All posts in Relationships

Agree to Disagree


Picking up the Pieces

Whoever you are planning on voting for tomorrow, most of us can sympathize with how this little girl was feeling:

There is light at the end of the tunnel! Tomorrow we vote and hopefully by Wednesday we will know who the next President of the United States will be. (I say hopefully because the polls have the race so close we may be in for a very long tabulating process)

There is a problem that has begun to plague the relational landscape in our country, and it has been brought into sharp contrast by this election: We have forgotten how to agree to disagree. We either don’t engage in conversations that may be harrowing, and so avoid the conflict, or we engage and get so passionate that we destroy whatever relationship was there in the first place.

I have seen far too many adults who allowed disagreements to become permanent wedges that drove people apart, because they couldn’t agree to disagree. A recent Rasmussen poll reported that 27% of people reported that this election cycle had negatively affected a relationship with a friend or family member. It has pitted brother against brother, father against son, Facebook friend against Facebook friend.

How do we learn to have civil discourse, disagree, and still be friends? Here are a few thoughts to help patch those relational wounds that may have been caused in time to have Thanksgiving dinner together without throwing a drumstick at the other person:
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Do It Anyway!


It was ten years ago, and my wife and I in concert with others who cared for him were trying to help a young man come out of drug addiction. We let him stay with us for a short while and helped him find a job. We thought things were looking up. My wife and I had an old car that we were planning on selling and while we knew we could make more money selling it to someone else, we offered it to him and at large discount. He gave us a downpayment and we agreed to a payment plan.

That was on a Wednesday. Two nights later we were awoken in the middle of the night by our buzzer. (We lived in an apartment building.) The stern voice on the other end of the line identified himself as a police officer and demanded to come up. When he got up the stairs he asked me if I still owned that car. In my sleep deprived state I said yes, and then remembered that no, we had sold the car two days before.

It turned out that the young man we had sold the car to had used it to steal gas. I had trusted him to transfer the title, something he had not done and so the car was traced back to me.

After explaining to the officer what had happened, and showing him the bill of sale we had drawn up he left.

And we were left feeling used.
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Did You Hear I Sing Backup for Bieber?


A few weeks ago Janelle and I had the opportunity to spend a few days in St. Petersburg, Florida. She was there for work, but I was there for play. I read and wrote and sat by the pool. It was amazing.

The conference went through Sunday, however I had to come back a day earlier than my wife to be at Rivertree for Sunday morning. Because we didn’t need a car while we were in Florida we used a ride service to get to and from the airport. It was cheaper than renting a car and cheaper than taking a taxi, not to mention it was fun to have someone waiting with a car for us when we landed.

On that Saturday, they were supposed to send what they called a “sedan” for me. We had a sedan for the ride to the hotel when we arrived. It had been in a Cadillac. Definitely not bad, and I was expecting something similar for the return trip. When the driver arrived he said nonchalantly, “I’ve got the limo today.”

The what?

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You are an Uppleva


Our family got a new TV last month. Up until then we had a 32” behemoth in the living room that weighed as much as I do.

My friends made fun of me for it.

“What that huge box doing behind your tv?” they would ask.

I know, my friends are hilarious.

Well, we took some of our tax return this year and decided it was time for a new TV.

When you watch TV, you’re not thinking about everything that goes into your experience.  There are armies of people who make the programing, choose the programing, who make the components for the tvs and put those components together. When we sit down after a long day with a bag of chips and a remote to relax we are experiencing the fruits of thousands of hours of labor.

There is a lot more to TV than meets the eye. Furniture maker Ikea, known for selling items with “some assembly required” recently announced that they were releasing a TV of their own. Conan O’Brien had some fun at their expense, creating this infomercial:

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844 People Die, Three Years After Boat Sank


This is the second part of a two part series exploring the sinking of the Titanic. Previously I asked the question: Did Reckless Living sink the Titanic?

Today I want to explore a little known footnote about the Titanic disaster, and some things that we can learn from it. We all know that the Titanic sunk almost exactly 100 years ago. Tragically, 1,517 people lost their lives. That was on April 15, 1912.

But did you know that 844 more people died three years later as a result of the sinking of the Titanic?
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The Tale of Two Cobblers


The two brothers grew up in the early 1900’s in a small town outside of Nuremburg, Germany. Their father worked in a shoe factory and when Rudolf, the older of the brothers, graduated he followed his father into the same factory.

His brother, Adolf, (no – not that Adolf), began producing shoes in their mother’s laundry. He got good at it. So good that before the 1936 Olympic games he drove to the Olympic village and convinced Jesse Owens to use them. Owens won his four gold medals with Adolf’s shoes on his feet and suddenly the young shoemaker from Germany became world-renowned. Demand for his shoes exploded and his brother Rudolf quit his job and began working with Adolf. Together they formed the Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory.

Most likely you’ve never heard of the Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory. But I guarantee that you know of, and most likely have worn, shoes made by one of the brothers. You see their business flourished until WWII. With the rise of fascism in their homeland they began to drift apart when Rudolf fell in step with the Nazi party. The rift grew deeper until an Allied bomb raid in 1943 drove a final wedge in between them.
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Worth the wax?

Worth the Wax

“Is it worth the wax?”

In the days before electricity, avid readers would ask each other this peculiar question. “Is it worth the wax?” Anyone who has ever been caught up in a good book well into the time most people are asleep will relate. Before there were beside lamps and lights built into e-reader covers there were candles and lamps. If someone was going to read at night it was going to cost them the wax in their candle, hence the question, “Is it worth the wax?” If the book was good, it was worth the wax. If it was bad, save the wax for something more worthy.

A few years ago I was at a writers conference where Leonard Sweet was speaking. He told us this bit of historical trivia. And then he said something this struck me. He said that he believes that every book is worth the wax. He said no matter how poorly written, everyone has something to say that is worth hearing. You may need to plow through pages of pedantry, but the payoff is always there.

This week this phrase has been stuck in my mind, but not as it relates to books. I believe the same is true of people.

Everyone is worth the wax.

When is the last time you truly sat in a room with someone? I don’t mean you shared the same air, but that you shared the same conversations. Not just the same physical space, but the same mental space as well. When was the last time you intentionally expended wax on another person?

Let me take the question one-step further: when was the last time you had a conversation with someone you didn’t yet know? When was the last time you intentionally forged a new relationship?

A few years ago my wife and I were at a Valentines banquet. There was only one other couple there who were not card-carrying members of AARP. In fact, they looked to be about our age. We made a few comments to each other over the course of the evening and ended up sitting at their table for a while. It turned out they lived in our neighborhood, just a few houses down. It was the beginning of a long-term friendship that we still have to this day even though they have moved out of the neighborhood.

New relationships aren’t as easy as old ones. They take more wax to get going. But they are worth it.

Let me ask one more question, when was the last time you intentionally had a conversation with someone you didn’t like that well?

A strange thing happens when you get to know those people in your life that you don’t like that much. You tend to not like them less. I read a quote once that stuck with me (for the life of me I can’t find it): “The moment you discover where your enemy bleeds is the moment they cease to be your enemy.” Often I’ve found that the people who are most difficult in my life are facing extraordinary obstacles or pain that have shaped them into the person they are. Engaging with another persons struggle tends to melt frustration into a puddle of understanding.

Are there relationships in your life that you are intentionally expending wax on? Maybe there are relationships that you decided weren’t worth the wax. Maybe it’s time to stop ducking those calls or avoiding them in Walmart and have coffee.

Everyone is worth the wax.


Falling On My Butt


You’ve seen the Peanuts cartoon. Lucy coaxes Charlie Brown to try to kick a football. Charlie Brown steps back, lines up, and ends up on his backside.

This gag first appeared in a Peanuts cartoon in 1952, and nearly 60 years later the gag still makes us giggle.

This mental picture is how I often feel about my relationship with the Detroit Lions. Every fall I try to temper my expectations, but somehow they get away from me. Maybe it will be a good preseason game, or a new player who seems to be making a difference. Maybe our star quarterback is finally healthy. Whatever the reason every fall I find myself in Charlie Brown’s shoes, backing up to kick a football that I know has a good chance of not being there when I need it.

When asked why I’m a Lions fan the easy answer is that it’s my parent’s fault. They gave birth to me and raised me in Michigan. I have always has a sense of home state solidarity. I have a friend whose mother was Canadian. She drove across the border to the US to have her baby here so her child would be a US citizen. The least my parents could have done for me was drive me to a state with a good football team to give birth to me.  Apparently they were too short sighted for this. And so, every year just when I get up the gumption to get excited about my football team again, the ball is pulled away and I land on my butt.
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