Monthly Archives: September 2014

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!***

How do you want to be remembered? – what Truett Cathy meant to me

s-truett-cathy-chick-fil-a-twitterIn light of the recent death of S. Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A, I’m going to take a break from my regularly scheduled husbandicizing to share some similar, but different, thoughts.   I truly believe that Truett is one of the best examples of what a Godly man looks like that we’ve seen in the last 100 years.  It has nothing to do with his business skills or how great his food is, but has everything to do with his priorities and his actions.  He was passionate about helping others and was so giving with his time, talent, and money.

As I think about the impact he has made in my life, and in the lives of so many others, a few things come to mind that I want to share.  This is by no means an exhaustive account of his legacy, it is merely a few things that struck me.

1. There are more important things in life than money

One of the best ways I saw this was the fact that Chick-fil-A continues to always be closed on Sundays.  The company could make SO much more money if their doors were open, but Truett decided long ago that his workers being able to go to church and spend time with their families was more important than profit.

This is a tough concept to remember.  My work is centered around making money.  And my life decisions involve deciding where to spend that money.  It is so easy to get caught up in placing so much importance on it.  It is encouraging to see people like this and be reminded that money is not what makes life great.

2. It is better to give than to receive

Truett and Chick-fil-A have made a name for themselves by the HUGE amounts of money they give away.  I’ve been a recipient of this several times.  Both my wife and I (and my 2 brothers and sister in law) received a large amount of money in scholarships to be a part of the WinShape college program at Berry College.  We also both received thousands of dollars in support to help fund mission trips that we participated in.  And I know there are countless other ministries that have been supported by Chick-fil-A with no strings attached.  They don’t give money away in hopes of getting it back with interest.  They give money so they can help people, and so they can help raise the next generation of leaders.

This is so important for me to see, because I always want to GET things.  I love gifts, free coupons, discounts, etc.  When I consider the impact receiving those gifts has made in my life, it makes me want to do the same for others.

3. One of the greatest measures of a man’s life is the impact he has on other people

By looking through my Facebook page today, it is MIND-BLOWING to see the amount of people that Truett Cathy’s life has had an impact on.  I believe THAT is what makes a man great.  Without Truett’s influence, I wouldn’t have the job I do now, Julia and I wouldn’t be married, Eli wouldn’t exist, and the spiritual foundation I try to base my life on wouldn’t be nearly as solid.  I have SO much to be thankful for.

My conclusion:

I don’t want to be remembered as the guy who had the nicest looking lawn in the neighborhood, or the greatest tennis serve, or the nicest looking clothes, or who took the coolest vacations.  I want to be remembered as a man who gave to others, helped people have better lives, and tried to have an influence on the next generation.  One day, when I die, I want people to say that I had a huge impact on their lives…just like Truett Cathy did to me.  What about you?

I love football more than my wife

Watching-football-on-TVOk guys, it’s that time of the year again!  Break out the cold drinks, chips, remote control , and the la-z-boy because it’s football season!  My favorite sport to watch all year is NFL football, and I get so excited when September comes around…as I know many of you men do too.  Even though I love it, and even though I cheer for my Falcons, Eagles, and Yellow Jackets, I believe there is a hidden downside that many people don’t recognize, and often don’t choose to care about.

Just like eating warm Krispy Kreme donuts, watching football can be a lot of fun.  However, if you don’t show restraint in how much you consume, you may find yourself dealing with other side effects that you didn’t want.  What I’m talking about is balance in life.  Let’s picture a guy who is WAY into his football watching.  Saturday, college football is on TV all day long.  Sunday, NFL is on all day long.  And of course, he can’t miss the Monday night game.  And oh…this week there is a Thursday game too.  Plus, don’t forget about all the ESPN update shows in the middle that analyze what’s happened and is going to happen.  Realistically, this can very easily add up to 25-30 hours of football watching per week!  So, outside of work, sleeping, commuting, and watching football, how much time is this guy devoting to meaningful conversation or activities with his wife and kids?  Probably not much…because there is not much left.

Now, most of you probably aren’t like this guy.  But, still I would venture a guess that MANY guys reading this will watch 1 maybe 2 games on a Saturday, 1 maybe 2 games on a Sunday, and maybe one more during the week.  That’s easily somewhere between 10 and 20 hours per week.  Again the question is…how much time is left for the family?

Now, don’t think I’m against football because I’m not.  Often I end up watching a LOT just because it’s there, and I love it.  Julia always rejoices though when February comes around and there is no more to watch.  Even if she’s partially joking about celebrating it being over, that means some part of her feels neglected during that time…and I hate that.  I think actions sometimes say something that we would never put into words.  And if I’m being honest, there are some weeks where my actions have spoken loud and clear to Julia telling her that I love football more than her.  And for me…that’s just not acceptable.

So, here’s my plan that I try to go by…  On any given day, I pick out which game I am most interested in and ONLY watch that one.  If she’s going to be gone, maybe I’ll watch more.  Or, if she’s going out that night, maybe I’ll TIVO a game and watch it when she leaves.  And I try to make a point of spending time with her and Eli whenever I can.

My challenge to you:

If you love watching football, think about how much time you spend doing it.  Think about what message it sends to your wife.  And evaluate if you need to change something up.  Remember what is important!  At the end of your life, are you more likely to think back and wish that you spent MORE time watching football?  Or are you more likely to wish you spent more quality time with your wife and kids?