Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Wedding Parable

We recently attended a wedding in Lake Tahoe that was simply beautiful. Since I didn't get permission to tell this tale, I won't identify any of the guilty participants, such as the guy who performed the ceremony. But since it is a wedding themed day for our family, I thought I would share this story.

The Bride had every detail planned. Specifically, it was planned for a hill overlooking the Lake. It was a short hike up to this spot, which was special because it was the place where the groom had proposed.

When the time came for the ceremony, the snow, cold and physical limitations made it impossible for the ceremony to be held at the desired location.

Plan B was down on the shore, on the dock of a private beach, surrounded by the pristine waters of Lake Tahoe and loving family and friends. It was one of the most beautiful weddings I have ever witnessed and the bride thought it was perfect, even though it wasn't what was planned or envisioned.

When we face of life, whether it is our plans for our marriage, our careers or whatever, we often have some very specific places we want to be and things we want to have happen.

Things never work out quite like we hope.

But, if we can trip through life surrounded by loving family and friends, and if we can be resilient in spite of troubles and setbacks, maybe things can turn out just as good with Plan B (or C, or D or E), as they ever would have if things worked out exactly like we wanted.

Maybe even better.

Some Unsolicited Thoughts

This seems to be the wedding year for the sons of long time friends. First up was our friends in Sacramento that had a gorgeous wedding on the shores of Lake Tahoe. Today is the big day spent celebrating and exchanging vows in front of their family and friends for the son of some long time local friends and his lovely bride.

So, with the 20 plus years (21 years, 3 mos and 13 days, to be precise) of marital bliss that I have experienced, I thought I would share some unsolicited advice for newlyweds. Hope fully this might help some of you just a little in avoiding some of the myriad of mistakes that I have made. This could even be helpful for, not just newlyweds, but those that have been married for just a little longer. Maybe even for me.

****** Interlude******
Sometimes when people ask how long we have been together, I let them know that we have been happily married for 7 years now.......which means that we have now been married for 21 years.
Now, here are those unsoliceted thoughts:

1. Decide to stay together.
Sometimes not separating is as easy as that. Just saying that we are going to stay together and work this out together no matter what happens. Obviously, there are exceptions. But too many people are too ready to entertain the option of giving up on each other if they are unhappy, uncomfortable, unexcited about their relationship. usually those feelings have more to do with you than with the other person. Work through them. Stay together.

2. It's not always as fun as you planned.
Our first year of marriage was just about the worst. Mostly because I was used to living alone and living with and for someone else was kind of a culture shock. If things seem less fun than before, that is ok. Just refer to item number one and things will get better.

3. Read the book Love and Respect.
Early and often.
Their are plenty of good books on marriage, relationships, etc. This is a great one about the differences, needs and how to motivate and care for your spouse and have an exceptional relationship. This one is one of the best, in my opinion.

4. Find some things you like to do together and do them.
When we first get married, it is hard to even fathom that we will ever be apart. But as time passes, we find that work, other people (friends, family, kids) and even differing hobbies can interfere with that time. Find things you like to do together and make sure you make time to do them.

5. You two are now your primary family.
As important as parents are, when you get married, the relationship with them is supposed to change. They are no longer your primary providers, emotional support, immediate family members, etc., etc. That is now the role of your marital relationship. It is better if you figure that out early. You probably won't tho, and it will make things more difficult until you do.

6. Communicate
I have heard that communication is 80% listening and understanding (and probably active type listening), 40% sharing your thoughts and feelings, and 20% being patient. Whatever the formula, learn to do it and do it well. My inability to do this has caused untold difficulties in our marriage.

A corollary to this.....try to make your communication polite. People with manners are more fun to be around. Even if they are your spouse.

7. Stay Fit
Healthy people are happy people. Happy people are better to live with. Some health issues are beyond our control(refer to item #1), but do your best by eating right and exercising regularly. Exercise is a great stress reducer that God gave to us. Take advantage of this gift.

8. Remember Item #1

I know, I am supposed to say put God first in your relationship and things will be dandy. Yes, he is important. But I didn't say that because - everyone else will, - you should be doing that anyway and - without taking some practical steps (see items #1-8) things will be worse than they have to be, whether or not God is with you while you are miserable.

So there you go.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

From Some Friends

It seems to be the season for writing. Or at least publishing. Here are some offerings from some friends of mine in the Tucson area:

These ones, The Root of Christianity and And God Created Woman, are only available locally from our friends Gannon and Rebekah McGhee.I got them lined up and on my to read que very soon. Maybe I will tell you more.

 Building on Jesus’ prayer and Paul’s analogy, Jesus’ Surprising Strategy, by a valued local ministry leader Dave Drum,  examines five levels of unity, each building on the previous one, and each providing a practical, biblical means for the roles you can play to fulfill Jesus’ prayer in our day, in your relationships, and in your city.

My friend Yves Johnson recently moved to Tucson and has written this book, There is No Gray in Moral Failure, and is working on his next.
In There Is No Gray In Moral Failure: A Practical Guide In Preventing Sexual and Financial Misconduct, we discuss two troublesome but seldomly confronted issues in Christianity today--financial and sexual misconduct. We look at how both the clergy and Christians failure in these areas damage Christianity's image.

By way of a little more fun change of pace,  my Friend and co-worker, Jay Korza, has recently released this one. By the way, when I finish this, it will be the first book I have read electronically. Expect a review when that is done.

 In a small portion of the galaxy, Earth is joined with many other worlds to form the Coalition. The Coalition and its member species work together in an attempt to mitigate the inevitable conflicts that arise as more and more of the galaxy is explored and its riches claimed. Daria is a Marine Corps Corpsman assigned to one of the many Coalition’s combined species units............

Since this is an e-book, I will give you a few ways to link to it:

Extinction on Kindle

Extinction on Smashwords

 Extinction Reviews

Everything Going Wrong?

Ever feel like everything is going wrong? Like whatever you try to do seems to go south? That nothing is working like it is supposed to? Like you just keep getting hit with one problem after another?

A few years ago, I had the chance to hear a talk from Doug Stanton, the Author of Horse Soldiers, an account of the Special Forces in Afghanistan right after 9/11.

It was a very interesting recount of the book, filling in some details and bringing the events to life, but one thing in particular struck me and stuck with me.

He said that what Special Forces Training is all about is "Learning to recover quicker from multiple failures."

Most of us can deal with a problem or two, or even a few. But when one problem after another smacks us in the face, it is easy to dive into a shell and do nothing, or freak out and do dumb and damaging things. But the Green Beret has learned that each problem needs to be prioritized and dealt with appropriately even when they seem to keep coming without a break.

So, when you get hit with the troubles that you are sure to face, do what the Special Forces do. Adjust your hat, so it looks just right, figure out what you need to do, get busy doing it and don't be afraid to make adjustments as the inevitable new challenge comes your way.

Here's a little motivator:

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sweaty Toothed Madman

Ah poverties, wincings, and sulky retreats,
Ah you foes that in conflict have overcome me,
(For what is my life or any man's life but a conflict with foes, the
        old, the incessant war?)

You degradations, you tussle with passions and appetites,
You smarts from dissatisfied friendships, (ah wounds the sharpest of all!)

You toil of painful and choked articulations, you meannesses,
You shallow tongue-talks at tables, (my tongue the shallowest of any;)
You broken resolutions, you racking angers, you smother'd ennuis!

Ah think not you finally triumph, my real self has yet to come forth,
It shall yet march forth o'ermastering, till all lies beneath me,
It shall yet stand up the soldier of ultimate victory.

- Walt Whitman

Friday, August 16, 2013

Running (or slow jogging) man

Hey, I finally found my results from last December's Half Marathon. Well, I hadn't really looked before. Should I try again this year? Maybe pick up the pace a little bit?

The challenge is finding time for those longer training runs.
Tucson Marathon 2012
Tucson, AZ - Sun, Dec 09th, 2012
Final Time & Place (A/G/O)
09:36 / mile
Place (A/G/O)
James's Stats:
1/2 Mara

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Tell Me A Tale

Tell Me a Tale

Or How Storytelling Helps People Learn

Ever been in an interminable lecture where the teacher drones on and on about something? They often spice it up by reading words off of the screen, or asking you to read the words off the screen. From time to time, they even throw in a few pictures to grab your attention. Then end result is, you are glad when the class is over and you retain very little of the information that was presented.

The sad thing is that the information was probably useful and applicable, or even vital, for your professional or personal life.

How does a presenter or teacher overcome this and help your listeners to learn. Or, even more importantly, not get a reputation as "boring" (because if you have that reputation.....)?

The best way I know, is to tell stories.

Remember those learning styles?
  • Visual (spatial):You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
  • Aural (auditory-musical): You prefer using sound and music.
  • Verbal (linguistic): You prefer using words, both in speech and writing.
  • Physical (kinesthetic): You prefer using your body, hands and sense of touch.
  • Logical (mathematical): You prefer using logic, reasoning and systems.
  • Social (interpersonal): You prefer to learn in groups or with other people.
  • Solitary(intrapersonal): You prefer to work alone and use self-study
Storytelling can address the styles that are not addressed in a typical lecture.


 Listeners can see their imagination to see, hear, smell, taste and interact with the stories. And the parts of the brain most vital for learning and retention often cant distinguish between what really happened and what we imagined. Yes, our rational brain knows we were not there, but, as far as other parts of our brain knows, the story could have been us doing the tasks, talking to the people involved, feeling the emotions the person in the story felt.

A good storyteller will help us see the story. A great storyteller will put us in the story and help us engage with it. And that is where we learn.

And, much to my discredit, you could have got this concept much better had I told a tale.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A few pages more

Here are a few more currently on my bookshelf that I am working through.

One of them has some people and events that I am familiar with. Can you guess which one?


Today would have been Louis Armstrong's 112th Birthday. Take a listen to this as a tribute to his life and music.

And here is one for my love: