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Am I being frugal or being selfish??

979583-scroogeI am an interesting mix of selfishness and selflessness.  I have alternately been called both a cheapskate and extremely generous.  I have been known to go to great lengths to get the lowest price when buying something.  I try to never make eye contact when I see a beggar with a jar on the street or a girl scout with cookies outside of Kroger.  The majority of my clothes come from the clearance section of Old Navy.  As if Old Navy isn’t cheap enough…the CLEARANCE section…yeah…I know!  But, I also love paying for someone else’s groceries at the store, supporting someone going on a mission’s trip, or giving away something from our house to someone who can use it more.  I try to justify this dichotomy by calling it “being frugal” which enables me to have the finances to be more generous at other times.  But, I would simply be lying to myself…I am being selectively selfish plain and simple.  I earned MY money and I want to keep as much of it as I can.

I’m not sure exactly why I am selfless only half of the time, but I want it to be all of the time.  I feel this is an area God has really been challenging me in.  I’m trying to see opportunities to BLESS other people…through my time and money.  In the past, I’ve generally looked for ways to donate money, give a gift, or pay for a bill for someone.  But, I’ve been challenged to be giving to others in a new way recently…the way I buy things.  

Here are some examples of what I mean:

  • If I need a new roof for my house, it would seem prudent to get 10 different quotes, then pit them all against each other and get my favorite company to beat whatever the cheapest other price was.  This would result in hopefully good work at the cheapest bare bones price I could get.  Frugal…right???
  • If I need a new car, shop around…find what I want…and get a bunch of different quotes on it.  Then, come up with some strategies of demanding an even lower price and act like I’m going to go down the street instead…hoping that they take the bait and give me the price I want.
  • If I find a piece of furniture on Craigslist that I want, I usually try to offer them a little less than what they are asking.  Because…they usually will take it and then I don’t have to pay as much!
  • Or, if I have something I don’t need and could possibly get $200 for it, I will try to sell it in a way that maximizes the profit.

I have felt God challenging me to change my perspective in areas like this.  If I can be generous with my spending, I’m not wasting money…I’m getting something at a great price and blessing someone on top of it!  So, here’s what I’m trying to do in these scenarios now…

  • Get a few roof quotes to determine a good company, then pay them what they ask as long as it is reasonable.
  • If I know what car I want, let the salesman tell me the price…giving them a chance to lower it some from the original listed price (as they always do), and pay it without further haggling.
  • If someone is selling something on Craigslist that I want…buy it.  If it is a super-good deal already, possibly pay them more than they’re asking just to bless them.
  • If I have something to sell, go ahead and sell it, but err on the side of asking less than it is worth.  This way, it is much easier on me to get rid of it…PLUS…I’m able to bless someone else by giving them a great deal!  Or even better…just give it away!! :-)

Sure, sometimes I think…”what if I could have saved another $500 by doing some aggressive car haggling??  The CEO and stockholders at Ford don’t need another $500 from me!”  But, that’s the selfish way of justifying it.  In reality…sure SOME of that profit will go to corporate higher-ups…but most of it will go to the salesman who is working hard to try and support his family and the support staff around him that helps manage the business of selling cars.  These are real people with real families to support.  Real people that I have been trying my best to keep from earning a living by trying to get a car at the absolute lowest price possible.

I am a Christian, which means I want to model my life after Jesus Christ.  My hope is that people will see me and see the actions of Jesus through what I do.  Jesus’s life was about sacrificing himself, giving to others, and loving others.  So, how does that look when I spend my efforts trying to selfishly keep more for me?  What will cause a non-believer to see my life and want to follow Jesus?  Being a stingy and excessively frugal person?  Or being a generous and excessively giving one?

Could I have “overspent” on getting a new roof?  NO…not if my perspective is that I paid a great price and then generously donated to bless someone above and beyond that.  If I can adopt this attitude, then I every time I buy ANYTHING, I’m getting the best deal possible.

Being wasteful vs being generous:

All this being said…there is a big difference between wasteful spending and generous spending.  I DO feel we have a duty to be responsible with the money God has given us.  Spending more money than necessary is not always being generous…sometimes it is just wasteful.  Using utilities (water, electric, gas) that you don’t need is not “blessing the water supply company”…it is wasting a resource.  Buying a new set of dishes and throwing away the old ones is a waste.  However…buying a new set of dishes and GIVING away the old ones can be generous.  I’m not advising boycotting and instead trying to find the most expensive store when you need to buy something.  And I’m not advising buying things you don’t need just to stimulate the economy.  That’s just silly.  But, if you’re going to get something, there is a difference between…buying at the lowest price available…and going to significant lengths to get the ABSOLUTE lowest price that borders on the company or person providing that product or service receiving little or nothing in return.  Remember…whoever has made that product or is providing that service is a person too.  If God has blessed you, don’t be hesitant to bless them in turn.

This is something I feel God challenging me in.  My purpose in writing this is not to make anyone feel guilty about the way they are.  This is something I STRUGGLE with and merely want to pass along my thoughts.

**Disclaimer** – I used “I” a lot here.  This is not a reflection of thinking that I do what I want in terms of spending.  Julia and I are both responsible for making financial decisions. I say “I” because I don’t want to lump her in with my selfish struggles.  I just wanted to make sure that was clear.  :-)

My challenge to you:

Anytime you buy something, try to have the perspective of…you ARE buying it at a great price, and anything you spend above that price is you being generous in blessing someone else.  Put less effort and time into seeking a deal and more time into loving and blessing others.

Are there TV shows that Christians should NOT watch???


Ok…keeping it real here…I’ve been hesitant to write this post for a while.  For one…I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes.  And also…this is a topic where I have a tough time following my own advice.  When I put something out there writing about it, it forces me to hold myself accountable.  To be honest, sometimes I just don’t want to do that!  But…here we go!

Custom-Your-Favourite-Photos-font-b-Posters-b-font-The-font-b-Lost-b-font-fontI like watching TV dramas.  Specifically, I like serial shows that tell one big story over time.  Action is good, suspense is good, and anything with surprises and twists that you don’t see coming is awesome.  Every fall I get excited about the new shows starting…(hoping that one will be the next Lost).  With Tivo and Netflix there is a seemingly endless possibility of shows to try out.  But, I battle with something…are there socially acceptable shows out there that I (as a Christian) should NOT watch?

Philippians 4:8 reminds me, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”  Does that mean it is a SIN to watch a tv show that is not “pure” or “honorable”?  Because…there is NOT a lot out there that I would consider pure.  And Luke 6:45 tells us, “The good man produces what is good and honorable and moral out of the good treasure in his heart; and the evil man produces what is wicked and depraved out of the evil in his heart; for his mouth speaks from the overflow of his heart.”  But, to get better perspective, I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 10:23 that says, ””All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.”

So if I’m going to draw an acceptability line based on these concepts…is it “ok” for me to watch Veggie Tales?  I’m going to go out on a limb and say YES.  What about watching hardcore porn…is that “ok”?  I’m going to say…NO.  So…what about Modern Family…CSI…Scandal…The Walking Dead…House of Cards…Orange is the New Black…Game of Thrones?  Where does the YES turn into NO?  There is a very wide range of gray out there.

I’m not going going to draw a line in the sand to tell you what YOU should or shouldn’t watch.  For one thing…I believe that line is going to be in different places for different people.  And also, it’s not my place to make that call.  But, I do want to challenge you with 2 thoughts about the subject…

1.  There NEEDS TO BE a line:

Cross-the-LineI often choose what to watch without regard for this line…without regard for what is good for me.  As a result, I am subjecting myself to sinful influences of various natures.  Maybe it is “permissible”, but that doesn’t mean it is good.  And if something is not good, is it really worth me using my time to consuming it?  Is it good for you to subject yourself to a TV show or movie with a lot of violence in it?  Is it good for you to hear a lot of bad language?  What about something with sex or nudity?  Sure it’s easy to SAY you can watch something without it affecting you…or claim you can see sex and nudity without lusting…but is that really true?  I think an important distinction is to decide what content can potentially affect YOUR walk with Christ, your thought life, and the way you act, and then avoid shows with that sort of content.  And the best way to figure this out is to pray about it and listen to what convictions God gives you.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because something is “popular” or it wins awards then it is good for you to watch.

2.  Be aware of your influence on others:

If you have decided it is ok for you to watch certain shows, that DOESN’T mean it is ok for everyone.  Romans 14:14-15 says, “I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.  For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.”  Paul is referring here to what people eat and the sinful influence it can have.  So, if that applies to a relatively innocuous subject such as eating, I feel it applies even more to somethingBreaking-Bad like what you watch.  Different people are tempted and influenced by different things.  You may be able to watch a show with violence and it not bother you.  But, someone else may become disturbed by the same thing.  Or, it may affect their personality and bring out more violence in them.  The same thing could be said for bad language.  When you tell people how great something is, you are giving it your seal of approval, which is in turn encouraging them to watch it.  So if that show has content in it that could be bad for them, you are encouraging them to consume something they shouldn’t.  

It’s similar to alcohol.  I don’t feel drinking alcohol in moderation is bad.  However, if you’re with someone who is an alcoholic and you’re drinking and going on about how good it is and how they should try it…you probably should have gone with a sweet tea instead.  Don’t cause someone else to stumble by what you do.  The TV shows you watch and talk about should be no different.

Imagine you’re at church and the pastor shares a quote from the movie The Wolf of Wall Street.  That action would be essentially telling everyone, “I have seen this movie”, “I like this movie”, and “I think you should watch this movie”.  The same can be said of any of us within our sphere of influence.  When you tell people about your favorite shows, or make comments on social media about them, you are telling everyone who can hear, “I watch this show”, “I like this show”, and “I think you should watch this show”.

Guys, this applies to your role as a leader of your family too.  What you watch impacts not just you but your family as well.  Your wife and kids will be influenced by your choices.  Even if you don’t watch with them, your kids will know what shows you like, which teaches them what is acceptable as they grow up and are able to make their own choices.

Now don’t think for a second that I’m encouraging you to watch whatever you want but just make sure to keep it a secret!  If you are watching things you shouldn’t, keeping it hidden is NOT the way to handle it.  For this advice to be helpful, it needs to be used in conjunction with advice #1 above (there needs to be a line).  If you are watching something you think is sketchy that you’re not sure you should…the answer is NOT to simply keep quiet about it so you don’t cause others to stumble…the answer is to STOP WATCHING IT.  However, if you feel that what you are watching IS appropriate for you, but you think it COULD be inappropriate for others…THAT is when I suggest keeping it to yourself.  As Paul says later in Romans 14 (vs 22-23), “The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves.  But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.”

Let me share a personal experience I’ve had with this:  I read a few of the Game of Thrones books.  It’s a very intriguing story with interesting characters and a compelling plot, but it is far from wholesome.  Game-Of-Thrones-logoThey are filled with greed, evil, and sex.  I was willing to overlook this for the sake of the excitement of the books though.  I guess it seemed to have a minimal effect on me to read it (at least that’s how I justified it).  When it was made into a big budget TV series, of course it’s going to be exciting.  So, I watched a couple of the episodes, but was overwhelmed at how wrong it felt (to me).  The sex and nudity was prevalent and the evil felt that much worse to see it instead of read it.  I didn’t want anyone to know I saw them and realized that was probably a sign that I shouldn’t…so I stopped.  I didn’t want influences like that inciting lust or filling my mind with evil character and violence.  So now I cringe whenever I see someone on Facebook going on about how amazing the show is.  Not because I feel they shouldn’t be watching it (hopefully they are considering point #1 above and making a good decision for themselves, plus it is not my place to judge what is right or wrong for them), but it makes me worry how many people are being drawn into watching it by hearing how awesome it is from people they know and trust, only to have it fill their mind with evil, violence, sex, and sin.

But at the same time, I will watch The Walking Dead without hesitation.  It is probably the most violent show I’ve ever seen, but it doesn’t bother me and I don’t feel any conviction about it hurting my walk with Christ.  Still, I try not to “recommend” it to other people because the content definitely isn’t “good” and could easily be something that does bother someone else.

My advice to you:

Don’t assume that the popularity of a show or the fact that someone you know likes it means it is good for you to watch.  It may seem silly to do so, but spend some time in prayer asking God to reveal to you if there are shows you watch that you should stop.  And if you do watch things that YOU feel are ok, but you realize others could take issue with, I encourage you to be careful with how to promote them to others.

Building your own custom-made built-in closet


I know this doesn’t fit my “husbandology” theme for my blog.  But, I just finished a cool project and wanted to post a how-to article about what I did.  So, I figured I might as well put it here!

In our new house I wanted to finish out our master closet.  It is really big, but had a lot of wasted space.  I got inspiration from an article on (which Julia found on Pinterest) and wanted to do something similar.  I got a lot of good ideas and tips on building it from that site.  Here is the “before” picture.IMG_0822

Also, I must mention that I am no expert at construction or woodworking.  Any tips I give in this article is purely from what I experienced.  I am sure there are LOTS of better ways to do much of what I did.  So, if anyone who ACTUALLY knows what they are doing reads this, please don’t laugh too hard at any of my suggestions…as misguided as they may be.  :-)

Step 1: Design

I got the measurements for the room and figured out what I wanted to do with the space.  I drew it out, then changed it, then drew it out again, then changed it again, etc…  I ended up with this.

IMG_0817 IMG_0818

Step 2: Materials

Next I had to plan out what material I needed.  From reading various articles online, I decided to use 3/4″ MDF for the main construction, 1/2″ MDF for drawers,  select pine for small trim and poplar for drawer fronts.  I also wanted to make sure I wasn’t wasting boards by making the wrong cuts in the wrong places, so I planned out my cuts ahead of time…which helped me get a true list of how many I needed.  Here are my cut sheets…IMG_0819 IMG_0820 IMG_0821

Here was my materials list:

3/4″ MDF 4’x8′ – 14
1/2″ MDF 4’x8′ – 7
1/8″ hardboard 4’x8′ – 7
Select Pine 1″x2″x8′ – 27
Poplar boards 1″x8″x8′ – 5
Poplar boards 1″x12″x8′ – 2
Drawer slides and pulls – 20
Dowel rods – 8
Primer (oil based) – 5 gallons
Paint (latex) – 6 gallons

One huge Home Depot trip later with a 10% off coupon (plus 5 more trips as the project went on) and I was ready to start!

Step 3: Pre-paint

MDF does not work well with water apparently.  If it gets wet, it raises the grains and makes it really rough.  So, if you want to paint it, it is best to prime with an oil based primer first.  So, to prevent having to do millions of tedious coats on the finished product, I decided to pre-prime and paint the boards first.  I knew I would still have to touch up at the end, but had hopes that it would make it easier.  This turned out to be a great call!  It was still a pain to paint, but not nearly as tedious as the final painting was.

Bare MDF boards
Primed and painted MDF boards

Step 4: Construction

This was the toughest part…physically.  I was so thankful for my Dad coming over to help as 3/4″ MDF boards are ridiculously heavy!  The closet was divided into sections, so we would cut the boards for a section at a time, then assemble that section before moving on.

Cutting the boards in the garage
We had to be very careful to get the front of each board aligned with the sides. Otherwise, the trim at the end wouldn’t sit flush.
The first section built…woohoo! :-)
The second section done!
We predrilled for all screws so we didn’t split the boards
Cutting slots to fit together the shoe cubby boards
Fitting together the shoe cubby
In order to fit the sections together tightly, we would clamp them together before screwing in place.
Initial construction done! This is the left side…
…and the right.

BTW…I just want to point out how awesome my wife is for getting me a table saw last year! Without that saw, it probably would have taken me twice as long…and wouldn’t have looked nearly as good.  It is simply amazing!  :-)

Step 5: Drawers

The drawers were THE part of the project I was most nervous about.  I didn’t want them to feel rickety or unprofessional.  Since I’ve never built them before, I was worried.  But, I was really happy that they turned out great!

This part of the project took a lot of work…and a lot of learning as I went.  I got my plan from the same Sawdust Diaries site.  I got the plans to build the drawers here and installing them here.  This saved me A LOT of headache!  Even then, the last 10 drawers I built were WAY nicer than the first 10…because of all the things I learned as I went on.  The first step was cutting the boards (100 total for 20 drawers!).  Then, cut a dado along the bottom.  Cutting dados sounds fancy and difficult, but it wasn’t too bad.  I should clarify…having a table saw…it wasn’t too bad.  Without one…it would be the worst!  Then, take them a drawer at a time…assemble with glue then I used finishing nails to hold them together.  I was blown away by how solid they were!

My first (and only) real problem I ran into was here.  I built the first 10 drawers and planned to install them before doing the rest.  But, when I went to install them, 6 of the 10 were 1/16″ of an inch too long!  So, I had to tear apart my beautiful and solid drawers, cut off a sliver, then reconstruct them.  It was not a good day.

After that, the last 10 drawer were awesome!  I knew exactly what length they needed to be and had the construction process down.  I actually really started to enjoy making them at that point.

A stack of drawer pieces freshly cut
Dados cut into all the side pieces. Some of them have vertical dados too to install dividers
Before any gluing or nailing, I made sure to check the length
Made sure to use the square before attaching any sides
Finishing nailer…the greatest invention ever (besides the table saw)
Once 3 sides are attached, I would slide the bottom piece in place
Before gluing the last side, I would do one last measurement to make sure it was the right length
Putting down glue for the last side
The finished drawer with divider that can slide in and out. Although I should have made the slider space a tiny bit larger. After paint and poly finish on it…it was a little too tight. I had to use a hammer to get a few of them in there.
For installing drawers, first attach the rail to the drawer. Here is the jig method I used to keep uniform spacing and keep all drawers level. The jig for the drawer had an extra 1/4″ spacer which is the difference in length from the rail to the bottom of the slide.
Attaching the slide to the cabinet (without spacer)
Woohoo! It fits!
5 drawers installed
All drawers done! :-)

Step 6: Trim

I was really looking forward to the trim step because that was when it was going to start looking good…covering up all the mistakes.  :-)  I used the nailer to attach them, then wood putty to cover up any gaps anywhere.

I also built fronts for the drawers out of poplar.  I sized them slightly larger than the drawers themselves and attached from the inside with screws.

IMG_0883 IMG_0885

Step 7: Paint

Paint, paint, and more paint!  Did I mention how glad I was that I “pre-painted”?  I first used wood filler and caulk to help fill in gaps, holes, and spaces.  Then, I painted it like crazy!  The roller work was nice, but trim paint took me about 6 hours to do one coat!  After the paint was dry, I did 2 coats of  Minwax polyacrylic sealant to keep it smooth and protected.

Half of the shoe cubby painted…this makes me happy :-)
Paint and poly coat done…with drawer fronts installed

Step 7: Finishing!

All that was left then was installing the clothes rods and drawer pulls…then doing lots of cleanup.  Here is the final result!

Finished drawers with pulls and dividers
The left side finished…
…and the right side finished
The right side, view from the window
The right side, view from the window

I hope you enjoyed seeing my project.  Feel free to post questions in the comments below if you want to try it for yourself!  :-)

For anyone interested, I put in about 80 hours of work on the project.  And the total cost was around $1,600 in material (not including any tools or saws).


The subtle enemy of genuine conversation

Business executive discussing with her client

I didn’t make a New Year’s resolution this year.  This isn’t because I don’t like making them, or because I don’t stick with them, or because I don’t have anything that I want to change about myself.  It’s simply because nothing good stuck out as a resolution I wanted to make.  However, I do have things I want to change about myself.  They aren’t related to the new year…they are just things I’m working on.  One of these areas is sarcasm.

I have to admit…I think sarcasm is pretty awesome.  It is the easiest route to hilariousness for me (which always seems like a good destination).  But, one of the most important things for me is having a good, real, quality, substantial relationship with Julia.  To get this sort of relationship, it requires GENUINE interaction.  It’s too easy for our relationship to consist of, “how was your day; how was your day”, then eat dinner and watch tv until we go to bed.  It requires effort to have meaningful conversations and experiences together.  I’ve found that nothing derails a genuine conversation more than sarcasm.  And in contrast, when I AM genuine…when I listen to her well and share about things that matter and what’s going on in my life…the opposite happens.  It draws us even closer together.

Sarcasm is essentially selfishness in the form of conversation.  You say something…not to communicate information, but to make people laugh.  And you’re trying to make them laugh…not to bring joy to their lives, but to feel good about yourself.  So essentially, you’re spending time saying words devoid of substance with the sole purpose of helping you feel better about yourself.  I realize that may sound harsh, but I’m merely sharing my experience here.  I’m sure other people can be different.

I don’t want my conversations to be meaningless.  I want them to have purpose.  When I speak, I want my words to be filled with encouragement, love, and wisdom.  After we talk, I want people to feel understood and more alive about who they are.  To do this, limiting the sarcasm is an important step.

My challenge to you:

When you talk to someone, make your words matter.  Try to add something to THEIR life with what you say.  And keep the sarcasm to a minimum.  Yes, it’s an easy way to be funny, but it is the enemy of genuine conversation.

My wife will never be all I need

IMG_1506Guys have needs…can I get an amen out there??  I don’t often consciously think about what my needs are.  But, the one time I really realize it is when a specific need isn’t being met.  When it’s been a while since I’ve been hiking or camping, I realize I have a need to get outdoors.  When I haven’t been spending time with God, I realize my need for spiritual direction.  When Julia and I haven’t been on a date in a while, I realize I need quality time with her.  I have A LOT of needs.  The list goes on…eating food, having friends, feeling safe, a sense of accomplishment at work, sexual intimacy, exercising, getting enough rest, etc.  Unfortunately, some guys place unfair expectations on their wives to meet them.  

The phrase “you complete me” was made popular by the movie Jerry McGuire, but this statement couldn’t be further from the truth.  Your wife will NEVER complete you.  She WILL make your life better.  She WILL help meet SOME of your needs, but expecting her to fill every void in your life is a disaster waiting to happen.  There are some needs in your life that it IS your wife’s role to fill.  This centers around the design of marriage and bringing two people together as one.  You are BOTH meant to work together as parents, as managers of where you live and what it takes to make life happen, and to meet the physical and emotional needs in your relationship with each other.  But there are many needs in life that fall outside of this.

One major source of meeting your needs is YOU!  As great as your wife may be, she doesn’t know what you need better than you do.  Take responsibility for yourself.  If you feel down because you don’t enjoy your job, or if you are disappointed with the number of friends you have, don’t take it out on your wife.  She can’t make up for it by loving you more in other areas.  You need to evaluate what your needs are, and if something is lacking, think about what can be done to meet it.  An even better idea is to involve your wife in the conversation.  There is a good chance she will have some great ideas!

But, the biggest factor in this conversation isn’t you or your wife, it is your relationship with God.  Everything good in MY life is a blessing from Him.  He is the ONLY one that can complete me, because He is ALL I NEED!  A lack of outdoors time or playing sports don’t mean anything compared to the presence of God.  If you are living in Him…there is nothing else in life that truly matters.

My challenge to you:

If you are disappointed with how your needs are being met or feel there is a void in your life, don’t blame your wife!  First and foremost, take it to God.  Spend time in prayer asking Him to reveal what needs to happen in your life, and to help you put all your trust in Him.  Then, reflect on what YOU can do to meet those needs.  Lastly, if there is something still lacking that involves your wife, talk with her about it in a loving and respectful way.  But, at the same time, try to find if there are any needs YOU are not meeting for HER.

Turning the “worst birthday ever” into a great memory and lesson for me

I want to share a story from this past week.  It’s not necessarily related to being a husband, but I thought it was cool…

IMG_2748This past Friday was Eli’s 7th birthday.  I always look forward to his birthdays because he loves them SO much!  We try to always make it a special day where we spend the whole day with him doing things he wants and eat the foods he wants.  So, last Friday I took the day off work and we spent it together as a family.  We started by going out for breakfast getting some donuts and then eating at Starbucks while he played on the iPad.  Later in the morning we played some board games together.  Then, we went out to Moe’s to eat and went to Escalade, an indoor rock climbing gym.  He had never been rock climbing before and was really excited.

Things were going well at first.  He thought it was the coolest place ever.  They have some cool kids areas where you can climb and slide on stuff.  And he did a couple climbs making it all the way to the top.  But what was giving him trouble was not the climbing…it was belaying back down.  The first couple climbs he was scared to let go of the wall to go back down, especially on the walls that have the auto-belay systems.  If you’re not familiar with what that is, basically the rope is attached to a device at the top of the wall that automatically lowers you down when you’re done or if you fall.  It can be scary though because you have to fall for a second before the resistance catches up.

10947205_10153108871394328_7952322115390771675_nAfter we had been there a while, he and I were both climbing on routes right next to each other.  He made it all the way to the top but REFUSED to let go to get back down.  He wanted to down climb the route, but I wouldn’t let him (it’s not safe and if I let him do it once, he would never go back).  Even though he had rappelled down a few times already, he was frozen with fear about letting go.  I tried every way of convincing him it was going to be ok, but nothing would work.  He was crying and saying how this was the worst birthday he’s ever had.  I was devastated that this fun day was leaving such a negative impression on him.  After about 10 minutes of sitting at the top of the wall (and crying and talking), I FINALLY convinced him to go down with me.  We held hands and went at the same time.

I was glad he made it down, but sad that I was expecting this to be the end of our climbing trip and a scarring mark on what would be remembered as the worst birthday ever.  After we were down though, we went over and talked with Julia about it asking him how he felt and what he had been afraid of.  I’ll never forget the look in his face when he looked back up at the wall and in a serious and determined voice said, “I want to do it again.”  I was shocked but so excited for him.  Maybe this wouldn’t be a disaster after all!

After making sure he really DID want to do it…and he assured us he wasn’t going to stay at the top of the wall again, he clipped in and took off.  He made it up the wall quickly and I held my breath as he readied himself at the top.  From down at the bottom I heard him talk outloud to himself saying, “Eli…you can do this!”  And then without hesitation he let go and rappelled down!

Eli’s Climb Video

There have been very few times in life where I was MORE proud of him than that moment.  We didn’t push him to do it at all.  He was SO scared of something, and on his own he decided he wanted to overcome that fear.  And so he did it…and then he did it again…and then he did it again.  He had a BLAST!  He remembers being afraid, but even more significantly, he remembers overcoming that fear and the fun that he had.

That experience made me think about who I am.  Anytime I’ve ever done something I didn’t want to do, or faced something I was afraid of, my reaction was definitely NOT, “I want to do it again.”  My 7 year old son knew and lived out something that I rarely do.  He went through something he didn’t want to do, but instead of wiping his brow and moving on, he stared it in the face and took it on again.  Not because he craves the thrill or because we made him, but because he “wanted to face the fear” and overcome it.  He knew that by doing it again, he was going to be able to not be limited by fear which will free him up for awesomeness.

How many times do we NOT do something because we’re afraid?  Maybe it’s a fear of…

  • having a conversation with someone that you’re dreading
  • making new friends
  • taking a risk at work
  • starting a new career
  • having kids
  • learning to do a household chore that you’ve never done
  • volunteering in a ministry that you feel you should but really don’t want to.

My challenge to you (and me):

Usually in these situation, it’s easy to just move on and avoid the conflict of fear or the action you don’t want to do.  But, often these situations are good for us.  If you DO force yourself to face the fear, often good things will emerge from it.  So, my challenge for MYSELF is not to let my 7 year old show me up.  I want to learn from his bravery.

What to do if your wife isn’t being submissive

Thinking man and question markYikes…why did I pick this topic?!  If there is one word that is most likely to cause immediate tension concerning marriage “submissive” may be it.  Don’t jump to any conclusions about what I’m going to say though.  If you’re reading this far, hopefully you’ll make it to the end so you get the full picture of what I want to share.

Typically to tackle a topic like this, one would start out evaluating what it means to be submissive and to see what the Bible says about it.  But, I’m NOT going to do that…for a few reasons:

  1. I’m no Biblical scholar.  There are plenty of other websites where people have written about it after doing a lot more studying and research than I have.  If you really want to look into it, then check out one of these sites.
  2. It would take too much writing to effectively cover the topic.  It is too easy to make a few short statements about the topic that can be misunderstood with drastic consequences.
  3. **Most Importantly** This blog is directed toward husbands.  If you are a husband, I want you to FORGET ABOUT WHAT YOUR WIFE ISN’T DOING and focus on what YOU are doing!

It is a cop-out to focus on things your wife should be doing better.  To effectively make a difference, I want men to think of what THEY can do better in their marriage…based on what the Bible says.  But, don’t think this blog is a bait and switch.  I truly think that the BEST way to encourage your wife to help her fulfill her role as a wife, is for YOU to focus on fulfilling your role as a husband.  So…let’s see what the Bible says about husbands.

Ephesians 5:23 – For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.

Ephesians 5:25 – Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

Colossians 3:19 – Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.

So as husbands, we are instructed to be the head of our wives and to love our wives.  So, what does that mean?  Well, the example we are given is to model how Christ is the head of the church, how Christ loved the church, and how Christ “gave himself up for” the church.  Here is what He did for His church:

– He hung out with the rejects instead of the cool people.
– He acted like a servant and washed feet.
– He sacrificed comfort and prestige (that he could have easily had) to focus on loving and caring for the needs of others.
– He died in the place of the church, so that they didn’t have to.

If we take these concepts and apply it to a husband’s role, it might look something like this:

– He sacrifices what HE wants to meet the needs of his wife.
– He is a servant, willing to do menial tasks that show his wife he cares.
– He uses the money he earns to bless her (and others) rather than himself.
– He leads by example in love, humility, and sacrifice.

Now, the purpose of this blog is to get men to focus on THEIR lives.  But, to speak briefly to the original question of “what to do if your wife isn’t being submissive”, I want to make 2 quick points.

  1. If there is a disparity between what either of you feels your roles should look like and what they actually DO look like, I suggest you have an open and honest conversation about it.  For a topic like this, it would be a good idea to involve a christian counselor in the conversation.
  2. In conjunction with talking about it, never forget to pray.  Pray for her and pray for you…that you will BOTH fill your marriage roles as God intended and will be loving and accepting of the other…no matter what.

So, in summary…what do you do if your wife isn’t being submissive?  You get your OWN junk together.  THAT’S what you do!  If you can be the husband God has called you to be, then maybe your wife will be more likely to “submit” to your leadership.

Love Blasting – the awesomest part of a well balanced marriage

Explode_A-512One of my favorite things to do is to “love blast” Julia!  Before your imagination runs wild about what this means, let me explain.  To love blast is to find a method of showing her love and to BLAST her with it!  Here are some examples:

Standard: Buy her flowers
Love Blast: Buy her new flowers every day for a week

Regular: Write a note about how you love her
Love Blast: Write 25 notes about how you love her and hide them all over the house

Pedestrian: Plan a date night
Love blast:  Plan a date 7 nights in a row and call it “date week”

Bare minimum: Do the dishes after dinner
Love blast: Shop for groceries, cook dinner, clean dishes

Lame-o: If your wife goes out of town for a night or two, pick things up before she gets back.
Love blast: From the moment she leaves, plan out EVERYTHING you can possibly do that will show her love until she gets back…laundry, clean bathrooms & floors, dust, yard work, stock the groceries.  When she comes home, have the house looking perfect with nice music going, a meal prepared with a special dessert and candles…and a welcome home present.

1184842_10152295365144328_666816756_nOne of my favorite things I ever did for Julia was the “Week of Awesome”.  I took a whole week and dedicated it to loving her.  I tried to think of everything I could do that she would appreciate and did it all week long.  I had gifts for each day, planned cooked and cleaned all meals, dates planned, chores done, friend gatherings planned, taking care of Eli, etc.  She loved it and although it was exhausting to do…I loved doing it just as much.  :-)  If you want to do something fun, plan your own week of awesome for your wife!

Obviously, you can’t do these types of things all the time, but every once in a while it can be nice to go all out.  Don’t settle for the ordinary.  Take an idea to show her love…then go to the next level and LOVE BLAST her!!


A new year’s resolution your wife will be glad you made

o-NEW-YEARS-RESOLUTIONS-2014-CANADA-facebookIn reality, there is nothing special about January 1st.  Sure, it’s a new calendar year, but it’s really no different than the day before.  To be honest, I feel the concept of new year’s resolutions is a little silly.  If something is so important to someone, why wait until January 1st to start doing it?!  Why not start whenever you first realize you should be doing it?!

But, I DO often make resolutions in a new year.  Not because that’s the only time I can convince myself to do something, but because I like to take the opportunity to think about my life and what I may want to change about it.  The new year is a good reminder to try to focus on something that I wouldn’t otherwise have thought about.

Sometimes my resolution has something to do with my health or fitness.  Sometimes it’s about my spiritual life.  Sometimes it is something to do with my family.  This year, my resolution is to spend more time in prayer.  I want to work prayer into my life more…in the morning, before bed, with my family, when things are going well, and when they’re going badly.  I want it to be more of a REGULAR part of my life.

Change-Ahead-signIf you’ve been following this blog and feel there are some areas you could use some focus on concerning your role as a husband, maybe January 1st is a good time to make a resolution!  To get you started, here are some possible ideas…

  • I resolve to do more around the house to help out:  Maybe add one more chore to your regular responsibility list that your wife has done in the past.  Or maybe just identify a few things that you normally don’t help with and try to look for chances to intentionally take care of them.
  • I resolve to feed into my wife’s main love language:  Go all out and constantly try to love her in that area.  If you don’t know about love languages, see my earlier post about it.  If you’re not showing her love in this, it would be a great area for you to focus on.
  • I resolve to be more selfless:  The biggest enemy to a strong marriage is selfishness.  Where do you eat?  What do you watch on tv?  What music do you listen to in the car?  What color couch do you buy?  Being married means you work together on decisions like these (and millions of others).  A leader who always gets what he wants could be seen as a dictator.  A GOOD leader is one who thinks more of others than himself.  For the new year, try to focus on being more selfless.
  • I resolve to be a better spiritual leader:  What is the spiritual health of your family like?  How much of it’s health is due to YOUR influence?  Think about some ways you can help your family grow.  Family prayer time, family devotional time, or leading by example in personal study and prayer…these are all possible things to focus on.

Remember, January 1st is a new day and is the perfect chance to think about something you may want to do differently.  Whatever it is, cover it with prayer and ask God to help you sustain change to allow your to bless your wife and others.

The googaly-eyed guy…I didn’t realize what I was teaching my son

FullSizeRender 2At Christmas time, we have a tradition of hiding a small ornament in the tree.  This started when I was young when my brothers and I would hide small elves.  Now, for our family we have a green googaly-eyed guy.  After it is hidden, other people try to find it.  If they find it, then THEY hide it…and so on.  One day, I hid the ornament and Eli was trying to find it, but he was having trouble.  After a minute of looking, he asked me to give him a clue.  I wanted him to have the satisfaction of finding it on his own, so I told him, “no clues, you need to find it on your own”.  He kept asking me (to no avail) and started getting frustrated that I wouldn’t help.  Eventually he was pouting standing in a corner facing the wall.  At this point, of course I can’t give in, which would reward bad behavior.  Soon after, he got out of his funk and promptly found the googaly man on his own.  He was excited that he found it and immediately forgot about his pouting from a minute earlier.

FullSizeRenderMy instinct as a parent in situations like this is to teach Eli how to do things on his own.  I tend to want to teach him to be self reliant and to not give up when things get difficult.  I feel there is a definite purpose and benefit in these concepts.   It is important for a man to be able to work hard and not throw in the towel just because of a failed attempt out of the gate or if something takes a little longer than expected.

However, after the tree hiding incident was over, Julia had an interesting thought…which really got me thinking.  By refusing to help Eli when he asked, I am actually reinforcing the concept that he SHOULDN’T ask for help.  In addition to the arguably “good” things I mentioned above, I am also teaching him that he doesn’t NEED help.  I am subtly teaching him that all he needs in life is to rely on his own brains and his own strength to be able to accomplish something.  

Wow, I didn’t think about that!  But that is NOT what I want him to learn.  Sure, it’s nice to be smart and strong and determined.  But, even more than those things, I want Eli to grow up to be a man who knows how to work with others.  I want him to be someone who knows his strengths and weaknesses.  I want him to actively pursue asking for help as a way for both HIM to be more effective and as a way to encourage and promote the strengths and abilities of other people.

This also has huge spiritual implications.  As a follower of Christ, the LAST thing I want Eli to learn is how to rely on himself to get things done.  One of the biggest deterrents to following Jesus is when you think you don’t need help.  If you feel you can do it all on your own, and you’ve been raised to never ask for help, then it will be very difficult for your faith in Christ to be real, active, and powerful.  

What Eli was doing was actually quite commendable.  His goal was to find the ornament.  So, after a minute of looking on his own, he went straight to the source of knowledge (the person who hid it) to ask for help.  What if I took a page from Eli’s book?  When I’m struggling in life, how often do I wallow trying to push through and figure things out on my own?!  What if I went straight to the source of knowledge (God) after a “minute of looking” and asked him to help?!

But now what do I do!  As a parent, I don’t want to coddle to his every need and request.  There still is something to be said for teaching him how to work hard and persevere.  But, I want to find a way to do that without squelching his desire to ask for help.  This is a tough balance.  I don’t have the answers, but nevertheless, it is a good thing to keep in mind.  I will continue to pray that God will help me to raise him as best as I can, and to show me what to teach him.

My challenge to you:

Think about what you’re teaching your kids.  Figure out what traits you ultimately want your kids to have as men or women, and make sure the things you teach them point them in that direction.  And most importantly, make sure to rely on God to HELP YOU in this task.