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Would You Rather?

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WouldYouRather

I’ve never liked the game “Would You Rather.”  It’s a childhood game that may bring back good memories for many of you, but for me it brings up feelings of fear. For some reason, this type of game always makes me afraid of getting embarrassed.  What if I didn’t know what one of the things is? What if both options were terrible and I couldn’t fathom doing either one, what would I do then?  So, when hanging out with friends I usually tried to avoid this type of game.  

Fast forward 25 years and I am at a children’s ministry leaders meeting and the emcee starts the lunch with an unexpected “Would You Rather” game. WHAT?? Surely there is an age limit to this game, right?! I was pretty much trapped with no place to go.  But much to my relief, this version had an unconventional twist to it. It was “Would You Rather…Bible Edition.” Continue reading

The Pitfalls of Parenting Praise

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We love our kids, and we believe that using words of encouragement over them is incredibly important.  We try to be involved parents, and because of this we give our kids a lot of praise.

But there is a pitfall to avoid on this parenting praise path.  Like a trap in the jungle, it is disguised to make it difficult to see.  Perhaps this exercise will help uncover it:

Fill in the blanks:

If I am a “winner” when I win, then when I lose, I am a _________. Continue reading

Text Tone

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TextTone

Oh be careful little mouth what you say

Oh be careful little mouth what you say

For the Father up above is looking down in love

So be careful little mouth what you say

Anyone remember this oldie but goodie? Today I was texting back and forth with my husband and noticed myself adding extra inflection to my words as I was telling Siri what to text. Subconsciously I think I was expecting Siri to translate my tone and my humor into the text. I chuckled to myself as I read my text to make sure that Siri interpreted it right. She got the words right, but somehow it didn’t have the extra kick of humor that would have been there if I was talking with Nate face to face. Thankfully my husband knows me well, and I am sure he was able to read each and every text in the tone of voice that I had hoped. Even if he didn’t, he knows and understands my heart.

But it got me to thinking. Not everyone knows me this well. It doesn’t matter how I tell Siri to say it – the recipient of my text will interpret it any way they choose. Scary, isn’t it! Words are so powerful. What we say to others can make a dramatic impact on their mood, emotions and outlook. That is why we must choose our words wisely. We must also choose how to hear words. We can allow words to affect us in a positive or negative way. Only through the help of God can we interpret things in the way that we should.

IMG_0672 Continue reading

Being Present When You Are Absent

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PresentAbsent

Being a parent is not easy.  It would be challenging if it was the only thing we had to do, but of course it is just one of many things on our weekly schedule.  These other necessary items, like maintaining the home, doing ministry, and earning a living all take away that most precious of resources:  time.  A child needs your time and your attention more than anything that is on their Christmas list.  You can’t create time from scratch, so what can you do to make the most of the time that you have?  The key is to be ‘present.’

Presence When Present and When Absent

Being present is difficult to describe, but I think you know what I mean.  The easiest way to imagine it is to imagine its opposite.  We have all been in the same room with someone who was absent – a growing problem with all the digital distractions.  So being present when you are home is a key.  But what about when I am not home?  As a working parent who spends 50 hours per week outside of the home, I have an even greater disadvantage.   Much of the day I am not physically present, but we have found a fun way that I can be ‘present’ even when I am absent.    Continue reading

Teaching Your Kids and Making It Stick

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MakingItStick

Parents are teachers.  (We’ve said that before…)

A teacher’s job is to explain and persuade and get students to change their behavior as a result.

That’s what the Heath Brothers’ book “Made To Stick” is all about.

Making Life’s Lessons Stick

Every day is filled with lessons that range from divine to down to earth.  We want more than anything for these lessons to ‘stick.’  We want our kids to remember what we teach them, and we want them to change their actions accordingly.  What if you found out that there were some small changes you can make to your message that will make it more likely to stick?  That’s what the last book in my “Tour de Heath Brothers” is all about.   Continue reading

Two Reasons to Get Out of the Accountability Rut

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Hannah_Bek2BW

We have talked a lot about accountability (see links below) and how it can help you become who you want to be. A better spouse. A better person. A better you! But like all good things, if you aren’t careful it can turn into a burden, a checklist, or a rut. A few months ago, I hit the check list roadblock.

It started slowly. I was late giving my report one time. Another time I hurried and banged it out in 4 minutes. I slowly started just answering the bullet points instead of sharing my heart. Then unfortunately I allowed my complacency to affect the way I responded to my partner’s accountability. My responses became shorter and shorter. My words of encouragement were few and far between.

Thankfully I have a wonderful friend, who kindly asked how I thought things were going. She asked me if I felt like the accountability was meeting my needs and if not, what she could do better. She also gave me the option to stop for now if I needed to. She could have said, “You are stinking at this accountability thing, and you are not helping you or me!” She would have been justified in doing so, but instead she chose the loving and grace-filled route.

I realized that I had forgotten the purpose of the accountability. I let Satan trick my mind into thinking it was yet one more thing that I had to check off my list. I forgot that the two main reasons you do accountability are to renew your mind and to love God and others better. Continue reading

Vulnerability Redefined

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Closed

Today’s post is about vulnerability.  Which means that no one will read it.

Ok, maybe that’s being extreme, but it isn’t a very appealing topic, is it?  If you look up the word “vulnerable” in the dictionary, it does not have a single definition that is positive.  So I feel like my task today is similar to trying to convince you to eat raw broccoli 21 meals per week. For life.

Avoiding Vulnerability

I used to think that vulnerability was the worst feeling of all. I mean who wants to be vulnerable? That to me is something you say when you’re in war and you are in a position that is vulnerable to attack. Exposed.  If you are in a vulnerable place then your only safe bet is to get out of there.  But eventually I learned that vulnerability is actually the second worst feeling of all.  What is the worst feeling of all, you ask?

Closed

The worst feeling of all is the feeling of being in hiding. The feeling of secrecy. The feeling that “No one really knows me.”  The reason I think that this is such a terrifying feeling is that there’s a second half to that sentence: “No one really knows me, and if they did, they would know that I am a loser.”  Men, I hate to break it to you, but here is the terrible choice that we face:  Hiding on one hand, and vulnerability on the other.  That is the unavoidable tradeoff.  You see, when we avoid vulnerability we immediately have chosen secrecy. Secrecy brings with it shame and deception.  Secrecy is Nixon’s Watergate and every front page scandal that has ever rocked the church.  You don’t want to go there.  But by avoiding vulnerability we have chosen to go there, out on a lonely tightrope of secrecy to spend the rest of our life hoping that we don’t lose our balance.

Vulnerability Redefined

Because of this, we must redefine vulnerability.  Vulnerability is freedom. Vulnerability is being known.  Vulnerability is openness.  It allows you to say “I have literally nothing to hide.”  Vulnerability means that you build up trust over time to get you through life’s boredoms and traumas.  But in practical terms, vulnerability is simply this:  Talking About Things That Matter With A Guy Who You Respect.  It is really that simple!  But how do we get there?  How do we go from secrecy to openness?

Accountability Redefined

I have been involved with several accountability groups throughout my life.  I have found that their main benefit to me has been that they have created a time and a place and an opportunity to be vulnerable with men that I trust. Sometimes it’s been a small group up to six, other times it’s been just one other guy. (And when it was a group of six I was somewhat selective at how vulnerable I was with the entire group.) Accountability groups get a bad reputation, because they can end up being an early morning guilt session. Which no man needs!  But these groups are powerful when a group of men get together to be honest and real with each other as they hold each other accountable.  So if you focus on grace instead of condemnation, this vulnerability can create a true band of brothers.

Still not convinced?  Here are a couple practical tips: 

  • Build it now so you have it when you need it.  It will take a year or more to build enough trust to really feel comfortable, and someday you are going to face a crisis and will actually need to have someone you can call.
  • It is very powerful to talk to a guy you respect about things that matter.  Everything from hassles at work to parenting, to marital intimacy, to which HDTV is the best deal.
  • By talking about things that matter, it helps you to sort through some of your thoughts, emotions, and impulses.  This helps you know which are legit and which are just whiny.
  • Talking about things that matter helps you to practice so that you are better able to communicate with your wife.  This is definitely an area that I need to practice, trust me!  It does not come naturally.

Vulnerability Redefined: Necessary For True Masculinity

Yes, reader – you may be the exception.  You may be John Wayne or The Lone Ranger or Clint Eastwood and you don’t need nothin’ from nobody.  Nothing bothers you and you are just fine on your own.  But for the rest of us mere mortals, talking about things that matter with a guy you respect could be the crucial next step in your path to true masculinity.

Talk back:  What does vulnerability mean to you?  Is this a true need, or just the product of our over-psychologized, feminized, wimpy culture?  If you need it, how do you achieve it?

You May Also Like:

We All Need Somebody to Lean On 

Wife Accountability Series: Wife AccountabilityWife Accountability PartnerThe Husband’s Perspective, The Questions

 

Photo Credit:  http://www.freeimages.com/photo/1100904

Foundation of Marriage: Love and Respect

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Skyscraper-001

Quick:  Who wrote “Respect,” the popular 1960’s song? (answer below)

We have spent a few weeks going through the foundation of marriage, recommending books that have played an important role in forming our own marriage.

Today’s book is Love and Respect, by Emerson Eggerichs.  Here is the summary from their website:

“A wife has one driving need – to feel loved. When that need is met, she is happy. A husband has one driving need – to feel respected. When that need is met, he is happy. When either of these needs isn’t met, things get crazy.”

Ephesians 5:21-33 contain some of the clearest direction for husbands and wives, and Paul ends the passage with this simple line:

So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

The culture we live in has ruined the idea of love.  And it has buried the idea of respect.  This book tries to re-define love Biblically, explaining how a husband can lay down his life in agape love.  And then it tackles the even greater challenge of explaining how a wife can show her husband that she respects him.  Continue reading

Foundation of Marriage: Proceed With Caution

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Part 4 of the Foundation of Marriage series.

Nate and I love questionnaires and evaluations. We love assessing things and figuring out new and better ways to do things. But proceed with caution!  We have learned over the years there is a right way and a wrong way to use these tools to improve our marriage and ourselves.

(Route A is the wrong way and Route B is the right, productive way.)

It all starts with the approach! Are you…

A: Trying to point out where your spouse is falling short?

or

B: Trying to help your spouse understand you and what makes you tick?

Your approach determines your words….

A: Accusatory and demeaning statements like “You need to do this better!” Or “You need to stop doing this!”

or

B: Affirming, encouraging, and helpful statements like: “I appreciate when you do this____. ” Or “I know this isn’t your intent, but when this happens, this is how it makes me feel ____.”  “Another way to do it that would be helpful in this situation would be if you could do this___.”

Your words (and tone) determine the outcome.

A: End result: Wounds being made, frustration forming and hope diminishing.

or

B: End result: A plan put in place to strengthen the marriage and move it forward in a productive and positive way. Continue reading

Foundation of Marriage: Your Most Important Customer

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Skyscraper-001

His Needs, Her Needs- Part 3 in the Foundation of Marriage series.

You have probably heard the term ‘the customer is always right.’  And although many customers are very wrong, the adage still makes sense when you are running a business.  If people don’t like the delicious pistachio ice cream you are selling, then it would be in your best interest to find out what kind of ice cream they want and start selling it.  Sure, you can offer free samples and try to persuade them, but if they don’t like it, then it does not do any good to argue with them.  Give the customer what they want.  Serve your customers!

In the same way, you are truly serving your spouse only when you are serving them in a way that they enjoy.  See our review of the 5 Love Languages for an introduction to this foundational principle.  Today’s review is of another book that approaches this same concept from a different angle: His Needs, Her Needs – Building an Affair-Proof Marriage, by Willard Harley.  Continue reading