Category Archives: fresh start

Looking for a Job…or the Next Job? – 4 Ideas to Consider

Blog - Do Over #2

When you need a job, or a new job, you are in a tender place. I will treat that place with honor. You have gifts, experience, and workplace wisdom that are needed somewhere…so please don’t despair. Any bitterness that could be taking root in your heart will only get in your way. You have choices, more than you think. You have probably had more advice than you can even follow, so I don’t want to burden you with another load of it. Just 4 ideas.

  1. Read an encouraging and practical book.  For me, that book is Jon Acuff’s Do Over. Acuff gives sound counsel, mixed with fun stories, about how to get on with your life in the marketplace. In fact, I wrote 5 blogs on his book (see links below). I leave out the stories, but his “next steps” are extremely helpful and sometimes surprisingly counter-intuitive. He boosts the reader’s confidence in a genuine way and  doing the exercises in his book can make a huge difference in job hunting. So much affirmation…real affirmation.
  2. Network with lots of people. It’s not just about “who you know”. It’s also about “who knows you”. Sometimes we don’t even recognize our own strengths (OR weaknesses). Trusted friends or even respected acquaintances can give you much-needed food for thought and action. Maybe you don’t even know what to do, job-wise – your future is wide open but looks (to you) very dark. Input from others who care about you or who are caring, in general, can help you focus. You may not have even considered what they may be telling you – either about your own hireability or the job market itself. Listen and learn. P.S. Don’t go to them for a job; go to them for wisdom about getting a job.
  3. Try something completely new. The film The Intern with Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway speaks to this something new. A 70-year-old takes an internship in a cool successful company. Funny and winsome and could be one of us, right? Then I have also been hearing a lot lately about advanced manufacturing and the need for apprentices in this field. You may have a “white collar” education that could be more finely tuned with some “blue collar” experience. Those terms may be antiquated with the blurring of boundaries in our more technology-rich manufacturing companies. You could be that intern or apprentice.

4. Consider working with a head-hunter or job placement agency. In a conference recently, I heard Michael Thompson, founder and CEO of Turas Group, speak to a group of job-seekers. His approach was warm and positive. In that half-hour session, he gave strong individualized counsel to each person, based on what information they had already sent them. Counsel that helped everyone in the room really, but also individualized to each person’s needs. He also asks really good questions which is incredibly helpful for clarification – when you really don’t know what to do next.

One thing Thompson expressed was the importance of doing lots of interviews. His counsel included: a) prepare and do research to know your interviewers; b) arrive early; c) have your 60 second pitch down; d) – smile a lot, have energy, be excited and maintain eye contact; e) answer directly and concisely; and finally f) if you don’t know the answer to a question, share that, but then offer what you would do (especially if you’ve never done that something needed). Thompson also encouraged the participants to join LinkedIn (a global online professional network).Blog - Friday Faves - Turas Group

Whether you’re just out of college or you find yourself in the throes of a company downsizing, you know something of what you offer any employer. Allow these 4 ideas to fill in some of the holes you can’t see that would make job hunting a less painful and more productive endeavor.

As to dealing with the disappointment of not finding a job right out of school, or the loss of satisfying work you loved, please don’t let that define you. You have choices…maybe very different that you first imagined, but you have them. Make those lists of strengths and people of influence in your life as Jon Acuff advises; talk (well, listen more) to friends and advocates; and stay open to a real positive turn in your career. Finally, I personally would add “Pray” to all this. Prayer will help you to not panic or grow bitter when your emotional energy would better serve your pursuit of that job – the one you can’t imagine right now. Remember who you are and Whose you are.

Any comments on what has helped you or what is sustaining you in your job hunt? Please share below.

Do Over – Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck – by Jon Acuff – Notes (Part 1)

Do Over – Jon Acuff on Work Relationships – Notes (Part 2 of Do Over Series)

10 Quotes by Jon Acuff on Developing New Skills & Sharpening Old Ones – Part 3 of Do Over Series

Jon Acuff on Character at Work – 9 Quotes & a Challenge – Part 4 of the Do Over Series

Jon Acuff on the Role of Hustle in Taking Hold of Career Opportunities – Notes & Quotes – Part 5 of Do Over Series

Turas Group – Michael Thompson, CEO – Michael@turasgroup.com – or connect via LinkedIn

Tips for a Successful Job Search – Tulane University

TGIM – What Can We Do to Make a “Thank God It’s Monday” Work Culture?

Blog - Thank God It's Monday - bridgepointconnections.org

Photo Credit: BridgeportConnections.org

Don’t hate me, but I’ve always loved Mondays. Mondays read a fresh start for me…a clean slate. New possibilities. Sunday nights would sometimes mean a bout of anxiety or a bit of depression in my questioning of being mentally prepared for whatever Monday brought. All that cleared by the time I stepped outside, into my car, and headed for work.

TGIF (“Thank God/Goodness, it’s Friday!”) was never something I understood. It was hard for me to fathom grinding through a work week, longing for Friday. There’s a rhythm in work, requiring a certain number of days at it, and by Friday, I was ready for a break, but “living for the weekend” wasn’t my thinking on work.

This past Friday was an exception. Pressures at work did spill out over the purpose and pleasure of work such that Friday came just in time. So…I do understand TGIF. Still, it’s clear that God created work for us and I usually take joy in it. Hopefully this resonates with some of you…with others, maybe you might consider how TGIF could make room for TGIM as well.

Tim Hoerr, author of Risking It: An Intersection of Faith and Work, wrote an excellent piece on Building a “Thank God It’s Monday”. It’s a quick read and I strongly recommend it for anyone who struggles with taking joy in their work. It is possible to change your culture.

How does Tim Hoerr define a TGIM Culture?

  • TGIM culture: each team member engaging in challenging, meaningful work – each knowing that their individual contribution is a significant, integral part of the larger whole.
  • Second, each person has ample opportunity for growth and advancement. God has wired each of us to grow and desire new, richer experiences. Entrepreneurial environments are greenhouses for human growth.
  • Another feature of TGIM culture is that each team member and his or her efforts and contributions are being recognized by the company’s leadership. It doesn’t have to be terribly formal or fancy – but each of us want to know we matter and our work is making a difference.
  • TGIM culture means that the fruits of success are being shared by each of those making a contribution to that success. Although surveys show that compensation ranks relatively far down the list of what makes one satisfied, it is essential that the rewards be fairly shared amongst the team.

After defining a TGIM work culture, Hoerr gives a historic example, completely relevant to today’s workplace.

“If you examine the ‘work environment’ Jesus created with his ordinary band of followers, you’d have to say it was a template for our organizations today.”  Then Hoerr lists those components:

  • There was a common mission.
  • A series of challenging assignments.
  • Regular dialogue and interaction amongst the team.
  • Teaching and training in order to replicate the mission on a broader scale.
  • And, importantly, Jesus as the leader facilitating the larger purpose amidst his team’s diverse personalities and all-too-human tendencies.

Don’t miss the rest of Tim Hoerr’s piece on TGIM Culture.

Is the TGIM culture cultivated in your workplace? How might you see the components above implemented where you are – whether top-down or bottom-up? You can be part of making your work and workplace one where you look forward to Monday rather than just longing for Friday.

Tim Hoerr Website and original blog – Building a “Thank God It’s Monday” Culture

Building a “Thank God It’s Monday” Culture – featured at Institute for Faith, Work, & Economics Blog

Bridgeport Connections – Connecting Professional and Spiritual Life

All the “One Another” Commands in the NT (Infographic)

12 Ways to Glorify God at Work

Risking It: An Intersection of Faith and Work by Tim Hoerr

Blog - Thank God It's Monday - Risking It by Tim Hoerr

Photo Credit: Amazon.com

Worship Wednesday – Til I Met You – Laura Story

Debbie - self-portrait

“I will restore to you the years of the locusts…” – Joel 2:25

If ever a song spoke to my deepest heart hurts, it’s this one. Laura Story’s Til I Met You. In my younger years, even after coming to faith in God as a child, I strayed far from Him. If you were a casual friend, you might not have noticed. I was in church, and fairly religious. That was the problem…I spent years tuning my affections toward the cheap shininess of the world, and missed a joy-filled intimacy with God…all at that same time.

He wasn’t the One who moved. I had walked away…deceiving myself that I was still following Him, serving Him, devoted to Him.

Then, like the Prodigal Son, I woke up to the darkness in my own heart and remembered where I belonged. By God’s grace, I crawled out of the pit dug with my own poor choices. Laura Story’s song Til I Met You could be my testament of a life restored – not by my own resolve or a force of nature but – a genuine encounter with God Himself.

I first met God as a nine-year-old. Unchurched until two years before, I was not schooled in the person of God. Even as a child, I became an eager student of Him. The Truth of God’s Word was so freeing for my little heavy heart. Even then, I knew the weight of sin – the wanting to be good and kind and helpful and the chronic tripping over myself in failure.

When I heard it was possible to be forgiven of that sin and to experience the power of God in my life, enabling me to become more and more like Jesus, I was completely captivated and drawn to Him.

Three different occasions I lost touch with God and my place as His child. Brief but significant periods in my mid-teens, mid-20s, and mid-30s. Sin and self-justification had wormed their way into my heart. For a season, even in the midst of being involved with church, I went my own way. The joy and peace that were mine in following Christ drained out of me as if I were a cracked vessel.

Then, like in Laura Story’s song, the darkness of my sin and deception was illuminated by the Spirit of God, and I saw what mattered. What really mattered. My relationship with the Lord.

It’s been many years now, and the Prodigal is home for good. I understand so well Peter’s response to Jesus, when Jesus asked His disciples if they would leave Him:

So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. “We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”John 6:67-69

When we have an encounter with God, and receive Him in saving faith, He begins a transformation in us that trumps anything the world holds out there for us. He adopts us into His family; we are His. What happened before…the terrible choices, the regret, the brokenness – are carried away by His perfect love for His children.

Worship with me. If you are still struggling in some dark pit of your own choosing, He will set you free from that. I know. He did it for me.

I’ve known pain and deep regret
I’ve known the weight of my mistakes like the back of my hand
I’ve known deception and all its games
I’ve known the way it feels to drown in my own shame

But I never knew love
I never knew truth
I never peace, the sweet release that brought me through
I never knew freedom, what grace could do
The broken chains, the hope that saves, a life made new
Till I met You.

I’ve known rejections
I’ve bought the lie that I could never overcome the hurt inside
With arms of mercy You reach for me
Tore the veil away and gave me eyes to see
You’re all I need

And I never knew love
I never knew truth
I never peace, the sweet release that brought me through
I never knew freedom, what grace could do
The broken chains, the hope that saves, a life made new
Till I met You (I’m accepting I was hopeless)
Till I met You (I was stumbling in the darkness)

I never knew love
I never knew truth
I never peace, the sweet release; You’re the one Who brought me through.
And I never knew freedom, what grace could do
The broken chains, the hope that saves, a life made new
Till I met You (till I met You)
Till I met You (till I met You)
Till I met You

Do You Know Jesus? – The Gospel in Four Minutes

Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus – Spoken Word – Jefferson Bethke

Lyrics to Til I Met You

YoUTube Video – Official Lyric Video – Til I Met You – Laura Story

Story Behind the Song – Til I Met You

Laura Story Music

Jon Acuff on the Role of Hustle in Taking Hold of Career Opportunities – Notes & Quotes – Part 5 of Do Over Series

Blog - Hustle - Jon AcuffTurning that last page of a great book is both satisfying and a bit sad. Satisfying in that I have gained so much insight and empowerment in reading Jon Acuff’s Do Over. Sad in that I will miss this super-practical literary journey with Acuff. Such a great read and such a fascinating journey. Looking forward to your next project, Jon.

[Jon Acuff’s words are in italics or bold font. Enjoy.]

Jon starts his section on hustle with a quote by Jack Gilbert: “Music is in the piano only when it is played.” Writing as a not-so-musical member of a musical family, I resonate with this.

In Do Over, hustle is defined as “shorthand for ‘work hard’. Hustle is not just something we add to our Career Savings Account. It is something that multiples everything else we have in it.”

Remember Jon’s formula in Do Over:

(Relationships + Skills + Character) x Hustle = Career Savings Account

To apply hustle, you need grit, flexibility and awareness. As I plowed through Jon Acuff’s writing on hustle, it became very clear that to go after our dreams we have to let go of fear and doubt, all the “what-if’s”, and take hold of what we have to do to get us where we hope to go. It’s work. It’s doable, but we can’t go into it half-way. It takes grit.

“Fear hates hustle. Nothing enrages fear like deciding to actually work hard…Grit is being stubborn in the face of fear. Grit is believing in can when can’t is loud.” – Jon Acuff

Stephen Pressfield says, “The amateur believes he must first overcome his fear; then he can do his work. The professional knows that fear can never be overcome. He knows there is no such thing as a fearless warrior or a dread-free artist.” (p. 213)

Nathan at guitarPhoto Credit: nathanmillsguitar.com

Flexibility enters in when you refuse to have a narrow view of perfection or success. Instead of believing fear’s lie of “I don’t have what it takes,” flexibility gives you the courage to say, “I have what it takes to try.”

Blog - Hustle 8

“Fear is not the same thing as regret. Regret is a small stream that cuts a canyon into your heart slowly over time. Will you face the fear of today or the regret of forever? Will you attack your fear of failure, maybe even fail and try again?” – Jon Acuff

Make Grit Decisions.

Here is what Jon says every grit decision needs:

  • Time – we think the world “hustle” has to mean fast, but it can also mean focus, intention, pace.
  • Counsel – Lean on your relationships. Some of the worst decisions are made alone. Who are your advocates? Have you given them time to reflect on it or are you rushing right by the wisdom they have to offer? Let them speak into it. A year from now, looking back on the decision, you’ll be glad you made it as a team.
  • Questions – Always ask awesome opportunities, awesome questions. We skimp on due diligence. “What am I not seeing right now?”
  • Kindness – Give yourself permission to make the wrong decision, because…you’re going to. Break the tension of feeling like you’re going to be perfect by giving yourself some kindness from the outset.
  • Honesty – When you look back on a decision, remember that you made that decision with the best information you had at the time.

Acuff encourages the reader to build a Grit List – those things you may not want to do but you know they are the things that will get you in position to take advantage of that career opportunity (stronger relationships, sharpened skills, deeper character). For Jon, one of those things was e-mail. He reconciled the hard work of writing and responding to e-mail in a wise and timely fashion. What would be on your Grit List?

Be aware. “The first half of hustle is addition [new relationships, new skills and new character], but you don’t get to add anything to your life unless you remove something else…You’ll need to find space in your life. “

Blog - Jon Acuff on HustlePhoto Credit: acuff.me

My husband says, “Whenever you say yes to something, you have to say no to something else.” What will you say no to, to say yes to this?

In review, at some point during your career you will:

  • Hit a Career Ceiling and get stuck, requiring sharp skills to free yourself.
  • Lose a job unexpectedly, or need one upon graduating, requiring strong relationships to survive.
  • Make a Career Jump, requiring solid character to navigate the chaos that jumps always generate.
  • And finally, in the case of hustle, you will get a surprise opportunity you didn’t see coming, requiring smart hustle to make the most of it. In moments like that, you’ll need awareness to recognize what to do, grit to actually do it and flexibility to respond to the surprises.

Jon tells story after story in his section on Hustle about ordinary people who overcame their fears and doubts and worked hard to have the careers they wanted. “Every Do Over avoided because of fear fails. Hustle, grit, and flexibility is ‘crawling through a window when the door is slammed shut.'”

“Let no one be deluded that a knowledge of the path can substitute for putting one foot in front of the other.” – Mary Caroline Richards

Why not me? Why not now? Why not here?

“You really think you can do this?” You’ve probably asked yourself that question. Fear loves that question. On a walk in the woods, on a calm spring day I answered it for myself. “Apparently, I can.”

Finally Jon Acuff looks us straight in the eye, kindly, and says, “I think that can be your answer too. Do you think you can have a Do Over?

Apparently, you can.

[Buy Jon’s book, subscribe to his blog, follow him on Facebook and Twitter, listen to his podcasts. I don’t say this casually. He has won an audience by doing all the hard things he encourages the reader to do and then sharing what he’s learned for pennies when you think how much your life is worth. I’m on my own Do Over. Going for it. Thanks again, Jon.]

Blog - Do Over with Jon AcuffPhoto Credit: SmartCreativeWomen.com

My Previous Blogs on Jon Acuff’s Do Over – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 – Today’s Blog is final piece in Series

YouTube Video – Jon Acuff’s Top Tips on Hustle (in 1 Minute)

Jon Acuff Hustle Archives

Jon Acuff Starts Over

Start: Jon Acuff on Rescuing Time, Hustle, and His Book Start – Podcast

What Hustling Means, with Jon Acuff – Podcast

Jon Acuff on Character at Work – 9 Quotes & a Challenge – Part 4 of the Do Over Series

Blog - Jon Acuff & wife JennyPhoto Credit: Nancy Ray Photography

Who would have thought reading a business book would become a deeply personal experience? Encouraging. Empowering. Do Over has launched itself in my life. Jon (the writer) and Jenny (the wife) Acuff have become like good friends, in a virtual book-driven way. He’s clearly a funny, risk-taking, keen observer of people in the workplace.  She, on the other hand, seems to both hold his feet to the ground and spur him on to what’s next. I’m pretty certain that Jon’s “do over” has Jenny written all over it. Thank you, Jenny.

When he talks about character (in the section of the book I’m covering today), he compares it to planting fruit trees. Character takes time to grow. Its fruit is worth the work and the wait.

As in previous blogs in this series, Jon will do most of the talking.

9 quotes follow. Also an exercise and a closing challenge. I hope you read the book. It is seriously, or not so much seriously, like grappling with a friend about a deep longing for career. Then receiving the best. advice. ever. Jon’s cool, and all…but his own fight for humility and honesty and his own fears and failures give him a platform. A platform to talk into my life and into the lives of those I love the most – my husband and my adult children. Thank you, Jon.

So here’s a bit of what he says about character and its impact on us in the workplace…especially in considering a Career Jump.Blog - Do Over

“Relationships get you the first gig. Skills get you the second. Character is the reason that people will still want to give you another chance if the first opportunity fails. Character is the mortar between all the other parts [relationships, skills, hustle] of the Career Savings Account. It’s what holds the other things together. “

“Character is also what you need the most when you make a positive, voluntary career transition, or what we’re calling a “Career Jump.” You need it the most then because it will be tested the most when you ‘just go for it’ or ‘chase a dream’.”

“When you make a [career] jump, you will be tempted to cut corners, to quit when the going gets tough and lose your patience when the results you expected don’t immediately happen. It is your character that will push you forward.”

Exercise: This time we don’t use note cards, but a notebook would be handy. Jon asks the question: What’s one character trait, related to your career, that you’d like to grow stronger? That’s where we start. You might still want a friend’s help in this. None of us are perfect, so it shouldn’t be too difficult. Just pick one to start.

As part of this exercise, consider those weeds in the workplace that could choke out that character trait you’re planting and nurturing. Jon lists four especially nasty (and all too common) ones:

  • Narcissism – our focus is all on ourselves. Weighing every decision and process in your workplace as it relates to you.
  • Dishonesty – Covering a mistake, embellishing our performance, gossiping, outright lying.
  • Pessimism – That negative cup-half-empty (or even broken) take on how things are going at work. It’s not just a weed in your own orchard but it can seed clouds over your coworkers’ view of work. Pessimism can rob you of the ability to brainstorm and to dream (“two activities that require the optimism of creativity”).
  • Apathy – you’ve gotten to the place you just don’t care anymore. What was once being passive now becomes deeply defiant. Partnered with pessimism, you convince yourself that you don’t have what it takes to do a Career Jump. A dry and dogged inertia can set in, crippling your ability to orchestrate a Career Jump.

Acuff focuses on 3 character traits in particular to grow in your Career Savings Account: Generosity, Empathy, & Being Present.

Generosity is a game-changer. During a Career Jump give generously as a way to beat back the weed of greed. Greed will end up costing you a lot more than you think. Make your definition of generosity bigger by being generous with your skills and time, not just your money.”

Empathy = Understanding someone else’s needs and acting on them. Generosity and empathy are closely intertwined; they go hand in hand. The stronger you get in one, the stronger you’ll get in the other.”

“The simplest thing you can do to be empathetic [is to] show up.”

“If you really want to reinvent your work and get ahead, there are three things you need to deal with – your phone, your computer and your meetings. Be present.”

[You hear this a lot these days – how distracting are our phones and other electronic devices, and how our shortened attention spans have impaired us related to deep thinking and creative, out-of-the-box dreaming and decision-making. The ones who deal with these will be the outliers – the leaders in the fields of our future. It’s laid out there – now for us to take our lives back.]

“You need character the most when you decide to chase a dream. “

“The moment you decide to make any sort of change in your career, you send other areas of your life into chaos. The bigger the change, the bigger the chaos. Wherever you jump, your character jumps with you.”

Challenge: “Is living with the chaos of a decision easy? Not really, but you do get used to it. I try to create [chaos] sometimes as a way to hide from something else I’m afraid of. I’ve discovered that’s a lightning-fast way to drain a Career Savings Account. When real chaos comes…don’t fight it. If anything, lean into it. ‘Easy’ and ‘adventure’ very rarely travel together.”

These Four Character Flaws Can Kill Your Career – Jon Acuff

Jon Acuff – Character Archives

The Awesome Career Audit – Jon Acuff

Jon Acuff Quotes by Goodreads (different from ones above)

Why I Hate Jon Acuff by Rob Shep

Do Over – Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck – by Jon Acuff – Notes (Part 1)

10 Quotes by Jon Acuff on Developing New Skills & Sharpening Old Ones – Part 3 of Do Over Series

Nathan at guitarPhoto Credit: Nathan Mills Guitar

There’s this guitarist I know. His music is a work in progress. Not his music itself, because he hones his craft daily. Still, his career in music is a study in skill development. No industry stands still. The ability to silence a room with the sound you bring out of a guitar does not a living make. Usually.

There are so many other skills called to bear in a successful career in music today. Composing, arranging, teaching, performing, collaborating, marketing, production, diversifying style or instrument. Whew!

Then there’s your day job (by necessity, or for other reasons). Wisdom is to bring the same disciplines and desire, of that skilled musician, to work every day. To be the best asset you can be for your employer or your company. Shirking entitlement and nurturing an attitude of graciousness and gratitude.

Who is this person?!

Jon Acuff talks about becoming such a person in his book Do Over. He tackles the subject of sharpening and developing skills as imperative to any career, and especially to break through a Career Ceiling.

Have you ever gotten stuck in a job? No, I’m not talking about being ungrateful or feeling entitled to a better situation. I’m talking stuck – as in getting to a place in your job where you can’t see being able to ever advance or be more creative or grow professionally?

Acuff invites us readers to take a good look at our skills to see what exactly we uniquely bring to your job. This would include skills we might have discounted or even forgotten we had.

Below are 10 bits of wisdom from Jon’s section on skills:

  • Relationships get you the first gig, skills get you the second.
  • When you hit a Career Ceiling, skills will be the hammer you use to break through.
  • Don’t let fear hide a skill you’ve always had or wanted to pursue. Just because you’re afraid of doing something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.
  • Small skills have the tendency to add up to big careers.
  • Master the invisible skills – Go to work; add value; own your attitude.
  • When you have a bad attitude it flavors every part of your performance.
  • If you want to get better at something, it always costs time. If you don’t have any, steal some from…Facebook or any number of things that are requesting that resource without paying you anything in return.
  • I’m convinced that fear beats the “You don’t have enough time” drum because it never wants you to invest in your career. This is a lie.
  • Your willingness to discipline one part of your life creates freedom in another.
  • You will need skills most when you find yourself stuck. The ceilings are designed to filter out the lazy and uncommitted. Every skill can be a hammer. Start banging. Career Ceilings were meant to be broken.

Like with looking at our relationships, he calls for us to use note cards and list (one per card) all the skills we can think of – whether currently using them or only in the past; whether work-related or not so much. Once we’ve exhausted our ideas on skills then, he says to look for patterns.* It’s so easy to settle into a rut of doing the same thing every day. Going after new skills and sharpening old ones help us to be good at our jobs and, at the same time, love our work.

Whether you are a musician, a teacher, an I.T. guy or a caregiver, you have skills and you can build on those skills. Determining to be diligent to grow your skills and grateful for the opportunities to learn will take you farther than you know. Right through that career ceiling.

“You know who we should fire, that guy who keeps learning how to do his job even better,” said no one ever. – Jon AcuffBlog - Do Over - Jon Acuff

Photo Credit: Forbes.com

*A Simple Two-Step Exercise for Figuring Out What You’re Really Good At – Jon Acuff, Business Insider Start Your Do Over Today

Start Your Do Over Today! – Jon Acuff

Jon Acuff: Why Most People Don’t Reach Their Full Potential And How You Can

Nathan Mills on Vine

Crosstrain at Habitat for Humanity - Aug 30 2014Learning new skills on-site with Habitat for Humanity

The Story of Us – A Quick Bit about Marriage Through Its Difficult Seasons

2009 August 25th Wedding Anniversary in Paris 128

“Contempt is conceived with expectations. Respect is conceived with expressions of gratitude. We can choose which one we will obsess over—expectations, or thanksgivings.”   – Gary Thomas*

“I wouldn’t be surprised if many marriages end in divorce largely because one or both partners are running from their own revealed weaknesses as much as they are running from something they can’t tolerate in their spouse.”   – Gary Thomas*

The Story of Us (1999), a film, starring Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer, details a marriage gone flat. I wanted to see the film at the time but the R rating (for language and brief sexuality) deterred me. Just yesterday, I caught the last half-hour of it, and loved that bit. Not recommending the whole film necessarily (it got terrible reviews) but Michelle Pfeiffer’s monolog at the end is amazing.Blog - Story_of_us - Wikipedia, Universal Pics, Warner Bros Pictures

To set the scene (if you didn’t see the movie either), Willis and Pfeiffer (actors I love) are Ben and Kate in a 15-year marriage. It has unwoven terribly over time. While their two children are away at summer camp, they decide to separate. Toward the end of the film, they are both rethinking their decision. As they pick up their children together, the emotional tension of that reunion is so touching. The monolog, in that last scene, is a great declaration of why not to destroy “the story of us”.

Before you watch (or read**) that scene, let me just say this about marriage and divorce…

My family history is riddled with divorce, and I was afraid of marriage because of all my biological family issues. Divorce happens, and honestly, there are situations when we can’t see any other way out, or through. Still, marriage, as we all at least say if not always believe, is worth the fight.

There are so many reasons to work through the dry and difficult seasons of marriage. Gary L. Thomas is a great teacher on this subject and I recommend all of his books on marriage. They are practical and empathetic and full of hope.

One thing I value is history in relationships. When we went through our hard seasons in marriage, I held on to three things: 1) wanting to honor God in my marriage; 2) never wanting the consequences of divorce (had experienced those as a child growing up in divorce); and 3) not wanting to lose our life together (“the story of us”).

We, my husband and I, are in a different place now, and I can say to any in fragile relationships right now, “Wait for it!” “Work for it!” Of course, it takes two. Pfeiffer’s monolog would have had a whole other feel if Willis didn’t respond, in the film, the way he did. In married life, it does take two, but God, in His mercy and love, adds great power and grace to the one willing. Hold on to that.

So here’s just a part of Pfeiffer’s monolog (women, especially, might enjoy reading this out loud, if you’re in a private place – so full of earnestness and vulnerability – just sayin’):

“We’re an “us”. There’s a history and histories don’t happen overnight. In Mesopotamia or Ancient Troy or somewhere back there, there were cities built on top of other cities, but I don’t want to build another city. I like this city…That’s a dance you perfect over time. And it’s hard, it’s much harder than I thought it would be, but there’s more good than bad. And you don’t just give up. And it’s not for the sake of the children, but they’re great kids aren’t they? And we made them – I mean think about that – there were no people there and then there were people – two of them. And they grew…  Let’s face it, anybody is going to have traits that get on your nerves, why shouldn’t it be your annoying traits? I’m no day at the beach, but I do have a good sense of direction so at least I can find the beach, but that’s not a criticism of you, it’s just a strength of mine. And you’re a good friend and good friends are hard to find… I mean I guess what I’m trying to say is – I love you.”**

[I know this is just a movie and maybe not a great one – it just reminded me – the bit I saw, and the monolog – of possibilities and hope. For you who have been terribly hurt in marriages you saw no way to save, God knows…and wants to heal that place in your heart.]

*Gary L. Thomas Quotes at Goodreads

YouTube Video – The Story of Us – Ending – Michelle Pfeiffer’s Amazing Monolog

**One of the Best Monologs Ever

The Story of Us film

How The Story of Us Should Have Ended – just for fun – a variation but with the same conclusion

A Lifelong Love: How to Have Lasting Intimacy, Friendship, and Purpose in Your Marriage by Gary Thomas

A Lifelong Love Quotes

Gary Thomas Answers Your Marriage Questions

YouTube Video – The Story of Us – Taylor Swift – Great song – Disclaimer – NOT about marriage

Photo Credit: Wikipedia.com