Tag Archives: family

Lift ‘Em Up!

IMG_8611 Help.Chris.Rene_smw

with special thanks to Chris Ward, Jeremie Dufresne, and my other brothers.

Wanna build a stronger, better team or crew? The subject came up when Bill, one of my firefighter brothers and I were talking about my experiences at a recent structure fire. He is very knowledgeable and has years of experience, but since I am a ‘probie’ with comparatively little knowledge or experience, and being the smallest member of the fire department, in some ways I am the weakest member. I expressed gratitude for the on-scene training I received from both my own department brothers, as well as from other departments who were also on-scene. Although Bill would not agree that I am the weakest member, he stated a key concept in building a stronger crew— lift up and strengthen the weakest member, and the whole team becomes better and stronger.

That reminds me of an illustration I used in a blog post a couple of years ago using a wooden bucket with broken and worn slats. The bucket can hold only as much water as the shortest slat, so if we work to fix and raise it up first, the bucket will hold more water. If we fix and build up a taller slat first, the bucket will still hold only as much water as the shortest one.

If lifting up and strengthening the weakest member makes the whole stronger, then it stands to reason that kicking the weakest member when she’s down would only serve to weaken the whole, right? Jesus said, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.” I am grateful for those who have lifted me up instead of kicking me down when I’ve messed up.

My friend, Scott, says something that is similar to a quote by Nate McConnell:

“The whole is the sum of its parts, so be a good part.”

Let’s show our strength by giving a hand and strengthening those who are weaker.


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Resolution Bucket: A New Strategy and Wisdom Wednesday: Teamwork

It’s Not About Religion, But It’s Not Just About a Relationship Either

IMG_8653 shrimp.boat_smw2

You’ve probably heard it.

You’ve probably read it.

I know I’ve said it.

“It’s not about religion. It’s about a relationship.”

Although I said it in It’s Not About Going to Heaven, I also mentioned that Jesus’ dying on the cross was about reconciliation and getting to spend an eternity with God.

But there’s more.

Yesterday at church, our co-pastor, Josh, preached the morning sermon, and I wrote something down because of something he had said. I wish I could remember what he said, but all I wrote was “relationship & fellowship”, and as I pondered the two, although it was not exactly what his sermon was about, I realized that having a relationship with people… or God, does not automatically lead to having fellowship with them.

Fellowship is not about Christian socializing, like church potlucks and picnics, although that is what we generally think of when we use the word fellowship.

Although the term fellowship is used mostly among Christians, it is also used by groups of learned or skilled people in pursuit of mutual knowledge or talent. I know a married couple, who are professional photographers, master photographers, and were the first married couple to become Fellows as well. To become a Fellow within a group of academia is generally a great honor and something that is not bestowed lightly. Within Christianity, the term comes from the Greek koinonia, meaning “communion, joint participation, or partnership”. I have heard our pastor and other preachers define it like this:

“Fellowship is two fellows in a ship, rowing in the same direction.”

In life, there are relationships that occur naturally, like within families. We have a relationship that is created either by birth or marriage, but we don’t necessarily get along, get together or pursue the same goals as a family group. We may have a relationship, but we don’t always have fellowship.

We all have a relationship with God whether we believe in Him or not, because He is our Creator, but we do not all have fellowship with Him. We might have even said “the prayer” and call ourselves Christians and not have fellowship with Him.

But, if we are trying to seek Him, (even if we get distracted), and if we are trying to do what He said, (even if we fail), and if we are trying to discern His will and participate in His purposes and goals, (even if we sometimes think our way is His way), then we have fellowship with Him. He is so patient and gracious, that even when we break fellowship with Him, He still pursues us.

It’s not just about a relationship.


If you liked this, you might also like… Wisdom Wednesday: Teamwork

Wisdom Wednesday: Don’t Build Your House First!

"Before you marry, have a house to live in, fields to till, and vines to cut."  —Spanish proverb

“Before you marry, have a house to live in, fields to till, and vines to cut.” —Spanish proverb

Have you ever considered the wisdom of some things that seem old-fashioned? Although the concept of young men preparing themselves to support a wife and family can be found and is encouraged among the homeschool community, long before they even start dating, so many young people, especially outside of the homeschooling community struggle financially after being newly married, because they were not really prepared. I have been to many bridal showers at which the bride-to-be has confessed to not even knowing how to cook. It is time to recall and revive some old-fashioned things.

When I first read Proverbs 24:27, I thought, “What?? Don’t you need a house to live in, to come home to after working in the field? Why would you prepare your fields first and then build your house?”

Ok, so I’m a little slow sometimes.

There was a time when young people learned life skills and saved money while living with their parents, so they would be ready to raise a family of their own. Young men sought to have a good job and a place of their own before they would even consider proposing marriage. Although the economy has forced kids to move back in with parents after having been on their own for a time, this generation seems to be more concerned with having fun in college and becoming independent than in preparing to become parents themselves. In fact, some shows portray having children as a negative thing, a fun and freedom stealer rather than the many joys and blessings children can bring. The word house in ancient times was also used to mean ‘family’, so the principle of preparing your fields, i.e. getting a job and being established before building your house, can apply to both your literal house and your family.

“In life, those who think about the future tend to do better than those who think only in the present. Yet those who think only in the present still do much better than those who think only in the past.” —Joe Beam

“The one who is not prepared today will be less prepared tomorrow.” —Latin proverb

The #1 reason for strife in marriages is money, although it generally isn’t the root cause but a symptom of something deeper. Men need respect and women need to feel secure and loved. Just think how much that reason can be diminished when young men are better prepared to support a wife and family financially and emotionally. I’m not saying women shouldn’t work, too, but ask any man, and even if they are failing to provide, they still feel that weight of responsibility.

“The better prepared, the more secure.” —Latin proverb

“Before you marry, have a house to live in, fields to till, and vines to cut.” —Spanish proverb

“An empty purse and a finished house, make a man wise, but too late.” —Portuguese proverb

“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.” —Vincent Van Gogh

“A year from now you may wish you had started today.” —Karen Lamb


If you liked this, you might also like… Making Plans


Wisdom Wednesday: To Speak or Not to Speak

IMG_9651 The.Gossip.qt

Have you ever had people vent to you about someone with whom they were all having a problem, but no one seemed to want to confront that person?  Have you ever vented to someone only to have that person talk to the other about whom you vented in a way that made it obvious you had talked?  Or have you been the one to disclose information that would have been better left unsaid?  Or perhaps it’s all of the above?  I have.  It is bound to happen within groups of people, whether it’s with families, friends, co-workers or within churches.  Although this isn’t a post about motherhood, I think mothers have especially been put into those situations as they are put into the role of mediator.  With the upcoming holiday season and family gatherings, I hope you can learn from some of the mistakes I’ve made over the course of my life.

Mistake #1:  Not encouraging the offended to talk to the offender first.

Although a mediator is sometimes needed for some circumstances, Jesus said, “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.  But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.”  (Matthew 18:15, 16).

So if the offended person isn’t willing to try and talk to the offender first, then leave it in her hands.  Don’t get involved, unless, of course, it is a very sensitive issue like in the case of physical or sexual abuse.

Mistake #2:  Mediating between two people without both being present.

If the offended person has already tried to talk to the offender with no resolution, offer to go and talk to the offender together.  As a Portuguese proverb says, “Let not him that has a mouth ask another to blow.”  In other words, we shouldn’t ask someone else to do something we ourselves are capable of doing, and we shouldn’t allow someone to become co-dependent when they are capable of doing it themselves.  People can speak about the issue better than we can, unless we, too, are involved and agree.  The intention is not to gang up on another, but to get to the truth and bring about a resolution and peace.

“The go-between wears out a thousand sandals.”  —Japanese proverb

Mistake #3:  Drawing conclusions before hearing both sides.

“He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbor cometh and searcheth him.”  —Proverbs 18:17

“Hear one man before you answer; hear several before you decide.”  —Danish proverb

“You’re all up in the Kool-Aid and you don’t even know what the flavor is!”  —Hector Badeau (in response to eavesdropping)

Mistake #4:  Remaining silent instead of speaking up.

Although there is a time and place for everything, don’t leave someone hanging by remaining silent when they are trusting you to speak up.  Otherwise, you could appear to agree with the offender and throw the offended under the bus.  Stand up for what is right.

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”  —Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“The one who is silent is seen to consent.”  —Latin proverb

Mistake #5:  Talking about a private matter in mixed company.

Although the subject matter may not necessarily be private, talking about a matter of which not everyone is aware or involved can make things very awkward and cause others to draw false conclusions.

“True eloquence consists of saying all that is needed and only what is needed.”  —François VI, Duke of de la Rochefoucauld

“Be silent or let thy words be worth more than silence.”  —Pythagoras

“Never miss a good chance to shut up.”  —American proverb

Mistake #6:  The written word versus the spoken word.

Sometimes writing things down or typing things out can help work out our thoughts and emotions, but sometimes we need to be careful about sending those thoughts in writing before speaking to the person, because as a Spanish proverb says, “The pen is less inhibited in speaking than the tongue.”  That goes for texting and posting things online as well.  Talking to a person face-to-face is preferable if possible, because tone of voice and body language can speak volumes.  It’s harder to be mean in person, too.

Mistake #7:  Trying to reason with an unreasonable person.

Proverbs 23:9 says, “Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words.”  Sometimes it is wiser to remain silent and avoid unreasonable people, or if absolutely necessary, especially when it comes to family, just try to grit your teeth and bear them when you have to be around them.

“It is well to know how to be silent till it is time to speak.”  —Portuguese proverb

“Lord, deliver me from the urge to open my mouth when I should shut it.  Give me wisdom to keep silent when silence is wise.  Remind me that not everything needs to be said, and that there are very few things that need to be said by me.”  —Elisabeth Elliot

Wisdom Wednesday: Teamwork

Have you ever been a part of a winning team or even a championship team? Or have you ever been on a losing team or one that constantly struggled to succeed?  What makes the difference?  Sheer talent or great leadership?  My oldest son sent me the link to the video below. Even though its target audience is League of Legends online gamers, it contains some excellent principles, including financial, for any kind of team or family. It reminded me of when Jesus said, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.” (Matthew 12:25)

“TEAM = Together Everyone Achieves More” —Unknown

“Many ants together can carry a beetle.” —Spanish proverb

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” —Aristotle

Teams and families are made up of people with varying talents and strengths. Successful teams recognize and utilize those strengths and talents. Unsuccessful or struggling teams have members with poor attitudes who want to be the center of attention or are looking out for ‘number one’. 1 Corinthians 12 contains the principle of teamwork, using the analogy of our body, and how we all work together with each having a different part. Verse 21 says, “And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.” Even members who seem less significant play an integral role.  Communication, having a plan, and working together as a whole are key to a team’s success.

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” —Michael Jordan, pro basketball player

Part of being a member of a team is actually participating and not spending most of the time warming the bench, or pew, or couch. We can either help our team move forward, cause our team to move backward, or remain stagnant by our passivity.

“Wearing the same shirts doesn’t make you a team.” —Buchholz and Roth, guitarists

If a team is to reach its potential, each player must be willing to subordinate his personal goals to the good of the team.” — Bud Wilkinson, football coach

Coaches, bosses, church leaders, and heads of households are just as much a part of the team and generally hold the greater responsibility for its success. Although this post is not about leadership, every group of people when brought together for a common purpose looks to someone to lead, so it’s important to choose a good leader, if possible, who is also willing to subordinate his/her personal goals for the good of the team or family and doesn’t forget that it’s not all about him/her.  It’s about each other, the common goal, and the bigger picture.

“Effective leaders are engaged in the lives of the people they are leading and are constantly seeking to understand how they can create an environment in which people succeed.” –Nathan Mellor, president of Strata Leadership, LLC

“Help others get ahead. You will always stand taller with someone else on your shoulders.” –Bob Moawad

“It is amazing how much you can accomplish when it doesn’t matter who gets the credit.” —Harry S. Truman, 33rd U.S. president

“The whole is the sum of the parts, so be a good part.” –Nate McConnell

If you liked this, you might also like:  I Got Your Back!

Thank You, God, Thank You


Photo credit: Free stock photo – http://www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml?f=view&id=1185533

This morning on my way to do some grocery shopping, I found my mind wandering, so I refocused and asked the Lord to use me while I was out.  I finished shopping, put my groceries in the trunk and remembered I’d forgotten something, so I went back into the store.  They didn’t have what I was looking for, so I walked back out.  An older woman, whose truck was parked beside my car, looked a little confused and distressed, so I asked if I could take her cart for her.  She said, “There’s a baby in that car,” pointing to the one on the passenger side of her truck.

“What? Is it alone? Is there anyone else in the car?” I asked.

“No, and the windows aren’t cracked open either.  Poor little guy.  He must be getting hot in there,” she replied.

We tried the doors, but they were locked.  Then she decided to go to the customer service desk to have the car owner paged.  While I waited for either the woman or the car owner to return, I prayed about what to do.  Should I call the police?  I decided to wait and see what kind of person the car owner was, and I’m so glad I did.  The first woman returned, and as we stood by the car, we heard the page over the speaker system.  Just then, a woman exited the store, and when she saw us, her countenance registered fear and dread as she hurried over.  She had not heard the page, but remembered her grandson was in the car when she saw us standing there.

Apparently, she had dropped off her daughter at work, which is something she rarely does, and because her grandson was so quiet in the backseat, she forgot she had him when she went into the store.  She felt horrible as she realized what could have happened.  She scooped him up car seat and all, took him out, held him tightly, and cried.  I hugged her as she held her grandson, and both the other woman and I told her it was okay.  Because she was so terribly shaken, I asked if we could help her put the groceries in the car to which she gladly accepted.  We reassured her that these things happen sometimes, and she was obviously a good Grammie.  I said, “God was watching out for you both.”  She looked up to heaven and said, “Thank You, God, thank You.”

Blessed To Be WordPress!

ImageI first started officially blogging in 2009, but I didn’t feel like part of a blogging community until I switched to WordPress.  It will be two years at the end of this month, and I have met so many wonderful people.

The Valor Society – By Geraldine and Especially Made were kind enough to nominate me for The WordPress Family Award.  I have been so blessed by their love for Jesus; their humble, transparent hearts; and their encouragement to me.  Thank you, ladies, for considering me a part of your blogging family!

I wish I could nominate one of my dear friends and fellow blogger, who has been a great encouragement to me, but my friend and published author, George Shuman, is not yet a part of the WordPress family.  I’m working on him though.  (^_~)

Here are my nominees:

A New Creation Too
Deep and Wonderful Thoughts
Fragrant Grace
God Is Green
Heavenly Raindrops
Jon Lilley
Morning Story and Dilbert
Unshakable Hope
Word (((HUGS)))
Working For Christ

If you choose to pass on this award, here are the rules:
1. Display the award logo on your blog.
2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
3. Nominate 10 others you see as having an impact on your WordPress experience and family.
4. Let your 10 Family members know you have awarded them.
5. That is it. Just please pick 10 people that have taken you as a friend, and spread the love.

Thank you to everyone, bloggers and non-bloggers, who have ‘Liked’, commented, and followed me.  I am truly honored and blessed by your encouragement and support!

A Tribute to My Mom


A photo taken by my daughter of me and Mom enjoying maple creemees during her recent visit

I am so thankful for my mom, Yoshi.  She is a hard-working lady, who raised three little girls all by herself in a foreign land— foreign to her and far away from family.  I am grateful for the love she gave and the sacrifices she made to provide a home and even extra things that we might be blessed.  She is an amazing seamstress, who was once given a commendation by a USMC general, and even though we couldn’t afford the latest fashions, she provided us with beautiful clothes.  I am grateful for her love for God and for passing on her faith, as well as some of her Okinawan heritage.

Mom, thank you for putting up with me and showing tremendous amounts of grace and love during my teenage years— like the time I pretended to run away.  I’m sorry I scared you and put you through unnecessary turmoil.  Thank you for the stuffed animal tiger you gave me for Christmas one year— the one that looks like Hobbs; it showed how much you knew me, and to be known is to be loved.  Thank you for being there for me and being so supportive.  Thank you for tucking me in at night two summers ago when I visited, because no matter how old we get, there’s still a little girl inside each of us, and it made me feel so loved.  Thanks, Mom… And thank you, Lord, for my mommy.

Go Play!


Raspberry Kisses

Is it true that “the family that prays together, stays together”?  I’ve witnessed families who pray together split apart, and families who don’t pray or even go to church together stay together.  Why?  Well, have you ever heard the family who plays together, stays together?  It occurred to me that those who play together are more likely to stay together.

If a family’s prayer life is primarily motivated by religious duty and pride, then the family is merely going through the motions and will most likely not develop deep relationships with each other or with God.  What is a family without relationship?  And I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”  Well, I’m sure all prayer and no play is the same, and who wants to be around a dull boy?

While not all families who play together play nice, most families who play together generally learn and tend to practice things like patience, teamwork, yielding to one another by taking turns, mercy, kindness, forgiveness, and love.  Families who play together usually have fun and enjoy one another.  When parents play with their children and with each other, they are saying, “I love spending time with you.  I enjoy being with you.  You’re fun to hang out with.  You’re worth my time.”

So am I saying praying together isn’t important?  Oh no!  Not at all!  Families who pray together out of a genuine love and concern for each other, as well as those outside of family, are more likely to build relationships, not to mention reap spiritual benefits.  And I believe they are more likely to play together, enjoy each other, and stay together, too!

Proverbs 17:22 says, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”

So get out there, make merry, heal a broken spirit, and build richer relationships!  Go play!

A Family Is Like a Ship


Years ago I read an article that compared a family to a ship.  Although I don’t agree with everything he teaches, I found the article Jumping Ship (Part 2):  Stagnant and Unpromising  by Michael Pearl very intriguing.  He likens the family to a ship with a captain and a crew.  Each ship may be different, but in order to keep its crew, it needs to have a clear purpose with each member involved in fulfilling its mission and reaching its destination.  And it must provide some source of entertainment along with rewarding labor.  If the crew sees other ships passing by that appear to be going somewhere while they just float along or remain stagnant… or if they notice the crews on other ships having fun while they seem to just work or have nothing to do, the captain risks having them jump overboard to join other ships that actually appear to be enjoyably going somewhere.  I realized this could apply to church families as well.

How’s your crew?  Are they looking to book passage on a different ship, or do they have the confidence to believe their ship is going somewhere and doing something worthwhile?

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