Here’s What I Think

There comes a time in every man’s life where he has to say what is on his mind, and today is that day. I’ve been known as an opinionated man for most of my life, always sharing my thoughts with anyone willing to listen; sometimes to my chagrin. After fifty-four trips around the sun, I have learned to choose when to speak my mind and when to hold back those thoughts. Today I will not hold back my thoughts about marriage and the role men have in this gift given to us by God. This is what drives me to my keyboard; to talk about what men are doing to destroy their marriages.

Selfishness is the chief cause of marriage failure today. When one or both partners are doing only what is best for them and not for their spouse, calamity will not be very far behind. It aggravates, no, let me say it pisses me off when a marriage fails because the husband was unwilling to do whatever it took to make his bride the center of his world. As the father of a daughter who faced divorce last year, it has only strengthened these thoughts in my heart of hearts. And before you say it’s not always the man who leaves, I’ll agree with you and say women leave too, but why would she want to leave if her man was doing everything he could to make the marriage work?

I really believe a man should be loving his wife like Christ loved the church, this is what it takes to make his marriage last. But what does it mean to love your wife as Christ loved the church? To answer this let’s look at the whole passage of Scripture. It’s found in Ephesian 5:25 and says,

“For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up His life for her.”

He gave up His life for her. And this sir, is what you should be doing for your bride; giving up your life for her. In doing this, your marriage will become stronger. In my life, I find myself doing things I don’t necessarily want to do, but I know by doing them it makes my bride’s life better and this brings me great joy. This doesn’t mean a man should never have time for himself, because husbands and wives should spend time alone and with friends, this helps make your marriage healthy too. But your first thought should always be about your wife and her well-being over your own.

When my daughter told me her husband of two years had packed his bags, took his game system and left town, I was devastated for her. This was the man who had taken me out for coffee to ask for her hand in marriage, the one who told me all the things he was planning for their life together and what he wanted to do to make her happy. Now she was telling me the one who had promised to take over from me and care for my little girl had just up and left? I guess the old saying, ” You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?” really is true.

Come on men, wake up! Take the reigns of your life, take some responsibility for your marriage and do whatever it takes to love your bride like Christ loved His before it is too late. We have no one to blame but ourselves if we let our marriages fail.

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What Does It Mean To Be A Man? Part 1

“Be a man!” “You’re the man!” “Fight like a man!” What does it really mean to be a man? I’ve heard it said, and said it myself before, you may be male by birth, but you’re a man by choice. For too many years there has been this unspoken thing about what it means to become a man that the world has foisted upon us. When you have your first alcoholic drink, you’ll be a man, once you start shaving, you’ll be a man, when you bed your first woman, you’ll be a man. But honestly nothing could be further from the truth.

Being a man is a choice you make each and every day of your life, sometimes hour by hour. But before you can make that choice, you have to know what it really means to be a man, and what the job description entails. This is something which has been lost and not passed on to boys from their fathers in many, many years. For whatever reason, fathers have failed to teach their sons how to be men, and when movies and television came along, boys were shown what the world said it mean to be men so naturally because of the vacuum left by their fathers, they began to follow this instead.

Men were created first by God, and Adam, the first man was placed in the Garden of Eden and given a job; to cultivate it and name all the animals. It was while he was in the process of naming the animals he noticed every one of them had a counterpart, but for him there wasn’t one to be found. God put him to sleep, took a rib and made Adam a helper in the form of the woman Eve. When he woke up, he had a wife and a new job; to be a lover, leader and provider. He was to love his bride, lead her and provide for her. And this is what it really means to be a man. If you are going to be a real man, then you’re going to have to work these three things into your life as well. To not do them, is to not be a real man, plain and simple.

One of the most exasperating things I see, are guys who treat this role in their lives with disdain and selfishness. They live by the mantra of I’m going to get mine and the heck with the rest of you! Selfishness is the enemy of manhood. In the next few blogs I’m going to talk to you about what it really means to be a man, and I hope if you see yourself lacking in any way that you will make the corrections necessary.

It’s time men stood up and took their God given roles back, be the men the world needs and stop being like Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up but lived only for himself.

 

 

The Little Foxes

In the book of Songs 2:15 NLT Solomon says, “Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming!” I find it very interesting this is in the book about love and marriage. One thing I’ve learned in almost 30 years of marriage, is it’s not the big things that try to make a shambles of my relationship with my bride, it’s the stupid little things. Just like water dripping on a rock constantly doesn’t appear to be doing anything, but over time it will wear away at the rock until it is destroyed. This one thing would change the course of marriages around the world.

Stop allowing the little things to mess up the relationship you have with your spouse. You know what I’m talking about too, those little irritants which eventually become big things which cause the death of marriages. The pet peeves, which to other people are nothing, but to you cause aggravation. I’ll give you an example from my own life. For some reason my bride never puts her seatbelt on until we’re driving down the road. I mean, how hard is it to buckle up before putting the car into gear? But even though it bugs me that she does this, I’ve learned to just put it out of my mind, looking at it as one of those little idiosyncrasies which make me love her all the more. It’s a matter of perspective, much like everything else in life.

Now looking at this Scripture and using the law of opposites we can see if little things can destroy your marriage, then it’s possible that doing little things can also make your marriage better. For instance, I don’t wait for my bride to say something about taking out the trash, I make sure it is done before she has too. I look for little things I can do to help to make her life a little bit better. I’m amazed at how many men gripe and complain about their wives. Getting all indignant when they’ve been asked to empty the dishwasher or do a load of wash. Really? Is it more important to make this a big thing when in actuality it is just a tiny thing which can help you in the long run? After all we all know if momma ain’t happy, then nobody is happy. Right?

Let me write this where the fellas can understand it just a little bit better. If you want to have sex with your wife, then doing little things to make your marriage better will help with this. What woman  wants to have sex with a guy who gripes about having to do things around the house? Doing things for your bride pays dividends unlike anything else out there in the world. And ladies sex motivates guys, it’s the truth regardless of what you think. Maybe you could use this to your advantage, and I don’t mean as a tool to get what you want, but if your husband is making an effort, then do a little something’ somethin’ for him, you’ll be amazed.

Let’s start doing little things to make our marriages better, and stop doing the things which hinder it. After all, most of those little things are really stupid and we shouldn’t give them any attention any way, right?

Living out God’s Word in everyday life!

 

“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!

 

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…

 

 

 

 

 

No Man Is A Failure Who Has Friends

Yesterday was a day of celebration for the family of some of my closest friends. It was the wedding day of their youngest daughter Ashley, and the ceremony was perfect and she was stunning in her wedding gown. As I was enjoying my morning coffee before leaving for the festivities, I was spending time looking through pictures on my Facebook page. As I clicked from picture to picture I began to reminisce about the things Ashley’s dad and I had done together. You see Terry and I were very good friends; more brothers actually than friends. He was the man I could go to with anything and everything, and I was this for him too. Ours was the picture of what a true friendship should be.

The reason I say “we were friends” is because he died and went to be with the Lord almost a year ago. It was a shock to say the least; it was sudden and totally unexpected. Now I won’t wax philosophical about his passing, because this is not the purpose of my blog tonight. I’m writing about friendship and what it means to be a friend. And I do know I will see him again one day. I guess this means we are still friends. Ha!

Back in May, I, along with six other friends of mine received a text from the bride to be, asking if we would be willing to stand in for her dad in some of the pictures and then dance with her in his place. To say I was honored is an understatement. “I answered back immediately my acceptance of her offer by replying, “Absolutely, I’d be honored to.”

Dancing with Ashely

With tears in our eyes as we danced yesterday, I told her how proud I was of her and the woman she has become, and how proud I knew her dad was of her. This was an easy thing to tell her too, because Terry and I had talked about her often and he always beamed when her name came up in conversation. My friend loved his two girls and was just about the proudest dad I’ve ever known. No matter what was going on in Heather or Ashley’s lives he could never say enough good things about them. It was one of the qualities I loved the most about Terry. He was such an awesome cheerleader for his kids.

Rainbow

As we celebrated the ceremony with Ashley and Jason, off to the left of us all in the sky a beautiful rainbow appeared. I couldn’t help but think about how Terry probably asked God to do a little something special for his baby girl since it was her special day. It is exactly the type of thing he would do too. Yesterday was just an awesome day; one I won’t soon forget.

While yesterday was my good friend’s daughter’s day, I couldn’t help but think a little bit about how much this friendship we took the time to cultivate has meant to both of our families. It may have started out as a mutual love of movies and pop culture, but grew into a brotherhood which has enabled our two families to become one. And that my friends is a good thing, and I am eternally grateful for it too.

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.