Experience, Rest

Three Days of Adventure

These past three days have been the best of our lives!

That’s a pretty sweeping statement to make considering “our lives” encompass 16 years of history, but there is just something so incredibly wonderful about spending concentrated time with my best friend.

After the way this year started with Crystal’s sickness and being on complete bedrest for 7 weeks, I felt that we had been robbed!

My good friend, Aaron, preaching about John 10:10 this summer during our series, One Thing, and in it, he hammered on the reality that “the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy…” and I literally felt that our adversary had stolen so much from us. We were powerless to do anything about this burglar, as if he had marched himself into our home in the middle of the afternoon with all of us standing around. Without even masking his person, he sat down on the couch, grabbed the remote out of Grayson’s hand, started watching some ridiculous show, like Game of Thrones, and demanding that we bring him sweet tea. He stuck around for weeks in the same position just making demands of us and sucking the very life from our existence!

We’d hear him laughing and carrying on at night when we were all trying to rest and recover from this awful experience. He just wouldn’t go away!

We’d try to make those neat phrases to make guests know that their time to stay had passed. You know like, “well,we’ve got to get dinner together”, and “thanks for stopping by, it was so good to see you again,” but he just wouldn’t take the hint.

Why is it that we try so hard not to offend the devil when he is literally ROBBING us!

Finally, I saw what was going on, came to reality of what was being taken from us and I began to demand that he get the hell out of our home, and the hell he was getting out was himself!

I began praying that the Lord make him pay recompense x100 for all that had been taken from us and those around us.

He had stolen so much time.

He had stolen energy.

He had stolen opportunity.

He had stolen experiences.

He had stolen moments of life change at our church.

NO MORE!

To this day, I still pray that the Lord would bring back what’s been lost. That He would make the devil pay and pay sorely for all that’s been taken. I pray that we’d recover X100 what was taken in medical expenses.

I pray we’d see X100, people accept Christ because of it.

The devil wanted us out of this church, this role in leadership and influence and because of that, he’s going to pay, sorely, for all he thought he’d get away with!

So that brings me back to the last three days. It had been my plan for a while, and I believe the Lord just gave it to me, that I should surprise Crystal with a trip away, just she and I. No agenda, just time together. So I did.

I told her to block off three days, don’t plan anything!

I lined up my parents to be at our house to hang with the grandkids. They were already traveling in the area and it wasn’t much for them to plan a few days to be with the kids. So graciously, the took me up on it.

Over the last three days, we’ve had nothing but fun and acted like kids. We’ve come to HGTV Mecca: Waco, Texas, where every woman tries to dress like Joanna and somehow the single word, Magnolia, has healing power.

We rented a convertible and cruised down the Texas freeway with the top down for 90 miles.

We’ve laughed and spent lots of time just being together. and eating, lots and lots of eating. Tacos and BBQ and coffee, and tacos.

We stayed in a tiny house village, which to my surprise, is incredibly fun and was actually one of Crystal’s bucket list ideas!

We drove to every antique store we could and browsed for hours for rusty, stained and ancient metal, photos and newspaper articles!

It’s hard to see that experience in the past now, but for me, for us, it was a step in recovery and celebration that where the devil sought to destroy, the Lord is using to move faith forward.

I say all this to make you a little jealous. 😉

I also say this to help you see that the devil is a liar, cheat and a thief . He’s always going to try to steal and I just can’t help but wonder if he’s pulled up a chair in your home. You’re serving him your dinner and wondering why there’s not enough food for your family! Why there’s not enough time in your day! Why there’s not enough worship in your life! It’s because of that dang thief and he’s sucking the very life and joy out of you!

It’s time to put an end to the burglary.

It’s time to recognize that the longer you let the liar take up space on your couch, the more your relationships suffer, the more bitter you become and the less like Jesus to look at the end of the day.

Let’s start a new program, we’ll call it something genius, like Neighborhood Watch because there is a thief in the neighborhood and he is relentless in what he’s out to steal, kill and destroy!

Family

Sixteen Years with a Super Model

Sixteen years we’ve been married! I’m not sure how that’s possible! We don’t seem old enough to have been married for that long.
The adventures we’ve had and the places we’ve been! Our 16 years is marked by the decisions of life change that have characterized our life together.
Last night we revisited our life in Costa Rica. It was amazing to think that 12 years ago we were on an incredible adventure of a lifetime that would take us into a tropical paradise where our son would be born. It was, by our distinction, one of the toughest parts of our lives but one we look back on with fondness of the faith we built in the process.
Crystal has become the most anticipated moment of my day. I simply live for the moment I can get home and see her, to hear her voice and learn of the beauty and blessing of her day. Sometimes that beauty and blessing is more of tension and trouble when it comes to our little crew and the mid-summer blues.
When we think about our next 16, we fill our moments of conversation with aspirations of upcoming adventures. She dreams of still becoming the CEO of a non-profit where she is able to get paid for her time and talent. It will come.
She also dreams of a place where we can resort often for extended family time and fun at the lake. That’s one of the biggest and best lessons we learned. Nothing compares to extended family time away from the norm.

I dream about extended time together with just her. While I really want to see and foster intentional and specific moments with each of our kids, I want to enjoy a lot of life with my best friend as well. We were made for each other and were made for the adventure of our lives. My life is better because I get to do it with her and better than that, I am honored that she would consider me good enough to stand with her through her life.
When I look at the condition of marriage today, I’m simply astounded at how people throw it away like it’s of no value. They allow little things to add up to something worth destroying the sanctity of marriage over and their vows end up with no meaning. I often wonder, as I’m leading couples through the vows that will unite them in marriage, if they fully understand the promise they are making to each other. It seems that today, those vows have become nothing but mere words spoken so they can be together for a time but not a lifetime. It’s sad.
Not here, not with us. I’m the lucky one and I get to make a salted caramel latte every morning for this supermodel wife and that, that is my privilege and honor.

Experience, Family, Marriage, Random

Meager Beginnings

Sixteen years ago this summer, Crystal and I began our lives together. Neither of us can believe it’s been that long since we met and married.

This summer for our vacation we passed through the city of our first home. It’s been years since we’ve been here! We used to pass this way frequently when we were missionaries, but those days are long since passed.

As we entered Jacksonville, FL a wave of emotions began to pass over us and a flood of memories from our early years began build. There were so many experiences that took place in this town.

So to get a bit nostalgic with our crew of 5, we took them past our first apartment and the part of town we used to live in.
To them, it was a unwelcomed distraction from their current Disney movie selection. They sort of rubbed their blood shot eyes as they looked up and grunted with a half-hearted acknowledgement as Crystal and I revisited a thousand memories that took place on College Street in Jacksonville. We were excited to see that the area has improved since the days when it was a drug-infested hotbed of illegal activity! It’s actually a descent place to call home now! Let me just say, we lived in the hood and it was sketchy at best.

Oh those were the days! We’d get home from our classes at Trinity Baptist College and have about 3 hours before our work schedules began. We’d throw together some Tuna because that’s all we could afford in those days, and take a short walk to the banks of the St. Johns River where we’d enjoy a picnic. We did this so often that memory is coterized in our minds and tuna takes us on a journey down memory lane even at its smell.

We had next to nothing during that season of life, but for some reason we look back with such fondness at the time we spent in that very small, one-bedroom apartment. It was ours and we were each others and there was just nothing better in the world.

Those days make me grateful for the Lord has brought us now. I always get a little fearful when I hear young couples talking about getting more. More stuff, more space, more…everything. We were that way too at a time, but the most important thing we learned over the years since was the reality that life was more about purpose than pleasure. She and I had nothing, but we had an intense purpose that fill our minds and hearts with a pleasure that we’d never before known.

How did your story begin? Where were the days of our meager beginnings?

More than that, what’s your purpose? The God-given purpose of your heart is more than everything and if you struggle to define that purpose, no physical thing will ever fill its void.

Biblical Living, Family, Marriage

The Power of a Praying Husband— The Magic Pill

Photo by Joshua Coleman on Unsplash

It is completely impossible for you to be the husband you wife needs you to be…

I see so many guys who are married or soon to be and they are destined for failure.

It won’t be through an affair.

It won’t happen because of neglect or abuse.

They’re not cheaters.

They’re not bad providers.

What I see today is that men are not prayer warriors.

We have this illusion that men are inherently capable of being everything a wife needs him to be. There’s a couple lies found in this. First Ladies, let me pop that balloon by saying, he’s not perfect and is never going to be. The perfection you are looking for in your relationship can only be found in Jesus.

The only Savior you are going to find in your life is in Christ. Stop making your husband become your everything, holding him to a standard of excellence that he can never complete in you.
Jesus came to die so that you could be saved and safe, your husband can never compete with that!

Guys, I want to give you some very powerful marriage enhancing material today. It’s that magic pill you are looking for to make your marriage wild again.

Are you interested?

Shout it louder!

I SAID, ARE YOU INTERESTED?

Paul wrote in Ephesians 5,

“Husbands, you are to demonstrate love for your wives with the same tender devotion that Christ demonstrated to us, his bride. For he died for us, sacrificing himself to make us holy and pure, cleansing us through the showering of the pure water of the Word of God. All that he does in us is designed to make us a mature church for his pleasure, until we become a source of praise to him—glorious and radiant, beautiful and holy, without fault or flaw. Husbands have the obligation of loving and caring for their wives the same way they love and care for their own bodies, for to love your wife is to love your own self.” ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:25-28‬ ‭TPT‬‬

There are a lot of things in life that I have discovered I am incapable of. How about you, what do you suck at? Be honest with yourself. If you’re anything like me, there’s a lot of things that you would love to think you excel at but you just don’t.

In my mind, I am incredible at building. I can fix, literally, anything.
Some of you, it’s all about sports. You can visualize yourself as an incredible QB. When it comes to basketball, you are MJ.

But reality is, most things I try to fix, end up needing to be “re-fixed”.

And when it comes to your being a QB, your spiral just isn’t quite that awesome and Tom Brady is not really that nervous about your assuming his position.

The same thing is true when it comes to your marriage. Your best decision would be today, to swallow this magic pill of prayer and decide that every day you are going to pray asking God to love your wife through you.

It’s amazing what can happen when you begin to do this. There’s something that visibly changes in your composure.

I remember the first time I tried this, Crystal, my wife, asked me what I was doing that was making things so different. I told her that I was praying those words. She can now point out the days that I’ve prayed that prayer….and the days that I have not.

I can tell you this bro. The marriage you have right now, is the marriage that God intends for you to keep. She’s not flawed, you’re just not praying and becoming the husband/leader God intended for you to be.

Don’t get hung up on the “what if’s” and “I don’t know how’s”, all you need to worry about today is that simple prayer, “God, love her through me today.”

Start praying those words everyday, every morning when you wake up, utter those words before you get out of bed. Before you know it, that will be the start of longer sentences and paragraphs you are praying about your wife. You’ll start praying for her protection. You’ll pray that God will guard her heart and mind as she wrestles through the incredible difficulties of being a mom, a wife, an employee(r), and the thousand other things that come rushing at her mind.
And you’ll notice that you’ve become incredibly different also. You’ll find a genuine concern over her that you’ve not seen before. And it’s all because God is now loving this woman through you with a love that is so far beyond your capacity.

It’s time to fill your prescription of this magic pill.

Marriage

The 100/100 Principle

Have you ever seen the movie, Jerry Maguire? Such a classic movie featuring Tom Cruise and Renee Zellweger. I don’t know how you feel about either of those actors, but I’m a fan of the Mission Impossible Series and someone once told me I look like Tom Cruise, so I have that working for me…or against me. Watch the trailer if you want to know what the movie is about, but the one scene that has become so iconic is that “you complete me” scene in the middle of the movie. You know the one where she interrupts him with, you had me at hello. Yep this is that movie!

I always struggled with that concept, you complete me. It sounds so wonderfully fantastic and amazing. Like something that should be woven into the vows of every wedding. That is, until you actually consider the ramifications of being the one who completes.

Marriage is such an incredibly difficult thing to master. Don’t get me wrong, it’s also the most amazing thing to be a part of as well. Never for a day in my life would I want to continue without my wife, best-friend (with snacks), cheerleader. We are just too good together! I make her better, she makes me best. But neither of us completes the other! We know that and we knew that when we got married and neither of us holds each other to the standard of expectation that we will complete each other. Sure the times without her feel incomplete. When it’s time to celebrate in life, she’s the first one I want to celebrate with. When trouble comes, she’s the one I want to face it with and when we are forced to face those things alone, they feel incomplete.

But the reality is the Lord is the completion of every marriage. When it comes to marriage, two halves do not make a whole. Not in any sense! Two broken people, with the Lord, make a whole marriage.

Every marriage is going to face stress. There will come a time in your marriage when one of you is completely incapacitated and the entire workings of your life will be shouldered by one person. Honestly, this is where most marriages break because they didn’t sign up for the weight of an entire life of responsibility.

They only signed up for 50% of it.

They vowed to commit to staying faithful ONLY if the other did first.

They vowed that for better or for worse but never took into account that worst may actually happen.

I want to have a best marriage. One of legends. Crystal and I want to create a lineage so great that our great-grandkids look to us with admiration, but to do that requires a very poignant understand…that neither of us will be the completing factor. That’s the Lord’s position and we will pursue him for that–together.

We have this joke that we’ve held on to since our dating days. Our goal is to get to play in a sandbox when we’re 80. Every once in a while, you’ll hear us say that phrase 80 in the sandbox. It’s just a simple reminder that we are in this for life, no matter what happens or becomes. There will be times that she has to carry 100% of our life, and then there will be times that I have to do the same. No one looks for those moments, no one likes them. They push you to the very limits of our sanity, but when we make it to 80 and can look back over all the moments that we made it through!? They will all have been worth it.

So Crystal, You do not complete me.

And I will not expect you to.

Marriage

The Power of a Praying Husband — The Value of a Great Wife

We’ve been married for 15 years this year. How is that possible!? The other day Crystal and I reminisced about some of our early days in marriage and the fun we had. We remembered some of our very tough days as well. They were so frequent! We were trying so hard to gain any semblance of momentum only to be defeated. One step forward, two steps back was our lifestyle. But we loved it! We made it and here we are today with a lot to show for it.