Archive for the ‘Love’ Category

When the beautiful Val [tbV] and I finished our time at the Simple Way, our bossman Darin suggested this wooden artwork, that  a friend of theirs could put together for us, with some words that we had spotted on the Book of Facings, as a farewell gift, and we jumped at it.

These words are powerful and are a covenant of who we would like to be as a family and the kind of home environment we are working towards, both for ourselves and for the many people we hope to extend hospitality to who will come and stay with us, and, for a short or long time, become a part of our family.


Some of these are definitely easier than others.

But all of them are valuable to us.

And it feels like we’re making progress on a couple of them.

This list is not all-inclusive by any means, or even close to. But it is populated with words, experiences and principles that we value and want to chase enthusiastically after.

Ah, wait, I’m doing it wrong. I said WE WANT TO CHASE ENTHUSIASTICALLY AFTER! 

[That’s better]

We didn’t come up with this list, so you are welcome to borrow them and embrace them. Even come up with some of your own.

So let’s hear from you then… What are two things you would add to this list if it was in your home?

[For last Wednesday’s Search for MEDS: Married, Engaged, Dating, Single, click here]

If you ask me, ‘Is it better to be married or single, or even maybe to be dating or engaged?’ my answer to you would be, “Yes!”

‘Sometimes I think the so-called experts actually ARE experts.’ [Jack Handey]

True story. And if you don’t know who Jack Handey is, all the worst for you. Go and ask Uncle Google. [On the other hand if you don’t know who his lesser known virtual rip-off second cousin Brett Andy is, you can rectify that by going here]

But that’s not important now. What we’re going to be looking at t0day is Relationships. As in the romantic kind as well as not being involved in the romantic kind. This is not a new post but rather a compilation of posts [and unless you have a good attention span and a large mug of coffee this may require multiple visits to take it all in, so bookmark it] but what I want to suggest strongly is this: If you are presently single, start with the married posts. And if you’re married, make sure you read the singleness stories. Often we let the label of where we’re at in that dictate the stories we decided to read, but I want to suggest to you that it will be so incredibly helpful for married people to be reminded of some of the stuff you used to face when you were dating and to hear some of the struggles and joys of those who are currently single. For the singles and datings to read and get a glimpse inside of the lives of those who are married, especially some who have been for a long time, can give you so much wisdom that will benefit you in your time of singleness or dating. We need to get a lot better at being around those who are in a different place from us in terms of this stuff [and to boldly declare with them that neither place is better than the other, just different, each with its own benefits and challenges].

There is a lot here, and you don’t need to read it all, but there is some really good stuff so give yourself a chance… and if you read something that you know will benefit someone else you know then share it or send them here or cut and paste it into your own blog and pretend it’s your own…

Hopefully there is some huge encouragement or wisdom or maybe just a different perspective that you needed to read.

And please leave your mark in the comments sections of the blogs – agree, disagree, ask questions, leave doodles… as long as you are engaging…

Singleness – A blessing for some, really painfully difficult for others – read some incredible stories that some brave friends of mine have offered to share with us. Marrieds, you really need to hear some of this stuff”

I Kissed Dating [The Parts] – Including the always popular “How Far is too far?” in which the answer at the time was, “Belgium. Belgium is too far!”

Marriage to the right person – You know, your ‘Neo’ person – the “One” – Do they even exist? And how do I track mine down?

Sex in Marriage – A great read for anyone, single or married, as two [and hopefully more later] brave friends of ours share some of their very different journeys:

Ten Ways to Love – These are just some powerful ideas of how to love people in your life well and so extends past romantic relationships and is great:

On the Honeymoon phase [specifically for newlyweds and those heading towards being married]  – written by my wife, the Beautiful Val [tbV]:

How to love your woman better [this covers women loving their men better too] – Val and I looked at some different important aspects of really treating the person in your life who you love well:

One way to love your husband/wife better – Another great series, this time with a bunch of my friends sharing some advice on how to love your person in a deeper, more significant way:

How to save your marriage [Before you need to] – This is an excellent series where I invited a number of my friends [from different stages of marriage] to share one key aspect they felt was crucial to help build a strong marriage together:

Love, even [especially!] when you don’t feel like it – This was an early post on The Weekly Mash [and Peace!] and dealt with such a difficult topic – how do you continue to love your person well when you are in a time of not feeling it [because of a fight or an attitude or incident]:

It’s not about the nail – More discussion is probably needed with this one to get beyond just the humour of the point it is making, but I encourage you to take some time to honestly talk this through with your person – looking at the idea of a time to point things out honestly and a time to just hug [while gently tilting your head to the side so as to avoid the nail]:

How to love well and long – Another The Weekly Mash [and Peace!] post, this one looked at four aspects hidden within a potentially cheesy saying that each contain incredible depth and are worth looking at even further:

How much sex in Marriage? [Oh go and look, you know you want to!]

And no list of important relationshippy things would be complete without some deep words of wisdom in cartoon strip form via the crew of Pearls before Swine:

Tongue Before Swine

[For next Wednesday’s From I do to We do, click here]

[For last Wednesday’s It’s Not about the Nail, click here]

Thanks to my friend Leanne Bennett for passing this on to me. For married couples in particular [but seriously, everyone should watch this!] this is a powerful piece by a guy called Jason Headley:

Sometimes, even when it is completely obvious that there is a nail sticking out of your person’s head the loving thing can still be to give them a chance to speak and to really try and listen to what they are saying and hold off on your answer giving [probably more true generally for men than for women but I imagine it works differently in different couples]. And then also sometimes just valuable to take a step back from the feelings and emotions of a situation and consider the practical solution that your person might be offering as a viable solution. The question “Are you willing to take a nail indent to the forehead to give your person space to be, even if you’re pretty convinced you know they’re wrong?”

Anyone got a story like this to share of a time you were absolutely convinced you were right about something and made your person pay by the way you just refused to accept any other possibility, and then later found out that they were right all along and had to humbly ask for forgiveness?

Which of these two do you relate more to and do you think there is a time to stop mentioning the nail and just start listening or is that too big a thing?

[For next Wednesday’s Search for Meds: Married, Engaged, Dating, Single, click here]

[For last Wednesday’s Slow and Insane and True and Quick which dealt with taking a potentially cheesy saying and digging deep into the meaning there, click here]


I just had a bit of a back and forth Twitter chat with my good friend MJ from back in South Africa and it was really great and lifted my spirits.

Although speaking of spirits, MJ was also the one who gave me the Nachtmusik bottle of chocolate liqueur [my favourite!] for my birthday back in Jan.

In terms of the Five Love Languages that Gary Chapman speaks about – namely Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time and Physical Touch – I would say that receiving gifts is up there for me. I think perhaps the idea of receiving gifts might be more exciting for me than the actual receiving of the gifts, as that hasn’t always been the most positive thing for me in life, I guess. [I tended to run with ‘the helpful socks’ crowd over the ‘tattoo of Marvin the Martian on your butt’ crowd, more often than not].

So Presents vs Presence, which one is it?

Well, having just chatted to the Majay, it is quite easily a non-contest. Presence will win out every time.

I had a bit of a rough time earlier this week and what made it so much harder was I reached out to a few of my key people [plus a general shout out to see if anyone was around] and due to a 9 hour difference in time between South Africa and Americaland [where I currently stay], everyone back home was asleep.

So it was a little bleak. For a short while at least. But then as people started waking up and receiving the messages [the first one I think I got was at 6am South Africa time from my buddy Dreadlocked Mike] they responded in message and Facebookwall comment and Skype invitation and suddenly I was reminded just how much I am loved. It was the arrival of Presence. And suddenly everything didn’t seem so bleak any more.

I feel so thoroughly privileged, almost guiltily so to have SO MANY good people in and around my life. A quality wife and just some really incredible people and so many of them. I am just so thankful and appreciate. There really is absolutely no contest at all. Thank you friends, who hopefully know who you are. And quite possibly some who don’t.

Give me Presence every time. [Maybe with a little bit of Nachtmusik thrown in for good measure]

[For  next Friday’s Well maybe I SHOULD jump off that bridge, click here]

[for last Friday’s Get Your Fax Straight, click here]

I read this quote on Twitter just now that was attributed to Arnold Nonymous and which, on another day I might disregard as completely cheesy, but today I just find completely inspirational:

“Life is too short, so kiss slowly, laugh insanely, love truly and forgive quickly”

But only if you do it. Cos as with hundreds of other “that’s amazing” quotes we can read it and nod our heads and give the “that is so completely profound” look and then return to real life and life as if nothing has changed.

So maybe take an extra minute on this one – use it as a mirror and see if there is one of the four aspects where you need to maybe up your game.

Kiss slowly: Okay, so this doesn’t necessarily apply to every single person at the moment, but maybe if you look to the heart of the phrase as ‘something that is a special thing, don’t rush it’ then it can apply to everyone. What comes to mind is exceptional photos and videos that people have of events that they had absolutely no personal investment in, because they were too busy taking pictures and videos of the thing they weren’t involved in. Put down the camera. Have an event that isn’t captured on film or for Facebook, Twitter or Instaham because you are too busy living it. Savour the meal instead of saving it. Live in the moment instead of scrap-booking it.

Laugh insanely: I don’t laugh out loud a lot, but I do still laugh and enjoy things a lot, but it is usually an inward deeper enjoyment. But then there are some people and some moments that really bring it out of me. Val is one of those people – we connect on a humour level in some specific deep ways that just bring the laughter out. It feels like a successful day when I can make her smile or laugh or snort via laughter for sure. Then there are people like  Mike Strauss, who I have spend so little time with in life, but without fail, we get together and laughter happens. My buddy Reegs is the same and usually naughty laughter in some way, but be it innuendo or movie moment or out there idea or whatever it is, some of my best laughs come with him. And there are many more people. Megan Donald and countless bad movie quotes – ‘not naughty or dodgy, just really bad as in ‘The Pacifier’ with Vin Diesel or ‘Shark Boy and Lava Lamp girl’ or even just weird or scary like the animated ‘Monster House’ or ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ – brought me much smiles and laughter [often when I inappropriately snuck movie one liners into sermons that only she and I knew about] But it is so important to find people who make you laugh [ridiculously and insanely] and then to create spaces for doing so. These people help me stay sane absolutely.

Love truly: I spend huge amounts of time in life feeling like an absolute screw up in this area of my life, when I have disappointed or upset Val yet again and am just trying to figure out how it got to that. I honestly have as a life goal to love her with everything in me and yet time and time again I have to go back to the drawing board and try figure out where I got it wrong. I feel like loving truly means being prepared to take hits periodically because it means you won’t settle for second best or let your friends getting away with not being their best and you will challenge things in love that often may not be received as having been given in love and you will face hard conversations and the need for confession and repentance and long conversations and yet it is still so completely worth it. It is the joy of seeing a friend who had completely given up on you return and initiate or allow friendship once more. It is the deep satisfaction of observing people end up making the right decisions having walked a long path with them when they were making the wrong ones. It means persevering and forgiving and showing grace and crying out to God to keep you consistent and trustworthy and giving you the strength to not give up. It means not settling for the superficial but fighting for real and deep and raw and rough and warm and long-lasting and significant. And so much more.

Forgive quickly: This is self-explanatory and walks hand in hand with loving truly. Getting past ego and rights and reputation and the need to be right and keeping records of wrongs or scorecards and so much more. But I cannot express how super important this one is. And the need to return there. Forgiveness should be a magnet to the feeling of dejavu. Haven’t I been here somewhere before? You have and you need to go back. And go back again. And one more time. Don’t tire now, forgive. And forgive. And once more. Repeat.

Because we grow old quickly, and time rushes us by, and so it may seem cheesy at first glance, but if you give it a moment and some time and a life, you will find how deeply significant and life-transforming this can be:

“Life is too short, so kiss slowly, laugh insanely, love truly and forgive quickly”

[For next Wednesday’s humourous but insightful It’s Not about the Nail, click here]

[For last Wednesday’s Absurd in the hand is worth two, click here]

I think these two cartoons express two sides of family, friendship, community pretty well without needing much commentary to go with them:

good parenting?

Take each of these as a mirror that reflects the way you are currently relating to your family, your friends, and the people in community around you:


For some of us, there might be some work needing to be done. This is a good day to start.

[for next Wednesdays Make Them Shut the Door – on Friendship – click here]

[for last Wednesday’s ‘There should be a Sorry in there somewhere’, click here]

Jesus and the rich young man

One of my favourite verses in the Bible happens in Mark chapter 10 during the story of the rich young man, which you may or may not know. The basic story is that this young man comes to Jesus and basically asks how to become a Christian [without using the language of ‘Christian’ which had not been invented yet] and Jesus gives him a response and the man walks away sad because the ask is too big.

The verse, well actually just part of a verse, that I enjoy so much from this passage simply says this, ‘Jesus looked at him and loved him.’ [vs. 21]

What is interesting about it is that Jesus says it before the young man walks away. I have always believed from the context of Jesus life that He has a very good idea of how the story is going to turn out and probably knows that the young man is not going to accept His message at all. But it is still noted that Jesus looks at Him and loves Him [it was clearly evident to the writer].

The question it has left me with relates to interactions between me and people I want to share the love of Jesus with. If they end up not being interested, do I write them off and move on to the next person, like a one man Jehovah’s witness squad? Or do I look at them and love them? And continue to be friends with them and pursue relationship, not because of them maybe one day making a decision to follow Jesus, but because God has called me to Love everyone around me.

If my response is anything less, then firstly I am not following the example of Jesus and secondly I am regarding my interaction with this person as nothing more than an attempt to ‘earn another notch for my belt’ to one day hold up to God when I stand before Him [He will likely vomit!]

So the journey I am on is one of trying to really Love the people around me. Not because of anything they can give me, or even anything I hope to share with them. But simply as a response to the great Love that has been shared with me from God through Jesus. Of course, given the chance or invitation, I will gladly share with them the greatest thing in my life that has transformed the way I live and think and speak… but that should never be my sole intention.

[to see next Thursday’s Blessed are the Forgivers, click here]
[to read last Thursday’s The Awakening of Faith, click here]

I was very sad to learn recently that there have been a total number of 0 cases recorded of an ostrich burying its head in the sand.

First the Tooth Fairy, then Santa Claus [Father Christmas, as he was called in South Africa] and now this? What’s next, Johnny Depp?
[Just kidding, kids, Johnny is real!]

But yes, according to the American Ostrich Association, that is indeed merely a myth:

‘This tale originates from the fact that the male ostrich will dig a large hole (up to 6 to 8 feet wide and 2-3 feet deep) in the sand for the nest / eggs. Predators cannot see the eggs across the countryside which gives the nest a bit of protection. The hen as well as the rooster takes turns setting on the eggs and because of the indention in the ground, usually just blend into the horizon. All birds turn their eggs (with their beak) several times a day during the incubation period. From a distance it appears as though the bird has his/her head in the sand.’

In other news, I thought this card was pretty funny the first time I read it:

are you really?

But it becomes less funny when that becomes our go-to place of dealing with conflict.

The general apology “for that thing I did which upset you” which doesn’t take responsibility for the specific thing which you know you did which hurt or disappointed someone. We become like the mythical ostrich [What a segue, right?] and bury our head in the sand and hope that a sweeping kind-of-apology statement will be enough.

I have learnt from experience that it doesn’t work like that. Especially in marriage, which often helps to highlight the flaws in your character, thanks to the spotlight of living in very close proximity with another person. It is important and valuable, and sometimes oh-so-hard [but oh SO completely worth it, at the very least in the long run] to look the person in the eye and apologise for the specific thing you did.

“I am sorry that I was not on time when I knew you wanted to leave at 5.”

“I apologise for not making you feel like you are not appreciated around here.”

“I am sorry you felt that the joke I made at the dinner party last night was at your expense.”

And I’m sure a lot worse and a lot less serious than those simple examples. But at the risk of sounding a little bit Dr Phil, it is important to own your sorry in a conflict. A general, “Sorry for what I may have done to hurt you” [unless you honestly don’t know, and then find out so you can apologise properly] does not actually deal with the problem head on and it will surface again at some time [and be bigger and badder.

It is not easy most of the time. But repentance and confession in relationships are such key significant things.
[And making up afterwards is not the worst thing in the world either] You really have to choose to make those a regular part of life in all of your relationships with people.

[For next Wednesday’s Together vs. Not Together, click here]
[for last Wednesday’s Strangers in a Pit, click here]

And now a picture of J. Depp just to prove he’s still real.

Johnny Depp for real

Last night, tbV and I ended up in this room at the back of a Games/Magic the Gathering shop playing some new [to us] games.

Panda eats shoots, then leaves

With titles such as Poison, Dixit and Takenoko, we ‘moved the panda and ate the bamboo’, ‘avoided the poison’ and came up with the clue ‘Rapunzel’ to describe a card that showed a number of knotted sheets tied together leading out of a prison window with its bars cut out.

I know, Geek Central, right?

Or was it? Because the ‘geeks’ I was referring to definitely didn’t include Val and myself.

When we label people, we rob them of the ability to be something else.

When we categorise someone we meet as a ‘jock’ or a ‘blonde,’ an ‘Aquarius’ or a ‘hottie’ and especially as we cross a more substantial line and start throwing out titles such as ‘racist’ or ‘bitch’ or ‘murderer’ or ‘rapist’ to refer to or describe someone, we subtly remove the possibility or at least the likelihood in our minds, and possibly in those of our hearers, of them being anything else apart from that.

Is he ‘a rapist’ or is he a broken and messed up human being? A person who, for whatever reasons, ended up committing the horrific act of rape?

Am I born ‘a racist’? Or as I grow up, and are natured and nurtured along the way, do I at some point start to exhibit racist tendencies, thoughts and actions?

Am I born a ‘murderer’? Or is it possible that somehow along the way of life happening, circumstances took place and decisions were made that led me to the point where I killed someone?

Val and I had a really great time last night, vibing with some new people and learning some fun new games. We were completely welcomed in to this gathering of people we had never met and treated with the utmost kindness and respect. People showed interest in who we were, why we had moved to America and the work we are doing. It feels like doing them a tremendous disservice and injustice to collectively label them as ‘geeks’ and let that be the blanket definition of them.

In the Bible, Paul writes this to the Corinthian church – ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.’ [2 Corinthians 5.17-19]

Let the labels fly away

In a nutshell, he is saying to them, ‘That which you were before you met Jesus, you are no more. You are a brand new you. No longer will you be defined by the title ‘sinner’ or ‘broken’ or ‘messed up’ or ‘needy’ but now you will be known as a child of God. You are a King’s kid. Find your identity in that.

No, she is not ‘stupid!’ She is a delightful, lovely person, who may have done a stupid thing.

No, he is not ‘evil!’ He is a person loved by God [who calls me to love him too] who has committed an act that can only be described as evil.

Let us look beyond the labels, and even possibly start discarding them?

Let us start to see people. Beautiful, fascinating, people.

[To read next Friday’s Getting Busy with it, click here]
[for last Friday’s When the Busy Fades, click here]

This follows on from yesterday’s look at how you view yourself…

Israel needs a new king and so Samuel the prophet is sent to the house of Jesse to anoint Saul’s successor. As he looks at the eldest son, he says to himself, ‘Yes, he looks the part. That must be the one.’

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” [1 Samuel 16.7]


And so David is anointed as king and does a lot of stuff right, but also messes up hectically, committing treason and murder and adultery, and yet at the end of his life, God describes him as ‘a man after My own heart.’

David’s response to the own sin and brokenness in his own life was to repent, to confess his sin before God and to make things right. And God forgives him. He is not remembered for the things he did wrong [although they were still recorded so we can learn from them] but for who he really was, who God saw him as.

There are three things to take from this:

[1] Are you a person after God’s heart? Do you chase the things of God’s kingdom [Loving God, Loving people] or are you following your own path?

[2] Make sure you understand how God sees you. Other people may write you off and think you are not worthy, but this statement still stands – ‘The Lord looks at the heart.’ God knows your worth and your potential, He knows who He has made you and the gifts He has given you and the talents He put in you. Don’t miss out on seeing those because of other voices you may have heard your whole life. Listen to what He is saying.

[3] If that is how God views people, who are we to judge them any other way? When you enter a room, are you drawn towards the popular or those with money or well recognised skills? What about those who may not look like much on the outside, but who God wants us to get to know and Love? Is there someone on the fringes of your life who you think God might be wanting you to connect with and start building a friendship?

[for next Thursday’s The Awakening of Faith, click here]
[for last Thursday’s Loving God means Loving Him/Her click here]