Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How to score points with your wife.

Full exclaimer here:  I am not a marriage expert, I've only been married 9 years and my wife gets frustrated with me on probably a weekly if not daily basis.  For real marriage advice talk to the couple that have been happily married for at least 25 years.

But I've learned at least one thing - how to score points.  Points that pay dividends in your wife's memory bank.  Married men, we know all too well how our wives have memories like steel traps.  We need points because we screw up.  More importantly thoughtful action shows our wives that we are thinking of her - which will in turn add some spice in more ways than one baby!

So let's cut to the chase.
  1. Finish your wife's project.  Your wife loves to garden.  She spends all winter long planning, buying seeds and all spring planting the perfect garden.  However in June the momentum has come to a screeching halt and nobody is there to water or weed the garden.  This is where you step up and score the points.
  2. Plan a date night.  Pick a date together, but you plan it. 
  3. Clean something up that you don't normally clean.  For instance, I never do laundry.  But one time I washed, dried, folded AND put the clothes away WITHOUT prompting.  Let's just say I was rewarded handsomely!  Points O Rama!
  4. Say thank you.  Marriages tend to go on cruise control.  Think of all the things your wife does to make your family life better.  A sincere thank you will fill a heart in need of acknowledgement. 
  5. Plan a daddy date with the kids - and give your wife a break.
  6. You proclaimed a month ago that you need a vacation and mentioned taking the whole family to Duluth.  Your wife used to get get excited when you  mention the "V" word but now isn't excited because you say things like this all the time and never pull the trigger.  Today - do what you say, and score some points.

I'm sure there are more ways to score points - hopefully some of you will leave some tips in the comments section.  I need all the help I can get!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

What your greatest fear should be

As I write this, I have gone three consecutive nights away from home.  The second night away from home was my son's birthday.  Sure I got up early and made him breakfast, wished him happy birthday, but I spent the rest of the day and evening working and going to meetings. 

My son still had a great day with his mom and sister going to McDonald's, and getting to do whatever he wanted.  I'm pretty sure he didn't miss me.  Which troubles me.

Author Francis Chan writes, “Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter.”  Is there anything worse than giving something all you have when, in the end, it amounts to nothing?  This week, I've made that mistake.

Here is a list from the All Pro Dad's website of the top 10 things in life that don't really matter.

  1. Sports Results
    If a doctor informed you that you had six months to live, would the outcome of the Super Bowl suddenly mean anything at all? Sports are a wonderful means of entertainment. When participating they offer a myriad of very positive benefits. However, there is an obsession worldwide with the results of watching other people play a game. Taking someone else’s success story and somehow making it our own. Michael Jordan won a lot of championships and it sure was fun watching him do it. But the rings are on his fingers, not ours, so strive to be a champion in your own world.
  2. Living Up To Unrealistic Expectations
    Want to know how to be successful? Avoid unrealistic expectations. Sometimes they are external, such as from a parent or a spouse, and sometimes they come from within. In either case, do not waste energy trying to live up to something you are not. It simply does not matter. We all have a correct path to discover. That is where your energy should be focused.
  3. Television
    Talk about obsession. We spend vast amounts of time and resources on how to constantly improve our television viewing experience. We are all guilty. As with sports, television has a place in our lives. We are informed and entertained. But it has gone far beyond that. For some, existence revolves around the TV. Walks aren’t taken. Conversations aren’t had. Life is neglected. All for the sake of what is mostly mind-numbing and brain crushing worthless programming. One only needs to consider the startling success of “Jersey Shore” to realize that television has become an enormous problem in our society. Minds are being rotted into a mushy pulp. Benjamin Franklin, the Wright Brothers and Thomas Edison used to inspire us. Now it’s Snooki.
  4. Bitterness
    We all have moments in life where we become consumed by petty differences and bitterness. This is a problem for society as a whole also. We can prop up the political climate in this country as evidence. Pettiness and bitterness only lead to destructive ends. Want to change your life for the better? Drop all those things you are holding on to that are eating you from the inside out. We are instructed to forgive.
  5. Revenge
    In the same destructive zone as bitterness, revenge remains a prime motivator in the lives of many. Revenge against the person who wrecked your marriage. Revenge against the person that got the promotion you wanted. Revenge against the driver who cut you off. Certain parts of society have even evolved to the point where revenge has become the heart of their culture. Certainly God desires more from us.
  6. Vanity
    The never ending search for perfection. Billions upon billions of dollars are spent each year on all sorts of things designed to make us feel better about ourselves. Whiter teeth. Tighter skin. Enhancements. The list goes on and on. We could feed and house every single poor child in this nation with the money we spend on vanity products. We have a set priority that looks are vastly important. It should be a low priority. From personal observation, the more a person uses artificial changes as a way towards happiness, the less happy they become. They are only masking the real issues that lay inside their broken soul. Most people want to look nice and that is ok, but there comes a point where you must accept and love who and what you are.
  7. Technology Obsession
    Life and success both have a best friend in moderation. Obsession tends to lead us too far down paths we do not belong. In this age, we are amazed and awed almost weekly with the latest technological advances. From smart phones to social networking, we are bombarded with new and faster ways to share and absorb information. In moderation, they are extremely helpful in many ways. When abused, they push our lives almost into an artificial existence. Does it really matter if you have the latest and greatest product to replace yesterday’s latest and greatest? No, it does not.
  8. Fear of Failure
    The following is a quote from John Keats: “Don’t be discouraged by a failure. It can be a positive experience. Failure is, in a sense, the highway to success, in as much as every discovery of what is false leads us to seek earnestly after what is true, and every fresh experience points out some form of error which we shall afterwards carefully avoid.” Don’t waste your time on fretting about failing.  It won’t matter.  Just go out and do it.
  9. Wealth
    “You can’t take it with you when you go.” Money destroys more lives and more marriages than any other source. The trouble with money is that we all must have it. That’s a fact that we can’t get around. Some are blessed with a great deal of it, and others barely scrape by. There is no sin in being wealthy. The sin lies in what motivates you. We are taught from our first moments to worship currency. Like programmed robots. Make money – buy stuff. More money – more stuff. We put forth ten times the amount of effort towards financial matters than we do our eternal souls. No matter where your final destination lies, VISA will not be accepted.
  10. False Idols
    We were created and our destiny was written by the one true God. He is who we are to worship. His Word is quite clear about this. Our number one priority should always be our personal relationship with God. Yet, we surround ourselves with multitudes of false idols. All the things we discussed in this list and plenty more. What are you worshipping? Where is your heart? When you are moments from death, will you be able to look up to God and say “I’m ready?”  Don’t waste any more time on false gods.

Monday, May 23, 2011


During the Second World War, the USS Astoria was badly damaged by a Japanese vessel and sank.  Signalman 3rd Class, Elgin Staples, was swept overboard and kept afloat by a lifebelt.  Staples was rescued by a passing destroyer which again was sunk.  He was back in the ocean but OK thanks to his great lifebelt.  He was picked up once more by the USS President Jackson and on-board he examined the lifebelt that had saved him.  It read that it had been manufactured by the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company and bore a registration number.  Given home leave, Staples told his story to his mother, who happened to work for Firestone, and when they did research on the serial number, they found out that she had been the one to assemble the lifebelt.  One of those amazing acts of providential motherly love. 

My mom and dad have both provided me with similar "lifebelts".  Its taken a few years later to realize all of the lessons. 

Now I'm in the position to provide lifebelts to my little kids.  The lifebelt of being kind to others, to do work they are proud of, the importance of spending less than they earn, how to love and be loved - and how to get back up when you've been kicked down.

Won't be easy to do, but worth it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Your work

Some people approach their work like this: "I come in on time, even a little early.  I do what the boss asks, and even faster than they expect.  I often stay late, I'm hard working, and loyal."

Another way would be, "What isn't the boss asking me to do that I can do, learn from, make an impact, and possibly fail (yet not be fired)?

Both mindsets are good, but the approach in the first example doesn't mean your indispensable.  Gone are the days were showing up and putting in a honest days work meant job security, advancement, or satisfaction (just ask any public school teacher).  

When I was about 10 years old, my dad was lifting a heavy garden tiller into a truck.  I kinda just stood and watched.  He ended up dropping the tiller, and then yelled at me, "Don't just sit there - help me!"  Although I didn't appreciate the sternness at the time, he helped me understand that I shouldn't have waited for him to ask for help.  I should have been able to see the problem and jumped in without him asking.  Because I did nothing, I had to receive a consequence. 

Hard work used to be working long days with physical labor.  Hard work now involves your brain - seeing a problem and taking a chance on a solution.  This shift means the opportunity lies in problem solving, especially when there isn't an evident problem.  I also think that opportunity will lead to you liking your job more, while creating a job that no one but you can do.  Making you very difficult to replace.

What will you do?
Put in longer hours, do what your told, and be replaceable OR solve the problem the boss doesn't ask and be irreplaceable?

So what problem would you like to solve at work today?