Like Time Stands Still…

In my garage I have a poster sized picture  that is approximately 24 years old.  It is a photo of a beautiful college girl sitting in the surf on the  Pensacola beach.  She is smiling at the camera and there is a sparkle in her eye.

The other day my wife asked me if I miss seeing that girl.  I told her that I still see her every morning when I leave for work, and every evening when I go to bed.  She still smiles at me that same way, and I still love the sparkle in her eye.

24 years may have passed (maybe 23, I know it is somewhere in there), but that young girl who became my wife is still the woman of my dreams.  Today is her birthday, and though years have passed, when I look at her, time has stood still.

I read once that a man should look at his wife and remember her as the love of his youth.  They say that keeps the passion and the fun of life alive and builds a marriage that stays vibrant and interesting.  I can’t say that is a bad idea, and on the surface, I think it makes sense, but I am afraid that way of thinking lacks a little something.

My wife and I will have been married for 23 years next month on August 20, 2017.  I have met many people who have been married longer than that, but I am also very aware that unfortunately once you hit the double decade mark, you are in a drastically dwindling crowd.  Being in that minority kind of allows me a position of authority in speaking on marital matters!

My wife is an amazing woman.  She is sweet, kind, and wonderful in so many ways.  She still smiles at me with that sparkle in her eye, and I can’t help but love that girl there.  She’s more though. So much more.

At times there is a tiredness in that eye as well.  There are pressures she feels that try to dim that sparkle and tug down the corners of that smile.  The surf that gave her so much joy is sometimes now a few baskets of laundry needing to be folded.  The sun on her face is replaced by a lamp at her desk as she works dutifully on helping her kids with their college schedules.  Time marches on, and if we focus on the march, we miss something.

I know years have passed, but that girl is still there.  I saw her at breakfast yesterday when we joked about a whisker I had growing out of a freckle on my cheek. She laughed and I saw all of the “stuff” of life roll off her for a moment.  There she was again.  My girl was right there.

I see her every day, even the days she doesn’t see herself.   I should probably tell her more that I am seeing her in the moment.  Maybe if I did, she would see that girl more too.

Well, today’s her birthday, and we have plans to go out as a family and have a good time.  I’m excited about it, and if all goes well, we will go to the beach.  Maybe I can get another pic of my girl sitting in the surf on a sunny day.  I don’t really need it though. She is right there in my mind each and every day.

Happy Birthday to the love of my life.  The woman I am still Relentlessly pursuing and working at loving her as Christ said I should.  Tammi, time may move on, and we are not immune to the effects of it, but for you, time has stood still.  You are so precious to me, and even more so when I can take that young girl, sitting in the surf and mix her with the woman still with me after 23 years of marriage.  I think it makes everything more powerful and real.

You are the love of my youth, my now not-so-very-much-of-my-youth-as-I-would-like, and the rest of my life as well.  You have made time stand still for me, and I love you for it.  I hope you have a very happy birthday

I love you! You are God’s best gift to me on earth!

Tom

 

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Happy Birthday, Babe!

13576829_10209726198062742_3651700631496807898_oYou know what day it is?  It is my wife’s Birthday!  Last year I did a list of reasons I love my wife that had an arbitrary total of 44 reasons. You can read that list here.  I have chosen not to do a list again this year, opting instead to just add an item to it.  It’s not that I can’t come up with, O, let’s pick another random number like 45 reasons I love her.  I could.  Easily!  I just want to focus on this item I am adding to that list from a year ago.

45. We are going to rock the next chapter of our lives.

Yep. I said it.  We are going to be that amazing couple people look at whose children have gone to college and are just walking through life without a care in the world and the world on a string.  We will have people asking what our secret is and how they can be more like us.  Who knows, we might get asked to write a book, do lectures, and even host a theme cruise because we just have it all figured out!

*SNORT*

I don’t think we are going to see things at that extreme, but I think we are going to be pretty awesome in this next stage.  There might some people who want to learn from us who feel like we do have it all figured out, but they will be wrong.  That’s OK.  We know it, and we aren’t afraid to show it.

So, I want to speak to my wife for a moment now.  Please silence your cell phones and try not to leave your seat or cause a disturbance.  I do allow flash photography, but politely request that you refrain from shouting out suggested poses.  This is a serious moment.

Tammi,

We have known each other a long time – seriously it is like 32 years or so. That is insane!  In all of those years we have grown to know each other very well.  We have seen each other at our best and at our worst.  Tears have been shed in fear, grief, pain, happiness, joy, and sometimes because it was a Tuesday.

So many memories, and I treasure them all because they tell a story. It’s a beautiful story about two people who fell in love with no idea they were in the shallow end of the pool.

Today is your birthday, and I want you to know that as crazy as I was about that young(er) lady who walked down the aisle almost 22 years ago, I am so much more head over heels with the young lady I am still married to today!

As the years have gone by, I have watched you try new things and succeed, and try things that did not, but in all of them I saw your excitement over something new and unexplored.  It’s just like when we say it is time to choose a vacation spot.  For you, getting ready to start getting there is more than half the fun!

We are getting ready for another adventure as we take Jess to college in a month.  I know it is going to be hard on you while at the same time you are so excited for her.  I’m just going to be a mess for all of us.

Life is changing, and so are we.  I’m thankful that we are going to do it together.  I will get to be there with you every year that you have a birthday but get no older (Really. It’s not even fair!).  I’m thankful that I get to see you get excited, experience things, and then learn from them.  I get to be a part of your life.

13690941_10209850451529001_594576326055113612_oI say every year that I got the gift the day you were born, and it is true.  What I am also seeing now is that the years that are passing by are taking us to a place where we have not been hoping for, but have been preparing for.  We knew an empty nest would happen and that it would bring a sadness with it, but we also knew it would bring new opportunities to use the things we have learned.

Where is that going to be?  Not sure.  I just know that whatever we do, it is going to be awesome, and that is why the completely arbitrary 45th reason I love you is that we are going to absolutely rock this next chapter of life!

I love you, Babe!  You are the best!

Tom

Fly Like An Eagle

1511951_10207282273833590_389422727167795125_o-2It’s been almost a month since I last sat down to write a post.  Not sure how many people have missed me, but I am back!  I want to start his one off by introducing a guest writer – my wonderful and amazing wife, Tammi!

This past week, Tammi had the opportunity to go and see a rehabilitated bald eagle be released back into the wild.  Here were her thoughts as posted on her Facebook page.  They were so good, I just had to share them with you:

“Today Jessica and I had the opportunity to watch an adult bald eagle, that had been injured by being caught in a coyote trap, released back into the wild. It was one of the neatest things to watch, and as he soared freely high above us (he took right off happy to be free), my eyes teared up.

They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with with wings like eagles…” Isaiah 40:31

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It was a real life example of this verse. He needed three weeks of rehab to heal his foot, but after being strengthened by rest and food provided for him, he soared as God intended him to do. Just as God intends for us to soar, sometimes we need to wait and rest in Him. Let Him take care of you for a little while. Then, you will soar.”

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Why It Is Important to Keep A Woman In Her Place

Ok.  With a title like that, I will give everyone a moment to find their seats and make sure they have all the tools they need for getting through this blog post.  Let’s see, pitchforks? Check.  Torches? Check.  Rope? Check. Concrete galoshes? Check.  Ok.  Is everyone in their preferred seat on opposing sides of the room? Everyone ready to comment with venom if I don’t take your position?  Good.  Then let’s get down to it.

Over the last couple of days, I have been seeing a couple of pictures hit my social media feeds over and over gain.  I will not single anyone out and if you posted either of them, let me assure you, I am not picking on you or your situation.  In truth, as I have been seeing these two pictures, I have had one recurring thought, “My heart hurts for these people,”  Most of the time I have seen the pictures, I know that they are experiencing something difficult, and no matter how hard we try, our hurt “leaks” from time to time.  I get that.  I don’t judge it.  I just wish I could stop the pain.

So, here are the two pictures, and then I will say my piece.  Good, I see the fire is lit under the vat of oil.  This post will be a long one, but it should be boiling by the time I am done…

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Ok.  Anyone need to switch sides yet?  I’ll give you a minute to do so.  Ready?  Ok.  Let’s get back into this!  Both of these are wrong.  Pure and simple.  *scanning the crowd*  If everyone will keep your seat, I will take a few moments to explain.

The Plan

When God made man, He gave him something to do, gave him some instructions, and then put him to work.  It wasn’t very long at all before God looked at Adam and decided that he was lacking something.  He was not complete.  This isn’t saying God made a mistake.  It is the Creator looking at His most beloved creation and saying, “It’s just not done yet. He needs something more that will bring him that special thing he needs.”

So, he put Adam to sleep and took a rib from his side and made Eve, the first woman. Adam was understandably impressed and appreciative of this new development and responded appropriately by stating that the woman was flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone because she was part of himself – in this case, literally!  God did not create a new creature, he finished the creation by bringing woman out of man.

The Fall

Everything went south in chapter three of Genesis.  There are many who like to say that Eve messed up by eating the fruit.  I disagree.  I think this has been one of the principal errors in understanding the male and female relationship throughout history. Somewhere along the line, it was decided that woman messed up and man had to pay for it.  Ludicrous!  Absolutely ridiculous!  The Bible tells us that Adam was RIGHT THERE WITH HER the whole time the serpent was talking!  What in the world was happening that he did not step in and do something? he took a passive approach to the situation and did not help his helper.

A snake starts talking to his wife and tells her to break one of the two rules she and her husband were given by the God that they had the chance to walk with every day in the garden and Adam says nothing!  Men, this is where the Fall took place.  This is where man let woman down.  Period.  As a result of this sin, they are banished from the garden and this struggle between man and woman begins.  Some people think that God cursed woman at this point and put her in her place, but I believe He was just telling her what was going to happen.  Man would blame woman for his problems, and woman was going to suffer for it because he didn’t step up and do right when she needed him to do it.

The Result

We now live in a world where people are pretty polarized.  For centuries in most cultures, women have taken a back-seat role in all aspects.  Equal rights for women is still a pretty fresh concept in our history not only as a country, but as a planet!  It is a struggle for women to get the respect they deserve for being the people they are.  The atrocities that take place against women every single day are disgusting and should bring us to tears.  As a result, there are many women who hurt so deeply and have been put in a position that they may never trust a man again.  Whose fault is that?  Well, guys.  I won’t lie.  It is primarily the fault of man for getting that ball rolling.  Now we have small groups of women that are so angry that they just refuse to show respect any man.

I’m not going to take a Rush Limbaugh stand and speak rudely about women.  They don’t deserve it.  My view on feminism is simply this:  It never should have been considered as necessary.  It is the result of men not knowing how to keep a woman in her proper place. (Before anyone gets upset, please keep reading. I promise, it’s not as bad as it sounds.) Now she feels the weight of man and bristles at it, wants to get away from it, and prove that she never needed it or him in the first place.  Honestly, why wouldn’t she? So, how do we put her where she should be?

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I’m going to tell you how I think this can be fixed.  I have consulted with my wife of 21 years, and I know she agrees with me on it.  Neither she or I think I get it right every time, but we do agree that this is the way to get it done.  We go back to the original plan.

Man was not complete.  He needed help, and God gave him a helper out of himself.  Adam recognized that.  The problem was, he blew it, and we repeat his mistake. I repeat his mistake! However, I want to do better, and as I think about this, I believe God had a purpose in picking a rib as the part necessary to complete man.

  • A rib gives protection to the internal organs.  Important things that keep a man healthy!  Men tend to be a bit abrasive or hard on the outside, but underneath all of that, we are vulnerable.  Just like a rib protects vulnerable organs, my wife is God’s gift to me for protecting and helping me process the feelings I have that I hold inside.  She’s good at it!  Much better than I could ever be on my own.
  • A rib is sturdy, but flexible.  Ribs absorb things that would injure internal organs.  They don’t just snap.  There are too many times that I will do something foolish that brings trouble into our lives.  Where I would be more harsh and possible lash out, my wife is able to absorb it all, protect me from myself, and carry on.  The thing to remember is that when a rib receives a hard blow and is bruised, cracked, or broken, it can bring extreme discomfort until a healing takes place.

The same is true with me and my wife.  When she absorbs something bad (whether or not I am the cause), the pain will linger until a healing takes place.  Time heals things, but open, honest, loving communication works faster.  It is vital to the healing. It is up to ME to notice that my wife is voicing her discomfort, and not take it as nagging, but as a reminder that she is experiencing a pain that I possibly caused.  I need to take care of her to promote the healing in the relationship.  How smart would a person be to not take care of a rib that is hurting?  The same applies here.

  • A rib is at the side of a man.  You don’t see ribs protruding from the front or the back of a skull.  Why?  Because they don’t belong there!  If your skull was made up of bones like ribs you would really be at a disadvantage in life!  They aren’t under foot either.  They would not serve a purpose there. To function as they should, they should be at the side.

I believe God used the rib to remind man that the best place for woman is at his side.  If she is out in front of him, he is not able to be there for her the way he should. My wife is the most important person in my life, and I like to have her beside me so I can protect her.  That doesn’t mean she is weak.  It means she is precious to me.  I want her with me so I can take care of her when she needs to be cared for, and take the physical hit if necessary.

If my wife is behind me, I can’t see her, maybe I can’t even hear her.  She might see something that could cause me harm, but the distance and location make it difficult to communicate the danger.  I can’t see her, so my ability to be there for her if she needs me is also diminished.

God also didn’t plan for me to have my wife stepped on by me.  She is of value and should not be dismissed as the equivalent of a floor surface. She should be held close, in a place of honor.

I want my wife at my side.  I want her to feel loved, appreciated, and cared for.  Men, that’s what we are supposed to do!  She is not there to make our lives easier, but to make us complete.  To complete us in our weaker areas and shore us up, as we are supposed to do for them.  We are to be one flesh and one bone.  Yes, we have two minds, but they should be tuned toward the needs of the other – SELFLESSLY.  That is where the relationship can thrive.  When my wife is at my side I hear her counsel, I can protect her from danger, she can protect me from my own mistakes, we can grow as God intended.  That’s good for both of us, and that is why it is important to keep your wife where she belongs!

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This was a loooong time ago!

I’m not perfect, and my wife can tell you that!  I mess this up more than I want to admit, but it is my Relentless desire to honor God’s plan for how my wife and I should interact.  We do that by staying close, complimenting each other in our strengths and shielding each other in our weaknesses.

I’m not saying that 21 years of marriage gives me the authority to tell people how to live their marriages out, but I am certain that what we work towards in how we relate to each other works.  We have bumpy spots because we are human, but time and again, we have seen how sticking to the plan works and draws us closer.  As we work through things together and share our ideas and our hearts, we build into each other.  My wife is a brilliant woman, and gifted in so many ways, why wouldn’t I want her building into me?

10534681_10204206015501628_1184979595712247813_nSo, here at the end of this post, I hope my point is made.  We can joke about the differences in our gender, and many of those jokes are funny because they are true, but let’s remember that God’s plan was a symbiotic relationship where we each care for the other in the way that they need to be cared for.  It is sad how it all got messed up.

Ladies, no disrespect was intended or directed to you in this.  I hope that message came through clearly.  If it didn’t, blame me.  Just know that I am not perfect, I am in process, and when it comes to being the perfect husband, my wife can tell you that I am not here, but I am trying.  Sometimes VERY trying!

Men, if you can accept the challenge to be the man God created you to be, you might be surprised to see how God can work to bring you and your wife closer together.  So, what’s stopping you?

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Tammi’s Birthday List

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Who couldn’t love that smile?

Well, I know it is not considered proper to announce the age of a lady, so I will not do that. On this, my wife’s birthday, I am simply going to choose to list 44 reasons why I love my wife. If you read anything into that, it’s on you. I am innocent of any type of skullduggery. Well, here goes!

44. The best-tasting roast beef to ever come out of a crock-pot.
43. My vitamin container would never be full.
42. All the opportunities I have had to do home renovation!
41. The roll of her eyes when I tell a bad joke. (Because I am sure she loves all the jokes and is simply feigning disgust in hopes that I will continue to fill her life with laughter.)
40. She exposed me to Downton Abbey, and she was right!
39. Her beautiful brown eyes that just make my heart melt.
38. The way she says “bagel”. She thinks I make fun of her, but it’s cute.
37. Her eye for design in our house. She is amazing.
36. Her “happy dance” when she is excited about something.
35. The way she takes care of people when she sees a need.
34. Her organizational abilities. (Really, people. She is worth hiring to come into your home and help you with this stuff. You should see her sock drawer!)
33. The joy she shows when taking pictures and recording the memories of our family trips and events.
32. Her planning skills for vacations. (We do a good job together on this one, but she is Awesome!)
31. The joy that just poured out of her when she told me we were going to have our kids.
30. Her sacrificial spirit when it comes to our family.
29. That she only likes the red jellybeans.
28. Scheduling. (Seriously, It’s like there is a gene or a gland or something that I don’t have and she has one bigger than my fist!)
27. She trusts me.
26. The way she laughs when you even mention the movie “Old Dogs.”
25. Her forgiving heart.
24. She went out with me for the first time 24 years ago in September.
23. Her mutual agreement that we do not play board games due to the inherent family dysfunction they bring into a family of first-born type personalities.
22. Without her I would never have known the importance of a bed skirt – maybe not even the definition…
21. 21 years of marriage next month
20. Chicken Parmesan in the crock-pot. Yep. That good!
19. The way she dreams with me about our future, our home, and our plans.
18. Her forgiving spirit.
17. Her desire to grow in Christ.
16. She gave me two great kids
15. She shows me unconditional love and support.
14. Her “pushes” to get me out of my comfort zone and do new things. (Disclaimer: This should not be viewed as a free pass to gut my closet or anything else.)
13. How she doesn’t rub my nose it when I am wrong. (+95% of the time, and I probably deserve it about +99% of the time!)
12. Late night talks that end with us just falling asleep without knowing it. (Maybe that’s not a good thing on my part…)
11. The way she just fits in my arms.
10. Her laugh.
9. The respect she gives me.
8. The way she lets me take care of her.
7. That she brings me breakfast at work from time to time.
6. She agreed to be my wife.
5. All the time we have spent and will spend working together on projects.
4. She is generous.
3. She is a hard worker.
2. She loves me.
1. She is my best friend.

 
Of all the items on this list, that last one is probably the reason that we are so happy together. She is an amazing lady, and this list just scratches the tip of the iceberg that is Tammi. I’m a blessed man to be sure.

keep-calm-happy-birthday-babe-i-love-youTammi, I wish you the happiest of birthdays, and with all the craziness of life right now, I want you to know that I love you very much, and I cannot begin to tell you the joy you fill me with. If it were not for you, your support, and your love, I would probably not be what I am today.

They say that for every good man, there is a good woman behind him. Well, if I’m a good man, it is because you are at my side where God intended you to be as we journey life together. Having you there allows us to be in tight relationship and helps us stay on the same page – even if I have to have you help me read the big words!

This year, I pray that God will bless you in many ways. That He will show Himself strong to you, that your trust in Him would grow easily, and your comfort in Him will be complete. I’m glad that as we walk, our Relentless desire is to grow closer together as we grow closer to Him.

Happy Birthday, Babe! I love you!

Hands and Heart – Part 2

unnamedI guess when I posted the first part of this blog, most people would have rightly assumed that the second part would come next.  Sorry about that, but as a loyal reader, you are now being rewarded for your patience with me!

For those of you who are on Facebook, you have probably seen a few posts from your friends using the Timehop app.  Timehop is an app that accesses your Facebook and Twitter feeds to bring up the things that you posted on the present day in history.  It is a nice little window into what you may have been thinking about, sharing with others, or in the case of many, the pictures of what you ate.

A couple of days ago my Timehop hit on a post from 5 years ago.  It was a Facebook post where I mentioned a trip I had to take down to Big Rapids to meet with my District Manager and Zone Manager with Kellogg’s.  It was not a good meeting.  In that meeting I was cut apart, had my character questioned, and was told that I was not a good employee.  They had all kinds of papers and charts to show how their numbers proved it, but many of those numbers were twisted and out of context to the point that they were terribly untrue.  The problem was, I was not in the position to make the rules.  I left that meeting on probation.

On my drive home that day I remember battling feelings of depression, anger, doubt, and fear.  I needed this job.  It was a good job, and if I had been allowed to run it the way that my customers were asking me to do things, I could have been very successful at it for them, the company and for myself.  The problem was, I didn’t make the rules, and I was not honest enough with myself to admit that I felt miserable in that job.  By the time I got home I had closed my fist as tightly as possible around the false security of that job though.  I refused to let go.

I went to work with a renewed vigor and did whatever it took to meet the demands that had been placed on me.  They were unrealistic and required me to work as many as 16 hours a day at times.  I decided it was worth it though.  It was something I refused to let go of.  I put myself in a position where I was unwilling to look at anything other than what I wanted, and that was to hold that job.

Over the next several weeks I will probably share some more of how God took me through the process of His opening my hand.  It will be a bittersweet journey for me.  I don’t like to remember the pain, but I do enjoy looking back and seeing how God worked things out and brought me to a better place.

The journey taught me the importance of letting God have access to what is in my hands.  I could close them like a fist and keep things, or I could open them to His purposes and see what He wanted to do.  It sounds easier than it is.  I felt like after God opened my hands through losing that job I was pretty much all set.  When you have had your hands opened up like I did, you are reluctant to hold tight again any time soon.

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The problem was that I didn’t open up all the way.  I had a couple fingers that were still closed.  They couldn’t hold much, but in my heart I was still hanging onto things that I didn’t want God to have.  Some of them were just things I was unwilling to trust Him to handle.  Did I think He couldn’t? No.  I just wanted that feeling of control in an environment where I had almost none.  I had so much taken from me in a short period of time, and I had such a tenuous grip on the rest that I was living in fear.

I was blessed to have a supportive wife who built into me and was also an example for me as we went through that time.  Through her, I saw an openhanded example, and while it took me a lot longer to grasp it, I believe that she was the one that planted that seed.

I also had a mentor and some friends who showed me how they lived an openhanded life, and as I spent more time with them and in my Bible I began to come face to face with the fact that I was still living a selfish life.  I didn’t have as many things to be selfish about, but I was clinging to what I had left!   Funny to think that I was hanging on to things so hard even then.

Over the last year I have learned that the key to joy in the Christian life is in the simple phrase “Thy will be done.”  When I give myself  over to what God wants, open my hands to whatever He deems right to put there, allow Him to remove the things that should be gone, I will be a happier person.  It might be painful at times, but the result has always proven to be better for me.

Relentless Growth is living in the pursuit of a relationship with God. The way to do that is to approach Him with a humble, open spirit, willing to accept what He has for your life.  It is a willingness to ask God to give me the desires of my heart that are in line with what He wants for me.  A willingness to accept what might feel hard for a time in order to receive a blessing over time.

Relentless Living requires open hands and an open heart.  I know I still stumble in this, but I have some great people that help me in it, and God keeps showing me opportunities to grow.

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A Very Good Thing

10534681_10204206015501628_1184979595712247813_nHe who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord. – Proverbs 18:22

Last night my wife and I did something we have not done in a few years.  We got supper and drove out to Old Mission Peninsula Park and enjoyed our supper on the beach.  This is something we did when we first started dating, and it became a tradition that at some point each summer we would make the trek.  Usually the dinner consisted of pizza from a shop on the way.

Tammi suggested we get Grand Traverse Pie Company for supper this time, and with the promise of pie, she knew she had me in the bag.  Unfortunately, without my knowledge, there was also a pickle in my bag, and my sandwich was soaked with that nasty flavor. (Sorry, not a pickle lover. Never have been and never will be…).  I guess it showed that we were a little rusty from not doing this for a few years.

The best part of the trip was just hanging out with my wife and talking.  Life has been too busy lately, and while we each hate that it happens, we get a little drawn apart.  It was good to have some time to talk about what has been going on in our heads, catch up with each other’s hearts, and do a little dreaming together.  That is something we have always done well together, but lately conversation has primarily been about the daily functions and necessary downloads of schedules and pertinent information to the next 24 hour period.

I am hoping for some more good time like this in the next week as our kids are at camp.  We miss having them around (I have to do the horses in the mornings), but it is good practice for remembering what it was like when it was just us (no horses) before kids (no horses).  I am glad to say that I am not worried about it.  When God gave me my wife, He definitely gave me to good thing that I needed.

Through our years together I have grown because of her in many ways.  I have my own reasons for wanting to grow in God, but one of them is my desire to be the man that she deserves.  Just in being my wife she makes me want to be a better husband.  I fail sometimes (please do not approach her for statistics), but I know that I am better in most ways than I was almost 20 years ago.

So, I just wanted to share how blessed I am feeling today to have this wonderful lady in my life.  Have a great rest of the weekend!

PS – The horses are not that bad.  At least when they let me catch them…

Relentless Growth -> Grow Deep -> Grow Strong

 

Press On!

keep-pressing-onWow. It’s been a whole year since I put up this post about turning 40. I turned 41 today. Again, wow! I am constantly surprised at the way time seems to speed up as the years go by. I look in the mirror and see so much gray hair on my head (at least I still have hair) and in my beard. I look at my little kids and see a young lady that will graduate a year from now and a young man that just keeps getting bigger and stronger. Where did those little toothless cuties go?
I said last year that I wanted to finish well. I still do. There are a lot of things that I have been thinking about, dreaming about, and working on. This last year seems to have been fairly pivotal in that regard. I’m not saying that I have made all the necessary changes or that the work here is complete, but there seems to be much more going on, and the directions are becoming a little clearer.
This year has been a year of growth in a lot of aspects, and I am seeing some of the stuff that I have been working toward (and have been frustrated by) start to make forward progress. The work has felt substantial, the time involved has been immense, the prayer regarding has been huge, and the progress had seemed to be right on the cusp of nothing.
Then something started to happen. Things that I have been trying to accomplish in my relationships started to fall into place. Things I have been working on with my family and relating to them have started to improve. The relationships I have with people at work are starting to grow.
The things I have been getting out of God’s Word have been deeper, richer, and have satisfied my heart in ways that they never have before. I’ve been able to partner with people on spiritual matters that are difficult to navigate. I’ve had a stronger desire to pray for people and see God work in their lives.
So, what has changed that would make that possible? Not much. Honestly, I can’t say that I have really changed much of anything I have done over the last year. I had plans to do more, to reach farther, to do bigger things, but I never did them. So, what has happened?
In April Tammi and I had the opportunity to go to a couple’s retreat taught by my friend Joe and his wife Traci. (You can read more about them here and here) They presented a great seminar on how the little things we do that seem insignificant will eventually add up to something huge. They talked about how it happens in our marriages, how investing the time it takes to give her a look, or to ask her about her day, or unrolling your shirtsleeves and putting your socks in the hamper right side out really matter toward growth in your marriage.
The principles apply in the other aspects of our lives too. The little things we do that seem to be insignificant really do add up. The problem is we keep getting caught up in the big things. We feel like if we are putting in major time on something we should see a major return for it, but often the important things just take time. They don’t come together fast.
There is one thing I have been focusing on for the past four years, and those closest to me know what that is. I’m not going to go into those details here, but over the last four years I have been frustrated more often than not in regards to this “project”. It has been heavy on my heart and mind, and there has been no progress. Until about a month ago.
About a month ago things started to percolate a bit, and I was noticing it, but not really seeing it. (Not sure if that makes sense, but it works in my head, so roll with me here.) The other day I was talking about this with my wife and I was a little excited and she looked at me and said, “Don’t you see it is finally happening? You are finally seeing the result of all of the work you put into it. You are just getting something different than you were originally thinking it would be.” She’s a smart lady.
As I thought about it, I realized just how right she was. God has been blessing the work that I was doing even when I thought that nothing was happening. Something is becoming visible as a result of the work that was not visible. And I didn’t even see it. Maybe that is a good thing.
I say a good thing because I tend to worry, doubt, and need to be in control. Now that I see something is happening I am very concerned that Satan will attack it. It’s a real fear, but I need to step back and not let it take control. You see, God did something while I wasn’t looking, and I believe that if I just keep doing the things He has asked me to do in this, He will continue to bless it and make it grow. I need to keep going and not get distracted by things – even success.

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. – Phillipians 3:13-14

This thing that has happened is not mine. It belongs to God. If God wants to make it a success, then it will be. I am not a factor in that success, but I believe God has allowed me to be a part of His work, and I am thankful for the opportunity to give Him the glory for it.
Relentless Growth is just “keeping on keeping on”. Paul called it pressing on toward the goal. Sometimes it seems like the horizon on our journey never gets any closer, but one small step at a time we get there. We just gotta keep pressing on.
What are you pressing toward? What do you want to see happen for God? Stay in His Word. Stay close to His people. Be Relentless!

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