True Confessions Of A First Time Dad: My Daughter Growled At The Babysitter

I can’t even call them babysitters.  They have become our family.

Rich, Angie, Anne, Laura, Carolyn, and Molly have become such a huge part of our family’s life that we can’t thank God enough for them.  They have loved our kids as their own and we are truly blessed to have them in our lives.

Ok, nuff mushy stuff, but it’s important. :)

A few nights ago Carolyn was watching Aniston and Easton at our house.  This was the first time we had left our little 2-month-old hand grenade with anyone, but we know Carolynn (aka Blah Blah) could handle the task.  After all Aniston LOVES her and has been around her for literally her entire life.

We came home from dinner, Carolyn said everything was awesome as usually until bed time.  She took Aniston down for her bedtime routine of pajamas, potty, teeth brushing, bedtime story, and prayers when something strange happened.  Carolyn laid out 3 options of PJ’s for Aniston to pick from, but when she told her to choose she folder her arms, glared her eyes, and started to growl…like a dog…to Blah Blah.

She regrouped and tried again, but Aniston growled again and said “I in charge.”

Never having dealt with a possessed 3 year old before she asked her if she wanted a timeout thinking that would flip the switch.   Unfortunately, instead of being crushed and apologetic Aniston said “yes” and happily went to the corner to growl a bit more.

Fortunately, “Toddler Wolf” finally snapped out of it and became sweet Aniston again.  She put on her PJ’s and went to bed singing a sweet apology song to Carolynn as she drifted off to sleep.

Ok…you can say it…I agree…that was straight up weird.

Cherie and I were so embarrassed and so apologetic to sweet Carolyn.  I hope we paid her like a billion dollars, but I can’t confirm that.  :)

After She left, we huddle up to figure out the plan of attack for our little Werewolf the next day.

I have an amazing wife and her idea was to have her make Carolynn an I’m Sorry Card and then go to her house and apologize in person.  Here is what she wrote on the card.  See if you can guess what part Aniston added.

“I’m sorry I was not a good girl last night. 

I will be a good girl the next time you come over.  

I love your crayons.  I love you.  – Beeg”

Fortunately the Beil’s still love us and I even think Carolyn will continue to share her Crayons with Aniston so all was saved!

For me it was a great reminder about how important it is to seek forgiveness sooner rather than later in a relationship.

Paul speaks of exactly that in Ephesians 4:26 when he says “In your anger do not sin.  Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”

The worst thing I see people do is sweep things under the rug or pretend something didn’t happen in hopes the hurt will be forgotten.  The reality is that as Christians we need to be initiating reconciliation early and often as a sign of spiritual growth within us.

If we are not the first to seek peace we are missing God’s direction.

Don’t let a growl turn into bark into a bite into a full on dogfight when a simple “I’m sorry” or “please forgive me” can cover a multitude of sins.

Because, believe me, if we don’t take care of things before the sun comes down that’s when the Werewolves really come out.

Ggggggrrrrrrrrrrrrrr….

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Should Jerry Sandusky Ever Be Forgiven?

I’ve been asking my self that very question over the past few weeks.

It started when I initially heard the terrible allegations surrounding the former famed Penn State Football coach.  As the trial went on and the victims shared their testimonies of horrific abuse the question began to crescendo with intensity.  Then finally when the guilty verdict was confirmed on 45 of 48 counts of sexual abuse of a minor it reached a fever pitch.

How could a man who raped and abused young, underprivileged, boys by poaching them from an organization he created called the Second Mile ever be forgiven?

In our society, there are few worse offensive crimes than those perpetrated on small children.  These defenseless and trusting little souls look up to us as adults to be their guides, role models, and protectors.  We are the ones that are to nurture them into the men and women of the next generation, but when devious adults choose to use their power or influence to fulfill their evil sexual desires the fabric of our society is torn.

So the idea that one or any of those offenders would ever be welcomed by God into an eternity of joy and perfection seems almost as offensive as the crime itself.  If the punishment is to ever fit the crime then an eternity of pain and anguish in Hell only seems fitting.

As absurd as it may be to think a pedophile could walk the streets of gold someday after what he or she committed, there is something more scandalous to consider.

It’s the Gospel.

This is truly scandalous.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is that all sin is evil in the sight of God and separates us from the Holy God for eternity.  In the book of Romans we read that “the wages of sin is death” and “all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God”.

Therefore, no one is immune to the death virus caused by sin.

However, God did not turn His back on us.  Instead He sent His very best to us.   God’s one and only son, Jesus Christ, was born as a baby, grew to be a man, lived a perfect life, and died an unjust death on a Roman cross.  He was buried in a tomb and 3 days later defeated death and appeared to over 500 people before ascending to heaven to reign at the right hand of God the father.

Jesus did all of that to offer us freedom from our sin and eternal life by  accepting His free gift of Grace found only in Christ.

Here is what is so scandalous about the Gospel.

ALL have sinned but ALL are free to accept the gift of Grace.   Everyone is welcome to His grace.  From the murdered to the liar, from the cheat to the thief, from the adulterer to the prideful all sinners are offered the freedom found only in Christ.

This means that if Jerry Sandusky one day repents of his sins, accepts Christ as his Lord and Savior, and receives the gift of Grace he will be forgiven.

Only God can provide that beautiful and scandalous Grace.

My heart screams for the victims of these atrocities.  My moral compass has snapped in outrage.  My soul weeps for the wounds caused by this man.  If it were my kids, I would be beside myself and filled with an anger I can’t even imagine.

My version of justice would look much different for people like Jerry Sandusky, but I’m not God.

It’s a good thing I’m not, because without God’s grace I’m no better than Sandusky.  I’m a sinner, in need of Grace, in need of Christ, in need of forgiveness.  I need Jesus just as bad as Jerry Sandusky, but I’m so glad I did find Him.

So as difficult as it may be,  as a forgiven follower of Christ, I need to find a place in my spirit to pray that Sandusky does too.

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True Confessions Of A First Time Dad: Golden Retriever Flight School

There is a small retention pond in our subdivision that is a wonderful little nook complete with a fountain, fish, odd smelling water with odder looking foam, and beer cans floating in it from the underage knuckle heads in the neighborhood.

Even though it seems like a mess we still like to go and stand above the water looking down to watch the fish swim and also the ducks.

It’s those flying friends that caught our attention this last time.  We noticed the momma duck in the water looking up at her brood of maturing ducklings pacing the retaining wall above the water.  They waddled back and forth as nervous as a freshman boy asking a senior girl to the prom.  There was something they wanted to do but we didn’t’ know what.

Just then the momma duck took off from the water and flew right by her adolescent crew landing with the precision of a F16 on an aircraft carrier.  She gave a quick look to her “class” to make sure everyone was paying attention and then waddled to the edge and pushed off the side into perfect flight only to land gracefully on the water below.  She dunked her head under the water quickly and flung her feathers dramatically upon surfacing with the panache of an Olympic swimmer taking their swim cap off.

We looked up to the ducklings that had a look of amazement, but yet resolve that said “I can do that!”  We thought for sure that these Titans of Fowl would quickly jump off and join their hero in the water.  However, for the next 10 – 15 minutes we watched them continue their anxiety dance on the wall only getting one webbed toe even near the edge.

With a 90 degree sun beating down on my fair skinned family I realized it was time to go before we all spontaneously combusted.  We packed up and started on our walk home, but as we got the corner we looked one more time to see if they had made any progress.  Unfortunately they were still gripped with fear all looking down to momma duck.

As I started to sink into a mini depression thinking I may have missed a real life National Geographic moment something dawned on me.  I realized I had something that may help these junior aviators accelerate their learning curve.

Pachino.

Our wonderful, 100 pound, drooling at the chance, frustrated by a house full of babies and Barbies Golden retriever.

I looked down at him and he looked up at me with eyes that said “put me in coach I’m ready.”  The next thing I know I see a streak of gold fur and slobber sprinting toward this group of delectable ducklings.

Pachino got within 5 feet before every duck butt and beak on that wall went diving into the water with the grace of Humpty Dumpty.  We all ran over to see how everyone was and thankfully all ducks were accounted for and swimming around with a confidence that said, “I meant to do that.

Aniston LOVED it, Cherie laughed, Easton tooted, and I thought it was flat out awesome.

Let’s face it sometimes we all have things that we hem and haw at.  Things that we say we want to do but never do.  Things we’ve been standing on the ledge to start but never jump into.

Our spiritual lives are not immune to this paralysis.

I know that God feels like the momma duck in the pond just waiting for you and I to take the first step knowing we will be just fine when we do.  Whether it’s accepting Christ, getting baptized, joining a small group, or even sharing your faith with someone God so desperately wants you to step off the ledge and fly.

But no one can do it for you.

God is not going to be send a Golden Retriever to scare us into a relationship with him we have to do it on our own.  Our friends can encourage us, our pastor can shepherd us, and God can provide opportunities but we have to jump.

I’m just telling you to get off your duck butt, dive in, and enjoy the ride.

Believe me God will be down at the bottom to teach you how to swim and Pachino will look down on you with a grin. :)

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Seeking Wisdom: Proverbs 18 – Velcro Relationships

“A man of many companions may come to ruin,

    but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

Proverbs 18:24

There is no way around it.

The world is filled with people.

Family people.

Friend people.

Annoying people.

Beautiful people.

Happy people.

Cranky people.

Spouse people.

The world is filled with people and even worse…we have to interact with them.  There is no way around it because people are everywhere!

Proverbs 18 shows us a small list of the types of people this world has to offer and what we might expect from them.

“An unfriendly man pursues selfish ends; he defies all sound judgment.”  Pv. 18:1

“A fool finds no pleasure in understanding, but delights in airing his own opinions.” Pv. 18:2

“One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys.” Pv. 18:9

The difficult part about people is that we can’t tell who any of them are just by looking at them.  They don’t carry around signs that say, “I’m selfish”, “I’m a cheater”, and “I’m a liar”.  No, we only find out these things after we get to know someone.  After we talk to someone.  After we spend time with someone.

To know someone requires having a relationship with him or her and that can be risky.

I’m not immune to poor relationships and I’ve been burned many times by people too.  I’ve felt the effects of a “tongue with the power of life and death” (v. 21).  I’ve been the one who “answers before listening” (v. 13) and have offended people.

However, even when those things have happened and I find myself bent over trying to catch my breath or getting the knife from my back I don’t give up on people.

I don’t give up because God has wired us all to have relationships with one another as part of His perfect design. Sanctus Real’s lyrics, “Oh, Oh we need each other”, sum it up best because we do need each other.

Yet, despite the pain and anguish we go through with crummy relationships, it seems to make those really good relationship we stumble upon even better.

Some of Solomon’s best words I believe are found in verse 24 A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.“

I’ve been blessed to find Velcro friends that stick close to me in my lifetime.  These are men and women that challenge me to be a better man of God, but yet also are there to encourage me through the tough stuff.  I certainly hope they view me as a Velcro friend too because after sifting through a sea of frustrating relationships I can see how vital they are to my existence.

God designed us to find those brothers and sisters that stick close to us.  Yes, it will require you to put yourself out there long enough to get to know people, but I pray that at some point you will find a person whose Hook matches your Loop and you will be Velcro together with a bond that is hard to separate.

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5 Ways To Cure A Drama Addiction

I want to finish this look at the rising epidemic of Drama Addiction by encourage us all that there is way out.  There is an antidote.  There is a way to cure to this addiction and we can start taking it today.

Here are 5 Ways To Cure A Drama Addict:

1.    Decide God Is Enough

I cannot over state this enough.  We must find our worth, value, purpose, passion, meaning, direction, fulfillment, hope, and strength in God and God alone.  We don’t need drama.  We don’t need other’s drama.  We need to find the peace that surpasses all understanding.  We need to be caught up in our pursuit and worship of Him so that drama can be seen for what it is.  It is a stupid distraction that keeps us from the fullness of God.

2.    Look At Your Life From 30,000 Feet

The more often we can do this the more we will be able to pick off drama in our life.  Looking at our life at 30,000 feet without inserting emotions, excuses, or justification allows us to subjectively view our reality.  When we do this we are able to see areas of our life that are going great and areas that are just completely out of hand.  It’s those areas that when you enter back into your ground level reality you attack and remove.

 3.    Stop Hanging Around With Dumb People

I say this with all the love I can muster, but it’s the truth.  There are people we hang around with that are oozing drama and they are infecting us by being around them.  This may mean family.  This may mean mom and dad.  This may mean a “good” friend.  I completely believe we need to be salt and light to the world, but if the world we are seasoning is causing us to change and become spoiled we need to get away.  There may be another “salt shaker” out there that is meant to minister to them better than you or I.

4.    Want Better For Your Kids

There is not one parent in the world that doesn’t want better for their children.  If we don’t actively decide to stop the cycle of drama in our familywe are not giving them anything better.  We are giving them the same old hand me down, recycled, broken down, stress filled life we have and that’s not fair.  This may mean moving to a new neighborhood, choosing a different school, getting counseling, getting involved in other activities, but it has to come from YOU and I.  We as parents need to make wise decisions for our kids if we ever hope them to have better.

5.    Prayer For God’s Peace

Any change we desire to have in our life needs to be covered in prayer.  If Jesus often got away from the stress of the crowds to pray we need to do so also.  We need to ask for wisdom, discernment, strength, perseverance, and a humble spirit from God for real change to happen.  Additionally, the prayer we pray must be for bold and gnarly change not just minor surgery.  A drama addiction is a joy robbing addiction that sucks life out of us.  As fervently as we desire drama we must double that intensity when we want God’s peace.  Drama is effortless and always-in stock, but peace is rare and takes effort to achieve.  Pray for peace and attack drama.

Listen, I get it.

Life is full of difficult situations, tough people, hard times, and stress.

I live in the same world you live and I fall into the drama trap too.

What I’ve found is that I am a totally different person when I’m in my addiction then when I’m in God’s peace.

I will be honest.  I hate that person I become and I hope you’d hate him too.

I hate him because when I’m pursuing drama I am out of the will of God and I’m playing right into the hands of the Evil one.  You are too.

We need to be smarter than that because as Christians, we possess a freedom like none other.  Freedom from sin, death, loneliness, separation, and stress because we belong to Jesus.

His life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension took all our drama so we don’t have to live that way anymore.

So with the strength of Christ, make the decision to kill your drama addiction today and find the peace that only God can give.

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5 Signs You May Be A Drama Addict

As we take a closer look at this drama addiction phenomenon, let’s look at some possible warning signs and symptoms of a drama addict that I’ve noticed.

Here are 5 Signs You May Be A Drama Addict:

 1.    You come from a long line of drama kings/queens in your family

Addiction to drama is usually a learned behavior passed down from one drama filled family to the next.  Since most drama in ones life is avoidable the decision to break the cycle can start with you and your family.

2.    You surround yourself with people that have high drama in their lives.

Misery loves company and dramatic people love other dramatic people.  To use another cliché, birds of a feather do flock together, so if your desire is to reduce drama and increase peace you may want to hang out with a different flock of birds.

 3.    You are always looking for the next bad thing to happen even when things are fine.

One of the saddest things I’ve seen is people that are never optimistic.  It could be the warmest day, framed by the bluest sky, in the middle of a sea of golden retriever puppies and a drama addict will be thinking about sunscreen, global worming, and pooper-scoopers.  Sometimes you have to just enjoy the view and not expect bad things to happen.

4.    Your conversations usually end up talking about other people and comparing your problems to theirs.

Since drama addicts feed off of drama to survive they often look for the endless fountain of drama serum in gossip to get their fix.  If you can’t create drama in your life, drama in other’s lives will do for a while.  My encouragement is to step away from conversations that have no desire for resolution and are focused on self-justification and not sanctification.

5.    Your children have abnormal amounts of drama in their lives.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and that goes for sour apples too.  If you want to gauge whether or not there is a drama addiction in your family look at your kids.  Are their lives peaceful, disciplined, focused, healthy, encouraging?  Do the kids they hang out with, the environment they live in, and the conversations they have laced with drama?  If so, you may be infecting your kids with your dramatic addiction and perpetuating the cycle.

In life we are constantly in the process of change.

Some change makes us better and some change makes us worse.  When you read through these you may feel defensive or even defeated.  Neither response is what God wants from you or I.

God’s desire is that as we look into the mirror of His Word, as James tells us, we should desire to become a little more like Him everyday.  That may mean we need to say no to some things so we say yes to other things.  It may mean we admit some things about our self and repent of them.   That may mean we end relationships that are killing us slowly.  It could mean any number of things.

What God’s Word doesn’t say is “stay the same you are doing just fine”.  In a fallen world full of fallen people this can never be true.

As we look next at the ways to cure our drama addiction, continue to ask God to search your heart.  Ask Him to show you where some of this addiction may true in your world and how you can begin to rid yourself of it as you grow to be more like Him.

Embrace the dramatic change that God wants to do in you and run from the drama that is trying to change you.

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Are You A Drama Addict?

We all know people that seem to be magnets for drama.

Then there are people who seem to be a galaxy sucking drama black hole.

So often when we come in contact with these people and they start unpacking their stories we need a minute to lift our jaws off the ground as the amount of “stuff” they unpack hits the floor.

I know I’ve found myself asking the “How can all that happen to one person?”  The knee jerk reaction is to feel deep sympathy and to try and help in even just one of the areas if we can.

However, I’ve found that some of these people thrive on drama in their lives and arguably live for it.  When a little bit of drama leaves it is quickly backfilled in with another life sitcom so that angst and stress has somewhere else to go.

To be clear, I’m not talking about unexpected life crisis like major illness.  No one asks to get cancer, be bed ridden, get fired from a job, or to lose a loved one.   I’m not counting that in the drama I’m referring too.  Difficult times are bound to happen and we won’t see them coming.  We trust God to see us through these times of challenge test.

A drama addiction as far different.

I believe 98% of the drama in our lives can be avoided if we follow God’s way and not ours.  As Christians,  we need to choose to live out what we believe and start making smart, cycle breaking, madness inoculating, drama free decisions in our lives.

However, a drama addiction is not a new phenomenon.  Ultimately the dysfunction and fracture in our world is caused by sin that we commit.  God’s original design was drama free, but we needed to spice it up a bit I guess.   The Old Testament is riddled with stories of God’s people choosing their way instead of God’s way and the wave of drama that follows those decisions is epic.  Sadly most, if not all, of these could have been avoided if they just followed God’s direction.

Understand, the reason these stories are recorded  in the Bible are not so we can compare sob stories, but to learn form the mistakes of these men, women, and nations.  They have been given to us so we can avoid the dramatic events in our life and live in the peace God intended.

Over the next few blogs I’d like to unpack some of these warning signs and possible solutions to drama in your life.  For the ones prone to drama I’d ask that you put your defense shield down and actually consider if these could be you.  For those that think that you are drama free take a read, and use these as preventative medicine to avoid an outbreak of drama in your life.

Just remember, God’s desire is for us to direct all of attention and energy to a relationship with Him in all facets of our life.  Satan’s job is far easier.  It is simply to get us distracted, frustrated, stressed out, and fatigued with enough stuff to lose focus on God.

Don’t let a Life a drama suck the life out of you!

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Cause Of Death: Life

People are dying every day and they don’t even know it.

I see it at the grocery store; driving in their car, in the checkout line a Target, at their job, even out to dinner.  People are slowly being killed off and they don’t even realize.

The warning signs are subtle but noticeable.

The side effects are gradual but crippling.

The cure is available but costly.

I wish I could say that I’ve been vaccinated but it flares up in me sometimes too.

What’s killing us?

Life.

It’s a life filled with stress, anxiety, anger, frustration, greed, jealousy, hate, win-at-all-costs, and constantly looking over your shoulder.  A life focused on what I can get for me from whomever I can.  A life racing at the speed of sound whose only desire is to accelerate to the speed of light.  A life driven in the pursuit of something, but never knowing what that something is.   A life looking for hope in everything but only finding that everything brings more hopelessness.

And with our heads down and our idealism up we push forward thinking everything will get better if we can just get past this one thing, make a little more, or find that elusive rabbit called “happiness”.

The truth is that in this pursuit of life we only find a slow, exhausting, gasping for breath and meaning death.

I’m here to tell you that there is another way.  There is a life of true hope, true meaning, and true fulfillment.

Listen to the promise found in this alternative lifestyle.

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4

Paul says that true life is found in Christ.  And when we place our faith, trust, hope, energy, focus, and talents in Him we no longer have to live the deadly life we struggling to maintain.  In fact he says that that life is now dead and we are now living an entirely new life with a whole new purpose.   A purpose that has our eyes fixed to things above not on things in the chaos below.

Now, this life is not stress free.  It’s not pain free.  It’s not even comfortable, but it is fulfilling and filled with purpose.  It is exactly what your current life can never offer and will never live up to.

In the end, this new life will lead to a true life beyond what we can see in the here and now.

So my cry to you is to stop dying and start living.

Let Christ be the cause of your life and stop letting your life be the cause of your death.

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True Confessions Of A First Time Dad: My 3 Year Old Chose Her Wedding Dress

It happened so innocently.

My wife and I were feeding Easton on the couch when all of a sudden Aniston announces, “I want a white wedding dress.”  Cherie and I look at each other and without missing a beat Aniston went on to describe this magical gown.

Here are some details:

-       It is white with long sleeves

-       It has flowers at the bottom

-       Her hair will be worn down, “not in a pony daddy!”

-       There will be pink and purple flowers in her hair like Rapunzel

-       She does not want a headband in her hair

-       The bridesmaids will be wearing pink and purple dresses as well

At least, this is what the paramedics told me when I woke up in the ER.  I don’t really remember much after I passed out and hit my head.  I guess the thought of my 3 year old getting married was too much.

The truth is that my daughter really just wanted a dress.  She wanted to play dress up and wear pretty clothes and on this day she wanted a white wedding dress.

That’s it.

What she didn’t want was to get married.  (Thank you sweet Jesus J )

You see getting married is a far bigger deal than playing dress up or even having a wedding.

Every day, lots of people play dress up and have weddings.  It’s called Vegas.

But very few people want a marriage.

A marriage requires compromise, submission, forgiveness, love, patience, and so much more I don’t have space to write them all.  Marriage is a commitment of a man and woman to each other until death parts them.   Marriage is covenant between them and God to love each other and to be there for each other through the good and the not so good.  Marriage is guaranteed journey that will be filled with ups and downs, ins and outs, smiles and screams, and will test everything about you.

This is why I see more and more people wanting a wedding more than a marriage.

They want the dress-up party, dancing, presents, and honeymoon way more than holding wrinkled hands at their 50th anniversary celebration.

Tragically, these marriages dissolve because of the selfish and fleeting desire of “happiness” one or both them are chasing.  It’s the pursuit of that “wedding feeling” every day of their lives, but when the music fades and the make-up gets washed off real life begins.

The people that bail on their marriages and run into the arms of money, freedom, independence, another person, or any other fruitless pursuit are the ones missing out.  They miss out on the aged beauty found in a long lasting relationship seasoned with time.

My friends please hear these next words.

If you are married, keep working at it even if it’s hard.  Don’t fall for the mirage of happiness you think you see in the distance.  Rub your eyes and realize God has you and your spouse together for the long haul for something far better than happiness.

If you are separated or divorced, it’s not too late.  Forgiveness is what God does best…just ask Jesus.  If you have chosen to believe the lies of happiness and have strayed from your spouse you can always turn back.  Humble yourself and get back in the fight for your marriage.  It’s worth it.

If you are single, get your relationship with God right first.  The best gift you can give your spouse is to have a strong relationship with Christ.  If you are able to establish your identity and joy in Him then you will not put unnecessary expectation or pressure on your spouse.  Find your identity in Him and praise Him for the chance to share love with the person He brings into your life.  Pursue God not happiness.

My prayer is that more people work to get past the new car marriage smell and realize the true design God had for marriage.  Don’t believe the lie that the best day of your marriage is the first because the best is yet to come.

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