Tag Archives: marriage

Lessons from the Fire

IMG_0465
Lessons from the fire

What can we learn about life from rebuilding a fire that has nearly gone out? Do the steps to rebuild a fire sound similar to the steps you can take to rekindle passion for your spouse, your church, your job or an abandoned hobby?

I’ve spent many nights staring into the fire and thinking about life. I’ve studied the embers and asked God a lot of questions. The fire has many lessons to teach. Let’s explore one lesson together…with all the steps in how To Rebuild a Fire.

1. When the passion has nearly gone out, move evenly and with moderation in your thoughts and be slow to speak. Haste to speak and act are the enemy of rebuilding passion. It is so easy to make things worse by jumping to conclusions and flinging blame. So be thoughtful and move carefully just like you would with a dying fire.

2. Take a stand emotionally and physically if necessary against the things that are blowing out your passion. The winds of being too busy, too tired, too stressed and too distracted need to be blocked.

3. Carefully lift each piece of your schedule and position the things that excite passion toward the center of your life. Plan to do the things and say the words that brought warmth to your soul and to others when your passion was strong. Go back to what was working. Make many small adjustments like you would with a dying fire until the warmth begins to rise.

rekindle4. Lower your head to the surface and blow gently and steady under the warm pieces of wood. This step is suppling yourself with the tools that are oxygen to your passion. Dating is oxygen to a marriage. A class might be oxygen to a tired old job. Volunteering in a different way might breath life back into your church life. Blow away some of the ash that has covered up your true joy and give it fuel.

5. When your air is gone, hold your breath and gently back away from the fire to get another good breath of air. When we get into life deep with all the doing, doing, doing, you will need to back away from the toxins of your day and draw healthy air in from time with God, reading His Word and listening to Him. Back away from too much doing and focus on being. This will keep you from drawing smoke and ash back into your lungs.

6. Lower your head and repeat the gentle steady blowing under the wood. Keep at it! When you pick something in your life that needs to be reinvigorated, keep at it—don’t give up! Repeat till you get a flame. Be aware that it will often burst into flame just at the end of a long breath when your lungs are empty.

7. Gently add tiny pieces of dry twigs and leaves until the flame begins to grow. Don’t try to change everything at once. Be choosy and be careful.

8. Patiently increase the size of the wood pieces until you have the desired size of flame. Be a good manager of what you have rekindled. What ever heart desire you picked to rekindle is worth managing carefully.

9. Lay larger pieces around the fire to help them dry out and to protect the fire from the wind. Take steps to build in protection for what you have rescued and lay in more fuel for the future to prevent another slow decline.

My Honey is a master at knowing when to step back from the doing and focus on being. She has a connection with our Creator that is a blessing. She is a canary in the coal mine—her sensitivity to what can damage our passion for each other is an early alarm system that I trust. She loves that I do the steps to build a fire.

**************************************************************************

What passion do you want to rekindle? I encourage you to write out the actions you will take and get started.

Three Keys to Recovering Your Energy

IMG_20160416_152835612 (1)
Meet me at the edge of the world – where the dirt road ends

On the flip side of all that productivity talk I shared yesterday is the need for recovery.  My rope gets tied in knots so to speak and my ends get burnt and frayed. There’s all kinds of stuff we can talk about for physical recovery but this time I’m talking about your innards, your heart, your soul, your phycy – that thing that makes you be you that gets totally worn out and crabby. My Honey and I have found that we need time to chill. It prevents the total crash and burn if we do it soon enough and it provides needed repair when we go too hard for too long.  How do we chill and get the real benefit for genuine recovery? We do it by making time to connect with friends, by just having talk time with each other and most importantly by being totally honest when talking to God.

Time with Friends – Recovery comes in part by spending time with people like Robert and Ruth. Those people in your life that are genuine listeners and have qualities that you want. We learn from how they treat each other. We listen to their stories of struggle and blessings. It makes us better people when we give an ear to listen and apply what we learn.

IMG_1662
My Honey recovering by the creek

Time Alone Together – Recharging includes carving out time when we aren’t pushing for a goal or destination. When we can just talk about what is on our minds and hearts. Sitting quietly and watching a sun set or listening to the laughing water in a stoney creek. We just let it roll – no agenda – just getting real and remembering why we fell in love with each other.

IMG_1656
Yes, that’s me, sitting in the creek, journaling

Time Alone with God – Rest is the best word I can think of to describe what journalling with God feels like. That almost sounded girly…but it’s true – I have learned to journal and love it. The girls probably know what journaling is but I may need to explain it to the guys. You get a book full of blank paper that no one reads but you and you write down your thoughts, your prayers to God, what you believe He is saying to you or about you. You stick this book in your backpack to pull out in all kinds of ruggedly beautiful places. I have discovered as I relax and just go for it, that He – God – gives me insight on what to do or how to handle a situation. So, often, we sit and listen and write.

************************************************************************

IMG_1637
Me and my Honey, Loral. Robert and his Honey, Ruth

This place in these pictures that our friends share with us feels like the edge of the world. You go from highway to one lane blacktop to gravel to dirt…and then…it’s were the dirt road ends. Not only is it a place of hard work but it is a place of laughter and quiet hikes spent sharing what God is doing in our lives. It is a place where no one has to perform to feel loved. Even a Sherman Tank has delicate equipment on the inside that needs to be cared for carefully.

************************************************************************

What have you done to recharge your batteries? When can you carve out some time today to work on a relationship with a friend, your Honey and God?

Efficiency from Setting Specific Roles

IMG_2497
Everybody doing their job!

Setting Specific Roles Brings Productivity and Efficiency

My last blog gave 6 tips for hiking in the backcountry and was pretty much a practical piece that I hope was useful. There is a back story full of relationship lessons like many others I get to share that are at the heart of hikingwithyourhoney.com. We learned the value of helping friends do a project just because we are friends. We enjoyed a quiet, cool rest journaling and talking to God. We were reminded to be open to learn from everyone. We pushed our patience to a new level with each other. We practiced being very specific with roles that use our natural skills. It is this last one that I want to tell you about today.

Specific roles – projects go better for us when each of us has a clearly defined roll-particularly when the roll is within our natural skill.

Have you ever had that feeling that you were both working hard but nothing was getting done? And have you ever felt like everything was just clicking and your project was done before you knew it? What is the difference between these two scenarios? What did you do differently and how can you repeat the productive efficient scenario more often?

Well, what we have noticed for us is that our ship flies through the water like our sails are full of wind when we know what each of us is doing. When responsibilities are clear and tasks are identified as yours and mine. Even when we are both working on the same thing because “many hands make light work” or just because it’s so big we need to both work on it until its done – we do better when we know what our roll is.

This method nearly eliminates duplication. It gives the one in charge of the task the freedom to receive input but make a decision. It gives energy to the doer because he or she owns the activity – taking responsibility for it. It brings efficiency.

One example of this is fleshed out in the following story:

We started the day working with a family out on their rough undeveloped land. We were all just puttering around making a little progress toward creating a community area. We were to develop a clearing with an outhouse, a fire ring, a tool shed and picnic area. We were having a good time but there was a lot of talking and standing around with the clock ticking. We wanted this hard couple of days of really dirty work to be social but we had certain things that really needed to get done.

Things really took off when we started assembling a large shed. I laid out all the pieces and starting doing step one because I just love building something and I needed something to do. My honey grabbed the instructions and prepared the pieces for step two because she loves to read and explain how something works. She’s done some technical writing and editing of this type of instructions and easily became the “cruise director”. She figured out the orientation of each piece and could clearly explain the step to me and the others that came along to join us. My friend Jared, supported each piece in place and I did the screw gun work. He instinctively knows what needs to be done next and what to do to be supportive. This division of labor was kind of accidental but it worked well on the first couple of steps so we stuck carefully to these roles. As we needed more hands, Jared, who is also the natural leader of the group, called for others and gave clear instructions. Jared’s Father-in-law and owner of the property, Robert, came to evaluate our progress about half way though and employed his natural skill as a problem solver. He jumped in and made slight adjustments here and there which prevented assembly issues down the line. When something didn’t quite fit, he would know just where to push or lift. We built that shed in what felt like just minutes. It really took six of us about two and a half hours but time flew because we could see progress and everyone was in their groove.

IMG_2521
Enjoying the final product

My Mom always said, “many hands make light work”. She is right and I want to define that again but saying that this assumes that each person knows what to do and it goes even better when what they get to do is in their skill set.

What activity could you break down into steps that would help you get the job done faster? Do you have something to do where you usually fight but you have to get it done? How could you define roles and responsibility to eliminate the friction and improve efficiency? Please share your ideas with us!

When I Thought—She Might Be My Honey

I got a hunch on our third date that this lady might be the one. We had gone out for coffee at the Frothy Monkey on our first date. I took her to a Chaffin’s Barn dinner theater for our second. Now I wanted to see if she was for real about hiking and being outdoors.

One month later on another fun trail
One month later on another fun trail

Third Date—I called her up and asked if she would like to go to Edwin Warner Park near where she lived and hike. She responded eagerly which was a great sign for me. She had been there before and knew a perfect trail. I hoped she had experience there and believed it would be public enough for her to feel safe.  I was right and so pleased that she had recent hiking activity.

Exact Snack—Because I wanted to make it special, I asked her what she would like to snack on. She impressed me again when she was precise. No wishy washy response from this girl. No guessing at what she meant. She said that she would like raw unsalted almonds and organic raisins with filtered water. I had the almonds and water already. I snagged the raisins the day before the hike and was ready with my day pack.

Great First Trail—I picked her up at the gate where she was renting because the owner did not trust me with the code just yet. A few minutes later we were gearing up for a day hike in front of the Edwin Warner Nature Center. We walked and talked for a few wonderful hours. I didn’t want this to end…this might be the one. I pushed the envelope a little and asked what she did to develop a close relationship with God. She shared about her devotional life and that she had helped to lead a divorce care class. What a unique similarity—so had I! I was definitely going to pursue spending more time with her.

Healthy Dinner—It seemed obvious to me that neither of us wanted the date to end. I offered to take her to dinner and she accepted. We were starving and settled on the hot bar at Whole Foods. After we filled our dinner boxes with a wide variety of tasty healthy things, we went outside on the patio. The summer night was perfect and we talked on and on. This food choice was another sign that this developing friendship might be long term.IMG_0868

We are married now and pursuing our passions together. We are so blessed to abide in Christ together; to celebrate the outdoors together; and now to get to write together. I can hear the clicking sound of her fingers on her lap top from where I am writing my blog. She will probably beat me by publishing her blog first tonight but that is ok. I can’t wait to read her latest episode of Clive The Cat when I’m finished.

Pondering Your Path

Are you putting effort into making adventures special? Be a student of your lady—it pays off!

Building in Margin

Earth shaking power at Rock Island Falls
Earth shaking power at Rock Island Falls

When I hiked BL (before Loral), hiking was always an athletic event. Alone or with my buddies, I would push the limit of my physical ability doing lots of miles carrying 40-55 pounds. Now hiking with my Honey, we build in margin to allow for beholding beauty and investigation interesting interruptions.

Rock Island adventure—In Rock Island Tennessee there is a park that we now love, not only for the waterfalls but for the memories. We planned to visit three different kinds of waterfall environments and got three memorable interruptions in the package.

At Rock Island on the main overlook below the dam
At Rock Island on the main overlook below the dam

A nursing calf—I was so flexible on this particular soirée that we stopped at the ranger station first. We grabbed a map and listened carefully to the advice our young lady ranger had to offer. Before we got to the first waterfall we passed a cow pasture. My darling got excited because she thought she glimpsed a calf nursing. We pulled over and walked back to where she saw this tender site. I was really enjoying her child like wonder—she had never witnessed a calf nursing. We stood hand in hand looking over a vine covered fence at mama and her baby. The calf would gently head-but her mama’s utter and then drink for a while. This was something normal for me and I really didn’t see it when we drove by.  I mean, I saw a calf nursing but I didn’t see a mama loving her child. We gave quiet homage to God’s glory in creation. We had built in margin.

Powerful earthshaking falls—touched and now eager to see the falls, we finished the winding miles to the biggest falls where the force of the falls shook the ground. We liked this site but it was completely domestic—pedestrian and paved. Without ruining the moment we left for the trail where we could do a few miles and see more falls. Through the trees we could see a spectacular group of cascades on the other side of the river pouring down probably 70 feet into the banks.

Little Falls—almost skipped this one…little sign about little falls on an off shoot trail…glad we didn’t miss it…wet and slippery but unique. Over the top of a small cave ran a little water fall. We explored the cave and took turns looking through a port hole sized opening in the rock on to the forrest below.

Break time on a cliff—About three quarters of the way around the loop trail we were on, my love got more adventurous. Out over the river was an outcropping that just begged us to come sit down for a while. We carefully picked a spot and watched the swilling churning river down below. The beauty came from the power and speed of the river. Had we not built in margin we could not have stopped this long for an inspiring break.

Fog Light restaurant—The third thing our built in margin allowed us to do was to find this new really good restaurant. We weren’t looking for a restaurant…just a bathroom. In the bend of the narrow blacktop there was a sign that said Fog Light. No way this could be a restaurant out here? But it had to be one by the condition and location of the sign. We went to the porch and approached a man using a grill. He turned out the be the chef and owner. He let us use the restroom and invited us back at 5pm when they were open for dinner. He suggested we get there early and boy was it good that we did. We arrived at 4:45 and by 5:00 there were 60 plus people in line behind us. This crowd filled the restaurant instantly when the doors opened and the food was upscale foodie kind of good. With margin built in we were able to eat in a Chicago quality restaurant in the middle of nowhere!

The view from our table at Fog Light
The view from our table at Fog Light

Keep the flow loose we now say. Make plans that include real details and timeframes to satisfy the German in both of us but leave margin for our creative French natures. The level of enjoyment has shot up as we have learned to build in margin.

Do you schedule your day and your fun times so tightly that the least interruption causes you stress? Can you stop for 10 minutes to talk to a neighbor without being late for an important deadline? When you stop and smell the roses does it create stress because you know you “should” be somewhere else? What one thing could you do to build in margin to let a little joy leak in?

For more insights on life and enjoying the interruptions read my wife’s blog—Clive the Cat. She shares what our cat Clive is thinking about human behavior and how his wisdom applies.

We Did it Our Way!

It’s not my way. It’s not your way. It’s our way!

Natchez Trace where we learned to do it OUR WAY!
Natchez Trace where we learned to do it OUR WAY!

Both of us are at least 40 and I’ll be 50 this December. We both have figured out by this point in our lives how to do all that need to be done. Our methods and strategies have worked well for us. So well that we attracted each other. There is no struggle to learn how to do things out of necessity. We weren’t learning how to do laundry, clean the kitchen, pay the bills, maintain a car or cook a chicken. We aren’t first timers at much of anything. This conviction that we have figured most things out is exactly what got us in trouble. When two people with deeply established life patterns get together, both of you can’t keep doing what you’ve been doing without a crash.  It just doesn’t work for very long. Difference surface and sparks fly.

On a camping trip in Tennessee at Natchez Trace State Park our differences came to a boiling point. We had been carefully taking turns doing things my way one time and then hers another. We hit a point while making camp that night when neither one of us would budge. My method of picking a flat surface to set up the tent conflicted with her method. Maybe we were just tired. I don’t know why we got ticked off by this on this night. We had been so happy to be there. We were camping with good friends from church. It was going to be a great night…but…we both hung on to our way as the “right” way. It quickly brought on a rush of emotional water like being downstream when the Corp of Engineers opens all the gates on the dam at Rock Island.

After almost an hour of talking, we were exhausted and getting nowhere. My Honey tried one more time in the verbal chaos to explain what she was feeling. I listened carefully to her word picture. She talked of what our life could look like if we focused on doing this a new way—our way. She reminded me what it was like when I first joined the department I’m in now at work. I had experience and expertise that got me promoted but my way of doing things from the old department couldn’t be used here. Most of what I knew and had done was transferable but I had to work with my new team mates and develop our way of doing things. There was nothing wrong with my way and there was nothing wrong with their way. We just had to have a new way developed to get things done that would work for everybody.

I slowly got excited! A clear understanding was emerging as the fog lifted. This was a business…the business of love. It was not an indictment of me or my methods when she didn’t want to just do it my way! I wasn’t rejecting her when I didn’t want to do it her way. God was inviting us to a deep relationship as husband and wife achieved by developing a new way called “our way”—taking parts from each of us and making something completely new—a mosaic made up of both of us beautifully reflecting Gods light.

This water shed moment is one we will never forget. Every thing has become “before Natchez Trace” or “after Natchez Trace.” It was that significant when we learned to create OUR WAY.

Leaves on the roof of our big tent; view from our sleeping pad
Leaves on the roof of our big tent; view from our sleeping pad