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Monday, January 16, 2012

A Dad Who Has Forgotten How to Play: By Paul Emery

Today I was reading a book called What a Son Needs from His Dad by Dr. Michael O’Donnell.  I came across a chapter that actually got my attention called “All Work and No Play”.  It actually got me thinking quite a bit about who I have become.

            Growing up one of my favorite things to do was to play out in my back yard even by myself.  I had an old push-broom handle that served as my wand, scepter, sword, and staff.  With this tool I could vanquish all kinds of evil, never killing, only turning to stone.  I was King of wherever I wanted to be and I would spend hours outside in my little imaginary world or worlds (depending on the day).  Probably very few of my friends knew about this because I didn’t want to look foolish, but, other than the time I spent with my best friend, or even with my sisters, this was often some of my favorite times.
Tasha, Alicia, and I were great explorers and when our family went camping at a place called Johnson Bar there was a natural forest that we would enter and explore for hours at a time.  I don’t remember all of the different things we did, but it was always fun.  Okay, I do have to put in a little note here.  It was always fun until Alicia stepped into an underground hornet nest one summer, that wasn’t so much fun.
Tasha, Milly, and I, and possibly Alicia, had a game we liked to play on our trampoline.  We called it trampoline world.  How we entered into our cars was we had to jump into and out of our cars.   We did this to not only get into our cars, but into whatever we needed to get into.  We would then run around the trampoline just having a great time.  If we were in the house anything would become a great computer, or something that we would just create in our heads.  This entertained and excited us, and even though we had television in the home we still played.
I’m married now, and have 5 children, and I never play with them like I did.  There is this part of me that feels like it would be foolish to play that way, but those are the memories I remember the most.  I’ve become an old fuddy-duddy! Well, I think the time has come to start playing again.  Those are the memories I imagine my children remember as well.  It will take me some time to remember how much fun I use to have, time to not feel so awkward, but I think that is what I need to do to be a father who is not “all work and no play.”

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Our Journey Together Weekly Update #1 January 01 - 10, 2012

            So it seems like just yesterday Jen and I posted our first blog entitled “Our Journey Together”.  However, it has already been a week, and now it is time for us to post our first update.  I think that for me, this has been a decent week.  Spiritually speaking my focus has been fairly good.  I still haven’t been having the quiet time I desire to have on a daily basis, although, from time to time I do manage to get into the word some.

            Some of the strengths of this week though have been the fact that I have began a daily reading plan that should get me through the whole Bible in one year.  The plan I chose is a chronological plan.  How it has worked thus far is I use an application called “You Version” and is available for I-products, and also android products.  It is called the “Reading God’s Story” and was authored by George Guthrie.  This product is nice because this app has an audio feature, and so we have actually been listening to the readings on a daily basis every lunch time, and so the whole family is benefitting from this change.

            There are some things however, that I’m also needing to work on.  I have a quick temper, and therefore I have a tendency to yell when I don’t feel like Jen or the children are listening to me.  In my relationship with Jen this can cause conflict of course, and then I worry about my children seeing me in fear, instead of seeing the love I really do have for them.  Because of this tendency I have decided to try to memorize Proverbs 15:18 which states: “A hot tempered man stirs up conflict, but a man slow to anger calms strife (Holman Christian Standard).” 

            Physically things are going very well.  I’m doing better at least doing my daily body tests, but I still need to do better on regular exercise.  The good thing I have done is I have begun to lower my caloric intake, and through that I have actually lost over 10lbs in the past two months.  I’m very excited to add a few extra notches to the belt, plus I’m already seeing small changes in my blood pressure and pulse.

            I have set myself a goal of losing 7 pounds in the next two months, although I may change that to 10.   This week I see myself needing to be more faithful in regular, 30 minute exercise segments.  I hope to continue on this path of weight loss, and see if I could realistically get at least half way towards my goal of over 80lbs of weight loss by the end of 2012. 

            Spiritually speaking, I am again going to try to focus on being more committed in my goal of having regular quiet time.  I have in fact sent out a request for suggestions as to which book of the Bible I should study for this next year as in-depth as I can go.  Thus far James and 2 Timothy have been suggested, but I’m more than willing for some additional suggestions. 

            Now for Jen’s update:

Good evening my dear friends, I hang my head in shame as I have to tell you this week did not go so well for me.  It started off good, but my depression got the better of me.  I don’t do well with change, and even the prospects of it, which it has been full of both….  I’m not going to go into details of it, but it started with a new routine, and sick little ones that totally hindered my perfectionist’s agenda. 
So, now that I think about it, I didn’t do as badly as I thought, but my depression did get pretty bad. For most of the week I had one or two sick babies that needed me what felt like every! Single! Moment! Which I’m not complaining about, it just makes it hard when I set such high goals for myself and not give myself the grace I truly need, instead of the emotional beatings.  Tomorrow I am really hoping to start getting up earlier and getting in the Word, and at least catching up a little on my Bible reading as I have fallen behind already; also, to spend a few minutes on my Wii.  I once read that if I at least show up, that is an improvement. I know that once I get back into the Word and just try to make sure I am not letting lil miss princess perfectionist get in the way and do the baby steps again, I’ll be on the right road. 
I am sooooooooooo tired of always being tired; I am so tired of the cycle of being too tired to work out and so then vice versa. I am so tired of not fitting in my largest clothes and not being able to find pretty ones because either they are all taken at the stores that I shop or they don’t make them in my size or the cost is astronomical at a reg store because of the darn size.  I am so tired of not being able to use my lap to put Bible on so I can take notes in church.  I am so tired of others, not all, but some, avoiding me because of my weight.  I am tired of being a cranky pants and so I am too focused on myself to be a blessing to others.  This has gotta stop!  So, that’s my update, and I’m stickin to it, lol.  Thank you for sitting through my lil pep talk, if that’s what that was…….

See you next week with the next update.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Importance of Sexual Purity: A Review of Every Single Man’s Battle By Stephen Arterburn, Fred Stoeker and Mike Yorkey

            I have had this book sitting on my shelf for probably five months.  After I received this book, I was wondering why on earth I would bother choosing this book to read.  Then just the previous day, I was talking to a friend of mine about needing to read this book, and I was informed that Stephen Arterburn went through a divorce.  This meant that I was even more hesitant to read a book, because after all, if it didn’t work for him, why read it?  As soon as I read over the introduction I knew I wasn’t giving Mr. Arterburn a fair chance.  I have now read this book, and will share my thoughts with you all.

            Before you read any further I want to put in a warning right here.  This book review is not meant for children.  I will be willingly addressing the issues that Stephen Arterburn, Fred Stoeker, and Mike Yorkey address.  I will also be honest in this review as I see things that I can directly relate to and share my own insights and experiences. In this review, I will be direct but not graphic.

            The backdrop to Every Single Man’s Battle is Stephen Arterburn’s reentry into the dating world. Stephen writes this book to aid fellow brothers in Christ who may be single or recently divorced by challenging them to be men who flee from sexual temptation and pursue integrity. The author writes not from a place of superiority or strength, but to walk alongside men who may be struggling with sexual sin. In a society that devalues marriage, and the marriage bed, and instead advocates for shacking up, Mr. Arterburn in this book provides a helpful defense, and response to the sacredness of sex between one man and one woman in marriage.

            One of the most enjoyable aspects of Every Single Man’s Battle is Stephen, Fred and Mike’s courage in dealing with issues such as masturbation and porn. Many men struggle in silence with these issues but the authors provide helpful answers by highlighting how the point of intimacy is to grow closer together with our spouse not to fulfill our fantasies. On this point Stephen and Fred helpfully teach that when sexual intensity supersedes our sexual intimacy the marriage bed becomes defiled (Arterburn, Stoeker, Yorkey, 25).

Although I was raised in a solid, Biblically based, Christian home, I allowed myself to fall right into sexual temptation many times, and in many different ways.  I participated in pornography, masturbation, and premarital sex. Even after being married for over a decade, I continue to struggle with sexual purity and integrity. Rather than fleeing from sexual sin, I allowed myself to fill my mind with the drug of sex, and sought not my wife, but my fill of adultery.
            The authors in this book do not dance around the issues but press the reader to understand the issues they examine from a biblical worldview. For example in the first two chapters they cover the issue of sex, masturbation, and pornography, as well as accountability. They quote one pastor, Mason, who is in his thirties and single who says: “Single men should not live alone” (28). Chapter two makes the point that all Christian men should have godly male friends who pray with them and hold them accountable to the Word of God as they wage war against the sins of the flesh (Romans 13:11-14).

            In September, I choose not to be accountable in my war against sexual sin, and decided that I didn’t need anyone to help me.      In reflecting on this time in my life, I realized I acted like a fool. At this time, I was blessed with some money coming in from some work that I was doing, and instead of being wise with my money, I gave into my sin and went to a strip club.

At least one of my friends knows about that night where I gave in and chose to sin. On that night I was thinking about calling someone to talk to about my sinful thoughts, but ultimately talked myself out of calling one of my friends and instead gave in fully to my sin. Embracing my sin rather than forsaking my sin that night burned a lot of bridges that I had been working hard to build for a number of years.
            Men need accountability it really is that simple. Men need godly brothers to come along side of us, and to, quite frankly, give us a smack upside the head like Gibbs does to his fellow-team members in the original NCIS show. The Christian life is not a war we can engage in on our own. Men need to rise up and link arms with our brothers, and keep fighting.  Some people may say, “It was only a strip club”, but that strip club took my thoughts off the LORD, off my wife, and put them on an idol.  For a moment I chose to love my sin more then I love my Savior. As a result of this occurring, I have resolved in my heart to no more love my sin but to genuinely turn from my sin to Jesus Christ.  I now have godly brothers whom I will call, men who will hold me accountable, and smack me upside the head if I screw up again.  I’m very blessed by these brothers, these comrades! 

            Every Single Man’s Battle is only three chapters plus an introduction covering pages 6-54.  The remaining 129pages are a study guide for Every Man’s Battle which serves as an eight week study.  Even though this turned out more to be a Study then a book, the value of this book is great.  

            I rate this book as a must read for every Man, married or not!  The topics covered will address some topics that men have often preferred to keep secret.   I will actually be purchasing a copy of Every Man’s Battle in the near future with the intention of using this study guide as a spring board, not only for my own use, but one I plan to recommend to the men of my Church as well. 

            Men the battle for our integrity and our sexual purity is a must win battle, and one we cannot escape.  The Gospel provides the foundational reason why as men we can overcome sexual sin and be pure. Jesus died to give sinners new life, and as men who are redeemed through the blood of Jesus, and adopted as His sons, we have the ability through the empowering work of the Holy Spirit to put sin to death and put on the Lord Jesus Christ. As men we desperately need to rise up to the challenge to love our wives as Christ loves the Church, and be men of integrity.  Men love the Lord Jesus Christ with all their heart, soul, and mind!  Let us fight this battle together!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Our Journey Together: 10 Years of Ups and Downs

            To many of you this is going to be a totally different side of Jen and me then you have seen before.  We are going to social media not only to be hip, but to really reach out to our friends and family for hope and encouragement.  This weekly update is something that we feel is necessary, but also beneficial not only to us, but to others who might be struggling with similar issues. 

            On Sept. 01, 2011 Jen and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary.  Believe it or not, this is quite an accomplishment for us as any number of things could have split us apart over the years, especially my struggles which I’ve been very willing to share, and will continue to share in the blog.  We cannot and would not attribute our success thus far to anything but Christ.  The truth of the matter is that it is only through and because of Christ that we have managed to celebrate 10 years.  We have been blessed by family members who have prayed for us, and friends who have encouraged us through some very dark times.  In fact for people who know our story, they know that if Christ can keep us together, then He can certainly keep anyone else together.

            So why are Jen and I getting ready to share more than just our faith, but also our physical and spiritual struggles as well? Is it in the hopes that we will generate some more readers? Is it hoping that people will look at us and pat us on the back? In all honesty I hope none of these explanations are the reason, however, we are human beings, and just maybe our story will be of interest that it will generate readership.  However, this is not our main reason I feel.  Proverbs 27:17 says: “Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.  New American Standard Bible (N.A.S.B). We both truly believe that it is our hope that these posts will serve as an encouragement for us, and that you all will also join us in encouragement.  We’ll start with Jen first.
To tell you the truth it has taken me a week to get the courage up to start writing this.  Even now I feel the urge to get up and “run.” I have tried losing weight for many years and it has yet to truly accomplish anything.  I’m not going try and put on rosy glasses as I tell you what my problem is, as I used to in hopes that someone who has gone or is going through the same issue.  My weight at the time of this picture was 259.

Jen at Weigh In
            I am an emotional eater, and I have been since I was a child.  I also have dealt with depression and sometimes severe depression.  Those who have dealt with depression know what a cycle it can become.  I start eating because I’m feeling down, or more often angry and then I get angry or depressed because of the sugar crash I’m on or just the simple fact that I know that I have just sinned by going to food for my comfort or filling my face because it has been an outlet for my anger and I just want to get revenge with whomever is hurting me, which is in reality myself.  So the cycle begins……

            The emotional eating is just a symptom of a bigger problem that I have only really started to see/realize.  I live very emotionally and find myself living in my anger and depression for the silliest reasons.  I have neglected to go to my Heavenly Father to let Him cleanse my thoughts, feelings, emotions, and overall mind. I have also neglected to go to the Word to be renewed.  Even though I KNOW the Truth about my calling, I KNOW the Truth about my blessed life I have unfortunately believed the lies of Satan for so long that they plague me often.  The most frequent lies are: 1. I am ugly 2. I will always be ugly 3. No one likes me 4.  I threw my life away when I quit school to marry and start a family 5. That I can’t handle my life, it is too crazy, busy, loud, and includes 9 too many kids!  6. Life isn’t fair, and it should be. 

            As I read those lies I shake my head in amazement at how ridiculous I can be, throwing hissy fits over things that I can’t change, nor would if I were in my right mind because I know the Lord is using every circumstance to draw me ever closer to Him and to mold me into His image. 

            My hope and prayer is that this time I will make changes that last. No, I mean that I let the Lord work in my heart changes that last a life time… There are so many things on my “To Change” list, but for now I have a few things that I am going to truly try to make habits: 1. To be in the Word daily, I am going to even try a reading plan to go along with the Bible Studies that I will desperately try to keep up with 2. To exercise daily and eat healthier 3. To speak softer  to my children. 

            With my personality, I will admit that I am looking for encouragement and kind yet firm rebuke when I’m not walking the walk.  Heck, I’m probably at my highest weight yet again, so it can’t get any worse than that as long as I’m trying, right? Hopefully next year I’ll have an after pic that looks amazing, and I finally won’t be embarrassed to do a family picture that includes myself.  Now to hand it over to Paul.
Paul at Weigh In

This strapping young man is me, Paul Emery, at a whopping 278lbs.  Yeah, that is quite the gut I’m sporting there huh? The truth of the matter is every time I get on a scale and see my weight I say, “I don’t feel that fat”.  As they always say though, a picture speaks a thousand words!

My physical fitness hasn’t been the only issue though this year.  The truth of the matter is although there have been some great spiritual things going on in my life over the past two years, there is still a lot of baggage and junk that I really need to let go of in my life.  Right now I’m feeling pretty good spiritually, however it was only three months ago that I again fell into a constant sin struggle I have in regards to sexual purity.

            I John 1:6-7 are a couple of verses that I regularly find myself meditating on when I am spiritually healthy.  “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin (N.A.S.B).”  Really this section all the way from verse 5 to verse 10 has brought about a Spiritual Wakefulness and a return of zeal in my faith that I haven’t experienced in over a decade.  Even though I have fallen into sin, I refuse to dwell there! 

            My physical fitness has many contributing factors.  I’m not near as active as I was while in High School where I was involved in many different activities and extra-curricular events.  Even though I don’t burn near as many calories as I once did, I have not cut back on my calories as I should in order to better suit my current physical activity level.  I’m currently working two jobs, although I did have a season of about two months where I was working three, but two of the jobs were desk type jobs.  My other problem is I love to eat, and I won’t tell myself, NO!  This of course plays into the physical and the spiritual aspects of my life at present. 

            I’ve been told that the recommended weight for my stature is 177lbs.  Do I really see myself getting down to this level? No, not really; however, I do believe that I could easily get down and maintain a weight of 200lbs if I were to truly commit and stick to it.  So what is my plan of action to begin working towards this goal? I am going to commit to daily exercise at least 5 days a week at no less than 30 min. a day.  Putting this to pen and paper is not necessarily going to mean it happens, so I’m asking you all to encourage me as I know many of you will.  I am also going to commit to limiting my caloric intake.  I’ve been told 1500 calories would be a sufficient method of encouraging weight loss, so I will try to stick to no more than 1700 calories a day with the goal of only taking in 1500 calories.

            Spiritually speaking there are also some goals I need to set.  I’m hereby committing to partaking in at least 30 minutes to preferably an hour of quiet time on a daily basis.  This commitment is going to be a 365 day commitment, and not one that I should bow out of easily.  I also am going to commit to becoming more involved in a ministry inside of my church as well as a ministry outside as well.  To those of you who are familiar with American Family Radio this is similar to the seven commitments that Matt Friedeman encourages people who want to be members of the “in the fight” club.   

We’ll be posting an update next week as we begin this process.  God bless.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

My First Book Review: "If You Take a Mouse to School" by Elizabeth A. Emery

          First thing first is I, Paul, am transcribing this review to be put on the family blog.  Elizabeth asked me the other day if she could write a book review, and so I wanted to encourage her to do so.  She read me this story today, and I did ask a few questions to get her thinking.  Other then the questions, the words that will be in this review is mostly Elizabeth’s and I’m so very proud that she wants to do these kinds of things.

          We’ll start with the questions and her answers.

1)    Who are the main characters? The boy and a mouse.
2)    What did you like the most about the story?  The mouse building furniture for his house out of clay.
3)    Was it easy to read? Not exactly.  There were some easy parts and some hard pats to the words.
4)    What did this book help teach? This book helped teach contractions which are two words put together.

I really liked this book.  I would encourage my friends to read it.  This book was a lot of fun to read.  “If You Take a Mouse to School” by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond is a part of a series of books.  We received this series from our Moppie two Christmas’ ago.  I read this book to my daddy on January 01, 2012.  I’m going to tell my pastor, Scot Wall of Magnolia Bible Church, about this book.  J