i hate the cowboys

i had to go to three different places tonight to find enough standing room to be able to watch the packer/cowboy game. i finally reached the point where i didn’t feel like standing up anymore and i drove to three other places looking for a little more leg room. there wasn’t any. i ended up coming home half way through the third quarter and watching the game on the internet.

i hate the cowboys.

SIDE NOTE – a friend is doing some graphic design for tapestry. as a part of her prep work she asked for most of the basic information you would expect (name, address, website, why we exist, goals, what colors do i like, etc.) but she also asked for 5 emotional words that will describe the church. that was more taxing than anything else. i thought it was an excellent question. here are the words that i believe will fit best:

  • adventuresome
  • gritty
  • connected
  • intimate
  • wonder

what i’m even more interested in is what words a guest, a member of the community, and a skeptic would use about tapestry after it gets going. it would be interesting to see what words such people would use of a lot of churches.

SIDE SIDE NOTE – i REALLY hate the cowboys.

pink slip

yesterday noah came in from school and immediate went to the computer. no “hi” “what’s up” or anything. he went to the computer and went to work. this is not typical so i asked him what he was doing. he said he was typing something up for houston industries. of course, you are probably now asking yourself “what is houston industries?” noah and one of his friends decided to create a company – houston industries – houstin is the ceo and noah is the president. i asked noah what houston industries did and he told me ” we make stuff.” when i asked what kind of stuff his response was “just stuff.” that was good enough for me.

anyhow, noah was working on something for houston industries. i looked at the screen and it said:

this is a pink slip!
you’re fired!

i had to ask noah about this. he said they had “hired” another kid because they need employees to make “stuff.” unfortunately the kid they had hired had “gone mad with power” and tried to fire noah. therefore, they had to release him.

today they decided to re-hired the kid but first they made him sign a contract that said he would not “go mad with power.” they are considering making all employees sign a contract like this.


last week i posted the second of the series of emails i am sending to some young friends of mine for whom i am officiating their wedding ceremony. they are getting premarital counseling from a great guy who is geographically closer than i am but i still felt like i would be remiss if i didn’t make sure a few things were covered. i’m actually 99% sure that the counselor will cover this stuff but i would rather send a useless email than not have some things covered.

anyhow, here’s the third email.

hey guys. i hope you have both had an absolutely incredible week. in my opinion the engagement period is an incredible time of relational growth. that level of commitment pushes your relationship to new levels. that pushing can be an absolutely amazing time of really defining your love for one another. it also brings with it new stresses and heightens your awareness of stresses that were already there.

and thus tonight i would like for us to talk about fighting (actually we’re not really talking at all because we are 15 hours away from each other – so basically i’m the only one talking right now but hopefully you both will read this and then talk together about this and other issues). if you both can fight well then you will find yourself way ahead of the game. couples fight. it’s a part of every relationship. it’s also usually a chance for correcting something or understanding something that has not been discussed or needs to be reconsidered. couples that don’t know how to fight usually find that they fight a lot and tear each other apart. learning to fight well is key to a wonderful marriage.

i know much of what i am about to say is going to sound unrealistic but if you consciously incorporate these things into your lives you will find they start to happen more naturally.

in my opinion the keys to fighting well are found in the following:

  • fight with a goal – i know that sounds odd so i will explain. fights usually break out because one or both of you is hurt by something or feels like something is not going the way that person expects it to go (i.e. a need is perceived to not be met – emotionally, physically, sexually; an event or circumstance does proceed in the manner that one or both spouses expects; etc). the fight breaks out when one or both of you finally reaches the point of thinking “if i don’t change this it will continue to happen” or one or both of you responds in anger at being hurt. the first reason is usually why newlyweds don’t fight that much in the beginning but then start to fight more a few years down the road. some attribute the “seven year itch” to this first reason also – the mindset being “i’ve got to change things now or i’m stuck with it forever.” for whatever reason, be it emotional pain, frustration, or both, you will have fights. the goal is that you keep in mind what your ultimate goal is. i believe that when you fight you need to keep yourself focused on why the fight is really happening. it is very easy to shift gears into just wanting to win the fight or wanting to make sure the other person is hurt just as much as you are. when this happens you’ve lost focus on your goal. the goal should be to correct whatever was the source of frustration or hurt. fights can be wonderful things when the goal of relational improvement is at there focus. a fight can be the first step to correcting something that will just become worse later on. for example let’s consider money. i’m going to assume that one of you is a spender and one of you is a saver (this is actually unrealistic because most people are a combination of both, though they don’t necessarily see themselves that way). assume the spender wants to go buy something that the couple has budgeted the money for and has on hand and the saver turns on the guilt just because they would prefer to hoard the money away. this could lead to a fight the first time it happens or after years of it happening. when the fight occurs it can be a chance to work through the situation or just a time to hurt each other. when you fight always try to keep one goal in mind – i want to have the greatest marriage ever. if you fight with that goal then the fight will lead to things being made better. this also helps with making up afterwards because fighting with a goal leads to better fight endings and making up is a whole lot more fun when the fight has ended positively rather than one or both of you being hurt worse.
  • fight with an aim – this is kind of the same thing as above but with a slight twist. it’s real easy during a fight to start bringing in more and more subjects. one person starts arguing because of one subject and the other person brings in an issue that has been bothering him and then the first person brings in another issue that has been bothering her. when you do that the fight isn’t really going to do anything other than release some pent up emotions. most likely nothing will be resolved as a result of a fight that has lots of different issues in it. in the movie “star wars: a new hope” there is a scene where all these pilots are attacking the death star (oh yes, you know you are experiencing fine premarital counseling when the “star wars” scenes are brought out). there are also sorts of dangerous distractions around the pilots but the lead fighter just keeps on saying “stay on target.” that target, and not the distractions, is what really matters. when you argue “stay on target” because if you “stay on target” you are much more likely to actually resolve the issue. the other issues that come up can be dealt with at another time (i usually say give it a day – in fact i would suggest that you literally set a day and time to discuss each issue that’s brought up in a fight). when you “stay on target” and resolve the issue the fight was about you have stepped a little closer to the marriage you want, and of course, it’s easier to make up after a successful fight.
  • fight fair – you both know each other pretty well already and you will get to know each other better and better as the years go by. you will know what brings each other the most joy and you will know where each other are the most tender. that’s what makes it so easy to hurt the person you love – you know where they will hurt the worse. in a fight it becomes real easy to move from trying to correct a situation to just trying to win. you stop listening and just start thinking of what to say next . this is bad enough when friends fight but it is 10 worse when a married couple fights because they each know exactly how to slit each other throats. resist with all you are worth the temptation to “go for the juggler.” talk slowly while you are arguing so that you can make sure and not say the thing that will hurt your spouse the most. this goes against human nature but then again so does selflessness. when you agree to be one you are saying that you will put the other person in front of yourself. this is just as true in an argument as it is in any other part of your marriage. i don’t mean that you should “roll over” during a fight. remember the point of a fight should be to resolve an issue. i do mean however that you should never, ever, ever attack your partner’s weak points just to win the battle. this also means that you never go to the past to bring up those most painful memories that have already been dealt with. you are not enemies in a fight (enemies wish to defeat each other). you are partners who are working out a problem. if you fight fair you both will leave an argument whole, and of course, making up after a fight is much better when neither spouse has been emotionally mortally wounded by the other.
  • fight knowingly – most likely you each have different methods of communication. in an argument one of you probably emotionally shuts down while the other is looking for as much communication as possible (i’m just guessing here). if this is true what usually happens in a fight is that one person clams up while the other one just keeps saying “will you please talk to me.” or possibly one of you is a shouter while the other person just needs to escape for awhile. whatever your normal means of dealing with conflict you both need to know and understands how each other reacts. you then need to respect how each other deals with conflict. for example you might find yourself sounding like the following – “is everything okay because you seem mad?” “i’m fine” “no i can tell something’s wrong because of your tone.” ” i don’t have a tone and i’m fine.” “no something is definitely bothering you because you’re being short with me.” “I’M FINE!” you could translate this conversation as “i need you to tell me what’s wrong” and “i need time to think through things.” if you both learn how each other handles conflict you’ll go far down the path of solving the issues that you are arguing about. the person who clams up needs to recognize the other person’s need for communication and fight against their normal default and communicate just enough to meet the basic needs of the partner who is desperate for communication. the person who needs communication needs to understand the other spouse’s need to think through things before talking and therefore not press for more immediate information after the “clamer” has sacrificially given up some basic communication. if you know how each other fights you’ll be communicating better and by communicating better you will solve more issues, and of course, making up after a fight is much better when you have both communicated in a manner that each other understands.

    email is the worst possible way for covering how to fight and therefore i am thankful that you will be meeting with frank, i’m sure he will cover it. there are some wonderful communication techniques that will help you to turn your fights into things that really help your marriage. all i’ve tried to do above is to cover a few basics.

    now if we were meeting together i would give you some homework to do during the week. we’re not meeting but i figure i’ll still give you a little homework. so here it is, go out to dinner somewhere and do the following:

    • talk about a fight you have had recently and honestly talk about what you think you may have failed at and succeded at in that fight (deal with you own issues rather than your spouses).
    • talk about how you each deal with conflict and the bare minimum response that you need from each other in an argument (i.e. for the “talker” how little information will meet you need until the “clamer” has had a chance to think through things? for the “clamer” how much time do you need to think through things before the “talker” can expect some conversation?)
    • talk about the things that would hurt you the most within a fight.
    • talk about your experience with your parents’ fights. what have you learned from them for the good and the bad?

    if we were meeting together i would actually have you fake a fight and we would talk through it (interestingly enough this once turned into a full blown fight right in front of me – made for an interesting hour) but of course we can’t do that 15 hours apart.

long day

it’s been a long day and i just finished filling in the monthly report i have to send in for my support, so i’m too tired to really type anything worth squat.

i started reading “launch:starting a church from scratch” today and i thought a statement steve sjogren made in the preface of the book was amazing. he stated that the average sales for a book published within the united states was 2,500 and that the average sales for a book published by a CHRISTian publishing house was around 1,000 books. he stated that he thought the reason for this was because so few of these books ever changed anyone’s life. i think the same has to be true for many of our churches – the reason o many are not growing is because so many of them haven’t been a part of changing anyone’s life. i want to be a part of a church that sees people’s lives changed through the power of CHRIST.

SIDE NOTE – i have always liked xbox live but it’s even better when it allows me to chat with people who are 17 hours away. up until recently i did not have a mic for using the vocal communication (i’m too cheap to buy one). when i bought the xbox 360 it came with a mic and i have fallen in love with being able to chat with some of my former youth from baton rouge. if you’re on live look me up (my id is ratterrell).

black friday

until this year i had never been to black friday. if at all possible i usually try to avoid shopping when there are crowds. this year however during CHRISTmas i am fixing up an old computer with my dad so that i can place in the man cave and best buy had a few deals going on that would make everything a little cheaper. therefore, i decided that i would wake up at 4:45 a.m. and go shopping at best buy. i didn’t really think it would be that big of a deal. after all this is the stevens point area. the whole micropolis is only composed of 60,000 people. boy was i wrong.

when i got to best buy the line going into the building was wrapped 180 degrees around the building and that was while it was already moving in. i jumped in the line just to see what it would be like. all i know is that you people who do this regularly are completely nuts. why would so many people be in such a mad rush to spend money? i was so distracted by the oddness of the situation that i ended up grabbing the wrong item (i wanted a 22″ lcd monitor for $149 + rebate and what i grabbed was the “better” 22″ monitor for $199 without rebate). by the time i realized it all the other deal monitors had been snatched up. it then wasn’t worth it to me to stand in line and buy the only other item i needed (a new hard drive for the machine) when i knew i could buy it online for the same price. so i put both items back up and walked around to amuse myself.

i ended up randomly pointing people to other parts of the store. the big item for sale was a whole emachine computer for $199. every one and their mom was looking for that. of course, the item sold out minutes into people entering the store and of course most people didn’t realize that. every time i heard someone say “i wonder where the computer for $199 is” i would tell them that i had heard it was over in another department. woosh! they would fly off in that direction. i feel kind of bad about it now but i have to be honest and say i thought it was quite funny at the moment.

thankfully, i do not think i will ever go to black friday again. usually i prefer celebrating “buy nothing day” more than black friday. i guess today i kind of did by proxy.

good night i’m going back to bed now.

nobody in wisconsin gets any gifts

i hope everyone had a great thanksgiving. the terrell family in wisconsin did. our normal tradition involves us hanging out with our families in alabama (we hang out with friends on CHRISTmas). we like thanksgiving lunch (and CHRISTmas lunch also) to be full of food, crowded with people, and loud. while it was fun this year just being with the immediate family, pam and i both agree that we are looking forward to when it will be load and crazy around here. our ultimate goal for next year is to gather some friends around who aren’t able to be family for whatever reasons. this is what we usually tried to do in baton rouge.

part of our family tradition also involves going to see a movie on thanksgiving day. today we went to see “fred claus.” it was pretty good on a whole. we all enjoyed the moment when santa claus responded with “this means nobody in wisconsin gets any gifts.” thankfully we will be in alabama on CHRISTmas day. whew! that was close.

SIDE NOTE – i finished “jim & casper go to church” last night and it was great. since i checked this book out from the library i am probably going to have to buy this book so i will have it on hand to pass around within our core group. i actually may just buy it for everyone our core group.

curling record

for those of you who are trying to follow my curling progress i thought i would let you know that last night my team won it’s second bonspiel. our record now is 2-1. last night’s bonspiel was a tight one. we were tied going into the last end (the curling term for a round). i’m not sure what the other teams’ records are so i can’t tell you if we have a dynasty going on here or not. i tend to think we probably do.

SIDE NOTE – while walking my dogs i am presently listening to richard baxter’s book “the reformed pastor.” even though it was written in the 1600s it is still amazing. obviously i have to listen to the book through a 21st century filter (looking at things have changed dramatically since the 17th century) but it is still so on target. it’s was free on christian audio last month.

how i would greet the new youth minister

before i left parkview i had hoped to send out a letter to all the parents making suggestions on how to help the new youth minister get going quickly. as can happen life got busy with other things and so this was dropped by the way. i thought since a few of my friends from baton rouge read this blog i might do it now. i don’t know now when y’all will know who the new guy/girl is or when he/she will be at parkview to start ministering with you but here are a few things i would find useful if i were in his/her situation.

  • invite them over to dinner often – the new youth minister is going to want to get to know everyone involved within the student ministry as fast as possible and in my opinion meeting the whole family is a great way to do this. invite him/her over to dinner, spend time with him/her, and then do it all again. that way the youth minister will get
  • give the youth minister a gift card every now and then – i don’t mean like a gift (a.k.a. a place he/she can take the spouse on a date – though that might be nice too). rather i mean to places that he/she can use to take youth for meeting them. i can’t imagine how much money i spent at cc’s and cane’s and it never really seemed right to let the youth pay. it will be a good bit easier for the new youth minister to start doing this if he/she has a few gift cards specifically for taking youth out for a cup of coffee.
  • if you have an expectation of the youth ministry let him/her know it – but don’t just assume that he/she will agree with it – unsaid expectations make a situation difficult. if you think something is exceptionally important within the youth ministry then discuss this with the new youth ministry. yet always remember that he/she doesn’t have to agree with you and actually might see things differently from you. if you talk about things you both will at the very least know where each other is at.
  • give him/her a break – until a youth minister has been at a church for around a year he/she really has no idea what’s going on. every week is a “first” for the new minister. it’s going to take awhile for him/her to get his/her legs on the ground. so give the new minister that chance before you expect for him/her to run with things.
  • enjoy the fact that the new minister is not me – i don’t mean this as a cut on myself. instead what i’m trying to say is that after seven years of ministry “robert-style” someone doing things in a different manner is a good thing. even at my best ministry-wise i didn’t see certain things and at my worst i ignored certain things. case in point … ski trips. i know of several wonderful youth ministers that are able to make ski trips great parts of a solid ministry. i, on the other hand, am bothered by ski trips. for me a ski trip would be a waste of ministry time because i would have gone into them thinking they were a waste of time and resources. the new youth minister will have things that he/she does great and loves, and other things that he turns a blind eye to. it will be a nice change that will reach new people.

that’s all i can think of right now. since i know and love so many wonderful people at parkview i am sure that you all will make the most of this time of great opportunity.

relational defaults

last week i posted the first of the series of emails i am sending to some young friends of mine for whom i am officiating their wedding ceremony. they are getting premarital counseling from a great guy who is geographically closer than i am but i still felt like i would be remiss if i didn’t make sure a few things were covered. i’m actually 99% sure that the counselor will cover this stuff but i would rather send a useless email than not have some things covered.

anyhow, here’s the second email.

Last week I wrote you concerning what I believe to be the ultimate purpose of marriage (and life for that matter). Now I will begin to write to you concerning some of the things that I believe are important for living out your marriage. Basically I’ll just write on the subjects that I would normally cover if we were meeting together for premarital counseling. The subjects we would cover together are

• Relational defaults
• Fighting
• Money
• Sex

So let’s talk a little about “relational defaults.”

What I mean by this has a lot to do with your experience of your parents’ marriages. I know a good bit about your family life (name removed to protect the innocent) and a little about your family life (name removed because of the witness protection act & his testimony against the mob) and from what I know I would assume that you both feel as though there are parts that you would like to emulate and there are parts that you would like to completely avoid. That’s why I would like to talk about “defaults.” You will not automatically become your parents (for good or bad) but the experiences you have had in watching their marriages will help to form you for good and bad. In my opinion those experiences can form “defaults” that you naturally go towards.

What this means is that how your parents fought, treated each other, communicated, parented, etc. are all a part of who you are and you will have a natural tendency to coast toward those behaviors. If your mother had a tendency to horde money, or your father had a tendency to love his yard more than his children, or your parents had a tendency to fight with the goal of slashing each other’s throats, or one spouse had a tendency to humiliate the other spouse in public, etc. then you need to watch out for those behaviors within yourself. You are not doomed to become your parents (or for that matter blessed to naturally become your parents) but if you do not watch out for some of the behaviors that you don’t like in their relationships then you will find them slowly creeping into your lives. After all your parent’s relationship with their spouse is the closest you will ever be to studying someone else’s relationship. You have learned a great deal for good and bad from watching those relationships so carefully. If you don’t watch out for it you will probably find yourself doing the very things that you had always hated when your parents did them to each other.

I don’t mean for this to be a cut on your parents because we all have our faults and the goal is for our kids to get better at things than we are. I know that one day Adam and Noah will look over at me and think “Dad should be treating Mom this way” and hopefully their marriage will be even more successful that ours because of it. Should you have children the same will be true with them.

Overcoming our negative defaults takes work. We have to constantly be on the look out for them and also be willing to do what is necessary to overcome them. Obviously we head towards these defaults because they are easy for us. That means overcoming them will probably not be easy. I am a firm believer that successful marriages are such because of work (and I don’t merely define successful as staying together). The couple that purposely works at loving each other is usually the one that stays loving each other. Working at overcoming our relational defaults is one item that a couple needs to work on so that they will continue loving each other as well as they possibly can.

If we were meeting together I would assign you both some “homework” for us to talk about together the next week. We’re not meeting together so we can’t really talk about this together but I think I’ll still assign the homework. The first week’s normal homework would be to go out to eat somewhere and write out answers to the following questions and discuss it:

1. What is it about your parents’ relationships with their spouse that you dislike the most and wish to avoid in your marriage?
2. What is it about your in-laws’ relationships with their spouses that you most dislike and wish to avoid in your marriage?
3. How can you help each other avoid these behaviors?

I try to encourage each couple I talk with to give each other permission to lovingly (and that is most important) call each other on behavior when they begin to act out on the behaviors they have discussed. How to do that comes under “fighting fair” and typically we would talk about that the next week. In our present case I will simply email you next week.

Until next week.