You Get What You Pay For

pay

Everyone says they want quality. Everyone wants to get quality. But does everyone know how and what to do to achieve quality? When you go to a show, you take time to scour a seating map to get the best view. When you buy a product online, you take time to read the reviews to make sure the product will meet all of your expectations. When you buy a house, you take time to tour and ask questions to ensure you’re making the best possible investment.

So what do you do when you want a quality relationship? You spend quality time.

There’s a certain amount of investment that you have to do when you want something of quality and our relationships are no different. While that investment may not be monetary, we make this exchange in the form of time and our effort. In other words, the best way to measure if your time is quality is if you  can come out of it being able to answer a few questions: How is that person’s heart? How is their mind? What do they need? What is this person made of? When you are investing time in a person, you are ensuring that you get the best of them… it only makes sense since you’re giving the best of you – your time, your attention, and your effort.

When you pay only half of your attention, you can’t expect to glean the most of a quality time situation. You can’t expect to get to know someone’s true self or become any closer if you aren’t willing to make the best investment. So today, think about getting what you pay for… and think about what you’re willing to pay for the best.

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Great Expectations

expectation

We all have them… expectations.

As a public relations professional, I’ve been trained to deal a lot with images. So let’s think about the images we have of certain people. What’s the ideal image for a mother? What’s the ideal image for a husband? What’s the ideal image for ourselves?

While we conjure these thoughts in our heads, something’s occurred that we may not have even noticed. We’ve created expectations. Now it’s up to us to decipher if they’re realistic or not. Realistic expectations start with you taking those images of those individuals… and throwing them away. While there is nothing wrong with having expectations, we mustn’t live our lives being “expect-ors”.  That is, if we go through our lives expecting things from people… friends, family, coworkers… we’re in for a lot of disappointment. But not because people are awful… it’s because people are HUMAN. We fall short! Instead, cut right down to the very core of the person, so that we may see someone as who they really are – not what we want, hope, or expect them to be.

Now what do you want for that person and for your relationship with them? How can you help facilitate what you are expecting? When you find yourself in a situation where you’re expecting something from another person, turn that into INspection. What is going on within YOU? What are your needs? What are your own capabilities? Can you do what you’re expecting another person to do, yourself? This time of inspection leads to a more realistic point of view… a more realistic expectation.

Realistic expectations are born from healthy communication and clear vision. Once we put aside false ideals and start living in reality, our expectations of others will follow suit. So before you start thinking your partner should be able to read your mind, or before you start thinking that your partner should automatically do this or that, or before you start thinking that your mother and father should be this way or that… take some time to review and figure out if what your expecting is coming from reality or pure imagination.

Listen to the Advice4Life podcast here.

Relationships Aren’t Always 50/50… and That’s Okay!

giving

How many of us heard that relationships are 50/50? That’s what makes a relationship successful, right? But what if I told you that that’s not the case. When we are in a relationship with another person, we are called to love as God loves… not just 50/50, but wholly. Not just on some days, but every day. Not just when you are in love, but on the days when it feels like you can’t even look at one another. That is how God loves us, and that’s how we must love others.

If you want your relationship to be 50/50… that means someone’s counting. And if someone’s counting, you’re not giving yourself freely. Will you only be kind when you’re met with kindness? Will you only be generous when you’re met with generosity? If that’s what your aiming to do, what credit is that to you?

What thankfulness or humility do you gain from being nice to the people who are nice to you, to love those who love you. What strength does it take for you to respond to that person in that way? It takes a certain amount of character and power to emit love in times when it’s the hardest. It takes character and power to hold your tongue and be humble in arguments. It takes character and power to sow patience in times of struggle.

But remember this: every time we are faced with a difficult situation, especially with our partner, it is God grooming us to be in His image. Because if we can’t love who’s right in front of us, how can we love someone we can’t even see? If we give ourselves fully to another person, despite the selfishness or fear that is naturally in our hearts, we are taking the necessary steps to get closer to God.

So let’s practice giving our whole selves into our relationship. Our whole time. Our whole attention. Our whole trust. And our whole heart.

Listen to the podcast here.

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Wants Vs. Needs

wedding

I recently happened upon an article in the Baltimore Sun that hit so close to home, my hand was pretty much on the front door knob. The article told the story of two photographers – a Baltimore couple, Liz and Ryan Bower – who spent years photographing brides’ and grooms’ special days, but then realized… there wasn’t much emphasis or excitement surrounding their lives after the wedding. So they set out across country to gather married couples’ stories and compiling them in a book entitled, “Amazing Life Together”. While reading this article, I couldn’t help but call to mind last Tuesday’s #Advice4Life session focusing on the difference between what we want and what we actually need.

A couple’s wedding day is a prime example of wants vs. needs. Over the years, the Bowers were in the full mix of couples’ wedding planning. Details planned to a tee – the flavor cake, the color of the flowers, what time the hair stylist would arrive… those were the important things, those are what was needed. …Or at least you thought. A wedding day is the first day of the rest of your life and you can’t be blamed for wanting it to be perfect… and if you’re anything like me, you’ve thought about this day ever since you were tall enough to place your mother’s white lace curtains over your head and hum the wedding march.

But so often amidst the planning of the details and the focus on making the day what you always dreamed it would be, we lose sight of what we really wanted in the first place. Now if what you really wanted was your suit and tie to be an exact match of the color swatch… then you might want to reconsider why you’re getting married. But for most of us, our true desire to be married comes from the desire of wanting to be in companionship with another person for the rest of our lives. For the next 50 or so years, we want to spend our precious moments by our loved one’s side, experiencing life right their next to them. Not to mention, we choose to get married because we want to spend the rest of our lives living in love.

So why do we place things like the type of linens being used above that? Because we are unable to distinguish our wants from our needs. Our true needs get lost in a sea of wants. Yes, we want the perfect dress. Yes, we want the perfect pictures. Yes, we want the perfect music. Yes, we want the perfect venue. But do we really need those to have a happy marriage? Absolutely not! Couples find themselves in trouble a lot due to the fact that they have mistaken their wants for their needs.  We spend so much time trying to fulfill a need that we don’t really even have. All of our focus and attention is put into what we think we need and when a basic need is being unmet, we get upset and defensive. Ultimately you find yourself in a frustrating position when you finally get what you thought you wanted.. and it wasn’t what you wanted at all.

When you find yourself in this predicament, it’ll be helpful to be in tune with yourself and what you need. If it’s companionship… move from there. If it’s friendship… move from there. If it’s friendship… move from there. Your true wants become your intentions and once you know what your intentions are, the clearer your path will be for your thoughts and actions. Think of your life 10 years from now… what do you see? Take some time today to figure out what’s really important to you.

Visit the Advice4Life website here.

 

The Company You Keep

friends

You’ve probably heard this from your parents: “You are the company you keep.”

We have probably found that these words ring true to this day. Our friends are a direct reflection of ourselves – our interests, our cares, our concerns, our joys, our sorrows, our thoughts, our feelings… a little of us is a little of them. But what we may not have realized is that our friends are also a reflection of how we treat them.

When someone becomes our friend, they did not enter into a binding contract that states, “I will never hurt you.” Because if someone is your friend, sooner or later… they will. And while it may not have been their intent, it will hurt. Even more so because that person is someone you consider your friend. But we’ve also heard the saying, “To have a friend you must be a friend.” So when you enter into a situation in which you’ve been hurt, ask yourself: “Was I being a friend too?”

It’s inevitable that someone we are close to will hurt us. And they will hurt us because we have let them into that vulnerable part in us that is able to be injured. But as hard as it is to be in that difficult moment, try to consider why that person may have done it. When a friend has betrayed you, there was something happening within them that they felt they could not share. This “secret space” is where true intentions lie. Your friend may have had selfish intentions and did something to hurt you, but were you being a person that they could confide in? Were you open with compassion and understanding? Did you remain non-judgmental?   Although we did not enter into a covenant that stated no person will ever hurt each other, we did enter into an agreement that you both will always care for each other and want the best for one another.

As a friend, we have to remove judgement from our eyes – we aren’t perfect beings and we can’t expect our friends to be either (remember, they’re REFLECTIONS of us… not caricatures). If we want to be good friends we must remain faithful and trustworthy, no matter what the other person brings to us. We must remain “real”, in which we can openly state what will bring about the betterment for the other person TO the other person. The catch? We must be able to accept the same kind of advice for ourselves right back.

A friendship isn’t fool proof and two strangers never enter into this relationship as perfect people. There must be a commitment there to learn from one another and our mistakes without fear and judgement. So today, let’s practice being THAT friend… that someone can be open and honest with no matter what.

Visit the Advice4Life website here.

The Rules of Friendship

friendship

There are no requirements in friendship… only rules, limits, and consequences. This is how we get confused and mistake certain relationships for friendships when they truly are not.

When you enter into a friendship, these are things to remember: investment, humility, unresisting, considerate, and meekness.

A friendship is a relationship you should want to invest in. It’s not something you let fall to the wayside, but something you give your time and attention. You must want to get to know the other person – their thoughts, their interests, their fears…and that takes effort.   It is something that you work toward and put your time in, solely because you enjoy another person.

When you want to be a good friend, you have to be ready to humble yourself. All of a sudden it becomes about another person. When we’re investing in another person we learn things about them that we wouldn’t have known otherwise – those pieces of information now become vital to the development of your relationship. When you humble yourself to another person you take into account those pieces of information and join them… in their likes, dislikes, hopes, and fear.. It is your task to accept those as they are, thinking no less of them if they don’t quite match your own interests or beliefs. If you hold your opinion higher than the other person, so much so that if there were disagreeing stances on any subject that neither of you would be willing to concede… there is no friendship there.

You must be able to be honest and open with your friend. The moment they have established themselves as a friend of yours (when they have proven to be trustworthy, faithful, and loyal) you have given them permission to speak into your life. You have given them permission to sow in to your life. Now, there will be people in this world that will want to be your friend for reasons other than enjoying you as a person. Maybe you have something they want, maybe they need you to do something for them… whichever the case, you can ask God for his help in discerning who is a true friend and who is not. When you become weary of someone’s intentions, there’s no need to stress or worry… because if you have given that person the best of you, God recognizes that and his or her agenda will be revealed in only a matter of time.

So be more mindful of who you say is your friend. And be more mindful of the way you are being a friend. Friendship is so special that is serves as the base of more intimate relationships. After all being married to your best friend and having friends that become family are probably the best experiences of them all.

Visit the Advice4Life website here!

 

 

The Struggle with Forgiveness

baggage

A few weeks ago we talked about how we as human beings tend to hold on to the things that hurt us. It’s so easy for us to cling to those things as though they are our memories, but really, we tend to hold on because the difficult thing to do is to forgive.

Forgiveness is something that we all want but somehow we all struggle to give it ourselves. How is that possible? Well, when we’ve been hurt it’s our first instinct to protect ourselves so as not to repeat history. What we believe is the fool proof way to protect ourselves is to remember each and every offense and make it our case against the other person. It’s like we have things stored in our back pockets ready for the right moment. But what would life be like if everyone operated in that way? If everyone just constantly chose to stay angry or upset?

Let’s think about the times we’ve made mistakes, fallen short, or disappointed someone. Did we want that person to hold it over our heads, reminding us day in and day out of our shortcomings and what we did wrong? Well ,if you’re in a relationship like that, it’s time to think long and hard about what you’re doing because I would want someone to not just overlook my transgressions, but acknowledge that I am trying to be a better person. And since that’s how I would want to be treated, how should I expect to approach another person who has probably made all the same mistakes that I have?

Holding on to past hurt creates baggage in any relationship. This baggage has the potential to weigh you and your partner down so low that it’s no longer love that you manifest but something so much darker.

When you find yourself in a position where you want to point fingers,where you want to fight, where you want to blame, YOU have been fooled. Anger will never get you what you really want. Yes, you get fuel from anger… but you get freedom from forgiveness. The moment you choose to forgive, the baggage falls off and the weight will melt away. No matter how hurt you are, don’t let it kill your ability to love… because in the end, love is where the real power is.

Visit the #Advice4Life website here: https://advice4life.us/

 

The Disappointment Train…Are you getting on or off?

train

Did you ever want something to happen so badly and you didn’t get it? Have you ever expected something to happen in one way but it actually turned out another? Disappointment is never a fun feeling. It has the ability to make or break us and when it happens in a relationship with someone you love, feeling let down can be one of the worst feelings in the world.

So when someone doesn’t do what we expected them to do, how can we move past that?

The Bible tells us that true love endures all things. Can your love endure disappointment? Let’s say you expected your partner to come to an event with you. All your friends would be there, you heard the music would be great, and you were counting down to Friday night for as long as you could remember. All of a sudden, your partner calls you and says they can’t make it. They have to work late. Bam! Disappointment hits you like a ton of bricks and you can immediately feel yourself being pulled in one direction. But the question is, do you let it go there?

The first thing you should do in a situation like  this is to examine yourself. Reflect on what happened and figure out what YOU could have done differently. Now, self reflection is VERY different from self condemnation. Just because you are examining your conscience and seeing what factors could have been at play doesn’t mean that you take on all the blame yourself. Maybe you didn’t express how excited you were for that evening? Maybe you didn’t impress upon your partner how important it was to you? It would be extremely unlikely for you to reach as far as to blame yourself for your partner’s boss asking them to work late. It’s highly unlikely that you had a hand in their decision to stay at the office on a Friday night. Someone else’s decision is not your own and you can’t take responsibility of it. You must examine the situation through the eyes of reality and truth.

Next you must decide whether this disappointment is strong enough to break the foundation your relationship has been built upon. Will you be upset about this in 5 years? Will you remember this in 10? If your bond with your loved one is not strong enough to withstand this situation, it’s time to re-evaluate why you are in the relationship in the first place. Again, true love endures all things… true love only gets stronger when faced with trials and disappointments.

Disappointment is God’s way of steering you in another direction. Maybe you and your partner have an early day on Saturday and it is best that you did not go to that event. Regardless, it’s important to find the lesson and the blessing in each disappointment you experience. They are only learning experiences and one step closer to the goal that God wants you to achieve. And if it is at the hands of someone you love, well, God places people in our lives for specific reasons. Think about it.

Listen to the Advice4Life podcast here.

Can You Handle the Truth?

Give

“You can’t handle the truth!”

I’ll be the first one to put my hands up and say, “Welp, I’m not going to argue with that!”

Hearing the truth can be extremely difficult for us as human beings, especially if it’s the truth about ourselves. What can make it almost unbearable is hearing it from people we love. We’re supposed to be perfect in the eyes of those who love us, right? I mean, that’s what I signed up for.

We want so badly to protect ourselves, we want so badly to be good, we want so badly to be seen as good. But what does life tell us? That sometimes we will fall short. The reality is, hearing and knowing the truth can bring us light and life. The second someone sows into our life, we have the chance and the opportunity to make ourselves better – mentally, spiritually and physically.

There are two parts to truth – receiving it and giving it. Advice4Life talked about how to do both.

Just imagine it, you’re sitting down with your partner and BAM… they tell you, seemingly out of nowhere, about something you could improve about yourself. Does it surprise you? Yes. Does it cut you? Yes. Does it ruin you? It shouldn’t. When a loved one brings you something like that, regardless of how they said it (let’s be real, that can affect the message too) it’s important to remember that God is always wanting to give us truth. He is always wanting to set us free. And what does the truth do? … You got it!

God gives us certain people in our lives to give us these truths. He sends them to speak and sow into our lives. All we have to do is LET them. Yes, it’s uncomfortable. Yes, it’s disconcerting. But it is NECESSARY. Knowing how others perceive you can be essential in growing to be the person God wants and call you to be. Remember this any time your partner wants to tell you “about yourself”. It’ll be awkward, it’ll be tense… but as long as their intention is for you, it’ll be okay.

Now, flip that on its side. What do you do when it is time for YOU to give truth. Ask yourself, am I doing this for me or will this truly help the other person? The second you recognize that you’re about to spill “truth” for your own purpose and not to help improve your partner then stop right there! You shouldn’t want to change or mold your partner into what YOU want. If that’s your intention then mission can be aborted right then and there because the other person will be able to sense that, will feel the need to defend themselves, and then you’ll have full fledged argument on your hands.

When it’s your turn to bring truth into someone’s life, do it because you truly feel your partner can benefit from it in the future. At that point, you can approach the conversation by first celebrating your partner on what he or she does well. Tell them what you truly love about them, re-iterate what you appreciate about them, magnify what you value in them. This way, your partner knows where they stand with you and understand you aren’t coming from a harmful place.

When you are in a relationship with another person, never stop having your intentions be for each other. Tough conversations like this can get tricky, messy and awkward. But once you understand that both of you are coming from a place of love, you’ll be able to grow together for the better.

Listen to the podcast here.

Choose Light. Serve Light.

light

Raise your hand if you are addicted to pain. The truth is, most of us are. Maybe not physical, but definitely emotional. As human beings, we are much more likely to hold on to what hurts us – painful memories, a painful past. We hold on to the things that we should be releasing.

We find pain so alluring because in a way we feel it gives us the excuse to treat anyone any way we want. But pain clouds all judgement and takes us further from who we were meant to be. One of the most painful experiences is becoming aware of our failings or shortcomings. So often, we think we are projecting to other people that we have everything together. We just want to be perfect. We just want to be good enough. It hurts when the times comes that we realize we are not. And that realization comes with a pain that we don’t want to host. We don’t want to host pain so what we are most likely to do is project blame on another person, another thing, or another  circumstance.

But you can choose not to blame. You can choose not to fight. You can choose to live in light.

Family Strengthening teaches us that although we are imperfect beings, seeing ourselves as such doesn’t have to be so hurtful. When you look in the mirror, you can choose to accept whoever you see – blemishes and all. And once we open our eyes to our true selves and our true process, we can move forward in making the adjustments we need to be better people – for ourselves and the ones we love. We can choose to accept that our shortcomings are no one else’s but our own. Our imperfections weren’t brought on by any other person or thing, but of our own hand.So will you choose to stay in darkness? Or will you choose the light?

The moment we recognize that we had control all along, we immediately have the power to change. We have the power to be more positive. We have the power to be more loving. We have the power to be more understanding. The beauty in living up to our own choices is that the power to change our situation has been inside us all this time!  All we have to do is keep our eye on the prize – our ultimate goal of who we want to be in this world and who God wants us to be. Once we know our purpose, all of our decisions have a clear and direct guide as to where they should go. In the end, we realize that we are good enough all along.

Listen to the Advice4Life podcast here.