Posted in Beauty, Children, God, Love, Relationships, The Family

Birthdays are bigger than we think

I think we all know people who, when asked about their birthday, say that they don’t celebrate it anymore or that it’s just not a big deal.

What are we really saying about ourselves when we make these statements?

One of the things I love about spring is that in addition to the season in the Midwest beginning to change, I have two lovely daughters who celebrate birthdays in March and in April.

My girls are special to me. They know that they are special, but on their birthdays, I have an extra opportunity to celebrate the fact that they exist.

This is a fact of life that is often overlooked in childrearing.

The stability, security and self-esteem for any daughter are wrapped up in her daddy. A father is the first man that a daughter should be in love with. The number one reason is because this would be the daughter’s first taste of TRUE love – unconditional, never-ending, God-like love.

Codependent women, for the most part, did not experience a strong interpersonal relationship with their fathers.

I have counseled a variety of women who have said that even when their father was there, he really wasn’t there. He lived at the house, they ate dinner together sometimes and he was a great provider of physical things.

But how often they exchanged intimacy was in question.

There were no tender moments. They would say things like. “I know my Dad loved me, he just doesn’t express himself that way.” Or, “Dad loves me, he’s just very busy.”

The effects are devastating.

The daughter that doesn’t have the strong interpersonal relationship with her dad will always struggle with her relationships with men. The codependent part comes in her defining moments. She will always wonder is she beautiful, does she matter, who loves her.

And she will look for a male to supply her with these answers.

Just imagine the teenage boys willing to tell these girls that they are beautiful, they are important and they are loved.

What do you think these codependent girls will do in return for these simply words that should have come from her dad?

If you have ever wondered how some guys ended up with these very beautiful and intelligent women – you guessed it, codependency.

The point here is this: Every little girl needs to know that she is loved and that she matters. In fact all of us do. These two things are directly attached to her inner conscious which she will then use to fight off the voice that tell her no one loves her or she’s ugly.

This is why birthdays are especially important to all of us. They should be used as a tool to express love and to celebrate the life of a person we love. Everyone should have at least one day a year where people make a fuss, go out of their way and express their love all because of the birth of that special someone.

It is also for this reason that my two little girls will always know that they matter, that I love them more than life itself and that they are smart and talented enough to do whatever they put their little minds to. They need to understand that our spirits are forever connected and death can’t even separate us. That our love is everlasting – which means from the day they were conceived, it was in love and that their life and death will be spent in love.

Make sure the people you love know it. This must be demonstrated and said out loud often enough to make it a habit. This is how we live with no regret.

Posted in Justice, Pain, Penalties, Price, Relationships

Too much pain!

America is in too much pain.

When you think about your worst pain, what comes to mind? Is it from body aches? Is it all in your mind? Is it a result of loving too much? Not enough? Is it emotional because you’ve experienced abuse? Is it spiritual because you are disappointed with your church?

Whatever the pain, your senses have confirmed that it is just that … pain. We hurt. We cry. And we cry some more.

Has your pain ever made you wonder how much more you can take? Are you avoiding someone because they hurt you? Have you altered your lifestyle because of someone? How long must you endure this suffering?

Wouldn’t it be cool if there were a judicial system set up just for morality? Now before you start saying it could never happen or we wouldn’t do it right, let’s have a little fun.

I say that if someone has wronged you, you should be able to sue for damages.

Every guy whoever took advantage of a woman because she was codependent or lonely should have to pay a price. One thousand dollars would be good.

Or what of the person who cheats on their significant other instead of just telling them the truth about how they feel in their relationship?

Or better, what if anyone caught bullying had to serve jail time?

And then, anyone who filed a false claim would have to pay $5,000!

I think there should be a $500 fine for swearing in public, dressing inappropriately, stalking, gossiping and  being rude.

This is a simple exercise to help you escape the rat race and forget about the problems of the day. You should come up with your own list. And have fun with it! Create a place where you make the rules and you decide what happens.

Try it!

We all need a break from the pain.

Posted in Discipleship, Forgiveness, Generosity, Giving, God, God's Promises, Happiness, Jesus Christ, Love, Marriage, Relationships, The Family

Part 2: Unconditional Love???

In the Bible, the Apostle Paul made a really big deal about the gift of love. He says:

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…”

Whenever I have heard this passage (1 Corinthians 13:1-8) taught, it’s used as an absolute definition. I believe that the intent of this passage is to give you the results of practicing unconditional love, not simply define it.

Unconditional love has nothing to do with the person being loved. It has everything to do with the person who is giving the love. Unconditional love seems to refine the giver. We dwell on the benefits to the receiver, but the giver of unconditional love benefits the more.

Let’s say that I have an anger problem, but I choose to love unconditionally. As my anger is kindled, I am faced with the choice of whether to honor unconditional love or follow my anger. If I allow love in, it will not only conquer my anger, but solve the reason why I am angry in the first place.

Or say that I am faced with a person who has the reputation of being incapable of love, what are my choices? I could choose to stay away from that person which is what most would choose, or I could choose love. Now, this doesn’t mean that we allow people to run over us. It means that we will love them enough to do what others would not and that includes telling them what they really need to hear instead of enabling their behavior.

When you truly love someone, you don’t give up on them. This is why God said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” When you truly love someone, when they are at their weakest, you are the strongest. This is why it was “while we were without strength, Christ died …”.

When you truly love someone,  you become a benefit to them that they can see. You enhance their life so that it’s worth living. This is why Christ said, “I came to bring you life and life more abundantly.” The greatest part of loving someone is doing something for them that they could not do for themselves. This is why “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever shall believe on him shall not parish, but have eternal life.”

Love is something for the mature, not the immature. If you are trying to love someone and “self” keeps getting in the way, you’re not ready for the commitment of unconditional love. But if you would allow this love to have it’s way with you, all of your insecurities, fears, quirks and impurities would pour out of you.

Remember, mankind requires a condition,but  God never did. Who do you believe will be left standing in the end?

Posted in Love, Marriage, Relationships, Taking Responsibility, The Family

Relationship Builder

So you started the New Year a little on the rocks with your significant other and now they’re gone. One or both of you finally realized that it was time to move on.  Now it’s over.

You tell yourself that you are better without them. You start tossing out reminders of him, like pictures, various articles of clothing, some gifts (of course not any diamonds) and you quickly change your Facebook status to single.

You are left with unfulfilled expectations and anger.

Typically what happens at this point is that you say you want to be alone and you remind yourself that the next person would only be a rebound, but not too soon afterward you are smothering the rebound.

You begin to take those stored “unfulfilled expectations” and assign them to the new partner. You quickly find out that you are instantly attracted to anything that was the opposite of your ex. For example, if the guy you were with never opened the door for you, then all of a sudden that quality is escalated because of the past. If you were with a woman who really couldn’t cook too well, you’d be all over the woman who could provide you with the southern comfort of food.

The danger is that whatever the new quality is that you are coveting may not have been a quality that mattered to you originally. It only became important when your previous relationship ended. This relational baggage makes ordinary qualities greater, thus confusing your judgment and actually making you “rush” the relationship and not even be able to recognize true love anymore. I have a friend on Facebook who a month ago was “in a relationship”, then two weeks ago she was single. One week later she was “in a relationship” again and I called to ask if it was with the same person and she was so excited to tell me about this new guy and how wonderful he was. As of today, they are engaged!

Now I’m not saying that I don’t believe in love at first sight or any of the other fairytales given to us as children. I’m not saying that Hollywood’s boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl again stories aren’t true. What I am saying is that these situations are as rare as hitting the lottery, becoming a professional athlete, becoming the next American Idol or winning an Olympic gold medal. Oh sure you have seen it happen before and you know that it’s possible, but the question here is: Are these scenarios probable?

Before you try to “hook up” with another, you must first exam yourself. You can’t be “two” if you (or the other person) are not ones.

We often enter relationships broken, wounded and with baggage. We have high expectations and are afraid to fully give of ourselves. How many times have you seen a relationship where a couple is together, and the guy hasn’t been working since they hooked up. Nine months into the relationship and the guy still hasn’t found ANY work. Before he entered that relationship, he should have mastered the whole job/car/house/independence thing before trying to connect with another. And what of the man who meets a woman who needs more than just a companion? This woman needs a caretaker, lawyer, doctor, sugar daddy and butler – and she’s not afraid to ask for it! Every phone call leads to her asking him to do something for her. She should have worked out all those needs in the beginning, before trying to start a relationship.

Building a relationship should not be rocket science. It should start off with hesitation and anticipation. There should be long periods of talking and sharing (which is how you actually build the relationship) and a lot of patience.

Only fools rush in.

Posted in Accountability, Achievement, Marriage, Success, Taking Responsibility

The Crime of Cheating!

So it seems that in America we have a conscience. Albeit a conditional conscience, but nevertheless a conscience.

Tiger Woods and many other super athletes, famous actors, rich folks and presidents have all been caught cheating on their spouses. The only difference between 70 years ago and now is that today we act like we really care. When we look at the fall of marriage in America, our attempt to keep it sacred is to crucify the ones who get caught violating the bonds of marriage as a reminder for us all. It’s sort of like in medieval times when they would have public executions.

Well, Tiger Woods was the latest victim. Sad to say for me I won’t see him and golf the same anymore. The reason is not what you think. I DO NOT condone cheating on your spouse, but it happens. I don’t condone lying either, but guess what? It happens. However, here we have this rich guy, who has made this woman rich beyond her wildest imagination. He’s a very powerful man who does many charitable things – including a state of the art school for inner city kids to provide them with a first-class education. One reporter made the comment that he shouldn’t have the school anymore because he’s not a good role model. Seriously?!?

The man plays golf very well — better than anyone else on the planet. Let’s say that he is a role model. Wouldn’t that role model status be limited to just golf? Or are we really to believe that because he’s an awesome golfer that he has to live up to the standards of moral excellence as well? Is there some secret code that says a man who excels in anything, must be as good in everything else?

Tiger shouldn’t have cheated. He probably shouldn’t have gotten married in the first place, but for this adult to be reduced to this scrutiny about his personal life is not fair. The crime for this cheat isn’t the cheating – it’s the self righteous views of the public. Cheating doesn’t mean Tiger is now a bad golfer, a bad father or even a bad husband. It just means he cheated and it was a bad decision.

It’s not even our business. Some argue that this is the price for fame. It’s not. He is a victim of circumstance. Seventy years ago, this wouldn’t have made the news. Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth and many other athletes, rich folks, presidents and famous actors cheated. Men particularly would cheat because they could without much of a penalty back then. There were not even laws to take care of the victims back then. So guess what the victims did? They stayed. They made adjustments and they remained married. It was what men did and women were expected to take it and be thankful for what they had. (Rent the movie Mona Lisa Smile for more info on this).

Again, I am not condoning cheating. What I’m saying is that if this is the standard we are going to maintain, then we should do it for everyone. Not just the rich and famous, but everyone. But we can’t stop there. What about the victims in these cases? When is there a judgment against them? Maybe Tiger’s wife when she got angry with him, she withheld sex. Maybe Tiger likes to do really kinky things that she doesn’t want to do. Maybe she’s not as clean as Tiger would like her to be and it’s a turnoff for him. Or maybe she’s just a spoiled little daddy’s girl whose attitude of entitlement has pushed Tiger away. Or maybe she has done nothing to deserve this. In all of these cases, they don’t need public commentary, they need private counseling.

I hope my point is clear. If not I’ll spell it out one last time in these three easy points:

1)      A marriage is sacred and we should worry about what’s going on in our own homes and stay out of other people’s homes unless we’ve been invited in.

2)      Super athletes are great at one thing – the sport they play – and we should admire the talent and honor God for the gift, but point the moral finger at ourselves. We shouldn’t place expectations on other people. We should only place them on ourselves.

3)       If there is a mistake a person can make to wipe out the many things they’ve done well, then we’ve condemned everyone…because everyone makes mistakes.

Those that live in glass houses should not throw stones!

Posted in Children, Divorce, Marriage, Relationships

Breaking up is hard to do

Marriage has become big business – especially in the United States.

Not only do we spend a fortune on daddy’s little girl’s special day, but the lawyers in the divorce settlement get to have their “special day,” too!

On average, fifty percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce.

The occupation you and your spouse choose may also have an effect on divorce statistics.

If you are a clergyperson, the divorce rate dips to 20 percent (probably due to pressure from Protestant churches – most won’t accept a minister who is single).  But if you are in law enforcement, that number swells to 70 percent.

But no matter where you fall on the divorce meter, divorce is still a traumatic event. Few husbands and wives consider the need for calm, rational thinking while making decisions that affect not only the adults, but impact the children, too.

Many important decisions need to be made when a couple is considering divorce. But at some point, things often get so bad that one or both partners decide that they can’t stand to be around each other any longer – let alone conduct a rational discussion.

What was once thought to be love has now turned into hate. here is no agreement on anything. There is no such thing as a compromise. And as a result, there is no peace in the household.

Add kids to this volatile mix and now you have something very explosive.

Like a drive-by shooting, I have seen a spouse use the kids as a shield to block insults or send them to the soon-to-be-ex in the form of an emotional bomb.

Don’t be fooled. This isn’t a marriage anymore – it’s now a war!

One couple I counseled was masterful at this.

When the wife wanted to leave, the husband deflected her insults about men by telling their six-year-old son that when his mom made disparaging comments about men, she meant all men – including him!

In another case, the wife sent her young daughter to her husband after he announced that he was leaving her because of her drinking problem. The daughter looked at her dad with those cute little brown eyes and said, “Daddy, why are you leaving us?”

Breaking up is hard to do because you have to learn again how to talk to each other, be civil, and choose not to retaliate or play the tit-for-tat game.

Plus you also have to consider the kids FIRST in everything.

Divorce is like a war – but no matter who is left standing at the end, there is no winner. All sides lose – especially the kids.

I’ve had to teach couples how to be cordial, how to react, how to avoid extra hurt for the kids and how to be fair.

I have to remind them that their decisions shouldn’t have anything to do with the spouse and everything to do with the quality of person they are.

We as humans tend to trade our good qualities for bad ones when we’re angry or emotionally upset.

One might question if we really had the good qualities in the first place.

A marriage and family therapist would be worth his/her weight in gold if couples were to start out with one for premarital counseling and then keep the therapist around for the first few years of the marriage.

This is the answer to the divorce problem everywhere!

Couples who divorce must learn how to compromise and how to give up “self” for the sake of the kids.

Isn’t that interesting?

If it’s possible that during divorce proceedings a couple can learn how to compromise and not be selfish, I wonder what would happen if they learned these things before they married?

Maybe divorce attorneys would become an endangered species.

Posted in Love, Relationships

The Gospel of Love

There is a lot of information written about love. If you type the word “love” into a Google search, 1.4 billion search results appear.

I was reminded of a song when I graduated from high school entitled “What about love?” by the rock band Heart. The song is about a person who has been sending love to another and for some reason it’s not getting through. The person she is sending her love to is climbing the ladder of success and doing big things and she’s reminding him about love.

The chorus says:
What about love?
Don’t you want someone to care about you?
What about love?
Don’t let it slip away.
What about love?
I only want to share it with you.

Love expresses so many things about us – our needs, desires, wants and our vulnerability. This is a universal way that we can give a part of our essence to each other. Love, done the right way, is God’s greatest gift to mankind.

What about love gone wrong?

It’s hard to have a conversation about love and not talk about hate. It’s great and I thank God for free will and giving us a choice. The idea was as we learned better, we would do better.

In one of my favorite Michael Jackson songs he says:
So I’ve learned that love is not possession.
And I’ve learned that love won’t wait.
Now I’ve learned that love needs expression, but I’ve learned too late.

I believe there are people in this world who need an enema in regards to their love. In other words their love is stopped up, trapped inside of them and they don’t know how to get it out.

These hurt people, hurt people.

Because of their hurt, they become damaged goods and they desire that everyone would feel hurt like they do. You may have met some of these people. Some of the best places to find them is at work and at church!

You can tell they are hurt in the things they say, the way they look, how they dress and it’s even reflected in the number of true friends they have. Their love is constipated!

There are three ways to fix constipation:
1. Have someone unpack it for you. In the nursing business this is the quickest way to get it done. And they actually go up there and get it.
2. Use medication. There are some really good products on the market that use all natural ingredients for this.
3. Let it happen naturally. Your system will get so backed up that eventually it’s forced out (drink plenty of water with that one).

Of course, I’m referring to a literal case of bowel obstruction, but for love the answers are on the same line of thinking.

Let’s take the last one first.

Method Number Three has a few drawbacks. For love to eventually build up and flow out will happen in a sea of tears. Unfortunately, by this time, the person who was trying to love you has given up. This third method describes a condition where circumstances have made this person break down to a very lowly state.

Some people never recover from this.

They become depressed and may succeed at suicide. A person in this state needs to feel the love immediately and know that their show of vulnerability is not an embarrassment, but an improvement.

Method Number Two is just good old-fashioned therapy. We all need therapy from time to time – it’s not that we’re crazy. Occasionally, we need to take something that will help get us back on track. Good therapy does just that.

Method Number One has to be performed by someone who has a very close relationship with the person whose love is constipated. This person has to reach in and grab it. That means the constipated person must be confronted in love regarding their attitude, behavior or actions. The person who cares enough to confront them must not give up and be willing to fight the good fight of faith and to believe that the relationship can survive. And it can, because love covers a multitude of sins!

This is the “good news” of LOVE.