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I’ll Be Home for Thanksgiving

Where we are born, where we are raised, and where we return for Thanksgiving is based on a long-term chain of events that vastly predates our birth

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Years ago, when my mother was still alive and I routinely flew up to Connecticut from Washington DC for Thanksgiving, I had a profound realization during one of my flights. My father had passed away years ago, but my mother carried on the tradition of having the kids assemble at her house for turkey and all the fixings.

My plane ride that morning was actually on Thanksgiving Day, which stood out when I made the reservation as the best and least expensive flight. Surprisingly the cabin was not crowded, I guess because nearly everyone else who travels for the holiday departs a day or two before Thanksgiving. In any case, departing the ‘morning of’ can be a welcome change.

Ruminating in the Clouds

During the flight I became pensive. “I’m flying back to Hartford, Connecticut. Why?” Because that is where my parents settled, after a courtship that started when they first met in New London years back. My mother was from Springfield, Massachusetts and my father was from Hartford, Connecticut. As a family, after living in Hartford for a few years, we moved to Bloomfield, Connecticut.

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On Thanksgiving, among others times, I would land at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, be greeted by my mother, and then make the drive 15 to 18 minutes back to Bloomfield.

What if, I surmised, after meeting in New London, Connecticut my parents settled in, say, Providence, Rhode Island, or Cincinnati, Ohio? What if I’d been born to other parents? (Yes, I understand the intricacies of following that line of thinking.) What if my family was from Decatur, Illinois, or Paducah, Kentucky, or any one of 100s of other places? If so, on this particular morning, I’d be flying to one of those locations. That got me to thinking about the fragility and randomness of life.

A Chain of Events

To whom we are born, where we are born, where we are raised, and where we return for Thanksgiving is based on a long-term chain of events that predates our birth not just by years or decades, but by centuries and more. I was thankful to be flying back to Connecticut to see my mother, brother, and sister and at the same time realized that everyone on the flight, more or less, shared fairly similar circumstances.

We were all flying to Bradley International Airport, but for a quirk of fate, or happenstance, any of us could’ve been flying to Altoona, or Annapolis, or Austin.

Unlike most flights that I take, on that particular journey, at that time in the morning, I felt a kinship with everyone on board. I was thankful for my life, thankful for my family, and thankful for the opportunity and ability to travel to where I choose. What an experience, what a world, what an existence.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



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Business

Gone in an Instant

Our e-files are so fragile that they can be gone in a moment’s notice

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Many people retain all of their text messages with their various correspondents. My daughter Valerie, for example, has more than one hundred text message correspondents — in other words, a running dialogue for each of the people with whom she sends and receives text. I only maintain two such longitudinal files, and one is with Valerie. With friends, relatives, clients, and acquaintances, I save the text streams for a few days or weeks, but then clear them out.

One evening, my sister Nancy texted me, and I texted her back. We went back and forth for a while. So, my message roster now included both Valerie Davidson and Nancy Davidson. After a while, I decided to clear the Nancy Davidson file, and you know what’s coming. I hit the wrong “Davidson,” file, and in an instant, more than a thousand texts between my daughter and myself were gone.

These texts included photos she had sent that I hadn’t yet downloaded, the picture of her new ring,  emojis that we passed back and forth, and everything else that transpired between us.

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Our Texting History, Vanished

I was beyond crestfallen. I felt as if I had lost something near and dear to me. It was devastating. I sat down in the big chair in my office and contemplated the possibilities. I contacted my computer guru and asked him if a deleted text message file was retrievable. He said with my Android system there was no such capability, only on iPhones. I called my sister and explained what I had done. She commiserated.

Then I sat down again, for a long time, and I thought about a friend who had lost her 23-year-old daughter and only child, seven months earlier…

I called my daughter, and I gave her the news. She didn’t seem concerned. I explained to her that she was the only one with whom I had maintained the longitudinal text trail. She told me that she maintains the text trail with everybody. “It’s not like you’re going to run out of room.” I asked her if she knew of any way that it could be retrieved. She didn’t know, either. We parted company.

Eureka! If she never deletes text message histories, then she has everything that’s transpired between us. I called her back, and she said she did have them all. So, on another day, when we figure out how to transfer what she has back to me, or least downloaded them into some text file, barring her losing her phone or accidentally hitting the delete button like I did, our texting history will be intact on my device.

A Fresh Start

I feel like I’ve been given a new lease on life. The greater question now is, what kind of technology and what kind of lives do we lead when a longitudinal history can be wiped out by mistake in single second?

It is not comforting to know that critical files can be gone in a flash, but this is a condition of our era. For thousands of years, people simply spoke to each other with no way of recording anything, or even knowing it would one day be possible. Relationships right up to the 1960’s were based on real time conversations in person or on the phone. Answering machines existed in the early 1960’s but were not widely available until the mid 1980’s.

As technology became more and more powerful, as we all know, everyone has the capability today to save and store virtually every encounter that they have with anyone else in the world. Still, it is disquieting to know that our e-files are so fragile that they can be gone in a moment’s notice.

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Faith

Decrease in Marriage Continues a Spiraling Wave of Problems, and Churches are AWOL

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Over 60 years after the decline of marriage began in the 1960s due to the rise of the “free love” mentality, the results are more dismal than ever. In 1960, only 28% of adults were single. Now almost 50% of adults are single. Marriage rates are at their lowest ever in U.S. history. There are eight times more children born to unmarried parents than married. 

 

This is a problem. While progressives love to tear down the traditional nuclear family, they can’t argue with the increasingly negative facts coming out. Cohabitation arrangements break up around five times more frequently than marriages, and unplanned pregnancies occur three times more often with cohabiting couples than married couples. Unmarried couples with children are three times more likely to split up and have lower incomes. Children without fathers are more likely to suffer an “Adverse Family Event,” which is abuse, neglect or other trauma. Disregarding the old saying “Marriage tames men” is why we are seeing a spike in bad behavior by men.

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Two authors with extensive backgrounds in marriage and the Christian church have written a book, Endgame: The Church’s Strategic Move to Save Faith and Family in America, outlining the crisis and showing how the church has failed to address it — but also providing specific solutions to fix it. “Endgame” refers to the crumbling of marriage. 

 

Co-author J.P. De Gance, a Catholic who came from the political sphere working for Americans for Prosperity, pioneered a marriage relationship project called Culture of Freedom — later rebranded as Communio —  which had tremendous results. He launched it in several cities, working with churches and faith-based organizations. In Jacksonville, Florida, which had dismal marriage rates, divorces fell 24% after the three-year project, which focused on 58,912 couples.

 

Similarly, John Van Epp, an evangelical relationship expert, ran his own Christian marriage relationship service, Love Thinks. In one area in Indiana that he focused on, divorce rates dropped 20% over 10 years. 

 

What the authors found is that churches are lacking in marriage ministry. Three out of four churches don’t provide any substantive relationship courses or resources for married couples. And even though singles make up almost 50% of heads of households, more than 90% of churches don’t have an adult singles ministry. 

 

What should be most alarming for Christians is the decline of relationship health is now the most significant factor in disrupting a relationship with Jesus. This is why church attendance is at its lowest rate ever on record in the U.S., 47%. In 2000, it was 70%. Church attendance is largely determined by one variable — parental marriage. Both children with unmarried parents and divorced parents were equally less likely to attend church.

 

Marriage crumbled because of the decoupling of sex, romantic partnerships and parenting. Today, the majority of couples have sex before starting a relationship. The authors point to online dating as one of the culprits — it’s made it easy to leave a relationship the instant a problem arises, because you can find a new romantic interest right away.

 

They found a correlation between atheism and lack of married parents. Millennials who were the least emotionally interested in attending church were also the least likely to report having a positive relationship with their parents. The 30 most well-known atheists in the world had a defective relationship with their fathers. 

 

Progressives may pretend that Christians are no better off than the rest of the population, but the authors found that churchgoing Christians have sex more frequently and are happier in their sex life than those who don’t attend. While one quarter of couples in church have a struggling marriage, 39% of couples in general do. 

 

Unfortunately, pastors don’t realize they’re not doing a good job in this area. While 93% of pastors counsel couples in crisis, 57% of them do not believe they are qualified enough. A “marriage 911” is lacking in the church. Churches spend lots of money on youth programs, but that’s not helping people stay in church. 

 

The authors say we need to go out into the community to find couples to help, not expect them to come searching and find these services. It needs to be portrayed as something everyone needs, in order not to scare people away thinking it’s only for couples who are on the verge of breaking up, otherwise people will be afraid of the stigma.

 

The authors reveal what works as successful techniques. They teach couples to address problems early on in relationships. It’s a myth that good relationships don’t require work. The “balanced relationship” is an illusion. What is normal in a good relationship is this: About the time a couple feels that they have a routine that is working for them … life comes at them fast. One of the most valuable tasks the authors have couples do is to make a top 10 list of what they think their spouse wants and needs from them.

 

Emotional intelligence, also known as emotional quotient (EQ) is key to a good marriage. This means both interpersonal, which includes communicating with your spouse, and intrapersonal, the ability to monitor your own emotions and actions. Studies of people doing tasks who have somewhat higher EQs but also somewhat lower IQs than others reveal that the former perform better, shattering our traditional views of IQ. 

 

The authors also emphasize the importance of both skills and virtues. Secular counseling focuses on skills, whereas Christian counseling tends to focus too much on just virtues. Skills include discernment, appreciation and expectation, self-control and commitment. 

 

The authors conclude by saying the church needs to make marriage ministry and relationship outreach normal. Marital problems shouldn’t be left up to social agencies to handle. The secular world is going to continue to disparage marriage and continue the downward cycle that the misnamed, so-called “free love” brings, so the church has to step up and stop the leak in the dam. 

 

 

  

 

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