Puzzle Date Night

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Last night, Tab and I:

  • Turned off the TV
  • Broke out the card table
  • Grabbed some chairs
  • Fired up Spotify
  • And filled up a cup full of assorted chocolates (the most important part)

We then proceeded to open a 300 piece puzzle.

Paris Patisserie Puzzle

Our puzzle date had begun!

Finished Puzzle

Two hours later, Tab and I finished the puzzle. Such a great date idea! Big thanks to my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, for their puzzle date night Christmas gift.

From Across the Net – “Sex and the Married Missionary”

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Photo by Nate Johnston on Unsplash

While I realize this post is geared towards couples on the mission field, I think that there are universal truths here for all Christian couples. Most of all, I appreciate the honesty.

We don’t talk about sex very much. Sure, we might joke about it (the first working title for this article was The Missionary Position), but we don’t actually talk about it very much. Truth is, most folks are scared to death to have an honest, non-joking, realistic talk about sex. Maybe with a good friend, but with their spouse? Gasp. But the truth is, it matters. It’s not the biggest deal, but it’s a real deal.

You can read more here

From Across the Net – “What the Family Dinner Table Gave Me”

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Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

Dinner time is special.

Growing up I loved hearing stories like how my parents met, or why they chose my name, or what it was like when my mom finally gave birth to a boy after having three girls. My parents often asked us to share about our day and encouraged us to ask questions of one another. Even when we went through phases where we didn’t feel like talking, or we siblings rolled our eyes at one another, or we were plain grumpy from the school day, we learned how to dialogue and enter into dialogue, even when we didn’t feel like it. I’m thankful for those life skills I’m still drawing on today.

You can read more here

From Across the Net – “Investing in Your Marriage is Worth the Sacrifice”

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Our child-centered American culture tells us it’s perfectly reasonable to spend money on ballet lessons or travel soccer or private school . . . all for the good of our kids. But spend money on a babysitter or marriage counseling or a weekend getaway? Well, that’s selfish and unnecessary.

You can read more here

Someone, Please Save Us, Us College Kids

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During my junior college years, I listened to “College Kids”, by Relient K, on repeat:

Someone, please save us, us college kids!
What my parents told me is what I did
They said, “Go to school and be a college kid.”
But, in the end, I questioned why I did

I wasn’t sure what I was doing. I knew I wanted more than the part time restaurant job I was working. Surely there was more to life than general level college courses, commuting, and serving food/busing tables. Add on top of that friends moving away for school, girls/dating, and not being sure of who I was in the church (or the church having a clue of who I was)… this was a huge transitory time for me.

(Oh no!) Not for me, not for me
Call it torture, call it university
(No!) Arts and Crafts is all I need
I’ll take calligraphy and then I’ll make a fake degree

I am thankful for those that God stirred up and called into my life during that time. He is faithful. I just didn’t always see His faithfulness as I clearly do now in retrospect. Little did I know that He was preparing me for bigger things. Bigger things like:

  • Moving away from all that I ever knew (family, friends, etc.).
  • Texas. TEXAS. The shock of Southern/Bible Belt culture.
  • My wife. I met her within a month of moving/going to school.

For those in this period of transition, the church (as a whole) does little to help with the confusion. Once students leave the comfort and safety of the youth group, they are launched into church oblivion. This oblivion is somewhere between graduating high school and marriage. The church, inadvertently, preaches that marriage is the pinnacle; once married, growing a family becomes the next prize to be won. But where does that leave those in college? Forgotten.

Eighty grand later, I found out that all that I had learned
Is that you should show up to take your finals and your mid-terms
The party scene is kind of mean; I think it’s sick and twisted
The Navy showed up at my door and claimed that I enlisted

Some churches see the need and build college, young professional, and singles ministries (all of these are totally different ministries that should not be paired together) to bridge the gap till marriage. I am thankful for churches who see this need.

Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash

College kids want to be recognized, listened to, and accepted in the church. They do not want to be treated as second-class citizens who serve as babysitters. Nor do they want to be treated as the “forgotten”, in-between singleness and marriage. We, as the Church, have to do more. We need to change the messages we are silently/subtly preaching through our actions. We also need to point to the stable foundation that is Scripture. College students are hungry for truth (scripture), faith that has depth, and delicious food. And maybe even a chance to come over, hang out, and wash their clothes.

We can do better. I’ve learned that Satan speaks into the silent places the church doesn’t. So let us speak and do.

From Across the Net – “Why Men and Women Can—and Must—Work Together”

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Even though this article seems specific to a church/ministry organization, I have struggled with this at work. Especially when I am in the office alone, working through lunch, and a female co-worker decides to eat her lunch at work and wants to talk. There is a fine line between being professional and alienation.

It’s important—especially as seemingly more and more Christian leaders are caught in a scandal—to make sure the right boundaries are in place to protect your marriage, your ministry, and your soul.

But in doing so, it’s easy to put up so many boundaries you alienate yourself or stifle the giftedness and friendship of the opposite gender.

You can read more here

A Friday Confession

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I used to pray, God, use me however you want. I used to sing loudly, with tears in my eyes, God, where you lead, I will follow. (Tears because I didn’t want God to send me into the backwoods somewhere without air conditioning.) I prayed with a bigger picture in mind; I sang open to the will of God for my life. The subtle current of wanting adventure, thrills beyond the everyday life, thrummed beneath the surface of my prayers. As The Killers sing in their song “Read My Mind”:

I never really gave up on
Breakin’ out of this two-star town

What I was really praying was, God, I’m willing to follow you as long as it means new places, new people, and a lack of monotony. 

Photo by Camille Puche on Unsplash

When I graduated from college back in 2006, I thought I’d get married and leave Longview forever. My big plans were to go back to Southern California, get an amazing job OR start a video game ministry, and life would go on. But then economy imploded… and God has used those 12 years since graduation to shape and form me into something new. I’m not the same guy that I was, and I recognize that as being good.

Do you ever feel like Moses, living in the wilderness with his wife and father-in-law? Being prepared, by God, away from the limelight, in safety? Do you ever wonder if you are being taught to just focus on and impact those around you? I do. Our world is all about the big, the bold, the blaring Coldplay stadium anthems. Anthems that silently whisper to us that if you aren’t doing something big, in life or for God, then you are a failure.

Here is where I want to land: You are not a failure.

In the Bible, God consistently uses those the world does not know for His glory, purpose, and Kingdom. I think we have to pray that our hearts align more with Him and less with the overwhelming expectations the world and even Christian culture can put on us. You can make a difference for His Kingdom where you are, right now. You don’t even have to move. Even though Switchfoot might dare you to.

From Across the Net: “Double-Minded: Christian Culture’s Diametrically-Opposed Views of Marriage and Singleness”

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11 years into marriage, it is easy for me to forget that I wasn’t married until I was 25 years old. What I’ll never forget though were the years in-between high school graduation and marriage. The churches I was a part of did not know how to handle those who were single. Nathan Marchand, whose book I reviewed sometime back, touches on this “single limbo time” period in his piece titled “Double-Minded: Christian Culture’s Diametrically-Opposed Views of Marriage and Singleness“.

What the church needs is consistency. Celebrate marriage with everyone. Help singles maximize their lives where they are and don’t shame them for desiring a spouse. For those rare few who’ve been called to singleness, give them opportunities not afforded to married people. Modes of service don’t decrease with marriage—they just change.

Marriage is hard, but so is singleness. (you can read more in the link above)

Churches, that I have been a part of, have been structured like this:

  • Nursery
  • Preschool
  • Elementary
  • Middle School / High School
  • College (which is often a thrown together class)
  • AND THEN Adult General Population (Big Church)

We go from structure-structure-structure to nothing. I agree with Nathan, I think that we, as Christians, could be doing better. Speaking into the single years instead of letting culture show how it is to be done. By opening up our homes, speaking truth/being real (remembering those hard years), and being intentional with singles ministry (not throwing rando-Bob to deal with this area), we might have a chance. The Apostle Paul said that singleness is a gift and so is marriage.

Photo by Vincent van Zalinge on Unsplash

Revisited – The Onion Layers of Time

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I wrote this back in March of 2012. I can tell you that I’ve chilled out a bit since then. No longer do I feel angry or frustrated when I don’t get to play a game in the evening. I’ve gotten to where I might game once a week (IF). I more so now enjoy the time I’m spending with my family. Just needed to grow up and discover a few more layers. Always thankful to Shrek for that analogy. – Bryan

As we advance in years, I believe that we all wish that we would personally be able to grow and mature with time as well. For some, growth and maturity are unattainable due to personal life choices; for others, growing in maturity and stature are a knowingly made decision.

Before I was married, I had all the time in the world to pursue what I wanted to pursue. If I wanted to go out with friends for coffee at 2AM, I could. If I wanted to sit down and play a video game every evening, for hours on end, I could do so as well. I was a free man and time was all mine.

Photo by Thomas Martinsen on Unsplash

As I dated and was soon married, my time quickly became our time. No longer did I have the freedom to do what I wanted to do. I had to now take my wife into consideration. What did she want to do? What could we do together? There was nothing wrong or bad about this change in the way I spent my time. Like an onion, I had simply discovered a new layer of personal depth; like an onion, my time had also grown thinner in peeling away that new layer.

The birth of our son set into motion the equation of: my time + our time = his time.

Age, growth and maturity force us to constantly evaluate the things that matter to us. Are we spending our free time pursuing the things that we love or the things that we simply like? This got me thinking about video games and my constant struggle to figure out where they place in my life. Do I love them or just like them? Are they keeping me from pursuing the things that I love?

What about you?

Should We Homeschool?

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Homeschooling is not for everyone. I was homeschooled from the fourth grade all the way through high school. I had been falling behind both academically and socially. Public school was failing me by passing me on from one teacher to the next. I had trouble with reading, math, etc. My parents realized what was going on and brought me home. I’m thankful.

Tabitha and I have always said that our children would attend public school. As long as the teachers and the overall district were willing to work with us, we’d stick with it. Our children would be good examples for others to follow. Salt and light.

Enter our son:

  • Helped teach his fellow students in kindergarten
  • Excelled through first grade
  • Has continued in second grade to consistently earn high grades
  • Reads on a middle school grade level

(I can brag as a dad, right?)

The boy wants to be pushed. He wants to learn multiplication and how to write in cursive. Our fear is that his enthusiasm for learning is going to be snuffed out unless he is challenged. We realize that public school can only do so much for him. A teacher has to teach so that all students are on the same middle ground. That means that the higher students in the class are often ignored. Not the teacher’s fault at all. Teaching is hard.

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So how do you make the decision to homeschool?

Throw some dice?

Spin a bottle?

What?

I know the challenges that are involved with it. I have seen them firsthand. I know the impact it has on a family and on a marriage.

Social outlets are essential. Support in the form of a homeschool group help a bunch. The kids never leave the house… ever. Mental fortitude is a requirement.

But how does one pull the trigger?

Trying to figure that out.

I met my wife in hell

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I met my wife in hell. In the bowels of a Christian haunted house. I was playing some sort of motorcycle riding bad boy; she was playing the role of my sister. Nothing weird, just evangelism.

I remember my dorm floor chaplain asking me to be in the play. I wasn’t interested. And yet felt that I needed to be a part of this “scare people to Jesus” movement.

At our first practice, I was immediately attracted to the other woman playing my sister. You see, we had two casts that rotated turns acting throughout the night. No polygamy or Arkansas relationships going on here. Turns out I was attracted to a mean married woman. I’ve never known much about the lady folk beyond Jane Austen.

We rehearsed, rotated through the different walkthrough sets, finalized how things were going to go down. I didn’t notice Tabitha until the next night.

We were between scenes. It was late. I was laying across some chairs, tired. She didn’t see me and almost sat on me. We laughed. I knew I could talk to her about almost anything. I told her something about my Grandpa Ayers, not sure what. The sister I hadn’t paid a second thought to was suddenly front and center.

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Tabitha and I always laugh about how we first met. How we were both in a place where we had given up on dating, on finding the “one”. Heck, Tab wasn’t even supposed to be at school that semester. A cancelled class, much to her displeasure, put her on campus at the same time as me. God is funny.

Life hasn’t turned out the way either of us thought it would. I’m still working in an unhealthy work environment with zero room for advancement. We haven’t been able to have any more children beyond our only son. The Special.

I think we’ve been in a period of refocusing. Trying to figure out who we are as a family and who we want to be.

I’m not sure what the future holds. We could be leaving East Texas; we could be adopting children. I have no idea. But I do know that obedience to God, that stepping out and following Him, has always been hard but good.

Please leave my wife alone

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I admire and respect my wife. For eight years Tabitha taught as a third grade teacher in her hometown. I was with her through the highs, lows, and in-betweens of teaching. Learning that our education system prioritizes/champions testing and scores. That challenges come not only from in the classroom but from outside of it. Taking the form of parents and district representatives. Through it all, her love for educating her students never died. As long as she could close her door and teach, she was happy.

Somewhere along the learning journey we had Wyatt. Tabitha found herself torn between being a mom while working as a teacher. For years, Tab’s mom gave us peace of mind by watching/raising Wyatt. But we lived in that tension of her wanting to stay home. We didn’t think that we could live without dual incomes and the insurance her job provided.

After much time and prayer, we made the decision to keep her home. A decision that has not always been easy but has been good.

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Something weird happened when Tabitha became a stay-at-home mom. A cloud of lies settled in that said, “she must not have anything better to do” OR “she needs to be doing something”. My wife became the dumping ground of low paying jobs and babysitting requests.

I am here today, as her husband, to tell you, whoever you are, that my wife’s freedom comes at a cost. She doesn’t have to watch your kids; she doesn’t have to take that babysitting job for the church. If she does watch your kids, she has made that decision to help you out. Not because she has to but because she wants to. As a husband, I love being able to give my wife that freedom. That ability to be a mom, a wife, whoever else she wants to be.

Whether we have just one child or many, that does not change her role. Whether we choose to homeschool or send Wyatt to public school, that does not change her mission. She is still a mom; she is still my wife. I am proud of her. Please leave her alone.

 

The Onion Layers of Time

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As I posted yesterday, the book Quitter is really make me re-consider different things in my life. Amazingly, Jon Acuff has been able to put into words things that I have thought about but have never been able to articulate.

As we advance in years, I believe that we all wish that we would personally be able to grow and mature with time as well. For some, growth and maturity are unattainable due to personal life choices; for others, growing in maturity and stature are a knowingly made decision.

Before I was married, I had all the time in the world to pursue what I wanted to pursue. If I wanted to go out with friends for coffee at 2am, I could. If I wanted to sit down and play a videogame every evening, for hours on end, I could do so as well. I was a free man and time was all mine.

As I dated and was soon married, my time quickly became our time. No longer did I have the freedom to do what I wanted to do. I had to now take my wife into consideration. What did she want to do? What could we do together? There was nothing wrong or bad about this change in the way I spent my time. Like an onion, I had simply discovered a new layer of personal depth; like an onion, my time had also grown thinner in peeling away that new layer.

The birth of our son set into motion the equation of: my time + our time = his time.

Age, growth and maturity force us to constantly evaluate the things that matter to us. Are we spending our free time pursuing the things that we love or the things that we simply like? This got me thinking about videogames and my constant struggle to figure out where they place in my life. Do I love them or just like them? Are they keeping me from pursuing the things that I love?

What about you?

Surf Report – 12/7/09

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Welcome to a Monday edition of the Surf Report.

.: God :

What does it mean to be a man?

Mark Driscoll believes that the transition from boyhood to manhood is marked by the following 5 events:

1. Leave your parents home.

2. Finish education/ vocational degree.

3. Start a career-track job vs. a dead-end job.

4. Meet/ marry a woman.

5. Have children.

My thoughts:

  • Not everyone is “called” to marry.
  • I agree that no transitional event marks when one becomes a man.
  • There is nothing wrong with marrying later in life.
  • Being single does not equal being irresponsible.
  • Playing videogames/ interest in videogames is not a sign of immaturity. Videogames are as valid as a hobby as sports. (I agree when Mark speaks of how dumb it is when people throw their lives away playing videogames.)

Your thoughts?

.: Life :

“Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” – President Franklin D. Roosevelt

.: Gaming :

Recently Syp over @ Bio Break had a great post that outlined a year of free-to-play MMO’s. This got me thinking, why not play an MMO a week? Sounds like the ultimate MMO tourist challenge to me! As you might have guessed from the header above, I have decided to play Maple Story this week. Time for some quirky Korean fun! Thoughts and comments will be shared in next week’s Surf Report (12/14/09). Stay tuned.

That is it for this weeks Surf Report. Make sure to comment below and have a good week!