Not Giving But Gaining
Yesterday I was blessed with the privilege of giving my daughter away in marriage. I don’t really like that phrase though. It sounds so “end of the story.” It’s more like gaining a new son. Actually, it’s the beginning of a whole new story and Jenni and I not only got to be part of the story and help launch it but now we get front row seats to watch the rest of it unfold and we now have a new son to enjoy and share life with.
It was also awesome to see a group of young people, in Marissa, Casey and their friends, that have Christ at the center of their lives. I am confident that Marissa and Casey are well grounded in Him which made this weekend much easier for me but as always I do have a few words to pass on to them and all others that are getting married or already married.
Love God and love each other. Keep Christ at the center always. With His example of unconditional love as your focus you can reflect that on each other. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NIV)
Treat love as a verb. We often treat love as an emotion instead of an action. Christ showed us His love with actions and we need to follow that example. Not for reciprocation or for “love points” but because, as spouses, it’s what we have committed to by joining together in a covenant marriage. and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:2 NIV)
Always have Christ centered friends you can turn to. Also, give them permission to call you out when they need to and ask them to lift you up when you need it. Marriage is tough at times and you need friends that understand what your marriage means to you, even when you don’t want may not want to hear it. Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. (Proverbs 13:20 NIV)
Laugh! At yourself, at each other, at life. Don’t forget to laugh because nothing should be as serious as we make it out to be. a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, (Ecclesiastes 3:4 NIV)
Cry. When you need to, lean into Christ and lean into each other and cry. You will find comfort in the arms of Him and your spouse. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. (Luke 6:21 NIV)
Forgive often. Look at what Jesus has forgiven us for… everything! We need to follow that example with our spouses and forgive quick and often. Don’t confuse this with trust. Trust may be broken and it may take time to rebuild, but forgiveness should happen immediately. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34 NIV)
Communicate!! All of things listed above require communication. I have sat with couples that thought they were at the end but once we reestablished some communication and they started verbalizing some of their issues things started working better. Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. (James 1:19, 20 NIV)
I can say from experience, I did not follow this path for the first 17 years of my marriage and I nearly destroyed it. If I had not gotten in line with the above things and what God designed marriage to be I may not have had the blessing I had yesterday. My daughter may not have been where she is now either. I’m not saying it’s easy or that I’m on it all the time but It’s a lot easier than the previous way (my way).
I thank God for His direction and instruction for my marriage. I thank Him for my wife and daughter for their patience with me and now I thank Him for my new son.
A hero is defined as:
1. a person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for their brave deeds and noble qualities.
2. a person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal.
I’d like you to meet one of my heroes. Her name is Marissa, she is my 20 year old daughter. Last weekend she graduated from Anderson University. She acquired a four year degree in three years. She accomplished this by taking college courses during high school and working very hard to finish early.
She’s my hero because when I was in high school I didn’t tend to focus any further ahead than the next party. I certainly had no ambition or drive to go to college let alone finish early. While I tested as gifted, just like she did, I chose to make poor decisions and just eke by. She graduated high school with a 3.87 gpa and graduated college with honors, Magna Cum Laude, with a 3.875 gpa.
She is my hero because she keeps her eye on Jesus. I didn’t know Him or care to know Him at her age. I gave my life to The Lord at the age of 36. Up to that point I was pretty much only concerned about me.
She is my hero because she has a clue what she is going to do with her life career-wise. She has a degree in communications and wants to work in the public relations field. I joined the Army at 17 because I was clueless and had no way of getting into college at that point. After 6 years of that I became a carpenter for 5 years before figuring out what I was going to be when I grew up and settled into a career in massage therapy at the age of 28.
She is my hero for being true to her beliefs and saving herself for her future husband whom she will be marrying July 28th. Me? Well I didn’t wait, ’nuff said. This decision made for a lot of turmoil and trouble in my marriage. Problems I thank God she and her husband will not have to face.
She is my hero because she has already been figuring out how to be a wife to her husband. She has read about the “5 Love Languages” and sees them as an important part of her future marriage. I did not do this. I caused her amazing mother a lot of grief and heartache in the first seventeen and a half years of our marriage.
She is my hero because she is is fun to be around and knows how to have fun in a safe, clean, moral way. Rather than seeking the drunken often vulgar party lifestyle I chose to live in my earlier years, she has chosen what I consider a better path.
She is my hero because she doesn’t have a smug, superior or holier than thou attitude. Even when those she knows, loves and cares for, like my past self and others her own age, are making poor choices and running headlong in the wrong direction. She exhibits a Christ like love for others instead.
Now of course she’s not perfect. I know that and I’m not trying to paint her out to be. But I truly admire her faith, her character, her tenacity, her drive, her determination. Also her obedience, her ambition, her morals. While I may be a bit biased it is my opinion that she “has heroic qualities.” I love her dearly and she is my hero.
I just read a great post at http://marriedspice.com. I believe it is dead on and exposes a deeper look into the dangers of sliding into the trap of pornography. This is an ever-growing problem that is becoming more and more acceptable in our society. The article may be long but it is so informative. Please take the time to read and even re-read it.
Also, don’t fool yourselves, “looking isn’t cheating” is a load of crap. This is a major problem in the world today and is wrecking lives, marriages and families at an alarming rate.
This study is by Mark B. Kastleman. He is the author of the revolutionary book titled The Drug of the New Millennium- the Science of How Internet Pornography Radically Alters the Human Brain and Body.
You can find more information on his brain studies at http://markkastleman.com/
The Funnel of Sexual Arousal
The mindbody is persistent in its mission to seek to link information, experiences, and knowledge together, to achieve a “peak experience.” Sexual climax is one of the most intense “peak” experiences the mindbody can experience. And climax cannot take place without what is called the “narrowing process.”
Our mindbody is like a narrow landing strip–only one plane can set down at a time. For example, if you are in conversation with someone, and the T.V. is blaring in the background and children are screaming and playing outside, in order to clearly make out what the children are up to you must “let go” of the conversation first. Of course, if you do so, then the conversation becomes background.
Yes, there are those that can pull the “stunt” of performing multiple tasks, but the natural tendency of the mind is to focus on only one thing at a time. In fact, the mindbody craves a singular focus. Why? Because it is by way of a singular focus that it has the greatest access to all its own learning resources.
The mindbody assumes that its number one responsibility is to learn. It is there to acquire new experiences, learn from them, then turn them into habit so it can go on and focus on new tasks, habituate them-and the cycle continues. How does the mindbody access its highest ability to carry out this function? By a single focus-one plane at a time on the landing strip. The mindbody is a master of focus.
Sexual climax requires a “one plane on the landing strip” type focus in order to take place. As with any sexual activity, this focus by a man or woman as they move toward climax is legitimate and desirable in the appropriate setting. The following discussion of the “funnel of Sexual Arousal” and the “narrowing process” provides an explanation of sexual functionality without any implied moral commentary.
Narrowing Down the Funnel into the Tunnel of Sexual Climax
If sexual climax is one of the most intense, single-focus, peak experiences that the human mindbody can experience, but it can only take place through a “narrow focus,” how does the mindbody do this? In order to understand this process, consider the illustration below: (link–>) KastlemanFunnel
At the top of the funnel, we are in control of our thoughts, perspectives, beliefs, morals, etc. and keeping them in check in the “widest sense.” Keep in mind that women more naturally think at the top of the funnel much of the time. While on the other hand, men can narrow down to the bottom of the funnel very quickly and stay there for longer periods of time.
When a person “lets go” and moves from the top of the funnel, narrowing toward climax, everything at the “big picture” level of thought starts to fade away as the mindbody begins to narrowly focus on the attainment of a powerful peak experience. Our wide perspective and full mental faculties are not accessed again until after orgasm, when we emerge from the tunnel at the base of the funnel. This narrowing process is where the powerful differences between the male and female brain structure really manifest themselves.
The Male Brain in the Funnel
When a man or teenage boy uses pornography as the process to arrive at the peak experience of climax, the results are usually mind-boggling.
Remember, because of testosterone and the structure of the male brain, a man or boy can focus intensely on a very narrow subject for long periods of time. He also can block out all other thoughts and distractions.
Men typically do not think in terms of the big picture, but rather on the specific issues at hand. They tend to be more goal-oriented and can focus intensely on getting to the finish line, completing the project, winning the trophy, while blocking out all other thoughts not related to the end goal. This is not to suggest that a man cannot see things from a wide perspective. If he makes an effort to do so, he can see the big picture. But, given a specific task, goal, or purpose, he tends to narrow very rapidly and utilize a specific area of the brain on one hemisphere or the other.
What do you think happens when a man begins to focus on pornographic images with the intention or goal to achieve the peak experience of climax? The male mindbody races down the funnel and narrows so quickly that it is scarcely believable!
After climax and exiting the narrow opening at the base of the funnel, the male mindbody returns quickly to the wide part of the funnel.
With their senses restored, men often ask themselves after a porn-viewing session, “How could have I forgotten my wife and children, my religion, my convictions?“
How can a man, staring at pornography, with all of his focus on attaining the culminating peak-experience of climax, possibly be thinking about his wife and children at the same time? He can’t. Having descended into the narrow base of the funnel, he surrenders his ability to see the “big picture” and what ought to be most important to him.
As a man heads into the tunnel and “narrows” his mental consciousness, chemical and hormonal responses are triggered in the brain and body that would not be triggered if he stayed at the top of the funnel. When a man viewing pornography begins his descent into the tunnel that leads to climax, this narrowing leads to “switches” that are not accessible at the wide perspective level of thinking. Remember, the mindbody can only experience sexual climax on a “narrow landing strip.” Once he heads down the funnel to where the switches of arousal and climax focus are tripped, there is little hope of him being able to turn back.
[In a similar way, we counsel teenagers not to start down the funnel of sexual arousal in the first place, because they will reach a point where their bodies take over and rational thought is lost-along with their virtue.]
Comments from Male Porn Addicts About the Funnel
In gathering research for my book, I have conducted interviews both formal and casual with many men who have been or are addicted to Internet pornography. As soon as I show them the funnel illustration, it’s like a light going on. The standard comment is, “That’s exactly the way it is!”
Without exception, these men talk about how rapidly their focus and perspective narrows with Internet pornography. But the amazing and frightening thing is, the narrowing process usually began before they actually turned on their computer!
John, a man with a typical Internet porn addiction problem, said, “I would be going through a normal day and then suddenly I would get this urge to look at porn. Once the urge hit me, it was like everything around me became unimportant. All I could think about was getting to a computer. It was like I was being pulled by some powerful force. I would cancel meetings, or make up excuses, do anything necessary to get to the computer.”
“Once there, I blocked out everything else. I would spend hours looking at porn on the Internet. It was like I was in a cave and the rest of the world didn’t exist. These sessions always ended with masturbation, after which it was like I was suddenly coming out of a cave and seeing the world again. I remember being shocked when I would look at my watch and realize how long I was out of commission. It was almost like I didn’t know where I’d been-like waking up from a dream or something.”
With virtually everyone I spoke, it was the same story. They described being pulled or pushed down the funnel-almost as if its sides were greased and once they had begun their downward plunge, pulling up was nigh to impossible.
They all talked about being trapped in the narrow tunnel, glued to the images, riveted by desire, completely consumed, out of control.
They referred to everything around them as being blocked out, blurred or of little significance. And in every case they described the sensation of emerging from the narrow tunnel after masturbation and suddenly coming to their senses, stepping out of the dark, once more being aware of everything around them.
The desire to experience a sexual encounter and climax is triggered in the male very quickly because the brain narrows very quickly. The sexual stimulation of pornography floods directly into the male brain stem where higher reasoning is eliminated and automatic response or animal instinct takes over.
In Brain Sex, The Real Difference Between Men and Women, Anne Moir and David Jessel state the following:
Male lust is blind. High testosterone acting on the male brain increases the narrow focus and “single-minded” approach to the “object” of his desires. After orgasm, testosterone levels subside and the male brain starts to receive a wider input of information without the “narrowing” effect of larger amounts of testosterone present during arousal.
__ An Interesting Side Note__
It isn’t only pornography that pulls men into such a narrowing process. Since the beginning of time men and boys have enmeshed themselves in dangerous, foolish, careless and crazy things in the “narrow tunnel” at the base of the funnel. But instead of the peak experience being sexual climax, it is something else such as the thrill of danger, the heat of competition, the enticement of mischief.
How many times after pulling some really dumb or dangerous prank has a boy or man been asked, “What on earth were you thinking?” And the response has usually come, “I don’t know,” or “I just had the sudden urge to do it.“
And you know what? When you ask, “What on earth were you thinking,” you can already assume that they “weren’t thinking at all,” but were acting on instinct in the narrow passageway at the bottom of the funnel, in hot pursuit of a peak experience. With a narrow “male” focus on a single end goal, the wide-perspective and logical-reasoning mechanisms were completely blocked out.
Dedicate significant time and attention to studying and understanding the Funnel. It is the key to understanding the male porn addiction process. When women understand the narrowing process they usually begin to understand for the very first time, how their husband, son, brother, boyfriend, etc., can get so caught up in pornography and abandon values and loved ones. The funnel is also extremely valuable in helping pornography addicts finally understand “why” they lose all perspective and reason in the addictive process.
The Female Brain and the Funnel
How does the female brain operate in the funnel of sexual arousal? With every woman I spoke to about this issue, including those who were presently involved with Internet porn and cybersex chat rooms, the response was universal: Yes, a woman does slip and slide down the funnel, but with some very important differences:
None of the women indicated that they had ever been pulled uncontrollably down the funnel with no way to stop. Each of them used one word to describe their slippery descent into the funnel: “choice.” They each said that narrowing toward climax was a conscious choice rather than an uncontrollable compulsion. They only descended down the funnel when they wanted to and at their own pace.
They all agreed that they had never narrowed to the point where everything else was completely blocked out. None of them had experienced suddenly emerging from the narrow tunnel after orgasm and exclaiming, “What just happened? Where was I?”
All of the women maintained that climax was very enjoyable, yet it was not their singular focus and be-all/end-all goal. In fact, they contended that if the other important elements of intimacy were experienced, and climax was not reached in a given situation, they could be just as satisfied with the experience. (With all of the men I interviewed, the attitude was entirely opposite-the funnel experience could not be complete without climax. Climax was the total focus.)
None of the women were interested in Internet porn images all by themselves, as the way to narrow down the funnel to climax. Each insisted that there had to be more to it than that.
Each of these areas of response from women makes total sense when measured according to the structure of the female brain. The female brain is not organized so as to keep sex and the process leading up to climax in a separate, narrow mental compartment like the male brain does.
A woman is exerting both sides of her brain when she starts into the funnel. She connects the process with a wider variety of emotional information against a background where relationships, communication, and emotional fulfillment are more important than the single, narrow event of climax.
For Women, the Right Setting Is Paramount
Because she is so much more aware of her emotions, thoughts and feelings at a much wider perspective, it takes the right setting and a longer period of time for a woman to allow herself to get to the place in the funnel where she begins “throwing the switches” leading to climax. This of course is completely contrary to the classic porn flick scenario, in which the woman plays the willing victim, the ravenous nymphomaniac, the office hussy.
Porn also shows women writhing in pleasure, achieving orgasm at the drop of a hat and under all circumstances. These responses are obviously staged. Few if any women could become aroused so easily, especially in such situations. Remember, porn seeks to create fantasy women who respond sexually the same way a man might-or in the way a man wishes the woman to respond.
In the female brain, the centers of logic, reason, arousal and emotion are well connected. A woman thus will not typically narrow down the funnel unless she has considered the big picture and deems the journey to be in line with her overall values, reasoning and goals.
And even when she does slide down the funnel, a woman’s narrowing is not nearly that of a man’s. Again, remember, even when focusing on a single issue, such as intimacy and climax, a woman is still exerting her entire brain and on a wider scale when compared to the male. A woman’s reasoning is still intact at some level, which is why all the women I interviewed used the word “choice.” And this would explain why they did not suddenly “regain their reasoning when coming out of the tunnel”-basic reasoning was connected to the process all the time.
In The First Sex, Helen Fisher says the following:
Women are more likely than men to be distracted during coitus. If a woman hears a baby cry, recalls something that happened at the office, or wonders if she turned off the stove, her concentration can be interrupted. She has to reset her focus and rebuild her sexual excitement. Men are better able to keep their attention riveted on sex . . . Women tend to assimilate many disparate thoughts at once-web thinking. Web thinking may disrupt their concentration as they make love.
The women I interviewed suggested that the funnel of intimacy be rendered slightly differently for women. They offered the following adjustments:
The female funnel should be wider at the top, indicating that women start out using more brain space and taking in a wider range of information, emotions, etc.
The female funnel should narrow more gradually, with “exits” or “rest stops” along the way, to suggest that women more slowly narrow toward climax and can halt the process at will. Further more, they can be completely satisfied if the process is put on hold, if other important elements are present.
The tunnel at the base of the funnel should be wider than the male tunnel, indicating that, even in its narrowed state, the female brain still maintains a wider perspective and is continuing to consider a wide range
It is obvious that men and women do not approach or experience sexual arousal in the same way. Through a more habitual, mindbody process, a man uses Internet porn as the process to achieve sexual climax. And each subsequent time he expresses that intention, his mindbody is trained to seek out the network of cellular memories that activate the process and he begins the slippery slide down the funnel very quickly.
When a woman expresses an intention for a sexual experience, her mindbody requires much more than some pornographic images. She must receive a much wider range of stimulus in order to be fulfilled, thus her mindbody will seek for the network of cellular memories best equipped to make her intention a reality. This network generally will be much larger and more complex than in the male, and so her journey down the funnel is necessarily wider, slower, and much more of a “consciously directed” process than in the male.
Given what I have learned about the female brain and based on numerous interviews and discussions, I would have to agree that the female funnel of intimacy should be rendered differently than that of the male. However, there is a disturbing trend with Internet porn and cybersex chat rooms that indicates a growing number of women may be approaching the funnel more like men do-traveling down the funnel more quickly and more narrowly.
If you are caught in this trap I beg you to seek help. It is a real problem and you can’t control it. Stop fooling yourself. There is help out there: http://xxxchurch.com & http://heartsupport.com are a few online resources. I am currently involved starting a Celebrate Recovery program at The Ridge Church. If you would like more information on this please contact me. -Rick
Know the “One” in order to meet & know your “two”
This book is primarily geared toward those preparing for marriage some day but don’t let that stop you from reading it if you’re already there. In this book, author, Craig Groecschel offers many insights into relationships, past present and future. It is invaluable information you can pass on to others as well as heed for yourself.
Love, Sex and Happily Ever After will give you great advice for your future spouse (your #2) as well as guide you in your relationship with the “One” (Jesus Christ). You first need to meet and know the “One” and develop your relationship with Him to truly be able to understand and develop your relationship with your “two”.
Craig’s openness in his own failures and successes in relationships with the opposite sex are very real and even painful at times (such as the pick-up line he first used on his wife Amy).
I believe I could have made things much easier for myself but especially for my wife had I read this 25 years ago. So, whether you are just dipping your toe into the dating pool for the first time or you’ve been married for years, Love, Sex and Happily Ever After is a great book for staying the course or getting back on track.
I will certainly be giving a copy to my 19 year old daughter and her boyfriend soon.
Craig Groeschel is the founding and senior pastor of LifeChurch.tv. Meeting in multiple locations around the United States, and globally at Church Online, LifeChurch.tv is known for the innovative use of technology to spread the Gospel.
With a passion for serving the Church and partnering to reach people for Christ, LifeChurch.tv develops and shares resources and applications with churches worldwide.
Craig, his wife, Amy, and their six children live in the Edmond, Oklahoma area where LifeChurch.tv began in 1996. He speaks at conferences worldwide and has written several books, including his recent release: The Christian Atheist: Believing in God but Living As If He Doesn’t Exist.
FTC DISCLAIMER: “I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review”.
Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. –1Peter3:1-6
I am married to the most patient, kind, caring women I have ever known. 1 Peter 3:1-6 is what I call my Jenniverse. My wife, Jenni, often times unknowingly followed Gods command here in dealing with me, long before I became a believer. The first time I read these words I saw her reflection in the page.
I know a number of women struggle with the fact that their husbands don’t go to church with them or don’t follow or believe in Jesus. My wife was one of them for the first 17 1/2 years of our marriage. But through her obedience in 1 Peter3:1-6 I saw Jesus reflected in her actions and lifestyle. Not through her arguing, nagging, begging and pleading for me to “try out church” (although she did her fair share of that too).
Ladies I know it’s tough sometimes. At times I look back on what I put her through and get sick about it. But just keep this scripture handy and truly live it out and watch what happens.
Does God only answer the prayers of the believer?
Some would say scripture supports that only the prayers of the believer can and will be heard by God, other than the prayer of salvation of the non-believer.
Psalm 66:18 says, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened”. Isaiah 1:15 says, “When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen.” And Proverbs 28:9 has, “If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law, even his prayers are detestable.”
These scriptures might support that but can’t a believer also fit here? Can a believer “…cherish sin in his heart”? or “…turn a deaf ear to the law”? I have, and I don’t question my salvation, I know in my heart that Jesus Christ died for my sins as well as the sins of all man, even the ones that choose never to believe in Him. The difference is where that salvation will take me and where that missing salvation will take them. But, that’s another discussion. Let’s get back to prayer?
Now, I’m not talking about prosperity prayers or prayers that are self centered in nature. I don’t believe those are answered for anyone if it is outside God’s plan. I’m talking about righteous prayer that is in line with God’s will.
Long, before I was a believer I prayed for the safety of my wife and unborn daughter through a difficult child-birth. My daughter is now 18 years old, healthy and a faithful servant of Christ. Wait a minute, I’ve only been saved 4 1/2 years?!? But, isn’t that an answered prayer? I also added in “I’ll straighten up and change my ways…” Some would say I’ve done that and some would say that is an answered prayer for them too but that event occurred 14 years later. All in God’s timing not man’s, maybe? If, God had not answered that prayer, if Jenni or Marissa or both had not made it through would that have driven me further from God? Was this a coincidence or was this the starting point of a belief that would eventually emerge in my life. There were other times I prayed. I prayed for a safe return from The Gulf War. I made it home, some didn’t. That was even two years before that prayer for Jenni and Marissa. If I hadn’t prayed for that safe return or if God had ignored that prayer because I didn’t believe, where would I be? Where would Jenni be? Would Marissa be?Again, as far as we can tell, these prayers appear to line up with God’s will. You could say the prayer for a safe return was a selfish one but I had a wife, who would become an amazing sister in Christ, to return to. And a, yet to be conceived, daughter that is now turning into that same kind of woman. That is now an answered prayer of mine, albeit after the fact of my salvation.
Muscles don’t just appear one day. We have to build them. How can we build our faith muscles if we don’t excercise them? And how can we reach the strength to take that first huge step and ask for God’s forgiveness if we don’t exercise a little first? I’m not saying that’s all it takes but it’s a flex in the right direction.
God saved me from what I had turned my life into. I know that is an answered prayer of my wife’s. But, God gave me the life I was ruining. Maybe that initial life was an answer to someone else’s prayer. Where they a believer? Will they be someday because of that first step 40 some years ago?
What say you? Is prayer a private club only for the members that “said the oath” or is more than that? I would love to hear your thoughts.
Last week my daughter, Marissa, graduated from high school. Being a member of the school board, I actually got to hand her the diploma. She was also in the top 10 of her class, received numerous honors, some great scholarships and gave the benediction. What a proud moment it was for me and Jenni. But, I think I tend to be more of a realist when it comes to these types of things. Our kids grow up. It’s an inevitability, we can’t stop it, so why not embrace it for the momentous occasion it is.
While I remember and cherish the memories of her first steps, I celebrate her accomplishments that have now led her to her next steps. She will be going off to Anderson University in August, just days after she turns 18. I am confident that she is ready for it. Through her choices in life, so far, and her faith and beliefs, she has instilled in me a sense of comfort that makes it easier to let her go.
I do hope that I have been able to help her learn and grow over the years. I pray that she has been able to learn from the stupid things she has seen me do, in my life. I have given her the opportunity to learn from my mistakes more often than not. Even though I am the parent, I feel as if I have learned more from her than she has from me, over the years. I think I have a better understanding of unconditional love. I have grown closer to God by better understanding the sacrifice He made for us in His own Son. Not necessarily the why, but a better understanding of the love He has for man to have given His Son’s life for our own. While I would lay down my life for her, I cannot fathom seeing her hurt for others.
While I want Marissa to experience only good things in life I know that is not realistic so I pray for strength and courage
for her. I pray that she will learn and grow from the right and wrong, the good and bad. But, more importantly I pray for a continued, strong support system of friends and family and the wisdom for her to rely on them.
I anxiously await whatever comes next in her life. I joke with her a lot about boyfriends and such but I have been praying for a special man for her for some time now. I pray that he will be a Godly man, a good husband and father. That he will not only provide for her physical and financial needs but for her spiritual needs as well.
I will always have fond memories of her childhood but I am so excited to see how God will work in her life next. I love you Boo.
I Love My Crown
I know we’re supposed to be humble and all but I am so proud to wear my crown. Proverbs 12:4 tells us “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband.” I’ve heard guys say they have the best wife ever but I would have to say they are either mistaken or lying because I have that honor. Jenni and I have been married for just over 20 years now and if you ever needed proof that there is a God and he watches over us and gives us strength she is a testimony to that because I’ve been no picnic.
When Jenni and I first decided to get married she asked me if I believed in God. I grew up not really thinking or talking about God or religion much. The only family member that I knew that had anything to do with that “God stuff” didn’t exactly set a shining example. So, I just kind of didn’t think about it much. Well, when she asked me that question I sorta lied and told her yes. She had been recently saved and it seemed to mean a lot to her and I was in love with her and not losing her meant a lot to me. (hey don’t judge me, she was and is awesome and I knew it)
I think she soon found out that I either lied or had no clue what believing in God meant. But she hung in there. Sometimes by the skin of her teeth and sometimes only by Jesus and her friends holding her up.
I don’t want to paint myself up to be this horrible person or anything but I was not the husband I should have been. Sure, I loved her but my own selfish agenda always seemed to rule out. My life was all about me and she more often than not conceded at least enough to appease me. (And believe me when I say I did some stupid stuff)
But, no matter how bad I sabotaged our marriage or my own life she was there and so was Christ. He showed her how to love me in spite of the pain I caused. He showed her how to shine His light even when I was in the darkest of places. Through the grace that He showed her when she never deserved it she was able to show me that same grace when I certainly didn’t deserve it.
Finally, after over 16 years of prayer and petition and undying love and grace, I opened my thick skull, removed the scales from my eyes and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and savior.
I still so don’t deserve the blessing that God has given me in my wife but I will proudly wear that crown. Thank You Lord and thank you Jenni. I love you.
What I want for my daughter…
This is my daughter, Marissa. I know things can’t be perfect for her all her life. But if I can do anything to protect or prepare her for troubled times I desperately want to do that. She recently started driving which I am excited about for her but at the same time it scares the crap out of me. She has begun to look at colleges and is exploring her options of career choices. Again, a very exciting time to share with her but it means time is short. Have I given her my all? Is she ready for what lies ahead? Although I’m sure I wasn’t the father she deserved at times. I hope and pray I have been the best father I could be and that she can forgive me for the rest. I want her to always know, as long as I hold breath in my body, I am here for her, no matter what. There is nothing she can’t bring to me or ask me.
There are certain things I want for her in her life.
- I want her to pursue Christ… I want her to live a Godly life and never stop following Christ and reaching others for Him.
- I want her to know she is beautiful… We are all created in God’s image and that makes us all beautiful, so many women never hear enough, how beautiful they really are.
- I want her to make the most of her life… That may sound corny but I want her to have as few regrets as possible in her life and I want her to hear those words “well done My good and faithful servant”.
- I want her to never know a stranger… She can be the sweetest person I know, when she wants to be, I want her to use that to touch as many lives as she can.
- I want her to never settle… To always do her very best and never settle for good enough in school, work, love or life.
- I want her to fall in love (in the far future) with a certain kind of man…
- He needs to love God… I want him to be the spiritual leader she needs to guide her, lead her and protect her.
- He needs to love her… I want him to love her with all the passion and attention she wants, needs and deserves.
- He needs to make her happy… Not with material things but with what her heart truly desires.
- He needs to make her laugh… Marissa has an infectious laugh that needs to be heard as often as possible.
- (guys if you’re not up to these tasks don’t even bother)
Finally, I want her to know how important she is to me… I have not done well providing, supporting or emphasizing the things listed above for Marissa. I am praying that God will help me to see and sieze each and every moment that I can use to prepare her for what ever He has for her. Please keep me in prayer that I will do better in the future. Marissa, please forgive me my shortcomings, I love you Boo.
You just never know…
It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering.
What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.
– 1 Corinthians 3:7
About nine years ago I was out mowing the lawn on a sweltering hot day. The pastor of the church my wife had been attending drove by and saw me. Now I didn’t really know this guy and I had no interest in church or anything it had to offer. The guys name was Bill Craig. Anyway, he stopped back by a little later and offered to help me. He got in the back of his car and pulled out this old, rusty, antique mower. He meant it as a joke and I think I laughed a little bit and probably thought “thanks a lot jerk” (or something not so clean). Now my wife and I like to decorate our house and yard in what is sometimes referred to as country clutter (or hillbilly chic to some) and I put that mower in a flower bed in front of the house. Bill left the church a bout a year later and I really never got to know him (something I will always regret). My wife continued to attend that church and eventually I came to know Christ there. It is now the Ridge where we both serve and attend. We recently celebrated our ten year anniversary and I had a chance to talk to Bill Craig. He made a comment about that mower and I told him I still had it. I see it every time I mow, work in the yard, or step out of the house. That silly mower was a seed that Bill planted many years ago. A connection that we made however brief that I have never really forgotten. Bill knew where I was and probably how I was living to an extent but he still reached out, in a strange sort of way, and showed me a little love (and humor).
I’ve been thinking about this lately and the Lord has shown me, in all this, that you should never pass up an opportunity to reach out to someone for Him. It may be the only chance you get to plant a seed. Don’t worry about how big or small it may be just do what the Lord leads you to do and He’ll take care of the rest.
Again, it’s not important who does the planting but, you do need to plant those seeds when called to do so, You just never know…
What is Going On?!?!
I saw previews for a new TV show the other day. It’s on network TV during primetime. It’s called Swingtown. It’s about a couple in the 70’s that move to a new town full of swingers!! (partner swapping for those that don’t know the term). Who in the world thought this was ok to put on TV at all? I thought shows like Two and a Half Men were bad but this is outright porn without the nudity. And, as with Two and a Half Men, the commercials aren’t even censored and are on during all hours. Why do you think we are being exposed to this kind of stuff? I have my theories but would like to hear from others.
My daughter Marissa, 2nd from the left, (ain’t she adorable) was inducted into the National Honor Society tonight I am so unbelievably proud of her. I don’t tell her nearly enough and I’m not sure she gets it when I do tell her. She will be 16 in August. She has been such an amazing child and is becoming an amazing young lady (BACK OFF GUYS!!!) Sometimes I wonder how in the world she survived all these years with me as her father and then I remember she has another Father and it is through His grace that she survived me and my failures. I am truly blessed to have her and her mother and I thank God everyday for them. I was baptized almost 2 years ago now and right after I was baptized I had the amazing privilege and honor to help baptize Marissa. That is one of the most memorable times in my walk so far. I had a chance to see the video again in a baptism compilation video at church last week and I lost it. Thank you Lord. I love you Boo. -love, Daddy.