Monday Morning Musings …

Some Sundays are a confusing mix of good and not so good, yesterday was one of those Sundays. As for my musings …

-We prayed for, and commissioned, all the people in our church who are working in our school system this year. We also gave them each gift card to Starbucks for those days when they need an extra boost.

-The congregation was interested but didn’t seem fully engaged yesterday. The worship service went well but I was praying for much more.

-Last week I was called out 2 nights because I had people in the emergency room.

-I also had people connected to our church in a hospital out of town with very serious injuries from an accident. Fortunately, they are doing much better.

-This week volleyball season kicks into high gear with our first match. I know the girls are ready to play someone other than each other, but I wish we were going to have a few more practices.

-Last week was graduation for the latest Fatherhood class at the prison. It was a very encouraging and humbling time. This was a great group. Hearing them share what the class meant to them and how they were applying what they learned was awesome.

-On Saturday I had a funeral, it was the first one in 4 months. It was not a family from my church. I was glad I could come alongside them during this difficult time.

-Yesterday my message was “Building Others Up in a Tear Them Down World”. One statement in the message was, “To forgive inspires kindness, which produces compassion, which will change the world.”

-I am excited that we will be having a baptism service very soon. Baptisms are awesome. Listening to their testimonies and then seeing the joy on their faces as they come out of the water is always highlight material.

-We are experiencing some growing pains in our children’s and youth ministries. As the number of children and youth grows we had to make changes in how we divide up the groups. Whenever this happens it causes some to get upset during the adjustment period. It is a good problem because it is a result of growth. It is a problem and we must keep working on how we handle it.

-Last week on my day as Chaplain at the hospital I was reminded that I have been doing this for a few years. There were 3 different patient rooms I walked into where people called me by name as I walked in because they remembered me. One was someone who has been in the hospital a few times and remembered me visiting. One was a family member who recognized me from other ministry in our community and one was a grandparent of some kids who have attended our church.

-The Lord is really working on me recently about my motivation. It is not a lack of motivation, but it is adjusting what is driving my motivation. Is it others driven, or is it me driven?

-I am having trouble focusing this morning. That is not a good sign given everything that needs to be done this week.

-I just realized that I had been thinking I had more time to get some things done that I need to finish in August. I knew the date, but somehow I was adding extra days to the month in my planning. I better get moving.

Here’s hoping you know what day it is and use this day to encourage others.

 

Dennis

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A Secret to get to 43 Years – Let’s Celebrate …

Next week my wife and I will celebrate our 43rd wedding anniversary. We generally do not have a big celebration on our anniversaries. On our 25th there was a reception that our kids and some friends did for us. On our 30th, our kids and grandkids (we had 4 at that time, now we have 10) surprised us with a special day of activity and then a renewing of our vows with just the family present. At the renewal each of our kids and kids in law wrote something for us and read it to us. That was a memorable celebration for sure.

There have been other times when the church we were serving did some type of celebration for us. But, most of our anniversaries have found us involved in other activities. For a few years we helped direct a teen camp and it always fell on our anniversary which meant we celebrate in the camp cafeteria. This year will be the 17th in which I have coached a fall sport, which means that many years part of our anniversary was spent at some type of practice. This year will have some of the same. I will have volleyball practice and then we will be with our stateside kids and grandkids as part of a few days together. Maybe we don’t do big celebrations on our anniversaries because we celebrate our relationship often. There are times of cards, flowers, special little gifts, or love notes several times a year.

I think that celebrating is a key to a lasting relationship. Look for things to celebrate and create some things to celebrate. I have always done this, not only in our marriage but also as a pastor, as a coach and as a parent. I love the little celebrations along the way. I am not opposed to a big celebration, but I think too many people only do big celebrations and they miss the joy of the little celebrations all year long.

So here is an early shout out to my wife, Happy 43rd Anniversary (a week early) honey! I love you and I love doing life with you. Here’s to several more years of celebrating together.

Here’s hoping that all of you find something to celebrate today.

 

Dennis

A Secret to get to 43 Years #7 …

If you are going to make it to 43 years together you better learn to like each other and to like being with each other. This might not sound like much of a secret, or key factor, in getting to 43, but it is a big deal. You love, and choose to love, each other to get to 43, but you must also like each other. Liking each other, and liking to be with each other, is not automatic.

Liking each other has to do with enjoying them and enjoying being with them. To enjoy your spouse, you need to know your spouse. What do they enjoy doing? What makes them laugh? What makes them cry? What are their fears? What is their dream vacation (even if you can’t provide it)? What annoys them?

You need to be a student of your spouse. The beauty of this is that after 43 years I am still learning. We are in a different season of our life than we were 20 years ago, and even 5 years ago. This means that some things change, but the changes are easier to adjust to because of how much we know about each other.

Liking your spouse and liking to spend time with your spouse, does not mean you pretend there is nothing that annoys you, it is recognizing that we both do annoying things and choosing to not let those things disrupt the relationship.

Liking to spend time with your spouse means that being with them matters more than what you are doing when you are with them. Yesterday afternoon, on my day off, we went to a local park and sat by a lake for a couple of hours. We took lawn chairs, a cooler and we each had a book to read. Most of the time was spent reading and some of it was spent talking. What mattered most was that we were with each other. It was a very enjoyable time. At other times we have fished together, or gone shopping, or played a game together. The activity is secondary, being with each other is primary.

Liking each other is a choice. Liking to spend time together requires you to be together and that often requires some planning. Look for what your spouse enjoys and seek for ways to help make this happen. Then seek to join them in what they enjoy. You will notice that you may begin to enjoy it as well. Even if you don’t enjoy the activity, you will enjoy being with your spouse as they do something that they enjoy. This will definitely raise your likeability factor as well.

Being with each other will happen naturally because you are married and living in the same spaces. Being near each other is not the same as enjoying time together. Enjoying spending time together must be a choice. You will spend time together, so enjoy it. Make that choice. Plan to spend time together. There are a lot of things that interrupt and interfere with your schedules, make sure that you choose to spend time together and realize that you like each other and let your spouse know that you like being with them.

Here’s hoping that you enjoy being with your spouse and that this week you create time together.

 

Dennis

Monday Evening Musings …

It is now 5:00 PM as sit down to type this post. Yesterday was a very different day, because I was not at our church. It was a vacation Sunday, but not a day without responsibilities. As for my musings …

-I took a vacation weekend to spend time with our volleyball teams at a summer tournament. It was a fun experience, but it made for a confusing day for me. Not being at church always feels strange and being in a gym added to the strangeness. We had a good day and I am seeing some of the girls make great strides this summer.

-I was gone from church but my wife was there and gave me a great summary of the day.

-The lady who preached for me did a good job. She shared about her new ministry in a nearby town that is reaching a difficult area of that city. I am a big fan of hers and our children will be giving some of their VBS offerings to support her and this new ministry.

-My grandson made it to South Africa over the weekend, but as of this moment his luggage has not made it. That is going to make beginning his college semester a real adventure. Appreciate prayers of this situation.

-It was nice to be out of town for 3 days and my wife was able to be with me for most of it. She came back to where the tournament took place yesterday afternoon and we stayed an extra night. We needed some away time in a different setting. I love this woman. We headed home this afternoon, but for a little while it was just us.

-Our church building is being taken over by decorations for VBS and I love it.

-Last evening, I received an update about a recent prayer request that had me rejoicing and smiling with great joy. I love when people come together and agree in prayer.

 

-This afternoon I went to visit a man from our church that had some setbacks after a recent surgery. It was good to see him, spend some time talking with him and to pray for him. I came away from the visit encouraged.

-We are in the process of lining things up to have the roof on the church and the parsonage replaced very soon. Watching the weather forecast to line up 4 or 5 good days in a row.

-I will be heading to three days of training later this week. I will be learning how to assess church planters and how to encourage them in the process. I am looking forward to this even though I expect it to be an intense time of training.

-Though I wasn’t at church yesterday I did receive the prayer requests that were handed in on our connection cards. I keep them in my Bible and do my best to pray over them each day.

-This past week I took some time to marvel at the opportunities God is giving me to make an impact and have some influence with many people in our community. I am thrilled and humbled as I reflect on these opportunities. I am also filled with an overwhelming realization that I need God to be in control or my impact will have no meaning and my influence will be of no value. This is another reason that I know I need to pray more.

-I have received some encouraging words this past week. Some of them from people who have encouraged me in the past and one of them from someone who stepped out of their comfort zone to encourage me. Just another reminder of how powerful encouraging words can be for all of us.

Here’s hoping you seek to encourage someone this week and that in so doing you will be encouraged yourself.

 

Dennis

A Secret to get to 43 Years (#5) …

Another secret/factor to getting to 43 years of marriage is wearing the right kind of glasses. Seriously, what kind of glasses you wear has a big impact on your marriage. Think about it, what is the purpose of wearing glasses? To improve your vision. I realize that it is now trendy to wear glasses that have no power to impact your vision. But I am talking about glasses that impact, influence and even change your vision.

Several years ago, my wife and I were in a store and my wife was searching for something. While she was searching I was finding ways to entertain myself and anyone else near me. (For some reason my wife doesn’t always like for me to go shopping with her.) I saw one of those stands holding reader glasses. Those five-dollar type glasses that come in a variety of magnifications. I put on a few pair and was laughing at how goofy I looked. I put on a pair and went to find my wife to show her and get a laugh from her. After the laughs I turned to go put the glasses back and then it happened. I looked at some signs in the store. I took the glasses off and looked at the same signs. I put them back on and realized I could see letters and numbers much clearer with the glasses on. Shortly after this incident I went to an eye doctor and I have been wearing glasses ever since.

I discovered when I got my glasses that my vision had been impaired. Some things that had been blurry became clear and headaches I had learned to endure disappeared. All because I finally was wearing the right glasses.

Whether you physically wear glasses, or contacts, is not the issue to a lasting marriage. What is necessary is for you to have the right vision of your spouse and marriage. You must view your spouse accurately and I believe there should be a definite rose-colored tint to your vision. I don’t believe you should be blind to reality, but you must have a positive view of your spouse, and your marriage, to make it last.

I don’t mean that you should ignore serious issues. Issues of abuse, of anger, of abandonment and more must be addressed, change must take place and outside help is needed.

I am talking about seeing that your spouse is not perfect, focusing on the positive in them and working to improve your own issues. I am talking about not dwelling on what is irritating. Too often I see, and hear, couples complaining about things with their spouse that irritate them, which results in them missing the big picture. They complain about a toilet seat left up and ignore the faithfulness. They gripe about a less than pristine house and ignore the support they are given. They moan about all kinds of things and refuse to look at all the positives and the possibilities in their marriage.

We need to wear the right glasses in our marriage. We need to see clearly and accurately, but we must have a tint that brings our focus to the positives. We need to put on the glasses that remind us of why we were first attracted to our spouse, beyond just looks. Because looks change over time. My hair is much different than on our wedding day. I have much less of it and what I have left is a different color. My body has changed. If our marriage only lasted the length of time the looks stayed the same, we would not have come close to 43 years. For my wife, she must view me with a focus that takes many other things into consideration and I do the same.

My point of all this is that you must see your spouse clearly with focus on the positives. If you wear magnifying glasses that only see the flaws, you and your spouse will be miserable, and your marriage will not last.

What glasses are you wearing in your marriage?

 

Dennis

A Secret to get to 43 Years (#4) …

Getting to 43 years of marriage, and to have it still be loving and growing takes a lot of work. There is no magic formula and no one secret, but there are some keys and it seems many people are not aware of them. This is my effort to share some key factors, or secrets if you prefer, that have brought my wife and I to where we will be celebrating our 43rd anniversary next month.

Laughter is said to be good medicine, it is also a secret to get to 43. Where there is laughter there are happy and joyful people. Laughter is critical to get to 43, and beyond. There will be plenty of serious and difficult stuff to deal with, so laugh when you can. It could save your marriage.

I am not talking about laughing to hurt someone. I am not talking about one-sided laughter. I am talking about shared and generous laughter. I am talking about laughing and at yourself, laughing with your spouse and being okay with being laughed at on occasion.

Laughter lightens the mood in most situations. It makes you feel better. Laughter is usually contagious. When someone laughs it quite often prompts laughter from those around them. Sometimes the laughter that is created is simply laughing at the way the other person laughs. Which in turn brings more laughter.

Laughing at your spouse’s groaner of a joke, might be something that must be learned, but it can be positive. My wife has a lot of experience at responding to lame jokes and since I am a preacher, she has heard some of them many, many times.

Laughing together draws people together. Laughing together opens you up and creates an environment where it is safe to share thoughts, dreams, fears and hurts with that person. My wife often says when she is leading a group of ladies that she wants to have them share laughter and tears. When that happens, it has been a good group. But the laughter comes first.

If you want to have a marriage that get to 43, and even beyond, then you must laugh. When two people spend as much time together as it requires to have a lasting marriage, there are a lot of reasons to laugh. We do silly things we do dumb things, we get our words twisted, we forget things, and much more. All of these should produce some laughter.

The couple who laughs together seems to last together. There has been a lot of laughter in our 43 years. When our kids and grandkids gather the laughter is amped up several degrees. Each of our three kids by marriage (our in-law kids) learned very early that if they were going to join this family laughter would be required.

So, laugh a little today, or better yet, laugh a lot today. It could add years to your marriage.

 

Dennis

Monday Morning Musings …

Yesterday was a good day, but a it felt like a letdown from last Sunday, not bad, just a letdown from the previous week. As for my musings …

-Our time of singing in worship went well and the congregation was engaged.

-One of the most encouraging things in worship yesterday was seeing some of our elementary children as they worshipped. We have the children in our worship service for all, or nearly all, of the music part of worship. Then they go to their own children’s church for a bible lesson. During the music it is encouraging to watch, and listen, to the children. They get into the music and they are truly worshipping. They are a great example for the adults of pure and open worship. They are not worried about what anyone else thinks of them and they are not concerned about how they appear. They just worship. It is not unusual for our worship team to be moved to tears as they watch they children.

-Still praying for my grandson’s student visa to arrive.

-It was nice to have some cooler weather for a couple of days this weekend.

-Our attendance was very low yesterday.

-After having family with us last weekend and then having such a good worship service with great attendance, yesterday seemed like a bit of a letdown. However, there was a good spirit and people were engaged right from the beginning of the sermon.

– On Friday I had to take my vehicle to a repair shop. As I was leaving the hospital from my time as Chaplain, something happened to the front end. I had trouble steering and there was a squealing sound that was increasing with each block. Fortunately, the auto repair shop was nearby. When I got out of the vehicle I saw that the front driver’s side wheel was leaning in a lot. I am not a mechanic, but I am pretty sure something broke. Not looking forward to getting the news from the mechanic today. Good news, our other vehicle is running fine.

-Summer conditioning and open gym with the volleyball program has been very good. I am getting to know them much better. I am enjoying it and looking forward to the season this fall.

-Our Vacation Bible School props and decorations are coming along well. We have had a good group of people show up every week to help. I love how VBS is a ministry that involves many people and how they work together and get to know each other better.

-On Wednesday I will have another post in my “A Secret to get to 43 Years”. This will be the third secret/factor shared in this series of how to get to 43 years of marriage. The responses have been good up to this point. I am posting on Wednesdays for this series.

-My wife is continuing to progress from her double knee replacement. We are approaching 11 weeks since the surgery. Now that she realizes it will be 3 to 6 months (leaning toward 6 months) before they feel like her knees, she is feeling better about everything. Yesterday, a lady who had the surgery many years ago told her that it was almost a year before she felt normal. My wife is doing great and doing nearly everything she wants to do, but after a busy day she has to take it easier the next day. Those days are much better than they were a couple weeks ago, but they are reminders that there is progress to be made.

Here’s hoping you make progress this week and encourage someone else to make progress.

 

Dennis

A Secret to get to 43 Years (#2) …

A major secret/factor to get your marriage to 43 is Forgiveness. No relationship can last, let alone grow, without forgiveness. Forgiveness is much easier to write about, or talk about, than it is to live.

 

In a marriage there are many opportunities for forgiveness. There are also many opportunities for bitterness or withholding forgiveness. When we live together, spend a lot of time together and share life together there are a lot of situations that arise that can allow for being offended or hurt. Being offended or hurt demonstrates why forgiveness is critical to a lasting, loving marriage.

Forgiveness is misunderstood. It is not pretending something didn’t happen. It is admitting it happened and that is was harmful, but you are choosing to forgive. It is not saying that what happened is okay. Forgiveness says it wasn’t okay, but my love for you is greater than the hurt. Forgiveness is not the same as trust. Depending on the depth of the hurt it may take some time for trust to be restored. Forgiveness is choosing love. Forgiveness is also choosing your relationship over everything else.

We must understand that the need for forgiveness goes both directions. Both of you will need to be forgiven and both of you will need to forgive. Forgiveness is not just for the benefit of the one who caused the hurt. It is also for the one doing the forgiving. If forgiveness is not given, then the one who was hurt will become bitter. Bitterness crushes relationships and will destroy the one who is bitter.

A lasting relationship requires forgiveness.

In our 43 years there has been much forgiveness needed and much forgiveness given. If that were not true we never would have made this long.

I have heard people state that someone who have been forgiven often will begin to take advantage of the forgiving partner. I have found just the opposite to be true. When you love someone, and are committed to them and the marriage, you are devastated when you realize you have hurt them. When they forgive you, you become determined to not do things that need to be forgiven. You remember the look of hurt in your spouse’s eyes and you sense the devastation they feel in their heart and you do not want to cause that again.

Forgiveness is best understood by looking at Jesus Christ and how he forgave.

Forgiveness is something that we must continue to learn as we continue to forgive.

Many people mistakenly think that if they can still remember the hurt then they have not forgiven the other person. We remember hurts and we often have evidence of them in our life. But we must take a cue from physical hurts. I have some scars on my body. I can tell you how I got them and about the hurt when the incident occurred. But now, the scars remind me more of the healing than of the hurt. It is like that with forgiveness. As we continue to heal, as we learn more about forgiveness, our relational scars will begin to remind us of the healing more than the hurt.

Keep forgiving if you want your marriage, and your relationships to last and to grow, it is not optional.

 

Dennis

Monday Morning Musings …

Yesterday was a great day at our church and at our house. As for my musings …

-This weekend 10 or our 16 kids and grandkids were at our house. Our two daughters, both son in laws and 6 of our grandkids. The ones missing were our son, our daughter in law, and 4 of their kids. One of the grandkids who was here was our son’s oldest child. He is with us for a while as I have noted in previous posts. It was great fun. The house was full. There was a lot of movement. There was a lot of laughter and as always, there were a lot of games played. It was a wonderful Father’s Day weekend.

-Our worship service was great yesterday, except for some sound glitches while my son in law Seth was singing. We showed a couple of video’s honoring Dads, one was funny, and one was more serious. There was a good spirit in the entire service. I continued our series on relationships with a message about being an example of hope in our relationships. Our attendance was very good.

-We had a big Father’s Day breakfast at church in place of our Small Group/Sunday School classes. The food was good, and the conversations were lively.

-It was brutally hot this weekend.

-Still praying for my grandson’s Student Visa documents to arrive so that he can get back to his family for a couple of weeks before he travels to South Africa to begin his next semester of college.

-I am loving the praise reports I am receiving from people who are repairing and restoring relationships. This series on relationships seems to have made an impact on many people.

-I am planning on preaching a few messages on joy. I am observing many people who seem to have lost their joy. Or, maybe they don’t realize that they can live with joy.

-I will continue my weekly posts on “A Secret to Get to 43 Years”. Every Wednesday I am posting another secret/factor that has contributed to my wife and I getting ready to celebrate our 43rd wedding anniversary in August.

-Many prayers going up for my friend Christian, and his family, as they arrive in Raleigh, North Carolina to plant a church. Excited for them and praying often for the impact they will have in that community, and beyond.

-Yesterday was the first Father’s Day that I haven’t had my Dad around.

-I am expecting it to be hot in the weight room, and gym, this morning for volleyball conditioning.

-Continuing to pray for many people who are struggling in family relationships. As I rejoice with the praise reports I have received recently, I am aware that there are many people who still need healing in their family.

-Yesterday’s attendance was very encouraging. Even with several out of town visitors, the number of people was encouraging.

-Personally, it was nice to have so much of my family in worship yesterday. We don’t get to do that very often.

-I am wrestling with some great opportunities that have come my way recently. I need to be wiser on how many things I commit to at one time. I am seeking to do a better job of moving more people into these opportunities and becoming their champion rather than trying to do so much myself.

-There were many things that encouraged me this weekend.

Here’s hoping you find encouragement in some unexpected places this week.

 

Dennis

A Secret to getting to 43 Years …

As I shared in my post on Friday, there is no “one” secret to get to 43 years of marriage, and especially 43 years of a loving and still growing marriage. But there are some key factors, or secrets if you prefer, that can get you to 43, or 33, or 23, or 13 or to whatever is your next milestone. These factors/secrets may be able to restore a vibrancy to a passive marriage. They might be able to repair a wounded marriage. They maybe able to begin resurrecting a seemingly dead marriage. Or, they maybe able to give you some guidance as you begin a marriage.

For us, we will reach 43 in a few weeks, there has been some trial and error to get to this point. My hope is that some of what we have learned might help you, or someone you know.

So, here goes …

Commitment – no surprise with this factor/secret. We all knowingly nod our heads and say “Of course”. We all acknowledge that it takes commitment to make it 43 years, or even 13 years. What we too often miss is that commitment is simply a concept, the real issue is to act on that commitment. Many athletes say they are committed to win, but will they do the work in practice and offseason to win. That is when you move from the concept of commitment and begin to live the commitment. Many of us say we are committed to get in better physical condition and lose some weight, but how many of us follow through and do the work for more than a week.

Active commitment is not simply gritting your teeth and muttering “no matter what stupid thing he/she does I am going to stick it out”. Active commitment goes way beyond this level of hanging on in spite of your spouse.

Active commitment is being committed to the other person. Committed to loving them, no matter what circumstances come your way. It is being so committed to loving them that you choose not to get offended easily, because you love them too much to let an offense be a deal breaker. It is being committed to them and learning to love them. I loved my wife when we got married, but I didn’t know how to love her very well. I know her so much better now than I did when we said, “I do”. That knowledge helps me to lover her better than I did in the beginning.

Active commitment is being committed to having the best marriage you can possibly have. Your spouse has flaws, and you have flaws. We must remember that our spouse must deal with our flaws while we are dealing with theirs. In my case I am aware that my wife has a lot more to deal with because I have a lot more flaws than she does. Active commitment is understanding we are not perfect, but that we can have a good, very good, great or awesome marriage even with our flaws.

Active commitment means being committed to Christ first. I am a believer in, and follower of, Jesus Christ. My first commitment is to Christ. That commitment lifts my marriage as well. Because a follower of Christ loves and loves with the love of Christ, that includes in our marriage. As a follower of Christ, I know that means that my marriage and my relationship with my spouse is a big deal and that giving up on it is not to focused on.

Active commitment means being committed to those impacted by my marriage. That means my children. That means the spouses of my children. That means my grandchildren. That means my in-laws. I must consider that what impacts my marriage impacts all of them as well. My wife comes before all of them, but because of my commitment to her all of them matter and I must be committed to all the others as well.

How is your commitment? I am not asking if you say that you are committed to the marriage and to your spouse. I am asking if your commitment is active? Does your spouse know you are committed by how you act and what you say? Do the others who are impacted by your marriage know that you are actively committed?

If you want to have a marriage that lasts and grows, you must be actively committed.

 

Dennis