Twitter the other day:

“Unsolicited advice is criticism, always”.

I agree with this, although I don’t always practice what I preach. I do have a habit of doling out unsolicited advice to my adult kids and then having to apologize when/if I recognize I’ve overstepped their boundaries.

If you feel like you have been caught in barbed wire in your relationship with your adult child, you might ask yourself if you are trying to break down a boundary they have established to create independence from you?  Is there a better way for you to have a relationship with your adult child? 

If you need help answering these questions, coaching might be a great fit for you. One of the things we learn about is creating boundaries for ourselves, but also recognizing the boundaries our kids and others have set for us.

If you would like to discuss your situation, select a convenient time and we can Just Talk. 

Venn Diagrams??

Venn Diagram

Lately I’ve become obsessed with Venn diagrams!  Ya, I know, weird…

You know those overlapping circles we learned about in elementary school that helped us determine what two separate things had in common?

I can’t stop looking at the interrelationships.

One Venn diagram that I have been looking at a lot lately is one of myself and my husband, Lee. I started paying attention to it to see if we had the Goldilocks principle down – were we overlapping too much, not enough or just right?

What I ended up discovering is our “before” and “after” snapshot of when Lee left the church. 

You know how you create before and after images in your mind of a “better” time as compared to now? Sometimes I think about sitting in church, holding hands with Lee and I really long for that.

What I learned when I looked at our Venn diagram was that I have a romantic (but incorrect) view of those days. Lee was really miserable participating at church for several years before he decided to stop attending. He did not have a life outside of the church and his career. We did church things together and separately, but we didn’t both enjoy them. 

In the years since Lee left the LDS faith, we have grown as a couple and as individuals. Our venn diagrams reflect that. He retired this year and that has helped him to explore who he is and what he likes. We have mindfully and intentionally developed the parts of the diagram where we overlap and we have mindfully and intentionally developed ourselves individually, and we are both better for it. 

Our overlapping areas are designed to bring us closer together.  For example,  Lee and I have decided that generosity is a value we share. We have a budget category earmarked for generosity. Pretty regularly we look at each at about the same time and decide to “make someone’s day”. It might be a server at a restaurant or someone who helps us in the airport, or even someone just minding their own business.  We find a way to give them a surprisingly significant sum of money. We usually don’t know how our generous moments turn out, but it is something fun we do together that ends up making our day and draws us closer together. 

You might consider drawing a few Venn diagrams yourself (they can provide all kinds of data) to help you evaluate your relationship with your family members who have left the church. You can see and decide how much and what kind of overlap the two of you need and want, and then be intentional about developing the parts of you together that you share.  I would be curious about what you observe from your Venn diagram experiment. 

Its NOT about YOU!

It's ALL about Me!

A couple of days ago, I got a phone call from a loved one with discouraging news. 

I was shocked and I couldn’t gather my thoughts together and make sense of what happened or how to respond.  I finally had to end our call so I could process the news. 

I thought about the conversation with my loved ones, and why I couldn’t respond. After thinking about it a bit, I realized that my first thoughts were about me and not them. In other words, I was making their news all about my feelings, thoughts and concerns. I wasn’t thinking about how this would affect them except by way of how it was affecting me. 

One of the hard parts about being willing to do the work of making ourselves better is discovering really embarrassing things about ourselves. This was one of those embarrassing moments for me… 😳

It’s NOT About YOU!

This is the lesson I (re) learned this week.  When you make it about you, you can’t respond to those who are hurting. You can’t mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort. You can’t lift the hands that hang down or strengthen the feeble knees. You can only worry about how it will affect you.

Thinking about ourselves first is a very common reaction from those of us who have loved ones who have left the church. We get wrapped up in how this news affects us. How we are going to look at church, how we are going to respond when our loved one wants to bring home their girl or boyfriend to stay overnight with us, how much we are hurting.

We do need space to process these things, but if we want to maintain a strong connection with our loved ones, we really need to have the eyes and the heart to see how this information is affecting them. What do they think about what others are thinking and talking about them?  Are they afraid that we will reject their girl or boyfriend? Where are their pains?

I called my loved ones back that afternoon and apologized for my reaction and told them that I wanted to be supportive of them, but I wasn’t very good at it yet, and asked for their understanding and patience. When I hung up, my brain was able to start thinking of ways that I could support them, because I was making it about them (the people with the problem) and NOT about how it would affect me. 

For a few minutes after our phone conversation, I was able to bask in the glow of being someone who was learning to walk the talk of all the things I am learning for myself and teaching others. This is what it feels like to be a follower of Christ. 

It’s taken a long time working on myself and practicing to start catching on to myself sooner than I used to.  I am still a work in progress…

Help Thou Mine Unbelief

Stages of Faith

Recently, I went to BYU Education Week and attended several classes that apply to mixed-faith families. I learned and re-learned so much that I wanted to share some of my impressions with you.

Dr. Scott Braithwaite, a professor at BYU and a psychologist, taught a class titled “Help Thou Mine Unbelief – Supporting those we love through a faith crisis”. I thought the title fit me perfectly. As my husband and children were questioning their beliefs, I had to re-examine my own beliefs. Things that had seemed so simple at one time, suddenly seemed more complex. Through my spouse’s eyes, I could see some flaws, inconsistencies, oversimplification and just plain unanswered questions with the way I had previously believed. For a while I felt anxious, like I had lost my footing. 

Dr. Braithwaite addressed this common story by describing a model of faith and belief developed by James Fowler, called the “Stages of Faith”. The 6 stages of faith explain how so many people can see faith in different ways.

Faith stages 3-5 are usually the stages involved in a faith crisis and resolution.

Stage 3 level of faith; your faith community provides answers to your faith questions. Faith is simple and usually conforms to your community.

Stage 4 comes when things all of the sudden don’t seem that simple, there may be a personal or global event, crisis, or disaster that throws our beliefs into question.

Stage 5 is acknowledgement and acceptance that we don’t have all the answers and may never have the answers, while making peace with uncertainty. 

When people move through these stages of faith, some find peace by rediscovering their faith, while others may find peace by leaving their faith or continuing their search elsewhere.

One of my favorite activities in Hawaii is playing in the surf. It wasn’t always a favorite activity because, initially, I would wade out where I felt comfortable, with the sand underneath my feet. The problem was that the larger waves would knock me over and push me up onto the beach, where I would gulp ocean water and get covered in sand. I hated that!  Eventually, I learned if I waded out just a little further, where I was just past being able to touch the bottom, I could let myself relax and simply bob up and down with the waves. I let the waves gently push me back and forth. I gave up control and enjoyed the surf.  That weightless feeling of gently drifting with the waves. 

This reminds me of finding my faith, even when others around me were losing theirs.  It seemed like I eventually surrendered control and handed it over to God. I also watched how other faithful followers were navigating the same thing, and ultimately came around to an even firmer faith, one that relies less on myself and more on the Grace of God. I was able to simply feel the waves and enjoy my faith. 

Dr. Braithwaite suggested that this is where we can help our loved ones through their faith crises. Not by providing them with answers to their questions, but by loving, listening, supporting and accepting them while they learn to accept that life isn’t simple, and we may never have all the answers. 

This is a hard concept for spouses and parents to accept. We want to believe that there is a formula we can follow that will “fix” our doubting loved ones – and there just isn’t. 

This is where I can help. As a life coach who works with women who have loved ones leaving the church, I can help you find the faithful answers to questions you didn’t even have before members of your family started questioning their faith.  I can help you find your footing and the peace that can bring into your life.

Let’s talk.

Why Do I Stay?

Why Do I Stay Faithful?

Last week I spent the best week on the BYU campus in Provo attending Education Week classes, meeting with friends, and having “thinking” time in little nooks all around campus. I came home excited to share some of the things I learned.

While I was in Provo, I spent a morning with a friend who asked me a question. I was grateful that I had spent time thinking about my answer and was ready to respond to her question.

Her question was about the church and was simple – Why do I stay?

I was reminded of the scripture in 1 Peter 3:15.  Here it is, paraphrased a little:

“Be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you, and do it with gentleness and respect.”

I was so grateful that just weeks before she asked this question that I had settled down with a journaling page titled “Why I Stay.”

I had a page full of answers that made sense to me. I love our doctrines – of the temple, the baptismal covenant where I promise to come into the fold and stand as a witness of Christ, and for me, the biggest reason is “The Plan”, because I’ve rarely met a plan that I don’t love.  I envision “The Plan of Salvation” or “The Plan of Happiness” as an eternal round starting and ending with Heavenly Parents who love me and want to help me become like them. 

For people, like me, who have a spouse or children who have left the faith, being able to answer the question, “why do you stay”, and being able to explain with  honesty, gentleness and respect, is a great exercise to think about before the question is asked.

Be Ready – Find a quiet time and sit down with your journal and ask yourself the question. “Why do I stay?” Write out your answers. Don’t take a lot of time, but do think through all the aspects of life as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. What things do you love?  What things ring true?

Answer – I find it an absolute joy to be asked, and an even greater joy to be ready with reasons that I am able to share honestly and directly.

Asks – I am not asked very often, but I have been asked by my friend, my daughter and my husband, what I find appealing about the gospel. The key for me has been to wait until asked. When I try to tell my friends and family about how I feel about the gospel, before they ask me, they often are not ready to hear me. When they ask, I am able to share. 

Reasons for the hope inside of you – I have spent time really thinking about the things that I love, that bring me hope and fill me with overflowing love. Those are the things that I think about, concentrate on and make central to my life. They are the thoughts I think about on purpose and I am prepared to share when asked.

Gentleness and Respect – With many things it’s not about what you say, but how you say them. Being able to share with gentleness and respect leaves my relationship with my favorite people – my friends and family – ongoing and undamaged. I want to be in a relationship with them forever. I try to say what I want to say simply, genuinely, directly and centered on what it means to me. 

It’s a good journaling exercise to answer the question – Why Do I Stay? 

Think about making this question the focus of your morning devotional time.  As you think about the gospel, and what it means to you, write about your answers.

What? You don’t have a devotional time?  I can help with that. If you are struggling with developing your spiritual health and well-being, I can help you learn to pray with a little more focus, ask questions and learn to listen to answers from the spirit, and use your scripture time to find joy in spiritual learning.

5 Ways Having A Coach Helped Me When My Husband Left The Church

Couple Talking

Thought Tornadoes – I couldn’t stop the spiraling thoughts that usually ended with fearful questions like, “What’s going to happen to me now?” Getting coached and self-coaching taught me how to stop those fearful thoughts and replace them with other thoughts that I found gave me the power over my life.

Agency – I have been taught the principle of agency my entire life, but I didn’t fully understand my ability to choose my own thoughts, feelings and actions until I learned the self-coaching model. I always believed that someone or something outside myself had more influence over me than I did. I thought I was at the mercy of others and that I was stuck. Now that I understand agency, I know I am the one with the power.

Compassion – less judgment – I didn’t know how judgmental I was of myself and others until members of my family began leaving the church. I didn’t realize how painful the church could be for some members until I experienced some of that pain myself as I was grieving my leaving family members. Some of the things that we commonly talk about at church are painful for others who do not have the “ideal” family situation. I love having more compassion and less judgment for myself and for everyone else.

Self-Care – I developed a self-care routine that supported me spiritually, emotionally and physically. Because I routinely take care of what I need, I am in a better place to take care of others, both members of my own family and any other person I encounter.

Love – I’ve learned about love from my family outside of the church. They just love, they don’t qualify or expect their love to be earned by actions. This has been a great lesson for me.  Love has always felt hard to me, and now it’s so much easier.

To say that coaching has changed my life for the better would be a vast understatement!

I can coach you – and teach you how to coach yourself.

Can A Mixed-Faith Marriage Really Work?

Happy Marriage!

Almost six years ago, my husband decided to stop attending church. He had been struggling for a number of years with his belief in God, but finally felt that he couldn’t continue to attend church. I was surprised and taken off guard. I knew he was struggling with his faith, but I never expected that he would stop going to church with me. 

I was so afraid of what would happen next now that he wasn’t attending church.  What else would change?  Was he going to be a different person without the church? Were we going to argue all the time?  Was I going to have to go along with his changed beliefs for us to stay married?

My fear became consuming. I was always thinking about what would happen next, wondering if the changes he might make would become so great that I wouldn’t be able to stay with him. I really liked my life and I didn’t want to make any changes. 

We’d had a good marriage up to this point. We were business partners as well as life partners, and we had learned to talk things out using a giant white board and logic. We decided to apply that skill to this problem. 

We started filling up our white board with my questions about how things might change. He presented his ideas, I presented mine. It was a multi-day, many-hour series of discussions. On many of the topics, we decided that there would be “no change”.  For example, he continued to pay tithing, wear garments, observe the Sabbath and observe the Word of Wisdom. 

He stopped praying and reading the scriptures or other church materials. He didn’t renew his temple recommend, however he did continue to visit his Home Teaching families monthly because he loved them and didn’t want to give that up. I continued to bless the food for both of us. We agreed that he wouldn’t listen to podcasts or You-Tube videos that presented the church in a poor light for a little while. 

These were meetings where we both compromised, and we didn’t always agree on everything. Nevertheless, these meetings brought us both a lot of relief.  He was afraid that I would leave the marriage and I was afraid that he was going to change so much that I would have to leave the marriage. 

We gave each other space to process the changes. 

Our initial discussions worked so well that we decided to use the list we created to review our “LDS Mixed-Faith Lifestyle” each year.

Now it’s an annual tradition and every year around Mother’s Day, we choose a weekend to get away, enjoy some yummy food and hammer out our vision of what our marriage and life together will look like for the following year. We still use our original list as a foundation, but over the years it has morphed into a “how we can grow together as a couple” weekend, with both of us making changes in ourselves to be a better couple together.

Our original “lifestyle review” was so much help to us that we decided to format it nicely into a workbook and share it with you. I called this helpful document the “LDS Mixed-Faith Conversation Starter Workbook”. You won’t do things our way, you will figure out how things work best for you. However you choose to have a discussion, this list of topics that we’ve developed can help you see where you want to focus your time and attention.

If you wonder if two people can still be happy in their marriage when they have such different ideas about their faith, the answer is YES THEY CAN!  This workbook can provide a good start for discussions if you find yourself in this situation.

The list looks simple, but discussing the 60+ lifestyle topics listed in this workbook can greatly reduce the fear and anxiety about what’s next for everyone.   

LDS Mixed-Faith Conversation Starter Workbook 

NOTE:  If you have a friend or family member that may benefit from this workbook, please take a moment and forward this blog post to them.

A Mixed-Faith Family Father’s Day

Father's Day

If you are new to being in a mixed-faith family, seeing the differences between the believing members of the family and the non-believing members can be unexpected and painful.

For example, next Sunday is Father’s Day, and you have always spent Father’s Day at church as a family, fulfilling callings and having the Young Women/Men distribute treats for Father’s Day.  But what if dad no longer participates in church?  That can feel quite different for all members of the family. 

Especially if, rather than go to church, for his special day, Dad was hoping the family could go see the new Top Gun movie and then enjoy dinner at his favorite restaurant or a peaceful walk on the beach at sunset.

How do you handle this seeming’ mismatch between the believers’ traditional Father’s Day and the non-believing father’s wishes for Father’s Day?

It really doesn’t have to be a mismatch, there are many options for both believers and non-believers.

With a little creativity, we can find choices and make decisions that don’t have to be all or nothing propositions, with “winners” and “losers”.  When a family wants to feel loved and connected, there are many ways to achieve this. 

Perhaps you could sit down together before Father’s Day and work out what is important to your family. If dad no longer attends church, some family members may want to stay home with him, while others may want to attend Sacrament meeting and then go do things with dad as a family. Some may want to celebrate Father’s Day on Saturday so those who want to attend Sunday services can, while Dad does something he’s been wanting to do on his own. 

For those new to being a mixed-faith family, I offer the following 4 suggestions:
o Plan ahead

o Decide what’s most important to each member of the family

o Decide that there will be options where everyone “wins”

o Put family connections ahead of being “right”

You can use this formula for so many family situations, and every time you practice loving and connecting with each other as a family, decisions get easier. 

For our family, there hasn’t been just one “right” way.  Some years we make plans to celebrate Father’s Day on the Saturday before.  Some years I have gone to Sacrament meeting and then come home early to spend the day doing what Lee (my husband) wants to do on his special day, which has occasionally included going out to dinner. For our family, eating out wasn’t a normal Sunday activity.  Now it happens occasionally, and I feel that this is a choice that is aligned with my priorities, and what is most important to me.

Each year I take a solo retreat for a day or two, and I go over my values and priorities – because they change slightly from year to year. When I know that my relationship with God is my first priority, and that my relationship with my husband is my next priority, and my participation at church is down my list a little ways, I know what I value most and can evaluate nearly every choice almost instantly, so what I choose to do is inline with my values and top priorities. 

Speaking of personal values, do you know what your values and priorities are?  Perhaps now is a good time to review them again?  I’ve been working on a worksheet that helps us identify values and priorities, and I would be happy to share it with you. 

I hope this information is helpful to you.  If you have specific questions or thoughts that you would like to get feedback on, or if you would like a copy of my Values & Priorities worksheet, please feel free to contact me