Experiencing the Grace of God Through Children

A couple of weeks ago I spent three days in the hospital.  I was not there for any pain I was in, nor illness, but to accompany my wife as she gave birth to our baby girl Hannah.  The timing of Hannah’s birth, born February 26, could not have been more perfect for God to shower us with this blessing, as Hannah is actually the birth of our second child, the first being stillborn at twenty two weeks on March 1, 2012.

When we lost Samantha Grace on March 1 of last year it didn’t take us by surprise, as my wife’s water prematurely broke at 18 weeks, without any conceivable reason why.  Dr.’s could not explain it, and we were advised of the most likely outcome, the death of our first child.  Yet we held out hope that a miraculous God could put his healing hands in the womb to bring Samantha’s body to a point of being strong enough to be born outside the womb, and then hopefully survive on modern technology.  However, those prayers went unanswered, or at least answered in a way that didn’t meet our deepest heart’s desire.

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Jovan Belcher: Do We Men Really Want to Talk About This Though?

As I read the incoming tweets and Facebook chatter, I realized this was going to be bad. A pro ball player killing his girlfriend and then taking his life; to add to the multifaceted problem, he goes to his place of work to commit suicide. I have to admit, I was not that surprised at the events. Appalled? Yes. Saddened? Of course; at least two sets of families have lost their loved ones. Angered? Yes, of the continued culture of silence that we as men—particularly Black and Brown men—live in on a daily basis. While I am not a minimalist and do not want to abate the sequence of events that led to this tragic killing, men who live in silence and do not talk about and deal with their problems are volcanic time bombs waiting to erupt; it is just a matter of time upon whom they will erupt on and how large that eruption will be.
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Two Short Stories: Communities Caring for One of Their Own

Story A: The wife of a good man and the mother of two boys called out for help when her husband died and she was left with his debt to pay. The creditor came to collect on the loan and when the woman explained she did not have the money to repay the debt, the creditor gave her a short window of time to pay the loan. If it went unpaid by the time specified, her two sons would work for him until their father’s debt was paid back in full.

Story B: In North Carolina, a teenage girl was abandoned by her drug-addicted parents.  A senior in high school, she rose before the sun each morning to work as her school custodian. After school, she worked another two hours cleaning up the classrooms. Despite her long days, she managed to pull straight A’s in her classes.

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The Fantasy Fallacy

Shannon Ethridge the author of 19 books, including the million-copy bestselling series, Every Woman's Battle. Shannon is also a speaker, lay counselor, and advocate for healthy sexuality with a master’s degree in counseling/human relations from Liberty University. Since 1989 she has spoken on the topics of sexuality and Christian spirituality.

Her passions include: Challenging adults and teens to embrace a life of sexual integrity, encouraging married couples in their pursuit of sexual and emotional fulfillment, counseling women who have looked for love in all the wrong places and equipping parents to instill sexual values in children at an early age.

Her newest book is The Fantasy Fallacy: Exposing the Deeper Meaning Behind Sexual Thoughts (Thomas Nelson)Shannon had contemplated writing this book for three years, but the current Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon drove her to tackle the topic now.

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She's Got A Way About Her

Today I’ve been married to my girlfriend for 21 years. Sometime around 1 p.m., we’ll starting working on our 22nd year together. Last year, I made a Sergeant Pepper’s reference. But that was last year. So in the interest of something different, I’ve opted to list 21 ways she’s still “got a way about her” (that’s a Billy Joel reference, for those of you keeping score).

She’s Got A Way About Her

1.       Melissa loves the Lord.

2.       She makes me smile.

3.       She’s surprising.

4.       She loves gardens and the outdoors…and has spent 21 years trying to get me to do the same. I love that she hasn’t stopped.

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Whatever Happened to Marriage

What ever happened to marriage?

I’ve been thinking a little lately about marriage. Maybe its because my son is engaged to a wonderful young woman. Maybe its because I work with a bunch of smart twenty-somethings. But lately, I’ve noticed a trend.

I’m the black sheep. Or worse: a dying breed.

Most of the people I know are divorced. Most of the singles I know have a view of marriage that is one part fear and one part abhorrence that they might have to give up anything – last names, finances, property, nights out, whatever. Marriage is that thing someone does when they want to be miserable. Love is that thing that you hope happens but you’re really suspicious of. Commitment is that thing that if you formalize becomes the beginning of the end.

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Life Lessons From Nora Ephron

"I'm watching your life!" The text from my boss jumped off the screen from his couch transported to mine. He was at home watching Julie and Julia with his wife.  I laughed and quickly texted him back, "I love that movie!  Nate was laughing so hard he cried because it is our life." Twenty minutes later another one: "Okay this is just creepy now..." I smiled because it was true. 

A young couple. A small apartment. A love for food and writing and following a dream.  Nora Ephron made a story come to life, several stories at that.  Many people grew up watching movies she was behind: When Harry Met Sally, You've Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle, and Julie and Juila - to name a few.  Did she help start the chick flick genre?  I don't know I would say that, only because the stories always seems to protray more of an essence of real life and wit than cheesy happily ever after.  

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Why Jesus Matters in Relationships

When you think of Jesus, what word comes to your mind? Many people equate Jesus with religion, which has caused a backlash from many on both sides of the religious divide. Jeff Bethke made a video, "Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus," that's been viewed by more than 21 million people, showing just how provocative both Jesus and religion are (especially when they are combined).

It's not surprising that for many people, Jesus represents organized religion. After all, he is the central figure of Christianity, the world's largest religion. And he is recognized as a prophet in the religion of Islam, the world's second largest religion. In fact, Jesus figures in the doctrine of many religions and cults. So, it's reasonable to equate Jesus with religion, but that's not the word Jesus would want to be associated with.

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What Death Taught Me Once Again

A friend I knew as Papa, Bob Moore, left a legacy today: God is big and suffering like Christ is how we show Him to others.

Both of my grandfathers passed away before I was born, so Bob Moore was the closest thing to a local grandfather I ever knew. I don’t think he intended to become my grandfather, but he became it anyways. By the time he joined Christ in heaven, his body was badly beaten from disease and a few falls along the way. I mention this because it’s in his suffering that I learned the most from him.

People teach us in different ways: Bob Moore taught me what it meant to suffer like Christ. I never heard him complain as a disease moved like a freight train through his body. Instead, he embraced Jesus in it all. For all the study I did of God’s suffering servant (Isaiah 52:13–53:12), Papa Moore showed me what it meant to really embrace what that servant, being Jesus, requires of us.

God Waits in the Wings and Blesses Us

Our 9-year-old daughter, Anastasia, is quickly outgrowing her bike. She likes to participate in the kid triathlons around town and is on the Youth Tri-team at the YMCA. Last fall, in the season’s last event, I watched her riding down the street, pedaling as hard as she could only to have a kid on a larger bike shoot past her. Not only was the bike bigger but it was a road bike. Needless to say, she noticed.

She decided then that she wanted to save up for her own road bike, sensing that she was losing most of her time on the bike (I know, she’s only 9 and already this competitive. Lord help me!).

If you’ve ever priced a road bike before, it doesn’t take long to see that they are crazily expensive – even the kid’s bikes (that they outgrow). Luckily cold weather was approaching so I told her if she really wanted one then to begin saving and we’d look for a used one the next spring. I gave her the amount we’d pay to help out with it if she could cover the rest. However, internally I figured she’d lose interest and settle for a larger, much cheaper, mountain bike.

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