Fathers, We Desperately Need Them

16 06 2019

I always loved being a father.  While not the easiest job in the world, it was my favorite and most rewarding. Having children to hold, train, read to, discipline, play with and love is a God-given honor.  And quite honestly, I made lots of mistakes as a father because there is no perfect earthly father.

 

On one occasion, I was agonizing over some wrong decisions made by one of my children and I asked God what I did wrong as a father.  I’ll never forget what I sensed from my heavenly Father as He then asked me, “And what did I do wrong as a Father?”  Wondering what this meant, I then heard, “My first two children rebelled (in a perfect world, I might add) and by the second generation committed murder.”  Oh, wow, I honestly had never thought of God’s Fathering in that way… a perfect Father who experienced some very imperfect and disobedient children.

 

If you’re a father, happy Father’s Day.  But if you’re a father who blames himself for your children’s wrong decisions, take responsibility if you must, ask forgiveness and move on. If your children made wrong decisions in spite of your wise counsel and love, then realize so did God’s first children.

 

Fathering is a call from God and it’s a higher priority than your job, your hobbies, your buddies, your house and mostly…yourself!  If you still have children in your home or grandchildren, you have a direct link to build the life of Christ in them (Colossians 1:28).  Be the type of father that represents Jesus well and determine to leave a legacy of love, acceptance and approval.

Advertisements




A Boring and Predictable Marriage

10 06 2019

Recently we took our five-year-old grandson with us for a weekend away.  It wasn’t uncommon for him to say, “I’m bored” or “This is boring.” I forgot how much entertainment a young child needs.  It makes me think about how boring and predictable our marriages can become.  So much of life is routine oriented, repeated each and every day like that old movie, Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray.

 

Then again, I also realize some of us prefer routine, it’s comfortable and safe for us.  Still others desire a change of routine, something new and exciting.  All too often the one is married to the other and I think it could be a God-ordained union. Each marriage needs the stability of a routine and each marriage needs pushed toward something new and exciting.

 

Recently Mary and I celebrated 44 years of marriage.  Quite honestly, there have been those
“long, flat roads” as author Gray Thomas puts it.  But it takes those to appreciate the new and exciting times in marriage.  We did a cruise for the first-time last year; that was new and exciting.  This year we went to San Diego for a “just us” vacation.  That was awesome.

 

But you know what? Most everything in between those times was typical routine for us and we loved that too.  Perhaps the key is to recognize, be aware of our long, flat stretches and then introduce something new and exciting in between.





9 Ways to Strengthen Your Marriage and Grow Older Together

13 05 2019

Over 44 years ago, Mary and I promised to never, ever use the “D” word when it came to our relationship – divorce.  We have kept that promise.  Along the way we have discovered there are a lot of things we can do as a couple to provide strength to the marriage relationship.

After eliminating the divorce word, decide to maintain honor in your relationship.  Honor is a hard word because none of us act honorably every day, at every moment.  Honor means to hold in high respect and worth and high public esteem.  To honor the marriage relationship is to place it before the children, your job and your ministry, but not before your God.  Love God first and then your closest neighbor, your spouse.

 

Keep giving each other space.  That means when she needs some alone time, do your best to help her make it happen.  If he needs a guy’s night out, help him plan it.  That “space” can help to recharge your batteries and who doesn’t want their life mate to return refreshed?

 

Share your financial expectations and maintain your budget.  Money can cause the biggest disagreements.  At least it did in our marriage.  All too often couples have differing money values, but a money date where we openly discuss our goals and look over our finances can really help the two of us to be on the same page.  Money dates could happen as often as weekly, but need to happen at least monthly.

 

Speaking of communication…never stop.  In fact, over communicate as often as you can.  You just can’t beat talking!  Taking a daily time, at least 20-30 minutes of time that is not interrupted by the children, the phone or the TV, is invaluable to your relationship.  It will keep you on the same page.  Whether it’s the kids schedules or your weekend plans communicate, communicate, communicate.

 

Be good to yourself and to one another.  Take care of yourself and your health.  Try to look good for one another.  I know, you have baby food on your sweatshirt and dog hair on your pants, but for heaven’s sake take the time to clean up a bit, have dinner together once in a while and share words of appreciation and encouragement. It will go miles in your relationship. This also means prioritizing dating your spouse.  Dress up, get a babysitter and spend time together laughing and having fun.  The investment is worth any cost because the return is incalculable.

 

Give each other room for failure.  Failing is a part of life and through it we often learn what doesn’t work.  I fail, you fail, we all fail.  Stop being so hard on the other person, acting as though you don’t fail.  When we give room for failure, we are showing good will and giving one another the benefit of the doubt.  Walk and talk through it and then forgive. Forgive quickly. Forgiveness is medicinal and we are both desperately in need of it.  Forgive as you have been forgiven.

 

Refuse to allow sexual intimacy to be stolen from you.  It’s yours and yours only. While frequency may decrease and children make it challenging, do not lose it.  Create a schedule if you have to and maintain it.  Nothing removes the “little foxes,” those growing annoyances, like love-making and nothing keeps passion alive like sexual intimacy.  Make a promise to yourself, to one another and to the God who gave this gift to you to never let it go.  You are one and sexual intimacy reinforces your oneness.

 

The glue that holds all this together?  Prayer.  Learn to pray together.  There is no better way to communicate, resolve issues, gain wisdom or “cast your care” than to pray together.  You will find the intimacy you have only dreamed of if you’ll pray together.  You will discover answers to lifelong problems, to long-term financial disagreements, to present frustrations and to future visions and goals.  Prayer is intimacy of the highest degree in marriage as together we reveal our hearts’ desires to God and to one another.

 

Lastly, seek the wisdom of others as needed.  None of us can go it alone.  We need mentors: older, wiser married couples in our lives.  We need a local church that provides teaching for our family and causes us to look beyond ourselves and to the mission of helping others.  We need those who will challenge us to be better parents, lovers, friends, employees, business owners and servants.

Read through this blog together, discuss it and then ask your life mate how the two of you are doing in the above areas.





Seven Benefits of Praying Couples

8 04 2019

My wife and I have found a place of intimacy that far exceeds any level of intimacy within a marriage through our connecting in prayer.  We have made this a priority for many years and have grown our marriage in numerous ways through the vulnerability of prayer together.  Here are seven benefits that we have identified from praying together.

  1. When we pray, we find agreement with God and with one another. Agreement is far more powerful, life-giving and life changing than disagreement.
  2. Through prayer together we are not so self-focused, but rather, we are focused on God, one another and the needs of those we are praying for.
  3. We are recognizing our need to trust outside ourselves. We are realizing we cannot provide all the needs or answers.  We are humbling ourself to say, we need God.  Prayer reminds us and our family that God IS our source.
  4. Prayer helps us to grow in grace and patience. We learn to wait on God.  We also learn to confess our needs, brokenness and vulnerability. We, before God, recognize our need for forgiveness.
  5. We communicate our life issues when we pray and that helps us to hear out loud those needs. We pray what is on our heart and when we hear one another’s heart, we know what deeply touches us and concerns us.
  6. Prayer changes us as we learn to listen to God. It changes us financially, emotionally, mentally and sexually.  In all ways we are changed as we reach out to and then hear God’s still small voice.  Our hearts and our minds are transformed through prayer and we experience a greater level of oneness.
  7. Praying together increases our intimacy. As intimacy increases our trust levels increase and as our trust levels increase, our strength and bond together grows stronger.

Helping you to start your prayer trek

  • Purchase a devotional book, read and then pray.
  • Take turns praying/reading.
  • Start small or brief and grow your time.
  • Find a specific focus and pray.
  • Walk your neighborhood and pray.

  • Pray together with your children teaching them to pray.
  • Pray in the car when there is a lull in the conversation.
  • Pray when one of you or your children are not feeling well.
  • Pray with thanksgiving to God repeatedly.
  • Bless one another in prayer.  Bless one another’s day, workplace, etc.
  • Ask your spouse how you can pray for them.




See You Later, Snowy

25 03 2019

He showed up one day at my high school.  A couple of my friends and I began to pepper him with questions. “Where are you from?  What’s your name? Why did your family move here?”

 

He just moved to my home town from Alaska and we, without hesitation, nicknamed him “Snowy.”  It stuck.

 

Snowy was quiet, but strong. He helped to begin the soccer program at our school.  He was a wrestler and a talented gymnast.  His specialties were the rings and the high bar.  Snowy could do anything athletically.

 

In his junior and senior years of high school he entered the mechanics classes at the local vo-tech school and excelled.  He could take an engine or a transmission apart and actually put it back together working properly.  How?  No one really knew.  He just could.

 

After high school he entered the Army.  It was there that he lost himself.  Southeast Asia was not good to Snowy and I lost touch with him for a season.  He did things in those years that damaged his body and his mind.

 

Some years after his military service, being married, having a daughter, being divorced, having another daughter and walking in deep depression, Snowy resurfaced.  He allowed me back into his life.  I was thrilled.  We had so much to catch up on.  And we did.

 

Snowy bowed his knee to Jesus and a brand-new relationship began between us.  He allowed me to disciple him and then the request came to water baptize him.  His pastor told me the tradition in their church was to baptize two times backward and one time forward and then he said, “Are you okay with that?”  I told him if I had the honor to baptize my friend in his church’s baptismal pool, I would do it standing on my head.

 

What a day…the washing away of the old and the receiving of a new life.

 

Another close friend was general manager at a Christian theater and he expressed that he was desiring to hire a person with a long list of multiple talents.  I remember telling him what he wanted in one single employee was impossible, but I knew just the guy – Snowy.

 

He was an engineering genius for them, minus the engineering degree.  His handprints were on many of the intricate, technical designs and creations needed for the hydraulic and pneumatic props.

 

He worked there until he became disabled.  The pain in his body was taking a toll and he found himself no longer able to physically meet the demands of the job.  His body quickly went backwards and pain killers became part of his daily routine.

 

Those forthcoming years would be hard, filled with pain and regression and an inability to meet all of his financial obligations.  I went to his tool sale at a garage he had rented on the side.  I watched him sit and eye every well used tool he once held and fixed things with being sold. With each tool purchased by a new owner, it was like another piece of him went out the door.  He knew he would never again find the emotionally and mentally satisfying repair work coming from his gifted hands and creative mind.  Something died in him that day and I saw a different Snowy clutching onto his wooden cane.

 

Snowy gave up; he stopped fighting and he was barely living.  He would reach out with his needs.  We would reach out to him to join us for holiday meals.  Most times he came, but some days he hurt so badly he couldn’t leave his small, two-room apartment.

 

The message from his daughter was a dreaded, albeit, somewhat expected one.  Snowy’s lifeless body was found in his apartment just days earlier. He was no longer answering his calls or sending me text messages.  Snowy was gone and with his Savior.  Too young and way too early.

 

I miss him.  I miss his offhanded, but witty remarks.  I’m going to miss our regular breakfast meetings where he always told the waitress, “Scramble my eggs hard…kill ‘em.”

 

Along with the Patriot Guard, I have had the privilege and honor of serving Snowy and his family by ministering at his full military memorial service.  It was a final opportunity to bless this man who came from Alaska just to be my forever close friend.  Thank you, Snowy, for the laughs, the rides to the beach in your amazingly fast Mustang, hanging out at your garage, the many spiritual discussions and our many, but not enough, breakfast meetings.

 

One thing I will never say to you, my life-long friend, is “Goodbye.”  What I will say is, “See you later, Snowy.”





Crying, It Does a Marriage Good

11 03 2019

My wife cries.  My eyes sweat.  There is a difference!

 

A sad movie, a sad story, repeating a sad story or re-watching a sad movie – my wife cries.

 

My eyes sweat during those times.  I have no idea what comes over me…feelings, I’m guessing.

 

Did you know that God collects our tears? Psalm 56 reveals, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle.  You have recorded each one in your book.”

 

Tears are actually a chemical wash to your eyes.  They are designed to help you feel better after a good cry because those chemicals cause a euphoria, so to speak, that helps to release emotion.  In that respect, it’s a healthy response or outlet. Tears have medicinal purpose because God made them that way.

 

So the next time your wife cries and/or your eyes sweat, let it happen; let it out and encourage your spouse to do the same.  Give one another permission to cry and do not attempt to rush in and fix the problem. Maybe all that is needed is a good cry or profuse sweating…whichever the case.





What a Group of Married Couples Recommend for Your Marriage

25 02 2019

Recently my wife and I had the privilege of spending a weekend with some young married couples on a retreat. Amidst our time together, we desired to ask them a question.  That question went something like this: If you were given the chance to share with a younger couple just entering into marriage, what advice would you pass on to them?  What follows is some of the excellent input we were given.

 

  • Pick your battles by asking yourself if it’s worth the possibility of an argument?
  • Pray about the area that is bothering you before jumping into it with your spouse.
  • Lay down your single routines in order to pick up your couple routines.
  • Communicate your expectations in multiple ways.
  • Give one another extra measures of grace, knowing you both need it.
  • Learn one another’s communication style by learning one another’s love languages.
  • Over communicate.
  • Engage in some form of mentorship.
  • Keep dealing with the areas of needed change in your life and take ownership for your issues.
  • Forgive quickly.
  • Get into the habit of praying together.
  • And always, each and every day, put God first.

 

Pretty sound advice from those with a few years of marriage under their belt.








%d bloggers like this: