Archive for the ‘Life Lessons’ Category


Bounce BackBlogBack in the 1900’s (well, that’s technically correct, but it makes me sound old)…In the late 90’s (ok, not much better. I was an adult when many of you reading this were not even alive, so I still feel seasoned)…Let’s just say “back in the day”, yeah, let’s go with that…Back in the day, I rode my bike without knee pads or a helmet.  However, nowadays, it seems that they issue safety equipment with every bike purchase. I used to drink water from the garden hose, but today, water must be bottled, chilled, and vapor-distilled with electrolytes.  I left the house in the morning and did not return until the street lights came on.  There were no apps or smartphones with GPS to track my every move and guess what, I turned out just fine.

Before you pounce, I agree, times are different now than they were “back in the day.”  Perhaps our awareness is greater due to technology and the internet but just go with me for a second. Think about it.  What life-skills did you develop when you fell off your bike and licked your wounds and kept playing? Or what about when you had to think critically to solve problems or resolve conflicts amongst friends because adults weren’t around to intervene? When we loss a game we had to deal with the emotion of not being good enough, this time.  Some took their ball and went home, but we know how life turned out for them if they continued on that path.  We did not receive feel-good trophies just for participating.  There was a level of resilience that was unintentionally and/or indirectly learned that may be absent from many of our kids today.

As parents, we are so close that we are able to grab our kids by the hand before they fall; anticipate their problems, and mitigate the risk before they are encountered. We mediate their conflicts and even provide solutions before providing them with the opportunity to think through their options. We lessen their loads so that they do not have to work as hard, but all at what cost?

Building Bounce-Back Power!

In our effort to provide our children with the life that we did not have, perhaps we are eliminating the character-building experiences that made us who we are. I believe that the majority of parents goal is for their children to be positive, productive citizens in society. Society includes others. Although we may be teaching them to be productive, but are we equally considering their ability to relate with and to others?  We doing our kids a disservice when we remove the resistance that builds the core of their internal resolve and strength — Bounce Back Power!

Fertilizer has a purpose.  It smells awful, but it also creates a fertile environment that promotes growth.  The same goes for our kids.  What stinks in their life could be the very thing that helps them grow. Resilience is one of the main characteristics that, I believe, is essential during a child’s adolescent years.  When a parent is not intentional about developing coping skills in their child(ren), it can significantly increase their stress levels as adults and impact their ability to socialize with others.  Without an ability to cope with life circumstances, adults become paralyzed and seek alternative means, outside of themselves, to produce happiness and peace.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us — they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust in God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady. Then, when that happens, we are able to hold our heads high no matter what happens and know that all is well, for we know how dearly God loves us, and we feel this warm love everywhere within us because God has given us the Holy Spirit to fill out hearts with his love.”  – Romans 5:3-5 LAB

I do not believe it is a mistake that the above passage mentioned these three characteristics that develop as we go through problems and trials.  The legendary coach, Vince Lombardi once said, “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get back up.” At some point in life, he knew we all would get knocked down, but are we intentionally teaching our kids how to get back up?

Think about it…where would you be if you did not have these three characteristics to depend on as an adult?  How would you respond in the midst of your storm? (Pause to allow time for reflection). So now you understand why it is equally important for you to be intentional about allowing your kids to face some level of problems and trials so that they develop an ability to cope as children.

Just in case you could not imagine what your life would be like without these characteristics, consider this.

Patience

According to Dictionary.com, Patience is your capacity to accept and/or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting upset or angry.  Perhaps you could not imagine life with patience, because you have none (IJS). Stress is real and it is a killer.  You can’t teach what you don’t know. Modeling the behavior is the best way to teach your child.  Use your life circumstances to point out when you had to be patient and how it benefited you. Continue to model it until they catch it.

Refer to Galatians 6:9 ESV – Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we don’t give up.

Character

Life is about choices.  The choices we make will be based on who we are as a person. Without patience, our character is the only thing that will keep us out of trouble. Problems are only compounded when our character causes us to make bad decisions in the midst of a trial.  Our character is based on how we think, who we are, and the moral compass that guides our actions. Your abilities may get you in the room, but your character is what will allow you to maintain what you obtained. What’s influencing the way you think?  How you think will determine who you become, which impacts what you do.

Refer to Proverbs 23:7a NKJV – “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”

Trust in God

“Do you!” is a popular catch-phrase that, in my opinion, is misguided, to say the least.  It proposes that we know what to do and have complete control over the future. But, I contend, as parents, we should stop telling our kids “you can be whatever you want to be if you put your mind to it.”  I believe this sets them up for failure and disappointment. The reality is they were born with a purpose.  Although they could be good at many things, there is something that will bring them great joy and fulfillment. As our kids “Original Mentors” (their parents), it is our responsibility to guide them on their journey toward discovering why God placed them on this earth.  Once they are on the path, we should help cultivate their faith in a way that causes them to depend less on us and trust more in the one who knows the plans that He has for them. God will reveal who they are and His intentions for how He will use them to impact the world. This is a matter of perspective.  You are not teaching them to think small or limit their capacity. You are actually expanding their capacity by getting them to depend on the one who is able to do more than we can ask or think — God!

Refer to Proverbs 3:5-6 NLTTrust in the Lord with all of your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. 

Parents…to help your kid(s) fully realize who God has created them to be, you must be who He designed you to become. – TheOriginalMentor.com

Where Do You Go From Here?

Perhaps you read this blog and realized that you need to take action steps to help your child(ren) develop patience, character, and trust in God.  I suggest you read Super Pencil as a family.

Super Pencil & Revenge of Talking TelevisionsSuper Pencil is a realistic fiction, coming of age story about a boy growing up in the suburbs who has to be patient, build character, and trust God. when he is forced to navigate finding friends, fitting in, feeling lonely, and react to being bullied.

From fourth grade boys to middle school girls, or a parent wanting to spend quality time with their child (ren), Super Pencil is a non-stop adventure that will make you laugh, think, cry, and then cheer for the good guy. 

Go to SuperPencilSaga.com/shop to order your copy today.


Super Pencil & Revenge of Talking Televisions

I am so proud to announce the launch of our new book, Super Pencil & The Revenge of the Talking Televisions! About three years ago, my son, Micah, dreamed up the plot points and the main character, Jeff Whitman, who he based on himself. Well, let me go back to how it all began.

Our Story

Micah loves comic books.  Every morning on our way to summer camp he would tell me about the new saga’s he was imagining.  Every night, he would draw the covers of the many comic books that he imagined and tape them to the wall in my office.  Then this happened. One morning he told me about Super Pencil and the Attack of the Talking Televisions.  There was something about this title that caused me to pause and reflect. Weeks later I was traveling to Las Vegas with a group of friends and could not stop talking about it.  I knew then we were on to something.

When I returned from my trip, Micah and I sat and discussed the characters. I asked him questions while capturing the details.  For months I asked, “What happened next?”  His imagination sparked my creativity and our collaboration birth what you now know as Super Pencil & The Revenge of the Talking Televisions. So, let me tell you a little more about the book.

Book Description

When Jeff Whitman’s friends become too obsessed with video games to play with him, he comes up with an amazing idea to get them away from their screens.

It all begins with a confrontation with the bully Hines Redgrave. Hines thinks that Jeff is stealing his friends. The bully doesn’t understand that people like Jeff because he is kind and considerate of others. Hines vows revenge for Jeff’s actions.

Then, Jeff’s friends start disappearing! They haven’t gone far. They’re all attached to their screens and playing the latest popular video game, Revenge of the Talking Televisions. Jeff is sure that Hines is somehow behind it all, but how can he prove it? With the wise advice of his father and a little help from his own imagination, Jeff discovers a way to free his friends from Hines’s control and take out those talking televisions once and for all.

PRE-ORDER TODAY!

From fourth grade boys to middle school girls, or a parent wanting to spend quality time with their child (ren), Super Pencil is a non-stop adventure that will make you laugh, think, cry, and then cheer for the good guy.  

CLICK HERE to learn more about Super Pencil, the authors and to order copies for your kids, their friends, grandchildren, godchildren, nieces, nephews, or strangers!

Enter to Win!

Share this post and like us on Facebook @SuperPencil and Instagram @SuperPencilSaga for a chance to win an autographed copy of Super Pencil.  We will randomly select a winner Friday, July 20th.

 

 


I have prayed, pondered, and almost wept over the last several weeks while trying to make sense out of all of this.  I have asked myself, which American do I prefer my son to live in?  If I had to choose between a society where he is aware of who dislikes him because of the color of his skin and they are open and honest about their prejudices OR would I prefer he lived in a country where people overtly express their love for him, but covertly act in a way that does not support that notion? My answer…Neither! But if I had to choose, I would much rather know who hates me and have the ability to respond accordingly than to not know and suffer the effects of their hatred and discrimination. I would rather know than to be frustrated by an invisible wall of resistance, not understanding why I am not able to get beyond where I am.

Honestly, the Neo-Nazi / Racist protesters in Charlottesville don’t scare me. I am more fearful of the Congressman who verbally detest what they did and stand for, but not willing to make policies that counter the systemic injustices that are taking place within our criminal justice system.

I am more afraid of the police officer who pulls me over because he does not think I can afford or deserve to live in my neighborhood and points a gun at me because of his preconceived notions of me.

I am more terrified of an Attorney General who believes Affirmative Action is an injustice to him because he fails to process or understand the need for the law, to begin with.

I am more panic-stricken by a social construct that is built to limit the economic opportunities of an entire community of people but can make it appear as if it is their fault for not working hard enough.

I am more frightened of people who did not know, realize, or acknowledge that racism still existed until seeing the torches and swastikas in Charlottesville.

I could go on, but there is a group of people who look far less threatening, but possess an extraordinary amount of influence and power to impact my son’s life in ways that will affect generations to come.

Elie Wiesel said, “the opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference.” To say you care for someone and detest actions that hurt or offend the ones you say you care about without the willingness to make sacrifices for them, will cause your genuineness to be called into question. Colin Kaepernick simply chose not to be indifferent. It is evident why he protested is true and still taking place today. It’s ok to question his motives until he explains why he took a knee in the first place.  To continue to have a problem with his non-violent, silent protest after he explains why, only exacerbates his reasons for kneeling, to begin with.

Kaepernick is a microcosm of what I fear. He represents a community of people doing a right thing for the right reason, however, because someone has POWER and INFLUENCE, they oppress them, remove the economic opportunity, and make it appear to be ALL their fault.

Suppose that was your kid with a conviction? Do you believe he should lose his livelihood and ability to take care of his family because he decided to have a voice?  Would you support your son or ask him to compromise?

In closing, Steve Bannon called the protestors of Charlottesville a “collection of clowns.” At first glance, it appears to be the “pot calling the kettle black.” However, after I mused over it a bit more, I believe it justified my argument above. Bannon is the type that I fear. He is someone with influence, in a position of power, who can oppress the opportunities of a set of people. He can call the Neo-Nazi’s in Charlottesville “clowns” because he views them as being beneath him and only masquerading with no “real” power or influence. If this type can cause us to focus on them (the clowns), then those with influence and power can continue to “Make America Great Again” without any opposition.

We must not allow tweets from 45 and social media post to distract us from what they are enacting or the indifference of those who were elected to follow through on what they say they stand for.  It is not enough to make public statements that denounce bigotry, then fail to pass legislation that eradicates the same; or worse, write laws that perpetuate the injustices.

Call your Congressman or Congresswomen, today, and tell them that they can no longer be indifferent.  Cause them to act on what they say they believe. Secret hate is far worse than public love.  Make the call today!

TheOriginalMentor.com




6years ago today, I stepped out of MY comfort zone and entered into something that has been nothing short of amazing.  I have experienced, peace, joy, abundance, revelation, wisdom, guidance, pain, suffering, redemption, and growth.  

Leaving Corporate America, was uncertain, but true steps of faith will never be.

I encourage someone today, who is trying to decide if they have the strength to endure what you know God is telling you, but is afraid to leave what and who is standing between you and destiny.  

Harness the thought of lost opportunity and living a life beneath your potential to fuel your steps, because it helps you focus on what Can Be, instead of where you are and the possibility of not achieving it.  You would have never envisioned it, if God was not going to prepare you and provide the provision to make it come to pass.  

I have always dreamed of doing what I am doing now, just not in the environment that God chose to use me.  Do not limit your future because it does not align with what you desire.  Allow God room to move and He will bless you beyond what you can ask or think.  

What you have may be good, but remember that there is always a such thing as better. 

Welcome…I have walked into Victory and my life has not been the same!  #GodsWill

– Original Mentor OriginalMentor.com

“Being truly blessed is having things that money can not buy.”  Pastor Smokie Norful. #Hope




I Waited For You (www.p4cm.com)

Click the link above to see a great example of a man seeing through the layers of heart and pain.  An exampLe of a man, who heard her cries instead of her insults.  An example of a man, whose spirit connected in a way that felt better than the physical.  This is an example of a man, who was strong enough to love her unconditionally by remaining secure in who God made him to be.  

This is an example of a man who patiently waited for the women of his dreams to heal, grow, and become what and who he needed to share in this journey called life.

I pray that God covers their marriage and allows them to be a shining example of what marriage should be.  Marriage truly is bliss when we find the right person and not settle for the one who made us feel good but was not good for us.  

I could not resist sharing this video on my blog, because I am sure that so many can relate and be encouraged by their testimony.  

He or she is worth the wait.


Broken Heart Mended

A couple days ago, I posted a really simple question on Facebook, “How can I pray for you?”  Because of the number of responses, I have had the honor of speaking to and praying for many individuals and couples over the past couple days.  In each instance when I have had the opportunity to speak with both parties a consistent theme has emerged.

The contention within their relationships has to do with what they expect from their mate, but the focus tends to be on what they are NOT getting, instead of what they expect.

When you focus all of your attention on the problem, the conversations (or arguments) are one track and you will typically spend all of the time and energy trying to prove that you are right or why they are wrong.  However, when both of you ask a different question, “What would you like to happen?” now you become solution oriented and it shifts the conversation toward achieving a win / win situation.

Many of these couples are so close to relationship bliss, but they are all focused on what is not happening (the problem) instead of what they would like to happen (the solution).  They both are “complaining” about the same things, but missing that they both also want the same thing but are simply disagreeing about HOW to get there.  When focusing on what you would like to see in your relationship, you discover what makes the other person happy instead of becoming frustrated about all that you do that they never seem to appreciate.

Imagine this...You are really hungry, so you decide to go to your favorite take out restaurant.  The customer service was incredible!  They really went above and beyond.  Actually, it was crowded, but because you are a regular, they made your order and pulled you to the side so that you did not have to wait…Royal Treatment! You hurry home, get comfortable and sit at the table to eat, but realize that they got your order all wrong.  They gave you extra of the stuff you said minus and minus the items you really like!  How would that make you feel?  When you complained to the manager, they replied, but we gave you special treatment, isn’t that enough?  

Relationships are very similar.  When you do not take the time to understand a persons needs, wants, and desires, it does not matter that you are their favorite and that they treated you special.  If you are not providing what they need and want they will not be fulfilled and will continue to be hungry for something more.  Some may settle and just eat what they are given, but others will complain to the manager.  If the “manager” (you) does not try to fix their order and only tells the customer what they should have done differently so that they did not make the mistake, eventually, the customer will start eating at another “restaurant”.

Below are four ways to become more focused on putting the pieces back together in your relationship, rather than focusing on why it is broken to begin with.

4 Ways to Put The Pieces Back Together

  1. Recognize Your Part | NO MATTER the circumstance, there is typically something that you could have done differently.  Your actions may not have been the direct cause, however your lack of action or attitude could have planted the seed that caused a reaction. Without humility, it will be difficult to find a win / win solution because one will feel that the other owes them something more.
  2. Describe Desired Outcome | Do you even know what you want?  If you do not know what you want, you will not be able to recognize it when you receive it.  Setting proper expectations is vital to the success of any relationship, because it puts you on one accord.  Write them down!  Refer back to them.  This prevents miscommunication later in the relationship.
  3. Share Past Success | If your mate is currently doing something that you would like them to continue, share it!  “I like it when you…” is a great way to begin the sentence. Encouraging your mate reinforces what you like, which shifts your focus from what they are not doing.  Change your habits, change your life.  This will not happen overnight.  Have patience.
  4. New Habits | Going forward, do not point out what they are NOT doing, only reinforce what you like.  If you find that they are not meeting your needs or providing what you agreed to, bring the list that you wrote (step 2) and use it as a reminder.  Set a time during the week when you can check in.  Remember, do not talk about the negative, repeat step 3 and clarify how it makes you feel when you receive what is on your list.

Do not allow HOW you get to your desired outcome(s) to be the reason you never get there. There are many roads to the same destination.  Some may take longer than the others, but just relax and enjoy the journey with the person you claim to love.  If it takes longer, rejoice in the fact that you got to spend more time with them.  Make the most of the time instead of complaining about the journey.  If you arrive and do not like the person you are there with, you both will be ready to go home anyway.  Then, it all was just a waste of time. #Figuratively  #Litterally

Some may think that this post is cheesy!  Perhaps, but if you are striving to be in a happy, long-lasting relationship (or marriage), it will take a little queso to spice up your life every now and then.


This amazing video from Pastor Smokie Norful got me thinking about how difficult it is to describe LOVE?  Is it a feeling, an action, a state of being, or all of the above? If you met someone who did not know what LOVE is and you had the task of explaining it, how would you?  I believe it is difficult to describe, for most people, because they have never really experienced it (not referring to those in this video).

1 John 4:7-12 7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

Here is my questions…given the above scripture, Is it possible to, TRULY, love if you do not believe in or know God?

I have asked this question in the past and it has caused quite a stir.  I am not passing judgement.  I am not qualified, nor do I have a heaven or a hell to send anyone to.  I am simply asking a question.

The bible is very clear that God is “LOVE“.  The bible is my truth.  If God is love and you do not know or believe in Him, is what you express really LOVE?

Let’s say you have never met a specific person and you have never had a conversation with them.  However, someone tells you basic characteristics about them and even gives you a description of what they look like, act like, value, etc. At this point you could tell others about them, describe them, and possibly even act like them without knowing who they are. Those who do not know them might believe that you knew them, when you are really acting off of what you were told.  Only the people who actually know that person and who have a relationship with that person could determine if you really know them.

I believe LOVE is the same way.  If you have never actually experienced LOVE for yourself, someone could describe LOVE and tell you what it looks like, feels like, and why you should want it.  You could, then, tell others about LOVE, based on someone elses experience with LOVE without ever having experienced LOVE for yourself.

I believe God is the same way.  If you have never actually experienced God for yourself, someone could describe God and tell you what He looks like, feels like, and why you should want Him.  You could, then, tell others about God, based on someone elses experience with God, without ever having experienced God for yourself.

I believe that the world is full of people living vicariously through others experience of LOVE, who may not have actually had an encounter with the one who is LOVE.  Therefore, we have distorted God’s true essence of how to LOVE one another and created our own version of LOVE, that has conditions.  We are even made to believe that everyone can LOVE differently, when we were provided a model of what LOVE is supposed to look like.  Have we conformed.

What are your thoughts?

Love is…

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.

If God is Love, then God is…

God is patient, God is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 God never fails.

Agree or Disagee?


Its Your Story Too My wife has always inspired me to be better.  She has an internal drive that causes her to get bored very quickly if she is not being challenged. Before we got married, she talked about how Jesus had impacted her life.  I had heard of Him and even heard others talk about Him when, but in hindsight, I had never met Him for myself.  I decided to attend the church that she frequented and it changed my eternity. Early on in our marriage, she decided to pursue a Master’s degree.  That meant that I would not have home cooked meals on nights that she had class, but that was a sacrifice required for her to accomplish her goal.  As I sat by and watched her study, I realized the importance of growing together, so I decided to pursue a Master’s degree as well. (Fast forward about 8 or 9 years)

About 2 years ago, we were talking about our 2014 Family Vision Plan.  We were discussing what made us happy.  After I shared my list, I realized how sad it made her.  She had been in a little slump that was uncommon for her.  During our conversation, she made a statement that kinda rocked me at my core.  I paraphrase, “I feel like there is more! I do not even have a hobby right now! Event Planning is what I love to do and where I find my joy.”  I decided that I would do all that I could to help her get her groove back!  We signed her up for classes, set aside money in the budget to purchase event decor items for her to practice, and we took the proper steps to relaunch her event business.

Fellas…the theme above is clear.  I made a decision to change, to improve, to support her.  It is difficult, if not impossible, to make a decision to support your wife while thinking about the negative impact it will have on you.  Each decision above meant that I was going to have to sacrifice my current way of being, thought process, habits, hobbies, comfort, and time to ensure that she is properly supported.

“Happy wife happy life.” is so cliche, but so true when you dig deeper.  It is not just about making her happy, but positioning her to be the best she can be; which will benefit you as well. Ladies…balance is still important.  In the course of becoming, you can not completely neglect your role.  Be sure to support and continue to encourage him in the process.  If you both are meeting the needs of each other, no one will feel neglected. The two of you should have fun building together.

An “EMPIRE” is defined as “a very large business or group of businesses under the control of one person or company. Think of your family as the owners of an empire that you all are building together.  It is not hers and yours, but ours!  Her successes are your successes. Success does not mean who makes the most money.  Money may be a need, but should not be the driving force.  When you are seeking to discover your true passions, using your God-given gifts, with proper motives, everything will fall into place (Proverbs 18:16 & Matthew 6:33).

Below are some tips I have used to support my wife.  I hope they help:

1.  Don’t Be a Dream Killer

  • You may be very successful in your field and matriculated at the finest institutions, but there is more than one road to success.  Just because your road may seem shorter, does not mean that there are not benefits to traveling a route that may take a little longer or even cost a little more.  Be a mentor, but allow for mistakes without, ” I told you so.(Proverbs 15:1)

2. They Have Dreams Too

  • Dismissing her wants, dreams, and desires is a sure way for you all to grow apart.  Security may come because you are a provider, but that cannot replace the feeling of fulfilling a purpose.  Imagine how they may feel about you helping everyone else become prosperous, but you are not willing to take the time to help them.  Their success is yours too.  You are building an “empire”! (1Timothy 5:8)

3. Give a Little, Take a Little #Compromise

  • I know you travel and have important meetings so that you can continue to provide.  However, just like you put your family on hold for work, there has to be a consistent time where your colleagues are put on hold for family.  Balance is important.  What is MOST important? It has to be more than just words.  With proper planning, anything is possible. (Philippians 2:3)

4. Don’t Sabotage Their Success

  • Remember…their success is your success.  If you have the type of marriage that lifelike roommates and separate everything, fix that first.  When you married you became ONE!  A house divided against itself cannot stand.  When one is jealous of the success of the other, it is a sure sign that you are not operating as one.  If you feel like they are doing more, then DECIDE to do more to support them so that it becomes “ours”.
  • WARNING:  Do not decide to start your own business just because they did.  It cost time, money, and effort to run one business.  Timing is important.  This is still a form of sabotage, disguised as ambition.  Check your motives or you will destroy your own Empire. (Matthew 6:1-18)

5. Be Patient

  • Rome was not built in a day, neither will your empire.  Despise not humble beginnings (Job 8:7).  Building a strong foundation will ensure that what you build will be around for your generations.  After all, the goal is not only to be rich but to build wealth.  Wealth encompasses far more than the amount of money you have.  You will face trials and setbacks, but there is no failure in a lesson learned.  In the end, you will be mature, complete and lacking nothing (James 1:2-8)

married, Eugene Gatewood, Original Mentor, LaTanya Gatewood, Victory Cathedral Young Adults, Couples, Love, Marriage,

Last night my wife and I were honored to be asked to be apart of a panel for the young adults, at Victory Cathedral Worship Center, who shared their thoughts about marriage.  We have been together for 20 years (in December 2015), married for 13 years (September 2015), and it has been a joy.  Joy…not perfect.  We have had our ups and downs, but we have worked very hard to make it this long.

The facilitator asked the panel several questions.  We could have talked forever, but we did not want to be selfish and monopolize the discussion. 🙂 After all, there was another panelist couple who have been married for 39 years!  We needed some of their wisdom too!

Below we have included the questions and our answers from last night (not verbatim, but generally).  We are turning 40 this year, so our memory doesn’t always go back that far.  Ha!  We both did not respond to every question, but we have added some comments to, hopefully, give a little more guidance.  Lastly, we even got the remaining Twitter questions and answered those as well.

We are not experts, just sharing what has worked for us.  We pray that it helps someone.


1. Based on your spouse personality, what nickname would you give them?

LaTanya: The Principal: He is always giving people “a talk”. No one wants the Principle to know, but always ends up in “his office” when they need to “get right.” 

Eugene: If I am the Principle, then she is “The Counselor” they go to her office first and she refers them over here to me.  We just thank God that He has blessed us to share what we can and that people trust the God in us to come.

  • Tip: Lighten up!  Pet names are fun.  They make a relationship personal to the two of you.

2. What role did faith play before you got married? 

LaTanya: I always knew the Lord, he was a heathen! (well…maybe she did not say it quite like that). LOL   I would invite him to church, but…?

Eugene: Last Night I did not respond, but I will give my perspective.  I have always believed in God but did not have a relationship with Him.  However, I was never averse to church and did not oppose her going.  I just did not go.  I went a few times in college, but it was not until after college that I began to go to the same church she attended.  I was baptized as a little boy, but this is when I say I was Saved “for real”.  I understood what it meant to be saved and my relationship began to grow

  • Tip:  Wait and see!  Do not force them to go to church.  They must want a relationship with God, which is different from simply attending church.  That is not something you can make people do.  God does not even force us to have a relationship with Him, so why would you think you could force it?  LaTanya and I were friends for more than a year before we got into a relationship, then together for 7 years before we got married.  She took the time to watch my personal growth and development but stayed true to her faith.  Her relationship with God encouraged me to want to have one as well.  She never forced the issue, simply encouraged it.  I had to want it for myself and not just do it because she wanted me too.

3. How did you know that they were the ONE?

Eugene: On one of our first dates we spent the entire day together.  We did breakfast, then a movie, lunch, then Go Cart Racing, Dinner, then Arcade.  It was a good day.  The next morning, I called and asked her what she was doing and if she wanted to hang out again.  That was “different” for me.  If I had just spent the entire day with you before, I typically did not want to talk to you for a couple days (stop judging me, I been Delivert!).

LaTanya: “Just Look at him!”  LOL (Just Kidding…she did not respond to this question, because her answer was the same).

  • Tip: Wait and see. Stopping telling them what you are looking for in a mate on the first couple dates.  Simply wait to see who they are.  When you tell them too soon, sometimes, they try to become a representation of what you want instead of being who they are.  You will typically know that someone is worth keeping around when they genuinely care about your well being and best interest, above their own.  It takes time to determine that.
  • Quick Story…The summer before my 3rd year of college, I had a tuition bill from the previous semester that I had to pay before I could register.  I worked and saved thousands, but was short a couple hundred dollars.  I asked everyone, but resolved I was going to have to sit out a semester and come back a semester late.  When she came to my house later that day she handed me the balance I needed to pay my bill.  I never asked her, but she cared enough to make sure I was going to stay in school.  #SheHadMeAtGoPayYoTuition (Jerry Maguire Reference)

4. How has marriage impacted your relationship with your family?  Did they have a role in picking?

LaTanya: My family LOVES him and always has.  There was a period of time where we broke up and my mother called me and said: “What did you do?” #WTW I think that if we would have broken up they would have disowned me.

Eugene: Our family dynamic is amazing.  My family and her family, my friends and her friends, all come together for the holidays.  It is great because we do not have to really choose where to go.  My mom and her mom talk independent of us.  It is really great.

  • Tips: Wait and See…Family dynamics matter, but should not be the determining factor.  You chose your spouse, not them.  However, you do need to consider the influence that your spouses family has on their decisions.  LaTanya and I are both only children from families where our moms raised us.  However, both of our mothers respect our marriage and have never imposed their views on our marriage or parenting styles.

5. How do you make time for each other to keep the passion in the relationship?

Eugene: Funny thing…when I worked in Corp America, I was home for dinner every night. Now, not so much.  We are intentional about setting aside time and doing things together as a family.  One summer we decided to only do NEW things.  We made a list and tried all new experiences for us and our son.  We also made a bucket list this summer, posted it on the refrigerator and checked things off as we do them.

  • Tip:  Marriage is what you make it.  Be Intentional!  You can succumb to the routine of the rat race, or you can step outside of the daily routine and try different things.  Trying new things exposes you to new people and sparks new conversation.  It does not cost money to make memories!  One summer, when money was tough, we challenged ourselves to find FREE things for the family.  Our summer was FULL!  So much so, that our son still asks to this day, “What are we doing fun this weekend!”

6. How do you handle money?

LaTanya: We have always talked about money. We just had two different views.  I was taught to save, he was taught to spend. But we have never allowed money to become a hindrance in our relationship.  Money has not always been good, but we talk about it.  We have a budget.  I HATE THE SPREADSHEET! But it works!  He provides me with a version that I can read without all of the formulas and color coding.

Eugene: My money is her money.  Her money is my money.  We are one.  A house divided against itself can not stand.  We have multiple accounts, but we have access to all accounts.  The various accounts are simply to help us budget.  All bills come out of one account, Gas and Groceries come from another, then spending from another.

  • Tip:  You are not roommates.  Roommates split bills not married couples.  Genesis 2:24 says that they shall become ONE flesh.  You cannot get married and still keep principles and practices of single people. Once LaTanya and I became engaged, we began to operate as ONE.  We shared one another’s credit reports, bank accounts, investment accounts, etc. We had nothing to hide.  If you go into the marriage avoiding the subject of money and not setting the proper expectations, you will continue to operate independently of one another, thus not being as effective as you could be as a unit.

7. How do you feel about living together before marriage?

LaTanya:  “We are not perfect. We meet in college and I will just leave it at that. Even after college, he had his own place.  I spent the night at his place.  He said it was ok for me to leave items there, but I did not want him to get too comfortable, “playing house.”  I always felt so convicted when I stayed because I knew it was not right.  I did not want him to think that I did not like him, but my spirit was so unsettled.  Recently, he even apologized for having me compromise my faith.

Eugene: The Bible says, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” It also says, “shun the appearance of evil.”  I know this now but was not mature in my faith back then.  I now realize the pressure I put on her and I regret it.  We did not live together before we got married, but we still were not perfect.

  • Tip: I have witnessed the effects of sex before marriage and living together before marriage.  I believe that the break down of the family structure begins when people make the wrong decision about who they are with.  Then, before they realize it or correct decision, they begin to do things that the Bible reserves for married people; which further complicates matters.  Having a child with someone who you were not supposed to be with and can not even get along with, causes the cycle of dysfunction to repeat itself (Wrote a blog about it…wanna read it, here it goes) CLICK HERE “You Picked Em!”

Additional Twitter Questions

1. For saved and single, what is some advice you have on entertaining the right person?

  • Avoid the Representative | The “representative” is the person who people become, to get you to like them.  To prevent a person from bringing their “representative” on every date, delay telling them what you like in a mate.  Instead, ask them who they are?  If you tell them what you like, up front, then ask them who they are, it is easier for them to adjust based on what you said; thus the representative is born.
  • Be Yourself | On the other hand, it is so much easier to be who God created you to be.  It is easy to answer questions, it is easy to meet family and friends because there is no pressure.  You are not “trying” to make people like you.  Either they will or they won’t.  Worst case, if you all figure out that you are not compatible after the first date, it saves you time, money, and heartache.

2. Is it wise for people in relationships to hang out with single friends?

  • Well… Generally speaking, the answer is no.  Single people and married people have different motives and hang out spots.  It does not mean that a married person would succumb to the temptations presented while with single friends, but the probability increases each time the married person is exposed to “temptations.”
  • …It Depends | Depends on what?  The type of friends that you have.  If you have friends that respect the sanctity of marriage and your best interest, they are more likely to change what they do and say around you.  They are more likely to ensure that you are not being placed in or around the things that enticed you in the past.  But there is always that ONE friend…LOL  JK!  Prayerfully you have friends who are all traveling on the same path, but some reach their destination sooner than others.  If they are your true friend, they would not try to run you off the road, simply because you got in the car with someone else.

3. What is the best part about being married?

  • Companionship | Life is hard.  It is great to have someone on your side who will be there with you no matter what! A Companion is defined as “one of a pair of things that intended to complement or match each other (A.K.A. Friendship).  When you take the time to match up with the right person, you have two healthy, whole individuals coming together who fills the void for one another.  Not complete one another, but where I am weak, she is strong and visa versa.  His or Her strength does not compromise who you are or what you mean to the relationship.  When rough times come, you have a person you can lock arms with and know that for better or worse, richer or poorer, sickness or in health…WE got this.

Throughout this blog, we have stressed “wait and see” so much, because if you link up with a person who only wants you because of your Better, Richer, and Healthy; where will they be when the other happens? Allow them to stay around long enough to see both sides.  In those low moments, If they care more about you than themselves and are willing to compromise to fill that void, you have the right one.


You Are More Than What They See

OK…I will get straight to the point.  Parenting is only a “role”, NOT who YOU are.  Do not lose yourself trying to help someone else discover who they are, even if they are your children.  This is easier said than done.  We are only 3 sentences in and you have already quoted or remembered advise that someone told you before your first one was born.  “Make time for yourself!”  But in reality, with all of the demands (task) that others place on our schedule, we feel an overwhelming burden to make sure that everyone else’s needs are taken care of that we forget that we have needs, wants, and desires of our own.

Parenting is only a Role

The above image (courtesy of www.rebirthofreason.com) is a great depiction of our lives.  It is easy to become consumed with the many tasks associated with the various roles that we lose who we are. Parenting is no different.

Before becoming a husband or wife, a mother or father, a professional or tradesman, I was (Insert your name here).  You never ceased being (Insert your name here) when you took on these roles.  These roles simply meant that you have new responsibilities and tasks associated with who you are, but they should not redefine who you are.

The Danger in the Chaos

You can not delegate the responsibilities of being (Insert your name here) to anyone else.  Therefore, if you do not make the time to remember, discover, and cultivate (Insert your name here), you may wake up tomorrow, or even worse…years from now, wondering where all of the time has gone.  You may even resent the roles, task, responsibilities and the people associated with each because you now realize that it was all for them and not you.

The Battle Within

Selfish, huh? NOPE!  Maybe from their perspective, but not when you have neglected other God-given assignments, passions, dreams that have been lying dormant inside of you because of your focus on all of the other “stuff!”

When kids move out, some parents realize they have lost their sense of self and for others their marriages fall apart because a disproportionate amount of time, talent, and treasure was spent on one role (name your role/task here) than on others (husband/wife or name your role/task here).

Parenting is a role that lasts a lifetime, but should be redefined as your children reach various milestones.  I believe some parents enable their kids, self consciously or purposely, so that they do not leave the home at 18.  This allows them to continue being a parent and not face the reality of it only being a role.

Digging for Treasure (Discover & Cultivate You)

There is a treasure, a passion, a calling that was hidden inside of you at conception (2 Corinthians 4:6-7 KJV).  When we were kids, our self conscience allowed us to live in that place for hours at a time, imagining (visioning) what life would be like when we were older. To cultivate something is to prepare and develop it for a greater use.  We must put down all of the tasks, even the ones that we feel are most important and even define who we are, to discover and cultivate our true sense of self.

When you know who you are, I would venture to say that you will preform your tasks at an even higher level of excellence, because they will be wrapped in the true essence of who you are.

So…Tell Me About (Insert your name here)

I just love that interview question, “Tell me about yourself.” Even when meeting someone for the first time, we define ourselves by the “role(s)” we value most. “Hi…I’m a Doctor, a Lawyer, Stay-at-home Mom/Dad.”

Why don’t we say “Hi, I’m a Christian, an optimistic, adventurous, generous, caring creative, resilient, hard worker, etc. These descriptions actually give a glimpse into who you are and how you handle the various roles, task, and responsibilities assigned to you.

Start TODAY!!!

Below are a few steps that you can take TODAY to discover and cultivate the true YOU!

  1. Find Quiet Time. Find at least 30mins a day, when you do nothing but sit in silence.  I know..30mins seems too good to be true.  Start with 5 mins, then work your way up.  I hear you, I need more time! MAKE THE TIME!  Delegate some of those other tasks and responsibilities. This is important to your mental and physical health and well-being. Remember, quiet time.  Not reading a book or browsing social media.  Complete silence.
  2. Find Your Frequency: Drown out the noise, so that you can hear what is going on inside of you.  Your brain will be used to being overstimulated, thinking about what you should be and could be doing.  Relax!  Give it time.  This is kinda like a finding the frequency to your favorite radio station.  It is always on air, but it is up to you to “tune in” to the proper frequency to hear what is being said.  Give it time.
  3. Write YOUR Vision: But Not Yet!  You must take the time to retrain your mind on how to drown out the noise so that you can hear clearly.  After a couple weeks, your true self will continue to speak.  Do not worry about forgetting what you thought about.  If it is really who you are and not just another good idea for someone else’s benefit, it will come to your again.  Listen for patterns and themes of thought.
  4. Cultivate: After you have written down who you are, begin to take the steps required to prepare and develop YOU!  This is a journey, not a destination.  When you are tuned in, you will continuously discover ways to become the YOU you were born to be.

TheOriginalMentor