Monday, October 12, 2009

Correction: Do you Embrace It or Despise It??

Every year my husband has had to go through a review at his job. The review (which consists of pages upon pages) contains input from many of his authorities AND peers on how he can do better. It is NOT a "pat on the back" and NOT to make him "feel good" but rather to show him areas where he needs to CHANGE. He could deny the things listed there saying "I don't do those things." "The results are great; don't question the process…" "That's the way I am!" BUT his reaction to correction determines his future with the company.

Same with sports figures. The call of the referee becomes part of their game. Whether "right" or "wrong" if the referee calls a foul, the player better lift his hands higher, and tweak his game to the point where it is acceptable to the referee. If the coach corrects the player for something, he better not deny what the coach sees or the referee sees: because his reaction to correction determines his future with the game.

I was teaching a class on parenting and we were looking at the area of correction and how our children are taught to respond to correction when it comes. It is obvious that many children feel that correction and discussion are synonyms. When many children are corrected, they become defensive rather than reflective; they feel threatened rather than challenged to change. Unfortunately, I believe this attitude comes from the way that parents receive correction from authorities or peers in their lives. Unfortunately as well, our children's reaction to correction determines their future success.

When a student takes a test, and gets some of the answers wrong, a wise student accepts the information gladly. Rather than defending their wrong answers or saying that the teacher is wrong, a wise student studies up and gets help understanding where they are falling short, so that they can improve their grade. Their reaction to correction determines their grade/success in the class and grasping the material.

Driving down the highway or even down the road, many a wise driver has checked their rear view mirror to determine if a car is driving in their blind spot. Because they check areas not readily seen, many accidents are averted. Their reaction to what is in their blind spots determines their success on the road.

If we are going to go from glory to glory (2 Cor 3.18) and the path of the just is as a shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day, then we need to embrace and accept correction. Even when coming from an antagonistic source, we need to look for any verity or truth in the observation and accept the correction and change. If we are "coming off" a certain way, we need to tweak our behavior, look at our heart, adjust our motives and change to get to the next level.

Do not become complacent by avoiding times with God where you ask HIM to examine your heart and motives to see where you need to change. Many times you may feel pretty good lining yourself up against your peers, but when you get in the presence of the Lord, you become like Isaiah crying out "woe is me for I am undone… I am a man of unclean lips, for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!" (Is 6.5)

“Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psa 139:23-24 AMP)

My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline, but don’t be crushed by it either. It’s the child he loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces, he also corrects. God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.” (Heb 12:5-11 MESSAGE)

Proverbs 13:18 - Poverty and shame come to a person who ignores discipline, but whoever pays attention to constructive criticism will be honored.

Proverbs 15:32 He who refuses and ignores instruction and correction despises himself, but he who heeds reproof gets understanding.

Proverbs 3:11 My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: 12 For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.

The fool brushes off correction, refusing to grow as a person or spiritually. The fool defends himself in the face of any one who has the courage or love enough to approach them with blindspots, or even against a hostile person who brings to the surface some blindspots they have in their lives. Refusing to go from glory to glory, they are content to stay the same…

That is not God's plan for you! He doesn't want you to feel condemned, but rather convicted, which leads to change and growth for you!

“For godly grief and the pain God is permitted to direct, produce a repentance that leads and contributes to salvation and deliverance from evil, and it never brings regret; but worldly grief (the hopeless sorrow that is characteristic of the pagan world) is deadly [breeding and ending in death].”

(2Cor 7:10 AMP)

Challenge: Are you going from glory to glory by receiving correction? Are you demonstrating to your children and to others that you are open to be corrected without being defensive? Be an example of LOVING correction and GROWING personally and spiritually CONSTANTLY! I challenge you to live out the Stephen Curtis Chapman song: BRING IT ON! Knowing it will make you better, stronger, and equip you more, BRING ON THE TEST so you can get stronger and stronger and see what is inside of you!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Way Out: You need to GIVE it AND to TAKE it!

Ever been caught in a crossfire between a couple? Where the words or attitudes start flying, and the statements being made go a little deeper each statement? The couples that have the most effective communication are couples that know how to make a way out of the cycle...

I've been around couples who are constantly looking to give the other that "way out" of an open disagreement. One person may say, "you know, you haven't emptied the garbage lately..." or ANY such statement relating to something they've "fallen short" of. Instead of reacting, the person says something like, "awww..... I need to empty the garbage more for you to show you I love you, don't I?!" -- and the argument swiftly ends!

I've also been around couples where one statement leads to another and there doesn't seem a graceful way for either to then enter back into the normal conversation.

One of the most IMPORTANT things you need to learn in your marriage is how to GIVE and TAKE a "way out" of provoking, accusative statements or cycles.

Think ahead of ways to GIVE a way out to your spouse: ways of throwing them a "lifeline" to grab hold of before they drown (mostly because we're the ones who pushed them out of the boat to begin with!) If the conversation is getting more accusative or threatening or finger-pointing at THEM, instead look to lighten it up and let them "keep face". Things like: "Well, you may not be too good at ________, but your intentions are the BEST....;" "Oh, you're so cute, if I can just LOOK at you who CARES if I have to do all the dishes myself!...;" "I know you'd help me more if I really asked you to...;" "Don't worry, I'm working on a few areas MYSELF that I need to get better at!" or something like that where your spouse can gracefully enter back into a normal conversation...

Think of ways to TAKE a "way back" if the accusations are being hurled against YOU! Grab a lifeline from statements like, "You know, I have been a little oblivious to his/her need in this area, I need to pay more attention!;..." "I know it's been difficult for him/her; I need to help out more...;" "I really need to work on being a better husband/wife!;..." ANYTHING to show your TRUE (hopefully) humility and acknowledge SOMETHING on where the hidden or outright accusatory statements lie.

Challenge: LISTEN to what your spouse is saying and acknowledge the accusatory remarks or diffuse them effectively; and LISTEN to the way YOU are speaking TO and ABOUT your spouse and give a generous amount of GRACE to let them now drown in the sea of accusations!

Read the Recipe for a Happy Marriage Poem below and see which ingredients you need to be sure to add more of in YOUR MARRIAGE to be sure it stays happy and healthy!

Recipe For A Happy Marriage Poem

4 cups of Love
2 cups of Loyalty
Dash of Faith
3 cups of Kindness
4 cups of Understanding
1 cup of Friendship
5 spoonfuls of Hope
1 barrel of Laughter
Pinch of Forgiveness (no substitutions)
Dash of Thoughtfulness (not optional)

Take love and loyalty and mix thoroughly with faith.
Blend in kindness and understanding, add friendship and hope.
Sprinkle abundantly with laughter. Garnish with forgiveness and thoughtfulness.
Bake with sunshine.
Serve daily with generous helpings.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Beneath the Surface

Proverbs 20.5-7 A motive in the human heart is like deep water, and a person who has understanding draws it out. Many people declare themselves loyal, but who can find someone who is really trustworthy? A righteous person lives on the basis of his integrity. Blessed are his children after he is gone.

A man or woman of understanding will see the heart and motives and innermost thoughts of their spouses and "draw it out" in understanding them and trying to meet their needs. We need to be that someone who is "really trustworthy" -- not just who "declares themselves loyal" but is REALLY trustworthy to our spouses. They can TRUST us with their innermost feelings. We make time for them to discuss things with us, maybe even things we don't agree with, but we truly listen to hear their heart. A wise woman or man makes notes of things going on in their spouse's life and tries to help their spouse through difficult situations or times. This may mean hiding it in your heart and doing something about it later, or addressing the issues their spouse is trying to communicate.

See beneath the surface. Is your spouse truly irritated at every little thing in life all of a sudden, or is something "bigger" bothering them that they need to talk through and deal with? Do you notice that your spouse is isolating him/her-self all of a sudden and not interested in talking things through? Be that person who has understanding and draws their feelings out. Be creative in doing this, and show yourself to be trustworthy of them committing their thoughts to you. Give their thoughts consideration and credence, acknowledge how they feel, and then have wisdom on how to proceed.

When you see a tip of an iceberg in the water, you need to know that 90% of the iceberg is UNDER WATER. This is an important precept to remember in your marriage and in any relationship: if you see a "tip" of something surface, remember that there is a LOT going on underneath the surface!

Have and live integrity too. Keep your partner's secrets to yourself only. Never share negative things about your spouse to others who may not have the benefit of seeing all the good things they do, and may not have the grace to deal with the things they need to work on. Your spouse will know if you share negative things about them to your friends and family, and it will tend to isolate them, which is a serious problem for many couples. Have integrity behind closed doors. Be honest with others; be honest with yourselves. Be honest with your spouse. Be truthful, trustworthy, loyal, conscientious. Live an open and honest life... And your children will be blessed (fortunate, happy, to be envied). The opposite is true as well. When you do NOT live righteously (the RIGHT way) with integrity, your children will follow suit, and their lives will be cursed.

Challenge: Live BIG. Work hard at being a person of understanding who draws the heart of their spouse out and helps them be the best they can be ALWAYS. Take time for this most important part of your relationship! And live righteously with integrity, making a difference for generations to come...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Put your HEART into it!

"The heart makes commitments, the will makes choices, and behavior is where it all comes out. The heart work, or lack of it, is revealed in behavior, what you see every day… Sometimes what's going on in the heart is a mystery, but behavior is always on display."

So began the Bible study on parenting that I am teaching at our Church on Tuesday mornings, and from which this study is taken from. (Parenting is Heart Work – order book here if interested.)

I was thinking of how much (as usual) these "heart principles" relate to our marriages.

What do you see from your spouse's behavior that reveals where their heart is?

What do you see from you OWN behavior that reveals where YOUR heart is?

This is a challenging and paramount question since Proverbs tells us:

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it ARE the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23

How do you determine what is in YOUR heart (so you can change and go from "glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord – 1 Cor 3.18) or in the heart of your spouse (so you can see areas that your marriage needs to be worked on)?


Luke 6.45 tells us that from the abundance of our hearts our mouths speak. This means that if you simply listen to what is coming out of your mouth you will hear where your heart is. Sometimes this "showcase" of my heart (what I am saying!) makes me realize areas that I need to submit more to the Lord and deal with in my life to get rid of termites that can eat away at the best that God has for me (Song 2.15).

Listen and make mental notes of what your spouse is saying too, and although you don't need to point things out on the spot, look for creative ways to improve your relationship by addressing things on your spouse's heart that their words reveal.

The greatest enemy of listening is wanting to tell your own story. Be careful not to give your opinions too quickly, or others will shut down their hearts from receiving any input from you! An accepting, safe, listening ear often opens the heart in ways that nothing else can.

What do you treasure?

What are you or your spouse interested in? What do you think about – where do you spend money – what do you want to do? Matthew 6.21 tells us that where our treasure (deposit) is, there will our hearts be also. This is key. Desires, hopes, dreams, wishes… these all start in the heart and then come out in conversation.

We invest in the things that are in our hearts. We need to inspire our spouses, and be inspired OURSELVES by the Lord, to get a bigger vision for life and have the RIGHT things to set our hearts on! We need to be aware of things that aren't bad in themselves, but that we know don't contribute to our growth as a person, and we need to limit the time we spend on those things.

When you see something in your behavior or your spouse's behavior, ask "What's the HEART issue?" Then develop a strategy that addresses both the heart issue and the behavior.

The solution needs to acknowledge the behavior problem and work toward different actions. At the same time the deeper heart issues need to be challenged. By taking a two-pronged approach, you can bring about lasting change while learning appropriate behavior conducive to the desired outcome for your marriage!

We need to learn to look at our behavior and the things we say with discerning eyes, and see our hearts through the things we say and do. And we need to be CHALLENGED to consistently look for and apply ourselves to change our hearts so that we may more and more consistently grow into the best that the Lord has us to be in our marriages and in our lives!

“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

(Psa 139:23-24 KJVS)

Challenge: What does our words and behavior show us about our hearts that needs to be tweaked, addressed, or completely overhauled? What does our spouse's words and behavior show us about where their hearts are – areas that we can be a part of positive change? Allow the Lord to infuse HIS love and HIS power into your heart and watch the difference reflected in our words and actions!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Lifting Each Other Up!

This Scripture stands out at me the past few days…

If we could take one thing from this study today, it would be to

truly SUBMIT to one another in our marriages.  It is an awesome picture if you see each person constantly trying to SUPPORT their spouse, for the good of their marriage and direction together, lifting the other person UP by coming under their authority, with both people submitting one to another…


WHY?  In the FEAR of God – terrified to do otherwise.  Why not:  as you REALLY understand the end result of disobeying God in this area, you WOULD be fearful! 


“Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another. Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands. Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage. No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That’s how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become “one flesh.” This is a huge mystery, and I don’t pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband.”

(Eph 5:21-33 MESSAGE)


One thing that is interesting though is where it says to submit to one another out of "fear" of God. 


"Fear" is actually "phobos" –  "(to be put in fear); alarm or fright: — be afraid, + exceedingly, fear, terror."


Other places it is translated are:


         Matthew 28.4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.


         Luke 21:26 Men’s hearts failing them for fear,


         Acts 5:5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.


         Romans 3:18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.


         2Corinthians 5:11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.


         2Corinthians 7:1   Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.


         Philippians 2:12   Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.


         1Peter 3:2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.


         Jude 23 And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.


The word "submit" means:  TO SUBDUE – overcome, quieten, or bring under control; bring under control by force; SUBMIT – accept or yield to the authority or control of another person


Monday, August 31, 2009

Decisions Decisions Decisions

Over the last 28 years, I am so glad that my husband and I have worked through different ways to make decisions and come to solutions together.  Every day presents myriads of things that need to be answered, addressed, and decided upon as couples.  Usually, and to keep things interesting, both of us rarely feel the exact same way about ANY thing.  

At first the issues are simple, or the decisions are "self-made" thus there isn't really a decision at all (for example, where do we go on vacation -- since we started out without any funds, the choice was made FOR us instead of BY us, or the options were so narrowed as to preclude opinions).

But other decisions are CONSTANTLY being decided:

what should we have for dinner?
where should we go for vacation?
how much should we spend on any given item?
where should we spend the holidays?
who should we hang with on the weekend?
what should we save for?
how much should we save vs. spend?
how much should our house cost?
where should we live?
where should our children go to school?
where should we go to church?
what movie should we watch?
should our children play with guns?
what is our limit for ratings on the shows we watch?
what is the curfew for our children?
and on and on and on... ... ...

Here are a few tips we've learned that have helped us in making decisions, both large AND small:

*Straight off, I knew my husband was the leader in my home and that any "deciding votes" went to him.  

*CONSIDER one another's opinions.  Let the other person say their opinion (without interrupting) and actually RE-STATE what they said BACK to them until they know you heard them right.  

*TRY to come to a decision where both parties agree.  We agreed in selecting furniture that there was enough choices to find something we could both live with rather than where one or the other weren't happy.

*LISTEN to the reasons the other person doesn't share your opinion.  Try to look at things from their eyes.  Often, when I would listen to Gary's concerns, I saw issues that could come up that I wouldn't have thought of.

*WORK TOGETHER until you KNOW that you KNOW that the other person is COMMITTED to your good and happiness.  Knowing the other person is not out to make you miserable or to destroy you is a FOUNDATION for trusting them in their decision-making processes.

*Make sure you consider what the other person is saying and MAKE IT IMPORTANT to you if it is important to them.  Try to bend over backwards trying to make the other person's goals happen, so that when there are good reasons NOT TO, it doesn't seem like you always need things done "your way".  

*Re-commit and re-commit and re-commit to the good of the "marriage" and not SIMPLY the "good of the individual" so that ALL decisions are made within that scope.

*Make sure that WHEN (not "if" but "when") mistakes are made in the final decision, that you don't throw it back at the person.  

*Understand when you have to make a decision that the other person is unhappy about then be sad with them, and when you can make decisions that make the other person glad, then be glad with them!

*Follow the simple commands the Lord gave us:  husbands LAY DOWN YOUR LIFE for your wives; and wives, RESPECT your husbands.

*Submit to each other.   Because you fear God.  (Eph 5.21)

Challenge:   Change your decision-making process until it is one where you BOTH benefit from the other's perspective.  Respect each other's perspective, and consider it when deciding issues.  Try to make decision making a STRENGTH in your relationship -- because there are SO SO MANY decisions to make!  

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How Close Will You LET (ALLOW) Others to Be to You?

I'll never forget when my older brother Sam got married. I was about 12 years old at the time, and he married the (hot) girl from down the street (the one that all the guys liked to hang around while he was in Viet Nam!)
That started it, and as we added more and more people to the family, it was interesting and fun to see family get-togethers get bigger and bigger and bigger.

I was talking to Gabe today about some of the wonderful things my mom taught me when that started happening in our family: things that are happening NOW in MY family as MY kids are getting married one after another!

My Mom always said "open your circle and LET someone in"! She taught us the value of embracing the relationships that our siblings brought into the family. When you start to realize it, you live about 20-some years at your home and hopefully you'll live much more than that with your spouse and amongst the spouses your siblings choose.

So EMBRACE those relationships. I am SO GLAD we loved and accepted our "new" brothers and sisters into our hearts. Over the years, many times, they stepped in to play important roles when the siblings that we were raised with couldn't.

Even as parents, my husband and I have so appreciated the change to add our new sons and daughter to our family! We are SO EXCITED to have the change to be a Dad and Mom to Amber, Gabe, and Mike (and SOON Brandon!). Yes, yes, yes, we realize they weren't BORN to us, nor did we go through their elementary, junior high or high school years with them (well, with SOME of them we did – but NOT as their parents!), but when they married our children, they get US as parents from that point on. We take that role very seriously, and are excited to love them and provide for them as parents AS MUCH AS THEY LET US. We look forward to imparting wisdom we have, treating them as much as we can, and being there for them AS MUCH AS THEY LET US.

One thing about the Girgenti family that the Budzinski family has carried on is the extreme love, devotion and loyalty to our relationships. When my children came to me while dating with their problems, they would be SO MAD that I would "take the side" of Amber, Gabe, Michael, and Brandon. But I figured they already KNEW their "own" side, and I needed to "stick up for" their significant others, and help my children see their significant others' "sides"!

Even when my children go to each other, we all fiercely protect the one who is being complained about… We are about ONENESS and we fiercely protect the person not there! I have seen the total opposite in most families: I have seen families literally "gang up" on people that weren't born into the family, causing hard feelings, division and break-ups.

One friend of mine recently even told me about her husband's family having all their "natural born" kids go on a trip and left all the people they married behind because they weren't their "kids"!!!! That is CRAZY to me – I cannot understand how after over 20 years of marriage, parents still don't realize that the people their children married ARE their children as MUCH AS THEY LET THEMSELVES BE. My Mom has told me that because she LET the people her children married become as her own, they have brought so many blessings to her life in that capacity.

Challenge: OPEN your circle; OPEN your heart; and LET your children's and your sisters' and brothers' spouses IN – WATCH the LOVE grow and LIVE an AMAZING life of VICTORY and AMAZEMENT as you learn about the FAMILY of God from YOUR family!

Psalms 68:6 God places the solitary in families…

Proverbs 10:22 GOD’S blessing makes life rich;
nothing we do can improve on God.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Advice from Gary to our Newlyweds!

I wanted to share a few rules or principles of living A Better Way to Live together...

Rule 1 -
Count your blessing. Appreciate the assets you already possess.

Rule 2 -
Today, and every day, deliver more than you are getting paid to do. The victory of success will be half won when you learn the secret of putting out more than is expected in all that you do. Make yourself so valuable in your work that eventually you will become indispensable. Excercise your privilege to go the extra mile, and enjoy all the rewards you receive. You deserve them!

Rule 3 -
Whenever you make a mistake or get knocked down in life, don't look back at it too long. Shake off your blunders. Never quit. If you want to succeed, you must learn to live with failure. The only people who never fail are those who never, never try.

Rule 4 -
Always reward your long hours of labor and toil in the very best way, surrounded by your family. Nuture their love carefully, remembering that your children need models, not critics, and your own progress will hasten when you constantly strieve to present your best side to your children.

Rule 5 -
Build this day on a foundation of pleasant thoughts. Let the vision in your heart be in your life's blueprint. Smile!

Rule 6 -
Let your actions always speak for you, but be forever on guard against the terrible traps of false pride and conceit that can halt your progress.

Rule 7 -
Each day is a special gift from God, and while life may not always be fair, you must never allow the pains, hurdles, and handicpas of the moment to poision your attitude and plans for yourself and your future.

Rule 8 -
Never again clutter your days or nights with so many menial and unimportant things that you have no time to accept a real challenge when it comes along. This applies to play as well as work. A day merely survived is no cause for celebration. Leave time, leave space, to grow. Now, Now! Not tomorrow!

Rule 9 -
Live this day as if it will be your last. Remember that you will only find "Tomorrow" on the calendars of fools. This is your day! Never treat time as if you had an unlimited supply.

Rule 10 -
Beginning today, treat everyone you meet, friend or foe, loved one or stranger, as if they were going to be dead at midnight. Extend to each person, no matter how trivial the contact, all the care and kindness and understanding and love that you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward.

Rule 11 -
Laugh at yourself and at life. Never take yourself too seriously.

Rule 12 -
Never neglect the little things. Never skimp on that extra effort, that additional few minutes, that soft word of praise or thanks, that delivery of the very best that you can do. It does not matter what others think, it is of prime importance, however, what you think about you. You can never do your best, which should be your trademark, if you are cutting corners and shirking responsibilities. You are special. Act it. Never neglect the litle things!

Rule 13-
Welcome every morning with a smile. Be a self-starter. Today will never happen again. Don't waste it with a false start or no start at all. You were not born to fail. Open to the obituary page!

Rule 14 -
You will achieve your grand dream, a day at a time, so set goals for each day -- not long diffucult projects, but chores that will take you, step by step, toward your rainbow. Write them down, if you must, but limit your list so that you won't have to drag today's undone matters into tomorrow. Remember that you cannot build your pyramid in twenty-four hours. Be patient. Never allow your day to become so cluttered that you neglect your most important goal -- to do the best you can, enjoy this day, and rest satisfied with what you have accomplished.

Rule 15 -
Never allow anyone to rain on your parade and thus cast a pall of gloom and defeat on the entire day. Nothing external can have any power over you unless you permit it. Guard your fragile life carefully. Only God can shape a flower, but any foolish child can pull it to pieces.

Rule 16 -
Search for the seed of good in every adversity. Master that principle and you will own a precious shield that will guard you well through all the darkest valleys you must traverse. So will you learn things in adversity that you would never have discovered without trouble. "That's terrific"...

Rule 17 -
Realize that true happiness lies within you. Waste no time and effort searching for peace and contentment and joy in the world outside. Remember that there is no happiness in having or in getting, but only in giving. Reach out. Share. Smile. Hug. Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without geting a few drops on yourself.

What a blessing to share these past 40 days. Remember to focus on the urgent and not the important priorities today. Your priorities are to enjoy each other and this precious day.

What a blessing to witness Karen working side by side with each and all of you preparing for this day. She has been the love of my wife these 28 years. Thank you Karen for your dedication and agape love. I love you.
Your passion is so contagious during this entire process and time.

I have three precious things which I hold fast and prize. The first is gentleness;, the second is frugality;, the third is humility......
Be gentle and you can be bold ; be frugal and you can be liberal; avoid putting yourself before others and you can become a leader among men or women.

Practice what you preach....I have heard this expressed so many true to do what I know is right. The principles of righteousness are truth and the outcome is zoe life.

Your dreams will come true when your ways will please the Lord and your marriage will be blessed when you follow His steps.

Enjoy this day. Great memories. Treasure this time. I never did anything alone. Whatever I accomplished was accomplished collectively. I love you guys so much. Gabe and Hannah, Michael and're the best.

Love you dad

Monday, June 15, 2009

Words Without Deeds: The Vice of MARRIAGE

On my Bible Study Blog today I wrote about Words Without Deeds: The Vice of RELIGION. But even as I wrote it I was thinking of how much a vice words without deeds is to our marriages.

Over years of marriage counseling, I hear "my wife doesn't respect me" from men. Over and over they tell how their wives subjugate their leadership, demean their authority, and speak to them disrespectfully. Upon closer examination though, the husband has done little to exemplify traits and characteristics of a leader. NOT that this reason is a LICENSE for wives to disrespect husbands in the roles (Sarah was blessed by God because she obeyed Abrahm even to the point of telling rulers that she was his sister!). However, I want to see men who RISE UP and lead:

1. Leaders don't just say whatever they feel like saying. Even as I am listening to my husband on a world-wide conference call, I can ASSURE you that he is not just blurting out whatever comes to his mind. There is certain information that he KNOWS and FEELS about some of his employees that he canNOT speak out. He is looking for the BEST performance of the team; and consequently, he has to keep his words in check. He has to THINK before he SPEAKS to be sure that once said, his words do not come back at him displaying how he undermined the work for the company good.

2. Leaders are EXAMPLES of spiritual strength and character. Men need to demonstrate to their wives, in DEEDS so when the words come forth they are backed up by deeds. Leaders should be able to say, "Look at how I act when I am PRESSED beyond measure..." "Look at how I don't give in to immaturity when the discussions get tough..."

3. Leaders aren't selfish... they are empowered and trusted to lead a TEAM... in the case of marriages, the marriage. Husbands as leaders are expected to handle each situation and consider the needs of their wives, even considering those needs before their own.

In the years of marriage counseling, I have also heard women complain that the husband doesn't cherish her or love her. In the same way, wives have a role in the marriage similar to the role of the CHURCH as Christ's BRIDE:

1. By the WAY SHE LIVES she should be able to "win over" her husband's heart. Her godly behavior should set the tone for the marriage, and should shine even brighter in tough times.

2. She should consider her husband's wishes and her life should show that she WANTS her husband to "look good" to others. The Proverbs 31 woman's husband "is known in the gates" -- probably by the wife's lifting him UP in front of others and building on the GOOD THINGS he is instead of breaking him apart and being the "foolish woman" that destroys her own marriage with her words and deeds. Many a foolish woman blurts out everything bad about her husband to her family and friends, and then wonders why her family and friends can't stand her husband and undermines the success of their marriage. A wise woman looks at what SHE can do to make the marriage better, and takes responsibility for being the heart of the home.

3. She should trust her husband as the leader of her home, and realize the Lord has specifically anointed him with insights on how to make their lives better.

Yup, words without deeds is the VICE of marriage AND religion. I am SO SICK of seeing SO MANY people carry the word "Christian" yet look very little like Christ. Time to SHOW FORTH what we believe by our ACTIONS.

Challenge: SHOW your spouse your commitment to them and to your marriage by how you ACT and TALK. LET only communication come from your mouth that will BUILD up and EDIFY each other and your relationship. Remember, our commitments will be tested in the fires... and THAT is where the dross needs to be removed so that the TRUE GOLD will shine forth as a witness FIRST to each other and THEN to the world that Christ is alive and well in our SUPERnatural marriages!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What have you LET him be to you?

I have always realized that the Lord never changes. Whether or not I ALLOW Him to be a part of my life or not, He remains the same. How foolish I would be if I didn't let Him into my life to "lead and guide me" into all truth, "perfect" what concerns me, be my "confidence," my "strong tower," and my "present help" in times of danger!

In raising my children, I have taught them the same thing about their relationships with each other. I have told them that they will have as good a relationship with each other as they ALLOW or LET happen. They can either have AMAZING relationships or not very good ones. The choice is theirs as to how close they can be with each other.

This is especially true in our marriages. Have you ALLOWED or LET your husband/wife into your world? Have you taken the time to explain things you're going through, and to find out what THEY are going through? Have you found out things that are special to him/her and brightened their days with special little surprises here and there? Have you LET or ALLOWED them to share a confidence of yours, to tell your concerns about your children with, to ask their opinion on something?

Make sure you take the time to be as close as you can be to each other. Stay focused on keeping the fun alive and your relationship as special as it can possibly be!

Challenge: LET your husband be everything to you. ALLOW him to be important to you! Let him into your world as much as possible! Make sure you appreciate all he is, and incorporate all he is into your home and life!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Too Many Words!

You can walk by a well kept garden, and tell EXACTLY which seeds were planted by what is blooming there. You can also tell the ugly weeds that just drifted in, which, if allowed to grow long enough, will choke out the beauty of the well-kept garden. Yes, words that we spoke yesterday make life what it is today!!! Mark 11.23 says “He shall have those things that he sayeth.” The things you say are words. In face you could paraphrase it that you will possess the things you speak.

Words, words, words. Researchers’ estimates of how many words we speak per day range from 50,000 to 2,500, with the average estimate being approximately 15,000 words per day. Just listening to the words that people are speaking this week is compelling me to write about it. People are DEFEATING their purposes, plans and pursuits by the WORDS they are speaking!

The Bible tells us that in Matthew 12.36-37 tells us that we will give account of every idle or useless word we speak, and that by our words we shall be justified (shown innocent), or by our words we shall be condemned (pronounced guilty).

Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose. (Proverbs 18.21 Message) Words can make or break us, heal us or make us sick. They can break others to pieces (Job 19.2). They have creative power (Romans 4.17 - Abraham was first named “father” and then became a father because he dared to trust God to do what only God could do: raise the dead to life, with a word make something out of nothing.)

Words make an atmosphere. They bless or heal, they empower, they cut down and curse. A soft word can turn away wrath, and grievous words can agitate anger (Proverbs 15.1).

Words can be wood to a fire or even a destroying fire (Proverbs 26.20, 16.27, James 3.5-6) or a fire extinguisher (Proverbs 15.1, Proverbs 26.20).

When there is strife between a husband and wife, the husband will often “clam up” but the wife will seek someone to “understand her” – whether a friend, her sisters, or her mom. In her efforts to “be understood,” she runs slipshod over the warnings in Scripture and shares her viewpoint of one transgression after another. In doing so, it makes the problem magnified, and covers up the answer to how to FIX the problem. Not only that, she poisons the reputation of her husband with the people she loves who, if THEY are not careful, take up her “side” – which in a marriage is dividing a house against a house (the two HAVE become ONE and can never exist independently of one another again).

In marriage counseling, I have not allowed couples to give me “blow by blow” details. It is not necessary to know exactly what was said and how it was said, because I realize that most often an action on the part of one person has caused a reaction from the other person.

A word of wisdom to husbands: My husband just told me YESTERDAY that he heard that the biggest problem in Christian marriages today is the lack of spiritual headship of the men. Step it up men! Be an example of Christ in your home!

A word of wisdom to wives: Don’t get caught up in the “blame game” or the “I need someone to understand me” game and keep heaping wood on a fire. Be VERY CAREFUL of who you share your troubles with – make sure they are committed to the success of your marriage and that they will seek to help you understand what YOU can do better to change things and not get caught up in the “blame game” WITH you! The ONLY reason you should be sharing information with ANY person should be to help you achieve the ONE-NESS in your marriage that God wants you to have – it should be a trusted counselor who can help you to understand how to e successful in marriage, which is a definite work of HEART!

A word of wisdom to who is involved in hearing marriage problems: Be sure you are committed to the success of the marriage. Be sure that you don’t “take sides,” and that you are an instrument of the Lord to help someone love God’s way. Be sure that you don’t allow self-righteousness or allow someone to share information you should NOT be hearing. Be sure YOU don’t contribute to the problems; but the ANSWER!

CHALLENGE: Look at the WORDS you are speaking today and be SURE you want to live in the HARVEST of those words in your future! Be wise and SOW SEEDS for a victorious marriage and life! Know that the Lord HAS given you the POWER – but YOU need to take it!


Proverbs 6:16-19 There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: 1.Haughty eyes, 2. a lying tongue, And 3. hands that shed innocent blood, 4. A heart that devises wicked plans, 5. Feet that run rapidly to evil, 6. A false witness who utters lies, And 7. one who spreads strife among brothers. (Notice that the one who spreads strife is different than a false witness who is a liar.The following verses will reveal how such things as GOSSIP and SLANDER "spread strife among brothers." )

Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.(Forgiven transgressions are to be covered.)

Proverbs 11:12-13 He who despises his neighbor lacks sense, But a man of understanding keeps silent. He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is trustworthy conceals a matter. (The talebearer reveals secrets, not lies; the trustworthy person conceals the matter.)

Proverbs 12:16, 23 A fool’s anger is known at once, But a prudent man conceals dishonor. A prudent man conceals knowledge, But the heart of fools proclaims folly. (A prudent man conceals dishonor and knowledge.)

Proverbs 13:3 The one who guards his mouth preserves his life; The one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.

Proverbs 16:27-28 A worthless man digs up evil, While his words are like scorching fire. A perverse man spreads strife, And a slanderer separates intimate friends. (A slanderer is worthless and perverse -- spreading strife.)

Proverbs 17:9 He who conceals a transgression seeks love, But he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends. (Seek love, not strife.)

Proverbs 19:11 A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, And it is his glory to overlook a transgression. (A man’s discretion is honored when he graciously overlooks a transgression.)

Proverbs 19:28 A rascally witness makes a mockery of justice, And the mouth of the wicked spreads iniquity. (The men who charged the woman “caught” in adultery, John 8:1-11.)

Proverbs 20:19 He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, Therefore do not associate with a gossip. (A slanderer is a gossip, not a liar; he wrongfully exposes hidden truth.)

Proverbs 21:23 He who guards his mouth and his tongue, Guards his soul from troubles. (Here, and at the Judgment Seat.)

Proverbs 25:9-10, 23 Argue your case with your neighbor, And do not reveal the secret of another,Or he who hears it will reproach you, And the evil report about you will not pass away. The north wind brings forth rain, And a backbiting tongue, an angry countenance. (Backbiting is revealing the secrets of another, causing strife.)

Proverbs 26:20-28 For lack of wood the fire goes out, And where there is no whisperer, contention quiets down.
21 Like charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, So is a contentious man to kindle strife.
22 The words of a whisperer are like dainty morsels, And they go down into the innermost parts of the body.
23 Like an earthen vessel overlaid with silver dross Are burning lips and a wicked heart.
24 He who hates disguises it with his lips, But he lays up deceit in his heart.
25 When he speaks graciously, do not believe him, For there are seven abominations in his heart.
26 Though his hatred covers itself with guile, His wickedness will be revealed before the assembly. (The whisperer is not necessarily a liar, except about himself, vs. 24-26.)


Matthew 15:19 “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. (Here Jesus shows, as in the Old Testament, that slander is different than lying.)

Romans 1:29-30 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips[whisperers], slanderers[speaks against], haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, (Again, the Holy Spirit , through the apostle Paul, shows that deceit differs from gossip or slander.)

2 Corinthians 12:20 For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish; that perhaps there will be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders [speak against], gossip [whisperer], arrogance, disturbances; (Paul was concerned that the saints were involved in these sins.)

1 Timothy 5:13 At the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips [whisperers] and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention. (The gossips were not lying, but talking about things that were not proper to even mention.)


The above verses teach that GOSSIPS, SLANDERERS,WHISPERERS, etc., are words used to describe those who spread true information about a person, but the information concerns "things not proper to mention." We saw that these "things" could include "a transgression," "evil," "dishonor," "a matter," the "secrets of another," or "knowledge," and generally focus in on the past sins, mistakes, and failures of that person.


The arrogant and unforgiving attitude of our sin nature makes us ALL susceptible to getting involved in this abominable sin of gossip. In our selfishness, we feel better about ourselves when we can point to another person's failures.We saw that those that practice the sin of gossip are referred to as "worthless, perverse, wicked, hateful, fools."


The Bible makes it very clear that just because we may have some true information, we do not have the right to share that information, especially when that information is damaging to an individual. Even when a Christian is in sin, it is to be kept quiet, private, and should be dealt with on a person-to-person basis, as follows::

Matthew 18:15 “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to
you, you have won your brother.

You go to your brother "in private." If "you have won your brother," the story stops there! If he continues in sin, then you go back with no more than two brothers, as follows:

Matthew 18:16 “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that
by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed.

If you win your brother with two more witnesses, the story stops there. If he won't listen, proceed as follows::

Matthew 18:17 “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to
listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

If your brother is won by the church, THE STORY STOPS THERE! If he continues in sin, he is to be put out of the church, and yes, you can tell others to perhaps warn them. But telling everyone about a sinning brother could be very damaging to the cause of Christ and the gospel. Does it really do any good to spread other people's failures when we all fail the Lord so many times? Remember, GOSSIP sows strife among the brothers, it's an ABOMINATION!

If someone comes to you and seems to be "GOSSIPING," (slandering another person), stop them immediately! Ask them if they have talked to the person that they seem to be gossiping about. Have they confronted this person about their sin? Has this person gone through church discipline? Is the person still practicing the sin? If the sin or problem has been dealt with, then the person "gossiping" should be confronted for sinning against you and against the person they are talking about. They need to apologize to you and the person they have slandered. You might even say to this person, "Why not tell me about some of your own failures instead of another person's failures. Will my knowing about another person's failures make my Christian walk any better?" "Will this information edify me?" Meditate on the following verses:

Ephesians 4:29-32 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Live it Up!

My Mom always taught me that there are way too many people who are in the "time of their lives" who are letting the moments slip by unappreciated.

I have noticed the dangers of "waiting to live" in many people. They are waiting for some event before they can really appreciate their lives. For example, "when I graduate,..." "when I start my new job,..." "when I start making money,..." "after I have the baby,..." "when I get a house,..." etc.

"Enjoy life. This is not a dress rehearsal." --

Look for the reason that THIS DAY is the "time of your life."

There are several "ROBBERS" of this mentality:

1. Ungratefulness. If you are not grateful for what you HAVE, you will always be concentrating on what you DON'T have. If you are grateful for what you have, it will be enough. You will be able to rejoice with others even when they have more or "better" than you, because you are so grateful for what has been given to you.

Look at your spouse and find reasons to appreciate them. It never fails to amaze me that I have been blessed with a person who committed to walk through life with me: all the ups, downs and in-betweens. Someone who has known me from "way back when" -- who knows the reason behind my joys and tears and looks deeply enough to see my heart. This has come from seeing the best in HIM over the years too, and not expecting perfection from him. It has come from investing into our relationship by constant efforts. It has come by living the Word of God -- having a soft answer, loving him for who he is without trying to change him, allowing him space to grow as a person, and not leaning on him for my sole source of joy.

Look at yourself and find reasons to appreciate who you are. Do yourself a favor and give up perfection. Instead, simply strive for excellence. Don't be so hard on yourself! Appreciate who you are, and focus on your strong points. Don't get hung up on little imperfections so that you can't enjoy who you are and live out 100% the life God created you to live. "May you live all the moments of your life!" -- "Fully present, fully alive!" Give yourself some room!

2. Another huge "robber" that insidiously robs us of our ability to live victoriously is unforgiveness. Unforgiveness will SAP your life of its joy. LET GO, give it up, lay it down, forget about it. Set people FREE. The ministry of reconciliation has been committed to each one of us. I am convinced that if anyone harbors unforgiveness towards ANY ONE in ANY WAY, there is no way you can be fit for the kingdom of heaven. Jesus had a lot to say about unforgiveness. He said what you do to the LEAST of people is what you do to HIM. He said if you can't love MAN than you can't love HIM. He said to forgive 70 x 7! Why? Not just because the person seeking (or NOT seeking) your forgiveness needs it -- because YOU need it. YOU need it to even be forgiven by the Lord for any sin YOU have committed (the same way you forgive others is the way YOU will be forgiven!). Forgiving others for things they've done to you says that you do not hold them responsible for your life, but you hold the LORD responsible. Forgiving others opens your life to walk in 100% forgiveness from the Lord for YOUR transgressions. Forgiveness shows the Lord that you KNOW that HE is in control and disallows any person to negatively impact your physical, emotional, spiritual or mental soundness. Forgiveness is the anecdote for bitterness. Bitterness can never raise its ugly head when forgiveness is present!

“One day at a time--this is enough. Do not look back and grieve over the past for it is gone; and do not be troubled about the future, for it has not yet come. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful it will be worth remembering.”

A LOT starts with NOT being THANKFUL:

Romans 1.21-26: Because when they knew and recognized Him as God, they did not honor and glorify Him as God or give Him thanks. But instead they became futile and agodless in their thinking [with vain imaginings, foolish reasoning, and stupid speculations] and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools [professing to be smart, they made simpletons of themselves]. And by them the glory and majesty and excellence of the immortal God were exchanged for and represented by images, resembling mortal man and birds and beasts and reptiles. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their [own] hearts to sexual impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves [abandoning them to the degrading power of sin], Because they exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, Who is blessed forever! Amen (so be it). For this reason God gave them over and abandoned them to vile affections and degrading passions.

CHALLENGE: Be GRATEFUL today for ALL you have. Don't allow ANYTHING to rob you of the JOY of this day! Tell your spouse how much you appreciate them -- SOAK up your moments! And "Live life so completely that when death comes to you like a thief in the night, there will be nothing left for him to steal."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Dealing with Family Problems (we all have them!)

James 3:18 And the harvest of righteousness (of conformity to God’s will in thought and deed) is [the fruit of the seed] sown in peace by those who work for and make peace [in themselves and in others, that peace which means concord, agreement, and harmony between individuals, with undisturbedness, in a peaceful mind free from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts].

I have a family heritage that is quite unusual: we all LOVE being around each other. My sister Diane put it well:

speaking of family...i seriously have the most amazing-est family on earth. we total 44 in immediate fam (almost 45 on 2/19)...when we are together there is no place i'd rather b. a true family where we may not all agree on things but each of us KNOW the other has our back. it's ALWAYS a trip to b together, and my rides home from a fam gathering often include my cheeks hurting from laughing and tears of gratefulness. (WHAT A CRYBABY)

Yes, it would be almost virtually impossible to know what it is like being in our family.  We always said we don't have ONE mother and ONE father but if you do something below our family values, BELIEVE ME you will have your phone ringing and EVERY SINGLE BROTHER AND SISTER will be challenging you on it!  We love to be together -- we are loud, we are involved intrinsically and sometimes overwhelmingly, we feel each others' pains, and rejoice with each others' joys.  We fight over holding babies, and have passionate arguments over who will be in the Christmas draw and how old people should be to get in on the Easter egg hunt.  

We don't always agree on things.  Some of us live different lifestyles than others.  But like a good puzzle, where the parts that stick out fit neatly into the pieces where that part is lacking, together we make an amazing incredible picture of love.  At times when my husband could have doubled or tripled his salary with a move, it wasn't even considered.  Many times when we have asked ourselves, "WHY do we live in Michigan???!!!"  at the next family gathering, the answer shouts loudly "FOR THIS!!!"  

THIS FAMILY is woven into each fiber of our beings.  It is part of who we are.  "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" doesn't even compare!!!  Our family is WHO WE ARE.  You simply just cannot be happy if someone has something lingering against you.  You simply just cannot be happy if you have something lingering against someone.  You just HAVE to deal with it and move on!

Which leads me to the "marriage vitamins" part of this beautiful memoir...

When Amber came into our family, I knew my heart was instantly sealed to hers when Jesse was having an issue with someone in our family, and there seemed to be enough justification to fracture the relationship.  But remember, fractured relationships cannot exist in our family!  And even though Amber is an only child, with the wisdom she is consistently exhibiting, she told Jesse to hang on, forgive, and remember that the person would always be his family, would probably pull out of it, and to be careful not to ruin this long-standing relationship.

A WISE spouse will ALWAYS BUILD FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS.  Never try to undermine your spouse's relationships with their family!  Don't just "agree" when there are misunderstandings (as there ALWAYS WILL BE). 

A wise friend/counselor/husband/wife will ALWAYS seek relationship reconciliation (after all, YOU are also in a close relationship with someone - why would you counsel FRACTURED relationships when that counsel could virtually be applied to YOU if it were to be "practiced" on a much longer-standing relationship?!)

At one point in our marriage, because of some severe misunderstandings with my husband's family, they had some huge problems with us.    It would have been easy to "feed" division -- my husband could have been influenced by me to turn his back on his family.  Instead I loved them, truly loved them with God's love, regardless of how I was treated, and now they are serving God and we are closer than ever to them!  How foolish I would have been to try to separate my husband's heart from his family!

How foolish to actually try to take my husband away from part of WHO he is:  his family.  How foolish to think I could have still had the same person for my husband if I had contributed to trying to separate him from his family's heartbeat!  Not only does this go with PARENTS, BUT with siblings as well!  I have always taught my kids that your siblings are there when you are born and there when you die and everything in between -- they're usually the only ones around for your entire life!  With that kind of long-standing, it is wise for spouses to encourage peacemaking within families:  Matthew 5:9 Blessed (enjoying enviable happiness, spiritually prosperous— with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the makers and maintainers of peace, for they shall be called the sons of God!

1 Peter 3.11 tells us if we want to ENJOY LIFE and have GOOD days, we need to for peace (harmony; undisturbedness from fears, agitating passions, and moral conflicts) and seek it eagerly. [Do not merely desire peaceful relations with God, with your fellowmen, and with yourself, but pursue, go after them!]

No WONDER that one of the six things that the Lord hates, that are an abomination to Him, is "he that sows discord among brethren" (Proverbs 6.19).  The Message puts it "a troublemaker in the family," and God's Word says, "a person who spreads conflict among relatives."  Not only does it not work for US, but God HATES IT too!

Challenge:   Sow peace and harmony with your spouse and his/her relatives!  Look for ways to make familial relationships better.  Be an advocate and mediator when your spouse runs into bumpy times with his/her siblings or family.  And then ENJOY the FRUIT of your labors when you partake in the blessings of keeping a close-knit family in spite of not being perfect!  (Psalm 133.1; Psalm 68.6; John 17.22)(see also this blogspot on peacemaking in the family!)