Protecting Marriage

JonathanStarr

Often the most overlooked parts of our unique parenting style, is the marriage aspect. We read books on parenting, we talk to other parents about our kids, and we laugh together about all of our parenting misadventures. However, we don’t often put an equal amount of energy into our marriage.

We’d all agree that we want our kids to see a good marriage. Nobody wants their kids to see an eventual divorce, broken homes, constant bickering, and angry conversations. But, what does it look like for kids to see a good marriage? Is it public displays of affection? A little kissing, and a dad that does the dishes?

I believe it’s much more than any of that.

It’s conflict resolution. Spouses will argue, and if they are really passionate arguers it will be loud. All couples have disagreements, frustrations with each other, and even an occasional misunderstanding. We should limit how much a part of our lives are described by the previous reasons, but we all know those things will happen. The solution to making conflict work in your families is to let your kids see the compromises made, the apologies given, and the grace applied.

It’s serving even when it’s not  convenient. It’s as easy as getting that second glass of iced tea before they ask for it, and as difficult as taking an entire weekend to help the family accomplish a task that your wife is asking for. Serve your spouse in front of your kids, and the less convenient it is…the more of an impact it can have on them when they see it!

It’s spoken words of love. Sure, show your love with some actions, but fill the cup with overflowing in the words department. Say it. Tell her you love her. Tell him he’s awesome. Let the words between you and your spouse be words of life and love. You should also let the words of love flow, even when your only audience is the kids!

It’s including them in the love story. Once upon a time…I met my wife. There is a lot of story there, but the story really takes off when my little ones starting arriving. My 3 kids are one of the best parts of the love story that Starr and I are writing together. I let my kids know, that each time one of them entered the world…my love for their mother increased yet again. I love her more, because I have them in my family.

It’s putting them 2nd. Here is the importance ranking in my house. Starr is #1. Kids are scattered in somewhere at #2. Then everyone else is a distant #3. But the #2 ranked kids aren’t even close to their #1 ranked mother. It’s not #1a and #1b. It’s her first, always first, never last, and the one that will be with me forever. She’s the only person in the house that makes it all work for me. This doesn’t hurt my kids self-esteem, it builds it up.

Anything you’d add to the list? How do we protect our marriage in front of our kids?

Not Being a Jerk

Are you a nice person?  Are you an encourager?  Do people want to be in your presence?

Are you a jerk?  Do you push people away with insulting behavior and a lack of respect?

There is great power and influence in simply being a nice person.  Of course you could lead by demanding and pushing out those that resist, but then you will probably end  up working in a different place than the local church…right?  Unfortunately, this isn’t the case; and I’ve had my fair share of “What are they thinking?” moments with supervisors and pastors I’ve worked for in the church.  But when you make a decision to be a nicer person to those around you, you will open doors of opportunity to truly impact people around you with your vision for where you want to go!

There are probably 1,000 things that could help you be nicer to those around you, but have you considered these?

  • Have someone over for dinner.
  • Take someone to coffee.
  • Write a thank you note.
  • Send an unwarranted mobile text saying thank you.
  • Smile at people.
  • Stop complaining in the presence of others.
  • Stop conversations that are turning negative.
  • Compliment someones shoes.
  • Give people time to answer the question, “How are you doing?”
  • Be intentional about getting to know people.
  • Be generous with your time.
  • Open your life up for others to see.
  • Make eye contact when listening to someone.
  • Talk to children.  Really, really talk to them.
  • Introduce your spouse to new people.
  • Have a firm handshake and offer your hand to strangers.
  • Don’t brag about yourself.
  • Wear deodorant and brush your teeth.
  • Speak complimentary of your superiors and bosses.
  • Praise good things in others.
  • Laugh often.
  • Don’t laugh when it’s not appropriate.
  • Ask forgiveness when it’s needed.
  • Be quick to pray for people when they open up about a need.
  • Listen well, Talk less.

And most importantly, just try to be nice.  I can promise that if you intentionally set out to be a nicer person, it will happen.  People are much more gracious than you would imagine, and there is room for bad days here and there.  The power of forgiveness compliments this so well!

When we strive to be a person that is concerned for others, then we can become an influencer of people.  When you influence people, you can help lead others through life change!  The power to influence others may be the greatest power given to us, and it all starts with learning to NOT be a jerk!

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I love to go see baseball games. Anyone that follows me on Instagram, knows that recently I drove up the East Coast to see the Orioles, Phillies, and Yankees at their beautiful ballparks. It was fun, cheap, and due to my current life circumstances…easily scheduled. The problem has always been how to affordably take my family of 5 to the same fun sporting events. Enter a new website I discovered recently. ScoreBig.com.

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There are tons of different ways to purchase event tickets online, but ScoreBig.com combines the bidding, deal-catching, low price grabbing fun of all you’ve ever seen in one fun website. For example: I just bought 5 tickets for my family to attend an Atlanta Braves game in a few weeks. Face Value on all of these tickets were $35 each. For my family, that’s a ton of money just to buy tickets to the game, and doesn’t even include parking or concessions. With ScoreBig.com, I was able to put in a bid of $20 each for the same tickets and won my bid! Saved me over $75 from what MLB would have me pay online.

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In Summer || Starr Cliff

Homemade ice cream.

Mornings on the porch with coffee and the dawn song of birds singing.

Visits from family and friends; highly anticipated,  and always better than hoped for.

Floating the river.

Baseball games.

The pool.

Bright nail polish.

Big beach hats.

Georgia awash in green.

Fireflies temping us outside…mosquitoes driving us back in.

Sweet tea in mason jars.

Loud music with the windows down.

Fresh, sweet tomatoes and fragrant basil from the garden,  devoured with slices of  mozzarella.

My gorgeous kids with tanned legs and golden hair.

Skinned knees and bug bites.

A slower pace,  a lighter heart.

SummerCollage

From the time I was a little girl and waited all spring for it to be warm enough to water-ski again, summer has always, always been my favorite. I could go on and on with things big and little that fill my heart in the summer months. These last few months have been hard ones for us (hard is relative of course,  and we are acutely and keenly aware that we have much to be thankful for).  I’m so truly grateful for the timing: that this figurative hard “season” of life has coincided with my literal favorite one. Seeking God and finding Him faithful just comes a littler easier to me with the sun warming my face.

As summer threatens to turn to fall, I’m admittedly a little anxious about what our future holds. But I trust He will be there in the turning and changing of the leaves just as He’s there in the easy,  natural comfort of summertime.

Finding Common Ground

http://www.hks.harvard.edu/news-events/publications/hks-magazine/archives/winter-2010/finding-common-ground/

We tend to identify ourselves by what are differences are. Unless we are isolated, and then we begin to find people who are similar. Play at game with me and imagine you are at a big party, with tons of different personalities in the room. There are a few outliers that will either work the room and campaign for mayor or find an isolated spot to do serious people watching, but most of us look for what’s familiar and stick with those people. We go into search mode for what we may have in common with the strangers around us, then when we find it we settle in with them.

We find those people that fit our understanding of how we see the world, then we begin picking at the differences amongst everyone else (church denominations, cliques in high school, or political parties.) For many this is where the common ground game ends. For for a few of us this is where something changes for us.

The “common ground” isn’t as common as you once thought. You’ve picked at the differences in others, and realize that those differences are suddenly more attractive than the common ground you once held so dear. Or maybe that not’s exactly true, but you find that even though you have huge differences; you also have huge agreements in other values. We’re not talking huge changes or even 180-degree turn arounds, but just enough to make you want to find common ground with those you disagree with.

I believe this is what common ground was always intended to mean; not gathering with those we agree with, but finding agreement in the opinions, thoughts, and ideas of others. If we can find common ground in the scatterings, then we’ve really achieved something. So whether it’s the first day of school, attending a new small group at church, talking to strangers in a coffee shop, or trying to get along with family members; we can all learn to find the common ground. It’s not about eliminating the differences, they are still there and for some will always be there. It’s just that now the differences take a back seat for the moment.

And if you’re a person that’s never had a ‘change of heart’ toward those you should love, maybe you should.