“TV saved my marriage” 4 Ways to Reconnect Your Marriage

It was the summer of ’03. Anne and I were in a store walking through with the kids secured in our double-stroller. We were in a season of life that was a bit hectic. Cammi was 3 and Ethan wasn’t even 1 yet. We were still discovering who we were as a ministry couple not to mention as a married couple. We were trying to find our “flow” in life. We didn’t have consistent schedules, very few “dates” together, and the age of the kids placed a higher demand upon us. I think it’d be true to say, at that point, we didn’t even realize what we were missing as we had gotten used to the fast-paced, non-stop type of living.

I remember it was a Saturday. Why? We were in this conversation about going to Blockbuster (when they were opened) and renting something to watch. The odd open evening got us thinking about getting the kids to bed and having something to watch. When we walked by the movie section of the store, I noticed a “sale” sign on season 1 of the show “24.” For only $20, we could buy the whole season. I looked at Anne and said, “I’ve heard it’s a great show. It’d cost us more than that to rent all six discs. It’s not a huge investment and it’ll give us something we can enjoy together.” So we bought the set.

That day, we purposely got the kids fed, bathed, and put to bed in a timely way, knowing, we had plans to introduce ourself to Jack BauerAt 1a.m. that night, and Lord knows how many episodes later, we were more than hooked, we discovered something that had been missing from our marriage. We had made and engaged in purposeful time and enjoyment with each other. (Full disclosure: we had watched so long that we were trying to remember when and if the kids were put to bed. Obviously we took care of them, but had a funny little panic moment.)

There was more than a “binge-watching” that took place. We found something that we both loved to do together. We enjoyed it so much that we talked about it and made plans for it. Our schedules were adjusted to compensate for our new-found passion. It’s then we began to ask ourselves, “Are there others shows we’d enjoy?” From there, we tried a few shows, invested in lots of popcorn, and scheduled out when we’d watch them.

Nowadays, we really don’t watch shows together. That season ended and a new season began: walking and/or hiking. It’s quite a bit healthier, but with the kids being older, it is also a bit easier to do.

So when I say, “Jack Bauer saved our marriage,” what I’m saying is that a moment of “trying” something together helped us make a reconnection that we didn’t realize how desperately we needed.  We, like most couples, were so busy doing good things in our marriage not realizing we were not engaging in the best things. I’m not saying a TV show is the “best” thing. But look deeper than that. We found something we both enjoyed. That enjoyment gave us a place to relax and connect. And the more we did it, the more we’d anticipate and strategically plan for it. When that avenue of entertainment/enjoyment  begin to wane, we dared to “try” something else. Anne and I knew we couldn’t lose what we had rediscovered.

I’m not saying that you need to get into movies, shows, or sports (even though they aren’t inherently bad to do). That isn’t the overall point. I’d submit: if you don’t have consistent time of leisurely engagement, then you’re starving your relationship. I always say, “What wins a heart before marriage sustains a heart after you’ve married.” And if you’re expecting longevity in something, then you’ll feed it.

How can you find a “reconnection point?”

  1. Recognize the need. Don’t just do this for your spouse, this is for your marriage. People who don’t purposely work on their marriage purposely coast toward catastrophe.
  2. Be willing to try. Perhaps it’s something new to you or to your marriage. Get out of the boat and attempt something. It doesn’t have to be a huge investment of money to be a huge investment in your marriage. Remember: I’d rather a couple fail at trying than fail to try. Take the risk on some healthy activities. If it didn’t work, then the success is in the fact you did something together. If it did connect, then congrats, you found a connection point for you both.
  3. Study your spouse. You can tell if your spouse is getting into it. Watch his/her responses.Listen to see if she/he talks about it. You’ll be able to tell whether the activity “hit the mark.”
  4. Get intentional. Don’t just do something fun together, get strategic about it. The more you plan it out, the more anticipation you create and passion you build.

We get having an empty home.
We get having little ones around.
We get busy schedules.

We also get making time for the things that are the most important. Your marriage is what is most important. Find yourself a “reconnection” and make a habit of it .

Love you all. Praying for you.

Encourage effort.
Celebrate progress.
Feed hope.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

BTW: Check out my book. Click on the link below.

 

 

 

Monday Kfirst Kickstart: “Reaching Through the Rubble”

Today I want to give you a place to start your week. It’s Monday and in the wake of a great weekend and a workweek ahead, sometimes you just need a “kickstart” to get focused.  So grab some coffee let’s start a great week together.

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday we continued our series “Back to the Table” at Kfirst. Though this is a new series of talks, the topic is NOT new as this is our third series that visits the “table practice of Jesus.” We see our lives as a “table” of hospitality. We see opportunities to change the world is done through Jesus’ approach to others at a shared table.

The “Table” is really three specific items: It is the SYMBOL, the MESSAGE, and the ACTION of the Kingdom of God. So when we show the radical hospitality of Jesus, we show, speak, and live the Kingdom of God.

Today we had a special morning as we turned our attention to the table practice of Christ including orphans. We at Kfirst believe that true ministry to the world includes foster care and adoption.  James 1:27 says,

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

Our heart is to be engaged in some way to come along side of orphans “in their distress.” It may not look like others, but it engages with foster kids to remind them they are loved and valued. You can’t do everything, but you can do something. And our question today: What is the “something” that you can do?

If you’re wanting to do something, please connect by contacting our KFAM community (click on the name). We’d love to challenge you to find some way to reach those who need the most help.

Love you all. Have an amazing week.

Picking up the Pieces: 4 Thoughts About Personal Brokenness

Have you ever said, “What just happened?” Me too.

Last winter, I had one of “those” mornings. As I’m leaving for the day, I’m doing my best to be careful pulling my car out of the garage and I destroyed my driver’s-side mirror.

I remember being physically exhausted.  My mind was wide awake saying “You’re too close. Adjust the wheel” but the rest of me wasn’t responding. It was this slow-motion moment as I my car and garage met leaving a trail of my mirror all the way down my driveway. I put my car in park and just sat there in disbelief at what transpired.

[Enter joke about “objects in mirror are closer than they appear.”]

I was in shock. I’ve pulled out of the garage hundreds of times and have never had that happen. A simple daily moment turned into disaster. I got out of the car and walked back toward the house picking up the shattered fragments of what used to be attached to my car. I stuck the broken mirror casing back onto my car thinking I can still used it as it still had a chunk of mirror left on it. (I know, ridiculous isn’t it?)

When I got to my coffice (coffeehouse + office), I did some quick research and hit up Amazon Prime to get a new mirror in the matter of a few days.  And sure enough it was there by Wednesday. So I set it by the door so to motivate me and, yet, it sat there for a few months.

For the next week, I found myself continuing to pick up the pieces of something I thought I was done cleaning up. As the snow melted, more pieces were revealed. I was astonished at how far the damage was spread from the point of impact. Even early this fall, while cutting my lawn, I found a large piece. I remember thinking to myself, “I thought I was done with this? How is it that I’m still dealing with this after all of this time?

While you may not have destroyed your mirror, I think many of you can relate to my “Monday moment.” Has anything ever impacted you and has left you feeling like:

  • You keep picking up the pieces of something that has happened to you. 
  • You didn’t anticipate at how far the damage was spread.
  • You’re just living life, and something happens that makes you say,I thought I was done with this? How is it that I’m still dealing with this after all of this time?

Me too. I get it. And I thought I’d share some lessons I learned.

My crazy schedule gave me every excuse to NOT fix the mirror. Sometimes busyness will sedate issues and distract you from dealing with things. Just because you no longer feel momentary pain doesn’t mean the issue is completely healed. Busyness is something I’ve learned to hide behind as it’s my drug of choice. If I can stay busy, then I don’t have to deal with it. But the more I put off the issue, the deeper the issue sets in me. Which leads to…

I learned to live with my brokenness. There was a fraction of mirror left in the casing and I got used to using it. I’ll admit I cut off a few people in traffic after not seeing them. But on the most part, I thought I was having “success” in accommodating to living with a “broken vision” of what things around me.  And the more I got used to it, the motivation for getting it fixed has waned. “I’ll deal with it another time” became my primary way to procrastinate dealing with this.

I needed to access what was provided. The new mirror was there and ready for installment. I waked by it every day. I’d even think to myself, “someday I’ll get it fixed…someday things will be back to normal.” What I find often in my life is a propensity to deal with things on my own instead of accessing what has been provided in Christ. I don’t think we have a lack of God wanting to move in our lives. I think we have a lack of us accessing what He has provided in Jesus.  It’s almost overwhelming how much access to healing, peace, love, and joy we have. Yet, quite often, we attempt to deal with things on our own. We need to access what God provides. 

Allow God to work through others. I’ll admit it was pride keeping me from asking for help. “I can do this” was my mantra. It was a friend (love ya Kevin) that came over for another purpose who looked and said “Let me help.” Kevin did in a few minutes what I thought was going to be a longer and harder process. It took someone with kindness and experience to help me in my point of need and walk me through how to move forward. But the key: I needed to allow him to help. Please don’t allow your pride to stop you from asking for AND accepting help.  Allow those with the kindness and experience to meet you in your point of brokenness. 

Is this you? Has something happened that makes you seem like you’re still picking up the pieces? I get it. And my “getting it” goes far beyond a stupid car mirror. I understand what it’s like to sedate my pain with something else. I get thinking I have to live with what happened feeling like I’m damned to living this way for the rest of my life.

But explore you: Don’t let a broken moment dictate the rest of your destiny.  Your life is worth more, your marriage is worth more, and your children are worth more than that impact has dealt you. Access the abundant available in Christ. I’m not promising a one-time-fix-all moment but daily access to the peace, joy, love, and healing you’ve been looking for.

Have I finished picking up pieces from that impact. I hope so. But each time I find another piece, I don’t remember how much I’ve lost but I embrace how far God has brought me.

Love you all. I’m praying for you today.

Monday Kfirst Kickstart: “Under the Table”

Today I want to give you a place to start your week. It’s Monday and in the wake of a great weekend and a workweek ahead, sometimes you just need a “kickstart” to get focused.  So grab some coffee let’s start a great week together.

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday we continued our series “Back to the Table” at Kfirst. Though this is a new series of talks, the topic is NOT new as this is our third series that visits the “table practice of Jesus.” We see our lives as a “table” of hospitality. We see opportunities to change the world is done through Jesus’ approach to others at a shared table.

The “Table” is really three specific items: It is the SYMBOL, the MESSAGE, and the ACTION of the Kingdom of God. So when we show the radical hospitality of Jesus, we show, speak, and live the Kingdom of God.

Today we spoke out of Mark 6 in a message called “Under the Table.” When someone is paid “under the table,” it’s because they don’t want what they have to be subject to an authority. And so often we sit at a table with others, have a smile on our face, but we pass negativity under the surface because we don’t want to subject our hurts to the authority of Christ. In our scripture, the crowd was such offense to Jesus that they missed out on miracles they could have experienced. As we read verses 1-6, two words stuck out today:

  1. Carpenter
    • The Greek word is really “craftsman.” Jesus learned to build tables before he sat at them. It is such a great challenge for all of us. Are we known for what we build or what we break? Do we build bridges (tables) or do we break them down?
  2. Offended
    • This word is derived from a word describing a stick to spring a trap. And that’s exactly what offense wants to do to our hearts. It wants to spring a trap that captures us and snares us into being so consumed with hurt we miss out on what God has in store for us.

And that’s exactly what happens when we leave offense beneath the surface. We miss out on miracles because we are so wrapped up in our issues.

This week, look to be a carpenter and “build a table/bridge” with hospitality. Look to create the symbol, message, through the actions of love and grace. Second, check your heart for anything that’s under the surface. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal areas that you may need to subject the authority of Jesus and the peace and healing He provides.

Love you all. Praying over you this week.

BTW: Here’s a song for your week

“I’m collateral damage…” 4 Thoughts for Pastor’s Schedules

These three words stopped me in my tracks yesterday and broke my heart.

While on my way to a highly packed and anticipated schedule, the most unexpected moment happened. When I’m in certain a part of our state, I try to frequent a very unique store. Every item sold has a story and a mission. For example, I’ll buy a bracelets hand-made by women who’ve been rescued from human trafficking and the money goes to help the outreach. I love giving them my business and gifting someone so that I can share the story of this organization.

Yesterday, I found a mug with the word, “rest.” Purchasing it was going to provide a weeks worth of water for someone in Ethiopia. I have no problem paying a premium price with a premium mission. On top of that, it’s a message my wife and I love to live out and speak into others. We’ve been casualties of workaholism. We have seen others struggle and break under a lack of margin built into their lives. And we have a passion to see others get control of their schedules before their schedules claim them, their marriage, and their family.

At the checkout, the woman boxing it up was so kind. She complemented me on the choice of mug and reiterated the mission it was going to fund. I shared that I was a pastor and I was planning on gifting it because of the message of “rest.” A bit of my testimony came out about my propensity to not rest. She began to tear up and open her heart.

“I understand what busyness and a lack of rest does. I was a pastor’s wife for twenty years. Please help pastors to know how to rest. Why? I’m collateral damage.

It was as if time froze and my world cease to turn on its axis.

I would have taken a deep breath if I could locate any oxygen in the room. Words in that moment were hard to come by. It wasn’t awkwardness but a mutual understanding of the pain that busyness can lead to.  What I’ve learned early in my marriage claimed hers.  I couldn’t fight my tears at the checkout. Even now, I sit in a coffeehouse with tears streaming down my face.

In the words of James in holy scripture,

“…Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!”

I understand the context of this scripture is the instability of having our words containing both curse and blessing. But I wonder if it still fits THIS context. How do we as pastors preach a blessed life but facilitate schedules that curse our marriage and family? I’m not against being busy. The work ethic my parents instilled in me pushes me to be productive. I am not about laziness as I see that as poor stewardship of my time and resources. But the refusal to build healthy margin (rest, relationships, and recreation) is placing a weight upon our spouses and children that is breaking your family speaking a message contrary to what we are preaching.

On top of that, what example are we giving to our congregations to follow? I’m tired of hearing about a pastors getting burned out. If that’s not damaging enough, the next pastor who follows has an expectation built of a pastor schedule looks like. And if he/she isn’t keeping up what was previously modeled, then upheaval happens.

I get seasons of busyness. But there’s a massive difference between a “season” and a “lifestyle.” There are “occasions” and there are ingrained “behaviors.”

The collateral damage is so much deeper that we’ve anticipated. But there is always hope.

Psalms 139 your schedule. 
Read through and pray the entire Psalm through. It’s of my favs. Verse 24 that will stand out as you pray the words, “Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”  Have your schedule in front of you and listen to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. Schedule margin (rest, relationship, and recreation) into your schedule. You’ll be a better spouse, parent, and pastor if you do. 

Repent to (and with) your family. 
Vulnerability to your spouse and family helps you stay “human.” They not only want to hear that there’s going to be change but they want to be a part of it. Don’t think they’re expecting perfection; your family just wants to see change. It will take time, intentionality, and probably some failure at the attempts. It’s okay. You’re human. I’d rather deal with a pastor “failing” at trying instead of failing to try (you’re probably not “failing” at trying but I get what you’re feeling when things doing feel like their working).

Confront the “feelings of busyness” with healthy productivity. 
I find one of two things happening with busy pastors. First, there’s a propensity to not want to change how you lead as you pastor. We want others to change but don’t enjoy seeing it happen in our lives. Yesterday’s methods and styles may or may not fit today. But if you don’t evaluate effectiveness, then you don’t know if your being productive. Second, if you don’t evaluate “how” you’re spending your time, you can be wasting the “great” moments of your day doing “good” stuff. “Good” isn’t bad. But if there’s no evaluation, then you can fill your schedules doing “good” stuff and not necessarily the “great.”

Get some mentoring. 
There’s a reason I want to be in connection with other pastors from different size congregations and denominations. I want to learn. I want to grow. My introverted nature enjoys working out things on my own. But you and I were designed to work in community. Again, if we’re preaching it, why don’t we live that. Get yourself some good books. Sit with other pastors. Allow some accountability and personal growth goals.

I know there’s a question looming: Why haven’t I given you the name of the business I was at? Because it’s here in west Michigan and I’m more concerned for protecting the identity of this wonderful, yet hurting, individual I encountered. Message me if you want to know the name if you’re desire to give them your business. I’m just trying to be cautious.

I love you pastors. This systemic issue isn’t exclusive to our vocation. But if we can get a hold of this heart for health, work to practice it, perhaps it’ll give us a platform to perpetuate it in our congregations.

I love you all. Praying for you.

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

 

Monday Kfirst Kickstart: “Farm to Table”

Today I want to give you a place to start your week. It’s Monday and in the wake of a great weekend and a workweek ahead, sometimes you just need a “kickstart” to get focused.  So grab some coffee let’s start a great week together.

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday we began our series “Back to the Table” at Kfirst. Though this is a new series of talks, the topic is NOT new as this is our third series that visits the “table practice of Jesus.” We see our lives as a “table” of hospitality. We see opportunities to change the world is done through Jesus’ approach to others at a shared table.

The message “Farm to Table” is all about taking what we’ve been cultivating in our lives and using that to serve the world around us. It’s what Jesus was wanting to correct in the hearts of those he was eating with in Luke 14. There was a religious culture cultivating a self-serving attitude. And through that filter, they responded to the world around them. The context of many banquets (tables) in this time period were about getting social status and feeling superior. Their hearts were self-serving, thus, their tables were self-serving. What cultivated in their heart?

  • Who am I sitting with?
  • Who did I invite? Because whoever comes to my table has to invite me back.
  • How can I look good sharing your scraps with the needy in front of others?

It’s in that vein of thought we see in Luke 14:15 where a man sits back at the table looking forward to how good he’ll look at in the Kingdom of God. He says, “What a blessing it will be to attend a banquet in the Kingdom of God!”  It’s here where Jesus paints a picture of the Kingdom and what the table should look like. Where others used the table to parade themselves, Jesus uses the table to speak deeper truths.

Look at the elements of the table of Jesus:

  1. The Preparation. (v. 16)
    • The Master makes the banquet possible. He provides, sets the table, pays for the meal, and gives space for all.
  2. The Invite. (v. 17)
    • There is no impact without contact. You must get closer to people to grow your potential for impacting their lives. And the only way to invite people to the table is to come in contact with them.
  3. The Response. (v. 18-20)
    • Those that rejected the invite were content with their “standing.” But the invite wasn’t to feed them but to change them. When we respond to the table, it’s not our social status that’s changed but our hearts that are transformed.
  4. The Result. (v. 21-24)
    • Lost people are found.
    • Broken people are put back together
    • Addicts are set free
    • Lonley people find community
    • Shame is lifted at this table
    • Forgiveness is given at this table.

Our challenge this month: Invite someone to “the table.” Maybe it’s at your home. Perhaps it’s to a coffee shop or restaurant. Know this: The table is part “location” but mostly your action.

Access the table. Be the table. Share a table.

Love you all. Praying over you this week.

BTW: Here’s a song for your week