075: 8 Ways To Make Your Marriage Or Any Relationship Amazing For Valentine’s Day [Podcast] – Todd Stocker.com

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Many people spend more time and focus picking out a gift or planning the date rather than working on their marriage. Here are 8 ways to make your relationships amazing.

On This Episode:

Today’s Quote:  “Fight against something and we focus on the thing we hate. Fight for something and we focus on the thing we love.” – Simon Sinek

8 Ways To Make Your Marriage Or Any Relationship Amazing For Valentine’s Day:

  1. Be realistic in your expectations. You’re both humans.
  2. YOU are responsible for your happiness, not the other person. Don’t underestimate or sluff off that statement, this is imperative to know, whether you can live by that, to begin with, or not, eventually you’ll have to remember it.
  3. Own your own stuff!  but taking responsibility, being accountable for yourself is the only way to grow, not only as an individual but as a couple. Blaming the other person not only creates resentment from them, but it’s like crawling across the desert w/someone, they find the water, but you refuse to drink b/c they are the ones that found it. The old saying, “resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die”
  4. Individual growth feeds relationship growth. BUT both people have to be willing to grow. What does growing look or feel like? It’s that moment when you know deep down that you have made a mistake, or are being unreasonable (see bullet #1.) but to admit it feels like you’ve “lost”. THEN when you admit your petulance or stubbornness, or you apologize etc. that feeling of relief that you feel, and the ability then of both of you to be able to move on??  THAT’S growth. And trust me, it feels SOOO much better than digging in and holding to YOUR point.
  5. Marriage is not a race to see who can be the best, or be the most right. It’s a journey of 2 people that have learned (or hoped) that their life can be more fulfilling sharing it with another person b/c that other person can help to keep you awake and aware and “on track” when you get stupid, which we all do!
  6. Helping the other person to “wake up” when they do get off track requires gentleness and love, not the “HA! told you so!” approach. NO ONE likes to be shamed into learning something.
  7. Real love does not feel like you think it does. Early love, or infatuation, is fine, and it’s fun! BUT that will always, always, ALWAYS subside! And that’s NOT A BAD THING!! People think that’s cynical, but it’s not! It’s just the damn truth. And that’s ok!!! It’s growth and intimacy. Intimacy is vulnerable. Infatuation is the opposite of intimate and vulnerable by definition – you don’t know each other well enough yet to be THAT intimate or vulnerable. TRUE vulnerability comes when you know the other persons “faults” and weaknesses and are ok with it, accept it, and begin to care about that person even more so. All too often this is the point where people say, “yeah… I just fell out of love. They weren’t who I thought they were. We lost that spark.”
    • Think of starting a fire. You start a fire to keep warm. And you have to keep the fire lit to do so. To build a fire you have to find the right ingredients (kindling, leaves, small sticks, ETC.) AND THEN you need a SPARK to get it going. Once you get it going, you don’t keep trying to get another spark, you let it burn and begin to get hot. Then you have to keep feeding the fire. But you have to feed it at the right moment; too much fuel early on, and it’ll choke it out – not even and it burns out. And you don’t poke or prod the fire, you let it burn – You let the coals, the base, get going and at just the right moment you feed it. But to be able to know when to feed it, you have to pay attention and stay aware, so you know just the right moment. This takes practice and skill.
  8. Finally, if all else fails, BE KIND!! When things get hot, like a fire that’s been overfed, step back – take a breath. Rather than make it hotter, let things cool down – better to let your angry point go and be quiet than throw more wood on that fire.



067: How To Get Along With Everyone From Abraham Lincoln [Podcast] – Todd Stocker.com

All of us struggle with getting along with people. Abraham Lincoln spoke words of truth in his 2nd inaugural speech that helps us in all relationships. Today we learn what he meant when he said, “Charity for all, Malice towards none.”

On This Episode:

Today’s Quote:

“With Charity for all and malice toward none”  Abe Lincoln.

Great quote especially with all the angst in our society and personal lives today.  

There are two keywords:Charity – 

Charity.  This means the voluntary giving of help.  I try to stop for people along side the freeway if they’re stranded.  What do you do?

Malice is defined as the intention or desire to do evil; wishing ill will.  Ill will is hoping that something happens where you can say, “serves you right.”  

All of us encounter or hold ill will toward others.  

So recapping the phrase is this:

Charity to all … helping, being in a help mindset, ready to act, ready to put my wants under another’s needs.  Malice to none … wishing no evil or hardship on anyone.  

Here’s your homework.  Write that phrase on a piece of paper, “Charity for all, malice toward none.”

Put it somewhere where you are going to see it every day, preferably multiple times a day.  Maybe it’s the bathroom or in your car.  How about making it a background on your computer.  

You’ll be amazed at how often you remember that phrase and change the way you think and treat people with whom you struggle!



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What Do You Want? – Todd Stocker.com

“Though good advice lies deep within the heart, a person with understanding will draw it out.” Proverbs 20:5 NLT

I love that Jesus’ main tool of teaching was asking questions.  Here you have the master of the universe, the creator, and knower of all things, asking finite people questions to teach them about life, about God and about loving well.

For instance, Jesus asked people,

  • Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your lifespan?  (Matt 6:27)
  • What did you go out to the desert to see? (Matt 11:8)

And probably one of my favorites…

  • What do you want me to do for you? (Matt 20:32)

I love this question because you and I don’t ask it enough.  Truthfully, Jesus isn’t a vending machine, but he encourages you to be honest with yourself and with him and ask for want you want.

It feels selfish.  It feels petty.  And often times, because of our skewed view of what’s truly important in life, the answer is self-serving.

Yet I challenge those who would wart it off as not putting God first.  If you are a Christ follower, your faith leans you toward asking for help.  Faith realizes the need for the Devine and when we humbly and truthfully answer what Jesus asks, “what do you want?” Faith answers from the deep longings of our souls.

Will he grant it? Possibly.  Does he want to? Absolutely.  It is why Jesus taught us to pray “give us this day our daily bread.”

So what do you want?  Do you even know?  Maybe, it is a question you need to process with someone else.  Remember, he loves you and has great purposes for you.  Ultimately, it is to know him and walk in the ways of Christ.


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Crisis America: How Should Jesus People Respond? – Todd Stocker.com

“Hi church,  Pastor Todd here.

I feel I need to take some time to address what has happened and is happening in  our country.

Like you, I’ve been watching the recent events unfold over the last year and specifically over the last few weeks and I have to tell you, I’m emotionally exhausted.

I hear of Dallas police officers are shot and killed by someone who used to proclaim himself as a christ-follower, only to let his anger and rage take over.

I hear of a Black Lives Matter group blocking traffic on I-35W, putting themselves in danger but also delaying an ambulance also causing an hour plus delay for commuters.

I hear of shootings and arrests and terrorist activities like those recently in Turkey and France and I’m emotionally exhausted.

Like you, my emotions run the gamut from being Angry and frustrated to being hopeful and trusting — reminding myself that God is well aware of what’s going on in the hearts of all Americans and in the fabric of our society.

So what do i do as the church.  what do you do as the church?

I want to give you three things for you to consider in your context — where you live.

First, and this is important to hear — you don’t shy away from the conversation but you do it with humility and love. 

The political debates can get heated.  The arguments among groups of people you know can lead to broken dialogue and relationships…

And often,  you and I approach these situations in unhealthy ways.

I have to confess that I’ve fallen into sin by taking to Social Media and voicing my opinion in a way that was not designed to help,

but instead, to try to convince others that I’m right — they’re wrong and worst, I’ve ranted in a spirit of anger.

Church, that isn’t biblical.  that isn’t Godly and I confess it.

No, we aren’t going to agree on everything with everybody.  Yes, we have a right to our opinions and beliefs about issues affecting our Country.

But, as Christ-followers, you and I don’t have a right to be sinful if or when we enter into the conversation.

Instead, you and I need to take a deep breath and filter everything through the question, “How would Jesus speak to this event, or would he? How would Jesus address this issue?”

After all, aren’t we Jesus -followers?

In Jesus day, inequalities were way worse that we’re experiencing today.

In his day, societal change and pressure was happening all around and the disciples’ natural reaction was violence and anger and fear — just like us today.

But Jesus looked at people as broken yet beautiful.

He looked at people as lost, yet loved and he gave his life for them and for you. I just think we need to get back to seeing people the way Jesus does.

All of us fly off the handle because we feel an injustice has been done to us but the solution isn’t retaliation, violence or anger.

One solution is what I saw happened in Dallas during a Black lives matter rally where a group of whites staged a counter protest across the street from theirs.

Representatives from both groups agreed to meet in the middle of the street on the median but then the Black Lives Matter total protest group crossed the street and they all began to hug.

Humility … love … agreeing to disagree and being okay with that.

Second, you don’t allow fear and disgust to overtake you.  There is no doubt that things have changed in America.  It isn’t the same country as when I grew up or when my parents and their parents before them.  It can be overwhelming and scary.

But we have to claim the truth that God did not give us a spirit of fear. He gave us a spirit of power and of love and of a good mind.

We as a church have a powerful message of hope.  We carry the life-changing message of God’s love shown in and through Christ.

God has given us a good-mind to use good judgment in how we enter the conversation… if at all.  Again, even in the disagreements, we follow Christ.

Third, (and this is more of an understanding rather than an action), you don’t change the hearts of people — only the Holy spirit does that. 

Church, in situations of turmoil and national upheaval, God calls us to stand for the truth of his love to all people and to simply proclaim that.  Then, It is up to the Holy Spirit to change people’s hearts, not you … not me.  and that is a great thing!

Church, I invite you to continue to pray and pray hard for our country and it’s leadership.

Pray for our church locally and nationally as we try to be lights in the darkness of this world.

Pray for your enemies as well as your friends and ask God to cultivate a Christ-like heart in the soil of your character.

See ya Sunday.”


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Why I Feel Institutionalized – Todd Stocker.com

marriage institution‘Institution’ isn’t a popular word. 

Over its life-time, the lettering has gone from a simple description of something organized to something being restrictive. 

In fact, the idea of marriage as ‘institution’ repulses many in growing generations because of the seeming restrictions of the commitment between one man and one woman, as God intended that relationship to be.

Personally, I’m glad I’m institutionalized.  I’m glad 28 years ago she said “yes” and 27 years ago God said “Bless!”  I’m glad that through joy and struggle, laughter and anger, thrill and tragedy, my beauty didn’t call it quits and give up. 

Knowing me, she could of.

Knowing me, the world would say she should of.

But she didn’t. 

That’s what love is.  Enduring, loving and being committed into the institution. 

Feeling – yes. Companionship – yes. Unexplainable – absolutely.

Recognizably, some don’t make it.  The pressure and struggle gets too much.  I hurt thinking about it.  I can’t imagine it.  The institution is still good, however, even though the residents aren’t perfect — none of us are.

So here’s to the crazies.  Here’s to all the messy couples in the world.  Here’s to those who have laughed and cried and continue to try to work it out.  They are the ones who find asylum in the ‘Institution’. 

“Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth” Psalm 5:18


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What Decorates Your Life? – Todd Stocker.com

Christmas DecorationsIt’s early in the morning and my view is an elegant one.  Our simple Christmas tree, with small white lights and history-telling ornaments, stands in its ‘once-a-year’ place in front of our living room window.  Presents have begun to appear underneath its green branches and transparent red ribbons stream from Star to stump.

Decorations are part of why I love Christmas.  They change my environment and freshen my ordinary spaces.  They call me to seasons and renew my interests in things that have passed and things that will be.  If alive, they’d be proud because they know that even the smallest, simplest ones create and even smaller and simpler joy within me.  But that’s all I need because joy isn’t measure in its abundance.  It is valued simply in its presence [tweet that].

I wonder if I give that same kind of joy to others who see me? What decorates my life?  Are my words lovely ornaments through which others are encouraged?  Do my actions stream into peoples’ lives so that they know they are loved?  Are the presents that I hold to give ones of laughter, of happiness and of love? 

In a lowly backroom of an overcrowded guest-house — the place where animals lived during the winter months — God decorated the world with hope.  He offered the world sanity in the midst of  instability and light in the middle of chaos.  Jesus, the child promised, decorates my life in peace.  And like joy, changes everything, simply because of his presence. 


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Are You Tolerant? – Todd Stocker.com

tolerance.001I’m a word guy.  I like to dig down to their original meanings, references and applications within history. With the battle and ensuing confusion of clashing belief systems in politics, religion and general life choices, enter the ’T’ word — ‘Tolerance’.  

I hear this word tossed around like a water balloon at a kids summer picnic.  It is the fall back for many who — like most — want peace in our world.  It drives a stake through the heart of debates when one’s ideas are being challenged.  “You’re not being Tolerant!” 

So I was curious. 

Rightly, the word ‘Tolerance’ is defined as “the ability or willingness to tolerate something with an enduring attitude, in particular the existence of opinions or behaviors that one does not necessarily agree with.”

Sounds good.  That’s what we all should be.

Then I asked the opposite, “If ‘Tolerance’ means to willingly respect (my edition) a religion/political ideology, for example, what does ‘Intolerance’ mean?”  

This is where the confusion begins.  ‘Intolerance’ is defined in many word lists as “unwillingness to accept views, beliefs, or behavior that differ from one’s own.” The phrase “to accept” means “believe or come to recognize (an opinion, explanation, etc.) as valid or correct.”  

So if intolerance means I don’t accept an idea that’s different, that should mean that tolerance means that I accept it.  Yet the historical definition of tolerance doesn’t say that — read the definition above.

Tolerance is NOT acceptance of an idea as correct. Tolerance does not mean — at its core — to accept.  

When I tolerate people who follow Islam for example, I respect them.  I love them.  I engage them in conversation and we usually end up laughing together at the end.  That’s being tolerant; being respectful and dare I say, being loving as Christ would — hopefully to have Jesus change their hearts to see his truth. Yet I don’t accept their core religious beliefs as true.  That’s okay.  They don’t accept mine either.  

Many of my close friends differ politically and religiously.  Others differ in life-style choices and beliefs.  Yet, I continue to love them as they love me (I think).  That’s Christ-like tolerance. 

Definitions aside, the question for you is, “How do you view and/or treat people with different beliefs that yours?” 

I believe that our time in this age is short — too short to let squabbles cut a gash in relationships.  My suggestion is to get over differences and live like Christ to love and share His awesome message of hope found in knowing Him personally.  You need it.  I need it. Our world needs it, especially in the coming days.  

“With all humility and gentleness, with patience, show tolerance for one another in love.”

Ephesians 4:2 


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One Purpose Of Your Pain – Todd Stocker.com

sadness_purposeI don’t think I knew him.  Maybe I did.  Maybe he was just starting at Concordia University, St. Paul when I was finishing my stint as Campus Pastor.  Many in my circles tell me that he was a great person of life, fun, purpose and humor.  That’s what makes his drowning in a pond this weekend even more tragic.  Too young.  Too much potential.  Gone on.

Details are still emerging.  What happened is still a question.  The tragedy is close enough to me that I hurt for my friends who are left empty by his home-going.  This is where I want to help.  This is where my past informs the present.  That’s one of the purposes of tragedy in your life — to help others bump along the dark tunnel of pain just like you did, to show others that the hopelessness of the now fades into the hopefulness of the not yet.  Your loss shines perspective’s light on others going through the same thing.  

2 Corinthians 1:4 says, “God comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”

So I want God to use that dark chapter in my story to help give light to those just writing theirs.  When needed, I will use what God taught me in any way I can.  

Life always squashes death.  Love always soothes sadness.  In it all, God is still a loving dad, calling home those whom he pleases and walking with those whom he loves.

[Download the resource: “How To Help Those Who’ve Lost A Loved One.”]


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Love Year Round

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Can love be limited?

love year round.001So I’m going to make a judgment and hopefully you can look past my assumptions in order to get the gist of this post.

I was in WalMart the other day and a man and two women entered the same aisle in which I wandered.  [Here comes the judgment].  Based on their conversation and their over all appearance, I assumed that we were different. Politics, socio-economics and most likely sexual orientation played a part of our differences [again, total assumptions on my part.  But keep reading].

They were talking about the upcoming Valentine’s Day celebrations. One of them said, “I’ve heard people wanting to start a celebration of singles day.” The others in the group chuckled. Then she paused and said something very profound. She said,

“Why do we have to have a special day for love? Why can’t we celebrate love all year round?”

My heart leapt out of my chest. I immediately turned to the group, smiled and said “Amen to that!”

We all join together in humorous laughter and an exchange of smiles.

You see, differences are differences. I’m different from you; you’re different from me. Yet we all have this one thing in common — we all want love.  We want to love and be loved.  We want to know that within love, we matter — we have value — and that kind of love is something to be celebrated year round. 

How awesome is it that God loves us year round! [Tweet that]!  He doesn’t relegate sending a card once a year and he doesn’t give us some cheap store-bought candy blessing.  He is love and he gave himself for me, for you and for my new-found friends in, of all places, WalMart.

This Valentine’s Day, enjoy the differences and celebrate the wonder of God’s year-round love.



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The Sower: Good Soil is Synchronized

goodsoilThe story of the sower and the seed is rich with truth and application.  (You can read it here).  But of all the ‘soils’ that Jesus mentions, the one that hits me today is the good soil – not because it’s who I’m striving to be and not because it’s the Christian thing to say.  It is the fascination with Jesus’ description of it.  Jesus says “the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it.

Diving deeper, the greek word for ‘understands’ means to take truth and comprehend it as part of a whole.  The word is where our English word ‘synchronize’ is derived.  I think of synchronized swimmers.  Their movements and positions in the water match each other.  I think of a piano synchronized string to string.  It is in tune and produces breath-taking music that soothes souls.  I think of an engine synchronized by the master mechanic.  It’s low hum is the reflection of uber performance.

My synchronization comes in aligning myself with who God wants me to be and then what He wants me to be about.  I am His child and bear His name.  I am to be about love and grace, mercy and peace.  I am to add value to others which honors God.  In that, I am synchronized by the Spirit to be a reflection of His love.

Than’s Good Soil.



And Then We Will See True Love

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“Love is like an avalanche where you have to run for your life.” — John, age 9

“I think you’re supposed to get shot with an arrow or something, but the rest of it isn’t supposed to be so painful.” — Manuel, age 8

“Once I’m done with kindergarten, I’m going to find me a wife.” — Tom, age 5

“I’m not rushing into being in love. I’m finding fourth grade hard enough.” — Regina, age 10

“Love will find you, even if you are trying to hide from it. I been trying to hide from it since I was five, but the girls keep finding me.” — Dave, age 8

Ah yes. From out of the mouths of the innocent. While we chuckle with these young ones’ naiveté, I would venture to guess that many of us have some interesting ideas as to what love is. Some believe that we ‘feel’ love. Others mark love with it’s benefits. Still others find it necessary to only be a receiver of love and not a giver.

Many are the broken hearts of those who fell for the slick-lipped romances of a one-time affair. The pieces of love-shattered relationships could strew a highway to our lunar neighbor. The human experience is dipped in the bitter-sweet chocolate of wanting but not finding love.

However, love is, as Leo Buscaglia put it, “always bestowed as a gift – freely, willingly and without expectation. We don’t love to be loved; we love to love.”

In truth, Love is shown by an unwarranted act of sacrifice, an act so outside of the self as to even seem foreign. A truly loving act places one almost as a spectator rather than it’s mate. It’s better that way. If not, the giver of love would expect something in return which renders the initial act of love, not-love.

Another truth. Imperfect love is the best we can offer each other. Mere humans are we, desirous of love yet seeking it in the imperfect others.

Yet, there is a pure-love hope.  There is a perfect experience of a self-less sacrifice.

God to humanity. Forgiving that which no one else can forgive. Killing love so that we can receive it. Sacrificing himself so that humanity can, for now, live in the reflection of true love. That is the love we will someday fully experience. That is the love we now but glimpse.  Someday, we will walk in it and breath in it and live in it. And then, we will see it. True love.




maryponderingA quick Christmas Day tour of Facebook reveals “pondering.” The student who is glad to be home for the holidays. The mom who watches her kids as they open gifts. The dad who reflects on his gratefulness for his family. The pondering heart is a thankful heart because to ponder means to throw ideas together and weave them into a tapestry of meaning.

As the sun crept over the line that marks evening from morning, Mary pondered. She thought of the visit by the angel nine months before. She remembered the pain it caused to tell Joseph her fiancé that she was pregnant, out of wedlock. She rehearsed her journey to see Elizabeth and the flowing heart of love that poured out into praises to God. She thought through the last months of dodging the condemning looks of the townspeople and the long journey to Bethlehem. She received the shepherds’ message with joy and she pondered it all.

I wonder. Do you ponder this morning. Jesus birth, the angels, the manger scene, what Jesus did for you – do you ponder it. Busyness chokes deep thinking and selfishness squelches love.

In the aftermath of presents and parties, gatherings and give aways, I pray that you wake up a bit earlier tomorrow and simple take time to ponder.

“… and Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

Luke 2:19



Celebrating Anniversaries

wedding-anniversaryYesterday was our anniversary.  For some, these are stellar celebrations.  Big tents in friend-filled backyards.  Exotic meals.  Trips to distant lands.  For Kellie and I, we have rarely had such swarays to mark our day.

Take yesterday for example.  Sharing a simple breakfast gave way to little errands around the house.  A nice lunch at a classic deli and closing the evening watching a flick in our basement.  For us – pretty typical.

But even though the day wouldn’t top any New York Times list, there are elements of our anniversary that capture the importance of remembering special events in our lives.

  • We did something different.  The deli I mentioned was new for me.  Set in a classic part of town that seems the same today as 60 years ago, it provided a time for us to remember our past years together.
  • We remember the past.  Every year, we laugh about our 5th anniversary being spent in a laundromat because we didn’t have enough money to fix our washing machine.  We think about our ceremony 24 years ago in the 110 degree Arizona heat and the beautiful music my Father provided for the occasion.
  • We hit a “reset” button on our relationship.  Our anniversary provides us a chance to remember why we decided to commit, to take the plunge, to cross the line.  Phrases like, “… because I love you” and “… can’t imagine life without you” pour from our lips easier on such days than others and we sense a here-we-go-again reality (in a positive way).

In our simple celebration, we held hands, snuggled and remembered the blessings God has given our family.  We thanked him for sustaining our marriage when our loss could’ve ripped us apart.  And in this wee hour of the morning, I am grateful for the gift I find in my wife.



The Big Faith of the Boston Killers

boston_marathon_explosion_max_blast_2_300x225The boom cannoned over the finish line of this year’s Boston Marathon.  Many thought it was a celebration cannon.  Others thought it to be a car backfiring.  Then a second explosion.  Someone had set out to kill.  And they succeeded.

In the hours following, the suspects Dzhorkar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev were identified.  Chechnyan Brothers who had a big faith.

Heresy you cry!  Blasphemy you accuse!  But wait.  Supposedly, the pair held a deep conviction in what they believed.  As misplaced and evil as it was, they had a deep faith in what they believed they wanted to do.

Now, before you send the militia to pay me a visit, read slowly these next thoughts.  Faith defined – in the non-biblical sense – is a deep conviction in something or someone. Unfortunately, what they believed was that evil was a way toward personal gain.  They believed that “outsiders” needed to be eliminated in order to bring forward a better world.  They believed reward awaited for those on a killers mission.  Frankly, these may be speculations but if even a speck of it is true, that takes Big Faith.

THE POINT:  You see, you can have a strong faith, but the deeper question is, what is the object of your faith?

Too bad that kind of faith wasn’t directed toward good.  I mean, what if the amount of energy that these brothers expelled was directed at doing something of positive value?  What if their focus was to do something that would enhance the lives of the Boston marathon runners not take their lives instead.  What if the pair spent the days and months planning a cacophony of love and not a conspiracy of hate?  Horrific for them and the hundreds that suffered under their evil.  Their faith was placed in a false god who directed them toward demolition and destruction.

My faith is given and directed toward a living God who says to love others and serve where I can.  My faith is embolden on the risen-ness of His sacrifice so that I too can rise to the occasions of compassion and avoid the addiction of violence.  My faith is embedded in the Grace of Jesus that informs all of life and give me hope today and into eternity.

In whom do you place your faith?




That Kind of Love

I am sitting at a coffee shop next to Lego land in the Mall of America.  It overlooks the amusement park called Nickelodeon Universe.  What I notice are the large number of elderly couples walking through the park and filling the coffee shop around me.  But what really catches my attention is how happy they look.  Elderly couple walking across footbridge Photo GETTY

At the table in front of me is a grey-haired pair sitting next to each other, not across from each other, but chair to chair, hip-replacement to hip-replacement and very close.. Uncomfortably close.  Just shy of 80 years old, I’d say, these two love birds are whispering things in each others ears. First her, then him.  I’m guessing something naughty because she blushes and they both giggled.  Get a room I’m thinking to myself and then I smile.

There’s another elderly couple. They are holding hands and looking at the toys displayed in the toy store window.  A drop of vanilla ice cream from the women’s cone plops on the ground and they laugh.   They too, look happy.  They too, look content.

I think to myself, I want that for me and my bride.  That when we get to that age, we too can be naughty and giggle and walk through an amusement park holding hands and stop for ice cream together.

Marriage is not dead as some would think.  Longevity in this relationship is still possible and real and desirable.   For some, it hasn’t happened.   For some it won’t.  For others it has happened and then un-happened, leaving the scars that remind them of what could have been and might yet still be.

Now there’s another ancient man, pushing his wife of a gazillion years in a wheel chair.  Most likely, she has become unable to communicate as confirmed by the blank look on her face and the bib around her neck.  No matter.  He still pushes her into a Christmas shop that she no doubt used to love but now can’t remember.  He still pushes.  That’s love.

I am reminded that that kind of Love is not lost.  That kind of Love is not weakened.  That kind of Love is not retired or growing old or evidenced only in our grandparents.   Because now I see a young couple with a little bambino strapped to dads back.  The couple acts like the elderly couples, minus the wrinkles.  They are still in love.  Still holding hands.  Still looking at toys through the window.  Still whispering naughty things to each other and giggling.  And that is that kind of love.