Earlier this week we had a great conversation on Focus on the Family with author Jerry Jenkins. While I’ve personally appreciated a number of the 170 or so books he has written, the topic of conversation was his classic, Hedges. In it, Jerry offers some practical, common-sense ways a person can build hedges – protective barriers – to keep his marriage strong and solid. While his ideas might seem “prudish,” as Jerry describes them, I’ve got to say I’ve found his suggestions invaluable. And I’ve tried to live out those very things, trying to make sure my relationship with Dena stays solid.
Not that I’m an expert, but I’ve added to Jerry’s excellent advice – and here are some additional “hedges,” or perhaps, “John’s personalized hedges.” I offer them here with the hope that you’ll want to know more about the concept, and that you’ll go listen to the broadcast and that you’ll also buy Jerry’s book. With that, my own hedges:
Proudly wear my wedding ring, especially when I travel. I know this sounds silly, but I often try to keep it between me and the folks I am visiting, as kind of a shield to protect me from stupid thoughts, and to remind others I am married – and glad for it.
When on the road, I try to call home every evening. After the meetings are over and I go back to my hotel room, the loneliness sets in. That’s when I want to talk with my beloved wife and be reminded of her love and my commitment to her.
I display family photos on my cell phone and computer screen. I like to show others pictures of my kids and wife. And it is always good to be reminded of my love for them, and my true desire to live a life of integrity for them.
I tell stories about my kids. Lots of stories. That reminds me of my unique role as their dad, and it keeps me connected to my family.
I follow Jerry’s advice, which he calls the Billy Graham Principle, of never dining, traveling or being alone with another woman. Once I became quite uncomfortable when, at an out-of-town meeting, I almost found myself having lunch alone with a woman – the rest of the party didn’t show up. I frantically called my wife, and when she didn’t answer, I called my assistant back at the office, because I wanted someone to know what had happened. Fortunately, the others did finally show up. Still, this is a powerful concept, and a matter which I do not take lightly.
I talk regularly and honestly about potential temptations with an accountability partner. And several key co-workers. And my wife. Shining the light of day on temptations seems to rob them of their power.
Alright, that’s most of my list. And I’m really grateful to Jerry for his insights and advice in this book and conversation. What about you? Do you have any protective barriers in place to keep your marriage strong and undefiled?
Your Family Live! launches today live Noon-1 p.m. MT, with Yvette Maher, Juli Slattery and guests Jill Savage, Tammy Maltby, Jennifer McKinney and TobyMac. Live calls and forum questions about balancing the busyness of motherhood. Here’s where to see this exciting new telecast.
My 15 year-old asked me last night if she can read the Harry Potter books. I know the pros and cons of saying yes, and I am sure my decision will offend someone.
After remembering some excellent opinions from Chuck Colson and Plugged In and further personal deliberation, and after seeing one or two of the Potter movies, I told my daughter she can read the books. She was quite happy and gave me a big hug!
This was a matter of letting go, just a bit, so my daughter can exercise discernment and can apply some of the values and truth-training we’ve given her. She is, after all, almost 16. And I think that as a result of this decision we’ll have some good conversations about the Potter worldview, Truth and life.
I wonder if you’ve allowed – or prohibited – your kids from reading Harry Potter? If so, why? And if they’ve read the books, are you pleased with your decision?
Is it always a bad thing when a college turns down a prospective student? Even if that student is your child? Of course not!
Our oldest child applied to several schools, and in retrospect we’re rather glad he wasn’t accepted at some of them (no offense, University of Chicago). Now our second boy is looking at college – although he has yet to get that awful “rejection” letter. Still, it is helpful to keep some perspective about the entire college application process. It is grueling, but getting into that school-of-first-first choice is not always as significant as we might think.
Here’s an article that looks at successful individuals like Warren Buffet and Ted Turner, folks who were not admitted to the university of their choice, and how they reacted to that rejection.
Success borne out of failure…a good reminder for any college-bound student.
On my way to work this morning I listened to Chuck Swindoll on the radio. What a timely message, all about the days leading up to Good Friday and Easter. “Don’t miss the obvious” is Dr. Swindoll’s reminder. In this sermon he shared about the importance of Christ’s mission on this earth: He came to suffer. He came to die. He came for us.
Listen here, and be reminded about the true meaning of this week.
Grace…it was two weeks of pure grace in our lives. About 18 years ago our little (at the time) family endured quite a few mishaps and no small amount of misfortune. During that time, we experienced God’s grace in some amazing ways. The year was 1992, and my journal entries reveal the saga:
o Tues – Dakota (3 years old at the time) fell off the playground equipment at Portal Park, hitting his head on a concrete culvert intended for kids to crawl through. He was taken to an emergency care facility and x-rays showed minimal swelling. Pretty scary for his parents, though!
o Wed – Dakota now has a virus, with a high fever
o Thurs – Dakota still has that virus
o Fri – Seth, 5 months old, has the virus now, and slept little last night
o Sat – Seth has a fever, almost 104 degrees. While at the pharmacy for his medicine, I started feeling poorly.
o Sun (Super Bowl) – I’ve got the virus and stay in bed, Dakota feeling weak. Dena is SuperMom.
o Mon – Dena has the virus, and with little sick time accrued, I go in late. She hangs on through the day.
o Tues – Dena a bit better, but now has an infection.
o Wed – Dena’s infection intensifies.
o Thurs – Today we avoid disaster, and maybe this season of physical ailments is over?
o Fri – All quiet. We are hopeful for an uneventful weekend.
o Sat – Nice day, we go to Garden of the Gods city park for some sunny relaxation. Dena’s first time out of the house in a week!
o Sun – Five minutes before leaving for church, Dena is frantic. “He swallowed it! He swallowed it!” I try to calm her down as she searches around the bed for…a hair barrett. No trace of the 3½ inch hair clip, and so we call the pediatrician. The pediatrician suggests an x-ray, so we head to the hospital. The x-rays show that he did indeed swallow the thing, and we wait almost four hours for a surgeon and team to extract the clip. We are on the phone to Texas friends and family, feeling anxious. Greg and Tami, local friends, “happen” to be touring the hospital for the upcoming birth of their second child — and when I hear Greg’s voice I felt as though God were sending me a tangible reminder of His love and sovereignty. Co-workers Steve and LuAnne come by with sandwiches – quite welcome since we had skipped lunch. Seth became a bit of a local celebrity as we waited for surgery – “there’s the little boy who swallowed a hair barrett!” What could have been a tragic incident turned out to be an easy problem for God to care for. Seth made it with no problems through surgery and recovery! We head home 12 hours after we arrived at the hospital. Within a few days, we were surrounded with love. Our friends Fred and Cynthia sent $100 for “medical bills.” We received encouraging long distance calls from other folks. We were deeply touched by the kindness and generosity of so many.
Looking back, I am almost moved to tears as I recall the trials and difficulties! What a time for our family! We endured much, and probably aged a few years just in that two week’s time. With no other choice, really, we relied on God’s abundant grace through it all. And we never doubted His care for us and His ability to show Himself, even in our weaknesses.
All of that brings to mind the verse, 2 Corinthians 12:9, in which God assures us that it is in our weaknesses that He delights to show Himself:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
I’m so glad for the way God showed us the truth of that verse, even though it was a hard lesson to grab onto. These days, when we hit a rough stretch in life, we look back and know – beyond a shadow of a doubt – that He is able, and willing, and caring…especially when we are unable and weak.
By the way, I still have the hair barrett. And Seth still has his “dime slot” scar just above his belly button. A couple of tangible reminders of the two weeks of grace.
I just read a blog post about the new NBC television series, Parenthood. The writer deals specifically with one of the show’s story lines, about one couple who learn their child has Aspergers, a condition that is one of many Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD). While I’ve not seen the show, evidently its portrayal of the condition and its effects on a family is rather accurate and very compelling.
As the father of a boy with autism, I’m intrigued. I know firsthand about the difficulties and challenges of parenting such a child, and also about the stress that journey can have on a marriage. So I’d like to know more: I wonder if you saw the television program and have any reaction? Let me know.
And if you need some starting points to learn more about ASD, Focus on the Family has some links here, and I’d also (humbly) suggest this audio conversation I had with Bob West, founder of Need Project, about my family’s situation.
“Live with your wives in an understanding way…” I Peter 3:7
A good buddy of mine is a smooth operator. He designed matching wedding rings, makes his wife photo collages; he’s “that guy” from the famous diamond campaign. Recently, I suggested he should give the rest of us knuckleheads some lessons.
His wife piped up and said, “Do you know what my husband does? Almost every night, he sits on the bathroom floor while I’m brushing my teeth and talks to me. He tells me about his day. He asks me about my day. By the time we get to bed, he’s talked with me for at least an hour.”
The conversation immediately moved past good-natured ribbing. I remembered that two years ago my friend had shared that their bed time routine was a point of contention in his marriage. He got ready for bed much faster than his wife; couldn’t figure out what took her so long. Most of the time, he’d be asleep well before she was even out of the bathroom. Frustrating. Somewhere along the way, he set aside his pride and chose to recognize this as an opportunity to serve. Sacrificing some sleep, he now sits on the floor while she brushes her teeth. He connects with her; her life, her thoughts, her day.
I Peter 3:7 exhorts husbands to “live with your wives in an understanding way.” What does that verse really mean? What does that look like? Poetry, pictures, and romance are nice, but Peter was probably talking about gifts of a different kind, like sacrifice and service. He was probably talking about getting out of bed, sitting on the floor, and connecting with our brides.
Realizing my buddy had turned a struggle in his marriage into a strength made me more convinced he should be giving lessons. Then I wondered, who would be open to learning from him? How many men are willing to get out of bed and sit on the bathroom floor to make their wife feel special? Am I? Are you? If not, then don’t claim I Peter 3:7. If you are, then get ready to do whatever it takes.
This is not about cookie-cutter solutions. Prepare to serve and, over time, get ready for God to turn struggle in your marriage into strength. But, be careful…sitting on the bathroom floor might change your bed time routine more than you think.
(With gratitude to my friend Trace, who shared this powerful example with me)
The Best Picture award went to a war film, and the epic by James Cameron was only a runner up. The Oscars provided a bit of drama for the audience gathered in L.A. It was a surprising night for many film enthusiasts, including our own Plugged In team. Read their live blog account and see Paul and Steve’s reactions to the ceremony. And before you try to see The Hurt Locker, go here for a trustworthy review by Plugged In.
There’s a lot of excitement about this weekend’s Oscars. The movie-going public is seemingly enthralled about Avatar and The Hurt Locker and The Blind Side. While the Academy has expanded the entries to ten for the Best Picture category, I’m sorry to say I’ve only seen one of the possible winners, the Pixar-produced, “Up.” Truth is, I just don’t have a lot of time go to movies, even though I enjoy the art and impact of film.
So, of the ten films nominated for Best Picture, what is your favorite (and note, please, that neither Focus nor I are endorsing any of these films…just learning what you like)?