Tips for the Mother of the Bride

11752544_10154083830341040_4093527192806219828_nI don’t have all the answers. Every wedding, bride, and the dynamics of the families involved are different, but maybe you can find a few tips that help you.

  1. It’s not your wedding. Repeat if necessary. It is not your wedding. It’s not your engagement, your reception, your bridal shower, your photographs, your cake, and so on.
  2. Just because you’ve been married doesn’t make you an expert on weddings.
  3. Just because you’re on Pinterest doesn’t make you an expert on weddings.
  4. Just because every detail isn’t how you’d do it doesn’t mean it’s not a fantastic idea.
  5. Cheer your daughter on with all the gusto you have.
  6. Cheer your son-in-law on with all the gusto you have.
  7. Use common sense when pinning and choosing Pinterest projects. Not all do-it-yourself projects are money-savors, and definitely not time-savors.
  8. Encourage your daughter and son-in-law to make decisions together. Every decision about the wedding they’re able to work through together without your help, whether you agree or not, is good practice for their marriage.
  9. Focus more on the marriage than the wedding.
  10. Help your daughter and son-in-law focus more on the marriage than the wedding.
  11. Pray often.
  12. Refrain from building up the wedding day as something out of a fairy tale. It might be, but weddings can be imperfect and still be fantastic.
  13. Laugh as often as you can.
  14. Take cues from your daughter. Give her space when needed. Be available when needed.
  15. Remember there is more than one family involved. Welcome them.
  16. Communicate about expectations and roles, especially about who is responsibility for paying and planning what and when.
  17. Be realistic. Work within the budget and the style, even if it’s within your means and preference to go above and beyond.
  18. Have an emergency kit on hand the day of the wedding. Include the obvious items of safety pins and bobby pins. If the dress is white, have a spray bottle of hydrogen peroxide to clean up anything that gets on the dress. Have plenty of sewing options. You never know when you’ll need to sew someone into a dress.
  19. If you don’t sew, have someone who does ready and willing to help.
  20. Think through your day. Have a game plan, even for yourself.
  21. Be flexible.
  22. Be prepared to get ready in stages throughout the day. You might be needed for unexpected miscellaneous duties at a moment’s notice.
  23. Take deep breaths every now and then and savor the moments, even when it’s hectic.
  24. Show respect. To your daughter. And your son-in-law. To family and the wedding party. To people who help.
  25. Ask a friend to be your back-up the day before and day of the wedding. You’re going to need someone who is one step removed from the “inner circle” of the wedding to keep you sane with reality checks, smiles, and Starbucks. (Thanks, Shannon!)
  26. Wear waterproof mascara, even if you don’t think you’ll need it.
  27. Wear comfortable shoes, or plan to go barefoot at the reception.
  28. Help override the stereotype of the domineering mother-of-the-bride. No more Momzillas.
  29. Have a plan for the week after the wedding. Know what is best for you. Do you need to stay busy, get everything reorganized, or escape on a mini-vacation?
  30. Write a note of encouragement to your daughter and son-in-law shortly after the wedding. Encourage them every chance you get.

Enjoy the process. Enjoy the day. Enjoy your daughter…and son-in-law. You are about to expand your family. Love them well.

Giveaway: Managing People

UTF-8'en-us'9781470720698Today is the last of three giveaway posts. If you missed the first two, be sure to enter to win soon. All winners will be contacted this Friday. Now for today’s giveaway:

Today’s blog includes an excerpt of Practical Stuff for Pastors: Managing People. Remember, this resource is not just for pastors. If you are in any type of leadership, you’ll find many helpful (and very practical) tips throughout the book. Whether you keep it for yourself or give it as a gift, all you have to do to be entered to win is leave a comment (on the blog or Facebook).

Direct Communication

If anyone should know how to communicate well, it should be the church. Our central mission is to be witnesses and to tell the good news. Both require verbal and non-verbal communication. Yet, few places suffer from poor communication as does a local church. Gossip and rumors can run rampant. Misunderstanding and mix-ups occur often. Pastors and church leaders seek answers to communication queries, such as:
How can I help build open and honest communication—among staff, between staff and volunteers, and among staff and church family? What are the signs of brutal honesty and veiled suggestions, and how can I avoid each extreme?
Should I have an “open door” policy or strict office hours?

How to Avoid Gossip: Best Practices for Open, Honest Communication
As a pastor, you are in the people business. You have to talk with and about other people—a lot. Before you ask for advice about someone, ask God to lead you to a third person who is trustworthy and God-honoring, willing to tell you the truth and able to hold confidences. Communicating openly and honestly about someone is easier said than done, so here are some guidelines to keep your advice-seeking from slipping into gossip:

  • If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t say it behind his or her back.
  • If you wouldn’t want someone to hear you say it because of what they might think about you (or someone else), don’t say it.
  • If it’s not the truth, is a stretch of the truth, or distorts the truth in any way, don’t say it.
  • If it dishonors someone, including yourself, and especially God, don’t say it.
  • If another person starts to lead your conversation into uncomfortable areas, set a good example of honest communication by using replies such as:

“I’m uncomfortable talking about that person without him being here to share his side of the story. Let’s figure out how to continue without what might end up being damaging gossip.”
“I’m not sure of the facts. I need to have a couple conversations with people before I can talk more about this.”
“Sometimes, my mouth gets ahead of my head. I need to take a deep breath and make sure I respond to you well. I will get back to you soon.” (Then, make sure you do.)

Excerpted from Practical Stuff for Pastors: Managing People. Copyright © 2015 Group Publishing, Inc.

(This chapter includes additional sections on Authentic Communication, Brutal Honesty or Cautious Sensitivity?, Tips for Healthy Communication, and more. Other chapters in the book include When and How to Say No, Team Development, Meeting Management, Mentoring and Coaching, and more.)

Giveaway: Dealing with Conflict

UTF-8'en-us'9781470720704Several days ago, Practical Stuff for Pastors: Dealing with Conflict released, and I have two copies to give away! Today’s blog includes an excerpt so you can enjoy a taste test. It’s not just for pastors! If you are in any type of leadership, you’ll find many helpful (and very practical) tips throughout the book. Whether you keep it for yourself or give it as a gift, all you have to do to be entered to win is leave a comment (on the blog or Facebook). I’ll contact the winners at the end of the week. (This is one of three books I’ll be giving away this week, so check back daily!)

Recognizing Red Flags

What are the best indicators that a problem is brewing? When you see one, what should you do? When is it better to quietly watch, and when do you need to quickly confront the issue? How can you understand the way conflict works so you don’t get easily frustrated and overwhelmed?

Red Flags That Conflict is Coming

No two conflicts are exactly the same. No single red flag is a guarantee that conflict is coming. You might see a combination of factors or one red flag that is powerful enough to indicate a firestorm ahead. When you keep these warning signs in the back of your mind, you’ll connect the dots earlier in the conflict process and be able to address issues more quickly.

  • Consistently longer meetings. Long meetings might simply indicate many agenda items, or inefficient meeting management. However, when meetings consistently get longer, drawn out, and draining, it might be a sign of discontentment, which can quickly lead to conflict.
  • Quiet disunity among leaders or volunteers. Sometimes things seem to go well during meetings, and the minutes reflect general consensus. However, when informal “meetings after the meeting” grow longer and more frequent, there is cause for concern. Support for dissenting opinions may quietly snowball until they become the main topic of conversations in and out of official meetings and committees.
  • Lack of focus. When leaders spend their time maintaining status quo, conflict is often brewing under the surface. It might take a while to see problems, because most people like the relaxed coasting process. Eventually, someone will see the need to change and develop the courage to question the way things are going.
  • A buzz of whispers. Everyone seems fine when they personally speak to you, but you notice glances and whispers. People begin to avoid you. Bad sign.
  • Repeated questions and phrases. As people gather support for their cause, they repeat the same conversations with a variety of people. In your conversations with individuals, you’ll notice many of them using the same phrases or asking the same questions. This is a sure sign a small group of people have been stirring up others’ support and discontentment.
  • Wide open back door. It’s normal to lose a few people and families from time to time. However, when you see a sudden increase in people leaving, including those who have been committed for a long time, you need to follow up and ask questions as to what issues they might have been experiencing.
  • Key volunteers step aside. Some might tell you why they are resigning, while people who prefer to avoid conflict will quietly step down. Transitions are ongoing, but when there are spikes of resignations, be sure to investigate.

Excerpted from Practical Stuff for Pastors: Dealing with Conflict. Copyright © 2015 Group Publishing, Inc.

(This chapter includes additional sections on The Process of Conflict, What Should You Do?, Red Flags for Avoiding Conflict, and The Green Flag of Conflict. Other chapters in the book include Understanding Conflict Styles, Moderating Disputes, Handling Prickly People, and more.)


Messy Friendships

imagesTransparency can be a frightening prospect, especially when you’ve been hurt in the past. Authenticity increases vulnerability, but both are essential to friendships. God doesn’t intend for you to do life on your own. That means taking risks and  getting out of your comfort zone. Your relationships will often be as messy as a child’s finger painting, but God can create a masterpiece with your efforts as you’re obedient. Do the hard stuff of life with others, pouring encouragement and challenges into them and inviting them to pour into you as God guides.

Look for opportunities. In order to have great friendships, you must start somewhere. A lasting friendship might begin with a smile or a heated discussion.

Allow time. Great friendships take investment. Every friendship you begin won’t result in a lifetime connection. Friendships are seasonal.

Expect the unexpected. God doesn’t work within our guidelines. Let Him guide you to the friends in whom you should invest. He’s already working outside your expectations. Don’t miss it.

Avoid comparisons. Every friendship is different. The one you’re developing won’t measure up to your idea of a perfect friendship or the friendship you see someone else has.

Avoid tally marks. Every friendship isn’t 50/50. Sometimes we pour into someone and get little in return, but God makes sure someone else is pouring into us if we’re allowing Him to work.

Share weaknesses and strengths. Let’s acknowledge where we are in the journey toward who God created us to be, including what we think is good and what we’d prefer to ignore.

Invite the difficult. Develop friendships which are truth-seeking, not affirmation-seeking. It’s not easy to say or hear the uncomfortable, but God didn’t call us to a life of ease or comfort.

Build on the possibilities. Stepping away when a conflict or misunderstanding occurs will insure no friendship ever fully develops. Let God decide how long the friendship lasts. He provides the solid building materials you need.

Check in regularly. Follow up when there’s an action to be taken. Make sure friends know you haven’t forgotten their struggles as well as when you’ve done what you said you’d do.

Keep face-to-face time. Texts and social networking are great for quick updates and check-ins. Hand-written notes give an added boost. But nothing replaces eye contact.

Let God do His work in you and others.

Praying through the Psalms: The End Is Just the Beginning

prayingpsalmsimageAs our Praying through the Psalms series closes, it’s not an end as much as a beginning. My prayer has been for you to soak in God’s Word. To claim the truth He gives you about Himself and for your life. When we merely skip through the sections of Scripture we most want, we miss out on many things God has to say to us. When we’re at a loss for words for our prayers, or we’re in a rut, God’s Word is the best place to start. And that’s what we’ve done…started.

We haven’t prayed all the way through Psalms, but you can continue on your own. Or, grab a friend and commit to holding one another accountable as you pray through Scripture. Use the prayer tips I’ve provided along the way. Need a reminder? Simply type “prayer tip” in the search bar, and you’ll have at least a dozen ideas to dig into a growing prayer life.

We need God. I need God. You need God.

Keep talking with Him. Keep listening.

Praying through the Psalms: Psalm 77

prayingpsalmsimagePsalm 77

I cry aloud to God,
aloud to God, and He will hear me.
I sought the Lord in my day of trouble.
My hands were continually lifted up
all night long;
I refused to be comforted.
I think of God; I groan;
I meditate; my spirit becomes weak.Selah

You have kept me from closing my eyes;
I am troubled and cannot speak.
I consider days of old,
years long past.
At night I remember my music;
I meditate in my heart, and my spirit ponders.

“Will the Lord reject forever
and never again show favor?
Has His faithful love ceased forever?
Is His promise at an end for all generations?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has He in anger withheld His compassion?”Selah

10 So I say, “I am grieved
that the right hand of the Most High has changed.”
11 I will remember the Lord’s works;
yes, I will remember Your ancient wonders.
12 I will reflect on all You have done
and meditate on Your actions.

13 God, Your way is holy.
What god is great like God?
14 You are the God who works wonders;
You revealed Your strength among the peoples.
15 With power You redeemed Your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.Selah

16 The waters saw You, God.
The waters saw You; they trembled.
Even the depths shook.
17 The clouds poured down water.
The storm clouds thundered;
Your arrows flashed back and forth.
18 The sound of Your thunder was in the whirlwind;
lightning lit up the world.
The earth shook and quaked.
19 Your way went through the sea
and Your path through the great waters,
but Your footprints were unseen.
20 You led Your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Read Psalm 77 aloud.

What seems to get in the way, things that distract you or get you “stuck” as you read through the psalm?

What is God highlighting for you to focus upon?

Read through Psalm 77 again, this time, pausing to yield to God, praising who He is and how He provides and giving Him everything that might be holding you back in faith.

Praying through the Psalms: Psalm 76

prayingpsalmsimagePsalm 76

God is known in Judah;
His name is great in Israel.
His tent is in Salem,
His dwelling place in Zion.
There He shatters the bow’s flaming arrows,
the shield, the sword, and the weapons of war.Selah

You are resplendent and majestic
coming down from the mountains of prey.
The brave-hearted have been plundered;
they have slipped into their final sleep.
None of the warriors was able to lift a hand.
At Your rebuke, God of Jacob,
both chariot and horse lay still.

And You—You are to be feared.
When You are angry,
who can stand before You?
From heaven You pronounced judgment.
The earth feared and grew quiet
when God rose up to judge
and to save all the lowly of the earth.Selah
10 Even human wrath will praise You;
You will clothe Yourself
with their remaining wrath.

11 Make and keep your vows
to the Lord your God;
let all who are around Him bring tribute
to the awe-inspiring One.
12 He humbles the spirit of leaders;
He is feared by the kings of the earth.

Read Psalm 76 aloud.

What seems to get in the way, things that distract you or get you “stuck” as you read through the psalm?

What is God highlighting for you to focus upon?

Read through Psalm 76 again, this time, pausing to yield to God, praising who He is and how He provides and giving Him everything that might be holding you back in faith.