Saving Your Marriage: There’s No Quick Fix but You Can Fix It

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A married couple sits on opposite ends of our big comfy couch with an emotional chasm between them. I ask, “Tell me why you’re here today?” The wife responds first, “I begged him to come to marriage coaching months ago, and he said we didn’t need anyone’s help. We could figure it out for ourselves. Now we’re both threatening divorce and coming here is our last-ditch effort to see whether we can make our marriage work for the kids’ sake.” The husband follows, “I realize now we should’ve come sooner but can you still help us?”

Our short answer: “Yes, we can help. But I don’t know whether you’re committed to do the hard work and get to the better side.” This usually gets a quizzical look, as if they’re unsure of the answer themselves. They probably don’t know and neither do we, because they’ve never had to work so hard at a relationship to turn it into what they’d dreamed of in the first place. Oxytocin and Serotonin fooled them into thinking they could live off the love chemicals for the length of their marriage.

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Next, we share the following ground rules to see whether the couple is willing to play and win.

  1. Understand there is no magic pill—no one and done
  2. Recognize there is no overnight success—it took years to get your marriage in this condition and it will take time to make it better
  3. Appreciate that if you’re not deeply committed to your marriage, it won’t succeed
  4. Be self-introspective and vulnerable about how you show up and impact your marriage
  5. Live out a marriage mindset that you’re 100% responsible for success of your marriage

If the couple can truly get comfortable with these marriage coaching rules, they have a good chance of pulling their marriage out of the abyss.

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Most couples sign up for marriage coaching, believing they are ready to do the hard work. A few tap out early and either choose to stay in miserable marriages or file for divorce. For spouses who decide it’s too much work, I share: “You’ll have to do the hard work sooner or later if you want any happy marriage. If you walk away now, you’ll likely be in the same position with another spouse down the road. Would you like to do it now or wait until later?”


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a marriage coach along with her husband, Darin, who help couples across the world via seminars, workshops, and private sessions. She customizes a relationship journey for her clients based on their experience and curriculum from Prepare & Enrich, SYMBIS, FOCCUS, and Marriage on the Rock. Couples design their marriage, learn tools, and then work toward achieving their vision. Learn more about the ministry or sign up for a session by contacting Sandra at shinecrossings@gmail.com

Marriage Success: More About Skills Than Feelings

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When Love May Not Be Enough


A young couple sits on our coach, excitedly telling us of their wedding plans: the venue, the guest list, food, and where they are going on their honeymoon. Although their conversation focuses on the wedding ceremony, we’re happy that they decided to invest in their marriage by signing up for our premarital coaching. I ask, “Why are you getting married?” They look at each other as if it’s a trick question. Then they turn toward us and in union respond, “Because we love each other.” By the tone of their voice, it’s obvious they are punctuating their answer with a question mark.

Marriage Statistics

If nearly all premarital couples say they are getting married because they love each other, and if nearly 50% of first marriages and 70% of second marriages end in divorce, you might comfortably conclude that “love” is not enough to sustain a healthy, long-term marriage. Why is love not enough? Perhaps, whether they are aware of it or not, the way these couples are referring to “being in love” is actually a physical response of “feeling in love” that is wholly driven by the chemicals Oxytocin and Serotonin. Unfortunately, studies show these intense chemicals diminish over 6 to 24 months and cannot sustain themselves during a long-term relationship or marriage.

Love Chemicals

When the “love” chemicals dissipate, couples who rate their marriages as fulfilling and happy have tools in their toolkit which allow them to communicate and solve problems that are a normal part of two people becoming one. Countless couples argue and never resolve or manage their conflict, and their marital issues continually recycle and present themselves in different ways. Spouses who rate their marriages as strong and satisfying have effectively dealt with their differences and sores.

What is love? It’s more than a feeling and rooted in knowing a person on a deep human level in conjunction with accepting who they are. Accepting doesn’t necessarily mean liking everything about them. No one can genuinely love someone they don’t truly know. I feel my husband’s love, because I am completely vulnerable in showing him who I am. He knows me as well as myself and chooses to accept my good, bad, and ugly.

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Marriage Strengthening

Marriages need strengthening now more than ever. Societal forces are conspiring even more to undermine couples and marriage. The rate of marriages is declining in favor of increasing rates of cohabitation. Few would argue against equal rights, opportunities, and pay for women, but this shift is changing women’s attitudes toward men. As women grow in independence, they view men as less essential. Now more than ever, we need to fight for marriage and protect its legacy for the couples and their families.

Where does a couple start? Whether you are in a serious relationship, premarital, or married, find a highly recommended marriage coach who can meet you where you stand, help you define your marriage vision, and then take you on a journey that includes communication and conflict resolution skills, budgeting, marriage needs and relationship expectations. Find one who will help you self-explore to understand how you show up to your significant other based on your worldviews and values. Get the support you need to have a fabulous marriage!


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a marriage coach along with her husband, Darin. She helps couples across the world via seminars, workshops, and private sessions. Sandra customizes a relationship journey for her clients based on her expertise and curriculum content from Prepare & Enrich, SYMBIS, FOCCUS, and Marriage on the Rock. Couples design their marriage, learn tools, and then work toward achieving their vision. Learn more about the ministry or sign up for a session by contacting Sandra at shinecrossings@gmail.com

Kenya Mission: Invest in Marriages and Change Family Legacies

 

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You Can Help Marriages Thrive

A strong marriage has an everlasting impact on the couple, their children, and family legacy. Healthy marriages also help community, because strong couples will mentor other couples. One strong marriage can exponentially change lives. Would you partner with us to grow strong marriages in under-served areas of the world?

How Your Investment Will Be Sown in the Marriage Field

As marriage coaches, we will travel to Nairobi, Kenya to conduct half-day marriage seminars in local communities and train-the-trainer programs for selected couples who will then become mentors to premarital and married couples. We had the privilege of taking James Odhiambo and Faith Chege through a premarital journey and invested in their training to become SYMBIS facilitators. They will be the hands and feet on the ground serving as in-country facilitators and leaders of the marriage mentors. Our trip to Nairobi launches God’s Marriage Vision 2020—an initiative to bring sustainable enrichment to marriages across the globe.

 

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Marriage Hot Topics

We want everyone to be empowered with self-awareness, perspective, and tools, so they can choose to create a successful relationship. Aren’t you excited to be a part of this vision? We will let local marriage leaders take these tools and shape them for their communities. The marriage conference will cover:

  1. God’s Design for Marriage
  2. God’s Laws of Marriage
  3. Family/Marriage Leadership
  4. Gender Differences
  5. Hot Topics: Needs, Love, Respect
  6. Skills: Communication & Conflict Resolution
  7. Vision & Mission
  8. Prayer and the Bullet Proof Marriage

Married couples will be trained in how to effectively mentor other premarital and married couples using the SYMBIS curriculum and report structure. SYMBIS will also be supplemented with information and strategies on how to navigate the common challenges such as trust, sex, and finances that unravel many marriages. Blended families will also be a special topic since over half of marriages involved stepchildren.

How You Can Put Tools in the Hands of Every Couple

Our nearly 2 weeks of travel will have us engaged in various ministries within surrounding Nairobi. We will return to the first church we visited in October 2013, now called International Christian Center Woodlands Rongai, as well as Life Changing Sanctuary, and Antioch Bible Community Churches.

We’re asking for prayers and financial support for travel, training, and the on-going mentoring program. SYMBIS survey prices, which seem reasonable in U.S. terms, can be astronomical for a couple who earns $150 per month. Facilitator training is $200, and the surveys are $35 per couple. We’re creating a World Changers on Mission Fund, and asking our friends, family, and supporters to contribute toward couples’ SYMBIS reports, reference books, and expenses to cover the train-the-trainer.

 

4ad8b01c-ee37-4e2e-9c08-894d7cc91437You can play a role in developing a healthy family legacy and break generational curses. Here’s no greater return on investment than to see a person or family flourish and become servant leaders in their communities. No amount is too small. You can give through several options:

  1. Donate via PayPal using email: worldchangersonmission@gmail.com. Sandra Dillon is the name associated with the account.
  2. Donate via Zell to shinecrossings@gmail.com.
  3. Venmo money to Sandra-Dillon-4
  4. Mail check written out to Shine Crossings. Text me (281.793.3741) and I will provide the mailing address.

World Changers on Mission is not yet a 501c3, so all donations are a true gift. We will honor our donors’ gifts with accountability and transparency. Please note any restrictions or preferences such as:

  1. Unrestricted: use wherever needed most
  2. Use for couples’ surveys, training, and materials
  3. Use to defer expenses for your trip such as airfare, hotel, security, and in-country transportation
  4. Sponsor a mentoree couple with a SYMBIS report

All donations will be acknowledged. If you provide your email, you will be included on blogs, news, and updates so you can see the workings of your investment. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to Sandra Dillon at 281.793.3741 or worldchangersonmission@gmail.com


Darin and Sandra Dillon are premarital and marriage coaches and the co-founders of Shine Crossings Ministry. When they’re not investing in marriages across the world, you can find them serving in prison with the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP), Ephesians 521, and Empowering Women of Purpose (EWOP). Their calling focuses on developmental mission—helping people help themselves. They are also called to organize short-trip mission trips for teams to drill water wells in Central America with Living Water International (LWI).

10 Questions to Build Greater Intimacy

brooke-cagle-Y3L_ZQaw9Wo-unsplashThe discipline of asking open-ended questions paired with intentionally listening is a powerful gift in building intimacy. Intimacy is built first on a foundation of trust and then a belief that your partner truly knows you. You may have the trust part down but struggle with how to build greater connection. If you want to learn more about your partner and what makes him or her tick, you need to ask lots of questions.

suzana-sousa-IC1_YWQn6so-unsplashMany people are not gifted in the art of formulating and asking questions, so let me offer 10 questions that will help you know your partner at a deeper level. Each question should also be followed with asking, “Why?”

  1. What was the happiest moment of your adult life?
  2. Who has been the most important person in your life?
  3. If you had a crystal ball, what one thing would you want to know about your future?
  4. What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken?
  5. You’ve just won $1 million in the lottery; describe what tomorrow looks like? How would your answer differ if your winnings were $10 million?
  6. What’s on your bucket list? What have you scratched off your bucket list because you’ve done it?
  7. If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, whom would you choose?
  8. Describe what love looks like in action.
  9. How would you describe yourself to a stranger in one, two, and three words?
  10. What are your non-negotiables or must-haves in a forever relationship?
  11. Bonus [for the older readers]: If you had a CB radio, what would your handle be?

The list of intimacy-building questions is endless. If you liked these 10 questions, think of 10 more. Then ask your partner to answer them. I’d love to know your favorite question from either the list or one that you’ve thought of yourself. And don’t forget to tell me why it’s your favorite. You can comment below or email me.

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About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in premarital/marriage, finances, ministry, and leadership. She coaches individuals and couples to be the best versions of themselves. You can contact Sandra at shinecrossings@gmail.com

Top 10 Reasons Why Couples Divorce

kelly-sikkema-E8H76nY1v6Q-unsplashIf you asked 10 divorced people why their marriages ended, mostly likely they would admit it wasn’t just one thing. In my work as a premarital and marriage coach, couples often ask what are the most common issues that cause married couples to divorce. I agree it’s not one thing but a host of unresolved issues. Based on my informal research and experience, below is my Top 10 List of Reasons Why Couples Divorce in the order that they have expressed themselves in my practice.

  1. Fighting over money: how it should be spent or saved
  2. Waning desire for sexual intimacy or infidelity: widening gaps in expectations
  3. Loss of trust: broken promises, lack of dependability
  4. Being selfish: consistently putting personal needs above spouse and marriage
  5. Poor communication and conflict resolutions skills: inability to connect and manage through conflict
  6. Overstepping personal boundaries: physical, mental, and/or emotional abuse
  7. Active Addiction: drugs, gambling, alcohol, and gaming become the priority over everything else
  8. No shared interests or divergent future lifestyles: loss of marriage purpose and interest
  9. Making children a higher priority than spouse: children become center of the family structure even after they are adults
  10. Severe mental instability: unresolved childhood abuse, personality disorders, bi-polar, and depression in one or both partners

Some of these reasons can overlap and influence each other such as infidelity can lead to broken trust, but loss of trust can also be caused by consistently making promises and not carrying through, leading to the spouse feeling insecure in the marriage.

What can you take away from this Top 10 List? An opportunity to self-evaluate the strengthen of your marriage. On a scale of 1 – 10, with 10 the highest score, how well are you and your spouse managing these areas so your marriage doesn’t become a statistic?


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in premarital/marriage, finances, ministry, and leadership. She coaches individuals and couples to be the best versions of themselves. You can contact Sandra at shinecrossings@gmail.com

Dog Rescue: A Passionate Tale about Tails

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Alex and Pepper

Shine Ministry Spotlight: Step into the World of Rescue with Alex Davis


Spotlight gives ministries and volunteers the opportunity to share their passion to connect with others who may want to contribute or partner with their mission.


Does your heart ache when you see the photos of sad dog faces, some of whom are bruised, battered, and starved? Have you wondered how you could possibly help those poor souls who have no voice? You can. Learn more about the rescue world and how you can make a difference in the lives of both rescuers and their forever families—one foster, one adoption at a time.

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You’ve probably heard the horror stories of raids on puppy mills, properties of pet hoarders, and dog fighting rings. Maybe you’ve encountered a hungry dog rummaging through garbage on the side of the road. Texas and many southern state shelters are full of unwanted animals who’ve grown up on the streets, were dumped on the side of the road, or owner-surrendered to a local high-kill shelter. The euthanasia list is a continuous tally of dogs who are days, hours, and minutes from their last breath. Yes, the stories are sad, but there is hope for many of these dogs. Just a few states away, in Colorado the local shelters and Human Societies are relatively empty with many families wanting to adopt a life-long companion.

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States such as Texas and New Mexico have supply and Colorado has demand—a perfect solution. But how do we get these dogs to their forever families? The heroes are the non-profit rescues and their dedicated volunteers who step in to fill this void. Their sacrificial stories are amazing—joyful, heart-wrenching, tiresome, and heart-warming. One young woman’s story will both inspire you and leave you feeling exhausted. My prayer is that Alex’s story will move you to take just one small step deeper into the rescue world where your efforts will be personally rewarding.

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Alex’s Story

When Alex was 6 years old, her mother asked her, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” She replied, “I want to be a seal trainer, have 10 dogs, 10 cats, and 10 kids.” In middle school, Alex slept in the garage for a week on a blow-up mattress with 2 stray dogs she nick-named Scooby and Spice. You could say she was babysitting those two until she could find their owners. In high school, Alex volunteered at the Houston SPCA. Now at 25, Alex is a certified veterinary technician with 3 dogs and 1 cat. She’s fostered over 200 dogs in nearly 4 years and directly touched the lives of thousands of rescue animals. What does the future hold for Alex? Who knows, but it may be too small to fit in those 10 kids.

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Alex and Scooby [2004]

She adopted her first dog in 2013, followed by a second and a cat in 2014. Based on a New Year’s resolution, in January 2016 she submitted her foster application to New Hope Cattle Dog Rescue (NHCDR) and got her first heeler, Juno, that March. Over 50% of first-time fosters adopt their rescue, and Alex almost became one of those statistics. She refused to become a “foster failure” and pushed through her tears to let Juno go to another family, so she could once again foster and give more dogs a chance at a forever home.

Today she searches social media sites for dogs to tag, runs short- and long-haul transports, provides basic medical care, screens adopters, does adopter home checks, evaluate fosters, helps with behavioral training, attends and sets up adoption events, serves on the Board of Directors of NHCDR, and works collaboratively with many other rescue non-profits.

How Does Rescue Start?

As Alex became more entrenched into the rescue world, she became aware first-hand of the struggle in springing a dog out of so-called Texas prison. There are multiple hands that touch a dog’s life from when it’s pulled off the Texas streets or shelter to its forever destination in the home of a Colorado family. The most critical need in the system is available foster homes—especially in Texas where the process begins.

SpotRescue starts when someone posts on social media, commonly Facebook, a dog found dumped on the streets or when volunteers post photos/video of available shelter dogs. Yes, there are volunteers who walk the Texas shelter aisles—whose sole purpose is to put those adoptable dog faces behind wire cages on social media, so someone’s heart can be tugged. A Colorado rescue can commit to take the dog but will only do so if it has a short-term foster in the shelter area that can hold the dog for about 1-3 weeks while out-of-state transport can be arranged and the minimum vetting completed to take the dog across state lines.

Two PittiesShelters will routinely allow registered 501c3 rescues to pull dogs for free by submitting their nonprofit incorporation papers or completing shelter forms. Ideally, the local foster will provide a home environment, learn of the dog’s behaviors and personality, take it to a vet to secure its health certificate and vaccinations (at rescue expense), and ensure it makes its transport to Colorado when space has been secured.

SprinklesColorado volunteers will pick up the dogs off transport and typically take them to their next foster home until they are adopted. Fosters take daily care of the dogs, which includes helping with training (crate, potty, behavior, and basic commands). Dogs are also spayed and neutered before their adoption. On average fosters give a loving home to these rescue dogs for a couple days to a couple weeks and commit to taking them to scheduled adoption events, vet appointments, and meet-and-greets with potential adopters.

OxAdoptable dogs are posted on the rescue’s website, social media pages, and available at the adoption events. Potential adopters must fill out an application and are screened, which includes home and vet (if family own other pets) checks. The adopting family must typically agree that the dog spend most of its time indoors. Although each rescue has its own rules, most have a trial adoption period to make sure the fit is right. At any time if the family can no longer care for the dog, the contract stipulates it must be returned to the rescue. This process delivers a high permanent adoption rate.

The Price to Adopt

Most rescues require a $250 – $350 adoption fee, which barely covers the cost of vetting (vaccines, heartworm test, deworming, spay/neuter, etc.) and transporting across state lines. Behavioral training, food, supplies, and special medical care (orthopedic surgeries, Distemper, Parvo, etc.) are typically covered by donations—not the adoption fees.

OakMany people don’t understand why the adoption fees are so high for unwanted rescue animals. The truth is that rescues want to make sure they put a happy and healthy dog in the home of its forever family. With that end goal, rescues are just covering their basic costs in the adoption fees.

Fostering Makes You a Rescue’s Hero

Rescues are looking for fosters with big hearts. There aren’t any special requirements to be a foster other than a willingness to open your home and show patience as a dog acclimates to its new trauma-free environment. As Alex says, “If you can love a dog, have patience, and be understanding, you can be a good foster.”

IMG_6318Fosters may find they work on crate and potty training as the history of the dog is mostly unknown. If the foster/dog fit is too strained, rescues will do their best to find another foster home. Fosters must realize rescue organizations run solely on volunteers, so nothing happens overnight.

Many families help the system by joining the ranks of relief fosters—helping long-term fosters who need to go out of town for a couple days or week. Rescues are always happy to have fosters who can relieve other fosters on a case-by-case choice which keeps the dog in a home environment and saves the kenneling of $15 to $40 per night.

Rescue Comes with a Personal Price

How does a young rescuer fit in the demands of rescue while earning a living? Not very well. Rescuers like Alex pay a heavy price to rehome these dogs. She’s lost personal relationships, forgone work hours, and self-funded expenses (gasoline and wear and tear on her personal vehicle) from her own meager vet technician salary of $25,000 per year.

IMG_6224Although Alex has gained an incredible support network of friends who have a common passion and knows the pure joy of connecting the family and rescue, the price has been expensive in both money and untold hours in the field.

How many hours does she dedicate to these dogs? On average Alex spends 4 hours a day on social media—tagging shelter dogs, responding to texts and calls of dogs in need, arranging transport, answering foster questions, etc. Because of her reputation in the rescue world, she routinely gets calls from locals for help with a dog they found abandoned or a neighbor who wants to get rid of a dog.

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Every 3 weeks she donates one of her days off for a 15-hour transport run. After cleaning crates and loading the van, she may travel to New Mexico to pick up 20 dogs and drive them up to Denver. There are 1-2 adoption events per month which usually involves 5-6 hours of her time for travel, setup, and tear down. None of this includes her time for taking dogs for vetting, supplies to fosters, and meet-and-greets with potential adopters. Oh, and she cares for upwards of 5 rescues in her own home.

Alex’s Future

Alex has a heart for the working dogs (cattle dog/heeler) and bullies, because people misunderstand these breeds. Many adopters don’t realize the energy level of working dogs who require lots of exercise or a “job”—otherwise, they can get destructive. She favors pit-bull mixes because the press has turned the American Pit Bull Terrier, once referred to as the loyal American family dog, into a villain.

DeliahToday Alex is serves NHCDR, breed specific for heeler mixes, and she tags pitties with From Forgotten to Forever Rescue (FFTF). She has a dream to own property to build kennels as backup to her own foster-home rescue. Her passion is to save death row dogs—those minutes from euthanasia—victims of shelter overcrowding. Alex is truly the champion of the underdog of underdogs.

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A Simple Request

Please be a foster. Why? Because fostering adds so much joy to your life as you see these dogs’ personalities come to life. You can be a change agent who can help a dog go from being traumatized to thriving.

DiamondIf you have a dog or two, the rescue will require that your pets are spayed or neutered. No one wants an oops! If you’ve ever thought of fostering, do it. The upside is how fulfilled you’ll feel in helping an underdog, and the only downside may be some adjustment in a temporary living situation.

You Can Help in Other Impactful Ways

The innocent victims are the dogs, and the heroes are those volunteering in the rescue world. You too can be a hero, and there’s many ways to help:

  • Reach out to a local rescue and offer to be a short-term foster.
  • Offer to be a substitute foster for a long-term foster going on vacation
  • Offer to transport dogs from foster to transport
  • Donate money and/or supplies to a local rescue
  • Help a rescuer with expenses for gas, oil/filter changes, gift cards for services, or money to help defray their own out-of-pocket expenses

Any amount helps. If you’d like to learn more about rescue, send a word of thanks, or gift a woman who cares too much, you can reach Alex at alex.davis11_94@yahoo.com  or 281.881.1826.

Ruby


About the Author: Sandra Dillon who has a heart for ministry and servant leadership and can be found in the mission field coaching on relationships and marriage strengthening, drilling water wells, installing filtration systems, and teaching hygiene. You can contact Sandra at shinecrossings@gmail.com

Invest in a Couple’s Marriage and Change a Family’s Future

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James Odhiambo Ageng’a and Faith Chege


Our Ask

If you live in the United States, you’re blessed to have ready access to information and services to help you with your relationship whether dating, engaged, or married. Self-help is only an Amazon book order away, a call to your Employer Assistance Program (EAP), or a conversation with your pastor. Most people in countries across the globe don’t have access to relationship help that can radically improve their marriage and change the course of their family legacy.

I’m personally asking you to help another couple, who wants to invest in their marriage, by simply funding part or all of their materials and/or the trip expenses for Darin and me to travel to Kenya and Tanzania, where we will hold several marriage conferences and train-the-trainer workshops. Will you help us achieve a big vision to help others who are willing to help themselves?

“We’re not meant to walk alone into our vision. As long as we are connected to the source and others, God uses people to do God’s work.”

– Sandra Dillon


The Big Vision: To Put Marriage Tools in the Hands of Every Couple

Developmental mission is the name of the game and sustainability is its goal. Back in 2013, God called Darin and me into the mission field to do long-term, partnership changing work to improve communities across the globe, while locally investing in marriages. These two parallel paths have now converged into the vision God placed on our hearts for 2020: go to East Africa and help marriages and families through the power of relationship coaching. Let local marriage leaders take these tools and shape them for their community.

Our big vision is for everyone to have access to relationship coaching—every couple who is married, engaged, and dating as well as those about to date. We want everyone to be empowered with self-awareness, perspective, and tools, so they can choose to create a successful relationship. Aren’t you excited to be a part of this vision?

“One of life’s greatest rewards is knowing you helped change someone’s life for the better.”

– Sandra Dillon


The First Big Trip

Our big step into this big vision is to fly to Nairobi, Kenya, and put on several conferences on marriage strengthening and host train-the-trainer sessions. We will return to the first church we visited in October 2013, now called International Christian Center Woodlands Rongai (www.facebook.com/iccrongaicampus) where we met Faith who was the music leader for Woodlands Church Nairobi. Recently, I had the privilege of taking Faith Chege and James Ageng’a through premarital coaching via video calling. James belongs to Life Changing Sanctuary (www.facebook.com/lifechangingsanctuary). Their churches are welcoming us in 2020 with open arms.

IMG_5760Prior to departure, James and Faith will become SYMBIS (Save-Your-Marriage-Before-It-Starts) trainers by completing their online training program. They will identify couples who will be part of the train-the-trainer program and also take the SYMBIS survey prior to our arrival. They will benefit from SYMBIS and possibly be the next generation of marriage mentors.

The conference will focus on God’s laws of marriage and marriage mission/vision. The train-the-trainer program will take couples through their own couple SYMBIS report and cover finances, love, attitudes, sex, parenting, blending families, spirituality, goals, communication, conflict resolution, etc. We will answer questions and enhance their training with supplemental materials and situational stories. Darin and I will empower them and pass the torch to James and Faith as the future local SYMBIS leaders, who will then put reports into the hands of mentors and couples across their communities.

Then we are off to Tanzania with Vine & Branches and more marriage coaching….

We need financial support for training and the on-going mentoring program. SYMBIS survey prices, which seem reasonable in U.S. terms, can be astronomical for a couple who makes only $150 per month. Facilitator training is $200, and the surveys are $35 per couple. We’re creating a World Changers on Mission Fund, and asking U.S. friends, family, and supporters to contribute toward couples’ SYMBIS reports, relationship books for couples and African church libraries, and expenses to cover conferences and train-the-trainer sessions.

“It’s not enough to say you’re not part of the problem. Will you commit to be part of the solution?”

– Sandra Dillon

Our goal is to raise an initial $15,000 to start the “good works”. The first big step is to make a 2-week trip that takes us from Nairobi, Kenya, to Dar es Salaam and Mbeya, Tanzania. We dream of going to Uganda in 2021, because we already have pastors and community leaders inviting us to bring marriage strengthening to their communities.


How You Can Help

A marriage has the power to make you miserable (when bad) and fulfilled (when good). Please invest in a married or engaged couple by donating to our big vision. When you invest in a couple, you not only help them, but you also play a role in developing a healthy family legacy and to break generational curses. Your investment pays dividends for generations and helps communities thrive. Here’s no greater return on investment than to see a person or family flourish. When spouses and families are healthy, they can then go and be servant leaders.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

– Margaret Mead

No amount is too small. You can give through several options:

  1. Donate via PayPal using email: worldchangersonmission@gmail.com. Sandra Dillon is the name associated with the account.
  2. Donate via Zell to shinecrossings@gmail.com.
  3. Venmo money to Sandra-Dillon-4
  4. Mail check made out to Shine Crossings. Text me and I will provide a mailing address.

World Changers on Mission is not yet a 501c3, so all donations are a true gift. We will honor our donors’ gifts with accountability and transparency as if they are a donation. In all cases, please make a note for any restrictions on this initiative which may include:

  1. Unrestricted: use wherever needed most
  2. Use for couples’ surveys, training, and materials
  3. Use to defer expenses for your trip such as airfare, hotel, security, and in-country transportation

All donations will be acknowledged, and if you provide your email, you will be included on blogs, news, and updates so you can see the workings of your investment. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to Sandra Dillon at 281.793.3741 or worldchangersonmission@gmail.com

If financial giving is not a possibility for you, we would ask that you share this post with your friends, family, and network.


Your Request

If you know of an organization in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, who wants to connect with World Changers on Mission, please email their name, contact, and a bit of history. We’d love to reach out to them for a conversation and see how we might connect with them and include them on a future trip.


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Your Scars: Tattoos of Victory or Reminders of Your Pain?

thought-catalog-o38AW4xnwEo-unsplashI had a conversation with a woman who was a victim of childhood abuse by a lesbian aunt. The abuse started when she was 10 years old and under the ruse of having to treat a medical condition, because she had started puberty so young. Only a handful of people knew of her abuse in her adult years, yet she struggled with many unresolved feelings and unanswered questions because of her reluctance to share her story. Many will read this and self-identify. I know, because you share your stories with me.

Sexual predators are commonly family members or close friends of the family, who pray on their victims’ innocence and ignorance. In this woman’s case, what started out as supposed “medical treatment”, escalated into full on sexual encounters until her mid-teens. Now, she feels conflicted in her feelings of guilt and what she had contributed to the abuse, especially once she started to figure out what was happening wasn’t “right”. Was she at fault for not stopping it? Should she have told someone to make it stop? Who else would be abused by this aunt?

Of course, my response: “You are absolutely not responsible in any way, shape or form for what happened to you. You were an innocent child who was robbed of her innocence. Your aunt opened up the Pandora’s box of your sexuality. She stole from you what was not hers to take.” Her story reminded me of all the other childhood sex abuse stories shared with me over the years, including girls molested by piano teachers and raped by stepfathers. If you can think it, it’s happened to some innocent child. Satan is the ruler of the earthly world, and unfortunately, bad things happen to bad and good people.

“Without suffering, there is no growth, and without growth, there is no life.”

Sandra Dillon

No one is immune. No one gets a pain-free life. Pain just comes in different packages. Sometimes our pain comes from choices we make, and at times, we are the victim of fallout from other people’s sinful decisions. If pain and suffering are inevitable, the bigger question is: what are you going to do with your pain? Are you going to make lemonade from lemons or are you going to wallow in the misery? Will you take what you have experienced and make it a platform or a service ministry?

I compare pain and suffering to a wound. Imagine you have a big slash on your forearm which has healed over with a thick scar. When you look down at your scar every day, what are you going to say to yourself? Will you relive that event and count your blessings that you survived that injury and are living another day, or are you going to look at that scar and constantly relive the pain of the past? Your power comes from your choices.

My prayer for people who are suffering is that they will choose a healthy perspective—a survival perspective that moves into a thriving life. Those bad experiences: they’re your victory tattoos. You’re no longer a victim but a victor.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in premarital/marriage, finances, ministry, and leadership. She coaches individuals and couples to be the best versions of themselves. You can contact Sandra at shinecrossings@gmail.com

Married Couples: Have You Had the Sex Talk Lately?

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What did you “feel” when you read Married Couples: Have You Had the Sex Talk Lately? Just the whisper of the 3-letter word SEX has the power to evoke fear and apprehension, ignite passion, nibble away at self-esteem, bring memories alive, and create fantasies—basically elicit a strong emotional and perhaps physical response. The long-running rumor mill claimed that men thought about sex every 7 seconds. Untrue, but studies do show that the average man thinks about sex 19 times a day—more often than food and sleep. Women, on the other hand, think of sex 10 times per day.  Statistics show that sex undoubtedly is an integral part of our human thoughts and lives.

When it comes to sex, there’s no one size that fits all. But if no one’s talking about sex, no one knows what fits. — Sandra Dillon

Sex: The Hot Topic

Why are we consumed with thoughts of sex, and why is it such a hot topic conjuring both pleasure and conflict? Without a doubt, we are sexual beings, and sex is one of life’s greatest physical pleasures. When God created marriage, he also created sex for pleasure, bonding, and procreation. He created sex to be enjoyable; otherwise, the human race would be in jeopardy of extinction.

Sex is one of God’s most beautiful gifts to married couples to connect and celebrate their relationship as two become one.

As a Christian Marriage Coach, I’ve seen what God makes for good within the marriage bed, Satan twists, perverts, and destroys. Some married couples have difficulty just talking about sex, even those who rate their sex life as satisfactory. When sex involves secrets or avoids difficult conversations, there’s trouble in Eden.

Based on my years spent coaching premarital and married couples on my couch, I will share some perspectives on sex that will hopefully help you understand the magnitude of the sexual dysfunction that plagues today’s relationships and offer encouragement for a more fulfilling sex life—the sex life that God meant all of us to have within marriage.

Pornography: The Sex-pectations Marriage Killer

Pornography and the media’s shaping of sexual culture have undermined sex lives, destroyed marriages, and stolen more self-esteem as often as a malignant cancer kills. History has shown a propensity to dismiss women’s sexual needs, objectify them, and exploit them through social media, advertising, and sex-trafficking. Even if a wife hasn’t personally experienced sexual abuse, she may be feel the effects of pornography weighing upon her sex life based on her husband’s relationship with it.

Although the fastest growing segment of porno addiction involves women, men still typically wrestle more with pornography based on being more visually stimulated by images than women. Pornography bombards men with messages that keep him completely ignorant on the differences in how men and women typically experience sexual pleasure.

Pornography paints this glorious picture of women enjoying sex as much as the man with thrust upon thrust. Rarely would a woman agree that this picture reflects her version of a satisfying sexual encounter. Women are more emotionally stimulated and respond to their husbands when he initiates behaviors that please her. Perhaps she needs a half-hour of intimate conversation or help cleaning up in the kitchen after dinner before heading to bedroom.

Men need direct physical touching, where women need non-sexual touching throughout the day and usually some soft touches during sex. Pornography would have you believe that normal is several minutes of pumping and a woman orgasms in delight. False. Most women do not orgasm through penile penetration. Most women climax through external stimulation of their clitoris. Men typically need to achieve orgasm for them to be satisfied; whereas, women don’t necessarily need a climax to feel the same. Without this knowledge, pornography—as teacher—paints a distorted picture of normalcy for the marriage bed.

Anger, Trust Wounds, and Stress – The Emotional Sex Killers

Sex acts like a thermometer in the marriage by measuring its temperature. Anger and hurt dramatically cool the mutual desire for sex. Unresolved anger toward a spouse is a dangerous sex killer, because it doesn’t allow the expression of love. Although men can typically have sex with their wife when angry, they typically do so as a way to create connection. Most women link sex and love so intimately that they cannot separate the two.  When a woman doesn’t feel love from her husband, she typically turns away or shuts down.

Pornography also creates trust wounds and escalates self-doubts. A wife may say, “If my husband really loved and desired me, he wouldn’t need to look at pornography.” Her pain is real, yet she may not realize that pornography is not her fault. Each spouse bears the responsibility of his or her own choices. What might have started out as innocent fun can turn into a monster that devours all marriage trust.

Unfortunately, the deep abyss of pornography eventually forces people to extremes in order to achieve the same high.  Just as drug addicts need more of the same or more powerful drugs, sex addicts need more perverse images such as naked child and sex. The brutal downside of pornography is the eventual inability to be stimulated and achieve orgasm with a real person.

Stress from the over-scheduled life is a more socially acceptable addiction that saps bedroom energy. Marriage sex usually moves to the back burner to make room for work, errands, cleaning, kids’ extracurricular activities, shopping, birthday celebrations, poker night, and book club to name just a few. One should not put off to tomorrow what one should be doing today—having sex with his or her spouse. We should re-schedule these stressors and prioritize sex.

Why should we make sex a priority? Because sexual intimacy is the glue that keeps a couple connected. Nothing has the potential to make us as happy or as miserable as the condition of our marriage. Don’t let one more family activity or work event interfere with your sex. A happy marriage is certainly not the sole outcome of happy sex and vise versa, but one cannot ignore one without it influencing the other.

What Does It Take to Have a Great Sex Life?

The definition and frequency of great sex are a reflection of the mutual appetites of husband and wife. Unless Satan has polluted the marriage bed or twisted the thoughts of a spouse in some way, most couples would say they have satisfying sex lives. Even physically disabled couples find a way to connect on their own terms. One important ingredient for great sex is open communication about needs and desires—asking for what you want—in a positive way. We each should know the pleasure points of our bodies, and it’s the spouse’s responsibility to communicate to his or her partner what feels good.

Women tend to be more reserved in asking for what they want in the bedroom. The truth is that most men want to deeply please their wives. When wives don’t speak up, husbands try their best to do what they think will, which leads to mixed results. Please wives—don’t ever fake an orgasm. When you fake an orgasm you tell your husband that what he did was good, and you’ll get more of the same.

kaitlyn-baker-uMSS5_jNc98-unsplashAnd while you’re talking about sex, have fun. Some spouses only feel comfortable with the missionary style, because they believe anything else is dirty. Have you read the book of Song of Solomon? If not, I suggest you read it once, if not twice. Unless its Biblically forbidden, what goes on between two consenting spouses is fair game. Act out fun fantasies, oral sex, different positions, and throw in some sex toys if interested. Bring energy into the marital bed.

Age can bring its challenges. Men may have difficulty getting an erection and lower production of estrogen as a woman enters menopause reduces her vaginal elasticity and lubrication. Penile sex can become painful for a women. Don’t shut down the marital sex because of these physical limitations. Find a work around. Get creative in ways that keep you physically connected and mutually satisfied. Your attitude, sexual sensitivity, and understanding in the bedroom will speak volumes to your partner.

Wrapping Up the Sex Talk

Unresolved sexual and financial disagreements can lead one spouse to file for divorce, and yet these are two topics on which most couples have difficulty communicating and resolving conflict. I encourage you to initiate a heart-felt conversation with your spouse about your sex life.

You may think your sex life is terrific and you know all this stuff.  If so, consider yourself fortunate and still ask, “How are we doing in the bedroom? Is there anything I could be doing more or less of?” It never hurts to take the temperature of your sex life every once in a while.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in premarital/marriage, finances, ministry, and leadership. She coaches individuals and couples to be the best versions of themselves and to have thriving relationships. You can contact Sandra at shinecrossings@gmail.com

Will You Give Dogs and Cats a Second Chance at a Better Life?

Shine Ministry Spotlight: Jim Wells County Pets Alive with Bekah Chiarello


Spotlight gives ministries the opportunity to share their passion to connect with others who may want to contribute or partner with their mission.


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Are you one to root for the underdog? Does your heart hurt when you see helpless animals suffering through no fault of their own? Do you feel overwhelmed with emotion over cases of animal neglect and abuse? Are you parallelized in taking the first step, because the issue is so big you don’t know where to start? You can now choose to have a part in creating a story that helps not only an underdog but also the volunteers who dedicate themselves 24/7 to help those animals.

47495907_1967948259941720_430845083042971648_nMargaret Mead made famous the saying, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Read Bekah’s story in bringing alive her non-profit to help those who have no voice. Perhaps you’ll write yourself into the story and provide much needed resources to continue the work of making a difference by helping one dog or cat.

Who is Jim Wells County Pets Alive?

Jim Wells County Pets Alive (JWCPA) is a small non-profit in Sandia, Texas, which is about an hour and a half drive west of Corpus Christi. They are giving a second chance at life to unwanted dogs and cats. With a small network of volunteers who help with in-home fostering, animal transport, networking, and social media sharing, JWCPA has an ambitious mission to change the rescue landscape in this rural area. Bekah, the non-profit’s founder, has a dream to (1) develop a robust spay/neuter program, (2) ensure successful long-term adoption for shelter pets, (3) educate government locals and residents of county animal ordinances, and (4) launch an owner-pet retention program.

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How Did Jim Wells County Pets Alive Get Started?

Bekah, currently a local animal control officer, has always had a heart for animals. Referring to herself as more a cat person, she fondly remembers when Lizzy would wait for her to get off the bus, so they could walk home together after school. In high school, Bekah worked in a vet clinic where she learned how to treat dogs and cats under a veterinarian’s care. She eventually graduated college with a B.S in biology, but quickly determined that her call was to help the animals versus studying them. She also volunteered on weekends at local shelters, transporting over 400 animals to Corpus for low-cost spay/neuter and helping with hoarder houses. Eventually, she purchased a 2.5-acre property that gave her more room to foster between 5 to 10 dogs at any given time, using a spare bedroom to segregate the sick or too young.

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As a rural animal control officer, she now helps local law enforcement uphold protection ordinances that most residents and even some government entities are not aware of. Her partner stays home to work directly with the rescue and support the daily needs of their fosters and own pets. After dedicating 20 to 40 hours per week to rescue efforts, in 2017, Bekah created a 501(c)3 with the hope that people would be led to donate to her mission.

Where is Jim Wells County Pets Alive Going?

Bekah’s vision for the non-profit is to empower the local people to be part of real solutions. She wants to turn lack luster animal control into activism in the shelter environment.  What might that look like?  Jim Wells has started a research project to bring the intel that quantifies the magnitude of this problem, so people and non-profit grant monies can help solve the problem.

Did you know that in big cities, about 10% of the adopted animals are not spayed/neutered, but in rural areas, where shelters don’t have financial support, 95% of dogs and cats are adopted out unspayed? What happens next? Most female animals are returned to the shelter just days before they are to give birth, because owners don’t want to deal with a litter. There is also a lack of basic vaccinations and medical care. Families routinely return pets to the shelter, because they can’t afford medical treatment when these adopted animals get sick.

IMG_20171208_080355Unlike major cities that have policies and funding to spay and neuter pets before adoption, the rural shelters barely have space to kennel stray or surrendered animals. If funds for spaying and basic medical care were available, the rural shelters could change the landscape for local pets. Basic animal education and behavioral training are a few solutions that can answer the call as well as animal networking across the country to place dogs and cats into forever homes.

Dixie’s Story

Dixie was born in late January 2019 with three brothers. The mother was hit by a car, and the four siblings were kept in a 10 ft. by 5 ft. outdoor kennel. Emaciated and full of worms, Bekah would routinely visit the property and beg the owner to give up the puppies, so she could rehome them. He released the brothers but kept the female for his daughter. Bekah continued to return to check on Dixie. Once Bekah found the cage flooded, and Dixie was only able to lay down in standing water. Finally, the man relented and released Dixie to Bekah. Melissa, a foster volunteer, nursed Dixie back to health. Bekah connected with New Hope Cattle Dog Rescue, who was willingly to transport Dixie to Colorado and find her a forever home.

57964050_2152639284805949_6067580997199724544_nDixie was to have a one-night Houston hotel stay at the Dillon home before catching transport to Colorado. We fell in love with this quirky girl who eats anything including grass, bark, pinecones, pine needles, and twigs. We attribute her behavior to being forced to forage for food. Dixie has a second chance at a new and better life, because of Bekah and the Jim Wells County Pets Alive team.

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You Can Help Be Part of the Solution

The innocent victims are the dogs and cats who need your help. Would you be able to contribute something to Bekah and her nonprofit to help change the lives of these furbabies? Your money goes directly to help the animals with spay/neuter, medical care and supplies, and transportation costs for their welfare of the animals. Any amount helps, even $5. There are several ways you can give and make a difference:

You can also LIKE their Facebook page and spread the word. Your LIKE may connect someone who will be moved and want to be part of writing a new chapter in this story.

IMG_20190806_101103If you have questions, Bekah would love to hear from you. She is a woman on a mission to change the world one dog and one cat at a time. You can reach Bekah at jimwellscountypetsalive@yahoo.com or 361.673.3909.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon who has a heart for ministry and servant leadership and can be found in the mission field coaching on relationships and marriage strengthening, drilling water wells, installing filtration systems, and teaching hygiene. You can contact Sandra at shinecrossings@gmail.com