Being Unequally Yoked Stinks!

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Today I got an email requesting some information on how to find happiness in a marriage where one spouse is Christian and the other is not.

I just came upon your site & looked through the marriage topic for anything on being unequally yoked. Do you have any wisdom on this subject? I am Born Again and in full-time ministry but my husband is not a Christian. This is becoming harder and harder. Thanks.

I replied asking for any specific questions or angles she’d like to hear about… but I thought I could address the whole topic in a general way.

I’ll start by saying that this is a difficult topic to address since I have never been in this situation personally. I have, however, seen the effect of being unequally yoked on the people involved in such a union, both spouses and children, in my 10+ years of ministry. It’s never ideal and in ever situation it’s a struggle for everyone involved.

Why Is Being Unequally Yoked A Struggle?

When is the last time you got into an heated discussion about Religion or Politics with a friend or co-worker with opposing views? There is nothing in the world people are more passionate about than those two topics. Now imagine being married to that person… sharing a home and a bed with someone who thinks everything you hold dear and sacred is stupid and a complete waste of time.

My wife and I always joke about how different we are… how there is no way we should be able to get along… but the reason it works is because our differences are on the surface. Just underneath we are in complete unity. Our Faith, politics, theories on child rearing, the trust we have in one another, our love for our family… exactly the same. But imagine a marriage where the only thing you have in common is what you eat for dinner, what you watch on TV and where you watch it.

Why Do Christian People Marry Non-Christians?

Most of the time folks who marry someone who is not of the same faith do so because they simply do not think it matters at the time. They believe that they can change the person… or that love will be enough to carry them through. Then others are not very committed to their faith and so their beliefs, though different than their potential mate, are not really practiced and are therefore mostly irrelevant. In rare cases one of the spouses find Christ afterward and then find themselves unequally yoked by accident.

Usually people with a Christian background will begin to depend on their faith more as they age and experience life. Having children also gets people taking their relationship with Christ more seriously. If they were raised in church, they’re typically going to want their kids raised in church. Though the Christian parent has the best intentions, they typically become the ‘bad guy’ of the family forcing children to get up early for church when Dad gets to stay home, enforcing rules that only they believe in… it can really be a huge hassle.

If you are a Christian and single, do yourself a favor. Realize that the feeling of being in love is not what keeps a marriage together… it is the depth of your commitment to what you believe that makes marriage vows stick. It makes so much sense it’s scary. How can you trust your potential spouse to believe in and live out his commitment to you when he doesn’t even share, much less live out, your commitment to God.

Creating a Weekly Schedule for Pre-Schoolers

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Recently my wife and I did an episode of Geek Loves Nerd focused on creating a schedule to keep our two pre-school aged kids busy during the week. I started working on the schedule the day after it recorded. Little did I know at the time that Jenn and I would be switching places and the schedule I was creating would become my new bible so to speak.

I thought I would share a little bit of how I came up with the schedule (which is still in the works and has yet to be tested properly). Subscribe to the RSS Feed to get more on this topic as it comes available.

1. I started with the events that were set in stone.

The kids get up at 7:30am every morning. Preschool is Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Staff meeting is always on Tuesday mornings and Lunch comes around every day along with dinner and church is at the same time every Sunday morning and Wednesday night. Once I dropped those set events in my schedule…

2. I started thinking about necessary things we need to do during the week.

There are things that need to be taken care of weekly that aren’t tied down to a set time or day. I’m talking about baths, naps, snacks, chores, grocery shopping and housework. This step is the one I figure will require the most amount of tweaking as I try out the schedule. Once I have these events filled in…

3. The remaining time can be filled with play, activities, free time or other constructive activities.

You’ll notice in my sample schedule below… I haven’t quite filled in all of the Open Time blocks yet. That’s because I’m still trying to find enough to do to keep us busy. My goal is to have something different every day of the week during the same times. So if the morning open time is for inside play… I’m going to have five to six different toys or games that I keep and only bring out on that day to play with them. So maybe Monday is lego day and there is this huge collection of Legos they can only use on Mondays. Tuesdays is Playdoh day… and so on. If I keep the toys during the week, they stay fresh and special. If I play along with them, the toys not only last longer… the time is better spent and constructive.

I want to do the same with outdoor play and outside events. I want to have at least 6-10 outdoor activities I can do with the kids… in warm and cold weather. I also need to come up with places we can go that are cheap/free during the week.

As you can see, this is still a work in progress. I welcome any input or tips in the comments. Stay tuned for the continuing saga that is Geek Loves Nerd!

Sample Weekly Schedule

Monday
7:00am Shower
7:30am Breakfast
8:00am Cleanup & Get Dressed
9:00am Pre-School
9:00am Time With Dunder
12:00pm Pick-up Jenna
12:30pm Lunch
1:00pm Open Time
2:00pm Nap Time
4:00pm Craft/Play/Park Time
5:30pm Jenn’s Home
5:30pm Open Time
7:00pm Dinner
8:00pm Clean up Dinner / Kid’s Quiet Time
8:30pm Bedtime

Tuesday

7:00am Shower
7:30am Breakfast
8:00am Cleanup & Get Dressed
9:00am Leave for Staff Meeting
9:30am Staff Meeting
(If No Staff)
8:30am Outside activity
12:00pm Lunch
12:30pm Open Time
2:00pm Nap Time
4:00pm Craft/Play/Park Time
5:30pm Jenn’s Home
5:30pm Open Time
7:00pm Dinner
8:00pm Clean up Dinner / Bathtime
8:30pm Bedtime
Wednesday
7:00am Shower
7:30am Breakfast
8:00am Cleanup & Get Dressed
9:00am Pre-School
9:00am Time With Dunder
12:00pm Pick-up Jenna
12:30pm Lunch
1:00pm Open Time
2:00pm Nap Time
4:00pm Open Time
5:30pm Jenn’s Home
6:00pm Dinner
6:30pm Leave for Church
7:30pm Church
9:30pm Bedtime
Thursday
7:00am Shower
7:30am Breakfast
8:00am Cleanup & Get Dressed
8:30am Outside activity
12:00pm Lunch
12:30pm Open Time
2:00pm Nap time
5:30pm Jenn’s Home
5:30pm Open Time
7:00pm Dinner
8:00pm Clean up Dinner / Bathtime
8:30pm Bedtime
Friday
7:00am Shower
7:30am Breakfast
8:00am Cleanup & Get Dressed
9:00am Pre-School
9:00am Time With Dunder
12:00pm Pick-up Jenna
12:30pm Lunch
1:00pm Open Time
2:00pm Nap Time
4:00pm Craft/Play/Park Time
5:30pm Jenn’s Home
5:30pm Open Time
7:00pm Dinner
8:00pm Clean up Dinner / Kid’s Quiet Time
8:30pm Bedtime
Saturday
12:00pm Lunch
12:30pm Open Time
2:00pm Nap time
7:00pm Dinner
8:00pm Clean up Dinner / Bathtime
8:30pm Bedtime
Sunday
7:30am Leave for Church
9:00am Church
2:00pm Lunch
2:30pm Nap Time
4:00pm Open Time
7:00pm Dinner
8:00pm Clean up Dinner / Kid’s Quiet Time
8:30pm Bedtime

Switching Places

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For those who listen to the Geek Loves Nerd podcast and even The Gospel of Kennison, my audio journal, I’ve mentioned on at least two occasions that I felt a major life change coming. At the time, I had no idea what that would be… but it came anyway. For a time, while things were in transition, we couldn’t talk about it… but now that the dust as settled, I’d like to share a bit of what is going on.

In a nutshell: Jenn and I are trading places.

Jennifer is seeking full-time employment in the accounting field. I have severely cut my hours and gone to a part-time status with my employer. I’m staying home with the kids… Jenn is going to work.

Why? That’s a difficult question to answer without telling a 4 and a half year story. Jenn has always struggled with leaving her job. That being said she has always been the best Mom a child could ask for… but almost every day has been a struggle for her. That is why she’s my hero. She’s done an amazing job, better than most, in spite of how the felt while doing it.

For my part, I simply got tired of seeing her have to work so hard to try to stay happy. I got to the point that I was willing to do anything. In order for me to get to that point I had to let go of certain ideas. My ‘perfect’ image of the traditional nuclear family wasn’t so perfect. It wasn’t going to work the way we had it set up. Jennifer wasn’t flawed or broken… we were both just trying to force her into a role she wasn’t meant to play. The full-time, stay at home Mom thing was eating her alive and it was far from perfect. The ideal of raising our kids ourselves hasn’t changed… just the image of what that looked like has.

She asked me how it was fair that I give up my career for her. First, I’m not giving up my calling as a minister… second, how is it any different that what we asked her to do nearly 5 years ago?

Some will be judgmental and prideful. You don’t get to judge. That right goes to myself and and my children. We have decided that she has been and forever will be the best Mom on the planet… because she did a better job than most people who enjoy every moment of it. She has earned this and I’m happy to do it for her.

So far the transition has gone very well. I love spending so much time with the kids. The kids haven’t noticed a thing. Jenn and I have always been equally important to them. They have no real preference. That face is benefiting us greatly. I clean house, do the dishes, prepare some meals… haven’t really tackled anything resembling laundry yet. Some things are best left to the pros.

Change, even good change, is funky. Especially when it’s not instant. Transition kind of floats you in a limbo of waiting and impatience, hope and despair. As we float through the next few weeks I know that though we don’t know what the future holds… someone does and He has a plan to prosper us and not to harm us. Plans that include hope and a good future.

I’m glad we found this new course. It’s different than we planned… but it’s working… and working very well. I like where we’re headed even though it wasn’t how we planned to get there. Joy is returning to the Kennison home. Life is good.

You are welcomed to join us on this new chapter of our lives as it plays out on Geek Loves Nerd the blog and podcast and your prayers and comments are always welcome.

New Podcast, I Like Genius, Is Live!

alive

The first episode of I Like Genius is live! Huge thanks to my guest, Christopher Stapleton (ChickenPopPod & The Folding Chair).

I Like Genius is a podcast that examines the everyday people behind some of the most creative and viral content on the internet and turning entertainment into inspiration.

It’s not listed in iTunes yet… but in the mean time here are some subscription options:

iTunes: Subscribe

Zune: Subscribe

Podcast RSS: http://feeds.feedburner.com/ilikegenius

[Link]

Things I Love About My New Son

dun

He’s still fairly new. We’ve only had him for a year and a half. Before I had children I guess I imagined that babies were pretty much devoid of personality. When you see them with their parents out and about they’re either crying or staring at you blankly. Boy was I wrong.

I’ve been spending a lot of extra time with my kids lately… and really bonding with the boy like never before. I thought I’d sit down today and write up a list of things I really think are great about him so far.

  1. He loves Buzz Lightyear.
  2. He’s good with his hands. A born button pusher.
  3. I love watching him notice cause and effect.
  4. He gets happy about the simplest things… like seeing me.
  5. He loves to run and shout.
  6. He likes all my geek stuff. Bobbleheads and the like.
  7. He’s super photogenic.
  8. He’ll eat almost anything… except bread. He’s a walking Atkins Diet.
  9. He’s a sweetheart. It’s great that I’ll have two kids who care about others.
  10. He has a great smile. He sets his teeth in a funny way when he smiles hard.
  11. He’ll sit in my lap for a long time just to watch me play video games.
  12. He adores his older sister.
  13. He looks good in a t-shirt and jeans.
  14. He’s already a hard worker and a great helper.
  15. He grunts like an old man when he picks up something heavy.
  16. He’s quiet in the car. He’s busy watching outside. I used to do the same thing.
  17. I love his nickname, Dunder.
  18. He’s good climbing and descending stairs. One less thing to worry about.
  19. He gives great high-fives.
  20. He’s brave on slides and loves to swing high on the playground.

Three Steps To Take Before Getting Angry At A Comment

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How many times do arguments in a relationship start with a misunderstanding… um… every stinking time perhaps? Something like that. Here are a few hoops you can jump through before dragging yourself and your mate into a three hour shout-fest over nearly nothing.

1. Ask Them To Repeat And Clarify Their Comment

Before you get all angry over a comment, at least make sure you heard what they said correctly. I can’t tell you the times I’ve blown up over something that was never ever said!

2. Assume That You’re Taking It Worse Than Was Intended

I recall in the movie Wolverine where he says “Bub” but The Blob character hears him say “Blob” because he’s sensitive about his weight. We’re the same way. For some reason our brain loves to trick us into thinking folks are saying the exact thing we need to hear in order to be the most offended and hurt. Just knowing this about ourselves can help.

3. Is The Comment A Reply To Your Misunderstood Comment?

When people who love one another say hurtful things, 9 times out of 10 it’s in an attempt to defend themselves against something hurtful. You can judge how bad something you said hurt them by how much their reply stings you. If you say something that gets that kind of response, rather than fire back something awful, realize they may have misunderstood you and find out what they heard you say. Once they understand that you weren’t trying to rip out their heart… things can deescalate.

Two people who love one another are two people who put the other person’s feelings before their own. That doesn’t happen naturally. If it were, it wouldn’t be an act of love in the first place. Take the time and make a decision about your actions rather than allowing yourself to simply react to a comment and you will have that much more peace in your relationship.

Playing Play-Doh With The Kids

playdoh

I remember when it was just play-doh… and that was it. Now they’ve got so many gadgets that I’ve noticed that we don’t ever just shape things ourselves. I challenged Jenna to make a dog without any tools. She did great… but obviously wasn’t pleased with the outcome. She started clumping bits and pieces of doh around his body then said laughing, “He’s stuck in a bush!”

In a small way it’s inspiring. Though she wasn’t happy with the outcome, she didn’t get frustrated, she turned it into something she could enjoy and share with others. That took creativity, positivity and humor.

All from playing play-doh.

Remember To Enjoy Your Children

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Sometimes parenting can feel like more of a chore than a blessing. Especially with young kids. Keeping them out of trouble and busy can easily become a chore than takes up your entire day. If we’re not careful we run the risk of herding them and caring for them but secretly resenting them for taking up all of our time.

I’m finding that one of the keys to successful parenting is to be selfless. I find that when I decide a the beginning of the day that I’m going to put every one else’s needs first, then I’m not surprised by the demands of my preschoolers. I’m not disappointed by how much work it is.

Children are not chores to be done. Neither are they tasks to be completed. They are little humans who need our care and our love. As an added bonus they’re cute and funny. Make a choice today to find enjoyment in your children. What makes each one special and unique? Revel in that today. Our children are gifts from God. Yeah they can be a pain… but they’re capable of bringing joy as well.