Reset, Reflect, Refocus

Welcome to 2017.  I know I’m a few days late, and it’s been a while since I’ve posted.  I’m looking forward to this year being a year of amazing things.  2016 was a 2016 of a year, but like all the years that came before it, it had its ups and downs.  It’s all in how you want to look at the year you just left and the year you are going into.  We are 9 days in as of today, and if you are reading this, guess what, you are alive and have the internet.

I challenge all of you reading this to change YOU this year.  You are the only thing that YOU can control.  I titled this post: Reset, Reflect, Refocus for this main reason, we are 9 days into the year, and many of us have already forgotten the resolutions that we made, or didn’t make, or life has been life already these 9 days in.  So my challenge to you is to wake up everyday and reset your mind again.  Wake up with the attitude that today is gonna be a good day.

Reflect every night and everyday about what God did for you during that day and the day before.  Can’t think of anything?  Are you somewhere warm and dry?  Did you eat?  Did you find a parking spot at the mall?  Look back not only on the previous day, but on your previous days, months, years.  Look back at your history book with God.  The last time your electric was about to be shut off but wasn’t, the last time your car was running on fumes and you coasted into the gas station, the last time you were in the drive through and the person in front of you paid for your meal.  When was the last time you did something for someone else?  God, provides for us, not because we give to those we don’t know, not because we deserve it, not because of our actions, not because we are or aren’t “good” enough.  God provides for us, because he loves us.

As we start out this year refocusing on what is actually important, we can make the best out of our lives and situations.  Refocus your life, and check your priorities.  Make sure that you know why you are doing what you are doing, and that you haven’t just become a cold machine, that goes through the motions of life.  Look back on what you have been through, and figure out what you are going to let God do to improve the life’s of those that love you, and those that don’t even know you yet, through you.

Sometimes life is about taking the sourest lemons life has to offer and making something resembling lemonade…

Married Mondays — Communication is Key

communication

[kuh-myoo-ni-key-shuh n]
noun
1.the act or process of communicating; fact of being communicated.
2.the imparting orinterchangeof thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs.
3.something imparted, interchanged, or transmitted.

hearing

 [heer-ing]
noun
1.the faculty or sense by which sound is perceived.
2.the act of perceiving sound.

listen

[lisuh n]
verb (used without object)
1.to give attention with the ear; attend closely for the purpose of hearing; give ear.
2.to pay attention; heed; obey
This week, I wanted to touch on something that I have been hinting out the past couple weeks.  One of the things that I feel give my wife and I a successful marriage is that we communicate with each other.  Communication, true communication is back and forth.  It is listening, and then responding.  You cannot respond properly if you haven’t listened to everything that is being said.
Now let’s be honest, the women in our lives will use words that we don’t understand and will say things in ways that we have to really pay attention.  Listen to her words, watch her actions, listen to her voice.  Does this look ok? and Does this LOOK ok? and How do I look? are not the same question, and an answer with the word fine, does not mean the same either.  It comes down to knowing the question that was asked versus the question you think was asked.  My wife had a co-worker at one time that would always answer that they thought they heard in the most intellectual way possible.  A simple question about the time could turn into a story about Swiss watch makers, and 15 minutes later you still didn’t know what time it was.
It comes down also to sometimes she is just going to need you to listen.  Sometimes you just need your spouse to listen to you.  I have always struggled with trying to find the answer or resolution half way through the story.  I’m planning my response not as a rebuttal to conversation, but as a way to work something out.  Guys STOP do this.  There are going to be things that we can’t fix.  There are going to be things that are going out that you don’t want a certain level of detail on.  When you are there as the ear to listen, the hand to hold, and the shoulder to support, sometimes that is all they need.  They don’t always need you to fix it.  Be there, be present, be a listener.  Some times they do want you to take action, just not always right then.
The other factor into all of this is vocabulary.  I included the definition of the work hear as well as listen, but I’ve been very careful not to use hear in this.  Hearing is only receiving the sounds, we hear the keys of the keyboard, we hear cars outside, we hear someone at the door.  We listen to music, we listen to our children, families, and spouses.  You also know over time what the proper vocabulary is for whatever mood you are both in.  As time goes on you learn when to just shut up and let them vent or stew.  Just make sure that you are there for all parts of the communication process.
Take this week, and again as I have said before, put the phone away, put down the game controller, put the computer away, wrap your arms around your loved one.  Ask them about their day, and be truly interested.

Married Mondays – No Mulligans

Over the past couple weeks I have heard so many people talking about time and how no matter what we can’t get it back.  We all have the same number of hours every day, we all get 24 hours each day.  It’s what we do with this time everyday that matters.

“Time is free, but it is priceless.

You can’t own it, but you can use it.

You can’t keep time, but you can spend it.

Once you’ve lost it,

you can never get it back.”

–Harvey McKay

Recently at our church in Kentucky and in Ohio we had a series backed up by secular movies.  The weeks that involved time used Interstellar and About Time.  Both were focusing on trying to do things differently and trying to change your past.  We don’t get that chance.  We can’t go back in time and change our decisions.  We can only make the most of the time that we have right now, and what we can do differently going forward.  We have to value the time that we have with our family, our loved ones, our friends.

A couple of the most interesting things that I have heard about our time these past few weeks have been that it’s a bank.  We must invest into others lives, before we withdraw too much from them.  We have to be careful how we withdraw from others lives, and make sure that we have invested properly into this bank.  We get out of people what we put into them.

The other example was around a man putting gum balls in a jar that equaled the number of days between then and when his son would go off to college.  Every day he removed one knowing that it was one day that he could never get back with his son.  Our pastor in Ohio took this a step further and placed gum balls in a jar for every year between now and when he would be 76 – The average age of a man in the United States when he dies.  Yes, this seems morbid, but put it into perspective how much longer you have with your loved ones.  I want to take this a step further, the average age of women at death is estimated at around 81.  How many gum balls do you have left with your spouse?  How many gum balls do you have left before your kid or kids go off to college?  How many gum balls do you have left with your parents?

I want to leave you with this challenge this week.  Shut up and listen.  Stop focusing on what you have to do tomorrow or next week.  Focus on what you can do with your family today.  Focus on what you can do as a family tonight.  Spend this week going just a little slower and looking at what you have around you.  We are now in the fall, leaves are changing, day light doesn’t last as long, find a spot to look at the trees or look at the stars.  Look at the beauty in the world around you.  Invest in the lives of your loved ones, invest in the lives of your friends, invest in the lives of those that you come across every day.  Do something for someone else, give the server at the restaurant a compliment along with that tip, pay for the person behind you in the drive through, Turn off you work brain at the end of the day.  I have to admit that I’m a fan of the new Hyundai commercial that says “When did leaving work on time become a badge of courage?”  Leave work at work, focus on what is right in front of you.  You cannot get time back that you miss out on with your family.  Your child only takes their first steps once.  There is only one first time for anything.

Take a look at this video, and have a great week.

Married Mondays – Edition One

For the last few weeks I’ve been thinking through starting this series, so here it goes.

Married Mondays First Edition

Look I’m not a counselor, I’m not a specialist, I’m no expert.  I’m a married man, with a kid, and full-time job.  I have to make time for my family and life.

I wanted to take this first post and talk about marriage and being there for your wife.

Guys listen, once you get married life changes.  You are no longer a bachelor.  You are responsible for more than just you now.  I’ve talked before about one of the easiest things to do is to say you would die for someone, It’s the long time saying and heroic thing to do, but 99% of the time you’ll never have to do it.  What matters more is that you are willing to do the dishes for her.  You are willing to put her first, make her take a break, and you do the chores around the house that you hate to do.  Also face it, you’re not just you anymore.  Yes, you can go hang out with the boys, but don’t neglect her.  Make sure she is getting more attention than your buddies or your video games.

Look we all hear the stories of he/she really let themselves go after they got married.  Guys, you put in the effort while you were dating and engaged,  Why does that have to stop now that your married?  Your wife wants you to be the man she fell in love with.  I know stuff gets in the way and keeps us from doing other things, but come on at least make an effort.

Take your wife out on a date.  Date nights become a memory if you don’t keep them up after your married for a while.  You get stuck in the mundane tasks of life and get stuck in your routines.  Make it a priority to go out just the two of you.  And let me add, SET THE PHONE DOWN.  We spend too much time thinking about that next post, tweet, selfie, or whatever and don’t focus on the one that is right in front of us.

Spend quality time together.  As life goes on, it will be more about the quality of the time you get together than the quantity of time you get together.  You may only get a few hours of true time together each day, but make the most of it.  Make sure that you are communicating.  Talk, Listen, and Hear.  Talk to her, tell her about your day, tell her what is bothering you at work.  Listen to her, listen to the details of what she is sharing with you.  Hear what she is and is not saying.  Let’s face it guys, we need to all make sure that we hear what she is NOT saying.  Ladies we aren’t mind readers, we try to figure you all out, but throw us a bone here.  Some of us are doing the best that we can.  Guys in all seriousness, it is this communication that we as humans long for. Communication is what will build and strengthen your relationships.

My challenge to you this week – Take your wife on a date.  It doesn’t even have to be a night out.  Do something that you did when you were dating, grab some take out and watch a movie.  The other challenge for this week is to take 20 minutes a day and talk to your wife.  It doesn’t matter if it’s just about what was involved in each of your days, or about how much you love her and love being with her.  Talk, be genuine, be open, be the man that she fell in love with.  It doesn’t matter if you have been together for years, weeks, or months.  Work on these things and become closer to each other.