a house of cards

As the current situation with COVID-19 unfolds, I rotate through a series of emotions.  I am frustrated with all the “panic.”  Then I get uncomfortable.  Am I taking this seriously enough?  So I go buy more toilet paper.  And get frustrated with the “overreacting” people in line ahead of me. I alternate between skepticism and uneasiness.  I want predictability.  I want my ordinary life back.  And then I remember that Jesus taught me that “ordinary life” is full of trouble, thorns, thistles, and death.   Read this this quote by CS… Continue reading a house of cards

confess your stress

a sculpture of the mythic Atlas holding the world over a white background

Just last week, my wife asked me a simple question and I became defensive. My reaction was quick, automatic. Didn’t even have to think about it. It didn’t feel like a choice, but…it was. We were getting ready for bed when she asked, “Why do you go into work so early?” I didn’t see the question coming, but you would have thought I did based on the series of ready-made responses. I was several sentences into it before I noticed my volume, my tone, my heart rate. But I quickly… Continue reading confess your stress

resolved 2020: make conscious emotional choices

This year, I’m making a new kind of 2020 goal. Historically, my goals have been practical: start a fitness program, paint the garage, or trim the budget. And I usually include a few character goals: listen to my wife, pray for patience, etc. But this year, I’ve got a different—and long overdue—type of goal in mind. This year I’m going to make what you might call a “structural goal.” This year I will make new choices about my emotions. This might seem like an obvious category, since my emotion affects… Continue reading resolved 2020: make conscious emotional choices

resolved 2020: gratefully make choices

I’ve lost ten pounds since September.  I’m happy all over.  My knees are grateful, my waistline relieved, my heart encouraged.  I feel empowered (and more myself).  “How did you do it?” you might ask.  Modestly I answer, “It was the result of my choices.” Of course, the gaining of that ten pounds was also the result of my choices.  Choices always produce results.  The real question is who’s in charge of making your choices?  The answer, of course, is you.  We are the ones in charge, but tend to live… Continue reading resolved 2020: gratefully make choices

the incarnation

  “The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.” —C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity   Growing up in a country church, I heard a lot of talk about “inviting Jesus into your heart.”  The grown-ups who used that term seemed rational and competent, so I accepted the phrase.  But, oh, I pondered it. I couldn’t quite make it work.  I had questions.  My first problem with the idea of “inviting Jesus to come live in my heart” wasn’t theological, but spatial.  When I was… Continue reading the incarnation

unequally yanked

For my birthday I got a humidifier and a de-humidifier… I put them in the same room and let them fight it out.  –Comedian Stephen Wright Sometimes introverts marry extroverts.  When they do, a tug-of-war develops: the question of how to recharge becomes a back and forth conflict.  Not every marriage, of course, is comprised of one pure introvert and one pure extrovert.  But in every marriage, one spouse is a little more introverted or extroverted than the other so the tension seems to emerge in most relationships.  The styles pull… Continue reading unequally yanked

high school reunion

  I had received a call out of the blue from someone I’d not seen in 45 years.  She told me about a planned high school reunion for the class of ’74 from Jordan Matthews High in  Siler City, NC.  She took my address and promised to send info.  When I got the invite, I was curious.  When I decided to go, I was nostalgic.  But when I hit the “Reply” button, my next sensation was fear. At first, I thought this was about my memory.  Someone with a semi-familiar… Continue reading high school reunion

the secret to resolving conflict

  People have trouble resolving conflict.  Every marriage counseling session is, in part, trying to undo an unhealthy pattern of conflict resolution.  But I know a secret.  And if people used this one secret, I might lose half my counseling business.  Still, I share this secret with everyone, yet no one seems to catch on.  But you, dear reader, are different.  So I am going share it with you. Here it is: Don’t try to resolve conflict when you are hurt and angry.  Wait until you are just hurt. “That’s… Continue reading the secret to resolving conflict

bats in my attic

  My wife, Jean, and I were reading in our living room when she shrieked. “Calm down,” I thought, then looked up where she was pointing.  A dark, leathery shape was flapping in erratic circles around the light fixture.  It swooped past my head, then I shrieked, “It’s a bat!”  We pulled our feet up under our bodies and put our books over our heads. “Do something!” she shouted. Well, anyone could plainly see that I was doing something; that book wasn’t staying on my head by itself.  But I… Continue reading bats in my attic

put your heart in God

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  (Matthew 6:19-21) “It’s time for you to start a savings account,” my mom said to me.  “Get your cigar box and let’s go to the bank.”  We got into the car.  On the seat beside me was… Continue reading put your heart in God