The Recipe for a Happy Marriage

Marriage, though not easy, is meant to bring joy and fulfillment. I’ve been married for 26 years. Here is the recipe for a happy marriage.

1. Forgive

Neither one of you are perfect. There is no perfect marriage or family, either. You will both make mistakes and disappoint. You can choose: Forgiveness or Bitterness.

2. Fun

Go on a date night. Laugh together. Spend time away from the kids, when possible.

3. Fight

It’s good to fight sometimes. I don’t mean anything physical of course. But, there comes a time when you both need to share your heart. It can get heated at times. After let it all out, it’s a great time kiss and make up! The other option, a poor one, is to hold it all in and stay mad.

4. Forget

Forget about trying to change your spouse. It’s not going to happen. I’ve been trying for 26 years to make my wife organized. It’s not who she is. I have to learn to accept her as she is, flaws and all. She has to accept my flaws, too. You can make your spouse a better person, but that’s different than changing the person completely.

5. Faith

For me, this is the foundation of a sold marriage. God is the creator of marriage. He is the glue that sticks you together. He is the one who empowers you to forgive. God is the one who can change your spouse. The closer you are to God, the better a spouse you are.

Marriage is like aged cheese. The longer you’re together, the tastier it gets. For a successful marriage, mix all 5 and enjoy:

  • Forgive
  • Fun
  • Fight
  • Forget
  • Faith

Which one is the strongest in your marriage? Which one do you struggle with?

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!

7 Tips to better Public Speaking

I’ve spoken publicly for 20+ years. Here are 7 lessons I’ve learned over the years.

1. Be Yourself

There is only one of you in the world. You be you.

Don’t try to be someone else. When I started speaking I tried to mimic a person I admired. It didn’t last long. I had to be me.

Be yourself. It takes far less energy than trying to be someone else.

2. Be Vulnerable

Let your guard down. People know when you are being real with them or not.

The more vulnerable you are, the easier people can connect with you. Share a personal story about yourself, even if it might expose one of your weaknesses/struggles.

People identify with honesty and transparency.

3. Humor is important

Ok, if you’re not funny at all, skip this. Remember, be yourself.

But, if you even have the slightest sense of humor, use it. Humor is a great way to cut through the tension of a room. Humor is a great way to keep people relaxed and interested. Humor also can be used to illustrate certain truths.

Don’t try to be a stand up comedian, and don’t let the humor distract from the message. But, use it.

4. Be Prepared

Don’t just wing it. Spend time preparing.

Do your research. Write notes. Study what others have done with a similar topic. Giving a 30 minutes presentation? It might take you 30 hours to prepare. It might take you 15 hours. It really depends on your experience and the topic at hand.

However long it takes, don’t wait till the last minute.

5. Mark up your notes

Use pens and highlighters to emphasize certain points.

I underline key truths with a blue pen. I highlight references I want to give in yellow. I write “ILL” down my page to denote an illustration I will use. I highlight, in pink or orange, sections in my notes that correspond to a slide I’m presenting.

Use your own system to mark your notes.

6. Number your notes

If you use notes, as I do, number the pages.

It’s easy to lose your place, or drop a note on the floor; which can derail the entire presentation. If you number each page, it helps you get back to where you need to be.

Numbering also helps you know the pace of your presentation. If you’re through page 4 of 8, then you know you’re about 1/2 done.

7. Relax and enjoy it

It is a great blessing to share your thoughts/ideas to others.

You’ve prepared for this. Don’t be gripped with fear or anxiety. Relax. Breathe. Smile. Your moment on stage, whether it’s 5 minutes or 35 minutes, will be over in a blink of an eye.

Make the most of it.

Exodus 4:11-12, “Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”

Want an Easy life? Do what’s hard!

We don’t like the hard things in life. The easy path is the most desired. But, it is the hard path that actually makes like better.

Easy Choices lead to a harder life

  • Exercise: The easy choice is to not do it, but stay on the couch instead. Not exercising leads to an unhealthy life.
  • Food: The easy choice is to eat junk food, not clean food. Junk food makes life more miserable.
  • School: The easy choice is to not finish, or to take the bare minimal. In general, the less education you have, the less opportunities you have.
  • Job: The easy choice is to do the bare minimum. The bare minimum gets you nowhere in life.

Hard choices lead to an easier life

  • Relationships: The hard choice is to stick with your spouse, even when he or she disappoints you. Yet, there is nothing as fulfilling as a healthy marriage.
  • Parenting: The hard choice is to discipline your child and tell him no. Yet, this makes it even easier to parent.
  • Money: The hard choice is to not buy that item you really want. Yet, the less you spend, the more you have.
  • Knowledge: The hard choice is to actual study something yourself, rather than listen to the “experts” on television. Knowledge is power.

All the blessings I have in my life have come from making the harder choice. Want an easy life? Do what’s hard.

“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” Jeff Bezos

How has doing the hard things made your life easier?

1 Corinthians 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Is your adult “you” like your “child” you? Which “Animal” are you?

I feel like a completely different person than who I was as a child. Some things are the same, but I’ve changed.

  • I hated public speaking, I love it now
  • I wasn’t that athletic, now I am
  • I lacked confidence, now I have it
  • I didn’t apply myself academically, I do now
  • I was clueless with fixing things, now I can

Are you more or less like who you were as a child? Here is a fun and quirky way to look at it: Animals. Which one can you identify with?

1. A turtle – you are about the same as you were as a child, but a little out of your shell and comfort zone

2. A snake – you have shed your old skin and slither in newness

3. A fish – you left the aquarium for deeper waters

4. A butterfly – you have completely transformed from a caterpillar, spreading your wings to fly

I see myself as more of a butterfly. I have grown up, developed, and matured into something more.

Is there a different animal to describe your transformation? Let me know. Have fun with it!

1 Corinthians 13:11, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

Need to, but don’t want to? How to shift your mindset to get it done.

We need to go to work, exercise, take care of our family.

Life is about responsibilities. We must take care of ourselves and others. It isn’t always easy.

What if we don’t feel like it today?

We don’t feel like lifting weights. We don’t feel like taking our dog for our walk or cooking supper. But, we need to.

How do we get ourselves to do it? Some not-ideal options:

  • Don’t do it at all, it just creates more problems and work for the next day
  • Guilt ourselves into doing it, this just brings more misery
  • Wait till the last minute, this only makes it harder to complete

This is the best thing to do:

  • Remember why it’s important – it’s important for me to exercise today because…
  • See the benefits of the activity – I don’t feel like it, but I when I do it, this positive result will occur…
  • Commit to just a few minutes of the activity – if it’s exercise instead of saying, “I must run for 30 minutes today,” say instead, “I will run for 10 minutes today.” The commitment is less intimidating. Chances are, you will wind up running the 30 minutes anyway. It’s all about taking the first step.

What do you have to do today?

1. Remember why you need to do this

2. See how it adds to benefit to your life

3. Take the first step and go from there

Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”

Don’t Feel like it? Do it anyway!

I didn’t feel like it today.

I recently had a rough weekend. Not only that, I barely slept a wink one night. All I wanted to do today was get home from work and do nothing.

  • I didn’t feel like running
  • I didn’t feel like writing this essay
  • I didn’t feel like eating with my family

So, guess what I did?

  • I went running
  • I wrote this essay
  • I ate with my family

Why did I do these things, even though I didn’t feel like it?

  • My family, exercise, and writing are priorities of my life
  • Success is often just showing up, even when it’s not easy
  • I knew I would feel worse for not doing these things
  • Good habits lead to good habits
  • I knew once I started exercising, writing, etc., I would “feel” like it

What do you need to do today, even if you don’t feel like it? Do it anyway. You won’t regret it!

Galatians 6:9, “ And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

I love to work, but struggle with resting.

I know how to work

I have been working most of my life. When I do work, I give it my all. What I struggle with is not working.

It’s easier for me to work than rest

After work, I go home and work on the house. On a day off, after resting for an hour or two, I need something to do. While on vacation it takes several days just to unwind. Is it just me, or are you like this, too?

8 Reasons we don’t Rest

  • Something always needs to be done
  • We feel useless or guilty when we aren’t productive
  • Our identity/sense of self-worth is wrongly connected to productivity
  • Our minds are never silent or still
  • The adrenaline factory is running 24/7
  • Busyness distracts from the problems of life, so rest intimidates us
  • Maybe we don’t realize the importance of rest
  • Maybe we don’t know how to rest

So, how do we rest?

I am still learning how to rest, but this is what I have observed:

  • If your job drains you physically, rest by doing something mental.
  • If your job drains you mentally, rest by doing something physical.

I find rest in exercise, writing, music, and being with my family. Whatever gives you rest, don’t feel guilty.

We need to rest. We aren’t robots!

Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

What does the Bible say about Halloween?

People love Halloween, but what does the Bible say about it?

My neighborhood is littered with ghosts, goblins, and ghouls. People love this holiday. Who doesn’t like a bucket of Tootsie Rolls!

Does the Bible talk about Halloween?

Not directly. The Bible was written long before the phrase, “Trick or Treat.” People celebrate Halloween, to some degree, because they’re fascinated with good vs. evil, death, and the afterlife.

The Bible does talks about a spirit realm

  • Not ghosts, goblins, or haunted houses, but rather a spirit world with Satan and his demons, battling against God.
  • Good battling against evil.
  • The flesh battling against the spirit.
  • Death itself is not the end, but the beginning of something eternal.

Halloween is more than costumes and candy

  • It’s a reminder there’s more to life than what we see.
  • It’s a reminder that death is real.
  • It’s a reminder that good and evil exists.
  • It’s a reminder that we’re more than flesh and bones, we’re spiritual.

The Bible teaches victory in the end

  • Good wins over evil
  • Life conquers death
  • God defeats Satan and his demons
  • In Jesus Christ, we are more than conquerors
  • We’re to fear no evil, for His rod and staff comfort us, Psalm 23

As you “Trick or Treat” and eat all those skittles, think about the deeper elements that lie within.

Romans 8:37, “in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

I Still Date my Wife

My wife and I have been married 26 years, but I still date her.

That sounds super weird! Actually, we went on a date just last night. It was to a simple pizza place, but we had a wonderful time together. Dating my wife doesn’t mean:

  • We’re deciding if we’re right for one another
  • We’re playing the field and seeing other people

What does it mean?

It means we’re intentional about spending quality time together. We try to go on a date once a week, if possible.

  • Sometimes we go see a movie
  • Sometimes we just go for a scenic drive
  • Usually, we go out to eat

We need this because:

  • Life is super hectic
  • We have three children living at home
  • Both our jobs are stressful and demanding
  • There are days we barely see one another

Going on these “dates”

  • Helps us get away from the chaos for a moment
  • Gives us time to talk about life
  • Teaches our children what a healthy marriage looks like
  • Allows my wife and I to still have fun together
  • Keeps our marriage strong and vibrant, even after 26 years

Are you Married? Take your spouse out on a date. Make is a regular practice!

Proverbs 18:22, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.”

Want to improve your life? Smile more.

Smiling is the one of the easiest ways to drastically improve your life.

I learned this lesson from my dad. On his business card it read, “Smile, you’ll feel good.” To be honest, I don’t always smile. When I don’t smile:

  • People can get the wrong impression of me
  • I can look mad, even when I’m not
  • I can come across as cold and distant, not warm and friendly

When I do smile, it changes everything. How?

  • It makes me feel better
  • It changes my attitude
  • It helps me connect more with others
  • I often get a smile in return, which helps the other person feel better
  • It just makes the world a better place

We all know this, but if you’re like me, you don’t smile enough. Why?

  • We don’t think about it
  • We think we’re smiling, but we really aren’t, (think half-smile)
  • We’re not intentional about it
  • We’re too focused on ourselves, our phones, etc.
  • We feel vulnerable when we take our guard down

Let’s make it a practice to smile more!

  • Look in the mirror and see/feel what a true smile is
  • Practice smiling
  • Make it a goal to smile to 5 people today

It can change your day, attitude, relationships, etc.

“A smile is happiness you’ll find right under your nose.” Tom Wilson

Proverbs 15:13, “A happy heart makes the face cheerful.”