Posts Tagged ‘love’


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 away 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 what 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 explained 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

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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?


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 don’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 quit 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 baptised 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 chose 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 respects 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 ask 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 hinderance 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 anothers 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 to 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 they break down of 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 hangout 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 elses.

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.


Valentine’s Day is approaching…so I wanted to remind you that (You Are) Worth The Wait.  Do not give in to the societal pressures that tell you that you need someone to love or love you because of a date on the calendar.

(You Are) Worth The Wait.  

Most may feel that I am talking to women, but men…boys…fellas, you are worth so much more than you can even image, because ONE late night decision can not only impact your destiny, but the potential of many generations to come.

(You Are) Worth The Wait.  

Worth is a price tag, typically, given based on who designed the thing.  The value is increased based on the notoriety, acclaim, or how accomplished the creator was.  If Michelangelo were alive to sculpt just one more masterpiece, I am sure every appraiser would deem it priceless. If he can create something priceless, how much more value do you have, because the one who made him sculpted you and breathe life into your very being; making Him the ultimate creator.  You are fearfully and wonderfully made.

(You Are) Worth The Wait.  


 


fresh-prince-00-jpgbrady bunchleave-it-to-beaver-family

CS-cosby-castLittle House on the Prairie


The Picture Perfect F.A.M.I.L.Y.

Many of us grew up watching one of the above T.V. shows and imagined what our families would look like.  In our minds we saw the Picture Perfect F.A.M.I.L.Y., but no one explained that it would take lots of hard work to build it.  It is unfortunate (and quite scary actually) that the image of family that is currently portrayed looks quite different from when the above shows were airing on television.

Some would argue that times have changed and that my views are a bit old fashion.  They would argue that the values from the family in the black and white picture are no longer realistic.  I believe that it is not a reality only because we do not do what is required to build ourselves, thus not being the examples that are necessary to build what we saw on TV.

This weekend my family and I went to St. Pauls, North Carolina.  It is a small town outside of Fayetteville, NC.  The area was so remote that cell phone towers could not provide signal.  I observed 3-4 generations talking, laughing, loving, playing, and braking bread with one another. I listened to stories of family traditions being passed down and lessons being taught by simply spending time together.

This experience made me reflect on what is needed to build a healthy and whole F.A.M.I.L.Y. with traditions that last beyond 4-5 generations.  The love, values, and positive energy that permeated the weekend was refreshing, peaceful, and yet stimulating to my heart and imagination.

What would it take for more families to live in the unity that I experienced this 4th of July weekend?  I have used F.A.M.I.L.Y. as an acronym to describe what I think it takes to build the “picture perfect” F.A.M.I.L.Y..  The dynamics of your family does not matter.  You can be married, single, parents, or empty nesters…building a family that will last generations transcends whatever we view a typical household to look like. 

FUNCTION

  • To have a picture perfect family you must start with setting clear expectations.  What do you value?  What are the rules of the house (nice to haves…clean room daily, etc.)?  What are the laws of the house (must haves…no lying, etc.)? Write them down. Everyone in the family / household has a role and should have duties assigned accordingly. If a person is a member of the household and does not know and understand their role, thus not performing their assigned duties, they become dysfunctional. Roles may be outside of the home (i.e. If you don’t WORK, you don’t eat). A family must ensure that all parts or members of the household are in good working condition and understand how each part / member work together to make up the whole. This must begin early!  When members of the household understand their function early on and how it impacts the whole, I believe, they are less likely deviate to far from their role.  This is not to say that they will never stray. Standard “maintenance” is always required to make sure that all parts are in good working condition. 
  • Action: This is a proactive step that must be taken.  Assess your household to ensure that every member is functional.  Post the laws and rules.  Assign numbers to them so that they are easily referenced. Ensure that every member understands their role and that they know how to perform the duties associated with their role.  Once expectations are set, each member must take ownership and proactively carry out the duties assigned to them.  When any new members are added to the household, initiate this step, so that expectations are clear.  All members of the household should be present.

AFFINITY

  • To have affinity, is to have a natural liking for someone.  It is very difficult to be on the same team with someone and not like them.  Your household is a team!  Affinity should magnetically draw you closer to one another.  Affinity comes through building a relationship. Good communication is vital. Actively listen and follow through on what you heard to prove that you heard them and understand. Getting an understanding of likes and dislikes and catering to one anothers needs is a great way to build an affinity for one another. Everyone may not be the same and that is ok, but having mutual respect for one anothers differences allows each person to be an individual.  When this happens, a friendship is created and you genuinely “like” each other.
  • Action: Make a list of your likes vs. dislikes.  It could be items that you currently do or things that you would like to do in the future (or stop doing).  Compare the list to see what you have in common.  Do those things regularly!  However, each of you must make it a habit of picking an item on each others list that you dislike and DO IT REGULARLY!  Have Fun Doing It!  Enjoy the fact that they are happy and that you are spending time with them. Stop focusing on you and focus on them.  They will appreciate you more and your affinity for one another will grow.

MATURE

  • “Anything that does not grow is either dead, dying, or artificial.” Pastor E.N. Jennings.  We should want all members of our household to not only be alive, but to be lively and well.  To be well is to thrive.  We must influence and challenge the people in our households to realize their dreams by discovering the gifts and passions that are locked inside of them. Imagine living in a household where everyone understands their purpose and is living it! The thought alone is EXCITING!!!  If we want our F.A.M.I.L.Y. to function at its highest capacity, we must be intentional about helping each member mature into who they were born to become.  Never mistake getting older as maturity.  There is a big difference.
  • Action: Observe!  What are they naturally good at?  What are they passionate about? What irritates you or members of your household to the point where they must go help fix it? Harness that  energy and perfect the gifts required for that area.  Exposure!  Try new things!  Read books together!  Grow together!

INTEGRITY

  • Accountability is required within the household.  You have to build an environment of trust and honesty where members feel comfortable to tell you anything. Parents…this means that you must consider your response to every situation that your kids share.  If you “go off” and not handle a situation well, it can potentially close the door for them to ever confide in you again.  I am not saying that there should not be consequences, but they should understand that it is better to come to you and talk it though than to hide it and potentially making it worse.  Same goes for husband / wives and even roommates.  Who we are when no one else is looking, if bad, has the potential to negatively impact everyone in the household.  Therefore, this gives them the right to know and hold you accountable for what you struggle with. 
  • Action: Discuss the importance of confidentiality in your household.  Explain the consequences of breaking trust within this inner circle.  Next, confide in one another.  Share what your struggles are.  This could be difficult, especially if what you share is new to them. I encourage none of you to focus on the fact that this may be your first time hearing about it. They trusted you enough to share.  Now devise a plan for holding one another accountable. Perhaps, each of you can share on a piece of paper and exchange them at the same time (I pray that your list is not too long).  🙂 When we share with others, we become vulnerable, this begins the healing process.  Perhaps professional assistance may be required to help you get through this, but whatever it takes.  Deal with it!

LOVE

  • Love is patient.  Love is kind. Love does not envy. Love does not boast. Love is not proud. Love does not dishonor others. Love is not self-seeking. Love is not easily-angered.  Love keeps no record of wrong. Love does not delight in evil.  Love rejoices with the truth.  Love ALWAYS protects. Love ALWAYS trust. Love ALWAYS hopes. Love ALWAYS perseveres. Love Rules!  The love that you share for the people within your household should be unconditional.  When YOU follow what is listed above it significantly increases the likelihood of you building a healthy and whole family.  This does not mean that there will not be natural consequences for members who break the family covenant that is established (or being created).  Love causes individuals to heal and become whole.
  • Action: There is no question that you love the people within your household.  We may not always like them, but loving them is usually natural.  However, love is an action. Review and reflect on all of the elements of love that are listed above. Be honest with yourself about the areas that you struggle to adhere to on a regular basis.  Ask yourself, why is it so hard to follow?  Have a family meeting and discuss each element of love and agree to follow EVERY one of them.  This may take more than one meeting.  Be open and honest about why it will be difficult to follow.  Hold one another accountable for areas that they may not be able to for themselves.  

YOU 

  • By the way…there is no such thing as a “picture perfect” F.A..M.I.L.Y..  A F.A.M.I.L.Y. is made up of flawed individuals.  Therefore, the only way to improve a F.A.M.I.LY. is to improve the individuals that make up the F.A.M.I.L.Y..  Once you have healthy and whole individuals, within a household, you can then and only then, have a healthy and whole F.A.M.I.L.Y.
  • Action: “I’m starting with the man in the mirror.  I’m asking him to change his ways….If YOU want to make the world (or your household) a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change!”  Michael Jackson’s words are so powerful.  We often point the finger in every other diffection.  It is funny that pride can never see itself in the mirror.  It is most difficult to see the role that YOU play in the dysfunction of your family. It starts with YOU.  You have to want to improve your family and be willing to accept what you will discover while doing introspection as well as what others will bring to your attention.  Until you are willing to face your currently situation, you will never be able to fix it.  Hold yourself accountable to following what is outlined.  Make sure that you review the F.A.M.I.L.Y. covenant that is establish and devise a self improvement plan.  

Let’s Create a New Normal…SHARE THIS BLOG!

The current mainstream image of family is flawed and is not an accurate depiction of what many of us experience everyday.  Media simply possess the cameras and distribution power to influence us by bringing their version of “family” into our households and call it Reality TV.  THAT IS NOT MY REALITY!  

YOU have to power to make a RULE, better yet, a LAW against anything that will negatively influence the type of household that you have established.  

I know I am not the only one that enjoyed the peace, joy, and love from our family.  Let’s share what we experience so that others will know that this can become their NEW NORMAL.  It is possible to have a family affair without drama, fussing, and fighting.  

I may have missed some key components, or perhaps you would like to add to what I have written Either way, share this blog and post your comments.  Someone elses life and peace may depend on it. 


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The reality is…You Picked ‘Em!  I am not playing the blame game, but responsibility has to be taken by all parties.  Often times we forget that we had a choice in the matter when we are far removed from that initial choice.  Yeah that’s right, You Picked ‘Em!  Months, years, (sometimes only days) and 2 or 3 kids later, we agonize over the consequences and hurt that we are now experiencing, even pointed to him or her as the source of that pain, while not accepting the fact that we recognized, but ignored all of the signs.  In most cases they were not even signs, it was blatant, audible, visual billboards that told us to Stop! Don’t Pass Go, or give them that $200, cause you will regret it.

Why do we press on in spite of???  We tell ourselves or are pressured by our peers saying, “I’m just having fun” or “You only live once” or “I’m still young” “Live a little” or “He’s so cute” or “Look at her body” without us really considering the consequences or thinking about how a single decision today can forever change our tomorrow.

I have counseled and coached young men and women that I mentor as well as my friends on this “relationship cycle” that I feel is the culprit responsible for the demise of stable family structure.  When it comes to relationships, people (young and old) are making short term decisions that have long term affects on the family structure that they truly want and dream of having. They are sleeping with people who they do not even like and in their hearts have no chance or true desire of ever living happily ever after with.

I am not perfect. It is only because of God’s grace and mercy that I did not experience some of the long term consequences for choices that I made.  Therefore, I feel obligated and a sense of responsibility to share what I was delivered and spared from (now back to our scheduled program).

Below I have listed what I believe are the proper phases to having a long and prosperous marriage.  THERE ARE EXCEPTIONS! However, I believe those exceptions only happened because the people in those relationships were wise and discipline enough to do two of the phases simultaneously.

I strongly believe that if these phases are not followed in succession, it increases the chances of a dysfunctional relationship and parents who are not positioned to model the type of parental partnership that enables the child(ren) to reach their maximum potential. Perhaps unintentionally, they then plant seeds of discord in their children, which causes that cycle of dysfunctional to continue.  Again….there are always exceptions (I am one).

Phase #1: The Friend Zone

The “F” word is quite scary to some people, but I think that it is THE reason why marriages succeeds or fails.  In my experience, when people have gotten a divorce and you ask them if they still love the other person, I believe the majority of the time you would hear a resounding YES.  However, to coexist with someone, for your entire life, I believe you must be their friend.

Being a friend means that you like someone, you enjoy being around them. A true friend is honest, a good listener, is respectful, encourages you to be and do your best, is caring, is forgiving, is trustworthy, is loyal, is patient, is supportive, is fun…I can go on.

I know some of you believe in love at first sight and have actually experienced it (I think it is more like Lust at first sight)  However, if you progress to the next step without exploring and finding out if that person knows what a friend is and is capable of being one to you, it threatens the longevity of your relationship.  Remember, it takes time and situations to discover if a person truly has a quality.  You will not know simply by them saying it.

Homework:

  1. List the qualities that you deem most important for a friend to have.
  2. Highlight the qualities that are non-negotiable and do not compromise on those (you will have to compromise somewhere, but not on those).
  3. Set boundaries to ensure that the friend does not begin to get the benefits of phase 2 before you are sure

Phase #2: Boy/Girl Friend

“Friends with benefits” has become a very popular term.  Commitment is a scary thing for some, therefore, we walk the lines, lower expectations, and compromise who we are and what we want for the sake of getting along and fitting in.  Homework item #3 from phase #1 is soooo important.  One weak night can cause you to slip into this Boy/Girl Friend phase without you really intending to.

In reality, most of us expect the exact same qualities in this phase that we do from a friend.  However, when intimacy of any kind is introduced into a relationship EXPECTATIONS change.  PERIOD! Often times we begin to have expectations of someone without listing and coming to an agreement on those expectations.  In phase #1, if he/she did not answer the phone or call you back in a day or two, it was no big deal.  But let yo boy/girl friend not call you for a couple days…that will be an issue.  IJS!!!

PLEASE HEAR ME!!!  If you are not sure that this person is a good friend (Phase #1) and now you have violated homework item #3 of Phase #1…you have now slipped into Phase #2. If someone ask you who that person is to you, your response has become “It’s Complicated.” LOL  I know I may sound old fashion, but many of the “benefits” that we offer at this phase should be strictly reserved for Phase #3.  Why?  You INSTANTLY have expectations of that person and you know deep inside that they are not realistic or that they can never be the person that you truly want and desire.  Don’t be fooled into thinking you can change them.  Be patient.  If they will not wait….deuces!

Homework:

  1. List your expectations of a Boy/Girl Friend
  2. Ask “Friend” to list their expectations
  3. Trade list and discuss the expectations.  You can decide BEFORE making a decision to move into phase #2.
  4. Highlight the expectations that are non-negotiable and do not compromise on those (you will have to compromise somewhere, but not on those).

Phase #3: Marriage really is Bliss.

Marriage gets such a bad rap.  It is not easy, but it is not bad.  I believe 50% of marriages end in divorce because most do not follow this natural progression of a relationship.  When you mix benefits and expectations from the first two phases, it makes phase #3 that much harder and requires so much more work to be successful.

God knew what He was doing when He said wait until you are married to have sex.  Not sure if you were aware, but having sex is the cause of pregnancy (really…I read it on the internet).  Marriage is supposed to be forever.  If you have a baby with a person that you did not take the time to determine if you even liked them (a Friend) and did not establish and agree on the expectations for being in a relationship with them (boy/girl friend), how can you possibly think that you would be able to live in the same household and communicate in a way that would help develop and nurture a life long relationship (or nurture another life, if you have kids)?

I could go on about this phase, but I will not spend much time here.  If you are already at this phase and kinda skipped the first two, it is not too late.  You can still do the homework items above.  It will help open the lines of communication between you and your spouse.  Resetting expectations will be key for the two of you.  You can not meet expectations that you do not know exist.  In my opinion, most arguments originate here.  Do not assume that they know how you feel and what you expect from them.  Tell them!

Phase #4 – Parenting
Again…there are exceptions, but I believe when you procreate with someone who you are, first, their friends, then decide and grow into life long partners that love one another, you create an environment that is ripe for planting and growing a seed that is nurtured with love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, gentleness and self control. When a couple comes together who have no intentions on staying together long term and produce a child, it creates and environment for the child that could breed dysfunction. Without extra effort from the parents, the child becomes a product of the decisions that the parents made.

As time passes, the mother or father blames one another for the type of parent they are and the impact that it is having on the child(ren). Remember…you are partially to blame. YOU PICKED ‘EM!!!

If we can get the first two phases right, phase #3 and #4 will be easier to manage.  Unfortunately this phase has become commonly known as the meet my “Baby Mama or Baby Daddy” phases because the two parents can not stand to be in the same room for too long, so don’t even consider a life under one roof raising a child.  We now have men and women bashing one another for the others poor parenting skills and lack of care, covering, and support…each blaming one another.  Remember…”You Picked ‘Em.

You have the power and ability to chose and not compromise the qualities that you will bring you joy on the inside instead of short term feeling of happiness. You Picked ‘Em and set the expectations that will foster a relationship that proves that they love you, value you and will be loyal to you.  Just remember…You Picked ‘Em…as you stand tall and watch her walk down the aisle toward you or you catch his eyes as you are interlocked with the man I pray set the standard for how all men are suppose to love and respect you.

Morale of the Story

Don’t compromise! and don’t blame, because at the end of the day, you had (or still have) the power to chose.  Do Your Homework(see above)!  If you do not know what you like or expect, how do you expect to know “it” when you find it.  At least know what you “don’t” like so you know when to run in the other direction.  Again, when you do the “homework” listed above, do not compromise!  Be patient!  He or She is out there.

Girls…prepare yourself and wait for him to find you.  Check what you are using as bait, that could be the reason you are attracting those type of guys (that is a blog for another day).

Fellas…see is suppose to be your helpmate.  Make sure you have a vision and plan for your life that is worth her time and help.  Be the man you and leader that she is willing to submit to and you will never have to regret the fact that you picked her and she will never forget or have to wonder why she submitted to you.


Are you a “real” man? or are you a women trying to identify one?  Who really knows the true definition of a real man?  I have Googled it, asked friends (men and women), looked at social media post (bad idea) and I have gotten so man different answers.  “Real men cook!” “Real men take care of their kids!” “Real Men have a job!” “Real Men don’t hit ladies!”  All good points, but what if I’m not hungry or don’t have kids (yet) or looking for a job (in school), or she ran toward me with a knife (cause some are crazy…ok, still no excuse), am I not a Real Man?  I’m being funny, but most answers were a reflection of the voids of men in their past or present, but in my opinion too specific to disqualify him from who he was created to be.  

There is a difference between being a male and a man.  A “man” is a state of being that has a very broad classification and difficult to be disqualified by not having just one.  I believe that there are foundational traits of a “real” man that causes him to act and respond in a certain way no matter the environment or circumstance.  Real men have the responsibility to be the priest, providers, and protectors of their household and of all who are in it (even if it is only him).

Priest:  Not a priest in the literal since, but understanding that all things are not tangible.  Whether you are a spiritual person or not…or believer or not, know that it is real.  I do not mean to get too deep, but men must understanding that we wrestle with spiritual things and darkness in this world.  Real Men must pray against this, because it does not matter how many push-ups you do, that will never make you strong enough to protect your family against the ways of this threat.

Provider: Some men stop at providing the tangible, basic things for survival (shelter, food, clothing, money, etc), but men have a responsibility to ensure everyone in their household is provided with love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, support, comfort, (you add more), including to himself.  Many of the developmental side effects that kids have as adults is because fathers (and mothers) did not adequately provide the intangibles needed for growth.

Protector: Many men pride themselves on being prepared to protect their families (or themselves) from an ever present threat of danger lurking in nights and dark alleys.  However, they fail to be watchmen and gatekeepers of the other ones sneaking in through the friends that their kids (and wife’s) hang around, the T.V. shows they watch and the sites they search on the web.  Being a protector is about guarding against dangers seen and unseen.  Again, this includes guarding what enters his own body through his eyes and ears. 

Real men know who they were created to be, otherwise, life is only a guess.

This is only my opinion, but I read a blog from a friend that talked about the same topic.  Often times we redefine or mistreat a thing because we do not take the time to understand what the creator of that thing designed it to do or be.

FINALLY AN ANSWER…WHAT IS A REAL MAN?!?!?  Please take the time to read the below post. It provides great perspective on  

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What God Expects of Men (http://ellword.com)

The other night, my wife was watching The Wendy Williams Show and I overheard something that really caught my attention.  (Please note: I wasn’t watching the show, MY WIFE was watching!)   Iyanla Vanzant was a guest on the show and she was commenting on her show on the Oprah Network (which my wife watches sometimes while I’m in the room) called Fix My Life (or something like that).  Anyway, former NFL star Terrell Owens had been on Iyanla’s show and apparently she was trying to fix his life.  When Wendy asked what she thought was T.O.’s problem, Iyanla offered that, though T.O. had mastered the game of football, he had not mastered the art of “being a man.”  That last part reminded me that often women have opinions about the definition of a man or the question, what constitutes a real man?

This is a popular subject on social media and blogs and other platforms where people espouse their views on current issues. I’ve participated in a few of these verbal/written forums myself.  And more often than not, people speak from their own experiences and needs.  So I thought about it, and reasoned that the only way to come close to settling the question is to hear from an expert.  Of course it’s convenient to eliminate all women from this category – how can a woman be an expert on something she’s never been.  But finding a man who can really be considered an expert is tricky.  What exactly would make him an expert that can’t be said about many other men?  And how did he become an expert?  Well there’s only one way to settle this question – refer to the creator.  Because man was created by God, it only makes sense to consider God the expert on man.  He made us for a purpose – a purpose He expects us to fulfill.  So what are His expectations? 

Without being overly broad, or overly deep, I’d like you to consider 2 things that can be gleaned from the opening chapters of the Bible that implies what God expects from men.  First, God expects men to spread and cultivate His influence throughout the earth.  In Genesis 2, the Bible explains in detail God’s interaction with Adam.  Although in Genesis 1 it appears that God created plants and trees (Day 3) prior to the creation of man (Day 6), Genesis 2:5 says that the shrubs and trees had not “sprung up” yet because there was no man to cultivate the ground.  Then God makes Adam and places him in a garden “East, in Eden”.  So God placed him in a limited place on the earth and instructs him to make it grow (cultivate it) so that it  covers the earth.  My point is this.  We understand that God has placed man in the role of leaders (Gen 3:16, 1 Cor 11:3, etc.), but I think that often men miss that our position is less about leadership and more about stewardship.  We have been entrusted with the earth and all that is in it (including woman) for the purpose of making it all GROW.   As illustrated by the parable of the talents told by Jesus in Matthew 25:14-30, we have been entrusted with the responsibility of making everything around us grow and get better.  We are supposed to cultivate. 

The other thing we are supposed to do is communicate God’s will.  In Genesis 2 it is clear that God gave instructions to Adam before Eve was even formed.  So once she is presented to him, He becomes responsible for communicating to her and their expected offspring what God has already told him.  This is also apparent from Paul’s use of the relationship between Christ and the church to explain man’s responsibility to his wife in Ephesians chapter 5. He essentially says that Christ cleanses the church with the word so that he will present her to himself without blemishes.  So men are to use the Word to help his wife grow into a wife without blemish.  Man has the responsibility to communicate the Word from God.  Man has the responsibility of explaining what God expects from all of us, and how this world that God created works.  Remember, Adam named everything before Eve was formed.  So men have the responsibility to point out to those who’ve been entrusted to us what the other things are.  As our children navigate through the world, we must guide them, pointing out the dangers, and giving them insight into whats “out there”.  

Of course, men can only do this well when we stay connected to God, the creator, and hear His Word.  We can only be effective to the degree that we understand what God has said and how His world works.  And we can only do this if we stay connected to those who’ve been entrusted to us, so that we can communicate these truths to them.  This, I firmly believe, is what God expects from men.  And I sincerely believe that when we do this consistently, everything and everyone around us will grow and get better – including us.

The blog can be found at  http://ellword.com