Category Archives: Relationships

Even though _______________, I will have joy!

Is life challenging for you today?  Not necessarily in a bad way.  Life can feel heavy whether we are facing unfortunate things or really great things.

smile

The Lord recently led me to this passage during our church staff prayer time.  At the time it seemed kind of random.  Then it appeared again two days later in a devotional book I had not picked up in a while.  I’ve learned over the years that when things like that happen it’s more likely to be God trying to get our attention than simply irony.  So I felt I should write about it.

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
and the cattle barns are empty,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
The Sovereign Lord is my strength!     – Habakkuk 3:17-19  (NLT)

Do you see how many times the author says, “Even though?”   3 times.

Even though (insert negative situation)….YET I will rejoice in the Lord!

I wanted to share mine with you today.

“Even though God is calling me to something overwhelming…..”

“Even though I find myself falling short at home, work, and in my health…..”

“Even though despite my best efforts, I cannot seem to get caught up…..”

In the midst of all that, YET I WILL REJOICE!

I’m sharing this to be authentic, hoping it might encourage others.  Now it’s your turn.  Take a minute to complete 3 of these for your self.  “Even though __________________________

So…if you are feeling overwhelmed by either horrible or great things today, let me encourage you.  Our God is our strength!  Period.  End of story.  Our circumstances are always changing.  God, however, does not.

Leave me a comment below.

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22 Reasons I Love My Wife

happy anniversary

My amazing wife and I have been married for 22 years!  This post is dedicated to her, so I’ve listed 22 reasons (not a complete list) I love her so much.  Are you ready?

1. Her relentless love for me.

2. Her deep inner beauty.

3. Her overwhelming outer beauty.  (you’re hot, baby!)

4. She’s very intelligent & loves learning.

5. She holds me accountable.

6. Her unconditional faith in Christ.

7. Her adorable love for quiet time on the couch in PJs while enjoying ice-cold Coke.

8. She’s great with numbers and budgets…..I’m not.

9. Her immense passion for the wellbeing of others.

10. She’s as much of a coffee snob as I am.

11. She’s the perfect life partner for me.

12. She’s a very caring and loving mother.

13. She speaks the truth lovingly.

14. My family loves her.

15. She challenges me to be a better dad.

16. We share a determination for physical fitness.

17. She makes the best home-made beef stew & lasagna on the planet…..really.

18. She always encourages me in my job.

19. She’s tolerant when I’m sick and whiny.

20. She’s patient with my flaws….and there are many.

21. She practices healthy self-leadership.

22. She simply enjoys life!

Now I have a challenge for you.  Can you list a reason you love your spouse for every year you’ve been married?

Love is patient and kind.  Love is not jealous or boastful or proud  or rude.  It does not demand its own way.  It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.         1 Corinthians 13:4-7  (NLT)

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3 tips for a meaningful devotional time

I was eating at Panda Express recently (while on a Sabbatical) and noticed a couple eating lunch together but not saying a word to one another. I couldn’t help wondering about their situation. Is their relationship so bland and boring that they have nothing at all to talk about? Are they simply too exhausted to interact (btw, this was lunch time)?  Do either of them desire to continue developing their relationship, or are they content with ‘good enough?’

I think that we can often  come to God in our quiet time the same way. I know I do.  We come, sit in His presence, and maybe even engage in reading some of the Bible. But we really aren’t interacting with Him.  This was what went through my mind as I observed (judged) this couple.

Wait, I’ve done this.  I’ve sat down with Jesus and looked like this couple.

So I got to thinking.  How can this be prevented?

1.  Be intentional – Awareness is always the first step to better.  So be intentional with your quiet time.  Avoid simply reading quickly through a few verses and praying the Lord’s Prayer without any connectedness.  Desire true fellowship with God in these moments.  Pray for it at the beginning before you even start.

2.  Make eye contact – Seriously.  Envision yourself looking into the vary face of Jesus when you are praying.  This makes it so much more personal.  Doing this also virtually illiminates all ‘surfacy’ talk with Him.  It’s hard to look into His eyes and ask Him to bless us with an ‘A’ on a semester final that we didn’t study for without literally seeing Him laugh at us!  See what I mean?  Try this sometime.

3.  Communicate – This involves both talking and listening.  Sure, there are times when we need to simply poor our hearts out to him.  He’s  loving and compassionate.  He can and will take our verbal, all-about-me vomit.  But don’t forget that He longs to talk to us as well.  Sometimes He just wants us to listen.  These are rich moments because He usually has something HUGE  to share.  Other times are meant for dialogue.  He talks to you…and you talk to Him.  Cherish these moments.

Remain in me, and I will remain in you.  John 15:4

What would you add to this list?

What has been your experience on this subject?  Comment below or leave a voicemail.

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‘UNsocial’ Media

photo by: erelations.info

photo by: erelations.info

According to Reuters, people are getting more rude and cutting relationships short on social media.

It was a good article, but……Duh!  Haven’t we all noticed this?

It’s not just teens who are breaking up with their boyfriends and girlfriends,  married adults are now leaning on Facebook and Twitter to hash out their arguements throughout the day.

So what’s the problem?

Whether online or via texting, anything short of ‘physical’ conversations dealing with conflict resolution is simply ineffective.  Tone of voice, facial expressions, pauses, emotions, etc. are all completely lost.  These are absolutely critical when communicating important relational matters.  We may type or text one thing, but it is interpreted in a completely different way.  We can take things online completely the wrong way, when most relational mishaps could probably be avoided entirely by simply waiting to talk it out in person.

The best part about this article was the last sentence, urging people to take their highly emotional conversations off-line.  Face to face discussions are always the best!

Do you agree?  What have been your experiences?

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Humanity in unity…while very separate

Equality– Gay rights / marriage equality

– Abortion

– Legalized marijuana 

– Gun ownership

– War v. Peace

– Immigration

– Super-sizing your Coke

…and the list goes on!

I’m writing this to all Christian believers, but also for all who have seen only judgement, hypocrisy, hate, and separation in those of us who call ourselves Christians.  

For dedicated Christians, the Bible is believed to be the ‘inspired Word of God’ to all of humanity.  That said, we aspire to live our lives according to its guidance.  It’s simply called Faith.

HOWEVER!

The Bible should not (and was not meant to be) a solid brick wall that separates Christians and non-Christians. Quite the opposite.

Lately, the marriage equality symbol (above) has been representing social media profile pics.  Hey….it’s America.  Freedom of speech.  But let us not allow these kinds of statements be something that further separates us as a society.

Will I be taking this symbol as my profile pic? No.  I do not believe that same-sex marriage is God’s intended best for His people.  BUT, I also have no problem simply doing life in general with those who do.  Agreeing to disagree, yet holding polor opposite views on major issues, does not translate to me trying to force my beliefs on anyone.

Even if you don’t believe in any validity in the Bible, I ask that you at least take a look at how it tells us (believers) to posture our lives around everyone.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.  Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.   Ephesians 4:31-32

This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.    John 15:12

Don’t rejoice when your enemies fall;  don’t be happy when they stumble.   Proverbs 24:17

Never pay back evil with more evil.  Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable.  Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.   Romans 12:171-8

Three things will last forever — faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.   1 Corinthians 13:13
So, to all the Christians:  It is possible to love and do life with those who share a much different lifestyle than us, while NOT compromising our faith and the standard of living put before us in the Bible.  For Christians to continue separating themselves from the non-believing world around us is to be simply rejecting the scriptures listed above.  We don’t have the privilege of picking and choosing what we like and don’t like in the Bible.  It’s not a social issues buffet!
And to the non-Christian community…I ask this.  Simply do not place all of us (Christians) in one generic category of legalistic, hyper-religious preachers.  Try entering into discussion on these topics with us.  Attempt doing life side by side with us.  Some may pleasantly suprise you!
Comments are welcome!

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“I want my nap!”

photo by:  ©iStockphoto.com/sturti

photo by: ©iStockphoto.com/sturti

“I need a nap more than my workout today.”

Translated…”I want a nap more than anything else right now!”  (said with an ever so slight whine)

This was my Friday afternoon.  A 6:30 am meeting at work began my day, followed by a full day of work and running errands around town.  By 2:30, I had hit that ‘brick wall’ and my brain literally began to shut down.  So, I told my wife that I’d probably not go to the gym with her and grab me a nap instead.  Understand, we have been working out together 6 days a week since the first of January (2013).  She didn’t really give me a choice.  She said, “Oh, no…you’re going to workout today.  And you’ll thank me later.”

Well, I went.  I exercised.  And I did not get my nap.

BUT…

…I did thank my wife!

Afterward, I felt a new energy and alertness.  I was so glad she challenged me.

There is a lot to be said for having accountability built in to our life.  Even if it takes someone you love telling you that your priorities are unaligned.

So encourage each other and build each other up…    1 Thessalonians 5:11a

Question:  What priorities of yours are out of order?  Or…who do you need to encourage to stay on track today?

 

 

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‘Joy to the world’…but my home is in chaos!

“Listen up! We’re going to decorate the Christmas tree as a family tonight whether you like it or not.  So change your attitude or I’m gonna wipe that grimacing frown off your face with this beautiful sheet of Angel Hair!”

Admit it, these words (or very similar) have flown our of your mouth from the deep innards of your holiday soul before.  It happens to the best of us.  Somehow, forced holiday cheer (which is a pretty weird oxymoron) has become the December-norm in America.

It’s like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in these moments of tradition.  Come to think of it…haven’t we all made this aggression and chaos part of our tradition?  Like it or not, we have come to fully expect arguing about whose turn it is to place the angel on the tree, what Christmas movie favorite the family will watch, or who draws whose name to buy Christmas gifts this year.

The fact is….Holiday time is stressful.  We’re preparing to host or visit family (some we may not care to see), budget for purchasing gifts, planning a time to shop for a gift they won’t return, etc.  All the while, conducting our daily life routine has to continue.  It’s no wonder that on January 1st many of us resolve to enjoy a better, happier coming year.

Yet…..there is hope!

Let me offer 3 holiday tips.  They won’t necessarily lead you to wearing smaller clothes in January, but they just might help you survive (and even have Joy) this December.  Here you go!

Lower your standards – That’s right!  Chances are, people around you are not expecting the same level of excellence out of you that you are of yourself.  Implement a more care-free approach to all your shopping, cleaning, cooking, and planning…and that long lost smile might fall back into place.

Take hold of your relationships – If you are like most typical Americans, you most likely have at least one person in your family (usually more than one) you dread to see at family get-togethers.  This doesn’t mean that either of you are horrible people to be around.  Because of our differences, some people are easier to do life with than others.  For this tip, read Boundaries.  Next, apply it.  Period!

Expect the worst to happen – Look, simply come to the realization that tree ornaments are going to get broken, Aunt Betsy is going to publicly critique your cooking, the dog will pass gas under the diner table (during Grace), and your work is going to go unappreciated.  Expect all of this to happen.  Then, when some of it doesn’t….you will smile!  Life will be good once again.

Questions…comments…or simply want to share your tradition of stressful holiday bliss?  Please comment below.

But seriously….have a Merry Christmas.  “Christ is born!”

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