Make Her Glad You’re Home

3473338897_889e375ae0_oI sit in the car after a hard day’s work. The engine turns off and the interior light blinks on. Looking into the passenger seat, I pull up the mental energy to head into the house.

I’ve read the books. I know what to expect. My wife is just now pulling a delicious home-cooked meal from the oven. The children are playing thoughtfully and respectfully in the living room. My wife comes over to me and, with glowing affection, gives me a kiss and asks about my day. She looks radiant having just taken some time to freshen up.

Then cold, hard reality sets in. My real wife in my real house caring for my real children. She has made the hard decision to stay at home and home-school our kids. She doesn’t work outside the home even though she excels in the working world. She uses her tremendous gifts to care for and raise our children well. I am very grateful.

But with that gratitude, I better mix in some understanding. She has been working since the kids got up at 7 AM. No real breaks and always on call. With my four kids, she is essentially running a day-care (except she doesn’t get off at 5 PM). In addition, she has managerial functions of acquiring and delivering food for this hoard of little mouths. She is handling deliveries of mail and supplies and paying the bills. She then also coordinates the frequent home maintenance and repairmen who come and go.

And she often packs my lunch in the morning.

Far from the books that have so many recommendations for her about how she should take care of me when I go through the door, maybe I should consider how I should care for her.

Many men, including this man, feel like once we’ve worked hard all day, we are entitled to a little rest and relaxation at the end of the day. For that matter, I’m entitled to some good sex as well. I’ve worked hard. I deserve it.

But this attitude is not biblical at all. The oft-quote sections of scripture speaking to men never explain what I can expect from her. Far from it, every time the Bible talks to me, it reminds me of what I should be doing for her.

It’s called servanthood.

Loving my wife as I love myself means that as I sit in the quiet of my still car, I need to be aware that she is tired too. She has been working harder than I have in a poorly defined job without the accolades of employment. The hard-working employee gets a pat on the back from his boss. The hard-working homemaker gets the occasional dirty look at the grocery store and the periodic blog post reminding her that she is a second-class woman.

Her job is harder than mine.

Despite the books reminding me that my wife should greet me at the door with a smile, a warm hug, an understanding ear, and a hot meal, I am the chief servant. The question I should ask is what can I do for her. Far from demanding that she act glad to see me, maybe I should care so well for her that she will be glad to see me. I don’t need to see how much I can take from my family, but how much I can give.

As the daddy of four little people, it is completely unrealistic that my wife will be refreshed and thrilled to see me at dinner time. She will be at her most harried. But, rather than think of how terrible it is that God made things this way, what if this is an opportunity? You see, I can be the hero. What if I told her she could take a break and I cooked dinner? What if this is a chance to haul the kids all into a bath? What if I could help her and not drain her?

So, when I step out of that car, I will walk through that door not asking what she can do for me. No, I will walk into that house and help where I can. If I do this right, maybe she will actually be really glad to see me.

And sex, hopefully nice sex afterwards.

-Chip

Photo by Tiffany Terry and used with permission

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Facebook’s New Gender Options Don’t Go Far Enough

gender restroomFacebook has recently broken new ground in the discussion of gender. The bold step has been taken to greatly expand the number of gender selections available to its users. You and I are no longer limited to the very stilted “male” and “female” that has plagued us for so many millennia. Soon such options as androgynous, bi-gender, intersex, gender fluid or transsexual will be available to all who wish to take advantage of it.

This is quite forward thinking for Facebook and is not just good cultural relevance, it’s good business. As our culture becomes more sensitive to gender it will be an asset to the dubiously gendered to not be chained to such labels in social media. With all of this progress, I think you will be surprised how I feel about it.

They didn’t go far enough.

You see, breaking the shackles of gender identity took courage, but it was really a feint to avoid the much deeper and harder discussion boiling under the surface. Sure this allows them to pacify those who don’t like the old labels, but what they are really doing is avoiding those of us who don’t just want to free of our gender labels.

That’s right, they are avoiding the discussion of species labels.

In a clever marketing gimmick, Facebook isn’t addressing those of us who don’t want to be stuck with the label of “human being”. It is a bit silly for the Amoeba-Americans among us to discuss gender at all.

Imagine my frustration as I log into Facebook one day and I see that I have all the gender options. I am a heterosexual male so no need to use one of the new options. But when I want to tell the world that I am a Tyrannosaurus Rex, no option for that. This is extra demeaning as I am going through the difficult process of trans-speciation from human to Tyrannosaur. I am in a no-creatures-land.

And I can’t even express myself in social media.

It is difficult to describe the hardship I felt as a child. I knew from a very early age that I was really a Tyrannosaur, but people only saw a human on the outside. The hurtful comments and strange looks. How many science classes have a sat through where I am told that I have been extinct for millions of years? The lunch lady always insisting that I eat vegetables on my plate even though I knew I was only supposed to eat meat. Seeing my brother’s skeletons ripped from the ground and displayed in museums. It’s a lonely life to be a Tyrannosaur.

Even the American Psychological Association has not recognized that being the wrong species is normal. Many of us who know we are wolves, cacti, plankton, and crustaceans are treated as “mentally ill”. The intolerance is staggering. It is all the more frustrating compared to the new openness to self-identified gender.

The trans-species community has been oppressed for generations. Far from the new open-mindedness toward gender, even the most liberal seem to shy away from those who know themselves not to be human. Imagine being trapped un a human body and yet feeling the inner horseshoe crab crying out from inside you.

In an age of ‘sensitivity’ and ‘tolerance’ there is no room for us. There are no special laws saying that keyboards should be made for those with two fingers, no requirements that vehicles be made to handle a large tail, no paperwork written in Tyranosaur. It is easier to ignore us than to take the time to understand our special needs.

So should we applaud Facebook? I think not. They are avoiding the real problem by acting as if gender is the only choice. We, who are in the trans-species community, know that this is not courageous. It is wholly inadequate. Gender isn’t the only choice we need.

-Chip

The image above is courtesy of David Wallace and is used with permission.

Count Vicegrim’s Letters: Chapter 12 The Infernal Spirit

The Count Vicegrim LettersThe Demon Mudpot’s Annual Review regarding the Temptation of the Patient in His 26th Year

You absolute buffoon,

How many times have I warned you about how crafty the Enemy’s Spirit is? He is crafty and dangerous. Never, ever underestimate him. He is silent, invisible, tireless, and unbending. We have searched for ages for ways to prevent his interference and we are convinced that to this very day he is silently looking into the pits of hell watching our every move.

He is watching me write this letter Mudpot.

You will never surprise him and you will never overpower him. You will never see him or hear him. You will never know what he is doing until he makes his move and now he is moving on you Mudpot!

On to your review.

The Good

Sure you have created cracks in the marriage and are encouraging his relationship with his secretary. But that doesn’t really count if he starts repenting.

I don’t feel like complimenting you today.

The Bad

So, let me get this right. You were relaxed and cocky. You assumed that you had everything under control and that even the Enemy’s Spirit couldn’t stop you from continuing the slow spiral.

Then he moved and you were caught off guard.

You see, it was no accident that the other pastor saw your patient’s web history. It was no accident that he brought it to the Senior Pastor and that they together confronted your patient. Nor was it an accident that they approached with firmness and grace to your patient. Finally, it was no accident that the Enemy’s Spirit moved your patient to repentance on the spot and that he was then moved to discuss his depression and pornography use with his wife.

You were set up by the Enemy’s Spirit.

I told you that pastor was dangerous. He is so attuned to the Enemy that he often moved to do things in coordination with that blasted Spirit. I have put in another request to have him killed but it is expected that the Enemy will block that request yet again.

The only credit I give you in all of this is that he is still hiding his feelings for his secretary and lied to the staff about them. This is a hopeful sign in an otherwise dreadful year.

You see, confession in one area causes humility and that humility can creep throughout your patient’s life into other areas. He may feel like he should confess to his wife that he is fantasizing about other women. That would be a disaster. Don’t let that happen.

So he will be meeting regularly with one of the other pastors for accountability and getting separate counseling. You need to be prepared for this. Both can be dangerous but can be managed with appropriate preparation.

First, you must make him cling to his sin. Remind him of how good it feels and how much he would hate to lose it. Minimize its impact on him.

Second, continuously remind him of the great lies that we have impregnated the broader culture with “Nobody is getting hurt” and “It’s just looking” and “It is none of their business.” Inflame his sense of independence so that he feels no need for other vermin.

Third, encourage little lies to his wife, family, and friend. Even unrelated lies. He needs to have lied recently to others to encourage him to “not tell the whole truth” when it comes time to talk with the other pastor and counselor. Your goal will be to make his sin, “No big deal.” Because you are dealing with someone who went to seminary, it won’t do to simply use common cultural lies. So the Christian Western Culture department has created christian versions of them.

“Judge not lest you be judged” is a wonderful one because it is actually quoting the Enemy’s Book. Sure it’s perverting the meaning, but that makes it all the more satisfying. Make sure that any mention of his sin is “judging” and that anything but praise is “not being accepted.” Another good option is to use the word “legalistic” for anything sinful. We have pushed it to the point that even naming a sin can be “legalistic” and “not about grace.”

One caution about causing your patient pain right now. The Enemy’s Spirit is excellent at taking pain and using it to show your patient that he needs to depend on the Enemy. Suffering is wonderful, but it is also handing our Enemy a weapon to use against us. What you want is complacency and that does not happen when your patient is suffering. Make him comfortable Mudpot, very comfortable.

Finally, be careful as you read these options because you can become overconfident. The Enemy’s Spirit is smarter than you, stronger than you, better informed that you, craftier than you, and he loves to play with us. It is truly sickening.

Be afraid of him.

-Count Vicegrim

Image created by Cavin and used with permission

Valentine’s Day: An Opportunity to Fail

dreamstimefree_163036Guys, you know what I’m talking about.

She has this all planned out. She has been planning her Valentine’s days since she was a little girl. The day begins with a full breakfast cooked to perfection. You leave for work with a look of gentle sadness in your eyes, knowing that you are leaving the gems of your life behind. She is pleasantly surprised to find a little love note in her purse from you. Yes, you did it again, a poem hand written by you that is perfectly in tune with her every heartbeat. She sighs gently to herself that she is the luckiest girl in the world.

You send her thoughtful texts from work reminding her that you know she is the most beautiful thing that God ever created. You instruct her to dress in something formal because there is a surprise date this evening to somewhere special. Right as she is finding the right dress, the doorbell rings. She answers it to find a delivery of the largest bouquet of roses she has ever seen. You sent a dozen for every year you’ve been married.

You arrive home looking fresh and relaxed after another day of killing it professionally. She is wholly secure in her financial future because of your great work ethic and careful planning just in case the worst happens. She looks radiant in her dress. You take one of the roses from the bouquet and with a deft hand you make a beautiful corsage on the spot that goes perfectly with her dress. You walk to the car holding hands as you drive to her favorite restaurant.

She is so surprised when the waiter beings you to a private table. You order for yourself and then show how carefully you have been studying her all these years by ordering what she would like as well. You check with her to be sure, but you were exactly right. As you sip champagne together you reminisce over all the great times you have had over the years. You tell her that when God made the world, he made her just right to be the perfect match for you.

You drive home holding hands in the car. When you arrive, you hurry over and open her door. When you go inside, you dim the lights and turn on her favorite romantic music. As you take her in your arms, she breaths a gentle prayer thanking God for such a wonderful husband. As the evening progresses, well, let’s just say it went well from there.

Not intimidating at all, right?

The real you wakes up on February 14th, nearly forgets to shave, hurries to work. Yells at the dog on the way out. Has a very stressful day at work. Rushes home and decides to fix that leaky faucet in the basement. After a long and exhausting day your head hits the pillow and you look into your dear wife’s eyes. Those hurt, angry eyes.

Crap, you forgot again. At least you weren’t away fishing this year.

None of us guys can live up to the Hallmark commercial. She won’t smile as big in real life as the girl in the Kay Jewelers commercial did. The fact is that only one word describes Valentines Day.

Intimidation!

We aren’t up to this. If she just liked sports more this would be easy. But no, she has dreams of romance and kindness. Less beer and more wine. What is a guy to do?

You have a couple of options. The worst one is to ignore the day. Sure it’s scary, but I promise she knows it’s coming. If you forget/ignore the day, she won’t. Minimal effort really is worth more than no effort at all.

Nearly as bad is a passing mention. “Happy Valentine’s Day honey” with a kiss on the cheek. She has dreams of being romanced and a simple well-wish will not cut it. You need to do more.

Some men fall into the trap of thinking this is about money. If you spend sufficient funds on flowers, chocolate, and a cute night gown (let’s face it, the night gown is a gift for you). To be sure, money helps. Particularly if you are a tight-wad or gifts are her thing. But let’s not pretend that money is honoring and showing her that you prize her. Money spent is only as good as it shows her that she is precious to you.

So let me show you the most excellent way. Demonstrate she is precious to you the other 364 days of the year.

I was recently discussing with my wife an idea I read in the book Practicing Affirmation by Sam Crabtree. Every day, he writes a note on the 3×5 card to his wife affirming her in some way. She loves these notes so much that she has shoe boxes full of them from many years of notes. Even when he travels, he leaves prewritten notes for her.

My wifes’ response was priceless. “I can’t imagine a woman who wouldn’t love that.”

Hint taken.

As of last week, I have written a 3×5 card every day I work. My friends, this works. It is good for her to read these notes but it is also very good for me to write them. It is good to be reminded about the things I love about her. It is not that we don’t fight, but it created a very affirming atmosphere for us to fight in. It has been so good that I will be writing one to each of my children once a week.

Gentlemen, the best way to love your wives is not to show her you care one day a year with a glorious and romantic evening. She would much rather you did a few little things the other 364 days. If we have done well, Valentines day will be the culmination of a previous year’s work. It doesn’t help me much if God loves me on Sunday but has no help for Monday. Your wife needs you to love her well the rest of the year so that you can give her a single rose on Valentine’s Day, but she knows that rose is from a man who deeply loves and affirms her.

Will this solve all your problem, not by a long shot. Loving is hard. But if all loving has this kind of payoff, then loving her well is wonderful indeed.

Now go tell that woman specifically what you love about her.

-Chip

Count Vicegrim’s Letters: Prologue

The Count Vicegrim Letters

My dear Vicegrim,

It was good to see you at the Leadership Summit last month. After the Billy Graham incident, I always suspect you will be demoted again. But, alas, you were always one who knew how to work in Lowerarchy to save your own skin.

Recently, a patient has presented in your region who is particularly troubling. He has been rated by the Enemy Reconnaissance Unit has gained some intelligence that this human is a threat. He shows the early stages of being a fine communicator and through recent Angel Watching, we have come to believe that this patient is important to some plan of the Enemy.

The basic profile of this patient is as follows:

Age: 14 Earth Years
Parental Situation: Married, moderately stable bond between them
Prayer: Sporadic
Enemy’s Book Reading: Sporadic
Enemy’s Spirit: Absent (but with reason to believe he is moving)
General Attitude Toward the Spirit: Apathetic
Risk: High

As you can see, this is a fledgling and we would like him stamped out before he has any opportunity to become a threat. Of course, I will have a more thorough briefing on the patient sent to you.

Normally, I would not personally write you to say a single patient is transferring, but this time I have a special interest not in the patient, but in the tempter. You may remember a scandal about 15 years ago when I was smeared in the Demonic Times as having said that the Enemy may actually love the vermin. This ludicrous and wholly unjustified charge was later found to have come from one of my Pages named Mudpot. That slimy corrosive fiend dared to take on a High Lord with a long history of success. To even suggest that I would believe…it’s preposterous!

The Great Lord, of course, saw through Mudpot’s lies and left him in my tender hands to deal with as I saw fit. I then saw fit to keep him as my personal play thing for several months. Unfortunately, he whines and I tired of him after that. He was then reassigned to be a starting tempter and was placed with a newborn patient.

That is, your new patient.

Vicegrim, I won’t lie to you. Mudpot is a trial to be supervising. It was easy enough to deal with him as a Page because I do not allow my Pages to speak. They are there to deliver messages and I expect them to do that silently and quickly.

I normally wouldn’t wish Mudpot on my worst Enemy, but you are close enough to that so I don’t mind sending him to you. As it is, if you succeed in neutering this vermin despite Mudpot, then the Lowerarchy wins (and so do I). If you fail again, I don’t think your Counthood will last another Billy Graham. In that case, you will be demoted, in which case, I win.

You see, this works out well for me either way.

I doubt you can wiggle your way out of this one, Vicegrim. You are resourceful, I’ll give you that, but even you won’t be able to work with someone as inept as Mudpot. I look forward to watching you squirm.

With a deep affection,

High Lord Massgrave

Image created by Cavin and used with permission

A Thank You to Older Men

father-and-son_fist-bumpLast week I published my challenge to older men. My generation of young men have been largely abandoned to find our own way and I hope to wake up the older men of our desperate need for them.

It’s not going well.

But that is not to say we have been completely abandoned. My story is one littered with the investment of older men in my life. I would be remiss not to properly honor them for their time and effort. This is my thank you to the individuals who have shown me the way. So, without further ado, I would like to say Thank You to:

Dad

We are all heavily influenced by our fathers. My dad was far more influential on me than I will ever know. I remember my sixth birthday. My dad bought me a chessboard and taught me how to play. We played nearly every night for months. He won every time, of course, but I caught on. About ten months later I finally, through concerted effort, was able to draw him. About a week later I beat him for the first time.

Today I mop the floor with him every time.

I think this is analogous of all my dad offered me. Unlike in chess, I don’t exceed his skill in most things, but I am so glad to have been taught by him. The most important lessons dad taught me was his fanatical dedication to my mom. He taught me this well and it has served me well in my own marriage.

He also worked for many years in a job he didn’t like to feed us. The determination and effort that took is truly an inspiration for me. To this day, I am irritated with men who won’t work really hard to care for their families. My dad showed me that you sacrifice for your family and I can’t imagine why anyone would do anything else.

Thanks dad!

Pastor James

Behind my parents, the most influential person in my life was Pastor James. He came to the church where I grew up when I was about 10 years old. You must  understand that I was born as a tiny attorney who wanted a very logical explanation for everything. I often would overwhelm and exhaust the adults in my life.

But not Pastor James.

He was very patient and would struggle with me through hard issues in scripture. Pastor James taught me to be a Christian Hedonist and showed me a God who was not simply right, but delightful. God stopped being just morally good but also experientially good. Heaven will be fun because the most fun and satisfying being ever will be there.

Pastor James taught me so many things. I remember in particular one Wednesday night when Pastor James was being accused of something (I don’t remember what). He stood in front of all of us and said, “I know you think you have dirt on me. But I promise you that no matter what you’ve got on me, I know of worse things I have done.” His response to the accusation was humility. To this day I still ponder that evening and am challenged to be gracious with those who accuse me.

Thank you Pastor James.

Mike M.

The fourth most influential person in my life was Mike, behind Pastor James and my parents. Mike invested heavily in me. he spent a great deal of time working with a teenager who needed logical explanations and arguments. He was very patient with a million questions and challenges. Mike also got me exercising for the first time in my life.

Mike’s influence on me was subtle. It was not as much a couple single events as much as a thousand little conversations. Mike’s time investment in me was enormous. It is humbling and challenging to me. Would I invest that much in a teenager? I’m not sure.

Thank you Mike.

In Summary

Anything I accomplish in my life will have the stamps of Dad, Mom, Pastor James, and Mike on it.The debt I owe them is profound. I hope that one day I will be able to serve a young man in the ways that these men (and women) have serve me.

Thank you.

-Chip

Groundhog Day Predictions!

Punxsutawney Phil Makes Annual Forecast On Groundhog DayAs many of you know from my previous post, I follow the groundhog with religious devotion. So I thought I would update you with the results of the groundhog predictions this year.

Punxsutawney Phil say there will be six more weeks of Winter. I feel sorry for those on Pennsylvania, but only a little bit. We in Minnesota can expect ten more weeks of Winter.

General Beauregard Lee has predicted an early Spring for the good people of Georgia. We’re happy for you….

Buckeye Chuck has predicted an early Spring for Ohio which creates some forecasting difficulties as it is unlikely Ohio and Pennsylvania will have a very different Spring. In these cases, I always go with Punxsutawney Phil.

Wiarton Willie predicts six more weeks of Winter for Canada. This is to be expected. It is Canada.

But the biggest news of the day is with Staten Island Chuck. The New York Mayor’s office has had a tense relationship with Chuck since 2009 when he bit Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Many groundhog followers were hoping for a new day with Mayor Bill de Blasio taking office. Unfortunately, after some conciliatory remarks from Mayor de Blasio, Staten Island Chuck jumped from his hands twice. It was hoped that some bridges could be mended between the groundhog and the New York City government, but things appear to remain tense.

Staten Island Chuck predicts six more weeks of Winter, possibly out of spite.

On a personal note, our Groundhog Day celebrations have gone off without a hitch. Uncle Larry is pacified by General Lee predicting an early Spring so he is much less likely to pick a fight.

So Happy Groundhog Day. I will leave you with a video of Staten Island Chuck jumping from Mayor de Blasio’s hands.

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-Chip