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Author Archives: ilovestrong

About ilovestrong

Keith has over a decade of experience in the field, counseling and coaching individuals, couples, teens and their parents to help them improve their relationships and their ability to achieve their personal goals. For the past seven years Keith has developed specific programs to help teens and their families achieve success in all facets of their lives that may have eluded them in the past. Academics, relationships, athletics, college preparation and applications, goal setting and developing specific plans are areas where working with Keith as a Coach can help young people set the patterns that promise a brilliant future. He works with couples to help them achieve the kind of relationship they envisioned when they first made their commitment to each other. Strengthening communication and revitalizing their understanding and empathy for each other helps couples regain the romance and closeness they long for – even in their everyday “real” world. Having a coach is like having a GPS for life. Keith can help you get a realistic picture of where you are and focus on the best path forward toward your goals. Unlike counseling, coaching focuses on the future, not the past.

Letter to My Younger Married Self – Maiden vs. Married

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Dear 28-year-old Diana,

It’s happened…you’s a married girl (ala The Color Purple)! Your teenage dream of finding the right man and being dressed in white to walk down the aisle to meet “the one” Cory  A. Jones happened. I am currently 42 years old and have so much to tell you that will give you peace in your heart and mind about what to expect about marriage.

Remember when you conceived at age 15 and had a son at age 16? Remember when you thought your life was over when his father left him? Remember when you thought you were unlovable because who would love a girl who had a baby? Well, you met THE ONE who dispelled all those lies. You met THE ONE who gave you value and worth. You met THE ONE who gave you purpose. You met THE ONE who has great plans, gives hope and a future. You met JESUS! He is THE ONE who has never failed you, never left you and never forsaken you.

It’s because of Him, that you started to know who you were as a woman, mother and a potential wife. He’s the one that made the connection between you and Cory A. Jones, your now husband who you met at the worst job you two ever had. He knew who you would need to be beside you and be the father and step father of your children. He would also be the one to dispel the lies about what men do. You know. Those thoughts about past experiences that men will leave, men cheat, men are selfish, men leave their children, and on and on. He’s a good one, D. He will represent sacrificial love to you in good times and bad. He is generous and will shower you with gifts and heartfelt cards of encouragement (even though gifts aren’t your primary love language, you like it 😀). You’ll know that he’s the one not on day one but as years pass and good times and trials come, Cory will show you that he is not what your father did and he is not what your exes have done. He becomes a Godly man who yearns to grow in the Lord and seeks His wisdom on how to lead himself and his family. You should learn to accept that early on.

You’ll learn that marriage isn’t easy. It will take daily work of prayer, reading, counsel, and introspective analysis to continue to heal from past wounds of your father and past relationships so you two could conquer the future together.

When the going gets tough…

⁃    Keep fighting
⁃    Keep praying
⁃    Keep worshipping
⁃    Keep speaking life over yourselves
⁃    Keep loving
⁃    Keep the faith
⁃    Keep learning

Love,
42-year-old Diana

 

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Letter To My Younger Married Self – Love Overcomes!

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Dear 28 year-old Cory,

I know you’re dating Diana J. Novoa right now, and you will soon propose to her. Spoiler alert, she will say yes but the words coming out her mouth will be delayed for some reason (lol). Your Princess from Queens will in fact become your Queen from Queens (NY), your best friend and the love of your life. There’s some things you should know
before you say “I Do” and I hope you’re sitting down…lol.

In all seriousness…you’ve picked a winner. When you lose your job after the tragic events of 9- 11 and the financial company you work for lays off a great number of you’ll, your lady will stand strong. Although you’ll were planning and saving up for a wedding, her faith and commitment to helping you get back on your feet did not waiver. When you decided to take a low paying assistant job at a record company instead of focusing on the level of pay you were accustomed to, your woman did not flinch. She just found a way to make it work. She knew your desire to break into the music business and was totally on board. You married a strong women of faith. Which is one of her best qualities. She assesses a situation and tries to figure it out. She’s a real team player and it will teach you that she can be trusted to battle adversity, she will not fold when things don’t go exactly as planned. I know that’s one of your concerns. You want a battle tested warrior chick. You’ve seen what your mother had to endure and toughness is a quality
you really appreciate. Diana has a “can do/will do/by any means necessary” attitude.

During the first 15 years of your marriage the bond just continued to grow stronger. You guys have a, we’ll figure it out, lets see what the Lord has to say about attitude and your marriage received many compliments over the years as one that looks really strong and united.

Honesty is huge for you. I know you cling to the fact that your mother was a super hero on the outside and was tormented on the inside. There were so many things you didn’t and couldn’t understand growing up. Your mother dealt with a lot of pain, heartbreak, unmet expectations and a general lack of love and support being the youngest of three. So as time went on and the armor started to crack, it was a real emotional roller-coaster for you. One that manifested itself into not trusting women. In not trusting women, you would leave any relationship at the first sight of difficulty. But establishing a friendship with Diana, you were able to get to know who she really was minus the pressure of dating, which I refer to as the dating hoax. The dating hoax is when you put on your “best face/image/mask” for the interview. Dating can seem like a series of intimate interviews. But since you started out as friends with Diana, you established a
foundation of truth, because no one was ever trying to impress the other. There was no need to, we had no ulterior motives. We laughed, gave each advice and genuinely wished each other well. Rest assured you guys are still friends, you like being around each other and you’ll focus on being honest (not mean) and appreciative of how God wired each of you. You’ve grown to appreciate Diana’s love of family and being around people. She even convinced you to open your home to hosting a life group (bible study) and marriage mentoring group. You’re not antisocial but you do appreciate a quiet night of watching a movie over hosting families and their children, cooking, cleaning, facilitating a bible study which requires hours of study before your guest arrive. But you learned to love hosting, I know, I’m surprised as well.

Love will stretch you Cory, because when done right, it’s not easy. You will find that Love is not what you want to give, it’s giving what the other needs, but in a sacrificial way. You will have some problems in this area until you read, The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman as well as studying the word of God, specifically 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

Biblically, love is patient and kind. You’re kind but not particularly patient. That’s the New York City in you.

Love is not jealous, boastful, proud or rude. You struggle with the proud part, you will have to be more vulnerable. Keeping stuff in won’t work. The “tough guy/whatever/it’s all good” thing in marriage is a trait you must lose.

You’re not jealous, certainly not boastful and not knowingly rude. That pride is a deal breaker though; and I know where it comes from. You needed a certain swagger to keep your head up in your childhood to preserver. But as a born again Christian you are a new creation.

Love does not demand its own way. You certainly expect your own way, you will feel at times because of what you do, you expect to get your own way. You will have to work through that and not be so presumptuous.

Love is not irritable and keeps no records of being wronged. That is and has not been easy for you. You’re a score keeper, that’s why you love sports so much. Cory, you will sometimes keep score and that will cause you to believe and expect returns on your investment, for lack of a better word. It doesn’t work that way young brother.

Don’t forget the sacrificial aspect of Love. Love does not rejoice at injustice but
rejoices when truth wins out. That’s easy enough for you. You’re a fair man.

Love never gives up, never loses hope or faith and wins out in every circumstance. You’re not one to give up, you will be someone that’s open to marriage counseling, talks with other successful couples that’s been at it longer than you guys, visiting marriage conferences for tune-ups, reading books on marriage and speaking to your pastors when issues arise. You wind up doing pretty good my dude. Your wife feels like she’s the apple of your eye and second to no one, you have been able to prioritize really well. Even your kids know they must respect your bride at all times.

Overall, you’re doing pretty well 15 years in. But, it is a never ending effort. The minute you take your foot off the gas you literally roll backward. You must continually look to show how much you love and appreciate your spouse. And not in a job way, in a we’re not guaranteed tomorrow way.

Sincerely,

44 year old, Cory

 

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4 Lists That Can Save Your Relationship

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Before you drop that guy or girl due to boredom, examine how you are spending your time as a couple.

It maybe due to the fact that you have run into a routine just like Danielle Colley did which almost doomed her relationship.

What can help you get out of the rut is creating a series of lists that may put the energy you need back into the relationship and provide a closeness that’s second to none. A list like this can help remind you  what really matters, and help maintain positivity, clarity, and peace amongst the craziness of everyday life.

So as the weekend is approaching, you and your partner should sit down individually and create these four lists. By doing this exercise you may find some similar interests that you never knew you had. The four lists are as follows:

  1. Lists of Books you might read.- this list will give you different topics to talk about. You will get a perspective about a person you never expected when you are talking about a fictional story as opposed to what’s happening in social media.
  2. List of activities you would like to do together – according to a recent study 94% of couples  are happier when they spend quality time together versus 43% of couples that don’t. By having a list for activities that you would like to do will keep you from doing the same thing every weekend.
  3. List of new things you would like to learn – will keep you brain sharp as you progress in your marriage.
  4. List of places you would like to see – this will help you create long-lasting memories as you explore new places. Traveling to other countries not only give you the opportunity to see new things as a couple, it also gives you the opportunity to explore on you own.

 

So before you head out to another movie, or dinner, create that list so you can put that extra energy you need back into your relationship.

If you need so help brainstorming some ideas, or if you are stuck in a rut for some other reason, contact me for FREE 30-minute consultation at info@strive2succeedcoaching.com.
 
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Posted by on March 31, 2017 in Fun Friday, Uncategorized

 

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Letter to My Younger Married Self – It’s Just Right!

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Dear 26 year-old Carrie,

 

I send this to you to let you know that you’re doing the right thing.

I know how precious that feeling is to you.  I know that, even as you are in your early twenties and so unsure of what life holds after college, you know that you want to do the right thing.  Above all else, it is this desire that propels you in everything you do.  I should know, young Carrie, as I’m you many years down the road.

Joe is right for you.  And you can’t see it now, but he’ll be better than others that are coming down the pike.  He doesn’t look like the type you dream of, but he’ll outshine all of them.  Not because he’s taller or stronger, although he will be taller and stronger than every other guy you meet.  He won’t outshine the rest because he’s smarter than most, although he is.  And he’s not better because of his position in society or his money.

 

He’s better because he will accept you for you.  You know what I’m talking about.  That secret world you have inside of you that nobody knows about.  That secret person inside of you that you hide from everyone else.  You’ll be able to share all of that with him and he will understand and he will accept.  It might not seem that a guy like him would be impressed by a wallflower like you.  Here, in this college setting, everyone knows him while you remain nameless by most.  Don’t doubt that you have something to offer him that nobody else ever gave him.

 

You will grow with him and let him be himself.  You will help foster the best inside of him.  And he, in turn, will coax out of you some of the most amazing things.  Things you are afraid to say, afraid to write, afraid to admit about yourself.  Let him be that strong man you need by showing him you are the strong woman he can enjoy.

 

Just be gentle with him.  This road will lead you through dark places.  Accidents.  Deaths.  Operations.  There will be times you question your very self.  And he will be there to hold you and put you back together.  When nobody understands, he WILL understand.  

 

When the baby dies, he won’t stop loving you.  He will convince you that you are not ugly.  He will help you find yourself again.  

 

Nobody will ever get under your skin or occupy your thoughts like he will.  Conversations with others will pale in comparison.  People won’t believe how happy you make each other.  It will be an amazing road.  

He’s very convinced of the correctness of his thinking.  And he will think you’re the only one for him.  Let him be right.  


Love, 38 year-old Carrie

 

 

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Letter To My Younger Married Self – A 7,000 Mile Journey For Love.

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To my 23 year old Barbara,
Congratulations! Tomorrow you will celebrate your wedding in Qingtongxia, China. You will have one sister, a handful of friends, a hundred or so new relatives, and 20,000 villagers on hand to share in your joy. It will be covered by national news media and bring instant fame to your in-laws, who can count on one hand the number of foreigners they’ve ever seen in person (most of them from this week!)
In a few months, you’ll double own on the love and get married again; this time surrounded by all seven sisters, plus 200 extended family members and friends in the U.S. You’ll have traded your red wedding dress for a long white gown (those puffy sleeves will forever say 1991!) and the humble rural courtyard for a glitzy hotel with a view of the New York skyline. Your husband will know only three people present.
In the short time between weddings, you will have moved from rural China to suburban America. It will mark the beginning of a lifetime of adventure that will include (spoiler alert) living in three different countries and raising two exceptional daughters, who will serve as testament to this marriage. You’re marrying outside your race, religion, native tongue and passport country; yet over the years you’ll managed to not let these define your marriage. Over the next 25 years, together you’ll strengthen and enhance the union of your two unique and complementary personalities.
Despite this rosy picture from the future, I’ll share a few things to consider as you embark on your journey.
Study Chinese
.
Yes, you already speak Chinese, but really make a concerted academic effort to learn to not
only speak and understand, but to read and write at a deeper level. The snowball effect of
studying a mere 30 minutes each week over 25 years will yield fluency you can’t even
imagine today. Flash cards and work books will suffice in the beginning, but it will get easier and more convenient with the advent of internet and podcasts. It will fulfill your
relationships with in-laws and extended family. You’ll be better equipped to have meaningful conversations with more people who know your groom but aren’t bilingual. You will not need to rely on him to translate.
Consider keeping your maiden name
Don’t run on autopilot. Take the time to contemplate the decision by recalling what you
bring, as an individual, into the marriage. If you adopt his name, anticipate what you’ll need to maintain your sense of self. Don’t lose your identity in the titles wife or mother. Fear not, your love of great white sharks and trampolines play a prominent role in your 49 year old life, but you will have a child who graduates from college before you go back for your master’s degree. Take time for yourself. It is not being selfish.
 
Schedule date nights
Observe them religiously. Give them the same priority you give to your daughters’ swim
practice schedule. Be more creative than dinner and a movie. Consider alternating turns
planning a surprise outing or activity for the appointed time. Remember that simplicity is
highly underrated. He’s more sentimental than he lets on. Similarly, schedule daddy-
daughter time. Give him time and space to develop his own relationship with your
children. Let him parent in his own style.
Don’t be a nag
He will respect and value your decision to delay a career to stay home with the children.
Recognize, however, that he will bear a self- imposed pressure as the sole bread winner.
Go easy on him as he transitions between jobs, and negotiates benefits for your
international assignments. (Yes, you’ll be back in China to raise your children.)
As you celebrate tomorrow, take a good look around. There are many faces that will continue to be present as you celebrate future milestones. There are some who will join your journey further down the road. There are others who will only be here briefly. That adorable 7 year old nephew who is dying for a ride in your wedding carriage will come to live in your home, and become a brother to your daughters. A second nephew will round out your household. Be patient and show grace.
Tonight, you are blinded by love. You cannot comprehend the enormity of his devotion. He is leaving his family, friends, and country behind for you. For You. He will always have your back. And you will always hold his heart. So tomorrow, and every day after: Engage. Say YES. Take more pictures. They will document for future generations the story of the couple who loved each other enough to say “I do” twice.
Love,
The 49 year old Barbara.
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Letter to My Younger Married Self – The Best Things are Sometimes Surprises.

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Dear 28 year old Lani,

You didn’t marry the man of your dreams. He is the one you’ve prayed for and he’ll surprise at some times. The vows you make today will be tested every day and you will learn the meaning of integrity through your commitment to each other. You had 5 years to learn about him but it’ll be like anew as your husband, so be fair and forgiving. Don’t overthink nor be self-conscious. He will love you selflessly and always be the first to apologize because he can’t stand seeing you disappointed. He cherishes you that much.

You will be reminded to appreciate every moment together and not to take each other for granted. So don’t. Even at moments of disagreements and when you think you’re right. Every year will go by quick, even faster with a child. You will raise the most precious boy together who will fill your life with joy and drama. Yet, you will always find time to keep that fire burning because after all that you do, you’re still alive. He will worry about you, cry with you, get frustrated, grieve, want you, be challenged in his habits and pray for you more than ever. And you will do the same with all of your soul. You will love each other through it because it is all worth it. It will not be easy but nothing neither of you can’t handle without God and community of friends who truly love you.

Enjoy this day. Though it might seem as part of your bigger life “plans”, you are making the right choice with this man. You will love each other more with each passing day. Trust and believe that you will need it. Hold him up. Hold it down. Don’t know what the years to come will bring but he will be all the man you need. Love it all.

Still very much in love,

34 year old Lani

 

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Letter to My Younger Married Self – Even if I Don’t Know It!

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Dear (Twenty-Two year old) Rab,
You are loving and wise beyond your years. At twelve years old, you told me that I would be your wife
one day. That really scared me to death. How does someone so young, know about this type of love.
I was certainly no expert. But you told me, “I have seen it from my parents and grandparents. I know
what I want.”
So I decided to give it a shot. Everything was going great, until I turned 14. I started to mature and folks
began to notice especially the boys. You realized they were starting to notice, so you broke up with me,
thinking I better do it now before I have a reason and there is no way we can get back together. That was
another wise move. Even though we would date off and on, after the break-up, I needed to be
unencumbered until I was ready.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t capture the magic, I had with you. I tried! While still in high school, I met and
was engaged to another man. I even had a child with him, but in the end, it didn’t last.
So off I went to work in Boston, MA. We will still remain good friends, but in my heart, I knew something
was missing. You would feel it too. That’s why you will come and romance me.
After that, things will get really serious. At the age of 20, we will have a child and ultimately you will ask
me to marry you.
Well, today is that day. It’s our joyous wedding day and all of our friends and family have gathered here,
before God to bless this union. We both still have a lot of maturing to do however, true love and life
awaits us. We will learn and grow together.
I want to thank you for your solid work ethic and extraordinary ability to love me through any trial. As
we go through our marriage journey, please keep encouraging me to continue my education because it
will benefit our entire family. Thanks for allowing me learn the Truth about our God, Jehovah and share
it with everyone that I know and love.
Pour as much love and effort into yourself as you do others. I know that your high energy will infect our
home. Whether you are in a small apartment or large home, you are guaranteed to host loving
gatherings with family and friends. Our game nights with the kids will be awesome. Please plan on us
attending plenty of sporting events, Broadway shows, amusement parks and music concerts. You’ll have
Princess, Ninja Turtles, Power Ranger, and tea parties. Be ready for debates and open and honest
communication.
You’re a great listener now but you will hone your skills. You develop super powers to listen and process
information. For example, when you are busy eating, resting, watching TV, or playing a video game, you
manage to hear me. In fact, you can hear everyone in the room who is talking to you (your son, two
daughters and me). When I ask you what I just said you’ll recount each simultaneous conversation
succinctly.
When you are in good health, use your knowledge and abilities to accumulate genuine relationships and
not just material wealth. When your health is waning, may you be able to garner strength from your
loving strong bonds, support team, and family. We are the generation that our parents and
grandparents rely on, so thank you for your loving care and patience with them. The children are
watching you so, I’m glad that they love and respect your fine example as a doting husband and father.
May you be able to say that you lived out your dreams with the one that you love more than air. Plan
and budget your money wisely. Travel often. Go on vacation with the entire family and then take a trip
as a couple at least every two years. Maintain your love and strong marriage and it will prove to be a
blessing and protection to you. Just know that when your heart is full of love, you’ll have grandchildren
to make your heart and cup overflow.
Thank You for believing in me, even though I didn’t know it, right away!
I love you my Love!
Rhonda Harrison
 

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