What Voices Have Kept You From Reaching Your Dreams?


What’s the difference between “Impossible” and “I’m Possible?” Just one space and one well-placed apostrophe, but in practical terms the chasm may be deep and wide with long tentacles that reach back into your personal history. What messages from the world have you absorbed in the 6-7 inches between your ears? More importantly, what beliefs are holding you back with whispers of “I can’t,” when “you can!” When you listen to Jeremy Cowart’s story brought to life through his creative artistry, I pray that you will challenge any limiting beliefs holding you back from achieving your life purpose. Jeremy Cowart – I’m Possible Story

After you watch Jeremy’s 20-minute video, answer these questions:

  1. What message resonated with you the most?
  2. What faulty thinking (lie) are you holding onto?
  3. What truth do you need to replace that lie with?
  4. What one next step could you take that would move you closer to your dream?

How I met Jeremy Cowart

In November 2015, God brought Jeremy Cowart onto my radar screen in Nashville, TN. My husband, Darin, and I were on our annual Thanksgiving road-trip with a short visit touring Nashville. While enjoying live music at Tin Roof on a Saturday night, Darin went to the restroom during a band break. When he returned to our table, Darin asked what our itinerary was for the next day. I replied we were leaving early for Louisville, KY. Darin then asked me to rearrange our schedule for a noon departure, so we could attend service at Cross Point Church in the morning.

My expression must have been priceless? Part disbelief? Part quizzical? Part annoyance? Why Cross Point Church? Darin explained that while he was at the urinal, he looked up to graffiti inviting him to Cross Point Church. God put it on his heart to go! For those who’ve read our marriage mission statement, you know we “listen for God’s voice and act in obedience.”

Off to church we went the next morning! The pastor wasn’t preaching that Sunday, and a special guest, Jeremy Cowart, was sharing his testimony! The message? I’m Possible! “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13, NKJV). God put us at Cross Point Church on that November Sunday, so we could continue to share Jeremy’s impactful message as we serve and encourage others across the globe!

144-2 - CopyAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach, consultant, and mentor with an extensive background in business development, leadership, and ministry which provides her with the experience, relational skills, and proven processes to move individuals, couples, and leaders to higher levels of personal awareness, effectiveness, and goal achievement.  She coaches in a variety of areas including life purpose and plans, business, finances, and premarital/marriage.  Contact: sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com

How to Create a Passionate and Purposeful Marriage?


When I ask couples why they are getting married or why they chose their partner, they typically reply with phrases such as “because I love her,” “he’s my best friend,” “she’ll make a great wife and mother,” and “he has a great sense of humor.” These personal attributes and feelings are all wonderful ingredients for a happy marriage.

When I ask the next question, “What is the purpose of your marriage?” the answer comes in a quizzical look. Many couples have not answered this second question for themselves, having been captivated by their “in love” feelings for each other. Helmenstine (2017) claims that oxytocin and endorphins fuel feelings of love for 18 months to 4 years. When the love chemicals dissipate, what will excite and sustain your marriage?

Keeping your marriage alive!

Those who enter marriage blindly typically do not fare as well as couples who seek premarital coaching. Parrott and Parrott (2016) share that ~ 40% of divorced couples claim that lack of pre-marriage preparation contributed to their divorce. The unfortunate statistics are that 20% of first marriages end in divorce within 5 years and 32% by 10 years (Avvo, 2010).  The statistics are higher for couples who marry more than once.

For the average couple, the love chemicals are replaced with feelings of attachment and comfort. Couples who thrive typically do so by adopting behaviors that love their spouse and reflect their marriage purpose. Chapman (2015) asserts that love is not a feeling but a verb where spouses intentionally love their partners in ways that speak to them. I propose that intentional love can be taken to a higher level by co-creating a marriage mission statement.

What is a marriage mission statement?

God has designed you for a purpose, and He has also called our marriages into a purpose? If you are married, are you living out your mission? Companies, ministries, and even individuals have mission statements, so why should your marriage be any different? The purpose of a marriage mission statement is to get clarity on what is important to you, help set a direction for your marriage, and provide grounding and guiding boundaries by which to live.

Now if you are saying, “It’s too late for us, because we’ve been married over 20 years,” I would respond that it is never too late to invest in your marriage. Why? Because a marriage mission is not about the past or present but entirely on a future vision. What do you want your marriage to become? Creating a marriage mission statement together is fun! Plan for a series of dates where the two of you spend quality time asking each other questions and sharing your deepest desires.

How do you write a marriage mission statement?

Your mission statement is as unique as you are with the freedom to design its content, length, and style. The only criteria are it should excite you, align you as a couple, and give you sufficient clarity to know that you are living it. A recommended approach to build the content is to answer and discuss a series of questions intended to help you define a vision and explore values.

If your marriage mission does not reflect your core values, the statement will likely be empty words on a piece of paper. Common elements in a mission statement may include a vision, values, dreams, goals, and actions that support its purpose. When you discuss your marriage vision and values, your mission and goals will tend to fill in the gaps to bring your statement to life.

Below is a sampling of questions to stimulate your thinking and conversation. Do not let this list inhibit you from exploring other questions. Your answers should reflect your passions and feelings involving God, family, community, and others.


  • Describe your ideal marriage. What elements, conditions, activities, and behaviors would describe it?
  • What do you dream of accomplishing? How would a marriage union help achieve that?
  • How has God spoken into the future for your life and marriage?
  • If your children were asked to describe your marriage, how would you want them to be able to answer?


  • What causes are you willing to fight for?
  • What are some of your core values?
  • What are your non-negotiable behaviors?
  • Where do you invest the best of your time, energy, and money?


  • What Scriptures speak to your heart? How does God fit into your marriage mission?
  • What are you excited and passionate to share alongside your spouse?
  • What activities and accomplishments would describe your ideal marriage?
  • What do you want to teach your children through your marriage relationship?


Living out your marriage mission!

Once you have a mission statement that reflects and excites you as a couple, think of short- and long-term goals that reflect that mission. What actionable steps can you take to move into your mission? Take time to pray to God to ask Him what he would like you to do. Ideally, you may want to select a Scripture that speaks to your marriage!

How will you share your marriage mission?

Dillon Marriage MissionI pray that you have fun creating a marriage mission statement, but I would suggest you do not stop there. Your statement is a living and breathing manifestation of your future dreams.  Could you use an accountability partner? I suggest you share your mission statement with other couples. Find those who are equally passionate about their marriage to join you, or perhaps be a mentor to a couple who wants to take the same journey. Get together twice a year, review your mission statements, and share how you are or are not realizing your goals. Make it a double or triple date, share your successes and challenges, and be sure to ask for support.

When should you refresh our marriage mission statement?

Life and marriage are a journey of unexplored roads. Your marriage mission statement may need to be tweaked when you reach major life milestones such as having a child, changes in career paths, and empty-nesting. With many couples spending more on their wedding ceremony than they do investing in their marriage, I pray you will take the time to plan for the glorious purpose of your marriage. What do you want to accomplish with your soulmate? What do you want your marriage to reflect back into the world? Your choices will decide!


Avvo. (2010). Marriage and divorce statistics. Retrieved from https://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/marriage-divorce-statistics

Chapman, G. (2015). The five love languages: The secret to love that lasts. Chicago, IL; Northfield Publishing.

Helmenstine, A. (2017). The chemicals of love: Love chemicals and chemistry of love. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/the-chemistry-of-love-609354

Parrott, L. & Parrott, L. (2016). Saving your marriage before it starts assessment: Facilitator training manual.

144-2 - CopyAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach, consultant, and mentor with an extensive background in business development, leadership, and ministry which provides her with the experience, relational skills, and proven processes to move individuals, couples, and leaders to higher levels of personal awareness, effectiveness, and goal achievement.  She coaches in a variety of areas including life purpose and plans, business, finances, and pre-marital/marriage.

How to Avoid Walking on Egg Shells in Your Relationship?


Have you found yourself avoiding conversations you really want to have with your spouse for fear of starting an argument? Is timing for those difficult conversations not right? Or does the timing never seem right? Based on my conversations with others as a life coach, many couples shy away from initiating heart-felt and meaningful conversations because of the emotional repercussions.

Some dating, engaged, and married relationships have developed unhealthy behavior patterns, where one or both suffer from what I commonly refer to as “walking on egg shells” syndrome. Couples fail to realize the long-term damage that avoided conversations, verbal eruptions, and hurt feelings have on their relationship. Empowered with awareness, communication strategies, and practice, any couple can turn “walking on egg shells” into “walking on sunshine.”

This coach has walked on egg shells too!

Is it achievable that couples can have no filters and fully express themselves to their partner? Yes! Life coaches commonly have walked in their client’s footsteps. I’ve crushed a few egg shells in my life walk. With my first husband, my conversations were limited to daily tasks, childcare, and surface level talk to avoid arguments. With my second and last husband, I’m free to initiate meaningful and difficulty subjects at any time without concern. I’m not suggesting you need to change spouses to have healthier conversations, but both spouses need to commit to choose mindsets and communication approaches that honor themselves, spouse, and their marriage.

Conflict should be viewed as an invitation to create greater intimacy, where both can be vulnerable, open, and honest. How successful couples are in sustaining a happy and fun-filled marriage will be grounded in their willingness to deal with conflict as well as manage emotions and relationship expectations. How does a couple get from “walking on egg shells” to feeling respected, accepted, and loved? It starts with first understanding what you are really arguing about.

What was that argument really about?

“We seem to always fight about small, unimportant stuff!” and “Our issues never seem to get resolved!” are two common complaints expressed by couples. What’s really going on? For many couples the underlying dynamics are twofold.

First, most couples are often unaware that triggering events are masking unresolved issues that may reflect differences in views, beliefs, and expectations regarding money, sex, communication, religion, recreation, careers, parenting, and household chores. As an example, arguments over a clothing purchase may be unresolved conflict over how each spouse views the role of money. The wife may be a saver, who typically shops discount stores, because she favors financial security. She becomes anxious and argumentative with her status-driven husband who purchases a $100 designer tie. They have not discovered their personal drivers affecting their views of money stewardship or found a compromise position. The argument may be centered around an expensive tie purchase, but the fundamental issue is each spouse’s view around the use of money in their marriage.

Any couple can turn “walking on egg shells” into “walking on sunshine”

On a deeper level, hidden issues focus on needs such as acceptance, safety, love, respect and control.  In another example, despite his wife’s repeated request to put the toilet seat down after use, the husband continues to forget.  He does not understand why this is so important to his wife, especially since he has no issue with lifting it up.  His lack of consideration results in an emotionally charged response, “If you only cared enough, I wouldn’t have to remind you all the time to put the toilet seat down!” The event that triggers the argument is the position of the toilet seat; however, the underlying issue that may need to be discussed in how well the wife feels loved and respected by her husband.

Constructively address the underlying conflict of an argument

Second, many couples find themselves having the same arguments over and over, because they never resolve the relationship need. Some couples may understand the relationship issue acting at the heart of their arguments but lack the skills to resolve it. These couples fall into a behavior pattern where they avoid discussing the issue during times of peace, leaving it to get raised during a crisis event, where it becomes difficult to resolve. Markham, Stanley, and Blumberg (2010) found that most couples avoid being proactive in bringing up the issues when situations are calm, because they want to enjoy the good times. Hence, couples typically enter a cycle of petty, emotionally-charged arguments.

How do you start having those difficult conversations?

Some couples find themselves in an anxious pattern of avoiding conflict, which ultimately leads to “walking on eggshells.”  Markham et al. (2010) found that marriage health suffers when spouses do not feel relaxed around their partners.  How can you get back on track so you are having those important conversations, getting the issues on the table, and resolving conflict? Consider adopting these attitudes and communication strategies for your next conversation.

  • Schedule a relaxed time to talk about hidden issues in your relationship where desires, expectations, feelings, and needs can be shared, and you can feel truly known.
  • Self-reflect on what you need from your partner and marriage to feel loved and accepted. Be prepared to ask for what you want without the expectation of receiving it.
  • Be receptive and non-judgmental in hearing authentic messages from your partner. Your goal should be to learn, understand, and respect your spouse’s point of view, even if you do not agree with it.
  • Listen not only to your spouse’s words but the underlying feelings. Refrain from defending yourself and your position, but instead paraphrase back to your partner what you heard, because it affirms your spouse and confirms your understanding.
  • Own your feelings. Attacks start with “You make me mad when you leave your dirty socks on the floor, and I have to pick them up” and ownership starts with “I feel overwhelmed when I come from work and still see your dirty socks laying on the floor.”
  • Approach the conversation with the intention of glorifying the marriage and not winning your position. Husband and wife are teammates who sacrifice and support each other for the benefit of the marriage.
  • Adjust your expectations. Reflect on whether your expectations of your spouse are realistic given his/her personality, strengths, and weaknesses. What adjustments are you willing to make?  What are your negotiables and non-negotiables?
  • Do not bite off more than you can chew. Start small by setting a simple agenda for one topic you will talk through thoroughly. Take turns explaining how each of you have contributed to the problem, share your perceptions, facts, and feelings. Do not try to solve the issue until both parties have fully expressed themselves.
  • Brainstorm options on how to solve the problem. Compromise or in some instances concede to the desires of your partner. One wife I know said, “I let him win when it’s really important to him, and he lets me win when it’s important to me.” Although marriage conversations are not about creating winners and losers, her point illustrates the gracious giving that one spouse can give to the other.
  • Get specific with examples. If you share how you would feel more loved from your spouse, provide examples. Instead of saying, “I want more surprises to feel loved by you,” instead plant the seed, “I would feel more loved if you surprised me twice a year by sending me flowers at the office.”
  • Agree on specific actions. Take turns summarizing what you agreed to, and ideally, commit those actions to paper to avoid future disagreements caused by faulty memories and misinterpretations.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Adopting new communication behaviors does not come without challenges as you try to break old behaviors. Do not give up, because the health of your marriage is at stake. If needed, call a time out if you feel yourself getting too emotionally charged. A time out includes agreement on when you will reconvene, whether that be 15 minutes or 2 hours. A time out is not designed to avoid the conversation but to give space for emotions to calm, so both spouses can continue speaking and listening respectfully.

Give yourself and your spouse plenty of patience and grace

As you work through each of your hidden relationship issues, keep in mind this is a journey. The conversation may not ultimately resolve an issue, but conflict can be managed just by letting the issue be fully and respectfully aired. What’s important is for both spouses to feel truly heard and able to authentically express themselves, their worldviews and feelings within the safety of their marriage without the pressure to agree.  As two individuals, you may agree to disagree.

Embracing the right attitudes and approaches will help a husband and wife manage the inevitable conflict that every couple has without damaging the relationship.  Avoidance or emotionally charged conflict can harm the marriage, because hurtful words or avoidance can lead spouses to redirect their time and energy away from their partner toward other relationships with children, friends, extended family, careers and hobbies to get their needs met. Friendship is one of the strongest bonds for a happy marriage and pursuing that friendship is critical to a healthy marriage.

Marriage friendship is co-constructed in healthy conversation

Take your marriage to a higher level

If you and your spouse have worked through most of your conflict issues, you may now want to take your conversations to the next level by creating a marriage mission. Marriage commitment builds when a couple takes a long-term view of their relationship. A marriage mission statement can help define the purpose of your marriage and guide it by defining activities, behaviors, and goals that you live out as a couple.

Marriage mission statements can also help couples with decision-making, because decisions should align with the marriage purpose. If you decide to create a marriage mission statement, you can post it on the refrigerator as a daily reminder on why you both are in it together.


Markman, H., Stanley, S., & Blumberg, S. (2010). Fighting for your marriage. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

144-2 - CopyAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach, consultant, and mentor with an extensive background in business development, leadership, and ministry which provides her with the experience, relational skills, and proven processes to move individuals, couples, and leaders to higher levels of personal awareness, effectiveness, and goal achievement.  She coaches in a variety of areas including life purpose and plans, business, finances, and premarital/marriage.  


What Can You Expect From Your Life Coach?


When people think of coaching, they typically think of sports, where the coach provides correction, gives encouragement, and then follows up with feedback as team members practice to improve their performance. Although these types of activities may be led by acting and sports coaches, life coaching assumes you are the expert of your life, not the coach. The coach’s role is to partner with you to help you assess what’s going well in your life and what you may want to change.

Not everyone needs a counselor, but everyone can benefit from a coach

Improvements in financial well-being, relationships, work, parenting, spirituality, and marriage are areas you may consider seeking a coach. Some people come to life coaching clear on what goal they want to pursue such as changing jobs but are not sure how to best move forward. Others have a general discontent and question whether there shouldn’t be more to their lives. Many adults embark on a journey that aligns with what the world or their parents define as success, yet many years later they question whether they are living out their purpose.


The coach has tools to help any client where he or she stands on the continuum of life satisfaction. A few common issues that bring people to life coaching include:

  • My spouse and I aren’t getting along as well. We’re in a rut and need help getting back on track.
  • I’m a married wife and mother who’s getting divorced and need help transitioning to my role as a single working mom.
  • I’ve been unhappy in my job for years and need a change but not sure whether my unhappiness is with my specific job, my career, or my employer.
  • I’m stressed out and don’t have a work-life balance.
  • I’m a recent empty-nester and don’t know what to do with my life now that my children don’t need me on a daily basis.
  • I’m a freshman in college with an undecided major and need to make a decision on my degree and career direction.
  • I’ve been dating a woman for two years and getting pressured for a marriage proposal. I don’t know whether she’s the right one or even if I want to get married.
  • How can I be a better leader for my family and the people I supervise at work?

What do these situations all have in common? Each person is struggling with a difficult situation or decision. A life coach can help them navigate through the decision-making and goal-setting process which will propel them in a direction of greater empowerment and success.

Although each client’s situation is unique, a life coach may take a client through all or a portion of the following activities:

  • Assess on a scale of 1-10 your satisfaction across several life dimensions
  • Discuss past and current background content related to possible focus areas
  • Define a vision for your life and specific areas of growth
  • Identify future goals that will move towards that vision
  • Brainstorm ways to achieve goals
  • Narrow solutions
  • Develop SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Aspirational and Agreed, Realistic/Relevant and Time-bound)
  • Monitor and overcome obstacles in achieving goals
  • Provide accountability
  • Celebrate successes


You may believe you can take yourself through these steps, but the reality is that in this fast-paced life, we rarely carve out the time and space from daily distractions to invest in this type of personal work. Additionally, we view our issues through our personal lens and can easily get stuck, not seeing all possibilities.

Everyone can benefit from a life coach who can provide the needed structure, space, and time as well as challenge preconceived assumptions and help the client around roadblocks. As Dunbar (2010) states a coach can make a difference in a person’s thinking, beliefs, decisions, actions and ultimately their whole life.


Dunbar, A. (2010). Essential Life Coaching Skills. New York, NY: Routledge.

144-2 - CopyAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach, consultant, and mentor with an extensive background in business development, leadership, and ministry which provides her with the experience, relational skills, and proven processes to move individuals, couples, and leaders to higher levels of personal awareness, effectiveness, and goal achievement. She coaches in a variety of areas including life purpose/plans, leadership, business, finances, and premarital/marriage.

What is Coaching? Answer: Getting Results!

ashley-batz-betmVWGYcLY-unsplashYou’ve probably heard of coaching for actors (1940’s), sports athletes (1960’s), and business executives (1990’s), but your understanding of life coaching may be more ambiguous. Despite life coaching being a practiced discipline since the 1800’s, the profession remains relatively misunderstood with people even associating coaching with counseling. With those assumptions, people conclude they don’t need a life coach.

Not everyone needs a counselor, but everyone can benefit from a coach.

Throw the mentoring in the mix, and the differentiation gets muddier. Although coaching, counseling, and mentoring all serve to help people, each has a different function, process, and relationship.

Coaching: Not Counseling or Mentoring

Professional coaching, mentoring, and counseling share a similar purpose in helping people through life seasons and transitions. How to achieve a better work-life balance? Struggling in a marriage? About to get married? Trying to figure out which career path to take? How to land the next promotion? The situational factors will determine what professional and which approach best serves the client.

In general, coaches use relational influence to develop and empower people, mentors impart their wisdom upon less experienced individuals, and counselors diagnose their clients’ problems and offer solutions. Coaching differs from mentoring and counseling on many levels, including the participant’s role.

Although coaches are change experts, they believe their clients are the experts of their lives. Coaches typically work with mindset and help clients take responsibility to act in ways that maximize outcomes. Coaches and clients are equal partners, who co-construct the coaching relationship through vulnerable and empowering conversation.

Coaches can administer assessments, sometimes suggest, and lead with challenging and powerful questions, so clients can then decide on specific plans to achieve their defined goals. On the other hand, mentors and counselors are the experts in the relationship, who offer advice and make suggestions. Stoltzfus (2005) found that when people solve their own problems versus being told what to do, they learn more and are more motivated to address problems and implement their identified solutions.

Coaching also differs from counseling in that it is future-oriented as opposed to focusing on the past. Mentoring may alternate between both realms. Collins (2009) defines coaching as enabling people to move from where they stand to a position of where they want to be. Coaching and mentoring are grounded in the present with the desire to help others grow personally, develop skills, or acquire knowledge, as opposed to counseling, which typically involves exploring past hurts to achieve healing.

Coaching and mentoring differ in their approach, although over the years the practical application of mentoring has expanded, so it appears more like coaching. Mentors are typically subject-matter experts in their fields who provide information, support, correction, and accountability to develop their mentorees.

Christian Life Coaching

Those who may understand the value of life coaching may not necessarily understand the difference when the label of Christian is applied. Christian life coaching differs from its secular counterpart with the operating foundation of a Christ-based worldview that encourages clients to find God’s vision and purpose for their lives. The Christian Life Coach helps to guide the client from where they stand to where God wants them to be, and secular coaching supports client in pursuing their own human-based goals (Collin, 2009).

Many Christian life coaches successfully coach secular-based clients, because one of the many ethical standards held by coaches is not to impose their own beliefs onto their clients. Coaching is not about the coach but helping clients achieve want they want for their lives.

Coaching Benefits

Coaching sessions have an agenda, defined goals, and accountability, which is not inherently part of the counseling or mentoring process. Coaching provides a supportive relationship and structure that allows the client to take responsibility and be held accountable to make life changes.

Through assessments and skilled questions, a coach unlocks the confidence and commitment in their clients to define goals and achieve results. A coach will partner with you, encourage you, help you see what motivates you, believe in you to make change and challenge your thinking.

Coaches typically provide written action plans and follow-up with their clients between sessions. Coaching can be done over the phone, video conferencing, and face-to-face. Coaching is for anyone who strives to be a better version of themselves in any area of life, and successful coaching is measured solely by the client achieving results.


Collins, G. R. (2009). Christian Coaching: Helping Others Turn Potential into Reality. (2nd ed.). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.

Stoltzfus, T. (2005). Leadership Coaching: The Disciplines, Skills and Heart of a Christian Coach. Virginia Beach, VA: Booksurge Publishing.

144-2 - CopyAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in business development, leadership, and ministry which provide her with the experience, relational skills, and proven processes to move individuals, couples, and leaders to higher levels of personal awareness, effectiveness, and goal achievement. She coaches in a variety of areas including life purpose/plans, business, leadership, finances, and premarital/marriage.