Archive for September, 2010

September 28, 2010

“Something Beautiful” – worldwide competition with prize

by Rod Smith

Send me your "Something Beautiful"

Write something beautiful – and send it to me.

Keep your contribution to 200 words. Pick a moment from today or from any time in your life and recount it.

I have a few motives:

1. I like to surround myself with beauty. Your writing will assist me toward that end.
2. I believe that each of our lives is a collection of its own set of miracles, its own quarry of joys and delights, even if it is, at the same time, filled with challenges.
3. I’d like to publish a few of your offerings (thus the word limit) and send a prize to the writer of the best piece.

So, have at it. I will be the sole adjudicator of your “something beautiful” submission, and, until it goes to press (if it does) your only reader.

I will send the winner his or her choice of three books: one of the Joan Anderson books I mentioned earlier this week or a copy of a book I have read every June for about 8 years: Failure of Nerve by Ed. Friedman. Please place “Something Beautiful” in the subject line of your Email or your comment. I will close submissions by Friday, October 1, 2010. I look forward to reading something beautiful from you.

Email address:

Rod Smith

September 27, 2010

The Joan Anderson books are what I suggest you read……

by Rod Smith

“I married 19 years ago. We have struggled but have always been able to talk through things. I am the major provider with a more established career. Our daughter turned 18 this year and moved in with her boyfriend before she finished school. This, and the global financial crises, has created turmoil in our life. He has moved out. He says if we are to get back together changes have to happen without defining the changes. I have been moody, depressed. We are working with two separate counselors. My counselor says he’s dealing with ‘emotional immaturity’ and being more ‘real.’ He said that a separation was not the best solution. His counselor told him a separation will do us good. She told him to avoid contact with me. I am devastated. I cry everyday and he says that pushes him farther away. I am not sure we are with the right counselors. I asked him to move back and he said that wasn’t a good idea.” (Heavily edited for space)

You will not be able to help the marriage until you begin to learn to care for yourself. Please set aside three days and read “A Walk on the Beach”, “A Year by the Sea” and “An Unfinished Marriage” – all by Joan Anderson.

September 23, 2010

Hope, joy, and severe acts of prayer……

by Rod Smith

Hope, hope, and more hope.....

I am thoroughly convinced that there are always reasons to hope. No matter how dire or conflicted the circumstance, no matter how bleak the prognosis, while there is life, and even beyond it, there remain reasons to be hopeful. Like you, I’ve seen hope in action. I’ve seen painful family scenarios, the most estranged of siblings, the most obstinate of personalities, turn, and find previously unimagined degrees of humility, and move in healthier directions.

But of course evil abounds, and it tries to rob us of hope. Of course men and women are capable of inflicting much hurt and destruction. But I believe that the good in this world by far outweighs the evil. There is goodness and kindness and benevolence latent in every man, woman, and child, and I believe it far exceeds an inner desire for hate and destruction.

And while I am well aware that this idea will be considered absurd in some circles, and heresy in others, I’d suggest that when a lonely woman reaches again for alcohol, or the deprived man engages in illicit behavior, or an adult or teenager self-destructs, these behaviors are desperate acts of prayer, desperate attempts at sanity, desperate attempts to relieve pain and even restore hope.

September 23, 2010

Verbal abuse…..

by Rod Smith

“My stepfather has become increasing verbally abusive to my mother, who only tries to please him. He has always had a reactive streak in him, and calmed down a few years ago, but with the increase of success within his business he has become far worse than I ever remember. I often overhear screaming fights where he lashes out at her, and tells her she is an idiot, has the brain capacity of a gnat and how he is the best she will ever find. When it comes to affection, he only shows me anything when there are other people around, and I have come to the realization that he does it purely as a front. He often states how much people admire him for taking on a family but with his character I doubt he would have a family without us. He emotionally abused my brother so much that he eventually left to live overseas to gain some peace and perspective. I am studying so listening to their fights is part of the package.” (Edited)

Abusive behavior will prevail and grow only if accommodated. Your stepfather has no incentive to change while his behavior is tolerated. You are an adult: remove yourself from his environment and hope your mother does the same.

September 21, 2010

Ten goals worthy of pursuit……

by Rod Smith

I have much to yet accomplish....

1. To travel widely at home and abroad.
2. To ride a horse at full gallop.
3. To write a book.
4. To give away one full salary check at least once a year.
5. To forgive those who have offended, hurt, or damaged you.
6. To live intentionally in a community of family and friends.
7. To tutor a child who is struggling at school.
8. To affirm and thank those who have challenged you to live a life of integrity.
9. To be an agent of grace and healing for those who are suffering.
10. To identify each of your five to seven areas of gifting and deploy each one to its full capacity.

September 20, 2010

Help me understand my son……

by Rod Smith

First necessity: RELAX

“I have a married son and a young grandson. From four months the baby was left with his maternal grandmother for daycare. I am totally against that he is not in a crèche. I believe that the crèche is the correct place. I have spoken to my son on several occasions in vain. My son and wife always know better how to raise him. I made a decision to back off and decided I would shower my love on this child when he is with me. My son and wife must lead their own lives and make their own decisions. I grab the child at every opportunity to give him my undivided attention. Almost everyday I take a walk and we spend a few minutes together. I feel that’s enough cause he needs to be with his parents. Recently my son mentioned he would like to us to behave more like grandparents. This broke my heart. Please help me understand my son and his wife. I feel they don’t know what they want or are just selfish.” (Edited)

Relax. Resist all impulse to correct, control, and direct the actions of your son and his family. As you are doing, enjoy the child. Your son will grow up – your grandson will insist upon it.

September 19, 2010

Grandmother chess

by Rod Smith

“My wife’s mother is a stay-at-home wife while my mother has a full time job. To save us money we drop our baby (almost 6 months) off with my mother two days a week. My mother-in-law loves this arrangement. My mother, at first, got all worried that our child would not know her as well as she knew her other granny, and so we made a point of dropping our daughter with her most Saturday afternoons even when it wasn’t always convenient. It feels like we are trying to do an equal time deal so we don’t offend anyone. Please comment.”

Meet your mothers (both) over a cup of tea....

You know your mother: talk directly with her about what you perceive is happening. Lovingly, kindly addressing your mother about this wonderful “problem” will be good preparation for the many challenging conversations any parent will surely have during the joyful twenty or so years of rearing a child.

Your baby is not a pawn in a game of granny chess. Do what is right for you, for the baby, and for your respective mothers – all at once! Be clear and compassionate with both grannies regarding what you need from each, without confusing the needs of the baby with the needs of the grandmothers.

September 16, 2010

Readers respond to “how do you cope?” column…..

by Rod Smith

“You asked about feeling trapped. There are many mothers-in-law who are rejected by daughters-in-law. At first I took the rejection personally and my confidence was shattered. I have since met and heard of many women in my situation. There is something in the psyche of (some) women that causes them to reject her husband’s mother. It has been excruciatingly painful for me but I have no option but to cope. I miss the children more then words can describe. I have been completely excluded from their lives. My son has been forced to be a stranger to me. We were close all his life till the baby was born.” (Shortened)

“I am married to an alcoholic.  He is two different people. The one I love. I have at last come to the conclusion that I can no longer live with the other. I have tried everything over years only to finally understand that only he can save himself. My saving grace is ALANON.  After two years and only now have acceptance that I can’t help my husband. It has been a difficult road especially since we have had many amazing times together when he has been sober.  But it never lasts.” (Minimal edits)

September 15, 2010

A reader writes about how she copes as the wife of an addict…..

by Rod Smith

1. The most important thing for me is to have a few trusted friends to confide in when things are going wrong. These are friends who listen and are supportive. They don’t try to influence my decisions. Good friends offer the right kind of sympathy and are non-judgmental. Platitudes do not help. Having read all the books and sought professional assistance, I realise that every case is different and there is no “one shoe that fits all.”

2. I keep my social life going; getting out and about when possible.

3. I read a good book when I can’t sleep.

4. I write e-mails to my really good friends who have emigrated.

5. I remind myself who I am and that I am in no way responsible for what is happening.

6. I look for opportunities to show my love to my spouse in the belief that love will conquer all.

7. I understanding the disease is largely beyond his control and when he reaches out for help I can be there to give it.

8. I reach out to God in the depths of my despair and feel his comforting arms around me.


September 14, 2010

Weakness will dominate unless leaders challenge it….

by Rod Smith
Victims will sabotage your organization

Resist the sabotage of the "weak"

Leaders! Are you able to challenge the immature among you to greater maturity?

Can you confront those among you who’d refer to remain irresponsible? Can you teach those among you who are fed and reinforced by their demands for empathy, acceptance, and understanding, that it is not more understanding or more empathy that is needed, but rather a gentle and firm, proverbial (not literal) kick in the pants?

If unchallenged, weakness will dominate any organization. The discontent employees, managers, teachers, nurses, will get their way and unhappy people will prevail. The call for sympathy, understanding, and patience will grind down leaders until leaders buckle under their persistent cry. The “victims” (complainers, whiners) will get their way while a leader’s call for integrity, for responsible behavior, for accountability, will be labeled as uncaring and unkind.

Legitimate calls for greater accountability from leaders will “prove” that leadership “out of touch with reality.” When you, the leader, decide to stand up to the discontented you will get reactions you’d rather not endure – but this is part of the price of leadership.

Unhappy people train (disciple, coach) the vulnerable around them to feed their morose perceptions and then fight back when their diet is changed – facing this rather unpleasant music is also part of the cost of leadership.