Monthly Archives: February 2015

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 is spiritually wiser than you

bible1I consider myself a relatively smart person.  I got good grades at school.  I feel I learn things quickly.  I can put together an excel spreadsheet like nobody’s business.  But something I have a tough time with is unravelling the mysteries of the Bible.  Sure, I’ve got the basics down, but when you get into some of the tougher issues, my brain gets lost in all the words.  I think this malady is consistent with any sort of reading about deep subjects actually…Nathaniel Hawthorne or William Faulkner anyone?

I realize my shortcomings even more in comparison to the brilliance of Julia.  She has an amazing capacity to read, understand, and apply difficult concepts.  She’ll read a commentary on a biblical passage and simply light up!  She’ll talk with me about it… “You know what’s interesting!!! …” and follow it up with an in depth monologue about amazing concepts that I never would have even thought to think about.  And what’s even more amazing is the way she’s able to teach these concepts.  We’ll be driving down the road and she’ll see some neat clouds and draw Eli’s attention to how amazing God’s creation is.  Or she’ll make a lesson out of Eli not wanting to do some sort of household chore and turning it into an analogy lesson of sin and how it affects us.  And everything ultimately leads back to how amazing Heaven will be.

So, what do I do with this?  I’m called to be the spiritual leader of my family right?  And doesn’t 1st Timothy 2:12 say “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet”?  Does that mean that Julia SHOULDN’T use the knowledge she has to teach others?  Does that mean that I need to find some way to man up and solely take over any family teaching of Eli that’s going on?  Here are my thoughts on this…

Being a spiritual leader doesn’t mean you have to DO EVERYTHING.  A leader is an organizer and someone who sets vision.  A good leader will work to encourage and bring out the talents in the people he works with.  A good leader would not pass up the chance to use all the resources at his disposal.  In my case, this means that if my wife is a spiritual genius, it will be ridiculous of me to not encourage her to to teach people (including my son and me) whatever she can!

To address the Timothy verse…does this really mean that women should not teach any men?  What if they are wise?  That seems a little counter-intuitive to me?!  If you do more in-depth research into the Timothy passage, you’ll find it can be misleading if read wrong.

The fact that Paul says, “I do not permit” is an important distinction to note.  This shows that he is not sharing a missive from God that is a universal command which must be adhered to by all for the end of time.  Rather, he is simply sharing what he is doing…at that time…in HIS ministry.  This likely is a statement about his local church, and he chooses to share his experience with Timothy.  These words show this is not a declaration of what is “sinful” or “wrong” but rather what is working for his ministry…at that time.

The phrase “to have authority over” comes from the work authenein.  This is the ONLY time this word is used in the New Testament.  The word normally used to say “authority” is exousia (which is used over 100 times).  But Paul specifically does NOT use that word here.  Exousia is used to mean legitimate or routine authority (what you normally think of).  Authenein can be better understood as “dominating” or authority with a violent or sexual meaning.  Paul is not saying that a woman shouldn’t “exercise authority” as you would generally think of it, but rather that she shouldn’t be forcefully dominating the relationship.

Later in the passage, to “remain quiet” is based on the greek word hesuchios.  At first glance, this can easily be read to mean “quiet” as in…”without speaking or making noise”.  However, through context in other passages where it appears, a more fitting understanding is “peaceable”, “undisturbing”, or “properly keeping one’s seat”.  This is NOT saying “it is wrong for women to say anything in a church setting”…but rather that they should not cause a disturbance.

I believe one of the more important things to consider is to note the cultural significance of this passage.  Paul wasn’t writing a letter to Timothy in the 21st century.  This was going on 2000 years ago when times were much different.  At that time, women were not educated…at all.  So, imagine a scenario where uneducated women are causing a disruption at church by questioning the authority of men who WERE educated.  Considering this perspective, Paul’s direction to Timothy is less a declaration for WOMEN to never speak or teach or have authority from that day until the end of time…and more of a call for order within the church and a reminder that if you’re going to teach, you should know what you’re talking about.  Imagine if someone who wasn’t educated stood up in the middle of your church today and started challenging what the pastor (who went to seminary and has devoted his life to learning and teaching) was saying?  I think Paul would send a letter to that person (man or women) telling them they needed to chill.

I do not for a minute think that if a modern day woman is educated in Biblical issues that it is “wrong” for her to teach other women, kids, or even men.  On the contrary, I think it would be a travesty for a women to NOT use the gifts and intelligence God gave her to do so.  Furthermore, there are plenty of times in the Bible where God used women to teach and have authority.  There are countless examples where women are given spiritual gifts and talents which are meant to be used.

Here’s my challenge to you:
If your wife has spiritual insight, do not hinder her in any way from teaching.  Rather, find ways to encourage her to share what she knows.  It is very likely God is going to use her to teach YOU something great.  Don’t stop there though…encourage her to pursue opportunities to use that gift.  There are plenty of women AND men out there that can benefit from someone teaching them something.  This could be through a formal bible study environment, a blog, or even just one-on-one conversations through relationships.  If God has given your wife a gift, do what you can to help her use it!

Also…if you are in a situation where a women at church is teaching at some level…don’t get your back up or feel awkward…listen to what God is leading her to teach.  You may learn something.

6 steps to rock Valentine’s Day

valentines-dayOk guys, it’s coming…Valentine’s Day!  Are you ready?  Do you ever have the feeling of, “We just HAD Valentine’s Day!…like 12 month’s ago!”  Do you ever feel pressure like you HAVE to live up to certain expectations?  Expected gifts, dinners, or activities?  That pressure comes from The Man.  I’m not sure who The Man is, but I think he works for Zales.  I admit that at times Valentine’s Day can feel like more of a responsibility than a joy.

Even though sometimes I dread aspects of it, when I get the right perspective, I ALWAYS love it.  You know why?  It’s another special date with my Baby!  Even if I’m being corralled into certain expectations, I always love when we get to spend meaningful time together.  So to help you with this, I have 6 tips to not just survive, but THRIVE during Valentine’s Day!

  1. Do SOMETHING:  This may sound silly, but it’s important to make sure you are doing SOMETHING to celebrate the day.  The last thing you want is to disappoint your wife by not doing ANYTHING!  It doesn’t mean things have to be fancy or expensive, but just make sure you’ve planned something.
  2. 10492391_10153079122079328_2286394721021814369_nIt’s ok to flex what day you celebrate: Have you ever tried to find a babysitter on Valentine’s Day?  Have you ever gone out to a nice restaurant on Valentine’s Day?  These can be more stressful than they’re worth.  A nice way to combat this is to pick a substitute day to celebrate.  For this to work though, you need to really commit to the substitute date.  It may sound silly, but try to ignore the real day completely and treat the other one as if the whole day is actually Valentine’s Day.  Julia and I celebrated last weekend.  We went downtown and stayed at the Ritz for a night!  The restaurant we ate at was nice and relaxing, but they said they had 600 reservations already for the ACTUAL Valentine’s Day!  I’m glad we went early.
  3. Stay at home:  If you don’t want to deal with sitters or crowded restaurants, an At Home Valentine’s Day may be best.  Put the kids to bed early.  Cook something nice or simply order take-out and eat by candlelight.  Watch a romantic movie or plan your own at-home activities.  Check out my post from 2 weeks ago if you want more “at-home” ideas.
  4. Give a gift…IF YOU WANT TO:  Don’t buy chocolates or jewelry or flowers because you think you’re supposed to.  Buy a gift if you WANT to.  This may take knowing your wife and if that’s a big deal for her.  Whatever you do, don’t buy something trite just because you think you have to.  If you get a gift, make it something meaningful that she will like.
  5. Share responsibility:  A couple years into our marriage, Julia and I realized that Valentine’s Day and our Anniversary were creating stress.  I felt like I had to plan something special EVERY TIME and Julia WANTED to plan something special, but we both had trouble doing so not knowing what the other person was planning on.  So we started sharing responsibility.  One year, I will plan what we do for Valentine’s Day and she will plan what we do for our Anniversary.  The next year we switch.  It is such a relief for each of us to know what’s expected and to not feel like either of us ALWAYS has to do it all.
  6. Play offense not defense: Don’t make your goal to NOT disappoint your wife from whatever expectations she may have.  Make your goal to WOW her.

With all this being said, THE most important thing is to put thought into it.  No matter what you do, if you’ve put thought into how you can love your wife, it’s going to be good and she will appreciate it.  So if you haven’t started thinking yet guys…get on it!

Why I will NOT teach my son to “be a man”

You know you’ve all heard it…”come on…be a man!”  This is usually said when someone is showing weakness of some sort and another man wants him to suck it up and tough it out.  But, what does that mean…to “be a man”?  From when I was born, TV, movies, commercials, and other people have drilled home the concept that being a man looks something like this:manly-men-fb

  • Never shows weakness
  • Doesn’t ask for directions
  • Often has a beard
  • Doesn’t cry
  • Solves problems with his fists
  • Doesn’t clean bathrooms, vacuum, or do laundry
  • Only cooks if it’s on the grill
  • Doesn’t ask for help
  • Always toughs it out

Now, there is obviously nothing wrong with a couple of these.  Having a beard…that’s fun.  Toughing it out…that can be good sometimes.  But, I have a real problem with the majority of the things on this list.  It’s interesting because they’ve been drilled into my mind for so long that they seem normal though.

overly-manly-man-the-best-of-L-CyvWgHLet’s step outside and settle this like men:
Sure…I love seeing a movie where a scrawny kid beats the stew out of a bully twice his size who won’t leave him alone.  Or, when someone insults a guy’s mom and he turns and goes Jason Bourne on him.  It seems cool, but really…is that what I want Eli to learn?  That being tough and being a man means you solve problems with your fists?  It looks good in a movie but can put you in jail in real life.  I would much rather him grow up to have an even temperament and be a man that knows how to reason, talk, and use common sense instead of his fists.

crying-manCrying like a girl:
“A real man doesn’t cry…come on man, don’t be a girl…only girls cry…are you crying??!!”  Why is it that there is a stigma to guys crying?  Sure, the average woman cries A LOT more than the average man.  That’s just part of how we’re made.  But, I think an injustice has been done by forcing men to feel they need to suppress it.  If I can be vulnerable with my family, be willing to share my feelings, and be okay with crying, my son will learn from my example.  He will learn that it’s ok to be real with people and that crying is a natural reflection of showing emotions.  That it’s not something to suppress or that makes you less of a man.  Personally, I don’t do well in this area…but I’m working on showing my emotions more authentically.  So, I salute you James Van Der Beek.  Keep it real!

Men DirectionsAsking for directions or help:
So what’s a better scenario:
– Reading the instructions and then putting together an Ikea desk quickly (in 3 hours).  Or figuring it out on your own, making a few mistakes, having to backtrack some, and either putting it together incorrectly or having to go back and get the directions out anyway, and as a result you take 5 hours?
– Stopping while driving to ask for directions, and getting to the right place the first time.  Or, NOT stopping and trying to find it on your own…getting lost a couple times and eventually finding the right place, but taking longer to get there.

Do you get an extra badge by doing it on your own?  NO, there is nothing to be gained by fumbling through something, when you could have done it right the first time by getting help.  That’s called being smart, practical, and efficient.  Don’t teach your son that it makes you less of a man to do so.

E1XMYH_Gender_ineq_3062832bDoing women’s work:
It’s such an outdated chauvinistic perspective to think that a “real man” doesn’t contribute around the house like a woman does.  I want my son to see me cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming, baking pies, and making casseroles.  I want him to learn that it is normal to help…no matter what the area is.  That way, it will be natural for him to grow up to love his wife in that way too.

To clarify, I DO want to teach my son to be a man.  I want him to learn to lead and love his family, to be responsible, to do his best, to be giving and loving to others, to be selfless, to be real with people, and to be a helper.  I do NOT want to teach him to be the type of man that stereotypes have created over the years.

My challenge to you:
You may disagree with me on some of these areas, and that’s ok.  But, if what I’m saying DOES make sense to you, try to identify if you’re guilty of perpetrating any of the negative stereotypes of what is required of a “real man”.  Make sure you model it and teach others what you really want them to learn.