Category Archives: Uncategorized

What you should NOT get your wife for Christmas…and what you SHOULD

girl-unhappy-with-present-s3-medium_newIt’s that time of year again.  When our houses are lit a little brighter, our Starbucks cups turn red, and our Facebook feeds are filled with pictures of elves on shelves doing crazy things.  During this time of year, there is one question that ALWAYS must be answered…what present should I get my wife for Christmas?

Top 5 list: Worst gift ideas

  1. Anything that is actually a present for YOU.  Does she really want that 60” TV?  Would she really enjoy 2 tickets to the Falcons game?  Did she ask for sexy lingerie?  Come on…give her something that SHE wants…not you.
  2. Something you were already planning to buy.  Let’s imagine you had both discussed the idea of buying something and both agreed that you should do it…but you just hadn’t gotten around to do it yet.  Buying it as a gift and wrapping it up under the tree is a great way to get out of having to buy something else, but is that really showing her love…if you were already going to give her it anyway?
  3. Something that shows you didn’t put much thought into it.  A gift card, generic jewelry, a box of chocolate…these don’t typically show that you thought much about what to get her…UNLESS those are things she actually wants.  But generally, if a gift is easy, convenient and doesn’t show much thought, it’s not going to convey that you were thinking about her much.
  4. Something UNDER her expectations.  Your wife is going to have some sort of expectation of the cost of the present she’s being given.  If you typically spend about $200 on each other, but this year to save money you buy a couple $25 sweaters and call it a day, she’s probably going to be disappointed.  If money is tight, talk about it beforehand so you both are on the same page.  Also, it’s worth noting that many gifts have a “cost” to them without that cost being monetary.  These are often some of the best gifts.  Just don’t let her feel short changed that you didn’t spend enough money/time/effort on getting her a gift.
  5. Something that sends a negative message.  Don’t get your wife a scale, a gym membership, or something that shows you want her to change.  Unless it is something she specifically asked for, it could easily make her feel worse.

Top 5 list: Best gift ideas

  1. Something she actually wants.  Put some effort into figuring out what she wants.  Maybe you take note of things she mentions over time.  Or maybe you get a list of ideas from her.  Either way, she is going to appreciate getting something that she actually wants.
  2. Something that shows you put thought or effort into it.  Some of the best gifts are the ones that you can’t order from Amazon.  If you put a lot of time and effort into making something for her, chances are she is going to appreciate it no matter what it is.
  3. Something that will make her think of you.  A DVD she wants is fine.  A bag of her favorite candy is cool.  But a gift that makes her remember YOU every time she sees it or uses it will be much better.
  4. Something OVER her expectations.  If she’s anticipating you buying her an iPad, get her a scarf to go with it.  Or…if she’s expecting a regular gift from the mall, put a lot of thought into a special gift that you make.  If you normally spend around $200, every once in a while go big if there is a perfect gift idea that costs more.  Obviously, it’s important to be financially responsible and you shouldn’t spend money you don’t have.  But, sometimes it can mean a lot to do a little more than what she expects.
  5. An experience, rather than a product.  A special date night, a weekend getaway, dance or art lessons,  going skydiving.  These are ideas that will create memories together which can last a long time.

I just called to say I love you

telephone_loveMost weekdays I see my wife briefly in the morning and then not again until the afternoon.  Since we spend most of the day away from each other, it only leaves a few hours for us to be together in the evening.  This is especially true when either of us has something else going on at night.  It is not unusual for us to go several days where we work during the day and alternate different activities at night…and as a result barely see each other or get to talk.  I don’t know if any of you ever get into that place, but I hate it!  By the time we finally get to spend some time together, we don’t feel very connected.

I’ve found a good way to help with this.  Don’t let the day go by without touching base with your wife.  It could be a quick call during lunch just to see how the day is going or to let her know you were thinking about her.  Or, it could be as simple as an email or a text message.  Neither of these take much time, but can go a long ways in staying connected.

This is even more important if you’re ever out of town for a while.  That can be a tough time, especially for the one who is at home.  Simple ways of staying in touch help her to know she is important.  And it takes very little effort on your part…other than simply remembering to do it.  Which, by definition, shows you were thinking of her!

I don’t always do a good job of this.  Many days I’m caught up in work and don’t have a chance to stop and think about my wife…much less remember to take the time to contact her.  I notice it when this happens…in the evenings, we aren’t as connected.

My challenge to you:
If you and your wife are apart for any length of time (work day, out of town, etc), make sure to take the time to say hey.  Let her know that you love her and were thinking of her.

It’s never too late to learn from your dad

IMG_5464I grew up with 2 brothers and we had a lot of fun as kids.  One thing that was great about growing up was learning from my dad.  He was silly.  He liked to have fun with us.  He helped us catch snakes.  He loved taking us camping, hiking, and exploring.  He taught us about budgeting and how to be financially responsible.  He was solid in his knowledge of the Bible and taught us well about growing up to be godly men.  I was very blessed to see a model of what being an AMAZING father looked like, and I feel that much of what is good about my role as a father now, I learned from his example.

Several years ago, something else happened that left an impression on me.  After my younger brother went off to college, my parents were left with an empty nest.  Rather than become “roommates” living in a house together without kids, my dad stepped up who he was as a husband to my mom.  He was afraid they wouldn’t have things to talk about.  They started doing an anniversary journal (like the one I wrote about earlier), and he wasn’t satisfied with the content he was able to fill it with.  So because of this, he decided to be intentional about making a change in their marriage.

They set goals together for their marriage.  He started to learn more about himself…understanding more about his feelings and how who he is now was shaped by his past experiences.  He was able to open up and share more with my mom on a personal level.  He initiated them reading together and studying the Bible together.  He took dance lessons with her.  He made sure to take dates with her on a regular basis.  And he became very intentional about finding ways to serve her…like doing things around the house that he never did in the past.

I’ve seen such a change in him during this time.  It has been so inspiring to me to see it, and I feel challenged to know that it is never too late to make changes in life.  If my dad can make a huge difference in who he is as a husband after 30 years of marriage, then I’m sure anyone with a desire and will to do it can too.

My challenge to you:
If you don’t feel you are an ideal husband (or father, or worker, or friend, or follower of Christ, or whatever…), it doesn’t matter where you are in life, you can make a change starting NOW.  Show your wife you love her.  Don’t settle for what you’ve always done.  If you’ve settled into a comfortable routine consisting of mediocre affection and selfishness, it’s time to step up your game.  If you can make your wife say, “wow, who is this man and what have you done to my husband?!”, then you’re on the right track!

Why I’m not afraid of ebola

bigstock-Silhouette-Of-Man-Walking-In-T-41058436It’s tough to turn on the news, watch a movie, or have a conversation about what’s going on in the world without being faced with someone in some sort of life threatening situation. Terrorists can strike anywhere. No school is safe from another kid who goes crazy and brings their parent’s guns to school. We’re all just a missed hand washing away from contracting some deadly disease. At any time, a robber or serial killer could choose your house for their next attack. This type of inundation is tough to deal with.

When I picture someone in a situation where their life is threatened, my assumption is that they are desperately fighting for their life. Wouldn’t someone do ANYTHING for another chance to stay alive just a little bit longer?! But I’ve realized something…my purpose here on this earth has nothing to do with maximizing the amount of time here. This is NOT my real home. My purpose here is to glorify God, and to tell other people about Him…until He calls me home. Life in Heaven is going to be SO MUCH GREATER than the life we have here, so why would I desperately try to cling to this crummy place?!!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking for ways to die in order to expedite my trip to Heaven. I want to live my life to the fullest and make the most of what I’ve been blessed with. And the act of dying itself definitely isn’t something I’m looking forward to.  But, if God decides that it’s my turn to go, would I really want to try to fight it?! I’d like to think that if I’m in a situation where I know I’m going to die, I would have a smirk on my face and be able to say, “bring it on!”. Not so that I can look like a bada**, but because I know what is to come!

For those of you who grew up with the view that Heaven is nothing but us sitting in the clouds strumming harps and singing old hymns 24 hours a day…for infinity years…you need to fire the Sunday school teacher who formed your idea of Heaven! Did you know that Heaven will be here on earth?…a glorified earth after God recreates it. And we will have jobs, and relationships, and we can travel places. There will be no tears, death, hunger, thirst, jealousy, or hurt feelings. Everything will be perfected…the way it was originally intended to be…purified through God’s lens of awesomeness!

So based on this, I choose to not live a life of fear. I want to trust in God’s plan for me. I’m not going to go looking for people with ebola to hang out with, but when I’m faced with my death, I know it’s just God calling me to my true home.

My challenge to you is broken down based on what type of person you are:

1. Someone who is a Christian, knows they are going to Heaven, and is excited about what is to come – Remember what you purpose is here. Live life to the fullest until God decides it is your time to go.

2. Someone who is a Christian, knows they are going to Heaven, but isn’t that excited about what they anticipate it will be like – I challenge you to read the book Heaven by Randy Alcorn. I guarantee it will help dispel any incorrect beliefs you have, and will likely result in you being more hopeful about the amazing place Jesus has gone to prepare a place for you in.

3. Someone who doesn’t consider themselves a Christian and thinks I am delusional in my view of the afterlife – Just because you don’t believe something, doesn’t mean it isn’t true. I challenge you to read the book More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell or A Case for Christ by Lee Stroebel (hint…More Than a Carpenter is about 5 times shorter…but both are great).

4. Someone who isn’t sure what will happen to them when they die, but would like to go to Heaven if it exists…and they wish they could know for sure – You don’t need to live in fear. You CAN know what will happen to you when you die. There is no need to be afraid of it. If you live locally, I offer to take you out to dinner and talk about it. Just contact me and we’ll find a time…my treat. If you don’t live locally, I encourage you to talk to a friend that you know is a Christian and ask them questions. Or, find a local church to get you started in the right direction. Here are the basics…

– God created the world and everything in it including people. (Genesis 1)

– All people (including me and you) are full of sin which is what separates us from God who is perfect. (Romans 3:23)

– The consequence of sin is separation from God, which results in going to a very real place called Hell after death. (Romans 6:23)

– In olden times, the only way to get past that sin barrier was by following rules and offering sacrifices. The blood sacrifice was basically a substitute for our spiritual death. (Leviticus)

– Then, God changed up the rules by sending Jesus, who is God’s son. Jesus did amazing things that only God would be able to. He died as a one-time sacrifice for anyone and everyone who accepts it. His death took the place of the old sacrifices people had to make. (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Romans 6:10)

– After he died, he rose from the dead and went back to Heaven. (Matthew 28, Mark 16)

– Now, ANYONE who believes that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died for our sins, and wants to follow Him, will have their name written down in the book of life and will go to Heaven when they die. (John 3:16)

– Being “good” doesn’t get you into Heaven. It is only by the grace of God, which is offered to us even though we don’t deserve it. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

– For you to be included in this group, you need to:
1. Admit that you are a sinner in need of forgiveness. (Romans 3:23)
2. Believe that Jesus died on the cross as a sacrifice for your sins. (John 3:16)
3. Repent of your sins expressing a desire to change and live like Jesus teaches us to. (1 John 1:9)

– This CAN be done on your own, but is best done through conversation with someone. So, please reach out to me or someone you know.

That’s it in a nutshell. There is obviously a lot more to learn, but if you believe who Jesus was, what He did, and pursue a life that follows what He called us to do, then you’re set and can KNOW you’ll go to Heaven when you die.

*** If you’ve read this far, you may be thinking, “what does this have to do with being a good husband?” Well, the short answer is…I just wanted to write about this because it was on my mind. But, in reality, the status of a man’s salvation and his view on life and expectation of an afterlife will have a HUGE impact on who he is as a husband, father, and man. So, if you can get this topic figured out, it’s going to have a huge impact on your life. :-)

…in sickness and in health

Close Up of Football Players Face in HelmetProfessional athletes spend most of their lives preparing for the game. They work in the off-season. They practice in the pre-season and between games. During this time they are conditioning their bodies to be in shape. They are fine tuning their swing, working on their routes, studying the plays, and practicing their shots. They go through scenarios of what the game will be like over and over, and then they rest. There is a purpose for all this training. When it’s game time, they need to be ready. Their bodies have to be at peak performance the whole game. They have to know how to execute all the skills they need during the game flawlessly. And, most importantly, they don’t have time to rest. They have to give it their all and then some. This is what they trained for.

Back when Julia and I got married, there was something that was asked of us at the ceremony, which is very common to most weddings. We were asked if we would love and care for each other in sickness and in health. Of course we said yes and went on our married way (see what I did right there :-) ). It’s easy to agree to that statement, but it’s much tougher to live it out.

stock-footage-sick-woman-in-bed-checking-her-temperature-and-blowing-noseOn a regular day, marriage can be tough. Some days are easy, but many are not. I’ve found that when one of you is sick, the difficulty is amplified significantly. If your wife is sick, and you want to care for her, you are going to step the work you do. You’re going to take care of the meals, and the household chores, and the kid duties. Plus, you’re going to be extra attentive to what her needs are, physically and emotionally.

I’ll be honest…this can be exhausting! When I am at my weakest, I sometimes feel…that I just don’t want to do it! But, then I realize…

My regular day-to-day life has been my practice field. I’ve been conditioning myself to learn how to do the chores. I’ve been practicing how to make meals and take care of Eli. I’ve been honing my skills so that meeting her needs becomes like a second nature. And now…IT’S GAME TIME! She needs me now more than ever. It doesn’t matter how tired I am or how much I want to relax. If I start to feel bad for myself, I just remember that she feels much worse. So, I will not stop. I will not slow down. I will do everything I can to meet her needs and take work off her plate. This is what I’ve trained for!

My challenge to you:
If your wife is sick, you better bring your A game. It will be tiring, but it will make a world of difference to her. Try to anticipate and meet every need she has. And, don’t stop until she’s feeling better.

How a clean shower leads to a happy marriage…

...not our actual shower :-)
…not our actual shower :-)

I know a surefire way to bring conflict into a marriage…one person NOT doing something that is expected of them.  This statement could apply in lots of ways, but today I’m specifically referring to household responsibilities.  I’m not going to tell you which of us does this in our marriage, but I’ll give you a hint…it’s both of us!

For example, I’m responsible for taking out the trash.  Every once in a while I forget to do it though.  When that happens, the trash starts to pile up, and the can in the garage starts to stink.  Also, I’m responsible for cleaning the tubs and showers in the house.  For some reason, I have a habit of letting this go for weeks…scratch that…for months…before cleaning them.  Julia doesn’t complain though.  She’s very understanding and forgiving.  But, when I do this repeatedly, and my negligence results in her having to put up with smelly trash and dirty showers, so naturally she is a little upset.

There are two problems I run into concerning chores.  One is that I sometimes forget what things I’m responsible for.  And, the other is that sometimes my tolerance for what is “acceptable” doesn’t match hers.  This isn’t to say that her expectations are unreasonable by any means.  I’m just not putting the necessary amount of effort and attention into doing something that I agreed would be my responsibility.

Just recently we sat down and redefined our chore list.  It was a great chance to do a couple things:

  • Now that Julia is working part-time, she has much less free time.  This gave us a chance to re-balance the amount of work each of us was responsible for.
  • It helped remind of us which chores were on our list
  • It gave each of us the chance to discuss if there was an area the other person wasn’t meeting what we felt was a reasonable expectation for that chore.

As a result of this conversation, we BOTH have done a better job with our responsibilities.  This has helped us to feel more loved by each other, and resulted in less frustration…woohoo!

My challenge to you:

Sit down and talk with your wife about household chores.

  • Make a list and divide up who is going to be responsible for what areas.
  • Make sure things are divided up to where you are both sharing in the load.
  • Make sure you are able to RESPECTFULLY discuss if someone isn’t currently taking care of an area to the extent you would like.
  • Set a calendar reminder to touch base again in 6 months or a year to see how it’s going.

5 simple ways to throw your wife under the bus

bus11By show of hands…who wants to look bad?…who wants to disappoint other people?  No one does!  It’s in our nature to want to pass blame along to someone else…especially if it’s true.  So, what do you do when you’re married to that person?  Do the same rules apply?  Here are some scenarios to consider…

1.  A group wants to go out to a certain restaurant, but you know your wife hates it:
Just let the others know that your wife doesn’t like that restaurant…even though you do.  And suggest some place different to go.

2. You can’t go out with some of your friends because your wife is being needy:
“The guys” are all watching a game over at a friends house.  But you can’t go because your wife has guilted you into staying with her because you haven’t spent much time together.  Don’t let them think that you don’t want to hang with them.  Just let them know that your wife is being extra needy and is making you stay home.  I’m sure they can relate.

3. Your wife made you late:
You don’t want to be seen as irresponsible for being late, so make sure to let everyone know the truth…you WOULD have been on time if your wife hadn’t taken so long to get ready.  Dignity saved!

4. You can’t afford to do something with friends that you would like to:
Normally, you’d be all over it, but money is tight right now.  You don’t want your friends to think you’re poor do you?  Just let them know…that you’d have plenty of money if your wife didn’t spend so much!

5. Everyone wants to do something awesome…everyone except your wife:
Simply tell everyone the truth, “guys, I would love to do that amazing thing, but my wife doesn’t want to, so we aren’t going to.”  Perfect…now everyone knows that you’re still cool and your wife is LAME-O.

I hope you can tell that I’m being sarcastic in these examples.  This is NOT the best way to deal with them.  But, what I find to be interesting is that the above responses are my (and I think most people’s) usual response.  I do this…ALL THE TIME!  What is the result?…it makes my wife look bad, but saves my dignity.

Make sure you are your wife’s biggest defender.  It doesn’t matter that things like this are little and can be silly issues.  Take every chance you can to stand up for your wife.  Never throw her under the bus…it doesn’t matter if the issue is big or small.  How about these responses instead…

  1. Let them know you’d rather not go to that restaurant and suggest another.  Leave out the fact that your wife is the main reason.
  2. Let the guys know that you WANT to stay home because YOU need to spend some time with your wife…not that she’s guilting you into it.
  3. Apologize for being late…and that’s it.  Other people don’t need to know why.
  4. Let them know you can’t do it.  They don’t need to know that finances are the reason.  Or if you do mention it…don’t pass the blame to your wife as why things are tight.
  5. Own the decision yourself.  If your wife doesn’t want to do something, and YOU don’t want to do it because you don’t want to put HER in a position she doesn’t like…then tell your friends simply that YOU don’t want to do it…because it is the truth.

10488020_10152600392804328_3462622841212661978_nAlthough I find myself “failing” at this subject all the time, I did recently handle it better in one instance.  We were hanging out at a coffee shop with family in from out of town.  Everyone wanted to sit outside on some nice outside chairs they have.  But, they were by the grass and Julia gets eaten alive by mosquitos (seriously…they love her).  She didn’t want to go outside, but didn’t want to say anything because everyone else was super-excited about it.  So, after I got my drink, I sat down inside.  The others were surprised that I didn’t go outside, but I simply told them, “I’d just rather sit inside.”  Julia was saved from bites, AND she didn’t have to “look bad” by going against what everyone wanted to do.

My challenge to you:
When there is a problem at work, everyone respects the boss who accepts responsibility for a problem rather than pass the blame on to his direct report who was actually the one who caused the issue.  On a sports team, people love a coach who accepts responsibility for a loss, rather than blame the team for not performing well.  Be the same way in your family.  Don’t throw your wife under the bus.

The only competition I care about winning

To-Do List - Win - Dry Erase BoardSome people are competitive.  You know the ones I’m talking about…those people who have never been beaten by their kids…in ANYTHING.  Where game night with friends is serious business.  When a Chutes & Ladders loss will ruin the rest of the day.  And then there are people like me…who couldn’t care less.  Now, don’t think that means I don’t put effort into what I do.  It just means that if I lose something, it generally doesn’t really affect me.  But, there is one thing that I AM competitive in…loving my wife.

chickencompetitiveI try to out-love Julia.  Here’s how I see it… If I can show her more love than she shows me, I consider it a win.  So, that’s my goal…every day.  If there are clean dishes in the dishwasher, I try to take care of them before she has a chance to.  If we haven’t gotten to spend much quality time together, I’ll try to write her some notes during the day to let her know I was thinking of her.  If she cooks tacos because she knows that I will love it, then I try to one-up her by writing her a love note AND getting her a gift of some sort.  If I ever feel that she is loving me more than I am her, I see it as a sign that I need to step up my game.

congratulations, you succed itThere is another aspect to this competition too.  I ALSO try to compete against all the other men out there.  If I hear of someone who does something cool that shows how much he loves his wife, I see that as a challenge.  When I see that Jimmy Starnes took his wife out on a great date, or that Chris Erickson went on a crazy wilderness adventure with his wife, or I see Patrick Hallman telling his wife how much he loves her on Facebook…I try to take those ideas as a reminder and apply them in my life.  My goal in this is to be the best husband in the world.  Not that anyone can actually receive that title, but that’s what I’m always working towards.

My challenge to you:
Whether you are generally competitive or not, make it a point to compete in loving your wife.  Don’t let her out-do you.  And when you see or hear other guys doing something great, don’t see it as a sign that you’re NOT doing great.  Take that idea and use it!

I wish I knew THAT back when I got married

This weekend I had the joy of seeing one of my oldest friends get married.  It was so great to see how happy he is marrying the woman God prepared just for him.  They’re a perfect fit for each other, and it makes me so excited to see them together!

8eAs I was there, it made me think about weddings in general.  Couples often put SO much effort into planning for “the big day” so that it can be amazing.  All the food, flowers, schedules, music, etc has to be planned out in hopes of the event going perfectly.  In all the work, it can be easy to put so much focus on the wedding itself, that couples can sometimes forget to put the same amount of effort and planning into their marriage.  Many couples, including my friend and his wife, go through some type of premarital counseling and guidance, to help prepare them for their marriage…not just for the wedding.  Without this type of work, a couple might know EXACTLY what they’re doing for the 6 hours of the wedding and reception, but not have a clue of what they’re going to do for the 5 decades to come of their marriage!

Reading this, you may agree, but be already married and past the point to do anything with this idea.  So, here’s the bomb…it is NEVER too late to prepare for your marriage!  You may be married for 20 years now, but you can STILL go through some of these marriage prep ideas.

  • Discuss your desires and expectations for children:  You may already have three of them, but it is good to make sure you and your wife are on the same page no matter where you are in your family size.
  • Discuss role expectations:  One of the best things Julia and I did in preparing for our marriage was discuss our expectations of who would be the “decision maker” in certain areas of life.  We did this in a workbook called Before You Say I Do, but you could do the exercise without it.  Come up with a list of categories (where money is spent, where we live, parenting roles, home decoration, church involvement, vacation decisions, etc) and indicate what percentage of influence each spouse has in that category.    Answer on your own and then compare.  We found it VERY interesting and helpful.  You can do this even if you’ve been married for a long time!
  • Discuss finances:  How do you budget your money?  What do you do with “extra” money that comes in?  Who manages the bills and balancing it all?
  • Discuss things you want to make sure you do or don’t do as a parent.  This is important even if you are halfway through the process.
  • Have another (possibly older) couple that can serve as a mentor couple to you.  Share with them issues that you have and be open to advice.
  • Talk about communication:  How well do you communicate?  Are there lingering issues that need to be discussed that you haven’t addressed?
  • See a marriage counselor:  No, this is NOT just for couples that are “in trouble”.  Seeing a marriage counselor can help anyone.  If your marriage is good, that might be what you need to help make it GREAT!

My challenge to you:
If you are already married, think through the list above and possibly sit down with your spouse and talk about some of them.  Discussing topics like these, even if you’ve been married for a long time, will help you be on the same page and be more purposeful in your marriage.  You have a lot of married time together left in life, so go prepare for it!!

How to lead your family spiritually: The definitive guide

Ok, so it’s not really the definitive guide…but I did put a lot of thought into this post.  And it’s about twice as long as my normal ones.  So I guess that counts for something!  :-)

A couple months ago I wrote about how being the spiritual leader of your family is the most important job a man has.  You might be saying…great, but how do I do that?!  That’s a fair question, and honestly I feel like the least qualified person to answer it.  I feel like I fail in this subject more than I succeed.  It’s only by the grace of God (and an awesome wife) that our family has any semblance of a solid spiritual foundation.  Knowing this is an important subject, I’m going to put some thoughts together about it.  Hopefully these will help organize ME to do better as well as encourage you to be moving in the right direction if you’re not already.

To effectively lead your family spiritually, I think there are three main things that need to take place.

1. YOU need to have a solid spiritual walk.  

Before you can have any impact on anyone else, I feel the most important thing is that YOU need to be praying and reading the Bible on a regular basis.  If you are not seeking after God, then how can you expect to lead your family?  It would be like a manager trying to run a factory full of workers when he didn’t know anything about how the factory operated.  If you are seeking after God the way you need to, then you will be much more likely to be able to lead, teach, and encourage others.  Also, the BEST way to lead is by example.  If your wife and kids see you following after God, without even saying anything, you will be teaching them.

man-reading-biblePractical ideas:

  • Download the YouVersion Bible app and sign up for a Bible reading plan.
  • Have a certain time each day (or certain days during the week) where you spend time in prayer and devotional time.
  • Get a devotional book to help get you going.
  • Join a men’s Bible study.

Although I feel like I struggle in this area, I did recently finish up a 12 month Bible reading plan.  Using YouVersion, I read through the whole Bible in 12 months.  It is amazing to see things from a different perspective when you read through in larger chunks.

2. Make sure you and your wife are growing TOGETHER

This could be from you, your church, the Bible, other books, other people, etc.  Being a leader doesn’t mean you have to do it all, just that you’re responsible for making sure it happens.

What stinks about this, is that out of all my husbandly attributes, this has historically been one of my weakest areas.  Julia and I have tried a lot of different methods to help grow our spiritual lives as a couple, but we’ve had a tough time being consistent with any of them.  It has led to her being frustrated…not wanting to nag me, but wanting me to step up and take the initiative.

Practical ideas:

  • Praying together at bedtime
  • Praying together ANYTIME you think about it
  • Reading through a book of the Bible then discussing
  • Reading a devotional book and discussing a chapter each week
  • Listening to podcasts of sermons while riding in the car
  • Try to be purposeful in conversations and sharing what God is doing in your lives
  • Set aside a time each week where, after the kids are in bed, you carve out time for spiritual growth together (reading bible or devotional book, talking about things you’ve learned, etc).  Putting these times on the calendar ahead of time is a good way to remember.

One of the best things we’ve tried, that we’re doing right now, is going through the Beth Moore study on Daniel.  Yes, Beth Moore is generally directed toward women, but it’s good stuff!  We’ll do the workbooks on our own, then get together to watch the video sessions.  It’s been nice to be able to really get deeper into the Word together and be able to talk about it.

3. Make sure your kids are getting the right foundation

IMG_1012Again, this could be from you, your wife, the church, or other people.  What’s important is that you make sure it is happening.  As someone who grew up in the church, it is easy for me to take for granted biblical knowledge.  It’s easy to forget that knowledge has to be learned.  And our kids aren’t going to learn about God on their own…or from watching TV or playing on the iPad.

Practical ideas:

  • Get a kids devotional book and read each night at dinner or bedtime
  • Bring them to church / sunday school / youth group
  • When you see something beautiful or amazing in nature, point out to your kids how amazing it is that God created it
  • When your kids do something bad, take the opportunity to talk about the nature of sin with them and why we need a rescuer to save us from it.
  • Find opportunities to serve other people WITH your kids.  If you model the behavior, and explain to them WHY we help others, it will help develop good habits for them.

All kids are different, but Eli is a creature of habit…and so are we.  So, we’ve found that by coming up with a routine (like devotional at bedtime…or whatever) we are MUCH more likely to stick with it.  And if we forget, Eli will let us know.  :-)

Here are a few books that we’ve used and LOVE!!  The Jesus Storybook Bible is a great kids Bible that you can read to them daily.  It is easy to understand, but also makes stories relatable to WHY they are important.  I highly recommend it.  Also, we have been using a family devotional book called Long Story Short.  It works for a wide age range of kids and is amazing!

My challenge to you:

Evaluate how well you are meeting each of these 3 points.  How is YOUR spiritual walk?  If you feel it needs something fresh to get you going, try one of the ideas above.  How do you and your wife participate in spiritual growth TOGETHER?  If it’s not happening much, try one of the ideas above.  And lastly, are your kids getting the spiritual guidance they need?  If not, what can you do to make that happen?

***As I mentioned, I can definitely use some help in this topic.  So…I’d love to hear from you!  What are some different ideas for any of the 3 areas that you have done that you feel have been helpful?  Enter your ideas in the reply/comments area below!***