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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.

A Very Important “Mother’s Day Story”

Several weeks ago, I shared with you how a young man from South Sudan had deeply impacted me.

Today, I want to do a little follow up with a “Mother’s Day story” from someone who has adopted a child from South Sudan.  It’s very timely and even more touching.

I’ll be out of pocket for most of the weekend, and may not have a chance to “catch up” until after Mother’s Day…so let me take the opportunity today to tell all of you wonderful Mom’s out there:  HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

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!

How to create a 93% chance of success in your marriage!

I originally started this blog with the intention to mostly write about marriage & men stepping up as “servant leaders” in their homes, churches, and communities.  I’ve branched out quite a bit since then, which has been enjoyable.  But I still have a passion for the issues mentioned above.  Here is a great post I came across yesterday and wanted to share with others on wordpress.  This article can be found on Trey Morgan’s site.

I want to be a 5 to 1 husband!

Statistics on marriage scare me, but the Studer Group has released a new study on “Compliment to Criticism” ratio. They’ve told us from their studies, that people in general need 3 compliments given for every 1 criticism that is said to them. While that didn’t surprise me, the following statistic FLOORED me …

“Reports now show that when it comes to marriage, if you have a 5 to 1 compliment to criticism ratio, the divorce rate in that marriage drops from 50% to 7%.”

DID YOU CATCH THAT, husbands and wives? We are now learning how to beat the old statistic that says that 50% of all marriages will end in divorce. How? Give 5 compliments to your spouse for every 1 negative thing you say. When you take on the 5 to 1 plan, the divorce rate in your marriage drops to 7%. I like those odds!

My goal (and hopefully yours) today is to become a 5 to 1 kind of spouse. Today is a great day to start.

5 to 1 … that’s it! And the divorce rate goes from 50% to 7% … It’s time to pass the word.

You up for the 5-1 challenge with your spouse?

“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)

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!

can underwear outlast a marriage?

can underwear outlast a marriage?.

Just to make you laugh on a Monday afternoon!

I don’t know anything about the author, but this was too funny not to share!

“The King and I”

 
 
The King and I
 
Out for an evening stroll; napping is over,
there’s much plotting to be done.
 
Plotting for kingdoms and wars and
lesser things.
 
Things that arouse and excite, inciting
temptations that have ruined a stronger man.
 
Ruined little people too.
 
People like me.
 
 
An Explanation
This was written in response to “Free Write Friday.” The prompt today is to write about an affair, from a “fly on the wall” perspective. I’m not sure that I “nailed” the perspective, but my hope was to at least capture the destruction caused when people abandon those sacred vows. My inspiration was the story of David and Bathsheba.
 
photo

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.

“Arriving Home”

arms and hands reach high
naked feet dance funny jigs
screams ring out: “Daddy!”

written for Sensational Haiku Wednesday (theme: excitement)

“Across the Street”

 
 
Woman unknown, I
saw you cry for the man you
love. I know plenty.
 

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

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!