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Monday, August 26, 2013

creating a more confident marriage...

One of the funnest things I enjoy during my marriage coaching sessions is what I call “leaving the light on” moments. This phrase comes from the mantra of Motel 6 which is, “We’ll leave the light on for you.” It is great when what we discuss translates into the relationship and into the home. Whenever that "light" turns on, it makes my job that much more fulfilling and well worth it!

Recently, I was coaching a couple and explaining the importance of having a confident marriage. I explained marriages that veer off into dangerous terrain and rough roads possess relational qualities that can be best described as passive, uncertain and skeptical. I went on to explain that the opposite of this kind of marriage possess a strong quality of confidence. As I continued,  the wife interrupted me and yelled out, “Wait a minute! Confidence belongs to individuals, not a marriage!” I respectfully disagreed with her and proceeded to explain further on what it means to have a confident marriage. Eventually, the light turned on for her and her husband and their marriage is seen as a positive example today.

Here are 3 great tips on how to have a confident marriage. I hope the "light" will turn on for you as you read these tips and then transfer them over into your marriage relationship.

1)    Look confidence straight in the eye! The worst conclusion a couple can make is when either one or both of them say, “I have nothing more to give.” A marriage that loses hope is one that loses necessary motivation. Whenever hope and motivation runs out, it is very difficult to recover.  A practical exercise I give couples in order to gain and solidify marital confidence is to both hold hands, stare into a mirror and say in unison, “I will not give up on you! I will not give up on us!” Do this 5 times; both in the morning and before you go to bed. Do this for 7 days straight and you will be amazed the kind of confidence you will discover in your marriage!     

2)    Expect confidence versus results. My oldest son is a good baseball player. Sometimes, he admits that he lacks the confidence necessary to be a good hitter. Like many young baseball players, confidence is the biggest hurdle to jump because young pitchers have the ability to throw the ball faster and sometimes with wicked movement. Recently, my son had a baseball game and went 0-4; 3 strikeouts and 1 groundout. After the game I asked him how he felt each time he batted. He told me that even though he didn’t have a hit, even with three strikeouts, he felt the most confident he had ever felt since playing the game of baseball. True confidence is found regardless of what happens, or not.                  
I believe this story applies to the 2nd great tip on having a confident marriage. Marital confidence does not waver based on some expected results. For struggling couples, a lack of confidence exists because there is a desperate need for immediate change. When change doesn’t happen quickly, frustration, discouragement and a lack of motivation supersedes confidence. Indeed, results do play a factor on being confident but true confidence is not found based on whether you are experiencing certainty or uncertainty. When your marriage is confident, you both understand that your relationship value and marriage identity does not waver depending on the outcomes. Marital confidence is the result of inner strength among both spouses. Whenever issues and troubles arise, you are both able to get in the batter’s box together and confront life’s curve balls as a team, even if that means you strike out one and awhile.  It doesn’t matter where your marriage has been, every spouse wants words that lift up rather than tear down. As a team, build up your spouse today by telling him or her how you appreciate them and what they do to strengthen the marriage. Do this on a regular basis and watch your marriage relationship confidence grow exponentially!   
3)    Find Confidence without changing your spouse. What is common among many of my marriage coaching sessions is how the spouse seeks to change the other spouse. I hear, “Well, if he just brought home flowers once in a while, then our marriage would be much better” or “If only she would let me have at least one night a week with the guys, then our relationship would be happier.” These common statements lead to marital doubt, not marital assurance.  True marital confidence is not found in what the other should do. Rather, strength in a marriage is found on looking in the mirror and asking yourself, “What can I do today to bring certainty to this marriage.” When both spouses are actively doing this and implementing it into their daily marriage relationship, watch your marital confidence increase!

Marital confidence is a necessity for a regularly maintained marriage relationship. Confidence, security and trust in your marriage goes a long way. As you implement these three great tips, watch how that light stays on for you--a bright marriage that naturally shines!

Rob Lane
Marriage Mechanic

Rob is proud that his wife Cara plays an instrumental part of what he does. They have a combined 20+ years helping individuals and couples with their relationships and marriages. Rob has a BA in Christian Education from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and holds a Master’s Degree in Psychology and is an Online Psychology Professor for Grand Canyon University. Rob is also certified marriage counselors in the PREPARE/ENRICH program. He is a non-denominational ordained minister and officiates wedding ceremonies. Rob combines his experience and education along with his unique approach that is sincerely relational, empowering, hopeful, honest and compassionate. To learn more about Rob, The Marriage Lane and his approach read here.

*Lead photo created using the app A Beautiful Mess, available for sale here in the iTunes app store! Thanks ABM app for the creative tool!

Friday, August 23, 2013

celebrating life sweetly...

I celebrated my Grandfather's 86th birthday this week.  He's been gone 6 years. I miss him everyday... and intensely around the holidays.  Grandpa was old school.  Slow. Patient. Kind. Honest. Pure. And he had a certain clairvoyance about his purpose, and his destiny.

When he was diagnosed with a cancer that most people don't beat (and usually die from within months of diagnosis), Grandpa approached the end of his life with conviction. It was clear he would do whatever it took to prolong his life, and enjoy what was left.  He enjoyed 14 months after his diagnosis, mostly good and enjoyable days. One more birthday, one more Thanksgiving, one more Christmas, a new year, Easter and countless memories as a family.

Although I saw some things I try to block out of my memory in that 14 months, my Grandpa taught me and showed me (and the rest of my family) so many beautiful things. He showed us how to approach death with grace and courage, and how to look at the finite amount of time as an opportunity to make memories, make peace, get things in order and say goodbye. He was a champion through treatments. Lots of treatments. He was never fearful of death. He knew his maker would call him home, and the peace he had in that wisdom was his greatest example of how to truly live in your final days. When he did settle into a coma and start to slowly journey to Heaven, he brought us all together again, even an Uncle who hadn't been around the family for over 20 years. My Grandpa was a blessing to us all his whole life, especially at the end of his.

Happy birthday, Grandpa!

To honor and celebrate his life my momma and I have an ice cream cone every year on his birthday.  He loved ice cream, especially the homemade recipe my Grandma makes, and then everyone would take a turn cranking the old fashioned ice cream maker.  This year my momma was traveling for work, so I had a cone by myself. It tasted soo good. I cried thinking about him, missing him... Some things change you forever. Losing my Grandpa changed me. I take great comfort in knowing he is at peace, and having a good time in Heaven.  He always did like to chew on the fat... and in Heaven I'm sure his days are comprised mostly of meeting and talking to others, only now Grandma can't nag him to get back to his yard work!

I love you always, Grandpa! I am so honored to be your granddaughter, and I thank you for the countless gifts you gave to those you loved!  You were truly an amazing man, and your legacy lives on!


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

a county fair bridal shower...

Beautiful dessert table with treats galore
Back in April my mom and I hosted a bridal shower for a dear friend. She and I have so much fun working on projects together.  Our work styles and planning styles are compatible enough to work together smoothly, but in contrast enough to challenge and support each other brilliantly. And we build on each other's ideas too... so something small becomes something amazing!  My mom is super talented... so I am always happy to work with her and learn from her!

This little beauty started with just a particular shade of pink, and ended with a gorgeous county fair themed affair!  The evolution was really something.  We are really quite proud of how it turned out... and we should be proud! It took hours and hours of homemade crafting, shopping, staging and re-staging to hit the sweet spot... not to mention the financial investment. Doing a party right costs some serious cash!  Anywhoodles, just wanted to share a few Instas from the day:
Rather than cake, we served pie because the bride likes pie!
It's allllll in the details 
Pink and brown goodness
I should mention that the bride did enjoy herself, and it seemed all the party guests did too!

Happy day!


Monday, August 19, 2013

when your marriage is walking the tight rope…

The circus, of all places, is a kid’s ultimate emotional roller coaster filled with sugar highs, laughter and smiles, but also tears and frowns too. The big top experience warrants great excitement but it also leaves kids fearful and frightened.  I remember one of the most unforgettable and emotional times in my life. I was 7 years old and it was my first experience at the circus. I was watching the infamous tight rope act. With pole in hand, the first step the tight rope artist made was a little wobbly. He caught his balance and took the second step. The crowd gasped and belted out big sighs of relief. As I watched him slowly take that third step, his left leg suddenly lifted, his body contorted to the right and then the crowd let out a huge scream, “Oh no.” I covered my eyes and my heart started to rapidly beat. The tight rope artist dropped his balance pole and then took a long fall! Suddenly paramedics rushed to the floor and tended to him. The crowd remained eerily silent and scared. As the emergency team lifted him onto the stretcher and wheeled him off the circus floor, the collective perspective changed. The emotion in the place became one; filled with a sudden lack of enthusiasm and the need to leave.

As I reminisce about that experience, I can’t help but think how our perspective often changes throughout life, and especially our relationships, particularly during an unstable wobbly marriage. As we walk on the tight rope of married life, we do stumble and even experience long falls which cause us to lose control and certainty. And when we find ourselves at the end of our relational rope, when life gets off kilter and out of balance, the tendency for a fearful perspective consumes our minds, actions, eventually our soul.

A marriage relationship must go through rough roads and dry spells in order to make the relationship stronger but not every marriage relationship needs to take that dangerous fall. How can you avoid your marriage from slipping off the tight rope? The answers to this compelling question is three-fold. 

1. See your current marriage struggle as an opportunity rather as a threat. Your struggle can be a great opportunity for incredible growth if you take a healthy alternative perspective. In the midst of marital hardship, the prospect of doing something different rather than what you would normally do can be the best decision you will ever make. Slow down in the fall... and think about how to grow from it.
2. Put yourself in your spouse’s shoes before you attempt to push him or her off the tightrope. I don't mean to be trite or flip--but have you showed empathy? It is easy to stay selfish in any marital struggle because you may believe that you are fully justified but consider what your spouse is going through, maybe what they are dealing with and how they are hurting.  Maybe it should take president this time.  Maybe taking a back seat immediately (and revisiting your issues and feelings later) could give space for your partner to feel heard, start to trust  you, and even be a little vulnerable with you. When you take just a moment to empathize, the focus comes off of you and appropriately focuses on the other, thus turning a tense situation into a more open and forgiving environment. 

3. Finally, do before feeling. Couples who are struggling in their marriage often say, “What’s the use of improving when I don’t feel like I love him or her anymore?” Sometimes, our feelings deceive us and can manipulate our ‘doing.’ I tell couples (both spouses) who are struggling in this area, “What are you doing to make your situation better, not worse?” Ironically, emotion is driven by motion. As much as you may feel your current situation is bleak and an unworthy cause, the reality is you can do something different, for the positive, if you act. Again, emotion is driven by motion!
Tight ropes are a part of the big top experience, and tight rope metaphor certainly plays a part in marriage but they don’t have to be the main attraction of your relationship. When those anxious tight rope feelings arise, remember to view your situation as an opportunity, display a sense of empathy and do before feeling. These tips may be the very thing that takes your relationship off a wobbly rope and onto safer ground.              

Rob Lane
Marriage Mechanic

Rob is proud that his wife Cara plays an instrumental part of what he does. They have a combined 20+ years helping individuals and couples with their relationships and marriages. Rob has a BA in Christian Education from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and holds a Master’s Degree in Psychology and is an Online Psychology Professor for Grand Canyon University. Rob is also certified marriage counselors in the PREPARE/ENRICH program. He is a non-denominational ordained minister and officiates wedding ceremonies. Rob combines his experience and education along with his unique approach that is sincerely relational, empowering, hopeful, honest and compassionate. To learn more about Rob, The Marriage Lane and his approach read here.

Friday, August 16, 2013

1460 lessons she's taught me...

Today my girl is turning 4 years old. I can remember the smell of her puppy nose like it was yesterday, the day my then fiance (husband-to-be only three days later...) surprised me with the fluffy, little fur ball the morning after my bachelorette party. As that saying goes, timing is everything. She was two months old when she came home.

Everyday of our life together, we are learning from each other. Everyday! It's not like the learning we did in the first few months... like how to get pee out of carpet, and how to avoid her puppy teeth.  But she also learned alot too, and fairly quickly and easily:
  • sit
  • stay
  • lay down
  • up
  • shake (both hands)
  • high five (both hands)
  • go to bed
  • wait (for a treat or to eat dinner)
  • speak
  • go find _________ (we play hide-n-go seek lots!)
  • the names of people
  • the names of various toys
  • how to wait for and catch a treat from her nose
  • how to catch a Frisbee
  • the way to get exactly what she wants from every person she meets with those big, brown eyes

And now the lessons are more subtle. I have to pay attention, and take note.

Recently we found our stride when we go for long walks. There was a time she use to nearly choke herself to death as she pulled me behind her (I'm nearly 3x her size too!). But that took all these years for us to learn each other, and figure out what works.

She teaches me patience because she never goes to the bathroom when it is convenient. And after I sort the laundry in to color piles, she takes mouth fulls are spreads them all around the house. Surprise!

She teaches me that true, unconditional love is limitless. There is really no end to the love she gives. Yes, there is a tradeoff. Her vet bills are huge, her food is expensive, and twice a day we pick up big, stinky, hot piles of poo. But those eyes. That fur. Those snuggles. Price-freakin-less!

She reminds me that everyone deserves our time. She really loves humans. And she has a very special gift with senior citizens and toddlers. She'll sit by the side of an older person, and just look deep into their soul, letting them talk to her and pet her. She's in no hurry. She is truly therapy. And for kidlets, she instantly rolls on her back to allow them to rub her belly. She'll let them tug on her ears, snatch her toys and get all kinds of up in her grill... seems like she has no personal bubble at all. The closer, the better!
She taught me, and continues to remind me, that everything can be fun, and there is always time to play! Even at four years old, home girl loves to play!

She teaches me how to make the seemingly small things into memories and moments. Seeing the world through her experiences has been everything for J and I. We took her on a 14 hour road trip, one way. And she loved every second of it, hardly sleeping at all. She's been to the lake, to the beach, to friends' homes, to the park, to post office and more... Have dog, will travel!

And most importantly, she reminds me that if you strip it all away, as long as we have each other, we'll always be okay.

This four year old doggy, who is 1460 days old today, has taught me 1460 lessons or more. She is family. She is my doghter. She is my spiritual match! She saved me from depression. She made J and I a family, and she made our little, humble house into a palatial castle that oozes fun and laughter. She is the most amazing dog on the planet and I love her so much!

Happy, happy, happy, happy birthday beautiful girl! I am soooo glad you were born!


Monday, August 12, 2013

making marriage an enjoyable journey…

Simply stated, my philosophy as an amateur hobby hiker is to enjoy the journey and not the destination. 

I enjoy hiking, but I’m not the extreme hiker-type trail blazer who scales rocks or cliff or mountains like some X-game competitor. Rather, hiking for me is a simple, stress-free outing filled with frequent water breaks and vista view pit stops along the way.

I believe the same can be true of a marriage journey. If marriage is viewed as a journey rather than a destination, an enjoyable relationship can become more of a reality. For many, the distance of their marriage relationship is only measured from the wedding aisle, which feels like pure bliss, to their new home, back to reality. When many couples start to get settled into their new lives, and that honeymoon glow begins to wear off, disappointment and unfulfilled expectations suddenly flood in... Delusion sets in and couples are faced with confusion, frustration and regret. And research shows that only after 3 years into marriage, people make drastic decisions, and it can feel like the pain will never subside. If your marriage started out this way and nothing has changed since, you don’t have to settle for a sub-par, unhappy relationship!

A road to a fulfilling and satisfying marriage is available to us all… but this does not simply happen by accident. It’s not good luck or merely good fortune. It’s continual investments created by daily effort with a team mindset and a desire to support each other everything you/they do. In other words, the work you put into your marriage will bring about the results you have always dreamed about.

Here’s some simple homework to help you clarify the direction of your marriage journey today:

1.     Put down on paper three things that are great in your marriage and prioritize them from greatest to best. Often times, marriages that are stuck in a rut have spent too much time focused on what’s not working rather than what is.
2.     Once you have carefully articulated those three things, choose one of those three and brainstorm tangible ways to build it up even more. For example, my wife, Cara, continually builds me up with verbal compliments.  It goes a long way in making me feel constantly supported and appreciated. And one way I could support her in return is to give her complements and positive feedback!

3.     Finally, intentionally implement one of your newly brainstormed ideas twice this week! My suggestion is that you do this in a way you have never done before. Be thoughtful. Be consistent. Create the change you want to see in your marriage!

The best way to get your marriage back on track is to view your relationship like a hike: an enjoyable adventure, moving towards something, somewhere beautiful! Marriage is a journey, and it’s meant to always be moving forward. When your marriage is viewed as an adventure, a journey, suddenly your relationship has meaning and purpose and the hike doesn’t seem so bad after all.

I look forward to hearing how your marriage relationship changed direction next week!

Rob Lane
Marriage Mechanic

Rob is proud that his wife Cara plays an instrumental part of what he does. They have a combined 20+ years helping individuals and couples with their relationships and marriages. Rob has a BA in Christian Education from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and holds a Master’s Degree in Psychology and is an Online Psychology Professor for Grand Canyon University. Rob is also certified marriage counselors in the PREPARE/ENRICH program. He is a non-denominational ordained minister and officiates wedding ceremonies. Rob combines his experience and education along with his unique approach that is sincerely relational, empowering, hopeful, honest and compassionate. To learn more about Rob, The Marriage Lane and his approach read here.

Friday, August 09, 2013

the richest people in the world...

As I sat across from my dad at the dinner table tonight, and listened to him talk about his departed friend Tanaka, my eyes swelled with tears. I was flooded all at once with memories of my parents, and their innate championing of people that others tore down, dismissed, forgot, ignored, traded in, left behind or wouldn't give the time of day.

Earlier in the evening my pup and I went to my parent's house on an invitation for bar-be-qued meatloaf. When I arrived, my dad's elderly friend, Jerry, was also joining us for dinner. I thought nothing of it. I was delighted to see Jerry. We made small talk while we waited for the loaf to finish and my dad played Frisbee with my pup. Jerry was asking me about my job, and validating that I am lucky to enjoy my work. Jerry has a wife who has all but given up. Eats junk. Won't participate in life. And wants to live in a convalescent hospital where she won't have to do anything for herself anymore. That's not Jerry. He's got a robust sense of humor, and is a great story teller. He drinks a big glass of wine, pets my dog, smiles and laughs. He still goes to the gym! 

Jerry is not the exception... You see, for all my life, my parents and their home has been a place of comfort and safety for some many. I remember my mom disengaging with people in her social groups because they were bullying (yes, adult women bullying another woman) a friend of hers. My mother and father have always seen the good in others, and welcomed everyone with open arms, a glass of wine and a listening ear. While realistic and certainly aware of others challenges and annoyances, they always see the goodness in others first. So when grown women were actively participating in belittling, gossiping and mistreating a friend of my mom's, she defended her, and disengaged with those women. I admire that. I respect that. That's integrity and courage. And any one of us would be lucky to call her their friend.

My dad is no different. He would (and has) give any person in need the shirt of his back. I can remember donations to my elementary school for equipment my teachers needed. I remember purchases of cases of girl scout cookies. And he is both generous and loyal as the day is long.  On many occasions, my girlfriends came over to hang out with me, but ended up talking with my mom on the couch.  To so many my parents have been surrogate parents and family. My parents, aside from raising me with so many now diminishing values, always championed others, engaged the disenchanted, and loved the people who needed it most. 

Fast forward to today. Our family holidays are made up of a myriad of personalities and stories. Jerry is there. So is my dad's friend Ron, an immigrant to this country and a widower. And there's my mom's friend Jennifer and her daughter Emily who don't have much family in the area. Sometimes my friend Laurie is around the table with her bright smile and memorable laugh. Laurie recently lost both her parents. At our summer parties you find generations of families who come to our gatherings because it's now their tradition too. Occasionally our own blood family is there, but the majority of our get together are this beautiful, unique blended crew of people we fondly call our family. No one is ever turned away, even when they don't RSVP or when they show up unexpectedly. Somehow there is always just enough room around the table to squeeze in an extra place setting, and just enough food for everyone to leave with a full belly (even if my parents are suddenly "not that hungry"). Their deep sense of charity and generosity has made my childhood home a safe haven for so many. It's a place where memories are made, you are labeled family in an instant and greeted with a big hug and a warm smile always.

I guess tonight when my dad was talking about Tanaka and how sad and lonely the last few days of his life were because almost everyone else had walked away, I was thinking about what a good friend my dad was to him. Listening, supporting, over looking flaws, and being a friend... just being a friend. Be he's a good friend to sooooo many. And so is my mom. They are stunning people! You see, that's all we really have in life you know?  All we really, truly have is each other. Stuff is stuff, money is money. But our people, those connections and friendships, those are what make meaning in our fleeting lives! And that is what makes my parents the richest two people I know.

With pride and respect,

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

an exciting new adventure...

I am bursting at the seams to tell you about a new adventure I am embarking on with my friend, Rob Lane, who happens to be the pastor who married my husband and I (four years ago this autumn!).  He is passionate about marriages and making them better, breaking down barriers, helping couples communicate better, and understand each other. Sooo... my little, humble blog is going to be a platform for him to reach out to women, share some tips, and also help us understand men a little better in what we're calling Marriage Mechanics Mondays (MMM). I'm honored that his passion and voice will be heard here!  And I'm hoping he can help yours, mine and all your girl friends' marriages.

So... let me introduce you to your marriage mechanic, your relationship coach, the wonderful Rob Lane:

Rob, who are you? 
Hi everyone! If you were to ask my wife who I am, she would say, “Simply bald and beautiful!” And my boys would say, “Homerun King… in waffle ball!” I am the husband of my beautiful wife of 18 years, Cara, and the father of 2 very cool boys: Connor, who is 14, and Ryland, who is 10. I am so excited about this opportunity to connect with women about strengthening their relationship/marriage because it's my passion! One of my favorite quotes is, “When relationships are working, everything else in life works.” This is the theme by which I live my life and something I hope to illuminate for every person or couple I work with!

How did your passion become helping marriages? 
The start of my passion for helping marriages first came from a deep ‘spiritual wound’ in my own life experiences. At the impressionable age of 12, my parents were headed for a divorce and I took a strong stand against it, passionately protested the decision! My Dad remembers asking me as a child whom I wanted to live with post-divorce. My answer was, with deep pain in my eyes and vigor in my voice, “I will not choose between you or mom because I want to live with you both!"  My dad credits his decision to stay, and recommit to his marriage to my tenacity and insistence.  As a result, my parents decided against divorce and the years that followed I saw a new family structure take shape and a new marriage emerge as my parents decided to make a better life for themselves and their family. I have carried this experience with me my whole life and it is the motivation and passion behind why I do what I do.

My business, called the Marriage Lane, started as a result of walking through some of the most difficult times I have ever seen with some of our closest friends who were experiencing great relational pain and marriage struggles. The conversations and counseling sessions that took place during those times caused us to look deeper into the dilemma of marriage issues and distress. It is no secret that many people today are going through relational turmoil and find themselves alone with no idea how to navigate through it. Many people live out their philosophy of relationships with the cliche "love is a gamble.”  With the understanding that many people are skeptics when it comes to successful, lasting marriage relationships, I strategically help people traverse through those rough areas in their marriage journey and creatively help them discover new norms thus experiencing hope for a successful relationship.

Why the name Marriage Mechanic Mondays (MMM)?
I call myself a "Marriage Mechanic" because every marriage relationship could use a "tune up" from time to time. I believe that regular tune-ups in your marriage, similar to regular oil changes for your car, are necessary to keep your marriage functioning at a healthy and effective level. The marriage journey consists of many ups and downs. What I have found is that often times a marriage needs a jolt, an oil change, some air in the tires, and a burst of support and coaching during those tough spells... and those are all things I can help marriages tap!

What's your hope for Marriage Mechanic Mondays (MMM)?

My hope for Marriage Mechanic Mondays is that each person who reads my posts understands that I am right there walking with them in trenches of daily relationship/marriage struggles and joys, and that I'm in my own marriage journey with Cara. I am not perfect in my marriage (just ask my wife!). But, I certainly strive to be better today in my marriage than I was yesterday, and better tomorrow than I was today. With God’s help, I can provide the necessary tools for your marriage relationship. The reality is that every couple wants to experience a thriving marriage but the real challenge is how to do it. My hope for MMM is that each person knows that they can steer the course of their own marriage's road. The Marriage Lane, provides the map and some simple pit stops, and you navigate the course!

Talk to us about your street cred! What's your bio, in a nutshell?
Rob Lane of The Marriage Lane
Rob is proud that his wife Cara plays an instrumental part of what he does. Between the both of them, Rob and Cara have combined over 20 years helping individuals and couples with their relationships and marriages. Whether it is teenagers who are dealing with relational struggles, engaged couples who want to be better prepared for their new marriage, couples who desire marriage renewal or individuals who need encouragement and support, Rob and Cara’s genuine concern, ability to use humor as a helpful antidote and practical advice comes out in every relationship coaching session.

Rob and Cara both have a BA in Christian Education from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. Rob holds a Master’s Degree in Psychology and is an Online Psychology Professor for Grand Canyon University. Cara is an International motivational speaker and speaks to over 5,000 women per year empowering them to live fulfilling and purposeful lives. Cara has been featured on Good Day Sacramento and has shared the stage with several nationally recognized authors and speakers. Rob and Cara are also certified marriage counselors in the PREPARE/ENRICH program. Rob is a non-denominational ordained minister and officiates wedding ceremonies. Rob combines his experience and education along with his unique approach that is sincerely relational, empowering, hopeful, honest and compassionate.

Where can we learn more about you and your work?
The first place you can learn more about me and my work is though my website: The Marriage Lane. Also, please follow The Marriage Lane on Facebook where you will find helpful, quick marriage tips that provoke thought and action! Also on our Facebook page you will find announcements related to what we are doing and what we hope to accomplish in the future. Currently, we (Cara & I) are working on some products that will be helpful, creative and fun! Look for those products through our links. Please give us a shout out, ask questions or share ideas for future posts in the comments here on the blog and on our Facebook page because product research comes directly from each of you! Should you want more support in your marriage, and I hope you do, I offer marriage coaching sessions via Skype where I can coach your marriage and provide practical advice that you can confidently use in your marriage today!

Anything else you want to tell our followers?
I love this question, Lindsay because it gives me the opportunity to share with everyone some things not many people know about me (until now). My favorite season is Christmastime. I love listening to Christmas music and watching Christmas movies all year long! Elf is my favorite! To concentrate, I listen to Jazz music. I love jogging on the treadmill and I am an avid sports fan! Gooooo San Fransisco Giants and 49ers!!  I have a sweet tooth weakness for Reeses Peanut Butter Cups!

Most importantly, I want everyone to know that I am a marriage coach, rather than a marriage counselor. The fundamental difference between the two is counseling tends to focus on the past and coaching focuses on the future. The analogy I like to show couples is when driving a car you have two options for your vision: one that looks ahead and one that looks behind. Thankfully, the larger view from the driver’s seat is the wind shield; the smaller view is the rear view mirror. If your marriage focuses only on that rear view mirror, the past, you're putting your marriage in danger. This is not to say you should never look through the rear view mirror. It just means that you should look forward more often, and use that rear view mirror for a point of reference only occasionally. Additionally, your focus as a driver is looking ahead through that windshield. Marriage coaching focuses on the windshield, the dream, your future in a marriage you both want! You will get where you want to go when your eyes focus on forward motion!        

Thank you, Rob, for letting us get to know you! Looking forward to Marriage Mechanic Mondays!


Monday, August 05, 2013

persistent little chicky named blackie...

I house sit for a friend who lives in the country. I grew up with lots of animals, on what I call, fondly, the mini farm. Chickens, and lambs, and steers, and doggies, and kitties, and bunnies, and more. So any time I'm asked to house sit for the friends in the country, I relish my time there. It's so quiet and peaceful. The soothing lull of the wind through the trees and the occasional dog bark in the distance are reminiscent. Sometimes I sit with my feet in their pool, staring at the sky, making pictures in the clouds... like I did as a child. I start to feel very melancholy. There is something freeing about acreage, and animals, and old, big trees...

Someday I wanna write about the lessons I learned growing up country, but today I want to talk about one of the chickens at this house I sit on, er, for.  Part of my daily duties includes feeding and watering the chickens, and collecting their lovely, imperfect brown eggs. There is no rooster. Just deliciously rich, dark yellow yolked, farm fresh eggs. It's just that this time I think the cute, chunky little black feathered chicken was confused. She sat on an egg for over three days. Did I mention there is no rooster? Bless her heart! Such persistence, and patience, all for something that just wasn't going to happen.

Everyday as I walked up to the coop, I saw her long butt feathers popping out from a hole in the top of the nesting box. It made me smile. "I think I can, I think I can!" But, it's hot, and I started thinking about the egg innards... cooking everyday... under little Blackie's butt in July heat... so I decided to stir her from the nest. It broke my heart, actually, as I gently pushed her from the egg with a long, skinny piece of lumber. She was tenacious. "I will not leave my post! I must protect my egg!" She held on. Such a fighter. And then, she couldn't hold on anymore. She looked back at me with eyes that said, "HOW DARE YOU!"

Moral of the story is, sometimes we hold on to something, hoping to hatch an egg, without thought or input... we just keep doing the same thing over and over again... but no egg is gonna hatch. And something or someone comes along and pushes you into a whole new world of discomfort, without your input or consent... But it turns out to the be the best thing for you, because you couldn't do it for yourself. And go figure, when you're out of your comfort zone is usually exactly where you hatch the most "eggs."

Take this little story for what it's worth. Certainly, I'm extrapolating quite a bit from a confused chicken. But I can relate to Blackie... the best times in my life have been when I was shoved, head first, and resisting with all my might, into a brand new routine/life/pattern.


Friday, August 02, 2013

the best things in life are free...

Have you ever heard of "love languages?"  I read a book a few years ago that helped me own my love languages: gifts and recognition.  At first I felt guilty, like I was that superficial person always needing compliments and presents... but it's more than that.  I try to explain to Hubster that it's less about the cost of a gift, and more about the thought. My example is always a $1 pack of pink gum. If he, or anyone, bought that for me and said, "Lindsay, I know how much you love pink, and you have a bubbly personality like gum bubbles, so I bought you this $1 pack of gum!" I would be thrilled!  What a kind and thoughtful gesture.  Equally, I don't need constant praise to feel valued and important.  But if I've done a job well done, or you like the cupcakes I baked you, or you think I'm a good listener, I sure appreciate hearing it.  

In the spirit of my own love languages, I tend to love others with gifts of thought and meaningful praise.  I'm a heart-on-my-sleeve kinda girl. I think that makes me strong that I love people so much that I think of them with thoughtful gifts.  And that I can share what I feel when I see something I like (and things I don't always like too!).  So what if I cry in movie previews, and I stop to rescue any animal I see that may be in need! I'm sensitive, and my besties make fun of me for it. I'm an easy target because I am likely to cry at almost anything... but I'm true to myself and my very own, unique heart song.

In the spirit of Friendship Day, which is on Sunday, August 4, I brainstormed a simple list of free and inexpensive gifts to share with your friends:
·Give them a smile just cuz
·Write a note of thanks or praise (and send it via snail mail!)
·Help them carry something, move a piece of furniture or clean their house
·Call them!
·Listen, without interruption
·Pick someone wildflowers
·Tell them a joke
·Write a love letter (ideally for your partner, not your friend, bu hey, I'm not judgin!)
·Give them a cherished possession

·Bake or cook something to share
·Praise them publicly for something more than their appearance
·Thank them for a job well done, or maybe for being a GREAT friend (I thank my friends for putting up with me)
·Give them a hug

·Spend time with them
·Do an errand or chore for them
·Just say "I love you!"
·Make them a cup of Joe (this is a easiest way to my heart!)
·Make a list of things you love/appreciate about them
·Give a back rub/scratch or play with their hair

·Offer to pick up lunch for them while you’re out
·Forgive them, even if it's something small, forgive!

Happy friendship day to all my beautiful friends!

Love you so,
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