The driver of tomorrow is not thinking Green...

The driver of tomorrow is not thinking Green...
He's thinking Classic. (click on photo)


Blog Archive

Dec 16, 2011

The Plight before Christmas: Weisenburger


‘Tis the month before Christmas and all through the house,
Our two teens leave gift lists for me and my spouse.

They scribble and write, compose and compare,
In hopes that St. Nick has some big bucks to spare!

But Dad with his wallet and I with my purse,
Realize things have taken a turn for the worse.
Their lists once contained things that we could afford
But as they have grown, so the prices have soared!

Tinker toys and legos have all been replaced,
And items like play doh are simply erased.
Where once there was Elmo, and Big Bird and Pooh,
There’s now a cell phone, and an ipod too.

Gone are the days of toy cars and doll beds,
When visions of sugarplums danced in their heads.
Now they dream of two laptops (one’s hers; one’s his)
And something called a jump drive-- who knows what that is?!

It’s CDs, and sweaters, and watches and rings,
Computer and Play Station Games of all things.
A DVD burner will do just the trick,
Do they think money grows on trees for St. Nick??

More rapid than reindeer the items ring up,
We’ll have to get second and third jobs to keep up!
The deadlines draw nearer, the panic sets in,
I won’t get it all done! Where do I begin?!

Away to the bank I will fly like a flash,
To get an infusion of much-needed cash.
And what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a bottom line that’s already too bottom-near.

There’s a twitch in my eye and an ache in my head,
Will my checkbook emerge alive or dead?
Which things do I get, for whom and how many?
Excess cash? I sure don’t have any!

So I think for a minute, and then start to smile--
The answer’s been with me, there all the while.

I take a deep breath and I slow myself down;
I cancel more plans to go into town.

Then I gather my children and with hugs and a kiss,
I remind them it’s not about presents and lists.

It’s about friends and family, and laughter and love,
And the blessings we’re given from God up above.

No matter what’s wished for or what gifts are sought,
Christmas is not about things that we’ve bought.

In the midst of the frenzy and the lure of the mall,
We shouldn’t forget….the greatest Gift of all.

So our presents get pared down to just two or three,
We’ll wrap them with love and place them under the tree.

And then I’ll exclaim ‘ere I turn in for the night,

“Happy Christmas to all, and….. may we all get it right!”

Copyright ©2008 Mary Beth Weisenburger All Rights Reserved.

You might be a parent of a teenager...


Though I have only been living with teenagers for three years and am in no way an expert on adolescents, I have learned a thing or two about the metamorphosis from innocent tween to full-blown teen status. It can be a subtle shift, a change that sneaks up on you without advance notice. But there are some clear warning signs that signal you are now living with a teen. As a public service, I am offering the following easy assessment tool for any parent to use if for some reason you are not sure you have become the parent of a genuine, bona fide teenager.
You might be the parent of a teenager…

…If you spend more money every month on groceries, mainly consisting of pop-tarts, frozen pizza, ramen noodles, Doritos and chicken pot pies, than the Gross National Product of several third world countries;
…If you attempt to open the door to your child’s room and your entry is blocked by a mountain of wet bath towels;
…If you have suddenly lost all ability to make sense, your IQ has dropped dramatically and at times your attempts at civil conversation are considered so lame that you deserve only an eye roll in response.
You might be the parent of a teenager if you have to fight for time on your own computer.

You might be the parent of a teenager if your makeup, hair brushes and hair spray regularly disappears. Even if you only have sons.

You might be the parent of a teenager if your car’s gas tank is perpetually on empty, and can probably drive itself to the gym, the school and the pizza place on command.

If you have recently purchased any electronic item that starts with a lower case “i”, had to ask someone to explain what the initials BRB, LOL and TTYL mean; bought 3 pairs of tennis shoes in 3 different sizes in one year for the same child; and you hear a “cha-ching” sound in your head and automatically reach for your wallet whenever they approach, you might be the parent of a teenager.

You might be the parent of a teenager if you can’t get your kids to go to bed at night or get up in the morning; the decibel level for simple questions such as “Do we have any milk?” rivals that of the landing strip at O’Hare airport; and you have often chosen to completely discard an item of clothing that has resided in the dark, dingy corners of a gym bag for far too long rather than let it contaminate an entire load of wash.

This is not an all-inclusive list, of course. I have heard other descriptions that include things like body jewelry and tattoos. But, if you feel compelled to cut out this article and hang it on your refrigerator door, amidst Zits cartoons, orthodontist appointment cards and the outrageous car insurance bill, well, congratulations my friend. You truly are the parent of a teenager.

Mary Beth Weisenburger lives in Putnam County with her husband and two authentic, full-blown teenagers.

Ken Davis: Grandparents

"I have granddaughters. When they enter the room, they run straight to me. They fly through the air, on angel wings, on fairy wings. I scoop them up and they whisper in my ear "I love you Grandpa".

I have 2 demon possessed Grandsons. They do not fly through the air, they do not slow down, they don't leave the ground. 65 miles per hour - they put their head down. "What's wrong?" they ask. "Grandpa has fallen and can't get up". There is nothing so painful as being greeted by your grandsons.

Grandchildren attack without warning - and I love every minute of it."

Ken Davis, Comedian - Lighten Up & Live

Dec 2, 2011

Adam Carolla's Occupy Wall Street Rant

I'm not familiar with this guy. But I heard a snippet of his rant on Dori Monson today, complete with beep, beep, beep & agreed deeply with his points. We are raising and living with a self entitled environment. And it's making us weak as a nation, as a society, as humans.

Song of the Day: All I Want - Chapman

Hedy Lamarr: Genius

Nov 11, 2011

Why children don't tell

This was my response to Dave Ross making a direct connection to sexually abused kids and it pointing to something wrong at home, because kids don't go & tell their parents what's going on.

The guy was preying on children at an age that weren't quite aware of sexuality and what that all entails. If you have any knowledge of sexual predator behavior, they are very sly. This guy was typical. Centered himself with kids, parents automatically "trusted" him with their kids because of the U, the program, his fame. Abuse, sexual abuse especially, is often connected with shame. These boys were at an age where either they didn't have a clue about sexuality yet (7/8) or they were JUST entering the age of perhaps, someone might have started to explain (10 years old, just entering that realm). The two eye witness sexual episodes were with 10 year old. The older kids seemed to have more of an idea what he was doing and they did extricate themselves from him and the program. I think he picked this age group because of their non understanding of what that was all about. Kids, from all sorts of homes, keep stuff from their parents. Especially if they feel like they've done something wrong. Sexual abuse victims live with shame their entire lives sometimes and often hide the event(s) for years. Good parents or not, abuse happens.

However Dave, I do agree with you that way too many fathers are abandoning their children & their responsibilities. This program was for at risk kids and probably, several sons of single mothers, who put them in this very prestigious program with well known famous coaches because they recognized their sons needed a male figure - and they probably felt lucky, blessed to have their son there. However it's wrong to make an absolute statement that any child who doesn't come forward doesn't have something solid at home. Look at the Catholic church - how many of those boys hid what was happening and probably had very devout fathers at home.

This story sickens me, not only because of the vileness of what happened, but because what does it do for all the kids out there that do have a need? How does a parent feel safe enough to send their kid to any program, religious, not religious and know their kid is okay? How many years did the church cover up their story? And look how many years this guy was allowed to continue harming & having contact with kids - both situation because of power. Unfortunately as a parent, it strips your ability to trust anyone that might be nice to your kid and as an adult, makes you shy away from volunteering in a program and/or being nice to a kid.

Sep 29, 2011

Art of Manliness: Gentlemen at the Office

The rules of business etiquette are very similar to the rules of social etiquette.

But there is a difference between the two sets of manners.

In the social sphere, the assumption is that you and your associates are equals, with some allowances made for age and sex.

The business world, on the other hand, is a hierarchy. Whether you work at a traditional, highly-stratified corporation, or a modern and casual upstart, whether the hierarchy is spelled out, or entirely unspoken, one exists. Just step on some toes and see what happens. Business etiquette dictates that employees defer to employers, sellers defer to buyers, and seekers defer to sought-afters.

This difference in the dynamic of social and business relations accounts for things like the fact that when you make introductions outside of work, you always introduce the man to the woman, while in the business world, you make introductions based on rank and importance, regardless of gender. So if you’re introducing a male CEO and a female employee, you would say, “Mr. Robert BigCheese, I would like to introduce Mrs. Samantha Underling from accounting,” rather than the other way around. (Note: if Mr. Graham was meeting a client (of either sex) as opposed to an underling, the client’s name would go first; remember, the seller defers to the buyer.)

This is also why your boss can call you by your first name, but you shouldn’t reciprocate, unless he or she has specifically invited you to drop the Mr. or Mrs.

Another difference between the rules that dictate etiquette in the social and business worlds is that in the social sphere, etiquette doesn’t necessarily have to be efficient or practical; in fact, this can be part of its charm. But in the workplace, tradition matters less and getting the job done matters more.

So for example, while in a social situation you would want to stand when a woman entered the room, at work you should rise from your desk when receiving visitors of either sex, and you shouldn’t stand up every time a female secretary or assistant walks in and out of your office.

Those caveats aside, the rules of business etiquette and social etiquette are not so different; it’s all about acting with integrity, knowing the appropriate behavior for a particular situation, behaving in ways that show respect, and treating others as you’d like to be treated.

While certain areas of business etiquette deserve their own posts, today we will outline some general dos and don’ts for being a gentleman at the office.

The Dos

Dress with respect. Be clean and presentable each and every day. Follow the office dress code at a minimum—and don’t be the guy who constantly toes the line. Of course it’s fine to dress a cut above everyone else, but just a cut. Dressing up far beyond the standard sported by everyone else will come off as putting on airs.

On another style note, while you might take off your jacket and roll up your sleeves during the day, when there are visitors present in the office or you’re receiving callers, put your jacket back on and present a professional appearance that reflects well on your company.

Come to work with teeth brushed and body washed. Your co-workers are stuck with you in a small space for eight or more hours a day. Don’t make them avoid your cubicle like the plague as they gather to discuss whether presenting you with a gift basket of soap and chewing gum would send too overt a message.

Keep things pleasant with your co-workers. Unlike friends, if things get awkward with your co-workers, you cannot choose to stop seeing them. No, cause an uncomfortable rift with a co-worker, and you’ll have to look at their contemptible face each and every day for months, and maybe years. So keep your relations with them pleasant. This means not delving too much into your private life, avoiding discussion of topics like religion and politics, and typically choosing to ignore annoying habits, rather than calling attention to them (although every man has his breaking point).

When it comes to dating at work, don’t risk it unless she’s someone you truly connect with. And if you do pursue something with a co-worker, review your company’s policy on such relationships and let HR know what’s going on.

Keep company secrets, secret. Our Wiki-leaks-loving generation tends to scoff at the notion of keeping anything secret. And yes, your company’s secrets may seem so boring or unimportant as to not even be worth the effort of keeping them under wraps. But no matter—they’re still nobody’s business. Even if the spilling of secrets doesn’t cause actual harm to your company, doing so will still make you look careless.

So keep your files tucked away when receiving visitors, guard your end of the phone conversation when a visitor is standing nearby, and if outsiders ask you questions that might reveal company secrets, simply give intentionally vague answers–never volunteer any information they could not have otherwise been gleaned from the news. If information is truly confidential, don’t send it over email. There’s no such thing as a “private” email; they can be monitored by your company, and sometimes retrieved long after they’ve been “deleted.”

Finally, don’t volunteer more information than necessary: “Dan is not in today,” not “Dan’s not here. He’s meeting with the head of mergers at Dyna Corp.”

Work with your boss—not against him. Keep him informed. Let him know when you’ve made a mistake so he doesn’t paint himself into a corner out of ignorance. Back him up–if you have concerns about something, let him know in private instead of airing your grievances at an open meeting.

When you use the last of something, replace it. Whether it’s the last paper in the copy machine or the last cup of joe in the coffee maker, don’t just walk away—replace the paper and make another pot. Ditto for copy machine paper jams—don’t whistle as you slowly slink off. Fix it.

Treat your underlings with kindness and respect. They keep the office running. And you never know if that lowly clerk will one day be your boss.

Respect the chain of command. Both up and down. Don’t step on anybody’s toes. Don’t go over your boss’s head without permission.

Hold the door for people approaching the elevator. Don’t hide in the corner while secretly wishing for the doors to close as quickly as possible.

If you’re using speaker phone, let the person(s) you’re speaking with know who else is on the call with you before you begin the conversation. That way, they will not be confused when another person’s voice suddenly pops in later on.

Bring donuts or bagels to a meeting every once in a blue moon. This is not expected of you. But if you do it, you’ll be a hero.

The Don’ts

Pass the buck. Generally, making excuses reflects more poorly on your character than admitting the mistake would have on your competence. If you blame an underling, you reveal yourself to be a mediocre leader, for you should have seen to it that the job got done correctly. If you blame an equal, you simply look like a whiner and run the risk of souring your relationship with someone with whom you’ll likely have to continue to work. And if you blame a higher-up…well common sense dictates that it’s not a good idea to anger the people who hold your job in their hands.

Come late to meetings. Your late arrival is disruptive and may prolong the meeting if they have to wait to get started until you get there or if they have to catch you up on what has already been discussed.

Linger at someone’s desk.
Nothing wrong with stopping by to say hello to your cubicle buddy. But, if after some brief chit-chat, your co-worker shows signs of trying to get back to work, move on!

Eat other people’s food. The crime that launched a thousand passive-aggressive notes.

Eavesdrop on co-workers’ private phone calls. Now obviously if someone is having a conversation a cubicle over, it’s impossible not to hear what they’re saying. But you can certainly pretend like you don’t hear. In other words, if Bob just got off the phone from having an argument with his teenage son, don’t saunter over and ask, “What’s the problem with young Johnny, Bob?” If your co-worker wants to bring up the topic with you, then let him initiate that conversation. Otherwise, consider what you heard to be off-limits.

Listen to radio/music/Youtube videos without headphones. Not everyone shares your affinity for Enya.

Let your personal life get in the way of your business life. Always maintain a business-like attitude. This doesn’t mean being cold or aloof from others. What it means is that your personal life should very rarely interfere with getting work done. Not that you can’t leave early because your kid got sick, but that you don’t come in late because you got plastered the night before, you don’t ask the boss for a raise because you just had a baby, and you don’t spend half your time at work arguing with your ex-wife about alimony payments.

Come back and visit your old office. And now we return to the point made at the beginning of the article: the business world is different from the social world. In the social sphere, when you make close relationships, the expectation is that those relationships will last no matter where life takes you. At the office, you might develop relationships that feel very close with your co-workers, but once you move on, those relationships typically do too. When you leave a company to take another job elsewhere, don’t come back to your old workplace expecting to be heralded as a long lost friend. People will find the situation a little awkward and you a good deal lame.

Sep 22, 2011

My question for President OBama

My husband and I have 5 kids together, ages 17 - 9, of which I am the sole support since my husbands industry crashed with the economy and work is not yet to be found. The State actually told me in regards to child support from my children's biological father, they wanted to create a "win-win" situation by reducing his support to basically nothing. This is suppose to not overwhelm him and give him incentive to pay something, while day in and day out, I strive to continue to provide a home and basic necessities to our children. That State told me to go to my residence State and apply for assistance for our children. Really? This is the answer? How does this possibly help our bankrupt states & country, by removing the responsibility from the citizens for their children and making it the government's responsibility to provide?

Despite this, I work very hard to find every opportunity for growth and education, around some of the failings of our own education system, for all of our children so they can grow to look beyond their own selves, to a world in which they are set to live in. We live in this place of market, market, market - we've lost the ability to provide for ourselves, produce our own food, make our own items, who sews clothes anymore?, build our own homes - and so any necessity - or any extra opportunity costs money. Driving to work costs money. Travel and commuting has become such a way of life, community is lost. Millions of people are out of work, who are skilled, who have something to offer others and yet, instead of banding together to bring our wares to the table to create community provision, we sit in our homes, wondering how we are going to purchase the next dozen eggs or put gas in our car to make it to work.

My question is not what are you directly going to do for our country. Presidents are simply human beings who are able to figure out how to get themselves elected to the head of this country. My question is where is our country going? We cannot possibly continue to spend the money we are spending. Our governments cannot possibly afford to continue providing for everyone who doesn't. There are many who choose not to, who look for handouts. We give to them and penalize those that do, that get up every day and continue to work, continue to try and educate the next generation, even though that education has a cost that may be overwhelming. Our focus as a nation in many areas has turned to MONEY. Therefore, money/economy must be created. Yet we lose our manual ability to care for ourselves and become completely reliant upon the government, who in turn, becomes bankrupt as population explodes.

There is something to be said about being able to pay your doctor bill with a chicken and working it out in the neighborhood.

What is the government going to do to unite us as the United States of America, instead of the division that is driving us apart and weakening us?

When Your Child Won't Listen - Lorri Craig

Well, I know it's a shocker, because we seem to have this family thing all figures out (NOT!) but this is an all too often problem in our household of 5 kids. From 9 to 17 and sometimes the 42 & 43 year old kids don't listen either, our kids have selective memory, selective priorities. Just last night I was venting to Ryan, "Why is it I have to ask 4 or 5 times before you do it? JUST DO IT!" To which he responded "You don't have to ask 4 or 5 times, just twice" Obviously the logic portion of his brain is still not developed and it's a good thing he said that from the other room. He's only 10 and already exhibiting his 15 year old sister's teenage feedback. I tensely responded, teeth clenched "I should only have to ask ONCE and out of the love of you heart, you should do it!". It's not as if brushing your teeth & getting ready for bed is a surprise every night of your life.

Anyway, talking with Matt this morning on the phone, I'm in the office, he's at home with our 2 youngest, he interrupts to admonish one of them for a pretty serious non listening offense. Are we normal? Does this happen in other homes? Did my parents generation and their parents generation have it figured out with corporal punishment? Sometimes, I see the advantage. Yet, having children who (please don't tell them this) are at times smarter than our aging & haggard brains, corporal punishment has been semi useless so we've changed tactics. And changed again. To just everyday parental frustration, followed by "one day they'll be gone and I'll wish for this moment back so try and enjoy important is it really... " and a million other musings. That's just me. Matt just gets by it & moves on, not lingering on the possible negative after effects into their adulthood like I stew over.

So this brings me to the article I'm sharing this morning. I LOVE her point that CHILDREN ARE NOT LITTLE ADULTS! THEY ARE KIDS! Hello!!!! I also liked her point about dealing with it calmly, quickly, efficiently and move by. One day, they will be gone so try to enjoy them through the frustration. And the strong ones? They want to not only lead their own lives, parents, teachers, friends, any human in their vicinity - they want to lead the world. Someone has to.

Most parents would agree, a child who won’t listen can be incredibly frustrating, particularly when you are trying to teach them right from wrong. How can they learn to behave if they won’t listen?

When parents complain to me that their children ‘never listen’, my usual response is a slightly cheeky, ‘Well then, stop talking so much.’ Having someone lecture at you can be very annoying, whether you are a child or an adult, so kids learn to turn off their ears and brains in response, or, worse, they defiantly rebel.

Why Questions

In amongst the lecturing, the frustrated parent commonly asks, ‘Why?’ “Why did you throw that rock?” “Why did you put peas up your nose?” “Why did you jump up and down on the bed until it broke?” “Don’t just shrug. Look at me! Why aren’t you listening to me?!”

I have a why question. Why do so many adults feel compelled to ask children why questions? Be honest, when was the last time you knew the answer to your own why questions after doing something silly? “Why did you have that extra drink last night?” “Why did you buy those expensive shoes that hurt?” The only honest answer would be, “Well, it seemed a good idea at the time,” or, “Because I wanted to,” or, “I don’t know.” Unfortunately, such honest responses are not likely to appease an angry parent in full-on lecturing mode.

Children Are Not Little Adults

Tom Phelan, author of ‘123 Magic’, stressed that children should not be treated as ‘little adults’; because they are not: they’re kids. A young child is not likely to have great philosophical realisations about good versus evil by being talked at and reasoned with. What they are more likely to do is stop listening and think about something more pleasant, like that new toy they want for Christmas.

They might, if well trained in escape tactics, appease you with an eyes-down, submissive nod, perhaps accompanied by a mumbled apology, and of course, when prompted, promise to never do it again. But more often than not, unless they have an unusually strong urge to please you, they won’t really mean any of it. They are simply trying to cope in that moment. After all, they’re kids.

Lecturing and reasoning with your child as if he is a little adult on your level reduces your power and status in the child’s view. At times the lecturing might create a quietly angry child who will retaliate later, or take their anger out on a younger child. At other times the lectured child might react angrily towards you. They are only responding as they feel a little adult should.

The Angrier You Get…

As a parent it can feel really frustrating to hear your little darling argue back disrespectfully rather than offering the meek apology you’re hoping for. This frustration might lead to an increase the loudness and tone your voice. Then, because your child tends to mimic you, and because you are giving them focused attention for their retaliation, and because your anger has, in their world, given them more justification for being angry, the child gets angrier at you. Then you get angrier in response, and so it goes on. This is called escalation, and it is very common in families.

Be a Calm Assertive Pack Leader

I believe one of the greatest contemporary human psychology experts is dog behaviour expert, Cesar Millan, star of TV’s ‘The Dog Whisperer’. Millan does not believe in reasoning with canines. Instead he stresses to his adult human clients that they can train their out-of-control dogs by becoming strong ‘pack leaders’, and exuding ‘calm, assertive energy’. If a pack leader is calm, confident and assertive, his pack will feel confident that he is looking after them and protecting them from harm, so they feel relaxed, secure and well-adjusted. The pack doesn’t have to challenge the pack-leader’s authority and they don’t feel threatened by the outside world, as long as the pack leader stays relaxed.

‘Calm, assertive energy’ is Milan’s constant mantra; a mantra that I have been encouraging parents of humans to take on for many years.

If you believe that you, as a parent or parents, should own the role of leader in your family [solo as a single parent, or in partnership with another parent in two parent families], and you can get into the calm, assertive mode of a good pack leader and set clear limits for your children, they will automatically feel calmer and more secure, and be much easier to manage.

Millan teaches that a pack leader in the dog world does not talk in response to their charge lings’ misdemeanours. Nor does he react aggressively. He simply corrects the unwanted behaviour, calmly and assertively, then lets the issue go. He doesn’t harp on and on, he doesn’t try to reason, he doesn’t get angry, and he and definitely doesn’t give the unwanted behaviour too much attention. Dogs are so smart.

Human are also social pack animals, and human children thrive on solid adult leadership, and clear boundaries and consequences delivered in a calm, assertive manner. It helps them feel like the world is predictable and simple, and this helps them feel secure. The internalisation and development of adult values comes later.

Calm Clear Consequences

So, when your child is doing something wrong, try not to lecture, or ask why, or get angry in response. Instead, focus on exuding calm assertive energy, and quickly and firmly correct the behaviour, then get back to life. Mild misbehaviour can be corrected by a firm look, or a calm assertive, ‘Hey, that’s enough’, with a moderate to deep voice. More serious misdemeanours can be corrected with clear simple consequences. Thomas Phelan talks about using counting with simple time out consequences his 123 MAGIC series of books and videos. I will talk more about the Phelan system, along with ways to deal with the more out of control child, in separate training articles and video blogs.

It is important to always stay aware of your own emotional response and avoid reverting to anger or fearful submission. Assertive parenting is neither. Assertive parenting is relaxed but strong posture, calm body language, moderate voice tone and loudness, and clear, calm eye-contact. It is brief and to-the-point and very matter-of fact. It is the language expression of a powerful leader who knows she is in charge, so doesn’t have to try too hard.

So, in a nutshell, the keys to managing your child’s behaviour are:

*Remember your child is a child, not an adult
*Project calm and assertive leader energy
*Do not lecture or try to reason with your child
*Don’t ask ‘Why?’ questions
*Do not get angry or argue
*Do not give your child too much attention for not listening or misbehaving
*Stick to clear consistent consequences

And, most importantly, try to lighten up and have some fun with your children. They aren’t children for long, and one day you’ll wish you had.

Good luck with this challenge. I welcome any feedback, questions, or ideas.

Lorri Craig,

Please leave questions or comments in the COMMENTS box below, or email me at I will try to respond as quickly as possible. For more parenting tips, and for links to Tom Phelan’s brilliant parent training DVDs, check out my parenting site

Sep 16, 2011

I Hate You - Don't let it pass

What should a parent do when a young child says, “I hate you?” I’m Dr. James Dobson with My Family Talk.

Some givers of parental advice recommend that parents ignore these kinds of violent outbursts and expressions of hostility for a mother or father. I disagree. Even though it is true that most youngsters do have strong feelings, and it’s not unusual for them to verbalize their anger. Still, we need to teach children how to handle those emotions more appropriately. If a child screamed his hatred at me for the first time, I would wait until his passions had cooled and then I’d convey a message that would go something like this: “I know you were very upset earlier today, and I think we should talk about what you were feeling. All children get angry at their parents now and then, especially when they think they’ve been treated unfairly. But, that doesn’t excuse you from saying, ‘I hate you.’? You see, when people love each other as you and I do, they shouldn’t want to hurt each other. What you said hurt me; just as it would hurt you if I said something like that. Now you can tell me what angers you and I’ll listen carefully. And if I’m wrong, I’ll do my best to change the things that you don’t like. But, I can’t permit you to call me names or speak disrespectfully to me in that manner. Now is there anything you need to say to me? If not, then put your arms around my neck because I love you.”

See, once this boundary has been established, I would then expect the child to live within it. With My Family Talk, I’m Dr. James Dobson.

Sep 15, 2011

Will, Grace, Love, Mercy. No, not a new comedy.

The Will of God took His only Son to a place where even Mercy could not be found. But Love retrieved Him from the enemy's lair, simply for Grace to exist for us.

Sep 8, 2011

Marriage Marathon

Don't forget to sync your heart monitors, adjust your speed, match your timing and keep each other in sight. If one jets ahead or one lags behind, drop a leg and pick up a cheering arm.

Aug 23, 2011

Remove the adults, keep the kids

In response to the recent new story about the restaurant that bans children and a local discussion online about kids in public.

Not all people with children are breeders. And not all breeders are irresponsible parents. Talking w/a school official recently, they mentioned in all their 30 years of education, this group of elementary kids had the most sense of self entitlement and immaturity they had seen. Being involved with a wide range of kids, we've been recently shocked at the growing disrespect, rudeness and self-centerdness that is developing in the younger generations. The change in attitude of parenting, don't have expectations, don't teach good manners, good behavior - let the children "find their way" and be how they will - is fine at home. But when kids go to other people's homes, in public and still think they are THE center of the universe and have absolute NO consideration for other people - that's when it's gone too far.

I've had to remove my child from a public place in the middle of a melt down. That's what we should do. No, not everyone chooses to have children. But not everyone chooses to drink too much in public either. Or become belligerent, rude, use profanity, wear too little clothes, act badly in public - I'm talking adults here. And no one takes them out of the restaurant when they do so I can enjoy my dinner. If I've paid for a babysitter, I don't want some adult ruining my peaceful time. With todays economic times, many parents NEED a break, they need out of the house but who can afford a babysitter? We've created this transient society, where people live hours away from family and may not have anyone to trust their child with. So some may choose to chance it and yes, endure their own internal stress, when you need a night out, YOUR child is the one not sitting still and all you want is that good meal, see another adult, act like you're not a spitup rag.... I'm glad mine are old enough but having been through it, gives me a little more understanding.

Aug 17, 2011

Letting Go of the Remote - PluggedIn


"We flicked on the television and inserted the DVD. We were all settled in, my family and I, around the screen for a movie night—remote at the ready. But before my son pushed the play button, he turned to me and asked, "You're sure this meets with your approval, Dad?"

The movie: Disney's G-rated The Great Mouse Detective. The audience: Colin, my 20-year-old son; Christy, his wife; and Emily, my 17-year-old daughter.

"Don't be snide," I told him with a roll of the eyes. He snickered and smiled as he started the disc, and for the next hour or so, the room was filled with sounds of laughter and stage-whispered asides as Basil of Baker Street tried again to bring Professor Ratigan to justice.

I'm glad to say that my family room is still a noisy place sometimes, and will be for just a little while longer: Colin and Christy are living with us while they finish college. Emily—sometimes with boyfriend in tow—hangs out with us more than my wife and I probably deserve. Even though our kids are older, they still—oddly enough—seem to like to spend time with family.

Maybe they feel sorry for us. Maybe they sense that we're already missing them a little, even though they're still right here. Maybe they know that, in barely a blink, barely a beat, they'll be on their own, leaving us with a house of empty rooms.

What it means to be a parent changes over time. From the day our kids are born, we train them to leave us. We teach them right and wrong in the hopes that when they have their own careers and families and rents to pay, they'll remember the lessons instilled into them.

We all must eventually trust our children with what we've taught them.

But when does the teaching end and the trust begin? Do either begin or end, really? And what happens if you taught your kids the wrong sorts of lessons?

Trials and Errors
Being a father has been perhaps the greatest joy of my life. But it was, quite frankly, an unexpected joy. My wife, Wendy, and I had Colin when we weren't much older than he is now. We were young and stupid and poor, needing help from my parents just to keep the kid in diapers. We learned how to be parents through rigorous on-the-job training, and we made plenty of mistakes along the way.

You can ask my kids for the details if you'd like. I'm sure they could give you a pretty good breakdown of all our parental failings. But from my perspective, nowhere were our child-rearing hits and misses so obvious as when it came to entertainment.

I had never even heard of Plugged In (or Parental Guidance, as it was called) back then, but even as a young, frightened father, I had an almost instinctive urge to keep my kids away from certain forms of entertainment. Movies were a rarity for us. And I wielded the television clicker with an iron fist, extinguishing any show that I deemed inappropriate for my young 'uns. No Seinfeld at our house, and the only friends we saw were of the Barney variety. Blue's Clues and Wishbone were family faves, and we watched a whole lotta VeggieTales videos.

So it's safe to say that we were pretty diligent with what our kids watched. How much they watched it … well, that's a different story.

At first we set down firm rules that no one in our house—not even Wendy and I—would watch more than an hour of television a day. And for a while we were able to keep to that. But parenting is messy business, and sometimes the best-intentioned rules don't stand up to day-to-day reality. Wendy was working. I was working. And by the time we all got home, there were days when nothing looked quite so appealing as a nice, quiet evening in front of the tube.

We started making exceptions, then finally let the rule dissolve. Of course, every few months guilt would overcome us and we'd make another hour-a-day commitment. Then we'd regress again.

And video games turned out to be even harder than TV. I enjoyed 'em—even some of the violent ones—and I didn't understand why, at the time, I should give them up. We had given up so much for our kids, after all … couldn't I have this one thing?

But Colin, he wanted to spend time with his dad. And so, on the occasional Saturday afternoon, Wendy would walk in on me engaged in a virtual shooting game, our 3-year-old watching it all while sitting on my lap.

Truth and Consequences
For those who don't believe that setting entertainment guidelines for your kids early is important, look to me as a cautionary tale. Because every single one of the lessons we taught—even the unintentional ones—took root in our children.

While I eventually gave up my violent video games, I didn't stop playing games altogether. And, for better or worse, it became a medium over which Colin and I bonded. We played a whole season of virtual baseball one winter, and by the time he turned 14 I couldn't beat him in anything anymore. But he almost liked watching me play more than he liked to play himself (keeping stats, for example, while I raced Gran Turismo cars). To this day he'd rather sit at my shoulder than grab the controller. And I can't help but wonder if I programmed that into his tiny noggin when he was 3.

Another problem area in our household: The television, in my estimation, is still on far too much. Because we didn't push it to the side, the tube (now a widescreen behemoth) flopped itself down into the middle of our family room and became almost one of us. And there's something a little disturbing about that.

But because we never got into the habit of watching the latest and not-so-greatest drama or sitcom, we still don't watch "must-see TV." And that's something, I guess. As a family, we've actually followed maybe four television series over the last 20 years. Instead, we gravitate toward tune-in-anytime TV—documentaries, cartoons and "educational" reality programming.

And for us, it really is a family activity. We watch it together, talk about it together. When we watch a movie, we chat about it afterwards, dissecting its strengths and weaknesses, its moral high points and ethical failings.

Well of course you do! you might be saying. Look at where you work! But the truth is, we've always engaged, as a family, with what we watched and listened to and played. It's become part of our DNA. In some ways, I think we're pretty lucky: Because we've been so involved with our kids' entertainment choices, they still want to share their favorite entertainment with us—even if it's not the sort of thing Wendy and I would like or appreciate or even heartily approve of.

Relinquishing the Remote. Slowly.
Hey, we still have entertainment rules at our house. We have a system in play now where, on a family movie night, we rotate who gets to pick the film: Colin gravitates toward weird little indie flicks, Wendy to summer blockbusters, me to old-fashioned classics. But I still have veto power. Emily's technically old enough to watch anything … but I'm still protective of her, and if Colin suggests a film that falls too far outside my comfort range, he knows we're not going to watch it—hence the little jab about The Great Mouse Detective.

But I don't get to tell Colin and Christy what they can watch when they're in their own little downstairs apartment. Though I do tell them, in my own way, what they should.

"That's a horrible show," I'll say with a smile if they tell me about the latest episode of fill-in-the-blank. "Why don't you watch some old VeggieTales videos instead?"

These encounters are not dramatic heart-to-hearts, not tearful sit-downs or serious guilt trips. Colin's an adult and married to boot, and it's not my role to tell him what he can or cannot do anymore. But he's still in my sphere of influence and still, in his own way, asking for my input. I still have a role in his life, and I hope that these light, jokey conversations will be remembered by him down the road, when he and Christy have their own children to watch out for.

Meanwhile, my interactions with Emily look completely different than with Colin. He's always enjoyed pushing the proverbial envelope; Emily's entertainment tastes are, if anything, even more conservative than mine. At the age of 12, she refused to watch a me-approved PG movie because she felt its morals were askew. And looking back, I think she was right. I don't monitor her entertainment choices as much these days because I trust her: She's earned it. Perhaps someday she could apply for a job at Plugged In.

Lessons Learned?
I didn't do everything right as a father when it came to making wise entertainment choices for my kids. Much of what I did at 24 I'd tsk-tsk at 42. So even now, in this late stage of parenting, I'm trying to rectify past mistakes. I'm trying to cut down on the time we spend in front of the television, for one thing. Some nights I'm trying to ask if anyone wants to play a game or go for a walk. On others, we do flip on the telly, but we watch Wendy play a video game—and since she still hasn't mastered all the myriad buttons she needs to push, that can be a pretty entertaining diversion.

But I'm proud to say that I think my kids have learned not to merely absorb what they watch or listen to. And there's something to be said for that. Actually, there's quite a lot to be said for that.

It's good to place limits on your children's entertainment consumption. It's great to make sure that the messages they're getting, particularly early on, are solid and moral and, ideally, biblical. But we have to remember that we can't censor or even monitor the world for our children indefinitely—as much as we'd like to. We can't protect them from everything they're likely to encounter.

We can help them process it, though. We can help them talk about it.

So the answer to my first question about where the teaching ends and the trust begins is … 42. No, not my age. The idea that it's unanswerable. Every kid is different. Every family unique. But I can answer this question: When do you stop trying to teach lessons as a parent? Never."

Jul 28, 2011

Song of the Day: Courageous, Casting Crowns

A new song from Casting Crowns. I heard it today and it gave me goosebumps. A call to men - be men. This is what stirs your woman's heart.

We will reignite the passion, may the watchers become warriors. Let the Men of God Arise!

We were made to be courageous
We were made to lead the way
We could be the generation
That finally breaks the chains

We were made to be courageous
We were made to be courageous

We were warriors on the front lines
Standing, unafraid
But now we're watchers on the sidelines
While our families slip away

Where are you, men of courage?
You were made for so much more
Let the pounding of our hearts cry
We will serve the lord

We were made to be courageous
And we're taking back the fight
We were made to be courageous
And it starts with us tonight

The only way we'll ever stand
Is on our knees with lifted hands
Make us courageous
Lord, make us courageous

This is our resolution
Our answer to the call
We will love our wives and children
We refuse to let them fall

We will reignite the passion
That we buried deep inside
May the watchers become warriors
Let the men of god arise

We were made to be courageous
And we're taking back the fight
We were made to be courageous
And it starts with us tonight

The only way we'll ever stand
Is on our knees, with lifted hands
Make us courageous
Lord, make us courageous

Seek justice
Love mercy
Walk on. be with your god
Seek justice. love mercy
Walk on. be with your god

In the war of the mind I will make my stand (seek justice. love mercy. walk on. be with your god)
In the battle of the heart and the battle of the hand (seek justice. love mercy. walk on. be with your god)

In the war of the mind I will make my stand (seek justice. love mercy. walk on. be with your god)
In the battle of the heart and the battle of the hand (seek justice. love mercy. walk on. be with your god)

We were made to be courageous
And we're taking back the fight
We were made to be courageous
And it starts with us tonight

The only way we'll ever stand
Is on our knees, with lifted hands
Make us courageous
Lord, make us courageous

We were made to be courageous
In the war of the mind I will make my stand (seek justice. love mercy. walk on. be with your god)

Lord, make us courageous
In the war of the mind I will make my stand (seek justice. love mercy. walk on. be with your god)

Jun 22, 2011

Pads of Life

I wish I had padding of time. Our kids are getting older, our eldest just reached “dating age” (argh), the 2nd is yearning for more independence, the 3rd entering junior high, the bottom 2 trying to keep up with their eldest and I feel like I want to put my hands out in a stop motion (even though @ times my heart skips in excitement at the thought of my own independence!). Because of this, I feel like I need to do more to be a good example for my older kids because soon they’ll be women of their own right, yet it’s hard to fit in any time for myself. Constantly pulled by the now, what’s coming and what I didn’t do right “then”.

Jun 21, 2011

Like Father, Like Daughter: Boundless

I've jokingly said that I'm the perfect mix of my parents' best traits. I have my mom's confidence, no-nonsense attitude, love of reading and uniquely-arched eyebrows; I have my dad's easygoing personality, ability to talk to anyone, general love of people and low cholesterol.

The similarities between my mom and I are becoming more and more obvious as time goes on. (As I joke about her unfiltered and occasionally "out-there" comments, I ask if I'm seeing my future self. Yikes.) My dad and I, however, shared some commonalities that were not always immediately apparent. Now that he's been gone almost 10 years, it's sometimes difficult for me to remember exactly how we clicked. My memory has faded, and the edges of experience have blurred, but several things I remember with fondness.

We were both talkers (and I still am). My loquaciousness tends more to storytelling and speaking "at" groups whereas my dad loved meeting people, shaking hands and getting into people's lives. The more people in his circle, the better. Friends, acquaintances, strangers--it didn't matter. My dad loved being in the middle of humanity. And he did it well.

Dad and I loved to fish together. No one else in the family would put up with the tedium of watching a bobbing lure for hours, but I loved it. I never learned to clean a fish (thank goodness), but my dad taught me everything else related to boating and fishing. During our trips we'd share another passion: unconventional food items. We both like baked beans straight out of the can. We'd eat canned beans in the boat. We had other unfortunate food habits that earned my dad the nickname "The Disposal," while I quickly became his sidekick.

One trait I wish I had inherited from my dad was his love for serving others. My dad was always doing things for people. He often was behind the scenes and rarely received praise for his efforts. Many times they went unnoticed altogether. Whether it was emptying someone's trash, changing the oil for a neighbor, delivering Christmas trees to shut-ins, meticulously straightening the rows of chairs in church or lending his car to someone in need of transportation, Dad repeatedly saw needs and met them. It's something I do neither naturally nor frequently enough.

Let's face it: Dads make a difference. Whether you have a wonderful dad, a distant dad, a deadbeat dad or your dad is gone, it's obvious that the presence of fathers in our lives has a significant impact on our development.

Last week at Boundless we recognized the unique role of dads. On the show, Martha and I were joined by Glenn Stanton and Greg Smalley (our new boss--welcome, Greg!) for a discussion of fatherhood. Glenn and Greg share why dads are important, what it looks like to face the fears of daddy-dom, how young adults can reconnect with their fathers and how we can best demonstrate our appreciation for them. Immediately following, I interviewed Focus' John Fuller, co-host of the daily broadcast and author of First-Time Dad on what men can expect as they enter fatherhood. John clears up some of the mystery for guys who are brand new to parenting or who hope to be dads someday.

A great article by Glenn Stanton titled "Five Things You Didn't Know Fathers Do" was part of our article lineup last week, followed by Jonathan Dodson's classic, "Imagine Your Children." Also, don't forget to catch Candice's installment of Boundless Answers, "Four Non-Negotiables," a list of must-have qualities in a wife.

On the blog we have a roundup of some of Boundless' top content over the years. This is great for those of you who are new to Boundless or who simply wonder if you've read and listened to the "best of the best." There's also another piece on gender by Glenn Stanton as well as the next installment in Suzanne Gosselin's "New Wife and Mom" series.

You may not realize it, but much of who you are is sourced out of your dad (including a possible love of cold baked beans). If you, like me, no longer have a dad on this earth, or you never knew yours, or you no longer have a relationship with him, you're not alone, and there's nothing wrong with grieving your loss. At the same time, though, let's do our best to encourage the dads we know who are here and doing their best. We need them.

Boundless Weekly, FOTF

Jun 20, 2011

The 5 Switches of Manliness: Provide - The Art of Manliness

“A man should be a good provider.”

We’ve all heard this phrase before; it remains common even in our modern society. When someone says that a man should be a good provider, what they invariably mean is that he should have a good job that earns a steady income, one which enables him to provide food, shelter, and the nice things in life to his family.

This definition of being a provider is well-ingrained in our society and in the male psyche. In fact, when men lose a job, and thus their identity as a provider, they tend to get very anxious and depressed.

So earning a good income–is that what’s involved in this Switch of Manliness? And if so, is the switch still a viable one in a time where both partners in a marriage are often breadwinners? And what about stay-at-home dads? Are they not providers?

In fact, bringing home the bacon has little to do with the true Provider Switch at all.

Providing in Primitive Times

In the Switches of Manliness series, we’ve been traveling back in time, way back in time, to uncover the original male drives that are still embedded in the modern man’s psyche.

Last time, we mentioned the fact that in very primitive societies, men and women provided about equal resources to their tribes; women gathered nuts and seeds, and men hunted big game. In fact, for much of human history, men and women contributed fairly equally to the family economy. The idea of the stay-at-home wife who lounged around the house while her husband toiled all day outside the home is a relatively modern conception of family life. It wasn’t until the 19th century that we saw this idea take hold in the West and even then, the working husband and stay-at-home wife dynamic was typically only available to the wealthy and middle-class. In most families, both men and women had to work in some capacity in order to keep the family afloat financially.

So is there a broader definition of providing, one that better fits the historical record?

To answer that question, I think it’s helpful to look at the etymology of the word “provide.” The Online Etymology Dictionary tells us:

early 15c., from L. providere “look ahead, prepare, supply,” from pro- “ahead” + videre “to see” (see vision)

To which the Etymological Dictionary of the English Language adds:

“Lat. to act with foresight, lit. to foresee”

I like that idea of providing. Instead of making a man’s identity and worth based on his paycheck, his ability to provide hinges on whether he has a vision for his life, leads his family with that vision, and is able to look ahead and prepare for the storms of life.

Man as Scout

In primitive times, looking ahead took the form of scouting for the tribe. Men were the lookouts. As scouts, they navigated the terrain and traveled ahead (and behind) the women and children, scanning the horizon for dangers to avoid.

This male role continues in modern primitive tribes, and has even been observed in chimps:

“When Bushmen travel, they walk in a single file, with a man in the lead who watches out for fresh predator tracks, snakes, and other dangers. Women and children occupy safer positions. This, too, is reminiscent of chimpanzees, who at dangerous moments–such as when they cross a human dirt road–have adult males in the lead and rear, with females and juveniles in-between. Sometimes the alpha male stands guard at the road until everyone has crossed it.” -Frans De Waal, The Age of Empathy

I think we all intuitively understand this behavior. Males tend to be physically stronger than females, so it makes sense that males were the ones doing the protecting. But it wasn’t a man’s brute strength alone that qualified him for this role. The male brain is actually uniquely suited for this scouting (or vision providing) task in several ways.

The Scouting Brain

When we were hanging out in our mothers’ wombs, our bodies were flooded with a bunch of different hormones. According to The Male Brain, two of these substances–specifically anti-Mullerian hormones and testosterone–primed the circuits of our tiny male brains for certain functions like “exploratory behavior, muscular and motor control, spatial skills, and rough play.”

The male brain is particularly adept at visual-spatial skills. Men tend to be better than women at rotating objects in their minds to gain a 3-D view and are better able to track moving objects, gauge how fast they’re going, and determine the objects’ proportions and location. Men also have keener long range vision than women, are more sensitive to objects entering their field of vision, and are better at noticing the small movements of those objects. In fact, there is a correlation between higher testosterone levels and visual-processing speeds.

Men’s visual and spatial abilities give them a leg up when it comes to geography, orientation, and navigation–skills that come in handy when out on the hunt or engaging in battle.

The male brain is also built with a larger dorsal premammillary nucleus, also called the “defend-your-turf” part of the brain. The circuity of this part of the brain is designed to detect territorial challenges by other males. Men’s brains also include a larger amygdala than women, which can be thought of as an alarm system for possible danger. Thus men are especially alert to potential threats to themselves and their loved ones.

The Tracking Brain

These inborn proclivities not only helped men in their roles as searchers and scouts, they may have been used in ways that then strengthened their ability to envision the future. In Born to Run, author Christopher McDougall recounts an insight a modern-day man, Louis Lisenberg, received when he spent time learning how to track and hunt in the primitive style with the Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert:

“Even after you learn to read dirt, you ain’t learned nothing; the next level is tracking without tracks, a higher state of reasoning known in the lit as ‘speculative hunting.’ The only way you can pull it off, Louis discovered, was by projecting yourself out of the present and into the future, transporting yourself into the mind of the animal you’re tracking…’When tracking an animal, one attempts to think like an animal in order to predict where it is going,’ Louis says. ‘Looking at its tracks one visualizes the motion of the animal and feels that motion in one’s own body. You go into a trancelike state, the concentration is so intense. It’s actually quite dangerous, because you become numb to your own body and can keep pushing yourself until you collapse.’

Visualization…empathy…abstract thinking and forward projection: aside from the keeling-over part, isn’t that exactly the mental engineering we now use for science, medicine, the creative arts? ‘When you track, you’ve created causal connections in your mind, because you didn’t actually see what the animal did,’ Louis realized.”

The Systemizing Brain

As we’ve discussed in previous posts, the disparity in the reproductive odds for men and women in primitive times (women had double the chance of passing on their genes than men did), led men to take on big challenges in order to gain alpha male status and up their odds of reproducing. For this and other reasons, men took part in big game hunts, battles, and adventures and expeditions of other sorts. These types of endeavors often happened in large groups, and created a social system for men very different than the one for women. Women, who stayed close to home and nurtured their families, had fewer but closer and more intimate relationships. Men had a greater number of relationships, but they were shallower and more impersonal in nature.

Men thus thought and worked in large systems, and their brains developed accordingly. There are a bunch of interesting implications of this—again I recommend onto you Dr. Baumeister’s Is There Anything Good About Men?—but for the purposes of this post, the most important thing is that men’s brains developed to be motivated towards systemizing, women’s brains for empathizing.

Psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen (not the Borat guy), who proposed the “systematizing-empathizing theory” after studying autism (which he believes is simply the manifestation of the extreme male brain—all systemizing, little empathizing)—believes this spectrum constitutes the fundamental difference between the sexes.

Dr. Baron-Cohen defines a system as anything in which certain input translates into certain output, according to a rule. It’s all about if-then logical reasoning—if I do this, I’ll get this. According to Baron-Cohen, systemizing helped our caveman ancestors to understand natural systems like weather, astrological movement, and animal migration–skills valuable in feeding and protecting the tribe. Systemizing would also come in handy in battles of social rank in the hierarchy of a tribe. Remember, in our distant past, if a man wanted to increase his chances of passing on his genes, he needed to stand out from the crowd. The systemizing male brain may have helped our ancestors strategize how to make it to the top of the pecking order.

The Provider Switch

The scouting brain. The tracking brain. The systemizing brain. What do they all add up to? The Provider Switch, of course. Men have an innate need to look ahead, to plan, to prepare, to strategize. Or in other words, men have an innate need for vision, for providing.

While we’re no longer hunting antelopes, our brains are still primed to engage in searching, scanning, recognition, and long-term planning. These activities are carried out in the left side of the brain and are fueled by dopamine, the neurotransmitter which neuroscientists have shown motivates the male brain to a greater extent than the female brain.

While the Switches of Manliness we’ve talked about so far–legacy, challenge, physicality–aren’t activated very often in our modern world, this isn’t the case with this switch. It is often activated, just not in a very productive way. And how is it activated? By things like technology and video games.

Studies have shown that video games activate reward regions of the brain more in men than in women, giving us nice hits of dopamine, which probably explains why more men play, and report feeling addicted to, video games than women. Video games activate all the unique attributes of the male brain. Success at video games requires high visual processing speeds, the ability to navigate and create large mental maps in your head, recognition skills, and the ability to systematize and strategize. Of course it’s not just video games that light up these parts of the male brain–analog games like Risk and chess, role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, and fantasy sports leagues all require systematizing to succeed and draw the interest of more men than women.

Now whenever I say anything about video games, people get the idea that I’m totally against them. Not so. I’ve played them since I was a wee lad, and after a long time away, I just bought a used Xbox so I could play LA Noire (what a cool game!). But I’ve played the game less than an hour a week since I’ve gotten it because I have too many other, more important, things to do. So that’s how I feel about video games–there’s nothing wrong with them per se, they should just be low on a man’s priorities list. They’re dessert–to be enjoyed in moderation. And that’s why they cannot turn on this Switch of Manliness. It’s like eating a Twinkie when you’re really hungry; you’re satiated for a minute, but then ravenous soon again. Instead, you need something that’s really going to satisfy that hunger and build your body.

Turning the Provider Switch means using the abilities of the male brain towards bettering yourself, fulfilling your life’s potential, and leading those you’re responsible for.

The Importance of Vision

Native American tribes would send young men off on vision quests, so that for the rest of their lives they would know exactly what direction they were supposed to take.

There was great wisdom in this. Having a vision for one’s life is essential. Without one, you end up drifting along in life instead of being driven by purpose towards the fulfillment of your goals. Men without vision feel as if unfortunate events absolutely blindside them–Why did I get fired? Why is my wife leaving? Why am I 30 and still living at home? How did I get in so much debt? How did this happen to me!?! Men without vision live only in the present, much like the grasshopper in the old Aesop’s fable. When winter comes, they are caught unawares and left dazed and shivering in the cold.

On the other hand, a man with vision looks ahead. He plans. He knows where he wants to be in 5, 10, 50 years. And he gathers and systemizes the “data” of his life to gain an understanding of what he must do and how he must act to get where he wants to go. He can analyze what’s working in his life and what’s not, and jettison the latter. He scans the horizon to see what is coming down the pike, and he knows just how he will react if X, Y, or Z happens. He cultivates a healthy self-awareness. He knows what flaws, temptations, and pitfalls are his personal Achilles’ heels, the “predators” that can derail his life and poison his relationships. When these threats approach, the alarms in his mind go off, and he walks away.

Flipping the Provider Switch

If you’re a single man, you need to have a vision for your own life. If you’re a married man, you need to have a vision for your own life and for your family. Women don’t want a man who’s a domineering oaf, but they also don’t want to feel like they’re always pulling, and dragging their husband along. They want a man who’s personally motivated, takes initiative, makes decisions, and has a discernible sense of direction and purpose. A man who is always scouting the way to take care of his family and lead them through the storms of life. I’ve sometimes had that conversation with my wife where I tell her that I feel unhappy, and she asks me what I want out of life and what would make me happy, and all I can answer is, “I don’t know.” That’s a failure of vision. And a failure in being a provider.

Having a vision involves growing in self-awareness and awareness of the world around you. The man of vision understands his own strengths and weaknesses, how the world works, and what makes people tick. He looks out from a high point in the landscape, takes in the lay of the land, fixes his sights on where he wants to go, and figures out how to get there. And then he leads and navigates, watching for and surmounting obstacles, until the destination is reached.

Here are some suggestions for harnessing your inner-Scout and flipping the Provider Switch:

Find your core values
Create a blueprint for your life.
Keep a journal.
Spend some time in solitude. Hike, camp overnight or even rent a hotel room.
Find your vocation.
Create a daily schedule.
Work on becoming fully present in your life.
Meditate or pray.
Write down your goals each night.
Unplug and take periodic technology “fasts” to recharge and clear your mind.
Read biographies–by taking in the sweep of another man’s life you can really gain perspective on your own life, what a man is capable of accomplishing, and insight on the paths other men took.
Create a morning routine that pumps you up for the coming day.
Turn off the radio on the way to work and think about what you want to accomplish that day.
Carry a pocket notebook so you can capture your ideas and make to-do lists to keep track of what needs to get done.
Practice memorization–memorize a poem or work on remembering names.
Keep track of data in your life–when you work out, record how much weight you’re lifting. Write down what you eat. Keep track of your goals or new habits with something like Joe’s Goals.
Read up on human psychology, relationships, body language, etc.
Educate yourself on things like health insurance and retirement plans (stay-tuned for a post on this).
Create a budget and understand exactly what’s going on with your finances.
Start an emergency fund.
Be prepared for disaster and learn survival skills–like how to handle a weapon, pack a bug-out bag, and forage for food.
If you have a family, hold a regular family council. We’ll do a post on this in the future.
Talk with your kids one on one to find out what is going on in their lives. Make it casual–like when you’re driving around together.
Stay up on politics, news, and current events.

Jun 14, 2011

FOTF: Submission - a valuable commodity.

The hair did stand up on the back of my neck when I saw this title come through my emails from FOTF. As a strong woman, raised by a strong woman, in a home where the typical male/female battle occurred, I have little intent on "submitting". In a world where men have been touted as better, when often they show themselves to be weaker, vainer & egotistical - breaking their wives hearts, deserting their children and their own responsibilities, abdicating their leadership roles because of the ease - I do not wish to submit.

But I like FOTF and I find their informative sessions helpful and genuine. I swallowed and flipped over to the broadcast. I was not disappointed.

I realized as I listened, Matt & I are witnessing this very war in our own home between our 10 year old son & 9 year old daughter. I move uncomfortably in my seat, listening to this as I realize, maybe the struggle between them, is a reflection of the struggle with my husband and myself. We are raising one son in a house full of women and he is being forced to abdicate to this houseful of very strong, sometimes rebellious women - even though the last thing I want is for him to marry some control freak female who wants to run the show.

On the other hand, women want their husbands to be strong. To lead. I think we really do. With love, patience, grace and tenderness, yet with strength. To be guided by a purpose that we can agree with, not by their own selfishness. To put their family first, children, wife above all else.

Men & Women have both dropped the ball. It's not always just one gender creating the friction. I have found peace in those times I felt trust for my husband's decision making. To not have to run the show. And I have taken over and hindered God's movement in my husband's life as well. I am not a patient person in some areas.

I also liked the author's husband's point about the worth of his wife's opinion. A woman's sense about things that a man doesn't necessarily have and the importance of listening. I think alot of times men, in their male conquering fix it spirit, miss that wonderful, invaluable gift in their wife.

I just wish they could find another word to label it. Submission is difficult to chew on.

Jun 11, 2011

Song of the Day: All of Creation, Mercy Me

If there is one thing I hope God hugs me for on that day, it's the purity of my heart's desire to meet Him and be in His presence. It brings me to tears, the hunger, the excitement, the joy of smiling at Him. I often think, I would be the woman at the feet of Jesus when He visited. Regardless my failures in life, my spirit struggles to do what is right, to be a treasure to The Creator that made me.

The Father knows better. I would actually be the sister, worrying about the house, the food, angry at my sister at the feet of Jesus "doing nothing", LOL! He smiles as I recognize who I really am.

"The reason we breath is to sing of His Glory. And for all He has done, Praise The Father, Praise The Son and The Spirit in One.

All of Creation, sing with me now. Lift up your voice. Fill up the Heavens, let His glory resound."

For Eternity, I am excited about that! The music, the sweet voices that glorify Him and the wonderful creation of Humanity. Forget housecleaning!

And every knee will bow, every tongue - Praise The Father. Praise The Son. The Spirit in One.


May 24, 2011

MANDEALS.COM - Fox Interviews Coby Dilling

Gotta promote the family - Kayla's English teacher, who is Osborne family. MAN UP!


May 19, 2011

God Hears Better than an Hallelujiah

I mulled over whether to actually share this moment on my blog and thought, maybe I should because it's one of those times God resounds with response and it SHOULD be shared. I had a pretty big personal melt down this week. You know ladies what I'm talking about. The crying, the soul wrenching sobs as you pour your heartache, worries, dreams, loss of dreams, failures, expectations, LIFE out on The Lord's feet. It was completely emptying out the pot, which had been overfilling with garbage and spilling out on everyone around me. I didn't exactly feel better then. The next day, 10 minutes before I walked out the door with Kassady to go on an all weekend camping trip, Matt & I were in the midst of heavy discussion and I realized, I just needed to apologize. I sucked it up and told him how sorry I was and that I knew I was being horrible to everyone. Then I set off on my muddy tent camping trip, where I guilted myself all weekend, each time I ate the wonderful salad he prepared for Kass & I, as I enjoyed the hum of the engine he had restored fluids to and when I used the Coleman air pump my husband searched on Craigslist to find so that I could have my cushy air mattress and not become an an invalid from 2 nights of sleeping on the ground, as I woke up in the middle of the night, hearing the rain dump on our tent, which was covered by the tarp he drug out from under the deck, we remained comfortable, dry & so warm.

But this story is not about my great husband. Since the trip, this week I realized I had this inner peace. Not a fake happy go lucky "everything will be okay" but a genuine internal deep peace. As if God took my pain & anguish, sucked it all out and dissolved it. Recentering my Spirit. I went where He wanted me to, not caring if I was disrespectful or not, just laying it all out for Him to hear and see. There - now what are you going to do with it?

This week has been full of information for me, answers of what I need to work on in myself. Like He's got me by the hand, guiding. I feel release in areas I've been carrying & struggling with trying to control. It feels GOOD. This morning as I was mulling it over on my way in to the office, I had a second, just a second or two of my usual self mutilation at the fact that I take stuff so seriously, that I have these repeated melt downs periodically though my life. I have this crazy notion that at some point I will just move on and all will be smooth, with nothing to be concerned about. Now that's realistic.

Within minutes after thinking this, the song "Better than an Hallelujiah" by Amy Grant came on. And tears were flowing down my face. It opens "God loves a lullaby in a mothers tears in the dead of night. We pour out our miseries, God just hears a melody".

Now tell me that wasn't His message speaking directly to my heart, reassuring me that bringing it to Him was the music He wants to hear. I drove on, wiping the tears away, trying not to destroy my makeup before I made it to the office.

And share my story with whoever blesses me to read it. Let me share the song with you and hopefully it will bring you to His feet, pouring out your tears and needs so that He can be blessed with Your Sweetest Song.

May 4, 2011

Get Service

For some reason, God always moves through me with this powerful, deep emotional stuff - maybe because I relate? Maybe I feel for people that are just trying to make it through life like me? Powerful video. When we relate, we can help someone else. It's meant that way.

Apr 23, 2011

Song of the Day: Monk & Neagle, Beautiful You

Beautiful You.

Not about us but about The Creator. How could something as beautiful as that little baby, your little girl, the puppy, the kitten, that cat's tail swishing your leg, the hummingbird you're looking at, the sunrise that brings a smile with your coffee, the bean that makes that coffee, the smell of sweet sweat from a hunting venture, the feel of flannel on a cool crisp morning, a flip of the fishtail as it splashes out of the water on the end of the line, the pull of the water against your waders, the power of the engine in your vehicle of choice, the feel of the hand inside of yours -

How can such beauty not come from something so incredibly beautiful?

Apr 22, 2011

Song of the Month: King of Glory, Third Day

I want to thank every single person for reading me today :)

On Friday, the Son will be slain. For you. For Me. Who is this King of Glory? The most amazing being ever created. Sunday, join humanity as we remember and present a tiny tiny offering in relation to what God gave to us - His kids.

Who is this King of Glory that pursues me with his love
And haunts me with each hearing of His softly spoken words
My conscience, a reminder of forgiveness that I need
Who is this King of Glory who offers it to me
Who is this King of angels, O blessed Prince of Peace
Revealing things of Heaven and all its mysteries
My spirit's ever longing for His grace in which to stand
Who's this King of glory, Son of God and son of man
His name is Jesus, precious Jesus
The Lord Almighty, the King of my heart
The King of glory
Who is this King of Glory with strength and majesty
And wisdom beyond measure, the gracious King of kings
the Lord of Earth and Heaven, the Creator of all things
Who is this King of Glory, He's everything to me
The Lord of Earth and Heaven, the Creator of all things
He is the King of glory, He's everything to me

Apr 21, 2011

Song of the Day: Chris August Starry Night

I heard this song months ago driving home and was so moved had to stop & write the lyrics. I might have shared it here before but it's worth another one (aren't they all?). This video isn't the best quality but if you take a moment out of your very busy life to close the office door, the bedroom door, quiet your mind and let the awesome photos capture your eyes and envelop your mind, the lyrics melt into your ears - your spirit might just move.

I am constantly in awe... well not awe but wonder? at the ability to see such incredible complex nature and continue to not believe there is any being or intelligent designer to all the phenomenal existence. To see this, especially with those that have strong logical brain connectors and think it's all a mistake just happened to develop - I admit I do not fully understand the "common sense". Especially when presented to those of us that have truly come to know and are also logically minded, that we are idiots. Even if one does not believe, how can you not gaze upon the glory of the universe and not have an understanding of how one might come to understand a greater meaning and know a greater being.

I feel a thrill of excitement at knowing without a doubt one day I will meet the Creator and I feel a sadness of a missed amazing experience for those that have discounted an existence without thoroughly searching for it. I am giving my life to the Only One who makes the Moon reflect The Son (Sun).

Apr 20, 2011

Song of the Day: Josh Wilson, I Refuse

How could this not be the song of the day? I don't want to live like I don't care. The foundation of who I am and the fire God has placed inside me that burns every flippin' day. That same drive that often causes me to feel like I'm NOT moving. But then I look at my house, ALL of my children and know, even though it's not world changing (yet), I AM moving. He is using me to follow through and do what I was made to do. Show them who YOU are. Man, my soul chokes, my head bows in humility knowing He has loved me greatly. Even when I fail, even when my example is less than exemplary. Love and grace - mercy. Stands me up the next day.

So I refuse to make one more excuse. I don't want to say another empty prayer. I refuse to sit around and wait for someone else to do what God has called me to do myself.

Apr 1, 2011

Song of the Day: 7 X 70 Times, Chris August

Maybe this is a blog duplicate but it's worth it because each time I hear it, I have the same internal reaction. Ugh. I really am human. I dislike it when I think I've dealt with internal stuff and I'm over it. Then something comes by my way, like this song and it hits me in the gut, out of the blue. Like I asked Matt the other night - "When do you think we'll reach the point we've dealt with our stuff? When we have it together?" 7 X 70 times I guess.



Mar 31, 2011

Song of the Day: Lead Me; Sanctus Real

Life can be difficult for those of us that have the answers. Like a puzzle, we know (think we know) where each piece should go. And the outcome - a gorgeous, fulfilling, glorious photograph. But you know, the world doesn't want to cooperate. It pulls, picks, disrupts, misleads until the fabric of importance is broken.

Some of you that know me will well think "Rebecca, let it go. Move on." But the fact that my children live without an important piece of their life and who they are and the same for Matthew's daughters, will always render pain. I have a cut on my hand from a few years ago. It was little, deep, nicked a nerve. And from time to time, it will twinge, ache, cause me to rub the scar or massage and flex my hand. I imagine it will bother me from time to time for years to come.

As is a scar on the proverbial spiritual heart. There to keep us aware that we are not yet whole and we have yet more work to do.

Which brings me to today's song of the day. As Matt & I have been attending the "Love and Logic" video series class, the first session have been about women. What surprised me was how much the video validated who and why I am what I am as a woman.

And that teenagers need to be watching this before they attempt to venture out into the great battle called relationship. We prepare them for all aspects of life except how to understand the dynamics of male & female. I can educate our girls, but who will educate their son so that my daughters can have a man of insight, discernment, wisdom & worth to marry? There's this unwritten expectation that we all just jump in and duke it out, hoping to be the less than 50% that makes it all the way to the end. It's one of the most important decisions we make because it is an event that is life altering - good and/or bad. A choice most of our kids will make - who to hook up with if you will, who to give your internal self, your soul to - and we spend little time preparing them for what is to come. Men and women are DIFFERENT. Not wrong. Just different. (That's an understatement)

This song played on the way in to work today and I thought it truly captures the spirit of most woman's heart AND a child's longing. Whether boy or girl, all kids want to be loved & cherished by their own parent. And often we fool ourselves with the old phrase "children are resilient" to give ourselves an out. If that were true, why are there so many walking wounded adults in the world today? Why is alcoholism, drug addiction, pornography, infidelity ruling our people, destroying lives & taking names? Many start as attempts to sooth inner pain and connect. Male & female, both need connection and at some level, crave relationship.

So I blog and I remain passionate about what I learn. And I hope as He works it out through my keyboard, it touches someone today.

Mar 29, 2011

Japan in Crisis

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Song of the Day: Song of Hope, Rob Seay Band

Rob's quick note about the song.

I particularly like this video someone put together to the song because the photos they used are like the ones in our own personal library. "I will sing a Song of Hope, sing along! Just to know that you are near is enough." Right on!

Mar 21, 2011

Song of the Day: Hold Us Together, Matt Maher

One of my favorite songs. Saw this guy Matt Maher recently in concert. Great stuff.

Mar 20, 2011

Song of the Day: Nothin' on You Bruno Mars

Wow, what sweet sweet music. I love this new artist. Word has it...that our elementary principle's daughter is dating Mr. Mars and this song is for her. Checking on the truth of that little kid rumor... ;) I'll post the Grammy video if I can find it. I LOVE this because he's in the studio and just the purity of his voice is awesome.

Nothin' on You Baby.

Signs of "Parentism"

The beautiful "Mom" pendant my 15 year old daughter bought me for Christmas last year. The mini van. The frazzled hair? No make up face? iPod, Calendar, checkbook? 5 bedroom house? Baseball bags, soccer balls & game chairs in the trunk? My smile when I see or hear a kid in passing through my day. No? Well then definitely, the 5 gallons of milk I carry out of Safeway every 4 days, the fact that our neighbors hear our garage door up & down, first thing early Sat morning, all day long, as our cars drive all over the local earth distributing children. No sleeping in is a sure sign of parentism.

Surely, it's a dream and I really live in a Penthouse, drive a BMW and travel the globe, camera and journal in hand.

Wouldn't miss one garage door opening for all the single life in the world. But I am beginning to dream of, with a rush of excitement, our kids walking into the sunset, to their own dreams, college, love, life and our retirement, motorcycles, motorhome, 80's rock music, flamingos, beach and sun.

Mar 17, 2011

MSNBC Japan Radiation

My comment "I don't believe the government is going to tell us everything we need to know about this radiation problem"

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Mar 16, 2011

Aww Yea 2 Minutes - Business Time Flight of the Conchords

It's WEDNESDAY! What Wed wouldn't be complete without church, followed by 2 minutes of Business Time? HA!

This video was done in 2006, about the time Matt introduced me to these guys. Since then they've become quite popular. You may be thinking "hmmm, where have I seen that guy?". Jemaine Clement played the artist in "Dinner for Schmucks" (a riDONKulous schmucky movie that was a waste of valuable resources).

Time for the recycling....


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