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March Madness – March 27, 2013 Chapel Hill Leads Group Presentation

Presentation (Tell your story):

Anybody here like watching basketball?

March Madness, right?

For 43 years, since I was eight years old, I’ve delighted in watching the New York Knickerbockers. Back then, my dad and I watched them together. To this day, when they win, I am elated, smiling from ear-to-ear. When they lose, there remains a sense of sadness that envelopes me like a cloud, and I must pray to shake it loose. I so much want to see the Knicks win. How my heart longed for my dad to win. Not at gambling, but at life.

When I trace back over my choices in activities like lead in the school play, newspaper editor, excelling in studies, and especially in track, it became apparent to me that while I did enjoy some aspects of these activities, all of this was done primarily to get my father’s attention away from those beautiful Freehold horses whom I envied. I can still hear him yell my name across the track motivating me to go faster. I won races but didn’t win his heart.

But I could sing. I love singing the Psalms at church and with my husband and two children whom we homeschool. My dad was a singer in the order of Frank Sinatra and had made a couple of albums while in the Air Force of the songs “I Believe” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone” to prove it. **Words are powerful. Our Creator spoke the world into existence. Words are powerful. They can help and heal or they can hurt and destroy. Did I say words are powerful? I think I inherently knew this at some level in my youth since, in the late 1960s, the only time I didn’t struggle with stammering and stuttering words I uttered, was when I sang them.

Ever regret words that came out of your mouth? I often have. Eventually, I decided to ponder misplaced words to find their roots before denial or shame set in, and I repeatedly turned my attention headlong to my pet distraction like a hit and run. I took a long look at, and invite you to think about, which sports teams, musicians, actors, professionals, games, food, drink, drugs, or other activity have you placed your hearts, your affections upon. Is the degree to which you have, said to be inordinate, out of balance? Have you noticed family members vying for your attention? Sigmund Freud summed up a well-lived life in two words: Lieben und Arbeiten. To love and to work. Now mind you, it’s not ‘to love to work’ although it is a blessing to enjoy one’s work, if not inordinately. See how powerful words are? Leaving out that little word “und” or “and” changes the meaning entirely! Leaving out a word better spoken or not leaving out a word better left unsaid has changed the courses of many lives. Let’s talk about food for a minute. People talk about their relationship with food, and we all understand this. When eating food becomes something I do to have energy to do the work I am called to do, and not for my personal fulfillment, enjoyable as it is, then I understand the purpose of food.

When I ran this by our 11 year old son, he said with a big grin, “Yes, mom. I eat food so I’ll have the energy to do what God called me to do. Which is to eat.” 🙂 He then proceeded with, “I have an inordinate desire not to inordinately desire things.” 😉

These things make great servants but poor masters! Therefore, use your inclinations and desires as a barometer to tell you where you are in your closest relationships. Take the time to find out where the labyrinth began lest you waste your pain. Go one level deeper until you find the root of your misplaced identity that you might plan peace and have joy with those you love, and in your work so that you live well and die well with no regret. This kind of thinking can lead us to go back even further in history, further than Anna Freud, Guntrip, and Winnicott. This thinking points us to our Creator. We can discover that we were made in His image, relational, as is this Triune God. Identity that flows from His covenant love is securely attached and confident, a cord of three strands, not quickly broken.

Though our failed business hit us hard ten years ago, it was in the midst and aftermath of it that the ABCs journal was born. ABCs of What Children Need From Their Parents – ABCs You Can Learn Throughout Your Lives was written in 2004, spawned from and as an application of the thesis on friendship entitled, “The connection between object relations, social support, social adjustment and health” which was written in 1996.

I began to ponder deeply about attitudes of the heart, and the relational activities that flow from them. This providence impressed upon me that, especially in difficulties, parents have the opportunity to shape the souls of their children, help them internalize tension-regulating functions that enable them to honor God, contributing in a meaningful way to society. My calling from 2004 to 2010 also included talking over the phone with hundreds of chronically ill patients all over the country who were taking medications made by the company I worked for. I did this full-time and then part-time for that last year and a half. During that time, I offered support, mostly, of a listening ear, and held workshops, training colleagues to do the same.

In our pursuit of good health, we can inadvertently obscure the relational conditions that create poor health. Mind your air quality, eat right, exercise, get enough sleep. Do all these things without neglecting to find the insight to unblock the heart-flow of words that can repair relationships. Studies have shown that if relationship is immediately re-established following conflict, frustration or disappointment, without rejection or threat of rejection, physical symptoms of fatigue and inactivity were reversed. *Good family relationships are a reward unto themselves, leading to:

healthy relationships with others

stable mood

ability to cope with fear

employ-ability  -and-

physical health over time

*Stop, think, and pray, because the alternative is having:

the tendency to sabotage relationships

feelings of neglect

alienation from others

experiencing rejection and distress producing isolation leading to further distress and poor health

I felt both sorrowful and serene as I recounted this story in mid-February of this year, 2013, as water flowed from the sink and my eyes while washing dishes. If we reflect on and capture in words our first relationships, even through the tears, we can make our way through the relational mazes of our lives, and come out with insight into where we have been and direction for where we want to go.

Even though in another sense, we often find ourselves where we are, with no idea how we got there and have no idea where we will end up, we can train our perspective to be thankful in the face of our fears. Public speaking, right along with death, for many, dregs up much fear. If it were just about me and my story about how this journal came to be, it wouldn’t be worth the time away from my family or your attention for 10 minutes.

The ABCs journal can be a foundational tool to help challenge presuppositions, take yourself in hand, restrain attitudes and activities that take you away from where you want to go, freeing you up to connect and do what matters most with the time you now have. The best thing I think I could do now, and with the time I have left, is to continue to internalize these things so that I know how to pray and serve as a buffer for the next generation, helping them in the things that matter most. Will you join me?

That said, after 40 years since they last won a championship, I wonder, do the Knicks have a shot at it this year? And you’re thinking to yourself, “Doesn’t she realize she’s in a college basketball state now?”


Afterward:  You drew this out of me, and I thank you.

My appreciation for the Chapel Hill Leads Group goes beyond words, really. This public presentation is proof in itself that relationships make a huge difference. I began this learning pursuit in February of 1993, over 20 years ago, with much trepidation. It is only now, having a group of people who care to listen that I could bounce ideas off of, reflect on your responses to me, your questions, your ideas, your presence over the last three months, that I have found the words I need, to, somewhat coherently, communicate these ideas in a way that seems to me, comprehensive and clear, that before, were left lying dormant, burning on my heart and tormenting me to unleash them. I thank you for listening, and I thank God for this opportunity to share what He placed on my heart to share with you. Please let me know if you would like a copy of this presentation or any resources. Again, thank you.


*From the thesis: The connection between object relations, social support, social adjustment, and health (Harvard, 1996)

**For deeper study on words, read the Bible. Read commentaries on the Bible. The books, War of Words and What Did You Expect – Redeeming the Realities of Marriage both by Paul David Tripp are worth a careful read. has links for these and more resources.

Listen to the song: “Daughters” by John Mayer


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