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Friday, January 16, 2015

28,258 People Are NOT Reading this Right Now

30% of the internet industry is pornography.

Every second $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography.

Right now 28,258 internet users are viewing pornography. I live in a town of 6,000 people. That means that at this moment there are nearly six times as many people viewing pornography online than live in my entire town!

To learn more visit InternetSafety101.org.

Pornography use and addiction have reached epidemic proportions. Most people have either struggled with it themselves or know someone close to them that either has or currently is struggling with pornography.

Jen and Craig Ferguson struggled with Craig's addiction which at its height threatened to destroy their marriage. Together they were able to overcome his addiction and saved their marriage and wrote a book about their experience and what they learned.

The book is titled "Pure Eyes, Clean Heart" and is available for purchase on Amazon.com.

I was privileged recently to be able to ask them a few questions about their marriage and their experiences and I am honored to share their wisdom with you today.

Interview with Jen and Craig Ferguson

How long have you been married?
We’ve been married 14.5 years.

How did you and your husband meet?
We met at church because we were both working with our church youth group. Fun fact about us? We got engaged 11 days after we started dating. But, we did wait 2 years to get married. Four months of that time we were an ocean apart when I was studying abroad in Denmark. We got very good at communicating via email and I think we grew closer as a result. Sometimes there is so much you want to say, but it’s hard to speak it face-to-face.

What has been the most difficult thing for you to learn in your marriage?
Jen: For me, the most difficult thing I had to learn was that I could not force Craig to do anything or be anything. This meant I had to learn to wait to see what God would do, both in Craig and in me, to bring reconciliation, redemption, trust, and healing. In the beginning of our marriage, I thought Craig should just do what I told him to do because clearly I was right. But all this did was make him want to rebel, whether it was good advice or not. Parenting my spouse was not the way God was going to use to deliver Craig from porn addiction. In fact, it was through God’s healing in Craig’s life that He showed me how and why I needed healing from being controlling.

Craig: That I’m not independent anymore. There are other people in my life that are, if not more, important than myself. I had to shift my thoughts and desires to incorporate the feelings and desires of my family. That’s hard for a lot of folks and it’s a sacrifice that everyone in the family unit has to perform in order for the family unit to work properly. I was by myself for several years before we were married. It caused some friction at the beginning. For example, Jen would want me to go to bed with her, but I wanted to use late night time as “free time.” I had to learn to give and take, just as she did.

What one piece of advice would you give a couple married for one month? Why?
Start off talking about the hard things. Even if it’s uncomfortable, even if you don’t know how to navigate the conversation, even if you’ve never shared it with anyone else. The enemy loves to toy with our secrets and use them to drive spouses apart. The more practice you have discussing hard topics, the more you will desire to keep things in the light.

If you had the chance to ask any question, what one question would you ask a couple that has been married for 60 years? Why would you ask that question? What do you think the answer would be?
Craig: I’d ask “What’s the best advice you can give newly married couples." Chances are whatever they say can be applied to any couple regardless of how long they’ve been married. I think they’d say this: Laugh often, forgive always, love until the very end.

Jen: I’d ask, “What’s the the biggest thing you did to keep the love alive?” I’d ask that because I think Craig and I are guilty of getting into ruts and routines and we lose sight of what first ignited our passion for each other. I think they’d answer, “Don’t be afraid to try something new."

Does your blog get in the way of your marriage/family? If so, how?
Jen: I don’t think the blog gets in the way as much as the book marketing did. I’m a type-A personality with a lot of drive. I did a lot of extra things to promote the book that God didn’t actually require me to do. Craig was instrumental in helping me see that I was working way too hard and that it was affecting our family life in a negative way. We’ve both grown to learn how to point out potential pitfalls in each other in a positive way instead of being nagging or disrespectful.



A big thank you again to Jen and Craig!! And don't forget to check out their book, "Pure Eyes, Clean Heart". By the way, thank you for not being one of the 28,258.

Monday, January 5, 2015

How to Transform Time With Your Family

Now that the holidays are over for this year I've been reflecting on holiday traditions and practices and how they relate to families and marriages. What are some of the things that I've observed?


Well, for one thing, holidays are a time for family to be together. Generally, children will be home with their parents; even grown children often travel great distances to be home. My younger brother, who's in his mid twenties, still flies home every Christmas to be with with my parents and siblings.

My almost youngest sister, who's also in her mid twenties and and is married, flew home with her husband to be with with my parents and family for Christmas this year.

It's interesting how we feel this draw to go home and to be with family on the holidays. It is probably the oldest and most widely practiced holiday tradition.

But one of the things that I have found as I have spent time with family is that it seems to be almost forced togetherness. Often we feel somewhat obligated to be with one another, especially if family is nearby.

You know you're supposed to spend the holidays with family and so you do and you plan to and afterward you think "when can I spend time with my family again?"

But the question is: what did you actually accomplish other than being physically co-located? What is the purpose of spending time together as families on holidays? Why do we do it?

I think the answer is pretty simple: to get closer to our families and nurture the bonds of love that bind us together as a family. We do that by building memories and experiences with each other that enrich and enhance our relationships with one another.

Getting together with our families during the holidays and spending time together is supposed to facilitate the creation of these memories and experiences. It should be special time that is set apart where there isn't anything or anyone keeping us from building them.


There's no reason and nothing preventing my family from getting together at anytime of the year. If we wanted to get together on August 13th (instead of December 25th) we could. And if we wanted to choose March 27th there wouldn't be anything that would stop us.

So, why do we do so during the holidays? Again, I believe that the reason is to build and strengthen family relationships. And during the holidays we couple family time with religious observance and celebration. We are together in our faith as well as physically.

To recap: we get together with our families to spend time together strengthening our relationships.

But what do we do with that time? What are we doing when we're physically together?
For the most part, most of us eat. And, at least on Christmas, we exchange gifts. We even sing songs together and share stories and drink eggnog on Christmas; and we have Turkey and pie on Thanksgiving. But what should we be doing? Is eating enough?

One of my favorite things that we do when my wife and I get together with with her family is play the game Catch Phrase. Cami's youngest sister LOVES the game Catch Phrase. She makes us play this game almost every time we get together. 

The best part about playing this game with my wife's family is it makes memories, things are said and done that we remember and laugh about for years afterward. I'll never forget the time that we thought my sister in law said that my wife's father had breast implants. Hilarious!

Another time my sister-in-law, again she LOVES this game and gets sooo excited to play it, threw the Catch Phrase unit at the person next to her each turn. As soon as the answer was correct she would literally throw it at the next person. I think my brother in law had a bruise from from one of these times when it hit him squarely in the chest.


The moral of this little story is that as we spend time together we're making memories, we're getting to know each other better, and showing that we love one another and strengthening that love and friendship through common experience. 

Relationships are built and strengthened through shared experiences. When shared experiences are fun, when they make us laugh, when they make us cry, and especially when they're difficult they strengthen relationships. They give us common ground with which we can better relate to one another. 

So the question remains, what should we be doing and how should we be spending our time with our families, especially during the holidays? We should be developing shared experiences! 

Let's have some fun, let's play a game, in fact, at your next family gathering, whenever that may be, I invite you to play Catch Phrase. Play it with vigor, play it with excitement, play it like my sister-in-law plays it: frantically. 

Let's build shared experiences. Let's develop shared memories. That's what the holidays are for, that is why it's a tradition that we spend time with our families on the holidays.

What do you do when you're with family? Let me know in the comments. Happy January!

Friday, January 2, 2015

How Many People Do You Need to Kiss?

Curiosity killed the cat.

When I was a kid I used to think this meant that curiosity was a bad thing. I am a naturally curious person and so I was confused how wanting to know more and gain a better understanding of the world was a bad thing.

In high school I signed up for a chemistry course. I remember my teacher get exasperated with the number of times I would raise my hand.

One time, as she introduced a new concept my hand shot up and, as it did, she turned toward me and said "I prepared my lesson plan just for you. I knew you would ask 'why?' so I'm ready for you."

I don't remember the concept we discussed that day or her explanation of why but I'll never forget how she looked me in the eye ready to confront my curiosity head-on. It was awesome.

Today I strongly promote the character trait of curiosity in my sons. I want them to ask "why?" (despite how frustrating it can be, as any parent of a four year old knows!). I want them to learn and grow and understand the world around them.

But that wonderful curiosity also needs to be tempered by another saying "moderation in all things."

It is rampant, unchecked, and misdirected curiosity that will most certainly kill the cat.

Those that have overcome the addiction of pornography know that curiosity can destroy.

I once heard of a prominent religious leader that, many years ago, announced in a large gathering of people that he might be an alcoholic. The room went silent and all eyes were focused on this man. Those in the crowd couldn't believe their ears. He then said "but I'll never know, because I'll never touch a drop of alcohol."

I'll admit, I've never drank alcohol. I don't believe that alcohol was meant for man but I'll also admit that I'm perennially curious about what alcohol tastes like. I love cheese and I've heard that with wine it's even better. But I'll never know...because I might be an alcoholic too.


Now we should probably bring this topic back to marriage (since that is what this blog is about). Last week one of our young, single friends was talking about her relationship with her long time boyfriend. He's living in the western United States right now serving a church service mission and will be gone for another year.

During the conversation our friend mentioned that she was her boyfriend's first kiss and that when he completes his missionary service she would like him to date around a little bit and kiss some other girls.

A little surprised (she had just told us how much she loves him and was looking forward to marrying the boy) I inquired why. It was simple, she didn't want him to be curious five or ten years into their marriage about what kissing another girl was like.
My follow up: "Okay. So how many girls do you want him to have sex with before you get married?"
Appalled she replied: "NONE!"
Me: "Why not?"
Her: "Because sex is special and sacred. I don't want him to share himself with anyone else." (they are choosing to wait until after they are married)
Me: "Aren't you worried about him being curious about other women sometime into your marriage?"
Silence.
Me: "So how many people does he need to kiss before he won't be curious? How many people does he need to have sex with? At point will he never be curious again?" 
The conversation quickly changed direction and I found that I was no longer a participant.

The point that I was trying to drive home is that while being curious perhaps can't be helped, indulging in curiosity is most certainly a choice. And, depending on the curiosity, choosing to indulge can be highly destructive.

Prior experience, or lack thereof, doesn't dictate the happiness or satisfaction you'll find in your marriage. Your self-control, commitment, and desire for a happy marriage make all the difference.


There are thousands of happily married couples, perhaps even tens of thousands, that never even kissed another person until their wedding ceremony. Tens of millions of people marry never having had sexual relations and they are wonderfully happy (my wife and I are two of them!).

Indulging in the wrong curiosities, such as pornography and adultery (both physical and emotional), will undermine the trust in your marriage. Curiosity does not justify infidelity of any kind. Satisfying destructive curiosities will not increase the happiness in your marriage or in your life.

I have never once indulged in the curiosity about what it would be like to kiss another woman, to hold hands with another woman, or to make love to another woman since the day I fell in love with and committed my heart, soul, and eternity to my wife. And I never will.

Curiosity didn't kill the cat. Indulging in curiosity killed the cat. Don't destroy your spouse's trust in you. Keep your curiosity in check; don't kill your marriage.

Friday, December 19, 2014

What Are YOU Thinking About This Christmas Season

"The actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts." 
-John Locke (1632-1704)



What are you thinking about this Christmas season?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

3 Distinct Varieties of Mistletoe You Probably Haven't Heard Of

You know the tradition with mistletoe, right? If two people are standing under it they're supposed to kiss. It's a great tradition, especially when you're single.

I really enjoyed it that first Christmas Cami and I were married. Reminiscing about it now I think our ceiling must have been made out of mistletoe. Suffice it to say, it was a good Christmas season.

After that it was still fun to have the mistletoe "hung where [we] can see" it but since we can kiss each other whenever we want, and we take full advantage of that privilege, mistletoe just wasn't as big of a deal. It became just another holiday decoration.

That is until we discovered that there is more than one kind of mistletoe. So far we have discovered three.

The first kind is the traditional mistletoe. This mistletoe entitles those standing under it to one, normal kiss. It's what hangs in the majority of homes during the Christmas season.

The second kind of mistletoe is "make-out mistletoe." When two people get caught under it they are entitled, and expected, to participate in a make out session. Use this mistletoe sparingly and place it carefully in your home. If you have teenagers you may not want to even bring it out until they have moved out.

The third kind of mistletoe is "french mistletoe." You probably guessed it. If you're standing under french mistletoe you are entitled to share a piece of french toast with your companion (were you thinking something else?).

Cami and I prefer make-out mistletoe. It's especially fun once the kids are in bed.

What kind of mistletoe is hanging in your home this Christmas?

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