Dealing with Difficult Family During Holidays

The Holidays are approaching, like in just a few days we will be celebrating Thanksgiving with our precious (but a bit crazy) family. We all have some crazy in our family, it;s the reason we love the Griswolds Christmas Vacation so much ... we can relate! Maybe even you have an Eddie in the family! And if you are thinking, "no one is crazy in our family!" Guess what ... YOU are the crazy one! Ha ha!

So here are a few tips to enjoy the Holidays even when hanging out with some crazy family members!

1) Have a Meeting before the Meeting.

What I mean is that if you are attending a family gathering with a special someone, make sure to prep before the gathering to get on the same page with each other. Like, how are we going to handle Aunt Cindy drinking too much egg nog at breakfast, or Uncle Jim's long hugs and attempted open mouth kisses.

2) Stay Clear.

Stay clear of the conversations you know will bring out the crazy. For example don't get all heated about politics, religion, or being a vegan or whatever hobby horse we may have, specially if we know it's going to cause an uproar! Just stay clear. And the reality is that we all know what those "stay clear" discussions are. Just don't!

3) Decide ahead of time what kind of time you will have.

Much of life is about decisions. So, before you go to a holiday gathering tell yourself, "I am going to enjoy myself ... I am not going to let anything bother me! It's going to be a good time. Yes, maybe fascinating at times, but great!" Manage expectations, as they say ... even though it's your own expectations. 

And lastly ...

4) Embrace the crazy.

I mean really, it's the "Eddie's" in life that make it all memorable. Again, we love the movie Christmas Vacation, why? Crazy Eddie! And all the other nutty quirky family members. Just embrace it, find it fascinating, maybe even entertaining! Find the humor in it all! Do this, and the Holidays will be so wonderful, and memorable! 

Just a closing thought: It's not your job to set everyone in your family straight. Get them to vote right, live right, think right, behave right, invest right, or even eat right! Let them be! Seriously, you just take care of YOU! 

Happy Holidays!

What Should I Do?

As a Pastor, Relationship Coach, and over-all Spiritual Adviser I am often asked, "What should I do?" in any given situation. The reality is, you can't always know just how things will turn out, especially if it's involving others. You don't know what they will ultimately do. Most people, if not all people go to the marriage altar fully committed to and believing that they will be together forever. At leasts that's the plan. I mean who, unless nutty, goes to the altar thinking, "If it lasts a year that's cool!" No, we all were thinking, "Till death do us part!" (Then when things get off course the thoughts enter of cutting the brake lines of your spouses car.)

I cried laughing at the movie This is 40, starring Paul Rudd (actually a High School friend of mine) when they talked about thoughts of killing each other and how would they do it; he said, "I'd throw you in a wood chipper!" She said, "I would poison the cupcakes ... so you would die slowly and peacefully." So funny!

All that aside, What Should I Do? is a great question we should always be asking ourselves, all through our entire life! Let's not get stuck, especially if you are in an unhappy place. Why stay in a bad place in your relationship? Why not change it up? Go get needed counseling! Do something you've never done before? Ask different questions? Ask even the tough questions you are afraid to ask.

The harsh reality is that often we don't know just how good or bad our decisions are until we are living in the results of them. Right? You think he's the perfect one, or she's the perfect one ... then 3 years later ... ugh! The annoyances! Ugh! The hard work begins! Or 3 years later you are just so thrilled about your choice of partner! That "perfect job" that seemed like a Golden Opportunity, doesn't seem so golden in 12 months, or maybe it gets even more golden. Sometimes you just gotta go for it! Jump and see if you fly or fall.

I'm currently reading a book, From Zero to One by Peter Thiel and he says that what often keeps people from achieving greatness is being too "risk-averse" meaning, scared to jump! Scared to try something new ... fear of failure. I've been there. But I've also been on the other side when you do jump, and hope to fly, but you fall. At those times, you get back up and look for another place to jump off again.

Just a side note here in case someone is reading into this post; I am not saying that if you are married and feel as though you are falling to just jump out of the relationship. As you know I am a firm believer in marriage and giving it every shot you can possibly give it before ever 'jumping off' from your commitments! Just to be clear IF you are thinking about getting divorced I highly recommend postponing it at least 3 - 6 months to work on yourself AND your relationship with a Coach, like me, or whoever to save it.

Trust me here, I work with a lot of divorcees and most of them wish they would have given it more of a shot before running the other way. There are a lot of reasons for this; no one wants to be considered a quitter. Especially if they quit without some valiant effort to fix it. But if there is valiant effort and it still ends, you will sleep better knowing you gave it a real shot! Make sense? I'm telling you this only because it will save you from so much guilt, shame, and self esteem issues!

In closing, so how can we make the best decisions when asking the question, "What Should I Do?"

1) Pray/Meditate on it. (Ask God for guidance)

2) Seek advice from friends, family, and professionals. (Those closest to you)

3) Look at the evidence. (What are the facts telling you?)   

4) Do the necessary research to get answers. 

5) Jump!

Rest for the Soul

I was speaking to someone the other day who used to be a pastor. He said he lost his family, his church and is driving a delivery truck now all because he didn't take time for himself and his family. He said, "I worked all the time, and I didn't know how to slow down or say no. I was trying to be the 'pastor' everyone wanted. I tried to be all things to all people all the time and I ended up losing myself and my family in the process."

I do not think this "busy thing" is unique to pastors. I think this is a problem we all face in culture today, especially with the use of all the wonderful technology, which is a blessing AND a curse. 24 hour connectivity is great for those who need to get a hold of you, but isn't good for the soul.

Take (1) day of rest, a sabbath - Exodus 20:8–11

It's important to have (1) day you cease from your work. Do what you love to do. On that day do only what refreshes you, builds you up, encourages you and makes you smile. Make sure to surround yourself with people who make you laugh, smile and feel good about life.

I must warn you, guard this day with your life! And invite close friends and family to hold you accountable to it. People will try to steal it from you, not intentionally of course, but it will happen. You are often the only one who can stand guard over your life, do it with all diligence! Your Soul will be glad!

I read an amazing book that touches on this topic even more, called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, and I did a review here!

God's Got You

Have you ever had that overwhelming feeling of falling? Or at least that feeling that you are slipping off a cliff that you are barely hanging on to? For some it's financial, others it's relational, maybe it's business, or it's your health that seems to be slipping away. No matter what it is the feeling is the same; You get that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach, you lose your appetite, and your hands get cold and clammy.

At some point we've each faced that feeling. So what do you do with it? How do you react? What do you say? What do you think? What is your response? I do know this, it's not healthy or even helpful to live there in that anxious fearful emotion. We must have another, more powerful, thought that leads to a better healthier emotion.

I believe if we can replace that fearful thought with a faith-filled thought we then have a hopeful faith-filled emotion that follows. Make sense?

For example, I was talking to a good friend of mine about some of my cares and worries and he said, "Timmy, don't worry bro God's got you!" And with that one thought I was able to replace my fear with hope. And I begin to dwell on that, and think, "yes God does have me, He always has, and always will."

One of my favorite verses:

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. - NIV

So to you I say, "(insert your name here) that thing you are going through, don't worry about it! God's got you! You are going to make it."

Make Your Life Great

Are you living the life you want to live?

Do you have the kind of friends you wish to have?

Do you have a job you love?

Are you happy in your marriage?

Are you happy with your relationship with your children?

Do you love your home?

Are you growing in your relationship with God?

These are some great questions for us all to consider this first week of the New Year; especially since we are just a couple days in to the New Year. What do you want out of this one and only life you get to live? If you want great stuff, then put great stuff into it! You get, primarily, from life, relationships, faith, love, companionship, what you put into it. 

If you want to make your life great, then start putting great stuff into your life ... today! Then everyday after that continue to put great stuff in, then continue on this path for the rest of your days here on earth. And if you do the universe (I believe it to be God) will bring you the life you've always dreamed of having. This of course doesn't mean you will be exempt from trials and hardships, life is life and always will be life ... and sometimes "shit happens."


Sit down this weekend and go through the questions above, answer them honestly. Then create a simple action plan to begin heading in the direction you wish to go. And remember it's not about getting there tomorrow, or even by the end of this year, but to be headed that way at least. Make sense?

Life Rarely Goes As Planned

I would imagine your life is much like mine; doesn't always go as I planned it. What the heck, it should know better! Ha ha! But I love that phrase, "With God there are no surprises!" So whatever it is in your life that isn't what you planned, my advise it roll with it. I always say, it is what it is and gripping, grumbling and complaining about it will not be beneficial or helpful in anyway shape or form. So chose happiness, smile big and do what you need to do. Life is way too short to be unhappy, and happiness is a choice and has very little to do with our circumstances.

I understand all the emotions we have when the thing we wanted to happen didn't, or the thing we didn't want to happen did, but we still have to make a choice on how we will behave moving forward. To me it's a sign of someone's emotional maturity to be able to take life as it comes, the good, the bad and the ugly, and maintain an optimistic happy faith filled attitude.

So whatever it is you are facing today, or what comes tomorrow just know this, 'it is what it is', so roll with it with faith and love and know and trust that God is right smack-dab in the middle of it with you! It's all good, because God makes it good! You got this!



I am super stoked about Mercy Church's theme for 2015: IMAGINE MORE! So what does it mean, Imagine More? *Real quick, before you skip over this, the last paragraph is for you! Even if you do not attend Mercy ... so if that's you, skip down and read!

In 2015 at Mercy Church we are going to IMAGINE MORE ...

  • More people coming to CHRIST!
  • More people getting BAPTISED!
  • More people LIVING their faith boldly!
  • More people SHARING their faith freely.
  • More MARRIAGES restored!
  • More parents being BETTER parents!
  • More HELP for the broken.
  • More people being SET-FREE from addictions!
  • More people living GENEROUS lives!
  • More PRAYERS for the hurting!
  • More children coming to KNOW and LOVE God!
  • More people in our community HELPED and SERVED!
  • More, more more ... of whatever God wants in 2015!

Mercy Church has undergone some major internal changes in order to position ourselves for sustained growth. For example we have established an Elder Team of 7 Men and Women to help with the spiritual health of the church, and a Trustee Team of 3 to help with the business side of Mercy. We have also added a NEW person to our teaching team, Chris Nicolosi, he and his wife Heather will be joining us January 4, 2015 as our Discipleship Pastor. 

*Just for YOU! What are you imagining for your life moving forward? This is the best time of year to be thinking about that you know! Do you have the job you really want? Are you working the hours you really want? Is your marriage going like you want? Is your family going like you want? Is your life going like you want? Do you have the friends you really want? On and on we could go ... what in your life is what you want? What in your life is NOT what you want?

I realize we can't control everything in our lives, some things just are what they are and all we can do and should do is get the right (winning) attitude about it. But I think more is in our control than we want to admit! We just hate having to make changes, come on, am I right? I am right! We want to lose that weight, but we just don't want to start actually thinking about what we eat, or getting a gym membership, or, or or ... too much work we think. Well it's true, 'living the dream' does take some additional effort initially, but once you are flowing that way its the same amount of work.

Bottom line: I want to challenge you to IMAGINE MORE for your life in 2015! You deserve it! 


Parenting is Easy, Not!

I used to have all the answers on parenting (long pause with some coughing ....) before I had teenagers! (Laugh) And parents who think they do have all the answers are ... well ... I can't really verbalize it, so I shall hold my tongue. Let's just say they need some Jesus!

Yes I am confident in the effectiveness of certain parental principles, and believe in and trust fully in the famous parenting scripture found in Proverbs 22:6 which says, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." I like how the New Living Translation reads: "Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it."

What I do know, and what brings me peace is just that; knowing that all the training I am doing isn't in vain, even if it seems like it is now. Eventually (when they are older) it will take root and grow and produce and become something beautiful. I suppose it's like last year when I planted some sunflower seeds and I went out nearly everyday to see what was happening - nothing, until finally I stopped looking and forgot I had even planted them. Until one day, seemed like overnight there were huge Sunflowers growing in my backyard, like as big as my head! Amazing! They were so cool and so beautiful.The Sunflowers were a sign from God that what I'm planting will eventually grow into something beautiful ... just keep planting, keep believing, keep watering and keep praying ... and don't lose heart!

Things That Surprised Me About Parenting:

1) How different and unique each child is.

This was surprising because I thought and expected both my children to be just like me and Jana, and in some ways they are, but in other ways they are like Martians from outer space. Sometimes little demon martians (laugh).

Our kids look like us physically, for the most part, and some of their personality traits are the same, but then there are other traits that I keep asking myself, "where in the hell did they get that @#$%&! attitude?" That's when I assume they are taking after the Grandparents, on Jana's side of the family! (laugh)

I personally believe that it is our job, as parents, to allow our kids to be unique and not try to get them to conform into whatever image I or society has for them. When I see parents do crazy power-play stuff to get their child to be like them it makes me sad. I've heard of parents holding the inheritance hostage if their child doesn't vote the same political party as them. That is crazy, like totally off-the-charts-nut-job-belong-in-an-institution-crazy, and not to mention controlling. That would be like me, as a Christian, saying to my kids, "If you are not going to be a Christian, then I am not putting you in my will." That would be some twisted whacked-out stuff! Yes, of course I hope and pray they will love Jesus and follow His teachings as I am attempting to do, but if not I still love them.

Side Note: All you get when you try to control a child with power-plays is a to-your-face compliance. You are forcing them to be fake and comply to your face, then behind your back they do whatever they wish. Parents who try and do that only show their lack of intelligence and overall lack of influence and frankly a lack of love.

2) You Can't Make Kids Do Anything.

Now, when they are small you can, without too much trouble, but as they get older it can be a bit more challenging. There may be some parent reading this, whose children were compliant, thinking, "my kids  did what I wanted and were easy." Lucky you! Most likely not a reflection of your awesome parenting skills, though they may have been awesome. Not all parents are so lucky. Though, in my opinion there are some benefits in a child being strong headed, most likely they will be a strong leader and change the world! (Of course, if they apply those traits for good!)

Someone might be thinking, "Yes you can make your child do stuff ... you can ground them, take away privileges, etc. until they comply." And this is sometimes true, but we've all seen children of parents who are hardcore military and yet the child still does what they want to do behind their parents back. You simply can not make them do what you want them to do. You can ask, guide, teach, train, encourage, and even discipline but you can't make. And trust me, I so wish you could!

3) A Child's Behavior is not Always a Reflection of Their Parent's Parenting. 

I say this because I have counseled many wonderful but distraught parents who are just beside themselves with guilt and feelings of failure because their children are making poor choices.  Come on don't you remember the poor choices we made as kids? And even if you were a perfect little kid that doesn't then magically transfer to your kids, wish it did, but it doesn't.

4) You Can't Change a Child.

They can only change themselves. Along with the help of parents, peers and of course God, but even God can not change someone if they do not want to change or allow God to change them. It starts with them wanting to change, then allowing others in to help, then there is hope.

5) I Thought All We Needed Was Love.

This has been the biggest surprise to me honestly. If I just raised my kids in a loving caring Christian home they would just be perfect little saints. Now trust me, I think LOVE is huge and is the best environment to raise a child in, but it doesn't make them perfect. Again, I think this loving home environment will eventually be appreciated in the lives of our children, but now it seems it is taken for granted many times. Right is right no matter the outcome.

6) Children Must Find Their Own Way.

I was always hopeful that my kids would just learn from my lessons learned as a teenager and take my word for why they shouldn't do certain things. I mean why make the same mistakes I made, right?  Ha ha! They must learn on their own, and we as parents must be there to help wipe away the tears, pick up the pieces and give big hugs.


Q: So Timmy, are you saying it doesn't matter how we parent, and that our kids are just going to turnout however they are going to turn out and we as parents play no role?

A: No! We as parents play a huge role in our kid's lives! Just remember not to go crazy if and when your kids do go a little crazy. Don't allow yourself to be riddled with guilt, shame and feelings of failure. You are most likely a wonderful parent, doing a wonderful job and your kids behavior is no reflection on your parenting, but rather a reflection of a unique individual trying to find themselves, just be there for them.


Hang in there, Parenting isn't easy, it's tough and at times heartbreaking. Put your faith in God, not any particular behavior you wish for your kids, and you will be okay, and your kids will turn out okay in the end, if not sooner.

Good Grief - One Year Ago Today

(My sister and me in 2011)

One year ago today (on July 29, 2013) my sister Kimberle Rae passed away at 40 years of age. Still weird to say, still weird in so many ways. There is a part of me that feels like she is just away on a trip and I will see her any day now. I know this isn't true, but it feels that way. It's just very weird. I don't know how else to say it, but it's just a weird feeling. It's also weird for me because we were on the "outs" at the time of her passing ... and that really sucks. I definitely try not be on the "outs" with anyone I care about now, it's not worth it.

The deep feelings of sadness are further apart with each passing day, and that is good and I assume the way it is supposed to be. I mean I don't think you necessarily hurt any less as time goes on, you're just able to cope with the feelings of loss better.

I think it's important that we don't die with those who have died. That's not what they would want, and that is definitely no help to all those who remain. Those who live should do just that - LIVE!

There is no doubt, I have been impacted by my sister's "death" (and really I like to say, "her move to Heaven") ... it's given me a different perspective on relationship, our time here, and just that life is fragile, temporary, and very precious! Treat it as such.