An IRONMAN Strong Marriage

A few months ago I listened to these men share about their experience preparing for and competing in an IRONMAN race. The first thing that ran through my mind was, Holy Cow! These guys are insane! Some of them have actually completed more than one IRONMAN. The commitment involved in preparing for something like this is amazing.

Each man talked about the amount of time they spent each day exercising……even when they didn’t feel like it, they knew that in order to meet the challenge they had to follow through on the exercise routine outlined for that day.

They shared how they mentally prepared for the race. Attitude and mental outlook were vital to success.

What they ate to get their bodies physically prepared for such a rigorous test of endurance was also important.

There was a spiritual part of this adventure as well.  Each man had a scripture verse that they focused on as they prepared.

Every single guy said there was no way they could have accomplished completing the IRONMAN without the support and encouragement of their wife and family.

Since my life revolves around helping people have strong marriages and families, I couldn’t help but think of the parallels to married life and raising children.

The discipline these men exhibited as they prepared is similar to the disciplined required to make a marriage work day in and day out.  The understanding and willingness of spouses and families to go along for the ride. Marriage definitely has its ups and downs, but in the end the ride is worth it. The spiritual impact, the words that encouraged them to finish the race. Every marriage could benefit from spiritual encouragement.  The amount of time they put in to accomplish their goal.  If couples spent even half that amount of time focused on growing their marriage, my gut tells me that many marriages would be in a much better place.  The celebration of a huge accomplishment. So often couples get in a routine and rarely think to celebrate what they have together or what they have accomplished.

What if couples preparing for marriage and those who are already married focused on the very things these guys did to prepare for the IRONMAN?

  • Discipline
  • Attitude
  • Perseverance
  • Time
  • Spiritual Journey
  • Celebration 

I know it would make a difference in my own marriage.  What about yours?


You Won’t Believe What I Saw at the Beach!

Our daughter graduated from college last Saturday. (Woo Hoo!!!!!!!!!!!)  We decided to take a little celebration trip to the beach for a few days.  Sunday afternoon we headed out to the beach.  It was PACKED!  There were TONS of families.  While we were playing on the beach, I couldn’t help but notice all of the kids and I don’t mean just little kids, playing with their parents.  They were flying kites, jumping the waves, making sand castles, playing catch in the water, burying each other in the sand, fishing, riding bikes and more.  You heard constant squeals of laughter along with, kids yelling “Again” and “Over here, Throw it to me.”   

It made me smile.  Sometimes we (parents) fool ourselves into believing our children really don’t want to spend time with us, especially when they get older.  Witnessing what I saw that day and every other day we were on the beach, would make a case for exactly the opposite.  I have to believe some great memories were being made for kids….and their parents.




In the Blink of an Eye……

It has been a heart wrenching week as many in our community mourn the loss of Randy Tucker, former GPS Headmaster, and Renee Monroe, along with two of her grandchildren as well as the life of a precious Kindergartner.

Three freak accidents claiming the lives of five who were dearly loved.  My mind has been reeling as I have thought about and prayed for their families.  In the blink of an eye, these family’s lives have been changed forever.

This has been a stark reminder for me about the importance of living every day to the fullest and remembering that the words spoken to someone could be the last.  I don’t mean that in a morbid sense, I mean it as in you never know what the future holds and I need to choose my words carefully because I may never have the opportunity to explain them or to actually say what I was thinking but decided to save for later.  I also need to make sure my priorities are in order when it comes to how I spend my time.  Most of us run at a pretty fast clip holding on to the idea that there will always be time to _______ (you fill in the blank) another day.

One thing I believe to be true is that Randy Tucker and Renee Monroe lived with a zest for life.  They were passionate people who impacted the lives of many.

And the children.  They were full of life and boundless energy.

I have definitely shed some tears this week and wondered why these tragedies happened.  In the midst of the heavy sadness, I have also thought about how these people lived with purpose and passion.  I think in the end the real tragedy would be if I and the rest of the community missed the opportunity to follow their lead – to live our lives with passion and purpose and to remember that in the blink of an eye things can change.

My goal will be to make sure that this doesn’t impact me for a short time.  I want to remember and LIVE LIFE to the fullest!

May God bless these families and may we as a community stand strong.

Daniel Murphy Doing the Right Thing

Yesterday I listened to the Boomer and Carton discussion on the radio about Daniel Murphy (who plays for the Mets) taking time off to be with his wife at the birth of their first child.  Murphy missed opening day and one additional game.

Esiason made numerous comments including that Murphy should have told his wife we are having a C-Section so he could be there for opening day.  He went on to say that Murphy should have explained to his wife that baseball is how we live our lives and make our money and this will give our child every opportunity for success, and we will be able to afford any college we want to send our child to because I’m a baseball player.  Click here to listen to the interview

After peeling myself off of the ceiling, I began processing what these guys said.  There were a couple of things that sent me over the edge.  First, to imply that it was wrong of Murphy to place priority on being there with his wife for the birth of their first child  is outrageous. His presence at Baseball’s opening day is more important than being with his wife and witnessing the birth of their child? Seriously????  Second, Esiason implies that it is the money earned that will make the child successful.  With all due respect Mr. Esiason, money does not make children successful – it certainly helps provide access to resources.  However, it is mom and dad’s involvement in the life of their child whether they have money or not that actually gives the child the best chance at being successful.  And yes, it does make a difference when Dad is present at the birth of his child and being supportive in the days following the birth.

So, this is a HUGE shout out to Daniel Murphy for doing the right thing in the midst of criticism and pressure from the culture to put work ahead of family.

AND, Kudos to MLB and to Mets Manager, Terry Collins for standing behind Murphy’s decision!


This is My April Fools’ Claim to Fame

Yep – this hands down is the best April Fools’ prank I have ever played – even better than the time I came running in the house screaming for my mom with a towel wrapped around my finger and tons of ketchup running down it.  I told my mom I cut myself really bad. She bought it….for about 5 seconds.

When I was in middle school I came home from school, put a rubber band on the sink sprayer and headed to my room.  The next thing I heard was my mom’s voice yelling, “Julie Marie Munz get in here now.”  I went to the kitchen to see my mom absolutely drenched along with the cabinets and the floor.  I was laughing so hard I had tears streaming down my face. To this day we (the kids) still laugh about this, my mom, not so much.  She still threatens me when it comes to thinking of playing any kind of an April Fools’ joke on her.

I have seen some pretty good new ideas floating around out there in cyberspace that are calling my name so you better watch out.

What’s your best April Fools’ prank?



What this Canadian Goose did Stopped Me in My Tracks

As I drove up to my horse trainers arena, I noticed one Canadian Goose just sitting on the lawn.  I was used to seeing chickens, roosters, and guineas, but not a goose.  I asked my trainer about her and she said she and her mate had been hanging out on the property for a while.  The strange thing was, her mate was nowhere to be seen.

While I was tacking up my horse, the goose started moving and my trainer and I noticed that she clearly had something wrong with her leg, which led us to wonder if she and her mate had been attacked by something.  We debated about whether we should try to catch her and look at her leg or just leave her alone.  She finally settled back down. Placing her beak under her wing, she seemed to be resting.  I felt kinda sad for her.  Geese mate for life and she just seemed so alone.

About 30 minutes into my lesson I happened to look toward the goose and all of the sudden her neck straightened up, her eyes were wide and she started honking.  We could not figure out what was going on because nothing was around her.  Then we saw him off in the distance.  Her mate was flying overhead honking.  She heard him before we did and became very excited. As he flew by, she hobbled as she ran on her wounded leg, spread her wings and flew to meet him.

It was one of the coolest moments I have ever seen.  That goose was SO excited to see her mate.  I was actually thankful to have another person witness what I saw because it was so amazing I think I might have started to question – Did I really see what I think I saw?????

As somebody who spends a lot of time thinking about marriage and how we can help people do married well, I thought this was a great example.

How cool would it be if we were so tuned in to our spouse’s voice that we could hear him/her off in the distance before anybody else.  AND marriage satisfaction would probably soar if we all got that excited when our spouse showed back up after being gone for a period of time.

Yep, I know.  Life gets complicated and it’s just not that simple.   I’m just saying watching those geese in action motivated me and I wonder what would happen if more married people were motivated and got excited in each other’s presence rather than taking each other for granted?

Personally, I’m really glad those geese have no idea about the concept of conscious uncoupling…….



Throwback Thursday

An open letter to our 21 year old daughter…….


Talk about a throwback moment!  Today is your 21st birthday.  I’ve been telling myself all week, “It just can’t be.”  Never mind that all those people who said you would grow up in the blink of an eye were right, I just don’t think of myself as old enough to have a 21 year old.  (No comments about that please)  I mean I can totally remember life at 21.  I was still in college thinking about what I would do when I graduated.

You are graduating from college in a few weeks and moving on in life.  Your dad and I are really proud of you and what you have accomplished.  But, most of all we are proud of the person you have become.  Your are compassionate, a good friend, loyal, fun, hardworking, creative, motivated, funny, intelligent, courageous, dependable and more.

I would like to say that as your parents we can take credit for the way you turned out, but that would not be accurate.  You have been very fortunate in your young life to be surrounded by many caring adults, including your parents, who have helped breathe life into you, challenged you to learn and grow, encouraged you to be courageous and bold in your endeavors, to not be afraid of failure and when you do fail to pick yourself up and try again.  The life lessons have been endless.

Our prayer for you is that as you enter into this new phase of life – adulthood, the world of work and figuring out how to be even more independent (is that possible? :-0) that you will remember what our friend Dr. Ralph Money used to say, “If you see a turtle on a fence post out in the country, you know it didn’t get there by itself.”  You have gotten to where you are not only because of your tenacity and zest for life, but because of what others have given to you in the process.  We pray that you never forget that and that you will in turn speak into the life of others whose path you cross.

To whom much is given, much is required.

So incredibly proud of you and thankful to be your parents.


What We Would Tell Ourselves Looking Back

Yesterday Jay and I celebrated 23 years of marriage.  WOW!  Jay said it felt like only 10 minutes……under water.  Ha. Ha.  Over dinner we talked about what an adventure the last 23 years have been.  We have been through lows and highs – we both agreed that we have had more highs than lows.  If you know my husband, you know that we have had A LOT of laughter and crazy moments.  We have been fortunate to have some great mentors who have helped us on our journey.

If we were starting our marriage journey today, here are some things we would tell ourselves:

  1. The differences you see in each other are good.  Make sure you focus on making them work for your marriage versus against it.
  2. Hang with people who enjoy being married.  Believe it or not there are a bunch of them out there.
  3. Laughter and play really do matter in your relationship.
  4. Faith matters.  Being able to pray with and for my husband has been huge.  It has softened my hardened heart on more than one occasion and it has opened my eyes to Jay’s heart.  Priceless.
  5. Avoid being critical about the little things – cereal boxes left on the counter, stacks of stuff, toilet seat left up, empty toilet paper rolls, cabinet doors left open, gas tank left on empty, etc.  In the big scheme of things these pesky little things really don’t matter, but if you focus on them you can make mountains out of molehills.
  6. Being honest and trustworthy are HUGE.
  7. Guard your heart.  There are a lot of people out there who don’t care about your marriage or the condition of your heart.  Stay away from these people, especially when you are going through rough times.  They are not friends of your marriage and will often mislead you.
  8. When you don’t have that “lovin’ feeling” for your spouse, remember the commitment you made and keep putting one foot in front of the other.  We all go through rough waters.  Sometimes the waters are rough for a short period of time and sometimes it is for an extended period of time.  Stay the course.
  9. Take the “D” word out of the equation.  Be committed to figuring out how to make it work.
  10. Don’t try to keep up with the Jones’s.
  11. Celebrate your anniversary!




THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!

 In the midst of all the preparation for FTF’s 15th Anniversary Celebration I have been thinking about the amazing opportunities we have had through the years to touch people’s lives in significant ways.  When we started out we had no clue how this initiative was going to go.

Through the years, hundreds of thousands of people have invited us into their lives to help them in their efforts to prepare for marriage, strengthen or even save their marriage, be involved parents, and build healthy relationships.  What a privilege.

There are many people who have played a role in the success of FTF – those who have given financially and made it possible for us to offer excellent resources to the community, those who trusted us enough to participate in our classes, the partners who invited us into their school, agency, church, workplace, or home , our board members who have helped us continue to build the vision for FTF and those across the country who have challenged us to share what we have learned to help them start similar initiatives.

THANK YOU SO MUCH for the opportunity to be about something that is so much greater than the small team of people who make up FTF.  It has been a gift to be a part of this adventure!

Proud to be an American. Where Were You on September 11th?


I remember it like it was yesterday.  I was sitting in my office when someone came running in saying that something bad was happening in New York.  The entire office ran to the television to watch.  It was very unnerving.  None of us had ever experienced anything like this before.  Feeling very helpless, all of us looked at each other wondering what in the world do you do when something like this happens.  Some of us were crying.  Do we run and grab our children?  Do we stay put?  People were checking in with their spouse.  A group of us prayed for the people in the towers, their families, the first responders and for our nation.

The days following 9/11 people seemed different.  Many made their way to New York to help.  Others gave blood.  People I passed on the street seemed friendlier.  Families gathered and appreciated the time they had together. Things were definitely different……for a while and then it seemed like we all went back to our old ways.

When I think about 9/11 it reminds me of what is really important in life and that far too often I take for granted what I have and I am prone to allow things that truly won’t matter in a few months to steal time and energy from me and those whom I love.

Life is short.  I hope all of us never forget 9/11.  I pray for our country, for the men and women whose lives were lost on this day 11 years ago and for their families who are carrying on.  I am truly grateful for the first responders across our nation and for our military who put their lives on the line for my freedom and yours.

I am proud to be an American and I will never forget!