The Quite Storm… Domestic Violence could be in the Forecast

“Boys to men”, need a safe place where they are taught not to deny their pain, but how to endure it. Yes, we are tough, but we have tear ducts, too.

thunderstormAs kids, our mother would observe the dark clouds moving in. She would tell us to settle down, be quiet, unplug the TV and the Stereo, “it’s coming up a storm”. Sure enough, in just a little while, the lightning would start flashing, we could hear the sound of thunder, the wind would start blowing, then came the rain pounding on our ten roof (an amazing sound), although scary sometimes if it was a really bad storm. The sound of a storm- -we could hear it, but we were safe in our storm shelter. However, there is another storm; a quiet storm that often comes without warning and with no shelter in place.

As little boys, we were often told not to cry…..don’t be a sissy…dry up those tears boy…get up, you are not hurt, even when the blood was still running down our leg with pieces of the pavement and glass hanging from the wound. We were told to “suck it up”, so we would muster up enough strength to fight back the tears. Then the reward would come, “you are a big boy and big boys don’t cry; they are tough”. We then began learning the life lesson of “denying our pain”. We would get scolded for crying and rewarded for being tough–even when you could still see the blood. That belief system took on a life of its own and over the years we learned to deny our pain and hold back the tears, even though we were hurting. This gets a little more confusing as you get older; when our girlfriends tell us we are not sensitive and demand we get in touch with our feelings (tears), if we want to continue the relationship.

From “boys to men”, we have perfected “denying our pain”; even when the knife of betrayal is still in our backs, we say I’m all right. Just like the pellets from a shotgun are scattered, so have negative words been scattered in our hearts over the years, we still say I am good, I’m ok. We have locked ourselves in the handcuffs of bad choices and mistakes; yet we still deny the self-inflicted pain we feel. As we are looking through the bars of regret and shame, we still confess it’s all good, but as quiet as it is kept, “it’s coming up a storm”. The dark clouds of depression are getting closer; the winds of controversy are blowing; the lightning of anger is flashing; the thunder of disappointment is roaring; and yes, the rain of bitterness and resentment is heavily falling. Who can escape from this kind of storm? Our families and our communities need a storm shelters and even we need one for ourselves–because 80% of people, who “quit” on life and commit suicide are men.

Safe placeBoys and men, both, need a safe place where they are taught not to deny their pain, but how to endure it. Where they are taught, yes, we are tough, but we have tear ducts, too. It’s okay to cry while we are cleaning the glass and pavement out of the wound; let the tears flow while you are pulling the knife of betrayal out of your back; it’s okay to admit the pain and the shame of mistakes and bad choices; while learning skills to unlock those handcuffs, and yes, we have been hurt by painful words like, “you just like your no-good daddy”, but through the tears we learn to forgive.

On the other hand, nobody wants a wimpy man or a whining boy, and there are times we have to suck it up. We are built to fight, we are born with the ability to shut down our emotions and even in fear, act on instinct to protect those whom we love. Then, there are times to let the water (tears) flow and it’s in that safe place, boys and men find their storm shelter. To deny boys and men, alike, that safe place is to deny our homes and communities a storm shelter because “it’s coming up a storm.”

© Copyright 2014 Glen Warren/Fathers Forever All Rights Reserved

Bitter Root, Bitter Fruit

“The root of bitterness is hard to ‘pluck up’ because we feel justified in our feelings; after all, we were wronged.” Glen Warren, Sr.

I grew up on a farm where most of our food was “home-grown”. We always had a large garden, where various vegetables were planted; we ate some and canned the rest for the winter months. My father would always have a special place, in the garden, where he planted watermelons for us. We all loved to eat watermelons, including my father.
After the watermelon seed was planted, it would take a few weeks before we could see any growth. We couldn’t see the roots nevertheless, it was still growing. Then one day, we would begin to see the vine sprouting up, just above the ground, and we were very happy because the watermelons would soon follow. A few more weeks on the vine and little watermelons would be visible; in just a few more weeks, the watermelons would be ripe enough to pull and cut. And our taste-buds would be ready!
When a seed is planted in the right soil, it will take root; with water and sunlight, it will grow and eventually become ripe fruit. We all understand that principle. The same principle applies, when a seed is planted in our hearts; it will take root and grow to become ripe fruit, as well.

Bitterness is sometimes a seed that has been planted in the soil of our hearts, as result of the actions of others, or a bad experience in our lives. We can’t see the root, but it’s there growing and as we dwell on (feed and water) those hurt feelings, in a few days, or a few weeks, or a few months, or even a few years, people will see the fruit of bitterness in us, in the form of anger, malice, resentment and sometimes even hate, just to name a few.
In his book, Lee: the Last Years, Charles Flood reports that after the Civil War, Robert E. Lee visited a Kentucky lady who took him to the remains of a grand old tree in front of her house. There she bitterly cried that its limbs and trunk had been destroyed by Federal artillery fire. She looked to Lee for a word condemning the North or at least sympathizing with her loss. After a brief silence, Lee said, “Cut it down, my dear Madam, and forget it.” It is better to forgive the injustices of the past, rather than let them remain; allowing bitterness to take root and poison the rest of our life. It’s not possible to go through life without being hurt by someone and what’s frustrating is that when we have been hurt, the person who caused it goes on as though they’ve done nothing wrong. Often times, they don’t even apologize and seem to suffer no ill consequences for their actions, the result is bitterness. “The root of bitterness is hard to pluck up because we feel justified in our feelings; after all, we were wronged.”
Another story is told of a very bitter woman, who was bitten by a rabid raccoon. Tests were performed and the doctor concluded and informed her that she had rabies. She then got a notebook and began writing down names. The doctor asked if she was making a will. She replied, NO! I am making a list of all the people I am going to bite! Please don’t be like the lady in this story!

In the evening, after the watermelon was cool, my father would cut it and serve us until our bellies were full! Watch out for the root of bitterness, unlike the watermelon, it can be harmful to you and the loved ones you are serving.

© Copyright 2014 Glen Warren/Fathers Forever All Rights Reserved

Power Surge

Domestic Violence is a “surge of abusive power”, it destroys that which it’s suppose to empower. Glen Warren Sr.

A power surge is a sudden increase in voltage that is sent back into the system it once powered; thus, destroying it. Lightning strikes are a common cause, but for the most part, a power surge comes from inside the home; sounds a lot like “Domestic Violence”. Violence can come from anywhere, at any time; but the worst kind is when it comes from an immediate family member in the home. Domestic Violence is a “surge of abusive power”, it destroys that which it’s suppose to be empowering.

In one of our Fathers Forever domestic violence classes, I asked, “How many fathers have ever had a D.V. charge?” To my surprise, half of the guys raised their hands. Some of the fathers stated they were set up by their partner, while others admitted to their abusive behavior; and one particular father said “You have to hit her every now and again to keep her in line.” I asked him to please explain, his response was disturbing, although I had heard it before. He said he grew up in an abusive household where his dad beat his mother, his siblings, and himself often, for no apparent reason. “He would get mad and fuss for a few days, then ‘flip out’ and began beating us, starting with my mom. After the beating he would be very nice, buying us things, helping my mom in the kitchen, and he would later apologize, but tell us it was our fault and that he had to keep us in line. Things would be normal for a while, but in a few months or some times weeks, the fussing would start up again.” I asked him how he felt about it and he said, “I knew it was wrong, but it did keep us in line, including my mom. She didn’t talk back to him as much after the beatings.  He then said,”he tried it a few times and that’s how he got the Domestic Violence charge.”

Lenore Walker created “The Cycle of Abuse” model, in which she identified four phases of abuse. Phase 1 – Tension Building; Phase 2 – Acting Out (the abuse); Phase 3 – Reconciliation or the Honeymoon; and Phase 4 – The Calm. We saw that pattern pretty clearly in that father’s story. I instructed the fathers, to go home, take their partner’s hand, and palm to palm measure to see how much bigger their hands are compared to hers. Then, arm wrestle her and see how much more strength they have over hers. I went on to explain, the reason they are bigger and stronger. It is to “protect” her, anything else is an abuse of power however, Domestic Violence is much more than physical abuse.

A few years ago, I was invited to share at a conference. An agency was showing how they had saved a woman and her children from their abusive husband and stepfather. They provided “Wrap Around Services”, which included relocation, counseling, and assistance for the mom to find employment. They really had done a great job! I then posed a question, “What services did you offer the husband/father?” None was offered, of course, except a jail cell. He would be released one day, and of course, he would then have a criminal record; and of course, he won’t be able to find a job; so, of course, he finds another family to abuse and the cycle continues. (We need a surge protector!)

A surge protector is a device that contains circuitry to prevent damage from reaching the electrical equipment plugged into it, when a power surge occurs. I often wonder why there aren’t more programs to help men understand the root cause of their “domestic violence” behavior. The father mentioned earlier (perhaps, like many other fathers), had distorted views of his role as a “man” and “father”. We, as a society, need to put more surge protectors (services for men) in our community. If we are going to stop Domestic Violence, we have to provide programs to both the victims and the perpetrators. A community with few or no services to aide men in understanding the affects of Domestic Violence is like a home without a surge protector; both can suffer from the abuse of power.

 © Copyright 2014 Glen Warren/Fathers Forever All Rights Reserved

If the Shoe Fits, Wear It… What If It Doesn’t Fit?

We say “If the shoe fits, wear it”, but what happens if it doesn’t fit?

 

Shoes were created to protect our feet from the natural elements. It is essential that they are comfortable while we are doing our various activities. However, life can be unbearable and painful if they don’t fit well. It is the same scenario, when wearing “the shoes of life” that don’t fit.

A few years ago, I bought my first pair of cowboy boots and I was so proud of them. Wearing them the first couple of weeks was kind of painful because they were a bit too small. I have wide feet and the boots were a regular width. I was hoping they would eventually begin to feel better, but the pain got worse. I tried different methods of stretching them, but nothing worked; they just didn’t fit. I was a single father with three children and buying another pair of boots was not in the budget. So, I kept on wearing them as painful as they were. In the meantime, a “corn” developed on my toe. Corns will form on one’s toe(s) from wearing shoes to small. I was finally reduced to wearing my cherished boots only one or two days a week, then, to not wearing them at all. It was just too painful!

In life, what do we do when we are wearing shoes that don’t fit? Perhaps, that physically or emotionally abusive relationship you are in is the “shoe that doesn’t fit”. It’s painful, but you are still trying to wear it. You deserve better.  Seek help. Get some counseling and allow time to heal; go find yourself a partner that will love and respect you. Then wear those “shoes” that will now “fit”, with style; and keep them polished!

What about the people you associate with? You are trying to better yourself. You have visions and dreams; you want to finish school or go back to school, and your friends just want to hang out and party. That “shoe is not fitting”! Go find some new friends that have similar goals and are willing to do what it takes to accomplish them.

Or that dead-end job. It’s painful to train others for the promotion you should have gotten. That “shoe does not fit”. Don’t get bitter, get better. Take appropriate steps to show you can be a leader; volunteer for extra projects while you look for another job. When you find it, give the required notice and leave in style, thanking them for the experience and go wear your brand new shoes.

Do you own a pair of worn shoes–there is nothing like them? For they have become so comfortable. Through the years, your feet have molded and shaped them to the perfect fit. Sort of like a spouse, the two of you have been together so long that you have been told you resemble each other. Or you begin a sentence, and he/she finishes it. You love and care for them so much, even with their “perfect imperfections”, you are joined together. Now that’s a “shoe that fits”. Keep wearing them.   Well done and you have kept the relationship polished.

I have learned the art of buying cowboy boots. I now own 11 pairs and they all fit well. No more walking uncomfortably; no pain and definitely no more “corns”! Find what shoes fit in your life, your faith, your hobby, your friends, and your family. Then wear them! Keep them polished and live life to the fullest.

On another note, there may be times when we need to wear a pair of shoes that don’t necessarily fit, but it’s only for a short time or short distance. It’s when we walk a mile in other’s shoes, we then may be able to understand and perhaps help them find a pair of shoes that fit.

© Copyright 2014 Glen Warren/Fathers Forever All Rights Reserved

Crazy Like A Fox

I don’t blame or complain about things like the economy, the government, taxes, employees, gas prices, or any of the external things that I don’t have control over. The only thing I have control over is my response to these things.Jack Canfield

The phrase “Crazy like a Fox”, itself is deceiving because the nature of a fox is not really craziness, but rather cunning and deceiving.  It is used when one appears to be “crazy”, but is acting with hidden motives; in a cunning way; again like a fox. We will also subtitle this blog “The Blame Game”.

We are familiar with this story; after God created the heavens and the earth, He formed man out of the dust of the ground and placed him in the Garden of Eden. He then gave Adam some instructions. Eat from every tree except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God realized man was alone. So, He took one of his ribs, fashioned it into a woman, named Eve, and they became one flesh. Now the trouble begins. The serpent had a conversation with Eve telling her if she ate the forbidden fruit, she wouldn’t die. Instead, she would be like God. So, she ate and gave some to her husband and he, too, ate. When God confronted Adam and Eve for eating the forbidden fruit, He asked “Why?” In his reply, Adam first blamed God; himself (the woman you gave me); then, he blamed the woman (she gave me the fruit); and I did eat. As for Eve she blamed the serpent for deceiving her to eat.

If you read the story, what Adam and Eve said was true. God did give the woman to Adam; and Eve was deceived by the serpent. However, they both were disobedient. For Adam, the “crazy like a fox stunt” was first blaming God and then he blamed Eve, before finally admitting he ate the fruit. For Eve the “crazy like a fox stunt” was blaming the serpent for deceiving her. As you know, God didn’t go along with this blame game stunt.

When things happen to us, there is a space [   ] between what happens and our response to what happened. In that space [   ] we are responsible for our decisions, reactions, and behavior. We can choose to grow and mature in that space [   ] and it will be reflected in our reaction and behavior; or we can allow our growth to be stunted in that space [   ] and it, too, will be reflected in our reactions and behavior. The word “stunt” means to stop, slow down, or hinder the growth or development.

So, how do we respond when life happens? Remember it will be reflected in your behavior. Yes it’s true, your daddy wasn’t present in your life, but how long are you going to blame him for your behavior of not taking care of your children. It’s true, he did leave you and the children for another woman, but how long are you going to blame him for that space [   ] of “bitterness” which you have chosen to remain in. It’s a fact, you did grow up on the wrong side of the track, but at some point in time you have to stop living in that space [   ] of blaming the system for your victim mentality. And yes, it’s a fact, they miss-handled you and hurt you down to your core, but how long will you walk in that space [   ] of un-forgiveness. At some point and time we have to stop blaming others for the decisions we make.

The “blame game” didn’t work for Adam and Eve as they tried to excuse and justify their behavior and it won’t work for us either. We are still walking under the verdict God sentenced Adam and Eve for their behavior. Make the choice to grow and not be stunted in your space [   ]. If not, your “crazy like a fox stunt” may sentence a verdict to you and your love ones. It may be difficult at first to stop blaming others for our behavior and we may never stop completely, but we can start by beginning to recognize it.

© Copyright 2014 Glen Warren/Fathers Forever All Rights Reserved

A Day Late and a Dollar Short

“Let others lead small lives, but not you. Let others argue over small things, but not you. Let others cry over small hurts, but not you. Let others leave their future in someone else’s hands, but not you.” Jim Rohn

The adage“a day late and a dollar short” generally means that someone has missed an opportunity and even if they hadn’t missed it, they weren’t prepared for it. Let’s look at this from another perspective, as it relates to your past; your present; and your future.

While I was sitting at the stop light one day, a lady rammed her car into the back of me. She was going pretty fast. After the crash, I was in pain. My back was hurting and so was my hand. It had hit the steering wheel and caused me to spill my hot, freshly-made coffee. It was not a pretty sight and it was a painful one, I might add. After a few hours in the ER, I was prescribed some pain medication and released; free to go home. A few days later, I had my first physical therapy appointment. I remember looking into the rear view mirror and seeing a car speeding up behind me. I got scared; anxious that I was going to be hit again. In fact, I was so focused on the rear view mirror, I almost ran into the back of another car. I had to change my focus from the rear view mirror, to the front-view of the windshield and do it quickly.

It’s been said, people are either Past-Present Thinkers or Future- Present Thinkers. Past-Present means, the past dictates the present. Example: People, who have been hurt in past relationships, now find it hard to make a commitment to a serious new relationship. They are afraid of getting hurt again. They are living in a continuous state of loneliness and paranoia. They don’t trust anyone and think people are out to hurt them. Another example: people, who stepped out of their comfort zone to start a business, or to fulfill another dream, ran into some setbacks, got discouraged,and quit with an I’ll-never-try-that-again attitude. Past-Present people, lets the past cause them to give up on the finer things in life. They need to change their focus.

Future-Present means, the future dictates the present. An example of Future-Present Thinkers: You set a realistic goal; perhaps you tell your spouse or someone that is going to encourage and hold you accountable;and then you get the process going, determined to complete it. You start strong, you finish strong. Even if you fall, you fall forward; you get up, dust yourself off,and start again. Your present, now, is being dictated by your future. Future-Present Thinkers focus on and go after the finer things in life and they eventually get them.

A well-known writer (The Apostle Paul),of a well-known book (The Bible),writes: “forget those things which are behind, and reach forth unto those things which are before. He was talking about leaving the past, in the past and reaching forward to the future.

Sometimes, trying to move forward while still looking back makes the forward motion very difficult. That’s why the windshield is much larger than the rear view mirror of our cars; however, the rear view mirror, symbolic of our past, is important and can serve us well.

So, go tell your pastyour enemies, your haters–they are “a day late and a dollar short; that they missed the opportunity to take you out, and because they under-estimated you and your determination, they were also unprepared to stop you.

There is a positive side “to a day late and a dollar short,” too. It does have some value. You see, there are 24 hours in a day and a dollar equals one hundred pennies. So, spend those pennies wisely and take that 24 hours of PAST experiences, knowledge, and insight into your future. Your past explains how you got here. The future is up to you.

© Copyright 2014 Glen Warren/Fathers Forever All Rights Reserved

To Steal a Nest Away

“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body”. Elizabeth Stone

As I’ve written in previous blogs, when I was growing up, we raised chickens throughout the summer to eat during the winter; however, we would keep some of our chickens to provide us with eggs. They were later called hens. The hens would lay an egg every couple of days, and we would collect a good amount daily until what our daddy called “to steal a nest away” happened. That is when some of the hens stopped laying eggs in the usual nests and each one secretly made another nest. After three or four days with only a few eggs in the usual nests, our daddy would send us to carefully follow the hens to find their hidden nests. Sometimes we found them; sometimes we didn’t.

To steal a nest away is a psychological and behavioral change that happens to some hens in the spring. They lay eggs in a secret nest for the purpose of hatching them into baby chick. When the nest is full, the heninstinctively starts sitting on them. She briefly leaves the nest each day only to eat and drink, This process is call incubation, which requires the right climate – spring time, the right temperature – her body heat, and right amount of time approximately 21 days. Then, they hatch and suddenly we’d see her with 5, 6 or 7 little ones following close behind her as she walked across the yard from her hidden nest; the one we couldn’t find.

We all know one of the characteristics of a chicken is fear. We tease each other by saying, “Don’t be scared like a chicken.”But when it comes to protecting her little ones, she is not afraid, and she knows how to put up a fight. Ask me how I know! Even Jesus admired the chicken’s protective behavior when he said in Matthew’s gospel, “I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.” It’s a lesson some parents could learn from a chicken.

That’s the chicken’s world. What does “to steal a nest away” look like in our world? We are to provide a spring-like climate in our homes all season for our children with plenty of sunshine and showers of love; and a warm and safe environment, free from any and all abuse and inappropriate behavior, including relatives and friends who live in or visit our home. We have to I.N.P.U.T into our kids! That acronym means to Instruct Nurture Provide Understand and Teach. That requires being present and spending quality time with them; even if we don’t live in the same house, city or even state with them. With all-access to the social media, cell phones, email and so on, we can be in constant contact with our kids on a daily basis. But, of course, nothing takes the place of been face-to-face with our young. That’s another lesson from a chicken.

For those parents who have consciously chosen not to “to steal a nest away” for their kids, there is yet another lesson: Laying egg is what chickens do, but in the right season, they go through a psychological and behavioral change and it’s not just about laying egg any more. It’s about producing offspring and caring for them. I guess for some parents, they haven’t gone through the psychological and behavioral change, and to them it’s still all about just “laying eggs.” I hope you catch my meaning.

As I mentioned, there’s a name change. Although she’s still a chicken, she’s called a hen. When we become parents, our names change, as well. We are still people, woman and man. But, now, we are called Mommy and Daddy. Even so, some parents have the name, but haven’t made the psychological and behavioral change necessary to birth, nurture and raise children. For them, they still have a lot to learn. And they could even learn those lessons from a chicken.

 

© Copyright 2014 Glen Warren/Fathers Forever All Rights Reserved

Organized Chaos

An oxymoron describes two or more contradictory words used together in a phrase to express one idea. One example: she is “pretty ugly” or, as my Daddy used to say, ‘take your time and hurry right along.” Another example is a 6 foot-400- pound man is nicknamed “Tiny,” or the title of this blog, ‘Organized Chaos.’ The question is, “How can something be both chaotic and have order at the same time?” Well, let’s dive in and see.

Consider this old but very relevant story. I’ll set the stage: there was a board meeting in heaven with the Lord and the sons of God. I’m not sure Satan was invited, but he showed up, and the meeting was called to order. God asked Satan where he had been. He replied, “Roaming the earth.” He didn’t say exactly what he was looking for, but apparently God knew. Then God said these words, “Have you considered my servant Job? He is a blameless and upright, God fearing man; turning away from evil, there is no one like him on the earth.” (God was bragging.) Satan said, “Yea, but I can’t touch him because of your hand of protection. You have given him great possessions. That’s the only reason he is serving you. If you remove your hand, he will curse you to your face.” (I wonder if God said, “You want to bet?”) Then, the Lord gave Satan permission to test Job’s faith and his love for Him, saying, “You can take all he has; just spare his life.” The Lord set the Ground Rules.

With one disaster after another disaster after another disaster, Satan took nearly everything Job had. He lost his 10 children; all of his sheep, camels, oxen, and donkeys; and nearly all of his servants. It was destroyed, with no warning. Satan didn’t stop there. He caused sores to form on Job’s body, from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet. Then Job’s wife – yea, the wife, turned on him. She told him to “curse God and die!” Last but not least, three of Job’s dear friends came and rebuked him.

What do you say to this? God himself was the organizer of Job’s chaos, and he set the ground rules. He was so confident in Job; talk about bragging rights. Satan lost that bet! Heaven is still bragging about Job today. Millions of stories have been told, and many sermons have been preached about Job. This blog is no different.

I wonder if God ever bragged about us? What would that feel like? How would we know? Or, maybe, like Job, we wouldn’t know. Job did not sin, nor did he blame God. At the end of this story, God restored all of Job’s possessions to twice as much as he had before. He even got 10 more children.

Perhaps God is the organizer of some of our chaos, our trials and tribulations. God has confidence in us, as well, and please know this, He has set the ground rule that He will not put or allow more on us than any one of us can bear. Satan is going to lose the bet against you and me, as well.

The question still remains: How can something be both chaotic and have order at the same time? The answer is pretty simple. With God, all things are possible and, in his timing, all chaos will be called to order, even our pains and heartache. In the mean time while we are going though our suffering God himself in over seeing it “ALL” and making sure the ground rules are not broken and he is betting on you.

© Copyright 2014 Glen Warren/Fathers Forever All Rights Reserved

Turn Down The Music…. I Can’t See

Most people I know like music, and so do I.  I like mostly all music, from Gospel to R&B, Jazz, and Rock-n-Roll to a little Reggae, some Country and Western, even a little Rap and, especially, throw-back songs from the 70s and 80s. But sometimes, we have to turn down the music to focus; hence, the phrase we often hear at odd times: “Turn down the music. I can’t see.” It doesn’t really mean you can’t see, it means you need some quiet time to concentrate; focus.

PhotoHave you ever been driving with the music blasting? Perhaps it’s one of those moments with you singing in the car. Or, maybe it’s the in the shower.  Wherever it is, it’s just you and your music. In the car,  you are getting close to your destination; your GPS has lead you thus far, but, now, you are not completely sure which turn to make or which building you’re trying to find.  You need to focus and concentrate, but you can’t, especially with the music on. The volume is making it very difficult, so you have to turn it down to an ever-so-soft volume.

Driving to meet a potential Fathers Forever sponsor, I had to do just that, I was having my singing in the car moment. Those throw-back songs had me going, and before I realized it, I had missed a turn. So, of course, I had to turn down the music; I needed quietness to see my way back on route.

There are times in life when we have to turn down the music; times when we need that quite time to ourselves in order to see, to focus and to concentrate. The music can be tunes on the radio, or it could be, figuratively speaking, our spouse, our children, our siblings, our jobs, our church and/or our friends. Sometimes, we have to turn them down ever-so-softly. Some call it quiet time; others call it devotional. Whatever its name, it means to steal away and spend time with yourself, your thoughts, and/or your faith. It’s a regularly-scheduled, systematic time alone with yourself – and maybe an activity like reading, praying, mediation, or just day-dreaming for the purpose of strengthening yourselves and perhaps getting some direction or clarity. You could choose to establish your quiet time in the morning, before your day starts; in the evening, reflecting on your day; or, perhaps, some quiet time during the day helps you get through the day. There are times when it is all about you, take it.

Kings, presidents, world leaders and heads of state often make devotion a part of their daily schedule. We should as well. Consider this: even Jesus needed some alone time away from His disciples and the crowds. John records, “He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself.” He wasn’t by himself for long, however. The people followed Him and, because he took time to strengthen himself, he was able to feed the crowds. We have to do the same. As the saying goes, “you can’t give what you don’t have.”

So, go ahead. Take some quiet time for yourself; maybe read a Chat and Chew blog, then pump up the volume with the music of your choice. Love your spouse a little more; spend more time with the kids; and take some time out to love on your siblings, your church members and friends. Give the job your all. Let your life be music in your own ears.

I was feeling good when I got back in the car. It had been a good meeting. I turned the music up a little louder. We received an email a few weeks later, stating our Fathers Forever organization was awarded a grant we both wanted and needed. Now, that was music to my ears.

© Copyright 2014 Glen Warren/Fathers Forever All Rights Reserved

Read Between The Lines

“We all have an agenda; the problem is the one we hide. “– Glen Warren

Mr. Webster Dictionary defines the idiom “read between the lines” as hidden messages in a behavior or words that are spoken or written. An underlying meaning which other’s are left to figure out what’s really being communicated.  Let’s get into the meat of this blog.

imagesZWNI8RI4They say “observation is the key to insight.  Driving home from work one afternoon, a police officer was a few cars behind me in the same lane. I quickly remembered my license tag had expired, so I switched lanes. The policeman switched lanes as well. I later found out he wasn’t following me intentionally, at first. But I then made the mistake of switching lanes again and again.

Some professionals like law enforcement officers are trained to observe people’s behavior. I guess his training kicked in because about five minutes and several lane zigzags down the road, the blue lights were flashing and I was getting a ticket for driving with an invalid license tag. The police was very polite and I was courteous. I asked him: “How could you see my tags from so far away?” His reply: “I was headed to have lunch with my wife. I didn’t see your tag until you started switching lines. You gave yourself away.” He had read between the lines. He observed my behavior, which gave him insight; I wasn’t just switching lanes, I was trying to avoid him, and he soon found out why – dead tags.

imagesN20HUB7ZObservation brings insight and insight gives us a clear path to “read between the lines.”  Insight helps us understand the motivation behind one’s actions, thoughts, or behaviors. To gain insight, though, we have to train ourselves to be observant. What do you see when you walk into a room? Do you see just the obvious things, like the chairs, desks, or the people? Or, do you see the pictures on the wall and count them? Do you look further to determine what’s in the pictures on the wall? If you do the latter, instead of seeing just what’s obvious, that’s observation.

“Discernment” is another word that can help us “read between the lines.”  It’s often used by the faith community and is better described as a “spirit of discernment,” which goes even deeper.  It’s a feeling, a knowing, that grants us the ability to detect, not just behaviors, but motives, as well. Now, that’s what we really need in today’s climate of social, political and interpersonal wrangling.

What’s the moral of this blog? We all have an agenda – a motive that compels us to do what we do and say what we say. Nothing is wrong with agendas. The problem: hidden agendas; when people say one thing and mean another. A common example: Some people say they want to help you, but they really just want to use you to further their agenda, and that can be devastating to you and your love ones.

Being able to “read between the lines” is essential and could save us a lot of pain. Whether it’s a feeling -discernment, or the benefit of insight – observation, these skills are necessary as we try to figure out what people are really communicating, what they really mean and how we should respond. So practice being observant, be present in the moment so you can detect those who could harm you with their hidden agendas. Always read the fine print.

NOTE – A final word of caution, though: Don’t read too much between the lines and become paranoid. That can be dangerous, too!

© Copyright 2014 Glen Warren/Fathers Forever All Rights Reserved