i do…

We recently attended the wedding of one of the young couples that we mentored.  It was heartwarming on every possible level.  It was humbling to know that we were able to share in their journey.  It was refreshing see the love that they displayed toward each other.  It was hopeful to hear their vows of commitment to a lifetime of oneness.  It was inspiring to hear the Biblical directives for the covenant of marriage.

As you get older, the wedding invitations tend to pile up and sometimes it may be your inclination to send your regrets.  I encourage you to go to every single ceremony to which you are invited to attend.  This is a wonderful form of medicine for your own marriage.  We all desperately need those healthy reminders…no matter the longevity of your time together.  We need to be taken back to the alter frequently so that we, too, can renew our displays of love for each other, our vows of commitment, and the covenants to which we are bound.

As mentors pouring out, we need to also be poured into.  We need a full cup to be able to refresh others.  I look at my wedding ring today which I have heard symbolizes the circle of eternal love.  I love that thought!  However, I feel it gives a rather happily ever after connotation to it.   We all know real life is not a fairy tale.  Our rings, mine and his, more importantly represent the reminder for dedication and commitment to our relationship… over and over again.  It is never ending just like the circle that it is.  We have to keep working and growing with each other ad infinitum.  We need never to forget what love requires of us.

So, go to all those weddings my friends and remember where it all began when you said those two important words,  I do.  Then…….JUST POUR!



Temporary is a way of life in today’s world.  We are actually conditioning people to be temporary, do you realize that?  Let’s give this some thought for a minute….

Hopefully, we raise our youth to honor their commitments.  We must have said those very words to our sons a million times.  But what exactly does that really mean?  According to Webster’s dictionary:  commitment:  noun; a promise to do or give something; a promise to be loyal to someone or something; the attitude of someone who works very hard to do or support something.  However, most of the examples in their world, OUR world,  condition even their commitments to be of a temporary nature.  Their formal education has a finite time frame at each level, their fashions, fads, and music choices change with the wind, their sports teams organically end with a season or a change of team, their employment landscape is a leap frog affair of  job hopping to find the right one. (According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average worker currently holds ten different jobs before age forty, and this number is projected to grow.) Locations are determined by changing jobs, following a relationship, or desires for adventure.  Even their friendships tend to rally around a season of life.  SO, we are facing a dilemma of epic proportions.   How do we teach permanence? Where do they get an example of something that is beyond temporary?  How do they know what to shoot for when they have never had an example of what it looks like?  That is a tough one.

Marriages have become a victim of the temporary monster.  How do we teach….until death do us part?   I really don’t know how to answer that either.   However, I think the most obvious and viable endeavor at our disposal is show them what it looks likeThink lab rather than lecture.  If you have managed to stay married for a lot of years, I encourage you to become a mentor couple and take a young couple under your wing.   We need to band together and form armies of WE.    We veterans need to show those just starting out a form of permanence that they may never have had the opportunity to observe.   Over half the youth in this country began their formative years in a one parent family.  So even if one member of a young couple came from an intact family, for the other…it may be a unicorn.   When those two from different households and different examples have to work together on their marriage…this becomes problematic.  Those young ones need to interact with couples who have bumped up against the hard knocks of life, gotten up and kept on walking together.  They need to realize that there is no perfect marriage out there….because there are no perfect people out there.  We need to show them two imperfect people refusing to give up on each other. We need to show them that there can be a beauty in imperfection.  We need to help them to see that long term fulfillment trumps short term discontent.  We need to help them understand that they are certainly not going to agree about everything, but intentional preparation with mentors before marriage could prevent some of the symptoms that arise later.  Sparking deep, messy, uncomfortable conversations about all topics is critical before saying I do!  It alleviates that I didn’t know what I was getting into kind of reaction as a preparation for bailing.   I think that there is NO question that shouldn’t be asked and no rock that shouldn’t be turned over.  There can be some ugly things under some of those rocks.  Marriage should never be entered with rose-colored glasses firmly attached to one’s nose, or because it is the logical next step of a relationship.  So, what if they are already married and on a sinking ship?  Another great question!  We walk along side and give as much encouragement as possible and show them what we’ve learned the hard way in our years together .

Steve and I didn’t choose premarital counseling, it was a mandate set forth by our minister before he would marry us.  I am thankful that it was non-negotiable, because  we might not have chosen it for ourselves.   It is one of the best things that happened to us.  I am not saying that is what has kept us together, however one takeaway has stuck with Steve all these years.   It was a simple comment that could have gotten lost in the shuffle of all those other topics:  Divorce is not an option.  You can either have a happy marriage or a sad marriage.  It is your choice.   That is food for thought.  We were given control over our permanence.  It was a choice we could make…..every…single…day.  However, it is a choice that both people have to make – the mutual determination to stay together for life and WE have to help spread that message.

So, I don’t know how you teach it , but for those who somehow have managed to do it, you can not walk away!!!   You need to step forward and show them what it looks like. Tell them your stories.  Tell them your successes and how you celebrated.  Tell them your failures and how you overcame them.  Tell them why you chose to stay, when you could have chosen to go.  Using your 20/20 hindsight, give some examples of what may hang in the balance.  Just Pour!!


pay it forward…

Steve and I sometimes wonder how we made it this far along the marital trail, when so many others have dropped by the wayside.  But as we sit and reflect, we can look back on our life together and see God’s handiwork at so many junctures amongst the Family Circus maze of our wanderings.  We can see His fingerprints on both our good and bad experiences and the gaining of wisdom that it afforded us.   Most importantly, he placed so many providential people along our path at critical points to guide us in our inexperience and naivety as a couple.

We are especially thankful for two couples in those early years.  Whether they saw themselves as mentors, we don’t know, but they definitely sidled up next to us to pour into our fledgling marriage and parenthood. They were essential in helping us begin to form the foundation of our marriage.  At the time, we couldn’t understand WHY we had to be so far away from home, but now looking back, we credit those early years for building the root structure that would allow our little family tree to weather the storms that would come later.  I’m not sure that we could have done it without these couples or these experiences.

Steve enlisted in the Air Force and we moved away immediately upon our marriage.  It was during those first years away from family and hometown friends that our foundation would begin to form.  We first found ourselves as strangers in a strange land, in England.  We felt like fish out of water, culturally and emotionally, as we were also brand new to this marriage thing with only each other to depend on.  Before long we met a couple that took us under their wing.  The thing is, in the military, rank is everything and you normally don’t fraternize with those under your rank.  But this Captain and his lovely wife, farther down the marriage road than us (and much higher in rank), did just that.  They stepped gracefully over that demarcation line and enveloped us into their family and became a lifeline of advice and support.  We admired and respected them as a couple and as parents, and carefully observed their interactions with each other to help us navigate ours.  We don’t know what we would have done without them.  They became an invaluable touchstone.  We don’t see them near as often as we wish, but our hearts will always be connected in a bond of thankfulness.

The second couple found their way into our lives in South Dakota, again far far from home.  History repeated itself in that the lines of rank had no meaning for a young doctor and his precious wife as they embraced us.  At the time, since we were also new to the military way of life, we didn’t see this for how outside the norm it was.   Looking back, it stands out as a very rare occurrence and the fact that it happened to us twice is not a coincidence.  We have no doubt God placed them there….for us.   They were drawn to our youth and inexperience as parents and they reached out.  Their guidance came in the guise of sharing meals and including us in their family gatherings.  We gained so much wisdom from watching them parent their children.  During this season of our lives, I am sad to say that Church had been on our back burner.   The wife, in her compassionate and caring way, encouraged us to give our children a spiritual foundation that they could take with them and build from.  It was sage advice that we took to heart as we slowly tried to implement her words throughout the years, and have never regretted her gentle nudging.

Now we wish to pay it forward.  That is where our passion for pouring lies…with young couples.  We have landed in this city of young people at this time in our lives for a reason.  I think God is placing us in providential proximity to others that are just like that young version of us.  We are prompted to move in that direction, as our dear friends moved toward us.  We believe that is why we are given our difficult experiences….to share…to support….to help others over the hurtles.   What providential people are there in your story that may prompt you to pour in a significant way?

Just POUR!

grandpa…go grab your cape!

Hello all you Grandfathers out there.  I bet you thought you were just an ordinary person, but hidden away somewhere is your superhero cape.  Go look for it!

My grandfather was my super hero.  He saved my life, which is what superheroes are meant to do.  I didn’t realize how much of the well being of my life I owe to him, until now, when a plethora of research underscores the importance of a father is a young child’s life, especially in their formative years.  This is not to minimize the importance of motherhood, but a father’s role appears to have a more deep seated, far reaching, and long lasting effect.   I didn’t have a father, because my parents divorced when I was a baby, but I had my Papa, and he more than filled those empty shoes.  He could have walked away, deeming it some one else’s responsibility, but instead, he found his cape and put it on.  He not only loved and cherished me, but he gave me the example of loving, cherishing, and honoring my grandmother and my mother.  He showed me what I needed to look for in a good man.  He showed me how I deserved to be treated. He taught me much by the humble way he lived his life with that huge servant’s heart of his that shined so brightly.  I don’t know where I would have been if not for his constant presence, love, and guidance at such a critical time in my life.

There is so much out there to substantiate that fatherhood is not simply a circumstance of biology, but rather a central piece in the emotional well being of a child, for both genders.  A father is the most important man in a son’s life.   It is through the father that the son will discover his own masculinity and manhood.  A father will help him learn to be a gentleman, a responsible man and a faithful man….one who is strong and yet not afraid to admit his weakness, one who leads, yet compassionately serves others, and one who gives freely of the most valuable gift he has to offer… his time.  A father will teach him how he is to treat women, as he watches the way his father loves his mother.

A father is the most important man in a daughter’s life.  He will set her on the course she will travel throughout her entire life.  It is through him that she will know her worth and her innate beauty.  It will be his job to protect her from others, and from herself, while she is still learning who she will become. He will be the one to help her understand what it means to be cherished and honored with words and actions, so that she will hold out for such a man with whom to share her life, and father her own children. It will be her reflection in his eyes that she will carry with her to conquer her world.   She will learn how she is meant to be treated by watching the way her father loves her mother.

However, Hello….Houston we have a problem!!  Families are crumbling.  We are becoming a world without fathers and it is taking its toll. Sadly, before they reach the age of eighteen, more than half of our nation’s children are likely to spend at least a significant portion of their childhoods living apart from their fathers.   Fatherlessness is sited as being one of the most harmful demographic trends of this generation and if left unchecked is likely to change the shape of our society.  Go read it for yourself.  Google it. When you take away the influence of a father on his sons and daughters, statistics tell us that into that negative void seeps a myriad of societal ills to include poverty, crime, drug and alcohol abuse, SDT’s, teen pregnancies, school dropouts, and emotional problems.   Without fathers, the entire fabric of our society is weakened.  Our quilt is getting quite thin.

So Grandfathers, we need you now more than ever!!!  There are a lot of fatherless children out there.  You are our next best Hope.   Go grab your capes and take up the slack wherever you can.  It might be in your own family, or you might find a child in need elsewhere.   Pour into the gaps, take on a role that you’ve had before, and do it even better this time around.  Or maybe, you’ve never been a Father.  Now is your chance.  Invest!  Live the example of what it looks like to be the type of man you want successive generations of men to become.   Be the man you want other young girls to aspire to marry.  You will never know what hangs in the balance of YOUR decision.  Plus, that cape will look pretty cool on you, I have no doubt!  I mean, who doesn’t want to be a superhero.  Here is your chance!

just POUR!

** Two great books are we strongly recommend reading:  Strong Fathers/Strong Daughters and Building a Modern Day Knight.  Links are in our resource section.




Intentional (adjective)  1. done on purpose; deliberate 2. by conscious design

Every which way we turn, this particular word hits us in the face.  We are encouraged to be intentional about our diets, our exercise, our relationships, our marriage, our parenting, our finances, our communication, our faith, our kindness, our generosity, and our expressions of love.  There are probably infinitely more things for which we need to be intentional.  The word and admonition has been used in every workshop we’ve attended recently,  and most of the messages we have heard at Church.

Being intentional is something that Steve and I weren’t very good at in the early years of our marriage and parenting.  I would honestly say  that we were more reactive than proactive…more defense than offense.   Maybe it was because we were in survival mode with jobs, kids, sports, bills, and all the other details of daily life and our intention got stuffed into our leftover time (of which there was none).   I am making excuses, I know, and I don’t aim to do that.  I just wish we’d had someone to mentor us, and that may have made a huge differences to help us form our intentional goals.

NOW I see the wisdom of doing something on purpose, and being deliberate by conscious design.  It makes it way more likely to happen if goes at the top of our list rather than the bottom.  And we are doing much better I am happy to report.  Intentional has become our WORD.   So…I am going to encourage You to be intentional about POURING.  I am not trying to get something FROM you; I am trying to get something FOR you.  Carve a notch of time in your schedule….at the top.  Be fearless.   Just say yes to….one  . small . step .

Define your target group in the generations coming behind.  Is it young children?  Is it teens?  college kids?  young employees where you work? engaged couples?  young marrieds?  young parents? single moms?  There is a veritable buffet of generational choices at your fingertips.  Which group would you feel most comfortable interacting?  Which group breaks you heart in ways that you would like to make a difference?  Were you that neglected child that became invisible?  Go find someone like that?  Did you you follow the crowd in those teen years letting your peer group cause you to make some pretty bad decisions?  Go connect with that kid, make a connection, and be a different kind of voice speaking into their life?  Did you go a little crazy wild in college?  Take a college kid under your wing and help them right their plane.  Were you the newbie at work and felt like there were rules that you didn’t know or things you should have known? Be a mentor without them even asking.  Do you have a lot of things that you wish someone had told you in the early years of your marriage?  Go befriend that engaged couple or young married one and help them to have good conversations and be intentional about the choices they make together.  Do you remember the minefield of fatigue and of the early years of parenting?  Find that young mother that could use an ear to listen, a shoulder to lean on or maybe just someone that would read a story to their child so they could unwind or take an uninterrupted bath.  Or that single mom?  Maybe you were one of those and can give support, wisdom, and empathy like no other.

Define your life experiences  which are those things buried in your treasure chest that we wrote about earlier.   In what areas would you feel comfortable in sharing your stories?   Perhaps you have a passion for building self esteem, career directions/job interviews, marriage issues, parenting or finances.   You have traveled far and wide in your journey.  You have picked up more wisdom through your experiences than you can possibly imagine.  You do NOT need to be an expert, you are a veteran of LIFE.  You are there to build relationships, listen, encourage and be touch stones to bounce questions off.  You are not expected to know everything.  You are there…because you have been there before.

Define your connecting points using some of your talents.   Perhaps you are really good at conversations, art, music, baking, sewing, playing chess, computers, or sports.   Use those as a connecting point to build a relationship.  I met a man this week, in a coffee shop in Athens, who uses the game of chess to connect with young boys.  He pulls them in with the game and then shows them that the game is a metaphor for life.  He teaches them to think ahead to build strategies.  He shows them that even the pawns have power.  What a wonderful way to connect.  What could you use?   What do you like to do that could be a way to connect with someone?

We realize that you have to want to do this.  You have to feel that it is right, for you.  We are trying to encourage you.  We are trying to get you to join us, wherever you are, in your own brand of pouring.   It looks different for everyone.  But, I promise, if you become intentional about it, it will not only ROCK your world….it will rock THE world!!  just POUR!!!

Our intention creates our reality ~  Wayne Dyer

pouring by example…

Pam and I have been exploring different ways that we can inspire you to pour.  In the 62 years that I have been roaming this planet, I have been fortunate enough to have had someone always watching my back and actively pouring into me in various ways.  Some are the more traditional ones like my Dad, coaches, or teachers.  But I was so fortunate to have one of my earlier employers pour through his example.   It has served me well in all my years since.

The late George Dean, of Athens best traditional men’s store of the same name, was one of the best.  Mr. Dean (and it was always “Mr. Dean” even when I was in my 50’s) was a great force of nature.  In the 1970’s and probably beyond, he had the habit of hiring college boys, with zero experience, to work in his store.  We thought it was his idea that by having us work there, we would bring in the fraternity crowd.  We were all just there to make a few bucks to spend on fun, and didn’t care so much about selling clothes.  Now that I look back I wonder if he had a different ulterior motive.  It was his generosity of spirit that prompted him to pour into the next generation and help to groom us in the ways of gentile business practice.  He gave me invaluable examples as I stood on the perimeters and observed him in his element of genuine rapport with people.  He demonstrated what it meant to treat your customer like a guest in your home.  He created a positive atmosphere so that everyone who walked through the door felt comfortable. He showed interest in them and asked about family members and golf games.  He wasn’t just selling clothes; he was selling himself.  He helped me learn to be attentive, not pushy.  Be there, but do not hover.  And the customer was always right even when they wanted a brown suit with a brown matching tie that you would not wear to a funeral.  Mr. Dean also knew that if you treated a man with respect and dignity, they would remember you and return when it was time for him to buy something.  I try to follow Mr. Dean’s example to this day even after all these years.  What I realized was these same principles applied to my inter personal experiences since, in life, we are always selling ourselves.

There is a saying:  People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. That statement can be applied in so many different situations.  Mr. Dean cared and people responded to that.  What a great lesson to learn.  There is also something we learned lately that can be applied to what he did:   Think lab, Not  lecture, when pouring.  Mr. Dean’s store was such a great lab for learning.  From a guy’s perspective, this worked wonders for me.

We all have an influence in any sphere.  You can POUR without stepping out of the boundaries of your everyday environment.  Take a young employee under your wing, or strive to demonstrate the character you hope they will embrace.  I am thankful that I had a Mr. Dean in my life.  I bet you could be one in somebody else’s.  Just POUR!

hey empty-nesters…..don’t walk away….

Parenthood is the toughest you’ll ever love…but SO WORTH every single sleepless night, every speck of vomit on your clothes, every tear shed, every dirty diaper, every ounce of worry over a sick child, every difficult decision, every moment of indecision, every time you hear the words everybody else is allowed, every time you say because I said so (even though you swore you never would), every one of the millions of hours carpooling to practices and games, all the clean-your-room wars, every homework battle, and then comes the hands down toughest of all…. watching them fly out of the nest and letting them go.  It’s ALL worth it because….you forget all of the tough parts and only remember the little hands, the tight hugs, the I love you’s, tucking in at bedtime, family vacations, all the milestones.. steps, words, school years, dates, dances, graduations and then the marriages…and oh, the grandbabies.  You forget about all the mistakes you made and remember the journey and hug it close to your heart.  From the trenches, to the field, to sidelines, to viewing stands…it’s the toughest job you’ll ever love.   One of our young friends once said….I think God gives us children so that we can begin to understand what it means to love with your whole heart and serve others before self.  I think she was right.

Well, my friends, we are now empty-nesters and I’m here to tell you that those days mentioned above do end…well before you are ready.  That is why we oldies give those young ones that knowing smile when they tell us they are expecting, or gaze longingly as they hold their newbie in their arms.  We learned a lot in that journey.  We made lots of mistakes out of youth or naivety or just plain fatigue, and some things we accidentally did right, thank goodness.  We are so proud of the men our sons grew to be because of, and most definitely in spite of what we did or did not do, and we celebrate them in their adulthood.  But, there was still SO much to be learned.

We are hearing such good advice now about child rearing.  Why didn’t we know that…then? has become our repetitive mantra.   We want to keep learning.  We are  reading a lot of research about what our generation did wrong in the parenting scene.  We stand guilty as charged.  The thing is, with our hindsight being 20/20, we have some wisdom on what worked well, and what we wish we had done differently.   We can help with the interpretation of this new data from the vantage point of one having been there and done that.   Those young parents can learn as much from our failures as our successes.  We can bring the exclamation point to the importance and priceless value of time and priorities.

We heard two great pieces of parenting advice recently that we think is too powerful not to share with empty-nesters and young parents alike.  These are action steps that both seasons of life can put into practice:

  • When your children are beginning their teen years, create a Rite of Passage Ceremony.  Choose six of your trusted and respected adult friends, and ask them if they will mentor your child for one single day during their 13th year.  Let your child shadow them and just hang out with them and at the end of the day, ask them to impart one piece of wisdom to your child that they wish someone had shared with them.   Empty-nesters, you could volunteer to be this type of a mentor!!
  • Base your parenting decisions on the long term, not the immediate present.  Never do for your child what they are capable of doing for themselves.  This involves things like tying shoes, cleaning their room, doing their homework for them, or rescuing them when they have forgotten something.   It looks like a nurturing thing (and easier) to do in the short term, but long term, it robs children of their opportunities, to practice, experiment, and problem solve in the safe environments that you provide.  It will serve them well in the long run.  Grandparents, take heed as you can support your children, as they parent,  in this endeavor.

Empty-nesters…. I implore you not to walk away and leave the next generation on their own.  KEEP LEARNING about parenting, even though your chicks are out of the nest!!!    Use your own invaluable life experiences to help interpret and intertwine this new knowledge to POUR into young parents.  Maybe your children won’t listen, but someone else’s just might.

Young parents, we hope you will reach out and utilize this valuable resource scattered all around you in your neighborhoods, churches, and civic groups, and not see it as a critique of your parenting.  We’ve been where you now stand.  We KNOW how difficult it is.  We UNDERSTAND the weight of your responsibility.  We literally just want to help you become the best version of your self!!!

Lots of exclamation points!!!

exciting stuff…

There is somebody coming behind you.  It doesn’t matter who you are parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, coaches, and employers.  You have a sphere of influence.  Please don’t ignore it!  The next generation has their eyes on you.  We have a responsibility to do everything we can do to leave this place better than we found it.  We must take what we have and leverage it to help the next generation.  We heard a great message about this very topic after we launched this website.  It was perfectly timed to infuse us with even more enthusiasm to POUR.   We feel like we have been drinking from a fire hose of goodness!!  It gave us some very interesting information that we would like to share.

Dr. Tim Elmore is the founder of Growing Leaders.  He and his team provide public schools, universities, civic organizations, and corporations with resources that foster the growth of young leaders who can transform society.  He is committed to equipping the next generation to WIN.  We have one of his books in our Resources section, which we have already ordered for ourselves:  Generation iY

Anyway, Dr. Elmore says that we are living in a time period where there are six distinct generations, all with their own descriptive personalities.  What we found to be most interesting was that with the onset of the 21st century, these emerging generations no longer needed adults to get their information.  A technological superhighway of information was literally at their fingertips.  What they DID need, however, was an adult to help them interpret that information and frame it into a set of life skills that would allow them to become the best version of themselves.  Dr. Elmore displayed a very impressive chart during his talk.  On that chart, he described the scene of the world that we live in today, and how each of these factors might be perceived by the younger generations.

Our world today involves:                                              Assumptions to be made by Generations XYZ:

S = Speed                                                                            Slow is Bad

C = Convenience                                                              Hard is Bad

E = Entertainment                                                           Boring is Bad

N = Nurture                                                                        Risk is Bad

E = Entitlement                                                                 Labor is Bad


We have created the world in which we live.  All of those things in the left column are GOOD, but IF those are the assumptions made by our youth, then we have lost something very valuable in the process.  If you look at the right column, all of those are things help to grow you, mature you, cause you to think, and work hard. When things are slow, we build patience.  We take time to pay attention to the details.  We have the opportunity to savor.  When things are hard, we have the opportunity to problem-solve and learn perseverance. When we are bored and are not being bombarded by the noise around us, we have the opportunity to think, ponder, and act instead of be acted upon. Researchers have done some interesting studies on boredom.  It was found that when people are bored, they become more empathetic and creative.  When we take risks, of possible failure, we learn and stretch our boundaries, exceed expectations, and find what we are capable of being.  And goodness knows, we all realize that when we labor for something, it is much more satisfying than having it given to us.  It builds our self-esteem in ways that being told we are wonderful is just not able to do.  In hindsight, maybe we shouldn’t have handed out all those participation trophies and certificates we showered our kids within their formative years.

Rather than complain about the youth and their assumptive outlook that we fostered, let’s become the solution!  We now have a huge responsibility and a job to do.  Our work is cut out for us.  Dr. Elmore had some other pearls of wisdom.  Dont’ think control, think connect.  Don’t think lecture, think lab.  So walk along side those into whom you wish to pour and find your connection, and help to give them safe spaces, just like a lab, to help them learn what you may have to teach.  Y’all, this is exciting stuff!   Ponder it and then……..just POUR!!!!


just POUR…

We, my husband and I, were born at the tail end of the Baby Boomer generation.  We were born into the relative peace after World War II.   Our childhoods were mostly lived outdoors, without the tempting draw of technology to pull us toward a sedentary internal world.  We saw the beginning of the space race.  We were born at a time that the majority of our moms were stay-at-home ones, divorces were the exception rather than the rule, the same job for bread winners lasted an entire career, there was no such animal as a starter home, and people, for the most part settled near family.  We remember a time that existed when extended families, of parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles provided a measureable cocoon and poured a treasure trove of wisdom into fledgling marriages and newbie parents.   Advice was passed on, support was ready, helping hands and loving hearts were a mainstay.  For the most part, that is an endangered species in the 21st century.  Those random examples that still remain are few and stand out as stark anachronisms.  We have all lost something in the process.  Families are scattered, divorce is a 50-50 reality, jobs are global, homes are transient, and culture continues to trumpet that is all about ME.  Successive generations have been told that we are smarter than our parents and grandparents, and they were old fashioned and they didn’t understand.  Until one day we realize….that they did.

I do remember the extended family, although it belongs to a long ago chapter of my early life story.   Lately I’ve thought about this a lot.  Whatever we, as a society, have gained in technological and global advancement, we have somehow lost in our connections to people that poured.  It is no longer an inherent part of our social world.  Culture is telling us that we need healthy levels of independence and self-esteem… even if we haven’t earned it.  We are encouraged to feel entitled and be instantly gratified.  Culture can be quite a Siren voice pulling us into the danger zone.   What’s in it for me? tends to be a continual question posed for us to ask ourselves.   That mindset doesn’t engender the idea of pouring.

Where once the extended family was speaking into our worlds, we now have society telling us what everybody else is doing and from afar, it looks okay.   I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up what everybody else was doing didn’t quite cut it with my Momma.   Somewhere the scattered voices, of those who love us best, have been drowned out by the voices of social media.  She, Ms. Media, is a fickle mistress and cares not a lick for us.

Because we have lost the extended family of yesteryear with our global mobility and job switching natures, I think we have to find a way to recapture it as a lifeline to better relationships.  Those of us who remember must lead the call.  We can’t sit back and critique the mess of society; we must be part of the solution and begin to just… POUR.

Steve and I heard a message about giving back….about investing in the generations coming behind…about pouring.    We are not experts…by any stretch….but we have experienced a measure of life on this planet.  We are not alone.  There are others.  There is YOU.  We must make it our mission, not to walk away and hope someone else will do it.  We must stand by with helping hands, and loving hearts, and offer our support with our time and our treasure chests of wisdom. We must help to give the next generation a map for the journey in lands well beyond where they have traveled.  It is our responsibility to pass the baton and help them to know how to better navigate the danger zones and beautiful vistas along the way.

In my years of teaching, I witnessed firsthand the evolution of the breakdown of the American family.  When I started my career, most of my students came from two-parent encouraging home environments.  Sadly that was not the case when I finished.  I had students that were way too savvy with words like visitation rights, custody battles, divorce, restraining orders, child support, and others that littles should not have to know at such a tender age.  I experienced the fall out in the trenches and the inevitable emotional problems that ensue from such an insecure home base.  It is happening way too quickly.  Where do you start to fix this?

I think it starts with pouring.  Baby Boomers, we’ve had a lot of time to fill our chests…this should be OUR mission.  It should be our MANTRA.   Just POUR!   We need to leave this place better than we found it.  We need to use our time, talents, and treasures to invest.  It is not negotiable.  It is our responsibility.   Think of a pitcher of liquid, when it is full, it has the capacity to fill other vessels.  We take what is in one and pour into another.  Think about yourself as being that pitcher.  There are so many of us in that baby boomer generation who had others to POUR into us.   There are lots of vessels that need filling…young children in need of a mentor, college students away from home, couples getting married, new parents, single parents, and whoever else that comes to mind.  Think of all you’ve learned along your journey, step up and invest in someone coming behind you.  Just POUR!!

it’s a…

Just when you think that you are doing a good thing for someone else, you will soon discover immeasurably more is returned to you.  Saying yes to POURING, even when you feel ill equipped, results in opening the door for Blessings to go both ways,  I promise!

Most of our attempts at Pouring have been with young couples.  One thing that Steve and I have found to be true is that pouring into others has resulted in us being filled in ways we never could have possibly imagined.  We have been strengthened as we walk alongside the younger generations.  We’ve been inspired and encouraged through our conversations with them.  These conversations sparked self-reflection and re-evaluation for usWe have gained new perspectives offered by a generational view that is different from our own.  We have discovered that things worth having are worth working for each and every day… no matter your age or stage.

The ripple effect of paying it forward affects us all. In helping a young person to feel their worth, or helping a college student to navigate their future with a long term path in mind,  or sparking conversations for a young couple to have prior to marriage to set them up for success, or assuring young parents that their insecurities about caring for their littles is normal and shared by all parents, is a domino effect in the best possible sense.   We can be agents for building stronger marriages which will build secure families for children to thrive and grow, which in turn will build stronger communities, stronger nations and a stronger world.  The more folks we have invested in pouring, the faster we can build a better world where we all WIN.

Just POUR!!