Archive for November 29, 2015

Something Greater (sample chapter from For His Eyes Only)

“An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.” (Proverbs 31:10—NASB)

HisEyesCover (2)There resides within your wife something greater than an angel waiting to be set free. She holds within her person a jewel of such great value that, when you understand it, you will freely give up all other desires and completely honor her. I know it sounds like an exaggeration, but it is not. Really, it is not. What is the jewel contained within your wife? Your wife carries in her person the image of God! She is an image-bearer of the Almighty Creator of the Universe, the Lord of Lords. Think of that: God’s compassion, grace, love, and passion are part of your wife’s essence. God’s zeal to protect and nurture are also embedded in your wife’s character. Of course, she may bear His image imperfectly. We all do. Nonetheless, she is created in His image. These godly characteristics (and more) are part of who she is! And, if she has accepted Christ into her life, she also has the Indwelling Spirit of God residing in her. She is the temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). She is an image-bearer of the Almighty God and His temple, the dwelling place of His Spirit. That makes your wife worthy of great honor! But wait, there’s more. She is also chosen by God, a royal child of our King, and a prized possession purchased at great cost by the King’s Son (1 Peter 2:9-10). Yes, your wife possesses inestimable value. Her “worth is far above jewels…” (Proverbs 31:10). This precious woman you have the privilege of calling your wife is a treasure; a delightful gift from God (Proverbs 18:22).

When we understand the value of our wives, our prayers go beyond simple requests. Instead, we will lift our wives up before the light of God to admire and praise their great beauty and value, not to point out flaws or imperfections. When we realize the treasure inherent in our wives, our prayers will be filled with excited gratitude and delight that God has so graciously given us such a wonderful treasure. Prayer for our wife is filled with admiration for the beauty and grace with which she reveals the image of God to our family. Prayers for our wives are filled with awe as we realize their great worth…a value far above jewels. They are a treasure, a delightful gift from God.

As you pray for your wife, list ways in which her attitude, actions, and speech reveal God’s character to you, your family, and your community. To help you think about this, list times your wife has revealed herself an image-bearer of God’s:

  • Compassion:
  • Grace:
  • Zeal to Love:
  • Passion:
  • Zeal to protect:
  • Desire to nurture:
  • Other Godly characteristics your wife reveals through her words and actions:

Father, thank You for bringing my wife into my life and revealing Your character to me through her. Open my eyes to more clearly see how You reveal Yourself to me through her attitude, actions, and speech. Open my heart to know how truly valuable and precious she is as Your image-bearer. Thank You for my wife.

Read reviews of For His Eyes Only by John Salmon on

The Power of “The Dad Joke”

happy pirate familyMy daughters have accused me of telling “Dad jokes.” I don’t know what they’re talking about. Even some of their friends have accused me of telling dad jokes. I asked for clarification of the “Dad joke” and knew their answer could not describe my jokes…”lame,” “silly,” “sarcastic,” “uncool.” Well, maybe I do that once in a while, but is that really so bad?  “No,” my daughters reply as they roll their eyes. “Keep it up, they’re stupid.” So confusing…lame, silly, even stupid and uncool yet embraced, laughed at, and asked to continue. I really don’t know what they’re talking about. But, it did make me think about “the Dad joke.” I think the Dad joke really carries a great deal of power. By the way, what happened when the cow jumped over the fence? I heard it was an udder disaster.


Dad jokes teach children to use humor when navigating the world of disappointment and momentary failures. Dad jokes help set the stage for seeing the disappointing situation in a fresh way and then thinking about the problem in a new way. Like the father whose son was thrown out at third. The father tells him, “That’s because it takes longer to get from 2nd to 3rd than it does from 1st to 2nd. There’s that shortstop in between.” Suddenly, the disappointment is a little less painful.


Dad jokes also help our children cope with fear. Mom and Dad can comfort, but sometimes it’s the Dad joke (“don’t worry about seven, he eight nine and is full now”) on the way out the door that makes children smile and lay down to sleep.


Dad jokes also nurture intimacy and connection. Laughing together bonds people…and it’s just plain fun. Who doesn’t like to have fun together? And what parent does not crave moments of laughter with their children? By the way, no running in your campsite. Why? Because you can only “ran” when it’s past tense.


Dad jokes lighten the moment and make time go faster, building anticipation. In our family we pass a cemetery as we near our church camp. Knowing my children need to learn a little about death, I seize the teaching moment to announce, “People are dying to get in there” and point at the cemetery. Amidst the “Aww Dad” and groans, I hear a chuckle. I recognize a new spark in the voice and hear a response that acknowledges, “We’re almost there, yay.”


Dad jokes help our children see things from a fresh perspective, too. They help our children think about words and communication. After all, many Dad jokes are simply a play on words or a pun that force us think and see the situation in a slightly different way. To hear “A steak pun is a rare medium well done” encourages the listener to think about the meaning of words and how context impacts that meaning. These skills are important in social interactions and business interactions later in life.


Dad jokes also help our children see the irony of situations and, in turn, they encourage critical thinking. “I asked a salesperson in the local bookstore where the self-help section was. She said if she told me it would defeat the purpose.” Think about it…the irony, the critical thought…aha, there’s the laugh.


So, I guess I don’t mind being accused of a Dad joke now and again. Every Dad joke is just a moment of learning, bonding, growing, and sharing. So what’s your favorite Dad joke?

  • We’re going for a walk. Don’t go running. I want to be Roman, not Russian, on this walk. Slow down.
  • “Dad I want hands-free on my phone.” “Then delete all the Germans from your contact list.” “What?” “Then you’ll be Hans free.”
  • I heard the energizer bunny got arrested. He was charged with battery. (It keeps on going and going.)
  • Why can’t you hear a pterodactyl go to the bathroom? Cuz its “p” is silent.
  • How do you make a hankie dance? Put a little boogie in it. Now blow your nose.

Enjoy Jimmy Fallon’s favorite Dad jokes from #StopItDad.

A Fact & A Challenge for Your Marriage

Writing thank you on a blackboard.FACT: Researchers at the University of Georgia recently published the results of a study involving 468 married individuals. The study looked at the impact of financial stress, the demand/withdrawal communication pattern, and the expression of gratitude on marriage. They found expression of gratitude toward one’s spouse was the “most consistent significant predictor of marital quality” among those involved in the study. The more gratitude spouses express toward  one another, the less they used the negative communication pattern in which one partner demands and the other withdraws, and the greater their commitment to their marriage. In other words, feeling and perceiving gratitude from one’s spouse increases commitment to marriage and each spouse’s willingness to communicate about the “difficult topics” in their relationship. There is power in the simple expression of gratitude. (Learn more about the power of gratitude by reading Intentional Gratitude and 4 Tools for a Happy Marriage.) That leads me to the “challenge.”

CHALLENGE: Make a commitment to express gratitude to your spouse on a daily basis. Doing so will increase positive communication, buffer your relationship against various relational stresses, and protect your marriage from divorce. Here are three ways to help you meet this challenge.

  1. At the end of each day reflect back on how many times you expressed gratitude to your spouse…and how many things your spouse did for which you did not express gratitude. Commit to increase your expression of gratitude tomorrow.
  2. Keep a daily gratitude journal by writing 3-5 things you could thank your spouse for doing that day. Share your list with your spouse at the end of the week.
  3. Set a reminder on your cell phone to prompt you to stop three times a day (morning, noon, evening) and think about things you appreciate about your spouse. Each time, write down 1-2 things you appreciate about your spouse. At the end of the day, share two of the things you have listed.

A fact and a challenge that can strengthen your marriage. FACT: There is great power in gratitude.  CHALLENGE: Show gratitude daily! Your marriage will thank you for it.

H.A.L.T. Family Conflict

A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in April, 2014, showed one source of conflict and aggression in marriage: glucose levels. Specifically, the lower the level of glucose in a person’s blood, the higher the level of aggressive impulses and the more likely they were to “blast their spouse” with a more intense and prolonged irritating noise. In other words, hunger can contribute to greater conflict and possibly even aggression. Reading this study reminded me of an important principle of healthy marriages and overall family life: Do not argue when you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired (H.A.L.T.). Another way of stating this principle is: Eat healthy, resolve anger quickly, develop healthy friendships, and establish healthy sleep hygiene for a healthy marriage and happy family. Briefly consider each of these principles.

  • Eat healthy rather than going hungry and devouring one another with irritability and harsh words. The study cited above highlights the need to eat healthy. A healthy diet can decrease agitation and irritation. It improves a person’s ability to learn. It also offers a great opportunity for the family to come together and build family relationships. (For more on the benefits of a healthy diet read Mom Was Right Again and Project Mealtime: A Sacred Expression of Love.)
  • Resolve anger quickly so no bitterness takes root and chokes out your family relationships. Unresolved anger lingers and bursts out at the most inopportune moments, damaging relationships and hurting feelings. For the sake of your marriage and family, resolve anger quickly. (Read Finish Your Family Business for more.)
  • Develop healthy friendships rather than trying to micromanage the lives of your spouse and children. If we intrude into the lives of our spouse or children by making them live our dream or shape their lives around our emotional needs, they may rebel against us, our ideals, and our values. Each person needs to develop their individual lives so they have more to bring to the relationship. Each person needs to develop friendships that allow them the opportunity to grow, learn, and resolve. (Check out Get Your Own Life; Leave Me Alone! to learn the benefit of this for your teen.)
  • Establish healthy sleep hygiene or you will find yourself too tired to invest energy into establishing healthy relationships. Sleep supports the immune system, facilitates learning, and improves mood. We have all seen our children grumpy because they’re tired. We have likely experienced our own grumpiness when tired. So, build healthy sleep habits into the fabric of your family. The whole family will benefit. (Click to learn about Your Teen & the Importance of Sleep and Prime Your Children for a Good School Day.)

H.A.L.T. family conflict. Eat a healthy diet. Resolve anger quickly. Develop friendships. Establish healthy sleep hygiene.

“One Plus Eleven” Ways to Improve Your Family Life

Do you want to decrease arguing and conflict in your family? How about increasing intimacy? Would you like to increase the amount of influence you have with your spouse and children? Here is a single action that can do all that and more: listen! That’s right. listen1Listening to your spouse and children will decrease arguing, increase intimacy, and increase your influence. But, to get the benefits you have to “really” listen, not just “fake it.” You can tell the difference between “faking it” and “really” listening with these eleven tips.

  • You know you’re “faking it” when you are thinking about your response or rebuttal while your spouse/child talks.
  • You know you’re merely “faking it” when you find yourself thinking about points your spouse/child has gotten wrong, misquoted, or misunderstood.
  • You are still “faking it” when you think about ways of defending yourself and your actions while your spouse/child speaks.
  • You are “faking it” when you find yourself looking around the room and not making eye contact with your spouse/children as they speak.
  • You are “faking it” when you review accusations against your spouse/child even as they speak.
  • You are “faking it” when you check your phone or look at your texts during your conversation with your spouse/child.
  • You are “really listening” when you make appropriate eye contact with your spouse or children as they speak.
  • You are “really listening” when you ask questions to clarify and better understand your spouse’s/children’s intent, motives, desires, and emotions.
  • You are “really listening” when can restate your spouse’s/children’s message and they agree with you completely.
  • You are “really listening” when you can identify the emotion behind what your spouse or child is saying and they agree with your label.
  • You are “really listening” when you accept responsibility for your own actions and the impact your spouse/child say those actions had on them.

As you can see, listening takes some effort. It means becoming humble enough to care more about understanding than being understood; humble enough to invest more energy in understanding your spouse than you invest in making them understand you. I offer you a challenge. Practice “really listening” for the next month and see if your family life does not improve. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Parents, Do You Feed Your Insecurity or Your Confidence?

Raising a child is a demanding and difficult task. It raises our anxiety and brings out our greatest insecurities. I don’t know about you, but I have enough personal insecurity without bringing my parenting into the mix! Even worse, the more insecure we feel about our parenting, the less effective we are as parents. Effective parents are confident parents. So, how can we decrease our parental insecurity and increase our parental confidence? Perhaps the answer lies in the old Cherokee fable—the one we feed will grow.

Exhausted MomFeeding Parental Insecurity:

  • We feed parental insecurity with comparisons. When we compare our failed attempts to keep the house spotless or to prepare a healthy three course meal before rushing off to baseball practice with the parent who appears to have it all together, we feed our insecurities. Any time we compare ourselves to another, we feed our insecurities. When we compare our children with other children, we feed our insecurities.
  • We feed parental insecurity with worry about the future. Insecurity grows quickly when we worry about our children’s future education, athletic career, relationships, or safety. When we think more about the future than our present relationship, insecurity mounts. Statements of fear like, “What if I don’t…my children won’t…,” are lies that feed our insecurities.
  • We feed parental insecurity with labels that define us by our children’s status or achievements. When we view our children’s success or lack of success as a reflection on our effectiveness as a parent or our worth as a person, insecurity grows. When we let our children missing a basket, singing off tune, or wearing that oddly colored hat define us, insecurity will grow by leaps and bounds. These incidents may bring looks from other parents. Those looks do not define us; they define them.

Feeding Parental Confidence:

  • We feed parental confidence when we accept our children for “who they are” and “just as they are.” When we become students of children’s interests and strengths and learn to be content in their unique abilities and wonderful averageness, we feed our parental confidence. When we promote activities and opportunities that promote their unique abilities, even if those abilities vary from our interests and the interests of those around us, we will see our children blossom…and that view feeds our parental confidence.
  • We feed parental confidence when we focus on the present with our children. Rather than getting caught up in worry about the future, turn your attention to the present. Rather than worry about college, invest in tuition today. Rather than worry about future athletic achievement, focus on enjoying sportsmanship and athletic activity together today. Rather than worry about future safety, spend time with your children teaching them how to move safely in the world through your example…today! You get the idea. Rather than getting caught up in worry for tomorrow, enjoy your children today…and feed your parental confidence.
  • Feed parental confidence by getting a life. Rather than defining yourself through your children’s achievements and accomplishments, joys and sorrows, get a life of your own. Develop your own interests. Enjoy activities geared toward your strengths. Remember, your children will leave home one day to start a life and family of their own. Develop some hobbies, interests, and activities you can continue to enjoy even after they leave home. Doing so will feed parental confidence.

Now the choice is up to you. Which “wolf will you feed”?

An Amazing Parenting Insight Learned in Three Parts

I love research with infants. I find research it amazing and so very informative…and funny at times. One of my favorite studies is unpublished and came in three parts. I heard a conference speaker describe it. Let me share it with you.

vater und tochter haben spaßPart 1.
An infant is seated in an appropriate chair at a table on which two toys rest. An adult enters the room and sits at the table across from the infant. He makes eye contact with the infant. He interacts and connects with the infant. After the relationship is established, the researcher picks up a toy and engages the infant in play with that toy. Then he puts the toy back in its spot and leaves. A second adult enters the room. He, too, makes eye contact with the infant. He engages the infant in an interaction. After the connection is established, he looks quizzically at the two toys and then at the infant. The infant turns to and reaches for the toy the first adult had play with. Together, the infant and second adult enjoy playing with that toy. Part one, in and of itself, is not surprising so far, but…

Part 2. Again, an infant is seated in an appropriate chair at a table on which two toys rest. An adult enters the room and sits at the table across from the infant. He does NOT make eye contact with the infant. He does NOT engage the infant in an interaction. He does NOT connect in any way with the infant. He simply picks up a toy and plays for a short time, returns the toy to its spot, and leaves. A second adult enters the room. He makes eye contact with the infant, engages the infant in an interaction, and enjoys a connection with the infant. He then looks quizzically at the two toys and the infant. The infant does not respond by pointing out a toy. The infant does not seem to know which toy to pick. Without a connection, the infant did not learn which toy was best. He did not learn which toy to pick and has nothing to share with the second adult. We learn best from those with whom we have a relationship, not strangers. But, there is another, even more intriguing twist ahead in…

Part 3 (my favorite part). Same scenario—an infant sits at a table that has two toys on it. An adult sits across the table, makes eye contact with the infant and engages the infant in an interaction. Once the connection is established, the adult picks up a toy and begins to play with it. But he looks bored with the toy. He does not enjoy the toy. It was a poor choice for him. He puts the toy back in its spot and leaves. A second adult comes in and established contact with the infant. Once the connection is established, he looks from toy to toy and then to the infant. The infant picks a toy for the adult…but NOT the one the first adult was bored with. He picks the other toy! The infant recognized the first adult’s boredom and corrected for his choice when helping the second adult.


Think about what this means for our parenting practices. Our children need us to interact with them and connect with them before they learn from us. They learn out of relationship. When we have a relationship with our children, they even learn from our mistakes and can correct for that mistake in the future. You might ask, “So what?” If I were only concerned with toys, I would ask the same thing. However, if this is true for toys it is likely true for behaviors like hard work and kindness as well. It is probably true for attitudes like politeness and generosity. It is likely needed to pass on values like love and compassion. Our children need us to connect with them and form relationships with them so they can learn the important behaviors, attitudes, and values of life. In other words, our relationship with our children will shape the tomorrow in which we grow old. What kind of tomorrow will your relationship with your children create?

What Your Kids (and You) Really Want!

Walt Mueller of CPYU (see CPYU blogs here) recently posted this 2-minute-42 second video from IKEA. It communicates such an important message for families that I wanted to post it as well. As the holiday season approaches, this video serves as a crucial reminder of what our children really desire. As one comment notes, parents really desire the same thing, especially as their children grow up. So, enjoy the video and think about how you can give this gift to your whole family this holiday season. Doing so will bring in a very special new year!

Don’t “Phub-up” Your Marriage

A study out of Baylor University suggests that married couples can damage their marriage and romance by “phubbing” their partner. Specifically, a survey of 145 people found that “phubbing” your partner creates conflict and leads to lower marital satisfaction. So, quit “phubbing” your spouse!

phubbingIf you’re like me, you have no idea whether you phub your partner or not because you have no idea what “phubbing” is. I know what you mean. I’m the same way. So, let me share what I found out. “Phubbing” is “snubbing your partner in order to look at your phone”…phubbing. (I know. Where do people come up with this stuff? But, I like it!) Anyway, this study found partners feel “phubbed” if, and I quote:

  • “My partner places his/her cellphone where they can see it when we are together.
  • My partner uses his/her cellphone when we are out together.
  • My partner uses his/her cellphone during leisure time we could spend together.
  • My partner keeps his/her cellphone in their hand when he or she is with me.
  • My partner glances at his/her cellphone when talking to me.
  • My partner checks his/ her cellphone in the midst of conversation.
  • My partner checks his/her cellphone if there is a lull in our conversation.”

In this survey 46% of the respondents had been “phubbed” by their partners. A full 23% said “phubbing” caused conflict in their relationship and 37% felt depressed about it! Think about that, one in four said “phubbing” caused conflict and one in three said it depressed them. So you can see how “phubbing” lowers marital satisfaction for the one being “phubbed.”

Perhaps we need to add a warning label to all cellphones: “Warning. Use with caution. Phubbing is harmful to your marriage and relationships, creating a 23% chance of conflict with your partner.” Or, perhaps I go to far…just quit “phubbing up” your marriage. (For more on the impact of cellphones on relational intimacy read Family Date Night Tip: Don’t Text & Date.)