Thursday, July 28, 2011

Exclusion Based on Religion – Part 2 (Finally)

OK, sorry for the long delay between Part 1 and Part 2, I know my 3 or 4 followers have been on pin and needle anxiously awaiting the continuation.  So let me get right to it.

As mentioned previously, I signed up for in a reactive manner, and although I have decided to not date for the next year,  I am intrigued by reading profiles and getting a small introduction to what I can expect when May 8, 2012 rolls around (ladies, don’t wait to start lining up).  I very rarely log on to and actually do a search.  As it turns out, Match sends a daily email, aptly titled, Match by Mail.  This along with a few other tricks, they are extremely successful at keeping interest in the site at a maximum.

Of course, I fall for it and find myself browsing on an almost daily basis.  Please believe me when I say I am not interested in any kind of romantic relationship, if anything, I would enjoy a casual friendship, one where we would more often than not, meet in a group setting.

I like most men, have a “type” of woman.  What we are most attracted to, what we are certainly not attracted to.  I am shallow, I admit.  I will not go into how shallow I am because for the purpose of finding new friends, I am not shallow at all.  As it turns out, I actually am.  There is still the issue of making sure the expectation is clear.  I would be devastated if I were to give anyone false hope of a romantic relationship.  Trust me; I am very clear on this with my profile and the limited correspondence that I have established.

There are however a few things that I shy away from because I know that even a friendship would be hard to maintain.  Like if she is a smoker . . . that’s a no way!  If she lives more than 50 miles away . . . I mean how could that work, right?  Although, that really isn’t a deal breaker, after all, the woman I would like to pursue when May 8, 2012 finally gets here, lives about 260 miles away, and I’ve never met her, and she doesn’t even really know me, and she might be even farther away by then  . . . geez . . . how I digress sometimes.  I’ll save that lack of a story for another post.

The first thing that I look at when looking at a profile is religious beliefs.  Sadly, with much regret, I immediately judge (yuck, I hate that word) a person on what their religious beliefs are. 

Among the numerous choices are as follows, along with my thought process:


Well she’s going to hell.  She doesn’t believe in anything, no spirituality or a desire to know a higher being.  There is no way that we could connect on any level.

At least she knows part of the truth, the wrong part, but it’s a part.  She’s still going to hell but maybe I can lead her into a relationship with Christ.

Buddhist, Islamic, etc:
She has her beliefs set in place and she is likely unshakeable.  I might be able to introduce someone to Christ but convert them, no way.  I have no idea how to talk spirituality with a Hindu or Taoist.  A good Jewish girl, doubtful, at least she is one of God’s chosen people, so maybe some good conversation.

Spiritual but not Religious:
What the hell does that mean?  I’m so confused by this one.  It is often followed up with some silly jargon like, “God and I have an understanding”, “me and him, we’re tight, no explanation needed”, “I believe in God but I don’t think we should talk about him” . . . WHAT?!?  Lord help you, I’d actually love to chat it up with you.  To follow up, I understand the spiritual vs. religious debate but please, pick a side.

There is no way that you have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ the way I do.  But I would love to tell you about my personal relationship.  No priest required.  3 Hail Mary’s and 4 Our Fathers later, we might get somewhere, who knows.

Ah, now we are getting a little closer to home.  Not sure what other means but at least you have a fundamental faith.  We can certainly grow from there.

This is what I envision the Bible means as equally yoked.  We will probably have a few arguments about faith and our beliefs but our foundation will be rock solid.

Now with all of this predetermined prejudice, where am I allowing room for The Great Commandment (2nd greatest really):
 ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
And where am I following The Great Commission:
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

After all, I am only looking to build friendships at this point, no romantic expectations or desires.

Maybe just maybe there is a nice woman out there that, just, needs, a little, nudging, to get her to accept Christ and guarantee her place in Heaven.  Maybe just maybe, she has lived a life of hell and is looking for what Christ has to offer but no one has ever taken the bold step to introduce her to the Savior of mankind.  Maybe . . . just maybe, she has been abused and forgotten her entire life and can’t fathom what it means to have a male friend that would enjoy nothing more than just getting to know her and her story, nothing more.

I need to stop being so narrowed minded; I need to practice Jesus’s teachings in all areas of my life, in all situations, regardless of the outcome.  True, I will never marry an unbeliever nor will I enter into any romantic relationship with an unbeliever.  Common values are at the foundation of any successful relationship, among those, a fully surrender life in Christ is most important.  But, I am strong enough in my faith that I can tilt the table for a teeter-tottered unbeliever toward Christianity.  It is not only my concern, it is my responsibility, and it is what Jesus has entrusted me to do as His follower.

No worries, I will not become a street corner preacher, “come to Jesus or you will all go to Hell”.  But I will certainly display my faith as much as I can.  I will not shy away from a wink or an email from an atheist, agnostic, or otherwise.  My profile is extremely clear and I transparently describe where I am emotionally, romantically, and most important, spiritually.  I have used 3753 of the 4000 allotted characters in my profile description.  So believe me, I am a pretty open book on just as I am here on my blog and in real life.  I don’t lie and I don’t sugar coat the truth.  If anything, I am open and honest, sometimes too much so.  Beyond that, I’m not too sure.

So, if a non-Christian reaches out to me after reading my profile, it is obvious they are looking for something beyond me.  In this crazy, lock yourself in your room, Facebookme, Twitterverse, imagined self of sense world of social media; I believe God is opening a new world of proselytizing.  Kind souls, Children of god, are starting to realize their voices for the first time.  Should we shun them as most of us were in junior high school years ago?  I think not.

Reach out, extend Grace.  You know . . . that Grace that has been given to you so many times . . . that Grace you never deserved yet you received it with open hands regardless of your situation.  Give some back!  It was given to you with the full expectation that you would share it with others . . . Yes, those people, the ones that you would rather not get involved with . . . Yes, that ex-husband or wife . . . Yes, that friend that deceived and betrayed you . . . Yes, that boss that cheated you . . . Yes, that un-believer that winked at you, I mean me!!!

Snake Oil

Even though I'm going through the toughest season of my life right now, and I could share something sad, moving, or inspirational, I'll just share something funny.

It was about 3-4 years ago at the Great Chili Cook-off, which is held at Stone Mountain Park in Georgia every year. The event always takes place in September so hopefully the temperatures have cooled off just a little.  Not this year, it was a scorcher.  I remember I drank 2 or 3 ice cold beers and about twice as many ice cold waters.

Throughout the day of tasting chili and Brunswick stew, I had to keep some kind of cold refreshing beverage in my hand.  One, because of how unbearably hot it was, more importantly because most of the chili was so stinking spicy hot.  Now let me tell you, some of the offerings are quite tasty but some of the other offerings are almost puke in your mouth disgusting.

Right about the time I decided I was going to surrender for the day and give my taste buds a much refreshing break; I noticed a table in the corner of the event, back in the woods, hidden mostly by trees.  Although the location was rather secluded, quite the large gathering had assembled around the tasting table.  Behind the table were two incredibly talented sales men, the kind you see selling magic potion at a carnival side show.  They immediately drew me in.

What these two men were selling, actually giving away, was what they described as the hottest chili on the planet.  On the planet they claimed!  Well, I'm a skeptic and I had tasted what I thought to be pretty darn hot chili throughout the day, so I figured these two men were just trying to drum up their reputation a little bit.  So I walked up and challenged them by saying, "I'll try some, it can't be that hot".  But before I could get my hands on the goods, the mood turned serious.

One of the two overly loud magic potion salesmen got real quiet and warned me that the chili that I was about to eat was extremely hot and that I could change my mind.  Of course by this point, most of the crowd was focused on the next victim, the victim being me.  With all of these eyes peering at me in anticipation, I had no choice but to eat.

What an observation; if the loud man getting quiet with his warning wasn't enough to dissuade me and the crowd anxiously looking on as I grabbed the small spoonful of chili from the man's hand wasn't enough to change my mind, then I deserved what came next.

I boldly ate the bite of chili and as soon as the spoon left my mouth, the crowd of onlookers gasped in surprise and most of them started snapping pictures.  I must have seen 20 or so flashes explode in the relative darkness of the shaded corner we were standing in.  It was about that time that I realized I had made an awful mistake.  The pain of the immense heat in my mouth took about 30 seconds to fully engulf the inside of my lips.  My throat became raw, sweat started beading on my bald head, and fear started pulsing through my veins.  I couldn't even speak.  My only thought was what have I done?

My fear quickly turned to embarrassment and I quickly walked away, fortunately the table of horror was about to claim a new victim so I became old news to the new jester in the crowd.  Of course this was the first time during the entire day that I didn't have a drink.  And because of the remote location of the torture table, there were no vending stands in sight.

I walked as quickly as I could, trying to find something to help quench my fiery pain.  Unfortunately when I did get my hands on a tall bottle of ice cold water, it did little good to relieve the pain.  Time . . . time was my only relief.  The severe pain lasted 15-20 minutes; uncomfortable pain lasted 45-60 minutes.  My lips were still numb when I went to sleep that night.  I won't even start to describe the pain I felt the following . . .  if you know what I mean.

Moral of the story . . . if someone claims to have the hottest chili on the planet and there is a large crowd gathered around waiting for the show, don’t become the main character.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Exclusion Based on Religion – Part 1

So, when my wife left me in April of this year, my initial knee jerk reaction was, “that’s fine, I’ll just find me a new lady”, and I immediately signed up for  After all, I saw all the success from the commercials and heard nothing but positive things about the dating website.  And it comes with a guarantee!  It didn’t take long for me to realize that my decision to jump right back into dating was not only the wrong thing to do but it was probably a very dangerous thing to do.  I reluctantly but wisely made the decision to work on myself and to let my heart heal before inviting someone else in to my life on that level of intimacy.

About the same time I made this decision, I heard Andy Stanley’s message series, The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating.  The 2nd message of the series was directed at men exclusively and with the message, Andy introduced the one-year challenge.  The challenge is to take a year off from dating or exploring new romantic relationships and to focus on self-improvement with the ultimate goal of becoming like the message series tag line, “Am I the person I am looking for is looking for?”

Equipped with a new outlook on my romantic future and the realization that one full year would easily be needed, I went back on and I changed my profile.  I clearly state that I am in a transition stage and that I would like to make friends, Christian friends, with no expectation or desire to move into a romantic relationship.  That being said, if I were to strike up a good friendship, I would not be opposed to seeing where it may lead when the time is appropriate.

It turns out that there are plenty of potential dates friends in the same situation as me.  And surprisingly enough, the honesty of my profile will often open up eyes and will persuade someone to enter a similar, take it slow, kind of journey.  I still check my account daily and will find messages that are hauntingly similar to my story.  I have struck up a couple of email, text, social media relationships but I have yet to meet anyone, in person, through the site, which is fine with me.

So far, I have only laid out the scene for what I really want to discuss in this blog entry . . . but being that what I have already written is its own little story, I will stop here and call this part 1.  So stay tuned for part 2, where I will discuss the implications (my opinion only) of preferential dating, stereotyping, and excluding potential friends (mates) based on religious beliefs and how it relates to The Great Commandment &The Great Commission.

Deep stuff . . . right?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

If Only for One Heart

Speak For A Change

Once again, Alece’s blog, Grit and Glory inspires.  She lays out a perfect inventory of what I intend to accomplish with my communication.

Although I am new to the world of blogging, I know what I want to accomplish through the things that I share.  All of my posts up to this point show my vulnerability and what I hope is obvious; my honest and humble heart.  I pray that over time, more and more people will learn about me, my blog, and my story; hoping that someone can relate with my struggles on some level.

As I take inventory of my life, I am hyper-focused on the things that will make me a better person, knowing full well that a better me is a far way off from a perfect me, only in heaven will I find that version.  I have become like a sponge and every good thing that I come across (through what I believe is divine intervention) I soak it up.  I jot things down and I record them in my memory bank.  These days you won’t often find me without my iPad or a pocket with some note cards and a pen.  I save everything that is positive and uplifting.

I pray that through me, the spirit of God can be seen.  I pray that I can share some of the blessings that I have received with others.  My cup is full, it is my responsibility to take the things that God has given me and share those things with someone else.  I choose to pour my full cup of blessings into my neighbor’s empty cup because I know, with 100% certainty, that God will fill my cup to the top again and again.

I try to communicate in all of the ways that Alece described.   I choose to be an open book and I choose to share myself with truth, vulnerability, passion, love, humility, wisdom, and authenticity.  My prayer is that through the things I share, someone will relate with my sin struggles and they will take notice of the God that I praise and give credit to, through all of my shortcomings.  The ultimate hope being that someone will place their faith in my God of 2nd chances . . . and 3rd, 4th, 5th, chances.

God is good all the time.  All the time God is good.

I have a long and storied past.  My story is one of sin and remorse, of a lost child that was dealt a crappy hand of cards, a story of brokenness and shame, and missed opportunities.  But my story is also one of redemption and praise, a story of hope and happiness, a story of repair and positive reflection.  My story is like so many others . . . and as such, I earnestly pray that my unending faith in God and my love for Jesus Christ will shine brightly for others to see, even in the darkest of places.

I really doubt my ramblings would ever change the world, the country, the state, the city, or even the neighborhood.  But if I can change just one heart, it is all worth it.

"In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present."  -  Sir Francis Bacon

1 = 4 + WH

BUZZZZZZ, BUZZZZZZ, BUZZZZZZ . . . What the hell is that?

BUZZZZZZ, BUZZZZZZ, BUZZZZZZ . . . Is the noise I hear in the sound track of my dream.

BUZZZZZZ, BUZZZZZZ, BUZZZZZZ . . . I can’t remember the last time I dreamt such a vicious and terrifying sound.

BUZZZZZZ, BUZZZZZZ, BUZZZZZZ . . . My eyes pop open, I squint and cover my eyes trying to escape the beam of sunlight that is piercing through the cheap Venetian blinds.  The sun is like a powerful laser that I can not escape.

BUZZZZZZ, BUZZZZZZ, BUZZZZZZ . . . There it is again, what a horrible sound, I quickly roll over to see my phone buzzing and vibrating on the edge of the nightstand, precariously close to tipping off the edge and landing on the carpet below.  I grab it, just in time, and quickly silent the noise that is shrieking from its small but incredibly loud speaker.

My God!

What time is it?

I can’t remember the last time that the alarm clock woke me up.

I can’t remember the last time that the sun was creeping through the blinds as I opened my eyes and welcomed the day.

Slowly, it all starts to come back to me.  Slowly, I start to remember the night before.  Quickly, I realize that I did it again.

I let myself drink too much.  My full intention was to drink one beer maybe two at the most but I ended up drinking 4 or 5.  And I drink the good stuff, none of this Budweiser crap that is 4% alcohol, I go for the heavy, tasty beer.  I usually opt for a good IPA which has a burly hoppy taste and a somewhat pungent smell.  Real beer, beer that tastes great, beer with a stout alcohol content of 9% and above.  One of my beers equals two of your beers.  So, I actually drank 8 beers, all in the span of about 3 hours.

I choose not to drink on most occasions because of the way I feel the day after, I always feel defeated and a little broken.  I feel like I have let myself down.  I don’t like trying to recall all of the things that I may have done the night before.  My memories are always skewed and are only really partially there.  I hate having to apologize to friends and acquaintances for my possible behavior.

Most of the time I can control how much I drink and be socially acceptable, even socially delightful, but here lately, more often than not, I am finding that my control and judgment are secondary to my urge to numb.  To numb the pain that I feel on a daily basis, the pain that I feel from the emptiness left inside of me since my wife left.  Most days the pain is controllable and I lean on God for relief but there are some days that I choose to battle it alone.  I mistakenly take God out of the equation and it's on those days that I always, ALWAYS, lose the battle.

I know that I must fully surrender to God in order to move on.  It is the only way that I will receive full healing of the pain of my broken heart.

It’s tough but I’ll get there.

Oh yeah . . . the equation: 
1 Beer turned into 4 Beers + a late night trip to Waffle House.
1 = 4 + WH

James 4:7 (TNIV)
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Introducing . . .

Today’s post will be short and sweet:

In an effort to find my true blogging identity and to also have a catchy title worth remembering, I came up with I’m a Selfish Prick, knowing full well that I’m not a prick at all but rather just a little faulted.  I’m actually a pretty nice guy that let my own selfish desires drive my attitude for way way way too long.  And in the process, I became an unfavorable person.  But, things are ah chingin’ and God is teaching me to be more outward focused.  And for that, I am extremely thankful.

With my honest and somewhat shocking blog title, I received some negative/positive feedback.  Negative feedback toward the title and how hard I’m being on myself and positive feedback with regard to where I’m at in my walk and my honesty and recognition of my numero uno, top of the list fault. 

The feedback that I received was overwhelmingly along the lines of:
“You are NOT a selfish prick”
“God has forgiven you so you should too”
“You may have been a selfish prick...but you're not any longer”
And my personal favorite is: “Would Jesus introduce you to His friends that way?”

I am so thankful for Christian friends and my extended Christian network . . . we are all Children of God and it is so awesome to see a community of believers support one another through Twitter, Facebook, and Blogging.  Who would have ever known?

So, I have decided, with just a few posts under my belt, to rename my blog to something more, well, I guess you can say, confusing.  I have owned the domain for years, knowing that one day I would use it for a creative purpose.  I’m not fully sure what it means but . . . I figured in any creative venture, you would end up with a thumb smudge on something, somewhere, at some point.  I know that I have put a thumb smudge on a few things over the years.

The way I see it is; a thumb smudge is, after all, a fingerprint, it’s a recognition (sign) of me.  It shows that I was there, that I made a mark; it is my thumb that made the smudge, for that I will be proud.
Beyond that and even more encompassing, I am part of God’s work; I am His fingerprint, an imperfect fingerprint!  I am His thumb smudge.
So . . . without further ado, I am going to rename my blog, for the third and hopefully last time to . . . . drum roll . . . . just kidding . . . Thumbsmudge!!!!  Yes, all one word . . . why not, right?

Never has there been and never again
Will there be another you
Fashioned by God's hand and perfectly planned
To be just who you are
And what He's been creating
Since the first beat of your heart
Is a living, breathing
Priceless work of art

And I can see the fingerprints of God
When I look at you
I can see the fingerprints of God
And I know it's true
You're a masterpiece that all creation
Quietly applauds
And you're covered with
The fingerprints of God
~ Steven Curtis Chapman

If God forgives us we must forgive ourselves otherwise it’s like setting up 
ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him ~ C. S. Lewis

13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139: 13-16

Friday, July 15, 2011

Runaway Train

A runaway train must be an incredibly dangerous and scary thing.  Think about it, tens of thousands of pounds of out of control steel, wood, and pure grit racing away at uncontrollable speeds down a narrow track.  The train conductor has little hope to get the train under control unless he can apply the faulted brakes.  Every sharp turn could hurl the train off the track sending it to pending doom.  Every intersection could bring death and injury to innocent bystanders; the train’s passengers are all at risk of the same fate as well.

If only the conductor could somehow get the brakes to operate properly, then the train will start to slow down and will eventually come to a stop.  But we're talking about tens of thousands of pounds traveling at a high rate of speed, even if the brakes are applied, it will take time and distance before the train is at a safe, controllable speed.  And it will take even more time and distance before the train comes to a complete stop and the passengers can safely unload and the bystanders that are next to the track are completely out of harm’s way.

Just like a runaway train takes time and distance to stop, selfishness too is a hard thing to stop once it gets rolling and it’s even harder to stop when it is traveling at a high rate of speed.  The selfishness in my life was/is like a runaway train.  Although I have managed to apply the brakes, it is taking time and distance to bring my selfishness to a complete stop.  Sadly, the runaway train of my selfishness has caused harm and heartache to those closest to me, the innocent bystanders, the passengers that were expecting a safe journey.

True, the brakes have been applied and my selfishness is slowing down and I am confident the brakes will bring the selfishness to a complete stop.  But there are still bystanders that suffer while the train is still rolling . . .

Just last night, I had the opportunity to reach out to no less than three people to join me for Night of Worship at Buckhead Church, yet my selfishness prevented me from doing so.  

I could have invited my friend Mike, who is also going through the same life event as me, who often spends time alone, or he too, like me, finds something to fill his time with to distract from the pain of our similar life events.  My excuse for not reaching out to him was that by the time I thought about calling him, I had already passed his house, by like ten minutes.  Ten minutes, that’s it.  He could have benefited from the wonderful Night of Worship just as I did.  But I allowed ten minutes to keep me from calling him.

I could have called Jill or Angie or both of them.  After all, they live in the same apartment building, on the same floor, heck they live so close together they’re like roomies.  Anyhow, they are literally on my way, not out of my way at all, would have possibly been a 5 minute inconvenience.  Either one of them would have benefited from Night of Worship.  And to top it off, I thought about calling them way before I passed their complex.

Just a few of the many thoughts that went through my head on why NOT to call were:
They will probably say no.
It will take them forever to get ready.
They won’t want to sit where I want to sit once we get there.
They might want to go to dinner after and then we will have to decide on a place to eat.
Maybe I won’t find parking in their complex.

All horribly selfish excuses to not extend the courtesy of an invite . . . 

Oh, and did I mention this, I was getting to the church an hour early to get a good seat . . . yes, an hour friggin’ early.  There is absolutely no excuse for my selfish behavior.

All I can say is; God is working on me.  I am recognizing my selfishness for what it really is and I am seeing all of the facets that selfishness displays.  The Holy Spirit is convicting me and for that I am grateful.

The Holy Spirit is the brake for my runaway train of selfishness.  This train has been moving so fast for so long, it’s just going to take time and distance for the train to stop.  But it will stop.  In the meantime, I am extremely sorry for the ones that get hurt or miss out on an opportunity because of it.

I want to fulfill the Five POTSC Character Traits.

I’ll get there!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

One Word 2011

OK, so I am 7 ½ months late on the whole One Word 2011 phenomenon but when I discovered Alece’s blog and her One Word challenge, I knew exactly what my One Word was.  Turns out that I have been focusing on my One Word since the middle of March without even knowing it; I wasn’t necessarily focusing on the word itself but rather on the steps I need to take to live out the word in my life.

Honestly, if I had known about One Word in January, I would have certainly picked a different word than the One Word that I have chosen . . .

To be completely honest, I would have likely laughed at the concept of choosing one word to focus on for the entire year.  It would have been so foreign to me since my spiritual walk had ventured so far from where God intended.  I would have likely made a joke of it and picked a silly word like beer.  After all, at that point in time that was all that mattered to me.

Yep, beer, that would have been my word.  It seems like that was all I focused on:
When could I have my next beer?
What event could I attend where they serve beer?
What restaurant could I take my family to where they have a good selection of beer?
Where is the closest store that has beer?
Georgia doesn't have alcohol sales on Sunday so on Saturday I would be concerned about running out of beer.

But now, I am a different person, God has dealt with me and exposed many wonderful things to me through one very devastating situation.

So to my One Word . . .

My One Word is............................................SELFLESS

Sadly, I became fully aware of how damn selfish I’ve been over the last several years on March 13, 2011, when my wife, Toni, of almost nine years sat me down and explained to me, for the first real time, that she was unhappy.  Unfortunately, when Toni finally got the nerve to tell me, she was already done.  There was no changing her mind, there was no option for counseling, there was no chance to save our marriage.  I later came to realize that there were other outside circumstances at play but it doesn’t change the fact that I was a “selfish ass”.  If I had been less selfish and more selfless, I would not have pushed her away. 

I missed all of the silent clues because I was so self-absorbed.  Everything was about me.

I had turned so far from God, that I didn’t realize that I was causing so much pain to the one (earthly) person that I swore to love above all others.  I pushed my wife away, slowly, painfully, I pushed her away.  I wore her down.  I broke her.

I knew that Toni was one to keep things internalized and not vocalize; I knew that she felt every selfish choice that I made first hand.  Yet I chose selfishness above love for my wife, while she chose to absorb it all so that I could have all the things that I wanted; the things that superficially made me happy.

I am truly heartbroken that my marriage is over.

I am even more heartbroken that I destroyed Toni's spirit.

I was not only selfish in my marriage but I was selfish to everyone that I encountered.  I became rude and ugly, I became mean spirited and I lost my ability to govern my speech.  I spoke ugly toward people and thought it was OK because I was being honest, brutally honest unfortunately.  I valued myself and my agenda over all others and I would never give in without a fight.  I wore Toni down and I negatively affected everyone around me.

I was in such a deep cloud of sin that when God finally let something bad happen to me, I couldn’t see Him through the deep dark sin cloud that I created.  I knew where to turn but the cloud blotted God out completely.

Only now, four months later, am I starting to really see all the good things that God has in store for me.  I still pray and hope for reconciliation of my marriage but I am preparing for Plan B, knowing that Plan B may be something that I am totally not fully prepared for.  But . . . I also know that God can provide and that He can answer even the biggest of prayers.  Plan B very well may be a restored marriage where I am the husband that Toni deserves.  If not, that’s OK too; I will continually love her for the wonderful years that we spent together, the years that she put up with this Selfish Prick.  And I will always love her for our beautiful daughter, Stella.

Bottom line is . . . I NOW am eagerly searching out God’s blessings every day.  I am becoming the person that He has called for me to be.  I am not running anymore and above all other things I am becoming a less selfish person and becoming the selfless person that Jesus would be proud of.

My One Word:
I will boldly and wholeheartedly focus on my One Word.

"Let it shape you, guide your decisions, and help you grow. And you’ll discover the big impact one word can make."

Thank you Alece for your challenge and for opening up to us all!  You are great!

Romans 15
1 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.2 We should all please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.3 For even Christ did not please himself . . .

I will follow up in the next few days/weeks with my full story.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Do Men Read Blogs Authored by Women?

So, since this is my first REAL blog entry, let’s make it about . . . none other than blogging!

First things first . . . I am not an English major or anything close.  I hope that my posts will at least “flow” but please forgive any grammar or punctuation errors or if I misuse a word.  Thank you in advance . . . there will be many errors.

Just some quick background and what is to follow:

My name is Chris and I am going through a separation and pending divorce.  I am truly heartbroken over it but I know that God is with me in the midst of the storm and I take great comfort in knowing that He is not only with me but that He is using my circumstance to grow me and I am fully certain that good things will come out of this.

Since my separation started, I have plugged into God #1.  But I have also plugged in to some good Christian support groups one of them being Genesis, a divorce recovery group that meets at Perimeter Church in John’s Creek, GA.  I have also been addicted to social media like Facebook and Twitter.  Over the course of the last four months I have been introduced to many wonderful Twitter’ers and through that I have been introduced to many good blogs.

So, I figured I would share with my friends from Genesis some of the blogs that I have come across so I sent out a group email:

Hi Genesis...ers,

Along with studying God's Word now more than I've ever done in the past, I have also stumbled across a lot of excellent Christian Blogs.
Surprisingly, I have been introduced to all of these blogs through Twitter.  I follow one person that might mention another person and I start to follow that person and that person has a blog and so on and so on.

Most of the blogs I have been reading are authored by women.  Big surprise here, women seem to be able to communicate their feelings and experiences better than men, go figure.

I will recommend a couple of the ones that I have started following or should I say that I am trying to catch up with as most of these blogs started with some kind of life changing event and the blog archives tell the whole story. (That's a long sentence; I'm sure John C wants to add a few commas somewhere.)  So my recommendation would be to click around and find where the story begins.

I find it inspirational to read about someone that has experienced a real and often traumatic life changing event and how they stand strong in God's promises. It certainly helps me to relate and to take inventory of the things in my life and to start to put things in perspective.

I challenge you to search around and find a few blogs that you can plug into, take a few minutes each day and experience how God is using other people's circumstances to bring Him glory.  This is a collection of multiple blogs with links to separate pages. This is a blog of a divorced woman that is living out her Plan B. You will see that her story is much like all of ours. She even mentions the emotional roller coaster that we refer to as "The Slippery Slope". This is a super emotional blog of a young mother and her family dealing with a tragic loss. She has also authored a book about the experience.

So I'll let give the description:

In 2008, Angie Smith and her husband Todd (lead singer of the group Selah) learned through ultrasound that their fourth daughter had conditions making her “incompatible with life.” Advised to terminate the pregnancy, the Smiths chose instead to carry this child and allow room for a miracle. That miracle came the day they met Audrey Caroline and got the chance to love her for the precious two-and-a-half hours she lived on earth.
Upon receiving the original diagnosis, Angie started a blog (Bring the Rain) to keep family and friends informed of their journey. Soon, the site exploded in popularity, connecting with thousands who were either experiencing their own heartbreaking situations or simply curious about how God could carry someone through something so tragic. I Will Carry You tells the powerful story of a parent losing her child, interwoven with the biblical story of Lazarus to help those who mourn to still have hope—to find grace and peace in the sacred dance of grief and joy.

Thanks for reading . . . hope it helps.
Chris B

In response, I received this email from Michelle:

I wanted to start a blog 2 years ago when I started writing a book.  Never finished either.  How do people find the time?  How can we gain balance?

On writing a book and or a blog:
How does a women attract guy readers?
Since guys do not express themselves like women, why would a guy read a blog or a book?  Only when they are going through a trial of some sort?  Would guys read this stuff since it's not cool or part of their chemisty to chat in a group?


And in turn, I responded as follows:

Hi Michelle,

I understand the whole where do you find time thing.  True, I would not have started reading these blogs unless I was going through the trials that I am going through . . . but, I have also dedicated more time to healing and fixing myself so that I can be whole for my next relationship.

I do find the blogs that I read interesting and engaging, and it's true, I seem to enjoy the blogs authored by women much more.  The content is more open and honest, call me girly.  There are a few blogs authored by men that I do read as well but for the most part the content is more surface material and nothing really deep.

All this being said; I am a man that obviously missed the clues of what my wife needed in order to keep our marriage strong and intact.  You are not familiar with my story but my wife left me, according to her because she was unhappy, strangely enough there was another man in the picture when she told me she was unhappy, but "he had nothing to do with it" . . . Ah, I digress . . . 

Back to the main point: My wife told me for the nine years that we were married that we were the perfect couple and that she was happy and from my point of view that was exactly the case.  Turns out, I was missing all of the silent clues.  My wife didn't communicate her true feelings toward me and she held things in with no release whatsoever.  So, for me, I find it refreshing and I guess you could say educational to read a woman's blog.  

To be able to read the heartfelt words of someone, either male or female, is an incredible thing.  I often, and don't repeat this as I am already in danger of losing my "man card", but I often am brought to tears by the things that I read.  And, yes, I cry for sappy movies too.  Don't let me watch The Notebook!!

So . . . I say go for it, write your blog, update it as much as you can and circulate it via Facebook or Twitter or some other outlet.  Guys will read it too . . . they just won’t tell anyone.

And on the subject of blogging, I too just started a blog, literally, like last week created a page.  I haven't even made a real first entry yet, I posted John 15 as my first entry.  So, with your permission, I would like to use your email and my response as my first entry.  I will only use your first name of course.  Let me know.

P.S. I am still praying for reconciliation in my marriage.  I will give you more details of my story at a later date.  And I would be honored to hear, or read, your story.

And Chuck chimes in (Chuck BTW is a Christian Counselor):

I follow several blogs written by women.  I was introduced to them by my son (and his wife)...And yes, guys DO read this stuff - because it actually is cool AND a part of our chemistry to chat in a group.  The dirty little secret about manhood is that we need intimacy (in-to-me-see) just as badly as women do.  Perhaps even more, since there is still a large part of our culture that tries to convince us that we can live without it.  I think just about every one of my male clients would agree...

Here are a couple of my favorite blogs:
authored by women (and a couple of these talk about balance and finding time):

authored by men:  (this guy is a well-published author, and he talks a lot about the art, science, and business of writing)

And my all-time favorite (authored by my daughter-in-law, but seldom updated):

So . . . the short answer to the question is, YES, men certainly read blogs authored by women, AND, we really enjoy them.
We're not all Wild at Heart.  
Darn, there goes my MAN CARD! 

I need to go build something or fart in a room full of men so I can feel more MANLY :-)

Alright . . . Got that first one out of the way.

Friday, July 1, 2011

My First Post - John 15 (TNIV)

John 15

1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. 9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.14 You are my friends if you do what I command.15 I no longer call you servants, because servants do not know their master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.