Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Role Of Prayer in A Troubled Marriage

Ryan and Diana are ready to call it quits on their marriage. Married only eight years with 2 young children, they don't see any way to save the union that they promised less than a decade ago to protect and cherish until death parted them.

Now the only thing they want is something else and relief. The arguments, loneliness and lack of closeness are now a dark cloud that neither of them wants to stand under any longer.

They've talked with a lawyer and are already acting as though the relationship is finished.  They just live in the same house.

And there are thousands of couples just like them. They sense there is no hope so they've given up. And while if you asked them if they ever prayed about their problems they would probably say "every day," it's possible that they've still missed out on an opportunity in prayer that could save their marriage.

And if Ryan and Diane, who are not real, could be your marriage then I want to ask you to consider one more thing before you call it quits. Would you and your spouse be willing to call a truce for thirty days so that you can very intentionally and purposefully pray for your marriage?

By truce I mean that you lay aside any talk of divorce. You also quit talking down to or about each other. You live in your home as civilly as possible and begin to treat each other with respect, at least for the time being.

And then you commit every day to pray passionately and specifically for yourself and your spouse.  What do you pray for?  Here are some possibilities:

Pray for truth in each other. Jesus said that the truth will set you free.  So pray that God will reveal in each of you things that you individually or together need to change or deal with.

Second, pray for a softening of each other's hearts. There is probably lots of anger, resentment and bitterness but God is a big God.  Give Him a chance to touch you both. Pray for yourself as well as your spouse.

Third, pray for hope. Pray that each of you can get beyond the past and commit to doing the hard things it will take to change the future. Remember God is a God of second chances and each of you deserve that.

Finally, pray for the right people to come around you and help you move forward.  Pray for 30 days with the last few days including some prayer together. I realize there are no guarantees that you will both still decide to move forward. But if you've never really asked God for help and to give you the strength for a miracle, you'll never know if one could have happened.

Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

Friday, September 14, 2012

A Powerful Oxymoron For Every Parent.

You know what an oxymoron is, right? It's two words put together that are actually opposites. For example, jumbo shrimp or pretty ugly or living dead. Well, there is one I've coined over the years that has significant implications for parenting.

The oxymoron is firm nonchalance.  Let me explain. Every wise parent needs to set fair, clear boundaries for their children. If bedtime is 9 then we ought to hold to that other than some special exceptions. If you ask kids to do a chore you ought to follow through and see that it's done. If you expect a child to do his or her homework before playing you need to make sure that happens.

That's the firm part.

The problem is that too many parents try to enforce or reinforce the firmness with anger or the loud sound of their voice. Ryan, haven't I told you five times now to pick up your toys!  Carissa, don't make me come in there and drag you out of the room!  Why won't you do what I say when I ask you to?

This is where the nonchalance comes in. At the first request for Ryan to pick up his toys, the wise parent says, Ryan, did you hear me? Look at me. You need to pick those toys up now. Ryan responds, But mom, I just need to finish this section of the Legos.

Wise parent calmly but firmly replies, Ryan, I need you to do that now. Ryan: Mom, that's just not fair. You're so mean. Wise mom: I guess I am tonight. Sorry but you still need to pick up your toys.

You keep the boundaries but leave the extra emotion to the side.

Now I realize this isn't a perfect system but trust me, staying cool, but firm, accomplishes way more than going ballistic.  If your kids know there is a point where you'll blow a gourd anyway they will learn to wait for that moment because that's when they know you are serious.

Don't give them that option. Let them know you can keep your cool but you mean it.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Having KIds Who Still Love The Little Things

The other night my wife Jackie and I attended a AAA baseball game here in Austin. If you're not that familiar with the structure of baseball, AAA is the level just below the major leagues, in our case the Texas Rangers. Nonetheless, it's a fun night at a very nice ballpark but you won't see many current stars at a game like this unless they are trying to come back from an injury.

Anyhow, we were sitting down the third base line in the 4th row and there was a young boy, maybe 10 or 11, there with his grandpa. He had his baseball glove with him and like most young boys hoped he would catch a foul ball. However, in these games the players coming off the field will often throw the ball they caught and ended the inning with to one of the kids in the stands.

Every inning this young man called out to the players hoping a ball would come his way. But every inning he was disappointed . . . until the 8th inning when one of the players saw him and threw his ball right into the kid's glove. You should have seen his face. You would have thought this was the best day of his life. And maybe it was. It doesn't matter.

What struck me was how special that ball was to him. It was no big deal, really. These weren't major league players, at least not yet, and of course the ball wasn't signed. It probably only cost a few dollars to the team. But it was gold to that young man.

And I found myself thinking how few kids, at least in our middle to upper class neighborhoods have learned the joy of getting something as simple as a baseball. When so many young people get hundreds of dollars spent on them every Christmas, birthday and new school year, and they have entitled access to the best of computers, iPads and video games, why would something so insignificant as a ball matter?

So how do we teach our kids to appreciate the little things and to be thankful for what they have?  First, don't give them so much. That sounds pretty easy and it is, but our kids need to live in a world of enough not more if they are going to learn the value of things. Cut back on how much they have, let them work a little more for at least part of some of the bigger purchases and help them practice living with only two or three of something instead of ten.

Second, expose them to other cultures and settings where people don't have much at all. Those places may be across town or the ocean but we will open the eyes of our kids to situations they didn't know existed where people live every day wishing for one new piece of clothing or just enough to eat.

Third, give them opportunities to serve others. Start early modeling that real life is found more in giving and serving than getting and taking. Help them find ways to give some of their stuff away and experience the joy of watching someone else smile like I saw that young man smile at the game.

Is it any wonder that we live in a country where entitlements are such a big deal?  Maybe we can help our kids to learn in the next decade or two that true life is found more in what we give than what we have.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.