Random Thought Thursday: August 28, 2014

empty

You better really enjoy being with your spouse once all of the kids have moved out. If not, you’ll be in quite a bind. Don’t neglect your marriage while the kids are living at home. Build into it and enjoy one another. Michelle and I did, and we’re really enjoying the empty nest.

crucial

I recently attended Willow Creek’s Global Leadership Summit.  It’s a yearly gathering of some 200,000 leaders from all over the world who desire to be better leaders.  One of the speakers this year was leadership guru Joseph Grenny who talked about the importance of having crucial conversations – which are conversations that need to happen but are very hard to have.  He said that if we don’t have these, we will end up acting out our frustration with the other person – which will only make the situation worse.  He claims that not having these kinds of conversations is what often stops the growth of relationships, organizations, etc.  His question is one I pose to you: What crucial conversations (in your marriage, at work, in your family, etc) do you need to have that you’re not having now?

Stryper

A couple weeks ago, I took my son, Taylor, to Denver to see one of all-time favorite rock bands, Stryper.  He likes them too.  What a show! All 4  original members and all over the age of 50. 50 must be the new 30 because they are better live now than they were 20 years ago when I first saw them live.

lunchbox

If you’re looking for a good movie to watch, let me recommend a couple of recent releases – all about food – that Michelle and I have really enjoyed over the last few months…

The Lunchbox
Harvard University analyzed their delivery system and concluded that just one in a million lunchboxes is ever delivered to the wrong address. This is the story of that one.

Hundred Foot Journey
It is a story about how the hundred-foot distance between a new Indian restaurant and a traditional French one represents the gulf between different cultures and desires. It focuses on the rivalry and resolution of the two restaurants and is based in Lumière, France.

Chef
Chef Carl Casper suddenly quits his job at a prominent Los Angeles restaurant after refusing to compromise his creative integrity for its controlling owner, he is left to figure out what’s next. Finding himself in Miami, he teams up with his ex-wife, his friend and his son to launch a food truck.

I’m Invincible!

sidewalk gum

I just received my final follow-up vaccination for my trip to Egypt last February. It was my 3rd trip to Africa in the last 4 years. In all, I visited 4 African countries – all which have a long list of needed vaccinations.

I asked the doctor yesterday if I could now chew sidewalk gum. She said she doesn’t recommend it – but she did concur that my body probably has enough immunity to do so.

I might.

Lost in Egypt!

I received some more pictures from my trip in February to Egypt from Charles Wolf, the guy with whom I traveled.  I’ll post some more in a few days, but these two pictures together can aptly be titled, “Lost in Egypt!”

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The Real Truth About Marriage and Divorce

50% of all marriages will end in divorce. This is the stat that I’ve come to believe because that’s what “they” say (whomever “they” are). The same “theys” also say that this number is not much different among Christians – 50% of Christian marriages will experience divorce as well. Not good news for the institution of marriage.

However, I can happily say that the “theys” are wrong! Recent studies show that the divorce rate in our culture is not nearly as high as “they” say it is, and that Christian marriages are actually faring even better. Here is the real truth about marriage today:

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 72% of those who have ever been married are still married to their first spouse. And the 28% who aren’t includes everyone who was married for many years until a spouse died. No one knows what the average 1st-marriage divorce rate actually is, but based on the rate of widowhood and other factors, it is probably closer to 20–25%. For all marriages (including 2nd marriages and so on), it is in the 31–35% range, depending on the study. Regular church attendance lowers the divorce rate anywhere from 25–50%. (The Good News About Marriage, Shaunti Feldhahn, Multnomah, 2014)

According to Glenn T. Stanton, the director for family formation studies at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, Colo., many people who seriously practice a traditional religious faith – be it Christian or other – have a divorce rate markedly lower than the general population. The factor making the most difference is religious commitment and practice. Couples who regularly practice any combination of serious religious behaviors and attitudes — attend church nearly every week, read their Bibles and spiritual materials regularly; pray privately and together; generally take their faith seriously, living not as perfect disciples, but serious disciples — enjoy significantly lower divorce rates than mere church members, the general public and unbelievers.

W. Bradford Wilcox, a leading sociologist at the University of Virginia and director of the National Marriage Project, finds from his own analysis that “active conservative Protestants” who regularly attend church are 35 percent less likely to divorce compared to those who have no affiliation. Nominally attending conservative Protestants are 20 percent more likely to divorce, compared to secular Americans.

Professor Scott Stanley from the University of Denver, working with an absolute all-star team of leading sociologists on the Oklahoma Marriage Study, explains that couples with a vibrant religious faith had more and higher levels of the qualities couples need to avoid divorce: “Whether young or old, male or female, low-income or not, those who said that they were more religious reported higher average levels of commitment to their partners, higher levels of marital satisfaction, less thinking and talking about divorce and lower levels of negative interaction. These patterns held true when controlling for such important variables as income, education, and age at first marriage.”

This is all good news! Contrary to popular belief (and contrary to what “they” say), marriage is not a dying institution in our culture, and the marriages that are most vibrant and secure are those where God is central.

Ghost Town in the Mountains

The signs are clear, and there are a lot of them: “Stay Out!” And we did. But my zoom lens did not.

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At the end of our weekend get-away in the mountains outside Albuquerque, Michelle and I decided to drive on a little-known dirt road to return to Albuquerque. The road cuts through the mountains rather than going around them, and with our newly acquired pick-up truck (with a Hemi, of course), we decided to take the challenge.

We had been told that if we could make it all the way, we would possibly be rewarded with seeing a herd of wild horses (which we did) and a ghost town that once was home to over 200 people in the 1930′s. After being banged around for 30 minutes on the dirt road, we saw a row of black tires attached to poles along the side of the road. All of them with the same message: “Stay Out!” We stopped, and in the distance we could see the ruins of a small town once known as Hagen, New Mexico.

Hagen

In the 1920′s, a coal mine was developed on the land as well as a brick-making plant. Over 100 adobe structures were built for homes and Hagen was born. Water was piped from a spring 2 miles away to a reservoir above the town, and a general store was built which housed a bank, post office, barber shop and pool hall as well as the general mercantile. Even an eight-grade school was set up to serve 70 students. All was going along well in Hagen until 1933 when the miners hit a layer of shale which soon widened, eventually choking off coal production.

Today, only the foundations and a few brick walls of the power plant, general store, reservoir, and a few smaller buildings remain.

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21 Years Ago Today

21 Years 2

21 years ago today, I married the love of my life.  We haven’t changed much, have we?

Michelle is my best friend, my fellow adventure seeker, the one who laughs at my humor (most of the time), my soul-mate, the mother of my children, the grandmother of my grandchildren, my sounding board, my lifelong companion, the beauty I never grow tired of looking at, my joy, and definitely my better half.  I love living life with her, and I really do thank God for her every day.

On life, learning, love, and laughter.