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Learning to Dream Together

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
October 24, 2023 6:37 am

Learning to Dream Together

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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Hey, parents. Parent here. Not to sound old, but if I had a dollar for every time someone told me how to parent, well, let's just say I wouldn't need to read this ad to you today.

I'd be sitting on the beach somewhere with my feet up. Truth is, I don't trust everyone to tell me stuff, and I don't have time for that 500-page book either. But I do have time for Focus on the Family's weekly age and stage emails that have tips for intentionally raising my son at his age right now. It's super easy.

Go to, put in your kid's age, and get parenting advice you can trust. You know, let's do all that you have said. I'm with you, heart and soul. And in marriage, I think that's one of the best responses when we move in and out of a different season, and God will lay different things on our heart, different callings or different dream or even maybe a new bucket list item. That's our colleague, Dr. Greg Smalley, speaking about the power of dreaming together as a couple in your marriage. And you'll hear more from Greg and his wife, Erin, on today's episode of Focus on the Family. Your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly, and I'm John Fuller. Greg and Erin are doing such a great job leading our marriage and family formation team here at Focus. They're wonderful speakers, prolific authors, and so passionate about helping husbands and wives thrive in their marriages.

And of course, they've been on this program many, many times, but today, we want to feature something special. We've got an episode from our new crazy little thing called Marriage Podcast, which they began hosting in March of this year. This is a weekly podcast about a half hour long, and Greg and Erin not only share their expertise as professional counselors, but they are very open and authentic about their own marriage experiences.

Quite funny, may I add. I really encourage you to check out this new podcast from Focus on the Family, and we'll have a link to that at our website. We certainly will, and you'll find that link in the program description. Now, Greg and Erin also have a book with the same title as the podcast. It's called Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage, and we're going to recommend you get a copy of that book for your marriage. And now, Jim, here's how the Smolleys began their podcast episode about learning to dream together. I'm so glad that we're talking about transitions and how do we dream well together, because these are important aspects of marriage that I don't think people often really talk about.

I know, Erin, for us, one time really stands out. You talk about a huge transition, really about pursuing a dream that you had had since you were a little girl. Yeah, I always wanted to adopt a little girl because I was adopted, and we had talked about that before we got married. And several years into our marriage, after having three biological kids, we decided to begin exploring adoption. Yeah, and this really became a shared dream.

I mean, the more that I understood that, boy, God really placed that on your heart, I loved it. So one time we even started praying for adoption. We decided that we were wanting to pursue a little girl. We were going to name her Annie. So we started praying specifically for an Annie, and we prayed and prayed and prayed, and nothing happened.

And a good friend of ours, remember that conversation in my office about his trip to China? And he told us about a little girl who we later found out her name was Annie. And so thus our dream came to fruition, and we began walking that out and began the adoption process and brought little Annie home July 4, 2010. You know, what really stands out to me about that season as we were trying to adopt Annie is that for me it was always about, you know, I can't wait till we get her. Really looking back, the power of you and I dreaming together was not actually getting Annie, although we love her and she's been in her family for, what, 12 years now. But it was really, it was the pursuit, the journey, the day to day as we prayed, as we dreamed, as we talked, as we cried, as we grieved what wasn't seeming to happen. That's the true power of dreaming together. Absolutely. I don't know that we ever had a season where we were more connected because we were moving in such unison towards the same goal, but it was that journey that really ignited our hearts. And we've had several other experiences like that as well, but that one really stands out.

Yeah. And as we transition through different seasons, dreaming is so important. You know, we had a great conversation with our good friend, Dr. Julie Slattery about how do we navigate transitions in our marriage? You know, how do we find ways to dream together?

She's an author, speaker, the founder of Authentic Intimacy. So let's listen to what Julie had to say. As you and Mike have made this big transition into empty nests, other people are, I mean, we're all constantly moving in and out of different seasons.

Could be a different job. It might be we've sold a home, a child has started school, whatever that season is. What has really helped you guys navigate out of one chapter and kind of into another chapter? I think one is recognizing the seasons and they are chapters and that gives us permission to grieve and to say goodbye to a chapter. Because we don't do that well.

No, we don't. Yeah. I remember when we were done having children, like just needing to take a moment and to grieve that I'm never going to be pregnant again, we're not going to have a little baby again. Like just to say this is a season and there's a loss here and it's okay to name it.

And the same with empty nests. Like it is a season and there's a loss and there's a time to look at the pictures of the boys when they were little and remember what it was like for them to come down for breakfast every morning. And not to glorify it because there were certain there's certainly other parts of it where it's like I'm kind of glad that one's over. But I don't think we do a very good job of remembering and acknowledging seasons unless it's like a big birthday or something. But it also gives us the opportunity to thank God for the season and ask for his vision for a new season and to begin to vision cast and dream together.

That helps a lot. Well there's something so powerful about doing that together as a couple because then it moves you together into that new season and really just connecting as far as what is this like for you. Well this is what it's like for me and this is what I'm feeling and you know having that opportunity just to care and connect. But then moving into okay what's it going to look like.

We get to decide. And I think there's something in our American culture that tells us that every season is going to be better than the next. You even have people tell you I know this is going to be great you know like look forward to this and that optimism can be somewhat helpful but I think it also keeps us from lamenting. So there are couples going through seasons where it's not going to get better. Maybe they're facing a terminal illness or they're facing the loss of a child and the optimism of no it just keeps getting better.

It's not true. God keeps renewing us. He keeps building the inner person. We have eternity to look forward to. That is the optimism of the Christian faith but sort of the American dream keeps us from recognizing that there are losses and there are things that we let go of that we're not going to get back. But then that also frees you to say OK. And every season there is something that I can thank God for. There is something we can rejoice in.

What is it. And I think that perspective has helped. And I love that because even within our Christian culture it's easy to when faced with a trial to remind each other that God promises that through this he's going to grow us in some way or we'll get some something some benefit versus that's true. So I'm not saying that's not true versus really embracing the loss and the pain. And as I look back over the last couple of years through COVID I think that's one of the big issues that that we we didn't do well collectively is embrace the loss. And there were so many small losses huge losses health losses death I mean job you name it. And I think one of the best things that that Aaron and I did and we just kind of stumbled into this we would you know just to get out of the house we'd go for a walk and part of what we would ask each other couldn't go anywhere else walking was a great option.

We put masks on our dog head out. But we did say what's what's a new loss that you've experienced me over the last couple days of the last week. What has that been like. I think that's one of the benefits now as we look back. That really taught me to better pay attention to just the the lot the everyday losses that every one of us experience the letdowns just making it OK to go Yeah what was that like for you and just to care versus what now I got to solve this one more thing that I got to fix you know is as your husband.

But that that made such a big difference. One of my friends who is also a therapist we used to say well life is just one loss after the other. So that's a real positive way to look at it. But even in those seasons of loss there are things to be gained. And it might be that I'm changing and growing and becoming more compassionate because of the loss. And so it's just looking at that like you're saying there's hard seasons and sometimes it doesn't get better until we meet Jesus face to face and but there's things that he's doing in us and through us. And I think that's part of preparing us to see God and growing spiritually like if I have two hands and I can only hold as much as two hands can hang on to earlier in life my hands are filled with the dreams of my kids and the busyness of that and career ambition and the Lord begins to take away those things that are good.

But I have too much grasp on. And so with the losses it's like wow I have an empty hand here. I'm going to learn to hold on to God. I'm going to learn to put more weight into him and more importance on my walk with him to the point where you see those who are in their 70s 80s and further. There's very little in their hands anymore.

What is what do they wake up to do every day. God still has a purpose and part of the purpose is really preparing our heart for him being all and everything. And so there is a beauty in that that is what our faith points us to that again if we just get so enamored with how do we stay looking young and get the most out of this life.

There's nothing good coming from our losses. One of my favorite stories in the Old Testament King Saul his son Jonathan God kind of gave him a vision of attacking the Philistine army by scaling this cliff and when you get to the top you're going to take on this whole Philistine outpost crazy dream. But he shares that with his young armor bear in as I read that story couple things hit me like first of all, that sounds like the most insane, you know plan ever and I could only imagine that young armor bear wanting to go.

Yeah, but recently I have an injury to my leg. I can't probably climb or that sleep on it for a while or whatever but I love his response when he hears this dream in a sense that God had laid on Prince Jonathan's heart. And so this young armor bear says, you know, let's do all that you have said I'm with you heart and soul and in marriage. I think that's one of the best responses when you when we move in and out of a different season and God will lay different things on our heart different callings or different dream or even maybe a new bucket list item that with Aaron is I hear those things and we do talk about that.

We talk about that quite often, you know what and I'll just ask her, you know, what's something new that you've been dreaming about her? What's something you want to do before you kick the bucket? What's a bucket list item that I want my attitude to be a do all that you just said I'm with you heart and soul, but Jonathan's response was going let's us climb up there and perhaps God will show up perhaps we'll win it's up to him, but I love that word perhaps So it sounds like for you as you guys have moved into this new season. I hear that I hear an open-handed perhaps God is going to move will just climb will enter in this new season. I love that. I'm also hearing that you guys have really joined together sort of like that young armor bear.

I'm with you heart and soul. What's it been like for you as you've entered into this new season even ministry wise that you were talking about that your husband Mike is now part of that with you. What is that done to you as a as a wife? What's been the benefit of having him with you in that dream actively, you know, how's that impacted your marriage even? Yeah, I have to say he's been with me way before today. I was actually thinking that yeah because we were around 10 years ago when you begin to dream about authentic intimacy and I know Mike was hundred percent with you like yes do this and I know I'm sure there's been different seasons rapids and smooth sailing and on and on. Yeah, but what has that been like?

Yeah, it's amazing. It really is I I think earlier in marriage when I really felt called like I I got my doctor degree. I was excited to practice. I was excited to do all that God had laid on my heart as a young woman. And then we started having kids and my husband was getting established in his career and I really felt like God was telling me like put your ambitions on the altar.

And trust me with them and invest in your husband invest in your kids and I basically didn't work, you know outside the home. I just did a very little counseling here or there and I had all these visions to do the kinds of things that I'm doing today, but God asked me to lay them aside and invest in my husband invest in my family invest in my kids. And I think about that decision and how hard it was back then not knowing if I'd ever pick up what I felt like God had laid on my heart and the ministry that God had given me a glimpse of. Man, this is just what I love to tell young women and young men like there are seasons and there are seasons where God says let go of your dreams trust me do the work I put in front of you invest in your spouse honor each other above yourselves and it comes back. And now I see this amazing man who is saying to me like I see what God has given you to do.

I just want to run with you. This is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. I'm John Fuller and today we're featuring an episode of our Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage podcast hosted by Dr. Greg Smalley and his wife Erin Smalley and their guest was Dr. Julie Slattery. Now the Smalley's provide a lot of Bible based practical help for couples in a book they've written with that same name as the podcast Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage. We'd certainly recommend you get a copy of it from us here at Focus on the Family.

Our number is 800 the letter A and the word family 800-232-6459 or you can check the program notes for details. And now more from Greg and Erin Smalley on today's Focus on the Family. Well, I love that I do to powerful statement. I just want to run with you because as we transition in and out of these different seasons in our life the fact that that I know that you're running with me that there you're there with me that we're doing this together. We're pursuing whatever God has next and we may not know and that's why for us. We've really prioritized. We've got to keep them dreaming together and figure out what's next as we enter this this new season and there's nothing more comforting to me as a wife as a mom a woman that you are with me that we're in this together that I'm not alone.

And I really do think that is such a part of the design of marriage that God intended. Yeah, so as we look to the horizon, so let's say we've entered into a new season or there's some transition, you know it that we're going through we have powerful experience is to ask each other questions to do some conversation starters around dreaming together. And so we have actually a big list in we'll put a link in the show notes, but that would be fun Aaron if you and I pull from a hat. So literally if you could see into our studio, we have a hat. We've got some questions there.

We don't know what they are. So we haven't had time to prep. So this is just kind of for us what it would feel like us going out on a date and kind of doing this. So so number one K and this is for you.

Okay. So are there things that you set aside when we got married that you would like to consider pursuing now? Yes and no because I often when I look at my dream list, I realize that so many of my dreams have come true and I know that you have been such a part of that. Because you have supported me so much. I mean one of the big things I wanted to do is travel then I wanted to get a master's degree and you have walked with me through those dreams traveling together and just the opportunities that God has given us as well as a master's degree. So I would say that a lot of my dreams have come true because of you and I love that and thank you and like I've talked about before I want to be a dream maker for you. Yes, which I love hearing that but what I love even more is that you live that out. So it's not just words.

There's actions that go with that. I mean, I love how you answer that but for me what I saw that you really put aside was your schooling becoming, you know full-time counselor and really operating in these amazing gifts that God's given you and I say this to you. I love bragging about Aaron. She truly is one of the best therapists that I've ever seen. I've been around a lot of good ones trained a lot of great ones and you by far are the best but I say that only to go. But yet you put that aside like you felt so convicted in really believing God was calling you to for a season to really be home with our kids in and I'm so grateful because now I'm watching how you're just blossoming going man.

What would that have been like, you know, if this was 20 years ago that you were really able to fully exercise all who God has created you in these amazing gifts that you have so I want to say thank you for putting that stuff aside. Well, thank you for saying that and I always smile when he says that because I personally think he is the greatest marriage counselor. I know so okay fine. We can argue about that. No, you said I am so I'm going to take a now I get to ask you a question. So what goals do you have for our marriage in the years ahead?

It's not deep at all. Um, I the biggest goal that I feel God really laying on my heart is I want to get so good at repairing conflicts after they've happened because you were never going to keep them from happening. That's so grateful actually when we disagree and we go through some challenging discussion and I appreciate that because what we find in a marriage is that typically one pursues repair and one withdraws from repair and Greg you definitely over the years have been less likely you're motivated to come and do the repair work. I'm usually the one pursuing that so I love hearing that.

All right, last one. So where do you hope to be in your career 10 years from now? That's a hard one, but where I could dream about like if there were no limitations, especially with time, if there were no limitations, I would pursue my doctorate and do some more education and continue building a private practice and supervising others and building kind of a marriage center. What I love with what I do right now is I see couples and work within the private practice, but then I get to come to focus and do things like this with you and, you know, speaking and writing and all of that comes just handed. They work so well together.

There's such a synergy with both of those realms, but then also getting to experience that with you. I told you we're inviting you to have a seat at the table and so you literally just at the table of our date. So this is the kind of stuff that we love to do. Yes, but now I'm hungry.

I want to go on a date. Well, now we're going to move to our weekly Q&A, and this is the part of the show where we answer your burning questions about marriage. Today's question comes from Caroline, who lives in Oregon, and this is what she had to say. Dear Greg and Erin, I've been struggling with all of my kids being out of the house, but my husband doesn't seem to feel the same way. How do I talk to him about the loss I'm feeling when he doesn't seem to be struggling like I am? Yeah, I would say first and foremost, really stop the judgment, because as I hear that question, I hear you even judging your own feelings, like I'm really struggling with this, but he's not.

And what that does is it comes across as suggesting that he should be struggling in the exact same way that you are. Yeah, and the truth is there has to be room for both people's grief, and often people grieve differently. And so what an opportunity for you to be able to lean in and share, like this is really hard for me, and I'm wondering if you're experiencing anything different, any grief, any emotion, you know, how do you feel about our kids being gone? Yeah, because, you know, for me, if you were to come to me, Erin, and we've gone through this, so let's talk about this for a second, so three of our four have transitioned out of our home, and two are married, one's in college, and that was a hard season. And we did grieve very differently, very much like Caroline's talking about, that a lot of tears for you, for me, it would have been really hard for you to come to me and go, what's wrong? Like, what does this mean that you're not, I don't see the tears, that you're not grieving like I'm grieving, you're not struggling with this, versus really asking something like, you know, what do you miss most about having kids in our home? Like, that would be easy for me to talk about, oh yeah, man, I miss the family time, I miss really that there's an energy when all of our kids are home together, just the fun conversations, the way that we play together. And then you could even follow up with, again, not, you know, how are you feeling, or how are you grieving, but you could even say something like, you know, maybe what's been the hardest part of having our kids gone? Because that would, I tell you, where that would hit me instantly would be that I miss having some of my very, very best friends with me full time. But I tell you, I would not have thought of any of this had you simply said, how are you feeling? Or what's really going on with you? Or you don't seem like you're grieving.

None of this would have come to mind. So what I appreciate about this is that if, as you asked that a little bit differently, because again, all I would need to do, right, Erin, for you is just to say, you know, how are you feeling? Like give me three feeling words.

Yes, because for me, that is an easier task than for you. Or for me, that's a little bit easier to really access those emotions in my heart that I typically could ramble off about five emotions. This is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. And we've been hearing an episode of a brand new podcast from Focus on the Family called Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage.

It's hosted by our colleagues, Greg and Erin Smalley. And that was a fascinating conversation, Jim, about why married couples should be more intentional about setting goals and growing together and even dreaming about the future of the relationship. And this is such a timely message because research shows that as couples go through different seasons of their relationship, it's pretty easy to drift apart if we're not careful. In fact, one tragic trend today is something called the graying of divorce. And that's where older couples, once they hit that empty nest phase, look at each other. And typically it's wives that are filing for divorce saying, I really don't know you anymore. My job, our job is done raising the kids and I believe our marriage is done. It's such a tragedy and I really urge husbands and wives listening right now, don't let this happen to your marriage. Put the hard work into strengthening your relationship each and every day. Invest your time and your energy so you can create a legacy for future generations of your family and let us help you in that process. Yeah, we have so many resources and a great place to start would be by listening to the weekly podcast, Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage.

With Greg and Erin Smalley. As I mentioned earlier, they also have a book by that same title. And we'll be happy to send a copy of that book to you when you make a donation of any amount to the Ministry of Focus on the Family. Your monthly pledge or one time gift helps us continue making great resources for marriages. So please donate today and know that your generosity is helping fuel broadcasts and podcasts.

Our number is 800-232-6459. Again, 800, the letter A in the word family, or you can donate and get a copy of the book, Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage, when you click on the link in the program description. Coming up tomorrow, we'll have Greg Kochel offering a challenge to people of faith.

If Christians want to make a bigger impact, they need to get a little bit more education about the issues themselves and about some method, I offer one, some method that's effective to move forward. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening today to Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back next time as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. Our biblically based counseling will help you find the root of your problems and face challenges together. We'll talk with you, pray with you and help you find out which program will work best. Call us at 1-866-875-2915.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-24 08:25:10 / 2023-10-24 08:36:23 / 11

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