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

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Finding Gold At Your House

A couple of summers ago my wife and I got to take an Alaskan cruise/tour. As I've talked about it earlier posts it was fantastic and we would go back in a heartbeat.

However, one of the fun things included in our schedule was a stop at a functioning gold mine and the chance to pan for gold. Having never done that before my wife and I like many others were pretty shaky in our technique.

I found myself swirling these little stones, sand and water around being fearful that I was going to lose the flecks of gold in the process. However our instructors reminded us that gold is the heaviest thing in the pan and it will stay there as it settles to the bottom. Sure enough after a good number of minutes we were left with just the gold. I still have those flecks of it in a drawer at home.

So often in life challenges or relationships we too can spend a lot of time on things that don't matter that much and miss the gold.  It's right there in the pan but we get all caught up with the other stuff.  What might gold look like?  Here are a few suggestions.

Gold might be the good things that come out of our challenges.  You may be going through an especially rough period right now.  And when those times come we can start feeling sorry for ourselves or stay focused only on the hard parts. Sometimes we need to see the little gold nuggets of good that are coming out of our climb and be thankful for those.

Gold might be the little positive things a child or spouse does even when we're not getting along or doing well. Go find some gold in that person today and you might look at them differently and handle the resolution of the conflict more positively.

Gold might be an opportunity to help someone else today rather than just focus on your own stuff.

God could be stopping and noticing the miracle of life, a sunrise or a mountain view that takes your breath away.  Stop and see the gold God has put all around you.

Get the idea?  You can find all sorts of gold if you'll just work at it a little. As they used to say, "There's gold in them thar hills," so look for bits of gold in your world.  You'll be richer for it.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

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

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The power of WE in a marriage

Every time I perform a wedding ceremony I am reminded on that day that this young couple is crossing a line that they can never cross back over.

They are letting go of their single, self-focused lifestyle, habits and preferences to every day blend who they are with another person who is likely quite different. No longer are their finances or time or ways of doing things solely their own.

When they say "I do" and recite their vows they are essentially giving up some of their individuality to be replaced with living in the WE.  Yes, they still remain people with their own personalities, interests and styles. Those things can brings a richness and flavor to the life of the other and vice versa.

But as many couples do not understand, it's not you or me anymore, it's WE.  We now have money, a house, children, hopes and dreams together. When our views on those things differ or conflict, WE have to work them out.  When we dream about a personal interest or goal WE still have to think it through together. We now must learn to hear and understand the dreams of the other before we simply go off to do our own.

I talk to couples all the time who think of their money, work, time and leisure in terms of MY instead of US.  That kind of thinking will devastate a marriage.

So what are some common habits and actions of couples who think in terms of WE:

1. They talk about their decisions together before they make them. They treat one another with respect by asking each other's opinions, considering the consequences on the other of any action or choice and are willing to back down when the other person shares a good reason for not doing something.

2. They do things together all the time. No, not exclusively. There is lots of room for invididual time and interests. But they refuse to live as though they are just two nice people living under the same roof.

3. They don't act possessive about anything. They believe that "what's yours is mine and what is mine is yours."  There is simply no hoarding or guarding of one's stuff. It just doesn't matter.

4. They don't have secrets about their money, possessions or purchases. Everything is done and bought with the blessing and oversight of the other. One may have the permission and blessing to buy certain things on a regular basis but that decision is also made together.

So what's the atmosphere like in your home? Is it a place of WE or ME.  Aim high in your marriage and make it a place where WE is celebrated. It's the best way.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

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

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Be Careful: Your Obedience Can Become Obsession

I don't typically write "theological" or Christian walk posts on this blog because my purpose is to focus on very practical ideas that will help marriages and families. However, I feel compelled to write one that I'm confident will impact at least the spiritual training and modeling we do for our children.

I've noticed over the years that many well-meaning people turn their Christ-following (or at least that is what they would term it) into a kind of legalistic, this-is-how-you-do-it way of life and set of personal practices.

For example, there are people who are devoted students of the Bible who attend Bible studies and the pages of their Scriptures are filled with notes and underlining. However, they think that every teaching or preaching of the Word must then be verse by verse and dig deeply into the Greek or Hebrew or it's not good teachng.  They snub their noses at those who attend those easy studies and groups.

They can probably tell you the outlines to the books of Romans and Ephesians. The problem is their marriages are often shallow or falling apart and their kids are a mess. They spend little time applying the Scriptures to life. They just obsess about how many details they know and can spout off about them.

Others obsess about their personal spiritual habits - how much they fast, how often they attend church, their prayer time or how much they give. All those are wonderful and potentially lifechanging spiritual practices but we're told often in Scripture that the goal of any of our habits and obedience must be that Christ increase and we decrease, that God be glorified in us.

Even the more current phrases like being missional or spiritual formation can become someone's book theme that now tells us just the way those words should be lived out in a home, community or church. The message seems to be . . . you know, our church has finally figured out how to do this thing called being a Christian and the rest of you are probably doing it wrong.

Of course, we ought to learn from the wisdom and experiences of others. And many times people who have gone before us do have ideas, concepts and other insights that can help us or our family grow. But be careful that what was supposed to be simple obedience to Christ in us or others doesn't turn into simply another form of works that God clearly told us would never get us to God or ultimately please Him if it was only for our own benefit. There is a better way. Just follow Jesus.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

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

Friday, January 11, 2013

Sometimes It's OK To Get A Little Help

I had some time this week with a couple of my grandsons and the oldest, a five-year-old, wanted me to learn the latest version of Angry Birds. However, I had just been exposed to the original one, so I was still a bit of a novice.

Nonetheless, we started into the new Star Wars game and I began to try to learn what all these different birds do. At one point I asked, "How do I get to that pig down there in the corner?"  To which Jeremiah replied, "Grandpa, now watch carefully this time."

He was right. I needed to observe what he did more carefully and spend less time trying to figure it all out by myself.

I think we can learn some similar  lessons ourselves about the hard things we face in our marriages, families or life in general. Sometimes we need to be willing to have others help us. We may need people who have walked the road before us to share their wisdom . . . and we need to listen to them.

We may need finances, food, a gift card, a loan of a cabin or condo to take the pressure off of what we're facing.  And yet so often our pride gets in the way and we refuse.  And we pay the price - emotionally, physically or even spiritually.  We lose out and end up worse off when we don't let the Jeremiah's of the world model healthy behavior for us or share some resources that we desperately need.

If you're going through a hard time get some help. Counseling won't kill you and doesn't mean you're stupid. Have a mentor?  You might consider it. Someone offering to take your kids at certain times so you can get some rest?  Let them do it. It doesn't mean you're a bad parent.

Does a friend or your church want to give you some money to get you through a hard time?  Often we refuse because we think we look bad and can't provide. Let them do it anyway. God put these people in your way for a reason.  We spoil others' opportunity to get a blessing too when we don't let them help.

So, if you're struggling, it might be a good time to listen to someone close to you who has some insights that could be helpful. It's never good to be in the darkness alone.

Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

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