“May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.” ~ Tolkien

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” ~ John 10:10

If I was to to tell you I had a life verse, this would be it. For as long as I can remember any time I saw the numbers 10:10 on a digital clock, ClockI would say this passage out loud. And it was these very words of Jesus which held despair and darkness at bay on the worst day of my life. I call this passage a defining Scripture; one which helps you know what is going on in your life at any given moment. It’s pretty simple too; if you have been stolen from, there is death or destruction in your life, then it is from the thief, aka the devil. If your life is rich and full, then it comes from Jesus. John 10:10 shows you who is behind every situation you face in life.

On April 6, 2010 my youngest son Noah in a moment of weakness took his own life. There were no warning signs, he made a decision (albeit a dumb one) and ended his life. In the hours following Noah’s death, I was faced with a choice; to turn from God or towards Him. It was during this time, standing by the trampoline my kids had spent countless hours on, I began to question God. As my questioning turned quickly into anger, I began a downward spiral into an abyss of darkness I had never before experienced. Doubt, confusion and anger began to fill my mind. It was just then as my thoughts were becoming darker, that a sliver of light broke through and I snapped out of it.

Recognizing the voice of God in my spirit, He brought John 10:10 back to my mind. As I stood there in my pain pondering it, the realization came to me about who was actually to blame for my son’s death; it was the devil and not God. As the light of this knowledge flooded my mind pushing back the dark thoughts of the enemy I stood up straighter and thanked God for saving me in that instant. From that moment on I was able to move forward and lead my family down the path towards recovery in the way He wanted. It’s taken years for my family to move from tragedy to healing but we would never had made it this far without God’s Word guiding us.

I’m nothing special, God doesn’t like me better than you, He wants to use Scripture the same way in your life, but you have to want it. You can do it, all you have to do is start reading the Bible, putting His Word into your heart. Had I not quoted John 10:10 to myself for so many years, I would never have been able to hear God speak it to me so clearly when it really mattered. You can do it, don’t wait, get into the Bible today and see how far God takes you!

Living in a story much larger than my own…won’t you join me? You Can Do It!

 

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The Uncharted Waters Of My Wife’s Soul Terrifies Me

It was our monthly John Wayne movie night, and as I sat watching “The Cowboys” with some of the guys from my church, my phone rang.  Answering it, I heard my wife sobbing as she asked me to hurry home because our little dog Midge had been carried away by an owl.

Being the man in charge, I asked one of my friends to finish the evening for me and to lock the church when the movie ended.  My kids were babysitting the kids of some of the men watching the movie, and I went to tell them what had happened before leaving to go be with their mom.

This night came a few months after the death of our youngest son, and the loss of Midge was more than my bride could bear at the moment.  As I entered the living room, Cheryl was in tears, and quite beside herself.  I did my best to console her, not really knowing what to do, I hugged her, telling her it would be alright, but my words felt hollow and ineffective.  I felt I should’ve done more, but didn’t have a clue what it should’ve been.

Truthfully, I’ve felt this way on more than one occasion.  For all the years we’ve been married, I still don’t know how to respond to my wife when she is upset.  My initial inkling is to get in there, identify the problem and fix it.  But when I do this, it usually makes matters worse.

There is a term in sailing called “uncharted waters”; which just means an area which has not been recorded, or located on a map, or plan.  There is an area in women’s souls which this perfectly describes.  It’s this need for you to hear what she says, listening to her heart and supporting her without trying to fix anything.  And navigating these waters can be treacherous and scary, regardless of how many times we enter them.

I’ve had this discussion while leading small groups over the years, and all of the ladies I’ve talked to have told me the same thing; we don’t want our husbands to fix our problems, we just want them to be present and to listen.  Jason Headley made a great video which illustrates what I’m saying, check it out:

It’s Not About The Nail

Believe me; this one thing about women baffles me.  I mean I really have no clue about understanding this process they go through, nor why it means so much for me to just listen.  For me, I want to isolate the problem, and then fix it.  I am learning however, regardless of how I think the situation should be resolved, now I try to just keep my mouth shut and let Cheryl talk, really listening to what she is saying.

The bottom line here is if something is important to her, then it should be important to me.  Even if I don’t understand why it’s important, it’s her heart I’m trying to care for, and if this means listening to her talk about the nail and not trying to figure out how to fix it, then so be it.

Really guys, if we are going to love our brides the way they need us to, we have to go into these uncharted waters from time to time, even if it terrifies us.

Living an honest and transparent life…

 

 

 

 

 

The Peasant Queen

She was born to be royal, but you’d never know it by he way he spoke to her. Jane dreamed her whole life about the day her prince would arrive and sweep her off her feet. On the day she met Aaron, her heart leapt for joy when he talked about the things he wanted to do in his life, because they mirrored the dreams she wanted to pursue as well.

Their courtship wasn’t a long one and within a few months his romantic proposal in the countryside caused her to fall even more in love with the man of her dreams. Soon the two were joined by their family and friends in a celebration of their love and as her father walked her down the aisle towards her waiting knight she couldn’t help but think about how perfect her life was.

A few months later as she was dusting one of the wedding pictures on her mantle, she noticed the smile on Aaron’s face in one of them and it made her wonder what why he rarely smiled now. “It must be some I’m doing, because he looks so happy there,” she thought.  Holding back a tear, she dabbed at her eyes to keep the moisture from falling down her cheeks and continued cleaning.

One night at a party with friends, she watched as he laughed and joked with his buddies. It seemed as if the man she married had returned, but on the drive home afterwards when she mentioned how much fun the party had been, he was sullen and had very little to say in response. Later, as she was removing her makeup and getting ready for bed, he asked why it was taking her so long? “Hurry up Jane! I’ve got to get up early tomorrow, so I ain’t got all night to wait for sex you know!”

This became her life; work all day at her job, come home and make dinner, cleaning up the mess and taking care of his laundry, while he sat in his chair like a king on his throne watching television. As the months passed, the words he spoke to her, when he actually did speak were always harsh and filled with comments about how she had changed, didn’t do things around the house very well and wasn’t the same girl he’d married.

After many years of unhappiness; which involved Aaron ruling the roost with an iron fist and speaking mostly hateful things to Jane, she finally made the decision, packed up her belongings and left him. Dazed and confused as she drove towards her parent’s house she came to the conclusion Aaron must have been right all those years when he said she was just lazy and just didn’t know how to manage a house very well. And instead of living as his queen in a happily ever after story, she left him feeling like the peasant he saw her as.

This story, while a work of fiction, is one which happens around the world on a daily basis. Men speaking harsh words, never thinking about what they are doing to their brides. If men want their brides to act like queens, they need to stop talking to them as if they’re peasants. What I mean by this, is your wife responds to the words you say to her. There are so many marriages that endure abuse; it may not be physical, but is emotional and is just as bad. 

Men who treat their wives this way are really shooting themselves in the foot. The man who belittles his wife or puts her down in an attempt to motivate her to do things the way he wants her to do them is not loving her well at all. Women respond to the words we say guys; both good and bad. Speaking kind words always go further than when you speak harshly.

Many years ago when  I was first married, I didn’t like some of the ways things were going in my fledgling relationship with Cheryl. I decided my bride needed to make some changes, so I set out to change her. I started looking in the Bible for things a Godly woman was supposed to be and wrote them down in a little notebook which I then carried in my shirt pocket and read out loud to myself several times a day. Things like, Proverbs 31:10 which says, Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies. Then I would personalize it by saying, Cheryl is a virtuous and capable wife, she is more precious than rubies to me.

I found about fifteen to twenty Scriptures I felt would make Cheryl a better wife to me, you know things I was expecting God to change about her in order to make my marriage better. I’m not saying my motivation was right, so don’t vilify me as a horrible husband just yet. For about the next thirty to forty five days I faithfully confessed these things multiple times a day expecting a change to take place in Cheryl. And do you know, she never changed once? But, the change which took place was inside of me.

I began to see her differently than when I had started my journey of confessions to make her a better wife. What changed in me, was I actually began to see her like God did, and once this happened, our marriage got better. I didn’t  need to see a change in Cheryl, I needed to change the way I was seeing Cheryl. And when I did so, I saw her as the queen she actually is and began responding to her through my words differently.

It has taken years for her to understand I speak the truth when I tell her how beautiful she is, how great a person she is and what a fantastic mother she has been to our kids. But I now really see her the way God does and that changes everything about how I act around her and how I treat her. I’m so thankful I made all those confessions about her so many years ago, because it has made being married to her much better. She really is all those things the Bible says she is.

Fellas I will tell you this, if you’re speaking to your bride like some peasant girl, even jokingly, stop it now and address her like the queen she actually is. Speak what God’s Word says about her, and I promise you will see a huge difference in your relationship with her and you will be amazed as you watch the transformation take place in her right before your eyes.

Marriage…It’s Not Just About You Anymore Bubba

One of the most misunderstood aspects of marriage is the thought that it is a 50/50 proposition. Seriously nothing could be further from the truth. Marriage is giving yourself 100% of the time to your spouse regardless of whether they every give back to you or not. It is an agreement you made in front of witnesses stating you were giving yourself to this person and no other.

The reason so many people find this difficult is because of an unwillingness to stop being selfish. Selfishness is the root of almost every problem a marriage will face, and if you were to look at your actions in your own marriage honestly you would agree. Too many husbands spend their time pointing fingers at what their bride is doing instead of focusing on the areas in their own lives where they could make changes.

Many years ago, I began writing down all of the Scriptures I could find in the Bible about who my wife was supposed to be. I was a baby Christian at the time and newly married, but didn’t really like a few things about my bride so I was going to use the Word of God to make her change. (As I said, I was a baby Christian, I know better now.) Anyway, as I began quoting these passages several times a day, something happened; Cheryl didn’t change, but the way I began to view her did. It wasn’t too long after this our marriage really began to get better and the little things which had ticked me off were no longer doing so.

I’ve seen too many marriages where the husband points out his wife’s flaws, but overlooks all those he has. It’s the plank of wood versus the speck of sawdust story Jesus told in the Bible. (Matthew 7:3) I feel pity for these husbands, I have heard the stories about how little sex they are getting, how they feel all their wife does is complain about how little they do around the house or with the kids and so on. I pity them because the biggest problem they have in their marriage is themselves and their selfish ways.

The reason men don’t give 100% in their marriages is because of fear they are going to be seen as a whipped man by their peers. I gotta tell you right now, I could care less what any other man says about me in regards to my relationship with Cheryl because they are not the one doing life with her, I am. Most of the time men who give me crap about doing so much for my bride, do so because they feel bad for not giving as much to theirs. And the rule of thumb is; if I’m not doing it, you shouldn’t be either. It’s like when your coworkers say you’re making them look bad, I like to reply, “No, you’re making me look good.”

Stop being selfish and take care of your bride men, it is the best investment you will ever make in your life, I guarantee it.

 

 

 

Are You Being Your Bride’s Superhero?

Let me ask you married men a question; do you know your wife’s love language? You know the things you do which show her you really love her? Just saying, “I love you.” isn’t enough, she needs to see something which proves your love as well.

In my home, I’m responsible for taking out the garbage. I see to it all our refuse is put in the trash container and placed by the curb to be picked up on Fridays. If our trash  can is piled high with its contents balancing precariously on top, this bothers my wife. Taking care of this household chore is just one of the many things I do which shows her I love her.

Guys, if you’re like me, you probably worked pretty hard in the beginning when you dated her; pulling out all the stops to impress your girl. If I was a betting man, I’d say you did a lot of crazy things to show her how much you wanted and desired her. The problem is we often stop doing these things after saying, “I do.” Too many men get upset after the wedding because the lovey dovey stuff seems to end and the nagging begins.

When I say nagging what I really mean is, she is telling you the things which bother her. Generally when someone is complaining about something, it’s not so much because they want to make your life miserable but more likely at a deeper level they are really telling you what bugs them.

The best thing would be if we actually just said what we mean, but in my married life I’ve found a lot of times I have to look for clues as to what is meant. It’s probably because she doesn’t want to just nag me as she wants me to find out what it is she needs.

In the movie The Breakup, there is a great scene about this. The couple is arguing about household chores:

Brooke: “I want you to want to do the dishes.”

Gary: “Why would I want to do the dishes?”

And this is the story of married life; the wife wants you to do something and we as men are usually clueless to what she is really saying. You see it wasn’t about him actually doing the dishes as much as his willingness to do them. This willingness to do something is usually at the heart of all disagreements.

Finding out the things my wife likes and doing them and figuring out what she doesn’t like and not doing these makes me out to be the superhero she needs me to be and what man doesn’t want to be his bride’s superhero? And part of this means I’ve got to be looking for the things which show her how much I love her.

This is why I lift the toilet seat and put it back down, why I put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher and generally look for things to do which say to her heart, this man of yours really loves you. It’s all about the relationship and I want ours to be the best.

Guys take some time and listen for what your bride is really saying to you. It will take work to be her superhero, but it is doable and in the end worth it.

You Made a Promise, Now Keep It!

The conversation started like this, “Dave, I’ve met a girl.”

“What do you mean you met a girl?” Wondering as I said it, because he was already married.

“It’s a girl I knew from high school.”

Mentally scratching my head I thought, “Well, this can’t be good.”

This conversation happened many years ago, (no names to protect the innocent) and as he continued telling me about this girl he knew from high school who had turned up in his life again, I was shocked. This was WAY before Facebook too, so reconnecting with old flames isn’t a new thing.

At the time of our talk he had finished college, had a good paying job and was married.  He told me she had contacted him out of the blue; just to catch up you know, totally innocent.  But as the phone calls increased, they decided to hook up.  He made up a story about a hunting weekend, packed all his gear and ended up at the old girlfriend’s house for two and a half days.

“Man, it was the best sex I’ve ever had Dave.  I think I’m in love.”  He told me all of this in confidence, and it was knowledge I wished I’d never been given.  The more I thought about this in the days which followed, the more it ate at me.  I couldn’t help but think about his wife; who thought their marriage was great, never realizing all the numerous hunting and fishing trips he was taking as often as possible were really romantic liaisons with another woman.

We talked again a few weeks later, and you would’ve thought he was back in high school the way he talked about this new girl in his life.  He explained how they had dated in school, but a miscommunication their senior year caused them to break up.  He said, “I would’ve married her back then if it wasn’t for this.  I’ve gotta leave my wife and marry her, she’s my true love.”

I couldn’t take it any longer and said, “What about your marriage vows, you know, to have and to hold in sickness and in health until death parts you?”

“Yeah, but I didn’t know she still loved me.  I would’ve never gotten married if I’d known.  My high school sweetheart is the one I should’ve been with all along.”

“Man, cheating is wrong!  You made a commitment to your wife, and you should honor it.  You need to cut it off with this other girl now.”

There was more to this conversation; which involved a lot of yelling, cussing and him trying to make the case for why cheating on his wife was okay, me countering it with why is wasn’t, but when it was all said and done, what we had left was a broken friendship.  He went his way, and I went mine.  I heard a few months later he had left his wife and moved in with the old girlfriend.  I’ve got no idea where he is today.  His ex-wife remarried and is living happily ever after now with a great family.

I am an opinionated, self-righteous loud mouth at times.  I think if you have read my blogs you’ve probably figured out I am not a man who minces words when it comes to things I’m passionate about.  I don’t apologize for this, it is who I am.

One of the things I’m very passionate about is marriage.  Having been married for almost twenty-eight years to the same woman, I can tell you it is by far one of the best things I’ve ever done with my life.  Being married is also one of the hardest things I’ve ever done; it takes a lot of work to make it great.

Cheating on your wife is wrong no matter what spin you put on it.  When you married her, you committed to stay with her forsaking all others; ALL.  This is pretty cut and dry, it means you will stay with her for the rest of your life.  Now some guys look at this as imprisonment, but then they don’t understand what marriage really is all about.

Marriage is about giving yourself completely to one person; and I’m not just talking about sexually, although this is one element of it.  When you give yourself completely to another person, you look out for their interests before your own.  You make sure their needs are met before meeting your own.

Many times you will hear people say, “Marriage is 50/50.  This is not true; to make your marriage work you have to give 100 percent.  This is why so many men fail in their marriages.  Now understand; I am speaking in general terms here, if this doesn’t apply to your marriage, then great, but more often than not the problem in marriages revolve around the husband.  After all, he is the head of the family, and the leader.  If he’s not leading well, then the marriage won’t be doing well.

I’m not really sure why I get so worked up about infidelity, but I know I hate it!  I hate what it does to the relationship between husband and wife.  And if there are kids in the mix, well it causes the problems to grow exponentially.

If your marriage isn’t what you want it to be guys, then make the necessary corrections in what you’re doing so it will be.  It’s not rocket science, give one hundred percent, taking care of the needs of your bride and she will reciprocate, I promise you.

 

 

 

 

 

Stop Drinking Poison

I was working a few days ago, and an older man struck up a conversation with me while waiting for his truck to be loaded.  There had some pretty rough weather the night before, so we were discussing this.  A few minutes into the conversation he said something which caused me to lose all respect for him.

He said, “Man, last night every time it thundered, that bitch rolled over and asked me if everything was all right!”  It was noisy and I wasn’t sure I had heard him correctly until he used this same word to describe his wife five more times.  He went on to say, “What was supposed to be a thirty minute deal has ended up being four years and the bitch is wearing me out.”

Men who refer to their wives in a derogatory manner really piss me off.  And these are always the men who wonder why their marriages are crappy.  What are they, morons?  How long can you bad mouth someone and still keep respect for them?  It’s not possible.

I stood there thinking, “Wow!  This guy’s a real treasure.”  I’m pretty sure he knew how I felt too, because it had to be written all over my face.  I was taught to respect my elders, and this man was older than me, but Mom, I’m sorry there was no way I could respect this guy.

It’s one thing to complain about a situation with your wife, but to actually call her names, or talk about her like she’s worthless is something which should never be done, period.  There are not many things I hate in this world, but this tops the list.  A husband’s job is to love his wife; which means her needs come before yours bubba.  Yeah, I know you probably don’t want to hear this, but it’s true.

There are times when I come home from a hard day’s work and I’m spent; physically and mentally.  All I want to do is sit and vegetate in front of the television.  Truthfully if I said nothing all night it would be okay.  But my wife needs to know how my day went.  In order for me to love her, I need to talk about it.  She needs this, I don’t.  But because I love her and we are building a life together, if it is important to her, then it is important to me.

The bottom line is this, you married her because you saw something there you desired.  Now man up and love her because she deserves it.  Quit being a putz and love her the way she needs to be loved; even if this is assuring her during a storm everything is alright, then do it.  It’s what men are supposed to do.

If you’re talking ugly about your wife to other men, it’s like drinking poison. The liquid may quench your thirst for a moment, but it’s going to kill you in the end!