Challenge, Encouragement, Healing

How to Ruin a Relationship

Everyday people ruin good relationships by trying to collect a debt. Someone hurts us and we long for justice. We are looking for a payback, but we’re attempting to collect on a debt that is not ours to collect on. It is clearly human nature to desire a wrong be made into a right and that we be seen as the one in the right.

Who can pay you back for the wrong done to you over the course of your life? Can your parents? Can your spouse? Can your co-worker? It is not always possible and most times you will be disappointed or let down. Eventually a relationship is ruined by our expectation.

But what if we handed the injustice over to God? What if we prayed and said, “I choose to not become bitter or strive for justice, but rather I lay the injustice at Your feet and ask You to settle the matter.” And then, in leaving it with God, we let the person off the hook.

If we’re truly humble and allow God to settle the matter, our imagination can stop running wild with thoughts of retribution. We can tell ourself there is no need of payback. Further, we can choose for this relationship to remain intact and stop expecting what we perceive to be a wrong turned into a right by our personal effort.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)

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Challenge, Encouragement, Just for fun

Are There More Grains of Sand or More Stars?

What are you thinking? Are there more grains of sand on every beach, in every desert or are there more stars in the heavens?

The University of Hawaii wanted to find the answer to how may grains of sand are actually on the earth today. They counted those grains found within a teaspoonful and then multiplied that by all the beaches and deserts in the world. The number? Their very rough guess was seven quintillion, five hundred quadrillion grains.

When you look into the heavens you can possibly see several thousand stars. But the Hubble telescope can count even distant galaxies of stars. Due to this it is estimated as of 2003 there are 70 thousand million, million, million stars that are observable within the universe. This means there are multiple stars for every grain of sand.*

Now check this out: “How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand…” (Psalms 139: 17, 18) And this: “He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.” (Psalms 147:4)

I am not sure if that gives you goose bumps but it does me. God’s thoughts about me and you outnumber the grains of sand! And God, the creator of each and every star has named them all. I am overwhelmed by the thought of His love, His thoughts toward me. I am so secure in that love and His thoughts toward me. 

Thank you, heavenly Father, for your love and thoughts that outnumber the grains of sand and the stars in the heavens for mankind who You love with an everlasting love!

*WITF Krulwich Wonders, David Blatner author of the book Spectrums.

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Challenge, Issues of the Day, Marriage, Men, Postmarital, Women

Does Money and Marriage Mix?

Recently I came across a survey initiated by Fidelity Financial of 1,700 couples.* The purpose of the survey was to discover money matters and how well married couples are agreeing with their financial picture. Surprisingly, 71% said they communicate about financial matters very well and 61% said they talk about their finances at least once per month. That’s good news. 

However, one in five couples revealed that money is their greatest relationship challenge. And, two in five shared how they argue about money with their spouse occasionally. One in four stated they are all too often frustrated with their spouse’s money habits but choose to not confront it in order to maintain peace.

So, what were some of those highlighted disagreements?

  • Over 50% disagree about how much savings is needed. 
  • Forty percent disagree about the level of risk to take with investments.
  • Thirty four percent disagree about who is the “spender” and who is the “saver.”
  • One third disagreed about their families next large expenditure.

The most challenging stat from this survey for me came when it was revealed that only 50% of couples make financial decisions jointly with their husband or wife. I simply cannot imagine making money decisions without consulting one another, without honoring the other and without a prayerful process of discloser and input. Disagreement about finances is so often at the center of spousal disagreement and disagreement is a powerful weapon that eventually hurts both parties, not to mention also affecting the children.

My wife and I suffered from the marriage money mix. I thought she was a “spender” and she thought I was a “tight wad.” We accepted those terms as who we were or how we saw one another, but in time and with better discernment discovered that we were both wrong. We desperately needed each other’s view of finance, but we also desperately needed to find agreement.

I was wrong as I discovered that my wife was not a spender but rather a “giver.” She discovered that I was not a tight wad as much as I was saving for our future dreams, an “investor.” We discovered that we were both right and when we found agreement, we found peace in the mix of our money matters. We discovered that we each needed the others input and view of finance.

Do not allow financial disagreement to spread in your marriage. Get on a livable, agreeable budget. Discover the needs that you are each trying to meet in the midst of your disagreement. Pray about your finances together. If necessary, seek counsel and do not keep putting it off.

When we kick the financial disagreement can down the road we will discover mistrust entering into the equation. Where there is a lack of trust, there will be a deeper marital issue to deal with.

There are 2,350 verses in the Bible that speak to the issue of finance. Apparently God knew we needed extra counsel in this area of our lives. Here are just two of those amazing verses:

The greedy bring ruin to their households, but the one who hates bribes will live. (Proverbs 15:27)

Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow. (Proverbs 13:11)

*From the Sound Mind Investing newsletter, 9.13.21

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Challenge, Encouragement, Issues of the Day

An Appropriate Use of Social Media

Yes, I am on social media and, yes, I have often thought of removing myself. I especially find it difficult in election years and quite honestly, I tire of the bickering, name calling and strongly opinionated responses that people write. I have rarely “unfriended” someone, but am often tempted to do more of it.

Further, when the largest corporations in the world (social media outlets) and their owners are regularly testifying (justifying really) about their practices in Washington, DC and when they can dictate what “hate speech” is or is not, there are even more reasons to leave them behind.

Today I am forced to think about what I believe to be truth, recognizing that some individual who does not hold my values works for one of these giants and deems me unfit to offer that truth on their social media platform. It’s a new day and one that I would have never seen coming.

Here are a few reasons that I think are unacceptable practices when using social media.

  • To use a social platform to destroy, attack or assassinate another human being.
  • To continually exalt only yourself.
  • To spread gossip.
  • To only post partisan politics and never post the good from “the other side” or the wrong from your side.
  • To not speak honorably toward those who think and see things differently than you do.
  • To be involved in any form of speech that you would not use face-to-face with someone.
  • To make sweeping characterizations of a specific group of people you do not agree with.
  • To write or make inferences that are hurtful or harmful to another individual or group.
  • To speak critical heart judgments of persons you do not personally know or have not heard their side in the matter.
  • To pass something on to others that you cannot verify as truth.
  • To assume you know and everyone else is clueless.
  • To write something that could affect your employment or future employment.
  • To divulge any form of confidentiality.
  • To be unwilling to post a retraction when you need to.
  • To be unwilling to apologize to your readers when you are wrong about something you’ve written.
  • To become angry and to respond in anger when criticized by a reader.

I have made some of these mistakes and have been thankful when someone lovingly lends correction. Save yourself some future issues and police your social media use. Remember, whatever seeds you sow you will also reap.

Consider this very wise advice from a man named Paul:

And never let ugly or hateful words come from your mouth, but instead let your words become beautiful gifts that encourage others; do this by speaking words of grace to help them…So never grieve the Spirit…or take for granted his holy influence in your life. Lay aside bitter words, temper tantrums, revenge, profanity, and insults. But instead be kind and affectionate toward one another. Has God graciously forgiven you? Then graciously forgive one another…. 

(Ephesians 4: 29 – 32 TPT)

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Encouragement, Marriage, Men, Postmarital, Women

Celebrating Your Differences

How are you and your spouse different in relational style, emotionally, in finance, in goal setting and/or in your love language? If you’re married any length of time, you most likely know the differences and have arrived at a place of comfort in those differences or you’re still fighting over them.

Early on in our marriage we discovered that Mary, my wife, liked going to bed early and I liked going to bed later. She’d rather avoid conflict and I’d rather deal with it as soon as possible. She is a giver and I am an investor with our finances. You get the idea. 

We married because we had so much in common, but soon thereafter we discovered that each of us see, think and speak differently. So, is that the problem? Yes, if you think your spouse should be more like you. No, if you realize your spouse is what you are not and you are what they are not. In other words, together you bring a more complete picture.

Within five to seven years each marriage should experience a “settling.” That is to say, I accept you for who you are and realize, embrace and enjoy the differences. It’s up to us to make use of those differences for our greater good, a greater level of wholeness and a more complete us. Marriages that settle into maturity stop trying to change each other and accept the quirks, the nuances, the different views and approaches. We are not the same, however; we are united and in agreement as one. We need what our spouse brings to us and they need what we bring.

Stop trying to change your spouse. Work on being the best you can be and give grace for change over time. Realize that as you embrace personal change so will your spouse.

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Challenge, Encouragement, Issues of the Day, Just for fun

How to Know You’re Aging Well

I love getting older. I am no longer in my mid-sixties, but have crossed that line. People initiate conversation with “older” people. That’s nice. Older individuals can get away with more because, well…they’re older. When I do something stupid, there seems to be more grace offered since I am older. 

But with age comes wisdom. The book of Proverbs states, “…the gray hair of experience is the spender of the old.” (20:29) Splendor sure sounds positive! Here are four observations that I have made about life at this age. I hope they give you something to look forward to.

  1. You will recognize a greater level of self-awareness. The older I become, the less I obsess about myself (disappearing hair, style, shaving, etc.) and find more joy in being other-centered. 
  2. You require less control. I find that I more readily admit that I don’t know something and feel okay about it. I am no longer proving myself to others.
  3. We walk in a deeper level of trust with God and realize we don’t always need to know what He’s up to or why He’s taking so long with His answer. I am more settled, more relaxed and more able to wait with a deeper level of patience.
  4. We recognize the need for a greater level of separation or detachment. We work, rest and play smarter. Detachment is no longer avoiding something that I should be doing. Detaching is recognized as healthy.

There you have it; four simple observations. Oh, and one more verse from wise King Solomon, “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life.” (16:31)

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Children, Encouragement, History, Parents

The Effects of Love

Harry Harlow, ever heard of him? He was a psychologist who studied the nature of human love and affection by using monkeys. His experiments were labeled controversial and any attempt to measure and quantify the need for love and affection during the behaviorist movement of the 1950’s and 60’s was, supposedly, not science. * 

It was a time when many psychologists thought showing affection and love to children had no real purpose and might even be considered dangerous. But Harlow set out to prove the powerful effects of love as well as the absence of love.

How did he do it? His most famous experiment involved a mother monkey made of wire and another made of soft terrycloth. Infant monkeys, raised by these two surrogate “mothers,” had the wire mother provide needed food while the soft, terrycloth mother provided no nourishment. The result? The infant monkeys went to the wire mother for food, but preferred to spend their time with the soft, comforting mother when not eating. Harlow concluded that the need for affection was instrumental to the need for closeness and security.

This important and rather cruel research provided significant changes to how orphanages, adoption agencies and child care providers cared for children and their needs. What a powerful study on the nature of love, affection and nurture for the human spirit. We can endure a lot, but apparently we cannot endure the lack of love, of meaningful touch, affection and the security that touches the human soul. 

Who do you need to love today? Who needs your warm touch? 

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

*www.Verywell mind.com, Harry Harlow and the Nature of Affection, by Kendra Cherry, December 12, 20

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Challenge, Children, Encouragement, Marriage, Men, Parents, Women

Being a Dad and a Mom and Taking Advantage of a Long Weekend

My wife and I loved watching our kids grow up. We didn’t experience the “terrible two’s,” but rather chose to enjoy the terrific twos. We never believed a child needed to be rebellious in their teenage years. We expected something different and prayed accordingly. We did our best to instill God’s love and truths into their spirits and prayed nightly with them as they laid their heads on their pillows. We broke up sibling fights and did our best to keep boredom from settling in.

We took our children on mission trips around the world, taught them to save their hard-earned money and to tithe. We enjoyed a devotional time together many evenings and loved to leave them in charge of teaching us some spiritual lesson they learned. 

We gathered for meals around our table and discussed our day. It was open conversation time and we specialized in laughing together. Their friends were always welcomed to our home or on our family vacation to the beach, especially in those awkward teen years when they really needed a friend. We included their friends into our family and did our best to be welcoming and hospitable. 

Quite often we had guests staying with us or around our table and we learned to serve and listen to others. On occasion we would travel to Philadelphia and do outreaches to the homeless and we visited our local mission, as well as the very alone elderly in assisted living facilities without visitors.

The children loved their grandparents and we knew relationships were solid when they came home and said, “Grandpa rules.” Being with and influenced by an older generation is advantageous in developing a culture of honor and respect within the lives of our children.

Get crazy and enjoy a good old fashion mud battle with your kids!

Traveling to the mountains together was a regular routine where we would sleep in an uncomfortable rustic cabin, fishing, swimming and playing in the crystal-clear creek. We hunted crayfish, caught lightning bugs and ate lots of yummy food made on a campfire. 

Our home was never a perfect one because it was filled with imperfect persons, but family is what mattered. Now our children have children of their own. Will they go and do likewise? I know so. Family is God’s idea, always was. This Labor Day weekend while you are not laboring, your family is just waiting for time together to build relationship. Go and build memories that will last a lifetime which will then be handed down to their children’s children.

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Challenge, Encouragement, Prayer

One of the Quietest Places in the World

Have you ever heard of the National Radio Quiet Zone? The United States designated a radio quiet zone in which any radio transmission is heavily restricted by law covering a land mass of 13,000 square miles in 1956. This quiet zone contains the largest, fully-steerable radio telescope in the world. It’s located in Green Bank, West Virginia.

 

The dish alone is larger than a football field. This telescope can capture infinitesimal signals from space. The government prohibits the use of cell phones, cordless phones, Wi-Fi, microwaves and wireless speakers within a ten-mile radius that could cause any interference with radio observations. This “quiet” allows scientists to “hear” and to listen for any noise from outer space.

 

Where is your intentional “quiet space?” How do you quiet yourself so you can hear and listen to the voice of the One who created our universe? There are so many voices that require our daily attention, but there is One we must hear.

 

In Job 33, God said to Job, “Pay attention and listen to me; be silent…and I will speak.” There is a time for speaking our petitions and there is a time to listen. When we position ourselves to listen, we position ourselves to hear direction, to receive wisdom and to feel loved.

 

There are more than enough distractions in our lives today. Renew in your heart to allow your heavenly Father undistracted and unrestricted access and time by turning off those devices, reading His word and listening to Him. You will not regret one minute of it and neither will He.

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Healing, Marriage, Men, Women

Affairproofing Your Marriage (Part Two)

This week’s blog continues with the healing piece of infractions within our marriage. 

What can you do as a couple if you have walked the way of an affair?

You must walk in honest confession and humility. Humility keeps you from becoming defensive and blaming another.

Accountability is a huge ingredient because marriage infractions always take place in an environment of deception. Those in an affair have been lying about where they have been and who they have been with.

Get outside counsel and direction.  Do not try to do it all yourself. Both parties, the offender and the offended, need godly wisdom and counsel.  There are a ton of emotions to deal with.

You must work toward forgiveness. There is no greater step of healing than reaching the point of forgiveness.

Trust is slowly rebuilt through the above ingredients. Where there has been an affair, one proves he or she cannot be trusted.  The good news is that trust can be earned back. If one walks out the above, trust can and will be rebuilt to the point that your marriage goes beyond where it once was.  

Reattach yourself to your mate.  Most likely you have moved away from one another in some areas of your relationship. Come together again in dating, in fun, in finances, in sex, in communication, in mutual submission, in serving one another, in forgiveness and in godly counsel.  

You simply must move forward. Moving forward means being totally honest in all areas of life.  Honesty cuts off an affair because an affair was built on lies.

As husband and wife, we are one another’s healer.

Who do men want cheering for them?  Men love women, especially their wives, cheering for them. Women’s cheering section includes love and emotional connection with words of meaning from thier husbands. What has been the missing ingredient in your marriage? What was broken that opened the door for an affair? How were you “affairing” before the actual affair, i.e., work, ministry, hobbies, etc.

Be your spouse’s cheerleader and healer, not their critic. Each of us receives enough criticism throughout our lives without our spouse piling it on.  If you have a legitimate complaint, share it with them.  For example, “I know you didn’t mean it the way I took it, I love you, but when you said __________it really felt to me like _________. I know I could be wrong, but could we _________.”  

Do this through Ephesians 4: 15 – “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.”  Truth must be given but grace its means.  Truth without grace is just mean.  Truth without grace will eventually destroy love.  Start with praise (grace), a compliment and then move to the needed growth areas.  For example, “I love you; we’re a team. I know you’re busy, but I do need to talk to you about the time you spend with our children.”  Grace must precede truth.  Grace is like anesthesia given in order to bear the truth.  

An affair is not necessarily the end; it can be a wake-up call to needed healing and restoration.

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