Pink & Blue: Session 6

Pink+Blue=Purple 

1. Review of the Crazy Cycle:

Crazy Cycle: Without Love > She Reacts > Without Respect > He Reacts > cont’d

2. Review of the Rewarded Cycle:

Rewarded Cycle: His Love > Produces her Respect > Her Respect > Produces His love

  • His love motivates her respect and her respect motivates his love.

3. Introduce new concept of “unconditional” in the Rewarded Cycle:

His love…Regardless of her respect…Her respect…Regardless of…

*Question: What does the word “unconditional” mean to you?

a. Unconditional definition: Without conditions or limitations; absolute.

b. Have you ever been in a situation where you responded without respect/love?

  • Remember…“My response is my responsibility.”
  • Your spouse doesn’t cause you to be who you are, they reveal who you are.

c. Husbands are commanded to love their wives. Wives are commanded to respect their husbands. It’s not about your spouse, the command is for you!

Read: Ephesians 5:22-33

*Couples Question: In one sentence, how would you sum up these verses in regards to marriage?

d. The Rewarded Cycle deepens and demonstrates our love and reverence for Christ as we do this UNTO Christ.

  • Our marriage is another opportunity to not only obey but glorify God. He uses it in our lives to sanctify us.
  • Pink plus blue makes purple. Purple is the color of royalty = holiness.
  • A godly marriage demonstrates Christ’s love.

Pink & Blue: Session 5

Sorry it has been so long since we’ve posted a recap on our Pink & Blue series! The last two sessions were video sessions, so there was not a recap. Not to mention the topic of those two session was sex, so I don’t think I could have shared on here anyways! ;)

If you missed the first two lessons, you can see them here:

Session 1

Session 2

Session 5 (below) was more of a discussion-focused lesson, which was great. It was neat to hear different stories, tips, struggles, etc. from our friends. Here are the scriptures, talking points and questions that we discussed. Good stuff! Session 6 in a couple of weeks will be the final one. We have enjoyed sharing with our Community Group this semester and pray that marriages have benefited! God is good.

Pink & Blue: Session 5

Your Parents

Proverbs 22:6

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Questions:

  1. How did your parents “training” as you were a child influence you as an adult? What did you learn to do/not to do from them?
  2. How would you describe your parent’s marriage & how do you feel that affected your perception of marriage?

Us as Parents

Genesis 2:24

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

-Our main responsibility as parents is to train our children to love the Lord & become good adults & send them off.

-We are the primary authors of our children’s hearts.

Questions:

  1. Do you feel like your home is kid-centered? Is your child your trophy? What’s the reason for this?

Proverbs 31:10 “An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.”

-A good marriage is the greatest gift you can give your kids.

-We need to prioritize marriage. Will you run or will you fight?

  1. How important do you feel it is to be “one flesh” (unity) while parenting?

-Never talk down to your spouse in front of your kids.

-Individually focus on your own relationship w/Christ & that pours all areas of life (spouse, parenting, work, etc).

Us as Us

Hebrews 13:4

“Let marriage be held in honor among all…”

-Your marriage is to be honored. Held high. Your spouse should be your object of affection.

-You have your children for 18ish years in your home. You have your spouse until “death do us part.”

-Remember your date night & keep it holy. Needs to be a priorty!

-You need time away with your spouse: daily (10-15 min uninterrupted talking, date nights 1-2/month, trips once a year).

-Laugh together

Questions:

  1. When was the last time you dated your spouse? What are some examples of things to do on a date? give examples: put kids to bed, have date night at home (cook, watch movie, talk, etc), swap out nights w/nights, meet for day dates
  2. Why do you think so many people struggle w/dating?

Tips for Date Nights at Home:

  • fire pit & sit outside
  • cook dinner together after kids go to bed, have candlelit dinner
  • play cards or board games together
  • get takeout & watch a movie
  • put a blanket down & have a picnic in the living room
  • put on music and dance
  • make your favorite appetizers (cheeses, crackers, chips & salsa) and have a glass of wine on the patio
  • play video games
  • work out together (walk, run, exercise)
  • take a bubble bath together
  • spend the night in the guest bedroom
  • sit outside and read together
  • give each other a back rub

Date Night Conversation Starters

  • If you could store up only one hour’s worth of memory in your mind, which hour of our marriage would you want to remember?
  • If you could have witnessed any biblical event, which one would you choose?
  • When do you feel most loved?
  • Which strengths in your life bring you the greatest satisfaction?
  • What is the best way for me to encourage you?
  • What time of day is best for us to talk?
  • If we could just drop what we’re doing and go do something fun, what would it be?
  • What is one of the most adventurous things you’ve ever done?
  • In your opinion, what makes a great parent?
  • What are five essential values we want our children to embrace above all others?
  • What can we do as a couple to change the world in which we live?
  • What goals would you like us to accomplish in our marriage in the next year? … five years? … ten years?

Pink & Blue: Session 2 Notes

(This session was split up – guys & gals, so here’s the lesson for each)

Pink & Blue: Session 2

Guys

Ephesians 5:33 – “Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.”

  • Recap of The Crazy Cycle – Without love she reacts without respect. Without repect he reacts without love.
  • The key to motivating a person is meeting their deepest felt need during conflict. Her need is LOVE. How do you show love to your wife?

COUPLE

Closeness

  • When you want to be with her Face to Face.

Genesis 2:24 – “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”

Song of Solomon 3:4 – “…when I found him whom my soul loves; I held onto him and would not let him go…”

*Example: Little girl grabs Daddy’s face to “look at me!” while she’s talking b/c she doesn’t think he’s listening otherwise.

  • Practical appications: hold her hand, hug her, physically touch nonsexually

Openness

When you aren’t secretly mad at her.

Colossians 3:19 – “Husbands love your wives and do not be embittered against them.”

  • Openness will help you learn a great insight about sex!
  • Practical applications: share your feelings, tell her something about your day, talk without harshness or grunting

Understanding

  • When you empathize with her.

1 Peter 3:7 – “You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she Is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”

  • LISTEN to her! Try to understand her and care for her concerns.
  • Ask her if she needs a listening ear or wants advice before responding.
  • Understanding your wife will flood her soul with your love.
  • Practical applications: listen to her, repeat back so she knows you are listening, express appreciation for her contribution

Peacemaking

  • When you resolve/reconcile with her.

1 Corinthians 7:28 – But if you marry, you will not have sinned…Yet such will have trouble in this life…”

1 Corinthians 7:4 – “The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.”

Matthew 19:6 – “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together let no man separate.” – Who is the “man” in this phrase?

  • Unity is vital in marriage and peacemaking is a key to achieving it.
  • Practical applications: apologize when you are wrong with “I am sorry.”, keep the relationship up to date – resolve the unresolved, pray after a hurtful time

Loyalty

  • When you are completely committed to her.
  • Til death do us part.

Malachi 2:14 – “…the wife of your youth…she is your companion and your wife by covenant.”

Hebrews 13:4 – “Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.”

  • Pornography – make a covenant with your eyes.
  • Loyalty isn’t about your wife – its’ about your covenant with Jesus Christ.
  • Practical applications: don’t look at other women, speak positive things to her about others, do not bring the “D” word

Esteem

  • When you treasure her above all else.

*She is the Queen – make that known to your kids.

  • Practical applications: verbally support and honor her in front of her children, praise her, value her opinion

Gals

Ephesians 5:33 – “Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.”

  • Recap of The Crazy Cycle – Without love she reacts without respect. Without repect he reacts without love.
  • When you honor and respect a man, he wants to serve and love.

CHAIRS

Conquest

  • Appreciating his desire to work and achieve.

Genesis 2:15 – “The Lord God took the man and put him into the Garden of Eden to cultivate and keep it.” – God instilled the desire to work into their being from the beginning of time w/Adam.

*Men view their career as a call. Thank your husband for working! Watch your negative comments related to his work or career – they could be construed as disrespect in his blue hearing aids.

  • Practical applications: tell him thanks for going to work today, cheer his successes, ask about his dreams

Hierarchy

  • Appreciating his desire to protect, provide, and even die.

1 Timothy 5:8 – “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he is denied the faith and is worth than an unbeliever.”

Nehemiah 4:14 – “…Fight for…your wives and your houses.”

*If someone were to break into your house, who would protect? Who would fight to the death?

*On the Titantic, women and children were ordered to go on the life boats first. Men stay behind – they are prepared to die to protect.

Ephesians 5:23, 24 “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.” – This is a huge responsibility for men!

  • Submission means to respect the spirit of your husband. It’s an attitude.
  • Respect his desire to be an umbrella of protection over you, his desire to provide for you and his willingness to die for you – this will motivate his love.
  • Practical applications: admire his heavy role, tell him you are deeply touched that he would die for you, praise his commitment to bring home the bacon

Authority

  • Appreciating his desire to be strong, to lead, and make decisions.
  • Husbands see themselves as strong and feel called to be strong.

1 Corinthians 16:13 – “…act like men, be strong…”

1 Kings 2:2 – “Be strong, therefore, and show yourself a man.” – Naturally men are taller, bigger, stronger, and have authority

1 Timothy 3:5 – “If a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” – Give him authority or you are setting yourself up for failure.

  • Practical applications: tell him he is strong and squeeze his muscles, praise the good decisions and minimize the criticism of the poor ones, honor his authority in front of the kids – if you differ, do that in private

Insight

  • Appreciating his desire to analyze and counsel.
  • Men are solution oriented – they want to solve the problem.

*Sometimes when you are telling your husband what’s the matter, you just want a listening ear, but because of how he’s wired he gives advice. If you get mad at him for providing advice, he can feel judged or belittled which feels like disrespect.

  • Practical applications: tell him thanks for your advice and knowledge, let him fix things, applaud his solutions, tell him upfront you need a listening ear

Relationship

  • Appreciating his desire for a shoulder to shoulder friendship.

Song of Solomon 5:1, 16 – “…friends…O lovers…This is my beloved and this is my friend.”

  • During courtship, you were best friends. Hold on to that!
  • Men like you to just be there – not talking, just there.

* Take a walk and talk, shoulder to shoulder. They will open up more this way. Or, sit with him as he works on a hobby.

  • Practical applications: tell him you like him, do recreational activities with him or watch him do them, don’t always talk about the kids, encourage time alone for him

Sexuality

  • Appreciating his desire for sexual intimacy.
  • Act of worship, not perverted.

Proverbs 5:19 – “Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; be exhilarated always with her love.”

  • Respond to his desire for sex and see if this man of honor does not soften and reach out to serve and love you in many ways.
  • Devil does everything he can to get us together before marriage and everything he can to keep us apart after.
  • Practical applications: initiate periodically, respond positively more often, let him acknowledge his sexual temptations w/out shaming him, dress up for your man like when you were dating

Pink & Blue: Session 1

We LOVE our community group. We have made some really great friends – truly awesome people. We feel blessed to have each one of them in our lives. They have helped us, prayed for us, encouraged us, and challenged us. The leaders of the group, Justin & Kate, are taking the semester off from teaching because they are welcoming their 4th child into the world next month! So, Ryan and I felt led to teach on marriage and are excited about what the Fall has in store for our group & pray that God strengthens our marriages in a mighty way.

We started this new study last night and I thought I would share each Monday following each Sunday that our group meets, 1st & 3rd Sunday of each month, a summary of our lesson via bullet points. We basically are working through a compilation of several marriage studies (and/or conferences) including Love & Respect, 5 Love Languages, & Love & Laughter. We broke it down into 6 sessions & dubbed it “Pink & Blue.” (In true Dixon way, we had to make it our own.)

Session 1: Pink vs. Blue

  • Marriage is obviously difficult. Primarily because we are selfish.
  • Communication is #1 problem in most marriages. Also known as the key to success.
  • Often we hear but don’t listen. Often we are thinking of what to say next when someone else is speaking, rather than listening.
  • Girls hear with pink ears, talk with pink mouths and see with pink eyes. Guys hear with blue ears, talk with blue mouths and see with blue eyes. Not wrong, just different. (see illustrations below)
  • This poses communication issue.  We aren’t speaking the same language.

Illustrations:

1. In a disagreement, if he goes silent & withdraws this can feel like an act of hostility & lack of care to her. In actuality, he’s trying to calm down – protect her. In a disagreement, if she complains or wants to talk it out, this can feel like contempt to her husband. In actuality, she’s trying to connect with him.

2. The wife talks about wanting to lose weight and eat healthier foods. So, the husband sees a book about dieting and in an attempt to show her love buys it for her as a gift. She gets upset at him because with her pink eyes, she sees it as he’s calling her fat.

This communication issue & language barrier leads to the Crazy Cycle…

  • Crazy Cycle: Without Love > She Reacts > Without Respect > He Reacts > cont’d
  • Just as when a husband feels disrespected, it’s natural for him to be unloving, so too when a wife feels unloved, it’s natural for her to be disrespectful.
  • Deepest need for a man is respect and the deepest need for woman is love.
  • Men serve and die for honor- warriors. Women are born as nurturers – loving is easy for them.
  • Wife needs to show unconditional respect, just as husband needs to show unconditional love.

Verses

1 Peter 3:1,2- “In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and RESPECTFUL behavior.”

Ephesians 5:33- “Each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

Love Has Spoken. Grace Worship LIVE.

This February our church’s worship band, Jon Jenz and Friends, were set to record a live album. We really enjoy our church and these guys are just one of the reasons why. Every week a team of professional quality volunteers come together to practice and lead Grace Community Church in worship. A Thursday night was set on the calendar and all the people and pieces were in place for this live event. The house was packed and the night was fabulous. What a great evening and event.

When we moved to Tyler a couple years ago, I contacted the technical crew to see if they needed any help running sound on Sundays. They were, of course, excited about another possible addition to their volunteer tech crew. Since then, I have been on a steady 2-3 Sundays a month rotation. This has been a bitter sweet gig for me in that I really enjoy helping out with audio but the 7:30am-12:30pm Sunday chunk of time required for this role is prime time for family activities, namely sleeping in and long, drawn out breakfasts. Non-the-less, I am happy to be an extension of this great team of musicians and singers. God has been teaching me to serve Him in this capacity with a selfless, servant’s heart each Sunday I’m at the helm.

When hearing about this upcoming live recording project, I expressed interest in mixing the tracks once they were recorded. I have been blessed to be able to work on a few multitrack projects here in East Texas and plenty of opportunities in the live audio/video field back in Lubbock. Recording is fun but mixing the recording is my favorite. After the night of worship, I received the 30-some-odd tracks and began to pick it apart, one element at a time.

Mixing the the process- where you take each recorded element (ie. bass drum, snare drum, tom 1, tom 2, tom 3, cymbal mics, etcetera, etcetera,) and “mix” them or combine them to a final stereo audio file that gets pressed on a CD or uploaded to for ears to consume. After some edits, general mixing and meeting with Jon, we continued to chip away at the project. Moving houses and therefore studio space was thrown into the set deadline but we “set our face like flint” and pressed on. It’s literally a chipping away with large projects like this. By large I mean: full drum kit, percussion, baby grand piano, keyboard, 2 electric guitars, bass, acoustic guitar,  7 vocalists and  2 audience mics. That many elements with full frequency ranges and dynamics out the wazoo, it  is quite a task to chizzle out a little piece of the frequency spectrum for everyone to be heard.

I begin attacking a project like this by labeling, listening, getting a general volume balance, separating the elements in the stereo field based on stage location that night, doing some corrective EQ, some mild compression to help tame the dynamic vocals in particular and then repeat. I spent about 1-2 weeks on this phase. For this project we added in some minor vocal tuning as well which is no easy task phrase by phrase, one vocalist at a time for 12 songs. This took another week or 2. From that point I continued to work on the mix and make some edits to clear up mic bleed and random, useless ambient noise in the tracks and during transitions.

Jon joined me when we were ready to get picky with the mixes. We listened to each song, he took notes, we made changes, adjusted, then proceeded with the next. We had a great time of fellowship doing this and the tracks really started to take shape. It is so valuable to have someone on the project with ears like Jenz and his dedication to the project was greatly appreciated. This fellowship and technical babble is always my favorite part of the process.  It also makes me feel more sane knowing that other people are as particular about this as I am!

After we worked on this colaborative mix sessions, I continued to work alone for about a week making it all fit together as best I could. I would make a disc, get it to Jon, he would critique, I would tweak, get him another disc, tweak, and so on for about another week. After that, it was time to work on the master disc.

The mastering process is used to adjust the overall EQ and loudness for the project as a whole. This song order and song transitions are a mastering engineers main responsibilities. Typically on bigger budget projects this is sent off-site to a mastering engineer who specializes in this phase of the project. In effort to save some money and time, I insistently yet sheepishly took on the task. We ended up creating 4 masters, each slightly different than the other. Mostly the differences between them was midrange balance up and down. This is the frequency range where vocals, electric guitars, the snare drum, acoustic guitars, keyboards and piano reside. This is also the range where human ears are most sensitive. Overdriving this range causes ear fatigue. Under driving this causes intelligability and loss of vocal detail. Tricky, very, very tricky.

Anyways, we decided on “master D” and it was off to be duplicated. After 1.5 weeks they arrived. This Thursday night we attended the listening party with the band and those involved with the production of the project. Graphic designers, the audio team and the band were gathered in anticipation for the unveiling of the long awaited release and the cue to press play on the CD player. I was nervous. Every stink’n sound system and room in the world sounds different and therefore every time I hear a project that I am intimate with on a different sound system, I can’t help but critique and question EVERYTHING I DID IN THE MIX!

After I stopped pacing like a rabid dog, I took a chance to take it all in. It was so neat to see the reactions of those gathered there Thursday night. You could see how people were nervous when they knew “their” song was up next, when “their” solo was about to take flight and how “their” album would be received by friends and family. Very neat indeed. Smiles are contagious.

It has been a great blessing for me to work on this project. It has allowed me to accomplish another piece of my new years resolution. Spoken as any mix engineer, sure there are a few things that I would like to change but now it’s over, too late, pressed into 1000 shiny CDs, wrapped in plastic awaiting a new home. All in all, I am confident that it is a great success and a good representaion of how our worship band sounds each Sunday. Great musicianship, quality singers and genuine love for our Creator and Savior. A lot of confident humility is allowed for those involved in this one. It is available on iTunes and is worth a listen. There are some magical moments on this album. Check it out!

Busy Overdose

Sorry we’ve been slacking on the blog front! Apparently life took  an extra dose of busy over the last few weeks and forgot to tell us. So, we’ve been running around like mad trying to catch up to it! As of today, we are just now getting back into a somewhat normal routine. Here are some updates from the last few weeks…

*I entered my mom into a Facebook contest that Sterling Grace, a local jewelry store, was doing in honor of Mother’s Day. They were asking people to submit a vintage photo of their mom along with a story of something “old school” she still does. The winner would get a $300 jewelry makeover. We looked through, found the perfect photo, wrote an entry with the help of my siblings, and submitted it! And…SHE WON! She had a blast picking out her new jewelry. Such a neat store with beautiful stuff! Here was the entry:

*We got to go to the Chuy’s VIP Sneak Preview Event! Remember when this happened? I kept hearing rumors about Chuy’s opening here in Tyler so I decided to email someone and get to the bottom of it. I found the email address for the VP of Real Estate & Development on the Chuy’s website and sent him a little email (what? you gotta do what you gotta do when it comes to creamy jalapeno!). Well, he confirmed it right away and then because of that very email (and my friend Joe Terrell) it made the news! Anyways, my new BFF Michael Hatcher invited me to this VIP Sneak Preview night – how fun! I was totally giddy about the whole thing and impressed that he remembered me. We got to order whatever we wanted off the menu – it was all free and delicious! First time being a VIP & I felt like all that & a bag of chips w/creamy jalapeno, of course.

*Ryan has been working so hard for hours & hours on finishing up the mixing & mastering of our church’s live recording and it sounds amazing! I am SO proud of him. His talent truly blows me away. Our friend & worship pastor, Jon Jenz, just sent off the final disk today to be duplicated & hopefully it will be up for sale close to mid-month. So exciting! We are blessed to have such talent in our church to lead us as we worship our creator each week. Can’t wait to see the final art & have an album in hand! Proud of Jon, his team & my audio engineer hubs!

*I turned 31. Wow. I’m officially beyond 30 – like actually IN my 30’s now. How did that happen? This year’s birthday was bittersweet. Sweet because I got to hang out with dear friends, enjoy good food & wine, and felt massive amounts of love for which I am beyond thankful. Bitter because all I could think about was last year’s birthday and what happened exactly one week later. Realization that this was the first birthday without my dad brought sadness and tears, but at the same time, it brought even more determination and motivation to make this next year count. I’ll strive to “keep on keepin’ on” as a 31 year old to make memories, hopefully make a difference, and live each day to the fullest.

*We went on a fabulous canoe trip with friends on Buffalo River in Arkansas. It was, in one word: amazing. We drove up to the river, literally unpacked our cars into the canoe and took off for 3 days. Canoeing during the day & camping on the rocky shore at night. The river was gorgeous and very clear! Who knew bathing in a river could be so refreshing?! The river had a steady flow to it, so canoeing was relaxing and peaceful- minus the sporadic splash fight ambushes. :) Oh, and there was this one incident of me crashing into a tree, getting scraped & bruised up and almost flipping our canoe, but other than that it was peaceful! At least now I have a story to tell. This trip was seriously just what we needed at this time in our lives. God, as usual, couldn’t have coordinated the timing any better really. With June 4th approaching, this gave us time to breathe, reflect, cry, set new goals, and just be still.

*The High 5 to the Sky 5K is coming up this Saturday, so we are working on final details for that. We ordered 80 shirts for all those who preregistered and each day, more come trickling in! The charity that we are donating all proceeds to, Project 7, is just thrilled and are providing water and other items for all race participants. So great & overwhelming to have such support as we celebrate the life of my dad in this way. This event will be such a special tribute and we appreciate all of you who are helping us make it special!

*Addi & Kam are LOVING summer. All throughout April, Addi would ask, “is it summer yet?” They have been waiting patiently for swimming weather. This year we have several options of places to swim and they are absolutely eating it up. Our neighbors have a pool, my little brother Jeff has a pool at his apartment, and several other friends have pools too! Bonus. So we’ve been swimming a lot since the weather turned warmer and the girls couldn’t be happier. I think they might be part fish! Or as they would tell you, mermaids.

Into The Woods.

This weekend me and 4 of my church buddies ventured into the woods. Destination: Lincoln Park Parrish. Ruston Louisiana.

There is just something about being out in nature staring at a campfire for hours on end. It’s relaxing. It’s good for my soul. It’s therapeutic. I really think that I am going to have to increase my time out in God’s creation this year. We enjoyed gourmet campfire food and endless coffee thanks to my buddy’s generous and never-ending supply of Keurig k-cups. What? You don’t have a Keurig coffee machine with you when you go camping?

We left Friday afternoon for the 2.5 hours drive East, setup camp in the headlights of our vehicles and started the fire. When the coals were hot, we grilled some steaks and fire-baked some potatoes. Some late night coffee and caramel yummies from a gracious wife topped off our evening. Conversations grew until our sleeping bags’ calls grew louder.

First night was a bit louder than expected. I am a light sleeper since the birth of Addison. That daddy sense coupled with my audio “ear” wakes to just about any out-of-the-ordinary noise. Like my tent-mates SNORNING! Around 7 am, our camp was awakened by a crazy loon outside our tent squawking with the joy of the Lord. The new day was thankfully dry, for now at least. I was able to get the fire revived with a little “breath air” and then our breakfast burrito factory cranked up. Ashed bacon and eggs are bomb! Really though anything with cheese in a tortilla is just fantastic.

After breakfast and a devotional which encouraged a “day of prayer” we broke off into some solitary times with our Creator. After about 15 minutes of walking around in exploration mode, the rain that we had been hoping was only speculation showed up on the scene, and in full force. Thankfully I was able to take refuge under a random RV awning to wait out the storm which I monitored with my iPhone’s Weather Channel Ap. What? You don’t have 3G service when you go camping?This allowed me to be still and read John 13-15. Great stuff.

A few hours later the clouds broke, the skies opened and we were able to proceed with our day and lunch. My buddy in charge of lunch for the day had a grip of ingredients available for us to make our own campfire stew. Burger meat, onions, peppers, potatoes, spices and BBQ sauce wrapped into individual aluminum foil packets created to cook on the hot coals of our fire. Bomb. Some delish cookies his kind wife sent along followed the lunch. I love cookies!

Shortly after lunch 1/2 of our crew had to head back to the real world. Temps dropped in response to the day’s rainfall. Dinner Saturday was some great chili doused with more great meaningful conversation. Ear-plugged this time, I snuggled into my mummy sleeping bag, pulled the draw string tight around my chest and fell fast asleep.

Sunday morning brought more coffee, more breakfast burritos and a 5 mile run around the park’s lake…4 laps. Not a huge fan of laps no matter how scenic the surroundings. My mental state just becomes dull as my inner ear invokes dizziness. The temps were perfect. The companionship with God on my run was just what I needed. Some comfort from my heavenly Father. The other 2 guys that remained got some valued time in too. One fished in the picturesque lake. Another biked on the famous mountain bike trails. Camp was broken down, the SUV was loaded and before we knew it we were on the road home.

I LOVE CAMPING! The smells, the foods, the sounds, the smoke in my eyes, all of it. They seem to awaken memories of great camping experiences in the past. One in particular with my brother-in-laws and my father-in-law in the mountains of Ruidoso New Mexico many years ago. Still though my favorite part of this trip was that it was knitted with conversational thread of God from the moment we met, ’til we parted ways. From how we can serve Him to what He’s been teaching us recently. How we can work to be better men and servants in our families and how important it is to sometimes just sit at our Savior’s feet and listen. It is so great to have other men from different backgrounds unified in Christ to gain from and share with. Everyone has something to contribute. This weekend was exactly what I needed. A great time with my brothers in Christ strengthening relationships only deepened through adventures like this. A great time to feel alive again. A great time to think, refocus and return with motivation. A fantastic journey into the woods. It does make sense though why trips like this are so valuable. We are in fact, Wild at Heart.

The Search for God and Guinness.

I recently  finished a great book titled The Search for God and Guinness. It was recommended (thanks Jordan!) to me as a great look into the history of beer and the faith and generosity of the Guinness family. I love both topics (obviously God more than beer) and to find them both in the same title, I had to check it out.

Stephen Mansfield’s (author) primary objective was to explore Arthur Guinness, the Guinness family tree and what motivated their philanthropic tendencies. With 3 main branches of this family, broken down by profession, brewing, banking, and ministry, he expands on how they made such significant impacts on their world and circle of influence. In a nutshell, the Guinness family were faith driven, very giving and sensitive to the needs that they saw in their peers, their country (Ireland), and ultimately their world. Doers of the Word, not just hearers. Really it’s an amazing story of overcoming overwhelming adversity by going above and beyond to selflessly help those in need for now over two and one-half centuries. Read it! Be inspired.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the book, and the point of this post, was the history of beer and it’s support by the church.

Hold on, WHAT?!

Yes, beer, it’s brewing and social celebration was supported throughout history by Christian people! I don’t remember any flannel-graph beer mugs in my Sunday school lessons! Mind you, drunkenness was not nor has been supported in scripture, but the responsible consumption of fermented goodness, yes. Really, not until the 1920’s and America’s short vindication of all alcohol with the act of prohibition, did the church begin it’s no tolerance mission. Much changed in the church during this and the preceding decades in the way of legalism and is still suffering through this sickness today. Not enough room to go there in this post.

From it’s beginnings in ancient Egypt, to the early church, the reformation and beyond, beer has been an integral part of the social scene for God’s people. Jesus’ first miracle was in creating 180 gallons (900 bottles) of the best wine ever, out of water, for the attendees of a wedding TO ENJOY. Um, hello?

Many famous godly men including the legendary Martin Luther, John Wesley, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards and other spiritual giants of the past were advocates for beer. In fact, they constantly thanked God for the provision of the frothy brew and likened it to one of His richest blessings. Pints were shared in taverns while discussing theology and the mercy of God. Kegs of beer were sent as gifts and stipends to preachers of the Word.

When questioned for his freedom in Christ displayed in his acceptance of beer and wine by the strict rulers in the Roman Catholic faith, Martin Luther (who by-the-way is one of the sole reasons you and I have a Bible today) responded, “Do not suppose that abuses are eliminated by destroying the abused. Men can go wrong with wine and women. Shall we then abolish and prohibit women?” Love it! Christ did not save us for a life of religious regulations, He saved us from a life of religious regulations.

So much more to the book than this, so much. Get it already! Read it! Be inspired.

The Spirit of God, some end-of-year self-motivation and this book have inspired me in so many ways; here are three.

1. One of our goals this year is to be more philanthropic (giving) of our time and resources. It’s a shame to fathom the amount of time and money we waste on ourselves and I’m burdened by this reality in our own lives. The Guinness brewery was the highest paying employer in Dublin in times of the countries greatest depressions. Their company benefits out-weighed what Google, Microsoft, and Apple can provide to their employees today without doubt. With the generous support of the Guinness board and the vision of the brewery’s doctor to eradicate sub-par living conditions, they were successful in providing healthy dwellings, education, and quality social activities for not only the thousands of Guinness workers but changed the whole city for the good. All with the heart of a servant for the betterment of humanity. As Jesus states in Luke 12, “To whom much has been given, much is required.” I have been given TONS (not financially per se) and it’s my turn.

2. I am impressed by how Arthur’s family was so missional minded. He began, his children followed, many lives were changed as a result. Modeled behavior at its finest. One of the greatest evangelists in history was Henry Guinness (a grandson of Arthur), who influenced more great men like Charles Spurgeon, Dwight Moody and William Booth (founder of the Salvation Army). I have been blessed with great Christian legacies and intend to pass that on as far as my influence goes. Both Traci and I come from grandfathers then fathers in ministry. Radically, I want to fan this flame and inspire others for Christ. I am blessed to lead my family in this quest. Now more than ever, radical is right.

3. I enjoy great beer and wine and am saddened by the dark stigma that surrounds the topic. To be grouped into the “drinkers” category in reference to those who abuse it, saddens me. I am free in Christ and am so thankful for ALL of His blessings. All things God creates are sacred. I love Dr. Pepper but only drink it on occasion, mainly because as they have so many empty calories. Likewise, beer is a special and restricted treat. [Side-note, dark beer has been proven over and over again that it’s actually great for your health “Guinness is good for you.” when consumed in moderation, Dr. Pepper however isn’t.] From this point forward, “Ryan drinks beer and wine.” is not a secret. By the way, I homebrew and am looking into hosting fellowship opportunities involving deep Bible studies and brewing. ;) To God be the glory.

In celebration of finishing the book and the revelations gained, there was only one thing that had to be done to properly finalize the impartation. I got out a tall glass. Rinsed it with cold water. Pried open a Guinness Extra Stout. Poured the beautiful, rich, dark-stout-goodness into the glass and let the micro-bubble carbonation rise while forming the tan colored, cream-textured head at the top. I brought the glass of Guinness to my mouth, parted my lips, tilted it and partook. Yum! Espresso and dark chocolate flavors accompanied by berry like bitterness from the English hops surround my tongue with a touch of dust-like dryness that developed through the swallow [smile]. All in honor my great Creator, his man, his faith, his likeminded family and their amazing influence.

Cheers to my God and to Guinness!