Saturday, March 1, 2014

Marriage Coaching is on the Move . . . . Again!

Marriage Coaching is on the move, again, but in a different way.  The last time I wrote, in August 2011 we'd just returned from India.  Since then, a lot has happened.

The August 4, 2011 entry under Great Relationships told the miraculous story about the birth of this not for profit organization.  Well, this 'baby' has grown!  Five directors and some advisory board members have embraced the vision and mission, and continue to meet regularly to shape it for others!

We've been training in Mission Increase philosophy which favors Caver policy-governance and teaches that the most important thing the founders can do for strategic multiplication so that the ministry becomes a movement, is to 'create a platform for champions of the ministry to participate and eventually 'own' the ministry by getting on the stage to share the ministry with others themselves.  That is what is happening!

GR's first Level III trained couple is hosting a Level II class that begins March 22!  Training materials are being refreshed with updates and edits to enhance the quality of the training experience.

Does this interest you?  A great way to explore the opportunity is to take a Level I class.  Write to Jeff or Jill for more information.

Marriage Coaching is on the move into the hands and lives of more couple's everyday.  Just this past week we provided a 75 minute Continuing Ed. class for coaches and trainers from CMI, Coaching Mission International on "How to Coach Couples Through Difficult and Emotional Conversations" using principles and skills from Marriage Coaching.  Feedback from coaches was encouraging, "This was very practical and gives me some ways to help couples that I didn't have before."

Marriage Coaching in Pune is a facebook page that you could look at to see pictures of couples gatherings to learn marriage coaching as well as upcoming training opportunities provided by a Level III trained couple that resides there!

As our counseling practice, Grace & Truth Counseling and Coaching grows, and couples have to wait for appointments, we urge them to read sections of our book to be encouraged (the crisis chapter), and to begin to familiarize themselves with the core concepts and methods that we will use with them when we meet for appointments.  "We will likely have fewer total appointments and get more done in sessions if you will read, reflect and discuss how to apply this method in your marriage outside of sessions."

Recently it was gratifying to hear a wife say that she hadn't been able to read what she needed to because, "My mother stole my copy to read for herself!"

Just yesterday we receive a note from a trained couple that what they'd learned would soon be helpful to couples in N. Africa, where they are moving so serve as cross-cultural workers!

And a month ago, a major mission organization ordered 50 copies to give as gifts to leadership couples coming to their spring marriage and family ministry conference in Europe!

So, Marriage Coaching is on the move organizationally through Great Relationships as the foundation is solidified with an invested board of directors, through training of couples invested in marriage ministry, and couples who receive 'as needed, direct service' marriage coaching that they use to heal, strengthen and protect their marriage and also use the skills in parenting and extended family relationships.

Just wanted you to be updated, encouraged, and to know how to connect to participate and to become engaged in this life-giving, marriage saving ministry.

Many blessings!  Jeff, Jill, GR Board and Advisors, Trained couples

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What We've Learned

Several have asked what we've learned, so I'll post a few bullets.

- That marriages everywhere basically want the same things:
- shared understanding
- acceptance and affection
- effective ways to resolve conflict in a way that doesn't hurt each other

- The principles of Biblical marriage cross cultures and tradition
- equality, mutual submission, love, respect

- Strong emotions must be identified and expressed in a way that strengthens the bond

- Many couples are yearning to grow as a team of two, but don't know how

- Busyness with good things, even great things (serving others) can hurt a marriage

- Confiding honest thoughts, feelings and desires builds closeness

There's more, but that's it for today.

Back to the office yesterday, and jet-lag might be over. They say it's a day for every hour, so 9 days is up this Friday. And all other systems are beginning to work well!

blessings, Jeff and Jill

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Home, results and HOPE for the future

It's Thursday 614am. Jill and I are up and at'em after about 6 hours of sleep. We both had naps yesterday (hers longer than mine since she slept a bit on the plane but I didn't).

Just a bit about the long flight. 7980 miles in 15 hours, Bombay (Mumbai) to Newark. We set out at 130pm your time on Tuesday, and arrived in Newark about 5am on Wednesday. We were w/out beds for 37 hours before yesterday's nap time of 3 hours and last night's sleep. Jill watched two movies and I watched four, all of which I would recommend to fans of drama/action-adventure (Eagle Eye, Hannah, The Joneses, and Killers (Ashton Kutcher and Tom Selleck in a plot where Ashton leaves his clandestine life as a clandestine operative for love; very funny yet realistic for those who live sacrificial lives for our national security).

Anyway, it was great to be back home. If you've traveled off American soil you know the peaceful reassurance that you are back where you understand the language and culture and have fewer known folks that might be hostile to your values.

A full report will be produced for our friends here who supported this trip for us to share with yet other friends. The preliminary is that we visited 3 cities in 21 days, covered 20,000 miles (approx.) on six flights, and a daily minimum of 50 kilometers (30 miles) over rough roads and around cows to visit and share a simple and practical skills that can be used to heal, strengthen and protect marriage, family and all other relationship with 97 couples (there's some overlap between individual and group meetings). By all measures this was a very successful trip. In emotional language, it was "pure joy" for us to build relationship with like-minded friends, and now to have continuing opportunity to serve them.

We've received word that one group of couples will be meeting monthly to celebrate progress using what they learned, and to share struggles so that they can learn from and support each other! This is a wonderful step forward. And we've received some other emails about personal breakthroughs in marriages after years of struggling with a tough issue. Wonderful!

The great thing about most of these couples is that they have embraced the reality that what they have learned (and now practice) is not just for them, but also for others. Several times we asked two questions: 1. Have you begun to think of couples w/ whom you would like to share this? and, 2. Are you comfortable and confident that you could teach others some of these things? Many said yes to both questions, and that brings me to HOPE for the FUTURE!


Those whose followed our journey since 2003 know that God put a monstrous vision in our hearts (and has progressively given us the experiences we need to develop our character and competencies to pursue it): THAT EVERY COUPLE WOULD HAVE THE INFORMATION AND SKILLS THEY NEED TO LIVE WITH ABUNDANT HOPE, PLEASURE AND PURPOSE FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD. Toward this end, we discerned that the creation of a not for profit organization would be necessary as an agency to raise and steward funding to provide training to every couple called to train their marriage to train other couples, GREAT RELATIONSHIPS, Inc.

Donations flowed into this beginning December 2009, and so we secured an attorney and accountant to take the necessary steps, BUT, the IRS protested, and protested. The last we knew, just prior to leaving for this trip was that the agent assigned to the review (who had rejected three times prior) had secured agreement from his supervisor to deny approval and would be sending a letter to confirm the denial. But...

After landing in Newark and clearing immigration/customs by 615am yesterday, I charged the blackberry from its 3 week rest ($1.99/minute for calls, and much more for data in India, so we didn't use it) to listen to voicemails. The third message was from our accountant and friend, Steve Stuckey, "Brother, I don't know if you will have voicemail while you are gone, but wanted to tell you I received a letter from ________ (agent at IRS) {internally I groaned, expecting confirmation of the denial}. Remember how he said he would be sending a letter to confirm the denial? Well, it's an approval letter! GREAT RELATIONSHIPS is now an official not for profit in the United States!"

My immediate response was a flood of tears...relief, happiness for Jill who has done so much detail work on this, and emerging excitement for the future. What a gift and blessing to receive this miracle! And the timing is incredible...on the heels of this trip to share with friends EXACTLY what Great Relationships, Inc. was founded to DO!

We couldn't be more excited for the future as it seems that a season of unscheduled sabbatical designed to teach us to depend on God and to rest in our identity in Him (rather than our roles and work in His Name) is behind us and that we are being released into pursuit of the fulfillment of the Vision He has seared into our hearts.

So, if this vision somehow grips you, and you want to be involved somehow, the answer is yes. It will require much prayer, financial support, passionate and talented directors to serve on the board, talented brothers to serve as advisers, trained couples willing to travel and to serve, more couples to begin the training process, etc. Make yourself known and/or point to friends who may have similar vision and passion for this work, because as the Favor on this continues, the mission will require an army marriages share with others what they themselves have received.

Since we have received wind beneath our wings per the miracle of favor on this trip, and the miraculous resurrection of Great Relationships, we are going to continue this blog to chronicle progress toward realization of the Vision: Every marriage living with abundant hope, pleasure (joy) and purpose for the Kingdom of God!

Much love and gratitude for your prayers, support and encouragement!

Jeff and Jill

Monday, August 1, 2011

Another sad first, and a vote of confidence for cultural transferability

I forgot a heartbreaking first yesterday; a funeral procession...for a baby. I suppose it was the father carrying the little bundle, followed by 35-40 men all dressed in white, walking as a group down the side of the road, but our driver confirmed the worst. "The baby died." I'd hoped it was a christening, but no. And where were the women? The driver spoke broken english, but spoke clearly that women don't come for the burial. "The men take care of it." Can you imagine?

Tonight was the worst traffic jam we've ever witnessed. "Special market night" Goats, cows, bikes, people, dogs, water buffalo, motorbikes, and oh yeah, thousands of cars jammed the streets, all in each other's way. I decided it was a fine time to close my eyes. Surely someone would die, and I didn't want to see it. But, only a bumped mirror on our vehicle. The driver could have called my bluff, "You think you could drive in this?" "Oh yeah" I said. He gestured to the wheel. "I don't have a license for India" I said. But honestly, I would like to try.

One of our greatest joys came on this last day. We shared w/ a group of new friends about a process to heal, strengthen and protect relationships, and they excitedly proclaimed that it is simple, clear, powerful, and culturally transferable. That is a huge exciting relief! We so want to be practically helpful to them.

Tomorrow begins the long journey home. We'll arise about 1130pm your time on Monday, and if all goes well, we'll walk into our home in Ohio about noon on Wednesday. During that time we'll exercise, have breakfast, drive to airport in Indore, fly to Mumbai, wait 8 hours for flight to Newark, NJ (15 hour flight: approx. 2-3 movies, two meals, four naps, 8 visits to the restroom; sometimes for purpose, and sometimes to stretch, four albums on the ipod, one audiobook and multiple conversations with Jill), then wait 3 hours till flight to Dayton...we are looking forward to being HOME!

Maybe another entry in the morning, and maybe not. After being home I'll write personal email to all who signed up to follow this blog, plus other interested and supportive friends. If your group would like a presentation on our trip, we have great pics, and some great ideas for the future!

blessings, Jeff and Jill

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Walking into National Geographic and Miscellaneous firsts

We were told that this would be an intense and singular life experience, but nothing and no one can prepare you. The best way I can describe is that a trip to India is like falling headfirst into a 3-D version of National Geographic magazine, complete with all five senses on overload. We ride for hours through slums, cities, countryside highways and cannot stop looking in wonder

We're down to the last 48 hours in country, and its bittersweet.

The bitter:
- Saying goodbye to very loving and kind brothers and sisters
- bringing an end to the long awaited and long planned for trip to India
- goodbye to authentic "spicy" Indian food
- losing the daily kaleidoscope of animals, humanity, colors

- losing the opportunity to eat rice and chicken and lentils in various forms several times/day
- the "comforts" of Western life
- driving our own car again
- driving on the RIGHT side of the road
- mining the experience for NEXT re: serving our friends in relationship development

FIRSTS today:
- An elephant in the median
- hordes of young Hindu men dressed in bright orange marching down the highway
- a baby being cradled by mother on the back of a motorcyle in a horrid traffic jam
- a woman w/ leprosy, bandaged hands and soiled clothing begging along the median (I'll never forget her face; about 25, someone's daughter...)

off to bed for much needed rest.

blessings, US

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Tips for Traveling in India

We've learned a few things we're inclined to pass along.

- Fuel: Make sure the vehicle in which you are riding has enough
- Exercise: Be ready for impromptu opportunities to do things such as push an SUV through the worlds's worst traffic over monsoon soaked roadways and through ankle deep (or worse) potholes
- Do EVERYTHING without complaining. The natives do, why can't we?
- Be flexible. Consider that your daily schedule may change once, twice, three times or more.
- Maintain your temper about mosquitoes. I suppose they're as hungry as everyone else.
- Bring protein bars. Western man cannot live on rice, chippati (wheat tortilla), dahl (lentil soup), and chicken alone...even if it really is delectable every time.
- Trust that there is ample bottled water, and drink it like you are being paid to
- Don't offer your hand to women unless they offer theirs to you
- Eat only w/ your right hand (see Jill's American Flag Story)
- Be prepared to be treated like gods...that's they way the Indians are raised to treat guests. This means that the lady of the house won't eat until you've had your fill, and men and women everywhere will run to open doors, carry briefcases, etc.
- watch "City of Joy" if you plan to come during monsoons. I just got out of the shower after being drenched and mid-calf deep running to the car (Jill and Aila also). In truth, we would have been disappointed if we'd not been soaked at least once!

Today was another awesome gathering with friends anxious to hear what we've learned about forming and protecting pleasurable (joyful), healthy and lasting relationships in marriage, family and with colleagues. Loving listening is the big revelation that makes every smile and fills them with hope for more and better in each of their relationships.

Off for a dinner meeting w/ more friends! A few more days and we're home. Anxious for some Western food and to see family and friends!

Love, Us

Friday, July 29, 2011

Flying the American Flag

This one deserves a blog of its own!

May it be known that my Annie (Jill to the rest of you) is proud to be an American.

First, let me set it up...

Experienced travelers to India are sure to tell you that table manners mean to be appreciative of the food (duh), to take as many seconds and thirds as you can handle (the Indians are very proud of their like it is to like them), to eat with your fingers (seriously? Yes, seriously), and to eat only with your right hand (now, that' not so obvious, and no one is very anxious to explain it). "Well" they say, "Its because you do other things w/ your left hand." Like what, the detail oriented person wants to know? "You'll figure it out", they reassure you. So, at least one curious question in on your mind as you touch down on S. Asian soil.

The answer begins to take form when you notice that bathrooms are absent toilet paper...

So, what do they use? You guessed it...the left hand. Now, to be fair to our advisers, they did suggest taking an ample supply of TP, but they didn't warn that it would come w/ stigma. The Indians think that the use of toilet paper is dirty, and that their procedure for the use of the bare hand and water is more sanitary....(I'm sorry, as I know that's way too much for some of you, but hang in there. I promise you'll laugh). So, the upshot is that we westerners HIDE the fact that we have TP w/ us, because THEY think it is DIRTY!

So, we sneak it around, hide it in suitcases, briefcases, and purses....and that's where the fun begins.

Yesterday, Jill and Aila (our traveling companion and invaluable guide) went shopping at one of Indore's biggest and busiest malls. All was well until they exited the front doors. Jill unzipped her purse to retrieve her sunglasses, but they weren't the only thing that wanted relief from the confines her purse. Yep, you guessed it, Old Glory (the completely white-striped version) came rolling out, down the steps to the amazement of all the onlookers, and the horror of my dainty and discreet wife. Secret revealed! Another DIRTY American in their midst.

Well, the milliseconds it took her to realize what happened and to retrieve the invaluable squares of soft cloth seemed like an eternity; her most famous moments on Indian soil emblazoned into the minds of the natives.

Big smiles everyone! Hope you enjoyed that tale about how some of the world cares for their tails.