May 5, 2020
Even on normal years Mother’s Day can be a complicated holiday, ripe with expectations and multiple obligations to balance. In this episode we get curious about our own expectations going into this holiday and we get clearer about what this unique Mother’s Day could look like for all of us. *Discussion Questions: * What have you learned about yourself and your expectations over the years of celebrating Mother’s Day? Or if this is your first Mother’s Day, have you been honest with yourself about your expectations for Mother’s Day? What do you find yourself hoping for in a celebration this year? What is one way that you can ensure you have a honoring celebration, keeping in mind what you can control, and what you cannot? Write a prayer to God about what mothering in this season of life is like. What are you grateful for? What do you need help with? Resources:
April 7, 2020
As we continue to stay home because of Covid-19, some of us are shifting from a sprint mindset to one of a marathon. You are not alone as you navigate this unprecedented time of changes in how work and parenting look, of experiencing loss, and of shifting to relationships over screens. Our hope is that we can share a conversation that makes us each feel seen and where we can gain access to some tools to help us navigate this uncharted territory. Discussion Questions We started this conversation by sharing one thing we are grieving and one thing we are thankful for. Take a moment to do the same. One grief and one gratitude. What do you think the benefit is of naming these during this season? What is one activity that you still have access to that really brings you joy? How can you make room for this activity to be part of your new routine? What obstacles do you need to work through to make this happen? Who could you help this week? A friend who needs encouraging? A grandma who needs help with technology? Find time on your calendar to plan this out and make it happen. What ways can you take care of your body that feel the most like you? Is it taking a walk? Trying holy yoga? Following an online workout with a friend? Or being more mindful of nutrition as you choose your food? Remember, your body and your emotions are deeply connected. What role has prayer played for you in this season? What do you need to share with God right now? Have you told him how you’re feeling? Have you asked him for what you need? Spend some time today doing just that. Resources: For Spiritual Practices that Benny mentioned visit - For further learning on emotional health in this season Brene Brown Podcast For considering self care as you care for others Season 2 (episodes 7-10) of the Relate Podcast, The Me in We
March 31, 2020
We know there is so much talk out there right now about our current Stay-at-Home reality. It’s on the news, on our social media feeds, and as we talk with friends around the country it is our topic of conversation. It is not our desire to add to the volume of this reality, but rather to share our experiences of it and help us all feel a bit less alone and to discover ways to pay attention to our relational and emotional health in this season. Discussion Questions: Have you been feeling pressure to perform or achieve while you have been staying at home? How has your energy level been? When you don’t get to your desired to do list, what does your self talk sound like? What have been some things that you personally have lost in this season? List them out. What does looking at this list tell you? How do you do at welcoming all your feelings, even grief, disappointment and frustration? How have you been staying connected to those you love that aren’t in your home? How about the ones that are? What is one step you can take today to connect with someone that will help you feel more like you? *Resources: * Naming Loss and Gratitude with Young People in these Uncertain Times That Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief Helping Kids Handle Their Emotions How to Create Meaningful Connections While Apart (A Ted Talk)
February 4, 2020
As we wrap up season 4, we take a look at one of the best ways to ensure success when seeking to make change. We discuss benefits and strategies to inviting trusted, safe people into your process. We also paint a clear picture of what a group functioning at this level looks like. Discussion Questions: In your current reality is it easy or hard for you to invite others into your desire for change? What is making it that way for you? Why have you chosen your area of growth? What led you to want to make this change? And what is one fear you might have as you enter into it? What does a safe group look like to you? Is there anything that we didn’t touch on in our conversation that is especially important to you? What is one step you will take to invite someone safe into your growth? Who will you invite and what is it about them that makes them the right person or group? Resources Recover Ministry: New Year, New You? Daily Devotional Sign up here Megan Marshman's Message on Hiding
January 28, 2020
When you look back at your old self, how do you feel? Is there something that “old self” wants to tell us about who we are today? As we look to our story and current experiences for motivation to make lasting change, we must get curious about the role of pain in our lives. On this episode we discuss pains’ role in getting us to a place where we want to make positive changes. Is pain a good motivator or a bad one? Could we find God in our pain? Discussion Questions What was your initial response to the Emily McDowell’s Toast to the Old You? When you look back at the old you, do you feel more like celebrating that person or more like correcting him or her? Why? Do you feel that inviting people into your growth and change would help you be more successful in making the change last? Why do you feel that way? What steps can you take this week to invite people into your process? Think about a time in your life when pain motivated you to act in a new and different way. Is there a place in your life right now where the pain feels scarier than making a change? Or vice versa, is there a place in your life when making a change is more painful than staying the same? Would you be open to inviting others into your process to gain insight and support? Resources Recover Ministry: New Year, New You? Daily Devotional Sign up here:
January 21, 2020
We have considered what is behind our desire to change, and if we are in a season where goals are indeed the next right thing for us. If you find yourself in a place where you are ready for growth, this episode will help you discover ways to pursue healthy and lasting change. We discuss helpful frameworks for change as well as common distractors that get in our way of achieving growth. *Discussion Questions: * In this moment, are you feeling energy around making some steps toward growth or a new goal? Or is there something else you need more in this season? If you are ready for some new growth, do you have an area in mind? Was there something in the list of possible growth themes that I read that resonated with you? Perhaps self talk? Saying yes, or no more? Spending time looking back in your story to heal and learn? How can you, this week, make room in your life, your schedule, your heart, for this new growth? Consider what relationship might be present within a change you would like to make. What is one way you can grieve that relationship’s end in order to prepare for growth? *Resources: * More on Neuroplasicity: Richard J. Davidson Ted Talk New Year, New You? Daily Devotional Sign up here:
January 14, 2020
In this episode we take a look at why often New Year’s Resolutions don’t work. We discuss some common pitfalls to avoid as we approach our desire for improvement in the New Year. We also look at where our specific desire to change comes from. We help you discover ways to find helpful, healthy goals and say no to ones that are rooted in old messages or shame. Join us as we continue to get curious about our New Year’s Resolutions. Discussion Questions: Is there a resolution or change you keep coming back to over and over without much success? What is behind your continued attempt to make this change in your life? Why do you have the desire to change in this area? When you consider a making a change what feelings are you aware of coming up for you? Is it fear? Excitement? Shame? Hope? What might those feelings be telling you about yourself? Leaving behind any pressures from making changes our culture or other people want you to make, and instead looking at what God says is true about you, is there a growth area you feel led to in this season? What is it? Resources: New Year, New You? Daily Devotional Sign up here: Mindset by Carol Dweck
January 7, 2020
In this first episode of our 4th season we consider what everyone is mulling over this time of year: New Year’s Resolutions. We discuss why we have a tendency to want to make sweeping changes as the calendar turns to a new year. Is this the best time to make a change? Is making resolutions the next right thing for us in this season, or is there something else that we need more? Join us as we take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly of New Year’s Resolutions. *Discussion Questions: * Have you typically been a New Years Resolution type person? Why or why not? When you consider that you are enough just as you are, how do you feel? Is that easy or hard for you to believe right now? Following the holidays, what is it that your body really needs right now? Your soul? Your relationship with God? What is one way you can meet that need this next week? Resources: New Year, New You? Daily Devotional Sign up here:
December 17, 2019
This BONUS episode of The Relate Podcast brings back all of the guest content providers from seasons 1,2 &3 --September Vaudrey, Katie Franzen and Deb Shurtz. It’s a fun and celebratory look at the holidays and how each guest relates to themselves, God, and others over the Christmas season. They share stories about honoring themselves in the busyness of the season, how to celebrate and create memories with others, and how to truly engage with Immanuel, God with Us, keeping in mind our real purpose for celebration. Discussion questions: How are you checking in this holiday season? Are you feeling frantic? Peaceful? Connected? Or perhaps a bit lonely? What is one step you could take to honor yourself in the next week? What is one Christmas plan or preparation that allows you to feel connected to those you care about? What is it about this event that is special to you? Have you experienced a loss this year that will make the holidays a little tender or sorrowful? What is one way you can honor that loss or t hat loved one, while still embracing the joyful parts of the season? With the business of the season what practice, plan or people help you to reflect and celebrate that God came down and dwelt among us? Thanks for joining us on this bonus holiday episode of the Relate Podcast. We hope you had as much fun as we did. We wish you a very Merry Christmas filled with great connection with others, yourself and with God. Resources: The Advent Book, Jack and Kathy Stockman Luke 1&2 Colors of Goodbye, September Vaudrey
November 26, 2019
In this special live recording we take a lighthearted look back at the holidays as well as anticipate some potential pot holes in the road ahead when it comes to conversation at the holidays. We are joined by guest Albert Tate in this recording from our live event. Discussion Questions: What is a favorite tradition, food or celebration that first comes to mind when you think of the holiday season? What feelings come up for you as the holidays approach this year? What is it that you really want from this holiday season? Anticipate a potentially difficult conversation that could arise at a holiday gathering? What is something that was shared on the podcast that can help you approach this conversation, should it arise? When approaching awkward or difficult conversations with family, how does your faith influence how you respond? Resources: Leadership and Self Deception by the Arbinger Institute Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson & Joseph Grenny Renovate Your Relationships by Scott Vaudrey
November 12, 2019
In this episode we move from things for us to consider get clear about our own disappointment to talking through some tools that will help us have actually have a helpful conversation about our disappointment. We also take a look at ways we can respond if a friend comes to us with their disappointment. Lastly, we consider what to do when we are disappointed with God. Discussion Questions How do you feel when you consider sharing your disappointment with your friend? What do you notice in your body? Does your jaw clench or your shoulders tighten? Why do you suppose you feel this way? Which guardrail is harder for you to muster up: kindness or courage? Is it more in your nature to have be too timid or come on too strong? Have you ever had a friend share about their disappointment with you? What might their unmet need have been? How did your relationship change as a result of the conversation? What feelings come up for you when you consider sharing your disappointment with God? This week’s challenge: Join us for the Live recording in South Barrington on Nov 15, at 7pm. We will be having a fun, interactive conversation that we hope you won’t miss! We will be in the Atrium at Willow Creek Church at 67 E Algonquin Rd, South Barrington, IL Walk ins are always welcome but if you know you’re coming please let us know by registering at Register yourself and some fun friends! Resources: Leadership and Self Deception by the Arbinger Institute Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson & Joseph Grenny Renovate Your Relationships by Scott Vaudrey
November 5, 2019
During this episode we consider two important questions that will help us get clear about what is behind our disappointment. If we take time to discover the answers to these two questions, it will help us have the conversation that will ultimately help us close the gap on what we expected and what we are experiencing. Discussion Questions: Think about a time that you were experiencing disappointment in a friendship. As you reflect on your disappoint, what was the unmet need underneath the disappoint? Can you look at the situation from their perspective? What was your friend’s unmet need? In that same scenario if you were to accuse and excuse what might that look like? How did you make yourself look better than you really are in your story? How did you make them look worse than they really are? How does identifying these inaccurate or incomplete stories help you close the gap on your disappointment? Challenge: Each time you experience some disappointment start to name, just for yourself, what the unmet need is behind that disappointment. Get some practice in on getting to the need that will ultimately help you lessen the gap between what you expected and what is really going on. Identify those unmet needs. Invitation: We hope to see you at the RELATE Podcast Live Recording Event! Join us on Friday, November 15, 2019 at 7pm. We will be having a fun, interactive conversation that we hope you won’t miss! We will be in the Atrium at Willow Creek Church at 67 E Algonquin Rd, South Barrington, IL Walk ins are always welcome but if you know you’re coming please let us know by registering at []( Register yourself and some fun friends! Resources: Leadership and Self Deception by the Arbinger Institute Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson & Joseph Grenny Renovate Your Relationships by Scott Vaudrey
October 29, 2019
In this first episode of our 3rd season we take a look at how we respond when we experience disappointment in our friendships. As we begin to take note and name our disappointment we consider ways to rightsize the gap between what we expected and what we are experiencing. Discussion questions: On a scale from 1-10 Is it hard for you to recognize or acknowledge disappointment in your friendships? Do you tend to be someone who minimizes and rationalizes the disappointment you are experiencing or do you tend to exaggerate the cost of addressing it? What influences or experiences have you had that may have helped shape this reaction? When you consider addressing your disappointment with your friend, what prevents you from having that conversation? Do you believe that it actually can build trust? Challenge: This week pay attention to your friendships and take note when you experience disappointment. Keep a journal and jot down your thoughts about what you expected and why you might be experiencing disappointment. See if you learn anything about yourself as you pay attention. As a relational person I love hosting the podcast, but it makes it even sweeter when I get to hear how you are engaging with us. I would love to hear from you either via email or on our social media sites. Email us at to share your story! Are you ready for our announcement! We would like to take it one step past emailing and posting online to continue the conversation! We want to meet you! So, you are cordially invited to attend a LIVE recording of the Relate Podcast at Willow Creek Church in South Barrington. The 4th and final episode of this season will be recorded as part of a fun friday night event. Mark your calendars now for Friday, November 15 at 7pm!. Grab a friend and come join the conversation live! Resources: Leadership and Self Deception by the Arbinger Institute Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson & Joseph Grenny Renovate Your Relationships by Scott Vaudrey
October 11, 2019
In this final episode of season 2, we consider our current relational capacity and take time to thoughtfully compare it to our ongoing relational commitments. We discuss why it feels awkward to prioritize some friendships over others and we get specific about how that can help us spend our relational coins well. We are challenged to take a look at 3 categories of friendships and consider which of the 3 might need some of our attention. Discussion Questions: Are you someone who tends to have high numbers of relationships you are maintaining, or lower numbers, with just a select few? When you consider the categories of mentoring, mutual and being mentored, which category is lacking for you? What is one step you can take to seek out a new relationship in this category? How “rich” are you in /relational coins? Do you need to make some changes in how you spend your coins? What would that look like? *Challenge: * Take time this week to take inventory of your relationships and honor yourself by comparing it with your relational capacity. What is one change that you are being invited to make as you learn to honor yourself in your relationships? Email us at and share with us in our Relate communities on social media. We want to hear your stories, too, and might even share your story on a future Relate Podcast. We have some exciting announcements for you about what is coming up in the Relate Podcast world. We’ve been busy planning season 3 and hope you will join us in just two short weeks. We know that all healthy relationships have conflict and so we will take a look at how to approach helpful conversations between friends. Make sure you are subscribed to the Podcast so you don’t miss it. And, we are thrilled to tell you about some future podcast news! You are invited to join us for a LIVE recording of the Relate Podcast. Season 3 will end with a fun, interactive event on Friday, November 15. We will share more information about the LIVE Podcast event in season 3. We would love to meet you and see you there. Mark it in your calendars now. Until then, don’t let the conversation end here. Share your stories and insights with us on Instagram and Facebook as we build better relationships.
October 8, 2019
In this episode we are continuing to discover what it means to honor ourselves in the relationship equation by taking a look at the expectations with which people approach relationships. We explore ways to be with our friends in their realities without making their reality our own. Discussion Questions When you consider how you relate to friends who are in pain, what are some misconceptions you’ve held in the past regarding what it means to be a good friend? When you hear that you can be okay even if your friend is not okay, what comes up for you? Is that easy for you to believe, or hard? Do you have a friendship where you feel your expectations and theirs are not aligned? Keeping in mind honoring yourself, how do you plan to approach this relationship moving forward? Challenge: This week when engaging with a friend who is upset, practice empathy by reflecting their feelings without necessarily agreeing with them. Email us at and share with us on social media. We want to hear your stories, too, and might even share your story on a future Relate Podcast. Resources and Next Steps: Codependent No More, Melody Beattie The Language of Letting Go, Melody Beattie The Search for Significance, Robert McGee In the Chicagoland area and interested in joining a group? We would love to help you find connection! Check out
October 1, 2019
Join us as we take a look at some commonly held misconceptions about how sometimes the best people put their needs last in relationships. We discover potential ways those misconceptions may be shaping the way we currently approach relational priorities. We get some tips on how to balance being a great friend while making room in the relationship for our friends to care for us. Discussion questions: We all receive some confusing messages about the importance of SELF in relationships. What is a misconception or confusing message you have believed? If you’ve listened to Season 1, what inputs led to those messages/beliefs? Where do you fall on the Giving/Guarded spectrum these days? What has led you to approach friendships in such a way? What is one step you could take in the next week to move a bit on that spectrum? Perhaps it is avoiding coming to your interactions in an emotionally depleted state? Or making room in the friendship for you to also receive the care of others? Is there a relationship where you may have started to notice some yellow flags of resentment? What do those early signs of resentment tell you about the way you are approaching that relationship Challenge: Put down the phone and let others come to you. Take note of how much energy you spend caring for others vs caring for yourself. Email us at and share with us on social media. We want to hear your stories, too, and might even share your story on a future Relate Podcast. *Resources and Next Steps: * In the Chicagoland area and interested in joining a group? We would love to help you find connection! Check out Resources to help you dismantle shame:
September 24, 2019
As we begin Season 2 of The Relate Podcast we pause to consider the current state of our friendships. What is the status of your relationships now that you also balance all the complexities of adult life? Some of us might find ourselves in a place where we have too many relationships to maintain, or perhaps you are in a season where you would like to find more friendships, but don’t quite know how. In this conversation we help you consider some steps you can take to rightsize your relational world and honor yourself in your friendships. Discussion Questions: When you take notice of the status of your friendships, are you in a season where you have enough, too many, or would like to add more? How did you get here? How open to new friendships would people who see you in your everyday life say say that you are? What might their experience be of how ready you seem? Do your actions invite the new? When you consider the challenge to be intentional about seeking out new in order to start new friendships, what is one step you could take? -go somewhere different? -try a new hobby? -ask people you already know to make a connection? -slow down and connect? Have you ever been in a friendship with someone really different from yourself? What was something that you learned from being in that relationship? If you haven’t, have you considered if a sense of terminal uniqueness might be limiting your decision making. Challenge: Place yourself somewhere new in order to open yourself up to the possibility of new relationships. Email us at and share with us on social media. We want to hear your stories, too, and might even share your story on a future Relate Podcast. Resources and Next Steps In the Chicagoland area and interested in joining a group? We would love to help you find connection! Check out
June 11, 2019
Today we conclude this Origins series with a look at how our past affects more than how we view ourselves and how we relate to others; it also colors our experience with God. Discussion Questions When you think of different attributes of God, which one(s) resonate most with you? Are they positive or negative? We talked about four places we can get curious, to identify where our lenses of God might be distorted: What did it take to gain approval in your family? What characteristics of God most resonate with you—and which ones do you resist? How do you view your father (or primary parent)? And how did you best receive healthy love as a child? Of these four places to get curious, which would be most helpful for you in this season? What faulty assumptions might you be making about God—or your relationship with God? What’s one mantra you can claim to replace that faulty assumption? What is one practice you can engage in this week to help you view God through undistorted lenses?
June 4, 2019
Today’s topic gets personal: We’re talking about why we need other people to speak into our stories. What value to they bring? What kind of people are we looking for—and how do we know when we find them? ** Discussion Questions** We talked about three things that outside people offer us as we explore our stories: Gift of presence, Outside perspective, and Validation of your experience. Which of these three do you most need? What input would be most helpful for you in this season: People who knew you then? Or people who know you now? Who are the wise people—with your best interest in mind—that you can ask to help you “see your own face”? From StratOp’s Four Helpful Lists (Right, Wrong, Missing, Confused), which category do you tend to resist? Which category excites you the most? Why?
May 29, 2019
Today’s topic is fascinating: We’re talking about the challenging parts of our stories—how each of us, even from the best of families, picked up a few painful or wounding “inputs” along the way. And how we can look inward, outward, and upward to spot those negative inputs that can show up in our relationships. Discussion Questions How do you respond to the invitation to be kind to yourself in your story? Is that difficult or unnatural for you? Or is it easy? Why? What roles or patterns come to mind that you picked up as a child that you need to shed in adulthood because they no longer serve you? How do your negative beliefs about yourself show up in your relationships? What message or mantra can you replace them with that will rewrite a better plot for you?
May 20, 2019
Today’s topic is a fun one: We’re talking about the positive parts of our stories—those experiences, memories, or words that developed some of our greatest strengths, and how those beautiful parts of us help our relationships. Discussion Questions What positive threads can you trace back to earlier generations in your family? What positive traits do others affirm in you? How do your most beautiful traits and your positive beliefs about yourself show up in your relationships? Is it easy or hard for you to view your value as a loved and valued child of God? Why?
May 13, 2019
Today we are looking at how to notice when our past shows up in our present relationships. What are the warning signs? What do we look for? Discussion Questions How do you react when triggered? Are you an over-reactor or under-reactor? How might this connect to your story? What patterns do you see in how you handle conflict, the type of people you are drawn to, and how your relationships end? What unmet need(s) from your upbringing are you carrying into your relationships today? How might you get them met in healthy ways? How do you feel when you hear the invitation, “Be kind and courageous”?
April 30, 2019
Host Casey Sundstedt welcomes author and content developer, September Vaudrey, and creative, Tyler Hoff, as we explore how the families that raised us helped shape who we are today—and how both the beautiful and broken parts of our stories show up in our relationships. Learn to identify when your past is present—so you can: Lean into your greatest strengths Break free from unhelpful, outdated relational patterns Bring your best self to every relationship. Episode 01 | Four Common Responses to Avoid When It Comes to Exploring Our Stories Discussion Questions | Connect with a friend or group to talk about the concepts covered today. When it comes to unpacking your family of origin story, do you identify with any of the responses discussed in today’s podcast? If so, which ones? Who are the main characters in your family of origin? Have they been mostly easy or mostly challenging? What hesitancies or fears do you feel when it comes to exploring your family of origin—by yourself or with others?
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