"I can live for a month on a good compliment." -Will Rogers
A quick post on a golden nugget that has been told to me by multiple people in 2016 and I have found to dramaticly be effective:
Affirming improves us, other people and relationships.
As women motivate their man in positive ways, men are energized to love them better. When men affirm their lady, she is brightens up. Men need respect in order to love, women need love in order to respect" from the book "Love and Respect" by Dr Emerson Eggerichs.
If your marriage or any other relationship could use some hope, try affirming. Write yourself reminder notes, set reminders on your phone--whatever it takes! We need reminders because this typically isn't the norm for most people. It doesn’t matter if the relationship is good or seems like there is no hope--affirming helps! After all, who doesn't want to be loved and appreciated?
The Christmas Story
Pastor Steve Carter's message at church this morning inspired this blog entry. You can view Steve's message "The Christmas Story" at: https://willowcreek.tv/
It's said that many have viewed God in the same way they view or think of their earthly father. For some of us that is a great picture, but for the majority, it's not a pretty site. It's a great reminder to Dads of how vital their role is in setting examples. For me, this great responsibility is a tough one because right away I think of my shortcomings: I have been strict with my son, demanding, critical, seeing his mistakes over the good he does, and so on.
Regardless of how your father was or is in modeling Christ love, God is so much better. If your Dad is your #1 hero, God is so much better. If your Dad isn't a Dad at all to you, God is your Dad, and He yearns to hear from you--to be in relationship with you. Whatever you didn't receive from your earthly father, you can receive from your Father in Heaven. Relationships are what matter to God most, and you aren't an exception.
The story of Christmas is God left Heaven for earth, why? Relationships! He knew that because of sin, without His son Jesus, a sin free sacrifice, we could never have a relationship with him. Here are a couple of reminders on that entrance:
1. A young girl, about a sophomore in high school, gave birth to the son of God. #EveryoneMatters
2. God chose to leave Heaven to enter the world in the form of a baby, born in a barn, surrounded by animals. #humility
Based on the two reminders, it's clearly evident that God's power and greatness works in "less than ideal" circumstances. Imagine, being Mary for a moment: a young virgin girl that has become pregnant, while living in a culture where not being pregnant by her husband meant shame, embarrassment, betrayal or even death--stoned for adultery. Can you imagine what your feelings may have been if you were Mary or Joseph? When we have fear and worry rising up to take over, we need to remember God is there, waiting in less than ideal circumstances. He still does miracles in those situations. After all, Jesus was born in less than ideal circumstances. Not only can God can do great in less than ideal circumstances, His power and greatness works best in the messy, the less than ideal. No matter where you are today, His grace goes out to those in the "less than ideal".
Christmas is for me, but not just for me, Christmas is for you, but not just for you. Christmas is for everyone, always!
The great message of Christmas is that Jesus chose to humble himself for you. Scripture tells us: "Christ himself was like God in everything. But he did not think that being equal with God was something to be used for his own benefit. But he gave up his place with God and made himself nothing. He was born as a man and became like a servant. And when he was living as a man, he humbled himself and was fully obedient to God, even when that caused his death—death on a cross. -Phil. 2:6-8
"So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them"
Spiritual gifts are those things that come natural, the things that are easy for us to do. Those gifts are things God has put in us for His purpose. A pastor probably has the gift of public speaking, faith, teaching and/or leadership. He uses those gifts to love others and for God. A few of my gifts are: hospitality, discernment, creative communication. Hosting strangers at our bed & breakfast and communicating are very easy for me, and come naturally. I am frequently commented on my hospitality and detail communication. Yes, discernment probably comes easier than I realize, but I'm not as convinced on that one yet! :-)
Gifts from God vary person-to-person, but they are put in us by God, to be used for God. God has put the gift of encouragement in my wife. She feels loved when others give her words of affirmation and she loves others well by giving words of affirmation. I do not love others well with my words. Maybe sometimes, but not even close to the level that Jenn does. I love others best by spending time with them and helping them. I feel loved when someone helps me and so I easily love others by helping them. God uses both of our lives for His purpose. An easy example: I was feeling down this Father's Day, a somewhat typical thing for me, but much more elevated this year for some reason. Along with missing my Dad, the factors that contributed tiredness, love tank empty from Chris not taking care of Chris. Even after church and a great sermon by John Maxwell, I was down. When we got home from church, Jenn and my son Luke read letters to me--showering love, gratitude and their thankfulness for me over my soul. It was a difference maker! God used their two lives to bless me when I was feeling blue.That was God putting gifts in them, using them to bless me. Another example: A friend I'll call John Doe to save embarrassment, recently told me in the presence of others how my presence of time and acts of service had been a difference in his time of need. God put gifts in me and used me to bless someone else in their time of need. That's God putting gifts in us, to be used by God for His purpose.
To discover your spiritual gifts, take a simple quiz like this one or simple google: "Spiritual Gifts Test" to find other test more to your liking.
Facebook: Chris Chaffin
Last December, Willow Creek Community Church teaching Pastor Steve Carter did a sermon titled, “Can You Name Your Mountain?” In that message, Steve’s challenge was to identify the thing, the issue that had plagued us or haunted you. That thing that has been dominant for awhile, the thing that we wish didn’t exist or wasn’t our struggle. It's the thing you know about and even your friends and family can identify with you. Instead of dealing with the issue, you've been like the Israelites that circled the mountain for 40 years. Steve wrapped up his sermon citing Deuteronomy 1:6 “You have stayed at this mountain long enough--now move”
That sermon on December 27th 2015 was the beginning of me addressing my mountain. It was easy for me to name my mountain. I told close family and friends that in 2016 I was going to put my time and effort into conquering my mountain of “Anger”.
Prior to Recover, I had blindly told close friends: my men's group and our couples small group, “Anger would always be a part of who I am”. I suggested that, “my anger may get better, but angry is always who I will be.” Well, God has truly made me a believer in Him! A believer in His power to break chains and change lives if I would have a little faith and put in some effort.
Today, the daily anger I carried, battled and lashed out to others is basically non-existent. I still get triggered, but now I am educated on how to handle my frustration, instead of reacting. My response when I'm triggered is now much healthier and doesn’t dominate the rest of my day, my thinking---it doesn't dominate me nothing like it used to.
Along with setting me free from anger, some of my other issues God has used Recover to help me with: people-pleasing, low self-esteem & low self-worth, co-dependency, controlling tendencies and overcoming fears. Prior to Recover, I and some close to me believed I was fearless. I used to laugh and poke fun of people that struggled with what I called irrational or silly fears. But Recover revealed the truth that I also had fears and they weren't silly, but just differed from those other people struggled with. My fears were centered around control and pain: fears of not being in charge, fear of myself failing, fear of the possibility of seeing loved ones fail, and my fear of getting too close to other people--because I also battle co-depency. Meaning when I get close to people, I would want to "fix" them, tell them what they should do, etc. Today, I know that I don't need to be in control, it's ok to fail and it's not my job to try to fix anyone because I can't.
Today, I’m so thankful and very humbled that God has taken away the demons of anger that haunted me daily and has made me into a man that has more joy, more peace, more acceptance, is more realistic, more graceful, less fearful, less controlling, a totally happier person and to quote my wife, “Certainly more loving.” Certainly more loving is what she sees, but the beauty of Recover is "certainly more loving" is what I now feel on a daily basis. I tell people that the decision I made to come to Recover, I put in the top 2 best decisions I’ve ever made. And here’s why I say that: when I came to Recover, my anger prevented me from loving my family remotely close to how I am commanded to do or even close to how I wanted to. Because before going to Recover the truth is I didn’t love myself, therefore I couldn’t love others. Imagine living everyday not loving yourself, who you are, living with what you’ve done in the past define you are. It's depressing and tiring carrying all that shame and carrying all the anger I had to others due to how I had been hurt by them. Hurts they may be aware of, most hurts they probaly aren't even aware of. Yes, angry at others, bitter towards others and unforgiving is who I was and who did it hurt? Me! No one else, just me. Why would I want to bring that upon myself? Today, I'm living daily with a new mind, set free from all the garbage I carried and having the ability to love myself is why I make Recover one of the best decisions I have made.
Now the best part: God took down and broken Chris, and made me new. That would have been enough. If that’s all God did for me on this 11 month old journey--I would have been grateful. But He’s blessed me more! My wife saw the improvements God was making in me, so she chose to start attending Recover. She is now in a step-study, working on her inventory and I have gotten to witness vast improvements God is doing in her, which has lead us to having the best relationship we ever thought was possible.
And with that, I’ll pass!
My wife deserves a great husband and I don't want her to get another one. My son deserves a great Dad and he can't go get another one.
Like me, you may have many, many responsibilities, titles, projects and happenings going on year-round or maybe it comes and goes for you - your busyiness is extra crazy just in a certain season for you. Some seasonal outdoor workers get to slow down or take advantage of having some extra days off as the snow and cold approaches. Others of us ramp up towards the end of the year: year end meetings, taking clients to dinner, next years department goals, maybe getting a head start on business taxes, work parties, church parties, charity holiday gatherings, gatherings with friends & neighbors, ordering and mailing Christmas cards, extra family activities such as Christmas light seeing or ice skating, volunteering, gift shopping, Christmas programs and of course breakfast with Santa. This comes along with the norm: 8-12 hour a day job duties, going to kids ball games & performances, taking kids to events, vehicle maintence, cooking dinner, laundry, cleaning house, paying bills, etc. Isn't it no wonder that health studies show that the final eight weeks of the year can be burdensom?
The list above has some fun things, some honorable activities, some are just life's stuff, and many are good things or lead to good times - but are they the best things? Do good things in life keep you from the best things in life? Being honest, I have to say, "yes-I have been guilty of letting a whole lot of good things trump the best things for me". For various reasons, such as anger, seeking affirmation and people pleasing - I struggled to set boundaries to protect myself from burnout. I neglected rest, stillness, peace, quiet, love, family, friends, so that I could over-work, over-volunteer, help those outside my inner circle. God and my family received my leftovers: the little time I had left over for them - you know come home late, tired, hungry, sore, grouchy, running on "E". Then I'd ask God: "please help me do it all over again tomorrow cause right now I'm drained." Those I loved most received the least from me: time, love, affirmation, joy, etc.
Pastor Bill Hybels has preached to Willow Creek Community Church several times and at least the last couples years, on the importance of our calendar. Those sermons are full of great nuggets, but Bill's overall and bottom line point is: "Our calendar should reflect who we want to become, rather than what we want to get done." If I want to gain a degree- school becomes a priority on my calendar. If I want to richen a certain relationship with a friend - I put their name on my calendar. If I want to become wise - reading books goes on my calendar. If I want to become more loving - church, counseling and reading may go on my calendar. Get the point?
So, who do you want to be? Maybe you are already there, and if you are that's great! I suspect many of us are more like me and aren't quite there yet. As a husband and a Dad, I want to do those two things great. Not perfect, but I want to give my all. I want to give my best towards being the best husband and father I can be. My wife deserves a great husband and I don't want her to go get another one, and my son deserves a great Dad and he can't go get another one. On my deathbed I want to be able to look back and say, "I didn't start out great, but with God's help I turned it around and then I gave them my best."
In a near-future blog post, I will share a guide to help spouses and parents in being more intentional in loving their family well. From my experiences and discussions, most of us go through life without a plan of who we want to be or who we want to become. We focus much more on what we want to accomplish instead. And in life, when we get down to it - who we are or who we become is much more important than what we do. And I cannot think of anything better to impact ourselves and our world that being or becoming a great spouse and a great parent.
Chris & Jenn live in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. They were high school sweethearts, marrying in 2001. They are parents to one son, Luke (born November 1999) and two loving pups: Miley & Elsie.