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Monday, November 26, 2012

He's on the radio!!!

Radio Podcast

Hey folks, sorry for the mixup.  I hear some of you tried to listen to the interview on the internet, and found only frustration.  I found out today that the problem was a computer glitch at the network.   The interview will be aired one of the upcoming Sundays, I will let you know when for sure when I know.  However, you can shortcut the process if you’d like by going directly to the podcast at 

  Hope you had a good Thanksgiving.  In our worship gathering yesterday, we celebrated communion, called in some traditions, Eucharist, which is from the Greek meaning, “thanksgiving.”  Seemed to be appropriate to celebrate at this time of year, don’t you think?  Although, quite frankly, communion is ALWAYS appropriate to celebrate, I’d say, wouldn’t you?

  I’ll call that enough for today, and remind you to remember to pass along the blog or email address to those who might need the encouragement (or the book!) during the upcoming holidays…..special though Christmas is, it can be pretty tough for families splintered by divorce. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks in All Things


   Thanks to Best Buy, to WalMart, and to Sears and to all the other wonderful stores that make sure people plan their holiday around what time they need to camp outside of their favorite stores to get special deals.  Thanks to Macy’s for a wonderful parade, (which, by the way, I almost always watch part of and was privileged to see in person one time).  Thanks to…..well, how about God? 

  I apologize……kind of…..for having not posted anything for you lately, but a while back my 90 year old mother began to decline, and she passed into Jesus’ arms last week.  The service was Saturday, so this Thanksgiving, we are celebrating Thanksgiving without the uncle who passed away in August, and my mother.  On the other hand, dad just celebrated his 93rd birthday yesterday.  You see, there are things in life that cause us to sorrow and struggle, but there are also things to give thanks for as well.

  We watched a video during worship Sunday that reminded us al that during Thanksgiving, we need to realize how precious having a family is, and to give thanks for that rather than focus on the irritations that can arise.   ( Family Thanksgiving Song)  So if you are celebrating your Thanksgiving with family, take time to thank God for each one you see….even if it is just something you do silently in your heart. 

  There are some who are facing this Thanksgiving holiday for the first time without their spouse who divorced them, and, because of that, without their children.  It can be a lonely and sorrowful time.  If you know such a person, let them know today, or in the days ahead, that you are thinking of them.  And maybe even find a way to include them in some activity…if not a last minute Thanksgiving invite, maybe going shopping, or coming over for leftovers tomorrow night (by the way, I know I have mixed my plurals and singulars in these sentences.  I just don’t care, because he/she is just too awkward, I think).

As I give Thanks today, I wish all would remember that which we have forgotten, that there IS Someone to whom we need to give thanks.  God is real.  It is by His grace and sustaining power we live, breathe, move and “have our being.”  So if you are with family today, give thanks for that.  If your family has splintered this year, and you are experiencing that troubling shift in life, you can still find something for which to give thanks.  This is some 14 years after my divorce, and some 10 after my wife’s, and even now, there is awareness that things are different than they used to be.  But some of those differences have become very good, and very special….and that is something for which I give thanks, and something some of you may need to look forward to experiencing while you struggle today. 

A Dysfunctional Family Thanksgiving Song
  And please, don’t ever confuse WalMart, Sears, Macy’s or Best Buy (or any of their commercial compatriots) with God, even though they may act like they are the most important, they are not.  Give thanks to the only one who really deserves our greatest thanks, God himself.  Happy Thanksgiving dear readers! 

P.S.  I did an internet radio interview the other day for Indie Books, and it will air on the internet this weekend.  Mine is the third interview in the show.   If you are interested in hearing it, the access information is below:

Sunday, November 25th, at 5:00-6:00 PM Eastern Standard Time on TogiNet Radio (www.toginet.com)
v To find the Indie Book Publishing Show Page, go to: http://toginet.com/shows/indiebookpublishing
v To listen live, click the “Live on Air” (yellow arrow) at the top, left side of the page.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Divorce Difficulties

Issues with the Ex

So was visiting with a friend the other day, and we were talking some about one of the big issues that arises after a divorce:  the issue of boundaries.  Sometimes, an ex will assume he/she is welcome to just walk into the house, especially if it was the house that he/she had lived in previous to the divorce.  And it is hard sometimes for the individual to figure out how to handle that, especially if the ex is a very forceful type individual. 

Even once inside the door, sometimes behavior can be very odd…..the visitor may try to look into other rooms, or sit uncomfortably close, or overstay the welcome you extended.  There is on word for this whole thing:  awkward.  Very awkward.  Especially if there are kids around who are witnessing the whole thing….how do you ask the kids’ mom or dad to leave, without appearing to be mean or vengeful? 

In some cases, divorced individuals do okay with this area, they are able to talk to each other, discuss appropriate and appropriate behaviors and boundaries to abide by.  But in many cases, there is often one person who is not able to willing to discuss these things rationally, and take everything personally and behave inappropriately.  So what do you do?

If you aren’t able to discuss these boundary issues, then a good next step is to define for yourself what you are comfortable with, and write it down.  Then take that information and include it in a letter or email to your ex (keep a copy for your own records, by the way).  The advantage of this is you don’t have to try to outshout them or get diverted from what you are expressing while providing clear guidelines you are willing to use.  But some ex’s still don’t respect the request, what do you do, then?  Some immediately jump to court and file restraining orders….which often creates a hostile situation and only provides “protection” after the fact……in other words, if they show up, you can call the police, but the police aren’t going to post a guard 24/7 to keep them from showing up. 

Instead, I suggested an alternative to my friend, a woman with two children at home.  My first thought was for her to always be out on the porch when he arrives, and simply do the discussion out there.  That often can settle the difficulty.  However, some people don’t let that discourage them….they are insistent about entering the home.  Another option could be to walk to the car and stand outside the car door, talking only through the window and thus, blocking their exit from the vehicle.  Again, not everybody responds even to that.  So, another option would be to have a supporting individual present when the ex comes by (realizing that often it is necessary for them to come to return the kids).  If you are a woman, asking a tall and muscular male friend to be there can be a good discouragement to some men (although some would pick fights instead).  Finally, if the problem occurs when children are returning from the other parent’s home, an alternative solution would be to arrange the pickup and drop-off at a neutral place…..”just bring them to the mall….I’ll meet you at such and so a place.”  (And you can explain a bit to the children in age appropriate information that you just want your home to be your private space….just don’t run down the ex while you explain.)  Or, if it isn’t a matter of children and the person refuses to cease, then perhaps one call to the police to report a trespasser would be enough to discourage their behavior.  

Bottom line:  this is all very stupid.  Nobody should even HAVE to try to figure out how to handle these things.  But some people just like to keep things stirred up.  Others like to “have their cake and eat it, too” thinking that they should be free to come and go as they please.  So if this is you, good luck…it can be a very troublesome problem.  Over time, though, the problem will probably fade and resolve itself as your ex finds other things to do with his/her time than snoop around your house.  By the way, if you have dealt with this yourself, and have some other good ideas to suggest, feel free to add comments to this blog. 

TL:dr  Ideas for handling a difficult ex.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Election: United in Purpose and Effort

Did you vote?

So, this is election day.  I went to vote.  Just once.  Actually, went to the station early, picked up a sample ballot so I could review everything in case there were things on the ballot I didn't know about (a habit of mine).  When I went back in later, there weren't any new names listed on the ballot, so I had to go ahead and choose from the people listed earlier.  And I did.  And I’m not going to tell you how I chose.  Because it isn't any of your business.  And how you vote isn't mine!  However, THAT you vote is very important to me……it is a privilege for which many of our ancestors fought and died, and a privilege many around the world would give anything to have.  I might point out that, presidentially, it really doesn't matter how I voted, because my state is not one of the battleground color-changing states…..so if I vote with the state’s color, my vote makes a difference, if I don’t, then it kind of disappears in the fog.  Oh, well.  Although, I did hear on the news a report about another state that is considered blue, but a few elections back was regularly considered red, and therefore, it demonstrates that things can change, and so, my vote, your vote, DOES matter. 

However, I wanted to address an issue that I think is very troubling.  All too often I hear individuals and sometimes politicians, demonizing the people of the other party, creating deep divides and mistrust.  I would argue that Satan has effectively used both parties!  And that God has also used both parties.  The scripture reminds us in Psalm 75 and Romans 13 that, even though we vote, ultimately the lifting up of leaders is at God’s discretion.  Lots of Christians are big fans of those verses when the leaders are people they like, less excited when their candidate loses.  I find it interesting that some of Paul’s comments about our responsibility to pray for and give proper respect to our government leaders were made by Paul under a Roman government that was EXTREMELY pagan, and during significant periods of his life, very hostile to Christians and Jews.  So what does that say to us when our favorite does not win?  Certainly they all need our prayer, and, if you are like me at all, sometimes our feedback and comments. 

A good friend of mine from battleground state Wisconsin, Sandy, posted on her facebook page something I thought was well said, and so I decided to share it with you in today’s blog.  She wrote:

“I just want to tell all of you today that I love you. If you are on my friend list, you are someone whom I respect and admire. Each of us has an understanding of part of a larger truth. I have disagreement with everyone on SOMETHING, whether it be religion or politics or favorite color. I love you even when we disagree. Especially when we disagree. Today is not about us and them. No matter who wins, it is not about glorying in our win or grieving about our loss. It is about connecting with the people with whom we disagree. If we win or lose, we can’t ignore the fact that close to 50 per cent of the population disagrees with us. We need understanding of the truths that come from others. We all have SO much common ground; politics is just about the methods toward our values. Let’s focus on those values we all hold dear, and listen, without rancor, to hear the stories and learn the truths from those with whom we disagree. Republicans and Democrats are first and foremost...people. So people, I love you all.”

She then goes on to quote 1 Corinthians 12, and the way God uses a variety of people with a variety of gifts to create a beautiful and functional complete body of Christ.  Indeed, she is right.  God doesn’t desire that all of us be the same, but that we join together, unite in purpose and effort.  (Sometimes our churches need to remember that, too, it seems to me.)  And, more importantly, we are called to love our brother, neighbor AND ENEMY, because God so loved THE WORLD……right?  I wonder, if we took my friend’s ideas, and learned to love even the 50% who think differently than ourselves, what kind of a country would we have?  I think it would be pretty neat to find out, don’t you?

TL:dr   An election and its results should not be big enough to make us forget that people are important, and to treat them as if they are.The 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

To Those on the East Coast Who Survived Hurricane Sandy

A Tribute and a Prayer for Hurricane Sandy Survivors

So have been awful tied up of late, and haven’t written as much.  But wanted to add some comments to all the discussions about Hurricane Sandy.  First, I’d like to say that we should never underestimate the power of God…….the power of the hurricane was minimal in comparison…..especially the power to help those people in the midst of such devastation.  Help to give them peace in the storm, hope in the loss and courage for the future……and to use His people to be His hands and feet providing for material needs and emotional support.  I encourage each of us, as we did this morning in church, to be praying for those folks, and praying to discern what God might be asking of each of us to help.  I am thankful that the U.S. is a place where, when these kinds of things happen, our government actively seeks to help, and our people pour out their hearts and resources to make the needed difference.  Many of those people on the coast have a long and difficult road ahead of them.

I thought this morning of Matthew 7:24-27, where it talks about the difference between people who build their lives on doing God’s word and those who hear it but don’t do it.  Remember the story?  One is like a house built on a rock that withstands the storms, the other is built on sand and washes away in the flood.  We have just seen graphic images of that parable.  I was especially struck by those island homes on the beaches that were so devastated…..in one case, I heard about a beach, road and parking lot all washed away right up to somebody’s beach house! 

In times like what those folks are experiencing, one feels like they have lost so much of life, and often evaluates what really is important in life.  We hear it when people say things like, “Well, our house is gone, and our possessions are gone, but, thank God, we are all alive and well.”  (And, the same kind of evaluations take place when one goes through the devastation of divorce, too, by the way.)  In those evaluations, God often can speak in a way He cannot at other times in our lives.  Or, more accurately, we listen in a way we don’t always listen.  Anyway, having had times in my life without power and when roads were a mess due to various kinds of storms, I know the struggle they are facing is great….especially with food, water and transportation also shut down in so many ways. 

Having a number of friends on the coast from my college days, and having spent a fair amount of time in Manhattan and the Bronx, it is hard for those of us at a distance to see the kind of destruction that has come your way.  Especially after you have already gone through the disaster of 9/11/2001.  Our prayers are with you Easterners, that God’s mercy will safeguard you and yours, and help will get through soon .  And our prayers include that you will experience an incredible moment with God through these hard times.