Tag Archives: family

It’s that time of the year again…!!!

One of my favorite times of the year is here!  No, it’s not the leaves changing, Halloween, or great fall weather (although all of these are fun).  I’m excited about annual budgeting time…woohoo!  We start our family’s fiscal year on October 1st, so late September we get to plan out how we’re going to budget for the next year.  It’s so great!

I spend a bunch of time putting together spreadsheets and running reports from Quicken to see what we spent last year and estimate what we need to do for this year.  Then, Julia and I will sit down and figure out what we want to do.  I think what I love about it is the clean slate it creates.  No categories will be overspent.  We have total freedom (within the budget we create) to spend without feeling bad.

budgetingHere’s the tricky part though…Julia HATES it!  Getting her to want to sit down with me to go through it is like winning the lottery.  So here’s my challenge…because she doesn’t like it, it’s easy for me to want to make decisions without her.  It would be really simple to just budget however I want and just tell her afterwards what it is.  After all, I am the man of the house right?  Can’t I just do whatever I want?

Even though she doesn’t like the process, I feel it is SO important for us to do this together.  It is not MY money to decide what to do with just because we got it from the job I worked.  It is OURS because we work together as a family.  And really, it is not OUR money either simply because we earned it, it is GOD’S money that he has blessed us with.  I want to make sure our family manages that money well in a way that is non-selfish, loving, and responsible.  So an important part of that is to talk with her to hear her opinions on how things should be allocated.  Julia has very good insight and opinions.  Even if she wants to use money for something I didn’t want to, it’s good for me to know that.  If we only made financial decisions based on what I thought was important, I wouldn’t be honoring and loving her.

My challenge to you:

Make sure you and your wife are BOTH involved in your family’s budgeting process.  Even if one of you is more interested than the other, I think it’s incredibly important for you BOTH to have input and honor God together through it.

But wait…I thought that was MY job

  1. What should I do if my wife wants to quit her job to stay home?
  2. What should I do if my wife has a promotion opportunity that would require us to move?
  3. What should I do if my wife has a good job and wants me to stay home with the kids?

To answer these three questions, I want to start by giving some background on what I think marriage roles should be:

IMG_7268Back when God first created people, his design was for the man and wife to work together to take care of their family.  Typically the man “worked the ground” and hunted to provide food, and the woman did more of the cooking and caring for kids.  This wasn’t because of societal expectation, but was because it made sense based on how they were made.  Men were usually physically stronger than women.  Farming and hunting was EXTREMELY physical work, so it made sense for the man to take care of that part.  But, BOTH the man and women WERE taking care of their family…just in different ways…based on their skills.  Fast forward to present day and apply those same concepts to a married couple.  BOTH people should be responsible for taking care of their family…based on their skills.

There are two parts to what taking care of a family means:

  1. Providing resources:  In the past, this meant hunting, gathering, and farming, but today this usually means earning money to BUY the things that are needed.
  2. Providing care:  This consists of cooking, cleaning, teaching, and much more.  How this looks has changed over time, but the basics are still the same.

IMG_6856I don’t feel that men need to be the primary bread winners.  In fact, in the right situations, I don’t think men NEED to even work to earn money.  I believe what IS important is for a husband and wife to work together to meet the needs of their family.  They need to figure out what is the best way to provide resources and care for their family.  Maybe this means the husband works (earning money) and the wife works at home (not earning money).  Maybe it means the wife works (earning money) and husband works at home (not earning money).  Or maybe they both are employed.  If both spouses are employed, this can obviously create some extra challenges in providing care, but many couples do this and do it well.

So, viewing careers from this perspective can help address the questions I posed at the beginning.  The answer to all three of these questions are the same.  You and your wife need to figure out the best way to meet the needs of your family.  What is the best way for you to earn money to provide for your family’s needs?  What is the best way for you to provide care for your family?  Maybe it means she needs to be the primary (or only) income earner.  If you would expect her to follow you to a new city for a promotion opportunity, it would be unfair for you to not consider following her if she has an opportunity.  If one of you needs to stay home, don’t assume it needs to be her.  If she can earn money, I’m sure you can learn to do things at home.  Figure out where each of your skills lie and find the best fit to use them to meet your family’s needs.  Just don’t make an assumption on what that should look like based on what other generations did before you.

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!***

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?

The most important job a man has

2152f838-ea4c-4540-bfaa-afc44c3c5e22As a Christian husband, I feel there is one responsibility that stands out as more important than all the others.  Yes, it is important to make sure your family is taken care of financially, and that they feel safe and secure, and that they feel loved and appreciated, but I feel the most important calling of a man is to lead his family spiritually.

I’m going to go out on a limb here.  Guys, if your family is not grounded in the Word, if they are not solid in their understanding of who God is, what Jesus did for us, and how we should live our lives in praise of Him and in serving and loving others, then it is YOUR fault.  Yes, you heard me right.  YOU need to take responsibility for it.

Now, please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying.  This is not a comment on gender roles and what is appropriate for men and women to do.  I believe God has given both men and women insight and the ability to understand the Word.  I believe women can learn and teach the Word just as well as men can, and to stifle that would be to limit the potential for spreading knowledge and wisdom to others as well as ourselves.  Julia is blessed with an incredible understanding of God and desire to always be learning.  Not only that, but she is an amazing teacher.  When Eli does something silly that I’m about to laugh off and move on from, she will use it as an opportunity to make a life lesson from it.  Like illustrating what the grace of God is like while doing the dishes.  Or to talk about the importance of loving others when hearing news about needs in another country.  She also is always teaching and challenging me, which I appreciate.  This is one of many reasons why I am SO thankful to be married to her.

With that being clarified, I think all men need to take responsibility for making sure their family receives spiritual direction and growth.  That doesn’t mean they should PREVENT their wife or other people from contributing, but that they shouldn’t DEPEND on them to do so.

I have to be honest…this is not one of my biggest strengths as a husband.  I have the best intentions, but often fall short of what I want to do.  Thankfully, by the grace of God, I am blessed with an amazing wife that thrives spiritually even without much help from me, and am blessed in how she helps teach our son.  This is an ongoing growth area for me.

My challenge to you:
What are YOU doing to help advance the spiritual life of the members of your family?  Are you doing nothing hoping that your wife will take over the job?  Are you expecting your church to do the job for you?  Don’t sit back and outsource the most important job you have to other people.  STEP UP and MAKE SURE your family is on the right track.

…stay tuned for an upcoming post on ways to make this happen