What I Know About Problems

Your problem may not be a problem

Your problem may seem bigger than it is

Your problem may not be your problem

Your problem may not take as long as you think it will

Your problem may add something to your life rather than subtract

Your problem may be a miracle in disguise

Everyone has problems

God cares about your problems

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Guest Post on Parenting

From For Journey’s Sake, Niki French writes, Today, I am honored to have Jim Laudell, author of several books including his latest Highpoints, to be our guest in our Parenting a La Mode series.  I have known the Laudell family for more than thirty years and have had the privilege of watching their children grow into Godly, productive, a la mode adults.  To find out more, you may read the introduction to this series here or how to receive Summa cum Laude honors in your parenting here.
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Parenting Faux Pas  
(false step) by Jim Laudell
I did something so crazy and I paid for it. While taking a day off from a ministry trip in Cuiaba, Brazil, a few of us took an hour long drive to a waterfall, called in Portuguese, Cachoeira Véu da Noiva (Bride’s Veil Waterfall). While moving around the waterfall I accidentally slipped on the moistened path and slid over the cliff, down nearly 40 feet. I landed on a jutted rock protruding out of the rock face or I would have fallen to my death in the cavern 100s of feet below. I was bloodied and muddied. My clothes were torn but I managed to climb out on the rock face back to a safe landing.
I have tried to watch my steps with much more caution since but my greatest fear of falling wasn’t a cliff in Brazil but right in my own home. Being a father of a beautiful daughter and a remarkable son, making a false step or failure and obstructing their own path were my greatest fear. I didn’t want to mess up in front of my kids, with their watchful eyes and impressionable little hearts desiring to walk right, talk right and live right.
Now my son and daughter are both married with children of their own and here are a few cautious steps for fathers with faltering feet:
Pray With Your Children Daily
Every night before bed we would tell a bedtime story, take prayer requests of needs and pray with them and for them. Sometimes we would pray for the neighbor boy who fell off his bike or for an upcoming test at school, or for a boo-boo on the knee but we took each request seriously and often asked them to pray over the needs. As they grew older we continued our tradition to take every need to God in prayer.
Admit Your Mistakes And Allow Them To Make Mistakes
As a busy pastor, father and writer I made my share of mistakes with my children. Kneeling before them with tears in my heart and a humble heart, asking them to forgive me for my attitude, my stress, my anger or whatever it was usually brought a quick hug and a smile. My children made their mistakes but after correction they usually received a quick hug and a smile too.
Ask God To Help You
For a man to go into a private room; kneel on his knees and ask God, “Help me to be the father you want me to be,” is a life saver and life changer. You may not be perfect but your family isn’t looking for a perfect father but for an intentional father.
Spend Prime Time With Your Family
Prime time is the great reducer. A parent will spend less time in correction when you have spent more time together as a family. The more fun you have together the less problems you will have together. Positive outweighs the negative. When you merit the positive you won’t spend a lot of time and effort enforcing rules to contain the negative. Applaud their greatness with balanced discipline for disobedience.
Lead Them In The Right Direction; 
Don’t Just Point Them In The Right Direction
Mental, physical and spiritual life isn’t instruction as much as example. Children follow patterns more than words. They are classic imitators. To have a good attitude will breed a good attitude. Praise – they will learn to praise. Follow good habits and they will create good habits. Lead them and tell them – you will be happy with the results.
Love Them And Tell Them Every Day
Whether infants, toddlers, elementary, adolescent, or teens, one thing is necessary on a consistent and intentional basis – love. Show them, tell them and express it. For a father the best thing you can do is show your children how much you love their mother. We are a huggy family; we like to hug each other frequently. Even though my son and daughter are grown with children of their own when we go into their house, everyone gets a hug. A heartfelt hug can change everything.
Even though we were not perfect parents we are enjoying the fruit of a life well lived and
my son and daughter are now following these tips with their children.

Change Your Marriage This Week

Picture1Sitting with seven men , some married 35 years, another over 12 years, another near 25 years, one guy only married for 2 and a half years. We were discussing ways to increase the “bond” between a husband and a wife. The answers were astounding. These guys were awesome as they planned how to show their wife, without a doubt, they were madly in love with her.

Smart husband #1 suggested spending quality time together; both had conflicting job schedules, so they had to configure date nights, family time and private time. This special time together became a priority in their marriage. Wether it was getting a babysitter while they went out to eat, took a walk together or had coffee together on breaks, they passionately planned their next time they would spend together.

Smart husband #2 suggested “courting” often. Courting is often used in southern states and simply implies dating with the attitude of creating a lifelong relationship, instead of a casual dating relationship. He and his wife frequently have “date nights” where they have a conversation, look into each other’s eyes, (with their cell phones off), and they express their feelings of love for each other.

Smart husband #3 offered “quick forgiveness.” Whenever there is a conflict or disagreement forgive quickly. Remember, he stated, “Love is the union of two good forgivers.” Marriage is not without its conflict but love is the ability to forgive the one you love quickly. Don’t go to bed mad. Get it settled so frustration doesn’t build up.

Smart husband #4 wisely commented he finds reading the Word of God and praying everyday, keeps him accountable to his wife. “God speaks to me about the kind of husband I need to be.” God helps me express my love to my wife and show her I love her. My relationship with God develops a strong bond between us.

Smart husband #5 after two and a half years of marriage I tell her often how much I love her. She loves to hear it. I say, “I Love You,” with my eyes and my heart.

Smart Husband #6 humbly admitted he started helping around the house, running a vacuum cleaner or wishing the dishes, without bragging about it. When we work together she knows it is because I love her.

Smart husband #7 finished with, I text her or call her often to let he know how much I am thinking of her throughout the day. She is foremost on my mind. She knows she is the queen of my heart because I keep in touch with her feelings.

Normal guys with smart ideas. why not put these into action and become part of the smart husband group?

Comment: What would you add to the list?

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author

One Thing That Will Depreciate Your Life

angerOf all the little quirks, habits, inconsistencies or sins that will divert, depreciate or even, destroy your life, it is this one thing. One little thing, Solomon illustrates, “The little foxes destroy the vine.” Little yet it grows. Little yet so deceitful. Little yet so big.

Pride! Pride steals attention from the real important to the less important. Pride diverts “them” to “me.” Pride steals joy when I can’t get my way or when I can’t get enough attention. Pride demands I spend countless hours adding up my injustices. Pride will demeanor my friendships. Pride is selfish. Pride lacks love.

Self defence doesn’t have to be love but jealousy, revenge, anger and lust often flow from pride. I want my way and I want it now. Pride is an evil task master. However. dressing nice is not always pride, a handsome dude or a beautiful woman is not always pride. A nice home, clean car, money in the bank is not pride, no, but it can be. If I count the lowly as unimportant. If I snicker at the poor or quickly pass by the hurting; you definitely don’t want to be caught in the same company as such, that’s pride.

Without sounding too preachy; let’s choose out the anti-pride actions:

Pride is destroyed when you forgive. While pride keeps us from forgiveness – a forgiving heart will keep us from pride.

Talk to children. They are people too. Very important people.

Don’t be afraid to have a decent conversation with a poor man. in fact, we can go the extra mile by taking him a gift or a plate of food during the holidays, (or, any day for that matter).

Laugh with everyone and laugh at no one. Pride makes us think we are better than everyone else – sorry, but we are equal – not better.

Respect everyone regardless of race, creed, religion or sex. You don’t have to agree with them but we must respect them.

Let compassion show in your eyes, heart and actions. Pride says don’t get involved.

Go above and beyond for your enemies. Just because someone doesn’t like you doesn’t mean you must try the rest of your life to “get them to like you” but you can rise above their attitude, swallow pride, and show them kindness, respect and care.

Pride is not a good guide – follow your heart. Pride will redirect a person from his real friends when his pride is hurt. Go forward – be a friend with a great attitude.

Pride is not a loss of conviction but a heightened sense of self-awareness. Teenage girls play this game; if you like them, you don’t like me. Transferring this game into adulthood is childish.

Prayer is a selfless path. The more a person prays the more they are concerned about others and less about themself.

Order the book, Highpoints, For those Who Dare to Climb, at www.highpointbook.com

Comment: Has pride ever grabbed you? How did you let it go?

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author

Four Life Changing Prayers

prayer

Prayer has often been reduced to a cry for help, a list of wants or a plea for mercy. These types of prayer are not wrong in their nature but may be wrong chronologically. If we choose to make life changing decisions about life changing direction then we must learn how to pray life changing prayers.

Make me The prodigal son left home demanding, “Give me!” But came home crying, “Make me.”  A humble fall will melt our demanding heart into a quiet plea, “God, make me into the person you want me to be.”

Use me The complete satisfaction we look for is not found in serving ourself but serving others.  Finding your exact gift, purpose and life service results in personal joy and completeness.     

Forgive Me We need to let go. Get it off your chest. Jesus, forgive me. Let it go!

Bless me It is in the heart of God to bless you more than you can believe for. God wills to bless you with good. You are the apple of His eye and He desires to bless you with His presence. Simply cry out in a still small voice “Jesus, bless me now.”

Comment: Has this blog helped you today?

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author

The Little Things

The picture at the left is NOT a mistake. But, let me explain. The cabin was nestled in the tall pines of east Texas, my wife was attending a ladies retreat in Ft Worth. I was spending Saturday writing, praying, drinking coffee and writing – it was a unique benefit – a great day – except for one thing.

The day started with a cool 42 degrees; breakfast and fellowship with a neighboring pastor was exceptional. Jogging down an old country road was invigorating and the peace and quiet was exactly what I wanted and needed except for one thing.

 It is amazing that one thing can cause such aggravation. One, small thing, so annoying. One insignificant frustration so attention-getting. Yes, a fly.

 I would close my eyes for a moment and he landed on my nose. I was reading and he landed on my hand. Drinking coffee and he would sit on the rim of my cup.

 It reminded me of a story I had read; about a teacher who held a white paper up with a small black dot in the center. She asked the class what did they see and unanimously they replied, “we see a small black dot.” The teacher replied, “that is what is keeping you back from accomplishing great things in life – none of you recognized the most obvious – the white paper.”

The fly asks, no, demands attention. Without a fly swatter, we swing, swat, mutter, wave and even, scream, at the fly.

You have an entire life to accomplish your passion yet persuaded by the fly you sink into despair. You have a dream and the means surrounds you but the fly keeps you preoccupied. Your prayer is being answered today but all you see is a small black dot. The fly creates frustrating moments of interruption keeping you from focusing on your ministry, your calling and your purpose.

The fly cannot be ignored, some think he is possessed with a demon, always showing up in the most obnoxious moment. Perching just arms length away, laughing at your dilemma. The menace of your message. The wart on your writing. The stench of your story. The disruption of your dream.

Flies are frustrating. For some, just opening the door and letting him fly out makes his day and yours much more comfortable. Why not get up from your chair, open the door of faith and let the fly buzz out of your life. If not, then grab a rolled up newspaper, address the problem for what it is and swat!

Habits can be dismissed. The past can be forgiven. The mind games can be conquered. The people problems can be cured.

The small, insignificant dot can be swallowed up into a mass of white.

Comment: What is a “fly” that frustrates you?

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author

A Miracle in Your Marriage

Can we expect a miracle in our marriage; when frustrations, failures and fears have a tendency to creep up in what we thought was a near perfect romance? When love spirals down and tensions spews up in tirades of anger? Can I expect the best when all I am seeing is the worse?

I think it is interesting to note the first miracle Jesus performed was at a wedding. I think it is not a coincidence but determined to prove a point.

First, to declare Jesus is as welcome in the casual atmosphere of life as He is in the stately worship of a Sunday service. We find Jesus in a stable, at the seashore with fishermen, at dinner with a tax collector, walking through a vineyard, sitting on a mountainside and visiting in people’s homes. Jesus feels at home in our home if you simply welcome Him into your home.

Secondly, Jesus was at the wedding to exhibit His miracle-working power. Jesus worked a miracle at a wedding and He is still working miracles in marriages today. If Jesus can turn water into wine at a wedding then He can turn friction into love, anger into respect and separation into togetherness. Marriage is a trinity including husband, wife and Jesus; without Jesus, your marriage is incomplete. But miracles still happen in marriages. A couple who had been separated by bitter and hateful words is making a go of it again. A couple’s heated argument was changed into trust and honor. Yes, Jesus can still work a miracle in your marriage.

Thirdly, the story reveals Jesus asked for vessels of water so He could change them to wine. God changes circumstances but mostly, changes people. Bring yourself into the arms of Jesus and experience a Divine change today.

Sound like a fairy tale? Here are some practical steps to marriage miracles:

Be thankful True gratitude can open the hardest of hearts. Instead of trying to change each other be thankful for those virtues that brought you together in the first place. Your “first love” was based on attraction – dig those up from your hidden memory and be outspoken in your gratitude for each of these. Express your thanks be writing a note, a phone call in the middle of a busy afternoon, or at dinner time.

Be prayerful Prayer is the key to every marriage. Pray for your wife/husband for extra strength and love. Pray for yourself that you would become the kind of husband/wife God would be pleased with. Prayer will soften your heart and your spouse.

Be kind Kindness can get more do through one single act than a million complaints. No greater attribute in marriage can get more done. It may take time but its results are astounding. Don’t give to get and don’t expect kindness in return, just make it your common virtue.

Be respectful Men marry for respect, honor and regard – to compliment a man is like adding a deposit to your savings account, it will build with interest. Women marry for love and to support her with a sense of security and one to one attention will build a lifelong marriage.

Be real Dishonesty breaks the strongest marriage. Real relationships are built on trust – once broken, it make takes months or years to repair. Cover ups and hidden deceit break the back bone of love. Be honest, transparent and humble and watch miracles happen in your marriage.

Comment: What is another change you can invoke into your marriage?

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author

Change Your Marriage This Week

I want a better marriage! The stone faced couple sat in front of me with tear filled eyes. They were hurt and wounded but lacked the wisdom to turn their marriage around. “Do you have a checkbook?” After they answered, taking the checkbook I explained, taking withdrawals without deposits would soon cost them more, with bank charges, then they originally had. Do you wish to have the marriage you had when you first married? They both answered an emphatic , “Yes!”

The reason for our “first love” immensity is the amount of deposits we put into the love scenario. The more you put into the marriage – the more you are able to withdrawal. Both had been taking out of the marriage without any deposits into the marriage.

Maybe you find yourself in this same predicament. You see the both of you taking out of the marriage but not putting anything back. Here are a few deposits you must put into the marriage “checking account” today.

Compliment Giving your spouse a genuine and sincere complement is like filling up the gas tank – you can go a long ways on one compliment. Giving a heartfelt, “Wow! that was a great dinner.” “Wow! you sure look great today.” “Wow! you are the best ever.” The “wow!” compliments can change a marriage from bad to good or from good to great in a matter of days but don’t give and expect a “wow!” back. Simply give the compliment without an expected return of a compliment.

Care Giving a few simply “love pats” throughout the day lets your spouse know you acknowledge their presence. These touches should accumulate approximately seven a day to sufficiently express your thoughts and actions towards your spouse. “Love pats” can be a soft shoulder rub, a hug, a kiss on the check, holding their hand or a pat on the shoulder or back. Theses are nonsexual and not to be considered as an advance but simply a “love pat” of acknowledgement and love.

Considerate Ask honest and open-ended questions about their day, or how they feel or what’s on their mind and get ready to listen. Listening is the lost art of love in many marriages. Focus your eyes, attention and heart on the one speaking. Show concern and be considerate. Husbands, you are not fixing the problem (my greatest fault) but you are simply listening and being considerate of their “bad day” experiences. You are feeling for them not fixing them.

Combine Work together. Worship together. Have fun together. Work in the yard together. Clean house together. Wash dishes together. Go on a walk together. Date, of course, together. Go to a coffee shop together. Go on a drive through the country together. Plan your vacation together. You get the picture – combine your efforts into one goal.

Call Whether you are on a business trip or working in your office – send your spouse a text message or call just to say, “I love you.” Write a note and leave it for him/her when they open their lunch sack. Throughout the day let your spouse know you are thinking of them.

Complete God is the glue of the marriage and prayer is the application of the glue. To complete a marriage you must pray together. I pray, “Help me, Lord, to be the kind of husband you would be proud of.” My wife prays, “Help me, Lord, be the kind of wife you would be proud of.” We ask each other to forgive us for words, thoughts or actions that are creating friction rather than a loving environment. we pray together, “Lord, bless our marriage as an inspiration to others.”

Comment: What are some deposits you make in your marriage that would be helpful to others?

Copyright by Jim Laudell.  Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author.

A Hollow Victory

Bill and Bob had been best friends for years until they discovered their drastic differences concerning a teenager who had taken out Bill’s mailbox with a speedy exit out of his driveway across the street. The neighbor’s offered to pay for Bill’s mailbox and any damage to the yard but Bill wanted to press charges. When Bill expressed his anger to Bob, Bob simply said, “Let it go!” This statement was taken by Bill to be insensitive and one-sided and enraged Bill, to the point Bill and Bob haven’t talked in a few days. Finally Bob went to Bill’s house and told Bill what an immature, spoiled brat he had become, forgetting his own ridiculous teenage years and his actions was dividing the neighborhood. Bill finally dropped all the charges but Bob and Bill are no longer best friends. Bob won the argument but lost a friend – a hollow victory.

Proverbs 6:3 Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself, when thou art come into the hand of thy friend; go, humble thyself, and make sure thy friend.

Someone once said, “Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other is gold.” A good friend is hard to find and a new friend doesn’t have the ties of loyalty as the old friend but certainly may offer new perspective. But to win an argument and to lose a friend is a shallow victory and mostly, hollow. We grieve more than we gain.

Certainly a friend is need is a friend indeed but what happens when friends disagree?

Don’t Count Wins and Loses When friends disagree there is no winners and losers – both lose. There are some things in life you will not agree on but there are other things in life too precious to compromise on. If you must stand – stand your ground but give room for your friend to stand nearby.

Maintain Your Respect for Your Friend The minute the disagreement turns into shouting, someone getting mad, hanging up the phone or slander – BOTH have lost the argument. Keep a respect for the friend you have maintained over the years and keep them in high honor.

Understand We May Not Understand No matter what side of the fence you are on realize you may be on the wrong side of the fence. Opinions are just opinions. Keep yourself clear of making a false judgement. Before we judge makes sure ALL the facts are in.

Paint Your Friend in a Good Light Talking against a friend to another friend is called,  friendacide. Life is too short to kill off our friends so easily. No matter what the disagreement or stand down; keep painting your friend in a good light – one day they will recognize what you did for them.

Give Until it Hurts Compromise on non essentials is not a loss but a gain. Bring your friend a gift, speak softly, and show extreme sensitivity and concern for them as a a person. Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. Giving makes way for a friend.

Pray Together Nothing will soften our stand against another like praying together. Humble admitting our own faults and failures and reaching for the hand of a friend to bring them into reconciliation. A hug maybe temporary but prayer is eternal – pray together.

Comment: How do you keep your friends when there is a serious disagreement?

Copyright by Jim Laudell.  Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author.

My Daily Prayer Place

Early morning prayer can be a delight instead of a duty is you will simply follow these few simple steps to a close and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Everyone is busy, rushed, and tightly scheduled but amid the noise of a world of clamour there is a silence, a peace and a solace, God wishes to impart into every heart and mind. Some will spend five minutes but others will launch into an hour or more but to be productive and regular you may need to implement a few short steps.

Sometimes a husband and wife will spend some prayer time together but today I want to emphasize a private and personal time in prayer.

Journal Grab a journal or small notepad and record a Bible verse that stands out to you this morning or maybe a song. Scribble down your most pressing prayer requests or needs. Then, write down the answers to prayer or your praise. I started a prayer journal while in college and while not writing in it everyday – I have found time to make a few notes from time to time to help me focus on what is most important during my prayer time and what I should remember to praise Him for the answers already received.

Schedule Some people have been known to actually put GOD on their calendar at a specified time. Others, grab a cup of coffee, and head to their favorite spot in the morning, others like the quiet hours of the evening before bed for their personal quiet time with God. Whatever time you choose be sure and schedule it each day so you can have a set time that comes to mind.

Plan While praying go from praying for family to friends to your future. Pray God will illuminate your present steps and give you wisdom for your tomorrows. Repent, repair and revive as you press into the presence of God. Tell Jesus you love Him and let Him know you intensely desire to walk each day in a Christlike spirit. You may not need a plan but this way you won’t forget to pray for a friend that requested your prayers yesterday. Just simply jot down a few necessary items before going to prayer or building a list throughout the day to take with you to your prayer spot. Sometimes my prayers are scattered without a planned prayer list.

Practice You will always get better at the things you do the most. Prayer, like any other Christian discipline, takes practice to perfect. If you miss a day simply pick up the next day but you will notice an ease at coming to the prayer spot each day. You may want to begin your prayer time with a devotional to put your heart in a good frame of mind.

Place To have a private prayer place allows for you to quietly and quickly slip in and experience your meeting place with God each day. Make sure your private place is free from magazines, a stack of mail, your computer or other distractions. The bedroom, the living room, a back porch, your office, wherever it is, go to an undistracted place that says to you, this is my private place with God.

Comment: Do you have something you do in your private prayer time that is not mentioned above?

Copyright by Jim Laudell.  Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author.