Everyday Wisdom

 

John Wayne famously said “Life is hard. It’s harder if you’re stupid.” I have certainly done my share of stupid things, and I suspect you have too. life-is-hard-its-harder-if-youre-stupid-john-wayne-5066631In our defense, none of us is born smart, but the truth is, we are all responsible to learn the things we need to know to succeed in life. The passing of years is all it takes for us to grow up physically. But we need to proactively apply ourselves in order to mature emotionally, relationally and spiritually. Charley “Tremendous” Jones said, “You will be the same person in five years as you are today, except for the people you meet and the books you read.” Books 2So, let me introduce you to someone you really need to meet, and the book he wrote; The person is King Solomon; the book is Proverbs.  The smartest man in the world gave this advice: Get some wisdom. Prov 4:5. King SolomonHe wasn’t just trying to sell his book. He was trying to teach his children to learn from his mistakes, instead of experiencing the heartache of learning painful lessons, firsthand.

 

Proverbs is chock full of nuggets of timeless wisdom on four major issues of life: Marriage, Work & Money, Raising children, and Choosing our words. Here are few samples.

Marriage

He tells us to treasure our spouse and be faithful to them. Not to get drawn away by the lies or the counterfeits of the enemy.

  • Prov 18:22           He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord.
  • Prov  5:18-19      Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your   youth.  As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all               times; and always be enraptured with her love.
  • Prov 31:10-31     Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain…

Buck loves Doe

Work & Money

  • Prov 23:4              Do not overwork to be rich.
  • Prov 12:11           He who tills his land will be satisfied with bread, but he who follows  frivolity is devoid of  understanding.
  • Prov 16:26           The person who labors, labors for himself, for his hungry mouth drives him on.

Raising Children

  • Prov 22:6              Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.
  • Prov 29:17           Correct your son, and he will give you rest; Yes, he will give delight to your soul.

Choosing our Words

  • Prov 15:28          The heart of the righteous studies how to answer
  • Prov 15:1             A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
  • Prov 29:11           A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.
  • Prov 13:3              He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.

Gold NuggetsHere’s a cool thing. There are 31 chapters of Proverbs and 31 days in most months. Perfectly laid out to read one chapter a day; bite size pieces of everyday wisdom. I read through Proverbs at least twice a year, and I’m always learning something new. You can never exhaust the wisdom of God.

Solomon said

 Happy is the man who finds wisdom, And the man who gains understanding, for her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, and her gain than fine gold.
Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. Prov 3:13,14,17

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Prov 9:10-11

The fear of the Lord leads to life, and he who has it will abide in satisfaction. Prov 19:23

Ah yes, satisfaction. I like that word. I want “Satisfaction” to be the word I always use to describe my marriage, and I’m sure you do too. Let’s get some wisdom.

 

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Flirting with Infidelity

thelmaNobody in their right mind would plan to drive a car off a cliff. But most of us know people, who have crashed through the guardrails, and whose marriages have been dashed on the rocks below, by infidelity. Crash on the RocksSadly, this magnitude of betrayal often results in divorce. There, I said it. The word we swear is “not an option” and “not in our vocabulary”: Divorce. We think that by denying its existence, it will never happen to us. Who would have thought that a playful comment by a co-worker or an acquaintance could bloom into full scale adultery? Boss flirting Secretary.jpgHow could an occasional look at pornography possibly damage our marriage? How could a dinner meeting with a client of the opposite sex possibly hurt anyone? It happens more often than we’d like to admit.  “It will never happen to me”, we say. Because we think we are the exception. The bible says, “If any man thinks he stands, take heed, lest he fall”.

King Solomon posed a very direct question in Proverbs 6. “Can a man take fire into his lap and not be burned?” Fire LaptopObviously, the answer is NO. But to someone who is blinded by sin and enflamed by lust, the answers are not so clear. When we flirt with sin, we delude ourselves into believing we can control it, and that we can stop any time. What we don’t admit is that the point-of-no-return is long before we take fire into our lap, not afterwards. Back-To-The-Future-3-Point-Of-No-ReturnThen we act so surprised when our sin blindsides us. Flirting seems so innocent. A child playing with matches does not intend to burn down the house, but destroys it nonetheless. Solomon laments of the man who gives himself to the immoral woman: all who were slain by her were “strong” men.

Marriage is the most important relationship we have with another human being, and it must be protected. When we are tempted to stray, the bible tells us to take every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. Rather than ignore the dangers to our marriages, we must protect against them and to make no provision for the flesh. How do we do that? By continually investing and reinvesting ourselves into our spouse. The bible says that we reap what we sow. Think Garden of Eden.Planting Seeds

Plant good seeds – What do you want your marriage to be? Be intentional in what you are planting. If we want to reap love, joy, peace, and patience, then those are the seeds we need to sow. If selfishness, vanity, and greed are what we plant, that’s the crop we will reap.

Water them in good – Healthy crops need to be watered regularly. And healthy husbands and wives need to be immersed in the water of the word. The bible teaches us how. Grow and learn together. Keep it fresh. Keep it clean. And keep it coming.

Pulling weedsPull weeds – The devil wants to destroy our marriage by deception. He doesn’t show up in red leotards and pitchfork. He whispers “little lies” that appear as harmless as a weed sprout. “Your husband loves his work more than you.” or “Your wife isn’t as sexual as other women”. Devil with PitchforkBe ruthless pulling out weeds as soon as they sprout. If we don’t, they’ll put down a tap root and require major excavation to extract.

Tend and protect from pests – Pay attention. Healthy gardens don’t grow without tending and neither do healthy marriages. If something is eating at you, don’t ignore it, talk about it with your spouse. If he or she does something that bugs you, learn to address it in a way that attacks the problem, not your spouse.

Holding HandsAdd Miracle-Gro – Walk with the Lord together. Encourage one another to enjoy some quiet time with the Lord and your bible. Pray together. Remind one another that the Lord is in control and put your trust in Him together for the needs of your family. Be active in your local church, growing and serving others. The Lord will bless your marriage and make you thrive!

Enjoy the fruit!Good Fruit

Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth. As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you always;
and always be enraptured with her love. Prov 5:18-19

Bedrock

 

The Flintstones 2Bedrock is more than the mythical home of Fred and Wilma Flintstone. It is a safe place, a secure place, a solid place to build your home.

 

white-picket-fence1Every engaged couple has dreams of making a home together. Granted, the dreams vary widely from couple to couple. Some dream of suburbia with a white picket fence.

Some prefer an apartment in downtown Manhattan. And others would be happy to live in a tent, as long as they can be together.

Some couples skip marriage all together and just “shack up”.Homeless Camp They say, “We don’t need a piece of paper.” They establish their relationships on the philosophy of the day. But those kinds of arrangements lack foundation, which is crucial to secure and lasting relationships. Leaning Tower of PisaSome couples marry because they want to “do the right thing”. Some are just lazy or willful, and rush into marriage without taking the time to get to know the person they are marrying. Tent SuspendedThese impulsive relationships have no foundation at all, and often lead to disappointment and struggle.

raz de marée sur la ville

The old song says “Into each life, some rain must fall. But most of us don’t expect a tsunami. We  assume that those only happen to other people. Any relationship can survive a thunderstorm or two, but crumble in the wake of a hurricane or an earthquake. The fact is, life happens.  And when it does, we discover what our relationships are made of. We find out what is real and what is merely a facade.APTOPIX New Zealand Earthquake

Warren Buffett says: You find out who was skinny dipping when the tide goes out.

 

Earthquake Proofing your HouseJesus wants us to have solid, sturdy, strong marriages. He doesn’t want us to live one disaster away from ruin. He wants our marriages to withstand the storms of life, not just for our own sakes, but for the sake of our families, our community and our world. He teaches us how to be wise and to build a life together on a solid foundation. On Him. He said the wise man built his house, and dug deep and laid the foundation on the Rock. Bedrock

Statistically, couples who receive good pre-marriage counseling, who share the same faith, who have the same values are more likely to have happy marriages. Unless we take the time and devote the energy to “digging deep” into our relationship, how can we really know who our prospective mate is? See Seven Thing to Look for When Choosing a Husband,  Is She Hot? and Before You Get Married

PlumblineIt is always better to begin with a solid foundation. But what if we’re already married?  Many couples who began their marriage on shaky ground are coming to Jesus daily. They give their lives and their marriage to Jesus, and begin the journey of a “divine retrofit”.  I have to warn you, Jesus is a Master Builder and doesn’t take shortcuts. He won’t do little add-ons. He insists on doing a complete renovation. Couples who make Jesus the cornerstone of their marriage, experience a new sense of security and stability that they’d never dreamed possible. Because He is eternal and His truth is like bedrock. Jesus is the only foundation worthy to build our marriage on.

And the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the Rock.The Flintstones

Pay Up, Show Up, and Shut Up

 

Father of the BrideWe’ve all seen the movie, Father of the Bride. Both Spencer Tracy and Steve Martin, decades apart, portrayed the hapless father of the bride, whose primary function in putting on his daughter’s wedding, is to take out a second mortgage on the house, open his wallet, and close his mouth. Spencer TraceyThere is only one more powerless position on the earth today, and that is parents of the groom. After all, the bride has been planning her wedding day all her life. The groom is essentially a last minute, fill- in-the-blank; the last puzzle piece, whose face and name have only recently been added.

Deer in the Headlights ASo there we were, about thirty minutes before the wedding ceremony, and the father of the groom greeted me with the usual deer in the headlights look in his eyes. He was doing an admirable job of holding it all together. Just an observation, it’s hard to look cool as a cucumber while wearing a suit and tie in hundred degree weather. He turned to me and asked me if I ever get nervous doing weddings. This being about my 100th wedding to officiate, I answered him “I was nervous officiating my own children’s weddings.” Other than those, the only wedding I was nervous officiating was my very first wedding. Then I was almost as nervous as the groom.

As I watched the parents of the bride and groom, I wondered what medieval torture master dreamed up all the traditions, etiquette and responsibilities foisted on parents to put on weddings for their adult children. One insightful father boiled it down to these three, and it wasn’t Faith, Hope and Love. It’s Pay Up. Show Up, and Shut Up.

Empty Wallet DadPay Up – By the time you pay for the dress, the reception, the church and a million other accoutrements, you’d think you’d done your part. But No! It’s not enough to spend, on one day, enough to purchase a small country, or a home in the suburbs for cash.

You still have to Show Up. Yes, dressed in your finery, you’ve got to be the gracious host, exchange pleasantries, tell a few jokes, shake everyone’s hand, and give a speech worthy of an academy award. And oh yes, dance like Fred Astaire.Fred Astaire and Bride Little do they know that behind the smile, you’d give another million dollars to be on some sandy beach a thousand miles away in shorts and flip flops, sipping something cold, with an umbrella sticking out of it… but not today. You’ve got relatives and friends to visit with today and shuttle to the airport tomorrow. About this time you lament the fact that you don’t have omnipresence as your superpower.

The final instruction to the parents of the groom is to Shut Up. This is not your party; although you wouldn’t know it by your bank account.   Weddings are all about the bride. I mentioned this at a recent wedding and the mother of the bride laughingly corrected me and insisted it was all about her. I laughed and agreed with her and thought, this is truer than we’d all like to admit.Wedding Party At the same time the bride and groom just soak it in, celebrating with their friends, eating drinking and living the good life, leaving it to you to clean up and take care of the relatives and all the loose ends.

So what sage advice can I give the parents of the bride and groom? Precious little, except to quote a Keith Green song: “Just do your best, and pray that it’s blessed, and Jesus takes care of the rest.” Ah yes, rest. Here’s some good advice. Plan to have at least a week off after the wedding to recuperate, get everyone where they need to go and then have several days just for you and your spouse to rest.

After all those months of preparation, stress and worry about measuring up, you did it! And yes, you did measure up, contrary to those voices in your head. Your speech was superb. Your dress looked lovely, and everyone is in awe of how well you pulled it off. Now all that is left to do is work on your new superpower: Satisfaction.Couple on Beach

Like Cats and Dogs

 

Why is he your dog when he is lying by the fireplace on his dog bed and my dog when he is tracking mud across the carpet? DSCN0862Your dog is well-behaved while my dog needs to be scolded for digging in the garden. May I remind you that we only have one dog?

shaggy simonWe love our pets. But pets add another dynamic to every household. They bring companionship and love. They also bring challenges, a few expenses, and all the considerations of having another “person” in the house. After all, pets become part of the family.

Meet Simon. He likes to play with tennis balls; he makes a mess when he drinks his water, and he has a love/hate relationship with the mail man. Meet Loami. She is our cat, but she is not our cat. It’s complicated. It is more like we are her people. (Read Loami’s story.) She eats our cat food, sleeps in our Cat Flat, and goes to the vet at our expense.IMG_0239 In exchange for our hospitality, she graces us with her presence, leaves hairballs on the patio and presents us with a dead rat every once in a while.

Simon and Loami fight like cats and dogs. Now don’t get me wrong, they love each other; they just have different ways of showing love. Simon can‘t figure out why Loami doesn’t want to romp and wrestle. It couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that he outweighs her by 70 lbs. Loami just wants to lay in the sunshine and cuddle. But every time Simon tries to lay down next to her, his giant feet inevitably find her tail and off she runs, leaving him perplexed, as if to say “Hey, I thought we were going to cuddle?”.

100_0530I can’t help but notice the similarities to the way husbands and wives relate to each other. I often try to solve relational problems the only way I know how, powering my way through. But my big dopey paws end up making matters worse rather than better.

The animal Kingdom is ruled by dominance. Whichever species can dominate the other ascends to the top of the food chain. Food Chain 2But human relationships are supposed to be different. We humans are not limited to a survival of the fittest existence. Our Creator has given us the ability to reason, and to choose between right and wrong, good and evil; to defer immediate gratification for a better future. We can reason that to have a healthy and happy future, we must control our conduct in the present. Humans are not supposed to rule by dominance, but persuade by influence. When we use this approach, we discover not only a more willing spouse, but that we are happily pursuing the same goal together.

The apostle Peter said: Husbands, dwell with your wives with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, 1 Peter 3:7

Tool BeltSimon doesn’t get it. He uses every tool in his tool belt to try and fix his relationship with Loami, but he often ends up frustrated. Dog and Cat LoveWe husbands may never fully understand all the intricacies of our wives, but we can grow to understand the best ways to approach her.  When we treat our wives in ways than honor her, we produce results that are a blessing to both of us.

Now can we cuddle?

 

 

 

49 Lessons from Football

Whether you rooted for the Rams or the Patriots, these lessons will guarantee a win!

Marriage Feast

Catching a PassIf you know a little bit about football, you can learn a few lessons about having a winning season in your marriage. Here are a few things I’ve learned:
1. Make a plan and practice, practice, practice.
2. Pray before you set foot on the field.
3. The clock is ticking and time is limited. Use it wisely.
4. The opposition is over there. You don’t tackle your own team mate.
5. Huddle. Put your arms around each other. Use mouthwash.
6. Everybody fumbles once in a while.
7. God is your head coach. He calls the plays. Trust him.
8. Don’t be offensive.
9. Don’t get defensive.
10. Always use your mouth guard. It is mandatory.
11. Unnecessary roughness will get you a penalty.
12. Keep your end in view.
13. Kiss the arm…the shoulder…the neck… the lips.Divisional Playoffs - Green Bay Packers v San Franciso 49ers
14. Let the Holy Spirit referee.
15. Use your right guard.

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Eat an Apple Every Day

The alarm goes off at 4:45 A.M. but we’re usually not ready to leap out of bed. Then after a snooze or two manage to get to our feet. I click on the coffee pot, and we stumble around…brushing teeth…“How did you sleep?”… giving the fish a pinch of breakfast…

bibleThen, coffee in hand, John and I have about an hour and a half of what we call QT – quiet time. In separate rooms we each center ourselves and plan our day. We read our bibles and other edifying things. We pray and think (and sometimes snooze).

It has always been our morning routine, and it has always been precious time. At 6:30 we sit down to breakfast together and talk about the coming day.

But for the last few months John’s QT has been sidetracked by the force of “Physical Therapy”. He still spends some time in his chair and in his bible, but a solid hour of his precious QT has been gobbled up by an exercise regimen. Groan.  Razzle frazzle….

About five months ago John hurt his back, and we were sure he was headed for back surgery again. We spent our 31st anniversary sitting in our grandpa and grandma chairs, wondering if this was how we would spend our so-called golden years.old

When we got married we vowed “…for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part…” So the rocking chairs would not be a bad option.

We both like to read, and we like to talk, and I guess we could learn to like to rock.

We would be content to be together, but we don’t want to see each other hurting, and neither of us would choose to burden the other with the life of a caretaker.gregory-gopman-stretch

The doctor said surgery was certainly an option, but he suggested that John first try physical therapy. To be honest, I was a little irritated. I wanted a more immediate fix.

So cane in hand, John limped off to talk to the physical therapist. The exercises seemed like nothing. Nothing! A waste of time. John admitted that he really didn’t feel like anything was happening when he did them. There was no pain (from the exercises) so how could there be any gain? How could a few little squats and stretches mend a broken back?

I worried. I did not want my husband to be hurting, and I did not want to be the wife of a disabled man.

Every day, to some extent, John lamented the loss of those lost morning minutes he used to spend in his chair, in his bible. But then we began to notice that the insignificant  little stretches and crunches were doing their job. Muscle tone and strength began to return.

John is almost “back on his game” now. He is again able to play tennis every Friday afternoon with his longtime tennis buddies. He is walking without a limp and without a cane.

stelprdb5402290He is still a way from where he was 6 months ago, but we are both hopeful that we might still climb Mount Whitney again, instead of being relegated to our rocking chairs.

I am so thankful that my husband opted for something higher. Even though the exercise didn’t seem to be doing anything, he was faithful. He kept his eyes on what was unseen but promised.

Faithfulness, even when there were no immediate visible results.

This all has reminded me to take care of myself for John’s sake as well as my own. We are one. It goes for both of us and as John said in a previous blog post, “The secret to success is encouraging one another as we face these changes together.”

fujiAlmost every morning now, as we sit down to breakfast one or the other of us starts a little duet: “Button up your overcoat when the wind is free. Take good care of yourself, you belong to me! Eat an apple every day. Get to bed by three. Take good care of yourself, you belong to me!