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

I Won My Court Case!

Today I received email notice that I won my class action law suit! Wow, what a relief. I have been waiting for years for this case to come to a close. I think I actually gave up hearing any good news about this suit several years ago. 

Let me be more specific. I won a case against none other than that huge behemoth of a company, Apple and their optical disc drive unit in which apparently they overcharged or some such thing like that. It’s been so long I forget the original intent of the suit and exactly what the manufacturer did wrong. So, that said, I want all my readers to know I am going to the bank with the check and then thinking about how to invest it. I do want a return for all my pain and suffering.  

So, what to do with this sum of money? I could almost buy a value meal at McDonalds. I could buy a bit more than a gallon of gas. Or, I could go crazy and go on a vacation to my neighbor’s back yard and his nightly fireside R & R. 

You’re getting the picture I think. I generously received a whopping settlement of $7.61. I know, unbelievable after being named in this suit and waiting for years. But, hey, seven dollars is seven dollars, right?

Now for my point, because I sure hope there’s a point to this. Proverbs reminds us, “The greedy stir up conflict, but those who trust in the Lord will prosper.” My trust was not in the lawsuit. For one, I’ve been in this position before and realized no compensation. But mostly because greed is looking for a return with little to no investment for the sole purpose of self-consumption. The greedy bring conflict upon themselves while those whose trust is in God will prosper. 

Trust your heavenly Father and prosper!

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Challenge, Children, Encouragement, Just for fun

Finding a Camera with Sixty-Year-Old Film in It

While my wife was cleaning out our attic, among tha many boxes (some that were not opened since moving from our first apratment) she came across an old Kodak camera that was mine when I was a young child. Fiddling around with it, I opened the film compartment and discovered a roll of finished film still in place. It had been waiting to be developed for 60 years!

At first I thought I would throw it away knowing it had been exposed to extreme cold and heat in our attic. But then my curiosity got the best of me and my wife and I decided to take it to the local drug store who told us they could in fact develop the film. 

Two weeks later and $18.00 less in my checking account, exactly eight pictures survived. Can you believe it? I was astounded.

They were black and white. There were several pictures of my Collie dog, Lady, and an unnamed cat. There was a picture of my mother on the phone located in our kitchen. It was an old-style black phone connected to a “party line.” (Meaning multiple parties were on the same phone line and if one party was talking you could not use your phone to make your call until they hung up.) 

There was a picture of my neighbor who was younger than me. And there was a picture of our camper trailer parked in a campground somewhere in Pennsylvania. 

I began to think about finding that film and what has transpired since those photos were taken by me as a very young boy. I thought about:

-All of the time that has transpired since those pictures were taken (six decades) and where life has taken me.

-How my heavenly Father has protected me, walked with me, blessed me and provided for me.

-How He has worked in my family since I received my Savior at age 17.

But, my most profound thought from this unusual find was regardless of age, time and life passing by, what has been hidden has a way of surfacing eventually and it will be exposed.

Jesus said, “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight.” (Luke 12:2,3)

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Challenge, Children, Encouragement, History, Identity, In the news, Issues of the Day

We Do Love Independence!

I was thinking about independence and how much we love this word and all it represents. We can move to become independent rather quickly. After all, isn’t that what we spent 18 years training our children to become? Then one day they attempt to be independent of us and we want to hold them back because we don’t like their attitude or some such thing.

I can still remember my teenage boys pushing to become independent of their mother. They actually practiced not listening to her or at the very least looking like they were not listening as she followed behind them telling them what she thought they ought do. 

There is something inside of us that speaks to not desiring to be told what to do because that’s not independence. It feels like hovering or maybe even smothering to us. So we say to our wives, “Yes, yes, yes, I hear you.” Or to our husbands, “Are you listening to me?” Or to our wives, “I’m serious when I say this.” Or to our husbands, “You must be joking.” We’ve been longing for independence since Genesis chapter three. Our fallen nature thinks we can do it; we can be self-dependent, not needing others. 

But the actual truth is every day we need others. We need our mechanic to fix our car. We need our boss to keep us employed. We need our church family to help us lead. We need our spouse to look out for us and to help us find things we’ve lost. Daily, we need others.

But more than anything or anyone, we need God. We are wholly dependent upon the Spirit of God to lead us, cover us, answer our prayers and speak God’s direction to us. We are never really independent of others. We certainly do not want to be independent of God. So let’s truthfully acknowledge our need for Him and of those He has placed in our lives. 

I saw this “need” pictured in a scripture I read the other day. “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother (Philemon), have refreshed the hearts of the saints…that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ.” Philemon 7, 20b

Be refreshed this Independence Day and bring refreshment to others by loving them!

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Challenge, Encouragement, Healing, Issues of the Day, Marriage, Men, Women

Resistance in Marriage

Resistance is defined as the act of opposing another. There seems to be this trait of human nature that naturally opposes or pushes back when we interpret the environment to be in opposition of what we desire. Within relationships, resistance seems almost normal or inevitable. 

Can you recall the last time you were called upon to make a personal change in your life? It might have come from someone close to you like your spouse or your boss at work. Were you initially resistant to the request? Why or why not? Perhaps you knew they might be right, but yet you still may have resisted. Too often we have resisted change when it means we are the ones who are called upon to make that change. 

Carol Anderson in her book Mastering Resistance wrote, “Resistance to change in general and resistance to being influenced in particular always occurs when individuals, groups, and systems are required by circumstances to alter their established behaviors. Unless people are immediately persuaded by overwhelming evidence that a change in their behavior is necessary or beneficial…they will resist change in the status quo.” 

That means change for the good can be subject to resistance as well. And that’s how irrational resistance can be. What’s really at stake here is history. History may tell us that change is bad or that change represents someone trying to overpower or control us. How you interpret the change will affect how resistant you may or may not become. 

A healthy marriage is not threatened by leadership roles, power issues, or attempts to control. They do not need to fear change. They understand their particular role and are comfortable to play either leader or follower. Both husband and wife are called upon to be leaders in the home. We may have different roles but both are very important. 

It is not healthy to have one partner do all the initiating and all the decision-making and one partner simply tag along. It is not healthy for both partners to compete for the leadership roles or for both to become passive and no one lead.

When we identify the key roles of each spouse, find out who is better at an area and place them in that role, allowing trust to grow, we will see resistance dissipate. Sometimes we resist purely from our own insecurity. The more secure we become in our relationship and the roles we play within that relationship, the more trust can follow. As trust is built, there is a natural cause and effect–resistance decreases.

Some exercise questions you might consider answering with your mate.

  • How has marriage helped to identify resistance within me?
  • Presently, within what areas of marriage do I struggle with resistance?
  • How has your spouse been an example of being willing to change?
  • How have you been an example of being willing to change?
  • What steps can we take to battle resistance?
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Challenge, Encouragement, In the news, Issues of the Day, Prayer

 “Our Thoughts and Prayers are With You”

We’re hearing these words a lot lately, too often really. It seems we can go from tragedy to tragedy all too quickly.

Of late we’re also hearing some pushback about that spoken or written phrase. Why? Do people see it as insincere? Or, maybe these words in question seem too glib or perhaps spoken too soon? Maybe they’re associated with the lack of action steps? It would be wrong to judge the heart of the person using that phrase because you or I do not know what’s in their heart. 

Would we rather it said, “Our thoughts are not with you and neither are our prayers?” That’s cold and I would think, rarely thought.

So, let’s say people are sincere when they speak these words. They might be far removed from the incident and can have little to no effect upon the event. But in their minds, they can visualize it happening in their home area and they shudder to think of its occurrence. And so, they offer the one thing they can, thoughts and if they are praying persons, prayer. I do know my wife and I pray for the victim’s families and their deep pain. We pray for the first responders and what they have to experience. We pray for our nation.

Is there a time to take action? Yes. Can everyone take action? No. Is everyone called to take the same action? No. Some have to settle for well wishes, concern and hoping for a better outcome in the future. 

In my mind, here is the fault in criticizing these words. By pushing back, you belittle the one thing that some people feel is their only choice to offer. You repeat a mockery of those who meaningfully use this phrase. You judge their hearts. You condemn them for what is thought as doing nothing. And, you as well, use phrases similar to these and think nothing of it. But, is it right to jump on a bandwagon of someone else’s critical, sometimes arrogant and thoughtless words which also have very little meaning to them and effect little to no change?

Here is my biggest issue with this subject: Prayer is not inaction! Prayer to our heavenly Father is faith in action on the believer’s part. It is grappling with concern and personalizing it into words of petition directed by the Holy Spirit. Our heavenly Father waits to hear from us and that is called: prayer. How do I know this? Please take a minute to read the scripture verses below.

  • I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for all people. (I Timothy 2:1)
  • Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:17)
  • During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears. (Hebrews 5:7)
  • Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6)
  • The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous. (Proverbs 15:29)
  • We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.(Romans 8:26)
  • Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. (James 5:13)
  • Trust in him at all times, you people: pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. (Psalms 62:8)
  • Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. (Jeremiah 33:3)
  • Pray continually. (I Thessalonians 5:17)

Wow–prayer, petitions and thanksgiving are to be made first for all people. Prayer is powerful and effective. Jesus, the Son of God, prayed and He is our example! Prayer is presenting our requests to God, keeping us from anxiety as we know He hears the prayers of the righteous.  The Spirit of God helps us to pray accurately.

So, call on Him continually and He will answer you and show you the effective ways you can serve others to bring about change for the glory of God and the good of mankind. At the same time, please know there are very real and authentic persons full of compassion and hearts devoted toward seeing change come to the world we live in.

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Challenge, Encouragement, Identity, In the news, Issues of the Day, Parents, Singles

Those Words and Deconstruction

“Do you also want to leave?”

Those words spoken by Jesus and recorded in John six give me pause. Many of Jesus’ disciples were walking away, no longer desiring to be associated with Him. Jesus then looks at the twelve disciples and asks them this poignant question. 

Can you visualize yourself standing with Jesus, watching some of your friends, maybe relatives and neighbors who were walking closely with you just pick up their things, turn their backs and walk away? Now He’s looking straight at you waiting for an answer. He was, in fact, giving you a pass to walk away with them, no questions asked as you shift from foot to foot, nervously, waiting for others to respond.

Finally, Peter speaks up, “Master, to whom would we go? You have the words of real life, eternal life. We’ve already committed ourselves.” 

Is that your final answer? Are you staying with Him? It’s going to be difficult. It won’t get any easier.

For those who are “deconstructing” their faith, examining their roots and finding it difficult to remain with Christ, He is waiting for your answer. Do you want to leave too? Will you walk away from the One who loves you, saved you and gave His life for you? 

There is no perfect church, pastor or godly parent. There is no perfect Christian leader, mentor or counselor. Not one of us has a perfect foundation. We will be disappointed by others who have spoken faith into our lives. But there is One that will never disappoint, never leave you and never sin against you: Jesus. 

It’s easy to criticize and deconstruct; it’s far more difficult to jump in and be a part of the solution–the construction crew. 

If walking away from faith is walking away from Him, then you’re going to have to dive deeply into self-trust, self-sufficiency and self-belief. 

But here’s the thing about that. Even you will disappoint you. There is no perfect you. I would encourage you to stop holding others up to perfection who were imperfect in your life. Give them the same grace you give yourself. 

The enemy of your soul is handing you deconstruction. Jesus is handing you life, words of real life, words of eternal life.

Pay close attention, friend, to what your father tells you; never forget what you learned at your mother’s knee. Wear their counsel like a winning crown, like rings on your fingers.

(Proverbs 1:8, 9)

The Message

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Challenge, Encouragement, Marriage, Men, Postmarital, Women

Happy 47th Anniversary to Us!

I love celebrating our anniversary. It means we’ve reached the milestone of another year. We’re still very much in love. We’re still committed to one another and we’re still having fun. We celebrate our 47th year of marriage this month!

Many couples have many ways of “making it” this far or perhaps they just don’t know another way to live. I’ve always thought that being in a chronically ill marriage would be worse than never being married at all. But that’s not our story. 

So, what are the things we can implement into our marriage to not only have it survive 47 years, but thrive throughout those 47 years? Allow me to share a few of those things.

  • Maintain a heart of love and dedication to one another.
  • Hold hands when you take a walk, when you pray at the meal table and when you pray together just before bedtime.
  • Continue to date.
  • Buy small gifts for one another.
  • Remember important dates through the sharing of greeting cards.
  • Purchase flowers for special occasions and for no occasion.
  • Write love notes or text messages or both often.
  • Maintain a spiritual component of prayer together as often as possible.
  • Don’t stop kissing.
  • Say “I love you” multiple times in a day.
  • Notice each other and while you’re noticing smile at your life mate.
  • Go to bed at the same time routinely.
  • Be affectionate.
  • Maintain your intimacy.
  • Compliment one another frequently.
  • Say “thank you” for the daily mundane things accomplished by your spouse.
  • Read a marriage book together to challenge your marriage.
  • See a respected counselor or pastoral couple who can encourage you to grow in your love relationship.
  • Go to a marriage seminar/retreat. 
  • Take a mini vacation for just the two of you.
  • Praise in public; construct in private.
  • Disagree agreeably and resolve issues promptly.
  • Never take your mate for granted and work at noticing the “little things.”
  • Have good will toward your mate at all times; think the best.
  • Take time to listen to each other and hear one another’s heart, not just words.
  • Serve in a mission bigger than yourselves, e.g., your local church, a missions project.
  • Don’t be legalistic; give grace to one another.
  • Keep communication lines open in order to always build trust.
  • Stop attempting to change your mate. That’s God’s job.
  • Keep your marriage a higher priority than the life issues you are dealing with.
  • Pursue personal growth. The healthier you are, the healthier your marriage will be.

And last: Apologize quickly by learning to say, “I am sorry; I was wrong; please forgive me.”

Marriage is a gift–treat it as one.

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

Can Husbands Listen to Their Wives?

It’s an age-old question: can men tune into and really listen to their wives? We know there is a generally accepted answer to that question: no. But is that true? Do men listen differently than women? Do men practice looking like they’re not listening when they really are? Are men created with a filter that women simply do not have? Read on.

Men do listen to their wives, but there are some qualifications around the parameters of that answer. 

Some of those parameters might include, but are not limited to: are they interested in the conversation; have they been drawn into the conversation or forced; do they feel valued in the conversation; is there a solution that he can add; is there a purpose for this conversation that directly affects him; how long will this conversation take; and can the conversation actually arrive at a point? 

Quite honestly, I have found that men like to listen to other men more than to woman (again generally speaking). That may mean men will actually listen to the advice of a man than that of a woman. That does not mean he doesn’t value a woman’s input. But what that actually means is men’s brains seem wired to accommodate other men and their opinion before a female counterpart. Now, before you take that statement and run with it in a hundred different directions, let’s consider a man’s approach to another man.

Men generally will leave feelings out of the conversation. Men generally will speak in facts as they understand them and men generally will not converse just to converse. Men do not tend to have a need for all of the little details and men tend to use fewer words. As well, men tend to keep advice giving to a point of request only. In other words, men enjoy or embrace the communication style of other men rather than woman. It’s not an attack on a woman as much as it’s a preference of style.

With all of that said, men need women and their relational style of communicating. Men need to hear the feeling side of conversation and men need to allow woman the opportunity to share the details they feel effect the conversation. Men need to listen to women because women have this uncanny ability to pull truth from feelings and not just facts. Men need to learn to converse with just listening and not always listening to fix. Men need face-to-face conversations with the women in their life for a balance in receiving the feminine side of their Creator.

Yes, husbands can listen to their wives as wives keep these parameters in mind. So, ladies, stop trying to remake your husband into one of your girlfriends. He is not them; he’s different and he enjoys that difference. Perhaps let him know up front that you are looking for his advice or let him know you are not; you just want him to listen. He can do that, but he needs you to let him know what you’re looking for early in the conversation.

Men and women converse differently and we need what each one brings to the conversation. We need to learn to value each style and honor one another by practicing our listening skills. 

Here are some secrets to conversing with your husband:

  • Make an attempt to use fewer words.
  • Use a tone of voice that is inviting and engaging rather than commanding or directing.
  • Practice letting him know what you need or are looking for from the conversation before it starts.
  • Be sure there is sufficient time allotted for the conversation. If not, schedule it for another time.
  • Try to relate a few facts.
  • Study his language style and do your best to incorporate his style of communication. For example, quite often a builder uses building terms or a salesman uses sales terms. Learn those terms and incorporate them in your communication.
  • Share your feelings, but let him know that’s what you are doing. For example, you can say, “Just sharing a feeling here, but I think it’s significant to the point being made.”
  • Try to communicate the point of your conversation earlier in the discussion. For example, you could say, “There is a decision we need to make, but first it’s important to look at what is going to affect this decision.”
  • You can really draw him in with this conversation starter, “I need your input on ___________.” Then you could go on to discuss the issues. 
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Children, Encouragement, Issues of the Day, Parents, Women

Moms Day

Mothers–we all had one and most of us cherish our good memories. We know that for nine months she carried us in her womb anticipating our arrival. We know we were loved, accepted and approved of by her. We know she wasn’t perfect, but she was the perfect mom for us. We are better persons because of our moms.

Many had mothers who prayed earnestly and endlessly for their sons and daughters. They never stopped being a biological or a spiritual mom to us. They knew when to speak and when to remain silent. They knew how to make sacrifices for us to have a better life than they had. Moms know things that no one else knows or understands about each one of us and, gratefully, most moms can keep a secret. 

So, on this Mother’s Day weekend, let’s celebrate our mothers and think about the reasons why our moms are so important in our lives.

If it wasn’t for your mother, you would not exist.

Our moms often knew how to say the right words at the right time.

Moms seem to understand our feelings.

Only a mother can affectionately kiss and hold an angry child.

Our mothers made huge sacrifices for their children.

Forgiveness and acceptance without judgement are at the forefront of mothering.

Moms sense trouble sooner than most and then swoop in to protect.

Mothers remind us of the good and downplay so much of the bad in life.

Mothers naturally teach mothering–it’s instinctual. 

Moms taught us the value of cleanliness, doing our homework and sending a thank-you note.

Mothers have a unique way of making us feel special.

Mothers know just the right gift to give.

What would you add to this list about your mom?

Her teachings are filled with wisdom and kindness. She watches over the ways of her household. Her sons and daughters arise in one accord to extol her virtues, and her husband arises to speak of her in glowing terms. So go ahead and give her the credit that is due, for she has become a radiant woman. (Proverbs 31:26, 27, 28, 31 TPT)

“Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.” Unknown author

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

Experiencing a Lack of Sexual Intimacy in our Marriage

Sex is a gift given to marriage by God. We dream about it before marriage and fight off every urge during engagement. We can barely keep our hands off of each other. Saying “I do” should not disrupt this godly desire.

However, so many marriages are sexually starved today. And because sexuality is about intimacy, that also means, in many cases, intimacy is missing. 

Intimacy is about friendship, communication, laughter, emotional closeness and fun together. It’s about holding hands, saying “I love you” and still kissing one another goodnight. But when sexual intimacy leaves a marriage, so do many of the intimacies mentioned above.

Why? There are any number of reasons. Just to mention a few: business; anger; withholding love; not sharing deeply; criticism; control and others. One area that I have often heard in the counseling office is that the partner with the lower sex drive actually controls what happens or does not happen in the bedroom. 

Every day couples make decisions about finances, the children, their jobs, ministry, the bills, the house but they’re not discussing their sexual lives. It’s either controlled by one or somehow has become off limits and you know not to bring it up. Your sex lives as a married couple are not to be controlled by one of you–that’s unhealthy to any marriage. In fact, unilateral decisions of any kind can affect your marriage negatively.

When one partner has to lie in bed night after night dealing with rejection, the silent treatment or a nightly headache, that partner is also wondering what is wrong with them. They are wondering why their life mate is not attracted to them. The human soul needs to connect relationally and within marriage that same soul needs the sexual intimacy factor so there is not a repeated disconnect.

Too often in this area of marriage one partner is only thinking of themselves, their desires and their feelings. They’re thinking, “I’m not in the mood” or “Do I really want to take the time it takes?” or “I’d rather just go to sleep.” Have you stopped to think about your partner, their thoughts and their desires?

If one of you is being vulnerable enough to discuss these issues in marriage, it is time to listen. Do not become defensive or push them away. Be there for one another. Listen without defensiveness. Have it on your heart to serve one another. 

And here’s a secret. Even when it is inconvenient or you’re not in the mood, initiating lovemaking can take you there. And when you experience a wonderful time together you’ll be closer, talk more and experience more intimacy in every area of your relationship. 

This act of love given to us by our heavenly Father is a recipe for a closer, healthier, deeper appreciation that builds a greater desire to meet the needs of the one you are one with.

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