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Category Archives: encouragement

Nature’s Work (5/7/5 haiku)

forces stronger than
i work to influence you
Faith: my one true Hope

 

This little poem can mean so many things, and I certainly had specific life situations in mind when writing this haiku.  But a “nature image” (which I believe is a requirement for a “true” haiku) that came to mind as I wrote this is a “sideways tree” that grows in my father’s pasture.  Decades ago, the tree was blown over by a hurricane.  But instead of dying, it just grew new roots and became the best “climbing tree” one could ever hope for.  The tree is also inspirational to me.  There were times as a teenager, and even now as an adult, when I’ve felt “blown over” by life and will visit that tree to remind myself that I can dig in and become stronger no matter what blows life has dealt. 

p.s. the tree above is not my father’s but looks very similar.

Pleasant (and unpleasant) Surprises

Today has been really interesting.  Felt sick and mostly stayed home.  Ok, I felt lazy too!  🙂  But, my stomach has been a “blender” today, so I didn’t feel like venturing out too far.  However, I needed to do some venturing and forced myself to do so starting around 1ish.  About that same time, my 2-year-old daughter decided to find out whether or not my cell phone can float in the bathtub.  It can’t.

Later in the day, my van would threaten to leave me stranded—I’m still trying to figure out what my 2-year-old did to the van!  Surprisingly enough though,  I drove about 100 miles in said van after the unpleasant surprise of nearly stalling out.  I spent time with my father and saw the parents of an old friend.  Enjoyable, but put me behind schedule for a Small Group I lead on Monday nights.  With no phone, I was unable to let people know I would get to the meeting a little late.   Well it wasn’t really “people” I wanted to notify; they are teenagers.  They used to be “people.”  They will one day be “people” again. But I digress…

No worries though, the students who were able to make it tonight waited patiently for me to arrive.  And when I say “waited patiently,” I mean they rearranged our meeting space!  They also created a new game using notecards, pool balls, and bolts. There I go digressing again.

But now the “real fun” begins—the pleasant surprises.  Since we were limited on time, we wound up just hanging out and having an informal discussion about what it means to “follow Jesus.”  This discussion was loosely based on the book we are studying, Not a Fan.  Mostly it was just a chance for them to talk about the challenges of living out their faith in the day-to-day reality of teenage life.  And, long story short, they are passionate about being more than fans of Christ—they passionately long to follow Him.

The other pleasant surprise happened when I left the meeting to go home.  About a mile from my office I realized I had left some things behind. I needed to return and grab them, so I started driving back.  I decided to make my return trip through a neighborhood I don’t frequently drive through—a student lives there who has just lost his father to cancer.  My intention was to merely do a “drive by” (shooting up prayers for him as I drove by the house), but he was actually out in his driveway playing basketball.  Alone.  It was a great opportunity to visit and pray with him rather than just for him.  And I absolutely believe God orchestrated the opportunity to meet with him on “his turf.”  It was a moment that perhaps surprised me, but not God.  🙂

I hope you’ve also had a few pleasant surprises today!

The Week in Quotes!

I’ve done precious little blogging this week.  Haven’t written much and haven’t read much.  But I have found some really great “nuggets” of wisdom in much of the little I have read.  I wanted to share with you some quotes from a few of the writings I was impacted by this week.  This is also a great way for you to perhaps discover a new blog you’ll love.  And, who knows, maybe I’ll pick up some “finder fees” for sending you their way?  I doubt it, but a boy can dream, right?!?  🙂

This pretty much punched me in the gut.  Lots of wisdom in this quote:

No one is ever satisfied when they’re not doing their best.  When you do your best and fail it’s more acceptable than failing when you aren’t really trying.”

The quote below touches on some conversations my wife and I have had this week.  I’m “thankful” to know others are in our shoes and can speak to it in such a powerful way!

The last few times I was faced with this blatant ungratefulness I didn’t handle it very well.  I got irritable and frustrated and snappy.  How dare my children be so ungrateful?  Don’t they appreciate all I do for them, all I give them?  It was at about that point I felt God whispering in my ear about my own gratitude towards Him.  Do I even notice all the things He does for me on a daily basis?  How many blessings in my life do I treat as burdens? …I realized then and there that if I expect my kids to be grateful, I need to show them exactly what it looks like.”

Charles is such an encouraging blogger/author/poet.  I look forward to reading his homespun wisdom and Godly insight every week.

God puts us on this earth to do His will, and He blesses us with everything we need to do it. It might be assets, talent, a strong body, intelligence, health, or just a good and loving personality. Whatever attributes you need, to do what the Lord needs done, are available to you, and I believe when you begin to focus on God and His will for your life, He will provide them to you, and you will know how to use them to His glory.”

Linnea’s site has become one of my favorites to read each week.  Especially this week!  Things were hopping over there, and as usual, she brought much insight “to the table.”

My hope in readily confessing my dark side is to get people to stop and think about their own….Truthful self-awareness must exact humility and humility is required in order to love others as we love ourselves.”

RabidMongoose always is a straight-shooter with well informed posts about issues of spirituality—especially for men.  But this post was a great read for all of us since it deals with an issue we all face at times.

We look at resentments. We’ve found out they are a distortion of the truth – a way to take a situation, cast the blame on somebody else, and totally escape, so we have nothing to do with it whatsoever!” – Joe McQ, The Steps We Took …This quote from Joe McQ’s book The Steps We Took sums up perfectly what I do with my resentments: I absolve myself completely of all responsibility for a problematic situation, making the issue everyone’s’ fault but mine. Resentment is a tool I use to live in denial: It allows me to create a shield around my fragile persona that ‘protects’ me from the truth about myself…I cannot keep holding all these resentments in. I need to accept responsibility for my own actions…

Feel free to share some quotes you have found (or wisdom you have written) in the comments below!  You’ll help me do a better job of catching up before the week is *officially* over!

Now I have the privilege of getting ready for a “date night” with my Beautiful Bride.  Hope to catch up with all of you wonderful bloggers soon!

This is the day…

Today has been a long one.  For me.  For the girls.  Especially for my Beautiful Bride!  I’m tired just remembering it all!  🙂

“Day in the life” posts aren’t the norm around here.  But I think there’s some spiritual insight worth sharing along with, so here goes:  Ran over a bike first thing this morn.  Oldest left it right behind my van!  (Yeah, I’m cool enough to drive a van!)  Not a happy Dad, but no time to dole out the proper punishment cause I was running late for church.  Same daughter decided to go to “Neighbor Boy’s” house for breakfast (yes, that Neighbor Boy!).  Only she didn’t ask for permission.  Her mother assumed she had gone to church with me; I had told her to go back in the house to Mom.  Brief moment of panic when I returned home and we realized we had “lost” a child.

Find her, scold her, load her in Mom’s van so we can drive the 45 mins. to a different worship service where I’m scheduled to speak.  Really encouraging service, and then off to lunch at Grandmother’s.  What a special thing that my little family can spend time with my grandparents who are both in their 80’s!  But it did mean almost an hour of driving home mid-afternoon only to load right back up and head to the talent show.  (with a quick meeting somehow squeezed in between)

Middle child and I were asked to sing a song; one I had written and she loves to help me sing.  So we did.  Which means my wife went “above and beyond” to support me when I spoke this morn, and J when she sang tonight.  But I could tell she was really worn out and I encouraged her to go home after J’s performance and get some rest.  Leaving me at the mercy of someone else for a ride home.  Someone who couldn’t leave talent show/church for another couple hours.  Oh man, it was a long day!

But on the way home, my “taxi driver” really needed to talk about some things going on in his life.  And I realized that a verse I had read in worship earlier today was being lived out nearly 12 hours later…even if I’m being poured out as an offering for the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice*…Poured out.”  I felt that when parenting today.  I saw that in my wife today.  I lived that in “church life” today.  And at the end of the day, hopefully I will join Paul in being glad and rejoicing for the chance to pour my life out if it helps others grow closer to Christ.

This is the day…the day the Lord has made!  I will rejoice.  I will be glad.

* Philippians 2:17


Finally Sharing the Love!


I posted my response to this award over a week ago.  I’m honored that I was nominated for this award, and now it is time to share the honor with others.  It’s really hard to choose only 15 fellow bloggers, but I’m choosing based upon people who I really enjoy reading, who I don’t *think* have received this (or other) award yet, and those who haven’t stated they host an “award free blog.”  🙂  If you’re nominated, please don’t feel obligated to participate.  And if you aren’t nominated, please don’t be upset!  I’ll be happy to share the love with you next time…just let me know you’re interested.

So, here’s the deal.  Once I nominate you, tell us 7 things about yourself that most of us don’t know.  Then you nominate more people! (15 is the suggestion)  By the way, here is my list of 7 odd facts.  And below is the list of bloggers I’ve nominated for “The Versatile Blogger” Award.  Enjoy.

http://linneann.wordpress.com/ <—— amazing writer, “supermom”, & all-around wonderful person!

http://xoevelynortizhasspoken.wordpress.com/  <——-  this young lady has tons of drive & determination, plus she’s an awesome commenter!

http://hangingoutandin.wordpress.com/  <——- another “supermom” who shares incredibly heart-touching stories!

http://chris9911.wordpress.com/  <—– hilarious blogger, great dad, crazy in love with his wife, & he can help you buy the right p.c.!

http://simplystriving.wordpress.com/ <——–  one of the most inpirational bloggers you will ever read!

http://rabidmongoose.wordpress.com/ <—— tackles some really heavy subjects, & offers incredible insight…plus you can learn about gardening!

http://dailymomprayers.wordpress.com/ <—– yet another “supermom” with a “superblog”!

http://sberris0.wordpress.com/  <——- a young woman who is wise beyond her years!..very artsy & creative too!

http://theactsproject.wordpress.com/  <—– you will find amazing writing from an amazing mom/wife here & you will love it!

http://tasmith1122.wordpress.com/  <—– this is one of my wife’s fave poets/bloggers & I’ve grown very fond of her as well 🙂

http://ladywithabirthmark.wordpress.com/  <—- adding some international flavor with this delightful blogger!

http://mylifeuncutalmost.wordpress.com/  <—– wonderful woman of wisdom & integrity!

http://illumylife.com/  <———- pretty pictures, creative crafts, wise words, lovely lady!

http://newkarensue.wordpress.com/ <———- new pic everyday, and always something worth reading!

http://causeisaidso.me/  <———– terrific, heart-felt writing from a terrific mom…super enjoyable blog.

“Bummed” Out

I briefly thought about a different kind of bum picture, since this post is about a different kind of bum.  Any kind of “bum” pic I posted was going to be a funny one, but the one above really made me laugh.  “Monkey butt” would have also made me laugh, but I found this pic first!  🙂

And since I’m *loosely* writing a post about thankfulness, the pic I chose gives me a great opportunity to state that I AM THANKFUL!  Thankful I can speak and walk.  Thankful I have (most of) my teeth.  Thankful for a job.  Thankful I’m not yet wearing diapers again.  Thankful that God does indeed bless!

This post is also about something I’m fearful of: my oldest daughter growing older!  She’s always been a challenge, but so far we’ve only had to deal with “little girl challenges.”   Yesterday & today, however, I’ve gotten a real big “wake-up call” about what the future may hold.  We have a newish neighbor who is the same age (9) as our oldest.  She has already proclaimed her undying love for new neighbor boy.  Anytime she has permission—and many times she doesn’t—she makes a beeline for his house.  Last night was an example of a “no permission” trip to the house next door.

We had just returned home from church, and before I even had a chance to realize she wasn’t in our house, she comes running through the door shouting: “You won’t believe what I just saw!”  Turns out, she was right!  I didn’t believe what she had just seen.  As I was getting her younger sister out of the van and in our house,  Big Sister snuck over to “neighbor boy’s” house—at bath time.  As her visit was unexpected, neighbor boy was apparently standing in his living room in the buff.  He took off down his hall as soon as my daughter began knocking on their door.  Thankfully, she only saw his backside.  (See, I told you this post is about thankfulness!)

I tried to downplay the event last night.  But today she made it pretty clear: I definitely have reason to be worried.  She said (in a rather dreamy manner): “Dad, last night was the best night of my life!”  Having “sometimers disease,” I just had to ask:  “Why?”   She grinned and said, “You know Dad…cause of what I sawww!  I can’t believe I actually saw his bum!”   (Insert mental image of Dad pulling hair out here)

But thankfully I have a pretty level-headed wife.  She reminded me that these emotions in our daughter were bound to happen some day.  (Though she did admit it’s earlier than she had expected as well!)  But she also said something that is crucially important.  While we continue to teach our daughter the benefits of living with moral integrity, the most important lesson we can teach her is to live a life of love for God!  Whether I like it or not, there will be a day in the future (like when she’s 25) when she won’t be constrained by any of my rules or expectations.  It will be her love for God alone which will compel her to make wise, godly choices as she grows, spreads wings, and becomes completely independent.

So today this “bummed out Dad” is most thankful for a God who has made this promise: “(be) confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 1:6)

What Has Your Journey Been Like?

written for Kellie’s Free-Write Friday prompt

The “blogosphere” is a somewhat new experience for me. I’m still learning much; in fact, I’m barely able to post my own writings. No joke, this is the second time I’m writing this post because I just lost the original writing!

What I’ve come to enjoy most about the blogosphere is the genuine sense of “community” that can be found when one is actively engaged with other bloggers. It’s really quite a wonderful community to be a part of! Plus, there aren’t any speeding tickets given out in this community! (Can you tell I’ve been the victim of a couple of “small town speed traps”?) 🙂

It has been a real joy to read your blogs and get to know you through your posts. Fellow bloggers have inspired and encouraged, made me laugh and cry. Thankfully, I’ve laughed more than cried! And you’ve also made me think. An example of this was earlier in the week, when I read a post by a blogger who is new to me. In his post, he shared the story of how he came to a faith-relationship with Christ. I commented (a brilliantly insightful comment I’m sure…lol) and moved on to read another blog. However, this new friend invited me back to his blog by asking a really important question: “What is the story of your journey with God?”

That question has stayed with me all week. It’s stayed with me because I think it is not only a great question to ask of others but is also a crucial question to ask of ourselves from time to time. Today, I discovered the perfect photo prompt to motivate me to write about this question. My personal journey has been a drama and a comedy (you’ll understand if you ever see me *try* to dance). My journey has been poetic, but it’s also been some very poorly written prose (of course, that was mostly due to college assignments!). I was fortunate enough to become a Christ-follower at a young age. However, I’ve been stubborn enough to choose several “wrong paths” in the years that have followed. In spite of my obstinacy, God’s love has been constant and His Grace sufficient. The longer I live, the more I realize I am completely dependent upon God’s faithfulness!

And now it’s your turn to share. I’ve been so blessed, and even honored, by the honest comments so many of you have left in the past. So I end today’s post with the same question for you: What is the story of your journey?

Finally Recognized

 

“Finally Recognized”

Climbing the rusted caracol, I
found myself happy to let you go first,
yielding center stage, while you basked
in a potpourri of much deserved applause.

Goofy, silly, awkward, somewhat clumsy;
perfect in every way.

Senescence was of no concern as
we walked the quad and you proudly
displayed that emblazoned medallion
trophy-cased around your neck.

Mine savagely stuffed in some pocket;
I forget which one.

Young lovers lay on a bed of
kiwi-colored grass; laughing,
tickling their bodies and their fancies.
Their moment though, eclipsed by yours.

Miraculously cured from faux insignificance
and homesick heartache.

 

notes:  This is one of the first poems I wrote.  It was originally written for Moday Melting before I had a blog of my own.  Hope you enjoy (even if this is your second time reading this poem.)  🙂

An Award Winning Week

It has been a pretty exciting week around here.  Personal life and “blog life” both have seen some awesome developments.  Firstly, I’m blessed to celebrate an anniversary with the most amazing woman I’ve ever known!  Thank you Sweetie for the best days, weeks, months & years ever!  This week has been especially wonderful.  🙂  An anniversary celebration with my Beautiful Bride has already made this week “award-winning,” but then…

Secondly, a couple of my favorite bloggers have honored me with blog awards.  Terry (an amazing woman in her own right!) has nominated me for the “Sunshine Award.”  And over at “allthingsboys” (not written by boys by the way—published, in fact, by another amazing female) I was nominated for the “Versatile Blogger Award.”  You both have lots of readers and followers so I feel really honored by the selections.  Just need to get busy and answer some questions!

And just today I found out a poem I’ve written has been selected as the winner in Kellie’s poetry contest.  To say I’m shocked would be a huge understatement!  Thank you Kellie for the recognition; I’m looking forward to receiving a copy of your new book soon!

Real Life Hunger Games: Andrew Mohandis

I’ve had something on my mind all week, and keep thinking I’ll write a post.  Then I don’t.  I’m not good at much, but I’m GREAT at procrastinating!  Which makes me realize, if all I do is have great thoughts, but no action due to great procrastination, I’ll experience my own great hunger.  Just some “food for thought” for myself.  I do bounce around a bit…sorry!  🙂

Normally (well, always) my wife uploads my posts because she actually knows how to do it.  But she explained a few things to me the other day, so I thought I’d give it a go on my own today.  Here’s to hoping my attempt is successful. (And if you’re reading these words, it has been!)

REAL HUNGER for a REAL BOY

Sunday I had an opportunity to hear from Andrew Mohandis, a young refugee from South Sudan.  Due to God’s mighty work, Andrew is now attending college near where I live.  I call him a “refugee” because he has been delivered from a life of unbelievable danger.  As a boy, he and his family were ripped apart when some of his siblings were abducted.  He and his parents then spent several years living in the woods, eating whatever they could find for survival.  His father taught him to hunt and fish, and also encouraged him to share his blessings with others who were living in the forest—family or not.

After a few years, U.N. Peacekeepers were able to establish some semblance of safety for the people of South Sudan.  At that time, Andrew’s family moved back to their village.  However, there were still weekly attacks, including bombs dropped from airplanes.  The U.N. workers would sound an alarm, and all of the villagers would run to take cover in foxholes they had dug themselves.  Andrew spoke of how this was a time of singing and praying for him and his family, but also a time of loss, as there were almost always casualties somewhere in the village.  By the time Andrew was a teenager, some missionaries had helped him attend high school in Uganda, but even there, he witnessed much bloodshed.

Andrew concluded his time of testimony by sharing with us that, as much as he enjoys the freedom and safety of life in the U.S., his plans are to return to South Sudan and begin a school there to help other young children who need love, food, security, and education.  He’s been blessed for these past few years with a life he could have never imagined when fighting to survive out in his boyhood jungle.  Yet he is itching to return to that war-torn area, so he can be a greater blessing to others.  Powerful.

You can read some of Andrew’s testimony, in his own words, here:  http://threesixtybirmingham.blogspot.com/2010/08/from-sudan-to-birmingham-for-sake-of.html

HELPFUL HUNGER

I’ve thought frequently of Andrew this week.  His story and some of your blogposts have reminded me of how important it is to “count my blessings” and not get caught up in my own problems or worries.  And Scripture has served as another great reminder!

But then this morning, my wife and I were talking about the book The Hunger Games (which I’m currently reading), and she mentioned something about how some of the characters in the book had the benefit of not being hungry.  It was these people who had the luxury of being entertained.  Any number of things could entertain them—even the starvation and deaths of those less fortunate.  And in that conversation, I realized that one of my greatest problems is that I live with the luxury of being entertained.  So much so, that when not “entertained,” I have the luxury of dwelling on my own worries a bit too much! 

In days to come, I hope I will be more like my new friend Andrew: Thankful for this luxury I now know, but hungrier than ever to share my blessings—however meager they may be—with those who don’t have the luxury of being entertained.

Sharing IS Caring

I took my lovely bride to a book store last week. A big book store, with a coffee shop and lots of books. Several overflowing magazine racks too. With the ipad, iphone, kindle (and my blog), who still buys books and magazines? Anyway, seeing the massive amount of printed material and then coming home to read dozens of blogs and other websites that same night, made me wonder: with so many people “talking” (writing, as it were), who is actually “listening”?!? So with that in mind, I want to “tell” you something. 🙂

What I’m writing about today has little to do with my opening paragraph. You only have to be consistent like that in sophomore English! On this day, I’m writing about something else that’s been on my mind of late: sharing common interests with your significant other. I have recently discovered how critically important “shared interests” are in a relationship. Unfortunately, I’ve learned the hard way. In my case, I spent years pursuing my own interests and not “sharing” nearly enough interests with my spouse. Oh we shared interests in children, church, and chores. (Ok, not the “chores” so much, but I liked the 3 “ch” words in a row: cha! cha! cha!) But I was so busy with work, hobbies, and MY interests, that I failed to invest in creating OUR hobbies and interests.

It’s easy to find things in common when you’re dating. Like, when my wife and I were dating, we both found yours truly to be quite a handsome guy! We had other things in common. I’m only sharing the first thing that came to mind. 😉 But, seriously, a big part of dating is expressing interest in one another and finding things you like to do together. If you don’t do those things, chances are you won’t continue dating for long enough to get married. What about after marriage though? Do most of us continue to spend time together in the same manner we did while dating? For that matter, are we making “time together” a priority? And since I mentioned the plethora of books available to buy, I’ll share a powerful quote with you from one of those books:

“In successful marriages the husbands and wives spend time together alone. If your schedules never allow time for you and your wife to be alone with each other [no children involved!], then you are too busy. You need that time of togetherness to talk, to work things out, to share interests and dreams, to just be together in silence, and to have intimate times that are not rushed.” The Power of a Praying Husband, p. 89.

Another quote I’d like to share was spoken to me by a friend who has just published her first book. I should have looked for her book while sipping my coffee last week! She asked me this question one day, and it motivated me in a big way to get my act TOGETHER: “When you’re older, and you’re sitting down together over dinner or on the front porch, don’t you want to be able to look at each other and say, ‘Remember that time when…’?”

So now it’s your turn to give the world more words to read. I’m listening. I promise! So write away! Just use that little comment box below…

What are your favorite ideas for spending time together? How have you and your SO (sig. other) found interests you can share that create special memories and bonding in your relationship? And if you haven’t made “time together” a priority, perhaps you have some thoughts to share as well.

Fathers – Where are you? Part III

Fathers – Where are you? Part III.

Long read, but worth the time.  Nice follow up to the “real man” post from a week or so ago.

Here are some important statistics to share from the link above:

According to the Barna Group in their series on the state of the church:

    • Church attendance declined by six percentage points among men, The research showed that the proportion of men who had attended a church service, other than a special event such as a wedding or funeral, during the week prior to their survey interview fell from 42% to 36%.
    • Sunday school attendance declined by eight percentage points among men since 1991. Only one out of eight men (13%) presently attends such a meeting in a typical week.
    • The percentage of men who volunteer at a church during a typical week has slipped by six percentage points since 1991 to its present level of 18%.
    • The proportion of unchurched men has grown by nine percentage points since 1991. Today an estimated 39% of all men can be deemed unchurched – that is, having not attended a church event, other than a special service such as a wedding or funeral, in the past six months.

Additionally:

We are abandoning our homes and families at an alarming rate.  In the United States there are 9.9 million single mothers living with children under 18 in 2010.  This is up from 3.4 million in 1970.

Looking at the Flip Side of Love

Looking at the Flip Side of Love.

If you click on the link above you will find a bit of explanation about this thought-provoking piece written by Linda Krushchke.

Hate Is . . .

Hate is impatient,
toe tapping, eye-rolling,
in a hurry for instant gratification

Hate is mean,
treating others unkindly,
bullying, and insulting

Hate is envious,
not happy for others’ prosperity,
wanting what others have,
and for them not to have it

Hate is boastful,
puffed up, pointing to self-accomplishments,
not recognizing contributions of others

Hate is not humble,
but is arrogant, filled with hubris
proudly thinking oneself better than all,
pretentious and vain, always vain

Hate is rude,
abusive and insulting, vulgar,
disrespectful, and never caring for others

Hate is self-seeking,
it’s-all-about-me attitude,
selfish and egotistical, self-important

Hate is easily angered,
irritated by the slightest mistake,
hot-headed, unwilling to forgive

Hate keeps a record of wrongs,
every little sin catalogued and indexed,
ready as part of its arsenal of hostility

Hate delights in evil,
revels in rebelling against authority,
is pleased to go its own way

Hate despises truth,
closes its ears to teaching,
refuses instruction and correction

Hate attacks,
harms loved ones and strangers alike,
injures all in its way without care

Hate distrusts,
lacks faith in God or anything,
doubts there is anything good

Hate despairs,
has no hope for a future,
lives in misery and sorrow

Hate gives up,
at the smallest obstacle it gives in,
is defeated by the tiniest tribulation

Hate never wins

Written by: Linda Kruschke

This is a nice little read.  I recently had the joy of taking my bride on a quick excursion “away” from the children.
Highly encouraged for all you married readers out there!

The Marriage 4 L.I.F.E Blog

Yes, as a married couple, you should have one night stands — with each other!

Although studies are showing that sitting in a rocking chair can reduce pain in your old aching joints and lessen depression in folks, I believe that having a “one night stand” can be good for your marriage all through your years together.

You should find time to get away from the house, kids, church, business, volunteer work, yard, cats, dog, chickens, parakeet, neighbors, chores, kitchen, telephone, relatives, computer, and television!

This holds true even if it is for just one night and just down the street at a local motel.

WHY?
• Time alone together without distractions.
• No meals to cook or dishes to clean.
• Your conversations are not interrupted.
• Your intimate moments can be spontaneous.
• No hurrying home to get the babysitter home on time.
• Romance comes more naturally.

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Real Men

To all of my faithful blog readers (both of you), I apologize for my long absence. I’ve been out of town and out of sorts.

But it’s been pretty quiet around here for a little too long, so I need to get something posted. You know, to keep the people happy. Something like that …
 
I tend to read and focus a lot these days on issues of being a good hubby and good father. Today I’m just sharing a few things I found recently that will perhaps be meaningful to others. And hopefully will challenge all of us males to act like a man—not just smell like one!
 
 
“Real Men”
Real Men are a dying breed.
Boys play house. Men build homes.
Boys shack up. Men get married.
Boys make babies. Men raise children.
A boy won’t raise his own children. A man will raise his and someone else’s.
Boys look for someone to take care of them. Men look for someone to take care of.
Boys seek popularity. Men seek respect and know how to give respect.
 
 
Some Troubling Stats About Males in Society:
(original source: cnn.com, 10/4/11)
 
Statistics show that men are taking a less active positive role in society than they did 40-50 years ago.
 
Non-Working Men:
Since 1950, the number of non-working men (unemployed, imprisoned or disabled) has increased from 5% to 20%.
 
Fatherless Children:
The number of fatherless children has increased from 11% in 1970 to 27% in 2010, and there is a total of 40% of births now being outside of marriage.
 
Religious Involvement:
The religious interest of men has also dropped with only 39% of men attending church regularly.
 
Video Games:
Adult males spend more time playing video games than male teens! Men aged 18-34 years spend more time playing video games daily than typical males aged 12-17 years.

LOL at Your Marriage

  “Worry weighs us down;
   a cheerful word picks us up.”
                            ~Proverbs 12:25

  “A cheerful heart brings a smile to your face;
   a sad heart makes it hard to get through the day …”
                            ~Proverbs 15:13

 

This is a post I actually had written nearly a week ago.  But then I deleted it.  By accident.  Oops!  Just as well though.  There have been a couple of times in the past week when I personally needed these reminders to “LOL.”  Now I’m sharing from a fresh perspective about why this is so critically important.  And I’m eating cheese puffs.  Can life get any better?!

Is your marriage “less than ideal”?
This question came up after my first post about what to do when you’re in a bad marriage and it’s hard to see “the best” in one another.  What if your marriage relationship just feels hopeless?  First off, let me remind you that physical harm to either you or your spouse is NOT recommended.  Plus it’s illegal to inflict physical pain upon another.  You may think jail is a better option.  Maybe it is.  I wouldn’t want to find out through experience, however.  🙂  But there are positive steps you can take to improve your marriage today.  It starts with you. You may not like what I have to say next, but here goes …

Get over yourself!
Very often, you will feel bad about your marriage because YOU feel bad about the marriage.  It may have little or nothing to do with your spouse.  Seriously!  You’ve made up your mind that you’re unhappy, and nothing your spouse does or doesn’t do can get you out of your funk.  And yet, the focus of your unhappiness is placed squarely on your spouse’s shoulders.  This isn’t always the case. But no matter what your situation is, let me encourage you to take ownership of your own happiness and growth.  While your spouse IS responsible to love you and care for you, ultimately you are responsible to love and care for yourself as well.  Happiness is a choice that you must make daily.

CHOOSE to enjoy your life and your spouse!
Just as happiness is a choice that you make, so is the opportunity and privilege to enjoy your spouse.  On a personal note, I will share that I’ve always enjoyed being married to my wife.  But it was always easy; my wife is an amazing woman.  Happiness has never been hard for me to find in our marriage.

But then a few months ago, I began to worry over things I had never worried about before.  Some worry can be good when it produces positive changes in your life, but not when it becomes a fixation.  And for a couple of months, worry consumed me, which caused me to worry my wife to death over tons of stuff.  Those days weren’t much fun at all for either of us. 

One thing my beautiful bride continued to tell me, no matter how much I worried her with my worry, was that we just needed to relax and laugh together.  So even when I overwhelmed her because I felt overwhelmed, she was grounded enough to just keep reminding me that laughter was the key to enjoying each other.  Finally, one day, I believed her.  And we just started goofing off again.  I chose to ignore the hurtful words and actions that caused me to worry and focused on the positives that were worth enjoying.  Getting over myself, choosing to enjoy my wife and my life … wow, what a difference that made!

So start laughing out loud.
It’s hard to be consumed with worry when you are laughing.  It’s hard to stay angry at your spouse (or yourself) when you are doubled over in laughter.  And it’s much easier to feel great about your marriage and life together when you are doing all this laughing TOGETHER!  Here are some tips that I have found helpful:

*  Watch humorous TV shows together.  When we first dated, one of our favorites was King of the Hill.  These days, we watch a lot of Everybody Loves Raymond.  This is a great way to relax and enjoy the same activity together.

*  Play Scrabble or other fun games together that will allow you to talk and be silly with each other.  Games are fun—especially for adults.  Or discover common interests to share together.

*  Find your schtick and “schtick” with it!  There are some things I can say or do at any time which I know will make my wife laugh, like sneaking up and scaring her.  Sometimes she laughs so hard that her cheeks hurt. That’s when I know I’m doing my job.  There are things that your spouse just finds flat-out-funny.  Find out what they are, and use them to make your marriage better and “funner.”

*  Go out on date nights as often as possible.  Once a week is ideal. But if you can’t make that happen, do it at least 2 or 3 times a month.  It doesn’t have to be expensive.  One of our best “date nights” was (mostly) free and wasn’t at night.  We went to a free art exhibit in the middle of the day.  Look for those kinds of opportunities, and just make it happen.

One more thing …
It was also suggested that I provide some links to other blogs/web sites that provide helpful marriage advice.  Here are a few I’ve found useful:

http://richardetrader.blogspot.com

http://www.surrenderedmarriage.org/

http://www.abettermarriage.blogspot.com/

http://www.RickThomas.net

http://www.focusonthefamily.com/

http://www.marriagetoday.com/

http://Shawna.goodblogs.com/view-post/Free-Marriage-Counseling

The Unwasted Life

The Unwasted Life.

Hope I’m “pressing” this correctly.  Don’t want any of you to live a wasted life!

Are Whores Worth the Trouble?

 

Your spring water is for you and you only,
not to be passed around among strangers.
Bless your fresh-flowing fountain!
Enjoy the wife you married as a young man!
Lovely as an angel, beautiful as a rose–
don’t ever quit taking delight in her body.
Never take her love for granted!
Why would you trade enduring intimacies for
cheap thrills with a whore?

Proverbs 5:17-20, The Message

Welcome to my friends from “talk-about-marriage,” real life friends, other bloggers, and complete strangers. Not sure how you found these words, but glad you did.

Don’t want to give you any false impressions. I’m certainly not a counselor (for marriage or much else). Heck, I’m not even a good “canceler”—I messed up canceling the monthly Nutri System delivery. Got another one yesterday, though I thought I was done forever. At least my daughters got to play with dry ice! And this time, no trips to the Emergency Room! Don’t ask…

I’m not all that smart either. If you don’t believe me, just ask my wife. 🙂 What I am, however, is a broken, humbled (and forgiven!) man. I’m also a “rehabbed” man, if you will. Still a work in progress—very much so! But, nonetheless, I’m a very different man, husband, and father today than I was just a few months ago. You CAN ask about that! Hopefully I’ve gained some wisdom during my recent season of growth. Wisdom valuable enough to share. So that’s one of the things I plan to do with this brand-new, shiny blog.

First up is some advice for husbands based upon the Bible verses found above (Proverbs 5:17-20). If you aren’t one to believe in much of what the Bible has to say, you should still take a gander. It’s just some good advice for all of us husbands, no matter your religious views. Proverbs, after all, is a book of plain-spoken wisdom. The Message makes it even easier to understand for a country boy like me!

So listen up husbands: You are married to the most wonderful woman in the world. No, really, you are! OK, actually I am. But, you see, you are too. Have I confused you yet?

And before you “call me out” on it, I want to clarify that I know some of you are probably not married to a “wonderful woman”—been there, and understand the frustration. But the larger point to understand, is that if you are married, you owe it to yourself and your wife to see her as the most wonderful, beautiful woman in the entire world. She should know that you consider her “lovely as an angel” and hear you say she’s as “beautiful as a rose.” Some of you need to quit laughing. A good many of you can wipe the disgusted look off your face. And for those of you who already know she’s certain of your admiration and love: Good job! Keep it up!

There are many reasons we husbands neglect this simple advice—to “enjoy” our wives, to “bless” them, to NEVER take them for granted! Some of my personal reasons were work, work, and more work (I literally worked a job, ran a business, and managed rental property for the first 7 years of our marriage). Who’s got time to emotionally invest in marriage in the midst of all that busy-ness? I’m sure a lot of you can identify. There were also my preoccupations with hobbies (from cars to football and much in between), preoccupations with stupid wastes-of-time (facebook, anyone?), and some emotional baggage I carried from a previous heartache as well as my parents’ divorce.

There are so many more reasons we husbands fail to follow the “words of wisdom” found above. Resentment, bitterness, lack of forgiveness, laziness, selfishness, rebellion, hardened hearts…the list can go on and on. One of the biggest challenges we men face in completely honoring our wives (making her feel beautiful, enjoying her, blessing her, NEVER taking her for granted, etc.) is our battle with lust. I personally don’t know a single man who hasn’t struggled with this battle in some regard—even the most morally upright men I know! Due to our visual nature, and how we are wired, it’s going to be an issue that we as men will deal with. However, a lot of us choose not to “deal with it.” We choose to feed it! Bad choice!

You see, when you are fantasizing over movie-stars, models, and random girls who expose themselves all over the Internet, you are choosing to exchange “enduring intimacies” with the most wonderful woman in your world for “cheap thrills” with a whore. It’s an awful and painful price to pay. And you pay this heavy, heavy price for something cheap and meaningless!

So what’s the answer? How do we deal with it? I think the most important response is found in God and trusting Him to give victory in your life over lustful thoughts. In my life, this is a critical part of the answer. However, even outside of a dependance upon God, there are some important things you can do to honor your wife. First, make up your mind that this is a battle you will fight! No more “boys will be boys” attitude that excuses your actions. And secondly, determine in your heart and mind that your wife is THE standard for beauty, hotness, sexyness, etc. My wife is absolutely the standard in my mind of what a beautiful, sexy woman looks like. There is no comparison! And there never will be! This mindset makes a world of difference for me in my thought life and the temptations I face.

So do it boys! Honor your wife, enjoy her, delight in her, bless her! Determine in your heart and mind that she is the loveliest lady ever, “beautiful as a rose.” Make sure she knows it not only through your words but with your actions. Make her THE standard for beauty in your life and do it today. Enduring intimacies with your wife are soooo much more enjoyable than the cheap thrills you’ll find anywhere else!

And for all you gals who may be reading, I have some advice for you too. Understand the battle your husbands face and give them a little grace. Men are wired to be visual and we definitely live in a visual world. Don’t excuse the actions when lines are crossed, but be willing to be understanding and helpful to your husband as he tackles this challenge!