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Become the Catalyst for an Honorable Family

I often speak about honoring one another in the family. However, it is just as important (maybe more important) to become a person your family can honor. In fact, if we do not become a person worthy of honor, we set the whole family up for trouble. Consider what happened in Noah’s family when he acted dishonorably. Noah was a great man; but, after the flood he got drunk, a passed-out-laying-in-his-tent-naked-drunk. His son, Ham, found familysunhearthim, saw his father’s shame, and exposed his father’s dishonor by telling his brothers about his “find.” Noah had acted dishonorably by getting drunk. Ham had acted dishonorably by spreading the news of his father’s shame. These dishonorable acts ultimately resulted in Ham’s descendants living in servitude to their cousins (Genesis 9:25). The dishonorable actions of a father opened the door for his son to act dishonorably and for generations to live under the consequences of dishonor. Imagine the weight of that burden on Noah. You can avoid this heavy consequence by becoming a person of honor.  Here are several traits a person of honor exhibits. Read them carefully and start living a life of honor today…for your family’s sake!

  1. A person worthy of honor is humble. We admire a humble person. A humble person listens and accepts correction, allowing him to grow in character. He believes that others have important contributions to make and, as a result, listens carefully and takes those contributions to heart.
  2. A person worthy of honor is gracious. A gracious person gives his time and energy to help and support those around him. A gracious person forgives. He accepts that others make mistakes and patiently corrects misunderstandings. A gracious person accepts others in spite of any mistakes or misunderstandings. A gracious person is a person worthy of honor.
  3. A person worthy of honor shows kindness to others. A person of honor does not need a bumper sticker proclaiming “random acts of kindness.” Everyone around him observes his kindness and receives the benefits of his kindness. Acting in kindness is second nature to him. He loves to hold the door open for others, allow others to go first in traffic, or speak words of encouragement to the downhearted. Kindness is his modus operandi.
  4. A person worthy of honor accepts correction and discipline. An honorable person humbly accepts his own shortcomings. He realizes his imperfection and admits his mistakes. As a result, he not only accepts but cherishes the correction of others. He realizes that correction helps him grow and become a more honorable person.
  5. A person worthy of honor speaks the truth. We know we can trust the word of an honorable person. He does not tell even white lies. You can completely trust the person of honor because he has no hidden agendas. He lovingly speaks the truth.
  6. A person worthy of honor keeps his word. His “yes” is “yes” and his “no” is “no.” When an honorable person promises to do something for you, you know it will get done. He does not make idle promises or promises he cannot keep. This adds to our willingness to trust a person of honor.
  7. A person worthy of honor works to provide for himself and his family. An honorable person does not trick others to make a gain. He does not connive and conspire to get ahead. Instead, he works hard. He works hard in response to his love for family. He works hard so no one has to carry the burden of caring for his needs. He works hard for the joy of helping others in their time of need.
  8. A person worthy of honor is generous. An honorable person gives to others with no expectation of return. He gives simply for the joy of giving. This does not mean he gives frivolously. He shares from his abundance with those who have need; but, he does so wisely, as a good steward. He not only shares his material wealth, but he shares his time and effort as well.
  9. A person of honor stands firm in his beliefs. He is not easily swayed. You know where he stands and what he believes. There is no guessing or fear about what he believes or how he will act. He is open and firm. Although he stands firm in his beliefs, he does not become rude. Instead, he remains firm in a loving and polite manner.


To build a family of honor, become a person of honor. Practice these nine attributes to become a person of honor. Your family will honor you and thank you…and you will enjoy the benefits of an honor filled family for generations to come.

Husbands…Set Her Free

Picture an imaginary scene from the life of Michelangelo. A group of community leaders has commissioned Michelangelo to sculpt a statue for the town square. Michelangelo accepted the David Statue in Florence Tuscanycommission and now wanders through a quarry to choose a block of stone from which to sculpt the commissioned statue. He slowly walks past various stones, peering carefully at each one…first from one side, then the other. The quarry master quietly follows close behind. He knows each block of stone by weight and shape—this oblong one is 25 pounds, this square one just under 50. He wonders what goes through the mind of an artist like Michelangelo. Hesitantly, he asks, “Can I help you find something in particular?” Michelangelo, continuing to stare at one particular stone, replies in a distant voice, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it, and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” Together, they continue to roam through the quarry. Finally, Michelangelo picks a block of marble. To the quarry master it appears to be an oddly shaped block of fair quality. He gives Michelangelo a deal, thinking about the publicity a statue made by Michelangelo from a stone purchased at his quarry will bring. He even has the marble block transported to the town square, where Michelangelo will complete a sculpture of his choice (the mayor has given him “artistic license”). Michelangelo begins his work. He chips and chisels, carves, sands, and smooths. Hours turn into days and days turn into weeks before Michelangelo steps back to reveal a beautifully sculpted angel. The quarry master, who had stayed nearby to see what Michelangelo would do with the block of marble, stares in unbelief to see the beautiful angel standing where he had placed an oddly shaped block of marble. He looked at the statue and then turned to Michelangelo. “How did you know? How did you make that block of marble into such a beautiful angel?” Michelangelo looked at the quarry master and replied, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”


I don’t know if an event like this ever happened; in fact, I rather doubt it. I do know that Michelangelo is credited with the two quotes noted above… and those quotes have significance when it comes to our wives.  In our marriage, God has called us to see the “angel” in our wife and set her free! You may think I’m crazy, but Solomon, the wisest scholar in the Bible, records a similar truth in his love story, The Song of Songs. He opens his story by introducing us to a woman filled with self-doubt, a woman who sees herself as ugly and unworthy. I imagine her self-deprecating tone as she tells those around her, “Do not stare at me…because I am darkened by the sun. …My own vineyards I had to neglect.” But she has an admirer, a young man who sees the angel in the darkened skin, sun-streaked hair, and calloused hands of this working woman. He turns to her and says, “How beautiful you are my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes are doves.” He even describes her as a “lily among thorns is my darling among the young women.” In response to his admiration, her “angel” newly married couple chasing each other in fieldcomes forth. The young woman begins to accept her own beauty and calls herself a “rose of Sharon, a lily of the valley.” While she saw as a sun-darkened, hard-working calloused body, her admirer saw an “angel.” He recognized the “angel” within her and called her out. In response to his spoken admiration (“how beautiful you are my darling”), she gained confidence. In response to the value he placed on her (“as a lily among thorns is my darling among the young women”), she saw herself as valuable. He had seen the angel within her and set her free! The first step in growing more intimate with your wife is to see the “angel” within her, those attributes that makes her a “lily among thorns” in your eyes.


In another book, Solomon tells us that “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband” (Proverbs 12:4) and “her worth is far above jewels” (Proverbs 31:10). “An excellent wife” is a good way to describe the angel in your wife, the virtue and strength of character she possesses. When Solomon speaks of a “crown,” he is not speaking of a king’s crown. A crown is a sign of honor, joy, and gladness. He is saying your wife is your honor, your joy, and your gladness.  Take a moment right now and think about your wife. Consider her excellence as well as the honor and joy she brings into your life. To help you think about these things, consider these questions:

  • What qualities first attracted you to your wife?
  • What are your wife’s strengths?
  • What are your wife’s best character traits?
  • How does your wife bring you honor?
  • What do you admire about your wife?
  • If your wife were to suddenly disappear for some reason, what would be missing in your life? Your home? Your family?
  • How does your wife make your life better?
  • How does your wife bless your family? Benefit your family? Make your family life better?


Thank God for your wife, this “excellent woman” who is a “crown” of great worth.

Put the Zing of Anticipation in Your Marriage

We have all experienced anticipation…that feeling of excitement that something is going to happen, the expectation that an exciting event is coming your way! Perhaps you experienced Middle Aged Man Eating Unhealthy Fried Breakfastanticipation while looking at the oddly shaped and wrapped present under the tree with your name on it. Or, you may have felt anticipation when you knew a family member was coming home for a visit after their first semester at college…or your adult child was bringing a newborn grandchild home…or you patiently tapped the Heinz ketchup bottle in just the right place, anticipating the gentle flow of sweet ketchup onto the plate next to your french fries. You get the idea. Anticipation builds excitement. It motivates us to action. It energizes our desires. It draws us toward the object of our anticipation. If waiting for ketchup to come out of the bottle and flavor our fries can do all that, imagine what anticipation can do for your marriage! That’s right, anticipation can build excitement in your marriage; motivate you to act in response to your spouse, energize your desires. It can put the “zing” back in your marriage.  So, how do you build anticipation in your marriage?

  1. Keep your spouse in mind, even when you are apart. If you happen to come across something your spouse enjoys, pick it up and bring it home as a gift. This could be as simple as bringing home her favorite gum or his favorite candy bar. You may find this simply means sending a quick text message telling your spouse you’re thinking of them and love them.
  2. Do the unexpected. Bring home flowers once in a while. If that is too common, try bringing home a fruit bouquet. Maybe you can give your spouse a card of your own design, made with your own hands. Surprise your spouse with tickets for the CLO or the baseball game. Just use your imagination and do something unexpected to express your love to your spouse.
  3. Romance your spouse. Don’t let the romance end after dating. Intentionally keep the romance alive. Imagine putting on some nice music, lighting the candles, and giving your spouse a back massage. Or, go on a special date followed by a walk along the boardwalk hand-in-hand.
  4. Do a special chore around the house. We all know there are chores our spouse hates to do as well as things our spouse would like us to do. Whether it is cleaning the garage or washing the dishes, do a chore that will have special meaning for your spouse.


By doing these activities on a regular basis, you build anticipation in your marriage. Your spouse will wait with excited expectation to see what you will do next. They will look at you with the spark of anticipation in their eyes, waiting expectantly to see how you share your love today. And, your spouse will more actively seek out ways to show you love as well!

8 Fabulous Family Benefits of Thankfulness

Thankfulness is in season right now…however, it has benefits for the family all year round! That’s right; an attitude of gratitude and thankfulness benefits families all the time. Let me share a few of the research based benefits of thankfulness so you can use them to strengthen your own family.

      ·   Gratitude makes us happier. Did you know that taking 5 minutes a day to record your gratitude in a journal can actually increase your sense of well-being by 10%? That’s the same impact as doubling your income…and taking 5 minutes a day to keep a gratitude journal is a whole lot easier than doubling your income! So, if you want a happy family, take five minutes during supper or just before bed and let each family member name a couple things for which they are grateful. Write them down and keep a journal. Review it once in a while to remind yourself of all you and your family have to be thankful for.

·   Gratitude makes us healthier. Want to spend less on family medical care? Want to have a healthier family, allowing your family to get out and do things together? Practice gratitude. Those people who keep a gratitude journal tend to have fewer physical symptoms, less physical pain, more sleep, and increased sleep quality as well as fewer symptoms of depression. Interestingly, in one study a group of people with high blood pressure were instructed to “count their blessings once a week” and had a significant decrease in “systolic blood pressure.” 

·   Gratitude reduces materialism. Becoming aware of and expressing gratitude for what we have shifts our focus away from things that do not really matter. Practicing gratitude helps keep our focus on what does matter—like family, friends, health, and the multitude of blessings we already have. Practically speaking, when our family practices gratitude, family members will ask for less and whine less about “what I wish I had” or the newest gadget “I need.” Instead, we will joyfully share with one another from the bountiful blessings we already have and enjoy.

·   Gratitude makes us less self-centered. An attitude of gratitude focuses on other people—their acts of generosity, kindness, and benevolence. Gratitude focuses on what I have been given, implicitly turning my focus on the grace and generosity of others. As your family practices gratitude, the whole family will become more giving, generous, and other-focused. 

·   Gratitude also reduces feelings of envy. Have your children ever said, “But so-and-so has a…” or “But why does my older brother get to stay up later?” Perhaps you have even had that fleeting thought of envy—”Man, I wish I could afford a house like that.”  Gratitude is the antidote for those feelings of jealousy and envy. Model focusing your attention on those blessings you have…and expressing gratitude for those blessings as well. Teach your children to recognize their blessings.

·   Gratitude creates a happy past. The past we recall is somewhat a choice. We can keep the good or the negative aspects of our past in the forefront of our memory. By keeping a mental record of blessings in the forefront of our memory, we recall a more joyous past filled with blessings. As we express gratitude for what we have today, we prime our mind to remember the blessings of yesterday.

·   Gratitude strengthens your marriage. Marriage loses passion when spouses become less appreciative and interactions become more negative. Practicing gratitude is one way to counter the loss of appreciation and the increase of negative interactions. In addition, we admire those character traits for which we are grateful. So, being grateful for those positive character traits in our spouse and the positive things they do will increase admiration and adoration for our spouse. Increased adoration and admiration translates to more passion too. Not only is this good for you, but your children will feel more secure and have greater happiness as they witness their parents expressing gratitude for one another and sharing a twinkle of admiration and adoration in their eye as they talk of their spouse.

·   Gratitude improves decision making. In one interesting study, doctors were given a patient record that included a list of symptoms and an incorrect diagnosis of lupus. Half of the doctors were also given a token of appreciation to evoke gratitude. Those who were given the token of appreciation were more likely to expend more time and energy to confirm and then correct the misdiagnosis. The doctors who did not receive a token of appreciation were more likely to stick with the incorrect diagnosis. So, if you want your children to think through decisions more often and have increased flexibility to change their poor decisions into better decisions, give them “tokens of appreciation for” (AKA–show gratitude for, thank them for) their efforts and other positive actions. Practicing gratitude toward family members will motivate them to improve decision making. Cultivate the art of thanking one another daily…every chance you get!

Gratitude really does fabulous things for a family. This blog only reviews 8 fabulous family benefits of thankfulness. Check out a full 31 Benefits of Gratitude to discover even more benefits! In the meantime, why not use gratitude to strengthen your family? Model gratitude in your own life so your family can follow your lead. Teach gratitude by asking everyone to share something for which they are thankful. You can do this at dinner time, bed time, or any time when you happen to be talking with one another. Keep a gratitude journal, make a post-it gratitude list on the hallway wall, create a gratitude tree craft on the fridge…. You get the idea, be creative in keeping a gratitude journal as a family. Then, reap the benefits of a grateful family! 

6 Tips to Fertilize Your Marital Lawn

My friend says the “grass is always greener on the other side.” I don’t know. I’ve found that the grass is always greener when I fertilize. My grass stays green through the summer and fall when I take care of the lawn. Trouble is…some summers (like this summer) I get too busy to take care of my lawn. It gets overgrown with weeds and turns brown earlier in the fall. My neighbor fertilized this year and I didn’t. He still has a beautiful lawn…mine is burned out and full of weeds. So, next year I fertilize (well, at least that’s the plan). After all, the grass is always greener when I fertilize.

The same is true in marriage. The best marriages belong to those who fertilize, who take care of their own marital lawn rather than looking at someone else’s. In fact, if you look at other couples and think the grass is always greener on the other side, you definitely need to look at your daily lawn care and use a little marital fertilizer. To help you get started toward a beautiful marital lawn, here are a couple of marital lawn care ideas.

·   Get rid of the weeds that threaten to choke out the healthy growth in your marital lawn. Forgiveness is great for getting rid of deep-rooted weeds like anger and resentment.

·   Time management skills help to eradicate those pesky weeds that seem to pop up all over the place and multiple like dandelions. Time management means learning to say “no” to those activities that might interfere with your marriage and making time to spend with your spouse. Without time management, weeds of busy-ness will grow like dandelions and destroy your marital lawn.

·   Get rid of the grubs and other pests that eat the roots of your healthy lawn. The best way to keeps grubs and pests out of your lawn is to utilize a secret lawn care ingredient made up of equal parts admiration, affection, and acknowledgement. Take the time every day to think about the attributes you admire in your spouse. After you have thought of these attributes, tell your spouse. In other words, tell your spouse at least one thing you admire about them every day. Follow that acknowledgement of admiration with a show of affection…like a hug, a kiss, a stroke of the cheek, a holding of the hand…you can use your imagination to think of others.

·   Water your marital lawn every day with a healthy shower gratitude and kindness. Show your spouse how much they mean to you by doing kind deeds for them every day. Express gratitude for the kind deeds they do for you.

·   Keep your marital lawn well-irrigated with politeness as well. Let “thank you,” “please,” “after you,” and “excuse me” flow freely through the soil of your marriage. 

·   Put some extra fertilizer on your garden. The three ingredients of this fertilizer will keep your marital lawn healthy, green, and plush—it’s the 20-2/6-3 fertilizer

   o    A 20 minute conversation each day to talk about what happened during the day and upcoming plans.

   o    At least 2 hugs a day, each lasting 6 seconds or more.

   o    Share at least 3 kisses each day–one when you say good-bye, another when you return home, and a third when you go to bed.     

If you utilize these marital lawn care practices, you will have a fresh, green lawn free of weeds and pests…and your marriage will prosper. Indeed, the grass is always greener for those who fertilize!

Now That’s A Legacy!

I have heard adults talking about children and making statements like, “He’s got an anger problem, just like his father…” or, “She’s a gossip, just like her mother…” or, “He is so selfish. His grandmother was the same way.” What a terrible family legacy to pass on to our children! I don’t know about you, but I want to pass on a legacy better than “angry,” “gossip,” “selfish,” or any other negative label. I’d rather pass on a legacy of generosity, thoughtfulness, hospitality, gratitude, or kindness. I think I might like to begin the legacy with generosity. A study entitled “Give and You Shall Receive” found that giving generosity to one’s spouse led to greater happiness and marital quality. I like that idea. Moreover, giving generosity had a greater impact than receiving generosity. That finding stands in opposition to our cultural message that close relationships and even marriages “exist primarily to enhance individual happiness and [individual] growth”…in other words, to make me happy. Why would “freely and abundantly giving good things to one’s spouse” increase marital quality and happiness? I’m glad you asked.
     1.      We have to learn about our spouse in order to give her something she will find meaningful. Not everyone finds a bouquet of flowers meaningful; so, we have to become a student of our spouse to discover their interests, likes, and dislikes. We have to know what our spouse considers a “good thing” to receive. Perhaps, in terms of Chapman’s love languages, our spouse might think it a “good thing” to receive “words of affirmation.” On the other hand, they might not. They might consider it a “good thing” to receive “acts of service,” “quality time,” “physical touch,” or “gifts” instead. We have to become a student of our spouse to figure that out!

2.      Not only do we have to become a student of our spouse, we have to take the initiative to act on the knowledge we gain. We have to make practical use of that information. Having a “head knowledge” of what pleases our spouse does no good unless we put it to practical use…unless we act on it. Generosity involves the actual act of “giving” some gift “freely and abundantly.” In the end, “actions speak louder than words” when it comes to generosity.

3.      When our spouse receives a “good thing” from us, they feel greater self-worth. They know that we considered them valuable enough to learn about them. They also know that we find them valuable enough to invest the time and energy necessary to act on that information as well. In addition, their love toward us (the generous spouse) increases.

4.      When our spouse receives a “good thing” from us, it boosts their gratitude and appreciation as well. They become more thankful.
Overall, generosity in marriage increases the satisfaction of both spouses. That’s a “win-win” proposition. Even more, generosity in a marriage will impact the children. The children will witness the generosity of their parents toward one another and, most likely, be the recipient of that same generosity displayed toward them. They will witness the joy of giving “freely and abundantly” to the one’s you love. They will also experience the joy of receiving generosity. As parents model and teach generosity, their children will soon learn the joys of giving and practice the art of giving as well. We will have created a legacy of generosity that will outlive our lifetime and flourish in the generations to come. Can’t you just hear the statements of that legacy? “You are just like your grandfather; he was so generous!” “You really know how to give great gifts, just like your mother.” Now that’s a legacy!

Book Review: Sex Begins in the Kitchen

Sex Begins in the Kitchen. What? Sex begins where? That’s right…sex begins in the kitchen…and in the living room, the back yard, the bathroom, and…. Now, before you get the wrong idea let me just say, “sex is the culmination of honoring and loving interactions shared throughout the day.” In that sense, “taking out the trash without being asked becomes foreplay.” In Sex Begins in the Kitchen, Dr. Kevin Leman expands on the idea of daily actions building relationships that culminate in sexual intimacy for married couples. He addresses issues such as the impact of birth order, emotional expression, male-female differences, love banking, and gender understanding on intimacy in general and, ultimately, sexual intimacy in particular. A couple of chapters that I found most beneficial included “Games Couples Play,” addressing some of the “dangerous and destructive games married men and women play.” In this chapter, Dr. Leman explains games like “children are the enemy,” “kill the umpire,” “take that you rat,” and “dump truck.” These are not fun games. They are games that can destroy a family and Dr. Leman helps us learn to identify and change them. Overall, this book is full of humor and insightful information that can enhance your love life and give you a more fulfilling, intimate sexual relationship.

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