Fishing with your boys

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My daughter graduates from high school on Saturday.

I’m amazed at how the time has flown by.  It seems like only yesterday that she was headed off to kindergarten- and now she’s just finished her final day of her senior year.

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And I’m proud of her.

She’s made great grades.  She’s made great decisions. She’s become a bright, mature young woman.

But she’s leaving our home.  And I have regrets.

I wish I’d spent more time with her.

Yes- we have traveled a lot.  There have been countless road trips for AAU basketball and club soccer tournaments.

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We’ve hiked the Rockies and the Smokies.  We’ve traveled to the east and west coasts.

But I wish we’d done more.  I wish we’d talked more.

It’s not too late.  Hollianne and I will find new ways to invest in her.  We’ll pour love, attention and prayer into her during college.  It’ll be different- but it’s critically important.

But now for those boys.

We’re left with two sons in our home.  In a flash, they’ll be finishing up middle and high school and headed out into the world as young adults.

I was reading a book this morning and it told of a parenting seminar where Dr. James Dobson was speaking.  The writer said that Dr. Dobson finished his speech with the following quote:

“God only gives us so many times to go fishing with our kids…so don’t miss a one of them.”

Wise words.

I need to be intentional about pouring attention into my boys.  The need love, attention and investment.  They need my time.

And I’ve got to do better.  There are things that they need to hear from me.  There are things that they need to see in me.  I’ve got to step up and stand in the gap.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Deuteronomy 6: 5-7

Maybe you are in a similar situation.  Perhaps you have children at home…or grown children…and need to invest more time into that relationship.  Perhaps it’s a parent or a sibling- and you are looking for ways to spend more time with them.

My prayer is week is two-fold.  I will pray that Hollianne and I are creative with the ways to invest in Carson as she goes off to college.  And I pray that we are intentional about the ways we invest in our sons.  I don’t want to miss an opportunity to go fishing.

Let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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I wish I’d never been born

I’ve got a childhood friend that’s going through a difficult time right now.

His pain is coming from all angles.  Things aren’t good with his wife.  His job is a source of stress.  He’s in a difficult relationship with his parents.  He’s also experiencing some health problems.

It’s mid-January, and he’s already saying that 2017 just isn’t going to be a good year.

“I’d be better off dead….or I wish I’d never been born,” he told me.

It reminded me of a passage I recently read from the book of Job:

“Why did I not die at birth, come out from the womb and expire?” Job‬ ‭3:11‬

You remember that story.

Job was a strong believer of God from the Old Testament. He had it all…family, wealth, relationships and influence.  And in an instant- he lost it all. Everything.

And he wished that he’d never been born.

Eventually Job’s wealth, relationships, health and family are restored.  He’s blessed more than ever before in the past.  In his pain, he’s found a new outlook and life.

It’s hard to do, isn’t it? 

Life can be overwhelming. Tragedy and trouble hit from all angles. It can wear us down and leave us downtrodden and hopeless. 

We can wish we had never been born.

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Phillipians 4:19

We have a great promise…a promise from Jesus that our needs will be met.  It’s just not on our time- but in God’s time. 

We can never know how our struggles might be preparing us for the future- equipping us to help others…or how to better respond to adversity in the future.

We can use our experiences to be an example for others- and help them with their troubles. 

Please pray for my friend to recover from his pain.  And let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless. 

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Working on your marriage on Labor Day

I was nursing a cup of coffee when my cell phone rang early on this Labor Day morning.

It was an old friend that I had not talked to in some time.  We caught up for a minute before he got to the true meaning of his phone call.

His marriage was in trouble.

I was stunned.

I probed a bit.  It seems that life had just placed one barrier after another between them.  His focus had been on his career.  Her focus had been on the kids.  She had suggested counseling some time back, but they found excuses to not get help.  It wasn’t one thing…it was a culmination of years of negligence to their relationship.

Now they were strangers living in the same house and they didn’t like each other anymore.  Resentment was living in both of their hearts- and both of them had become selfishly stubborn.

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Philippians 2:3-4

He thanked me for listening- and asked that I pray for him today.  I told him that I would pray for healing and reconciliation- and that they would be able to climb over any pride or misgivings they had about counseling.  I asked that he pray about it too.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Matthew 11:28

Marriage is work for all of us.  Our relationships need daily, continual attention.

We need to pray for and with our spouse on a daily basis.

Please pray for my friend on this Labor Day.  And let me know how to pray for you.

God bless marriages everywhere.

 

(*this post was published with permission)

 

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21 years and still learning

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Hollianne and I are celebrating 21 years of marriage today. 

Things were much simpler back in that summer of 1995.  We had a one bedroom apartment, a used green Ford Mustang and a 19 inch television.  I was working my first job out of grad school at a private college in Marietta, Ohio.  Hollianne was student teaching at Washington Elementary school.  We could both walk to work.

I also remember us having lots of free time.  While we were both busy at work, the evenings were ours.  We would walk downtown for dinner and sit by the river for hours on end.  We drove through the Amish countryside on weekends in search of antiques we couldn’t afford.  And on weekends that Fall- we made the six hour drive from Marietta to Knoxville to cheer on our beloved Volunteers.

We had time.  We spent it with each other.  It was an early investment in our marriage.

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.  Genesis 2:24

Life’s much more complicated now.  We’d added three active children.  Our jobs take us away from each other during the week, and the sports schedules of the kids cause us to split up each weekend.

We wouldn’t have it any other way…our family’s activities make for great memories.

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

While life events can complicate our marriages, it can also mature these relationships. If we’re lucky, we’ll notice when our relationships need adjustment or renewed focus. 

I love Hollianne even more today than I did way back in 1995. I’ve witnessed her give birth and raise our three children. I’ve watched her take care of parents and relatives during time of distress and need. I’ve seen her care for friends when crisis rocked their lives. 

And I’ve experienced her incredible grace over and over again. 

She’s my partner. My soulmate. My example. And my friend. 

Pray for me to be the husband that Hollianne needs. She deserves it. 

And let me know how to pray for you. 

God bless you. 

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Shots fired at home

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I seem to be on my worst behavior at home.

After a long day of work or a couple of days of travel- I’m often exhausted by the time I get to my house.

Our home should be a place of solace and rest.  A time to reconnect with my incredible wife and three great kids.  But I often let the stresses of the day continue to linger when I come home.

I can be short…dismissive.  Moody.  Quiet and reserved.  Withdrawn.

Dozens of tiring, negative thoughts preoccupy my mind and can keep me from fully engaging with my family- those that love me most.

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.  James 1:19-20

My behavior demonstrates a lack of spiritual maturity on my part.  My family deserves my best.

One of my favorite verses to help me cope is found in Proverbs.

Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.  Proverbs 16:32

I’ve been spending more time in prayer on my drive home each evening.  It’s an attempt to give the stresses of the day over to God.  Jesus promises peace for those who honestly seek it.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.  Matthew 11:28-30

No matter what you are struggling with- just give it up.  Ask for the help of Jesus and move forward with confidence.

Those that love you the most deserve it.

Please pray for me to be a better husband and dad.  And let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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20 years of marriage…an anniversary by the numbers

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Hollianne and I have been married twenty years today. Much has changed since 1995…along the way we’ve had three children, owned four dogs, lived in seven homes in four cities and two states.

One thing has been constant during these two decades…Hollianne is the greatest blessing in my earthly life. There’s not been a day where we haven’t touched, talked or communicated. She’s my rock and my very best friend.

She’s also taught me many life lessons through our marriage. While I could fill the pages of a book- I’ll chose to focus on the five greatest principles that I’ve learned since meeting Hollianne over twenty years ago.

5)  Be selfless

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Philippians 2:4

Let’s face it…we are selfish creatures.  It’s our very nature to look out for ourselves.  But marriage is about commitment- a bond between two people.  Hollianne has sacrificed over and over again for my career, our kids and the happiness of our home.  She’s constantly putting others before herself and has been an incredible example of selflessness for both me and our children.

4)  Forgiveness is a good thing

Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Colossians 3:13

Hollianne has shown me grace when I didn’t deserve it.  She’s been willing to forgive me when I’ve been selfish, demanding or just plain unlovable.  She’s taught me that it’s better to forgive (and forget) than to carry around the pain and burden of hurt in a relationship.

3)  Yesterday doesn’t define tomorrow

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5

Marriages aren’t always perfect…because people aren’t perfect.  There are difficult times in any relationship.  Hollianne has shown me that there are lessons to be learned from any situation.  She uses the past as a “teacher” and moves forward with wisdom and discernment for situations that we’ll face in the future.

2)  Invest in your marriage everyday

Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.  Luke 6:38

No matter what may be going on with our daily schedule, Hollianne makes me feel special.  It may be a note on my bedside table, a letter in my overnight bag or just a well-timed text.  She’s a busy mom, worker and community volunteer- but she always makes time to let me know that she cares.  I’m grateful for that.

1)  You never stop growing together

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.  Proverbs 27:17

Marriage is a long-term commitment.  You both mature and grow in your relationship.  And, if you are lucky, you have a spouse that helps you in your spiritual growth.  Hollianne is that person for me.  She’s an absolute truth-teller and keeps me in line when I lose focus.  We learn and grow from each other.

I’ve learned a lot from Hollianne over the past 20 years.  May God continue to bless our marriage- and may I grow to be the man that she deserves.

Please pray for me- and let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless you.

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Finishing is the easy part…

Hollianne and JT preparing to leave for the NYC marathon starting line...November 2, 2014.

Hollianne and JT preparing to leave for the NYC marathon starting line…November 2, 2014.

I always consider myself blessed be married to Hollianne Carver, but forgive me this week if I’m just a little more proud of her than usual.

Hollianne ran the New York marathon yesterday.  Yes, she completed it with over 48,000 other participants…but her journey was special.  She accompanied me last year and tracked my (slow) progress through New York City’s five boroughs.  There were thousands of cheering people lining the 26.2 mile course-  and Hollianne got the fever to run it in 2014.  She had never done anything like this before.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.  Colossians 3:23

Hollianne wasn’t looking for any special accolades.  She HATES any sort of attention- even when it is deserved.  She simply wanted to do this for herself.  Hollianne also wanted to run it to be an example for our kids…to set a goal and to pursue it passionately.

It was tough.  She chose a 20 week training program.  She balanced a job, three kids, a traveling husband and a myriad of injuries.  Hollianne trained only when it was convenient for everyone else in her life…but not for her.

If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.  Proverbs 24:10

Despite a couple of weeks lost to injury and physical therapy, the training program worked.  Hollianne approached race day with confidence, and she finished the 26.2 mile course with a big smile on her face.

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.  Isaiah 40:31

I am often inspired by my wife, but this effort to run, train and compete was an awesome sight to behold.  Finishing wasn’t the difficult part for her…it was the decision to begin.  She knew it would be tough, but she had the courage to start.

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:14

We all need to have the courage to start…whether it involves a life or attitude change.  It’s often easy to think about the life we want to lead- especially when we think about giving our lives over to Jesus- but it’s difficult to take the first step to make a change or an improvement.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12:1-2

Please pray for me to have the courage to start.  And let me know if I can pray for you too- because an awesome prize awaits for all of us.

God bless.

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