When you were a child, your cares were simple, and most of them met by your parents. Now you are an adult, those cares become more complex; the responsibilities greater.
Those who marry become a partner in a relationship that the Bible describes as being completely unique among all human relationships. In this relationship, two people become one. There is no other human relationship like it, and therefore none as important. Therefore, there is no relationship that comes under greater stress than the marriage relationship. The enemy of God and his people has waged war from the beginning of time to undermine this relationship, break down that bond, and if possible destroy it completely. We also know this bond is the source of incredible joy and richness of life. It is worth making this relationship as our priority relationship, protecting and preserving it 'until death do us part'. Chapel Hill is a church upholding the value of marriage, and wishing to partner with all couples in their pursuit of a deep and fulfilling marriage.
Many couples also become parents; the gift of new life to care for and nurture is one of the greater 'fruits' of the marriage bond. Our hope and dream is to raise our children to adulthood with the skills to not just cope, but to thrive and to put their faith in Jesus as we do. This too is a difficult task, with an enemy intent on making this as hard as possible. Our first task as a couple is to feed that primary relationship, for a strong marriage is the best environment in which to raise children; like putting them in a hot-house. But there are other skills we can learn too that help as we raise our children through the many stages they must go through in their development.
God did not plan for all to marry and be parents. He has set some aside for his own purposes. The apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 7:32 that he wishes more men would not marry so they could have an undivided devotion toward God. However, the cultural pressure to marry can be intense, and can leave many feeling as though they have missed out. Here at Chapel Hill, we affirm that being married or a parent is not a superior position in life. God will call some to devote themselves to him, and we affirm their special place in our community.
We recommend organisations such as Parents Inc and Focus on the Family for their resources and sound, sane advice. They have fantastic resources for marriage, for parenting, for the single, for the divorced, for the man or woman who is pursuing being a pure and devoted husband or wife.» Posted on 19 Nov 2013 • A Balanced Life
I found $20 the other day. I just opened my car door in a public parking space, and there it was. I love that.
But money’s like that. For all the value we place on it, it’s still just paper that we can print more of, and can be found lying around like a piece of trash. What is NOT like that is time. I’ve never found time lying around on the street. It’s not something people give away in the lottery. But I know what it’s like to spend time badly and have no way of earning it back. When time’s gone it’s gone. And when our time is up, it’s up!
It’s not to say that I don’t want more money. I’m not in danger of being overpaid. But I am in danger of being over-committed. I’m a pastor and contrary to popular opinion (my own view before becoming one myself), pastors are not generally suffering from a lack of things to do. I’m also a father of three, a husband, someone who needs time to rest, who enjoys exercise, and loves to learn...and has a psychotic paranoia of boredom.
I’m one other thing – I think I’m average. I think feeling time poor is true of most of us. We feel like we’re constantly short of time; that there’s never enough for the things we would like to do, and the things we need to do.
Balancing our lives
We would prefer to have more time for the children, for our spouses, for ourselves. We long for what is commonly known as having balance in our lives.
But for all that yearning, what does balance look like? How do we get it, and when do we know we’ve got it?
I tend to picture someone walking a tight rope between two buildings. One miss-step, and it’s a fun free-fall to a messy end. For some reason, this image makes me tense. It doesn’t help me determine what the next right step is, and fills me with dread that maybe I’ve already taken it and am in the free-fall the comes before the end. So, it’s not a healthy image of balance for life.
For one thing, it’s ignorant of reality. Life is not a constant. It’s not like a high-tension wire strung between two buildings. Life is always in motion. There are times when work life is hugely demanding, and times when the demands lessen. There are times when family life is the focus, and times when it doesn’t need so much of our attention.
Rather than life balance being a tight-rope, I see it as a see-saw. Balance is not found in keeping the see-saw static, but in keeping it moving by giving gravity a kick-start.
- Give it a kick-start– it’s not just the weight of the other person that moves the see-saw, we also kick off from the ground. So don’t wait for life to hand you an opportunity for a date with your spouse – give it a kick-start and put it in the diary. Make sure important stuff is locked in. It does require some of our energy.
- Move with gravity – much of life is out of our control, and adjusting becomes very important. If work has eased off, grab the opportunity to go home early and hang with the family. Work pressure will return, but until it does, make the most of the reprieve if you can.
As if parenting wasn't hard enough, today's digital world has brought the added complexity of helping our children navigate an unseen, ever-changing digital world that has tremendous influence in and over our lives.
Not long ago it was normal not to have a phone wherever we went. We could be out of touch for hours! Now that is unthinkable.And they're not just phones, but cameras, video recorders, gaming machines, and powerful tools for posting news for the world to see. If you have ever let your child use your smart phone or digital tablet then you've handed them power beyond your imagining and theirs.
The following are notes from a workshop by digital parenting guru, Mike Fitness (Head of Digital Learning, Hukanui Primary School):
Residents in the digital world
Today's parents of young children have grown up seeing the emergence of the digital age. We remember when the first digital watches appeared...even though all they could do was tell the time. Today's digital watches have more processing power than NASA had available when they sent people to the moon, but we still have the same basic attitude - we observe technology with awe, but as something we wear on our wrist on slip into our pockets. We are visitors to the digital world.
The next generation - our children - are not visitors but residents in the digital world. They live in it. And they need parents to enter the digital world with them and translate for this new world, the rules of conduct and wisdom we have learned in the 'real world' to get on with others and keep ourselves safe.
Recognising the digital blindspot
These tools are changing our views on what we think is appropriate news to share. While it would be strange for someone to stand up in a group and say, 'Happy first birthday son, I'm so proud of you', this is precisely the kind of news being posted every minute of every day on facebook. Somehow, when we look at a screen to share our news we 'forget' all the people who will see what we have written. Consequently awe share information we would not consider appropriate when face-to-face. Mostly it's inappropriate at the harmless end of the scale. It's news to you, but only your mother really cares. But it can also lead to dangerous information sharing ... take a look at this clip.
Managing your digital footprint
So how can we respect this power and help our children be safe and responsible? Mike recommends safekids.com for its common-sense rules on internet safety. Set some contracts with your children that clearly outline the kind of behaviour you expect to see online and how to recognise some of the dangers.
Mike also recommends one of his favourite educators on digital parenting, Kevin Honeycutt, who trains teachers, parents and children to recognise the changing landscape of our world because of the development of digital networks. For instance, there was once a day our mistakes were lost in the mists of time, now, if it's done online it stays online...forever. It will one day be looked at by a prospective employer, possibly even a future spouse. It pays to be careful.
Unleashing the creative genius
It's not all bad news of course. These digital tools have incredible power to do good things. One idea suggested was to require your children to 'rent' the use of the iPad by creating something mum or dad would be proud of. It's an incentive to do more than play games and to encourage our children to unleash their creative genius making comic strips, posters, digital puppet shows... Here are a few worth checking out (these are Apple products for iPhone, iPad, iPod but the equivalent can be found on Android sites).
- Pic Collage
- Strip Designer
- Life cards
- Puppet pals
Have fun and be safe
» Posted on 22 Jan 2013 • Growing Old Together
We highly recommend to you the information on Marriage Builders for a thriving marriage, not simply one you survive.
There are a range of resources on here, from Q&As to videos (also available on YouTube) of Dr Harley explaining his concepts.
What you will find is a depth of insight coupled with very practical advice. This is not rocket science (though it is backed up by science), but nor is there a quick-fix easy way to have a great marriage. There are simple things you can do, but there's no substitute offered for putting in the time to make it work.
The hope offered is the hard work PAYS OFF - the rewards are huge. A consistently 'in love' experience for the life of your marriage. Don't we all want that?
Visit the site, order the books - talk with your spouse, and make your marriage the magnificent thing God designed it to be.» Posted on 29 May 2012 • Growing Old Together
Ever gone out for an anniversary dinner and wished the kids were there just to make some noise so the fact you and you spouse have nothing to say to one another wasn't so obvious?
Physical attraction may lead you into a relationship, but having a friendship will keep the relationship alive long term.
Give it 15 years and a child or two, and any marriage that was once strong can be in danger of looking like a professional parternship lacking warmth and true companionship because the stresses and strains of modern life have pushed the friendship down the priority list. Making time for each other looks like a luxury when work is calling and there are bills to pay, when you are exhausted after weeks of midnight feeds for the two-month-old, when the children are soaking up time being couriered to various activities after school, or when church activities keep you out at nights.
When looking to clarify priorities in a business setting, there is a tool used to categorise the urgent and important, the urgent but unimportant, the important but not urgent, and the unimportant and non-urgent. Much of business gets dictated to by the urgent task; those screaming deadlines that needed to be done yesterday. Under this pressure, we can fail to stop and ask "What would happen if it didn't get done?" Often urgent tasks are not really that important, they've just got a very loud voice. There are other very important tasks that need attention, but won't scream at you. The tragedy is, unless you work diligently on the important, at times to the expense of the urgent, a day will come when the important has become critical, urgent and almost too late to rescue.
Friendship in marriage is one of those important but rarely urgent matters. Friendship is something that is built over time, and also will erode over time. It is long-suffering, but it cannot suffer all things. It is always important, but only what it is almost too late does it become an urgent matter. If friendship starts to cry out for attention, then it's nearing critical boil-over point. If we don't attend to our marriage friendship regularly, a day will come when the need is acute and no quick-fix will work - you're looking at a marriage that has lost its reason for being; companionship and joyfully growing old together. So what do we need to do?
Make friendship a priority.
Recognise that friendship will never draw attention to itself, so make a deliberate commitment to friendship in the marriage as critical to a lasting and enriching marriage.
Make a date
Weekly: Make sure you and your spouse connect meaningfully every week. It can help if you make a set time such as putting aside one evening and protecting that time against all comers. And make sure you really talk. Don't just relay the facts of your life - talk about what motivates you, what your fears and hopes are, where you are getting your passion from.
Monthly: Go out on a date once a month - get a babysitter and leave the home for a dinner and a movie, or to pursue an interest you are developing together. Having something you enjoy together is a big plus. Perhaps alternate who is responsible for organising the event, so each of you get to introduce the other to something you are passionate about and want to share with your spouse.
Annually: Have a weekend together once a year. It doesn't need to be an expensive overseas trip, but make sure you are away overnight away from the home where you get to live life at the rhythm and pace you feel like even if just for 48 hours.
NOTE: This is a repeat prescription!