Back from the Holidays

Our holidays were wonderful, and we hope yours were, too. We had the great privilege of celebrating my parents' 50th wedding anniversary, my dad's 73rd birthday, Christmas, and New Year's. Lots to celebrate!

Here are my parents and our family below, as well as Gil and I, my sister, Sheri's family, and my youngest sister, Sonya, and her husband, Brian, at the anniversary celebration.

One of the most meaningful parts of the anniversary celebration was the tributes that were offered. My sisters and I each wrote tributes and read these to our parents at the celebration dinner. Many family members, relatives and friends also sent tributes prior to the anniversary. We read excerpts from these to my parents and presented them all in a beautiful scrapbook that they could keep for a special remembrance of this event.

Eph. 6:2-3 teaches that honoring our fathers and mothers is the first commandment with a promise! God promises you "that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth." What a great secret to longevity and a way to heal many broken relationships between parents and children!

Don't know where to begin? Dennis Rainey, President of Family Life Ministries, and Dave Boehi have written an excellent resource on developing a tribute to honor your parents. For more information or to order your copy, click on the "The Best Gift You Can Ever Give your Parents."

Of course, most important of all was the celebration of our Lord, Jesus, our Savior and His birth. We are thankful to be His children and to have a part in His great plan to build the kingdom.

Sticks and Stones Can Break My Bones,
But Words Can Never Hurt Me...

Over the holidays, Gil and I had the opportunity to see the movie, "The Pursuit of Happyness." One scene in the movie served as an especially powerful illustration of the impact of our words. The star, Chris Gardner, portrayed by Will Smith, is a down-on-his-luck salesman who sells very expensive bone-density meters for a living, but who is not doing so successfully. The movie portrays Chris' heartbreaking struggle to provide for his family. As events unfold and his lack of success continues, his wife loses trust in him, leaving him and Christopher, their 5-year old son.

Chris keeps Christopher with him to raise after his wife's departure from their family. In a later scene, Chris and Christopher are engaged in a father-son basketball game, and Chris makes the comment to his son, "you'll never be that good [at basketball...I was never good, so you aren't going to be that good, either.] Because Chris was discouraged and disappointed with his life, he passed that disappointment on to his son also.

Christopher's demeanor immediately reflected his despondency at his father's comment. Thankfully, the father quickly realized the tremendous demotivating effect of his words on his son. He stopped and told his son, "Don't you ever let anyone tell you that you can't do something, even me."

His earlier comment could have impacted that young boy for life - believing as his father had told him that he would "never be that good." Are you aware of the impact that your words have on others, especially those who are closest to you? Or of the impact the words of others have had on you?

Healing vs. Crushing

Scripture warns us of the power of our words. James 3:3-8 states that "the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body... It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison." We have a choice to build others up versus tear them down. Which do you more often do, or is more often done to you?

A family member has often complained to me that his manager is constantly fault-finding. We talked about how constant criticism wears people down and brings out their worst, rather than their best. This manager's style causes team members to make more mistakes than they normally would. Although his intent is likely to encourage higher performance among his team, his critical spirit and perfectionism places the team on edge. They learn that that whatever they do, it will never be good enough for him.

Scripture contrasts the effects our words can have on others. Prov. 15:1 tells us that "a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Prov. 16:24 adds that "pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." We also learn that a kind word will cheer up an anxious person (Prov. 12:25).

God's Word reveals to us that what comes out of our mouths reflects what is in our hearts... "But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean'" (Matt. 15:18). If we recognize that our words are reflecting anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, and discouragement, rather than joy, peace and love, this can be a warning sign to us and others.

Commit today to ask the Lord to cleanse your heart and enable you to offer words that build up, rather than tear down, others. If you are experiencing ongoing criticism from another person, recognize this is about what is in their hearts and commit to pray for them. This way, we can use our words to rediscover joy and lead to more fulfilling relationships!

Please let me know what issues you would like to hear about in future newsletters. I'll do my best to address your concerns! I look forward to speaking with you all next month.

Many prayers and blessings to you all,

Relationship Tips is a monthly e-zine written and published by Suzanne Martinez, founder of SFM Consulting & Associates, LLC. Our purpose is to help leaders develop healthy leadership cultures and relationships - cultures that promote growth and optimize individual and organizational performance.

You may copy, forward or distribute this e-zine if this copyright notice and contact information for Suzanne Martinez is included.

Suzanne Martinez
SFM Consulting & Associates, LLC
Reston, VA 20194

Copyright ©SFM Consulting & Associates, LLC, 2006.

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Relationship Tips
January 2007
Vol. I, Issue 2

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Suzanne's Bookshelf

Over the holiday, I had the opportunity to read Robin McGraw's new book, Inside My Heart: Choosing to Live with Passion and Purpose. Robin is the wife of Dr. Phil, who leads a daily television counseling program sponsored by NBC. I don't have the opportunity just to read for pleasure these days, so I really enjoyed being able to do so.

In her book, Robin shares about growing up as the child of an alcoholic father whom she adored. His addiction to alcohol and gambling, however, created deep uncertainty and chaos at times in their home. Robin shares how she decided at a young age to choose differently in her life - to keep the things she appreciated about her family and parents, and to let go and choose differently the things that did not work for her. She believes those choices have led her into God's will for her life and to a joyful and fulfilling life.

Some of the key perspectives I appreciated about her book include:

  • how she has chosen to keep her husband and sons a priority over the years, and how her words and actions supported her decision to do so.

  • how her relationship with her twin brother, Roger, has enabled her to relate to men in a supportive and loving way. (My husband is an identical twin, so I understand how special twin relationships are). Robin feels that men are just "large-scale boys who just want to be loved and accepted." She adds that if women can appreciate both men's strength and their vulnerability, while providing them a soft place to fall, it will make for a perfect relationship.

    Robin and Dr. Phil have been married for 30 years and have raised two adult sons, Jay and Jordan. For more information and to purchase Robin's book, click here:

    Becoming a Woman of Godly Character
    Our words reflect what's in our hearts and also in our character. In the CD, "Becoming a Woman of Godly Character, learn qualities of a godly woman and the process through which God changes us throughout our lives to make us more like Christ. Hear answers to common questions women ask, and receive encouragement as you grow in your character and walk with Christ. Click here to order your copy.

    Reversing the Curse: Rediscovering Joy and Fulfillment in Relationships

    Reversing the Curse: Rediscovering Joy and Fulfillment in Relationships
    This four-week, small group study guide leads women to simple, but powerful, tools to reverse the effects of the curse and transform their relationships in amazing ways. As women learn and incorporate these three simple "power tools" into their relationships, they will find that they rediscover joy and fulfillment in those relationships in a new and fresh way. Click here to order your copy.

    Reversing the Curse: Rediscovering Joy and Fulfillment in Relationships

    About Suzanne

    Suzanne France Martinez
    Founder & Principal

    During the last 20 years as Suzanne served in the marketplace and in ministry, she learned to excel amidst the pressing demands and challenges of leadership in each setting. Suzanne's passion is to help leaders develop healthy leadership cultures and relationships - cultures that promote growth and optimize both individual and organizational performance. Suzanne desires to help leaders renew and refresh their vision, attain new levels of leadership excellence, and build healthy and strong leadership organizations.

    Copyright ©2006 SFM Consulting & Associates, LLC