Five Tips to Help Your Family Survive Social Media

By | Marriage, Parenting, Relationships, Technology and Social Media | No Comments
“Dear Facebook, I want my life back.”  I saw this post show up on my news feed a couple of years ago.  I honestly can’t remember who posted it, but it’s pretty profound, don’t you think?

I’m 33, which means I’m just old enough to have watched the social media craze evolve from a clumsy and somewhat disorganized venture to a multi-billion dollar, technically mind-boggling machine.  And perhaps, like me, you’re growing just a bit wary of what the long-term effects of this will be.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with social media, I maintain pages on both Facebook and Twitter, but like any communication and entertainment platform, there are risks.  I could go into detail here, talking about the kinds of outcomes I’ve seen in those who’ve not set healthy limits with social media… outcomes like social media addiction, reduced work effectiveness, strained family relationships, diminished drive, disconnection from friends… and, of course, the list goes on.  But you already know this.  And I won’t bore you with more details and specifics.  The research is certainly out there if you’re interested.

The key question is: if you choose to engage with social media, as most of us will, how can you maintain healthy boundaries so that you don’t find yourself telling a computer you want your life back?  Here are a few thoughts about how you can do that. Read More

My Scary Email from Amazon

By | Leadership, Life Challenges, Marriage, Parenting, Relationships | No Comments
“Thanks for your Amazon order of 10,000…”

That’s what I saw on the lock screen of my phone among the list of subject lines of emails I’d missed earlier that day.

10,000 what!?!  I could just imagine that some terrible person had hi-jacked my amazon account, picked an outrageously expensive item, and ordered 10,000.  What on earth was I in for?

I could only imagine the doorbell ringing with my UPS delivery of 10,000 Apple watches, 10,000 bluetooth shower speakers, or 10,000 pairs of women’s yoga pants… I had already decided to call Amazon and straighten this out.  “I didn’t order this stuff and I can’t afford to pay for it!” I would say.

All these thoughts flashed through my mind while I nervously fumbled around trying to unlock my phone to read the entire email.  When I finally unlocked the screen, what I read made me smile in relief.  The message expressed Amazon’s appreciation for my order of “10,000 Reasons,” a digital music file of Matt Redman’s contemporary Christian hit.  I’d forgotten that I’d purchased the song the previous evening.  In case you’re not familiar with the song, it has a line that speaks of the 10,000 reasons our hearts should find to bless the Lord.

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You Have to Start Somewhere

By | Goals, Leadership, Life Challenges, Marriage, Parenting, Relationships | 2 Comments
This I’ve learned—home improvement projects never end as small as they begin. Take for instance, the simple job I was supposed to conquer last week. Our in-sink garbage disposal was leaking, and I decided to replace it myself. Not having Bob Villa around to show me how the job should be done, and minus a set of Time Life home repair manuals, I visited the modern man’s resource for mechanical how-to reference, Youtube. There, I discovered that replacing a disposal was not inordinately difficult, and I resolved to do it myself.

The only problem was that in replacing the disposal, I learned that other parts of our under-sink plumbing needed replacing as well. Shut-off valves were corroded and non-functioning. When I replaced those, the old supply lines no longer fit. Thus, new lines became part of the project. Read More

What I Learned About Life at LAX

By | Marriage, Parenting, Relationships | No Comments
My flight was cancelled.  And I wasn’t happy.  Within moments of being notified, I was on the phone with American Airlines trying to find a different flight home.  After reviewing a list of mutually unattractive options, I selected the one arriving in Wichita first.  Now, instead of a relatively short one-layover trip, my journey home would take all night.  I was less than enthusiastic.  My first of two layovers was in Los Angeles International Airport.

I arrived bleary eyed, hungry, and aggravated.  I looked at the clock… it was after midnight.

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Why the “Good Girl” Loves the “Bad Boy”

By | Parenting, Relationships | No Comments

Why the Good Girl Loves the Bad Boy

It’s a staple in television and movie plots—the good girl finds herself tremendously attracted to the “bad boy.”  You know the guy is trouble, she knows it too… and yet she falls head-over-heels in love.  I think the reason those stories work in Hollywood is because we can identify with them.  They happen in real life.  And the genders can as easily be switched.  Sometimes the good boy falls for the bad girl.  Usually when that happens, good people get hurt.  It doesn’t always spell the end of the world or the death of a relationship, but it’s a hard road.

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My Top 10 Favorite Relationships Self-Help Books (for now).

By | Authors and Books, Conflict, Goals, Leadership, Life Challenges, Marriage, Parenting, Relationships | No Comments
I’m a very picky reader.  Because my schedule is so full, I don’t have a huge excess of time to spend sifting through the never-ending pile of self-help resources popping up on bookstore shelves.  For me to invest time in a book, it has to come highly recommended by someone I trust, or it has to have a reputation for being an incredible resource.  Either way, I’ll find the time to read books with transformative content.  I’ve been fortunate to run across many books that meet that criteria.  These are my favorites… for now (and it wasn’t easy limiting the list to 10).

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The Boundaries Backlash

By | Conflict, Kids, Leadership, Life Challenges, Marriage, Parenting, Relationships | One Comment
A few days ago I posted a book recommendation to my Facebook page.  I said that if you could only read one self-help book in 2015, I’d recommend Boundaries by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend.  I didn’t make this recommendation lightly, because let’s face it, there are a lot of great books out there.  There’s something that makes this book uniquely special.  We live in such a permissive world today it can be very difficult to understand how and when to use the word no.  Beyond that, some of us have grown up with a brand of Christianity that presents a picture of love without limits that makes boundaries seem downright un-Christian.  But Drs. Cloud and Townsend do an expert job at explaining the fact that God has built limitations into the universe in which we live, and in you personally.  Being able to set healthy boundaries is one of the most important steps you can take to achieving a healthy and productive life.

This blog post isn’t about the Boundaries book.  I hope you own it, or have access to it and can learn what’s presented there.  This blog post is about the backlash you should expect when you set a boundary with someone.  Whether the person to which you must say no is 2 years old or 80, there is a fairly predictable response that you should expect and know how to handle. Read More

We Need to Talk – How to Handle Difficult Discussions

By | Conflict, Leadership, Life Challenges, Marriage, Parenting, Relationships | No Comments
I hate difficult talks.  I tend to be a pretty soft-hearted individual, so it’s very difficult for me to talk with someone about problems within our relationship.  It’s troubling to think about all the ways in which the other person might misunderstand me or get the wrong impression.  If that weren’t bad enough, I find myself preoccupied with trying to anticipate the objections or arguments they might bring up.  How do I know that I’ll be able to respond to their comments or questions?  I’ll think.  It’s also easy to remember all the difficult conversations that have gone awry over the years and assume this one will be another in that series.

But difficult discussions are a part of life.  Relationships come pre-installed with tension… that’s part of living in a broken world.  As a result, we need to have a strategy for these kinds of conversations.  We need a way of being confident in ourselves so that we can talk about the challenges that threaten relationships.  Not dealing with the tension is not an option.  That’s how relationships fall apart. Read More