At least 17 Things Parents Need To Know:

Funny GirlsI sat beside my three children at a local coffee shop savoring the moments together. They are becoming very rare that the five of us have some “hang” time. My children are fun and inspiring. I still think I have some things to offer them in their maturing process but now I am more a student of them. Watching them grow is amazing.  My wife, and co-laborer in this parenting process, remains my best friend and partner in our role as parents.Bransons at Frothy Monkey

Most of my Facebook friends are parents, so I posted a request on my wall for sage advice from them on what parents need to know. I learned from them, hopefully you will find a nugget of insight for yourself too! Here is a selection of their comments.

  1. His Grace is new every morning.
  2. How to share their faith with their children.
  3. No child is perfect, but God’s saving grace is! (BF)
  4. Pick your battles! Not everything is worth the energy or time to ‘fight’ over!!
  5. Listen: It gives children, power and trust.
  6. Read to them, read with them, let them read to you.
  7. Kids thrive on acceptance, encouragement, AND correction.
  8. Give them permission to succeed AND permission to fail.
  9. Bike helmets work.
  10. Daddies, love your daughters. If she doesn’t find love and acceptance and affection from you, she will one day soon find it from another man.
  11. It can be cleaned up, it can be replaced, it will heal.
  12. Words can not be taken back and they will be remembered well. Choose them well.
  13. There is no greater kindness than when God lets you watch your children become the adults He intended them to be.
  14. Time together. There is no substitute.
  15. Disciple them to love and follow Jesus. In the end, that’s all that really matters.
  16. How to communicate love in a language your child understands. Time, Touch, Gifts, Words of affirmation, Service.
  17. Having a child is a lifetime commitment. You are in this until death do you part, for better or worse, for richer or poorer. Yes, it sounds like wedding vows, and it should.



Where Do I Start?

Together-Header-Web-large.pngThere is a lot to sort through in life.  In our youth the responsibilities were less, time seemed to last a long time, feelings like, “bored” might even be possible.  In the later years of life, we find time flying by, each year seems shorter.  Responsibilities may have lessen, boredom may have returned.

Most likely the reader of this blog will be somewhere in-between those stages of life.  You may be caring for young ones or aging adults. Your vocational choices may not be all that you had hoped and are wondering how to make a change. The search for ourselves, what we will do as we become an adult, the assessment of what we have already tried, the quest for satisfaction and meaning in our days may be where you are  right now.

I want to encourage you to not panic or lose hope.  Begin now to step forward with grace and purpose.  What is holding you back?  The past? The unknown future?  Paralysis in the present?

“Where do I start?”,  I was asked recently by a man overwhelmed by his life circumstances.  My answer my seem simple, yet it works.  Start right here, right now with yourself.  You are the only thing that you can control and for most of the people I know that are losing traction, it is self-awareness and self-control that they need first to move forward.

Know yourself, then know others.  I use those steps to help people be free, confident and in charge of where they are and where they are going.  Let’s talk about it sometime.

Before You Die

Before You DieLet’s imagine that you have chosen the still most common arrangements for your funeral.  Your corpse is lying in an open cask surrounded by flowers, photographs, notes, cards, etc. The line of people who are there to express their comfort to your loved ones or to grieve your loss are each waiting to pass by you.

Ok, I understand that this scene is not one that most want to think about, even dwell on at all.  However, if we are honest with ourselves we will pause to acknowledge that we will have an earthly end.

I won’t leave us here in this place for much longer, but stay with me long enough to think about these questions;

  • What will people say about you when they pass by the coffin?
  • What will their memories of you include?
  • What impact will you have had on them?
  • How did knowing you make a difference in their life?

We could ask more of these type questions, but the idea is established.  When you die what do you want to leave behind? What can you do now before you die to help make the desired answers to these questions mostly happen?

This is an example of Life Transition Coaching.  The questions I ask you to consider are a key part of what helps propel you forward in your thinking and actions.  Will your answers to these questions cause you to live differently?  Will you create different goals, strategies, priorities as you ponder your mortality?

As the song chorus says, “Time keeps on, slipping, slipping away…” What will you choose to do today to leave a lasting, positive, legacy?  Who/what is important enough to you that you will consider your part in their life story?  What do you do in this life that will outlast your time here?

I will stop with the questions and urge you to consider your death, now before you die. You could begin now to make a checklist of things you need to do and what to do.

  • Legal matters (like Wills, Trusts, etc.) could be put in order.
  • Funeral arrangements could be made while you can be a part of the decision. There are some interesting alternative-funeral arrangements available now; check out the options on the internet!
  • Personal relationships could be strengthened with family and friends.

You may want to work with me for a brief time to help you move through setting these goals.  An advantage I have in being a Life Transition Coach is that I don’t have any bias or agenda related to your decisions. I am not trying to sell you a product or service related to death.  I am proposing you have help in designing your process of preparing for tomorrow today.

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Talking “about” verses “with” Someone

Talking aboutThere is an important difference in sharing information about a person to others and engaging the person directly.  I highlight the contrast by asking, “Why are you telling me/us this story?  Is it to let us know about this person or are you seeking help in your efforts to talk with this person?”

The difference in wanting to talk about a person and seeking ways to talk with a person is very obvious.  So apparent that I almost didn’t think it worth noting in a blog.  However, as I listen to people in my Coaching and Mediation work I hear many stories that fall into the category of being “about” someone. It is not as common to hear someone seeking ways to talk “with” someone.

I understand very well that most of the issues that have brought me and my client together have root causes in lack of communication with someone. So, it is not a surprise that someone will welcome a chance to vent the frustration, hurt, loss and pain from the conflict that exists. What is interesting is the small number of people who are seeking ways to confront the offending person in a healthy way.

Again, I am not new at working with people and relationship problems. I get that people hurt one another through disappointment, let down, ignoring, disrespect, bullying and many other ways.  You can fill in the blank with a way you have been hurt by someone in the past or even very recently. It is ineffable that we will hurt each other. We are human,  not perfect! So, with the eventual hurt as a reality the question is “How do we deal with that hurt when it happens?”

You can pay me to work with you through the details of resolving the conflict, I will be glad to assist. But, here is a free tip to get you started on your own. Work at talking with people. They may have been very offensive, unreasonable, stubborn even mean in your past encounters. You may be so shutdown that you have given up trying to talk directly to them. It may be dangerous for you to try to break down the barrier alone.  I am not suggesting that you put yourself in danger; physically or emotionally. I am recommending that for your own sake you try, (with the help of others when needed), to connect and resolve the impasse. The satisfaction of knowing that you did everything you could to try to work out the issue between you and another person will be a great comfort in your future no matter the conclusion.

I also know it is usually easier to talk about someone than to talk to them. Do the harder thing and speak words that will edify, build up and bless directly.  What the “problem” person will learn from resolving the issue with you may help them avoid creating the same scenarios with others later on.

I would love to hear ways that you have turned the “about” to “with” in your own experiences.

Keith Talks

Keith speakingTo arrange for Keith to speak, coach, or train call 615-596-4474 or email The topics, listed alphabetically, below can be adjusted to your needs.  Other topics can be presented as well.

Speaking Topics:

1.Abortion and Men – A highly charged topic with surprising outcomes! Learn what Abortion does to men and what they can do about it.  Discussion can be tailored for all ages.

2. Age to Age – Life’s transitions are easier when we know three things; who we are, what we need, and how we can finish well. Understanding the truth about yourself and how to be satisfied through every season of life, is possible!

3. Conflict – We all have it in our lives at some level. Learn how to manage tensions, prevent abuse and create satisfying solutions. There are four key stages that I guarantee will lead to long-lasting, satisfying relationships.

4. Death and Dying – Preparing for departure from our earthly bodies is not as hard as people imagine. Know the basic things that legally must be done at death and options you have before and after death. Alternative funeral ideas are included in this presentation.

5. Leading from back stage – Leadership models, principles and “how-tos” abound. Most have you in charge, leading from the front and center. Strength, guidance, vision and direction can be instilled in a team, a family and other groups without having your face or name on the headline and your place in the front of everyone.

6. Marriage and Family – What else could possibly be taught on this topic with so many resources already available? Divorces are still occurring, blended families are now the majority of households, same-sex relationships in marriage and parenting are legal. A fresh, relevant talk on today’s tough issues.

7. Men – The world needs godly men; men who will step up and courageously lead and serve at home, at church, at work and in their communities. Learn what holds men back, how to bring them forward and empower them to fulfill their role and mission.


Secrets Shared

by Keith Branson
What would people say if they knew what you had done?
What do you care if now it can’t be undone?
Does their opinion make it better or worse?
Are you living with freedom or a curse?
What if your actions now cause further harm?
The stories you share raise questions and alarm?
Discretion and respect they warn are needed in your plan,
The secrets you have held, when shared cause ripples through the land.
There is a balance I agree to what is said and when.
The truth is best told in confidence to a trusted friend.
If you have a darkness in your past that holds you back from life,
Share it with someone, seek forgiveness from God; end internal strife.


Siri captureI got to upgrade my phone last week. I am very grateful to be able to have a phone and a family plan to share minutes and cost.  It is a privilege among so many that I don’t want to take for granted.

A big bonus for me was that I was finally going to experience this helpful assistant with the cool computer voice accent named Siri. My other GPS helpers have always been my friend in time of need for direction. The English speaking Tom Tom lady in the van always helps me get turned around and guides me on and off the “motor way” with ease. She has brought laughter on many occasions with comments like, “Bear right 100 yards”, causing my son and I to go into our redneck routine and look for the “bear” off to the right somewhere ahead.

So, I introduced myself to Siri with some new excitement.  I am an older kid with a new toy. “Siri, give me directions to The Peoples Church in Spring Hill, TN”.  She calculated and gave me the first directions for the journey.

Let me interrupt right here to tell you that I am direction-impaired. I don’t know if there is an actual medical or mental condition by that name, but where I grew up, it was described like this, “He couldn’t find his way out of a wet paper sack.”

My amazing wife has helped me with this problem for decades now. She will patiently, now almost even unconsciously, tell me to turn at the appropriate time, or warn me of an upcoming exit or of a missed street and the need to turn around.  She was GPS (Good Partner Service) long before satellites tracked me along my journeys. However she is not always with me and my surrogate helpers have been my GPS ladies.

So, you see how Siri was my anticipated support when Rona wasn’t with me. She was glad for me (and looking forward to a break when we ride together I think).

Luckily, I had my experienced navigator/co-pilot in the van with me on this maiden voyage with Siri. She had printed directions and was carefully eyeing the road signs to confirm Siri’s directions were accurate.  They weren’t.  The good news is we saw new back roads in Tennessee. More good news is that Rona helped me know when her commands were not only questionable, but terribly wrong. After a few miles, I sadly turned Siri off when we realized she was trying to take me to a completely different city.

Ok, strike one on that Siri experience.  I defended her by saying it was probably an Apple Maps dysfunction that led her astray.

Yesterday, I am driving and wanted to safely call my friend Jeremy.  I asked Siri, “Will you call Jeremy?” She replies, “I don’t have your call history.”  Humm.  I must have asked the question wrong.  So, I tried again, “Can you find Jeremy on my contact list?”  Siri, (I think she was smirking  but I am not sure, I was keeping my eyes on the road) says, “I never really thought about that.” What?  Siri-ously! Strike two.

My final try came late yesterday afternoon. I was in east Nashville, glowing inside from a great Chicago hot dog and also not sure of the best route to get back on the “motorway”. I told Siri, ( I didn’t ask her this time) “Give me directions home.” Siri says, “I don’t have your home address.  Would you like to add it now?” Ok, now we are communicating.  My phone contacts opens up and I enter my home address.  Boom! Siri is on it.  Perfect coordinates through the city street maze and I have my hoped for travel assist help.

I don’t know how Siri and I will do together in the future, but I do know I still prefer my wife beside me.


TOGETHER utilizes the safe cycle to help with conflict management.  We help you Stabilize the situation.  Once calming and safety is in place, the people in conflict can be helped to reach an Agreement.  A decision on how to move Forward from where they were leads to peace and even Enjoyment again.


Safe Cycle verses the unsafe cycle:

CONFLICT → Stabilize →Agreement → Forward → Enjoy


CONFLICT → Chaos →Disagreement →Stuck → Misery


Four phases from conflict to peace


No More Time

12479847_mI got a call on a Tuesday morning with a request for help.  Keith, I need help, there is no more time.

The plane was leaving early on Wednesday morning.  Tickets were purchased, the products were made, the events planned, the local hosts were expecting the arrival with great anticipation!

There was a problem.  The star of the show had decided not to go.

The impasse was about to jeopardize months of planning and thousands of dollars to be lost in upfront expenses for the event.

I immediately changed my schedule for the day and went to work. I was energized by the challenge.  The urgency, the high stakes of the decisions that needed to be made within the next few hours were a stimulus for action.

I am a mediator.  At the most basic level of definition, mediation is facilitated negotiation.   I help two or more “parties” (people) have a conversation that ultimately reaches a mutually agreed upon settlement. I do not have to be an expert on the subject in dispute.  I rely on the process I know very well to help people move from being stuck to collaborative action toward a solution.

A few phone calls, a two-hour mediation meeting and it was solved. It can be that simple.

If you have conflict, or know of someone who does, remember to have them give me a chance to help before additional hurt or legal proceedings occur.

Why Do We Do What We Do?

A few days ago I began a casual survey with Face Book friends with questions about hard boiled eggs:
“When you take the shell off a boiled egg, do you start up peeling at the top, bottom, middle or anywhere on the egg?”

Now I would like to ask any boiled egg peelers this; why do you do it that way?

Did you just decide to do it that way, or observe someone with that technique, or find that method worked better after attempting another way?

Here are some other questions that I have wondered about:
• When you put your pants on which leg do you put in first? Why?
• When you put your socks on which foot do you put in first? Why?
• When you put your shoes on which foot do you put in first? Why?
• When you put your sweater on which arm do you put in first? Why?
• When you put your Jacket/coat on which arm do you put in first? Why?
• When you slalom ski, or skate board, which foot do you put in front? Why?
• When you open a door which hand to you use? Why?

The list can go on and on.

Do you see the theme here?

Why do we do what we do?

Is it genetically programmed, like a natural bent to be left or right-handed that determines which hand or foot we will prefer or the action we take?

Is it a learned behavior or the way someone else showed us to do it?

Obviously, I am not looking for a most correct way to do any of these things. I just wanted to have you think about what you do, be aware of the way you do things. Then consider why you do what you do.

Where did the programming for that almost unconscious habit originate?

When you pause and think about it, what impact does it have on your consideration for other things you do… or say?

Become conscience of the things you do, or say that you don’t think about.  How will that help you with conflict?