Posts by Stephen James

Helping you navigate through life

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Lesson #3: 10 Things Wilderness Taught Me in 4 Days

Lesson 3: When you get in a rut, ride it out. This is the third installment in a series of essays about some life lessons I learned on a recent enduro motorcycle adventure designed to help rejuvenate leaders. In total, we covered more than 275 miles from Sequoia National Forest to Yosemite National Park. During the day we rode hard, and at night we sat around the campfire having honest, vulnerable, and courageous conversations. Most of our lives are pretty tame because we spend a lot of energy avoiding things that are potentially painful, difficult, or injurious. Whether the risk

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Lesson #2: 10 Things Wilderness Taught Me in 4 Days

Lesson 2: Ride your own ride. This is the second installment in a series of essays about some life lessons I learned on a recent enduro motorcycle adventure designed to help rejuvenate male leaders. In total, we covered more than 275 miles from Sequoia National Forest to Yosemite National Park ascending to elevations around 10,000 ft. At night, we sat around the campfire having honest, vulnerable, and courageous conversations. After we packed what stuff we could into our small daypacks, we were instructed to head into the trailer and select our riding gear: body armor, boots, helmet, and gloves. As

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10 Things Wilderness Taught Me in 4 Days

Recently, I organized an adventure trip for male leaders through Wilderness Collective . In four days, we covered more than 275 miles from Sequoia National Forest to Yosemite National Park. We traversed rugged terrain on enduro motorcycles that lead us over mountain passes—some more than 10,000 ft. in elevation. At night, we sat around the campfire having honest, vulnerable, and courageous conversations. In all, there were eleven of us. (Ten from Middle Tennessee and one from Louisiana.) Most of us were in our mid-forties, but our ages ranged from late 20s to early 50s. A few of us got injured. All

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Parenting with Heart, Part 3

It was a beautiful spring night in early April. The trees were budding. The days were getting warmer, but the nights were still cool. Heather and Emma Claire were at a movie. I (Stephen) was bowling with our youngest sons, Henry and Teddy. Elijah was off at a friend’s house for a birthday party. We had just finished our first frame when my phone rang. It was the kind of call you never want to get. Heather was on the other end. She had a serious and panicked tone in her voice. “Stephen, they’ve taken Elijah to the hospital. He fell in a fire pit. Meet us there.”

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Parenting with Heart, Part 2

A few weeks ago, I (Stephen) was having a conversation with one of my sons and Heather in the kitchen. We were going round and round, and the conversation was precariously teetering on the verge of a blowup. My son looked me square in the eye and said, “You only listen when you’re talking.” I turned to Heather and said, “Is that true?” She said, “Yeah, it’s kind of true,” and we had a big ole laugh about it. His comment still hurt. It still stung. But he was right. The places our children can’t laugh with us are the places where we need to grow and heal.  

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Marriage: More than You Bargained For

This is based on a homily I recently delivered at my friends’ wedding. There’s a lot here to reflect on about marriage, how it changes us, and what it calls us to become. The Judeo-Christian marriage is much more than a legal union. It’s a spiritual joining that, in it’s very nature, is designed to change people—mature them. It is so central to the spiritual DNA of life that it’s one of the major themes in the creation story. Genesis, Chapter 2, is the first narrative story in both the Hebrew Torah and Christian Pentateuch, and it sets the framework

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11 Things You Don’t Want In a Therapist

Picking the right therapist for your specific concerns can feel daunting. This list is designed to help you assess your therapy experience and feel more confident in who you choose to move forward this. While counselors are humans and make mistakes all the time, there are some people who practice as therapists who aren't professionally prepared or emotionally ready to be in the role. Here are some helpful indicators for assessing whether or not a therapist is a good a fit for you or not: They felt more like a friend than a professional. While it’s important to have a

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The Most Difficult Years of Marriage

I’ve been helping couples in the context of marriage counseling about a decade and half. In that time, I’ve noticed something: the prime number years of relationships are often the hardest  (i.e. 1, 3. 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29…) Often, it seems these years correspond with significant transitions and pressure points in marriage. Learning the tools to handle these transitions and pressure points is essential to being satisfied in a relationship long term. Below are the questions I find couples asking during their “odd years”: Year 1: Where did the person I felt so in love with go?

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Show Your Self

Let’s be really honest here: No one makes it past seventeen or eighteen without receiving their fair share of dings—and that’s if they are lucky. By the time most people get their driver’s license, they have already experienced enough emotional and spiritual fender benders that their hearts are dented and their self-image is scratched for years to come. You know what I’m talking about: parents divorcing, grandparents dying, being shamed by a coach or mentor, being rejected by a girl or a guy, humiliating yourself in front of a crowd, being betrayed by someone you trusted, or having your hopes

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Life as Art

Have you ever thought to yourself, “If I could just know the future, then everything would be ok.” This kind of magical thinking troubles a lot of us. It’s called anxiety, and thoughts like this carry the potential for a lot of wasted energy. Anxiety is a powerful self-willed illusion that says, “If I can outsmart life and predict the future, then I will be ok.” When we are in anxiety, we work over a problem until our brain is like a hamster on speed in a wheel—a whole lot of running with nowhere to go. What could go wrong? How many different ways? What will he say? What will she

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