The Mulligan

In golf, there’s a shot called the Mulligan. It happens when you hit a terrible shot, and want a do-over. It’s a free re-tee. A concession from the rest of the people playing with you that that shot didn’t happen.

image credit: photo-dictionary.com

image credit: photo-dictionary.com

And they’re glorious. Before the last shot, you were embarrassed. Frustrated. Angry. Confused. Lost in the woods. Ready to quit.

Now? There’s great potential. You have the whole fairway in front of you. The green is wide open. You’re still on your first shot. Still on the tee box, at least as far as the group, and more importantly, your scorecard, is concerned.

Mulligans put you back at *zero.* They erase the mistake.

Mulligans in life

Don’t you wish you could take a mulligan in life?

There’s something you did that you regret. Someone you hurt. Somewhere you went. Someone you trusted.

You dropped your savings on something. You were hurt by someone.

Maybe your mistakes were made public, your life on display as a spectacle for others. Maybe someone else’s stupid decisions affected you. And you’d like your mulligan to cancel out her choices, too.

And you want a mulligan. You’d like to wipe the slate clean.

You’d like to move on as if that never happened. As if he never did ______. She never said ______. You never did ______.

That’s exactly the kind of shot that God gives us. Check this out:

‘He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.’ – David, Psalm 103:12

Do you know how far the east is from the west? Infinite. Because the east and the west never touch. Ever. East is never west, and west is never east. “As far as the east is from the west” means that God has completely removed your sin from you. It can’t be further from you. It’s even better than a mulligan, because it’s like God says, “Go ahead. Take a free shot. But…oh wait, I’ll tee it up for you. And I’ll hit it for you. And I’ll forget you ever even had a bad shot.”

David goes on to say of God:

‘The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him.’ – Psalm 103:13

A father doesn’t hate his child that needs a re-do. He has compassion for them. “He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.” (Psalm 103:9) We may hold on to our hurt, our despair, and our frustrations. We may cling to our past failures. But God offers “steadfast love” to us. He redeems us from the pit.” (Psalm 103:4) In fact, the moment we turn to God we find Him running to us! (Luke 15:20) He’s not standing ready to condemn us all over again. He’s removed our sins from us.

You need a re-do today. A God-sized mulligan. Go ahead. Re-tee that ball.

We serve a God of second chances.

 

Why every married person should be required to get their spouse a Christmas gift

If you’re married, do you get your spouse a gift?

Or do you forego the gift? Because, after all, you don’t really need anything, right? Or…well…this is a time to get other people gifts. Or…our budget just won’t allow it.

Is it really that important to get your spouse a gift? Or can we just skip it and focus on others? Do we really need to focus so inwardly?

Yes. Yes, you do.

If you’re married, you better get your spouse a gift for Christmas. [Tweet that]

I remember in premarital counseling, my pastor told me something about my then-fiance, now-wife. It was over a decade ago that he spoke the words, but I’ll never forget them.

Your spouse is God’s gift to you. They are your treasure. Treat them like they are. – R. Sing Oldham

If something is my treasure, I’m going to do whatever it takes to find, and keep, my treasure. I’m going to guard it. I’m going to protect it. I’m going to go out of my way to value it because it’s valuable! At the end of the day, I’m going to…treasure it.

One thing that I tell couples when I counsel is that a key to remaining happily married is to continue to date your spouse. Look for moments to steal away. Snag a kiss. Go out of your way to make the mundane special. Go on dates. Do little things to show them you love them. Do big things. Do tiny things. Do medium-sized things. But whatever you do, continue to date them. Continue to get to know them. Spend your life getting to know, and love, your spouse increasingly.

I got gifts for Laura when I dated her. I wanted her to know just how much I loved her. Just how much I treasured her. I wanted her to know how special she was to me. I wanted to impress her with the gifts I got. I wanted her to know I knew her well, and that I understood what made her tick and what she valued.

Just because we’re married now doesn’t mean I should want to impress her less. Yes, we’re committed. She’s not going anywhere and neither am I. But if I really love her, I ought to go out of my way to show her.

I ought to get creative. Think out of the box. Listen to her when she says what she likes and what she thinks looks good to her.

Sure, my wife may not “need” anything. She may not even say she “wants” anything. But it would make no sense for me to go shopping for hours, stretching my brain and my budget, to buy stuff for others without buying something for the one I love the most on this earth.

You’d better get your spouse a Christmas gift before you run out of money and ideas. [Tweet that]

I’m not saying you have to get something expensive. Not at all! It has very little to do with a dollar amount, and everything to do with your heart, your motivation, and how well you’ve listened and know your spouse.

Gifts that show you’ve listened well are more valuable than expensive ones. [Tweet that]

And those you love the most should get the best, most thoughtful gifts of all.

What do you think?

 

Feigning exhaustion

I love to run. That’s no secret. I’m among the <.03% of people that actually looks forward to long runs in oppressingly hot, humid weather. I look forward to my feet pounding the pavement, the the breeze (or lack thereof) whipping through the low spots, and the feeling at the end that, though I’m lying on the ground in a pool of my own sweat, I’ve done something significant. Though, in ultimate irony, I arrive at the same place I started.

My son’s developing this love as well. When he sees me getting ready for a run, he gets ready, too. He ties his shoes on extra tightly. Gets his bottle of water squared away. And queues up the songs he wants to hear as we run.

It’s simultaneously cute and manly.

He runs in ~.5 mile stretches. He’ll run ahead of me for a bit, taunting me as he looks back. Or he’ll run right beside me, talking about how much he loves being outside.

Then .5 mile hits, and he gets bored.

So he starts feigning exhaustion. Breathing hard. Retching his shoulders. Slowing down his words as if to catch his breath.

Screen Shot 2013-09-05 at 9.27.54 AM

Rex’s “I’m tired, but not really…” face

“I think…*big inhale, big exhale*…I want to ride in the stroller a while. I’m…*big inhale, big exhale*…getting…*pause for dramatic effect*…a little tired.”

So I strap him in the stroller as we trudge out a few more miles as he jabbers on about monsters, soccer practice, and one of his new-found friends at church.

He wasn’t tired at all! He wasn’t gassed. Wasn’t sore. Wasn’t out of energy.

He just wanted to quit for a while, and he knew what it looked like when daddy was tired. So he did that.

I wonder if we do the same thing in life?

We give up because we get bored. We want something new. Different. Shiny. And what we’ve been doing…well, we’re going to feign exhaustion so we can jump back in the jogging stroller.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. – Paul, Galatians 6:9-10

You see what God’s called you to do. You’ve see it more clearly than you ever have.

  • The ministry he’s called you to start.
  • The small group he’s called you to launch.
  • The book He’s led you to write.
  • The person He’s called you to love.
  • The place He’s called you to go.
  • The job He’s told you to take.

Your “personal best” is way, way better than your perceived “best.” What you can do, who you can become, and the potential that you can accomplish is massively bigger than the expectations culture places on you. Or what your boss thinks you can do. Or who your spouse thinks you can become.

Because you serve a God that’s bigger than others’ expectations.

You have caught a vision for who God wants you to be. You’ve seen where that idea could lead. You’ve realized who it could impact.

But it’s not shiny anymore. It’s actually kind of boring, and the new smell has worn off. It used to give us energy, but now it feels more like a job.

Don’t. Quit. Now.

You’ll reap nothing if you quit now. They’ll reap nothing if you quit now.

Obedience is found in doing the right thing, even when it doesn’t feel right. Even when it feels boring, mundane, and work-like.

It’s time to keep running.

No jogging strollers allowed.

 

 

 

4 things I wish someone had told me about marriage

 

image credit: CreationSwap user Marian Trinidad

“It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” – God, Genesis 2:18

I was a 22-year-old recent-college-grad, who had all of life in front of me, thought I knew the path in  I was headed down, and was fired up about getting married. Also, I was clueless.

Within 3 months, my wife and I would be packing our bags, moving away from what was safe, easy, and comfortable, dealing with broken bones and no money, finding new jobs and a place to live in a city we didn’t know…and figuring it all out as a newly married couple.

I learned a lot in those first few years of marriage. I learned what it was like to live below the poverty line in downtown Louisville. I learned what it was like to make, and enjoy, coffee. I learned what it was like to pull a dual-all-nighter to finish up a couple of term papers.

And though by no stretch of anyone’s imagination do I have married life figured out, there are a few things I wish people had told me before I got married.

4 things I wish someone had told me about marriage

The work/home balance is a doozie (tweet that)

It doesn’t matter what industry you work in, finding a healthy balance between work life and home life is difficult. My cell phone is a wonderful tool…and a tool from the devil. Loving my job is amazing…and a curse. Having extra, outside-of-my-job work is a blessing…and a headache. Finding the balance between work life and home life is tough. And maybe that’s because a balance should never be our goal. For me, it’s come down to prioritizing what’s important. While I’m at work, I work. And when I come home, I try (as hard has I can…and I’m better at it some days more than others) to be home. Present. Active. Undistracted. I want to give my family my undivided best.

Communication will be difficult (tweet that)

I’ve never talked with someone who said, “Communication challenges? Nope, we’re good.” Men and women think differently. Process life differently. And communicate differently. Which isn’t a bad thing. But it can become a bad thing if you don’t notice the differences, and work through them. Maybe even consider working through them with someone else, who’s been down the same road you’re headed. I extrovert my thoughts. My wife introverts hers. So as I’m thinking out loud, she’s processing (read: she’s already processed…I’m a little slow, mind you :)) internally. And when she shares her thoughts, I’m still trying to process out loud what she’s already moved on from.

This was incredibly frustrating our first year of marriage. I felt un-heard. She felt disrespected. Embracing our differences has made a world of difference. It hasn’t always made things easy, but we’ve embraced our God-given uniqueness.

The things you thought were a big deal aren’t. The things you thought weren’t are. (tweet that)

In the big scheme of things, paint color isn’t a huge deal. Neither is where you’re going to eat or what movie you’re going to see. And though in the moment, “You forgot to get the flour!” seems life-shattering, it isn’t.

Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam;
so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out. – Proverbs 17:14

Neither is what car you’re going to buy or what house you’re going to live in. (assuming you’re purchasing within your means, and seeking God in the process) But things like, “Where are we going to go to church?” and “Are we going to join a small group?” are ones that will shape your life. Questions like, “How are we going to intentionally be generous this year?” and “What are our family values?” are ones that will slip right by you. Year after year. Unless you take the bull by the horns and quit ignoring them. “How are we going to spend our money?” and “Where do we want to be in 10 years?” are huge. Choosing moments to come home early from work. Planning a family date night. Surprising your spouse with a little extra money to spend on something they want…those are the kinds of things that seem small, but in the big picture, are huge.

You’re more selfish than you think you are. (tweet that)

As a single person, your free time can revolve around you. And that’s not such a bad thing. You can work on you. Read what you want when you want. Relax when you want where you want. Pursue the hobbies you want when you want. And because you’re single, this isn’t a bad thing. It’s not sinful. But your free time isn’t your own once you get married. To pursue a healthy marriage, look to redeem your free time in light of your spouse. Yes, you still need “me” time. But don’t abuse that.

Anything you wish you knew before you got married?