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Advice4Life Take 2: Take Your Wife on a Vacation NOW!

baggageWhen’s the last time you and your spouse went away together? Now I’m not talking about a quick date night to the local pizza parlor, but actually hopped in the car and drove off to a distant land?

Some people see vacation as a luxury, but I see vacation as a NECESSITY. Especially if it’s the chance to go somewhere with your significant other. The reason is simple, in order to thrive you must be continuously stimulated and you can’t be stimulated if you’re looking at the same things day in and day out. So in order to thrive in your relationship, you have to occasionally change your environment!

Magic tends to happen when you decide to go on vacation. Here are the Top 3 moments you can take away from the experience:

  1. You get a chance to say what’s in your heart in a new environment… people tend to be more open and honest in unfamiliar surroundings
  2. You get the chance to get away from things that cause your relationship to not be your focal point… your relationship should be the priority and not seen as an interruption
  3. You’re given the opportunity to refresh and restart with contentment… food and drinks are abundant, the weather is perfect… you and your significant other can’t possibly find something to argue about

So if you feel like you’re stuck in a place of discontent, if you’re at each other’s throats, if you’re finding it hard to be an active member in the relationship… pack yours and your spouse’s things and vacate! Leave it all behind to focus on the future.

For more tips like this, listen to #Advice4Life’s podcast here.

A Gift to Remember


A few years ago, I visited my grandmother one afternoon after she had taken a weekend trip to New York. After asking her how her trip had been, hearing about how my family was doing in that neck of the woods, and just an overall report on New York itself, she  proceeded to reach over to her night stand and handed me a small container, about the size of my palm and in the shape of a guitar. Elvis’s face was painted on and Hard Rock Café’s logo was scrawled across the front. “Do you like this?” she asked me. I nodded and held my hand out to receive her gift. A pack of mints. That pack of mints still sits on my bedside table, plastic sealing still in tact to this day. Boy, did I hold on to those mints like they were diamonds.

Isn’t it special when someone gives you a gift? There’s even a specific love language for it: receiving gifts. But people whose love language it is to receive gifts are getting a bad rep. Sometimes others think that they’re being superficial and materialistic. But the gifts that this group receives aren’t really about the item itself. It’s not that I’m holding on to those mints for a special occasion or I think there’s a hidden prize inside, but that simple item had so much meaning behind it. My grandmother has over 20 grandchildren, but only 1 pack of mints, and she gave it to me. To ME!

When you come across someone whose love language is receiving gifts there’s one important thing to remember: be thoughtful. Have joy when you are giving this person a gift and they will have joy upon receiving it. After all, they have just as much joy giving as well. A tangible sign of “I love you” goes a long way, even if it’s something like a flower picked off the ground. They see it and they know, “this is mine because you loved me enough to give it to me.”

See, people who enjoy receiving gifts aren’t looking for expensive jewelry or an outrageous car; they are looking to see the heartfelt action. They need to see things to know you care. Having that tangible item in their possession, that tangible sign of your affection,  will give them a feeling that will last for years to come.

So if you see something across your path today that reminds you of your loved one, if it brings you as much joy as your loved one does, give it to them. You never know what kind of impact it can make.

Learn more on Advice4Life by clicking here.

Great Expectations


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!


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.

Learn more about Advice4Life here.



Wants Vs. Needs


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 Struggle with Forgiveness


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:


Can You Handle the Truth?


“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.


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.

Just Ask


Things are often lost in translation. The words we say, the things we do… someone will always interpret it differently than what was actually intended. So if there is a discrepancy in someone’s words or behaviors, why don’t we just… ask?

In this day and time we are so quick to character assassinate someone the second they have offended us. We get so up in arms that we often fail to uphold our role as a loving partner, friend, or family member. But in moments like these,  we get so lost in our own thoughts and feelings. When someone says or does something wrong to us, we tend to shut down and all we can hear is ourselves. Even if we’re not saying anything, what we don’t realize is that if it’s in our heads, then it’s in our hearts.  Instead of closing in around yourself, open up! Open yourself so much that you are willing to hear what the other person has to give you – even if it might be negative.

It’s inevitable that the people we love will say things that will not sit well with us. We can choose to internalize their words, wrap them around our brain, and draw a funny picture of what we thought they said. Or… you can seek clarity. One way to do this is to repeat back what you think you heard. This gives your partner the chance to clarify, correct or redirect you to what they really meant.

See, it’s important for us to recognize that God has put certain people in our lives for a reason. And if that reason is to tell us about ourselves- so be it. When we enter into a relationship with another person, we are giving them permission to speak and sow into our lives. If you’re not willing to accept what another person is giving you, why be in a relationship at all? And when we have allowed someone to speak into our lives, it’s not our job to be the judge and jury of what they’re saying.

This brings me to a third way you can ensure the success of your relationship. It’s our job to truly believe that the other person’s intention is good. If it’s in your head that your partner is just out to get you, you will be so ready to defend and unwilling to listen. If we believe that our partner just wants the best for us, the best for themselves, and the best for the relationship, it will be so much easier to hear what they need to say.

So the next time you decide that you know exactly what your partner was saying, just to be sure… ask. Or repeat what you heard them say. You never know if there’s something else they’re trying to give you.

Listen to the Advice4Life podcast here.

Commitment: Not Just a Choice, but a Way of Life

houseLet’s say you build a house. Inside you have everything you hold so dear – your possessions, your family, your pets. But a storm comes and washes your home away. What did you build your house on? Solid or shaky ground? That house held everything and everyone you loved, and in a flash it was gone. This is exactly how some of us choose to build our lives with other people. Hurriedly, shakily, insubstantially. 

A new year calls for people to take a look at their commitment capabilities, whether it’s making a commitment to a weight loss goal or making a commitment to changing a bad habit. But what if we need to take a look at another commitment… the commitment to each other.

Sure when I say this, you’ll probably glance down at your hand, see a ring and think “That’s enough commitment right there.” But in reality, commitment can’t be summed up by an object, it is a choice you have to make each and every day. It started the very moment you began the relationship and it doesn’t only  occur when something pretty walks your way. No, the choice to commit is in how you choose to receive what your partner gives you, it’s in the choice of what you say to someone you love, most of all it’s what you choose to do in any tough situation.  Commitment is to stick with your partner through the good, the bad, and the inevitable ugly.

It’s so easy to say you’re committed to your partner when everything is just hunky dory, sunshine and butterflies. But how committed are you when you and your partner are going through your own storm? Will you let it all just wash away? What if he or she says something hurtful or does something offensive. Do you still choose them? Or do you  give up and walk away? This is the crossroad that you will face each and every day.

Relationships can’t be built on wavering ground; the foundation should be strong and steadfast. Yes, your partner will hurt you and it will probably feel worse than a friend or family member doing the same exact thing. But this is what comes with loving someone… being ready to withstand a certain level of discomfort or pain. In order to grow yourself and with someone else, there will be undoubtedly be aches and pains. You will learn so much more about each other  and much more about yourself when you decide to stick it out, and  when you make the commitment to see your relationship through, your bond becomes that much stronger and the things that will etch away at what you build will becomes weaker and weaker.

So when you’re working on building something, be as strong as what you hope the end result will be. Be steadfast, be unwavering, be committed. 

Listen to the Advice4Life podcast here.