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Parenting
  • This is Really About That

    I stood in absolute wonder and confusion as my oldest son alerted me to smoke that was rising from the ground underneath the playground in our backyard. This wasn't fog, steam or even a leaf burning in the sun as I first thought. It was like there was a literal fire burning beneath the dirt. I snapped video and photos and sent it to people who might be able to solve this natural phenomenon. Could actual fire really be burning underneath the dirt and not go out? I touched ground where the smoke was coming up and I could feel the heat as I got closer. It felt like fire. I quickly grabbed a stick to dig with to see if I could dig up this apparent underground fire. Imagery of our local news network coming to do a story on this one of a kind wonder flashed across whatever cortex in my brain controls imagination. I dug a little deeper and the smoke got thicker and the heat hotter. What was I about to uncover?

    Well, turns out, underneath the smoke wasn't a fire after all. When we installed the playground, we nicked an electrical wire that was touching the wooden leg of the playground beneath the earth. This also solved the previous mystery as to why our garage power kept shorting out and flipping the breaker. Previous eletrcial estimates to fix the problem were between $700-$1200. All these mysteries were finally solved. The garage power and the haunting rising smoke all could be explained. THIS IS REALLY ABOUT THAT. 

    So many times in life we find ourselves frustrated as we search for solutions to our problems. Most of the time, its not what we think of first and maybe even what we fixate on. This is usually about that. Dad not being at your ball games isn't about him not loving you, or how busy he is at work, or even his drinking problem. It might be that since his mom passed away, he has never recovered to be able to love others. Its not that he doesn't love you, its that he hasn't felt worthy to love or be loved. Contextualize this example to your life and maybe the short in power is your lack of self discipline or the communication problems in your marriage but here's the point...

    It's time to do some digging. 

    This is really about that. 

    I can almost guarantee you that the more you dig, the hotter it will get. 

    The solution won't be what you thought it was because the problem wasn't what you thought it was. 

  • 5 Tricks to Help you Get Free from Your Addiction to Your Phone

    One of the most telling TV scenes about our phone addicted generation came in an episode of The Office a few years back. Ryan (BJ Novak) is participating in an office trip to trivia night and is told by the host he’s not allowed to check his phone during trivia. After he refuses to put it down the host confiscates his phone for the remainder of trivia night. Ryan lasts about 5 seconds, stands up and says, “I’d rather be with my phone” and then briskly walks outside. Serious separation anxiety happens when generation X, Y and Z'ers are not able to check their phone every 1-2 minutes. The statistics are absolutely shocking how often we check our phones and how attached we are to them. In many cases, our phone never leaves our side 24/7, 365. The reasons we need to break free of this addicted should go without saying but let me set you up with them in case they aren’t so obvious. 
    5 Reasons to Break Free of Your Phone
    1. Your relationships are probably suffering | Your friends can’t remember the last time you gave them eye contact. Your spouse feels ignored. Your kids are following your example and might feel ignored too. A 15 year old’s birthday party in 2016 might be one of the more depressing things you will witness in your life. Eight 15 year old’s in the same room staring at their phone. smh.
    2. Your eyes are probably suffering | "Because they emit HEV light (also called blue light), staring at phone and tablet screens may actually harm our eyes permanently. HEV light is that portion of the visible light spectrum that comprises light with the shortest wavelengths, which carry the greatest potential to damage living tissue.” "We’re spending almost as much time staring at screens as we do sleeping.” - Simon Hill (Digitaltrends.com contributor)
    3. Your hands are probably suffering | Yeah, you feel this too? Actually, as I type right now, the pad underneath my thumb feels a little sore. Most of us text and type all day long and it is wearing our muscles and tendons down. Rheumatologists don’t have an official diagnosis for this condition yet but my guess is that it won’t be too long down the road and there will be an official name. However, among tech-savvy users that have experienced this for years it is referred to as “Text Claw.” 
    4. Your job performance is probably suffering | Some studies have attempted to prove that a short mental break of 5-10 minutes each hour can greatly increase work productivity. The truth is that many people experience full on prudctivity derailment not just quick break. 
    5. Your mind is probably suffering | Studies show that our brains struggle to shut off quickly from our frequent evening use, which in turn impacts our ability for our brain to rest. Think of a really old computer with all of the memory and storage taken up. That computer takes forever to shut down and boot up. This is similar to what our brains are going through. "Through mobile phones, the internet, electronic mail, television, radio, newspapers, books, etc. people receive every day about 105,000 words or 23 words per second in half a day (12 hours) (during awake hours). Although people can not really read these 105,000 words each day, this is the real number estimated to be reaching the human eyes and ears every day. After adding pictures, videos, games, etc., we reach the volume of 34 gigabytes of information per day on average. The total consumption of information from television, computers and other information was estimated (for the U.S.) to be 3.6 million gigabytes.” (University of California- San Diego)
    5 Tricks to Help You Get Free from Your Phone
    1. Sabbath | This is what snapped, and continues to, snap me back into shape every time I begin to overuse my device. Sabbath. Sabbath is intentionally setting something aside for a set time and for an set purpose. Are you an addict? Want to get free? Have a one month sabbatical from your phone except for calling and business related matters. What hours each day, day each week, month each year are you intentionally keeping your phone off limits?
    2. Turn off notifications PERMANENTLY | Yes, you read that right. Permanently, as in, forever. I originally went to my settings so that it wouldn’t spoil my favorite sports games for me when I was recording the game. Then, I made it there and thought, "I don’t really need to know that Sally liked my photo 6 seconds ago. That’s not really a time sensitive matter and it totally kills my work and home vibes by constantly popping up." The same is probably true for your life too. 
    3. Charge your phone at another outlet | Have trouble staring at your phone and playing that game until you fall asleep and want to get free? Move that charger to another outlet across the room. This also might help you get up in the morning to turn your alarm off. 
    4. Turn your ringer on and store in another room | This one is new for me but I am doing it more and more. I normally have my ringer off because ringers and sound notifications annoy me. They break my stride and demand my attention when they are rarely deserving of my immediate attention. Placing my phone in another room and turning my ringer on will allow me to answer important phone calls that might come in but still keep my eyes, ears and hands available to enjoy and serve my family when I’m home. The texting, commenting and reading about all the interweb non-sense can wait. I’ve used this technique in the car as well. I just place my phone inside my console where I cannot see it or touch it. 
    5. Leave it in the car | This one is particularly on point for dates, nights out with friends and family meals. "Be present” has become a buzzword and its a darn good one. Leave the phone in the car. Most of the time, whoever you want to talk to at that time is sitting at the table with you. Enjoy being with them and don’t brainlessly escape to someone else’s life and table. Be present and enjoy the ones right in front of you. 

    Hope this helps. Would love to hear your thoughts and comments.

  • 6 Tips for Developing Great Communication in Your Relationship

    6 TIPS FOR DEVELOPING GREAT COMMUNICAITON IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP

    If trust is the foundation of a great relationship then communication is the plumbing. When communication starts to get backed up, things can get messy and our relationship starts to stink. Here are six tips to developing great communication in your relationship. 

    Learn the Language

    It has been said that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Whatever planet you’re from and whatever language you speak, we don’t all come from the same place or communicate in the same way. Taking the time to actually learn how your partner/spouse communicates is essential in building great communication in your relationship. I have no reason to be angry when I’m in Mexico and the people there don’t understand my English. We get so frustrated when our significant other doesn’t understand what we are feeling, thinking or saying and we often blame them but what if we are just speaking the wrong language? Meeting each other half way is the best approach when it comes to learning the language. You actually develop a third, unique and intimate language of your own. 

    Develop Great Timing

    Having the deep, difficult conversation that has been building up over the last 6 months right when he/she walks in the door from a stressful day at work is not the right recipe for a positive outcome. The great quarterback/wide receiver combos on our favorite football teams are able to keep the ball moving down the field and eventually score by developing great timing and chemistry. We can sense and know each others mood throughout the week and find the perfect timing for both our normal and deeper life conversations. 

    It’s How You Say It

    I usually place timing and tone together in one bucket. They are both two sides of the same coin, meeting your partner/spouse right where they are at. Not where I wish they were or how I wish they would react but where they are; insecurities, anxieties, flaws and all. Chances are, there are at least several times that what you said wasn’t all that bad but how you said it changed the course of the entire night, week or month even. Consider tone as an important piece of the puzzle in building great communication in your relationship. 

    Lean In

    Sometimes the conversation keeps getting put off. The pain, frustration and loneliness keeps getting swept under the rug until our problems have mounted up to much more than communication issues. I wonder how many marriages could have been saved from mental breakdowns, infidelity and many more issues if someone would have stopped when they sensed pain and just leaned in to ask what’s going on. Lean in lovingly when your partner is shutting down or showing signs of pain and allow them to progress towards opening up at their pace. 

    Schedule Fun

    What does fun have to do with communication?! Uh, everything. When we are having fun together, I’m less likely to take offense, to question motives or to be selfish. All these get in the way of great communication and keeping your relationship fun is a vital part of the last tip, trust their heart. 

    Trust their Heart

    The truth is that none of us are perfect communicators. Some of the world’s foremost communicators have marriage issues because they can communicate with excellence to the masses but not with their own spouse. When we, or our partner/spouse, are failing to communicate well (time, language or tone) we must rely on the trust we have built with one another over time. When I struggle to communicate what I’m feeling or going through I need my wife to trust my heart. Trust that I mean well. Trust that I’m trying. Trust that I only want the best for her. Remember, communication is the plumbing but trust is the foundation. 

  • Leading Your Children Well

    One of the things I hear parents say more than anything else is "time just flies by." I hear parents of one year olds say it. I hear parents of young adults say it. Its one of these things that when you are young you don’t really understand but the older you get the more you realize how brief our time on earth really is. Lately I’ve been regularly fielding questions from parents about how to lead their children towards Christ in a healthy way. There are so many things I would want to cover if we were in a conference or symposium forum but today I will simply offer some practical advice for leading your children. 
    Let me first briefly begin with a Biblical foundation.
    God instituted family in Genesis. One of His first commands to Adam and Eve is to be fruitful and multiply. God wanted them to be intimate in their marriage and for them to become parents. Intimacy births multiplication. There is another message in that we will save for another day. Deuteronomy 6 is a beautiful picture of God’s plan for parenting. In a nutshell, your daily life should be filled with you talking and teaching your kids about the truth of God and how He saved you. Yes, you should constantly be telling your testimony to your kids! Isn’t that powerful? I could go on and on but let me give you a handful of practical things to lead your children well. 
    1. Lead Yourself: The most effective way to lead our children is by example. If you can’t control your temper, why should you expect them to? 2 Cor. 3.3 tells us that the Spirit of living God has written His law and truth on our hearts. You are the tablet they are reading and learning from, so lead well. 
    2. Lead by Principle and Grace: Jesus is the perfect example. It was never about, is this a moment to come down on principle or on grace? Jesus acted fully on both. Sometimes the greatest grace we have in our lives are holy rules/laws. The toughest situations are answered with both principle and grace. Be led of the Spirit in your teaching and discipline. 
    3. Lead Humbly and Honestly: Say you’re sorry when you’re wrong. Be willing to share the honest truth even when its hard. This will teach them repentance and dealing with issues head on. 
    4. Lead by Listening: As a child gets to pre-teen and teenage years the most common complaint from a child is that “My parents never listen to me.” More than they want the next toy, they want you to listen to them. Start this habit for them and you early on and make it a priority on your schedule to spend alone time with them just to talk and more importantly, listen. 
    5. Lead with Quantity and Quality: The average father spends 7 minutes per day talking to his children. Dad, you may not have lots of time every day but everything else seems to find itself on your schedule except your kids. The quantity is higher for moms but can be very guilty of having quantity without quality. Turn the phone off. The laundry can wait. The emails can wait. Turn off your notifications because time is flying by.
    We only get one shot at it and time is flying by. Let’s make the most of every moment.