Tag Archives: Heart

Change Your Heart Before You Change Your Profession

Let’s take a look at two men on the job. One is a teacher and a coach at a local high school. He feels purposeful and fulfilled most days on the job. He looks forward to seeing young minds develop and being a part of the broader school community. His work makes sense to him. Over the years as he has taught, his students return to see him and he is thankful for how they have each paved their way into college and careers. He has helped instill a love of learning and curiosity into countless students.

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Marriage Advice — Tips on Tone

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“We are not won by arguments that we can analyze, but by tone and temper; by the manner, which is the man himself” ~ Louis D. Brandeis

There’s an old phrase that couples use when something one partner says starts an argument — “it’s not what you said, it’s how you said it.”   At first pass, there may be some truth to it as far as marital success is concerned. A new study from researchers at USC & the University of Utah found that your tone of voice may impact the success or failure of your marriage, according to a press release. The study’s findings show that how couples talk to each other about their emotions can affect the way partners feel in the relationship, according to the press release.  Don’t believe me? Tell your wife how much you love her but instead of a kind voice, use a sarcastic tone. Don’t do that! Never do that. But you get the picture. It totally changes the meaning of what you are saying just by your tone. What you say is not the only thing that matters; it’s critical how you say it.

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Miles and Miles of Heart

We’re getting close to the end of The Replacements.  The season has gone on and this team of losers, rejects and has-beens learned to play well together.  We get to the last game of the season, with the playoffs on the line, and the star quarterback decides to return to the team.  He is an arrogant, condescending jerk and the team falls apart in the first half.  At halftime, the coach is asked what it will take to get back in the game.  He responds, “You’ve got to have heart.  Miles and miles of heart.”  Keanu appears in the locker room, the team rallies around him and they win the game in dramatic fashion.  They run off the field as the closing song plays.  “We can be heroes, just for one day.” 

Proving that all you need to win the game, get the girl and be the hero is to have “miles and miles of heart.”

But what does that mean?  We’ve got lots of phrases about the heart.  You see a guy and say “He’s got no heart,” or “My heart’s not in it.”  What does it look like to “have heart” or “lose heart?”

Plenty of men have lost their heart.  They might show up, but they aren’t present.  At dinner, they eat with their family but spend the whole time on the phone or watching TV.  They go to work, go home, go to bed.  Rinse and repeat the next day.  Over and over.  These men are checked out, empty shells of who they once wanted to be.

Sometimes, they try to fill the void in their chest with anything they can—alcohol, drugs, work, women, even fantasy football and video games.  While it doesn’t give them what they are looking for, at least it covers it up so no one else can see they have lost heart.  Like hanging a picture over the hole you punched in the wall, it doesn’t fix the problem, just covers it up.

So many of us have lost heart in some area.  We had great dreams and desires as young men, and life happened.  Being married wasn’t as easy as we thought, especially once kids came along.  Doing the same job, day after day, without meaning, without purpose takes its toll.  As duty bound men, we put our heads down and do what has to be done.  Usually, that involves killing our dreams and desires, and over time we lose our hearts.

We were meant to be much more than breadwinners, bacon bringers, and bill payers.  We see men who have miles and miles of heart, and we want that.  But when we look around us at all the “stuff”—expectations, demands, and duties—we are overwhelmed.  How can we get our hearts back?

The first step, as they say, is admitting we have a problem.  Realizing our hearts are dead.  Or at least sick.  We aren’t where we would like to be, and we want to do something about it.  But what?

Zig Ziglar said, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”  Sometime over this next week, I would encourage you to sit down and write out what it is you want to see in different areas of your life.  Start with yourself and what sort of man you want to be.  Then expand your vision to your marriage, your children, your friends, work, calling and dreams.  Be as clear as you can and dream as big as you want.  If you don’t know what it looks like to have heart, you won’t know how to get there.  This week, start making your map.

About the Author

Paul McDonald is a writer who shares the story of God’s victory in his life at The Original PMcD.  He lives in Charlotte with his wife, who have four children between them.  He loves corny comedies and knows way too many movie quotes.

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Quicksand

Last week, I introduced you to my guilty pleasure, The Replacements.  The Sentinels, the team Gene Hackman’s character Jimmy coaches, came up just short of a win in their first game.  His quarterback, Shane Falco (played by Keanu Reeves) called a run instead of trying to pass it.  He was scared to have the ball in a critical situation.  Leadership is lacking.

At the next team meeting, Jimmy addresses the problem. “A real man admits his fears.”  He asks the group to share what they are afraid of.  After delving into the fear of different insects, Shane offers up his fear—quicksand.  This gets some confused looks and raised eyebrows.  Shane explains,

“You’re playing, and you think everything is going fine.  Then one thing goes wrong.  And then another.  And another.  You try to fight back, but the harder you fight, the deeper you sink.  Until you can’t move…you can’t breathe…because you’re in over your head.  Like quicksand.”

Shane was talking about a football game, but I experience the quicksand all the time.  My wife and I have been out on a date, and I said something she took the wrong way.  She responded to the hurt and went into attack mode.  I retaliated and suddenly a beautiful date night became a war zone.  How did we get here?

It might happen at work.  I was a manager as we went through a fairly unpopular change.  Things were said, actions misunderstood.  The harder I tried to make it work, the worse the situation became.  A few months later, I was asked to find another position.  What just happened?

As Ron Burgundy would say, “Boy, that escalated quickly!”

No one has avoided the quicksand.  Maybe you were lucky enough to see what was happening and escaped before it pulled you under.  Or maybe not.  Your marriage ended in divorce.  Your kids won’t talk to you anymore.  Your car broke down; kids got sick, you couldn’t pay for it all, and you ended up in the street.  Maybe the quicksand looks like work and success, and you find yourself overwhelmed with things to do and unable to tend to the things that matter.  Like Shane, once you experience enough quicksand, what you want and what you truly desire becomes unimportant, and your dreams die.  Your heart dies.

And that’s really what the movie is about—how Shane got his heart back.  I believe every man can relate to Shane.  We have grown to accept what the quicksand has given us.  We’ve learned it’s better to do it this way.  It’s safer.  You can’t suffocate if you’re already dead inside.

And like Shane, we can get our hearts back.  We can awaken our dreams and challenge the quicksand we will encounter.  We can find meaning and purpose in our lives, and awaken our hearts once again.  So that when we stumble into the quicksand, our hearts won’t die in the struggle. 

Practice:  As Jimmy said, “A real man admits his fears.”  We can’t move on until we identify the quicksand in our lives.  Where do you currently feel in over your head and suffocated?  How have you escaped it in your past?  What dreams have died in the quicksand?

About the Author

Paul McDonald is a writer who shares the story of God’s victory in his life at The Original PMcD.  He lives in Charlotte with his wife, who have four children between them.  He loves corny comedies and knows way too many movie quotes.

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Show Him Some Love: Send Postcards

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Sometimes the hardest conversation to start is with the person who means the most to me. When I am in the grocery line, I can carry on mindless small talk conversations with total strangers. But when it feels like the stakes are high, I can invest lots of emotional energy in thinking about building the relationship, but my additional efforts seem to lead to a microscopic result.

In our relationship, my dad was not exactly a phone call talker. He spent lots of time on the phone for his job. So, I guess I can understand why having long heart-to-heart conversations over the phone were difficult for him. I think our average phone call lasted a mere 60 seconds.

Talking in person didn’t always go as well as I would hope, either. When there was a group around, it was hard to feel like we were really in sync. He was the life of the party, with the kind of contagious deep belly laugh that you could hear from two blocks away. Literally. On the other hand, I am a confirmed melancholic, preferring long and deep conversational connection with one or two people at a time.

But when we were alone together, the conversation wasn’t always the easiest either. Over the years, it felt as if we got better at finding streams of conversation that kept us both engaged. But it still felt like a challenge when I was focused on deliberate communication with depth, and he leaned toward light conversation with humor.

This is how I found the value of postcards. When I was a young dad, I experienced a moral bankruptcy and walked out on my wife and two very young children. When I split up the family, we ended up more than 1500 miles away.  Although I was committed to staying in a relationship with my kids, we could only spend time together every few months. And they were too young to engage in much of a conversation over the phone.

One of the books I read about being a dad from a distance recommended doing the postcard thing. They are colorful, easy to carry, easy to send, they don’t create an expectation of long and detailed communication, and they can be collected to serve as a method to connect with the heart over the long term. I tried it.

Whenever I was traveling, I stocked up on postcards from wherever I was. When I saw a series that could be of interest, I bought it: bears, US States, women in science, you name it. I rarely paid more than 50 cents per card, and because I was buying in bulk, I routinely could find them for 20 or 25 cents each. By the time I threw in the stamp, I was always out less than $1 to purchase and send the card. Then it just came down to writing and sending them—once a week, or even more frequently if I was traveling.

How did it go over? I had a few days with the kids when they were six and seven. They brought a lunch box with them that was FILLED with postcards. They told me that was only some of the collection they had saved at home.

Since I had such great success with the kids, I decided to try the same with my dad. Even though we had lived in the same city for the past 18 years, I periodically sent postcards to him.  My efforts intensified as he got closer to the end of his life.

Would you guess that they made a difference? Virtually every week I heard from either my mom or my dad about the postcard I had sent.

If technology has advanced so far these days, why send postcards? With the proliferation of email and the explosion of texting, why take the extra time to purchase, handwrite, find a stamp, and send a message in such an archaic way? In my opinion, each of these so-called barriers only increases the unique value of doing it. In fact, the handwritten aspect could be the most critical factor. Other than face-to-face conversation, I find it to be the most personal form of communication. Whether or not it’s true, it feels closer to the heart than emails or texts.

It’s super easy to get started, and it’s so inexpensive. Next time you see inexpensive postcards for sale, pick up a few. Then get to the Post Office and pre-stamp them. You can even go through and pre-address them all at once. The hard part is done. Then, just put it on your calendar—so you pump it out the same time each week—pop it in the mail, and you are finished.

Tim Truesdale is a son, brother, and father of 4 who is still figuring it out. Want to join him on the journey? Check out his blog entries or subscribe for periodic content like this here. Be sure to check out practical ways to be an honorable father by downloading the UNCOMMEN app at uncommen.org.

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Check out the Honor Your Father campaign for more inspirational stories and ideas on how to honor your dad at honoryourfathertoday.com.

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