God’s Got This!

Tanaka and dog

I have never had a pet before.  I really did not want to own one either.  Over a week ago, I lost the battle against my wife’s desire to own a pet.  My two girls wanted a pet, as well.  Outnumbered 3 to 1, I gave in.  “Happy wife, happy life,” they say!  My wife brought home a beautiful, Chihuahua puppy.  My wife wanted to call her “Shine.”  I asked why.  She said all the dogs she owned as a child, were called “Shine.”  My girls and I objected.  My wife picked another name – “Buttercup!”  Beautiful name, we all agreed. I watched my wife lovingly take Buttercup for little walks outside.  The girls’ eyes lit up when they held Buttercup.  It looked like I was fast fading away from the picture.  All the attention was going to Buttercup.  Happy wife, happy life.

We started arranging the house to accommodate our latest family member.  We took pictures posing with Buttercup.  My wife purchased dog food, little toys, blankets, and all that was necessary to make Buttercup comfortable.  My family was happy.  I was happy that the family was happy.

By Sunday night, the mood in the house was slowly changing.  Buttercup was not eating much.  Buttercup was throwing up, and no longer running around the house like she had been doing. My wife was unhappy.  I could see the glow in her eyes slowly get dim.  By Monday morning, Buttercup just lay in her little bed.  My wife took Buttercup to the vet.  The news was not pleasant, at all.  My wife was unhappy.  She was very sad.

Late in the day, I received the news Buttercup had died.  My wife was sobbing.  The girls were mourning the death of their little friend – Buttercup.  Buttercup had been in our house for only 8 days.  Yet, Buttercup had brought sunshine and joy onto the faces of my family.  She was gone now.  I had to become the consoling husband and father.  I must admit, I was hurt, too.  I was sad for and with them. Unhappy wife, unhappy life.  Or is it?

Who knew we could get attached to a puppy in just 8 days?  Who knew I could feel so sad for losing a dog?  What do you do when you get attached to someone or something, and then it is soon taken away from you?  How do we move on?  Praise God for His presence.  God knew this all along.  God is with us always.  He never leaves us or forsakes us.  He is Immanuel – God with us.  No matter what you go through.  No matter what challenges you are facing, God is there to console and bless you.  You are never alone.  Cheer up.  God’s got this!  “Sorrow last but for a night, Joy comes in the morning.”

Happy wife happy life.  I want to propose this instead, Joyful wife; joyful life.  You see, it is our joy that matters not our happiness.  Happiness is dependent on happenings and circumstances.  Joy is God in us, regardless of the conditions.  We may have lost Buttercup, but it is God who provides and butters our bread.  Our cup runs over! God’s got this.

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How to Strengthen Your Relationships

My wife and I celebrate 16 years of marriage on April 24, 2015.  It is amazing to think how fast the time is flying.  Here are a few things we do to strengthen our family relationship

1. Praying. 

Prayer works.  I believe God hears and responds.  If you have a strained relationship, pray.  If your relationships are going sour, pray.  Do not leave the success of your relationships to chance.  God wants to be involved, and to be the center of your marriage, family, friendships.  Will you trust Him with your situation?

2. Talking.

My wife enjoys talking.  I have learned that at the end of the day, she likes to tell me how her hold day went. She often, she does not expect me to solve anything, but to just listen.  I often get in trouble when I respond by saying, “My day was fine.”  She expects me to explain the facts in more detail.  I have learned to look for moments in the day that I can share with her at the end of the day.  We tend to discuss everything from family, politics, work, life, and so forth.  She does not quite enjoy my sports conversations, though.  I believe that good communication keeps any relationship running smoothly.

3. Date nights.

Right before our tenth wedding anniversary, I was invited to do a marriage seminar at a couples’ conference.  I was petrified.  I did not think I had anything to teach people about marriage.  However, as I prepared for the conference, I realized I had learned some important “marriage trade secrets.”  One of the points I made was that taking your spouse on dates keeps the romantic fire ablaze.  However, I was not doing that.  I took my own medicine, and started taking my wife on dates.  Most Mondays, we do not go to work, so we drop the children off at school, and then we go to watch a movie, or spend time at the beach.  These moments have sustained our marriage.

4. Forgiveness.

Most people are too stubborn to ask for forgiveness when they have erred. Others are too stubborn to accept someone else’s pleas for forgiveness. Such stubbornness can lead to bitterness and, eventually, hatred.  No relationship can survive bitterness and hatred.  I tend to be stubborn.  I try to explain myself out of situations, without apologizing.  As I get older, I am learning that this invalidates the feelings of others.  I am learning it is better to make amends sooner than later.  Most times, I end up saying, “Sorry” anyway.  Why not say it before I lose much?  A successful relationship is one that it is made up of people who know that humans err, and humans need to forgive each other to maintain the relationships.

5. Life together.

A few years ago, I was running on fumes.  I was emotionally tired.  Yet, I took pride in showing people my packed calendar.  I boasted about the vacations I never took.  My pride and identity was in my work.  I ended up in the emergency room.  The doctor prescribed rest, among other things!  Since then, every January, my wife and I plan our four weeks of vacation.  We purchased a camper.  Two weeks out of the year, we go camping, as a family.  We take all our vacations together.  I believe our relationships will continue to grow stronger as we spend quality time together. I know many couples who take vacations separately.  There are some couples or families that dread spending one or two holidays together, as they always end up fighting.  I am grateful for my relationships.

In Preparation for the Zimbabwe Mission Trip Fundraiser on Saturday

ZMT

Rummage Sale and Car Wash

I am excited and looking forward to the ZMT car wash and rummage sale scheduled for this Saturday, April 18th from 8:00 a.m.  to 12:00 p.m.

  1. All hands on deck.  We will need everyone to participate to make the fundraiser a success.  Based on past events, we will need much help.  Please recruit your friends and family members to come help.  We cannot do this alone.
  2. Preparation. Please join the ZMT team on Friday, April 17th at 4:00 at the corps to help move all the rummage sale items into the Senior Nutrition.
  3. Start early.  Since the fundraiser starts at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, it will be prudent for everyone to be here at the corps as early as 7:00 a.m.
  4. Cash box. We will have cash boxes and money bags ready to use on Saturday.  As usual, we ask that you be very vigilant and aware of your surroundings.  The team’s safety is very important.
  1. We have put up a notice on Craigslist. On Saturday morning, we will post simple, effective Yard Sale/Car Wash signs around the corps neighborhood.
  1. Petty cash.  We will have some change ready on Saturday morning.  We will have $5s, $1s, and rolls of quarters.
  2. More items to sell. Please start bringing any other items you might have at home some time this week.  Go through those boxes in the attic, shed, closet or garage and select items we can sell.
  3. Water restrictions. Helix Water District has reminded us to be frugal, and use water wisely.  We are required to only use pressure washers, and/or hoses fitted with nozzles.  The law is expected to change as of May 1st, 2015.  We are safe for this event!
  4. Sell tickets.  Remember, some people might not make it to the fundraiser, but they are willing to donate.  Make sure you sell many tickets.  Spread the word through social media, emails, and in person.
  5. Bring your dirty car.  I was going to get my car washed last week.  I was going to pay someone else, but I decided to keep the car dirty so that I can give the money towards this worthy cause.

Let’s have fun.  See you all on Saturday!