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Entries in Deb DeArmond (13)

Tuesday
Apr302019

Memos from Mama

Deb DeArmond writes about relationships and her relationship with her mama has some great lessons for all of us. In this Mother's Day UPLIFT, she writes about communicating truth with "mama-inspired" confidence.

"Laughter," Deb says, "is the shock absorber that softens the blows of life."

I (Dawn) am sure we all have fun sayings and words of advice from parents and grandparents. My grandpa's favorite to me was, "Don't just sit there like a lump on a pickle." But Deb's mama was  especially wise.

Deb continues . . .

My head is filled with memos from mama.

  • "The only person who really likes change is a wet baby."
  • "Don't make me take you to the north forty"—the last warning before a spanking.
  • "If you had everything, where would you put it?"

My mother had an interesting and pragmatic outlook on life. And enough unusual expressions to create her own dictionary.

She’s been gone nearly 20 years, and still, I’m stunned at how often in the midst of a challenge, heartbreak or opportunity, I hear her voice.

  • Usually a soft supportive tone, meant to encourage.
  • Occasionally, a bit sharper, to help redirect my thinking when I might not get it quickly enough to make the best choice.

I can’t count the times her words have echoed in my heart and set me on the right path.

Down-to-earth, practical, and no-nonsense advice is tough to come by these days. Sometimes the facts are inconvenient or uncomfortable to address.

And it seems the older I get, the more political correctness and sensitivity training I’m exposed to. I believe it’s caused us to move further from telling it like it is—with love—and the more watered down our message becomes.

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not an advocate for using the truth as a battering ram.

  • I support speaking up when it can advance the cause of Christ.
  • The truth is also essential when we have the opportunity to build up, encourage, or exhort others to live more like Jesus. That is what the word of God asks us to do: “Speak the truth in love...” (Ephesians 4:15a).

Truth is compelling. It has the power to touch the heart and bring our thoughts and actions into alignment with the life Jesus died to redeem.

Facts persuade. Truth transforms.

Here are three practical ways to express truth with mama-inspired confidence.

1. Pray before you speak.

Be certain it’s the truth you’re sharing and not your opinion. It’s a short hop and a skip from expressing our opinion to judgment.

Asking God’s Spirit to help us distinguish between the truth and our opinion fulfills the remainder of the verse in Ephesians 4:15—"let’s grow in every way into Christ.”

The truth is found in Christ, not our version of life as it should be.

2. Truth will set you free, too.

The truth receiver and the truth teller are blessed in the process.

When we walk fully in the truth, we are free—released and confident to share it with others, assured it will convey the message of our heart.

The ability to express our concern comes easily and communicates love, not criticism.

We can’t shame people onto the right path; encouragement and exhortation of God’s word must be the foundation.

3. Don’t over-communicate your message.

Mama’s messages spoke to my heart because they made me think.

Her truth, God’s truth, could become my truth only when communicated with love not lecture.

The battering ram rarely finds an open heart.

Jude 1:20 reminds us to build one another in the faith.

What message is God waiting for you to deliver? What’s holding you back? Fight truth decay and share it—in love—today!

Deb DeArmond is an expert in the fields of communication, relationship, and conflict resolution. Deb’s books help readers create the life God meant marriage and family to be. Read her at: Family Matters/Deb DeArmond.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Bru-nO at Pixabay.

Tuesday
Jan292019

S-E-T Your Marriage Up for Success!

Deb DeArmond loves to help people build sound, godly relationships. In this Marriage UPGRADE she challenges married people to boost their relationship with three important steps.

"Marriage may be easy one day, tough the next," Deb says, "But you can set yourself up to live happily ever after!"

I (Dawn) have experienced this in my nearly 45 years of marriage. Every relationship has its ups and downs, but we don't have to leave our relationships to chance. We can make choices for growth and stability.

Deb continues . . .

I’ve jokingly said I could never divorce my hubby, even on really rough days. But I could explain his sudden disappearance.

Face it, we all have our moments when it’s an uphill journey. So, let’s look at some tips to smooth out the path.

February is 2019 National Marriage Month—a good time to be sure you are S-E-T up to create, enhance or restore the health your marriage deserves.

After 43 years of marriage to my high school sweetheart—he’s still my favorite human—we continue to discover ways to be better together.

Take some time this month to S-E-T yourselves up with a few tools, tips, and tactics to make that easier each day.

S – Speak Up!

I’m grateful for the 400+ married couples who shared their stories with me during my research on the marriage books I’ve written. Surveys, focus groups, and interviews revealed info that stuns me.

The hardest to understand is the hurt, anger, or disappointment spouses experienced, but never shared with one another. Some major, some less so, but consistently damaging. They disclosed info to me they’ve never shared with one another!

When I ask, “Why didn’t you speak up?” the answers are universal:

  • It won’t make any difference.
  • He (she) should have already noticed.
  • I don’t want to hurt or anger my spouse.

Our spouses know us well, but they aren’t mind-readers.

One friend shared he was stunned when his wife filed for divorce. She handed him an exhaustive list of offenses with dates and times going back 18 years. The problem was, it was the first time he’d known about any of it.

So, find your voice and speak up. 

E – Engage Your Spouse

One way to keep communication healthy is to engage your spouse often in conversation. Draw out any issues that he/she may not have disclosed and share your own, too. The reasons are varied, but the bullets under "S" are the top three.

Ask open-ended questions designed to create understanding:

  • “The new job has been overwhelming. I need your help. How would you feel about temporarily taking on more responsibility at home?”
  • “How are you doing with the demand of the new promotion? How can I help?”
  • “You seemed upset I cancelled our plans and we’ve not discussed it. How do you feel about it?”

T – Truth Must Partner with Love

Ephesians 4:15 exhorts us:But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ” (CSB).

Truth spoken without love doesn’t land well and seldom creates the intended outcome.

Truth expressed in anger, frustration, or hurt is still truth—but comes across as an attack and rarely changes hearts or minds. It often creates or escalates isolation.

Truth is most effective when we’ve managed our negative feelings and communicated with love.

Connect to create shared understanding is the goal.

It may require we delay the conversation, but we don’t defer it indefinitely. Once communicated, we can find our way to a Godly solution together.

Don’t delay! S-E-T yourself up for success today!

Which of the "S-E-T yourself up" tips could help your marriage most right now? Why? What would be different if you implemented these steps? How might your choices contribute to positive change in your marriage?

Deb DeArmond’s passion is family—not just her own, but the relationships within families in general. Her first bookRelated by Chance, Family by Choice: Transforming the Mother-in-Law and Daughter-in-Law Relationships explores tools and tips to building sound relationships between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law. Book #2, I Choose You Today, helps couples strengthen their marriages. Deb's newest book on marital conflict, Don't Go to Bed Angry, Stay Up and Fight! was co-authored by her husband, Ron. They live in the Fort Worth area. For more about Deb, visit her "Family Matters" site.

Graphic 1 adapted, courtesy of D. Williams at Pixabay. Graphic 2 adapted, courtesty of Yolanda Sun at Unsplash.

Thursday
Jul192018

Connection 101: Girl-friendship Is a Gift

Deb DeArmond cares about relationships—all kinds of relationships. In this Friendship UPGRADE, she offers insight to help us cultivate our friendships with other women.

It’s the test," Deb says, "of any friendship: the vacation without husbands, kids or other friends to cushion the shock of 24 hours together. On the ocean. In a cabin. For seven days."

That sounds heavenly to me (Dawn), but I'm sure there could be challenges. It's important we learn to grow up in our friendships.

Deb continues . . .

It was a bit on the early side of the Alaska cruise season, so Cindy and I landed an incredible upgrade with spacious digs, attentive staff, and a week of total luxury.

Fabulous meals, beautiful ports, and interesting folks on board.

And a lot of togetherness.

Girl-friendships, even for Christians, have often been challenging.

“Am I her favorite? Does she like me best?”

Remember in third grade, when the “new girl” was introduced to the class? We eyed her nervously, concerned she’d replace us in our bestie’s heart. We worked for that position and protected it fiercely. 

Step back, newbie. She’s mine.

We may be adults, but women still compete for that top spot—and the enemy will try to use these relationship needs against us if we’re not careful. 

I’m blessed to say it’s something Cindy and I have not struggled with.

Why not?

She and I are an unlikely twosome. Californians, now living in Texas. Close in age, married 40+ years. Adult kids and grandbabes. But that’s about it.

We’re wired differently, choose different hobbies, and we think differently; our needs and preferences are dissimilar. We’re an odd couple.

But that doesn’t mean we aren’t compatible—we both love God and His Word fiercely.

God created us to need others.

  • Read Genesis. Even though God was with Adam from the start, He saw the need and created Eve.
  • The disciples numbered twelve, but three—Peter, James, and John—were those Jesus held close in the best and worst of times.
  • David and Jonathan.
  • Ruth and Naomi.

It’s a biblical pattern. We need relationship.

Cindy and I discussed our friendship on the cruise. That it’s risen to the level of importance it holds in our lives is surprising.

Here was our Alaskan epiphany: we don’t compete. With one another or for one another’s affection, time, and that all-important top spot in one another’s life.

We’re never fearful the other is “cheating” on us with other friends.

We have other friends. Close friends. And we’re grateful for each of them: colleagues, neighbors, quilting buddies, and writing partners.

We don’t see one another as often as we’d like. But we do life together, just not usually in the same place.

We don’t live in one another’s pockets. We can’t. She recently moved three hours away, but the distance has deepened our relationship.

We’re more intentional about staying connected.

So maybe that, too, is a gift. If we need one another—for any reason, day or night—we’re available and fully present.

We’ve confided in one another, knowing it’s “in the vault.”  Trusted. No judgment. A genuine gift from the Lord.

How do we do it? Here are three tips we discovered.

1. We have healthy expectations of one another.

She doesn’t need me to provide what only God can deliver. I’ve not made her the center of my emotional well-being—that’s His job.

Sometimes when women are lonely or need encouragement they turn to their bestie instead of God. Not in addition to God, but instead. If that one gets mixed up, it’s a quick trip to trouble.

2. We rely on one another—for companionship, truth telling when needed, mercy (always needed) and the joy of experiencing life with one who helps to make the other better.

I can count on her to sharpen me, challenge me and pray for me. She depends on me for the same.

3. We are champions for one another.

Because we don’t compete, we can genuinely celebrate the other’s success. Everyone needs a cheerleader!

God expects us to grow up, and that includes our friendships.

“When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things” (1 Cor. 13:11 NLT).

I’d like to have the energy and youthfulness I had in third grade or the calorie burning ability of days playing hopscotch. But I’ll take grown-up God-given relationships over those schoolyard alliances any day!

Which of those three tips need improving in your own friendships?

Deb DeArmond’s passion is family—not just her own, but the relationships within families in general. Her first bookRelated by Chance, Family by Choice: Transforming the Mother-in-Law and Daughter-in-Law Relationships explores tools and tips to building sound relationships between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law. Book #2, I Choose You Today, helps couples strengthen their marriages. Deb's newest book on marital conflict, Don't Go to Bed Angry, Stay Up and Fight! was co-authored by her husband, Ron. They live in the Fort Worth area. For more about Deb, visit her "Family Matters" site.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of RawPixel at Pixabay.

Tuesday
Jan232018

Bounce, Don't Break

Deb DeArmond is passionate about family matters, and she encourages healthy interactions in all kinds of relationships. But in this Spiritual Growth UPGRADE, she helps us deal with recurring struggles and trials.

"Returning struggles. Just when you think you've cleared the hurdle, they present again," Deb says. "They can sap your strength, shake your confidence, and cause you to question God. How to manage? Bounce, don't break!"

I (Dawn) just dealt with a recurring struggle in early January. "I thought I'd already dealt with that," I said. It made me feel weak as I reeled in confusion. But I attest to what Deb is saying. Resiliency as we trust in Christ enables us to move forward.

Deb continues . . .

I could see her out of the corner of my eye. She was watching me. Again.

She wasn’t a creepy stranger on the street, but a trusted colleague. Her intentions were good, but it was uncomfortable.

Carrie was one of a handful of co-workers who knew of my heart problem. She’d been with me—on the road two years earlier—when it began. I knew she was concerned; our work assignment this day brought heat and elevation into the equation. Both could create issues for me. And they did.

After my initial diagnosis, I had surgery that corrected the problem.

The doctor was sure it would not re-emerge. He was wrong. A year later, a second surgery and more assurances felt less certain for a permanent solution. I felt great for five months, and then it returned.

And now Carrie, and a handful of others, made it their personal mission to watch me like a hawk.

I never questioned their motives, but the fact they felt the need to monitor me made me feel old, frail, and weak. I am none of those things. But there are days, I work hard to convince myself of that truth.

Returning struggles.

Just when you think you've cleared the hurdle, they present again. And whether they're health problems, financial struggles or any recurring hardships—they can sap your strength, shake your confidence, and cause you to question God.

So, what's the key to keep moving forward with peace and confidence?

BOUNCE—don't break.

B — BELIEVE.

Our confidence is in God's faithfulness.

He loves His children and strengthens us for the situation, even when He doesn't remove it. I've discovered new levels of certainty that He's ever present.

O — OFFER

Offer thanksgiving and praise for the solution.

Faith is trust in God that doesn't demand He deliver on our timetable. Honor Him by trusting His Word.

U — UNDERSTAND

Understand you may not understand.

As toddlers, our favorite question was "Why?" As adults, we are just taller two-year-olds—with an overwhelming need for an answer.

Sometimes God provides us that insight; sometimes He does not. Be okay with not knowing.

N —NAVIGATE

Navigate your new normal.

  • Curb spending on restaurant meals.
  • Consider how best to invest your energy level each day.
  • Accommodate changes that minimize the impact of the issue.

C — COMMUNICATE

Communicate with family and trusted friends about your circumstances, especially when it's health related.

The colleagues I travel with know what to do if I have an issue. They know how to access the information on my phone and are clear about the details that would be needed in an emergency.

E —EDUCATE

Educate yourself in the promises of God's Word and the issues you face.

  • Financial problem? Take a class on financial stewardship.
  • Health issue? Ask your physician for information and suggestions for books or articles that can help you learn about your options.

What does the Bible say about struggles?

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” James 1:2-4 (ESV).

Blessed are the FLEXIBLE, for they shall not break!

What can you do to bounce into action?

Deb DeArmond’s passion is family—not just her own, but the relationships within families in general. Her first book, Related by Chance, Family by Choice: Transforming the Mother-in-Law and Daughter-in-Law Relationships explores tools and tips to building sound relationships between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law. Book #2, I Choose You Today, helps couples strengthen their marriages. Deb's new book on marital conflict, Don't Go to Bed Angry, Stay Up and Fight! was co-authored by her husband, Ron. They live in the Fort Worth area. For more about Deb, visit her "Family Matters" site.

Thursday
Aug312017

The In-law Connection: It's Your Move

Deb DeArmond helps people improve their interactions at work and at home. She specializes in family dynamics, and in this Relationship UPGRADE, she focuses on the "in-law connection."

“I’ve known outlaw in-laws who prey on one another," Deb says. "It shouldn't be so.”

Outlaw in-laws? Oh, my. I (Dawn) have seen that far too often, and even in the church! I always admired the relationship between Naomi and her daughter-in-law, Rutha good example of in-law connection. Deb has some wise counsel for us if that connection isn't strong.

Deb continues . . .

  • When my three sons were little, I knew there’d never be a woman good enough for them.
  • When they hit their teens, I feared I'd never find a woman to take them off my hands.

I need not have worried.

They brought three wonderful young women into the family, and I am thrilled. All love Jesus and each is dedicated to my son and their family.

God was clear:

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife” (Genesis 2:24a NKJV).

A redhead, a brunette, and a blonde—as diverse in personality as in hair color.

Not only are the girls distinct in their personalities, mine is the fourth in the mix. And I’m glad to report we love one another deeply, and we’re grateful God brought us together.

Friends often ask, “You’re not just friendly, you’re family. How’d you do that?”

The answer’s simple: patience, perseverance, and a desire to please Jesus on the journey.

I had to learn how to develop my relationship with each of these gals as individuals. Because what worked with DIL (Daughter-in-Law) #1 would not necessarily work with #2 and #3. 

Sarah entered our lives as Jordan’s “friend” at 13 years old; they married at 19.

Heather was 16 when Cameron introduced her to us; they married four years later.

With both of these beauties, I had time on my side, and we developed our relationships as they grew up. I witnessed their transformation from girls to women.

Bryce and Penny had a short courtship: four months. At 28, she was grown up when I met her, so this was very different.

Penny’s a runner, an avid reader, and a gifted writer. I knew nothing about marathons or writing when we met. She’s not shy, but she’s a bit introverted.

I wanted to connect, but I wasn’t sure how.

I know women who feel disconnected from their daughters-in-law.

“It’s not bad, but it’s not good. Truthfully, it’s not anything,” said one woman. “There’s no bad blood, but there’s no connection. It’s like she forgets my son has a mother, until we’re together, and then it’s awkward.”

Another friend shared her experience,

“My son married a woman with three sisters and all are close to their mother. At holidays, they all chat together, finishing one another’s sentences, and I’m excluded. I’m sitting right there, but it’s like I’m invisible. It’s devastating.” 

I hoped Penny and I might be close. I loved her from the start. So, I asked God to help me develop our relationship.

Here’s what worked for me that might work for you, too!

1. Ask about Her Interests.

Ask her what she enjoys about running or homeschooling. People love to share their passions. It was Penny’s love of writing that prompted me to get serious about mine. It’s now something we share.

2. Invite Her Opinion.

Instead of planning the holidays yourself, invite her to help. She has an opinion, so ask her to share it. You might discover how creative she is, and sharing the responsibility takes pressure off you.

Some of the best conversations with my DILs are in the kitchen as we cooked together. The shared activity makes the chatter more comfortable. 

3. Tell Her What You Value About Her.

  • Is she a great mom? Tell her, specifically, why you think she’s a rock star.
  • Good cook? Compliment her meals, and ask for recipes!
  • Successful professional? Ask about her work and let her know you admire her accomplishments.

If it’s uncomfortable face to face, drop her a note, or brag on her (in front of her) to other family members.

4. Pray for Her

It’s impossible to pray genuinely for God’s favor and direction in her life, while constantly criticizing her.

Pray, genuinely, and see how your love for her (and your attitude) changes.

If your MIL (Mother-in-law) is the standoffish one, you could use the same tactics on her.

So, it’s your move. Why not start today?

Deb DeArmond is an expert in the fields of communication, relationship, and conflict resolution. Her book on in-law relationships, is entitled Related by Chance, Family by Choice! Deb’s books help readers create the life God meant marriage and family to be. Read more from Deb at Family Matters/Deb DeArmond.

Graphic adapted - Blog owner seeking source to credit.