April 19, 2016

Gifts for our parents…..

by Rod Smith
  • Regular phone calls and frequent visits. Everyone likes to be in the loop with the people we love. If you’re too busy as an adult to make regular contact with your parents, you are too busy. Something about your life probably needs re-assessment.
  • Room for your parent to think and to speak and to tell stories, you, the adult son or daughter, may well have heard a thousand times. Stories are obviously a powerful link to past and serve to re-ignite the soul. Your parents’ repeated telling of the same stories are providing a valuable service.
  • Opportunities to be with your children. While a grandchild is not a commodity to be passed around, he or she is the promise of hope to a grandparent. As much contact as possible should be encouraged. Of course there are exceptions. If your parents are relatively sane and sober (when your child is present) then there is much to be gained from encouraging contact.
  • Hearty celebrations of milestones. Ignoring or forgetting a parent’s birthday is the same for some as ignoring the parent. If your parents’ birthdays are something you regularly forget there’s something deeper going on with you that may need your attention.
April 15, 2016

What kind of person do you want to be?

by Rod Smith


  • An honest person; one who lives with a clear conscience
  • A growing person; one who learns from mistakes
  • A kind person; one who is aware of the needs of others
  • A loving person; one who loves without being possessive or jealous
  • An educated person; one who is aware of the world and its fabulous beauty
  • A forgiving person; one who initiates forgiveness even when it is not necessarily deserved
  • An outgoing person; one for whom no one needs to remain a stranger
  • A self-starting person; one who seizes opportunities, especially those that enhance the common good
  • A reflective person; one who examines his of her life and makes necessary changes
  • A well-mannered person; one who knows how to treat others, even those who can do nothing in return.


April 9, 2016

Healthy and unhealthy people

by Rod Smith

Healthy people employ healthy boundaries. They are able to see the distinction between themselves and others. They know people require space and separation as well as togetherness and connection in order to function well.

Healthy people have a sense of direction. They plan a future and watch it unfold with a sense of excitement and expectancy.

Healthy people offer others a high degree of cooperation. They can work toward declared goals both alone and with others depending on the needs or task at hand.

Healthy people are unafraid to express their thoughts while also aware that everything they think doesn’t have to be expressed.

Healthy people can lead others and follow. They are not fixated on hierarchy or titles. They want the equipped or qualified person to do a job despite rank or the lack of it.

Unhealthy people are invasive, entitled, dismissive of legitimate authority, and constantly threaten to “go to the top” if things don’t go their way. They are injustice collectors; they are easily offended and easily bruised. They hold grudges and are slow to forgive. They crave attention – positive or negative. They work hard at derailing happy and productive people.

The challenge remains: bring your healthiest self to work everyday.

April 5, 2016

Prayer for today

by Rod Smith

On this particular day may you….

  • Be unafraid, unafraid to dream great dreams for your life and to work every day at making it exceptional. World changing and exceptional people do not wake up one day and discover they are key figures in the betterment of the world. They work at it every day. They work at it for many years before it becomes a reality. They design blueprints that stretch years ahead.
  • Be adventurous and embark on some new area of discovery, be it some area of personal research or on some literal journey to a new place. May you go somewhere you have heretofore been unafraid to venture. In so doing, may you find some degree of fulfillment or even of healing, healing you may have not known you needed.
  • Love in ways you have not loved before. May you reach out in fresh ways to those whom you have loved for years in ways that surprise you and others. May you also find love for the stranger, the men or women whom you have previously excluded from your social circles, the “them” and “those people” – may they hear from you (and from me) in ways none of us expect.
March 30, 2016

Bring the shifts you want….

by Rod Smith

Building blocks that will bring powerful shifts to your life

  • Deliberately become the most generous person you know. This is not about possessing wealth.
  • Hold everything you own with an open hand. Share, just as you learned as a five-year-old.
  • Empower others. You lose nothing when you help others to gain.
  • Say “yes” more than “no” to the adventures that come your way (Ed Friedman) although it’s necessary to learn how and when to say a firm “no.”
  • Develop the capacity to “see beyond” the limitations set by your family history, your nationality, and your faith story. (Also Friedman)
  • Learn to live within your means. In other words, make more money than you spend.
  • Determine to embody forgiveness, freedom, and grace for all who will repeatedly and naturally attempt to sabotage you. You will meet more and more resistance as you become more and more intentional about your choices.
  • Acknowledge and embrace your inevitable dark side. Try to understand it and accept it so that it will not try to take you by surprise in response to your denial of its presence.
  • Be gentle on yourself as you would with a treasured loved-one. After all, you are all you’ve got.
March 29, 2016

Boys can be very unkind to girls

by Rod Smith

Adolescent boys can be very unkind to girls.

Teach your sons to stop and your daughters to expose it.

I well know girls can also be unkind, but the following is to parents with girls. Your feedback and additions are welcome:

  • Listen for what your daughter is NOT saying. I know this is tough but what she is not telling you will reveal reams about her experience. No – I am not trying to be obscure.
  • Affirm your daughter when she advocates for those she considers victims and ask her about if there are ways she may need someone to advocate for her.
  • If she is being victimized she may not immediately inform, she may believe she has to tough it out. Like you did when she was younger and learning to cross a street, you may have to assure her that it is safe to speak even though it may be scary.
  • Encourage your daughter to show up, stand up, and speak up for herself and that doing so is essential and not selfish. Literally applaud her when she does.
  • Repeatedly assure your daughter that you are the only parent she will ever need, that it is safe for her to test everything about life by testing it with you.
March 28, 2016

Therapists and therapy – misunderstandings…..

by Rod Smith

Therapy, therapists, and the therapeutic process are often misunderstood.

“I went to a therapist and all he (she) did was listen – he hardly said a word.”

Good. You probably found a good one. He is with you to hear from you and you’d be amazed at how much you may learn from listening to yourself speak.

“My therapist is kinda new-agey – she says things like ‘ah ha’ and ‘hhhmm’ no matter what I say – I could sing a nursery rhyme and she’d be all over me with affirmation.”

Again, good. You are paying a professional to build a professional relationship with you and if you need to sing a nursery rhyme to her to do so then she will be thrilled. The game will end when you decide. It’s your hour, not hers.

“I told my therapist I was tired of my marriage and was thinking about an affair and he just nodded and smiled as if that was a really good idea. Does he not have any sense of what is right and wrong?”

Again, very good. He probably does. What is important in your hour together is what you consider is helpful or unhelpful for your marriage. You are there about your life – not his.

Quotations are not real – just typical.

February 28, 2016

Emotionally well humans

by Rod Smith

The emotionally healthy human

Makes decisions about his or her behavior based on internal principals that are established long before a decision has to be made. When faced with a moral dilemma the decision is already made.

Is deeply connected to family and to friends but is also able to function independently of family and friends when necessary. When necessary he or she can make very unpopular but necessary decisions.

Secures routine time alone: time to think, plan, read, and time to pray. He or she is comfortable with being alone and with necessary silence. Quietness and aloneness is a necessary ally and not an enemy to be warded off at all costs.

Is quick to forgive most things but is willing to trust differently in the future. He or she understands that forgiving doesn’t necessarily mean forgetting although there are times when it will.

Is as comfortable around wealth and status as he or she is around want and poverty – he or she adores or abhors neither. He or she is comfortable with his or he status in life.

Appears to be internally driven rather than externally steered. This can appear as arrogance to those who are tossed and turned by trends and fashions.

February 28, 2016

Bibles for Swaziland – OR – Facing a Missions Committee

by Rod Smith

Bibles for Swaziland* (no tax advantage or publicity available)

Saturday offering….. (if you want to skip church tomorrow!)

I am seldom afraid to ASK if it’s not for me or for my children – so, here goes:

About two years ago Thulani and Nate and I visited Swaziland to speak to a very large community of children in a community center.

We were in Pigg’s Peak. (Nothing to do with pigs).

The public meeting (of hundreds of children) was organized and hosted by the head (Bernadette Fourie) of a small private school called Hlanganani Primary School.

Bernadette hosted my family and my sister Jennifer Arthur in her home with her family for the few days we were there.

Hlanganani Primary School needs 150 (NEW) Bibles.

This week I asked Bernadette how much 150 Bibles would cost in USD for her to make the purchase in Swaziland and she came back with the grand total of $544.87.

I know I could write a check (and I will). I know I could write a grant request to area churches (and wait for 11 or 13 months or longer while they debate the pros and cons of sending money for Bibles to “Africa”).

I am not going to do that.

These students will graduate from university before most churches can make such decisions. But, as I have thought about it, here are some of the questions that are likely to be asked if I make a church request – and ALL of them I have heard in some form or another over the years (of course not only about Bibles) while visiting and working with churches who “do” “overseas” missions:

1. Couldn’t we collect some old Bibles and send them – I have a few in my house we never even use? Wouldn’t that make it more personal?

2. Would they appreciate them if they haven’t worked for them – you know how they are?

3. Where is Swaziland anyway? Is that a REAL place? Isn’t that just a fictional place from a Disney movie? (“No, mam, that’s Madagascar you’re thinking of, and that’s a real place too – believe it or not”).

4. Why would you send MONEY – how will you know it GETS THERE and how will you know it isn’t used for OTHER purposes? You do know how they are in Africa don’t you?

5. Don’t they need water and food more than Bibles? You know people can’t hear the Word if they are hungry and hungry – doesn’t they Bible say something about that? (I hear they need bicycles anyway.)

6. Have you researched ways to get cheaper Bibles – you do know that the Gideons put them in hotel for FREE? Couldn’t you get some of those?

7. $3.62 USD PER BIBLE sounds like a lot for a Bible – are you sure you can’t get cheaper? Are these soft or hard covered?

8. One hundred and fifty? Why can’t they share? I thought Africans were really good at sharing? Have you seen that picture on Facebook where all the little African children are sitting around with their feet touching while they share candy? Why can’t they do that with Bibles?

9. How will giving OUR money for Bibles to Swaziland bring in new members to OUR church?

10. We have people RIGHT HERE in our neighborhoods who need Bibles – are you giving to them?

11. Are these children (insert denomination) children?

12. What language will the Bibles be in and what translation – we don’t want to mislead people by using one of those new inaccurate translations do we?

13. You do know we are installing new carpets (insert your particular new installation: a new spa, coffee shop, fitness center, tech-center, roller-coaster, parking-lot monorail) at this time and all our resources are budgeted – will you be okay if we put it on the docket for next year?

14. Is the school (insert denomination) and has it been cleared by the (insert domination) national office as an official (insert denomination) mission site?

15. What kind of precedent will this set? Who else will want similar help? Have you thought about where this will end? Giving is a slippery slope I hope you know. Bibles today, what will it be tomorrow?

16. Can we pray about it and get back to you?

17. Do these children tithe? Do you know God will bless them if they tithe and then they wan’t have to go around asking for things and you know how much better they will feel about themselves.

Forgive my cynicism.

if you’d like to help let me know. I will send EVERY PENNY to Hlanganani Primary School and if we get more than $544.87 I will send that too. Send me a note if you’d like to help. I will send the total through Moneygram.


* I am making this request in my private capacity as a human being – you will not get a tax receipt or any publicity and it has nothing to do with where I work or where I attend church

February 14, 2016

Family Systems and Schools

by Rod Smith
Fundamental of Family Systems and schools…
All relationships impact all relationships and the impact further impacts all relationships. The classroom is a living system (a bicycle is not; a frog is) and is constantly changing. The WHOLE is more than the PARTS. Systems resist change. Healthier people negotiate systems from strength not weakness or whining.
Your students come to school with an (usually invisible) entourage:
The helpful entourage:
• Empowers the best in the student without enabling undesirable behavior
• Offers authentic affirmation
• Supports personal responsibility
• Listens to teachers and the student without running interference
• Allows for both success and failure
• Gets out of the way as much as possible
• Allows school and peers and life to teach their inevitable lessons
The unhelpful entourage:
• Personalizes failure and resists its possibility
• Sees pressure as synonymous with love
• Runs interference for the child and shifts responsibility off the child
• Listens to teachers like a hungry lawyer or a suspicious police officer
• Seeks own salvation or deliverance through the child
• Confuses anxiety, attention, and reactivity with love
• Is a firewall so school, peers, and life cannot unfold and teach inevitable lessons
Tomorrow – leveraging the entourage for the common good