Tag Archive for priorities

Married to Burger King?

Remember the old Burger King commercials?  I used to sing their moto, “Have It Your Way…,” such a catchy tune.

Unfortunately, some people think they’re married to Burger King. They want to always “have it their way” in marriage, treating their spouse like Burger King. They want their “Burger King spouse” to accept their way and agree with it, or at least act as though they do. They always believe their way “is right” and will argue their point in an effort to make their “Burger King spouse” toes the line and complies with their way. They do this by insisting on “their way” with vigor and passion, often overwhelming their spouse with their energy. They persist in this persuasion until their “Burger King spouse” accepts their conclusion as the right conclusion. What they don’t admit to themselves is “their Burger King spouse” often does this just to end the conflict and not have to talk about it anymore. As soon as the “Burger King spouse” gives in, a wedge (not a pickle wedge or a lettuce wedge but a solid, distancing wedge) is forced between them. That wedge will grow and fester, hindering intimacy and even leading to more conflict in the future.

“Having it your way” doesn’t work in marriage because none of us are married to Burger King. (Well, accept maybe Mrs. Burger King.)  Our spouse has their own opinions, perspectives, and ideas. Maybe you “hold the lettuce” and she piles it on…or you “hold the pickles” while he asks for extra pickles. More significantly, maybe she wants a minivan and you want an SUV…or you want to spend some money on a few weekend vacations each year, but he wants to skip the weekend getaways and save all the money for retirement. I won’t list possible differences you and your spouse may hold. I’m sure you can think of a few on your own. The point is, when we insist on always being right, when we demand to “have it our way,” we push our spouse away. In the words of a more marriage friendly moto, “You can be right…or you can be in relationship.” “Being in relationship” requires that we accept our spouse’s point of view as valid, just like our point of view. It means we don’t demand to “have it our way,” but honor our differences by listening and compromising instead.  It means having the grace to “have it their way” now and again instead of “our way.” In short, you’re not married to Burger King so don’t expect to “have it your way” all the time.  Learn to listen, compromise, and turn toward one another in discovering a third alternative that can satisfy each of you. After all, isn’t it more important to have a satisfying marriage than to “have it your way.”

Humility & Your Marriage…Now That’s HOT!!!

“Oh lord it’s hard to be humble when your perfect in every way…” or so said Mac Davis in 1980.  Maybe it’s even harder today. We live in a world that encourages self-promotion. Teens base their self-worth on the number of “likes” they receive for their most recent selfie…and so work to look “perfect in every way” before posting the “spontaneous” selfie.  But, when it comes to creating long-term marital bliss humility is hot! A study published in 2015 explored the role of humility in relationships (Humility and Relationship Outcomes in Couples). They compared how a person perceived their partner’s humility to their relationship satisfaction and forgiveness. They also explored whether commitment played a role. They discovered that as one’s perception of their partner’s humility increased so did forgiveness and satisfaction in the relationship. In other words, a partner’s humility contributes to their partners sense of relational commitment, satisfaction, and willingness to forgive.

This begs the question…what exactly is humility and how do we increase it in our relationship? First, humility involves having an accurate view of ourselves. It means we recognize our strengths and our weaknesses. Second, humility involves having an “other-oriented” perspective rather than a selfish perspective. A humble person does not boast or act prideful. They also show a willingness to sacrifice self-gratification to meet their partner’s needs. They make self-promotion secondary to partner-promotion.

The question remains: how do we develop humility in our marriages? Based on the definition above, here are several ideas to get you started.

  1. Acknowledge your own strengths AND weaknesses. We all have them…so admit it. If you don’t know what they are, ask your spouse and maybe a few other people who love you and know you well. Put on a tough skin and listen carefully. Don’t think so highly of your strengths that you ignore your weaknesses; don’t obsess over your weaknesses so much you neglect your strengths. Acknowledge both.
  2. Put your spouse first. In communication your first goal is to understand your spouse because what they have to say is important. In living a healthy life your first goal is to assure your spouse has what they need to live healthy (opportunities for healthy food, rest, exercise). In entertainment your first goal is for your spouse, not yourself. In all areas, put your spouse and their needs first. You can still take care of yourself. After all, your spouse needs a healthy partner. So by all means, take care of yourself because your spouse is of utmost importance and they need a healthy partner.
  3. Accept your spouse’s influence in your life. Let their needs and vulnerabilities, fears and joys influence your decisions, your words, and your actions. Allow their requests to influence your behavior and daily chores. Allowing your spouse to influence your words and deeds is an amazing expression of humble love.
  4. Admit your mistakes and ask for forgiveness when necessary. We all make mistakes. A humble person acknowledges their mistakes and seeks forgiveness. They apologize for their wrong doings, even when those wrong doings are unintentional.
  5. Offer forgiveness. A humble person is gracious in offering forgiveness. They do not demand undue retribution. They recognize that all of us (including me) have “fallen short” and made mistakes. As a result, they do not hold a grudge. They accept the other person’s apology and seek to restore the relationship.

One last thing to remember. Beauty fades over time. Skin sags, body shapes change. But, humility grow and flourishes over time. Outward beauty is hot for the moment, but humility…now that’s hot for a lifetime!

What Do You Really Want for Your Children?

I hate to say it, but parents have a huge responsibility. A tremendous burden rests on our shoulders. The future of our world depends on the priorities and values we instill in our children. I mean, it’s true but I didn’t think about that kind of responsibility when my wife and I decided to have children. But we quickly came to realize the need to take that responsibility seriously. We had to ask ourselves what values we really want to instill in our children. We needed to assess what we really want our children to learn. We had to nurture and teach our children to enable them to “see the big picture.”  Here are some of the questions we ask of ourselves. What are your answers?

  • Do we want our children to learn that the most important aspect of life is to win at any cost or do we want them to play the game while encouraging and supporting even the competition?
  • Do we want our children to learn to “get over on the system” or to live with integrity and honesty while working to change the system?
  • Do we want our children to pursue their own interests to the neglect of others or to pursue their interests while remaining aware, respectful, and encouraging of other peoples’ interests as well?
  • Do we want our children to fight for “my rights” or to have a more expansive view that also considers the rights of others and balancing the rights of all through service and sacrifice?
  • Do we want our children to get rich or to share with those who have genuine need?
  • Do we want our children to work to the neglect of relationship or to work to gain the resources they can use to build relationships?
  • Do we want our children to worry about the future at the expense of enjoying the moment or to prepare for the future while enjoying the moment? In fact, to even believe that how we enjoy the moment shapes our future!
  • Do we want our children to learn that “my” job or interests is most important and prestigious or to learn that everyone’s jobs and interests carry importance, prestige, and an amazing set of knowledge not everyone shares?
  • Do we want our children to learn that “my” opinion is best or to develop a genuine interest and respect in other people’s ideas and opinions, even if you disagree?

You cannot NOT teach your children these values. In your everyday words and actions, you teach your children these values.  They learn them from what you say and what you do, how you treat them and how you treat one another. Consider the values you want them to learn. Then start living them out in your daily life today!

Benefits of Family Celebration

Healthy families celebrate. They need to celebrate. Celebration creates even healthier families. How does celebration build a healthier family? “Let me count the ways.”

  1. Celebration fosters an abundant family life filled with joy. It’s just plain fun! And fun adds abundance and vitality to life.
  2. Celebration helps families balance their approach to one another and life. Celebrating families learn to not take themselves or one another too seriously. It frees them to experiment with new activities, to explore the world around them and learn about themselves and one another.
  3. Celebration enhances and restores intimacy in your family. Celebration helps us set aside disagreements for a time. It lets us have an experience of joy with the one who disagreed with us. Those who disagreed find themselves in harmony as they celebrate together. They discover a basis on which to restore the intimacy of their relationship, even though they might disagree. Plato reportedly said, “You can learn more about a person in an hour of play than in an hour of conversation.” I think it’s true for celebration as well as play.  Try it out and see if you agree.
  4. Celebration refreshes our perspective of other family members. While we will likely encounter frustrating interactions with family members, celebration teaches us that the same person can laugh. They have an inner playfulness. We learn a whole new side of the people with whom we celebrate. We learn that we celebrate similar things even though we might have disagreements in other areas. We can disagree and celebrate. We can disagree and live at peace. We can disagree and love.
  5. Celebration will energize your family. It culminates in a renewed vitality for life. When we celebrate accomplishments, relationships, or effort, we encourage continued effort. The celebration of effort and achievements revitalizes the desire to keep trying and do more. Why? We all enjoy being recognized and acknowledged.
  6. Celebration reveals and strengthens your family’s priorities and values. We celebrate those things we value. And, we engage in those things we celebrate most often. Celebration will increase behaviors that match your priorities.
  7. Celebration creates an upward spiral of positive experiences and joy for your family. It reinforces the priorities, encourages repeating the priorities, and increases the joy of celebrating those priorities. Celebration will help drive your family toward a future of more success and joy. Who wouldn’t want to do the right thing when you know it will be acknowledged and celebrated?

Yes, healthy families celebrate. Celebration creates an even healthier family. Why not start celebrating your family today?

With An Eye to the Future

One of my daughter’s dearest friends (and a close family friend as well) got married in September. They arranged a beautiful wedding and reception. There were two unique aspects of their wedding that revealed their hearts and the direction of their life together. First, they invited all of us to not only witness their marriage but to join with them in worship during the ceremony. We sang praise to the God of Love. It was a time to remember that the love they share is a gift from the Giver and Sustainer of Love.

 

Second, they shared in the Lord’s Supper with one another after exchanging their vows. In essence, their first act as a married couple was to share in the memory of the One who “gave Himself” for His Bride, to make her holy and blameless.

 

These two acts, worship and sharing the Lord’s Supper, not only represent a moment in their ceremony but, I pray, set the direction for their marriage as well. I hope they engaged in these two acts with an eye to the future. Marriage is beautiful, a wonderful glimpse of heaven. In those times when marriage is good, I hope they remember to worship the One who gives the gift of love. But, marriage can prove difficult at times. It is not always easy to “give ourselves” to our spouse, to sacrifice our own desires in order to bring our spouses into a closer relationship with us. I pray that during those times they will remember the Lord’s Supper and how He gave Himself for His Bride, sacrificing Himself to bring His Bride closer in relationship to Him. With these thoughts in mind, I offer this pray for you, Anthony and Alyssa, a blessing for your marriage.

 

May your way, when it is easy,

Be filled with humble praise;

But when it’s rocky or obstructed

Or trying or just plain tough

Let your strength be found in worship

Of the One who feeds your love;

The One who gave Himself to make 

His True Love’s charms shine forth.

 

May you, as well, give of your selves

And so release the seed of

Love to blossom in full sight 

So all her charms are known.

Then, turn again to worship

And offer humble praise

To Him who nurtures your true love

In times of joy and pain.     

 

Anthony and Alyssa, I pray you find the joy of your lifetime in one another and in the God you chose to worship and remember during your wedding ceremony, the God who gave you this wonderful gift of love.

“Kingdom Family”-Another Great Family Camp Weekend

Just came home from the 2017 family camp weekend at Camp Christian. If you weren’t there, you missed a great weekend of fun, fellowship, and learning of God’s will for our family lives. Ken and Laurie Muller honored us with practical teaching focused on becoming part of the “Kingdom Family.” Using Psalm 128:1 as the primary verse, they described our “one job:” to walk and obey. We also learned about the importance of balance in our lives as we had the chance to walk a “tightrope” that was simply drawn on the ground. Although walking the tightrope drawn on the ground proved nearly impossible, the balance in our lives and our families can be found through the three P’s of prayer to God, provision from God, and peace by God. We then had the opportunity to ride a “bicycle built for two” (really, we got the chance to ride a tandem bike) and learn how communication helps us keep our balance as a couple. We also learned how the three R’s (respect one another, respond to one another, and react to problems with love) help our family run like a well-trained team…with an honoring voice and attitude proving an important aspect of precision teamwork. We even had a visiting knight, William, who encouraged us to be strong in our faith by wearing the full armor of God.

You can see we learned a lot…and we had a lot of fun. I love to see families smiling, laughing, sharing, and worshipping together. And I observed of all four this weekend. As the weekend came to an end, Ken and Laurie gave us “carry out orders” to go. (How often do you get to leave camp with a Chinese takeout container?)  This “carry out order” is a great tool to help us “carry out the orders” of our King, making us stronger kingdom families! Like a said, if you didn’t get to be with us this weekend you missed a great weekend of fun, fellowship, and learning how to live as a “Kingdom Family.”

Jim and Terry, thanks for organizing another great weekend. Ken and Laurie, thank you for sharing God’s wisdom in such a practical and meaningful way this weekend. And, thanks to “Bald Greg and the Dirty Pirates” (the name given our worship leaders by one of “bald Greg’s” students) for leading us in wonderful times of worship. I’m already looking forward to next year.

The Most Important Questions Your Children Never Asked

Remember the age when your children started asking questions? I don’t mean when they asked one or two questions. I’m talking about the age in which they did nothing but ask questions every waking hour of every day. They asked about everything. They even asked questions about the questions! It was a constant barrage of never ending questions. Even in the midst of all those questions your children probably never asked the questions listed below…not out loud anyway. Sure, they wanted the answers to these questions, they even needed the answers, but they didn’t ask them out loud. They asked these questions through behaviors like hanging around your legs, getting under your feet, pushing limits, and even disobeying a request while looking you straight in the eye. What questions were they asking without using their words? The truly important questions like:

  1. Will you set clear and fair rules and limits? Will you enforce those limits consistently or can I make you give in? Your consistency answers another question I have…will you really keep me safe? Am I safe to explore the world under your watchful, loving eye?
  2. Do you delight in me? When I walk in the room, do your eyes light up with joy or do you look bothered and annoyed? Am I lovable and delightful in your eyes…or am I a nuisance?
  3. Do you realize I’m still a kid? I don’t have the knowledge or experience you have. Will you match your expectations match with my ability or will you expect me to do things I don’t have the ability or knowledge to do yet? Will you teach me and help me experience success so I can grow more confident?
  4. I hear you and see you. I’m listening to you and watching you very closely every day. I learn from everything you say and do. What will I learn from you?
  5. Can you hear me? Can you respect my ideas, even if they’re different than your ideas? Can I be my own person or am I trapped being the person you want me to be?
  6. Do you see me or just my grades? My character or just my sporting ability? My dreams or my achievements?
  7. Can we play together? I talk best when we’re having fun. So, can we have fun together?
  8. Will you accept me even when I make mistakes, clumsily spill a drink, act like a 5-year-old, or have a different opinion than you?
  9. Will you ever give up on me? Will I ever do something so bad that you just get rid of me?
  10. Do you really love me?

Our children need to know the answers to these questions even though they may never ask them out loud. It doesn’t really matter if they ask out loud because we answer these questions whether we know it or not. Our children discover the answers to these questions in how you look at them, how we talk to them, how we act toward them, and how we interact with them.  They hear the answers in our speech and see the answers in our deeds. The answers they receive will shape their identity, their confidence, their desire to learn, their character, their self-concept.  So, let me ask one final question: what answers do your children hear from you in response to these questions?

The Family Conundrum We All Face

The Journal of Consumer Research recently published a series of studies exploring the connection between leisure time, busyness, and status (Lack of Leisure: Is Busyness the New Status Symbol). The authors found busyness associated with a perception of high status in the United States. In other words, the busier a person’s life, the more important his he is in the eyes of his peers. In addition, using products and services that “showcase one’s busyness” (like online shopping and grocery deliver) made people appear more important, more in demand, and thus of higher status. So, if you want people to see you as important, keep busy.

The World Leisure Journal, on the other hand, published a study suggesting leisure time spent with family at home was a significant “predictor of happiness for families” (Pleasant Family Leisure at Home May Satisfy Families More Than Fun Together Elsewhere, Study Finds). Taken together, these two studies raise an interesting conundrum for many families. Success and status are associated with busyness; but family joy and intimacy is associated with leisure time spent as a family. And, if you haven’t noticed, our families are caught right in the middle of this dilemma. Children and teens live busy lives. They rush from one activity to another, participating in one program after another program so they can build a resume with enough “status” to impress any university of their choosing. They become so busy that parents rush through the drive-thru to order dinner on their way to the next activity. Parents are not immune from their own busyness either. They not only rush the children around; they also take on more assignments at work to increase their status and reputation in hopes of getting the promotion and the raise that will fund their family’s hectic lifestyle. Status for children pursued through involvement in multiple activities. Status for parents rests on busy children and is further pursued through busyness at work and community involvement. The whole family achieves the status of importance and “in demand” but forfeits family joy and intimacy. Family joy and intimacy requires leisure time spent together as a family. Family happiness grows slowly in the soil of leisure time spent talking, laughing, and sharing together.

These two studies really do present a conundrum for the average family. Finding the balance is not simple. I guess we have to ask ourselves a question: “What is more important to me and my family, status or family happiness?” Then choose your lifestyle accordingly…for “what does it profit a man if he gains reputation and status but loses his own family along the way.”

A Modest Proposal with Revolutionary Consequences

I’m not very political. In fact, I tend to avoid most political debates. That being said, who can miss the tumultuous political struggle going on right now? Our nation is in an uproar. Division seems to be at an all-time high. Our nation’s struggle intrudes into our daily life on the news, in the streets, and on our social media. Many of the voices are loud, angry, defensive, accusatory, and even offensive. Somehow we have to find a way to create change, a way to build the kind of nation we all desire. So, I’m going to dip my toe in the pond…and hopefully not stick my foot in my mouth. I have a suggestion, a modest proposal with revolutionary consequences. Under this proposal, every man, woman, and child can become actively engaged, on a daily basis, in creating the nation we all desire. We can all become agents of change, creating an environment in which our communities and our nation can thrive. My modest proposal: Elevate Family and Marriage! Every day do something to strengthen your family and your marriage…and encourage those around you to do the same. Empower one another to build healthy families.

I can hear the skeptics now. “What? That’s it? Where are the revolutionary consequences? How can elevating the family create a thriving nation? We need healthcare. We need a better economy. We need equal rights. We need more than just a happy home.” I told you it was a modest proposal. But, hear me out. Elevating the family does have revolutionary consequences.

  • Elevating the family and marriage will result in greater health. Happily married men and women live longer, healthier lives. They recover more quickly from illnesses and surgeries. They spend less time in hospitals than those who are unmarried or unhappily married. Married people exhibit the lowest rates of mental illness (California Healthy Marriage Coalition). Do you hear it? A consequence of greater health that will decrease health care costs. I know this won’t end the healthcare crisis, but it’s a start. Yet we spend more money on our wedding and honeymoon than we do on learning what it takes to have a healthy marriage. We need to elevate the family.
  • Elevating the family and marriage will result in healthier children, too. Children who live in healthy families are more likely to do well in school and graduate from high school and college. Children from divorced families receive mental health treatment about twice as often as those in healthy families. “The rate of virginity among teenagers at all ages is highly correlated with the presence or absence of married parents.” They are less likely to parent a child as a teen. Living with biological parents reduces the risk of child abuse, too. Children who live in an intact family also exhibit the lowest rate of drug use. They commit significantly fewer crimes. Once again, this won’t alleviate the problems, but it’s a tremendous start. But we invest more money in response to problems than we do in elevating the family that will help prevent the problem in the first place (California Healthy Marriage Coalition).
  • Elevating family and marriage reduces the number of people living in poverty. Economists estimate that individuals within a married couple each have a net worth about twice as great as never-married individuals and divorced individuals. “When it comes to building wealth or avoiding poverty, a stable marriage may be your most important asset” (The Case for Marriage).
  • Healthy families raise girls who become stronger women. Girls who grow up in a healthy, intact family achieve better in school, are less likely to experience teen pregnancy, and experience positive marriages themselves. A father who is present and active in the home broadens a daughter’s perceived career options, aka-helps create an environment in which women will “break the glass ceiling” (The Top 6 Reasons for Men to Help Around the House).
  • Strong families that promote healthy attachments produce more tolerant people. In fact, one study found that simply priming someone with the name of a person with whom they had a strong attachment led to more tolerant and generous behavior toward a long-standing enemy (Hot Sauce vs. the Power of Relationship).

I think you get the idea. Elevating healthy families and marriages can lead to greater health, more financial stability and less poverty, greater tolerance and acceptance of others, less teen pregnancy, less drug abuse, less abortion, stronger women…. It may not fix all the problems tomorrow. But, it is a great start. Any investment in family is ultimately an investment in our community and our nation. Elevate the family and marriage. It truly is a modest proposal with revolutionary consequences. An amazing aspect of this proposal: you can become engaged in the change right where you stand; and, you can become involved today! So, write your congressman. March in the protests. Vote your values. But, in the process don’t forget to LOVE your spouse. NURTURE your children. ENJOY your extended family. SUPPORT your neighbors’ family and marriage. ENCOURAGE those thinking of marriage to take a premarital class. Read a book to strengthen your own marriage and parenting skills. ELEVATE FAMILY!

The Top 12 Duties of a Mother

Mothers have one of the most influential and important jobs in the world…and one of the most difficult. Just consider some of the duties a mother carries out on a daily basis.

  • Party kids and their motherChef: A mother cooks 2-3 meals a day. Sometimes, their children will love the meals you prepare. Sometimes, they will hate them. Most of the time, they simply wolf down the food you prepare and run to their next activity. Occasionally you will receive the cherished “thank you.” Hearing those two words will make every meal you prepared worthwhile.
  • Housekeeper: As a mother you will have the opportunity to clean all kinds of messes—clothes left on the floor, cups left in the living room, spilled food, dirty diapers, vomit, the list goes on. But, one day your child may help clean the kitchen and…well, here’s for wishful thinking.
  • Resolve Conflicts: Children have conflict with friends, siblings, and even their parents. You will have the joy of helping your children learn the skills of listening, negotiation, compromise, and problem-solving, skills that will benefit them for a lifetime.
  • Event Planner: Mothers schedule. What else can I say? From play dates to doctor’s appointments to school events to after school activities to vacations to any number of other events, mothers schedule…a lot!
  • Teacher: Mothers teach their children everything…and I mean everything. When cooking they not only teach their children how to cook, but some basic math. They teach their children about relationships, problem resolution, and dating skills. Even more, they teach their children how to think! Mothers teach these things without even knowing they do it. Then there are all the things they teach on purpose…things like math, reading, how to clean, how to do laundry, how to keep house, etc.
  • Chauffeur: Mothers take their children to school, the doctor, and the dentist. They take their children to sporting activities, dance, gymnastics, and music lessons. They drive their children to play dates and to the store. And, they turn each drive into an opportunity to talk, grow closer, and learn. (See duty labeled “Teacher.”)
  • Laundry: Mothers do laundry. They get out the stains and keep the bright colors. Life needs a clean start!
  • Counselor: Children come to their mothers when they fail a test and when their heart is broken. Mothers comfort and advise. They kiss skinned knees and mend broken hearts. They heal broken spirits and teach children how to shape a joyous future.
  • Finance Manager: Mothers often help to manage the finances, teaching their children to do so as well. Balance the costs of groceries, school activities, and clothes as well as the utilities and other household expenses.
  • Health Care Provider: As previously noted, mother’s kiss skinned knees. They also check their children’s fevers, cook them chicken noodle soup, make them comfortable, and many other “doctoring” duties. In the long run, mothers probably do much more than your average physician and for a lot less pay!
  • Activities Director: When children are bored, mothers come up with ideas. They encourage their children to play. They teach their children nursery rhymes, games, and fun activities like cooking. In so doing, they teach their children how to manage their time in productive, effective ways
  • World Changer: Perhaps the most underrated task a mother fulfills is that of world-changer. Society is a mere 20 years from anarchy or continued civilization. It takes 20 years to raise a child, 20 years to “civilize them” or let them fall into anarchy, 20 years to raise children of character, integrity, and compassion or children of deceit, selfishness, and indifference. A mother plays a great role in this training. Mothers change the world with every child they raise.

Let’s all send out a big “thank you” to all our Moms, the real life impactors…the world changers of our society!

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