Personal Freedom and Grace

Posted by on Jul 5, 2015 in BOLD BELIEVER | Christian Living, The Blog | 1 comment

Parking 101- Stay Between the Lines

It was 115 degrees outside and I was looking for the closest possible parking spot to the movie theater. Ah, one up ahead. But on either side the cars were hanging over the middle. I tried to squeeze my vehicle in between but after wedging in I couldn’t open my door wide enough to allow a departure. I eeked my way back out and moved to the far end of the lot, noticing numerous other offending cars in spots along the way.

Why don’t people park between the white lines? It might sound silly and not worth making a fuss over but it ticks me off. And, I believe it’s an indicator of much bigger issues.

In general human beings have a tough time following rules…especially when there aren’t any likely consequences. If you park catty-wampous in a public lot you won’t get a ticket, you won’t get towed away and most people won’t even confront you to tell you what a jerk you are. So you get away with breaking the rule.

We are born and bred to prize freedom and rules interfere. Our “rights” and preferences tend to supersede rules.

Sadly, in seizing your personal freedom you don’t only break the park-between-the-lines rule, you break many of God’s rules too. When we are only basing decisions on our comfort we lose sight of the rights of others.

Jesus taught us to put others ahead of ourselves. He taught us to be compassionate and to act with grace. Often when we break the rules our motives are based in pride and arrogance. “Me first!” (I’m not a patient person, so I’m guilty… just ask my kids.)

We just celebrated Independence Day. I hope you’ll continue to value freedom throughout the year. But instead of grabbing for personal gain, look for ways to add value to the lives of other people.

Take an extra pass to line up your car and park in your own spot so someone else can park a little closer to the front too. Don’t insist on getting in the “8 items or less” line if you have 10. Remember that you aren’t the only diner your server is trying to please when you go out to eat. Allow a driver to move into your lane freely… it will only cost you a couple seconds.

Or maybe I’m wrong and there are just a lot of good-natured people who are simply lousy at parking. Your thoughts?



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Therapy Dogs are “Jesus In Furs”

Posted by on Jun 29, 2015 in Deliberate Design (Purposeful Living and Pursuits), FRIENDSHIP Done Well, The Blog | 1 comment

Based on the report that Americans spent $55.7 billion on their pets last year, it’s fair to say we love our animals. But what if our pets could be giving back? Check out the post below about a little rescue dog that does. What could be more patriotic as we celebrate Independence Day?

Bold Living airs on stations in various cities and for easy on-demand access, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes (search Diane Markins) from my website.  Diane Markins 

Jesus in Fur

Molly was a rescue dog we adopted at six weeks old. Who knew that cute little puppy that chewed up our shoes and messed on the floor would turn into someone’s champion…even hero?

When Molly turned two we took her through Petco’s basic obedience school. Then I started training her as a therapy dog through “Canines For Christ” under the leadership of Chaplain Larry Randolph. Molly received her basic certification in early 2012 as a therapy dog. Over the last two years Molly has brought joy and comfort to Donaldson’s Assisted living facility where she was honored recently as volunteer of the year!

She also has been a frequent guest at Provision Assisted Living and Memory Care. Molly and I also visit MEPS to be with the men and women entering military service and their families in cooperation with the USO.

Molly and I have begun visiting the VA Hospital in the Nashville, TN area to bring joy and comfort to veterans. We are also assisting Vets that struggle with PTSD find a furever friend. Molly makes a bigger impact than any form of counseling or medicine. Here are just a few things people have said about her:

 “She is beautiful, gentle and patient and has a lot of lessons to offer children.” Rebecca
“Molly helps me when I can not help myself!” Sherry (disabled adult)
“Molly always shows unconditional love every time she visits.” Mary
“Molly helped us durning the loss of our school in a tornado.” Billy, 4th grade

Last summer Molly was involved with Camp Progress and was a hit among the mentally challenged children. Fox 17 featured her in this segment.   Recently Molly accomplished a milestone by going over her 300 visit and will receive advanced certification from the American Kennel Club. Molly has also assisted the North Precinct (Police) in community events. She may not be a show dog, but to many people Molly is a blue ribbon champion.

To learn more about therapy dogs check out Canines for Christ.

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Celebrate Your Uncommon Beauty

Posted by on Jun 22, 2015 in Identity, The Blog, YOUR TEMPLE | Health, Fitness, Beauty, Self-Love | 2 comments

I was captivated and delighted when my rose bush produced a pink bud and a yellow bud on the same stem. All the other flowers were pink- where did that yellow one come from? They are both roses from the same stock but they each had their own unique appearance and fragrance.

This applies to women as well. We are all female but each of us possesses distinct traits that separate us from all the others. Stop for a minute to do a little inventory and then a quick celebration in your mind about what this means.

As a speaker and writer it’s easy to fall into the trap of, “that message has been given a million times.” Or “that book has already been written.” But it hasn’t been written or spoken by you. Your experiences, your stories, your humor, your way of communicating, your passion… will make it something new that hasn’t been done before.

Moms, sisters, friends and coworkers; you have something special to offer others with your voice and your particular gifts.

Sadly, we learn to follow a pattern and are taught to fit into a mold when we’re young. We believe that to be accepted we must wear the right clothes, hairstyles and makeup. We need to say the things people want to hear.

Teen girls go out together looking like they were made in a factory. They feel insecure and uncertain unless there is a cookie-cutter image by their side. I’m not condemning, I’m remembering! I was one of those girls.

Even as we “mature” (eh hem, get old), women compare themselves to their friends and it’s not usually favorable. The internal monologue is saying, “She looks younger, thinner and prettier…she’s accomplished so much more…her kids are so successful…her marriage is just perfect.” We want to look more like her because she seems to fit in so well.

The funny thing is, she’s likely running that same thought pattern in her head about you.

If each of us would simply see ourselves the way God sees us we’d know that we are all lovely roses. We are different shapes and colors and the scent we offer as our gift will not be meant for everyone. But for those who recognize our spectacular, uncommon brand of awesomeness, we will make an impact and bless them richly.

Boldy embrace yourself because when you do, your colors will shine brighter.

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Advice from Dads in the Trenches

Posted by on Jun 15, 2015 in PARENTING | Never Ending Story, The Blog | 2 comments

In honor of Father’s Day I asked for input from young dads who are currently “in the trenches” of parenting. Like armchair quarterbacks, it’s easy for older dads with grown kids to offer sage advice, but it’s also easy to forget some of the day-to-day struggles. And, culture changes what some of those struggles look like.

The hardest part of writing the post was whittling it down because I got a massive amount of great stuff from several savvy dads (whom I will share  for resources at the end because they are all worth connecting with).

So (drumroll) the top six things dads are dealing with today (in no particular order) are:

  1. Balancing work and family life.
  2. Effective co-parenting (especially as regards to disciplining kids).
  3. Teaching kids lasting, significant values and goals.
  4. Living out God’s model as a dad.
  5. Maintaining healthy relationship with kids’ mom.
  6. Financial future of family.

Some of these are age-old issues, but some are fresher problems. Finding balance between work and family has been a top concern of women for the past few decades but dads didn’t express this as a big problem in the past. Not sure why…either they didn’t have as much responsibility/ time at home or they could compartmentalize it better.

There are also many exciting, fun things pulling all of us (moms, dads and kids) in different directions: volunteering, church, sports, crafts, kids’ activities… Someone has to be the voice of reason and stop the madness.

Young dads are helping around the house in bigger measure and are eager to engage in teaching, nurturing and relating to kids more than in the past (perhaps?). They feel the pull to be home internally as opposed to external pressure.

Being able to get and remain on the same page where discipline is concerned is the source of many marital battles. Mine included. My husband was much tougher and I (especially in the rear view) was much too lenient. There are no easy answers but the key is to talk often (out of kids’ earshot) and present a united front. Even if you have to flip a coin, or alternate who gets to decide the consequence in each instance. Don’t let this divide you and try to listen respectfully to your spouse’s perspectives.

Teaching kids strong values can be challenging. It’s easier to make a preschooler’s bed than to wait for her to get it done. Saying no and letting it stand can result in a lot of unpleasantness. Watching the glee on your child’s face when you buy that special toy is tremendous… but they come to expect to get what they want when they want it without working for it. Saving for something is a wild idea. Teaching values is not for wimps and requires manning up!

Walking the Walk

It’s a fact that kids believe what they see. If dads don’t live out what they are teaching, kids aren’t likely to adopt  values taught. Those little eyes and ears are on you all the time and when you drop an fbomb, skip church, yell at their mom or have a few too many cervesas they are storing it away in their data base-brains for later use. Being a man who truly wants to live a Godly life all the time is a tall order.

Kids will fare so much better when parents love and respect each other. Maintaining a good marriage takes work, sacrifice, humility and desire. Compromise is an absolute. Intimacy may need to be scheduled. (ugh) When parents are divorced it can be much harder to have a friendly/functioning relationship with the mother of your kids. It really should be a priority. You can only control your behavior, but you can certainly do that, and hope she will follow your lead. It will be so worth it over the long haul. (Think graduations, weddings and grandchildren!)

Almighty Buck

Money. Is it the root of evil? The bane of your existence? Or is it the ticket to freedom and happiness? None of the above. People around the globe live with little and with abundance. Some on each end of the wealth spectrum are very content and some will always be dissatisfied- seeking more. If money is the thing that drives you, that you talk and think most about or even worry about, you are not living the peaceful life God wants for you and your tribe.

Giving things up, living in smaller homes, taking public transportation and eating off the 99 cent menu don’t hold high appeal, but those things may be necessary for financial peace and freedom. Don’t be a slave to cash or the material things in life and you’ll teach your kids to be free as well.

A few last tidbits from the guys:

*Make playing with kids a priority. Fun speaks and teaches volumes.

*Don’t let peers or popular culture influence your parenting decisions.

*Stay calm in the midst of chaos.

*Look for unique ways to influence your kids (this takes double effort for part-time dads).

I hope to hear from some other dads in comments as well as perspectives from moms in the trenches.

A huge debt of gratitude to the following dads. I know you’ll want to see more of what they are up to and even say thanks.

K C Procter “You can be productive and present with your kids without losing your mind.”

Jeff Pennypacker The value of masculine mentors.

Kyle Benoit-

Joshua Zarzana Book: “The Son Who Chases the Father”

Adam Harvey

Ryan Bilello Twitter @Ryan_Bilello

Justin Farrell Book:  God and Grandpa: Lessons Learned on the Road Trip of a Lifetime



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Changing with the Seasons of Life

Posted by on Jun 8, 2015 in BOLD BELIEVER | Christian Living, Identity, The Blog | 3 comments

When I was 14 my parents divorced and the fallout wasn’t theirs alone. My stay-at-home mom had no workplace skills or experience so landed a job working hard, long hours for low wages. The courts weren’t as generous back then to single moms so the child support payments didn’t go too far. My dad wasn’t living the high life either, but he did what he could.

The result was a move for my mom, sister and me across town to a shabby neighborhood in a terrible school district.

That was the first big change in my life. There were so many emotions (anger, loss, sadness, shame…) but fear was at the top of the list. How would our mother pay the bills? Would we be safe in our new school? Would we make new friends? Would our old friends forget us?

It was a difficult transition made tougher by the fact that my mom was so ill-equipped and I took on the role of leader (at least in my mind). I became the “protector” and the go-to person in our little family. I helped research jobs and schools for my mom, got little jobs to help with my own spending money and advocated for my sister when there was a problem.

That first season of change set the stage for all the changes that would follow. I’m sure there are better ways to learn hard lessons, but when you are thrown in the deep end and decide that swimming is preferable to sinking, the teaching is indelible.

Becoming a wife then mother were scary changes. Becoming a college instructor was a big change. Facing and overcoming marriage challenges presented a huge change in my comfortable existence.

Changes in life aren’t only good or bad…they just are. When I lost my mom, things were altered forever. When I published a book and began hosting a radio show, my daily life looked nothing like it did previously.

I can still say none of those events would have been dealt with in the same way if not for that very first traumatic season of change.

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” (This applies equally to women.) He also said, “Nothing endures but change.”

Life is one big ever-changing training ground for the next transition.

Some people struggle in dealing with change more than others. The first thing that might help is to accept that nothing (and no one) remains the same. This tidbit is comforting to those stuck in a place they’d rather not be, but might be less so for those who are feeling content.

My transportation through the passage of changing seasons is believing that a loving God is in control of the constant changes we face.

How do you deal with change? Are you stuck, fighting forward motion? Are you hoping that nothing will shake up your current life? Are you waiting desperately for something to be different?

Get ready and embrace what’s coming because it will take you to the next place God wants to use you. Changes can be one of life’s most boldly exciting and promising gifts if you have the assurance that, “every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” (Romans 8:28, “The Message”)

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Boys Need Men; Impact of Male Role Models

Posted by on Jun 1, 2015 in PARENTING | Never Ending Story | 0 comments

Boys being raised without dads is pervasive in America. While my heart breaks for the single moms raising them, I pray that they won’t adopt a cavalier attitude of “I can do this without a man.” For women of strength, courage and faith, a male mentor for your son is a truly valuable asset and not one to be ignored because of pride. You are doing a terrific job, but boys do need a male role model.  Check out Jeff Pennypacker’s post below. Share your thoughts and opinions in a comment.

*Also, Bold Living airs on stations in various cities and for easy on-demand access, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes (search Diane Markins) from my website. Several guests have discussed this topic if you want more.  Diane Markins 

What’s stealing manhood from your son?

by Jeff Pennypacker

Thieves come to steal that which is most precious to you. The soul of your son is one of the most precious gifts given to any mom. What does a mom do when you’re working double-time, dad is absent, and your son’s manhood is being stolen in the dark of night?

The answer is to fight back, fight hard, and stop at nothing to win.

The problem is that the battle is inside the mind of your son locked up like a vault lined with 12 inch thick steel walls.

Is it possible to break through? The answer is yes, if you begin to understand how to unlock the vault.

I understand how difficult it can be to know what’s going on inside the mind of your son, not because I have raised boys, but because I was the son of a single mom. My parents divorced when I was six years old and I have spent the greater part of my 37 years trying to restore that which was lost. Seeking restoration led me to connect with many moms raising boys and every one of them have asked:

What can I do to shape my son into a man?

It’s a loaded question but I have tried to capture the solution in my newest book, Broken Boys – Extraordinary Men. In the book I discuss the major obstacles stealing manhood from your son and how you can overcome them.

To answer the question at hand, there are two very important things you can do right now that will get you on the path to success with your son.

First is to seek to understand what your son is going through on his journey. The second is to equip him with mentors to succeed.

Of course it’s sounds easy until you dive in, get frustrated, and throw your hands up in despair. Maybe I can shed some light for you out of this excerpt from my book, Broken Boys-Extraordinary Men.

Begin to understand your son and his journey.

“…When you have a clear understanding of what your son is going through and what he needs along his journey, you both will have a greater rate of success…Please set aside the notion that everything will “be okay” when Dad is not around. Everything is not okay. Your son wants to grow up and say, “I’m successful,”  “I’ve made it,”  “I feel valued,” “I feel loved,” “I know who I am as a man,” “I am a great man,” “I am a leader,” and “I will be a great dad.””

I believe once a starting point is created, then it’s crucial to provide mentors for his success. In my book I discuss getting mentors in depth. This excerpt is a partial story of how I got my first mentor.

“… In the middle of a heated argument, my mom told me if I wanted money for things, I had to go make it on my own… After our argument…I walked across the street, knocked on a few doors, and asked if I could mow the lawn. After I heard “no” a couple of times, I stumbled upon a “yes” at Fred Patrick’s house.

Fred Patrick became my first mentor. He let me mow his lawn, but he did more than that. He helped build me as a man.”

Mom, you are the first and last defense you have against society stealing manhood from your son. fight back, fight hard, and stop at nothing to win.

The entire mentoring process (and so much more) is outlined in my book Broken Boys-Extraordinary Men.

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Marriage Longevity Requires Good Humor

Posted by on May 25, 2015 in MARRIAGE | Permanent with Purpose & Passion, The Blog | 10 comments

[Reblogged and edited from 2010]

“Laugher is the closest distance between two people.” Comedian Victor Borge

As we celebrate another anniversary I am painfully aware that we don’t look like we did in the photos above. The lean bodies, natural collagen in our faces and long flowing hair (on both of us!) have changed. But the one thing that hasn’t changed is how much we still laugh together.

“I love how you still think he’s so funny after all these years.” This is a comment I hear on a regular basis from my friends about my husband, Brad. Don’t get me wrong, most of them think he’s funny but they don’t have to listen to him all the time.

I believe it’s one of the most affirming compliments we could get about our marriage. It always comes when I’m not expecting it, but have just stopped giggling over some stupid thing he’s said. I look over and Marilynn (Lavona, Bev, Paula…the list goes on) utters that remark with admiration.

There are so many critical elements and skills that keep a marriage alive: love, respect, forgiveness, patience, kindness and physical affection to name only a few. But shared humor and laughter top the list. If you can still laugh together all those other things will be by-products. It’s impossible to remain angry with someone when they’re making you laugh. When they’re working to make you smile because they care about your happiness, it demonstrates love. And for me, there’s nothing sexier than sharp wit.

My husband shared his secret with me a while ago. Sometimes he doesn’t feel like kidding around, especially when he walks in and I’m clearly not smiling. I may even snap at him because the cat brought in another lizard or the computer went down. Yet he knows that he has the choice, in those first few moments to act or react. If he ignores my mood, not snapping in return–and says something funny, I almost always come around to a lighter mood.

For years I was unaware of his intentional effort and the awareness he had of my attitude. Talk about being attentive, sensitive and humble! He knows he has the power to set the tone for (and sometimes salvage) our whole evening. We all have this ability if we approach relationships sacrificially. When our minds are on our own challenges and focus is inward, it’s impossible to be the leader and pace-setter in our intimate relationships.

As we learn Brad’s “secret formula”: taking the pulse of our partner, setting our own “stuff” aside, then deliberately infusing a dose of humor, we gain a tremendous advantage. I hope this works for you as well as it has for us….we’re celebrating our 36th anniversary on May 26th. Do you agree that laughter and humor are hugely significant in marriage? What other secrets have you learned for relationship longevity? Comment Diane Markins

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