I love Biblical stories and the book of Esther never disappoints. Looking for some practical insights in how ministry or leadership couples can work together to have a strong and powerful marriage? Look no further than the book of Esther. The story begins with King Xerxes and Queen Vashti who reigned over 127 provinces stretching from India to Ethiopia. Obviously they were very wealthy and while staying at their vacation home in Susa the King threw a huge banquet inviting very important people such as princes, military officers and government officials.
He spared no expense and for a full 180 days (6 months) he entertained the guests. The decorations are described as exquisite and there was plenty to eat and the bar never closed. Entertaining was part of his job as King, but did it have to go on for 6 months? Can you imagine having a six month celebration?
If that wasn’t enough after the 6 month banquet he had another banquet and invited anyone and everyone. This time the festivities lasted seven days. Once again he spared no expense in the way of food and drink. King Xerxes entertained the men in the courtyard while the queen accommodated the women inside the royal palace.
Sometimes when my husband and I entertain the men will gather in one dining room while the women gather closer to the kitchen areas. When we entertain, I may breeze through the area to check on the men and usually they are talking about sports or politics.
Who knows what the King and the fellas were talking about when the King decides he wants to show off his beautiful wife wearing her royal crown. Rather than stepping away from the boys to go and get her himself, he sent seven servants to tell his wife to come. Why didn’t he go and seek her out himself? After all they had been apart for seven days. Where is the love?
We know the story, Queen Vashti sent the servants back to tell him she wasn’t coming. Who knows why she didn’t want to go, but if I were in her shoes I would not want to go in a room full of men who had been drinking for seven days. Besides I would have been tired from entertaining and would have wanted some time with my husband alone. When my husband and I entertain, we at least meet up at the kitchen sink to discuss how things are going or to discuss the schedule including what time the guests are going to leave.
Yes, Queen Vashti probably knew entertaining and being obedient came with the territory, but she decided to take a stand which made the King furious. I think he was more embarrassed than angry and since the servants informed him of her disobedience publicly, he had to redeem himself. He asked his legal consultants what he should do about it. He should have sensed that something was going on with his wife and went to check on her. Where is the love?
His legal consultants were fearful of the rest of the women following suit so they recommended that the King do something about his independent rebellious wife. They convinced him that if he didn’t put her in her place all the other wives in the kingdom would start acting just like her. The men didn’t want their wives to have a voice. Where is the love?
Vashti’s punishment for being disobedient to her husband was severe. The men recommended that she be kicked out of the castle with an immediate divorce and never be allowed to see him again. Seeing her again and speaking with her may have softened him so they made it a law that she could never see him again. How did he let his advisers decide he would never again speak to the woman who was so beautiful a few minutes ago? Where is the love?
Even though we know all of this happened so that Esther would eventually become Queen, there are several lessons to be learned from this story.
1. Don’t become so busy as a leadership couple trying to please everyone that you neglect one another. When duty calls for extended time period, take a moment to check in with one another for mutual support.
2. Don’t send someone else to communicate for you. It is not the job of your assistant or employee to communicate with your spouse on your behalf. Take the time to talk with one another and let the other know what your needs are.
3. Don’t let others decide the fate of your marriage. Talk to one another rather than complaining to someone else. Someone else’s advice may not be the best for your marriage. Talk to your spouse and work it out.
4. Lastly as leaders we should be setting the example, but use your marriage to set the positive example. The bible says in Ephesians 5 that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and that wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
If we simply follow these suggestions we won’t have to ask the question… Where is the love?
I have been spending a lot of time in the Bible studying the book of Esther because there are so many lessons that can be learned about being married to a man that has a lot of responsibilities. What fascinates me most is that when Queen Esther wants to spend time with her husband, she has to go through special procedures just to speak with him.
According to the story, King Xerxes loved Esther and chose her to become Queen and gave a banquet in her honor after they married. However even though she had favor with him she still could not just go in and talk with him or spend time with him unless she was summoned by him. There was no special concession for her as a wife as she was put in the same category as every other man and woman in the kingdom. To make matters even more challenging, asking to speak to her husband actually put her life at risk. If the king did not want to be bothered and did not extend his gold scepter to her, she could be put to death.
As the story unfolds, Esther had a major emergency and it was important that she speak with her husband. She was so concerned about requesting to speak with him that she asked her relatives, her townsfolk and her servants to declare a fast for three days along with her. On the third day, she was ready to do what she needed to do to save the lives of not only herself but also her people. We know the rest of the story, the king allowed her to approach on more than one occasion and the story has a wonderful ending.
Can you imagine having to go through special procedures to speak with or spend time with your husband? If I was Esther I would have felt alone, unworthy and maybe even unloved if I had to go through all those hoops to speak with the man I was to spend the rest of my life with. The riches and the extra perks wouldn’t have meant very much if I had to ask permission to see him or wait until he had the time to spend with me.
I’m sure the king had a busy schedule fulfilling his responsibilities as king, and Esther probably understood that better than anyone. But knowing he was responsible for so many others probably didn’t make it any easier on her when she found herself feeling like he was married to the kingdom instead of her.
The life of a king reminds me of the life of a pastor. My husband who has been pastoring for 28 years keeps a very demanding schedule serving our church and our community. He is on call 24/7 and there is always someone in the hospital, people die, families have issues, individuals get into legal trouble, people need prayer and then there are plenty of church activities going on several days a week. Add in his community activities and there is always a meeting to go to.
The busy lives of pastor’s make can make it extremely difficult for the pastor and his wife to spend some quality time together. Add my husband’s schedule to mine and it’s a miracle that we even see each other. It was supposed to be easier on our schedules when we became empty nesters, but our schedules are just as hectic.
In order for us to make our marriage a priority despite all of the responsibilities we have, we decided to come up with a plan. In addition to our regular prayer time together before leaving for work, we made Friday’s our date night and scheduled a walk around the lake on Sunday evenings, weather permitting. Now that are children are grown we actually get up in the morning and go to the gym together before I go to work, eat dinner together and try to go to bed at the same time.
Even with our scheduled time together I sometimes don’t feel like it is enough. In those situations, I came up with a solution to ask my husband, “Can I have an appointment?” What I am really saying is, “Husband I am feeling neglected, can we spend some time together? However asking for an appointment sounds so much better than demanding time, whining or saying the dreaded statement, “We need to talk.”
As I write this blog, we have had an incredibly busy week. During this month my husband is celebrating 28 years of pastoring and our church has an exciting day planned for us. I am excited because we have an opportunity to sit together while we enjoy the worship service. However, as soon as we leave the church after all of the festivities, I think I’m going to ask for an appointment!
Clergy Appreciation Day is celebrated the second Sunday in October which is October 8th. Don’t forget to celebrate those who serve in the ministry as well as their families. Pastors are vital to our families, churches and our communities and should be celebrated for all they do. Scriptures supports honoring clergy “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching (1 Timothy 5:17 ESV).
Churches celebrate their pastor’s and clergy in various ways. Some churches go all out and have a special event for their spiritual leader while others celebrate during the pastor’s work anniversary month. Regardless of what your church does, you can celebrate clergy in your life by showing your appreciation in various ways. Showing up for church and really hearing the sermon he/she has toiled over is a start.
In some cases the day is celebrated by honoring not only the pastor but also his/her family, particularly the spouse. They are the ones who help the pastor to manage a demanding schedule including being on call 24/7. Spouses and children have had to take a back seat when the church needs the pastor. I know firsthand being the wife of a senior pastor.
Our church celebrates my husband’s work anniversary every year and it just so happens to fall in the month of October. This year he is celebrating 28 years as the senior pastor of the Second Baptist Church of Olathe. Each year, speakers are selected to say kind words about he and I and we are blessed with wonderful gifts. We are busy getting ready for the festivities.
I think what I enjoy most about the festivities is the opportunity to sit with my husband. Sitting together is a rare event since he is always in the pulpit. What I also appreciate is that I have a moment at the end of the program where I get to thank my husband for being a wonderful pastor and husband. He also makes sure to acknowledge my contribution to his ministry and publicly shows appreciation to me. I am thankful I have a grateful, caring husband who speaks loving words about me and to me all the time both at home and at church.
In a article by author Thom Rainer, pastor’s wives have complained that their husband does not give them priority. Wives have murmured that their husband’s energy is focused so much on the church that they feel like a mistress to their husband. When I read those words my heart was saddened because pastor’s wives deserve so much more including a fulfilling marriage.
I recently ran across an article about Lionel Richie and why he wrote the top selling hit “Three Times a Lady”. According to the article, the idea came from his father. One day as his family was eating a meal together, his father gave a toast to their mother and it wasn’t even her birthday or Mother’s Day. In his toast he saluted her for being a great lady, a great mother and a great friend. The kids thought he was nuts, but I’m sure Mrs. Richie cherished that moment and the song forever.
As a pastor if you have been guilty of not giving your wife priority, why not take advantage of clergy appreciation day to show your wife some love? Take the time to tell her she is important to you and you appreciate all that she does. Don’t stop there, make sure she knows how much you love her and need her. To all pastors and wives, Happy Clergy Appreciation Day and here’s to the First Lady!
Anger is one of the top three emotions individuals experience before, during and after a break up or divorce. In fact anger is perfectly normal during this difficult time in your life. It’s highly possible that anger may have been what led you to separate in the first place. During the divorce, your ex may say or do something that will leave you fuming. After the divorce is said and done, you may still find yourself angry with your ex-spouse for months or even years. Is there a time limit on how long you can be angry with your ex? How natural is it to still be angry with your ex-spouse ten years after your divorce?
Anger can be expressed in many ways. I used to think that others couldn’t tell when I was mad, but my husband and my children have it figured out. They say I hold my mouth a certain way. When I am really upset, my shoulders tighten and my temperature seems to go up because I feel like I am having a hot flash. It takes a lot for me to get angry, but when I do, I am really mad.
When it comes to divorce, you may be angry for a while, but consider the fact that there are long term effects of anger on our bodies. Anger can actually increase our risk for chronic diseases like coronary artery disease and heart attacks, even breast cancer. In fact, long time anger can be just as dangerous as obesity and smoking is on our health. I have seen this phenomena occur where individuals harbor anger and unforgiveness and as a result the anger eventually manifested itself in the form of a deadly illness.
Just about everybody in the family will become angry sometime during the divorce process. You will be angry at your spouse and he or she will most likely be angry at you. Your children will probably be angry at one or both parents for ruining their lives. Everyone may blame the other for the demise of the family.
I have met individuals who indicate that they have been divorced for more than ten or twelve years and are still angry at their ex. That’s a long time to harbor resentment against another person. Some of my clients indicate that they are no longer angry, but their behavior says otherwise. How can you tell if you are still angry at your ex? Here are 4 ways you can tell:
1. If your buttons can still be pushed. Your ex knows how to upset you and may do or say things that manage to get you every time. Don’t let your ex have the upper hand. Know what your buttons are and don’t let them push them, or simply show them they no longer have the same effect on you.
2. If you keep telling your story about how you were wronged. Sometimes we can sing the “somebody done somebody wrong song” so many times that we begin to feel justified in bringing up old hurts. Take one last look at your story and revise it so that you can talk about how far you have come rather than what was done wrong to you.
3. If you are still blaming your ex for your current situation. Maybe you don’t like your current living situation or you are struggling financially. Maybe you don’t like being single or having to admit that your relationship failed. It’s time to put your trust and faith in God who says in Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
. If you refuse to forgive. Perhaps he or she has never apologized to you for what they said or did to you. Always remember that forgiveness sets the forgiver free and we forgive others not for their sake but for our own sake. Unforgiveness can have long terms effects on our bodies just as anger and resentment. Decide to forgive and move one.
Finally, learn how to deal with your anger in a healthy way. God does not desire for us to walk around angry and frustrated when He can fill our lives with so much joy. If after reading this article, and find that you are still angry at your ex, it’s time to put an end to your anger and live a favored life. Remember… “My dear friends, you should be quick to listen and slow to speak or to get angry. If you are angry, you cannot do any of the good things that God wants done. James 1:19-20 (CEV).
Are you still angry?
This week has been a tough one as we watched and read about the devastation of hurricane Harvey across Houston Texas and surrounding areas such as Port Arthur. As we watched we prayed for our family and friends and checked on them to make sure they were safe. Our eyes were glued to the television in fear of what Texans were experiencing. All we could do was pray.
Each time I watched the news I was filled with a variety of emotions. I experienced pride when I saw the spirit of love for other human beings and all the heroes that came forth to assist one another. I was filled with fear when I learned about the alligators and snakes in the water and the forecast for more rain. I felt joy to see the sun come out and residents of Houston filled with hope to rebuild their lives again. Watching those with financial resources step forward to give millions of dollars warmed my heart.
One morning while at the gym saw on the television monitor headlines of complaints against Joel Osteen for not immediately opening Lakewood Church as a shelter. Before long social media sites were buzzing and I observed all types of arguments and accusations against him and his church. In the midst of what was going on, I wondered why people were being so harsh. Why would individuals automatically look for the negative? By the time the week was over I was tired of hearing the arguments about what he should or should not have done.
We all have been guilty of judging and condemning others. Our judgement may be based on how a person looks, their decisions, how they spend their money or who they spend time with. Most often when we don’t understand other’s behavior we are quick to judge. Dietrich Bonhoeffer author of The Cost of Discipleship is quoted as saying: “By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.”
Look in the Bible and see how many times Jesus was judged. He was criticized for being from Nazareth, for hanging out with sinners, for healing on the Sabbath, for forgiving sins and for letting a woman cry and kiss on his feet. People simply judged him because they didn’t understand him.
What happens to us when we judge others? Does God get angry at us when we speak against his chosen people? My mind goes back to the story of Moses and his siblings Aaron and Miriam. In the 12th chapter of Numbers, Miriam and Aaron found themselves judging Moses for choosing to marry a woman from Ethiopia. Not sure if their issues were racial or if it was jealousy, but they complained and asked the question “who does he think he is?” In their complaint they challenged Moses’ right to speak for God or to lead the people.
What happens next may make you think twice about complaining about God’s chosen leaders. God heard their complaint and called a meeting of Moses, Aaron and Miriam at the entrance of the sacred tent. God speaks to them directly and sets the record straight that Moses was called as the leader and that they had no right to criticize him. God was so angry at Aaron and Miriam that he punished Miriam by striking her with leprosy. She not only became sick but was kicked out of the colony for seven days. Finally, it was Moses who prayed for her healing and restoration.
So what can we learn from this story? We might want to try not being judgmental to the point that we outright complain against others. It is one thing to negatively judge others and even worse to go on a social media rampage about something we know nothing about. Matthew 1:1-2 reminds us “Don’t condemn others, and God won’t condemn you. God will be as hard on you as you are on others. He will treat you exactly as you treat them.”
Billy Graham said “It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and my job to love. “ So enough already about Joel Osteen, let’s focus instead on helping and healing all those affected by hurricane Harvey. Make the decision to use your energy and influence to make a positive difference.
Our minds are extremely complex. We have the ability to reason, think, feel, perceive, and judge. A mind that is positive and healthy, allows us to live wonderful and fruitful lives. Having a sound mind helps us to be high functioning individuals capable of being healthy spiritually and physically. However, when our mind is not functioning property, our thoughts and beliefs can go astray and produce extreme fear and anxiety.
One such way our brains can go awry is when we develop phobias. A phobia is a form of fear, which storms your mind and shakes your confidence. A phobia can be a persistent fear of an object or situation in which the suffered commits to great lengths in avoiding, typically disproportional to the actual danger posed, often being recognized as irrational.
People are afraid of many people, places, situations and things. Did you know that now there are over 500 types of named phobias? Here’s my top ten of interesting ones:
Autophobia – fear of being alone or of oneself
Nomophobia – fear of being without a cell phone or not having the phone charged
Gamophobia – fear of marriage
Anuptaphobia – Fear of staying single
Ecclesiophobia – fear of church
Didaskaleinophobia - fear of going to school, commonly known as a “school phobia,”
Eisoptrophobia – fear of mirrors of seeing oneself
Philophobia – fear of falling in love or being in love
Zeusophobia – Fear of God
Novercaphobia – Fear of your stepmother
Having a phobia can cause you to do some strange things. In my 20’s and 30’s I had suriphobia or fear of mice. The phobia, didn’t just come out of nowhere, it was a process. When we were young children, my dad would scare my mom and us four girls whenever he caught a mouse. We screamed to the top of our lungs as we all jumped on our parent’s bed. When I went college and graduate school, a degree in biological psychology meant spending some working in the scientific rat lab. I lived in fear day and night thinking the white lab rats were going to bite or scratch me.
Here’s an interesting story of how my mind and phobia got out of control. I once owned a house that backed up to a large field. When winter came, my neighbor warned me the mice often came in the garage or in the house. When I spotted one in the garage, I was scared to death. I was working nights, so I set a trap and hoped the mouse would be caught by the time I left for work. I was thankful it was in the garage and not the house because I would have been ready to put the house up for sale. As I left for work no mouse was in the trap so didn’t worry about it.
Once I backed out of the garage, I felt better being in the car safe and sound. As I rounded the corner to get on the highway, I heard a noise in the back seat. Immediately, I thought, “Oh my God, the mouse somehow got in the car.” I was terrified, so I hit the gas. Don’t ask me why I hit the gas, I was just scared. Within about a mile of my speeding, I saw red lights in my rear view mirror.
I jumped out of the car (I wouldn’t try this now) and immediately asked the officer if he could help me. He was focused on telling me why I was pulled over and I needed to tell him about the possible mouse in my car. I tried to assure him that I was not crazy, but asked him if he would check my car to make sure a mouse was not in the back seat. He looked at me very strange as I attempted to tell him what I had just gone through. I told him he could write me a ticket, but he had to at least check my car before I got back in. The officer was amused as I carefully opened each door and jumped back and asked him to use his flashlight to check.
By now, all of you think I am nuts and yes I still got a speeding ticket. Once I arrived at work and told my coworkers about my experience, they laughed and convinced me just pay the fine. When I returned home in the morning, the mouse was in the trap. I won’t bother to tell you the story of what I went through to dispose of the mouse. But three layers of clothes and gloves, a new broom and dustpan, and four trash bags later, I was rid of the critter forever.
To make matters worse, I woke up later in the day in fear. I thought dead mouse’s family was coming to look for their missing family member. Okay so you get the drift, it was all in my mind that the mouse could first of all get in my car and then that he had family that was going to take revenge on me. Do you see where your mind can go if you have a phobia?
Maybe you don’t have a phobia, but you have anxiety about some people, places or things. The Bible tells us in Isaiah 26:3 (ESV) "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." It took me several years to be free of my phobia, but as the Lord began to deliver me, I had to focus on scriptures such as 2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
If you have a phobia, there is help for you. In some cases you can do it on your own. You may need to seek the assistance of a therapist who may use cognitive restructuring which is the process of learning to identify and dispute irrational thoughts. Christian counselors are also available who can assist you through counseling activities that will include studying and meditating on God's word.
What are you afraid of?
A few months ago I saw a picture of myself that I didn’t like. In the picture I appeared tired and unhealthy. I looked as though I had not gotten much sleep and even though I was smiling I could see the signs of stress. My waistline had more inches than I desired and the outfit I was wearing didn’t fit the same as when I had purchased it. What was I doing wrong? My husband and I were going to Planet Fitness 4 to 5 days a week and were trying to eat the right things. I was trying to limit the amount of bread, sugar and fat we were eating and staying away from fried foods for the most part. The picture disturbed me enough that I was determined to do something about it other than hide the picture and ignore what was going on with my body.
After reading articles on everything from diets to aging I came up with a few conclusions. According to aging experts we go through biological changes the older we get. As our muscles age, we tend to store more fat in our bodies. On average we gain 1.5 pounds each year from the age of 25 to 60. It totally makes sense why my stomach doesn’t look like what it did when I was 30 and maybe even forty. That’s why my driver’s license tells off on me every ten years when I have to update it.
Being without a thyroid and getting older I have double trouble. Having an underactive thyroid, your metabolism is slower and if your hormones are not controlled weight gain is imminent. Each time I visit my endocrinologist the first thing I ask is what was my weight at my last visit. My doctor knows my concerns and tries to help me figure out how to manage my weight by diet and exercise and getting enough sleep.
After staring at the dreaded picture for a while, I decided I was going to make some changes. Working out more wasn’t going to be an option since my husband and I are at the gym already 5 days a week. According to my Fitbit I had climbed enough stairs to reach the clouds and walked the length of Africa in steps. According to my couch to 5K app I was capable of running/walking a 5K, so I wasn’t concerned about not getting enough exercise.
When you really look at it, weight is just like money. When you have a shortage of money, there are only two options; make more or spend less. I considered weight to be the same way; if you want to achieve a certain weight you must have a balance between what is going in and coming out. Since I didn’t think I could do any more exercise to burn calories, I was going to have to manage my diet a little better.
But what if I told you that diet and exercise are not the main keys to weight loss and health? You would tell me “bye Felicia.” But it’s true, it’s not about the calories you eat and burn, it’s about making lifestyle, environmental and behavioral changes. Change doesn’t come easy nor does it come by accident or wishful thinking. Here are 5 ways you can get on the right track for a healthier life.
1. Stock your kitchen with the right stuff. Clean out the cabinets and refrigerator of unhealthy food items and restock with healthier options. Make healthy foods easily accessible. Instead of putting a snack bowl on the counter, replace it with a fruit bowl. Cut up veggies and put them in the refrigerator for easy access. You can’t resist pancakes for breakfast if pancake mix and syrup is all you have in the cabinet. If it’s not good for you throw it out so you won’t be tempted.
2. Change your grocery shopping habits. Stay away from the middle aisles in the grocery store which contain all the processed food. If you don’t have a package of cookies and crackers in the pantry you won’t eat them. Plan your meals in advance and take a grocery shopping list with you and buy only what’s on the list.
3. Stay out of the food desert. Don’t leave the house without a plan for what you will eat during the day. If you aren’t careful you will end up stopping by the convenience store or fast food restaurants and grabbing anything in hunger desperation. When you are in a desert, everything looks good and you give yourself an excuse to eat the first thing you see.
4. Plan movement in your day. Figure out when is the best time for you to exercise. Some people do better working out in the morning while others do better working out in the evening. Prepare your clothes in advance, keep a pair of tennis shoes in your trunk or office so that you can make plans to walk and move. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. If you are sedentary, make plans to move at least once every hour.
5. Consider your bedroom a place of rest. Proper rest is important for a healthy lifestyle so make sure your bedroom is equipped for proper rest. Make sure your bedroom is the right temperature, quiet and a stress free environment. Finally know that watching television or playing with screen gadgets before sleeping actually hinders sleep.
When you are married and decide to make changes in your household you have to solicit the support of your spouse and family. Since my husband enjoys cooking and does most of the grocery shopping, if I was going to make changes I was definitely going to have to get his buy in. Once I researched the route we needed to take to change our lifestyle and behavior, I had to ask my husband if he was with me. I really appreciate my husband for saying, “I’m in” and adjusting as needed.
Here we are less than three months later and I have already had to give away half of my closet and purchase new belts. My husband looks amazing and needs to make a visit to the tailor to take up his suits a couple of inches. We feel great and are sleeping better. Our church members even dropped off a couple of bikes in our driveway since we were enjoying spending more time in nature. By changing our lifestyle I no longer have to go on a special diet two weeks before I take my annual physical or count calories for weeks before I have to wear a dress I bought several years ago. The Bible says our body is a temple (1 Corinthians 6:9) and it is our job to care for our temple.
Have you looked at a picture of yourself lately? How’s your temple holding up?
What is the first question most likely asked when travelers arrive at their destination? The answer is “What’s the WIFI code?” No matter where Americans are vacationing whether staying with friends, family, at a hotel, or a vacation rental such as Airbnb, many cell phone users want to know as soon as possible how to access the internet.
There are some travelers who refuse to stay at some locations where we have no internet access. In fact vacationers will often spend an hour of their vacation searching for a WIFI hot spot if they do not have internet access. Most recently during the 4th of July holiday week, hubby and I had opportunity to take our annual nature trip. What’s a nature trip like for the Loves? We do our best to unplug which means we take our phones along with us for emergency but we do our best not to spend time looking at emails, social media and the like. In fact we try to spend most of our time outdoors enjoying God’s beautiful creation.
Yes, the diva and the pastor took off our church clothes, packed nothing but shorts, t-shirts and swim suits and off we went to the lake for the week. We deliberately selected a place in the wilderness with no WIFI access. We enjoyed most of our meals on the patio and I got a chance to break in the pretty pink fishing pole my husband bought me. (Yes it’s pink).
It was nice to put our phones down on the table and only glance at them a few times a day. This time around we only left them on because our son was getting ready to be deployed and we didn’t want to miss his call. I think I touched my phone a total of 5 times a day and didn’t have to charge it for a couple of days. All the touching, clicking, tapping and swipe came to a complete halt.
Have you ever heard of nomophobia? It's the fear of being without your phone. Believe it or not it is real and there is a rehab center in California that offers treatment for this condition. I read an article by Christie Duffie that indicates 12% of people actually use their phone in the shower. The signs of nomophobia include: 1) Frequently checking your phone 2) Using it in inappropriate places 3) Having more than one phone 4) Carrying a charger and constantly checking your battery life.
Did you know that on any given day the average person with a cell phone touches it 2617 times? Have you been guilty of glancing at your phone every five minutes? Are you constantly watching your phone for the next text, email or instant message on Facebook or Twitter? Some people even take their phones to the bathroom because they are afraid of missing a call or a text. Does this describe you? Does it bother you to be away from your phone?
You may be saying to yourself, when I am on vacation I use my phone to capture memories. Are you capturing memories or finding the right photo opportunity to post a great Facebook or Instagram picture? Are you more concerned about sharing a photo of your activities than you are enjoying the activities you are participating in? I don’t want to take a picture of everything I do on vacation. How can I enjoy my vacation if I am trying to take a picture or video of everything?
Do you need a vacation break without your phone? There are now a few tour and vacation organizers that offer digital detox vacations where you are not allowed to use smart phones for social media use or camera use. Could you do it? Sounds like real fun to me.
Take a moment to think about your smart phone behavior. Can you go for five, ten, twenty, thirty minutes or an hour without checking your phone? Take an inventory of your day and see how much time you spend in touching, texting, clicking, tapping and swiping. You may be surprised at the answer.
Do you have symptoms of nomophobia? Have you and your phone become inseparable? 1 John 5:21 (NLT) says: "Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God's place in your hearts." If so it's time to make some changes in our life. Be deliberate about putting your phone down or turning it off. See what you have been missing out on especially on vacation.
Well now that we are back to the real world I gotta go and charge up my phone.... See you in cyberspace!
June has arrived and it’s time for Father’s Day. Even though Father’s Day is a national holiday, dads don’t always receive the same royal treatment as moms. According to Hallmark Cards, there were 74 million cards exchanged for fathers versus 118 million for mothers. In America we legally began celebrating Mother’s Day in 1914 when Woodrow Wilson was president; however, it took some 60 years later (1972) for President Nixon to sign the law to make Father’s Day a permanent holiday.
When I think back to all the fuss we made over mom for Mother’s Day, our dad got the short end of the stick. The four of us always put our heads together to come up with a special gift for Mom. We not only pampered Mom around Mother’s Day, but we spoiled her all the time. For Dad we often went to the store at the last minute, bought a humorous card and whatever inexpensive shirt or bottle of cologne we could find.
Before cell phones, I remember being in college across the country and calling home collect. Mom was always the one to answer the telephone. To save money, she called me back and we would talk for at least 15 minutes. I would update her on how I was doing, ask about my sisters, and finally ask about Daddy. Strange enough, I never asked to speak to Daddy. In fact, the only time I typically asked to speak to him was when it was his birthday or Father’s Day.
Interestingly, I am not alone. A Pew Research study done in 2006 found that among adults with both parents living, people are much more likely to have the most contact with mom (61%) rather than dad. Among racial and ethnic groups, more blacks (72%) than Hispanics or non-Hispanic whites (59% each) report more contact with mom than with dad.
The fifth commandment (Exodus 20:12) commands us to honor our father and our mother, so that we may live a long, full life. So what does it mean to honor them? The law suggests that we to love, hold our parents in high esteem, and be obedient to what we have been taught. The question is always asked, “what if our parents are not living right?” Regardless of whether our parents are good or bad we are to give them our utmost respect. Ephesians 6:3 reminds us again to honor our parents’; however the verse that follows is a warning to fathers. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.
Fathers have a responsibility to train up a child. However, when our fathers do not live Godly lives the family becomes imbalanced and children struggle to demonstrate respect and loving behaviors. Did you know that over 27% of adult children have broken relationships with their fathers and have made a conscious decision to be estranged from them? As to why they are estranged, individuals site many reasons including lifestyle choices, disagreements over money, religious differences, marrying someone from a different culture, and behaviors such as drug abuse or alcoholism, physical or sexual abuse.
The most common type of father estrangement results from divorce. If the child blames the father for the dissolution of the marriage, the child may choose to distance themselves. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, an estimated 24.7 million children (33%) live absent their biological father. Second to divorce, remarriage is the second leading cause for estrangement. Some children discontinue communication when the father remarries, especially if he takes on a new family or has additional children. I was recently speaking with a woman whose husband had never met his grandchildren due to the daughter wanting nothing to do with her father once he remarried.
When I think of fathers being estranged from their children, I think about Abraham and his son Ishmael. Once Sarah demanded that Hagar and Ishmael be banned from their home (Genesis 21:11-14), we see nothing recorded about Abraham and Ishmael until we learn that Isaac and Ishmael were present for the burial of Abraham (Genesis 25:9). Did Ishmael and Abraham have time to resolve their differences prior to Abraham’s death?
This year on Father’s Day let’s make it special for our fathers. If your relationship with your father is not what you would like it to be, pray for forgiveness and reconciliation. James 5:16 encourages us to confess our sins to each other and pray for one another so that we may be healed. The prayers of the righteous have the power to produce powerful results. Reconciliation in some cases may require professional help, but it begins with a heart that is willing to forgive.
Now that my mother has gone to be with the Lord, whenever I call the house Dad actually looks at the caller I.D. and says “hello sugar.” I have already purchased a special gift and card and am looking forward to calling him on Father’s Day to celebrate him, because good or bad, he’s my dad. So this Father’s Day regardless of what your relationship is with your father, decide to be a blessing and make the call. If someone other than your father answers the phone, simply ask…“Can I speak to Daddy?”
A Global Positioning Systems better known as GPS is a wonderful thing to have in your possession especially when you are in unfamiliar territory. If you get off track or make a wrong turn, it will correct you and instruct you to make a U turn. If the error is only minor and a full U turn is not required the GPS will simply display or say “recalculating” or “rerouting” to chart a new path to get you to your final destination.
There are times however when the GPS system is outdated or just plain wrong. In those instances, the system treats you as if you are the one that made the wrong decision. When the system is wrong you can end up going down the wrong path, going out of your way or end up totally lost.
Just this week we were on a mini vacation in Denver. Since we flew in early we had a lot of time before we could check into our accommodations. Once we got in the general vicinity we directed the GPS to take us to the nearest Starbucks. We followed the instructions and found ourselves going in circles with no Starbucks in sight. We finally gave up and decided to go to breakfast instead and then to a movie.
After the movie, we decided to go grocery shopping and entered Whole Foods into the GPS which indicated it was 3.5 miles away. We followed the instructions only to find an empty Whole Foods building and the clerk in the store next to it indicated they had built a new store another 3 miles away. The GPS kept telling us to go back to the closed store so we finally had to turn it off.
Being in a different city is always an adventure for us and we have learned that we must use a GPS device and also rely on both of our phones for directions. One evening we decided to walk to a local restaurant that was supposed to be only .5 miles away. We walked several blocks and realized the restaurant we arrived at wasn't the one we were trying to get to. Since we had already out there, we decided to stick with it and find the restaurant. We both asked for directions on our phones and got two different sets of instructions and neither one of them made sense.
Because the systems were trying to guide us around the lake without street signs, the instructions would say walk 250 feet then turn left and then turn right and then walk 750 feet and turn left on 17th street then turn right. It was by the grace of God that we made it to the restaurant and back home before dark.
Before we knew it our mini-vacation was over and time to go home. Once again we had an early flight and headed out the door at 4:15 a.m. I loaded into the GPS the Denver International airport. It said we were 20 minutes away.
We headed down the highway and everything looked right for as much as we could remember. As we got closer to the exit I noticed some airport signs indicating to take a different exit than the GPS was instructing us to take. I assumed that the car GPS had a quicker route. Wrong! We ended up in the middle of nowhere about 5 miles out of the way.
Okay, we didn’t learn the first, second or third time so I finally had enough sense to unplug the thing and shut it down. If we had continued to listen to it, we would have missed our flight. We finally paid attention to the street signs and got there with a few minutes to spare. Thank God for curbside checking and the fact that we got were TSA pre-approved.
The entire time we were on our trip we were depending on a GPS system that was outdated. Anywhere we tried to go was going to be a hit or miss situation based on new changes to the area. We were relying on something that we knew had flaws but we trusted it anyway and it led us in the wrong direction more than once. Isn't that just like us on our Christian journey? We seek advice and rely on people who have faulty networks and end up frustrated and lost in the process.
The Bible has been given to us as a road map to travel on this journey called life. The instructions are clear, we just have to read and follow them. When we don’t know the right way to go all we have to do is ask for directions from the creator, who will help us.
As we pass through the hills and valleys of our lives, beware of the shiny objects or loud voices that will lead us astray. Remember Psalm 119:105 which says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” If you find yourself going down the wrong path, just stop, look at the roadmap and decide if you need to make a complete U turn or if you simply need to say…recalculating!
Janice R Love, Author
First Lady, Mom, Stepmom and Divorce Ministry Coach