Tag Archives: Marriage

Want to be a better father?

10 things great dads do

My review of 10 Things Great Dads Do by Rick Johnson

5 years and 2 months ago, my wife and I become the parents to a beautiful baby girl. In March of this year we became the parents to the cutest baby boy ever born…I might be a little bias. Outside of marriage, there is probably nothing that teaches people more about themselves than parenting and in 5 short years, I have had some great moments and some not so great moments. There are moments I look back at and wonder how I could have possibly responded and acted the way I did. Then there are times where I have the perfect parent mindset and I wonder why it does not remain forever. As anyone will tell you, parenting is hard work. It is a tough task for anyone. The only people who might say parenting is easy would be those parents who have abdicated their responsibility to actually raise their kids and pay others to do it.

As soon as you say you want to be the best parent there is, your child will unknowingly find a way to put you to the test. You might be on the way home from work and say I am going to be the perfect father when I get home. Then, you walk in the door to your house and it looks like a tornado has somehow picked out the inside of your home and completely turned everything around. The home you left when you went to work in the morning is a distant memory. Your wife is laying on the couch (if she doesn’t meet you at the door and tell you “good luck, I will be back in a month”) completely worn out from the day. Every room looks like my daughter turned into the incredible hulk and just went smashing through the house. On top of that, she has decided the walls would be her painting and coloring canvas instead of paper, the toilets are clogged because she used too much toilet paper after using the bathroom, water is all over the bathroom floor from her cannonball into the bathtub, the floors are a slip-n-slide due to drool from my teething son, and my daughter is running around the house singing “Let it Go” at the top of her lungs. Ok, so the truth is this has never happened to me, it may have to some of you but I just wanted to include this for dramatic effect. It seems when we decide to become better at something, the universe comes at you with all guns blazing. It is crazy how this happens. But every feeling you have had to this moment goes out the window as you just want to walk back out and try again in a couple hours.

I have to admit I have never personally experienced anything this bad, but it does seem that every time I truly decide I am going to be more patient with my kids, something happens to test it. Up until reading this book, I had been praying and asking God to help me become a better father and husband. 10 Things Great Dads Do was the best book for me to read at my current stage in life. I am far from being a perfect dad. I have my good moments and my bad moments but unfortunately, it seems like the bad moments far outweigh the good moments. I do not want to be the dad who looks back and regrets how he parented his kids. I want to be the dad who looks back and cherishes every moment he had with his children and would not change a thing. I know this would only happen in a perfect world but I also know if I truly want to be the best father and husband I can be, it will take hard work, discipline and dedication. Some people might say it will take blood, sweat and tears, which can also be true but I think you get the picture. To be a good father, it will take work because our kids really know how to bring out the worst in us…and they never had to be trained for it. After reading 10 Things, I can honestly say I have been refreshed, encouraged and challenged to be the best father I can be as well as equipped with some helpful tips and advice on how to move forward in my quest to better fathering.

Rick Johnson shares from personal experiences as well as stories from other fathers in order to help dads make decisions to be great dads, and that is what it takes, a decision to do it and then the discipline to follow through. Anyone can be a great dad but in order to do so, you cannot forfeit your responsibilities, you have to embrace them. Along with this, there is enormous pressure on fathers. It has been proven that children without a father face a much more difficult life than children with fathers. Daughters and sons both need the presence of a father or the tide turns against them in life and life becomes an even more intense uphill battle. Thus, fathers really need to step up to the plate for the sake of their children, and the next generation. This book will encourage and equip you with ideas on how to become the father you long to be.

As a father, are you beat up? Are you discouraged because there seems to be more yelling than laughter in your home? Are you tempted to just become more withdrawn from your family and just hope above that everything will turn out ok and then you can come back in to your children’s lives? Or are you going through a great stretch in your life right now where everything is just peachy? No matter where you are at in your journey of fatherhood, this book is worth your time. I can honestly say I have been challenged to be a better father through this book and it has given me renewed energy to actually strive to be the best father I can be. If you know of a man in your life who is just getting beat up as a father and is discouraged, get him a copy of this book. It will help.

Disclaimer: In accordance with FTC regulations, I received this book from Revell Books in return for a review of the book.

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Want a great marriage?

From this day forward

From This Day Forward is a simple but effective book on how to have a lasting marriage. Many Christians like to point their fingers at the gays and homosexuals saying they are ruining marriage. However, they are not ruining it. Who is ruining marriage then? Those heterosexuals who fail to live up to the commitments they made at the altar. Love is tossed around as a simple feeling or emotion. While it can be that, love is a choice and a commitment. I once heard it said “You do not fall in love, you fall in holes.” This is definitely something I have come to see in my own marriage. I did not fall in love with my wife, I chose to love her. Yes we had all those great feelings and emotions that all couples experience on their journey towards marriage but we also came to the conclusion that love is more than those butterflies in our stomachs, it is a choice, and it is a choice we made to love each other.

Unfortunately, many “Christians” are falling for the world’s idea of love over God’s. What this means is the church has been infiltrated with the wrong idea of love. Marriages are crumbling within the church just like it is outside of the church. Divorce is mentioned more often than it should be within the church. It is even seen as a way out if your spouse fails in some area or another. Instead of sticking through thick and thin, divorce is seen as an escape route. Craig and Amy address this in From This Day Forward.

This book does not break any new ground and or share any amazing new secret or wisdom to a happy marriage, but it is written in a practical and encouraging way to challenge couples that even though hard times can and will come, it is still possible to have a happy marriage. In the book, they address five commitments couples, whether married, dating or engaged, should make to fail proof your marriage. The five commitments are 1-Seek God, 2-Fight Fair, 3-Have Fun, 4-Stay Pure, and 5-Never Give Up. As you notice, these commitments are not rocket science and you have probably heard them mentioned before, but married couples would do well to actually commit to remember and practice them. If this were to happen within the church, I could almost guarantee that the church would be a happier and more welcoming place. Can you imagine a community coming together often who were practicing these five commitments? Wow. It would be amazing to see this happen. Imagine a church where married couples only spoke positively about their spouse to other people? Imagine a church where couples spoke of how they loved each other? Imagine if even the jesting and joking among married couples were to cease? Younger people would get a better idea of what marriage is supposed to be about. When we first star dating someone, we do not even think about joking on them like married couples do after marriage. And when we get engaged we do not suddenly begin to talk negatively about them, even to other people. But it seems after being married for so many years, it becomes natural for couples to begin talking and joking about each other to other people. Who is hurt in these jests? Those younger people hearing us talk about marriage in this manner. If this is what happens when someone gets married, then why should I get married? I would just rather date someone so we can stay in love. That is what we are simply telling younger people when we act this way.

In these five commitments, a foundation is laid for a strong marriage. But it takes commitment and choosing to live according to these commitments. This has to be a daily choice for both spouses to make towards each other and to remember constantly, even in the heat of the moment when a fight or argument seems imminent. Marriage takes work, but Craig and Amy in this book lay these five commitments as foundations for any marriage. Let me share with you a couple quotes from the book that stood out to me:

“Become the kind of person you would like to marry…I will seek the One while I prepare for my two” (p. 28).

“Imagine how hard it must be to divorce someone you’re genuinely seeking God with. What are the odds that God’s direction to you is going to be, ‘Yeah, you should just split up’? Not likely” (p. 42).

“All couple fight, but healthy couples fight fair” (p. 53).

“One of the best ways you and your spouse can become slow to anger is by communicating regularly and honestly when you’re not facing conflict…work on your marriage during non-conflict times” (p. 61).

“When you’re married, fun is not a luxury; it’s a requirement…Without romance, without adventure – without fun – marriage is reduced to a simple business arrangement” (p. 85).

“We decided that our marriage will be as good as we decide it will be” (p. 141).

That last quote I feel sums up the main theme going through this book: if you want to have a great marriage, decide to make it great. Most things of great substance in someone’s life do not happen as an accident, it happens as a result of making choices. So if you want to have a great marriage, decide to make it great. Do not wait to see if it happens because if you wait, it will pass you by and you will miss out on years of fun as a married couple.

From This Day Forward is a great book and one I will use in the future when counseling and talking with couples getting married as well as couples already married. I also recommend singles read it as well. This book will go right up there with another book I reviewed called True Love Dates. So if you are dating and expecting to get married, engaged, or already married, pick this book up and read through it with your spouse and practice what it teaches. Choose to have a great marriage.

In compliance with regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, I received a complimentary copy of by Zondervan in exchange for this review.


Weekly Scoop

scoop

 

It’s Friday which means it’s time for the Weekly Scoop. Here are a few links I came across throughout the week that I believe would be worth your time. You will find links that challenge you to think, encourage you, open your eyes to something new and even cause you to laugh. Here they are:

First, Donald Miller, on his Storyline Blog this past week posted a couple articles explaining why he does not regularly attend church. I share a link to them here because we as Christians need to be prepared to have conversations like these: I connect with God elsewhere and Why I don’t go to church often.

As you can imagine, the previous two posts caused quite a stir, but one of the best responses was written by Mike Cosper: Donald Miller and the Culture of Contemporary Worship.

Here is a post for married couples: Mark Driscoll posted a great blog over at Resurgence on 1 Thing We would have changed in our marriage.

Here is an interesting post on the topic of men and child support related to women and abortion: Child Support.

This past week, Bill Nye and Ken Ham held a debate in Kentucky that was live streamed on CNN. I did not watch it but I followed along with it somewhat on Twitter. I read this blog the next day: The Ham-Nye creation debate: a huge missed opportunity.

Michael Hyatt posts a podcast on how to become a better conversationalist. I love the stuff Michael puts out and if you do not follow him, I highly recommend you do: Becoming a better conversationalist.

One for pastors, here is another great post by Justin Lathrop: 5 ways to avoid stress as a pastor.

Lastly, if you have never seen a Hoops and Yoyo card, you are missing out. Here is one for this Friday: It’s I Don’t Care Friday.

 

Thanks for checking out the weekly scoop. If you like what you see feel free to subscribe by clicking the bottom right link that says +Follow. You can also follow me on Twitter using the link on your right. Lastly, share this with your Twitter followers as well. If there is a post or article you think I should include on my next weekly scoop, mention it in the comments below.


Weekly Scoop 10/11

It’s time for my weekly scoop. Since it is Friday, I am going to keep it short and to the point. Take a few minutes and check out the following links. I believe they will be worth your time.

First, this link would be good for any married couple to take a couple minutes to read and discuss. It will only serve to deepen your relationship: http://www.beforethecross.com/encouragements/5-questions-ask-spouse-every-week/.

Scotty Smith shares a prayer he wrote for those of you needing to renew your heart with the grace of God: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/scottysmith/2013/10/10/a-prayer-for-grace-strengthened-hearts-2/.

Struggling to understand how to love God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength? Check out this post at Desiring God’s blog: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/love-god-with-your-everything.

Tim Challies shares why he is a six-day creationist. Are you? Might be worth your time reading and reflecting on this topic as well: http://www.challies.com/articles/why-i-am-a-six-day-creationist#.UlgS8lCsim5

This is an interesting way to combat a recent Atheist attack on belief in God. Not sure if I believe this to be the best way to go about it but the article posts some interesting comments: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/10/09/creationists-battle-atheists-in-latest-billboard-war/.

If we do not proselytize, or evangelize, do we sincerely believe Jesus is the only way to God? Regardless, check out this post: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevinwax/2013/10/10/christians-shouldnt-proselytize/.

Finally, for some humor. Tim Hawkins is a funny man. I love his creativity and mind as well as his clean humor: http://www.uptv.com/blog/tim-hawkins-101-cuss-words-christians-can-say.

Well, thanks for taking the time to read this post. Check back again next week for the next weekly scoop. Comments are welcome. Feel free to share any links or stories you feel would be worth me including next week.


Weekly Scoop 10/4

The Government has temporarily shutdown. The very well known Catalyst Conference is happening in Atlanta right now; maybe that is why the government has shut down, they are all in Atlanta to learn how to be better leaders. One can hope. Major League Baseball playoffs are here. The NHL season has just begun and the NBA season is right around the corner. There are a number of things that have begun since my last weekly scoop. And here is the next edition of “Weekly Scoop” with more links that you should check out.

The first one is kind of sad. BBC reports that adolescence has been extended so as to keep young people from developing an inferiority complex. I am not joking. Read for yourself: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2430573/An-adult-18-Not-Adolescence-ends-25-prevent-young-people-getting-inferiority-complex.html.

Next, this is an article that is a little surprising. The pope has made some very vague statements recently. Here are some quotes published in the Washington Post’s On Faith site. Read some of the comments at the bottom if you feel so inclined. Our faith is under attack: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-faith/wp/2013/10/01/key-quotes-from-pope-francis-interview-with-atheist-journalist-stop-vatican-centric-thinking/.

The next two links are hard for me to post but since I became aware of them, I believe they are something the church needs to be able to respond to. I am not saying either of these writers is 100% correct in their response but I firmly believe the Bible is where we need to go for the answers.

First link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-faith/wp/2013/08/15/conservative-christianity-and-the-transgender-question/?wprss=rss_on-faith&clsrd

Second link: http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/2013/08/19/transgender-issues-more-complicated-than-some-christians-portray/

Are we here in America really remaining silent? I know of many churches who will often mention the fact that our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world are being killed for their faith. But, it still warrants mentioning here because here in America, we try to make it easy to be a disciple of Christ, whereas the early church preached it as it was: hard. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/09/27/a-global-slaughter-of-christians-but-america-s-churches-stay-silent.html

Lastly is a heart warming story of Ryan Leak and how he made it possible for him to propose to his wife AND get married on the SAME DAY! Not many men would want to go about the trouble of planning a wedding but that is what men should be willing to do, go above and beyond for their bride. Too often we make excuses such as “I’m not the romantic type” or “Men aren’t wired that way.” Men are wired to lead and to go above and beyond to show how much we love our wives because that is the example Christ gave us. Check out Ryan’s story and let it encourage you to go above and beyond in your relationship with your bride:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqgRaZIRHRI

 

Thanks again for checking out my weekly scoop. Feel free to comment and share any links to stories that might be worth sharing. Thanks for your time.


First-Time Dad by John Fuller

Whenever I read a book, I like to read something written by someone who understands and knows the topic they are writing about; and not just book knowledge, but an experiential knowledge. If I read a book on how to live by faith, I want to read a book written by someone who has gone through a hard time where their faith is what brought them through. If I read a book on marriage, I want to read something written by someone who has actually been married, not just studied it. I do not believe I am alone in this feeling either. I do not believe anyone would want to read a book on any topic written by someone who does not truly know and understand the field of which they are writing. In First-Time Dad, John Fuller knows what he is talking about and not just through reading books about parenting or doing research and watching families interact. He is writing from the perspective of having children of his own, 6 of them to be exact. For me, when I see a parenting book written by someone who has 6 kids, I know this author will have some good advice and tips to follow.

When I received this book, I was really looking forward to digging into it to see what kind of advice John Fuller would present. I have a 2 ½ year old daughter and she brings so much joy to our lives. I could not imagine life without her now. But, along with that, being a parent was quite the shock and change in lifestyle. John does a great job helping prepare fathers for this change. Much research has been done and shown that the position of father is one of the most important when it comes to how children grow up and mature. Children who grow up without the constant presence of a father have been shown to have a harder time in life than those who grow up with a father who is active and present in their lives. This affects both boys and girls. This fact was another reason I was eager to read this book because as a father myself, I want to learn from those who have been there and done that. I want to learn from their mistakes and glean from their successes in ways that will help guide me in my fathering. John Fuller in First-Time Dad does not disappoint.

John presents many different sides of being a father from the joy that comes from discovering your wife is pregnant to the responsibilities that come from now having to take care of and provide for one more person in the home. This little person is someone who will look up to you for a long time and who will be a part of your life forever. Your son or daughter needs a father who will invest in them and help guide them through their lives. They will need someone to be strong for them at times and other times someone who will cry with them. Every child longs for that relationship with their father and when it is absent from their lives, it will show itself in various ways. As you survey the culture, you see this on display almost anywhere you look. The power a father has in the life of his son or daughter should be constantly on a father’s mind. It is hard to do but to be the father that you can be, it is a necessity. I have struggled at times in only 2 ½ years but I am striving to make adjustments and improvements wherever I can.

First Time Dad is written in a way that is easy to follow and keeps you interested from page to page. John shares stories from his own experiences as well as stories from other parents he has had the opportunity to interact with throughout his time at Focus on the Family. He is not shy about helping fathers understand the changes that are to come in that he helps a new dad understand more about how a baby will affect their family. He writes on how to love your wife and guard
your marriage because that is the most important relationship your child will be exposed to. Time and again we see that when marriages involving children fall apart, the children involved in that relationship often fall apart as well. It is disheartening to see. Many marriages with children that fall apart do so because the marriage was not guarded and the mother and father drifted apart instead of drawing on each other even more. Two other important parts of this book is a chapter on the differences between boys and girls and one on the important part father’s play in the spiritual formation of a child’s heart. Fuller brings this book to a close with a chapter on just how fast life goes once you have a child. I can definitely relate with this part in that it seems like just yesterday, we were bringing our daughter home from the hospital and now she is full of life and singing and dancing and running around endlessly on a seemingly non-stop sugar rush.

I would highly recommend First-Time Dad for any first time dad who might want to go into fatherhood with their eyes opened. I would also recommend this book for any father who already has a child or two but notices some areas that could use some improvement. This book is one that I will go back to many times as a father. So for all you dads out there, let’s remember the importance of the position we hold in our homes and families and be the dads we need to be. One step that might help you could be picking up this book.

Thanks for taking the time to read this review. If any of you dads who read this have any stories of successes or failures you would want to share, please feel free to do so.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Moody Press in exchange for this review.


Husbands, love your wives…

This morning, I was given a pretty big glimpse of just how selfish I can be. I had heard it said that marriage is able to help people see just how selfish and prideful they can be. This is definitely true of me. I went into my marriage thinking that I would never be that way. That I would be able to love my wife like I loved myself and not even struggle with that. How wrong I was. Just ask my wife. Time and time again I have failed to love my wife with my actions. The saying “actions speak louder than words” definitely applies to my actions towards my wife. No matter how many times I would tell her I love her, my actions would be showing her that I am still first.

This morning my wife asked me to help her with some things and instead of just agreeing to help, I started discussing reasons why we did not need to do everything that she had even mentioned. What was I doing? Putting my own desires first and not thinking about her. Ephesians 5:25 was not practiced here on my part at all. “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” Simply put, I failed. I have done this many times before and because I am so hard headed, I still have not quite learned how to put others before myself. I am so grateful to have a wife whose spiritual gift is mercy or I would be in for trouble. Whenever I hear guys talk about marriage in a negative way or talk about how demanding their wife is or anything like that, it always seems to burn me up on the inside and maybe one of the biggest reasons I have kept quiet instead of saying something around guys like that is because maybe I haven’t begun practicing loving my wife as Christ loved the church. I do not lay my life and desires down in place of hers. What does that show with my actions? Too often I allow myself to feel like I am some great gift from God to my wife instead of realizing that I am nothing. I do not deserve anyone like Marcie. I allow myself to act like I am more important. This has quite a few disastrous results. First, it does not free her up to be who God wants her to be. Second, it keeps me from being the servant leader that I should be. Third, instead of drawing us closer, it pushes us apart which is never good for a relationship that is used in the Bible more than anything else to describe how God relates to us. So not only do I not honor my wife when I do this, I do not honor God.

How much did Christ love the church? He “gave Himself up for her.” He put her before Himself. Have I done that with my wife? Sometimes I do and let me say that it brings me the greatest joy. Just as Christ gave Himself up for the church and received the greatest joy out of it. I have the perfect example to follow and yet I struggle so often. Many times I have put reading a book, watching TV or even playing a video game before loving my wife. Is that what my wife signed up for? Is that what I told her in our vows when we stood in front of God as well as family and friends? No. I told her I would love her sacrificially. Have I done that? Sometimes. But what about other times? Definitely not. I know marriage is tough because two people with sinful natures come together. But as the man in this relationship, I need to take the lead. If I were to put myself in her place, what would I think? Another thing I fail to do enough is put myself in her shoes. I sometimes feel like I might have more pressure on myself than she does, but that is not so. She is feeling pressure in ways I do not even understand. I do not try to look through her eyes enough.

So, why am I writing this you may wonder? Well, I enjoy writing and putting my thoughts out there for others to see but more importantly I am writing this as a public apology to my wife. I am sorry baby for not loving you like Christ loved the church. I have not been the greatest at that and I know I have quite a bit to learn but please keep praying for me, that God will have His perfect work done in me and that I will remain sensitive to His Spirit.

I am also hoping that through it will come some accountability in that I have friends who will read this and this is a public announcement to tell you that you can ask me how I am doing in this area. So, if you have read this far, I pray that you might even feel challenged to look at your own life and relationship with God and see how you are doing in that area.

But once again, Marcie, thank you for being the person you are. I know I have failed many times to be the man that you married and I am sorry. I want to be better at that and I desire to the man of God in your life that you have seen glimpses of. Thank you for not being the type to give up on me. You are so much more than I deserve and I love you.