Monday, April 1, 2013
1. Conflict is inevitable so trying to avoid it is futile. Learning to manage it is imperative.
2. Men and women have fundamentally different ways of viewing the same information which can cause unexpected communication problems in a marriage.
3. Most of our ideas about what constitutes a "healthy" marriage are formed in our family of origin and will probably not match that of our spouse.
4. Our individual ego and pride can be major obstacles to a healthy marriage.
5. Speaking up for our own needs in a marriage is not only healthy, it is essential.
6. The demands and stress of maintaining a family can and likely will create distance between spouses. A conscious effort to reduce that distance is critical to a healthy marriage.
7. Differences in sexual appetite between spouses is normal but needs to be negotiated in a mutually agreeable manner.
8. Most marriages will need some counseling from an outside source at some point. Both parties must be willing to participate and be willing to change for the sake of the marriage.
9. Too much attention to career(s) or other distractions can cause couples to drift apart.
10. Healthy marriages require intentional effort and routine maintenance.
11. Romantic love may be the beginning foundation of a relationship, but will not sustain a marriage over time. Adjustment and modification of the definition of love must change as the marriage matures.
12. There is no "formula" for what constitutes a good marriage. A “good” marriage is determined by the individuals and what works practically for them.
13. Communication is one of the most troublesome hurdles in most relationships, and certainly is in marriage. Good communication is a skill which can be learned.
14. Blended families and mixed marriages have unique problems which will get worse if not dealt with.
15. Open dialogue is essential to a truly healthy marriage and this requires that both parties be open and transparent in their discussions. This may be more difficult for men in some cases, but it is a skill that can be learned.
16. Money, sex, children, discipline, career, religion and family are among the most troublesome issues for most marriages.
17. Second and third marriages tend to have even lower success rates than first marriages, indicating that we don’t learn from our mistakes.
18. Wounds we carry from childhood (and which we may not even be aware of) can cause problems in any relationship but are almost guaranteed to cause problems in marriage because of its demand for intimacy and closeness.
19. Children can become accomplished manipulators of parents. It is extremely important that both parents be "on the same page" regarding discipline and family expectations.
20. Absolute and unconditional trust between partners may be an impossible ideal, but must be constantly the goal.
COUPLES COMMUNICATION GUIDELINES
• Most important decision (made each day): we will stay together.
• Unresolved conflict creates distance in the relationship.
• Successfully resolving issues builds trust, intimacy. It shows your relationship is strong enough to withstand challenges. Avoiding issues means you are not sure.
• Finding your “higher calling” in your marriage puts smaller issues in perspective.
• Intimacy is being able to reveal your true self knowing that it will not be used against you later.
• We must allow each other momentary frustrations without making a big issue of it or taking it personally.
• We can be the “container” for our partner’s anger or frustration, allowing them to vent.
• Emotions are fleeting—sometimes it is best to let them pass without responding (especially when they are coming from our partner).
• It is important to speak up for what we want and represent ourselves truthfully in the relationship.
• We need to be clear about our boundaries and expect our partner to respect them.
• Defensiveness can be destructive and shuts down further dialog.
• The only way to work on our own issues is IN a relationship.
• Assuming positive intent on the part of your partner can keep you from attributing sinister motives.
• Our partner is not our parent, our ex, our former lovers—so we should not read into their actions our own assumptions or weaknesses.
• The best gift we can give each other is a healthy, loving relationship.
• Tone of voice and body language matters at least as much in partner communication as the words you say.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
As we talked further, most of us agreed that true security revolves around our faith and family. Having close members of the family to support us--knowing that we can count on others when we need them-- becomes more important as we grow older. It seemed to be hard for us to think about security in non-financial terms. Someone challenged us about whether our faith truly gave us security. For example, we go through the motions of prayer and discussion about our faith in church or Sunday School or some other form of worship, but if we had to face a crisis suddenly, would our faith be strong enough to get us through? That seems to raise some questions . Why? If our faith is not strong enough to get us through difficult situations, what does that say about our own need for spiritual growth?
There's some research that shows that men tend to think of security primarily in financial terms. On the other hand, women tend to think of security in terms of strong relationships and feeling loved and safe. There seems to be some fertile ground for further discussion on this topic. One possibility is to initiate a conversation with your spouse or partner about the subject of security and what it means to the two of you and how your definition of security might change as your relationship matures.
So here's the challenge: How secure are you in your life at the moment? Have you faced any recent "speed bumps" that make you think differently about security? Do you feel your faith is strong enough to get you through most crises you might face? Do you and your partner have similar ideas about what constitutes security for your marriage and your family? How secure do your children feel in their relationship to you and your partner? How might you and your partner jointly enhance the sense of security both of you have in the relationship?
Give these questions some thought. And share your ideas here.
Saturday, February 5, 2011
59% of us work more than 40 hours a week because the job requires it
- Initiate a discussion with your partner about what is stressing you AND her. Get honest and don't try to be so invulnerable.
- Ask your best friend to be an "accountability partner" to remind you when you seem to be overdoing work or other commitments.
- Get an electronic book reader and download some inspirational books to keep close by when you travel. (You can also download some really good sermons if you like).
- If your dad is still living, re-connect on a more personal level this year. Ask his counsel on work matters, then on personal matters as well. He'll likely appreciate being asked.
- Focus on being "in the moment" with your children and family. Do your best to tune out work and other distractions and just enjoy their presence in your life.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Here are some suggestions for improving your spiritual development in the coming year:
- Read a Psalm every day
- Read the New Testament or Old Testament if you prefer (try The Message version for easy reading)
- Read 3 spiritual books this year (check with your church library)
- Start daily devotions with your partner (email us for ideas)
- Volunteer at least 60 hours this year with a mission cause
- Start a Men in Balance group in your neighborhood or church
- Begin a weekly accountability breakfast with a male friend
- Begin a personal daily devotional (try getting up 15 minutes earlier)
- Renew your wedding vows with your partner
- Reconcile with an estranged friend or relative
- Mentor a young boy at least an hour each week
- Ensure that your family is in church at least 75% of the time
- Clean out your wardrobe and donate to the men's shelter
- Volunteer to serve meals at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen
- Meet with your pastor or spiritual leader to plan your spiritual path
- Resolve to question any suspect business decisions at work
- Attend 3 or more men's networking meetings
- Sign up for Disciple or other Bible study group
- Commit to daily prayer or meditation
- Volunteer to assist with the youth program at your church or synagogue
- Resolve to resist materialistic purchases this year, especially Christmas
Add your ideas as a comment!
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
It is doubtful much will change about your life unless you change spiritually. This doesn't mean you have to become an ascetic or track down a spiritual guru, but it does mean investigating the larger part of yourself which you possibly neglected as you have worked on building a career and family.
All of us need spiritual roots. Decipher what that means for you and do some serious work on it. Where do you start? Pray. A lot. Then talk to your minister or another trusted person who may help you along your journey.
Be open, ask what he or she has learned and what insights they have gained along the way. Then jot down some spiritual goals for yourself and start to work. Also, there are numerous books to help with spiritual development which you can find online, in your church library or in bookstores.
In our survey, a number of men say they feel they are "going through the motions" spiritually-even at church. Sound like you? If so, you are missing out on the great rewards of a spiritually fulfilling life-and maybe the spiritual connection with your wife or loved ones you would love to have. Use the worksheet below to do a checkup on yourself.
Finally, most of us by now are convinced of the merit of regular physical exercise. Spiritual "exercise" is even more important. Are you doing your spiritual "push-ups" or are you spiritually out of tone? It is doubtful much will change about your life unless you change spiritually.
Pop Quiz (With really hard questions!)
1. [T] [F] My faith is strong and I lean heavily on it.
2. [T] [F] I pray at least several times a week.
3. [T] [F] I have male friends with whom I can freely talk about spiritual issues.
4. [T] [F] I have had serious questions about my faith and have done at least some study on that.
5. [T] [F] I usually find "quiet time" to meditate or read scripture.
6. [T] [F] I am confident I am on a good path spiritually and things are unfolding as they should.
7. [T] [F] When I attend church, I someties feel I am "going through the motions."
8. [T] [F] I am actively involved in some church activity other than attending worship.
9. [T] [F] I am involved in at least one organization that helps others.
10. [T] [F] I do not have a problem with drugs (including alcohol), pornography, or womanizing.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Been putting off getting spiritually “fit.” Here’s a list of suggestions to consider. Don’t postpone getting started...pick one or two to do this week. Let us know how it goes!
No BlackBerry or email after 8PM. Every time you check your email after 8PM you have to hug your partner or a child.
Read a Psalm each day for a week. (Or pick scripture of your choosing. The idea is to get you used to reading some scripture regularly).
Call an old friend and catch up. Before you hang up, thank him for being there for you.
Initiate a conversation with your partner in which you simply ask “What’s been on your mind lately?” and just listen without fixing any problem or editorializing about the response.
Download a sermon from your church website and re-read (or listen) for messages you may have missed. Forward it to someone with a note of appreciation.
Call your parents if they are still living and thank them for the sacrifices they made on your behalf. Option: call someone who has influenced your life positively.
ADVANCED (Instrument Certified Pilots Only)
Invite your partner to begin nightly devotionals with you (get a free couples devotional starter book by emailing us)
Call the men’s shelter (or another community agency) and volunteer an hour, or a night, or a regular schedule. No cash contribution substitutes allowed!
Give us your feedback! What suggestions do you have for other men to try? What works for you? Email us or add it to the blog.
Monday, May 17, 2010
Forget about negligees and soft lights. Instead initiate nightly devotions with her! Unless you are already doing this, you don't know what you are missing.
All it takes is the courage to suggest it and I would bet she says "yes" enthusiastically. To make it easier for you, Men in Balance will send you a "starter" devotions book called Moments Together for Intimacy by Dennis and Barbara Rainey.
Send us an email with your address and we'll send it immediately.
Why This Matters
In the survey we did a year or so ago, many men said they were not seen by their family as the spiritual leader of the family. Why not??? Who is??? Unless you show your wife and children you are serious about spiritual guidance, it is just so many wasted words and, more importantly, you are missing a real blessing. Every night (with rare exceptions) my wife and I read (aloud) selected scripture and some commentary about that scripture. We also read some other inspirational reading. Then we read our mutually developed vision for our marriage. We follow that by praying aloud-one night she goes first, the other I start. What an experience! Believe me if you want to know what is on your partner's mind, listen to her prayer. It is powerful and the act of doing this together is a great reminder as to what life is all about.
I hear so many men talking about problems in their marriage. But there are some real things you can do to make your marriage truly intimate and joyful. I encourage you to try it. Write for the book or buy your own...or just look in your concordance for scriptures about marriage, or love, or family or whatever subject comes to mind. And let us know how things go.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Just to be clear, when a teenager is acting out, you likely DO need to step in, but in a joint decision with your partner, some collaboration is called for. Often we realize that the things we are trying to control are not that important-except to our ego. So maybe a better approach is to ask open ended questions such as "How do you see that?" or "What ideas do you have about dealing with this issue?"
A lot of times our partners want us to take into account the impact on relationships as well as the "logic" which dominates our thinking. So, here are some questions to ask yourself as you think about this issue:
-Have you been told by your partner or others that you try to control them or events?
-Is it unfair that men get accused of needing to control?
-Am I confused because I get rewarded for control at work only to be criticized for it at home?
-What are we after when we try to control events? What is it that WE are needing?
-What is the spiritual value of giving up control?
-How does controlling behavior hurt relationships?
-Domestic violence is sometimes seen as control going "over the top." Why? What is the danger here?
-What is the worst that can happen if we cede some control to others in a given situation?
As you prayerfully think about this issue, ask your partner or a close friend for some feedback about how they see you on this issue.
Monday, February 22, 2010
Notes about Forgiveness (PLEASE ADD YOUR THOUGHTS!)
Forgiveness is typically defined as the process of concluding resentment, indignation or anger as a result of a perceived offense, difference or mistake, and/or ceasing to demand punishment or restitution.
Forgiveness may be considered simply in terms of the person who forgives including forgiving themselves, in terms of the person forgiven and/or in terms of the relationship between the forgiver and the person forgiven.
In some contexts, forgiveness may be granted without any expectation of restorative justice, and without any response on the part of the offender (for example, one may forgive a person who is incommunicado or dead). In practical terms, it may be necessary for the offender to offer some form of acknowledgment, apology, and/or restitution, or even just ask for forgiveness, in order for the wronged person to believe himself able to forgive.
Most world religions include teachings on the nature of forgiveness. Some religious doctrines or philosophies place greater emphasis on the need for humans to find some sort of divine forgiveness for their own shortcomings, others place greater emphasis on the need for humans to practice forgiveness of one another, yet others make little or no distinction between human and/or divine forgiveness.
Recent work has focused on what kind of person is more likely to be forgiving. A longitudinal study showed that people who were generally more neurotic, angry and hostile in life were less likely to forgive another person even after a long time had passed.
Studies show that people who forgive are happier and healthier than those who hold resentments.
Another study at the University of Wisconsin found the more forgiving people were, the less they suffered from a wide range of illnesses. The less forgiving people reported a greater number of health problems.
The research of Dr. Fred Luskin of Stanford University studies show a reduction in experience of stress, physical manifestations of stress, and an increase in vitality.
One study has shown that the positive benefit of forgiveness is similar whether it was based upon religious or secular counseling as opposed to a control group that received no forgiveness counseling.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus repeatedly spoke of forgiveness, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Matthew 5:7 (NIV) “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24 (NIV) “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:25 (NIV) “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also.” Luke 6:27-29 (NIV) “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:36 (NIV) “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37 (NIV)
Elsewhere, it is said, "Then Peter came and said to Him, 'Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?' Jesus said to him, 'I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.'" Matthew 18:21-22 (NAS)
Jesus asked for God's forgiveness of those who crucified him. "And Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.'" Luke 23: 34 (ESV)
94% say it was important to forgive, but 85% said they needed some outside help to be able to forgive. However, not even regular prayer was found to be effective. The Gallup poll revealed that the only thing that was effective was "meditative prayer".
Forgiveness: Letting go of grudges and bitterness (Mayo Clinic)
Generally, forgiveness is a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge. The act that hurt or offended you may always remain a part of your life, but forgiveness can lessen its grip on you and help you focus on other, positive parts of your life. Forgiveness can even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you.
Forgiveness doesn't mean that you deny the other person's responsibility for hurting you, and it doesn't minimize or justify the wrong. You can forgive the person without excusing the act. Forgiveness brings a kind of peace that helps you go on with life.
What are the benefits of forgiving someone?
Letting go of grudges and bitterness makes way for compassion, kindness and peace. Forgiveness can lead to:
-Greater spiritual and psychological well-being
-Less stress and hostility
-Lower blood pressure
-Fewer symptoms of depression, anxiety and chronic pain
-Lower risk of alcohol and substance abuse
What are the effects of holding a grudge?
If you're unforgiving, you may pay the price repeatedly by bringing anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience. Your life may become so wrapped up in the wrong that you can't enjoy the present. You may become depressed or anxious. You may feel that your life lacks meaning or purpose, or that you're at odds with your spiritual beliefs. You may lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others.
What happens if I can't forgive someone?
If you find yourself stuck, it may help to write in a journal, pray or use guided meditation. You may want to talk with a person you've found to be wise and compassionate, such as a spiritual leader, a mental health provider, or an unbiased family member or friend. You may also want to reflect on times you've hurt others and on those who've forgiven you. Keep in mind that forgiveness has the potential to increase your sense of integrity, peace and overall well-being.
Does forgiveness guarantee reconciliation?
If the hurtful event involved someone whose relationship you otherwise value, forgiveness may lead to reconciliation. This isn't always the case, however. Reconciliation may be impossible if the offender has died or is unwilling to communicate with you. In other cases, reconciliation may not be appropriate, especially if you were attacked or assaulted. But even in those cases, forgiveness is still possible — even if reconciliation isn't.
What if I'm the one who needs forgiveness?
Consider admitting the wrong you've done to those you've harmed, speaking of your sincere sorrow or regret, and specifically asking for forgiveness — without making excuses. Remember, however, you can't force someone to forgive you. Others need to move to forgiveness in their own time. Simply acknowledge your faults and admit your mistakes. Then commit to treating others with compassion, empathy and respect.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
If you know the brokenness of life, its fractures within and its division
without, then you have participated in the broken body of Christ, and you are
invited to share in the breaking of bread.
If you desire to know the love of God that overcomes indifference and
despair, if you desire the reconciliation that overcomes estrangement and
alienation, then you're invited to share the cup of the new covenant.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
(Below are some of the remarks from the Men's Ministry breakfast at Davidson United Methodist Church on September 20th, 2009)
A few weeks ago a man who was getting on in years said to me that when he had to call a repair man to do things at his home, he couldn't bear to stay in the same room with the repairman as he did his work because it reminded him of the fact that he could no longer do this work for himself. He had to leave the room in embarrassment.
How said the story is!
This man has defined himself as being the caretaker, provider, fixer of things in his relationship. And since he is no longer able to perform those functions, he is somehow less of a man.
My question is this: why do we define ourselves as men so narrowly?
If I ask you (as I did the breakfast attendees) to jot down on a piece of paper 3 words that were used to define manhood when you were growing up, chances are you would write things like: strong, independent, great provider, never cries, individualistic, unemotional.
If I ask you to write down some words to describe how you would like your son or grandson to see themselves, chances are you'd write words like empathic, sensitive, considerate, spiritual, tender-hearted.
Isn't it interesting that the way society and our peers define manhood fails us as we get older? Being the tough guy and always invulnerable simply does not work in the real world of work and relationships.
Many times our independence and toughness cause us to be competitive, aggressive, inappropriately defensive in a relationships with colleagues--and especially our partners.
When I talk to women about what they want in a man, it is the qualities listed in the second list above. Being open, empathic, sensitive, responsive, tender-hearted, collaborative--these are the things that make for good relationships. Unfortunately these are the things we weed out of young boys as they become men in favor of being individualistic, independent and assertive.
The model Jesus presented to us of manhood is one of gentleness, but also one of being radical and even angry and violent (as in overturning the tables of the money changers in the temple). So it doesn't follow that to be a follower of Jesus you can only be meek and mild and ever compassionate.
I would challenge you to do this: sit-down with your partner and ask what characteristics of masculinity interfere with your relationship? Likely your partner will give you some feedback which may be tough to accept.
Men are simply not conditioned to be collaborative problem solvers, empathic listeners, tender-hearted feelers or anything of the sort. All those are seen as signs of weakness and most men would never allow themselves to express these feelings. Yet this is what relationships need to survive and thrive.
It is not enough to claim that you're a product of your environment or that you are the way you are because that's the way your father was. We are autonomous individuals, capable of changing the way we behave and the way we relate to other people.
Many men when they face adversity such as job loss or illness, come to realize that the "tough guy" stance no longer serves. In fact it gets in the way of genuineness and true relationship.
Are you a real man?
Are you man enough to initiate a discussion with your partner about being more collaborative, open and sensitive to her needs in the relationship? Are you willing to give up some of your macho behaviors and be real with other men? Are you willing to initiate discussions on things other than sports or sex or automobiles with other men? I hope so because I believe this is where the true rewards of being a man come to fruition.
To many times the only emotion we are allowed to express as men is anger. It is almost universally accepted for men to express anger--sometimes even when it leads to violence. But this truly makes us one dimensional human beings missing most of the great flood of richness that relationships with our partners and others can provide.
Here are some practical things you can do:
Initiate discussions with other men about real topics and feelings.
Talk to your son or daughter about the importance of being open emotionally to other people
Ask your partner how you can be a better listener in the relationship
Look on the Resource page of this website for interesting reading material about men's issues and how they affect our lives.
I would certainly be interested in hearing your feedback about these ideas. Please comment if you like.
If you want to contact me individually to discuss this, my e-mail and contact information is below.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
During the late 50s and into the 1960s my father spoke out strongly on civil rights issues from the pulpit. He pointed out the God-given rights of all people to pursue happiness and to live free without fear. Many times he met stony silence but he continued to preach the Gospel of Christ and to point out the inconsistencies in our society. I was proud of his intensity and in 1962 became a protestor myself in Greensboro, NC when marchers tried to integrate the movie theater and the downtown lunch counter. When I was arrested my father came and bailed me out and said "Christ and I are proud of you". When I was later booted out of Greensboro College as a direct result of my continued militancy on civil rights, he confronted the President of the college, told him he was wrong and backed me 100%.
On Father's Day I will say a prayer for my father and for my son and for myself. May each of us call it the way it is even when it is uncomfortable and unpopular. My father did and I am still proud of him!
My dad had a quiet reassurance about him and he was always there. I had a morning paper route as a young kid, which meant I was up and delivering papers before 6:00 AM Monday through Saturday. At the top of the hill on Pine Avenue I delivered the last paper and headed for home. There in the distance was the silhouette of my dad in the kitchen window cooking a hot breakfast of French toast or pancakes. I knew I was almost home. I knew I was safe. Beyond anything else my dad made me feel safe, and that’s one of the most important things a kid can feel.
My dad had a knack for saying just the right thing at just the right time…
I sat in the car staring out the window watching the kids who had arrived before me shoot baskets. I was nervous. My first basketball camp, my first time away from home and I was in the 7th grade. My dad didn’t say much on the way to Jack Donohue’s Basketball Camp. But I think he knew that I was nervous. He glanced out the window and watched the kids shooting, too. One of them missed a shot.
“He missed,” my dad said. For some strange reason, I wasn’t nervous any more.
My dad could put my mind at ease without saying a word. He had this reassuring wink that told me everything in the world was going to be OK, and searching the stands for his wink was a big part of my pre-game ritual during my high school basketball career.
I’ve always wanted my dad to be proud of me and I hope he is, because I am proud of him and love him very much.
Lewis M. Kayes, III
Son of Lewis M. Kayes, Jr.
I reply to your request because I have thought all of my mature life that my father was truly exceptional.
Born in Augusta, Georgia, and from his boyhood a member of the First Presbyterian Church there, he was a model member, was a lifetime churchman who, when I was a teenager, was a virtual founder of the Clairmont Presbyterian Church in Decatur, Georgia. In Augusta he had met my mother, who was born in nearby Grovetown, Georgia. They became engaged at the height of the Depression and could not get married because Dad had no job yet. A graduate of Georgia Tech with a degree in Architecture, he had been presented by Tech with a scholarship to help him get a Master’s degree in Architecture from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. I have inherited many of the letters they exchanged as they waited and hoped for his graduation, which they thought would produce a good job for him whereby they could be married.
After earning his Master’s from Harvard, he could not, because of the Depression, soon find a job in Atlanta. Their letters at the time show great disappointment and depression concerning their hopes. But Dad never gave up hope, and he finally found a job that paid him just over seventeen dollars a week!!! It was on that salary that they were married and that I was born. But he never complained. He just worked and designed some of the key buildings in Atlanta, especially, in 1939, the first mall and shopping center in Atlanta that had off-street parking: The Briarcliff Plaza. At the same time he was an officer in the Army Reserves and was one of not many Americans on active duty when World War II broke out. I saw him come to my mother on the day after Pearl Harbor and tell her, concerning his artillery unit, that “They have given me one hour to tell you goodbye.” On he went, eventually to Boston, where he was assigned as the officer to load the Queen Mary, which had become an American troop ship, with the first Americans to be sent to Australia and New Guinea to defend them against Japanese air attacks. He kept a diary of his entire wartime service from 1941 to 1945, which records his daily sacrifices and achievements to protect his country and its people. He became a battery commander and general advisor to other Army and Navy forces concerning how to overcome Japanese attacks. He started as a first lieutenant and became a major before war’s end. His diary shows how his religious faith supported him throughout and how often he used that faith to comfort and encourage others.
Upon war’s end, he came back to Atlanta and re-entered architecture, designing such classic buildings as the home of the Retail Credit Association, while at the same time fathering two more children, in addition to the two who had been born before the war. Always going to church regularly (even Sunday nights and Wednesdays), he made me and my brothers devoted all of our lives to church and religious life. One of us has just himself retired as a Presbyterian minister who began his service to God and man in Scotland, continued it in Texas and Arkansas, and ended it in Oklahoma, while most f the time our father was a major anchor of the Clairmont Presbyterian Church in Decatur, Georgia, to whose origins he had contributed by getting its property donated by an uncle, and its designs influenced by advice and gifts.
He was a fulltime father, husband, reserve officer, and ruling elder. A 1991 stroke made it necessary for him to spend the remainder of his life in a nursing home, where he impressed all with his courage and endurance. Just before he died in that place, he told me during a visit to him, “Lister, I like this place. They take good care of me.” Along with thanks for mother, I thank God for him every night. He never made much money, but he gave very much of himself to very many. I am honored to be his son, and since his death in 1994, continue to try to live up to the example that he set for everyone who ever knew him.
James Lister Skinner IIII
My dad was a wise, quiet, trusting man. Within that demeanor he unspokenly communicated a confidence that I would do my very best. He, himself, never had the opportunity for much formal education. As one of 14 children, he was hired out to other farmers for planting and harvesting -- much like farm laborers today. When it was time to plant, he was committed to the farm and had to leave school. Ditto when it was time to harvest. Within this pattern he never completed the 7th grade, yet he was one of the wisest persons I ever met. After marriage, he and my mother moved from the farm to the nearby city of Hagerstown, MD. He took a job as a factory worker cutting shoe soles. It was long hours, and he never earned more than $5,000 a year. But he and mother were very frugal, farmed a large plot behind their home and kept chickens. When it came time for me to go to college, the factory owner (a Scrooge-type person) came to him and offered to loan him money for my education. Dad graciously thanked him and said that wouldn't be necessary. Knowing how hard they worked and "scrimped," spurred me all the more to study hard and "scrimp" on my expenses -- working on weekends and during summers. If I had one line to describe dad, it would be: He didn't tell me how to live. He simply lived and let me watch him do it.
My Dad was a product of the Great Depression and a life molded on the "farm" where everything was used and re-used and the only part of the pig that went to waste was the squeal. He graduated high school and went to college for a semester, but his family could not understand why he had to spend more time studying for his Davidson College classes than his North Meck classes. Their understanding and appreciation of "higher" education was limited. Consequently, he joined the Air Force shortly after Korea and wound up at Piedmont Natural Gas in their service department after his four years in the Air Force. He saw too many of the professional soldiers were as professional as drinkers and he wanted no part of that, so he went to a "trade". He stayed there for 35+ years and retired as the senior serviceman for Piedmont when he was forced to leave because of his health.
He spent his life sacrificing for others, including myself and my sisters and my Mom. All three of us graduated college, two of us graduated with advanced degrees including my law degree and my sister's doctorate. While he did not "pay" for our education, he provided for us so that other funds could be used and we had all of our other needs cared for. None of us had any college debt when we graduated. The sacrifices of his life gave us huge financial advantages and his attitude towards education, being markedly different than that of his parents, put us on a different path ... one that he could have traveled but for others' limited perspective which he refused to adopt.
My Dad was not a brilliant scientist or doctor. He was not a savvy financier or businessman. However, he died worth seven figures and did not stab anyone in the back to do so or steal from any shareholders or the "market" at someone else's expense. He left us in a great position to find our fortunes. He taught us the value of hard work and commitment: to his wife, children, employer and God. He was the epitome of taking care of the small things and the bigger things falling into place. As I have grown older, I have seen more and more just how wise and good we was. He knew how to make the "right" choices. He left us much too soon at age 65, but he made up for any loss in quantity of time by quality of person and example.
I want to thank my dad for his past and present perseverance and family leadership. He leads by example by taking one day at a time. I love him dearly and pray my kids know how much he loves them as he also loves me. My father is a great man. Thank you god for allowing him to be involved in my life.
My Dad (Richard Martin)
My dad was born into a farming family in 1899 in Wisconsin. He attended school to the 8th grade, but then had to stay home to help with the farming. He was not formally educated, but learned what he needed to know to be a good farmer. I was always impressed with his hard work (most days up at 5 AM to milk the cows and was not finished until about 6-7 PM). I spent a lot of time while growing up by helping my dad with farm work, and he taught me a lot about farming. However, by the time I reached high school, I had decided that I did not want to be a farmer. My dad was very sad and disappointed when I told him this. I wanted to go to college, but my dad did not think I needed a college education. He was very uncomfortable around people that more educated. I think that he might felt inferior. My dad set a good example for me to be a loving father and hard worker and dependable. However, he was somewhat distant, and we did not have many serious talks. He could be very stubborn sometimes and had some prejudice against blacks and Jews. However, I never saw him disrespect anybody person to person. Overall, he was a very loving husband to my mother, good father to both my brother, and I and set a good example for both of us. I miss him very much and wish I could be with him this Father’s Day.
June 16, 2009
I wish to share the wonderful memories I have as having the most closet to Christlike father anyone could have. I wish everyone could know how my daddy lived his life with true humility and honor for his heavenly Father. I talk often to my friends about the life lessons I learned from My Daddy. He taught me to respect other people's property. I remember one time in my high school years when my best guy friend bound for military service during the Vietnam era bought a Jeep and we went riding in a cornfield on Labor day and we trashed a corn field of a neighbor Farmer . when I got home daddy knew (small community ) that I had left with this guy and several of my buddies. called me in to the den and asked were you involved??? My answer (taught to never lie to any one by him) was of course yes. He was very angry but no one but me would ever had guessed that , He only said You were part of something that cost a Man part of his living . You will go to Mr. Hovis and offer to cut the corn you rode over with a manual corn knife and I will help you . but you and you alone must make this right , because you knew better, I said daddy everybody else knew better , too. His answer was everybody else is not my daughter.
daddy used to bring me home any wild animals damaged if he was tilling a field and let me care for them because I loved animals as did he and because I think he felt bad disturbing their life. If I got one to live I got to keep it .I had more wild animals as pets than you can imagine.
I love him and miss him more and more . You never get over the loss of your Father .but you always have the great honor knowing how much God must love having him with him I know how truly blessed I was more and more even now. Thank you for this opportunity to talk about My daddy.
I wish that if I ever find some partner to share my life with that they would have had the honor of knowing my father Joe weaver. My only regret and his as well that I never found someone as good as him to share my life with.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
As we learned, and none of us has all the answers about marriage and all of us have questions about how to improve our marriage. Here are some additional thoughts, but also go to the blog to add your own ideas to the conversation and let's keep the dialogue going. You can add your thoughts anonymously, and your thoughts may help someone else.
How can we make sure our expectations of our partner are realistic?
As we said in the session, getting our needs for affection or respect or attention met in our marriage may be challenging. But the first question we have to ask is whether our needs are realistic: can one person meet all our needs or are they excessive?
This requires us to know ourselves better and what is driving the needs we bring to the marriage. If our need for intimacy, for example, is so demanding on our spouse, chances are it would be demanding on someone else as well. So we could go to another relationship and find the same problem plaguing us because we have not learned what drives our own behavior. All we can do is keep our side of the ledger clean and hope that our spouse does the same thing.
How can we resolve differences that seem so huge?
We had some good discussion about the importance of having the same values and whether we're on the same page regarding what is important in marriage. Clearly some discussion is in order to make sure we both are saying the same things. But the important thing is to set aside time for some in depth communication in which we are willing to be vulnerable and truly open up to our spouse about how we feel. We do not need to apologize for our feelings. What we feel is what we feel. However, we do need to be respectful of our partner's feelings while at the same time representing our own feelings accurately. My experience is that women are so eager for us to open up and talk to them honestly that they will appreciate any effort we can make on that. Remember that the survey says that most men wish they could open up more with their spouse and that most men are carrying around things which they feel they cannot discuss with their spouse. If we're going to improve our marriage we have to be willing to risk some rejection of our ideas in hopes that we can come to workable solutions for the marriage.
Remember the concept of "Assume positive intent."
As Chris noted, this means hearing the comments from our partner as coming from a positive place and not from retribution or vindictiveness. When our partner offers us feedback, she is intending that feedback to make us a better person, not to destroy our ego. If our ego is so fragile that she cannot talk to us about important things (including things she would like to be different in the marriage) then eventually she will shut down and no longer take the risk to talk to us about important matters. That is a huge loss. If our marriage becomes primarily concerned with logistics and day-to-day routine, we have lost the spiritual piece that makes the marriage really valuable.
How does your faith interact in your marriage?
Obviously your faith is important in your marriage and you should continue to explore deepening your faith. If possible, share your faith concerns with your partner and talk openly about how you feel God is at work in your marriage. Also be honest about how you may have thwarted God's will for your marriage by protecting ego or acting in an an unchristian-like manner toward your partner. It might be worth scheduling some time with Jody or another of the pastors to talk about faith issues. And while we are on the subject, if your spouse believes the two of you should be in counseling, then by all means agree to go. It is a good way to learn about yourself and your partner.
As we mentioned there are other resources on the website including some of the books we discussed. Not only should you consider buying some of these books (Amazon.com has used copies available at a reasonable price), but you should discuss these books with your partner and consider reading them together and talking about what you learn.
Men in Balance is always available to help you in whatever way we can. Also keep in mind that it is a nonprofit organization supported by contributions from the participants. If you find it helpful to you in your personal life or in your marriage, consider making a contribution. You'll find details on how to do that below.
As always, if I can be of further assistance call me at 704.895.8976.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
The answer is simple. You've heard it before. It involves focusing on the really important things. Watching out for number 2, you.
As men, we are so good at taking care of family and loved ones and deferring our own well-being. Then it happens--we lose a job, a marriage or, like Jack, find ourselves fighting for our life, literally.
It is so interesting that we men put off physical exams, R&R, faith development while we pour ourselves into career or other interests. This year can be different--you can improve your "standard of living."
Here's a beginner's checklist, but you should add to it to fit your needs:
Use the economic trouble as an excuse to re-think what really matters. If your 401K has lost 10 years worth of growth, maybe those 10 years could have been better spent on family, health, loved ones.
Make it your goal to truly LISTEN to your partner with no defensiveness or challenge. Probe her statements and (as Stephen Covey says) seek first to understand, then to be understood. In the last 3 months, I have had 2 men tell me their spouse was leaving them--and they didn't see it coming. My guess is she feels she tried to talk, but felt she wasn't heard. (See the Couples Communication class if you are interested.)
Without fail, carve out 2 or 3 hours weekly to volunteer in your church or synagogue or some other cause that matters to you--and do it without taking time from the family.
Read your Bible (preferably one with lots of help notes) or some other spiritual book that challenges your higher self and gets you thinking about the BIG questions.
Add your own ideas to this list and tackle it NOW. The payoff can be mended relationships, a new sense of spiritual well-being and a higher standard of living.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Just imagine you were on that flight and just after the crash, you realize you are alive, whole and likely to be OK if you can just get out of the plane. What would you be thinking? Probably not about getting to the office or retrieving your luggage!
Hopefully you would be thinking about the fact that you have been given a second chance, you have cheated death. You WILL see your family again and hold your children again.
Why do we need such a jarring event as this (or divorce or loss of a job) to remind us to sort out our priorities?
Why not make 2009 the year for your own spiritual development? Let this "Miracle on the Hudson" be your prompt to pay attention to YOUR development by equipping yourself to be a better husband, father, person?
Here are some simple things you can do to get started:
- Take a lesson from the folks who survived Flight 1549 and begin living as if this day is your last. If you knew that today would be the last time you saw your family what would you do differently?
- Sign up for Disciple class at church. If possible, attend with your spouse or partner. Discuss the implications for your lives after each session.
- Investigate Stephen Ministry or Road to Emmaus as a route to learning about yourself and helping others.
- Began a daily devotional time with your wife. Men in Balance will provide a free copy of Devotions for Couples upon request.
- Buy a Life Application Bible or The Message Bible and start a disciplined reading of the Bible. Start with John in the New Testament for openers.
- Make plans now to be in church or synagogue at least 75% of the time this year--and get the whole family there, especially young men in your family.
- Take some time away and learn about your spiritual self....most of us rarely do this but it can be very helpful.
- Ask another man to be an "accountability partner" with you to meet regularly and talk about mutual spiritual development.
- Balance work and home demands this year--no matter what it takes.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
The key is to not try shouldering all the burden yourself. Open up to friends and family or your partner and just BE for a while.
This is also a good time to think about spiritual depth for 2009. Here are some suggestions to make this a year for growth and development:
Buy a Life Application or The Message Bible and enjoy the depth of the comfort available there. Start with John in the New Testament and soak it up. (Myers Park United Methodist Church is doing an online Bible study. Sign up at http://www.mpumc.org/ )
Make plans now to be in church or synagogue at least 75% of the time this year--and get the whole family there.
Take some time away and learn about yourself....many of us only rarely do this but it can be very helpful.
Balance work and home demands this year--no matter what it takes.
Sign up for the Couples Communication call below and get to know your partner more deeply.
What are your ideas about this? Post them on the blog. And let us know how we can help!
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Especially during this special season, I am suggesting that is exactly what we need. The image our family needs of us is not one of an invincible linebacker in protective gear but a servant on his knees seeking a spiritual connection with God. We may see that as vulnerable but the paradox is that it is an image of strength and commitment.
The purpose of Men in Balance is to help men in their spiritual growth. During this blessed season, why not examine yourself spiritually and initiate a conversation with your spouse about your spiritual partnership and what she wants for the marriage and the family in terms of this important link.
Ironically, I have spoken with several men recently whose wives have walked out on them near the Christmas holidays. They didn't see it coming! Incredibly, they had had no conversation with their spouse about the state of their marriage in years (or had stonewalled any attempts to work on "the relationship.")
So what about it? Are you ready for some Christmas? Some re-connection with your spiritual self? Some vulnerability in your walk with Christ and your marriage. There's more strength there than you know!
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
What's up with men sitting on the sidelines at Christmas time? Why do the women do all the work, keep the family engaged, make all the arrangements--and we just show up? (This is not always the case, but it is a frequent complaint of women around the holidays.) I even heard of one husband who asked his wife on December 24, "What are we getting the children for Christmas?"
This year, make it different! Be a partner in the work and the joy of Christmas. That means more than putting up the tree and hanging the hard to reach stuff. Make it a time of communion with your partner around a blessed time of year. If you are uncertain as to what to do, try these ideas:
- Get involved in the decision making about gifts and the shopping as well--and show some excitement
- Help pick out, mount and trim the tree down to the last ornament (make sure Christmas music is playing and not a ball game)
- Plan to get the entire family to a special church service
- Christmas shows on TV get priority over sports shows
- Initiate the reading of the Christmas story before opening gifts
- Read scriptures and have a prayer of thanksgiving every night till Christmas (and beyond!)
- Have a real conversation with your partner about what makes the season special for her--then make it happen
- I'm sure you can think of others, but the message is BE THERE. Being busy with work does not excuse us from active participation in the season.
What are your ideas about this? Post them on the blog.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
What do you think. Are men guilty of this more often than women? What are the risks--to career, family, personal integrity of self-delusion or justifying behavior we know is wrong?
Question: Would you be willing to answer to an "accountability partner" who would keep you honest with yourself? Someone who would challenge your behavior when it gets out of line with what you know is right?
I'd welcome your thoughts on this.
Monday, August 4, 2008
It seems that men have always been under-represented in the church (except in the clergy). On any given Sunday the audience in most churches is about 60 percent female (up from 53% in the 50's). Nationally, that’s well over 13 million men AWOL from church. But there are other troubling statistics as well. About 25% of married women worship without their husbands. Less than 10 percent of churches are able to maintain a thriving men's ministry. About 90 percent of the boys raised in church abandon it during their teens and 20s never to return. In a Men in Balance survey (http://meninbalance.org) of churchgoing males, only 56% say their family sees them as a strong spiritual leader.
On the positive side, when a mother attends church, the chances of the rest of the family attending are about 17%. When the father attends, the chance that the entire family will attend jumps to 93%. There's good reason to get men more involved in the church.
David Murrow suggests a number of reasons why men do not attend church in larger numbers. While I am aware that many of the reasons men give for not attending church seem flimsy, there are a lot of things which we can do in churches to make them more "male friendly."
The full article is at http://meninbalance.org/articles/menhatechurch.htm
What do you think??? I'd really love to start a dialog about this.
Jerry Hancock, Executive Director
Men in Balance
Friday, April 25, 2008
Wednesday, April 23, 2008