10 Great Fall Dates

October 16, 2015 Comments Off on 10 Great Fall Dates
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This time of year offers unique date opportunities to enjoy God’s creation, too. Take some time to enjoy His artistic ability with your spouse. Here are 10 Fall Date Ideas for you.

1) Take a drive. Fill a thermos of your favorite hot fall drink, or perhaps some soup, and hit the road. Your destination could be a town or area you’ve yet to explore or just some time to leaf-peep.
2) Find a football game. Grab a blanket and head to a football game. An activity like this gives you some comfortable shoulder-to-shoulder time, like when you are at a movie, but allows you time to chat whenever you’d like. Plus, attending a football game this time of year gives you a great excuse to cuddle up to the one you love. Touchdown! Here’s the ONU Tigers football schedule if you need some definite dates.
3) Watch the change of seasons. Set aside time for the next three weekends to take a walk or bike ride in the same area and watch the foliage change.
4) Enjoy fall fruits. Visit a local apple orchard or pumpkin patch. Many farms have lots of fun activities besides picking out your peck or pumpkin. If you don’t have time to travel out of town, the Kankakee Farmers Market runs until the end of October.
5) Do a photoshoot. This is a perfect time of the year to get colorful pictures of you and your spouse. Make it a date by capturing your memories at one of our local parks. This could also be a good opportunity to take care of your Christmas card photo.
6) Get active with outdoor recreation. Our county’s Convention & Visitors Bureau has a great list of fall outdoor activities available in our area, including horseback riding, fishing and boat cruises.
7) Make and eat fall treats. Spend some time researching online or in a cookbook for some favorite fall recipes that you can make together. Two cooks in the kitchen are not too many when you have several apples to slice and dice!
8) Decorate pumpkins. After your date to the pumpkin patch, set aside an afternoon or evening for decorating. Carve out the slimy innards to create a jack-o-lantern, and then roast the seeds for a snack. Or use paint, glue and/or glitter to jazz up your chosen pumpkin.
9) Find fun at a farm. Some local farms offer a corn maze or hay rides. You’re never too old for this seasonal fun, and it might even be quite romantic without the kiddos crawling all over you!
10) Rake leaves. Do you know you can burn over 250 calories by raking leaves for an hour? Make it a date by volunteering to help a homebound person clean up his/her yard.

Eblast Test Post

October 7, 2015 Comments Off on Eblast Test Post
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Subject: Have not love?

If you’ve been reading some of the various news sources lately, you’ve probably noticed there is speculation that another royal couple may be heading for divorce: Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton. And after only four years of marriage and two lovely children.

I pray it isn’t true. We should all pray for them, that they would persevere through these early years as a young married couple and young parents. Can any of us look back on that stage of life and say it was “a piece of cake”? Hardly.

The main difference between couples who make it and those who don’t isn’t a mystery. The difference is in how we handled it when we, too, woke up one morning and felt like we had not love.

Don’t feel loving? No problem! You can still act loving. Love is a verb, more than it is a feeling. And when you do it enough, soon the feeling starts to follow.

Not sure how to act loving? Here are several ideas from a familiar and practical passage in Scripture, 1 Corinthians 13, to get you started:
• Love is patient.
• Love is kind.
• Love does not envy.
• Love does not boast.
• Love is not proud.
• Love is not rude.
• Love is not self-seeking.
• Love is not easily angered.
• Love keeps no record of wrongs.
• Love does not delight in evil.
• Love rejoices with the truth.
• Love always protects.
• Love always trusts.
• Love always hopes.
• Love always perseveres.

Practice these 15 acts for 15 days. We promise you’ll feel love again.

For healthier marriages,

Kent and Beth Olney, Executive directors
Marriage, Inc.

How Strong is Your Family?

January 26, 2015 Comments Off on How Strong is Your Family?
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How Strong is Your Family?

“In a world of turmoil and uncertainty, it is more important than ever to make our families the center of our lives and the top of our priorities.” This statement by church leader Tom Perry resonates deeply for me. My thought is that you can deal with a lot if your family and marriage is strong, but when that foundation feels shaky, all of life becomes tumultuous.

I have a vision to strengthen marriages and families! I love this picture expressed by David R. Mace : “Nothing in the world can make human life happier than to greatly increase the number of strong families.” With that in mind, I offer this tool to assess the strength of your family life so you can experience increased joy, peace, and strength.

Caveat: We all have areas that need growth. Don’t allow any defeat to knock you down as you work through this. The purpose is to identify next steps to build the family you desire!

Respond to each of the following statements with a 1-5 rating, 1 being “strongly disagree” and 5 being “strongly agree”.

____ We have a written family vision that includes our mission, dreams/goals, and specific action steps to achieve those dreams/goals.

____ We are totally committed to our marriage/family. We’ve closed the “back door.” We’re in it for keeps.

____ We don’t have any fear of discipline for our kids. We are comfortable with our discipline strategies and consistently work together as a team.

____ The progress that we are making as a family is about what it should be for the effort we are putting in.

____ We have consistent, positive connections with each of our children.

____ We have a strong relational support network for helping build the family we desire.

____ Our children are an active part in creating our family vision.

____ We are confident that our family will accomplish our mission. We have no significant doubts or reservations.

____ Our family members can concisely articulate what we want for our family.

____ As parents, we know how to let our children fail in appropriate ways and learn from these experiences.

____ The purpose we have as parents is clear and we make our daily decisions according to this picture.

____ The stress of running our family has not seriously dampened the joy of our family life.

____ We have plentiful resources to help us accomplish our goals/mission as a family.

____ As parents, we regularly prioritize our marriage in order to keep the foundational relationship of our home strong.

____ As parents, we regularly prioritize “refueling” ourselves as individuals so that we can be joy-filled contributors to our family.

____ As parents, we model the behaviors and values that we desire for our kids to live out.

____ Our home is well-organized. We have systems and structures in place for our family operations.

____ Our finances are in order. We have an emergency fund and have developed a monthly spending plan that we agree on as a couple.

____ Our children participate fully in the work of our family. They understand that we are a “team” and fin order to be a successful family, each team member is a valuable contributor.

____ TOTAL

75-95 Rock-n-Roll! You have strong clarity on the family life you want and have aligned your daily choices with those desires!

55-74 You are building a solid foundation for your family. Celebrate your strengths and identify your next action step(s).

37-54 You may have a few areas that are stronger than others. Of the areas that scored low, which are most important to you? What support do you need to move forward?

1-36 If a strong family life is important to you, some significant adjustments need to be made.

There are few things that are more worthwhile in which to invest energy in this New Year as your home! A few action steps to consider:

• Read a great book, either individually or as a couple. Patrick Lencioni’s The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family is the resource on my nightstand right now.
• Plan to attend Marriage Inc., Date Night event.
• Many qualified coaches and counselors are available through the Marriage Inc. office. Call 815-939-5358 for a recommendation.


Family Coach Michelle Klavohn holds over 20 years in the field of Human Development. With a Master’s degree in Communication and 10 years as a Communication Educator, she equips families to close the gap between the family they dream of and the family they experience each day. She passionately pursues her vision to partner with families who want to thrive!

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Why Support Marriage, Inc.?

November 20, 2014 Comments Off on Why Support Marriage, Inc.?
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Click here for a preview of the new Marriage, Inc. brochure, reminding you that healthy marriages = healthy communities.

How to Get Exactly What You Want from Your Marriage

October 29, 2014 Comments Off on How to Get Exactly What You Want from Your Marriage
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Photo taken 17 May 2003 and uploaded by photographer (Casito).
by Michelle Klavohn

What is Your Marriage Bull’s-Eye?

If you were to fast forward your marriage a year down the road, what would you hope to see? How about 3 years? 10 years? And what will create that picture?

More than what the economy does, more than what grades your kids get, more than what job you or your spouse may hold, having clarity on what you really want for your marriage holds powerful influence on your outcome. Author Joseph Murphy declares, “We go where our vision is.”


But exactly how does a couple come up with that picture? In my coaching work I find that people often have much clearer vision for the future than what they realize. I could ask someone “what is your vision for your marriage?” and I would get the response “Gosh, I don’t know.” Maybe some vague generalities… happiness… health… income…??” Blank stares fill the space.

But when we explore additional questions, there are often very vivid pictures buried down inside. Beautiful pictures. Full of life. Captivating. Oozing with energy and motivation.

It’s the process of getting to those pictures that’s where the gold is found. Here are some simple action steps to get you started:

Create space.
The reality is that many people are foggy about what they desire for their relationship because they live with so little margin that there is no room to consider it. Start small if you need to. Mark an hour on your calendar right now to find a quiet, beautiful spot and open your mind to the dreams that you want for your home. Maybe make a coffee date with your partner to reconnect with some of the hopes and dreams that you share. What on your agenda is more important than that?

Get clear on several important questions.
What do we want people to say about us as a couple?
What are 6-8 times you know your marriage was in your “flow” of who you want to be?
What was happening then?
What made it meaningful?
What legacy would you like your marriage to have?

Some bite-size steps like these could be just enough to get you going on a piece of life that holds great reward. There are certainly many questions and resources to use to go deeper, but choosing to start is very empowering.

After all, it’s hard to hit the bull’s-eye if you don’t have a target.

Mike and Janet LaReau: Making Marriage Work

October 22, 2014 Comments Off on Mike and Janet LaReau: Making Marriage Work
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Couple Clasping Hands - National Cancer Institute

“I asked Janet for a date, and we’re still dating,” says Mike LaReau about the beginning of what became more than 50 years the couple has shared as husband and wife.

“On our first date, we went to see the movie ‘April Love,’” Janet adds. “I was a junior in high school, and he was a freshman in college. We dated four years before we got married.”

On September 5, 1964, with 200 guests witnessing their vows, the couple married at St. Patrick’s Church in Kankakee. “We started out in a one-bedroom, furnished apartment and worked toward our goals,” Janet says. “When you work together, you grow closer.”

One of their greatest joys as a couple is the blessing of their families of origin. Their parents were in a card club together, and Mike’s sister was one of Janet’s friends. “We’re blessed with good families on both sides,” Janet says. “My parents loved and accepted Mike, and his family loved and accepted me. We enjoyed getting together on holidays. They always got along with one another.”

Those models of love and support taught Mike and Janet the importance of commitment in a marriage.

“Marriage won’t last without a commitment,” Mike says. “You can’t give up on the other person because you don’t agree with him or her.”

“Divorce was never an option for us,” adds Janet. “You work out your relationship how it works for you. Don’t think you’re going to change your spouse. Don’t give up on your spouse or your marriage. Make your marriage important.”

Mike and Janet LaReau: Standing Firm on Common Ground

October 15, 2014 Comments Off on Mike and Janet LaReau: Standing Firm on Common Ground
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Stan Shebs [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

“Janet is a realist, and I’m a dreamer,” says Mike LaReau about their 50-year marriage. “She’s supportive, steady as a rock.”

“I like being married to Mike,” Janet adds. “We have a lot of fun together. We have a lot of similar interests and common ground.”

Since their wedding in 1964, this couple has pursued an active life together, dedicated to serving young people. With degrees in sociology and social work, Mike has worked with troubled and neglected children in a variety of settings. Janet taught special education for 26 years in the Bradley, Illinois school system.

“We like working with kids in special populations,” Janet says. “Especially those with drug and abuse problems.”

“You can learn a lot from a kid just by talking with him or her,” Mike adds. “It’s very rewarding work.”

During their professional careers, they often worked together – Janet as the classroom teacher and Mike as the school’s social worker. Being supportive and understanding of the challenges and demands the other was facing strengthened the foundation of their marriage.

Making their home a welcoming place has always been important for Mike and Janet. Welcoming their children’s friends is a top priority. And they make it a point to get to know the kids and their families. “We’ve built eight homecoming floats at our house,” Mike recalls. “Darcy’s friends were always here eating. Our son’s friends are usually busy on their smartphones.”

Both credit their family traditions as another important way to keep their marriage strong. “We had a cabin in the Black Hills of South Dakota,” Mike says. “Our family went there every summer for 30 years in a row. Other family members often joined us there.”

“We’ve always done a lot of things together,” Janet says. “Remodeling projects, camping, going out to eat, vacationing. I appreciate the common ground we share.”

Mike and Janet LaReau: 50 Years of Marriage

October 8, 2014 Comments Off on Mike and Janet LaReau: 50 Years of Marriage
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Expected and unexpected. Every married couple gets both in the course of a marriage. But not every couple makes it through to celebrate 50 years of marriage like Mike and Janet LaReau have.

“For the first five years of our marriage, I was mostly thinking of myself,” Mike says. “I was pretty immature. When our daughter, Darcy, was born, I knew it was time to wise up.”

Neither of them was prepared for what came next: six miscarriages. One of the darkest times in their marriage drew them closer together. As they grieved the loss of each child, their love for Darcy and each other formed a bond that couldn’t be broken.

Mike recalls all too vividly another time when that bond was tested. When he had heart bypass surgery, he thought he was going to die. Janet stayed beside him, taking care of him the entire time. Her love and care made all the difference in his recovery.

“Bad things are going to happen,” Mike says. “You have to see them through together.”

Now, they treasure the times the share together: sitting on the patio of their home in Bourbonnais, Ilinois, and reliving special memories, traveling, working on household projects, volunteering with the youth group at Trinity United Methodist Church.

Family times are most important. Their daughter, Darcy, is a teacher in Michigan, married and the mother of the LaReaus’ two grandchildren. And there’s one more addition to their family: their son, adopted in 2003 and now a senior at Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School.

“We have bad days and good days together,” Janet says. “Every day together, you build a little more of your foundation with love, commitment and faith.”

2 Ways to Make the Most of a New School Year

September 4, 2014 Comments Off on 2 Ways to Make the Most of a New School Year
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The kindergartner with backpack on, boarding the bus for the first time.

The grade schooler that gets a teacher that “everyone” says is terrible.

The junior higher who goes to school and has no one in his lunch period he knows.

The high schooler with keys in hand, driving herself to school.

Each scenario, though different, brings a powerful storm of emotion that ranges from fear to overwhelming pride in watching kids enter a new stage of life. It can be stretching to navigate these places, especially when you see your child facing a difficult situation. But, how you respond to such circumstances contributes a very important piece of the education that is available to your family this year.

Consider a couple of actions to make the most of this school season:

Don’t be a “snowplow” parent.

A relatively recent term, a “snowplow” parent is one who gets overly involved and tries to clear the way for the child of any kind of obstacle. While the intention may be right (being an advocate, providing love and support), experts find that this can really do much more harm than good for kids. When parents make a habit of intervening, they rob the child of important opportunities to develop initiative, problem-solving skills, and the confidence that results.

Not getting a wanted teacher, not making the team, friend troubles, dating issues, and school projects are just a few of the tricky spots of kids’ lives where parents tend to get overly involved. Some questions to ask yourself when you feel the urge to snow-plow:

What might my child learn from this challenging situation?

What damage do I cause when I rescue my son from a challenge?

What does my rescue behavior say to my daughter about her abilities?

How can it build my child’s skills and confidence to weather a “storm” of disappointment?

Provide a haven at home

A parent can, and should be, a source of strength and support for a child when dealing with disappointment. Allowing a him to learn to navigate the situation certainly doesn’t mean removing yourself from him as he learns. Stay connected. Ask specific questions about the situation like, “What was the hardest part about not making the team?” or “Was it difficult to see friends who got asked to the dance?” Affirming your child’s feelings as normal can go a long way to provide comfort and strength for him to come up with solutions on his own. Responses like “I can see how sad that makes you” can be very healing for a setback your child has. In the midst of it all, look for ways to encourage and express your confidence in her to work this through. “You are such a problem-solver.” “I know you’re going to figure this out!”, and “Be brave” are words that create strength in the spirit of any person, let alone a child.

My son had a challenging year last year with his teacher that called for many prayers for wisdom on our behalf as parents. There were numerous times I wanted to step in and clear the way for “easier” circumstances for him. Fortunately, my husband and I were able to keep our eyes on the ball of developing his confidence, character, and independence and resisted the urge to rescue. In the process, we often wondered, “are we doing the right thing?” During the summer we had a meaningful discussion with our boy about all that happened and what, if anything, he learned from the situation. I saw his shoulders straighten, a big grin stretch across his face, and a confident laugh come out as he expressed, “I learned to deal with it.”

A pretty good lesson in our family book.

Education. Check.

Family Coach Michelle Klavohn holds over 20 years in the field of Human Development. With a Master’s degree in Communication and 10 years as a Communication Educator, she equips families to close the gap between the family they dream of and the family they experience each day. She passionately pursues her vision to partner with families who want to thrive!

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3 Empowering Habits for a New School Year

August 28, 2014 Comments Off on 3 Empowering Habits for a New School Year
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And, they’re off! The school year has begun.

A fresh season offers great opportunity to cultivate new habits. Check out three habits that hold immense possibility for your child in this new school year:

Be a friend to have a friend

What kid doesn’t want to have more friends? Crazy thing, kids (much like adults), hope that friends will magically appear and that those connections will invite them to be a part of all that’s happening. When it comes to friendship, the world is desperately in need of more initiators. The start of a new school year offers a time to encourage your child to give away lots of smiles, keep a look out for the new kid in class or the student who is sitting alone at lunch. Offering friendship is the best way to fill life with strong relationships. Encourage your child to initiate connections rather than waiting for them to come along. What would happen in this world if we all taught our kids to give to others what they want to have for themselves?

Do 1st things first

“We do the things we have to do before we get to do the things we want to do” has become a mantra around our house. Think about it… You go to work, earn a paycheck, pay your mortgage or rent, and then get to enjoy your home. Nobody gives you a beautiful home, lets you lay around as long as you want, watch 5-6 hours of TV, and then – if you feel like it – go to work. Right? The world operates by doing first things first. And, this is a crucial lesson for any young person.

What are the things your child has to do? Obviously, this varies based on the age of your kids, but homework and chores top the list for those that are elementary aged and over. When your child asks about something he wants to do, like heading over a friend’s, or jumping on the video game, check in with him, “Have you done 1st things 1st?”

Practice gratefulness

The benefits of having a grateful spirit have gotten much attention recently. Many parents I work with express concern that the more their kids receive, the more they seem to want. Developing a grateful heart tops the list of qualities that will greatly serve your child, and it certainly doesn’t need to wait until adulthood to make it into daily habits.

Research conducted with students who wrote down five things for which they felt grateful for, once a week, for 10 weeks in a row, experienced exciting results! Less stress, more joy, increased optimism and greater life satisfaction topped the list of outcomes. Here are some ways to practice gratitude with your kids:

  • Use dinner time to have each person express one positive thing from the day. This can even happen in the car on the way to the next practice!
  • At bedtime, spend time with your child sharing the top three things from the day for which you are grateful.
  • Have a family “gratitude board.” Hang a whiteboard in the hallway or laundry room and have family members write on the board things for which they are grateful daily.
  • Write weekly/monthly letters of appreciation. A teacher, a family member, a coach, a friendly clerk or waitress are all people who will be encouraged by a letter of appreciation from your child.

Family Coach Michelle Klavohn holds over 20 years in the field of Human Development. With a Master’s degree in Communication and 10 years as a Communication Educator, she equips families to close the gap between the family they dream of and the family they experience each day. She passionately pursues her vision to partner with families who want to thrive!

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