Wednesday, September 07, 2016

My Car Traveling Secrets (for long trips)

I think most travelers have their "tricks" for those long drives...

I've driven a lot this summer between Canada & the USA. These ideas that have saved me more than once, hopefully they might help you too!

1. Power Converter  

The AC power plug for my computer has been helpful at times.



2. Vent Phone Holder

It holds my phone easily without getting in the way of the charging cord



3. EZ Pass

Worth It!

It's so nice to slowly drive through toll stations without having to fully stop, roll down the window, and pay a teller, especially when you're traveling with sleeping passengers.

4. Add "00", when using Canadian Credit Cards at US gas pumps that ask for a Zip Code (see example)

It can be frustrating driving in the USA with a Canadian credit card.  I try to pay at the pump, but it sometimes ask for the card's Zip Code.  The problem is it won't accept the Canadian 6 digit zip code instead of the USA 5 digit zip code, so I would have to cancel and go inside each time... until this answer below solved the problem!

 http://www.mastercard.ca/education/travel-tips/US-gas-code.html

5. Gas Cap Trick

I've only used this cap trick in extenuating circumstances, but it has definitely saved me a few times!



6. And when crossing the border, don't forget your Passport! :)

(I've been pretty close once or twice!)


Thursday, September 01, 2016

After Camp (Day 1) - Start Serving

(Keep Reading Day 2)
 
It's your first day back to life (outside of camp)...

START SERVING.
One of the best things you can do today is find ways to show loving kindness to those around you.

HERE ARE A FEW STARTING IDEAS:
  1. Clean your room or the house, without being asked (dishes, laundry, toilet, vacuum, mow the yard, etc.)
  2. Encourage a friend by sending a message saying "You're awesome" for no reason
  3. Hang out and play with your brother or sister, and make sure to be nice while trying to treat them as Jesus would.
  4. Make a homemade gift, drawing, or card for your grandparents or someone who would appreciate it.
  5. Buy or find something valuable of your own stuff and give it away to someone who has less that you, that you know could use it.
  6. Tell your parents "Thank you" and that "you love" them.
  7. Mow the neighbors yard or clean up and pick up trash around the neighborhood, just because.
  8. Go out of your way to be nice to the neighborhood or school kid who sits by themself or the kid that everyone makes fun of or thinks is weird.
  9. Bake cookies for someone or recycle to make some money to give to those in need.
  10. When you stop at a restaurant, gas station, or store, be nice to the workers, and say thank yo.
  11. While doing life, when you see a chance to stop and help someone... just do it (whether it's at home, in the neighborhood, or your out somewhere... just do it).
  12. Ask your pastor or youth pastor if there's anything you can do to help at church or Sunday mornings.
  13. Commit to Christ whatever you do today (Proverbs 16:3 & Colossians 3:23)

REMEMBER: When You SERVE God More, You'll See Him More.
Much like When You SEEK God More, You'll See Him More.


DO YOU HAVE A READING PLAN? ...Click here to read Proverbs 1
Other Options For Reading A Daily Chapter Of Proverbs:


(Keep Reading Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7)

After Camp (Day 2)- Get Plugged In

(Keep Reading: Day 1 or Day 3)
 
Where are you going to youth group or church this week?

Get Plugged In.

One of the best ways to grow, is having the right friends and influences. 
Getting plugged into the power of Christian community helps you change.

It's been said:
"You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with." Jim Rohn

Statistics say that attending church WITHIN THE FIRST MONTH OR TWO of starting university is huge in keeping Christian teenagers from leaving church.

 Five Christ-Centered Things You Can Plug In To:
  • Church
  • Youth Group
  • The Bible
  • Christian Music
  • Online Sermons



Remember: Coals stay warmer together longer than the coal removed from the fire.
Seeking God More Together, You'll See God More Together


Go to youth group or church this week for the friendships and teaching.
Reading the Bible & Praying can help you connect to God now.
The Christian Radio Challenge: only listen to a Christian radio station and Christian music for a month.
Online sermons & podcasts (even on Youtube) can keep you encouraged.




DO YOU HAVE A READING PLAN?  Click to Read Proverbs 2

or Click Here for more Reading Options (at the bottom of this link)




(Keep Reading: Day 1 or Day 3)

After Camp (Day 3) The Gospel Is This Cool...


(Keep Reading: Day 2 or Day 4) 
Watch the #fallingplates video below... the Gospel of Jesus is so Cool!!!


We were dying inside and out...
but now we're given new life, love, and purpose!

Four Ideas To Focus on Jesus:
  1. Jesus can change your worst, most impossible scenarios and people into the best, most incredible stories of life and goodness.
  2. Keep your eyes open... God's giving you opportunities today to show Jesus' sacrificial love.
    1. REMEMBER: As you Surrender More, (walking with Jesus' power & the Spirit's help), you can Sin Less. (Gal 5:16)
  3. If you're seeing areas where you haven't acted like Christ since camp, take a few minutes right now and decide, "What action can I specifically surrender to be able to live more like Him this next week?" 
  4. Pray for an opportunity to share your faith with someone this week.

REMEMBER: He Turns Our Mess Into A Message
& God wants to do the same for others around you!



BIBLE READING PLAN?  Click to read Proverbs 3
Click Here for more Reading Options (at the bottom of this link)

(Keep Reading: Day 2 or Day 4)

After Camp (Day 4) Think Marathon. #WarriorStatus

(Keep Reading: Day 3 or Day 5)
The Christian Life Is Like Training For A Marathon.

Think Marathon, instead of Sprint.
 
Train with Warrior Intensity.

#WarriorStatus.
You Might Want To Give A Warrior Cry Today! 
(Go outside or close the door to your room, flex, and fiercely scream with all you've got!)

Cast off Sin and Clothe yourself with Christ.
Fight for what's right.  
It's not always easy,
but it's worth it.  
It's Courage.
 
A Few Ways To Stand Up & Embrace Training With Warrior Intensity This Year:
  1. Stand Up For The Outsider when someone's picking on them.
  2. Stand Up For God, even if it will make you unpopular.
  3. Stand Up For Your Morals And What's Right, whether you're at home, school, a party, or a friend's house
REMEMBER: Weigh the Cost, And Answer His Call    (Luke 14)

Training like a warrior is more about training with intensity and focus, rather than violence or pride.  #warriorstatus is about courageously loving through truth and love, rather than fighting or violence. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)


After Camp (Day 5) School Friends & Role Models

(Keep Reading: Day 4 or Day 6)

"Who You Become Is Shaped By Those Closest To You."

Don't let it just happen:
Choose your school friends & role models wisely

A big person makes you feel bigger when they're around.

I met a guy on the street who wasn't a Christian.  He told me how he had recently overcame his addiction to illegal drugs, so I asked him how he did it.  He said, "I just had to stop hanging out with certain friends and choose not to go back to them until I was strong enough to start saying, "No," and start hanging out with them in smaller doses again."

Positive Influences are GAME CHANGERS in your Christian walk.

5 Questions About Influencers:
  1. Which bad influences do you need to stop hanging out with less?
  2. Which good influences do you need to start hanging out with more?
  3. If you could be like anyone your age or older, who would that be? 
  4. How can you hang out with that role model (Question #3 Person) and try and be more like them?
  5. To become more like Jesus, follow Him and those who live like Him.
REMEMBER: Add instead of Subtract.  Build People Up Instead of Down. (Ephesians 4:29)


After Camp (Day 6) Make Things Right

(Keep Reading: Day 5 or Day 7)

Is There Anyone You're Not Right With?

Make Things Right.


A Big Step in Making Things Right is Confession and Forgiveness.

Is someone upset at you for something you did wrong? 
Have you wronged someone and not asked for forgiveness yet?

Lead the way in vulnerability. Think about asking them for forgiveness.

As Christians, it's best that we relentlessly try and live in right relationship with God and others.

At camp, I taught you these 5 Elements Of Repenting and Apologizing to God and Others (below).

It's Important To Know:
You can control whether you forgive and ask for forgiveness, but you can't control or force someone else to forgive.
 
REMEMBER: Confessing Leads To Refreshing, So Confess to be Refreshed.  (Acts 3:19; James 5:16)
Right relationships are at the center of the gospel of Jesus.


DO YOU HAVE A READING PLAN:  Click to read Proverbs 6 
or Click Here for more Reading Options (at the bottom of this link)



(Keep Reading: Day 5 or Day 7)

After Camp (Day 7) Stand Up For What's Right

(Reading The Previous Posts: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6,)

Stand Up For What's Right.
Stand Up, Even When It's Hard.

It's been said that:
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil was that good men should do nothing"
-Edmund Burke- 

Life is Not Neutral!

This world needs the life changing love of Christ.
It needs us to live it out.

The most loving way to live, is through Christ each day.
CONSIDER:
Buying a Devotional to Read Daily From The List Below: 
You could even buy one for you and your friend to do it together!
  1. Teen to Teen: 365 Daily Devotions by Teen Girls for Teen Girls 
  2. Teen to Teen: 365 Daily Devotions by Teen Girls for Teen Guys
  3. God's Calling: Student Edition  
  4. Jesus Freaks
  5. The One Year Devotions for Kids 
  6. For Girls Only! Devotions  
  7. The One Year Devotions for Boys
  8. Daily Grace for Teens
  9. The One Year Josh McDowell's Youth Devotions
  10. The One Year Devotions for Teens: DEVOS

REMEMBER: WE'RE FORGED THROUGH THE FIRE & DIPS... SUNDAY'S COMING!



(RECAP):
  • Seek God More, See God More
  • Confess And Be Refreshed 
  • Surrender More And Sin Less
  • Weigh The Cost, Answer His Call
  • We're Forged Through The Fire ...Hard Fridays & Saturdays Are Coming, But So Are Resurrection Sundays!


    BIBLE READING PLAN? Click to read Proverbs 7

    Other Reading Options For a Chapter of Proverbs each day:



    (Reading The Previous Posts: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6,)

    Monday, May 02, 2016

    10 Great Things About Being A Dad


    In honor of it being exactly one year ago that we crossed a huge family milestone where Natasha & I received Roya & Alea's official adoption papers saying their last name has been changed to Dongell, here’s a list of some of my favorite moments as a dad over the past two years. (and yes I used stock photos for efficiency, even though I have a very photogenic family).

    Top 10 Things About Being A Dad
    1.     Carrying a snuggling sleepy daughter from the car to their bed.


    2.     Holding their small hands and walking and talking with your child. 
    3.     Laughing enjoyably together at something funny they are doing.


    4.     Taking them out for a food treat or tradition that they love.

    5
    .     Hearing cute conversations and explanations through their childlike voices and understanding.

    6.     Play fighting, wrestling, chasing, tickling, & tackling.


    7.     The satisfaction of calming your child down and putting them back in bed after they wake up in the middle of the night, without trying to wake your spouse (this might be only me).


    8.     Cute social interactions they have when they're meeting new people. 


    9.     Seeing your child be polite and bring joy into a stranger's world.



    10.  Having an excited daughter yell, “Daddyyyyy!” while running to give me a hug when arriving home from the work day.

    Sunday, May 01, 2016

    11 Things For Graduates To Remember Leaving Bible College Going Into Ministry

    A Kingswood graduate recently quoted my first book, The Hard Twenty Somethings

     



    With Kingswood University's Commencement/Graduation happening yesterday, I wished I had a second book to give the graduates.*  But since I don't have a second book yet, let me leave you with a few thoughts to guide and help avoid the disappointment gap between your expectations & reality that Dr. Steve Elliott so eloquently teaches in class.

    Here Are 11 Things To Remember Leaving Bible College Going Into Ministry

    1. God Given Life Paths Aren't As Linear As We Want. 
    Success comes through faith, love, obedience over accomplishments & prestige (although these can be fruit). Hebrews 10 tells us that the faithful don’t always receive or have a right to a “full” or happy ending here on earth.  Obedience doesn't equate a linear happy Christian life path.  God's even been known to lead the Israelites on a non-linear path on purpose.
      

    2. Expect To Be Expected To Create Your Own Support Community (Instead Of Inheriting One).
    It’s easy to experience loneliness the first year and ask, “Where are the other people my age?”

    You will most likely be the youngest leader or couple. You then are expected to bring in more people or couples like you. You’ll have to create a group of friends your age rather than getting to join a group already there. Some of you will be lonely because you didn’t realize you’ve inherited these instant communities in your lives through churches & school systems up until this point in life.


    3. Expect To Have To Create A New Culture To Make The Big Difference You Envision And Find Fulfillment.
    It’s easy to expect quick change & think, “I or we can fix this real quick if we just…”

    You’ve inherited a culture others have built.  Systems or symptoms can often be changed quicker than people.   Now, to see lasting change in your world, it won’t always come over night by making a lot of surface adjustments. You must now carry your attitude and values to a new level for a committed length of time to help build a new culture that changes this world.

    Be the change you want to see.
    Culture consistently takes multiples years of committed people to change. 


    4. Own Personal And Ministry Integrity As Your Own Responsibility To Find Fulfillment (Instead Of Your Pastor or Leader's Job).
    It’s easy to think, “Why don’t they pour into me more or probe deeper?”

    It’s most likely expected that you'll bring concerns or problems to your leader rather than them prying them out of you.

    When being hired, no one that I can remember has asked me if I had a porn problem.  It was just assumed or trusted, but can be dangerous & deadly if hidden and left unaddressed.

    A pastor can’t fully watch over your emotional/spiritual health, you must own living what you preach.  I believe that living a few morals with full conviction and dedication is often more respected than a hundred morals that appear to result in little or no life change.


    5. Fight For Your Spiritual Walk In The Midst Of Your Drive To Succeed.
    Don’t gain the whole ministry world and forfeit your soul and spiritual health.  

    A great leader or team will often require or encourage your devotional time & Sabbath days, but it's often the exception and not completely their responsibility (as mentioned above).

    We must make sure our spiritual disciplines, heart, & lifestyle can overflow and drive our ever growing responsibilities.

    “[A Young Leader] is both sincere and ambitious. A contradiction, perhaps, but true, nonetheless. He probably means some of what he says. But his ambition will continue long after he discovers his inability to do the things he promises.” A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards 
    “Your talent and giftedness as a leader have the potential to take you farther than your character can sustain you. That ought to scare you.” Next Generation Leader by Andy Stanley   


    6. Understand That Trust Is Built Not Inherited.
    It’s easy to be frustrated and confused, “Why won’t they trust me with more?”

    You're starting over… even if not with your boss, you are with other people... & trust rightfully must be built rather than inherited.

    You can be entrusted a lot of responsibility early on, but your influence and trust with people is still being built over time and through repeated experiences. (For example: people are wondering if you will accept their really "secular" friend or whether you will be discipleship "deep" enough for their calling.  You may have the title pastor, but they still don't know if you have yours or their best interest at heart.

    Be patient & okay with rebuilding trust, as you start in a new place. 


    7. Determine That Your Circumstances Will Make You Better, Not Bitter.
    It’s about turning lemons into lemonade, turning storms from disaster into dancing in the rain… One well known businessman has said that the “luck factor” in success isn’t luck.  It's the attitude difference between people who do or don't ask, “How can I turn this bad into the best possible good?”

    We must speak thankfulness, goodness, and good news into every circumstance in our lives (1 Thessalonians 5:18, Philippians 4:8)

    An example of this is Joseph's godly grace-filled response to his brother's who wronged Him who can say with full integrity, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." (Genesis 50:20)

    The beauty of this is the redemption of God that can take the son born from murder and out of an adulterous marriage and make him into the wisest man, call him “loved by God,” and allow him to build the very house and Temple of God.   


    8. Lead Through Face To Face Relationships & Conversations:
    We've all responded to an email or text by email or text that was misread.  We know we should've called or talked to them in person instead.

    Communicating and doing relationships well can’t be replaced. Even though Millenials are replacing phone calls and voicemails more and more with messaging by text, email, facebook, etc., Messages can be misinterpreted too easily.  Communication with weight issues is better face to face or by voice instead of text.  Vision is also best communicated and infused through a person speaking than a well crafted email.

    Facebook Messages, texts, and emails won’t inspire like leading face to face in relationships and conversations will.  It just can't be replaced.  Conveying vision is the same.   


    9. In The Local Church, You Aren’t Leading The Same Group Of Worship Leaders And Pastors Anymore. 
    You can't assume...

    It’s easy to go from Kingswood into a church a get little crowd response during the service and think, “This church is dead.” 

    You can't forget Kingswood is a Bible college where many churches or universities for that matter have the range of people from completely lost and disengaged to just starting to be committed to deep 80 year old followers of the Lord.  You will have to create a new culture and train deep to have the same response you would have from a group of trained worship leaders and pastors intensely working on their spiritual walk already sitting in the crowd ready to engage in worship.

    You can’t assume… as preachers that everyone believes they should care or naturally will want to be engage or be ready to hear from the word of God.
    You can’t assume… as worship leaders that everyone believes they should care or naturally will want to be engage in music or singing to God.

    You don’t have the same worship leaders & preachers infiltrating your crowd, so how will you lead this new setting into a greater sense of worship, investment, and deeper commitment. 


    10. Take The Initiative In Fixing Problems. 
    It’s easy to be watch a problem continue and be too embarrassed to walk in front of people to fix it and think, “That leader will fix it.” 

    We had Sharon Guptill come preach in chapel this year.  She had big hoop earrings on that kept making a clicking sound with her headset mic.  As a community of leaders and believers, we saw this distraction and none of us said anything about this distraction for too long as we all let it continue waiting for someone else to say something.  Similarly at my last church, we had a faulty blinking stage light that didn't get fixed for weeks and every week, it would start to act up as the preacher was in the middle of the message.  We should've fixed it earlier, but during the service, as soon as it started blinking I should've taken care of it, if the leadership behind wasn't.

    Take initiative in fixing problems when you know something needs to be fixed and everyone's sitting around waiting. 


    11. Always Be Driven By The Belief That The Gospel Of Jesus Transforms Lives, And Therefore Their Communities, Cultures, & The World. 
    We can be fatalistic and begin to see people or places as never being able to change. This isn’t the gospel message. Don’t give up.

    The gospel changed your life and many others.  The people that others thought could never change are forever changed.  People now, can't picture them the way they used to be.  The world is full of gray areas and people who doubt and plenty of hard circumstances.  You are in a battle where the enemy is trying to convince you to give up.  The gospel prevails.  You know it.  Continue to believe it and give your life to it.

    Go get em!!!
    Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58





    *My first book only had capacity to address half of the story for Christian young adults. I focused on reminding us that who we’re becoming is what matters as we’re navigating through the unexpected difficulties of early adulthood (and increasingly as single rather than married), but I didn’t give many directions/answers to the end goal of who we are to become and how to get there.





    Sunday, November 15, 2015

    10 Lessons About Relationships, Marriage, & Parenting (from my life)

     
    Just over a year ago, I went from a 30 year old traveled single pastor to a married husband (of a wife who lost her first husband 2 years earlier) father of their two kids in a rather overlooked part of the world in Canada (outside of my home country in the middle of adjusting to my second year of teaching as a professor).  I was recently asked to write about my journey, so here's a few thoughts (or pretty much a book) about relationships, marriage, & parenting for those who would enjoy to know the lessons I’m learning so far:

    1.     Turning Towards
    a.     Most recently I’ve been challenged by the concept of continually “Turning towards” you’re spouse instead of away.  It’s the difference between growing closer or feeling more distant (and despite my overwhelmed feelings at times of “not having the emotional energy or time” when I’m stressed), I’m realizing how much it makes a difference to keep turning towards my spouse instead of away.
    2.     The Last 10%
    a.     Bill Hybels from Willowcreek encourages the idea of saying “the last 10%” of what you're thinking that we so often hold back in conversations to really build trust and be at our best working together.  This truly is key to intimacy, despite it feeling so scary.  Most recently while my wife and I were talking on a Sunday afternoon drive, she was unpacking and exposing a ministry difference her and I have regarding our preference in church styles and I didn't want to respond because I knew she was at least partially right and it felt dangerous.  I knew I could potentially be walking into one of those unsolvable perpetual problems that only gets worse, taken personally, or creates more distance if we disagree and can’t figure it out, so I tried to keep my mouth shut.  But instead, there was an unresolved tension in the dead space until I decided to treat and trust this conversation like my other solid friendships where I talk out my opinion and we work through it together rather than trying to avoid a crucial conversation.  It was good to discuss the obvious unresolved issue below the surface (I turned towards my wife instead of away).  I had a knot in my stomach at first but we both felt heard and better understood after we talked through the last 10%... and trust had been built through our first year of marriage to have this conversation.  In fact, "Honesty" was the obvious winner out of seven qualities in one secular Valentines survey asking "which attribute humans look for and appreciate most in their significant other."
    http://divorcehelp360.com/what-keeps-a-relationship-going/
    b.     I heard Joseph Grenny who wrote Crucial Conversations, say there are two things necessary for a person to be ready to receive hard words from you when entering a difficult but necessary crucial conversation:
                                          i.     One, they must know you truly love/accept them.
                                        ii.     Two, they must know you truly want what’s best for them.
    The more this trust is established and known or felt (the more readily the last 10% conversations can happen).
    3.     A Good Distinction To Make: You Can Fully Love Someone without Fully Having to Trust Them… (while both together is the ultimate goal)
    a.     Love can remain intact while trust is broken or being built.  You can fully love your child or friend but not trust them with feeding your fish (if you know it’s not their strong point to be responsible). It doesn’t mean you don’t fully love them, yet you just don’t fully trust them with that task.  I know Natasha and we truly love each other and committed our lives to each other on the wedding altar, but I also knew that meeting and getting married so quickly (without a lot of previous life experience together), meant I would still be partially building trust into the marriage post wedding rather than priorWe built trust as we built life experiences together after the loving marriage and full lifelong commitment was made.  I was still earning or proving my wife’s trust to be true and right (which can feel or sound weird, but makes sense in my head).  I’m answering, affirming, and proving that I love her and want what’s best for her as I build trust).
    4.     The First Year Marriage Investment
    a.     I’ve taught in my marriage counseling (as a single pastor in the past ironically but more normal than you’d think) that marriage is like a money investment that will pay more dividends long-term the earlier you invest, especially during the first year of marriage.  My Old Testament professor Wilbur Williams from university said, “You keep your wife the way you caught her.”  I’m a firm believer and advocate for being intentional to do more investing together in each other during that first year.  For Natasha and I doing some crazy adjusting in our schedules and family structures, this meant spending more time and money on road trips, marriage counseling, books, and couple getaways together earlier on which I believe will be worth every invested dollar spent.
    5.     Getting Married Early Means More Time Alone Early On After The Wedding
    a.     Getting married quicker means, that after your honeymoon (if you have one), you will probably spend less time with your friends as you have to intentionally “date” your spouse the first year after marriage while still getting to know them and build your life experiences together.  In my head I had this assumption that we would get married and just  run off side by side to make friendships and tackle the world.  I knew we would grow face to face, but I somehow missed that where we lacked life experiences and face to face moments in our past, we would have to intentionally catch up and intentionally “log in” extra hours with each other to know each other deeply and live together well for the rest of our lives (so we invested early… which built trust… which has allowed us to have the last 10% conversations… so we turn towards each other more… you get how it works.)
    6.     It’s Weird, But You have to Love Yourself Well to Love Your Wife and Family Well.
    I first found this intriguing concept of love from St Bernard of Clairvaux in a book called Smart Stepfamily where he proposes that there’s another level of love beyond what we often see as the pinnacle Christian act of selflessly loving others for their own sake.  St. Bernard taught a fourth level beyond this where you love yourself to love others (see the progression below):
    a.     To love myself solely                (love self for self)
    b.     To love you for my sake           (love of God for what He gives)
    c.     To love you for your sake         (love of God for what He is)
    d.    To love myself for your sake    (love of one’s self for God’s sake)
    I’m more and more convinced that your greatest gift to others is yourself and what you give out of who you are more than what you "give" in you’re life in Christ  But too often we think our greatest gift comes out of our performance or love acts (incontingent or even in spite of whether our lives are currently healthy or dependent on God.  But those temporary acts will vanish.  Our greatest gift and example can’t come without healthiness since our greatest gift and impact is through our healthiness and abiding relationship in God rather than our loving acts or things apart from Him.)
    7.     The Space and Solitude Adjustment That Goes Away When Moving From Single to Married (and especially children).
    a.     For example, I didn’t realize how much I valued the free space I had while driving by myself in the car...  I let my thoughts run wild and listen to music really loud and dance or sing along when I want, and then didn't have that for months after the wedding.  My music choices, noise levels, and range of thoughts differed a little when it’s just me in the car for an hour versus having a wife sitting next to me upfront and two younger girls either asleep or ready to be entertained in the back.  I still enjoy the occasional joy ride getaway! :)   This is just one small but major adjustment… which also included at home.
    8.     Home Went from Neutral Free Space to a Potential Deficit or Positive Place.
    a.     Regarding the space adjustment just mentioned, also affected my Home space.  Where, as a single person, I could always retreat to my home as a Neutral space to do what I needed or wanted without outside pressures, I now came home this first year of marriage from a busy outside life often feeling like there was a deficit or place at home where I was failing to meet a standard by not spending enough time with my wife or the girls.  The positive of my new family meant there was more joy in both my work and home when things were going well, but it also meant home went from a neutral or positive place to another place I could feel like I was failing (my family) with little escape of my shortcoming on the days where both my work and family worlds weren’t going well.
    9.     We Must Choose The Intentional Discipline of Hope, Smiling, & Finding the Best Good in Our Bad Scenarios.
    a.     One of the biggest lessons I’ve been learning as key to a successful life, family, marriage, etc. is living a life of hope that chooses to look on the good things of God and life.  To be expectant of how God will redeem and use even the worst sins, trials, and obstacles in your life as a part of victory if you remain faithful and trust in Him.  I was told in university that a crying girl often just wants you to give her a hug and tell her “everything is going to be alright.”  Although this is generally true, this really works best when you actually do believe and know that everything is “going to be alright” because of your own expectant belief in the good and best that’s yet to come.  We must choose to ask ourselves how we and God can make the best possible good out of this bad scenario.  The obvious Scriptural base to this is clear with Phil 4:8, Rom 8:28, James 1:2-4,17
    b.     This is a deep core truth, I’m sure I’ll be writing more on.
    10.  I Humbly Desire a Lifelong Marriage.
    a.     I’ve been humbled lately by stories of broken marriages in ministry.  I’ve come home a few times just wanting to hug my wife for a long time to make sure that I treasure our marriage and she knows it.  I don’t know that calling marriage fickle is what I mean, but I’m becoming more aware of how the beginning signs or steps that act as a precursors to a rocky marriage or divorce aren’t far from each one of us without intentionality. 
    The The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work says,"80% of Divorcees said their marriage broke up because they gradually grew apart and lost a sense of closeness, or because they did not feel loved and appreciated. only 20-27% said extramarital affairs were even partially to blame."  The ways you can turn away from your marriage or spouse by not growing closer can be so subtle but also dangerous.
     Here are a Range Helpful of helpful Statistics surrounding Marriage & the Dangers/ Effects of Divorce for you and I as we continue towards a Healthy Marriage Mentality:








     





    Beginning Book Influences:
    a.     Bill Hybels & Crucial Conversations Joseph Grenny
    b.     The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work John M. Gottman
    c.     Sacred Marriage Gary Thomas
    d.     Choosing to Cheat Andy Stanley
    e.     Boundaries Henry Cloud & Townsend